- C -
Call, Called, Calling. That process whereby God successfully summons to Himself those whom He has chosen for His own from eternity past. God called the people of Israel to Himself through His promise to and covenant with Abraham. The word "call" is not used, but the concept is there (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:15-19; 28:10-15; Jer. 31:3; Hos. 11:4). Three words are used in the New Testament. These words are the verb "to call," typically translated in the past tense, as in "He (God) called" -- (kaleō, 2564); the noun "call" (klêsis, 2821); and the adjective "the called ones" (klêtos, 2822). The Apostle Paul made it clear that physical descent from Abraham was insufficient evidence of calling. From the human side, faith is necessary (Rev. 17:14; see also Rom. 4:9-12). Under the New Covenant (as described in the New Testament) God calls to Himself both Gentiles and Jews through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:24). In the New Testament there are two different levels of call. There is a general call that is made to all men to obtain eternal life through faith in Jesus (Matt. 9:13; 22:3, 4, 8). Most humans ignore that call. In terms of the general call extended to all men, many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14). There is an effective call, which is the predominant theme of this definition. The effective call is not based upon human works, but rather upon God's own purpose and grace (Rom. 8:28; 9:11; 2 Tim. 1:9). That effective call includes the process by which God draws to Himself (John 6:37, 44, 65) all whom He has chosen. His call is secured because of His foreknowledge and His predestination (Rom. 8:29-30). In response, the humans exercise faith in Jesus (Rev. 17:14; see also John 10:24-28). In terms of this effective call, none are lost (Rom. 8:29-30; cf. John 10:25-30). It should be noted that the Greek word for church, ekklesia (1577) means, literally, the “called out ones.” See also "Defending Election."
Canon. The sixty-six books of the Bible as we have them today. The word canon means rule or standard. It refers to the standard by which books of the Bible were considered to be authentic and worthy of being included in Scripture. It should be recognized that no group of men or tribunal accorded authenticity to any book of the Bible. Rather, they acknowledged that which already existed, that these books were genuine or canonical. It is God who guided the acceptance of these sixty-six books. Jesus, in an almost cryptic statement, accused the scribes of being guilty of the blood of all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah (Luke 11:51). In a curious way, Jesus was confirming the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament canon. In the Hebrew Bible, Abel’s death takes place in Genesis, the first book, and Zechariah’s death takes place in 2 Chronicles, the last book. Significantly, Jesus did not, in his list of authorized books, include any of the apocryphal books that were in existence at that time. In fact, the twelve (or fifteen?) books of the Apocrypha were never accepted as being on a par with Scripture by either Jesus or the Jews themselves. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament were first officially recognized in a list by the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397. The Apocrypha were not recognized as Deutero-Canonical (Second Canon) Scripture by the Roman Catholic Church until mid-way through the Council of Trent in 1546. The reformers rejected this Second Canon.
Catholic Church. Properly, the Universal Church of Jesus Christ, as opposed to local churches. (The word "catholic" means "universal.") The Vatican Church prefers to think of itself as being coterminous with the Catholic Church, but that is true only if one accepts Rome's premise that its own church tradition is just as authoritative as Scripture (80,81, 82, 83, 84, 97). If one concedes that, one must concede everything Rome believes. But Rome's premise is unsupportable from Scripture, and so a great many of the conclusions the Vatican draws are also false, among them its definition of the Church.
Jesus founded the Catholic (Universal) Church at Pentecost in Jerusalem. The Church Universal spread from Jerusalem to such local churches as the ones located at Antioch, Damascus, Perga, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and, yes, to Rome. But the church at Rome as the place of prominence was a development of later church history, not Biblical history. Nowhere in Scripture do we find that the church in Rome is coterminous with the Catholic (Universal) Church. We cannot even prove from the Bible that Peter ever arrived in Rome! According to Scripture, Rome is just another location of a local church. Rome's doctrine that it is the only true church is a confusion of the Biblical distinction between the Universal Church and local churches.
The Catholic (Universal) Church will be completed at the Rapture. It is composed of all those who have placed their trust in Jesus as the Messiah (John 3:16-18, 36; 20:30-31; 1 John 5:10-13). Of all these it is stated in Scripture that they are baptized by one Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13). It is these, whether now living or deceased since Pentecost, who comprise the Catholic (Universal) Church, whether they associate themselves with the church headquartered in the Vatican, or with Protestantism, or with Anglicanism or with the church headquartered in Constantinople.
