The Original Heresy, pt IV: Overview.

Thus far, I have gone over some of the core beliefs of Gnosticism, shown you some of the ways that it conflicts with Scripture, and highlighted some of the history involved. We have looked at the Nag Hammadi library, the Corpus Hermeticum, and have even taken a glance at a more modern example of Gnosticism known as “Mystic Christianity”. Now, we need to take a closer look and bring it into focus by showing who they are.

Who are they?

I will begin with a list of the various forms of Gnosticism that have shown up throughout history, along with a brief synopsis of their history and particular belief. Much of it will be unfamiliar, but there will be the odd name here and there that you just might recognize. Do note that this list will not be exhaustive, as the number of Gnostic groups that have sprung up in history is tremendous. If this is a subject that happens to catch your attention, by all means, chase down the information.

Valentinians: Valentinus (100 AD-155 AD) was a second century mystic and poet, who placed great importance in Gnosis. It was for this reason that he was labeled “Gnostic”. He was a disciple of the teacher Theudas who had supposedly been a disciple of Paul. He made the claim that Theudas taught him secret wisdom that Paul had taught privately to those in his inner circle.

According to the teachings of Valentinus, there were esoteric teachings which originated from Jesus who passed them on in secret. When Jesus spoke in public, he used parables that did not disclose his complete teachings; choosing to pass them on privately to His Disciples. He referred to this when he said: “The knowledge about the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but to the rest it comes by means of parables so that they may look but not see and listen but not understand.”(Luke 8:9-10; Ireneus Against Heresies 1:3:1). Similarly, when Paul encountered the risen Lord in a vision (2 Corinthians 12:2-4; Acts 9:9-10), he received the secret teaching from him. Valentinus claimed that he learned this secret teaching from Theudas.

Sethianism: This particular Gnostic sect hails from Egypt and Judea. While some have suggested that they are a pre-Christian Gnostic sect, there are those who would argue that they are also a true Gnostic Christian group.

The Seth that they venerate is Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth, who was born after Cain murdered Abel. He is typically regarded as God’s replacement for Abel, and seen as the father of all mankind, given that he is the direct ancestor of Noah.

According to Jewish texts, dating between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, Adam gave esoteric knowledge to Seth that would eventually form the basis for Kabbalah, the Gnostic form of Judaism. The Book of the Zohar, a book on Jewish mysticism, refers to Seth as the “ancestor of all the tzadikkim” (righteous ones). (Zohar 1:36b)

While their belief structure is primarily Judaic, they also adhere to the standard Gnostic theology, with strong Platonic influence. They regard Seth as being a divine incarnation along the same lines as Jesus, and see his descendants as making up a higher elect within humanity. It is worth noting that Seth is listed as one of Jesus’ ancestors.

Naassene: Known only through the works of Hippolytus, this is believed to have been the earliest Gnostic sect to exist. This sect taught that there were three levels of Man:

1. Material, or Bound: unbelievers held captive solely by physical reality.

2. Psychic, or the Called: ordinary Christians.

3. Spiritual, or the Elect: the few chosen Naassenes.

They taught that the way to enlightenment lay with Gnosis and celibacy, possibly indicating why they did not last very long. There is very little known about the Naassenes, except that their theology was regarded as so close to the teachings of Jesus, they had to be the first to part ways with what would become orthodoxy. In spite of this, what could be drawn out from Hippolytus’ work shows the standard “material existence bad, spiritual existence good” beliefs of the other Gnostic religions.

How to fight them.

Part of me says, “Don’t bother.” The reason why is that they have taken Scripture and twisted it into such a way as to support their idea, and there is not a single thing you will say that will change their mind until they are genuinely ready to listen. At best, you can use the discussion as an opportunity to demonstrate the folly of this belief for the audience, if there is one.

That being said, should you choose to engage a Gnostic, knowledge is power. The more you know about the true history, and the philosophy, the better. I strongly recommend the following books, to further help:

“The Gnostic Gospels”, by Elaine Pagels

“The Fifth Gospel?”, by Nicholas Perrin

“Against Heresies”, by Irenaeus of Lyons

“The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics”, by Jean Doresse

These were of tremendous use in this series, and provided a lot of valuable information. As always, I encourage you to do your own research, and draw your own conclusions.

[Note: On Perrin’s, “The Fifth Gospel?”, this is not a book, it is an article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 49/1 (March 2006) 67–80]

Above all else, trust that the Lord will provide you with what you need. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:19, “do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” Remember to trust Lord Jesus, and not yourself. All else will flow from there.


Missouri Abortion Law Challenged

My wife brought this story to my attention yesterday, and I knew that I had to write about it. If you claim to be Christian, and pro-choice, a position that will never cease to baffle me, then this is something that I think might bring the whole issue more into focus for you. You are literally standing on the same side as Satan. In standing for unrestricted access to abortion, you are siding with the enemies of the Almighty God you claim to follow, and find nothing odd about it.

Consider the following, in the State of Missouri the law requires a three day waiting period for an abortion. The law also requires that someone seeking an abortion must be given the opportunity to see an ultrasound of the baby, must be given the opportunity to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and must be given literature that states that human life begins at conception. The obvious intent, of course, is to discourage women from having an abortion, or at the very least, allow them to make a fully informed decision. Sadly, this means that many women will have no excuse when they must stand before the Lord, and answer for shedding innocent blood.

In the case presented here, what we have is a situation where a member of a Satanic temple has challenged the law, claiming that it violates her religious freedom because she neither wanted the literature, the doppler/ultrasound, nor the waiting period. Let me say this again. A worshiper of SATAN wants to change Missouri law so that it would be easier for her to murder her unborn baby.

Have any of you ever wondered at the odd turn of events when Satanists and Christians might stand on the same side of an issue?! If I’m not mistaken, Scripture has a lot to say about this, and the basic message is: DON’T!!! How much clearer can this be? If it is something that Satanists want so badly they’re going to fight it out in open court, then it is something we ought to be fighting against! Rather than backing their play, the Children of Almighty God ought to be in there facing off against them!!!

