Hypocrites and Reprobates

Matt. 7:5 & 2 Tim. 3:8

I remember words my father often used when he was preaching, words like “hypocrite” and “reprobate.” Those are very fine preaching words indeed. I wasn’t quite sure what they meant, but I knew they were bad and I knew I didn’t want to be either one. My seven year old mind conjured up images for these things.

I remember my father explaining the hypocrite as a play-actor. He described how actors in the days of the New Testament would put on a mask. That was a hypocrite. I listened intently, but the image my mind created was not the classic comedy-tragedy masks that now are the worldwide icon of drama. My mind imagined something more like the character Michael Myers from the movie Halloween.  It was downright scary.

I don’t remember exactly how he described what a reprobate was, but I distinctly remember the mental picture I had when he used the word. Somehow I connected “reprobate” with a “trilobite,” a pre-historic cockroach sort of animal I had seen pictures of in a book. There are probably some analogies that could be drawn here.  A reprobate is defined as an unprincipled person, a rogue, a scoundrel. That sounds kind of cockroach-ish to me.


In his preaching, my dad emphasized that the remedy for a person who was a hypocrite or a reprobate was to become regenerate. Now there was another word I had to decipher. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be regenerate, however, because it sounded too much like degenerate. Of course, I had no idea what that was either, but I knew it was ugly. From the context I surmised that one was supposed to be good and the other bad. Neither prospect sounded very appealing to me, though.

I was a little more open to the idea of being redeemed or converted. Redeemed sounded sparkly and shiny, glowing even. Converted sounded like instantly putting on a brand new heaven robe in place of my worn out jeans and shirt.  I rarely had new clothes of any kind, so that seemed pleasing.

I didn’t want to go to hell and I did want to go to heaven. That was the most important issue. I knew hell was everlasting flaming torment. While I wasn’t quite sure what heaven was like, I imagined it was the exact opposite. For a time, I thought it might be icicles and snow. I could put on a coat and be just fine. In the end, I decided to simply get saved.

Sometimes traditional theological jargon can hinder rather than help seekers. Like many others, I lament the decline of vocabulary in post-modern English. That being said, believers need to put the gospel in a vernacular and context the listener can relate to.  Otherwise we run the risk of our soteriology becoming obscure and enigmatic, and the listener obtuse. In other words, keep it simple.


Published in: on March 4, 2019 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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