Posted in Announcements, Books

BACK IN PRINT: The Holy Spirit (Center of Controversy – Basis of Unity)

Originally published in 2007, Mac Deaver’s book, The Holy Spirit (Center of Controversy – Basis of Unity), had sold out and become unavailable (unless you could find a used copy). We are very pleased to say that, thanks to the great work of our friend, Stephen Bradd, the book is available again. It is a slightly updated edition, but essentially the same in content. However, the two formats are new: paperback and Kindle. Paperback copies can be ordered at this link. And, the Kindle Edition can be ordered here. This is the first Biblical Notes book to be offered in digital format, and we hope to make others available in the future.

This book gives historical background to the controversial issue of the Holy Spirit in the church of Christ in the last half of the twentieth century to the present. Deaver’s follow-up book, Except One Be Born From Above, came out in 2013 as a much more thorough study of the question of what it means to be born of water and Spirit. He is currently writing a study guide to the book of Acts, which should be published in 2015. Refer to BiblicalNotes.com for details as they become available, and please encourage your friends to subscribe (free) to the website.

Posted in Announcements

Site Improvements and a Great New Feature

Dear Readers,

If you’ve not been to the site in a while, please come see what is happening. Annoying ads (over which we had no control) are now gone. Recent articles can be found by simply scrolling down the page instead of having to dig through the archives. We are very pleased to announce a brand new feature. There is now a page tab labeled “Audio.” Clicking on that takes you to our new page where audio sermons will be posted. Particularly, we plan to publish Mac Deaver’s sermons, as preached at the church of Christ in Sheffield, Texas. His two lessons from March 30 are already up on “Why Naaman Got So Mad.” Give them a listen, and check back weekly for new sermons being posted. Help us spread the word and, if you like a page or an article, please go ahead and “like” it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. Encourage your friends to subscribe to the site, and they will receive an email every time a new article is posted. Thanks much!

Posted in Announcements, Books

Mac Deaver’s New Book Now Available from Biblical Notes Publications

photoPublished July 2013 in hardcover by Biblical Notes Publications, Except One Be Born From Above has 317 pages, including sixteen chapters and three appendices. Copies can be purchased for $14.00 plus $3.75 S&H ($17.75 total). Please send your order, with payment (personal checks accepted, made out to Mac Deaver) to:

Mac Deaver

P.O. Box 327

Sheffield, TX 79781

Perhaps the best way to introduce the book is to include excerpts from the preface (below). If some of the questions it raises pique your interest (and they should), then you might well enjoy this fascinating study. Having read several times through the manuscript prior to publication, I’ve found it simultaneously simple, challenging, faith-building, and significantly helpful in understanding and appreciating the crucial concept of “new birth” as taught by Jesus. In point of fact, the word “groundbreaking” comes to mind — not in the sense of its being new, but, rather, by way of its clearing aside a few baseless assumptions, making it possible to see better what the New Testament has been saying all along.

Back in 1864, J. W. McGarvey wrote, “I have for some years been convinced that the immersion in the Holy Spirit is not fully understood, and that it needs investigation and discussion de novo. The same may be said of the entire subject of the Holy Spirit and his work in human salvation.” The church has grappled with the topic a long time. Many of prominence have helped us down unhelpful paths that darkened understanding we might otherwise have had, if some unbiblical assumptions had not been drummed into our thinking. Please get the book, read it, understand what it is saying, and, if you are inclined, pass it on to others.   –Weylan Deaver

Excerpts from the Preface of Except One Be Born From Above

by Mac Deaver

Have you ever wondered why it is that some of us have claimed for years that there are certain “measures” of the Holy Spirit when, in fact, the Bible says that there are none? Have you ever heard anyone ever really conclusively prove that Holy Spirit baptism was an exclusively first century phenomenon? Why is it that the cases of kingdom entry in the book of Acts are usually all called cases of conversion, when in some of the cases, conversion does not take place on the same day that kingdom entry does? Why wasn’t Cornelius told to repent of his sins? How is it that he could be baptized in the Holy Spirit before he was baptized in water? And if his baptism in Spirit was to prove that it was time for the Gentiles to enter the kingdom, then why didn’t we conclude that when it was time for the Samaritans to enter the kingdom that their reception of the Holy Spirit was a baptism in the Spirit as well? And what do human hands have to do, if anything, with the reception of the Holy Spirit?

