Christianity – Religious life
Introducing key terms


Look up the meaning of these key words in the debate on justification by faith. Try to compose a full meaning which brings out the various nuances (subtleties of meaning) of the words before revealing the definitions.

  • FaithMeans something closer to the English word ‘trust’. It involves not just belief, but action, as in the words of tightrope walker Blondell of a supporter whom he asked ‘do you believe I can cross this canyon?’ and when the reply came ‘yes’, he said, ‘then get on my shoulders’.
  • GospelThe gospel is the whole of the good news about Jesus Christ and that which God has done in and through his death and resurrection.
  • Grace God’s goodness or generosity which is expressed in his gifts of created life and sustenance of his creation. With Christ, ‘grace’ is all the undeserved gifts achieved by his life, death and resurrection, not least eternal life,
  • Justification Sinners need to be justified before a holy and righteous (morally perfect) God. The Reformers argued we were declared acquitted (reckoned as righteous) before God due to the death of Christ who had atoned for our sins by his blood – echoing the sacrifices of the Hebrew Bible.
  • MessiahLiterally ‘anointed one’ used of the kings of Israel, and then later became associated with a divinely-appointed deliverer. This figure could be either political (a warrior delivering from Roman rule) or eschatological (one who would come to deliver in a great judgement at the end of time).
  • PeaceWe have the peace of God because we have peace with God through the ministry of Jesus Christ who has brought us back from enmity which was due to our sin.
  • Reconciliation We are at enmity or at war with God due to our rebellion expressed in the Garden of Eden where pride caused us to want to rule without God. So we are ‘alienated’ or estranged and need to be reconciled or brought back into harmony with God.
  • Righteousness The moral perfection of God reflected in the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ and his sinless nature, which we can only share through faith.

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