Christian Destiny Christian Destiny
The Marks of a Cult

by Dr. Dave Breese

2. Salvation by works

Salvation by works is the teaching that eternal life depends on some other basis than our faith in the work of Christ on the cross. Eternal life is therefore dependent not upon the grace of God, but upon human responsibility.

The message of the gospel of Christ is that we are saved by grace alone. “For 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 2:8,9). We are totally justified on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and we receive every spiritual blessing that God has for us, especially the blessing of eternal life, by an act of faith in which we receive Christ as Savior. The Christian is “justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28); he has received the whole thing apart from works, by faith alone.

The religious cults make no such offer. Their message finally boils down to a slavish servitude to a set of obligations and practices which offer salvation only by obedience to some law. The Scriptures tell us that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). To every person who is tempted to become involved in a legalistic religion that offers salvation by works, the Apostle Paul writes, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Salvation that is dependent upon human works is no salvation at all, it is a cultic delusion.


1. Extra-Biblical Revelation — False doctrine from outside the Bible

2. Salvation by works — Denial of salvation by faith alone

3. Uncertain Hope — Cultistis are never sure of heaven

4. Presumptuous Messianic Leadership — Arrogant religious rulers command others

5. Doctrinal ambiguity

6. Denunciation of Others — All others are infidels, reprobates

7. Claim of “Special Discoveries”

8. Defective Christology — Denial of the Deity or humanity of Christ

9. Segmented Biblical Attention — Ignoring the whole counsel of God

10. Entangling Organizational Structure — Membership equals salvation

11. Financial Exploitation — Money is the object


This 1981 booklet is an early version of what later became the full-length book, The Marks of a Cult: The Warning Signs of False Teachings, published by Harvest House.
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The Marks of a Cult