INTRODUCTION TO THE CULTS
INTRODUCTION TO CULTS
1st Timothy 6:20,21 - O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
A. Paul had exhorted young Timothy
1. To guard the trust that he had been given.
2. And we are also called to do the same.
THE QUESTION IS OF TODAY IS
A. Why are there so many cults in our society?
1. There are 3000 cults in America today.
2. Over 30 million Americans are in a cult.
3. And the Mormon Church has over 12 million members.
B. The cults, New Age and the occult influence over ¾ of all Americans.
1. The belief in reincarnation.
3. Yin and Yang.
(This Symbol (Yin-Yang) represents the ancient Chinese understanding of how things work.
The outer circle represents "everything", while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies, called "yin" (black) and "yang" (white), which cause everything to happen.
They are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other.
While "yin" would be dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting, and weak, "yang" would be bright, active, upward, hot, expanding, and strong.
The shape of the yin and yang sections of the symbol, actually gives you a sense of the continual movement of these two energies, yin to yang and yang to yin, causing everything to happen: just as things expand and contract, and temperature changes from hot to cold.)
5. Necromancing - which is contact with the dead.
C. Why have the cults grown so much?
1. Failure of the church to teach sound doctrine.
2. We as a church failed to evangelize the world, not the world is evangelizing the church.
3. The church stopped worshipping the creator, and now the world is worshipping the creation.
4. The cultist did not find love in the church but found it in the cult.
5. Moral decay in the church has lead people to find happiness in materialism.
6. Because the church has become religious, our personal God has become an impersonal god, which has lead to Polytheism, paganism, and atheism.
7. The decline of the church to teach absolute truth has lead to people who can’t recognize error or false teaching. (Existentialism)
8. The church has left faith for emotion.
So how can we define what a cult is?
1. It is a Religious Organization founded upon the authority and teaching of one or more individuals whose authority is viewed as being equal to or greater than the authority of Scripture
2. And whose teaching contradicts the theology of Biblical and Historic Christianity.
Webster’s dictionary - A cult is a system of religious beliefs and rituals that is regarded as unorthodox or spurious, with a great devotion to a person, idea, or thing.
E. Defining a cult can be a difficult task.
1. One person’s cult is another person’s truth.
2. First century Romans considered belief in Jesus a superstitious cult.
Tacitus (109 AD) the 2nd century Roman historian writes - To dispel the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and treated with the most extreme punishments, some people, popularly known as Christians, whose disgraceful activities were notorious. The originator of that name, Christus, had been executed when Tiberius was emperor, by order of the procurator Pontius Pilatus. But the deadly cult, though checked for a time, was now breaking out again not only in Judea, the birthplace of this evil, but even throughout Rome.
F. Early Christians had a choice; they could worship Caesar or die.
1. Polycarp, a 2nd century martyr, after he was taken by the Romans in his old age was asked by the Roman Pro-council to reproach Christ and live.
Polycarp answered, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, who hath saved me?”
2. Polycarp believed and trusted in Christ, he was burned at the stake.
3. It was said that the flames did not burn Polycarp, so a Roman executioner took his dagger and thrust it in to Polycarp, and when he bleed, the blood smothered the fire.
II. ALL CULTS ONE MOTIVE IS TO CORRECT HISTORICAL CHRISTIANITY
1 Timothy 4:1-2 - Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,
A. So as Christians we have to defend the faith that we believe in.
1. What was the need for theology?
a. The defend against false teaching that against the church.
B. And this defense became known as apologetics.
1. And where does the word come from?
In 1st Peter 3:15 - But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
2. The word answer means to give a defense, a verbal defense, a speech in defense or a reasoned statement or argument.
3. To defend what I believe or what I represent to be true.
D. So when we compare what we believe to what is now being taught.
1. That God is personal God.
a. An impersonal god.
2. That God is a He.
a. Compared to a god being an it.
3. “The God” of the bible who is beyond the world.
a. To now, the “a god” being part of the world.
