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Reformed Doctrine

Used with permission from Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, Calvin College.


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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.
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.
Restoring peace and harmony to estranged parties. Jesus Christ brings peace and reconciliation by acting as our arbitrator or mediator between God and humanity.
The bond to Christ from our side. Faith includes belief in the promises of God and trust in Jesus. Justification is received by faith.
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 sricpture, the sovereignty of God, personal integrity in the life of holiness, and the need for a view of world intergrity (sometimes called a "world-and-life view" or :Kingdom vision".)
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.
Goodness of God
An attribute of God meaning the he satisfies the needs of all his creatures.
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.
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.
God's Speaking
God's communication to us. God speaks in His world, in His word (including 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.
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.
To rescue someone by paying a ransom. Just as God redeemed Israel from the land of Egypt, so does Jesus Christ redeems us from the slavery of sin and death by paying the ransom price of his lifeblood.
The care God shows for all his creation. God preserves our world, rescues His people, works for good, and controls history. Providence lets us trust and thank God.
God's acceptance of unacceptable people. Justification includes the forgiving of our sins and the adding to us of Jesus' righteousness.
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.
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.
The lifelong conversion by which Christians become gradually holier--that is, more like Jesus Christ. Sanctification is the solution to the problem of pollution. We want to live the life of holiness because of our desire for God, or gratitude to him, and our faith in him.
The church's teachings about God and our salvation, based on the Bible.
Covenant Promises
God's promises in the covenant of Grace is that he will love his people, protect them, and help them. God also promises to bless the whole world through His people.
The process by which Jesus Christ out right what sin put wrong. Christs' suffereing and death are atonement, a making amends, for sin.
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.
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.
Covenant Obligations
The duties God's people owe to God. These are especially obedience (because God is parent and King), trust (because God is Savior), and thanks (because God shows Grace).
Attributes of God
God's characteristics or qualities such as goodness and greatness. Describing God's attributes helps us understand, praise and imitate God.
Thr removal of the things that drag us 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.)
Greatness of God
An attribute of God meaning that God is awesome. God's greatness is the power behind his goodness.
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.
The Fall
The event in which our first parents disobey God and thus brought evil into the world.
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.
The pain and suffering that comes from sin; the fallout that come from the fall. Among the fallen world's miseries are disorders, estrangement, and death.
A sense of humiliation after sin. People who are ashamed feel as if they'd like tocrawl under something or have something or have some covering hide them from view. The fall brings shame into the human race.
Carefully organized, written statements of doctrine approved by the church.
The book that contains the writings or scriptures that Christians recognize as the written word of God.
The combination of sin and misery that we see in the world around us. Evil originated in the angel world but comes to us through the fall of Adam and Eve.
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.
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.
The seeping or flooding power of sin. Sin seeps into every part of human life, staining and spoiling thoughts, words, deeds, feelings, and inclinations.
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.
The event in which the eternal Son of God took on human flesh, which we celebrate at Christmas.
Sovereignty of God
The attributes of God which means that he is supreme and in control.
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 God says is written down in the Bible. That is why the Bible is sometimes called God's word. Everything important about God is "lived out" by His son, Jesus Christ. That is why he is sometimes called the Word of God.
The complete turning around of our lives. Repentance is like dying and then being born again.
The Old Testament sign and seal of the covenant of Grace.
What we have when we break God's law and deserve the laws of penalty. Guilt includes not only what we have when we do wrong, it also inludes what we have when we fail to do right. When we fail to go right, guilt is called debt.

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