Another Jesus ~ Another Gospel
The Sacred Names Heresy
By: Bruce D. Curtis, MA, M.Div. ©2017
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You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being examined today about a kind service to a man who was lame, to determine how he was healed, then let this be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. And there is not salvation in any other; for neither is there another name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:8-11, 12, emphasis added)
I manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest Me out of the world. (John 17:6)
For Those Who Seek Hebraic Roots
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At the outset, it should be noted that the reverence for the name of God is so central to honoring the Majesty that the violation of a number of the commandments is equated with a profanation of God’s name. The intention of this writing is not to diminish this reverence but to deepen it by cautioning against making an idol of the name.
But how can it be possible to make an idol of God’s name? Idolatry is the essence of profaning the divine name, and is the sin about which God is most jealous. Idolatry was, after all, the charge against Israel, the kingdom of the north, which led to the Lord’s divorce of that people.
The essence of this problem for many sects within modern Christendom lies in the ignorance regarding the truth of what a name actually is. Without that spiritual knowledge a name can be reduced to a label, tag, or identifier, which then can become a graven image which actually replaces the reality and can be an idol.
This has actually happened in the case of scripture which has been turned by many into an idol, when the written word is only an engraving of truth, but cannot be truth itself. Jesus is the Living Word; in His own words: “I Am Truth.” How can a piece of matter be the infallible word of God? It remains a testimony, composed of two testaments, a testimony to the Living Word, the Logos of God, I Am that I Am (Ex. 3:15).
If one comes to the scripture expecting salvation, then one is confronted with the existential dilemma that Jesus presented to the Pharisees; reminding them that the scriptures only bear witness to Him, who IS eternal Life. One must come to Christ Jesus if they would have eternal life.
It is precisely the same with the name of God. If calling on the name of God were simply a matter of expressing breath through a certain shaping of the lips, then it would be another external, and lacking in the underlying spiritual reality that brings deliverance. It would take the saving grace of the once-for-all-time sacrifice of Christ (Heb.9-13) and make it conditional upon the one naming Christ properly. In a word, it would make the name of God an object of a ‘name it and claim it’ salvation scheme. It cannot be that for it is spiritual, as the Law is spiritual.
After all, didn’t Paul write: “For we know that the Law is spiritual.” (Ro 7:14) The inexorable conclusion is that calling upon the name must be a spiritual exercise, reaching out in reverence to Him who is the name of God. And in this case we are compelled to understand that a name in the Hebraic understanding is not a name in the Greco-Roman worldview. And that makes all the difference in the world. For those who make ‘the name’ an object rather than a subject, they have wedded Hebrew words to Greek thought-forms; that is, they exhibit a Greco-Roman mindset which does not comprehend spiritual realities but only name tags and labels.
Without the consciousness of what a name truly is, it becomes impossible not to violate the 3rd commandment, for it is vain to take up the name of God as if it were a tag, a label, or a simple designator for a divine reality.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways My ways,” declares YHWH.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 56:8-9)
In short, if you would seek to know God you must understand His thoughts and not try to grasp them within a human framework.
The words of Jesus in John in the very short header quote above remain an enigma within Christendom. Without a deep and abiding love for the truth, there is no quest for what Jesus meant by this profound statement about manifesting God’s name. Have you ever heard anyone expound upon this statement in a meaningful way? The usual fare is that He revealed the name of God as YHWH. Really? Like that was unknown to the Pharisees and Sadducees? What a preposterous assertion.
From the perspective of Christ’s words, the name can only refer to the reality, the glory, the splendor, of something that cannot be named in earthly words, by the language of physical things. This should be known, and we can recover it by returning to the meaning of the Hebrew word Shem which Moses used to identify ‘name.’ According to Fabre D’Olivet in his unparalleled treatise on the Hebrew language, The Hebraic Tongue Restored (pp. 170, 461), Shem refers to anything which is the sublime the splendid, the radiant. “The name of every being, the sign which renders it knowable; that which constitutes it such: a place, a time, the universe, the heavens, God Himself: glory, éclat, splendor, fame, virtue; that which rises and shines in space; which is distinguished, sublime, remarkable.”
