Scriptural Gem for June 2014

In Acts 22:16 we read: Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.’

The words above were spoken by a man named Ananias who was sent by God to speak to the Apostle Paul (still called Saul at that time), just after his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus. Many Christians think that what Ananias is saying to Paul is to get baptized, wash away his sins and to call out to God.
However, the Greek word used here is 'Epikaleomai' which means 'To be surnamed, to be titled by'...

So what Ananias is saying is that Paul, after having been baptized and cleansed from his sin, can then call himself by God's name or 'be surnamed' by God. Think about that for a moment... does it not call to mind for you that other most important verse in Exodus 20:7: 'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain?' In this verse the original Hebrew follows the same line as our reading above. In the original Hebrew it reads: '...for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who bears His Name while empty'. Here is some serious food for thought. We cannot just call ourselves by God's name, call ourselves 'Christian' because we do 'Christian' things like go to church or read the Bible or give to charity. It is only if Christ is living in us and we are no longer 'empty' that we may call ourselves by His Name at all!

And of course the link with the symbol of baptism is clear - we die (sink beneath the water) and are raised with the life of Christ. Galatians 2:20 puts it beautifully: 'I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me...' Dear friends, it is not only unlawful to call ourselves by God's Name if we do not have Christ in us - it is downright dangerous! I believe the devil seeks out those who do, so that he can bring great dishonour to God's Name...

Heavenly Father, cleanse us and come and make your dwelling in us, that we may call ourselves 'Christian' Amen.

Werner Schreiber