Definitions of Key Terms and Doctrines of the Christian Faith


Definitions of Key Terms and Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Knowing key terms and sound doctrine matters as we come to know God in all of his of triune fullness as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as far as we can with our finite minds. God wants us to know him. Paul prayed “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph 1:17). Knowing God is the foundation of the wisdom we need to live victorious and abundant Christian lives (Prov 9:10). Below are explanations of key terms and a selection of doctrinal topics from God’s Word, as well as relevant Scripture for each.

Baptism: The ordinance of water baptism is an outward testimony of an inward reality—the salvation of a soul by the blood of Christ and the baptism of that person into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, formally initiating the life of discipleship.

Because water baptism is symbolic of this inner, spiritual work, it was never intended to have saving power in itself. The primary meaning of baptism for the believer is public identification with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, pictured by the immersion of the believer in the waters of baptism. Baptism inaugurates the formal beginning of the believer’s life of discipleship (Matt 28:19; Rom 6:1-4; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 2:12; 1 Pet 3:21).

Biblical Justice: The equitable and impartial application of the rule of God’s moral law in society.

Biblical justice provides society with a divine frame of reference from which to operate. The word justice in Scripture means to prescribe the right way. Biblical justice is not a man-made, socially imposed, top-down system ultimately leading to the negation of freedom. Biblical justice promotes freedom by emphasizing accountability, equality, and responsibility in providing a spiritual underpinning in the personal and social realms. Biblical justice must always be coupled with righteousness (Gen 18:19; Ps 7:6; 9:16; 11:7; 33:5; 89:14; Matt 12:18-20).

Blessing: The capacity to experience, enjoy, and extend the goodness and favor of God in your life.

A blessing is not merely what God does for you or to you. A blessing is also what God is able to do through you in order to similarly bring a blessing to others. Christians who want God to bless them must be willing for God to bless others through them. We must align ourselves under the fundamentals of God’s covenant to be in a position to receive the blessings he has promised. Living in God’s kingdom brings blessings, but these blessings are often contingent upon living for his kingdom and underneath his authority (Gen 1:28; Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; Gal 3:14; Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 3:9).

Calling: The customized life purpose God has ordained and equipped you to accomplish in order to bring him the greatest glory and achieve the maximum expansion of his Kingdom.

As followers of Jesus and subjects in God’s kingdom, believers have been placed on earth to carry out God’s will according to their personal gifts and his plan for each life. Your calling is unique to you and will often involve an intersection of your past experiences, passions, gifts, skills, position, and personality when God ushers you into its fulfillment (Acts 13:36; Gal 2:20; Eph 2:10; Phil 2:12-13).

Church: The spiritually redeemed body of believers that is to legislate the heavenly values of the kingdom of God on earth.

The church is built and God’s kingdom is advanced by faithful believers who serve Christ to the best of their ability. God designed the church to be the epicenter of culture, and the church’s strength or weakness is a major determining factor in the success or failure of human civilization, since the church alone possesses the keys of the kingdom and its authority. A church also provides a community in which spiritual gifts are to be used for the benefit of others, and a place where believers partake in worship, study, fellowship, and outreach (Matt 16:18-19; Acts 2:42-47; Eph 1:22; 2:11-22; 3:10; Col 1:18-24).

Confession: To acknowledge to God and others, as appropriate, that what God calls a sin we also call a sin in our own lives, thoughts, and actions.

Every misery we encounter is related to sin to some extent—whether it is our own sin, someone else’s sin, or just the evil, sinful world in which we live. But God’s mercy and grace extend beyond our sin through the blood of Christ. When God sees our pain, he feels and experiences it with us. But grace must precede mercy because God can’t help us with our pain until he first deals with our sin. That’s why we are told to confess our sins. Confession of your sin enables God to extend his mercy to you (Prov 28:13; Eph 2:1-5; Jas 5:16; 1 John 1:9).

Covenant: A divinely created relational bond through which God reveals himself and administers his kingdom program that’s designed to bring his greatest blessing to human beings who operate under its guidelines.

A biblical covenant involves far more than a contract. In a biblical covenant, you enter into an intimate relationship with another person or persons. Jesus’s blood has established the new covenant under which you are to align your life in order to receive its full covenantal blessings, covering, and protection. There must be covenantal alignment under the lordship of Jesus Christ in order to experience his kingdom presence, power, authority, provision, and covering (Deut 29:9; 1 Cor 10:16; Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).

