Christian Speak Part II
In my last article of this same title, I showed that many pastors today intentionally do not use certain Scriptural words because they believe they are too “churchy”, or too “big” for us to understand. Starting with this article and a few more to follow, we’ll look at some of those shunned words, mainly because they are important words that all Christians should know and understand (Christian Speak).
Before considering these words, it’s important to point out that not every version of the Bible will necessarily use the exact same word. Therefore, we’ll look at the original Hebrew and Greek and what it means, and I’ll try to point out different words from some of the more popular translations of the Bible when the words differ. In the case of the word we are considering here, most of the popular Bible versions are pretty consistent in its use.
The first word we’ll consider is justification, or justified. The Lord uses this word very often in the context of the gospel and our salvation (as a quick search for these words in an online Bible will demonstrate). It’s a word that is deeply rooted in the gospel message. The problem we all have is that we are sinners, and our sin has separated us from God. We are not perfectly righteous, but that is what is required for us to be reconciled to God. Because God is a just judge, He must punish sin, and that is exactly what He will do when all unbelievers are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). The good news for believers is that God has judged us as righteous by our faith in Christ; by faith, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer. That judgment is called justification, or justified.
We find this word in both the old and new testaments. For example, Isaiah 45:25 says, “In the LORD, all the offspring of Israel will be justified and will glory.” The Hebrew word used here is tsadaq (pronounced tsaw-dak), and it means “to be just, to be righteous; to be put or made right; to declare righteous.” Notice that we are considered justified in the LORD. We are never righteous in and of ourselves.
Similarly, Romans 3 says, “21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” The Greek word for justified is dikaioo (pronounced dik-ah-yo’-o), and it means “to render righteous; to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be.”
This is, of course, incredibly good news! The holy, righteous, sinless, all powerful creator of the universe declares us justified by faith in His Son, because of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf. Because of this justification, we have been saved from the wrath of an all holy God. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). But, because of Christ, we escape God’s wrath. Romans 5 says, “9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Rather than being rightly condemned as sinners, in Christ (in the LORD, as Isaiah says), we are justified. This means we are declared righteous, and therefore are no longer under God’s wrath.
So, we see that the word justified/justification are very important words for the believer. In one word is summed up the content of the good news of Jesus Christ. When a believer hears this word, everything discussed above should come to his mind, and with it comes the confidence and assurance of what Jesus has done for us. Why would anyone want to not use this word? Why try to explain it some other way? Since the Holy Spirit indwells all believers, I am convinced that every believer will have no problem understanding these “big, churchy” words. On the contrary, every believer will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ when this word is properly taught. It’s by the teaching and preaching of God’s word, not man’s, that Christians have true unity.
Spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and unity are what God desires for His church. Ephesians 4 makes this clear: “11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
Now you have another word in your Christian vocabulary, one that our Lord God deems pretty important. Let’s pray that the Lord will lead those pastors who intentionally do not use the words God provided to instead preach and teach His words. In this way, God will be glorified and believers will grow in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.