Posted in Doctrine

A Most Significant Scripture

By Marlin Kilpatrick

The Bible is God’s inspired word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). In one sense there are no insignificant scriptures. Still, there are some scriptures which are more relevant than others in helping us understand the great biblical themes which are woven throughout the Bible. Our Lord’s promise to send his Holy Spirit to his faithful brethren is a Bible theme which has occasioned the asking of many questions. One question concerning the giving of the Holy Spirit is whether the Spirit is given by measure.

Most all of my life I have heard of different measures of the Spirit being given. It was claimed that (1) Christ had the Spirit without measure, (2) the apostles received the “baptismal” measure, and (3) some upon whom the apostles laid their hands received the “laying on of hands” measure. All other Christians received what is called the “common” or “ordinary” measure of the Spirit. But were there different measures of the Spirit given?

A most significant scripture is John 3:34 which, due to the KJV translation, has caused many to believe and teach there are different measures of the Spirit given. The KJV reads, “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” The problem with which we are faced involves the words “unto him” which were supplied by the KJV translators. However, they are not in the old manuscripts. The ASV (1901) correctly translates the verse by omitting the words “unto him.” Likewise, most newer translations have followed suit. This is a most significant rendering of the scripture and it helps immensely our understanding of the reception of the Spirit by all who obey the gospel. There are no measures of the Spirit.

If there are no measures of the Spirit, then all who received the Spirit, beginning at Acts 2 and throughout the book of Acts, received the same thing. Since Jesus promised his apostles they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5) and there are no measures of the Spirit, then all who received the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2) were baptized in the Holy Spirit. And this harmonizes with John the Baptist’s words, “…he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).

I anticipate that someone may say, “But not all Christians could do what the apostles could do.” Yes, this is true. But now we are speaking of the power supplied by the Spirit. We must make a distinction between the baptism in the Spirit and the power supplied by the Spirit. It is certainly the case that the apostles had supernatural (miraculous) power. The apostles laid their hands on certain individuals and they received limited supernatural power. And all other Christians had non-miraculous power. Today, the Spirit’s power in Christians is limited to the non-miraculous.

If only the translators of the KJV had translated John 3:34 correctly, much of the confusion over the so-called measures of the Spirit would have never occurred. Today there are no measures of the Spirit; one either has the Spirit or he does not have the Spirit. He who does not have the Spirit, does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9-11). Think about it.

Posted in General

I Was Just Thinking…

By Marlin Kilpatrick

One of man’s attributes is the ability to think. God created man as a rational being. The ability to reason through complex problems separates man from the beast of the field. The beast operates by instinct, but we operate as rational beings. The ability to think does not guarantee we will always be rational. Sometimes we fail to think rationally. When this happens, we get into all kinds of trouble.

The Bible obligates each of us to think correctly. The apostle Paul said, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). He also said we are to “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). In the preceeding quotations the word “prove” means “…to test, to prove with expectation of accepting” (Vine’s, p. 146). The same word is translated try as in “…try the spirits whether they are of God, for many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). We are to try or test every doctrine to determine if it is from God or man, and the standard by which such trying is done is the word of God.

The obligation to think correctly implies we, among many other things, should study our Bibles daily. After developing a knowledge of what the scriptures say, we must reason correctly about those scriptures. The apostle Peter wrote, “…and be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). The word answer is translated from a word which means to make a defense of our hope, but how are we going to be able to make a defense, if we do not know how to reason correctly about the scriptures? Here is where the study of the elementary rules of logic becomes useful.

I was just thinking, how wonderful it would be if all people thought correctly about the scriptures. If everyone thought correctly about the scriptures, all the religious confusion in today’s world would be eliminated. A failure to think correctly about the scriptures will cost many sincere people their home in heaven.

No one will enter heaven just because he was lucky. No one will make it to heaven just because he happened to guess right. Only those who know and obey the truth and who can think correctly about the scriptures, have the hope of being with the Lord in eternity. Think about it.

