by Tom Wacaster

Since the advent of the world wide web and the invention of the internet by ‘Joe Bidden’ (I say that tongue-in-cheek of course), there has been an ongoing struggle between software and hardware companies to gain the advantage over their competitors as to what format would be best for the consumer (not to mention their pocket books).  Standardization is the process by which various companies standardize their products in any particular field of endeavor.  Webster says that “standardize”  means “to change (things) so that they are similar and consistent and agree with rules about what is proper and acceptable” (   Some of us can remember how Betamax lost out to VHS format for tape recording in a struggle that left the consumer confused and often bewildered, and asking, “Why can’t we get a common standard and make things simpler?”  From time to time I have receive a note from one of our subscribers that my weekly article did not come through clearly; that somehow, “Tom’s Pen” did not transmit across the world wide internet in clear form. In other words, the words are garbled, mixed with crazy looking characters and symbols that make deciphering the message a formidable task, if not an impossibility.  Though I have managed to correct the problem for the most part, it remains a thorn in the flesh in my efforts to get the message out by electronic means.   I have been told that computer languages consists of “zeros” and “ones” arranged in code so as to produce the desired program (or is it “ones” and “twos”?).   Evidently in the process of transmitting the original into the format your computer might be able to read, some of those “zeroes” and “ones” produce odd looking characters.  When that happens the message on your end is “garbled.”   Microsoft Word provides a “Thesaurus” and gives the following synonyms for “garbled”:  “mangled; distorted; confused.”   The “on line Webster Dictionary” provides the following definition of “garbled”: “To so alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning; to introduce textual error into a message by inaccurate encipherment [sic], transmission or decipherment.”  Precisely how those wacky looking characters get intermixed in the transmission is a mystery to me, but I think it has something to do with the binary code that is hidden within the word processor that I use to write my article or the service you use to receive the message.  Whatever the cause, the end result is the same — a message that is either difficult or even impossible to understand. 

The world wide web, texting, the internet, emails et al are not the only area in which messages can be garbled.   The devil has been garbling the truth for centuries.  No doubt he rejoices when truth is distorted, whether by computer malfunctions or by intentional lies and fabrications on the part of his agents.  After all, the devil is a liar and the father thereof (John 8:44).  Let me give you just a sampling of the way the devil can “garble” the text of God’s word so that the message that is “received” is not even remotely akin to what the Holy Spirit intended to convey.  Let us, for example, take the simple sentence spoken by our Lord and so recorded in Mark 16:16:  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”  Permit me to take the very words of this verse and “garble” them – distort them, mangle them, if you will – so as to communicate one of the favorite false doctrines of the devil.   “He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized.”  I have used ALL of the words of our LORD, and ONLY the words of our Lord to construct this sentence.  And yet, the message that is conveyed is so distorted by the rearrangement of the words that the truth has been perverted and the hearer confused.   If you place the sentences one on top the others here is what you have:

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”
“He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized”

Arranging the sentences thus, you can immediately recognize the difference.  Secondly, any reasonable person will conclude that both sentences cannot be true; either the first is true and the second is false, or visa versa.  Third, you can discern, can you not, that no sane person would attempt to defend the message that is communicated in both sentences, for to do so would make him a hypocrite of the rankest sort.  And yet, theologians will tell you they love and respect the word of God (which includes Mark 16:16), admit that such words are truth, and then turn right around and preach the second sentence and tell you THAT is truth as well!   Such preachers have “garbled” the word of God, produced a false doctrine, and pawned it off on the ignorant masses to the destruction of both the blind leader and those who would follow.

What, then, is the solution for the multitude of “garbled” messages being preached in thousands of pulpits across our land, and throughout the world?  Standardization!     So long as a person follows human doctrine contained within the various manuals or passed along by oral preaching and teaching, the truth is going to be “garbled.”   “I like” (Jer. 10:23), “I want” (Acts 8:18-24), “I think” (2 Kings 5:1-15), “I don’t see why not” (Acts 5:1-11), “God didn’t say not to do it” (Lev. 10:1-2), and “My parents did it that way” (Gal. 6:5) are only a few of the standards that men use, none of which will bring about unity or harmony in spiritual matters.  If men would appeal to the Bible, and only the Bible, for their authority in spiritual matters, we would have the “same mind” (Phil. 2:5) and “same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10-12)intended by our Lord.   Is that not precisely what is meant by “standardization”?  Bobby Key once made this observation:

Success is usually the measuring rod used by the world. “We will measure this movement by the success of it. Time will tell, and nothing succeeds like success,” cries the world. However, the earth’s yardstick does not apply to Jesus Christ. According to the viewpoint of His time, Jesus was a failure. He died in disgrace the death of a criminal, and His followers were scattered. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today it still looks like Caesar, not Christ is on the throne and the devil pretty well has his own way. The Lord asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). That certainly is not success as the world measures it, nor is it true in the things of Christ that “time will tell.” My friend, eternity will tell and we await the verdict of eternity.

Let us never grow weary in our efforts to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.   While progress may outpace our present technology, the ancient gospel is the only hope for lost humanity.  Therein is the only means of spiritual standardization.