Changes Cults Make To Biblical Faith

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If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!

Note: This document was originally prepared as a handout for courses that were taught either in a Christian seminary or in Christian churches. The vocabulary is therefore primarily geared toward that specific audience. Since Messianic Judaism as a group has no formal, detailed doctrinal position, it is difficult to speak about cults from a purely “Messianic Jewish” perspective. However, based on the types of changes discussed on this page, from the perspective of both First Century and Twenty-First Messianic Judaism, Christianity is a cult.

Scripture quotations are from the Complete Jewish Bible. Copyright 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Changes Cults Make to the Biblical Faith [SOURCE]

Changes in Authority

Changes in the Concept of Messiah

Changes in the Concept of God

Changes in the Concept of the Ruach HaKodesh

Changes in the Concept of Salvation

Changes in the Doctrine of Man

Changes in the Bible

Changes in Authority

The primary authority for the Messianic Believer is God: the God who has revealed Himself in the Living Word (Yeshua), in the written Word (the Bible), and in the inner Word (Ruach HaKodesh).[1] Cult groups modify this concept to their founder and his/her descendants. For example, revelation frequently comes from the Mormon leadership (the First Presidency) that supersedes both the Bible and the Mormon “scriptures” (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price). Christian Science and Jehovah’s Witness doctrine and church activity is controlled by materials produced in their headquarters. Seventh-Day Adventists derive their authority from the writings of Ellen G. White. Traditional Judaism and some Messianic Jewish congregations accept the Oral Tradition (the Talmud) as authoritative. The Roman Catholic Church places Papal authority above that of the Scriptures, and nearly all Protestant denominations acquiese to that Papal authority in the observance of Christmas, Easter, the Eucharist (or communion), and Sunday worship (instead of the Biblical observance of Sukkot, First Fruits, the Passover seder, and the seventh-day Sabbath).

First of all, understand this: no prophecy of Scripture is to be interpreted by an individual on his own; for never has a prophecy come as a result of human willing — on the contrary, people moved by the Ruach HaKodesh spoke a message from God. (2Pet. 1:20-21)

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Changes in the Concept of Messiah

Because Messiah (or “Christ”) is central to true Biblical faith, a cult will modify their approach to Him in some way, in effect creating “another Messiah/Christ” For example:

  • The “Christ” of Jehovah’s Witnesses is Michael the Archangel, the first created being, not God Himself.

  • The “Christ” of the Unitarians was the finest human being, but certainly not divine.

  • The “Christ” of the Religious Science groups is no more divine than all the rest of us.

  • The “Christ” of the Mormons is the spirit brother of Lucifer, was conceived from an incestuous sexual relationship between Elohim (their “Heavenly Father”) and Mary (one of his spirit daughters), and was married to at least three women (Mary and Martha of Bethany and Mary of Magdala).

 • The “Christ” of Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and the Word of Faith movement is the world’s greatest failure: nothing more than a skilled “magician” who learned to control the elements by learning to use his “word of faith,” who was defeated by Satan, became a sinner, was sentenced to hell to be punished, and who is no more divine than all the rest of us gods.

 • The “Christ” of the Christian Church is the “Gentile God of Grace” (but most Christians cannot explain how or when the man “Jesus” came to be deity) who exists separately and distinctly from his Father, the fierce desert God of the “Old Testament” who gave mankind such a budensom set of rules and regulations that nobody could possibly obey them. As a man, He routinely violated God’s Torah, taught others to do so, and ultimately “nailed the Law (Torah) to His cross.” He set aside the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and started a new religion called “Christianity.” To anyone who simply acknowledges the historical fact of his atoning self-sacrifice, He offers a “get our of hell free pass” with absolutely no responsibility to live according to God’s standard of righteousness as defined in the Torah. He condemns to eternal damnation anyone who fails to “call on the name of Jesus” for their salvation. Because Israel rejected Him as their Messiah, he will bring seven years of intense tribulation on them before He returns in glory to establish His kingdom on earth (but he will removes “the Church” from the earth so they do not experience any part of that judgment). He has voided the “eternal covenants” that God made with Abraham Isaac, Jacob, and “their descendants forever” and transferred all of the benefits (but none of the responsibilities) of those covenants to “His Church.” Based on the definitions of true and false prophets found in the Hebrew Bible (the “Old Testament”) he is a false prophet and therefore is not qualified to be Israel’s Messiah.

