Summary: If you want to be free from your sin, don't believe in a different, distorted or damned gospel. Believe in the divine Gospel that Jesus sets the believer free!
Several years ago (December 2008), I had the opportunity to go to Belarus to teach church multiplication to young Belarussians getting ready to plant churches in various parts of the country. I had about a hundred pages of notes for the students, so I looked into translating them into Russian. However, when I found that it would cost me $5 a page (or $500 total) to translate them, I looked for a program on the internet that would translate the material for free.
I remembered reading about a guy who used such a program to translate the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” into German. Then the guy wondered about the accuracy of the translation, so he had the same program translate the German back into English. You know the song:
Take me out to the ballgame.
Take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjack.
I don’t care if I ever get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team.
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ballgame.
Well, when the guy translated it into German and then back into English, something got lost in the translation. It sounded a little militant, kind of like the Terminator:
Execute me to the ball play.
Execute me with the masses.
Buy me certain groundnuts and crackerstackfusig.
I'm not interested if I never receive back.
Let me root, root, root for the main team.
If they do not win, it is dishonor.
For there are one, two, three impacts on you at the old ball play.
(Lee Strobel, Meet the Jesus I Know, Preaching Today Audio No. 211)
Well, so much for the idea of using the internet to translate my notes! You’d think somebody was going to get beat up rather than enjoy a good ball game. Sure, the song is somewhat recognizable, but the meaning comes out quite different.
Do you know? The same kind of thing can happen in our understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are people who sincerely want to translate the gospel into something everyone can understand, but all too often things get lost in the translation, and the Jesus they communicate ends up as a parody of who he really is: somewhat recognizable, but really quite different.
Dear friends, please be careful that you believe the RIGHT Gospel. Otherwise, you could be headed in the WRONG direction and never experience true freedom in this life or the next. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Galatians 1, Galatians 1, where we find out what Freedom’s Gospel is all about.
Galatians 1:6-7a I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one… (ESV) Literally, “which is really not the same gospel.”
You see, false teachers were coming after the Apostle Paul and claiming to preach the same Gospel he did. But Paul makes it very clear, “They are preaching a different gospel.” And he warns his readers…
DON’T BELIEVE IN A DIFFERENT GOSPEL.
Don’t trust in an altered faith system. Don’t turn to another so-called “truth,” which may sound the same, but is really not the same.
Nataly Kelly, a professional translator, tells the story about what translators have called the “$70 million word.”
In 1980, 18-year-old Willie Ramirez was admitted to a Florida hospital in a comatose state. His friends and family tried to describe his condition to the paramedics and doctors who treated him, but Willie's family only spoke Spanish. They told the hospital staff that Willie was intoxicado. Now, in Spanish, intoxicado refers to a state of poisoning, usually from ingesting something toxic to the system. Ramirez's family was trying to say that Willie was suffering from food poisoning – literally, “he is poisoned.”
But the hospital staff person, who was asked to translate for the Ramirez family, said that Willie was “intoxicated,” just like the word sounds. So the doctors treated him as if he had ingested too much alcohol or drugs. As a result, Willie became permanently paralyzed, and eventually a court settlement required that the hospital pay the Ramirez family $71 million. (Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsch, Found in Translation, Perigee Trade, 2012, pp. 3-5; www.PreachingToday.com)
The doctors believed in a different “truth”. Oh, it sounded the “same”, but the difference was devastating. In the same way, those who believe a different Gospel experience devastating spiritual results.
My friends, that is what has happened in many of our evangelical churches and why we see so many of our members, young and old alike, still living in bondage to their sin. They have believed a different “truth”, a different Gospel than what the Bible actually teaches.