Posted in General

The Beginning of the End of God’s People

By Marlin Kilpatrick

The most blessed people who have ever lived are those people who have remained faithful to God. The downfall of Old Testament Israel was caused by their unfaithfulness to Him. There is a parallel between Israel’s unfaithfulness and what is happening today in the Lord’s church. In fact, in both cases the principle involved is precisely the same—a lack of respect for divine authority. When God’s people become unhappy with His way, it’s not long before they find a way to satisfy themselves. As with Israel, so it is today with more than a few congregations of the Lord’s church.

During some 450 years God ruled Israel through Judges. But the time came when his people wanted a king; they were unhappy with God’s way of ruling over them. Israel’s dissatisfaction with God and his way of ruling is quite revealing.

When the elders of Israel came to Samuel, who was the last of the Judges, they presented two “reasons” for their request for a king. The elders said, “Look, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways” (1 Sam. 8:5a, NKJV). Both of these claims were true, but their real reason for wanting a king is revealed in their words, “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5b). Israel’s having a king like the other nations may have made them more acceptable to their neighbors, but it started them down a path that, ultimately, led them away from God. No matter what man may think, he cannot improve on God’s way. God wanted his people to be a unique people. The uniqueness of God’s people brought glory to God and distinguished Him from the heathen gods of other nations. He also wanted a particular people through whom, eventually, the Messiah would come into this world. The coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, fulfilled a promise God had earlier made to Abraham that in “thy seed” all families of the earth would be blessed (cf. Gen. 12:1-3; Gal. 3:16).

The true church of Christ is the spiritual body of Christ (cf. Col. 1:18; Gal. 4:16). Israel wanted to be like the nations around them. The church, spiritual Israel, is, in many congregations, making the same mistake. We are losing our distinctiveness for which we have so long been known. We are becoming more and more like the denominational churches around us. God wanted Israel to be a distinctive people, and the Lord also wants His church to be distinctive. There is a line of demarcation drawn in the New Testament between the Lord’s church and all other organizations. We have a divinely given pattern which, when followed, will make us identical with the church which began in the 1st century (Acts 2).

Today it’s not uncommon to hear of certain congregations that now use instrumental music in their worship services (for which there is no scriptural authority). There was a time, not too many years ago, when the Lord’s church in any community was known for her stand on having scriptural authority for all that we do (cf. Col. 3:17). Now, the denominational churches smile at us and welcome us with open arms; they see little or no difference between us. The denominations see us as having finally arrived at what they’ve known for years—there’s no need for scriptural authority. How sad!

Brethren, where is the scriptural authority for the dedication of babies, the use of women in leadership roles in the church, children’s church, and a host of other practices? Why is there a lack of preaching on controversial subjects, e.g., marriage/divorce and remarriage? Why are we hearing very few sermons on the one church and her distinctiveness?

In closing, please look once again at the title of this article. The end of Old Testament Israel came when God sent them into captivity. The Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 722-21 B.C. and they were carried into Assyrian captivity. The Southern Kingdom, about 135 years later, fell to the Babylonians and they were carried into Babylonian captivity. As a nation, God’s people never again enjoyed the exalted position they once occupied. The captivities were the result of God’s people not being satisfied with His way.

It is past time that the faithful in the Lord’s church take a stand against the liberal element among us who are leading the church down a path that can only result in our spiritual ruin. Think about it.

Posted in Salvation

A Misunderstood Death

By Marlin Kilpatrick

There are numerous events recorded in the Bible about which we may misunderstand; this is why we need to daily study our Bibles. What the death of Christ makes possible for all people everywhere is often misunderstood by those who are in denominationalism. Very few people who have actually studied the Bible and ancient world history will deny there once lived a man named Jesus. And this Jesus, according to the New Testament, lived among men and was finally crucified by the Roman soldiers on a hillside outside of Jerusalem. So the historicity of the death of Christ is not man’s problem. But, through the perversion of the Scriptures by false teachers and their doctrines, there are many folks who, today, sincerely believe they are saved, when such is not true.

