When God wrote the words, “So you are My witnesses” (Isaiah 43:12, CSB) He was speaking to the people of the Old Testament era. In this section of Isaiah, He challenges the false gods to stand trial. They fail to meet the test. When He calls forth His own witnesses they are able to measure up. It is His people, who at the trial, tell of His mighty works.
Now, as the trial progresses, part of the evidence given has to do with the fact that He is the only God—that He is the one Who is from eternity past is emphasized. Isaiah writes,
No god was formed before Me, and there will be none after Me.
In the very passage from which Jehovah’s Witnesses obtain their name, it is made clear that no god will be formed after Yahweh. Yet, they are the very ones who say the opposite, calling Jesus “a God” Who was formed afterwards.
Moreover, in v. 11, we are told that “there is no other Savior but Me”. And, yet, in Luke 2:11 Jesus is said to be the Savior!
How ironic it is that two of the false statements about God made by the JWs are refuted in the very passage from which they wrongly take their name! Next time they appear at your door, you might enlighten them of the fact, and point them to Christ as Savior.
It’s true that all popular figures are in danger of allowing themselves to gather groups around them who become near-worshippers of them. They can encourage this “groupee” dynamic and gain a following that believes almost anything that they affirm—remember Jim Jones and the Koolaid? This popularity phenomenon is obviously one ripe source for the fostering of cults. Unless this dominant figure discourages such adulation, he may unconsciously allow these followers to become cultic in their attitudes. If the leader sets forth a doctrine or two that deviates from traditional biblical teaching, you have all of the ingredients necessary for establishing a cult. But that’s not the emphasis of this blog.
Rather, as someone has said, “Cults are the unpaid bills of the Church.” What does that mean? Simply this—whenever the church of Jesus Christ fails to emphasize some truth, and becomes imbalanced in one direction or another, it leaves room for a cult to creep in and take over that area of theology which it has neglected. You didn’t pay your bill, so someone else moves in to take possession of what was your God-given responsibility to teach in the first place.
Take the days in which there was little emphasis upon eschatology. The Adventist cults gained favor. The period in which there was little concern for pastoral care led to the beginnings of the healing cults.
The question today is what is the church neglecting, and what will this lead to? Clearly work in systematic theology and the faithful exegesis of the Scriptures is at an all-time low during the current generation. Where are the giant exegetes today? The outstanding systematic theologians? Those whose interest is in biblical theology abound; but where are the commentaries that deal in depth with the text rather than skipping around from place to place attempting to find similarities in various passages?
Moreover, application, as a result, is disappearing from the pulpits of those who are enthralled with the “discoveries” of some biblical-theological devotees. People are beginning to get essays from the pulpit in place of clear, substantive doctrine, proclaimed from well-exegeted passages, and applied to the daily lives of those who listen. There are even those who are questioning the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone!
It’s time for preachers to wake up. We could easily have a new sort of cult emerging right before our eyes— one whose adherents look down their noses on “mere” exegetes and systematic theologians, and dismiss practical preachers of the truths of the Scriptures. Take heed!
There is no reason for it. Yet, many people are suckered in by it. Time and again, the falsehood of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ claim to interpret prophecy so as to tell when Jesus would return has proven that to be clear enough. They staked everything on their latest prophecy that this would occur in 1975—and failed!
It was a do-or-die moment for them since after that year the last of their so-called 144,000 heavenly class witnesses would take his final communion and die. That would be the end, and the prophecy would be fulfilled—only it wasn’t!
Listen to what the very passage from which they take their name has to say:
You are my witnesses,’ declares the lord . . . Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord; and there is no savior besides Me.
I doesn’t happen only on car lots—it can happen in the church as well. A church advertises that it offers the very latest in Christian wares, only to try to offer you something else when you arrive at its door. The cults do it. The liberals do it. Shallow church marketers do it. Indeed, when you come to think of it, there are few-other than the scrupulously biblical churches—that don’t.
I don’t say that it is always intentional—though it may be with some of the fringe groups out to make a buck—or a thousand!
Yes, it happens.
For instance, the Mormons are in the business of purporting to be Christians these days. But when the story of Mormonism is told, you discover that it is supposed to be the restoration of a faith that had been lost for centuries. That can’t be Christianity, or what the Bible talks about. Jesus said that the gates of hell cannot prevail against true Christianity. It didn’t disappear from the earth for centuries. Moreover, biblical Christians believe in one God; not in an infinite number of gods as the Mormons do. I could go on citing the differences. But you get the idea.