Religious words are slippery, dangerously slippery. Church people use them all the time, but what do they really mean?
Take “faith” for example. For many people “faith” means a sincerely held belief. That’s partially true; I sincerely hold to the belief that God is good. But what if my experiences lead me to believe God is uncaring and capricious? That’s not the thrust of the Bible’s message. So “faith” has another dimension: biblical content. Full faith is objective (Bible teaching) and subjective (your sincere belief in that objective teaching). Saved by faith? It depends on what you mean.
Or take the word “grace.” Grace can mean the gift of God, apart from our works, that gives us forgiveness, life and salvation. “By grace are you saved, etc.” But “grace” can also refer to the strength God gives us to live His life and walk in His ways. Thus when 1 Peter 5:10 talks about “the God of all grace,” it means more than getting you off the hook by forgiveness. Saved by grace? What exactly do you mean?
One more, prompted by Jayna Rice, victim of physical abuse by her football husband Ray Rice. She’s not blaming him for abusing her. Forgiveness? Talk about a dangerous word! How many abused women have gone back to their abuser because “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” was not properly explained? “Forgiveness” does not mean condoning wrong. It does not mean testing God with a foolish physical move.
“Love the Lord your God…with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) We can never learn enough about the Bible. Our lives depend on it!