Pod Prep: 6-17-16
The Dangers of Gnosticism to Christians
The New Testament Churches Two Front War -Judaizers and Gnostics
During the early Church period when Jewish members outnumbered the gentile new converts, divisive, covert issues were secretly brought in by the Judaizing party. Even after the issues were settled in the conference of Acts Ch. 15, Judaizers were still secretly trying to undermine gentile converts and required them to become more Jewish. Later on, as the early church became a predominantly gentile church, many false prophets were now coming from the pagan philosophical perspective. Both threats are answered in the New Testament. This worldly philosophy was first introduced by Satan in the garden. Note Gen 3:4-5. First, Satan questions the veracity of God. He tells Adam and Eve that in the day they follow his advice and eat of the forbidden tree they will be like God, knowing good and evil. The devil has deceived the entire world ever since into believing that we have an immortal soul or spirit that will never die and that God is withholding knowledge from us.
Gnosticism Means Secret Knowledge
Paul and Peter battled the polluting influence of these worldly philosophies in the first century. New gospels were being preached. These gospels that plagued the church were from Gnostics cults. The seven churches mentioned in Revelation were also plagued with these secrets and special knowledge doctrines. Zondervan NIV lists six elements that comprise the Gnostic doctrines. They are not exclusive, as Gnosticism has several overlapping branches. They are:
1. Salvation via Secret Knowledge
3. Depreciation of Christ (lowering him in name and in glory)
4. Strict rule keeping, ceremonies, or rituals
5. Worship of Angels
6. Reliance on ancient and or human wisdom and traditions
We can see how easily all of these can be used as vehicles to push deceptive doctrines and to lessen the unbelievable value of the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus. Note in Revelation 2: 15, 24 Christ warns the church that some have known the depths of Satan. The doctrines of the Gnostics and Nicolaitanes are related and can be considered part of the depths of Satan. Gnostics were mystics who taught that the physical realm (our bodies) are intrinsically evil and that the spirit in us can be freed from its bondage to the physical through attainment of secret knowledge (or gnosis). Some of them denied that Jesus became flesh. They denied redemption saying that sin is not a moral failure since we do it in the flesh which does not affect our spirits. It is simply a lack of secret spiritual knowledge that is needed.
They teach that we have a divine spark in our spirit. The Bible tells us that our minds are corrupt and desperately wicked. See Jer. 17:9. The philosophers go in circles with new wrinkles on old arguments that do not lead to truth and a firm doctrinal foundation. See II Tim 3:5, 7. God says He did not speak to us in mystic secrets. See Isa 48:16. Christ said the same thing in Mark 4:22 and in John 18:20.
In spite of Christ’s clear teachings in the Bible, books like the “Secrets of the Da Vinci Code” are very popular today. Human vanity is tickled by our uncovering secrets; however God said not to lean on our own understanding. Note Prov 3:5-8. All we need is the Bible. See II Tim 3:16.
Paul Clearly Fought Asceticism
Note in Col 2: 1, 8 Paul was countering worldly philosophies. He told that church that had never seen him, to beware of such materials. Note that in Col 2:9 he tells them that Christ dwells in all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He tells them in verse 18 not to believe in false humility or worship of angels, being puffed up with religious vanity. Paul asks, why be subject to such pure self-denial asceticism? Note Col. 2:20-23. Gentile believers were subject to these criticisms, especially as they enjoyed God’s Festive Feast Days in their ascetic society.
Did Jesus Really Die?
Jesus was fully man, with all that that means in a fleshly sense and fully God. He needed to be both to be the perfect high priest for us sinners and the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. One of the most verified historical facts is the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. Some of the Gnostic critics argue that Jesus wasn’t completely dead when He was entombed. The Koran claims that Jesus only seemed to be dead and that He was only a prophet, not the son of God. Several variations on the theme according to them, Christ could not have been really physical. Salvation lies in finding the intrinsic good within our spirit they proclaim. They assert that our inner spirit is pure and good. Human nature is not intrinsically good deep down! Read any history (the story of man) book.
Note I Pet. 1:17-21 which says that we are redeemed by the blood of God’s son, planned before this world began. Further Peter says in II Peter 1:17-21 that Jesus received honor and glory from the Father as His beloved son. Jesus is thereby fully God. He also says no scripture is of any private flexible, interpretation which is the way of worldly philosophers. He then says in II Peter 2:1, 18-19 false prophets will lead some astray appealing to their vanity and desire to be free of restraints from God’s perfect laws. Some pagans preferred the opposite of asceticism which is hedonism.
The Apostle John at End of the First Century Faced Strong Gnostic Challenges
Some claimed that people did not really sin. See I John 1: 8-9. He corrected that error. Further in I John 2:19-22 he explained that these people are undermining Christ. They are anti-Christ. They deny His divinity by saying that He is not the messiah. The word ‘Christ’ means Messiah. He reminds them that in the resurrection, we will be like Christ in the God Family. See I John 3:1-3. Again he states that some false teachers are seducing some to believe that Jesus was not fully flesh and blood and fully God. See I John 4:1-3, 15. Further in I John 5:1 he reiterates that a true follower of God will believe that Jesus is the Messiah or God come to save us.