Click HERE or scroll down to go to the list of marks.
False religion is man-made. True religion is God-made. One is a cult, and the other is true reverence of God. One dresses and glorifies the old nature. The other is a change of nature for the better. One is the righteousness of man. The other is the righteousness of God. In and of himself, no man does good. Only God is good (Matthew 19:17).
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does Jehovah require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Just what IS a “cult”? As the saying goes, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.” Who can decide what is a cult? Who is qualified to judge? Can we have a true and objective definition?
In the first half of this writing, Victor will give the true definition of a cult, by which you will be able to identify who really is a cult, without doubt or reliance on subjective guessing and labeling. You will see where the shoe fits and who is wearing it.
In the professing Christian world, many attempt to provide identifying marks of a cult. Yet the criteria are vague and virtually impossible to apply without throwing out the good with the bad, or simply keeping the bad. Paul will demonstrate in the second half of this writing how that which the Lord commends is condemned by the prevailing definitions of cults, using an example from the Christian Research Institute (Hank Hanegraaff). In this example you will see that their marks attributed to a cult can apply to, and most aptly describe, the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles.
That should be no surprise, as from the very beginning, men (particularly the religious) called the work of God a “cult”:
“But we think it right to hear from you what you think. For truly as concerning this sect [cult], it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22).
Let it be known that the true marks of a cult that are illustrated and illuminated in this document constitute the mark and number of the beast spoken of in Revelation. Those who do not consent to receive these marks on their heads (in their minds) or in their hands (in their works) cannot “buy” or “sell” amongst men. They will not be approved by men’s religious systems, as John the Baptist was not in his day. But if they continue to follow the Lord without the camp, they will be approved by God, being sealed with His Name, and walking in His ways.
Victor defines a cult and describes the true characteristics of one:
It is true that the definition of a cult depends on the one defining. It is also true that almost all definitions are prejudiced, partisan, bigoted, contradictory, ignorant, erroneous, justifiably debatable, and therefore potentially harmful to the innocent. And it is true that those who take it upon themselves to define a cult, as they see it from their own religious perspective, are guilty of slander, defamation of character, potential harm to saints of God, and blasphemy against God. Until now, I have yet to see a definition that does not have the characteristics just mentioned.
I hereby present a practical and truthful definition, and name the primary true marks of a cult as it commonly exists, not according to opinion, tradition, religious bias, philosophy or any other thing, but according to Jesus Christ/Yahshuah HaMashiach and Holy Scripture.
Let us give a valid definition to the word “cult.” Firstly, while there are cults of many social and religious persuasions, let us limit our scope, for the intent and purpose of this discussion, and address only those within the context of nominal Christendom. Therefore, let us agree that a cult is:
“An identifiable group, which, while professing Christianity or faith in Jesus Christ, is contrary, intentionally or otherwise, to true Christianity.”
That is the way the word is commonly used in our society, is it not? Whenever one calls some group, such as the Moonies, a cult, for example, one is not praising, but rather condemning, that group. Our definition has been used rightly and wrongly. It has been used against us. That is because the characteristics most often described are general and subjective. However, when we present the true marks of a cult, there ought to be a clear record, accepted or not, of just who or what is, and is not, a cult.
Therefore, it is my pleasure and blessedness of God, by His grace and revelation, to present simple and unmistakable, yet commonly unrecognized Scriptural marks of a cult as we have defined it. Here are some true marks of a “cult” that the reader will not be able to identify with Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul and true Christian disciples and believers anywhere at any time, simply because Jesus and His disciples were true, did not have these marks, and furthermore, their lifestyles were contrary to these marks. Some cults will have many of these marks, others fewer, but cults will have at least one or more.
The fruit ought to be recognizable, but how? What is it? Jesus said:
“Go in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go in through it. Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way, which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruits, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:13-20).
Additional Considerations: We do not include herein the blatant characteristics of evil practised as legitimate acts of worship and obedience to God. Many are those miscreants that have given themselves over to the lusts of the flesh, adultery, fornication, sexual orgies, Satan worship, carrying arms for warfare and self defence in the Name of God, drugs, racism, homosexuality, entrapment, hoarding supplies, deception, and innumerable other evils. Jim Jones and Koresh could be examples.
No, our purpose here is to identify the subtler, more prominent, deceptive, and therefore the more dangerous and damaging, culprits. While Koresh and Jones killed hundreds physically, we see millions dying and dead every day, spiritually. We will identify the false religion parading as the true, that which, for the most part, is socially accepted by the world, even considered godly, yet which can be easily identified as false according to the clear teachings of Scripture and the example of Jesus Christ and Paul the apostle, along with all true believers who worship the Heavenly Father in spirit and in truth.
The warmth and friendliness, the formal manmade orderliness, and the formulation of truth and of ways of worshiping God are all the ways of Satan, “savoring the things that are of men.” These may seem spiritually beneficial, edifying, moving and enjoyable, even godly. However, as with the proverbial frog in the comfortably warm water, death is sure if one remains “soaking these things up.” They have their sure and destructive effects, in little time. Reality is gradually displaced by religion, which parades as true worship. Worship of the worship of God is the subtlest of counterfeits. Worshiping God man’s way is abomination to Him. It should be understandable that He would hate it with a passion. Would you not be vexed if your children or servants or employees continually came to you, not in truth and sincerity, but as sycophants, seeking to please and to flatter, only because they wanted things from you? Would you not rather be loved by them? So it is with God.
It must also be made clear that many cults will have some legitimate characteristics. For examples, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate pagan festivities, Catholics declare that Jesus Christ is Divine, and Seventh Day Adventists preach God’s designated day of the week as the Sabbath. Let us not be deceived by those who have some legitimate, or apparently legitimate, characteristics. Their error more than “compensates” for the truths they hold. A drop of poison in a glass of pure water is sufficient to kill. Let us determine marks of a cult according to the Life and Words of Jesus Christ, and beware, lest partaking, we are ensnared and surely destroyed.
- Official Names
- Money Solicitation
- Government Registration
- Depending on Orthodox Doctrine
- Doctrine of Eternal Torment
- Formal Doctrinal Platforms
- Formality, Ceremony, and Ritual
- Sacred Buildings
- Emphasis on Externals
- Using Images and Icons
- Hirelings for Leaders
- Being the Many
- Easy for Anyone to Join
- Mind Control
- Censorship of External Teachings
- Keeping Jewish Tradition and Religion
- Keeping Pagan Festivals
- Lack of Reason and Practicality
- Dichotomous Lives
- Ashamed of Jesus Christ
- Books Equally Esteemed with the Bible
- Denying the Old or the New Testament
- Worshiping the Bible
- Healing Services
- Specialized Outreach Ministries
- Denying the Divinity of Jesus Christ
- Claiming to Be Jesus Christ Himself
- Persons Worshiped, Revered, and Prayed To
- Reference to the “Church Fathers”
- Denying the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
- Denying Believers Hearing the Voice of God
- Who Persecutes Whom?
Cults have a formal and official name that identifies them with the world, and which presumes to have a handle on the truth, such as CRI (Christian Research Institute) or “The Church of Christ” or “The Church of God” or ANY of the names one finds on a “Christian” denomination or organization. These are the “names of blasphemies” mentioned in Revelation 17:3. Jesus and His disciples had and have no denominational, organizational or formal name.
Think about it, reader. Let’s try a few of these names and consider the implications:
Let us start with “First Baptist.” What is this about being first? Is this not the spirit of the world? Is this not a name of blasphemy? While it displays superiority, or a special quality like, “We are the original,” it does so in the Name of Jesus Christ, Who said, “If any among you will be great (or first), let him be your servant (or last).” Did He say, “If any of you will be great, let him be ‘first’?”
And upon what is their emphasis? Water baptism! As if water baptism was the big message! How erroneous and misleading! What did Paul the apostle have to say about water baptism? Here it is:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).
Let’s try another name. Any name will do. They all have the substance of error and falsehood. Let’s try “The Holy Roman Catholic (universal) Church.” What are they saying? Are they “holy”? Have you red the newspapers or watched the news lately? Have you studied the history of this organization? In any event, by calling themselves by this name, they are in effect saying, “We are THE Church, THE Body of Christ. We are holy.” So what if one is not Catholic? That must necessarily mean that one is not a member of the Body of Christ because one is not a member of “the Holy, Roman, Catholic Church.” Without saying so, they imply that any person outside of their organization is lost, or not in the fold of Christ. That goes for all those names, be it the “Church of the Nazarene,” or “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” or any other. To take on a name is to say, “We are special. We stand out in this world as Christ’s or God’s true servants, or representatives, or children.” Is that not what they are saying? Did Jesus do any such thing? Not at all. Nor do any who are truly His.