4. A God who is all light.
a. To a god who is both light and dark, good and evil. (Star Wars)
5. A God worthy of our worship, to a god no one wants to worship.
III. WHEN WE LOOK AT WORSHIP
A. We are confronted with some type of form of worship everywhere we look.
1. From the worship of a car
2. To the coveting of some type of fashion.
3. To someone’s bodily view on a billboard.
B. And when we study the word “worship” biblically,
1. The principal Old Testament word is “shachah” which means to “depress,” “bow down,” “prostrate”
In Exodus 4:31 - “bowed their heads and worshipped”; so in 94 other places we find this in the Old Testament.
2. The context determines more or less clearly whether the physical act or the emotional idea is intended.
a. The word is applied to acts of reverence to human superiors as well as supernatural.
3. So the Old Testament idea is therefore is the reverential attitude of mind or body or both,
a. Combined with the more generic notions of religions adoration, obedience, and service.
C. The principal New Testament word used 59 times is proskuneo, “kiss the hand or the ground toward,” so often in the oriental fashion bowing prostrate upon the ground;
1. It is to render homage to men, angels, demons, the Devil, the “beast,” idols, or to God.
2. It is rendered 16 times to Jesus as a beneficent superior; at least 24 times to God or to Jesus as God.
IV. MAN HAS A NATURAL AFFECTION TO MAKE A RELIGION OF JUST ABOUT ANYTHING
A. The word “religion” means
1. The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power,
2. A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance to a personal God or gods.
B. So then what is religion?
1. There have been many definitions. Some have simply described it as a belief in spiritual beings.
In Eerdmans' Handbook to the World Religions - As far back as we can go, even before the earliest written records, there is evidence that religion was a key aspect of life.
The mystery of birth and death, the challenge of life itself, has always moved mankind to reach out to something - someone - beyond, in search of meaning. No one, it has been said, can understand mankind without understanding the faiths of humanity.
In Genesis 4:26 - Then man began to call on the name of the Lord.
V. SOME FIELDS OF STUDY DEFINING RELIGION
A. Anthropologists - Describe religious beliefs and practices as they find them in living communities. Religion helps to unite people in a shared experience and explanation of life.
B. Sociologist - Stress the social dimension of religious ideas. Religion provides an agreed way of looking at the world. It gives the individual a sense of purpose and meaning.
C. Historians - Describes religion in terms of events resulting from beliefs.
D. The scholar - Their approach to religion means a neutral, non-committed form of study. It looks at the form of a religion: it does not ask weather it is true.
E. Most common people - Described it as a belief in spiritual beings.
1. A CBS Poll on Dec 23rd: Nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe in angels.
VI. DEFINE WHAT A TRUE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM IS
A. First we must define who God is.
B. Lets look at the seven major worldviews.
1. Atheism - Humanist, Secular Humanism; Atheism is the world without a need for God. Nietzsche says God died. We don’t need God anymore. Man becomes the measure.
Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning:
Just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
2. Finite godism - God is beyond the world, but is limited in power or perfection.
3. Pantheism - the world is made up of God; is not a world without God. It is not a world of not knowing God, but a world that is made up of God. God is in everything.
a. Buddhism - some forms of Hinduism and Taoism teaches that everything has God’s stuff. It is as if God took parts of Himself and created the world. This is why they respect the animals; they have souls because they were created by God.
4. Panentheism - is that the world is inside of God; is the belief that God's physical body is the universe and everything in it, and that God also transcends this universe.
Existence is a part of God, but God is larger than existence. It is similar but different to pantheism, which says that the universe IS God in totality.
It is also a belief in a genderless God, and God as the creator. Gandhi said if I step on an ant, I step on God.
5. Polytheism - the belief in or worship of more than one god. The polytheist denies any infinite God beyond the world, however the gods are active in the world today.
6. Deism - is a God that created the world, but then does not interfere with His creation in any way. It is a fist and the hand turned away. It is a world with an absent God.
