The Mighty Name of Jesus

by Frank Viola author

In the Scriptures, the name of a person represents the person themselves. Thus, when the early Christians did something “in Jesus’ name,” they were doing it in the presence and the authority of Jesus.

Therefore, doing or saying something in Jesus’ name is like exercising a God-mandated power-of–attorney.

Jesus’ person is united to His name. For this reason, the New Testament uses believing in Jesus and believing in His name synonymously (John 1:12; 2:23; 3:18; 1 John 5:13).

Before Jesus rose again and ascended, He told His disciples that they hadn’t asked anything in His name (John 16:24). But He told them that after His ascension, whatsoever they asked in His name (or His person) would be granted them by the Father (John 16:23; 14:13–15).

The disciples cast out demons and healed the sick in Jesus’ name (Mark 16:17–18; Acts 3:1–6, 16; 16:18; James 5:14).

Salvation is found in no other name given under heaven (Acts 4:12). The name of Jesus stands above every other name, and at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in all three realms—heaven, hell, and earth (Phil. 2:9–11).

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Jesus Today

So who is Jesus today?

Is He someone who we remember and try to emulate? Or is He someone who is living and active and has a specific ministry?

In the previous pages, we’ve seen that the ascension of Jesus marks the commencement of His present-day ministry.

In reaching His own destiny, Jesus reached it for us, too. Christ led us to the place that neither Abraham, Moses, Joshua, nor David could ever lead us.

Jesus presents Himself to God the Father as high priest, as both offerer and offering. Since we are in Christ, as the Father receives Jesus, He also receives you and me.

When Christ ascended into heaven, He did not drop his human body. He is still the human Jesus with a glorified human body. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul called the glorified body of Jesus a “spiritual body” (v. 44). This doesn’t mean that He was a ghost. It means that His renewed physical body was energized by the Holy Spirit after His resurrection. In His glorified body, Jesus could eat and drink physical food. He could also pass through walls (Luke 24:13-35; John 20:26).

Consequently, Jesus continues His incarnation after His ascension and receives our humanity into Himself. He didn’t dispose of our humanity, but took it with Him into heavenly realms. Jesus penetrated the splendor of heaven wearing our flesh, bringing us to His Father.

Theologically speaking, the ascension reveals that Jesus’ incarnation continues, and the Father, Spirit, and Son have taken up our humanity into God’s bosom forever.

Jesus retains His humanity and His divinity and reigns over the world as the God-Man until all enemies are put under His feet (1 Cor. 15:20–28).

We, the collective people of God, are the continuing incarnation and presence of Jesus on the earth today.

by Frank Viola, author

The Lord’s Instrument

The Lord’s instrument for complete victory over the world is a company of people who have come under Christ’s rule and who possess His life and authority. They—the body of Jesus Christ—are the tool that God uses to crush Satan’s head practically and visibly.

The ekklesia fills the gap between the ascension and the second coming.

Where is Jesus now? He’s reigning at the right hand of God the Father until the day He returns to planet earth in glory. Christ is “at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:22).

For this reason, Scripture calls Him the ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5).

But as the body of Christ wages warfare against God’s Enemy, exercising the reality of D-Day, Jesus will finally return, and His kingdom of God will fill the whole earth “as the waters cover the sea.” V-Day will be here.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Hab. 2:14)

Then comes the end, when He [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (1 Cor. 15:24–26)

Even though he is a defeated foe, Satan repudiates the right of God to take his throne. And he is still seeking to take over all things.

But Jesus has already destroyed his power. God’s Enemy, then, is now an illegal alien roaming the earth.

One of Satan’s royal tactics is to convince humans that he doesn’t exist and to keep them ignorant of their true condition. Satan’s basic nature is selfishness. He is a liar, a thief, a killer, and a devourer. And his main tool is deception (John 8:44; 10:10–11; 1 Pet. 5:8).

By contrast, God is looking for His people to come into His kingdom and stand on this earth for His rights, making Him absolute Lord and doing warfare with His Enemy.

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)

The central question of the universe must be answered by us all, and it is this: Who will have your worship? Who will have your life? Who will have your allegiance?

Instead of Christians waiting for the Lord to return, God is waiting for the church to step into its role of taking the authority of Jesus and doing damage to Satan’s kingdom. Not by political or human energy and power. But by the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Frank Viola, author

Holding Fast to the Head by Frank Viola Author

Make no mistake about it. Holding fast to the headship of Christ (as Paul put it in Colossians) is not something that we are to practice as a last resort. Too often the mentality among Christians is, “I will do whatever I can, using my own cleverness, gifts, and abilities, and only rely upon the Lord when I cannot do any more.” This is foolish thinking at best. Our human ideas and philosophies cannot fulfill one fragment of God’s work.

A great deal of our ecclesiastical traditions and programs are nothing more than wood, hay, and stubble. The church is a spiritual organism. Only that which comes out of God’s indwelling life can accomplish His purpose.

Under the old covenant, Moses commanded that no oil be poured upon man’s flesh (Exod. 30:32). So too, the Spirit of God cannot anoint that which comes out of our human fleshly ideas. Recall the words of the Lord Jesus: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NKJV).

