ADOPTION. The apostle Paul used the term adoption to set forth a vital aspect of the salvation of every believer (Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:15). According to law of Rome, adoption was a legitimate means to designate an heir. A legal transfer was made from the authoritative structure of the natural father, to that of the adoptive father. The Christian has a relationship with God, whereby he is transferred out from under the authority of the Evil One, and placed under the authority of Another. The believer is made a son of God, and an heir with Jesus Christ. As an adopted son, there can be intimacy of soul (Gal. 4:6).
AGUSTINIANISM. Augustine (AD 354-430) was the Bishop of Hippo, near Carthage in North Africa. Converted to Christ after a turbulent early life of intellectual searching, and moral licentiousness, Augustine became the champion of Christian orthodoxy. He defended the trinity against Arius and his followers (Arians), articulated the depravity of man, and set forth the doctrine of predestination. Salvation was taught to be by grace, through faith alone. Conversion is the sovereign work of God, based upon the grace of electing love. The proper order of salvation is regeneration by the Holy Ghost, followed by faith and justification. A supporter of monasticism, Augustine wrote the first western monastic rule for monks at Tagaste and Hippo. After the Visigoths destroyed Rome in 410, Bishop Augustine pursued the philosophical question of why Rome fell, and eventually wrote, The City of God.
CONVERSION. The term conversion, reflects the response of an individual to the gospel. While regeneration is God’s active work in the creation of a new nature in the life, conversion, or a radical change is the result. Conversion affects the total personality of an individual, intellect, emotion, and will. When Saul of Tarsus met the glorified resurrected Master on the road to Damascus, his intellectual view of Christ changed, as he cried out Lord. His emotions changed, as he asked what to do and then Paul arose to obey from the heart. The Sovereign subdued will (Acts 9:1-18).
DECALOGUE (Gk. deka, ten, logos, word). The “Ten Commandments” written by the finger of God on stone, were given by God to Moses at Mount Sinai (Ex. 31:18; 34:1; Ex. 20:2-17 cf. Deut. 5:6-21).
ELECTION. The doctrine of election sets forth the belief that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, ordained before all worlds were formed a twofold decree, whereby He chose some for life everlasting (election), while condemning others to eternal death (reprobation). In the act of electing some to be saved, no further action needs to be taken. The non-elect are simply passed by (preterition), leaving them to suffer the just, and natural, consequences of their own decision.
FREE WILL. The will of man, in the matter of salvation, is one of great concern. Pelagius and Arminians endow man with freedom in alternate choices; Augustine and Calvinist view freedom of the will as the establishment of the soul in goodness, through indwelling grace sovereigntly imparted. The Scriptures set forth the truth that God’s sufficiency is a person’s only hope for salvation and eternal life, while all individuals are answerable to God for the life, words, and deeds that are lived, spoken, and performed. Free will does not mean that man is autonomous.
FOREKNOWLEDGE. The Bible teaches that God is aware of the actual and potential future (Acts 2:23; 26:5; Rom. 8:29; 11:2; 1 Pet. 1:2,20; 2 Pet. 3:17). The word means “foreordination” (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:2) not simply the acquiring of facts for the purpose of making a decision. God does not come into knowledge. Those whom God foreknew (Rom. 8:29) he also loved and ordained to be conformed to the image of His Son.
GRACE. The grace of God is the glorious manifestation of His goodness toward the undeserving. Grace is favor freely bestowed, apart from merit. Grace is the basis of the salvation of every soul (Eph. 2:8-9). In salvation, the hell bound and hell-deserving soul is saved, rescued from eternal judgment, and given heaven. The Christian must never forget that he is saved, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and allowed to serve God—by His grace (Gen. 6:8, Eph. 2:28; cf. Psa. 139:1).
JUSTIFY. In the act of justification, the legal standing of a soul before God is changed, so that it is declared righteous. When saving faith in God is expressed because of His gracious act of renewing the soul in regeneration, He imparts the righteousness and perfection of Another to our record. The believer shares the life of Jesus Christ the Righteous One. God, as the Law Giver, and Moral Judge of the Universe, is the source of justification, with the power to declare righteous whom He will, and man is the recipient, being declared righteous. The first recorded case of justification in the Bible is that of Abraham (Gen. 15:6), though anyone who comes to God, and trusts, or believes Christ for salvation, will be justified (Rom. 3:28; cf. Eph. 3:2-8).
LIBERTINISM. When used in an ethical context, the reference is a derogatory term, applied to those who act without moral restraint but give full expression to their natural impulses and appetites, without regard for consequences. The term may also be directed toward irresponsible freethinkers, that advocate a philosophy of hedonism.
MANICHEISM. Mani (named Manes or Manichaeus in the West) was born in southern Babylonia (modern Iraq) in AD 216. His aristocratic mother, and perhaps his father Patek, were related to the Parthian royal family of the Arsacids. Brilliant of mind, a gifted writer and linguist, Mani set forth a rival philosophy to Christianity by recording the revelations he purported to receive at ages twelve and twenty-four. Protected by the Persian emperor Shapur I, the cosmic dualism that Mani taught in Turkestan, India, and China, would eventually lead to his death in prison at the hands of the Magian in AD 276. He believed that he was the final prophet of God, who had been sent to complete the work of all others, including Christ.
