Using Correct Terminology (Part 1) - Christian


I. The importance of using correct terminology. 1. In order to understand the scriptures, we must understand the sense of the words of scripture (Neh 8:8). A. Sense n. – III. Meaning, signification. 19. a. The meaning or signification of a word or phrase; also, any one of the different meanings of a word, or that which it bears in a particular collocation or context. B. We must therefore understand what the words of the Bible mean and use them correctly. 2. If we use words incorrectly and mean something different than the words mean, we will create confusion (1Co 14:7-8). A. The words we speak must be easily understood by others; else communication will not take place (1Co 14:9, 19). i. If we don't use words in their proper Biblical meaning, we will be as a barbarian unto those who hear us (1Co 14:11). ii. Barbarian n. - 1. etymologically, A foreigner, one whose language and customs differ from the speaker's. B. When words are used in secondary meanings, confusion can result (Joh 11:11-12). C. If we are to use secondary meanings, it's important to make clear what we mean by explaining what we mean using words in their primary meanings (Joh 11:14). D. Even when we are using words in their primary meanings, it is important to remember to define our terms when we are speaking with people unfamiliar with them. 3. We should endeavor to speak as clearly and understandably as possible. A. The apostles spoke with great plainness of speech (2Co 3:12), and so should we. i. Plainness n. - The quality or condition of being plain, in various senses of the adj. 1. Flatness, smoothness, evenness, levelness. 2. Openness, honesty, or straightforwardness of conduct; frankness or directness of language. 3. Clearness to the perception or comprehension; lucidity of exposition, meaning, or expression. ii. Plain adj. - 6. a. Of which the meaning is evident; simple, intelligible, readily understood. B. When we speak plainly and don't use parabolic or cryptic language, we will be understood (Joh 16:29-30). C. Plainly adv. - 1. In a clear or distinct manner; so as to be clearly seen, heard, perceived, or understood. 4. Other religions use Bible words to mean something different that what the Bible means when it uses them. A. They do this on purpose to deceive people and make them think their religion is in accord with the Bible when in actuality it is not. B. For just one example, the Mormons claim to believe in the "Heavenly Father", "Jesus Christ", and "the Holy Ghost." i. But by those Biblical names they mean three different gods of their false religion. ii. "Latter-day Saints believe that this supreme being will always be their Father and their God and will always look to Him as such. His importance to them can never dim. They believe that He is the head of two other gods—Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost—over whom He will always have preeminence, as He will always have preeminence over mankind, even when they achieve godhood." (The Plurality of Gods, iii. "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." (Heavenly Father, iv. "Latter-day Saints believe that God the Eternal Father is just that—he will always be their father. They believe He once was a human man who lived on an earth but, through following the principles of righteousness, has reached an exalted, perfected, glorified state. Through His own personal resurrection, He attained his own tangible, immortal, and incorruptible body of flesh and bones, so He can be both seen and touched, though people still on earth rarely have the opportunity to know this for themselves." (The Plurality of Gods, C. "Corruption in doctrine works best when it is unfettered by any explicit statement of that doctrine. Error loves ambiguities. It does not desire to state its position clearly, either because it has no distinct position to state, or if stated, it would stand convicted of iniquities in the eyes of all honest and God fearing men." (Martin L. Wagner, Free Masonry, An Interpretation, p.539) D. "When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom." (Confucius) 5. Christians often use incorrect terminology to describe their beliefs. A. The newer in the faith a Christian is, the more often this happens. B. This is in large part due to the influence of errant Christianity which misuses Bible words. C. This can create confusion for both them and others because they are using words to mean something different than what the Bible means by them. D. The purpose of this study is to give the correct meaning of commonly misused words so that we can be accurate in our speech concerning our faith. II. Commonly misused or misunderstood words or phrases 1. Christian A. Christian n. - 1. a. One who believes or professes the religion of Christ; an adherent of Christianity. B. The word "Christian" is only used three times in the entire Bible, and