I once was in a private discussion with a denominational preacher. He claimed he believed in baptism as much as I, but not for the same reason. I pointed out to him that if we both do not believe that baptism is for the remission of our sins, we both are lost. I cited Acts 2:38, to which he replied, “I know that my Redeemer liveth and that he died for my sins on Calvary’s cross.” Dear reader, in such a claim lies one of the most misunderstood facts about the death of Christ. This preacher also claimed that Christ did everything for man on the cross and there’s nothing for man to do but accept the merits of Christ’s death and be saved. Such claims are indicative of a gross misunderstanding about the death of Christ.

Did Christ accomplish everything at Calvary? The answer to this question depends upon what is meant. For example, if it is meant that Christ accomplished everything he intended to accomplish in his death, the answer is yes! If, however, it is meant that by simply believing that Christ died for our sins, and without any further act(s) of an obedient faith, we are saved, then the answer is no!

Precious people, it is true Jesus did die for our sins on Calvary’s cross. In fact, the apostle John wrote, concerning Jesus’ death, “And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). While Jesus died for the sins of mankind, this does not mean that all of mankind will be saved. On the contrary, Jesus said the majority of mankind will be lost (cf. Matt. 7:13,14).  If Jesus died for all men, but not all men will be saved, then what is the explanation of Jesus’ death?

Jesus died to make salvation possible for all men. When Jesus died he shed his blood (cf. John 19:34). The shedding of Jesus’ blood provides for all men the opportunity to be saved. The death of Christ only makes possible this opportunity, but to be saved, we must be washed in the blood of Christ (cf. Rev.1:5). Sinners are only saved when they are baptized into the death of Christ, in which they are washed from their sins; this is why baptism is “for the remission of sins” and why “…baptism doth also now save us” (cf. Rom. 6:3,4; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21).

Friend, have you obeyed the gospel of Christ? If we fail to obey the gospel, we will be eternally lost (cf. 2 Thes. 1:7-9). The churches of Christ stand ready at any time to assist you in your obedience to the gospel. Think about it.

Posted in Christianity and Culture

Our Nation’s Root Problem

By Marlin Kilpatrick

Every tree has a tap root. The tap root supplies the tree with the proper nutrients that will make the tree grow. The tap root is the tree’s main source for survival. Any disease affecting the tap root may have devastating effects on the tree. Indeed, the consequences may be fatal.

Our nation’s “tap root” is in serious (if not fatal) distress. Our tap root is full of disease; it is putrid with all uncleanness. We have become a spiritually sick nation. It doesn’t take a Solomon to see our nation is heading for a fall, unless crucial corrections are made, and made promptly. We cannot last as a free nation when the One who made us free is mocked, scorned, and rejected. “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Pro. 14:34).

Anyone who grew up in the 40’s and 50’s knows there was a time when our nation had at least some moral fiber. Compared with today, these years were truly an age of innocence. I was a Junior in high school before I heard the word “marijuana.” Today, marijuana (a drug) is considered beneficial for medicinal purposes, and is even being legalized in many of our states. Drugs, such as heroin, crack cocaine, et al., are common fare on many street corners in downtown U.S.A. Alcohol (another drug) freely flows among our teenagers and, often, in our places of employment. This environment has had a detrimental effect on the Lord’s church. Some members of the Lord’s church think nothing of keeping a six-pack of beer in their refrigerators. Unless alcohol is prescribed for medicinal purposes, its consumption is condemned in the Scriptures. Drunkenness is a matter of degree. To whatever degree one consumes alcohol as a recreational beverage, to that degree one is scripturally drunk. The claim that one may drink so long as he does not become drunk is surely not sound.

