|Volume 23 Number 8 August 2021
Arguing with God is an extremely bad idea! It’s an argument one simply cannot win. Sadder yet, passing from life to death with an unresolved and ongoing argument with God is eternally lethal – a fate far worse than death.
There are several incidents recorded within the Scriptures that essentially represent arguments between humans and God. Beginning with Adam and Eve, things have never fared well for anyone who violated God’s instructions or in essence argued with God (Genesis 3). Eventually, nearly the entire human race was expunged from the face of the earth in the universal flood in the days of Noah and his family (Genesis 6-8).
Later, not even the Israelites – a favored nation with God – refrained from arguing with God. Notable examples during the 40-year wilderness wandering include: complaints on the western shore of the Red Sea as the Egyptian army neared (Exodus 14:10-12); complaints about the availability of water (Exodus 15:24; 17:2; 20:1-5) and food (Exodus 16:2-3, 12-13); the Golden Calf idol (Exodus 32); profane fire kindled by Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2); dissension of Aaron and Miriam against Moses (Numbers 12); refusal to enter Canaan and determination to return to Egypt (Numbers 14:1-4); Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16); Moses’ sin at Kadesh (Numbers 20:10-13); complaints against God that prompted Him to send fiery serpents among the people (Numbers 21:4-9); and fornication and idolatry in Moab (Numbers 25). Failing to follow divine instructions, God responded on one occasion, “…How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:28 NKJV).
The nation of Israel continued to argue with God even after entering the Promised Land of Canaan. First, there was the memorable sin of Achan (Joshua 7). Generally speaking, Israel failed to complete the conquest of Canaan, which resulted in hundreds of years of reprisals by remaining previous inhabitants (Judges 1:27-36). For over 300 years after entering Canaan, during the time of the Judges, Israel repeatedly wavered between obedience and disobedience toward God, for which cause God allowed the former occupants of Canaan to afflict Israel and to require tribute. The circumstances were no better following the Judges and during the time of the three kings of the united kingdom of Israel. After the split between the ten northern tribes (Israel) and the balance of the nation (Judah), sinful arguments with God (rampant disobedience) led to the conquest of Israel by Assyria (721 B.C.) and the overthrow of Judah by Babylon (587 B.C.).
Though today God may not exact immediate punishment upon disobedient souls, nevertheless, the Judgment is coming to all (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Every act of disobedience, either of commission or of omission (James 4:17), is essentially an unfruitful argument with God. It is going to end badly for everyone who enters into eternity with an unresolved argument with God (i.e., acting out disobedience). “…It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; cf., 1 Peter 4:17).
Whatever divine instructions may be entertained, the choice is always to obey or not to obey. Disobedience of any sort (e.g., ignoring, directly challenging, subtraction from or addition to God’s Word, or any other modification of biblical instruction) amounts to an argument with God. One’s complaint lies not with faithful teachers of God’s Word, but truly complaints to any biblically true proclamation are assaults rather against God Himself. “…What are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord” (Exodus 16:8; cf., 1 Thessalonians 4:8).
If God had asked for my preferences, I would have made some recommendations about what constitutes Christian worship. However, God neither consulted with me nor with any other human prior to stipulating the activities and mindset of Christian worship. Christian worship must be “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Had God sought my opinion about church organization, Christian doctrine, salvation or a host of other matters, I might have been so brazen and foolish enough to offer a few suggestions. God did not, though, approach me or any other mortal for guidance on these things or on anything else.
The Bible is God’s final, absolute, complete and divinely inspired Word – His verbal communication to mankind. As communication, it was intended to be understood by the original recipients of the various books and epistles that comprise the 66 books of the Bible. Students of the Scriptures today ought to understand no more and no less than what God expected the original addressees to understand. “…No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Finally, in the Christian Age, all humankind must turn to the New Testament for answers regarding Christianity (Romans 7:6; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14).
Remember, arguing with God is an extremely bad idea! It’s an argument one simply cannot win.
Who Is a Christian?
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
A person does not have to go far in the world today to hear the word Christian being used to refer to a host of people. In fact, the word Christian is used to describe almost anyone who is even the least bit moral. Other times, Christian is used to describe a person in contrast to a Muslim or a Buddhist. Often, our nation is referred to as a Christian nation. However, the way the world defines a particular word is not always the same way God defines that word. Then, from God’s perspective, who is a Christian? As we consider this important subject, please remember, it is not you or me who decides who is a Christian, but God and His Word will clearly make that determination! So, who is a Christian?
Sadly, many in our world today believe they are Christians simply because they believe something about Jesus. However, we can know that this is not the case, for God’s Word reminds, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). “Just believe” many will tout, but they clearly forget James’s warning, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble” (James 2:19).
Some claim to be Christians simply because they are religious. However, God’s Word reminds us of a man who traveled to Jerusalem from Ethiopia just to worship, and he was still not a Christian until he obeyed Scripture (Acts 8:26-39). Others are certain they are Christians because they are moral people. Again, God is clear that morality alone does not make one a Christian (Acts 10:1-2; 22; 48; 11:14). What about sincerity? Surely if someone is sincere, he or she is a Christian, right? No one was as sincere as Saul of Tarsus (Acts 26:9-11; Philippians 3:4-6), and yet, prior to his obedience, he was not a Christian! Some will courageously claim Christianity because they have been baptized, but again, God’s Word proves that baptism alone does not make one a Christian (Acts 19:1-5).
In order to become a New Testament Christian in God’s eyes, one must do what the New Testament says to do. Paul wrote that Christians are disciples and are also members of the church (Acts 11:26). Disciples or Christians are those who have obeyed from the heart a particular “form” or pattern of doctrine (Romans 6:1-18). Christians are not made by just “getting wet.” Christians are people who have obeyed the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). They are those who have been saved from their past sins (Ephesians 1:7) and have been added to Christ’s body, the church (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:22-23). They are those who have heard the Gospel (Romans 10:17), believed and continue to believe in the risen Lord (John 8:24), repented and continue to repent of sin (Acts 17:30), have publicly confessed their faith in Jesus (Matthew 16:16; Romans 10:9-10) and have been immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:48). According to God, these are Christians. Please note carefully that it is not you or I who determine or make the standard! It is God and God alone! Therefore, I must make certain that I do not go “beyond that which is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) when it comes to defining who is a Christian! Simply take God at His Word!
Once a person does what God has clearly outlined in the New Testament, he or she is always a Christian; that never changes. Sadly, what does change sometimes is one’s faithfulness. Just because a person obeys from the heart the pattern God gave, does not mean he or she will continue to obey for life (2 Peter 2:20-22). Every Christian has a daily choice to make! Faithfulness or unfaithfulness! Paul was so clear that disciples (learners, followers) were also Christians and were also the same ones who “assembled with the church” (Acts 11:26). What if a person no longer assembles with the church; is he still faithful? Barring any out of their control issues (e.g., homebound, sickness, etc.) the clear, biblical answer is, “No.” Faithfulness involves assembling (Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 10:25) and encouraging other brothers and sisters (Hebrews 3:13; 10:23-24). Sadly, some believe they can have Jesus without His church. However, the body and the Head are inseparable (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).
We must never forget that God and His Word alone define who is a Christian and who is not. When our Lord returns to judge the living and the dead (2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1), He will return to take faithful Christians home to Heaven (John 14:1-6). Those who have not obeyed the Gospel and those who have turned from that obedience will suffer eternal damnation (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Peter 2:20-22). No excuse will permit a change in those facts. So, then, the question comes to you and me. Who is a Christian? Are you?