GLOSSARY of Theological Terminology


Abrahamic Covenant - According to an unconditional election, God gave the Jewish patriarch a covenant of promise (Genesis 15:1-21;17).  That covenant had to do with: heir/descendents, physical land, as well as grace, faith, and with Christ (the Seed).

  • Grace - "...but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise"  Galatians 3:18.

  • Faith - "He [Abraham] believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness...So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith"  Galatians 3:6,9.

  • Christ - "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ"  Galatians 3:16.

On the basis of grace, faith, and a coming Christ, OT saints trusted and were forensically "justified" (Romans 4:5) as well as supernaturally empowered to walk morally.  These were "children of the promise" (Romans 9:8).  Further, Abraham was told that "all the nations" would be blessed on the basis of the principle of faith (Galatians 3:8).  However, the Scriptures nowhere state that the blessings would be identical to his under the covenant.

Age - a distinguishable time period.  (More to come.)

Covenant - (More to come.)

Dispensation - a stewardship or administration.  (More to come.)

Flesh, Sin in the Flesh - The term "flesh" (sarx) has a wide range of meanings; however, more in the NT than in the OT.  One must carefully look to the context to determine the precise way the word is being used.  The first meaning is the biological sense: the soft, tissue parts of the physical body of either animal or man.  This is most commonly found in the OT.  Usage in the NT is more diverse.  The term "flesh" can be used to mean: 1) the human body; 2) by synecdoche, mankind in the totality of all that is essential to being--i.e., body, soul, and spirit; and frequently in NT epistles 3) as synonymous with elements or the whole of our ontological inheritance from the First Man--Adam (e.g., Romans 6:19; 7:5, 14, 18, 25; 8:3-13).  A Greek language word tool, such as Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, is useful for confirming the precise meaning of a particular word in context.

Kingdomization - is the theological alchemy (typically using a spiritualizing interpretational method--i.e. hermeneutic) by which the Church is made to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel's Messianic Kingdom.  Under this schema, the Church is made to be the mystery form of the Kingdom (Matt. 13), and the reign of the Messiah was inaugurated at Pentecost.  Not so!


To Israel the Lord Jesus is Messiah, Immanuel, and King; to the Church He is Head, Life, and Bridegroom. The covenants and destiny of Israel are earthly; the covenant and destiny of the Church are heavenly.
As Bride and Consort the Church will rightfully share with Him His reign (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10; 20:6). The purpose of this dispensation is not to form a kingdom by securing subjects of the King: it is rather the calling out and perfecting into His very image those who will be co-reigners with Him in His yet future kingdom.
The Queen is never a subject of the King: her position is to share with Him His authority and glory and to rest in the bosom of the Bridegroom in the palace of the King. (L. S. Chafer, The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, pp. 78,88)
For those who do not agree with Dr. Chafer’s two new covenants view, that position is acceptable. The Church, being in Christ, is thereby in the Mediator, which is far better - she does not need a covenant, new or old.
But for those who would in any way relate the Church to the “spiritual blessings” of Israel’s New Covenant, that is not acceptable. This would be to descend to Israel’s OT/ Synoptic/ Kingdom level. Every one of her members being now hidden with the Mediator in the Father, the heavenly Church has no need for any aspect of Israel’s earthly kingdom covenant.
We are come “to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (Heb. 12:24). We are not come to the New Covenant, but to Jesus the Mediator of it. We are in living union with Him who is the Mediator; that is a much higher thing than if merely come to the Covenant. The Lord Jesus will make this New Covenant with Israel and Judah on earth. --H.H. Snell

To further help in understanding, see The Gospel of the Kingdom Suspended, The Kingdom in Mystery, Then in Power. 

Old Man/Old Self -  The term "old man" has two meanings in Scripture.  From Genesis to Acts, it consistently means an elderly male.  Alternatively, the Risen Lord Jesus Christ via the Apostle Paul introduced a new, theological (soteriological), meaning for the term in Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, and Colossians 3:9.  A few Bible versions translate the Greek "old self."  Some background information is necessary if one is to grasp and accurately understand the term.  Humans are composite beings made up of: body, soul, and spirit. Congenitally, we inherit life (animation) with unique ontological characteristics of the First Adam, who became a sinner at the Fall.  Thus, all mankind are born sinners at their physical birth.  Whether "old man" or "old self," the NT meaning of the term is our entire ontological identity as connected with the First Man--Adam.

Sin, Sin in the Flesh - The term "sin" is used extensively, as both a verb and a noun, throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible and with a wide range of meanings.  In its broadest sense, SIN is that which is morally unlike the character of God.  Sin is the opposite of divine virtue, and is best expressed by created beings as an attitude of rebellion or autonomy to the claims of the sovereign.  Individual acts of SIN are SINS.  Three common definitions which fall short of the full biblical meaning are: 1) a violation of divine law, 2) finiteness, or 3) selfishness.  Sin first entered the created sphere via a powerful, 'light-bearing' angelic being (Lucifer) and spread to lesser spirit beings (angels > demons), then to mankind via Adam and Eve.

