by Jerry Gentry
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29).
The first dictionary definition of a "cult" is: "A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader."
The true church originates on the first day of Pentecost with a group of 120 followers of Jesus Christ, a radical young nonconformist preacher, who claims to be the Son of God. The Spirit of God marvelously descends upon this group, in the form of "cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them" (Acts 2:3). Those who preach in His name are later viewed by "the rulers of the city. . . [of the Greek town of Thessalonica, as those] that have turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6).
By local and regional standards of the day, Christianity is seen as a strange "cult group." Christ's disciples are considered false extremists and troublemakers. Political powers demand them "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus" (Acts 4:18). They are persecuted with all the vehemence of hell itself, while they fix their faith upon the most authoritarian and charismatic leader of all time, that being Jesus Christ himself. They believe that by following this Jesus, they will experience "the resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2), and life everlasting. What bizarre beliefs these Christians hold!
This genuine Christian cult creates quite a stir, as they preach, perform miracles and even at one point "had all things common" (Acts 4:32), a concept later imitated by scores of counterfeit "Christian" cults down through time. Such counterfeit cults have at least on thing in common: They claim "special knowledge" unique to themselves, but deny major tenets of Christian doctrine. They specialize in revealing the secret things unknown to previous generations. The very word "cult" itself has become equated with a "dangerous counterfeit religion." In a strange turn of events, genuine Bible believing Christians are today, even as in apostolic times, often viewed as a "dangerous cult," to be avoided like the plague.
First century believers worship Him, even pray to God the Father in Jesus' name, as He has taught them to do. Followers hang on His every word. Though false Messiahs have come and gone before, none have a fraction of the impact of this man, who "was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb" (Luke 2:21). This man backs up His claims with mighty miracles. The lame walk. The blind have their sight restored. The deaf hear once again.
He does nothing in secret, but openly declares the message of His Father to all the world.
With great audacity, He claims: "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28). Is He telling the truth? Can this flesh man really be the Son of God? With disarming humility, He states: "If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God" (v. 54). He boldly declares: "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30).
Picture this scene. Jesus speaks to the great religious leaders of His day, who worship the God of Israel, or so they claim. Among these doctors are scribes who have preserved His every Word with meticulous accuracy to this very day. They know His law/word, but have superceded it with the "tradition of the elders" (Matt. 15:2). They look upon this upstart Jesus with scorn.
To a hard core class of these religious leaders, Jesus challenges: "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44). They respond to Him, "We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God" (v. 41). Thus, Israel's greatest prophet and saviour "is despised and rejected of men" (Isa. 53:3).
As this new religion catches on among a few believers, imitators see genuine miracles, and covet such power. When one "Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money" (Acts 8:18). Pathetically, this Simon envisions worldly profits, over eternal life.
Time passes and more imitators and counterfeits spring up. These imitators want the power of the apostles, but reject their doctrines, responsibilities and personal sacrifice that set genuine Christians apart.
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phi 3:18).
"Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (v. 19).
Nevertheless, counterfeit Christian "cults" and secret societies have multiplied down through time, even into the present. Such societies and groups have an outward appearance of following the Bible, of even being "Christian." Deception has never been more subtle than among counterfeit cults who claim to hold "secret knowledge," especially of the sacred name itself. Use of such a name, and its special pronunciation, is for some the actual key to the kingdom, without which no one will be admitted!
What better idea could there be than to "find" exciting "new knowledge" not known previously, spread that knowledge zealously, and reap a harvest of followers. Such is exactly the operation of counterfeit cults who oppose the one true religious society, known as the Christian church. That church&emdash;and not counterfeit sects&emdash;has preserved truth throughout time. The apostle Paul teaches: "The church of the living God, [is] the pillar and ground of the truth" (1Tim. 3:15). Ultimate truth does not exist outside the walls of "the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28), in time and history. It is that group alone which is promised perpetuity. "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).
Growing together within that body are both the saved and the unsaved, the wheat and the tares, the genuine and the counterfeit. It is important that blood washed believers who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, shed all doctrines originating with counterfeit cult groups. We must return to the law/word of God, sola scriptura, if we will "so walk ye in him" (Col. 2:6). There is evidence of cult influence in most churches today. Beliefs that are not grounded in the Bible and apostolic doctrine can usually be traced to some counterfeit heretical sect.
One such belief is that of the sacred name, an idea foreign to the Bible, which speaks of His Holy name, but never states the familiar name of the Father. Sacred name pundits arrive at their conclusions through linguistic research and simple logic. If the parents of our Saviour spoke in a Hebrew/Aramean dialect, they would have called their son something akin to "Yashua." Logical as that may be, we have no record in the Bible of the Son of God ever being called by any Hebrew name, nor do we have any record of the Son ever addressing His Father by any familiar Hebrew or Greek name. At the end of the day, after all the sacred name research and ideas have been laid out in the open, some things come quite clear:
1) The sacred name is a new idea. Church groups in the United States who insist upon the use of a Hebrew sacred name, such as Yahweh, Yahveh, Yashua, etc., can trace their roots back little more than 100-150 years. The doctrine of the sacred name has its origin in heretical sects, and not from within the stream of historic Christianity. The adage applies, "If it is true, it is not new; and if it is new, it is not true."
