By non-Christian religious leaders, Jesus Christ has been described as a great teacher and a good man, a prophet, guru, magician, liar, and one of many gods. One would hardly expect a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Moslem to accept Jesus Christ as a true Christian does unless there is a conversion to the Christian faith. Indeed, there are religions that claim to be Christian, yet totally reject the biblical concept of our Lord Jesus Christ, and other Christian doctrines. These religious sects are known as cults. A cult is a religious diversion from an established tenet or fundamental system of belief.
Granted that there are over 200 separate Christian denominations in the United States alone and all these denominations may view a portion or scripture of the Bible in a different manner from the others. The Baptists, for example, do not accept speaking in tongues as do the Pentecostals. Protestants do not believe that Peter was the first father, or Pope, as do the Roman Catholics. Some denominations accept the baptizing of babies, others claim that one must be of the age of understanding before they are baptized. Some say that sprinkling of water is alright, others say that one must be completely immersed.
But all of the Christian denominations are united by a basic set of beliefs that they all share. These beliefs include: the virgin birth, the vicarious death, the Resurrection, the return of, and the deity of one being, Jesus Christ. Although there are individual religious leaders who have disagreed with one or more of those five tenets, their denomination has, for the most part, adhered to those beliefs. Then there are sects or cults who totally reject one or more of those doctrines and there are certain marks that identify a sect or religion as being a cult.
THE 5 MARKS OF A CULT
The cults believe:
1.) The Bible is not complete without added instructions, usually from the cult founder or from the cults hierarchy.
2.) One cannot gain salvation unless he or she is a member of that cult and generally works for that cult in the line of recruitment. Cult members believe are saved by works as opposed to the biblical method of salvation of saved by grace, Ephesians 2: 8-9, "For grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
3.) They will deny the Holy Trinity and the personage of the Holy Spirit.
4.) They deny the vicarious death of Jesus Christ for the sins of mankind.
5.) They deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
This work is primarily concerned with the last cult mark: the rejection of the deity of Jesus Christ. The deity of Jesus Christ is a fundamental Christian tenet that all cults absolutely defy. The Mormons do admit to the deity of Jesus Christ, but they also admit that all faithful Mormons can also attain godhood. This is, of course, an unacceptable doctrine that annuls any Christian ties whatsoever because it embraces polytheism (the belief in many gods).
How can one accept the salvation of Jesus The Christ if they do not accept who He really is? If the Bible, God's Word, say's that Jesus is God, the second person in the Trinity, one either accepts God's Word or totally rejects it. One cannot cut up the Bible piece-meal, believe what you want and reject the rest. The God-written Holy Bible is a unit unto itself and is not meant to be dissected with scriptures tossed away at will.
In dismissing the fact that Jesus is indeed God one rejects the salvation of God because he is rejecting the only source of forgiveness and salvation. If you do not believe what the Bible say's, how can you expect to benefit from its grace?
One cult member came to the house of a Christian believer, urging the resident to join his Bible study group, the Jehovahs Witnesses. He was taken aback when the resident was adamant and stated, "We totally believe in the deity of Jesus Christ and we will not compromise on that issue! The deity of Jesus Christ is a biblical fact."
"Oh really! Where in the Bible does it say that?", the cultist asked. "I think you are misinformed."
Another answer the cults use is, "I have never found that in my Bible." or "You are interpreting the Bible wrongly. You should read what the founder of our society has to say about that." The Mormons use this last answer in order to promote the works of John Smith and Brigham young, the founders of that cult. The Jehovahs Witnesses claim that their Watchtower Society in the ONLY authority on the Bible.
The truth is they never found the scriptures that prove the deity of Jesus Christ because either they never really looked them up or they do not want to. If one of these cult members realizes the truth and accepts Jesus Christ as God and become a true Christian, they would surely be ostracized form the cult. Then the fledgling born-again Christian would soon find out that those one-time cult friends will never associate or even talk with them again. So most cult members would rather deny Christ and His deity, rather than deny the false tenets of that cult. That makes the cult leaders very happy and probably richer. Most cults demand money from their members.
The Jehovahs Witnesses has gone so far as to change John 1: 1 of the Bible, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" to read, "...and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. In other words, Jesus Christ, the Word, is a lesser god than the one true God. But now, they have more than one God, and that is polytheism."
They justify this illegitimate and outrageous adulteration of the Bible by pointing out that the Bible mentions that there are other gods. They are referring to biblical verses in Psalm 82:1, "God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods" and again in Psalm 82:6, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High." They tend to omit the rest of the verse, "But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." Psalm 82 is a prayer for righteous judgement. There is only one God and the Holy Spirit who authored the Bible knows this absolute fact when he inspired David to write this Psalm. David laments that because he sees the wicked apparently getting away with all sorts of evil works, yet God seemingly shows partiality to the wicked. He is saying, "God, you are the Almighty Judge who stands among the mighty and even if there were other gods, your judgement would easily superceded anything they may say." In verse 6-7 David goes on to say that the gods he mentions shall die like men, "And fall like one of the princes."