Posted in Doctrine

The Difference in Kingdom Entry (Then and Now)

By Marlin Kilpatrick

Most serious Bible students know the kingdom of God (his church) was established by Christ on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The establishment of the kingdom of God was the fulfillment of several Old Testament prophecies (cf. Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 2:44; Joel 2:28-32).

There is a problem that exists in the minds of many sincere brethren about the difference between how entry was first made into the kingdom and how we enter the kingdom today. There is definitely a difference between kingdom entry of the converts of John the Baptist, including the apostles, along with the Samaritans (Acts 8), Cornelius and his household and near friends (Acts 10), and the twelve disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19) and our entry today. Why does this difference exist?

Since Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, there has only been one way into the kingdom. Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). On Pentecost day the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 disciples of John, which included the apostles (Acts 2:1-4). But these had been “born of water” when they were baptized by John (John 3:23). Their baptism was “for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). Though “born of water” and “for the remission of sins,” they were not yet in the kingdom. What allowed them to enter the kingdom? It was their baptism in the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). And their baptism in Spirit was accompanied by the miraculous — their speaking in languages they had never learned. The miracle of “tongue speaking” was the empirical evidence of God’s acceptance of them into his kingdom. Clearly, there was a time-lapse between their baptism by John and their being baptized in the Spirit. So, when the first ethnic group (Jews) entered the kingdom, a time-lapse existed, but no such time-lapse exists today.

The second group to enter the kingdom on Pentecost (Acts 2) were the 3,000 (Acts 2:41). In their case, there was no time-lapse between their baptism in water and in Spirit. Why? Since Jews (converts of John, including the apostles) had already entered the kingdom, there was no need for a time-lapse; their baptism consisted of two elements: water and Spirit (John 3:5). The time-lapse between the baptism in water and Spirit occurred only when a new ethnic group entered the kingdom, and in each case there were miracles associated with their entry into the kingdom.

When the second ethnic group (the Samaritans) entered the kingdom, there was also a time-lapse. Philip the evangelist had gone down to Samaria and preached Christ to them, but they were baptized only in the name of Jesus (Acts 8:16). But under the Great Commission, baptism was to be administered in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). When the apostles in Jerusalem learned the Samaritans had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to the Samaritans, who laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17). So, again, we have a time-lapse between the Samaritans’ baptism in water and their baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In the case of Cornelius, his household and near friends, there was also a time-lapse between their receiving the Spirit and their baptism in water (Acts 10:44-48). After having received Holy Spirit baptism, these Gentiles began to speak in tongues (Acts 10:46). Why did the Spirit fall upon these Gentiles before they were baptized in water? He did so because Cornelius, his household and near friends were righteous Gentiles. God’s Spirit cannot dwell in the hearts of those who are practicing sinners, and it is explicitly said of Cornelius that he was a righteous man (Acts 10:22, NASB).

The case of the twelve disciples at Ephesus who had received John’s baptism also involved a time-lapse. These disciples had not heard of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). When Paul explained that John’s converts were to believe on Christ, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:4-5). Then Paul laid his hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:6). With this event at Ephesus, the necessity for a time-lapse between water and Spirit baptism ceased because all ethnic groups (Jews, Samaritans, and full Gentiles) had entered the kingdom.

So far we have discussed what happened back then when various ethnic groups were entering the kingdom. What is the case now with men and women who obey the gospel? There is no time-lapse. When a penitent, having confessed, alien sinner is baptized for the remission of his sins, while in the water, his spirit is immersed in Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5-6). There is now only one baptism (Eph. 4:5), but it consist of two elements: water and Spirit (John 3:3). Think about it.

