The oldest reference to cults in the Bible are as old as the early church. Although the Bible doesn’t use the technical term “cult” it says that Jesus warned his disciples about them in more than one occasion.
I. “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
II. “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5)
III. “And many false prophets will appear and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:11)
IV. “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
Many other references to the issue can be found in the post resurrection writings also.
I. “I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29)
II. “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” (Romans 16:17)
III. “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1)
Although cults widely differ from each other, often they share a common target which we call the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. These doctrines are known as,
1. The infallibility of the Bible – The Bible is the verbally inspired word of God and his complete revelation unto us. It’s the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21).
2. The deity of Jesus Christ – Jesus himself said that He and the Father are one (John 10:30). He is both man and God (John 1:1; 1:14). Both natures coexist in him.
3. Atonement – All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). We are incapable of providing atonement for our own sins which is why Jesus died on the cross to provide atonement for our sin, (Mark 10:26-27; John 3:16).
4. Resurrection of Christ – Redemption of God applies not only to our souls but to our physical bodies as well (Romans 4:25).
5. Second coming /Final Judgment – Christ shall return to earth to rapture the church to be with him. But the Bible doesn’t tell us when this will happen. In fact not even Jesus knows the hour of his return. (Matthew 24:36-44).
Christ will judge all unbelievers when they appear before the “Great white Throne” and they will be punished according to their works (Revelation 20:11-15). Believers will also be judged, at a different judgment called the “judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10), but since Christ’s righteousness has been imparted to us and our names are written in the Book of Life, we will be rewarded, not punished, according to our deeds.
Today I am going to consider three of the world’s fastest growing cults and what they teach about these doctrines in contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
1. The infallibility of the Bible
I. Cults always pretend that the Bible is fallible and unreliable. According to Mormons or the “Latter Day Saints” (the fastest growing cult in the world ) the Bible is God’s incomplete revelation to man. The Book of Mormon is the only complete revelation.
II. Witnesses of Jehovah use a translation of the Bible called “The New World Translation” which is an altered translation tailored to fit their erroneous doctrines.
III. Unification Church the third fastest growing cult in the world teaches that the Bible itself is not the truth, but a mere text book that teaches the truth.
2. The deity of Jesus Christ
I. According to Mormonism, Jesus and God are not the same. Jesus is a separate God whom the father created and inferior to the Father.
II. According to Witnesses of Jehovah Jesus is not God. He was just a man who lived a perfect life while on this earth.
III. Members of the “Unification Church” also believe that Jesus was only a man. He wasn’t God.
3. Atonement for sin
I. The majority of cults straight forwardly believe teach Jesus’ suffering and death cannot provide atonement for our sin. Probably to support the teaching that only the leader of that cult is capable of providing atonement. Mormons are a good example. They teach that the death of Jesus Christ is capable of resurrecting everyone but does not provide full atonement for all sin.
II. While Unity School of Christianity also believes that Jesus did not die therefore cannot provide atonement for our sin, there are other cults that teach Jesus cannot provide atonement for the sin of man because he did not suffer and die at all.
III. Christian Science teaches that God did not come in flesh either and therefore he did not suffer for the sin of man and died on a cross. Hence atonement is not found in biblical Christianity.
4. Resurrection of Christ
I. The account of the resurrection of Christ and the doctrine of the resurrection of the believer are always linked to each other because without the resurrection of Christ resurrection of the believer is not possible and salvation is incomplete without it.
II. Witnesses of Jehovah teach Jesus was resurrected as a spirit and that his physical body was destroyed. This contradicts the biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the believer because the resurrection is physical not just spiritual.
III. Unification church, Christian Science, Unity School of Christianity and New Age also teach similar doctrines that contradicts the biblical doctrine of the resurrection.
5. Second coming/Final judgment
I. According to the teachings of the “Witnesses of Jehovah” Jesus is not coming again because he returned invisibly in 1914 in spirit. Very soon he and the angels will destroy all the non-Jehovah’s witnesses.
II. Unification Church teaches the second coming of Christ is fulfilled in Sun Myang Moon, the founder of the Unification Church.
III. Cults such as Christian Science and Unity School of Christianity teach Jesus will not return at all.
In my article I mentioned 5 major doctrines of biblical Christianity and what do the cults teach about them. It is important that we create an awareness of these within our congregations because these doctrines affect our knowledge of salvation directly and indirectly.