Three Ways to Acquire A Name

Three Ways to Acquire A Name
By Curtis Young Chairman of Pentecom

One of the most essential things a person possesses is his name. That is because a name is a man’s oldest and most trusted means of identification.

Governments and financial institutions use both names and numbers to identify and track people, but even with a number system, identification by name continues to be an essential element in human relationships. It just doesn’t seem appealing to greet your best friend with, “Hey there 236-56-7916.” That may be his identification number, but it is a cold and unfeeling greeting. The Apostle John offers a more appealing salutation: “Greet the friends by name” (III John 14).

When the Anti-Christ comes, he will impose a number on all who buy or sell (Revelation 13:13-17), but to the true Christ, you are infinitely more than a number. As the Bible tells us, “He calleth His own sheep by name” (John 10:3).

Because a name is so important in human relations, and because God chooses to identify His sheep by name, we should be interested in how a name is acquired. In fact, there are several ways to acquire a name. Each way merits our consideration.

A family name is acquired at birth, inherited from the father. First and second names follow and are usually chosen by the parents. The naming process varies according to culture, but is usually very deliberate. During certain periods of man’s history, names were chosen for their meaning, to express certain feelings or desires of the parents. Name were also prophetic of certain character traits in people. For example, Jacob was a supplanter. That was also the meaning of his name. When God changed Jacob’s nature, He gave him a new name to reflect the new nature (Genesis 35:10). The name Nabal is another example of meaningful or prophetic naming. Abigail told David that Nabal was a “man of Belial.” She said, “As his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him” (I Samuel 25:25).

Another way to acquire a name is by the way you live your life. The name you aquire in this manner is your reputation. In fact, sometimes when the word “name” is used in Scripture, it refers to reputation. Your reputation extends the name you received at birth, and includes perceptions that people have of you. David’s victory over the Syrians gave him a reputation. The Bible says, “David get him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men” (2 Samuel 8:13). Abraham gained a name of being “the friend of God” because he believed and obeyed God (James 2:23).

Your reputation can be either good or bad, depending on the impressions you create through your actions. Like it or not, perception often plays a much greater role than reality. You may not be what people think you are, but what they think affects your reputation. Negative impressions are difficult to overcome. A twenty-year testimony can be destroyed in a moment, leaving you with a name that reflects only your moment of failure.

Finally, there is another way to acquire a name. According to Ephesians 3:15, “the whole family in heaven and earth” has one name. The context of this verse shows that name to be Jesus. We take on the name of Jesus when we obey Acts 2:28, which commands us to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. This is further confirmed in Romans 6:3-4 and Galatians 3:27.

Since water baptism is essential to salvation, it is vital that we employ the proper name. Although it was not revealed in the Old Testament, Jesus has always been the name of God. The very nature of God and all of His many attributes are concentrated in His name. The apostle Peter declared, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Two chapters later the Bible records the same apostle telling a group of the rulers and elders of the Jews, “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).

In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul described the exalted position of the name of Jesus in this way: “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” (Philippians 2:9-11).

The only scriptural conclusion that can be reached is that it does make a difference in baptism whether or not the name of Jesus is used. It is impossible to acquire the name of Jesus by simply repeating the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 cannot be obeyed without saying the name of Jesus. Receiving the name of Jesus is infinitely more important than the name given to us by our parents. It is also more important than any reputation we could ever gain through notable or heroic deeds. Unless we have the name of Jesus, we are not in the family.