Jargon Buster

Christians tends to use a lot of strange words as if they have their own language. Use the jargon buster to decode this ‘christianese’.

From the latin word ‘Adventus’ meaning “coming”, used to mean a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

The word Anglican originates from “ecclesia anglicana”, a Latin phrase that means the English Church. A member of the Church of England or affiliated church.

To be anointed is to receive the power of God for a specific purpose. Oil is commonly used to anoint someone, usually applied to the head, as a symbol of receiving the power of God. This may be for their own healing or the receiving of the power of God for ministry to others. Someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit and exercising spiritual gifts would be considered to have the annointing.

The reconciliation of God and mankind brought about by the life and death of his son, Jesus Christ. Atonement means to make amends or reparation for an injury or wrong. Through his sacrificial death on the cross Jesus made amends for the wrong man had done in breaking God’s law.

The immersion in or sprinkling with water as a sign that the person is cleansed from sin and constituted as a member of the Church. Baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a valuable step for any believer. It is a public declaration to friends and family of their faith and new life. It not uncommon for a person to be filled with the Holy Spirit following their baptism, or to receive spiritual gifts. I still remember my baptism on 30th December 1984; in fact I have the bible I was given by my mum on that day in front of me as I right this entry.

The word has a number of meanings. The meaning that is most commonly conveyed is “to be highly favoured or fortunate”. Jesus’s most famous teaching is on the subject of blessing – the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5). Jesus explains who receives God’s favour and blessing.

A term referring to a person who believes it is their faith in Jesus Christ that make them a christian, as appose to by birth into a christian family or society. “Born Again” refers to the teaching given by Jesus in John 3 that a person must been born a second time in order to see the kingdom of God. The first birth being a physical one, the second a spiritual one.

The word catholic (small ‘c’) simply means whole or universal Christian body or church. This is different from the “Catholic Church” (capital ‘C’) where the word is used to mean that the Catholic church is the one true universal church.

A Christingle is a symbolic object thought-up in 1747 used in the advent services of many Christian denominations to illustrate the Christmas story to children. It consists of an orange wrapped with a red ribbon, a candle and four cocktail sticks with dolly-mixtures on.

From the compound meaning “Christ’s mass“. A day celebrated across many parts of the world to mark Jesus’s birth.

An alphabetical index of the principal words of a book, such as the Bible, with a reference to the passage in which they occur. A concordance is a useful way to find passages in the Bible although nowadays search engines are a much easier way.

God stands as the only righteous judge of mankind and man’s rebellion against God resulted in Him condemning mankind to death. This condemnation stands over all those who have not accepted God’s gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus.

A covenant is a legally binding agreement; a formal alliance or agreement made by God with a his people or with humanity in general. The old testament law, as summarised in the ten commandments, is referred to as the “old covenant”. The law dictated that sacrifices were required for the atonement of sin. The “new covenant” refers to Jesus’s death as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The new covenant was not a replacement for the old but a fulfilment of God’s original promise, made complete for all time by God’s own son taking the punishment for all of mans’ sin.

There is no one definition of a cult. Cults are not always easy to identify since they are not often necessarily motivated by money or clearly identifiable objectives. Some are just deluded or desire to manipulate others to satisfy their own ends. Cults are characterised by a number of factors: glorification of someone other than God and Jesus Christ e.g. a man or woman, perversion or departure from biblical teachings, manipulation of someone against their will, removal of control from individuals, separation of a person from their loved ones or family, not part of a national recognised church denomination. If you believe you may be part of cult or are worried that someone you know may be, then seek help from an independent and well recognised organisation such as a local mainstream christian church.

The word “deacon” is derived from the Greek meaning “servant”, “waiting-man”, “minister” or “messenger”. In Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, deacons assist priests in their pastoral and administrative duties, but often report directly to the bishop. They have a distinctive role in the liturgy, their main tasks being to proclaim the Gospel, preach, assist in the administration of the Eucharist and to serve the poor and outcast.

