On May 22, 2016 60 Minutes began an episode entitled, “$80 Million Con,” with the following:
"When one of the oldest and most respected art galleries in America, the Knoedler Gallery in New York, closed its doors abruptly in 2011, the art world was stunned. Not because the gallery closed, but by the discovery that over the course of15 years, the gallery and its president, Ann Freedman, had sold millions of dollars in forgeries to wealthy collectors. Nearly 40 paintings, supposedly created by some of the most important artists of the 20th century, were all fakes, painted by a struggling artist in his garage in Queens. The fraud might still be going on if it weren't for an art historian Jack Flam -- who was the first person to uncover the scheme and blow the whistle to the government, putting the brakes on an $80 million con -- the most audacious and lucrative art fraud in U.S. history."
Authenticity is critical. That’s certainly true when it comes to a classic work of art. You don’t want to shell out millions for a Picasso and find out it was painted last year by some guy in China. What other people say it is and what you initially think it is are irrelevant compared to what it actually is.
Authenticity is immeasurably more important when it comes to the condition of your soul. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus gives one of the most sobering warning in the entire Bible. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
As I prayed about our next sermon series, the Lord kept bringing me back to two burdens, both of which have to do with the authenticity of our faith. First, I’m convinced that it's is all too easy to think you’re a Christian, to think you have a saving relationship with Jesus, when in reality you don’t. False assurance of salvation is especially easy in a southern culture like Richmond where many people grew up going to church, still have a generic belief in the existence of God, and will even admit to praying when life gets hard.
None of those things make you a Christian.
None of those things provide assurance of life after death.
That kind of assurance is only possible through faith in Christ.
I don’t want any of you reading this right now to arrive at the judgment seat of God and hear those terrifying words, “I never knew you.” I want you to be assured of salvation because I love you and so does the Lord who died for you.
Second, I’m convinced from church history that even genuine Christians are prone to swing between two equally dangerous errors. The first is legalism – seeking to earn love and acceptance from God through obedience to God. The second is license – believing that it doesn’t really matter if I obey God’s word in every area of life.
In years past, I think we were particularly susceptible to legalism. My concern today is that we will join the majority culture in falling into license. We buy into an unbiblical definition of “grace” - which is ultimately an unbiblical understanding of the love of God - that leaves us reluctant to challenge one another to keep God’s commands, especially when obedience is hard. A desire for us all of us to experience a genuine assurance of salvation and a desire to help us understand why personal holiness matters brought me back to the book of 1 John.
1 John is all about authentic faith. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). In fact, the entire book reads like a spiral where John keeps circling back to the same themes, each designed to strengthen our assurance of salvation.
Authentic faith believes the truth.
Authentic faith obeys the truth.
Authentic faith loves God’s people accordingly.
From now through mid-July, we’re going to work our way slowly through the entire letter on Sunday mornings. Each week, we’ll ask two simple questions: (1) What does an authentic Christian look like? (2) Is that what I see when I look at my life? Join us each week as we dig into this topic further and grow closer to our loving Savior in the process.
Messages will be uploaded weekly on our Audio Resources page. Click here to find these and others for further listening.
- Posted by Matthew
Posted on Sun, March 26, 2017
by Serena Walker filed under