Chaos Theory of Origins. The interpretation that the earth as described in Genesis 1:2 was chaotic, cursed, under God's judgment, and even evil. As such it needed to be redeemed. It is my view that in some cases, certain Bible scholars have felt compelled to adjust their exegesis of Scripture to accommodate the prounouncements of evolutionists and their view of an ancient earth. Young Earth Creationists have withstood this pressure.
Third, the account reveals that God is a redeeming God. It records how He brought the cosmos out of chaos, turned darkness into light, made divisions between them, transformed cursing into blessing, and moved from what was evil and darkness to what was holy. This parallels the work of God in Exodus, which records His redeeming Israel by destroying the Egyptian forces of chaos. The prophets and the apostles saw here a paradigm of God’s redemptive activities. Ultimately He who caused light to shine out of darkness made His light shine in the hearts of believers (2 Cor. 4:6) so that they become new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) (emphases mine).
Two paragraphs later, Ross states his interpretation of Genesis 1:2:
The clauses in Gen. 1:2 are apparently circumstantial to Gen. 1:3, telling the world’s condition when God began to renovate it. It was a chaos of wasteness, emptiness, and darkness. Such conditions would not result from God’s creative work (bara’); rather, in the Bible they are symptomatic of sin and are coordinate with judgment. Moreover, God’s Creation by decree begins in Gen. 1:3, and the elements found in Gen. 1:2 are corrected in Creation, beginning with light to dispel the darkness (emphasis mine).
What, in the view of Ross, explains this baleful assessment of the earth? The answer can be found several paragraphs later:
It is more likely that Gen. 1:1 refers to a relative beginning rather than the absolute beginning (Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament. 2 vols. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981, 1:5). The chapter would then be accounting for the Creation of the universe as man knows it, not the beginning of everything, and Gen. 1:1-2 would provide the introduction to it. The fall of Satan and entrance of sin into God’s original Creation would precede this (emphasis mine).
So Ross apparently believes that God created planet Earth at some undated, unspecified, and unrevealed time in eternity past. Satan then fell and brought sin into God’s original universe. Genesis 1:2 describes the chaotic, ruined state of the world as it existed because of Satan’s sin. Genesis 1:3-31 describes God’s reclamation of a world ruined by Satan. What this amounts to is a variation on the discredited Gap Theory theme.
The Chaos Theory of Origins is defective. Words like “chaos” and “evil” and “symptomatic of sin” and “coordinate with judgment” are foreign concepts that have been imported into Genesis 1:2 from elsewhere in Scripture. They do not belong here in this context. The Earth of Genesis 1:1 was not in any sense flawed; rather it was merely preliminary and incomplete, and it was the way God intended to create it at that stage during Day One. Furthermore, the notion that Satan had spoiled the earth as originally created has no Scriptural support. The Scriptures are clear that sin entered the earth after the creation week, not before it (Gen. 3:1-7) and that it was by one man that sin entered the earth, not by one fallen angel (Rom. 5:12). The only earth the Bible knows of is that which was created on Day One of Creation as revealed in Genesis 1:1-5 and Exodus 20:8-11.
(Unfortunately, Ross's interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2 is a blight on an otherwise excellent OT Volume of the Bible Knowledge Commentary. Dr. Thomas Constable, though he, fortunately, does not subscribe to the Chaos Theory of Origins, in my judgment, has been influenced by its terminology.)
For an extended discussion of the creation of the earth as recorded in Genesis 1:1-2:3, go to How Did Our World Get Here?
Charismatic Movement. An off-shoot of Pentecostalism that retains many of the same beliefs as Pentecostalism, but incorporates a much broader denominational base. The common denominator among Charismatics is their belief that a Spirit-filled Christian will manifest some or all of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, including speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, prophecy, apostleship, miracles, and discernment of spirits. Proponents of the Charismatic movment will cite "miraculous" anecdotes as proof of what they believe. Many years ago, a friend of mine in South Australia made the perceptive comment about the Charismatic movement, "Truth has become anecdotal, not exegetical." Opponents of the Charismatic movement are, generally speaking, called "Cessationists." Cessationists believe that the "miraculous" or "sign" spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, healing, and miracle working have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-12). Generally, according to Cessationists, the terminus of the "sign gifts" was the completion of the NT Canon of Scripture. I personally maintain, for example, that if there were really prophets today, some of their utterances should be added to Scripture, for a genuine Biblical prophecy carries the same weight as Scripture. The fact that nothing has been added to the 66 books comprising the Canon of Scripture for almost 1900 years is solid grounds for questioning the validity of Biblical prophecy today, and even of the whole basis for the Charismatic movement. For further exploration of this topic read, "Do Prophets Exist Today?" and "Do Apostles Exist Today?"