Our nation’s root problem is its rejection of God and His Word, the Bible. Most of our nation’s forefathers had at least a nominal knowledge of the Scriptures. Most of our forefathers were not New Testament Christians, but most had a high respect for the Bible, and they often quoted the Scriptures to explain their civil, as well as religious, convictions. Our nation is spiritually suffering as a result of several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, not the least of which are the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion, and the more recent legalization of so-called “same sex marriage.” If there were ever a misnomer for marriage, “same sex” is it. “Same sex marriage” is not biblical marriage; it is biblical fornication—period. There will be no fornicators in heaven. Fornication is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).

Today evolution is taught in our public schools as a fact, not as a theory. Biblical creation is flatly denied by our school teachers and anyone who believes the biblical account of creation may be mocked. When we watch the National Geographic channel and a group of apes are being observed, it’s not at all uncommon to hear someone refer to these apes as “our nearest relatives.” Behind such an observation is the theory of evolution. One cannot believe Jesus and believe the theory of evolution. Jesus endorsed the Genesis account of man’s creation when he said, “have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning, made the male and female” (Matt. 19:4). Man has not evolved; rather, he was made by his Creator. The theory of evolution leads to many problems for society. If man is just an improved ape, then he will care nothing about spiritual matters. Is it any wonder why most people live as they do? When our boys and girls are taught the theory of evolution, we are sowing to the wind and, like Israel of old, we shall reap the whirlwind (cf. Hos. 8:7).

Our nation’s root problem can only be solved by a return to respect for God and His Bible. Today all accountable persons are amenable to the gospel of Christ. The gospel is God’s only power to save man from his sins (Rom. 1:16). To be saved we must throw off the moral degradation which has engulfed us. We must humbly submit our wills to the New Testament of Jesus Christ. There is no other alternative. If we continue on our downward slide into immorality in any form, we will one day reap what we have sown (cf. Gal. 6:7-8). Think about it.

Posted in Christianity and Culture

Failing marriages and the never-failing scriptures

By Marlin Kilpatrick

It is a known fact that marriages can and often do fail. The failure rate among all marriages being performed today is about 50%. With such a failure rate in marriages, there are also a number of people who are living together without the bonds of matrimony. Consequently, we have an increase in the number of births out of wedlock. Failing marriages and births out of wedlock are real problems facing the Lord’s church.

There are numerous reasons why marriages fail. It appears that many men and women enter into a marriage with a flippant attitude toward any long-term commitment: “Oh, well, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll just divorce and try again.” I refer to this as marriage, Hollywood style. I realize this isn’t entirely true of every marriage among movie celebrities, and some Hollywood celebrities have been married for over 50 years (which is very rare even in normal society).

Another reason that marriages fail is too high expectations on the part of one or both spouses. Money and sex make up a large part of this category. If the wife is unhappy with the amount of money she has at her disposal for household expenses and her enjoyment, she may blame her husband for his inability to adequately provide for his family. A husband’s expectations for intimacy with his wife might be unreasonable. A good dose of common sense will go a long way toward a compromise on the part of both spouses. Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. Marriage is a 100/100 per cent commitment on the part of both mates. If just one mate is not totally committed to the success of it, the chances for the marriage surviving are drastically reduced.

In the state of Florida, where I was born, at one time, before one could get a divorce, a spouse had to prove in county court that his/her spouse had committed adultery or fornication. Only upon such proof could a divorce be obtained. Today in Florida, no proof of marital unfaithfulness (i.e. adultery or fornication) is required. Now all one needs to do is to go before a county court judge and declare his/her marriage is irretrievably broken. The judge then grants what is called a “Dissolution of Marriage.” How convenient! Something has changed, but God’s word has not changed. Society’s attitude toward the sacred scriptures has changed.

Precious people, regardless of what a county court judge may declare, your marriage cannot be dissolved unless your spouse is guilty of fornication (cf. Matthew 19:9). A return to the never-failing scriptures is the answer to all of our problems, including marriage difficulties. The never-failing scriptures are always right, but men are often wrong. Think about it.

