Summary: Tests of authenticity that prove the validity of Christianity and the failure of other forms of spirituality.
A Muslim heard the good news about Jesus and decided to become a Christian. His Islamic friends asked him, “Why on earth have you done such a thing? What could possibly cause you to leave the religion you grew up with, the faith of your fathers, and turn to following Jesus?”
“Well,” he replied, “It’s like this: Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly it forked into two directions. You didn’t know which way to go, but there at the fork were two men – one dead, and one alive – which one would you ask to show you the way?”
This is the reason Christ followers get so pumped about commemorating Christ’s resurrection on Easter! We know we’re not following the advice of a dead man. Jesus is alive!
He not only brought vital, eternal spiritual truth, He not only fed the hungry, healed the sick and helped people make positive changes in their lives – but He did something that no other religious teacher or leader has ever done. He conquered death! He literally rose again! When we stand at the forks in the road of our lives He is the perfect guide!
We’re in the series “Made to Count, Am I Living a Life that Matters?” based on the writings of one of Christ’s best friends while He was on earth, the Apostle John. John wrote his first letter to the church of the first century to help them know how they could live a life that matters.
Twenty centuries have come and gone and still we wrestle with the same needs. And just like the first century, the menu from which to choose our path to spirituality is long and offers many different choices. Which path do we take? Who do we listen to when it comes to finding our way in life?
The Apostle John shares an essential insight in answer to this question.
"Dear friends, don’t believe everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God. Test them all to find out if they really do come from God. Many false prophets have already gone out into the world, 2and you can know which ones come from God." 1 John 4:1-2 (CEV)
Circle that word "test."
John says this because Christianity stands up to testing! In fact, Christianity is founded on testing!
“The women saying Jesus’ tomb was empty did not immediately prompt faith. It prompted questions, investigation, and exploration. Some disciples ran to the tomb to confirm it.” (Craig Evans quoted in “The Case for the Real Jesus” by Lee Strobel, p. 31)
And that’s the way it’s been down through the centuries with Christianity. It’s dangerous to accept uncritically everything that is said, “in the name of God.” Christ followers have always believed in tests of authenticity.
John says, “Test the spiritual offerings out there, go ahead. Find out if someone is really from God like they say they are. Don’t be so naïve as to think that just because someone makes a claim to have the Spirit of God that they really do.” The claims of Christ can stand up to our tests of smart spirituality while others cannot.
I occasionally like to watch “Antiques Road Show” on PBS so the following Internet article entitled “Antiques Roadshow Appraiser Sees the Good, The Bad, The Fake,” recently caught my attention.
“People who bring their family heirlooms and auction finds to be appraised by the experts with ‘Antiques Roadshow’ sometimes hope for the best and get the worst.
Ken Farmer, who recently spoke at an annual furniture seminar at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, has been a guest appraiser on "Roadshow," PBS’ highest-rated series, since 1995. He remembers one woman whose story never got on the air.
The woman came to an appraisal session with a fitted wooden case labeled "Vampire Killing Kit." She had bought it at auction in New Orleans for $1,500, and she thought she had an aged treasure, complete with a wooden stake, a pistol and bullets that looked like they were made of silver.
Farmer knew right away that the muddy varnish on the stake had been applied to make it look old. An expert on books and manuscripts determined that the label had been made on a laser printer, and Farmer noticed that the dividers in the case showed no wear.
When the woman got the news that her kit wasn’t worth much, Farmer said, "She cussed a blue streak."
Many people contain their disappointment when they discover that beloved family pieces - and the stories that go with them - aren’t as genuine as they thought. Many stories start as rumor and then become legend.
‘If all the pieces people say Abraham Lincoln and George Washington slept in or sat on were authentic,’ Farmer said, ‘the line of furniture would stretch all the way from here to Washington.’” (MSNBC News, 3/11/08)