Words That Tell Us About God and the Church

Adoption: When a person becomes a Christian, he or she is adopted by God into His eternal family. In this sense, we are not all God’s children; only those who have received Christ are God’s children (John 1:12)

Ascension: This refers to the time Jesus returned to Heaven from earth after His resurrection.

Atonement: The means by which sins are covered and reconciliation with God is accomplished. The cross is the place where the penalty of our sins was paid by Christ’s substitutionary atonement. The result is “at-one-ment” with God.

Autonomous: Not under the control of another. Baptist churches are not under the control of a denominational body. Each church owns its own property, calls its own ministers, and runs its own affairs as it sees fit, hopefully under the leadership of Christ.

Baptism of the Spirit: When the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer and to make him or her a part of the body of Christ, the Church. Some Christians believe the Baptism of the Spirit happens as a second experience after a person has become a Christian. They see it as a special experience with the Holy Spirit. the Bible teaches that this baptism takes place at the same time we are made part of the body of Christ, that is saved.

Believers Church: Baptists, among others, teach that a church should be made up only of believers and only of those who have freely chosen to be members. One is not “born into” a believers church.

Communion: A term used by some Christians for the Lord’s Supper. It is also used of the close fellowship believers have with God through the Holy Spirit.

Condemnation: To be found guilty and awaiting punishment.

Condescension: When Jesus came from Heaven to earth, he was leaving the worship and comforts to come to a place where he would be unrecognized and mistreated. The act of doing this – as well as His willingness to do this – is sometimes referred to as His condescension.

Conversion: The change of life that comes when a person is saved. The new birth changes us on the inside. Conversion is the difference seen on the outside.

Conviction: The internal working when the Holy Spirit makes us come to grips with our sinfulness and desperate need of Jesus.

Covenant: An agreement or arrangement of solemn and binding force. God established a covenant with us through Christ. When we join a church we enter into covenant with Christ and each other. Marriage is established by entering into a covenant with our spouse.

Divine: That is, God. For example, to say Jesus is divine or to speak of His divinity is to say that He is God.

Doctrine: The beliefs that the Bible teaches and we should believe. These are truths about God, the world in which we live, and ourselves. These are the basic facts of life we can live by and die with.

Election: The word means “to choose.” We became Christians because God took the initiative to save us, not because we took the initiative to seek God. Election is His eternal plan to save sinners.

Enlightenment: When God makes the light come on and we understand the Gospel and our urgent need of it.

Evangelism: To announce good news. That people can be made right with God and be forgiven is very good news! Sharing that news is very important.

Exaltation: Jesus was exalted, first by His resurrection, then in His ascension to Heaven, and then by His being enthroned in the place of honor and power in Heaven.

Fallen: This refers to the condition of humanity and the world after Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. This was a huge spiritual “train wreck” that made everything malfunction. It brought death and sorrow into the world. Even the creation fails to function properly. Worst of all, humans have inherited a nature prone to sin. Since the fall, when people do what comes naturally, they sin.

Glorify: When someone gets a glimpse of the qualities of God and begin to praise Him in recognition of those qualities, they are said to glorify the Lord. This should be done with life as well as word.

Glory: When the invisible qualities of the invisible God are revealed, that is glory. It is when God “shows His stuff.”

Glorification: When Christ returns, Christians will be given new bodies suited for heaven and will be set completely free from temptation. We will be made like Jesus.

Gospel: Good news. It is the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and peace with God through Christ upon repentance.

Grace: Grace is God treating us better than we deserve, pouring out His favor on us and pouring into us the power to live for Him.

Heaven: The place from which God reigns and of eternal reward for believers. It is a perfect, happy, and sin-free place.

Hell: The place of eternal punishment for Satan, the demons, and all who reject Jesus Christ.

Humiliation: Today this word refers to a proud person being embarrassed, but when referring to Jesus, it means that when He came to earth, He came in humility, not exercising His rights or privileges due Him as God.

Holy: Different. In a way that is clean and pure and good, God is different from the world of sinners. Because Christians know God, they too should be holy.

Hope: Hope is faith focused on the future. It is the certain expectation and joyful anticipation of our eternal future with Christ.

Immersion: To dip or to plunge beneath water; the proper way to baptize.

Immutable: One who does not change. Only God is immutable.

Incarnation: In flesh. When God became a man, Jesus was born on earth. He took on a human body. He came in the flesh.

Iniquity: This is a term for sin that emphasizes how we distort the good things God gives us, using them in forbidden ways.

Jesus Christ: Jesus is the earthly name of Jesus, meaning deliverer or savior. It is the same name as Joshua in the Old Testament. Christ is not His last name, but His title, meaning Messiah.

Justification: To be pardoned of sin and declared right with God.

Law: The Old Testament provided rules of living for God’s people. This included moral law, ceremonial law, and civil law. Jesus did not remove the law; instead, he fulfilled the terms of the contract for us. The law still gives us guidance on how to show love to God and others.

