Five Theological Words Your Students Should Know Before They Graduate

I have written before about the importance of teaching theology to your students. Moral lessons only stick if the students can understand the theological ‘why’ to their actions. We should teach our students biblical theology not to inflate their heads with big words. We teach students theology because the more we study about who God is and how he works, the greater our affections for him will be.

Biblical words are good. Instead of using analogies and illustrations, I try to teach my students the vocabulary the Bible uses or the vocabulary Biblical ideas mean. It makes preaching a lot easier in the long run when you can use one word to convey the thought you are trying to give. Before my students graduate I hope they learn and love the following five words. I hope they learn more than these words but if they get these down, they are on a good path.

Propitiation: God’s wrath is satisfied in the death of Christ.

Bible Verse: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10, ESV)

Why this word: When you say you are saved, you have to ask yourself, “What am I saved from?” Common answers from students will be anything from sin or ourselves to Satan or Hell. Though they aren’t wrong, God has rescued us from the Devil and our own sinfulness, the ultimate thing we are saved from is God himself. God is holy and must punish sin. Romans 1:18 tell us that, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” John 3:36 tells us that those who put not trust in Christ for their salvation  that ” the wrath of God remains on him.” Propitiation informs us that when Christ was on the cross he was taking the full cup of God’s wrath. This is why verses like Romans 5:9 is so encouraging: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Bonus: Now when your students sing ‘In Christ Alone’ and they say the line, “‘Til on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied” they know what that is, is propitiation.

Expiation: taking away guilt through the payment of a penalty or the offering of an atonement.

Bible Verse: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)

Why this word: In Leviticus 16 it talks about the Day of Atonement. In this ceremony there would be two goats. One goat would be sacrificed and the other goal would be sent out into the wilderness. The latter goat is called a scapegoat. This goat running into the wilderness represents the sins of the people being carried away from them. In the New Testament we see the crucifixion as the ultimate Day of Atonement. Christ took our sin from us. It was nailed to the cross with Jesus. Because Christ paid our debt, we are no longer guilty of sin and no longer deserving of God’s wrath. No longer does God see us as enemies but as friends. No longer are we “following the prince and power of the air.” We are now following God. No longer are we “children of wrath.” We are children of God. When God sees us, he sees Christ righteousness. When students understand that, they understand that God is not remembering our sin anymore. He doesn’t hold our past against us. He sees Christ saving work on the cross and accepts us.

Justification: To be declared righteous and made right with God. 

Bible Verse: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26, ESV)

Why this Word: We are declared righteous and are justified in a moment at salvation. Justification doesn’t make us righteous but rather declares us righteous. Because of Christ work on the cross and his righteous life. When we put our faith in Jesus, by grace, we are declared justified because of the perfect work and life of Christ. Justification helps us remember that it isn’t our works that save us. We couldn’t justify ourselves. I love what Ephesians 2:8-9 say: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So the very faith to believe is given to us by Christ. In other words, God gets all the glory, even in our salvation. God declares us justified because of Christ, therefore we can have access to the Father and worship and glorify him with our lives.

Sanctification: The ongoing work in the believer of God conforming us into the image of his son.

Bible Verse: And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10, ESV)

Why this word: Sanctification is the process of becoming Holy. It is a process of conforming in to the image of Christ. We are called to be holy in 1 Peter 1:15-16. We also know that we still live in the presence of sin and can still fail to be holy. God declared us holy though while we are still sinners because of the work of Christ. However, we are becoming holy as we grow in Christ. As we study God’s word, be in fellowship with other believers, and follow Christ, we gradually look more and more like Jesus. Sanctification is a process. Some move faster along than others. The promise we all have is that when we are in glory, the process is over and we are fully glorified, which is what we will talk about next. Students should understand this word because they learn that though they are called to be holy and separate from this world, it is God who works in and through them. This process takes time, a lifetime in fact. However, the good news is that all Christians will be fully sanctified when Christ returns.

Glorification: This is the future and final act by God when he removes all sin from believers and transforms our mortal bodies into eternal bodies that live forever in perfection.