This understanding conveys exactly what Christ said (John 17:6), namely that he manifested the glory, the splendor, the virtue, even the reality of God Himself. And isn’t this precisely the message which was written to the Hebrews,
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature . . . (Heb. 1:3)
He is the glory and splendor of God; He is the very expression and manifestation of the Name.
So what is the name of God, really? Wouldn’t God simply disclose what He means? Doesn’t He simply say what He means and mean what He says? Indeed, He does. In the prophet Isaiah, God discloses the deeper essence of what He means when He talks about His name.
Behold, the name of YHWH comes from a distant place,
Burning is His anger, and dense His smoke;
His lips are filled with indignation,
And His tongue is like a consuming fire;
And His breath <ruach> is like an overflowing torrent,
That reaches to the neck,
To shake the nations back and forth in a sifting of the worthless,
And to put in the jaws of the peoples the bridle which misleads.
You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival;
And gladness of heart as when one marches to the flute,
To go to the mountain of YHWH, to the Rock of Israel.
And YHWH will cause the majesty of His voice to be heard,
And the descent of His arm to be seen in fierce anger,
And the flame of a consuming fire,
In cloudburst, downpour, and hailstones.
For at the voice of YHWH Assyria will be terrified,
When He strikes with the rod.
And every rod of punishment that shall pass,
Which YHWH will lay on him,
Will be with tambourines and lyres;
And in battles, brandishing weapons, He will fight them.
For Topheth has long been ready,
Indeed, it has been prepared for the king.
He has made it deep and large, a pyre of fire with much wood,
The breath of YHWH, like a torrent of brimstone, sets it afire.
Isaiah 30:27-33 (emphasis added)
What a definitive statement that links so many epithets for the Logos, the Word of YHWH that appeared to the prophets and spoke with them (cf. 1 Pe 1:11), one who was known as the “Rock of Israel,” “His arm,” “the king,” and in the first place: “the name of YHWH.” Truly, Christ Jesus is the King and He is also the name of YHWH as He confessed in prayer before His disciples (Jn 17). This eschatological passage in Isaiah can refer to none other than “the day of the Lord” when He will come with a consuming fire and destroy His enemies with the breath of His mouth, and here “a tongue like a consuming fire” (cf. 2 Thess 2:8). ‘Assyria’ or ‘the Assyrian’ are to be destroyed in the great day of vengeance, by “the breath of His mouth,” seen both here and in the second epistle to the Thessalonians.
This is a description of Christ like Revelation 19, destroying His enemies with the breath of His mouth, tossing them into the lake of fire, and fire and brimstone coming down.
How clear and how simple, and why is it beyond the ken of the average seeker? Jesus is “the name of YHWH,” and He comes from a distant place, namely Heaven. Now let’s reason together, if Jesus is the actual name of God, then the actual name of Jesus is not Yeshua, nor Jesus either. In fact, Rev. 19:12 reminds disciples “He has a name written which no one knows except Himself.” So: why all the arguments over how to pronounce the name of the Messiah?
Isn’t that blaspheming Him by reducing Him to a mere movement of breath across the lips? Isn’t that extremely reductionistic, reducing the spiritual reality of faith in His name, to the use of the proper physical name? If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8), then the names Immanuel, Yeshua, Jesus, Yehoshua, and Yashua, just to name a few, are not what is meant by the name.
