Thursday, December 22, 2016

What's in a Name

  Sometime ago I made an entry in my Handprints blog about my name. At the time I had intended to make a second entry about names in relation to Christianity.
  So, once again I ask, "What's in a name?" Just as a name is important because it gives us an identity, it helps others to know who we are. In the religious world names are even more important. In a very broad sense a name identifies a religion in general terms and encompasses many varied beliefs. For instance, in the Muslim world there are many different sects or religious factions but all have Mohammed at their core. So it is in Christianity. There are many religous sects that have Jesus at it's core. In a specific sense people take on the name of their sect - Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Protestants, etc., etc.. But where do they get the authority to call themselves such? The Bible certainly doesn't justify a religious body to name themselves whatever they want anymore than it justifies naming themselves after religious leaders such as Lutherans, Campbellites, Wesleyans, etc. In fact the Bible tells us quite the opposite. Paul addresses this trend in I Corinthians 1 when he says beginning in verse 10:
 10 "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
  This tells us that there is only one whom we should be named after - Christ. If the Bible is so specific about what we are called, it follows then that the name of his church would also be important. Ephesians 4:4 tells us that there is only "one body" (which is his church, Colossians 1:24), but what is that body called? Well, again the Bible gives us the answer. Romans 16:16 says
All the churches of Christ send greetings
 and I Corinthians 1:2 says
To the church of God in Corinth.
  Another name the Bible ascribes to the true church is found in Acts 9:2 where it states that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women...
The inspired writer there calls the church "the way."
  And so the TRUTH is that when you seek out the new testament church the first requirement is to find one with a scriptural name, a name which is authorized by God in his word.

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