At that time, if anyone says to you, “Look! Here's the Messiah!” or, “See, there he is!” — don’t believe him. There will appear false Messiahs and false prophets performing signs and wonders for the purpose, if possible, of misleading the chosen. But you, watch out! I have told you everything in advance! (Mark 13:21-23)

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Changes in the Concept of God

A basic tenet of true Biblical Faith is that there is only one indivisible God, eternally existing in three coequal, co-eternal, and indivisible divine Persons: Father (Abba), the Son (HaBen), and Ruach HaKodesh. Although the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Sacred Text, the concept is clearly taught throughout the Apostolic Writings (so-called B'rit Chadasha, Renewed Covenant, or “New Testament”) and is allowed for in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible, or so-called “Old Testament”).

  • The God of Mormonism is a exalted human being of flesh and bone, just one among billions who have successfully completed the progress of eternal progression to become gods.

  • The God of Secular Humanism is humanity.

  • The God of Christian Science is not even a personal being, but rather only an impersonal principle.

  • Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses categorically deny the Trinity.

  • Cults with Hindu roots think of God as a universal oneness.

 • Many Christians do not aprehend the true Biblical teaching about the indivisible oneness of God, and understand Him as thee separate Gods; tri-theism (three separate Gods), not monotheism (the one God of the Bible).

Sh'ma, Yisra'el! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear, Isra'el! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one] (Deut. 6:4)

Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know! (Prov. 30:4)

... and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water. (Gen. 1:2).

While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed, As He was praying, heaven was opened; the Ruach HaKodesh came down on Him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are My Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with You.” (Luke 3:21-22)

Here we see Abba, haBen, and Ruach HaKodesh all three specifically and individually identified in Scripture with the attributes of deity, and at Yeshua's immersion, all three appear to mankind at the same time. Yet nothing could be more clear from Scripture than that they are echad, one! Since human reasoning has nothing to serve as a frame of reference for this concept, the word “Trinity” was simply developed as a term that attempts to resolve the apparent dichotomy.

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Changes in the Concept of Ruach HaKodesh

Most of the “pseudo-Christian” cults — as well as many who call themselves “Christian” or “Messianic” — deny the deity, the individuality, and even the personality of Ruach HaKodesh, teaching that He has no mind, no volition, and is certainly not God, but rather only an impersonal force, like the wind, or (at best) like the Force of the George Lucas “Star Wars” stories. Still others teach that He is but one of the “avatars” or a “projection” of HaShem.

Ruach HaKodesh has the attributes of personality: intelligence, will, and emotions.

First, He has intelligence:

For the Spirit probes all things, even the profoundest depths of God. For who knows the inner workings of a person except the person’s own spirit inside him? So too no one knows the inner workings of God except God’s Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:10-11)

The attribute of knowledge, the ability to know, requires intellect or intelligence. It is not possible for an impersonal force or an avatar to “know” anything.

Then Kefa said, “Why has the Adversary so filled you heart that you lie to Ruach HaKodesh and keep back some of the money you received for the land? … You have lied not to human beings but to God!” (Acts 5:3-4)

It is only possible to lie to a person, not to an impersonal force or a “projection.” How can one lie to the wind or a radio transmission?? And Kefa (Peter), under the inspiration of Ruach HaKodesh, says that when Hananyah liked to Ruach HaKodesh he was lying to God; thus it is clear that Ruach HaKodesh is God.

Ruach HaKodesh has will/volition: He has the ability to make rational choices. Note that Scripture uses the personal pronoun: He, not it!

