by Mike Ratliff
1This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them g I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 h that you should remember the predictions of i the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come j in the last days with scoffing, k following their own sinful desires. 4 l They will say, “Where is the promise of m his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth n was formed out of water and through water o by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed p was deluged with water and q perished. 7 But by the same word r the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and s destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:1-7 ESV)
The Word of God is filled with references to testing and proving. During our Lord’s ministry his enemies asked him tough questions in order to “test” him. Jesus ordered lepers whom He had healed to show themselves to the Priests to “prove” that they were no longer unclean. God puts our Lord’s disciples through fiery trials in order to “test” their faith and “prove” their authenticity. God does not change. He is immutable. His ways do not change either. He still puts those who profess to be Christians to the test. This proving is not for his knowledge however. He knows all already. The proving is for our sake.
God tests His children in order to perfect them through the fire. This also builds their faith as they learn to depend on Him instead of self. This also proves their faith to the brethren. On the other hand, there are false prophets in the visible Church. These counterfeit Christian leaders, since they know not the Son nor do they have the Holy Spirit, serve a Jesus of their own making and have built an idolatrous form of Christianity around him. They proclaim that they “love Jesus” and “Christianity,” but they prove that the objects of their love are anything but the real Jesus and the invisible Church, which is on the narrow path. These on the narrow path are on the only way to God and eternity with Him while those of the counterfeit church are on the broad and easy, ecumenical way which is branded with compromise.
I am an amateur photographer. While I love this hobby, I do not have the top-of-the-line cameras or gear. My oldest camera, a Yashica D that still takes great shots if handled right, was manufactured in 1968. I bought my 35mm SLR, a Canon AE-1, in 1976. I have several lenses for it as well as a pretty good flash and auto-winder. However, compared to today’s Digital SLRs, my stuff is a bit behind the times. When my grandson was about to be born last summer, my wife bought me a Canon Powershot SD750 in order to take lots of pictures of him. It can shoot pictures at 7.1 megapixels. Using my many years of shooting landscapes, I have learned how to take some decent pictures of sunrises, lakes, trees, and clouds with it. I have even had some people suggest that I should try to market them.
I have done quite a bit of research into how the market works for the types of pictures I like to take. People who buy these pictures usually want them to be blown up very large and there can be no interpolation or distortion in it if they do this. I looked at my portfolio and came to a very sobering conclusion based on my research. All of those pictures I have taken with the SD750 are only good enough to be blown up to a maximum of 8” x10” before the interpolation process causes the distortion problem. The reason is that this camera has a very small light sensor that contains all 7.1 million pixels. On the other hand, the professional level digital cameras, even the ones with about the same megapixel rating, have much larger sensors with much larger pixel sizes. Therefore, the pictures taken with these can be blown up to wall size without distortion. It turns out that all those negatives that I took with my old out-of-date film cameras have a much higher resolution than these pictures taken with my digital. However, I have also made the mistake of having much of my film processed at Wal-Mart or Walgreens and asked for a CD of my prints. The mistake is that the digital images on these CDs are no better than the pictures taken with my SD750. On the other hand, I also have some film I had processed at a professional lab in our city. The digital images on the CDs I got with my pictures from them are of the highest resolution. These pictures can be blown up to wall size without distortion.
What has this to do with counterfeit Christianity? There are many false prophets in our time who claim to be the real deal and that they speak for God, but they are not genuine. What they preach, teach, and write about in their books may look pretty good to the undiscerning, but when one with discernment from God examines them closely, as directed in Sacred Scripture, then it becomes clear that they are like me attempting to be a professional photographer with a camera capable of producing images fit only for a hobby or personal use. These people fall far short God’s standards for being a shepherd of the sheep. We see this as they scoff at God’s standards of holiness and purity. God’s Word shows a Church that is exclusive while the counterfeit, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, are all about plurality and opening wide the door of salvation that our Lord said was narrow and hard to find. We see this in their drive to abolish Sola Scriptura.
My Canon SD750 is fun and easy to use. I really like the large view screen, however, it is incapable of producing images at a level I really need. My film cameras are not nearly so easy to use, but if handled correctly they can produce images of very high resolution and quality. I can go shoot sunrises and sunsets with my digital camera and get very good-looking results, but that is all they are. They can never be used as I had hoped. These ear tickling false prophets have produced a form of Christianity that is counterfeit. It may look good to the majority, but all it will ever produce are masses of goats instead of sheep of our Lord’s hand. These scoffers attack every part of the Christian faith and claim that they are doing so in order to be culturally relevant. I find it very interesting that the doctrines they seem to hate the most are Sola Scriptura and Penal Substitution. If these two parts of the Church’s foundation are done away with then we have lost God’s absolute truth and the very work by Him that saves sinners from His wrath.
Counterfeit Christianity is not Christianity no matter how much these emergent wolves in sheep’s clothing claim the opposite. They prove it every time they preach, teach, or write because they are pointing their followers to a Jesus who is unbiblical according to a faith that is man-based and mystical mixed with a deliberate shunning of the absolute. They teach mystery where the Bible teaches clarity. They teach uncertainty where the Bible teaches salvation by Grace through faith. They teach no absolutes so they can be pluralistic where the Bible teaches that God’s truth is absolute and that true Christianity is exclusive.
I pray that those who have read this far in this piece will seek the Lord while He may be found. Come boldly to the throne of Grace to seek His will. I pray that they will repent of any compromises in their walk that He shows them. We live in a time in which God’s truth is seen as evil and those who proclaim it are the enemies of the good. What is evil is seen as good. God is still building His Church and the remnant it is made up of is on that narrow path which leads to the Celestial City, which is eternity with our Saviour. Therefore, let us examine carefully the teachings of all those who proclaim to be speaking the truth in the name of our Lord. Those who fail the test must be exposed and rebuked.
Soli Deo Gloria!