Tuesday, March 15, 2011

L.A.W.: "Knowing" - a series in 1 John

L.A.W. or "Living According to the Word" is a Facebook group I started based on verse 9 of Psalm 119: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word."  You can view this discussion in the group, HERE. Prayerfully, a new L.A.W. will be posted every Monday.

1 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— 2 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— 3 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. - 1 John 1:1-3, NKJV

...Gnosticism taught that salvation is achieved through special knowledge (gnosis).  This knowledge usually dealt with the individual's relationship to the transcendent Being.The unknowable God was far too pure and perfect to have anything to do with the material universe which was considered evil.Since, according to the Gnostics, matter is evil, deliverance from material form was attainable only through special knowledge revealed by special Gnostic teachers.  Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption.  In conclusion, Gnosticism is dualistic.  That is, it teaches there is a good and evil, spirit and matter, light and dark, etc. dualism in the universe.The danger of gnosticism is easily apparent.  It denies the incarnation of God as the Son.  In so doing, it denies the true efficacy of the atonement since, if Jesus is not God, He could not atone for all of mankind and we would still be lost in our sins.” - carm.org, “Gnosticism”

In 1 John, the Apostle gives the positive apology (defense) against heretical Gnostic teachings, although it is difficult to say whether the epistle was written specifically to answer the Gnostic heresy.

John begins his letter by affirming and confirming Christ's deity and humanity. “That which was from the beginning,” he says—clearly indicating that Christ, as God, is eternal—“which we have heard...seen with our eyes...looked upon, and our hands have handled.” What is heard, seen, and handled? A physical body. The Gnostics denied the physical humanity of Christ. Here, John affirms it. Without Christ's humanity, He could not die for sinners.

[C]oncerning the Word of life...” Here, “Word” is the Greek word logos, which John uses in his gospel to mean Christ Jesus, the living Word of God. “Life” is the Greek word zoe, meaning God's quality of life—eternal life (which Christ says in John 17:3 is to “know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”). Here, again, John affirms Christ's deity.

Christ was both fully God and fully man. Anything less could not atone for the sins of mankind. As God, He lived the perfect life I couldn't live on my own, and the atonement (covering of sins) He offers was made once and for all sinners who come unto Him for salvation. As a man, He was able to suffer and die on our behalf—God can pardon us, because Christ suffered our fate in our place.

Any “gospel” which does not teach that Christ was both fully God and fully man is dangerous because it cannot save.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. - Galatians 1:8-9, NKJV

What is the purpose of correcting heresies? So that people are saved from the just punishment of their sins into “fellowship...with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”.

Points to ponder:
    1. What is the appeal of Gnosticism? What part of sinful human nature does it aim to please? Can you think of another false teaching and how it appeals to the sinful nature?
    2. What is the value of knowing what you believe? How does it help to be able to defend your faith against false teachings?

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