And this just leads us to another mystery about the name in prayer Jesus gave in Matthew which has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer. What can it mean to say ‘let thy name be sanctified?’ The name of God is sacred so isn’t that naturally a statement to say that the name of Jesus Christ needs to be sanctified in us? And if it is sanctified in us, then it is a spiritual things and not the physical thing which can be pronounced. Now let the Name be sanctified in you, in your heart, not on your unclean lips. And just to show how the Name in the prayer = Christ, just read the words of the apostle Peter: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” (1 Pet. 3:15), and you can see that the Name being sanctified in us is the sanctification of Christ Jesus as Lord in our hearts.
Sacred Name Fellowships
All of this crazy talk –arguing Yeshua vs. Jesus – really amounts to violation of the third commandment rather than support of it under the claim of honoring a sacred name. Pronouncing one version of the name over another isn’t holding the name holy, it is profaning it, because it is vain to glorify something that is not the reality. Just as glorifying pictures or statues is idolatry since they are not the reality but a creation, so is taking a creation, like the expression of breath, to be the underlying reality to which it is meant to bear witness. We ought not take the physical expression for reality. That is why Exodus 3:15 delineates the name and the memorial, i.e. the reality and the marker.
You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain, for YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
. . . to minister to Him and to love the name of YHWH (Isaiah 56:6).
This is especially evident in the last quote from Isaiah which links the name to the Sabbath, which is our sanctification, and our love for the Logos, aka the name of YHWH, by keeping His day Holy. If we love Christ, the name of YHWH, then we will be sanctified by honoring the Lord of the Sabbath, to take delight in His holy day.
All of this makes the Sacred Name craze better termed the Sacred Name Heresy, a well-earned title which many have used who are knowledgeable in the Law, or Torah, also ‘the teaching,’ of God. For those who are not sent by Christ to teach, we see that this results in the kind of disputation that the King James translators called “vain jangling,” and I would call vain or fruitless talk (1 Tim. 1:6). A little further down we will return to this particular text to look at how the teaching of Torah gets distorted. But some folks want to teach when they should not, and that is idolatry.
Such folks need to understand that they ought to follow the example of Paul, and should not go beyond what is written – (1 Cor. 4:12). This, too, is scripture. When John writes, “little children, stay away from idols,” wouldn’t it apply to just this type of situation? Turning the name of God into an idol, looking to ‘it’ rather than to Him?
There is confusion there, and those believers base far too much on just a few scriptures, and those are twisted beyond all recognition. The literal and reductionistic reading of Joel 2:28 is a foundation for their structure. “And everyone who calls upon the name of YHWH will be delivered.” Not to be tediously redundant, but we have seen WHO is the name of YHWH. And secondly, calling is done by the heart and not the lips, else it is lip service and not heartfelt refuge in the Lord of all the earth.
Another scripture that Sacred Names fellowships have butchered is the famous quote from Zephaniah.
For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord. (Zeph. 3:9)
It is not a purified language; it is not some halcyon age Hebrew which they think will magically arise out of the bastardized Hebrew being used by them today. The end of the teaching is love out of a pure heart and a clean conscience. Avoiding the English form of the Savior’s name, Jesus, will not do a thing for a person. It is superstition, and it leads to the renunciation of the Savior and His full satisfaction of all that was prophesied about Him (Luke 18:31).
The Denial of Jesus Christ Come in the Flesh
How does a requirement to use the name Yeshua imply another Jesus, another gospel? After all, by logical reasoning, isn’t it simply honoring the true name of God, who came in the flesh? Actually, making the pronunciation of His name in any way critical to faith or salvation is to demean what He accomplished on the torture stake. It is to crucify Him all over again. It is to take away His saving Grace and power and to put it on the lips of the saved.
Let’s look at this question more closely because it is a grave issue that is more dangerous for those who claim the knowledge than for those who don’t. When I called it crazy talk above, I was really paraphrasing the apostle Paul and his use of the word mataiologia, which means ‘empty, fruitless talk’ and the King James translators rendered as it “vain jangling.” It is powerless, and lacking in truth. Let us look at that word in context, and then apply it to the situation of the name of Christ Jesus.
