The Walls of the Skeptics: Understanding the De-Converted Part 3

Originally posted to MySpace on:

July 9, 2007

As I’ve made clear in my last couple of journals, I’ve been trying to understand why certain Christians can justify abandoning their faith, especially after they’ve spent many years growing in it. I’ve already learned that Jesus prophesied of an end time apostasy, meaning that before the Anti-Christ can come to power (ushering in the end of time), a large percentage of Christians have to fall away so that faithful opposition against him is minimal. I’ve also come to realize that for such an event to happen, Satan has to work in overdrive to deceive the faithful, and that his range is broad—even the elect (the ministers, apologists, theologians, etc.) can fall into disbelief (through Satan’s deceit). In other words, I shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve lost good friends to Satan’s slithery messages, for any who go seeking unprepared can be caught, like a mouse sniffing for cheese on a mouse trap. In the process, however, I’ve also learned (or have been reminded) that Jesus never stops in His quest to retrieve the fallen (the parable of the Lost Sheep), and that even though many may fall away, any one of them still has a chance to return to truth.

Deceit is such a powerful weapon, and most people understand how to use it; even toddlers find ways to manipulate truth to get what they want. Words spun the right way can knock a foundation of belief right to the ground. It’s Satan’s specialty, a device that’s been in action since his Fall from Grace (he took a third of the angels with him), and perfected in his seduction of man (tempting Eve with knowledge). And for him to achieve such a massive apostasy, he must first use deceitful tactics to attack the very credibility of the thing that can expose him: the Word of God.

Since he knows the Bible’s teachings intimately, he knows how to spin a massive web of lies to trap the faithful.

The areas that manipulate Christians into apostasy (and keep skeptics lingering in doubt) are too numerous to address, but I thought I’d spend the last part of this mini-series addressing at least the issues that brought one friend down and incidentally the same issues that keep many others hanging onto skepticism.

1. Perhaps the biggest charge against the Word of God is its infallibility. Christians are taught that the Bible is error-free. Skeptics stand on the fleshly errors plaguing the humans who wrote it. Both camps lie in total contrast of the other. Both groups think the other is crazy.

Yes, the Bible is written by human hands. But it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit. That alone should be enough to convince Christians of its truth (though skeptics may still remain unconvinced). Anyone who believes in God will understand His perfection and understand that any passage His Spirit confirmed as valid was appropriate for the Bible.

But skeptics need more. Often times they are so consumed by the “contradictions” of the Bible, that they can’t accept its infallibility. Unfortunately, deceived Christians who forget that the Word of God is inspired by God (obviously) are tripped by the same issues. Most of the time they forget that God isn’t human and therefore cannot be compared to by human standards. If the Bible had any passage that was truly in error (despite who physically wrote it), then it wouldn’t have made it into the canon. Simple as that. There are many “Gospels” that never made it into the Bible for this very reason.

And yet, human minds are easily deceived, and therefore can find “contradiction,” even in the Bible.

How is this possible? Easily: problems with perspective.

Most people, skeptics and Christians alike, think that the Bible was written in the same way that most literature and history is written today: immediately, as it happens. However, that’s not how the Bible, or any work of the First Century for that matter was written. The culture of the First Century was an oral one, with stories, historical accounts, and theories passed down as word of mouth for several decades before ever being written down. In today’s culture that might be suicide for a work’s meaning since the world today doesn’t have the attention span to remember anything, much less details, without having something on paper to refer to. But the ancient world didn’t have the distractions that we have today, so the minds of people were more easily focused on words spoken to them, and thus, didn’t need everything written down right away.

As the decades passed, the messages became wider spread, with more people confirming the same story with the same details to each other, thus making the stories impossible to fabricate as they became written. By the time the Gospels were finally etched into parchment, so many people already knew them by heart, and that to misplace even a single idea in those days would’ve been caught and corrected. Thus, by 60 AD, the time that the Gospels were finally written, the Word of God was incorruptible, as too many people could’ve exposed it if something had changed.

And even through the generations, the familiarity of the Word was so great (and the documents so well guarded, just like our Constitution and Declaration of Independence today), that for any man (or church) to change it without someone noticing was impossible.

So how does that brief historical account affect the alleged contradictions found in the Word of God? Well, the answer goes back to the oral tradition. Each writer of the Gospel shared the same story about Christ, but presented it from a different perspective. And each perspective became passed down as another branch to the great story of Christ. Again, the people, though primarily uneducated in math, science, English, etc., were still very attentive, and very keen to notice when four accounts of the same thing taught something different. Since the argument was never raised in those days, then it’s safe to assume that maybe these four writers were telling the same story.

We can look at it another way. Imagine Jesus is standing in the center of a living room preaching the Word of God to a group. You have Matthew standing by the window, Mark standing by the television, Luke somewhere in the kitchen, and John sitting comfortably on the couch. All four hear the same message (even Luke, who doesn’t see a thing, but hears every word), so each presents his story with the same message. But each describes a different detail based on what he sees. For example, Matthew can see the couch clearly (and the facial expressions of everyone sitting on it), but John can’t see it because he’s already sitting on it. John, however, can see the rest of the room from his perspective, where Matthew just sees the couch. Mark can see much of the room, but can’t see the painting on the wall because a large tree blocks it. John can see the painting, and thus has the detail in mind for his account of the event. Mark, on the other hand, may write only about the tree, since his vision is blocked beyond that. Luke doesn’t see any of it, because he’s in the kitchen, but can deduce what’s going on by the responses in people’s voices; plus he can ask the group later for those details he missed personally. And so on and so on.

