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Spiritual Growth III

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Question #1:

Hi Dr,

I hope all is well with you, your family and this ministry. My prayers are with you daily.

In reading all your studying, you keep mentioning believing the truth of the Word or similar phrases. Are you mostly referring to how you apply His Word in all the different circumstances of your life or just believing what the Word states or is it a combination?

Just need clarification. In Christ our Lord

Response #1:

Thanks much for your prayers, my friend. I keep you and your family in mine day by day as well.

To answer your question with precision, I think I would need an example. I often say that application of the truth is what spiritual progress of the mature believer is all about – and one cannot apply what one does not both know and believe. Hearing the Word is good, but does not necessarily produce growth. One has to believe what one has heard for the "knowledge" (gnosis) to become "full" or "useful knowledge" (epignosis). We can only use what we have confidence in – the Spirit uses the truth we have believed. If we apply that truth, it is still truth; we are in such cases acting according to the standard of whatever truth we are applying. Truth is truth, whether or not we know it, believe it, or live according to it.

I hope this answers your question, but do feel free to write back about this.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the very Truth and Word of God,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

Here is an extremely harsh punishment meted out by God on stubborn children:

"If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid."
Deuteronomy 21:18-21

I don't think God is caring about the parents here. I think this is a warning toward Israel regarding being willfully obstinate against the Lord. God is the Father and Israel is the son.

Response #2:

I think it is right to draw parallels like that from examples in the Law (e.g., 1Cor.9:4); however, the literal meaning is also important. I always try to point out to people that for most of these stringent and non-compromising tenets of the Law there is usually no evidence that they were ever carried out. Given the fact that through almost all of the pre-exilic history of Israel very little of the Law was adhered to – not even keeping the festivals regularly – it's not surprising that a difficult commandment like this would be overlooked. As with all the commands designed to keep Israel completely free of all evil and unbelief, we have in the Law a perfect standard to which no people could have ever complied; but the perfect standard is still important to ponder in our hearts. Would that we would all be that intolerant of any compromise of the truth in our own hearts, "casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2Cor.10:5 NKJV). That is the way to walk with the Lord through this world, being in it but not of it . . . in our hearts at all times.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Connection between these two verses?
 

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."
(Col. 3:3)

"I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
(Psalm 16:8)

Response #3:

Absolutely!

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
Psalm 73:28 NIV

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
James 4:8a NKJV

That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
1st John 1:3 NKJV

A big part of the benefit of spiritual growth is a growing closeness to and fellowship with the Lord. This kind of thing can't be forced (as in Thomas à Kempis); but it is a real blessing that comes to the mature believer, going hand in hand with spiritual growth and a better daily defense of the high ground of the heart/mind and we make every effort to "think about the things above" (Col.3:2). Here are some links on this:

Focusing on Christ (in CT 1)

Imitating Christ (Peter #17)

The Christian Walk

Pursuing a Deeper Relationship with Jesus

Walking with Jesus

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom we love more than life itself,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Father's Love Letter: Dear Dr. Luginbill, I recently came across this letter and I liked it. However, since GOD has blessed me with you, I ask for your opinion on my judgment. Here is the link. I eagerly await your response. http://www.fathersloveletter.com

Response #4:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I hope all is well with you and with your family (keeping you in my prayers daily).

I had a look at this. Let me say to begin with that if you were blessed by reading this, I have no problem with that. But let me also observe, that when it comes to believers who are genuinely mature through growing spiritually in the proper way, many things of this sort will prove a blessing, more so than to the spiritually immature, because we have learned to filter out anything questionable and focus instead on things that are good and true. Just as when we hear a hymn, the words that are in accord with the truth which we have already learned and believed are the ones which will speak to us, whereas anything questionable or spiritually befuddled or outright wrong will be easily discarded through the spiritual discernment in the Spirit we have developed over time. We are not looking to the hymn (or this letter) for our spiritual sustenance.

The hymn analogy is a good one here, since there are many parallels. Writers of lyrics to hymns are not necessarily spiritual giants – or even mature believers. When they produce something that is a "hit" (whether we are talking now of old traditionals or something just out), it is because of an artistic knack with words coupled with a serendipitous matching of those words to a catchy tune that makes the song/hymn something to be repeated. Understand: it is not the content per se which makes hymns favorites, but the emotional effect they have as a "package deal". This can be good and bad. I don't believe I've ever read/heard the lyrics to a hymn where I would agree 100% with the doctrinal positions or spiritual "information" they espoused. That is perhaps understandable when one considers both the authors of these things and also the constraints and demands of the medium for which they are written. Sometimes, oftentimes, the "problems" are not so much of gross doctrinal error but rather of misplaced emphasis. In other words, it's often not an outright mistake in the truth but a slight twisting of the truth that catches my eye (or ear). And music is a very emotional medium, after all. So to the extent that a hymn gets us leaning the wrong way or feeling something for the wrong reasons, that is problematic. As I say, this happens less for mature believers than it does for babes in the Word. The problem is that nowadays most Christians are babes in the Word and far too many of them are getting their spiritual "food" almost exclusively from Christian music and the like, with the result that all they have is an emotional prop – one which will not sustain them in times of trouble because only the actual truth actually understood and fully believed can do so.

