Category Archives: Heresies

Simon the Sorcerer

Acts 8:9-10

“Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, ‘This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.'”

Most of us should be quite familiar with the story of Simon the sorcerer, the guy that tried to buy the ability to lay on hands and “give” people the Holy Spirit, and there is so much to learn from this account. For one thing, Simon became a believer and was baptized, yet hadn’t yet come into a full understanding of how things now were (verse 13); he was enthralled by the miracles worked by Philip and focused on them rather than the Lord that makes them possible. But what I want to look at today is the reaction of the people of Samaria to Simon’s sorcery and the grave mistake that they made, and that people still make today. The people saw the supernatural works of Simon and decided that he was the “divine power known as the Great Power”, which revealed their profound ignorance of the Scriptures and the belief in false powers that followed in the wake of such ignorance. They didn’t even attribute the power that Simon apparently wielded to God, but rather to some vague, ill-defined “Great Power”; either they assumed it came from within himself or was something very generally defined. This mistake is still made by millions in our own age when people attribute supernatural power either to some inherent quality of the person, or to some sort of generic power, like the Mother Earth power or even the fictional power from Star Wars called the Force. Some groups prefer to just suggest their members believe in some sort of “Higher Power” and say that it is whatever you consider a higher power. But we must be clear about this: any power that does not come from God comes from the enemy, Satan, and his legions of fallen angels…period. And the only way to get access to the power of God is through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only way to the Father and therefore His power; Jesus is the only valid doorway or gate to the divine. Anything that does not come through Him is not of God. No amount of belief in other paths to eternal life will work. No belief in a vague “higher power” or a God without Christ or some innate quality of the human species or even the Force will get you an eternal life of great joy and bliss. (Think I’m joking about a belief in “the Force”? Go to a Star Wars convention or talk to a devoted fan of those films and you’ll see plenty of people who take the Force very seriously!) If our faith is in Jesus Christ, our divine Savior, then we will receive that eternity; without Jesus, we have nothing and remain doomed. How did things turn out for Simon? It doesn’t say specifically, but I think it probably turned out ok for him. We know he became a believer in the Lord, and when Peter rebuked him Simon did not get all huffy and storm off, but rather showed a sincere desire for forgiveness and remorse for his own errors. So we can hope to meet Simon in the Kingdom, only God knows, but I do know this: if we see Simon there it will be because he believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and won’t be because he believed in a “Great Power”. Or even the Force…

Grace and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.


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A Complete Revelation

Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Revelation 22:21

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Here are the first and last verses of the Bible, the literary alpha and omega of the written Word of God. There is a lot of ground covered between these two verses: some historical, some poetic, some prophetic and some advisory. But what ties it all together is that the Scriptures reveal to us God’s plan to redeem us and save us from the fall into sin that happened in the Garden. The heart of the entire Bible is our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the blood-bought salvation that He offers to us all.

I hear people frequently questioning how the canon of Scripture was agreed upon; some argue the process was arbitrary and some argue that some writings were not included that should have been. I don’t plan on recounting that continual debate. I boil it down to this: God was certainly in charge of the councils that set the canon of Scripture through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 is everything that we need to know and understand about God and our relationship to Him through Jesus Christ.

Some ask why the Bible stops where it does, and my answer is that it is complete as is. The Bible starts with the most basic of information – that God created the universe and us – and ends with the arrival of the New Jerusalem and the beginning of God’s eternal reign among us. In between everything we need to know is revealed and the benchmark for spiritual truth is set. So in a sense, Scripture is a progressive revelation, from the general to the very precise, exactly as God wanted it to be.

But there are many people out there who try to claim the Scriptures are just the beginning and that the revelation should continue, and this is a very false notion. From the gnostics of the First Century to modern cults such as the Church of Almighty God/Eastern Lightning, many have presented their literature as the Word of God in support of their false teachings; the Quran of Islam is presented as further revelation from God despite the fact that it strays from Biblical truth. Be sure that once John wrote down the Revelation he received on the isle of Patmos near the end of the First Century the message that God wanted us to receive was complete. No further additions were needed; as they say in court, God rested His case and nothing further was necessary.

I will never try to claim that all that has been written in the last 2,000 years is of no value; quite the opposite is true. Starting at the end of the Apostolic Age and continuing into our day, many people have written many valuable things as the Spirit led them, and many Christians through the centuries have found comfort and inspiration in the writings of those who have gone before us or who still write. I have found much of great value in the writings of Christians from Ignatius of Antioch to Augustine, to Teresa of Avila, to the Reformers, through John Bunyan to Charles Spurgeon, C. S. Lewis, Walter Martin, Charles Stanley and John Piper… I could go on but I’m sure you get my point.

