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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 #27 November & December 2006

Step into the Springs!

Last issue, I told everyone about the plans to change the name of this publication. We talked about why we feel this name change is needed and the specific benefits we feel we will gain. We also talked about what will not change about this publication, but I did not have the space to announce the new name itself. So, here is the moment we have all been waiting for. The new name for this publication will be SHAQAH!

Shaqah is a transliterated Hebrew word which is pronounced shaw-kaw', and there are several reasons why we chose this name. First, Shaqah is a Hebrew word which means, "to give to drink, irrigate, drink, water, cause to drink water." It's used in the Bible, in places like Genesis 24, where Rebekah gives drink to Abraham's servant and his camels in answer to the servant's prayer for guidance from the Lord, and Numbers 20 verse 8, when God tells Moses He will bring water out of a rock to give drink to the Israelites in the wilderness. Using this word gives us a strong bond with God's chosen people and His Word. That reason alone is enough to choose Shaqah! However, there are also many other reasons to go with Shaqah.

Another one of these is, the meaning of Shaqah actually has direct relationship to our ministry name, Living Springs Institute. In this publication we have used titles for our regular segments which have a relationship to the fact our name is Living Springs. Such as, Following the Biblical Stream, for our through the Bible teaching segment, and this news segment is called, Step Into The Springs. The concept of this publication has always been to take, at least, a little bit of what Living Springs Institute has as a whole and provide it in a print form we can mail and give out at various locations. So, to call this publication Shaqah is to put that concept in the actual name!

In the end, it really all comes down to the simple fact we feel this is the will of God and that is of most importance to us. What is also important to us is that we do not lose any of you who have been getting this publication in the past. On that note, I want to reiterate that nothing about its content will change. We will carry on with the "Following the Biblical Stream" series, we will include Q&As and commentaries as the Lord leads, and even the issue numbers will stay in sequence as the name change is made. We want everybody to be clear, this change is nothing more than a tool we hope will increase our ability to get this publication into the hands of as many people as possible!

It should also be reiterated that this name change will not affect our ministry name, nor will it change the address of our website. Our website at will continue to be our main ministry website where people can find information about us, submit Q&As, order printed materials, read commentaries and access everything we offer!

The only noticeable change will be to the front page look of this publication, and even that we will not do in a sudden way. Over the next few issues, you will be seeing a gradual shift in the graphics and title, mostly at the top of this front page, as the new name is implemented. Again, we do not want to cause those who regularly pick up this publication to lose it simply because they no longer recognize it.

Because we value all our readers, I want to invite you again to share with us any questions or comments you may have about this change or anything we do. So, feel free to write to us at the address at the bottom of this page, or email us at We hope you like the new name; and we hope you will enjoy the rest of this issue of Shaqah!

Thank you!

Following the Biblical Stream:

Last time, we ended by talking about the conversation God was having with Cain after Cain had killed Abel. We talked about the fact the earth would no longer yield Cain its strength. The final part of our last segment was focused on Genesis chapter 4 verse 13, and the statement by Cain that his punishment was, "greater" than he could bear. This brings us to the fourteenth verse, where Cain explains why he feels his punishment is too great to bear. Cain makes two observations. One is no surprise, but the other is very interesting.

First, Cain says his punishment is too great to bear by saying to God, "Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth;" This again has parallels to the story in Luke 18, and the people's response to Jesus' statement about how difficult it would be for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Their statement was, "Who then can be saved?" Cain makes this attitude clearer. You see, Jesus was instructing us on just how much focusing on the things of this life can keep us from the relationship with God (faith) that we so desperately need. This is why we find the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21, which tells us not to lay up for ourselves treasures here on earth where moth and rust corrupts, but instead, to lay up treasures in heaven where those things can't corrupt or touch them. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Cain had killed his brother because he would not respond to the instruction of God, so God took from Cain the ability to lay up the treasures on earth that Cain had been so focused on before the murder. Just like the men in Jesus' day, Cain felt that with this punishment his life was over, and did not see how this would be a help to him. If we are going to realize just how important it is for us to have a relationship with God, something needs to shake us from this world and the fleshly desires which so easily consume us. For Cain, God would eliminate his ability to follow his beloved earthly profession. For the rich man of Jesus' day, and might I say, especially for us today, the aim was/is paper wealth. Money is far more distracting than what Cain had. (I Tim. 6:8-11) Cain was producing a product. He was following a passion. This one passion is what God dampened in Cain's life, because it had become an obsession far too great to Cain! This should speak volumes about what a distraction money can be. Money, as they say, "Opens many doors"; thus scripture tells us the love of it is, "...the root of all evil." I Timothy 6:10