Not only did Jesus speak to this, but so did Paul, James, Peter, and all the rest. Consider 2 Corinthians 6:14,

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

What does it mean to be yoked with someone? It means to be in relationship with them, to be bound to them, to have common cause with them. This applies just as much in marriage relationships as it does in championing a political cause; in this case, a cause in which people wish to murder the weakest among us in the name of Satan! How far have we fallen as a society when Satan no longer feels the need to hide his activities?! Now, I am neither making things up, nor am I imagining things. These people genuinely worship Satan, and I don’t mean in the metaphorical sense, as they claim. I mean in the literal, they-have-knowingly-forsaken-Almighty-God sense. What does God say about people like them? Isaiah 5:20, KJV,

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Does this mean that we cannot be friends with unbelievers? No. What it means is that we must avoid any entanglements with people who would lead us away from God, and this includes supporting any political ideologies that violate the Laws of God. What it also means is that the Lord has something in mind for those who make a free-will, conscious decision to defy Him at every turn. You do not want to get caught in the crossfire when that happens, and it will.

It is because of this that I have, on more than one occasion, turned my back on longtime friends, and even family, for the sake of my God. Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-39,

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Too many people, in behaving in a manner that they think is more Christ-like, are compromising the Gospel Truth that they are charged with sharing with the world. The end result is that they will find themselves compromised and in a position where they must choose between their God, and His Enemy. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus speaks to just how far we must be willing to go to follow Him,

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

To make things a bit more clear, consider Matthew 7:21-23,

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 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? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Now, let us bring this entire message together. We are COMMANDED to love God with all our hearts, our minds, and our spirits. We are COMMANDED to chuck it all in, and follow Him, even if it means that the world hates us, curses us, and seeks to kill us. We are COMMANDED to oppose that which God opposes, and support that which God supports, and He has NEVER been ambiguous about ANY of this. We need only pick up a Bible, and see what it is that God loves, and what He hates, and take our cues from that. Yet, some would ignore these facts, and stand in support of people who dedicate their lives to doing what God hates and what Satan loves! What exactly is it that we are missing here?! How did we, as a society, get to the point where we turn a blind eye to the wanton, murderous sacrifice of babies, and still have the temerity to call ourselves civilized?!

Here is my challenge to you, the pro-choice Christian. You have a decision to make, and neutrality is not an option. Do you wish to BE a Christian, to follow the commands of your Almighty God, or do you wish to turn your back on Him, and become a friend to the world? Take your time, choose wisely, this is literally for all of the marbles.

Gnosticism, the Original Heresy, pt. I

As I have already covered one heretical system, Mormonism, we will go ahead and count this as the second post in the series. This post will cover a heresy so ancient Paul was refuting it in his epistles, and so incidious we can still find it hiding in plain sight in most mainstream Denominations today: Gnosticism.

To begin, here are a couple of definitions, as ever, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

Gnosticism (γνωστικός, pronounced gnostikos): the thought and practice especially of various cults of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis.

Gnosis (γνῶσις): esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth held by the ancient Gnostics to be essential to salvation.

[Note: Merriam-Webster definitions do not include the words in the original languages. The original Greek provided comes courtesy of Strong’s Concordance.]

This definition is more than a little oversimplified out of necessity, as the topic of Gnosticism is a far-reaching topic, one with a history that begins two centuries before Jesus, and continues at least two centuries after. During the course of this post, we will take a stroll through the history of Christian Gnosticism, and cover some of the beliefs, with only a nod toward the thinkers who pre-date Jesus, and deal with its impact on modern theology. More will be covered in later posts as there is simply too much information for one post. As with my series on Mormonism, this will likely take up three or four posts.

In The Beginning…

The actual Greek movement, known as Gnosticism, is believed to have begun in the Second Century. This movement incorporated aspects of Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian Scripture, turning it into an amalgamation of the two.

The core beliefs of Gnosticism are as follows:

  1. Physical existence is evil, and the non-material, spirit-realm is good.
  2. There is an unknowable God, who gave rise to many lesser spirit beings called Aeons.
  3. The creator of the (physical) universe is not the supreme god, but an inferior and evil spirit known as the Demiurge.
  4. Gnosticism does not deal with “sin”, only ignorance.
  5. To achieve salvation, one needs gnosis.


This branch of Platonic philosophy emerged in the Third Century, and owes it’s influences to philosophers such as Ammonious Saccas, and Plotonus (204-270 AD). Their influence can be seen in the works of the Nag Hammadi library, and the Corpus Hermeticus, all of which incorporates the idea that physical reality is evil, that spiritual existence is good, and that one may only be saved by the possession of special, hidden knowledge. A modern example of Christian Gnosticism would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who believe that Jesus’ resurrection was not a physical one, but rather a spiritual one.

This system doesn’t so much center around  a set of ideas, as it does a series of thinkers. From Plotinus to Porphyry, Iamblicus, and a few others, they all had an influence on both Hellenistic Greece and early Christianity. It was so influential that Muslim, Jewish, and Christian scholars were discussing Neoplatonism for centuries beyond, and they still are, to a certain extent.

Gnosticism Today

When I was in my early twenties, I had occasion to go live with my grandparents while I was trying to get myself established. My step-grandmother is a Wiccan, and my grandfather was Gnostic. I’d never heard the term before, so I had assumed he meant “agnostic”. Only now, that I’ve had the chance to study Gnosticism, has it occurred to me that he was a Gnostic. In hindsight, I can remember that he told me that sin is not what we were taught it is, but rather another word for ignorance. I did not know any better, so I did not think to ask too many questions. In hindsight, I realize that I should have.

While there are true Gnostics to be found in Pagan circles, we must contend primarily with the Christian Gnostics. To varying degrees, Gnosticism has either infiltrated our doctrines and theology, or it is found at the root of our doctrine and theology. Mormonism, for example, has a very strong Gnostic streak through it. The LDS church teaches that physical existence is evil, that spiritual existence is good, and that salvation and exultation are found in the special knowledge entrusted only to Joseph Smith, Jr., and his followers. In fact, if you are not reading his translation of the Bible, you are likely reading the wrong book altogether. Do not forget that the LDS Articles of Faith state that the Bible is the Word of God, so long as it is translated correctly.

