Elder Phillip Conley

This morning, there is not a particular Scripture on my mind, but I have been thinking particularly about the subject of Terminology. Paul exhorted the Corinthian brethren to have good communication, because "evil communication corrupts good manners."(I Corinthians 15:33)

 It is imperative that we understand one another, for if there is truly a difference of theology, we must know it when conversing. My earthly father once said, "I would much rather someone know what I thought and disagree with me than to not understand me and wonder whether they agreed with me or not." So, is there merit to squabbling over terminology?

Isaiah also exhorted us not to make a brother an offender for a word. (Isaiah 29:21) Therefore, what terms should we use? It is the humble opinion of the writer that if we have Biblical language to use, it is beneficial to use it. However, if a man uses language that is not in the Bible (but the principle is) then that is perfectly acceptable so long as the teaching is clear and "gives the sense" so that the congregation will "understand the reading." (Nehemiah 8:8) Therefore, let us look at a few examples of this to find what is acceptable and what is not. In recent years, some have objected to the term "time salvation" since they say the term is unbiblical. While the actual phrase is not found in the Bible, the concept certainly is, for Peter writes about a "now salvation" that comes in baptism. (I Peter 3:21) Some of the objectors to the term are quite fond of the term "sovereign" or "sovereignty. " Neither of these terms are Biblical, but the concept certainly applies to our Lord (even if the term is absent). Other examples include eternal security, total depravity, trinity, and particular redemption. We believe in all of these terms since the Holy Scriptures abundantly teach the principle with different terminology. Another term used quite often is "providence." This word is found in one place (Acts 24:2), and it is not used in reference to the Almighty. However, one need only read through the book of Esther to see how the Lord mightily works His providential hand over His people for their protection and His glory. Therefore, a term is worthy provided the principle is solid and the presentation clearly brought forth. On the other hand, if a man brings terms into the Lord's house such as regeneration, the gospel, and confession with the intent to use these concepts to make children of God then I cannot labour with such. These terms are Biblical, but if the application is man-made regeneration, gospel means, and confession to invite Jesus to be our Saviour, then no matter how Biblical the word the concept is rotten.

Terminology is very needful to converse about the goodness of the Lord. So, may we present the principles of the Bible in a clear manner, and utilize the talents that He has bestowed unto us to the edification of Zion and praise of His matchless Name.