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Culture and Christianity IV:

Doing one's job as 'unto the Lord',
the peril's of 'heroic medicine',
Christian perspectives on legalizing marijuana,
when lying is not a sin, and when life begins

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Question #1: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill!

I wrote to you before concerning how after one trial is over with, another one comes on the scene. Today my job has suspended me from work because of an incident that occurred between me and a spiteful co-worker. I got indignant after I put up with for so long a co-worker cussing, taking the Lord's name in vain, yelling at other employees, gossiping during worktime, taking extra breaks, etc. Now the HR (human resources) are doing an investigation during my leave because the co-worker reported to them how I yelled at her because she has been accusing me in the past of things that I have never said and done. This has been going on for too long and I couldn't take it anymore. Since she is the lead of our department, her story of what occurred between me and her will probably have more "truthfulness" to the HR group and those in management.

I feel that all this is happening because of my prayer to the Lord on growing in my trust in Him. I felt my trust grew for Him after a few trials that I mentioned to you in the past and now feel that this is another trial. I'm not asking for a break in these trials because I never get breaks from trials in my life, but one question does come to mind. Why do I see so many Christians in my church who are ever so happy (nice house, beautiful wife, excellent health, etc.) and nothing "bad" seems to come their way? It's almost as if they have a permanent smile! I try to keep a smile during these hardships in my life but I don't want to be one of those Christians who pretend to have the joy of the Lord by putting on a fake smile. How do I have the joy of the Lord during these times of hardships? My trials get more difficult each time and all I desire is to not worry and be happy by trusting with all my heart, but it's more difficult then some may think especially when things get tougher.

Please pray that I will be able to keep my job, and that she repents and perhaps turn to the Lord for salvation. Please pray that God will give me assurance that He will see me through this ordeal and that I only grow stronger in my trust in Him. Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #1:  

I will most certainly pray for you. None of the trouble that falls to a believer's lot in life is really about us; it is really all about whom it is we serve, Jesus Christ. If we were unbelievers, the devil would have no reason to seek to trip us up, no desire to bait us into behavior which might compromise or damage us, no interest in accusing us before the throne of God.

From the way you have presented things, you have endured a lot in your present position, and I suppose that is not surprising. Our workplace is indeed one of the key venues for the devil's attacks. Hence, we must always be on our guard in respect to our behavior there. The workplace is also where we generally have the greatest witness of life to the widest circle of people of every spiritual state and condition, and you can be sure they are scrutinizing us and our Christianity. Therefore the key thing for any Christian in any job is to remember to always do the job "as unto the Lord" (Eph.6:5). This is a standard we are to maintain, even when the treatment we are receiving is unfair by any objective measure. So much is this true that we should adopt the policy of exemplary service, even if were actually enslaved (as many of the first generation of Christians were):

(5) Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; (6) not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (7) With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, (8) knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
Ephesians 6:5-8

We, of course, are free men and not slaves, but the principles above apply to us whenever we are under authority of anyone else in the workplace: Jesus is the real issue, not us. Just as in the rest of our life, at work we have to be very wary of overreacting to the tests that come our way: Jesus knows we are being tested, we could not be so tested if He did not allow it, and He is in all such cases truly working everything out for our own good (whether we appreciate that fact or not). Since Jesus is the real target of all the devil's machinations, in all of life's tests we must avoid taking the troubles that come our way personally (please see the link: in SR 4, "Strangers in the Devil's Realm"). After all, that is not the correct perspective. God sees things differently. We are here not to acquire material wealth or amass professional success or attain fame or experience pleasure – we Christians are here to serve Jesus, and to win eternal rewards thereby. If we were in a human war, we might not like it if we were ordered to assault a hill in the face of deadly enemy fire, but we would have to do it, and we would have, one hopes, at least some small measure of confidence that there was an important purpose in our doing so. In the spiritual conflict in which we serve, we can have complete confidence that Jesus has only our best interests at heart in all He asks us to do. What we cannot have, what it is important in fact that we do not have is a clear view here and now of exactly how and why that is so when troubles come upon us. If the Lord appeared to us just before every major test and explained what we would undergo and why it was important, we might have a much better chance of passing such tests, but you can be sure they would not try us and refine us and build our faith the way they do when we have to take it on faith that our Lord is looking out for us and employing us in the battle in just the right way. For most of the time, in my reading of scripture and personal observation and experience, in the most difficult trials we are always tempted to ask "Why me, God?" or just "Why is this happening?" As human beings, we are probably always going to feel the pull of this temptation to doubt God and even to blame God, but as we mature in the Christian life, we get better about denying this inclination and thanking Him instead for the help we do receive to get through whatever it is we are called upon to get through. I heard an athlete one time talking about dealing with pain and explaining how successful competitors have learned "not even to have a conversation with their bodies" about whether or not they can take the pain any longer. As Christians, we are competing for something far more important, and we also need to learn never to have the "Why me, God?" conversation with our emotions, but instead to just keep our heads down and keep charging ahead spiritually.

Don't you know that all the runners in the stadium run the race, but that only one receives the prize? Run in such a way so as to achieve what you are after. And again, everyone involved in competition exercises self-control in all respects. Those athletes go through such things so that they may receive a perishable crown of victory, but we do it to receive an imperishable one. So as I run this race of ours, I'm heading straight for the finish line; and as I box this bout of ours, I'm making every punch count. I'm "pummeling my body", one might say, bringing myself under strict control so that, after having preached [the gospel] to others, I might not myself be disqualified [from receiving the prize we all seek].
1st Corinthians 9:24-27