Likewise, any church that teaches that physical existence is evil, that only spiritual existence is good, and/or anything else in line with the teachings of Gnosticism, is just as guilty as the Mormons. If you are teaching this, stop! It is heresy! Every time you declare the world to be evil, without making the distinction between the world of Man, and the planet we live on, you are declaring evil what Jesus declared “Good” on the sixth day of creation! I can well imagine He might have something to say about that.

A Lesser God?

According to their beliefs, Gnosticism teaches that our universe was created by an evil being known as the Demiurge. It also teaches that the Demiurge is not the Most High God, but rather a lesser god who only claims to be the Most High God. Additionally, it teaches that Jesus was sent by the Most High God to essentially fix what is wrong with physical existence. None of this is borne out in Scripture, but they have that covered.

Sin is Sin

According to Gnostic teachings, sin is nothing more than ignorance, and they believe that sin is only mitigated through the acquisition of esoteric knowledge. In other words, salvation comes only through study, meditation, and prayer, and not through faith or even works. It’s worth noting that some scholars also find a heavy Buddhist influence in Gnosticism, in case any of you were wondering.

In order to support their position, they go to great lengths to reinterpret Scripture, and turn it into a mangled version of itself. For example, I once debated a Gnostic who claimed that the Torah was not a historical record, but rather a coded message based on the deeper meanings of the early proto-Hebraic language, and that it fully supported Gnosticism. He also claimed that there is no connection between the Old Testament and the New, especially where Jesus’ teachings were concerned.

While Hebrew does have shades of meaning to the language, so much so that a lot of subtext does not make it into most English language translations, what he was proposing was so utterly ridiculous and contrary to thousands of years worth of Judeo-Christian scholarship that it absolutely left me wondering if he was actually joking. Sadly, I was to learn that he was absolutely sincere about what he was saying.

Each and every Scriptural point I made against his position, and there are many to be made, was greeted with a linguistic deconstruction of the Scriptural reference in ways that simply twisted it beyond recognition. Even when I pointed to passages where Jesus Himself was quoting directly from the Torah in the traditionally understood context, he responded by saying that it could not be the right interpretation because (insert linguistic breakdown here). He was so slippery, it was difficult to nail down an effective argument.

What I did find a bit effective, when dealing with the topic of sin, was the whole of the Tanakh. Even if they dismiss the Torah, you still have the Nevi’im (prophets) to work with, as well as the Kituvim (writings). Isaiah, for example, spoke extensively on the topic of sin, and how the Lord defined it. (Isaiah 1 for example) It is contextually defined in Scripture as the intentional separation of Man from God, through the violation of His Mitzvot (Commandments).

As Jesus came to stand as propitiation for the Sin of Mankind, any system that offers up Salvation but avoids the topics of Sin and the Wrath of God is easily and demonstrably false. That is just one of the crimes for which Gnosticism is guilty, there are more. The Gnostics have caused no end of problems for the Church, and we cannot be lax in our dealings with their heresy.

Coming up in Part II, The Gnostic Gospels, we will cover the history and teachings of this collection of heretical works.

What are the Standards of Heresy?

“Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself,” (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies” 1.2)

[Note: For this post, we will need to define a few terms, so that we are all on the same page. Each definition presented comes courtesy of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the dictionary I tend to use most often, so if any wish to take issue with the definitions I have presented, take it up with the people who compile the dictionary, and not this guy.]

Heresy: adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma

Dogma: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church 

In Christian terms, a heresy is a false teaching that contradicts what is found in the Bible. A person who teaches or believes such teachings is known as a heretic. Any Church doctrine, policy, practice, or teaching is heretical if it does not find justification in Scripture. Examples of heresy found within the Christian realm would be ArianismModelism (Sebellianism), GnosticismDecisionism, and the Prosperity Gospel. These are doctrines and teachings for which there is little to no Scriptural basis, as they either deny the Triune nature of God, the deity of Jesus, other essential Christian Doctrines and/or Jesus’ teachings in whole, or in part. In this post, we will take a look at what constitutes heresy, and maybe dispel a few myths that might be associated.

Where to Begin?

This post will be the beginning of a series on the various heretical teachings that can be found out there. Admittedly, I have already covered one such heresy, Mormonism, but that is just one of a whole host of heresies that the Church as whole has been unable to shake. As such, I will not be going into tremendous detail relating to the specific heretical teachings in this post, just giving a basic overview. While the names of some of these teachings might not be very familiar to some of you, their modern equivalents will ring more than a few bells, and my hope is that you will come away with more information with which you can use to disarm any arguments. Jesus did warn us about false prophets, false doctrines, and false teachers (Matt. 7:15-20), and these constitute some of the most dangerous of them.

To begin, we will discuss what the word Heresy means. It originates from the Greek word αἵρεσις (airesis), which means “choice, opinion” (Strong’s Greek Concordance #139). While the word did not originally carry the negative connotation it has been given today, the Church was beset early on by a variety of disparate and patently false ideas and teachings that ran counter to Orthodoxy. Though it was never their original intent to do so, these various teachings forced the early Church to deal with these heresies by answering the questions that arose from their teachings. One example of this is the Council of Nicea.

The Council of Nicea (325 A.D.)

This famous ecumenical council is the go-to for many anti-Christian critics when they want to attack the Doctrine of the Trinity, as well as the age and authorship of the Gospel accounts. They also erroneously insist that the Council named Christianity as the official state religion of the Roman Empire, at the direction of Emperor Constantine. (This actually took place roughly 55 years later, in 380 A.D., under Emperor Theodosius I with the Edict of Thessalonica.) I have lost count of the number of times a Unitarian or an Atheist has gleefully said to me, “You do know that the New Testament was written in the Third Century, right?” Sadly, this historically unsupported lie is really difficult to uproot, and I blame popular media and intellectual laziness for it.

No thanks to the efforts of people like Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code“, people have formed the opinion that Jesus was married, that He fathered a child, that He was only a man, and that the New Testament canon did not exist prior to this council. In “The Da Vinci Code”, for example, the character Sir Leigh Teabing insists that Jesus had been just a man prior to the Council of Nicea, and that one of the issues decided by the council was His divinity; basically stating that Jesus was an extraordinary man one day, and God the next,

“until that moment in history Jesus was viewed by many of his followers as a mighty prophet, as a great and powerful man, but a man nevertheless. A mortal man.” -Sir Leigh Teabing, “The Da Vinci Code”

Of course, this could not be farther from the truth, but the issue with popular opinion is that it is popular; blasphemy or no. Most people simply want to accept these ideas without ever trying to find out if they are true, and seem utterly confused when I point out that Dan Brown is not in fact a historian.

