The Name of Jesus

 •  37 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Among the crowd of interesting thoughts awakened in the soul by the name of Jesus, two present themselves most prominently-Savior and. Lord. Savior and Lord are almost inseparable, and we find them associated, almost necessarily associated, in the preaching of the Apostles. We find them also linked together in our own proper confession. The sanctity of the faith is preserved by maintaining them in unison; lawlessness in the Church leading to lawlessness in the world is the fearful result of the practical severance of Savior and Lord.
The name of Jesus was given on earth and again in heaven. " And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb." But this name so given on earth, is ratified in heaven, as supreme there, after his humiliation even to the death of the cross. " Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow-of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." But the name of Jesus, with all its associated titles, depends for its efficacy on a name not given, but essential. " The only begotten Son" is no given name, it is essential. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." " He that believeth him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
When this essential name was revealed by the Father to Peter, the Lord Jesus not only pronounced Peter blessed in the confession of it, but also pronounced Himself, thus confessed, as " the living stone" on which the Church was founded. The Church, therefore, is set for the confession of the essential glory of the Person of the Son, as well as for the confession of all his given names, titles and glories.
He who by his essential name Jehovah made Himself known to Israel in delivering them out of Egypt, and had made it the special covenant-name in relation to them as a people, now appears again among them, in all lowliness and grace, yet making it known that it was the same "arm of the Lord" which had " cut Rahab and wounded the Dragon;" " which had dried the sea, and the waters of the great deep, and made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over." Thus Jesus visited Israel, but " Israel would none of Him." How often would he have gathered them, as a hen gathereth her chickens, rising up early and sending them prophets; but now, even his own most gracious overtures are rejected.-He Himself was visible among them, yet they believed Him not.-He forgave their sins and healed their infirmities, yet they blessed Him not.-They would not have Him to reign over them.-They saw and hated both Him and His Father.
Israel could accept of no Savior short of Jehovah himself. Was the Jesus then whom Peter preached, and whom Saul blasphemed, the very One who thus speaks:- " Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength; even to Him shall men come, and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory."
Saul, the Pharisee, had once denied this name as belonging to Jesus, and this denial constituted him "a blasphemer." But the Lord of glory appeared to him by the way-and he preached the faith which once he destroyed.
It was the rejected Lord-Jesus of Nazareth-whose name in saving power and rightful Lordship, even as the glorified man, the Apostles preached. " Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." This is properly mediatorial glory; but none could " bear this glory," or even put himself in the condition of acquiring it, but he who had glory essentially belonging to him-even "He who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Israel had rejected "God manifested in the flesh." They discerned mot the glory of His humiliation. Jesus is glorified" the second man, the Lord from heaven," is now owned as the Lord in heaven; and the time shall come when Israel shall thus hail Jesus:-" Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Even as Thomas, the type of Israel in the latter day, who will believe only when they see " my Lord and my God."
It was an ancient oracle to Israel, that there was a day coming, great and terrible, and only one way of escape. " Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Joel 2:3232And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32); Acts 2:2121And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)). The testimony of Peter after Pentecost, was to identify that name with Jesus; to prove the power of the name of Jesus as Savior and Lord-Savior, because He was the Lord Savior to all who acknowledged Him as Lord once crucified, but now glorified; this was the great point at issue between Peter and the Jewish rulers. Thus in Acts 3 " Silver and gold" (says Peter) " have I none; but such as I have, give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." The multitude might indeed ignorantly gaze on the instruments of such beneficent power, but only to bring out more fully the name of Jesus. " Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk!... His name, through faith in His name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know." This testimony to the name of Jesus gives offense-the Apostles are arraigned before " the rulers, and elders and scribes", and asked, " By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, replies" Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead;... neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The rulers could not deny the miracle wrought on the impotent man at the beautiful gate of the temple: but they " commanded the Apostles not to speak at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus." But the Apostles were set for the confession of the saving power of that name, and they cry to the Lord " for boldness to speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus." This controversy as to the present power of the name of Jesus between the Apostles and Jewish rulers, is continued throughout the fourth and fifth chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. " The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins; and we are His witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him." This double witness the Lord had spoken of during His ministry. " But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning." The Apostles were unimpeachable witnesses of the facts of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and of His ascension-witnesses also in their own souls' experience, and by the very acts of which they were the instruments, to the present power of His name as Savior and Lord; and the Holy Ghost come down from heaven was witness also of the exaltation of the name of Jesus in heaven as Savior and Lord.
