What are the essentials of the Christian faith? In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, we read the following: “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” So, we are saved by receiving the Gospel by faith, and the Gospel is defined as Christ’s death for our sins, His burial, and His Resurrection three days later. Naturally, Jesus is God in the flesh (John 14:9-11), He literally rose from the dead (Romans 10:9-10) and salvation is received by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Although they may disagree over many things, different Christian denominations accept these essentials of the faith. On the other hand, cults of Christianity deny one or all of these beliefs, while claiming to be Christians. A few of the more popular cults of Christianity are examined below.
When it comes to Jesus, Jehovah’s Witnesses are guilty of identity theft. After all, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel. Well, only five verses in the Bible mention Michael, and none of them call Him Jesus (Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7). Even in The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the ‘translation’ of the Bible used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus is never called Michael.
That said, The New World Translation does make a few changes in an effort to hijack Christ’s identity. For example, John 1:1-3 was changed to say that Jesus is a ‘god,’ rather than God. Apparently, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is a false god like Satan. If not, they think Jesus is a separate, lesser god, which means Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in many gods. The Bible makes it clear: there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10). Besides, John 1:3 says of Jesus that “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
If Jesus is an angel who became a man, He would be a created being. So, if Jesus created everything and He’s a created being, does this mean that Jesus created Himself? How does something that doesn’t exist create itself? On top of that, Hebrews 1:3 says Jesus is “the exact representation” of God. If Jesus was an angel who became a man, how could He be the exact representation of God?
Here’s the deal. Isaiah 43:11 says only God can save. If Jesus is our Savior, He has to be God. Thomas certainly agreed. When He encountered the risen Jesus, he worshiped Him and said “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more popularly known as Mormons, teaches that God was once a man on another planet. Joseph Smith claimed “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man.” He added “We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see” (Smith, J., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976, pp. 345).
Despite his confidence, the Bible says “Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2). In addition, Smith’s own Book of Mormon agrees. Moroni 8:18 states “God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Although the Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that God is eternal and unchangeable, Mormons disagree.
Regardless, the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible in many places. For instance, 2 Nephi 25:23 says “it is by grace we are saved after all we can do.” Well, Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Faith in Jesus alone is what saves (John 3:16).
To be a Seventh-day Adventist, you have to accept their “28 Fundamental Beliefs.” One of these beliefs is called “The Gift of Prophecy,” and it says Ellen G. White was “the Lord’s messenger” and her writings are a “continuing and authoritative source of truth.” Seventh-day Adventists have to believe everything Ellen G. White said was inspired of God. This is a bit of a problem, because she once said “Jesus was revealed to them as the Angel of Jehovah, the Captain of the Lord’s Host, Michael the Archangel” (White, E., Patriarchs and Prophets, 1958, p. 761; Review & Herald).
Of course, Jesus can’t be God and a created being at the same time, but this is what Ellen G. White taught. She maintained that “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one” (Quoted in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129). Huh?
Speaking of confusing statements by Mrs. White, she also said that “Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator” (White, E., The Great Controversy (Pacific Press, 1950), p. 425). This is known as the “Investigative Judgment” in Seventh-day Adventist circles, and it plainly contradicts Hebrews 7:25, which says “He always lives to make intercession” for us. On top of that, Jesus said Christians will never be judged for our sins (John 5:24). Who do you trust: Ellen G. White or Jesus?