As a pastor-teacher whose job it is to look out for the flock and guard it against threats of all kinds – and there are many such these days – I naturally react to this sort of thing in a slightly different way. While it would be easy just to "go with flow" on this "love letter", because you ask about it I am responsible to go into a little more detail. I don't find anything absolutely objectionable about it – and I can certainly see how many Christians would find it inspirational – but it does leave me with an odd "feeling". That is to say, I have been working on my relationship with the Lord for many, many years in a fairly intensive way (just as we all should be doing), trying to grow closer to Him daily through understanding and believing the truth of scripture (just as we all should be doing). But the impression I am left with after reading this letter is ever so slightly – and disconcertingly – different from the one I have about the Father I know and love so much – and also respect and revere to what I hope is the depth of my being (working on that in any case). Now if this disconnect is only my problem, then I need to adjust course; but if it really is coming from the letter, then I would be loath to recommend it or praise it.

"Impression" is of a course by definition a subjective word. But to some extent we have to approach such compositions (hymns and all other Christian music again providing a very good comparison) in a subjective way. When someone says something or sings something or writes something which is not a direct quotation from scripture, the best we can say about it is "that is consistent with scripture as I know and understand it" or (close but significantly different) "that is at least not to my knowledge inconsistent with scripture as I know and understand it". But it is certainly not the same as scripture – and this is the critical point. The greatest hymn ever written is not scripture, and if we ever find ourselves, because of our emotional attachment to a particular piece of music – or poem or fictitious letter – thinking of it on the same level as scripture, we are opening ourselves up for spiritual trouble. Every hymn/bit of Christian music has allusions to scripture and talks about God in some way, but that is not the same as an actual passage of scripture itself. And the difference may only produce small blips on our spiritual radar, but it is a very significant one. That is because by conditioning us to hear a message which is not scripture as if it were scripture (as hymns also have a tendency to do), while we are not going to be helped at all by the not-really-scripture message – anything true in the lyrics we surely already know – we can be hurt by it – that is, by anything not true or anything only partly true or anything not verifiable as the truth or more particularly anything even slightly off from the truth. Such things, because of the emotional appeal of the medium, tend to stick in our hearts and cause spiritual indigestion (at best), and the same is true of this letter.

This is perhaps my biggest issue with the letter. Every statement is given a scripture reference, giving the impression that the English words superimposed above the citation are, if not quotes, so close to what the verse says and means that there is no true distinction. That is most definitely not the case, and in some instances I find very little relation between what the verse actually says/means and how it is being represented. Secondly, all actual verses of scripture occur in a context. Taking a verse out of context and then stringing it together with other verses also taken out of context can result in a meaning or at least an impression that is significantly different from the meaning or at least the impression we would get of them reading them in their proper contexts. And when what we have is not the actual translation of a verse but a paraphrase or interpretation which in some cases is incorrect, then the problem is multiplied greatly.

So what do we really have here? What we have is this person's own personal sermon on the topic of the Father's love. Sermon's are popular but seldom edifying. Does this letter advance our knowledge about the Father? Does it lead us to new insights about His love? I doubt it (in the case of mature believers, anyway). Why do we enjoy it, then? We enjoy it, to the extent that we enjoy it, because it produces an emotional effect regarding someone who loves us. That it well and good. God does love us. But the impression I have from reading this is that everything is roses and puppy dogs. I don't find anything here about sin or death. I don't find anything here about the justice of God (and the need to revere Him), or the righteousness of God we get through faith. And more particularly, I don't find anything here about the cross. Jesus is mentioned a couple of times as "my son", but I don't find anything here that would lead me to think that Jesus is God (which He is), or that appreciating His work for us in dying for our sins on the cross is the greatest expression of the Father's love and a necessary part of the gospel (which it most certainly is). In short, the impression given here is not of a Father who ought to be revered – and that is certainly an important part of the true picture.

