Last month the chamber of commerce issued a warning about a rash of phony 20 dollar bills being passed in McCook.
Spotting a counterfeit bill is relatively easy. So is the training on how to spot one. Bank tellers and others who handle a large amount of currency simply study the bills. Brand new or well-used, they study the bills, familiarizing themselves with the look, the feel and how they wear. They look at bills. All kinds of bills. All denominations. All ages. All conditions. Bills, bills and more bills. These bills all have one thing in common. They are all the real deal.
The one thing they don't study is a counterfeit bill. Ever. The knowledge could contaminate their finely honed skills. This way, when a counterfeit is passed, it is immediately recognized for what it's worth. Zero. Zilch. Zippo.
And possibly some time in the Federal pen.
As believers, we should exercise the same discipline when it comes to matters of the faith.
Expose yourself daily to the Word of God. Become familiar with it. Know it frontward and backward. Because counterfeit teachings are out there. They look like the real deal, feel like the real deal, but they all have one thing in common. They are worth zero, zilch, zippo.
But, even the smallest amount of truth can uncover a lie.
It is a certainty that not everyone exposed to the teachings of Jim Jones fell for his lie. Those that did paid for it with their lives.
It is equally certain that not everyone that met David Koresh followed him into the fire.
The Gospels contain the central teachings every believer should know fully and well, lest they be led astray.
Jesus is the Son of God. He is not an angel. He is not Satan's brother. He is not merely a great teacher nor simply a great prophet. He was with God in the beginning. Read the first chapter of John to familiarize yourself with the "who" of Jesus.
Jesus was fully man and fully divine, yet was without sin, although he was tempted in every way. See the fifth chapter of John and Hebrews 4:15
He willingly laid down his life, shedding his blood as the final sacrifice for sin, though in his humanity he cried for a different path. See Matthew 26:42, the first chapter of John and Hebrews 1:3; 10:12 and 12:2.
After three days, Jesus was raised from the dead in a physical, touchable body. See John 20:28 and John 21:13. It stands to reason that a spiritual body cannot cook breakfast.
He, and he alone, is seated at the right hand of God, where he lives to intercede for us. He is the Savior and the only intermediary between fallen man and Holy God. Read Hebrews 7:11-28.
He is coming back. And when he does, every one will know him for who he is, some to their glory, some to their shame. "And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Revelation 5:9
These are just the basics. But a foundation worth building on. As you continue to delve into Scripture, you may be astonished by the number of warnings given about false teachings and false teachers. The warnings are there for a reason.
Don't fall for a counterfeit. Worthless teachings, worthless idols, worthless genealogies, worthless sacrifices, worthless prayers -- without Jesus -- it's all worthless.
If anyone comes to you "in the Name of the Lord" saying "follow me, this is the way," do not neglect to ask one simple question. "Who do you say the Lord is?"
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." 1 John 4:1-3 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.