Obviously, David did not consider these gods to be equal with the Supreme Being God Almighty, but apparently the cult in question assumes that David believed in more than one God or else how can that cult use the term "a god" to apply to Jesus Christ. If David did indeed believe in a polytheistic system of gods, he could not have been called by God Himself as a man after God's own heart: I Samuel 13: 14, "But now thy (King Saul) kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart..." That man was King David.
The New Testament referral to Psalm 82 is in the tenth chapter of John, starting at verse 30, "I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, maketh thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I (David) said, Ye are gods? If he (David) called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, (Jesus) whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"
Jesus questioned the logic of the Jews at the temple in Solomon's porch. Considering all the prophesies that Jesus had fulfilled, the Jews should have know exactly who he was. In other words Jesus say's, "Even in your law, David called certain people gods. Why then are you calling me a blasphemer because I make myself God? Do you not know that I am indeed God? (Son of God which is the same thing)."
This cult goes on to insist that:
1.) Jesus was created and that the term "First born", even when it applies to Jesus Christ, means first came into existence as a human and was not always alive.
2.) If Jesus was God how could he have died?
3.) If Jesus was God, he could not have run the world if he was dead.
Answer to 1.) John "...All things were made by him (Jesus); and without
him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:10 "He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." It is very obvious that although they are the same person, it was Jesus Christ the Son of God and not Jesus, the man of Nazareth who was born at Bethlehem, was in existence long before there even was anything in the universe; before there was the planet Earth, and certainly before Adam was created. Incidentally, Adam was created by Jesus as testified by the previous two verses in John, Chapter I.
Answer to 2.) The answer conflicts with this cult's belief that once the body is dead the soul and the spirit is dead also. It is not a Christian belief that the soul and spirit dies when the body dies, because of the ample proof offered in the Bible itself. The fact is that although the body of Jesus died the moment He commended His Spirit into the hands of the Father. Note the word spirit, (pneuma in the Greek) can be translated to mean breath of air, it is also used to mean the spirit as in the spirit that is mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12:7, "Then shall the dust (dead man's body) return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." It would be very unlikely the Jesus meant to leave his breath in the hands of God the Father. Rather, because of where Jesus was going, he meant to say, "Father, I am leaving my spirit, my true being, in your hands." Where was the Spirit of Jesus when His body was in the tomb?
Acts 2: 27 tells us that the soul of Jesus was temporarily in hell. "...because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption..." Acts 2: 31, "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption." The Greek word for "soul" is (psuche) and again it can mean breath, but in this case it meant spirit because how does one leave his breath in hell? Was the soul of Jesus dead? If not, as the Bible teaches, what was Jesus Christ doing at the time? The answer is in Ephesians 4: 8-10, "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he lead captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." A verification of this event is noted in Matthew 27: 52, "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose..." Notice that it said that the bodies of the saints which slept. The question is: what was leading captivity captive and who was responsible for opening the graves of many saints? The breath or the living Spirit of Jesus Christ.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man is in Luke, chapter 16, starting at verse 19. Some refer this story as only a parable. The fact is that Jesus never used personal names in a parable. Also, Jesus said, "There was a certain rich man..." In the story the beggar Lazarus and the rich man died and Lazarus went to Abrahams bosom, which was the Hebrews way of saying "paradise", and the rich man went to hell, or in the Greek, Hades.
No doubt, the spirit of Lazarus was led into an eternal heaven by Jesus Christ, and the spirit of rich man stayed in torment; and he is still there awaiting the time of the end and everlasting shame, Daniel 12: 2, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life (an eternity with God), and some to everlasting shame and everlasting contempt (An eternity without God)."
Answer to 3.) The answer to the third question is another truth that this and all other cults reject: the Holy Trinity. There is no way the we as humans can possibly understand the Trinity, but God does not ask us to understand, only believe.
Deuteronomy 6: 4, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
John 6: 27, "...which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." GOD THE FATHER
John 1: 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." GOD THE SON
Acts 5: 3,4, "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? While 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."
Obviously, Peter believed that the Holy Spirit was indeed, GOD.
(John 16:7 - 15 the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the male personal pronoun he, him, or himself 13 times. GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
SON OF GOD
Cults have another hang-up and that is in the phrase "Son of God". The term "Son" used in the case of Jesus, the Son of God, has nothing to do with the God the Father deciding one day to sire a child (Jesus Christ) and that child is His son, became a lesser being. Anytime the term "Son" is used in conjunction with Jesus Christ and God the Father it means a positional term. God the Father is higher in the order of the Holy Trinity than God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. One of the terms used to describe Jesus Christ is "Firstborn". Firstborn, prototokos, can indeed mean to describe the child who was born first, but it also means "foremost (in time, place, order or importance): before, beginning, best, chief, first of all".
