Saturday, June 07, 2008


Comic Art

As we continue to romp through the denizens of Asgard as presented by Marvel and the New Gods published by DC, both the masterworks of Jack Kirby, we today complete Thor's constant companions, The Warriors Three, by looking at the ladies man - Fandral The Dashing. I must admit to a bit of a loss at how to describe Fandral, he is essential but somehow useless. Even this is a dated reference, but do you remember the TV show "The A-Team?" Dirk Benedict's character "The Face" was just there to look pretty - pretty much his whole job. That is how I think of Fandral. I must also admit to finding his resemblance to DC's Green Arrow fascinating. Interestngly, it was a Jack Kirby rendered Green Arrow that the Post Office chose to immortalize.

Of course, there is also the fact that any good battle group needs a swordsman. Thor had his hammer, Hogun his mace, Volstagg his girth and Fandral his sword. Which points out the real resemblance that both he and Green Arrow have - Errol Flynn. The interplay between movies and comics is hardly new, and visual storytelling is visual storytelling.

But I digress, Fandral was always the man you wanted by your side in battle and the local brewhouse. He may have always attracted the most beautiful ladies, but he left plenty of extremely attractive oes in his wake looking for companionship. I fact some of the funniest scenes I remember are women trying to get close to Fandral by cooing on to Hogun who is almost completely immune to such things.

The Warriors Three, as here completed by Fandral, we the stuff of boyhood adventure, and homage to simpler days when instead of aliens we fought trolls and giants and prowled the woods in search of mystery and good times. A boy and his friends. What could be better.

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Friday, June 06, 2008


Christianity and Society

Out of London, reported in the London Telegraph, yes, LONDON -- ENGLAND, the western world, comes a story of persecution of Christians by Muslims.
Canon Michael Ainsworth, a priest and colleague of mine just a couple of miles from my rectory in the City of London, was recently attacked in his churchyard by three youths. Michael suffered two black eyes, cuts and bruises. He was taken into hospital and his wife Janina, also a priest, said: "It's obvious that the attack on Michael does contain a religious element." It certainly is obvious: his attackers shouted, "You f------ priest!" as they beat him up.


Well, it's clear that the yobs who attacked Michael were Muslims. To their credit, the local Muslim leaders have tacitly admitted this by publicly deploring the crime.
The author, also an Anglican cleric, goes on to decry, as leading to this sort of disaster, the liberalization of the Church of England. In some ways the thing is a rant, the author sounding like the Brit equivalent of a televangelist with a talk radio bent, but his essential point, that if the church sacrifices its moral authority, through conformity with a liberalizing society, it sacrifices its role as moral agent in that society, is one well taken.

One of the reasons we separate church and state in this nation (as opposed to the UK, where the Anglican church is an official, established religion) is to give the church the freedom to stand up strongly and not be subject to the whims of public will as is mandated for a representative government. Established religion must, of necessity, take on some governmental function, which can demand compromise of its religious function and moral underpinnings. (Consider many of the recent pronouncements by the Archbishop of Canterbury.)

Religion in our nation has the freedom to be religion, and only religion, and to not have to compromise because of government function.

Next time you think the church needs to make law, you might want to think about that - what is the cost?

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Friday Humor

An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of church services, when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled:"Stop! Acts 2:38!" which is (Repent and be Baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven.)

The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done.

As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar: "Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture to you."

"Scripture?" replied the burglar. "She said she had an Ax and Two 38s!"

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


Yet, All Have Sinned

According to USAToday the concept of "sin" is not dead, but it is morphing radically in a variety of directions. This is a fascinating article, and I recommend you read all of it. But this is the most interesting section to my mind:
Take it from pollsters.

A new survey by Ellison Research in Phoenix finds 87% of U.S. adults believe in the existence of sin, which is defined as "something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective."

Topping the list are adultery (81%) and racism (74%).

But other sins no longer draw majority condemnation. Premarital sex? Only 45% call it sin. Gambling? Just 30% say it's sinful.

"A lot of this is relative. We tend to view sin not as God views it, but how we view it," says Ellison president Ron Sellers.

David Kinnaman, president of Barna Research, a company in Ventura, Calif., that tracks Christian trends, draws a similar conclusion: "People are quick to toe the line on traditional thinking" that there is sin "but interpret that reality in a very personal and self-congratulatory manner" — I have to do what's best for me; I am not as sinful as most.
I am sorely tempted to use the term "meta-sin" here, because this is at root a sinful definition of sin.

