Romans 1:5 says, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” Paul is speaking of his ministry as an apostle here; he desired to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations for one reason: the sake of His name.
I’m currently working through a commentary on the book of Romans by John Stott and here is what he had to say on this small, but very important phrase:
“Why did Paul desire to bring the nations to the obedience of faith? It was for the sake of the glory and honour of Christ’s name. For God had ‘exalted him to the highest place’ and had given him ‘the name that is above every name’, in order that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’. If, therefore, God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess him, so should we. We should be ‘jealous’ (as Scripture sometimes puts it) for the honour of his name – troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due it.”
Take the time to re-read that last sentence, for it’s the most convicting one. Whe you’re done, I’ll let John continue:
“The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but rather zeal – burning passionate zeal – for the glory of Jesus Christ.”
Go ahead. Let that one sink in for a moment. He continues:
“Some evangelism, to be sure, is no better than a thinly disguised form of imperialism, whenever our real ambition is for the honour of our nation, church, organization, or ourselves. Only one imperialism is Christian, however, and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire or kingdom. The earliest Christians, John tells us, went out ‘for the sake of the Name’. He does not specify to which name he is referring. But we know. And Paul tells us. It is the incomparable name of Jesus. Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.
“To sum up, here are six fundamental truths about the gospel. Its origin is God the Father and its substance Jesus Christ his Son. Its attestation is Old Testament Scripture and it’s scope all the nations. Our immediate purpose in proclaiming it is to bring people to the obedience of faith, but our ultimate goal is the greater glory of the name of Jesus Christ. Or, to simplify these truths by the use of six prepositions, we cans say that the good news is the gospel of God, about Christ, according to Scripture, for the nations, unto the obedience of faith, and for the sake of the Name.”
I’ve been pondering on what John Stott says here for a few weeks now. It has fueled the foundation for two lessons and several conversations. John’s main focus here is missions but I cannot help but bring his insight into daily-life. Will I boldly honor the name of Jesus Christ?
Will I be “anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due it”?