When we are clear in our thinking and not under pressure but are focused on the truth of scripture, we do understand these things. But of course, when we are under the gun, it takes an aggressive application of faith and truth to counteract the emotional "voices" that would have us act contrary to what we know is right, to what we know is the truth. The self-discipline we must exercise in the Christian race is precisely this control of our bodies/emotions but in a mental/spiritual way (as opposed to a mostly physical way). This is all easier to say than to do, of course, and also easier to encourage others to do than to do oneself. None of us find it easy, and the better we get at it, it seems the more challenging future testing becomes – because God wants us to keep growing, not because He doesn't care. Indeed, it is precisely because our Lord Jesus does love us so much that such trials come our way, for that is the only way for us to continue to grow and to glorify Him. Job looked around and saw the other believers of his generation and also many unbelievers relaxed and at ease, and with no apparent worldly troubles. He controlled his emotions a long time and through pressures that would break all but the most exceptional Christian. Eventually, even he buckled (under the weight of the false encouragement of his friends!), and likewise started to ask the "Why me, God?" question; he eventually let his emotions out of the bag, and they got the better of him. With the benefit of hindsight provided by the Holy Spirit, we now know that all that happened to Job was in fact because the Lord was paying him one of the greatest compliments any believer has ever received: to be singled out among all those living on earth as an example of someone who truly loved and feared and obeyed the Lord, and who would continue to do so despite the most intense opposition and pressure imaginable – and then to have the entire experience recorded in the Bible for all time. I can tell you with a great level of assurance that if God had told Job the situation before the testing began, Job never would have faltered. But that wouldn't have taken anywhere near the same amount of faith (and would not have resulted in the same wonderful and wonderfully useful set of lessons his experience now offers to all believers who take these things to heart). We have these lessons, but we don't all use them (or at least use them to the degree that we should). Paul did. He actually boasted about his sufferings (2Cor.11:30; 12:9-10), an attitude which requires a complete understanding of the source of the opposition (the devil, not God), the purpose of it (our growth, not our unhappiness), and the result if successfully negotiated (God's glory and our eternal reward, not our destruction). This is the stuff of spiritually maturity; this is the way to honor Jesus Christ; this is the route to great eternal reward. In my heart, I would not trade the slightest, most insignificant measure of reward (which will glorify my Lord and please me for all eternity) for all the blessing and prosperity, all the peace and quiet this present corrupt world has to offer. For this world is passing away, but the things to come will last forever.

Don't stock up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and corrosion eat them away and where thieves dig through and steal them. But stock up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor corrosion eat them away and where thieves neither dig through nor steal them. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

I cannot counsel you on the specifics of how to handle your current situation (though as I said above I do promise to keep you in prayer about it). In most organizations there are proper protocols to observe, and as Christians we must do so; and there are procedures which may be employed in order to set things right. What I can do is to encourage you to proceed and to act in an honorable Christian way in all things, in a way, that is, which will bring honor and glory to our Lord. In fact, I have no doubt that you will indeed do so. Just remember to keep Jesus in your mind's eye, remembering that He is your refuge against the invisible foe, and that He is your deliverance in all things. Whatever happens, we know that for those who truly do love Him, is perfectly working every single detail of our lives out for the absolute divine good, whatever our earthly eyes may perceive (Rom.8:28).

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
2nd Thessalonians 3:3-13 NIV

In Jesus our Lord and our example, who endured all manner of opposition from sinners against Himself.

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hi Doc!

A close friend of mine is utterly confused about a certain situation and doesn't know how to deal with it biblically. Before her Mom had passed away her youngest brother whom she is the closest to had made a remark that seems to have been absolutely true but not knowing it at the time. He said that "When Mom passes away this will be the end of this family." This couldn't be more true. She was the glue holding her family together.

With that said my first question is this. She was her Mom's Power of Attorney for her medical well being. They had it that no matter what she would pass away when God took her and no other time. She knows but couldn't prove that the hospital was slowly killing her off and starting to cut her body open. What I mean by that is that they cut her thigh all the way like surgery where she was the only one that saw her muscles and such. She had gotten a strange phone call that morning from a so-called pastor that was talking about stopping her Mom's suffering and doctors pressing on her chest if she has a heart attack. Her mom was a small woman in the end of her life. She didn't know what to make of all this.

Her mom was diagnosed with MRSA and had pneumonia, failing kidneys and very unstable blood pressure.

The night of her death she made the decision for her life to end on the basis that she saw her suffer long enough. She knew what the wishes were. But she just didn't know how much farther the hospital would go.

She wants to know if she was wrong in making this decision? and if she should have indeed let her Mom suffer more?

She says that she can say in her heart more then anything that she wishes that her Mom were here and that God knows in her heart how much she loved her and wish she could have been in her place so she wouldn't have had to go through this. What do you think about this decision? Thanks in advance!

Response #2: 

As you know, I make it a practice wherever possible not to pass judgment on other people's application of the Word, especially when issues are circumstance dependent. Hospitals and modern medicine make some of these issues much more difficult than was the case in times past. For example, they are able to keep people alive when there is no reasonable hope far beyond what used to be true, often with the person not even being conscience or having any brain function. I would never tell someone that they were wrong to keep a person alive in such dubious circumstances, but I would also say that in my view a person is not required to accept all possible medical help, especially if it is clear that it will not put off the inevitable. I certainly hope that it is true of me that I do not love this life so much so as to cling to it for a few more hours, days or weeks through heroic and excessive medical efforts. If it were me, once I got to a certain point, I would embrace a DNR order (do not resuscitate). Refusing to take advantage of hyper-intensive medical care in the last days of life is not wrong, in my view, and it is certainly not "suicide". In fact, when medicine does things to prolong a life that are clearly unnatural, it seems to me in many cases that they are putting off "God's time". I think people are beginning to recognize this more and more. That is one of the essential rationales behind the hospice movement.

I do not know your friend or all the details, but it does seem to me that if her mother gave her the power of attorney to make the critical decisions, then her mother did in fact want her to make the best decision she could under the difficult circumstances bound to come. Unnecessarily prolonging a person's suffering by unnatural means, especially when it is clear that such means cannot be effective, is certainly not a Christian necessity nor a Christian virtue. From your description, your friend acted out of deep love and a very careful consideration of all the facts at the time. It sounds to me as if that was precisely what her mother had charged her to do. Had she acted differently, her mother still would not have survived.

