1. Was Jesus, who was different from the mainstream, of a cult?
The First, 2,000 years ago, was Jesus from the mainstream religion or not? If their insistence were right, Jesus and all the saints of the early Church who followed Him would be a cult because He was from a non-mainstream religion. The second, Do you know why Jesus was persecuted by the religious leaders and crucified? It was because they regarded Jesus as the leader of a non-mainstream religion, a non-legitimate cult and a heresy. Using their strong point of having many members, they persecuted the true Church, calling it a non-legitimate Church.
The third, In the time of the early Church, when a lawyer named Tertullus, who spoke for the high priests and elders, presented Paul’s case, he said, “We have found this man [Paul] to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.”
- Ac 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」
Here, “the Nazarene sect” indicates Jesus. Those from the mainstream religion, who claimed to be legitimate, condemned Jesus, calling Him the Nazarene sect, and accused Paul of being His ringleader.
2. Legitimacy and Non-legitimacy according to the Bible
How do we distinguish legitimacy from non-legitimacy? Legitimacy and cults are not distinguished by whether or not the church is of mainstream, but by the fact if it was established by God or if it was established by men. The Church, established by God, keeps God’s commandments; and the churches, established by men, keep the rules of men.
Today, there are people who keep the rules of men, which are not based on the Bible, such as Sunday service, Christmas, Thanksgiving Day, etc. No matter how many they are, they are a cult and non-legitimate, which cannot be recognized by God.
- Mt 15:7~9「You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”」
Therefore, it is non-biblical and a lie to insist that the Church of God is a cult and non-legitimate because it is different from the mainstream Christianity.