Can the Lord Change Your Name?
We should give the Lord
the ground in our being to
change our very identity
It seems to be a principle in the Bible, that the Lord often likes to change the name of those who follow Him most closely.
The Old Testament types illustrate this. Abram (“Exalted Father”) was the very first one God called out of the fallen race to follow Him (Gen. 12:1-3), and is therefore the father of faith (Rom. 4:11,16). God eventually changed his name to “Abraham,” which means “Father of Many” (Gen. 17:5).
Jacob (“Supplanter”) is another example. His entire life is a picture of the Spirit’s transforming work in a believer. After he had wrestled with God, God changed his name to “Israel,” which means “a prince of God” (Gen. 32:27-28).
We see this same principle in the New Testament. Saul (“Desired”) became Paul (“Little”) not long after he and Barnabas were sent out by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:9).
We especially see this in the New Testament, however, with the Twelve Apostles. In our previous Note (“His Closest Followers”) we considered how, among all those who followed the Lord when He was on the earth, including the other apostles, Peter, James, and John were the most intimate with Him. When the Lord raised the dead girl, or was transfigured on the mountain, or prayed in the garden, these were the only three He brought with Him (Mark 5:37; Matt. 17:1-2, 26:36-37).
It is a striking fact that, among all those who were with the Lord, it was these same three, and only these three, who had their names changed by the Lord.
This is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, which often gives us details the other Gospels omit. He tells us:
Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach: Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; [and] James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder.”
— Mark 3:16-17
By calling James and John, “the Sons of Thunder,” the Lord was showing them who they were in themselves. By calling Simon, “Peter,” which means, “a Stone,” He was unveiling the goal of a believer’s salvation, i.e., that we would become stones for God’s building. In each case, however, the Lord was changing their identity, because our name equals our identity; it is how we see ourselves, and how others see us as well.
And this is why, among all those who were with the Lord, these three were the most intimate with Him: because the Lord had the ground with them to change their name, their very identity.
In the same way, if we desire to follow the Lord in the closest way today, and to have the deepest relationship with Him, we must, like them, give the Lord the ground within us to change how we identify ourselves.
It is one thing to do some work for God. That may be very good, but it is a much deeper matter to allow God to do a work within us that makes us a different person, a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Specifically, we must allow Him, first, to show us who we really are in ourselves, and then to practically bring us into the entirely new identity we have in Him.
Does the Lord have the ground within you to change your name? Can He change the very way you identify yourself, and how others see you as well? This happens as we come to the Lord to spend time with Him, and as we allow Him to deal with us. This is, in fact, the practical experience of transformation (2 Cor. 3:18), which will eventually make us all, like Peter, the living stones for God’s building (1 Pet. 2:4-5).
The Lord promises the overcomers in Revelation:
“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
— Revelation 2:17
May we give the Lord all the ground in our being, as did Peter and James and John, to bring us into this experience even today, to make us His closest followers in our own time!
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Whom Jesus Loved”
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— 23 November 2021 —