Jerusalem, having a conversation with the Pharisees after healing a
man on the Sabbath, and he made this declaration,
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life;
and these are they which testify of Me. John 5:39
saying He is the focus of both the Old and New Testament, the
scriptures of Israel. Jesus declared Himself the focus of
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No
one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
There is in
the heart of the Humanity the search for meaning. This search
goes back to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Since that
point man has looked forward to redemption, there is a natural
inclination for humanity to seek a reason for being. Religion
attempts to answer this emptiness.
About 560 BC, Siddhartha Gautama was born in Northeastern India
to royal a Hindu family. He was shielded most of his life from
the conditions of the world outside his families’ palace. One
day he saw the suffering of humankind outside his palace, he
became aware of death and suffering and looked for the meaning
of life. Not satisfied with Hinduism, he meditated under a fig
tree and reached a point of “Enlightenment”. Siddhartha Gautama
became the Buddha or “Enlightened One”, he would preach to those
in the world a way of escape from this life. By following
Siddhartha’s way, “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Paths”
man could earn his way out of the tedium of life to enter
“Nirvana”, the stopping of suffering. Siddhartha offered the
suffering followers of Hinduism a way of escape, by following
him and his “Truth” the people of India would have hope. Before
he died, at the age of 80, Buddha commented on the state of his
“I am old now,
Ananda, and full of years; my journey nears its end, and I have
reached the sum of days, for I am nearly eighty years old. Just
as a worn out cart can only be kept going if it is tied up with
thongs, so the body….can only be kept going by bandaging it.”
After his death, Siddhartha was deified and worshipped by his
followers, Siddhartha illustrates the heart of man throughout
history, his desire to worship or be worshipped. Siddhartha,
not finding hope in Hinduism became the focus of hope; he became
the Buddha or “Enlightened One”. Siddhartha teachings and
writings have survived from the 6th century BC until
the 21st century. To this day hundreds of millions
of people look to his image and teachings for hope and
has looked for redemption since the fall and our redemption is
found only in Jesus Christ. Jesus refers to those “Enlightened
leaders” such as Buddha in the Gospel of John,
8 "All who ever
came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not
9 "I am the
door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in
and out and find pasture.
revealed his identity and “Truth” through the descendents of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the Bible. The Bible is the source
of our knowledge about who is God and what is our purpose in
life? God’s Word is the Satan’s target, and his workers lead
people astray to turn them away from Truth.
13 For such are
false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into
apostles of Christ.
14 And no
wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of
15 Therefore it
is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves
into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to
their works. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
who claim to represent God, Satan assaults the descendents of
Adam. Israel was lead in the desert by Moses for forty years
and was about to enter the Promised Land, which Moses was not to
enter. The problem arose how would Israel be able to distinguish
between “False Prophets” and “True” prophets who were going to
reveal God’s word to the people. The “Test of a Prophet” was
revealed to Israel in Deuteronomy 18:18-22. Since a prophet
would be claiming to speak for God, what that individual says
should be true. If what the individual says does not happen,
the person is a “False Prophet”, and not be feared. The “False
Prophet” is to be put to death.
There are several tests and ways of knowing who is speaking for
God and who is not. The responsibility of Truth falls on the
hearer. In understanding and working with cults, it is important
to understand the tests of the prophets revealed in scripture.
All the cults fail the tests revealing their false nature.
Cults use fear to keep their followers in line, for this reason
we are told, “You shall not be afraid of them” (Deut 18:22).
Tests of Prophets
of the Words of Prophets
'I will raise up for them a Prophet like you
from among their brethren, and will put My words
in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all
that I command Him.
'And it shall be that whoever will not hear
My words, which He speaks in My name, I will
require it of him.
'But the prophet who presumes
to speak a word in My name, which I have not
commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the
name of other gods, that prophet shall die.'
"And if you say in your heart, 'How shall
we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'
when a prophet speaks in the name of the
Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to
pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not
spoken; the prophet has spoken it
presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
to false prophets who are presumptuous whether they
speak in the LORDS name or other gods names.
