MattS AMTM December 2018 Part 18 (heresy and false teachings)
Before I continue with the “Emergent Church” theme I would like to bring a brief understanding of what Gnosticism is. I have come to realise that Gnostic ideas have been around since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. It would appear that Gnostic ideas and teachings underpin so many of the false and heretical teaching in the Church today. Many people are surprised to learn that the idea of Gnosticism sits behind the core beliefs of many churches and church movements, without recognising it as Gnosticism. As the “Apostate Church” appears to be growing daily, many of the real core beliefs of the leaders of the “Emergent Church”, and the “New Apostolic Reformation”, appear to be rooted in Gnostic ideas. I believe that they would deny this but, know them by their fruits (words and actions). Gnostic ideas have long been with the Catholic Church however.
A big “light-switch” went on in my head a while ago when I began to see the connection between a great increase in “Gnostic” ideas and the deterioration and apostasy of the Church. In my opinion it would be very hard to deny seeing this, whilst observing and hearing the teachings of many prominent Church pastors and leaders. If you read my articles on a regular basis, you will know that I often refer to 2 Thessalonians 2, this chapter in verse 3 refers to the “apostasy” or “falling away”. Some theologians have recently interpreted apostasy as meaning the rapture of the body of Christ, I cannot agree with this interpretation even though “apostasy” can mean departure.
Let’s have a look at what Paul writes in 2nd Thessalonians, and see how it may tie in with Gnostic beliefs.
In Chapter 2 of 2nd Thessalonians, Paul deals with how things will be prior to the return of Jesus. He deals with some specifics of that time, and although the rapture might be here, it is my thinking that it is not part of Pauls discussion. Paul deals with; warning about deception,the apostasy or falling away from the faith,the revealing of the Antichrist,the removal of the restrainer,the false signs and wonders that accompany the Antichrist,people choosing falsehood and lies over the truth,God giving these same people over to a delusion,asking Christians to stand firm in the traditions that they have been taught by the foundational apostles.
When Pauls speaks of the “apostasy” or “falling away”, I looked at how this is translated. Apostasy (apostasia in the Greek) is translated as; “a falling away from the faith”, a defection from the truth. It appears that Paul is speaking of a specific type of event when he refers to the “apostasy”. It is those who have known or been raised in God’s truth, but choose to walk away. I believe that the “apostasy” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is very important to consider when looking at the “Emergent Church and NAR” in relation to “Gnostic” beliefs.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but, as always, I find that I am unable to fully explain what Gnosticism is in just a few pages. In my research I find that it is area that has been written on extensively (which in some ways makes it easier), but finding a clear definition and explaining this in a clear way in a few paragraphs is not so easy. I’m sure that there will be things that I leave out or do not cover, but I will do the best I can to explain Gnosticism from a Biblical perspective.
What is Gnosticism?
My opinion is that the seed of Gnosticism originated with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3:1-7 the serpent places doubt in Eve’s mind, undermines God’s truthfulness and authority, the serpent is more or less saying that God is withholding special knowledge from Eve and has lied about the outcome of eating from the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”. The serpent implies that if Eve is to eat the fruit of that tree, she will become like God, or be “as gods”, and as a result she will inherit powers and will elevate her status greatly by her own efforts.
This account from Genesis 3 seems to embody the ideas that are at the core of Gnosticism. So, what is Gnosticism?
The word Gnosis means “knowledge” or for those that practice Gnosticism it means a special spiritual/mystical/secret knowledge/power that is beyond the scope of the physical world, it is an experience of the divine. Those that practice Gnosticism believe that they have a “divine spark” within them, and they must get in touch with special knowledge/power in order to progress to a higher level of existence. It is by one’s own efforts using special knowledge and the divine spark, that this is achieved. Gnostics believe that the physical body/physical world are imperfect and evil. This is a very basic understanding of Gnostic beliefs, there is much more to Gnosticism, but it will give you a basic overview.
In my reading, I have discovered that those that hold to Gnostic beliefs, have their own view of the creation with its own set of deities (or something like deities). (By the way, there are many who practice Gnosticism that also believe themselves to be Christians). Those that hold to the Gnostic belief of creation say that the world was created by an imperfect being, an extension of God that got ahead of itself. Gnostics believe that there is a supreme God or deity, but that this God was not responsible for the creation of the universe, in any way. Some texts I have read indicate that this universe was created by a deity called the Demiurge (an extension of the supreme deity). The Demiurge made a mess of the creation and this is what has caused all the suffering and chaos. Gnostics believe that Jesus was sent by the supreme deity to teach us how we can, by our own efforts, get back to the supreme deity.
In my reading on Gnosticism, I am beginning to see how much it has infected Christianity. One of the early Church fathers (Irenaeus) was very opposed to Gnostic teachings and wrote and spoke extensively against the Gnosticism that had invaded the early Christian Church.
In its core belief, Gnosticism is diametrically opposed (the complete opposite)to the message of the Christian Gospel as taught by the apostles. Jesus taught, and the apostles continued this teaching, that we cannot, as humans, find our own salvation. It is only through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross and His resurrection that ensured our salvation and a way back to God, through repentance of our sins and asking Jesus forgiveness for our sins. It is by God’s grace alone that we can even do this, it is by nothing that we do personally that can restore our relationship with God. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus his son, alone.
Very simply put, Gnosticism focuses on “self”, and our own efforts to achieve reconciliation with God and the “divine”. Gnostics believe that it is by the deep mystical knowledge “within”, the spark of the divine that we achieve this reconciliation with God. Gnostics believe that through special knowledge/secret/mystical knowledge that one can restore ones divine nature, that the body and all things of this physical existence are imperfect and evil, and through Gnosis alone (divine knowledge), can one be returned to perfection. There are many religious groups that focus on personal efforts (works) to attain redemption (brownie points) with God (or their version of the supreme being). Catholics and Freemasons come immediately to mind, but, there are quite a few more, and sadly there are quite a few religious groups that view the body and all physical pleasures as evil.