Bible Verse: So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, ESV)

Why this word: This is the day we are all looking forward to. When all sin and death is gone and we will never feel pain or cry another tear. Glorification is the promise that when the years on this earth of suffering and persecution is over, we will stand before God with new bodies that never perish and the guarantee of a life not effected by sin. A life wear children don’t get cancer or people can hurt you because of their sin. Where I may or may not have a 6-pack. Romans 8:18 demonstrates why this word is so great for us. When we think of ourselves in the glorified state, we look at the present sufferings and we realize we can’t even compare it to what life will be like then. Students must learn this work because glorification gives us hope. It helps us put our suffering and the effects of sin in this world in perspective. This life will be hard, but life in eternity when we are glorified will be amazing! This is good news!

There are other words I could add to this list: Adoption, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and I would even throw in the idea of Election as a key theme and idea that students should learn. What are some key theological ideas and phrases you hope your students know before they graduate? 

Five Theological Words Your Students Should Know Before They Graduate

I have written before about the importance of teaching theology to your students. Moral lessons only stick if the students can understand the theological ‘why’ to their actions. We should teach our students biblical theology not to inflate their heads with big words. We teach students theology because the more we study about who God is and how he works, the greater our affections for him will be.

Biblical words are good. Instead of using analogies and illustrations, I try to teach my students the vocabulary the Bible uses or the vocabulary Biblical ideas mean. It makes preaching a lot easier in the long run when you can use one word to convey the thought you are trying to give. Before my students graduate I hope they learn and love the following five words. I hope they learn more than these words but if they get these down, they are on a good path.

Propitiation: God’s wrath is satisfied in the death of Christ.

Bible Verse: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10, ESV)

Why this word: When you say you are saved, you have to ask yourself, “What am I saved from?” Common answers from students will be anything from sin or ourselves to Satan or Hell. Though they aren’t wrong, God has rescued us from the Devil and our own sinfulness, the ultimate thing we are saved from is God himself. God is holy and must punish sin. Romans 1:18 tell us that, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” John 3:36 tells us that those who put not trust in Christ for their salvation  that ” the wrath of God remains on him.” Propitiation informs us that when Christ was on the cross he was taking the full cup of God’s wrath. This is why verses like Romans 5:9 is so encouraging: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Bonus: Now when your students sing ‘In Christ Alone’ and they say the line, “‘Til on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied” they know what that is, is propitiation.

Expiation: taking away guilt through the payment of a penalty or the offering of an atonement.

Bible Verse: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)

Why this word: In Leviticus 16 it talks about the Day of Atonement. In this ceremony there would be two goats. One goat would be sacrificed and the other goal would be sent out into the wilderness. The latter goat is called a scapegoat. This goat running into the wilderness represents the sins of the people being carried away from them. In the New Testament we see the crucifixion as the ultimate Day of Atonement. Christ took our sin from us. It was nailed to the cross with Jesus. Because Christ paid our debt, we are no longer guilty of sin and no longer deserving of God’s wrath. No longer does God see us as enemies but as friends. No longer are we “following the prince and power of the air.” We are now following God. No longer are we “children of wrath.” We are children of God. When God sees us, he sees Christ righteousness. When students understand that, they understand that God is not remembering our sin anymore. He doesn’t hold our past against us. He sees Christ saving work on the cross and accepts us.

Justification: To be declared righteous and made right with God. 

Bible Verse: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26, ESV)

Why this Word: We are declared righteous and are justified in a moment at salvation. Justification doesn’t make us righteous but rather declares us righteous. Because of Christ work on the cross and his righteous life. When we put our faith in Jesus, by grace, we are declared justified because of the perfect work and life of Christ. Justification helps us remember that it isn’t our works that save us. We couldn’t justify ourselves. I love what Ephesians 2:8-9 say: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So the very faith to believe is given to us by Christ. In other words, God gets all the glory, even in our salvation. God declares us justified because of Christ, therefore we can have access to the Father and worship and glorify him with our lives.