I don't see anything in this letter that a Mormon or a JW would disagree with – and I was unable to find out what Mr. Adams' background is, but I did find a number of things on the internet which voiced similar concerns to mine (easy enough to find yourself if interested). I will also note that his book is for sale (not that this is a fatal flaw, but it is worth knowing that there is somewhat of a profit motive here). I won't engage in the exercise, but I can assure you that using his method a person could support virtually any pet point of view (even demonstrably unbiblical ones) by writing a similar letter with one statement leading to another and "backed up" more or less with scriptures which have some relation if only vaguely to the next point I want to make.

So it is not only fair to ask "what's the purpose here?" but in fact is absolutely essential. Are we better off for having read this letter? Perhaps, if, as mature believers, we are merely reminded of the Father's great love for us. If, however, we are so taken by this production that we begin to follow Mr. Adam's more closely and come as he tells us he did to resist and reject the "performance based Christianity" he was "delivered from", that is problematic, especially if by that phrase we mean any idea that God is also a God of righteousness and judgment, that He would discipline us for our sins (as any truly good Father must), or that He is tolerant of false doctrine even to the point of not appreciating and accepting the deity of His Son (so we don't need to worry whatever we do or say or think or believe because He loves us and that is that). Christ had to endure the entire punishment for all of our sins for us to be saved in the first place, rising in the flames in the darkness until He had paid for each and every sin. That was was not a "happy day" for Him or the Father. It is for us, since we are saved thereby. But a "milk and cookies only" approach is no way to grow. We need to appreciate the whole picture, not just part of it.

It seems to me that part of Mr. Adams' objective here is to obscure that part of the truth he doesn't like, and I can think of nothing more spiritually dangerous than that.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

I eagerly awaited your response and accepted it with joy. As always, it is good to hear from you. I too, though liking the poem of Scriptures, felt I should ask the one I consider MY Pastor - Teacher about these feelings. And, after reading your response I must let you know that I see this poem with the understanding that GOD paid a very great price for my life that has been so wonderfully made. Yes, included in my creation will be what GOD the Son has physically and spirituality done for me. I am learning from a very good Pastor - Teacher.

Thanks Dr. Luginbill, my brother in our Savior Christ, Jesus.

Response #5:

You're most welcome!

I'm always pleased to see when a believer has grown to the place of good spiritual discernment. Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ – and thanks so much for all your good words (Ps.115:1).

In our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hello Dr. Luginbill, I hope this email finds you well. Thank you for all the time you must sink into this work, it is such a blessing.

I have a friend who is finishing up the Satanic Rebellion, I was unsure which work to recommend next. I am finishing up the recent Eschatology work published and love it.

Do you think I should point him towards CT or the Eschatology work?

It's been over a year since I read CT, how would you say they differ?
Thanks again,

Response #6:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I am doing well and I hope the same is true for you and yours.

As to your question, BB 2B: Eschatology was conceived as an introduction to both the SR and CT series (more or less); SR is directly followed by CT. So I would suggest CT next. BB 2B is mostly derived from these other two series and is best seen as a review (although a very long review – and there are a few new things therein).

Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob,

Is Proverbs 24:17 an injection against schadenfreude? Is schadenfreude a sinful emotion prevalent among believers?

Response #7:

Taking delight in the suffering of others is a sinful emotion prevalent within the human race. N.B., we can be happy when we are delivered and rejoice at the fact of the Lord's giving the evil what they deserve, but the prohibition in this verse does as you correctly characterize it refer to a smug self-satisfaction over bad things happening to those who oppose us personally (and its not even made clear if the "enemy" is evil in this context). Solomon gives a very practical reason for avoiding that mistake, but it's a good principle of godliness as well. "Lest the Lord see it" should remind us that this (life) is not really about our own little selfish perspective; it's about the plan of God and God's opinion/point of view on everything. He wants all to be saved, all to grow, all to progress and produce. That should be our point of view as well – a big part of true godliness being seeing things as God sees them. So we can be happy when delivered and relieved, and joyous about God rendering just deserts, and even take the lesson with humility when someone is taken down a peg by God, but without being smug and sardonic over someone we personally dislike (for whatever reason) finding themselves under the Lord's displeasure. That turns the correct, godly point of view upside down since God wants the good of all (though few respond to Him so as to receive it).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

The attacks on my faith are getting more intense and, strangely, more bizarre. I got this feeling in the car that maybe I would enjoy being eternally tortured. I convinced myself that an eternity of unbearable punishment in the Lake of Fire is extremely unpleasant, but there was this persistent "feeling" telling me otherwise. I have no idea where this thought came from, as even unbelievers know that it is a bad place.