We are very emotional creatures, and in situations where those we love are concerned, especially when they are ailing or when they pass away, it is very natural to question every aspect of our prior relationships with them. While a certain amount of such circumspection is inevitable, it is important not to let our Christian gaze be arrested backwards. We are to look forward (as Paul tells us: Phil.3:13-14), fixing our gaze on Jesus and the time when we will be reunited with all those we have loved in the Lord. When we err, God forgives us all our sins and errors when we confess them based upon the work of His Son our Lord on the cross (1Jn.1:9). If that is true of cases where we have genuinely made mistakes and know it, how will God not be merciful to us in the event that we may have made some mistake when we were genuinely trying to do the right thing in love? So in such cases either we did the right thing, or we certainly meant to do so and did the best we could with the information we had at the time. In either case, since God has called us to peace, in my view the best course is to trust Him and cast that care on Him (Ps.55:22; 1Pet.5:7). From what you have described, it seems to me that any Christian would be very hard pressed to second guess your friend's decision.

Please see also "Economics and Technology" and "Christian use of medical care".

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill!

I was disturbed today at work when co-workers who profess to be Christian were discussing prop 19 and legalizing marijuana, they were all for it. I am not for it because I think that this would be an injustice to do so knowing that people in California would take advantage of it and lead to other problems. I cannot imagine living in a state where people could just stand around smoking pot whenever and wherever they please. Do you believe it is wrong to be for prop 19? Thanks!

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #3:  

Good to hear from you. I see today that the proposition was defeated. I am no expert on these matters, but I have always counseled Christians to stay away from behavior altering drugs of any sort (see the links: "Drugs and Witchcraft"; "Body markings in the Bible et al."). In my view, there are many reasons for anyone who calls themselves a Christian to stay away from "recreational" drugs of all types – and that would be equally true even if they were legal.

As to the social implications of the issue and the political process by which this issue is being addressed, I prefer not to comment. In my view, politics and Christianity do not mix. There are plenty of things that happen in our society that would get any "normal" person "riled up", but seeking political solutions to our problems or becoming engaged with "the enemy" on the political battlefield is, in my view, a losing game for Christians. We will never fix the world – it is the devil's world until our Lord returns and removes him. If we try to fix Satan's world system we only become enmeshed in it ourselves. The important thing for non-Christians who are debating legalizing "pot" or any other such issue is really "what think ye of Jesus?"

We can certainly have our opinions about these sorts of things (how can we not help but have opinions?). But acting upon them in a political way is a trap that at the very least will sap our time, energy and resources, diverting them away from the personal ministry to which Jesus has called us, whatever that may be. There are many other negatives that lie down the road of political involvement, and no positives, as far as I can see, not, any way, for the person who gets involved (and generally speaking not for the people on whose behalf they get involved, although there are some exceptions here since God works in all manner of mysterious ways).

This is also not to suggest that we Christians are "sitting on our hands" and letting "George do it". Quite the contrary. God gives each nation the laws, leadership, and circumstances they really want and truly deserve. In most cases, that means less than ideal situations around the globe. But if as a nation we turned to the Lord with hearts on fire for Him, if we devoted ourselves to seeking Him through His Word in the Name of His Son our Lord Jesus, we would soon have so much prosperity in every way that politics would seem totally beside the point. Of course it will never happen that most people will ever feel that way. But the sad thing is that most Christians here do not really feel that way and do not realize that it is their personal spiritual growth that really effects thing: the powerful spiritual "micro" trumping the intractable political "macro" every time. And when they stop reading their Bibles and stop seeking out and believing solid Bible-teaching and stop walking with Jesus and stop serving others – because of politics or any other reason – then they become part of the problem instead of part of the solution even if they appear to be standing up for a good cause. That is because the solution, the true solution comes from God: He can fix any problem we have, but without Him we cannot fix any problem we have. We have to decide whom we are here for and learn what He has called us to do. Going our own way in these matters is always a mistake, even if it is exciting, precedented, and feels good (at first). For more on this subject please see the following links:

Politics and Society

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

More on Antichrist and his Kingdom

History, War and Politics

Christians and drug use

Drug use and illicit influences

Hope this helps.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill!

I've heard this asked many times before but never with a solid biblical answer. A Christian brother had asked whether there are good reasons to lie. I thought about this and believe that there are never good reasons to lie. I came to this conclusion when I asked myself if there are ever good reasons to sin and offend a just and holy God, and the answer is no. Lying is a sin and there are never good reasons to sin. One of his Christian friends had said that there are good reasons to lie. His example was when people hid Jews from the Germans and smuggled them out of the country. He also said that he himself have lied to protect a nephew from harm by other kids. Other people will bring up the subject of Rahab but I don't believe that it was her lying that justified her, but her faith in God. What does the bible have to say about this? Thanks.

God Bless,

Response #4: 

I agree with you in principle. God hates liars and lying (Prov.12:22; Rev.21:8). On the other hand, He also hates hypocrites and hypocrisy, the self-righteous and their self-righteousness. The vast majority of the time, there is no question about what is "a lie" and whether or not to refrain from committing one (and of course we should). However, there are biblical cases (and similar situations in our practical experience) where "telling the truth" would be a grave mis-representation of giving an accurate report. For example, suppose you really dislike your neighbor, and suppose the beast's police-force comes to arrest him, and suppose, when they receive no answer to their knock on the door, they then ask you whether or not he is at home. You know full well he is hiding in his attic, so you say, "not being willing to tell a lie, I am obliged to tell you that he is hiding in the attic". This would be a case of giving into one's own spleen and hatefulness under the guise of "doing the right thing". That is the very definition of self-righteousness and hypocrisy, and a person who did such a thing would be a million times worse in what he/she than the person who said "No". My general rules of thumb here are 1) that criminals and enemy combatants who are trying to harm the innocent are not owed "the truth" (and that deceiving them to protect the innocent is godly and not lying), whereas brothers and sisters in Christ, innocent third parties, and legitimate authorities most definitely are owed the truth; and 2) that if your telling "the truth" costs you and you want to tell it, please do so; but if it costs someone else, think twice (especially if you can avoid opening your mouth in the first place, and most especially if you stand to gain from telling such "truth"). What God hates is the distortion of the truth for one's own benefit or to someone else's harm, not the protection of the innocent in extreme circumstances. This is not an easy or a "beginner's" issue. As to biblical examples, along with Rahab, consider David's use of Hushai to "thwart the counsel of Ahithophel" (1Sam.15:31ff.). And please do see these links where I go into much greater detail (and then feel free to write me back about any of this):

Is it ever justifiable to tell a lie?

