I have been studying and teaching Bible doctrine for over 48 years and the shepherding teacher for home based Churches. Sola Scriptura
How Can One Discern, Who Are the Wolves?
False Doctrines Lead to Very Discernable Traits.
Most people when they think of a wolf in sheep’s clothing; think that it solely concerns doctrinal issues. Most cults have well laid out defenses of the scriptures they hold dear and to keep their people in line. It is the personality of the cult that should be our first warning.
It really is a personality disorder due to the fact that the Word cannot be spiritually discerned and thus they create their own belief system. The tell tale signs of a cult are intolerance, despising examination, false unity, charts/graphics/publications, music, rites, days to name a few and the clincher - the leadership is never wrong and rules the roost.
Caveat: a gathering of true believers should: have an intolerance for sin in their own lives; welcome self-examination as that is how one grows in the Word; a heart that seeks unity around the scriptures; charts, etc. as teaching aids but never as a manual; music that glorifies God; rites without becoming rote or legalistic; or no specific day being more holy than another. To a true Christian, it is Christ that must be first and foremost, owing no preference to any man over their Lord and Savior.
One's Traits Will Always Surface, One Way or Another.
Personality Traits That Are Very Evident.
- Intolerance - first and foremost, they proffer that they are the only true church and the only path to heaven. Their doctrines are set in stone with zero ‘tolerance’ for deviating from the path they teach and preach. This also goes for their own followers should they step out of line, for salvation can only be achieved by being true to their church to the end. Salvation is much akin to a roller coaster; in one day out the next.
- Despising Examination - should one question their doctrines; immediately a wall is erected and the wagons are circled with what I deem as the Tom Smothers defense. For those who have no idea who Tom Smothers is; he was part of a comedy team with his brother Dick. Tom played the stooge while Dick played the straight part of the act. When Dick would get the upper hand in the routine; Tom’s standard reply would be ‘Oh Yah - mom always liked you best.’ The cult’s reply will always go back to their doctrine and almost never with any exegesis of the Word for their defense. It is impossible to properly defend themselves as they have no living knowledge of the Word.
- False Unity - much like circling the wagons as they become totally inward, for it is hard work to keep everyone in tow. They want NO unity with other churches as they deem them as being of the Devil. Their fellowship is limited to their own for fear of losing their salvation.
- Charts/Graphics/Publications - also known as ‘User Manuals’ and ‘Quick Reference Guides’ and very cult specific, to arm their minions for the defense of their doctrine and for proselytizing. This way no one really needs to study the Word as it keeps things simple, easy to memorize, the tools and equips everyone with a ready ‘come-back’ to any who should question their beliefs. Their extremely controlling doctrine is similar to the stone tablets of the Law given to Moses.
- Music - is a very controlled environment from the use of instruments being anathema, to only certain specific instruments or only church approved songs or hymns … that very carefully support their doctrine.
- Rites - in particular communion and baptism. Communion must be observed weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually, along with prescribed elements for it to be acceptable. Baptisms must be performed within their jurisdiction by the proper authorities or one’s baptism is invalid. Their baptism becomes paramount to the congregation for in it hangs one’s salvation. Without these rites as prescribed, as far as they are concerned, Christ’s work on the cross is negated.
- Days - the legalists will prescribe a specific day of the week as being the ONLY acceptable day of worship AND claim that any opposed to their doctrine are heretics.
- Leadership - their words have greater influence than the Bible. During the days when our Lord trod the nation of Israel preaching the Kingdom, the words of the rabbis carried more weight with the Levites and the people, than did the Torah itself. They love to quote their founding fathers, and heroes of their ‘faith’, for these are words of life to their followers. There is nothing new under the sun.
We Must Be About Contending for the Gospel.
Why We Must Contend.
Jude 3 - ‘We are to contend for the Gospel, once delivered …’. As one who considers himself a Sola Scriptura follower of Christ, I believe dealing with the cults has three main objectives.
- Never approach them with the Tom Smothers’ method of retort, but with the logic of the scriptures themselves with attention to grammar, Greek or Hebrew as necessary but not too overly erudite as to lose the audience. A cult that is misleading souls purposefully must be dealt with firmly; no beating around the bush but directly addressing the false doctrine with the Word simply presented.
- Though a single person may be the instigator of the media article or post, many of those who follow them and are of the same persuasion, could possibly be ‘listening’ in on the written conversation. The purpose is to cause any and all who may have chimed in to ‘think’ for themselves and thereby the real Gospel may take hold in one of their followers’ lives. Our call is not to beat another to death with the Truth but to make the Truth known and let God do the work.
- The third and very important objective found in 1 Timothy 4:1-6 which concludes with: ‘If thou [pastor, teacher] put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ…’ Not only are their fellow cultists reading these posts, but many born-again believers are also looking in and are receiving instructions in righteousness; learning also to contend for the Gospel once delivered. For the past year or so, I have been using their posts and my replies to these posts as teaching tools as to how to use the Word to contend their faith. It has turned out to be one of the most important uses of our time together in practical application of the Word, for not only themselves but to a lost world also. The more the Word permeates your being, the more you desire others to see the Truth, not for arguments sake, but for eternity’s sake.