This Is the Way Walk in It: "And You Hold Fast to My Name"

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"And You Hold Fast to My Name"

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Sometimes we rhetorically ask, "What's in a name?" Well, to the Church members of Pergamos and to the ascended Jesus Christ, the answer is: "Plenty!" You might say, "Everything." The onslaught of prophesied persecution (fulfilling Christ's statement in John 15:20 John 15:20Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
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: "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you") was already underway in Asia Minor. Prophecy was no longer simply a matter of Spirit-led consideration but was now directly impacting them.

Antipas, one of their own, who the ascended Christ called "my faithful martyr," had rendered the supreme sacrifice. Antipas had "held fast" to more than simply a signature or the verbalizing of an individual's given title.

There is something far deeper here for us to understand when it comes to what and why Christ complimented this challenged congregation. It gives us reason to pause and discover the cause behind the name of the One for whom Antipas offered his ultimate supreme devotion. The answer behind the name may hold the key to how you will handle not only your many tomorrows, but the momentary challenges facing you today.

"Whatever you ask the Father in My name"

Approximately 60 years before John wrote, Jesus in His earthly ministry had challenged His followers. One of those followers, John, recorded that challenging promise for us: "Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you" (John 16:23 John 16:23And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Truly, truly, I say to you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
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). Jesus was pointing to a means for His followers to move beyond both the daily personal challenges and the gathering storm clouds of world events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ.

As God in the flesh, when Jesus mentioned this key to spiritual success to His followers, He foresaw the rise of despicable first-century persecutors like Nero and Domitian, who strove to strangle Christianity at its infancy. Even as He uttered these words, He foresaw (and would later reveal in His revelation to John) the coming of the dragon persecuting and chasing the woman into the wilderness (Revelation 12), a Beast and a religious deceiver (Revelation 13), and a world-dominating political, economic and religious system referred to as Babylon (Revelation 17 and 18).

In the midst of these collisions with God's purpose, Christ also foresaw your desire to be a light for Him in an increasingly darkening society. No way does He want you to be left lost in a world that increasingly seems purposeless.

But, before we go further, let's clear up something that could be a hindering misperception among some, especially new believers. Jesus never intended His name to merely be the conclusion of a prayer or some form of spiritual ATM machine from which our specific needs come rolling out. But understanding the fullness of what Christ's name means is important for praying meaningful and powerful prayers.

The all-encompassing quality of a name

There was a time when a name was the full personification of all that a person encompassed. A name spoke to one's reputation based on his or her full capacity. Names were not merely spelled or written out. No, they were lived out and known by reputation! Your word was your bond, and your name sealed it.

It now begins to make scriptural sense why Paul encourages the Ephesians to know "what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come" (Ephesians 1:19-21 Ephesians 1:19-21 [19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, [20] Which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
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Considering that Christ's name is above all names, is it any wonder that the apostle John would later write that it was our Heavenly Father's desire that "we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 3:23 1 John 3:23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
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)? John didn't say, "Spell it, sign it or say it out loud." He said, "Believe it!"

What would such belief in a name have meant to Antipas and his fellow saints in Pergamos? What exactly did they hold to by holding fast to Christ's name? Was their understanding of this name above all names possibly parallel to that of those mentioned who would yet be in the future who "did not love their lives to the death" (Revelation 12:11 Revelation 12:11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.
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)? With that said, what are you holding onto right now?

Scripture spells out the name

Let's allow the Scriptures to fill in not the letters of a name, but the attributes that all saints of God need to keep in heart when they "ask in His name."

Antipas perhaps had held to the reality found in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, which declared that Jesus is the Beloved of God (Ephesians 1:6 Ephesians 1:6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.
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). God's Son is at the center of all that the Father desires.

Antipas would have further strengthened his grip on the teachings of John that confirmed that Jesus was the Word of God (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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). Jesus is not only the "Logos" or Word who is esteemed on par with God, but He is the effective and powerful Word who calls creation out of nothing and life out of death. Christ is not simply the informative Word of God who brings information, but the One who brings forth creation and the transformation of men's lives.