Chemosh. The vile god of the Moabites. The Moabites were the descendants of Abraham's nephew Lot by way of an incestuous union of Lot with his elder, unnamed daughter. In collusion with her younger sister, she arranged for her father to get drunk, and then slept with him while he was too inebriated to know what was going on (Gen. 19:30-38). Out of this sorry beginning, the progeny of Moab descended into spiritual paganism. Instead of worshiping the true God, Yahweh, the Moabites fell into idolatry and adopted Chemosh as their god. The Moabites' idolatry with Chemosh is documented in Num. 21:29; Judges 11:24; and Jer. 48:7, 13, 46.
Sadly, David's son Solomon loved many foreign women, and when he was old, these pagan wives turned his heart away from following Yahweh steadfastly (1 Kings 11:1-6). Solomon abominably introduced Chemosh worship into Israel (1 Kings 11:7-8; cf. 1 Kings 11:33 and 2 Kings 23:13). The worship of Chemosh included child-sacrifice (2 Kings 3:21-27). Other instances of child-sacrifice include Isa. 57:5 and Ezek. 20:31, but both instances are uncertain as to which false god is in view.
This seems particularly cruel, but a great many Americans and other people in the west are equally barbaric. We murder our own unborn children as a sacrifice to the "God of Personal Convenience." As of this writing we Americans have murdered nearly 57 million of our unborn children since 1973, the landmark decision of Roe v Wade. Unbelievably, the deluded justices of the US Supreme Court found, in the Constitution of the U. S., that women have the inalienable right to murder their own babies.
Cherub, Cherubim. An order of angels (messengers) apparently specializing in serving in the presence of God. This appears to be true in accordance with the fact that Cherubim were chosen by God to be placed on the Ark of the Covenant, where God's presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies. It appears to be true in that Cherubim were associated with the presence of God in the visions of Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:4-28; 10:1-11:25). It may also be true in that the four living beings around God's throne in Rev. 4:1-5:14 may be cherubim. But we cannot argue definitively that they are. See A Selective Comparison of Angelic Beings.
Cherub, the singular, and Cherubim, the plural, are the transliterations of the Hebrew text. Similarly, in its lone occurrence in the NT (Heb. 9:5), “cherubim,” cheroubím, better, cheroubín, plural of cheroúb (5502), is a transliteration of the plural of the Hebrew kerûb (3742).
Cherubim guarded the way to the tree of life after man had sinned (Gen. 3:24).
Satan, God’s arch enemy, was evidently a privileged cherub who, before he sinned, walked among the stones of fire on the holy mountain of God, presumably the heavenly Mount Zion, on which God’s temple and throne are situated (Ezek. 28:14). After the cherub’s sin, God cast him out of the heavenly mountain (Ezek. 28:16).
Models of two two-winged cherubim adorned the mercy seat, the covering of the ark of the covenant (Exod. 25:17-22). God’s presence would dwell there, enthroned above the cherubim (Num. 7:89; 1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; Psa. 80:1; 99:1). Solomon constructed two gigantic cherubim to preside in the holy of holies in his temple. These cherubim were each about fifteen feet tall, and, with wings outstretched, were each about fifteen in breadth (1 Kings 6:23-28).
Evidently cherubim can have different forms. Ezekiel saw a vision of the glory of God sitting upon a mobile platform mounted on intersecting, multi-directional wheels, powered by four angels called cherubim (Ezek. 1:4-28; 10:14, 20). Each cherub possessed four wings. Each possessed the faces of a man, a lion, a bull, and an eagle.They could tolerate fire and lightning. In what ranks as one of the saddest passages of Scripture, Ezekiel saw these same “wheel cherubim” escorting the glory of God out of Jerusalem (Ezek. 10:3-11:23). It will not again return until the construction of Ezekiel's Millennial Temple (Ezek. 40:1-43:12). See Angelology, the Study of Angels.
