The Ultimate Things
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 2 - The Ineffable Name

Scriptures: Mal. 3:3; Deut. 10:8; 1 Chron. 13:6-10; 15:2, 13-15; Acts 9:15-16; 15:14; Phil. 2:9-11.

Toward the close of our last chapter we just barely cited the words uttered by the builders of Babel, and the great Babylonian - Nebuchadnezzar, "Let us make us a name." "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" The two utterances stand, respectively at the beginning and the end of a history, and they betray the symptom of a disease with which the race was infected by the original bite of the serpent. It is the poison of pride. Babylon is finally shown - in the Apocalypse - to be the abomination. It is so because it is the consummate expression of this world's pride, and "pride is an abomination to God". The essence of pride is the centering of glory in self. There are two classic passages in the Bible which lead us immediately to the heart of this entire history, its cause, nature, and issue. One is in Isa. 14:12-19 -
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! ...Thou saidst in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation... I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High" etc.
(While this historically refers to Babylon, it is difficult not to see in it a wider application, especially when we link with it Ezek. 28:11-19, with phrases so similar, and certainly not capable of application to any human being; and Luke 10:18, "I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven".)

The other passage is in Phil. 2:6-11, "...Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God" (Greek - being originally, etc.) "counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

If we need a further clue to the situation we have it in Colossians 1 -
"...the Son of his (God's) love; ...who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist" (Gk: hold together) "...that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell..."
So the secret is out. In the eternal counsels of God the whole created universe was vested in His Son as: "heir of all things" (Heb. 1:2). That Son was utterly selfless and grasped at nothing of all the Divine fulness for His own gratification and glory. But there was another, holding high place in heaven. The point came at which that other cast envious eyes upon the Son; iniquity was found in him because his "heart was lifted up". He conspired to make a bid for that equality with the Most High. He was cast from heaven with "the angels which kept not their first estate" (Jude 6). His campaign against the Son was then directed to the creation in which the Son was to have His inheritance, and man was led to make a bid for dominion in his own title, as against having it in a related and dependent way. "You shall be as God", said the tempter. So the poison entered, and this creation has been infected ever since with this accursed selfhood, which expresses itself in countless ways, and is the cause of all trouble, misery, and evil. Back of all is the human desire to be and to have, but not in a related way, and not under the absolute Lordship and Headship of God's Son, Jesus Christ.

But God's determinate counsel and foreordination cannot be set aside, and the very Satanic passion which said "This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours", was only an outward shell in which the poison of self and self-glory was destroyed. Thus the "name above every name" was doubly secured unto Jesus Christ; by right of Sonship, and by right of redemption or victory; the essence of that victory being - "he made himself of no reputation".

Well, with all that there is here for solemn meditation and practical personal application, we are brought to the heart of the present world situation. We have seen that this situation is the result of a false blood ideology; a superior blood which is not the blood of God's Son: in other words, it is a life which is not the incorruptible life which is mediated in new birth by vital union with Christ. Thus there are two life-energies at work in antagonism to each other. Now we come to see that behind these life-energies there are two antagonistic motives. One is the glory of man as apart from God; the other is the glory of God's Son, and an ultimate glory for redeemed man in union with Him. So it is

A Clash of Names.

The intensification process of which we spoke in Chapter 1 is unmistakable, in connection with this matter of the name. Ever and anon men have made a bid for a name of supremacy, but never as at this time was the range so great nor were the stakes so high. There is no doubt whatever that the direction of things is exactly the same as that in the case of Nebuchadnezzar: that is, the worship of a man, or an image set up by a man, which is the embodiment of his own selfhood. If things written and said in our own times had been expressed in the times of Nebuchadnezzar or the Caesars we should not hesitate to quote them. Why should we not do so when they are so near at hand? It is only on spiritual grounds that we do so, not on anything national, racial, or political. We are just as fearful and pained when any statesman or leader in our own country makes boastful statements, and seeks to glorify our own works or resources, as we are when those of other countries do so. It would be the most glorious thing if we could come through this present ordeal and issue in victory without taking praise and honour to ourselves, and in humble recognition that "it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed". Surely it would lead to such a God-glorifying position if we truly recognised the real nature of this world-situation from its inner, spiritual, and deepest nature!

