Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
While listening to the Bible on my way to work, I realized that in the opening of 1 Corinthians Paul mentions Jesus’ name (and title of Christ) a lot. Seriously, check this out:
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ– their Lord and ours:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way- in all your speaking and in all your knowledge- because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gifts as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:1-9).
[I added the bolding to show emphasis] Across nine verses Paul says Jesus Christ or some variant thereof a total of nine times. It’s like he can’t get enough of saying Jesus’ name. “Clearly,” I thought, “there must be something to this.” The Holy Spirit agreed and explained it to me.
In Revelation 2:4, Jesus mentions to the Christians in Ephesus, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” My first love? Does that mean the first woman I fell in love with? No, of course not. You see, only Christians experience true love, love that is entirely pure. Where does that love come from? God. John explained this when he wrote his first epistle. John wrote, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love here on earth is just an imitation of the love that God has shown to his people on the earth. Furthermore, his love is better than the love we can produce; for it is written, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9). I’m going to go out on a limb and say that nobody can reproduce the level of love that we receive from God. Sure, there is self-sacrificing love here on earth; but God, of whom we were enemies through sin –completely disobedient to him and against him, sent his own son to die that we may live. That’s a love that humanity cannot reproduce. True love comes from God and it is manifested in Christ Jesus. John 3:16 reminds us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And again, it is written in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So who is our first love? It is Jesus Christ, the living embodiment of God’s love.
Alright, I have a confession to make: This message is for me. Jesus name is the name above every name; literally, because the Bible says,
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
And gave him the name that is above every name,
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 (Philippians 2:9-11).
And yet, even with this knowledge, I am hesitant to use the name of Jesus. I’ve been working on using Jesus’ name more when I’m writing, but in daily conversation I’m far more apt to just say “God” or “the Lord” when really it was through the name of Jesus Christ that I was saved. In fact, according to Peter, there is no other way to be saved than through the name of Jesus Christ: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). So this is certainly a personal failing of mine. One great credit I must give the church in Korea (where I live) is that they use the name of Jesus far more freely. Even the children are more likely to say “Jesus” rather than “God.” Perhaps that is why there are so many Christians in Korea (including one of the world’s largest churches). In fact, I’ve felt like a virus at times because my “God” preference has rubbed off on a few people while their “Jesus” talk has left me largely unchanged.
But the truth is that only through Christ Jesus can one be saved; for it is written,
…That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).
Jesus is the heart of Christendom- even his title is in the word. Is he the heart of your world? Maybe we should pray together.
I have forgotten my first love,
Even if in name only.
Forgive me for forgetting about you
And letting other things take precedent in my life.
Holy Spirit, remind me;
Yell the name of Jesus in my ears if you have to.
Don’t let me ever forget about you again, Lord Jesus.
In your name, Jesus, I pray,