By Adam Faughn
An art dealership recently ran a very odd sale. They had one original sketch from pop artist Andy Warhol for sale, which is not that unusual for an art sale or auction. What made this sale unique, however, was that they also put up for sale 999 elaborate forgeries of the sketch, done on paper that was "aged" by a machine, so they looked like the original in virtually every detail.
The sellers then randomly sold the 1000 pieces, each for $250, letting buyers know that only one was the original but not telling them which one it was. 999 buyers would end up with a forgery (which is essentially worthless), while one would end up with the original sketch, estimated to be worth around $20,000.
Now, there is a certain oddity to this type of sale that would draw interest, I suppose. That said, it is hard for me to think about spending a significant amount of money knowing that I would only have a one-in-one-thousand chance of receiving a "real" item and a 999-out-of-one-thousand chance of getting what is essentially a fake. It just does not sound like a solid use of money, does it?
However, when it comes to our spiritual lives, how many people are doing something even more egregious, and many are doing so intentionally? When we read in Scripture about the Lord's Church, it is abundantly clear that we can go back to the original; that is, we can make certain that we are doing things exactly the way Jesus desires and demands them to be done. Yet, so many intentionally choose to risk their eternal soul on what is, spiritually speaking, a forgery.
• The New Testament makes it clear that a person must be immersed in water--baptized--in order to be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-3; Galatians 3:27; et al.). That is the "original." So many, though, choose to do something else in order to try to find salvation, things that are conspicuously absent from the New Testament. Why would they think, then, that they are choosing something other than a forgery?
• The New Testament is straightforward in saying that those who lead a congregation as elders and those who serve as deacons must be men who are married and have children (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 2:5-9). That is the "original." However, in the name of political correctness or "modernity," many choose to ignore those teachings and have women lead or serve in those capacities. Why would anyone intentionally choose this forgery?
• The New Testament is clear that Christians are to sing, but also that singing is to be the extent of that avenue of worship (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 13:15). That is the "original." A tremendous number, though, choose to add to that command by having choirs or praise teams or mechanical instruments of music. Why would someone choose such a forgery?
The examples could go on, but these should suffice. I chose the story of the art sale, in part, because "all" that was for sale was a sketch. While I certainly could not create such a thing, in terms of pure art, it is not all that impressive. Still, though, the original is the original, and nothing else is! That is what gives it such immense value.
When people look at the "original" of the New Testament church, they may also see something that can seem a bit outdated, boring, or out-of-step with society. However, it is the original, and nothing can replace it. To replace it or seek to alter it in any way is to destroy something of eternal value because it was given to us by Jesus Himself. As such, we must protect it and seek to make sure we search always for the original in all that we do, never settling for a forgery.
"...contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints"