The BIBLICAL THEOLOGY Glossary of Theological Terms     

Last Updated 16 May, 2006 


A term referring to the close personal relationship of the believer to their heavenly Father. The Aramaic word literally means, Papa, Daddy. See the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.


To remain, endure, or continue. It describes union with Christ. John 15:1-10. See Hold On!


The process by which one is brought into relationship with God. 

agnostic, agnosticism

A term coined by Professor Huxley in 1869. In Greek, the term literally means unknown, without knowledge, ignorant. Used in modern times as a position to describe one's thinking on the existence of a Deity. It is used to describe the middle ground between atheism and theism. 


A portion of Scripture that is interpreted to have a hidden meaning. "I stand at the door and knock." Is said to mean that Jesus is waiting for us to let Him into our lives. Another example is John 10:1-16. Differs from a parable in that a parable is a true to life illustration that is designed primarily to teach one truth.


Literally, "no millennium." The belief that the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ, described in the book of Revelation, is spiritual or symbolical in that it pertains not to a long period of time instead of a specific number of years. It is asserted that the Gospel dispensation that we live in is this time, and that it culminates upon the return of Christ. 


Applying oil to a person or object. The ceremonial use of this practice is a symbol of the Holy Spiritís presence upon someone or something. Used to signify Godís calling upon those called to the ministry.

antinomian, antinomianism

It is the construction of two Greek words, anti, (against), and nomos, (law). It is the attitude that the believer does not have to answer to the law of God concerning holiness. To call one an antinomian is to claim that they directly contend for license, or that theologically, the doctrinal end of their position contends that God's law no longer has any bearing on the believer. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Rom. 3:31. "Antinomianism; that is, any kind of doctrinal or practical opposition to God's law, which is the perfect rule of right, and the moral picture of the God of love, drawn in miniature by our Lord in these two exquisite precepts, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. " (John Fletcher.) For a description of a practical Antinomian, see The Antinomian Creed.


The assigning of human physical characteristics to that which is not human. The tendency is to ascribe human features (such as hands or arms) or other human characteristics to God. I.E., the finger of God, sitting at His right hand, Father, Son. See Pillars - Part Two


A formal defense or vindication. In the branch of theological study it is the science of defending the faith. The root word means to apologize, to answer, to defend. It is the art of defending or explaining the faith to a nonbeliever.


This term, originally signifying desertion from and revolt against the commander to whom a soldier owed loyalty and obedience, has come to mean, in respect to Christianity, desertion from the faith of Christ, and revolt against it. This is described in Scriptures as falling away, or defecting from the faith. (Gal. 5:4; Heb. 3:12). In 1 Timothy 4:1, we read, " Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." The Greek term "apostasia" is found twice in Scripture and is translated "forsake" in Acts 21:21, and "falling away" in 2 Thes. 2:3. 


Means "sent one." Messenger. Refers to the twelve that were chosen by Christ during His earthly ministry. One of the requirements was that the apostle must be an eye-witness of the resurrected Christ. (John 15:27; Acts 1:8, 22" 10:41). Paul met this condition on the Damascus road. (1 Cor. 9:1; Acts 9:3-8, 22:6-11; 26:12-18). Being an eye-witness as a requirement seems to limit this calling to the first century. Some believe that Paul indicated that he was the last apostle in 1 Cor. 15:8, and 4:9, in his usage of "last of all." In Rev. 21:14, when the organized Church had been existing for nearly two generations, "the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb" are still spoken of as if the mystic number had never been exceeded.   

apostolic era 

The period of the Christian church starting with the resurrection of Jesus Christ (A.D. 35) and the death of the last Apostle around A.D. 90. Many writings from early Church leaders (Fathers) give us insights into the beliefs and practices of the first century Church.


A native of Armenia; also, the language of the Armenians. An adherent of the Armenian Church, an organization similar in some doctrines and practices to the Greek Church, in others to Roman Catholicism. Commonly confused as Arminian and Arminianism by uninformed writers. The quality of the research and opinions by those who confuse the two should be considered as questionable and unreliable at best.

Arminian, Arminianism

Refers to a type of Protestant theology taught by a Dutch theologian named James Arminius (1560-1609). The key issues that generally identify those that identify with this theology are:

A denial of absolute predestination, and an emphasis on the freedom of man. Most who are wear the label "Arminian" do not adhere to the Baptist doctrine of "Eternal Security" or the Calvinistic doctrine of the "Perseverance of the Saints". A true Arminian admits that man is only free to respond because the grace of God has enable him to do so. Those that overemphasize the idea of human freedom and deny the depravity of man at the expense of grace are clearly in the camp of Pelagianism. See Choosing a TheologyBiblical Support for Arminianism.


To reconcile, to bring together and make as one. Commonly referred to as the "work of Christ" or "the benefits of Christ gained for believers by his death and resurrection." See Salvation.

backslidden, backsliding

To rebel against God. To turn back or regress from a present spiritual condition. The term implies moving in a direction away from God. It can be described as a current process, or as a state. (backslidden). See apostasy.


A washing or plunging in water to cleanse. Used symbolically as an ordinance to show an outward witness to the inside work that Christ has done within us in regeneration and salvation. Commanded by Christ, it is a procedure that all Christian believers should submit to. It identifies the believer with the body of Christ and carries with it the idea of the renunciation of your former life, and the beginning of a new life in Christ. See Baptism: Its Meaning, Its Mode, and Its Madness.


Latin for "blessedness," or "happiness." A literary form that starts a passage by pronouncing something "blessed" or "happy" as Christ did in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matt. 5:3-11).


A prayer for Godís blessing, or thanks for the reception of a blessing. Usually in a prayer before a meal or at the end of a worship service. Sometimes as the final words of a New Testament epistle.


From the Greek biblos, meaning "book(s), roll, papyrus." See Phil. 4:3; Rev.3:5, for examples. Used to describe the complete canon of Scripture; the 66 books of the Bible.  

Biblical theology

A branch of theology that describes spiritual doctrines in context with the individual writers concepts. While it deals with the same doctrines as systematic theology, it considers each teaching as the individual writer used it. An example would be how Paul describes the atonement in accounting terms, John describes atonement in judicial terms, and the writer of Hebrews describes the atonement as a sacrificial transaction. Biblical theology does not always consider how one doctrine is connected to another, that is the purpose of systematic theology.


A description of the theology of John Calvin (1509-1564). The key emphasis of this theology is presented as an acronym called "TULIP". Total depravity of man, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the Saints. Salvation of individuals is determined by a "decree" of God, made before the foundation of the world. In this system, man is predestined to heaven or to hell. Freedom of the will is denied, and the salvation of any individual is the result of a mysterious selection only known to God. See Choosing a Theology and, A New Strategy for Refuting Eternal Security , Arminian Conundrum.

canon, canon of Scripture

Comes from the term reed or cane, which is used to measure. Used as a term to describe those books which measure up to being inspired. The tests of previous recognition by authorities in the church, style, the law of non-contradiction, are means by which we have derived our current Bible.

carnal mind

The mind-set that is ruled by the flesh and is in opposition to the mind of Christ.


A popular manual of Christian doctrine, usually in the form of questions and answers, intended for religious instruction. Used by many denominations as a course of study used to confirm a young adult's understanding and commitment into the beliefs in which they were baptized or dedicated as infants.  


Greek for "Anointed." Equivalent to the Hebrew "Messiah." Used synonymously with Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Anointed One. The term is usually in the context of describing oil being poured out on the head of the one who has been called and dedicated to a holy purpose. In modern usage we would use the term "christen."   


A Jewish rite involving the cutting off of the foreskin of the male genital, usually on the eighth day after birth, signifying the covenant relationship between God and His people. No longer required under the New Testament covenant. 

charisma, charismatic 

A set of terms especially associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In medieval theology, the term "charisma" is used to designate a spiritual gift, conferred upon individuals by the grace of God. Since the early twentieth century, the term "charismatic" has come to refer to styles of worship which place a heavy emphasis upon the gifts and the immediate presence and experience of the Holy Spirit.


The section of Christian theology dealing with the identity of Jesus Christ, particularly the question of the relation of his human and divine natures.


See Lord's Supper.


Biblically it refers to admitting our faults and sin to God for His promise of cleansing. 1 Jn. 1:9.

covenant theology

The belief that God bases His relationship with man based upon a pact that includes conditions that are essential to this agreement. Also known as "Federal Theology," it is in opposition to dispensationalism in that it sees at least two covenants, the New Testament and the Old Testament. Both hold to the same Gospel that man is saved by faith, but differ concerning religious ordinances. Salvation is through Christ, but the Old Covenant looked forward to His atonement, and the New Testament looks back to it.


A formal definition or summary of the Christian faith, held in common by all Christians. The most important are those generally known as the "Apostles' creed" and the "Nicene creed." Creeds were the earliest development of the formal faith of the Church, so they are the first and the most authentic form of the Church's oral tradition.


A punishment by which judgment is to follow. Used in connection to the judgment pronounced upon the wicked on the last day. 


"Ten words." The Ten Commandments.


A theological term that refers to different periods of time (Dispensations) in which God worked in a distinct way. Some divide these periods from two, Old Testament and New Testament. Those that hold to a  higher number of periods are usually called hyper-dispensationalists which means that they find anywhere from as many as seven to 13, or even more dispensations. Dispensationalism, as a religious movement, puts a heavy emphasis on prophecy and views many of these different time periods as having different requirements for salvation. See Dispensationalism.

