Sermon: Why Sound Doctrine *was* Called A Cult

Written by Timothy

To state that Sound Doctrine Church is, or was, a cult is so very  much a laughable lie. No slander was so baseless in fact.

The reason Sound Doctrine Church was, or is, called a “cult” is pretty simple. The lie works.

The lie works with individuals, organizations and even governments eager to soak in the lie for their own benefit.

Just as labeling Christianity a “hate group” works, so soo the “It’s a cult” is a slander and lie that defiles many against the Truth. God allows such slanders and lies to keep away those who would only weaken the church.

But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.” (Acts 28:22)

By any paradigm it is, and was, impossible for Sound Doctrine Church to be a cult. A fast sample of what I preach proves that it requires all a persons energy, thinking and effort to seek God so as to be able to live what is preached. Do what is taught and it is impossible for you to ever be taken in by man – including yourself.

Sound Doctrine Church is no longer in existence because of persecution, except of course for the multitude of true disciples around the world that are following hard after Jesus. The many who have encounted Sound Doctrine Church, or started and have turned their back on Jesus are not about to admit the truth about themselves. Few are those who will declare the truth that they are rebellious sinners with unresolved, unrepentant sins in their lives. Instead, they will add to their many sins, the sin of slandering the love of Jesus. Again, righteousness of Sound Doctrine Church is proven once again by the fact that what happened to Jesus happens to those who are faithful to God. From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:66)

In short, the reason Sound Doctrine Church is is a cult is because I am truly a disciple of Jesus and what is preached is in the Truth.  It is one of the good fruits Jesus instructed all to look for when determining who is of God.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23) 

Listen up: If you want a preacher that will bend to what you want to hear keep moving on as there is nothing here that you will desire to hear. If you desire leadership that hungers and thirst for the holiness of Jesus, that will help point you in the right direction saving you countless hours of wasted frustrating time, then you are on the correct path.

T. Williams

Also see sermon Most Dangerous Cult

Why Was Sound Doctrine Called A Cult
Roughly preached around the year 2005

Why Is Sound Doctrine Called A Cult?

I’ve been preaching for a little over twenty-five years, and my first preaching job was in the very small town. I had that job for about three months. Didn’t really have that much of the message of the cross down, but I preached it enough that within about six weeks I was accused of being a cult leader. Jim Jones was on everybody’s mind at that time, and I learned pretty quick that things can turn sour fast when it comes to the Gospel. We had, in order to get the job, to spend evenings at different people’s homes and spend the night there to get to know everybody. I can remember this one particular couple whose house we stayed at. They were retired, and half of the house was built into a mountain. They were excited about us coming and Carla and I are in one bedroom on one side and their bedroom on the other side. They were getting ready to go to sleep, and the wife said, “You know, we’re just really excited about you coming here to be the pastor, and we’re really thrilled that you will be a part of this church.” That was good to go sleep on. That wasn’t too bad.Well, within about six weeks, the same woman who said that, came out from behind me, pushed me, and said, “What’s your name? Tim? Jim? Jim Jones?” So the persecution broke out. I won’t go into all the details, but they used to hide in an alley way, and when Carla and I left the house, they followed us through town. Carla went to get her hair done and afterwards the hairdresser had them come in, and they asked all kinds of questions. I mean, it was a small town, so of course, the whole town knew about it and talked about it. I resolved then that I would never again go to a small town (laughter) to preach the Gospel. Well, since I’m not in charge of my own life, God had other plans. Today we want to talk about why Sound Doctrine is called a cult, and really, why most of our brothers and sisters who are really living the message of the cross throughout the world, whether in China, Vietnam, or anywhere—have the word “cult” thrown at them.Now, not everybody who is called a cult is of Jesus Christ. So we will narrow down our focus as to why Sound Doctrine is called a cult. This sermon probably won’t convince anybody that we’re not a cult. In fact, this sermon will probably convince those who think we’re a cult that we are a cult, because the first thing I’ll say is that the reason we’re called a cult is because we’re true Christians. So they will accuse us of being self-righteous, haughty, and thinking somehow we have a special relationship with God.

But in Luke, Jesus is very clear.

Luke 6:22 – Blessed are you when men hate you,

To belong to Jesus Christ is to be persecuted. To have some salt and light in our lives that comes from the Holy Spirit means men will hate us. There’s no middle ground. If you’re in the middle ground, then you’re lukewarm at best and eventually you’ll be spit out by Jesus Christ.

Luke 6:22 – Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you…

When they don’t want anything to do with you, they don’t want to be around you, and do not think that you belong to Jesus Christ, they will be sure that this isn’t of the Lord. It has been said that this is a message from Satan and it is evil.

Luke 6:22 – Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

If we belong to Jesus Christ, if we honestly pick up our cross, follow Jesus Christ, and if seek him with all of our heart, then the natural result is that men will hate us, exclude us, insult us, and want nothing to do with us. The word “cult” is really a minor thing that will be thrown at us.In Matthew, they called Jesus Christ “Beelzebub.” They compared Him to the Lord of the flies or the dung heap. If they talked about Jesus Christ in that manner why should we think that we will escape it?

