I saw a bumper sticker that read, “No Matter What…God Is Not Mad At You!” I couldn’t help but think that someone has a misconception about the nature of God. Now, it is true that God does not get mad like men often do, by losing his temper, becoming flustered, turning red in the face. In the heat of an angry moment, many a man has done a thing he later regretted. God does not do that. God is always in complete control, always takes the right action, always acts in harmony with his infinite nature. If God were ever to get angry, it would be a perfect anger, for just reasons, executed in a perfect way. God does not throw temper tantrums. But, is it possible for God to be mad? A quick word search reveals that the phrase, “anger of the Lord” occurs 36 times in the Old Testament. The similarly worded “wrath of the Lord” is found 14 times in the Old Testament. In the first person, God speaks of “my wrath” 44 times and “my anger” 31 times in the Bible. Speaking of God’s anger in the third person, “his wrath” occurs 20 times. “Wrath of God” occurs 11 times in the New Testament. In Jeremiah 49:37, God even refers to “my fierce anger.” Doubtless there are other passages that express the same idea, though worded differently. Surely this is enough for us to understand there is such a thing as divine anger at a man or mankind. Many want to perceive God as a grandfatherly figure in the sky who is rather harmless and doesn’t have the will to mete out genuine punishment which lasts for eternity. They think like that, not because the Bible teaches it, but because they do not know what the Bible teaches. The New Testament puts us on guard against such delusions. Every right-thinking man wants to “avoid God’s wrath” (cf. Romans 13:5), and living every day as a Christian is the only way to do so. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), “for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The true God both commands and deserves our utmost respect.
November 14, 2011
By John Henson
Some obey the gospel and may think as they emerge from baptism that their lives will become a story of blessing forever and then heaven. Little do they realize that if they live faithful lives in Jesus Christ, they will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12).
In 1 Peter chapters three and four the Apostle Peter deals with how to deal with this reality. In chapter three, the apostle wrote, “Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit,” (1 Peter 3:18 NET).
Christ’s path back to the glory with the Father (Philippians 2:5ff.) was on the road of suffering. If we follow Jesus, then our way to glory is in his steps and also on that same road. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone that suffers goes to heaven. Peter addressed saints who were headed into a “fiery ordeal” (1 Peter 4:12).
Therefore, it is time to arm ourselves. This word, “arm,” is the word “ὁπλίζω,” which is translated “arm” in the New American Standard Bible and “equip” in the New English Translation. The word picture is of a soldier who prepares himself for battle by making sure he has the proper weapon.
Christians need to prepare our minds in the same way Peter described in this passage. The apostle wrote, “You also arm yourselves with the same attitude,” (1 Peter 4:1 NET). In his landmark work, Word Pictures in the New Testament, A.T. Robertson wrote, that “attitude” also means “mind, thinking, will.”
We arm ourselves with the same attitude, mind, thinking and will by building our faith with the word of God (Romans 10:17). There is no other way. If we arm ourselves with the word of God and have the right attitude, we may be confident we can endure suffering and then arrive at our destination in heaven with the blessed Savior.
November 2, 2011
It was my privilege to attend the Deaver-Vick Debate. The debate was conducted October 24-27, 2011, in the building of the church of Christ on Shelbyville Road, Indianapolis, Indiana. Brother Ben Vick is the preacher and an elder in the church at Shelbyville Road, while Mac Deaver is the preacher and an elder in the church of Christ, Sheffield, Texas. Both debaters utilized PowerPoint presentations of their respective materials. The proposition the first two nights read, “The scriptures teach that Holy Spirit baptism has ceased and is no longer in the church today.” Vick affirmed the proposition and Deaver denied it. Each debater had three (3) twenty (20) minute speeches, each evening. Brother Holger Neubaur served as Chairman for the debate and as brother Vick’s Moderator. Brother Weylan Deaver served as brother Deaver’s Moderator.
As a debater, I believe brother Vick is a capable advocate. He is not as experienced on the polemic platform as is brother Deaver, but he did a commendable work in presenting his material. Vick followed the usual line of reasoning, claiming that only the apostles and Cornelius’ household and near friends received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He claimed that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a miracle and since the miraculous has ceased, then Holy Spirit baptism has ceased. In response brother Deaver pointed out that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was not a miracle and, if it is, then every conversion today is a miracle. In my opinion, brother Deaver answered every point brother Vick made. Brother Deaver also pointed out that Vick’s duty as an affirmative speaker was to present a sound argument the conclusion of which proved that Holy Spirit baptism has ceased. It appeared to me that brother Vick had difficulty with understanding the nature of an “argument.” He often asserted certain things about certain scriptures, but assertion alone is not an argument, which Deaver called to Vick’s attention. When brother Vick finally presented four (4) or five (5) arguments in syllogistic form, Deaver pointed out that his first argument was unsound, as its minor premise was false. Each of Vick’s syllogisms was based upon the claim that Holy Spirit baptism was a miracle. So, when Deaver answered the first argument he had, in effect, answered each of the remaining arguments.
The last two nights of the debate involved the proposition which read: “The scriptures teach that when a person becomes a Christian he is baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit.” Now, the order was reversed with brother Deaver in the affirmative and brother Vick in the negative.
In his first affirmative speech brother Deaver reminded Vick and the audience that Vick, while in the affirmative, had six (6) speeches in which he failed to present a sound argument to prove his proposition, therefore he had failed in the debate. Deaver then proceeded to present several sound arguments to prove his proposition. Interestingly, brother Vick did not attempt to answer Deaver’s arguments. Instead, he continued to present more affirmative material and question some of Deaver’s conclusions, but as far as dismantling brother Deaver’s arguments by showing that their form was invalid or that either one or both of the premises were false, this Vick never attempted. Evidently, brother Vick was feeling the pressure of the debate when he claimed that the sinner’s nature is changed at the point of repentance. Deaver pointed out how he doubted that brother Vick really believes that and he likely had never made such a statement in his life, until the debate. Vick also claimed that the sinner receives forgiveness of his sins after he comes out of the water, instead of while in the baptismal water. Brother Deaver pointed out several problems with such a conclusion, to which Vick never adequately responded.
Overall, I believe the debate was a good debate. In my opinion Vick was feeling the pressure of Deaver’s arguments, and this led to him hurting his cause by referring to brother Deaver as a “half-baked Pentecostal.” He also claimed that Deaver is a Calvinist. Deaver countered by presenting a chart, enumerating the main tenets of Calvinism which he denied believing. He also pointed out that he had been scheduled to debate a real Calvinist, but, just two or three days before the debate was to begin, his opponent withdrew from the debate! In my judgment, brother Deaver was more calm and deliberate in his presentations. I also believe he was very able in proving the truthfulness of his proposition.
The debate was well attended. The audience was very courteous in listening to both debaters. The attendance the last two nights was somewhat less that the first two evenings; perhaps the rainy weather and cool temperatures played a role in the decreased attendance. The debate was also watched by several hundred people over the Internet; this, also, may have caused less attendance the last two nights.
November 1, 2011
To those who have, will more and more be given:
The Word explained, with heaven’s windows opened;
The willful blind and shuttered ear will lose
What others heard and saw as joyful news.
Ignorance is a hostile choice, rebellious,
Straining against the reins — supercilious;
No challenge to their sensibilities allowed,
The knowing fools hide in a synchronized crowd.
Breaking ranks requires courage and zeal,
To answer with a bundled life and kneel
Before the Man of truth, who gives the call
To discover more and find in God our all.
From his house spring treasures old and new,
The scribe draws out the hidden into view.
Christ calls the hearing to let the deaf condemn,
To leave the mob, and enter the house with him.