Now the goal of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith, from which some, missing aim, have turned aside to empty, fruitless talk <mataiologion>. Wishing to be teachers of law <nomodidaskoloi>, not understanding either what they say nor concerning those things which they emphatically assert. Now we know that the law is good, if anyone uses it lawfully. Knowing this, that the law is not laid down for a just man, but for lawless men and the unruly. (1 Tim 1:5-9a)
Going into the specifics here, the goal of the commandment on the name of God is love, both for God and for our neighbor. The third commandment is intended to teach us about reverence for God and for honoring Him as we should. So the Name is a spiritual reality as God is a spiritual reality, and to take up some pronunciation with unpurified lips as if it were some kind of holy relic is idolatry pure and simple. And all teaching and conversation about this is just idle chatter, a waste of time, completely fruitless, empty and vain. In short, it is a violation of this commandment as well as the second commandment as well as the first commandment. And if we add the first Great Commandment, to Love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, then it is a grand slam Sin – a four-bagger.
But it is really much worse than that, because it exposes a betrayal of the Savior Himself, and the loss of the entire New Testament. Either Jesus Christ is the Savior or He isn’t. He either sent the apostles or He didn’t, empowering them and authorizing them to go to make disciples of all nations. If He did then He knew they would need Greek to reach the major civilized world. And so the apostles wrote in Greek, to Jews in the diaspora and Greek converts from paganism. Yes, they wrote in Greek. And yes, Jesus knew His name in Greek since it was used in the Septuagint, and no doubt He shopped in Capernaum and other major gentile areas where the marketplace likely conducted business in Greek. If Jesus did not commission the apostles to write to the nations, why did Peter call Paul’s writings scripture? (2 Pet. 3:16)
Were the apostles Peter, Paul, John, James, Matthew, and other followers of the disciples all misled and sinning by using the name of Jesus? C’mon folks, this is some absurd “fruitless talk” of the adversary which would make Jesus an ignorant fool rather than the omniscient Lord, creator of heaven and earth, who sent out His bond-servants to the nations to make disciples, speaking His name in Greek [Iesou], or German [Jesu] or English [Jesus]. Why make ‘Yeshua’ into a talisman? Isn’t that the ultimate slap in the face to the Lord? Don’t you think our glorious Lord might have mentioned to one of them: oh yeah, please remind those who seek for me that they have to use my earthly name Yeshua, or else. No, not one of the apostles mentioned this, so it adds to the word as Paul and Apollos were loath to do (1 Cor 4:6, cf. Deut 4:2, 12:32).
Shakespeare revealed the relativity of human language and the convention of names in a physical sense when Juliet said to Romeo: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, scene ii) It is the substance of the thing that is its spiritual nature and content. If the salvation of Jesus Christ comes down to proper pronunciation of some exotic form of His earthly name – never mind the fact that He has a new name which no one knows but He Himself – then why should He have suffered on the torture stake? He could have told the prophets the secret knowledge and all would be saved. This is so much of the spirit of antichrist because it basically says that Jesus did NOT accomplish salvation on Calvary. Then we are all in trouble. On the other hand, if it is “merely” smug superiority on the part of such “Jewish-Christian gnostics” who claim Yeshua is theirs, then it is idolatry, for they put the traditions of men above the word of God. For we are of the opinion that Peter, in addressing the religious leaders in Jerusalem (Acts 5:29) “We must obey God rather than men.” And there is nothing in the teachings from God that tell us we must use certain names as if they were magical formulae.
Moreover, if Jesus did not seal up the testimony by His disciples (see Isaiah 8:16), concluding the canon with these Hebrews who learned Greek so they could go out to the world, then He is not the Savior of Isaiah’s scroll, the One who would come to have disciples. And if the words of the apostle John are not scripture, then his gospel is not the word of God and the words of Jesus are not the words of the Logos, and therefore Jesus Christ did NOT come in the flesh. Q.E.D.