But what shall we think of things like the following?
"We had a feeling that Germany had been transformed into a great house of God, including all classes, professions, and creeds, where the Führer as our great mediator stood before the throne of the Almighty" (italics ours). Dr. Goebbels.

"Everything comes from Adolf Hitler. His faith is our faith, therefore our daily Credo is: I believe in Adolf Hitler alone!" Dr. Ley.

"On this Christmas, our prayer is: 'Lord Almighty, Thou hast given us the Führer: Thou hast given him power worthy of a new people'". Rudolph Hess, (italics ours. Note, at Christmas it is not the gift of Christ but of Hitler.)

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The way has been shown us by the Führer". Eckert.

"You, my Führer, have given us our daily bread this year also." Dr. Goebbels.

"Hitler is the Alpha and the Omega of our philosophical system. Every home must have a place where the leader is visibly present, and where our thoughts can perceive him directly. Generous hands and hearts must, at that place, make him little daily offerings... this kind of altar need not be installed in a separate room, but in the most frequented rooms, accessible at all hours, even to strangers." From an article entitled "The Domestic Altar".
That is enough. There is much more like it, but it all sounds very much like those words of Scripture which run -
"...he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God" (2 Thess. 2:4).

Let us, then, get right up close to this issue.

1. The Place of the Name.

If the New Testament records and represents the foundations of Christianity (and it does), then the chief corner-stone is the Name of Jesus. Almost the last words of the Lord were,
"It is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached IN HIS NAME unto all nations" (Luke 14:46,47. R.V.).
The Day of Pentecost saw Christianity and the Christian Church launched into their great world-witness on a full tide of the power of God's Spirit. As men felt the impact of this spiritual force and cried out under conviction, Peter said,
"Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38).
At the Temple gate a lame man was healed with the command,
"IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6).
When a crowd ran together to see the miracle Peter told them it was
"through faith in THE NAME",
and subsequently, while under interrogation by the High Priest, he affirmed -
"IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, but whom God raised from the dead... doth this man stand here before you whole (Acts 4:10).
They were charged to
"speak no more IN THE NAME".
In a prayer-meeting after their release they pleaded that
"signs and wonders might be done through THE NAME of... Jesus" (Acts 4:30).
"We straitly charged you not to teach in this NAME", the High Priest said. They were beaten, but they rejoiced that they had been
"deemed worthy to suffer on behalf of THE NAME" (Acts 5:28,41).
Philip went down to Samaria
"preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and THE NAME of Jesus";
and a multitude believed and were,
"baptized in THE NAME" (Acts 8:12,16).
Of Saul, the great antagonist of Christ, who became Paul the Apostle, it was said by the Lord Himself -
"He is a chosen vessel to bear my NAME before the Gentiles, and kings, and the people; and I will show him how many things he must suffer for my NAME" (Acts 9:15,16).
At a council meeting in Jerusalem in which some questions were being faced because the Holy Spirit had carried the Apostles out of their traditional depths, Peter made a statement which gives this whole dispensation its particular character -
" take out of the nations a people for his NAME" (Acts 15:14).
Not the conversion of nations. Not immediately to bring in the Millennium. Not to set up something on the earth as a religion, a movement, or an institution - even the Church; but to "take out... for THE NAME".

Here then is the fact simply and emphatically stated, that everything at the beginning stood immediately related to THE NAME of Jesus.

But we have to pursue the matter further and seek to see

2. The Meaning of the Name

Let it be said at once that the NAME does not mean just a designation. It is not merely a title, but it is always the entitlement. It carries with it the idea of rights. When the Lord is represented - as He so often is - as jealous for His Name, it is jealousy for His rights, His entitlement to occupy the supreme place in His whole universe: having neither peer nor rival. His Name embodies His prerogatives and represents His position. Unto His Son, then, the Lord Jesus, He has given "the name which is above every name", and that means that "God hath highly exalted him". The name of Jesus is His entitlement to supreme Lordship and Sovereignty.

