Hearing A voice and THE voice

newredThere has been so much word and electronic messages reaching us, appreciating the Word that was taught during the recent visit to India. It is encouraging to know that many were edified and strengthened in their Faith. The India-visit report and messages preached have been incorporated in this three-series publication titled – Hearing A voice and THE voice. To receive the printed version of these articles send your request to voiceoftheword@live.com. Or write to: Believers’ Assembly PO Box 37919, Lusaka, 10101, Zambia.


PART I – The Yeshua – Jesus Controversy

One time, when I was a small boy, I was walking around with my Bible from house to house in a residential area of Lusaka. I was telling people about the need of the Saviour in their lives. I approached one man who was sitting by the roadside and asked him the question: Are you a Christian? “Yes” he answered with surprise as he obviously wondered what the small boy was up to. Next I asked him: “Why are you a Christian and not a Muslim or Hindu?” “Well” he responded, “If I was born in Saudi Arabia I would have been a Muslim, but my family is Christian and lives in a Christian nation and so it follows that I am a Christian.”

What this man answered holds true for many religious people – they believe what they believe as a result of the customs and traditions that characterise the environment they found themselves in. And for other people, what they believe in now would change if they were to relocate and live among a people of a different custom and faith. That is how far religion can go. However, the Truth and Power of God is not so. When it finds a person, regardless of which place he or she may be, it will reach out to the heart and shake whatever traditional foundation the person may have been established on. This is what happened to one man called Paul. He was so zealous and enthusiastic about his religious beliefs that he began to war against a people he was convinced were a cult, following a false prophet called Jesus. Like many other religious people of that day, it was believed that this cult’s doctrines were contrary to the tenets of the mainstream religion of Judaism.

It so happened one day that as Paul and his companions journeyed on a crusade against ‘heretics’, something strange happened on the way. The man lost control of his horse as he fell to the ground. A bright light had shone and a voice spoke. Concerning this incident the book of Acts states that “the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man” (Acts 9:7). What did the voice speak, and is it everyone with Paul who heard what it uttered? The voice spoke to Paul saying, “go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (v.6). From that time onwards the life of this man completely changed. He realised the Truth of the Gospel not because someone took him on a word-study through Greek and Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons, but because a supernatural power came on him and in a moment a veil of darkness was lifted off his face (cf. Galatians 1:12).

The men with Paul became aware of some sound of a voice of a person speaking but could not grasp what it was saying distinctly. This is exactly what Paul meant when he once narrated his testimony to an audience: “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me” (Acts 22:9). Notice that  some people who feed on ‘letters’ and  ‘grammar’ have denounced the Bible to be self-contradictory because, like other similar incidences they like to cite, Paul in one place is recorded to have said  that the people with him heard a voice and yet in another place reported that they did not hear the voice. This will always be the result of reading or hearing words without grasping the ‘mind’ behind them. This is similar to what happened when the Lord Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Critics heard that and found something to accuse him of. They reported the matter to the authorities. As far as hearing the words with their ears was concerned, they were witnesses. But Matthew called them  false witnesses – “At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days” (Matthew 26:60-61). Surely, these witnesses tried to say what Jesus said but were false because they missed what he meant!

Take heed how you hear

In Mark 4:24 the Lord Jesus admonished, “Take heed WHAT ye hear”, and again in Luke 8:18 we read that he said, “Take heed therefore HOW ye hear.” Yes, it is very important that we be careful of both what we hear, and how we hear.

