1 JOHN - The Deception of Gnosticism Print E-mail

1 JOHN – INTRODUCTION AND CHAPTER 1

THE DECEPTION OF GNOSTICISM

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

October 23, 2018, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

 

It is considered by some commentaries that 1 John was written from Ephesus about 90 AD. 

 

John could not have continued to make his home in Jerusalem after the Jewish War of AD 66 which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  Before that event, James the Lord’s brother and Peter---who together with John formed the leadership of the early disciples (Gal. 2:9). 

 

Peter, James and Paul met death in martyrdom.

 

 John was left alone.

 

At that time, the church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, was being troubled with teachers bringing a Jewish form of Christianity (Gnosticism).

 

1 Tim. 6:20:  Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions falsely called science (gnosis); which some professing have erred concerning the faith.  Grace be with you.  Amen.

 

Gnosticism: ( “having knowledge”) is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieus in the first and second century.  They were teaching “another Jesus.”  Several religions evolved out of Gnosticism including Buddhism. 

 

Some of the teachings which evolved from this sect are:

 

  1. All matter is evil, and the non-material, spirit-realm is good.
  2. There is an unknowable God, who gave rise to many lesser spirit beings called Aeons.
  3.  One evil, lower spirit being is the creator who made the universe.
  4. Gnosticism does not deal with “sin”, only ignorance.
  5. To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.

 

In the Persian Empire, Gnosticism spread as far as China with Manichaeism while Mandaeism is still alive in Iraq.

 

With Paul now dead, and Asia fast becoming the focus of two dangerous movements (Emperor-worship and Gnosticism) which in fact came close to strangling the life of the Church in the first century, John took up frequent residence in Ephesus.  John would at that time be in his mid or late sixties.  He lived in Ephesus until his death about the end of the century, Ephesus and later the Isle of Patmos remained his home.  It was a convenient centre for pastoral supervision of the province, including the well known seven churches of the Revelation.  Roads joined them all, and from a point twenty miles up the hill road from Ephesus, a compass of eighty miles would take in all seven, and the isle of Patmos as well.

 

C. H. Dodd (the Johan nine Epistles-1946) suggests that the First Letter was called forth by the crisis referred to in 1 Jn. 2:19:

 

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.  But you have an anointed from the Holy One, and you know all things.

 

He is speaking of those who were following Gnosism and a false Christ.  These were men of influence in the churches of Asia with prophetic and teaching ability, and had been attempting to introduce an enlightened and advanced doctrine of the kind which came to be known as Gnostic.

 

The Church, however, with the discernment of the Holy Spirit rejected the new teaching.  The false prophets had no option but to leave the fellowship of the churches.  A false prophet preaches a false doctrine. 

 

The Gnostic’s pride was in his knowledge.  Ideas were the great thing, rather than the Life and Ascension of Christ upon which Christianity is built.

 

The concrete actualities of the incarnation and the resurrection were laughed out of court as childish literalism.

 

  Knowing this before we start chapter 1: 1-3, gives clarity to John’s Letter:  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life---the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us---that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 

 

The Gnostic’s knowledge was not for all, but for the select few who had been initiated.  In their vanity of religion, it set them in a special class far above common humanity, and emancipated them from the morality which governed the unenlightened.  It was unthinkable that the Word should become flesh, and the Incarnation was denied.  Cerinthus, a heretical teacher,  in Asia at that period, taught that “the Christ” came upon the man Jesus at his baptism, and left him before his crucifixion.  All these denials of the Gospel are firmly dealt with by John in this lst Letter.

 

We live in the metropolis of Houston, Texas and I can promise some of this goofy teaching is all over this city.  The Gnostic teachers also had false claims to spirituality.  It was worse than idle to say, as those teachers were saying, We are the light, unless sin is being confessed and put away, the claim We know God is utterly incredible except through the Blood of Jesus Christ. 

 

John takes the Christian vocabulary which is being abused by those false teachers “disinfects” it, fills it with its true Christian content and restores it to Christian use.  These false teachers had distorted the truth of the gospel.  For John, truth and gospel is about the one who is the Truth.

 

In chapter 2, He warns the Church against Antichrists.  Those who are Antichrists are those who oppose the teachings of Christ and lead people astray separating them from the true community of Christ’s followers. 

 

This letter like all the Holy Writ is for the time it was written and the people to whom it was written; to us now and to all future generations because the crisis of the hour is always with us; and false teachers and false prophets continue to preach another gospel and another Jesus.  In chapter 2, John appeals to the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all truth. 

 

Like those Christians originally addressed, most of us are not new to Christianity.  We are still faced with social customs rather than conviction.  The clean strong winds of the Letter separate chaff from wheat, or at least show us the lines along which one may test himself.  This very practical letter is ours today as the condensed moral and practical application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We guard against false teachers in these last days when we heed John’s warnings and follow his guidance. 

 

Two weeks ago on a Sunday morning, the Lord spoke to me, Carolyn tell the people to not be studying the doctrines of demons.

 

Henry reminded me of that “Word” after I preached this message at the Tuesday Morning Bible Study.  I received another confirmation from a ministry friend here in Houston that a large denominational church was promoting a book that encouraged women to worship a goddess of wisdom.   As a church body, we must continually study the Holy Word of God that we will not be deceived by any of the false doctrines of our age. 