If we consider sin as simply the state of being out side of God's created order, and "sins" as symptoms of that state, then to attempt to define sin by our own standards is, of itself, an expression of sin. Is it any wonder that we struggle so with this word and idea in the church today? I tend to have some sympathy with people that try to stay away from it because when the definition is so plastic, it tends to be a useless word. The problem is when we abandon the word we often abandon the idea, and that we can never do.

I have some sympathy for Tim Keller's take on it in the article:
Two pastors serving youthful congregations in big cities, long the statistical capitals of secular culture, say they must talk about sin to be true to their calling. They just have to use 21st-century lingo.

Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan is a modern-day variation of the circuit-riding preacher. He dashes across Central Park to three different leased locations to serve 5,000 worshipers at five services on Sundays.

When Keller, author of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, speaks about "sin" to his audiences, which are 70% single and younger than 40, "I use it with lots and lots of explanation, because the word is essentially obsolete.

"They do get the idea of branding, of taking a word or term and filling it with your own content, so I have to rebrand the word 'sin,' " Keller says.
This raises the question of whether medium and message are entirely separable. Vocabulary certainly is, but is there another shorthand for "sin" and if I substitute the word "purfelflarb" for "sin" will not the same plasticity eventually settle on purfelflarb.

This is why I know the gospel, in all its fullness, cannot be communicated merely with words and ideas. I can tell you about my wife, but you will never truly get the picture until you meet her. Although, you will know much more about her when you see the evidence of her in my life.

When we carry the gospel forward, we must carry its evidence in our lives. Sufficient evidence to make people want to meet the one we are talking about. Otherwise, it is just words.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Christ and Leadership

Jollyblogger links enthusiastically to a post on, what is a well-worn idea on this blog, the fact that Jesus was not a leader in the sense that we typically think of it. David's choice in pull quote from the piece sets the stage well:
That Jesus was a failed leader both by example and by teaching is something we already know—at least unconsciously. Jesus taught that the first shall be last; take up your cross and follow me; to be a minister or to be great in the eyes of God is to be a servant. His teaching on leadership was upside-down and backwards. Indeed, it was no leadership teaching at all. We all know that, but we easily try to fix Jesus’ teachings or put the prefix servant in front of the word leadership. But the effort falls short.
But it is the concluding paragraph of the post is where I think the meat really lies:
Legacy is what matters. Obviously no one will every match Jesus in the realm of legacy. But as we contemplate our pilgrimage in life, we must get over the self-serving concept of leadership and set our hearts and minds on legacy.
Have you ever thought about how short-sighted the "leadership" idea is. It is concerned only with the here-and-now, not eternity.

Now, before I get to far into all of this, any time I have this discussion with professional ministry types, they are quick to grant that Jesus was no leader - but the apostles are a different story. I think even that misunderstands things a bit. The apostles were organizers, but I see no evidence that they were institutionalizers. I think this points out one of the key differences between leadership and legacy to borrow a phrase from the post I am commenting on here.

ANYTIME you have numbers of people, organization is required. Organization is required simply to harness the energy of the group. The apostles worked to harness the energies of the new converts to serve those converts, who would in turn, go out and make more converts. This was the legacy the apostles sought to create - that legacy was the perpetuation of the gospel.

But somewhere in the ensuing centuries, instituionalizers ignored the legacy and grew simply to preserve the group. Which is why Christ's "lack of leadership" (I would prefer the term "alternative style of leadership," but...) is so important. And by the way, when you consider that all the apostles died in martyrdom or exile, one would have to conclude that they were less than successful "leaders" as well, despite their organizational efforts. Their legacy, a legacy of sacrifice, was certainly in line with Christ's.

Once again I return to the fact that Christianity is truly radical stuff. It turns our understandings on their head. In this instance,we have to learn to think well beyond our sensical capability. You see when we "lead" today, we led not for today but for eternity, we must think far beyond that which we can experience.

And when we take that eternal perspective, we must see that while the gospel is triumphant, triumph is achieved only through apparent failure. Whether it be Christ on the cross or the apostles in martyrdom, they triumphed not because they were great leaders, but because they were great Christians. God delivered the triumph.

