Hew Year's Day
Peter writes, "(Neither is there salvation in any other:) for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," than this name of Jesus. (Acts 4:12)
Without a doubt Peter had surmised that another saviour would be found who could save mankind. When Peter was in unbelief and doubt, he was bold to think that another saviour would be found who could save mankind from its misfortune, but he had not then found any other name than only this name of Jesus. Although he doubted greatly that it might not be the right saviour who could not help himself from death and the hands of the enemies, he did not anyway find any other name than this name of Jesus. The more he thought, the more he became assured of this, that no other name is found whereby we must be saved.
Now no others than the wise of the world doubt whether that Jesus of Nazareth was the only right man who would be acceptable for a saviour. But of this only the penitent have a doubt: how can Jesus receive such sinners before they become better. Many a prisoner of unbelief doubts of this, if it is fitting to believe upon Him and if one dares to own His merits before a better penitence, greater devotion, heavier pains of conscience, and a greater distress after the Saviour comes. But we have seen that such prisoners of unbelief finally find their saviour in the world, when they do not come to the Saviour then when they feel their poorness and worthlessness. The devil of self-righteousness tires the prisoners of unbelief and presses them into the world when they do not believe then when Jesus of Nazareth is available. At last they find their best joy in the world, in finery, in drunkenness, in lasciviousness, and in pleasures. In that condition they find another name or another saviour who is not so holy and righteous as Jesus, nor do they care to see those who sigh, they do not care to hear those who howl, they do not care to look upon those who are in poor clothing.
Have you found another name whereby you must be saved? Have you found another saviour in heaven, in earth, or under the earth, who can help you from sin, death, and from under the power of the devil? When all the ditches of Belial begin to run and all of the waves of the deep begin to rise and the bottomless sea begins to roar and the well of the abyss begins to seethe, have you then found another name than this name of Jesus? I believe and confess that the penitent, sorrowful, and downpressed souls have not found another name. But they who are not penitent or believing ones find another name by which they imagine that they will be saved. They find some other saviour, some son of man or some she-devil, who is acceptable to them for a saviour. The devil of adultery is acceptable to some for a saviour, finery to some, worldly honor to some, whiskey to some, and great possessions to some.
Today is the Saviour's name day, and those few souls, who do not find another name under heaven whereby they must be saved, should on the Saviour's name day ask the high priests of the New Testament, in whose keeping the church books of life are, they should ask this day if their names are found in the church book, especially for that reason that Apostle John writes in the Revelation that they have received one name which no one else knows, but he himself. Who knows the names of how many will be wiped out of the church book during this year. But may the great Name Bearer, Who today has received the name of the Saviour, support the wavering, strengthen the trembling ones, help the poor, and have mercy on the needy, that they could be able to finish off this year! Hear, great Name Bearer, the sighs of those who have not yet received a name and do not wipe out their names before they die or before they pass into the other kingdom without the pastor's testimony. Our Father, Which art in the Heavens, etc.
The Gospel: Luke 2:21
We hear in the above read Gospel that the Child, the Son of God and Mary, was circumcized on the eighth day and His name was called Jesus, Who was so named of the angels before He was conceived in His mother's womb.
We must therefore by God's grace behold how the Son of God has received a name before He was conceived.
God has already in eternity chosen His only Son as a Saviour of the sinners and has given Him a name which is the greatest of all names, that at the name of Jesus all knees must bow, those who are in heaven, upon the earth, and under the earth, and all tongues must confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore He has been given a name a thousand years before He was born and this name the Holy Spirit has given to Him through the mouth of David, namely Christ, that is anointed, as Paul says: "He has been anointed with the Holy Spirit." This name Christ has therefore been given to the Saviour a thousand years before He was born, and has through David become known to all the Jews, But this name Jesus was given of the angels before He was conceived in His mother's womb. Surely all Christians now believe that this has so happened, but the wise of the world do not believe that Mary's son has received a name before He was born, as the wise of the world do not believe that Mary's Son is truly the Son of God. The wise of the world can say that Mary was a sorcerer, she has seen a dream and dreamed her own dreams and believed, and from that a name has come. But from the beginning of the world Christians have had that belief that God has given a name to all the elect and especially to those whom God has already beforehand seen to be elect mediums to preach and to lead sinners to penitence and repentance, as for example Moses, the prophets, and John the Baptist, to whom a name was given before he was born, God has change the names of some saints, to whom had been given a heathen name, as Abran? was called Abraham and Jacob received the name Israel when he wrestled with the unknown man, Saul was called Paul when he became a Christian. These have received a new name already in this world, but he who is victorious shall also receive a new name and this new name is written in the book of life.
At this time parents give their children heathen names. It is true, a name of itself does not effect any principal matter, but we heard now that God changed the heathens' names when some remarkable change has taken place in their hearts. The main thing is that each one would remember why a name has been given to him and what he has promised by this name already in baptism. When God gave Jacob a new name and called him Isreal, it meant: man overcame God, Peter means cliff or rock, Christina means Christian. Now if everyone would be according to his name, then Israel should overcome God with his prayer, Peter should be a rock upon which Christ builds His congregation, and everyone whose name is Christina should be a Christian. And because Christ, by whom all Christians have received their name, has been anointed, so should all Christians now on the Saviour's name day remember how great and holy this name is and how much this name signifies, and begin henceforth to so watch and strive, that this high name will not become wiped out of the book of life. Surely it is easy to say I am not a Christian, but it is more weighty to confess oneself to be a Christian, for in that confession the devil causes distress to many. The awakened may say and confess their sins, no matter how ugly and shameful they would be, but when they must confess themselves to be Christians, the devil makes hindrances, although Paul says: "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Remember now all Christians how precious and weighty this name of Christian is, how Christ through great trouble has merited this high name for you, and how great a responsibility lies upon you. If you through unwatchfulness or sleepiness so behave yourselves that this beautiful name is wiped out of the book of life, then all the devils in hell will give you one terrible name, which is written in the black book. No matter how they would bark at you as whores, thieves, and wild spirits it does not do anything as long as you have the light that you know you have one beautiful, high and honorable name in the book of life, but if that name is wiped away, then you will receive one terrible name which will strip all honor from you. Remember also that God has given Christ a name which is the greatest of all names, that all knees must bow themselves at Jesus' name, those who are in heaven, upon the earth, and under the earth, and all tongues must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And when this day begins a new year, on which the Saviour of the world was named the Saviour, so should every Christian think that this is the last year for him, that he soon would leave this valley of sorrow, that he soon can get to hear that new name which has been given to him in the kingdom of heaven and is written with large letters in the book of life. Amen.