THE NAME OF THE CHURCH

by Dan Goddard

 

Some argue that there is nothing in a name.  However, such is neither true to Scripture nor reason.  God placed special significance on names when He changed Abram’s name to “Abraham” and Sarai’s name to “Sarah” (Genesis 17:5, 15).  There is great significance attached to the name of Jesus.  All that we do in religion must be done in His name (Colossians 3:17). There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).  The importance of a name is illustrated in Paul’s reproof to the Corinthians for calling themselves after certain human names (1 Corinthians 1:11-13).

A name is so meaningful that people name their dogs “Fido” and “Satan,” their mules “Rebel” and “Lucifer,” but their sons “James” and “John.”  If there is nothing in a name, why not reverse the order and call the boys “Fido” and “Lucifer”?  Yes, friends, there is something in a name and especially in the God given ones.

The church of the Lord should not be adorned with human names but rather should wear only the terms God has chosen.  The God-given designations for the church are:

 

1. “Church of God” (I Corinthians 1:2).  This shows ownership; it belongs to God.

2. “Churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16).  The writer is speaking of the various local churches or congregations.  This designates them as belonging to Christ.

3. “The church of the living God” (I Timothy 3:15).  This also indicates ownership.

4. “The church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23).  The firstborn of the ancient families were heirs and were to receive the birthright.  Thus, the Lord’s church is made up of those who are the heirs of the promises.

 

The expressions “body of Christ” and “church of Christ” show ownership.  It is of Christ and belongs to Christ.  He is the one who built it (Matthew 16:18) and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).  He shed His blood to purchase it (Acts 20:28).  It was named after Him (Romans 16:16).

The Lord’s church has a method or system in its worship and work, but it should not be called the “Methodist Church” because it glorifies the method rather than the giver of the method.  His church is universal (Catholic) in nature, but it should not be named the “Catholic Church” or the “Universal Church” because it honors the nature of the church rather than the one who made it thus.

The Lord’s commands include such things as baptism and repentance, but His church should not be called the “Baptist Church” or the “Repentist church” because that glorifies the commands above the giver of the commands. Furthermore, the members of His church are called “Christians,” but His church should not be named the “Christian Church” because it exalts the Christians above the One who made them Christians.

Christ’s church should be named after Him (It Is His.  He built it.  He died for it.  God named it after Him.) that in all things He might be glorified.