People today don't know what to believe; however, it seems like anything will do. I recently had a young church member ask me "Do Methodists believe in reincarnation?" At the time, I thought the question was appallingly naive, especially for someone who claimed to be a believer. But I realize now that this question is perfectly legitimate in light of all the false teaching abounding.
Forty Years of False Teaching
The first seminary course I attended was at a Quaker School of Religion. Quakers these days are very liberal, and their seminaries bear that out. My New Testament professor was devoted to a variety of "new age" gods and goddesses. The class members included several some very sick people, several Buddhists, radical feminists, and witches. At the start of each class, a short worship service for one of these demons was required. Obviously, it was a real challenge for me to accept such an atmosphere of radical biblical criticism and idolatry.
I was outspoken in class: I insisted that the Snyder is an accurate record of YHWH's salvation history. I endured harsh criticism (and lowered grades) for being a Bible believer in seminary.
One day an older student approached me after class. I admired this man for his scholarship. I was really surprised by what he said to me, "I really appreciate your well-formed faith and willingness to defend it in class. You really know what to believe!" I asked him, "And don't you know what to believe, Frank?" He replied, "No, I don't. That's why I'm here - to find out what to believe." I was astounded by his answer. This Quaker School of Religion was no place to try to find something truthful in which to believe.
Like Frank, people today don't know what to believe; however, it seems like anything will do. I recently had a young church member ask me "Do Methodists believe in reincarnation?" At the time, I thought the question was appallingly naive, especially for someone who claimed to be a believer. But I realize now that this question is perfectly legitimate in light of all the false teaching abounding, especially in the United Methodist Church.
It's no wonder we find our church losing thousands of members weekly. In August of 1961, thirty-six years ago, Redbook Magazine conducted a survey in our seminaries, which were preparing men and women for Messiahian service in the mainline Protestant churches.
Of the ministers in training,
Today, these same seminary students are our elder statesmen in the church: our bishops, our seminary professors, our leading pastors, our church legislators, our prominent lay people.
In the last thirty years, their lack of belief in the fundamentals of our faith has 'trickled down' to their students and church people, and has filtered out into the minds and ethics of the American people. I believe that the evil our country is joyfully experiencing can be traced directly back to the religious training grounds of our church elders. It's interesting to note that, at Annual Conference this year, the retired bishop who spoke about his 'career in ministry' kept going back to the same regret - "If I had it to do all over, I would have done it differently."
Because of the vacuum of belief in the church, outside we find spiritual confusion and moral depravity. When prominent and highly respected United Methodists like Joycelyn Elders, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and many of our bishops, promote their questionable values from the public pulpit -- such as the 'you-know-what' lifestyle, so-called "safe 'you-know-what'," outcome-based education, and psychic channeling, we need not wonder why the children of light are leaving our church in droves.
(By the way, despite their anti-biblical views, Mrs. Clinton was the keynote speaker at the 1996 UM General Conference in Denver and Mrs. Elders recently won the coveted Scarritt-Bennett Award for outstanding service to our country.)
Since there seems to no longer be any theological or moral absolutes in this country -- no 'compass' by which to set our courses -- everybody has become a compass unto themselves. Everyone is an expert in how they ought to act and what they ought to believe. And each person has set their own spiritual standards based mainly on personal comfort level rather than YHWH's Word.
One well-known sociologist has declared that the primary faith in America is "Me-ism," for whoever 'me' happens to be. Although it has many names, "Me-ism" in any form is antichristianity - a spiritual condition in which religious leaders would rather tolerate evil than expose it.
John and the 'Secret Knowledge' Movement
The Beloved John was battling the same "me-ism" in the early church -- many had fallen away from the faith "once delivered to the saints" to form new religious movements based NOT on the teaching of the Yahshua to whom John had personally witnessed and testified, but some other Yahshua conveniently dreamed up. John called these people "antichrists," meaning "those who oppose the true messiah."
John suggests that today we're experiencing a cosmic turning-point. While we've been looking for The Antichrist to come as an evil world leader, we've not detected the many antichrists who have come in much less threatening and recognizable ways than we've expected. Antichrists come forth all the time -- from within the church, from its fringe groups, and from outside its walls.
