Friday, September 7, 2012

Gnosticism part 1: secret knowledge

Yesterday I introduced a new series on Gnosticism. I'm reading Colossians, which was a prison letter from Paul to the church at Colossae. Paul was responding to Epaphras' news that the new Colossian believers were being quickly turned away from the faith by people who believed a different Gospel. What was that different Gospel? It was from the Gnostics, a group of cultish believers plaguing the church throughout the First Century, (and the second and third) and popping up here and there throughout the centuries since. Today, there is a resurgence of Gnostic belief encroaching and polluting even our fundamentalist churches among the Southern Baptist Convention. In other words, Gnosticism is a continual problem that never really went away.

The Tribulation is a time when all sins will be released for their fullest iniquity. The Holy Spirit's ministry of restraint will be taken out of the way, and all sins, spiritual and carnal, will explode onto the earth. We see the setting for this coming explosion now. All false doctrines that have ever plagued the church are rising to the fore, all at once. We are battling Gnosticism, Mysticism, Liberalism, Post-Modernism, Legalism, Ecumenism, Prosperity Gospel, and much more. Jesus's Seven Letters to the Seven Churches contained in Revelation 2-3 are a listing of some of the false doctrines and behavioral failings the early believers were falling prey to. Those false doctrines and behaviors hinder us now.

Zondervan's NIV bible lists 6 elements that comprise Gnosticism. They are not exclusive, as Gnosticism has several branches and many different elements can be said to comprise the philosophy. In addition, several other false doctrines overlap Gnosticism, such as Mysticism and Legalism, for example. But for the sake of brevity (sort of) we will stick with the Zondervan 6. They are:

1. secret knowledge,
2. asceticism,
3. depreciation of Christ (lowering Him in name and in glory),
4. strict rule-keeping, ceremonies, or rituals
5. worship of angels,
6. and reliance on human wisdom and traditions

Today we will take a look at the element of "secret knowledge".

David Grabbe wrote in "Whatever Happened to Gnosticism?" that "Gnosticism was the predominant source of heresy when the New Testament was written. The books of John, I Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, I and II Timothy, Jude, and I John all combat various elements of Gnosticism. Even the book of Revelation cites a couple of Gnostic beliefs and practices, referring to "know[ing] the depths of Satan" and "the Nicolaitans" (Revelation 2:6, 15, 24)."
Gene Edward Veith wrote in World Magazine in this 2006 article "The Return of the Cainites," "The Gnostics were eastern mystics who taught that the physical realm is intrinsically evil and that the spirit can be freed from its bondage to physicality through the attainment of secret knowledge (or "gnosis"). They rejected the Christian doctrine of creation (saying that the material world is evil). They denied the incarnation (saying that Christ was a spiritual being who brought the secret knowledge and denying that He became "flesh"). And they denied the redemption (saying that sin is not a moral failure – since what we do in the flesh does not affect our spirits – but simply a lack of spiritual knowledge)."

Jennifer Trafton and Rebecca Colossanov wrote in "Gnostics: Did you Know?" that "The Gnostics sometimes claimed that secret truth had been handed down by one apostle to a select group of insiders. But Christian opponents like Irenaeus argued that the true church represented the teaching of all of the apostles passed on in many locations."

The word "Gnosticism" comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means "knowledge." Gnosticism rejects the doctrines of original sin, human depravity and salvation through the substitutionary death of Christ. It emphasizes transcendence through inward, intuitive knowledge, i.e., "gnosis," of the "divine spark in each individual." (source)

Just to show how quickly satan sought to hinder Christ's work, Simon Magus, the sorcerer from Acts 8:9-24 is said through tradition via Irenaeus to be the originator of Gnosticism.

As a kid, I used to be fascinated with the secret decoder rings you got in Cracker Jacks (back when they had good prizes!). And who could forget Ralphie’s excitement at getting closer to decoding the secret message from the Little Orphan Annie Radio radio show in the movie A Christmas Story. Ovaltine and other companies marketed early decoders to children which often included "secret messages" on their radio shows. These could be decoded for a preview of the next episode of the show.

This was creatively immortalized in the movie where the show's announcer transmitted a secret message each week. Ralphie’s message deciphered to: "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine,” a message from the show’s sponsor. He muttered angrily, “a crummy Ovaltine commercial”.

