From the desk of  ...  Preston H. Hazzard, Sr.  ... My Daily Blog    


 

Cult Watch
Seven Men Named Jesus
Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 8:30pm

Dr. Luke tell us, in the story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

"As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!" Luke 19:37-40


A few years ago, I received a scathing letter from my one of my sisters. It started out very gently ... "Hey Pete. Quit Preaching."

Now, I have heard this before, and not just from this sister. :) I even phoned her (out of state) and we had a lively conversation for maybe a half an hour, until she hung up on me.

There were several email messages back and forth over the period of a couple of weeks, all cordial. In the last installment, her tone was sweet, non-confrontational and friendly.

But, there were biblical worldviews she expressed which are light-years apart from historic, orthodox Christianity. These demanded a response.

I have removed names and deliberately not offered the actual emails for her privacy sake. But to frame a context for what this is generally all about, I'll give you the quotes, made by my sister, that I am responding to. She said:

·        "What I see in the scriptures are different than what you see. BUT---We both believe in the same God and Jesus Christ. We both believe in the Holy Spirit."

·        "This all is a matter of interpretation. We do not study and learn from another Bible."

·        "I look forward to that time to learn from the One who knows the whole truth."

·        "All of this is a matter of interpretation. Believe me - I have studied and am still studying."

·        "I have proven what I believe straight from the Bible."

What follows is based on my reply (1).


Dear (sister).

You said "I look forward to that time to learn from the One who knows the whole truth."

According to 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (verse 11), which He reveals (verse 10) and teaches (verse 13) to those whom He indwells. This activity of the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity) is called illumination. You don't accept that. I have shown you my verses (What is the Godhead?) that there is only one God. And that the Holy Spirit is God. Not just a force.

But, until you have been born again, you will never understand that God the Holy Spirit wants you to receive Him now.

Right now, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44.

If / When you become a Christian, you will have been "adopted" by God, and He therefore will be your new adopted Father (Gal. 4:5). But just because you are adopted, it doesn't negate the fact that your original father was Satan.

Nor will you discard your sin nature when you became saved (Rom. 7:23). I John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

This means Christians have two natures from which to choose -- bad and good. Satan, totally understanding the bad/sin nature, entices humans every day with 6000 years of practice.

Paul, our example of a person we should aspire to emulate in Word and deed, declared he sinned everyday (Rom. 7:19).

But the Holy Spirit also lives in us and convicts us of our sin (John 16:8). He wants us to choose the good/righteous. I Cor. 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it."


My sister said to me ... "All of this is a matter of interpretation. ...  Believe me - I have studied and am still studying."

My response is ... Well, good for that. ...  But, I choose to believe God.

Have you ever suspected, while talking with someone, that you may have a mutual friend?  

Then as you get further into the conversation you realize that you are describing two different people who happen to have the same name? So it is with discussions of Jesus. The name’s the same but the descriptions vary widely. Which Jesus do you know?

  1. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a Jesus too. He’s a son of Jehovah, but He’s not God. Rather, he was a perfect man just like Adam originally was. Before he became a man he was the Archangel Michael, who The Witnesses believe to be Jehovah’s first created being. Just believing in Jesus is not enough to save us. We also have to become a Jehovah’s Witness, be baptized, and obey God’s laws all of our life to prove ourselves worthy. Their Jesus wasn’t physically resurrected, but came back to life in Spirit form. He returned to Earth in Spirit form in 1914 and will become a physical being again at Armageddon.

  2. Mormonism teaches a different Jesus, and a different Gospel. ... But, aren't they the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ... and, they speak out of the same bible as you and me. Is this all just a matter of interpretation? They came in my house a few weeks ago to tell me about how they will become gods. The Jesus of Mormonism, they say, is the spirit brother of Lucifer. Both are sons of a god who was once a man and one of his many wives. Mormons believe God has not always been the Supreme Being of the universe, but attained that status through righteous living and persistent effort.