Sanctification: The ongoing work in the believer of God conforming us into the image of his son.

Bible Verse: And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10, ESV)

Why this word: Sanctification is the process of becoming Holy. It is a process of conforming in to the image of Christ. We are called to be holy in 1 Peter 1:15-16. We also know that we still live in the presence of sin and can still fail to be holy. God declared us holy though while we are still sinners because of the work of Christ. However, we are becoming holy as we grow in Christ. As we study God’s word, be in fellowship with other believers, and follow Christ, we gradually look more and more like Jesus. Sanctification is a process. Some move faster along than others. The promise we all have is that when we are in glory, the process is over and we are fully glorified, which is what we will talk about next. Students should understand this word because they learn that though they are called to be holy and separate from this world, it is God who works in and through them. This process takes time, a lifetime in fact. However, the good news is that all Christians will be fully sanctified when Christ returns.

Glorification: This is the future and final act by God when he removes all sin from believers and transforms our mortal bodies into eternal bodies that live forever in perfection.

Bible Verse: So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, ESV)

Why this word: This is the day we are all looking forward to. When all sin and death is gone and we will never feel pain or cry another tear. Glorification is the promise that when the years on this earth of suffering and persecution is over, we will stand before God with new bodies that never perish and the guarantee of a life not effected by sin. A life wear children don’t get cancer or people can hurt you because of their sin. Where I may or may not have a 6-pack. Romans 8:18 demonstrates why this word is so great for us. When we think of ourselves in the glorified state, we look at the present sufferings and we realize we can’t even compare it to what life will be like then. Students must learn this work because glorification gives us hope. It helps us put our suffering and the effects of sin in this world in perspective. This life will be hard, but life in eternity when we are glorified will be amazing! This is good news!

There are other words I could add to this list: Adoption, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and I would even throw in the idea of Election as a key theme and idea that students should learn. What are some key theological ideas and phrases you hope your students know before they graduate? 

The Gospel Conclusion and Implications

This is Part 5 of a series on Gospel and Students.

Here’s a rundown of where we’ve been so far!

In this post, we’ll take a look at the six characteristics and give a brief overview of what I believe students need to know! Before we do that, here is a summary statement of what I believe defines the Gospel…

The gospel is the transformative news that by God’s grace alone, through faith, our open rebellion is atoned for in the cross of Christ. As Christ willingly sacrificed His life and took the punishment we earned, our sins are justified, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, and God’s wrath is satisfied, so that all things might be reconciled to the Creator. 

 


 

WHY THE GOSPEL?

I think it’s important for students to know and understand why it is we need the Gospel.  Especially in the “first world” countries, a lot of our students see no need for anything billed in the same way “self help” books are promoted. Our culture says to bootstrap it! Pick yourself up! Take care of business! Fix your own problems! Be the hero!

Our students need to know that their choices have implications and consequences.  They also need to know that God, by his nature, cannot just look the other way.  The common analogy I’ve started using is this: Imagine there’s a judge presiding over a case where the defendant has tortured and murdered an entire family, leaving only one child alive. If that judge were to say, “Do you promise to do better next time?  Okay, you’re free to go,” that judge would NOT be just, fair, righteous, or worthy of praise.  That’s what a lot of people think God does, “Oh, just try harder.”  Our actions have consequences. We may not like it, but they do.

THE GOSPEL CENTERS ON THE CROSS

It all comes back to this.  As pastors, we know this. But think about the past 6 months of your preaching and/or lessons…how many of them pointed to the work of the cross?  It’s central to everything we believe, and without it, there is no hope.  It’s too easy for students to think, as one of mine voiced last semester, “Jesus died on the cross because no one believed him and they had to get rid of him because he was bugging them.”  Hearing that out of a student, even a fringe student like the one who said that, cuts at my core. We need to help students realize the centrality of the Cross.

 

THE GOSPEL TRANSFORMS

Our students, whether they realize it or not, are beyond broken.  They try and put up a good front, but it’s one that cannot be sustained and cannot withhold in the chaos of life.  Often, I find students think that the Gospel assists them as they go through life trying to be better, the Gospel encourages them to be better people, or the Gospel makes sure they don’t go to hell.  Students need to know they gain a new identity because of Jesus.