All of this will meet nodding heads from most Christians. But is it a reality? Is Jesus Christ truly the head of your church, or is someone else? Does the structure of your church allow for Jesus Christ to lead and direct His people through His body, or does it prevent that from happening? And how about your life?

God desires to sum up all things in His Son. That which originates from fallen humanity’s ideas, traditions, and systems will not last. Only that which comes out of Christ can find God’s highest blessing.

Even now, the Lord is awaiting a people to give Him that place of preeminence. When God’s people put themselves under His direct headship, the result is unity (Ps. 133). One day Christ will indeed be the “head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22 ESV), nothing excluded. His present-day ministry as head of the church is moving the world in that direction.

Jesus, Head of the Church

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:18 KJV

Throughout the New Testament, there is a subtle distinction between the headship of Christ and the lordship of Jesus.

The headship of Christ virtually always has in view Christ’s relationship with His body (Eph. 1:22–23; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:19). The lordship of Christ virtually always has in view His relationship with His individual disciples (Matt. 7:21–22; Luke 6:46; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9, 13; 1 Cor. 6:17).

What lordship is to the individual, headship is to the church. Headship and lordship are two dimensions of the same thing. Headship is lordship worked out in the corporate life of God’s people.

A believer may truly submit to the lordship of Jesus in his or her personal life. He may obey what he understands in the Bible. She may pray fervently. He may live self-sacrificially. Yet at the same time, these people may know nothing about shared ministry, mutual submission, or corporate testimonyTo be subject to the headship of Jesus is to respond to His will regarding the life and practice of the church. Submission to the headship of Christ includes obtaining God’s mind through mutual ministry and sharing, obeying the Holy Spirit through mutual subjection and servanthood, and testifying to Jesus Christ collectively through mutual sharing and corporate witness.

Submission to the headship of Christ incarnates the New Testament reality that Jesus is not only Lord of the lives of women and men—He is also Master of the life of the church. One of the moments where this became strongly apparent was through the life of a young brother in Christ who came as a visitor to one of our open-participatory church meetings in which I was a part.  The young man was saved before he visited us. And from what I could tell, he had a strong devotional life. But he would show up once in a while for our meetings, and when he did show up, he was quiet through most of them.

He continued to visit our gatherings on and off for several months. Then he moved away to another city to attend college there.

Several months later, he returned. Through a  series of poor choices, frustrating events, and personal convictions, he ended his academic career. With a broken voice, he communicated that more than anything he simply missed being a part of the church. I found this interesting as he wasn’t exactly devoted to the group when he was in town, and he never really participated or functioned much.

The next week, however, he threw himself into the life of the church. If there was a practical need, he was helping with it. If there was an opportunity to pursue Christ with others, he showed up. If there was a decision-making meeting, he was there and he participated. He even started to function in our open meetings, and his contributions were edifying. Then slowly, we began to see his friends coming to the meetings. His friends were inspired by his story of redemption, faith, and community. And they were drawn to “come and see.”

This young man’s life was changed forever by simply seeing a group of people responding to a Jesus he didn’t know too well. He was seeing Jesus in corporate expression. But it took his going to college, having a bad experience there, and coming back again to realize he needed Christ and His body. He was awakened to the fact that He needed face-to-face community.

This little story is so familiar and common that it can be multiplied by many who have been part of churches that are strong on intense community and mutual sharing. The young man’s story is an example of what it means to make Christ head over one’s life.

Interestingly, Paul said that when Christ’s headship is established in His body, He will become head over all things in the universe (Col. 1:16–18).

by Frank Viola, author

Charismania versus Charisphobia

In 1 Corinthians 12:7–10 (NIV), Paul discussed the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, saying,

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

As the name implies, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given by God to manifest—to make known or display—the presence of Jesus Christ to and through His church.

Since the Holy Spirit’s job is to glorify and reveal Christ (John 16:13–14), the manifestation of the Spirit is designed to unveil Christ. Spiritual manifestations are given by God’s grace; consequently, Paul called them “spiritual gifts” (charisma in the Greek; 1 Cor. 12:4, 30–31).

All nine gifts that Paul listed in the above text are miraculous in nature. That is, they display Christ in a supernatural way. Throughout the New Testament, Paul made a healthy distinction between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit displays the character of God’s life in the believer. The manifestation of the Spirit displays the power of God’s life through the believer. The fruit of the Spirit relates to our walk. The manifestation of the Spirit relates to our service. Fruit deals with the character of Jesus. Gifts deal with the ministry of Jesus.

Spiritual manifestations have been a sore spot for the Lord’s people for centuries. Some have embraced the notion that those gifts are no longer present in the church.

Such folks are called “cessationists,” for they believe that spiritual gifts have ceased to exist. But there is no biblical merit for the cessationist idea. The testimony of Scripture as well as church history demonstrates that the gifts of the Spirit have been operative in the church since they were given on the day of Pentecost in AD 30.

Nevertheless, among those who accept the perpetuity—or continuation—of spiritual manifestations, there have been two predominant schools of thought:

  1. Spiritual gifts should be sought after and encouraged, for they are the zenith of spirituality.
  2. Spiritual gifts should be hindered and discouraged, for they are easily abused and often cause division, confusion, and hurt.

We will call the first view the charismaniac position and the second view the charisphobic position. I submit that both positions are imbalanced.

by Frank Viola author in Jesus Now.