Secret codes have a popular attraction for us, because we all want to know. We all want to be on the inside, no one wants to be left out.

The world is confusing and tumultuous, and in our fleshly pride we all want to make sense of it, and sometimes, even use that knowledge to get a leg up on the competition. Otherwise, why would Insider Trading of stock secrets be a Federal Crime, Corporate Spying be such a problem, and stealing plays and codes from football organizations be such a problem? We all want insider information the other guy has and we all want to protect our own information we already possess from the other guy.

Jesus said we have no power apart from Him, Gnostics say we have a Divine Spark that if we access and activate through secret knowledge, we will have as much power as Jesus. Jesus said to deny the flesh, and follow Him, Gnostics say the flesh (material world) is evil but we must be true to ourselves and follow our desires. Jesus said that all knowledge is from Jesus and has been delivered once for all to the saints, Gnostics say that accessing secret knowledge is the mechanism of salvation. The Gnostics claim that the early church "suppressed" the real knowledge, particularly the role of and contributions of women.

Additionally, people do not want to believe the reality and simplicity of the Gospel message, because people want to believe they have power and ability to save themselves. Nor do they hold the final truths to be in the bible, but instead should be explored from within, via mantras, rituals, and paths. In this way, Gnostics comfortably create their own truths rather than submit to One Truth. That is why, when yet another paper/book/doctrine comes along, people flock to it, triumphantly crowing, the real information is now out.

The bible says these people will be "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." Further, they are "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:5, 7). They know about God. But they do not know God.

In 1945, Egyptian farmers near Luxor found earthenware jars buried in the sand containing papyrus codices of ancient writings. When these papers at Nag Hammadi were discovered, many people thought that at last, the real information is now here. The codices included Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, The Apocalypse of Adam, The (First) Apocalypse of James, The (Second) Apocalypse of James, The Apocalypse of Paul, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Apocryphon of James, The Apocryphon of John, The Book of Thomas the Contender, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Thomas. Other Gnostic writings were discovered at other times, such as the Gospel of Judas, and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
Nag Hammadi codices, Source Wikipedia
The "Gospel" of Judas opens with one of Gnosticism's famous buzzwords, secret. Specifically, it states "the secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot."

God does not speak secrets. If He speaks, it is for all to hear. "Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit." (Isaiah 48:16).

"For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light." (Mark 4:22)

"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)

"Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret." (John 18:20).


Despite clear teachings of the bible that Jesus said His teaching is not a secret, Gnosticism is alive and well in Christianity. It is also alive and well in popular culture. The 2007 book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne exploded across the Western world as 'the answer' to life's problems. It was featured in Oprah's book club. If you think Gnosticism is dead, that people are satisfied with the sufficient and inerrant bible and its answers, just look at the numbers clamoring for the 'secret' knowledge Ms Byrne would impart. Challies wrote in his review of the book, "The week after Oprah’s endorsement sales of The Secret jumped from 18,000 to 101,000. The week after a second endorsement sales rose to 190,000."

Ms Byrne isn't done. This is the promo for her new book, The Magic: "For more than twenty centuries, words within a sacred text have mystified, confused, and been misunderstood by almost all who read them. Only a very few people through history have realized that the words are a riddle, and that once you solve the riddle - once you uncover the mystery - a new world will appear before your eyes.  In The Magic, Rhonda Byrne reveals this life-changing knowledge to the world. "

The Da Vinci Code is another book and movie with Gnostic origins. Pretty much any "Christian" insight or doctrine that emphasizes codes is Gnostic in origin. Carl Jung was much taken with Gnosticism and therefore Jungian psychology contains many elements of it. Sarah Young's Jesus Calling is Gnostic, (Tim Challies reviewed it here).

Much these days from Beth Moore is Gnostic. She repeatedly claims insider knowledge delivered directly to her and that she is to teach it. Moore recently said Jesus lifted her into another dimension to see the global church as He sees it and told her to return with this information and teach it, essentially saying she has been given special, secret knowledge which she now shares with others. Moore also promotes Lectio Divina, a mystical spiritual discipline which emphasizes gaining special knowledge of God through personal experience by emptying the mind and repeating babbling mantras. 1 Timothy 6:20 has something to say about irreverent babbling.