Money is a tool which can be used to go in any direction we wish. Cain had this ability in many ways, because he lived in a time before the earth had deteriorated so much. There were many resources freely available to Cain. However, Cain would still need to be inventive and work with his own hands to make any gains or comfort for himself. This is why God cursed the ground for man's sake, after the fall. Man needed the bare necessities of life to be something which took at least some of man's focus. This would literally keep man grounded. Today, in what man would call, "Modern society," the average person does not go out looking for raw materials or the ability to grow their own food. Instead, we look to obtain money. Money can then be used to trade for the things we need or want. This means money can open opportunities with ease, but the more humans center their systems on it, the more it becomes necessary to have opportunities or even necessities. This is why money is so dangerous for the one who obtains it without effort, and so frustrating for the one who, even through great effort, can only obtain small amounts! More and more, man creates a system which can block out the diverse creative minds of men, and amazingly enough, it generally makes life hardest for the ones which do the hardest labor. For the most part, monetary systems are designed so the wealth can migrate more and more to those who already have it. It's the understanding of the truth that, "It takes money to make money," and why we say things like, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." This is why Jesus told the rich ruler to go and sell all that he had and give it to the poor. God is not communistic, but the Bible does instruct that we should, "...not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn." Deu. 25:4

Money represents the systems of men, created for this life. There is nothing more fleshly than the pursuit of money. At the same time, it's necessary to have, at least, some amount of it in many earthly places, and this is why those who heard the words of Jesus, asked, "Who then can be saved?" The fact we are in this world but not of it is the most difficult part for most people trying to serve God. Worldly men continue to not only tempt us to be a part of their system, but they build a system we feel we are trapped in. This is why the book of Revelation tells us there is a beast, "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Rev. 13:16-17 These things are not physical markings on us, they are representative of that system of man which continues to be more and more entrapping. However, if we are going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we cannot be one of those who asks the question, "Who then can be saved?" We must understand the seriousness of the principles Jesus was teaching and which God was trying to show Cain. Revelation clearly shows us this. In chapter 14 verses 9-11 we are told, "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Revelation 15:2 tells us this, "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God."

If we are going to be saved, we must follow the words in II Corinthians 6:17-18 which says, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." The problem the men of Jesus' day had was they could not see how this was even possible, but we must understand the "mark" is not something man can force on us. We might find it increasingly hard to live in this world without making its priorities our priorities, but overcoming, is enduring this truth. We must put our trust in God, and we must, in all things, follow the first and greatest commandment. We must love the Lord our God with everything we have. (Matt. 22:37-38) When this world asks us to do things which are unpleasing to God, we must refuse in spite of the hardship we may face because of it. We, on a continuous basis and in every decision we make, must choose whom we will serve! (Joshua 24:15) If we trust the Lord and love not our lives even unto death, we will receive the Crown of Life; (Rev. 12:10-11) but if we just cannot see how to live in this world and still put God first, then we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

This is what makes Cain's second observation in Genesis 4:14 so interesting. First, Cain feels he has been "driven" from the face of the earth; but secondly, Cain feels he will be hid from the face of God. Neither of these things were true. God had taken from Cain an ability to do just whatever he wanted on the face of the earth, but God had not blocked Cain completely out of this world. Cain simply felt that not having the freedom to do whatever he pleased, was being driven out; but if we read the next verses in Genesis chapter 4, we see that Cain gets married, has children, and his offspring go on with life. Cain's attitude shows us just how important this world is to our flesh. The men of Jesus' day could not see how anyone could be saved just because rich men would have difficulty entering the kingdom of heaven. Cain felt his life was over just because God took one thing of this earth from him. However, the second observation of Cain is even more ridiculous. Sadly, it also is one which persists in the minds of men and even in our churches today. Cain, talking about God, says, "..and from thy face shall I be hid;"

The fact God did not strike man dead when man took of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is the ultimate proof this kind of thought pattern is preposterous! Remember Eve's statement to the serpent about the fruit of the tree? She said, God had told them they could not even touch it or they would die. (Gen. 3:3) In so many ways we refuse to take God and His words seriously, but in so many cases we exaggerate what God has told us. God never told Cain that he would be hid from God's face. This is another one of those times when many look at the words of a man in the Bible and believe they are right, when the obvious reason for recording the words is to show us how ridiculous human thought can sometimes be!

