Definitions of Theological Terms
Theological terms can be helpful, but only if we understand what they mean.  Here are some classic theological terms and the definitions I usually give when trying to teach them. (Just click on the term to see the definitions.) 

Click here if you would like to suggest a term to add to this list.

  • Atonement (a made-up word in English) means setting two hostile entities "at one" with each other.  God set us at one with himself through Jesus.
  • To be contrite is to experience godly sorrow over sin.  It’s not just that I got caught.  I’m genuinely sad I did wrong.
  • This is a banking term which means "to cancel a debt."  I forgive you.  I won’t require you to pay off what you owe me.
  • God’s unmerited love.  A grace is a gift—unearned.  It has to be given because we can't afford to buy it.
  • Sinless
  • Justify is a courtroom term meaning:  to declare “not-guilty.”  We walk into God’s courtroom "guilty as charged."  But God declares us "not-guilty" by reason of substitution.  Jesus suffered and died to pay the penalty for our sins.  

    We leave the courtroom declared "not-guilty."  Now we are free to serve God and others from gratitude.
  • To buy back, as when the grocery store buys back our coupons from us.  Jesus redeemed us from sin, death and hell.
  • To have a change of mind.  (I thought the sin was going to be fun.  But now I see how harmful it was.)  A change in action accompanies this change of mind.
  • The state of being right.  God is righteous by nature.  Jesus lived a righteous life.  God gives us his righteousness as a gift through faith in Jesus.
  • Lawlessness, anything that goes against God’s standard.  Sin is often a twisting of something God designed as good. Sometimes it is described as missing the mark, or falling short of the goal, or stepping over the line, or borrowing what I can't pay back.

    If God can do anything, why can’t he sin?  Because sin isn’t an ability.  It’s more like a disability, or a lack of ability.
  • Revenge—paying back evil for evil.  God reserves revenge for himself.  He promises to bring justice in his own time.  “Revenge isn’t wrong.  It’s just wrong for us.”
"Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." ~ 1 Peter 1:13