Gnosticism emphasizes meditation, mantras, and extreme mysticism because salvation to the Gnostics came via intuitive, personal knowledge and direct experience. Salvation is derived internally by knowledge and works, not externally from God. Those who did not attain knowledge were associated with ignorance, a particular evil to Gnostics. To a Gnostic, direct revelation from the Spirit is always more important than the word.

Buzzwords to listen for: The divine spark, lost books/lost knowledge, secret teachings, new insight, duality, seed, ascend, the Divine Feminine or the Feminine Divine, oneness.

Seen in: Scientology, New Age, Freemasonry, Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God curriculum, Emergent Church, Benny Hinn...

This blogger wrote, "Gnosticism is Satan’s classic tool for combating the (difficult) truths of Christianity."

Brethren, do not seek after books that purport to reveal new insights, deliver new knowledge, or have uncovered lost secrets. Jesus came to us visibly, preached, prophesied and taught, so that we would repent of our sins, have His Light of salvation through His grace. He delivered His word to us in the bible and nothing in there is a secret. It is open and available to all believers, and contains all one needs to know that is good and profitable. (2 Timothy 3:16).

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
(Proverbs 3:1-2)


Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshmentc to your bones
(Proverbs 3:5-8) [emphasis mine].
----------------------
Gnosticism series:

Introduction
Part 1: Secret Knowledge
Part 2: Asceticism
Part 3: Depreciation of Jesus
Part 4: Ceremonies & Rituals
Part 5: Worship of Angels
Part 6: Human Traditions 
Conclusion

23 comments :

  1. Gnosticism, they anti Catholic. God bless them all.

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  2. Thanks, Elizabeth, for always telling it like it is! There was a REASON the Lord led me to THIS site! Rather long to go into now, but I'll tell you once we're in heaven via the SOON rapture!

    **yes, you are right ~ many Gnostics ARE Catholic... (I'm not btw) but my SIL is ~ whose all *giddy* about some "medium" she sees on TV. My DH (her brother) told her that's not Scriptural... however I imagine that fell on deaf ears. Pity.

    **Hey thanks, Elizabeth for mentioning Sarah Young's book ~ a good friend recently gave me that book & I let it sit here for a long time as I was extremely busy -- she kept prompting, "have you read it yet?" (she thought it was THEE greatest thing on earth!) So a couple weeks ago I opened its pages -- and fortunately (again partly due to learning things from your site) I had my eyes wide open to what "automatic writing" is & I was able to recognize that's what Sarah was talking about from the get-go.

    I promptly took the book to the outside garbage bucket & tossed it in. Not sure yet what I'm going to say to the friend, I must tell her the truth when she asks.

    Keep up the good work! Can't wait to see you get your reward in heaven! Maranatha!

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    1. Hi Reva,

      I'm soooo glad this helped you! I know that studying Colossians more deeply is blessing me, also.

      As for "Jesus Calling", I fail to see how her 'conversations with God' are any different from Neale Donald Walsch's books called "Conversations With God." LOL.

      Are today's Christians so inured to the power of a High, Holy God that they claim to 'chat' with him daily and then have the audacity to say they are speaking His words from Him? I see that they do. What happened when Isaiah was speaking to God? He fell down and cried aloud that he was undone and cursed his own unholy lips! What happened when Paul was taken to heaven and saw things? He said the things he saw were not proper for man to utter.

      Yet Sarah Young hobnobs every day with God like a buddy. I really likes Tim Challies' review. He explained what was the worst thing about the book: she not only claims to be listening audibly to Jesus, not only claims to be speaking FROM Jesus, but she wrote it down as a *devotional* so that we would worship HER words!

      I'm so glad you threw it out!!! Many people hesitate to throw out an item that was bought with money, or was a gift, and usually that is a right position to take, but when it comes to books which are destructive to the faith, what is someone supposed to do with it? Let it languish on one's own bookshelf, taking up room where another, better book could be sitting and to be a continued temptation? Give it to someone else where they may also be deluded? Of course not. Trash is what it is and trash is where books like that should go. Telling your friend that, gently with reasons, will make a huge impression. :)

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  3. why do you hate liberalism so much...you do realize if it was not for liberalism racism would still be considered perfectly acceptable...