Christ. The English translation of the Greek term (Christos) for “Anointed One.” In the New Testament, it is made clear that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Anointed One. Before His incarnation, Jesus existed as God’s eternal Word (Logos), or Message (John 1:1, 14; Rev. 19:13). As such, He appeared infrequently as the Messenger of Yahweh (Angel of the LORD) in Old Testament times. Always Deity, He was also incarnated as Man at His birth in Bethlehem (John 1:14, 18). But it was not until Jesus’ baptism that God the Father anointed God the Son with His Holy Spirit, making Jesus the Anointed One, the Christ (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-12; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34). In the Old Testament there were those who were anointed with oil by men, at God’s direction, to become prophets, priests, or kings (Ex. 28:41; 29:7, 21, 29; 30:30; 40:13-15; Lev. 8:12, 30; 10:7; 1 Sam. 9:27-10:1; 16:1-14; 1 Kings 19:15-16). God anointed Jesus to be all three, Prophet, Priest, and King. As Prophet, Jesus verbally proclaimed God’s messages to the Jewish people. Many of His words are contained in the four Gospels, and in the Book of Revelation. By these He continues to speak through the written Word to both Jews and Gentiles. He also authorized His apostles to be His spokesmen (John 14:25-26; 16:13). Thus, the New Testament is in a sense a record of Christ’s pronouncements as Prophet. As Priest, Jesus offered Himself up as the perfect Lamb of God (Isa. 53:7; John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6, 8, 12; 6:1; 13:8) . As our great high priest (Psa. 110:4; Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14; 5:5, 10; 6:20; 7:26-28; 8:1-3; 9:11-12; 10:21) Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), and He intercedes on behalf of believers at the throne of grace (Rom. 8:33-34; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2). As King, Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of the Father. But in a certain sense He lacks portfolio (a British term) in the sense that He awaits the Kingdom over which He is destined to rule as the only legitimate descendant of David. Jesus will one day, as King in Jerusalem, have law creation (legislative), law administration (executive), and law enforcement (judicial) responsibilities. Jesus will one day as King sit in judgment over all mankind (John 5:22-30; Rev. 20:11-15). See a more extensive discussion of Jesus as the Christ.
Church. The name corporately identifying believers in Jesus beginning with the Day of Pentecost and ending at the Rapture. In this sense, we are speaking of the Church Universal, or, the Catholic Church (which in WordExplain is to be distinguished from the Vatican Church). The Greek word ecclesia means, literally, “called out ones.” The Church is an entity distinct from the nation of Israel. Israel was the focus of God’s plan to redeem the world beginning with Abraham and especially with the giving of the Law to Moses. But when Israel rejected its Messiah, God judged the nation with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70. God then dispersed the nation all over the world. In the meantime God had made the Church His focus for redeeming the world. The Church includes all who believe in Jesus, regardless of whether they are Jewish or Gentile. The New Testament makes a distinction between the Church Universal (all believers in Jesus) and a local church, identified by a geographical term. Sometimes that entity was a region (such as Galatia), but more often a city, such as Thessalonica or Rome. It should be noted that God’s program for redemption through the Church is finite in regard to time. When the Church is raptured to heaven, God will once again make Israel the focus of His program. There has always been a remnant of Jewish people who believe in Jesus as their Messiah. When Christ returns, He will gather together from all over the world believing Jews. With them He will begin His Kingdom. Israel will once again be the focus of God’s worldwide program.
Church Age. The time during which the Church exists here on earth. On the one hand this time period is bounded by the start of the Church on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers and baptize them into the Body of Christ; and on the other hand, it is bounded by the Rapture, which transports the entire Church, body and soul to heaven. There will come a time when the last person says yes to Jesus, and the Church will be complete. At some time after that – God knows when, the Church will be called up to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13-18). With the Church off the scene on earth, God will resume His prophesied program with Israel. God's predicted program with Israel will commence with Daniel's 70th Week, initiated by a future ruler of the Revived Roman Empire signing a seven-year peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:26-27). This period also includes the cataclysmic Tribulation period. See The Present Church Age for a fuller discussion.
Church Fathers. The term “Church Fathers” refers to church leaders in the decades and centuries after the deaths of the Apostles. Church Fathers are divided into three groups, the Apostolic Fathers, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and the Post-Nicene Fathers. The Apostolic Fathers had contact with the Apostles. This group includes Linus (2 Tim. 4:21), Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp. The Ante-Nicene Fathers were church leaders prior to the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Examples include Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr. The Post-Nicene Fathers included Augustine, Chrysostom, Eusebius, Jerome, and Ambrose.
Circumcision. The obligatory sign of the covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17). The foreskin of all males was to be “cut around” as a sign that the male was an active participant in the covenant. Predictably, many Israelis would rely on the circumcision of the flesh, whereas God was even more concerned about a corresponding circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2:25-29).
Communion. See the Lord’s Supper.
Confession. Christians who sin are commanded to confess their sins to God (1 John 1:9). To confess (from homologeo) means to say the same thing about my sin that God does. There are two types of forgiveness for Christians, legal forgiveness and family forgiveness. The Scriptures are clear that faith in Christ accesses eternal forgiveness and eternal life (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; Acts 13:38-39). There is no condemnation (judgment) for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). But a Christian who sins falls out of fellowship with His heavenly Father. Confession of sin is necessary for a believer to be restored to fellowship (1 John 1:3, 6-9).
