Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Gnosticism: It's Not Just an Ancient Problem

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Gnosticism

It's Not Just An Ancient Problem

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Gnosticism: It's Not Just an Ancient Problem

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Gnosticism has been a battle through the ages that the people God has worked with have had to battle. Starting in the Garden of Eden and continuing through today, this system of belief has sought to discredit our need for God and the fact that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. How do we combat this system of belief and its destructive hold on society and its influence in our lives?

Sermon Notes

These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.

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This afternoon, I want to talk about you. How fabulous you are! All of you are so incredibly talented it makes my head spin. You are beautiful. You are handsome. You can do whatever you put your hands to do. It is fantastic to watch you go through your daily living. There is a philosophy that has been accepted by certain groups. Oprah Winfrey has touted it loudly. It has come out in books. Thousands have seen it in movies. But it is not a new philosophy. John the Baptist talked about it. Jesus. John battled to keep it out of the Church. It goes back to Moses, Abraham, and Job. The Israelites were tempted by it. They were encouraged by the neighboring countries and their women. Wasn’t it better in Egypt? But it goes back further to Adam and Eve. If you eat the apple, you too can be a god. They were tempted and fell for it quickly. But it goes back further. Lucifer was the author of this mind set. He has been pushing this since his rebellion against God. That philosophy is that you don’t need God. You just think it and put your heart in it and wow! Look at your success! You can be successful at whatever you put your heart into.

God has been removed from practically everything in our society. There are slogans on our coins, but it is in name only. It is just words on a piece of copper. This society has removed God from virtually everything. You absolutely do need God. The belief that we have about God the Father and His family is our only means of salvation. The root of this is Gnosticism. It is a funny word. It one of those we have all heard of. What exactly is that? If it goes back to Lucifer’s rebellion, and all the way up to Ophrah Winfrey and Hollywood movies, what is it? How does it affect us in this room? This philosophy is prevalent today. It will literally steal salvation from you if you are not careful. We will talk about what it is. Back in the beginning, two things existed: God and matter. Matter was flawed. The farther it traveled from God, the less perfect it became. They believe that the farthest edge of matter was the demiurge. This demiurge despised and hated God. He was full of hatred for God. They believe the demiurge took imperfect matter and made all the beings and worlds we see. How it affects us spiritually, and how the writers of the Bible were affected, is that they believe that it is impossible for God to be made flesh. Matter is imperfect. It is evil and full of bad things. There is no way a perfect God could become something evil. They believe God could not and would not become something evil. So they deny that Christ was the son of God. You can begin making some rationalizations. If Christ was not fully God, where does that leave us? It starts down a very bad road.

1 John 3:24 1 John 3:24And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
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; 4:2-3 Vs. 3 – At baptism, we receive the laying on of hands. After our white board is cleared of sins, that spirit of God is given to us. Here we see what they were battling at this time. Vs. 2 – Do we believe that Jesus Christ was God? Or that there is no way He was God? Vs. 3 – Even John is battling this concept. It was slowly creeping into the Church. Quote from Ken Treybig in Vertical Thought The term Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning "knowledge." Gnostics believe they have secret knowledge about God, unknown to others. As Gnosticism came in contact with various religions, it appears to have "borrowed" terminology from them to describe its basic tenets—that the material universe is evil and that people are divine beings trapped in a material world by an evil spirit, the demiurge. According to Gnostic teaching, in order to free themselves from the evil, material world, human beings need special knowledge, including spells and magical incantations. Since Gnostics generally considered the material universe to be evil, they rejected the idea that God would manifest Himself in a fleshly body. Therefore, when they came in contact with teaching about Jesus Christ being God in the flesh, the Savior who died for our sins, they rejected that and taught that He was only a "good person" or that He only "appeared" to be in the flesh—but was really just an apparition. So these Gnostics go to the extent of saying that Jesus was not God. He was only a good person that came on the scene. Is that what we believe?

