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Spiritual Outlook: What’s in a name?

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“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

What’s in a name? Our names are an incredibly important part of our identity. They carry deep personal, cultural, familial and historical connections. They also give us a sense of who we are, the communities in which we belong and our place in the world.

Names matter. A name, or identity, is a powerful thing. It is a descriptor that allows people to make quick judgments and assumptions about us. Calling someone properly by their name — especially when that name is not very familiar to your ears — is an act of recognizing the uniqueness of each individual and respecting their personal stories.

Naming in African culture is significant. Names give the newborn baby an identity, indicates that the child is an accepted society member and also shows gratitude to God for the blessing of the birth of that child.

Isaiah chapter 9 begins with the description of Jesus as a “Hope for Israel” (David Guzik Commentary). There is joy in the Messiah’s deliverance and victory. There is glory upon the Messiah who will reign. Isaiah 9:6 tells us some of the names of Jesus.

These names are important because they describe the character of Christ. They describe who he is and what he has come to do. The Prophet Isaiah made a glorious proclamation: “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The Messiah is our wonderful counselor. The glory of who he is and what he has done for us should fill us with wonder. You can never really look at Jesus, really know him and be bored. He is wonderful and will fill your heart and mind with amazement. The Messiah is our counselor: Jesus is the one fit to guide our lives and should be the Christian’s immediate resource as a counselor. Jesus can help us with our problems.

The Messiah is our mighty God. This means God is the God of all creation and glory, the Lord who reigns in heaven, the one worthy of our worship and praise. The Messiah is the Everlasting Father. The idea in these Hebrew words is that Jesus is the source or author of all eternity, that he is the creator himself. Finally, the Messiah is our prince of peace. He is the one who makes peace, especially between God and humans.

What’s in a name? The great theologian Calvin sums it up best: “Whenever it appears to us that everything is in a ruinous condition, let us recall to our remembrance that Christ is called wonderful. When we need counsel, let us remember that he is the counselor. When we need strength, let us remember that he is mighty and strong. When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is the prince of peace, and that it is easy for him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings.

These titles confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ and fortify us against Satan and against hell itself.”

Dr. Preston T. Adams III is senior pastor at Amazing Grace Christian Church in Indianapolis. Contact Pastor Adams via email at seniorpastor@agccindy.org or via Twitter @DrPrestonTAdams. For more information, visit agccindy.org.

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