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“You've done a great job of taking care of my car, Mr Jones. You've tuned up the motor, you've polished the car and repaired the dent in the fender, you've even replaced the torn headliner. But I can't accept the car the way it is.”
“Why not? You just said you like all the work I put in on your car, so why can't you accept it?”
“You did a great job with what you did, but you didn't fix the flat tire, which is the reason I brought the car into your garage in the first place.”
Communication involves more than merely accepting what is presented on the surface of a request or statement, it requires that a person listen for the meanings of the words as well as the words themselves.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. (Mat 25:24-25)
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. (Mat 25:7-8)
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mat 7:22-23)
It's not necessarily all the things we do right that we will be judged by, but those things we neglected to do could well be what will get us in trouble. It's for this reason that we must seek for the truth, and not merely accept what someone tells us we are to do in order to please God.
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov 1:1-7)
We humans like to believe that we are in possession of information and wisdom that others are ignorant of. Small children are always declaring that they know a secret that others are not allowed to hear.
We don't outgrow this desire to know things that others are without privilege to. Certain people in particular are so inclined. One such group of people are called Gnostics. Gnostic, in the Greek, means to have a mystical or spiritual knowledge that is available only to the elite.
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? (Isa 8:19)
Witches and clairvoyants, although not classified as gnostics, nonetheless are a people with a form of knowledge that the rest of us are not a party to.
And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. (Luke 11:29
The leaders of the Jews are not the only ones who seek a sign, we all want some kind of evidence that what we are going to stick our neck out for is worth the risk. Jesus provided all the proof required in order to prove that He was who He said He was. When He hung on the cross, they said to Him, “come down from the cross and we will believe.” But even that would not have convinced them, because when He arose from the dead the Jewish leaders did all they could to cover up the fact.
People will believe what they want to believe, regardless of the evidence against the validity of their belief. Because of this I no longer try to convince anyone of anything, because, if they should accept what I say, it only causes that person to stand in doubt of everything, and this with nowhere to go for satisfaction.
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (1Cor 1:21-23)
Notice what Paul is saying: By wisdom people knew not God. Wisdom works against a person being wise, because they have the wisdom of the world, and not the wisdom that comes from God only.
Foolishness, at least foolishness in the eyes of the world, is what God uses to save us. Yet we look for knowledge that doesn't exist through esoteric understandings and rituals, created in the minds of worldly men in sheeps' clothing.
The truth is a stumblingblock to the Jews, and is seen as foolishness to those who seek wisdom, which the Greeks were known for doing. From them we find the great philosophers of times past, the wise men who sought for that secret wisdom that in actuality is unobtainable to fleshly mankind.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. (1Cor 3:19)
The Gnostics wanted to obtain the divine spark that they believed is within them that God plants in each of us. In the Church we might call this spark the Holy Spirit. But that spark of God does not come from searching out secret knowledge, it comes from seeking God. Daniel was told:
And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. (Dan 10:11-12)
When Daniel decided to chasten himself, and to understand the ways of God, he was heard. Paul tells us something similar about himself:
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:24-27)
Paul has seen the prize of the high calling, and is throwing everything he has into obtaining that prize. He seeks the highest garland, not merely to be an also-ran. And this we should do as well. Paul tells us that God has furnished the Church with people with this task in mind. He says:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Eph 4:11-13)
It seems, however, that instead of striving to fulfill this high calling, the leaders of the churches have fallen into preaching esoteric or fictional stories that lead a person astray of the truth, rather than to perfection.
To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isa 28:12-13)
Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity. (Psa 62:9)
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. (Ezek 21:26)
Gnosticism stems from Jewish and early Christian origins where the leaders of the time sought to obtain godly knowledge that was not specified in the Torah, the first five books of Moses. We see where Jesus worked against the superficial strivings of the Jews, desiring that they return to their basic truths. Because of this strivings against Jewish traditions many people believe that Jesus was against Judaism, and was trying to start a new religion. Even today in many, if not most of the churches, it is believed that Jesus did away with Judaism, and that God has excluded them from His future plans. This is not so, and by accepting this idea, the true purpose of God, for the Jews, and for the Church, has been hidden from view.
For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (Cor 1:11-12)
We look at the churches today and we wonder at the many concepts and ideas that these churches have taken on. But what we see, ranging from the Pentecostals, the Catholics, to the Moonies, these are but a tip of the iceberg of all the theories regarding Christianity there are in this world. Some versions of Christianity in fact exclude Jesus from their doctrine, or they consider Him nothing more than an itinerant teacher of quasi-Judaism.
