Sunday, April 23
Hardly a Gospel
Quick to placard a recently purchased discovery that contradicts traditional truth, the National Geographic Society aired The Gospel of Judas April 9. After experts reconstructed over 1000 fragments, and with 45 lines of text still missing, NGS bought the document (which included three other apocryphal writings), banking on showing it right before Christianity's most revered celebration of Jesus' rising from the dead. What are we to think about these spurious works?
First, let's make no mistake: This is NOT a Gospel. There are only four true Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other writings have long since vanished from acceptance because they don't agree with the fundamental beliefs echoed in the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is not an unrelated collection of dissimilar opinions: It is divinely revealed, God-breathed history and doctrine, providentially preserved through the centuries. It is 66 books with a single theme - the salvation of sinners by a loving God. St. Paul says, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." I Timothy 1:15. This is the "good news" or Gospel. The Judas document says nothing of forgiveness of sins, redemption or Christ dying for sins. In fact, what it says contradicts the basic teaching of Christ and his apostles.
It claims that Jesus appeared to his disciples in the form of a child, long before he began his ministry and chose them personally. This is no where taught in God's Word.
It claims that Jesus would not be known by the people of his generation. He would only be know by secret permission after attaining a certain level of spirituality. This heretical view was called Gnosticism in the days of the early church. Gnosticism is a "mystery religion" which is "found in all religions and religious philosophies, from Upanishads to the wisdom of ancient Egypt, and from the Gathas of Zarathustra to the mystery-cults of Greece and Rome." Gnostics promised salvation through an occult knowledge of truth that they claimed was revealed to them alone.
The Judas document further claims that Judas' death was revealed to him - stoning by the other disciples. The New Testament record tells us that Judas, in a fit of remorse, hanged himself.
It claims that Jesus created angels for the purpose of instructing Judas. It also declares that angels helped create Adam and Eve. This contradicts all the biblical teaching about angels. An example is in Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation?"
It claims Jesus taught Judas to look to the stars for guidance. But astrology is specifically condemned in the Bible.
It claims Jesus viewed Judas as a great disciple because he would betray him and thereby liberate his soul from his body. This is pure Gnosticism. Jesus' own words heap judgment, not praise on this disciple. "The Son of Man indeed goes [to the cross] just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." Matthew 26:24.
The Bible goes further and places a curse on this writing and all others that contradict it. St. Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia says, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8,9.
This document wasn't written by Judas. Judas was dead when it was written. Early Church Father, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons condemned this heretical gospel by name in 180 A.D. And he had the missing 45 lines! It is by knowing the Bible that we can judge these "lost" books and documents. Unfortunately, it is those who know very little that can get "lost" by reading and believing everything but the Scriptures. God has preserved what he wants us to know. Nothing else is needed. Jesus prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them [those who believe] by Your truth. Your word is truth." John 17:17. And St. Peter's words will end our argument. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain [of Transfiguration]. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you [believers] do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophesy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophesy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:16-21
Judas was no "holy man."