Sin Nature - The sixty-six books of Scripture are God's unique and exclusive revelation to mankind.  Through them, the solemn truths regarding mankind's fallen condition (and redemption) are progressively revealed.  And, it is in the Apostle Paul's epistles that we receive the most detailed understanding regarding mankind's sin nature.  For clarity however, we should seek to grasp this truth in context.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)

The first man, Adam, received life directly from the Creator. But in the Fall (his pivotal disobedience), that animating life radically changed from one of obedience toward the Creator, to one of rebellion (sin) and every evil conceivable (sins).

Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God; for neither indeed can it be...  Romans 8:7 (Darby)

Subsequently, Adam's life was passed to his sons and daughters, and in turn to every individual who has ever lived. 

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot [a son] in his own likeness, after his [Adam's] image, and named him Seth.  Genesis 5:3 (NKJV)


Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned...  Romans 5:12 (NKJV)

Theologian Dr. L. S. Chafer defined sin nature as the "[t]ransmitted sin and its effects as manifest in a fallen nature, spiritual death, and depravity," received "mediately from Adam through physical generation."  The nature of our life, beginning from conception in the womb, from fallen Adam is sinful. Our sin nature is not an entity, but rather the life we receive from the fallen Adam, the life present at conception in the womb, our congenital inheritance which has been past from Adam, generation to generation.  This life's propensity or nature is that of "sin"--that which is wholly unlike the moral character of God.  The three most common definitions are each inadequate because they limit sin to: a) violation of divine law, b) finiteness, or c) selfishness.


With the "new birth" comes new life, the very life of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Is the old life gone or changed?  No.  The born-again Christian has two sources of life within, each inherently different.  Christian sanctification, the experience of progressively becoming more "like" Christ, is the process of the new life emerging and the old life from Adam, progressively being supressed.  Romans chapter 7 chronicles the Apostle Paul's struggle to live under law, with two sources of life within.  His experience was designed to teach him (and us) an important lesson.  Law gives strength to the Adamic nature, and for the new nature (life from Christ), law is unnecessary.


Common Misunderstandings


Q. Does the believer have two personalities?


An.  No.  Mankind is composed of body, soul, and spirit (animation).  The soul is the 'seat' of our unique individual personality, incorporating intellect, emotions, and volition.  The new birth takes place in the realm of spirit, not soul.  Christian author Dr. Norman Douty (1899-1993) said it best:

When we say that Christ's life has come into us to displace ours, what do we mean? We do not mean that this life of the Lord Jesus has come in to displace our personality as such. I mean the poison which permeates our personality, the poison of SIN which has degraded and defiled and distorted our humanity.

It is not that this NEW LIFE of the Lord Jesus comes in to take the place of our personality, to take the place of our faculties [intellect, emotions, volition] created by God, but He comes in to take the place of the sinful life [inherited from the first Adam-Genesis 5:3] which is operating in our personality and employing our faculties. The vessel [body and soul] is the same, but the contents are different--the same vessel, the same person, the same faculties, but the contents different. No longer this sinful element, but the very holy nature of the Lord Jesus Christ filling, interpenetrating, permeating.

Our Father is not seeking to abolish us as human beings [as in pantheism] and have the Lord Jesus replace us. He is seeking to restore us as human personalities so that we may be the vehicle through which Christ will express Himself. Therefore you find that whenever God gets hold of a man [or woman], instead of abolishing the personality, He makes it what he intended us to be.

Redemption is the recovery of the man, not the destruction of the man. And when the Lord Jesus in us is brought to the place He is aiming for, there will not be an atom [figurative speaking] of the old life [which flows from the first Adam] left, but the MAN will be left--glorified in union with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Q. Does having two natures automatically make the Christian "schizophrenic."

An.  Absolutely not. First, I believe your use of the psychological term is inaccurate relative to the subject at hand.  Schizophrenia is defined as "a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling and thought--as in hallucinations and delusions."  None of this is true of the born-again believer.  Paul's discussion, in Romans 7:7-25, is of the internal conflict he is having over his own behavior.  Having inappropriately placed himself "under law" as a rule of life, he discovered that a "law of sin," is associated with the life he inherited from Adam.  Under law, the Adamic life is empowered to violate both his conscience and override his volition.  No so-called 'free will' here!

...I am carnal, sold [as a slave] under sin.  For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  Romans 7:14,15 (NKJV)

Some modern-day, psychiatric professionals might rightfully consider the Apostle Paul's internal struggle some form of pathology ("something abnormal" - Merriam-Webster); however, so did the Apostle Paul!  With a heightened sense of moral conscience, Paul did not consider his experience a permanent or acceptable condition--i.e., status quo for the Christian life; rather, he sought and found deliverance!

O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Romans 7:24,25 (NKJV)




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