Anyone with a sense of wisdom can figure out that the message in all four Gospels is exactly the same, as each person heard the same thing, thus proving its infallibility. However, the skeptics are so hell-bent on discrediting it (and why shouldn’t they; it forces them to evaluate who they are and whether their moral fiber is sound enough), that they’ll treat even the slightest differences in perspective (one may see green, while another may be color blind) as the thing that de-threads the validity of the Bible as truth. And it’s a dangerous trick, especially for those who fall for it, but it’s realistically the only thing the devil has in his arsenal. The Word of God can disprove any lie he throws at humanity, and he knows it. His only chance is to attack man’s petty nature. Unfortunately, man doesn’t exercise the sense to resist it.

The petty nature continues into the issues of translation, with original words meaning something different than what words in the same position mean today. But because the translations don’t affect the meanings of the messages (only the details), this shouldn’t even be an argument. There is one specific example that gets most skeptics “a-ha”ing, so I will address it as a separate account in a couple minutes, but for the most part, the translation issues bear no change in meaning, and thus have no cause for argument.

Another criticism brought up by some skeptics deals with the authorship of the Gospels. Some believe that the texts were written by men other than those to whom they’re credited. Again, this is a petty argument, as the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it doesn’t matter by whose hand it’s actually transcribed. But some may find it misleading, so here’s a link to a page that describes the issues of authorship in great detail:

http://www.tektonics.org/ntdocdef/gospdefhub.html

I should warn all readers (especially skeptics) that the dissertation about Gospel authorship on the above page requires the reader to exercise common sense as he or she processes the information. Any attempt to over-analyze or to embrace pettiness, based on the reader’s own limited perspective, may warrant additional doubt in the validity of the text.

2. Now, as I stated a moment ago, there is one specific argument that skeptics raise whenever dealing with the translation issues of the Bible: the word “virgin.”

People today understand what the English word “virgin” means. I hardly have to define it here. So, whenever readers see it used to describe the mother of Jesus, the automatic assumption is that she was “untouched” at the time of conception. And honestly, according to the events in the text, there’s no reason to dispute that.

But skeptics pitch a fit whenever the truth is revealed that the original Greek word first used in the Gospel didn’t mean “virgin,” according to our definition, but “maiden.” All of a sudden there’s this great mob standing at the church gate demanding retribution against the great deception, as this puts the very identity of Jesus in question.

Whoa! Hold your horses there, petty critical types.

First of all, the meaning of the original word isn’t hidden. Anyone who bothers to look will find that the Bible (and its translators) makes no secret to this meaning. My New American Standard Bible footnotes the verse that mentions “virgin” (in the Book of Isaiah) with the words: or maiden right there in plain sight.

No secret here.

Which means, the problem isn’t with the meaning, or its availability to understanding, but with the pettiness of semantics. Anyone who uses common sense will realize that the two differing words don’t actually affect the events or details that define our faith.

Let me break it down further. We know what virgin means. But do we know what maiden means? Traditionally, it refers to an unmarried woman (or girl). In First Century Jewish culture, girls who had sex outside of marriage weren’t brushed aside as inconsequential (or harmless) as they are today. They were stoned to death. Thus, for a girl to even risk such a thing was absurd. Since we know that Mary was a maiden, we have to assume, based on the extreme nature of her culture, that she was also a virgin.

But even if we can’t separate ourselves from the frivolity of our own promiscuous culture, and thus remain tempted to believe that Mary had the nature of a rabbit, we still have to understand one thing: the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not by Joseph. There’s no other way to describe or clarify that. It’s right there.

On a similar note, an argument came up that the Jews believed their Messiah would be born of man (like everyone else). Well, yeah: Jesus was born of man, rather than falling out of the sky like Superman. It doesn’t affect his deity any—he was still conceived by the Holy Spirit. All the truths, prophesies, etc. line up.

As I said earlier, there are many ways in which a skeptic can fall into doubt. I cannot possibly address everything. I’m only addressing the specific things that came up in the arguments of those friends who fell away (and the things that most truth-seekers claim as the evidence that drove them from their faith). Obviously, Christians can turn for a number of reasons, as many skeptics can remain in their states of denial for the same reasons, be it human perspective, desire for ungodly living, laziness, etc. But I suppose that also proves Satan’s deep well of resources for snagging our hearts away from the One who loves us.

I’d like for these journals to serve as a source for understanding for those who are teetering on the edge, and for those I care for who have already turned that I desperately want to come back to Jesus, that they may keep their inheritance in Heaven. I understand that it takes more than just my words to convince anyone of such a thing. It takes the Spirit of God to break down the walls of the skeptics, and to retrieve the lost hearts of those who’ve been deceived. I don’t have all the answers, certainly, but then, I’m human so I shouldn’t have to. What matters is that God and His big picture are much greater than I, and much greater than explanation, and that the key to faith is to understand that He’s bigger than us, and to live each day trusting that God has the truth and is able to lead us His way.

