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Living Springs Institute
Where Sound Doctrine Endures
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men. After the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Colossians 2:8
Issue #25 July & August 2006

Following the Biblical Stream:

Last Issue, we talked about the offerings Cain and Abel brought before God. We talked about why Cain had no reason to be upset about the situation. God pointed this out to Cain by asking Cain questions which gave him the opportunity to turn from the thoughts which he was allowing to build in his mind. That brought us through Genesis chapter 4 verse 7.

As we go from verse 7 to verse 8, the first thing we should notice is something I touched on last time, and that is the absence of words spoken by Cain. God asked Cain some very direct questions, and even though we may believe these questions were rhetorical in nature, Cain still owed God a response, and certainly God wanted one. The fact Cain did not answer God in anyway is very conspicuous, in light of the words which start verse 8. Verse 8 says, "And Cain talked with Abel his brother:" This is just another one of many points which shows how we act as humans. The choice to handle things in this manner causes our path to unfold in a very bad way, and then we have the audacity to blame God for so much of what goes wrong in our lives. Situations just like this, is one of the reasons God made it the third commandment that we should not take His name in vain. (Ex. 20:7)

Cain was being talked to directly by God, but Cain decided to ignore what God was telling him altogether. We don't know if Cain understood, in anyway, what God was trying to point out to him, or if Cain simply did not wish to look at the truth. In any case, Cain did not take the opportunity to talk with the God, who not only created him, but the brother Cain would do so wrong to, just a short time later. Remember, it's God's response to their offerings which angers Cain, not something Abel did. We wonder why our lives have come to where they are and refuse to give account for the fact God tried to tell us. The fact is, God is way ahead of us, trying to direct us, but we are not listening. The really sad thing is that even once we make a mistake, Satan gets us to make things even worse by getting us to make the same mistake over and over again!

We do not listen to God, then we wonder why things turn out the way they do. If we hold to the arrogant attitude that everything is actually God's fault, then we definitely will not hear God down the road. If Satan can cause us to live in guilt that we made the mistake we made, he can seriously distract us from hearing God's voice as time goes on. Either way, things just keep getting worse and worse. The bottom line is, we need to hear the voice of God in our lives and respond to it. There is no better way to see the mistakes we have made in our lives than to focus on our relationship with God. Once we see we have made a mistake, there is nothing which will help us correct our path except to focus on our walk with God. When the consequences of our actions make life difficult, there is nothing more helpful than to focus on our walk with God. When sickness or hard times come, for reasons which can be of no fault of our own, there is nothing which will pull us through but to focus on our walk with God.

The book of Job never ceases to be an inspiration to my life. Job did not understand why all these things were happening to him. His friends told him it was because he did something to anger God. This was making the incorruptible God's image like unto corruptible men. Job understood this, and Job said, about God, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:" (Job 13:15) In the height of Job's misery, he still never cursed or blamed God. Job wished he had never been born. In the end, God reminded Job that even this was not an appropriate thought. Job's life was being used as a tremendous testimony of faith in God. God loved Job and Job loved God. Because Job had a strong enough relationship with God that he could bear this trial, many others, through the ages, have been able to hold on through the trouble times, and know, even when times in this life get tougher than we think we can bear, God is always there. God was telling Job, as well as those who would follow, that it would be worth it all when this life is over. So, no matter how bad this life may get, remember, in spite of what false teachers tell us, there is no complex formulas to get us through. We need to focus on our relationship with God, because that is the substance of what we ultimately hope for and the evidence of the life we have not yet seen! (Heb. 11:1)

Cain shows us many mistakes along this path which lead to killing his brother, and through them all, God was there encouraging Cain to choose the good and reject the evil. (Rom. 12:21) God was even giving guidance when Cain had not asked for it. This shows us just how much our vulnerability to sin, many times, is not the sudden thing we think it is. Cain had multiple opportunities to turn from his wicked thoughts before they became wicked actions, and so do we!

