|Vol. 13 No. 8 August 2011||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Names mean something! Consider the difference between Donald Trump’s name on a check and Rodney Nulph’s name on a check! Call your wife Fido and your dog Susan and see if names do not mean something! Names mean so much that God changed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17:5, 15). Names mean something! Names mean so much that Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, condemned human and divisive names religiously (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Sadly, the religious world is filled with every name imaginable! However, such will never be pleasing to God! Whatever we do must be done by the authority of Christ (Colossians 3:17), and our designations are no different.
Firstly, consider our name collectively. The church, as a whole, has no specific or “brand” name, but is characterized by several biblical designations. The church collectively is designated as “My church” (Matthew 16:18). Obviously the “my” refers to none other than Christ Himself. The church is also designated as “the church” (Acts 8:1), which was easily seen in the first century, for at that time there was just “the church” (Acts 2:41, 47). If there was just “the church” (singular) in the first century, why are there many so-called churches today? Has God changed His ideal or has man distorted God’s plan? The church of the New Testament was also designated as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2), which indeed shows ownership. The New Testament church was also known as “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), denoting local congregations united in doctrine and practice. The church collectively is also known as “the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12), “the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “church of the first born” (Hebrews 12:23), “the kingdom” (1 Corinthians 15:24), the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:21-32; Revelation 22:17), as well as numerous other appellations. The church that belongs to Christ must be designated by scriptural terms. Well, what about those who wear different names than those found in Holy Writ? “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:4). “It is strange that people who claim to be religious will wear some name or designation that is foreign to the Bible” (Brownlow 30). I want to be a part of the New Testament church, and will only be designated as such!
Secondly, consider our name individually. As heartbreaking as it is, there are as many individual names for so-called church members as there are feathers on a duck! This is no attack or anything of the sort on the following, but the truth is many folks call themselves Baptist, Methodist, Nazarene, Lutheran, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, et al. However, individually, God has never authorized such names for His followers! If we believe the Bible, then why not be called by Bible names? Individually, followers of Christ have been designated as “members” (1 Corinthians 12:27), “disciples” (Acts 20:27), “beloved of God” (Romans 1:7), “saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “sons of God” (Romans 8:14), “brethren” (1 Corinthians 15:6), “children of God” (1 John 3:1), “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16), et al. To be called by some manmade name is not pleasing to Almighty God. Let’s be called by Bible names!
Lastly, consider our name distinctly. So-called “hyphenated Christians” are not biblical. One cannot please God and be a “Baptist-Christian,” “Lutheran Christian” or any other hyphenated Christian. Paul clearly condemned hyphenated Christians (1 Corinthians 1:12-13; 3:4). How can we fulfill the prayer of our High Priest if we are not “one” in our doctrine as well as our designations (cf. John 17:20-21)? James, the half-brother of our Lord knew the importance of a name when he wrote of it as being a “worthy name” (James 2:7).
Although some may disdain the above, our designations collectively, individually and distinctly must have the authority of Christ in order to please Him! We call upon each reader to discard every human, divisive name and simply be called after the One Who died for us, Christ. I am simply and wonderfully a Christian, no more, and no less – what about you?
Brownlow, Leroy. Why I am a Member of the Church of Christ. Fort Worth: Brownlow, 1945.
An epitaph is a brief statement that commemorates or summarizes a deceased person or past event. On the tombstones of many we have seen words like, “Beloved Wife of…,” “Gone to be with God” or “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” What will be put on your tombstone? What really should be engraved on your headstone that summarizes your life? Would someone put on your tombstone, “He Obeyed Not the Gospel”? Men must obey the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Obedience is essential. There is nothing that can take its place (1 Samuel 15:22). Obey the Gospel now. Obey the facts of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Obey the commands of the Gospel (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15-16). Then and only then will you receive the promises of the Gospel (Luke 24:47; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 1:16).
If you are a child of God, I ask you what will they put on your headstone? Will they put, “He Hath Loved This Present World”? Demas forsook Paul, having loved this present world and all that in it is (2 Timothy 4:10). God said, “Love not this world, neither the things that are in this world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Jesus said we must be careful lest “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in, choke the word and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:24).