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    1. LOL, "you do realize" that liberalism brought us a 16T debt and a bunch of crazy hoo-has booing God. And "you do realize" that without conservatism, the American Revolution would never have occurred. But we digress. What do you think of GNOSTICISM?

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  4. gnosticism is just silly nonsense, gospel of judas is an interesting read but thats about it.... and no,the american founding fathers where liberals, well compared to king George anyways....

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  5. In liberalism is the TRUE seed of Slavery. Please, study the Democratic Party in depth. It was born in the South from leaders getting their own back. The KKK, Jim Crow Laws, Margaret Sangers' Planned Parenthood(planned genocide against the black race.) All of the New Society of FDR to the re-enslavement now by keeping most black people to a false low of expectation for income, quality of life, and a busted up family life. The Southern Democrats(I am from the South) have done a bang-up job of turning truth on it's ear. If you only knew what they thought of an entire race behind closed doors. PLEASE wake up!

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  6. Elizabeth, What a relief it has been to me to read these things on your blog over the last few days. I am almost at the end of Beth Moore's...test...

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  7. Elizabeth, Over the last few days I have been reading your blog and I must express the relief I have felt as a result of your well-written words. I am almost to the end of Beth Moore's Breaking Free study. I had enjoyed much of what I studied in the homework and found her messages inspiring and thought-provoking on the DVDs, along with the other dozen women in my class. UNTIL the last session. Right before going to the last session I decided to do a quick search on discernment and Moore, due in part to a friend telling me that she thinks that I have a gift for discernment. I have no idea if this is an actual "gift" that Scripture indicates God gives people, and now, after reading a lot of what you have said, I am interested in checking in to that...Anyway, I began to read some things that concerned me, mainly because you back everything with Scripture and your writing is so clearly done in loving, not mean or condemning way. Refuting, yes. But gentle.

    You made me think about how Moore has us write things repeatedly, sometimes Scripture but sometimes NOT, such as...Write the 5 Benefits of Knowing God. And then again, maybe a couple of homeworks later. And perhaps again. These are her mantras, not Scripture, mind you.

    I could go on but I only have a few minutes. I want you to know that I have experience a huge relief after reading Tim Challies' articles, which you linked me to. I have never heard of him before, but WOW. Thank you, Elizabeth and thank you God, for using these people to minister to someone like me! I can't tell you how often I have felt like something is wrong with me or that I must have some sin blocking my interaction with God because I don't hear the "still, small voice" people are always talking about. And yet, I LOVE reading his Word. I am convinced that his word is alive and active and oh, what joy it brings me. Thank you for defining exegisis. I had never heard of that before. I am so excited.

    Have a great day.

    Melissa in Cincinnati

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    1. Melissa, you bring tears to my eyes to even think that the Holy Spirit ministered to you through anything I've written. Oh, what joy to meet a sister in Christ. :)

      I am so proud of you for checking these things out. I always link to mature men in the faith (Challies, Phil Johnson, Don Green, Steve Lawson, John MacArthur, Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry CARM/Matt Slick, GotQuestions/Robin Schumacher, Mike Abendroth at No Compromise Radio...) is because that is where the action is. Once you're led to good, solid bible believing men, you are in good stead in the discernment department. I'm like a starter kit pointing to deeper resources.

      Here are a few more resources that speak to some things you've mentioned. As for hearing God's voice, Pastor Mike Abendroth, has a 30 minute radio show called No Compromise Radio, but also a 90 second clip called NoCo90 on Youtube. In this 90-second clip Pr. Abendroth discusses the 'hearing God's voice' issue. Beth Moore is huge on listening for the voice, and write in her books that she hears Him in full sentences, even channels Him in visions and receives whole texts which she turns into her books. Yikes.
      The 90 second clip is here:
      God Told Me He Doesn't Speak to Anyone Else Anymore
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTjXszMXRF8

      Abendroth also did a 90-second spot called "Where is Beth Moore's Husband?"
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLU1wR3Rzg8

      John MacArthur did a 2-minute spot titled
      Does God give us personal direction through a still small voice?
      You can listen to it here
      http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA001/does-god-give-us-personal-direction-through-a-still-small-voice

      As for the gift of discernment, Tim Challies literally write the book on it. Noticing there was an absence of solid books on the skill of discernment he wrote a book called the Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. It is available on Amazon but major portions also are on google books

      http://books.google.com/books?id=hR50Q9optgoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=challies+spiritual+discernment&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FSROUYKyHcW24AOww4DoCA&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA.