Cain talked with his brother, verse 8 tells us. The verse does not tell us what they talked about. This is another one of those points where we should be reminded that God does not leave out important details. When it comes to what Cain and Abel talked about, it is irrelevant to the actions which Cain took. This tells us Cain did not talk about the offerings and what happened before God. Abel was not saying anything which may have been construed by Cain as bragging about what had happened. Cain's actions were his own, and Cain had no excuse for what he did besides the thoughts in his own head. He was the one who became wroth about the offerings; God did not reject Cain's offering, God simply did not treat it in the same manner as Abel's. The anger Cain felt was all of his own. The story makes it clear, Abel had nothing to do with this. Abel was completely innocent in the situation. I think sometimes people like to think Abel was trying to show off, or that he was always showing up Cain by being the more righteous of the two. However, there is nothing to even indicate this. Verse 3 tells us, this situation came up in the natural course of events. As Cain talked with his brother, in verse 8, we are told nothing which would indicate Abel gloated about or even mentioned the earlier offerings. It simply doesn't matter how you spin it, Abel is innocent in every way. Even God tells Cain that Abel's desire would be unto Cain's leadership, but Cain did not care!

Verse 8 goes on to tell us, "...and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." Everything about this story emphasizes just how determined Cain was. As I mentioned last time, Cain did not have a consuming anger that caused him to immediately rise up and kill his brother. It would even seem that Cain's anger did not really seethe. Cain waited for the right opportunity. He came up and had some everyday small talk with his brother. When they had made it to a spot which Cain felt comfortable was the right spot, Cain, "...rose up.." There is a suddenness about this action which is not boiling anger but composed premeditation. One moment they are walking and talking about everyday things and the next, Cain kills Abel. There is nothing here which indicates Abel had even the chance to fight back. Cain handled himself so that Abel was unaware of what was coming.

The only defense you can make for Cain is the fact this was, as far as we know, not only the first murder but the first human death which had ever occurred! This is one of the reasons God made coats of skin to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness. Humans had not existed long enough to understand death, and they needed to know that death was the end of these physical forms. Not to be gory, but using the animals skin to cover Adam and Eve would emphasize the fact, the animals would no longer be needing them. The animals physical parts could be used for other purposes! Now, I'm not suggesting that humans fall into this same category. Humans represent something much higher than animals. However, the truth of the physical form is the same. Once we die, our bodies take a huge step forward on their journey back to the dust from which they were made. (Gen. 3:19) Through transplant surgery, we find even human bodies can be used for parts, and that's OK, because once death has come, our body is of no use to us! (I Tim 6:7)

Verse 9 tells us, God comes to Cain and again asks him a question. A question which, even if Cain chooses to ignore, God would not! This is where we start to see contrast to the verses above. God asked "Where is Abel thy brother?" Cain does respond to this question, and this should set aside any doubt that Cain could have answered the earlier questions God asked him. For here, Cain chooses to answer God with a truth, a nontruth and a smart remark. First, Cain tells God, "I know not:" This was the truth and nontruth part. Cain knew physically where his brother was because Cain had killed Abel. However, Cain did not know where Abel was from the standpoint that Cain did not understand death. Cain was not interested in such things. Cain was a man of the flesh, not a man who cared for things of the spirit. He did not know exactly what happened to a man upon death and he did not care. Thus, Cain tops this denial off with a impudent remark. Cain asks God, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Now, I know that traditionally, the sermon from here goes into the idea that, yes, we are our brother's keeper, and I'm not knocking that. In a big way, God had already told Cain he was his brother's keeper by telling him that Abel's desire would be unto him and he would rule over him. (Verse 7) However, there are other things about this statement which show us, once again, just how much man wants to do things in his own way and then act like it's God's fault when things go wrong. Cain understood that God had created individuals, and as we talked about last time, there were no society groups formed as yet. So, Cain asks if he is his brother's keeper to try and lean on the idea that Abel has his life and I have mine. It is interesting that Cain acts as if this is an obvious point for why he would not know exactly where Abel was, because if Abel has a life which differs so greatly from Cain's, then why did he care so much about the offerings in the first place. The very fact Cain felt a connection between himself and his brother is exactly why Cain was wroth at the fact God gave more attention to Abel's offering than his. God made this point to Cain earlier. God said in verse 7, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." God was pointing out that Abel's offering, and how God had responded to it, had no bearing on Cain's ability to bring offerings to God. Only Cain allowing sin into his life could affect his ability to come before God. Cain could bring a blood sacrifice and God would treat it the same way He had treated Abel's. There was nothing special about the fact it was Abel who had brought the blood offering, only that it was a blood offering.

