Suckers and Cynics, What's Real in Religion?

The cynic believes that nothing is right. The sucker believes that nothing is wrong. Believe neither.

In 1945 George Walton came across what he believed to be a rare find, a 1913 Liberty Nickel. Because there were only five such nickels in existence, George convinced his family that it could be worth a fortune, and bought the coin for $3,750.

Unfortunately, George was killed in a car accident in 1962, ironically on his way to a coin show. After his passing, George's family wanted to validate his find and have the nickel appraised. Experts deemed the coin a counterfeit.

Disappointed, the family returned home and placed the worthless coin in a box. 

In 2003, a collector put on display 4 of the 5 existing Liberty Nickels. He offered a $1,000,000 reward for anyone who could produce the missing coin.

On a hunch that his uncle had been right all along, 40 years after his passing, George's nephew unboxed the nickel and brought it to the show. After close scrutiny, the coin was declared authentic and sold at auction for $3.1 million.

What's Real with Religion?

There are lots of religions. Even within Christianity, there are lots denominations. Within the denominations, there are various opinions, traditions, and teachings. 

Because of the existence of differences, some people become cynics and give up on religion altogether. To them, none of it is real.

Others believe each person is entitled to their own opinion. They believe none of it is wrong. That person is a sucker.

Don't be a cynic or a sucker.

Counterfeits Prove Something is Real

The existence of a counterfeit doesn't mean that nothing is real. In fact, the existence of a counterfeit means that there is something out there so valuable that others want to ascribe it's value to something that is otherwise worthless.

The cynic sees only the counterfeits. The sucker buys them all.

 With so many differences, who's right? Is any of it right? How can you tell what's right?

The Bible teaches that by discernment, we expose error and value truth. Discernment keeps you from being a sucker who buys a worthless coin, but it also keeps you from putting a $3 million coin in a box in the attic.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

1 John 4:1-6

The Bible acknowledges that we will be bombarded by competing truths. Competing truths does not deny that there is something real. Competing truths exist because something IS real and valuable. Christ! Discernment keeps us from rejecting Christ, like a cynic, or from being deceived, like a sucker.

Test for truth. Use discernment. 

Bible Study

Read 1 John 4:1-6.

  • What does this passage teach about truth?
  • What does this passage teach about deception?
  • What does this passage teach about discernment?


Get an introductory text on Biblical doctrines such as The Moody Handbook of Theology or Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (an abridged version of Systematic Theology by Grudem). Read a chapter a week and think through what you believe. Is it truth or error?

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