“False Prophet” status is revealed through false
attention or fear to the words of false prophets.
of the Dedication
by False Prophets
"If there arises among you a prophet or a
dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a
"and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of
which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after
other gods'-which you have not known-'and
let us serve them,'
"you shall not listen to the words of that
prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the
Lord your God is testing you to know whether
you love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul.
"You shall walk after the Lord your God and
fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey
His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold
fast to Him.
"But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams
shall be put to death, because he has spoken in
order to turn you away from the Lord your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt and
redeemed you from the house of bondage, to
entice you from the way in which the Lord your
God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away
the evil from your midst.
and wonders may occur by False Prophets
way does not correspond with previous revelation.
is testing the love of his people, whether they are
wholly devoted to Him.
Fruits of False Prophets
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the
gate and broad is the way that leads to
destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
"Because narrow is the gate and difficult is
the way which leads to life, and there are few
who find it.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to
you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they
are ravenous wolves.
"You will know them by their fruits. Do men
gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from
"Even so, every good tree bears good fruit,
but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
"A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a
bad tree bear good fruit.
"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is
cut down and thrown into the fire.
"Therefore by their fruits you will know
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,'
shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who
does the will of My Father in heaven.
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord,
Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name,
cast out demons in Your name, and done many
wonders in Your name?'
"And then I will declare to them, 'I never
knew you; depart from Me, you who practice
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of
Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise
man who built his house on the rock:
way to eternal life is narrow and exclusive, the way to
death is broad and inclusive.
prophets come in outwardly similar appearance, but are
fruit of their life will expose their “False prophet”
Outward actions do not bring salvation but a
relationship with Jesus alone. Jesus must “Know” us.
4. A Different Gospel
I marvel that you are turning away so soon
from Him who called you in the grace of Christ,
to a different gospel,
which is not another; but there are some who
trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of
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
But I make known to you, brethren, that the
gospel which was preached by me is not according
For I neither received it from man, nor was I
taught it, but it came through the revelation
of Jesus Christ.
of the Gospel already given, the individual is to be
Gospel (Good News) has been given to the Church and not
to be changed.
Not long after
the Church was established at Pentecost Satan began his assault
on the Church through deceptive teachers trying to lead people
astray, away from the Gospel (Good News). Paul reprimands the
church at the
for listening to the Judaizers, who taught that in order to
become Christians Gentiles must first become Jewish proselytes
and submit to all the Mosaic Law. The time of this letter
follow the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:23-29) about A.D. 49. Paul
in his letter to the Galatians defends the doctrine of
“Justification by faith” (Romans
3:31) and warns them from following after another Gospel, a
perversion of the “Truth”.
1. Doctrine of
"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos
write, 'These things says He who has the sharp
"I know your works, and where you dwell,
where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My
name, and did not deny My faith even in the days
in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was
killed among you, where Satan dwells.
"But I have a few things against you, because
you have there those who hold the doctrine of
Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling
block before the children of
Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and
to commit sexual immorality.
"Thus you also have those who hold the
doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I
'Repent, or else I will come to you quickly
and will fight against them with the sword of My
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit says to the churches. To him who
overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna
to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and
on the stone a new name written which no one
knows except him who receives it." '
2. Doctrine of “Prophetess”
"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira
write, 'These things says the Son of God, who
has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like
"I know your works, love, service, faith, and
your patience; and as for your works, the last
are more than the first.
"Nevertheless I have a few things against
you, because you allow that woman Jezebel,
who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and
seduce My servants to commit sexual
immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
"And I gave her time to repent of her sexual
immorality, and she did not repent.
"Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and
those who commit adultery with her into great
tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
"I will kill her children with death, and all
the churches shall know that I am He who
searches the minds and hearts. And I will give
to each one of you according to your works.
"Now to you I say, and to the rest in
Thyatira, as many as do not have this
doctrine, who have not known the
depths of Satan, as they say, I will put
on you no other burden.