There are those who say they follow Luther (Lutherans), those who follow Calvin (Calvinists), those who follow Menno Simons (Mennonites), those who follow Jacob Huter (Hutterites), and the list goes on. The apostle Paul had this and much more to say about names:
“For you are yet carnal. For in that there is among you envyings and strife and divisions, are you not carnal, and do you not walk according to men? For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:3-4)
All these cults I name claim to believe and to teach and preach from the Bible, yet many simple words and plain messages from it have no effect on them, such as the one just quoted. Cults keep right on marching their preferred ways, determined to have a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. Cults are man-made, and not the work of God. If of God, would they walk contrarily to Him?
Cults ask for money to support them. Some have bake sales, some bingo games, some sell books and tapes (so-called Christian literature, music and paraphernalia), selling their doctrines, religious philosophy and practice in the name of Jesus Christ and Christian ministry. Some blatantly beg for it, as do television and “crusade” evangelists and “healers.” Jesus and His disciples never asked for, or taught others to ask for, money. No true believers ask for money to support their ministry or anything else. Their trust for provision and pay is not in men but in God, Who directs their work. Those plying money out of people “for the work of God” are charlatans. They are thieves and liars.
Cults register with the government for tax exemption and license as a religious organization. The primary reason they do so is financial. They want to encourage people to support them. If donations are tax deductible, people, especially the rich, are more inclined to give. Furthermore, who would not want a tax-exempt business? Many churches accumulate wealth with tax-exemption. It is all about mammon.
Licensing? Imagine that! Christians needing authority from the unbelieving world to speak the truth, to preach the gospel, or to officially and publicly worship God! Can you imagine Jesus Christ, Lord of lords and King of kings, registering His Church with the government so that He would be permitted to preach repentance to all, and to lay down His life for mankind? Did Jesus need a license from Pilate, to be slain by him? Can anyone in truth conceive of Christians registering for the right to do these things? Cults conceive such a notion, preach and live it, because they have little if anything to do with the Lord Jesus Christ as they profess. They show themselves to be of the world in their ways and thoughts.
Millions who profess faith in Christ have their faith not in Christ Himself, though they say so, but in doctrines they claim to be Christian and Biblical. They believe these doctrines because the majority of professing Christians do and have done so for many centuries. The older something is, the more legitimate and authoritative it will seem to the world, to carnal man. Their faith rests on size, age, popularity and anything else other than the Person of Jesus Christ. That is not to say that truth is new. Truth always was, and always will be.
The doctrine of eternal torment is a prevalent one for most Christian cults. A more hideous character-assassinating teaching of the God of love cannot be invented or imagined. It is the worst of the worst. Cults believe it and preach it to gain power over souls and to experience, in imagination at least, some pleasure at the suffering of those who don’t see things as they do. It is a form of personal, private, imaginary revenge, a bloodthirsty vengeance that is bereft of mercy and conscience. Cults use fear to win converts to the God of love. How ironic! How demonic!
Many will take various passages and interpret them to say that Jesus and His disciples preached such demonic claptrap. They never did, and never would or could. It is contrary to all of creation and to the Creator. One can read The Restitution of All Things section on our site regarding this matter.
Cults have a formal “statement of faith.” To them it is not about life, or about walking with God and worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. It is rather about doctrine and religious, formal conduct. They say they must identify and define their faith. That is an unholy argument, born out of the reasonings of men. The Pharisees had doctrine, and it was true in many points, yet they were a “church” that crucified the Lord.
Did Jesus say, “You must believe in water baptism by immersion in order to be saved”? or “You must be a member of this local congregation in good standing to be pleasing to God”? or “You must use the proper name for God (YHWH) if you are to be in favor with God”? Did He say, “You must believe this, and this, and this…to be right”? No, not at all. Men have said all these things. Cults say them. The true ones of God do not. Jesus said that the work of God was to believe on HIM, to fear God, and to keep His commandments, by a new birth.
That is not to say that there are not true and necessary doctrines. It is to say that faith does not come by an intellectual, though sincere, acknowledgment or verbal confession of certain doctrines. Most denominations function this way. The Pharisees and Sadducees, two prevalent cults of the Lord’s day in the flesh, had right doctrines (particularly the Pharisees). Did they have faith? They were condemning the Lord and His followers as “a cult.” Why? Because Jesus and His disciples spoke the truth, testified against the world, and did not fit into the many doctrinal molds that cults manufacture to make God in their own image for their selfish purposes.
Cults place an emphasis on the formal observance of religious ceremonies, rituals, formalities and “services.” Some do it once a week, some twice, some every day, and some several times a day. Formality is a vivid demonstration of man’s righteousness. One did not find formality with the Lord Jesus Christ or with any walking by faith and led by the Spirit. While they met, prayed, worshiped, baptized, and preached, they did not indulge in, or promote it. Indulgence and promotion in formality is a telltale mark of Satan’s ways, which men savor, but which are an offense to the Lord Jesus Christ. He said that those born of the Spirit are as the wind. One cannot tell where they come from or where they are going (John 3). Paul says that those led of the Spirit are the sons of God. Formal services with predictable schedules are not the leading of God at all, but the leadings and power controls of men.
Many would argue that the Lord instituted “The Lord’s Supper” (defining it in their own terms). He did no such thing. Many imitate the one-time foot-washing parable the Lord demonstrated to His disciples, and have made a ceremony of it. They only demonstrate that they savor the things of men. The things of men are the things of cults, and the things of cults, the things of men.
Sacred buildings, called “churches,” are important to cults, and at or near the top of their list of priorities. They call such a building “the house of God,” a “sanctuary,” “temple,” “shrine,” “tabernacle,” or a “church.” With these, they have “sacred” furniture and furnishings, such as altars, statues, pictures, pulpits, pews, paraphernalia for “The Lord’s Supper,” crosses, steeples, arched doors, vestments for clergy, choirs, and other participants in religious roles and exercises, other religious objects and accoutrements. One will find none of these things identified with the Lord and His disciples. While His disciples take up the spiritual cross of death to this world and to self, in spiritual reality, cults manufacture, garnish and worship physical crosses, the works of their own hands, thinking to please God.
It is true that Jesus and His disciples went to synagogues and to the Temple. That is because the people were there, to whom they were sent to speak, and the Temple was still in force under God. They did not erect their own buildings as places of “sacred worship.” When the disciples came to Jesus, remarking on the greatness of the Temple architecture, Jesus prophesied its destruction, emphasizing that faith, truth and godliness are not about the external but the internal.
Cults place an emphasis or value on various externals, such as clothing, hair length, communal living, beards, and religious articles to be worn on their person, such as crosses on their necks and lapels. To many, formal dress is important on regular “worship” days. What does this do to or for those who can’t afford to dress that way? How welcome are they, whether by the congregants or in themselves?
While Jesus certainly would have encouraged proper etiquette and appearance, He did not cause everyone to be formal, to dress the same, or to get technical and nitpicky, as one will see with the Pharisees, Hutterites, Mennonites, Mormons, many Reformers, and others. These are the things of the righteousness of men, and not of God. There were those in the Lord’s day on earth who “majored on minors and minored on majors.” To them, Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and you have left undone the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith. You ought to have done these and not to leave the other undone. Blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and excess. Blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:23-28).
Truly, the Pharisees were doing some of those things that were required of God, but also had many other laws not required by Him. Now I am speaking of those who make all kinds of laws not required of God. There are many such cults, and many such laws.
While God prohibits making or having images in a context of worship, cults, as those who do their own thing outside of Him, often make or have them. Whereas these things are seen by man as godly, and indicative of piety, they are a sure sign of false religion and a continuation of pagan traditions and practices dressed up as “Christian.” These are the very things the children of Israel were told to completely destroy, a command that is indicative of how truly odious to God, and dangerous to man, these things are.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to give us life, not empty and deceptive representations. In the beginning He sent out His disciples and apostles, who, being raised as Jews and knowing the Law, did not have or use images, and likewise taught the Gentiles to abstain from the “pollution of idols.” Paul said to the men of Athens, a city full of idols (which are the product of men making God in their own image):
“Then being offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like gold or silver or stone, engraved by art and man’s imagination. Truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now He strictly commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29-30).
