Hey 40 Day Fasters! How is the 40 Day Bible Challenge going? You have a little over 1 week left, so congratulations for making it so far! If you’re just joining us, it’s never too late to start the 40 Day Challenge, which is part of our One Year Bible Reading Plan! As promised, let’s get started with the weekly dedicated blog post to equip you as a Christian leader in your community!
It’s been a little less than 2,000 years since Jesus’ time here on earth. We should have our doctrine down by now, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not difficult to come across scripture that gets overblown, taken out of context, and then misinterpreted into new theology! Thank God for the apostles that wrote the books in the New Testament correcting false doctrines.
“The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3,4).
Many heresies relate to two central biblical teachings: the Trinity and the Incarnation. Misunderstanding who God is will lead to misunderstanding what God has done and will do. Knowing the basic teachings of the church will help us identify and respond to heresies still existing today. The following lesson can help you learn just one of the many heresies that thrive in our world today…
“The material world/flesh is evil.”
“Jesus wasn’t actually human.”
“Jesus was a great leader and thinker, but not divine.”
“Salvation comes from knowing divine secrets.”
“Salvation is inside every person.”
“God is one with creation. There is no separation, and everything God has made is divine.”
Have you heard these phrases tossed around? Maybe you’ve seen copies of The Secret, The Power of Now, and other self-help teachings based on an arcane knowledge. Gnosticism runs rampant in popular spirituality (New Age spirituality or Buddhism ring a bell?). Denying one’s flesh, denouncing the physical realm, faith without works… Perhaps you have heard it spoken by a church or Bible study leader? If that’s the case, this group you’re thinking of could be rooted in Gnosticism, and not Jesus. You need to know the difference between truth and myth for loving correction and discernment.
Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge.” Gnostics (ancient and modern-day) preach that salvation can be achieved by secret knowledge or rituals. Keep an eye out for groups that practice this kind of doctrine, as it is bound in legalism, works (without faith), and manipulation. (If you see a group/community that sounds like this, it could be a cult.)
Many Christian scholars, philosophers, historians, and academics challenged specific forms of Gnosticism and wrote powerful critiques to demonstrate how Gnosticism contradicted biblical Christianity. People like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Eusebius spent much time writing in defense of Jesus’s works and nature, the true path to salvation, and the New Testament.
Did You Know…?
Did you know that when God made the world, he called it “good” and blessed it? (Genesis 1-2) Christians need to be careful not to reject this material world. Radical separation of the body and soul is not a biblical teaching. God loves the world he made. He blessed it. We should do likewise.
Free Comparison Chart
Want to learn more about gnosticism and compare it to the Christian Apostle’s Creed? (Just so you know, this is an absolutely fascinating comparative study!) Click here to download this FREE eChart!
To learn about more heresies, check out our pamphlet Creeds and Heresies: Then and Now and equip yourself and those around you to discern false doctrine.