From this kind of wrong thinking, we draw a picture of God which is very inappropriate. Again, we make God in our image of corruption, instead of seeing Him as the perfect God He is. (Matt. 5:48) God does not lay punishment on us just to be hard on us! "My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." Proverbs 3:11-12 God punishes us for our instruction not our destruction! Proverbs 3 goes on to say, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her." As we have been talking about, this is a truth Cain and many of us today do not grasp, or, at the very least, do not keep forefront in our minds.

Many Christians will tell you that the "Sinners Prayer" is the first prayer God hears you say. This is one of the most horrific mistakes we can make in our understanding. We love God because He first loved us! (I John 4) If it were not for His instruction, for His directing hand, we would never find the straight gate in the first place! (Matt. 11:25-28) It is curious how often humans come to the belief that they are somehow hid from God. Some wish to be hid from God, and some think because things go wrong in their lives, it's proof they are hid from God, or that God has hid from them. However, the Bible shows us over and over this is untrue.

When Adam and Eve took of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God came into the garden to meet with them just as He often did. They hid, but God already knew what they had done. In spite of this, God came to them. He did not wait for them to ask, He offered. In Cain's situation, God comes to Cain after the sacrifices were offered and talked to Cain about how Cain was feeling. After Cain had killed Abel, God came to Cain again, and in much the same way God had approached Cain's parents, God started by giving Cain a chance to admit to what he had done.

God is working for our good, and He offers Himself to us all throughout our lives. (II Peter 3:9) He sees everything we do and knows even the number of hairs on our head. (Matt. 10:30) Nothing can separate us from God's love. (Rom. 8:38-39) The fact God was punishing Cain definitely did not mean God was hiding His face from Cain. It meant God cared for Cain, and even after all Cain had done, God wanted Cain to repent. God wanted Cain to find the path which leads to salvation. God wanted Cain to renew a relationship with Him! Cain's punishment was all based on this, not the desire to simply make life hard for Cain and leave him destitute. If Cain was, in anyway, going to be hid from the face of God, it was going to be because he chose to hide.

So, Cain being the fleshly minded man he was, shows us in the next item he was worried about, just why he even cared about being hid from the face of God. Cain is worried that, especially as a fugitive and a vagabond, he will be an open target for others. Cain had started this statement with the idea that his punishment was more than he could bear, but Cain was still very concerned about preserving his own life, even under these "miserable" circumstances. It's my belief that Cain understood he had chosen a path for his life which did not include God. This is why, after not caring to talk to God when God was trying to reason with Cain, before Cain killed Abel, suddenly, Cain was concerned about being hid from God. This is another very common attitude of men, and the main reason the third commandment, from the Ten Commandments, tells us not to take the name of the Lord God in vain. (Ex. 20:7) We want God to do things for us even when we do not care to have a relationship with Him. When things go wrong, we want to blame God. When things are going good, we worry God will interfere!

In this situation, Cain was worried that outside of God's watchful eye, he would be open to the, "live by the sword die by the sword," truth. In this verse the word "slay" comes from a Hebrew word meaning, simply, to smite with deadly intent - destroy out of hand. So, the word does not necessarily mean kill. This is why Cain says, "...every one that findeth me.." Cain believed, under the circumstances, everyone he came across could treat him as badly as they wished. They could destroy anything he had built or accomplished, they could use Cain in anyway they wanted, and even if that led to Cain's death, then so be it! God had told Cain he would be a vagabond and fugitive, but God did not mean it in the way Cain took it. What God was telling Cain was that with the punishment he had received, Cain would no longer have equal opportunity to be a part of man's overall development. However, Cain was insinuating that God had slain him by putting a punishment on him that was too great to bear, and because God had done this, everyone else in the world would have the right to do it too. Again, Cain did not want a relationship with God, but he wanted God to protect him in spite of what he had done. Cain simply continues to amaze with his non-repentant attitude, and God deals with this in an extremely just way!