One and the same Spirit is at work in all these things, distributing to each person as He chooses. (1 Cor. 12:11)

Ruach HaKodesh has feelings/emotions: He can feel grief. Again note the use of the personal pronoun — Whom, not Which!

Don’t cause grief to God’s Ruach HaKodesh, for he has stamped you as his property until the day of final redemption. (Eph. 4:30)

Ruach HaKodesh is God the Creator: In the Tanakh, the words “breath” and “Spirit” are two different translations of exactly the same word: xwr (ruach). Of the 348 times ruach appears in the Tanakh, it is translated 321 times as “spirit” and only 27 times as “breath.”

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit [Ruach] of God hovered over the surface of the water. (Gen. 1:1-2)

By the word of ADONAI the heavens were made, and their whole host by a breath [ruach] of His mouth. (Psalm 33:6)

If you send out your breath [ruach], they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. (Psalm 104:30)

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Changes in the Concept of Salvation

Virtually all of the cults and religions in the world make human works an integral part (requirement) of salvation.

  • The Jehovah’s Witness is earning his salvation as he knocks on your door, but his salvation does not mean that he will go to heaven to be with God [he is not interested in being anywhere with “Christ,” because his “Christ” is not God], only that he will be allowed to live on earth forever. He also believes that the destiny of the unbeliever (anyone who is not a Witness) is not an eternal hell, but annihilation.

  • Mormons believe that their “Christ’s” death atoned for past sins only, and freed mankind to work out their own salvation through a long process of temple ceremonies, finally attaining godhood over their own planet. In fact, some sins are so serious that they must be atoned for through the shedding of the sinner’s own blood. That is why a person convicted of a capital crime in Utah has the right to request death by firing squad so that his blood may be spilled for his atonement.

  • Most cults (and a great many Christians and Messianics, unfortunately) teach that compliance with rituals and obedience to laws and rules of living are necessary for redemption.

  • Mind-oriented cults make salvation a mental activity. It involves a change in attitude and perception, not the change in relationship with God that the Bible prescribes. Man is not a sinner; therefore, he must come to perceive this and surrender himself to the “divine forces” within himself.

  • Universalists teach that eventually all persons will be saved.

... if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua is LORD (ADONAI) and trust in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be delivered. For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance. For the passage quoted says that everyone who rests his trust on Him will not be humiliated. … since everyone who calls on he name of ADONAI will be delivered. (Romans 10:9-11,13)

Please note very carefully that is not sufficient to simply acknowledge that Yeshua is Master (“lord”). The construction here indicates very clearly that it is necessary to confess several things about Yeshua:

 a. Yeshua is hwhy (YHWH), the God of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov.

(1) Instead of pronouncing the Sacred Name, hwhy (YHWH), Jews usually use either the word ADONAI, represented in most modern English translations as LORD (written in small capital letters). As an alternative to the word ADONAI, the term HaShem (“the Name”) is frequently used.

(2) In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Tanakh used during Yeshua's time, hwhy was translated Kuvrioß, pronounced Kurios. Romans 10:9 says “... if you acknowledge ... Yeshua as Kurios ...” If the the letter to the Romans had been translated into English from the original Hebrew (or possibly Aramaic) language in which was very probably written, instead of from a Greek copy of that document, that phrase most likely would have been rendered, “If you acknowledge ... Yeshua as ADONAI...”

(3) Writing about Yeshua in Romans 10:13, Rabbi Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul), under the inspiration of Ruach HaKodesh, quotes the prophet Joel: “Whoever will call upon the name of hwhy (YHWH) will be saved.”

 b. hwhy (YHWH) became a man, died, was buried, and was resurrected.

(1) The Eternal God cannot die. In order to die, He first must become a man (the doctrines of the incarnation and hypostatic union).

(2) God cannot have raised Him from the dead if He did not die. (This does away with all non-death theories of the crucifixion, such as the “swoon” theory which says that Yeshua only “fainted” on the cross and was revived by the coolness of the tomb.)

