Most likely, everyone who will read this knows what a counterfeit is. The “counterfeit” we most often hear about is counterfeit money. Use a twenty dollar bill or larger in most stores and you will witness the clerk use a pen made to reveal if the bill used is real or a counterfeit. A counterfeit is a fake. It is not the real thing. If we are fooled into receiving ten counterfeit one hundred dollar bills, we will have lost a thousand dollars. To most of us, that is not a little loss, that is a great loss. However, if we are deceived into becoming a counterfeit Christian, our loss is our soul and no greater loss could be experienced (Mark 8:36-37).
It would do us well to first come to the recognition that there are a lot of “counterfeit Christian” institutions among us. In order to do this, we must understand that there is just one church in the New Testament (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4), the church that Jesus built (Matt. 16:18), is the head of (Col. 1:18), died for (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25) and adds all the saved to (Acts 2:47; I Cor. 12:18). Those who have obeyed the gospel of Christ and are added to that one body and are called “Christians” (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; I Pet. 4:16). Notice from Acts 11:26 that those who are called Christians are the disciples of Christ. A disciple is a learner and a follower. In other words, only those who learn and adhere to the doctrine of Christ are true Christians. All others who call themselves “Christians” are counterfeits at best.
The land is full of differing religious organizations under an umbrella of the name “Christian”. However, the very fact that they “differ” in their doctrines and practices attest to the fact they are not all disciples of Christ, thus not really Christians. Whenever there are two doctrines which stand opposed to one another, at least one of the two must be wrong. It is true that both could be wrong, but it is not possible that both can be right. Truth is not subjective, changing from person to person and from situation to situation. According to Jesus, “…God’s word is truth” (John 17:17). Any religious organization that fails to follow precisely what God has said in His word is but a counterfeit. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21) and “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13). The psalmist said, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it…” (Psalm. 127:1). True Christianity is made up of just one church. All others are counterfeits, not the real deal.
Another realm of concern that we need to have is that even though one might be associated with the real, genuine and authentic church of the Bible, an individual can be an individual counterfeit Christian. Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah saying, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8). In the preceding verse Jesus had said, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you…” (Matt. 15:7). Many are the passages where Jesus referred to the scribes and Pharisees as being hypocrites. If you think about it, a hypocrite is nothing but a counterfeit. The word “hypocrite” comes from a word meaning a play actor or playing a part. He is one thing while presenting himself to be another. There are certainly many so-called Christians today that are nothing but play actors. Who has not seen those who presented themselves as being Christians and then in the next breath they are cursing and telling dirty jokes. On social media, it is common for one to post something about how they love Jesus and then their next post will be something entirely out of place for anyone who was truly a Christian.
Being a true, genuine Christian involves learning God’s truth and obeying that truth in a total, and from the heart, commitment. When Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in the law, He answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). Paul said of the Roman Christians, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). It is not until one obeys “from the heart” that one becomes a true Christian. It is needful for each and every one of us to examine ourselves to determine if we are a part of true Christianity or a part of a counterfeit. In like manner it is needful that we examine our hearts to determine if we are truly Christians or just counterfeits.
It is easy to check money to determine if it is genuine or counterfeit. One must secure the proper marker to mark the bill with. It is likewise easy to determine true Christianity for counterfeit Christianity. All one must do is secure a copy of the word of God and closely examine both the doctrines and practices one holds, and ones heart, to see if it harmonizes.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.