Posted in Christian Living

For what are we seeking?

By Marlin Kilpatrick

Every person is seeking for something. Many a person has spent his entire life seeking for a fortune, while others have sought fame. If one acquires a fortune, it is relatively easy to become famous. The wise man Solomon said, “Wealth maketh many friends, but the poor is separated from his neighbour” (Prov. 19:4). One’s wealth is a blessing if it’s used for the good of others, but it can be a curse, especially if used solely for the pleasures of this life. Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

The pursuits of this life tell much about the spiritual condition of one’s heart. The apostle Paul warned, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:10-12). Paul not only penned these words by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but he also lived in accord with them. We should not wonder why he would say, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

As we travel through this life, there are many things with which Satan attracts our attention and causes us to sin. He has many schemes (2 Cor. 2:11). Satan can cause us to misuse our time and talents. He can cause us to become Satan-seekers, rather than seeking “the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (cf. Matt. 6:33). Satan can take an innocent hobby of ours, and turn it into a sinful situation. The sin is not in the hobby, per se, but in the amount of time we spend in it, which keeps us from serving the Lord in his kingdom. Our employment is another area of life in which we must be most careful, making sure it does not keep us from faithfully worshiping God upon the first day of every week (cf. Acts 20:7).

In addition to Christ, the Old Testament patriarch Abraham is a worthy example for us to follow. It is said of him, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). One cannot have a more worthwhile goal in this life, than to seek the eternal home of the soul, heaven. To seek heaven for our eternal abode, one must get his priorities in the right order. The Lord must come first in all we do, we must seek to teach others—as opportunities arise—the saving truth of the gospel (cf. Gal.6:10), and we must keep in our minds our own spiritual condition.

Solomon said it best, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). Solomon’s words tell us why it is so crucial that we now be about seeking the right thing. Think about it.

Posted in Doctrine

Joel’s Prophecy and Events Surrounding the Day of Pentecost (And Our Misunderstandings)

By Marlin Kilpatrick

I am not so naive as to think I know all that can be known about the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. I am certain there are others who know more than I, but it seems to me there are some things which all of us can know and understand about the events that occurred on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), as well as other events which surrounded that memorable day. But first, we need to get a picture in our minds of the context of the events which Luke, the inspired penman, paints for us.

Jesus gives his final instructions to his apostles and then ascends into heaven (Acts 1:1-11). Among his instructions, Jesus promised his apostles they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit in just a few days (cf. 1:4, 5). Following his ascension, the apostles returned to Jerusalem as they had been instructed (vss. 4, 12). The apostles joined a group of disciples who were in an upper room, including several women, their number being “about 120,” and from this group Matthias was selected to take Judas Iscariot’s apostleship (vss. 15-26). The kingdom of God, our Lord’s church, was about to come into existence, and not a better group of men and women to comprise that kingdom could be found; for they were “all with one accord.” What a picture of unity! Most likely, the Lord’s church has never been as united as it was when it began on the day of Pentecost (Acts2)!

The day of Pentecost arrived and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and it is here that we begin to divide, with almost every gospel preacher having his own “interpretation” of what happened, to whom it happened, and why it happened, etc. We are so divided over the issue of the Holy Spirit that we ought to be ashamed. The “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) is thought by some to be miraculous and given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, while others think the “gift” is our salvation. We have some who hold there are only two occurrences (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-46) of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and, some cannot even agree that Cornelius was baptized in the Spirit. Recently, I was talking with a fellow gospel preacher about some of these matters and to my utter amazement he said, “I don’t believe the gift of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit, and I don’t believe Cornelius was baptized in the Spirit, either.” Well, whether he believes or does not believe, Peter said Cornelius, his household and near friends received “the like gift” as did the apostles (Acts 11:17). The Greek word which is translated “like” means an equal gift (Vine’s, p. 342). So, whatever the apostles received, Cornelius, his household and near friends, received the same or equal gift.