I’ve preached this illustration several times.  I take a mug and explain how the mug is designed with a purpose (keep my coffee hot, keep my hand less hot), just like we are.  Then, I smash that joker with a hammer. I show what it’s like to try and hold the shattered pieces together to accomplish it’s original look and purpose.  Even as I try and hold it together, I know that if coffee were to be poured in, it’s useless. And if I flinch, I could cut myself and it would fall apart. It just won’t work.  Students, in that illustration, would often see God as a giant Gorilla Glue Dispenser, coming in, piecing things together, hoping you can hold it in place long enough to fix.  In reality, as I pull out a brand new mug, I tell them that God recreates them in a way we never could imagine.  

Sure the illustration breaks down, but it’s a visual reminder that they are transformed, not just reassembled.

 THE GOSPEL JUSTIFIES AND ATONES FOR SIN

As we’ve said throughout this series, sin must be paid. It is not a debt ignored or a blemish covered.  When students start to process the holiness of God and the wretchedness of their life, pray that they would realize the weight of their decisions and, even more importantly, the gift of Jesus.  With this, I usually use an example of a credit card to open up the concept, even though it runs far deeper.

 THE GOSPEL IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS

Not only does God take away the sin we earned, he gives us the holiness he earned.  As a part of the transformation, the identity and holiness and righteousness of Christ literally becomes a descriptor of us, through Christ.  For this, I often describe wearing dirty clothes, having filthy clothes, and running through mud.  This means I can’t be clean. It’s forever-mud.  Christ comes, takes off our clothes covered in sin and filth and dirt, and gives us his mantle of righteousness. The result? When God looks at Jesus, he saw all of the bad things we’ve ever done.  When God looks at us, he sees a perfect and holy child of God.  This wasn’t some super-secret trick…it was what God CHOSE to do so that we could be with him.

 THE GOSPEL IS NOT EARNED

Whether you are Calvinist, Armenian, a mix, or even both, the Gospel, and really salvation, is not earned. Our students need to know that their status with God does not elevate their status among their peers. They’ve been fortunate enough to have an unpayable debt paid, which should drive them to worship and holiness.  I tell students that SINCE our debt is paid, we serve Him, worship Him, and want to know Him.  It’s not earned, but that also means it’s not revoked.

 THE GOSPEL RECONCILES CREATION

As a part of salvation, we are reconciled, or brought back together, in relationships that have been damaged.  We don’t have time here to unpack all of that, but I would strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of When Helping Hurts. They do a great job of going through those relationships, and their impact on the world.

 


 

 CONCLUSION

The story of Scripture is the story of God seeking a relationship with people seeking themselves. There seems, at first, a predicament. God is righteous and cannot be near sin, while at the same time, God is loving and desperately wants His people. As the transformation occurs through the justification, atonement, and imputed righteousness, God is able to uphold both righteousness and love. No longer is there a chasm dividing Creator and His beloved creation. God does not have to sacrifice His righteousness; sin is punished. He does not have to sacrifice His love; relationships are reconciled and returned to the manner in which they were designed and created. Humankind is counted with the righteousness of Christ, allowing for the relationship to be restored.

The Gospel is a message of hope and grace to people often ignorant of the need’s very existence. In the beginning, humankind broke the world. From that moment forward, God adamantly chases His people but cannot sacrifice His character. As a result, we come to a beautiful, refreshing, nonsensical message that our debt is paid. Often, students of the Bible want to dive into the Word and go deep. After “grasping” the Gospel, they want to go deeper. However, there is nothing deeper, nothing more impacting, nothing more profound than the message of the Gospel.

 

Perhaps the heart of the message can be felt in the words of the hymn writer William Rees as he writes:

On the mount of crucifixion fountains opened deep and wide, through the floodgates of God’s mercy flowed a vast and gracious tide. Grace and love, like mighty rivers poured incessant from above, and Heaven’s peace and perfect justice kissed a guilty world in love.