Response #8:

The biggest disadvantage to being in the Lake of Fire is being separated from the Lord. Unbelievers don't care about that but we certainly would! So the solution to this inappropriate fear is to focus on our love for Him and appreciation for what He has done for us – and if we do love Him and do appreciate what He has done for us then, by definition, we are believers and are only wasting our time and emotional energy in giving this sort of thing a second thought. The evil one and his minions frequently attack on a mental/emotional level like this, but our power is in knowing we are not required to give such thoughts the time of day; that we are free to reject them out of hand; that we have the Holy Spirit and with minimal effort can focus on good things which are true instead of bad things like this which are lies.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 NASB

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/halloween-decorations-taken-from-house-cryptic-message-left-behind-southeast-albuquerque/4304895/?cat=500&utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

Two days later, something even creepier happened. The Castillos got their stolen extension cord back, but it had a note attached, saying 'I destroyed your wicked decorations. Turn from all sin or you will perish.'

One pastor (same one with a linguistic degree) said that if we were to classify the major monotheisms, Evangelicalism would be its own branch of the Abrahamic religions, independent and equal with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It seems like Evangelicalism is no longer a branch of Christianity so much as it is its own religion, with a semi-Arian Christology (God in Evangelical parlance refers to God the Father, never Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit) and a strict deterministic soteriology.

Response #9:

I don't know of any denomination which is doing what God wants done. In fact, I am of the opinion, based on analysis of scripture, that denominations are wrong. So I would not be a member of, e.g., the Evangelical Free Church or the Southern Baptists, etc., etc.

But beware of focusing on one church or one pastor or one group as hypocritical and bad; it tends to let the others off the hook on the one hand, and justify one's own behavior on the other (cf. 2Cor.2:10:12). Instead, true followers of Jesus Christ follow Him positively as individual Christians and help other individual Christians do the same through ministering the Word or supporting its ministry (which means prayer, encouragement, and all manner of things – such as you helping your next door neighbor as you have done). That's the "good stuff" which the Lord loves . . . but it will never make the papers.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Professor, when are you going to get the "Study of the Bible" series complete? V/r

Response #10:

Thanks for the interest, my friend! I started this series when the ministry had no prospect of being "online" – since there wasn't yet an "online". It began as something simple but I fear "basic" doesn't accurately describe it now (since if put together it already is much longer than most multi-volume systematic theologies). I am working on it. It took a long time to finally get 2B Eschatology out (requiring a complete chopping of both the SR and CT series plus), but now that I have the first eight parts out, I'm taking things seriatim. So the next installment will be 6A Peripateology. This will take a while. I have been collecting material for this one for many years, and still have primary research to do as well. I am currently in the process of sifting through and organizing the things I already have. I've gotten a pretty good working outline constructed (my old dissertation advisor used to say that this was half the battle when tackling any book-size project), and hope to have the real writing commence sometime before winter begins [n.b., as of today I'm about halfway done]. We'll see. Sometimes these projects go quicker than anticipated but more often it's the other way around. "Writing is slow". Another gem from my old dissertation advisor which has also turned out to be the absolute truth. It's especially true in this case inasmuch as I've never seen anyone else tackle this very important subject in a systematic way – in fact I had to coin a word for this one to encapsulate "the study of the Christian walk with Christ".

After 6A, 6B, Ecclesiology, should go more quickly, but I have an awful lot of material to go through on this one as well. Part of the problem with 6A will be how to cover Christian ethics and morality in a way that is at once somewhat substantive but also does not get so far into the weeds that there is no way out. After all, long books have been written about, e.g., Christian marriage, and even these don't usually get to the really important biblical considerations (to take just one area out of a voluminous number); my plan is to demonstrate with a few areas the process a Christian should go through to find the right answers from scripture, from the Spirit's guidance, and from the application of general principles or "virtues" – that is the way to walk with Christ rather than having someone write up a "rule book" since doing that usually makes mistakes and also gives people the idea that anything not covered is "OK" or automatically conforms to what they want to do (which is not always what the should do). 6B has some related issues; for example, I have a great volume of material on the subject of water-baptism – in addition to the many postings already at Ichthys. However, since this is not even a legitimate ritual for the Church Age, I really don't want to include a hundred single-spaced pages of discussion on something that's supposed to give a "basic" overview of how the Church should operate. Once I get through with these two, part seven will be a labor of love but also a time-consuming piece. There is much to say about the Bible and its books; I have a good outline for this one (Bibliology) already, but it will a painstaking undertaking and will require more original research than I have yet been able to get to (although here too I have a great volume of material which will have to organized and fit into place).