In the letter
to churches in the book of Revelation, Jesus castigates the
churches in Pergamos and Thyatira. Here Satan undermines the
Gospel through false teachers by false doctrines. The church at
Pergamos and Thyatira had people who taught doctrines that
combined sexual liberties and idolatry with the doctrine of
“Grace”. Irenaeus writes that Nicolas, who was made a deacon in
Acts 6, was a false believer who later became apostate; but
because of his credentials, he was able to lead the church
These doctrines are compared to Balaam, who taught Balak, to
defeat Israel, he needed to seduce the people away from God,
through the Moabite women. This was the method used by
Nicolatians and the “Prophetess” of Thyatira to seduce the
church. This was the formative years for the heretical teaching
of the Gnostics who would pervert the Gospel and try to merge
both Greek and Eastern teachings into a multi-faceted system.
have not known the depths of Satan, as they say,”
the idea of knowing (Gnosis) hidden secrets was
part of the Gnostics attraction by many. The ability to know
secrets through special initiation rites is with us today in
many of the cults such as Mormons and Masons.
Gnostic is derived from the Greek word
“To Know”. Gnostics were the product of trying to combine Greek
philosophy and Christianity. Gnostism was fought by the early
apologists of the church men such as Irenaeus, Tertullian,
Hippolytus and Epiphanius described and countered their
teachings. Irenaeus (120-202 AD) wrote Against Heresies
and Tertullian wrote Against Marcion, Irenaeus and
Tertullian catalogued and described the Gnostic belief systems,
and countered with scripture and logic.
early church fathers held that Gnostism began with Simon in Acts
9 But there was
a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in
the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he
was someone great,
10 to whom they
all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man
is the great power of God."
11 And they
heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for
a long time.
12 But when they
believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom
of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were
13 Then Simon
himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued
with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which
14 Now when the
apostles who were at
heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter
and John to them,
15 who, when
they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the
16 For as yet He
had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the
name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then they
laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 And when
Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the
Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
19 saying, "Give
me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive
the Holy Spirit."
20 But Peter
said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought
that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
21 "You have
neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not
right in the sight of God.
therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the
thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
23 "For I see
that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
24 Then Simon
answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the
things which you have spoken may come upon me." Act 8:9-24
Acts, Simon is said to have practiced magic in
where he said that he was “that power of God which is called
great”. Justin Martyr (100-165 AD; Apology 1.26) places
Simon in Rome in the time of Claudius (A.D. 41-54 ) where he was
associated with a former prostitute, named Helena, of whom it
was said that she was “the first thought generated by him”.
(Against Heresies 1.23.1-4) goes on to say that, Simon claimed
to have appeared among the Jews as the Son, to descend in
Samaria as the Father, and to have come to other nations in the
character of the Holy Spirit. Helena descended to the lower
regions of space and generated angels and powers by whom the
world was formed, and then became a captive of the lower powers
(the lost sheep, Matt. 18:12, Luke 15:4). Simon, as the Great
power, appeared among men as a man in order to free Helena and
others from the rule of those who made the world. Thus it was
from Simon and the Simonians that “What is falsely called
knowledge” (I Timothy 6:20) took its beginning.
O Timothy! Guard
what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle
babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called
I Timothy 6:20
Epiphanius of Salamis (Panaraion 1.2.21) claims that
Simon considered unnatural sexual relations a matter of moral
indifference, and used materials from such in his “Mysteries”.
Describing Simon’s system, Epiphanius writes:
offers certain names of principalities and authorities, and he
speaks of various heavens, describes powers to correspond with
each firmament and heaven, and gives outlandish names for
these. He says that there is no way to be saved but by learning
this mystical doctrine, and offering sacrifices of this kind to
the Father of all, through these principalities and
authorities. This world has been defectively constructed by
wicked principalities and authorities, he says. But he teaches
there are is a death and destruction of flesh, and a
purification of souls only—and (only) if these are initiated
through his erroneous knowledge. And thus the imposture of the
so-called Gnostics begins.
