Our Father, Glorify Your Name through Us!
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for revealing Yourself, Your Son, and the Holy Spirit to me in Your Word. All the things You have shown & taught me about Yourself are true. They are what bring to me salvation from my sin. Still, I don’t always give Your Word the “set-aside-place” in my life and heart that it deserves. Forgive me my sin, and create in me a deep love for You that shows itself in all that I do. Bless us all in worship today, I pray. Amen.
The “name” of God is much more than the actual names by which He is known. God’s name is everything He has revealed about Himself in His Word. When Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Lord proclaimed the name of the Lord to Him. The Lord proclaimed that He is a just God who will judge sin; but He is also long-suffering, merciful, gracious, abounding in goodness and truth.
God reveals His name to us in His Word. Therefore, God’s Word should be our greatest treasure which we value greatly and guard zealously. Paul reminded Timothy of the treasure we have in God’s Word—it makes us wise for salvation; and warned him of the need to guard the treasure—many false prophets will come and many hearers won’t want to hear the truth.
Text: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear fellow-redeemed through Christ Jesus our Savior:
“God’s Word is STILL Our Great Heritage!” This was the theme for the 24thConvention of the Church of the Lutheran Confession—our church body—which was held last week. It is a very fitting theme for any congregation or church body that is founded upon and built upon the truth of God’s Word. It is a fitting theme for any and all children of God who value and treasure that Word of God as the source of their salvation. It was an especially fitting theme for this year’s Convention because this year, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. God’s Word was the heritage of the infant church body 40 years ago, it still is today, and we pray it will always remain so.
“God’s Word is STILL Our Great Heritage!” is likewise a fitting theme for this weekend, because this weekend the “early years” reunion of students, faculty, and host families of Immanuel Lutheran High School and College took place here at Immanuel. It was a reunion from the early years of schools that were begun even before the CLC began. God’s Word was the heritage which moved the hearts of God’s people to establish a Christian high school, college, and seminary. It was the word of God that moved the hearts of parents to send their children here and moved the hearts of students to come. God’s Word is also the heritage that was passed down from teacher to student.
There are many different things that can take place in 40 years. I’m sure that many of those things were reviewed and shared last night at the reunion. During the week of Convention, there were many different things discussed, decisions in many different areas were made. Many things were learned and understanding was solidified through presentations and discussion. All of these things—all of the business of the Convention, all of the things reviewed at the reunion—all of these could be taken and boiled down and condensed into one prayer to God. That prayer is: “Hallowed be Thy Name.”
This is the petition of the Lord’s Prayer to which we come this morning in our summer series on the Lord’s Prayer. It is the first petition of the Lord’s prayer and it is the petition from which all the others flow. It is a prayer around which we can organize all of our life and all we do as children of God, whether that be individually, congregationally, or synodically.Everything depends upon God’s name and His Word. If God’s name is not hallowed, we have nothing! Then, everything else becomes meaningless.
We will see how this is true as this morning we consider this petition and offer the prayer: OUR FATHER, GLORIFY YOUR NAME THROUGH US! I. Use us as faithful spokesmen for Your Word II. Create us as living examples of Your Will.
There are certain names that can be spoken and immediately almost everyone would know exactly who that person is and a description of that person would come to mind. For example, if I say the name, “George Washington” that name will bring to mind things like: 1st president, crossing the Delaware, the face on the $1 bill. Another example: “Judas Iscariot” This name calls to mind things like: betrayer, 30 pieces of silver, hanging himself.
A name is more than just the letters that form the words. Your name includes everything that people about you—your appearance, where you live, your personality, where you work, your reputation, etc. Some people know more about you, some people know less, and some nothing at all, but whatever they do know is attached to your name and is what will come to mind when they hear your name.
This truth about names applies to God’s name as well. God gives us many names for Himself such as Immanuel, Lord, God, Jehovah, Jesus, Father-Son-Holy Ghost… However, God’s name is not just the titles, but includeseverything He has told us about Himself. God tells us about Himself in His Word. Speaking to His heavenly Father on the night He was arrested, Jesus said, “I have manifested (revealed, shown, made known) Your name to the men whom You have given me out of the world…“ Throughout His ministry, Jesus had been revealing God’s name by proclaiming the Word of God to the people.
Our prayer in the 1st petition is that we would “hallow” everything that God has told us about Himself. In other words, that we would treat God and what we know about Him as something unique…set apart, totally different and above and distinct from everything else. In the 1st Commandment God says, “You shall have NO other Gods.” We hallow God’s name when we act like as if He IS the only true God, which He is. We hallow God’s name when we give full honor and glory to God and to His Word and listen to Him. We further hallow His name when we make use of what God has taught us about Himself and do so for His intended purposes.