A long way to say that the end, while in sight, is in sight the same way the moon is in sight: I can see it, but it might take me a minute to get there.

Again, many thanks for your interest, my friend! It helps prod me along when there is a lot of flak in the way when I remember that there are good folks out there who are looking forward to these things coming out. In the meantime, if you have any questions whatsoever on any aspect of any of these as yet not produced pieces, please do feel free to write and ask. There are parts of all these topics already at Ichthys one place or another, but there is always something that hasn't yet been addressed.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

I'm always amazed how quick you respond. I use my phone (it takes forever to type) to reply to your messages as my computer is in an open barn with all our households. We couldn't afford a storage unit and we were offered an open barn with no door to store everything we owned. At anytime someone could take anything. Its all been down there for over a year now. The moisture here is high and some things have gotten mold. At one point I was upset. Now I'm just like whatever its just stuff. I think its time to give it all away or sale.

Thanks for your prayers! A friend just moved out of Denver last week. He came down for the weekend and we went Steelhead fishing. I introduced your website to him and he read about the 3 false Doctrines. He really liked it and mentioned he was going to continue to read your writings.

Yes you are absolutely right! People are real worries today. I'm fairly laid back when it comes to my kids. I get hammered on it all the time from family and people in general. I don't get all worked up and hover over everything my kids do. I'm all about getting into the mud (so what if I have to change there clothes 5 times a day); I'm all about having a bonfire and letting them have a stick so they can play in it. I'm all about letting them play outside unattended to a certain degree. My older kids survived and have memories and confidence forever. I find it interesting that my kids have never gotten a broken bone or stitches under my umbrella. I really do think that's one reason I have great kids. I watch but don't hold them back. If they make a mistake we are here for them. I remember running the town also when I was young.

Have a wonderful evening.

Response #11:

You certainly have an inspiring history! It's a testimony to the grace of God and to the importance of listening to the Spirit to navigate through this world (which, of course, is only really effective through a deep understanding of and belief in the truths of the Word of God).

People do like their stuff. I might be tempted to say that this is more of an issue for women than for men (nesting instinct and all), but I know plenty of guys who would be lost without their Polo shirts (have a few myself), golf clubs, scuba gear, guns, more guns, cars, motor cycles . . . it's just often different "stuff". But of course our Lord said, "whoever of you does not bid farewell to all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Lk.14:33; cf. Ps.39:6). By which our Lord meant not that we have to burn all we have or give it away and go around naked and starving, but that we have to be ready to lose whatever it is we might have – just as Job was. It's hard to contemplate, and possibly just as hard to contemplate as it is to do (cf. Matt.19:22). But God never leaves us without what we need to function in this world and do what He has called us to do. That is the key. It may look like it's going to happen; we may temporarily be in great hardship, but though we fall seven times, He will always lift us up. Your relaxed attitude in seeing your "stuff" decay is precisely the right one – we should all be so spiritually well-grounded. Good for you! And we know that the Lord is capable of giving us more than we could ever imagine. And we know that if we had the whole world it would not be nearly as dear as having Him who gave it. And we know that even if we could possess the whole world it would only be for the blink of an eye – because that is what this life is, after all (e.g., Jas.4:14).

To me, that is the essence of true "godliness", not acting holy, not being terrified of God, but out of respect and love for the Lord and all that Jesus has done for us growing to the point of seeing things from His point of view more and more day by day. If He were visibly standing by our side when we experienced great losses or whatever we are called upon to endure, no doubt we would take it much better – but He is standing right by our side . . . and of course is actually on our inside. It takes a bit of growth and consistency in application to remember these things and apply them when the pressure is on, but that is what we are called to do.

Thanks for being a great witness for Jesus Christ! I know that He has great things in store for you and your family, and I look forward to seeing what He brings about in His perfect timing.

In Jesus Christ, God become man to die for us.

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dr. Luginbill,

Hope you are well and safe. I’m sure you and yours are gearing up for the onslaught of holidays to come. Well… joyous news for me! I’ve found a church to attend. I heard a sermon on the radio by a local pastor several years ago and could never figure out where they were located. Then again I heard a sermon dealing with the end-times and again – where are they!?! Then I saw construction going up and was a little upset with that because I thought it was going to be another quickie-mart-gas station, ugh. Lo and behold! It was Christ Community Church in the next town over! I met with the Pastor and he listened very patiently of all troubles and woes… (bless the man) and he has introduced me to some sisters who are willing to work with me to get me thru all my mess and ‘cultic’ ideas from the past. I even met some folks who have family members still involved with very same people I was involved with and two folks who got themselves out. What a blessing for me! I wanted to let you know because like this pastor, you also, with all your hard work in sharing your knowledge of God’s word are setting me on a straighter path everyday.