Depravity, Total Depravity

The doctrine that through the fall of Adam in the garden, all of mankind inherits a sinful nature from our parents. This "bent" towards sin makes it essential that any theology must include an initiative of God that changes the nature of man in a way that enables him to respond to any offer of grace. As the first man, Adam made a choice for sin for his entire posterity. We all inherited this fallen nature and its resulting curse which includes sickness and death. See original sin. See Man.


The state of being divine; a divine being; God.  

Divinity of Christ

The doctrine that the Divine Nature of the Eternal Son of God is united as one nature in the Man Christ Jesus. It asserts that Jesus was more than a mere man who taught great things and was crucified. He is the God and Creator of earth who took upon Himself the responsibility to suffer for the sins of all mankind so that we could be reconciled to one another. See hypostatic union.


From the root "to teach.' It is something taught, something received and heard. It denotes the teaching of Scripture on theological themes. It may consist of principles, tenets, creeds or beliefs on a particular subject. The teaching, or doctrine, can consist of the consideration of a singular subject alone. It does not necessarily consider other teachings as a whole. That is left up to the discipline of Systematic Theology. See Systematic Theology.


A theological principle. A term describing a statement of doctrine that has been derived by a deduction from Divine Revelation, and confirmed and enunciated by the Church through a General Council. 


The study of the Church. Greek term ecclesia, means "called out" ones.


A Greek term that means to "read into" some preconceived idea into a text, or meaning of a text. It is a hermeneutical error which is employed often within theology. See Exegesis

elect, election

To be chosen for a specific use. Divine election can be individual, corporate, national, and personal. Individual election to a specific service can be seen by the example of the "choosing" of the disciples, and another is that Paul was a  "chosen" or elected "vessel," to be the Apostle of the Gentiles. The second kind of election, the national, or bodies of people, can be seen in God's selection of the Jewish people to be a "peculiar people unto Himself." This is a corporate election. The personal election in Scripture refers to all those who receive salvation through faith. In 1 Peter 1:2, we are told that the "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus." " To be elected, therefore, is to be separated from "the world," and sanctified by the Spirit, and by the blood of Christ. It follows, then, not only that election is an act of God done in time, but also that it is subsequent to the administration of the means of salvation." (Watson) It should be noted that the "foreknowledge" of God is not causative of the election, it is merely "knowledge." God has "chosen" believers "in Christ" before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1:4. The election of individuals according to 1 Peter 1:2, and Eph. 1:4 is based upon the individuals belief in the truth, and the application of the blood of Christ to their condition. This was God's plan before the foundation of the world. See Election and Reprobation.


The section of Christian theology dealing with the "last things." Describes the issues of end time prophesy, such as, millennium, the tribulation, the second coming of Christ.

eternal life, everlasting life

A quality of life that the believer receives through a relationship with Jesus Christ. (John 17:3) This possession is conditioned upon the abiding in Christ. (John 15:1-6; 1John 2:24-25). It is possessed upon salvation, but is not yet complete in it fullness. (Rom. 6:22; 1John 2:24-25). While the believer has this life here and now, it is not a guaranteed that they will continue in Christ and receive the fullness of it. Many times Eternal Life is confused with eternal "possession." The life is everlasting; it is eternal. Our possession of it however, is not. Our possession had a beginning. Our possession of it is conditioned upon continued faith. ( Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6, 6:14; 1 Tim. 6:19-20). See Hold On! 

Eternal Security

Also known as Once Saved, Always Saved. Predominantly a Baptist doctrine, it arose to popularity at the turn of the 19th Century. This doctrine teaches that an individual cannot do anything that could revoke their salvation. Their limited proof texts are examined in, The Eight Pillars of Eternal Security, and The Pillars of Eternal Security (Part 2). The historical foundation and development of this teaching is discussed in, A Historical Examination of the Doctrine of Eternal Security. Biblical passages that assert that an individual can reject the gift of Eternal Salvation, and verses that contain conditions to the retaining of salvation, are to be found in 200 Reasons You Should Not Believe In Eternal Security, and Hold On!


Literally, "thanksgiving." In usage as a Roman Catholic term for the "the mass," "the Lord's supper," and "holy communion." See Lord's Supper.

evangelical, Evangelicalism 

One who is committed to evangelism. Also refers to a modern Protestant movement that discourages religious formalism and emphasizes a personal relationship with Christ. Because salvation is not in a church, but a person (Christ), the message must go beyond the walls of formal worship. Evangelism is the keynote of this movement. See Decisional Regeneration.


The science of textual interpretation, usually referring specifically to the Bible and the extraction of the meaning of a text. It is the process of interpreting the Bible.

expiate, expiation

A term that is identical to atonement. Atonement, propitiation, Mercy Seat and expiation are all cognates of the same Greek term. Expiation carries with it the idea of expiating (taking away) that which is a barrier between God and man. This views the work of Christ on the Cross as taking sin out of the way so God can fellowship with man. This perspective alleviates the idea of a vindictive God punishing the innocent as the term of propitiation is sometimes taken to mean.


