By Editorial Staff
Published April 21, 2008
By John Timmerman
Have you noticed that names in the U.S. are given a different importance than names in our Chinese culture? In the U.S. there are many family names, but only a few given names. In China, of course, the reverse is true. Parents and grandparents spend a great deal of time selecting an appropriate given name for a new baby, a name that will express what they hope will be his character and role in life.
The God of the Bible is much like a Chinese parent in that He, too, took great care in selecting a name for His only Son. During December, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of that child, whom His Father named Jesus. In this excerpt from a book by Dr. John Timmerman, we can learn much about Jesus by studying His name.
- Wang Jiapu
What’s in a name?
A name does more than simply identify one among many. Often a name evokes the image of a person, as well as event, hopes, and joys tied to that person. When we call to mind, for example, the name of a childhood friend, suddenly a whole time filled with meaning is called forth in our memory.
What’s in a name? At the name of Jesus, our faith, hope, salvation, and expectation of eternal life are called forth in our thoughts.
Jesus, however, was not such an unusual name in scriptural times. In the Old Testament, Hebrew names such as Joshua, Jehoshua, and Jeshua are simply linguistic variations of Jesus…
While the name itself is fairly common, meaning “God’s salvation” or “God is my help,” the person of Jesus the Messiah is unique, for here in fact is God’s salvation. The name at once emphasizes Jesus’ commonness – He is born the Son of Man, a man among men – and Jesus’ uniqueness. This man Jesus is born to redeem man to eternal life.
The name Jesus was appointed by God for His Son and was so announced by angelic messengers before His birth: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 RSV).
This Jesus is the One who has been looked for, the One who finally comes to fulfill prophecy and expectation, the One whose birth is announced with joy and the acclamation of angels. This Jesus comes as the fulfillment of certain names known to expectant people for centuries: the Rock, the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd. And He comes as the bearer of certain titles – equally familiar – draped about His human shoulders with royal, divine significance: the Messiah, the High Priest, the King, the Son of Man, and Son of God.
William Barclay, the great theologian who has studied the life and work of Jesus in keen detail, says in Jesus As They Saw Him (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdman, 1978):
“It is no accident that our Lord was called by the name Jesus. That name sums up the things which He came into the world to do and which only He can do. He came to be the divine Rescuer who alone can deliver men from the consequences and from the grip of sin; He came to be the divine Physician who alone can bring healing to the bodies and souls of men.”
The Holy Scripture is a resonant proclamation of that great name, Jesus, and the promises it carries for His people.
In His name is power. “If you ask anything in My name,” Jesus says to His disciples and to us, “I will do it” (John 14:14 RSV).
In His name is healing. Demons are cast out in Jesus’ name. The lame run with joy, the blind see. And, in the greatest healing, the dead in Christ are raised to eternal life (John 10:28 RSV).
In His name is joy. “These things I have spoken to you,” says Jesus, “that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11 RSV). Jesus can banish all sorrow, all darkness, if only we ask.
In His name is remission of sins. “Repentance and forgiveness of sins,” says Jesus, “should be preached in [Christ’s] name to all nations” (Luke 24:47 RSV).
In His name there is new life. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31 RSV).
In His name is praise. Jesus has come “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy” (Romans 15:9 RSV). Surely there is promise in the name of Jesus – the very promise of God Himself.
From A Layman Looks at the Names of Jesus, by John Timmerman, © 1985, Tyndale House Publishers. Used with permission.
John Timmerman, Ph.D., is a professor of English at Calvin College. He is the former editor of Christianity and Literature, and the author of several books and articles.
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“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
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A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
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