Saints Bear Their Lord's Name

(Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp 363-4)

Family members bear the family name; by it they are known and called and identified; it sets them apart from all those of a different lineage and ancestry. Adopted children take upon themselves the name of their newfound parents and become in all respects as though they had been born in the family. And so it is that the children of Christ, those who are born again, those who are spiritually begotten by their new Father, take upon themselves the name of Christ. By it they are known; in it they are called; it identifies and sets them apart from all others. They are now family members, Christians in the real and true sense of the word.

Do they themselves become Christs? Not in the sense that they are called upon to atone for the sins of others and make immortality and eternal life available for themselves or their fellowmen on this or any world. But they do carry his name and are obligated to bear it in decency and dignity. No taint of shame or disgrace, no sliver of dishonor must ever be permitted to attach itself to that name "which is above every name," for "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow" (Phil. 2:9-10) and pay homage to him who is above all save the Father only. The saints of God must remember who they are and act accordingly.

Thus, when King Benjamin desired to set his people apart from the world and plant their feet in that course leading to peace and joy here in mortality and to everlasting renown in the realms ahead, he said: "I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I do because they have been a diligent people in keeping the commandments of the Lord. And I give unto them a name that never shall be blotted out, except it be through transgression." (Mosiah 1:11-12.)

Later, in a tender and moving passage, addressing himself to those who had been born again, thereby becoming "the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters," the beloved and upright King of the Nephites counseled his people: "Take upon you the name of Christ. . . . And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ. And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God. And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts. I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you. For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" (Mosiah 5:7-13.)

When the first Alma was struggling with the administrative burdens of the Church in his day, he pled with the Lord for direction relative to church members who transgressed the laws of their Sovereign. Included in the answer from the Lord were these words: "Blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine. . . . For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand. For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand." (Mosiah 26:18, 23-24.)

Thus we learn that those who take upon themselves the name of Christ, who thereafter hearken and hear when he continues to call them in the name which is both his and theirs, and who keep the standards of the Christian family having enjoyed the fellowship of hosts of brothers and sisters in the Church, go on to eternal joy and felicity as members of the family of God in the celestial kingdom! What a pleasing concept this is! (Alma 34:38; D&C 18:21-25.)

In the same sense in which faithful people become the sons and daughters of their Lord, thus inheriting from him the joys of salvation, so rebellious and unbelieving people become the sons and daughters of Satan, thus inheriting from him the sorrows of damnation. So we find the second Alma, as part of his great sermon on being born again addressing himself to "workers of iniquity" in this way: "The good shepherd doth call you: yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.

"And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil. For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil. Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him. And whosoever doeth this must receive his wages of him; therefore, for his wages he receiveth death, as to things pertaining unto righteousness, being dead unto all good works." (Alma 5:38-42.)

These views of the American Paul accord perfectly with those of the Lord Jesus, spoken to rebellious Jews, in these words: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." (John 8:44.)

The way in which the name Christian is bestowed upon those who take upon themselves the name of Christ is set forth in that episode of Nephite history when General Moroni set up the title of liberty. On that occasion, the record says "he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land. For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church. And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come. And therefore, at this time, Moroni prayed that the cause of the Christians, and the freedom of the land might be favored." (Alma 46: 13-16.)

This doctrine whereunder the true saints take upon themselves the name of their Lord so that ever thereafter they are called by the sacred name of Christ, or Christians, is also the basis for the proper choice of the name of the Church. "Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter," was the petition of the Nephite Twelve to the risen Lord Jesus. "Why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?" he replied. "Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day; And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.

"Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake. And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses' name then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel." (3 Ne. 27:3-8.)