A doctrinal idea that everything that happens is already pre-determined by some external force. It denies the possibility of freedom of the will in individuals, and in essence, it denies personal responsibility because of the individuals incapability to respond otherwise. "Fatalism has no place in the doctrines of the Church, though it may seem to enter into the idea of predestination, which, however, does not apply to individuals, but to the Body of Christ. That alone is predestined to glory..."  Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, (Blunt) page 276.

fathers, Apostolic 

Term used to distinguish those disciples and contemporaries of the Apostles whose writings have been handed down to us. An alternative term for "patristic writers." Those leaders and writers that lived in the era of the fist century church who's writings record the history of the spirituality, habits, thoughts, and teachings of the early Christians. 


Belief and trust in, and loyalty to God. It is a supernatural mental quality bestowed by God, whereby truth is apprehended without the evidence of prior experience or argumentative proof. Faith goes beyond mere knowledge to include: Knowledge of a Higher Authority; Conviction as to the Authority; and Assent of our will to that Authority.

faith alone

See sola fide.


Part of the primary attributes of God where we say that He is omniscient, and all knowing. God knows the heart of man (foreknowledge), which should not be confused with predestination. Knowledge is not causative of an event, or a determination that anything should happen, but the awareness of a future event and nothing more. The accuracy and detailed descriptions of the prophecies revealed to us by God doubtlessly prove His foreknowledge of these events. Because God knows that something will happen in the future does not mean that He is the cause of that event. Because God can see the future sin of a person does not give us the license to impute to Him the responsibility for that sin. 


See Predestination.

Fourth Gospel 

A term used to refer to the Gospel according to John.


A form of American Protestant Christianity which lays especial emphasis upon the authority of an inerrant Bible. Started as a response to liberalism at the turn of the 20th century. It found its beginnings from the publication of a series of books that called Christians back to the essentials of the faith. (The Fundamentals).

free will

The ability of man to refuse evil and choose good. This is denied by Calvinism, it is asserted as natural ability by Pelagianism, and it is asserted as graciously given to all men by the grace of God in Arminianism.   


An exalted state of honor. It is the state in which the believer is changed upon their entrance into heaven. It encompasses a new body which cannot be corrupted or die. Human frailties and sickness are done away with. Not to be confused with sanctification. 


An early heresy that threatened the church. Comes from the Greek work "Gnosis" which means "to know." A Gnostic is a "knowing one." The religion believes that they possess a secret knowledge that is the privilege of those that are "elect." They believed in a dualistic nature of the world. There is "spirit" and there is "matter." All matter is seen as evil, and all spirit is pure. They taught that they could commit all manner of sin, but this was the flesh (matter) and that this could not affect the "spirit." An early Christian form of this heresy permeated the church which taught that Jesus did not die on the cross, for He is God (Spirit) and cannot die. Those is why John wrote the epistle of 1 John to argue that Jesus came in the flesh, and that when the body sins, we sin. See Dismembering Scarecrows, A Historical Examination of Eternal Security


Term found three times in the King James version of the Bible, Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9. The term signifies Divinity and unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Synonymous with the term Trinity. See God 


Unmerited and free favor towards the undeserving. Grace is different from mercy in that mercy is the withholding of negative consequences that which we deserve. Grace

grace, alone

See sola gratia.

grace, prevenient

See prevenient.


The principles underlying the interpretation of Scripture. Most writings on hermeneutics will include; The law of non-contradiction, the law of context, Historical context, and the importance of investigating original word meanings.

Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit

The Third person of the Trinity. Also named as the Comforter, Advocate, Paraclete. He is distinct from, but coequal with the Father and the Son. He is the Executive of the Godhead. He executes the will of God upon earth. He confers power, gifts, and guidance to the believer in whom He resides.  


Secularism. The idea that mankind is the sole source of all problems and therefore, is the answer to all problems. It is a faith in the goodness of man and a confidence that he can resolve all issues without any need for a God.

hypostatic union  

The doctrine of the union of divine and human natures in Jesus Christ, without confusion of their respective substances. Jesus being both God and man at the same time. See God


A term used to refer to the taking on, the assumption of a human nature by God in the person of Jesus Christ.

imputed, imputed righteousness, imputation

An accounting term that literally means to reckon, or count. Many have erroneously defined the term to imply that it posits a transfer of character. Calvinism takes it to mean this by stating that our sinfulness is transferred to the account of Jesus, and in turn, His righteousness is transferred, or imputed, to our account. "Several passages of Scripture which speak of faith being imputed to the believer for righteousness (Rom. 9:30; 10:4-10: Gal. 3:22) have been brought forward in support of this doctrine, yet with very little reasonableness, since the imputation of the believer's faith is obviously not synonymous with the imputation of Christ's righteousness... " Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, (Blunt) page 332. This brings to light that fact that the Scriptures never state this "transfer" of righteousness, but that faith is counted, or reckoned for righteousness. Righteousness is not "imputed," it is faith that is counted as righteousness.  

