I was extremely upset and enraged by the news stories on Providence Church, better known as JMS, which is a South Korean religious cult that believes that Jung Myeong Seok, the founder of Providence church, is the Messiah. Young women were reported to have suffered sexual assault by the founder, in silence, because they were afraid that they would lose their salvation. Reading this made me realise just how important it is to have a proper understanding of eschatology, in other words, the doctrine of the end times.
While preaching with the Book of Revelation and Daniel, I spent some time talking about dispensational eschatology, which at its core is a study on how God will keep his promises to Israel and the church when the end times arrive. This in of itself isn’t a heretic belief, but all cults subscribe to dispensational eschatology: the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Mormon Church, Jehovah’s Witness, the Unification Church, Shincheonji Church of Jesus, World Mission Society Church of God, the Church of Almighty God (Eastern Lightening), and JMS.
These cults completely misinterpret apocalyptic literature. They focus too much on specific times and dates, e.g. the meaning of “a time, times and half a time” or “1260 days” in Daniel or similar references in the Book of Revelation, and through various misinterpretations of these verses, create a way to weave their leader or organisation into these supposed end times timelines. If they can manage to link these times to salvation, even better, as that transforms people into radical supporters who blindly follow the teachings of the cult.
On top of this, these cults come with spiritual experiences. There really is a spirit of falsehood. No matter how well educated you are, these spiritual experiences can quite easily tempt you to join cults. When I was in university, a sister in the same missionary organisation as me was persuaded into joining a club without appreciating that it was associated with JMS. Thankfully, she realised this one day when she stumbled upon the club members praying fanatically when she had returned to her club room to collect her bag.
So it’s important to teach Christians to live in the Holy Spirit. It is foolish and dangerous to say that following completion of the Bible, the role of the Holy Spirit is now very limited. Even cults can create spiritual experiences through the spirit of falsehood – therefore, it is important to allow Christians who believe in the Holy Spirit, the one and only proper spirit of God, to walk together with the Holy Spirit.
We also need to teach God’s word properly. Most importantly, we need to be wary of dispensational eschatology, which is often used by heretical churches to come up with some sort of timetable for the end times. We need to turn people away from trying to calculate the exact time for Jesus’ Second Coming.
We need to help Christians understand that the gospel is enough, and that knowing, following and serving Jesus Christ is the best way to prepare for the Second Coming. We need to teach reformed theology, which was taught by the church even before dispensationalism. If not, cults will continue to arise and exploit good Christians using eschatology. While Jesus and Paul did prophesy that these sorts of falsehoods would come up, our teachings should not be supporting these lies.
All this makes me realise how much more I need to yearn for the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life, and devote myself further to studying the bible.