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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

The Best Commentary On The Bible Is The Bible Itself
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
 
The Reflections Newsletter

Monday, July 27, 2009

**In This Issue**

  1. The Gospel of Judas
  2. What Does the Bible Say About...?
     

Welcome to the Reflections Newsletter from Reflect His Glory.  RHG is a co-ministry with Creation Science Ministries.  Feel free to send this to your relatives and friends.
 


The Gospel of Judas

 

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables."  2 Timothy 4:3-4  KJV ER

Every few years comes the idea that there are other gospels that have been left out of the Cannon.  Every time these other gospels are brought out into the open, they conger up widespread debate.  One of these 'missing gospels' is found in a 1,700 year old manuscript that claims to tell the story of Christ Jesus' last days from the point-of-view of history's most notorious turncoat.  This so-called "Gospel of Judas" conflicts greatly with the Biblical account and is only one of several non-canonical gospels, often called the "Gnostic Gospels".  Scholars widely agree that none of these texts contain historically reliable information about the life of Christ Jesus, and that all were likely written in the second century or later.  However they do help us learn more about false teachings that early church leaders, like the Apostle Paul, preached against in the book of Colossians, and elsewhere.

Gnosticism is a system of false teachings that existed during the early centuries of Christianity.  Its name came from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis.  The Gnostics believed that knowledge was the way to salvation.  For this reason, Gnosticism was condemned as false and heretical by several writers of the New Testament.  The Gnostics consisted of diverse groups, from high-minded people who abstain from worldly comforts and pleasures to people lacking moral discipline.

Resources

Our knowledge of Gnosticism comes from several sources.  First, there are the Gnostic texts, which are known as the New Testament Apocrypha.  These texts are not recognized as Scripture because they contain teachings that differ from those in the Bible.  Next, there are the refutations of the Gnostics by the early church fathers.  Some of the more important ones are Irenaeus, Against Heresies; Hippolytus, Refutations of All Heresies; Epiphanius, Panarion; and Tertullian, Against Marcion.

The third source on Gnosticism that was used here is the New Testament itself.  Many Gnostic teachings were condemned by the writers of the New Testament.  Paul emphasized a wisdom and knowledge that comes from God and does not concern itself with idle speculations, fables, and moral laxity, shown to us in Colossians 2:8-23; 1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:16-19; and Titus 1:10-16.  John, both in his gospel and in the epistles, countered heretical teaching that, in a sense, can be considered Gnostic.

The Gnostic Gospels

A large number of imitation documents emerged during the centuries following the ministries of the Apostles, that were universally rejected by the early church.  Copies of a group of these were found at Nag Hammadi, in Egypt, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries.  These include The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Truth, and many others.

They are not "gospels" at all, but rather speculative opinions, totally devoid of any verifiable facts.  Furthermore, they were written under false pseudonyms in an attempt to gain legitimacy.  The early church rejected any documents under pseudonyms as being inconsistent with the concept of God-breathed inspiration.  Lastly, they were all written centuries after the Gospel period, in contrast to the contemporaneous eyewitness accounts that we find in the New Testament.

False Teaching

Ethical behavior among the Gnostics varied considerably.  Some sought to separate themselves from all evil matter in order to avoid contamination.  Paul may be opposing such a view in 1 Timothy 4:1-5.  For other Gnostics, ethical life took the form of libertinism, acting without moral restraint, defying established religious precepts.  For them, knowledge meant freedom to participate in all sorts of indulgences.  Many reasoned that since they had received divine knowledge and were truly informed as to their divine nature, it did not matter how they lived.  Such an attitude is a gross misunderstanding of the Gospel.  Paul, on a number of occasions, reminded his readers that they were saved from sin to holiness.  They were not to have an attitude of indifference toward the law.  They had died to sin in their baptism into Christ Jesus, (Romans 6:1-11), and so, were to walk "in newness of life."  John reminded the Christians that once they had been saved they were not to continue living in sin (1 John 3:4-10).

These Gnostic teachings also had a disruptive effect on fellowship in the church.  Those who were "enlightened" thought of themselves as being superior to those who did not have such knowledge.  Divisions arose between the spiritual and the fleshly.  This attitude of superiority is severely condemned in the New Testament.  Christians are "one body", (1 Corinthians 12), who should love one another, (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John). Spiritual gifts are for the Christian community rather than individual use.  They should promote humility rather than pride, (1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:11-16).

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."  Colossians 2:8  KJV ER

 


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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory


What Does the Bible Say About...?

 

In this section of the Reflections Newsletter we answer questions that have been asked.  If you have a question that you would like ask, and do not mind having printed in the newsletter, (your name will not be mentioned), feel free to send your question in an email to me at biblequestions@reflecthisglory.org.  Of course, you may call me anytime by phone at 801.302-1111.

The question for this issue is,  "Please explain Matthew 23.  To whom is Jesus speaking, and what are the circumstances under which these things will happen?"

Christ Jesus is speaking with His Jewish disciples about what will happen in the days just prior to His return.  He elaborates more on this in His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and 25.  However, in both passages, He discusses the persecution that will ensue during the Tribulation.  In the verse that you question, He advises them:

But when they persecute you in this city, flee you into another: for verily I say to you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come,"  Matthew 10:23 KJV ER

Those Jewish people who have not taken refuge in Petra, and similar places, but have stayed out in the open in Israel, will be "on the run" during the Tribulation, trying to escape the Antichrist and his forces.  He goes on to say that the people may have to run from town to town in order to stay safe.  But He also assures them that they will not have run out of places to flee within Israel before He returns at His Second Advent.  This also provides assurance to Israel, as a whole, for their own survival.  Since the Jewish people will not run out of hiding places, Israel will not totally fall to the Antichrist before Christ Jesus returns.

 

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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

 

**MEMORY VERSE OF THE MONTH**

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2 Peter 2:1 KJV ER

Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

 
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"Then Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him,
"
If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed;
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
."

John 8:31-32

  
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory