Four Letter Words
Our society has a term that's used to describe inappropriate words. That term is "four letter words." Four letter words are thought to be inappropriate. They are crass. They are rude. They are restricted and for mature audiences only. We refer to these as profanity, cuss words, curse words, bad words, etc. Although these words carry a negative connotation, there is a certain amount of force and power behind them. They have the ability to strike a nerve, and many consider them offensive. For these reasons, these words are subject to censorship. Censorship prevents these words from being exposed to everyone and aims to preserve the moral fabric of society.
However, there seems to be shift taking place in recent times. The four letter words that are traditionally thought to be inappropriate are becoming more accepted. Censorship seems to be more relaxed. These words that were once considered risque and taboo have now become casual and laissez-faire. It's commonplace to hear these words in music and media or even from middle school kids on the bus. As the traditional four letter words become widely embraced, there are new four letter words that are thought to be inappropriate and offensive. Ironically, the new "four letter words" are the words that we find right out of the word of God.
|The New Four Letter Words|
The Bible contains four letter words that people consider downright offensive. These words have the ability to strike a nerve and to offend people. Much like the world's four letter words, they also carry power. They carry enough power to upset the flow of society. For these very reasons, the four letter words in the Bible have undergone censorship. There is a muzzling of these words, and if someone mentions them, that person is considered crass and inappropriate. The sad thing is that it's not only the world that has chosen to reject these words, but much of the church has identified these words as risque and taboo. Many pastors and preachers refuse to utter these words because they understand it can result in limited audiences. For the sake of retaining numbers and membership, these pastors abandon these words completely, which stops the power of God from flowing. I'm sure you're wondering what the new four letter words are, so here goes.
The first one is "Hell." Hell is probably the last thing anyone wants to imagine. Hell is not fashionable. Hell is not glamorous. Hell is for eternity, and it's quite possibly the most unappealing concept that a human can fathom. Christians realize this. However, instead of embracing this truth and informing others with a sense of urgency, we shy away from it. Some find it intimidating and counterproductive to the gospel message. Some "don't believe a loving God would send anyone to hell." Some think that's God's job and we have no responsibility in the matter. Some flat out don't think Hell exists. Some shy away because somewhere deep within them, they are ashamed of it.
I've been in Christ for five years now, and I will admit that there were times when I was ashamed of Hell. I knew that God was good. I knew that God was loving. I knew that God was just. However, for the first 2 or 3 years of my walk, I wasn't completely on board with the "fairness" of hell. It's forever, and ultimately, it will end up in the Lake of Fire, which are two more 4 letter bad words. I know that many others have this mindset and the Lord has revealed why this is.
Have you ever noticed that most people are fine with the concept of prison? You do the crime, you do the time. Hell follows the same principal, but for some reason, everyone is fine with jail and hates Hell. Why is this? It's because we place our citizenship in the world and society. Therefore, we subscribe to the laws, social norms, and moral compass around us, with no protest. "I'm fine with a child molester, a thief, or a murderer being imprisoned. Lock him up, and throw away the key!"
However, the difference is that when we subscribe to God's rules, laws, and moral compass, we find out that we are all guilty as charged. As long as I'm not the criminal, everything is fine, but the moment that I am guilty, it becomes an issue. Not only am I guilty, but everyone is guilty, even those that would be considered innocent by society's standard. So, we don't like it because we deem it unfair. When people have not renewed their minds to become citizens of the Kingdom of God and not the world, they don't believe Hell is justified and intentionally omit it.
|The Monster in the room|
I've heard it said that if a monster comes in your room, you can hide under the covers and he won't see you. It makes it like the monster doesn't even exist. Some of us view Hell that way. We believe that if we ignore it or don't talk about it, then it doesn't exist. We have to understand that refraining from preaching on Hell has no barring on if it exists or not. The word Christian means to be Christ-like. Jesus talked about hell more than anyone. He spoke about it more than Heaven. He even gave a very startling statistic in his word:
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that
leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and
narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Jesus just told us that most people are headed to Hell. This should put a fire and urgency within us to warn people. However when someone does, they are accused of preaching a "Hell fire and brimstone" message. The new term for it is "fearmongering", which brings me to the next four letter word: Fear.
|The Fear Of GOD|
We live in a time where most people no longer fear God. People are unapologetic about rejecting the fear of God, and view any type of fear as a control mechanism. This desire to be untamed and autonomous is nothing new. It is nothing more than today's version of rebellion. If you tell someone to fear God, they look at you as if you have said a bad word. They don't understand that God is almighty. They don't understand that God is holy (which by the way is another four letter word. People will call you a Holy Rolly as if it's an insult or condescendingly accuse you of being "holier than thou" if you stand for righteousness.) Nonetheless, if you speak about the fear of God, you will be accused of fearmongering.
So, I decided to look up the word fearmongering. Fearmongering is the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue. After looking that up, I would submit that more of us should strive to be fearmongerers. This is a matter of heaven and hell, and far too many people are coasting along as if there is nothing at stake. This is a result of a lopsided, emotionalized gospel that overemphasizes God's love and ignores His wrath. There has a to be a balance and the truth has to go forth. It's stated this way in Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
God is love, and perfect love casts out fear. So, when we are perfected in God's love, we don't have to walk in fright, but rather in reverence. However, if you are not in Christ, then you need to be petrified because Christ is the only way to God. People will say that you can win more flies with honey than vinegar. I agree. However, honey is ineffective if you can get it from anywhere. One reason why the power of God
cannot flow through churches is because there is no fear. This is evident in the Bible.
Acts chapter 5 records the story of the married couple, Ananias and Sapphira. The Holy Ghost had come and the church was coming to fruition. Everyone was on one accord and committed to selling their goods and giving the proceeds to the church. Ananias and Sapphira decided to hold back the goods. Peter confronted Ananias about his offering and Ananias stuck to his lie. As a result of lying to the Holy Ghost, Ananias dropped dead on the spot. Three hours later, Sapphira came in and lied about it as well and she faced the same demise. The bible says that word got out and people became fearful.
Acts 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people;
(and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
Notice that the fear fueled the signs and wonders. These were not two separate ideas because the word later says that people desired to graze Peter's shadow. Word had gotten out about Peter from the incident. Why does fear fuel the move of God? It's because fear has a way of sobering people up. People fear what's more powerful than them. The people saw the power of the Holy Ghost and realized that if God is powerful enough to take life, then surely he's powerful enough to give it. The fear of God inspired faith, which enabled the disciples to do wonders. Even Jesus said that He could not do works in a certain town because of lack of faith. There are other examples of fear fueling the work of God:
Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the
Acts 19:15-17 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who
are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and
prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was
known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the
name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy
I could go on, but the conclusion of that matter is that we cannot abandon these four letter words that are found in the Bible. By no means, should we continually bash people over the head with these words. The point is that we must preach the full counsel of the gospel, and omitting any of it stops the flow of the Spirit. If you preached an all hell message and no love, then it would stop the move of God as well. God wants us to use these four letter words for such a time as this. God is loving, kind, patient, gentle, and rich in grace and mercy. However, these attributes are only valuable if you accept Christ and reverence God. People need to know that outside of Christ lies Hell and eternal torment. Jesus' message was "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Let us preach like Jesus preached. Let us speak like Jesus spoke.