Tampering with currency has been a crime throughout the centuries. Governments take extraordinary measures to make counterfeiting as difficult as possible, and stiff punishments await those who practice such deceit. At stake is our financial future.

We are appalled when we learn that medicines have been tampered with and lives have been placed in jeopardy. Such conduct is reprehensible, and subject to punishment. Nor do we look favorably on scientists who tamper with lab results to achieve their desired end.

The apostle Paul proclaims himself innocent of another kind of tampering, and a worse crime, tampering with God’s word. “We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2 RSV).

It is well to remember that God’s word is the power of salvation to everyone who has faith (Romans 1:16). But it can lose its power if it is tempered with or even deluded, meaning deliberately made to mislead. There is a devastating line in Swinburne’s writing: For tender souls, he served up half a Christ.

Someone has tampered with God’s word when he preaches a Christ who invites all to come to him, but conveniently forgets Christ’s demand for repentance and baptism, for taking up the cross and following Him, for seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.

Someone has tampered with the Word of God when Christianity is presented as an easy way of life, as cheap grace or a way to acquire temporal wealth. Jesus never said such things.

Tampering has been done when Christ has been shown only as “meek and lowly”, without ever mentioning “the wrath of the Lamb.” Few today are willing to hear Jesus say, “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth” (Matthew 25:30).

Are we willing to walk in the footsteps of Paul? “We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or tamper with God’s word…”

JOHN GIBSON Windsong church of Christ, Searcy, AR

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