True faith is knowing and seeing God as He is, and not as men imagine Him to be. The latter is the works of men (cults), the paths of the destroyer. The former is the rock on which His church is built. We cover this topic in greater depth, with more explanation and practical examples, in Religious Images, Icons, and Likenesses.
Ministers and religious authorities of cults will be hired, fired and retired. They are, of course, what Jesus called “hirelings.” They are almost invariably educated and trained in “Bible schools” and seminaries. They receive papers and commendations of men, of religious organizations. They are interviewed by congregations, hired, paid a regular salary, and told what they must do and how they should shepherd the sheep. God forbid that they preach anything other than the accepted doctrine of that congregation. God forbid that they should rebuke or reprove anyone. To keep their jobs, hirelings must be politicians. They must tickle the ears and deliver eloquent defenses of the doctrine “of the faithful.” They must entertain their audiences, and be effective enough to win new souls to their fold. Otherwise, they will be fired.
Poor miserable creatures! Surely, man pleasers must have the hardest life of all people on earth. They can’t be themselves, though they make a great show of trying. They must be “all things to all men that they may win some.” (Or is it to be winsome? I think the latter.) For this, they are rewarded with Christ-forbidden titles, such as “Father” or “Reverend” or “Rabbi” or “Doctor,” and get to print letters of religious authority behind their names.
I wonder how long John the Baptist would have lasted as pastor of “First United” with these opening words to the crowd that came to be baptized by him:
“O generation of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:7-9).
Of course, being a man of God, he was prepared of God, outside official institutions of learning and “spiritual training.” He was sent of God and not of men. He condemned men’s works. Would Jesus and His disciples be for hire, be willing to take a salary, and follow the dictates of men rather than God? As it is written:
“And as He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, at the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all and did not need that anyone should testify of man. For He knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).
Did Jesus and His disciples have “credentials” from “accredited” institutions?
“And the Jews marveled, saying, How does this man (Jesus Christ) know letters, not being taught?” (John 7:15)
“And when He had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, By what authority do you do these things? And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)
You say, “But that was Jesus, the Son of God, Whom we serve! These things don’t apply to Him!” But read what Jesus said to His disciples:
“Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you” (John 20:21).
“But seeing the boldness of Peter and John, and perceiving that they were unlearned and uneducated men, they marveled. And they recognized them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Cults have not “been with Jesus.” How else could they be doing the very opposite of what Jesus and His followers did?
How well did Jesus do at His first sermon? Here is a piece of the record:
“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And, as His custom was, He went in to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16). …
“And hearing these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and thrust Him outside the city, and led Him up to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, in order to throw Him down” (Luke 4:28-29).
Read the whole passage for yourselves. So much for man pleasing.
“Cults are mults; the true are few.”
Let it be known that the words of the Lord are true, saying:
“Go in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go in through it. Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Cults are many when it comes to organizations called churches. Often there are many members within cults, and the greatest cults have the greatest numbers of members. Why is this so? It is so because cults attract those who are more interested in themselves than in God. They are more interested in social and personal benefits. They are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. As well, most members of cults are born into the “church.”
While the religious were many, powerful, and socially accepted, Jesus and His followers were few, weak in terms of this world’s strengths, and hated by the religious authorities. It is always so.
Cults almost invariably are very easy to join. All one needs to do is agree with them, dress like them, attend “services” (whatever those are), bring money, perhaps sign a membership or get water baptized, and “Voila,” they are members. Who would be refused? I know that today, I could join almost any cult I chose, of which there are thousands. Is there any doubt that Jesus and His followers could have joined the Pharisees, Sadducees, or others? But they did not do so. They were joined to no formal organization.
How easy is it, however, to join the Body of Jesus Christ, the true church? It is impossible, for this is not a work or choice of man. As it is written:
“And continuing with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they shared food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
You want mind control? Try a cult. What are the techniques? We have already mentioned many of them. Large, impressive buildings, formal services, ceremonies, titles, a form of godliness, social benefits, Sunday best dressing, and much more.
Are people “brainwashed” in these organizations? Try, just try talking to a Seventh Day Adventist and see how far you get. Try talking to a Jehovah’s Witness and see how easy it can be. Try talking to a Catholic and find how easy it is to speak the truth to them without being labeled a “Catholic basher” or a “hatemonger.” Have you ever tried talking to a Mormon? How about a “diehard Baptist,” or a “proud Anglican,” or a “righteous two-by-two”? They all have the answers…all of them, or not knowing the answers themselves, believe their church does. Once when trying to reach my father, he said to me, “I was born a Catholic, and I will DIE a Catholic!” He did.
Speaking of mind control and worship of man, try the pope. They call his hospital “Vatican III” because he spends about as much time as a patient there as at the Vatican or at his summer residence. This is the one who claims to be the sole representative of the Healer of all mankind! This is the man who claims both temporal and heavenly authority in the lives of all humankind on earth! This is the man who is supposed to represent God on earth! Try to point these things out to Catholics and you are promptly shut down and condemned.
The pope can do no wrong! If he stands, he is a hero; if he falls, he suffers so bravely. If he is well, it is because he is godly; if he is ill, how well he bears it! Many suffer every day and nobody knows it, but let the pope so much as sneeze, and all the media have it on front pages and the six o’clock news. He “forgives” his would-be assassin on public television. The Lord severely rebuked the Pharisees for those very kinds of antics. You want “hero worship” or having a “charismatic leader” or following a “man”? You have it as in no other case known on earth.
“But you must not be called Rabbi, for One is your teacher, Christ, and you are all brothers. And call no one your father on the earth, for One is your Father in Heaven. Nor be called teachers, for One is your Teacher, even Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he who shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12).
Against His very Word, priests are called “Father,” and as if this were not enough to defy the Lord Jesus Christ, the pope (which means “father”) calls himself nothing less than “The Most Holy Father”! Over a billion follow his blatant impudence against Jesus Christ, while he declares himself to be His “sole vicar” on earth. Yea, they grant him this title, gladly, that they might have him reign over them with majesty and honor among men. The powers of the mystery of iniquity and the deceivableness of sin are simply mind-boggling! Furthermore, many are the Catholics that would have my head for daring to say these things, again bearing witness against themselves as to their true source of inspiration.
Today we have homosexual Anglicans and United Church congregants and “ministers.” Do those within these organizations who disagree or disapprove leave these churches? Many do not. It is not a matter of what is right or true to them, nor is it a matter of what happens within their organization. What matters is that “they die Anglican (or United) because they were born Anglican (or United).” Their church is more important to them than God.
How is it that those who are born into a religion are invariably convinced about their religion? How is it that it does not occur to them that the same phenomenon occurs with all denominations and religious organizations? Are they all right, simply because born into their religion? You want “brainwashed”? If that isn’t “brainwashing,” then what is?
Talk to a true believer in Christ, and you will find that he or she believes, not what was taught in formal religion, but in spite of it. He or she is ALIVE, as were the Lord and His disciples in their day.
Forbidding members to read foreign literature or to be otherwise exposed to teachings of those outside their organization is a sure mark of falsehood. The leaders forbid it in the pretense of guarding their sheep from the children of Satan and darkness, who, according to them, are all those in disagreement with, or indifferent to, them.
The reality is that these people are afraid of the truth. They are not heartily confident that what they believe is the solid truth of God, though they will deny the fact ever as strongly as Peter denied the Lord. This is because they do not know Him Who is the Truth, the One Peter denied. They are found denying Him constantly, as an organizational policy and way of being. They have not been delivered of the spirit of fear.
“The wicked flee when no man pursues; but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1 MKJV).
“He who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 HNV).
So often have we encountered Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, for prominent examples, who are not prepared to listen objectively to what others have to say, though they are fully ready to declare their doctrines. Indeed, when their missionaries have come to our door and into our houses, they are only there to pitch their organization and its teachings, but never to hear and consider what the Bible actually says. At first mention of dissent according to the Scriptures from what they have been taught, they immediately look for a way to avoid the matter and move back to their doctrine, or they move on.
Is this not a sure sign of arrogance and ignorance all rolled into one? Those who know the truth are free to listen, as well as to speak. Those in truth invite those in error to speak, so that they might have the opportunity to speak the truth to those in error. To do this, they must listen and pay attention, but those in error and serving their organizations can’t even bear to listen to the truth, much less try to answer it.
Those in error are afraid to hear the truth, lest they should be further confounded. In the depth of their inner beings, they are insecure. They try their best to convince others of their sandy foundation in false doctrine, as though a convert to their organization or system of belief will somehow confirm their steps and prove them right. They rejoice when they win another soul to themselves, thinking that the more of them there are, the greater the likelihood that they are right. They place faith in numbers (which is the opposite of God’s way). Truth makes it more difficult and confusing in conscience for those who have a purpose other than knowing the truth and doing the will of God. They prefer to keep their lives in lies and illusion, in darkness, rather than lose them for Truth’s, the Lord’s, sake.
“And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices truth comes to the Light so that his works may be revealed, that they exist, having been worked in God” (John 3:19-21 MKJV).
A recent phenomenon on the religious scene is the “return to Hebraic roots,” to the “traditions of the fathers,” and to the “faith once delivered to the Jewish saints.” We have a veritable proliferation of “messianic” congregations worldwide. To varying degrees, they have an emphasis on “The Name” or “HaShem,” the Hebrew Name for the Creator, using Hebrew for key Biblical words, names, titles, religious terms and observances, feasts, and have a penchant for Jewish traditions and ceremonies. Call the Creator, “God” or His Son, “Jesus Christ” and you may as well have called Satan your loving father. To many more fanatical groups, you may as well have pulled down your pants and defecated in public. If you do not use Hebrew appellations, you are a pagan, case closed. These are cults, emphasizing externals, thinking to be God’s special, loving little children, hating anything that does not suit their concept of “G-d” or “Yahweh.” Mind you, all who trust in their own righteousness, as is the case with all cults, are no different in the end.
Jesus and His disciples did not go around despising the world, or insisting on Jewish language, customs, traditions and religious ceremony and clothing. Those kinds of legalists were His greatest vexation and enemies. His harshest words were for these He likened to vipers. They killed Him then and continue to persecute Him in His true followers today. They are the hypocrites elite, self-righteousness incarnate, presuming they serve God by glorifying themselves as worshipers. The worst of judgments are reserved for them.
Most cults flow with the world and revel with it. They celebrate and observe Sunday, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, May Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.
Would Jesus and His followers observe these things? Not at all. Many are the Scriptural testimonies to refute these events. To God it is not at all about quantity of life, but quality, though He may reward with longevity. It is not about commemorating the things of this world or life, but of setting our affections on the things above. It is not about honoring other deities, but of worshiping Him.
There is hypocrisy in cults in many respects, not the least being that there is a horrid lack of reason and practicality. They seem to think that Christianity is all about making a profession of faith in God (which, the Bible says, devils do as well), going to church, singing in the choir, dressing “appropriately,” tithing, praying and reading the Bible (sometimes). When it comes to practical matters, such as eating properly, respecting the environment, using sustainable agricultural practices, availing themselves of natural medical remedies and so many other necessary, reasonable and good things, they are, for the most part, void of understanding. Not only do they consume the poisons on the market, they produce them and profit by them. There is no recognition of God’s way of treating the earth given us as our home.
Of these is it written: “And the nations were full of wrath, and Your wrath came, and the time of the judging of the dead, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to the ones fearing Your name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth” (Revelation 11:18).
I am forever confronted with people suffering and dying of all sorts of diseases because of their ungodly lifestyles, in diet mainly, water quality, farm and garden practices, housekeeping, and more. But try to tell them. They look at you like you are from another planet. My words don’t even enter one ear, much less leave the other. They DO NOT HEAR. “We don’t believe like you do; sorry.” And they die in their sins.
Ask yourself: Would the Lord have used herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, growth hormones, artificial colorings, flavorings, antibiotics, and artificial fertilizers in agriculture and food production, killing man, beast, insect, plant and micro-organism? Would He have indulged comfortably and habitually in junk foods? Would He heal or teach to heal by radiation or chemotherapy (What an oxymoron!)? Hardly! Those who profess to worship Him do it all the time. Cults couldn’t care less about these things. Polluting food and the environment are “business as usual,” no big deal.
Read Christian Physical Diet.
Cults live two lives in many cases. They have their “religious” lives, usually on Sunday, or Saturday, and they have their “secular” lives. They have “church” and they have “business,” sacred and profane, physical and spiritual. We have been told by customers to not mix religion with our business. They want God kept out of everyday business and social matters. He doesn’t belong there. His place is strictly limited to “church.” Mention God during the week, in a business place, and you are a fanatic, a religious freak.
Jesus and His disciples lived all of life, and made no such divisions. To them all was one, under God. They spoke everywhere and addressed all issues of our existence. There was nowhere that they did not seek, and take, opportunity to preach the Kingdom of God, Who is Creator of all things. Cults have nothing to do with the One they profess to worship, nothing at all. Jesus said:
“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Luke 11:23).
This mark is related to the mark of dichotomy. However, it is quite specific and outstanding, and when one thinks about it, quite peculiar. I was raised in the Catholic Church. There was not one person in that church that would talk publicly about the Lord Jesus Christ, including myself. We were all utterly ashamed of Him. Yet we had all been “baptized” as infants, “confirmed” at about age 12, “catechized” or taught the Catholic doctrine, went to church regularly, sang in the choir, celebrated Christmas and Easter, had a church youth club, some of us served as altar boys, and some of us even attended a minor seminary. While we were afraid to mention the Lord’s Name, we were certainly not afraid to curse in His Name, or smoke or get drunk publicly, or tell dirty jokes.
The reticence to publicly proclaim His Name is a common trait of cults, though others use His Name to promote their own religious interests. Not all cults have this mark, but many do. How is it that one can go to church, which presumably is all about worshiping the Creator, yet be ashamed to even make mention of Him in “the secular” world, and even in church? How is it that people can not only remain comfortable in these churches while the ministers or priests “conduct services” and preach, but be committed and involved as well, while being ashamed of the Lord Jesus? How is it that “church-going” is an acceptable thing to the world, but openly declaring the Name of the Lord, and praising Him, is not? What does that say for these groups and institutions? It says what Jesus said of them:
“Therefore whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man shall also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
The Mormons have a complete fabrication that differs so much from the Bible both in spirit and content, except to pay lip service to principles and laws. While the Bible is a detailed testimony of the Son of God, and has a perfectly reputable and verifiable history record, with records of specific prophecies that have come to pass, the Book of Mormon has nothing, yet they give it more credibility and respect than they do the Bible. Deception, you are powerful! Yet it is God that sends strong delusion, that people should believe a lie, and when God sends delusion, who can stand or resist (2 Thessalonians 2:11)?
(Let it be said, however, that books, writings, dreams, visions, and revelations truly inspired by the Author of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, can indeed be equally esteemed with the Bible.)
There are those who say that the Old Testament is no longer relevant, that it was only for the Jews, that Jesus Christ has made us free from “the Law and the prophets.” They err. Never did Jesus or His disciples teach any such thing. On the contrary, Jesus said:
“Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
Nor does the post resurrection portion of the New Testament say any such thing. If one were to consider the New Testament, all of it is founded upon, and largely composed of, the Old. To say we no longer need the Old Testament, or that it is no longer relevant because of the New, is like saying that once a house is built, the foundation is no longer necessary. It is foolishness. The rejection of the Old Testament is the rejection of God Himself. Jesus, in quoting the Law and the prophets, quoted words of truth and eternal life, which never lose relevance. Those who know, love, believe and obey the Lord, understand.
On the other hand, there are those who, in the Name of Jesus Christ, or otherwise, reject the authority of the New Testament, some condemning Paul the apostle as a charlatan, and some or all of the books as spurious, tampered with, or not inspired by God. The New Testament’s relevance is founded upon the truth that Jesus Christ is the Messiah fulfilling the law and the prophets. It bears that record, made by men who willingly wrote it with their own blood. It is the only record available of the Lord Jesus Christ specifically, though the whole of the Old Testament points to, and writes of, Him. He is what the whole Bible is all about. Those who deny the New Testament as Scripture inspired of God deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah prophesied of in the Old Testament.
While the Bible is inspired by God, the Bible is not God. Many gather together, however, in worship of the Bible, justifying what they do based on the Bible’s divine inspiration, as if that makes the interpreters infallible. They take the position that the Bible is the ultimate authority, and, therefore, if they agree with what it says, or what they say it says, they must be right. About this we can say several things:
One, God is the Ultimate Authority, and unless He opens the eyes, a person will not see the Lord Jesus Christ – the Way, the Truth and the Life – in the Bible, His Record Book. Two, beliefs about God, even true ones such as “Jesus is Lord,” are empty and in vain unless they come from a personal knowledge of Him through the gift of repentance and the faith of Christ, Who is the Author of Scripture and by Whose Spirit we receive understanding. Three, men have no right to interpret the Bible, in other words, to add to or subtract from its words. Men’s thoughts are not God’s thoughts. The interpretation comes from the One Who inspired the words:
“Being conscious in the first place that no man by himself may give a special sense to the words of the prophets. For these words did not ever come through the impulse of men: but the prophets had them from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21 BBE).
There is no place in the congregation of the Lord, which has the true worship of God, for setting up an altar to the Bible and bowing down to it as though godly power and abilities reside in it, or, more to the point, in the one handling it. Jesus’ greatest enemies were those who did this very thing, professing to follow God yet worshipping the Bible and justifying what they did because they believed in it and requiring others to honor them on this account. Jesus addressed them as follows:
“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about Me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from Me the life you say you want” (John 5:39-40 MSG).
So how can you tell if those presumably gathered together in the Name of the Lord are looking to Him, or if they are gathered as a cult around the Bible, using it to justify doing their own thing even unbeknownst to themselves? How do you differentiate between the false and the true, since both may hold to the divine inspiration of Scripture?
The one thing you can know for sure, aside from revelation from God, is that if you see other of the marks of a cult listed here, you may know for certain that the falsehoods of the group or teacher in question are not nullified because those exhibiting the marks claim to “follow the Bible as the inspired Word of God.” In fact, making such a statement only serves to confirm that those marks tell the truth. Satan comes as an angel of light, and what qualifies him better for that position than to declare the Scriptures divine, giving him the stamp of godly authenticity? Those groups claiming to use the Bible as their God-given guide, yet walking contrary to the ways of God recorded in it, are using the authority of Scriptures in order to cover themselves in darkness, where the prince of darkness- the prince of this world – resides, and where the simple and ignorant cannot discern them or their errors. Even if they are exposed, those hiding behind the Bible claim immunity from prosecution, as with the Catholic priests who molested children.
Often these religious groups or organizations make formalized doctrinal statements of belief, with the Bible prominently accredited as the basis for their gathering together and the authority they presume to exert over their members. Here is one such example, the first point of twelve beliefs stated by The Evangelical Free Church of America:
“We believe: The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life.”
Jesus and the apostles never spoke of the Bible holding the preeminent place in the life and faith of a believer. That place is found in God and Christ alone. Those sent by God quote the Bible and use it as proof and confirmation of what they preach and do, but they never attribute to it the power to arbitrate “faith and life” because they know Him in Whom such power resides.
Men exalt the Bible to lift themselves over others, but the Bible exalts Jesus Christ to the glory of God and edification of all men.
Since when did Jesus have ANY kind of services, much less “healing services”? And when He did heal the multitudes, did He persuade them to open their wallets and purses first to support His ministry? I tell you, God is going to have His day with charlatans like Benny Hinn, as He will and already did with Oral Roberts, Peter Popoff, and so many others. These charlatans are blasphemous, and multitudes of professing believers have eaten up their lies, their false promises, giving them their riches for nothing. Their payday comes.
Do you hear that, Benny? I see you, and so does God, Whom you think does not even exist. And you have much of the Pentecostal and Charismatic world eating out of your hand! You bastard! You think God to be deceived and blind, or non-existent? Wait and see what is in store for you, you blasphemous liar and thief! They don’t come much viler than you. I expect you will have a chuckle when you read this, but wait, watch, and see if what I say is true or not. The end of your days of riding in luxury on the backs of the sick, the poor and helpless approaches swiftly. God forbid that you should go down to the grave in peace!
“I have such a burden for the youth of today” it has been said for generations. “Youth for Christ” is such a cult. True, the youth need to hear the gospel. “We need to reach students on campus,” said another, and we have “Campus Crusade for Christ” and “Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.” Yes, students need to hear the gospel. Others, like the Salvation Army, founded by William Booth, reached out to those in the slums. They need to hear the gospel as well. “Women need fellowship with each other,” it was declared, and so we have “Women’s Aglow.” Businessmen need to get together for fellowship, and so we have “The Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI)”! We need to forsake all and preach the gospel to the world, and so we have “Operation Mobilization.” There are specialized hospital ministries, ministries for the elderly, the imprisoned, the leprous, handicapped, and more. All need the gospel preached to them, but there is a difference between the works of men in God’s Name and the work of God by men.
These are all formal organizations, registered with the government, doing their own thing in the Name of Jesus Christ. David refers to all these:
“Concerning the works of men, by the Words of Your lips, I am kept from the paths of the destroyer” (Psalms 17:4).
Jesus and His disciples did not specialize in societal segments. All of life was a concern, the entire world was the focus, and that included all ages, races, both sexes, and all walks of life, rich and poor, slave or free, sick or well. All true evangelization is a work of the Spirit of God by men, and not “of men by God” (using God to do their thing).
There is one God. Jesus Christ is God presenting Himself in the flesh. He was never created. He IS THE Creator. He was not merely a prophet, or a good or wise teacher, or one enlightened or perfected in learning and character. Those who deny that Jesus Christ is God are in the greatest of error. To deny His divinity is to reject Him.
Jesus Himself did not deny His divinity. When men worshiped Him, He did not forbid them to do so. Only Divinity is worthy of worship. What man can raise himself from the dead as Jesus the Christ prophesied He would, and did? As it is recorded:
“Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jews said, This temple was forty-six years building, and will you rear it up in three days? But He spoke of the temple of His body. Therefore when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:19-22).
There are those, both men and women, who claim they are the reincarnation or physical manifestation of Jesus Christ, in and of themselves, excluding all others. This is pure anti (“instead of”) Christ. While Jesus Christ may personally appear to some, as He did with Saul of Tarsus, John the apostle, and me, for examples, there will be no doubt that He does not come again as some human being, as Sun Myung Moon, for example, claims.
NEVER have either Old or New Testaments even hinted of valid prayer to, or worship or reverence of, any person other than God Himself. Never has God in any other way instructed or encouraged any person to revere any but Him. While many Jews would say that this necessarily disqualifies Jesus Christ, they say so because they do not receive Him as The Anointed One, the Messiah, and God in the flesh. They do not disqualify Him but themselves. “He that receives you,” He said to His disciples, “receives Me, and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me.”
John the apostle, in the Book of Revelation, testifies to the wrongness of worshiping saints. He was about to worship a holy one who appeared to him. He was ordered not to do so:
“And he said to me, Write, Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See, do not do it! I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:9-10).
And: “And I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel showing me these things. Then he said to me, Behold! See, do not do it! For I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the Words of this Book. Do worship to God” (Revelation 22:8-9).
Is it difficult to determine what cult violates this sacred truth in all its ways? Yet it is impossible for this cult to admit its sin.
“Church fathers”? Just who are the “church fathers”?
Wikipedia’s definition: “A Church Father is anyone who (1) taught orthodox doctrine and learning, (2) possessed holiness of life, and (3) had a certain antiquity.” This definition, of course, is a reference to those of nominal orthodox Christendom.
Why does orthodox Christendom refer to this group of men as the foundational fathers of the church? Why aren’t the Biblical prophets or the apostles Peter, John, James, Paul, and others ever included with, or named instead of, those in the list?
Here are some who are invariably mentioned as the “church fathers” (source):
First are the three who are called the “apostolic fathers”: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. Hmmm… doesn’t it seem that one should begin with the original apostles and not the alleged successors?
Then there were those known as the “Greek fathers”: Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, and the Cappadocian fathers.
And there were the “Latin fathers”: Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Ambrose of Milan, Jerome of Stridonium, Augustine of Hippo, and Gregory the Great.
Most of these men made up the Roman Catholic Church. For example, it is claimed by the RCC that Clement was the fourth pope and bishop of Rome, with his epistle asserting Rome’s apostolic authority.
John Chrysostom authored eight sermons that promoted antisemitism and were used by Nazis in their persecution of Jews.
I have red some of Augustine’s works and have known him to not be a man of God. It is said he believed in papal supremacy. He also approved of the Apocrypha as inspired of God, to be included in the canon.
It should be, and is, perfectly plain that the Catholic Church is not the Church of Jesus Christ, never was, and never will be. As the root, so the sap, trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit, and as the fruit, so the root.
So who are these “church fathers”? They are men for whom Christ died, to be sure, for He died for all; however, they are not the capital “C” Church fathers, those forming the foundation of the True Church, the Body of Christ.
Here is the way it is: The Biblical prophets and apostles are the Church fathers, while those listed above are the lowercase “c” church fathers. There are only two churches in this world, the false one and the True One. While the false church is of this world, the True Church is the New Jerusalem come down from Heaven, composed of the true saints of God.
While the false church has earthly memberships of carnal men, the Heavenly Church is composed of those who are born again of the Spirit of God, members in particular of the Body of Christ, with Jesus Christ as Head and Chief Cornerstone.
In all fairness to some of these listed men, there must be a qualification: It is possible not all were involved in the earthly, counterfeit, carnal church any more than Peter was the first bishop and pope of Rome. We must consider that these men may be credited (or blamed) for, and included in, things with which they had little or nothing to do. It is plain, however, that some on this list were not men of God at all, like Augustine.
Here we have another true mark of that which is a cult in the sight of God. While the true believers in Christ are branded as cults by nominal Christendom, it is those who bear these marks that are the cults, in that their works, though in the Name of Jesus Christ, are not of God, but of themselves and of the evil one.
If we are speaking of the Body of Christ, the true Church, then who are the fathers? The Bible is clear on that:
Ephesians 2:19-22 MKJV
(19) Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,
(20) and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone,
(21) in Whom every building having been fitly framed together, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord;
(22) in Whom you also are built together for a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.
With Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone, the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the Body of Christ, the Church of God.
Therefore, let it be known that the usually-mentioned historical church fathers did nothing to establish the true Church of Jesus Christ, if they are even children of God.
What about the Reformers?
We can be very thankful to God that the Roman Church tyranny over the Western world was broken in the Middle Ages by those who stood up against the papacy. Let it be noted, however, that those men known as prominent reformers, primarily Martin Luther and John Calvin, were reformers of the false church, the work of men’s hands. They were not reformers of the True Church, the Body of Christ, which only God can reform (if needful), because His Church is HIS workmanship and not man’s.
Indeed, these men are primarily Catholic in doctrine, spirit, and practice. They are not men of God. Read more:
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are referred to in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, as well as recorded in action in the lives of all the saints and prophets throughout both Old and New Testaments. Those who deny the gifts of the Holy Spirit as valid today deny the Holy Spirit Himself, Who is the Lord Jesus Christ, and God.
All the gifts were present and active in the lives of the Lord and all those who came after Him. There are no Biblical or spiritual grounds for believing or teaching that the gifts are no longer, and that any gifts manifest today are therefore “of the devil.” Those condemning the legitimate gifts (there are counterfeit gifts as well) blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, and for that, there is no forgiveness in this world or in the world to come.
Most cults do not believe that each and every believer hears the Voice of God, personally and directly. That is because they do not know the Great Shepherd and He does not know them. A stranger’s voice they will hear and follow, as they are themselves strangers to the Voice of God. The usual argument is that we have the complete Bible today so we no longer need the gifts or to hear God’s Voice. CRI is one such cult, a people who have nothing of God whatsoever, except His wrath upon them.
Cults who deny hearing the Voice of God often claim to believe the Bible and to preach only that which is found in the Bible. Yet we have shown that CRI, for example, makes assertions that are purely opinion, without Biblical basis whatsoever. Truly, they condemn the Lord Jesus Christ and those that are His. Tell me, anyone, where in the Bible it says that hearing the Voice of God apart from the Bible is not for today. The Bible itself is a composite record of God speaking to each and every believer. How ludicrous to make such a denial and claim to preach from and only from the Bible as the “final source of authority”! These are liars and hypocrites, whose damnation does not linger but which is just. Of them is it written:
“For men will be self-lovers, money-lovers, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unyielding, false accusers, without self-control, savage, despisers of good, traitors, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; even turn away from these” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
There they are. These are the main and more obvious marks of a cult. There are many other errors and false doctrines that could serve as marks but many of those will begin to enter the arena of opinion and debate. Nor is it true that true believers have learned all the right doctrines or shed all the false ones at one time. Our purpose here has been to contrast the teachings and practices of cults to the clear example and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Bible when taken in full context. Let those who deny these things go their way and suffer according to these words by John:
“For I testify together to everyone who hears the Words of the prophecy of this Book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add on him the plagues that have been written in this Book. And if anyone takes away from the Words of the Book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which have been written in this Book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
The children of God never persecute anyone, but are ever persecuted, one way or another. Cults, in the main, according to our definition, are seldom despised or ostracized by society. They flow with the world. They are accepted, recognized, tolerated, respected, praised, and included in many respects. That is because they ARE the world, religiously and otherwise. Cults, however, often indulge in persecution of the righteous. They hate true believers, if ever so politely, because true believers are a testimony against them, their worldliness and hypocrisy.
While Jesus spoke against cults, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, He and His followers persecuted nobody because of religious error or difference. It never entered their minds, but if it did, Jesus was prompt in condemning the thought. “If they strike you on the one cheek, turn the other,” He said. Jesus rebuked those who suggested calling down fire from heaven upon unbelieving people unreceptive to them. If His followers were rejected, He instructed them to turn away and go elsewhere. To those who took up the sword, He declared, “They that live by the sword, die by the sword.” Some prominent cults have been known to persecute to the death, slaughtering many thousands. History makes no secret of the fact that the Catholic Church, Calvinists, Lutherans, the Church of England, and others have much blood on their hands.
Note: While I acknowledge that throughout all history there also have been cults persecuted, one would be hard-pressed to find genuine believers persecuting anyone. I know of no examples, Biblically, historically, or personally.
In closing of these true marks of a cult, here are some Scriptures for those who desire to worship God in spirit and in truth:
“And what agreement does a temple of God have with idols? For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord, and do not touch the unclean thing. And I will receive you and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18).
And: “Therefore Jesus also, so that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:12-14).
We know whereof we speak. I would like to close with these words from the beloved apostle John:
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us. The one who is not of God does not hear us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).
CRI: One of the most devastating experiences someone could face is to have a loved one involved in a cult.
Paul: Are we to conclude, because a family is devastated, that their “loved one” is involved with a cult? Jesus, Who came to do good (and did it), said that He came to bring “devastating experiences” to families. He declared:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-36).
Clearly Jesus Christ not only spoke of loved ones being divided, but claimed that He is directly responsible for doing such things. He is therefore suspect as a cult according to the alarm sounded here.
Furthermore, we see evidence that Jesus’ own family was disturbed after He began to publicly speak from God. They basically said, “He is out of His mind” (Mark 3:21). They went to see if they could talk to Him. Meanwhile crowds of people were following Him.
Was His family able to put their concerns about His “cult” to rest? Not inasmuch as Jesus continued with His focus on His heavenly calling and appointment in Jerusalem. He answered this to those who told Him that His family stood outside wanting to see Him:
“My mother and My brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21).
This happened in a family where the mother believed, or had a measure of faith. What do you think would or could happen with families that do not have any faith regarding a son or daughter who steps out to follow God? How could there not be devastation? Jesus did not warn about these things in vain. Why would the author of this article, as a professing Christian, not recognize or acknowledge this, except that he has not experienced the reality of Jesus’ words himself, though he comes presuming to teach others the way?
CRI: What are some ways we can know that a certain group is in fact a cult?
Paul: If your eye is not single on God, Jesus said, how great is the darkness (Matt. 6:22-23). If such is the case, how can one see anything? Though we should provide you with the clearest and most apt description to discern who is and who is not a cult (which we will), will you believe? Is it not firstly a matter of the heart, where light is received or rejected?
CRI: The devil always hides behind a mask; and he seldom carries an ID card. If this statement is true, it is of utmost importance for us to discern a cult when we see one.
Paul: The devil does indeed “carry ID cards,” many of them, all false and blasphemous. The light of God alone can expose him. However, if your eye is not single, how will you see?
“But also if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those being lost, in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones, so that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (Who is the image of God) should not dawn on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Unless we are children of Obedience, we are ruled by the devil, whether we discern him or not:
“Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
CRI: The first mark of a cult is its manipulation of Scripture.
Paul: If ever a statement were in the eye of the beholder, would this not be the one? Of the many groups that profess to believe in Christ in this world, how many agree on Scripture? By their conflicting doctrines, are not the many religious organizations in this world accusing each other of manipulating Scripture, whether openly or by implication? So the question is, who gets to set the standard for truth? Who is telling it like it is, and who is doing the manipulating?
