Defining Religion


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Sabaoth

a Hebrew word which means "hosts." The Bible calls God the Lord of sabaoth or the Lord of hosts. This name is used to exalt our God as the all-powerful sovereign or ruler over everything, including all human and superhuman forces.

Sabbath

rest. God commanded his people in the Old Testament to observe the Sabbath or seventh day of the week by doing no work (Exodus 20:8-10) and remembering creation (Exodus 20:11) and the deliverance from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). This ceremonial law foreshadowed the spiritual rest the Savior would bring and no longer applies in the New Testament (Colossians 2:16,17).

Sacrament

A sacrament is a sacred act, instituted by Christ for his church, in which an earthly element is used together with God's Word as a means of offering, giving, and sealing to us the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Holy Communion and Baptism are sacraments.

Sadducee

a member of the ruling or priestly party of the Jews during the time of Jesus and the apostles. The Sadducees were rationalistic. They denied the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels (Acts 23:8).

Saint

A saint is a holy one. Every Christian is a saint because the Holy Spirit has brought him to faith. Through faith every believer in Christ has received the forgiveness of sins and has been covered with Jesus' perfect righteousness.

Sanctification

the Holy Spirit’s work of making us holy through the means of grace; in the wider sense sanctification includes His entire work in believers, including conversion and preservation in faith (1 Thessalonians 5:23); in the narrow sense it is the Holy Spirit’s work of leading us to hate sin and bring forth good works in our lives (Ephesians 2:10).

Sanctify

the Holy Spirit's work of making us holy. When the Holy Spirit creates faith in us he renews in us the image of God so that through his power we produce good works. These good works are not meritorious, but show the faith in our hearts (Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2:18).

Sanhedrin

the Jewish ruling council and religious supreme court permitted by the Roman government in Jesus' day (Mark 19:55ff). The Sanhedrin was composed of high priests, elders (tribal and family heads), and scribes or legal experts (Acts 4:5). The council included Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts 5:17,34), numbering about 70 members in all.

Satan

adversary; one of the names the Bible gives to the devil or the chief of the evil spirits. Satan and the other evil spirits were angels who rebelled against God sometime after the week of creation (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6). Satan is a murderer and the father of lies (John 8:44).

Schism

A schism is a formal division in or break from a religious organization usually resulting from a disagreement in doctrine and practice. Although causing needless divisions is sinful, we are commanded to separate from those who persist in teaching falsely (Romans 16:17-18).

Semipelagianism

the belief that human beings have only been weakened by the fall into sin and can make an effort to help God in their conversion and salvation. The Bible, however, teaches that by nature we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1) and are saved entirely by God's grace (Ephesians 2:8,9).

Sheol

Sheol is a Hebrew term that can mean either the realm of the dead (Genesis 37:35, English: grave or "the hereafter") or the place where the wicked (unbelievers) suffer after they die (Psalm 49:14-15).

Sin

Any thought, word, or action that is contrary to God's will. Actual sin involves either a failure to do what God has commanded or doing what God has forbidden. Original sin is the state or condition of sinfulness which we inherit from our parents.


Smalcald Articles

the confession that Luther wrote for a meeting at Schmalkalden in 1537 in preparation for a possible general council of the church. Since Luther was ill and thought he might die, he intended this to be a clear statement of the truth he taught and his theological legacy to the church. This confession was included as one of the official Lutheran Conrfessions in the Book of Concord of 1580.

Social Gospel

the false teaching that the church's mission is to change society through mass or group action rather than to win souls for eternity. The social gospel involves the attempt to reform the economic, political, and social structures of the world rather than proclaiming the forgiveness of sins purchased by the redemptive work of our Savior.

Son of God

the second Person of the Trinity (Matthew 28:19) who is of one being with the Father (John 10:30), and the true God over all (1 John 5:20, Romans 9:5). God the Son became man to redeem the world (Galatians 4:4-5, John 3:16-18).

Son of Man

a messianic title (Daniel 7:13) that Jesus applied to himself indicating that he was the Son of God who became fully human in order to redeem the world (Matthew 16:13-16, Mark 2:28, Luke 9:22, Luke 19:10, Matthew 26:63-64).

Soteriology

Soteriology is the doctrine of salvation. In Lutheran theology, soteriology is that part of Christian doctrine that deals with the personal appropriation of the merits of Christ by a sinner and includes the biblical teachings of conversion, justification by grace through faith, the means of grace, etc.

Soul

the soul is the divinely created, non-material part of a human being which is the seat of life, center of self-consciousness, and seat of an individual's thinking, willing and feeling. The soul will never cease to exist. At death it returns to God to enter eternal joy or eternal torment. On the last day a person's soul will be reunited with his resurrected body to continue eternally in heaven or hell.

Sovereignty of God

God's supreme, autonomous power and rule over the universe. Everything is ultimately subject to him and he makes everything work out for the the benefit of his people (Psalm 115:3, Ephesians 1:19-23, Philippians 2:9-11, Romans 8:28).

Spiritually Blind

To be unable to see the path to heaven, unable to grasp God's truth; by nature every human being has a veil over his eyes which prevents him from taking God at his word and trusting his promises. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual sight when he brings people to faith through the means of grace (2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 3:14-16, Colossians 1:13-14).

Spiritually Dead

to be without spiritual life, to be without faith, to be an unbeliever. Every human being is born spiritually dead and must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. People are born again spiritually when they are converted, when Holy Spirit creates faith in their hearts through the means of grace.

Stewardship

Stewardship is the managing of what belongs to someone else. Christian stewardship involves recognizing that everything we have belongs to God. We will therefore want to manage and use everything we have according to his will. We will use our time, talents, and treasures in church, family, and state to God's glory and the benefit of our fellow human beings.

Stigmata

Stigmata are wounds or marks resembling those received by Jesus from the nails, spear, and crown of thorns during his passion and crucifixion. Some have claimed that these have miraculously appeared on various people, statues, and paintings.

Sufficiency of Scripture

the truth that the Bible contains everything necessary for faith and life. The Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation and to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). If people do not believe the Scriptures they will not believe even if they see great miracles (Luke 16:31).

Supererogation

in Roman Catholic theology works of supererogation are works done over and above the things God requires of everyone, works like vows of poverty and chastity, etc. Such works are viewed by Roman Catholics as particularly meritorious and their merit can be credited to others.

Syncretism

The combining of beliefs and practices of different religions into one. The Bible forbids religious syncretism when it says, "Watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them" (Romans 16:17).

Synergism

the false teaching which claims that human beings by nature have the power to work with God in their own conversion or to decide for Christ. The Bible teaches that we are spiritually dead by nature (Ephesians 2:1,5) and therefore have no power to cooperate with God in our conversion or salvation.

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