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A Checklist for Genuine Christianity

I got a new set of earphones recently for my iPod. Looking at the reviews on Amazon I kept seeing the warning ‘Beware of fakes’. So wondering whether mine were genuine I went looking and came across a website that did photo comparisons between genuine and counterfeit earphones. After looking at the telltale signs I was satisfied that mine were the real deal. But not everything that says Sennheiser on the outside is Sennheiser on the inside.

That applies to Christianity too. There is such a wide variety that hangs out under the umbrella name of Christianity that it can be hard to know what’s genuine. Turn on the satellite tv stations and there are several religious channels; walk through most towns and you will be confronted with different churches; different groups may arrive at your door—all these claiming to be Christian. On top of that, the broad ethos of our culture is allegedly Christian.

But not all that comes under the brand name of Christian is in fact Christian. All of this makes for confusion on a vitally important subject. What are the hallmarks of genuine Christianity? How can you be able to tell if what you are hearing or seeing is the real deal? Here’s a checklist of some (not all) of the telltale signs of genuine Christianity.

1. It’s about Jesus Christ – not surprisingly Christ-ianity is and should be about Christ. But surprisingly he gets sidelined, or just simply replaced in many churches. Although Jesus may get a mention, other topics eg. health, wealth, behaviour, social issues get the lion’s share of the attention, or other religious or biblical characters receive more focus. Genuine Christianity is all about Jesus.

2. It’s about what Jesus did at the Cross – Jesus didn’t come primarily to be a good example or a great teacher. He came to die so that we could be forgiven. It is at the Cross that forgiveness is found, not in anything else—eg. keeping rituals or rules.

3. It’s about salvation being a free gift, not a reward for good behaviour. This is the acid test of genuine Christian teaching. The Bible teaches that we aren’t good enough to impress God—even our best and most religious acts fall far short. Salvation is something that God accomplishes and offers to those who will acknowledge that they are sinners, accept his gift of forgiveness and put their trust solely in what Jesus did at the cross.

These are only three, but they should help you assess what you are hearing. Make sure it’s the genuine article.