This means that for Cain to ask this question, especially in the way in which he did, was very wrong, and it shows us just how into the flesh Cain was. Cain did not really care that he had killed his brother, even while standing before the God who created them. Unlike his parents who hid themselves at the voice of God in the garden after taking of the tree God told them not to, Cain is very brash. He started this journey thinking in very fleshly terms and he would continue this journey in fleshly terms. He asked if he was his brother's keeper knowing full well why God was asking the question. Cain was rejecting the things of God in his life and had fully chosen to go his own way. Thus, God asks Cain to consider his actions in the same way God asked Cain to consider his thoughts before. Verse 10 tells us, God asked Cain point blank, "What hast thou done?" It doesn't get any simpler than that, and this question should have taken any doubt from Cain's mind that God had seen it all. If it didn't, then the next statement by God did, for God says, "the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."

God knew exactly where Abel's body was, and God makes this clear to Cain by telling him it was the voice of Abel's blood that called out. In Genesis chapter 9, after Noah and his family left the ark, God, for the first time, gives man permission to use animals as food. However, in verse 4, God tells us, "But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat." Again, we see the relationship between life and blood. I talked, earlier, about the fact that after death the physical is only good for parts, because just as everything else in this world, it will rot and turn to dust. However, even after death, God tells us blood is significant. In verse 3 of Genesis 9 God said, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." Animals, just like plants, were now food, with one exception, the blood. People sometimes debate on what is really the life part of your physical form. Some argue that it's the heart, and while the heart is a vital organ, it's simply a part which can be replaced. One of the reasons people tend to point to the heart is the fact it pumps the blood. However, the liver and the kidneys contribute to the health of the blood, and even the lungs are what supply oxygen to the blood. There are organs like the stomach and digestive system in general which supply nutrients to the blood. Then there are the parts which need the blood to supply all those things to them so they can function. Not including the organs just mentioned, the muscles, nerves, skin, and other tissue of the body, need the blood and what it contains. Even things like pores in the skin are there for the blood to use. Through the pores the blood releases fluid to keep us cool and disposes of waste which needs to leave the body. Everything our body is made of exists to and is maintained by taking something from the blood and/or giving something back. Blood is the one element which is common to all functions of the body. In it, is contained the true life of our physical form, and though we can handle a certain amount of blood transfusions from others, we will not live if we cannot sustain our own clean blood supply. This is why, even artificial blood is really nothing more than an additive which helps keep the system and its delicate balance from collapsing so the body can recover its own natural level of blood.

We are told not to eat blood for obvious health reasons, but there are those who try and dispute this truth. However, if health was all God was concerned about, He would not have allowed us to eat animal parts at all. The big reason not to eat blood is because we should respect this physical life God has given. We should respect the fact that life is not something we can create and it is precious. This becomes especially important to the one who thinks mostly in the flesh as Cain did! If fleshly appearances were important to him, if fleshly recognition and praise were more important than his direct relationship with God, if taking fleshly actions against the nearest fleshly object even remotely connected to what had made him wroth was so all consuming to Cain, then he needed to understand just how large his fleshly actions were! So, God does not talk to Cain about where Abel's spirit was or the truth of what happens to a man after death. God points out to Cain that the life contained in Abel's physical form was calling out to God. If the physical is what we care so much about, then why are we so careless with how we treat others? Even the most flesh centered person should understand the wrong of harming another in a physical way. Cain, as well as we, cannot effect the eternal life of others if they make the right choices for their life. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." There is no law against these things, because no matter what man may say about having these things in your life, these are the ways of righteousness, and God will honor them whether man does or not. This is why Jesus told us 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." Cain was not fearing God and that was a big mistake because that would effect his eternal existence! Cain may have had power to kill Abel, but all he really did was cut Abel's earthly life short. Cain could never take from Abel the righteousness which Abel had shown in his life. This should emphasize a simply fact. When we hurt others, we are also hurting ourselves!

