The Gospel of Judas: More Heretical Trash From Egypt
The Gospel of Judas is all over the news. It has been hugely promoted by the National Geographic Society, which funded its reconstruction and translation, and has been trumpeted by practically every major news publication in the world. USA Today's front-page headline is typical: "Long-lost gospel of Judas casts 'traitor' in new light."
Until recently this gnostic gospel was thought to have been lost and was known only through Irenaeus' late second century condemnation thereof in his Refutation of All Heresies, but a copy from the third or fourth century that was found in Egypt a few decades ago was purchased and restored. The translation of the fragmentary writing was published on April 6.
The Gospel of Judas presents Judas in a positive light as the only disciple who truly understood Jesus and who betrayed Him only because he was asked to do so.
According to Irenaeus, it was produced by the Egyptian Cainite Gnostics who claimed that Cain, Esau, the Sodomites, Korah, Judas, and other villains of biblical history were actually enlightened heroes who valiantly kept the gnosis or knowledge of the truth alive. According to this cult, a god named Hystera created the world and another deity called "Sophia" allegedly assisted the aforementioned people (Refutation of All Heresies, book I, chapter 31, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.ii.xxxii.html).
The Gnostic Jesus described in the Gospel of Judas is not Almighty God or the Creator of the world, does not die for man's sin, and does not rise bodily from the dead. It is no gospel at all.
Egypt was a hotbed of heresy and fanaticism in the early centuries after Christ. Many other strange "gospels" originated there, including the Gospel of Thomas that purports to give details of Christ's childhood (such as giving life to a dried fish and causing the death of one of his playmates).
Egypt also gave us the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus codexes and the handful of similar New Testament manuscripts that contain an Alexandrian type of text preferred by modern textual critics and the translators of the modern Bible versions
Three Thoughts . . . ------------------------------------
1- Zero Gravity
When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside-down, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 C.
The Russians used a pencil.
Your taxes are due again -- enjoy paying them.
2 - Our Constitution
They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it anymore.
3 - Ten Commandments
The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse is that you cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal", Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians! It creates a hostile work environment.
Top Ten Reasons For Not Being a Christian Over the course of my ministry, I've pretty much heard all the objections to Christianity the world has to offer. Here are what I would consider the "Top 10 Objections" to becoming a Christian.
1. "Seeing is believing. I've never seen God, so how do I know He exists?"
Nobody has ever seen the wind, but there is no doubt of its power. Nobody has seen history, but there is no doubt of its legacy. Nobody has seen a person's mind, but that doesn't make us mindless. TV and radio waves are invisible, but with the proper receiver, we can see their results.
Having never seen God is not much of a reason for rejecting Him, if you get right down to it. Let's see if we can do better.
2. "I may have broken the Ten Commandments, but I do good things for people. If God is fair, the scales will balance."
One look at "Hollywood morality" should dispel this one. They commit adultery in their youth, and then become involved in giving to AIDS research, etc., as they grow older. In their minds, they think that they are balancing the scales. They have done bad, and now they are doing good.
It doesn't work that way, even before an imperfect judge in a secular courtroom – if the judge is honest. An effort to bribe the judge with good works is still a bribe.
If you compare yourself with other human beings, you might be better than some, but worse than others.
But God has to judge us on the basis of His righteous character, which we have violated. This is why He gave us the "Big Ten." They show us how good we would have to be to earn God's acceptance by our own good deeds. This is why God cannot judge on the "curve." God says, "Whoever keeps the whole law, yet offends in one point is guilty of all of it." (James 2:10)
Since none of us could ever be good enough to measure up to His perfect character, God elected to come to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ and die in our place under His offended righteous character. In so doing, God purchased a pardon for every person. We only have to admit we have broken His laws, turn to God and accept His free pardon.
3. "Christianity is oppressive to women."
This objection comes up in confusing the context of the Christian model for marriage. Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord." But the skeptic's objection collapses when the passage is taken in its full context.
Ephesians 5:25 commands husbands, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it."
It is hardly "oppression" to submit to someone who loves you with a sacrificial love. Instead, it is a textbook definition of love – a key ingredient to a successful marriage.
4. "The Bible was written by men."
As an objection, this is by far the silliest. When you write a letter, are you writing it, or is the pen? As I type this column, am I writing it, or is my computer? Clearly, the pen, or the computer, is the instrument, not the writer. The same principle applies to the writers of Scripture. They were instruments, but God's Spirit is the author.
