The oldest Biblical references to cults are as old as the early church. Although the Bible doesn’t utilize the technical term “cult” Jesus and the apostles have warned us about cults on multiple passages. The Biblical writers used different terms such as False Prophets, False Messiahs, and Wolves in Sheep’s Skin. These references are not limited only to the New Testament. There are various references in the Old Testament also.
Old Testament References
- But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. Now if you say to yourselves, ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’— whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it; the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
- Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these, you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed. (1 Kings 22:11)
- The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! (Ezekiel 13:1-2)
- Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
- For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:5)
- And many false prophets will appear and deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)
- For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)
Post Resurrection Warnings
- I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:29)
- 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)
- 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, they often share common targets. These are none other than the Church and the Foundational Doctrines of the Christian faith. Given below are their versions of these doctrines and the Biblical version.
1. Atonement for the Sin of Man
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).
2. The infallibility of the Holy Bible
Cults often deny the infallibility, reliability, and authority of the scriptures citing that the Bible is incomplete or incorrect. They often use supplementary publications in addition to the Bible.
The Bible is the inspired word of God and His complete revelation to man. It’s the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct, (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21).
3. The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ
Cults either deny or forfeit the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They introduce Christ either as a mere man a minor god.
Jesus himself said that He and the Father are one (John 10:30). He is both man and God as both natures coexist in him, (John 1:1; 1:14).
4. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ
Cults deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. They advocate that God resurrected Jesus as a spirit and destroyed the physical body. Therefore neither we shall have physical form when we are resurrected.
The Bible, however, says we shall be resurrected to glorified bodies for the redemption covers our physical bodies also. Not just the intangible soul, (Romans 4:25).
5. The Second Coming of Christ/Final Judgment
Someone said it’s heresy to say Christ is not coming back but it’s lunacy to put a date on his second coming.
Cult Gurus either reject the second coming as a whole or teaches that Christ is coming back on such and such a date. What does the Bible say?
Christ shall return to earth to capture 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.
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.
Image: Jay Free
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