The word that seems to strike fear into the hearts of men today is the word "cult". This word brings up terrible images of Jonestown, Waco, and the Japan gas attack among others. In this generation one seems to draw back at any suggestion they may belong to a cult. Yet, almost the whole earth worships at the feet of men and contemplates the religious inspirations of men who in their beginning were leaders of cults.
The most widely known in this country is Jesus Christ. Can you imagine what response this man would have in today's world? He claimed to be God. He worked miracles of unknown origin. He led a small group of followers sometimes staying in secret locations. One of His disciples committed suicide. He was finally executed for antigovernment activities.
If Jesus came today, as He came two thousand years ago, He would be considered a dangerous cult leader. Yet, it is fashionable today to worship Jesus as the Christ. He has become acceptable. That is-man's idea of Him is acceptable because His image has been transformed into an American product for merchandise. "Christianity" is a most wonderful business and fortunes are made with this product which bears no semblance at all to the real Christ. Movies are made about this image and men are bought and sold within various religious denominations for the purpose of gain. In the time of Christ, He was looked at with great suspicion by "normal" society.
"Christian" is a term that means "Christlike" or Christ follower. This term was first coined as a degrading accusation against members of this cult. To say Christian then would be like saying, David Koreshite or Jim Jonesite. The plain truth is that any true Christian today will be considered a cult member precisely as they were during the time of Christ. Why is this so? Consider for a moment the descriptions of the sons of God provided in Scripture.
Jesus said, "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:14. The world hates authentic Christians today because they are viewed as cultists. They are cultists because they are not of the world. They stand out separate from the world. They have their own CULTure. This causes them to be viewed as separatists and somewhat secretive as Jesus was.
Actually, the truly worldly person does not care that much about cults except that the worldly religions create fear in their hearts against the Christians. It was not the Romans that gave much notice to Jesus. It was the church of the day. They were the instigators of hate against His cult. They were the "hate mongers" of His time. The Pharisees and Sadducees of today are the various religious sects of this age.
It would surprise most professed "Christians" to know that they were not Christians at all, but only Pharisees and Sadducees of various persuasions. How does one know this? It is because Christians are not of this world. Their bodies are here but they are not of the worldly mind. They do not use worldly policies and forms nor participate in popular holidays. They do not engage themselves in worldly amusements and society. They have no use for a worldly education and they do not use the world's methods of healing. Let us look at some examples. Did Jesus go to a university? No. Did He go to public or private school? No. He was taught at home. Christians today would have their children in home school. They would be separating their children from earthly influences and impressions.
Did Jesus go to the doctor to maintain His health? Then what would a Christ follower do? Would worldly medicine and drugs be His way of keeping Himself well? I think most thinking men would have to acknowledge that Jesus did not participate in these things. He was separate from them. He was not involved in politics or labor unions. He stood apart from society in their worldly aspirations and dreams. He was not of them. He did not store weapons for the future war. He simply was not of this world. Men today are suspicious of true Christian cults because they seem to be exclusive. Actually, they appear this way because the world has driven them away. The world looks at the children of God as enemies, therefore, these children find it necessary to dwell apart from the world.
It has been said that cults seem to insist one must be of their group in order to be saved or at least to be right. Did Jesus do that? He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Can you imagine someone saying that today: someone like the man next door? Jesus said, "Follow me." Here was a cult leader who told others to follow Him. He said that He was the only way to the Father. There was no other way to heaven. Certainly this should be enough to give one the picture of who Jesus really was.
Was Jesus a cult leader? Decidedly yes. The dictionary definition for cult is:
1.a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader. b. The followers of such a religion or sect.
2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual. (AHED) Certainly Jesus exercised authority. He was generally considered extremist and false. He lived in an unconventional manner. Certainly He led in a system of religious worship and He was the leader.
There are many worldly cults today. The largest cult is Catholicism. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists and the Jewish religion, among others are smaller cults. These are religious cultures. When religious cultures have worldly ideas and use worldly methods in their services and education, they would be considered worldly cults or cultures. The worldly cults today are those who believe that they are the true church and by assenting to certain rituals or doctrines of the church you are counted saved. Jesus warned of these. He said, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. ...Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (See Matthew 24).
Jesus warned against false saviors; men who would seek to have you join their group as a way of salvation. If men say, "the way of salvation is over here or over there" or if men say, "our group is the right one; we are the true church over here, come join us and then you will be in the true church also," one can know that they are claiming to be a messiah or savior. These would be false or worldly cults. Jesus clearly taught thatHe comes to a soul as lightning across the sky and not through earthly means.
Jesus' religion was nothing like one finds today in religions around the world. Salvation does not come by church, doctrine or creed. It does not come by good behavior or one's beliefs. It comes alone as the lightning of God floods the soul and one receives eyes to see the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. This is the only salvation there has ever been. Men are saved because they are filled with God. They are filled with God because they have yielded to His Spirit and have become possessed of His Spirit. When this occurs, they will do the right things and do the good works that God does. They do them because they are now a medium for God to work out His will in them. When they are seen by men, it is God that men see because it is God who is the life and not the man.
