Thursday, December 10, 2015

Names 2Names are important.  You might call your dog “Fido,” but never your child!  When addressing your wife or husband in an affectionate tone, it is best to call them by their birth name rather than the one of an old flame!  When being readied for surgery, be hopeful your surgeon calls for a scalpel rather than a chainsaw! There is something in a name!

Although English was not the original language of mankind, have you ever wondered why we don’t call a fly a rattlesnake, or a dog an alligator?  How confusing would that be?  In England one learns that “a boot” is an automobile’s trunk and the “bonnet” is a car’s hood.  Names are important, especially if you have a flat tire in London and are told to look for the “jack” in the boot.

God changed Abram’s name, which means “high or exalted father,” to Abraham, which means “father of many” or “father of a multitude.”  He was no longer referred to as Abram.

When the family of Chloe wrote to Paul from Corinth, they described the denominational creations in the congregation.  Paul gives us the names of those divisions, but he does not honor them by referring to any as “the church of God of Paul,” “the church of God of Apollos,” “the church of God of Cephas,” or “the church of God of Christ.”  Jesus did not build a divided body of the saved.  Paul wrote, “one body” not five (Ephesians 4:4).  The body of the saved came into existence in Acts 2.  There was no church building in Jerusalem to write a singular name on their church sign.  There is no evidence in our Bible that one name stood above all the others nor that God wanted only one used exclusively.

When one searches the New Testament, many of the modern names found on church street signs are absent from God’s word.  If God had desired one specific name to be used over all the others, such would have been commanded.  Is was not.  God did use descriptive names to address his saved body of people.  Since He used those names specifically, do you think there was a reason for it?  For example, John tells us that the Word took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1-14).  His name was given before he was born.  Would it be permissible to refer to him as Henry, Sam, Junior, or Horace rather than Jesus.  What if some other name was more palatable than what Deity gave to him?  Are man’s designations better than God’s?  Why would it be right to accept man’s choice of a name for the Savior rather than God’s?

Notice the names used by God to describe His called out, saved people:

1. The expression “the church” is found over eighty times.
2. The designation “my church” is found once.
3. The “church of God” is found at least ten times.
4. The expression “body of Christ” is found five times.
5. The appellation “body of Jesus Christ” is found once.
6. The name “the churches of God” is found three times.
7. The singular “the church of the firstborn” is noted once.
8. The designation “The churches of the saints” is used once.
9. The expression “churches of Christ” is used once.
10. The name “churches of ‘location’,” is found about fifteen times.

No other, whether singular or plural, is given.  When Corinth decided to divide itself into additional groups or bodies of believers, they went beyond that which was written.  Paul corrected this division with four of the sixteen chapters.  When it comes to following Jesus today, aren’t we more like the Corinthians than Christ?