Lamb’s Harbinger Apologetics Roundup

For today’s Christian, defending a supernatural worldview in the face of the intellectual fascism of naturalist evolutionism is necessary. Giving evidence for creationism, miracles and the supernatural nature of the Bible are the first step to showing the biblical worldview of Christians is not only a valid one, but the exclusive one. To aid you in your duty, examine the following… compiled over 4 years, and presented here (below). Also visit this web site’s Links page for a comprehensive list of the foremost Christian apologetics sites.

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 4

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 1

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 2

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 3

Walking through the biblical Letter to the Colossians, one discovers God has provided Christian believers true and powerful defenses of the Christian faith against Gnosticism. What is Gnosticism, and why does it matter today? Gnosticism is the ancient name for the “Special Knowledge” that began to pervert pure Christian beliefs within the first 50 years after Christ ascended to Heaven. The two largest threats to early Christianity came from:

  • “Judaizers” or “Hebrew legalist”
  • “Gnostics” or “Greek pagan influencers”

Whereas the Apostles Peter and James were commissioned by God to serve the Jewish race with the New Testament Gospel of Jesus, the Apostle Paul was commissioned by God to serve the Gentile (non-Jew) ethnicities (ex. Greek, Roman, Scythian, etc.). And, whereas Judaizers pertained to Hebrews, Gnosticism pertained to Greeks. So, it is no surprise to see the Apostle Paul writing defenses of the Christian faith against Gnosticism to Gentile believers.

The aim of both Judaizers and Gnostics was to meld Christians into the same belief system (either Judaism or Paganism) which those Christians had rejected in order to become Christian. Both Judaizers and Gnostics did not demand that Christians should reject Jesus Christ altogether, but rather, these systems sought to pervert Christian belief by:

  • Adding to faith in Christ alone (ex. laws or rites/sacraments must be kept in order to be made right with God)
  • Taking away from faith in Christ alone (ex. one can believe in other gods along with Christ; many ways or paths or beliefs to God)
  • Changing the identity of Christ as fully God AND fully Man (ex. Jesus was just an emanation, or just a good man, or just a prophet but not Messiah, or not fully God; the true “Source of All” cannot be known, etc.)
  • Changing the nature of Christ’s sacrifice and/or resurrection (ex. He suffered only in the body, not the spirit; it was not really his body that was put to death; he did not really die; he did not really rise from the dead)
  • Changing the nature of sin and evil (ex. Only light vs. dark in the Universe… no being is God, per se; all things material are evil, all things spirit are good… instead of sin being any offense made against God, as God describes what offends Him in the Tanakh—Old Testament)

 

Yet, as one can read in Parts 1-2 of this study, to do any of these things to Christian faith is to waver from the faith. The Apostle Paul gives warning that to move off of Christ in any of these ways is to lose one’s soul.

EVEN TODAY, believers are tempted to “water down” or “alter” the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the ways mentioned above in order to ‘fit in’ with the heathen, pluralistic and humanistic beliefs around them. Strikingly, ALL of the humanistic and pluralistic beliefs pulling and twisting Christianity today show hatred for the exclusivity and the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Yet, they accuse the Christians who hold these historic essentials of Christianity as being intolerant. Their problem is with Jesus Christ, as defined in the Holy Scriptures by His Apostles… not with the Christians who hold fast to that faith.

MOREOVER, the tactics of the heathen, pluralistic and humanistic systems of our day mimic those of the ancient world in their efforts to get Christianity to meld with them. Esoteric belief—special knowledge for a few elite—is Gnosticism reborn. Theosophic study—finding “God” through the common wisdom of all religions—is pantheism repackaged.

Just like Christians in the ancient world, Christians today are being led astray—mostly through ignorance—and losing their souls by following the kinds of groups which claim to be the cousin of or “the same as” Christianity. These are called cults. For example:

