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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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God’s Works of Providence

Loraine BoettnerConsider below God’s works of providence. Loraine Boettner D.D. writes:

“God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.” (Shorter Catechism, answer to Question 11.) The Scriptures very clearly teach that all things outside of God owe not merely their original creation, but their continued existence, with all their properties and Powers, to the will of God. He upholds all things by the word of His power, Hebrews 1:3. He is before all things, and in Him all things consist, Colossians 1:17. “Thou art Jehovah, even thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preservest them all,” Nehemiah 9:6. “In Him we live, and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28. He is “over all, and through all, and in all,” Ephesians 4:6.

Throughout the Bible the laws of nature, the course of history, the varying fortunes of individuals, are ever attributed to God’s providential control. All things, both in heaven and earth, from the seraphim down to the tiny atom, are ordered by His never-failing providence. So intimate is His relationship with the whole creation that a careless reader might be led toward pantheistic conclusions. Yet individual personalities and second causes are fully recognized, -not as independent of God, but as having their proper place in His plan. And alongside of this doctrine of His Immanence the Scripture writers also present the kindred doctrine of His Transcendence, in which God is distinctly set forth as entirely separate from and above the whole creation. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

The False Gospel of Judas

False GospelGospel of Judas” – like other Gnostic false gospels – is not a gospel at all. The four New Testament gospels all recount eyewitness testimonies and historical events about the ministry of Jesus. The Gospel of Judas, on the other hand, was written by an unknown author (not Judas) and contains a muddled collection of sayings.

The “Judas document” is made of papyrus. It is a Coptic copy of an alleged earlier Greek document, which no one has ever found. But, even this “so-called” original document was written long after the four New Testament gospels. The document begins by saying, “The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot.”

The “Judas document” is a heretical Gnostic writing of the 2nd or 3rd century. The Gnostics were not Christians, but were a mystical movement which attempted to incorporate some Christianity into its doctrines to gain credibility with Christian communities throughout the Roman Empire. The Gnostics believed that salvation was acquired through secret hidden knowledge (gnosis). Gnostics did not believe that salvation was based on grace through faith in the Jesus Christ. They rejected the idea that God could become incarnate. The “Judas document” also makes fantastic supernatural claims; for example, it says that Jesus often appeared as a child to his disciples. This is typical of 2nd and 3rd century legendary writings. In one place in the text, Jesus tells Judas “Look, you have been told everything. Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star.” The “Judas document” gives a much more favorable account of Judas than the New Testament Gospels.

Like other Gnostic writings, the “Judas document” is falsely attributed to an author (Judas) who was long dead. It also makes reference to ideas popular in other Gnostic writings. Obviously, this “Judas document” is not another Christian gospel. Irenaeus (130 – 202 AD) in the 2nd century called the gospel of Judas “a fictitious history”.

Do not Believe Every Spirit!

Test the SpiritsBeloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6 ESV)

All of us have heard the saying “Do not believe everything you hear!” This saying is particularly true when you listen to someone who claims to be from God and is presenting a “new truth” or a new interpretation of the Scriptures. It is easy to be misled.

When we test something, we do so to determine if it is true or not. Only very gullible people believe every claim they hear (especially on the internet). We should be more like the Bereans who Luke praises in Acts: “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11 ESV) We should always examine, in the light of the Scriptures, what we are taught.

Peter, also, warns us of false prophets: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV) Therefore, we must “test the spirits” to determine if these men are “ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 ESV)

How do we “test the spirits”? Do they deny Jesus came in the flesh? During the life of John, a false teaching called Gnosticism had developed. In general, it taught that God (Christ) did not come in the flesh because all matter is evil. Many Gnostics believed Jesus came as a spirit or that He was a mere man who may have also obtained divinity because He led an exceptionally good life. I think we may also compare this to the modern preacher or teacher who believes that Jesus was just a good man and teacher or that He was a myth woven together with wise sayings. Such people have the spirit of Antichrist.

Another way to “test the spirits” of those who claim to speak for Christ is to make sure they are following the doctrines of the apostles. Do they follow or reject the teachings of the apostles? Is what they teach in agreement with what the apostles taught? If not, they have the spirit of antichrist. Today, too many people want to introduce new interpretations of what the Bible actually says plainly. Much too often, we find those who are actually willing to add to the Scriptures. These men risk the curse of “plagues” and their share in “the tree of life”. (Revelation 22:18-19)

The world follows false preachers and teachers because they speak in a manner pleasing to the world. Size and numbers, however, do not measure truth. Consider, “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Jesus Christ has overcome the world. Therefore, if we know the teachings of the apostles as found in the words of the Bible – a false spirit will not deceive us. Are you applying the apostles’ doctrine to test what you hear and read?

Samuel at Gilgal

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