Lately I’ve been reading, and studying and watching videos on how to diligently present the gospel to people who believe in other gods or don’t believe at all. However, I just came across a relative who believes that unless you call God YHWH, and Jesus Yahoshua (by their proper names), you will not be heard by the one true Elohim or be saved at all. This person states that the word God comes from Zeus, and the Jesus is not the real name of the Son, referencing Exodus 3:15 and Romans 10:13, and also stating that proper names can not be translated from the original language into other languages. I’ve done my due diligence in providing biblical proof and support on the topic, but the person has gotten to the point where he believes we are all going to be killed by the pagan gods we invoke when we refer to God as God and to Jesus as Jesus. Your thoughts and input will be greatly appreciated.
@Nancy_Artur, I had never heard about the connection between Zeus and Jesus and so found your concern below interesting and had to look it up.
The article below I think addresses the first part of your question about how the misinterpretation of God as Zeus came about. The article explains how this is a misleading teaching that strings commonalities between words without any good reason to invent the idea.
Secondly, I dont see any reason why the name of Jesus should not be translated into another language, as the name of Jesus as given in Matt 1:21 basically means the “The Lord Saves” or “The Lord Is Salvation" Anyone in any language should be free to declare that. The literal translation in English of the Hebrew word for Jesus is actually Joshua and that of Greek is Jesus but that doesn’t change the meaning.
Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
In fact, the new testament boldly declares that the name of Jesus will be worshipped by every tongue, tribe and nation just as in the day of Pentecost. Below are few verses in support of this idea.
Phil 2:9-11 - God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Acts 2:11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.
Tongue in these verses above means “language”. The verse in Revelation refers to Jesus as “Lamb” and refers to the Lamb as the Lord who brings salvation. This would suggest what’s most important in worship is ‘whom’ we are referring to by the name we use i.e Are we referring to the identity of God who made salvation possible in Jesus? Its important to remember that there is no magical power in repeating the name of Jesus and we are warned against it ( Matt 6:7). Praying in Jesus name is basically acknowledging that we come to God not by our righteousness but by what Jesus accomplished in His righteousness and presenting requests under Jesus’ authority.
Finally, God of the OT reveals Himself as “I Am” to Moses in Ex 3:13-14 and Jesus claims worship as God by saying " before Abraham was “I Am” in John 8:58. Also both in the OT and in the NT, God/ Jesus are referred to by many names which describe the different aspects of God’s nature. Ex. In the OT, God is referred to as Elohim, YHWH, Adonai etc. and Jesus in NT is referred to as the Lamb, Immanuel, the bread of life etc. So, the Bible allows many ways of addressing God as long as we identify God by His works and His nature as revealed in His word. When we call to God by one of the names in the Bible, it’s about placing trust according to the name in that specific attribute of God, which provides us comfort as it may speak into our specific need.
I hope some of this information will be useful in addressing your question to your relative. Look forward to your comments and insights from others on this topic as well.
Hi Nancy, I also was asked this question once and I think it’s one we need to dive into.
Lakshmi aleady gave you some good biblical points. Here are my thoughts on it.
I understand the confusion around it very good. This is the idea behind this question:
The gospel has been corrupted and can’t be trusted.
When it comes to Jesus, your friend isn’t using his right name either. When the angel comes to Mary, he tells her to call the child Yeshua. So if he insists in calling him by his real name, that one would be it. Yeshua is a simplified form of the name Yahoshua.
When it comes to god, who tells him to YHWH is the one name he should use? If you look into the bible, nobody used that name because of its holiness. They found ways to call on their god without using his holy name and it was totally fine. God reveals himself as Elohim, El Elyon, El Shaddai, Adonai, Jehova, etc. So there clearly are different names of god that represent different aspects of his character, as every name has his very special meaning.
So, when it comes to Jesus, I understand why his name has been translated into Greek. Although I’m more on the side of calling him by his birth name Yeshua. If I understand it right, they translated his name to make it easier to spread the word in Greece, which was one hotspot of civilization at that time. Today, we don’t need that anymore as the gospel spreat around the world. That’s why, in my opinion, you can go back to his real name. However, you don’t have to, as everybody knows who you mean: and sure god knows.
@Nancy_Artur Thank you for that question. @Lakshmismehta alright provided great Biblical evidence and a response to the argument about God’s name, so I would simply like to ask a few questions about your relative.
Does your relative have any other strange beliefs such as this one? Are they prone to believing conspiracy theories or tall tales?
Is your relative a member of a Bible believing Church? Have they brought up this issue with their small group leader or pastor? How did that person respond?
Is there someone they trust at Church or a friend who would be able to help them work through this issue more successfully?
How did your relative respond to the truths you have already offered them? Are they generally responsive to wise words from you / others in your family?
Sometimes a person has deeper issues that need to be dealt with before they can resolve a belief such as this one, which is why I am asking some of these questions. It sounds like you have tried to speak with them and yet they have rejected the evidence you offered. I am curious as to the ‘how come’ or ‘why’ behind their rejection. Is this the right time to address this issue? Or are there deeper underlying issues?
The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom and your relative understanding as you engage with them.