Now, just as we have talked about the fact there were no society groups in the world as yet, this meant there were no government authorities. The only earthly authority Cain could face was his father Adam, but this was new ground for everyone. So, verse 10 of Genesis 4, shows us God would handle the punishment for Cain. God would design a punishment for Cain very personal to his actions. Cain had chosen, of his own accord, to be a tiller of the ground. Cain's punishment would be the loss of the thing on this earth which he was most in love with. The thing he had shown a special talent for. Cain had spilled his brother's blood on the ground, and now that ground would no longer yield its strength to Cain. This would not mean that Cain would starve or that Cain would go hungry in anyway. The earth is a very large place, and natural, or as we might call it, "wild" food, would still abound. What this curse would mean is that Cain would never again be able to plant specific seed and manipulate plant life in anyway. The earth would not respond to Cain's attempt to effect it. So, God also told Cain, "a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth." The curse of the ground would not only affect Cain's specific ability to grow food or manipulate plant life but in a broader way, it meant Cain would lose his ability to settle down in this world and simply live his life.

God had made this physical existence harder for all man by removing Adam and Eve from the garden and cursing the ground to bring forth weeds and thistles, (Gen. 3:17-19) but Cain's curse would go even further. This shows us just how much God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance no matter what it takes. (2 Peter 3:9, Matt. 5:29-30) This is how God works. Whether you think you're simply a "good person" or a murderer, God wants you to relinquish whatever it is in your life that is stopping, or hindering you from having a relationship with Him. God told us the first law is to love the Lord with everything we are made of. (Matt. 22:37) We can have no other gods before Him. (Ex. 20:3) If Cain was wroth because the work of his hands had not received the kind of attention from God that he wanted, especially to the point of ending his brother's life, then Cain desperately needed a new perspective on life. Cain would never serve God and maintain a relationship with God if something like fruit offerings not getting the same attention as blood offerings meant so much to him. This has direct relationship to the story in Luke 18, when a rich man came to Jesus and wanted to follow Him. This man believed he was a "good person," but after confirming that the man believed he had followed God's commandments his entire life, Jesus told this man, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." The story goes on to tell us the man went away very sorrowful because he was very rich, and obviously his riches meant more to him than a relationship with God.

In a day where money is the representation of what we accomplish in our lives more than the creation of actual products and goods, money is what many people have trouble with. (I Tim. 6:10) For Cain, there was no money. There was only the tangible work of tilling the ground and making a life for himself. This was Cain's riches as much as money was for the rich man who came to Jesus. In verse 13 of Genesis 4, we see Cain's response to God's judgment on his life. Cain says, "My punishment is greater than I can bear." In the story in Luke, after the rich man walked away from Jesus, Jesus told those there with Him, "For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." and the crowds response to Jesus' statement was similar to Cain's response to his punishment, for they said, "Who then can be saved?"

The idea that we may have to give up the physical things of this life in order to have the things of God is an impossible idea for many people. It is probably the number one thing people think about when they hear the Word of God taught. What will I have to give up? The excuse people, many times, use to reject Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, is the idea they are a good person and they do not believe good people go to hell. However, they are actually rejecting Jesus as Lord of their life because of the "Lord" part. There are things in their life they are worried they will have to give up and they do not want to do that. We just don't understand that life is not about what we obtain or have in this flesh. Even before man took of the tree God told them not to, it was not God's intent for us to focus on the flesh and the physical things of this world. Our creation was for a much higher purpose and that was to have a relationship with God. If we reject that purpose, then we have no purpose! Not understanding this is why Cain felt his punishment was more than he could bear. The idea that this physical world he was so enamored with was not going to be his oyster, seemed to Cain an unbearable punishment. The idea that a man with wealth would find it difficult to enter the kingdom of heaven, seemed to the men in Jesus' day the reason no man would ever be saved. Today, we have the same problem. Letting go of this life and believing God that treasures then wait for us in heaven is something the flesh rejects; and why not? The flesh is not going to make it to heaven. This world is all it has! So, what will you choose? Temporary pleasures of an already condemned flesh or the eternal treasure of abundant life?