Norman Geisler says that deism is theism minus miracles. Deism says that God is uninterested, a God that created it, but just walked away.
7. Theism - God has a world, and has an intimate, infinite and loving God. Theism says that not only is God important, but that God cares and is very much interested in us, invested in us and cares about our being.
C. If theism is true, then all the other six forms of non-theism are false.
1. God cannot be both infinite and finite.
2. God cannot be personal and impersonal.
3. God cannot be beyond the universe and not beyond the universe.
4. Perform miracles and not able to perform miracles.
5. God cannot be unchanging and changing.
a. This view only makes sense, as we understand God’s four attributes.
D. So to define God, we need to go to the source of the information about God and what it says about God, we go to the bible.
E. In the next few weeks we will study the cults and be able to define them by what we know of the God of the bible.
VII. TYPES OF PEOPLE THAT PAUL CAME UP AGAINST
A. We can see the three major world views similar to what we read in Acts 17:18
1. Stoic – Pantheism
2. Epicurean – Atheist
3. Paul - Theism
B. There are three major worldviews.
1. Theism – God made all - Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
2. Pantheism – God is all - Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Mormonism.
3. Atheism – No God at all – Buddhism, Confucianism, Humanism.
C. Theism says that not only is God important,
1. But that God shows us that we are important
a. Also that God is very much interested in us.
b. And is invested in us and cares about our being.
c. Invested as in God sent His Son to die for us.
2. Also God shows His relationship by given us His truth (the bible),
a. That man can know God
b. And have a personal in intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe.
D. And the bible embraces the belief about this God
1. And that this God is one eternal, infinite, timeless, absolutely perfect, personal Being.
VIII. THE 15 MARKS OF A CULT
Galatians 1:6-8 - 6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
1. Denunciation of others (alienation of anyone who does not believe their views and join them) Phil. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:7; 2 Pet. 3:16; 2 Tim. 4:16; Luke 23:34; Ro. 14:13; 1 Cor. 4:5.
2. Defective Christology (false view of the nature of the Person (and work) of Christ) Mt. 22:42; John 1:1; 1 Jn. 4:1-3; 5:1; 2 Cor. 11:3; Mt. 16:13-17.
3. Salvation by works (Faith plus works equal salvation) Eph. 2:8-10; Gal. 2:16; Rom. 3:28.
4. Extra Biblical Revelation (something “new” from God) Jude 3,4.
5. Presumptuous Messianic Leadership (a human has been appointed by God to be a special saint, prophet, guru, or messiah) Heb. 12:2; 4:14; 1 Tim. 2:5; Eph. 1:22-23; Luke 21:8.
6. Claim of “special discoveries” (mysterious, otherwise unavailable, inside information) Acts 26:26; Acts 1:3; 2 Cor. 13:1.
7. Uncertain Hope (we can never be sure in this life that we are saved) 1 Pet. 1:3-11; Eph. 1:13,14; Heb. 6:19; 2 Tim. 1:12.
8. Confusion of beliefs (lack of clarity in beliefs) 2 Tim. 4:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 14:33.
9. Mixing religious points of view 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Jn. 10:1-18; Eph. 4:4-6; Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12; Jn. 8:24.
10. Entangling organizational structure (commitment to complicated set of human restrictions) Luke 11:46; II Pet. 2:19; Gal. 5:1.
11. Defective doctrine of the Holy Spirit (denying His personality or Deity) 2 Cor. 11:3-5; Acts 5:1-5.
12. Secrecy (reluctance to divulge to outsiders the actual beliefs of the group) Mk. 4:22; Luke 8:16,17; Jn. 18:19-21; Acts 26:26.
13. Financial exploitation (the call to pay, keep on paying) Ro. 6:23; 3:24; Ps. 84:11.
14. Alienate Biblical verses (paying attention to one verse or passage to the exclusion of others) 2 Tim. 3:16-17.
15. To correct Historical Christianity (to change the historical and worldview of Christianity and the church) 1 Cor. 15:1-4, 1 Timothy 4:1-2
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 - 12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.