I would like to add to the great answers that have already been offered.
This is from a discussion about the Trinity. I posted it as participant in the RZIM module “Doctrine”. Hope this gives you something to take back to your friend not to beat them up but to think about.
The Names of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Thinking about the Trinity and how Augustine said that the language of the scripture demands a name for the unique relationship that was evident in the scriptures. Now we have a name and we still can’t explain the relationship. The Bible is full of names. Names for God. Names for Jesus. Names for the Holy Spirit. Hebrew names, Greek names and Aramaic names. God has 66 names in the Bible, 43 Hebrew, 19 Greek, and 4 Aramaic. Jesus has 30 Greek names the Holy Spirit has 7 Greek names and 1 Hebrew.
When the inspired writers of the scripture use different names for God it is to commemorate something that God did to demonstrate to his people and human kind in general His power, provision, faithfulness, holiness, protection and more things than I can think of. The second reason was to point out attribute that are common only to God. The same things can be said about the names used for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I say this not to challenge the Trinity but to hopeful equip the saint to better answer the question “How do explain the trinity”. It looks like the Bible has at least 107 examples.
First and foremost thanks for taking the time to dive deep and provide me with great evidence to support your response from a biblical and reasonable standpoint.
I’ve walked through the Bible on most of the verses you quote, and have used different reliable Bible versions as well as concordances, dictionaries, etc.
His main claim is that the creator revailled His name in Exodus 3:15 as YHWH (original translation from Hebrew), and that if that is his proper name, we should be calling him by that, and no other names. What he does not seem to grasp is that God is not a proper name (or replacement of his proper name), is a noun that implies deity (most accurate translation for Elohim), and that it is not the same as Zeus, as he claims (they follow a letter by letter translation of the word Deus, or Theos). Additionally, he states that Jesus’ proper name is also Hebrew, not English, not Latin, not Greek, etc., and with that said, when we call upon the name of Jesus (or any other translation of the proper name) we are calling into someone else’s name and not the Son’s, and therefor, our faith is ineffective because only in the name of Yahoshua we can be saved. On the other hand, they claim that Jesus is a pagan name, and we all are going to get killed by that “person” when he comes.
It’s very difficult for me to go deeper when even given all the facts and Bible verses to support my claim, he insists in that other “Christian” denominations call on to God and Jesus and yet believe completely different things one from the other, and that is why only the ones who believe in the true name will be saved.
Thanks for taking the time to look into my question, your prayers will be also greatly appreciated.
I hope you’re doing great and thanks for taking the time to look into my question.
My answers to your questions below:
Does your relative have any other strange beliefs such as this one? Are they prone to believing conspiracy theories or tall tales? - Most definitely, I would not be able to get into detail about exact things he believes, but I’ve heard him speak about conspiracy theories many many times.
Is your relative a member of a Bible believing Church? Have they brought up this issue with their small group leader or pastor? How did that person respond? - He has gone from one place to the other in search for truth. He has been going deeper on this sacred name belief for about 7 or 8 years now, but lately, he does not belong to any church (he believes in the Bible - adjusted - however, he states that Christianity is a joke as we lead people to believe in the wrong Father and Son, because we have been deceived by the devil and the true names were changed so that people would call onto pagan deities instead of the one true YHWH and Yahoshua the Son. He has a very close friend (mentor and “pastor”) and they believe the body of Yahoshua is not stuck in a church, considering that the ones attending church have proved to gather to join pagan gods.
Is there someone they trust at Church or a friend who would be able to help them work through this issue more successfully? - The closes friend he has encourages this way of thinking. Whatever this friend says, he follows.
How did your relative respond to the truths you have already offered them? Are they generally responsive to wise words from you / others in your family? - He is very defensive, he is upset most of the time, he reads the Bible a lot but interprets it through the lense of the Sacred Names, and when you show him the Bible, he has all sorts of responses related to the fact that if you don’t call into God or Jesus by their proper Hebrew names (which according to his claim - proper names can not be translated to other languages), you are just not a true believer and you are believing in someone else.
Sometimes a person has deeper issues that need to be dealt with before they can resolve a belief such as this one, which is why I am asking some of these questions. It sounds like you have tried to speak with them and yet they have rejected the evidence you offered. I am curious as to the ‘how come’ or ‘why’ behind their rejection. Is this the right time to address this issue? Or are there deeper underlying issues? - I am inclined to believe that he has been searching for the truth his whole life, and even when he grew up in a Christian home (most of our family is Christian), having that inclination to conspiracy theories has played a key part in why this claim is so attractive to him. He is not being objective when reading the Bible, sometimes he would quote texts out of contexts and when I challenge the texts applying the 20:20 rule for reading the scripture, it all goes back to the sacred name point.
Here you will find a link that would give you a hint on what his claims are:
Thanks for your support, advise and mostly for your prayers!
@Nancy_Artur Thank you for those responses - that helps me understand much better why you are struggling. Honestly, I also struggle when dealing with people in your relative’s situation. It sounds like he does have some deeper psychological issues that need to be handled and that he has isolated himself from competing viewpoints by only associating closely with someone who agrees with him. There is a member of my family who has done the same thing and I have simply not been able to get through - they are deaf to anything but what they want to hear.