When did the apostles actually enter the kingdom? And when did they repent of their sins? Did they repent of their sins on the same day that they entered the kingdom? Why was Jesus baptized in water? …And why is it that most members of the church have assumed that in Matthew 28:18-20 (when Jesus was giving what we call the “great commission”) even though he was speaking to the apostles only, we somehow reached the conclusion that we are included, but in Acts 1:5 (in the same context) when he was promising Holy Spirit baptism as he was speaking to the apostles only, that we are somehow excluded? What is wrong with such analysis?

And just what was lacking anyway to prevent the kingdom from being established prior to Pentecost of Acts 2? How could Apollos be a member of the church and yet not know that the Holy Spirit had come? When did the apostle Paul receive Holy Spirit baptism? And why is it that for years and years many of us have simply assumed that Holy Spirit baptism is miraculous in its nature without ever seeing any conclusive proof (logical argument) that such is so? How is it that members of the churches of Christ, generally speaking, reached the conclusion that Holy Spirit baptism is not applicable today? …Is it possible that we have failed to recognize a key distinction between baptism in Spirit and power from Spirit while at the same time we elevated the use of apostolic “hands” in Scripture to a position or status that they never had?

And how does every case of kingdom entry in the book of Acts “square” with the words of Jesus in John 3:5? Have you carefully considered the historical transition that was taking place in the book of Acts which transition lasted for about thirty years and which was an exclusively first century phenomenon? And have you ever thought about the precision of the words of Jesus to Nicodemus and what he left out that we, on occasion, have assumed that he meant? Is there any justification in the same context for taking water to mean real water, and flesh to mean real flesh only to conclude that Spirit in the very same passage has to be something other than Spirit and cannot possibly be the Holy Spirit himself?

If you have ever been puzzled by some of the questions here posed, you may want to explore the contents of this book. In this volume, Except One Be Born From Above, such questions will be answered and greater clarity thrown on the book of Acts because of the angle from which it is and should be viewed. It is amazing how many passages we in the past have unintentionally distorted in order to make them harmonize with our incorrect view on Holy Spirit baptism. But once the correction is made, it is absolutely astonishing as to how many more passages can be left alone to simply convey the meaning originally intended.

This is not a book that calls in question the absolute necessity of water baptism, for water baptism has actually been conclusively proven by sound argument in public discussion to be essential to the forgiveness of a sinner’s past sins. I have debated this issue myself, and I am thoroughly convinced of the essentiality of water baptism in order for a sinner to become a saint. The revisiting of the water baptism topic can only reconfirm the truth that we have for years rightly upheld. Churches of Christ have historically advocated and defended the essentiality of water baptism (immersion) throughout our history in preaching, teaching, writing, and debating. However, we have failed to see the nature of Holy Spirit baptism and the full meaning of the one birth of water and Spirit.

It has taken us a while to see the conceptual connection between the various aspects of Holy Spirit doctrine. But from the study in which we have been for a long time engaged on the Holy Spirit, we see now more clearly than ever how passages on the Holy Spirit fit together so harmoniously. And we see the connection between the various cases of “conversion” that we read about in the book of Acts. We have in the past had to unintentionally “torture” certain texts to make them teach what they never said. We did not do this on purpose nor with malice. But because we had the wrong idea as to the nature and purpose of Holy Spirit baptism, we wound up “rewriting” Scripture.

When we get the doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism correct, we can then see clearly (1) the fact of the personal indwelling, (2) the fact of internal Spirit help, and (3) the complete rather than partial nature of the new birth, and even (4) a connection between the nature of the Christian and his prospects in the coming resurrection! So many wondrous truths come together when we reinvestigate the meaning of the Lord’s precious words to Nicodemus: “…Except one be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Except one be born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5).