When the day of Pentecost was fully come, there came a sound from heaven like that of a “rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:1-4) and “tongues like as of fire” sat upon each of them. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, he used the wind as an illustration and said, “so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). One brother says, “Only the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost” (Acts 2). Question: How does he know that? Answer: Most likely he read something written by J. W. McGarvey; or, possibly, he either read or heard the late brother Guy N. Woods say so. But, one thing for sure: he didn’t get it out of the scriptures. Someone may ask, “But wasn’t Jesus talking only to his apostles when he promised them they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit, not many days hence” (Acts 1:5)? Yes, and they were! But that doesn’t prove that only the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). As far as the apostles are concerned, the only thing that is proven is that Jesus kept his promise! In the gospel of John, chapters 14-16, Jesus was speaking to only his apostles, but some of what he told them applied to more than just the apostles. For example, he promised his apostles he would not leave them as orphans (John 14:18), but are the apostles the only members of the church who are not orphans? Certainly not! If God is your heavenly father, you’re not an orphan! Too, when Peter defended, at Jerusalem, his preaching to the Gentiles (Cornelius’ household) he remembered the words of Jesus, “John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:16) and he applied Jesus’ words to more than just the apostles; he included both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 11:17, 18).

According to the apostle Peter, the events which were taking place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) were the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. In response to the people’s thinking that the apostles were drunk, Peter said, “For these are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day, but this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:15, 16). Joel’s prophecy reveals that both men and women would experience the pouring out of God’s Spirit (cf. Joel 2:28, 29). Since none of the apostles were women, but God, through the prophet Joel, said both men and women would be affected by his pouring out of his Spirit (Acts 2:17, 18), which is a quotation by the apostle Peter of Joel’s prophecy, then I know that more than the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). This conclusion should come as no surprise, for John the Baptist had said that the one coming after him (Christ) would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (cf. Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).

It is admitted by some that God did pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, but the claim is made that he began pouring out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost and completed pouring out his Spirit upon “all flesh” in Acts 10, when the Gentiles (Cornelius and his household and near friends) entered the kingdom. If that is true, then when did Philip’s four virgin daughters enter the kingdom (Acts 21:9)? And, furthermore, since there are no “measures” of the Spirit (John 3:34), these four virgin daughters were baptized in the Spirit, just like everyone who enters the kingdom (cf. John 3:5). I imagine someone will say, “But, born of the Spirit is not the same as being baptized in the Spirit.” My response is: If one is in compliance with Jesus’ words “born of water” when he is baptized in water, then how does he comply with Jesus’ words “(born, implied MK) of the Spirit?” If “born of water” requires a baptism in water, why doesn’t “and of the Spirit” (John 3:5) require a baptism in the Spirit? After all, both phrases are joined by the conjunction “and.” There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the context of John 3:3-5 to suggest that Jesus meant one must be instructed by the Spirit (which is the usual explanation of our Lord’s words). The new birth has two elements: water and Spirit.

It’s conceivable that someone might ask, “How do we know the women received the same baptismal measure of the Spirit as did the apostles on the day of Pentecost?” I’m glad you asked! We know the women received the same as did the apostles because, as stated earlier, there is no such thing as “measures” of the Spirit; hence, there is no “baptismal measure” of the Spirit. The scripture says, “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34). The words “unto him” (KJV) were supplied by the translators. The ASV eliminates these words, as do most all other major translations. Since there are no “measures” of the Spirit given, then, in apostolic times, beginning at Pentecost (Acts 2), one either was/was not baptized in the Spirit. If one had the Spirit it was because Christ had immersed his human spirit in Holy Spirit (cf. Tit. 3:5, 6).

Finally, I would suggest that the question concerning what Jesus meant when he said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5), can be easily answered by observing what happened on Pentecost (Acts 2). The Spirit came. How did the disciples, including the apostles, enter the kingdom? They did enter, didn’t they?

