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When some people say, “I am spiritual but I don’t need to attend church,” they may be relying on the teaching of Gnosticism. Gnostics say the way to God is by gaining knowledge of God without accepting Jesus Christ as God in the flesh. They say Jesus came to the earth to bring secret knowledge; but they deny the need for salvation because, to them, sin is just a lack of spiritual knowledge. The Apostle John wrote to refute this teaching. In 1 John 4, he wrote, “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God.” Gnosticism stressed the pursuit of secret knowledge. Of course, not everybody who fails to attend a local church can be labeled a Gnostic, but those who decide they can attain sufficient knowledge of God away from God’s people and God’s provisions are, in our view, making a serious mistake.

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