Many, such as the author of this piece on cults, say that the Bible is the ultimate authority. If that were the case, how are we to decide between the interpretations given of the Bible by the many religious groups in the world? Truly, the only way we can know is from God Himself. He is the Author. He is the Spirit of Truth. He is the Light. How foolish to think that we can know from the Bible alone, or what men interpret it to say! Jesus Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” If you know Him, then you will hear His voice and know what He says in the Bible. You will recognize those who speak His words, and those who do not, though both true and false claim the Bible as the inspired Word of God.
CRI: The Bible is twisted to fit the leader or group’s interpretation.
Paul: Jesus gave His interpretation of Scripture. Was He twisting things? He often said, “It is written…” and explained the intent, meaning, and fulfillment of the Word of God. Was He wrong? Many said He was. They even accused Him of blasphemy and sought to kill Him, which, by the predetermined will of God, they did.
Many will say that Jesus had the right to interpret Scripture, because He was the Son of God. Yes, He was. But He also was the Son of Man. He said to His followers that God would send them, even as He was sent. Being sent, they too would understand and teach the Scriptures by the same Spirit.
Paul, such a one sent by God, said this about his teachings from Scripture and Christ:
“If anyone teaches otherwise, and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing. He is sick concerning doubts and arguments, from which comes envy, strife, evil speakings, evil suspicions, meddling, of men whose minds have been corrupted and deprived of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness. Withdraw from such” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).
How would one know or recognize that Paul had authority to say these things? Who was to say he was not twisting things? Many accused him of doing that very thing. Some today who profess to believe in Christ accuse him yet. Others who profess to believe simply twist what he said, as Peter wrote of:
“…as also in all [Paul’s] letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable pervert, as also they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
Those who twisted Scripture were, in fact, faulting God, while declaring agreement with Him. The same goes for today. So again, how do you know who is doing what? If an apostle to whom God gave personal and direct revelation in great measure was questioned in his day, and not believed by those also professing faith, how do you know that you would agree with Paul if he were here today? How do you know you would see and receive Christ?
Everyone can (and many do) say that they acknowledge the authority of Scripture, and that they teach only what is in the Bible. How many have you heard proudly claim that they teach error? Those drawn to God will recognize those who are His, who speak the truth, and those who are not, and do not.
“We are of God. He that knows God hears us; he that is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).
CRI: Private interpretations are forbidden because the leader of the cult is the only one, of course, who is able to understand God’s voice properly.
Paul: The religious of His day accused Jesus and His followers of this very thing. They said:
“Have any of the rulers [religious council and priests] or the Pharisees [believers in only their own interpretation of Scripture] believed in Him? But this crowd which does not know the Law [Scripture, according to their interpretation] is accursed” (John 7:48-49).
Interpretations and proper understanding are necessary. The only question is, “Whose interpretation are men following?” Peter interpreted what happened at Pentecost according to the Scriptures, quoting from the prophet Joel (Acts 2). Soon after that event, Peter and John miraculously healed a man, which Peter attributed to Jesus Christ, interpreting what happened by quoting from Moses (Acts 3). Because he was preaching in Christ the resurrection from the dead, the Sadducees, who did not interpret the Bible to support the resurrection, were greatly disturbed, and along with the priests, they put the apostles into custody (Acts 4).
The next day Peter was brought before the council, and declared that the healing of the man was done in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Whom those present had rejected, as Peter interpreted according to Psalm 118, which says, “The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Head of the Corner.”
In all these things we see that interpretations of Scripture are given, and are rejected by those in power (religious authorities), because the truth condemns them in their own interpretations of God’s words, spoken through His servants. They are liars and hypocrites.
Those same opposers to Christ, after hearing the apostle’s answers, made the following observations:
“But beholding the boldness of Peter and John, and having perceived that they are untaught and uneducated men, they marveled. And they recognized them, that they were with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
The apostles were not educated guardians of the orthodox teachings of religion, but were seen as “untaught and uneducated men.” Their learning and understanding is attributed to the fact that they were with Jesus. Indeed, not only had they been with Him, but He was with them, which accounts for the miracle they performed and their understanding of Scripture. Jesus Christ is the power of God, and it is He that informs us of all truth, not orthodox religious education.
The interpretation of Scripture is indeed no private matter, as Peter also wrote:
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
So how is it acceptable that groups of any name, whether it be this or that “church of God,” or the Jewish council in the time of Christ, presume to interpret the Scriptures privately? After all, if they are coming against Christ and His brethren, it is they, and not He, who are guilty of private interpretation. The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10). There is no other acceptable understanding, yesterday, today, or tomorrow. So, just who is the cult?
Jesus, Paul, Peter, and all those given to speak the word of God from time immemorial have been accused of taking too much credit or power to themselves. Some of the people Moses and Aaron led out of Egypt said to Moses:
“Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, but you must needs make yourself also a prince over us?” (Numbers 16:13)
They accused Moses of being a cult leader. Nothing has changed, and as Solomon said there is no new thing under the sun.
CRI: Their teachings distort the historic, orthodox claims of Christianity.
Paul: So what? Who is to say if this is good or bad? Hear what Jesus said to the orthodox of His day:
“Some Pharisees and teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their food with hands that were ritually unclean—that is, they had not washed them in the way the Pharisees said people should. (For the Pharisees, as well as the rest of the Jews, follow the teaching they received from their ancestors: they do not eat unless they wash their hands in the proper way; nor do they eat anything that comes from the market unless they wash it first. And they follow many other rules, which they have received, such as the proper way to wash cups, pots, copper bowls, and beds.) So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus, ‘Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?’ Jesus answered them, ‘How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote: ‘These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’ You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.’ And Jesus continued, ‘You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching. For Moses commanded, ‘Respect your father and your mother,’ and, ‘If you curse your father or your mother, you are to be put to death.’ But you teach that if people have something they could use to help their father or mother, but say, ‘This is Corban’ (which means, it belongs to God), they are excused from helping their father or mother. In this way the teaching you pass on to others cancels out the word of God. And there are many other things like this that you do‘” (Mark 7:1-13).
Hear what the orthodox had to say of Paul:
“This is the man that teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place [Jerusalem temple], and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and has polluted this holy place” (Acts 21:28).
Shall we defend the orthodox or identify with Christ?
CRI: Second, many times cults manipulate people’s minds.
Paul: You couldn’t be accused of much greater mind manipulation than to make people believe you would be raised from the dead. The religious accused Jesus of lying in this manner:
“On the next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. They said, ‘Sir, we remember what that liar said while he was still alive. He claimed that in three days he would come back from death'” (Matthew 27:62-63).[Side note: It is interesting to note that if this were mind manipulation, the Lord totally failed. His disciples did not understand or recall His saying that He would come back from death. It was His enemies who remembered this! Jesus did not manipulate the minds of His followers. He changed them so that they would have His mind of faith.]
They also accused Paul of manipulation:
“This man is trying to make our people worship God in a way that is against our Law!” (Acts 18:13)
Being accused of these things could just as much be an indication of the testimony of God under attack by the powers of darkness as it is the powers of darkness under attack by the testimony of God!
And besides, if we are to honestly consider who is guilty of any kind of mind manipulation, who would not be found wanting? Parents, children, spouses, the media, advertisers, marketers, communists, democrats, republicans, teachers, doctors, lawyers, the religious, you name it, they all do it.
CRI: There is little concern for individual thought and development.
Paul: I would like to ask the author how feeding the reader such mushy and imprecise criteria is promoting thoughtful development of the soul, unless it is because the reader is provoked to question the insipidness of the statements. How is anyone to gauge whether true concern is at work? And how presumptuous of men is it to presume that they actually do care? Here is what God says about how much men care:
“Roam around in Jerusalem’s streets and see now, and know, and seek in her plazas if you can find a man, if there is one who does justice, who seeks truth; and I will pardon her. And though they say, As Jehovah lives, surely they swear falsely” (Jeremiah 5:1-2).
“I sought for a man among them, who should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30).
When someone does care, which is only by the grace of God in Christ, it is not often discerned or appreciated, even by those who should know better. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, who believed in Christ:
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (2 Corinthians 12:15).
That is because men naturally love themselves more than God. Jesus said:
“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me. If another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, you who receive honor from one another and do not seek the honor that comes from God only?” (John 5:43-44).
