JESUS AND THE CULTS
Taken in part from the author's notes for the book Fast Facts on False Teaching
It's not like we aren't to have expected it. Jesus talked about it. The disciples asked questions about it. It's there in the Word for us to read, to study.
"As Jesus was
sitting on the
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many."
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matt. 24:3-8)
We're certainly seeing that in our day and age. Jesus said in the last days, these things are going to take place. Paul warned us in the fourth chapter of First Timothy, verse one:
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."
Not only are we told that in the last days, people are going to go after the false prophets, but many are going to follow after the doctrine of demons and deceitful spirits.
We are literally seeing an explosion of the world of the occult. In fact, a recent magazine article estimated nearly fifty million Americans are involved in some form of the occult. A recent survey estimated that nearly forty million Americans read their horoscopes, every day, to see what their zodiac sign says they should do that day.
People are involved in the use of tarot cards, palmistry, and numerology. People are going to psychics, to mediums. One of the biggest programs on television is the psychic solution, with Dianne Warwick and other stars promoting psychics and astrology, spiritism, the mediums, the clairvoyants, and playing with the ouija board. People are getting involved in Witchcraft, Satanism and the whole world of the occult.
I want to give you a brief overview of the Jesus of the cults.
There are actually four
categories of Cults prevalent today in
1. Pseudo-Christian Cults
2. Oriental Cults
3. New Age Cults
4. Spiritist Cults or the Occult
Over the last 150 years, the classical definition of a Cult has referred to this first category known as the Pseudo-Christian Cults. These are religious organizations or movements who claim to be Christian and claim to believe in the Bible. But, instead of building their theology and teaching on God's Word, the Bible, they claim some "new revelation" or man-made teaching as superior to the Bible. By interpreting the Bible through the grid of their particular revelation or teaching, these groups end up denying the central doctrines of historic, orthodox, Biblical Christianity. The key perversions of the Cults always relate to the central issues of theology, specifically the Doctrine of God, Jesus Christ, and Salvation.
They are considered Cults because they seek to "counterfeit" Biblical Christianity. Counterfeits deceive by their outward appearance. Like counterfeit money, the Cults want to look and sound like the genuine thing without having their "bogus" nature detected. This is precisely what deceives so many people when confronted by one of the above groups. The Cults will use Christian "terminology" to sound Christian, but then will redefine the terms to fit their own "man-made" theology. The definition of terms is key to understanding the Cult deception.
The Pseudo-Christian Cults have essentially emptied Biblical Christianity of all of its content theologically, Christs divinity, His saving grace; replaced the content with a perverted theology of their own making; then sprayed it over with Christian words and terminology to look and sound Christian; and now market it as a new revelation from God. Many people naively buy the outer wrapping, without first examining the content and essence of the package. This can be deadly to your spiritual health and ultimate eternal destiny!
Such organizations are the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, known as the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, known as the Mormons.
There are other groups, such as the Unification Church, Christian Science, The Way, International and many other organizations which all claim to be Christian and claim to believe the Bible, but instead of building their teaching from what God has revealed, these organizations are claiming some new revelation, some man made teaching which they say supersedes or is greater than the Bible.
They interpret the Bible through their manmade revelations or teaching, and end up denying the basic doctrines and central beliefs of historic Biblical Christianity. They use the term "Jesus Christ" and then redefine the term to fit their man-made theology. Go down to a Christian Science Reading Room, founded by Mary Baker Eddy, and ask them, "Do you believe in the Trinity?"
They will say, "Of course we do!" But if you ask them, "What is the Trinity?" they will tell you the Trinity is three ethical principles: life, truth and love. You see, they will use Christian words to make you think they are Christian, and then they will redefine those words to their manmade theology.
You can ask a Mormon missionary, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" he will say, "Of course. We are wearing a little name tag here that says that we are the Church of Jesus Christ." But if you ask that Mormon who is Jesus Christ, you will learn that they believe that Jesus Christ is the brother of Lucifer, that he is simply one God in a pantheon of Gods. Mormons are polytheists. They believe in millions of Gods and not just one of them. They deny the Virgin Birth and teach he was born through physical sex between God and Mary.
That's the story with each of the cults. Their Jesus only looks like the real Jesus on the surface. Dig a little and another one of those false christs rises up. In dealing with the cults, you must define your terminology. What do you mean when you talk about God? What do you mean when you talk about Jesus Christ? What do you mean when you talk about salvation?
A second category that we now talk about are what are known as the Oriental cults. These are the cults that have their basis in Oriental or Eastern philosophy, specifically Hinduism and Buddhism.
Such things as the Hare
Krishna movement, Christian consciousness, The Divine Light Mission, Transcendental
meditation, Yoga, Zen, and many others. It is interesting that while all the American
cults are going to
All the oriental cults basically teach a Hindu pantheism, that we are all part of an impersonal universe which they call God. They say people suffer in life because they think they are personal beings.
In Hinduism and Buddhism they say personal thinking and feeling is all an illusion. They teach that the world is an illusion, and in order to get rid of suffering we must get rid of the physical personal world which is not real. And we must transcend through transcendental meditation or yoga meditation to become part of the impersonal universe which they call God.
