Six New Testament Words You Need in Your Vocabulary

by | Aug 18, 2010 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

We’ve dumbed down
the gospel for too long. Let’s rediscover the Bible and become mature

I love words.
That’s why I do a crossword puzzle every day—not just because it is the mental
equivalent of a three-mile bicycle ride, but also because I enjoy discovering
that a word such as “coulrophobia” means a fear of clowns, or that
“jobbernowl” means a stupid person.

Words are
especially important to us as Christians, not only because Jesus is the logos—the
word made flesh (see John 1:14)—but because our faith rests on the truth
revealed by God in the Bible. We can’t really know Him apart from the
God-inspired words that describe who He is and what He has done for us.

“Countless martyrs died so that we could have the Bible, yet today we are forgetting it. I urge you to rediscover the timeless truths of Scripture.”

Sadly, however,
we are losing our biblical vocabulary. Many Christians don’t read the Bible
consistently, and many church leaders assume that basic theology is optional
for discipleship. Meanwhile many of us charismatics often will choose Holy
Ghost goose bumps and flash-in-the-pan miracle services instead of an hour of
sound doctrine.

We are like the Corinthians, whom Paul said were “infants
in Christ,” stuck on milk because they couldn’t handle solid spiritual food (see
1 Cor. 3:1-2). In this day of watered-down, dumbed-down faith, God is calling us
to reclaim the genuine apostolic gospel and the words that frame it. I
encourage you to make sure these words are part of your vocabulary:

Justification. Paul uses forms of this Greek word dikaioo 27 times in the New Testament. It means
“to declare to be righteous.” It is sometimes translated “to free,” “to acquit”
and “to vindicate.” It describes what happened to you when you put your faith
in Jesus as your Savior: In the courtroom of heaven, God declared “Not guilty!”
over you! Are you walking in full awareness of this awesome revelation? Romans
5:9 promises: “Having
now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God
through Him (NASB).”

Redemption. We miss the meaning of this word apolytr?sis today because we don’t have public slave
markets. But in ancient times, a slave could be liberated from bondage when a
wealthy person paid a hefty fee. Redemption means “released from slavery by the
payment of a ransom.” This is what Christ achieved for us when He died on the cross!
Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of
our trespasses.”

Propitiation. This is certainly not a word we use in
everyday conversation, since we have no cultural concept of making sacrifices
for sins. This word, hilasmos, is packed with meaning—and speaks of a sacrifice that
covers sin and satisfies the demands of a holy God. When Jesus died for us, He
removed our guilt by transferring it to Himself. 1 John 2:2 says: “He Himself is the propitiation
for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

Sanctification. This word, hagiasmos, is sometimes translated “holiness.” It
signifies separation unto God (not self-righteous separation from people) and
separation from evil things and ways. It is the work of the indwelling Holy
Spirit, who purges us continually as we offer our lives in consecration and
devotion. The Bible also says sanctification is not optional: “Pursue peace with all men,
and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). In this season when our
culture is redefining morality, this is not a word we should ignore.

Judgment. We live in a permissive culture, and any
talk of final judgment is considered socially insensitive. Yet this
inflammatory word was used by Jesus Himself to speak of the final destiny of
sinners who reject Him. Jesus was certainly not politically correct when He
said in John 5:24: “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has
eternal life, and does not come into judgment.” Meanwhile the author of
Hebrews reminds us: “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment
(9:27). The Greek word, krisis, means “a sentence of condemnation,
damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment.” If we believed God’s final
judgment was a reality, it would certainly alter the way we interact with

Grace. There is a reason the hymn writer called
grace “amazing.” This word is almost impossible to define. According to
Strong’s Lexicon, the Greek word charis means not only (1) the goodness
and favor of God, and (2) the kindness by which God exerts His holy influence upon us, but also (3) “the spiritual condition of one governed by the power
of divine grace.” Grace is
not just God’s unmerited favor, but also what it does to us and through us.
This is implied when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of
God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I
labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with

martyrs died so that we could have the Bible, yet today we are forgetting it. I
urge you to rediscover the timeless truths of Scripture and expand your
vocabulary. By the power of His grace, you will become a living demonstration
of these words to everyone around you.


J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma and author of
the new book The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale. Follow him on
Twitter at



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