Know Your Theological Terms

I shared these helpful memory devices this morning, and perhaps they will be helpful to you as well. Some of the terms theologians use can be somewhat confusing, perhaps just because the words look so big! But the nice thing about the big words, they come from much smaller root words.

In these instances, these are just a different way of stating the big words, to help you remember the importance of their definitions.

Justification = just-as-if I had never sinned. When your sins have been forgiven, you appear to God just as if you had never sinned, so you have been justified by your faith (see Romans 3:22-24).

Atonement = at one-ment with Jesus. Christ said that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one could come into the Father’s presence except through Jesus. So atonement makes at one-ment with Jesus, which allows us to enter into God’s presence (see Romans 3:25).

Sanctification = saint-ification. The Holy Spirit begins a process in our lives where He is forming us into saints. Whereas justification and atonement are one-time events, sanctification is an ongoing process that is conforming us more and more into the image of Jesus (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

I hope this helps you understand and apply these terms.

15 Responses to “Know Your Theological Terms”

  1. Thursdays With Spurgeon—Talking Back To Your Old Family | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] Second, we need to talk back to our old nature. After being adopted into God’s family, the Holy Spirit undertakes a process to conform us to the image of Jesus. This process is called sanctification, but I like to call it saint-ification.  […]


  2. Confirmation Of The Baptism In The Holy Spirit | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] evidence—I would sum this up in the word sanctification (or as I like to remember it by saying “saint-ification”). This is the lifestyle change, the empowered living, and even the miraculous that cannot be […]


  3. Maturing Reactions | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] from our sin by God we are alive. At that moment of salvation, we stand before Almighty God justified—just as if I’d never sinned. That is irrevocable: God will never go back on that, we will never slip away from His grace. But […]


  4. Ordinances Of The Church | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] baptism is a one-time event, just as our justification (“just as if I’d never sinned”) is a one-time event. This looks back to what Jesus did on the […]


  5. Craig T. Owens Says:

    Charles Spurgeon has some good insight for us on these theological terms:

    “In vain do men pretend to be consecrated to God before they are called of God’s Spirit. Such have yet to be taught that no strength of nature can suffice to serve the Lord aright. They must learn, you must be born again, for assuredly until men are brought into spiritual life by effectual calling of the Holy Spirit, all the talk about serving God may be answered in the words of Joshua, ‘You cannot serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:19). I speak of consecration, but it is not as a first thing, not even as a second thing, for a man must be justified by faith in Christ Jesus or he will not possess the divine grace that is the root of all true sanctity.
    “Sanctification grows out of faith in Jesus Christ. Remember, holiness is a flower, not a root. It is not sanctification that saves but salvation that sanctifies. A man is not saved by his holiness. He becomes holy because he is already saved. Being justified by faith, and having peace with God, he walks no longer after the flesh but after the Spirit. And in the power of the blessing that he has received by grace, he dedicates himself to the service of his gracious God.” —Charles Spurgeon


  6. Thursdays With Spurgeon—Love So Amazing | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] took your penalty, He paid the price for your sin! The moment you believe that, you are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. So now when the Holy God looks at you, He says, “You look like My Son. I love to bless My Son. I […]


  7. Thursdays With Oswald—Not To Tell Us, But To Make Us | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] if I try to be perfectly righteous on my own. But the death and resurrection of Jesus paid for my atonement—my “at one-ment” with God. And Jesus has also asked the Father to send me the Holy Spirit. He […]


  8. Thursdays With Oswald—A Moral Lavatory | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] as a pastor who teaches about the atonement and grace. I know that I will have to give account before God if the people who hear me teach about […]


  9. Keep On Asking | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] Holy Spirit makes all of our lives a work-in-progress. This is what is called sanctification. That word really means to make a saint out of us (think of it as […]


  10. The Gift Preached To The World | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] Remember on Good Friday I talked about what Jesus perfectly completed when He said, “It is finished!” It was an inside job. He came to change us at our core—we have been brought into at-onement with God and we stand in His presence just-as-if-I’d-never-si….  […]


  11. The Gift At Work In Us | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] The process of sanctification (or as I like to remember it: “saint-ification”) isn’t a one-and-done work. It’s an ongoing work. The Father wants us to remain IN Jesus and bear fruit, so the Holy Spirit remains IN us to bring out that fruitfulness (see John 14:16-17, 20; John 15:1-7).  […]


  12. Why Would You Go Through It? | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] like to remember the definition of sanctification by saying it this way: saint-ification. Literally, the Holy Spirit is making us into […]


  13. Thursdays With Oswald—In Christ I Can | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] We can better understand that word by saying it “at one-ment.” We have been made one with Christ. You hear this in Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17, “I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and definitely recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them even as You have loved Me.” […]


  14. Thursdays With Oswald—Jesus Can Satisfy | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] separation—the abyss—also comes the recognition that Jesus paid the price for our atonement (our at one-ment). Our souls can find their full satisfaction here and now if we will just turn from the thoughts […]


  15. Thursdays With Oswald—What The Spirit Does | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] There is a process whereby the Holy Spirit brings our Christ-likeness from us; it’s called sanctification (or as I like to say it, saint-ification). […]


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