Conscience. That sense of moral “oughtness” found within every human. One’s conscience guides him in making “correct” moral choices (Rom. 2:15). The human conscience (sunedeisis) is only as good as the information on which it operates. Faulty information inevitably results in a faulty conscience. Practicing evil can defile a conscience (Tit. 1:15).
Consubstantiation. Consubstantiation is the belief that Christ’s body and blood are in with, and by the bread and wine used in the Lord’s Table (also known as Communion or the Eucharist). It differs from transubstantiation, which holds that the bread and wine are actually transformed into Christ’s body and blood during the sacrament. In broad terms, consubstantiation is a Lutheran view; transubstantiation a Roman Catholic view. The Baptistic view is that the bread and wine (usually grape juice is substituted) memorialize Christ’s death. What is in question is the interpretation of Jesus’ words: He said of the bread He offered His disciples at the Last Supper, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matt. 26:26); He said of the cup which He offered them, “This is my blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:28). Catholics take these words literally; Lutherans almost literally; and Baptistic adherents take them to be metaphorical.
Conversion. The act of committing to believe in Jesus Christ. Other terms include accepting salvation, becoming saved, being born again, accepting Christ as one’s Savior. Conversion emphasizes the action of the believer while salvation emphasizes the accomplishment of God. Faith in Jesus Christ is the sole condition for salvation. Repentance is to be understood as changing one’s mind about who Jesus is. An awareness of sin and personal need are motivations for becoming saved. Many people are unaware of their own sinfulness and unaware of the terrible consequences of sin. Becoming aware of these things helps motivate people to place their faith in Jesus instead of their own “goodness” or some method of working in order to gain merit. The importance of faith in Jesus can be demonstrated in that John’s gospel incorporated 98 references to believing, but not a single reference to repentance.
Conviction. The act of the Holy Spirit of conveying a sense of guilt to people so they repent of their evil and turn to God through Jesus in repentance and faith. John 16:8 is the only NT passage which uses the verb "convict" (elegchō, 1651) with the Holy Spirit implied as its subject. In John 16:5-15 Jesus revealed that He was departing from His disciples / apostles (John 16:5). But it was to their advantage that He departed, for then He would send them the "Helper" (Parakletos, 3875, "one called alongside to help"). The NASB footnote gives further possible translations, "Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor" (John 16:7). When the Holy Spirit arrived after Jesus' departure, He would "convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8). The primary sin of which the Holy Spirit will convict the world is the failure to believe in Jesus (John 16:9). The Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness in the sense that Jesus has been vindicated as being righteous, inasmuch as He would successfully complete His work of paying for man's sin, He would be resurrected, and He would ascend to heaven, being welcomed by God to a place of authority, mission accomplished (John 16:10)! The Holy Spirit would convict the world in regard to coming judgment inasmuch as Jesus' successful death and resurrection would release men from the power of Satan, sin having been atoned for and death having been defeated for all believers (John 16:11). Though this passage does not say so, I believe the Holy Spirit also has a convicting ministry for believers. Through the preaching of the Word of God (2 Tim. 4:2), or through the reproof of a brother (Matt. 18:15; 1 Tim. 5:20; Tit. 1:13; 2:15), the Holy Spirit convicts us believers of specific sins. The goal is for us to repent, confess our sins, and be cleansed for renewed joy and service (1 John 1:8-9).
Covenant. An agreement between one man and another or between God and man. Another word for covenant is testament, the name used in both the Old and New Testaments. There are various levels of Biblical covenants, including a covenant of salt (Lev. 2:13; Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5) and a covenant of blood (Gen. 15:7-18; Ex. 24:8; Zech. 9:11; Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 9:18, 20; Heb. 10:29; Heb. 12:24; 13:20). A blood covenant is the most serious commitment. Typically ratified by the shedding of animal blood, the significance was that, if either party violated the covenant, his own life could be forfeited. Jesus ratified the New Covenant with His own blood!
The greatest covenant is the New Covenant, an Everlasting Covenant in which God guaranteed to Israel hearts of flesh that will respond to Him and accept His forgiveness (Jer. 31:31-37; 32:36-44; 50:4-5; Isa. 55:1-3; 61:7-8; Ezek. 11:16-20; 16:60-63; 36:22-38; 37:21-28); and in which God would provide forgiveness and eternal life to any human participants regardless of their nationality by virtue of their faith in the death of His own Son (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 8:6-13; 9:11-28; 12:24; 13:20-21). This covenant is a blood covenant, and in it, Jesus was the Lamb of God whose blood was shed to atone for the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Man participates in the New Covenant by faith in Jesus and His blood (Rom. 3:24-26).
