Saturday, March 24, 2012

Living in a Counterfeit World - Are You For Real?

It is hard to know what is real anymore.  Purses, shoes, clothes, even money can all be counterfeit these days.  When I see a woman with a Gucci purse, glitzy jewelry, and name-brand clothing getting into a 1982 Honda, I admit, I'm skeptical!  Something just doesn't line up!  Remember on Sesame Street (or was it Electric Company) where they showed four things and said "Which one of these things doesn't belong?"  The woman's older car makes me think,  "Are any of those items she's wearing really designer brands?"  I allow my thoughts to ponder what she values. Does she value only those things that look real but settles for a counterfeit?  

I know I'm guilty of doing some of those same things.  I wear very cheap zirconia earrings when I play tennis. Several ladies wear their pretty jewelry while playing tennis and I guess I think I need to look just as fashionable! If you've ever seen me play tennis you'll know that my earrings are the least of my worries! When I first started playing tennis matches, my partner and I observed our opponents huddling up to strategize against us.  I walked over to my partner, Penny, and said, "I've got no strategy...but it looks like we are going to have to buy some jewelry to play this game!"  I was joking but it occurs to me that I have also valued counterfeit items in my life because they look like the real thing.

Can you spot a counterfeit? At times it is simple enough to tell the difference between something that is real or fake.  What about your faith?  Are you aware of what you allow to influence what you believe?  Anytime we put our faith in something or someone other than God's Holy Word we are in danger of placing our trust in a counterfeit belief system.  I was challenged by a sermon from Adrian Rogers about spotting a counterfeit.  Below is a summary from his sermon of how to spot a counterfeit.

False teachers or false prophets have been around since Biblical times.  During the life of Paul, he traveled and wrote letters to tell people about the Lord Jesus.  Many times Paul had to address false prophets and false teachings. (Acts 20:28-30, 1 Timothy 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:3-5).  Matthew spoke of false teachers in Matthew 7:15-20.  There are five ways to spot a false prophet:

1. Source Test- What is the basis of their teaching?  Does someone give you a revelation of some other teaching? There are followers of religions who believe in "amendments" to God's Holy Word. The Mormons believe in The Book of Mormon which came about less than 200 years ago. Apparently, Joseph Smith encountered an angel who gave him golden plates with information from God, he buried them, and then lost track of where he buried them. As a middle-aged hormonal woman who constantly loses things, I feel for the poor man.  That's not to say I believe in the doctrine which the Mormon people follow.  How do they account for all Christians who lived before this time?  This belief system just leaves me scratching my head.  Adding or taking away from God's Word is covered in:
Deuteronomy 4:2
Deuteronomy 12:32
Proverbs 30:5-6
Ecclesiastes 3:14
Galatians 1:6-12 (This passage alone would scare me if I was a Mormon)
Revelation 22:18-19

2. Savior Test- Do you worship Jesus Christ? Jehovah's witnesses will acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, they praise and honor Him, and they revere Him.  But they do not worship Him as Lord. The Bible is full of worship regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matt. 2:2 and 11 - the magi who came to see the newborn Jesus came to worship Him.
Matt. 8:2 - a leper came to Jesus and worshiped Him without rebuke.
Matt. 14:33 - the apostles who were in the boat worshiped Jesus without rebuke.
Matt. 28:9 - Jesus' disciples took His feet and worshiped Him without rebuke.
Matt. 28:17 - Jesus' disciples saw Him and then worshiped Him.
Mark 5:6 - the man with the unclean spirit ran to Jesus and worshiped Him.
Luke 1:11 - Mary accepts Elizabeth's declaration "the Mother of my Lord" = the Mother of my God (Elizabeth used the word "Adonai" which means "Lord God").
Luke 24:52 - as Jesus ascended into heaven, the apostles worshiped Him.
John 9:38 - the blind man who was cured by Jesus worshiped Him.
John 20:28 - Jesus accepts Thomas' statement "My Lord and my God!" Literally, "the Lord of me and the God of me!" 

3. Subject Test- Does the teaching line up with what is in the Bible?  The Old Testament states Jesus is coming. The New Testament states Jesus has come.  The Book of Revelation states that Jesus will be coming back. For anyone who wants to use historical secular sources which speak to the evidence of the life of Jesus, I encourage you to look up the following: Thallus, Celsus, Lucian of Samosata, Mara Bar-Serapion, Flavius Josephus, The Babylonian Talmud, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Justin Martyr. Many of these men who wrote of their personal accounts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection were well respected men of their day. As followers of Jesus, some were martyred for their belief in Jesus.  They suffered violent deaths.  They could have recanted their belief in Jesus to save themselves but they went to their deaths acknowledging Jesus as their Lord.

4. Salvation Test- Does what you believe in teach grace through faith that gives glory to God? Or are you believing in some form of legalism to get you into heaven? Baptism is a wonderful outward sign which tells people that you are now God's child and that you belong to Him.  Works are a great "love gift" back to God to show how much you want to serve Him. But nothing is required for salvation except admitting you are a sinner, believing Jesus died for your sins, and confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Praying the ABC's of salvation is all it takes to be saved!  God honors even the smallest amount of faith for a person to be saved. (Luke 17:6)

5. Sanctification Test- We are called to live holy lives. Let me just stop right here and say, "Yes, I know that sounds hard!" But we have been sanctified which means "set apart" by Christ.  What are we set apart from? We are set apart for God's purpose for us and from those things that cause us to revert back to our old lifestyle.  "...I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:12)  You know Jesus finished His work on the Cross over 2,000 years ago.  Don't keep Him on the cross with your old sin habits.  You are supposed to die daily to sin in your life--not Christ.  

The definition of the word "fabricate" means to concoct in order to deceive.  Do not let fabricated words or teachings worm their way into the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The greek translation of fabricate is "plastos." This is where we get our word "plastic."  Plastic is easily molded and shaped into something to fit a purpose.  Satan fabricates lies to lure you away from the Truth.  He has done this since the beginning of time-that is his purpose.  His ways are subtle and often take the form of something pleasant to lure us in.  Seek God's guidance and discernment to any teaching which does not have Jesus as its cornerstone of faith.

Dear Lord, you are Sovereign, Unchanging, and Perfect.  Thank you for The Holy Bible-your True Living Word. Thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  May you give me discernment to seek and follow the One True Living God.  May you give me discernment about what is truth and what is a lie.  Help me to never exchange the truth for a lie.  Please provide me with wisdom to understand your Word and apply it to my life. I love you Lord Jesus, Amen. 

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