If the reader can make a valiant effort to put aside preconceived notions and personal prejudices that may have been entrenched in his heart for years and years regarding the topic of Holy Spirit baptism, and if he will demand of me that the conclusions I present are supported by conclusive proof, he has my sincere appreciation. It took a while for others to get me to revisit the topic. I did not want to have to give serious attention to a topic that I was convinced had been long ago understood by most of our brethren. But I was so wrong in thinking that most of us had understood it and that I, therefore, did not need to give more attention to it. I can appreciate the reluctance that some now have in not giving the topic the attention that I am convinced that it certainly deserves.

We will never see the coherence between all the passages on the Holy Spirit that discuss his relationship to Christians unless and until we get our minds correctly settled on the topic of Holy Spirit baptism. It is that fundamental and crucial. Once we understand what Jesus really said in John 3 to Nicodemus, we can then understand the progression of the history in Acts and finally see how all of the cases of kingdom entry as recorded by Luke fit together without a single exception. There are no cases of exception to the requirements of kingdom entry in the book of Acts!

It is my hope that you have a most enjoyable “trip” through this book, and I desire that your intellectual and spiritual journey be most profitable. May God bless your efforts as you restudy this topic and think seriously about what Jesus meant when he said, “Except one be born anew (ASV footnote: from above), he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Mac Deaver

Sheffield, Texas

Posted in Announcements, Books

Upcoming Book by Mac Deaver

We’re very pleased to announce the forthcoming book by Mac Deaver, Except One Be Born From Above, published by Biblical Notes Publications in the summer of 2013. It will contain sixteen chapters and over three hundred pages of intriguing material on the new birth, centering around Jesus’ statements to Nicodemus in John 3. Realizing traditionally held views are not correct by virtue of having been long adopted, this book examines current belief and practice in light of what the inspired text actually does and does not say. Thoughtful readers may find themselves challenged with nearly every turn of the page. Thoughtful critics should find their hands full in trying to undermine or refute the book’s vigorous case. The interest here is not to win an argument, but to understand and defend the gospel, around which all Christians should be united. Stay tuned for more details. At the printer now, the book will, hopefully, be ready to ship to readers as early as July.

Posted in Announcements

Happy New Year

By Weylan Deaver

We wish all the readers a happy new year in 2013. There are many things out there to make us unhappy, if not miserable. There is only One who can make us happy, in spite of the world’s problems. His name is Jesus. He is our only hope, and the world’s. And yours. As he claimed, none get to God, unless they go through him (John 14:6). Jesus also said that his words (i.e. the New Testament) will judge all of us at the last day, including unbelievers (John 12:48). As a new year dawns, let us all determine that the God who made us is the God we will glorify by what we think, say, and do. The New Testament is as fresh and relevant today, as ever. If you’ve not obeyed the gospel (Acts 2:38), we’d like to talk to you about that. After all, living life as a Christian is the only real path to a truly happy new year!

Posted in Announcements, Biography

Malcolm L. Hill (1934-2012)

