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Some cultic movements are subtle in nature and it will take a person with a keen spiritual eye to detect them. However others can easily be recognized. It is also important to realize that cults can slowly drift away from mainstream churches and mutate into smaller units as they draw further and further away from the authority of God's word. Here are some features that may be useful in identifying cults and neo-cultic movements. First, most cults reject or debase the divinity of Jesus Christ as God. The Gnostics were identified by this attribute (see 1 John 4:1-7).This feature is common among cults such as Jehovah's Witnesses who do not recognize that Jesus is the Second Person of the trinity and in fact totally reject the Trinitarian revelation of God in Scripture. They deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit whom they refer to as "a force". Once a group is identified with this set of teaching, it automatically qualifies as a cultic movement. Paul was attacking the gnostic tendencies in his teachings in Colossians 1-2. Gnostics openly rejected the deity of Jesus because they believe that it was impossible for Jesus to have come as God incarnate. The second attribute of a cultic movement is that they reject or openly contradict the fundamental teachings of Scripture and substitute them with their own set of teachings. It is common to find them using literature written by their leader or "prophet" who they believe to have heard from God. The leader's word is law and any dissent is vehemently crushed. Paul warned Timothy of a pair of leaders who fell away from the church (1 Timothy 1:20). While it is not explicitly clear from this scripture what these leaders had done, we can learn from 2 Timothy 2:17-18 that they were heretics who taught that the resurrection had already taken place. Paul excommunicated them from the fellowship of the church in order to teach them a lesson. This was also meant to serve as a warning that heresy and false teachings would not be tolerated. Many cultic and neo-cultic teachers reject church discipline and refuse biblical correction when offered. They are self conceited. Thirdly, the group claims exclusive revelation from God. Several cults mistakenly believe that they are the only true way to God. This teaching violates John 14:6 and other relevant passages of Scripture. The cult leader would adopt the "them versus us" mentality. One leading cultic movement in Kenya is led by a man who claims to have heard from God and rarely uses the Bible to teach. The man dismisses mainstream churches as lost and his followers unquestioningly obey his word which is law to them. The congregations listen to his recorded teachings each Sunday as their main sermons and keenly follow his messages on his radio broadcast. The fourth attribute is that cults often exalt their leaders to levels where they are perceived to be equal to, if not above Christ. These leaders demand absolute loyalty from the followers who they will brainwash and control through fear coercion, and manipulation. The leader cannot be corrected for error and has no succession plan in the ministry because everything revolves around him. The cult members depend on his twisted teaching rather than the revelation of Scripture. It is instructive that once a Christian community fails to submit to the authority of Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit, it begins to drift away into heresy and apostasy. The truth is that the word of God must remain the supreme voice that speaks to our circumstances of life, corrects our failings and directs our pilgrimage. No man or leader can ever take the place of Christ in His church and no literature however finely written can oust the authority of Scripture
John 14:6 6.) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. What is a cult? Cult: 1.) A distortion of biblical Christianity and/or a rejection of the historic teachings of the christian church. 2.) A group of people polarized around someone's inerpret- ation of the bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Je- sus Christ. What are the signs of a cult? 1.) It will never teach or preach the gospel message of the bible. What is the gospel message? 1 Corinthians 2:2 2.) For I determined to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. The gospel message revolves around Jesus and His finished work on the Cross. Jesus came to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 The sin offering mentioned in the bible (Exodus 29:36, Leviti- cus 4:1-5) point the way to Jesus and the finished work on the Cross. 2.) Something will always be added to believing in the finished work of Jesus. We're saved by grace through faith. It's the gift of God. It's not of works lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 John 6:29 tells us the work we're supposed to do. The work is to believe in Jesus and His once and for all sacrifice for us on the Cross. 3.) A nonbiblical source of authority. John 17:17 17.) Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. Psalm 119:105
