Grace For The Journey
I had an evangelism professor in seminary who told of discussions he had with Muslims – a particular one had to do with their 99 names the Muslims have for God. They are supposed to continually think about these names as a way to worship and also understand how magnificent God is. Dr. Fish said he asked the young man to explain some of the names and to tell him which were their favorites. This opened a door for him to discuss the Bible’s Names for God, and he would talk very specifically about the special Name for God found in Matthew 1:23, “’Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’”
He then asked this follower of Mohammad if “Immanuel” was one of their 99 names or if he had ever heard of this Name. Dr. Fish reported, “The answer is always negative to both questions,” and then he would go on to say that this would allow him to explain what this name means and why it is so special.
Immanuel – God with us – what an incredible Name!
We often take the incarnation for granted, but what an amazing truth we have in our Christian faith.
A popular idea in our tolerant world in which we live is to conceive of God sitting on top of a mountain for which there are many roads that lead to the top, one for each religion. Bible-believing Christians are quick to respond that there is only one road up the mountain – one way! But the Name “Immanuel” blows the many road up the mountain analogy away.
God is not sitting on a mountain
Waiting for us to climb up to Him.
He has come to us!
Through the incarnation, Jesus came, and as fully God and fully man, He dwelt with us. My purpose in life is not to climb the mountain as best I can in the hope that I will find God. I need to recognize Him as having come to us in the person of Jesus Christ and that His death, burial, and resurrection has given me an opportunity to have a relationship with God.
An essential principle in all other religions is that
A person must make a lifetime of continual effort in order to get to God.
These religions may have many different names for God (or many gods), but without exception, the name “Immanuel” will be absent. What a great tragedy! How is it that this most special Name for God is unheard of?
Immanuel is a Name that is full of so much
Good News for every person in this world!
Think how this Name even connects all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
The Bible tells us that when Adam and Eve sinned, they hide from God.
But we read that instead of them going to God, He goes to them.
He seeks them out while they are in sinful rebellion.
Sadly, this Name has lost its awe and wonder in the Church where it is heard the most. We have reduced it to a line in a Christmas carol and then pack it away until next Christmas.
This Name is good news at all times.
Do not ever get over the wonder
That God came to us and,
By the Holy Spirit, continues to be with us!
Do you wonder about how to start a witnessing conversation with people from another religion?
Try asking them about the names of their god and then tell them about Immanuel.
Make it personal by explaining how God with us became God with you.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”