John Newton penned the words of that exquisite hymn, How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds.* The name 'Jesus' means 'Saviour' in Greek. The Hebrew equivalent is the name 'Joshua' or 'Jehoshua', cf. Numbers 13:16 & 1 Chronicles 7:27. These two names are interchanged in Hebrews 4:8: For if Jesus [ie Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. The name of 'Jesus' appears well over 900 times in the New Testament.
There is something very special about the Saviour's name. This name was given to Him by His Father. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to instruct him that this was the name by which he was to call the offspring of the Virgin, Matthew 1:20,21: But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
The significance of this wonderful name is further emphasied by the fact that the angel also appeared to Mary and told her what the child was to be called, Luke 1:30,31: And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Incarnate Deity was to be called this name because of the work that He would engage in to save His people from their sins. This is why this name is special and so significant. We are commanded to believe on this name, 1 John 3:23; new converts were baptised in this name, Acts 2:38; all mankind will one day bow before this name, Phil 2:10.
There is something very special about a Christian taking this dear name upon their lips whether in praise, prayer or preaching. It is an honourable name and one that delights the heart of the Christian because of the association with the atoning work involving in putting away for ever their sins.
Within the context of praise we are exhorted in Colossians 3:16,17: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
We are to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus. This refers to doing all things:
There just seems to be something not right about this! You can seek His help in praise but never sing His name in praise. You can employ this name in prayer and preaching but never in praise. We are left with the outcome that the interpretation of two passages in the Bible, Eph 5:19 & Col 3:16, forbids someone employing the name of 'Jesus' in their praise.
1. The terms 'Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs' inEphesians 5:19 & Colossians 3:16 do not refer to the 150 Psalms of the Book of Psalms.
2. Old Testament and New Testament saints did not live by this exclusive psalmist rule.
3. The angels and glorified saints did not sing the psalms.
4. There are possible remnants of hymns/canticles/doxologies quoted in the New Testament.
5. Progressive Revelation argues against Exclusive Psalmody.
6. Exclusive Psalmody leads to different levels of worship.
7. The Exclusive Psalmist's position requires them to reject ever singing the 'very best song' in public worship.
8. If 'inspired praise' is required then an equally valid argument could be made for 'inspired praying' and 'inspired preaching' in public worship.
9. The early New Testament Church did not believe in Exclusive Psalmody.
10. The Reformers at Geneva did not believe or practice Exclusive Psalmody.
11. The Puritans did not all believe in Exclusive Psalmody.
12. The Westminster Divines did not believe in Exclusive Psalmody.
13. Scottish Presbyterianism has not always believed in Exclusive Psalmody.
14. The metrical translation of the psalms is not an accurate translation.
15. Singing Psalms which make mention of musical instruments.
*How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.
Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!
By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.
Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!