We have talked many times in this study about our free will being a cornerstone of our existence, and that our freedom is so great we can even choose to directly reject God in our lives. This truth comes to us again in verse 15. God will not force Himself on us. Nor does God intercede to stop every bad thing in our lives. God did not stop Cain from killing Abel, and God was not going to stop others from killing Cain. God is a just God who gives us a chance to live our lives freely. The down side of this is that when we do things wrong we suffer the consequences of our actions. When others do wrong, we may suffer consequences from their actions. This was clearly shown in Abel's life! So, even though bad things will happen in this life, even to good people, we must understand it's God who will judge all men in the end.

Cain should have already understood that if God did not physically stop Cain from killing Abel, God was not going to promise Cain would never be killed or treated badly. What God asks from us is that we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him. (Micah 6:8) This we must do and leave the rest to God. So, in Cain's situation, God made sure His judgment on the matter was clear, and God does this in two different ways. First, God makes it clear in word that it's not open season on Cain. God said, "whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." Then God sets a mark on Cain to let others know the matter was handled. We are all sinners, but that does not mean we are no longer God's children. God had handled the punishment for Cain's actions, and it was not the right of other humans to extend that punishment according to their own will! Once again, God turns the focus from worrying about the actions of others and shows us we must be careful for our own!

Until next time, Shalom!


At the end of part one, I said that next time we would talk more about what Gnostics believe and how Gnostic belief has invaded the beliefs of Christianity. This is because, if we are going to realize just what a fallacy it is to believe in concepts Gnostics teach, we must be privy to their basic ideas. One of the first concepts we need to understand about Gnostic belief is, the nature of god they believe in. Now, Gnostics believe many different stories which use different names and people, but one of the most popular basic stories is this - Gnostics generally believe there is an original power. I say "power," because it would depend on which Gnostic teaching you were hearing as to whether they would define what they believe originated everything, as a "power," or a "god." Another very popular media drama simply describes this idea as, "The Force." According to Gnosticism, this "power" lives in a "region of light." It's from this god, power, or the region itself, that other, lesser deities "emanate" or come into existence. In one of the more popular versions, the story says the "power" was a greater god, and then a lesser god emanated from the region of light, who is responsible for the creation or, at the very least, organization of matter and ultimately humans. In many versions, this lesser god tries to use earth, or this physical world, as a prison of sorts. In the story, this god wants to hinder the ability of humans to leave the here and now. Gnostics believe that with enough knowledge a human can learn to, or earn the right to, ascend from this physical place created by a lesser god and go to that spiritual place where the superior god lives.

The truth of the matter is that many people believe in the basic ideas which makeup Gnosticism, even if they claim to be Bible believing Christians. As I said in part one, they would never call themselves Gnostic, but, in fact, they are following what most false religions, in general, teach. We find these beliefs enticing as humans, because we want certain things. First, we want to be gods. The devil told Eve the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would make them like God. The devil was pointing out that the fruit could make Eve like God in the fact they would then have the knowledge of good and evil. However, the devil knew Eve would take this fact as meaning humans could obtain godlike status overall, and there is every reason to believe that is exactly how Eve took it.

Humans have always liked the idea we could be something more than we are, and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is what we want to be. God made us in innocence not perfection. That is exactly why God did not want us to be like Him in having the knowledge of good and evil, thus, being responsible for it. However, humans have always hoped they could have their cake and eat it too. Humans don't want to be all God created us to be, humans want to ascend to a higher state of being. They do not want God to help them, because they want to be gods; but the Bible tells us that will never happen. Being with God as the people He created us to be is what the Bible tells us is our reward; but people want what the devil wanted, to ascend to God's level and be like God. (Isa. 14:12-14)

This all boils down to an extreme selfishness. You see, people do not want a perfect God who created them because that would mean God has the right to set our boundaries. What we do not want to accept is the fact that right living has to have boundaries. Freewilled beings can't simply do whatever they want whenever they want to. There must be limits to our free will if we are going to live in a way which is fair to all. If there is always a perfect God above us, then we can never escape judgment for our selfish desires. However, if God is not perfect, we have an excuse not to be judged by Him. If we can somehow ascend to His level, then He will no longer be able to stop us from doing whatever we want! This is why Gnostics believe a lesser god created us, and this lesser god is very imperfect. In fact, this god is actually evil in many of the stories; it's practically a human's responsibility to try and escape what this god has done. This is why they teach that the lesser god has enslaved us in an attempt to limit us to this existence. This is also why they believe the higher thing - which this lesser god came from - is some unknowable power they will never have to confront.