The Bible declares of itself that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God." (2 Timothy 3:16) and the proof is in the pudding. The writers of Scripture ranged from shepherds to kings to fishermen, but the 66 books that make up the Bible read as a single, harmonious narrative emanating from a Single Author.
God threw down the gauntlet concerning how to know whether His Word is true or not. God said to Moses, "You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken." (Deut. 18:21-22 NIV)
Every prophecy made in the Bible about specific events, places and times have come true to the letter. Some are not yet fulfilled because it is not yet the time. But the record in history is 100 percent accuracy. This is why we have only the books in the Bible that have been authenticated by fulfilled prophecy. More than 300 prophecies were fulfilled in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.
5. "Churches are full of hypocrites."
The word "hypocrite" comes from the Greek word for "actor" or "pretender." Hypocrisy is "the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold."
The Body of Christ consists of true believers – "churches" are buildings where people congregate. Sitting in a church no more makes one a Christian than sitting in a garage makes one a car.
Jesus will sort out the true believers from the pretenders in His time. The question is not what church you go to, but rather, whom do you trust for your salvation? A church? Or Jesus Christ?
6. "Christians think they are better than non-Christians."
This is another objection borne out of ignorance of both the teaching of Scripture and the nature of salvation. Nowhere do the Scriptures say that a Christian is a better person than a non-Christian. A believer in Jesus is a forgiven sinner. The unbeliever is not forgiven. But a true Christian knows that he is forgiven by the unmerited grace of God.
Peter betrayed Jesus by denying Him three times. Judas betrayed Him only once. But Peter is infinitely better off. Peter believed and was forgiven. Judas did not.
Two murderers were crucified alongside Jesus. One repented and expressed his faith by saying, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus immediately replied, "Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in Paradise."
By way of analogy, consider two skydivers. One has a working parachute; the other does not. That doesn't make the skydiver with a working parachute a better skydiver. But he is certainly wiser than the other guy.
7. "There is too much suffering in the world for there to be a loving God."
The Bible tells us that God cursed the Earth because of Adam's transgression. Weeds are a curse. So is disease. Sin and suffering cannot be separated. The Scriptures inform us that we live in a fallen creation. Those who understand the message of Holy Scripture eagerly await a new Heaven and a new Earth "wherein dwells righteousness."
In that coming Kingdom there will be no more pain, suffering, disease or death. If it didn't exist here, then its abolition then would be meaningless. The sacrifice of Christ would be unnecessary.
A loving God? John 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
8. "Christianity isn't fair. What about all those people who have never heard the Gospel? Will they all go to Hell because they haven't heard about Jesus Christ?"
No one will be lost because he hasn't heard of Jesus. God says, "The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20) He also promises, "You will seek Me and find me when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
You see, God brings everyone to "God-consciousness" through the witness of creation. When a person anywhere, in any culture comes to God-consciousness – and then desires to know this God, He will move Heaven and Earth to get the true message to him. If he dies without hearing about Jesus Christ, it's because he did not want to know the true God.
9. I've tried to read the Bible. I can't understand it.
The Scriptures tells us that the "natural man" cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. Most Americans would find it difficult to understand the Chinese language. However, a child who is born into a Chinese family can understand every word.
Every person is born physically alive, but spiritually dead. God is a "Spirit" and we must have the same kind of life to perceive Him. This is why Jesus said to a very religious man, "Unless a man is born from above, he cannot perceive the things of God."
When even an uneducated person believes in Jesus and is born spiritually, he can immediately begin to understand the Bible.
10. Christians are sinners, according to their own teaching. So what is the difference between a Christian who sins and a non-believer?
This objection misses the point. A Christian receives a new nature and the Spirit of God comes to dwell in him it at the point of the "new spiritual birth." He still has an old nature that wants to sin. When the Christian fails to say no to temptation and depend upon God's Spirit, he sins.
The difference, however, is that a Christian cannot be happy anymore living in sin. He becomes miserable and wants to return to fellowship with God. As soon as he confesses his sin to God, he is forgiven and brought back into fellowship. But though the Christian can get out of fellowship, he cannot lose his relationship with God. That has been secured forever by the death of Jesus Christ in his place. God will not disown a child that He purchased with His own blood.
The 10 reasons for not being a Christian, therefore, are really 10 reasons why, if you haven't already, you should be on your knees – right now – receive the gift of pardon that Jesus purchased by dying in your place.
You won't become perfect in this life, but you will have new desires and power that will make you progressively better. And at the end, you will go to be with God forever.