Cross Points 5.20.22

New Name Written Down in Glory

You may remember the old hymn that goes: There is a new name written down in glory, and its mine, oh yes, it’s mine.  The white robed angels sing the story, ‘a sinner has come home’…   So, we might ask, what is this new name the song speaks about?
If you are familiar with the Bible, you’ll know that on several occasions God changed a person’s name to show how he saw them in a new light, and hopefully help them relate to living accordingly.  He changed Abram’s name to Abraham {father of many).  He changed Sarai’s name to Sarah (noble woman).  Jacob became Israel (he wrestles with God). In the New Testament he changed Simon’s name to Peter (the rock).  Saul would become Paul (small or humble, a reminder he needed since he had strong credentials).
Beyond the old hymn, there is reference to a new name in scripture.  In Isaiah 62 we find the words, “You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.”  In Revelation 2 we also find the following, “To the one who is victorious…I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it.”  What is this “new name” we receive when we decide to follow Jesus?
Some might say it is the name Christian.  It is truly a new name, coined by people in the city of Antioch for the diverse group of people who were following Jesus, whom these followers claimed to be the Christ.  The people of Antioch called them “Christians” {Acts 11:26), which means a follower of Christ.  Was it originally intended as a term of endearment, or as a term of derision?  We’re not sure, but it stuck.  We see it also used later in the book of Acts (26:28) where Paul preaches to King Agrippa, and he replies, “Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?”  The only other place we find the word is in Peter’s first letter (4:16), where he says, “But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name.”
From the context of these three places where the word Christian is used, it might seem the term was used critically.  The Romans, who were polytheistic, used “Christian” to label this sect they did not like.  And as Peter says, it results in suffering, and if we suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed.
Another possibility is the term Disciple.  I prefer it as our new name.  Why?  Because it is the term Jesus used, with meaning.  If God is going to give us this new name (reference Isaiah 62), one that provides meaning to our new identity, and Jesus is God in the flesh, then his name for us would seem preferable.  Disciple was a common term in the Jewish culture at the time of Jesus.  It is a person who follows a rabbi (teacher) and patterns their life after the rabbi’s life.  It would hold that meaning for followers of Jesus, as well.  And here’s where I see Jesus use it to define our new name most clearly…
After his resurrection and appearances, Jesus prepares to return to heaven.  Before he does so, he gives the apostles and other disciples what we call the Great Commission.  You’ll find it in Matthew 28.  Jesus says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, and make disciples…”  They were to baptize them and teach them to obey all Jesus commanded.  A disciple of Jesus is one who truly follows him, who has been baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27, etc.), who is continually taught as he or she follows, to do what the Lord asks.
There’s a new name written down in glory.  Is it Christian or Disciple?  Either one of them works, one leans Jewish the other Gentile, but both indicate a follower of Christ.  Indeed, as I follow him in faith, his salvation is mine, oh yes, it’s mine!  It is yours too if you are willing to suffer as a follower of the Lord.
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