The Evangelist’s Vocabulary: Talking the Walk
Although some of the words used in relation to the gospel are out of date, their meanings are up to date. When we witness it is more meaningful to the hearer if we use simple words to explain the gospel. Some people have never heard the gospel. Keep it simple when you share what it means to be saved with others.
Below are some of the key words used in gospel language. Learning what these words actually mean will help us not only share the gospel in simple terms, it will also aid us in understanding the gospel for our own walk and growth in the Lord.
To turn around, to go in the opposite direction, to change your mind.
How many of us have the notion that when someone repents, such signs as crying, tears, going to an altar, weeping for hours before God, sadness, guilt, and remorse must be present and are all signs of a repentant heart? All of these emotions can be present when repentance is effected, but so might joy and relief, happiness and laughter be affected.
However, none of these emotions will affect repentance in the inquirer. Both Judas and Esau wept when they discovered they had lost, yet, they could find no place of repentance. A person can exhibit many outward signs that appear to match the occasion. Psalm 78 says that when someone’s Spirit is not right within them, they lie to God with their lips. People can pray beautiful, flowery, prayers to God and not intend to change their ways. The words can sound right, but the heart is far from God.
Repentance means a change of mind. When one believes, they turn from darkness to light, and have, therefore, changed their mind. When this turning takes place, repentance is effected. When I speak to unbelievers and they say they cannot believe in God, I tell them, ‘then change your mind about the way you think about God’. That is repentance.
Repentance is effective when we believe. You were heading in one direction, towards darkness, you were walking in darkness, and your soul was lost. Then you believed. You placed your trust and confidence in Jesus and in that believing you turned around, you changed your mind. Paul in 1Thess 1: 9-10 ‘For they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
And the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord (Acts 11:21).
The Gospel of John was written that man might be saved and it does not use the word repent at all in any form. The book of Romans, which unfolds the whole doctrine of salvation, does not once condition salvation upon repentance. Repentance means a change of mind.
Salvation brings us into a relationship with God through the simple act of believing. That means to be persuaded, to place our full trust, our confidence in God, relying upon the finished work of the cross as sufficient to save us from the law of sin and death. It is interesting that the word ‘believe’ is used ten times in Matthew and Mark and 9 times in Luke. In the gospel of John it is used ninety nine times.
Other words are used also, the words, agree, assume, obey, persuade, trust, and yield. Does confessing or believing save the lost, and are the believing restored by confessing and repenting?
Salvation comes simply by believing, placing one’s full trust and confidence in Jesus Christ and the finished work on the cross 2000 years ago as the only means of salvation.
To have been set free or loosed by a price that the judge has paid
We are redeemed by blood alone. Imagine a judge in a court case taking upon them self the sentence! This shows us the mercy, the grace of God in action. The Scripture says, even so might, the grace of God (that is the merciful, justifying grace of God) reign through righteousness’; reign through his justice unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Full redemption has been paid by ‘blood alone’. Leviticus 17:11 says it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life, because the life is in the blood’. Humanity forfeited their lives because of sin; God has provided the one and only way for eternal life to be given. The Scripture reveals that this is entirely God’s solution. The human race was without strength. Religion (from the root word meaning ‘to bind upon’ illustrates people turn to their own ways of salvation by asserting their own self-righteousness and self-justification by following laws and regulations.
The POWER OF THE BLOOD
Because the life is in the blood.
However, redemption is not only by blood, but also by God’s power (ability). We were slaves to sin, a law that was at work in our bodily members and Christ has paid the price for us; we are no longer judged because of this payment to God – Jesus own blood – by his blood. His dying in our stead redeemed us from off the slave block.
However, it is not enough; we also needed to be taken out of the slaves’ position and set free. Whilst we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Rom 5:8). The price that Christ paid, his death, has set us free from sin and the condemnation of sin found in the law. We are set free by a higher law coming into power in our lives, and the mighty indwelling power of the Holy Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death by the higher heavenly law of love. Praise God!
That is why we can receive and experience forgiveness and release from guilt. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the Living God. The power of the blood washes away all guilt. (I Jn 1:9-11) He not only forgives us, but cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Forgiveness is individual and it is made possible through the blood.
‘Set apart for holy use’
We are transformed and sanctified, that means separated, by the power of the Spirit. The work of sanctification is two-fold. In the first instance, when we are born again, the separation is instantaneous; we are transformed and transferred into the life of Christ and His kingdom (the household of God, or the household of faith), as we obediently walk in the light of the Scriptures.
As we come through the waters of baptism and through prayer and being washed by the Word, we are daily filled with the Holy Spirit, and as we walk after the Spirit. Herein, we seek to know God and to live for eternity. We are separated to God from evil things and evil ways.
The Holy Spirit is God’s agent in sanctifying us (Rom 15:16), ‘to bring about holy character in our lives’. The believer is responsible to pursue a daily process earnestly. It is not vicarious and cannot be transferred; it is an individual position built up, day by day, because of obedience to God’s Word, and love for God and God’s people.
A PROPITIATION FOR OUR SINS
A meeting place where sinners can come to meet with God; OT-‘Mercy seat’’
Jesus Christ is our propitiation, our mercy seat, meaning, our ‘meeting place’ with a Holy God, God’s provision for the human race. The mercy seat, in the Old Testament Tabernacle, covered the broken law; it was sprinkled with blood, showing God’s mercy. The cherubim enfolded it, gazing down upon it in holy awe. Here, at this sweet meeting place, a divine and Holy God can meet with a sinful man or woman who. judgment, fear or dread, can come and talk to their heavenly parent.