Lastly, I don’t want to discourage others from researching the truth, if they feel they should. I just want truth-seekers to be aware of the traps that lie at their feet. The search for truth is a minefield if one embarks without the Holy Spirit or the understanding that Satan has doctrines waiting that are designed to deceive and to kill. In other words, anyone who goes out there without being properly equipped goes with a target on his forehead. Satan is smarter than all of us, understands the workings and the history of this world better than any of us, and is very clever in deceiving us. His hold on the world cannot be complete and his agent of lawlessness (the Anti-Christ) cannot step up until enough Christians have fallen away, so be certain that he’s trying to confuse and destroy us all, that he may finally have his time to rule. I don’t recommend treading those dangerous waters, certainly, as the Bible is truth enough; likewise, good friends of mine were sucked under during their own “quests,” which makes me even more against such an embarking. But for those who think they need to discover more, don’t get caught with your pants down. Forfeiting your soul over a vocabulary word is insane.

–July 9, 2007

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God in a Box: Understanding the De-Converted Part 2

Originally posted to MySpace on:

July 4, 2007:

The Jewish Truth-Seeker

A young Jewish man enters an office block looking for answers. He wants to discover the intricacies of his faith, including his very purpose within the paradigm of Judaism, and he’s certain the office might provide the answer. It has, after all, a full network of information at his disposal, with cubicles, computers, and Internet access to his heart’s content. So he begins searching the floor for his answers.

The room is surprisingly deficient of people. He also discovers very quickly that he doesn’t have a password to access any of the computers. But he keeps searching. The answers to his faith and his purpose have to be here somewhere.

He finally makes it to the back of the room where he finds two men sitting in opposite cubicles: a Rabbi and a Nazi. At last, one of them must have the answers to his questions.

But whom should he ask?

The young man deliberates this a bit, as he knows both must have authoritative knowledge of Judaism. In the end, based on the trends and movements of his culture in the last century, especially in the form of tolerance, he decides to seek his answers from the Nazi. After all, the Rabbi would just show a bias toward the faith as it’s been written for thousands of years and not allow room for speculation or modern progression, as is appropriate for today’s truth-seeking culture.

“What does it mean to be a Jew?” he asks the Nazi.

The Nazi folds his hands as he ponders this question.

“To be a Jew is to, essentially, be one with fault,” says the Nazi. “To be a Jew is to be without perfection, and imperfection is frowned upon in this perfect society of men. To reach perfection, you must first denounce your heritage, a heritage wrought with strife and discontent, and then embrace anything that sounds good and teaches against Judaism.”

The Nazi reaches into his desk drawer and produces a handful of books about “The Perfect Race.”

“Here, read this information I have about the fallacy of Judaism and the perfection of the Aryan race. When you’re finished with that, come back and I’ll give you more. Pretty soon you’ll understand the truth that to be a Jew is to be misguided, and that we, the Aryan race, have the answers you need to escape that bondage of yours. You’ll also find that we are a peaceful group, only concerned about your perfection and well-being.”

The young man accepts the gift graciously.

Meanwhile, the Rabbi, who overheard the entire conversation, weeps as he tries to get the young man’s attention. The young man fails to give him ear, as the information given to him by the Nazi, as truth, was satisfactory to his truth-seeking ears, and thus he has no interest in what the Rabbi has to say. Alas, the Torah, the book that could have answered the young man’s every question about his faith, hadn’t even been considered, nor was the God who could’ve offered him wisdom about the matter.

He leaves the office, ready to absorb the Nazi’s information about Judaism as truth.

A Pursuit without God

It’s tempting to wonder why he didn’t consult the Rabbi first. But a better question is: why would the Jewish man forget to consult God on the answer to his question? Is there a problem with accessibility, or maybe a fear of truth? Did he honestly think the Nazi’s answers would be enough, or even accurate to exposing the truth about his faith, and thus the pursuit of God was unnecessary? Did he think that taking the search solo would’ve been fruitful?

As I’m taking notice of an alarming trend of Christians turning apostate (falling away from the faith), I’m asking these same questions about them, as any Orthodox Jew might ask of the young man who naively sought his answers from the person who wants to destroy him.

The first problem that secularists, scholars, theologians, apologists, and lay Christians are running into during their searches for truth, and subsequent falling away from truth, is the problem of putting God down to man’s level. Many try to justify faith by comparing the character of God to that of man, and invariably fall short of “logic” in the process. God is not man, but the omniscient Creator of man, and thus His ways cannot be comprehended fully. To state a classic example: the pot will never be able to think at the potter’s level, nor will it be able to justify his reasons for doing what he does. The pot may try in vain to rise to the potter’s level in a great move to understand truth, but the best it can do is to think of the potter as another pot—a straightforward, non-complex pot—and thus base all of its assumptions about truth as though the potter was himself made hollow and of clay and easily broken.

The conflicts with the Creation story reflect this problem best. Most anyone rooted in secular thought can’t even accept the basis of the Creation story because it seems so implausible, because they put God on man’s level if they consider God at all. Instead, they have to think of a more “reasonable” viewpoint to support their own limited thoughts on the matter. And then to support their new belief, they have to present God at a man’s level, or not at all, when explaining their “boxed” perspective to others.

This applies to the stories of the Birth and Resurrection of Christ as well. Those who wish to denounce the deity of Christ because it’s unbelievable (or threatening to their agenda), forget that God operates on a much higher level than they can possibly see, and if His Son shares His power, then His Son can also do things that are pretty unbelievable, like rise from the dead and forgive sins.

This is, of course, a very watered down perspective of the grand scheme of faith. The complexities of God run so deep that nothing on earth can hold Him or fully understand Him. Therefore, this inability of man to decipher the full character of God does not give him the right to discredit Him as God, or the Author of truth, as doing so would be the equivalent to judging a pizza based on the taste of one crumb of uncooked flour, while inebriated and eating dog crap.

