The Name that Identifies Us
It is truly sad today to see so many congregations of the Lord’s people flippantly change the name of the Lord’s church, simply to appeal to the present culture. Congregations that appeal to the “Community Church” fashion do not understand that the name of the church is indeed important.
Names themselves are indeed important. We may learn this lesson by noting the people listed in the Bible whose names were changed: God changed the name “Abram” to “Abraham” (Gen. 17:5), God changed the name “Sarai” to “Sarah” (Gen. 17:15), God changed the name “Jacob” to “Israel” (Gen. 32:38), and we see Saul’s name change to “Paul” (Acts 13:9). In the latter case, is it not significant that once Saul of Tarsus understood his new-found purpose for life, he decided to leave off his old name characterized by his old life, and chose a new name that described him from thenceforth to underscore his new life in Christ? This shows the true importance in names.
God has always intended for His people to be called by His name (cf. 2 Chron. 7:14). Likewise, those who are not called by His name are consequently not His people:
The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name. (Isa. 63:18-19)
An important fact to consider is that this name was never decided by the insight of men, but it is divine in origin—God Himself gave this name:
Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. (Isa. 56:5; cf. 62:2)
This new name was given to the Gentile disciples and fulfilled in Acts 11:26: “And when he found him, he brought him unto Antioch…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” From henceforth, they would no longer be identified as either “Jew” or “Gentile,” but “Christian” (cf. Gal. 3:28), which identifies us as followers of Christ. Please understand that this name is not a title, but a name that shows possession. We are a people belonging to Jesus Christ! Since He redeemed us with His blood (Acts 20:28), it is only right that we belong to Him.
The problems in the 21st century are similar to those in the first century—many want to blaspheme the name of the church, and in turn, the name of Christ. James asked, “Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” (James 2:7). Weak brethren do this when they replace the name of Christ with “Soand- so Community Church” or “So-and-so Family of God” and such like. Why remove the name of Christ? Why remove that which distinguishes us from other man-made churches? Why remove the sound, biblical Page 2 The Southwesterner February 1, 2015 title stated in the Bible? “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Rom. 16:16). “Church of Christ” is not a name that identifies us as a denomination among denominations, but it is an identity from the Bible that shows the world to whom we belong! What better name is there? Dear friend, I do not believe that there is one!