The Counterfeiters

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It’s Superbowl Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, and you’ve got tickets! How exciting!

You’ve spent the weekend in Miami, and now you are waiting in line, eager to enter Hard Rock Stadium for one of the biggest sporting events in the world. For once, you are going to be a part of sports history.

Then it happens. The gate attendant tells you that your tickets are counterfeit. You had bought them on a ticket exchange site, and you fell victim to a scam artist. There is no recourse. They will not let you into the stadium. You’ve lost your money, and you are dealing with massive disappointment.

Such is not only common with tickets to sporting goods, it also happens with currency. Working as a cashier at a local truck stop, I have on more than one occasion broken the news to a customer that the $20 bill they handed me was counterfeit. Their faces showed expressions of deep betrayal, as the bill had been given to them as a payment for a service rendered.

These situations are extremely disappointing and sometimes tragic. But nothing is as horrible as spending a life believing a counterfeit gospel. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares goes as follows:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Remembering the rules for interpreting the Kingdom Parables from our last post, which concurs with Jesus’ explanation of this parable in Matthew 13:37-40, we see the following symbols at work:

  • The man – the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.
  • The good seed – the Word of God, the Gospel.
  • The field – the world.
  • The wheat – the children of the Kingdom.
  • The tares – The children of the wicked one.

While the primary message of this parable is that Satan will place false converts and false believers among the children of God to derail the Lord’s work, the implied warning of the spread of a counterfeit Gospel cannot be ignored.

The tares, the children of the wicked one, were sown into the field as seed. Bad seed. Counterfeit seed. If the good seed is the Gospel, then it follows that the bad seed is a counterfeit gospel.

Counterfeit gospels take on many forms. Some teach that you must perform certain works, are take part in certain rituals to be saved. Some teach that you can lose your salvation. Some teach that God loves all people and all will be welcomed into Heaven. Some teach that salvation is so simple, one does not even have to repent to obtain it.

The counterfeit gospels and false doctrines being taught are so rampant, we cannot possible address them all in one blog post, neither do we have to. To identify a counterfeit Gospel, one need only know the true Gospel.

Interestingly enough, this is also how the U.S. Secret Service learns to spot counterfeit currency. They don’t study counterfeit currency. They study the true currency to the point that if anything on that bill is out of place, they instantly identify the error, and thus conclude the currency is counterfeit.

So, with that in mind, let’s be reminded of the true Gospel, summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 as how “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

Christ died for our sins. In dying for our sins, He took the punishment for our sins, thus shielding us from the wrath of God. This payment for our sins cost Him His life. Thus, He died for our sins, and was buried. However, on the third day, He took His life back, and rose from the grave.

So now, Christ has not only cleared our sin-debt by giving His life for our sins, but He rose again, and ever lives to intercede for us. In other words, Christ rose again to advocate for us and to open the gates of Heaven for us. This is salvation.

Scripture is clear on how to access that salvation, how to accept it. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am the LORD, there is none else.”

And the verses that drive it all home, Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace that you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.”

Based on these verses, we see that the true Gospel:

  • Is how Christ paid for our sins by dying on the cross.
  • That Christ rose again to save us and give us eternal life.
  • That salvation is gained by repenting of sin and trusting (believing) in Jesus Christ.

Deviations, additions or subtractions from that Gospel are counterfeit. What a tragedy it would be to live a good, religious life, only to realize that you never believed the true Gospel. What a tragedy it would be to live life believing a lie. If you have never placed your faith in Christ for salvation, make that decision now.

The implied warning of a counterfeit gospel is only a small sideline to the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. The real point to this parable is that Satan uses false believers and counterfeit Christians to derail the cause of Christ.

Imagine the huge inconvenience for the farmer who had to go through the process of separating the wheat from the tares at harvest time.

Likewise, the cause of Christ can be frustrated by the antics of those who claim to be Christian, but are not. This is one reason bad things happen in good churches. Understanding this can help prevent discouragement and disillusionment when the unthinkable happens. Satan is working to derail, discourage and discredit the Lord’s churches.

Notice, however, what the parable says about the man’s reaction to finding tares in his wheat field. The man told his servants not to root out the tares, because the wheat would be uprooted and damaged in the process. Instead, the wheat and the tares would be allowed to come to full maturity before being separated at the harvest.

As the wheat and the tares mature, you can tell which is which by the fruit they bear. Likewise, Jesus said you could tell the true believers from the false believers by their fruit.

The application to this passage is that we, as Christians, need not be concerned with identifying and distinguishing the true believers from the false believers. Instead, we are to grow and bear fruit, and allow the Lord to judge in the end time.

At the core of this parable is the instruction to believe the true Gospel, and trust the Lord to judge righteously on the day of judgment. If we do this, we will not be discouraged by the antics of the tares, for we will have the understanding of why they do what they do.

The tares have been sowed to frustrate our purpose. The more they frustrate our purpose, the closer we grow to harvest day. At harvest time, we will be gathered in the Lord’s presence. Be encouraged. Satan’s attacks are evidence that you are being effective for the Lord.

May God bless you as you continue your walk with Him.

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