Last fall, I spent two weeks in Moldova. Most of the people speak Russian. Since I don’t, I often wondered what people were talking about. Translators helped, but I longed to understand and speak the language.
Christians have a unique language too. Theological words and “Christianize” pop-up constantly in church services, Bible studies, and conversations. For long-time church-goers, words like “saved,” “lost,” and “repentance” come naturally. But others often wonder what we’re talking about. And sometimes even Christians can’t explain them.
Here’s my list of the top ten “churchy” words you should know, complete with Scripture references and definitions:
- Born Again (John 3:3-8) – Jesus coined this phrase Himself referring to being spiritually reborn or born from above; this term is synonymous with “Christian.” The phrase “born again Christian” is redundant.
- Lost (Luke 19:10; Matt 10:6) – Jesus used this term to refer to those who are alienated or separated from God. The same Greek word is translated as “perish” in John 3:16! The Greek means “to destroy, kill, or to declare that one must be put to death.” Christians use “lost” to refer to those who are spiritually dead in their sin and separated from God.
- Salvation/Saved (Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9) – Delivery from sin and its consequences; the present and eternal spiritual condition granted by God to those who believe in Jesus and His saving work.
- Repent/Repentance (Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38; 2 Cor 7:10) – The Greek noun and verb translated as “repentance” and “repent” means to “change one’s mind or purpose.” The Bible uses this word specifically to refer to changing one’s mind and behavior regarding sin and evil.
- Faith (Ephesians 2:8; James 2:14) – having a solid confidence, trust, hope and active reliance in God and His promises. This firm conviction produces full acknowledgment and personal surrender.
- Sin (Romans 3:23) – to “miss the mark” as an arrow missing a bull’s-eye; to deviate from the norm. The Bible uses “sin” to refer to anything that deviates from the perfect pattern God established for mankind. “Sin” refers to our wrong thinking actions, and corrupted nature.
- Justification (Romans 3:24; 4:25) – to make or declare one to be righteous. Our sin earned the guilty verdict, but Jesus paid our penalty and gave us His righteousness.
- Redemption (Romans 3:24) – a releasing or deliverance bought with a ransom. Christ bought our “redemption” from sin, spiritual death, and separation from God with His own life, given on the cross.
- Righteousness (Romans 3:25; 2 Cor 5:21) – the quality of being right or just; conformity to God’s perfect moral standard. Righteousness is impossible to accomplish on our own. But Jesus gives His righteousness to those who trust in His death for salvation.
- Sanctification/Holiness (Romans 6:19; 1 Thess 4:3; Hebrews 12:14) – separation of the believer from anything sinful. It requires conscious action and submissive obedience to God’s will and way. It is an ongoing process that begins at salvation and continues throughout this life.
Are you still with me or do you feel like you just got thrown into the deep end of the pool? Although these “churchy” words can be confusing, understanding them will deepen our understanding of our great salvation.
I’d love to know what “churchy” words you love and hate! What “churchy” word do you struggle to understand or use? What “churchy” word do you just love because it conveys so much meaning?