is therefore easy to define Biblically. i. A Christian is a baptized disciple (Joh 4:1) who assembles himself with the local church for the purpose of learning about Christ from its ministers (Act 11:26 c/w Act 2:41-42). ii. A Christian is more than just a man who believes the word of God concerning Jesus Christ, but rather is a man who has publicly confessed faith in Christ and has been baptized and added to a church with which he identifies and assembles. a. King Agrippa believed the gospel of Christ which Paul preached (Act 26:22-23 c/w Act 26:27). b. But King Agrippa was not ready to become a Christian because of what it would cost him (Act 26:28). iii. A Christian is a man who suffers for his faith because he has publicly confessed Christ and was made a companion of the other members of the church who are likewise despised by this world (1Pe 4:16 c/w Heb 10:32-33). C. A Christian is not merely one of the elect, or a regenerate man, or a child of God, or a believer, or a member of a false church. i. A man can be elect, regenerate, and believing, and yet not be a Christian in the Biblical sense of the word. ii. A Christian is an elect, regenerate, believing child of God who has also been baptized into a true church and assembles with it to learn of Christ through its minister. iii. A man cannot know with certainty the exact day he was born again (Joh 3:8), but he can know with certainty the exact day he became a Christian because it was the day of his baptism. iv. Every Biblically defined Christian is a child of God, but not every child of God is a Biblically defined Christian. D. Most people use the word "Christian" to refer to a child of God. i. When such a man says "So-and-so is a Christian," he means that he thinks that so-and-so is an eternally saved child of God. ii. When a man says, "I became a Christian when I was 10 years old," he means he first believed in Jesus when he was 10. iii. When a man says of someone who just died, "I think he was a Christian," he means that he hopes the person was a child of God. iv. Using the word "Christian" in this way is unbiblical and creates confusion. E. Sometimes people use the term "Christian" to refer to a sincere believer. i. When such a man says, "I think he is a Christian," he means that he thinks the man is a sincere believer in Jesus Christ. ii. If we are using the word as the Bible does, we should never say "I think so-and-so is a Christian." a. Whether someone is a Christian as the Bible defines it is not a matter of speculation. b. You don't have to wonder if (or even think that) someone is a Christian ― all you have to do it ask the following question: is he a baptized member of a true church? (i) If the man is a baptized member of a true church, he is a Christian. (ii) If he is not, then he isn't a Biblically defined Christian. c. If you don't know if he was truly baptized and is a member of a true church, then you need to find out if he was baptized by a validly ordained minister in a biblical manner and if the church he is a member of is a true church with a lineage to the church Christ founded. d. If he was baptized by a validly ordained minister into a true church, then he is a Christian; if not, he isn't one. F. Church members should learn to use the word "Christian" in the way that the Bible does. G. We should not refer to people who are not validly baptized members of true churches as "Christians." i. We should rather refer to them as "professing Christians", meaning that they profess to be Christians. ii. They can also be termed "so-called Christians." H. The word "Christian" is never used as an adjective in the Bible, so be cautious about using it that way. i. Organizations, institutions, or forms of entertainment are never referred to as "Christian" in the Bible ii. For instance, there are no Christian colleges, Christian universities, Christian schools, Christian music, Christian movies, Christian companies, Christian dating sites, etc. iii. These organizations or things might be owned, operated, or performed by Christians (although not usually), but they are not Christian things. I. In summary: i. A Christian is an elect, regenerated, born again, quickened child of God who has been converted, having become a disciple of Jesus Christ by believing the gospel, repenting of his sins, being baptized, and being added to the membership of a true local church. ii. A Christian is not merely one of the elect. iii. A Christian is not merely a child of God. iv. A Christian is not merely someone who has eternal life and eternal salvation. v. A Christian is not merely someone who has believed the gospel. vi. A Christian is a person who is all of the above and who has also obeyed the gospel, been baptized, added to a true local church, and continues to worship Jesus Christ in His church and obey Him all the days of his life.
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