  • ‘Christianity’ which demands Christians must return to Jewish law and ceremony, if they are to be “right with God.”
  • ‘Christianity’ which befriends evolutionary theory, denying direct Creationism
  • ‘Christianity’ which befriends Deist belief that God made and supervises the world at “a distance” allowing evolution to take its course.
  • ‘Christianity’ which bows to naturalist worldview vs. supernaturalist worldview.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Mormonism (a.k.a. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
  • Moonies (a.k.a. Unification Church)
  • World Council of Churches (a.k.a. National Council of Churches in USA)
    • Catholicism (Roman, Irish, etc.)
    • Non-Essentialist (Christian) Orthodoxy
    • Non-Essentialist Protestantism
    • Non-Essentialist Evangelicalism
  • Freemasonry (a.k.a. Masonic Lodge / Temple)
    • Eastern Star
    • Job’s Daughters
    • Rainbow Girls
    • Shriners
    • Royal Order of Jesters
  • Unitarian Universalist
  • Secret (invitation only, sworn in, elitist) fraternal brotherhoods or sororities: Elks, Lions, Kiwanis
  • Globalist (International) groups/clubs, unions: Rotary International [UN / UNESCO], Teamsters International Brotherhood
  • Seventh-Day Adventist
  • World Wide Church of God (a.k.a. Grace Communion International)

For a fuller list of cults, please see Walter Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults. Thankfully, since the time of the Apostle Paul, there has been and IS today a counter-cult movement.

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  (Matthew 16:16-18)

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 3

In the course of studying the Letter to the Colossians, one quickly notices the Apostle Paul gives a powerful and truthful defense of the Christian faith against gnosticism. “Jesus is better than special knowledge” is the theme of the epistle.

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 1 — Paul communicates joy and thanks for the Colossian believers just before describing the benefits each believer enjoys with Christ Jesus as Savior.

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 2 — Paul examines the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, contrasted by what the Colossian believers were and did before they received redemption & reconciliation to God through Jesus. He furthermore explains the sure cleansing and reconciliation each believer has in Christ, but the Apostle warns them about wavering from faith in Jesus. These warnings and defenses are part of Paul’s (and every minister’s) struggle to preserve and guide the body of Christ—the Church.

The 3rd part of our study begins at the traditional chapter 2 mark.

2:1-7

Paul continues by explaining how great is his (inner) struggle for the Colossians and the Laodiceans and for all the new believers whom he had not seen face-to-face.

Why is seeing new believers so important to Paul? Even though Paul is absent in body, he is with the believers in spirit (v. 5), rejoicing to hear of their good determination and the firmness of their faith in Christ. But, Paul wishes to see new believers in person (especially the Colossians)…

  • SO THAT their hearts (with the result of being knit together in God’s love)…
    • might be encouraged to reach all the riches that come from:
      • (gaining) the full assurance that comes from understanding and fully knowing God’s mystery, which is Christ…
        • in Whom are hidden all the treasures of riches and knowledge.
  • IN ORDER THAT no one may delude the new believers with plausible arguments.

On these grounds, Paul charges the Colossian believers to continue walking in the Lord Jesus Christ, just as they had received him [with good determination and firmness of faith – ref. v. 5] …

  • being both rooted and built up [solely] in Jesus Christ
  • being established in the faith just as they were taught
    • [by] “abounding” (fig. meditating tirelessly) in those teachings with thanksgiving

2:8-15 

And so, Paul begins to warn believers against:

  • [The kinds of] Philosophy and Empty Words (Lies) which are

Paul warns them of these things, because:

  • In Christ dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. [He’s not a mere emanation]

This is important, because:

  • Believers have been filled (i.e. baptized) in Him, who is the Head of all (spiritual and physical) rule and authority.
    • In Him, believers were circumcised (showing identification as God’s) with a circumcision made without hands >>[Spirit baptism, see also Romans 6; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph.1:13]>>
      • by putting off the body of the flesh by means of the Circumcision of Christ (a.k.a. Spirit baptism)
        • having been buried with him in (Spirit) baptism
        • [and] in which (baptism) believers were also raised with Him
          • through faith in the powerful working of God
            • who raised Him from the dead

And also, because:

  • Believers, who were once dead in regards to trespasses (disobedience to God’s Law) and the un-circumcision of the flesh (a.k.a. not belonging to God’s covenant of redemption), …
    •  God has made alive together with Christ…
      • having forgiven all our trespasses
        • by canceling our the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. God set this record aside, nailing it to the cross.
    • God disarmed the (spiritual) rulers and authorities and put them to open shame
      • by triumphing over them in Christ

 

In other words, JESUS IS BETTER THAN SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE!!!

