Often folks express their opinion by saying, “There is nothing in a name; the name over your building does not make you right.” It has always been very interesting to me that those who have a scriptural name on their building are not the ones who say this. It is those who have a name not found nor authorized in the Word of God. Is it true that the name does not matter? Is it true that there is nothing in a name?
David expressed it this way in both the first and last verses of Psalm 8: “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hath set thy glory above the heavens.” Adam Clarke, commenting on this verse wrote, “How illustrious is the name of Jesus throughout the world! His incarnation, birth, humble and obscure life, preaching, miracles, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, are celebrated through the whole world. His religion, the gifts and graces of his Spirit, his people—Christians—his Gospel and the preachers of it are everywhere spoken of. No name is so universal, no power and influence so generally felt, as those of the Savior of mankind. Amen” (Clark Commentary, vol. 3, p. 238).
While speaking before the council, Peter warned, “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). It appears certain that Peter believed the name was important!
Years later, after describing the humiliation of Jesus in his leaving heaven, where he was on equality with God, and coming to this low land of sin and sorrow, where he ultimately paid the supreme sacrifice by dying on the cross, states: “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” (Phil. 2:9-12). It seems beyond doubt that Paul agreed with Peter that indeed there is something in a name.
The name is so important that “whatsoever ye do in word or deed” is to be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). And we are even promised by Christ that “Whosoever shall give you a cup of cold water in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41).
In the Old Testament the Hebrew name for God “EL” was embodied in the name his people were called by, “IsraEL.” You could not say the name of God's people without saying the name of God. The same is still true in regard to the name “Christians.” It has the name of “Christ” embodied in the word itself making it impossible to say the name of God's people without saying the name of Christ. We are even instructed by Peter, “if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (I Pet. 4:16).
Why is it that men are going to generic names for their religion today? Are they ashamed of the name of Christ? Are they trying to disguise or camouflage their religious ties? Or is it because the name they usually go by, as well as their generic name, cannot be found authorized in the Bible? Where in the Scripture do we find a “Baptist church” or a “Methodist church” or a “Presbyterian church”? You can just go on and list most all of the denominational group names and ask the same question.
Common sense tells us that indeed there is always something in a name. It matters what name is on your check, your house, car title, your birth certificate, or driver's license. I believe you get the picture. And it does matter what name you wear religiously!
Let's wear and honor His name as we sing,
“His name above all names shall stand,
Exalted more and more,
At God the Father’s own right hand,
Where angel hosts adore.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
Paul M. Wilmoth