      Never fear, there is nothing wrong with you that you don't hear the voice, and the nagging feeling that you've had that something was off about Beth Moore is true and discernment in action. Be sure to pray and thank the Holy Spirit who raised your spiritual alarm. Also if you pray for discernment, He will deliver it. (James 1:5; Hebrews 5:14; Philippians 1:9).

      Charles Spurgeon said "Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right." Beth Moore is almost right but the God she leads people to is still the wrong one.

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  8. Elizabeth, Here are a couple of questions.

    What if a dear friend tells me that she got a "word" for me or that during her morning meditation God gave her a scripture for me?

    Also, recently at our church it has been announced that there will be a search for a replacement pastor over the next year as the current pastor steps down from his position. It has been asked of the congregation that we pray for the right person to be found. What do you think of prayer in general? In Tim Challies' articles about God's will for our lives and making decisions that will please God, I liked what he said about searching Scripture to find if something is clearly right or wrong and then, in the freedom that God gives us, to go ahead and make a decision because at that point is it not a matter of right or wrong but better or best. In other words, quit with the agonizing, people (including myself haha)! At the same time, do we pray for the "right" person to be found? What happens when we pray? Do you have a post about this or a link to one?

    Again, thank you for pointing me back to God's Word. I really feel like I have been in captivity for too long because of the plethora of books that take the author's ideas and pick this and that Scripture to back up the ideas, but don't really start with the Bible, but with the human. I was really thinking that something was seriously wrong with me.

    Lord, help me! I have been misled and so many others are, too. What beautiful freedom to know that I can read your Word and know your will for me life and then, wow, actually go LIVE. I don't need to take class after class, trying to break free of anything because you have already freed me!

    That's the other thing...the psychologist/Christan blend going on in Moore's stuff is really starting to turn me off. It makes me feel like I have to constantly be digging up something to "break free" of instead of just accepting that Christ already did that for me, once and for all.

    Thank you for all of the information about Spiritism, too.

    Very helpful blog.

    Melissa in Cincinnati

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    1. I am heartbroken over what Mrs Moore has done to woman in terms of Christian psychology and pits and breaking free.

      Christian psychology is an outgrowth of prosperity Gospel, Eastern mysticism, and Legalism. These three separate false doctrines are beginning to cross and merge. It goes a little something like this:

      You deserve your best life now, Jesus died so you can be happy and wealthy and prosper. You have your best life now. If you are not happy and prosperous, you're not doing it right. Pray harder, fast longer, and speak more declaratively. Work at it! If you're still not getting what Jesus said you can have, like, a good parking space at the mall, then that means you're stuck in a pit. You need to spend massive amounts of money at either a Christian psychologist delving into yourself endlessly, (taking your eyes off Jesus who gave you the victory) or spend massive amounts of money buying Beth Moore studies to listen to HER version of Christianity rather than Jesus's, to learn the trick to successful living. She must know, she's worth 4 million.

      You might like the Sola Sisters' essay "Breaking Free from Beth Moore"
      http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2010/03/breaking-free-from-beth-moore-and-her.html

      You're so right- you ARE free! Beth Moore constantly puts us back in pits and holes but that is just so we can go out and get more Beth Moore studies. I had a conversation with a woman who I defined as a BM groupie at the Living Proof conference two years ago in Charlotte NC, who is happily convinced that she always has a hole to get out of. It sounded exhausting. That conversation is here

      http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2011/07/beth-moore-reactions-to-living-proof.html

      As far as the word from someone goes, GotQuestions answers it specifically, saying to begin with:

      "Some Charismatics/Pentecostals view the word of knowledge and word of wisdom spiritual gifts as the Holy Spirit speaking from one believer to another, giving revelation regarding a decision or situation. Those who use these gifts in that way will often say something to the effect of, “I have a word from the Lord for you.” In doing so, they claim to be speaking on behalf of God, and claim that their words are to be strictly obeyed."