Blunt advances the objection further, " It has been asserted, perhaps the most plausible plea in defense of this dogma, that nothing but thorough and perfect obedience could ever be available for acceptance before a God of infinite purity; and consequently that Christ's righteousness, which is alone perfect, must be imputed to the believer ere he can be accepted before God. This assertion is wholly destitute of proof, since it cannot be supposed that an all-perfect obedience to the Divine Will ever was or could be rendered by any created being whatever. If God, as Job says (4:18), charges His angels with folly, if "the heavens," or the inhabitants of heaven--to whom it will be admitted that no righteousness but their own is imputed-- are said "not to be clean in God's sight" (Job 25:14); may we not, since their imperfect obedience is accepted before God, by parity of reasoning infer that our inferior tribute of obedience, with feebler powers and opportunities of serving God imparted to us, will not pass unrewarded-- nay, rather, worthless and imperfect though it be, will be more favorably received..." "But the theory before us [the imputed righteousness of Christ] is not only unsupported by the teachings of Scripture, it is even inconsistent with its primary and fundamental truths-- it really sets aside the duty of obedience to God's commandments.  If Christ's righteousness be imputed to every sinner who believes on Him, what can his striving to attain personal holiness avail?" (ibid, page 332). "The extracts which have been given clearly shew that this dogma in itself, and not by any doubtful inference, is grossly Antinomian." (ibid, 333). See Imputation and the Arminian Mind


To declare just, to justify. The act of God whereby He declares the repentant sinner free of all past sin in light of their faith in the atonement of Christ on their behalf. The record of our offense is cleared, and in light of the blank slate, God views us as just, having nothing against us. See Imputation, Salvation

kenosis, kenotic theory

An emptying. In theology, the act of Jesus Christ humbling himself by divesting his right and position by taking on the nature and form of a human being. (Philippians 2:5-11.)

Lord's Supper

Celebrated as either a sacrament, means of grace, or ceremony that is conducted within the Church to commemorate the Lord's death until He returns. It is done in response to the command and example of Jesus to "do this in remembrance of me." (Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14: 22-26; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 1:23-26). Also known as the Eucharist or Holy Communion. 


The view that believers that are alive on earth when the tribulation begins will endure 3 1/2 years of those troublesome times before the Lord raptures them to heaven. 


Withholding negative consequences that we deserve. To abstain from inflicting the deserves penalty or punishment. Not to be confused with grace which is the conferring unmerited favor upon the undeserving.  

omnipotent, omnipotence 

Meaning "all powerful." As an attribute of God, He has all power in heaven and earth. God can do and accomplish anything that He chooses at any time and in any manner as long as it does not violate any of His other attributes. All the actions of God are consistent with His love, holiness, and justice. 


The state of being all, or ever present. As an attribute of God, He can be everywhere in the universe at the same time. This is not to be confused with Pantheism, where God is in everything, and everything is God. God does not have boundaries or limitations as to where He can be or go. 


The attribute of God of being able to know all things, past, present, and future. 

open theism

The idea that God in His infinite power can and does choose to limit His knowledge of certain events. While God can know the future of every future event, He, in His sovereignty, allows some things to be partly open. This is based from the Scriptures that show God testing people to find out what they will decide. (Gen. 22:12; Deut. 8:2; 13:1-3; Judg. 3:4; 2 Chron. 32:31). Also is considered is that God is shown to have changed His mind when new circumstances occur. (Exod. 32:14; Num. 11:1-2; 14:12-20; 16:20-35, 41-48; 2 Sam.24:17-25; Jer. 18:7-10; 26:2-3,19). This theory is objected to by those that hold to the classical view of omniscience. They argue that unless God knows all, then prophecy cannot be sure. This argument fails upon close examination, for the open view does not deny that God knows what is prophetically sure. Perhaps the strongest argument against the open view is the nature of omniscience. Wouldn't God have to know something in order to choose not to know it? This certainly has implications that go far beyond the human capacity to understand the omniscience and capabilities of God on this issue. 


Commands that were instituted by Christ for believers and the Church. Most Churches embrace two ordinances: The Lord's Supper, and Baptism. Some groups add a third, which is foot washing. 

