Jul 28

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For Lack of a Comma

The first American Venus probe was lost due to the inadvertent substitution of a period for a comma in a FORTRAN program.
A NASA programmer wrote:
DO 3 I = 1.3
when he should have entered:
DO 3 I = 1,3

That seemingly inconsequential period sent the rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral on July 22, 1962, headed toward populated areas. The rocket had to be destroyed. The minuscule mistake resulted in a great danger to many lives.
This incident illustrates the principle of Galatians 3:16, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Here, the Scripture is showing the crucial importance of correctly interpreting even the minute details of the words which He chose to use to inform us of His will. [Also see: Mat. 5:18]. The Scripture read “seed” but to understand it as “seeds” would have given the interpretation a wrong teaching.
It is tragic that many so-called preachers likewise make such a seemingly insignificant mistake. They may correctly read what the Scripture states, but produce for their hearers a message that has been slightly (but dangerously) changed.
Satan, although he did it intentionally, “read” “…for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” But his slight and dangerous message was, “you will not surely die.”
“Preachers” read “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). But, by adding the same word as did Satan, produce for their hearers “He that believeth and is not baptized shall be saved.”
“Preachers” read “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jam. 2:24), but preach “Ye see then how that not by works a man is justified, and by faith only.”
Yes, a period instead of a comma resulted in great danger for many lives. But an even greater danger is the result of “preachers” who either insert or delete small words which completely change the teaching of God. Why not examine what you have been told? Isn’t your eternity worth it?

Gary Henson

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