Matthew 16:13-17 Matthew 16:13-17 [13] When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? [14] And they said, Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. [15] He said to them, But whom say you that I am? [16] And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.
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Jesus tackled this head on. Vs. 13 – He asked this Gnostic question. Do people believe I’m just a good person? Vs. 17 – Peter calls Him the anointed one. This is not just a good person like the Gnostics believe. Another definition of “Christ” is “Messiah”. You are God in the flesh. Matthew 1:21 Matthew 1:21And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
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Jesus is His name; Christ is His title. Gnosticism says God can’t be human; therefore Christ can’t be God in the flesh. That has gigantic implications for us. Satan introduced this to Adam and Eve, and he is still trying to pump society with it. We have read this before, but it sets the scene for so many things. Genesis 3:4-5 Genesis 3:4-5 [4] And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: [5] For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
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Vs. 5 – Satan: You can get everything you want in life by simply willing it and it will come to you. That is a pretty phenomenal statement. You don’t need God because you are god. You can get anything in life just by thinking it or believe it. The message remains the same today. There is no need for God. There is no need to recognize Christ as our Savior. Satan still puts this message on the airwaves today. When Christ died, He was placed in a tomb. There was one way in and one way out. They put Him inside and rolled a stone in front of it.

Matthew 27 – last part of the chapter. The chief priests and the Pharisees wanted a guard at His tomb. They were afraid His followers would steal His body and claim a resurrection. The chief priests were Gnostics. They didn’t want to lend credence and support to His followers. Thanks to the Father, Christ did something miraculous, and rose anyway. The guards were bribed to say they were sleeping while they stole His body. The point is that Christ is not special. We absolutely do need God in our life, because we simply can’t do it on our own. Before baptism, I put it off a lot. Surely, I could do it alone. The sad reality that came to me was that I can’t do it on my own. I had to have my sins forgiven. I had to have the spirit of God. It was the exact opposite of Gnostic thought. If we could remove our own sins, how many of us would be sitting here? We need Christ as the Messiah. Why? Without God there is no eternal life. Without God, there is no resurrection. Without God we don’t realize we are sinners. There is no savior. There is no spirit in us. We fumble through life without purpose. We need God in our lives. He provides the savior for us. He forgives sins. He encourages a relationship with Him. John 1: It is amazing how many scriptures jump off the page once you realize what Gnosticism is about. Remember how they believe the universe came to be. The demiurge created everything physical. Not God.

John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3 [1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
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Vs. 3 – What does this verse do to the Gnostic belief system? It puts it on edge. They believe it was an evil being that made everything. John says God made the plants and trees and insects. Vs. 1 – “Word” is “Logos” in Greek. It means spokesman or agent. G3056 λόγος logos log'-os From G3004; something said (including the thought); by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specifically (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (that is, Christ): - account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say (-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work.

Thayer Definition: 1) of speech 1a) a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea 1b) what someone has said 1b1) a word 1b2) the sayings of God 1b3) decree, mandate or order 1b4) of the moral precepts given by God 1b5) Old Testament prophecy given by the prophets 1b6) what is declared, a thought, declaration, aphorism, a weighty saying, a dictum, a maxim 1c) discourse 1c1) the act of speaking, speech 1c2) the faculty of speech, skill and practice in speaking 1c3) a kind or style of speaking 1c4) a continuous speaking discourse - instruction 1d) doctrine, teaching 1e) anything reported in speech; a narration, narrative 1f) matter under discussion, thing spoken of, affair, a matter in dispute, case, suit at law 1g) the thing spoken of or talked about; event, deed 2) its use as respect to the MIND alone 2a) reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating 2b) account, i.e. regard, consideration 2c) account, i.e. reckoning, score 2d) account, i.e. answer or explanation in reference to judgment 2e) relation, i.e. with whom as judge we stand in relation 2e1) reason would 2f) reason, cause, ground 3) In John, denotes the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, his minister in creation and government of the universe, the cause of all the world’s life both physical and ethical, which for the procurement of man’s salvation put on human nature in the person of Jesus the Messiah, the second person in the Godhead, and shone forth conspicuously from His words and deeds.