Once you take all of that into consideration, there is a question that does come to mind. If New Covenant canon and Jesus’ divinity were not in fact decided at the Council, what was the purpose to it, then? Why did they call the council, and summon every Bishop from the Christian world to what is now Turkey? Well, the primary purpose to the council was to address the heretical teachings of an Egyptian Presbyter named Arius of Alexandria. The main thrust of his teachings, known as Arianism, is that Jesus, though divine, was nothing more than a created being. He was not God incarnate, and there is no Trinity.

A modern day example of Arianism is Islam. Though not a part of Christianity, this is exactly what the Qur’an teaches about Jesus and God. Occurring a few centuries before the birth of Muhammad, the Council of Nicea excommunicated Arius and his followers, many of whom migrated to the Arabian peninsula and formed their own communities in places like Mecca, the hometown of Muhammad ibn Abdullah. Islam was heavily influenced by the Arian heresy, which shows in the Quranic approach to the Trinity. Take Qur’an 4:171 for example,

Those who say, “God is the Messiah, son of Mary,” have defied God. The Messiah himself said; “Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” If anyone associates others with God, God will forbid him from the Garden, and Hell will be his home. No one will help such evildoers. Those people who say that God is the third of three are defying [the truth]: there is only One God. If they persist in what they are saying, a painful punishment will afflict those of them who persist. Why do they not turn to God and ask his forgiveness, when God is most forgiving, most merciful? The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a messenger; other messengers had come and gone before him; his mother was a virtuous woman; both ate food. See how clear We make these signs for them; see how deluded they are.” (emphasis added)

What the council resulted in was less than ideal for Emperor Constantine, who had just legalized Christianity within the Roman Empire. He had presided over the council hoping to bring about unity within the Church. The result was the excommunication of Arius of Alexandria, the expulsion of his followers from the Church, and the formulation of the Nicene Creed, which is as follows:

“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

This creed had been meant to be as much a repudiation of Arianism as it was a declaration of an official Church position on the topic of the Trinity. It is worth noting that this creed is just as valid for Protestant Christians, Orthodox Christians, and any other type of true Christians, as it is for the Catholic Church. The reason why resides in the meaning of “catholic”. According to Merriam-Webster, catholic means, “of, relating to, or forming the church universal”. This creed is a basic overview of what true Christianity teaches. (In case any are wondering, yes, I will eventually address the Catholic/Protestant schism, and will weigh in on whether or not I believe Catholics are Christian. All in due time.)

How Did They Decide?

How did the ecumenical council at Nicea arrive at the conclusion they did? This moment in history did not show up out of nowhere. Considering that these men had spent their entire lives being persecuted for their faith, it is clear that compromise was not anywhere on their minds. Yet, two of the three groups attending were able to hammer out a consensus statement that has withstood the test of time. They had to have had some basis for this decision.

The groundwork was laid centuries before, when the Apostles and Disciples began their writings. Modern biblical scholars agree that the books and letters we now know as the New Testament, or New Covenant, had all been written before the early part of the Second Century. Over the course of the next few centuries, the early Church fathers wrote sermons, homilies, and letters, all of which account for such a huge volume of text that one could reconstruct virtually the entire New Covenant Scripture from them. These collected volumes of work are commonly referred to as “Patristic writings”. Through this, modern scholars have not only been able to determine what it is that was considered Scripture in those days, but also see how they interpreted what that Scripture said. Through this, they are able to determine whether or not something is sound doctrine.

One of the things they have been able to determine is that the entire New Covenant canon was unofficially laid out by the middle of the Second Century, and that the Council of Nicea simply made official what had already been put into place by the Christians themselves. This means that several key doctrines were already established by the time of the council, including the Doctrine of the Trinity, the Doctrine of Regeneration, and the Doctrine of Salvation by Faith.

History also shows that Arianism was not the first heresy to be addressed by the early Church. Contained within Paul’s writings are hints of heresy beginning to appear in the congregations at Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and Galicia. It would appear that a Greek philosophical belief known as Gnosticism was very quickly introduced into the Church, forcing Paul to address it just as quickly.

The Standard in the Text

If you were to go back through the Nicene creed what you would find is a direct reference to one of the ways the council arrived at their conclusions. One line states, “according to the Scriptures;”. Not only did they have access to the Patristic writings, but they also had Scripture itself to help them make a determination about whether or not Arius was correct in his teachings. As I have previously pointed out, the texts that point to Jesus as the Divine Messiah are extensive, so they would not have had to look far.

In addition to Scripture, and the Patristic writings, the men at the council also had access to the scholarly tradition of the Jews, along with that of early Christian scholars who had been in operation since the earliest times. Between these sources, we know that three is a definite standard. We begin with Deuteronomy, Chapters 13 & 18, which of course outlines how a person would be able to judge for themselves who would be a true prophet of God and who is not. These two chapters also provide an outline, an absolute standard that teachers must follow when teaching the Word of God.

The standard is:

  1. The teachings must not go against the Commandments, rules, or the expressed wishes of God, given through His Word.
  2. It must be consistent with the rest of the Bible, i.e. history, philosophy, and science must match up with what is known about the world around us.
  3. The interpretations of Scripture must be consistent with the original languages, culture, and history.
  4. They must be consistent with the teachings of the early Church, as found in the Patristic writings.

Their Reasons Were Not Self-seeking

There are some people out there who maintain that the theologians at Nicea came to their conclusions in order to consolidate their own power. What they fail to realize is that these men had survived to see the end of three centuries of outright persecution, having spent much of their lives facing the real threat of imprisonment, starvation, torture, and horrific execution. They had been abused, discriminated against, and outright persecuted for their faith, all without refusing to waver or recant. These were not the type of people who would have been concerned with their own comfort, or their own fortunes, and that is why they would not have been seeking to consolidate their own power. These were men of faith and substance who knew what they were about. In short, compromise was not in their vocabulary, which was unfortunate for Emperor Constantine because compromise was exactly what he had wanted.