Dispensations: Divisions of time that can be defined as progressive stages in God’s revelation, each consisting of a distinct stewardship or rule of life.

Since each dispensation is distinct and identifiable—such as Innocence, Law, Grace, and Kingdom—there are different characteristics, administrations, jurisdictions and judgments in each period. Dispensationalism recognizes the movement of God in redemption history and identifies how he related to people in the time in which they lived with the divine revelation that he had communicated to them (Matt 5:21-22; John 1:17; Acts 17:31-32; 1 Cor 9:17; Eph 1:10; 3:2; Col 1:25).

Election: The sovereign prerogative of God to choose individuals, families, groups, and nations to serve his kingdom purposes as he so wills.

Election is specifically related to service, usefulness, and blessings—not individual salvation. Jesus died for all human beings without exception and desires for all to be saved (Rom 9:10-13; 1 Tim 2:4; 4:10; Heb 2:9; 2 Pet 3:8-11; 1 John 2:2).

Eternal Life: The never-ending reality of growing in our experiential knowledge of God while abiding in his unabated presence forever.

It’s important to see that Jesus did not define eternal life solely in terms of its length. Eternal life certainly means that we are going to live forever. But there’s much more to it than that. Even the lost will exist forever. The eternal life that God gives is a quality of life that Jesus defined as knowing God the Father and God the Son. This is personal, intimate knowledge, and it begins the moment we trust Christ (John 4:13-14; 10:27-30; 17:2-3; 2 Pet 1:2-3).

Eternal Security: The clear teaching of Scripture that those who come to know Christ as their Savior enter into an eternal relationship with God that guarantees their eternal security.

God’s power is able to keep believers from falling because it is up to him, not to us, to make good on the Bible’s guarantee of eternal life for true believers in Christ. Simply put, the doctrine of eternal security means that our redemption in Christ Jesus is permanent (John 10:27-30; Rom 8:31-39; Eph 1:13-14; 1 Tim 2:10-13; 1 John 5:11-13).

Evangelism: Sharing the good news of Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection and his free offer of forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all who come to him by faith to receive it.

Every believer is called to share the gospel with every lost person possible, both at home and abroad. The act of sharing your faith is not reserved for ministers or evangelists. Jesus has given believers the task of telling others about him and the gospel of saving grace as we go about our daily lives. It can be as simple as doing a kind act for someone in need and then asking to pray with them afterwards while sharing the gospel, or it could be more elaborate (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; 21:8; 2 Cor 5:18-21; Eph 4:11; 2 Tim 4:5).

Faith: Acting like God is telling the truth; acting like it is so even when it is not so in order that it might be so simply because God said so.

Faith is the opposite of sight, acting and judging things based solely on what we can see and perceive with our human senses. Faith always involves your feet. It is an action of your life, not merely words from your lips. A person can feel like they lack faith but still be full of faith if they choose to obey what God has revealed to do or say. Faith is not merely a feeling; it is an action in response to God’s revealed will (Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 5:7; Eph 2:8-9; Heb 11:1-3, 6).

Fellowship: Intimate communion with God and his people as they share the life and love of Christ with one another.

Biblical fellowship is not just coffee and donuts in Sunday school, or a meal in the fellowship hall. Fellowship is the sharing of our lives and sharing the life and love of Christ with other believers. The Bible teaches that Christians are bonded together in a relationship of unity as members of one another. In fact, those who withdraw from the community of believers will find their relationship with God limited by their failure to participate in the fellowship of the saints. (Acts 2:42; Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 11:29; Heb 10:25; 1 John 1:5-9).

Forgiveness: The decision to no longer credit an offense against an offender with a view to executing personal vengeance.

There are two basic categories of forgiveness: (1) Unilateral forgiveness is the decision to release someone from an offense who is either unable or unwilling to repent in order that the offended person is set free. Give to the Lord that situation in which someone misunderstood you, misread your motives, hurt you, or sinned against you. Forgive the people involved if that’s needed, and rest your case with God, realizing that he knows your heart. (2) Transactional forgiveness is the decision to release someone from an offense who repents of his or her sin, thus opening up the opportunity for reconcil­iation (Matt 6:12, 14-15; 18:21-35; 2 Cor 2:10; Eph 4:32; Col 3:12-13).

