Subtitle: Even A Jeweler Can't Tell The Difference Without A Special Tester

A few years ago, one of the department store chains in our area used an ingenious marketing strategy to advertise their jewelry--they sold plastic "ice cubes" which were filled with water and all but one contained a cubic zirconia gem stone. The stones were virtually invisible in the water and you could not tell how large or small they were or the type of cut. The customer was charged a small fee to cover the actual cost of the fake diamonds, but the "hook was baited" with the knowledge that one of the cubes contained a genuine stone worth several hundreds of dollars. Since the imitations were well worth the price, my wife bought one and I watched as the jeweler opened the plastic cube and removed the water thereby revealing the beautiful multi-faceted sparkler. It flashed brilliantly under the artifical store lights and, as far as I could tell, was every bit as beautiful as the real thing. Imagine my surprise when the jeweler did not peer into the depths of the artifical stone with an eye loupe--the traditional tool for determining a genuine diamond and its characteristics. Instead, he used an electronic gadget to test it and when I asked why, he told me that it was really the best way to tell the difference! He said that natural flaws and differences in coloration could be seen in diamonds by using the loupe, but the imitations were literally flawless. So, rather than taking a chance on mistaking the real thing for a fake or vice versa, they used the fool-proof measuring device.

In thinking about this, I am reminded that there is a parallel in the Christian life. Satan has done and continues to do a masterful job of placing counterfeits among the sheep. They look like sheep, outwardly act like sheep, apparently believe themselves to be sheep--and in many areas even "out sparkle" genuine sheep--but are nevertheless phony and do not have Jesus Christ living within them as Lord and Savior. These spiritual termites do untold harm to the body of Christ, the Church, through their fleshly thinking and resistance to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the lives of other members. And the epidemic of local Church splits that have occurred over the past several years should give us a clue as to the effectiveness of this spiritual cancer in our midst. Some tares among the wheat is inevitable, but much of it can be avoided if God's people would only use the "special tester" that He has provided us. We are repeatedly warned in the Word of God to be on our guard against those who would deceive us and attempt to "make merchandise" of us (2 Pet.2:3)--using us to further their own social and political agenda. In the Bible the Lord Himself, as well as the apostles, have told us that this would be a reality and would worsen as we neared the end of the Church age. That is why Christ said "by their fruits ye shall know them." The constant and persistent exercise of spiritual discernment and vigilance is God's special tester given to enable us to separate the genuine from the false. And the Scriptural practice of separation is the cure!

Our churches and pastors have become so obsessed with playing the numbers game that they will literally take into the membership anybody who is willing to claim that they have been saved. "Yes sir, I have accepted Christ as my Savior and am ready to be baptized and play basketball in the family life center--When is the next church social?", is the attitude of entirely too many of the "converts." But as long as they show up occasionally and feed the offering plate, their names help  the membership totals and the pastor's ego as he "builds a church." Which, by the way, is totally unscriptural because the Lord said in Matthew 16:18 that He would build His church:

"And I tell you, you are Peter [Petros, masculine, a large piece of rock], and on this rock [petra, feminine, a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it--or be strong to its detriment, or hold out against it" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).

The "petra" rock, of course, is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself--not the apostle Peter as Roman Catholics falsely claim (and their theologians know full well that there is a play on words in the Greek text between Petros and petra).

As I have mentioned in other articles, preachers are obviously lying awake nights trying to dream up new schemes to lure people to their churches so that they can catch more fish and pad the numbers. But are they really catching fish or just being suckers themselves? Which reminds me of an old preacher I heard about recently. (This is a true story and was related to me by a pastor friend). It seems this elderly preacher was pastoring a church in a rural town of only 150 people and nearly everyone in the town who went to church, were members. Well, over a period of time the preacher became discouraged because they were not experiencing the type of growth some of the expert "come to my seminar and I'll tell you how" preachers said they should. His little church consisted of the same bunch he had been looking at for years and the only converts they had baptized were children of the members, so he was just downright perplexed about the whole affair. But he did what he was supposed to do and began to talk to the Lord about it, praying for guidance. And during the time that all of this was going on, he noticed while driving to the store that a rather large dog had been hit by a car and its body was alongside the road. He did not recognize the dog and when he got back home he described it to his wife and asked her if she knew who its owner was. She told him that she didn't and he soon forgot about it. However, as he made more trips along that same stretch of road over the next couple of weeks, he couldn't help but notice that the body of the unfortunate animal was beginning to show the inevitable signs of decay and the once large dog was now a great deal larger as it bloated in the hot sun. Then suddenly the thought occured to him that his "problem" with the church was explained by this pitiful sight. The dog had experienced tremendous growth, but was dead inside! Could this be a description of your church?

Pulpits all across the land are filled with cubic zirconia preachers and they are dazzling the multitudes with their charm and charisma and sermons on love and "feel good about yourself" psychology lessons--but listen to the soul-chilling words of Jesus Christ which He spoke immediately after saying, "By their fruits ye shall know them":

"Not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly--disregarding My commands" (Matthew 7:21-23, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).

Taken in context, these verses are speaking of "false prophets"--"wolves in sheep's clothing" (vs.15)--and refers to unsaved, apostate preachers during this Age of Grace. Please note that these men (and in our day, many women) have "prophesied" in the name of Christ. Originally this  meant to give out the literal Word of God which could not be known by any other means--such as was done by the Old Testament prophets. However, in our day with the canon of the New Testament Scripture completed, preachers still expound the literal Word, but it has already been revealed in its entirety. This being the case, each individual believer is held accountable to know whether a preacher is giving out the truth of the Word or not! If he comes up with something new, or it doesn't sound just exactly right, those sitting in the pews had best check him out because as a human he is definitely subject to being wrong. When we say "amen," it means we agree with what has been said--so make absolutely sure you know what you are agreeing with. And beyond this, believers are expected to exercise spiritual discernment and closely watch the actions of preachers and other "believers," because actions always speak louder than words.

