The Fake


I’ve often heard that imitation is the highest form of flattery.  But is that true?  Do we really want to be like someone else, or do we want the end result from the other person being who and what they are, without walking the trail that got them where they are?

Consider the case of Wolfgang Beltracchi, who along with his wife are currently serving time in a German prison for selling fine art Masterpieces.  Not just a few, but hundreds of works by various master painters, all authenticated by well known experts and sold by the major auction houses to collectors the world over.  Many of the pieces of art were thought to be some of the very best works of the masters.  So what is wrong with that?

Well, old Wolfgang didn’t find them in a lost collection like he portrayed, instead he painted them himself.  For the last thirty years or so he has been passing off his work as lost masterpieces by very skilled use of techniques that make canvas, wood, even the fasteners of the frames look old.  As long as people believed the paintings were genuine, they paid millions to own them, but when the scam came unraveled, they simply owned cheap imitations that nobody wanted.

What an incredible waste of talent and loss of opportunity to be a real master painter.   When questioned about why he did this, he replied that it takes time to be discovered and he liked to be rich.  Although it is easy to sit back and castigate Wolfgang for what he did, I do not see him as very different from most of the American Christian clergy.

The Clergy, ministers of the gospel, pastors, evangelist and teachers, all stand before the community at large as proclaimers of the Gospel.  But do they proclaim the Gospel, or do they give us facsimiles that seem reasonable, that sound right and make us feel good?  Regardless of their backgrounds or accomplishments, unless they have become disciples of Jesus themselves and are following His teachings in their own lives, they will inevitably proclaim a gospel that is based on human reasoning instead of the Kingdom of Heaven.   

Our quest then becomes finding a spiritual leader who is the genuine article, someone who walks in the Kingdom and teaches us how to become disciples of Jesus and how to make others His disciples.   If you buy into anything less, you will have just purchased a cheap imitation that does nothing to change your life.

Rev 3:18   I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.


10 responses to “The Fake

  • michaelh411

    Is our quest really to find a spiritual leader who is the genuine article?Someone who walks in the Kingdom and teaches us how to become disciples of Jesus and how to make others His disciples?
    Or should it be to seek Jesus and let the Holy Spirit lead us into all truth? John 16:13
    Or should our quest be to follow the Holy Spirit which brings us into agreement with true disciples? 1 John 2:27, Ro 8:14, John 18:37
    1 John 4:1 (NKJV)
    1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    Clearly false prophets are among us even today but should this be our overarching concern or emphasis? It would seem that anything that denounces the authority and deity of Jesus is of the anti-Christ Are we called to be the spiritual police or evaluators of others? Pilate asks a simple question of Jesus in John 18:38. What is truth? Is there an evaluation process by which we can discard another Pastor, Preacher or Evangelist because of their theological or Doctrinal understanding? If we are indeed all on a journey together towards maturity as sited in Ephesians 4:11-16 then should we expect an absolute agreement on all teachings as a reasonable or biblical expectation? After all their fruit will be manifested in due season..

    When training agents for the United States Secret Service in counterfeit detection the new agents spend endless hours examining ONLY legitimate currency. They relentlessly critiquing of color, pattern and content until the true images of legitimate currency are indelibly etched in their memory. With little more than a passing glimpse they can detect the credibility of any denomination in our current system of currency.
    John 18:37-38, Romans 8:14, 1 John 2:27

  • pastorrobin

    Great Blog, Dad. The analogy goes deeper than the message. It is also reflected in their style, personality, and method. These all are venues for people to ‘not be themselves’.

    @michaelh411 give us some more info on what you are saying. I believe you absolutely need to follow Jesus, but you also need a leader in your life that is able to scripturally exhort, teach, correct. We need both.

  • Rob

    Welcome aboard, Michael, and thanks for your comments. It appears that I touched a nerve, and while it certainly was not intentional, that’s not a bad thing. Now I know how to smoke you guys out ☺ I suppose it was my efforts at brevity that caused you to miss the point I was trying to make. Of course we need to seek Jesus (actually Jesus said to seek the Kingdom) and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, along with confirmation of the Word of God. Your quote of John 4:1 is well taken, as is 4:3 concerning the spirit of Antichrist, both of which lend credence to Phil 3:17-19, where Paul tells the Philippian church to note, or keep their eyes on, those who walk according to his example. He then goes on to tell of the ones who should not be followed – those who are the enemies of the cross and who mind earthly things.

    So, yes, we are instructed to evaluate our associates and leaders and as 1Th 5:12 says:…”to know (or recognize) those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” How do we do this and is there an evaluation process? Sure, and I think you partially quoted what Jesus said in Matt 7 about knowing people by their fruit. Paul give us the fruits of the Spirit that should be following every Christian in Gal 5:22-23, and this is our litmus test, which takes me back to my post.

    My whole point is that America is full of professing Christians who have been sold a bill of goods by people painting fake masterpieces. This is why we have churches full of symbolic rituals, a form of godliness, but no power. It is also why there is such a falling away of church attendees; the people are recognizing there is little in our modern Christian religion that is relevant to their lives today. In my lifetime I have met only a few folks who actually walk in the Kingdom of God. Who exist only to be used by God for His purpose with no agenda of their own. I believe this is due to the leaders selling cheap imitations of the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached.