Is it ever Justifiable to Tell a Lie (part 2)?

What about Rahab?

The Old Prophet who lied

Satan's system of three essential lies

In our dear Lord Jesus who is the Truth,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill!

I normally check with the opinions of other bible teachers on this too which is why I had asked. John MacArthur had answered this question in a Q & A and said that there would be no need to lie and to lie in a given situation demonstrates that we trust in our own instincts rather than the sovereignty and power of God. He said that God knows the end from the beginning and to say that we need to lie in order to save someone's life shows that we are in essence saying that God who is Almighty and all-knowing is incapable of delivering the person who we are lying for from harm. He said whether we lie or not won't change the fact that God knows all given circumstances and can deliver anyone from harm if it is in His will, so knowing this we ought to do our best to trust in the Lord through our obedience.

God Bless,

Response #5:  

Yes, this a pretty typical sort of simplistic answer on the conservative side (just as allowing for all sorts of situational exceptions is a pretty typical answer on the liberal side). Getting it exactly right is the tough part, and I stand firm on the answer I gave (and its more detailed exposition at the links provided). As I have told you before, I think John MacArthur is a good Bible teacher, and this is a good answer he has given you, just not a complete or completely correct one. This is a simple way out, really, avoiding the hard sorts of questions you allude to in your email by saying "God will take care of it". Now that is a fine principle and it is the truth, but it is also true that God's foreknowledge and omnipotence does not excuse us from using the resources He has given us or doing the right thing even when it might offend our sense of neat self-righteousness.

To take the first part of this observation first, if we were to say "God will take care of it" and then go sit on a park bench waiting for Him to provide our supper (after all, the ravens brought Elijah dinner), He might even do so – once or twice. But I think I have the Spirit of the Lord when I say that adopting this procedure as our primary approach to life would not be in God's will at all (cf. 2Thes.3:10 NIV: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."), and would almost certainly lead to our starving to death, were we stubborn enough to persevere in such folly.

To take the second part of the observation next, those who resist the wicked are commended (Prov.28:4), and we are told to deliver those who are being dragged to their death and not think that standing safely aloof will be pleasing to God (Prov.24:11-12). Judge for yourself whether you think proffering our desire to stay "lie free" if it results in harm to others would be acceptable to God. Many people use the same sort of argument MacArthur has used to inveigh against capital punishment and advocate complete pacifism. After all, God says "thou shalt not kill", and what could be clearer than that? Therefore it is "simple" to refrain from violence always and in all cases – just as simple as MacArthur's answer: God knows all and will provide all, so we just need to trust that and go with the "simple" commandment. Both the pacifist and no-lie positions are guilty of failing to take into consideration all of the information in the Bible, however, and it is just such "simplicity" and "easy answers" that cults are based on. I am certainly not accusing of John MacArthur as having that intent, but I am saying that this is a possible effect. For just as we know for a fact from many other scriptures and contexts in the Bible that capital punishment and self-defense are biblically justified, and that shedding blood in the military defense of a sovereign nation is not only justified but sometimes absolutely necessary for freedom to be preserved, so also there are times when people must give evil-doers false information in self-defense or the defense of others, when law enforcement must use deception for the greater good (otherwise we could not have under-cover police operations), and when the military and intelligence organizations must use deception to keep us safe. If a criminal is torturing my neighbor to find out where my wife is hiding so as to do her harm, I would hope the neighbor hasn't just listened to MacArthur's tape. Likewise, I would hope an under-cover police operative would know better than to tell "the truth" to the drug king-pin whose organization he has just infiltrated if asked whether or not he is really a cop. And I would certainly hope those who are in charge of our military deployments, especially in wartime, are doing everything possible to deceive our enemies, actual and potential, as to the true whereabouts of our military assets, including giving out false information. Simply put, the personal/national self-defense exemption applies to "the truth" just the same as it does to the use of deadly force (that is what is going on in Rahab's case as well). Failure to understand this critical principle will usually have a horrible effect only in extreme circumstances, but for believers on the cusp of entering the Tribulation (something else about which Mr. MacArthur is misinformed), getting this wrong could result in believers who hold fast to such nonsense falling into a terrible hypocrisy trap, one capable of dooming others, and possibly even themselves. For everything there is a season. It takes a certain amount of Christian maturity to distinguish what God's will is in individual cases.

Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.'" 'By what means?' the LORD asked. "'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. "'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.' "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."
2nd Chronicles 18:20-22 NIV

In Him who is the Truth, Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Thanks for your response on tongues. Yes it all falls into place, but like Aslan told Jody before she went into the North country to search for the king's son [reading through Narnia the 2nd time with Caleb]...something to the effect that the rules you learn now won't be as clear in the North country....translate in the middle of the devil's world, i.e., when the tonguer claims he speaking in the tongues of angels per Paul says he is...which come to mind, I believe, that verse is not a first class IF, but probably a 3rd class, neh?

One other thing....I have been meaning to tell you I have taken the big fall on the life at birth...I have believed for some time that John the Baptizer in the womb at 6 months had joy, was filled in the Holy Spirit while still in the womb and because he was a viable human soul, his mother rightly called him the same as other babies already born, i.e., baby.

What thinkest thou?

Yer budsky

Response #6: 

You're very welcome This is, by the way, the subject of the next two week's posting (and will be of next week's as well). See the links: "The Gift of Tongues: Part 1" and "The Gift of Tongues: Part 2".

On the issue of life at birth, the case of John the baptist is the one most frequently pointed to by life-in-the-womb-ists, but it doesn't really work, does it? For one thing, I know of no biblical basis to distinguish between an embryo and a 8.999 month fetus (or between the latter and a single sperm or ovum, for that matter – they too are "alive", after all). "Viability" is a late 20th century concept that does not predate medical science's ability to intervene on behalf of preemies. Rather than reacting to "scientific discoveries", theology should be built on scripture – which brings me back to Luke chapter one.