The apparent failure is indeed part and parcel of the gospel.
Gal 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. [emphasis added]
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008


A Start

Yesterday, I wrote about how God has to move slowly with us because of the type of material we are. At the risk of picking on a friend, I thought a recent confessional post by Joe Carter is an interesting illustration of the point. This is a really tough thing to do, Joe set this out there and I like Joe, don't really want to pick on him, but I found the form of confession fascinating:
Although I don't often write confessional posts, there is an issue that has been weighing on my heart. Certain discussions throughout the evangelical wing of the blogosphere have led me to finally speak up about an issue that I've tended to keep to myself. The problem concerns my faith: I am plagued by certainty.


Yet while I recognize that theological certainty does not make me a special brand of saint, it also doesn't make me some perverse freak of faith. I shouldn't feel a need to hang my head in shame because I don't question the existence of God. I shouldn't be asked to dismiss the experiences I've had with the Lord as if there is a possibility that they are not real. I shouldn't have to lie and say that "I understand" when people say that are not sure that there is a God or that life continues after death.
Let's call this form "confessional justification." To move away from Joe personally as rapidly as possible, let me describe the phenomena so we can talk about it impersonally. The form is essentially "I have a problem, but:

I bet you can think of others if you really want to.

God works on us slowly because we seem to be fighting back all the time. We hold tight to our problems, we love them in some perverse way. Two steps forward, one step back seems to be the order of the day. We neglect the fact, for example, that if we offend someone else, we may be right with on the stance we took that offended them, but if we are ungracious in defending our stance, we have erred in other areas that God has also called us to improve in.

On a theological level that's why the whole idea of total depravity is so important, the fact of the matter is even when we are right, we are wrong. We are in such a state that while we can be certain of our eternal destination, there is little else we can be certain of, especially when it comes to our behavior towards others.

Have you ever confessed to the inadequacies of your confessions? Interesting idea, isn't it? When you are confessing and you get to that "but" I emphasized above, maybe you - maybe we! - ought to stop and confess to the "but" itself. In reality there are no "buts," we are just sinners.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, June 02, 2008


Whose Patience?

Back in March, John Mark Reynolds wrote one of those posts so meaty, it ought to be a book. There is so much valuable discussion in stuff he writes to set up his major thesis that it is amazing.

He starts by discussing "chronological ignorance.
"When reading old books, it is easy to display a chronological snobbery, as C.S. Lewis called it. The chronological snob is to time what the ethnocentric person is to ethnicity. His chronocentrism assumes that everyone in the past should know everything he knows or agree with all his assumptions. When visiting the past in his imagination, he views it as Cameron viewed the people of 1912 on Titanic: moderns with funny clothes and less stuff.
I think it can be even worse, I think people often assume people in the past were ignorant wretches, that with technology came understanding, and all who went before had no actual wisdom. Yet as a person who makes a living of knowing technology, I am consistently amazed at how unwise it often renders us.

The JMR discusses the methodology of revolution:
The Lord God of Sacred Scriptures is not a revolutionary, thank God. Rapid change in human culture has rarely been for the best and God does not make the mistake of the French or Russian revolutionaries. Each revolution was led by men who believed that they could rapidly bring heaven to earth, but ended up making France and Russia look more like hell. God knows that even a great good must be brought on slowly to avoid doing greater harm.
What I find interesting in this bit is that God really is not a revolutionary, but He is a radical. We so often conflate these two descriptions. The point that JMR is making here is that the changes which God wants to bring about are SO radical that they simply cannot be wrought in a revolutionary fashion.

All this JMR uses to set the basis for an argument to understand the apparent "immorality" of Old Testament action, particularly as ordered by God Himself. It is a great argument, but JMR does it so well, there is little I can add.

But I do want to return to this idea that God is radical but not revolutionary.

We are impatient people. We want things perfect, the problem is we want them NOW! God is making them, and is the only one that can make them, perfect. But we are so flawed, that it is going to take a while.

Pardon me while I get all geeky for a second. "Viscosity" is a science term we use to describe the flow characteristics of a fluid. You have probably heard about it related to your motor oil and think of it vaguely in terms of "thickness," but the reality is a little more complex than that. When one gets into the realm of very high viscosity how force is applied to the fluid can determine whether it flows like a fluid or tears like solid.

Years ago I worked with some silicone oils that looked in a beaker like silly putty, but clear. If you grabbed it, you could pull a hunk of it off like a putty. But if you set up an apparatus to hold it like you were pouring from one glass to another it would so pour, eventually filling the receiver vessel and taking its shape - all the things that define a liquid. But it would take the material several days, sometimes weeks to do it.

