The Name That Leads to True Faith
“YOU do not believe in Jesus and his redeeming blood,” said a woman to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A man asserted: “You call yourselves Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I am a witness of Jesus.”
The view that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in Jesus or that they do not give him enough prominence is quite common. What, though, are the facts?
It is true that Jehovah’s Witnesses feel strongly about God’s name, Jehovah.a Itamar, a Witness in Brazil, recalls: “The turning point in my life came when I learned the name of God. When I read it for the first time, it was as if I had awakened from a deep sleep. The name Jehovah shook me and moved me; it touched the deepest part of my soul.” Nevertheless, he adds: “My heart overflows with love for Jesus as well.”
Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize that to gain everlasting life, they must put faith “in the name of the Son of God,” Jesus. (1 John 5:13) But what is meant by the expression ‘in the name of Jesus’?
What Jesus’ Name Stands For
“In the name of Jesus” and similar expressions are found throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures, or “New Testament.” In fact, the word “name” used with reference to Jesus’ role appears more than 80 times, some 30 times in the book of Acts alone. The first-century Christians baptized in Jesus’ name, cured in his name, taught in his name, called on his name, suffered for his name, and magnified his name.—Acts 2:38; 3:16; 5:28; 9:14, 16; 19:17.
According to one Bible dictionary, the Greek word for “name” is frequently used in the Bible “for all that a name implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the name covers.” Jesus’ name, therefore, stands for the majestic and vast executive authority that Jehovah God has entrusted to him. Jesus himself stated: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) After Peter and John had cured a lame man, the Jewish religious leaders demanded: “By what power or in whose name did you do this?” Peter then boldly expressed his faith in the authority and power represented by Jesus’ name when he made known that it was “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, . . . by this one does this man stand here sound in front of you.”—Acts 3:1-10; 4:5-10.
Faith in Jesus or in Caesar?
Professing such faith in Jesus’ name, however, would not be easy. As Jesus had foretold, his disciples would be ‘objects of hatred by all the nations on account of his name.’ (Matthew 24:9) Why? Because Jesus’ name represents his position as God’s appointed Ruler, the King of kings, to whom all the nations should bow in submission, something they are not ready or willing to do.—Psalm 2:1-7.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day also did not want to bow in submission to Jesus. They stated: “We have no king but Caesar,” thereby rejecting God’s Son. (John 19:13-15) Instead, they put their faith in the name—the power and authority—of Caesar and his imperial government. They even decided that Jesus should die so that they could preserve their position and rank.—John 11:47-53.
In the centuries after Jesus’ death, many of those who claimed to be Christians adopted an attitude similar to that of the Jewish leaders. These so-called Christians put their faith in the power and authority of the State and got involved in its conflicts. For instance, in the 11th century, after the church had organized idle warriors into the militia Christi, or Christian knights, “the responsibility for the conduct of just war was removed from the secular powers of Christendom and assumed, instead, by the church through the agency of its Christian knights.” (The Oxford History of Christianity) The account adds that certain papal declarations led the majority of crusaders to believe that by taking part in crusades, “they had made a contract with God and had assured themselves of a place in Paradise.”
Some may argue that it is possible to be loyal to Jesus and at the same time participate in political affairs, as well as in the nations’ wars. They may feel that it is the Christian’s duty to combat evil wherever it may be found and that this includes resorting to war if necessary. But did the early Christians share this view?
“The earliest Christians did not serve in the armed forces,” states an article in The Christian Century magazine. It explains that until the decade of 170-180 C.E., there is no evidence whatever that Christians served in the army. The article then adds: “Only gradually did Christians abandon their opposition to military service.”
What have been the consequences? “Perhaps nothing has done more to discredit Christianity than its practice of taking a stand virtually indistinguishable from that of non-Christians on the practice of war,” notes The Christian Century article. “That Christians on the one hand espouse the faith of the gentle Savior while on the other they warmly support religious or nationalistic wars has gone far toward damaging the faith.”
Imitating the Early Christians Today
Is it possible for Christians today to imitate the sterling example of the early Christians? Jehovah’s Witnesses in this century have shown that it is. Speaking about them, the editor of Holocaust Educational Digest noted: “No Jehovah’s Witness will ever go to war. . . . If everyone in the world in position of power had been of this faith, [World War II] would never have happened.”
The same can be said of more recent regional conflicts, such as the one that raged in Northern Ireland. Some years ago, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses was preaching from house to house in a Protestant area in the city of Belfast. One householder, after learning that the Witness had formerly been a Catholic, asked: “When you were a Catholic, did you support the IRA [Irish Republican Army]?” The Witness realized that the man could turn violent because he had been detained after being caught armed with a gun on his way to kill a Catholic and had just been released. So the Witness answered: “I am not a Catholic now. I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a true Christian, I would never kill anyone for any government or any man.” With that the householder shook his hand and said: “All killing is wrong. You people are doing good work. Keep it up.”
What Putting Faith in Jesus’ Name Means
Putting faith in Jesus’ name, however, means more than simply refraining from war. It means obeying all of Christ’s commandments. After all, Jesus stated: “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you,” and one of his commandments is that we “love one another.” (John 15:14, 17) Love seeks to do good to others. It banishes all racial, religious, and social prejudice. Jesus demonstrated how.
The Jews in Jesus’ day had strong feelings against the Samaritans. In contrast, Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman, and as a result, she and many others put faith in his name. (John 4:39) Jesus also stated that his disciples would be witnesses of him “both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) His life-giving message was not to be restricted to the Jews. Accordingly, Peter was instructed to visit the Roman centurion Cornelius. Although it was unlawful for a Jew to visit someone of another race, God showed Peter that he “should call no man defiled or unclean.”—Acts 10:28.
In imitation of Jesus, Jehovah’s Witnesses willingly help all people—whatever their racial, religious, or economic background—to learn of the salvation that comes through Jesus’ name. Faith in Jesus’ name moves them ‘publicly to declare that Jesus is Lord.’ (Romans 10:8, 9) We urge you to accept their help so that you too may learn to put faith in Jesus’ name.
The name of Jesus should truly inspire feelings of honor, respect, and obedience. The apostle Paul stated: “In the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10, 11) Even though the majority of earth’s inhabitants may not be willing to submit to Jesus’ rule, the Bible shows that the time is near when all people will have to do so or perish. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) Now, therefore, is the time to put faith in Jesus’ name by keeping all his commandments.
a For further information, see the brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, pages 28-31, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1984.
[Picture on page 6]
In Jesus’ name, millions have killed and been killed
[Picture on page 7]
Jesus did not harbor racial prejudice. Do you?