As you can see, there are definite challenges that one must face in order for one’s teachings to be considered biblically sound. Decisions one way or another must not ever be made lightly, as this deals directly with matters relating to Salvation. The men of the council were clearly not motivated by greed or avarice, but rather Truth. While it might be possible that some members of the council might have had such motivations, it would be illogical and irrational to suggest that the majority or even the entirety of the council was.

What this means for the topic of heresy is that we get a clear standard of proof that cannot be disputed. The Council of Nicea is just one example of the Church dealing with heresy, and shows how that is to be done. When faced with a teaching we think might be heretical, our first stop is found within the pages of that wondrous volume of books made up of the Word of God. Delve into Scripture and determine for yourself the validity of a given teaching. Do be mindful, though, and check your understanding of Scripture with the Source. Never forget to go the Lord prayer and ask for understanding.

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” -1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV

The Continued Depravity of Our Time

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20, KJV

I am writing this on the heels of the blog post I have just shared. When I read through that post, I could not shake the feeling that there was more that needed to be said. In an effort to draw out what that might be, I went and visited the website for the #shoutyourabortion! movement, and was not disappointed. ( There they were, happily showing me what more needed to be said.

I’ll begin with a statement made right on the website, “Abortion is normal. Our stories are ours to tell. This is not a debate.” Let’s take a moment and just unpack that one statement, shall we?

First, the overall tone is one of defiance and a bit of fear. The person who came up with this line was seeking to create a rallying cry, a statement that everyone could rally behind, and find courage in the idea that there is strength in numbers. Anyone familiar with Texas history would know what this is, given that the forces under Santa Ana were defeated under the rallying cry of, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”.

Used properly, these cries become an amazingly unifying force, even bringing rivals together to fight for a common goal. For Pro-Lifers, one example would be, “End Abortion Now”, and it’s a statement I stand firmly behind. This statement is one that Pro-Lifers of many stripes can get behind, whether they are Christian, Jew, or Atheist, it is a shared goal.

When used incorrectly, you have examples like this, in which people are being asked to stand behind something so morally reprehensible that it brings to mind Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and Communist China. In other words, it brings to mind mass-murder and genocide, all of which Hitler, Stalin, and Mao worked very hard to justify through some of the same means.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, estimates show that there have been an excess of 60 million abortions performed in the U.S.; a number that doesn’t take into account the number of chemically induced abortions. That is a number that Pharmacists for Life International estimates to be roughly 250 million! (, and

When those figures are combined, that number reaches an astonishing 310 million abortions! For comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that our current population is somewhere north of 321 million people, with a difference of approximately 11 million people! Try to wrap your head around that, 310 million babies killed! That is a number that is comparable to the entire population of our country!

This number actually dwarfs the number of people murdered by their own governments, an act known as Democide, in the 20th Century! Estimates place the total number killed by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pohl Pot, and Castro at approximately 120 million, and our nation alone has managed to eclipse that number by nearly 100 million people! Good Lord, forgive us for sitting on our hands and allowing the slaughter of innocents to take place right under our own noses.

Next, we tackle the statement, “Abortion is normal”. Really? Well, if it were actually normal, then they would not have felt the need to make such a statement. In effect, they are saying that murder is normal. Abortion is murder, so their logic dictates that murder is normal, right? When last I checked, there is nothing normal about murder, and this certainly does not change this fact.

According to Embryology texts, each zygote produced at the moment of conception is a unique and individual human being, separate and genetically distinct. Thus, the Pro-Life assertion that an embryo, or a fetus, is a human being is a position backed by both the Bible, and science. Taken together, that can be counted as a certainty.

Now, Merriam-Webster defines murder as, “the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.” The Bible holds a similar definition, in that one must be justified in the taking of a human life, or else it is murder. In Exodus 20:13, for example, there is the clear command to not commit murder. The word used, ratzak (Strong’s H7523), translates as “murder”.

Taking both points and bringing them together, we can show that:

1. Unborn children are in fact human beings, and deserving of human rights, by extension.

2. That murder is the unjustified taking of a human life. As no one can come up with any form of legal or moral justification for an abortion, then abortion is murder.

3. That our civilization, when you count up the number of all abortions carried out in all Western nations since the first time a nation decriminalized abortion, is guilty of facilitating and/or carrying out the worst campaign of mass-murder in history; to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people murdered.

More than 300 million in our nation alone, and that is only an estimate. What makes it worse is that our birth rate is already in the basement. In order to maintain a viable population, as well as to maintain our cultural integrity, there is a hard minimum of children born per woman, and we are falling far short of it.

For a developed country, that number is 2.1, according to the NIH. The NIH also states that the birth rate in our country is presently 1.74 for native born Americans. At this point, our saving grace is immigration from countries with traditionally higher birth rates than ours, as they are making up for our shortfall. What this means is that native-born people in this country stand a very good chance at being completely replaced in the foreseeable future. This is not a racial thing, either. It applies all across the board, white, black, asian, Native, etc.

Next, the assertion that their stories are theirs to tell. Well, I can hardly argue with this point. They say that confession is good for the soul, and telling one’s story can be a form of confession if they have committed a crime. As these women are guilty of murdering their own children, telling their stories could count as a confession.

I’m sure God is all ears, so let it out. Confess your sins to the Lord, repent before Him, and change your life. Oh, you are proud of what you did? Well, that counts as a whole other matter, does it not? He has had no small amount to say about the unrepentant, and it does not bode well for the people in this movement.

Finally, we come to “This is not a debate”. When someone is holding a position they absolutely believe in 100%, they will not worry a moment over a challenge to their position. For example, if you were to read back through my posts, you will note that I not only invite dissenting voices, but pledge to respond to critics first. Why? I am not afraid of being wrong, and am 100% convinced of my position.

Contrast this with the statement found on this website. They do not wish to discuss or debate, which leads one to wonder if they are not aware on some level that they are 100% wrong. Only pride and/or shame would make someone hide from Truth, which is why pride is the deadliest of sins. For the people in this movement, can anyone guess which motivator is the driving force behind their unwillingness to hear a single dissenting voice?

