Heated Debate: Do You Know the Mystery of God’s Name?

By Feng Huan, China

Forwarding a post:

Brothers and sisters:

Hello! I’ve been bothered by one question for a long time. I wanna discuss with you. Gimme a hand, please.

In the Old Testament, it is recorded that Jehovah God said: “I, even I, am Jehovah; and beside me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). “Jehovah … is my name for ever, and this is my memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:15). But in the New Testament the verse records, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). From these verses, we can see: It is recorded in the Old Testament that Jehovah is God’s name for ever, while in the New Testament it is said that Jesus is God’s name for ever. Since the name of Jehovah God and the name of the Lord Jesus both last forever, why did God’s name change? Which is actually the only name of God, Jehovah or Jesus?

Poster: Seeking the light

the ten mommandments in the bible, Torah

Response:

Raindrop:

Seeking the light, your question is new and fresh, but you may overthink. I think there is no mystery in God’s name. It’s just that Their names are different. We only need to know that both Jehovah and Jesus are God.

Devoting myself:

Well, I’ve never heard this question before. But I agree with Raindrop. There is no need to take it seriously. We believers only need to know Jehovah God is the Father and that Jesus Christ is the Son.

Smith:

Hi, everyone. Concerning this question, I’d like to say a few words. I think the question raised by Seeking the light is worthy of our careful consideration. I feel that there must be a mystery in God’s name. In the past, I also pondered over this question but couldn’t figure it out. I never thought that you have the same confusion as me. If only other brothers and sisters could fellowship with us to resolve our confusion.

Seeking the light:

Yeah. I’ve been confused by this question all the time. I once tried to find the answer from some spiritual seniors and books, but in vain.

Turning point in life:

Seeking the light, I had the same confusion before. Fortunately, I have a new understanding of this question through reading a book and listening to a sister’s fellowship. I’d like to share my understanding with you guys.

It is said in the book: “‘Jehovah’ is the name that I took during My work in Israel, and it means the God of the Israelites (God’s chosen people) who can take pity on man, curse man, and guide the life of man. It means the God who possesses great power and is full of wisdom. … The name Jehovah is a particular name for the people of Israel who lived under the law. In each age and each stage of work, My name is not baseless, but holds representative significance: Each name represents one age. ‘Jehovah’ represents the Age of Law, and is the honorific for the God worshiped by the people of Israel” (“The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud’”). “During the Age of Grace, the name of God was Jesus, that is to say, God was a God who saved man, and He was a compassionate and loving God. God was with man. His love, His compassion, and His salvation accompanied each and every person. Only by accepting the name of Jesus and His presence was man able to gain peace and joy, to receive His blessing, His vast and numerous graces, and His salvation. Through the crucifixion of Jesus, all those who followed Him received salvation and were forgiven their sins. During the Age of Grace, Jesus was the name of God. In other words, the work of the Age of Grace was done principally under the name of Jesus” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)”).

Through these words as well as the sister’s fellowship, I came to know that in the Age of Law, God took the name Jehovah, which represents His work in that age. At that time, God used Moses to set forth laws and led the early man to live on earth. Whoever followed the law could receive God’s grace and blessing, while those who broke the law would be burned by heavenly fire, or be stoned to death. So, the Israelites under the law kept it faithfully and honored Jehovah’s name as great. From this, we can see that the name Jehovah represents God’s disposition of majesty, wrath, curse and mercy.

At the end of the Age of Law, man became increasingly corrupt and even began to offer lame sacrifices. As they were unable to keep the law, they were in constant danger of being put to death by the law. God didn’t have the heart to see man being taken captive by Satan, so He began His work of redemption in the name of “Jesus.” He brought the Age of Grace and ended the work of Jehovah in the Age of Law. The Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross and took on our sins, delivering us from sin. Thus, as long as we pray, confess, repent in the name of the Lord Jesus, and act according to His words, we can feel assured and peaceful in our spirit and enjoy the unlimited and inexhaustible grace and blessings given by Him. The name Jesus is a particular name which is used by God in the Age of Grace and it represents His redemptive work and His compassionate and merciful disposition.