 

 This series has ONE MORE post, giving you the implications of the Gospel on baptism and how I walk through the significance of that moment with students.

The Gospel Conclusion and Implications

This is Part 5 of a series on Gospel and Students.

Here’s a rundown of where we’ve been so far!

In this post, we’ll take a look at the six characteristics and give a brief overview of what I believe students need to know! Before we do that, here is a summary statement of what I believe defines the Gospel…

The gospel is the transformative news that by God’s grace alone, through faith, our open rebellion is atoned for in the cross of Christ. As Christ willingly sacrificed His life and took the punishment we earned, our sins are justified, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, and God’s wrath is satisfied, so that all things might be reconciled to the Creator. 

 


 

WHY THE GOSPEL?

I think it’s important for students to know and understand why it is we need the Gospel.  Especially in the “first world” countries, a lot of our students see no need for anything billed in the same way “self help” books are promoted. Our culture says to bootstrap it! Pick yourself up! Take care of business! Fix your own problems! Be the hero!

Our students need to know that their choices have implications and consequences.  They also need to know that God, by his nature, cannot just look the other way.  The common analogy I’ve started using is this: Imagine there’s a judge presiding over a case where the defendant has tortured and murdered an entire family, leaving only one child alive. If that judge were to say, “Do you promise to do better next time?  Okay, you’re free to go,” that judge would NOT be just, fair, righteous, or worthy of praise.  That’s what a lot of people think God does, “Oh, just try harder.”  Our actions have consequences. We may not like it, but they do.

THE GOSPEL CENTERS ON THE CROSS

It all comes back to this.  As pastors, we know this. But think about the past 6 months of your preaching and/or lessons…how many of them pointed to the work of the cross?  It’s central to everything we believe, and without it, there is no hope.  It’s too easy for students to think, as one of mine voiced last semester, “Jesus died on the cross because no one believed him and they had to get rid of him because he was bugging them.”  Hearing that out of a student, even a fringe student like the one who said that, cuts at my core. We need to help students realize the centrality of the Cross.

 

THE GOSPEL TRANSFORMS

Our students, whether they realize it or not, are beyond broken.  They try and put up a good front, but it’s one that cannot be sustained and cannot withhold in the chaos of life.  Often, I find students think that the Gospel assists them as they go through life trying to be better, the Gospel encourages them to be better people, or the Gospel makes sure they don’t go to hell.  Students need to know they gain a new identity because of Jesus.

I’ve preached this illustration several times.  I take a mug and explain how the mug is designed with a purpose (keep my coffee hot, keep my hand less hot), just like we are.  Then, I smash that joker with a hammer. I show what it’s like to try and hold the shattered pieces together to accomplish it’s original look and purpose.  Even as I try and hold it together, I know that if coffee were to be poured in, it’s useless. And if I flinch, I could cut myself and it would fall apart. It just won’t work.  Students, in that illustration, would often see God as a giant Gorilla Glue Dispenser, coming in, piecing things together, hoping you can hold it in place long enough to fix.  In reality, as I pull out a brand new mug, I tell them that God recreates them in a way we never could imagine.  

Sure the illustration breaks down, but it’s a visual reminder that they are transformed, not just reassembled.

 THE GOSPEL JUSTIFIES AND ATONES FOR SIN

As we’ve said throughout this series, sin must be paid. It is not a debt ignored or a blemish covered.  When students start to process the holiness of God and the wretchedness of their life, pray that they would realize the weight of their decisions and, even more importantly, the gift of Jesus.  With this, I usually use an example of a credit card to open up the concept, even though it runs far deeper.

 THE GOSPEL IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS

Not only does God take away the sin we earned, he gives us the holiness he earned.  As a part of the transformation, the identity and holiness and righteousness of Christ literally becomes a descriptor of us, through Christ.  For this, I often describe wearing dirty clothes, having filthy clothes, and running through mud.  This means I can’t be clean. It’s forever-mud.  Christ comes, takes off our clothes covered in sin and filth and dirt, and gives us his mantle of righteousness. The result? When God looks at Jesus, he saw all of the bad things we’ve ever done.  When God looks at us, he sees a perfect and holy child of God.  This wasn’t some super-secret trick…it was what God CHOSE to do so that we could be with him.