MOHAMMEDIANISM. Muhammad was born in Mecca in what is today western Saudi Arabia, in 570 AD. Believing himself to be a prophet of God, beginning in 610 AD, Muhammad taught submission to the will of God (Islam, from the Arabic word for submission). The sacred book of Islam is the Koran (Qaraa, to read, to recite). The Hadith, a collection of traditions about Muhammad is also believed to be sacred. There are five basic obligations for a Muslim (one who submits to the will of God). The first is the Shahadah, or profession of faith in Allah. The second is prayer, five times a day while facing Mecca. The third is charity, or zakat. Fourth, all Muslims must fast during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. Finally, all Muslims are to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Muhammad died in 623 AD.
PELAGIUS. Pelagianism is in Christian theology a rationalistic, and naturalistic teaching that emphasizes human free will as the determining factor in human development. It minimizes, or denies the need for divine grace, and redemption. The brilliant and morally austere Roman-British monk Pelagius (c. 355-c. 425) crystallized the doctrine. Pelagius denied the existence of original sin, and the need for infant baptism. It was his contention that the corruption of the human race was not inborn but was the result of bad example and habit. Humans can live a life of righteousness, and thereby merit heaven by their own efforts. True saving grace, taught Pelagius, is found in the natural gifts displayed in humanity, including free will, reason, and conscience. For Pelagius, faith and dogma were overshadowed by the essence of religion, which is believed moral action leads to perfectibility. Beginning in AD 412 Augustine challenged the Pelagian doctrine of human moral autonomy. As a result of his writings, Pelagius was accused of heresy, but was acquitted at synods at Jerusalem and Diospolis. In 418, however, the Council at Carthage did condemn Pelagius and his followers.
PERSEVERENCE. The security of the believer is grounded in the doctrine, that God is able to complete the good work of eternal life that He has begun in every believer (Phil. 1:6). While God preserves His own, they in turn persevere in the faith by doing good work (John 10:28; 2 Cor. 6:17,18).
PREDESTINATE. The word “predestine” literally means “to mark off or choose before”. God chooses those who will participate in His plan of redemption (Rom. 8:28ff).
RECONCILIATION. Sin has brought a state of hostility between God and man, so that man needs to be reconciled to God. The Cross removes the basis of hostility, for the justice of God is satisfied by the work of redemption (2 Cor. 5:19; cf. Rom. 3:25).
REDEMPTION. The word “redeem” means “to purchase.” When Christ died at Calvary, He paid the price that satisfied the demands of God for righteousness and holiness. The price of redemption was the blood (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). Those who have been “sold under sin” (Gal. 3:10; 2 Pet. 21), are no longer “for sale” (Gal. 3:13) for they belong to God (Gal. 4:5).
REGENERATION is the work of God through the Holy Spirit whereby new life is instilled into the soul dead in trespasses and sin. To be regenerated, is to be “born again” (John 3:3-7; 1 Pet. 1:23). The instrument which the Spirit uses is the Bible, which is likened to a hammer that destroys sin (Jer. 23:29), a mirror that reveals it (James 1:23), a sword that slays sin (Heb. 4:12), and a lamp that guides the believer (Psa. 119:105).
REPENTANCE. True evangelical repentance is a deep, sincere, emotional heart felt turning away from sin to salvation and sanctification (Luke 15:7).
REPROBATION. The Bible teaches that those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will suffer a just retributive justice ordained by God. (Luke 16:19-31 cf. Rev. 9:1).
SOCINUS. Faustus Socinus (1539-1604) was an influential thinker among the humanist in Italy who denied the doctrine of the trinity. Forced to flee the Inquisition, the followers of Socinus fled to Poland, where his views found wide acceptance in the Reformed Church of Poland (1565). He came to them in 1579 and assumed leadership of the Minor Reformed Church of Poland. The Socinians adhered to the Apostle’s Creed, rather than the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. They maintained a high moral standard, lived simply, and encouraged pacifism while opposing serfdom. The movement spread quickly for two generations despite severe and violent opposition. Though the last Socinian church in history disbanded early in the 19th century, the spirit and doctrine of Socinus lived on in England and America. The views of Socinus were eventually transformed into Unitarianism.
STOICISM. The Stoic school of philosophy was established at Athens about 300 BC by Zeno of Citium in Cyprus, as a reaction to Epicureanism and its views of life and duty. The Stoics advocated that ultimate good and happiness does not lie in external objects of pleasure, but in the state of the soul itself, in the wisdom and restraint which a person is delivered from the passions and desires that disturb daily living. Wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance are four cardinal virtues. Moreover, since all people are manifestations of one universal spirit, brotherly love should be expressed with a readiness to help one another. Rank and wealth are of no importance in the relational structure of society.
THE FALL. The entrance of sin into the moral universe of God remains a great mystery. How man was able to fall from an exalted state of creation into the most heinous of sins cannot be explained. But that man did fall from grace is the clear teaching of the Word of God, and is reflected by the present plight of man (Gen. 3:1-13).
TOTAL DEPRAVITY refers to the state of man in the sight of God. The doctrine asserts that moral corruption extends to every facet of man’s nature, his will, emotions, and intellect. There is nothing in man that can merit the merits of Christ, or commend him to God for salvation. The natural nature of man is derived from fallen Adam (Gen. 6:5-7; Eph. 2:1-3).