Samaria, when Simon offered money to be able to convey the gift
of the Holy Spirit, Peter condemned him (Acts 8:18-24);
according to the so-called Clementine Homilies and
Reocognitons (second-third centuries), there was further
contention between Simon and Peter in various cities, including
Rome according to Hippolytus (Refutation of Heresies 6.15)
Simon met his end when he had himself buried alive and
instructed his disciples to dig him up again after three days,
but was not raised again to life.
After Simon death Menader, a Samaritan, succeeded him also. He
taught the world was made by angels but that he himself not
Simon was the person sent as the savior, and that his knowledge
his disciples overcome the angels and by being baptized into him
(Menader) you receive immortal youth.
Gnosticism gained followers throughout the world and broke into
many branches with various leaders. Many of these sects of
Gnostic teaching in order to legitimate their teaching and
authorities authored books and attached names of apostles to the
books. Titles of these book include: The Gospel According
to Thomas, The Gospel of Mary, The Sophia of Jesus Christ, The
Apocryphon of John, The Gospel of Truth, The Gospel According to
Philip, The Gospel of the Egyptians, The Apocalypse of Adam
divine messenger is frequently identified with the figure of the
Christian’s Jesus Christ, but such identification has some very
significant alterations. The divine messenger Christ, for the
purpose of modeling the divine perspective “Adopted” the body of
Jesus at a point such as the baptism and departed at a point
such as just prior to the crucifixion.
teachings of Basilides, who live during the time of Hadrian
(A.D. 117-138), taught Jesus did not die on a cross but a
phantom was crucified in his place. This teaching has found its
way into the Islam’s Koran by A.D. 610-632.
Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a
certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross
stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him,
that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified,
through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself
received the form of Simon, and, standing by,
laughed at them. For since he was an incorporeal power,
and the Nous (mind) of the unborn father, he
transfigured himself as he pleased, and thus ascended
to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as
he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to
all….. If any one, therefore, he declares, confesses the
crucified, that man is still a slave, and under the
power of those who formed our bodies; but he who
denies him has been freed from these beings, and is
acquainted with the dispensation of the unborn father.
And for their saying, "Verily we have slain the Messiah, Jesus the son
of Mary, an Apostle of God." Yet they slew him not,
and they crucified him not, but they had only his
likeness. And they who differed about him were in
doubt concerning him: No sure knowledge had they about
him, but followed only an opinion, and they did not
really slay him, but God took him up to Himself.
And God is Mighty, Wise!
Marcion was a 2nd
century heretic, and founder of churches that rivaled orthodox
Christianity. He came from Sinope, Pontus, to Rome and offered
the church a large sum of money. He was disfellowshipped in 144
AD for his teachings and his money was returned. He used his
wealth and organizing ability to set up a rival church, which
became widespread and lasted for several centuries.
Marcion rejected the Old Testament and issued his own New
Testament, which consisted of an abbreviated Gospel of Luke and
ten Pauline epistles (excluding the Pastorals) edited on a
dogmatic basis. His Antitheses set forth contradictions
between the testaments. His positions are known principally from
the five-book refutation by Tertullian, Against Marcion.
Marcion distinguished between a creator and redeemer
Gods; judgment belong to the Creator and redemption to the
Father, the unknown God before the coming of Christ. The OT was
the revelation of the Creator, the God of the Jews, who worked
evils and was self-contradictory. Jesus Christ was not he
Messiah predicated in the OT but a revelation of the God of
love. This only seemed to suffer and he raised himself from the
dead. The original disciples of Jesus had Judaized, so the
Father called Paul to restore the true gospel. However,
Judaizers interpolated his epistles, so Marcion had to restore
the “True” readings. The flesh is unclean, so only the
unmarried were baptized, except at the end of life. Water was
substituted for wine in the Lord’s Supper: There was no law, and
salvation was by grace alone.