And yet, man still tries because he wants to take God’s place and inflict his own will and design the pizza his own way.

The Logical Fallacies

This inability to understand God (in the form of knowledge rather than relationship) has produced a number of critics and skeptics worldwide. And many of them reside in high academic places—places that man might be tempted to consider as sources for truth, for who better to know the truth than the academicians and the scholars who research them? These scholars will scour mountains and riverbeds for the answers of life, but do so without regard to God, or with regard to God but with a man-sized perspective of who God “should be” to them. Then they produce their findings in journals for all the world to read and eat as truth, though what they write is merely theoretical.

This method has produced many alternatives to the Bible’s truths throughout the years, including recent accounts of the world’s origins through “Big Bangs” and evolution, rather than through creation. Like everything else in science, of course, the truth to the world can be explained through biblical accounts and proofs if one were to actually look; but then, that might leave the scholars without a job, and who can afford that?

Of course, this is, again, a very watered down perspective of the fallacies of secularism, and only a minor instance of the greater point I’m trying to make. The bottom line is that secularism cannot function with God in the picture, so it must find ways to explain life and history without the essence of God.

That brings about the second detail regarding the apostasy of Christ’s followers: Satan is very good at his job. Very good. The remainder of my journal here will focus on this, as this ties into my original example about the Jew and the Nazi.

Recently, I read an explanation about Jesus’ lack of sin. I’ll admit that in my human, though Christian brain, I’ve wondered how a man like Jesus could avoid the submission to sin, when the rest of us can’t even go a day without breaking a traffic law, much less a number of other things. How does one man spend thirty-three years being tempted, but never conform to sin? Again, this goes back to the first point that we cannot put God on man’s level. Yes, Jesus was as much man as he was God; therefore he had the same temptations that we had. But the difference here is that his God side could not be deceived, and thus he had no motivation or reason to sin. Man, on the other hand, does not have the same wisdom and understanding that Christ has, and so we are much more susceptible to the devil’s deceptions. It started in the Garden of Eden when Satan deceived Eve into thinking that the fruit would give her knowledge, and thus, an understanding that matches the level of God. But to be successful in his deception, he had to first water down her understanding of the consequence, giving her the false belief that she wouldn’t die, even though God had told her she would if she had eaten it. So right there, the devil convinced man to doubt God’s word (and authority) and man fell for it.

What followed sucked.

The pattern continues well into the present. Man thinks he’s enlightened because he lives in the 21st Century where computers rule the earth, though forgets that the degradation of the human genome over six thousand years has made him so far removed from perfection that he might be part of the stupidest generation to ever walk the earth. Because the first generation had yet to bare flaw, as the degeneration was barely in its infancy, science, creativity, and wisdom was at its peak. During that time, Cain learned how to farm and build cities, Abel learned how to tend flocks of sheep (and probably other stuff), Jubal learned how to craft instruments (and play them), and all this without prior education or building blocks. These guys were the inventors of such practices, and had hundreds of years to improve on what they made and very little competition in seeing them done. Our generation, on the contrary, has neither the time nor the creativity to invent from scratch items so prolifically as those early generations had. Sure, there are a few diamonds in the rough in recent generations (Edison comes to mind), but the numbers are so few now that when someone invents something extraordinary, they become famous. That equates to maybe a fifty-to-six-billion ratio. And that’s just for unique stuff. Most of what we have today is just an extra block added onto someone else’s work, and rarely bares creative difference. Therefore, we aren’t even close to being the wisest generation. We only have the greatest number of building blocks. And sometimes those building blocks are built on faulty foundations.

Because man fails to see his lack of creativity, and continues to see himself as enlightened, he is quick to think that he has unlimited knowledge and understanding. He thinks that he is much more sophisticated now than any generation before his, and so he has the greatest understanding of human truth. And though he might have more information at his fingertips than any past generation had, it doesn’t make him wise. The fact remains that he’s still human, still flesh, and still susceptible to the deceptions of Satan, which is evident throughout the numerous sins infesting the world. To try to put logic above that is to merely fall into Satan’s agenda for the world, as he would sooner be forgotten than he would to be acknowledged as the author of confusion and deceit.

Where Am I Going with All of This?

After a good Christian friend fell away from her faith during a search for truth, I became very concerned with the vulnerabilities we offer to others to exploit; that we walk into wolves’ dens dressed as sheep, saying, “hey, can you help me?” The fact remains that there is information out there that discredits our faith. But the information comes from the hands of our Enemy, through the hands of people who hate Christianity, and through the minds of people who are devious enough to bend the truths they find. The information is merely the “logical” presentations of a doctrine that elects to forsake God, or to at least put Him on a human level. In the end, those who have fallen away fail to recognize Satan’s role in their “truth search,” likewise, they forget to consult the Holy Spirit first, and thus it’s no surprise that they’re easily deceived when they believe the Nazi is looking out for their well-being.

I’m not writing this to condemn my brothers and sisters who have fallen away. On the contrary, I would rather they step out of their shoes long enough to see what’s been done to them, and that they might pray for the sight to see truth and to see clearly through the deceit. I’m still very heartbroken over the recent falling away of this friend of mine through the lies of Satan to the point of losing sleep; thus I feel very compassionate toward the real revelation of truth, as the Holy Spirit would reveal to them, as He is the source of truth.