How do we contend for the faith, and keep from false teachers. Matthew 7:15-23 tells us how to tell them by their fruit. A bad tree can not bring forth good fruit. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. Jesus says by their fruit ye shall know them. Galatians 1:8-9 also Paul tells us that those that are preaching another gospel, or a perverted gospel, are accursed. Then Jesus goes on to say, Not every one that saith unto me Lord Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but He that doeth the will of my father. What is the will of the Father? John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent me, that EVERYONE who seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise Him up on the last day. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out demons? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity. These men are devoid of the truth of the gospel and preach we can be saved by works. They are preaching another gospel. There is only one gospel. First Corinthians 15:1-4 That Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that He was buried, and rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures. Every one who believes that Jesus did it just for them personally will be saved. John 10:28 And I give them ETERNAL LIFE (it is Jesus who gives eternal life to those that trust that He is the only way to be saved.) and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Any preacher that says their is any other way to be saved, than total belief in Jesus as the only way, is a false teacher.There is only one gospel, and it gives all the glory to God for saving sinners. Those that say you can be saved by works, or making yourself righteous, is a false teacher and is under the anathema of God. Who are the enemies of he cross? Those that believe another gospel. False teachers explain the gospel away. If we add one thing to what Jesus did to save sinners, then we have perverted the gospel. He is the savior, we are the sinners He came to save. We are not the savior, He is. We do not go to heaven because we are righteous, we go to heaven because we have His righteousness, in us by faith in Christ alone. False teachers will not enter in by faith alone, and they will not let you enter in either. Romans 11:6 Salvation is all grace, what Jesus did for us, not works, what we do to make ourselves acceptable to God in the flesh. It can not be both. It is all grace, what Jesus did for us. We have nothing to boast in because we did noting for it. True believers know they have eternal life because it depends on Jesus and not on us.
A cult is a movement or group of people whose activities are solely centred or controlled by an individual for self or ulterior ends. It is an obsessive adherence to strange teaching(s) and beliefs that cannot be questioned. That is why we have churches in every corner but there is much rot and decay of highest levels seen in serious moral and social problems, breakdown of families, corruption, high levels of crime and rebellion all around.
I grew up in a cult of Christianity called the Worldwide Church of God founded by Herbert W Armstrong. HWA was basically a plagiarist and borrowed from Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and Judaism to create his own brand of works based religion. Before he found religion he was a failed salesman but could write advertisements to lure people to buy product. So he carried that gimmick over into writing booklets on biblical topics which he pitched to baited audiences to grow his religious empire. He got on the radio in 1934 and that's when the church he founded began. Originally, it was called the Radio Church of God. He also bought into and sold to his listeners the false belief system of British Israelism which is built on another false concept of the lost Ten Tribes of Israel. Great Britain and United States of America are supposedly the Ephraim and Manasseh of scripture. Fascinating, but not true. So what is a Cult? Any form of belief that does not base its beliefs upon Jesus Christ as the foundation, the chief cornerstone to which one builds faith from trusting in the finished work of Christ. Any teaching that says salvation is not based upon grace through faith as a free gift of God. In other words Jesus plus [ fill in the blank]. For us, growing up it was Sabbath and holy day observances (Lev 23). And finally, any group that denies the Godhead as one God in three person's, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, blessed Trinity. Armstrong denied the Trinity and taught it was pagan doctrine. No doubt he stole that lie from the JW's who got it from the Devil. Well, I know many books have been written on the Cults but this is my own personal experience I wanted to share. A final thought, before HWA died in 1986 he appointed Joseph Teach to carry on the work of the church. As a beautiful work of transformation and divinely led by the Holy Spirit, over the following decade the light of God was shed on this man and his duly appointed Elders to see the errors and heresy of what is now known as Armstrongism and one by one they began to scrap, dismantle and reject the aberrant teachings of their Founder and false apostle and align the church with Orthodox Christianity. They now go by the name Grace Communion International. I was born again during this movement in the Fall of 1993 and it has been an amazing journey to be sure. There is a video on YouTube entitled Called to be Free that documents this transformation. https://youtu.be/LWAtvE1xiRk Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armstrongism
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