Freedom: The release from illegitimate bondage so that you can choose to exercise responsibility in maximizing all that you were created to be.

The freedom that is actualized through a kingdom perspective, that of embracing God’s sovereignty, generates a faith more powerful than any human weapon or system of philosophy could ever produce. It accesses God’s grace in such a way so as to grant a freedom that is not dependent upon externals. Authentic biblical freedom releases people from sin and illegitimate bondage to righteousness so that they can serve God and others as they fulfill his will for their lives (John 8:32-36; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 5:1-4).

God: The eternally perfect uncreated Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of all things who is one in essence but exists in three coequal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Trinity).

God exists before time and will exist beyond time. He sits outside of the confines of our finite humanity. He is the great “I AM,” dependent upon no one. Within him lies all wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. His multiplicity of attributes comprise a sovereign and supreme being exhibiting an array of emotion, power, authority, and gentleness unlike any other. The many declarations in Scripture that God exists as a triune being have made the doctrine of the Trinity a central tenet of true, biblical faith (Gen 1:26; Matt 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14).

Grace: The inexhaustible goodness of God which he freely bestows upon human beings, which is undeserved, unearned, and unable to be repaid.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is by grace that we are saved, and it is grace that is to serve as a believer’s motivation for righteous living and good works. Our gratitude for God’s grace provides the impetus for obedience, worship, and fellowship with the Lord. Personal power and strength become perfected as we experience a greater level of God’s grace. We are to grow in our understanding of grace and are also called to extend grace to one another as a reflection of God’s grace in our own lives (John 1:16; Rom 3:24; 5:15; 2 Cor 12:9; Eph 1:7-8; 2:8-9, 1 Pet 4:10; 2 Pet 3:18).

Grace over Law: The grace of God saves us totally apart from any merit of our own, overcoming the power of the law to condemn.

As Christians we often tend to get our Bible doctrines confused and start mixing truths that were never meant to be mixed. The Christians in Galatia got sidetracked because a group of people called the Judaizers had confused them about the relationship between the gospel of grace and the works of the law. Their message was that people needed to add law-keeping to grace to truly be saved and sanctified. But Paul wrote that salvation and sanctification is by grace through faith from first to last. The demands of the law are met as believers grow in grace (Rom 1:17; 3:20; 8:1-4; 11:6; Gal 2:21; 5:1-4; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 2:11, 12).

Hierarchy: A covenantally authorized functional order that operates within a particular alignment and chain of command.

The triune God perfectly illustrates this concept. Although the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equally God, the Son obeys and glorifies the Father, and the Spirit only speaks what the Father and Son tell him to say. Likewise, the Spirit’s calling is not to glorify himself but rather to glorify the Son. Based on the activity in the Trinity, God has established a hierarchy in human relationship as well. Hierarchy does not delineate value or equality; rather, it establishes an order for effective kingdom function (John 5:19; 16:14; 17:4; 1 Cor 11:3; Heb 13:17).

Hope: Confident expectation about the future based on the character and promises of God.

Local churches are to be centers of hope in every community where they minister. The church is supposed to be a little bit of heaven a long way from home. It is to be that place where the values of eternity operate in history—a place where weary people can go to find truth, acceptance, equality, freedom, safety, forgiveness, justice, and hope. Jesus is working to bring glory to himself and hope to mankind in fulfillment of his kingdom purposes and provisions (Jer 29:11-14; Matt 5:13-14; Rom 5:3-5; Heb 10:23; 1 Pet 3:15

Hypostatic Union: Two natures (divine and human) in one person (Jesus Christ) unmixed forever.

This is the term theologians use to describe the perfect union of Christ’s divine and human natures, both in their fullness without any confusion. Christ’s undiminished deity and perfect humanity are united forever in one person. Jesus was no less God when he became a perfect man. He was fully human but without sin. Jesus is the God-man, united forever in heaven. He is unique—God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14; Luke 2:52; Phil 2:5-8; Heb 2:14).

Inheritance: The temporal and eternal blessings and privileges afforded to faithful Christians for the enjoyment of all the rights and benefits of the King and his kingdom.

Believers are heirs of the kingdom promises to Abraham, having already been blessed by the King with all spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3). We only receive a portion of the rights and benefits of our inheritance in the present age. But when Jesus comes, we will receive our full inheritance based on our obedience, faithfulness, and fulfillment of God’s will for our lives (Rom 4:13-16; 8:17; Eph 1:3, 14, 18; Col 1:12; 3:24; Heb 9:15; 1 Pet 1:4).

