How to Discern Counterfeit Christianity From the Real Thing

You can spot the counterfeit if you look closely. (Max Pixel)

In Part 1, we introduced the three levels of the unity of the Spirit that were present in the early church. To recap:

Three distinct "levels" of unity of the Holy Spirit as found in Acts 2:42-47 are:

Level 1 – LCD (Lowest Common Denominator)

 "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers" (v. 42).

Level 2 – Signs and Wonders

"Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles" (v. 43).

Level 3 – A Lifestyle of Mutual Support and Sharing All Things

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 "All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (vv. 44-47).

 

In each part of this series we are considering one of the following questions about each level of unity of the Spirit:

  1. What does this level of unity look like in the church?
  2. What conditions are necessary for this level of unity to exist in the church?
  3. How can the church enter in/rise to this level of unity?
  4. What responsibilities do church pastors & clergy have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His work of unity at this level?

In this installment, let's begin to look at the first level of unity and the first question.

Level 1 Unity: The Lowest Common Denominator for all Christian churches

"They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

This is the absolute minimal level of unity in the body of Christ- ALL true Christian sects/groups exhibit all of the characteristics below to some degree. This is the lowest common denominator (LCD) of Christianity because it is common to all Christian groups. Over the next several weeks we will examine the four discussion questions for Level 1 unity.

The first question concerning Level 1 unity: 

  • What does Level 1 unity look like?

Here's what Level 1 unity looks like: The four elements in Acts 2:42: 

  • Apostles' doctrine (teaching)
  • Fellowship (Koinonia)
  • Breaking of bread
  • Prayers

These four practices are tangible, measurable behaviors of Level one unity. The words in Greek help us understand what these represent:

  1. doctrine: The Greek word is "teaching" and implies that the gospel as passed on by the apostles, is taught & preached on a regular basis.
  2. breaking: The Greek word for breaking, "fracture", of bread; implies the Lord's supper (Holy Communion) is a regular practice.
  3. fellowshipThe Greek implies "partnering, participating, communication and social intercourse" in spiritual relationships is a regular practice.
  4. prayers: The Greek implies a regular continuing practice of "supplication; worship" according to Jesus' model prayer to our Father.

This is level 1 unity—the LCD of Holy Spirit unity—and it characterizes all Christian groups. All truly Christian groups exhibit all four characteristics to some degree. For example, consider these representative Christian groups:

Christian Sects:

  • Catholic
  • Baptist
  • Methodist
  • Lutheran
  • Presbyterian
  • Orthodox
  • non-denominational
  • and many others!

All Christian sects believe all the tenets of the faith expressed in the Nicene Creed as laid out by the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in the fourth century A.D. In practice, the first element (No. 1)—fundamental Christian doctrine—is embedded in this creed as the core faith statement.

Conversely, no counterfeit-Christian group has all four defining characteristic elements of true Christianity. For example, consider the representative groups below. Counterfeit Christian groups do not practice either 1, 2, 3 or 4 above.

Counterfeit-Christian

Mormon (LDL)

Christian Scientist

Jehovah Witness

Jim Jones

KKK

White Aryan

Cult sects

In summary, any so-called Christian group that does not believe/adhere to the truths in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan faith profession and does not practice the four essential elements of early church Christianity, is not Christian.

Next time, we will consider the second of the four questions about Level 1 unity: 

  • What conditions are necessary for Level 1 unity to exist in the church?

Louis Posthauer is the executive director of Hunters of the Harvest Ministry. He has been actively involved in the local church for more than 37 years and currently serves as a lay leader and teacher at Living Word Church of the Nazarene in Houston. For more information, visit huntersoftheharvest.org.

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