Name Calling

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene ii, line 43).
Remember the country song about a “Boy Named Sue”? Names matter! If you don’t think so, then why didn’t you name your daughter “Jezebel”? Or your son “Judas”? We used to say that we should call Bible things by Bible names. This is still important. In spiritual matters, if you attach a non-Biblical name to something we do, chances are you are describing a non-Biblical phenomenon.
Thus we call the church by names only found in the Bible. The “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), the “church of God” (Acts 20:28) and any other name the Bible calls the church is a name we can wear with pride and gratitude. Any name for the church found in scripture describes a Biblical reality; any name not found in scripture must describe something not found in scripture.
Phrases such as “Accept Jesus as your personal savior,” (was he previously an impersonal savior?), “The sinner’s Prayer” and “Look forward to the Rapture” are not found in scripture. Whatever these terms describe, they don’t describe a Bible truth. They must surely describe something more, or something less than the Bible describes. And that would be to describe too much, or too little.
“I warn everyone who hears the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. If anyone takes away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life, and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18,19).
Names have always been important to God, from the time he named the first man “Adam,” to the time he will read our names from the Book of life. On that day, the name God chooses to call me will be very, very important.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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