Matthew 10:25 – It is enough for the student to be like his teacher

Now what example does Jesus Christ use to show what will shine forth? What will he appear to be to people?

Matthew 10:25 – It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house…

Since Jesus Christ has been called these things, then anyone that belongs to Jesus Christ—anybody that is honestly in Him—will be called these things and more. If Jesus Christ was perfect in love and in power and if He had the Holy Spirit without limit, then certainly we who are imperfect will be called all kinds of things. And if we’re not being called those things, if men are not rejecting us and excluding us, then we don’t belong to Jesus Christ. A church that is not compared to being a cult, a church that isn’t called all kinds of evil things, says that they are above Jesus Christ!

Matthew 10:25 – It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house…

Again, a church that is not called these things, says they’re above Jesus Christ.

Matthew 10:25 – If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!

The question really to be asked today is not why Sound Doctrine is called a cult, but why aren’t churches around us today called cults? Why aren’t they compared to Beelzebub? Why doesn’t the world, other people, the Pharisees and the Sadducees of today turn and say, “Oh that comes from Satan”? Why is there no persecution? Why are they not labeled a cult within seconds, months, or any period of time? How is it they can go for years within the community and never be considered something derogatory? If Jesus Christ was called Beelzebub, equal to demons, how dare we think that we are above Him because we are not persecuted and called those things?In Jude verse 10, one of the reasons that people label other groups a cult is simply because man is ignorant. I don’t say that in a condescending or self-righteous kind of way; it’s just a fact. That when you think of something that is ignorant, you think of it as uneducated, unthinking, not able to reason, doing what they do by instinct, or thinking with their emotions rather than their head. There are people that we’ve met and within moments they’ll immediately label us a cult. You begin to talk about a doctrine, an idea, or a concept and they don’t even want to discuss it. They’re like brute beasts responding with all the emotion, without any reasoning or thinking about what they’re doing. You throw out a choice morsel to a dog, he’ll follow that, won’t he? You throw out a choice morsel of gossip, and a man will follow that.

Jude 10 – Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand.

They don’t understand coverings or the message of the cross or hating one’s life. They don’t understand Luke 14:26, baptism, or any number of doctrines that are in Scripture. Since they don’t understand them, instead of sitting down, reasoning it out, praying before the Lord and asking God what the truth is, like unreasoning animals, unthinking brute beasts, they immediately respond in their ignorance and say, “Oh, that’s bad” or “That’s evil” or “That’s a cult!” Some of you have been in conversations with people about for example, what music is in the Lord and they turned and said, “Oh, you’re in a cult!” and you hadn’t even said anything except to disagree, maybe, with a style of music that was presented.

Jude 10 – Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand.

That is probably the majority of mankind. They do not understand—they do not want to understand—they’re not willing to sit down and reason it out or they don’t really care, so they speak against it immediately. They mouth off their opinions.

Jude 10 – and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

These are easy prey for Satan. Again we go back to the food example. If you want a dog to do something, you have to reward him with food. All Satan has to do is come along with a tidbit called gossip over here, or a little bit of scaremongering over there, and then we’ll follow along without even thinking twice about it. We see that in example after example of governments that turn bad; where people follow a dictator without really thinking about what they’re doing. They don’t really care! Mankind, when he fell in the garden, became an unreasoning animal, he became a brute beast. He loves violence, he loves to destroy, and he loves to gossip and slander. It comes natural to man, for that’s who he is. It’s easy to see why Sound Doctrine is called a cult. You don’t want to reason anything out. It’s too much trouble to go back and seek God and really die to one’s opinion and give up one’s life. So it’s much easier to slander, throw things out, confuse, or cause an emotional reaction rather than a thoughtful response. Even among the majority of those who sit down and open the Bible to reason things out, it doesn’t take much to destroy what Scripture has to say and then immediately label it as evil. Peter wrote about Paul:

2 Peter 3:16 – He writes the same way in all his letters…

Paul came across in the same manner and the same spirit.

2 Peter 3:16 – …speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand.

Not everything in Jesus Christ is so simple that we read it and say, “Okay that’s how it is and this is how we’ll apply it.” Men are lazy. We don’t want to reason things out or wrestle before God. We certainly don’t want to discuss it with other men; we want to mouth off our opinions. We’re fools that glory in our opinions and ideas, even if they’re scriptural.You can’t just pick up the letters of Paul and say, “Okay, that’s what this means,” or “This doesn’t mean this over here,” and yet how quickly we (and others) are to say, “Oh, this is what it means,” or “This is for back then,” or whatever excuse we have.