What many people do not stop to think about is the fact, even God limits His actions according to the rules of right and wrong! This is why we see the words in James 1:13, which tell us, "...for God can not be tempted with evil neither tempteth he any man:" Even God is limited in His actions. He will not do wrong in any way, shape or form. Now, God is not limited because there is something higher telling Him what is right and wrong. God limits His own actions, because He is perfect and holy! This is something many humans simply will not accept! Some do not want to accept this because they do not want to admit that God, in His perfection, has the right to judge us. They do not want to admit there is a definable right and wrong. They do not like the idea that right and wrong is not a fuzzy gray area which we can't know. Right and wrong are not arbitrary. Others do not want to accept that God would voluntarily limit Himself because they simply believe a nature so much higher than man's is impossible. Far too many people would rather be friends with Satan than The God who created them, because birds of a feather flock together. Striving to be righteous is work which many do not want. So, it's easier to believe righteousness is unattainable or that they do not need it. The definition of a "good person" is something man wants to define amongst himself. Humans do not want a perfect God defining it. However, the Bible tells us we are all born knowing God. (Ps. 22:10, Rom. 1:18-25) Denying God's very existence is also hard. So, one of the easiest ways for us to swallow the excuse that we do not need to follow righteousness, is to say, even God is not perfect and/or His nature is something so different from ours that God only vaguely relates to our existence. This is why the Gnostic tells us the ultimate god or power is unknowable. In Gnostic belief, we only deal with the lower god(s) which are not perfect. In many ways, there is no perfect in Gnostic belief; and this is why Gnostics suggest the nature of Jesus was not perfect and clean, but more akin to the sinful nature of man. The Bible tells us, "...for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Heb. 11:6 If we are going to live with God, we must believe God is who His Word tells us He is. We can not be like those described in Romans 1:18-25 which have taken the image of a perfect God and made it like unto man and four-footed beasts.

Again, if we go to the Genesis story of Eve and the serpent, we see the seeds of Gnostic philosophy in what the devil says. In Genesis 3 verses 4-5, Satan tells Eve, "Ye shall not surely die: 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." Satan got Eve to question whether God's motives were for their good or not. If God was not working for the good of humans, then Eve had an excuse to rebel against God's instructions. Some would even say she had a duty to her offspring to set them free from this judgmentalism and give them the knowledge they needed to take care of themselves. So, Eve not only eats the fruit, but she gave also to her husband. (Gen. 3:6) Just like Eve, many people today do not want to have a conversation with God about something they question. They do not want to seek God out and find that He is perfect. Simply teaching there is reason to mistrust the perfect nature of God gives man the excuse he wants to reject a God who sets limits on their freedom and has the right to judge them when they fail to be right in their choices!

Many humans have chosen this selfishness, and they do not want the rights of other humans getting in the way of them having what they want, when they want it. This goes from the childlike idea of wanting the whole cupcake in spite of the fact there is only one cupcake and many who want it, all the way to things many think are selfless. Not always, but many times, even those who do things which seem selfless, do it to gain recognition for their actions. This is why one of the best fund-raising techniques (even among "Christians") is to promise to put someone's name in a prominent public place when they donate a certain amount of money. Recognition among men for being "good" is what many believe proves they are ascending, in a way. However, giving to gain the recognition of others means we do not want to hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:1-4 when He tells us that when we give, we should not even let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. Jesus also explains that those who do give their alms before men have their reward. The reward of recognition by men is not an eternal reward. This clearly means it's not gaining us the ability to ascend, it's actually holding us back. We need to follow in the Words of Jesus when He said, "...thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." We need to see that the only way for us to gain ground is for us to yield our will to God, and trust His guidance.