I think we are like that. If we try to change all at once, like grabbing a hunk of that material, we break - we are less than we were before. But if we are poured from one vessel to another with the patience required, we fill that new vessel perfectly.

But this is more than a lesson in patience - this is a lesson in humility. You see, God does not work so slowly because of who He is, but because of who we are. We are high viscosity people, and He does not want to break us. He is the one that requires the patience, not us.

Next time you are impatient with God for not "fixing" you fast enough, you might want instead to thank Him for having the patience to bother at all.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008


Sermons and Lessons


John C. Bowman, President of the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church, Lancaster, Pa., and professor of practical theology; born at Chambersburg, Pa.; after completing his course in Franklin and Marshall College and the theological seminary at Lancaster, Pa., entered the ministry as pastor of the Reformed church, Shepherdstown, W. Va.; later became pastor of the Reformed church, Hanover, Pa.; for sixteen years was professor of New Testament exegesis in the theological seminary at Lancaster, Pa.


“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, 1 will do it." - John 14:13,14.

If one may discriminate as to the relative value and importance of the several religious disciplines, I should assign the first place to prayer. It relates itself to all other religious observances and activities as cause to effect. It serves, as no other agency can serve, to bring and keep the soul of man in touch with God, as the source and sup¬port of his spiritual life, and as a strong rock and tower of defense in the midst of life’s perils.

The text is found in what is known as the discourse of Jesus in the upper room at Jerusalem. It was spoken on one of the days of the last week of Jesus, shortly before lie proceeded to Olivet, accompanied by His disciples. Its significance, therefore, is enhanced by the solemnity which attaches to a final message. The words clearly indicate a confidential and spiritual relationship between Jesus and His disciples, such as had not previously existed; and they invest the prayer-problem with a meaning which carries with it corresponding difficulties. Frequently, on former occasions, Jesus had spoken to His disciples of the necessity and efficacy of prayer, and He confirmed his instruction by His example. The several instances of the praying of Jesus, recorded in the gospels, indicate the rule, the habit of His life. At the tomb of Lazarus, while addressing the Father, (John 11:42), He says, “I knew that thou hearest me always.” The word “always” evidently implies the regular habit of prayer. But the words of the text have very special significance in that they contain the promise that the time is drawing near when the disciples shall pray “in the name of Jesus”; and whatsoever they shall ask in His name, shall be given them.

The philosophy of prayer, which satisfies both the faith and the reason of a Christian, rests on certain assumptions, namely, that God is; that He is infinitely wise and good; that, as a father, He has a loving care for His children; that He is ever willing to help them in accordance with their need; and, further, that His help is conditioned by their desire and their cooperation. Prayer is the expression of confidence in the Father’s wisdom and love; also, of the dependence, need, and desire of the supplicating child. Prayer, therefore, is the bond of union between God and His children, the indispensable condition of the bestowal and the reception of divine blessing. But what of the reign of law? The reign of law, wrongly viewed, is an objection and an obstacle to prayer. The reign of law, rightly viewed, is an incentive to prayer. The universality of law does not mean that law works as an unconscious and unintelligent force, but that God works everywhere and in all things conformably to This will and to the designed purposes of creation. Christian prayer does not contradict the divine method; it does not attempt to constrain the will of God to an accommodative compliance with the desires or whims of fallible children. It is, rather, the means by which we lift ourselves up into correspondence with the purposes and the methods of God. It is the harmonizing of our will with the will of God.

In the bestowal of natural blessings God’s laws do not dispense with human cooperation. They demand it. It is part of the reign of law that man must work in harmony with nature in order to obtain what nature has in store. It is God’s method to open to those who - knock; to give to those who ask. In the spiritual kingdom there must ever be a recognition and application of a similar principle. It is not the province of prayer to attempt to withstand the invariable laws established by divine wisdom. That were folly. Prayer seeks correspondence with God ‘s method; and it is in harmony with the divine method, as well as with the law of human personality, that the bestowal of spiritual blessings should be conditioned by conscious human need and earnest desire. The idea of obtaining spiritual blessings without asking, without the free human will cooperating with the divine will, is irrational. It is indeed unthinkable in the light of our knowledge of spiritual life and a human personality.

Prayer is dependence upon divine guidance; it is the craving of divine help; it is the desire to live conformably to the will of Him who is infinitely wise and good; and thus, by glorifying Him, glorify our own nature.