2 Peter 3:16 – . . . speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant . . .

They’ve never reasoned or wrestled it out before God. They’ve never let the cross do its work. It’s a painful process to understand Scripture. It’s painful because have our pride, our opinions, our concepts, and what Scripture means to us. God comes along with the cross and says, “I will crucify that.” Crucifixion is not a pleasant experience. I didn’t enjoy being proved wrong when I first became a Christian. When I came up out of the baptismal waters and God showed me all kinds of things, I didn’t say, “Oh great, I’m wrong on everything, this sure feels good.” It took a little while before I was rejoicing in that.

2 Peter 3:16 – which ignorant and unstable people distort,

They distort and twist Scripture by putting a bad spin on what is being said and look for things that are wrong. So the “cult” word is just the beginning. We’re not even up to “Beelzebub” yet. At least that took some thinking; you had to talk about the demonic world, which demons are in which hierarchy, and what Beelzebub means. You can throw out the cult word and it means absolutely nothing anymore. It is just a word that is thrown out and everybody’s ears perk up, their heads turn around, and they said, “Oh, it must be evil, because everybody’s saying it’s a cult.” They are unreasoning, unthinking brute beasts.

2 Peter 3:16 – which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other scriptures, to their own destruction.

Being called a cult is one of the first introductions to becoming a Christian in my book. If you have any salt within you and you begin to share anything with your next door neighbor by the Holy Spirit, the word “cult” is the first thing that will come out of their mouth. “Brainwashing” is next, and “following a man” is probably third—we’ve heard it a million times. The miracle isn’t that we’re called a cult; the miracle is that so many people can claim to be Christians and not be accused of anything, except maybe being a nuisance.The other reason that we and other true Christians are called a cult is simply because the world is a wicked place. And for this one I give them a little bit of credit—you can’t blame them too much. It’s pretty difficult to believe that something true and real is out there when you have so much that’s false around you. Satan brings in all the cults, the weird religions, crazy people, and the people who do all kinds of foolish things that hit the newspaper. They make movies about cult leaders. Satan is glad to advertise that and say, “See, there’s nothing true, nothing that’s really of God.” How many times have you heard it said that there is no perfect church? Such an attitude, first of all, is total sin and laziness. If it’s not perfect, then make it perfect—get in and do it.

Titus 1:15 – To the pure, all things are pure…

Those that have a love for God can see things for what they are. A man who even begins to say, “It’s a cult” or “It’s evil,” or “It’s of Satan,” that tells me a lot about his heart, not mine. Because to the pure, all things are pure. The pure will reason things out, seek the Lord, and desire wisdom.

Titus 1:15 – To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe…

Look at what it says:

Titus 1:15 – …nothing is pure.

There will never be a perfect church to them. No church is good enough. Nothing will be acceptable to them because in their minds they know every man is a cult leader, every man is greedy, vile, and full of kinds of sexual immorality. There is no Christianity that has any power, in their minds.

And we hear that from the church, left and right, don’t we? We’ve grown so accustomed to sin within the church. “Oh, another person fell in sin. A pastor was caught in this,” or “This happened within the church, that’s just the way it is, because nobody’s perfect.” So the world looks at Christianity and the people who claim to be Christians, and they don’t see the division. There is not a line between the church and the world. So they say there’s nothing pure, clean, or righteous.

Titus 1:15 – In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

When somebody with a good conscience, a good mind, sees something that is of Jesus Christ, they don’t call it a cult. They say, “That may be the truth.” Since they hunger and thirst for righteousness, they want to know if it’s true. They’ll dig, search, pray, and ask. Most of you sitting in this room, when you first heard the message of the cross, you didn’t say, “Oh, this is great! This is what I want.” It caused all kinds of turmoil and thought processes. You know, the last thing that this place is, is a brainwashing place where nobody thinks. In order to walk into this church and sit down to fellowship, you did a lot of thinking before you came through those doors and to survive here you have to do a lot of thinking. If there’s one thing about Jesus Christ, He engages the mind, heart, and soul of man. If Paul wrote things that are not easily understood and easily applied, it takes everything about a man to apply them, to hear from the Holy Spirit how to live them out, doesn’t it? But to those who are not pure, those who are corrupted, and whose consciences are not good, nothing will be pure enough or clean enough. It will always be on the verge of being a cult or being bad. When I first started preaching, people said, “Give it a few years. We’ll see who you are. Somewhere along the line you will fail. Come talk to me in ten years.” They are sure you will not make it because they “know” there’s a vile motive back there somewhere. I’m 48 years old—they’re still waiting. That doesn’t mean I don’t work out my salvation with fear and trembling but to them, nobody is pure enough. Nobody is righteous enough, because they don’t know a Jesus Christ with power, who delivers and works.This next reason we can’t help. If you belong to Jesus Christ, if His Holy Spirit is present, you can walk into a room and not say one thing about Jesus Christ and they’ll call you a cult leader or say that you belong to a cult and you didn’t say a single thing! You wouldn’t have discussed any doctrines or ideas or Jesus Christ, or prayed at the table—you just merely walk in and people will ask, “What is wrong with that person?” A true Christian can’t help but be called a member of a cult.

