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How to identify the New Testament Church (Part 3) {By the name it wears}

                If you were trying to help someone identify another person who he/she had never met before, or someone who he/she had met but did not know, how would you go about doing that? You would probably begin by giving them a common description which would include the color of their hair & eyes, their height, weight, and whether or not they wore glasses. Then again, the best way to identify a person is by his or her name. You certainly can’t go wrong there. The same principal can be applied when it comes to the church. Since there are so many different churches in the world today, one way of identify the one New Testament church is by the name it wears.

Consider first of all that the name is important. Some would say that the name doesn’t matter, but the Bible teaches otherwise. When God created the first man and woman, He named them (Gen. 5:1-2; 3:20). Not only did He name them, but the name that He gave them is of great importance. The name Adam is defined as first man (1 Cor. 15:45). The name Eve is defined as life or living; the first woman (Gen. 3:20). If the name is not important, why did God name man? Throughout Biblical history God has changed the names of certain individuals. Take for example the name “Abram” which means exalted father. God changed “Abram’s” name to “Abraham” which means father of many nations (Gen. 17:5). The name “Sarai” means princess. God changed “Sarai’s” name to “Sarah” which means mother of many nations (Gen. 17:15). Consider also “Jacob,” which means supplanter or one who overthrows by tripping. God changed his name to “Israel,” which means one who fights victoriously with God (Gen. 32:27-38).    

To say the name of the church is not important is to reflect upon the wisdom of God and accuse Him of doing foolish and useless acts.

If the name is not important, why does the Bible condemn human names? As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was thankful that he had baptized no one except Crispus and Gaius. Paul was not underestimating the importance of baptism.  He didn't want people calling themselves after his name (I Cor. 1:10-15). If there is nothing in a name, why does the Bible condemn human names?

It’s also important to recognize the fact that there is great meaning in a name. People often name their children after different Bible characters (James, John, Peter, Paul, Joshua, ect... ). If there is nothing in a name, why not name children after other names found in the Bible (Satan, Lucifer, Jezebel ect...). Would anyone call a good honest American "Judas," or "traitor?" Why not call a truthful man a "liar," or call a good citizen a "criminal?" Such actions are not practiced because we clearly recognize the fact that there is great meaning in a name.   

Why is the name so important? To begin with, the Bible clearly teaches that Christ built only one church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4; 1:21-22; Col. 1:18); however, the world is literally filled with churches with different names. How can one possibly identify the one true church that Jesus promised to build? The one church that we read about in the Bible can be distinguished from the others by its name. In the second place, the name is important because we want to follow the Bible. The apostle Peter said, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (1 Pet. 4:11). We understand that we must follow the Bible when it comes to worship (Jn. 4:24), the plan of salvation (Heb. 5:8-9), the organization of the church, etc…. We must also follow the Bible when it comes to the name! In the third place, the name is important because of the one the church is married to (Christ). God has always referred to His people as His bride.

God was married to physical Israel (Jer. 3:14). Today, He is married to the church “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God “(Rom. 7:4). When a bride gets married, whose name does she wear?  She wears her husband’s name. If the church is the bride of Christ, what name should it wear?  She should wear her husband’s name! (Christ) In the fourth place, the name is important because of the one who purchased the church. Christ purchased the church (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). The purchasing power was His own blood. If Christ purchased the church and it belongs to Him, shouldn't the church wear His name? In the fifth place, the name is important because the name Christ is the only name where salvation is found.  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). According to this passage, the only name that carries salvation is the name of Jesus. Shouldn’t the church wear the name of Jesus? In the sixth place, the name is important because we must have authority for the name we wear. We must have authority for the things that we do in the Christian life (Col. 3:17; Acts 4:1-10). We must also have authority for the name the church wears.

What name did the New Testament church wear? It was identified as "the church" (Acts 8:1), “the church of God" (I Cor. 1:2), “the churches of Christ" (Rom. 16:16), "the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12), "the church of the living God" (I Tim. 3:15), and "the church of the Firstborn" (Heb. 12:23). Many who claim to be religious, wear names which are foreign to the Bible. Is this not a dishonor to God, Christ, and the Bible? If we wish to identify the New Testament church then we must search for one which bears a Biblical name and brings honor to Christ.

 

 

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4th Sunday Fellowship Meal and 1:30pm Singing