Note that the individuals to which the Lord is referring also cast out demons in the name of Christ and worked many mighty works, but they were never among the number of His elect. This sobering fact is why I sincerely implore those who insist upon placing emphasis upon "signs and wonders" to beware! The miracles which attended the ministries of the early apostles and evangelists were for a specific purpose and that was to authenticate the message being preached. Once the the canon of Scripture was completed, those signs and miracles were no longer needed and ceased. What passes for signs and miracles today (speaking in tongues, healing, etc.) has only been "rediscovered" since shortly after the turn of the twentieth century and should be viewed with extreme caution. Can God give a believer the ability to speak in a foreign language not previously learned? Certainly. Can God give a believer the ability to speak in an ecstatic "heavenly language" in prayer? Certainly. But the most important question is, "Does He still do so?" I do not wish to appear irreverent, but my next question--as it concerns the practice of these "gifts" today--is what do they actually accomplish for the cause of Christ? Their purpose certainly cannot still be to validate the authenticity of the message being preached, as was the original case. Everything God wants us to know is included in the Bible and any knowledge imparted by someone speaking in tongues--beyond that which is already revealed in the Bible-- would violate the prohibitions given in Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19 against adding to or taking away from the Word of God! Those who insist that inspired prophets are still around today need to ponder this basic truth. Again I say, beware!

Remember that cubic zirconia looks like the real thing, but is not genuine. Millions of "believers" today are eagerly soaking up anything and everything supposedly spiritual and engaging in fleshly and Christ-dishonoring practices under the guise of worship. Religious hucksters are getting filthy rich off of the evangelical mania by pandering to that which seems to make sense to depraved natures, but in reality is not Scriptural. Precious old Bible doctrines are being totally ignored and "smooth things" (Isaiah 30:10) are being preached to placate the spiritually dead. Blind guides are leading the blind (Matthew 15:14 and 23:16) and both are perilously near the eternal "ditch." We are obviously living during a time of increasing apostasy which will doubtless culminate in the apostasy concurrent with the revelation of antichrist.

What do I advocate as being the proper response to these things, if you realize they pertain to your situation? The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, where we read:

"Do not be unequally yoked up with unbelievers--do not make mismated alliances with them, or come under a different yoke with them [inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light fellowship with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. So, come out from among (unbelievers), and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor. And I will be a Father to you , and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).

Many of God's people desperately need to leave the church that they know deep down inside has deviated from the correct spiritual path they once walked together, and seek out godly companions with whom to worship in Spirit and in Truth. The early Church met in homes and I sincerely believe that this may be the only viable alternative for many today. I am often asked by those sending us email about which church I recommend, and I am heartsick because I can no longer give a blanket recommendation to any denomination and only a very few local churches due to the doctrinal slide taking place. Most of those who are still somewhat conservative and fundamental in their beliefs are caught up in plans, programs, and/or ungodly, fleshly music in the worship service--all of which is geared to the numbers game and totally unscriptural. Beloved, our churches are supposed to be centers of worship and not social clubs catering to the whims of prospective converts/members. Make no mistake about it, God is going to save His people from their sins and, contrary to popular opinion, He does not need us to do the work for Him! Witnessing and evangelization is a blessed privilege and one that will bring reward for faithful service, but God does the saving and not us. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone who has been "talked into" receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior. No, they either respond to the supernatural gospel message and believe or they don't. It's just that simple. It is not a matter of the head, but of a heart convicted by God and this fact has been lost upon the majority of churches and pastors today. Millions are being taught "how to witness" and "how to win souls to Christ" as if these things are merely techniques that can be mastered to produce results. God forgive us! We have been blinded into becoming zealots with no Scriptural basis and filling churches full of tares.

One day soon--and I believe it will be very soon--the people of this world are going to be confronted with events and personalities designed to shake them to their very core of their being. Whether "Church Age" Christians will actually be among this number can be argued either way, depending upon the exact timing of the rapture. But in any case, when antichrist comes upon the scene it will be with "lying signs and wonders" and multitudes of those who have merely professed Christ will flock to him in awestruck reverence. Some have mistakenly concluded that the Church Age elect will definitely be around because of the Lord's reference to the elect in Matthew 24:24, but the term "elect" refers to all those who have been chosen "in Christ from before the foundation of the world" (Eph.1:4).  So immediately after the rapture,  there will still be many elect on earth who are to be saved during the tribulation period. In my opinion, these are more than likely the elect referred to by the Lord. And many Bible teachers believe that there will be more people actually saved during the tribulation period than during the Church Age because of the passage found in Revelation 7:9-14, which says in part:

"After this I looked and a vast host appeared which no one could count, [gathered out] of every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages....And from where have they come? I replied, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation...." (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).

Are you and those with whom you worship among God's elect? If you know you are but sincerely have doubts about the others, you should seriously consider removing yourself from among them and seeking God's will as to where He would have you to serve. Small groups of believers meeting in homes was the norm for the early Church and in order to preserve any semblance of reverence and godliness, it looks like it going to become necessary for us to do the same today. Remember what the Lord told us in Matthew 18:20:

"For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).

If you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and been born again, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.

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God bless you.