This, as John wrote in His first epistle is the spirit of antichrist. And in this way, the whole Sacred Names community serves the agenda and teaching of the adversary.
They are really close cousins with the Hebraic Roots groups, and most often the same people and congregations. The roots of our faith are not in Hebrew teaching – though faith cometh by hearing the Word, i.e. hearing the Logos – so they are in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the holy root (Rom. 11:16), the root of Jesse (Rom. 15:12, Isa. 11:10), and the root of David (Rev. 5:5). As Paul wrote to the Romans, Christ is the end [goal] of the Law. As the One who issued the Law and Teaching to Moses, He – Christ, the Logos – precedes the entire nation. As the vine of whom we are the branches (John 15:1-5), it is simply arrogant Jewish racism and hegemonism to try to govern those who are in the congregation of God using worn out teachings of the Babylonian Talmud that assert that Jews have to be in charge. It is leaven of the Pharisees – nothing more, nothing less.
And these folks, whole busloads of them, claim to be teachers of the law and are bringing forth volumes of “fruitless talk,” putting up millions of web pages of destructive material that are composed of death-dealing heresies, leading to destruction anyone who will eat of their foods sacrificed to demons. They are not called and chosen to do so.
In the end you will see as this Hebraic Roots/Sacred Names faction – funded and supervised, I suspect, by the Jewish rabbinate – helps to cause the complete erosion of the New Testament, complete with supercilious translation and fruitless talk, and the eventual repudiation of the one who purchased us all from sin and death, namely the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, the Word of God – LOGOS THEOU.
And please note that the Old Testament will disappear along with it, since they are inextricably intertwined. Are we sanctified by the name of Yeshua, or by the Sabbath? If by the name you mean the Lord Himself, then YES. Just consult Exodus 13:31 – “This is the sign between me and you that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” Not keeping the Sabbath profanes the Name, not the utterance of some variant of the name of God that is presumed profane. For the sake of hitting home the point, not just to be redundant, the use of a variant that is of questionable antiquity is again another bit of vain name-taking. He has perfected those who are being sanctified. (cf. Heb 10:12, 12:14)
And what shall one say about all the different versions of YahHuShua, Yehoshua, Yahshua? Where will it end? Which of the many groups is correct? Is not the existence of all of them competing for the earliest and “most authentic” pronunciation simply the most empty-headed activity that is advocated by wannabe teachers of the law, known in Greek as nomodidaskoloi? These people need to hear the voice of the Logos and stop pretending He has sent them to teach. He absolutely did NOT. And if they say He did, then they lie, and bear false witness against their Lord. And this violates more than 4 commandments. It is grave Sin.
What can we conclude about these so-called ministers, rabbis, prophets, and teachers of the word? One thing: they are not sent by God, but are servants of the adversary. No teacher from God has taught any such things.
Can it really be a teaching of the anti-Christ, even a doctrine of demons, to make it a commandment to call specifically upon the name ‘Yeshua?’ In all fairness, this is the truth of the matter. It is a return to the magic of Egypt when the names of gods were called upon to receive benefits. Jeremiah 44 recounts the Lord’s teaching on this as the sons of Israel were on their rooftops calling on the host of heaven. There is no magic in the name of Christ Jesus if it is a mere matter of pronunciation.
But there is power in the “Name of Jesus Christ” which is linguistic icon or symbol that refers to a spiritual reality, the Spirit of Christ, by which mountains move. And the power is linked to the spiritual reality we call faith. In fact, as Paul wrote to Timothy in the scripture cited above, it requires love out of a clean heart, a pure conscience, and an unfeigned faith. That is the telos, the end or goal of the commandment.
It is time for Christians to come out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1) and turn to Christ and the Father with love and faith; to take refuge in the reality of their being, not in some Hebrew linguistic icon, that is not a purified language, and it is certainly not spoken through purified lips. Purified lips will be when YHWH has washed the filth from the daughters of Zion (Isaiah 4:4).
