AGCC Sun. a.m. 3/7/99
"WHAT'S IN A
TEXT: Ex. 20:7 Eph. 1:1-14
How important are names? What kind of images are created when we hear
names like: Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Benedict Arnold, Ted
Bundy, or names like United States of America, Russia, Germany, Africa,
Obviously there is great power in names, they reflect a myriad of images
and ideas in our minds. They identify certain traits or characteristics when
they are names of people groups or nations, they connect us to the past
through our histories. We use names to connect ourselves with others.
In some cases we can bear a name and it gives us power, or we can bear a
name and bring shame on that name.
ILLUS:An Ambassador from the
United States to another country literally represents our nation. An attack on
an ambassador is considered an attack against all Americans, and attack on an
embassy is an attack on the United States. If an ambassador lives shamefully
all America is considered in the same way, if an ambassador acts with great
character and dignity, Americans are perceived this way also. An ambassador
NEVER speaks for the United States without checking first with our government
so that what they say is clearly what America says. This is true also when we
call ourselves "Christian" - we bear Christ's name Do our actions and speech
show that we bear it in vain or in victory?
When the 3rd commandment says, "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord
your God in vain…" it is NOT speaking about unbelievers who use God's name in
cursing, it is speaking about God's people failing to represent His name
correctly by their lifestyle!PROP.
SENT:The Bible teaches us that we reflect the name of God to this
world like ambassadors, and that failure to represent Him faithfully in the way
that we live or speak means misusing His name.
I. ACCEPTANCE Ex. 20:7
A. Responsibilities of His Name 20:7a
1. Israel had been asked to accept God's name, they were to be "called
by my name says the Lord."
a. To "bear" His name was to also accept the responsibilities to
represent His name to the world.
b. This is the point in this commandment, that they NOT misuse His
name by misrepresenting it to others.
2. This is still true for those of use who today "bear" Christ's name
ILLUS:"What other people think of
me is becoming less and less important; what they think of Jesus because of me
is critical." - Cliff Richards (1940- )
3. When Israel accepted God's covenant, they accepted the
responsibility to correctly represent Him to the world.
a. They were not to be ashamed of His name.
b. They were not to malign it either.
c. They were to uphold His name, a people called by His
ILLUS:The daughter of our pastor
was asked to give the closing prayer at her high school graduation. A Jewish
student was asked to give the opening prayer. The principal asked our pastor's
daughter if she would refrain from using the name of Christ in her prayer,
"lest someone of other faiths be offended." She replied she would be glad to
omit Christ's name from her closing prayer if the Jewish student would mention
Christ's name in his opening prayer, "so that I and those of my faith not be
offended." She was allowed to give her prayer as originally planned. --
Carolyn Copeland, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 4.
4. Do we uphold His name responsibly in our lives?
B. Revering His Name 20:7b
1. God does hold us responsible for the use or misuse of His name.
2. God's name can literally be rebuked or revered on the basis of our
life and lifestyle, the witness of our life!
ILLUS:At the end of World War I,
Herbert Hoover, later to become President of the United States, led the allied
relief efforts in Europe. He kept hundreds of thousands from starving, and a
new word entered the Finnish language. In Finland, to "hoover" means "to be
kind, to help." If someone coined a word from your name, what would it be? --
Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing
3. It is not as much the sinner that God takes to task for cursing His
name as much as it is when His people called by His name misuse it, then
we are the ones to use profanity, we profane his name when we don't revere
it through our lives.
4. Too often we have cringed at unbelievers who use God's name as an
expression of cursing, but how much more damaging is it when a believer
maligns God's name by his actions and attitudes!
a. Remember that these commandments were not given to unbelievers,
they were given to God's people.
b. If we get so offended by people using God's name loosely in
conversations, maybe we should become very upset when we see ourselves
as Christians live or act in such a way as to bring reproach on the name
5. A faithful believer can literally induce a sense of reverence for
God's name in unbelievers if their lives reflect this reverence in word
a. Most people won't curse around a real Christian if they know them
for the way they have revealed God in their lives.
b. If however we don't accurately reflect God in our lives no amount
of telling people not to curse with God's name will stop them from doing
II. ADOPTION Eph. 1:1-14
A. Receiving His Name 1:1-5
1. Paul uses the concept of Roman adoption to express the importance
of God's people being called by His name when we get saved.
a. What happens when adoption takes place?
b. The child takes on the name of the parents who adopt him/her so
that their standing in the world makes them as much a part of that name
as any natural born child.
2. Amazingly, when we get saved we get God's name!
a. Even though we may still be flawed people, we are now called by a
new name in Christ!
b. Our new name is grander that our old life, in fact, sometimes it
may seem that our new name doesn't match our scarred life!
