Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Details Matter

If you have been paying any attention to the presidential and vice-presidential debates the past month, you have probably noticed that the candidates have a tendency to play a little fast and loose with the facts. They make a position statement that isn't necessarily supported by the actual facts and continue to do so.  The biggest problem is that there is generally a large measure of truth in what is said but enough inaccuracy that it is misleading.

Just how misleading a statement is can have eternal consequences.

I was reading in Acts 16 yesterday about a fortune-telling demon possessed slave girl who followed Paul and those with him. The slave girl kept telling people "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17).  Paul put up with it for a few days, became really annoyed and then cast the demon out of her. 

Why?  She spoke the truth about Paul and the others being servants of God. But she also spoke a falsehood. Unfortunately that falsehood isn't readily apparent in our English translations of the Bible. The Greek definite article "the" doesn't exist in either the Textus Receptus or the NA27 Greek texts. That definite article is most important.

If we accept the translation "the way of salvation", it is difficult to understand why Paul did what he did. He was getting free advertising.  If it really means "a way of salvation",then what she was saying  opens the door to many paths to God and Paul was just preaching a way. That would explain Paul's irritation and subsequent actions. Paul was preaching Jesus as the only way, not "a way" as the Greek should properly read.

What do we learn from this?  Words, especially in scripture, mean what they say. Sometimes we need to look behind what we "see" with our physical eyes and see with our spiritual eyes. We have lots of "churches" and belief systems that claim there are many paths to God.  There is only one way according to the sacred scriptures.

Them Bible is clear on the only path to salvation. That is repentance from dead works and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Acts 16:31, John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 10:9-13). There is no other way. Attending a Christian church, doing good things for people, or even believing the right doctrine doesn't insure a person's salvation. It is a personal living daily relationship with Jesus that results in salvation. Nothing more and nothing less.

Don't get fooled. Become a Berean (Acts 17:10-11). Hear what is said but search the scriptures to see if it is correct. That is a personal responsibility we all have. We can't blame our teachers or church for what we fail to do ourselves.

God bless.