Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
“. . . bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by MY NAME, whom I created for My glory.”
A. In the West, names are like labels that our parents assign to us. These labels don’t mean anything. They’re just labels that sound nice to the ear. My parents named me David because they liked the sound of it. They wanted something that they thought sounded nice.
In other parts of the world though, and especially in the Middle East, names are very important. In the Middle East names tell us something about a person’s character or their relationship to a deity. This is why so many boys’ names in Muslim countries contain some derivative of the word Mohammad.
We find a similar situation in the pages of the Bible. Names tell us something about a person’s character in relation to Yahweh, the God of Israel. In the Bible, names are actually little sentences. The problem for us in the West is that we translate these little sentences into single words, because they are names, so that these little sentences come across to our ears sounding like a single word.
For instance, in English the name Daniel sounds like one word, Daniel; but in Hebrew, Daniel is actually three words: dan i el. El is one of the Hebrew names for God, while the words dan and i mean “my judge.” Daniel, in Hebrew, means “God is my judge.”
B. As a child, I would hear my parents and teachers call me by a label that meant nothing other than to get my attention. “Come here, David.” “Where are you, David?” “Stop fidgeting, David.” “Do your homework, David.” This word “David” meant nothing to me except that it identified and differentiated me from my other children. It got my attention, but it said nothing about me.
Growing up in Israel, however, every time Daniel heard his name called, he heard something spoken about himself in relation to his God. “Come here, God is my judge.” “Where are you, God is my judge?” “Stop fidgeting, God is my judge.” “Do your homework, God is my judge.”
Daniel grows up learning something about himself in relation to the covenant God of Israel and he learns it simply by hearing his name called.
C. Now, without faith in God, anything that a man learns from his name is going to be cut with lies. I say that, because I don’t want to give anyone the impression that Daniel’s name made him who he was. It didn’t. Instead, because Daniel was one of God’s elect, God did work in Daniel’s mind to teach him something true about Himself and His relationship to Daniel.
D. Names are very important in the Bible. And God takes names very seriously. Let me give you some examples.
And the angel of the LORD said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.”
In the Hebrew, ishma-el is a little sentence that means, “God hears”.
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
In the Hebrew, the words A-bram mean “exalted father”, while the words A-bra-ham mean “father of a multitude”.
Genesis 25:26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob.
In the Hebrew, the word Jacob means “cheater” or “he cheats”. If you will recall, God later changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Israel means “God has conquered.” God has overcome and conquered the cheater.
All these names tell us something about the people or they tell us something about God. Consider the account recorded for us in Genesis chapters 29 and 30. In these two chapters we are given the story of the events which surrounded the births of each of Jacob’s twelve sons (the twelve fathers of the twelve tribes). Each event culminates with the account of how and why their respective mothers, Leah and Rachel, gave specific names name to their children.
Now, if God thinks it important to relate to us this long, drawn out account of how the twelve sons of Jacob got their names, then I’d say He must think it pretty important we know these names.
E. Names are so important that even God has a name. He has many names, in fact. We miss this in our English translations of the Bible, because all of these names are translated as “Lord.” So when we read, “the Lord your God”, or “thus says the Lord”, or “the Lord caused it to do something”, we are reading a Westernized translation of one of these names.
For instance, Yahweh-Jireh (Yira), “the Lord who provides”. This is the God Abraham built an altar to after God provided Abraham with a ram when Abraham had attempted to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
Yahweh-Rohi, “the Lord our Shepherd”. This is the name David used in Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd. The word “Lord” here in Hebrew is Yahweh-Rohi. The Lord our Shepherd is my shepherd. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters.
There are many, many more names, all of them rendered “Lord” in our English translations. One of the most important is El-Gibhor, “Mighty God”. This is the name Isaiah used when he prophesied of the Messiah. The Messiah being El-Gibhor, “Mighty God”.