When a person is speaking, it is more important that you understand what thoughts he is trying to express than giving attention to the grammar he is using to speak. The mind behind the words is more important than the words themselves. Just think of this: why do we have so many religious denominations but which are all using one Bible? Simply because although you can all use one book, the letters of the words in that book will not be so helpful when the mind of the author hasn’t been grasped. It goes without saying that we cannot understand God’s Word until His mind is revealed to us – “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”, says the Scripture (Philippians 2:5). And, until the mind of Christ has been revealed to a person, no matter how long he can subscribe to a doctrine – whether a true or a false one – there will be a time when something that is more interesting will itch his or her ears and his faith will take a different direction. This reminds me of a recent incident when I was in Maharashtra State of India, travelling from a place called Kholapur to Pune. I was sitting in the rear seat of a car when I asked a brother who was on the passenger seat to connect my phone to the car’s mobile phone charger. I didn’t inform him of the problem my phone has; it has a faulty socket and so there is always a difficulty for it to charge properly. After about three hours, I got my phone only to find it had not charged! It is interesting to note that there was nothing wrong with the charging system. The problem was with the phone and the way it had been connected. Think of it, just how many times have we heard of believers who after so many years of being in the Faith later fell away? Others even took an extreme U-turn of denouncing doctrines they once enthusiastically promoted. It doesn’t matter how long someone has been ‘in the faith’ – 10 years? 30 years? 50 years? – as long as they merely got transferred from one place (the world or one kind of religious system) to another, instead of being transformed, one day their true nature will manifest and they will fall away. They are ‘phones’ which seemed connected to the source of power but alas had no experience of the power come into their hearts. When they heard the message of “Elijah”, instead of their hearts turning, it was their heads which turned – they had new knowledge of Church Ages, Seals, Serpent Seed in their heads but no Holy Ghost transformation of the heart![1]They went out from us” admonished saint John, “but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19). This is exactly what I encountered during my recent visit to India. I travelled to three places – Mumbai, Kholapur and Pune. We had fine meetings in Mumbai and Pune, but quite a strange and confused drama in Kholapur where one man boldly proclaimed that the Seals book of William Branham was not a result of revelation from God but is a result of plagiarising Dr. Clarence Larkin’s The Book of Revelation book. This man has been in the Message for so many years. A few years back he started living in Israel and that is where his view about the Message began to change. Seeing the weakness of arguments he gathered against the Faith he once upheld,  I have no doubt that if he were to stay another many years in Israel, living and conversing with rabbis, he will throw away the New Testament of the Bible on the premise that it has many translational errors and is inconsistent with the Old Testament. We shall deal with the man’s claims, especially about the Clarence Larkin’s controversy, later in the message [See Part II of this Message].  When I saw the man emotionally express himself with vigour but yet distorting facts and taking Branham’s statements out of context, I thought to myself, “How could a man have been so many years holding on to something he had no basic understanding of? And how can he be so confident of matters he has very little understanding of?

Speaking about the Jesus-Yeshua controversy in Mumbai

I arrived in Mumbai on 28th October and I was scheduled to teach for the next four days. It was a refreshing moment of worshipping the Lord as we took a series of sermons about the life of King David and what we can learn from it. In the course of one sermon attention was given to the act of David telling Goliath that “I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45). This verse provided an opportunity to address a false doctrine which started in the  1930s within the Church of God movement. The doctrine has now found its way among Endtime Message believers in India. The doctrine among other things asserts that believers ought to use the Hebrew name of Yeshua, not Jesus. It is assumed that because a name of a person is a proper noun it cannot change when spoken in another language. Furthermore the letter “J” or the sound it represents never existed at the time of the Lord, and so no one could have called him by the pronunciation with a “J” sound. Extremists further claim that Iesous, the Greek rendition of the name Yeshua from which the English word Jesus was derived,  is a compound word consisting of names of pagan deities –  IEU and SUS (Zeus).

First, is it true that a proper name should always be translated unchanged into another language? And, did Bible translators really have a conspiracy to make people worship pagan gods when they translated Yeshua to Iesous or to Jesus? This is simply not true. It is mainly a result of pseudo-scholars who are too sanguine and quick at rubbishing work which is a result of many years of pain-staking efforts of scholars.

The work of translating scriptures was not an easy undertaking. Like other works of linguistics, there were challenges of translating names. It is important to know that the aim of a translation is to ‘transfer’ the meaning of words from one language to another one. Here the trouble rises when there is an objective to let the words be pronounced correctly in the target language. This is achieved by what is known as transliteration.  Transliteration involves changing the letters of a word in one language into the letters of the alphabet of  the other language which have similar sounds of pronunciation. This may seem to be a simple process when you are dealing with sentences and what they mean. However, trouble begins when you encounter words that are known as proper nouns. Proper nouns are words used to refer to a particular thing. They are different from general names of places or things. For example, “person” is a general term but “Peter” is specific and hence is called a proper noun (or proper name). Different scholars have different strategies for translating proper nouns. One strategy regards names as labels for persons or objects and hence should not be translated.[2] Another strategy considers the need for proper pronunciation and hence asserts that proper names “can be transcribed or transliterated or adapted on the level of spelling, phonology.[3]Again another strategy believes in translating the meaning of words so that a person named “Blessing” in English will be called “Daliso” in my Zambian language. In this way meaning has been preserved in the target language of translation but pronunciation of its original source has been lost.