Men are prone, even when tasting truth, to go after the false. Except the Lord had left us a seed, says Isaiah, we would all be like Sodom and Gomorrah. It is not the true that predominate in this world, but the false. Paul again to the Corinthians:
“For if, indeed, the one coming proclaims another Jesus, whom we have not proclaimed, or if you receive another spirit, which you did not receive, or another gospel, which you never accepted, you might well endure these” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
What I am hoping to point out here is that those who care, according to God’s definition, are very rare, and few believe them. If, according to what CRI has stated, not showing godly concern for the individual’s development is the sign of a cult (and we do not argue that), just who is not a cult?
“For I have no one who is like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:20-21).
CRI: Education is usually discouraged while the convert is bombarded with the cult’s doctrine and literature.
Paul: So what is seminary all about then? What of religious services? What about CRI? What are they doing if not bombarding members with their doctrine and literature? Are they encouraging alternative education, particularly that which God teaches?
Surely this is another accusation that can be, and has been, leveled at the authentic Church, which is made up of the followers of Christ, Who is Head. If a man is apprehended of God, he will, of necessity, reject the religious teachings of men. Paul the apostle said this about his former life and religious background, which led him to persecute the Lord and His Church:
“But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
Do you think Paul was encouraging the followers of Christ to go to “seminary”?
Here he describes the gulf between the two kinds of education:
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).
CRI: Members are called to leave or neglect their old family and life-style for a brand new one.
Paul: “And walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea. For they were fishermen. And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:18-20).
Jesus then walked by James and John at work and called to them.
“…And they immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him” (Matthew 4:22).
“And as He passed on, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me. And he arose and followed Him” (Mark 2:14).
Peter said to Jesus, “…we have left all and have followed You.”
Jesus answered him and said:
“Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My sake and the gospel’s sake, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the world to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
CRI: A third mark is the manipulation of time. Since salvation comes exclusively from the teachings of the group, in many cults members spend much of their time working for their organization. Family, school, leisure, sleep, and even food are most often neglected.
Paul: “And He said to them, Come aside into a deserted place and rest a little. For there were many coming and going, and they had no opportunity even to eat” (Mark 6:31).
Of one “cult” member, Epaphroditus, Paul wrote to others that, “because for the work of Christ he was near death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me” (Philippians 2:30).
Paul apparently practiced sleep deprivation on the “cult” members:
“And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed” (Acts 20:9-11).
At least Paul did not expect more of others than he did of himself. Who can top his credentials for the most fanatical “cult” member?
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as beside myself,) I am more! I have been in labors more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in prisons more, in deaths many times. Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the deep. I have been in travels often; in dangers from waters; in dangers from robbers; in dangers from my race; in dangers from the heathen; in dangers in the city; in dangers in the wilderness; in dangers on the sea; in dangers among false brothers. I have been in hardship and toil; often in watchings; in hunger and thirst; often in fastings; in cold and nakedness…” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Paul went on to say, “Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
You who call yourself “Christian”: If you are flowing with the world, you have more important concerns than possible off-the-wall fanatical cults. You should be wondering why no one is talking about your fanaticism.
“Therefore, since you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
CRI: Finally, cults typically manipulate reality.
Paul: What does this statement truly mean? I am not sure. But if we are to assume it is an attempt to subvert or deny the truth, then who does not manipulate reality, or attempt to (since it is not possible to change reality)? Show me someone who does not try, and I will declare that person a true Christian. Only those in Christ can know and accept reality. The world, which lies in wickedness, cannot.
CRI: They tend to have an exclusive “us” – “them” mentality in which society and old associates are all out to get them. Anyone outside of the group is suspect.
Paul: And so what if it were true that anyone outside is suspect? In the days of His flesh, Jesus did not entrust Himself to any person, inside or out. God Himself said that every man is a liar. Here is what the Son of Man said:
“The one who is not with Me is against Me, and the one who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).
“But now you seek to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth which I have heard beside God; this Abraham did not do” (John 8:40).
“Did not Moses give you the Law? And yet not one of you keeps the Law! Why do you seek to kill Me? The crowd answered and said, You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?” (John 7:19-20)
Jesus was accused of paranoia!
But He did not entrust Himself to men because He knew what was in them. They did not know what was in themselves, but He did. The ones who should be suspect are the ones who put their trust in men and themselves.
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, at the feast, many believed on His name, beholding the signs which He was doing. But Jesus did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify concerning man, for He himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).
Paul had the following to say, which, according to the CRI statement, also could be called paranoid, and cultish:
“Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will pay him back for what he did. You, too, must watch out for him, for he violently opposed our message. At my first trial no one came to my defense. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be held against them!” (2 Timothy 4:14-16)
And John, the Lord’s beloved disciple, also said things that would damn him according to the description of a cult given here.
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, did not receive us. Therefore if I come, I will remember his deeds, which he does, ranting against us with evil words. And not content with these, neither does he himself receive the brothers. And he forbids those who would, and casts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate the bad, but the good. He who does good is from God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 1:9-11).
“Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).
By virtue of a new nature, there will be division. If any man is in Christ, the Scriptures declare, he is a new creature, and old things are passed away. As a son of God, and Light, he cannot go back to darkness. But darkness will never comprehend light, so it will make accusatory statements of those things done in light, such as we have seen by these examples of Scripture. That is how the Lord of glory ended up on a cross.
CRI: If a religious group exhibits one or more of the marks mentioned above, that group may well be considered a cult.
Paul: Then according to the author, who typifies what many have to say in these matters, the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church are exhibit “A” of cults, by virtue of the profound way in which they meet all the criteria.
CRI: Jesus Christ said that in the last days many false prophets would arise and deceive many (Matt. 24:11,24).
Paul: Many would be deceived, even the elect, if it were possible. Jesus also asked, rhetorically, if He would find faith on earth. He urged His followers to strive to enter in, saying few would be able to. He said that in the last days it would be as in the days of Noah (wherein 8 souls were saved). Who then might those “many false prophets” be?
CRI: To avoid the deception of the cults, we should be rooted in the teachings of the historic Christian faith, and receive Jesus Christ, God the Son, second Person of the Trinity, as Lord of our lives.
Paul: The roots described here are the teachings and traditions of men, not of God. The “Trinity” is a pagan, man-concocted explanation for God that denies the Scriptural testimony given to men that there is only one God, not three gods in one. Jesus Christ IS God. When God speaks to you, there is no need to guess “which one” is speaking. There is only one.
So, who is deceived and deceiving?
CRI: On the marks of a cult, that’s the CRI perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.
Paul: CRI stands for “Christian Research Institute.” How deceptive are the appearances men aspire to, when taking such pretentious and officious names to themselves! What a grief to God that men vaunt themselves in this way! The author of this article’s family would be proud of him as a preacher, because his is a work of the flesh. The reason Jesus’ family was not proud of Him, but concerned for His mental health, was because His was a work of the Spirit. Works of the flesh are acceptable to men, because they promote man’s righteousness, while works of the Spirit are not, because they deny any righteousness whatsoever with man. That is the way it works in truth and reality. Who can face or accept that?
Pride goes before a fall. Everyone beware.
May the reader take note that with at least three out of his four suggested marks of a cult, Hank Hanegraaff gave his opinions, with no Scriptural basis for them; this from a man who preaches that the Bible is the “final authority.” On the contrary, as we have seen, the Scriptures contradict him. Those who worship the Bible do so for themselves. In reality, idolaters have no respect for their idols; they worship themselves.
As for us, when contending for the faith with such false apostles and teachers, we say with Paul the apostle:
“I do admit this to you: I worship the God of our ancestors by following that Way which they say is false. But I also believe in everything written in the Law of Moses and the books of the prophets” (Acts 24:14).
Contending for the faith once delivered to the saints,
Victor Hafichuk and Paul Cohen
Victor takes the “Super Apostle Detector” test, also answering how the Lord would respond to such questions according to the Scriptures. A problem is soon seen. This test, designed to identify dangerous cults, condemns the work of God as a dangerous cult. And so it is to all of nominal orthodox Christian religion, just as Christ Himself was hated, persecuted, and crucified by practitioners of the same.
Here’s an example of one who prided himself on his supposed knowledge and expertise in the things of God, using it to charge others with wrongdoing he was guilty of himself. This is hypocrisy of the worst sort, because it drags God’s Name through the mud.
After a lengthy discourse, an embittered preacher labels us a cult and writes a generic paper listing many subjective characteristics of a cult. We show how these characteristics often don’t apply to us, but when they do, it’s in godliness. And when they apply to him, its in ungodliness, because he is in the contradiction of sin and all wrongness.