What I have said by way of positive state¬ment concerning the nature and the purpose of prayer is, by implication, an answer to the question as to the efficacy of prayer. It is the height of folly to attempt to prove the efficacy of prayer to those who do not pray, or who doubt the efficacy of prayer. In the very nature of things the efficacy of prayer can be known only to those who observe the habit of prayer. It should count for something that the best and wisest of all ages have prayed, and were helped by prayer as by no other means. It should count for much that Jesus prayed. Shall He be convicted of folly? But the argument most convincing is the argument from experience. Has any one observed the habit of uplifting his mind daily to the throne of God, his thought com¬muning with the Highest? Has any one habitually and fervently prayed in the name of Jesus? If so, for him there is no question as to the efficacy of prayer.

This brings us now to the consideration of the warrant for the high claim made by Jesus. In our text the prayer-problem is conjoined with that of the person of Christ. Prayer is the communion of man with God. How do we know God? How shall we come to Him? Not otherwise than through the revelations which He has made of himself. God in nature, through its varied forms, has revealed, and ever continues to reveal, this wisdom, His power, and His goodness. And through these lower forms, as Bryant in his “Thanatopsis” teaches, nature, or God in nature, “speaks a various language.” And by means of these visible manifestations of the divine, the spirit of worship may be evoked. We lose nothing and may gain much by accepting the truth of natural religion. But this can not satisfy the aspirations and longings of the human heart, craving for communion with God through the highest and fullest revelation which He has made of Himself. Where do we find this? In Jesus Christ; in the moral perfections disclosed through His character and ministry.

In the discourses which lead up to the great pronouncement of the text, and in those which follow it, Jesus claims for Himself unique, ethical sonship with God; an incomparable closeness of fellowship with the Father. “The Father is in me and I in the Father.” “I and my Father are one.” “I speak that which I have seen with my Father.” “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.” “I do always the things which are pleasing to God.” “My meat is to do the will of him who sent me.”

These are but a few of the many passages taken from the teaching of Jesus, as set forth in the Fourth Gospel, which enforce the claim of Jesus to a perfect moral union with God. This claim is not weakened by the supposititious theory that the representation of the teaching of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel is colored by the thought of a theological interpreter. Admitting such inference, yet we may maintain that the coloring does not obscure or weaken, but that it enriches the truth of the teaching of Jesus. The primary question is: Has the claim of Jesus, made through His direct teaching, or through that which has been credited to Him, been made good? Has it been fully vindicated? If so, on what basis? I answer: on the basis of what Jesus was, in His character and in His life, as revealed unto men during his earthly ministry; as authenticated unto men throughout the entire period of Christian history; and as authenticated unto men today. In Jesus Christ, as revealed unto men, there is given the highest and fullest revelation of God. In the moral perfections of His manhood, in the superior excellences of His character, in His flawless virtues, in His unsurpassed and unsurpassable ideals, there is given all-sufficient proof that he is the Son of God; so that, both to Christian faith and enlightened reason, the claim of the divinity of Jesus Christ is fully justified.

And as Jesus is the highest revelation which God has made of Himself, so by virtue of that fact, in Jesus do we find the true mediator between God and man. No one can come to the Father but by him. He is the way, the truth, the life. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” If, therefore, we would go to God in prayer, to commune with Him, to seek His help, we would go to Him preferably in the form in which He has most fully manifested ihimself; that is, in Jesus Christ our Lord. And, further, if we would satisfy the aspirations of the heart to worship God, while we may praise Him in all his works, in His manifestations in nature, in His providential dealings with men and nations; and while we would heed His voice “spoken unto the fathers in the prophets, by divers portions and in divers manners,” yet, would we speak to Him and have Him speak to us, we come to Him as He has revealed Himself in his Son; and we worship God in Christ.

The claim of Jesus to perfect unity and fellowship with the Father being warranted by His character and His life, we can the more clearly apprehend the meaning of the phrase “in my name,” as this appears in the double promise: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.’’ “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” “In my name” - this is the first occurrence of the phrase in the teaching of Jesus, and implies an advance in thought as it does in revelation. It is something of which the Old Testament saints, and even the New Testament dis¬ciples, previous to this time, had not known. But let us not be misled by the very frequent, and perhaps too common, if not irreverent, use of the name of Jesus in prayer. The use of the name of Jesus in prayer, in itself, is no warrant of efficacy. It possesses no spell by means of which a Simon Magus can work wonders. It will not serve as an incantation to be used by the seven sons of Sceva against an evil spirit. Nor is an answer promised to the Christian‘s prayer because it is summarily concluded by the solemn appeal “in Jesus’ name,” or, “for Jesus’ sake,” however sincere may be one’s dependence on the vicarious work of Jesus.

