When you look at the “religious” world today, there is a plethora of worship styles and acts. You can have your pick from traditional, stoic, progressive, to an all-out rock concert. You will find faith healers, monks, priests, ministers, pastors, elders, and fire keepers. If you can dream it up, you can find it. If you can’t find it, then you can create it, and people will probably show up to “worship” with you.
We’ve all likely heard the verse “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]
So what gives? How can there be so many different styles of worship if we know the Bible says that everything must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus?
Believe it or not, almost every religious group that claims to follow the Bible will proudly proclaim that they are doing everything in the name of Jesus. But how can that be? Does Jesus contradict Himself? Does He tell one group to do one thing and another group to do the complete opposite? That doesn’t even make sense, especially when you look at passages like “God is not the author of confusion” [I Corinthians 14:33].
Though we may think that this is a modern phenomenon, it isn’t. Take a look at what is recorded in Acts 19:13-16.
“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘We exorcise you by the Jesus who Paul preaches.’ Also, there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
These exorcists and sons of a priest thought they could just do some name dropping, and everything would be great. All they had to do was claim their work was done in the name of Jesus, and they believed this was a free pass to do what they wanted. They were sorely mistaken, and they learned that in a very painful and embarrassing way.
So how is that everyone today can claim to be worshiping in the name of Jesus, yet worship in vastly different ways? You can claim whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it true. I can take your property and claim that I am doing it in the name of the law, but I’ll still go to jail.
How are we supposed to sort between the ones who are really doing things in a way authorized by Jesus the Christ (i.e. doing things in the name of Jesus) and those who are just flat wrong? John tells us in John 8:32 that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” So where does this truth come from? John follows that up in John 17:17 by quoting Jesus’ prayer of “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
The Bible is the source of all truth. If we want to do anything in the name of Jesus, we have to do it in the way outlined in Scripture. If anyone claims the name of Jesus, yet contradicts what the Bible teaches, then they are like the exorcists and sons of the priest in Acts 19. They will ultimately learn that lesson, possibly in an eternally painful way (Matthew 7:21-23; 13:41-42).