By Paul M. Wilmoth

     “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel.” These words were spoken by David on the occasion of the death of Abner, captain of Saul’s host. These words are equally applicable today; my friend and fellow-companion in the kingdom, Malcolm Hill, “finished his course” early in the morning, Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
     It was an honor and a privilege to work with brother Malcolm as ministers of the Northeast church. This Sunday, we would have begun our 30th year of labor together. Not many preachers (perhaps not any) have worked together for that long. I have never worked with a kinder, gentler, more encouraging man than brother Malcolm. And even though I could never be compared to him as far as ability goes, he never made me feel any less than his equal. Other than his immediate family, I believe I knew him better than anyone else. I have seen him on the mountain top and in the valley. I have not only served as a fellow-preacher and worker in the kingdom, but have also been a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, and an encourager in every way that I could.
     In 1975 Malcolm founded Tennessee Bible College. It was his life-long dream to train men to be sound Gospel preachers, and ladies to be workers in the kingdom. Most of his life was spent in this work. He served as President of the College until his health deteriorated, and continued to serve as Chancellor until the time of his death. I personally have never known any man to make the sacrifices that he and his faithful companion, Mrs. Billie, made on behalf of Tennessee Bible College and the Northeast Church of Christ. They unselfishly gave up the house they lived in in order to contribute to the College and the church and to keep them going. They did this not once, but twice! He told me that he was advised by many―some good men and good friends―to close it down. But there was never an ounce of “quit” in brother Malcolm. Those of us at Northeast, who saw him preach from his wheelchair for many months, can testify to that fact. We will not soon forget the moving and final service he conducted on January 1 of this year.
     Were the sacrifices he and Mrs. Billie made worth it? Is Tennessee Bible College worth all of the sweat, time, effort, work, and tears that he put into it? I believe the answer is a resounding “Yes!” And I know that Malcolm felt that way. In fact, I have never heard him complain, even once, about the sacrifices that he had to make. And only eternity will reveal how many souls have been saved as a result of those who have been trained at Tennessee Bible College. When you look at the work of men like Joon Key in Korea, Joseph Barr, Kerry Duke, Mark Day, Jason Gann, Freddie Clayton, Mark Meadows, Earl Alverson (and the list goes on and on), the legacy of the college and the good that has been, and is being done, will live on! If one soul is worth more than all the world (Matt. 16:26), then certainly every dime, every drop of sweat, all of the labor has been worth it. Brother Hill was unable to attend our recent graduation, but he would have rejoiced if he could have seen the largest graduating class in the College’s history. And he would have beamed with gratitude if he could have heard Richard Copeland speak in chapel a few days before receiving his diploma from the College. Richard has cerebral palsy and gets around on his bicycle all over Cookeville. He has great difficulty speaking, but there weren’t many dry eyes as Richard spoke that day and gave tribute to brother Hill for his belief in him and for his support. Again, only eternity will reveal all of the good that will have come from the work of brother Malcolm and TBC.
     When I first became acquainted with brother Hill, he was one of the most sought-after preachers of the time. He was a fiery, red-headed preacher who could move audiences, and often had large numbers of responses to the Gospel invitation. He held a Gospel Meeting in the late 1960s for the Netherland Church of Christ in Overton County. The last time I checked, the record attendance we had in that meeting still stands today. He preached to over-flow crowds wherever he went; often the young people would sit on the stage around the pulpit because of capacity crowds. He came a long way from the first time he was asked to prepare and present a sermon in training class at the old Livingston Church of Christ;  Billie Bilyeu, (who was later to become his faithful companion for over 55 years) wrote his first sermon for him, and he preached it a number of times in different congregations, thus developing his love for preaching the Gospel. This also proves that the old saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman,” has a lot of truth in it. He loved the truth and he preached it without fear or favor. He came from the old Willow Grove community and from a stock that did not mince words. Thus when he preached you didn’t have to guess what the truth was, or where he stood in relation to it. During the liberal digressive movement that started in the church around 1970, he fought the battle for truth and soundness. He called upon all Gospel preachers to “stand up and speak out” on the issues. He was tough on those whom he judged to not be leading in the battle against error. Brother Jason Gann stated in the TBC Lectureship this year, “I believe that he is as close to a restoration preacher of the 1800s as I will see in my lifetime.” As history records the events of his life, I believe that folks will realize how true Jason’s comments are.
     Brother Hill loved kids. And they loved him. The kids at Northeast were constantly talking to him and giving “Uncle Malcolm” a hug when they came out following services. They knew that he loved them right back. For many, many years he conducted his “Pew-Packers Class” before services on Sunday evenings. He has often related how much he loved doing the class over the years. There is no way of knowing how many Gospel preachers and their wives, elders and their wives, deacons and their wives, Bible class teachers, song leaders, and Christian workers have graduated from these classes.
     Brother Malcolm served faithfully for many years as one of the elders of the Northeast church as well as her preacher. Brother Malcolm, and a number of other great men who have served this congregation as elders, have led this church as directed in the Scriptures; as a result, the Northeast Church of Christ is known for her soundness and staying with the pattern given in the New Testament. Earlier I mentioned his sacrifices for the College and the Northeast church. One of those sacrifices was in giving of his time for many years without any pay. He did radio work and TV work for many years. Many will remember his “One Gospel Minute” radio spots. His “Questions & Answers” in the local paper was a favorite of many subscribers to the paper. He was a defender of the Truth on every front, having conducted a number of debates. He was a tireless writer and published the Living Oracles at TBC for many years. His book, My God and My Neighbor, has been used by many congregations over the years in teaching personal work programs. He never tired of studying the Bible and continued to do so all of his life. You could tell that in his preaching and in his writing. Not only was he a great preacher, but he was a supporter of all who preached the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”
     And unlike many preachers of our day, Malcolm was not afraid to get dirty from hard work. He did most of the work on his house in Algood, Tennessee, as well as a great deal of the work of building the Tennessee Bible College building. He drove a tractor, bush-hog, dug ditches, mowed the lawn at TBC, all types of repair work, and the list could go on. He saved the College and the church thousands of dollars by the work he contributed at no charge. I remember helping him many, many hours in building his present house in Algood, Tennessee. I was his “go-getter,” and saved him a lot of footsteps. He reminded me often of the day when the temperature was over 100 degrees in the upstairs where we were working, and we would drive nails for a while and then come out so we could breathe.
     Brother Hill has completed his earthly pilgrimage. Like the apostle Paul, he “kept the faith.” And I have no doubt that there is “laid up” for him “a crown of righteousness.” Like the words of his favorite song, he held to “God’s unchanging hand.” His legacy will live on through his son, David, and through the many Gospel preachers he has trained and encouraged. I believe that I speak for many when I say that I am a better person because of the association and influence of brother Hill. A good friend of Malcolm’s, Dallas Wyatt from Foley, Alabama, put it this way, “Tell brother Malcolm that if he goes before I do, to wait for me at the tree of Life.” What a grand and happy reunion that will be!! And so, we are not saying “goodbye,” but rather “farewell my good friend till we meet again.”
Posted in Announcements, Debates

