This article is in some respects akin to the 'Idols in Ministry No 4' article on Doctrine in that it deals with Theological Doctrines, but in this article I specifically want to discuss the issue of 'Gnosticism', particularly as it applies to the 'Second Coming of Christ' and end time events.
The Catholic Encyclopedia on Gnosticism states:
Gnostics were "people who knew", and their knowledge at once constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know. (See End Notes)
The world abounds with both secular and religious persons predicting the date for the end of the world, and when they do so as Christians, quoting the Bible, they do grave harm.
These 'soothsayers' for want of a better expression spend their time searching for 'Secret Wisdom' within the Scriptures, and they do so in direct contradiction to the statement of Christ in the Gospel of Mark Chapter 13 that no one not even Jesus himself, knows the day or hour of the end.
If one wants to waste their time trying to discern the year of the coming of the Lord, then that is their right, but when such people use their 'special revelation' to persuade people to believe in Christ, they are not only acting in a way not prescribed in Scripture, but ultimately setting their adherents up for disappointment and shattered faith.
One can only speculate upon the reason, the driving force behind their search but it cannot be that they are merely seeking to convert souls to Christ. Matthew Chapter 28 (verses 19-20) instructs the disciples to go out into the world and teach them of Salvation and to Baptize them - Not to preach 'Repent - the end is nigh'.
The Gospel of John Chapter three states quite clearly that the world stands condemned before God but that those who believe in Jesus shall receive everlasting life. In the Book of Romans Chapter Ten we are told that if you confess the Lordship of Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead then you will be saved. And it goes on to call upon Disciples of Christ to go out to preach the good news to those who have not heard of Christ.
Perhaps there are some people who think that they are searching out the mysteries of God so that they can prophetically warn the non-believers of the imminent return of Christ and persuade them to repent and be saved, but where in the Scriptures does it say that the Salvation of Christ is given to those who are afraid of 'hellfire and damnation'.
Nowhere do we read that 'he who fears going to hell will be saved' or that 'he who knows when Christ will return shall be saved'. First Corinthians Chapter One states that 'we preach Christ crucified' - a concept that is a stumblingblock to Jews who sought signs and foolishness to Greeks who sought wisdom.
Since our primary purpose is to worship HIM, and to spread the 'Gospel' or 'good news' of salvation, those whose focus is on the second coming of Christ are those whose focus is not on fulfilling the real commission given to each believer.
The Bible is a big book covering a long period of history and it has something to say to each generation of believers that lived at those times, and prophetically speaks to us 'at the end of the age'.
Our commission is not to scare the wits out of simple souls, and nor is it to enter into academic arguments with the intellectually superior. Our commission is to spread the good news of the Work, the Grace, and the Salvation freely provided us through the love of God. (Ephesians 2)
People who constantly preach on or teach the 'End Times' (Armageddon - the rapture - the millennial reign of Christ), particularly those doing so in a prophetic way having allegedly calculated the timing of the events, are acting in direct contradiction to the will of God.
They have shifted their focus from 'The Savior' who was and is, to 'The Judge' who is yet to be. As such they are focused on an idol. We are not to worship at the footstool of the avenging judge, but at the footstool of the Gracious Savior.
Christ our Savior is the focus of our salvation and our commission - not 'Christ the Judge'.
Those who give themselves over to 'secret wisdom' by which they will be saved or which lifts them up higher than others around them are worshipping an idol.
What is 'Secret Wisdom'?
The Catholic Encyclopedia
Gnostics were "people who knew", and their knowledge at once constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know. A more complete and historical definition of Gnosticism would be: A collective name for a large number of greatly-varying and pantheistic-idealistic sects, which flourished from some time before the Christian Era down to the fifth century, and which, while borrowing the phraseology and some of the tenets of the chief religions of the day, and especially of Christianity, held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a depravation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Savior.
When will the world end?
Mark 13:32-37 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Which Christ do we Preach?
1 Corinthians 1:18-27 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty
What must we do to be saved?
John 3:14-21 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Romans 10:9-11 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Romans 10:14,15 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Will my faith save me?
Ephesians Chapter 2: 4-9 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
M. Wallace Johnson
Articles by M. Wallace Johnson
Introducing M. Wallace Johnson
Holy, Wholly or Holey SERIES
Idols in Ministry SERIES