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Bonus Bible Study Articles

Definitions of Important Bible Words, by William McDonald

Johan Bengel, a devout German Bible scholar from long ago, wrote "Whoever understands twenty great words of the Bible understands the Bible." We have never been able to find his twenty words but Bible teacher William MacDonald provided his own twenty words in his book Enjoy Your Bible:
  1. Atonement - When used in connection with sins in the Old Testament, it means a covering but not remission. It also means the provision of ceremonial cleanness when applied to persons and things. It is not a New Testament word, but in modern usage it has acquired the meaning of reconciliation between man and God through the sacrificial work of Christ.

  2. Election - Godís sovereign choice of believers before the foundation of the world ďthat we should be holy and without blame before Him in loveĒ (Eph. 1:4). This doctrine must always be balanced by the truth of human responsibility. Man must accept the Lord Jesus by a definite act of his will.

  3. Faith - Belief or trust, usually in the Lord and in His Word. Also used of the object of belief, as in ďthe faithÖ once delivered to the saintsĒ (Jude 1:3).

  4. Foreknowledge - The knowledgeable appointment of persons and events before they exist.

  5. Forgiveness - Remission of sins and release from guilt. Godís forgiveness is based on the work of Christ at Calvary. The sinner receives judicial forgiveness by trusting in the Lord Jesus. The believer receives parental forgiveness when he confesses his sins to the Father.

  6. Glorify - To honor, praise, worship. The glory of God is His perfection. The believer will be glorified when he receives his resurrection body.

  7. Gospel - The good news of salvation. In a wider sense it may refer to all the great truths of the New Testament.

  8. Grace - Godís favor to those who do not deserve it, but who, in fact, deserve the very opposite. It is a free gift, received by faith.

  9. Redeem - To buy back. We were Godís people by creation. Through sinning, we became slaves of Satan. Christ bought us back at enormous price, His own precious blood.

  10. Justify - To reckon or count righteous. Man justifies God when he acknowledges that God is just and right. God justifies man when man repents and believes the gospel. The latter justification is by grace, faith, blood, works, power and God. Grace means we donít deserve it. Faith is the means by which we receive it. Blood is the price that was paid by Christ. Works are the proof of our justification. The powerful resurrection of Christ shows Godís acceptance of His work. And God is the One who justifies.

  11. Sin - Any thought, word, or deed that comes short of Godís perfection. Sin is lawlessness, doing wrong, and failing to do what is right.

  12. Predestination - Godís foreordaining of persons to some position or blessing. Believers are predestined to be conformed to the image of Godís Son.

  13. Propitiation - The act by which mercy is shown because of a satisfactory payment, such as the sacrificial work of Christ.

  14. Reconciliation - Removal of enmity and creation of peace between two parties. Believers are reconciled to God because the Lord Jesus removed the cause of conflict, that is, sin.

  15. Repentance - An about-face, a turning around. It is a change of mind toward self, sin, God, and Christ, which changes the attitude, which changes the actions. It involves not just the mind but the conscience. It is the sinnerís acknowledgment of his ungodliness, lostness, helplessness, and hopelessness, and his need of grace. It is taking sides with God against oneís self.

  16. Righteousness - The quality of doing what is just and right, the opposite of sin and lawlessness. God is absolutely righteous. He imputes (credits to oneís account) His righteousness to the one who believes in Christ. That is positional righteousness. From then on the believer should live righteously. That is practical righteousness.

  17. Law - Commandment. In the Old Testament, God tested man under law with a penalty attached for failure. Blessing was conditioned on manís obedience. The commands of the New Testament are instructions in righteousness for those who have been saved by grace. Now obedience is motivated by love, not by fear of punishment.

  18. Resurrection - The raising of a dead body to life. It always refers to the body, never to the spirit or soul.

  19. Salvation - Deliverance, whether from sin, judgment, prison, drowning, etc. It is frequently used of the salvation of the soul, but the precise meaning must be judged by the context.

  20. Sanctify - To set apart. Christ set Himself apart for the work of the cross. Unsaved people can be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, that is, set apart to a position of external privilege. Believers are positionally set apart to God from the world at the time of their conversion, and should set themselves apart in day-by-day experience. They will be perfectly sanctified when they are in heaven. Inanimate things can also be set apart for the service of the Lord.


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