The disciples of John (about 120), including the apostles, entered the kingdom when the Spirit descended from heaven (Acts 2:1-4); this was their baptism in the Spirit. All of John’s disciples had already been baptized in water and for the remission of their sins (John 3:23; Mark 1:4). All they needed, in order to enter the kingdom, was to be “born of the Spirit.” When the Spirit came from heaven, they were baptized, or born, of the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). They had experienced one birth, the new birth, and, consequently, they constituted the kingdom of which the prophet Daniel foretold (Dan. 2:44). Think about it.

Precious people, it’s still the same today. To enter the kingdom of God, the church of Christ, one must be born again, born of water and of the Spirit (cf. John 3:5).

Posted in Doctrine

Blinders To Biblical Learning

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.


Posted in General

Read Your Bible

By Marlin Kilpatrick

In years gone by, I have often emphasized the importance of reading the Bible. There’s no book like the Bible, and knowledge of its contents is basic to the living of the Christian life. But, is just reading the Bible all that’s necessary to the living of a life that’s pleasing to the Lord? If one is to benefit from reading the Bible, he must first understand some guiding principles that will assist him in coming to a deeper appreciation of God’s eternal word (cf. Matt. 24:35), and how the scriptures have an application in his own life.

The Bible is literature. Not all literature is interpreted in the same way. To further challenge our understanding of what we are reading, the Bible is comprised of different kinds of literature. When one reads the Bible he will encounter history, poetry (wisdom literature), biography, along with some apocalyptic writings. Each of these kinds of literature requires the reader to apply certain rules of interpretation. A mistake is made when we try to interpret all scripture the same way.

The Bible is a book. All books have a basic function which is to impart information. One who is trying to solve a mathematical problem would not seek help from a book about world history. He would seek a book that illustrates how to solve various kinds of mathematical problems. Likewise, the Bible, being a book, imparts all the information one needs to be able to obey the gospel of Christ and live successfully the Christian life. The Bible is unique among all books, because it is God-breathed (2 Pet. 1:20, 21).

Christians are supposed to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). The first step in our spiritual growth is to read the Bible. But more is required than just reading the scriptures; we must correctly handle God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). If we correctly handle the scriptures, we will be able to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). We will also be able to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of the God” (Rom. 12:2). The reading of the scriptures will make us “wise unto salvation” (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15).

Should we just read the Bible? No, but reading, studying, and applying the teaching of the scriptures in one’s own life will greatly enhance his life and lead him to that eternal home of the soul. Think about it.


Posted in Christianity and Culture, Doctrine

“Whatever It Takes”

By Marlin Kilpatrick

In a recent church bulletin, the elders of the Heritage church of Christ (Fort Worth, Texas) made a Special Announcement under the title of Whatever It Takes. The Heritage elders announced that, beginning in the fall 2013, Heritage’s evening services will include instrumental music. The Sunday morning services will remain a cappella. The late brother J. D. Tant, gospel preacher, was known for his saying, “Brethren, we are drifting.” If he were still living he would say, “Brethren, we have drifted.” Fellow Christians, the Lord’s church is in deep spiritual trouble.

In the announcement it was claimed, “…all the elders were in agreement that “scripture does not prohibit the use of instruments in our worship.” On many issues it is good that all the elders be in agreement, but on this issue it matters not one whit that the elders are in agreement. While the elders may be “in agreement,” they are in disagreement with the Lord and his word. In the avenue of worshiping God in song, the scriptures are very specific: only singing is authorized. The use of instrumental music in Christian worship introduces another kind of music, which the scriptures do not authorize. In public debate with denominational preachers, faithful gospel preachers have met this issue time and again, and not once have denominational preachers been able to falsify this claim. Brethren, are we going to just throw away what we know the scriptures teach and become just another denominational church among many?