Joy: The feeling and expression of the inner celebration and satisfaction of the soul that transcends circumstances.

Joy is the overflow of life, the stability inside despite chaos on the outside. The influence of the first-century church was so powerful in society that it brought great joy to the entire city of Samaria when Philip took the gospel there (Acts 8:8). The Holy Spirit’s task is to make real in the lives of true believers the comfort and confidence of their security in Christ (Neh 8:10; Luke 2:10-11; John 15:11; Rom 14:17; Phil 1:25; 1 Pet 1:8-9).

Justification: Justification is a legal term that means to acquit, to find the defendant not guilty.

In the New Testament, it means to declare the former defendant righteous. A basic definition of biblical justification is a judicial act by which God declares righteous those who believe in Jesus Christ. The picture is a courtroom in which we stand condemned by our sin. But justification is a pardon from a death penalty. On the cross, Jesus announced that the price for sin had been paid in full. Justification comes from God alone. The opposite of justification is condemnation (John 19:30; Rom 3:19-24; 5:1, 8-9; 8:33).

Kingdom: The sovereign and comprehensive rule of God over all of his creation.

The Bible declares that God’s kingdom is the entire universe, which includes the earth and all of its inhabitants (Ps 24:1). The job of the Holy Spirit is to bring people to recognize God’s right to rule as King and to submit to his authority. Jesus told the apostles that God will indeed establish his earthly kingdom someday, but in his own time. In the meantime, God has decided to set up his own kingdom communities. This community is called the church, brought into being by the Holy Spirit in order to exercise God’s kingdom authority in history (1 Chr 29:11; Ps 115:3; Dan 4:34-35; Matt 6:33; 16:18-19; 1 Thess 2:12; Heb 12:28).

Kingdom Agenda: The visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life.

We are called to align our lives underneath God’s over-arching rule. His kingdom rule needs to remain at the forefront of our thinking in order to fully penetrate our choices and decisions thus bringing about the full realization of his covenantal blessings and authority. It transcends the politics of men and offers the solutions of heaven, removing the division humanity often erects between the sacred and the secular. This agenda is manifested through the four covenantal spheres of the individual, family, church, and community—which includes civil government (Ps 128:1-6; Matt 6:10, 33; John 18:36; Col 1:13; 4:11; Rom 13:1-7).

Kingdom Authority: The sovereign and comprehensive rule of God over all of his creation.

Kingdom authority is the divinely authorized right and responsibility delegated to disciples to act on God’s behalf in spiritually ruling over his creation under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Believers are given authority to rule in God’s kingdom under his direction and in accordance with his will and purposes. We gain access to this authority through living under the comprehensive rule of God in our lives. While authority is offered through Christ, it is not always accessed. There is a process to entering into the complete realization and execution of the divine mission for our individual lives, families, church, nation, and world (Gen 1:26-28; Deut 4:28-37, Dan 4:34-37; Matt 25:14-30; 28:18-20; Phil 3:14-20).

Kingdom Citizen: A visible, verbal follower of Jesus Christ who consistently applies the principles of heaven to the concerns of the culture.

Kingdom citizens have an obligation to fully utilize and fulfill their assigned tasks through the use of God-given resources and abilities for the benefit of society. Spiritual ministry and social responsibility work hand-in-hand. When the two are properly connected and integrated, people become productive citizens of society while also becoming prepared for life in eternity (Jer 29:7; Matt 5:13-16; Rom 13:1-7; Gal 6:10; 1 Tim 2:1-3; 1 Pet 2:17).

Kingdom Disciple: A believer who takes part in the spiritual developmental process of progressively learning to live all of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

This process of growth from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity enables the believer to become increasingly more like Christ. Kingdom discipleship is designed to be replicated again and again until Jesus has many brothers and sisters who look, act, and think like him (Matt 28:18-20; Rom 8:29, 2 Cor 3:17-18; 2 Tim 1:13; 2:2).

Kingdom Man: A male who is consistently living under the rule of God and lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of his life.

A kingdom man accepts his responsibilities under God and faithfully carries them out. When this man is faithful, God will move even pagan powers and other forces and circumstances on earth to support his kingdom man doing his kingdom business. Jesus is the perfect example of a kingdom man in his earthly ministry (Gen 18:19; Exod 34:23-24; John 17:4; 19:30; 1 Cor 11:3; Phil 3:7-14).

Kingdom Marriage: A covenantal union between a man and a woman who commit themselves to function in unison under divine authority in order to replicate God’s image and expand his rule in the world through both their individual and joint callings.

God established marriage and created the first family. A man and a woman together were to reflect God’s image, which is unity in diversity—God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The marriage union most fully expresses who God truly is, and it is the most comprehensive manifestation of his image on earth as well as the foundation for a stable society. Paul uses the sacred covenant of marriage to illustrate both the bond and function between Christ and his church (Gen 1:26-28; 2:22-25; Mal 2:10-17; Matt 19:3-10, Eph 5:22-23).

Kingdom Parenting: The responsibility to intentionally oversee the generational transfer of a comprehensive Christian worldview so that children learn to consistently live all of life under God’s divine authority.

Parents are to train children in the biblical principles of a kingdom worldview. Through consistent time in imparting truths from God’s Word to their children, parents disciple their children in spiritual growth. Kingdom parents leave a legacy and inheritance not only for their children but also for their children’s children. Children are to be “like young olive plants around your table”—indicating a regular pattern of purposeful development. Parents are also to encourage their children and lovingly correct them when they disobey (Deut 6:4-9; Psalm 128:3; Prov 13:22; 22:6; Eph 6:1-4; Col 3:20-21).

Kingdom Prayer: The divinely authorized methodology to access heavenly authority for earthly intervention.

Prayer links us to a heavenly realm we are unfamiliar navigating. Prayer is the God given communication link between heaven and earth, time and eternity, the finite and the infinite. Simply put, it is relational communication with God (Luke 18:1; Phil 4:4-7; 1 Thess 5:17; 1 Tim 2:1-2).

Kingdom Single: An unmarried Christian who has committed to fully and freely maximizing his or her completeness under the rule of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

According to the apostle Paul, being single is a very good thing (1 Cor 7:26). In fact, a kingdom single is in the best possible spiritual position. Singlehood is a unique platform and position provided to you for great enjoyment, accomplishment, discovery, exploration, freedom, meaning and spiritual fellowship as well as eternal impact (1 Cor 6:17-20; 7:20, 25-40; Phil 4:11-13).

Kingdom Steward: A believer who faithfully oversees, protects, and expands the assets God has given him or her to manage on his behalf.

A kingdom steward carries out the divinely ordained responsibility of faithfully managing God’s assigned resources (time, talent, and treasures) in such a way that they bring him glory and expand his kingdom rule in the world. Stewardship is the responsibility to protect and expand the possessions of another, which for believers means recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God for which we are accountable as his stewards or managers (Matt 25:14-30; Luke 16:9-13; 19:11-27; 1 Cor 4:2; 16:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet 4:10).

Kingdom Woman: A female who is consistently living under the rule of God and lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of her life.

A kingdom woman has been uniquely tasked with the purpose of not only living out her own calling but also providing a strong help (ezer kenegdo) in the home and to her husband. In addition, she is to utilize her spiritual gifts and exercise her delegated positions of leadership for the benefit of the church and society. She models strength, diligence, charity, compassion, entrepreneurism, and dedication to those placed within her sphere of influence (Prov 31:10-31; Luke 8:2-3; Rom 16:1-2; 1 Cor 11:1-10; Eph 5:22-24, 33; 2 Tim 3:10-11; 1 Pet 3:1-6).

Local Church/Membership: A local church is called an ekklesia, meaning a body of “called out ones” taken from the world and joined to Jesus Christ in a living union, a body of which he is the head.

Many of the references to the church in the New Testament refer to a specific local church, or a group of local assemblies, whether in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, etc. Every Christian becomes a member of the universal church at salvation, but is also exhorted to become a functioning, faithful member of a biblically sound local church. The role of the local church is to exercise the authority of the kingdom in history (Matt 16:18-19; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; Heb 10:25).

The Lord’s Supper: Also known as communion, the Lord’s Supper is one of the two ordinances (along with baptism) given by Jesus Christ to his church through which believers publicly proclaim their association with and surrender to him through his death, burial, and resurrection.

The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus on the night before his crucifixion, as he observed the Jewish Passover with his disciples. Jesus transformed the elements by teaching that the bread represented his body which would soon be broken to atone for sin and that the cup represented the “new covenant” in his blood—the promise of the Passover lamb being fulfilled in the salvation he provided. In communion, the believer can experience the unique spiritual presence of Christ as well as accesses his authority in a unique way over the spiritual realms of darkness (Luke 22:14-23; 1 Cor 10:16; 11:23-29).

Lordship: The recognition of and submission to the rule of Christ over the life of a believer.

Believers in Jesus Christ are called to bring every area of life under Christ’s rule and lordship. Only as a believer acknowledges and submits to the lordship of Christ can the power and authority of God’s kingdom be made visible in history. God explicitly states that it is his determined purpose to bring all of history under the rule of Jesus Christ. There must be covenantal alignment under the lordship of Jesus Christ in order to experience his kingdom power, authority, provision, and covering (Rom 14:6-9; 1 Cor 8:5-6; Eph 1:9-10; Phil 2:9-11; Col 1:13).

Love: The decision to compassionately, righteously, and sacrificially seek the well-being of another.

Love is not first and foremost an emotion. Love is a decision. We are to choose love even when we do not feel like loving because we are called to love others as God has loved us. Our relationship with Christ is first and foremost one of love. Out of our intimate abiding with him, we are to extend love to those around us. It is by the mark of love that people are to recognize us as followers of Christ (John 3:16; 13:35; Rom 5:5; 1 Cor 13:1-8; 1 John 3:1; 4:10-11, 19-20).

Mercy: The expression of God’s steadfast love that relieves misery and does not give all that the sinner deserves.

Believers can praise God that even though they were once destined for death as members of Satan’s kingdom, God saved them by his mercy. Biblical justice also comes tempered with the potential for mercy toward the offender. The cross of Jesus Christ is the greatest example of this appeal for mercy. While on the cross, Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who were killing him. Through the parable of the two slaves who owed money, Jesus teaches that this principle of mercy that he offers us should govern how we treat others (Lam 3:22; Matt 5:7; 18:21-34; Eph 2:4-5; Heb 4:16).

Offices of Christ: The three major offices or categories of leaders for God’s people, Israel, in the Old Testament were prophet, priest, and king.

Each office was a separate calling and duty. Each of these offices was a type and a foretaste of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, who now fulfills all three offices. Christ is the prophet we need to instruct us in the things of God. He is also our great high priest who redeemed us by offering his own body as the final and full sacrifice for sin. Christ is also our glorious, coming King, ruling over all things now from heaven he awaits his triumphant return to earth (Deut 18:15; Luke 4:24; Acts 3:22; Heb 4:14-16; Rev 19:16).

Original Sin: The entrance of sin into the human race through Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden.

When Adam fell by disobeying God and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, his spirit died and his soul became contaminated by sin. His nature was changed and became corrupted, separated from God and in need of forgiveness and redemption. Since Adam is the father of the human race, every child of Adam is born in sin with what theologians call the Adamic nature (Gen 2:15-17; 3:6-7; Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12-14; Eph 2:1-3).

Peace: Well-being, contentment, and wholeness produced through an abiding faith in and relationship with God.

Peace does not mean that you will have no troubles. Peace means that God’s provision of his presence will lighten the stress those troubles produce. Peace is the umbrella in the storm, calming nerves and covering you from the results of worry. Peace comes through prayer and also through keeping your mind fixed on the truth of God’s Word. Peace is the order and calm the Holy Spirit brings into the life of a believer despite external circumstances (John 14:27; Rom 14:17; Eph 2:14-17; Phil 4:4-6).

Rapture: The split-second moment when Christ will return in the air to take his people, the church, home to be with him forever.

This is one of the themes of prophecy in the Bible. The Christians at Thessalonica were shaken because they feared they would never see their dead loved ones again. Paul wrote to assure them with the truth of the church’s rapture when the church is taken out of the world. The world will not realize the restraining and sanctifying influence of the church until God raptures his church and all of hell breaks loose on the earth in the tribulation (1 Thess 4:13-18; 2 Thess 2:7; Titus 2:13).

Reconciliation: The restoration of a previously broken relationship based on repentance and forgiveness.