2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God…

What did Jesus say our attitude should be like? “Leap for joy.”Now, if we’re obnoxious, self-righteous, vile, and all the things that people say we are, we should weep and mourn. When you discuss something with somebody and their reaction is way overboard, this is why:

2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

It’s a fragrance! It’s beyond who we are. This isn’t a matter of opinion. Yet that’s what everybody wants to reduce Christianity to. When I discuss and debate with people, they always say, “Well, that’s your opinion, and you’re welcome to it.” It is not an opinion, it’s not my idea or concept—I didn’t make up the message of the cross. It is a fragrance and an aroma that comes from the Holy Spirit. As you walk through the grocery store, go to Wal-Mart to shop, or whatever you do, that fragrance is out there—if Jesus Christ is resting on you. If He is not resting on you, you won’t get much of a reaction. Not until you do something. I’m talking about a fragrance here—you know, when you wear a perfume you don’t tell everyone, “Smell my perfume! Smell my perfume!” People know you have it on.

2 Corinthians 2:15 – For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

A division takes place immediately. Whether you say or do anything in—Jesus Christ—if you have the Holy Spirit, if you’re full of His light, if you belong to Him, if—you’re carrying that cross—you won’t have to say a word, it will just take place.

2 Corinthians 2:16 – To the one we are the smell of death…

That’s not neutral territory. That’s not, “Honey, what do you think about this perfume?” territory. This is literally the smell of death to them. They think you are a stench. They think you belong to Beelzebub. They think you belong to the dung heap. Being called a cult is nothing compared to this kind of reaction. We smell like judgment and death to them. It is a violent reaction, a gut wrenching that comes from their soul that says, “I do not like what I smell.” No matter how much you plead with them to understand; no matter how often you tell them, “I love you in Jesus Christ”; no matter how much you lay down your life; no matter what good deeds you do, you will always smell like death. That’s why Scripture says that the fear of man will prove to be a trap—you will never convince someone that you smell good if you smell like death to them. You might as well go home and convince your kid that broccoli tastes like chocolate. (Laughter)

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 – For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

Look at the contrast between the two words here. “The smell of death,” it has that overwhelming sense to it, doesn’t it? It’s someone who puts on bad cologne that overpowers the whole room. But to those who recognize the truth, to those with good consciences, it is “the fragrance of life.” It is something that is sweet to the soul and you can smell the life there. It may be unfamiliar, but someone asks, “What are you wearing?” And you answer, “Jesus Christ.” To them it smells of life, of flowers and grace, and all that is of love. Two different people can listen to the same sermon, and one says, “That smells like death,” and the other says, “Oh, that’s the fragrance of life.” And with our messages, and our lives, and who we are, the end result is, that kind of reaction—if Jesus Christ is resting on us. Christians and churches who don’t produce this kind of a reaction in their daily walk and worship of God do not belong enough to Jesus Christ for there to be any fragrance—if you belong to the world, then you smell like the world. For all your praying, giving, and serving, if some people don’t say, “That is the smell of death” without you having done anything, you can’t say you belong to Jesus Christ. Oh, you might have the religion of the world and put that cologne on. They would say, Oh, that’s a little overpowering, I don’t want anything to do with that. “ We’re talking about the fragrance of life, or the smell of death. Why are we called a cult? Because we stink to some. They would avoid us like they would avoid death.Another reason that we’re called a cult is because people don’t stay with Jesus Christ. They get started, they begin to pick up their crosses, repent of sins, and seek Jesus Christ, but they turn back and no longer follow.

John 6:66 – From this time many…

Not a few, not a small number, not an insignificant amount, but many of His disciples. Those who were in process of learning and walking in His footsteps. Those who were right behind Him, those who listened well. They were reasoning, thinking, and praying. They might have spent years with Jesus Christ. I know many people who have been in this body, and have spent years seeking after Jesus Christ. Eventually they reached a point and said, “I don’t want any more of this.” When they left, they didn’t go out and say, “Oh, I just want to go to hell, I don’t want Jesus Christ.” They always blame somebody else. Just as the world always blames somebody else for their problem, so too when they leave they say, “Oh, they’re bad,” and “They’re mean,” “They’re wicked,” “They’re unloving and unkind.” Out of that flows a whole host of things that come under the banner of the word “cult.”

John 6:66 – From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

And Jesus turns to the others and he says:

John 6:67 – “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

There will be in any church—a true church that belongs to Jesus Christ—those who turn back and no longer follow. There will be plenty of people who come through those doors and leave because they don’t want to continue to follow Jesus Christ. It happened to Jesus Christ and His many disciples, so it will happen to those who understood the doctrines, listened to the sermon tapes, prayed, repented, and did all of those things. They will decide they have had enough and no longer follow Jesus Christ. They will leave and say all manner of things against Jesus Christ and those who love Him. They have a worldly sorrow that brought death.

