Importance of the Dictionary
The dictionary defines the words that expound the theology and the vocabulary with which to describe the knowledge of God. Consider the definitions of the word “sin.”
Modern Dictionary (1980) – An offense against religious or moral law; an action that is thought to be highly reprehensible. Transgression of law of God. A vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.
Webster Dictionary (1828) – The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule or rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not actions only, but whatever is contrary to God’s commands or law. 1 John 3; Matt. 15; James 4 (this definition goes for another column in the 1828 Dictionary)
The home is the primary classroom for every child and according to Noah Webster, “Father of American Christian Education and Scholarship”, “Education is useless without the Bible.” When working with young, pliant minds, it is essential for the parent or educator to establish the habit of beginning the search for principles, answers, and solutions, in the Word of God, the Logo! It is the Divine Word that consecrates and inspires the mind and builds intellectual virtue. This is why Noah Webster, Father of American Christian education, wrote the first American dictionary and established a system of rules to govern spelling, grammar, and reading. This master linguist understood the power of words, their definitions, and the need for precise word usage in communication to maintain independence. He researched every word in the original languages to provide the root meanings through his study of twenty-six languages. Eager for Americans to be free from the bondage of old world ideas which were being disseminated through our young nation’s educational system, Dr. Webster laid the foundation for uniquely American education and the American usage of English words in his dictionary that defined each word in light of its meanings and usage in the Bible and in the new Christian constitutional republic.
Each learner develops the habit of research by beginning with God’s Word through the Word Study, in which words are defined in light of how they are used in Scripture. This process gives pre-eminence to the Word of God in deducing the Biblical principles of the subject and clothes the learner’s ideas with truth. This is the foundation upon which the pathway of logical thinking and just reasoning is established. It produces the acquired habits of Biblical scholarship, thinking cause (internal) to effect (external), and precise, lucid communication of ideas to others.
The Model Word Study – Heritage
1. The word is defined and key words in the definition are underlined: heritage, noun (Fr. from the root of heir.)
a. Inheritance; an estate that passes from an ancestor to an heir descent or course of law; that which is inherited.
b. In Scripture, the saints or people of God are called His heritage, as being claimed by Him, and the objects of His special care. (I Peter 5)
2. Key words within the definition are defined: heir, noun (L. haeres.)
a. The man who succeeds, or is to succeed another in the possession of lands, by descent.
b. One who inherits or takes from an ancestor.
c. On who succeeds to the estate of a former possessor. (Jeremiah 49; Mica 1)
d. One who is entitled to possess. In Scripture, saints are called heirs of the promise, heirs of righteousness, heirs of salvation, etc., by virtue of the death of Christ and of God’s gracious promises.
3. Relevant Scriptures are recorded:
a. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. (Psalm 16:5-6)
b. Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:… (Psalm 127:3)
c. And (He) gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel His people. (Psalm 135:12)
d. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage forever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. (Psalm 119:111)
e. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children,, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)
f. That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according t0 the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)
4. Personal definitions written by the student require that the student “relate” the word to his life, for example: “A heritage is property that passes from an ancestor to an heir. God called Israel His inheritance or heritage. In the New Testament God’s people are His heritage. We are called His children, thus His heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ.”
5. Biblical principles deduced from the study enable the student to “take possession” of the word:
a. Eternal life through grace is my heritage as a Christian.
b. God’s Word is also my heritage.
c. As a Christian, I am God’s heir and joint-heir with Christ and, therefore, should govern myself accordingly.
d. As an American Christian, I enjoy the heritage of Christian traditions and a system of law based upon the Bible as my inheritance from y earthly Christian ancestors that provides freedom to live as a child of God and exercise my God-given rights in my daily life.
e. I should guard and nurture my Christian heritage above all other possessions.
f. I have a responsibility to share the Gospel, leading others to their eternal inheritance as a child of God.