Introduction and Index To All Four Sections
Introduction - A Free Gift?
As Christians we believe that Bible is the Word of God. And so it is.
However, there is a caveat - the Bible is ONLY the Word of God if it conveys exactly the same message as the original Greek and Hebrew in the original books did. If any portion of the translation we hold in our hands has been changed in any way, then that portion is no longer God's Word.
And Christians know this all too well often (rightly) making it a point to say that we should never ever add or take away anything from God's word? The idea being that we don't change anything.
Yet, it is done all the time - not only by cultists and fringe groups but by those we consider upstanding leaders and scholars. Deception is often very, very subtle.
In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God - this based on 3 verses in Romans. For example, in Romans 6:23 and 5:15-16 the word charisma that simply means a gift - is rendered "Free Gift" in several popular translations including the KJV, the NASB, ASV, ESA, etc.
This is a problem simply because the word "free" does NOT exist in the original Greek. The NASB says
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift (Gk. charisma) of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NASB)
But the free gift (Gk. charisma) is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. (16) The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift (Gk. charisma) arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (Romans 5:15-16 NASB)
To be noted is that charisma was translated 'free gift'' ONLY in the three instances when it occurred in connection with salvation. In all other verses charisma is rendered as the single word 'gift'. Note the following examples...
For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift (Gk. charisma) to you, that you may be established; (Romans 1:11 NASB)
for the gifts (Gk. Charisma) and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29 NASB)
Since we have gifts (Gk. Charisma) that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; (Romans 12:6 NASB)
so that you are not lacking in any gift (Gk. Charisma), awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7 NASB)
The Greek word Charisma is derived from charizomai which in turn comes from the root word Charis that simply means graciousness. Bible Study tools says "Charisma is a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own."  In other words, the three verses from Romans simply point out God's kindness and graciousness in spite of the fact we have no merit of our own.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CAN THIS BE CALLED A TRANSLATION. Translators are supposed to be translating the original Greek words, NOT providing us with a commentary as to what they believe the verse means. And they are certainly not supposed to add in words not found in the original languages unless it is done ONLY to make more sense in English - which is not the case here. Did they not think that had Paul wanted to emphasize the 'freeness' of this gift he was perfectly capable of doing so without any help whatsoever.
This is a clear case of people intentionally adding their own thoughts and ideas to God's word. But remember when any portion of God's Word is changed in any way, that portion is no longer God's Word.
And this is not the only case where words were translated in accordance with preconceived ideas affecting some very crucial issues.
See Footnote I for other examples and links to the relevant articles/
Small Change - Big Impact
Presumably based on these translations, numerous Christian leaders use the word "free" without any restraint. See for example, John Piper's The Free Gift of God Is Eternal Life available on the internet.
The result of adding one single word to three verses conveys a subtle but powerful emphasis to the idea that salvation doesn't cost us a thing and is neither restricted by or subject to any given condition. It costs us nothing and there is nothing more strenuous for us to do than 'accept' this gift - 'Sure, I'll let Jesus be my Savior'
However, one question remains. Does the word gift (minus 'free') mean that it never has any strings attached?
I'm afraid not!
In ordinary everyday use a gift is "something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation" (Free Dictionary). In other words, it wouldn't be a gift if it were paid for in cold hard cash, in services rendered, or coerced in some manner. But just because a gift is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation does not necessarily mean that there are no conditions attached.
In fact, both God's gifts and promises to man were virtually always conditional.
In Joshua 6:2 the Lord told Joshua that He had given him the city of Jericho but, as we know, there were certain conditions that had to be complied with before the Israelites could occupy the city.
In Acts 27:24 the Lord told Paul that the lives of all two hundred and seventy-six sailors in the ship with him would be "given him", but Paul recognized that there were conditions to be met which he communicated to the sailors a few verses later when they wanted to abandon ship [See John 6:33 in Section... Limited Atonement].