2 Corinthians 7:10 – Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

They were sorry for their sins, but it was a worldly sorrow. They were sorry they were caught. They didn’t like the sins in their life and they wanted to give them up. There are a lot of people that come to Jesus Christ like that. “Yeah, I’m tired of this over here,” “I’m tired I’m in this miserable situation.” That is a far contrast from giving up sin for what it is—sinfulness. Everybody wants to be happy and full of peace. Everybody wants something from Jesus Christ and God. Many are sorry for the sins in their life, so they come forward. They may weep and do all manner of things, but it is a worldly sorrow that brings death. So they turn back and no longer follow. When they leave, they become enraged, and embittered. They blame God and other men. They don’t leave honestly, saying, “I don’t want to be a part of Jesus Christ anymore.” Sometimes those who left before, start off saying, “You know, everything they say is right. It’s my fault.” But that disappears over a period of time. Because inside, man know God’s judgment is coming. He knows he doesn’t want to give up his sin. He knows he is playing the game, and that he had his chance. So he becomes angry at God, and the anger turns to rage and violence.

Proverbs 19:3 – A man’s own folly ruins his life…

It is their fault. All the prayers have been said and done for them, all the love has been shown to them, and God has poured out everything for them, but they refuse to repent. Their own folly destroys them. Yet what is this reaction?

Proverbs 19:3 – …yet his heart…

Deep inside…

Proverbs 19:3 – …yet his heart rages against the LORD.

The violence within his heart says, “I am not at fault,” and “I am not guilty and I’m angry at God because He judges me.” And if preaching reveals the hearts of men, if salting it exposes their sin and they refuse to repent, who will they rage against? Who will they strike at? God is pretty hard to hit against, isn’t He? You cannot go out these doors and say, “Okay, God, come on down, we will wrestle this thing out and I will strike against You.” So instead you strike at those around Him that are easy targets. You strike at His children. So for everybody that comes in here, and decides they don’t want to follow Jesus Christ after a period of time, they will leave being your enemies raging against God. Being called a cult is no special thing. It’s the minimum in Jesus Christ. The minimum.Remember Jesus Christ was perfect, but he was compared to Beelzebub, wasn’t He? I don’t know about any of you here, but I’m not Jesus Christ, and I’m not perfect—I’m far, far from it. It takes a lot of time for God to get through, to perfect me and make me holy. Along the way I stumble and sin or make mistakes. So those who don’t want the message of the cross, look for each stumbling, or fault. They look for any thing that is wrong, and they rage and say, “See, he’s a vile man, he’s a corrupt man,” “He’s a wicked man. He’s a cult leader,” “He has all kinds of motives behind the scenes,” “He brainwashes people. He uses people for his own gratification.”

Psalm 69:21-22 – They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap.

Where did they give Jesus Christ something to drink that was bitter? At the cross. If you pick up your cross following Jesus Christ, they will mock you and ridicule you. Every mistake you make and every sin you commit will be used against you. You will be proof to them that you are a cult, that Christianity is false, and that you really do love wickedness rather than God. When people first come to the Body here, when they first come to Jesus Christ, they’re not full of courage—I haven’t seen it yet. Everything they do in terms of reaching out, saying “no” to their family, “yes” to their family, their coworkers, or whatever it might be, it’s always loaded with all kinds of mistakes. It’s grievous. I don’t like it. I warn you, we warn one another—we still go out and do it, but the point is, we have to grow up in Jesus Christ. As we grow up in Jesus Christ, everybody around us will keep a log of the wrong that we do.

Psalm 69:23-25 – May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents.

Now why did this person pray this prayer? This needs to be a warning to everybody in this Body. If you leave—if you turn your back on Jesus Christ and take information from the intimate fellowship here and spread that around as gossip; if you make it seem derogatory when there is good here, this is the judgment that is prayed against you.

Psalm 69:26 – For they persecute those you wound…

It is true, that God has to discipline all of us. It is true that I will be disciplined for my sins, my faults, my mistakes, and everything that is not of Jesus Christ. But there are two reactions—those of a noble and good heart know that they’re not far behind, and they know that God is working an ultimate good to conform that person to be like Jesus Christ. They see more than the externals, they see the heart.Let me give you an example: It would have been like being with David. You are in King David’s kingdom, and he’s your king. And he gets caught in the sin of adultery. So you ridicule, persecute, and take advantage of that by saying, “Oh, see how God has to discipline him? God had to destroy the child, and now he’s been on the run for all of these years because of the sin he committed. I knew that David was always a wicked man, I knew he had that lust in his heart. Look at all the wives he had, and all the concubines. He went against the law and had all those things. David is a vile man of God and I knew it from the beginning!” “They persecute those who you discipline,”—those God wounded and they talk about the pain of those God hurt. Because their motives and hearts are not pure, they assume everybody else’s heart is just like theirs. I don’t know about you, but I would want to stand next to David. I’d want to see more than the external. I would want to call him brother. Yes, he sinned and made a lot of mistakes. And he paid heavily for them time and time and time again, but I would rather go down with a David than to hang with a Saul. Now I’m not justifying sin or adultery—you know all of that.