Until next time, shalom!


It has not been my desire to use precious space in this publication to talk about things as frivolous as The Gospel of Judas and The Da Vinci Code. However, the popularity of these stories and the questions they raise, make it prudent to take up the subject. Especially, in light of their popularity among those who claim to believe in The One True God.

The most important thing for everyone to keep in mind, about these current books, is the fact, they are works of fiction. The Gospel of Judas is a book written to suit the ideas of its writer(s). The author and/or publisher of The Da Vinci Code may want to make it seem as if their book is at least a speculation into a possible truth; but the bottom line is, this book does not even contain as much truth as some of the well known Indiana Jones tales. The simple fact this book is so much fantasy and mystery, is one of its greatest selling points. The idea that there are secret societies and grand adventures to be known and experienced, has excited the human imagination for a very long time! So, what is the big deal about this book? Well, nothing really. It's simply the usage of very treaded upon story telling techniques, revolving around a base idea which is centuries old!

For those unfamiliar with The Da Vinci Code, there is only one point of any importance, and that is the fact the book presents the fictional idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child together. The idea that Jesus left on this earth a physical bloodline, or that there were physical relationships in Jesus' life is nothing new, indeed. These tales have been told for a very long time in the attempt to discredit and/or mock Jesus' life. What disturbs me this time around, is the fact so many people are asking why this idea is so wrong! There have been statements made about the fact this subject has been taboo, and many are glad it can finally be spoken about. However, the problem is not the subject of Jesus having a child is taboo, or that the "church" may consider it sacrilege to even suggest. The problem is, because we do not know the truth of God's Word, we do not understand what this would mean.

One of the first things people have to understand is, both of these books come from a Gnostic view. What this means for those who believe in the Word of God (Genesis through Revelation) is that these books have nothing to do with our walk with God! This view may surprise many people who claim to be Christians, but just because these books tell stories about characters central to Christian belief, doesn't mean they are Christian in any way!

We must understand that if you believe in The God Who created the universe, and especially if you believe our God is one God (James 2:19) and there are no others, then you in no way believe what a Gnostic believes. To be Gnostic is to believe in a totally different nature of God. Which is to say, you do not really believe in The One True God of the universe which the Bible explains to us. If you are Gnostic, then you certainly do not believe in the truth of who Jesus is, what He came to this earth to give, and what He is returning for. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus as The Messiah, then you might as well be reading the Karan as to be reading either of the two books so popular in our media today, because they are all based on false philosophies which do not line up with the true Word of God.

The first thing which the popularity of these two books, among believers in Jesus, shows us, is just how Biblically illiterate we have become! This issue is not simply about enjoying a work of fiction, these books are a denial of Jesus' work! This, we would not do, if we really knew our Bibles and had a real relationship with God. Jesus said in Matthew 10:33-34, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Jesus was not talking about the simple issue of being willing to say His name or confess that He lived on this earth. Jesus is telling us, if we confess that He is who He said He is, then we would be confessed as one of His before God The Father. However, if we deny the truth of Jesus as the only Messiah, then we will be denied as one of His before The Father in heaven. This is important, and a cornerstone of what true Christians believe; but the idea that we need Jesus to confess us before His Father has no relevance to a Gnostic.