(3) God (all three Persons of the Godhead) raised Him from the dead:

(a) God the Father raised Him: “So it is to you first that God has sent His servant Who He has raised up ...” (Acts 3:26)

(b) Yeshua raised Himself: “Yeshua answered them, ‘Destroy this temple [speaking of His body], and in three days I will raise it up again.’” (John 2:19)

(c) Ruach HaKodesh raised Him: “He [Yeshua] was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit:” (1 Pet. 3:18)

Thus it can be clearly seen that it is not sufficient to simply give “lip service” to both the total deity and the total humanity of Yeshua, as well as His bodily resurrection from the dead. It must be truly believed “in your heart,” that is, in the deepest, innermost part of your being, that He is ADONAI of the Tanakh. Also notice very carefully that the Scriptures attribute the resurrection individually to Abba, HaBen, and Ruach HaKodesh, yet one of the fundamental truths of Scripture is that God is echad (one).

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Changes in the Doctrine of Man

The Bible teaches that man is made in the image of God. He was created to be righteous and to live in a harmonious relationship with his Creator, but through the sin of Adam, man fell and is now born sinful, with absolutely no power to help himself. By the grace of God and the atoning work of Yeshua HaMashiach, our Cohen HaGadol [High Priest], each individual human has a potential for a relationship with God through faith in Yeshua HaMashiach. Some cults teach that man is already divine and needs no salvation. Others think man is now human, but he can become divine if he follows their recommendations. Mormons think than man may eventually progress to become a god.

“... I have already made the charge that all people, Jews and Gentiles alike,[2] are controlled by sin. As the Torah puts it, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one! No one understands, no one seeks God, all have turned away and at the same time become useless; there is no one who shows kindness, not a a single one! Their throats are open graves, they use their tongues to deceive. Vipers’ venom is under their lips. Their mouths are full of curses and bitterness. Their feet rush to shed blood, in their ways are ruin and misery, and the way of shalom they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” (Rom. 3:9-18)

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Changes in the Bible

All cult groups misuse the Bible. Although many claim that their belief system is grounded in the Bible, none are known as Bible scholars in the wider Bible-believing world. Primarily this is due to their imposing certain biases on their study of the Scriptures.

Some add other books to the Bible and make these their authority:

 • Mormons use Bible, primarily the King James Version, “insofar as it is correctly translated,” plus the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. [Whenever the Bible contradicts their “scriptures” it is because is has been “incorrectly translated.”]

 • Moonies use Divine Principle.

 • Christian Scientists use Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

Even some Christians add other works to their source of authority:

 • Roman Catholics add the Apocrypha to the Cannon of Scripture, and hold church tradition to be of authority equal to (or even higher than) the Sacred Text.

 • Seventh Day Adventists hold the writings of their “prophet,” Ellen G. White, to be of authority equal to (or even higher than) that of the Bible.

Many Jews, both non-Messianic and Messianic, hold the Talmud to be of equal or greater authority than the Bible.

Some change the meaning of certain biblical terms to match their own beliefs. For example, to Mary Baker Eddy (the “discoverer” of Christian Science), “baptism” is always submersion in the Spirit, not immersion in water.

Many use “proof texts.” Proof-texting is the practice of deciding what you want to believe, then finding a Scripture passage to back up your preconceived opinion, even if you have to take the reference out of context. For example, Psalm 14:1 plainly says, “There is no God.”

The teachings of Armstrongism (including the “Two-House” movement), Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Word of Faith Movement, and many others (including many Messianic Jewish teachers and rabbis) are filled with examples of this improper method of Bible study.

Most Christians believe and teach that the “Law of God” (the instruction that God gave at Sinai) was done away with at the cross, and that they are not required to be obedient to God’s loving instruction.

