When the Secret Service trains its members to recognize counterfeit money, they begin by studying and learning the genuine article. They study in great detail all of its protections, its paper and markings, and the very smallest details to ensure they know the “real thing” better than anything. A bank teller deals with money all day long and he or she can get a good feel of the currency and know the “real thing” from experience and handling the bills on a daily basis.
We too can learn much from these practices when dealing with the church. When we move or relocate, how do we determine if the church we attend is the “real thing?” Do we consider the importance of finding a sound church that adheres to God laws and doctrine?
We may begin with the name. When naming an organization, we show respect and honor in naming it after the founder and head. This applies to the church:
Ephesians 5:3 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
We begin by finding the genuine article by looking at the name…one that honors its founder and creator. (see…Romans 16:16 …’church of Christ’; 1 Corinthians 1:2 …’church of God’; Hebrews 12:23 …’church of the firstborn’) As Christ pointed out to Peter, in Matthew 16:18, Christ is the founder…any other is an imposter/man-made/counterfeit.
Another important detail when looking for a genuine church is the age. I’m not talking about the individual congregation, but the church itself. Many denominations that name themselves after a man, method or doctrine can only trace themselves to a modern era…a man-made era. For example,
Roman Catholic Church - Rome, 606 A.D., with Boniface III as pope.
Lutheran Church - 1520 A. D., Germany, with Martin Luther's writings as authority
Episcopalian - 1534, England, when Henry VIII broke with Roman Catholicism
Presbyterian -1536, Switzerland, led by John Calvin
Baptist - 1607, Holland, by John Smythe
Methodist - 1739, England, by John Wesley
Latter Day Saints (Mormons) - 1830, America, by Joseph Smith
Christian Scientist - 1866, America, by Mary Baker Eddy
Jehovah's Witnesses - 1872, America, by Charles T. Russell
At the time Jesus built his kingdom (church), no denomination of any kind was in existence. The church of Jesus Christ was established in 33 A.D., in the city of Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1, 2). Any denomination that had its origin by another founder other than Jesus at this time and place cannot be the genuine article.
The organic law of the United States is our constitution and all laws sprout from its core. Laws governing the church are found in the New Testament.
2 Timothy 3: 16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
We should also ensure that our church worships God in the correct manner. We know what pleases God by what His Spirit has revealed to us in His Word. Examples and scriptures of these acts include:
--Prayer, Acts 2:42…to God through His son
--Singing, Ephesians 5:19…making melody with our hearts, not instruments
--Contribution, 1 Corinthians 16: 1-2…laying aside money on the first day of the week
--Lord’s Supper, Acts 20: 7…taken every first day of the week
--Preaching, 2 Timothy 4:2-4…sound preaching from God’s word
John 4:24--”God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
We must examine and study the genuine article and know it in order that we can detect counterfeit religions. The inspired writers of the New Testament have warned us about these counterfeit efforts. We must be on guard and not easily deceived.
Mattew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.