Fighting Through Brokenness

I am going to take the teacher’s hat off for this one. My intent for this post is to bring to your minds a few things I had taken for granted, such as the existence and machinations of demons. They are very much real, as real as you or I, and fighting them is seldom ever anything like the movies. What I am about to describe is not a work of fiction, nor was it my imagination. The events described happened, my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, all happened. This is all very personal to me, so bear that in mind as you read this.

A few months ago, I had the fortunate misfortune to take a trip to Ft. Polk, Louisiana. My unit went there for a training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). The food was horrendous and only marginally edible, the climate sucked (by our count we only had five days without rain), and we were very quickly reminded of just how low the Active Army’s opinion is of the National Guard by their casual disregard of our multiple requests for basic medical supplies that any other unit would have received in a heartbeat. That our Sappers outperformed their Active Duty counterparts at every turn only seemed to cement their utter disdain for us. Our commander’s foul mouth, and take-no-prisoners attitude certainly did not endear us to higher command, either. This was a once in a lifetime experience, or at least it was for me. Even if I were to decide to stay in the National Guard, I would absolutely refuse to go back to that place if given the choice.

Why do I refer to this trip in the terms that I do? Why do I say that I would refuse to go back if given the choice? During our training rotation I was asked what I thought of the exercise, and my response was, “This place has done so much for my spiritual life. I’ve never prayed so hard to get out of a place than I have since arriving here.” First, not long after we arrived everyone had to turn in their cell phones. For two and a half weeks we had zero contact with the outside world. No news, no calls home, no internet. For a man who is hopelessly in love with his wife and kids, this was pure, unadulterated torture.

Second, for more than two weeks our food choices consisted almost solely of MRE’s. While I am told it is better than starving, I can honestly say that I had eventually hit the point where the idea of going without eating had begun to take on a certain charm. Any longer, and I might have decided to go on a hunger strike until someone found a way to have Pizza Hut delivered to our simulated war zone. Ah, First World problems…

Third, chaos and disorder were the order of the day. We spent so much of our time mired in confusion that a certain 4 Non Blondes song became our official “unofficial” anthem, as we would repeatedly belt out that iconic line, “What’s goin’ on?!” While chaos and disorder are how the Army normally operates, this was on a level that was as impressive as it was unnecessary.

Now that you have either laughed, cried, or stared at your screen in confusion, we come to the fourth and most serious point: the warfare. Now, I’m not referring to the simulated combat (in which my unit managed to kick serious tail. Even our HQ element, as they were being overrun by a numerically superior force, managed to inflict serious causalities…or would have if OpFor hadn’t been cheating), but to the very real spiritual battle that took place on a daily basis while all of that comedy was happening.

Less than a week after we had arrived, I noticed that my dreams had begun to take a very odd turn. Not so much while I was still able to speak with my wife, but once the phones went away, I could not avoid the very dark turn my dreams had taken. On a nightly basis, I was assailed by nightmares that told me that my wife was cheating on me, that I knew about it, that I had allowed it to happen, and one dream even featured my wife’s voice telling me that she had picked wrong (meaning me). This went on for more than a week, robbing me of sleep, making me edgy and irritable, and basically making life even more miserable than it already was.

During this time, I had gotten into the habit of reading my Bible for 15 minutes every night before turning in. In this way, I read through all of Paul’s epistles, as well as the works of James, Peter, the Book of Revelation, and all of the others by the time we left Ft. Polk. In short, I read the entire New Testament, minus the four Gospels, in the span of two-and-a-half weeks.

Throughout the first week, I began feeling increasingly uneasy, anxious, and irritable. I began to withdraw a bit from the guys I was moving with, and just did not feel all that much like socializing. It did not help that one of the people I most often traveled with was our unit’s chemical warfare specialist (to any vets reading this, especially those who carry that particular MOS, I’m simplifying for civilian readers), and she is not an easy person to deal with under the best of circumstances. Between her unabashed belief that there is no God, and that life is just a “perfect storm of cosmic circumstances” (her words), and her constant whining about how life was so much better at Division, it eventually became difficult to be anywhere near her.

One morning, about a week and a half into the rotation, we were preparing to move from one town to the next, in order to link back up with the headquarters element when the anxiety came to a head. I was alone, grabbing my gear, and preparing to load up when my throat felt like it was closing, and I felt like I was about to collapse in tears. I just felt like I was at the end of a rope, and dangling over a fire. For just a moment, things seemed utterly hopeless. It was a full-blown anxiety attack!

It was in that moment that I lowered my head and began to pray. I told the Lord that I was not strong enough to bear up under the burden, and I asked Him to help me. In that instant, it all went away. No more anxiety, no more pain, no more fear. I felt nothing but resolve and certainty that I was going to make it through, and that no one had anything that I could not handle because of Who I have in my corner. Let me tell you, this is an amazing feeling.

It was not too much longer after this moment that I found out I was not alone. One of my friends, also a strong believer in Jesus, informs my Platoon SGT that he was mad at him for the first few days we were there because he had dreamt that his wife had cheated on him with the Platoon SGT. Their conversation got me to thinking about the origin of my dreams, and that overwhelming anxiety. Why was it that the believers in the unit were all having these really odd dreams? Why was the atheist chem. expert becoming increasingly agitated, even more than normal for her?

I eventually realized that there was something there, either in Ft. Polk or throughout the State of Louisiana, that was playing havoc with people. Given the hedonistic nature of Mardi Gras in NOLA, I do not doubt the presence of a Strongman over the whole state. On an abstract level, I found myself curious if infidelity and divorce were common on-post (moreso than usual). Given the thoughts racing through my head all day, and the dreams at night, it seemed to me that there likely were a lot of other people suffering through many of the same torments.

I eventually got to the point where I would immediately rebuke and reject every stray negative thought and image that ran through my head. In doing that, I very quickly realized that I would be fighting my way through this experience, tooth and nail. Y’all have to understand, those kinds of thoughts are unusual for me. I’m not the jealous type, and I have no doubt in my mind that my wife is not the cheating kind. If I had had a single doubt, I would not have married her.

As we moved through the training rotation, I would spend every moment I had to spare either praying or reading the Word. It consumed every moment I had available and was, as it turns out, building up to a very specific moment that I did not see coming: the night I finally cried out to God.

