Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recurring Thoughts

There are some themes in which my thoughts often run. One beneficial recurring thought is "excellence is the basics mastered." Though the source of that nugget of wisdom eludes me, it has proven itself true to me in such things as karate, in which the stance and stepping has to be mastered to obtain the maximum power; shooting, in which the fundamentals must be hammered home so that the speed and accuracy can develop and in spiritual matters where the basics of salvation must be understood before maturity can come.

For the last several months, I've spent a lot of time in the book of Romans. I've done many of my own personal studies in it; preached from it; used it for various other teaching times and am now teaching a basic Bible Study for some friends using the concepts out of that book.  The more I dig into it, the more I realized how little I know and how few of the basics I have truly mastered.

Most recently I've been homing in on the words that get tossed around among Christians, but get used so freely that the meaning might have become lost.  So, here's a refresher course.

Grace:  The acrostic of God's Riches At Christ's Expense pretty well sums it up. It's a free gift. We can't earn it. God offer's it to all but must be accepted by each one.  Every time the Greek word we translate as grace appears in the writings of Paul, it means something good.

Justification:  That's really a legal term. It doesn't take away the evil within us; it doesn't change the facts of what we have done--or not done. Justification is that God has now looks at us differently. He sees us in the light of the payment for sin that Christ made on the cross.

Atonement:  If we break down atone into at and one, we get an idea of what this is about.  Christ's sacrifice was the only thing that could make us at one with God.  The relationship had been broken by Adam at the fall, and the only thing that could bring us back was the sacrifice of Jesus.

Propitiation: That's a word that only shows up twice, and only in some translations of the Bible; but's sometimes tossed around in sermons without a good explanation if any explanation at all. It's the offering that changes the disposition of the offended party.The only way I could come to grips with this term is to think of a little boy who has offended his mom. He picks a bouquet of flowers and offers them to her. In spite of the deeds done, Mom's heart is softened. That's propitiation.

Sacrifice:  We've talked about it, we'd better define it.  As used throughout the Bible, a sacrifice always involved offering the life of an animal and were made to cover the sin of men--though they could not pay the price, the sins were covered. It started in Genesis when God himself provided a covering of animal hides for Adam and Eve. That involved the blood of animals. However, in Hebrews we're told that the blood of bulls and goats which we the common sacrificial animals are not enough. It was only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ--the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Redemption:  That's a marketplace term--to buy back. Mankind was God's creation. We chose to stray and God made the provision to buy us back. It's actually a term from the slave market. God is offering to buy us back from the slavery into which we've sold ourselves. He'll buy us back to be a servant of His.  He is certainly the better master. Only thinking in terms of slavery can I begin to understand the mastery and hold that some sins have on some people.

Reconciliation:  This is the last I'll deal with here. It's related to atonement in concept in that it restores a broken relationship. Through Christ's death we can be reconciled--have the relationship restored--with God. It then becomes our job to bring that reconciliation to others.

There is a lot more depth to each of these terms and I urge anyone not familiar with them to research and master the terms.  Be excellent in using the terms with make up a lot of Christian doctrine.

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