What’s in a Name?

We often think that much of our Christian life is about what we do.  We so often gloss over what we say.  Sure, we might pay a little attention to make sure we aren’t using too much profanity and we try to say prayers and sing songs in worship but we often don’t think much about what we say, or better yet what we say about God.  It’s easy to toss a prayer to God when things are going wrong but what about when things are going great?  I suppose we might thank God for the great things but what about when things are just ok?  Why would we thank God when we are having a run of the mill kind of day?  Well that’s what I want to discuss in today’s post.  To begin I’d like to take a look at the Second Commandment.  Let’s reference Luther’s Small catechism for this:

The Second Commandment.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

So, chances are unless you have been a confessional Lutheran for a while you might have seen this commandment and thought “Well, just don’t say God D***”; right?”  Well, your right that’s part of it.  However, God tells us that there is so much more in this Commandment.  Throughout Scripture God tells us that we should be careful how we use His name and what we should do with His name.  Let’s start with the careless ways in which we would use His name.  We could curse in His name.  This would be cursing someone or something, calling God’s condemnation, as in our example.  Another way is carelessly “swearing to God”.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t swear on a proper oath in court but just a careless “Becky, I swear to God I didn’t take the last cookie”  especially when you know you did.  Another example is seeking the help of the devil and demons to get what you want; pretty self-explanatory.  Another way is like our previous example; lying in God’s name.  This goes much deeper.  This would be for those who manhandle God’s Holy Word.  For those who mangle God’s Word to say something that He didn’t say.  False Teachers fit in this category.

What may be surprising for some is that by failing to do good in God’s name is also a breaking of this commandment.  If you don’t call upon God’s name in trouble, if you don’t pray, if you don’t give Him praise and thanks; that is also breaking this commandment.  Most of us have no problem, even the heathen, to call upon God in trouble.  They break this most grievously, for they call on Him as if they believed in Him but they only use Him like a magic genie to help in trouble.  The rest of this fits in with those days when things are either great or just okay.  When we don’t pray we break this commandment.  When we don’t praise and thank God we break this commandment.

Think of that mundane day.  Think of a mundane Monday.  Are you alive?  Thank God.  Did you eat?  Thank God.  Did you drink?  Thank God.  Did you have clothes?  Thank God.  This can go on for a long time but I think Jesus said it best in the Lords Prayer.  Jesus told us to pray with all boldness and confidence expecting everything we need for our daily living.  Let’s look at the Small Catechism:

Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
God would thereby [with this little introduction] tenderly urge us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.

The Fourth Petition.
Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked men; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread?

–Answer.
Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

We are to expect all our daily good, even when the day just seems “fine”, from God.  He gives us all that we need to sustain this life.  I want to post the entire Lords Prayer below and take special care to look at the First Petition.  This belongs with the second commandment.

III. The Lord’s Prayer
As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.

Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
God would thereby [with this little introduction] tenderly urge us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.

The First Petition.
Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
God’s name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may become holy among us also.

How is this done?

–Answer.
When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God also lead holy lives in accordance with it. To this end help us, dear Father in heaven. But he that teaches and lives otherwise than God’s Word teaches profanes the name of God among us. From this preserve us, Heavenly Father.

The Second Petition.
Thy kingdom come.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.

How is this done?

–Answer.
When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and yonder in eternity.

The Third Petition.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is this done?

–Answer.
When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith unto our end. This is His gracious and good will.

The Fourth Petition.
Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked men; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread?

–Answer.
Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

The Fifth Petition.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor deny such petitions on account of them; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them; but that He would grant them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much, and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. So will we verily, on our part, also heartily forgive and also readily do good to those who sin against us.

The Sixth Petition.
And lead us not into temptation.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
God, indeed, tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us, nor seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though we be assailed by them, that still we may finally overcome and gain the victory.

The Seventh Petition.
But deliver us from evil.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
We pray in this petition, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from all manner of evil, of body and soul, property and honor, and at last, when our last hour shall come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven.

Amen.
What does this mean?

–Answer.
That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and heard; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised that He will hear us. Amen, Amen; that is, Yea, yea, it shall be so.

If we live not according to God’s Word we profane His name.  I like to think of the Christian who has a Christian bumper sticker and either cuts someone off or flips someone the bird.  Here you are showing the world you belong to God and then let your sinful nature rear its ugly head.  The Old Adam in us loves road rage.  I think it’s because when we are in a hurry we think of ourselves as most important and everyone else as less than.  This is only an example, and one that we are all guilty of.  When we show ourselves as being a Christian and yet we act like the heathen we are bringing shame to the name of God.  So, we have all broken this commandment.  As with all commandments God takes them seriously.

What Does God Say of All These Commandments?

Answer.
He says thus (Exod. 20:5f): I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

What does this mean?

–Answer.
God threatens to punish all that transgress these commandments. Therefore we should dread His wrath and not act contrary to these commandments. But He promises grace and every blessing to all that keep these commandments. Therefore we should also love and trust in Him, and gladly do [zealously and diligently order our whole life] according to His commandments.

God takes His Word seriously, it’s not as if He was joking when He gave the commandments.  Yet, we all are guilty of taking these as mere guidelines instead of commands.  Also, we can say that we are sinful beings and are unable to live to this standard of holiness, and we would be correct.  We can also say that doesn’t just dismiss these commands as if the only function of the Law were to show us our sin and we can go on and live as we please as long as we see that we are sinners.  God was so serious about this that His only Son took the punishment in our place.  God takes our holiness so seriously that Jesus, fully God fully man, lived a perfect life under the Law and fulfilled it perfectly.  That wasn’t enough though.  To fulfill the Law perfectly would be enough to justify the single person; not so in this case. Being fully God and fully man He was the spotless lamb, the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the entire world.  Whipped, beat, spit upon, stripped naked, nailed to the rough wood, raised up for all to see; here is your God.  Here is the one you so carelessly speak of.  Here is the one who takes away your sin.  He suffered and died.  Your sin was taken from you and put on Him.  We can’t end the story there because it doesn’t end there.  He left those sins of yours in the grave and rose from the dead!  Your sins are paid for, you are now clothed with the righteousness of Christ in baptism.  Your sins are forgiven in Him.  Through Jesus you can expect all good to come from the Father. You can come boldly to the Throne of Grace and confidently call upon His name and ask for what you need and expect it to come from Him as your dear Father in heaven.   Go in peace, your sins are forgiven, your faith has saved you [Luke 7: 48-50].  Fight the good fight of faith [1 Timothy 6:12] fully equipped with the armour of Christ [Eph. 6: 10-20].

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