The name of Jesus, just as the name of God, expresses the sum of the qualities which mark the nature or character of the person. It is the embodiment and presentation of what Jesus is, demanding our recognition of the same. To believe in the name of Jesus is to accept as truth the revelation contained in the title. It is to acknowledge and appropriate Jesus in all that He is, and in all that He does for men.

To pray in the name of Jesus designates, on the part of the Christian, a holy and ex¬alted state and action of the spirit correspond¬ing to that of Jesus while praying to the Father. The phrase, “In the name of Jesus,” expresses a spiritual realm of life with which the mind of the Christian is enveloped, and implies that, moving in this realm of thought and life, the Christian is en rapport with the mind of Jesus. It means the identification of the disciple with his Lord. “In the name of Jesus,” designates a relationship to Jesus analogous to that which Jesus sustained to the Father. “I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” “I in them and they in me that they may be perfected in one.” “He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” “If ye abide in me and my word abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” In all these sayings there is set forth the thought of a profound spiritual kinship and fellowship, implying an essential unity and community of life. Similarly, in the teaching of Paul do we find frequent use of the phrases “in Christ,” “in Christ Jesus,’’ ‘‘in the Lord.” The significance of the preposition “in,” according to such New Testament usage. far transcends its ordinary meaning. Indeed, there is no single word in our language which can serve as its full equivalent. “In the name of Jesus” designates a vital, spiritual union with Christ, which is the basis, the explanation, and inspiration of the Christian’s whole manner of life. It denotes the aim and quality of every virtue and of every act. At the same time it carries with it the promise and pledge of heavenly power and blessedness. We have to do, then, not with a figure of speech, in our interpretation of the words of the text: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do,” but with a fact no less real than that of our spiritual union with Jesus, corresponding to the union which holds between Him and the Father. “In the name of Jesus” impresses the fact of a constant, spiritual environment, in which the personality is implanted, and upon which it ever depends as its source of sustenance and as the incentive to all action.

If the name of Jesus, as embracing the revelation of the Father in the Son, be the element in which the prayerful activity moves, then is the answer fully assured; as much so as though Jesus Himself offered the prayer. Manifestly, no thought or desire which is alien to the spirit of Jesus, and inconsistent with His ideals, can shield itself under the shelter of His name. That only can be in His name which expresses the spirit exhibited by Jesus in His life, and which promotes the ends for which Jesus lived. That only can be prayed in His name which brings to clear expression the principles by which His life was regulated, and the faith by which His conduct was in¬spired.

And whatsoever is prayed in His name shall be granted. “Whatsoever” designates the boundless scope of prayer as the expression of human need and of all lawful human desires. “Whatsoever ye shall ask” - this is the pledge that every need of the religious nature, indeed, of the entire proper nature of man, shall find enduring satisfaction in what Jesus has to give. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name” breathes all the solicitude and tenderness of the Father-heart, and of the Savior’s love in the care of supplicating children as regards their individual or personal needs.

Further, the name of Jesus betokens the comprehensiveness of the Savior’s love. It uplifts the thought and the desire of the individual into the realm of a world-wide loving care. It is the inspiration of all home and foreign missionary activity. Approaching the Father in the name of the Son, we place ourselves in intelligent correspondence with the divine kingdom and the divine purpose; and from the largess of God’s love we may draw the stores of good things which God wills to give for the well-being not simply of the individual or of the family, but of the Church, of the nation, of mankind. All these boundless stores of blessings are open to those who pray in the name of Jesus.

“In the name of Jesus,” while it is the sure pledge of answer to prayer, it is at the same time a severe test of the purity and sincerity of prayer. It is the sure standard by which we distinguish true prayer from prayer expressive of selfish desire, unholy cravings, impure thoughts, emotions, aspirations, born of the will of the flesh and not of the will of God. Prayer in the name of Jesus accepts Jesus as the guide to prayer and as our example in thought, purpose, and life. If we seek to commune with Jesus, as lie communed with the Father if we seek to do His will as He sought to do the Father’s will; if we, in our lives, seek to glorify him as He glorified the Father; then will be realized the blessedness, the joy, and the peace which accompany the constant habit of prayer. And in our life’s experience we shall find all-sufficient testimony to the uplifting power and saving efficacy of prayer.

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