Part of Speech: noun masculine A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G3004 Citing in TDNT: 4:69, 505 The Gnostics believe in light – that is godly. They believe darkness is the demiurge. They believe that the only way to get from the evil side to the godly side was knowledge. John attacks that philosophy in vs. 3. Vs. 4 – Again, connecting these individuals that are trying to overcome with the Father that is giving them the spirit to help them with that quest. Christ is life. And that life is available to us. John has a lot to say about Gnosticism. 1 John 5:11 1 John 5:11And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
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This is not about knowledge. It is about belief in Christ and following His commands. Eternal life is only possible through Christ. It is not about acquiring knowledge as the Gnostics believe. Eternal life is a gift. It means full on adoption into the family of God. Chandler is now cutting grass for us. I will watch that the rows are straight. I help him change the back. Chandler gets to earn some money while he cuts the grass. We can’t earn eternal life. We can’t cut the widow’s grass and expect eternal life. It is a gift from God that can’t be earned or bought. If something is given, there must be someone giving that gift. Gifts don’t just appear; someone has to ship them UPS. That giver is God. I wish some brownies would appear here and some money here. It doesn’t work that way. The giver is God.

In 2006, there was a movie called the Secret. Promotional blurb – The Secret Have you heard The Secret? It is the most important secret for human beings to hear. It holds the keys to human success and understanding why you are here. It is the secret of the most powerful force in the universe. It is the basis for what has been, what is and what will be. (In a matter of months, millions of books were sold.) All the hype is based on the teaching that there is a secret basic law in the universe that says you can have anything you want by wanting it badly enough. Through total and focused desire on what you want, you will automatically attract it to you. That's the law of attraction, the secret that is "the greatest power in the universe.” (Again, this concept. This modern day twist on Gnosticism. You don’t need God in your life. You don’t need to acknowledge the purpose they have for you. That is modern Gnosticism at its best.) Quotes from The Secret:

• The Secret is the Law of Attraction. • Choose your thoughts carefully ... you are a masterpiece of your life.

• EVERYTHING in your life you have attracted ... accept that fact ... it's true.

• What you focus on with your thoughts and feelings are what you attract into your experience.

• When you get the hang of this, before you know it you will KNOW you are the creator. Umm. Pretty difficult ground. Ophrah said that she has always believed and practiced this secret. Gospel of Judas The Gospel of Judas takes a whole different vision of the life, death and purpose of Jesus. (Absolutely; you try to force Christ into a Gnostic model and it is different.) Gnosticism emphasizes special or secret knowledge involving mysticism, cosmology, the angelic realm and the soul. A basic premise of the "Christian" version of Gnosticism was that Jesus was never a real flesh-and-blood human being like us, but only appeared to be human. It absolutely contradicts Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus was a fake and you need to take matters into your own hands. There was another in 2008 called the Moses Code. It claims there is a code that can solve all your problems. Moses Code The key is to follow your heart, not your mind. Your heart is always a better barometer of what Heaven is choosing to add to your life". He is telling you to just believe him by following "your heart, not your mind.” The author gives a new, creative meaning to the Exodus in relating the details of his Moses Code. It was not Almighty God, with independent supernatural power outside the Israelites' control, who freed them from the slavery and genocide of Egypt, he says—rather, by practicing the code they freed themselves. They believed hard enough that the water just parted. You don’t need God. You have everything you need. Just let it be. We need to be careful of TV and movies that intertwine these concepts. Satan wants to get this hook into us. We must be careful of discussions that there is no God and that we have no need of God. That is Satan’s lie: Eat the fruit.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 2 Timothy 2:3-4 [3] You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. [4] No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
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We must be careful that we don’t have itching ears. Let God satisfy that itch. They think that if bad things are happening, you are thinking bad things. Here are some more examples of modern Gnosticism. Cabala. Jewish mysticism. They are into weird stuff you want to stay away from. Buddhism and Hinduism are based on Gnosticism. How about yoga? The Hindu disciple aimed at training the mind. There is a religious philosophy. A state of perfect spiritual insight. You don’t need God. How about the movie Pleasantville? Or the Matrix series? Groundhog Day? The Big O on the cartoon network. Stardate SG1 in later seasons was into Gnosticism. The Police had a song supporting Gnosticism. There were guys at AC that played Alpha Centauri. The human race was struggling against God. You had to acquire knowledge to become one with God. God created a holy day that encourages us to focus on Him. We need God. It is coming September 18th. The Day of Atonement. We fast and go without food and drink for 24 hours. We show our dependence on the physical things. We absolutely need God. Without God we can’t have eternal life or overcome our sins. There are two festivals that teach us about the forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God. Passover and Atonement Passover is us individually. That Christ did something very special for us. Atonement is universal. It takes it a step further than Passover. Sin doesn’t happen without a cause. Atonement pictures the cause – Satan and his demons – being removed. We fast on Atonement to show our dependence on God. Not to make our hair shiny. It expresses our humble desire to draw close to Him. It should not be done to bend the will of God. Hey, help me with this wish list… We shouldn’t receive anything from God except forgiveness.

