I’d Rather Be a Dog In Heaven than a Lion In Hell

From the book Whole Bible Christianity by Bruce Bertram, Chapter 10 section ‘Our True Identity’

Balancing the Word causes identity problems. Most Christians reject whole Bible beliefs because of the Law, and many Jewish people won’t accept us because of Jesus. So are we Christians or Jews? I don’t think we have to decide. “Whole Bible” can apply anywhere, anytime. You can be a whole Bible Lutheran, a whole Bible Baptist, and even a whole Bible Jew. Just remember His Word comes first. Nothing should get between you and Him.

Of course, in trying to live out the whole of the Word we are not going to be able to maintain any sort of sectarianism (dividing into sects) for long. The name Christian simply means “partisan of the Christ,” which is what we are. Lots of people wear the name but there are many degrees of partisanship. It depends on actual obedience. Some partisans don’t know any better because of false teaching. Some know better and don’t care. But just because many Christians (or Jews) have dragged His name through the mud doesn’t make the name invalid.

Okay, I’m a partisan of the Christ, but what kind? There are many combinations heavy on words and light on biblical living. So many people want to use His name and claim His blessings without actually living His Word. Accepting the whole of the Word as a valid lifestyle and discipleship method makes me distinct from most of them. So almost by default, I’m a “whole Bible Christian.”

We don’t really need a name, but a short hand way to refer to ourselves is simpler for those with short attention spans. Many labels have been co-opted by people for whom hypocrisy is an art form, and I’m sure this will get the same treatment. Lots of partisans of the Christ want to think of themselves as whole Bible because they “believe” it.

One lady told me she was whole Bible but “not like you.” What she meant was that she “believed” the whole Bible, but she didn’t follow the feasts or many other parts of the Law. Ye-e-ah. That’s like a Pharisee who “believed” the Old Testament (the Tanakh) and crucified Jesus. This is a clear example of one thing this whole book is about – Christians who “believe” but don’t follow. Believing without acting doesn’t make sense. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). Seems to me we are either whole Bible or not. That word “whole” nails it down pretty well. There is no end to some people’s hypocrisy, but whole Bible Christians are dedicated to returning God’s love by living out the whole of His Word. In every detail and every part of our lives.

In Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus resists a little giving help to a Gentile woman (Mark calls her a Syrophoenician in Mark 7:26, a part of the Canaanites) asking healing for her daughter. This is where Jesus says that it is not right to give the children’s bread to dogs. Jews at the time generally referred to Gentiles as dogs. She has an amazing response, saying that “even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” She doesn’t argue the point, but humbly accepts the fact that she wasn’t first in line for help. Jesus is so impressed with her faith He tells her the demon has left her daughter. Her faith was shown by her humble submission and obedience.

At first it might seem off-putting that Jesus would regard her (or me) as a dog. But I think this was more of a statement of where He was focusing His work at that time (“to the Jew first and also to the Gentile”) rather than a judgment against either the lady or me. Although Canaanites were historically pretty “doggy” too (Ephesians 2:12, Hebrews 11:6). Those who by nature do what God requires, even if non-Jewish, belong to Him because of their faith, and aren’t dogs at all. But even if it’s true that my identity (in the eyes of some) is that of a dog in the kingdom, I’m okay with it. He made me and can assign me any place He chooses. I’d much rather be a dog in heaven than a lion in hell!

The material in this book is not for the purpose of creating yet another separate group or doing away with existing groups. It may (and probably will) happen that we cannot fellowship with existing groups. Those of us who believe and practice the whole of God’s Word might have to find solace in meeting separately like the first century believers, but that is not our desire. Our desire is to be one Body. If you have to split because of the Word, remember you are not alone. God scatters His people like salt among the unbelievers, whether they have nothing to do with a church or attend religiously.

He wants us to be like priests, after the order of Melchizedek, representing His interests wherever we are. We are one Body with one faith and one God, and we don’t need to create a unity or identity for ourselves. Our identity is in the Messiah Jesus, our root and head and life force. All we need to do is maintain or preserve that unity in a bond of peace.

1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB95)

Shalom

Distractions Part Three, Names

This distraction is sort of a part of the “Hebrew only” distraction I talked about earlier. A section of people who are trying to follow Torah (the Law) as part of their walk with Jesus don’t like to use the name Jesus. They prefer the Hebrew version, Yeshua. But how much of this is a desire to honor God, and how much is simply pretentious?

 

On the one hand, it is right to call someone by their correct name. I get called Bert every once in a while and I correct the speaker right away. We all do this. So it makes sense to try and call Jesus by His “correct” name. Problem is, He’s got a lot of “correct” names, names which are also titles, and His names also are translated into different languages.

 

Yeshua is a variant of Yehoshua (Joshua) and means “YHWH saves” or “YHWH is salvation.” Jesus is the English version of the Greek transliteration (probably from Yeshua) Iesous (ee ay sooce). Many times a word or name in one language is hard to say in another language. For instance, in Judges 12:5-6 the word Shibboleth was used to find people of Ephraim who couldn’t enunciate the ‘h’ and said Sibboleth instead. Japanese people (or maybe Asians in general) have a hard time with the letter ‘L’ and say ‘R’ instead. Sometimes a name or word has to be translated because of pronunciation difficulties. After all, we are still suffering from the effects of the confusing of languages at the Tower of Babel. My last name is in a British form, but it also has a Spanish form, a French form, and I’m sure there are others too.

 

Jesus has many names and titles. He liked “the Son of Man” (85 times in the gospels) as a title or description Himself (used quite a bit for Ezekiel). When He comes back, He will have a name no one knows.

 

His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. (Revelation 19:12, ESV)

 

We are going to get a new name eventually too. One that means something instead of just a collection of sounds as most modern names are.

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17, ESV)

 

I prefer to use words that other people can understand. Names are important, but sometimes we make a big deal out of them for reasons other than communicating a Bible message. If I had to pick another name for Jesus, I prefer Immanuel which means “God with us,” because it is used fewer times (so is more unique) and only for the Messiah in the Bible. It is also a direct pronunciation (im maw noo ale) for the Hebrew. Jesus is not a bad name, it’s just a different form for Yeshua. As Paul said, “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19). This applies to other thinks too, such as the name of Jesus.

It’s a God thing

Whole Bible Christian is a term that we came up with, sort of by running out of other names. We are believers in both Jesus as the Messiah and the whole of His Word, including His Law or Torah, as a discipleship method and lifestyle, motivated by love.

So we get rejected by the Jews because of Jesus, and rejected by the church because we live the Law.

But there is only one body, worshiping one God and one Lord with one faith.

You can see our menus are divided into Heart, Soul, and Mind sections. We realize, of course, that all of His Word is for all of our heart, mind, and soul. But we needed some short menu headings, and most of our content falls under one of those main headings or another. Sort of.

Regular reading and consistent doing feeds us and draws us closer to God and each other. Reading and doing all of what God gives us in His Living Oracles is not a Christian thing. It’s not a Jewish thing.

It’s a God thing.