Reconciliation involves removing the hostility between parties and restoring peace and harmony in a relationship. It means that the wall separating the hostility has been broken down; the breach has been healed. Jesus accomplished our reconciliation with God when He died on the cross for our sins. This should encourage believers to be reconciled with one another (Matt 5:24; Luke 12:58; Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18-19; Eph 2:11-22; 2:14-16).

Redemption: To deliver through the payment of a price.

Christ’s death was the price God demanded to redeem us from slavery to sin. God never skips sin. Someone has to pay the price—either you or an acceptable substitute. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning, “paid in full.” All the requirements necessary to pay for our redemption were put up by Jesus Christ on the cross (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor 6:20; Gal 1:4; Eph 1:7-11 Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 1:18-19).

Repentance: The inner resolve and determination to turn away from a sin that is manifested by an external change in behavior coupled with appropriate restitution.

When a person bows to Jesus in repentance and submission, He becomes Lord of that person’s life. Christ’s death removed the barrier keeping sinners from being reconciled to a holy God, thus freeing God to save any and everyone who believes. We are still responsible to come to Christ in faith to be saved and in repentance to be in fellowship with him, but Christ’s death makes that avenue open and available to all (Mark 1:15; Luke 13:1-5; 19:1-10; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:10).

Resurrection: To become alive again from the dead.

Six distinct resurrections are mentioned in Scripture. In the order of their occurrence they are the resurrection of Jesus Christ; the resurrection of an unnamed number of believers in Jerusalem who were resurrected when Christ arose from the grave; the resurrection of the church at the rapture; the resurrection of Old Testament saints at Christ’s second coming; the resurrection of tribulation believers; and the resurrection of the wicked for judgment (Matt 27:52-53; John 20:1-10; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Rev 20:5; 20:11-15).

Righteousness: The divine standard God has established for mankind’s actions and attitudes to be acceptable to him.

The vast difference between God and mankind is that he is righteous in his character and we are not. Since perfect righteousness on our part is required to enter God’s presence, Jesus Christ lived a perfectly sinless, righteous life and died on the cross for the payment of our sins. As a result, God could bestow on those who trust in Christ through faith his own righteousness as a gift of grace. We are then to live out God’s righteous standards in our daily lives (Rom 1:18-21; 3:10-22; 9:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 1:9-11; 1 Tim 6:11; Heb 12:14).

Sanctification: The process of the believer’s growth in Christ.

Positional sanctification was accomplished for every believer at the moment of salvation by receiving Christ’s righteousness (the same root word as “sanctify”). Progressive sanctification is the growth process by which believers seek to become more like Christ in their decisions and lifestyle. Entire or ultimate sanctification will only be achieved when we stand perfect before Christ in glory (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 4:3; 5:22-23; 2 Thess 2:13).

Sanctions: The negative and positive consequences of obedience and disobedience.

The progress or regression of our lives, families, churches, and society is directly tied to divine sanctions operating in history. Sanctions, both positive and negative, are one of the distinctions of a spiritual covenant. This is the cause and effect relationship that is built into history. Sin brings destruction, and righteousness brings blessing (Deut 30:15-20; 2 Chr 15:3-6; Mal 2:13-16; 1 Cor 11:23-32).

Sin: The failure of man to measure up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness, whether in thought, word, or deed.

Human beings are sinners by nature—their sin inherited from the first Adam—as well as sinners by personal choice. The human heart has been thoroughly corrupted by sin, leaving people without Christ in a state of total depravity—a doctrine that means we have nothing within ourselves to commend us to God. To sin is to “miss the mark,” to fall short of God’s standard of righteousness and perfection. The result, or punishment, for sin is death, which is removed only by the saving grace of Jesus Christ (Jer 17:9; Rom 3:10-12, 23; 5:19; 6:23; 11:32).

Sovereignty/Providence: The sovereignty of God means that he exercises his prerogative to do whatever he pleases with his creation. His providence is the outworking of God’s eternal plan for mankind and all of his creation.

Providence is the invisible and mysterious hand of God at work in the details of history to bring to pass his sovereign will. God’s providence includes every part of creation, from the inanimate world to individuals and entire nations. In his righteous, wise, and loving providence, God is bringing to pass his eternal purposes for his glory and our eternal good (Ps 22:28; 24:1; 66:7; 103:19; Rom 8:28).

Spiritual Warfare: The cosmic conflict waged in the invisible spiritual realm but simultaneously fleshed out in the visible physical realm, which our enemy the devil uses when he seeks to defeat us.