First, if I say in English "from my youth", we understand this use of "from" to be inclusive, that is, not "from the point where my youth ended", but "ever since the time I was young". But Greek is not English. Greek would generally use an adverbial suffix -then for that (cf. English "thence"), as in the case of the youth who was afflicted by the demon "from his youth" (paido-then; Mk.9:21). In Luke 1:15, Gabriel says that John will be filled with the Spirit eti ek koilias metros autou, literally, "right out of his mother's womb". For this to mean "while still in his mother's womb", we would have to have eti en koiliai metros autou. This is an English problem; English admits of both possibilities if we use the word "from"; Greek most definitively does not.

Secondly, in Luke 1:41, it is Elizabeth who hears the greeting with the result that the brephos "jumps" (by the way, brephos means either "unborn fetus" or "newly born offspring" throughout Greek literature, and is frequently used in both senses for animals and human beings too, so that this was the natural word for Luke to use, whatever he thought about the theology here). When Elizabeth describes the event, she says exactly the same thing: "As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy" (v.44). So the scripture makes it very clear that it is Elizabeth who is doing the hearing, not the fetus in her womb. We all understand that a fetus can "kick" in response to stimulation that affects the mother. It seems very strange, however, for the fetus to "experience joy". That would be true in any case, but it is especially odd here when the scriptures have gone to such lengths to make it clear that it is Elizabeth who heard, not the brephos. The quote above is the NIV's rendering. Clearly, if the "baby" experienced "joy", that would be significant. In the NIV translation, that must be what is meant, because English word order is very delimiting. In the Greek, however, word order is much more flexible, and it is equally likely for the prepositional phrase, "in joy", to apply to Elizabeth as it is to the fetus (and since she is the one who hears, said twice, it is the most natural way to read the Greek). That is how I translate the verse:

"Behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, out of [the] joy [I felt], the fetus (brephos) in my womb leapt!"
Luke 1:44

Since we are told twice in this context that Elizabeth, not the brephos, is the one who is receiving the sensory input, it would be very strange if we were meant to take the prepositional phrase "in joy" with the brephos instead of with Elizabeth, the most likely person to be doing the emotional responding. And, after all, how would Elizabeth know that her fetus was experiencing joy? But of course she is well within her rights to report her own joy.

So it seems that the evidence for finding life in the womb is the taking of a prepositional phrase to apply to element B instead of element A, even though the context would lead any reasonable Greek reader without an agenda to be inclined to apply it to A instead of B. That is a pretty slender reed on which to base the overturning of a very clearly taught scriptural principle, to wit, that life begins at birth (please see the link: Life Begins at Birth). Birth is the event to which all human beings look forward in scripture, not conception (consider that it is the birth of our Lord, which is heralded by myriads of angels).

If God creates the human spirit, and He does, and if He places it into us, and He does, then the important theological question is "when does He do so?" Does each sperm have a spirit? Does each ovum? I think not. Does every fertilized egg, every embryo have a human spirit given to it at the point of fertilization? That would have to be the case, it seems to me, if there is life in the womb, for there is no biblical basis for a distinction between an unborn embryo and an unborn fetus. However, we do have a very clear indication of what happens from the very name of our immaterial part: i.e., the human spirit (pneuma). As I know you are aware, pneuma also means breath – so that "spirit" is an odd designation if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the commencement and termination of the process of breathing.

This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
Isaiah 42:5 NIV

The God who created the world and everything in it, this is He who as Lord of heaven and earth does not dwell in temples made by human hands nor is He tended to by the hands of men – as if He were in need of anything – He it is who gives life and breath and everything else to all [of us].
Acts 17:24-25

God gives life and breath simultaneously . . . at birth. The human spirit is just that, a pneuma, a "thing breathed" (pneu-o + ma). It would be powerfully strange for God to name the spirit "spirit" if it had nothing whatsoever to do with breath. But as it is, the breath and the spirit are given simultaneously, "life and breath", and when the spirit departs, there is death. Just as breathing begins at birth and ends at death, so the entrance of the spirit marks the beginning of life (at birth), and the departure of the spirit mark the end of life (at death). These things are clearly the basis for all scriptural anthropology (see the link in BB 3A "The Creation of Man"); they are how the writers of scripture think about things and how they express them. And if it weren't for modern medicine, and if weren't for the horrors of abortion, it would probably never occur to us to think about them any other way either.

For me, this is a very big issue. That is because of the disturbing implications of "life in the womb". For if there is life in the womb, then whatever the spirit is is something that is genetically passed down. Now we are no longer spiritual-material beings. Now we are entirely material. Instead of having an immediate divine origin in each and every case, now mankind propagates itself. Now this life, this earth, this (temporary) creation is all important and all meaningful. But we who know our Lord better than that are looking to a city not built by human hands. For us, the spiritual is all important; the material is only temporary. We acknowledge God's power and sovereignty in all things, and know that science is missing out on what is most important: the spiritual nature of man, something which can never be scientifically discerned.

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63 NIV

That's the gist -- apologies for the abbreviated treatment, but here are some links where you can find all this discussed in more detail:

The Human Spirit (in BB 3A)

John "leapt for joy" in the womb - or did he?

Life Begins at Birth

Your pal in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

I have a question concerning this statement of yours in BB 3A "Biblical Anthropology":

"So once again we return to the analogy of breath, a function of our physical life that only occurs after birth and ends with death. Breath, a manifestation of physical life which (while not synonymous with it) is coterminous with that life, is therefore the perfect symbol and analogy for the life that begins at birth, when God puts our human spirit into our body. This is why Jesus, to explain our need for eternal life, told us we must be born again, not "conceived again", for birth is the point where life begins by means of an act of God, whether it be the first or the second birth (Jn.3:3).(27)"

I have read and mostly agree with what you have written so far; that being what I have read. I have read the first two parts to this series and am now on the third, a part of which is quoted above. I just wanted to make sure you were not trying to argue that "life" only begins once we are physically born out of the womb, meaning once we breath actual air? I mean you DO believe that "life" begins at conception correct? That the fetus moving around in the womb of a woman, "inhaling" and "exhaling" amniotic fluid is in fact alive? It is essential that fluid be breathed into the lungs in order for them to develop normally to support its life and continued growth. Meaning you do believe that this child is in fact "alive" inside the women waiting to be birthed into this world? I agree that this is not the point of the section written above but b/c you mention "conception" and "birth" as two very distinct acts more than once, I wanted to make sure you weren't ALSO trying to suggest that the baby inside a womb is "spiritless" or "souless" until it breathes actual air outside the womb? If you could please clear that up for me I would be very grateful. Thank You.