Remember that the imposition of conditions in no way nullifies the freeness of the gift. Perhaps a couple of simple analogies will sufficiently illustrate when I mean.
1.) Lets say I have a young nephew who is crazy about dogs. So one day, I go out and get him a small puppy as a gift. He is ecstatic but, knowing him to be a little careless, I warn him that if he does not look after the puppy properly (feeding, clean water, exercise etc.), he will lose it. I have attached a condition that in no way takes away from the fact that the gift was given voluntarily and without any compensation. My sole reason for giving my nephew this gift was not as a reward for being good or for doing his chores, but because I love him and would take great pleasure in seeing him spend many happy hours playing with and enjoying his dog. However, if he carelessly neglects the puppy and is unrepentant about doing so, he will lose the puppy because I will take it back.
2.) It is similar to a situation in which a very wealthy man "gives" a much poorer man a beautiful and expensive car - on condition that he take care of it -he must keep it washed and waxed, change the oil regularly etc. However, he will have help. The rich man has promised to send someone over to help maintain it. The recipient could never have afforded this car even if he were to save his pennies for his entire life but now all he had to do was stretch out his hand for the keys and bless his good fortune. Now in possession of such a beautiful and valuable piece of machinery would he not be a fool to neglect its upkeep?
Salvation is a gift of His grace offered to us by the Father because He doesn't want any of us to perish. However, numerous texts tell us we that there are conditions - we have to do something - live a certain way in order to be admitted into God's kingdom. We have to take care of the gift. See The Warning of the Bible.
Not all the passages in the Scriptures that speak of God's promises expressly mention the conditions that have to be met in order for Him to keep those promises. This does not mean that the conditions do not exist and have not been made very clear... they just aren't in the same verse. For example,
Be Obedient: Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21 NASB)
Do Good Works: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)
Endure: But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:13 NASB) Also See Mark 13:13.
Be Righteous: For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven". (Matthew 5:20 NASB)
Quite obviously salvation and sanctification go hand in hand... One does not exist without the other. And as the last quote immediately above says the consequences are severe "you will not enter the kingdom of heaven". Hebrews 12:14 echoes the warning
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. (NASB)
Continue on to The Kingdom Doesn't Come Cheap
To imagine that we can live our lives like the rest of the world, but still be welcome in God's presence, is little more than wishful thinking. The minute we convert and are born again, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God and become citizens of His heavenly kingdom - strangers and pilgrims that stop here for a little while and then move on - eventually returning to what will be our permanent home.
However we cannot maintain a dual citizenship - allegiance has to be to one or the other. If our standards are set by this godless, profane, and anything goes world, we have no inheritance in His Kingdom. Living by the standards of the coming kingdom involves everything that we do, everything that we say, and everything that we think or imagine. HERE
Sadly, this is far from the only erroneous doctrine that is taught as 'Biblical' - the list is a very long one and covers almost every major doctrine in Christianity. One can only conclude that a pre-bias drove many of the so called translations. What we do know is that in the effort to put forward what they believe to be true, the translators have led people away from what the Scriptures actually say. Most believers rely on these inaccurate translations without realizing that even if they do not speak Hebrew or Greek, it is possible to check what is being taught. But, fair warning - it takes time, effort and dedication and a great attention to context. See Context is CRUCIAL
Let us never forget that the book of Acts (17:11) describes the people from the city of Berea as
"...more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so".
If the Bereans did not take Paul and Silas’ word for it but checked what they said against the Scriptures, why in the world do we imagine that we can take any modern day pastor or theologian’s word at face value without checking for ourselves that what they teach is true? We must be a LOT more gullible and, dare I say it, more stupid than those ancient people.
Salvation: The church teaches we are saved. The Bible makes it clear that no living Christian is completely and finally saved. See The Two Phase Atonement
The Holy Spirit
Every Bible version I know of uses 'He' or "Him" for the Holy Spirit causing Christians to assume that the Holy Spirit is male. However, the Greek pronouns used did not necessarily have to be rendered ‘he’ or ‘him’ unless, of course, the gender of the Holy Spirit was pre-assumed. Doctrinal bias, not grammatical accuracy, is responsible for referring to the Holy Spirit with masculine rather than neuter pronouns when both are equally legitimate. And there is more - much more. See Is God a Trinity?