Psalm 69:27 – Charge them with crime upon crime

And then the most grievous statement—look at what he prayed here:

Psalm 69:27 – do not let them share in your salvation.

When somebody comes into a body, any church that fellowships and loves by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they experience it, then decide they don’t want it—for whatever reasons—and leave, and take that information and use it to inflame the gossip and slander of others—then what?

Psalm 69:27-28 – do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life

They might have been Christians, they might have been written in the book of life, but they will be blotted out.

Psalm 69:28 – May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.

It is not a minor thing when somebody goes around spreading slander, gossip, or saying, “Oh, that’s a cult.” You had better be sure you have the Holy Spirit in what you say.Around here we don’t deal with externals—we don’t have, for all the slander out there, 50,000 rules you have to obey. You only have one rule to obey, and that’s to pick up your cross and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. That’s it.

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active.

If the Word of God is alive in a church—this is part of the fragrance that you can’t control this issue. “For the word of God is living and active” that means the Bible is alive and active in the church. What does it begin to do and how does it move within a church?

Hebrews 4:12 – Sharper than any double-edged sword…

It comes against us as a sword to cut through our life. Our fine little excuses and justifications, our little arguments over here and our opinions there, and our flesh, the Word of God is able to cut through all of that and expose it for what it is. If a man does not rejoice in the shame and humiliation of the cross, he will become embittered and say, “They’re always judging me, and I always feel condemnation. It’s a cult because they use fear and intimidation to keep people in the ranks.”

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates…

It moves, it has life—I couldn’t control it if I wanted to. The only way that I could stop this from happening is to stop following Jesus Christ. It’s that simple. People think cult leaders run around looking for everybody’s sin or that I go around looking, making a list, and seeing what sins I can find—I don’t have to do any of that. The Word of God, if it is alive here—and you will have to make that determination yourself—will seek you out and find you. Your heart will be exposed and the thing you love the most—the highest idol in your heart—will be found. You won’t like it, I guarantee you, you won’t like it. No more than Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, liked it. When people leave here and call us a cult, it would be amazing if they didn’t.

Hebrews 4:12 – Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges…

Let’s forget that it’s even for real, the doctrine of the church judging people. “You’re putting me under judgment, you’re bringing me condemnation.” It’s the Word of God; Isaiah said it’s a hammer. It judges the thoughts and the attitudes, not of our mind, but what is in the heart. The church today says, “Oh, you don’t know my heart, only God knows my heart.” And that’s certainly a true statement, but what they seem to forget is that if the Word of God is alive in a church, everybody’s heart will be exposed, and most of you in here know exactly what I’m talking about. You know that it is beyond you, it is beyond the sermon, it is beyond anything that man could create. It is no wonder that people leave and say that it’s a cult—they feel judged. They feel like their heart isn’t in the proper place, they’re always under a microscope, or whatever excuses they have. Yeah, it’s called the Word of God!People have often told me, “Well, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” So everybody says it’s a cult. Well, that fire can either be a forest fire that’s destroying everything or it can be an altar of fire of worship unto the Lord. Each person has to decide that themselves.But let me put it to you this way. You might conclude that we’re a cult, but you still gotta go find yourself the good cult. Because any church that belongs to Jesus Christ will be called a cult, so just show me the right cult, and I’ll come. You won’t get away from that issue. If you do, you’re away from Jesus Christ.Everybody knows Pharisees are bad guys. So you don’t find ministries today called The Ministry of Pharisees, (Laughter) Sadducees Plus. Instead they’re called Discernment Ministries today. Each little group judges another little group, and looks for little things over here and faults over there and doctrines over here and things out of kilter. I have yet to find a single discernment ministry that wasn’t blocking Jesus Christ. You can’t even get up and preach, or say anything because every word is examined and every “i” has to be dotted, and every “t” crossed. Did we think the Pharisees all disappeared and went away? They’re somewhere.

Matthew 22:15 – Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.

Is it any wonder that we’re labeled a cult? No Pharisee will like a cult. In fact, it puffs them up to find that they can ridicule someone, it makes ’em feel good. So they go out and lay plans. Have they ever asked questions? You know they’re leading you somewhere. They’re not interested in the truth. They don’t listen to what you have to answer. They’re asking you questions so they can get you over here, or pronounce their judgments over there.

Matthew 22:15 – Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.

We’ll go through the same thing. Any church that follows Jesus Christ, any church that is of Jesus Christ, will have Pharisees laying plans, contemplating, reasoning, thinking, and seeking to trap. They’ll yell the word “cult” till they’re blue in the face. I don’t have time to look at all the reasons and motives. It’s just gonna happen. It’s just a fact of life—of belonging to Jesus Christ.