Jesus of Nazareth was indeed born of a virgin woman, but it was Christ, second person of the Holy Trinity who came down to earth, took the form of mortal man, died for the sins of all mankind, and arose again from the dead. Also, if Jesus was not actually God in the flesh as in I Timothy 3: 16, "... God was manifest in the flesh..." and Romans 8: 3, "...God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh...", Jesus Christ would not have been able to pay for His own sins on the cross let alone the sins of all humanity.
ONLY THE FATHER KNOWS
Only God the Father knows when the end will come. The Son of God, Jesus, said that the end of this world system is known to God the Father only and not the Son. This the cults take as meaning Jesus Christ could not be God because being God, Jesus would know when the end shall occur.
In Mark 13: 32, Jesus say's "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."
It is probable that Jesus did not want to let His followers know for sure that he was God incarnate. The Jews believed that if you looked upon the actual Being of God you perished. And even if one did not die, that person would certainly shy away from the presence of God because of sin or the feeling of unworthiness. Jesus would have had few followers indeed, if any. Also, if he informed them that He was God in the flesh, the they would not have needed to have faith to receive Him. Hebrews 11: 6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him (God)..." The world would certainly find out about the deity of Jesus Christ after the Resurrection and the documentation of the subsequent epistles written into the Bible.
The Apostles were only allowed to know certain facts about Jesus Christ, and these facts were given by God the Father through the Holy Spirit. Matthew 16: 16, Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." This information was given to Peter by God, Matthew 16: 17, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." After all, Peter was just a fisherman and not a scholar of the scriptures. How could Peter have known that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God unless the Spirit of God told him.
On the other hand, the Pharisees and the Scribes should have known that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. They knew, and for the most part, understood the scriptures. There were at least 200 prophesies concerning the first coming of the Messiah, so when Jesus began fulfilling those prophesies they should have been aware that the Messiah had come. Yet, they denied the very one whom the scriptures were talking about.
The Jews well understood that Jesus was claiming deity when he made this same remark, John 10: 33, "The Jews answered... because thou, being a man, maketh thyself God." Notice that Jesus did not dispute the accusation of the Jews. In fact, He amplified His claim by answering the Jews in verses 37-38, "If I do not the works of my Father believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." So obviously, Peter must have understood Jesus to be God in order to have made his famous confession. In fact, no where in the Bible does Jesus Christ deny His deity.
Some events in the Gospels displayed the growth of Jesus the Man: he hungered, he slept, he suffered pain. But there are many other incidents that explained that Jesus Christ was God, to name a few: Jesus Christ predicted Peters' betrayal, fall of the temple, what the end times would be like (Matthew 24). Jesus also knew what men were thinking, Matthew 9: 4, e.g. "And Jesus knowing their thoughts said..." He knew quite a bit about the woman at the well, John 4: 29, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that I ever did: is this not the Christ?"
Jesus Christ divested Himself of deity to become a man, II Corinthians 8: 9, "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Jesus the man also had to learn wisdom, Luke 2: 52, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."
There is no doubt that when Jesus was with the Father before the beginning of the world, he did know the entire future including the day of the end. It would be foolish to reject all the many scriptures concerning the deity of Jesus Christ only because He, as a man, did not know the day this world would end.
No other being, whether human or spirit, had the unique position the Jesus Christ had. We as humans do not have the understanding to this mystery as to how God could have been human and yet God, but in the Holy City of Heaven, God will make this known to us.
GOD AND REASONING
Some cults believe that they can fully understand the nature of God, and therefore understand that Jesus Christ cannot be God. That would be like a tiny ant attempting to understand a giant super-computer and all its electronics, programming, engineering, and logic. The cult uses a verse in Isaiah chapter 1 to explain their claim. In Isaiah 1:18 it says, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." The cult preaches that this verse allows us to completely fathom the entire constitution of God. But this verse in no way implies that we as humans are allowed to understand all the aspects of Almighty God. All God is saying here is that God can forgive sins and make them as though those sins were never there. God is saying, "Let us be reasonable!" Nothing in this verse indicates the Holy nature of God or the mysteries involved with Him. Consider Isaiah 55: 8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." God is making the statement that in no way can humans comprehend God and His mind.
Further proof of Gods impenetrable intellect is in Romans 11: 34-36,"For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever, Amen." One does not have to understand God, the deity of Jesus Christ, or the Holy Trinity in order to attain salvation. In fact, Jesus says that we must become as little children in their humility and faith, Matthew 18, 3-4, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."