This mercy seat is a beautiful picture of the lovely Jesus, our propitiation. We are justified, pronounced righteous. We are acquitted from guilt, as we trust in Jesus as our only means of salvation: God freely justifies us. God has made this wonderful declaration on the sinner’s acceptance of Christ by faith. The evangelist has to have a firm understanding of the message. It must be clearly fixed in our own hearts and minds before we can fully share it with others. The inquirer, to be at peace with God, must understand the whole beautiful plan of salvation.
It is a gift: it is free. You cannot work to receive it. Grace means ‘Unmerited favour’, favour that is undeserved.
We only need to be willing to come to Jesus, just as we are, to receive Christ. This is the grace of God the unmerited favour. Not that we are worthy, not by works, lest anyone boast. Not by any works that we have done, but by His precious blood, He has saved us. God has redeemed us, God has justified us, God has declared us righteous, and now, because of what Jesus has done on our behalf, we can meet with God. Jesus is our propitiation, our mercy seat.
How will they hear unless there is a preacher to tell them? How will the preacher go unless the people of God send them? (Rom 10:14). Yield your heart and your life to God in a fresh way. Tell God that you are willing to go wherever he may lead you, to obey the great commission. Teach the new believer also. This gospel of peace with God was in the heart of God right at the beginning.
‘Physically saved from danger’. Spiritual salvation (in Paul’s writings) is a future term
Another word used to explain the work of Christ on our behalf is the word ‘salvation’. Someone might say to another, ‘are you saved’? The Greek word for salvation is sozo [to save], soteria [salvation], soter [saviour], soterios [saving]. In the natural sense, it means the saving of physical lives from acute danger.
In the theological sense, for example, where Jesus healed people, the word, sozo occurs sixteen times. Often faith is said to have saved, and the reference is to the whole person. Clearly then the salvation God offers extends to our physical bodies and beyond. Hence Jesus can tell a certain woman that her faith has saved her (Lk 7:50).
John the Baptist uses this word ‘sozo’, in reference to the remission of sins. Jesus’ name gives a similar link here; his name means saviour ‘soter’. Being saved is equivalent to entering the kingdom or entering God’s household of faith, wherein dwells righteousness resulting in eternal life (Mk 10.26).
Paul limits his teachings to saving or inheriting eternal life, limiting this group of words to relationship with God. What is saved is the whole person (‘pneuma’). Unlike justification, or remission of sins, or reconciliation, salvation, in Paul’s writings, is a future term (1 Cor 3:15; 5:5 etc).
Let us take the simple message of the Gospel. Tell them to believe, to trust in and rely on, and to adhere to the Lord Jesus Christ. Share the message with them, explain, in your own ‘easy to understand’ language, what Christ did at the cross and invite them, as their only means of salvation, to welcome Jesus and receive Holy Spirit. Through the mighty transforming power of the indwelling Spirit, which is by the power of God through faith, they will become a new creation and experience the new birth,
It is important that as workers, we do not raise any false issues or make any unscriptural demands of the unbeliever. Remember to work with the Holy Spirit, whose work is found in John 16. The Holy Spirit is convincing them of sin, righteousness, and judgment. It is only by grace through the indwelling Spirit’s power that we are able to live the Christian life.
The only one able, to declare the guilty innocent, is God, the righteous judge. Jesus is our mercy seat or the meeting place between a sinful person and a holy God. We are able to meet God, through Christ, without condemnation, through faith in Jesus’ blood, which declares God’s righteousness. The righteousness of Christ has been declared instead of our unrighteousness, for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God
to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just (Rom 3:26).
God’s grace desired that we be declared righteous. However, this right standing, this position could not be granted because of our sin. Jesus, therefore, took our place, paid the price, (the wages of sin is death), dying in our stead. In so doing, He becomes the justifier of all them which believe in Jesus. Only one judge had the right and the power to justify us, and that judge is God.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No: but by the law of faith (Rom 3:27).
Boasting is the natural outcome of self-righteousness or acquiring righteousness on your own merit. This is fair and just. Therefore, for this to be excluded, boasting must not find a place to stand. Instead, a higher law would have to be submitted to override it. Therefore, the law of faith supersedes works and any boasting or merit on our part.
The SACRIFICAL LAWS OF GOD
‘Attempting to find justification through works in order to please God’
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith (Rom 3:28-30)
God is not a megalomaniac, wanting to be a benefactor to lord it over us. Instead of saying, ‘look what I have done for you ‘, which then requires some kind of debt, God wanted to be gracious to all and not to exclude any from this righteousness. God deemed it would be available to all that would simply believe. This graciousness on God’s part, could then include us gentiles who did not have Israel’s sacrificial laws.
Jesus cried out on the cross, “it is finished!”. What he meant by this is that the sacrificial laws no longer have to be carried out day after day, year in year out. Now we can come to God in a new and living way. Jesus is our Mercy Seat, our meeting place with God. His blood cries out mercy on our behalf. All of the laws have been fulfilled.
The Ten Commandments
‘The law is perfect, converting the soul’
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law (Rom 3:31).
The law is good, perfect, and just. However, with the law comes the knowledge of sin. A guilty conscience was and is the result. Now, where there is guilt, there can be no friendship. Now that we have been declared righteous by our faith in the atoning work of Christ through his death and resurrection, no one can bring a charge against us. The believers are called ‘the elect of God’ (Gr. lectos, chosen, selected).
Now there is a new law, that where it is kept fulfils all of the law. The new law is love. Love lifts us and all those whom we meet. When we are walk towards others, in love, we live on a higher plane than keeping laws, hoping we are good enough, can ever achieve. Love fulfils the whole law. We are to walk in love. There is no law against love.
Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:30-35).
We are saved through faith alone.
Love in Jesus