Again, we need to be reminded that Gnostic belief comes with many faces. The fact a Gnostic teaching is shrouded with Biblical characters does not change how wrong it is. Beyond the simple premise of Gnostic beliefs we have been talking about, there are many facades as to who and what god is or can be. The idea that we can transcend this world through our actions or earn transcendence through our actions or understanding, is Gnostic in nature. The idea of "enlightenment" is a Gnostic idea. This means there is much room in a Gnostic mind for what constitutes a "savior." (again that Baal theology) This is why Gnostics can encompass so many different false religions, and this brings us to an important point. You must understand, Gnostics do not believe it's the specific work of a savior that provides salvation for us. They believe it's our actions which provide the salvation, and saviors are only characters which provide understanding of how to obtain salvation or ascension.

Be careful to realize that Gnostics accept the idea there are many saviors, and thus, many opportunities to learn or earn salvation or ascension to a heavenly realm of some sort. While Gnostic belief tells us these "saviors" are divinity in nature, they are emanations from the higher power. This means they are lesser divinities. Just how less they are depends on how far down the chain of emanated deities they emanate from. In the case of "saviors," most are believed to be emanated directly from the supreme power. Who, in most Gnostic beliefs, is not the god who created humans or this world. This is a major point which separates true believers in God from Gnostics, and it should demonstrate to us just how dangerous it is for true believers to be pulled into Gnostic belief!

Our need for salvation is all based in the fact there is a perfect way to handle our choices, and only God is perfect in the execution of right and wrong. Thus, we need to try our hardest to be righteous, but we will ultimately need God's grace to save us. (Eph. 2:8) If we believe God is no better than man, and all man needs is a guide of some sort, then the Scripture means nothing. Romans 3:23 tells us, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Coming short of God's glory means we are not perfect, and even if we reached perfection in our actions, it would be a long road. Scripture teaches us that being considerate of others and being humble before God is key to our lives. We must understand why the fruits of the spirit are, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance; we should understand why, against these, we are told there is no law! (Gal. 5:22-23) Jesus told us, if we were not forgiving of others, God would not be forgiving of us! (Matt. 6:14-15) This is all truth which Gnostics are trying to escape, but we cannot afford to think we have escaped these truths.

If God is not perfect, it means nothing to us when the Bible tells us, our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; (Isa. 64:6) and we will never understand that without living in innocence as we were created, we all do things which are worthy of death all along the way. This is why God, in His perfection, had to lay on us the judgment of death; but in His mercy, He did not strike us dead, He simply removed us from the Tree of Life. (Gen. 3:22) It is crucial we understand we were given this life, not so we could try to ascend, but that we were given a chance to repent!

Under the teaching of Gnosticism, salvation can come through deep and hard self exploration which brings the greater knowledge you need to survive, or it can come from gaining a simple knowledge about the superior god's existence. It only matters which form of Gnostic belief you hold, because Gnostics can argue, salvation can come from any variation in between these two extremes. What causes there to be very little argument though, is there is no pat answer. The answer in a Gnostic mind is, "Whatever works for you!" So, Gnostic belief tells us that repentance of sin is unnecessary. Gnostic belief tells us we only need to be guided so we can find the knowledge which will save us. If we believe this, then we believe we do not need a Saviour. We care not for what we do to others or against God unless it comes in the light of gaining ground toward our ultimate goal of ascension. This idea brings us to the very human thought pattern of the strong oppressing the weak. If someone or something cannot stand in our way, then we do not care about that person or thing. If someone or something can stand in our way, then we only care about them or it because of what we stand to lose. Again, no definable right and wrong, only what keeps your life moving in the direction you want it to. In the end, we should realize that Gnostic belief is not leading us to a "higher plain of existence," it is only telling us to follow our bliss! Gnostic philosophy teaches that our past actions are irrelevant. Again, there is nothing about judgment for sin in Gnostic belief, only the thought that your existence is what you make it, and that is just the way many people like it! On the other hand, the Bible clearly tells us we will all stand before God on Judgment Day to be judged for the actions of our lives! (Rev. 20:12) So, you see how important it is for us to choose this day whom we will serve! (Josh. 24:15)

If we buy into the thoughts portrayed in writings, like The Da Vinci Code and The Gospel of Judas, we are choosing a path which is not the straight and narrow. (Matt. 7:13-14) What Gnostic belief does, is attempt to portray Jesus as simply one of many guides to salvation, not The One and Only Saviour of the world. (John 14:6) This means the nature of Jesus does not need to be pure. Nor does Jesus' life, as a man, really matter in the way the Bible tells us it did. To believe this way is a big problem, because we need a Saviour! If God does not give us a Saviour, we can never be saved, because we can never earn salvation for ourselves. This is why the devil wants to break down our belief that God is perfect and has the right to judge us. If he can do this, he can unravel our understanding of the Bible's message of who The Messiah is and what He came to do. Meaning, we will never understand our need for true salvation and how to obtain it.