Thank you so much Dr. Luginbill. You truly are a blessed man and I do hope to meet you on the other side!

Oh yea, I actually got my son and his girlfriend to attend once. Just once, but I’m working them!!

Have a most groovy holiday season!

In Christ,

Response #12:

It's good to hear from you, my friend, and thanks so much for your kind words.

It's been good to see your forward progress in the Word over the last few years. It seems to me that you have made very good progress in your spiritual life and relationship with Jesus Christ. I know that for most Christians having a physical fellowship with which to commune is highly desirable, and you know better than most the dangers of falling in with the wrong group. So I trust that you have vetted this church pretty well. If this CCC church is a part of the CCC denomination, I don't personally have any experience with them, but I did check out their doctrinal statement and it seems pretty sound. The one caveat I would have is that if I'm not mistaken they are historically a Pentecostal group – although some individual churches more than others. Also, of course, you probably know my feelings on denominations in general. Still, the proof is always in the pudding in regard to the particular church and the particular pastor, because regardless of statements and affiliations, an actual person with actual beliefs is the one who is doing the actual teaching (or not doing it) in any given actual church.

So I am happy to share your enthusiasm since I know this is a very important thing for you and your family. Please know that you are always also welcome at Ichthys and welcome to write me any time.

Best wishes for you and your family for a blessed Thanksgiving, and a very Merry Christmas too (if I don't hear from you before then).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Bob,

"A person's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?"
Proverbs 20:24

What does this proverb mean?

Sincerely,

Response #13:

This is a blessed verse to me, and a counterpart of Proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" (KJV). The essential point behind both verses, I believe, is that while human beings think we are in control of things, in fact there is much more going on in the world from the spiritual end than even mature believers have any idea of. So, for example, we use the free-will image of God we have been given to set a course forward as best we can, and this does demonstrate our true heart, that is, by what we are really shooting for and how, but it is the Lord who is really directing things. The people we meet, the circumstances that come up unexpectedly and completely outside of our control, indeed, all the myriad serendipities and vicissitudes of life, have all been written into the Plan from the beginning, taking into account where we are spiritually and where we are willing to go. That is to say, nothing in history from the world's point of view is really as it seems. The spiritual conflict and our part in it is what is key.

God honors all of our good intentions and has constructed the course of our lives to respond to and to reflect them – and He is even merciful to the full to those who have no use for Him and His Son our Lord, so that at least at the end it will be made clear to them that He did everything He could to save them (without taking away their free will, that is). For us believers, He is doing everything just and righteous to help us fulfill our spiritual potential in this life, setting the parameters of our path and guiding our steps. We clearly don't know what lies ahead. Tomorrow is a mystery. In fact, the Greek view (more level-headed than our contemporary, arrogant western one) is not one of marching forward into a future of our own making which is more or less anticipated (all of human history and all of human experience gives the lie to that!), but of walking backwards: we can see where we have been, after all, but we really have no idea what lies ahead. But we believers know that our Shepherd knows. He has a green pasturage for us near a pleasing brook that we may be refreshed physically and spiritually; He will lead us in a path that is righteous if we are willing to go; and despite the uncertainty of the future, especially for us on the cusp of the darkness of the Tribulation, we have no need to fear because He will bring us safely through that valley of the death shadow, directing us and protecting us with His rod and His staff, guiding us and encouraging us with the anointing of His Spirit, fulfilling our every need and bringing us safe home to be with Him at just the proper time. We do our best to walk after Him and to follow Him, but we have to trust Him, not our own understanding or anticipation of what is ahead, when it comes to the specific direction.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Professor,

I would appreciate a prayer for my professional situation. When I look back at the decisions I made in the summer, it is quite clear to me that I should have taken a different course . . . [details omitted]

In our Lord,

Response #14:

I will most certainly keep you in my prayers about this. Balancing a profession and a ministry is no easy task. Few attempt it, fewer still succeed in doing so, and none of us has a chance without the Lord's considerable help. I won't pretend to understand the details or all of the ins and outs. Professional sports in this country have their issues as well – obvious even to a person like myself on the outside looking in. I certainly don't want to influence you in the wrong way. One thing I feel constrained to point out, however, is that being a world-class success in this profession in which you are so gifted is really not your number one objective in this life. I know that if I had found myself at a really first class school with a "ranked" department of Classics, it would have been wonderful on the one hand, but it would have put a far greater load on my time and energy both to get tenure in the first place and then to maintain an acceptable forward progress in the second place. I did interview with the University of Michigan and remember at the time asking the chair what the tenure expectations were. He told me that one was expected to be "closing in on the second book" because "they want to make sure they're not tenuring a 'one idea guy' ". Well it took me about twenty years to polish off book number two here in Louisville (I don't think there will ever be a third!). Plenty of things in my life made research here go slower, but working on the ministry was definitely one of them, and I am pretty sure Ichthys wouldn't be what it is if I had gotten on at, e.g., an Ivy League school.