In the light of what has been explained, it is important to know that Yeshua was transliterated as Iesous in Greek and then into English as Jesus. How did this happen? Let us look at the explanation in form of the following sequence:

  1. The name “Yeshua” is a Hebrew transliteration which begins with the sound of “Y” as in the word “Yes
  • The New Testament was written in Greek. In this language the “Y” sound is represented by the letter “I”. So, in order to convey the same pronunciation in Greek Yeshua would be transliterated starting with the letter I.
  1. In the name “Yeshua”, after the “Y” sound comes the “e” sound, as in “Yes.” There was no problem in transliterating this sound as there was an equivalent letter in Greek to represent it.
  • Note that the “e” in Yeshua is pronounced as in the word “Yes” not as in “See” However, when the name was transliterated into Iesous and then into Jesus, English speakers pronounced the “e” as in “See” not “Yes”, hence the modern mispronunciation of Jesus, speaking the “e” sound the way we say it in the word “See.”
  1. Next we come to the “sh” sound in Yeshua This is where translators encountered a problem because whilst this sound exists in Hebrew it does not exist in Greek. So, translators went for the letter in the Greek alphabet which is close to the “sh” sound and that was the sigma which gives an “s” sound as in “Sad.
  • Note that had the English Bible translators transliterated the name Jesus straight from Hebrew, the name would have maintained the “sh” sound found in Yeshua because English language has the “sh” sound. However, they transliterated Jesus from the Greek Iesous and hence the disappearance of the “sh” sound in English.
  1. The “u” sound in Yeshua is the same as in “rule” or “true”
  • The English language provides two ways of pronouncing the sound of letter “u”: it can be pronounced as in “cut” or as in “true”. In Iesous it is correctly pronounced with the “u” sound as in “true”. But English speakers mispronounced it as in “cut.

It is not our intention to look into all the details of how the pronunciation of Jesus came about. There are so many works of experts you can consult which are available on the Internet. The purpose of bringing out these facts in this message is to point out that the problem of transliterating Yeshua to Iesous then to Jesus was not a result of some evil-minded people holding clandestine meetings to cleverly play around words of the Bible so as to make its readers blaspheme God. That is simply a bed-time fairy tale!  Before we move on to another matter it may interest you to know the story behind the letter J.

Letter J at one time was just another way of writing I.  These letters were pronounced with the “Y” sound as in “Yes” so that a Hebrew name with the “Y” sound like Yeshua became Iesous in Greek and Iesus in English. It was an Italian scholar Gian Trissino who first distinguished the two letters to represent two different sounds. This was in the year 1524.  It is important here to note that early Bible translators like William Tyndale would spell Jesus as Iesous to  maintain the “Y” sound. For example this is a verse taken from the Tyndale Version (Matthew 1:25).

She had brought forth hir first sonne and called hys name Iesus

However, as the English language evolved, “I” and “J” became different so that “J” now had a sound as we know it today. Over  the decades and a century people were used with reading and pronouncing “J” as in “Jam” . However, words in the English Bible which had been transliterated with I or J had not been updated to retain the “Y” sound. Thus, instead of saying Yerusalem people now read it as Jerusalem, and instead of Yonah they read and said Jonah. Thus, everyone read “J” according to its modern rendition. To speak it with the correct pronunciation of the “Y” sound was not common. Thus, in the year 1611 a new version of the Bible – the King James Version – was introduced which updated words with vulgar (i.e. common) pronunciations. These were pronunciations people were accustomed with. As correctly noted in the Britannica Encyclopedia:

An elaborate set of rules was contrived to curb individual proclivities and to ensure the translation’s scholarly and nonpartisan character. In contrast to earlier practice, the new version was to use vulgar[4] forms of proper names (e.g., “Jonas” or “Jonah” for the Hebrew “Yonah”). [5]

Thus was the “Y” sound lost and people pronounced the name of the Lord with the “J” sound as we use it today. The question which arises now is, does it matter to God if we use the pronunciation of what is commonly known today, or we seek for the original form of pronunciation?

Does  pronunciation of the name matter?

In a remote region of Uganda called Karamoja lived a man called John Mark Louse. His testimony has gone around the world because of how such an uneducated and primitive man saw a vision of the Lord Jesus and was commissioned to take the Gospel to the natives of the region. This man’s faith and knowledge of Truth was not something he received from man. Through this humble and simple man great signs and wonders took place in the region converting hundreds of souls. God not only gave him salvation but the ability to read and speak English. As he read the Bible he was puzzled about the subject of the Original Sin and how sons of God took daughters of men for wives in the story of Genesis 6. He tried to inquire about his questions from a Pentecostal Christian but was not satisfied with the answers he was told. Then one day  the voice of God spoke saying:

Those Pentecostal elders don’t have the answer to those scriptures you are asking. Wait, in the near future you will get the answer to those scriptures because there was a man I have used and the answer is within his books and that man, I have already taken him.