God’s name is hallowed—set apart—all by itself. There is really nothing you or I can do to change God and His name. There is nothing that we can do to change who He is or what He has done. God HAS all honor and glory because He is the only true God. There is nothing we can do that will diminish the glory or honor that He possesses and deserves. Despite all the centuries of evil and opposition against the true God ever since the beginning of sin, He doesn’t change. Our prayer is that WE hallow His name.
What we do won’t affect God and His name, but how we treat God and His name will most certainly affect US…now and eternally. It is God’s will that we hallow His name in our lives. He says, “I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another…” (Isaiah 42:8). And again, “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3).
The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians with the prayer that God’s name be hallowed among them. He said, “Therefore, we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling.” [v.11,12b]
To understand the calling to which Paul refers, we need to go back into the earlier verses. Earlier Paul had spoken of the growing in faith (v.3)…being part of the kingdom of God—having been made believers (v.5)…just before our text, Paul comments how the Thessalonians would not be among those whom God will destroy in eternal destruction (vv.8-9)…but rather would be among the saints when Christ returns (v.10). Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians was that they would be considered “worthy” of that calling. In other words, that God would look upon them and regard them as worthy and qualified to be children of God, faithfully living in His kingdom. The truth is, that one of the Thessalonians nor we could be worthy of that calling EXCEPT—through Christ Jesus.
Paul’s prayer that the Thessalonians be found worthy of the calling as believers, was a prayer that they continue on in the faith into which they had been brought. The Thessalonians had been brought to faith. Through faith in Christ they had received the redemption which Christ won when He died on the cross for the sins of all people. This conversion—this bringing them into this calling of believers was accomplished through the Word of God. God had begun this saving work in the hearts of the Thessalonians through His Word and Paul prayed that they would continue in that Word. Paul goes on in his prayer “and [that God would] fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and work of faith with power [v.11]…that you may be glorified in our Lord Jesus Christ” [v.12]
Paul was praying that God’s power would continue to work in the Thessalonians, to build up their faith, to preserve it so that in the end they would be glorified together with Christ, having been joined to Christ.
The POWER which Paul prayed would work in the hearts of the Thessalonians is the POWER of God’s Word. It is the POWER that is present in the revelation of God’s name. It is the POWER to penetrate the hearts of sinners as we hear in Hebrews, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The Word of God which Paul prayed would be active in the hearts of the people has the POWER to save. Paul wrote the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the POWER of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). The POWER in the Word is the POWER to defend against Satan and his attacks, the power to win souls for Christ. Paul told the Ephesians to “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)
It is the POWER in that Word which reveals God’s name to us. Paul’s prayer was that God’s name would be hallowed so that the POWER of the Word would continue to work. The hallowing of God’s name is vitally important because a dull sword cannot cut and penetrate hearts, a corrupted Gospel cannot save, an unused sword cannot defend. Paul’s prayer was that the Word and revelation of God’s name would be kept pure—HALLOWED be Thy name. PURE keep Thy Word that it may work its power in the hearts of those who hear.
If God’s Word is corrupted then the power is corrupted. If God’s Word is corrupted, then His name is not being taught truthfully. It is not being hallowed, not being set apart, not be held in high regard and if that were to be the case, then Paul’s prayer would not be accomplished.
God’s Word will triumph with or without us. That does not depend on our prayer. Peter reminded his readers by quoting Isaiah, “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25). The Word is going to stand, but we pray, “hallowed be Thy name” so that its truth and power will stand and continue on with us!
This prayer is very important as we desire to be spokesmen for the Word of God. If we go out as spokesmen for God we want to go out with the TRUTH of God’s Word. When we pray, “hallowed be Thy name,” we are praying for our pastors and teachers that they not be misguided…that when they proclaim His Word from the pulpit or from the classroom that they are preaching and teaching the TRUTH! Hallowed be Thy Name—truthful be the word they teach, so that we are not led astray, so that we do not lose the power of God’s Word, but that the truth may work powerfully in our hearts.
When we pray, “hallowed be Thy name,” we are praying that the Law and Gospel of God’s Word be properly divided and properly used. We pray for this so that the Law does not continue to crush when the Gospel of salvation is needed. Or that the Gospel not be misused for people who do not recognize their sin, but rather that the right word be spoken at the right time.
This leads our prayer still further, namely, that as we talk with our neighbors that God would give us the right words to say. It is a prayer that asks “when I’m confessing my Lord and Savior to others lead me to say the right things, so that I proclaim the Truth, so that the powerful true Word of God will work in the hearts of people with whom I share it.” It is a prayer that God’s name be hallowed, that His truth continue in giving us the words to speak and the courage to speak them when needed. It is a prayer that we, as Peter writes, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
With this prayer that God’s name be hallowed in our speaking, also comes the prayer that we willingly receive the truth. For even if God’s name is hallowed and the truth goes forth, if we reject that Word in our hearts it still profits us nothing. So we pray, “hallowed be Thy name” by causing Your Word to work mightily in my heart.