A denomination is a recognised branch of christianity. Denominations each have their own distinctive emphasis and style. Such as a variation in the format of the service or style of music. Christian denominations are typically characterised by an emphasis on specific beliefs or way of serving God. This said, even within a single denomination you will find variation in practise and belief. Just because different branches of christianity exist does not mean there is broad disagreement between them. In fact most agree on the fundamentals of christian belief. In the United Kingdom there is a charitable organisation that represents all mainstream christian denominations called “Evangelical Alliance“. It is important that each and every church seeks to fulfil God’s purpose and that is to represent his kingdom on earth. I myself have attended a variety of churches in my years as a Christian including: Baptist, Church of England, Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) and Pioneer. If you are trying to decide where to fellowship read my article on ‘Finding a church‘.

The word eucharist is from the Greek meaning “thanksgiving” and refers to Jesus’s giving thanks for the bread and wine at “The Last Supper” (Matthew 26:26-28). Before Jesus’s death he has a last supper with his disciples. During the supper he uses the bread to represent his body, broken on the cross and the wine to speak of his blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Also see mass.

The term evangelical comes from the Greek ‘euangelion’ which was used by the New Testament writers to speak of ‘glad tidings’ and ‘good news’. The term is typically used to describe a person or church denomination that actively seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Fasting is the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. Fasting is to put aside physical sustenance and to seek spiritual food. To undertake a fast requires a commitment and determination. If we are serious about our relationship with God them this is a good, practical way to get closer to him. Typically fasting is performed to spend additional time in prayer to God. Fasting is a powerful weapon against various forms of addiction, not just eating. As Christian’s we should seek to have no other master than Jesus Christ, that means not being a slave to our desires and addictions. By forcefully denying ourselves of food we exercise our self-control over the things that would have mastery over us.
Caution: Take advice before starting a fast if you’ve never done it before. Read more…

A term (translated from the Greek koinonia) referring to individual Christians who are in Christian communion with each other. The essential meaning of the work koinonia embraces concepts conveyed in the English terms community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy. The first usage of koinonia in the Greek New Testament is found in Acts 2:42-47, where we read a striking description of the common life shared by the early Christian believers.

Glorification is the term used within the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church for the official recognition of a saint. Protestants believe that every christian is “glorified” as a saint as they enter heaven; it is the completion, the perfection, the full realisation of salvation.

The word “gospel” derived from the Old English gōd-spell, meaning “good news” or “glad tidings”. There are four separate accounts of the life of Jesus in the bible – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, also known as the gospels. If you have never read the bible before a good starting place is the gospel of John.

Grace is the undeserved goodness of God towards the human race. The height of God’s grace was demonstrated in his pardoning of man’s rebellion against him through the sacrifice of his own son, Jesus Christ.

Holy means to be clean or pure. Christians consider themselves holy because they have been made clean by Jesus’s sacrifice, taking away their sinfulness. This is probably Christianity’s greatest offence to unbelievers and most powerful message to believers – that a christian is considered blameless by God because of Christ’s death even though they still do wrong.

Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost
A member of the Trinity. Also referred to as “the comforter” and “helper”. His coming was promised by Jesus in John 14:16-18. He comes to reside within every true believer. He tells people’s hearts about the truth of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit also acts as a Christian’s teacher (1 Corinthians 2:9-14) and reveals God’s will and God’s truth to a Christian. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that Christians receive and exercise gifts such as healing, miracles, prophecy, words of knowledge and so on.

Justification, in Christian theology, is God’s act of declaring or making a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

In Anglicanism, the term “laity” refers to anyone who is not a bishop, priest, or deacon. In the Anglican tradition, all baptised persons are expected to minister in Christ’s name.