So while I have no doubt whatsoever that you are worthy of being in a position that is at the absolute top of your profession, it might just be worth considering that God may be working things out so that you have the time and energy to do what is really important. God knows everything, and while things always go better when we make the right choices and are sure we have made the right choices, I think it is also unquestionably true that if we are walking with Him He uses even our bad choices for the process of moving things in the right direction. Abraham was doubtless wrong to become worried and tell Sarai to pretend to the Egyptians that she was his sister rather than his wife, but God prevented catastrophe even so and used the sojourn there to enrich Abraham in spite of his questionable conduct. Unlike many people, Abraham seems to have learned and grown from these experiences.

That is a lesson for all of us to learn too. We can't afford to get the idea that we are pitching a perfect game, as they say in baseball, and then lose all focus and concentration just because one batter gets a hit. Wherever we are, God is there with us. We aren't going to be able to change the past, as you rightly note, so we need only be concerned about the present. The future is something which is always in God's hands alone, in spite of occasional appearances to the contrary. If we are walking with the Lord and honoring Him with the firstfruits of our time, energy and resources, truly loving Him more than anyone or anything in this temporary world, He is certainly capable of paving over any and all "tactical mistakes" we may have made concerning our careers or anything else, and even if we were morally in the wrong in making them, not just miscalculating. The Lord is good, and His mercy no one can fathom. I know that you are sacrificing much for Him – and believe me He knows it too. He is leading you to just the right place to produce a good crop for Him that springs up unto eternal reward – regardless of what it all means in the short run down here on earth in terms of your professional situation.

You have a good heart, my friend. Be pleased to continue to hand it over to the Lord in complete trust and faith in His mercy and forgiveness – and in His absolute wisdom in His will for your life.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question 15:

Do you have newsletters or info about yourself, daily teachings, etc.?

Response #15:

Hello Friend,

In terms of recent work, I try to post a rather extensive set of email questions and answers on that page every week (usually on Saturday night so as to be available Sunday morning; see the link). There are also major postings which come out when ready, usually not more than a couple a year (as most of these are "book length" and require "book level time and effort" to produce). These will be highlighted on the home page of Ichthys and also on the email page (link above). There is also an RSS feed for notification of postings (you can subscribe by clicking on that link at the top of the email page linked above). I have just now also placed your email address on my notification list. I only use this, however, for major postings (once or twice or so a year). For more information about the site, I would suggest exploring the series of site link buttons (see the link) at the bottom of the home page. One very good one to get started is the "Frequently Asked Questions" tab (link). Another page to check out is the "About Ichthys" page; this will lead you to my "Current C.V." as well as several pages which talk about the ministry and its development.

Do feel free also to write back with other questions you may not find addressed in the links above.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Professor, what is MerKabah? V/r

Response #16:

MerKabah is apparently some form of Jewish mysticism that has transmogrified even further into new age mysticism. From what I can tell, this word is supposed to mean "vehicle of light", but it is derived originally from the Hebrew word meaning "chariot" (rachabh means "ride" and merchabah is "a riding thing"). This word, by the way, is also used for the ark of the covenant which, symbolically, is a representation of the Lord's battle chariot (1st Chronicles 28:18). It is not a little ironic that practitioners of this nonsense who are looking for some "divine 'light' chariot of the gods" (cf. Ezek. chapters one and two) are going to get quite a shock when they see the Lord Himself appear in glory at the second advent.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Professor,

Your prayers are much appreciated. I feel that after all that has happened in these past 5 years and this season also a time is approaching when I need to apply all that I have understood and know to be true to find the right solution.

I agree, the nature of the ministry is not clear yet, but it's getting clearer. I've had a number of replies after the first short set of replies and a few of my friends have forwarded their questions. It might be, as in your case, an important part of teaching and it has been in fact one of my key motivations when it all started - to answer the questions and doubts of those searching for the truth and help them draw closer to the Lord. As for systematic studies - it is too early, but I have some ideas there too. Currently also, despite the direction certainly becoming clearer, I am as much making preparation and beginning to write my first replies as I'm acting as an agent encouraging all that might be interested in the truth to get it from your ministry. Theologically what I learnt I learnt almost solely from you.