Conclusions: The Spirit of Anti-Christ?
In conclusion, would it be fair to say that it is the spirit of anti-Christ to require a calling upon the name ‘Yeshua’ rather than the name ‘Jesus?’ This certainly smacks of “another Jesus, and another gospel.” And it says that His saving sacrifice was not complete but rather than being obedient and receiving His covering and the Holy Spirit which God gives to those who obey (Acts 5:32), simply say “Yeshua” and you are in the elite class of the cognoscenti who have “the true knowledge of the Lord. Now isn’t that a good and easy alternative to following Christ and keeping His words, viz. all of them?
When we pray that Our Father’s Name be sanctified, knowing as we have seen above that Christ is that Name, then we have to be praying that He is sanctified in us, which is the coming of the kingdom of Heaven which is within, and allows His will to be done in us on earth as it is in Heaven. To require some fleshly act of language is to deny the words of Christ who said that flesh and blood avails nothing (John 6).
The Jesus we profess has declared through Paul that we are saved by grace through faith; “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 7:23)
When Paul used this name ‘Jesus,’ while speaking to the gentile world, wouldn’t it have been easy to recommend the Hebrew? After all he wrote to the Galatians (4:6) and Romans (8:15) that the Spirit in us cries out Abba! If Christ had really wanted us to use His name in Hebrew, He simply could have inspired one of the apostles to mention it in the way that Paul referred to the Father with the intimate Hebrew word signifying ‘Dad.’ But He didn’t, and neither did any of the apostles – the ones who sealed the law and the testimony – think it important to lay down such a commandment.
It is time for Christians to grow up and seek the hidden manna which Christ Jesus has promised (Rev. 2:17) to those of Pergamum, if they would repent and not eat the things sacrificed to idols.
And here is the inner teaching on all of that and what truly makes this Sacred Name Heresy part of the false prophecy of Balaam who tried to get Israel to eat foods sacrificed to idols. This nonsense is precisely the same kind of thing, offered by false prophets for hire, who are paid to derail the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and get them to eat these false foods. Give up the ‘Name Game’ and get with the Living Christ who is the Living Manna – eat His flesh and drink His blood for that is true food and true drink (John 6). This is the spiritual action faithful disciples need to take.
Now it is those of Judaism trying to dictate to the sheep of Christ how they should worship, and now the little ones are enslaving themselves and corrupting their temples with the leaven of false teaching which corrupts. And Hebraic Roots practitioners are only too happy to receive the recommendation of Balaam and to eat this food sacrificed to idols, this food which is of the spirit of antichrist. Otherwise, when He comes to make war with the enemies of the Heavenly Jerusalem, He will also make war with them with the sword of His mouth (Rev. 2:17).
Anytime you are tempted to feel compelled to use a specific name of the Messiah as ‘The Name,” just remember the words in Revelation: “And He has a name written which no one knows except Himself. . . . And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. (Rev. 19:12-13) If He has a name which He alone knows, why are we arguing over pronunciation? Call Him the Word.
He is the Logos, and He was known to the congregations of God in Revelation – the ones He chose and said He walked in their midst – as Iesous, and that comes down into English as Jesus. That should be good enough and the testimony to it is the simple fact that can be confirmed anywhere in the world. Just utter the name ‘Jesus,’ the English variant, and it will quickly prove that everyone in the world will know of whom you speak.
But Peter prophesied about this kind of teaching that would lead to destruction.
But there were false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their licentiousness, through whom the way of the truth [aka Jesus Christ] will be blasphemed. (2 Pet. 2:1-2)
The evidence of that destruction is everywhere around us, where we see the stones of the Heavenly Jerusalem burnt and lying asunder. Repent of these false foods and seek the heart of the Lord, the Living Logos, and He will give you of His hidden manna, and of the drink of His Spirit, the blessed cup of the New Covenant, so you may grow in Him.