Also commonly known as “The Lord’s Supper”, “Eucharist”, “Breaking of Bread”, “Blessed Sacrament” and “Holy Communion”. From the latin word missa, simply meaning “dismissal” – as to dismiss someone to send them upon a mission. The Catholic church use this term to mean the whole church service during which the Eucharist is a part.

A messiah is a saviour or liberator of a people. In the Bible a messiah is a king or high priest traditional anointed with oil. The word means anointed one. Jesus is called the Messiah because he came to liberate people from their sins, giving them freedom from condemnation and guilt.

A minister is someone authorised by a church to teach, performing weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. A person who ministers in an official capacity can also be referred to as Vicar, Reverend, Priest, Rector, Pastor, Father, Padre or Chaplain. Responsibilities vary slightly by denomination.

Someone who is ordained has been officially appointed and set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. Depending on the denomination and church leadership rites and ceremonies may be performed by individuals who have not been ordained or officially appointed. Everyone not officially appointed are known as “laity”.

The bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church on earth. Catholics believe that on matters of doctrine the pope is infallible. Catholics believe that the apostle Peter was the first pope, appointed by Jesus when he said about Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church” in Matthew 16:18.

An inspired proclamation that is viewed as a revelation of the will of God, or a prediction of future events. A person that regularly gives verifiable prophecies would be considered to be a prophet.

Protestantism is one of the major groupings within Christianity. It has been defined as the group of church denominations denying the universal authority of the Pope and affirming the Reformation principles of justification by faith alone.

The English word redemption means “repurchase” or “buy back”, and in the Old Testament referred to the ransom of slaves. When mankind first sinned we were all condemned to a life of slavery to sin and separation from a God. Jesus’s death on the cross was the price God paid to redeem mankind from this slavery. He brought us back by paying the price for the penalty of sin. I always am amazed when I read of God’s response to the fall of man – he immediately puts in place a plan to redeem mankind from their sin – a response of true love.

Martin Luther did not agree with the Church offering individuals indulgences in return for money. This led him to come up with his famous doctrine of justification by grace alone: because people are inveterate sinners, no one can be worthy of forgiveness on the basis of their actions, so the only source of salvation is God’s grace. This went against Catholicism, as does the Protestant belief that the only authority for Christians is Scripture.

Deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like. Repentance for one’s past wrong doings is a condition of God’s forgiveness as we can read in Acts 3:19.

The Sabbath day is general a weekly day of rest or time of worship. As God rested on the seventh day following creation, man was commanded to also rest on the seventh day. For Christians Sunday is typically considered to be the sabbath but the emphasis is on resting for a day, rather than observing a specific day each week.

A saint is someone who is sacred, holy, pure, blameless, dedicated. A person becomes a saints by means of the Holy Spirit, which can only come from God. Some denominations reserve the term “saints” to mean only specific individuals who have been venerated after their death.

The definition of salvation is “the act of preserving or the state of being preserved from harm”. Christian salvation is the redemption from the power of sin over ones life and from the penalties associated with it, namely death. To be “saved” is to be rescued from eternal separation from God and to be adopted into his family.

To be sanctified is to be made holy or pure. Sanctification is a process that all believers are to go through. It is being set apart for God’s work and being transformed to the likeness of Christ; that is to take on the attributes of God (Galation 5:22-23). This involves the work of the believer. Sanctification is not a requisite for salvation because we have been justified by Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Sin is the breaking of God’s law. These laws reflect the moral purity of God’s nature; it is a reflection of his character, based on his holiness. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). God paid the ransom for our sins through the death of his own son who died in our place. Anyone who has faith in what Jesus did will be forgiven; he will be saved from God’s judgment.

Torah is a Hebrew word meaning “teaching”, “instruction”, or especially “law”. It primarily refers to the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) but can also be used in the general sense to also include both the Written and Oral Law.

The term “trinity” refers to the God as three divine persons: the father, the son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity and are co-equal. The Trinity is considered to be a mystery of Christian faith.


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