Words Every Christian Should Know

Recently, the American Heritage Dictionary released a list of “100 Words That Every High School Graduate Should Know.” I’m not afraid to admit that I found looking at the list to be a rather humbling experience. Given the old maxim: “Where There’s Shame, There’s Blame,” I immediately started blaming my high school teachers that I was unable to articulate the meaning of “ziggurat.” Clearly they didn’t prepare me for the literate life that I want to live.

All of this made me wonder whether there might be a similar list for Christians–“Words That Every Christian Should Know.” Since here at Every Square Inch we are committed to growing in our biblical and theological knowledge, periodically we will briefly examine a key word looking for both the meaning and the significance for our life.

Today’s word is Justification.

So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16b)

In his Systematic Theology Wayne Grudem defines it this way…

Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he thinks of our sin as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us and declares us to be righteous in his sight.

You might be familiar with the easy to remember definition of justification as “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned.” Is that accurate? Kind of. It rightly captures the truth that to be justified means that God forgives our sin. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough, and it fails to emphasize that we’ve been given the very righteousness of Jesus. When a person is justified, they are not brought back to a morally neutral position of being without sin. The gospel is better news than that. Justification means that not only has our sin been forgiven, but all of the righteousness of Jesus–all the obedience of Jesus–is given to those that believe. So when God looks at a person who has genuine faith in Jesus, they are “holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4).

Key Verse

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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