Five Words Every Christian Should Know

At times we have the tendency to avoid big words or to shy away from them. It’s good to keep things simple but we must remember, the main thing isn’t the only thing. Here are five words that all Christians should know.

Regeneration

Regeneration is the gracious act of God whereby He brings to life the spiritually dead and causes them to turn in faith to Him (Ephesians 2:1-9). Each and every one of us is born spiritually dead – which means there is no desire, or even ability, within us to follow after God on our own (Romans 3:10; 8:7-8). We are dead in sin and cannot initiate a relationship with God. Therefore, it takes the miraculous work of God for us to be brought into a saving relationship with Him. He must first replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19) before we will turn in faith to Him. If it were not for God’s gracious work of regeneration, sinners would remain in their state of deadness forever. It is only by God’s grace that unbelievers come to life spiritually and turn in faith to Christ.

Justification

Justification is a judicial term that has huge theological significance. To be justified is to be declared righteous. It’s as if you were sitting before the judge in a court room and he declared you not guilty, although you were guilty. This is what has taken place in the believer’s life. By grace through faith in Jesus, the believer has been declared righteous (not guilty) before God (Romans 3:24-25). This declaration was not a result of self-works or effort, but of Christ’s work on behalf of the believer (Galatians 2:16). Therefore, when God the Father looks down on the Christian He does not see the sinners that we are but He sees His Son’s righteousness in us (Romans 5:18-19).

Propitiation

Propitiation has in mind the appeasement or satisfaction of God’s wrath.  As a result of our sin we have offended a holy God. We deserve punishment. That punishment is the wrath of God being poured out on us for all of eternity (Romans 6:23). God is just and therefore must punish sin. His wrath must be satisfied or else He wouldn’t be just. However, at the same time God is also merciful. In His mercy He sent His Son, Jesus, into the world (John 3:16) to satisfy His justice by absorbing the wrath that we deserve in our place (1 John 2:2). Jesus took our punishment in our place. At the cross of Christ we see both the justice of God (sin being punished) and the grace of God (Jesus taking that punishment for sinners) being poured out. Jesus’ sacrificial death satisfies (propitiates) God’s wrath for those who trust in Him.

Redemption

To redeem something is to buy it back. It is, as one person put it, “to transfer ownership to the one paying the price demanded” (Bob Burridge). Unbelievers are slaves to sin (Romans 6:20) and it’s consequence (Romans 6:23). We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and therefore we are all slaves to sin and death. We owe an eternal debt for the offense (sin) that we have committed against God. We cannot pay our way out of this debt. Left to ourselves the weight of our sin debt will crush us and rightfully so. However, by the grace of God Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He came to purchase His people by His blood. Ephesians tells us that, “In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…” (Ephesians 1:7). Also Revelation 5 says, “…You [Christ] were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). Jesus has paid our sin debt by His blood and freed us from our bondage to sin and death. We are free to live for Christ and free from sin’s penalty only because Jesus paid our penalty. He redeemed His people.

Sanctification

To sanctify means to set apart. Sanctification is the work of God to set a special people apart for Himself and the work of Christians to grow in their in godliness. Those who by grace have come to faith in Christ are those who have been forever set apart by God as His special people (Acts 26:18, 1 Corinthians 6:11). This aspect of sanctification is God’s work. Christians, however, are also involved in sanctification. From the day that they come to faith in Christ to the day that they die, they are to be progressing in the faith. Although the believer is involved in this work he is not alone in it. God is at work within him. The book of Philippians makes this clear. Paul writes, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13). Here we can see the believer’s responsibility to grow in the faith. He is called to work out his own salvation – prove it to be true by living righteously – but He is not called to do it alone. He is enabled by God’s power within him. The same grace that justified him sanctifies him. The Christian has been set apart from this world by God and is now on a life long journey to mature in the faith.

Five, simple yet profound, words to build your lives on. 

Church Attendance

Commands and Suggestions

We all know the difference between a command and a suggestion. Suggestions can be considered and heeded or not, but commands on the other hand are directives that need to be obeyed. Many times there are significant consequences to commands that are not obeyed, like that time I was told (commanded) not to touch broken glass. Well, I touched it and the result was a bleeding finger. The author of Hebrews gives us a command that has huge consequences if we don’t obey.

Commanded to Meet

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). We are commanded as Christians to come together for the purpose of stirring up one another in the faith. That is, men and women in the faith are commanded to meet together regularly so that they can disciple and be discipled. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where Christians could come together on a regular basis to do just that? Thankfully, there is a place like this: it’s called the church. The gathering of God’s people is necessary in pointing believers to Jesus and to stir believers to love and good works. Every Christian should be regularly attending and active in a local church. Hanging out with Christian friends is great, but this isn’t church. Listening to podcasts of great preachers is awesome, but this isn’t church. Listening to Christian music is nice, but this isn’t church. The fellowship of believers through the church that Jesus established is what the author of Hebrews is commanding that we do.

Neglecting to Meet

Hebrews 10 tells us that there are some who neglect to meet together as commanded. They do not make a habit of meeting with other Christians on a regular basis. They are not encouraging others and they are not being stirred up to love and good works. They were skipping out on this vitally important command. That was true in Biblical times and that is true of some believers today. They just don’t make it a priority to be a part of their local church. Instead, they would rather sleep-in, do homework, go to the beach, get yard work done, or a million other things that do not involve edifying Christian community. Christian community is important because it is ultimately about Jesus Christ – growing in His likeness and worshipping Him above all else. Neglecting Christian community through the local church, ultimately, is neglecting Jesus.

