Summary: Who are you? Whose name do you bear? And what difference does that make to your life?
OPEN: There was a famous singer back in the 70’s named Jim Croce. He wrote songs like “Time in a bottle,” “Don’t mess around with Jim”, and others. One of the last songs he wrote began with these words…
“Like the pine trees linin' the windin' road, I've got a name, I've got a name. Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad, I've got a name, I've got a name.”
And the next phrase in the song says “And I carry it with me like my daddy did…” ("I've Got A Name" written and performed by Jim Croce)
He carried his name like his daddy did? What could that mean? Well, guess what his daddy’s name was? Jim Croce. He was named after his father. In that song Croce was honoring the memory of his father and he was saying in that song that he was proud of his father’s name. His own name was the same as his dad’s and that gave him his identity. He bore his father's name... and when people called his name - he knew WHO he was.
Now, my question for you this morning is this: Do you know WHO you are? Do you know WHAT NAME you bear????
Acts 2:38 says we are baptized “... IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ.” We BEAR the name of Jesus! That’s why we’re called Christians. “Christian” means a “follower of Christ.” Paul wrote to the church at Corinth … and said that he was “determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” 1 Corinthians 2:2
Do you know WHO you are? Do you know WHO you belong to?
Now, you’d think that would be a “gimmee.” You’d think it would be obvious who we belong to! But too often people forget. Too often people take their eyes off of Jesus and turn their gaze to someone or something else that they attach themselves to. And that was a problem even in the days of the early church.
Paul wrote “My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’ (another name for Peter); still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no-one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” I Corinthians 1:11-17
In other words, some of the people in Corinth had TAKEN their eyes off of Jesus. They began to brag about who had baptized them into Christ. And Paul was saying “I’m glad I didn’t get in the middle of all that!” Yes, he’d baptized a few people there, but he usually left the baptisms to someone else and focused on preaching. And that was a good thing, because then he wouldn’t be put in the embarrassing position of upstaging Christ. Paul didn’t die for the Corinthians – Jesus did!
ILLUS: Recently a friend told me “you’re an Arminian.” In other words, he was stating that I believed in the religious teachings of a man named Jacobus Arminius, who maintained that men and women have a free will (as opposed the teaching of Calvinism that essentially denied that). Now, while it was probably true that I agreed with Arminius on this, I responded to my friend: “No, I’m not an Arminian. I’m a Christian. Arminius didn’t die for me. And while I may agree with some (or all) of his teachings, I don’t belong to him. I belong to Christ… and that’s all I want.”
You see, once you or I wrap ourselves around a mortal teacher like Arminius, or Luther, or Calvin, et.al. – we might begin to want to defend that teacher against all comers. And that’s not a good thing.
In our brotherhood, some of the foundational thinkers were Thomas Campbell and Raccoon John Smith. (yes, we had a famous preacher named Raccoon John Smith) These were decent men who shared a common desire to return to Scripture as the sole basis of doctrine and authority in Christ’s church. And I agree with them. But they didn’t die for me. I belong to Christ, first and foremost and always!!!
Can I hear an amen?? (pause). No, of course I can’t hear an Amen – you’re not here. We’re in quarantine! But if you were– I’d make you give me an AMEN!! because we should be Christians ONLY!!!!