Later on John Mark came across the Spoken Word books of William Branham and his questions were answered. Now, here is a man who had a direct call from God. When the Lord appeared to him, he did not say, “Now John Mark, people call me Jesus but I am actually Yeshua.” When I invited Brother John Mark to Zambia, standing in a prayer line was a young lady who could hardly walk. Her legs were swollen and she was having a hard time to breathe. She had a damaged liver which had swollen. “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ…receive your healing!…Lord Jesus take over!” were the words that kept coming of this apostle of faith as he kept praying for people. We were all surprised when the following day the girl had been totally healed. It is now about two years when this testimony occurred, and the girl is still healed.[6]

It’s too late for Vain Jangling

In the book of Acts we read about how a group of young men once saw apostle Paul cast out demons and they admired that. They soon put up a ‘deliverance ministry’ and thought of using the Jesus-Name formula. This is typical of many young people today who have enthused themselves into starting ministries which the Lord has not commissioned them. They began to pray over people “in the Name of Jesus”. One day things didn’t go well when an evil spirit spoke from a man asking, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15). Now, whether this demon pronounced the name of Jesus in Hebrew as Yeshua or in Greek as Iesous, one thing we do know is that it was able to speak the name. That tells you and I that the power of the name of the Lord does not lie in speaking or mentioning it as is commonly believed among Charismatics. Demons are able to speak the name. It is important to know that the name Yeshua was not unique in the Old and New Testaments. Many other people had that name. The name occurs about 27 times in the Old Testament (Zechariah 3:3 and Ezra 3:2). However, unlike the sons of Sceva who were challenged by the evil spirit, there was something different when Paul mentioned “in the Name of Jesus.” Demons trembled. Simply put, Paul was sent of the Lord and what he did was commissioned by the Lord, and hence he could proclaim to the evil spirits that what he was doing was not on his own accord but by the authority of the Lord. God sent him and His presence accompanied him and that was what evil spirits feared. To do things in the name of the Lord is to perform them in accordance with his will and power. When you pray to God, he does not sit still to hear if your vowels and consonants are coming out right.  What God is able to do when we pray is not a question of whether we pronounce the name of Jesus Christ correctly but whether we have the power of Christ inside our hearts – “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Unfortunately, the Jesus-Yeshua strange “wind of doctrine” has deceived some people into “doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife [and] railings”. Such people are trying to make the Gospel of Christ become complex as though it is Greek and Hebrew lexicons that will save us. Surely the ‘fear of Paul’ has befallen them as they have moved away from the simplicity that is in Christ – “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Dear saints, looking at the lateness of the hour we are living in, we do not have the luxury of time to entertain being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). It is simply too late to go into “vain jangling” (1 Timothy 1:6).

CONTINUED IN PART II


[1] Malachi 4:5-6.

[2] You can read a detailed explanation about this strategy in the Journal of Language and Translation in a paper by Saeideh Ahanizadeh titled Translation of Proper Names in Children’s Literature (2012). The  272 page-book is also available on Amazon.

[3]  Franco Aixela cited by Rouholla Zarei [Online] in the article Proper Nouns in Translation: Should they be Translated. Available online: http://ler.letras.up.pt/uploads/ficheiros/4666.pdf [Accessed: 15th November, 2016].

[4] Vulgar here means “lacking sophistication” or “Characteristic of or belonging to ordinary people.”

[5] Britannica Encyclopaedia (2016). King James Version Sacred Text.[Online] Available from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/King-James-Version [Accessed 17th November, 2016].

[6] Read the testimony of the life and call of John Mark Louse on this link: http://www.propheticrevelation.net/richard_gan/johnmarklouse.htm

One thought on “Hearing A voice and THE voice”

  1. I am Bro Ferdinand F. Sustento I am message believer here in the Philippines, and I read your messages, and your email, and it is good, and I want to hear more messages from you. On Dec.25-27 we have camp meeting here in the Philippines can we invite you to preach in our convention if you have time, we are poor only we cannot afford to sponsor you to come, but we are very flattered to hear from you, many churches will come together on that event to hear your message. If you want to contact me here is my cellphone number +639081237312.

    Thank you very much Your Brother in Christ Bro Ferdinand Sustento

    Sent from Windows Mail

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