Posted in Debates, Reviews

My Impressions of the Deaver-Vick Debate

By Marlin Kilpatrick

It was my privilege to attend the Deaver-Vick Debate. The debate was conducted October 24-27, 2011, in the building of the church of Christ on Shelbyville Road, Indianapolis, Indiana. Brother Ben Vick is the preacher and an elder in the church at Shelbyville Road, while Mac Deaver is the preacher and an elder in the church of Christ, Sheffield, Texas. Both debaters utilized PowerPoint presentations of their respective materials. The proposition the first two nights read, “The scriptures teach that Holy Spirit baptism has ceased and is no longer in the church today.” Vick affirmed the proposition and Deaver denied it. Each debater had three (3) twenty (20) minute speeches, each evening. Brother Holger Neubaur served as Chairman for the debate and as brother Vick’s Moderator. Brother Weylan Deaver served as brother Deaver’s Moderator.

As a debater, I believe brother Vick is a capable advocate. He is not as experienced on the polemic platform as is brother Deaver, but he did a commendable work in presenting his material. Vick followed the usual line of reasoning, claiming that only the apostles and Cornelius’ household and near friends received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He claimed that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a miracle and since the miraculous has ceased, then Holy Spirit baptism has ceased. In response brother Deaver pointed out that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was not a miracle and, if it is, then every conversion today is a miracle. In my opinion, brother Deaver answered every point brother Vick made. Brother Deaver also pointed out that Vick’s duty as an affirmative speaker was to present a sound argument the conclusion of which proved that Holy Spirit baptism has ceased. It appeared to me that brother Vick had difficulty with understanding the nature of an “argument.” He often asserted certain things about certain scriptures, but assertion alone is not an argument, which Deaver called to Vick’s attention. When brother Vick finally presented four (4) or five (5) arguments in syllogistic form, Deaver pointed out that his first argument was unsound, as its minor premise was false. Each of Vick’s syllogisms was based upon the claim that Holy Spirit baptism was a miracle. So, when Deaver answered the first argument he had, in effect, answered each of the remaining arguments.

The last two nights of the debate involved the proposition which read: “The scriptures teach that when a person becomes a Christian he is baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit.” Now, the order was reversed with brother Deaver in the affirmative and brother Vick in the negative.

In his first affirmative speech brother Deaver reminded Vick and the audience that Vick, while in the affirmative, had six (6) speeches in which he failed to present a sound argument to prove his proposition, therefore he had failed in the debate. Deaver then proceeded to present several sound arguments to prove his proposition. Interestingly, brother Vick did not attempt to answer Deaver’s arguments. Instead, he continued to present more affirmative material and question some of Deaver’s conclusions, but as far as dismantling brother Deaver’s arguments by showing that their form was invalid or that either one or both of the premises were false, this Vick never attempted. Evidently, brother Vick was feeling the pressure of the debate when he claimed that the sinner’s nature is changed at the point of repentance. Deaver pointed out how he doubted that brother Vick really believes that and he likely had never made such a statement in his life, until the debate. Vick also claimed that the sinner receives forgiveness of his sins after he comes out of the water, instead of while in the baptismal water. Brother Deaver pointed out several problems with such a conclusion, to which Vick never adequately responded.

Overall, I believe the debate was a good debate. In my opinion Vick was feeling the pressure of Deaver’s arguments, and this led to him hurting his cause by referring to brother Deaver as a “half-baked Pentecostal.” He also claimed that Deaver is a Calvinist. Deaver countered by presenting a chart, enumerating the main tenets of Calvinism which he denied believing. He also pointed out that he had been scheduled to debate a real Calvinist, but, just two or three days before the debate was to begin, his opponent withdrew from the debate! In my judgment, brother Deaver was more calm and deliberate in his presentations. I also believe he was very able in proving the truthfulness of his proposition.

The debate was well attended. The audience was very courteous in listening to both debaters. The attendance the last two nights was somewhat less that the first two evenings; perhaps the rainy weather and cool temperatures played a role in the decreased attendance. The debate was also watched by several hundred people over the Internet; this, also, may have caused less attendance the last two nights.