Christian Experience and Counterfeit – Gospel in Life

Christian Experience and Counterfeit

Tim Keller |  May 27, 1990

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  • Discipleship and Spiritual Growth
  • Atonement
Matthew 13:1-9; 18-30; 36-43
RS 209-05


Do you know how often Jesus Christ says, “You may be fake. You may be bogus. You may be counterfeit?” Paul likewise says, “Examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith. Jesus tells very clearly here in these two agricultural parables that there are counterfeits inside the body of Christ.

There are three kinds of Christianity that are fake, that are counterfeit, where the message of the kingdom comes in, but there is no real true central root the truth actually takes. First, there is intellectual Christianity. Second, there is emotional Christianity. And third, there is volitional Christianity.

I think emotional Christianity is mentioned as the second soil, intellectual Christianity, the third soil. And it’s probably volitional Christianity that is represented by those people in Matthew 7, who on the last day say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do all sorts of great things in your name?” and Jesus says, “I never knew you.” Let’s take a look.

Matthew 13:1–9, 18–30, 36–43

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells two stories about farming to explain how some people pretend to be Christians. These stories show that people react differently to God’s message, and only those who really understand and accept it will grow spiritually. They also remind us to check our own faith to make sure it’s real and not just pretend.

1. Intellectual Christianity

Sometimes, people think being a Christian is just about knowing a lot about the Bible or agreeing with Christian ideas. They might go to church and call themselves Christians, but their hearts haven’t really been changed by God’s love. Or they might use their knowledge about God to judge others. But real Christianity isn’t just about knowing things or judging others. It’s about experiencing God’s truth in our hearts and letting it change us from the inside out.

2. Emotional Christianity

Other times, people mistake strong feelings for true faith. They might think that if they feel close to God, that means they’re good Christians. But real Christianity isn’t just about feelings. It’s about faith in Jesus, even when our feelings change. It’s also about letting God’s Spirit transform us and taking advantage of the chances we get to grow closer to Him.

3. Volitional Christianity

Some people are Christians because they’re afraid of what will happen if they’re not. They follow God’s rules out of fear, not because they love Him. Others focus too much on the rules and forget about having a real relationship with God. But Christianity isn’t about fear or rules. It’s about wanting to know and love God more and more every day.



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