Do you like the name your parents chose for you? What name would you choose? God gave his chosen people a new name.
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day…And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said,
Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel…”
Genesis 32 24,27,28.
Thus the nation born of the seed of Abraham received its name. All other peoples were called Gentiles until we enter the book of the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts a new name comes to all people identifying them as born of the Savior of all.
“Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch…
And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
The once derogatory title became a badge of honor, signifying the One believers united with. The new name did not eliminate the origin of physical birth. Israelites remained Israelites and Gentiles, Gentiles. But it united both into a new kingdom under the Savior of all.
In Jesus’s departing words we hear his heart cry for all the world.
“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
But ye shall receive power,
after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
and ye shall be witnesses unto me
both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria,
and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Jesus’s followers would not be left alone for the task at hand. Nor would they go in their own power. Jesus instructed his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father.
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high…Luke 24:49;
For John truly baptized with water,
but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
In the gospel of John, Jesus spoke to his followers concerning this time.
“And I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another Comforter,
that he may abide with you for ever;
even the Spirit of truth;
whom the world cannot receive,
because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him:
but ye know him:
for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
With the Holy Spirit’s coming came the power of God to speak and live the gospel of Christ to all who would hear. His coming brought the power of God unto salvation to all who would believe, beginning in Jerusalem.
With the indwelling Holy Spirit, the once fearful Peter boldly proclaimed the truth of one Savior.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words;
- Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know;
- Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,
- ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
- Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death:
- because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:22-24.
Jews from every nation gathered at Jerusalem for Pentecost and heard these words spoken in their own nation’s tongue. Three thousand heard and believed Peter when he said,
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,
and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
This Power pushed Christ followers into Judea and Samaria as persecution heightened against them. Their message remained the same – one Savior crucified and resurrected.
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them…And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” (8:5,26)
Peter preaches to the Gentiles introducing them to the Savior for all.
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said,
- of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
- But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
- The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee…
- we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem;
- whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
- Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly…
- through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (taken from 10: 34-40).
From this point forward the message of a Savior to all men spread throughout the known world. Paul, being the prominent one now, proclaimed the message as he traveled to Cyprus, Antioch, Philippi, Galatia, Ephesus, and eventually to Rome.
“So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (19:20)
God in his infinite wisdom chose to use weak vessels of flesh to proclaim his salvation through one Savior, Jesus Christ. Why? Others would see the power of God and wisdom of God as the means of salvation and not the strength or wisdom of man.
- “But we preach Christ crucified,
- unto the Jews a stumblingblock,
- and unto the Greeks foolishness;
- But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God…
- That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24,29.
Jesus Christ crucified and risen is the power and wisdom of God. Only by him can a person be saved from the judgment of sin.
“Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
Today, followers of Christ, no matter the denomination, are known by one name, Christian. This name unites us in the body of Christ. We walk in the power, wisdom, and fruit of the Holy Spirit proclaiming the same message as the early Christians.
May our prayer be for the word of God to prevail in the hearts of the people and grow mightily. May it go out in power to the glory of God proclaiming the one Savior, Jesus Christ, who took the judgment of death and gave life in its place for all who will believe.