BECAUSE OF ITS SCRIPTURAL NAME
THE IMPORTANCE OF NAMES
God has always placed significance on names. In Genesis 5:2, we learn of His actions in naming Adam and Eve. He then gave Adam the authority to name all the animals. Had this not been the case, it would be impossible for you and me to converse intelligently with each other. Because we have a common understanding of names and designations, we are able to understand each other. This would be impossible if there were nothing in a name. Again, we find God recognizing the value of a name when He changes Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai's name to Sarah (Genesis 17:5-17). Also, in Genesis 32:27-28, God changes Jacob's name to Israel. This point is significant because the descendants of this man were known as Israelites instead of Jacobites.
In Daniel 9:19, we read, "Your people are called by Your name." If in the long, long ago the people of God wore His name, is it any wonder that today God still insists that we wear the name of His choosing? Let us notice what prophecy has to say concerning the name:
Isaiah 56:5, "Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off."
Isaiah 65:15, "You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord God will slay you, And call His servants by another name."
Isaiah 62:2, "The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the Lord will name."
From the above three prophecies the following four points are evident:
Let us now go to the New Testament and see if we can locate the fulfillment of these prophecies. First of all, we read in Acts 9:15, "But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.' " From this scripture we see that God has selected Paul to be the name bearer. Thus, if we can find Paul bearing a name, in the house of God or the Church, to Gentiles and Jews alike, we will have located the name given by God. In Acts we learn of the conversion of Cornelius and his family who were the first Gentile converts. Thus, after Acts 10, we have both Jew and Gentile in the Church. Now in Acts 11:25-26, we read, "Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul (or Paul-RW). And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the Church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." The divine God-given name is "Christian." But, let us notice further and see if Paul continued to preach this name. In Acts 26:28, when before King Agrippa, Paul tried to convert him to the truth. The king, well aware of the intentions of Paul, replies: "Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You almost persuade me to become a Christian.' " For further proof that this is the name approved by God, let us go to 1 Peter 4:16, "Yet if [anyone] [suffers] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter." The Revised Version says "let him glorify God in this name." This is the name we are to glorify God in. We should wear it with humility and gratitude. It is the new name selected by God for His people. All other human designations must be rejected. What are you today? When someone asks you the question, "What are you religiously?" how do you answer them? Do you say, "I am a Baptist" or "I am a Lutheran," or something else? Perhaps you would be interested in the following quotes: Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher, in the Spurgeon Memorial Library, Vol. 1, page 168, "I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living. I hope the Baptist name will soon perish, but let Christ's name last forever." Think about it, here one of the great denominational preachers of all time recognized the hazards of using human names instead of divine names. But notice again. This time we are quoting from the Life of Martin Luther by Stork, page 289. "I pray you to leave my name alone, and call not yourselves Lutherans, but Christians. Who is Luther? My doctrine is not mine. I have not been crucified for anyone. St. Paul would not that any should call themselves for Paul, nor of Peter, but of Christ. How then, does it befit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to give my name to the children of Christ? Cease my dear friends to cling to these party names, and distinctions: away with them all, and let us call ourselves only Christians, after Him from whom our doctrine comes." Would you not agree that it is better to call ourselves just Christians, instead of using these human names that come from man. The Bible plainly tells us what the divine name is. Let us use only what the Bible gives.
In studying about the Church, just what designations are given by the Bible? Let us notice some of them. First of all, in Matthew 16:18 when Jesus promised to build the Church, He referred to it as "my Church." This statement, of course, shows ownership. The Church belongs to Christ. It is His. Again, in Acts 8:1, we are told that a persecution arose against "the Church." In this verse we have the expression used most frequently regarding this institution. It is merely referred to as "the Church." Then, of course, there was only one Church. Today man has started so many that if you tell people you are a member of "the Church" they think you are trying to be evasive or comical. Again, in 1 Corinthians 1:2, we read, "To the Church of God which is at Corinth." Here Paul is addressing himself to the disciples who constituted the Church in Corinth and calls them the "Church of God." Next, in Romans 16:16, Paul says, "the Churches of Christ greet you." Again he is referring to the various local congregations of the Church in that vicinity. The Church is also referred to as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12) and as the Church of the living God (1 Timothy 3:15). Any or all of these designations are scriptural. They are divine and not human. They may be found in the word of God. Can this be said of the church to which you belong? When you go to church next Sunday, look at the sign over the door of the building. Is there a human or divine designation hanging there? Can you find it in the Bible? If not, you need to give serious consideration to the situation.
Next let us notice some of the designations given to individual members of the
Church. In 1 Corinthians 1:2 they are called saints. In Colossians 1:2 they are
referred to as brethren. In Acts 20:7 they are called disciples. And as we have already noticed, in Acts 11:26, Christians. Also, priests in 1 Peter 2:9.
These designations may be used to refer to all who are in the Church. There is no such thing as a special group who are priests or saints. Every Christian is a
priest and a saint. For clarity and ease of study, we have arranged the following chart:
We believe that you should investigate the Church of Christ because it uses only scriptural names and designations in referring to its members and to the Church in general. If one is not able to go to the Bible and read there the name that he wears religiously or the designation of the Church to which he belongs, something is wrong. Do not be deceived by the doctrine that there is nothing in a name. There certainly is. God has always respected and used names. He named His people under the first covenant, and He also selected a name for them under the new covenant. Are you wearing it today? If not, you should be.
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