Matthew 22:16 – They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said,

They always come with a little respect, a little joy here, and a little flattery.

Matthew 22:16 – “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.”

They always come across concerned and flattering about who you are, but they lay down a trap. So they always say, “We’re just concerned for the welfare of other people, we don’t want to see them taken in. We’re the standard and we know the truth. We’re able to examine all these things and we’re well respected. We don’t have any ulterior motive. Hey, You’re a man of integrity, Jesus. You’re good at this Jesus, we know You are, and we just want the truth.”

Matthew 22:17 – Tell us then, what is your opinion?

You always hear among many discernment ministries: “That’s your opinion,” and “What is your opinion?” “Jesus, what is Your opinion?”

Matthew 22:17 – Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Jesus didn’t win any friends with this reply:

Matthew 22:18 – But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?”

Now that just makes them all the madder. Because you’re not playing their game. When these men come to trap, examine, and look, you reveal their evil intent. What will they do, will they leave and say, “You know, he was righteous, I really did have an evil intent. He was correct, he heard from Holy Spirit”? We’ve had people come and visit and immediately the evil intent is exposed. We talk to them about it and you hear about it during the rest of the week, don’t you?

Let’s get down to the central reason why we’re called a cult.

1 John 5:19 – We know that we are children of God…

I know it sounded self-righteous in the beginning to say, “We belong to Jesus Christ because we’re called a cult.” It’s just the way it goes. We belong to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit confirms it.

1 John 5:19 – We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

The whole world is under the control of Satan. If you’re not the smell of death and the fragrance of life, if your church is not called a cult, who do you belong to? There is no gray area. You either fully belong to Jesus Christ, or you’re controlled by the evil one. Controlled. Not, a little influenced. Not, a little manipulated. You belong to him, and he controls you. So why wouldn’t we be called a cult and all kinds of things? In fact, in Revelation it says:

Revelation 12:12 – Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.

His is angry and furious. He seeks to destroy, and he’ll leave nothing unturned until that is done. He will use everyone he can to inflame it. As we’ve already seen, it will get worse, not better.So let’s see this in action. Paul was accused of being a ringleader of the Nazarene sect. “Sect” is another word for cult—that’s all it means.

Acts 28:22 – But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.

People come into our bookstore all the time, saying, “I heard some things.” We get it all the time. It doesn’t surprise us, and we’re not indignant about it. We don’t get all self-righteous about it, it is just a fact. “Really, what did you hear?” When we think that we haven’t heard anything new, we get to hear something new. But if you belong to Jesus Christ, people everywhere, because Satan is charge of the world, will be talking against the sect or the cult. That’s why people will often say, “I’m not coming to church because everybody says it’s a cult.” Don’t you see, that’s exactly why you should come! If in the world, everybody’s saying, “Oh, it’s a really good church,”—don’t go!

In Acts chapter 24, Paul was brought in before a governor.

Acts 24:2 – When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix…

I love they way these guys talk—we don’t have time to look at it in detail.

Acts 24:2-4 – We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. But in order not to weary you further…

More concerned about your welfare, of course.

Acts 24:4 – I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.

A nice little introduction, a little flattery, and then getting on with the program. You know, “We’re nice guys, we have some facts that he’s a cult leader,” and guess what?

Acts 24:5 – We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world.

Really? All over the world? South America? Canada? (Laughter) Satan is enraged, and he will use anyone. “It’s a cult! They’re brainwashed! Run for the hills! Save your children!”Remember the first preaching job I told you about? I made the drastic mistake of wanting to have the kids down to the trailer they bought us. We had the kids over for some devotional time. Carla and I decided to serve cookies and Kool-Aid. Several months later that was used against us. One guy sat in front of the church, and said, “Can’t you see the pattern?” Men will become inflamed and you will see a response out of men that you would not expect.

Acts 24:5 – We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect…

All you gotta do is throw in today’s lingo. “We have found this man to stir up division within the church, and causing trouble everywhere he goes. His tracts are divisive in nature, and he is the brainwasher of the group.”

Acts 24:6 – and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.

Acts 24:8 – By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.

They are so confident, and so sure. Indeed, in their minds they probably are sure that these things are true. “Just examine it yourself, just look and see.” Paul said:

Acts 24:14 – However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect.

Or in other words, “Which they call a cult.”

Acts 24:14 – I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,

He had the same hope they did. These weren’t pagans, or Buddhists. They weren’t outside Paul’s Christianity or religion. This was from the people that should have known and hungered for the truth. That’s where the slander comes from most of the time. Most people who know us that aren’t Christians respect greatly what we do and what we live. It’s those who claim to belong to the truth that slander the most.The only reason the church is not labeled a cult is because it doesn’t live enough Christianity to be of Jesus Christ. It’s really that simple. I don’t have time to go into all of it—that’s why I wrote the book Eau de cult. But let me give you one example: If the church lived this next passage, we’d be called a cult. Just one scripture. And it’s the basis for everything Jesus Christ taught.

