Friday, 19 February 2010

Spirituality : No alignment between Christianity and Gnostic mysticism

Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and bring Him nearer to our own image. A.W. Tozer
Gnosticism (Mysticism), is age old. Even in the day of the apostle Paul, he was confronted by mystics, of which some even was “so called” Christian. In understanding Paul’s response to this in Corinth, a careful examination of his 1st letter to the Corinthians will help. Paul replied in chapter 2 “For I am determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” and explains in 1 Cor 1:23 that Christ crucified is to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness. In verse 17 he explains how God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise that no flesh should glory in his presence.

We will not be able to glory in God’s presence one day because of our path of purification, our works of love, our outstanding self-discipline. None of that will impress God. The Father is impressed only with His Son, Jesus Christ. He alone sets the standard of perfect righteousness. And if we are not found in Him, we will be lost for all eternity, no matter how self-righteous or religious we have been.

Mysticism, and so also it’s “Christian” division, goes against the very gospel which the apostle Paul taught. Galatians 3:23-25 Paul says “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up under the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ”.

Paul even pronounced a curse on anybody that brings another gospel (Gal 1:8,9).

Throughout the bible the importance of the Lamb sacrificed to save from death is preached. It is vividly illustrated in Exodus when the Jews had to put the blood of the lamb on their doors so that the angel of death could pass them by. In similar way the blood of Jesus Christ on the doors of our hearts saves us eternally.

The good news of Christianity, is that we do not need to go through endless cycles of lives to improve ourselves so we can become one with God, but that Jesus made a way for us through His perfect sacrifice. Hebrews 11:19,20 “Having therefore brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”

Article "Atonement" from Wikipedia, points out: "Churches and denominations may vary in which metaphor they consider most accurately fits into the theological perspective, however all Christians emphasize that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and through his death the sins of mankind have been forgiven."

There is no way of reconciling the central message, gospel, of the apostle Paul to the Gentiles, and also to the world today, with that of Christian mysticism. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8)”

Wikipedia Bible, underlines the principle message of the bible as follows:
"The Bible has always been central to the life of the Christian church. Bible scholar, N.T. Wright says Jesus himself was profoundly shaped by the scriptures—the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic texts whose stories, songs, prophecy and wisdom permeated the Jewish world of his day. He adds that the earliest Christians also searched those same scriptures in their effort to understand what their living God had accomplished through the brief earthly life of Jesus. They regarded the ancient Israelites' scriptures as having reached a climactic fulfillment in Jesus himself, generating the "new covenant" prophesied by Jeremiah. (Wright, N.T. ''The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God—Getting Beyond the Bible Wars.'' HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 0060872616 / 9780060872618)

There are among Christians wide differences of opinion as to how particular incidents as described in the Bible are to be interpreted and as to what meaning should be attached to various prophecies. However, Christians in general are in agreement as to the Bible's basic message. A general outline, as described by C. S. Lewis, is as follows: ( A Summary of the Bible by Lewis, CS: Believer's Web)

1. At some point in the past, humanity chose to depart from God's will and began to sin.
2. Because no one is free from sin, people cannot deal with God directly, so God revealed Himself in ways people could understand.
3. God called Abraham and his progeny to be the means for saving all of humanity.
4. To this end, He gave the Law to Moses.
5. The resulting nation of Israel went through cycles of sin and repentance, yet the prophets show an increasing understanding of the Law as a moral, not just a ceremonial, force.
6. Jesus brought a perfect understanding of the Mosaic Law, that of love and salvation.
7. By His death and resurrection, all who believe are saved and reconciled to God."

The message of Christian mysticism can therefore not be called Christian at all, but rather should be considered dangerous and satanic, a wicked trap of the enemy.

In "The cross and the veil - Yoga - Health or Stealth?" ( Yoga and New age practices are explored and criticized. In conclusion it is said: "Firstly, yoga would make us all christ's - without need of a savior.  While there is ample documented evidence of the presence of great saints in the east who led and lead lives of renunciation and sacrifice to atone for others ' sins, only Our Lord Jesus Himself opened the gates of heaven.  One clear announcement of the liberating action of acceptance of Jesus as Our Lord is the story of the good thief.  Whilst on the cross, Our Lord promised the good thief he would be with him in paradise that very day.  Under karmic law, a thief of his ilk would have necessitated hundreds of life times to remove his own karma.  Our Lord carries this burden for each of us.  If  reincarnation were a reality, perhaps some might like to spend hundreds of lifetimes on this very sad world to attain heaven - but why would they?" 

