What is a Cult? – Marshall’s Tract

Where Do You … Draw the Line? / View PDF Tract  / The Older The Bolder – Marshall Almarode 

The Significance of Identity

What’s In a Definition?

The definition of anything is its description. Webster’s Dictionary says, to define is “To state the meaning of.” Therefore, the definition of something is the combination of words that describes it’s meaning. A false definition is a combination of words that describes something else. An example of this is my description of a dog: “A warm blooded, four-legged animal used as a pet in many homes. This animal has pads on the bottom of its feet and has a soft hairy body that people like to pet. This dog speaks in repeated ‘meows’ and makes messes in my back yard.”

The above description is actually, one of my cat. Everything about the description of my cat fit nicely about my dog except one. It only took one violation of “doghood” in my definition, to describe a “false dog.” Only one little difference was all it took to disqualify this as the description of a “true dog.” The “meow” identified a “false dog.” The principle of identity is based on definitions. By their definitions we are able to identify and distinguish between true or false Christs, and true or false Christianity.

What Does the Bible Say is a Cult?

The word cult is commonly used to refer to those religions which claim to be part of true Christianity but do not qualify biblically. The essentials of Biblical Christianity are summarized in life’s two most important questions:

Question 1: Who is Jesus?

Question 2: How are we saved?


  1. The Identity of Jesus

“When Jesus came into the coast of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” And they said, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” He saith unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”  (Matthew 16:13-20)

This whole conversation about identity was initiated by Jesus and therefore must be very important. Notice that he built his church upon the fact that He was the Christ. Jesus did not start this conversation in verse 13 with, “Who do people say that Peter is?” He taught that it was fundamental in the true church that each member correctly identify who Jesus is: the revelation of who Jesus is, that he is the promised Messiah, that he has always been God, is the “rock” that the true church is built upon. Inventing one false idea about Jesus is enough to define a false Jesus. Who Jesus is, is intimately involved with what He did and said, and who His parents were. If I were to say that Jesus was a murderer or a child molester, I hope that you can see that I would be defining a false Jesus. Redefining the recorded facts about Jesus actually invents a phony Jesus. A common characteristic of today’s false religious cults is that they have invented false facts about the identity of Jesus. Their definition of who Jesus is is false. Therefore, they teach a belief in a false Jesus.  Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?”


Jesus Warns about False Christs!

“Then if any man shall say unto you, ‘Lo, here is Christ, or there,’ believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:23-27)

We Must Confess the Jesus that Came in the Flesh.               “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:1-3)


Deception Grows Creating Many False Believers

“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect.” (Mark 13:22)

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:11)

“BUT there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1)

Jesus and his apostles strongly warned against any organization that teaches a false Jesus. Any organization that teaches a false Jesus qualifies biblically, as a cult.


  1. How to Get to Heaven, or God’s Method of Salvation

The Biblical essentials on how to be saved can be summarized by the following verses: “It is by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-10). “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinth. 15:3). “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once” (Romans 6:9-10). “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27).

Compromise leads to False methods of Salvation

The Galatian heresy was against the method of salvation (Galatians 1:6). True salvation is based on a grace alone (free gift from God) through faith alone through Christ alone. Works were not required also!  Abraham believed God and because of his faith he was credited as righteousness (Galatians 3:6). Those who are trying to work for their salvation are under a curse because they can not always continually keep any of the laws perfectly (Galatians 3:10). We are all sinners and sin is breaking the law. Therefore, the only way for a sinner (law breaker) to be saved is if salvation is a gift.

The consequence for teaching a false gospel is eternal condemnation (sent to the lake of eternal fire and brimstone). Paul is very strongly against anyone teaching a false gospel (Galatians 1:8,9). Cults teach a false gospel and therefore qualify for this punishment.

Examples of Modern Errors of Compromise

Many modern evangelists, in their zeal to produce unity, have compromised the gospel by widening the definition of Christianity to include many of the cults. PROMISE KEEPER’S founder, Coach Bill McCartney defines Christianity as “anyone who names the name of Jesus” (“Stand in the Gap” speech Washington DC 1997). Evangelists Billy Graham and Luis Palau send new converts back to their previous church (even if it is a cult). Many Christians consider Roman Catholicism to be biblical Christianity. Billy Graham even uses Roman Catholics as volunteers during his crusades. (Dr. Walter Martin exposed the cultic teachings of Roman Catholicism in a three-tape series on Roman Catholicism available from Christian Research Institute – Southern California.)

“BUT I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached; or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough (too easily).”  (II Corinthians 11:3&4)

Mandated Biblical Response

Jude verse 3 tells Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints.” Jude tells his readers to be in contention for at least one thing … The Faith! Contention implies a strong disagreement! Paul agrees as he gives instructions for the elders of the churches in Titus 1:9, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince (refute) the gainsayers.” We must refute those who are teaching false gospels.


Recommended Resources

Although some of the authors occasionally disagree slightly in their conclusions (because of where they draw the line), the following books are helpful for documenting false Jesuses and false gospels of the cults.

Fast Facts on False Teachings by Ron Carlson & Ed Decker; Confronting the Cults by Gordon R. Lewis; Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? by Sandra and Jerald Tanner; Decker’s Complete Handbook on Mormonism by Ed Decker;  The Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventism by Dale Ratzlaff; So What’s the Difference? by Fritz Ridenour; Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz; Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses by Ron Rhodes;  Another Gospel by Ruth Tucker; The Chaos of the Cults, & Christianity Verses the Cults, by J.K. Van Baalen; The Four Major Cults by Anthony Hoekema; Coping With the Cults by Lorri MacGregor; The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin; A Woman Rides the Beast by Dave Hunt.


As For Me, I Agree with Paul

“I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workman, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satin himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (II Corinthians 11:12-15)


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Author: Webmaster