Knock, knock; whose there? Itís___________
There are about 5,000 different cults currently operating in America besides the new age movementís influence via spiritism and the occult.
Only a few cults go knocking on doors, disseminating their literature or inviting you to their seminars (7th day Revelation seminars, Mormons, and Jehovah Witnesses).
A Christian cult will always consist of any group of people who have a set of beliefs which are non-biblical or extra biblical that affect core doctrines. They can trivialize major doctrines and make minor doctrines more important. These beliefs become exclusive to their group which makes them unique to others and the end result is always divisiveness. They insist to view life through their belief system only. Because the Bible is distorted it actually hinders them in coping with everyday life. They then become dysfunctional to their family and friends and if they do not separate on their own they will be encouraged by their group to separate.
Why do people join a cult or follow false teachers? Some like others to make choices for them, these are more often the youthful followers who have no skills developed to live in the world, no street smarts. They are naÔve in knowing the dangers, the pitfalls of resigning ones control over to sinful men. Some like being part of a group that offers them a purpose when they have none at the time. Some are naÔve and know no better and what they hear sounds good and reasonable and they like what they see, they go by their feelings. These are those who are convinced with only the smallest amount of proof. There is often a multitude of reasons, but mostly it is for the wrong reasons they join.
Itís sad state that many churches throughout the world are in. They no longer teach through the Bible and disciple believers so they can be equipped to do the work of ministry. Our protection from the various cults and false beliefs have become diminished. Because of this we are not impacting society the way we once did and we are wide open to their recruitment. And they are intruding and they are growing. As Walter Martin said, the cults are the unpaid bill of the church.
Those who are educated can often be naÔve to the religious world and its deceptions. These are often attracted to mystical, new age type beliefs. Some may have rebelled against the religious beliefs of the parents that they felt was forced upon them and are looking for something different in spirituality. There are a myriad of alternate choices all claiming to be the Truth. It would be like a compass with 360 degrees, only one leads to the truth the other 359 lead away from it.
They become convinced that what they have heard is the truth they have been searching for and they relinquish themselves to the new found friendships that affects them on every level of life. Be it emotional, psychological, the heart and mind, soul and spirit. From this they are taken captive replacing critical thinking and biblical thinking with the ways the group wants them to think in. They will interpret to them what the Bible says and will often leave them no choice in another view. This is what is called group think. There unity is found in everyone holding to the same teaching (that is false). The cult or movements lifestyle is based on the hopes, goals of their leader[s].
Destructive cults are basically pyramid shaped with a person or group of teachers that have domineering control over their lives. These leaders can be called a revelator, a prophet or apostle, the anointed and even called Jesus. They often use psychological manipulation along with love bombing. They recruit by deceiving potential new members. Individuals are not told up front what the group is really about or what will be expected of them if they become members. Some are taught that questioning something is wrong. If they do ask questions, answers are put off. They find these things out later after they have made friends and given their time and money to the new found group.
So many people never have a chance at a knowledgeable choice because most of them are encouraged to join as soon as possible without looking into the background or history of the group. If you are being pushed, that is the first red light to be aware of.
Cults are found in two categories theological and sociological. And they can practice in both areas in various degrees. A cult can be theologically sound and still have abuse and control from the leader[s] or they can be theologically wrong and it will show in their practice. Cults operate through a thought reform process to create a new identity for the person, one that fits in with the group. The means is through intensive indoctrination by learning their doctrine. They fill your week with Bible studies that you are required to be present for, this shows your devotion. If you miss one meeting they will question your commitment that is another red light. (this is seen in Iglesia Ni Cristo, International churches of Christ, Jehovah Witnesses and many end times groups)
Once you have been indoctrinated they send you out with someone else to do the same work. To a Jehovah Witness this means going door to door daily with the other witnesses. To those in the International Church of Christ it is being discipled and then discipling others in the same distorted doctrines. As you are trained in their teachings you are then changed and it is often attributed to God when it is really a psychological change. Steve Hassan who was once part of the Moonies now exits people out of cultís states, " Todayís cult leaders are artful manipulators in persuasion and indoctrination." In a mind control environment, freedom of choice is the first thing one loses ." The cult leaderís philosophy, his books, teachings, and practices determine the new life for the members.
To the new member everything they have done prior to their new groups goals is found meaningless and now everything done with the group is meaningful. So your former life is replaced with the new. Now this can be good if it is biblically based and oneís sinful nature is changed to be more like Christ, and you are doing things by choice. But instead we find it to be a requirement to show your new spirituality.
