Can you identify a cult?

 

“Holding fast the faithful Word” 1 Tit 1.9a . . . .”Avoid profance and vain babblings” 1 Tim 6.2 . . . .”if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you have received, let him be accursed” Gal 1.9 NAS

CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTS:

  1. Many “deny that Jesus Christ is Almighty God in human flesh”  -David Weeks. (John 1.1-3;  3.16; Luke 1.31-33)
  2. Many teach a grace plus good works salvation OR that all will be saved” Ibid. (Rom 4.5′ Eph 2.8-9; Tit 3.5; Jm 2.10)
  3. Many “deny the reality of eternal damnation of the lost in the lake of fire” Ibid. (Mt 25.46; 2 Ptr 3.3.6-7; Rev 20.13-15)
  4. They tend to believe that man is basically good not evil in nature, so sin is not viewed as important. And if man was never lost in sin then being saved from sin is also not important. Salvation through the New birth is played down. They see man as OK as he is, morally. (Jer 17.9; Rom 3.10,23).
  5. “Cults tend to have a prophet or prophetess (founder) who claims to have been directed by God to establish the cult.”  . They have writings which they typically elevate above the Bible. Ibid. (2 Ptr 1.21; Prov 30.5-6; 2 Tim 3.16-17).
  6. They twist or ignore major Bible doctrines related to salvation, the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The deity of Christ, necessity of Christ’s payment for our sin, Jesus’ resurrection, Second Coming, lostness of man, New Birth. They major on new, different or fringe doctrines which deny the centrality of Christ’s work. (Gal chpt 1,2,3)
  7. They often claim that their church or group is the only way to redemption and or heaven.  If true, that would make that group  co-redeemer with Christ. (Jn 14.6; 15.4-5; Rev 3.20).

“Believe not every spirit” 1 John 4.1

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Do you know the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke?

  1. Numbness in arms or face
  2. Trouble speaking
  3. Change in vision–can’t see or blurry vision
  4. Sudden headaches
  5. Trouble detecting hot or cold
  6. Trouble swallowing–can inhale food or drink into lungs
  7. Difficulty walking–off balance, stumbling, dizzy, unsteady
  8. Confusion
  9. Dizziness or vertigo
  10. Loss of consciousness   –adapted from rmstrokes.com (recommended for more details)
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Are all religions just different paths up the mountain to God?

Are all religions just different paths up the mountain to God? Is a summit conference between these religion leaders/founders plausible?

Let’s pretend for a moment that all religions were different paths up a mountain to God. How might that have played out, based on the the widely different world views and contrasting theologies they hold. Buddha would not be there as he  did not believe in a god. We’d classify Buddha as atheist. He was not born until much later–563?–483? BC. He was man,  not god. Islam’s Allah makes his own decisions like a one man dictator. Who has he consulted before? I would not count on his attendance or cooperation. Hindus believe in pantheism–god is everything, unknowable and impersonal. How can an impersonal being make a personal appearance?

What of the Judeo-Christian God, Jehovah? Below is what the Bible says of Him in Old and new Testaments.

“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with my hands, and I ordained all their hosts . . . . Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other .” (Isaiah 40.45.12,22 NAS).

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1.1-2 NAS).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1.1-3 NAS).

“in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Hebrews 1.2 NAS).

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How important is supremacy of the Bible’s authority?

 

Once rejecting the authority of the Bible, genuine Christianity dies. Without this stable, fixed anchor, objectivity is lost. A Pandora’s Box is opened. Without its singular compass, salvation doctrines drown in the sea of subjectivity. Redemption is just added to the parade of false gospel, false salvation recipes—”the latest becomes the greatest.” Salvation recedes into the morass of added pet dogmas, traditions, cultural mores, contemporary fads, isms, syncretism plus the never ending concoctions of man’s minds. “The mind is an idol factory” -old Christian. author. No wonder Paul devoted the first three chapters of Galatians warning not to add man’s works, OT Law nor anything to salvation by grace through faith alone. (Rom chpt 1-5) Many Bible believers will readily understand that i refer here to the essential doctrines of salvation. “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty. In all things charity.” -attributed to St. Augustine. Christians have never agreed on non-essential issues including church polity, politics, social issues, dress, music, spiritual gifts and eschatology. “Authority is a dirty word today” -John R. W. Stott, Anglican author, teacher.

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Does the Judeo-Christian God accept or reject other religions? Why are they not acceptable?