How long would we last without food and water? Not long. How long would we last spiritually without God? Not long. Without Him, we would perish. If we ranked our seven festivals in order of our favorites, Atonement might be low on our list. We might gloss over it; we are already packed for the Feast. We get eight days of church in a row. We gloss Atonement and focus on the feast. I want you to focus this year on Atonement. The feast will come. We won’t lose our plane tickets or deposits on housing. Talk to God about how much we depend on Him. Try not to skip that day. Acknowledge to God the full dependence we have on Him. Humans have a certain self sufficiency that we are comfortable with. I’m going to do this regardless of anyone else. Revelation 3:17 Revelation 3:17Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
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Vs. 17 – Christ is not saying this; He is just repeating what they say. Do we repeat this in our own way? We have a job. We have a car that runs great. I have friends. If I work hard enough I’ll get a promotion. I have a great job because I went to a great school. I do this; I have this; I’m able to do this. Where does that thinking allow for God’s involvement in our lives? Vs. 17 – I have a great job thanks to my schooling or my maneuverings at work. How does God fit into that picture? You are actually miserable, poor, and blind and naked. Many times, God says, keep my commands and you will be blessed. Where does He say to have a great marriage, do it your way? Or do you have a great marriage by following the biblical principles God has given us. Is it something we have done, or something God has blessed us with? Who gets the credit for the great marriage? For the kids? For the car? You, or God for blessing us?

Revelation 3:18-20 Revelation 3:18-20 [18] I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. [19] As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. [20] Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
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There is no room for selfishness in there. We have acknowledged God and that the Day of Atonement is critically important in our salvation. If we don’t do the things He says and sit back and say I’m comfortable with me, we will be shut out when we want to be let in. We must not be so engrossed in ourselves that we are blind to reality – that we could be lost. The disciples knew with certainty who Christ was. Peter said He was the Messiah. 2 Peter 1:16 2 Peter 1:16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
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Are we witnesses of Christ’s majesty? Or are we blind to the cunning craftiness of Satan? John 21:19 John 21:19This spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, Follow me.
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Don’t do as the Gnostics do. Do think you can just think it or try hard. Christ encouraged us to rely on Him. To realize the full meaning of the Day of Atonement. Peter had no doubt that he was following the Messiah. We must fully accept that Christ is the Messiah. We have to believe that He did create everything. That life is possible through Christ and only through Christ. Stay close to the trunk of the tree. Resist the philosophies that are becoming more blunt in movies and music and books. Ask God to keep us close to Him. We need God. Atonement is coming. Realize the depth of dependence we have on God. Society says we don’t need God, but we know that we absolutely do need God.