What’s in a Name?
Names mean something. My wife and I have four children and we took great care in the names we gave our children. This is what they would be known by for the rest of their lives and, in some ways, would come to define them. We wanted their names to be unique but not weird, timeless but not “old,” and be significant for both us and them. People, and churches, have all kinds of reasons for the names they choose. Likewise, Covenant Grace Church was chosen for this plant for some specific reasons and we hope it comes to define who we are. So, what’s in a name?
This is a word that‘s fallen out of common usage but has some very important meanings for our day. A covenant is “a guaranteed commitment”* and we see this term throughout the Bible. We chose this as our name for a few reasons:
- As believers we are partakers of the New Covenant and united with Christ. Jesus established a New Covenant, fulfilling all of Scripture, in his blood. He took the penalty of the Old Covenant and fulfilled the law’s commands. So, by faith in Christ, we receive all the blessings of this New Covenant. This is the gospel and this is the center of everything we are as a church.
- We hold to a covenantal view of the Bible’s narrative or story. We believe the Bible is structured along the covenants God made with his people and this informs how we understand God and man. There has always been one way of salvation for all people and for all time and that is by faith in the promised Savior, Jesus Christ, and this is revealed progressively through God’s covenants.
- And as a church, we are covenanted together and members of one body, of each other. We take the “one another’s” of the Bible seriously and believe we belong to one another in Christ. We are each members of his body. We express this by committing to one another that we believe the gospel as revealed in the Bible and the Bible alone, and that we will seek to serve one another and submit to one another. We are one family in Christ and so we want to live life together.
Grace is at the center of our name and we want grace to be the center of our church. Grace may be one of the most misunderstood words in our culture today. Grace is kindness toward the undeserving. In a cancel culture what could be more outrageous than being kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it? In a state defined by “after all we can do” what is more important than being told we get what we DON’T deserve? The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that those condemned under the law can be saved by the undeserved kindness of God alone through faith alone. Grace is central to our theology and our practice. If we believe in grace but don’t practice it, then we are the worst of hypocrites. And so we believe:
- We are saved by grace
- We covenant together under grace
- We love one another with grace
- We preach grace
- We grow by grace
- We go out to share God’s grace
What does it mean to be a church. The word itself means “called out ones.” Sometimes we think of the church as an organization with a corporate structure or a lifeless building. But God defines his church in more organic terms. It is a flock of sheep, branches on a vine, living stones, a chosen and royal priesthood, the body of Christ. There is nothing more important on earth than the church of the Living God. Nothing will last beyond death and enter into heaven except for God’s Word and God’s Church. And so we believe:
- We have been called out and set apart for the glory of God’s name
- We are the body of Christ and not a building or organization and we join together in a local assembly of believers under Jesus as our head.
- We build up one another by speaking the truth in love
- We possess the keys of the kingdom to loose and bind on earth and express them through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
So what’s in a name? The very essence of what we hope Covenant Grace Church will be in theology and practice. We are united to Christ, saved by his grace, and joined together as one body under Jesus. We make disciples to the glory of God by seeing Jesus and making him known.
*Samuel Renihan, The Mystery of Christ, 40