A. Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” That is certainly true of parenthood (as I raise my kids, it is interesting to see and hear some of the same excuses I gave my parents, from my kids). I am sure it is true for Teachers as they listen to some of the same excuses for not doing their homework as kids have been giving for decades, even centuries. Even with fashion there is really nothing new – just look at some of the same styles of clothes that come out now that were in style decades ago.
B. Yet, as we look at this divine statement by Solomon, I am sure that he was more concerned with the fact there are really No New False Teachings – rather than n nothing really changes with fashion or excuses of people!
And it is True: Even though different people may try to write a book, begin a cult, there really are no New False Teachings.
C. Certainly, today and throughout the ages, there have been those who have taught and tried to:
Question the reliability of the Scriptures and say that there are other “divine books” available. The Latter Day Saints – Mormons are based on this teaching.
Question the deity, person or ministry of Christ
Question the notion that Jesus is the only way to God’s Kingdom/heaven.
D. Well, the best selling book “the Da Vinci Code” is another in a list of books that try seek to Question the Truths of Scripture, Jesus and means to be in relationship with God and have eternal life.
There is nothing new under the Sun – as Solomon or a teacher wrote about 2600 years ago.
E. In fact, the name for such false teachings as the Da Vinci Code is called Gnosticism from the Greek word meaning “to know.”
Though Gnosticism doesn’t have a lot of unified teachings, at the heart of Gnosticism is this:
- All matter, including the body is evil
- Spirit or Spiritual things are good.
- To get in touch with what is good - spirit, you need certain “knowledge.”
- You can gain this “knowledge” through special teachers and/or certain rituals or acts.
- So the more spiritual “Knowledge” you get the more godly or closer to a higher being you get.
- Because the body is considered evil, there are two stands of Gnosticism to help you be in the “know”: 1. you treat the body harshly by abstaining from food or comforts, pleasure, or joy. 2 the other form says the body doesn’t even count so you can do whatever and in fact, you can gain this spiritual “knowledge” thru physical and acts of pleasure.
The Da Vinci Code is basically a novel that uses a lot of Gnostic thought, even promoting it: How you might ask:
It uses as it source for authority Gnostic writings that were written 100-200 years after the time of Jesus and the Apostles to question the Deity of Christ ; to question the authenticity and authority of the Bible as we know it (claiming that it was forced on the church through Constantine in the 300’s AD).
The Da Vinci code states that Jesus never really died for the sins of people nor was he raised from the dead – but faded into obscurity, Marrying Mary Magdalene and having a baby, Sarah. In fact, the Holy Grail is not the Cup Jesus used at the Last Supper but is Mary Magdalene.
The Da Vinci Code, like Gnosticism purports that one’s spiritual fulfillment doesn’t need Jesus as our Savior and Lord.. In fact, the Da Vinci Code teaches Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to be the Matriarch for the church and include the worship of goddesses in the church. “… Constantine and his male successors successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.” (pg. 124)
F. To say that there is nothing new under the Sun is seen as you really consider the message of The Da Vinci Code but some of these same questions and teachings were found during the time of the 1st Century Church – as we find in our passage today – 1John 4:1-6 and yet the Biblical authors wrote against these teachings.
Colossians is about a form of Gnosticism.
Galatians teaches against some false teachers who weren’t Gnostics but were called Judiazers who believed in the Grace and GoodNews of Jesus but taught that you also had to “Do” certain things, like circumcision to be saved.
OUR PASSAGE: some were teaching that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh but only appeared to be a man – why? Remember, the Gnostic thought that the body is evil!
So they were trying to include or Syncritize the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures with Gnostic teaching.
This was during the First Century Church so you can be as Gnosticism developed by the 2nd and 3rd Cent. Such “divine books” like the Gospel of Phillip and Mary Magdalene would also try to use Christian words and thoughts to express Gnostic teachings.
These are the sources for the Da Vinci Code.
G. So what do we learn in regards to Knowing Truth as John writes these 1st Cent. Christians and us today?
A. We learn to Expect that there will be False Teachings! Vs. 1b “… many false prophets/teachers have gone out into the world.”
Jesus Himself warned us: Matt. 24:24, “For false Christ’s and prophets will appear and perform great miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.”
We should not be surprised when we hear of teachings, statements that try to question Jesus and the Scriptures!
