The primary requirement of a teacher of the Word, is to be steadfast in the doctrine taught initially by Jesus & the apostles.
Acts 2:42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. “,
“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” Titus 2:1
Jesus is the only way to the Father.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14: 6).
The truth, the path, or light, is not a philosophy, an organization, a brotherhood, a religion, nor a denomination but a person, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God, the only Christ, (any other Christ is false) , He is not the one carrying the light, or the one who shows the door or shows the way, but He is the light of the world (John 8:12), He is the door we enter to be saved (John 10: 7-10), He is the truth, the only way to the Father & the only one who can give us life (John 14: 6). If Jesus is the truth, to know HIM is to know “the truth” and this is the purpose of biblical doctrine, to come to faith & knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4: 13-15). We understand that if we know the Son we also know the Father (John 14: 7).
The Holy Spirit will point us to Jesus “even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” John 15:26. A church that have the true Christian faith will always point you to Jesus & His Word for salvation, (nor their denomination, their founder’s interpretations, nor their books), their teachings must agree with God’s Word. If you find contradictions with what they teach & the fundamental doctrines of the Bible, then something is wrong.
” Whosoever transgresseth (G3845 = depart, leave), and abideth(G3306 = remain, stay, continue) not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 1:9-11 .
Our salvation depends on having faith in the true Jesus of the Scriptures & in remaining in Him, His doctrine (teachings), (John 15: 4-7a) He is life, we depend on Him to live!
If we believe the Word of God is true, then false doctrines are those teachings which contradict the Bible. There is a lot of sincere and God loving people being confuse & deceive by false doctrines, if we get the opportunity to talk to them let us make sure we do it out of love and not because we are trying to win an argument. We work to glorify God, not ourselves. As the Lord leads please pray for them.
A pseudo-Christian religion is a group of people who follow a leader (group of leaders, organization) who, while claiming to be Christians and teach true Christian doctrine, actually distorts and denies fundamental and distinctive doctrines of the Christian faith..” – Kevin James Bywater, ex-Mormon
One doctrinal error usually causes the result of other errors, like a snowball effect. I have seen this uncountable times in groups like Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons & other cults, that driven by a doctrinal error then try to prove it with the Scriptures, but as a consequence they will always find other bible verses that contradict their error, so they have to twist Scriptures or take verses out of context to prove their point, but eventually they always get into a dead end with one or more bible verses they cannot explain. When this happen they will always brushed off by saying: You don’t know well our doctrine, we are the only ones with the truth, it’s a mystery, God cannot be questioned, etc.
Some characteristic that help us distinguish cults or cultish organizations (that claim to be Christians) are:
- They claim to have the “Truth” or ‘New Revelations‘ and point to themselves or their organization, as the only sure way to achieve salvation and eternal life. If you are not a member of their organization them you are not truly saved. Any person or organization that points to themselves for salvation instead of always pointing to Jesus Christ, is taking the place that belongs to Christ & is operating in the spirit of Antichrist. (I’m not saying they are the Antichrist). Antichrist means acting in place of (or against) Christ.
- They change the Gospel of Christ, teaching a Gospel (or good news) different from the Scriptures.
- They twist the Scriptures and use bible verses out of context. These groups teaching false doctrines often remove or add to the Scriptures to excuse their teachings, or even make their own bible versions.
- There is usually a central personality (a leader or group of leaders), typically a founder who has a strong influence over the members, even years after his death.
- They may sound Christian, use Christian terminology, but put different meanings into the words (semantics). This is how they trap people. For example words like, salvation, Jesus, faith, grace, gospel, etc., may have very different meanings than those being used historically by orthodox Christianity.
- One of their tactics is to control information to protect their reputation, control members, etc. They also withhold information or some aspects of their distinctive theology until you are well indoctrinated.
- They have a different interpretation of God, a different Holy Spirit or a different Jesus than the one known of the historic Christian faith. They change God’s character or attributes.
- They teach that salvation besides Jesus sacrifice is also by your good works or by having their knowledge (truth). But the Bible teaches that salvation is by faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Every cult develop their own system of obedience that the member must follow in order to have assurance they are going to heaven.
- Pseudo-Christian cults use the Bible as one of their source texts. But the doctrine they emphasize is found mainly in other materials—books or catechisms—published by their own group, as the last word in biblical interpretation. When you study these other works, you will find that they conflict with the Bible in key areas. (A basic law of logic says that if two things contradict each other, both cannot be true.)
- Some of them e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Apostolic Reformation, Hebrew Roots Movements, etc. have their own version of the Bible designed to mislead the reader and conform them to their pre-conceived theological ideas. Others have simply chosen to deny the authority of Scripture, choosing what to believe is true and discard or ignore what they don’t like or contradict them.
- When they are confronted with their doctrinal errors, they don’t use the Word of God to defend it or support it, but often attack the personality, live or works of the person showing the error.
- Another characteristic is control over their followers. They normally put pressure on their members to stay in their organization. They may teach, for example, that to leave their church means going back to the world, or condemns the person. In most cases, when leaving the church also they prohibit contact with your own family and friends that stay with their group. They practice shunning & disfellowshipping. Jehovah Witness, Mormons & others are examples of this.
- They encourage reading only books and religious materials published by their group & to avoid other readings. This is a tactic for mind control.
- Also encourage their members to socialize only with members of their group (their new family), creating an isolation where the members feel safe & protected. They teach & twist bible verses like Luke 14:26, etc.
- They use members for personal gain or to advance the leaders goals.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 Corinthians 11:3–4, 13–15
A pseudo-Christian religion doesn’t have to be a small group or sect, but can also be a big group or denomination, Their main characteristic is that they teach true Christian doctrine, but distort and deny fundamental and distinctive doctrines of the Christian faith., they mix truth & errors. Catholics for example teach salvation through Jesus the son of God (truth) but also add as necessary works for salvation, like the Sacraments, etc. (errors).
The Bible teaches that we are born again by hearing & believing the Gospel of Salvation, the Word of God, not the doctrine of men. (Eph. 1:13, Jn 5:25, John 20:31; John 3:16, Rom.5:1, Rom. 10:9, 1 Pt 1:23-25, etc.). That’s why it is so important to study our Bibles and compare every teaching, (even the ones found in this blog) to the light of the Scriptures.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 1 Peter 1:23
It is a terrible thing when our teachings or interpretations ‘about God’, become more important than God Himself.
-Should we stay silent about doctrinal errors for the sake of “unity”?
Our unity should be centered in Jesus Christ, not our ideas. We should not have unity at expenses of truth, it would be a fake unity anyway. We must speak the truth in love (Eph.4:14-16), but always keeping in mind that love separated from God’s truth is apostasy. I heard once from a pastor, that ‘real truth is loving, and real love is truthful. We cannot separate the two.’
– Where to draw the line?
- As a general guide, if a teaching or doctrine results in the diminishing, adding, twisting, or in a different Gospel of Salvation, than the one found in the Scriptures, we must not compromise. Also if a teaching causes a distorting of God’s character or His attributes then we must speak out. Likewise if there is any doctrine or teaching that seeks to put believers under the Mosaic law or under a yoke of bondage, or persuading us to go after doctrine of men, idols (idolatry) or to disobey God, we must speak out, respectfully, in love, ( because everything must be done out of love for them) but we should avoid those teachers. (Romans16:17-18). (1) See more: A final Warning – Beware of False Teachers.
(The following links are not endorsements, we may have some doctrinal differences with them, but we consider the authors of these links brothers in Christ ).
How to Hate Your Wife- Luke 14, Pastor R. Deffinbaugh
A Cultish Side of Calvinism, -Pastor M. Coate