      The short essay explains the word of knowledge and shows you what it is NOT

      Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/word-wisdom-knowledge.html#ixzz2OP4ncHKC

      I read the word directly and bathe it in prayer asking the Spirit to open my eyes and heart. I listen to sermons by preachers who preach exposition, verse by verse through a book, not topically. I read essays online from the credible sources I've already shared with you. I read commentaries from the old timey men like Charles Spurgeon or Albert Barnes.

      The best is when the Spirit delivers an insight to me directly as I read His word. I don't mean audible voice or an inner voice. I mean bringing to mind a previous verse which connects with it, or develops a clarity that I hadn't had before. The best teacher is the Spirit.

      Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. proverbs 3:5. One of the Spirit's ministries is to teach us! John 14:26.

      you have many hours of joy in front of you, just you and the Spirit through His word. It is precious. :)

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    2. Here is a thought on pastor searches to answer your question

      When a pastor leaves
      http://www.gotquestions.org/pastor-leaves.html

      Mark Dever write two articles on pastor search committees, "Let’s consider some dangers and pitfalls that may await the average search committee. Then in the next article we’ll consider why the church’s elders, including the outgoing pastor, are best suited to leading the search for a pastor’s replacement."
      http://www.9marks.org/journal/what%E2%80%99s-wrong-search-committees-part-1-2-finding-pastor

      Another perspective is here, dealing specifically for prayer for the search committee and at the end of the essay there are specific prayer suggestions.

      http://gotpreaching.wordpress.com/2007/10/03/praying-as-a-pastoral-search-committee/

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  9. Elizabeth,

    Thank you for the time you took to offer your thoughts and links. I haven't made it through all of them but I am digesting what you provided. Yesterday I watched the 2-hour Youtube video that is on the Sola Sisters' site about the roots of the Emerging/Emergent Church. The more I read and observe, the more concerned I am becoming of people, close people in my life, and myself included, possibly being misled by many false teachers. The emphasis on feelings, emotions and experiences is of great concern to me. The endless longing to "hear God's voice" when we have what he wants to say to us right here in his Word is bothersome to me.

    On the side bar you have a post about the Still Small Voice and in the essay you talk about clearing away the distractions in our lives to hear it. Then you say that another way to hear the still small voice is by reading God's Word. Will you please help me to understand the difference between what you are saying is the incorrect hearing of God's voice and the still small voice that is what we are to hear? I am not sure if I understand the distinction. Do you mean that an audible voice/whispering is not something to expect (like what is played out in Moore's books or in the Jesus Calling devotional) and yet we can still receive an impression/voice of sorts by the power of the Holy Spirit while reading the Word?

    When talking about some of these things with my husband (I am trying to refrain
    If you can offer some clarity about the hearing of the still small voice that will mean a great deal to me. I am plodding through Romans currently after reading slowly through Acts, about a chapter or 2 per day, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate what I need to gain understanding by as I go along. I am experiencing great peace as a result and also becoming aware of the massive amount of involvement in things pertaining to what you and others you have linked me to information about...Beth Moore worship, a friend who recently went through a week-long "spiritual formation" retreat in California (this friend is extremely precious to me and we had a discipling relationship about that began about 12 years ago so she knows me very well), currently myself and many people I know who attend mega-churches, a mom's group where they had a prayer "labrynth" set up, someone who does my hair and who told me about Jesus Culture, and on and on.

    I am continuing to pray for discernment with all of this and I thank you for your devotion to getting your message out.

    Melissa

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  10. Also, do you know what the character limit is on these comments? I have been unable to publish what I have originally written, having to delete large portions to get it down to size.

    Thanks,

    Melissa

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    1. part 1
      Hi Melissa,

      Your questions are excellent! Thank you for giving me an opportunity to clarify. First, the character limit is 4096 with no spaces. Something you can always do it either chunk it up and say at the end of part 1 “end part 1” and make a second comment right underneath to finish it, or you can email me. If it going to be really long it’s sometimes better to email, because at 4096 characters the comment would sometimes be longer than the original essay. Readers don’t often stick around for lengthy passages.