 

The gospel speaks of the person of Christ as the incarnation of the Eternal Word, and the manifestation of the Eternal Life.  When John declares that which was from the beginning, the apostle is stating the doctrine has never changed.  It consists of the testimony of those who were eye-witnesses of the salvation events, and its truth is unchanging. 

 

This is from the Passion Bible:

 

1 Jn. 1: 1-5:  We saw him with our very own eyes.

We gazed upon him and heard him speak.

Our hands actually touched him,

The one who was from the beginning,

The Living Expression of God.

This Life-Giver was made visible

And we have seen him.

We testify to this truth;

The eternal Life-Giver

Lived face-to-face with the Father

And has now dawned upon us.

So we proclaim to you

What we have seen and heard

About this Life-Giver

So that we may share and enjoy

This life together,

For truly our fellowship is with the Father

And with his Son, Jesus, the Anointed One.

 

We are writing these things to you because we want to release to you our fullness of joy.

 

This is the life-giving message we heard him share and it’s still ringing in our ears.  John says, we now repeat his words to you; God is pure light.  You will never find even a trace of darkness in him.”

 

These expressions are emphatic!  No simple reader would seek another meaning.  The apostles were the eyes, ears and hands of the Church.  They heard and saw; Perfect tense---the words and deeds of Jesus.  His promise to them that He would cause them to remember His words is part of their being.

 

Jhn. 16:4: These things I have told you, that when the times shall come, you may remember that I told you of them.

 

The divine life of God is manifest in the person of Jesus.  The Letter declares the same divine life is in the believer.  If the life of Jesus – eternal life—is truly present.  Our eternal life is with the Father beginning here on earth.   

 

1:2:  For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.

 

1:4-7:  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

Light and Fire accompany God’s Presence.  The Shekinah Glory is seen as a blaze of glory.  When the incarnate Word dwelt among men, there was a glory of the one and only Son.  In Psa. 43:3, light is the medium of perception and therefore truth and revelation.  Light is outgoing and so light is here described as the medium of fellowship and of love. 

 

Psa. 43:3: Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!

Let them lead me;

Let them bring me to Your holy hill

And to Your tabernacle.

 

Supremely God is He who is the light, the Father and the Son are in eternal, loving fellowship the same was in the beginning with God and is now in the bosom of the Father.   The light of Life is the salvation which Christ brings.  Light which cannot co-exist with or yield to darkness is the symbol of ultimate victory.  Judgment consists of bringing to light what is hidden in darkness whether good or evil.  In contrast, darkness represents the realm of Satan, with ignorance, enmity, guilt, and the nether gloom in which the wicked await the day of judgment. 

 

The foundation of morality, integrity and true ethics is in the knowledge of the character of the God to whom we are answerable.

 

If our actual conduct being such that out of shame and fear, we conceal our deeds and are not living in frank and loving fellowship with fellow Christians, then we are both speaking and acting out of falsehood; our words and lives are a lie.

 

1 John 1:If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

 

The Gnostic heretics claimed sin had been eradicated from their hearts.  John is again directly disputing this claim.  He is saying they are not only mistaken, but have only themselves to blame for going astray.

 

If we confess and bring into the light of God our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins.  God’s forgiveness is consistent with His own character and His righteousness.

 

If we claim we have not sinned our course in deceit is complete.   We deny the whole testimony of God’s word, and the need for His redemptive activity for which Jesus Christ came to earth, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead.

 

This is not a license to sin or misinterpret this grace.  “I may as well commit sin since everyone else does.  God will forgive me.”  I have heard this come out of peoples’ mouths.

 

Chapter 2 continues with “you are my dear children, and I write these things to you so that you won’t sin.  But if anyone does sin, we continually have a forgiving Redeemer who is face-to-face with the Father; Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (Passion translation).

 

God is the essence of love, the reality of all that is true; and the Father who saves, having sent His Son into the world as our Savior.  Everything that is true about God is ours, because we have been born of God and enjoy unbroken fellowship with him.

 

It’s only when we truly understand who Jesus Christ is that we can experience the heart of God.  A distorted understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ  distorts how we live, which is why Jesus Christ takes center stage in John’s letter.  Every chapter is fixed on Jesus Christ.  He is unveiled as the Living Expression of God.  He is our atoning sacrifice, the one who shed his blood for our sins.  He is our paraclete who advocates before the Father’s throne on our behalf.  He is our standard for living, the one in whom we are to actively remain. 

 

John’s letter is largely concerned with preserving and discerning the truth about Jesus.

 

  I believe in the times we are now living, this Letter must be proclaimed and declared by the Church.

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

www.eastgateministries.com

Scripture from K.J.V. and Passion Translation.  I entered into the labors of F.F. Bruce Bible Commentary.  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.

Hi, Carolyn!  I’m a researcher, and this is what I found:  The mystery religions of Free Masonry, Skull & Bones, Rosicrucians, St. Millay, Mafia (Ital part of Free Masonry structure), the Vatican, Jesuits, Luciferians, NWO, Theosophy, Kabala, B’nai Brith, Illuminati, etc.  are the gnostic teachings and intermingled with out-and-out satanism and New Age concepts (which are really Old Age -- lies of Satan and demons).  So, that’s what all of this politically correct persecution is guiding the public to accept – pan-theism, multi-gods for everyone – take your pick -- so no one will be offended…except of course, with Jesus Christ, who “offends” their intellect, because He claims to be the only true way, and from the one true God.  The pope keeps having huge “religious” gatherings from across the globe, all beliefs and telling them that they all worship the same god.

            Love, A

 
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