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 2

“Jesus is better than special knowledge” is the theme of the Letter to the Colossians. Already—in part 1 (ch. 1:1-20)—the Apostle Paul has introduced himself as one who has been commissioned by Jesus Christ, according to the will of God, the Father. As such, Paul had a significant spiritual gifting, which enabled him to powerfully and truthfully address the needs of the Gentile (non-Hebrew ethinicity) churches.

The new church of believers at ancient Colossae had need for defending themselves against a malicious, esoteric heresy called gnosticism, which sees Jesus as a mere heavenly messenger. Believers today need this defense as well:

This heretical view is still in existence today, both in various secretive cults and in such pop religious movements as astrology or alchemy.

The Masonic movement has been referred to as a Gnostic movement. The popular book The Da Vinci Code (2003, Doubleday) by Dan Brown promotes Gnostic ideas as it attempts to undermine orthodox Christianity. (Theopedia, Gnosticism)

For these reasons, the Apostle Paul was inspired by God to write defenses of the Christian faith (against gnosticism) in the Letter to the Colossians; and the letter is preserved for our learning and safety.

Within chapter 1, one reads Paul’s commendation of the believers for their mutual faith and love—a faith and love shared by many around the world. They are not alone. Secondly, Paul shares the content of the prayers he and his ministry companions often pray for the Colossians amid their fight against heresy and temptations. We do well to pray these prayers for one another today. Thirdly, Paul spends time exalting the Lord Jesus Christ in His rightful place of:

  • The Image of the Invisible God
  • Authority over all things, seen and unseen, especially angels (good and bad)
  • Creator and Maintainer of all things
  • The Head of the Church
  • The One “first” and preeminent in all things, especially a resurrection to glorification
  • The Means of Reconciliation of all things to God by making peace through the blood of His cross

At the end of what we know as chapter 1, Paul reminds the Colossian believers of what God has done for them:

1:21-23

  • You were alienated from God and were enemies to God through wicked works, but now you are reconciled to God in His (Jesus’) fleshly body through (His) death…
    • in order to to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before God
    • IF you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel*

*Here is a noteworthy point the Apostle makes:: IF one who has heard and believed the Gospel of Jesus should shift from the hope of the Gospel (which is exclusively Jesus), and so, accepts esoteric or gnostic teachings, then that one can no longer be counted as reconciled to God through Christ. To accept such pluralistic falsehood is to deny Christ. Esoteric study loves to collect “theosophic” ideas from nearly all religions—what those religions hold in common about “god.” That perhaps sounds wise, but biblicist Christianity holds Jesus preeminently and exclusively as the only true God in Flesh, and that, all other religions are the result of demonic teachings propagated by demonically influenced men (1 Timothy 4:1). The idea that humanity can be unified under one world-wide religion that combines all religions into one is nothing less than the scheme of devils.

1:24-29

The Apostle Paul was no stranger for toil and struggle in ministering defenses and support to the churches. In these verses, Paul states :”for this [their maturity in Christ], I toil, struggling….” Paul assures the Colossian believers that he rejoices in the sufferings he has undergone for their sakes (in regards to this heresy and similar things). Paul’s work was and is:

  • A completion of what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of Christ’s body, the Church.
    • because Paul became a minister of that body, according to a stewardship / dispensation given to him by God…
      • for the purpose of making the Word of God fully known concerning…
        • the mystery (of the body of Christ, the Church), which was hidden for ages but is now revealed to believers…
          • who are the ones God chose to reveal how great (among the Gentiles) are the glorious riches of this mystery:
            • being, “Christ in you, the Hope of Glory”
  • A proclamation of Jesus, accomplished by warning everyone and teaching everyone WITH ALL WISDOM…
    • so that, Paul and company may present everyone to God as mature in Christ.

Every Christian minister would do well to note Paul’s inspired goal and description of ministry. The reason he endured toil and struggle against heresies and false teachers within the churches was precisely this: “to present everyone mature in Christ.” Keep that one phrase as the goal of ministry. If you agree to the call of God as a minister, then it is no bed of roses, but Paul admits he is able to toil and struggle because he does so with, “all [Jesus’] energy that [Jesus] powerfully works within me.”

Christ in you is the Hope of Glory for every believer!

Christ in you is the energizing power for every minister who is defending (warning) and supporting (teaching) the believers against (gnostic) heresy and other threats!