A search for the usage of the above title as found in the KJV of the Bible, will bring up eleven passages where the term is used, mostly in the Book of Jeremiah. Among them is this verse "But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by My name, to defile it" (Jer. 32:34). From this passage one can see: that God had a house, the Temple; that it might be defiled in some way; that some abomination was brought into the Temple; that His name was associated with the Temple and the goings on there.
Now, if the Temple had been called by some other name, the transgressions (idol worship) would have still been bad, but God's name was attached to the sins, making them even more egregious. That God has great concern for the use of His name is seen in the third commandment, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain" (Exo. 20:7).
In the New Testament no physical temple is provided, but there is a spiritual structure called by God's name. "I will build My church," Christ said, pointing to His followers, called by the gospel, cleansed by His blood, and obedient to His Word. The church is the temple of God: which might be defiled (1 Cor. 3:17) composed of Christians (1 Pet. 2) that by which acceptable group worship is offered (1 Cor. 11:18); and the place where Scriptural oversight is provided (Acts 14:23).
And, the church should be called by His name. It is the "church of God" in several passages, and the "body of Christ" in others. The apostle Paul said, "the churches of Christ salute you," (Rom. 16:16) of the local churches. Christ built the church; is its Foundation (1 Cor. 3:110, is the Head of it (Eph. 5), and purchased it by His blood (Acts 20:28). It therefore should be called by His name.
There has been over the last few years a proliferation of groups with newfangled names, so much so that I have taken to writing them down just for the record. On my list are: Apostolic Tabernacle; Life and Wind Church; Biblewood Chapel; Fellowship of Encouragement, New Beginning Fellowship Church; and Destiny Church, among others. Bless their hearts for having the courage to distance themselves form the mainline denominations, but such monickers do not have the effect of calling the groups by God's name.
Speaking of the mainline denominations, neither do their names set Christ at the center of their founding, but rather call attention to some peculiar doctrine (Baptists), discipline (Methodists), or originator (Lutherans).
One fellow objected that having the name "Hen House" over the door of one of the farm sheds does not guarantee that there will be any chickens inside. True, but such a sign would surely give the observer the right indication about what should be there and what the builder intended.
Perhaps it is good that God's name not be associated with groups that are not careful to worship and work scripturally. Or perhaps the worshippers shrink back from attaching the Lord's name to their work, thinking that a timid approach to serving God is more appropriate. But, alas, God has not offered a place for those who would serve the Lord through "An affiliate, or a A"knock-off." There is a time for boldness in God's work and a time for humility (Jer. 32:33), and those who claim to serve God of heaven must be bold in their approach! (Heb. 10:19,38, 39).
If the work is God's, it should be done with confidence and proof from the Scriptures. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thes. 5:21). And, if the work of God, it certainly should bear His name. "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by HIm"(Col. 3:17).
Orthodox Jews still today avoid using the name of God, lest they mispronounce it or defile it and bring God's wrath upon themselves. On the other extreme we hear even religious people speaking the name of God in a blatantly profane way. Surely God's name should be used but not profaned. The things that are called by His name should be implemented but not defiled.
The Corinthian Christians were told, "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Cor. 3:17). The church's worship had been corrupted by turning the communion into a common meal (1 Cor. 11). The church's unity had been shattered by the use of men's names (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3). The church's purity had been defiled by embracing fornicators. (1 Cor. 5.). The church's doctrine had been corrupted by false teachers (1 Cor. 15). Wearing the name of Christ constitutes a serious claim, and doing t he work of Christ is a serious job.
Yet, Christians should have the courage to do things in the name of Christ both in word, so that God be glorified, and in deed, so that God be revered. Those who fail in these charges will be branded as those of Jeremiah's day, as those who defile the Lord's service.
By George Hutto in Tidings, Vol. 24, No. 12, Dec. 2009.
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