THERE’S ONLY ONE GOD, BUT HE HAS MANY NAMES
In referring to God, we use dozens of different names, titles and terms. Some of the most common names are shown in the table here, but many other names are also used, such as Creator, Jehovah, Lamb of God, Messiah, Word, etc. All of these names are found in the Bible.
This use of interchangeable names is confusing to many people. Why not keep it simple and just call him God?
The reason for different names is because, at various times in our thoughts and conversations, we want to focus attention on a particular aspect of God. By using a different name we can convey a different shade of meaning, as explained in the table.
There’s only one God, even though he’s called by many names. We can use his names interchangeably, depending upon our focus.
GOD’S NAME SHOULD BE HONORED AND RESPECTED
Many people, especially in humor or in rage, speak of God as though he’s a joke or as though he can be used for invoking damnation upon someone or something. Obviously, this is very offensive to God and is a sin.
Some of the first and most basic instructions God gave to mankind are contained in the Ten Commandments (see Topic 38). Item three on the list (even ahead of murder!) is:
‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.’
Ironically, swearing is evidence of the unique- ness and deity of Jesus Christ – people can’t find a more blasphemous thing to say! People don’t swear by Muhammad, Buddha, or Abraham Lincoln.
The name GOD is the broadest and most general name for deity, the ‘Almighty Being.’ It encompasses the meaning of all his other names. However, use of this general name sacrifices shades of meaning conveyed by more specific names.
The name FATHER puts emphasis on God as the single allwise and allpowerful creator and sustainer of the universe. The name emphasizes his concern and loving care.
The name JESUS is his human name, just as James and Robert are common names today. He was known as Jesus of Nazareth (the town where he lived).
The name CHRIST is his title: the ‘Anointed One’ (Christos in Greek). This means the one sent by God, the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.
The name SON focuses on the human part of God’s trinity and how he came to earth as a man to communicate with us and to pay the penalty for our sins.
The name SAVIOR focuses on the Son as the one who saves us – if we ask him – from the power and penalty of sin and gives us eternal life.
The name HOLY SPIRIT focuses on the relational part of God’s trinity and how he comforts and counsels us from within.
The name LORD focuses on God being in charge of the conduct of our life when we yield to the Holy Spirit.
LIFE IS A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
Life is – or at least should be – an exciting spiritual journey, with stimulating new discoveries along the way.
Actually, the journey through the various stages of spiritual understanding can be made very quickly – especially with help from a handbook like this – but many people get distracted with other things and stop for a long time at a particular stage of the journey, or just wander around, and some never get going to the next stage.
As sketched below, the names of God take on new meanings at each new stage of the journey:
Right from the start, we know there’s a supernatural power at work in the world. Because we see evidence of divine intelligence and planning, we ascribe a personality to this power, and we call him God.
As we move along on our spiritual journey, we begin to sense that God is loving and kind, and that he really cares about us. We begin to speak about him with reverence and affection, calling him our heavenly Father.
All along the road we encounter the name Jesus and vast numbers of people who talk about him. We get a vague understanding that somehow this name is the key to spiritual understanding.
Our inquiry about Jesus leads us to study the Bible, and from it we learn that Jesus was the Christ (the one sent by God) as foretold in the Old Testament. We come to realize that he was God in a human body, and we join others in acknowledging him as our spiritual authority. By this time, we are frequently using the name Jesus Christ and may even be identifying ourselves as one of his followers.
As we progress on our journey, we use the term Son of God to express God’s trinity nature and the concept of a universal spiritual family.
At some specific time and place on this spiritual road, we accept Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as our personal Savior. This is the highlight of the journey, and from this point forward the road seems much easier, and we meet new and wonderful traveling companions.
When we accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior, God gives us the Holy Spirit as a marvelous divine inner presence to guide us the rest of the way.
The further we travel the spiritual road, the more we use the name Lord because increasingly we let him take control of our life. He proves himself dependable, and we totally trust him. The journey takes us through death and into eternity, and we end up in heaven in the presence of God.
(IMPORTANT: The Bible says we can’t get to heaven without personally accepting the Savior – see Topics 50, 51, 55 and 62.)
Everyone should ask: Where am I in my spiritual journey? Where will I be when I die?
The names of God – dozens of them – are found throughout the Bible and are too numerous to cite here!