Who is the largest un-reached people groups? You do not have to go to some far off land to find them. They are those who are right in front of us, they can carry a Bible and donít know the message of salvation. The reason is that it has either been distorted or it has shifted to another way which severs them from Christ the mediator. Take for example Iglesia ni Christo who teaches the way to Christ is through their church, no other. When the Bible says the church are saved people assembled, called living stones. They neglect and purposely distort the message of the gospel so that no one is saved.
They believe they have Jesus, but he is not the Jesus of Scripture because they deny the incarnation. With cults they will often demote Jesus keeping him special but making him to be a man or an angel. In Iglesia Ni Christo he is only man. To the Mormons he is our spirit brother (which they donít tell the new member until later). To the Jehovah Witnesses they say Jesus is a certain angel because they cannot get around the Bible saying he came from heaven. Oneness Pentecostals they confuse the person of Christ saying he is the Father who died for us and Jesus the Son is only his humanity. Today many are presented with Jesus that can be accepted by mystics, Gnostics and other religions. He is an ascended master, a sorcerer, an initiate into the divine mysteries. He is seen as a great teacher, a prophet, but not the Son of God, who is God in the flesh sent by the Father from heaven. The only one the Father sent to earth as the Savior from our sins. They make him into something other than the Bibles Jesus and in doing make their church or group exclusive as the only true church and way to salvation.
The primary guru of the New Age Movement, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, taught that the "Christ archetype" could be activated and encountered via active imagination or visualization. The new age claims Jesus as their spirit-guide. They visualize him, he speaks to them and gives them wisdom and guidance. Visualization techniques with inner healing all have people contact the Jesus they think in their minds to help them in their spiritual growth. All this psychology is incorporated in certain churches to make it real by a forced experience.
There are even new prophets who in the Christian church that have a different revelation as their Jesus speaks new words and doctrine for their church.
Almost all the religions of the world have a common denominator among themselves, they have a works base system of righteousness. In other words they have laws, rules and sometimes manmade regulations one needs to obey to be right with God. There are many other psuedo Christian Churches that also have works in their plan for salvation or to maintain it. This is often used as the means to keep one working for their particular belief system. It also holds them in their circle having the people think there is nowhere else to go to serve or know God. Even in the Christian church this has come in as certain men have said they do not want to go back to the old thing but want to pursue the new. Telling people who want more, If youíre not going in the river you will miss out on what God is doing today and will never get it. So you need to follow what the spirit is doing with them and their ministries. This is a simple case of spiritual manipulation that puts fear in people who can have their doubts and are cautious to accept something new.
History shows that those who were not cautious to wait things out ended up spiritually bankrupt. Mary baker Eddy started her Christian science with the same. Divine Science then became the ďfinal revelationĒ from God to man. Her book becomes the glasses the Bible is to be read through and the final authority for all members of the Christian Science religion. They needed her book to understand and ďunlockĒ the Bibles true meaning. It was her mission to write Science and Health to give the world the ďkeyĒ to the Scriptures so everyone was able to use them. Mrs. Eddy claimed The Bible has been my only authority. I have had no other guide in ďthe straight and narrow wayĒ of Truth . What she really meant was the word being reinterpreted by her outside the way itís been done for centuries.
It has become increasingly important to see that those who claim to be Christian presenting to their followers a different Jesus, another Gospel or another Jesus. Do they have the Christian distinctive or another gospel?
When you get a knock on the door most likely the person is doing this because it has something to do with earning their salvation. As soon as you question them on grace and faith they rush to James passage saying that this shows you need works to be saved. Every cult member does this because they misunderstand the gospel. Jm.2:1-4 James is trying to correct the Church addressing how they act on their faith. Faith (their belief) does not help them if they do not act on it. James is pointing out that you can't neglect your brethren around you and say you follow Christ. James is explaining what kind of faith results from salvation. If it is true faith it is active and is operated by love. All works are acts of faith which one must possess beforehand. He's not saying we're saved or kept by faith plus works. This would make ones works a savior. There is only one savior, that is the person of Christ and it is his work that was done on the cross for our salvation. James is pointing out what kind of faith is actually saving faith. What he is saying is if they possess faith, they should show it. Actions are a result of what we believe, James is saying show me what you believe. We are saved by faith alone but it is not alone - it is accompanied by works. Our works have no merit before God for salvation, we are created in Christ to do good works.