Other covenants in the Bible include God’s Covenant with Noah to spare him and his family from the Great Flood (Gen. 6:13-18);
God’s Everlasting Covenant with Noah never again to destroy the earth by water (Gen. 9:8-17);
God’s Everlasting Covenant with Abraham promising him a land, a people, and a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:7, 19; 1 Chron. 16:15-18; Psalm 105:6-11);
God’s Covenant with Abraham’s descendants, Israel, promising to be their God and protector provided they would keep His commandments (Ex. 19:1-8; 24:1-11). This is a conditional covenant. We call it the Mosaic Covenant, or more frequently, "the law of Moses" (Josh. 8:31-32; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chron. 23:18; Ezra 3:2; Neh. 8:1; Dan. 9:11; Mal. 4:4; Luke 2:22; John 7:23; Acts 13:39; 1 Cor. 9:9; ; Heb. 10:28); or simply, "the Law" (Matt. 7:12; Luke 16:16; Acts 13:15; Rom. 3:21. It is later referred to as the Old Covenant ( 2 Cor. 3:14; Heb. 8:13; 9:1) because it was superseded by the New Covenant);
and God’s Eternal Covenant with David guaranteeing Him a descendant with an eternal house, eternal throne, and eternal kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12-16; 23:5; 1 Chron. 17:11-14; Psalm 89:3-4, 27-29, 34-37; Luke 1:26-35).
Covenant Theology.  The system of theology that provides a grid for interpreting Scripture through three presumed Covenants, not one of which is explicitly stated in Scripture. Covenant Theologians insist these three covenants are implied by Scripture, but even they would agree that not one of these three covenants is specifically identified in Scripture. These three covenants are the underlying Covenant of Redemption (CR); the Covenant of Works (CW); and the Covenant of Grace (CG).
The Covenant of Redemption logically precedes the other two covenants. "The CR is a covenant made among the three Persons of the Trinity to elect, atone for, and save a select group of individuals unto salvation and eternal life." I do not question the accuracy of the plan of salvation specifided in the CR, but I deny that there is a "Covenant of Redemption." To say there is is to say more than the Scriptures say.
The Covenant of Works. "From a redemptive historical perspective, the covenant of works is the first covenant we see in Scripture." Covenant Theology (CT) presumes the existence of a covenant of works based upon the language of Genesis 2:16-17. If Adam and his descendants were to obey God, God would reward them with eternal life. "Life is the reward for obedience, and death is the punishment for disobedience." This," says CT, "is covenant language." But alas, no "Covenant of Works" is ever clearly stated in Scripture. I agree that God promised blessings and long life for obedience, and He promised cursings and catastrophe for disobedience (Deut 27:1-28:68). But God never promised Adam a reward of eternal life if he obeyed. He simply put a test in Adam's pathway and warned him that if he disobeyed, he would die. He already was alive in every sense of the word. But when Adam sinned, he instantly suffered Spiritual Death. Moreover the proces of Physical Death instantly began to work in his body and in the world and universe. In the end, it would take Adam 930 years to die completely in a physical sense. But death was inevitable. So an imagined CW cannot really be supported by Scripture. It is far more accurate to say that salvation has always been by grace apart from works. I am not saying that works are unimportant. I am saying that works are the result of salvation by grace, not the means of salvation by grace. God's salvatory dealing with Abraham is simple, yet profound. God told Abraham he would have as many descendants as the stars of the heavens. Abraham believed God, and God credited it to him for righteousness (Gen. 15:1-6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23). That has always been the way of salvation. The content of the faith may change from era to era, but not the coin of faith.
The Covenant of Grace is the third covenant that God implemented, according to CT. God did so when Adam failed to keep the CW. "In the CG, God freely offers to sinners (those who fail to live up to the CW) eternal life and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We see the provision for the CG right after the fall when God prophesies the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15." CT holds that the unconditional covenants are all outworkings of this presumed CG. But wouldn't we do better simply to take the Biblical Covenants that are mentioned as they are, and not attempt to force them into a pre-conceived arrangement that has no basis in the facts of the language of Scripture? A phantom covenant is still a phantom covenant, no matter how fiercely one tries to explain its existence. The CG is flawed in that it maintains all believers throughout all ages are saved "through faith in Jesus Christ." I maintain the facts speak otherwise. Abraham, as we have already stated, was saved because he believed God was going to give him as many descendants as the stars of heaven (Gen. 15:1-6). That doesn't sound much like believing in Christ.