John 13:35 – By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

For all the praying out there for revival, all the talk of the church being a place of love, and everybody’s seeking to love one another, the church doesn’t even live this one scripture. Not by the power of the Holy Spirit anyway.

John 15:12-14 – My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

So this all comes down to the commandment that Jesus Christ gave—the one thing that shows whether you belong to Jesus Christ or not. Let’s go to that one scripture then and apply it to every church and every person we know who claims to be a Christian. Again, for all the fancy preaching that’s going on and all the seminars and all the talk, if you quote Acts chapter 4:31, and tell the church you live this they will accuse you of being in a cult. But Jesus Christ said, “If you love one another, this demonstrates that you belong to Me.” So let’s look at the first church, and let’s see how they loved one another.

Acts 4:31 – After they prayed,

This is the result of the prayer, not large numbers, not a blessing of their ministry, or a promotion of themselves.

Acts 4:31 – After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

And what does it mean to speak the Word of God boldly? Let’s look at their lives:

Acts 4:32 – All the believers were one in heart and mind.

The best that the church can do today is to agree to disagree. The best it can do is get five basic doctrines, the Trinity, a few other minor details, and, of course, tithing is in there somewhere. We all agree with that, and then we put all the doctrines, and anything else we disagree with over there in the corner. We can’t even live this one scripture!They were one in heart! That is, they had no division. They contended as one man for the Gospel, and if there was division, or a difference in understanding, God worked it out until there was unity. Suppose somebody walked into a church and they all were one in heart. Everybody moving the same and everybody with the same fire; immediately you will be labeled brainwashed. Especially if you get to the next one; they were one in mind. That means if you talk to me, and talk to somebody else, you would hear the exact same thing. Then if you go talk to somebody else, you would hear the exact same thing over there, because the Holy Spirit has one mind, and the Holy Spirit is working that mind through the whole congregation. The only conclusion that the worldly and the simple can come to is that somebody brainwashed all those people. But if you walk into a church everybody sits around in their little Bible studies and everybody in the circle gives their little opinion about what’s being said, and they call that Jesus Christ. They don’t call that a cult. “Oh, that’s Christianity!” So if everybody thinks together, everybody has one heart, that’s a cult! No, it’s a matter of love. I love you enough to give up my opinion about what Scripture says or what color my car should be, or whatever it is, I will sacrifice my opinion to the cross. It is a matter of love.It is a matter of love that if God wants to do something in your life, and He wants to glorify His name, my heart beats with you as if I were called to do it myself. There is no selfishness here, not each person trying to get their ministry, and climbing on everybody else’s back to promote themselves. It is one heart, and if one part of the body is exalted, every part rejoices, because it is one heart. But the world and the worldly will call it a cult. It is the very beginning; it is the foundational stone; it is what it means to be a church that belongs to Jesus Christ. When I walk into a church and they hand me their doctrinal beliefs, I’m supposed to look at a piece of paper and say, “Okay, that’s what I agree with, now I do belong to this church?” Where is the love? Where is the perfect unity in mind? Where is the thinking that comes from the heart of Jesus Christ? Look at this next verse:

Acts 4:32 – No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own…

The church can’t even do verse 32. Forget everything else about all the different doctrines out there. We do that here, so people say we’re a cult. In fact, they say that I own everybody’s property. There was a rumor going around that in order to join this body you had to sign a quit claim deed. Because we ask, pray, and plead with God to crucify us, teach us to hate and despise our things and money enough that we have all things in common. This should be of no surprise to any church in Jesus Christ. If they’re living the foundation, the basics of love, it should be of no surprise. They should say, “Yeah, they belong to Jesus Christ!” Instead everybody’s terrified and afraid. The bottom line is, everybody’s greedy, so you don’t want to give up your things, your opinion, so forget all the flowery speeches.

Acts 4:32 – No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

No wonder verse 33 is true.

Acts 4:33 – With great power the apostles continued to testify…

Forget all the Bible colleges, the prayers for revival meetings, all the projects, money advertising, and all the things that go on. What gives the Gospel great power is for the apostles to go out and say, “The apostles preached that Jesus said you have to hate and despise your money.” “You know only a fool delights airing his opinion.” “Jesus Christ said that we are to love one another and lay down our lives for one another.”

Acts 4:33 – With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.

It’s not an amazing thing that Sound Doctrine’s called a cult. It’s not an amazing thing that our brothers and sisters in China are brought before judges, sent to camps, tortured and killed, because they belong to a cult. It is the smell of death to some, and the fragrance of life to others. And each man has to decide what that smell is to him. Let’s go ahead and pray.Lord, we ask that You continue to glorify Your name. Forgive us, O Lord, where we fall short in this, and show us those things. Search out our hearts and divide bone from marrow. We pray, Father, You’d strengthen those around the world that seek Your face. Fill them with Your love, O Lord, enable them to speak the Word of God with great boldness. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.


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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.