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   Studies in Contrasts - Volume 1 (3 of 13)

Volume 1

  1. Should a Christian Be Afraid of God?
  2. The Resurrection: A Matter of Reason or a Matter of Faith?
  3. Can We Learn from the Cults?
  4. Should We Be Waiting or Working As We Anticipate Christ's Return?
  5. Did Christ Come to Live or to Die for Us?
  6. Is Man Like God or Unlike God?
  7. Should a Christian Be Self-Controlled or Spirit-Controlled?
  8. Isn't the Holy Spirit All I Need to Understand the Bible?
  9. Can We Come to God Just As We Are?
  10. Is It Ever Right to Judge Others?
  11. Are We the Result of Our Parents' Choices?
  12. Does God Hold Us Responsible for Other People's Sin?
  13. Self-Esteem: Is It Right or Wrong?


Can We Learn from the Cults?

Joan, a college student, had professed faith in Jesus Christ and had been attending a good church. She was fighting a battle with religious doubt and a poor self-image, but her needs were not being met there. The people at church hardly noticed her. Her peers, for the most part, seemed superficial and self-centered. They showed no concern for a person struggling with complex problems.

One day a classmate at college invited her to a Bible study where they used material provided by a cult. The group accepted her with warmth, and they were willing to listen and talk with her. Joan felt appreciated and loved, and soon she became an enthusiastic, outgoing member of this organization. Unfortunately, she was little concerned that this group denied the deity of Jesus Christ and other basic Bible truths. What was right with this cult and others like it? What was wrong?

THE CULTS ARE RIGHT

  1. They are right in their intense commitment. This is a sharp contrast with the apathy and indifference that marks many Christians.
  2. They are right in the way they promote a sense of community, providing a surrogate family for those who lack close friends or crave the comfort and support of an intimate fellowship.
  3. They are right in their idealism. They really think that they are doing something for the future of society and the world.
  4. They are sometimes right in their teaching, doctrine, and apparent emphasis on the Bible.


THE CULTS ARE WRONG

  1. They often deny the trinity, a doctrine implied in the Old Testament and clearly taught in the New (Gen. 1:26; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 3:16, 17; 28:19).
  2. They often deny the deity of Jesus Christ, a truth affirmed in many New Testament passages (John 1:1-14; 8:58; Heb. 1:8).
  3. They usually deny salvation by grace through faith plus nothing, as taught in the Bible (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8,9).
  4. Their authority resides in a fallible leader rather than the Holy Scriptures. This is in contrast with the New Testament writers, who made the Scriptures the source of their authority (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:12-21).
  5. They promote experience without regard to Bible doctrine and set up a fallible man as absolute authority. This produces in their followers a wrong kind of dependence on people, which contrasts strongly with the true Christian's reliance on God.

Resolution

We can learn from the cults the lesson that zeal, loving concern for others, and obedience to authority make a person effective for a cause. But we must reject the cults because they teach false doctrines and half-truths, and enslave people through their false claims and authoritarian organization.

Reflection

Cults are a growing problem. They continue to feed on the errors, inconsistencies, ignorance, and apathy of the Lord's people.

We can best protect ourselves, our children, and our communities against cults by knowing the truth and practicing it in love. If we fail to do that, godless, self-intoxicated people of captivating charm, skill, and persuasion will continue to find our soft spots and capture the weak and injured among us.

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