Preview: Deaver-Vick Debate, Indianapolis

By Weylan Deaver

A public, four night debate will take place October 24-27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana between Mac Deaver and Ben F. Vick, Jr., beginning at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern) each evening. The debate is set to occur at the building of the Shelbyville Road church of Christ (4915 Shelbyville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46237).

Ben Vick is a graduate of Georgia Christian School (1970), Harding College (1974), and the Memphis School of Preaching (1976). He has worked with churches in Arkansas and Indiana, and also taught at the Jefferson Christian Academy in Birmingham, Alabama. Since 1980, he has preached for the Shelbyville Road church of Christ in Indianapolis, where he also serves as an elder.

Mac Deaver graduated from Fort Worth Christian Academy in 1965, going on to receive an A.A. degree in Bible from Fort Worth Christian College; a diploma from Brown Trail School of Preaching; a B.A. degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian College; an M.A. degree in Philosophy of Religion and Christian Doctrine from Harding Graduate School of Religion; a Ph.D. in Christian Doctrine and Apologetics from Tennessee Bible College. He has worked with churches in Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Oklahoma. In addition, he has taught on the faculties of the Brown Trail Preacher Training School, Tennessee Bible College, and the Southwest School of Bible Studies. Currently, he preaches for the church of Christ in Sheffield, Texas, where he also serves as an elder.

The proposition for October 24-25 is: “The Scriptures teach that Holy Spirit baptism has ceased and is no longer in the church today.” Ben Vick will affirm. Mac Deaver will deny.

The proposition for October 26-27 is: “The Scriptures teach that when a person becomes a Christian he is baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit.” Mac Deaver will affirm. Ben Vick will deny.

Many, unable to attend in person, are already planning to watch the event live online at this link.

I will be serving as Deaver’s moderator. Follow @WDeaver on Twitter for pics and updates from Indianapolis (or, see the Twitter updates on my blog).

The discussion should be most interesting, revealing, and even historic, since—at least to this writer’s knowledge—there has never been a public debate between two preachers in the church of Christ on this topic. Let us pray for the truth to shine and God to be glorified.

Posted in Announcements

BiblicalNotes.com

Biblical Notes was launched by Roy C. Deaver in May 1965 as a personal tool to teach the gospel. The monthly journal eventually became a quarterly, edited by Roy’s son, Mac Deaver. In March 2010 the last issue was published and mailed to subscribers. Mac’s son, Weylan Deaver, then moved Biblical Notes to an online presence. Our goal is to build a catalog of material from the archives, in addition to publishing new content beneficial to the teaching and defense of the gospel, to the glory of God.