To His disciples He had said things in this connection which they were to know in experience when He had gone to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. These things had to do with prayer and gathering.

"If ye shall ask... in my name."
"Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name."
"Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name."
(John 14:13,14; 15:16; 16:23, 24, 26).
"Where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).

This "asking" and 'gathering' is not, then, just taking or appending a phrase - "in the name of Jesus". (This is made clear without a shadow of a doubt in Matt. 7:21-23). It is a spiritual position of being in vital relationship with Him as in the position of absolute Lord and Head. This also is undoubtedly the meaning of being "baptised in (or into) the name of Jesus". It is not accepting Christianity, or "joining" the Church. Christianity and the Church stand wholly and only in the exaltation and Lordship of Jesus Christ. God does not honour a formula, but His Son. We pray and meet, then, on the ground of Christ's entitlement to everything.

Satan's Endeavour to Counter the Name

This Name is known in every realm, and, after heaven's high estimate of it, hell comes next in its fear thereof. Thus the evil powers are wholly set upon two things. One, the dishonouring of the name of Jesus by any possible means and in any possible quarter. To get into the sphere where that name is taken - i.e. among the Lord's own people, and in the life of the child of God - and dishonour it there has ever been the supreme object of Satan. So, jealousy for the Lord's name is something which has ever been laid upon His people as a matter of primary concern, and all matters are to be determined and dealt with by them in the light of how His name is affected.

The other thing to which the evil powers have committed themselves is to set up a rival name to that of God's Son. This course and object has been pursued along many lines.

Firstly, there must be a making of Him to be something less than He is. Sometimes He will be degraded, defamed, despised, and robbed of all honour. Sometimes He will be given a glory, an honour, a place, which is high and noble, but is only one of degree. That is, He may be God's Son, but only in a degree above all of us, for all are God's sons. Or, as in the gnosticism which Paul refuted at Colosse in his letter to the church there, He may be a high celestial being, but He is only one of those beings, even if the highest in rank.

Running alongside of this lessening of Christ, and as a subtle part of it, is the elevation of man. While we do not wish to become technical, nor to get into a merely heady realm, it is of very serious account that there should be a recognition of the trend and meaning of things which are gaining so great a way in our times. The fact is that people do just flock after anything that will give a seemingly natural explanation to things, and that will dispense with the supernatural, or the demand for faith. In other words, if it can be shown with some support that, after all, it is not essentially God in any exclusive sense, but that things really lie within the realm of human life, if only we know the secrets, there is a tremendous gratification, and such teachers and teaching will have a very great vogue. This is in itself most significant, and is but part of the very thing with which we are concerned. It demonstrates how deeply there lies in human nature now that strain toward being free from the very essence of faith, and of having the seat of things in oneself.

It may be - as it is often claimed to be - a sincere desire to make Christianity more simple and less complicated. To get away from Creeds back to Jesus the Nazarene, the Jesus of history, of flesh and blood. Then there follows this well-meaning, but wholly deceived and deceiving teaching which is a combination of humanism, idealism, and psychology. Jesus, His person and works, can be understood and explained by a purely human psychology, psycho-therapy, and the dynamic power of personality. The miraculous is not what we have been taught to believe. The secrets lie deeply within the soul of man which has powers and functions much greater and more mysterious than we had suspected. Beyond this we must just relegate things to the realm of legend and myth.

We do not dispute that the soul of man is a much more intricate and complicated thing than is generally recognised, and that it is capable of very extraordinary behaviour. Neither do we question that a great deal which seems to be of a religious or spiritual nature is just neurosis. But what we do most strongly contend is that in Christ there is a great divide between this psycho-physical personality and His Divine Sonship. It also follows that such a difference exists in every Christian of the New Testament order, and this is the meaning and nature of being born again, or from above.

