Were They Ever Converted?
What is the spiritual status of those in the WCG offshoots? Do they believe in Christ the way other mainstream Christians do?
Following are answers from three people in ESN:
From William Hohmann of ESN:
The ones who receive the Holy Spirit are those who believe the Gospel (i.e., the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus). Having the Holy Spirit, which is very God, is the seal of salvation. So the question that arises from this is, does God give His Spirit to those who believe a false gospel? I have to conclude He does not.
A false gospel sets up other things as being necessary for salvation “besides” God. In the WCG offshoots the Law is taught as required in order to “maintain” one’s salvation, which is the same as saying one must keep the Law in order to be saved. This sets up the Law as a savior. It sets the Law up as a “god.” Scripture states that God is a jealous God, and He will not tolerate us having other gods “besides” Him.
So, for the time being, I would conclude members of the PCG, RCG, UCG, LCG, as well as anyone else who has bought into a false gospel where anything else besides faith in Christ alone, are not at this time in the saved category. I also lean to the understanding that this does not mean that this condition will not change. I see all this as an important lesson for all people to learn; that it is very easy for us to be deceived and misled.
Those who live by the Law are judged by the Law, and the judgment of the Law is always condemnation. Perhaps once they realize living by the Law is to be condemned by the Law, they will begin to have their eyes opened. In the meantime, we do what we can to tell them the truth.
“Those who are under the Law are blinded to the gospel. They have to realize the only way they are going to be saved is by grace.
But their pride to the Law blocks them from believing this.” ~Bob George
From AJW of ESN:
These people are under mind control and have had a veil placed over their hearts. They are taught a false gospel, a false God, a false Jesus, and don’t believe in the personage of the Holy Spirit. I believe there is a false spirit working inside these groups, and if the doctrine is false, then the “spirit” giving the “new revelation” is not the Spirit of God.
The Bible is clear that we cannot receive eternal life unless we have the Holy Spirit residing within us. The Holy Spirit (which imparts eternal life) is freely given to all who turn to Christ in faith and accept Him into their lives. Once given, it cannot be lost. John 14:16: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;”
When we are led by the Spirit of God, we are not under the Law. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18) Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4)
From personal experience, I know and believe that there have been those who were converted before they joined PCG, UCG, RCG, etc. They get caught up into teachings that are not sound because they may not have known what the Word was and are deceived by thought reform tactics into joining these groups and coming to believe that the Holy Spirit is only a “force.” This doesn’t mean they have walked away from Jesus, but the Holy Spirit will be hindered in their lives.
I believe that these people who were converted beforehand are eventually drawn out of these groups and back to a relationship with Christ (although it usually takes time for their minds to be healed). Whether someone can genuinely be converted in these groups and receive the Holy Spirit, I can’t say, Only God knows for sure who His real sheep are. But if someone denounces the name of Jesus, they were never converted in the first place. If you are in Christ Jesus, the Spirit will testify that you are His.
“You can’t be abiding in Christ Jesus and abiding in error at the same time.” ~Bob George
From L. S. of ESN:
There is a line between whether someone is saved or not saved.
The people in the WCG offshoots such as PCG, RCG, UCG, etc. are never sure if they will receive eternal life as they are always kept in a state of anxiety and fear of God’s judgment or the Great Tribulation if they don’t do enough works. They don’t believe that faith alone in Christ is sufficient for salvation. They always add works from the Law (mixing grace with works which the Bible says can’t be done). This is a “different gospel” as Paul warns about in Galatians 1:6-9 and will bring condemnation. The Bible is consistently clear that when we accept Christ Jesus by grace, through faith, we receive the Holy Spirit, and therefore, have eternal life which can never be lost. The Holy Spirit is God and not merely a force.
Posted by Exit & Support Network™
April 27, 2021
Updated September 18, 2023
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves,
how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” ~II Corinthians 13:5
Answering Those Who Question the Conversion of Those Who Were in WCG:
The following is the result of a letter we received that said in part: “People who are truly converted would not ever join the WCG, they would know the gospel, the message of salvation. They would know the law is not the way. … no member of the WCG was converted.” This person wanted to argue and insist that no one could be converted prior to going into the WCG, which is false.
Reply from D. M. Williams of ESN:
There were no doubt many in WCG (ministers especially) who were not converted but there were also those that were converted before they came into WCG.
Read the plain text of the article “Dispelling the Myths“1 by Paul R. Martin (the late founder of Wellspring Retreat). When the page opens, click on “This File / Plain Text” in the right top, as the main article is hard to read due to no paragraphs. You can then copy and paste the entire article into a word processor such as Libre Office so that it is clearer to read and not on a black background. I received this magazine article years ago and printed it off at that time. This article by Paul Martin clearly shows Christians do go into abusive, aberrant, cultic groups.
There were some people in the WCG that clearly had their prayers answered. Would God answer the prayers of those not converted? God can do whatever He wants. It is up to Him. However, the unconverted don’t have a personal relationship with God apart from Christ.
If someone was converted but then came into WCG, thought reform techniques were used to deceive them. (Much about these techniques are covered elsewhere on our site to explain this. See Mind Control & Exploitation for starters.)
Deceptive groups often will claim to be “Christian” and the “one true church.” The converted person that went into WCG did not clearly understand about Law and grace (which HWA then managed to twist) and most were unaware of deceptive religious groups in society and how they work to deceive others, including withholding vital information. How many of those prior converted people even thought to check out WCG or HWA ahead of time? They usually did not. Once inside, the person comes under more of the mind control, especially the fear to leave what they have come to believe is the “one true church.” WCG was not considered a cult solely on the basis of its doctrines, but because of it’s abusive methods.
Let us not be so quick to judge others as “not being converted if they were in WCG.”
Reply from Bill Hohmann of ESN:
This may well be true [that most were not converted]. However, there is a possible glitch in this line of reasoning.
In Acts 15, the Pharisee Christians thought the Gentiles had to undergo circumcision in order to be saved. They were in the church. It could be argued that they were not converted, but nothing in the narrative addresses this possibility. It is apparent that they were considered to be converted, and it is apparent that the Jews who were in the church still kept the law, even zealous for the law (Acts 21:20 “And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:”).
It took time for the early church and Jews to “catch on” regarding the role of the law, but it was established at this conference that Gentiles were not required to keep the law; any of it, and that teaching them the law was to subvert their souls.
My own experience reflects what you wrote. But, I can’t speak for others. I would normally concur with your conclusion, but sometimes, things are not so black and white.
People who did join the WCG did not know or understand the true gospel, ergo they bought into Armstrong’s false gospel, where there is no conversion or salvation.
Someone who may well have understood and believed the gospel might well have bought into the concept that one had to keep the law, or some of it, in order to “not sin” as it was sold. Were those Pharisees in the church as mentioned in Acts 15 in this category? [of teaching a false gospel of works]
Posted by Exit & Support Network™
March 20, 2022
Updated July 23, 2022
1 This article by the late Paul Martin was published in 1989 in Christian Research Journal. Be aware that CRI is an organization/ministry we do not endorse today and we have shown why in our OIU Newsletters (search for the words: “The CRI Story”). For more in-depth info, see this report on CRI: Christian Research Institute – Part I.
Recommended Articles and Q&A:
Belief implies trust in Jesus and by this faith you are saved by Don Koenig [offsite article; also covers the Holy Spirit]
Jesus is the only way to God because Jesus is God by Don Koenig [offsite article]
Back to Grace & Law (many articles)