Did you ever think about this? In order to have a copy there must have been an original. Of course something can be copied and recopied, but we can retrace the steps of the copying back ward and if we do this far enough we will always go back to the original.

This is the day of copies: there are photocopiers, FAX machines, tape recorders, duplicators, printing presses, but all of them need an original to work from.

When we copy something we can also say that we reproduce it. In fact the reproduction may be somewhat faulty. The so–called duplicate may have characteristics that the genuine item did not have. Perhaps, at some time, you have purchased or listened to a cassette tape that was recorded in Indonesia or Taiwan. It was sold as if it was the original, but as you listen to the tape you discover flaws. There are errors, like a line being repeated, musical instruments hissing and humming. It is an imitation of the real thing, in fact is an illegal copy, a forgery.

The term forgery is usually applied to an improper signature, such as to a banknote, cheque, or even to someone’s last will and testament before they die. It can also refer to money that has been produced unlawfully. When money is printed or produced without the proper governmental authority it is called counterfeit money. Sometimes such money is very hard to notice and only a trained expert will know that it is not genuine. Nevertheless, a hand–writing expert can tell if a signature is forged, or a currency expert can see that a note is counterfeit.

Because of the problem of protecting the original work of an artist, write, or others, governments pass copyright laws. These are laws which make it a criminal offense to copy books, music or other items beyond a very restricted number, and these must be approved for personal use. The individual author may permit copies of his or her materials, but only if you ask, in writing, and pay a copyright fee.

It is important to be able to recognize a genuine article, even if, at times, it is very difficult and the average person will need help to do so.

Jesus told his disciple that a time would come when false prophets would sneak into the church and try to deceive and destroy it with their teachings. They would take His original and true teachings and they would twist and change them slightly, like a counterfeiter who does not wish to be caught.

An example of how this can be done is as follows: The Bible says that every human being has sinned. Theologians refer to this as original sin, meaning not only that humans are born with the capacity to sin but, further, they cannot do otherwise. Just as an ape cannot work mathematics because it has no original capacity to do so, in the same way a human being cannot live a good and righteous life. However, there is false teaching which states that we can be good if we just try hard enough. This, however, is a way of describing good very differently than the teachings of Jesus. To Him, only God was or is good. Only by following the commandments of God, including the most difficult one, which is to love one another, can God show that He has made us good through His son Jesus.

Often when people talk about a person whom they admire deeply they will say that the person is genuine. If you were to buy a very expensive painting, or even an item which cost much less, you would want it to be the original item. You do not want some copy or impression of it, you want the first–hand picture. Now, of course, a picture is only an impression. It is not the real person from whom the picture was made. A photograph, picture, or painting stands for the person, just like a reflection of some thing in the water or in a mirror stands for the object. But only the original person or object can be considered unique or novel.

All the Bibles we have today are copies of earlier versions. They are even more distant, because they are translations of an original. In the days of the Old Testament and New Testament, writing was done on skins and parchments. The people who copied from the original writings were called scribes. They carefully wrote down the words from the original. We therefore have copies, but we do not have forgeries. A forgery or counterfeit is written with an intent to deliberately deceive someone. The genuine Greek and Hebrew texts are probably long since destroyed, but the copies are faithful to the originals.

Now what about people who claim to be Christians? Thousands of years have passed since Christ lived on the earth. He was the one and only perfect Man, the Son of God. but are we, as Chris tians, really copies of Him? Do we show His likeness? Or are we counterfeits, caricatures, poor imitations, which cause other people to laugh and ridicule the Christian faith?

If we know the Bible we will be able to recognise, by God’s standards, the marks and qualities of true and real Christians. We will not be satisfied with poor imitations, smears and stained duplications, or unhappy replicas of Christ.

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