A People for His Name

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14)

It is scarcely possible to overemphasize the centrality of the name of God, that is, the fame of God, in motivating the mission of the church.

When Peter had his world turned upside down by the vision of unclean animals in Acts 10, and by the lesson from God that he should evangelize Gentiles as well as Jews, he came back to Jerusalem and told the apostles that it was all owing to God’s zeal for his name. We know this because James summed up Peter’s speech like this: “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name” (Acts 15:13–14).

It’s not surprising that Peter would say that God’s purpose was to gather a people for his name; because the Lord Jesus had stung Peter some years earlier with an unforgettable lesson.

You recall that, after a rich young man turned away from Jesus and refused to follow him, Peter said to Jesus, “See, we have left everything and followed you [unlike this rich fellow]. What then will we have?” (Matthew 19:27). Jesus responded with a mild rebuke, which in effect said that there is no ultimate sacrifice when you live for the name of the Son of Man. He said, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

The truth is plain: God is pursuing with omnipotent delight a worldwide purpose of gathering a people for his name from every tribe and language and nation (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the fame of his name among the nations.

Therefore, when we bring our affections in line with his, and, for the sake of his name, renounce the quest for our own worldly fame and comforts, and join his global purpose, God’s omnipotent commitment to his name flies like a banner before us, and we cannot lose, even if we must walk through many tribulations (Acts 14:22; Romans 8:35–39).