Religious Counterfeits

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians was taken aback that the Christians had turned away from the AUTHENTIC Gospel.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” [Gal 1:6-7]

We’re still being surprised by this reality, that folks are turning away from Christ, to another gospel message, which is NOT a gospel that can save.

It is no surprise to the regular readers of this paper to learn that God has warned us to beware of RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.

Who are RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS?

Paul wrote to warn Timothy about those, “Having a form of godliness,” who would be…

“…lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” [1Tim 3:1-5]

He warned that they would creep in and lead away unsuspecting people. They would be constantly learning but never comprehending the truth. It reminds me of folks who regularly read the Bible but fail to see the basic truths about salvation.

A RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEIT comes in many forms. They would be wolves in sheep’s clothing. This means that they will appear as nice folks. This should also be of no surprise for we know, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” [2Cor 11:14]

Our Lord also warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” [Mat 7:15]

But He gave us hope in that we could know who they are. We can know them by their fruit. But we aren’t to stop there, for they will be doing many seemingly good things. Jesus said He would not accept those who haven’t obeyed Him…

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” [Mat 7:22]

It’s not enough to observe their fruit, we must also observe their teaching and compare it to the written word of God. This was our Lord’s point, and later it was Paul’s point to the Galatians.

“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:9]

For us to be able to discover and to ward off the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS, we must be skilled in God’s word. This will require us to be regular students of the Bible. God’s word is our only defense from the attacks of the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.

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You’re Rich

Ingratitude is one of the worst diseases of the mind one can have. It stems from failing to recognize the good that we enjoy, failing to appreciate (see the value of) the things we have received and failure to recognize from whom we received these good things.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” [James 1:17]

Another part of ingratitude is perspective. We tend to only see what’s missing in our lives without ever looking to see what is missing in another’s life. This narrow perspective warps our attitude and hinders our ability to be happy. More importantly, it hinders our ability to serve.

I came across this ‘test’ developed by Robert Heilbroner, who studies world conditions of the poor. He suggests we do the following 12 things to give us a better perspective about wealth:

  1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blankets and pads for beds.
  2. Take away all your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt, or blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.
  3. Empty the pantry and refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
  4. Dismantle the bathrooms, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
  5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
  6. Place your “house” in shantytown.
  7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss, because none of you can read anyway.
  8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
  9. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.
  10. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a mid-wife in charge instead of a doctor.
  11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which 1/3 will go to the landlord and a tenth to the money lenders.
  12. Lop off 25 years of life expectancy.

Pretty sobering, isn’t it? Made me want to sing the song “Count Your Blessings” over and over again.

 

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,

And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Refrain:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God has done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Johnson Oatman, Jr., pub.1897