  3. To the Unitarian Universalist, Jesus was a good moral teacher, but nothing more. He is not considered to be divine, and every miracle associated with Him is rejected as being outside of human reason. Most sayings of Jesus recorded in the Bible are regarded as embellishments on the part of the authors. Among the Universalists' beliefs: Jesus did not die to save mankind from sin, as man is not a fallen sinner; emphasis is placed on humankind's capacity for goodness; sin is completely relative, and the term (sin) itself is rarely used; man saves himself through personal improvement, salvation being a purely worldly experience, a "waking up" to the world around oneself. This is very important, for death is final. Most Unitarian Universalists deny the existence of an afterlife, so all we have on earth is all we'll ever get. Adherents of Unitarian Universalism base their beliefs primarily upon their own experiences and are not committed to any one religious system. They believe that individuals have the right to decide for themselves what to believe in and that others should not infringe upon this right. As a result, one such believer might lean toward liberal Christianity, while another might lean toward New Age spirituality. There is no real dogma beyond tolerance—for everything except biblical Christianity. They reject the Bible as a book of myths—denying it is the Word of God—equating it with barbaric writing that has little to do with modern man. As such, they reject the Bible's portrayal of a Triune God, leaving the concept of God up to each individual's imagination. Same Bible, but not inspired, inerrant, infallible. Is this just another Interpretation?

  4. Is your Jesus the same as the Jesus of Islam? They say He was a prophet and teacher on a par with Mohammed. His role was to help prepare people for the great leader from Allah coming at the end of time to judge the world. Is your God the same as Allah? Your president says he is.

  5. Is your Jesus the same Jesus of Judaism? Jesus in our bible affirms the OT scriptures. Of course WE know He fulfilled those OT laws and gave us a NEW COVENANT. The Jesus of Judaism is known in Jewish writings as the illegitimate son of Miriam (Mary). He lived in the first century CE (they don’t use AD) and led people away from main stream Judaism into a cult. Jews who admit to believing He was their Messiah are often considered dead to their families. Jews don’t believe in a second coming because they don’t believe there’s been a first one.

  6. The old Worldwide Church of God of Herbert W. Armstrong (who died early in 1986) claimed to believe in only one God. However, Armstrong defined "God" as a "family".

One of the worst of the damnable heresies of Herbert Armstrong was the demonic lie that men could become "God, as God is God."

In case anyone is really in doubt over what Armstrong taught on this subject, notice these very unambiguous passages from pages 18-19 of his booklet 1957, 1972 edition, Why Were You Born?(2):

  • Armstrong wrote “The PURPOSE of life is that in us God is really re-creating His own kind — reproducing Himself after His own kind — for we are, upon real conversion, actually begotten as sons, yet unborn, of God...we shall be instantaneously CHANGED from mortal to immortal — we shall then be BORN of God — WE SHALL THEN BE GOD! ... Do you really grasp it? The PURPOSE of your being alive is that finally you will be BORN into the Kingdom of God.

  • In the 1951 version he said: "So I've said, and truly, the PURPOSE Of your being alive is that finally you be BORN into the Kingdom of God, when you will actually BE GOD, even as Jesus was and is God, and His Father, a different Person, also is God! ... You are setting out on a training to become CREATOR — to become GOD.(3)

  • He taught that this "God family" consists of two members, God the Father and Christ, but it is their plan to reproduce themselves in human beings and so add millions or even billions to the God family.

  • Is your Jesus a created offspring, the first of many more to be?

  • Herbert Armstrong taught a different Jesus. That is what cult leaders do. Not just a matter of interpretation.

  • Armstrong gave lip service to the idea that people were not saved by law-keeping but by the grace of God through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, ... yet he also taught that God would finally save only those who obeyed him, including obedience to WCG teachings such as observance of the Saturday Sabbath and the annual holy days. His teaching minimized the sufficiency of the saving work of Christ and emphasized the coming millennial kingdom. He often characterized Christ as little more than a divine messenger.