original sin

Is whereby our whole nature is corrupted, and rendered contrary to the nature and law of God. (Watson). There is much debate over the nature and extent of this "sin." In the sense of "original sin," Calvinism teaches that man is Totally Depraved and is justly responsible from birth for the sin of Adam. Pelagianism denies any such depravity and suggests that infants are born pure and free of any responsibility in Adam's sin. The Pelagian rightfully questions how man can be responsible, and God can be just in damning individuals for something Adam did. The Arminian takes a mediate position. They view "original sin" as "depravity."  The law of natural transmission caused the depravity of Adam's sin to pass his fallen nature on to his posterity. In the fall the image of God by (nature) was disrupted. This nature affects all who are born into the world. Grace (prevenient) touches everyone who enters the world. Grace has been given that no man cannot do what is right and just, therefore, man goes to hell of his own free will, not on the basis of what Adam did. Depravity does not condemn man because of grace. (Romans 5:18). We are told in Scripture that men "wax worse and worse" (2 Tim. 3:13), which would be impossible is we were already "totally" depraved at birth.  Depravity however, permeates every aspect of man in that there is not a part which is untouched. This makes man odious to God, and thus requires grace to make man fit for heaven. Depravity is not guilt, it is something we inherit, and therefore, it is not something we need to be forgiven of; it is something in which we need to be cleansed. How far then are we affected? "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; in sin hath my mother conceived me," (Ps. 51:5). "What is man that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?" (Job 15:14). "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12). And "by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation" (Rom. 5:18). "We were by nature children of wrath." (Eph. 2:3). These show that it is our nature to be the children of wrath, that this nature is inherited. The extent is universal, but so is the grace of God through Christ.  See depravity. See The Depravity of ManMan, and Prevenient Grace

orthodox, orthodoxy 

Holding true doctrine, the standard of being the doctrine acknowledged and received by the majority in the Church. It is "right belief," as opposed to heresy. 


Greek for "one who comes along side." It can be one who aids the believer as an Advocate, a pleader, or an intercessor. In the New Testament applied to the Holy Spirit who is also a comforter.


A Greek term, which literally means "coming" or "arrival," used to refer to the second coming of Christ.


An adjective used to refer to the first centuries in the history of the church, following the writing of the New Testament (the "patristic period").

Pelagius, Pelagianism

The system of moral and doctrinal concepts originating from a British monk named Pelagius. His extreme free-will teaching has been condemned by the vast majority of Christians throughout history. Unfortunately, this works oriented heresy has crept into being accepted as a legitimate sect of Christianity. Pelagianism denies original sin, or total depravity. It assumes that children are born without a sinful nature which is in opposition to practical observation and Biblical revelation. A denial that man needs grace to be able to able to be without sin is where many opposed his teaching. This idea that one does not require grace to respond to God encourages a humanistic "gospel" which makes salvation the act of man by making himself the initiator. Most of those who believe that God must accept them them apart from His drawing and calling tend to compound this error by adding other humanistic means of merit to their so-called "plan of salvation" such as water baptism by immersion. This in essence, puts the accomplishment of salvation and regeneration into the hands of man, and takes it out of the hand of God. Man must choose to believe. Man must submit to a specific mode of water baptism. Man must administer this baptism. Either Christ saves us or water saves us, it cannot be both! Either we are at the mercy of God for salvation, or we are guilty of rejecting His means in favor of relying on ourselves and other likeminded men to complete the salvation process.    


A Biblical term that is commanded of man. It means, that which is complete, wanting nothing, and meeting the intent in which were created for. Biblical perfection speaks of a perfecting of the heart which is within the capacity of man and not the perfection of being God. See sanctification. See The Biblical Basis for Entire Sanctification      


An approach to Christianity, especially associated with German writers in the seventeenth century, which places an emphasis upon the personal appropriation of faith, and the need for holiness in Christian living. The movement is perhaps best known within the English-language world in the form of Methodism and Puritanism.


Meaning the return of Christ will occur after the millennium. (1,000 years). 


The view that believers that are alive during the tribulation will go through those troublesome times. 


To mark out beforehand, to for-ordain that something will happen. Erroneously used say that God, by an eternal decree, has resolved (predestined) from all eternity to save a portion of mankind and to damn all others apart from anything within themselves, to include any foreknowledge of any future faith or obedience. Upon an unbiased observation of Scripture, we can see that there is not a singular instance where the word "predestination" is used in the context of the salvation of any individual. Rom. 8:29-30, states clearly what is predestined; it is that those that are called (a term referring to those who receive the gracious offer of God to salvation) are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, which is sanctification, holiness of character, and not salvation. In Ephesians 1:5 we are told that from all eternity God "predestined us (believers, Saints (holy ones), see verse one for context) to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself."  Notice that this predestined adoption is not to individuals but to a class of people, the "Church," (Us). The means of this adoption is also clear, it is not by some preexistent fatalistic decree, but through Jesus Christ that we are predestined to gain this adoption. Verse 4 clarifies this statement by showing what the plan of God before all time was, " just as He chose us (believers) in Him (Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless (sanctification) before Him in love."  Before the foundation of the world, God determined (predestinated, for-ordained) that we would be "chosen" on the basis of faith in the work of Jesus Christ for salvation, resulting in a change of character, from sin to holiness.  Verse 11 uses the term predestination once again, but is ambiguous as to what the subject of this predestination is. "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."  What is predestined? The individual, or the obtaining of an inheritance? The context of the following two verses lead us to the idea that this purpose is that we should be to the praise of his glory (holiness?) by trusting in Jesus Christ. Ver. 12, 13. Also consider that without a single passage that states clearly that God predestines individuals to election and reprobation, we are better served in honoring the consistency of the Scriptures to say that it is the plan of God that we receive salvation (our inheritance) through trusting in Jesus Christ, which is what is predestined for the believers? 1 Corinthians 2:7 states, "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory." Notice that it is God's wisdom that is predestined to those that believe, and not the predestination that they would believe the wisdom. Acts 4:28 is the last occurrence of the term in the Holy Scriptures. This passage is simply a statement that that the death of Christ was predestined and did not happen because of the determination of the will of man.  A term that only has five occurrences within the Scripture cannot possibly be the cornerstone of the plan and mystery of God concerning salvation, especially when there is not a singular statement that any individual has ever been predestined by God to salvation.  With the same facts, it is also apparent that it would be a great error to built an entire theology based upon the predestination of individuals, since by drawing on this unbiblical assumption, one cannot possibly arrive at at and that is Biblical. The Scriptural concept of predestination is: "God's eternal purpose to save all that ' truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy gospel,' according to the Apostle Paul, "Whom he did foreknow" as believers "them he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son;" to his moral image here, and to the image of his glorified humanity in heaven." (Watson) See Predestination


