The RICHES OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3
+ Enlightened Ones +
Gnosticism is probably the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries and is still a threat to Christianity today. Gnosticism is a twisted form of Christianity. It refers to a wide variety of beliefs and practices that are contrary to Biblical Authority. Defining Gnosticism is not easy for it has many forms. It is not one specific religion, but is manifested even today in most religious circles that oppose orthodox Christianity. It is an umbrella term because it is not a single movement. Its teachings are in liberal churches, cults, the occults, new age, yoga, eastern religions, Hollywood, freemasonry, educational system, music industry, and even politics.
"Until the middle of the twentieth century, most information concerning Gnosticism came from the church fathers who opposed it. However, in 1945 a collection of Gnostic scrolls were discovered in Nag Hammada in upper Egypt which shed more light on their teaching. This discovery confirmed the accuracy of the church fathers in addressing the subject." (Quote)
In this brief article, we will consider the meaning of Gnosticism, the gospel of Gnosticism and the doctrine of Gnosticism. For more information on the subject listen to the sermon I preached on Gnosticism.
The Meaning of Gnosticism
The apostles condemned Gnostic teachings even though they did not use the term in Scriptures. Early church writers in the first and second century rejected the teachings and writings of the Gnostics. They wrote extensively on the subject.
Gnosticism is a mixture of apostate Judaism, Greek philosophy, pagan mythology, and Christianity. It changes the gospel into philosophy. Gnosticism refers to a system of teaching that emphasizes inner knowledge (the awakening of the soul). The word Gnosticism comes from the Greek word Gnosis which means knowledge, which is a distinguishing mark of their beliefs. A Gnostic is one who thinks they know secret things that no one else knows. They claim to be the knower of truth. Gnostics believe they are the elite, enlightened ones, the philosophers who have the spiritual understanding that the masses do not have. Gnosticism is to know what the average Christian does not. Gnosticism is a very prideful way to approach religious matters.
Gnosticism teaches that salvation is this special knowledge or enlightenment, looking to inner self. The Lord Jesus is Savior to them in the sense of being one who provides for spiritual wholeness, by curing us of the sickness of ignorance to the Gnostic. In general, they reject the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the sins of humanity. They also believe Gnosticism was the earliest form of Christianity, but we know this is misleading. Gnosticism is a corruption of orthodox Christianity. (1 John 4:1-2, 2 John 7-11)
The Gospels of Gnosticism
The Gnostics have their own gospels. These Gnostic gospels were written in the second and third century, not the first century when the New Testament was penned by the apostles. Some of these Gnostic gospels are the gospel of Thomas, Philip, Mary, Judas, and Barnabas. There are supposed to be eighty of them, and each one is filled with lies and corruption. The DaVinci Code written by Dan Brown in 2003 says some eighty Gnostic writings has been published in English by Bart Ehrman in "The Lost Scriptures." In this novel, the DaVinci Code, Brown says the Bible was put together by Constantine, and the gospels with human traits of Christ were omitted, and those gospels that made Him (Christ-like) were embellished to promote the Divinity of Christ. He says, these text...are the earliest Christian records and unaltered gospels (page 245)." The problem with this is that the New Testament was written in the first century and the Gnostic gospels were written in the second and third century and were never a part of the Bible. The Gnostics not only wrote their own gospels but also corrupted the gospels written by the apostles. In the New Testament, there was much warning to the church concerning these heresies (Galatians 1:6-12, Colossians 2:18, Jude 3-4, Acts 20:38-31, 1 Timothy 6:18-20, Titus 1:10-16, Revelation 22:18-19).
The Doctrine of Gnosticism
There are a variety of beliefs with many variations among Gnosticism, but most share three core beliefs. The first is a denial of the authority of Scriptures. They not only made drastic changes to Scriptures but considered their own writing as inspired and superior to the Bible. As soon as the New Testament was written a corruption began (2 Corinthians 2:17, 4;2; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Peter 3:16). In the Gnostic gospel of the Book of Judas, the one who betrayed is the hero rather than the traitor. Many modern English versions of the Bible today are from a corrupt line of manuscripts which have changed the Scriptures. For example, the words “Lord Jesus Christ” are changed or removed 438 times in the living Bible, 194 times in the New International Bible, 241 times in the Good News for Modern Man, 199 times in the New American Standard Bible, and 209 times in the Revised Standard Version. This is unacceptable and a good reason to stay with the King James Bible which comes from an uncorrupted line of manuscripts.
The second belief is a distorted view of God. They say that the God of the Old Testament who created all things is a lesser god than the god they follow which is the Supreme God. They mock the God of the Old Testament as a minor deity who made a mess of creation. In other words, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator of the world is not the Supreme being who is good.
The third belief is a distorted view of Jesus Christ. The Gnostic Jesus is not God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), and came not in a physical body, but was only a phantom spirit or ghost. Most Gnostics also say that he did not give himself as a sacrifice for sin on the cross. In other words, he is not the son of God, creator of all things and redeemer of humanity through His sacrifice for sin. For example, in the Gnostic gospel, the apocalypse of Peter "The man whose hands and feet they nailed to the cross was not Christ because Christ did not have a body." Their Jesus came to awaken out of ignorance, not to redeem mankind from their sin (John 18:36, Luke 17:21).
Today, Gnosticism is alive and well. It is a distorted view of Biblical Christianity. Those who follow its teachings will end up in Hell. Please, put your faith in the God of the Bible, believing that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, who gave His life so we could be saved and have eternal life. There must be repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523