    I have really enjoyed the thinking process and welcome your comments anytime.

  • Rob

    Thanks, Pastor. You are one of the few, and I am honored to follow you.

  • michaelh411


    In no way do I subscribe to the old “me and Jesus got our own thing going” philosophy.

    I absolutely agree and affirm that we, as children of God, need both an active viable relationship with the Holy Spirit and biblical submission to the appointed Shepherd whom God has called to watch for our souls. John 16:13 & Hebrews 13:17.

    My challenge here was the concept of the quest of a spiritual leader. I believe that our present world is indeed inundated with charismatic personalities whom people flock to see that are not legitimate shepherds. Are we not in fact instructed by Jesus to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously” Mt 6:33 NLT? This twofold directive first Spiritual to seek the Kingdom of God and secondly His righteousness or “live righteously”. I believe that there is substantial biblical support that “living righteously” comes through the combined teaching of the Holy Spirit and the work of ministry discussed in Eph 4:11&12.

    It is my personal belief that as a member of the body of Christ I am not called to be a judge who scrutinizes others based upon how they measure up to my preconceived checklist of doctrinal or theological teachings. Was there not a similar circumstance which Peter along with the other apostles and elders came together to consider in the 15th chapter of the book of Acts concerning the necessity of circumcision? Are we not all on a journey toward the fullness of Christ?

    As with my example of the currency and the Secret Service agent I feel our time energies and attention are better spent focusing on the legitimate rather than the illegitimate. Bro. Rob I greatly appreciate the open forum which encourages some rather lively dialog.

  • mdhollifield

    Great blog, Bro Rob! If I may add something, I’d like to say that there are at least 30 scriptures in the Bible that talk about ‘honoring leadership’. One that comes to mind is Heb 13:17 ‘Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.’ In my opinion, this is talking about spiritual leadership. I do not believe that our elected officials are ‘watching for our souls’ There too are at least 88 verses that talk about ‘bad leadership’ and the repercussion of doing so. (Jeremiah 23:1-4 talks about that).

    Again, great blog, Bro Rob!

  • Rob

    @michaelh411, was it my use of the word “quest” that is troubling you? We agree about the charismatic personalities who are not legitimate shepherds and I infer that you think they are not worthy of our support, but then you state, “…I am not called to be a judge who scrutinizes others based upon how they measure up to my preconceived checklist of doctrinal or theological teachings”. While I believe we should always be open to the fact that our understanding is never absolute regarding any Biblical concept, I also am totally convinced that the Holy Ghost will give us understanding of scripture if we are submitted to His will. If we do not judge others by the words they speak, the non-verbal body language that they project, and the fruits that follow them, how will we ever know if they are true disciples of Jesus or simply charismatic personalities?

    Possibly you are troubled by my suggestion that we should look for “a” leader who is genuine, walks in the Kingdom and teaches us to make disciples. In both your responses you refer to Eph 4:11-12, and I agree that our ability to live righteously comes from the guidance of the Holy Spirit and many times that guidance comes in the form of counsel from leaders who are dedicated and sold out to the Kingdom of God. This is why it is so very important to “know those who labor among us”. I’m not certain how you interpret this passage, but the NKJV says it like this: “And He Himself gave some [to be] apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” To me this passage is not focused on the five positions of leaders who “do the work of ministry”, but rather the callings that God places on certain leaders to equip God’s people to do His work – to minister, or serve.

    In my lifetime, I do not believe I have ever met an Apostle, and I’m not sure about any prophets either. Evangelists, pastors, and teachers seem to be in abundance in our day and it is to these that my post was directed. Eph 4:14 tells us to not be children and … “tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men…”. Seems to me a pretty good reason to scrutinize those who purport to be qualified to equip me to do God’s work.

  • Rob

    I think there is a problem with my use of the word “quest” and think that a re-write of that sentence is in order, as follows:
    “ Our responsibility then becomes to find spiritual mentors who are the genuine article…”

  • michaelh411

    I would agree with the revision. For me personally, the quest has never been in search of a spiritual leader but rather to connect with God as intimately as possible this side of eternity. In fact this lifelong hunger for relationship with God which began in my youth was often disappointed and derailed by those “fakes” of whom you refer that stood in the pulpits and professed to know the way. Though most were well educated and eloquent orators I was always disenchanted by the lack of real tangible relationship with God. After all they were supposed to be His representative on earth. I quickly became disillusioned with Christianity and Church as I knew it. The truth I came to realize was that it was not Moses but the God of Moses who I was seeking. Some forty four years ago on Easter Sunday I did come face to face with the Living God. I was taken aback by this Pastor of a then very small church who was different than any other preachers I had known growing up. I had never experienced the fire, the passion or the anointing that I saw and heard that day. Today I am fortunate and blessed to have one of his spiritual offspring as my Pastor with whom I serve and submit my life.

  • Rob

    Thanks, Michael. I share that blessing, but as genuine and committed as he is to be our under-shepherd, unless we personally connect with God and seek His Kingdom, there is not much our pastor can do to keep us alive. Our branch must be connected to the Vine before life can flow and the gardener simply keeps us pruned and healthy.

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