Early Christianity in particular was very diverse in their beliefs, as they tried to understand what the Bible has to say (they not even having a Bible of their own to study). They therefore combined their pre-existing religions into what they were being taught, and came up with some fanciful ideas, that are, to one degree or another, still with us today.
Christianity is not a religion as is supposed by both the churches and the world. It is a experiential condition of the heart, that can not be understood by the carnal mind, nor explained in simplistic terms.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 1:9)
Many of the Gnostics throughout time, and perhaps even today, see Jesus as one of the archangels of Heaven. This shouldn't be too surprising for us of the churches, since many, if not almost all the churches teach that the devil and his angles were once inhabitants of Heaven, Satan being nearly as divine as is Jesus.
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (Mat 11:2-3)
John, who should have known who Jesus was more than anyone else, apparently had doubts since Jesus didn't behave as everyone expected their Messiah would. Some Gnostics therefore believe that Jesus was a false Messiah who perverted the message that John was sent to preach.
When we seek to go beyond what is taught to us by God, we run into false and confusing ideologies.
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. (Act 17:19-22)
The Athenians, as do we today, wanted to learn what message Paul was teaching, beyond the words he was delivering to them. There are Gnostics who want to know the secrets behind what Paul and Jesus taught. They weren't listening to what was said, they were trying to hear what wasn't said. It's through this searching for knowledge beyond the truth that many denominations and religions are formed.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: (Rev 9:20)
Gnostics ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. There were those who worked to deprive their body of sin by living a celibate, even a monastic life; and there were those called Libertines who believed that the spirit of a man was independent of the flesh. Since the spirit is unaffected by the flesh, the flesh was encouraged to partake of sin in order to better understand it, and to reduce its influence upon the person. We laugh at such reasoning, yet in most of the churches this is still believed and taught to one degree or another. It isn't taught in words as much as it is taught by silence regarding the nature and consequences of sin.
Today we have those who openly and acceptably (by the world) worship the devil, and engage in witchcraft. In times past there were what is called the Cainites (after Cain, the brother of Able), who worship not only Cain, but the Sodomites, Korah, and Esau, those God rejected. It's our nature to seek after the forbidden, and some of us do so to an astonishing degree.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? (John 18:37-38)
Everyone wants to believe that they are in possession of the truth. But it takes work, and risk, to discover the truth. In order to find truth, we must first release the idea that we are in possession of any part of truth. Truth is just the opposite of what we might understand it to be, our beliefs only get in the way to finding truth.
Many of the Gnostic concepts came from someone believing they have been called to deliver the truth, truth that contradicted the established beliefs of the day. I suspect that very few, if anyone actually set out to lead people astray, but that they fully believed that they were doing the will of God. This includes such people as Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and Paul. Paul said of himself:
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1Cor 15:9)
And Jesus tell us:
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (John 16:2)
We look at some of the denomination today and wonder how they could be so easily led astray. And while we look at them with a condemning eye, we find that they are looking at us with the same evil stare.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2Thes 2:3)
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Act 20:29-31)
Gnosticism, as well as many of the other sects, was fairly prevalant until the middle ages when they were driven to extinction by the Catholic church. But if we look at the Catholic church, and our own church as well, we can see that certain aspects of these extinct ideologies are still alive, and they are growing as the churches fall into the prophesied apostasy that is now so widespread.
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: (Mark 4:11)
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, (Rom 16:25)
Everyone wants to be the one to know the secrets, the mysteries hidden from the world. Those who are most desperate for this knowledge (“gnosis”) go to such books as the Kabbalah (spelled many ways, such as cabala) in order to find this knowledge. The Kabbalah is said to come about after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, however, as we can see from the way Jesus condemned this knowledge (in a different form), called traditions, it seems fairly clear that it existed from the beginning. Esoteric knowledge, that is, secret understandings, are a part of just about every association, from the sand box to the League of Nations. But any kind of knowledge does not carry any credibility or purpose unless it is put into practice. Of course if that secret knowledge is similar to that of the Libertines or the Cainites, then it best not be practiced.
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Peter 2:19-22)
Having any understanding into the workings of such as the Gnostics is of no value unless we examine our own life and see if we have fallen into the same way of thinking as have they. For myself, I see areas in my life where I have followed the beliefs of one or another such wayward thinker, and was totally unaware of the fact. As I work to overcome the influence such thinking has on me, I find other areas where I have become captive to the devices of the devil. And, what I find particularly distressing is, I find teachings to this effect from the pulpit, where rather than charging the congregation to examine themselves and work to purify their soul, they encourage the people to participate in these errors, in that they are told there will be no consequences to be paid for having gone the way of the Gnostics.
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