From Romans verse-by-verse William R. Newell, page 104 states
“The Law was given to man in the flesh: not to those on resurrection ground. Our relationship now to God is that of standing on the same acceptance as Christ: and we have the same Spirit of sonship as Christ! It is into the Risen Christ, thus glorified, that God has brought us. The righteousness of God” in the justification of the sinner, is His own attribute of righteousness: that is, His acting in accordance with His own holy nature: manifested, however, not in demanding righteousness from the sinner, but in setting the believing sinner in His own presence, because of the righteous judgment of his sins already visited by God upon the Substitute, Christ. And God is not only Himself righteous, in remitting the penalty of sin: but He sets the sinner in the very standing in which Christ is, with Him! We do not need therefore a personal “standing” before God at all. This is the perpetual struggle of legalistic theology, - to state how we can have a “standing” before God. But to maintain this is still to think of us as separated from Christ (instead of dead and risen with Him)”

Gnosticism however distorts this, by claiming that Paul came to show us all that we are Christ, that we are god, and that we just need to connect with this “godness’ which is already in us. This is distorted and is not at all the gospel that the apostle Paul preached.

Page 107 Newell continues to explain “Men prefer “belonging” to a system:
Because where faith is not vigorous it comforts the flesh to find oneself among a party.
Where direct personal knowledge of Scripture is lacking it is a comfort to the heart to be told “authoritavely” what to believe – what the party to which one belongs, holds.
It is adhorreth to the flesh to walk by the Spirit. It is infinitely easier to be occupied with the “Christian duties” practiced or prescribed by our sect
The flesh cannot bear to be little, despised, but desires to be of those that have the regard of “the Christian world”.
Even among the most earnest Christians the temptation and the tendency have always been to seize upon those truths emphasized by the leaders of the sect they follow and claim those truths and principles as their own! But the effect denies the unity of the Body of Christ, and that all truth belongs to the whole Church of God”

And on Page 111 “The expression “the righteousness of Christ,” “the merits of Christ,” though not in Scripture, are continually in the mouths even of earnest men, who do not see that our history in Adam ended at the cross, that we died with Christ, and now share His risen life: and that we therefore do not need to have anything whatever “put upon” us, nor any quality or “merits” of Christ made the basis of God’s blessing us. We were in Adam: we are now in Christ, standing in the full, the infinitely complete acceptance of Christ’s own Person!

Scripture says Romans 4:4,5 “Now to him that worketh the reward is not reckoned as a matter of grace, but, on the contrary, as a matter of debt. But to one not working, but believing upon the God that justifies the ungodly, - his faith is reckoned for righteousness”.

“Men must cease even seeking; they must cease all works – weeping, confessing, repenting, even earnest prayer, and simply believe God laid their sins, their very own sins, all of them, on Christ at the cross. There comes a moment when a man ceases from his own works, hearing that Christ finished the work, paid the ransom, at the cross. Then he rests! Such a soul believes, - knowing himself to be a sinner, and ungodly, - but he believes on God, just as he is, and knows he is welcome! Note that Scripture does not say that God justifies the praying man, or the Bible reader, or the church member, but the ungodly. (page 136)
God Himself explains justification by faith in Christ through the scriptures in Romans 3:21-31 “But now apart from law, God’s righteousness hath been manifested, - borne witness to by the Law and the Prophets: God’s righteousness, moreover, through faith concerning Jesus Christ unto all them that believe: for there is no distinction [between Jew and Gentile]; for all sinned, and are falling short of the glory of God; being reckoned righteous gift wise by His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ: whom God set forth a propitiation [mercy-seat] through faith in His blood, unto showing forth His [God’s] righteousness in respect of the passing over of the foregoing sins in the forbearance of God: for the showing forth of His righteousness in the present time, - unto the being Himself righteous, and the One declaring righteous the person having faith in Jesus. Where then is the [Jewish] boasting? It is excluded. By what manner of law? of works? Nay: but by a law of faith. For we reckon that a man is accounted righteous by faith apart from law-works. Or is God the God of Jews only? [who had the Law]. Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yea of Gentiles also: if so be that God is one! And He shall declare righteous the circumcision of the principle of faith [instead of law], and the uncircumcision through their [simple] faith. Do we then annul law through faith? Far be the thought! On the contrary, we establish law!”
The religious people who served in the temple in the old testament had to wear the appropriate clothes, lest they would die. (Exodus 28). We can not approach God without the robe of Christ's righteousness. Our own righteousness will just not do. God is Holy. Spotless. Perfect.

"Every broken heart, every unwanted child, every war and tragedy can be traced back to our rebellion against God" - Max Lucado (In the Grip of Grace)

Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God, we do not see ourselves -- blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. A.W. Tozer

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