Os Guiness talks about unbelievers seeing ‘Signals of Transcendence’ that point them to God and cause them to reconsider their preconceived notions. Basically, they hit a wall in their life and their worldview cannot account for it - so they begin to genuinely consider other belief systems. I think your relative needs to hit that metaphorical wall in regard to his false beliefs before he will be willing to listen and only then will talking do much good.
May the Lord open the eyes / heart of your relative and give you wisdom to know if / when / how to engage. I think that personally I would leave the topic alone unless he showed any real willingness to grow in his understanding.
@SeanO I am really thankful for your comments and your input on this. I struggle a lot with the fact that I don’t want to quit on him, and that I understand that this is not a battle to be won in one day (not my battle anyway). It’s hard to see someone you love and care for misinterpret the real meaning of God’s love for mankind, and specifically, to see him miss the whole purpose of being a Christian and believing in the wonderful act of redemption, over a claim of using the proper name of God. I have decided I will continue to pray for him, and keep the topic out of our regular conversations (though it’s hard when that is all the person wants to talk about), for the sake of harmonious family interactions. Keep us in your prayers, I will keep your family in my prayers too! God bless you!
Thank you very much for sharing this valuable information. It is so good to hear from the family in the faith that you are in the right track when it comes to making a diligent defense of the truth. Blessings!
@Nancy_Artur, thank you for the kind reply and I am sorry to hear about the resistance you are experiencing as you try to give answers. As I read through your responses from @SeanO , I agree with you of the need for prayer for openness to consider another explanation for the questions.
When I think about faith in general, what God’s after is the condition of our heart. We can be saying and doing all the right things and yet have a heart that is far from God. Insistance on words, is just another way of placing confidence in our actions rather than the finished work of Christ on the cross.
I am confident that God answers people from all cultures when they cry out to God with all their heart. I want to share a testimony that I heard. Just recently I met a lady who was a very religious Hindu, a follower of Krishna, and was considering becoming a guru, but a Christian approached her saying, " You believe in God, Why dont you ask God to show you who He is?". As a result she prayed and God lead her to John 14:13-14. You may ask anything in my name and I will do it. She was convicted that she had not yet asked anything in Jesus name. God also revealed to her through the Bible that Jesus is the true shepherd and not all names (names of other hindu gods) were equal to Jesus. On praying to Jesus, some things she was struggling with psychologically when she prayed to other gods suddenly stopped bothering her. Now she is a committed believer in Jesus. All this transformation happened without anyone actually following her up and just as a result of seeking God personally. She had no knowledge of Hebrew names. It is an example of how God reaches out to people in all nations irrespective of the words we use but it is the cry of desperation that God responds too. In my personal experience too, I have seen the power of praying to Jesus over other gods similar to the pagan gods.
I pray that your relative will understand the riches of God’s grace in Christ Jesus which goes beyond our knowledge and actions.
Thanks so much for the great information. I really appreciate your input on this. It’s great to learn and be equipped with valuable tools to be effective in spreading the gospel! God bless you!
@Lakshmismehta Wow this is so powerful! I have no doubts that God’s ways are definitely not our ways, and that in the same way Jesus turned Saul’s heart into Paul, I will see my relative’s heart turned to the Lord for the glory of God. Thanks for sharing…
@Nancy_Artur I don’t see it as a matter of quitting on him, I see it as taking some steps back if for no other reason that to manage any amount of frustrations you may feel. However, this doesn’t mean that you stop praying for him and petitioning God in regards to the illumination of his mind so that he may see and understand clearly. This is a step that I have to take with many people that I know, and one who is near to my heart. I lean heavily how God has this enduring love and has loads of patience with us all. We all weren’t saved at birth, nor did we come to understanding immediately. He patiently waited while continuing to shape us in our life experiences.
I know that if God saved me from all the ways I used to think and things I believed in, He definitely can and will do it in the lives of others. With that in mind, I do pray that God softens your relative’s defenses and convicts his heart. I also pray that He breaks the chains that binds him.
You describe someone I have worked with in the past fairly well, though his issues are not about the name of God but other firmly held beliefs such as any bible translation that is not the King James is can’t be trusted and modern worship songs are not true worship. He’s also confided in me that he feels God abandoned him and he know longer feels connected to God. But the suggestion that it is actually him and his beliefs that have separated him from God is met with anger and denial.
I don’t see him much anymore but I continue to pray for him that his eyes will be opened and he’ll reconnect with God.
Hi David, thanks so much for sharing your experience with me. I relate to what you mention about your coworker in the sense that my relative also believes that the original manuscripts were corrupted when translated, and therefor, unless you read a textual translation of the Hebrew manuscripts, you will not be able to see how YHWHs and Yahushua’s names were replaced by pagan names to deceive people and guide them to worship pagan gods, by calling the Father and the Son by others than their proper names. I am thankful to God and all of you who have shared support material and testimony, this has helped me a lot, and has allowed me to see that there may be other things happening in his personal life, other than just a mere belief.
God bless you,