Before the calling out of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, that which characterized the disciples, was that they called upon the name of the Lord. The name " Christian" was not as yet known. A certain class of Jews in Judea and Jerusalem, and in distant cities, were separated from their brethren by acknowledging Jesus as Lord, and rendering to Him worship, by calling on His name. This distinguished them. This saved them " from the untoward generation." " Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he 'lath done to thy saints at Jerusalem, and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name." And when Ananias goes to Saul, he thus addresses him:-" The Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou earnest, has sent me." " But Barnabas took him (Saul) and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to Him, and how He had preached boldly in the name of Jesus." When the Apostle Paul speaks of himself it is as separated unto the Gospel of God, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name. When he writes to others, it runs thus:-" Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that, in every place, call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."
These Scriptures sufficiently show the inseparable connection between Savior and Lord in the testimony of the Apostles to Jesus. Our confession runs thus:-" If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation for the Scripture saith, " Whosoever believed]. in Him shall not be ashamed... for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him-for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Our confession is unto the Lordship of Jesus, as well as unto salvation in his name. It is our present blessing, being made willing by his grace to own Jesus as Savior and Lord-and what misery is in store for unbelievers, to have the unwilling confession extorted from them that " Jesus Christ is Lord," when the acknowledgment is only to hear sentence of judgment from his lips. Jesus is Lord of all; but there is a specialty of Lordship in which the church owns him, when she owns him as "our Lord Jesus Christ." It is the acknowledgment of the endearing, claim he has upon her as having saved her. He has " bought her with a price." This is His new claim of Lordship.-The Church owns Him as Lord of all; but she also owns him as Her Lord-the Lord who hath bought her, and thus confesses that she is not her own but his. He is her Lord, and she worships him. It is on this plea, besides his rightful title to universal obedience, that He claims her obedience.-" If ye love me, keep my commandments." What blessed harmony do we thus find in the name of Jesus between Savior and. Lord.
The severance of salvation from Lordship is the introduction of the worst form of evil. When Jude had to write of " the common salvation," and to exhort the disciples earnestly to contend for the faith " once delivered unto the saints," the principle of corruption is stated as being in the separation of Salvation from Lordship-,-a form of evil exactly suiting the corrupt selfishness of man. " The grace of our God was turned into lasciviousness," and the deity and Lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ was denied; and in this way contempt of all authority was introduced even into the world..
The confession of the Church unto Jesus as Savior and Lord, is most happily illustrated in the disciples coming together in one place to eat the Lord's supper. The Church acknowledges Jesus as a present Savior, as a present Lord; and this exactly answers to the very constitution of the Church, for it is the Lord who adds to the Church such as are saved. He saves, and as Lord He adds to the Church; for He is Lord of the Church and in the Church. He is " Lord of all," although the world knows Him not; but the Church acknowledges, that " all power in heaven and earth is given unto Him." The title for "the saved" to meet together is the name of Jesus-the same name is the title for them to act, and when they so act they practically acknowledge that all power on earth, as well as in heaven, is given to him. They act as thus associated in this name as truly as the judge and magistrate act in the name of the sovereign who has delegated to them his power.
The idea of meeting together " simply as Christians," is often very bare and defective, and almost appears to make a party of Christians socially assembled to stand on the same ground as the Church in her most solemn public acts. It has pleased the Lord, for his name is " gracious," to allow us liberty in many respects. He will not exact, for he " loveth a cheerful giver," and is pleased to say to us-" Whilst it remained, was it not thine own?" He has not put a rigid restriction on us as to social intercourse, because he would leave room for the exercise of spiritual sense and charity. If any of them that believe not bid you, and ye be disposed to go." It was one disciple only that "leaned on the bosom of Jesus," thus showing by his own example that we are permitted to have our Christian intimacies and friendships. The social principle is indeed very prominent in the Church, but it is balanced by two others, one of equal and the other of paramount importance, namely, liberty and conscience, so that there may be direct individual responsibility to the Lord. When man forms an association, it is his object to centralize everything, so that liberty and conscience are alike disregarded. If such a human element is brought into the Church, it necessarily renders the Church irresponsible. But the social principle in the Church necessarily implies both corporate and individual responsibility to the Lord, because her association and her acts are in the name of the Lord. When disciples come together to break bread, it is around the Lord's table they are gathered-they eat together the supper of the Lord-they show forth the Lord's death till he come. That we are of the blood-bought family is our title; but then the Lord's title is to be acknowledged. It is the Lord who bids the guests, spreads the table, and orders the feast. This 'is not left in the power of the guests; and this we have very specially to acknowledge, for it is written for our instruction, that on the failure of the Saints to maintain the order of the table, the Lord sheaved himself in chastening judgment (1 Cor. 11). To meet together for the Lord's supper on our title of being saved by the blood of the Lamb, without owning the title of Jesus to be obeyed as Lord, would at once place us on the verge of the precipice so fearfully portrayed in Jude, and the neglect of discipline in the Church would thus lead the way to lawlessness in the world.
