DEFINITIONS—BASIC BIBLICAL TERMS
1. Total Depravity: Man has a nature by virtue of Adam’s transgression in the Garden of Eden that is totally inclined toward sin and by nature chooses the way of sin rather than the way of righteousness because he is incapacitated in his nature toward that end. (Rom. 5:12; Psalms 10:4; Rom. 3:10-18; Job 11:12; Jer. 13:23)
2. Unconditional Election: The sovereign God did elect (choose) a multitude of individuals which no man can number out of the human race to be with Him in heaven and immortal glory. This choice was not based on any forseen faith in the individual because all by nature are depraved and estranged from God. Those elected would be redeemed by Christ, born again by the Holy Spirit, and resurrected at the last day and finally housed in heaven. This was totally unconditional on the part of the sinner. Those not elected were left in the state that they desired to be in by nature. This was all based on God’s everlasting love which has no beginning or end. (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 9:11-13; Rom. 8:33; I Peter. 1:2; John 15:16; Matt. 24:22, 31; Isa. 45:4; Luke 18:7; Col. 3:12)
3. Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption: The redemption from sin was accomplished by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not a general redemption for all mankind but was limited in particular to the elect (sheep). If every individual were redeemed by Christ then every single individual would be in heaven because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. His redemption was for the world of God’s elect as in John 3:16. (John 10:11; I Pet. 1:18-19; Matt. 1:21; Heb. 9:12, 14;
4. Irresistible Grace: Those chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and redeemed by Christ must of necessity be born again. The elect cannot bring about their new birth so God gives irresistible grace that saves from death in sin to life in Christ. The Bible does not use the term irresistible grace; however, that concept is taught in many scriptures that declare God send His Spirit into the hearts of the elect and they have no capacity to either accept or reject that Spirit; it is irresistible just like Jesus’ voice was irresistible to Lazarus when he called him from the death of the grave. He heard his voice that said come forth. And he came forth alive but bound with the grave clothes. (John 10:27; John 5:25; John 3:3,5,8; Eph. 2:1; John 6:63; Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:4-5; Gal. 4:6)
5. Preservation of the Saints; The sole act of God by which He keeps His born again children of God from falling out of that saved state because they are preserved in Christ Jesus. They are kept by the power of God in that saved state until they are presented unto the heavenly Father on the resurrection day. It is impossible to be snatched out of the mighty hand of God. Preservation is NOT an act of the saint by which he holds on to his salvation in an attempt to keep from losing it. It is NOT a struggle with good and evil in which they must overcome the evil in order to be preserved. It is NOT any act of the saint by which he progressively gets better and better until he finally is good enough to go to heaven. (John 10:27-28; Psalm 125:4; Jer. 31:3; Rom 8:35-39; II Tim. 1:12; I Peter 1:5; Jude:24; John 6:37-38; Rom. 8:29-20; Phil. 1:6)
6. Sanctification: Sanctification means purification, purify and to make holy and to consecrate or dedicate. There are various phases of sanctification taught in the Bible. There is the sole act of God by which we are sanctified, purified and made fit for serving God here in the world and occurs simultaneously with the new birth. There is the sanctification that Jesus wrought with His shed blood that purified us in His blood. There is Christian sanctification by which we purify ourselves by being obedient to the Lord’s commandments. (Heb. 13:12; I Cor. 1:30; 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:26; I Pet. 3:15; I Thess. 5:23; John 17:17)
7. Regeneration vs. Conversion. Regeneration is the direct act of God by the Holy Spirit which quickens the sinner from death in trespasses and sins to life in Christ Jesus. It is an immediate work and not a process and the sinner is not involved except as a passive recipient of the new birth. Conversion takes place after regeneration and not before. No individual can act differently than his nature consists of. The individual dead in sin has a corrupt nature and cannot act contrary to that as the scriptures teach that natural discerns natural and spiritual discerns spiritual.
Conversion is an act of the regenerated individual in which he is convicted by the Holy Spirit that lies within and turns to God from the beggarly elements of the world. No unregenerate individual is ever under conviction because he hasn’t yet the Holy Spirit within. When we read of those in the Bible that have turned to God and repented of their sins, we see they have experienced conversion as they have come from one realm to another. Even those who have been children of God for a long time can still be converted if they are under an erroneous impression. Peter thought that no individual could be saved unless he were a Jew and not Gentiles could be a partaker of salvation. But Jesus told Him that He had prayed for him that his faith fail not and when he was converted to strengthen the brethren. (Luke 22:32). Late on there was a gentile named Cornelius whose prayers had come up to God and was told to send men to Joppa and inquire in the of Peter who lodged in Simon’s house. Peter was on the housetop praying as these men journey. He saw a sheet let down from heaven having all manner of four-footed beasts and creeping things and fowls of the earth and was told to “rise, kill, and eat.” Peter refused because nothing common or unclean had ever entered into his mouth as a good Jew. The Lord told him, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (Acts 10:15). As Peter though about this there were already those at the door inquiring for him from the house of Cornelius. He was told by the Spirit to go with them and not to doubt.
He went with them and when he got to Cornelius house they were all there ready to hear what gospel Peter would preach to them. Peter was converted because he now knew that salvation wasn’t just for the Jews but God’s people were among the Gentiles as well. He said, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:34-35).
We read about the people in Thessalonica who had turned from idols to serve the living God; they had experienced conversion. When one comes to the knowledge of the truth as Peter did, they experienced a type of conversion; not regeneration. Regeneration has already been effected by God Himself. When one has erred from the truth, and another had been blessed to admonish that one and has been successful he has saved a soul from death; not eternal death but a death to the joys and fellowship of the Saviour and His saints. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20).
This is the basic difference in regeneration and conversion. Regeneration doesn’t involve the active participation of the sinner; it is the sole act of God in instilling His Spirit within by which he is regenerated. Conversion is the sinner’s use of what God has given him in regeneration to turn to God and His truth from whatever course he may have been engaged in.
8. Two Kingdoms: There are at least two phases of the kingdom of God taught in the Bible. There is the eternal kingdom of God which consists of all the elect family of God that was given to Christ as a bride before the foundation of the world. It consists of an innumerable host that no man can number out of every nation kindred tongue and people. (Rev. 5:9). There is a church kingdom here in the world that consists of those who are in the eternal kingdom as adopted sons and daughters but have heard the gospel, have been obedient to its commands, and having taken up their cross and followed the Lord in baptism and entered into the gospel or church kingdom here in the world. It consists of few instead of many. Many will be in heaven and immortal glory who have never entered into the church kingdom here in the world. (Matt. 7:13-14). Jesus told the disciples that, “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:29-20)