Some churches teach that a cult is defined by small size, a definition which eliminates all tiny gatherings completely. Another definition, gaining some popularity today among rabid fundamentalists, brands the Roman Catholic church (which houses about 70% of the world's Christians) a cult, a rather ludicrous claim.
But the true definition is cemented in the Gospel. A church is transformed into a cult, not by size, but by its rejection of Christ's Gospel teachings.
Filled with fear and driven by hatred themselves, cults always teach that God hates most people who call themselves Christian. This puts them at war with the Body -- with almost all the other churches.
Cults harbor little love for mankind. This is why they are often found holed up in secretive enclaves hiding out somewhere. They love each other, but they hate everyone else.
Ruled by fear and paranoia, cults often stockpile weapons to protect themselves against their many enemies. Where the churches of Jesus Christ always reach out into the world community to help the downtrodden and the poor, cults shun the rest of the world except to broadcast their hate tracts, withdrawing into tightly-knit clusters designed only to help themselves.
Cults, then, are diametrically opposed to the message the Holy Spirit has spent the last 2000 years sowing on this earth. Instead, they preach the same message Satan tried for so long to sell to God: that most people who worship God are intrinsically evil. (Job 1:9).
Up to now, such doctrines of hate and fear regarding worship have not been widely shared. Although a few of these groups are very vocal and have made their views known throughout the world, as far as Christianity in general is concerned, they constitute only small groups of dissidents, forming just a tiny fraction of the world's religious body.
It was to protect the developing Church from the preaching of such cults that the early disciples of Christ drew up the two creeds whose tenants most churches have been founded on (see Apostle's Creed).
For as long as these two creeds governed the churches such doctrines of hate and fear regarding worship were easily combated. But now, with churches increasingly being formed outside of these creeds, the cults have been able to edge in with them and for this reason, constitute a small, but growing threat to true worship.
The Bible teaches that Satan will come to militarize the world, mobilizing it for war. (Rev.20:7-8). Since a great many cults are like-minded they are in step with Satan's plan. They tend to view warfare in the vengeance of a Jihad, or holy war, rather than simply secular combat, but the spirit driving them is the same.
Any 'church' that stockpiles guns and weapons, or encourages its members to do so is not of Christ. See Matthew Chapter 5. The same is true of hatred. The apostle John taught that if we do not love people, we do not love God. That is why Jesus told us that we must pray for our enemies and be kind to those who are still embraced by the chains of Satan.
Jesus warned, "You will know them by their fruits." (Mt.7:16). And he made it easy. Ministers are witnesses, they are not intermediaries or teachers. (Mt.23:8-10). Jesus is the only teacher God has given us. We should follow no one else.
Salvation comes only from the words of Jesus Christ. Salvation does not come from any church or minister or prophet. It does not come from theology. It does not come from church laws or rules.
When Jesus told us to follow him, he was not telling us to follow someone who talks about him or who claims to have inside knowledge of him.
'The Clock of God', Chapter 15, 'The Seven Churches'
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