But should the writings of even the most inspired Christians be seen as of the same staure as Scripture? No, they should not. Scripture is Scripture and it stands complete. But all the Christian literature of the last 20 centuries should be valued by it’s truthfulness when compared to Scripture, and this is where we as believers and readers need to exercise discernment. Paul said to test everything and I take that to heart; everything I read I weigh against the truth of Scripture. Does that mean I throw out everything that is not 100% in line with the Bible? No, for if I did I would be left with only cereal boxes to read. I have found much that inspires me and encourages me in writers from many different groups, but I do stay away from the works of those who deny the divine nature of Christ or who teach “a different Jesus”.

So when you run across someone trying to tell you that the writings of their group’s founders are further revelation from God on a par with Scripture, or worse, intended to replace the teachings of Scripture, don’t be deceived. Everything we need to know about God and our salvation lies between Genesis and Revelation, and if nothing else in 2,000 years had been written, we would still have everything we need on those pages.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Jesus Came to Save Sinners

1st Timothy 1:15

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”

In this verse Paul cut to the core of why Jesus set heaven aside and came among us – to save sinful men and women. Period. He came among us and died on the cross to gather those to Himself those who would follow Him in faith and be His for eternity. He did not come to found a new religion, although that happened. He did not come to start some great social services program, although through the centuries much good has been done in that area. He did not come to establish a human-run theocracy, though many through the centuries have tried to do just that; contrary to the popular misconception, the Kingdom will not become a reality until Jesus returns in power and glory to establish His throne in our midst. No, Jesus came down to earth for one purpose: to pay for our sins by dying on the cross, to redeem us so that through Him we can have eternal life. Period.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The True Streets of Gold

Revelation 21:2, 21

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband… The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.”

I would imagine that most of us grew up hearing about the “pearly gates of heaven” and the “streets of gold”, but how accurate is that? Where did that notion begin? There is only one place in Scripture where it talks of “pearly gates” and golden streets, and that is in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation, verse 21. But read the entire chapter and you’ll see that verse 21 is not describing heaven, but the New Jerusalem, the city of God which will descend from heaven to the earth where it will be the abode of God forever, dwelling among humanity. A great bulk of chapter 21 describes the New Jerusalem and conditions therein, not heaven.

So when you hear someone saying that heaven has streets of gold and pearly gates, remember that it is one more false tradition derived from Scripture. As believers we will indeed enter those gates fashioned out of pearls and walk on that golden street, but they will be a part of the most mind-boggling structure in the universe, the New Jerusalem, once our blessed eternity with God Almighty begins.

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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R. C. Sproul on the Three Main Types of Christian Legalism

This is a very interesting, and enlightening, blog post from 2016 written by the late theologian and apologist R. C. Sproul and published on the website for Ligonier Ministries…well worth reading by all professing Christians…


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Reason or Revelation?

Job 11:7-9

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens – what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave – what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.”

Such wise words from Zophar the Naamathite – if only later generations had lived by them! For thousands of years humanity has tried to understand the nature of the universe and – sometimes – the nature of God. Have we succeeded? No, I don’t believe so. Just limiting the scope of this discussion to the 2,000 years of the Christian faith, many have tried to understand the truth of God using human reason; many have tried to reconcile revelation with reason. As the church grew older and further away from the age of the apostles, many have tried to explain revelation in the light of the philosophical musings of the Greek philosophers, but have they succeeded? No, for the more they have tried to fit divine revelation into the bounds of human reason the further away from the truth they have strayed. How can the finite mind of a created being possibly understand the nature of the infinite being that created it? How can the clay ever comprehend the mind of the potter? It’s impossible! It’s been argued that God created us with reason so we can use it, but should we really try to elevate our reason to the same level of God, or worse, elevate it higher? No. We can and should use the mental gifts God has given us to understand the Creation around us as much as we can, but to try and comprehend the nature of God by human reason is an exercise in futility. If we could ever figure it out for ourselves there would have been no real reason for the revelation of God in the Scriptures. The divine revelation of Scripture should be our guide as it was intended to be. As Jesus said, “Blessed are they who believe and have not seen.” Let the revelation be our standard to live by, not our reason and philosophy.

Peace and grace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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