You see, the truth of the matter is simple. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." The very reason Jesus was crucified was because it was clearly understood that Jesus claimed Himself to be the long awaited Messiah of the Jewish nation! Jesus clearly told us, in more than one place and in more than one way, that He was The Messiah and only through Him there is salvation. This brings us to the simple truth which all believers should understand. Jesus was exactly who He said He was or He was a stark raving lunatic! There is simply nothing in between. He was not simply a "great prophet" or one of many guides or saviors to this world. If it were true that Jesus was simply a great prophet or just one of many saviors, then He clearly did not understand this fact. That would mean He was as mixed up and confused as anyone has ever been! How could a man confused that badly about himself ever be a guide to anyone else? How do you choose what is good about what He said and what is simply Him babbling about things even He doesn't understand? We must choose which side of this argument we are on, because Jesus clearly told us, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Matthew 12:30 Jesus' guidance left no room for other ways of salvation!

Why does this mean so much to the issue of being a fan of one or both of these current media fads? Again, because both are Gnostic at their core, and if we believe in the true nature of who Jesus really is, then we should find these books a mockery of God Himself. This is not, as some have suggested, about making a subject the church claims is heresy an acceptable conversation. The church can't save your soul! This is about you, personally choosing who you believe Jesus really is! Simply put, if we are for these kinds of books, then we are against the Word of God.

You see, people want to argue that the church, which canonized the Bible we read today, simply left out certain "other" books. This is certainly true. However, there was, and is a good reason for doing exactly that! These "other books" they speak of, do not show us the same God as the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament. To that, some will argue that the church only chose those books which agreed with their theology, and that is misleading. It's the insinuation that the Bible was carved out of a vast number of books by those with their own special agenda, to make Jesus seem to be The Messiah; but again, the criteria was, in reality, whether a book showed The True Messiah or whether it was of someone else's agenda. Books like The Gospel of Judas come from a very different foundation. Jesus could not be The Messiah true Christians believe He is and the man described in Gnostic books like The Gospel of Judas. It all comes down again to a simple choice. You either believe that Jesus was The Messiah, the Old Testament prophesied would be given to all the world through the chosen people of God (Israel), or you believe Jesus was something altogether different! So it's not a matter of leaving out certain books and putting others in it. There is no reason to mingle Gnostic books with the Bible. Gnostic books should be separate, because they tell a totally different story. The fact Gnostics wish to add their "other" books, instead of taking the no mixture stance, is evidence they only wish to confuse, not teach truth!

You may think you are serving The One True God who created the universe; but if that is true, then why would you be entertained, or interested in the destructive thoughts of man? Paul asks the rhetorical question in Romans 6:2, "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" It's important that you realize what a different path you are choosing when you choose a Gnostic way. I don't say this to scare people into simply following the traditional path of the Christian religion. In fact, I say this because this issue shows us just how badly we need to be clear on what we believe and not blindly follow things which become the popular way. We need to be careful who we are yoking ourselves with, (II Cor. 6:14) and on this particular subject, the first question you need to look into is, what does it mean to be Gnostic?

The answer to the question, what is Gnosticism, can be very detailed, and the details will vary depending on who you ask. This is simply because to be Gnostic is to believe there are many ways to "ascend" from this life. Exactly where you go, or what that place is called, will vary greatly from group to group. Who you follow to find the way of "ascension" can, and will vary greatly. However, the base philosophy is all the same, and it has unfortunately invaded much of our churches teaching long before the release or "revelation" of these two current works.

The base facts are simple. The Bible tells us there are only two basic paths in life. The first is the narrow way, and the second is the broad way. Both of these ways were described by Jesus in Matthew 7. The narrow way is described as narrow because it is truth. Simply put, there is truth and then there is everything else. The everything else is the broad way. This is to say, there is a true path to salvation which you must find, and stay on. Then there are multiple other thoughts about how to better yourself or get into heaven upon death. These other thoughts are all the thoughts of man, and the Bible tells us the ways which seem right to a man only lead to destruction, not heaven. (Prov. 16:25)