–July 4, 2007

(Note: A friend had responded to this with a challenge, but that was on MySpace in 2007, and I have no idea what that challenge was. I think it had something to do with emotional responses to explainable things and calling them spiritual, or something of that nature. Or, it could’ve been an argument about science and reason. No idea. Apparently “brainwashing” had root in the response, which reason would clearly defy. Whatever it was, I did find my response to that challenge tacked on at the bottom of this journal.)

Response:

Except that when you experience a moving of the Spirit, experience immediate healing through prayer, witness the interpretations of things that the interpreter has no foundation to even understand, witness ancient prophesies coming to pass, etc., the matter of faith all of a sudden extends past the threshold of belief. Then the lessons are no longer hearsay (or “brainwashing”) but become as real as eating pizza. And when this kind of faith becomes real, as in it can be confirmed through witness account, then a Christian’s exposition on a Christian subject becomes as foundationally sound as an English teacher teaching English. Yes, I could still ask a French, Spanish, or German teacher to teach me English, as I could also ask a math or science teacher to teach me English. But it doesn’t change the fact that the English teacher is still the best person for the job, bias or not. And whether or not the English teacher uses brainwashing techniques to get the message across, or just loves the subject enough to teach it with passion, the fact remains that what he teaches is still far more accurate to reality than what the other teachers would teach, as that’s his specialty and his conviction, and so he has no reason to manipulate the information (unless he’s psychotic or passionless). The real issue then lies with how the listeners receive it.

I do understand your viewpoint, granted, but I dare say that there’s nothing particularly tangible about Christianity being true to individual minds only (as in they just imagined it’s true), as it’s not a religion of knowledge. The whole point of Christianity is to understand and accept a singular event witnessed by real people and recorded by real people involving the death and resurrection of a real person (who loves us enough to sacrifice Himself to save us–thus bringing validity to the relationship side of Christianity, the true heart of its teachings), and is in no way affected by the imaginations of millions upon millions of people who just want to feel like they have eternal salvation. If truth were entirely metaphysical, then this world would have no future, as there would be nothing to pass into when life ends. Hope, joy, love, etc. could never survive in such a dead environment.

Maybe I’m missing the argument here, but I still stand by this fact: regardless of what a person believes, God is still higher than all understanding, and thus, He is still truth. He is reality that stretches beyond individual faith. He cannot be compromised, He cannot be accurately discredited (though many try), and He cannot be denied in the face of real truth. Nor can he be limited to mere imagination as His signature can be found in all creation. Thus, as He is truth, I still think it’s foolish to search for truth outside of His leading, as that would be like putting the construction of a rocket engine into the hands of a psychologist. The end result might be passable at first, but sooner or later it’ll fall out of the sky and kill everyone onboard (or just blow up before take off). There’s no sense in that.

Falling Away: Understanding the De-Converted

Originally posted to MySpace on:

July 1, 2007:

Though it may come as no surprise to hear of the falling away of Christians these days—from the average church-goer to the most distinguished of theologians and ministers (the elect)—into the hands of Atheism, Agnosticism, etc., I still find it heart wrenching when this trend captures the hearts of people I care for.

Ten years ago, a Christian friend fell away to Atheism after trying to put God in a logical box. Just recently, another friend fell away after reading scholarly (and other religious) accounts of the invalidation of the Bible and the invalidation of the words of Jesus written in the Four Gospels. Both friends informed me in separate times of the accounts of Christians, from the high ranks of ministry to the ones barely surfing church, who decided that Christianity is a sham and moved on to other beliefs.

I’ll admit that this phenomenon disturbed me, but it also piqued my curiosity. Why would so many who claimed to love God fall away? Didn’t they know that Satan is an expert in deception? Didn’t they know that it takes love and the Holy Spirit in their hearts to guard against such things? Of the “testimonies” that I read, they all seem to leave those parts out.

Earlier tonight, a friend of mine, well-learned in Gnosticism—a mystical movement that dominated the First Century, which was a great enemy of the rising threat of Christianity—informed me of the great movement of certain leaders to return it to prominence in our culture, an effort that started in the 1800s during the Age of Reason. Though the movement has been slow in the past, quietly unearthing ancient texts including one such Gospel of Thomas during its re-growth, it has steadily taken off in recent years in an effort to seduce Christians with “truth” through its forms of logic and reason. And some Christians, in an effort to know God better through human logic, have taken the bait.

Unfortunately, those who fall away through reason cannot be reasoned with. It takes the Holy Spirit to reach them. But I thought I’d at least share the biblical references that talk about the falling away, in case anyone doubts that this phenomenon is an end time prophesy predicted by a very real Jesus in the pages of a very true Word of God, two things of which Gnosticism is hell-bent on discrediting, for Jesus and the Word of God threatens its very power.

The majority of this text comes from 2 Thessalonians 2.

This is a quick sheet reference, but if you want to scour the whole network of related verses, copy and paste the link below:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2THES%202&version=49;#fen-NASB-29665a

Please note that I directed cross-referencing focus from verse 3’s notation on “apostasy,” as that directly refers to the “falling away” of Christians from the faith. For everything else, I’d recommend visiting the above link.

Also note that the cross-references are divided by letter codes. A verse with a -letter- next to it refers to a reference in the main body (2 Thessalonians 2). A verse with a [letter] next to it refers to the reference directly linking to the -letter- verse. Lastly, a verse with a (letter) is a sub-reference to whatever verse it directly follows in the outline. It’ll make more sense when you actually look at it.

