Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"If anyone would come after me, he must first deny himself and
take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life
will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
( Matt. 16:24 )
What Makes a Church or
There are many non-Christian religions and cults
in America: Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses,
Christian Science, Unity, The Way International,
Unitarianism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.
They all claim special revelation and privilege and
those that use the Bible invariably interpret it in
disharmony with standard biblical understanding
And, groups like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses
object to the label "cult" because it often gets an
emotional reaction as well as is a label
they want to avoid.
The dictionary defines cult as "a system of religious
worship or ritual"; "devoted attachment to, or
extravagant admiration for, a person, principle, etc.",
"a group of followers."
This is a typical secular
definition and by it, any believer in any god is a
cultist, even atheists since they have an admiration
for a principle and are a group of followers of the
The definition I use for "non-Christian cult" or
"non-Christian religion" is a group that may or may
not include the Bible in its set of authoritative
scriptures. If it does include the Bible, it distorts
the true biblical doctrines that effect salvation
sufficiently so as to void salvation.1
If it doesn't use the Bible, it is a Non-Christian
religion and does not participate in the benefit
of divine revelation.
In Christian bookstores, there are almost always
'cult' sections which include the Mormons, Jehovah's
Witnesses, etc. So, I am not alone in describing what a
non-Christian, bible based cult is. Nevertheless, what
makes something non-Christian is when it denies the
essential doctrines of the Bible.
The Deity of Christ, which involves The Trinity
the Resurrection, and Salvation by Grace
All of them add to the finished work of Jesus
on the cross. Some cult groups even add to the
Bible, i.e., Mormonism which has the
Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants,
and The Pearl of Great Price.
Also Christian Science has added Science and
Health with Key to the Scriptures.
The Jehovah's Witnesses, however, have actually
changed the text of the Bible to make it fit what
they want it to.
For information on this see
Jehovah's Witnesses and how they have
changed the Bible.
Cults add their own efforts, their own works of
righteousness to the finished work of salvation
accomplished by Jesus on the cross. All Cults say
that Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient, but our works
must be 'mixed with' or 'added to' His in order to
prove that we are saved and worthy of salvation.
They say one thing but believe another. They
maintain that they must prove themselves worthy
and that they must try their best to please God and
prove to Him that they are sincere, have worked hard,
and are then worthy to be with Him. In other words,
they do their best and God takes care of the rest.
This is absolutely wrong. The Bible says that we are
saved by grace not by works "For by grace you
have been saved through faith...not as a result of
works, that no one should boast, (Eph. 2:8-9,
NASB); not by anything we do "For we maintain
that a man is justified by faith apart from
works of the Law"
(Rom. 3:28, NASB).
Because if there was anything that we could do to
merit the forgiveness of our sins, then Jesus died
needlessly "nevertheless knowing that a man is
not justified by the works of the Law but through
faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in
Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith
in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since
by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified...
I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness
comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly
(Gal. 2:16, 21, NASB).
People in cults will often cite James 2:26 where it
says that faith without works is dead in an attempt to
demonstrate that works are part of becoming saved.
While it is true that faith without works is dead,
it isn't the works that save us.
James is saying that
if you have real and true faith, it will result in
real and true works of Christianity. In other words,
you do good works because you are saved, not
to get saved.
He isn't saying that our works are what saves us, or
that they, in combination with the finished work
of Christ, save us. James is simply telling us that
if we say we have faith (James 2:14) but we
have no works in correspondence to that faith, then
that faith won't save us because it is a dead faith.
This agrees with Paul who tells us that faith is what
saves us, "Therefore having been justified by
faith, we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).
This faith is
real faith, or true saving faith, not just an
empty mental acknowledgement of God's
existence which is what those who "say" they
have faith but show no corresponding godliness
are guilty of.
Incidentally, you should realize
that faith is only as good as who you put it in.
Just having faith in something doesn't mean
That is why it is important to have the
True Jesus, because if you have great faith
but it is in the wrong Jesus, then your
faith is useless.
In Mormonism, Jesus is the brother of the devil
begotten through sexual intercourse from a God
who came from another planet. In Jehovah's
Witnesses he is Michael the Archangel who
became a man. In the New Age Movement
he is a man in tune with the
Which is true? The only true Jesus is the
one of the Bible, the one who is prayed to
(1 Cor. 1:1-2 with Psalm 116:1; Acts 7:55-60);
worshipped (Matt. 2:2, 11, 14:33,
John 9:35-38, Heb. 1:8), and called God
(John 20:28; Col. 2:9).
The Jesus of the Cults is Not
prayed to, worshipped, or called God.
Since the Jesus of the Bible is the
only one who reveals the Father (Luke 10:22)
so that you may have eternal life (John 17:3),
You Must Have the True Jesus who Alone is
The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6).
Another common denominator among the
Cults is their methods for twisting scripture. Some
of the errors they commit in interpreting Scripture
1) taking Scripture out of context;
2) reading into the Scriptures information that
is not there;
3) picking and choosing only the Scriptures that suit
4) ignoring other explanations;
5) combining scriptures that don't have
anything to do with each other;
6) quoting a verse without giving its location;
7) incorrect definitions of key words; and
These are only a few of the many ways
Cults Knowingly Misuse Scripture.
If you want to be able to witness well to a
person in a cult, you need to understand their
doctrines as well as your own. It would be a
good idea to study both
Christian Doctrine: the Bible, God, Creation, Man...
Christian Doctrine: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Salvation...
as well as the
The Three Essential Doctrines of Christianity
to become better equipped.
Through study you will be able to answer
questions that often come up in witnessing
encounters. A Christian should know his
doctrine well enough to be able to
recognize not only what is true, but also
what is false in a religious system
(1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:15).
Jesus warned us that in the last days False
Christs and False Prophets would arise and deceive
many (Matt. 24:24). The Lord knew that there
would be a rise of the spirit of Antichrist (1 John 4:1-3)
in the last days.
Its manifestation is here in the forms of
Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses,
and The New Age Movement,
by Matthew Slick
Back to Cults and False Religions
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