The Lord has been pleased to constitute the Church His court, as that in which He now presides in judgment. The church is the only present sphere in which judgment is exercised. Those " within" become amenable to judgment, whilst as to the world, its judgment is yet future. The saints now gathered together, those who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice, are those among whom He at present acts judicially. " God is judge Himself" (Psa. 1.) " The Lord adds to the church the saved." And when the Church, not infallibly as the Lord, but according to the measure of her spiritual mind, accredits one as saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, she receives him, because Christ has received him; whatever his previous life may have been. There may be hesitation, as there was in the case of Saul at Jerusalem, they believed not that he was a disciple; " But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way; and He was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem." In this respect the Church responds to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, by acting simply in grace. But the act of grace which has brought from the world (" without") to the church (" within"), at once set the person, so brought, in the place where he is amenable to judgment. So that when one went from one city to another, he would have so to speak to carry his credentials with him. " And when he (Apollos) was disposed to pass (from Ephesus) into Achaia, the brethren wrote exhorting the disciples to receive him." It was thus happily that the unity of the body was preserved. A Jew, a native of
Alexandria, in Africa, receiving the first rudiments of the knowledge of Christ by the baptism of John,-comes to Ephesus, in Asia, and is there more perfectly instructed in " the way of the Lord" by a private Christian and his wife, and then passes into Achaia, in Europe, and there " helped them much which had believed through grace."
Circumstances of themselves would have forbidden intercourse, rather would have nullified the very thought of it, but there was a power in activity above circumstances-for "unity of the Spirit" is independent of' circumstances, and is based on, and maintained by, that which is essential. "One Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all." We need not wonder at the difficulties in the way of preserving a unity to which all circumstances are adverse, and which can only be maintained by living faith in that which is unseen. The sources of discord in the early church were both of Jewish and Gentile origin. But the Apostle designates both these forms of error under one term-" rudiments or elements of the world" (see Gal. 4.3-4; Col. 2:8-208Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 18Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Colossians 2:8‑20)). The same sources of discord have marked the whole history of the church. There has ever been the tendency to revert to the Law in its principle as the regulator both of the morals and worship of the saints, and to make human wisdom the exponent of divine revelation. Both, in a variety of forms, have been found subversive of the unity of the Spirit; for unity of the Spirit can alone be maintained by a holy jealousy for essentials instead of eager contention about circumstantials. That which leads into the last form of wickedness, which brings oh the swift judgment of God, is the denial of " our most holy faith.' One peculiar Characteristic of Apostolic teaching is the notice given of the danger of the faith being corrupted from many quarters. It was a great thing for one Apostle to be able to say, " I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith."
It must have occurred to almost every reflecting Christian the increased difficulty of walking as becometh saints, now that a great professing body, arrogating to itself all the claims of the church of God, is settled and acknowledged. This body has been formed by the church receiving into herself " the elements of the world," and by the world using for its own ends anything which availed in the church, "considering that gain is godliness." The result is, that the very idea of what the church essentially is has been lost, and that the world has been raised in its moral tone; and thus conventional righteousness, in other words public opinion, has immense and unsuspected influence in forming our thoughts and judgments. It may easily be conceived, that in every revival in the church, in other words, when at any time by the special action of the Holy Ghost a few, in the midst of general declension, have been led back to the essential principles of the church, that they must necessarily have discovered the immense difference between the conventional standard of the professing body, and " righteousness and true holiness." Such righteousness and holiness is according to the knowledge of the truth, and will be found not only immeasurably above the conventional standard, but often to traverse it, so that those who assert it will be regarded as troublers of Israel. Such has been the estimate of the few by the many in every instance in which God, by the energy of His Spirit, has in any wise disturbed the order of the world, even though it be the religious world. The interference of God Himself, with anything which man has arranged, is never tolerated.
