Last year, a staggering $1.7 billion in counterfeit goods were seized. Here were the nine most counterfeited products and their estimated value (Yahoo Finance).
9. Optical Media (CDs, DVDs, etc) – $26.8 million.
8. Labels and Tags (Logos like Gucci, Fendi, D&G, etc) – $41.8 million.
7. Computer Accessories – $47.7 million.
6. Footwear – $54.9 million
5. Pills, Prescription Drugs, and Personal Care – $79.6 million.
4. Clothes & Accessories (Jeans, Sports Apparel, etc.) – $116.2 million.
3. Consumer Electronics and Parts (i.e. iPhones) – $145.9 million.
2. Watches & Jewelry – $502.8 million.
1. Handbags, Purses, & Wallets – $700.2 million.
These stats blew me away. It’s sad how many products are shams and fakes. However, there is one other item that is often counterfeited. This is the church. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible only speaks of one true, genuine church. Notice how all of these verses speak in the singular tense:
- “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6).
- Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).
- “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Scripture clearly teaches that there is only one true church in this world. This doesn’t mean one church building, but one very specific group of people all over the world who all hold to the specific teachings in the Bible. There are so many fakes and forgeries that it can incredibly tough to spot the real deal. As a matter of fact, God even warned us that this would happen (1 Timothy 4:1-2; Matthew 7:15-16). Therefore, let’s consider how to spot the real church according the Bible’s guidelines.
- The leader who started God’s church was Christ (Matthew 16:18). Any other church started by some other man is not the true church.
- The true church holds Christ up as the head of the church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23). This includes the name the church wears (Romans 16:16; Acts 20:28). Any other church that claims someone else as head or takes a name not found in Scripture is not the true church.
- God’s church in the Bible was founded in Acts 2 around 33 A.D. Any other church founded beyond this point is not the true church.
- The only men given overall leadership positions over the church are called elders, and these men must meet very strict qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-8). Deacons are also leaders in the church, but they work under the elders and also have qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Any other leadership positions given are not Scriptural.
- The way a person is added to the Lord’s Church is only through baptism (Acts 2:38-41, 47).
While there are other identifies with worship and practice, these guidelines can help us spot the real church from the fake ones. It is vital that we worship with the Lord’s church, and not with a forgery. Our eternal destination depends on it. Are we with a counterfeit church, or with the genuine item, God’s church?