Satan seeks to discourage and distract us from the real battle and convince us that we have to fight him physically rather than spiritually. Yet while Satan may have power, he does not have authority. The victory in spiritual warfare rests in the authority of Christ made available to believers through the weapons of warfare. When it comes to spiritual warfare and the issue of our victory, the matter has already been settled. Jesus Christ defeated the devil and all of his forces on the cross, and nothing can cancel out that victory. We are not fighting for victory, but from a position of victory. Satan is a defeated foe (1 Cor 2:11; 2 Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:10­-18; Col 2:15; 1 Pet 5:8-9; Rev 12:10-11).

Stronghold: A sin or circumstance that illegitimately holds a person in spiritual bondage; a negative, destructive pattern of thinking or actions used by Satan to promote a recurrence of sin in our lives.

God says these strongholds have to be destroyed, which means he didn’t build them. Once a stronghold is built, it gives our enemy Satan a place from which to launch further attacks against our minds and a fortification from which to repel our attempts to dislodge him. But the Word of God gives us the weapons to tear down these satanic fortresses (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 10:3-5; 6:7; Eph 6:10-18).

Substitutionary Atonement: Christ’s death was a blood atonement as a sacrificial substitution, in our place, to satisfy the demands of the law in order to appease a holy God for the payment of sin.

God has always required the shedding of blood to atone for sin. This requirement of blood goes all the way back to Eden, when God killed an animal to cover Adam and Eve after they sinned. The animal’s death temporally satisfied God’s requirement and substituted for their deaths. Jesus didn’t die just to leave us a good example or to show us how to bear up under suffering. Our guilt was transferred to him; therefore, he took the death stroke that should have fallen on us for all eternity (Gen 3:21; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 9:12-14; 1 Pet 2:24).

Total Depravity: Every facet of human nature has been polluted, defiled, and contaminated by sin.

This is the inborn corruption we inherited as children of Adam, which means there is nothing within us to commend us to a holy God. We are sold into sin—unable to save ourselves, and totally dependent on God’s grace in Christ, which he offers to all mankind (Jer 17:9; Rom 1:29 3:23; Phil 2:15; 2 Tim 3:8; 2 Pet 2:19).

Truth: The absolute standard by which reality is measured. It is God’s view on every subject.

Absolute truth cannot be perceived by human beings apart from the revelation of God. The Bible is the sole repository and determiner of absolute truth, and God guarantees the truth of every word he has given in Scripture. The believer is dependent on the ministry of the Holy Spirit as the illuminator of Scripture in order to understand and obey what God has revealed to us (Num 23:19; Ps 19:1-10; John 17:17, 2 Tim 3:7).

Universal Church: The church is revealed in the New Testament as the body and bride of Christ through whom God is accomplishing his purposes in this present age.

The church is that company of redeemed people called out from the world and joined together in one living union by the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As such, the universal church refers to every believer from the church’s birthday on the day of Pentecost to the future rapture, when Christ will come for his church and take his people out of the world (Matt 16:18; Acts 2:1-4; Eph 1:22-23; 3:10; Col 1:18).

Unlimited Atonement: This refers to the universal extent of Christ’s atoning death.

The Bible teaches that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient for all mankind, even though not every person is saved. Sin has to be atoned for, because God is too holy to ignore sin, and too loving to let us plunge headlong into hell. Atonement is paying what must be paid—the penalty of death—to settle God’s righteous claim against us. And the only death that satisfied this demand was that of Christ on the cross for all sin for all mankind without exception (John 3:16, 36; Rom 5:15-17; 2 Cor 5:15; 1 Tim 2:6; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2).

Worship: The recognition of God for who he is, what he has done, and what we are trusting him to do.

The job of believers as worshipers is to praise and exalt the glory of our great God and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God fills all of the universe and eternity. There is no lack in him that requires us to magnify him so that He becomes bigger. Rather, worship recognizes and extolls how big he truly is. Magnifying God is when we focus our praise and worship on him. We see him for the great and awesome God that he is; he is bigger than our problems and circumstances. That’s the power worship has. It changes us by changing our perspective of God. Worship is to be the lifestyle of the believer (Ps 29:2; 66:4; Matt 4:10; John 4:23; Rom 12:1; Phil 2:9-11).