Some may believe that man needs a little help in understanding exactly how to save himself; some may believe man is mostly on his own; but Gnostic belief, ultimately, tells us to rely on ourselves. Make no mistake about it, this is true, even of those who call themselves, "Christian Gnostic." Now, many "Christians" who hold very Gnostic beliefs would never call themselves "Gnostic," and many people do not even see that they are believing in a Gnostic philosophy. However, it exists, and the lack of sound doctrine in the church causes many to simply accept theology which is very wrong according to the Bible.

The most hard core "Christian Gnostic" philosophy is the idea that the inferior god is the god of the Old Testament. They say this god created us and this world we live in. Then, it is generally believed that the superior god, or at least an agent from it, is represented in the New Testament. They say the superior god emanated a lesser deity much like the one who created us. However, this deity was an agent of the superior god, and not as inclined to evil. This lesser deity's purpose was to show us the knowledge we needed to "ascend," generally to the spiritual world or region of light which the superior god lives in. Gnostics try to tell us that is who Jesus is.

"Christian Gnostics" believe God in the Old Testament is an angry God, and God in the New Testament is a God of love. They believe God in the Bible is actually two different gods, with two different agendas. This is easy for many people to swallow, because they do not know their Bible. People do not understand that Jesus came not to destroy the law but to fulfill the law. (Matt. 5:17) They do not understand how the Bible tells us the story of God's interaction with us, and it shows us the unfolding of God's grace to save us from our sin. This Biblical illiteracy is why there are many who call themselves Christians who fall into Gnostic ideas, or theologies similar to Gnostic ideas. Many people are taught such wrong things about the nature of God that they too believe God was, at the very least, some what different in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. We are not taught the continuity of God's actions.

Of course, what makes you a defined "Christian Gnostic" is nothing more than a label. You do not have to specifically believe Jesus was that lesser deity sent from the superior god or power. Jesus said, if you are not for me, you are against me. (Matt. 12:30) You cannot be for God if you are believing in an ancient false religion, even if you are redefining Biblical personalities to fit your story. That is by definition, antichrist, (1 Jn. 4:3) and this is the point we need to see clearly! Gnostics still portray Jesus as a savior but not because of who He was. To them, Jesus is important only for the information He brought. The theology among Gnosticism splinters quickly from there, but one feature that is common to most all, is the idea that there were or are many saviors besides Jesus. The Holy Spirit is said to be one, and this is clearly not what Jesus told us. Some believe John the Baptist was one, again, not a story supported by the Bible. Along with this is the idea that even men like Judas are not sinners who need to repent and receive forgiveness, but possibly one of many divine agents sent to help us find the truth. All this is fallacy! Jesus told us The Holy Spirit would not speak of Himself but put us in remembrance of all the words Jesus has spoken. (John 14:26) We are also told that John the Baptist was not The Light but was sent to bear witness of The Light, which was The True Light to save all men. (John 1:6-9) So, as I started off this series by saying, Jesus was exactly who He said He was or He was crazy.

In reality, Gnostic belief is everywhere in the church, but most do not see it because they are simply led to believe Gnostic type thinking is what Christians believe! The fact Gnostic ideas and theology pervades is no surprise. I have talked many times about man's ideas invading the thoughts of the true believer, and the Bible tells us clearly that our thoughts lead us to death. This is why Isaiah 55:6-8 instructs us, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD."

Next time, we want to get into the nature of who Jesus was and a deeper discussion as to why the pure nature of Jesus was and is important. As we go along, we also want to talk about how Jesus was not just one of many guides, but the fulfillment of the Old Testament's Words. Until next time, I hope you will continue to straighten your life through the true Word of God that you may overcome the foolish beliefs of selfish men!

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