In becoming a Christian we took up our cross and followed Jesus (Matthew 16:24). There are two aspects of being a Christian. First, in His church, we honor and obey Christ in our faith, worship and activities (1 Peter 2:5). Secondly, we live our daily lives according to His standard. As Paul puts it, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17).
What it means to be “Christians only.” To attach any other religious name or to assign some additional name to that of Christ demonstrates disrespect to the Founder, Head and Savior of the church. It distracts from Jesus the Christ, to whom we owe our all.
Others have recognized this great truth, which I have found published.
· Martin Luther said, “I pray you to leave my name alone and call not yourselves Lutherans but Christians.”
· John Wesley said, “I would to God that all party names and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world were forgot … that the very name Methodist might never be mentioned more, but buried in eternal oblivion.”
· George Whitefield was a famous English preacher who was associated with the John and Charles Wesley. One of his often used illustrations pictured a man approaching the gates of heaven and inquiring of Father Abraham, “Are there any Methodists here?” Abraham answered, No. Well are there any Anglicans? Again the answer was, No. He asked about Catholics and Baptists and got the same reply. Finally, in exasperation he, asked, Just who is here? And Abraham replied, “We have Christians here, that’s all.”
As a body of people we identify ourselves as churches of Christ. These words were used by Paul in his letter to the Romans. He said, “The churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:16). We do not claim this is the one exclusive name of the church. Paul addressed the church in Corinth as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2). In 1 Timothy 3:15 he called it “the church of the living God.” Although it is not the exclusive name of the church, it certainly is an appropriate scriptural name.