Vitriol :: by Grant Phillips

What an interesting word.

WIKIPEDIA describes vitriol as: “Sulfuric acid (alternative spelling sulphuric acid) is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid with the molecular formula H2SO4. It is a pungent-ethereal, colorless to slightly yellow viscous liquid which is soluble in water at all concentrations. Sometimes, it is dyed dark brown during production to alert people to its hazards. The historical name of this acid is oil of vitriol.

Sulfuric acid is a diprotic acid and shows different properties depending upon its concentration. Its corrosiveness on other materials, like metals, living tissues (e.g. skin and flesh) or even stones, can be mainly ascribed to its strong acidic nature and, if concentrated, strong dehydrating and oxidizing property. Sulfuric acid at a high concentration can cause very serious damage upon contact, as it not only causes chemical burns via hydrolysis, but also secondary thermal burns via dehydration. It burns the cornea and can lead to permanent blindness if splashed onto eyes. Accordingly, safety precautions should be strictly observed when handling it. Moreover, it is hygroscopic, readily absorbing water vapour from the air.

Sulfuric acid has a wide range of applications including domestic acidic drain cleaner, electrolyte in lead-acid batteries and various cleaning agents. It is also a central substance in the chemical industry. Principal uses include mineral processing, fertilizer manufacturing, oil refining, wastewater processing, and chemical synthesis. It is widely produced with different methods, such as contact process, wet sulfuric acid process and some other methods.”�

The wiseGEEK explains in part how the word “vitriol” is used to present an argument: “Vitriol” is used to characterize a caustic though often literate verbal attack or argument posed in highly abusive terms. The word applied in this way comes from its meaning in chemistry, where oil of vitriol refers to sulfuric acid. In its purest form, oil of vitriol is tasteless, odorless, and found in abundance in many geographic areas, particularly among volcanic sulfuric crystals. The chemical industry uses vitriol in diluted form for a number of commercial applications that include battery acid, manufacturing fertilizer, and processing wastewater.

The term “sulfuric acid” may have replaced “oil of vitriol” in the manufacturing sector, but vitriol is still used as a characterization of speech. Vitriol is intended to demean, blame and censure the subject of the attack. It can indicate bitterness or deep-seated ill will, or a simple attempt to hurt or deeply offend.

While many can argue about degrees of acceptability or the difference between passionate debate and insult, vitriol is a form of speech that crosses the line of decency by general standards. Vitriol reviles, vilifies, insults, snipes and assaults. It goes beyond passion to become mean-spirited, and as such reduces the value of the argument when value is present at all.”

Venom, bile, bitterness, sarcasm, hatred, contempt, scorn are all words that are synonymous with vitriol, and this is the attitude often displayed when speaking of such things as God’s saving grace, eternal security (OSAS), and even the Rapture (believe it or not). There are a host of other subjects that seem to get people’s hackles up also.

It is obvious to me that there is more going on here than meets the eye. One Scripture verse in particular comes to mind; i.e. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The first two, God’s saving grace and OSAS, are mandatory beliefs that a true Christian should have seared on his/her heart. They are critical to salvation.

The third, the Rapture, is an important and truthful doctrine but it is not necessary for salvation.

There is another subject that also produces vitriol in some people, and that is the apple of God’s eye, Israel. “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

Satan is in an all-out, increasingly intensified war with God because he knows his time is quickly running out. The stakes are high and he knows it, Satan is in full-frontal attack concerning the Truth of God’s Word, the Bible.

God’s Saving Grace

Satan has always tried to muddy the waters concerning God’s saving grace, and today, he seems to be working overtime. The facts of the Gospel of salvation are very simple.

One can only be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. It is His works that count. Ours are worthless. Apart from the saving power of Jesus Christ, we are dead in our sins.

There is no other way to be saved from our sins and receive eternal life but through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Eternal Security (OSAS)

If we can trust God to save us on His conditions, then why can’t we trust Him to keep us on His conditions? We could also say, if we don’t trust God to keep us by His power, then obviously we don’t trust Him to save us by His power.

Those who are truly saved and are now children of God through Jesus Christ will always be kept by the power of God. They will never be in Satan’s orphanage again because they have been adopted by God through Jesus and are now His property.

We can no more un-save ourselves than we can save ourselves. Salvation and eternal security all depend on God’s power not ours, assuming we have any, and we do not.

True Christians are our Lord’s sheep. Unfortunately, there are many goats in the pen too who may profess Christ but do not even know Him.

The Rapture

The doctrine of the rapture of the Church prior to the seven year Tribulation is very clear to those who will listen. However, it is not a mandatory requirement of belief to be saved. Many who are truly Christians do not believe in the Rapture, or they believe in some corrupted form of it, but they are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a pleasant surprise awaits them.


The fourth subject I mentioned was Israel. To believe or not believe that Israel is still the apple of God’s eye and very much applicable today, is also not necessary for salvation.

It is a legitimate belief (faith, trust) in Jesus Christ that saves our souls, nothing else.

However, Israel is very important to God and very much loved by Him. To not recognize this is foolish, to say the least. The remaining seven years promised Israel that we generically call the Tribulation is all about Israel. It is about God’s judgment upon Israel and the world in general, but on the positive side, it is about God bringing His people Israel back to Him.

I have just hit a few high spots in these four subjects, and as I said earlier, Satan gets upset over all Truth that comes from the Bible.

It is no sin to disagree, but if we are guilty of a vitriolic attitude over some subject of Bible Truth, how can we say we represent Jesus? Venom, bile, bitterness, sarcasm, hatred, contempt, scorn, etc. do not come from God. They come from Satan, because Satan hates God’s Truth. If it stirs up hatred in our heart, then we are listening to Satan and not the calling of God to repent of our sins and be saved.

Time is running out. Our Lord is coming. Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy and place you at odds against God.

Grant Phillips