If you follow the comments to any of these posts (they’re usually more interesting than the posts themselves), you’re aware that there’s a bit of a discussion emerging about the propriety of claiming to be jacked up about the Gospel. The word is commonly defined as either being broken or being under the influence of drugs. I and a few others have taken the position that it is not an appropriate term to describe one’s reaction to the preaching of the Word, and others are saying that emotions trump whatever words we choose to describe them. In other places on this blog, we’ve looked at how the modern church is frequently promiscuous in its use of language.
Does it really matter? Should Christians be so careful about the words we use?
We follow a Savior who described himself as the Word. God created and sustains us and everything we see by the power of his word. Words are powerful and meaningful. If we assume we can take liberties with the words we use (Bamf, jacked and BangORang to describe God’s work, for example), then we strip words of all their meaning, usefulness and power.
When God told Timothy to study, what was he supposed to study (2 Timothy 2:15), if not words? When Peter tells us that some of Paul’s teachings are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16), it’s the words that hold the key to their meaning. When God wanted his prophetic message to be clearly expressed in Habakkuk 2:2, what did he use? Written words. What would make Solomon judge a word as fitly spoken (Proverbs 25:11), if not an excellent match between a word’s definition and its application?
When we want to understand the precise meaning of Scripture, we go to the original languages to research the definitions and usage of the words we’ve translated into English. In knowing God’s revelation, precise and unchanging meanings are crucial. If we treat words as being infinitely malleable, we give ourselves the liberty to treat the Bible cavalierly and read our own meanings into it.
Words are so important, God would rather us not use them at all than to use them carelessly, which is one of the important lessons Job had learned by the end of his book.
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty with your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)
I would expect that there’s a very high correlation between leaders who carefully watch their language and who preach God’s Word faithfully, insightfully and effectively. If you don’t treat the definitions of words seriously, how can you possibly study the Bible?
Find a preacher with a loose tongue, and you’ll probably also find a preacher with loose doctrine.