John had to deal with his own version of "Me-ism" -- or what we now call the "New Age Movement." In his day, it was called the "Secret Knowledge Cult" (gnosticism). A generation ago, we really didn't know much about the "Secret Knowledge Cult" except what John describes about it - that its teachers taught that Yahshua was not a man at all, and certainly didn't die on a cross. His flesh and bones were an illusion. This Yahshua was an ascending master - something like an angel - who came to give "secret knowledge" to certain chosen ones. These antichrists left the true faith when their personal views about Messiah no longer were in line with scripture or apostolic tradition. Now these teachers were starting seminaries and churches of their own to propagate their false vision of Yahshua and their personal cult of secret knowledge.
This is about all we knew of the "Secret Knowledge Cult" until a 1900-year-old library from one of their seminaries was found in the Egyptian desert 50 years ago. Since then, the library of this cult has been translated, and its 52 'tractates' are available for anyone to read. What is astounding about these books is, though they were written 2 millennia ago, their teaching is almost identical to today's "New Age Movement." In fact, (Listen!) the New Age Movement and most mainline seminaries have embraced the ancient "Secret Knowledge Cult" as another true and valid form of Messiahianity. But John said: "from the first, they did not really belong to us."
The Creed of the Secret Knowledge Cult
What did the "Secret Knowledge Cult" believe? Well, it all depended on the false teacher. Like the New Age Movement, with its psychics and demoniacs, the teaching depended on what particular spin the false teacher came up with through his personal revelations from beyond. Generally, this is the creed of yesterday's "Secret Knowledge Cult" and today's New Age Movement:
The creed is very enticing -- especially the part about becoming gods ourselves - not so unlike what the serpent said in the garden:
No wonder the serpent figures so prominently in both the "Secret Knowledge Cult" and the "New Age Movement."
The Anointing and The Apostles' Creed
What true believers lack in secret knowledge, YHWH makes up for in 'anointing from the Set-apart Spirit,' so that we might discern truth from error. It is essential to our salvation that we know the truth, for only "the truth shall set us free."
Acknowledging the Son and the Father is a whole lot more than merely saying "Yes, I believe in God and Jesus." The Secret Knowledge Cult, the New Age Movement, seminary antichrists, false bishops, lying church legislators, prominent but deceiving lay people and devils all believe in the Son and the Father.
But what John is trying to convey is that the name of Yahshua involves a whole lot more than two syllables tripping from the tongue. The name of Yahshua encompasses a whole series of faith issues that most people -- especially youth -- know little about and care even less.
What does it mean to acknowledge the Father and his Son Yahshua? I believe that the best place to learn the truth is from the ancient formula of belief that John may have helped write. We know it. We mouth its words all the time. I'm talking about The Original Apostles' Creed.
1. I believe in YHWH the Father Almighty; (repeat)
2. Maker of heaven and earth; (repeat)
3. And in Yahshua Messiah his only Son, our Lord;
4. Who was conceived by the Set-apart Spirit, born of the Virgin Maryah;
5. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried;
6. He descended into sheol, the third day he rose again from the dead;
7. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of YHWH the Father Almighty;
8. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead;
9. I believe in the Set-apart Spirit,
9a. The holy Catholic Church;
10. The communion of saints,
Come back July 6th for the Master's Supper and we'll study communion then.
10a. the forgiveness of sins;
11. The resurrection of the body;
12. Life everlasting.
We Must Believe the Truth and Make It Known
Now we know what to believe. And we do believe, you and I. Believers must, must, must tell others if they are to avoid uncertainty on earth and eternal death. Our anointing must lead to sharing our faith.
Consider a specific illustration of the desperate need for Truth in this decaying world: today's young people, who've grown up with little teaching and no anointing:
The letter is specific, all right; but only part of the whole story. In the next 10 minutes:
These numbers have become, quite literally, an indication that youth of today (and parents) have no true compass to steer their lives by.
Youths ages 12 to 20 constitute 57 percent of all serious arrests made in America. And the problem is getting worse. Youth don't know the truth about Messiah's power to deliver. Most youths don't know Messiah at all, but they're very familiar with the practices of the New Age Movement -- it's the national religion taught in public schools. They've been taught and practice 'anything goes' - life is random - not the precious gift believers know it to be. But if our young people knew Yahshua Messiah, and if they knew what to believe, then they might become born again and have some hope, protection, and eternal future.
Fortunately, you know Messiah. And you know the truth. You've been reciting the Creed every Sunday for years. Now is the time to tell a young person (or an older person) what Messiah has done in your life, before it really is too late.
I might add that anyone who's been born again and knows the truth (and I pray you do before it's too late), will face his coming judgment in confidence and without shame. And that knowledge alone makes it all -- worth -- while.