For the past few years I have looked at cults and different religions with a view of trying to understand them to better equip me in my witnessing and communication of the Christian Faith. I found, over the years, it is quite impossible to know everything about all religions or even a minority of them. While it is good to be aware of different religions and cults, it is much more valuable to be in touch with the truth of the Bible. The apostle Peter says so himself in John 6:68 stating “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This is advice from not only my own experience but from many who work with and have written books on the subject of cults.
Many are surprised by what they can discern once they become familiar with the Word of God and what some call the key tenets of the Christian faith. Knowing what the Bible says about God, Jesus, man and salvation will enable a person to spot any cult within just moments of talking to a person or reading their material. Being familiar with the truth is the best protection against deception a Christian can have. So that’s the first and major point. The problem within the Christian church today is that there is an increasing number of Christians who don’t know their Bible. Other things in life take priority, the result being a biblically illiterate and misinformed church. Often the people who fall by the wayside are those who do not study their Bibles and when they are faced with opposition, be it physical or the more common rationalistic, intellectual opposition that we in the post-enlightened West are subjected to (might I add that we should not fear it because the truth of the Bible stands firm under the closest scrutiny) then they crumble and fall away as they don’t know what the Bible teaches about the relveant area. The battle belongs to the Lord and the Bible is the Christians weapon that must be studied, and used when in need for it is through the word that the Holy Spirit works.
The following 18 point checklist can be used as a guide to help in the examining of a teaching, doctrine, movement, ministry, or alleged spiritual gift. It can also serve as a guide to the learning of some of the key points a believer should be watching for when discerning whether an organization or particular teaching is not adhering to Biblical standards.
- Does it attempt to attack or change the person, work or Deity of Christ?
- Is salvation by a new unique non-scriptural method, works, or something other than faith in Jesus and His work on the cross?
- Is membership with this group required for salvation?
- Is the Doctrine of the Trinity compromised?
- Does it attempt to change the teaching about the person, Deity, and/or work of the Holy Spirit?
- Is the Holy Spirit credited with revealing things that are contrary to what He has already revealed in the Bible?
- Is God being made to seem more like man?
- Is man is being made to seem more like God?
- Is someone or something being presented as an authority equal to or superior to the Bible?
- Is the teaching or interpretation of one person or select group of people seen as the only acceptable material or guide by which you are to study the Bible?
- Does it edify the Church and build up the body of Christ or does it seek to give glory to a person or organization?
- Are claims and/or prophecies made that cannot be substantiated or that have failed to come about?
- Are terms commonly used in “Christianity” redefined and given new “non-biblical” meanings?
- Is the teaching or activity consistent with the New Testament?
- Is this a matter of tradition, culture and emotions or is it Bible?
- Does this group or teaching force interpretations of scripture passages that make the Bible contradict itself?
- Does movement or group produce healthy well-balanced growing Disciples?
- Is the teaching, movement or group focused on the entire message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or are they focused only on a few specific issues? (For example end time prophecy, deliverance ministry, healing campaigns, prosperity teachings etc.)
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:6-9)
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. ”- (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6 36-40)