There is a better way of looking at all of history. That is by using a term that the Bible does employ. The Greek word is oikonomía (3622). The KJV translated it "dispensation," and three times, "stewardship." The NASB translates it "management." in Luke 16:2, 3, 4; "stewardship" in 1 Cor. 9:17 and Eph. 3:2 and Col. 1:25; "administration" in Eph. 1:10; 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:4. An oikonomia, in broad terms, is God's arrangement for working with different peoples at different times. By focusing on the word oikonomia, we can understand that God works in different ways with different peoples at different times.
One final comment. CT theology objects to others' accusing their proponents of believing in "Replacement Theology." In his words, the writer of this article states the following:
Unlike Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology does not see a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church. Israel constituted the people of the God in the OT, and the Church (which is made up of Jew and Gentile) constitutes the people of God in the NT; both just make up one people of God (Ephesians 2:11-20). The Church doesn’t replace Israel; the Church is Israel and Israel is the Church (Galatians 6:16). All people who exercise the same faith as Abraham are part of the covenant people of God (Galatians 3:25-29).
For me that is a major problem prohibiting my subscribing to CT. The writer's statement simply does not square with the facts of Scripture. If we go to the very end of time as we know it, there will be at least three distinct peoples of God inhabiting New Jerusalem and New Earth. In the first place, the eternal capital city is not known as New York or New Delhi. It will be known eternally as New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 10). You can't get more Israeli than that! Moreover, there will be twelve gates granting access to this gargantuan city. Each gate will bear the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 21:12). This city is the capital city of redeemed Israel of all ages. We also know that New Jerusalem will be the eternal home of the Church, the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7-9). This can be substantiated by the fact that the twelve foundations of the city are each inscribed with the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14). There will be great numbers of Gentiles (nations) living upon New Earth who will have 24-hour a day access to the eternal city. These "nations" will be comprised of redeemed individuals who are neither part of Israel, nor part of the Church (Rev. 21:24, 26; 22:2). A consistently literal interpretation of Scripture, one that notes the details of Scripture, yields the result of three eternal peoples of God, each distinct from one another. The results of Covenant Theology, while impressive to those who hold it, do not sway those who consistently take the Bible literally.
Creation. The Biblical account of the origin of the universe. Genesis 1:1-2 does not indicate by which method God created ex nihilo the earth and the heavens in His initial act on Day One (Gen. 1:1-5). He explicitly spoke into existence light on Day One (Gen. 1:3); the expanse (atmosphere) on the Second Day (Gen. 1:6-8); dry land and vegetation on the Third Day (Gen. 1:9-13); sun, moon and stars on the Fourth Day (Gen. 1:14-19); fish and fowl on the Fifth Day (Gen. 1:20-23); and land animals and man on the Sixth Day (Gen. 1:24-31). According to Hebrews 1:3 (ESV) the universe was created by the word of God. Genesis 1:1-2:3 reveals that God created the heavens, the earth, and everything that is in them in six literal days, not over a vast period of time. God's command regarding the Sabbath Day confirms this (Exod. 20:8-11).
Creation by definition precludes the doctrine of uniformitarianism, a philosophical pre-requisite for the flawed theory of evolution. Since God created a fully-formed, fully functioning universe in six literal days, the world that existed on the seventh day makes uniformitarianism utterly impossible. God spoke everything into existence in six days. There is nothing uniformitarian whatever about that. The processes at work in our world today cannot begin to explain adequately how everything began. All present processes can do is explain how that which began is operating at the present time and how it is decaying. The Big Bang is an irrational and unscientific attempt to explain how things began. Even if the Big Bang were true (and it is not), the Big Bang is not a uniformitarian process. No explosion ever observed creates things. Every observed explosion destroys things.
Creation by definition defies the ability of man to date entities by modern radiometric dating devices. Why is that? It is because Creation demands an appearance of age discrepant with actual age. Consider this. On the seventh day an adult male and female existed on a fully-functioning earth. How old would Adam and Eve have looked? They would have appeared to be in the prime of life, say 25 years of age. The apparent age was 25, but their actual age was less than a day. Consider this. Fully mature oak, walnut, maple, and fruit trees would have abounded, the latter with fruit fully formed. The trees would have looked twenty to forty years old, but they would actually be only four days old, having been created on the third day. And if Adam had chopped one down, there would have been no growth rings! God created the stars for man's benefit, for signs, seasons, days and years (Gen. 1:14). If they were to benefit man, God would have created them with their light rays alreadying touching earth. On the seventh day, they would be only three days old, but if Adam could have taken a Hubble Telescope out into space, he would have been able to view stars that appeared to be untold millions of light-years away, just as we can today. There was a discrepancy between the apparent age of the stars and their real age. One cannot have creation without there being a discrepancy between apparent age and actual age. The same is true in the New Testament, by the way. When Jesus created wine out of water, the newly created wine would have been only minutes old when first drunk. But its apparent age would have been many years! The headwaiter acknowledged that the bridegroom had kept the best wine until now (John 2:1-11)! You cannot have a miraculous creation without also having a discrepancy between real age and apparent age.