Jesus taught that men do not get to heaven by following this or that man or religion. One enters heaven only by becoming the Son of God as He was. It is written, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12.
While religions today teach some of these things, they do not know what they mean. It would surprise most religious leaders today to hear that the Bible means what it says, "to become sons of God." What does that mean? Simply this, "For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Rom. 8:29. This is exactly as stated. Jesus was the "firstborn" among many who would be like Him. The many who would be born like Jesus are conformed to the image of Jesus. What is an image? "One that closely or exactly resembles another; a double." (AHED). It is written again, "And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image...." 2 Cor. 3:18. In other words, Christians are Christlike or like Christ. They are the same as Christ. That was the message of Jesus. Jesus put it this way, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." John 6:53. This statement shocked the people of His day. It certainly brought up cultish thoughts in those who listened. In fact, the record states that when He said this, many left Him who had heretofore been followers.
If you lived in Jesus' day, would you have followed this cult leader? Would you have followed a man? Not very many did then and equally as few do today.
The religions of the world are at the very best a false hope. The Father will only save His Son and if one is not His Son, then salvation is not received.
According to the cult leader, Jesus, one cannot do something to get saved. That is-he cannot join something. Salvation is a transformation. It is being transformed and translated into the same image as Jesus. We think like Him and our obedience to God is as His obedience. We are like Jesus and not like man. There is no other way. This life comes from God alone. The Spirit of God does the transforming so that we actually partake of the "fullness of Christ."
This is true Christianity. Jesus gives us His perfection. The Christian is as perfect as He is because that is the life He gives them. Now you may see more clearly why it is that few men follow Him. Jesus wondered Himself if there would be anyone who believed this when He came. He said, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:8. The world is full of the worldly religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but there are precious few Sons of God-men who obey God and who obey Him all the time with a loving, thankful heart.
We have been told that there is another sign of a cult. A cult is apocalyptic. The imminent coming of Christ or the imminent end of the world is cited as one of the main ingredients of cultish doctrine. There are numerous religions that hold that Jesus is going to come back some day but only a cult believes it is imminent.
"Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." Mark 1:15. John the Baptist believed and preached the same thing. Yes, John the Baptist would be considered a separatist and cultish figure also. This was the very nature of the early Christian movement.
It may be that the leaders of a movement might be seen as somewhat forceful and strange, and that the members of the cult would only be followers, but not really dangerous since they were following a man. After Jesus was executed, the power and strange cultish behavior did not end. It is recorded in Scripture that two members of the main church dropped dead for telling a lie. "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people." Acts 5:1-12. Consider this for a moment. Imagine that happening in America now. Suppose the news media reported that two members of a cult did not pay the leadership what they had promised so they dropped dead. Can you imagine the headlines over that story? Peter would probably be arrested for using some unknown power to kill those who did not give him the money he wanted. At least that is how the media would report it. The stories would be wild. It would be reported that there were people killed for not turning over their land; there was a suicide of one of the principle disciples; Jesus threatened to destroy the temple (that is how it was reported), and now they were speaking in strange languages and seemed drunk. No, the Christian church would not be popular these days. Christ would be branded a cult leader of the most dangerous kind. He would be accused of some crime and then executed. His disciples would probably be treated the same way. Jesus would be accused by those who consider themselves Christians.
It has been said that a cult will cause division and divide families. Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:34-38. Jesus went on to say, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26.
Yes, the leader of the Christian church said these things. If any man said these things today, he may well be jailed as Jesus was. He would be considered a danger to society.
The great distortion of the Christian religion came as the world's point of view was introduced into it. The world's idea of religion is that when one is good he gets to go to heaven. One must especially be nice and smile a lot. To be good and nice, you must work at it over a period of time and then one day you finally get good and you can go. The world also has the view that one cannot really be good all of the time so it does not matter, after all; but if you do good things as best you can, you still get to go to heaven.
This strange religion is in some form in all of the denominations that name the name of Christ. The various sects have different doctrines and good deeds to be done but the bottom line is the same. Some sects believe one should wear certain kinds of underwear and go through certain baptismal rites to be qualified for heaven. Others boast of a prophet or some apostolic leader. Some preach that one should keep Saturday holy instead of Sunday and that will qualify him for heaven. Others put merit in the money they give in tithes and offerings. Many so-called Christians believe they have joined the true church and that is sufficient for God's approval. Still others believe that if you speak in some unknown tongue you are certainly destined for the pearly gates. This insidious poison was inserted into the early church and developed into a science by the modern church. Men's works and being good would insure one a place in heaven. This is the basis of all heathen religion. This is not, was not, and never will be the religion of Christ. Even though many religions today are cults, they are worldly cults and work destructively against the gospel of Jesus. The truth is evident. It is written: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:1-4.