PS: I am not some anti-abortion nut in case you were wondering. However, I am a Christian and do believe that all human life is precious. I do not count the bodies of unborn children as waste, just flesh and blood, if discarded. I do believe that when a child is aborted on purpose or dies while in the womb of other causes it is a "spirit" or "soul" that has died inside that body of flesh. Is this not what you personally believe? I will not argue the point with you either way but I am curious as to what you believe b/c I am reading your series which also contains many of your beliefs. It helps me get a feel for the author. Thanks again!

Regards,

Response #7:  

Good to make your acquaintance. Thank you for your question. I consider it very important for all Christians to "test the spirits" of any and all sources of truth before over-committing themselves to what otherwise might be harmful false teaching. I must say that I also appreciate your attitude in asking this question, respectful but unashamed of what you believe.

Let me start by saying that we certainly share some important common ground. I do indeed believe and teach that God holds all human life precious. After all, Jesus bore the sins of every single human being on the cross and paid the price for all so that all might have eternal life. If God did that even for those who hate Him, He certainly will not abandon the innocent.

God is our Creator and the inventor of the process by which we come into being. Clearly then we may be sure that the child that grows up in its mother's womb is of great importance to Him, and scripture is reflective of this as well:

(13) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. (14) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (15) My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, (16) your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16 NIV

This passage expresses my understanding of the matter perfectly: the unborn child is a wonderful, marvelous thing, the occasion of joy and thanksgiving. It is certainly alive but it does not have individual human life; it has not yet become an individual human being since it will not receive a human spirit until birth. For as David says here in verse 16 in commenting on the wonders of his formation before birth "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be". Our days begin at birth; our spirit is given at birth; our separate, individual human life begins at birth.

Often overlooked by readers of this section of BB 3A to which you refer is an important footnote which bears repeating here:

This is not at all to imply that for this reason the fetus has no worth in God's eyes. Quite to the contrary, the unborn are highly valued in scripture (Ex.21:22; Job 10:8-12; Ps.139:13-16; Is.44:24; 49:4-5). Further we may note that in the Bible children are considered a great blessing (cf. 1Sam.2:1-11 and Lk.1:46-55), with infertility seen as a curse (Hos.9:14; cf. Gen.38; 1Sam.1:11), and pregnancy as a blessing and occasionally even a means of justification (cf. Num.5:11-31 and Lk.1:25). Whereas, on the other hand, the sacrifice of children is an abomination (Lev.18:21; Deut.12:31; 18:10; Ps.106:37-38).

So I would not see the scriptural teaching of individual human life beginning at birth as inconsistent with the position that the unborn are much more than mere biological products and that they should be protected. In the heightened, politicized era in which we live this issue is one of the most controversial; as a result, the above has been proved to be a very unpopular position and has resulted in many individuals parting company with this ministry. My obligation to the Lord, however, is to discern as best I am able what the scriptures actually teach and teach that in turn to any and all who thirst for the Word.

As I have pointed out elsewhere, incorrect theology, even when it springs from the most noble of motivations, inevitably has harmful side-effects. In this case, seeing (incorrectly) independent human life as beginning in the womb has some disturbing implications. For one thing, it makes human beings the immediate source of human life and also then makes the spirit, whatever it may really then be, a materially generated thing. This is actually what many otherwise biblically based theologies teach, but if this were true, not only are the materialists then essentially correct (and we will then need to give Darwin a second look), but also how then do we expect our spirits to live forever after this world is destroyed and replaced by the New Heavens and the New Earth? Clearly we are spiritual as well as material creatures, and the spiritual part has to come directly from God to be untainted by the flesh and capable of being saved. Also, if we do not possess a pure, spiritual part, how can we possibly know anything for certain about God and His truth (i.e., the materialist position wreaks havoc with biblical epistemology; see the link)?

I am personally repelled and appalled even by the idea of abortion, but if abortion is murder, consider that then any form of birth control which prevents a fertilized egg from coming to term amounts to the same thing. Indeed, all birth control would then be only a small (and somewhat hypocritical) step removed from being something just as bad.

These are difficult issues, and made the more so through the politicizing of them. But I am confident that the latter is unnecessary. None of the apostles condemned abortion or infanticide, both of which were common in their day, not because these things were not wrong, but because they are so egregious as to require no comment: anyone who is truly a Christian will recoil at the very notion. On the other hand, I think that there is no question when one looks at the issue historically but that the "human life begins at conception" position is not something that came from the Bible but something which instead arose in no small part from activists who wished to strengthen the anti-abortion position (utilizing Roman Catholic theology). For a true Christian, there is no question but that abortion is wrong; twisting the scriptures to accommodate one's own point of view and in the interest of a political agenda, however, is the road to spiritual disintegration.

If interested, here are some other links where you question is addressed more or less directly:

John "leapt for joy" in the womb - or did he?

Life Begins at Birth

Is the Soul a tertium quid?

In Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #8:  

Dear Bob,

Thank you very much for responding to my question so promptly. I too am pleased to make your acquaintance. First of all let me say that I consider myself "carefully open-minded". Meaning that I know for a fact I do not know everything when it comes to theology, the Bible and many other issues but I am also careful of who I listen too when I meet people with opinions different than my own, on certain subjects. Unfortunately I have grown up under teachings that were not always exactly biblical and as a result have been forced to find the truth of certain matters on my own with the help of the Holy Spirit of course. For example, I was the obnoxious little girl with all the questions in Sunday school about where the dinosaurs were in the bible? My Sunday school teacher asks my Mother to please keep me out of the class until I could learn to be respectful. Of course I wasn't being disrespectful I honestly wanted to understand how my school could teach me about dinosaurs and all the fossils of creatures no longer on the earth, and about beings that resembled human's and the Bible not also be able to explain these things. I made many teachers uncomfortable I guess b/c they did not know the answers to these questions and did not want to be forced to find them. How they themselves could not wonder these things is beyond me. I have always, even as a child, believed that the Bible was the absolute TRUTH and held the answers to questions like these as well as many others I had not even thought yet to ask. I had faith that one day God would answer my questions and so HE did. It was many years later but it did happen. One of the things that most stood out to me as I got older and still had no answers from anyone about the whole dinosaur issue was that the bible never talks about "creating water" in Genesis BEFORE we read that it already "was". (Gen.1:2) Not to mention "time", "space" and many other things that had to already be in effect during Genesis 1:2. To me this was evidence that there had to have been something here before we were. I began asking these questions at age 6 it has only been in the last 5 years (I’m 31 now) that I have found some of those answers. Finding information on the "Gap Theory" was like finding gold to me. I "happened" across a web site that I believe no longer exists (www.christiangeology.com) The site under this address now is not the correct one. This was the very first time I had heard BIBLICAL evidence supported by the Bible as well as other Christians that held water for me in regards to explaining the things I had ALWAYS wondered. The reason I am telling you this is because I am open and very much interested in learning all about the Bible and people's interpretations of it but I want the information I count as truth to be biblically based of course and confirmed. The fact that you cite many verses of scripture through out your writing helps add validity to your arguments by the way and as a reader I appreciate that.

The issue you bring up about the "soul" not being a separate part of the human beings makeup was jarring b/c I had never heard of anyone saying anything that opposed that belief...at least no Christian. I went to bible college for a few semesters and even there we were taught that a person "IS a spirit, LIVING in a body who PROCESSES a soul." The "soul" being the "mind, will and emotions" of every individual. This explanation did leave me wondering what exactly the role of the "spirit" was? If it had nothing to do with the mind, will and emotions then was it functioning similar to what the body functions as here on earth? I wasn't sure and still am not, it confuses me. I still am up in the air on the whole "soul issue" to be honest but find your take very intriguing and am currently praying about it and giving it to God but you made a compelling argument.

I have to admit this theory of life beginning only AFTER actual birth is disconcerting because it challenges what I have always trusted to be the truth. But I believe we should be challenged in our beliefs from time to time, we should be able to back up factually what we believe and why. My little brother was almost aborted for health reasons but ended up being born and being 100% healthy with no complications. That same little brother got his girlfriend pregnant and without his permission and behind his back she aborted the child right before the second trimester, she said she miscarried but we do not believe that to be the case. So this issue hits very close to home for me. I have always imagined that my brother would one day get to meet the son he almost had when he got to heaven but from what you are saying there never was a person inside her womb FOR him to one day meet. So how is the fetus active and moving during the pregnancy if he or she is not yet in possession of a spirit, wouldn't it be just a house like an empty vessel, like Adam would have been right before he became a living being? Like we are after we die, unable to move b/c our spirit is no longer in the body? Without life imply's unable to move or breath. I hope you understand what I am asking, and I of course will read the information on the other links you provided. I can see the validity of your argument so don't take this to mean I don't but it does go against all that I have believed. But b/c I am open to learning I will take it into consideration as I will many of the things you said in this series. Thank you for taking the time to write the series, share it with others and be available to answer questions concerning it.

1. Do you then believe that animals have spirits? Because they are alive and cognizant, not like human beings of course but they aren't inanimate objects either, such as a man would have been just made out of clay with no breath having been breathed into his nostrils. I'm just curious. I'm about 1/2 through your 4th segment in this series by the way so if you touch on these subjects later on in the series I apologize. I have yet to read anything pertaining to this at present. And I have never been able to decide what I believe about animals. Does the bible talk about this anywhere that you are aware of?

2. And what do you believe the beings that most of science attributes to being our ancestors to really be? I know that science has been struggling to find a genetic link between these primate beings and our DNA make-up, and as of today has yet to find that link and never will b/c it doesn’t exist. But what do you believe these creatures to have been? Why do they look so similar to man today? There's too much evidence that they were around so they have to fit into the picture somewhere.

3. And if there were "giants" around at some point in the earth's history, in the people before Noah's flood, why haven't there been fossil records of such individuals or skeletal remains rather? Sorry to bombard you with questions, feel free to answer the ones you want to and ignore the ones you don't, or answer none of them. Also I am grateful for any other links you can provide to give me any more information on subjects such as the one's we have discussed or the questions I have asked. I am by nature inquisitive so please forgive me if it is too much.

Thanks again!

Response #8: 

You are most welcome, and you have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I find your attitude of wanting to get to the bottom of all the truth in the Bible most refreshing – it is one that I share. No one person has all the answers, but all the answers are in the Bible (all the answers we need, at any rate), if only we persevere in looking for them. If there is one facet of methodology where I would want to mark out this ministry as different from many others, it is that it truly is "Bible first". That is to say, in the process of doing exegesis on individual books and in the process of researching particular areas of theology, the Bible – if trusted and carefully attended to – frequently leads us to information and conclusions and answers to questions we may not ever have even had in the first place. Not that researching particular questions is a bad thing at all. It's just that the best answers are always provided by a very wide-ranging search into all truth (as one truth illuminates another), whereas too narrow a focus can sometimes lead to a sort of spiritual myopia (as one issue fails to take into account other areas of biblical truth which otherwise would illuminate it). That is why this ministry seeks to delve into the whole realm of doctrine and biblical teaching. Exploring everything for anyone interested has always been my overriding goal. As you can see from the site, while much has been done, there is much left to do.