2 Thessalonians 2 (New American Standard Bible)
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

2 Thessalonians 2
Man of Lawlessness
1Now we request you, (A)brethren, with regard to the (B)coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our (C)gathering together to Him,

2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a (D)spirit or a (E)message or a (F)letter as if from us, to the effect that (G)the day of the Lord (H)has come.

3(I)Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the [a](J)apostasy comes first, and the (K)man of lawlessness is revealed, the (L)son of destruction,

4who opposes and exalts himself above (M)every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, (N)displaying himself as being God.

5Do you not remember that (O)while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?

6And you know (P)what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.

7For (Q)the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only (R)he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

8Then that lawless one (S)will be revealed whom the Lord will slay (T)with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the (U)appearance of His coming;

9that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of (V)Satan, with all power and (W)signs and false wonders,

10and with all the deception of wickedness for (X)those who perish, because they did not receive the love of (Y)the truth so as to be saved.

11For this reason (Z)God will send upon them a (AA)deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,

12in order that they all may be judged who (AB)did not believe the truth, but (AC)took pleasure in wickedness.

13(AD)But we should always give thanks to God for you, (AE)brethren beloved by the Lord, because (AF)God has chosen you [b]from the beginning (AG)for salvation (AH)through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

14It was for this He (AI)called you through (AJ)our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15So then, brethren, (AK)stand firm and (AL)hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether (AM)by word of mouth or (AN)by letter from us.

16(AO)Now may our Lord Jesus Christ (AP)Himself and God our Father, who has (AQ)loved us and given us eternal comfort and (AR)good hope by grace,

17(AS)comfort and (AT)strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

A. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 : 2 Thess 1:3
B. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 : 1 Thess 2:19
C. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 : Mark 13:27; 1 Thess 4:15-17
D. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 : 1 Cor 14:32; 1 John 4:1
E. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 : 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:15
F. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 : 2 Thess 3:17
G. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 : 1 Cor 1:8
H. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 : 1 Cor 7:26
I. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 : Eph 5:6
J. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 : 1 Tim 4:1
K. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 : Dan 7:25; 8:25; 11:36; 2 Thess 2:8; Rev 13:5-ff
L. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 : John 17:12
M. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 : 1 Cor 8:5
N. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 : Is 14:14; Ezek 28:2
O. 2 Thessalonians 2:5 : 1 Thess 3:4
P. 2 Thessalonians 2:6 : 2 Thess 2:7
Q. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 : Rev 17:5, 7
R. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 : 2 Thess 2:6
S. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 : Dan 7:25; 8:25; 11:36; 2 Thess 2:3; Rev 13:5-ff
T. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 : Is 11:4; Rev 2:16; 19:15
U. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 : 1 Tim 6:14; 2 Tim 1:10; 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13
V. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 : Matt 4:10
W. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 : Matt 24:24; John 4:48
X. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 : 1 Cor 1:18
Y. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 : 2 Thess 2:12, 13
Z. 2 Thessalonians 2:11 : 1 Kin 22:22; Rom 1:28
AA. 2 Thessalonians 2:11 : 1 Thess 2:3; 2 Tim 4:4
BB. 2 Thessalonians 2:12 : Rom 2:8
CC. 2 Thessalonians 2:12 : Rom 1:32; 1 Cor 13:6
DD. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 : 2 Thess 1:3
EE. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 : 1 Thess 1:4
FF. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 : Eph 1:4-ff
GG. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 : 1 Cor 1:21; 1 Thess 2:12; 5:9; 1 Pet 1:5
HH. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 : 1 Thess 4:7; 1 Pet 1:2
II. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 : 1 Thess 2:12
JJ. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 : 1 Thess 1:5
KK. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 : 1 Cor 16:13
LL. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 : 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 3:6
MM. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 : 2 Thess 2:2
NN. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 : 2 Thess 2:2
OO. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 : 1 Thess 3:11
PP. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 : 1 Thess 3:11
QQ. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 : John 3:16
RR. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 : Titus 3:7; 1 Pet 1:3
SS. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 : 1 Thess 3:2, 13
TT. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 : 2 Thess 3:3

Cross References:

-J- 1 Timothy 4
Apostasy
1But (A)the Spirit explicitly says that (B)in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to (C)deceitful spirits and (D)doctrines of demons,
A. 1 Timothy 4:1 : John 16:13; Acts 20:23; 21:11; 1 Cor 2:10
B. 1 Timothy 4:1 : 2 Thess 2:3-ff; 2 Tim 3:1; 2 Pet 3:3; Jude 18
C. 1 Timothy 4:1 : 1 John 4:6
D. 1 Timothy 4:1 : James 3:15

[A] John 16:13

13″But when He, (A)the Spirit of truth, comes, He will (B)guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

Cross references:
A. John 16:13 : John 14:17
B. John 16:13 : John 14:26

[A] 1 Corinthians 2:10

10[a](A)For to us God revealed them (B)through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the (C)depths of God.

Footnotes:
a. 1 Corinthians 2:10 One early ms reads But

Cross references:
A. 1 Corinthians 2:10 : Matt 11:25; 13:11; 16:17; Gal 1:12; Eph 3:3, 5
B. 1 Corinthians 2:10 : John 14:26
C. 1 Corinthians 2:10 : Rom 11:33-ff

(C) Romans 11:33-36

33Oh, the depth of (A)the riches both of the (B)wisdom and knowledge of God! (C)How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

34For (D)WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?

35Or (E)WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?

36For (F)from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (G)To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

[B] 2 Timothy 3
“Difficult Times Will Come”
1But realize this, that (A)in the last days difficult times will come.