ILLUS:A newspaper ad read:
"Lost--one dog. Brown hair with several bald spots. Right leg broken due to
auto accident. Left hip hurt. Right eye missing. Left ear bitten off in a dog
fight. Answers to the name "Lucky." - James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited
(Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 100.
c. While our lives are scarred with sin, and experiences at times
have left us broken, we are now in Christ called by His great
3. Just like a child that is adopted, it isn't that we deserved it,
but God so loved us that He called us unto Himself, and when we respond
with faith to receive Him we also receive His name!
B. Representing His Name 1:6-11
1. Now that we bear His name, we must not "bear it in vain!"
a. To falsely represent His name is to break the 3rd commandment!
b. The way people will feel about God may largely come from the way
we represent Him to the world!
ILLUS:The number one cause of
atheism is Christians. Those who proclaim God with their mouths and deny Him
with their lifestyles is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable.
-- Karl Rahner, quoted in the Wittenburg Door (June/July l988). Christianity
Today, Vol. 34, no. 8.
2. Imagine what a tragedy to the name "LINCOLN" would have occurred if
Todd Lincoln had grown up and become a slave owner and slave trader, or if
George Washington's son had become a commander in the British Army after
3. Do people identify us with God, has the blood of Christ changed our
very nature so much that others clearly connect us with the God whose name
we are suppose to bear?
4. If the blood of Christ has cleansed us from our sins those in this
world should notice a real difference.
ILLUS:We have all heard people of
royalty referred to as "blue bloods." The reason is this. Long ago they were
waited on continually and got little exercise. The lack of physical exertion
made their blood cool; it lacked oxygen induced by exercise. When the veins
showed through their skin, it appeared that the blood was pale blue.
Christians constitute a spiritual aristocracy, and that is also due to blood.
Revelation 1:5, 6 (KJV) says that Jesus washed us in his blood and made us
kings. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard
Publishing Company, 1997)
a. Can we be identified by the blood we bear too?
b. Does the world clearly see God's name stamped in our lives?
c. Paul says that we have redemption through His blood (1:7) and can
therefore declare His grace and forgiveness even through the way we
5. Didn't Jesus teach His disciples to pray this way: "Our Father, who
is in heaven, HALLOWED (or Holy) is your NAME."
a. We must not only pray that His name is holy, we must practice
b. When we practice it we preach it and therefore properly represent
God's name to the world.
C. Results Of His Name 1:12-14
1. When we have received His name the result is that we receive a
"down payment" or "engagement ring" pointing to even greater promises yet
a. The meaning of the term, "deposit" (NIV) or "earnest" (KJV)
represents the idea of a pledge, such as a pledge to be married. In fact
the Greek word (arrhabon) translated here in modern Greek is the word
for "engagement ring."
b. The Holy Spirit's presence in our life today is God's pledge of
even greater things to come since we now bear His name.
ILLUS: A benevolent person gave
Mr. Rowland Hill a hundred pounds to dispense to a poor minister a bit at a
time, thinking it was too much too send him all at once. Mr. Hill forwarded
five pounds in a letter, with only these words within the envelope, "More to
follow." In a few days' time, the good man received another letter; this
second messenger contained another five pounds, with the same motto, "And more
to follow." A day or two after came a third and a fourth, and still the same
promise, "And more to follow." Till the whole sum had been received, the
astonished minister was made familiar with the cheering words, "And more to
follow." Every blessing that comes from God is sent with the same message,
"And more to follow." "I forgive you your sins, but there's more to follow."
"I justify you in the righteousness of Christ, but there's more to follow." "I
adopt you into my family, but there's more to follow." "I educated you for
heaven, but there's more to follow." "I give you grace upon grace, but there's
more to follow." "I have helped you even to old age, but there's still more to
follow." "I will uphold you in the hour of death, and as you are passing into
the world of spirits, my mercy shall still continue with you, and when you
land in the world to come there shall still be more to follow." -- Charles
Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc,
2. Now that we bear His name and have our "engagement ring" we can
look forward to the ultimate reality of living with Him forever!
a. The result of bearing His name is our looking forward to the day
when we are returned to our real home!
ILLUS: An engagement ring that
fell into the sea off the west coast of Sweden almost two years ago found its
way back to its owner. The ring was consumed by a mussel that was caught by
fisherman Peder Carlsson. Carlsson was able to return the ring to its owner
because its owner, Agneta Wingstedt, had her name engraved on the inside. If
we belong to Christ and bear his name, we will be reunited with him one day.
-- Parade (12/26/96). Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4.
b. Since we no longer bear an earthly name but a heavenly one our
residence will one day change also.
3. Have we been more concerned about how we have kept the 3rd
commandment or more concerned about how an unbeliever may use God's name
4. Do you see results of His name in your life, how about family, your
neighbors and friends, even your enemies?
CONCLUSION: It is not
the unbeliever that breaks the 3rd commandment "not to take the Lord's name in
vain" - it is Christians who fail to represent God's name properly who then bear
His name in vain! If we call ourselves "Christian" then our lifestyle must
reflect God's life correctly or we "bear it in vain." Are you breaking the 3rd