The Bible's story tells us that after the flood of Noah's day, man began to build an all encompassing false religion. Humans were all of one language and they all had the mind to pitch in. God cared for their souls and the souls of future generations of humans. So, God insured that man would have the opportunity to follow the truth, instead of simply being forced into believing this one false religious belief. What God would do is responsible for not just the inability of that days all encompassing false religion to swallow all mankind, but also to keep future attempts from succeeding. God's actions at the Tower of Babel is why even the "Universal," or as it is better known, "Catholic" church was unable to take in all the world. How did God do this? God confounded the languages of man. Upon this occurrence, men decided to go their separate ways and form varying societies all over the world. This meant Satan had to change his course. He was not going to scoop up all of humanity in one blow. So, Satan has helped further false religions all over the world, but Satan must deal with the cultural differences which exist. This means, as the thoughts of man guided human false religion, there would be various types of gods which man would choose to worship.

Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 12:25, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:" Jesus said this because, after casting out devils, the Pharisees believed Jesus did so with the power of Satan. Jesus went on to say in verse 26, "And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?" This truth brings us to a simple understanding. If Satan is going to build the kingdom on this earth he wishes to build, it is important for all false religions to get along somehow. Now, Satan does not always have success in this area. Some of the biggest wars in the world have broke out over perceived differences between false religions. However, this has not stopped Satan from trying. Satan understands that if he is going to maintain a standing kingdom, he must get men to cooperate on, at least, some of the most basic levels. This shows itself no where better than in the worldwide dislike for God's chosen people, and this general dislike, or all out hatred, shows us the greatest evidence that the Jewish people are the chosen people of God just as the Old Testament describes. God has given us information which insures Satan cannot do his work without confirming the truth. He who has an ear let him hear!

All through the ages, and even today, there is great hatred for Jews among the world. Satan cannot make the Jews part of his kingdom, so it's important that he attempt to destroy them. God knew when He established Israel that He was making them a lightning rod of a kind, and this is why God makes both the promise to protect them on their good land if they would serve Him, or protect them by scattering them if they did not receive God's plan of protection while on the good land. God's Word shows us that those who follow God need God's protection, because Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter 5:8) One of the greatest ways in which Satan devours us is by leading us off track. This means, because God does not force Himself on us, God cannot protect us if we are not willing to yield our lives to Him and His guidance. When Israel failed to look to The Lord, God would not be slack concerning His promises. This would seem like a paradox to man, but with God all things are possible. (Matt. 19:26) Through what the spiritually blind would only see as punishment, God would provide protection by scattering Israel. Those in Israel, who were serious about serving the ways of God, would never again take the laws of God for granted, but fight tooth and nail to preserve them. If you think God has rejected Israel, you should find it interesting that as Adolf Hitler was killing literally millions of Jews, he had little to no urgency to get rid of the Christians. We should find it interesting that the Vatican stood idly by during all this. We should also see that even after all the hatred the world has shown to the Jews, the circumstances have brought them full circle, back to the land of Israel, just as God promised. Even as terrorism and war is dragging down much of the rest of the world, Israel, as a nation, is thriving and growing like nowhere else!

Now, Satan still believes he can win, and in his effort to pull his kingdom together, Satan attempts to create a binding tie through man's false religions, which is, in many ways, also a controlled human action on a governmental level. Now that is a whole book in and of itself. However, on the religious level, Satan has guided man down the path of what is Biblically described as Baal worship. The word "Baal" in its simplest form means "a master," and when you see the word "Baal" in the Bible, it is, many times, talking about the simple idea of people worshiping multiple gods; yet it is the system of religion they have chosen that is really their master, in spite of what the specific gods are or are called. If man worships only one god, he can become very bitter toward others who do not accept that god; but if man worships many gods, then there is always room for more. This is shown clearly in the Bible.

One of the things Israel fell into at times, was the practice of worshiping the gods of their neighbors. Many of these gods would come to be placed in the temple of God at times. Other temples to other gods were even built on the hills around Jerusalem, and this fact is not the reason God chose to destroy Jerusalem in the time of the kings. It is the reason God was forced to destroy Jerusalem. Jerusalem was to be the place where God would place His name, and God told us clearly in Exodus 20:4-6, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." There is no room for plurality in the worship of The True God, because God is truth, and the truth tells us there are no other gods. We worship God or we are being mastered by a system of man.