 HOW DOES GOD VIEW OTHER RELIGIONS INCLUDING IDOL WORSHIPING RELIGIONS?: 

(1) In Isaiah 44.9-20, God’s prophet explains how false religions   came in. Men used the trees God made to carve into idols and fell down before them to worship them. 

“He cuts cedars for himself . . . Half of it he burns in the fire; over this he eats his meat . .  but the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for thou art my god'” . .  ” (Isaiah 44.14, 16,17 NAS). God sees this as foolish.

“I am the Lord, that is my name; I will not give My glory to another.” (Isaiah 42.8 NAS). . . 

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and the last, And there is no God besides Me.” (Isaiah 44.6 NAS).

Idol worshiping religions: (1) steal glory from the One who made heaven and earth. Our Provider deserves proper respect. God says that He will not share His glory. He is a jealous God;  (2) tell lies about what they offer and about God;  (3) they steal the Christian’s Savior, forgiveness for sin, peace, joy, meaning in life and eternal home in heaven; (4) idols are Satan’s way of stealing God’s glory. They are of the Devil.

(2) Rev 9.20-21: “And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality no of their thefts.”

We note in this end of time passage that: God continues to oppose false religions. He opposes others getting credit for what He has done. Repentance is expected, mandatory if one wants to follow God. Idols are God’s enemies.

The Bible states repeatedly that He is. God is holy. He cannot lie. Why would He WANT to lie to us? He owes us nothing. God does not play games. . . .

“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45.22 NAS).

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Who is the real Creator?

Why is it so important to know who the real Creator of the universe is?  Because whoever it or He is, He sets the rules. If He can create the stars and mountains, He can do the lesser things people debate. He sets the laws of nature,  gravity. He can make a fish large enough to swallow Jonah, for example. He can heal blind eyes and still storms. He decides  what is good or evil.The verses below are just some of the Bible passages declaring who the real Creator is. We must face these strong claims squarely. Are they truthful? Is God’s Word lying to us or not? Is He holy? How much power does He claim to have?

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales? (Isaiah 40.12 NAS).

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the vault [circle] of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” (Isaiah 40.21-22 NAS).

“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with my hands, and I ordained all their hosts . . . . Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other .” (Isaiah 40.45.12,22 NAS).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1.1-3 NAS).

 

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Talking with skeptics and atheists

(1) We all appreciate kindness and love.  “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Prov 16.21 NAS); . . . .”speaking the truth in love” (Eph 5.15 NAS). (2) A Christian’s objective in a conversation or post should not be to win the argument at all  costs but offer the gospel. Think long term. In John 3, Jesus planted good seed in Nicodemus’ heart which did not blossom until later (Jn 19.39-40);  (3) Outsiders to the faith cannot  understand it–1 Corinthians. 2.14; 1.18. If there is any openness or curiosity, show patience;  (4)  Ask questions that open up inside a person’s assumptions–prompt him to rethink his own views. Ex: “If not Judeo-Christian, what is your world view?” . . .  “Atheism has no basis for objective morality. Naturalism is admittedly amoral. Yet you speak of evil–blaming God for it. What  moral standard are you using?”   (5) Inquire as to his agenda. Why is he discussing it at all? Has he got just endless, recreational, bull session questions? Is there one burning question in his soul, keeping him from coming to Jesus?  Or is he asking a question he has asked many times before? If so, shift the focus; (6) Does he realize that every other world view beyond the Judeo-Christian world view is even less credible? Other world views have even more issues as to origin, meaning in life, morality and destiny. This includes: atheism, Hinduism, Islam and others. (7)  It takes two to argue. Avoid arguments. They tend to get worse not better. Don’t be pulled down out of the spirit and in the flesh.  Jesus said, ” . .  do not throw your pearls before swine” (Matt 7.6 NAS).  Like trying to feed a dead cat is reasoning with persistent scoffers and God mockers.  (Prov 17.12,27,28). (8) Let the Holy Spirit lead you in conversation. (8) Be gracious but open and honest.  (9) Loving Jesus had lots of enemies, many were deeply religious people. Godly Christians make lost people uncomfortable. Expect some jabs, scoffing, negativity and unnecessary words. Ask God to show you when to love and accept and when to show tough love by avoiding strife, saying “Go in peace.” (10) It is the gospel that wins people not apologetics. Don’t think you have to have answers to every possible question. Bring the conversation to the Cross and Resurrection.