Cross references:
A. 2 Timothy 3:1 : 1 Tim 4:1

[B] 2 Peter 3:3

The Coming Day of the Lord
3(A)Know this first of all, that (B)in the last days (C)mockers will come with their mocking, (D)following after their own lusts,

Cross references:
A2 Peter 3:3 : 2 Pet 1:20
B. 2 Peter 3:3 : 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 1:2
C. 2 Peter 3:3 : Jude 18
D. 2 Peter 3:3 : 2 Pet 2:10

[B] Jude 1:18

18that they were saying to you, “(A)In the last time there will be mockers, (B)following after their own ungodly lusts.”

Cross references:
A. Jude 1:18 : Acts 20:29; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 3:1; 4:3; 2 Pet 3:3
B. Jude 1:18 : Jude 4, 16

[C] 1 John 4:6
6(A)We are from God; (B)he who knows God listens to us; (C)he who is not from God does not listen to us By this we know (D)the spirit of truth and (E)the spirit of error.

Cross references:
A. 1 John 4:6 : John 8:23; 1 John 4:4
B. 1 John 4:6 : John 8:47; 10:3-ff; 18:37
C. 1 John 4:6 : 1 Cor 14:37
D. 1 John 4:6 : John 14:17
E. 1 John 4:6 : 1 Tim 4:1

(A) John 8:23

23And He was saying to them, “(A)You are from below, I am from above; (B)you are of this world, (C)I am not of this world.

Cross references:
A. John 8:23 : John 3:31
B. John 8:23 : 1 John 4:5
C. John 8:23 : John 17:14, 16

(A) 1 John 4:4

4You are from God, (A)little children, and (B)have overcome them; because (C)greater is He who is in you than (D)he who is in the world.

Cross references:
A. 1 John 4:4 : 1 John 2:1
B. 1 John 4:4 : 1 John 2:13
C. 1 John 4:4 : Rom 8:31; 1 John 3:20
D. 1 John 4:4 : John 12:31

(B) John 8:47

47″(A)He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

Cross references:
A. John 8:47 : 1 John 4:6

(B) John 10:3-42

(too long to reference here, refer to it at bottom)

(B) John 18:37

37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “(A)You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, (B)to testify to the truth (C)Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Cross references:
A. John 18:37 : Matt 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 22:70; 23:3
B. John 18:37 : John 1:14; 3:32; 8:14
C. John 18:37 : John 8:47; 1 John 4:6

(C) 1 Corinthians 14:37
37(A)If anyone thinks he is a prophet or (B)spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you (C)are the Lord’s commandment.

Cross references:
E. 1 Corinthians 14:37 : 2 Cor 10:7
F. 1 Corinthians 14:37 : 1 Cor 2:15
G. 1 Corinthians 14:37 : 1 John 4:6

(D) John 14:17

17that is (A)the Spirit of truth, (B)whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

Cross references:
A. John 14:17 : John 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 4:6; 5:7
B. John 14:17 : 1 Cor 2:14

(E) 1 Timothy 4:1

(see above)

[D] James 3:15

15This wisdom is not that which comes down (A)from above, but is (B)earthly, (C)natural, (D)demonic.

A. James 3:15 : James 1:17
B. James 3:15 : 1 Cor 2:6; 3:19
C. James 3:15 : 2 Cor 1:12; Jude 19
D. James 3:15 : 2 Thess 2:9; 1 Tim 4:1; Rev 2:24

(A) James 1:17

17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is (A)from above, coming down from (B)the Father of lights, (C)with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

(B) 1 Corinthians 2:6

6Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are (A)mature; a wisdom, however, not of (B)this age nor of the rulers of (C)this age, who are (D)passing away;

(B) 1 Corinthians 3:19

19For (A)the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God For it is written, “He is (B)THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”;

-(A) 1 Corinthians 1:20

20(A)Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of (B)this age? Has not God (C)made foolish the wisdom of (D)the world?

-(B) Job 5:13

13″He (A)captures the wise by their own shrewdness,
And the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted.

(C) 2 Corinthians 1:12

Paul’s Integrity

12For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of (A)our conscience, that in holiness and (B)godly sincerity, (C)not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

(C) Jude 1:19

19These are the ones who cause divisions, (A)worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

(D) 2 Thessalonians 2:9
9that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of (A)Satan, with all power and (B)signs and false wonders,

Cross references:
A. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 : Matt 4:10
B. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 : Matt 24:24; John 4:48

(B) Matthew 24:24

24″For false Christs and (A)false prophets will arise and will show great (B)signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even (C)the elect.

Cross references:
A. Matthew 24:24 : Matt 7:15; 24:11
B. Matthew 24:24 : John 4:48; 2 Thess 2:9
C. Matthew 24:24 : Matt 22:14; 24:22, 31; Luke 18:7

-(A) Matthew 7:15

A Tree and Its Fruit
15″Beware of the (A)false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are (B)ravenous wolves.

-(A) Matthew 24:11

11″Many (A)false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

-(B) John 4:48

48So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see (A)signs and (B)wonders, you simply will not believe.”

(D) Revelation 2:24

24’But I say to you, the rest who are in (A)Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the (B)deep things of Satan, as they call them–I (C)place no other burden on you.

Cross references:
A. Revelation 2:24 : Rev 2:18
B. Revelation 2:24 : 1 Cor 2:10
C. Revelation 2:24 : Acts 15:28

From [C] (B)

John 10:3-42

3″To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear (A)his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and (B)leads them out.

