Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hallowed be Thy Name

Sem. Roger Mullet
Lent Mid-week 2
Feb. 17, 2016
“Hallowed be Thy name”

Friends in Christ, I urge you all to lift up your hearts to God and pray with me as Christ our Lord has taught us and freely promised to hear us…

                God, our Father in heaven, look with mercy on us, Your needy children on earth, and grant us grace that Your Holy Name be hallowed among us and all the world through the pure and true teaching of Your Word and the fervent love shown forth in our lives. Graciously turn from us all false doctrine and evil living whereby Your precious Name is blasphemed and profaned. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. This marks the second in our Lenten mid-week series looking at the Lord’s Prayer. Tonight we examine what the catechism calls the first petition. From Matthew 6, verse 9: “Hallowed be Thy Name.”  Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου.  Literally, “make Your Name to be holy” or “let Your Name be recognized as holy.”

How, then, is God’s name kept holy? How is God’s name recognized as holy? Perhaps we should first examine what we’re actually asking for when we pray this petition. Hallowed be Thy name. God’s name is holy in and of itself, since God is divine. God’s name is that thing by which He relates to us in His Word! We call Him “God” and He calls us His people. And because He has revealed His name to us, in our sinful natures we know we cannot make it holy. But here, we ask that God would help us to keep His name holy among us. Recall Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”

How, then, do we do this? How is God’s name kept holy among us? God’s name is kept holy when God’s Word is taught among us in its truth and purity! Sound doctrine honors God’s name! Faithfulness to God’s Word honors His name! Jeremiah says “Let the one who has My Word speak it faithfully.” John’s Gospel declares “Your Word is truth!” God’s name is kept holy when we hear the Word gladly, teach it in truth and purity, and proclaim that His Word, the Holy Bible, is truthful and without error. This is how we keep God’s name holy.

On the other hand, how is God’s name profaned? That’s the language of the small catechism – to profane God’s name would be the opposite of keeping God’s name holy. How is God’s name profaned? We might first look to the second commandment! “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.” What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name… OMG. That’s profaning God’s name. The use of God’s name in that way – casually, without recognizing what it is! – is profanity.

What about lying or deceiving by His name? Remember what God’s name is – His revealed name for us to know Him by! It is intricately connected to His Word! Lying and deceiving by His name is the same as teaching God’s Word falsely. Remember those “prosperity gospel” preachers I talked about on Sunday? If you missed it, these are men and women who preach health, wealth, and prosperity for anyone who has enough faith or prays hard enough. As I said before, this is NOT in the Bible. This is a LIE about what God’s Word says, and therefore it is a profanity to God’s name.

But that’s not all. Profaning God’s name doesn’t stop at teaching God’s Word falsely. What about living God’s Word falsely? As Paul says in Romans 2, “You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of YOU.’” Here Paul is talking about those Christians who preach one thing and live another. Hypocrisy! Do you chastise a friend for cursing and then turn around and do it yourself? Do you reprimand your neighbor for supporting same-sex marriage and then fail to defend Biblical marriage? God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles, the secular world, because of us! The Christians! How can we expect the world to honor and glorify God’s name when we don’t do it ourselves?! Yes, dear brothers and sisters, we’ve all lived contrary to God’s Word in some way, shape, or form…and thus we are all guilty of profaning God’s name.

Thanks be to God that His name is holy with or without our influence on it. His Name and His Word need nothing added or subtracted; they are perfect and holy in and of themselves. And just as God’s Word is given to us as a gift for us to use, so also He has given us His name in the person of Jesus. Jesus kept God’s name holy where we could not and lived according to God’s Word where we could not! And in Holy Baptism we experience the great exchange, for in baptism God exchanges the perfect, holy life of Jesus for our sinful one. In Holy Baptism, we receive the free gift of God’s holy name, spoken over us, placed upon us, as the water washes away our sins.

And so in Holy Baptism we are joined to Jesus’ perfect life, yes, but also his death and resurrection. Through the gifts received in baptism we therefore have the sure and certain hope of everlasting life in heaven! Through baptism we receive the Holy Spirit, who works in us to keep God’s name holy. He works in us to teach God’s Word in truth and purity. He works in us to pray faithfully, “Hallowed be Thy name.” All this we have only from the free gift of God’s Holy Name. Hallowed be His name. In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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