PREACHERS NEED TO WATCH THEIR WORDS
SOMEONE ASKED about the prudence involved when sinners are invited to “Come and do business with God” in terms of their need to be saved. The first response of many to this will be that it is too trivial a matter to warrant any concern. But perhaps it would be wise not to be too quick to assign this matter to the category of “hair-splitting” or “gnat-straining.”
“The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd”—Ecc. 12:10, 11
Special care in the use of words is critically important when dealing with lost people about their soul’s need. Words communicate the thoughts and therefore the message we want to communicate, leaving as little room for misinterpretation as possible. People whose words have been misunderstood often apologize, saying, “I didn’t mean it that way” or “that came out wrong.” While communicating Gospel truth to lost sinners, we can’t afford to neglect clarity of expression or to otherwise have our “ come out wrong.”
“Doing business” by definition, means, “to buy from, or sell to, someone.” The term “doing business,” conveys the idea of a give and take transaction; an exchange of goods or services comes to mind. But a sinner’s salvation has nothing to do with such ideas, and care should be taken to insure that no such idea is implied. As much care should be taken with words to maintain the theological integrity of the Gospel as Augustus Toplady took in writing the hymn Rock of Ages:
Not the labor of my hands Can fulfill Thy law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All could never sin erase, Thou must save, and save by grace.
Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, Helpless, look to Thee for grace: Foul, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Nothing in a Gospel appeal should remotely suggest that a sinner might have anything in his hands, or anything about him, that he can bring to God in the context of his salvation. He must come with a sense of brokenness, helplessness and nakedness in terms of his having any righteousness or personal merit with which he might “do business with God.”
There’s nothing that God wants to buy from or sell to a sinner or that a sinner can buy from or sell to God. Language that intentionally or unintentionally implies otherwise is ludicrous and insulting and exemplifies how thoughtlessly people can pick up and repeat words that militate against the truth they want to convey.
Richard Baxter (1615-1681), said rightly, that the effect of words on an immortal soul may be endless.” “The difference between the right word and the almost right word,” said Mark Twain, “is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug.” “How forcible,” said Job are right words!” (Job 6:25). This needs to be constantly remembered.
The devil is the “author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33), the grandmaster of the art of disinformation and misinformation. He specializes in word-twisting, and putting a spin on words whenever he has an opportunity to do it (Gen. 2:17 and 3:1-5; Ps. 9:11, 12 and Matt. 4:6, 7). Therefore, preachers especially need to be as precise as possible in their word usage, leaving as little room as possible for misunderstanding or reinterpretation.
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”