Spiritual Forgery

My mother used to tell of the days when she worked at a bank and signatures on checks were verified by the process of matching signatures to a signature record on file.  A mismatch would most likely mean forgery. 

The person forging a signature on a check is pretending to be someone he is not.  He’s attempting financial gain by signing someone else’s name to the check; he’s doing something in someone else’s name yet unauthorized by that person.  With a stolen driver’s license, a person claims to be someone he is not; he’s doing something in someone else’s name, not his own name. But claiming to do something in another’s name does not mean he had the authority to do any of it.  He is committing forgery.

Forgery is bad enough, but many today are committing spiritual forgery.  Paul wrote, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).  Paul said that what we ought to do is what the Lord Jesus Christ has directed, or if you will, what Christ has signed his name to.  To do a thing religiously not authorized by Jesus Christ, and then claim to be serving Him in doing it, is to commit spiritual forgery.

There were forgers in the days of the apostles: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:13).  The forgers’ doctrines were not authentic and needed to be rejected.

Likewise, there are lots of religious forgers or counterfeiters today.  Many claim to be Christians yet teach and practice counterfeit religion. They may sign Jesus’ name, so to speak, to their practice, but signing Jesus’ name to their doctrine does not make it His.  In the case of a check, the test for authenticity is the signature of the check against the signature on record.  In the case of religious belief or practice, the test of the authenticity is to go back to the record on file – the gospel of Jesus Christ, the apostles’ doctrine – and make a comparison.  When the thing believed or practiced disagrees with the doctrine on record in the New Testament, you have a spiritual forgery on your hands.

Jesus taught this test for spiritual forgery in Matthew 7:21-23:  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”  A practice that one claims to be in Jesus’ name but that is not according to His law is a practice that has been forged with His name.  Those who practice spiritual forgery will be separated from Christ.

Some teach that remission of sins is before baptism, yet they claim it is Jesus’ gospel.  Compare the doctrine to the divine record.  They have committed spiritual forgery, for Peter, an ambassador for Christ, said that baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is for remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

A church that claims to be the church of the New Testament and thus belong to Christ, but which practices a one pastor system of organization, is a forgery.  Compare the doctrine to the divine record.  The apostles of Christ, who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke only of a plurality of elders in a local church (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; et al.)

Dear reader, examine what you believe and practice.  It will not work to sign Jesus’ name to it if you can’t find the authority for it in the official record of the gospel of Christ.  That’s spiritual forgery, and to those who practice it, Jesus has said, “depart from Me.”

                        -Larry Jones