Names for the Church Reference to the church of the New Testament is made by several designations. We do not insist that Christ’s church was called by one uniform name – it was not. However, each reference to the church is not without meaning; and we contend that in order to be scriptural—A SCRIPTURAL DESIGNATION MUST BE USED.
The church belongs to Christ, and He sustains such close relationship to it that it is proper, fit-ting, and scriptural to just call it the church of Christ, or Christ’s church.
- It belongs to Him (Matthew 16:18).
- He built it (Matthew 16:18).
- He is the Head of it (Colossians 1:18).
- He is the foundation (I Corinthians 3:11).
- He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28).
- It is His body (Ephesians 1:22-23).
- He is Savior of it (Ephesians 5:23).
- He is King over HIS KINGDOM, which is His church (Matthew 16:19; John 18:36).
Here are some expressions used in referring to the church:
“household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10);
“kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13);
“house of God” (I Timothy 3:15);
“church of God” (I Corinthians 1:2); [and]
“body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:27).
In referring to a number of local congregations, Paul says, “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16).
These all have reference to one and the same church, the one that Jesus built – the one we read about in the New Testament – and He built only one (I Corinthians 12:20).
It is important that we be right in doctrine, worship, and organization; but the importance of being scriptural in name cannot be ignored. Men should not dare to accept, follow, and foster a name religiously that is not found in the New Testament.
Party Names Reveal Party Doctrines
This fact does not make them right, but it is a fact nevertheless. Religious names reveal what the ones wearing them believe and practice. Often it is necessary to inquire further and classify one in a specific way to ascertain his real position. To illustrate, with ill-will toward none, when a man says he is a “Baptist,” it is necessary to inquire further since there are so many kinds of Baptists. Is he a Primitive Baptist? a Free-will Baptist? a Southern Baptist? a Northern Baptist? Or a Fundamentalist Baptist? After he says which kind he is, then it is revealed pretty well what he believes and practices. Why? Because party beliefs and practices are wrapped up in and expressed by party names. Hence, party names are not meaningless. There is no promised blessing of God in them, but rather the reverse.
However, “Lutheran” exalts Martin Luther; “Baptist” exalts the act of baptism; and “Presbyterian” exalts the eldership. So, it cannot be said that there is nothing even in party names— though they be unscriptural, and cause discord and division. This point may be more clearly seen by considering this fact: it takes Catholic doctrine to make Catholics; it takes Baptist doctrine to make Baptists. The Bible only makes Christians only.
The Importance and Significance of the New Name
“Christian” is supposed to indicate a special relationship to Christ. The word “Christian” is used loosely today. Nations that are corrupt in many, many ways may be referred to as a “Christian” nation. Many think they are Christians when they have not done what it takes to become a Christian. In the book of Acts, there are ten cases of conversion. By doing as they did, one today can become a Christian.
Being a Christian in New Testament times, indicated:
THAT one belonged to Christ (I Corinthians 6:19-20; I Peter 1:18,19).
THAT one had been baptized in the name of Christ. No one has a right to wear the name of Christ UNTIL he has been baptized in His name (I Corinthians 1:12-).
THAT one was in the church of Christ. In becoming a Christian – hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, and being baptized – one is thereby added by Christ to His church (Acts 2:47).
THAT one had been separated from the world, was dead to sin, and alive to righteousness (Romans 6:2).
THAT one had been baptized into Christ and into His death, buried, and raised to walk a new life (Romans 6:3-4).
THAT he had been thereby made free from sin, (Romans 6:17,18); having been baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), thus obtaining the benefits of Christ’s death and blood.
THAT he was worshipping and striving to serve Christ according to His revealed will (Acts 2:42; 20:7; Ephesians 5:19).
THAT one was trying to be Christ-like, letting Christ live in him (Galatians 2:20); and looking for-ward to being like Christ in Heaven (I John 3:2).
Hence, faithful followers of Christ gladly wear the name of their Savior, Prophet, Priest, King, and Redeemer. It expresses a sweet and tender relationship, and every time it is spoken IT EXALTS HIM WHO DIED THAT WE MAY LIVE FOREVER in Heaven the home for the redeemed. Are you a Christian? And a Christian only? If not, become one at once and thereby be added to Christ’s church. There is neither reason nor revelation for being more than just a humble Christian!
YES, THERE IS SOMETHING IN A NAME!
A. G. Hobbs