Whenever by the power of truth received into the soul through the teaching of the Spirit, Christians have been led " to live soberly, godly, and righteously in this present world," there has always been the danger of antagonism to formal religion taking the place of faith; and thus room made for carnal weapons: or, on the other hand, freedom from the restraint of opinion being asserted as a principle, instead of resulting from present faith in God. This is sure to lead into inconsistencies and improprieties which cause the truth to be evil spoken of, so that the saints are again turned back to the maintenance of their own character, and the very power which brought the blessing is thus lost sight of altogether. It is no longer faith exercised on essentials which are in Christ Jesus, leading into a heavenly path and gracious separation from the world, but saints occupied about their own character and credit in the eyes of men; and thus unconsciously reduced again to the conventional standard of righteousness. It is the old error beginning " in the spirit, but seeking to be made perfect by the flesh." This alone accounts for the constant tendency in the minds of Christians to separate faith and morals; and having so separated them, although in truth not separable, to be more anxious for the purity of morals than for the purity of the faith. There is an accredited standard of morals in the professing body, but the standard of the sanctuary, where everything is seen according to God, is only known by those who have the Spirit. In the sanctuary we learn both the cause of, and the remedy for, the declension. And judged there, declension in morals will be found to have originated in some departure from the faith; and the remedy is to lead hack the soul to the Lord Himself. It is the giving to Him his due place, and the assertion of His honor wherein He has been dishonored, which is the spring of godly conduct. Whenever the saints themselves become their own object, so that their own character becomes their anxiety, it will invariably be found that all things are measured by the conventional standard; and thus insidiously the way is prepared for the very worst form of evil, the unity of Christians among themselves, even at the expense of the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen in the past history of the Church the result, in a unity, apart from every essential of unity of the Spirit—a unity in form, not in power; a unity in death, not in life; a unity which the confession of Christ as only Savior and only Lord, the fountain of all grace and the head of all power, necessarily invaded. The Church is properly " the pillar and ground of the truth"; she is founded on the truth, and set for confession to the truth; and her confession is to Jesus as " the truth," and to Him very especially as Savior and Lord.
But the question may arise, Is it possible for Christians to act on Church principles, torn as the Church is by divisions within, and identified as she is with the world?
Can Christians attempt to act otherwise than in individual faithfulness? Must not the attempt to exercise godly discipline, however desirable, be abandoned as hopeless, because Christians are, by the overwhelming power of circumstances, unable to act corporately, unless they act sectarianly? Are these things so?
We know that Christians do meet together. Is, then, such a meeting merely a voluntary association on their parts, or is it in the name of the Lord? They are not prepared to abandon the Lord's Supper, which by its very nature is a social act. The Lord has spread a table not for an individual saint, but for saints collectively. " And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take—eat; this is my body. And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission. of sins." " And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread." That many a believer has received blessing to his own soul by using the Lord's Supper as a means of his individual communion is most true; but this is no valid argument against the social character of the institution. Now, unless Christians are prepared to say that, when they come together into one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, but merely a comely regulation of their own, they must, by so doing, allow that they act in so meeting together with the full sanction of the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the Church, in its best times, and under far more healthy circumstances, had only the same power and authority for their meeting together. And meeting together in that name, they could act also in that name.
Blessed be God for His pitiful grace, that we are not left to the alternative either of surrendering our blessings as saints, or of acting " Every man as it seemeth good in his eyes." " All things are possible to him that believeth." Circumstances may alter, but our essential blessings remain untouched, because not left in our own keeping. We have the same Lord; and if He has receded farther from the Camp, faith is able to find. Him. It is true that when corruption has set in, the word is addressed to us individually-" He that hath an ear, let him hear." This indeed nullifies the expectation of corporate reformation, and sets faith in individuals in activity, without waiting, for associates. But individual obedience speedily and necessarily leads to union, because the individuals are led to the same object. If Moses, by faith, discovered that the Lord could no longer be in the Camp, where the calf had been made and worshipped, and therefore " pitched the Tabernacle without the Camp, afar off from the Camp" -not only did Moses there find special intercourse with Jehovah, but " Every one which sought the Lord went out unto the Tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the Camp." It was indeed the Tabernacle of the congregation-the place where each faithful Israelite sought the Lord, and the place where the faithful met each other.
A common object necessarily associates; and if the object be the Lord Jesus Christ, association around Him will be a holy association. If it be confession unto His name, the owning Him in the glory of His Person, and in every title which was denied to Him in the days of His flesh, and the practical acknowledgment of Him in all that which is now virtually denied to Him by corrupted Christianity; if such confession leads into association, then is that association formed on the very same basis as that on which the Church is constituted. Such an association is therefore in a capacity to act as the Church at large should act. Faith in the name of Jesus was the alone power and warrant of action in the Church, undivided and in unity, and faith in the same name is the warrant and power of action for the feeblest possible minority in the midst of declension and corruption.
