Summary: Jesus makes us a New Creation and gives us a New Name. Why does He do that, and what kind of difference can that make in our lives?
Does anybody know what the “S” in Harry S Truman stands for? NOTHING! It doesn't stand for anything. He was born with a middle initial… and that was it. The letter “S” was a compromise that his parents made to satisfy his grandfathers, whose names were Shippe and Solomon.”
Several years ago, a new recruit in the U.S. Army had only letters for his first and middle names—R B Jones. To avoid problems when recruiting for the Army, he helpfully listed his name as ‘R (only) B (only) Jones.’ Given the nature of thinking in the Army, from that day on he was ‘Ronly Bonly Jones,’ and all his records, dog tags, assignment forms and even his discharge papers were issued in that name.
A recent study suggests about 2/3s of the U.S. population were named to honor somebody. And 60 percent (of that 2/3s) were named after a relative and 40 percent for someone outside the family.
Now, I was named for Jeff Chandler - a famous actor in the 40s and 50s that my mom really liked. I never liked the name all that much… until I found out WHO I was named for. Then (after that) Jeff became an “alright” kind of name. In fact, I discovered that Jeff meant “Peace of God’… I can live with that.
But names are important. They can shape how we think about ourselves - how we view ourselves.
ILLUS: For example, Tammy Lynn Jones (aged 44) changed her name to Teajai (pronounced “TJ”) Kimsey. She made the switch to leave behind an unhappy childhood. “When I hear the name Tammy, all the horrible stuff I went through comes up. But when I hear Teajai Kimsey, I think: fresh, bright, hopeful, intelligent – all the things I didn’t think I was when I was younger. Changing my name was like getting an eraser and starting over as this new person” (Pamela Redmond Satran & Linda Rosenkrantz – Reader’s Digest 7/09)
And that’s what God has done for us. He has given us a new name. He’s made it so we can start over as a new person. In Revelation 2 Jesus promised “To him who overcomes… I will also give him a white stone with a NEW NAME written on it, known only to him who receives it.”
In Isaiah 62:2 God declared: “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by A NEW NAME that the mouth of the LORD will give.
The very idea that God would give us a new name is intriguing. In fact, the promise of God to give us a NEW NAME was the inspiration for a famous Gospel Hymn of the past:
“I was once a sinner, but I came, pardon to receive from my Lord. This was freely given, and I found, that He always kept His word. (Chorus) There's a new name written down in glory. And it's mine, oh yes, it's mine! And the white-robed Angels sing the story, ‘A sinner has come home.’ For there's a new name written down in glory. And it's mine, oh yes, it's mine! With my sins forgiven I am bound for heaven, nevermore to roam.” (C. Austin Miles)
There’s a new name written down in glory and it’s mine. And it’s mine because I now belong to Jesus.
But that points to a repeated theme in Scripture, and that theme is summed up in II Corinthians 5:17 - “If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
What does that mean? What does it mean that the old has passed away and the new has come? Well it means, first, that our old way of life has passed away… it’s dead. We have received forgiveness. Peter wrote: (Jesus) himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
By contrast, Buddhism has this unique view of forgiveness: “Not in the sky, not in the midst of the sea, nor if we enter into the clefts of the mountains, is there known --- a spot in the whole world where a man might be freed from an evil deed.”
In other words, Christian forgiveness is NOT something Buddhism teaches.
There was once a novelist and well-known secular humanist named Marghanita Laski. Not long before she died in 1988, she admitted on national TV “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.” (John Stott in The Contemporary Christian)
Well, she could have had someone. And we do have that someone! We have SOMEONE to forgive us. That’s precisely what Jesus came to do. He came that we might receive forgiveness. As Romans 5:8-9 tells us: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”