To listen to Nancy’s answer recorded from Moody radio, click below.
A counterfeit Christian religion is a religious group that claims to be Christian but is not! Five thousand of these counterfeit groups of people in the United States meet the definition of a cult but identify themselves as Christians.
The primary markings of a cult are: a strong leader who has followers who must obey, requires the study of books other than the Bible with truths that supersede the Bible, calls their church the only true church, impose massive control over people, and if someone leaves, members must shun them. Cults are led by a leader who claims that God uniquely calls them with unique insights that no other leader has been given. Some cults comprise only a few people, while others are so large that they have become a household word.
Needless to say, we should be cautious in joining any religious group that claims to be Christian. Not all of the characteristics of cults are necessary to be a cult. If any one of them is believed and practiced by a religious group, it should serve as a strong warning to stay away from them.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
The two most common teachings of Christian cults are that Jesus is not God and that salvation is not by faith alone but rather by works. There is absolutely no security of salvation for any cult member. Regarding Jesus’ death and resurrection: either it did not happen or, if it did, it was insufficient to pay for our sins.
“that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” ((John 3:15,16).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Today’s two most well-known examples of cults are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons. Both groups claim to be Christian, yet both deny the deity of Christ and salvation by faith alone. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe many things that are in agreement with or similar to what the Bible teaches. This acknowledgment is what makes “Christian cults” so dangerous. They sound religious enough to deceive people into thinking their way is the only way. Many religious Christians, who once acknowledged Jesus as their Savior but do not clearly understand the gospel, are sitting ducks for these insidious cults. These cults will claim to have the only truth and that Bible-believing Christians lack knowledge. They do not hold back in criticizing Bible-believing churches and true Christian believers.
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).
“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1)
Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is God is not a faithful Christian. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus did not say, “I am a way.” We do not read of Christ proclaiming, “I am one of many ways.” Yes, there is exclusivity in Jesus’ claim, but Christ invites all to believe. All people have a choice: we must either take Him at His word, or reject Him.
The Jehovah Witnesses’ Bible rejects Jesus’ claim to be the One True God. In their bible translation, John 1:1 reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god” John 1:1, New World Translation.
The Mormon doctrine sounds Christian, but it is nothing but a lie. For example, The Mormon will say, “Jesus Christ is God,” meaning that Jesus Christ is a god, one of possibly billions of gods. Mormons are also forbidden to worship or pray to Jesus.
Muhammad, Confucius, the Dalai Lama, Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, and legions of other voices vying for the world’s attention do not speak with the authority of Christ Jesus. Each of these persons proclaims another way to God, but the roads paved by their teachings lead not to God but to God’s eternal judgment.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).
C. S. Lewis. “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity, 1952, p. 55–56).
Jesus came to save the world through His death and resurrection. Apart from Him, there is no salvation, only judgment: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:18–19).