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    2. part 2

      The Still Small Voice is not a voice of God nor is it a personal experience, intuition, or a word from the Lord (or word of knowledge). Revelation has ceased, the canon of the bible is closed. In these last days He spoke to us by His son. (Hebrews 1:2).

      GotQuestions.org
      discusses the still, small voice-
      “The point of God speaking in the still small voice was to show Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity. Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work.”

      Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/still-small-voice.html#ixzz2OetuDimy

      The still, small voice thing has thus been ripped from its context as a demonstration of a narrow point to Elijah about Israel, to apply to all New Testament believers as expecting personal words from God. Not so.

      That said, one of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is to reveal scripture to us. He brings these things to mind. (John 14:26). He develops fruit in us for the name of Jesus. (Galatians 5:22-23).

      And this:

      “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

      He is our teacher. Does He teach us scriptural truths via a voice? No. But He does clarify scripture for us. Here we have MacArthur explaining the difference between a voice from God about scripture and the Holy Spirit clarifying scripture:

      "The line between clarifying Scripture and adding to it is indeed a thin one. But Scripture is not clarified by listening to someone who thinks he has the gift of prophecy. Scripture is clarified as it is carefully and diligently studied. There are no shortcuts to interpreting God's word accurately (cf. Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15)."

      That was from a 4-part article series called "Does God give personal direction through a still, small voice?"
      http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA001/does-god-give-us-personal-direction-through-a-still-small-voice

      The ‘voice' is the Word, given to us via scripture (John 1:1-5)

      Scripture teaches us, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states,
      “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

      The WORD trains us in righteousness and equips us, not a small voice. For training and equipping, one has to study.

      As for me personally, the practicalities of the situation are that I approach the bible in various ways. Sometimes I just read it, like a book. I might read a chapter with nothing else in mind but to simply read. During sermons I have the bible open and read along with the pastor. Other times when I prepare to *study*, I pray first. I also repent. I spend some quiet time. When I get ready to study, I have a notebook and a pen handy. I use my study bible. Then, I read it, stopping frequently (like every verse or even within a verse) to ponder. I check cross references. I might look at parallel verses to see how it is said in other translations. As you can imagine, it’s painstaking.

      But when I study, and all is quiet and I’ve prepared my mind, then the Spirit brings to mind connections to other verses I have read. Or He deepens my understanding of the one I am reading now and perhaps have read before. THAT is the voice, not something audible but the Spirit working in me to knit together an understanding of a passage that I had not had before. But I have to work at it.

      Hope this helps a bit... :)

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    3. Thank you, Elizabeth!

      That was very helpful and I appreciate the clarification. I read through what you said and you gave me more understanding. I will read John MacArthur's article series on the topic as well. Also, I will communicate through email for these lengthier discussions and include the other things (there are many) on my mind.

      This evening my husband and I watched the Emergent church video. I am trying not to burden him w a ton of articles and essays to read as I am exploring these topics so it seemed like a good way for him to get a sense of what's been on my mind.

      It is overwhelming the prevalance of false teaching that surrounds us but I plan to press on.

      Melissa


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    4. Hi Melissa,

      Great! I'm glad it helped some. I'm also glad you're speaking with your husband on these things. It must be very exciting for you to be released from darkness and be in the light, with more light to come!

      I'd advise only one thing: it IS important to understand deception, but the way to do that is through truth. Bankers are trained to spot a counterfeit by having intense training in handling only the real bill. As you begin to understand more and more what is deception, be sure to always study the real bible foremost.

      When I was first saved, that first year, I was fascinated with nephilim, fallen angels, and how they operate. I spent some time seeking information about them. Gradually I noticed I was spending more time studying THEM than I was studying Jesus! So I stopped and always made sure to have a good, individual bible session going between me and the Holy Spirit.

      I'm glad you plan to press on. Please always feel free to email. Next week is spring break and I'll be home all day, every day! :)

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    5. ELIZABETH,i read a while back a gnostic text which i cant find again, but when ADAM started to become mortal he complained to JESUS, who replied that when he died he would remain in the earth for X amount of time until he was pierced,do you know what that X time was, and where i can find that text, thanks, BILL.

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    6. Hi Bill, I have read nothing like that in the bible. If it is a Gnostic text, is is a lie.

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  11. ELIZABETH, i think it was a gnostic site, thanks for the reply. BILL

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