F. All of these names tell us something about God. They tell us something about His Messiah. When we reach the New Testament, we find names are no less significant than they were in the Old Testament. One of the first things Jesus does upon meeting Peter. He gives Him a new name!
But the most important name in the Bible is the very name of Jesus Himself.
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
and in His NAME the Gentiles will hope.”
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in My NAME, there am I among them.”
Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the NAME of the Lord will be saved.”
1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the NAME of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the NAME of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Philippians 2:8-11 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the NAME that is above every name, so that at the NAME of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Hebrews 1:4 After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as THE NAME he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the NAME of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the NAME of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
G. Jesus has a name. He has a name in the way that the Bible means name. That is, His name tells us something about Him, His character and purpose, about who He is in relation to us and about who He is in relation to God.
Matthew 1:21-23 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Luke 2:21 And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
H. His name is Jesus. The name “Jesus” is a Westernized version of the Hebrew “Yeshua”. Yeshua, again, is a little sentence. It means “God saves.” Jesus means “God saves”. Now, notice that. “God saves”. Not “God might save”, or “God could save”, or “God has made it possible for all or some to be saved”; but rather, God saves. God does indeed save. This is what the angel said, “You shall call His name Jesus, because He WILL save His people from their sins.”
But “God saves” also means it is God who does the saving. The name Jesus does not mean God + man saves. It does not mean God gives His people the power to save themselves. It does not mean with man’s help God saves. Rather, it means God Himself does all the saving, because this is what the Scripture says. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, who shall save His people from their sins, and they (His people) shall call His name Immanuel, which means God is with us.” God, who is with us, saves.
I. Now, some people will say, it’s just a name, David. You are putting way too much emphasis upon it. Am I? Was God putting way too much emphasis upon His name when He commanded Israel, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death”? (Leviticus 24:16) Or when God said to the prophet Isaiah, “Behold, the NAME of the LORD comes from afar, burning with His anger, and in thick rising smoke; His lips are full of fury, and His tongue is like a devouring fire.” (Isaiah 30:27) How about when the Psalmist said, “I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High”? (Psalm 7:17) What about when He said to Isaiah, “But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’”? (Isaiah 43:1) Am I still putting too much emphasis upon Jesus’ name?
Consider another name. The name Methuselah means “at his death it comes”. Methuselah had a grandson. Perhaps you’ve heard of his name. His name was Noah. The very same year Methuselah died, God let fly the arrow of His judgment; the floods came. And if you question whether God meant for an arrow to signify the promise of His judgment, consider the sign He gave to Noah after the waters had receded. A rainbow. A rainBOW. Except now which way is the arrow of God’s judgment pointed?
Methuselah had been the man who had carried in his name the promise of God’s judgment. He was a walking, talking representation of God’s patience. In his name had been the promise that when he dies, judgment comes. Isn’t it interesting then, that in this walking, talking representation of God’s patience, we find a man who lived the longest that any man has ever lived?
Names are important. And God treats them as important.
J. Now, this Jesus, whose name means “God saves” also has a title attached to His name. That title is Christ. Now, here again, Christ is the Westernized translation of the Hebrew word, Messiah. Messiah meaning “Anointed”.
According to the customs of ancient Israel, customs that were set down by God Himself, anointing is something that was done in order to show that a person had been set apart from everyone else for special service to God. When God chose David to be His king over Israel, He sent Samuel to show David that God had set apart David to be the next king over Israel. Samuel did this by pouring oil over David’s head. This is how God set apart priests, prophets and kings.
So it is with Jesus. From eternity, the triune God had set apart God the Son for the purpose of saving God’s people from their sins. This is His service. This is the work He came to do. What is so interesting is that God didn’t send a priest or a prophet to pour oil on His head. He sent a woman instead to anoint Him with her tears.
The Father has not been anointed to save His people from their sins. The Spirit has not been anointed to do this. Only the Son. Only Jesus has been anointed to do this. This is why only He alone bears the title of Christ. He is Jesus the Christ, and there is none other who has been chosen to save His people from their sins.