We need understand something here. An "impersonal universe" never loved or cared about you. Only a personal creator loves and cares for his creation. The world, at large, is lost to that simple theology. They want the answer to be within their control, their understanding, within themselves and the false gods they play with like it that way. That brings us to the third category.
The New Age Cults
The New Age cults are sometime referred to as the Human Potential Movement. They combine Eastern philosophy with Western humanism and psychology teaching that man has evolved physically as an animal in the first stage of life. And they say we are standing on the brink of a New Age, what they call the Age of Aquarius, and in this New Age, man will continue his evolution spiritually to achieve his own divine nature.
A good example of this
grouping is the
Scientology teaches that the reason why we suffer in life is because you have lost your Godhood through thousands of reincarnations. For a mere ten or twenty thousand dollars, they will help program a person through past reincarnations to get back to the state of Godhood.
Then when you realize that you are God, you are able to worship yourself and you will be at peace. How much does it cost to reach that divine plateau?
This is the oldest lie recorded in the Bible. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent said to Adam and Eve, "Ah, eat of the fruit. You can be-come God yourselves." Isn't it interesting that Satan hasn't changed? He's still promoting that same old lie that he dresses up in new terms, but it is pawned off as new revelation.
It's the cry of the cults from Scientology to Mormonism. "You can become God yourself!" It's the ultimate lie, the ultimate sin, man wanting to become God himself. It's still going on.
But, because people do not find what they are looking for in their own in their own divinity, many of them have gone into a fourth category known as the Occult, or the Spiritist Cults.
The Spiritist Cults or the Occult
This category of cult spans the whole universe of darkness - everything from astrology to tarot cards, palmistry, numerology, people involved in witchcraft and Satanism, going to seances, meeting with clairvoyants, channelers, etc.
Paul warned us that in the last days before Christ returns at His second coming, we will see the rise of such evil.
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." (1 Tim. 4:1)
They bring with them a new Baalism, with the pursuit of pleasure as the location of the sacred. There develops a sacramental character of sexuality and drugs within their ranks. Their goal is the removal of all hang-ups and moral restraints; a totally free society; the attainment of "peak experiences".
Their salvation is through self-gratification and their central idol is the Pleasure Principle, achieved through sensual pleasure and self-gratification.
Every one of these groups
has its own idol[s] of one sort or another. What's on top of the
Mormonism is not of Jesus Christ. It's from the pit of hell, dressed up to look like Christianity, palmed off as a new revelation, bringing another Jesus and another gospel and another spirit, counterfeits, false apostles disguising themselves to look like Christians.
It's fascinating how many cults began by somebody getting a revelation from an angel of light. Read the history of Islam. One billion people today are following Islam because a man named Mohammed claimed to have received revelations from an angel of light, who told him Jesus Christ was not God, Jesus Christ did not die on a cross for man's sins, and that man can save himself by keeping the law of Mohammed. An angel of light I could go on and on.
The Jesus of the cults
There is literally a smorgasbord of Jesus Christs being served up to the public. Who is the Jesus of the cults? Let us give you just a brief idea. Jesus said, in the last days there's going to come many false christs. Paul warned of it in the scripture above. We've got them by the hundreds today! By the millions if you believe Shirley Mclaine's pronouncement that we are all Jesus Christs.
Who is the Jesus of Jehovah's Witnesses? They say He is the archangel, Michael, and that He was the first creation of God, came to earth as a man, died on a stake and rose invisibly as a ghost.
The Mormons say that Jesus was simply one God in a pantheon of Gods, He's the brother of Satan, that the cross and blood of Christ is foolishness. He points the way, but we ourselves are our own way. Mary Baker Eddy taught in Christian Science that Jesus was a divine idea, a nice idea.
The Unitarians say that Jesus was a good man but his followers mistakenly deified him. The spritists say that Jesus is an advanced medium in the sixth sphere in the astrological projection, wherever that is.
The Rosacrucians say that Jesus is the man at the station of cosmic consciousness. Maharishi and Transcendent Meditation says Jesus was an enlightened guru who never suffered or died for anyone. And the list goes on and on.
You need to understand that the Jesus of the cults is not the Jesus of the Bible. They have another Jesus, a counterfeit, a false Christ who can save no one. And the greatest question still before us is "what think ye of Jesus Christ? Who is He?"
Who is the real Jesus Christ? That's the ultimate question.
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." (1 John 4:1-3)
John says to test these people. Do they confess that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. If they deny that, he says, then that they are of the antichrist. Now there are many cults that believe that their particular Jesus was actually in the flesh. But John had already recorded for us in his gospel who this unique one is that has come in the flesh and is from God.
The other scripture is in the Book of John. John starts his gospel so there would be no mistake. God took on human flesh, God incarnate.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1, 14)
The cults have another gospel, able to enslave you into a man made system trying to earn and work for your salvation apart from Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ is "...the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father but by him. (John 14:6)
Acts says: "there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved but that of Jesus Christ."
Salvation is not a man made system or organization, but that it is a gift of God. It was bought and paid for by the eternal Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who was the infinite sacrifice, who shed His blood on the cross, for an infinite amount of sins, that we could come by faith and receive that free gift of salvation. That's why they call it "good news." It is the true power of God Himself in each and every one of us.
(c) copyright 2005, Ed Decker, all rights reserved
Contact Ed Decker and Saints Alive Ministries at www.saintsalive.com
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