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Doctrinal Discussions:

What's In A Name?

August 7, 2001

These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have been preaching since 1968 in the Church of Christ. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men.  Bernie Parsons

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What's In A Name?

By Bernie Parsons - August 7, 2001

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17 KJV

Some people, when discussing religion, inquire, "What's in a name?" They will say, "A rose by any other name is just as sweet"--good use of scripture, right? A name is important, because it assigns identity and characteristics to an individual or organization. If someone stole your identity, as often happens to people, and ruined your credit history and soiled your reputation, would that not offend and embarrass you? If you own a company that has a reputation for high quality and good service, would you want someone to open another company by the same name that offered poor quality and bad service? A name can be very important. The name of Jesus is one such important name.

Philippians 2:9-11 "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Revelation 5:11-13 "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

Christ died to establish His sanctified people--His church--and we must give Him the honor and glory. We call it the church of Christ because it is His. It is a description, not a formal title assigned by Jesus or His apostles. We could just as easily call it the church of God, or simply, the church. The men of the Restoration Movement asked that Christians leave behind all church names and man-made creeds, and be Christians only, and use only the Bible as our book of instruction in Christian living. Agreeing, many churches dropped the names Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian, referring to themselves only as disciples, or Christians. Thus, the restored church is the church of our Lord Jesus, Christ--or, the church of Christ. David Lipscomb assigned the name "Church of Christ" during the 1906 U.S. Census, to identify the group that split from the Disciples of Christ. We should not assign it to ourselves as a title, "The Church of Christ", as if we are a denomination. In fact, the Apostle Paul, and the writer of Acts--assumed to be Luke--wrote a great deal about the church, often referring to it simply as "the church".

Matthew 16:18 "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."

The church is His, and so we should designate it. Some of my brothers and sisters say that we must use the title Church of Christ, that no other will do. They say that we have the only "scriptural name", pointing to Romans 16:16 "Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you." as evidence. Again, this is descriptive, not a title. In fact, the "Church of Christ" as a title appears nowhere in the scriptures. Were we to search for a scriptural name, the "church of God" is found many times in the New Testament. Again, it is descriptive, not a title. We are the saints, the church of God, the churches of Christ. If we want to be the church of Christ, then let us live our lives according to the words of God--that puts us into Christ and makes us His church.

Some in the Church of Christ argue that we must use the title in order to identify our particular set of beliefs. Yet, if we are truly taking our beliefs from the Bible as we insist, could we not instead point to the New Testament to identify our beliefs? Why is that we feel the need to point to a title for identification? Is it because some of what we teach is not actually in the Bible, and the only place to find particular doctrines is in a group that has handed doctrine down through oral tradition?

Others in the Church of Christ say that the name is necessary to identify the meeting house for visitors, or because it is needed to receive the bills for the building. For this argument, see what I have written about "The Church Is Not The Building".

Truly, there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:10-12 "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Acts 8:12 "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."

Acts 19:3-5 "And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Acts 22:16 "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

Romans 10:13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

1 Corinthians 6:11 "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

1 Corinthians 1:2 "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:"

2 Timothy 2:19 "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

Acts 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

1 Corinthians 6:20 "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

Mark 16:15-16 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Christians are the Lord's church, the church of Christ, the church of God. We are the body of Christ. Why would we not give the body of Christ the name of Christ? The church is that sanctified assembly of people that have been born again of water and of the Spirit. We live godly lives every day before the face of God. We are righteous. We are holy. We give God praise and honor, through Jesus Christ. We are the church of Christ.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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