Marcion shared his view points with the Gnostics, but differed
from them in his rejection of speculation and allegory, his
concern to organize a church, and in taking his stand on a
written revelation alone. Reaction to Marcion speeded up the
formulation of the orthodox canon, creed and organization of the
philosopher and painter named Mani (216-277 AD) established
Manichaeism by synthesizing Zoroasterian, Christian and Buddhist
ideas. This was one of the major faiths of the ancient world.
Mani received his early education in a Gnostic community in
Babylon and claimed his first revelation at the age of twelve and
his call to apostleship when he was twenty-four. After his
efforts to convert his community failed, he traveled to
India, where he
founded his first religious group. He returned in 242 to preach
his faith in Babylonian provinces and he became a vassal of the
new monarch Shapur I. Although Mani’s beliefs were never
established as the official state religion, he enjoyed royal
protection and sent proselytizers throughout Persia into foreign
Mani contended that he was the greatest and last prophet or
paraclete sent by the Father of Light. His teaching was claimed
to be superior to prophets who preceded him because unlike
Zoroaster, Buddha and Jesus, Mani published an authoritative
canon of at least seven major works. Through knowledge (Gnosis)
of his system and ascetic practices his followers could obtain
salvation. His system includes an elaborate mythical cosmogony
and eschatology conceived in terms of two absolute principles,
Light and Darkness, and an ascetic way of salvation. Mani
claimed continuous revelations and inspiration from an angel,
“The Twin”, who as his heavenly alter ego prepared and protected
him as a teacher and initiated him in the way of salvation.
Miraculous healings were attributed to Mani to authenticate his
After the death of Shapur, Mani was charged by Persian priests
(Zoroasterian) with perverting the traditional religion. The new
king Vahram I, imprisoned him, and a prolonged trial ensued.
Mani was chained (known to his followers as his “Crucifixion”)
and greatly weakened by fasting. He died twenty-six days after
giving his final message to his church. His followers
memorialized Mani’s death in their Bema festival celebrated
yearly in March.
Manichaeism spread both east and west from
In the West it was vigorously fought by both the Christian
church and Roman emperors. Opposition was especially strong in
Africa under Augustine, who for nine years had been a “Hearer”,
(follower of Mani). Augustine challenged Manichaeism by denying
Mani’s apostleship and condemning his rejection of biblical
To respond to
these heretical attacks by Gnostics and their sub-branches it
was important to establish Gospel “Doctrines”
and distinguish “Truth” from falsehood.
transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does
not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both
the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9
For this reason
this reason the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed
and the Athanasian Creed were written, to detail “Right”
doctrine as opposed to false and heretical teachings and
teachers that were emerging as Christianity began to spread from
to the outside world.
Arius was a
North African priest, who gave his name to one Christianities’
most troublesome schisms was born in the late 3rd
century. He came into conflict with the Bishop of Alexandria
over the nature of Christ. He taught that Christ was a created
being not God, he published a work called Thalia to propagate
February,325 Arius was condemned at a synod in
The Emperor Constantine was intervening by this time, and it was
he who called the first ecumenical council, the Council of
Nicea. This council met on May 20, 325, and subsequently
condemned Arius and his teaching.
Athanasius was at the council and became a champion against the
teachings of Arianism. Arius would later repudiate his view and
was later readmitted into the church.
Arius taught the Logos, was first born, created of God, was
incarnate in the Christ but asserted Arius, “There was when he
was not”. In response the council of Nicea, used the catchword
(homoousios) meaning “of one substance with the
Father”. The Arians asserted Christ was (anomoios) was unlike
the Father in substance. The Nicene council declared anathema
those who claimed any of the following regarding Christ and his
nature; “There was once when he was not”, “The Son of God is
of another subsistence or substance” and “The Son of God
is created or alterable or mutable”.
was not until the end of the Seventh century that Orthodoxy was
rid of the Arian heresy.
has been reborn in Unitarianism and the Jehovah Witnesses who
regard Arius as a forerunner to C. T. Russell their founder.