What is in a Name?

By: Alicia Stewart

Recently, three things intersected around one of my favorite entertainers, John Denver. First, there was a Facebook post of a beautiful dirt road with the question: “What song would you listen to on this road?” The number one answer was Country Roads by John Denver. Later, that same day, I happened to see a television program about the life and death of John Denver. The next day, I came across an article about his spiritual life. I had not thought this much about John Denver in years! During the church service on Sunday, I gave this some more thought when Dr. Chris Stevens asked the question: “What is in a name?”

I grew up with the music of John Denver. I become nostalgic when I hear his music today. To me, his music represents a kinder, simpler time of life. The television program talked about what a “good musician” he was. There was discussion about how “inspirational” his lyrics were and what a “good person” he was. The program showed how much he loved adventure and how much he was loved by his fans.

The article on his spiritual life was written by an evangelist who had spent hours talking with him about Christ and salvation. The evangelist stated that Denver understood everything he told him and that he had heard it all before, but that John refused to accept Christ as his Savior. In further discussion, the evangelist said he realized that this was not the first time John Denver had made this decision and asked him when he had decided to reject the Gospel of Christ as part of his life. According to the evangelist, Denver told him that he had a Bible school teacher as a youngster that had told him that Christ was “the way, the truth, and the life.” As a teenager, John decided that there were other ways, truths, and lives. We will never know if John Denver accepted Christ after this encounter. We do know that he endeavored to live a “good” life.

Proverbs tells us that “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” (22:1). The Bible is clear that a good name is important, but it is also clear that your good name alone will not save you for eternity. There is ONLY one name that can save you, the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 4:11–12 says: “This [Jesus] is the Stone which was despised and rejected by you the builders, but which has become the Head of the corner [the Cornerstone]. And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved.” Christ is the one and only name that can save us.

We aspire to many “good” names in our lives, but no matter how many “good” names we achieve we cannot save ourselves. Only Christ can do that. John Denver was known by many “good” names: “musician”, “writer”, “pilot”, “adventurer”, “philanthropist”, “father”, among others. The one name there is no evidence that he was ever known by, the one name that we know would have given him eternal salvation, was “Christian”.

Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.” Forgiveness and salvation may seem impossible, but Matthew 19:26 says: “With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.” So, while we are not able to save ourselves, it is possible with God! The invitation is open to all. Revelation 22:17 states: “The [Holy} Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost.” “Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation (Romans 10:9–10). From this point on there is an unbreakable relationship with God! You can communicate with God and depend upon Him. “Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them: (Hebrews 7:25). This relationship with God, through Christ, is permanent — eternal — it cannot be broken. “For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).

This invitation is open to all and is open to each person until that final breath is taken. This invitation was open to John Denver, though I can find no evidence that he accepted it. He had a “good” name but a good name is not enough.

What is in a name? In the name of Jesus is salvation!


All scripture quotes and references are taken from the Amplified version of the Bible.