2) The sacred name is not found in the Bible. The Bible must be the basis of every belief of the Christian faith. Knowledge outside the Holy Bible, no matter how good the scholarship, is useless for establishing Christian faith and practice. Sacred name believers must change the Word of God, to support their ideas and usage of names absent from Holy Scripture.
3) Many sacred name believers reject Jesus Christ, the name above all names, in preference for another name. This rejection is sometimes openly stated, but more often it is implied by the overwhelming preference for and usage of other names. Even when we find a Hebrew name for God in the Old Testament, such as Jehovah and Jah, which together appear eight times, the Bible declares that Jesus is the "name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9), which is "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:21). The New Covenant Jesus takes precedence over the Old Covenant Jehovah, and for good reason. "Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18).
4) Sacred name believers do not hold apostolic doctrine. Most sacred name groups hold one or more heretical doctrines, such as the Arian heresy (Jesus was not God); Holy Spirit is not a person but a force; You too can become very God; etc.
5) Sacred name believers attempt to delve into what God has declared to be secret. Jesus always referred to "Our Father." No where in the Bible does He speak His father's familiar personal name, in Hebrew, in Greek, or in any language. By what authority do sacred name pundits speak a familiar Hebrew name assigned to "Our Father," which Jesus never uttered even one time?
When one of Jesus' disciples sought to know the Father in familiar terms, Jesus mildly rebuked him. "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" (John 14:9).
Jesus taught us not to make a public show of prayer, fasting, alms, and other acts of obedience. "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matt. 6:6, also v. 18).
When we perform righteous acts privately, "thy Father which is in secret" will reward us openly. Yet sacred name believers insist upon assigning and openly revealing His name, which only lexicons, linguistic research and logic reveals, yet where the Bible is silent.
The titles "Lord" and "Lord" appear in the English Bible over 6000 times. This fact strongly suggests how divorced Israel is to address God today. As far as man is concerned, "thy Father which is in secret," and particularly His familiar name, is among the "hidden things" of God. The Psalmist prayed: "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him" (Ps. 62:5). God alone can bring to light such "hidden things" as the singular familiar name of the Father, in due time. The Bible says, "He revealeth the deep and secret things" (Dan. 2:22). He will even "show you things to come" (John 16:13), if you will wait upon Him. It therefore becomes amply clear that the Father does not want His individual personal name spoken today by Christians.
Of the coming Messiah, it was prophesied: "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 13:35). This Jesus fulfilled. Where then do we find that he uttered the Father's singular name? Nowhere in the Bible.
Common people properly refer to royalty and dignitaries even today as "Your Majesty" and "Mr. President," and not by their familiar first names. It would be highly improper for a member of the public to address Queen Elizabeth in familiar terms, such as "Elizabeth" or worse yet, "Lizzie." How much more then should we refrain from addressing the "Father of lights" (James 1:17) with a familiar name not revealed in the Word of God.
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God" (1Cor. 4:5).
A father calls his son commonly by the son's first name. However, no child thinks of addressing his father by a first name. A son will say "Father" or more intimately "Dad," "Daddy" or "Papa." Such titles are intimate, yet respectful, and conjure up a right relationship. "Father" and "Daddy" indicate a uniquely intimate relationship. The term "Abba Father," given to us in Holy Scripture, is even more intimate still. "Abba" is a Chaldean word, transliterated without change into Greek and then into our English Bible. It expresses the ultimate in intimacy and respect for "Our Father which art in heaven" (Matt. 6:9), to which is added, "Hallowed be thy name." Thus, without presumption or familiarity, we honor the unspoken name of the Father, and our prayers are heard.
It therefore becomes more than evident that efforts to assign a sacred name outside of Scripture to the Father are founded in disbelief of the Bible. Such efforts demonstrate presumption of the highest degree. No earthly father answers to a son who calls out to him by familiar first name. He would call that son presumptuous, arrogant, disdainful, and haughty. Does "Our Father which art in heaven" hear prayers addressed to a familiar sacred name? If we will answer that question strictly from the Bible, the answer is no, He does not answer to a name which He has not authorized. He has given us Jesus, who is our familiar intercessor with the Father. Jesus said, "Henceforth I call you not servants. . . I have called you friends" (John 15:15). Friends call one another by familiar first names, which Scripture authorizes. His Word invites, "Greet the friends by name" (3John 14). Jesus never once makes a familiar greeting by name to "Our Father which art in heaven." By what authority do you speak a sacred name that Jesus never spoke?
"Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6). Herein we learn how to address the Father, without knowing His familiar name. Christian,"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God." You may pray to "thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matt. 6:18). It is best that we leave "the secret things" secret, until such things are revealed. Only Jesus, that "name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:9), will at his coming "bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."