We recognize the competency of the Church of Corinth to act, but this was the only validity of their commission to act. " In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my Spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ." They might not act in their own name, they might not act simply as believers associated together, but as believers associated together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They did not require the presence of the Apostle to give validity to their action. He was present with them in spirit, on the same common ground as any other believer, because of the unity of the Spirit. It is very possible that the case is recorded to illustrate the character of the order and discipline of the house of God. The Apostle did tell them authoritatively to maintain the order of the house of God, but the action was not to be his, but theirs in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. So also when he had to stir up their pity to the penitent offender, as lie had previously to kindle their indignation against such grievous sin, he says, " Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many, so that contrariwise ye ought to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore, I beseech you, that ye would confirm your love towards Him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ, lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." Here the action of the Apostle followed the action of the Church of Corinth. They acted and he ratified their act in the person of Christ, thus illustrating the order of the Lord in the Church-that the binding and loosing in heaven should follow on the binding and loosing on earth. The spring of the action of the Church on earth must flow from the grace, really, though secretly, supplied from the fullness of the Head of the Church in heaven, but the action itself of discipline, is first in the Church on earth, and then ratified in heaven. It was neither the authority of an Apostle, nor any contingency of present judgment on the offender, which gave validity to the act, but the name of Him in whom the act was done. If in the case of the incestuous Corinthian, the sentence of the Church was followed by grievous bodily sickness, which was removed on the reversal of the sentence, it is no more a proof that such a sentence must be followed by such consequences, than that the quickening power of the Holy Ghost giving faith now to a palsied man, should necessarily be followed by vitality communicated to his limbs. Our blessedness is to see not and yet believe.
The present Lordship of Jesus, disowned of the world, is that which the Holy Ghost enables us to own-for no one can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost. Jesus is present in the Church by the Holy Ghost, the other Comforter. If believers then use the promise of the Lord, in the present sense of weakness, as their only title to pray unitedly, and to warrant an expectation of answer to their prayers-if it be not the outward manifestation of power, but the life communicated from their living Head, and the prevailing power of that name in which their prayers are offered, which gives them confidence;-if the hearts of the feeblest few are warmed and encouraged by the gracious promise, " Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven; for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them:" if this promise can be brought to bear at the very point where individuality ends, and association begins-for thus low has the gracious Lord brought it-then has the Church of the living God still the power of discipline; because its action is valid on the very ground that united prayer is acceptable and answered. " Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." To deny the power of discipline, because the Church is broken and disjointed, without either manifested power or unity, is to deny ourselves for the like reason the privilege of united worship. But, blessed be God, the name of Jesus is of the same efficacy as ever. We, by His grace, look to that name alone for salvation; that name both sanctions and gladdens any assembly of saints, be it large or small; surely, then, faith in the same name will enable the saints so to act as to preserve the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints, and the holiness which becometh the house of the Lord. It is not the thought of authority, but the liveliness of conscience for the honor of Christ, which leads to discipline. Association has a natural tendency to blunt conscience, and the Apostle had to awaken the sleeping conscience of the Corinthians; when that was done, discipline was but the healthiness of spiritual life. They were more angry with themselves for their insensibility to the honor of the Lord, than with the offender (2 Cor. 7:1111For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:11)).
The recognition of the Lordship of Jesus, acting in present power by the Holy Ghost in the Church, can alone set an assembly of Christians practically on the ground of Church action. So far as they are assembled in truthfulness of confession unto Him, so far in principle do they occupy the place of " pillar and ground of the truth;' and one sure characteristic is a holy jealousy to maintain sound doctrine (1 Tim. 3:15-16; 4:115But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:15‑16)
1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Timothy 4:1)
Christians may come together by voluntary compact, even though it be in one place and for the Lord's Supper; yet the word may apply-" When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper." They came together without any due regard to -Jesus as the provider of the supper, and the regulator of the order of His table. If Solomon could regulate every department of his household, so that when his illustrious visitor saw " the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance Of his ministers.... there was no more spirit in her," surely He who is greater than Solomon is to be acknowledged as alone competent to arrange the order of His own table. We meet together at " the Lord's table" to eat " the Lord's Supper," and to tell forth to one another, and to strangers who may look on, " the Lord's death till He come."