Two Irreconcilable Positions

Two distinct schools exist, and it is of the utmost importance that we make the distinction and keep them well apart in all their aspects and elements. Evangelical Christianity has not escaped the taint of this confusing, and the present very general low level of spiritual life among Christians is largely, if not mainly, due to this cause.

On the one side man is admitted into the realm of having in himself that which can secure or attain unto Divine favour in life, growth, and service. No miracle - either initial, progressive, or consummative - is necessary to bring man to God. The appeal is to attend to the better elements of his own nature, be the best that he can be, bind the laws of God and the Golden Rule upon his own soul, and brace himself to a noble life and disinterested service. This position rests upon a belief that there is in every man an innate likeness between man and God; that God is in every man; that man has only to go into the deeper recesses of his own being and he will find God. Then he can take hold of God in himself and bring Him up to the surface by means of prayer and meditation and endeavour. There is very much more to it than that, but that is the essence of it.

On the other hand the position is that, as Paul says, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God... neither can he know them" (1 Cor. 2:14). In other words, the natural man has no capacity to know, or take hold on, God. That capacity has been lost through sin, and contact with God has to be restored by a miracle of regeneration. Thus the law which governs all knowledge of and relationship with God is faith, and that not in ourselves or what we are, but in God as apart altogether from what we are.

The true life of a Christian is a miracle in its inception, a miracle in its continuance, and a miracle in its consummation; answering the three questions of human impossibility which are asked by natural men - albeit devoutly religious and cultured men - in the New Testament, viz.,
"How can a man be born when he is old?" (John 3:4).
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:52).
"How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" (1 Cor. 15:35).

All the substance and implications of these two schools and positions represent no less a difference than that between Christ and Antichrist, however much the latter may seem to honour Christ in word. Christ can still be betrayed with a kiss, but Satan is behind that kiss.

It is of no little significance that nowhere in the Bible is it suggested that the consummate opposition to God or Christ will ever be along the line of denying that there ever was or is a Christ. This would be too big a blunder and tactical mistake. The fact of Christ is always accepted. Hence two things. Christ is too great a reality to be disposed of. He is established beyond the slightest thought of ignoring Him. To counter Him, there must needs be other ways, and one of these is to adopt Him in name and deny Him in nature. Antichrist is not the direct denial of Christ but the counterfeiting and supplanting of Him. Even Antichrist, then, is an acknowledgment of Christ. There may be a denial that Jesus is the Christ, but there is no denial that there is a Christ.

The Issue of the Present Hour

Now this latter fact is the very heart of the movement which is reaching such terrible and fierce proportions in our time. Dictatorship, whether it be ancient - as in the Caesars - or modern, can never remain and succeed without carrying with it worship. It is bound to become a religion. People therefore, either because they love to have a superman governing and leading them, or because conditions seem to make such essential, will look for a Messiah. The glorious hope and destiny of the people of God is bound up with the true Messiah. The doom of the rejectors is linked with the false Messiah. But the clash between the two, which is essentially a spiritual issue, and which is in principle already far advanced, means untold trouble and suffering while the sides are being determined. It is still very difficult to get people to see that what is happening is essentially spiritual in nature, and that the issue is Christ or Antichrist. So much is it so that there is still a large reserve and shrinking in speaking about Christ at all. Let it not be thought that this is but a passing phase. Even should there be a respite, and even should any present dictator be discredited and called a false prophet, there will only work more deeply and strongly the craving for a greater, and such will be hailed in due course to carry the quest for world domination still further and more ruthlessly than ever. The Word of God has been true in all its former major predictions; e.g. the coming of Christ at first; His death - its cause and form; the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; the destruction of Jerusalem and the setting aside under a curse of Jewry for the dispensation, etc; and this prophecy concerning the Antichrist will have as real a fulfilment: indeed only the blind can fail to see that it is now in course of fulfilment in a more far-reaching way than ever.

But that is not the end. "He shall come whose right it is to reign and over every name that has been named in relation to the domination of this world - in part or whole - His name shall be supreme.

"In the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"Oh that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall;
Join in the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all!"

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