 THE GOSPEL IS NOT EARNED

Whether you are Calvinist, Armenian, a mix, or even both, the Gospel, and really salvation, is not earned. Our students need to know that their status with God does not elevate their status among their peers. They’ve been fortunate enough to have an unpayable debt paid, which should drive them to worship and holiness.  I tell students that SINCE our debt is paid, we serve Him, worship Him, and want to know Him.  It’s not earned, but that also means it’s not revoked.

 THE GOSPEL RECONCILES CREATION

As a part of salvation, we are reconciled, or brought back together, in relationships that have been damaged.  We don’t have time here to unpack all of that, but I would strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of When Helping Hurts. They do a great job of going through those relationships, and their impact on the world.

 


 

 CONCLUSION

The story of Scripture is the story of God seeking a relationship with people seeking themselves. There seems, at first, a predicament. God is righteous and cannot be near sin, while at the same time, God is loving and desperately wants His people. As the transformation occurs through the justification, atonement, and imputed righteousness, God is able to uphold both righteousness and love. No longer is there a chasm dividing Creator and His beloved creation. God does not have to sacrifice His righteousness; sin is punished. He does not have to sacrifice His love; relationships are reconciled and returned to the manner in which they were designed and created. Humankind is counted with the righteousness of Christ, allowing for the relationship to be restored.

The Gospel is a message of hope and grace to people often ignorant of the need’s very existence. In the beginning, humankind broke the world. From that moment forward, God adamantly chases His people but cannot sacrifice His character. As a result, we come to a beautiful, refreshing, nonsensical message that our debt is paid. Often, students of the Bible want to dive into the Word and go deep. After “grasping” the Gospel, they want to go deeper. However, there is nothing deeper, nothing more impacting, nothing more profound than the message of the Gospel.

 

Perhaps the heart of the message can be felt in the words of the hymn writer William Rees as he writes:

On the mount of crucifixion fountains opened deep and wide, through the floodgates of God’s mercy flowed a vast and gracious tide. Grace and love, like mighty rivers poured incessant from above, and Heaven’s peace and perfect justice kissed a guilty world in love.

 

 This series has ONE MORE post, giving you the implications of the Gospel on baptism and how I walk through the significance of that moment with students.

The Gospel and Youth Ministry | Part 4

Here’s a rundown of where we’ve been so far!

In this post, we’ll finish up the other three key factors of the Gospel message…here we go!

 

THE GOSPEL IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS.

As we said last post, the Gospel justifies and atones for sin.  The other half of the interaction that leads to humanity’s transformation is that the righteousness of Christ being imputed to those who believe. The term imputed means given into one’s identity. It is not merely that the righteousness of Christ covers or influences those who believe, but through the union with Christ, it becomes an identity marker of those who believe. Believers are, as Paul tells the church in Corinth, “in” Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:30). Salvation for believers comes through having our sins justified, but equally through unity with Christ. The gift of salvation is in and of itself the gift of Christ and unity with Him. The union created through salvation is the substance of salvation. As mentioned before, the Gospel message gives the promise that believers become a new creation. A believer unites with Christ and the sin receives atonement (when the sin rightly attributed to humankind is attributed to and paid for by Christ), and at the same time, the sinner receives the righteousness only rightly attributed to Jesus Christ (Phil 3:9).

 

THE GOSPEL IS NOT EARNED.

The message of the Gospel is not hope attributed to individuals on the basis of merit. It is, by definition, a gift of grace (Eph 2:8-9). Humankind has a propensity and inner desire to attempt to earn or deserve salvation; grace does not come naturally. However, Scripture is clear that the hope found in the Gospel comes through faith alone, not by human effort (Gal 2:15-16, Rom 8:3-4). Should the fruit of the Gospel be attainable by human effort, that would leave room for pride, arrogance, and boasting to grow. However, as it is void of human effort or initiation, it is also void of human glory (Rom 5:1-2, Gal 6:13-14).