In order to obey the mitzvot [commandments or instructions] of ADONAI your God which I am giving you, do not add to what I am saying, and do not subtract from it. … Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do it. Do not add to it or subtract from it. (Deut. 4:2; 12:32)

Every word of God’s is pure; he shields those who take refuge in him. Don’t add anything to His words; or he will rebuke you and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

Yeshua said: “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud [the smallest letter of the Hebrew alefbet] or a stroke [even the decorative flourishes on the Hebrew letters] will pass from the Torah — not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

Yeshua said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words never shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

Yeshua said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

If God gave the commandments to Moshe at Sinai, and if Yeshua is God, then Yeshua gave the commandments to Moshe at Sinai. It is therefore absolutely inescapable that the entire Torah consists of His commandments. If we love Yeshua, therefore, we will obey the entire Torah.

Yeshua said: “If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love — just as I have kept my Father’s commands and stay in his love.” (John 15:10)

I fear that somehow your minds may be seduced away from simple and pure devotion to the Messiah, just as Havah [Eve] was deceived by the serpent and his craftiness. For if someone comes and tells you about some other Yeshua than the one we told you about, or if you receive a spirit different from the one you received or accept some so-called “good news” different from the Good News you already accepted, you bear with him well enough! (2 Cor. 11:3-4)

I am astounded that you are so quick to remove yourselves from me, the one who called you by the Messiah’s grace, and turn to some other supposedly “Good News,” which is not good news at all! What is really happening is that certain people are pestering you and trying to pervert the genuine Good News of the Messiah. But even if we — or, for that matter, and angel from heaven![3] — were to announce to you some so-called “Good News” contrary to the Good News we did announce to you, let him be under a curse forever! We said it before, and I say it again: if anyone announces “Good News” contrary to what you received, let him be under a curse forever! Now does that sound as if I were trying to win human approval? No! I want God’s approval! Or that I'm trying to cater to people? If I were still doing that I would not be a servant of the Messiah. Furthermore, let me make clear to you, brothers, that the Good News as I proclaim it is not a human product; because neither did I receive it from someone else nor was I taught it — it came from a direct revelation from Yeshua the Messiah. (Gal. 1:6-12)

Your word continues forever, ADONAI, firmly fixed in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)

The main thing about your word is that it’s true; and all your just rulings last forever. (Psalm 119:160)

Yeshua said to His Father: “Set them apart for holiness by means of the truth — your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

I warn everyone hearing the words of the prophecy in this book that if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues written in this book. And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the Tree of Life and the holy city, as described in this book. (Rev. 22:18-19)

Refer to the section titled “Essentials of Biblical Interpretation” for more information on the proper handling of God’s written Word.

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  [1] Ruach (pronounced roo-ahk) is the Hebrew word that is translated as either spirit or breath. Of the 348 times ruach appears in the Tanakh, it is translated 321 times as “spirit” and only 27 times as “breath.” HaKodesh literally translates as “the Holy One.” [RETURN]

  [2] As far as the Scriptures are is concerned, there are only three classes of mankind: Yehudim (Jews), Goyim (Gentiles), and Yisra'el (Israel). The category Yehudim includes all those who are physical descendants of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov. All of humanity who are not Yehudim are by default Goyim. The classification Yisra'el includes all Yehudim and Goyim who, like Father Avraham, “believe Adonai and it is counted to them as righteousness.” To Yisra'el belong all the promises of the Covenants. Goyim who acknowledge Yeshua HaMashiach as Israel's Messiah and trust Him as their Personal Savior based on the promises of the Covenants are “adopted” or “grafted in” to Yisra'el, and are therefore entitled to fully share and participate in the God, the People, the Land, the Torah, and the Covenants that belong to Yisra'el. [RETURN]

  [3] This is exactly what the Mormons claim, that the “angel” Moroni delivered to Joseph Smith “some so-called ‘Good News’ contrary to the Good News we [the Shliachim (Apostles)] did announce to you.” Rabbi Sha'ul says that Moroni, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young will “be under a curse forever!” (Mohammed claimed to have receivedthe Qur'an from the angel Gabriel.) [RETURN]

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