ILL> The leading team – everyone wants to beat, everyone wants to bring them down.
Why is it that people don’t use Alla in vain or Buddha, Confucious, etc.
We have to Expect there will be false teachers and prophets who come and go, trying to deceive to persuade and get people focused away from the Truth, away from the True Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!
B. We learn that we have a responsibility to TEST the TRUTH. Vs. 1
- testing the Truth is not Testing God! Testing the truth is to evaluate what you hear and read to see if it is true. Testing God is like where Satan tempted Jesus by saying if you are really the Son of God, then throw yourself off this temple, because God said his angels will protect you and you will not be harm.
- But how are we to TEST the Truth?
1. By Comparing what we read and hear to the Writings of the True Prophets, vs. 1 John is saying that if there are False prophets there are also True Prophets – like him. Today, we know have the writings of the True Prophets/teachers of God through the Bible. Though , the Da Vinci Code would like us to believe that we shouldn’t have any confidence in the Bible because there were other “writings – Gospels” is just not very reasonable.
a. The Gospel’s that Dan Brown refers to were written 100-200 years after the NT books in the Bible.
b. The number of manuscripts Dan Brown wants us to consider for truth are few compared to the Thousands of NT manuscripts.
c. Dan Brown uses terms like the Nag Hamadi (Gnostic writings found in the Egypt in 1945) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (which have nothing to do with the NT or Jesus but were OT manuscripts that confirmed the reliability of the OT books we currently have in the Bible).
d. The Bible was never something forced on the Church by Constantine in the 4th century, it was already in form in the 1st Century and was formed through Apostolic Authority (written by the Apostles in direct association with them); Orthodoxy (that what is being taught is in line with the true teachings of Jesus and Apostles); and General Acceptance and Usefulness by the Early Church. (there was first an Oral tradition and teaching of Jesus and as the books/letters were written, the early church would approve on how accurate it was to the original teachings.
2. By Comparing the teaching to the nature and person of Jesus Christ, vs. 2-3 - part of the Gnostic belief was that the body was evil. So some “false Prophets” who infiltrated the church tried to teach that Jesus only appeared to be human – that he wasn’t really man. The problem with this thought is that if Jesus was not really man then His death was not real. If His death was not real, how could he pay for our sins?
That is why John here writes, “every spirit that acknowledges Jesus has come in the flesh is from God.” Vs. 2
So we learn that it is very important to TEST what we hear and read about Jesus to see if really proclaims the truth of Jesus as born of a virgin, sinless life, God and Man, died for our sins, was raised from the dead, ascended back into heaven and will Return = if the teaching does not proclaim Christ appropriately, it is not of God!
3. By Comparing the teaching we hear or read to those we know are teachers of God, vs. 5-6
Isn’t it interesting that so many people will believe what someone like Dan Brown writes in a Novel even though he is not a Theologian, nor a Historian, nor an Art expert – but a writer and yet don’t want to really check with those who could be considered an authority in the area?
C. We learn that God wants to Guide us to Know His Truth, vs. 4
Truth will endure, persevere.
God gives us the Holy Spirit, 1Cor. 2 to help us know, discern and understand TRUTH through God’s Word.
So as we seek the Lord, He will guide us into Truth.
A. 2Tim. 3:1-5, “But mark this… in the last days. People will be lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power….” 4:3-4, For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
B. So what do can we do?
1. Test what you hear and read to God’s Word, to what it says about Jesus, to what you hear from those who truly know and proclaim God’s Word.
2. Watch out for False Prophets/teachers who claim to teach the truth.
3. We can help others know the Truth by sharing with them what we learn and leading them to the True source of Truth – the Lord and The Bible.
C. In regards to the Da Vinci Code: minimally, this book and the movie coming out is a fictional Novel and if you choose to read the book or see the Movie know that is not Truth but Fictional. However, because of things that Dan Brown the author has said, including the first page of the book that says FACT – this book and probably the Movie is another form of leading people to Challenge and be Deceived from the TRUTH.
It challenges the Bible, the History of the Church, The Deity of Christ, If Jesus really died for our sins or was raised from the dead, and the call for us to Respond in Faith to Jesus for Salvation, Hope, Forgiveness.
It can be very dangerous for people – but not you – because now you know – but I as we learn from our Passage today: TEST the TRUTH!
Acts 17:11, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thess. For they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Let us do the same!