Defining Religion

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Major Prophets

those Old Testament prophets who wrote longer books of the Bible. Five books are included in the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.


God instituted and gave marriage not only to the church, but to human beings in general. For instance, we recognize the legitimacy of civil marriage. In addition, God has attached no promise of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation to marriage.


one who suffers death for testifying to his beliefs and refusing to renounce his religion. Stephen is the first Christian martyr mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 6,7).


a service of praise conducted early in the morning. The early Christians held a devotional service around midnight that extended into the early morning hours. The name matins became attached to this first service of the day. The Lutheran Hymnal and Christian Worship include an order of matins.


seems to have come from the Latin "mandatum" which means command. This may be taken from Jesus' words on the night he was betrayed, "A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). It may also come from Jesus words in the institution of Holy Communion on that evening, "Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

Means of Grace

the gospel in God's Word and the sacraments. They are the vehicles the Holy Spirit uses to create or strengthen saving faith. Some deny the necessity of the means of grace for conversion. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit does not work faith apart from the gospel (read Romans 10:13-18).


the compassion and love of God for us sinners that moved him not to count our sins against us, but to count them against his Son Jesus who was put to death as our Substitute. God demonstrates his mercy by forgiving our sins and withholding from us the punishment we deserve.

Messiah (Christ)

the anointed one. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil to set them apart for service to God in the Old Testament. God also promised to send a special anointed one to serve people. The New Testament reveals Jesus as the fulfillment of God's promise-our great prophet, priest, and king who came to save us.

Messianic Jew

A name used by some people of Jewish background who have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior of the world.


a pre-flood patriarch and ancestor of Noah. Methuselah lived to be 967 years old, the greatest age recorded in the Scriptures (Genesis 5:25-29).

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