Helpful Words to Know :: By Grant Phillips

I would like to mention a few terms; some of which aren’t often used anymore, but every Christian should be knowledgeable of their meaning. Depending on the Bible translation you are using, you may see some of these terms, and as I said, it’s good to know their meaning.

Obviously, I am not a theologian. I’m just an “ordinary Joe” like most everyone else, but I am aware that many Christians haven’t a clue what some of these words mean, and that is unfortunate. So let’s take a look at some words that will help us in our understanding of the Bible.

An “APOSTATE” is “one with full knowledge of the truth of the Gospel, perhaps even professing a belief in the Gospel at one time, but ultimately turns against it and rejects it.”

When Christians use the word “UNREGENERATE” to describe others, what do we mean? We are saying that those in question are not born again. They have not put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In other words, the unregenerate are those who are not true believers, or true Christians, in Jesus Christ.

Only the NET Bible uses this particular word and it only uses it in one location, which is 1 Corinthians 3:3.

Everyone has heard the word “GRACE.” It occurs 179 times in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Probably the most familiar verse related to this word is Ephesians 2:8.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

I have heard it called, “God’s unmerited favor,” and that it is. I heard a pastor years ago say, “It is all God can do for us on the basis of the cross.” That too, is a very good definition.

Another person defines it as being, “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”

In my opinion, it is the most beautiful word in the Bible for a Christian, because without it we have nothing and lose even that, but with it, we have nothing prior to knowing Jesus, and gain everything in Christ Jesus our Lord as a child of God. By God’s grace we are freely given what we do not deserve, and not given what we do deserve.

The next word is “REDEMPTION.” The word means, “freeing procured by the payment of a ransom.”

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)

When sin entered the world via Adam and Eve, they, and we, lost the right to rule over the earth. That privilege went to Satan. He is the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Prior to our being saved by our faith in Jesus Christ, we were nothing more than a slave in Satan’s slave market. Here’s the thing. All who call out for Jesus to save them are bought (redeemed) with His own blood from Satan’s slave market. We no longer belong to Satan. We belong to God, because He bought us. He redeemed us.

Another word you have probably heard is “RETRIBUTION.”

“And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them.” (Romans 11:9 NIV)

This word is not in the KJV but is listed six times in the NIV. It means to “repay another person in kind,” or “give them their just deserts.”

If it weren’t for the cross we would all receive “our comeuppance.” We would be recompensed in other words. Thankfully, the day will eventually arrive when Satan gets his retribution from God.

Praise the Lord for “ATONEMENT.”

“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:11)

Atonement in the New Testament means, “The restoring of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the death and resurrection of Christ.” We could say that it is the restoration between two people, from what separated them in the first place.

Also, this doesn’t mean God passes over the sin; but that He provides a substitution for the offender and the offense to reconcile (reunite) him/her to Himself.

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26)

So this leads us to the words, “PROPITIATION,” and “EXPIATION.”

Propitiation refers to a blood sacrifice that turns aside the wrath of God, taking away our sins. In other words, God turns His anger away from the guilty (us) because of the atoning blood of the sacrifice (the Lamb of God).

Expiation is the part of propitiation that deals with taking away our sins. It focuses on man and the removing of his guilt.

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” (Romans 3:25)

The violation of sin has been paid by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)  Jesus is our propitiation, our substitute.

Propitiation focuses on God and the appeasement of His wrath. The liberal minded folks of today cannot accept the teaching of God’s wrath. They see Him as a humble, loving God up in Heaven that turns a blind eye to sin. “God would never send anyone to hell.” Regardless, Romans chapter one and elsewhere is very clear concerning God’s wrath and judgment toward sin.

Propitiation is a part of JUSTIFICATION, so let’s talk about that next. One definition of “justification” I have heard over the years is, “just as if I had never sinned.”

Justification is being absolved from sin for all those who come to Jesus and are born again. As Jesus told Nicodemus we all must be “born again.”

The unregenerate unredeemed sinner comes to Jesus with nothing but faith … nothing else. (God even helps supply the faith.) The sinner that uses that faith to respond to Jesus and believe is rewarded by God and absolved from sin and its penalty. He is then positioned by God, in a right relationship with Himself. He is also provided the righteousness of God the Son, Jesus Christ, and declared “righteous.” We who are saved are blameless in God’s sight because of all Jesus has done for us; because of His righteousness.

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

Jesus provided all this by the combination of His death on the cross and His resurrection. This is made clear by Paul in Romans 4:25.

We are seen as righteous in God’s eyes, even though we still have the old sin nature within us. We have not yet put on the image of Christ, since this is the work of “SANCTIFICATION.”

At the same time the sinner is saved and justified, he/she is also sanctified. Sanctification means basically “separation.” We are separated, or dedicated, TO God, and we are separated FROM evil things and evil ways. It is a process of growing in the Christian life by turning away from anything offensive toward God and living our lives, led by the Holy Spirit to glorify God. Also, synonyms for “sanctify” are “holy” and “hallow.”

In salvation, justification and sanctification we are purified by Christ’s work in us. Then the Holy Spirit begins His work in us to cause us to grow in our lives to glorify Christ.

When we were saved, we were sanctified, and we are being sanctified daily by the Holy Spirit working in us.

IMPUTED” is an accounting term. When Paul says, “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness,” (Romans 4:22) he is saying that Christ’s righteousness has been credited to our account.

Grant Phillips


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