The belief that Hell is a place of unending torment has been so strongly held for so long that few have dared to challenge it. However, the deeper one delves into the subject the less persuasive the argument in favor of the traditional view becomes. Believe it or not ' the word 'Hell' does not exist in the Scriptures but is used in place of not one but three different Hebrew and Greek proper names (Sheol, Hades and Gehenna).
Proper names? Who in the world "translates' proper names?
The fact is all four words are proper nouns, i.e. names of places and should have been left untranslated. Sheol and Hades are exactly the same place - one is simply Hebrew, the other Greek. we know this because when the New Testament authors quoted an OT verse that mentioned 'Sheol' they used the Greek' Hades. So how does the Old Testament describe Sheol?
In any case "hell" does not mean fire and brimstone. It comes from an old English word which means to 'cover over' that ties in with the description of Sheol found in the Old Testament.
Also what did Jesus mean when He referred to 'Gehenna'? - Definitely not the illogical and nonsensical story about perpetually burning fires outside Jerusalem city. It goes MUCH deeper than that. And that is not all. The KJV translates Sheol into 'hell' but into 'pit' or 'grave' when 'hell' would have been ludicrous. Some newer translations use the original Sheol and Hades but still render Gehenna as 'hell'. The NIV substituted '"the realm of the dead" in two places where 'hell' or 'Hades' would have conveyed entirely the wrong impression. See What and Where is Hell?
Heaven: As an aside, Christians who believe they will spend an eternity in "heaven", seem to have little or no idea where this heaven is, what it will look like, or what they will do there. This is not helped at all by the pious gobbledygook (pretentious jargon in this case) spouted by many theologians. See What and Where is Heaven?
Original Sin: I have to wonder how many of those that profess to believe in Original Sin have given any thought to the fact that sin is not a substance with physical properties that can be transmitted from person to person like a virus. Much to the contrary, sin is a conscious, willful act performed by an individual (in thought, word or deed) that transgresses God's law. Think about it. Sin can not even exist unless a sinner makes an bad choice and follows through with it. Besides which, if sin is transferable there is absolutely no reason why virtue, goodness, and righteousness cannot also be physically transmitted. See Original Sin,
Calvinism: The Reformed doctrine of Calvinism claims to adhere to a very 'high view' of scripture based solely on Gods word, but is this true? So many churches teach Calvinism, so many books and online articles are written about it that, to the average person exposed to this avalanche of skillful presentations, it may seem that this doctrine came straight from the mouths of the apostles and prophets themselves, but .. See Calvinism
Guarantee or Earnest: In certain verses (Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, and 2 Corinthians 5:5) that refer to God's promise of the Holy Spirit the NIV and several other popular translations render the Hebrew arrhabon as 'deposit' when the word actually means 'earnest'. This is important because there is a world of difference between the two words. To make matters worse, some versions not only translated arrhabon into the English 'deposit', but then went on to add the word "guarantee". Unknowingly, countless people have been led to believe that Scripture actually speaks of a 'guarantee' when, in fact, it does no such thing. This "mis-translation" can only be accounted for by a clear and biased Calvinistic bent. See A 'Deposit' 'Guaranteeing' Our Inheritance?
The Tower of Babel
Babel / Babylon: There is clear Scriptural evidence that Babel and Babylon were the same place including the fact that both words were rendered from the same exact Hebrew word ba·bel. So the fact that they were translated into two separate English words is one of the many mysteries that surround the translation of some Biblical words. However, this issue has direct bearing on understanding why Abraham was called out of his homeland, and in how the world has been shaping up for centuries as it inexorably inches towards the final conflict. The truth is far, far more terrifying than the usual explanations trotted out void of merit or foundation. See From Babel to Babylon