Agape Love - This word comes up quite often in Christian circles. Its origin is based on the original Greek language which was used at the time the New Testament was written. At that time there were a variety of words used to describe good human relationships, as found in families, in friendships, and in romantic contexts. As Christianity developed, based on the example and identity of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, this new aspect of love began to shine out in those communities. In contrast to the other more common understandings of relationship, agape love became distinctive in nature. The outstanding quality of agape love is its capacity to care for another person by an act of the will. It is not based on benefit for the giver, or on the feelings of the giver, which is usually the case for 'ordinary' human care. When Christians talk about agape love they are referring to this divine love revealed by Jesus. The Bible challenges each of us to love all people like that. The Bible also promises us that God will equip and enable us to love people with this agape love, as we ask for and are open to His Spirit's help each day.
Baptism - When it's used in the Bible, the word "baptism" means "immersion", not sprinkling. It carries the picture of being completely covered. When you're at the beach, and your whole body goes under the water - that's baptism. When a shirt is dipped into a colored dye, so that the shirt is completely covered by the dye - that's baptism. When Christians are baptized by immersion, their whole body goes under the water, and they are identifying with the death of Jesus. When they come back up out of the water, they are identifying with the new life of Jesus.
Born Again - Sometimes, Christians say they have been born again. They get this phrase from a conversation Jesus had with a spiritual leader of his day, Nicodemus. Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a person is born again, he cannot enter God's Kingdom. No doubt, we would have answered the way Nicodemus did: "How can a person be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born?". The second birth Jesus talked about was not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth. This is what being born again means. Getting a new, spiritual life. It means that a person has something added, which fills a gap. When someone is born again, God promises that they have new life with a purpose and a hope for the future.
Canon - The canon refers to those books which are understood to be divinely inspired, the books of the Old and New Testament.
Christ - The Jews were for centuries waiting for a promised Messiah, who would deliver them from oppression. Many Jews are still waiting. The word Messiah means "anointed by God", and the word "Christ" is the Greek translation of the word Messiah. So when we say Jesus Christ, we don't mean that Christ was His surname! Jesus Christ could better be translated as "The anointed one from God, who saves us."
Christians - This word basically means "little Christs". Many scholars believe it was originally a name of scorn when Acts 11:26 states the disciples were "first called Christians". In Antioch, Luke uses a word that the New Testament usually applies to an anouncement from God.
Confess - In the language of the Bible, the word confess means "say the same thing". When a parent discovers that her child has been doing something wrong, she might bring this to the child's attention. She's hoping that her child will confess to his mother. When the child does so, he is saying what the mother is saying: that the child has done wrong. In the relationship between God and people, the same applies. When we confess to God, we're telling God that we've done wrong in his eyes. God already knows this, but our confession shows that we agree with God's assessment. It allows God to forgive us as well. That's what it means in the Bible, where it says "If we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins...".
Covenant - A permanent agreement such as a wedding vow. When used in a Christian context, it usualy refers to either the new or the old covenant between God and man. The first covenant was an agreement God made with the Jews, whereby he gave them the land of Israel, peace and prosperity. In return, they were supposed to obey his commands and preserve his word. Being sinful humans beings like all of us, they failed to do so. The new covenant is the Christian religion - it is a reconciliation between God and man sealed with the blood of Jesus.
Crucifixion - The method the Romans used to execute Jesus Christ. The most painful and degrading form of capital punishment in the ancient world. The Greeks and Romans at first reserved the punishment only for slaves, saying it was too barbaric for freeborn or citizens. By the first century, it was used for any enemy of the state, though citizens could only be crucified by direct edict of Caesar. As time went on, the Romans began to use crucifixion more and more as a deterrent to criminal activity, so that by Jesus' time it was a common sight. A tablet detailing the crime(s) was often placed around the criminal's neck and then fastened to the cross. At the site, the prisoner was often tied (the normal method) or nailed (if a quicker death was desired) to the crossbeam. The nail would be driven through the wrist rather than the palm, since the smaller bones of the hand could not support the weight of the body. The beam with the body was then lifted and tied to the already affixed upright pole. Pins or a small wooden block were placed halfway up to provide a seat for the body lest the nails tear open the wounds or the ropes force the arms from their sockets. Finally, the feet were tied or nailed to the post. Death was caused by the loss of blood circulation and coronary failure.
Epistles - "Epistle" means letter. The Epistles are the letters written to the early church in the time of the apostles. Most of the Epistles were written by an apostle. No one knows who wrote the book of Hebrews. The book of James was written by the brother of Jesus. Revelation, which is called the Apocalypse in the Catholic Bible, does not appear to be a letter by modern standards but it was written as a letter to be shared among the churches.
Gospel - This word simply means good news. The glorious message that Christ has bought, through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, forgiveness of sins for all who cling to him in faith.
Gospels - The first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They tell of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The first three are called the synoptic gospels since they tend to have the same events and outline. John is different in that it tells the story of the life of Jesus using a different outline and different focus. If you want to start reading the bible, John is a very good place to start.
Grace - They say there's no such thing as a free lunch...Well, there is with God. Even better, God offers us a free gift of a changed life, freedom from guilt, and a clear conscience. And we don't have to do anything to earn it. In fact, we can't...If we could earn it, it wouldn't be a gift. And that's the essence of grace: God's free gift to us with no strings attached.
Holy - These days, the word "holy" is generally used in common speech with no thought to its relevance or significance. However, Christians make the claim that God is holy. This word essentially means "separate", and the underlying idea is that God is fundamentally separate from evil. God has always been holy and will always be holy. As well as describing God, the word holy can also be used to describe people or things which are set apart or sacred. Another meaning of the word is moral purity. So, Christians are called to be holy before God and before people. This means they are to live their lives in a way which is morally good; a way which makes God look good and which shows that God is holy.
Judgment Day - Also known as the last day. This is the day when Christ will come again in glory, raise all the dead, and bring all believers into heaven.
Justification - This is a legal term which talks about the legal aspect of salvation. Every one of us stands guilty before God because we have broken His law. When God justifies a person, He declares that person to be in right standing before Him. Even though that person will still sin, he or she is legally free from blame and guilt as far as God is concerned.
Reconciliation - When a person is reconciled to God, it means that their relationship with God has changed. Prior to being reconciled, the person is an "enemy" of God because of sin. After reconciliation with God, the person has a secure and everlasting relationship with God. There cannot be true harmony in a relationship while there is some problem. Once a person fully trusts in Jesus, that person is reconciled to God.
Redemption - Redemption means a "buying back". It comes from the practice in the ancient world where a slave could be "redeemed". Perhaps initially, a person had to be sold into slavery because of some debt he could not pay. From that point onwards, the person was a slave of the one who bought him. But if a friend or a benefactor paid for his freedom, he became free! He was bought back from the slave-owner and was completely free after that. This is a picture of how God buys us back from slavery to sin. He pays for our freedom by offering Jesus in our place.
Repentance - Repentance means a change of mind and a change of life. When someone repents from their sin, they make a deliberate decision to turn away from sin and to turn towards God. This does not mean that person will never sin again. It does mean they have made a conscious choice to follow after God and stop chasing after sin.