K. But this Jesus also has another title. This title is Lord.
Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Lord is a title of authority. It means God has given Jesus ultimate authority. All authority on heaven and on earth is now His. This is what the Bible means when it says Christ is seated at the right hand of God. It doesn’t mean He sits on the right hand rather than the left hand. Right hand is a Hebrew expression. It signifies authority and strength. In other words, Jesus now sits where only God can sit. He sits in the place of ultimate authority. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”
Something else. In the Old Testament, God manifested His glory in several different ways. One way was by a cloud. We read in the story of the Israeli exodus how the glory of the Lord led the people of Israel out of Egypt in a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day.
After Solomon had finished building the Lord’s temple, and upon returning the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place, we read that God manifested His glorious presence by filling the temple with a cloud.
1 Kings 8:10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house.
In Ezekiel, the prophet describes seeing the cloud leave the Temple and then the city. Ezekiel tells us that it is God’s judgment, the glory of the Lord has departed from Israel.
In all these instances, and there are more, God manifests His glory in a cloud. In Hebrew, this cloud was called the shekinah; the shekinah glory of the Lord. It was mysterious. God’s visible, tangible glory was hidden behind mist and smoke. It was the same idea behind the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant dwelt was kept enveloped in utter darkness. The people knew God’s glory dwelt there, but they couldn’t see that glory. It was hidden from them.
Acts 1:9 And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.
This isn’t a puffy white cloud that we see in our skies near everyday. No, this is the shekinah glory. The glory of the Lord that had for centuries been hidden from men. That glory has now been revealed, and He has a name. His name is Lord Jesus Christ. He is the glory of God.
L. Jesus has a name. His name is God the Son of God. His name is God the Son of God who has been chosen from eternity to succeed without fail in saving His people from their sins. For this reason, He is the glory of the Lord, and upon His shoulders alone rests the salvation of all whom He chose for salvation from before the foundation of the world.
To call upon the name of Jesus means to call upon THIS Jesus; THIS Jesus who is God the Son of God, and who has, without any help or input from His people, saved His people and only His people from their sins.
II. False name
A. In the West, for most people who call themselves Christian today, to “call upon the name of Jesus” means calling upon who and what in their minds they imagine Jesus to be. This image of Jesus that people have in their minds is in actual fact an image that reflects fallen man. He is a conditional Jesus who wants to make you happy, who wants to think of your sins as mere character faults, who wants to make you emotionally, physically and financially rich, and who wants you to have your best day now. Yes, the name of this conditional Jesus is identified by the letters j-e-s-u-s, but the meaning behind those combination of letters could not be further from the one revealed to us in Scripture.
B. What do I mean by a conditional Jesus? The Jesus of this world is a Jesus fashioned after the image of man. He is god, or possibly one of many gods depending on how you see that, who needs you to fulfill a condition so that he can then help you get to the best you now. This makes sense to the world, because this is how the world works.
If I work 40 hours a work, then I will get paid. If I do my homework, then I will get good grades. If I eat my spinach, then I can stay up and watch TV. It’s how the world works, it’s how fallen man’s mind works, so of course, it’s how a Jesus made after the image of man works. If you read your Bible and pray every day, then God will love you. If you go to church every Sunday, then God will be pleased with you. But if you don’t, then He will be angry with you. This is how the world works, and so this is how the Jesus made in the image of the world works. He saves on the condition that you do something.
C. To make matters worse, a great many, a great, GREAT many reformed people today also insist that people who have called upon the wrong name have still nevertheless believed upon the right Jesus.
These men have tried to change the content of the propositions by removing some of the propositions. That is, they insist that His name isn’t the important thing. Who the Jesus is that you’re worshipping isn’t important. It’s the fact that you’re worshipping, that’s what is important. It’s the fact that you are completing a condition. You can have His name completely wrong, but as long as you’ve fulfilled the condition, then it’s okay.
