In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo posed the question, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
In Romeo’s case he had reduced his predicament, the feud between families that kept him from Juliet, to a simple word, his last name. And in a romantic, earthly sense, we could easily say that the names of things really don’t matter –what matter are overlying principles, not divisive details. That may have been Romeo’s argument, but it certainly isn’t true -especially when the words come from God. Names and details are very important in God’s Word. For example, many have pleaded that all Christians simply call themselves “Christian” and drop every other man-made name (i.e. denominational names) because God actually gave that name to the people of the early church: Acts 11:26 literally says, “The disciples were first divinely called Christians in Antioch,” (yes, it really says that!). But the world yawns when God speaks. Much like Romeo, the world says, “So what.” But when God speaks, it’s not like when men speak. God speaks intentionally and with wisdom we cannot begin to fully comprehend. And when the Church speaks about doctrinal issues, many Christians in this day and age say, “Could we please not talk about anything divisive? Let’s just focus on the things with which we agree.” But when we do this, time after time we give more and more ground and the list of things upon which we all agree grows shorter and shorter. While in Ukraine, I often encountered Christian student movements that had no stomach for doctrinal issues. As long as someone “believed in Jesus” that was enough to qualify someone for membership; and it made no difference what the person personally believed. From a human point of view, that might sound noble, but from God’s point of view, what the person actually believes has eternal consequences. For instance, if someone thinks he or she is a Christian but does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ based on what the Word of God says, that person is lost. Some people call themselves Christians but mistakenly think they are going to heaven because of the good things they do, ritual practices or because of the family into which they were born –all because of the false teachings of men.
So what do we do? Do we teach what people want to hear, or do we teach the whole Gospel with all of its details? The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths,” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This is exactly why the world (and many Christians) is confused about the authority of the Word of God (leading to excuses such as, “There are so many interpretations –how do we know which one is right?”). So while some may say, “Please, don’t rock the boat,” the Word of God tells us to speak the truth in love because “the truth will set you free.”
Jesus called Himself “The Truth.” There is real power in Jesus’ Name. The name, “Jesus” (transliterated into English from the Greek “Iesous”) is the same name in Hebrew as “Joshua” (Yeh-ho-shu-wah). Jesus’ Name is a compound of two Hebrew words: “Yah-shah” (salvation, save) and “Yah” (the short form of “Yahweh” –“I AM,” “I EXIST”). Jesus’ own Name, which is called “the Name which is above all other names” is interpreted as, “Yahweh is salvation,” “I AM He Who saves,” “I EXIST to save” “I AM salvation,” “The Only, Eternal Savior,” “He Who Exists to save,” and much more. Hebrew is an amazing language because a little (a few letters) coveys A LOT of meaning –all at once. Moses once conveyed the meaning of Jesus’ Name in a song of praise (Exodus 15:2). After the Israelites had been saved from Pharaoh through the Red Sea, Moses sang, “My strength and song is Yahweh who is my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him a dwelling.” This very expression, a deep cry from Moses’ soul which was in awe of the power, love and indescribable majesty of the EXISTING ONE, was a deep desire for the Almighty to make His dwelling inside of Moses. Moses knew that everlasting salvation can only be found in a union with God’s Presence. Moses was saying, “I am so amazed at You that I want You to never leave me; please live in this earthly tent and be my life.” Hebrew is an amazing language. As Moses uttered these words, a word could be heard clearly among the other words: “Yehshuwah,” which is the Name of Jesus.
God’s Message and means of salvation are perfect. And perfection for us is only found in Jesus. One day, we will all be given a new name (Revelation 2:17) that will convey an inherently-meaningful and personal message to us alone from God Himself. Whatever that new name will be, it will say it all.
So, do words, doctrine and the “details” of our faith in Jesus really matter? I would say, “Tremendously.” Leaving out details can be deadly. So let’s speak the whole truth because we love the God of all truth. Sorry, Romeo, words really do matter. But they are never a barrier to those who love the truth. They bring the barriers down and usher us into a perfect unity when we trust God to save us. The I AM is our Salvation.
Love in Jesus,