By Marlin Kilpatrick
I do not gamble on horse races, but I do enjoy watching on television the Triple Crown of the sport. At times certain horses are equipped with blinders. These blinders are to help keep the horse from being distracted. A distraction at a critical time in the race can mean the difference between winning and losing. Occasionally, blinders may be an asset, but sometimes they may be a liability.
The apostle Peter told his readers to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Pet. 3:18). But such growth can be hindered by the “blinders” we often wear. No one will ever fully benefit from studying his Bible unless he is willing to “take off his blinders.” No doubt we have all worn “blinders” of which we were unaware, until someone helped us see more clearly the teaching of God’s word. The “give and take” of an honest and sincere discussion is invaluable, and will help us remove these “blinders.”
Some of the preaching we have heard over many years can cause us to put on spiritual blinders. All of my life I have heard preachers speak of the three “measures” of the Holy Spirit. And, because certain well known and highly respected preachers taught these “measures” of the Spirit, I, like most everyone, just accepted what was taught without ever questioning the teaching. I assumed I was hearing the truth, but such an assumption can become a “blinder” in the study of the Bible. The scripture says that God does not give the Spirit by measure (John 3:34). The words “unto him” (KJV) were supplied by the translators and are no part of the New Testament Greek. But all of my life I have heard this passage quoted as proof that the Spirit was given by measure. The ASV correctly omits the words “unto him.” By taking off my “blinders” and really looking at what the scripture actually says, I can see how, in apostolic times, one either had the Spirit or he did not have the Spirit. In reality, there has never been a “measure” of the Spirit given, to say nothing about three measures of the Spirit! This fact will help us immeasurably in understanding that when the apostles, on the day of Pentecost, received the Spirit by baptism, so did all who became Christians (Acts 2:1-4). And this also helps us understand what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). There is a baptism in the Spirit, but there is no “baptismal measure” nor any other “measure” of the Spirit.
Another “blinder” in my study of the Holy Spirit issue was that only the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). This “blinder” was coupled with another “blinder” concerning Cornelius, his household and near friends being baptized in the Spirit (Acts 10). Supposedly, Acts 2 and Acts 10 were the only occasions of Holy Spirit baptism recorded in the New Testament. In earlier years, when a discussion of the Holy Spirit came up in a Bible class or in a sermon, we were always assured that no one but the apostles and Cornelius, along with his household and near friends, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Somehow we managed to leave out the apostle Paul! This teaching was accepted by most everyone. But when we take off our “blinders” we will see such is not the case.
The events of Pentecost (Acts 2) are a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32). In his prophecy Joel foretold how God would “pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28). The “pouring out” of God’s Spirit would affect both men and women (vss. 28, 29). So when Peter says, “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16), we see how the baptism in the Spirit on Pentecost involved more than just the apostles. The “blinder” most of us have worn kept us from seeing that the pronoun “they” (Acts 2:1) is not limited to the apostles. Surely, more than just the apostles were “in one accord,” and, since men and women are involved in Joel’s prophecy, we must go back and take into account the about 120 disciples (Acts 1:14ff), which included the apostles. Now if anyone questions the foregoing, and claims only the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), then this question: How many apostles were women? That’s not a silly question; it cuts right to the heart of our problem. If only the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), then Peter and Joel lied. The truth is, when Peter referred to the events which were then occurring on Pentecost, he said, “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16), and Joel said the Spirit would be poured out on both men and women (Joel 2:28, 29). Brethren, my seeing this did not come easily. But how can we hope to go to heaven if we’re not honest with ourselves and finally admit we have been honestly mistaken, all these years?
Brethren, if I know my heart as I believe I do, I hold no malice or unkind feelings towards anyone, including several gospel preachers who have taken me to task in several publications. Truth is not ascertained by emotion, but, rather, by logical argument (1 Thess. 5:21; Rom. 12:2). Brother Mac Deaver has met four capable opponents in public debate on the Holy Spirit issue. His arguments have yet to be falsified. My prayer is that we will all study our Bibles and come to the point in our studies that we will no longer put off admitting we have been mistaken, and this will only happen when we “take off our blinders” and prove our love for the truth. Think about it.