Doesn’t it just irk you when people take the name of the Lord in vain? We have all heard it many times. It happens all the time in a variety of places. Many of us might be sensitive to hearing people drop the name of God like it is nothing. So what does it mean to use the name of the Lord in vain?
Definition of the word vain: producing no result; useless.
“a vain attempt to tidy up the room”
|synonyms:||futile, useless, pointless, to no purpose, hopeless, in vain;ineffective,ineffectual, inefficacious, impotent, unavailing, to no avail, fruitless,profitless, unrewarding, unproductive, unsuccessful, failed, abortive,for nothing;thwarted, frustrated, foiled;archaicbootless“a vain attempt”|
Often we hear at the end of talks, at the end of prayers, or at the end of testimonies those who will close in the name of Jesus. It is actually taught to many people from the time they are little kids to use such language. So what does it mean to do something “in the name” of the Lord? Does it mean that the person believes that he/she is representing the Lord in what we just said, what we just testified of, or whatever act was done in that name? It is basically saying, I am filling in for the Lord right now and this is what He would have said or done if He were here.
That is a powerful idea. Could it be that many people are taking the name of the Lord in vain week after week, and we hear it in the churches and synagogues, and for whatever reason it doesn’t bother people at all? Which is worse, someone misrepresenting the Lord, saying they are acting in His name when they are not, or those who say the name of the Lord as a slur without much thought at all?
Now let’s take this to another level. What about ordinances or rituals performed in the name of the Lord? Every week in many Mormon movements we find those who bless and administer the sacrament. The first line of the sacrament involves asking God, in the name of the Lord, to ratify the ordinance. In both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, we see that Jesus Himself came to bless and administer the sacrament, and THEN He authorized some to administer to others. This ordinance is a sacred one and must be done by one who has authority, and in fact can indeed administer that ordinance in the name of the Lord.
So what is it that gives someone authority in such a thing? Is it when someone is given the priesthood from men? Is it when someone is given the priesthood from God? What must happen for one to be able to administer such an ordinance? Or how about if we speak or testify, how would we know if it was ok to say that we did so in the name of the Lord?
Many people do it flippantly, others love to end testimonies this way, because they believe it gives that testimony more validity. It is a way of saying, “Hey I am serious here. I am saying this in the name of the Lord.” Sometimes people even invoke the titles of the Father, or the Holy Ghost. The power of the tri-fecta! So they are basically saying, if the Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Ghost were here, this is what they would say. I am speaking for them now and representing them on the earth at this time, wow.
THE FALL OF SAUL, IT RHYMES!
How serious is it if people perform ordinances, or works, or speak in the name of the Lord, when the Lord has not told them to perform such ordinances, or speak those words, or perform those works? In the case of Saul, I always felt a little bad for him until I understood what happened. He was in Gilgal. The armies of the Philistines were gathering and preparing to come down and kill him and his army.
Saul knew he needed God’s help, and he knew that performing sacrifices had been commanded to others in the past, and well, Saul had some spiritual authority and thought he would do the Lord’s will and perform the sacrifice. After all, Samuel wasn’t showing up and his troops were scared and being scattered. The punishment from the Lord I always thought was a little odd when Saul’s intentions seemed to be good.
Here are some other verses that I always thought were a little odd from Matthew 7…
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
I think part of what the Lord was teaching here may not always be interpreted correctly. Here is another translation of verse 23 that teaches the point a little more clearly.
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”
What is this lawlessness? It sounds like he is talking about those people who go around using his name, without having been commanded to. It doesn’t matter if they are doing wonderful works, prophesying, casting out devils, or blessing the sacrament. If the Lord has not personally commanded them to do that, then they are practicing lawlessness.
It does seem a bit harsh doesn’t it? How about the phrase “I never knew you.” What does that mean? Could it be that Jesus was saying something like, “Hey guys, you went around doing all sorts of stuff in my name, as if you could represent me and were acting in my behalf, but I didn’t even know you guys! I didn’t tell you to do those things. I didn’t commission you…”
So I am wondering if it is possible for someone to go through life, sincerely striving to be righteous, believing they are doing the Lord’s will, when in all actuality they are drinking damnation to their souls week after week. In the Book of Mormon it warns that those who partake of the sacrament unworthily, are eating/drinking damnation to their souls. Most people don’t equate worthiness to having been commanded directly, but could it be that is part of the condition of one’s worthiness?
HAS THE LORD TOLD YOU TO DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING?
I guess I would like to ask people reading, “When have you been commanded to take the sacrament? When were you told that you could administer the sacrament? Do you believe that holding the priesthood (if you have been given any priesthood from God) gives you the authority to perform ordinances, without having the Lord specifically telling you to perform such ordinances?”
Some people when asked questions like this turn to the Bible, or Book of Mormon, or other parts of their sacred texts, and say, “Look right here, this is where we are commanded to do this…” When I point out that Jesus was actually talking to other people at a totally different time period, they think I am the weirdo for suggesting the commandment does not apply to them… They use the same argument many protestant church leaders use. “The Bible is my authority. The Bible is the word of God!”
I used to laugh at preachers who talked like that. Only recently did I learn I was doing the same thing in so many ways! I have used the sacrament as an example because of some things I have personally learned about the meaning of the sacrament. Jesus spoke to certain disciples and this is another way, in my opinion, of summarizing what he said. “Here I am giving you my name, my body and blood, and giving you power to be like me and do things in my name.” Then he commanded them to go do the same things for others.
When John the Baptist was baptizing, he did not tell people to go take the sacrament afterward. In the accounts of him coming to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, he conferred the preparatory priesthood, told them to be baptized, but he did not mention anything about taking the sacrament afterward. Could it be there was more to the disciples both in Jerusalem, and on the American Continent being baptized when Christ came, even though they had been baptized before? Is it correct to call it “re-baptism,” or was it a new / higher baptism? Could it be there is a baptism of John, or the lower priesthood, and there is a completely separate baptism of the higher priesthood? From Acts 19…
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
So again we see a differentiation here. John the Baptist, according to the accounts we have, mentioned the “gospel of repentance” when he came to Joseph and Oliver. That is very similar to what we see from Paul. Is this different from the baptism of Christ, where people are commanded afterward to partake of the sacrament? I personally believe that many churches have the authority to baptize unto repentance, but this is “John’s baptism.” All people will have to be baptized with the baptism which Jesus offers by one having the name of Christ, the fullness of the higher priesthood.
I do not believe there is a person with the fullness of the high priesthood on the earth. I do not believe there is a person that has the power to lay hands on the head of another to bestow the Holy Ghost as Paul did in the verses above. I believe right now those who receive the Holy Ghost (which are not that many IMO) receive it through angelic ministration or from the Lord personally.
I believe many people are going about doing “wonderful works” in the name of the Lord, with zero instruction from the Lord to perform the ordinances they are performing. I have no doubt that many readers have blessed and administered the sacrament, or performed baptisms, or other such ordinances. I certainly have. I won’t do it again and use the name of the Lord in vain. I will not say it at the end of a testimony unless told to do so by revelation.
The goal is to reach the point where we can do all things in the name of the Lord. At least it is one of my goals. I believe it is possible. I believe first we must receive the name of the Lord. If God spoke to me or you and said “Be ye therefore perfect…” then God would give power to whomever He spoke it to, to literally fulfill that commandment and the individual would be perfected. God has power to fulfill His words. Those who go about using the Lord’s name in things, who have not be chosen and ordained, may be practicing lawlessness.
John 15:16 – Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
John 15:7 – If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.