We were near the end of the event, and were camped out. As I was setting up my one-man tent, my heart began to feel like a lead weight. The sun was setting fast, the temperatures were dropping rapidly, and it was beginning to rain. In short, the night promised to be miserable.

As I lay in my sleeping bag, listening to the rain patter on my tent, I began to pray. As I was praying, I felt this massive upwelling of emotion deep inside. In short order, it all flooded out of me, and I lay there praying helplessly as I cried like a baby. I prayed for my two oldest children, both of whom are estranged from me. I prayed for my wife and my other children, for my mother, who is suffering through Alzheimer’s, my stepdad, as he suffers through taking care of my mother, and for my sister, who is running from God as if it were the Olympics.

I also repented of all my sins again and again, asking for forgiveness. I spent well over an hour in this condition, laying on my back, shattered into a million pieces, crying and praying, pleading with the Lord to bring my oldest children back to me (they are adults), and to help me fix the points where I had failed as a father. As I said before, we are all broken sinners, and I am a prime example.

This, as it turned out, was the last battle I would fight there. That night, I slept peacefully. The next morning, I awoke to a much lighter heart. I felt as if I had gone through a major trial and emerged victorious. It was glorious. I understand now, that God ensured that I would have this time with Him, as He had a few very hard lessons in store for me. This was one of my wilderness experiences. I can only imagine what else He had in store. We shall see.


Why Speak Out Against Sin?

The Enemy is tricky, but very clear in his goals. He wants to deny humans the free gift of salvation, and will do all he can to accomplish this. To that end, when you seek to share the Gospel with the public, he will go out of his way to prevent people from hearing it. Why? Simply put, he wants to destroy everything that God has made, especially us.

Tell me, does this sound familiar? You are sharing the Gospel, trying to tell someone about the Lord Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation, when a critic comes against you and demands to know why you are there. They will say something like, “Why aren’t you in a soup kitchen, or doing something to help the poor and/or homeless?”, or “Why are you out here judging people and making them feel bad about themselves?” The general direction of their questioning is meant to imply that you are failing in your Christian walk because you are either delinquent in the command to care for the less fortunate, or because you are out there passing judgement. Overall, the implication is that you should have something better to do elsewhere, rather than hassling people in the public. They may even quote Matthew 7:1 (Judge not…) to you, in an effort to dissuade you from speaking out against Sin in general.

Additionally, you will encounter critics who will demand to know why it is that you, a sinner, feel that you have the right to speak out against Sin. They will ask what qualifies you to speak of the brokenness of other sinners, when you are a broken sinner yourself. They may even quote Matthew 7:1-5, in an effort to convince you that what you are doing is being hypocritical.

Before you can answer them, you must begin with the understanding that their goal is simply to silence you, and you must refuse to be silenced. It is the Enemy moving against you, in an effort to prevent people from hearing the Truth, and you cannot allow him to win. Now is the time that you ought to ask yourself how you would answer this line of questioning, if for no other reason than to know and understand why you are out there.

We Are All Broken Sinners

One of the most important aspects of the Gospel Message that we must all remember is that we are all broken sinners in desperate need of a Savior before our Almighty God. We must remember that we would all be condemned to hell were it not for the salvation offered us by Lord Jesus, who took our portion of God’s Wrath while He hung and died on the Cross. In Isaiah 64, this painful fact is beautifully spelled out with, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isa. 64:6, KJV)

What does this particular verse mean? Just what are “filthy rags”, and why was that example used? As it turns out, the original Hebrew speaks to something that is utterly defiled in the Levitical sense. In saying that we are an “unclean thing”, what’s being expressed is that we are polluted and defiled according to the Law of Moses. The word טמא (ṭâmē’) indicates that the people saw themselves as polluted and depraved.

All our righteousnesses” indicates that all of our good deeds, everything we do that would otherwise be pleasing in the sight of God is tainted with the pollution of Sin, which means that it is useless in providing us with salvation. This is a beautiful affirmation of faith based salvation, because our works will not garner us right standing before the Lord. Do remember that the reason Abraham was declared righteous was because of his faith, not anything he said or did. (Gen. 15)

In truth, the word used for “filthy” (עדים ‛iddiym) is one that not only references the rags women once wore during menstruation, but indicates that they did not have a way to express the concept with more abhorrence. This description was as low as they could go. In this, they were comparing their righteous deeds with their version of a bloody tampon, in order to make clear just how the Lord views the greatest of our deeds, our thoughts, and our words! This is profound when you consider how many people in our world consider themselves to be “good people” because they believe that their good deeds outweigh their bad. It also makes our efforts to evangelize all the more urgent.

We are all broken sinners, deserving of condemnation. Knowing this, the Enemy tries to use it as a way to silence us. He tries to convince us that our status as broken sinners precludes us from speaking out against sin. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the saying, “Why would I hate someone for sinning differently than me?” The implication, of course, is that speaking out automatically equates to hatred, and no one wants to be seen as hateful.

The True Extent of our Dependence 

In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Jonathan Edwards states, “The observation from the words I would now insist upon is this: “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean His sovereign pleasure, His arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.”

What does that mean? The only thing keeping us out of hell is God? We exist in a state of constant rebellion and condemnation before Him, unable to truly come clean on our own, and He is the only thing keeping us from falling in? How amazingly profound is that?!

Imagine falling into a pig sty, and having to use only a package of baby wipes to clean yourself up before going to stand before a judge in a courtroom. No matter how thoroughly you scrub, you will never truly come clean! This is each and every one of us, and without Jesus of Nazareth we will all find ourselves standing before the Judge in an unclean and imperfect condition, reeking of filth.

Yet, in spite of living in that condition, day after day, for an entire lifetime, God freely gives us an opportunity to be made completely clean and new. I don’t mean just-stepped-out-of-the-shower clean, either. I mean it-never-happened clean. The kind of clean that sets God so far apart from His Creation that exposure to Him would turn us all to ashes. All He asks of us is to believe, to submit, and to repent, even unto death.

