Gospel of Judas

Yawn…

Yet another Gnostic “gospel” has surfaced and gained immediate praise from the media. I don’t want to spend much time on it, but for the “inquiring mind” I must address this, if ever so briefly.

In brief, the “Gospel of Judas” is a pseudopygraphal, Gnostic account of the life of Jesus in which the tables are turned on the authentic rendition of the teachings of Jesus. The good guys are the bad guys, and the bad guys are…well…you guessed it—good. It was originally composed some time around the end of the second century, and discovered in the early 70’s in the Egyptian desert. After several years of trying to be sold, it finally ended up in the hands of those who would be able to fund its restoration and translation. As of this year, the translation was completed, and the entire text (of what was not damaged beyond recognition) is publicly available from National Geographic.

This particular gospel begins by letting us know that it is giving us a “secret” account of Jesus that has previously never been told. The reader then learns that only Judas, of all of the disciples, really has intimate fellowship with the Master. He is the only one truly on the “inside” of Jesus’s agenda. As a matter of fact, at the onset of the narrative, he is told to remove himself from the others, because he alone is on the path to enlightenment. Several other amusing tales are told, such as Jesus often appearing to them in different form—a little child.

In conclusion, there are sure-fire ways to know whether this “gospel” has any credibility or not. The first of which is if it has the word “Gnostic” or “secret knowledge” tied to it in any shape, form or fashion, then it’s bogus. The Gnostic teachings that spread rampantly in the early second century forward ruthlessly attempt to strip Jesus from his Jewish context. If this were the case, he would definitely not be the Messiah. The second is its lateness in composition. The mere fact that it was composed so late, tells us that this could not be an eyewitness account, nor transmit accurate information from the time of Jesus. While the Gospel of Judas might be great for Hollywood, it’s only bird cage liner for true followers of the Master.

For further study, check out the following resources:

The Gospel of Judas and the Da Vinci Code
An audio teaching by Daniel Lancaster of Beth Immanuel (and FFOZ).

National Geographic
Read all of the details of the discovery, the timeline of the events related to the Gospel of Judas in conjunction to the events of Church history, and even download the text of the Gospel of Judas in PDF format.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Please take time out of your schedule to remember, to pray, and to resolve you will actively be a part to ensure this will never happen again.

Forgetfulness leads to exile, but in remembrance lies the key to redemption.

Pirkei Avot – Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Simon the Just was of the remnants of the Great Assembly. He used to say: On three things the world stands: on the Torah (תורה), on the (Temple?) Service (עבודה), and on Deeds of Loving-Kindness (גמילות חסדים).

I’ve read these words many times over the last few years, and each time I read them something new comes to mind. Most recently, my thoughts were turned to the words of the Master when he was asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” His answer actually included three commandments:

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ‘There is no commandment greater than these.”

From my perspective, this has the same melody as “On three things the world stands…” We have the same basic components. Let’s examine them.

On the Torah / Shema Israel

Although these phrases don’t sound anything alike, they both put forth the same premise: the Torah and the principles contained therein are the foundations of everything. How else would we know about the monotheistic pillar of our faith that there is only one God? It is through the Torah. Shema Israel! We must hear the Torah in order to be obedient to the voice of Hashem. Devarim 5:1 tells us:

Hear1, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn2 them and be sure to follow3 them.

We must first 1) hear Torah (i.e. study) in order to 2) learn the ways of Hashem, and thus 3) follow them. But from there, what are we required?

On the Service / And You Shall Love the Lord Your God

As is commonly known, there are two categories into which all of the commandments fall. There are commandments that have their root in the relationship between the Almighty and mankind (what we might term as our “vertical” relationship), and then those which have their root in the relationship of mankind with mankind (what we might term as our “horizontal” relationship). Both of these statements deal with our “horizontal” relationship. The world cannot stand without its connection to the Almighty.

In Simon the Just’s comment, he merely names avodah (service) as the second item on which the world “stands”. But what is our “service” to Hashem?

Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? (Devarim 10:12-13)

And again in the Apostolic Scriptures we have this instruction:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. (Romans 12:1)

We are not only to say we love Hashem, or even feel we love Him. We are to love Him with our entire lives, which is displayed by our avodah–service (i.e…works… doh!).

On Acts of Loving-Kindness /
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

This is the third principle in both accounts: To love and serve others. When we invest our time and our stuff into others, rather than ourselves we will find that Hashem is glorified, we are changed, and others are blessed. How is your world holding up?

FFOZ Seminar: Knocking on Heaven’s Gates

Knocking on Heavens GatesBoaz Michael, President and Founder of First Fruits of Zion will be speaking in Central Arkansas. His topic is “Knocking on Heaven’s Gates: Discovering the Appointed Time of Prayer.” This is a FREE event, and open to the public.

Event Description

A fascinating teaching seminar that explores the Scriptures, reexamining them from an historical and biblical perspective, for a fresh understanding of prayer. Prayer is often misunderstood. Too often we have simply assumed that the ordinary model of prayer we hear around us is biblically normal. We are excited to share with you some of the ancient rhythms of prayer we have rediscovered—a rich biblical understanding with practical application that will transform your prayer life and help you to connect with God daily in a significant and transforming way.

Everyone will leave educated, encouraged and challenged to rise to a new life of fervent prayer.

  • Learn practical ways to fulfill Paul’s injunction to,“pray without ceasing” and to “pray with understanding”
  • Discover how you can participate in the daily moed—an appointed time of prayer
  • Understand prayer as a “Service of the Heart”
  • See how prayer assists in the process of renewing one’s mind
  • Be in one accord, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer.” (Acts 1:14)

Date and Time

Sunday, May 21st, 2006
6:00pm – 9:00pm.

Location

We will be meeting at the Burns Park Hospitality House in North Little Rock. Take I-40 to North Little Rock, Exit 150. Follow the map (download the map here) through the park on Military Road to Joe K. Poch Drive. Turn left on Joe K. Poch Drive; the Hospitality House driveway is the next right.

Please download a flier in PDF format (Acrobat Reader) and help spread the word throughout Central Arkansas.