SHE WEARS ONLY BIBLICAL NAMES
by B. J. Barr
As one looks about in the
religious world, there are hundreds of names that supposedly represent the
church for which Christ died. But a quick glance into the word of God clearly
shows most of these names are unbiblical and unfounded. Since these names cannot
be found within the context of our religious standard - the Bible, it is unwise
and disrespectful to adopt them as followers of Christ.
WHY ARE MAN-MADE NAMES WRONG?
Simply, they are condemned in
the New Testament. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, wrote these
words, ". . . that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions
among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same
judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10). In the next few verses, Paul further discusses
what he meant. "Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I
of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul
crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1:12-13).
To give honor to a person such as "Luther" over the name of Christ is to divide
honor belonging only to Christ. To exalt an ordinance such as "baptism" is to
lift it higher than the name which is above every name - Christ. To designate a
manner of church government as "Episcopal" or Presbyterian" is to add what God
Paul warned the early church
against man-made titles; we of the churches of Christ today accept his plea.
There is something in a name. We must live by it and uphold it.
BIBLICAL NAMES FOR THE CHURCH
In the Bible, there are no
exclusive names for the church. God refers to his church as:
"the church of God" (1 Cor.
"church of the firstborn"
"churches of Christ" (Romans
"Body of Christ" (Colossians
"Bride of Christ" (Revelation
"House of God" (1 Timothy 3:15)
Notice that these references
are not denominational names. They do not refer to different churches, only to
God's one true church. In each name we can see God and His Son's name being
glorified. God has chosen these names for His Church.
DOES NAME MAKE SCRIPTURAL
This question is a reasonable
one because today there are many churches that wear the name, church of Christ.
However, when we check further, we will find many practices not found in our New
Testament pattern. The name is only a step in the right direction. Just being
called the church of Christ, church of God, or church of the firstborn does not
make it such. If the organization is not according to the scriptures, in work,
worship and purpose then it is not Christ's church. Many churches have the right
name but have corrupted the scriptural plan of worship by adding things God did
not authorize. Any activity which cannot prove its right to be by the
Scriptures, stands condemned (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Christ is the builder. He
is the head over all things to the church, which is his body. (See Eph. 5:23-24;
THE CHRISTIAN NAME
The churches of Christ carry
Christ's name on their buildings to show whom we represent. Yet, on a daily
basis when we live and work in our various communities, we are not known as or
called "church of Christ," but simply Christians. God refers to his people as
Christians, saints, children, disciples, priests, and brethren. The name marks
us as being owned by Christ (Acts 11:26). Every Christian is a saint because his
sins are forgiven (Rom. 1:7). He is a child of God because he has been born
again (1 Pet.1:22-23); a disciple because he is a learner of Christ (John 15:8).
He is a priest because he is empowered to worship and serve God directly through
Christ (1 Pet. 2:5). Christians are all brethren, because they are all children
of the same heavenly father (Gal. 6:1).
Those who love and respect
God's will appreciate the names given by him. We must use these names rather
than names that indicate division and that disrespect God's authority. If you
refer to your denomination to express your faith or religious conviction, there
is too much in your name. Why not be a Christian only?
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
One may ask, what's in a name?
There are many who feel that there is nothing in a name. I disagree, based on
Acts 4:12. There is a name that is above all others, and that name is Christ. No
other name has the power or authority of Christ's. If God saw fit to use this
name, who are we to change it?
The story is told of a man
arrested for making whiskey or home-brew. He came before the judge, who was a
church going man. He decided to have some fun with the accused. The judge asked
him, "What is your name?" The man replied, "My name is Joshua." "Are you the
Joshua who made the sun stand still?", the judge asked. "No sir," the man
replied. "I am the Joshua that made the moonshine."
The story is simple. There is
something in a name. In order to please God, we must do all in word and in deed.
We know that this is true when it comes to everyday things like the naming of
our children. Have you ever heard of a mother naming her daughter, Jezebel; or
her son, Judas? No parent would permanently scar a child with a name that is
noted for doing wicked or evil. There is something in a name.
WHY ONLY GOD-GIVEN NAME?
God has given Jesus as our
means of salvation. His name is the only one by which man can be saved (Acts
4:11-12). To this name, "every knee must bow" (Philippians 2:9,11). The common
saying that one name is as good as another may be true in non-religious matters,
but biblically, no name is as good as Christ's (Eph. 1:20-21). The church is the
bride of Christ. A bride should wear the groom's name (2 Cor. 11:2). We who have
been obedient to the will of Christ, are in the family of God. Should not the
family wear his name? (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 3:14-15).
Marshall Keeble, a well known
black evangelist, commenting on the importance of a name, related this
illustration that a check is no good without a name. He told of a preacher
who was conducting a meeting in a certain city. There was one lady who attended
every night and heard him assert that there was nothing in a name. He said that
they were to work out their salvation, and the name had nothing to do with it.
He made this point over and over. One night this lady told him that she
would like to make a contribution to his ministry. The next day he went by
her house to pick up the money. She gave him a check and he went directly to the
bank to cash it. The cashier returned the check to him saying that there was no
name signed to it. "She must have forgotten to sign it," the preacher said, so
he returned to the lady's house to get her to sign the check. To his
surprise, she informed him that she had not forgotten to sign it but was only
doing as he had preached and did not put her name on the check. The lady
made her point, and taught him never to preach that again.
From the Scriptures and
practical illustrations, we can see why the church must wear a Bible name. Our
feelings may guide us contrary to God's word. But religiously, we are not
governed by our feelings. What we believe must be based on facts (Rom. 10:17).
Just any way or name is not God's way (Prov. 14:12). Let us do things that are
according to God's plan. Only in his word can we find the right path
The church of our Lord should
not wear names like Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Catholic, Jehovah's
Witnesses, etc., unless they can be found in his Book. We must practice
the things Christ and the apostles left for us to do. Christ desires that
we unite (John 17:20-23), but we cannot unite with error. We must come together
under Christ's name. It is an honor to wear his name. We must please him if we
expect him to receive us when he comes back for his church (John 14:2-3).
Discuss the lessons of 1
Corinthians 1:10-13 and the use of denominational religious names.
What name does God give to his
If a church wears a proper
Bible name, does that mean God is totally pleased with them?
Is there any significance in
the religious name we choose to wear?
In which name is salvation
offered? (Acts 4:11-12).