Mercy: When God doesn’t give us the punishment we deserve. All mercy is shown through Christ.

Messiah: The deliverer promised to God’s people in the Old Testament. The word means “anointed one.” The way people were inaugurated to high office was to pour olive oil over their heads. Jesus was anointed as Prophet, Priest, and King, though not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit. “Christ” is the New Testament word for Messiah.

Missions: Evangelism that reaches people across language, cultural, or geographical boundaries. It’s about reaching people outside our own backyard.

Old Testament: The part of the Bible that records God’s laws (the Torah), the writings of God’s people, the prophesies, and the history of God’s people before Jesus came.

Omnipotent: All-powerful. Only God is omnipotent.

Omnipresent: Present everywhere. Only God is omnipresent.

Omniscient: All-knowing. Only God is omniscient.

Ordinance: A church practice established by God’s command. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances of the church.

Original Sin: The understanding that our sin has its origins in the original sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden and that this is where we get our bent toward sin.

Perseverance: Sticking with it. Real Christians persevere in trusting Christ, clinging to the faith.

Polity: The particular way in which a church is organized to govern itself. It is like the word politics, but without the bad connotations.

Prayer: Talking with God. Prayer involves spending time with God (communion), adoring God (praise), asking God to meet our needs (petitions), and asking God to help others (intercession).

Priesthood of Christ: All believers have direct access to God and the ministry of representing God to men in witness and ministry and of representing men to God in intercessory prayer.

Priesthood of All Believers: All believers have direct access to God and the ministry of representing God to men in witness and ministry and of representing men to God in intercessory prayer.

Propitiation: To turn away wrath. The Bible refers to Jesus as the propitiation for our sin. Jesus turned the just wrath of God away from us by taking that wrath upon Himself on the cross.

Providence: God continuously preserves and governs all creatures. He directs all events, yet not in such a way as to be the author of sin (or even to approve of sin) or to destroy the free will and responsibility of people. God makes some things to happen, others He allows to happen, but nothing just happens.

Rapture: This is not a word used in the Bible, but is used to describe an event described in the Bible; that is, when believers are “caught up to be with the Lord” at Christ’s return (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Redemption: To buy out of slavery. People were in slavery to sin and Jesus’ death on the cross was the ransom that bought us out.

Regeneration: New life. Another term for being born again. This is when God gives us new spiritual life.

Revelation: Revelation is God revealing Himself. There is General Revelation in that God reveals Himself through creation and conscience (Romans 1:18-2:16). There is Special Revelation in which God reveals Himself through the Bible.

Sabbath: The seventh day of the week, a day of rest and worship.

Sacrament: Some denominations refer to the ordinances as sacraments. They may believe in other ordinances in addition to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These people generally believe that the “sacraments” minister grace to those who observe them; thus Baptist do not use this term. We believe the ordinances are symbolic acts and do not minister grace in that way.

Sacrifice: Before Jesus came, animals were sacrificed to atone for sin. This taught the principle of substitution and that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” It wasn’t possible for animals to provide atonement for people. Jesus came and offered Himself as our sacrifice, once for all.

Salvation: To be rescued when in a helpless and hopeless situation. Salvation includes being delivered from the penalty of sin, being delivered from the power of sin, and, one day, being delivered from even the presence of sin.

Sanctification: To be set apart from the world, for God. Then, to grow in holiness by the Holy Spirit’s power.

Satan: The Christian’s adversary and accuser, the one who tempts us. Satan is not the opposite of God. He was created by God, but rebelled against God and fell from his place in Heaven. He leads other fallen angels (called demons) who rebelled with him. His powers are great, but limited. He is doomed to the place of eternal punishment.

Scripture: The sacred writings. Another term for writings in the Bible.

Sin: An archery term meaning to fall short of the target. Even at our best, we fall short of God’s perfect righteous standard.

Theology: The study of God (The Greek word for God is Theos) and of doctrine.

Total Depravity: People are fallen and sin has affected their entire being. This does not mean people are as bad as they could be, that some are not worse sinners than others, or that they have never done a single decent thing in their lives. however, it means they are totally helpless to save themselves.

Transcendent: God is above and beyond us. We couldn’t have figured God out if He hadn’t revealed Himself to us. Even with God revealing Himself, we know only a limited amount about Him. He is greater than we could ever imagine.

Transgression: To step over the line. It is a term for sin, picturing the fact that God has given us boundaries in which we are supposed to stay and, instead, we choose to step out of bounds.

Trinity/Triune: God is a tri-unity … one God expressing Himself in three Persons.

World Evangelization: Includes evangelism in our own communities, in our general area, in our state, in our nation, and our missionary efforts in nations around the world. Act local; think global.

Wrath: God’s anger against sin. It is not God losing His temper, but His determination to punish sin. it is terrible to face and will come suddenly when the opportunity for grace ends.