About this Study

Words. Everyone knows they are powerful. In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, God speaks the world into existence. The apostle John calls Jesus “the Word” (Logos) through whom everything was made (John 1:1-3). Words can heal, hurt, encourage, dishearten, educate, and mislead. Certain words can help us understand the greatest story ever told: the Bible. Without a correct interpretation of the words in a text, we can read a story and know what happened but not accurately comprehend what it means. This is especially true when it comes to Scripture:

One of the most important tools essential for proper biblical interpretation, or indeed for the interpretation of any book at all, is to recognize that not all words are used exactly the same way in every instance. This principle is not difficult to master, because it is regularly and intuitively understood. When, for example, someone says “you can reach me on my cell,” we automatically choose the proper definition of the word “cell” from a list of various interpretive options. Since the context above is communication, not biology, or criminal justice, the reference to the word “cell” is correctly perceived to refer to a cell phone, rather than to a living biological cell, or to a prison cell. (Shane Rosenthal, “What Does It Mean to Be Good?”)

It is not enough to view a word in relationship to our personal interpretation of its meaning. We must look at the biblical author’s intended meaning to grasp the specific message of the text. In this study kit, we will look at five key biblical words that give us a deeper understanding of God’s love in his plan of redemption found only in Jesus Christ:

  • Peace
  • Law
  • Gospel
  • Justification
  • Sanctification

Why these five words? How do peace, law, gospel, justification, and sanctification relate to each other? First, when studied together, these words do an excellent job describing why people need peace with God (because of human rebellion against God), what has been done to achieve peace with God (Christ’s perfect obedience and sacrifice), and how Christians should now live because they have peace with God through faith in Christ (a life of gratitude as fellow heirs with Christ). Therefore, peace, law, gospel, justification, and sanctification describe humanity’s problem, God’s solution, and the happy result. Second, misunderstandings regarding the meaning of these five words have created significant confusion in the church.

By studying these five biblical words in context, Christians can have confidence that their salvation is dependent on Christ’s work and not their own. Because of that security, the believer can rejoice in the knowledge that the struggles of this life do not have the last word. Additionally, Christians can be confident that, along with their justification, the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in their lives is a fact and not merely a hopeful wish. Building an accurate biblical vocabulary strengthens the faith of Christians while equipping them to serve the Lord with joy and gratitude in their hearts for all he has done to save them.

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