I’ve recently been asked “why do we care so much about the name Church of Christ?” I’ve had this before and have a response, but then I actually came across a religious group that pride themselves on having no name.
This is a problem folks. It’s already disappointing to have denominations calling themselves after the names of men, but to go so far as to not have a name at all just takes the cake!
Why is this such a problem you ask? Because God did supply names from the very beginning. God sent the animals He created to Adam to “see what he would call them” [Gen 2:19]. God also found it important to change Abrams name to Abraham, [Ge 17:5]. Moses also needed to know God’s name, and God gave one, [Ex 3:14] which Jesus called Himself and was convicted of Blasphemy by the Jews [Joh 8:58, Mr 14:62-63].
The Psalms also proclaim the name of God, [Ps 83:18]. His name is to be revered, and not blasphemed, [Ex 20:7; De 5:11; 28:58; Ps 111:9; Mic 4:5; 1Ti 6:1]
The names of the Old Testament often had meaning. Hosea was commanded by God to give his children certain names which had meaning, [Ho 1:3,4,6,9; 2:1]
Names were given in prophecy as a proof of their fulfillment, i.e., Josiah [1Ki 13:2].Then there are the prophecies about Jesus, including His name! [Isa 7:14, Mat 1:23]. Isaiah also prophesied about a new name for God’s people, “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. [Isa 62:2]
Is this enough to show that names are important? I believe so, but let’s continue our study.
The chief priests sought for a name from Jesus for the things that He said and did, [Mt 21:23]. The Samaritan Woman knew what the Savior would be called, [Joh 4:25]. His parents “called His NAME Jesus”, [Mt 1:25, Lu 2:21]
As we continue to study, we find that the Holy Spirit found it important to reveal a name for God’s people under the new covenant, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Ac 11:26
NAMES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
So, all of this leads us to the questions, what should His church be called? Should there be a name, is there a name given in the scriptures? Let’s turn to the word of God in the New Testament….
Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mt 16:18] Peter had just given the confession in vs 16 “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This shows upon what His church would be built. A careful examination shows that it’s NOT Peter, he has the keys. It’s NOT Christ Himself, He’s doing the building. Upon what is Christ building His church? The confession that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God. HIS NAME.
We see this confession being professed by the Ethiopian, [Ac 8:37]. There are multiple passages about confessing and believing in the name of Jesus the Christ. [1Jo 4:15; 5:5, 13]
Looking to the letters to the churches, we find the authors using names for the New Testament Church… church of God [Ac 20:28, 1Co 1:2]. Church of the living God, [1Ti 3:15]. Church of the firstborn, [Heb 12:23]. We find letters addressed to a particular city, “church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ:” [1Th 1:1] Paul ended his letter to the Roman Christians with the salutation, “The churches of Christ salute you.” [Ro 16:16] Body of Christ, [Eph 4:12].
With all of these names, which one are we to use? Let’s consider some things about Jesus the Christ. He said He would build His church, [Mat 16:17]. He, Jesus the Christ, commanded that the Apostles “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Mt 28:20]. Which is His doctrine, [2Jo 1:9]. His, Jesus the Christ’s, blood was shed for us, [Mt 26:28, Mr 14:24]. He, Jesus the Christ, is the head of the church, which is His body, and is the savior of the body, which He gave Himself for it. [Eph 1:22-23, 5:23-25]. And we are often reproached for His name, [1Pe 4:14].
Space prevents me from including other “____ of Christ” writings. Doctrine, partakers, gospel, servant, word, mystery, minister, cross, faith, knowledge, work, kingdom, obedience, grace, members and of course the day of Christ.
An honest study of the Word of God reveals that the church belongs to Jesus the Christ, it is the church of Christ. What we fail to find is denominational names, too many to even list. What’s in a name? Ownership, that’s what. [1Co 6:15, 19] Who owns you, is it Jesus the Christ or someone else? [Joh 8:44]
Spencer Preaches and Teaches at the Franklin St. Church of Christ in Borger, Tx