4″When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know (C)his voice.

5″A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know (D)the voice of strangers.”

6This (E)figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

7So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am (F)the door of the sheep.

8″All who came before Me are (G)thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

9″(H)I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

10″The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they (I)may have life, and have it abundantly.

11″(J)I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd (K)lays down His life for the sheep.

12″He who is a hired hand, and not a (L)shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

13″He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.

14″(M)I am the good shepherd, and (N)I know My own and My own know Me,

15even as (O)the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and (P)I lay down My life for the sheep.

16″I have (Q)other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become (R)one flock with (S)one shepherd.

17″For this reason the Father loves Me, because I (T)lay down My life so that I may take it again.

18″(U)No one has taken it away from Me, but I (V)lay it down on My own initiative I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again (W)This commandment I received from My Father.”

19(X)A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words.

20Many of them were saying, “He (Y)has a demon and (Z)is insane. Why do you listen to Him?”

21Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one (AA)demon-possessed (AB)A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”
Jesus Asserts His Deity
22At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem;

23it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of (AC)Solomon.

24(AD)The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us (AE)plainly.”

25Jesus answered them, “(AF)I told you, and you do not believe; (AG)the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.

26″But you do not believe because (AH)you are not of My sheep.

27″My sheep (AI)hear My voice, and (AJ)I know them, and they follow Me;

28and I give (AK)eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and (AL)no one will snatch them out of My hand.

29″[a]My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

30″(AM)I and the Father are one.”

31The Jews (AN)picked up stones again to stone Him.

32Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?”

33The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for (AO)blasphemy; and because You, being a man, (AP)make Yourself out to be God.”

34Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in (AQ)your (AR)Law, ‘(AS)I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’?

35″If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),

36do you say of Him, whom the Father (AT)sanctified and (AU)sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘(AV)I am the Son of God’?

37″(AW)If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;

38but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe (AX)the works, so that you may know and understand that (AY)the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

39Therefore (AZ)they were seeking again to seize Him, and (BA)He eluded their grasp.

40And He went away (BB)again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there.

41Many came to Him and were saying, “While John performed no (BC)sign, yet (BD)everything John said about this man was true.”

42(BE)Many believed in Him there.

Footnotes:
a. John 10:29 One early ms reads What My Father has given Me is greater than all

Cross references:
A. John 10:3 : John 10:4, 16, 27
B. John 10:3 : John 10:9
C. John 10:4 : John 10:5, 16, 27
D. John 10:5 : John 10:4, 16, 27
E. John 10:6 : John 16:25, 29; 2 Pet 2:22
F. John 10:7 : John 10:1, 9
G. John 10:8 : Jer 23:1; Ezek 34:2-ff; John 10:1
H. John 10:9 : John 10:1, 9
I. John 10:10 : John 5:40
J. John 10:11 : Is 40:11; Ezek 34:11-16, 23; John 10:14; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 7:17
K. John 10:11 : John 10:15, 17, 18; 15:13; 1 John 3:16
L. John 10:12 : John 10:2
M. John 10:14 : John 10:11
N. John 10:14 : John 10:27
O. John 10:15 : Matt 11:27; Luke 10:22
P. John 10:15 : John 10:11, 17, 18
Q. John 10:16 : Is 56:8
R. John 10:16 : John 11:52; 17:20; Eph 2:13-18; 1 Pet 2:25
S. John 10:16 : Ezek 34:23; 37:24
T. John 10:17 : John 10:11, 15, 18
U. John 10:18 : Matt 26:53; John 2:19; 5:26
V. John 10:18 : John 10:11, 15, 17
W. John 10:18 : John 14:31; 15:10; Phil 2:8; Heb 5:8
X. John 10:19 : John 7:43; 9:16
Y. John 10:20 : John 7:20
Z. John 10:20 : Mark 3:21
AA. John 10:21 : Matt 4:24
BB. John 10:21 : Ex 4:11; John 9:32
CC. John 10:23 : Acts 3:11; 5:12
DD. John 10:24 : John 1:19; 10:31, 33
EE. John 10:24 : Luke 22:67; John 16:25
FF. John 10:25 : John 8:56, 58
GG. John 10:25 : John 5:36; 10:38
HH. John 10:26 : John 8:47
II. John 10:27 : John 10:4, 16
JJ. John 10:27 : John 10:14
KK. John 10:28 : John 17:2; 1 John 2:25; 5:11
LL. John 10:28 : John 6:37, 39
MM. John 10:30 : John 17:21-ff
NN. John 10:31 : John 8:59
OO. John 10:33 : Lev 24:16
PP. John 10:33 : John 5:18
QQ. John 10:34 : John 8:17
RR. John 10:34 : John 12:34; 15:25; Rom 3:19; 1 Cor 14:21
SS. John 10:34 : Ps 82:6
TT. John 10:36 : Jer 1:5; John 6:69
UU. John 10:36 : John 3:17
VV. John 10:36 : John 5:17; 10:30
WW. John 10:37 : John 10:25; 15:24
XX. John 10:38 : John 10:25; 14:11
YY. John 10:38 : John 14:10, 20; 17:21, 23
ZZ. John 10:39 : John 7:30
AAA. John 10:39 : Luke 4:30; John 8:59
BBB. John 10:40 : John 1:28
CCC. John 10:41 : John 2:11
DDD. John 10:41 : John 1:27, 30, 34; 3:27-30
EEE. John 10:42 : John 7:31