Creation is the only explanation of the origin of the universe that fits both the Bible and the observed facts (not the presuppositions or theories) of modern evolutionary science. The intricate balance of the earth and its systems, the place of the privileged planet in the universe, and the mind-boggling complexity of cells all doom an evolution of the existing order by random chance. Only the actions of a supreme, omnipotent Being can account for it. This the Bible unequivocally affirms (Gen. 1-2; Ex. 20:11; Job 38:4; Isa. 42:5; 45:18; John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 4:11).
Creed. A formal statement of what one believes. There are several fairly concise statements of belief in the Christian Church. These include the Apostles’ Creed, written some 150 years after the deaths of the Apostles, the Nicene Creed (A.D. 325), and the Athanasian Creed, written sometime in the fourth century A.D. All three are, for the most part, acceptable statements of faith, with certain caveats as noted in the links above. Many churches have their own doctrinal statement, some more and some less inclusive. The more specific a doctrinal statement is, the more exclusive it becomes, meaning that some Christians somewhere will disagree with it. WordExplain is comfortable with the doctrinal statement of Dallas Theological Seminary. Here is the author’s own personal doctrinal statement, modified from the Dallas Seminary statement.
Cush. Proper name for Cush (Kush, 3568), son of Ham, son of Noah (Gen. 10:6, 7; 1 Chron. 1:8, 9). Cush was the father of the sinister, powerful Nimrod (Gen. 10:8; 1 Chron. 1:10). The descendants of Cush (Gen. 10:6-12) populated the ancient country of Cush (Gen. 2:13), probably located somewhere in what later became termed as Mesopotamia. The original land of Cush is to be distinguished from its later usage, which is tied in with the land along the upper reaches of the Nile River, the region that is translated "Ethiopia" (Esther 1:1; 8:9; Job 28:19; Psa. 68:31; 87:4; Ezek. 29:10; 30:4, 5, 9; 38:5). It is likely that descendants of Cush emigrated from Mesopotamia to Ethiopia, which was then characterized as the land of Cush.
An individual descendant of Cush was known as a Cushite (singular of Kushi, 3569). The following references to Joab's courier identify him as "the Cushite": 2 Sam. 18:21, 22, 23, 31, 32. Why the editors of the NASB did not translate the singular occurrences of Kushi as "the Ethiopian" in 2 Samuel 18 I do not know. They did translate singular instances of Kushi as "the Ethiopian" in Jer. 13:23 (referring to the [apparently dark] color of the Ethiopian's skin); in reference to a specific, named person, Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian, a eunuch (Jer. 38:7, 10, 12; 39:16); and in reference to "the sons of Ethiopia" (Amos 9:7). When the same word (Kushi) appears in the plural, they translate it as "Ethiopians" (2 Chron. 12:3; 14:9, 12, 13; 16:8; 21:16; Dan. 11:43; Zeph. 2:12).
BibleAtlas.org identifies Cush as a district, near the beginning of Biblical history (Gen. 2:13), as being located "near the head of the Persian Gulf." In view of the other rivers identified in Eden (Gen. 2:10-14), that conclusion is as good as any. I would caution, however, that the topography of early earth was incredibly altered by the global deluge of Noah's day (see Dr. Walt Brown's book on the subject). It is unwise to be dogmatic. In any event the country identified as "Cush/Ethiopia" in later Bible history was far removed from modern day Iraq. "[T]he term was often used not only to include what is now known as Nubia and the Sudan (Soudan), but all the unknown country farther West and South, and also at times Northern, if not Southern, Abyssinia." As suggested previously, a likely emigration of Cushites from Mesopotamia to Africa may well account for the difference in geography.
 (This glossary entry is indebted largely to the article "What is Covenant Theology?", which is sympathetic toward Covenant Theology and which appears on the website of "GodQuestions.org" only for illustrative purposes.
If you have difficulty locating a file, please contact the Web Master.
Updated December 23, 2016
Background and Button Image Credit