It was then that I realized: God’s name existed because of His work of saving mankind. In the course of His work, God gives Himself a name to make man better know Him and receive His salvation. Each time when God carries out a new stage of work, He changes His name and reveals a part of His disposition to man. By continually carrying out new work and adopting new names, God has shown man His almightiness, His wisdom, and His wondrousness and unfathomableness, so that we see that God is not only Jehovah, the God who issued the law to lead man’s life and could have mercy on man and curse man, but He is also the Lord Jesus the Savior, who is full of love and mercy and has redeemed man. No matter how God’s name and His work change, His intention of saving man has never changed.

Smith:

Oh! Thanks to the fellowship of Turning point in life, now I see: The names God takes in different ages have their representative meaning. When we mention the name Jehovah, we know this is a particular name of God in the Age of Law. When mentioning the name Jesus, we know this is the name God took in the Age of Grace. Then we can differentiate two ages by two different names. There is really a mystery in God’s taking different names in different ages.

Seeking the light:

In order to understand the truth about God’s name, I have sought help from many people and read some spiritual books written by great figures, but I failed to find the answer. Thank the Lord for helping me find the answer today. But I have another question here. Since it is recorded in the Bible that the name of Jehovah and the name of Jesus last forever, how should we understand “for ever”?

Turing point in life:

Thank the Lord! About this question, I’d like to share some of my understanding. In fact, “for ever” here means that God’s name in every age will last until His work in that age comes to an end, not that His name will last indefinitely. God does the work of management and salvation of mankind by ages. He is called by one name in each age for the sake of carrying out His work and expressing His disposition in that age, and it is also based on the needs of us corrupt mankind. From this, we can see that God is always new and never old. For example, in the Age of Law, God issued the law, led man to live on earth and made them know what sin was. In the Age of Grace, God didn’t do the same work but redeemed us from Satan’s influence by being nailed to the cross in a holy and sinless flesh, allowed us to repent and confess our sins to Him, and gave us abundant grace and blessings. Each stage of God’s work goes deeper than the last, of which the result is to let us follow God, gain His salvation, and know that He is always new and never old, full of wondrousness and unfathomableness. Meanwhile, God uses each stage of His work to counter our imaginations and definitions of Him, which is really His wisdom.

As a passage of words says: “There are those who say that God is immutable. That is correct, but it refers to the immutability of God’s disposition and His substance. Changes in His name and work do not prove that His substance has altered; in other words, God will always be God, and this will never change. If you say that the work of God is unchanging, then would He be able to finish His six-thousand-year plan of management? You only know that God is forever unchanging, but do you know that God is always new and never old? If the work of God is unchanging, then could He have led mankind all the way to the present day? If God is immutable, then why is it that He has already done the work of two ages? … the words ‘God is immutable’ [refer] to what God inherently has and is. Regardless, you cannot make the work of six thousand years hinge upon a single point, or circumscribe it with dead words. Such is the stupidity of man. God is not as simple as man imagines, and His work cannot linger in any one age. Jehovah, for example, cannot always stand for the name of God; God can also do His work under the name of Jesus. This is a sign that God’s work is always moving in a forward progression” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)”).

From this passage of words, we can see that the words “God is immutable” are in reference to God’s disposition and substance, not to His name. During the course of God’s saving mankind, He does different work and takes different names in different ages, but His substance shall never change, for God will always be God. That is to say, whether God takes the name of “Jehovah” or “Jesus,” His substance never changes, and there is always the same God working. If we deny God’s substance and deny that this is the work of the one God because God changes His name and His work, this is just our absurdity and ignorance. Because the name which God takes in each age is meaningful. It is a great salvation for man.

It is already the last days now and we are eagerly longing for the arrival of the Lord Jesus. However, we can’t define how the Lord Jesus will return, or whether He will return in the name of Jesus or in other names. The Bible says: “Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write on him my new name” (Revelation 3:12). This verse mentions that God will have a new name. Since it is a new name, it won’t still be Jesus. If it were, how could it be a new name? But now I’m still not clear about the truth in this aspect.

Seeking the light:

Thanks be to God! Today, the confusion which has remained in my heart for many years is resolved and I finally know why God changes His name. I also know that though God’s name changes according to the need of His work, His disposition and substance will never change. As for the matter you mentioned that God will take a new name when He returns in the last days, it is indeed worthy of our seeking.

 

» Further reading on Names of God page. Recommended resources:

The Relationship Between God’s Names and His Work of Salvation

Mystery of Revelation: The Lord Jesus’ Name Will Change When He Returns in the Last Days

Why Does God Have Different Names Recorded in the Bible? What Do They Mean?

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