Hallowed be Thy Name is a prayer for our own personal faithfulness to God’s Word, as well as the faithfulness of our congregation and church body. It is a prayer that God would make us faithful spokesmen of His Word because He has made us ambassadors for Christ (cf: 2 Corinthians 5:19). We need to offer this prayer DAILY because there are false prophets and (as we heard in the epistle reading) many things that seek to pull us away from the truth and make us unfaithful spokesmen.
We have been entrusted with the very name of God and we do, therefore, pray for faithfulness as we testify to that name.
Paul also has this in mind in his prayer: “That the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” [12a] Once again, what we do doesn’t ultimately affect God’s name, Word, or glory. He has every reason to be glorified in everything for He is our Creator, He is our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier. There is every reason under the sun to give ALL glory to God, but the prayer is: “Let US be an example in our lives to glorify You in what we do.”
God’s purpose in giving us His name is the salvation of souls. He wants His name to go forth and bring sinners to repentance and salvation in Him. As children of God our will is that we be examples of God’s will; our desire is that our lives reflect God’s desire. So the prayer goes out, “Lord make Your will show forth in what I do.”
As we offer this prayer we can also ask ourselves, “How does what I’m doing…and saying…and how I conduct my life reflect God’s purpose?” Having the right Word and not reflecting it in our lives still leaves a very sad testimony. If we have all the right words and proclaim the truth but that is not reflected in our lives, people will call into question everything we say. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,” (Ephesians 4:1). In Colossians, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12). Again in Colossians, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)
If we have the truth of God’s Word our prayer and desire is to put it into action in how we live. It becomes a prayer that we would not break the 2ndcommandment. In the 2nd commandment God commands, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” in other words, “you shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” In his explanation to the commandment Martin Luther gives examples of how we DO misuse God’s name. God’s name is misused by cursing—asking God to bring harm upon someone instead of using His name to bring blessing. God’s name is misused with false swearing and swearing in unnecessary things. Lying by God’s name, deceiving by God’s name, practicing witchcraft—not trusting in His name, these are all things we can do in our lives that are examples of NOT hallowing God’s name.
In his Large Catechism, Luther says: “God is dishonored if we who are called by His name and enjoy His manifold blessings do not teach, do not speak and live as the godly children of a heavenly Father, but so that He must hear it said of us: ‘They are children of the Devil rather than of God.’”
In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of his readers as being an “epistle.” “Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:3). Faith has written itself in our hearts by the grace of God and the work of God through His Word. This becomes an epistle to the world. It becomes an example of who our God is and what it means to hallow His name.
Paul wrote this to Timothy: “Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1). Bondservants—employees—how you conduct yourselves can blaspheme God! Remember that for many people, when they see you they are seeing God because everything they know about God comes from what they see and hear from YOU! If we are going to hallow God’s name, we have opportunity to do so at our work, in our play, at home, and, indeed, in every part of our lives. Our hallowing of God’s name in our lives becomes an example of God’s will for the people who observe us.
When we need direction as to how our lives can hallow His name, that direction comes from God’s Word. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…” (Psalm 119:105). Again we see how important it is that we hallow God’s truth and keep it pure. If God’s Name is corrupted among us and we follow that false guide we won’t be hallowing God’s name in our lives either. So we pray that God will preserve the truth among us and then enable us to follow it in our lives so that we become (and remain) shining lights in the world (cf: Matthew 5:16).
How we hallow God’s name in our lives is a testimony to who WE are and who GOD is. It is a declaration of thanks and praise and glory to God; and it is a way by which others may hear of God and then search in His Word and be brought to faith.
When we consider how we are to hallow God’s name in our lives and how important that is, we also recognize how miserably we fail. This is why the last part of Paul’s prayer is SO important. “…according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” [v.12b]
40 years of grace for a church body…how ever many years old each of you are—that many years of grace for you…it is all undeserved.
Hallowing God’s Name in our lives? Impossible…on our own, but according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, He forgives those sins of failing to hallow His Name and lifts us up with the assurance that He does forgive. He lifts us up and encourages us so that we can go forward and hallow His name.
When God’s name is hallowed, both by what we say and in how we live it is truly a glorious thing. For then God’s Name is set apart, glorified, testified, for all to see. FATHER, GLORIFY YOUR NAME THROUGH EACH ONE OF US! AMEN!!
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt