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Reformed Vocabulary

Used with permission
Dr. Cornelius Plantinga
Calvin Seminary.


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To rescue someone by paying a ransom. Just as God redeemed Israel from the land of Egypt, so Jesus Christ redeems us from the slavery of sin and death by paying the ransom price of His lifeblood.
Attributes of God
God's characteristics or qualities such as goodness and greatness. Describing God's attributes helps us understand, praise and imitate God.
The process by which Jesus Christ put right what sin put wrong. Christ's suffering and death are an atonement, a making amends, for sin.
The care God shows for all his creation. God preserves our world, rescues our people, works for good, and controls history. Providence lets us trust and thank God.
Carefully organized, written statements of doctrine approved by the church.
Sovereignty of God
The attribute of God which means that he is supreme and in control.
A sense of humiliation after sin. People who are ashamed feel as if they'd like to crawl under something or have some covering hid them from view. The fall brings shame into the human race.
The event in which the eternal son and God took on human flesh, The event in which the eternal Son of God took on human flesh, which we celebrate at Christmas.
Forgiveness of Sins
The subtracting, or putting away, of sins so that they are no longer held against us. When God forgives our sins, we can be at peace with him.
Restoring peace and harmony to estrange parties. Jesus Christ brings peace and reconiliation by acting as arbitrator, or mediator between God and humanity.
Tragedy of the Fall
The fact that the fall happens not to unimportant creatures (whose fall wouldn't matter so much), but to people made in God's image. The fall is also tragic because it includes trickery, foolishness, pride, and disastrous results.
The Old Testament sign and seal of the covenant of Grace.
The pain and suffering that come from sin; the fallout that comes from the fall. Among the fallen world's miseries arfe disorders, estrangement, and death.
To be Reformed is to confess the common Christian faith with a special accent. In particular, it means to accent such things as the authority of scripture, the sovereignty of God, personal integrity in the life of holiness, and the need for a view of world integrity (sometimes called a "world-and-life view" or "Kingdom vision".)
Goodness of God
An attribute of God meaning that he satisfies the needs of all his creatures.
Giving someone what he has coming, so as to "fill up an empty place" in him. Through His death, Christ satisfies God's justice by obeying God perfectly, as we cannot, and by suffering the penalty for our disobedience.
God's Speaking
Gods communication to us. God speaks in His word( including the Bible), and by His Son. God's speaking tells us that God is a personal, caring, and saving God. So when God speaks, we ought to respond.
The book that contains the writing or scripture that Christians recognize as the word of God.
A disorder in which persons or things that ought to be friends become strangers instead; for example, when people are estranged from God, they see God not only as a loving father, but as an embarrassment or even as an enemy.
The Fall
The event in which our first parents disobeyed God and thus brought evil into the world.
The church's teachings about God and our salvation, based on the Bible.
Authority of Scripture
The power of the Bible to influence our believing and acting. Because the Bible is our authority, it can even give commands that we must obey. The Bible is authoritative because God is its author and because only in the Bible do we find Jesus Christ, our rescuer.
Greatness of God
An attribute of God meaning that God is awesome. God's greatness is the power behind his goodness.
The complete turning around our lives. Repentance is like dying and then being born again.
The removal of the things that drag is down and the opening up to joyful life in God. (Because if we are not slaves to him, we will be slaves to something else.)
Infallibility of Scripture
The quality of the Bible that means it will not fail. By the Bibles unfailingness or infallibility we mean it does not deceive us, make mistakes in presenting God's word, or fail to reach its goal of helping people get saved and then lead thankful lives.
Covenant Promises
God's promises in the covenant of Grace it that he will love his people, protect them, and help them. God also promises to bless the whole world through hsi people.
What we have when we brake God's law and deserve the law's penalty. Guilt includes not only what we have when we do wrong, it also includes what we have when we fail to do right. When we fail to do right, guilt is called debt.
The seeping or flooding power of sin. Sin seeps into every part of human life, staining and spoiling thoughts, words, deeds, feelings, and inclinations.
The Kingdom of God
God's reign over His universal realm. Covenant, prophets, priests, human kings, and the church are all tools, or instruments, of the Kingdom of God. Like a mustard seed, the Kingdom starts out small but grows and grows. The things that Kingdom people cherish and value -- like humility, forgiveness, kindness __ seem "Upside - down to people who are not members of the Kingdom.
Being a triple and a unit at the same time. To say that God is triune is to say that God is three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) but only one God. That is, God is a trinity.
The bond to Christ from our side. Faith includes belief in the promises fo God and trust in Jesus. Justification is recieved by faith.
A solemn agreement or pact. In a covenant there are always promises on one side and often obligations on the other. Covenants are usually signed and sealed, sometimes by strange acts.
Loving kindness to a person in misery, especially when a person is miserable because of his or her own sin. Grace is then undeserved favor or kindness. In other words, grace is getting what you don't deserve.
Image of God
The likeness of God in human beings. We see the image of God in us by our ruling over creation, by our fellowship with each other and by any right actions we do. The image of God means being like Christ.
Common Grace
God's way of partly stopping corruption so that human life can continue. Common grace explains why unbelievers often show good behavior - better than that of some Christians.
The loss of harmony and right relation in the universe. Disorder shows up in relations between God and humanity, between some humans and others, between humanity and nature, and even within individual human beings.
Law of God
The statement of what God wants from us. The law of God is a training guide for the new life of liberty.
The combination of sin and misery that we see in the world around us. Evil originated in the angel word but comes to us though the fall of Adam and Eve.
The lifelong conversion by which Christians become gradually holier--that is, more like Jesus Christ. Sanctification is the solution to the problem od pollution. We want to live the life of holiness because of our desire for God, or gratitude to him, and our faith in him.
God's acceptance of unaccepable people. Justification includes the forgiving of our sins and the adding to us of Jesus' righteousness.
The sovereign act of God by which He brought into being the whole universe from nothing. Creation shows God's sovereignty, goodness, greatness, and His image in us
God's Word
What God says in his speaking. Some of what Gods says is written down in the Bible. That is why the bible is sometimes called Gods word.Everything important about God is lived out by His Son Jesus Christ. That is why he is sometimes called the word of God.
Inspiration of Scripture
The process by which God "breathed" into the biblical writers what He wanted them to write. God moved, influenced, and inspired them by the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit now inspires us to receive and believe in the Bible.
Original Sin
The corruption and guilt that the human race has inherited from Adam and Eve. The doctrine of original sin tells us that sin is universal, that it keeps reproducing, and that it is extremely hard to get rid of.

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