Meaning the return of Christ will before the millennium and reign for 1,000 years. 


The view that believers that are alive when the tribulation begins will be raptured to heaven to avoid God's wrath on earth. 

prevenient grace

The grace that goes before salvation. It is the grace of God conferred upon all mankind to enable them the freedom to choose between right and wrong in spite of their total depravity. This suggests that not all grace is saving grace, but some grace is preventative and precedes and prepares each individual for the offer of saving grace. Because this grace enables us to decide between alternatives, it makes God just in condemning the unrepentant because they were given the ability to do otherwise. Also, because this grace is conferred upon us, it makes God the Initiator in salvation, thus eliminating the possibility of human merit for salvation.  See Prevenient Grace


A term used in conjunction with the atonement of Christ. Other cognates are, expiation, mercy seat, and atonement. While all the available terms speak of the same thing, they each conjure up different ideas in the mind. Propitiation means to appease an offended party so they can be at one. The idea to propitiate or appease gives us the idea that God is a Shylock who demands His pound of flesh. God is almost pictured as if He demands another virgin to be sacrificed to the volcano so He can be happy. This is neither a favorable nor a Biblical view of God. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." (2 Cor. 5:19). The Cross was not the scene of the Father hurling lightning bolts of wrath down upon the head His obedient Son whom He was well pleased. It was the scene of love and grace where the cooperative effort of the Trinity was in union reconciling man to Himself. The term of propitiation is true as far as it satisfies God that He is not any longer angry with the believer, and He can be at one with those He saves. See Payment and Punishment, Salvation 

Protestant, Protestantism 

Describes those who "protest" against the practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic church. As a movement, it denotes those groups who were an outgrowth of the Reformation.  


The time period where Martin Luther, Zwingly, John Calvin, and others shifted the world of Christianity away from Roman Catholicism through the emphasis of salvation by faith, and the teaching of "sola scripura" "Scripture only" as the rule of faith for the believer as opposed to Roman Catholicismís emphasis on the authority of tradition and the Pope.


The act of God in changing the nature and character of a person through the new-birth. Giving the believer a new nature, renewing the heart and affecting a new set of beliefs and desires by which the person can relate to God in a personal manner.

Reprobate, reprobation

One who is, or exists in the state of being unprincipled, or controlled completely by a mind that is devoid of spiritual impulses. It is the state of mankind, in its fallen spiritual state apart from the grace of God intervening in their lives. Scripture uses this term to describe those individuals that have willfully rejected the intercession and calling of God upon their heart and have purposely, and deliberately placed themselves outside of the grasp of salvation to the point that they are unable to perceive anything but evil. (Rom 1:28.) While this describes humanity apart from the grace of God, it is erroneously defined by Calvinism as describing those who are predestined by the will of God, to His good pleasure, to be tormented in the eternal fires of hell for not being selected to be recipients of His grace. Paul does not see this term as a predetermined condition apart from the choice of man when he writes, " But I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. (reprobate, same Greek word as in Rom. 1:28.)" 1 Cor. 9:27. To summarize what has been said: Reprobation is the state of continuous rejection of the impulses of God upon the individual, and a purposeful and continual choice of evil as the principle of life. See Election and Reprobation


The belief that certain acts were promoted by Christ and the early church that were set apart to be "sacred." Although Roman Catholic theology and church practice recognize seven such sacraments (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage, ordination, penance, and unction), Protestant theologians generally argue that only two (baptism and the Lordís Supper) were to be found in the New Testament itself. Orthodox Protestants deny that the practice of any sacrament is essential to salvation. Many prefer to refer to baptism and the Lordís Supper as a "means of grace" whereby as we approach God through the meaning that these acts represent, our hearts are opened to be able to receive the grace of God. Many prefer the term "ordinance" to denote the establishment of a religious custom or practice without containing the language merit through "sacrament" or sacrifice.  


