Here is a glossary of a dozen words that are a little uncommon in everyday language and therefore can be intimidating to non-theologians and theologians alike. You will often hear these words during the Easter season as well, concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So just in case you were scratching your head, fear no more.
Sin is anything that is contrary to the law or will of God. For example: if you lie, you have sinned. Why? Because God has said not to lie (Exodus 20:16). If you do what God has forbidden, then you have sinned. In addition, if you do not do what God has commanded, you sin (James 4:17). Either way, the result is eternal separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). Sin is lawlessness (1 John 1:3) and unrighteousness (1 John 5:17). Sin leads to bondage (Rom. 6:14-20) and death (Rom. 6:23).
Paul, in the book of Romans, discusses sin. He shows that everyone, both Jew and Greek, is under sin (Rom. 3:9). He shows that sin is not simply something that is done, but a condition of the heart (Rom. 3:10-12). In Ephesians Paul says that we are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). Yet, “while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).
To repent means to turn. In the NT repentance means to turn from sin. We were called by God to turn from sin. In fact, all men everywhere are commanded by God to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30). God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9) as does His kindness (Rom. 2:4).
There is true and false repentance, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).
There are seven words in Scripture that denote the idea of forgiveness: three in Hebrew and four in Greek. No book of religion except Christianity teaches that God completely forgives sins. God remembers our sins no more (Heb. 10:17). God is the initiator of forgiveness (Col. 2:13).
There is only one sin for which the Father does not promise forgiveness: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28; Matt. 12:32). The contexts suggest this to be the sin of attributing to unclean spirits the work of the Holy Spirit.
For man to receive forgiveness, repentance is necessary (Luke 17:3-4). For the holy God to extend forgiveness, the shedding of blood is necessary (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11). Forgiveness is based upon the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
The act of God whereby He renews the spiritual condition of a sinner. It is a spiritual change brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit so that the person then possesses new life, eternal life. Regeneration is a change in our moral and spiritual nature where justification is a change in our relationship with God. Also, sanctification is the work of God in us to make us more like Jesus. Regeneration is the beginning of that change. It means to be born again.
To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity (1 Thess. 4:7) and being such we are called to do good works (Eph. 2:10).
Christians are to sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts (1 Pet. 3:15). God sanctified Israel as His own special nation (Ezek. 27:28). People can be sanctified (Exodus 19:10,14) and so can a mountain (Exodus 19:23), as can the Sabbath day (Gen. 2:3), and every created thing is sanctified through the word of God and prayer (1 Tim. 4:4).1
Sanctification follows justification. In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.
Resurrection, resurrection bodies
Resurrection means to be raised from the dead (John 5:28, 29). The word is used in different contexts in the Bible. Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11:43). This is a resurrection, but it is not part of the resurrection that occurs when we receive our new bodies when Christ returns (1 Thess. 4:13-18), on the last day (John 6:39-44) when the last trumpet is blown (1Cor. 15:51-55). Lazarus died again. The resurrection of Jesus is promissory in that as we know He was raised, so we will be raised also. In that context, Jesus is the only one who has received a resurrected body. That is why He is called the first-fruit from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20-23). We will receive our bodies either at the rapture or when Jesus returns to earth.The resurrected body is not subject to death or sin. We know very little about it except what was manifested by Jesus after His resurrection; namely, that He was able to move about as He desired — in and out of rooms without the use of doors. Other than that, the rest is conjecture. (See 1 Cor. 15).
To atone means to make amends, to repair a wrong done. Biblically, it means to remove sin. The Old Testament atonements offered by the high priest were temporary and a foreshadow of the real and final atonement made by Jesus. Jesus atoned for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). This atonement is received by faith (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9).
Man is a sinner (Rom. 5:8) and cannot atone for himself. Therefore, it was the love of the Father that sent Jesus (1 John 4:10) to die in our place (1 Pet. 3:18) for our sins (1 Pet. 2:24). Because of the atonement, our fellowship with God is restored (Rom. 5:10). (See Reconciliation.)
The cancellation of sin. Expiation and propitiation are similar but expiation does not carry the implication of dealing with wrath, of appeasing it through a sacrifice. Generally speaking, propitiation cancels sin and deals with God’s wrath. Expiation is simply the cancellation of sin. Jesus was our propitiation (1 John 2:2; 4:10 — “atoning sacrifice” in the NIV).
This means the turning away of wrath by an offering. It is similar to expiation but expiation does not carry the nuances involving wrath. For the Christian the propitiation was the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. It turned away the wrath of God so that He could pass “over the sins previously committed” (Rom. 3:25). It was the Father who sent the Son to be the propitiation (1 John 4:10) for all (1 John 2:2).
Reconciliation is changing for the better a relationship between two or more persons. Theologically it refers to the change of relationship between God and man. We are naturally children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and are at enmity with God (Eph. 2:11-15); but, “…we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…” (Rom. 5:10). Because of the death of Jesus, the Christian’s relationship with God is changed for the better. We are now able to have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3) whereas before we could not. So, we are reconciled to Him (Rom. 5:10-11). The problem of sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) has been addressed and removed in the cross. It was accomplished by God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:18).
Redemption means to free someone from bondage. It often involves the paying of a ransom, a price that makes redemption possible. The Israelites were redeemed from Egypt. We were redeemed from the power of sin and the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13) through Jesus (Rom. 3:24; Col. 1:14). We were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23).
To be justified is to be made righteous. It is a divine act where God declares the sinner to be innocent of his sins. It is not that the sinner is now sinless, but that he is “declared” sinless. This justification is based on the shed blood of Jesus, “…having now been justified by His blood…” (Rom. 5:9). When God sees the Christian, He sees him through the sacrifice of Jesus and “sees” him without sin. This declaration of innocence is not without cost for it required the satisfaction of God’s Law, “…without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). By the sacrifice of Jesus, in the “one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Rom. 5:18, NASB). In justification, the justice of God fell upon Himself–Jesus. We receive mercy–we are not judged according to our sins. And grace is shed upon us–we receive eternal life. This justification is a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24), by faith (Rom. 3:28) because Jesus bore our guilt (Isaiah 53:12). A good way to remember what “Justification” means: ~ just as if I never sinned ~ and that my friends, is how God views those who believe in the atoning work of Christ on the cross.