D. These men are called the Tolerant Calvinists. And when we, who have called upon the true name of Jesus, deny that a person can call upon any other name and yet still be saved, what do these tolerant Calvinists tell us? They tell us we’re making salvation about perfect knowledge. They tell us we’re imbalanced, because we don’t give a free pass to people who have called upon a name that isn’t Jesus’.
What do these people have against knowing the name of Jesus? No one here has said people are saved by perfect knowledge. Perfect knowledge is irrelevant. It’s not lack of perfect knowledge we are criticizing, it’s the lack of the knowledge of the truth. You don’t know His name. You haven’t called upon His name. It doesn’t take a person with perfect knowledge to know that “God saves” does not mean “God saves with my help”.
The ultimate aim of these Tolerant Calvinists is to rescue the vain image of their Jesus from the fires of Biblical truth. They desperately want to keep the image of the jesus they grew up with and has come to love and adore, which is why they refuse to repent of that jesus, to turn their back on that jesus, and to confess along with God that that jesus was an idol. And so they label all who call upon their own vain image of jesus a brother, while they label everyone else a hyper Calvinist.
The Heidelberg Catechism was one of the first Calvinist catechisms. A catechism is sort of like a confession except that it is written in such a way as to instruct people, and to guide pastors and teachers. The Heidelberg Catechism was adopted by a Synod in Heidelberg, Germany and was first published in 1563.
In the Heidelberg Catechism, the second question and answer series listed under the very first Lord’s Day states as follows:
Lord’s Day 1
Q &A 2
Q. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
A. Three things:
First, how great my sin and misery are;
second, HOW I am set free from all my sins and misery;
third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.
What three things must you KNOW? One of the things listed is HOW I am set free from all my sins and misery. Perfect knowledge! Perfect knowledge!
Today, we are told by tolerant Calvinists all over the world that knowledge of the how does not need to be precise. You can have a death that made it possible for everyone to be saved, or you can have a death that did indeed save certain people; it doesn’t matter which just as long as you have a death.
Jesus’ name is not He will die. Jesus’ name is He will save His people from their sins. In the Tolerant Calvinist scheme, there is no need for a precise purpose to the death. The only thing that matters is that it’s a death, that’s all. Jesus could have died for the purpose of saving elephants, and that would be okay, because He at least died, so therefore people can do something to make that death work to their advantage.
This is why Tolerant Calvinists insist Arminians are brothers. Arminians have done something to make the death work to their advantage. That something they have done is muster up some imbalanced sincerity with their free will choice. They are sincere, therefore the death counts for them even if it was only meant for elephants.
E. You can bet these Tolerant Calvinists are going to ask us, with accusation in their voice, well how much knowledge is enough then, hmm? Just how much of His name do you need to know in order to be saved?
His name is Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. Would the people who first read this have needed to be taught this? They would already have known the meaning of the name, Jesus, or Yeshua. Indeed, Yeshua was a very popular name during Jesus’ day. Plenty of mothers named their sons Yeshua. And they knew the significance and meanings of names. Why then would Matthew go out of his way to tell people something they already knew?
Why is His name Jesus? Because it’s a popular name? No. His name is Jesus because He WILL save His people from their sins. Recall who the religious leaders of Israel at the time. The Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Scribes. These folks had laid so many conditions for righteousness that it was ridiculous. God had imposed some 600+ laws upon Israel. These folks added another 2000 laws to those. There was no God saves in their thinking. Their thinking was God has provided us a way to save ourselves.
It was very important than that Matthew convey to his readers what the significance of Jesus’ name really meant. “His name shall be called God saves, because HE WILL save His people from their sins.”
God has succeeded. This is what the people must know, that Jesus has successfully saved His people from their sins. They must know how He has done this. They must be told that the truth, that the Lord Jesus Christ has successfully accomplished the redemption of His people by offering His body to God at the cross as a sacrifice for His people’s sins.