Various Groups and Cults, have many and various teachings from the Bible, particularly the Gospels, which can seem to have veracity, especially for the vulnerable, and people under various troubles.
What many demand is the dictation of the lives and minds of their members, who are not allowed to question the leaders "edicts and interpretations" of Scripture. They go so far as to say in some current groups, that unless the person "can perform miracles, can heal, and speaking in tongues (languages) other than the native, they are not saved"! Some years ago, this type of group, (Pentecostal, Charismatic etc.) did not make such strong claims. They were content to pronounce that "some people had not received the second blessing", called by others "the Toronto blessing", as that manifestation apparently had its origin in Toronto, which created at that time at least a two tier system within the group! See: MONTANISM; Rev. Chp. 1:11(a) .
The first manifestation of this type of teaching was circa. AD 200, which continued until approx. AD 800, in the "Montanists". The current manifestation emerged in the late 1800s, under the auspices of a Mrs. McPherson, called "Pentecostals". A notable feature of these groups is often the high profile of women, in the various activities, which may run contrary to the Apostle Paul's teachings, (1Tim 2:9-15).
Many of these groups misinterpret many Scriptures to try to enforce their claims, which if the teachers concerned are knowingly Satanically controlled will have its own reward, (remembering the condemnation of the false Prophets and Priests of Israel, Deut. 18:20-22 and Jer. 23).
In Revelation 14:17-20 is the account of cognisant agents of Satan being dealt with in the Millennium Reign. This particular reference in Revelation applies to people who are knowingly worshipping and working for Satan during the Tribulation of the Jewish Nation known as "Jacob's Trouble", and those who receive his mark, and does not apply to this present Dispensation. However, it does show how seriously Almighty God eventually deals with such activity.
It is incumbent on all of us who are Christians to try to understand Scripture and the Truth of it, as opposed to the many erroneous teachings, (2Tim. 2:15 and 2Tim. 3:16-17). The onus is on us as individuals not to be carried along by false teachers, and to take what is said to us, to the Bible, in sincere prayer to check the teaching that has been given. It has to be remembered also that one of the major errors of today in teaching, is to attribute one part of Scripture or another to Christians now, which may or may not be the case. That is why it is important to know the Administrations (Dispensations) of Almighty God, one such being the Acts period compared to now. (See: Bible Dispensations).
It is evident on examination that the events of Acts 2 do not apply at the present time. It is also evident from careful reading of Acts 2, that the comments by Peter applied at that time to the Jews only. At Acts 28:28 the direction of the Gospel message was changed, and turned to the Gentiles, and they became the prime object, of Almighty God's great Love and Mercy in Christ. That condition still prevails, and at the present time there is a veil over the understanding of the Jewish people, which makes it harder for them to accept Christ Jesus as Messiah, and that is due to their rejection of Jesus; and as a Nation they will not repent that rejection until the time of Zech. 12:10 "They will look upon Him who they pierced".
It is the opinion of the writers that where people are truly misled, and have not been able for one reason or another to study for themselves, that they do not fall into the condemnation of the Almighty (although the Shepherds/Teachers and Leaders probably have considerable condemnation). However, the Almighty with the help of the Holy Spirit does expect us to continue to study the Word for Truth on all subjects.
The well-known "Alpha Course" which is now widespread in the world, purports to be a lead-in to true Christianity. However, when viewing a Documentary over a number of weeks on British Television which was introduced by David Frost, there is serious doubt in the minds of the writers that this course could be considered authentic Bible teaching. In the Documentary mentioned, a part of the Alpha course was kept away from the cameras. That particular segment concerned the “endowment of the Holy Spirit”, and was characterised as that of the events in Acts 2 known as the Pentecostal Endowment; which the writers are of the strong opinion is false teaching.
That particular event was for the Jews gathered for the Passover Festival, and was what had been promised by Jesus, for His people Israel! See: Alpha Courses.
The point is that many groups, such as the above, are claiming miracles, which are unsubstantiated; unproven; and are not allowed to be openly scrutinised!
It is a cunning devise of the Enemy, that the call to "Salvation" in such groups is identical to that in all worthwhile and True groups, but after the person is beguiled/controlled by the group leaders, (sometimes called prophets/prophetesses), the demands for compliance/brainwashing into "sign's following" is incessant, to the point of oppression!
Instead of being set free, as is the True Christian who takes Christ as Saviour; the person becomes a slave of the group leaders, on pain of exclusion, or worse! These groups, the growth of which is startling in the world wide context, are a real threat to the true seeker, as the "Salvation" of the individual is in real doubt. Once these leaders have control of the individual’s mind, and the false "spirituality" they propagate, it takes prayerful effort by the individual to break free, because they have been trained to subdue all doubts, and to lean on their leaders in all things. The comment by our Lord in Matt. 7:22 then almost certainly applies to the leaders of those groups!
To arrive at Truth, always remembering that God knows all our true intentions, (our hearts), we should study for ourselves from a good Bible translation. If we can find a Bible believing group we should join it, for study and worship. The group organization should allow open discussion on the Bible, and any other subject related. It should allow any genuine question on the groups teaching, principles, organization, activities etc.
The group or leaders should never demand obedience beyond normal good behaviour or manners. If claims or demands are made which do not appear to chime with reason, common-sense or the Bible, they should be challenged in open forum.
The will of the individual should never be subjected to a person or group, except in openly approved, Christian "norms and principles" which are common to the group, and posted and known prior to joining. In such a Christ centred atmosphere, growth of group and individual will flourish, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter will be in the midst in Truth!
Some Charismatic Groups do not try to oppressively control their members, or insist on “healing” as a critical part of their belief system. They concentrate on prayer and praise of the Lord; in truth; and have steady headed leaders. This is to be encouraged, but with constant wariness against infiltration of the extreme form developing; especially with unstable persons in fellowship! (See: The Events of Pentecost; What is the Truth? (Discussion Document).)
If you have questions or comments, please click here.
Or go to Chapters 1 to 22 or
SUBJECTS GROUPED or