Too Busy

Life is busy which can make it difficult to see the importance of Christian fellowship. There is school and work and marriage and kids and bills and hobbies and responsibilities and deadlines. Our society is consumer driven and is always pleading for our attention. That’s just how it is, and the author of Hebrews knows that – God knows that. That’s why He commands that we meet together. He doesn’t suggest it or send an advertisement saying that it’s good idea. He’s not saying, “Everyone throughout the history of the church needs to meet together except for those who live in the 21st century. They are going to be way too busy for church. So you guys just do it everyone once in a while, when you can.” That is not what He is saying. No. He says, “do not neglect to meet together.” As busy as we are, we will always make time for what is most important to us. The questions is, is Christ’s church a priority for you?

My prayer is that we will not neglect the church, that we will be regular in church attendance, fellowship, and community. As Christians it is vital that we meet together regularly to point one another to Christ and to stir each other on in the faith. Get plugged into a Christ-centered church and seek to disciple and be discipled because ultimately, it’s about Christ!

Holiness is Family Resemblance

You ever seen a kid who looks just like their Mom or Dad?  Upon seeing them together with their parents it is clear who they belong too.  The same is true of us as Christians?  How so?  Holiness.

Hebrews 12:14 says without holiness no one will see the Lord.  When people think of “holiness” they often think of monks crammed up into tiny little cloisters and uncomfortably scratchy robes, devoting themselves to the monastic lifestyle.  Is that what is really going on?  I don’t think so, and I hope you don’t either.

Holiness is not an ancient archaic form of godliness where one denies all the creature comforts and worldly pleasures, holiness is nothing more than family resemblance.  What do I mean?  Read 1 John 3:

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10)

Notice that those who sin will resemble the devil?  Notice those who practice righteousness resemble their Father, God?  God is holy (Isa. 6:1-4) and in His holiness He is making His family resemble Himself by creating children (1 John 3:1) who are holy as He is.  Why talk of this during our 8th Mark on discipleship?  Because holiness is the aim of discipleship, and without it, no one will see the Lord.

The question then comes to us: does our own life reveal sight of the Lord?  Or hide Him?

What is Discipleship?

Discipleship can be defined simply as: growing in Christ.

Discipleship can be defined complexly as: God making you into what He’s declared you to be, righteous.

All throughout the Bible it is clear that if you as a Christian are not moving up and into Christ, you are not standing still but moving backwards.  So we have no fence sitters in the Church, we are all either moving closer to Jesus or moving away from Him.  Where are you moving?  Keep in mind we all go through both of these two directions in our own lives, and I should also say we move slowly in our Christian growth rather than sprinting toward godliness or immorality.  We are snails.  And our growth is rather like the growth of an Oak tree, slow and steady.

The 9Marks site says it great:

What is Discipleship?

Scripture teaches that a live Christian is a growing Christian (2 Pet. 1:8-10). Scripture also teaches that we grow not only by instruction, but by imitation (1 Cor. 4:1611:1). Therefore churches should exhort their members to both grow in holiness and help others do the same.

Where is it in the Bible?

  • Peter exhorted his readers to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18)
  • Paul exhorted the Ephesians to grow by speaking the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:15).
  • Many passages in Scripture instruct us to imitate godly leaders (Phil. 4:9Heb. 13:7).

The point is that, according to Scripture, all Christians should grow in Christ, imitate other godly Christians, and encourage others in their growth in Christlikeness.

Why is it important?

  • Promoting biblical discipleship and growth is important because none of us are finished products. Until we die, all Christians will struggle against sin, and we need all the help we can get in this fight.
  • If a church neglects discipleship and growth, or teaches a skewed, unbiblical version of it, it will discourage genuine Christians and wrongly assure false Christians. On the other hand, if a church fosters a culture of Christian discipleship and growth, it will multiply believers’ efforts to grow in holiness.
  • A church that is not growing in the faith will ultimately yield an unhealthy witness to the world.

The Greatest Commandment – Be Making Disciples

We’ve come very far in our overview of the Marks of healthy churches.  Today we begin a look at Mark #8, discipleship.  So this week we’ll look at what it is, how it is done, and hear from two folks (Mark Dever / Robby Gallaty) who have done this very well.

But before we get to those things, I’ve got one concern today – the greatest commandment.  After Jesus rose from the grave yet before He ascended home to Our Father He said this, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

This has been called the “Great Commission” down through the ages of church history and rightly so, for in it we find the joys to which we are called to as the Church.  Notice Jesus has all authority now?  Notice we are to reach the nations?  Notice we are baptize, teach, and feel the presence of Jesus to the end of the age?  It’s all great.  But there is one phrase that is often overlooked, “make disciples.”  This is how we reach the nations, this is how to exercise the authority of Christ, this is how the Church is taught, and this is what the Church is baptized into.  Spreading the gospel without discipleship is wicked.  Discipleship without a recognition of the authority of Christ is wicked.  Discipleship without Trinitarian baptism is wicked.  Discipleship is how the nations will be reached with the gospel, and how men and women will grow.

When people speak of Jesus’ greatest command He gave to the Church people often speak of John 13 and the command to love one another, and by this love all men will know we follow Him.  But what is love?  Giving people what they need when they deserve it the least.  What do we need most?  What do we, by our sin, deserve the least?  Both answers are one and the same – the gospel.  Therefore if giving people the gospel is the essence of love, than carrying out the command to bring this love to the nations via discipleship is the greatest command of Jesus ever given.

Church, discipleship must be the goal we seek to achieve with each other.  If we ignore this, are we really obeying Jesus or merely doing what is comfortable?  These two, comfort and obedience, are usually not friends.

Friends, disciple and seek to be discipled.  This is how we fulfill the Great Commission.