So, what does the Bible say about the core beliefs of Gnosticism?
The Bible is very clear that we are to die to ourselves/self, 20 verses about death to self,
Galatians 2:20– ” I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the lifewhich I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.“
Ephesians 4:22-23– “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,“
The Bible is clear that salvation is not acheived through works, works are a natural outworking of the way Jesus changes us when we submit to Him.
Ephesians 2:8-9– ” For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it isthe gift of God;9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.“
What does the Bible say about Gnosticism?
Here are some Bible verses regarding Gnostic ideas, What does the Bible say about Gnosticism? I love the first 3 verses here – 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Colossians 2:8 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. These verses are very clear that we are to pay no attention to worldly empty deception, philosophies and false “knowledge”. These things are the opposite of the simplicity of the Cross and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
““The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
10 “I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.“
It is clear that God speaks through his word about staying away from Gnostic beliefs, so why is it that so many are embracing Gnostic ideas? I believe many folk are not even aware that they are embracing Gnostic ideas, the reason being that these ideas are coming packaged in subtle clothing. There has been a steady saturation of Gnostic beliefs coming from outside of Christendom and also within. These beliefs have quietly and steadily undermined Jesus and the truth of the Gospel, they have undermined the core beliefs of Christendom’s basic tenets.
I believe this undermining is deliberate and a work of the devil to get us to focus on ourselves. Whilst the scripture works to get us to take focus off ourselves, to acknowledge our sin and fallen state, our need for repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation with God through his son Jesus. Satan gets us to focus on ourselves, how amazing we are, how we can do it through our own efforts, the lie that we don’t really need God, that really, He (God) needs us.
When there is a focus on the beliefs that we are to take the world back, in order to make it safe for Jesus to return. That Jesus will come back to us spiritually, to empower us, before he returns physically. That we are really “little gods”. That we just need to “name it and claim it”. That we can be part of a “new breed”, a supernatural army, “Joel’s Army”. That Jesus was just a man and not God, when he was on Earth. That we have “the Christ” within us, the “God Man”, the “spirit man” that makes us sinless and perfect, and that “the Christ” gives us supernatural powers. That we must focus on self and all the good things in this world today, in other words, “our best life now”. That we just have to believe and have enough faith to achieve whatever we want. That we can order God around, and that He can do little unless we give him permission to do it. That lying on the graves of dead Christians will get us anointing from them. That seeking special mantles will give us special spiritual power or seeking to connect with past events or places will also give us special anointing and favour with God, and a whole bunch of other things not mentioned here…..
These are some of the signs that we are embracing the Satanic lie of Gnosticism.
Do you recognise these previous ideas and statements from some of the leading personalities in Christendom today?
Here are some quotes from Bill Johnson of Bethel, can you see the Gnostic ideas in these statements? Yes, I know I pick on Bill Johnson a lot, but he just leaves himself open to it.
” There are anointings, mantles, revelations and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left, because the generation that walked in them never passed them on. I believe it’s possible for us to recover realms of anointing, realms of insight, realms of God that have been untended for decades simply by choosing to reclaim them and perpetuate them for future generations.” The Physics of Heaven – Bill Johnsons Chapter – Recovering our Spiritual Inheritance – (Link)
“The Lord has made it very clear to us that a practical way we can do this is through what we have called The House of Generals. It is both a library and museum containing a collection of historical literature and artifacts from past revivals and revivalists. I have no desire to move backwards. But God has let us know that if we will honor those who walked faithfully before us then He will give us access to their anointings.” Bill Johnson Ministries http://bjm.org/house-of-generals/
“Many prominent pastors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear by assuming that because the New Age promotes it, its origins must be from the devil. I find that form of reasoning weak at best. If we follow that line of thought we will continue to give the devilthe tools that God has given usfor success in life and ministry.” Dreaming with God Page 86 (EPDF)
Where is “Thy will be done”?, where does the will of God come into this Gnostic gospel of self, selfish desire and gain? Gnosticism fills the narcissistic and Luciferian desire to be “as God”. It is Satan’s core lie that he uses to draw us away from God and have us focus on ourselves and sadly he has done a good job. That we can do it ourselves, is totally contrary to what the Bible says. Be on your guard and examine everything that you read and see in the light of scripture. Is the teaching focused on self? Is it focused on how powerful and great you can become? Does it appeal to your need for a mystical experience? Is it telling you that by doing this or that formula, God will bless you? Is it causing you to go inward to empty your mind and allow God to speak to you? Is there any mention of the Gospel, sin, repentance and salvation through none other than Jesus? Is it focused on other paths to God?
All of these things just mentioned, are part of, or lacking in the Gnostic teachings and they are dangerous. Irenaeus was quite correct to come against them in the way he did with his writings. As you look more closely at the teachings of groups such as the Freemasons, Catholicism, NAR and the Emergent Church, you will see the Gnostic beliefs (to a greater or lesser degree) come through. I expect that these types of beliefs will all eventually form a “One World Religion” with the Antichrist leading his “New World Order”. For a brief time it will seem to be a wonderful, tolerant, united and peaceful solution to all spiritual faiths, except, that is, for Christians who understand scripture. These people will be the enemy. Jesus is going to return soon, in the flesh, and will destroy the works of Satan, the Beast and False Prophet and their false religion. I know which side I want to be on when that happens!! You have a choice also. Heed this warning –Hebrews 10:26-31.
RESEARCH. (The author of this article may not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the research material)