The Transformation 

When you truly submit to Almighty God through His Son Jesus Christ something amazing happens. You feel as if someone has just lifted ten tons of weight off your shoulders. It’s an amazing feeling to suddenly lose a weight you never even realized you were carrying! As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Throughout his letters, Paul makes reference to the different ways that we change, to the ways we can tell if someone has truly converted, and even outlines for us which behaviors we should not accept amongst ourselves and why. The most pertinent to all of this would be Chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians, in which he states:

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:16-23, KJV)

In this passage, what Paul is trying to express is that we are to seek to live according to the Spirit, not the flesh. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it is referred to as our “old nature”, while the King James translates it as “flesh”. Either one works, and are appropriate for this purpose. The basic message here is that one can expect to see fundamental changes in themselves when they truly repent and submit. The desire of the Spirit is to supersede the desires of the flesh, and this overpowers any tendency towards carnality.

He even goes so far as to describe both sides of the coin, so that we may have a very clear picture. In verses 19-21, we have adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings. In verses 22-23, we have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. In order for us to know if a transformative experience [conversion] has occurred within ourselves, or another person, these are the things to watch for. It is with great sadness that one must note that we see entirely too much on one side of the coin, and not enough of the other, in most churches today.

When reading through those lists, what becomes abundantly clear is that each and every one of us is guilty of one or more of the old nature offenses in violation of God’s Law. During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that one commits adultery if they so much as look upon a woman to lust after her. He also states that hatred of your brother is the same as murdering him. These are just two examples of how we fall short of the glory of God, as Paul expressed it in Romans 3:23. As it is clear that these sins taint us, and the only way to be rid of them before our Lord is through the saving grace of our Lord and Savior, it is easy to see why people might decide that our choice to speak out seems a bit hypocritical, but they would wrong in that assumption.

The Great Commission

By this point, some of you might be wondering how it is that people who are so broken and sinful can justify standing before crowds of people and preaching about the brokenness of man, the wrath of God, and eternal life without hypocrisy. You might feel as if this is somehow impossible. The answer is simple. Jesus told us to.

In Matthew 28, we find that Jesus is finishing up His time on earth. He has already resurrected from the dead, and spent time with His Disciples and followers. He has spent 40 days instructing His followers on what they are to do once He is gone. The closing three verses of the chapter, verses 18-20 say, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Please note that this is the fulfillment of prophecy found in Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Of all the names and titles applied to Jesus, the one He called Himself most often was “Son of Man“, which becomes all the more significant when you look at these two passages together.

Here, we have the One known as Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath, the One who knew no Sin, and He is ordering all of His followers to go out and share the Good News (Gospel) of His Message, His Salvation. How can we disobey? He says it, it is. That is all there is to it. No matter who objects, even those in positions of authority, we simply must obey that dictate even under threats of violence, torture, imprisonment, starvation, and even death. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”


How to Read Scripture.

Lately, I’ve noticed a slight disconnect when dealing with certain people.  They seem to have a few mistaken ideas  when it comes to what the Bible says.  I hope to help straighten some of it out.

All too often, people of the Christian faith are accused of intolerance and bigotry when we speak out against Sin. They try to tell us, among other things, that we’re presenting the wrong image, we’re being regressive, that we’re on the wrong side of history and that we’re hypocrites because we speak out against Sin, in spite of being sinners ourselves. I intend to clear the air on this, so that maybe people will understand us better.

To begin, there are a few New Testament verses that people like to throw at us, when we speak out. What follows is my answer to their arguments, in the hopes that I can foster understanding.

We’ll begin with a few fundamentals. No matter which book you are reading, the single most important factor is context. The wrong context will cause misinterpretation of the Scripture being used. It goes without saying that this is a bad thing.

To the end of preventing such an occurrence, it’s best to look at the surrounding passage, or even the full chapter. If you don’t, you could end up missing the forest for the trees.

An example would be Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” It seems pretty clear, right? If you judge others, you will also be judged, so don’t pass judgement on others. The problem is, that isn’t what it actually means.

For a clear picture of what Jesus was saying, look at verses 1-6,

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Mk. 4.24
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
6 ¶ Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

It’s clear from the passage that He’s saying we can judge others, but only after we’ve seen to our own problems, responsibilities and failings. Once we’ve taken care of our own messes, we’re better able to help others out of theirs.

He even includes the warning that we’ll be judged according to the same standard we apply to others. In other words, one had better be right when passing judgement. The only way to be right is to take care of our stuff first.

The next item on the list is perspective. No matter what, it’s important to always have the right points of view and/or reference. For example, We have John 8:2-11,

2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Now, most are familiar with the line in verse 7, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”, though it’s more often quoted as, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The common interpretation of this line is best summed up as, “Why would I hate someone for sinning differently than me?”. This is actually the wrong interpretation, because there is a problem with perspective.

Of all the people present, there was only one person who was utterly without Sin, and that was Jesus. He was using that moment as an opportunity to take a shot at all of them, for their Sin, while alluding to His own divine nature and origin. He was telling them that He was the only one qualified to mete out her punishment. It’s telling, for all of us, that He chose to show her grace and mercy, forgiving her of her sin, and setting her free.

Similarly, many seem to take this to mean that He was accepting and tolerant of all people, no matter what. What they fail to realize is that He was very much intolerant of Sin, even as He was kind to those who came to Him for healing and guidance.

The next point to consider is cultural frame of reference. This is important, because there are things He did, that most don’t recognize. For example, Matthew 10:14, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

Now, if you leave that verse standing alone it seems rather innocuous, completing the image of Jesus as this pacifistic hippy. However, most people who use this verse fail to do two things.

First, they fail to consider culture in their interpretation. In Iraq, for example, showing someone the bottom of your foot is insulting, because you’re telling them that you consider them beneath you.

Similarly, in ancient Hebrew culture, the act of knocking the dust of someone’s house or town off your feet is also insulting. It’s a sign of contempt, in that you’re announcing that even the dirt someone has walked upon is unworthy of you.

Second, there’s verse 15 to consider. “Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” In the space of two verses, He has advised His Disciples to show silent contempt for those who reject His message, and has made a statement of righteous condemnation regarding those who will reject Him. That’s why cultural frame of reference is so important. So many miss that, and go about with the wrong idea of how we are supposed to move through this world.

That’s all I have for now. This is actually going to be the first post in a series. I’m not yet sure how many I’ll post in this series, but I’ll keep posting as long as God says I need to. Y’all have a blessed evening, and I look forward to people’s comments, arguments and input.