  • Adding any works for salvation ... to salvation by Christ alone - makes Christ’s sacrifice of no effect and is therefore an attempt at salvation solely by works.You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. ” (Galatians 5:4).

  • For those without cognitive dissonance, there can be no believing in both salvation by Christ alone and in salvation by works. The two are mutually incompatible.

7.     But ... the GOOD NEWS is ... there is one more man named Jesus. The Real Jesus. He is not a created being. On the contrary, He is our Creator. As Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things were created through Him and for Him." He’s not an angel and he’s not a mere man, because He created both. The archangel Michael might be the first created being, but if he is, Jesus is the one who created him. And Lucifer may have many brothers, but if he does, Jesus created them all.

This is the Jesus of the Bible. He claimed to be God in the form of man (John 10:30 and 14:9). Men who knew Him agreed. Paul taught the Deity of Jesus in Colossians 1:15-16. So did John (John 1:1-3). The writer of the Book of Hebrews also agreed (Heb 1:3) and included a quote from Psalm 45:6-7 that shows God Himself addressing Jesus as God (Heb 1:8). And this is not just a New Testament idea. In his prophecy of the Messiah’s birthplace, Micah said He was an eternal being whose goings forth were from days of eternity. Literally from before time and perpetual. (Micah 5:2) He is the eternal God.

Here’s where your knowledge of Scripture becomes really important, because in order to be all the Bible claims, Jesus has to be both 100% man and 100% God. If He isn’t a man He couldn’t have been made like us in every way and suffered our temptations as Heb 2:17-18 claim; he couldn’t be our High Priest assert Heb 4:14-15 ; and he can’t be our redeemer because he wouldn’t be our next of kin as required by Lev. 25:47-48 and explained in Rom 5:18-19. If He isn’t God He couldn’t be King David’s Lord (Matt 22:41-45) He couldn’t be sinless (Rom 3:20) and He couldn’t be our Savior (Mark 2:6-12 and 1 Pet 1:18-21).

The need for Christians to exercise discernment as never before is evident in some of the examples above of false teachings.

  • The cults deny the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. You have to earn at least part of the salvation they offer.

  • They also deny the notion of eternal punishment for sin. Everyone goes to some kind of Heaven.

  • And most importantly, they deny the deity of Jesus. They portray Him as a great man and role model; a great teacher, a prophet, even a social revolutionary, but certainly not God.

In truth, Jesus was all of that. But He was also much more.

He was God in the form of man; the Father dwelling in the Son (Col 1:19). To think of Jesus as anyone other than God is to reject the truth concerning Him revealed through out His Word, and to put yourself at risk of trusting in the wrong Jesus for your eternal destiny.

The Jesus of the Bible is the only one of the seven men named Jesus who is able to save you.


Christians are charged with learning scripture. We are to know our Bibles well enough to be able to accurately answer both Christians and non-Christians in questions of doctrine, or application of doctrine.

"... always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you,". I Pet. 3:15

God holds us personally accountable to the doctrinal positions we hold. On Judgment Day we can't point fingers and say, "my pastor said . . ." or "my denomination believes . . ." or "my Bible teacher said . . ." (or what Uncle Pete says), as an excuse for incorrect doctrine. The Bible says it is up to the individual to determine if they are being taught truth.

"... they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11

God wants us to have correct doctrinal stances. 

". . . speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." Titus 2:1

So don't take everything you hear for granted, regardless of who's teaching you. Compare what you're being taught to other scriptures. Take the time to understand what you believe and why you believe it.

God wants you to get it right because you are representing Him!

 "In all things show yourself to be an example . . . with purity in doctrine,". Titus 2:7


My sister said to me ... "I have proven what I believe straight from the Bible."

I say to her ... "Maybe to yourself." ...

