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What’s in a name?

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Many of the men I have had the privilege to dialogue with in Utah are members of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” One such issue they take with me is that I stress the difference between their Christ and my Christ. They usually insist that we worship the same God and the same Jesus and they point out that since salvation is in the name of Jesus, it really makes no difference.

Their argument is that since they believe Jesus is the son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins, and we believe the same Gospel, what difference does it make? Since the gospel is the same, the differences between what they believe and what we believe about the specifics of Jesus are only trivial.

It boils down to this: If we both trust Jesus for salvation, why does it really matter?

Here’s why

The core of the Gospel, its foundation, and its power is the person of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14 says “How are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?” To believe in Jesus, a person must know who Jesus is! If they don’t know who Jesus is, who are they calling to? It’s like they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

When these men I converse with insist that Jesus is Jesus and so long as you call on Jesus what difference does it make, I like to ask this: What’s in a name?  Why is the name of Jesus so important? The name of Jesus is important because of who that name is attributed to. If you don’t know the “who” behind the name, then you’re missing the “whom” of Romans 10:14.

The “whom” is the image of the invisible God, by him all things were created, in him all things hold together, he is the head of the Church because the fullness of god was pleased to dwell in him. (Col 1:15-19) Because of that, he is able to reconcile all things to himself by the blood of the cross (Col 1:20). Because he is Lord of all (Acts 10:34) the Gospel is the Gospel.

The name Jesus is not where the power of salvation lies. The person of Jesus is.

As believers we have to be careful to clarify the person of Jesus Christ if we hope to see someone saved from who they are. A lot of people died on crosses, but only one has the authority to forgive your sin (Matt 9:6). Only one has the blood that can reconcile the sinner back to God (1Peter 1:18-20).

For a long time, we could presume that Americans already knew the person of Jesus and we could summarize our evangelism with his name. Anymore, those Americans are few and far between. Jesus is not simply a good teacher. He is not simply a prophet. He most certainly is not the brother of Lucifer as the LDS Church confesses. People know the name of Jesus, but they don’t know who Jesus is.

Our Gospel depends on it.