The connection of ministry with the name of Jesus may be very suitably noticed. " There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord." Every gift of the Spirit necessarily implies direct responsibility to the Lord for its use, because it is a gift of ministry-putting the recipient in the place of a servant to a common Lord-and in grace also (that is, by no right or title of theirs) to the saints, and even to the world. "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." " Though I be free from all, yet have I made myself the servant of all." How important is the recognition of the Lordship of Jesus in ministry may be gathered from his own instructions. When He left this world, the care and order of His house was in great measure entrusted to His servants, but His servants expecting at any hour His return. The character of His servant was to be "faithful" to him, and "wise" in giving to His household the portion of meat in due season. The danger to the servants was entertaining the thought that the Lord might not come at any hour, and so to treat the household as being lords over it themselves. The history of Christendom in clerical usurpation and domination is the too faithful verification of the picture drawn by the Lord of the evil servant. How did " the faithful and wise servants," Peter and Paul, testify against such usurpation-" not as being lords over God's heritage"-" not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy, for by faith ye stand." It was thus that " the faithful servant" never interposed his authority so as to take the saint off the ground of direct responsibility to the Lord himself.
In the assignment of the different talents to the servants " according to their several ability," the account is rendered to the Lord himself on his return. " Lord, thou deliveredst to me five talents." They are his talents, to be traded with for his use. The servant was neither master of the household, nor the servant of the household; if he had acted in either of these characters he would not have been a faithful and responsible servant to the Lord himself of the household. He must own the Lord of the household in the household itself, in carrying out the directions of the Lord in it; and hence the servant entrusted with a talent becomes amenable to the Lord, in the same way as any other member of the household. No ministry, of whatever order, is above the name of the Lord himself, in which He empowers the Church to act collectively. While no one, therefore, as a servant of the Lord, derives his authority from the Church, but from the Lord himself, by which he is placed in immediate and direct responsibility to the Lord-still he, must own the title of the Lord in the Church gathered together in His name, since his special service in the household gives him no exemption from the common order of the household, over which the Lord himself is supreme.
The acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus with regard to ministry, is not only the safeguard against clerical domination, but against the equal danger of leaning on human authority. The Lord Jesus himself was challenged as to the authority by which he acted. He had no human credentials to produce; but his works, words and ways alike attested his divine mission. The Lord answered their challenge by an appeal to their own consciences as to the baptism of John. Divine authority carries its attestation to the conscience. He who is in conscious possession of divine authority will not allow it to be backed by human authority, because the admission of such an authority necessarily implies a responsibility to it, and thus would directly interfere with the use of the talent as being the Lord's talent. If two sources of authority be regarded as co-ordinate-the one from God and the other from man-experience has proved, as in the case of Scripture and tradition, a spiritual gift and human appointment, that the authority of man has superseded that of God, and hence the Lordship of Jesus has been virtually set aside. The principle of not being the servants of men, is most opposite to that of each one doing what is right in his own eyes. " Ye are bought with a price"-ye belong to another Master, even the Lord Jesus-therefore " be ye not servants of men."
Again, the recognition of the Lordship of Jesus in ministry is the safeguard against trading with the talent, for the advantage of the individual entrusted with it, instead of seeking therewith to promote the honor of the Lord. " The Spirit is given to every man to profit withal"-not for his individual profit, neither for his personal elevation, but for common profit. It is the Lord's talent. "In a steward it is required that he should be found faithful." High as an Apostle was officially, and accredited by signs as an Apostle, yet in reference to ministry, he could only take the ground of a responsible servant using the talent entrusted to him. When others regarded him or others as authoritative or irresponsible, he asks-" Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave" to each of them? The Lord used both Paul and Apollos in different ways indeed, but under common responsibility to himself; and they were used by the Lord in that which must have been regarded by them both as of far more importance than themselves individually. " We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry [or tillage] ye are God's building." Their highest honor as fellow-laborers was to be employed in cultivating or building that which peculiarly belonged to God. Their highest honor as individuals was to be themselves part of the tillage, part of the building of God. If Saints, individually or collectively, only thought of magnifying the name of the Lord, what numberless difficulties would be avoided! In the name of Jesus we find salvation; in the same name we find power of action. This name alone keeps us from self-will. The name of Jesus will make the most timid and retiring bold and energetic, when confident of acting only in that name. It can restrain the forward and self-willed who would substitute human influence for divine authority. Surely we can say, " The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him."