Interesting that the Bible never gives a standard of how much work is needed for one to be in a right relationship with God for the simple reason that it cannot apply for salvation. This is always a good question to ask them. In 1 Corinthians 3:15 it tells us of a man whose works are all burned yet he still had his salvation. So works do not merit anything in relationship to salvation. However those who are saved will be rewarded for any faithful work done. We were made new in Christ to do good works (Eph.2:10).
The gospel is something that is our life, not just something we adhere to on Sundays or at midweek bible studies. It is the power of God for salvation to us and has changed our destiny and life. So if we have the gospel why are we so bashful or even ashamed to tell it? We are afraid that they will think we are weird or that we will lose them as a friend. What about our caring for them as priority?
When opportunity knock's do we not answer because we think we can't change them. This means we are not answering our door because we are in doubt, instead of in faith. Nothing will happen, because if you aim at nothing and you get nothing. We need to believe God will do something despite what it looks like.
Itís not that they are too stubborn and not open to hear. Actually we may be the ones who are stubborn that need to be open enough to believe God can work in their heart.
Why is it that Christians who have the truth are unable to do for the truth what cults do for a lie? The reason we are so timid is because we don't feel confident enough to go the distance with them. Itís true that some are very well trained in the falsehood they believe. But if we take a little time to prepare and not go into the areas they are trained in, we just may see some interesting results. In fact, they are not as versed as you think and one scripture in context explained correctly way can demolish all their lies. We should be confident that ďA word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.Ē (Prov. 25:11)
We need to have faith that the Holy Spirit will work right then in our conversation.
If the Lord brings someone to your door you have an obligation to explain your faith no matter how little you may know. Whatever little amount of the truth you may know, is immensely more than the great amount of falsehood they know! So donít shrink back from speaking to them. It is usually the new Christians that one canít stop from giving a testimony and speaking. If you are an older Christian who does not feel confident because you are not equipped donít you think itís time to be equipped? Itís been said you are either a missionary or a mission field.
I have heard too many testimonies of why Jehovah's Witnesses left the organization. The main reason is because the Christian at the door gave them the time, asked the questions they were not able to answer. It plagued them and although they did not want to show it they wrestled with it. It may have taken years but it was a planted seed of truth, which became a seed of doubt of what they learning that made them realize the Watchtower society was not Gods organization.
When you challenge their teaching they look at it as you are personally attacking them and the people they now have as their new family. You are demeaning the new life that they claim is from God. We need to go back to where they went wrong, this becomes quite feat to go through all the layers of teaching and unravel it back to step one. We should be asking them questions and waiting for their answers. Then we go to the bible to see if they match up or are correct.
One of the problems that happens in our witnessing is that we end up defending what we believe, instead, they should! Our beliefs are not in question, since it is they who are coming to our house bringing a different Gospel. So one might ask what is the Gospel they are bringing? I have never received a right answer on this yet. They will say paradise earth, the Bible says something quite different. You can't be in paradise earth without being saved, which they admit they are not.
We should ask questions, lots of them. Ask any of them (JWís Mormons, Iglesia Ni Christo, 7th day Adventists) if they read the Bible alone, or do they need a church, an organization and its publications to understand it? After this is established as the only source of truth you can go have them answer from the Scriptures alone and watch how little they know without there own reference books or teachers. If kept simple one can go far in showing what the Bible says in relation to there organization's teachings.
Ask them how they were saved? You can show them that Jn.3 states unless you are born again you cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God. Share your testimony of how you came to know the Lord. But remember a testimony is not the gospel, it is just one of the elements to help them understand how you received Christ through the gospel.
The truth is we have no excuse. God has brought people to us, we need to engage in a conversation, which means stepping out in faith. You do not need to know all the teachings of the Watchtower to hold your own in a conversation. Or how the Sabbath is no longer required to answer the 7 th day Adventist. All we need to start with are some of the facts of what they believe and the basics in Scripture to effectively witness when the knock comes at the door, whether we feel ready or not. Stay on the subject and make another appointment with them so the questions posed will eventually be answered. Whatever you do, don't give up, they do leave and find Christ.
So the next time you hear the knock on your door, enthusiastically open it and take the time to speak to them and explain to them how "Jesus is knocking on the door of their heart." (Rev.3:20) It is they who need to open up the door of their heart to have life.