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Forget Some Social Pressures, Stressers / Your Funeral Guests

Should we care what friends think if we drive an older car, wear modest clothes and love to talk about Jesus? Forget such social pressures. Remember that if it’s raining or these friends have a cold, they may skip your funeral. People don’t think nearly as much about us as we can imagine. Focus on pleasing Jesus. Be calm, wash your face, suck it up and move on. If you believe that Jesus Christ has paid off your whole sin mortgage,  thank Him! If you are trusting that His death was substitutionary and efficacious, praise Him!  If you are trusting  that all your wicked thoughts have been forgiven, tell Him.

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JAMES AND THE FAITH/WORKS QUESTION?

“As you read the epistle of James, you discover that these Jewish Christians were having some problems in their personal lives and in their church fellowship. . . . difficult testings, temptations to sin . . . catering to the rich . . being robbed by the rich . .  competing for teaching offices . .  not living what they professed to believe . . . their mouths were causing divisions among them . . . . talking but not living the truth (2.14ff) . . . .  no control of tongue (3.1ff)  ” – Warren Wiersbe Commentary on James, p. 335-336.

James deals early on with salvation  in 1.18. “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits of His creatures.”

It speaks of the New Birth here. God brought our salvation exercising His will, His plan, His intention, not man’s striving.  “It is divine. Nicodemus thought he had to reenter his mother’s womb to be born again, but he was wrong. This birth is not of the flesh: it is from above (Jn 3.1-7). It is the work of God. Just as we did not generate our own human birth, we cannot generate our own spiritual birth. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, it was God who performed the miracle.” Ibid 344.

“It is gracious. We did not earn it or deserve it; God gave us spiritual birth because of His own grace and will. ‘Which were born, not of blood [human descent], nor of the will of the flesh [human efforts]  nor of the will of man [human assistance], but of God.” (John 1.13) No one can be born again because of his relatives, his resolutions or his religion. The new birth is the work of God.” Ibid, 344-345.

Skipping to the controversial verses in James 2, he is addressing those who talk the faith but do not live it out. “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can that faith save him? . . . and if one of you says to them, Go in peace . . . But some one may well say, You have faith and I have works, show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2.14,16,18.

James has dealt with salvation in chapter 1. He has made it clear that salvation is of God–supernatural. He is not changing his mind a few verses later. Here he is simply saying ‘walk your talk. Don’t be a hypocrite. Get involved.’ If a man takes a job at Jones Supply Company, he can walk around town claiming to be their employee. Bu if he will not report in to work is he really an employee? Likewise with the army recruit who does not report to basic training. He is AWOL, a fake. One is not saved by good works but for good works–after his redemption event. The Cross is proof that a man can not save himself. if so, Jesus died in vain–Gal 2.21.

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Which world view deals best with the problem of evil?

Hinduism (all branches) can explain evil as karma. If evil happens the person deserved it. Atheism claims we are all accidents of chance, just molecules bouncing around a meaningless, amoral universe. No evil or good exists. Islam says that Allah wills whatever happens. Only the Judeo-Christian world view can address evil and suffering more deeply.  (1) Creator God in His wisdom has not chosen to explain the reasons behind evil and suffering completely. We have some answers but not all. We must  trust God for the rest. (Rom 8.32).    (2)  Though not answering all possible questions the Bible does offer around ten causes/reasons for trials, suffering and evil. These await the diligent inquirer;  (3) The Bible has very  limited objective—to get the lost soul saved and guide him in the Christian walk.  The Bible is adequate but not exhaustive. If it answered every possible question asked, it would be have to be a giant, unwieldy ‘encyclopedia’ as large as a house. That was not God’s intention. He is looking for faith. The fallen angels in heaven had proof of God’s existence and much information. They still sinned. God wants some faithful beings to live with Him for all eternity. Praise your name Father God!  (4)  A finite man perhaps knows less than one percent of all available facts about this earth. And if there is a realm beyond this physical planet,  he knows even less about it. Our life spans are so short.  A three year old child does not understand why his parents want him to eat veggies instead of candy for supper. It is obvious to him that the candy is better—superior. Yet he is wise to obey his parents— by faith. Wise Christians have a ‘faith drawer’ to put unanswered questions in. When we get to heaven we can ask Jesus. This can teach self control and patience; -after Ravi Zacharias

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