The more one understands the key terms the apostle Paul chose to explain the gospel, the deeper one’s experience will be with the gospel. Paul uses these terms throughout the book of Romans to describe the free gift of salvation and eternal transformation that is available to all who will believe and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin.
Atonement (Romans 3:25)
“The satisfaction of God’s holy wrath against sin.” The consequence of our sin is the righteous judgment that God will exercise on sinners. By dying in our place and taking our sins on himself, Jesus makes “atonement” for our sin: he satisfies God’s righteous anger against all who believe.
Faith (Romans 1:17)
Meaning “belief” or “trust,” faith is the means by which sinful people come into right standing with God. It is a complete and active trust in Jesus alone for salvation.
Gospel (Romans 1:16)
Literally means “good news” and is the word Paul uses to refer to the message of forgiveness, eternal life and the lordship of Christ.
Grace (Romans 6:14)
“The unmerited favor of God.” This refers to God’s inexplicable and unwarranted giving of good things (especially salvation) to those who could never earn it. There is power for holy living in the grace of God.
Justification (Romans 5:18)
A legal term that means “the act of being declared righteous.” This exchange happens at salvation when God the Judge declares righteous those who trust in Christ and his work at the cross. Christ took on the punishment for the sins of those who believe.
Law (Romans 13:8)
“The commandments given by God.” The law is good, yet sinful people are incapable of fully keeping it. The law then serves to fully expose our sin. That’s why Paul emphasizes the law in comparison with God’s grace (5:20; 6:14 – 15).
Redemption (Romans 3:23 – 24)
What we experience when we are saved. This is “the act of freeing someone by paying a price,” an economic term Paul employed to show how God buys us back with the blood of his own Son.
Righteousness (Romans 1:17)
As God buys us back, he gifts us with righteousness, “God’s standard of purity” or “God’s own truthfulness and faithfulness.” Amazingly, in the gospel we are not only forgiven, but we are also granted perfect purity in Christ.
Salvation (Romans 1:16)
Means “deliverance” or “healing” and is the word Paul most often uses to denote deliverance from sin and its deadly consequences.
Sin (Romans 3:20)
Means “missing the mark” or “disobedience to God’s law.” Sin is more than an action; it’s a condition that leads to disobedient action. Broadly defined, it’s the tendency of humans to rebel against God, which leads to any action or attitude that opposes God’s character and will.
Just as judgment lies with God alone — He alone sets the standards of justice, righteousness and holiness in the universe according to his good character — so too does salvation lie with him. God alone has the power to truly save, for he saves his people from the very judgment that he will execute in the world.
This salvation is accomplished through Jesus and Jesus alone; indeed, salvation was and is his mission on earth. God shows his eternal commitment to save those who trust in him through the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
Through Jesus, the door is open to all who are willing to admit their need of cleansing and salvation in light of the holy standard of God, submitting themselves to that standard as revealed in God’s Word and coming to him to accept this free gift.
In coming to Jesus, we must first admit and confess our great sin of self-worship and self-lordship, accepting and owning the fact that we have rebelled against our true and right Master. Those who come to the cross with confession on their lips will find the grace and mercy they need from him (John 1:14, 17).
Thank you Jesus loving us and humbling yourself to come to earth. Thank you for sacrificing your life for our salvation.
Article drawn from study features in the NIV, The Jesus Bible, NIV.