Antipas would have probably come to appreciate the aspect of Christ's prophesied name that echoes from the messianic prophecy of Isaiah. He proclaimed 700 years beforehand that one named Immanuel or "God with us" would proceed from heaven to earth so that man might touch God and, in turn, God might be touched by the existence and frailty of His creation.

Antipas might have remembered that one of the descriptions of the One for whom he would die was simply "the carpenter" or "carpenter's son" (Mark 6:3 Mark 6:3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
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; Matthew 13:55 Matthew 13:55Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
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). Perhaps such name identification would remind him that the One whose name he held onto not only created wood, but would work with wood and die on a cross of wood (Galatians 3:13 Galatians 3:13Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree:
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One name leads to another

The Beloved. The Word. Immanuel. The Carpenter. Perhaps the understanding of one facet of the fullness of that name above all names would guide Antipas to reflect on another name that Jesus Himself disclosed: "I am the door" (John 10:9 John 10:9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
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). Yes, He is our gateway to the Father above. He is our only entrance to this meaningful relationship as "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
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). The One known as the "Door" is our return path to Eden in which God Himself desired to walk and talk with His special creation. He will yet abide again in the midst of another garden prophesied in Revelation 22:1-5 Revelation 22:1-5 [1] And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. [2] In the middle of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bore twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [3] And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: [4] And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. [5] And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
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But what happens when the door is seemingly slammed in our face and life is closing in all around us? It was then that perhaps Antipas and his fellow saints in Pergamos remembered how Jesus identified Himself as "I am the resurrection and the life" and went on to state, "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25 John 11:25Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
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Piecing together a name of peace

As Antipas faced death, perhaps his heart beckoned forth one more name that would comfort him in his last moments. He recalled that the One on whose behalf he was about to die was called "Prince of Peace" by the prophet of old (Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
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). The One to whose name he had held fast was the very same One who, by His own death on the cross, had ended once and forever the conflict between God and man.

Antipas must have realized that the peace that God grants is a divine calm that works from the inside out. It's a peace that is better than knowledge, better than any understanding man might conjure up. It is the peace of knowing that what our Heavenly Father allows right now in our lives is best, even as His goodness for us is always better than our human best (Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:6-7 [6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [7] And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
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Was Antipas humanly concerned as he was led to his death? I'm sure he was, for you and I would be too. After all, death places the mind in a wondrous focus. But was he worried? I tend to doubt it. Did he somehow doubt God's love? I don't think so, because one of Christ's most oft-mentioned names is "the Lamb of God." That precious name makes plain the divine family's own planned-out self-sacrifice for us. Was God's unfathomable and undeniable love in question? No!

Did Antipas doubt God's wisdom at the time of his impending martyrdom? I have a hunch that his mind and heart were in a good place as he recalled one of Christ's titles being "the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24 1 Corinthians 1:24But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
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). Worry or doubt by this man of Asia Minor would have indicated his concern that somehow God is not able to plan for His own or that the Master of our lives doesn't know what is best for those who belong to Him.

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow

Is it possible that, as Antipas faced his executioner, he doubted the power of God to intervene in his life at this seemingly most critical moment? Perhaps as he said his last prayers he reflected on what Paul had shared with the Philippians when they needed comfort the most, that "God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11 Philippians 2:9-11 [9] Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: [10] That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [11] And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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). This Christian brother of the first century understood that the name that he held fast to signified a spectacular existence that knew no bounds and met no borders.

As we approach the future, let's remember one simple line: "You hold fast to My name." This reminds us of a simple truth that prophecy is not about what you know, but what you are because of who you know. We should be growing each day to become more like Him.

Until that day when we will be united with Christ, Antipas and all those yet to understand the power of this One's name, let's fulfill the encouragement of Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
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of "this is the way, walk in it" by holding fast to that name.