 

THE GOSPEL RECONCILES CREATION.

Genesis 3 presents the fundamental problem of broken relationships as a direct result of humankind’s willing and open rebellion against God.

  • Genesis 3:7 // Broken relationships with man and self.
  • Genesis 3:8-10 // Broken relationships with man and God.
  • Genesis 3:12 // Broken relationships with man and others.
  • Genesis 3:17 // Broken relationships with man and nature.

Though nature is still functioning in open rebellion, the message of the Gospel is that God lays down the life of His son in order to reconcile, or make right, His relationship with humankind (Rom 5:10-11). Through His death, humankind’s justification, and His righteousness, believers are able to be presented before the divine God, His wrath abated, as holy and blameless (Col 1:21-22). Not only is humankind reconciled, reconciliation is found in relation to creation as well, as it longs to be restored through the hope of Christ (Rom 8:20-22).

 

In the next post in this series, we’ll tie all the factors together that define the Gospel and talk about the implications on our students and our ministries.  In the final post, we’ll look at how the Gospel, Baptism, and our students interact.

The Gospel and Youth Ministry | Part 4

Here’s a rundown of where we’ve been so far!

In this post, we’ll finish up the other three key factors of the Gospel message…here we go!

 

THE GOSPEL IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS.

As we said last post, the Gospel justifies and atones for sin.  The other half of the interaction that leads to humanity’s transformation is that the righteousness of Christ being imputed to those who believe. The term imputed means given into one’s identity. It is not merely that the righteousness of Christ covers or influences those who believe, but through the union with Christ, it becomes an identity marker of those who believe. Believers are, as Paul tells the church in Corinth, “in” Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:30). Salvation for believers comes through having our sins justified, but equally through unity with Christ. The gift of salvation is in and of itself the gift of Christ and unity with Him. The union created through salvation is the substance of salvation. As mentioned before, the Gospel message gives the promise that believers become a new creation. A believer unites with Christ and the sin receives atonement (when the sin rightly attributed to humankind is attributed to and paid for by Christ), and at the same time, the sinner receives the righteousness only rightly attributed to Jesus Christ (Phil 3:9).

 

THE GOSPEL IS NOT EARNED.

The message of the Gospel is not hope attributed to individuals on the basis of merit. It is, by definition, a gift of grace (Eph 2:8-9). Humankind has a propensity and inner desire to attempt to earn or deserve salvation; grace does not come naturally. However, Scripture is clear that the hope found in the Gospel comes through faith alone, not by human effort (Gal 2:15-16, Rom 8:3-4). Should the fruit of the Gospel be attainable by human effort, that would leave room for pride, arrogance, and boasting to grow. However, as it is void of human effort or initiation, it is also void of human glory (Rom 5:1-2, Gal 6:13-14).

 

THE GOSPEL RECONCILES CREATION.

Genesis 3 presents the fundamental problem of broken relationships as a direct result of humankind’s willing and open rebellion against God.

  • Genesis 3:7 // Broken relationships with man and self.
  • Genesis 3:8-10 // Broken relationships with man and God.
  • Genesis 3:12 // Broken relationships with man and others.
  • Genesis 3:17 // Broken relationships with man and nature.

Though nature is still functioning in open rebellion, the message of the Gospel is that God lays down the life of His son in order to reconcile, or make right, His relationship with humankind (Rom 5:10-11). Through His death, humankind’s justification, and His righteousness, believers are able to be presented before the divine God, His wrath abated, as holy and blameless (Col 1:21-22). Not only is humankind reconciled, reconciliation is found in relation to creation as well, as it longs to be restored through the hope of Christ (Rom 8:20-22).

 

In the next post in this series, we’ll tie all the factors together that define the Gospel and talk about the implications on our students and our ministries.  In the final post, we’ll look at how the Gospel, Baptism, and our students interact.