“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" Matthew 7:21-23
For every Christian, this should be the single most frightening passage in the entire Bible for you. Not only for yourself, but for anyone in your life who professes faith in Christ.
There is a counterfeit for everything that has ever existed. Some are obvious to detect, but some are very cleverly veiled. Those are the ones that are the most dangerous, because they can operate in plain sight for quite some time before getting caught.
Christianity has had its fair share of counterfeiters since the beginning. From the Gnostics in the 2nd century to the Mormons or the thousands of New Agers that exist today, they are all nothing less than cults and are very dangerous to the truth.
The reason they're dangerous is because they lure you in to worship someone, or something other than God. Of course they'll never tell you you're worshiping a false god. Why would they tell you? What's the 1st Commandment? "You shall have no other gods before Me..." (Exodus 20:3) God gave that command for a reason. Only God provides salvation, and it's only through Christ. Anything and everything else is false, plain and simple.
So how do we identify these false groups? Well, the best way to identify counterfeits is to have thorough knowledge of the authentic. So make sure your understanding of true Christian teaching is being exercised regularly so you can discern when something doesn't line up with Scripture. In a future post, I'll make a more detailed side-by-side comparison between Christianity and some of its biggest counterfeiters. For now, here's a few "buzz words" and characteristics associated with certain large cult groups.
Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, Outer Darkness, the missionaries usually dress in white button-down shirts with black ties, avoids alcohol and caffeine- Mormons
Kingdom Hall, Watchtower, New World Translation bible, refers to the afterlife as "The Kingdom," obsessed with God's name being Jehovah, knocking on your door, avoids alcohol and caffeine- Jehovah's Witness
Ellen White, Ellen Harmon, Ellen Gold (all the same person) William Miller, the Sabbath, goes to church on Saturday, doesn't work from Friday night to Saturday night, vegan, soul sleep, Great Controversy- 7th Day Adventists.
If you're not sure how to draw out these key buzz words, simply use the "2minutes to live" street test. It goes as follows:
"Let's pretend that I have only 2 minutes to live. I've been a terrible person my whole life and I'm scared about what's going to happen to me after I die. What do I do?"
Keep in mind Luke 23:42-43 because no other religion or counterfeit of Christianity will be able to give you an answer beyond, "Well, sorry about your luck, maybe you'll make it into a better place..."
Now that you've identified that they're fake, now to deal with them accordingly. There are 4 approaches you can use.
1) Shock and Awe- This is when you get their attention by saying something really crazy like, "What if I told you that you were going to end up in Outer Darkness?" It's not likely that a Mormon has ever been told this, therefore he/she will be rather curious to listen to you. This should only be to start the conversation, don't continue going crazy on them because you'll end up nowhere with them.
2) The Scriptural Approach- This is for the methodical and academic Christian who has a lot of time to compare Scripture side-by-side with the false teachings of the other group. This can be tricky because these groups are generally trained to counter a lot of the Scriptures you show them, so be patient and make sure you have time to finish. Also, it's a good idea to have a good partner in on this to keep things moving while the other looks up passages. Teamwork is a must!
3) The Historical Approach- At least for Jehovah's Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists and even Mormons, there is a history of failed prophetic predictions in their group's history. With the simple passage of Deuteronomy 18:20-22 in mind and on hand, show them the consequences of false prophetic predictions. Proceed to ask them about certain claims their organization has made in the past and watch the gears begin to turn in their heads. These people will faithfully follow their organization simply because they claim to have the word of god. However, the Word of God never fails, therefore, one who has failed predictions does not carry the Word of God. This will make them uncomfortable, but it's likely to make them think.
4) The Devotional Approach- This is when you become a good friend to these people and show them what Christ has done in your life. These organizations all have one thing in common: they can't have the same kind of relationship with Jesus that you have. Make them jealous for what you have. Show them true peace that passes understanding. This may take a while, but be patient and pray for them a lot.
Remember, people who are trapped in cults are still people. Treat them the way you want to be treated, otherwise they may not want to leave just because you're a jerk. Leaving isn't easy for most of these groups, usually they're shunned and even driven out of town. They fear losing everything, so they won't just leave at the drop of a hat.
Also remember, just because they don't want to go that easily doesn't mean they're unsaveable. God is mighty to save, so share the Gospel with them and pray for them, let God do the rest!
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one."