In their Special Announcement, the elders claimed “that the addition of instrumental worship service would be beneficial to our quest to reach the lost.” Here is where their “Whatever it Takes” enters the picture. Supposedly, if it takes instrumental music in worship to reach the lost, then the use of instrumental music is what we should do. But, the use of that which is sinful in worship will not save the lost. Where is the benefit in filling the auditorium with lost souls, even if they do enjoy the music? The only power to save the lost is the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16), but to pervert the gospel by using instrumental music in worship is in direct violation of Paul’s words (cf. Gal. 1:6-9), and renders the gospel powerless.

In the aforementioned rationale, where does such “reasoning” stop. If we use instruments of music in addition to our singing, in an effort not to offend the lost, when it comes to the question of music, then what will we do when the lost object (most already do) to baptism for the remission of sins? What will we do when someone objects to immersion in water, and insists on being sprinkled, instead? On what scriptural basis could we refuse to turn the Lord’s Supper into a common meal and remember the Lord’s death on Saturday night, if we use the rationale used by Heritage’s elders? Brethren, we are opening the flood gates, and when we do the Lord will hold us accountable. Such action as that taken by Heritage’s elders is a rejection of the need for scriptural authority for all that we do (cf. Col. 3:17). Correctly ascertaining scriptural authority on this issue will settle the matter.

In their Special Announcement, the Heritage elders said, “…we have spent a great deal of time studying the issue and praying for God to reveal his will as to what we should do.” The spending of “a great deal of time studying the issue” is commendable, but praying “for God to reveal his will as to what we should do,” is a waste of time. God has already revealed his will, and it is his will which we should obey. If we do, we will sing praises to him without instruments of music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). The New Testament is God’s final revelation to man. He will not reveal anything that is contradictory to his already revealed will. So waiting for God to reveal what we should do, when he has already revealed what he desires in worship, is useless.

Hopefully, the Heritage elders will see their mistake and repent. If this does not happen, it then becomes an issue of fellowship. We cannot fellowship error and please our Lord. Think about it.

Posted in Doctrine

“Into what then were you baptized?” (Acts 19:3)

By Marlin Kilpatrick

When the apostle Paul came to Ephesus he discovered certain disciples who had been wrongly baptized. These disciples had been baptized into John’s baptism, but John’s baptism was no longer operative. Paul asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts19:2, NASB). Here the word “believed” is used as a figure of speech where a part is put for the whole. It is as though Paul asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you were saved?” But what is the implication(s) of such a question?

Paul’s question, “Into what then were you baptized?”, in conjunction with his first question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”, implies that, had they been properly baptized, they would have been baptized in the Holy Spirit; otherwise Paul would have had no reason to further question these disciples’ obedience. In this situation we can see a major difference between John’s baptism and the baptism that puts one into the kingdom. John’s baptism was in water and for the remission of sins (John 3:23; Mark 1:4), but the baptism which involves the “new birth” and which puts one into the kingdom is a baptism involving more than water–it also involves the Holy Spirit.

When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, among other things he wrote, “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free, and were all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13, ASV). If the Corinthian Christians were baptized in one Spirit (and Paul said they were), then why should we think it strange that all who obey the gospel are likewise baptized in the Spirit? The fact is, for the past several generations the church has been led to believe that any claim that the Spirit is working in the hearts (minds) of faithful Christians will lead us into Pentecostalism (sometimes referred to as Neo-Pentecostalism). But such fear is unwarranted. It does not necessarily follow that if the Spirit is working in the hearts of sincere, faithful Christians, then we have present-day miracles. Miracles in the Lord’s church have ended, just as Paul said they would (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-10). And, even in New Testament times, not all who were baptized in the Spirit worked miracles.

Today, no one is being helped by the Spirit in a miraculous way. The Spirit always works in conjunction with his word. It is time that we put Neo-Pentecostal phobia to rest and begin asking ourselves, “Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?” And, if we did not receive the Spirit when we believed, then we need to inquire, “Into what then were you baptized?”