Study 1: God
The Existence of God | The Personality of God | God's Name and Character | The Angels | Digressions ("God Is A Spirit", The Use of God's Name, God Manifestation) | Questions

Digression 2: The Use of God's Name

We have seen that God's Name and that of His Son Jesus has very deep meaning. When we speak of 'God' we are touching upon every aspect of His wonderful purpose of love and truth. That God's Name should be used in vain as a mild expletive or expression of exasperation, is therefore one of the most insulting things a man can do to his Maker. For this reason everyone who wants to please God and honour Him will make every effort not to use God's Name lightly. In many societies world-wide such blasphemy has become a standard part of modern language; to break out of what may have been the habit of a lifetime will not be easy. A heartfelt prayer for God's help in this will surely not go unheeded by Him. Those within our sphere of control and influence, e.g. children, could also be reminded of the seriousness of blasphemy: "For the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain" (Deut.5:11).

On the other hand there are those who insist that unless we constantly use the Hebrew words Yahweh or Jehovah (different ways of pronouncing the same word) when talking about God, then we are seriously astray. Foremost among these are the Watchtower Society, who insist that unless a Christian calls himself a 'Jehovah's Witness' then he has no relationship with God.

By doing this, such people are using God's holy and marvellous Name to fuel a kind of spiritual elitism, whereby they despise other people merely over the pronunciation or use of one word. This is not to say that the use of God's Name is wrong; it is especially suited to our personal prayers once we are properly baptized into the Name. The New Testament, however, does not give us any indication that this is necessary or even desired by God. He overruled the inspiration of the New Testament so that it was written in Greek, using only one word for 'God' - 'theos', meaning 'a great one'. No distinction is made in it between 'God' and 'Yahweh', nor is there any specific command concerning what believers should call themselves as a community. Peter speaks of a believer as a "Christian" rather than a 'Jehovah-man' or something similar (1 Pet.4:16). An over-emphasis on the use of the name 'Jehovah' leads to a devaluing of the work and place of the Lord Jesus, in a similar way to which many 'evangelical Christians' over-stress the name and office of Jesus to the neglecting of the mightier place of God.

Other names by which the early community of Christian believers called themselves do not include the name 'Jehovah':

  • "The commonwealth of Israel" (Eph.2:12)
  • "The general assembly and church of the firstborn" (Heb.12:23)
  • "The church of God" (Acts 20:28)
  • "The church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim.3:15)
  • "The house of God" (1 Tim.3:15).

In passing, note that the believers did not call themselves 'Christians'; this was a derogatory term meaning, 'These Christ-folk', coined by their enemies.