The whole process of deliverance from the penalty and power of sin through the atonement of Christ. In the present this brings one into God's highest blessings and favor and the witness of the Spirit that they are a child of God, (Rom. 8:16). As children of God, we are given the future hope of an eternal bliss in the presence of God.  


To make holy, or holiness. It is the separation from the profane and unholy to a devotement to God. To make clean and holy in an ethical sense. Synonyms of this term in the New Testament are purity, holiness, cleansing, and perfection (completeness, wholeness.) It is significant to note that the Scriptures always exhort the believer to be pure and holy during their lifetime. The Scriptures present this as an action of the Holy Spirit that is worked within the believer after justification, but before glorification. There is no example in the Greek text where exhortations to perfection, purity, sanctification, or holiness are in the future tense. This fact denies the possibility of these actions occurring after death.  See Understanding Christian Holiness , Entire Sanctification


An invented term that is used as a derogatory reference to Arminian believers. Attempts to suggest that Arminians believe that they do not need the grace of God in order to respond to grace, and that they believe in salvation by merit. Any true Arminian would condemn Pelagianism as being heretical. We are in agreement with our Calvinistic brethren concerning this heresy, even though they erroneously malign us with the name. This is a logical fallacy that seeks to identify a belief that on the surface appears similar, but has no relationship to the heresy involved. See Prevenient Grace

Sermon on the Mount

Chapters 5-7 of Matthew's gospel containing many moral principles set down for us by Jesus.


A willful transgression of a known law of God. Such a definition supposes two things: 1. The one committing the act knows that they are doing wrong. They must have light. (John 9:41). It must be done with intent. (James 4:17). See A Theology of Sin

sola fide 

Latin phrase for "faith only." Signifying that salvation is by faith only as opposed to salvation by works or human effort. Abused by teachers to imply that one can have a "workless" salvation. The habit of inserting "alone" after faith in every instance is the beading ground for false doctrine and antinomianism. The only instance of a faith that is "alone" in Scripture is a dead faith. (James 2:17). See Charles Stanley (Chapter entitled What Is At Stake?). 

sola gratia 

Latin phrase meaning "grace only." Signifying that salvation is given by the grace of God and not by any merit on the part of the recipient.

sola scriptura 

Latin phrase to indicate "Scripture alone." Signifies that Scripture a is the only true and authoritative guide to human conduct and means by which salvation can be obtained. 


The branch of Christian theology dealing with the doctrine of salvation, (Greek: soteria). See Salvation


A superior, one who is supreme in rank, power or authority. Holding that position as a ruler; independent of all others. It is the ability of God to act and accomplish His will, independent of any other source or influence. Not to be confused with fatalism where God is made to be the responsible Cause of everything. This would include sin and evil if it were so. While God is sovereign and can do anything within the self limiting constraints of His attributes, He cannot be the Cause of sin. Absolute sovereignty makes Him responsible. Some who have asserted "absolute" sovereignty deny that God has given man any freedom to act outside of the strings God Himself pulls. This in fact, denies that God is sovereign, for if He cannot will that man should be free to choose to obey or rebel, then He is not really sovereign. If God is not free in imparting freedom to man, then He is not as sovereign as some make Him out to be. 

synoptic gospels 

A term used to refer to the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The term (derived from the Greek word synopsis, "summary") refers to the way in which the three gospels can be seen as providing similar "summaries" of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

systematic theology

A branch of theology that connects a series of doctrines to a system. The attempt is to show the connection of all doctrines as a consistent whole. The Law of non-contradiction demands that each doctrine must compliment and not contradict another within the system. For a theology to be truly "systematic," it must not have any doctrine that is in contradiction to another within the same arrangement. If one doctrine opposes another, it cannot be accurately called a systematic theology.  


"Theo" Greek for God, and "logos" which means "word" or "study of." It is the science of the study of God. It usually speaks of the nature of God (Theology), the nature of man (anthropology), the effect of sin (hamartiology), salvation (soteriology), and end times (eschatology). See The Importance of Theology, Choosing a Theology, and Theology as a Science


The doctrine is usually summarized in maxims such as "three persons, one God." The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit described as Three Persons, coequal and existing in unity as One God. See godhead. See God.


Good deeds or good fruit produced in the believer. The Scriptures demand the necessity of good works (Jn.15:5, Eph.2:10, Col. 1:10, James 2:17), for they are the evidence and fruit of saving faith. The Scriptures also condemn the idea that anyone can merit salvation through works (Eph 2:8-9, Rom. 4:2-4). Good works are the result of Christ working in and through us. We already have salvation through Christ by grace. All works earn for us are rewards and not salvation. The Christianís motive determines whether the good work is worthy of reward in heaven or on earth( Matt. 6:1-4).





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