Cult members never think that they are in a cult. False religions profess to be the “One True Faith.” Sadly, just the opposite is true. They are really on the outside of God’s will and don’t even know it!

Even worse, they think that anyone who is not in their cult is lost!

No one wants to be made a fool of. No one wants to admit that they have been tricked. If a cult member realizes that she has been fooled, she feels humiliated. No one says, “Oh thank you for showing me that I have made a fool of myself.”

These people are very hard to reach. They have been inoculated with a dose of false Christianity which makes them immune to the real thing.

One of the most amazing statements Jesus made was that not everyone who calls Him Lord, speaks in His name, performs miracles, etc., is going to heaven. There will be multitudes that think they are going to heaven but Jesus will say to them on judgment day, "I never knew you, depart."

The difference between those that go to heaven and those that go to hell is what they are believing or trusting in. Simply stated, their "doctrine."

Just because it's always done that way is not correct doctrine. In fact, traditions are not worth much.

Jesus said: " ... in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." Matt. 15:9

In addition to traditions that are of no use, there are many false doctrines in the world as well:

". . . we are no longer to be . . . carried about by every wind of doctrine. Eph. 4:14

". . . doctrines of demons. I Tim. 4:1

The Holy Spirit, both in the Old and the New Testament, spoke of a general turning from the faith of Christ, and the pure worship of God. This should come during the Christian dispensation, for those are called the latter days.

False teachers forbid as evil what God has allowed, and command as a duty what He has left indifferent.

We are commanded to be "nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine" (I Tim. 4:6).

So, determining what is sound is one of our charges as Christians.

Opinions don't matter.

What you feel doesn't matter.

The only thing that does matter is whether or not it agrees with scripture. Is it of the Lord? (I Tim. 6:3-4).

The only sure way to protect ourselves from false teaching is to measure every word that is taught against Scripture itself. Does the message come from the Word? Does the teacher's interpretation fit within the greater context of Scripture, or does it make sense only when isolated from the rest of the Bible? If a teaching requires you to turn a blind eye to any other part of Scripture, you can be sure that the message is not true to the whole, inerrant Word of God.

You say "This all is a matter of interpretation. We do not study and learn from another Bible." You say: "We both believe in the same God and Jesus Christ."

We're not all the same Christians because we all read the same Bible. Please note what Peter calls false teachings and prophesies ... Damnable Heresies!

"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." (II Peter 2:1) KJV


Many will insist that we all have the right to practice Christianity as our conscience dictates. Wrong !

We have the privilege of living out a faith based on absolute truth as given to us by the "Author and Finisher" of that faith without error or omission in His written word. If we want to invent our own religion, we are "free" to do so, "free" to reap the consequences and "free" to call it anything we want ... except Christianity.

Don't call yourself a Christian if you are going to deny essential doctrines.


P.S. Some Closing comments:

I'm am so glad we have the unchanging Word of God

This is important to us because when you talk to a follower of Armstrongism, they often come back with things like

  • "You don't know anything about what Mr. Armstrong taught." ... or ...
  • "Those things people say Armstrong taught weren't taught in OUR church."

Recently, I have been noticing a new phenomenon. I'm starting to read and hear ...

  • "We don't teach Armstrongism in the United Church of God" (UCG/AIA)" ...

Have they "thrown Herbie under the bus"?

To this I say in Latin ... "Id est quod id est" ... ("it is what it is"). :>) -- phh


Footnotes:

(1) Source: Based on letters to my sister. ... phh
(2) An online version of the booklet "Why Were You Born?" by Armstrong. It is in PDF format, so the page numbers are a little different.
(3) This reference to the 1951 version of the booklet "Why Were You Born?" by Armstrong illustrates how Armstrong "evolved" his doctrinal beliefs and teachings.


  If I were to keep quiet, the stones would cry out ! 

Call or email me if you have questions.


Amen.

Pete, Sr.

 

Author & Webmaster: Preston H. Hazzard, Sr.
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