Yes, Jesus Christ is not found by men's doctrines and creeds. Men's works of goodness performed to please God will avail nothing. Christ Jesus coming in the flesh, even our flesh, is the only salvation there has ever been. If men say that Christ is not come in the flesh, that He cannot really be in us, living His life in us and for us but we can only be men, then they are classed with antichrist. And if we know that Jesus Christ is in us, then we will be as He is, doing the works that He does and having the testimony He has, for it is Christ who lives and not we ourselves. For it is written: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Rev. 12:17. Christians will keep the commandments of God, but it is because God is their life. They simply dowhat God does because it is God doing it. If a professed Christian is still following the works of the flesh he is none of His. (See Romans 8). God brought about the Reformation to once again bring the knowledge of faith to the front. Even so, the Reformation was short-lived. While it began in power and was considered a separatist and fanatical movement, it, too, by and by, desired the approval of the world. This very fact, seeking the approval of the world, is a great destructive force since the world's approval is not possible for a Christian. It is written, "If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world-therefore the world hates you." John 15:19.
If the world loves you, you can know beyond any question that you are not a Christian. The world cannot love a Christian. He is considered cultish and a separatist. He is heaped with rumors and suspicions. The Christian does not work at trying to be hated, it just naturally happens if he has the Spirit of God. This happened to the early church and later to the Reformation churches. Protestants today are not protesting at all. How dare they use the term to describe themselves?
In the early 1800's there were many new movements or cults coming forward. The end of the world was being preached by some and a date for that was set. God was awakening the world to search the Scriptures and awaken to the times. When the Lord did not come as foretold, there was general disappointment but that disappointment was only manifest because people failed to see the design of God. This world was entering into judgment and all were being directed to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Sadly, Jesus' faith is not something desired by the masses. Men would rather have the approval of the world. This is what these movements gradually sought after. But as with all previous cults, these Adventists also sought the approbation of the world. More and more they desired the praise of earthly kingdoms. More and more they distanced themselves from the Spirit of God.
The conclusion should be clear. The Christian denominations of this world are not truly Christian, even if some of them do pride themselves for going to church on Saturday. Their entire function is at counter purposes with the Spirit of God. The Scriptures teach of this great Babylon and how this great city merchandises the souls of men. This is not news to the world though. It is quite clear that this spiritless, powerless, Godless religion has fallen and fallen into financial and moral corruption. Her ministers can preach for an hour and say nothing at all. They are no longer a cult in the Christian sense, but fully accepted into the worldly family of nations and religions. Modern Christianity may take pride in that, but it is a shame that it takes the name of Christ, for it is not of Christ but, instead, of the antichrist which was prophesied to come into the world.
Jesus predicted the doom of Jerusalem. This is a principle factor in a cult: the prediction of doom. He said, "See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Matthew 24:1-2.
Jesus also rebuked the regular order of things. This is also cited as a sign of a cult. A cult rebukes the regular order of things. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. ...Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Matthew 23:13-39.
There is not one thing written here that Jesus does not say against today's professed churches of Christ. I suppose if a man said what Jesus said to the churches of today, they would report that the man was being critical. Soon enough the congregations of these churches will rise up and tear down the false shepherds that have been leading them, but after all is said, it is only liars who are lied to. While it is true that false shepherds have misled the people, the people have loved to have it so. "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" Jer. 5:31. The physical destruction that came upon Jerusalem was only about 37 years later. This destruction was by process and this process can be clearly seen in our earth today. History is repeating itself in clear detail. We can look at some of the circumstances that surrounded the end of the last age and the beginning of the age that followed. The destruction of Jerusalem took place in 70 A.D. Today, we have seen the spiritual destruction of the churches which constitute modern Jerusalem. A little while after the destruction of Jerusalem, the fortress Masada was attacked by Roman soldiers. The people at Masada were religious zealots. A short time after the spiritual destruction of our churches in this age was recognized, government soldiers attacked the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. The Branch Davidians are recognized as religious zealots. At Masada the people committed suicide and their fortress was destroyed by fire. Few survived. In Waco it is reported that they committed suicide and their fortress was destroyed by fire. Few survived. Masada was under siege a little over 50 days as was the Davidian compound. Masada was attacked at Passover. "Mount Carmel" was attacked and under siege in the Passover season also.
Awhile after that, the supporters of Masada attacked in revenge for the destruction of their people. In this age a federal building was destroyed in retaliation for the destruction which occurred near Waco. At this writing, during this Passover season, the Freemen, recognized as separatists and zealots, are under siege as the Branch Davidians were. It is supposed that these small extreme groups are but little enemies in this location or that. What is missed is that this is only a symbol of a general fire that is infecting the entire nation. The nation is at war with itself. The nation no longer respects its leaders or its institutions. These examples only foretell the general collapse of every agency of government. While sleeping, a thief came in and ruined us.