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signatures on the Declaration of Independence November 12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Acts 3, 4, 5

What’s in a Name?

We name our children. We name our pets. We name our sports teams. We name our businesses, churches, or other organizations and we use them in all types of advertising. We put names on T-shirts, ball caps and all kinds of clothing. We put them on our vehicles. What’s in a name anyway? Sometimes nothing, but most of the time a name represents something.

A name can be very significant. For instance, when we say put your “John Hancock” on this piece of paper, we mean write your name on an important document. We then remember that John Hancock was once a very famous person who penned his name in very large letters on the Declaration of Independence. Billy Graham is a name known around the world, and with it we recognize his reputation as a great gospel preacher with integrity. There is, however, someone more famous. From the first century until today Jesus Christ has been the name known around the world.

Common people loved Jesus. He was kind, and he miraculously fed thousands of people, healed their sick and raised their dead. They loved his teaching and how he confounded the religious leaders by his wisdom and insight. He offered them forgiveness for their sins and eternal spiritual life, if they would trust that God sent him into the world to save them from their sins.

The Jewish leaders, however, hated him. He was a threat to their traditions and their leadership of the Jewish nation. They thought when he died a death of crucifixion on a Roman cross that they were through with him, and his name would die with him. Much to their consternation, however, Jesus arose three days later. Then, after forty days of resurrection sightings, suddenly Jesus was gone. The religious leaders hoped that would be the end of hearing Jesus' name, but the Jesus movement continued. A strange working of the Spirit enabled men to speak in other languages and Christianity spread. This was now a greater threat than when Jesus was alive on earth. Now it was not only Jesus who was doing miracles, but his disciples were doing them as well. More and more people joined the disciples of Jesus; the number grew to over 5,000 in a very short time (Acts 4:4).

The religious leaders wanted the movement stopped. They sought out Peter and John, the new leaders of the Christians, and asked by what power they were doing these miracles. Peter said it was God who gave the power to heal. Peter did the miracles in the name of Jesus, whom they crucified, but whom God raised back to life. He further told them, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved," (Acts 4:12, NIV). The religious leaders did not listen to them but ordered them not to speak anymore in Jesus’ name. Peter and John said they could not do that. They were compelled to obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). After they were released, they kept witnessing and doing miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.

In Acts 3-4 we read how early Christians publicly and boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus and healed in his name. But in chapter 5 we read that God is just as concerned that people honor him privately. Ananias and Sapphira were killed for lying to the Holy Spirit about their giving. They boasted that they gave more than they did, and they did this, apparently, just to look good in the eyes of their fellow believers. Have we ever misrepresented our gifts to the LORD and boasted about it? God is interested that truth be preserved in our inward parts so that his name (reputation) would be respected and honored, not sullied.

After this parenthesis about God’s discipline in the church, the history of the Acts of the Apostles continues. Act 5:17-40 records that once again the Jewish religious leaders were furious about the propagation of the gospel. Their directives to Peter and John not to teach or preach in Jesus’ name were not obeyed. The high priests and Sadducees and their friends were filled with jealousy. They wanted to put Peter and John to death. One popular Pharisee, Gamaliel, calmed them down and made them listen to reason. Still, the religious leaders warned Peter and John to stop speaking in Jesus’ name. Did the disciples listen? No, they rejoiced because they were considered worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ,” (Acts 5:42, NIV).

Lessons to live by:

  • The name of Jesus is connected with his character. You carry the name of Jesus if you are a true Christian.
  • Tell others about salvation in the name of Jesus. There is no other name by which they may be saved. (more...)
  • Live for Christ in your private life and public life. Bring honor to his name.
  • Do not be dissuaded in your Christian service. Pray to do great things in Jesus name for his sake and for his honor and glory, but not for yourself.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (NIV)

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