From your two emails, it appears to me that you are reading the Bible Basics series. That is a great place to start but as you can probably tell it is not the only place to start. I would highly recommend to you the Satanic Rebellion series (see the link). For example, in part 2, "The Genesis Gap" (see the link), you will find a detailed explanation of the gap to which you refer in your email (various defenses of this interpretation can also be found on the email response page; a good starting point containing additional links is "Genesis Gap: Questions and Answers."). You will also find information about the fossil record in SR2 and information about the so-called "giants" (the KJV's translation of the now more often transliterated Hebrew word "Nephilim") in part 5 (section III.1, "Satan's antediluvian attack on the purity of the human line (the Nephilim)"; see also email response "Giants and Nephilim" which likewise has many other links). To put it succinctly, the Genesis Gap explains the fossil record, hominids, dinosaurs, how Satan can have already fallen at the time of the Garden of Eden, etc. It is also very clearly present in the Hebrew grammar (again, explained exhaustively in the links above). So I agree: there is, for example, no true link between fossilized humanoids and human beings. Whether or not archaeology and science have correctly separated pre-Genesis Gap skeletal remains from pre-flood remains is, however, an open question as far as I am concerned. I am highly skeptical of the self-serving and wildly hypothetical dating methods of each (see the link: in SR 5, "The Problem of Science and the Bible"; see also, in CT 2A, "Hodge and Darwin"; and the email response "Science and the Bible"). As you will see from these links, it is my understanding that the great flood did much to change the electromagnetic status quo of our planet, thus rendering all hypotheses dependent upon the assumption that the current situation should be projected back into the distant past ipso facto irrelevant. The "giants", really "fallen ones" or "Nephilim" are half-human, half-angelic creatures whose proliferation was the essential reason for the need to destroy the pre-flood civilization (as made clear both in Genesis chapter 6 and in the New Testament passages which comment on that situation, i.e., 1st Peter 3:19-20a; 2nd Peter 2:4-10a; Jude 1:5-7). Much more about all that in the links above.

As to animals, it says in Ecclesiastes 3:21, "Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" (NIV). Animals clearly have do have spirits. God is called the "God of the spirits of all flesh" (Num.16:22; 27:16), and that certainly would seem to include more than just mankind (please see the link: Aspects of the Genesis Curse on Animals). The problem with trying to research some of these things with the English Bible alone is that all translations are interpretations, so that where a particular version has "decided" what some passage means, it always affects the way a passage is rendered, and that will be for the worse if the translators have in fact understood incorrectly. Take, for example, this critical passage in Psalm 104:

24 How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
27 These all look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
Psalm 104:24-30 NIV

This is not a bad translation, but it obscures the critical point that "breath" in verse 29 is the same word as "Spirit" in verse 30 (i.e., ruach). It is entirely defensible to see "Spirit" as the Holy Spirit since He is the One who performs the quickening function of initiating or restoring life (Rom.8:11; and also Jn.3:5; Gal.2:25; cf. Gen.7:22 and Rev.11:11 compared with Rom.8:2). However, since the Spirit gives life by providing breath which is identical to providing a spirit – and this in the context above is what it means to be "a creature" (v.24) and to be "created" (v.30) – this quintessential role of the Spirit in creating life by providing a breath-spirit (or a living spirit which animates and provides independent life) along with the concomitant truth that breath and spirit are not only the same word but clearly conjoined (i.e., the immaterial spirit is represented by the breath-spirit whose presence in a body is always temporally coterminous) is largely lost to the English reader.

I am not a scientist or a medical doctor, and I certainly allow as to how we ought not to overlook empirical facts. However, while I do take that approach, when I see information reported as empirically factual and these facts seem to contradict what scripture says, I know by very simple deduction that either my understanding of the Bible is wrong or that the so-called facts do not actually mean what they are being interpreted to mean. No scientific testimony can tell us when life begins precisely because science assumes that animals and human beings are purely material, whereas scripture attributes a spiritual part to each (personally, I do think it likely that animals will be found in eternity; they are not moral creatures in the sense of having to make a choice in this life for or against God, but that is the most important distinction between us). Since science is not looking for a spiritual part and since it could not find it if it were (because by definition the spirit is not material and therefore undetectable by any materialistic investigation), science really cannot tell us when life begins. My best guess about the growing body of information about the behavior of the fetus in the womb is consonant with what we find in Luke's gospel where we are told that John's unborn body "leapt" . . . but did so when Elizabeth heard Mary's voice (for more on this please see the links in the prior email). That is to say, the fetus is physically part of the mother and shares in the mother's physical life; it is not an independent person yet possessing a spirit. All scriptural evidence points to birth as the time when we become "us", so that the pattern of the creation of Adam and Eve is repeated whenever God brings any child to birth: the breath is not the spirit per se, but is the sign of the spirit, or, better, the counterpart of the spirit. Not all fetuses brought to term are given spiritual life. Some are still-born (whether or not God counts them as persons and has a spirit for them is something about which we are not given to know as far as I can tell from scripture). As to aborted fetuses, just as God has apparently determined not to give a spirit to every single unborn child, so God's plan cannot be overturned by our presumptuous actions. No one can say that an aborted child will not be in heaven with us or that a still-born child will be or vice-versa. In my opinion, that is one we have to leave to Him.

In my reading of scripture, humanity is a perfect whole (please see the link in BB 4B: "God's Plan to Save You"). That is to say, by deciding to create the universe of moral creatures, God obligated Himself to create it all, angels and mankind, fallen and elect, believers and unbelievers. The times and circumstances of our creation have been perfectly chosen, but every single one of us from Adam and Eve to the last person to come into the world before the coming of the New Heavens and the New Earth are part of a perfect pattern from the perfect mind of God, one that had to be completely adhered to if there were to be a world at all (cf. Ps.119:96). There are many aspects to and many implications of this truth (see the link above), but one of them certainly is that no birth and no death is arbitrary: God cares for all of His creatures, even the smallest sparrow. He most assuredly has each and everyone of us in mind for good, wishing all to come to salvation (e.g., 1Tim.2:4). We may rest at ease that no one who was ordained to be will "not come to be" because of anything we may do. The Plan of God anticipated every single thing with the utmost perfection, and is carrying everything through with absolute accuracy.

On the soul, yes, it is a confusing thing for many Christians, mostly because of the problems Roman Catholic theology has infused into the issue over the years. A quick check in any concordance of the word "soul" in the Bible will show that the idea of it as a sort of "spirit" with an independent existence is not easily discernible from the actual scriptures: that is what the spirit is. The "soul" is really the "self" (that is what nephesh means in Hebrew) or the "life" (one of the major things that psyche means in Greek; although medieval theology's fascination with Platonic philosophy created problems here too). The "soul" is essentially a synonym for the "heart", the inner-person where our spirit and physical inner life (brains and emotions) interface. While there is much more to say about all this, you will find the matter discussed in the context you are presently studying in BB 3A (do feel free to write me back about any of this).

In short, I am encouraged by your enthusiasm for the Bible, and I count it an honor that you are finding these studies of some use in your quest. Write any time.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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