Now, there are those humans who deny the very existence of God or any gods at all. That is one category of man's thoughts. However, Paul says in Romans 1:20, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" This means because God created us all, it's hard to deny the existence of God in our lives; and it should be noted, many people who claim there is no God, still find a system to worship whether they realize it or not. We should also understand, worshiping something like science is no stranger than worshiping a carved stick or stone. There really is no difference, because it's the base idea that is being worshiped anyway. You are simply choosing the form of god which makes you most comfortable.

This is also why it makes sense that, to many humans, it seems foolish or just impossible to try and take the "there is not God" path! In the end, they all fall into exactly what is described in the next three verses of Romans 1, "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." So what is Gnosticism? In many ways, it's simply a description of the thoughts of man, among those who do not deny the existence of God, but still deny God by corrupting the nature of who He really is!

When man was created, he was given a simple choice between the two paths we talked about earlier. Man could simply stay in the state God had created them and God would guide them, or they could take of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Taking of the tree was a way for man to go his own way and try things on his own. If man was going to be responsible for his own actions, then man would need the basic knowledge of right and wrong! When Eve talked with the serpent in the garden, the serpent told her, God did not want man to take of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:5 It is important that we realize this was not a lie! This is exactly why God did not want man to take of the fruit. God knew, and had told man, if they ate of the fruit they would not even make it through that very day without failing to be responsible for the knowledge they would receive. This was a knowledge which God had, and until they could be taught by God, they needed to not be like God in having this knowledge and the heavy responsibility it brought. We as humans still clearly understand this concept, and it's shown in the fact we hold parents responsible for the criminal actions of their children. It's hard to believe Eve did not understand this simple concept as she looked at the tree and thought it was desirous to make one "wise." In the end, she chose to take matters into her own hands by taking the fruit, and therewith the responsibility of the knowledge it gave.

In spite of all the differing stories surrounding varying Gnostic beliefs, the above idea is the fundamental difference between what the Bible teaches and what Gnostics believe. The word "gnosis" is a Greek word which means, "knowledge." "Gnosticism" is a modern term to describe a very ancient religious belief. In fact, it goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It's the lie that with enough knowledge or wisdom, we can save ourselves and/or become gods. The irony is, we already have more knowledge of what is right and wrong than we can handle, and that is the very reason we need salvation through the work of a Messiah! The idea that with enough knowledge, wisdom, and/or understanding, a human can find their own path of redemption, or godhood, is foolish. Satan said, God didn't want humans to take of the tree because they would " as gods, knowing good and evil." Satan knew Eve would take this as meaning something more like the idea that what the tree could give would make them gods, not just like God in this one aspect! Knowledge and the lack of perfection in using that knowledge, or the all out desire to ignore knowledge and be evil, is our problem not our solution. However, fostering the same belief Satan did in the mind of Eve is really the tie that binds all the false religions in the world! So, Gnosticism, in many ways, is the modern description of what creates all false religions in the first place.

Because that is all the space I have for this time, I will have to close with that. However, this is in no way the end of the conversation, because it is important that we endure sound doctrine and not just do or not do something because someone tells us to. We need to understand who Jesus really is, and the work He came to do. We also need to understand that Jesus will return one day and we want to be ready to meet Him!

Now, I have no idea just how many parts there will be to this series of writing; but in the next edition, we will talk more thoroughly about the finer points of Gnostic belief. It's also my intent to cover much of the Gnostic ideas which have slipped into the church over the centuries, which Jesus, as well as the Apostles, warned us about. Through it all, we will be covering the most important parts and why all this is wrong. This is best done simply by way of teaching what is right! When we are finished, I hope we will all have a clearer picture of just how bad it can be for us to simply follow the crowd when it comes to what we choose to believe or even "enjoy." The two current books drawing so much attention today show us just how big a crowd can be; and though we may believe there is safety in numbers, Jesus told us not to follow the broad way the crowd is going down. Until next time, may The God of grace and mercy guide you into all truth as you study His Word!

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