As for work, a compromise with the world is inevitable (John 17:15-16), but we also have to keep ourselves unstained by the world (James 1:27). I'm not sure yet. I will do well to remember that God hasn't let me perish when things were much harder and in fact I remember those days fondly. If we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:8).

I agree, waiting is the hard part. This is why these last couple of months before the key decisions will have to be made are about waiting, but are also, as always, about growing in the truth, and not only growing in the truth, but also in truth clearing the heart from any worldly desires in it, so that it is fully in tune with God's will. Because in this Satan's world it's easy to forget that we are not of the world (John 17:16) and that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). As for things we have discovered that they are emptiness, we need to leave them behind and not look back (Luke 9:62) and leave whatever limits us from following the Lord with the whole heart (Matthew 19:22). I remember how helpful and sobering it was for me when you quoted Luke 14:25-33 as I was grieving. It is just as applicable now. I hope that not only God directs me, but that I also listen faithfully and recognise the right path.

In our Lord, who wants us to follow Him,

Response #17:

You have certainly been a blessing to me! I have been praying daily for the Lord to open up for you just the right door and to make the way forward clear. Seems like a lot depends on the particular ministry He has for you, but that is probably still a bit too foggy to bring into enough focus to have that guide you as yet. It sounds as if it would be a blessing if you could just move but I have no idea what is best, honestly. You are asking all the right questions and you are examining things from the right godly perspective. I know that the Lord will use all that to make things clear in time. Waiting until the time is always the hard part (at least for me). But that is a good deal of what spiritual growth finally ends up being all about. For what it is worth, I think you have done a marvelous job in handling all these tests and pressures over the years. It is clear that the Lord has brought you far. I am certain that He has something special for you, and I am very interested to see how He uses you to bless His Church.

Your friend in our dear Master and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Professor,

Thank you for your prompt and very helpful reply. Professor, it's hard for me to express the gratitude for all your help in these past five years. And your prayers now will also be much appreciated. It's been a very insidious test and I cannot wait to leave this place. I'm not sure what the right course of action is in all this and I hope this becomes clear. All the worldly commitments but one have been disappointments.

I know there is a purpose in all this. God has allowed me to see what it is to be alone. What it is to be healthy and what it is to be ill. What it is to live without sustenance and now also what it is to have bountiful provision miraculously given. For this I'm most grateful, in all these things He has worked it for good. But after all these tests (and I know new ones will come), I'm keen to find my place. But we all have to sojourn somewhere. And it is hard to believe, Professor, but I can tell you, as the person who has brought me to faith, a teacher and a true friend who has been with me in all this - although poverty has been tough, I remember those early days when I came to faith, the simplicity of my life, I know the right balance in all these things lies not where it is at the moment.

Your prayers will be much appreciated. I have no doubt there are new tests coming and they will only be getting harder. And the end time is near now. But I also know now that these last five years have provided me with tests coming from different directions and that maybe the time will soon be ripe for me to find a solution in all these things that will be sustainable long term, to find my place in all this.

In our Lord,

Response #18:

Thank you for your good words of wisdom and comfort, my friend. It is a pleasure to know such a kind, considerate and courageous Christian man as yourself!  Your letter reminds me of Paul's words:

(12) I know how to handle humiliation; I also know how to handle prosperity. I have learned by experience in each and every way how to handle being abundantly provided for and being impoverished, being in prosperity and being in a state of deprivation. (13) I have the strength to endure all [extremes] in the One who empowers me to do so.
Philippians 4:12-13

We will endeavor to keep running a good race, come what may.

Appreciate the update as well. I will indeed be keeping you in my prayers for all this

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety and I know that Jesus said not to worry. My mom is not doing well health-wise and she keeps on telling me that she rather pass on than to suffer physical pain, and this grieves me. I am asking all my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for my mom that she improves and gets much better. Also, one of my brothers are not speaking to my parents because of an argument they had in the past. He keeps hanging up on my parents and I think that's wrong and dishonorable. Please pray that my brother reconciles with my parents (especially my mom) before any of them passes away. Thank you for all your prayers!

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #19:

I have been and will continue to keep you and you mom and the rest of your family in my prayers daily, my friend.

I know these things can wear on a person. But God has this all planned out perfectly from before the beginning of time. He will work everything out for the good – for you love Him.

In the One who died that we might live eternally with Him, Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi, Dr.,

I hope all is well with you and your family and you have found some comfort along the way with The Spirit's help.

I have a question around a sentence in your Peter series on page 13 where you state in 2nd paragraph "But in our modern, western world (with some exceptions), personal tribulation of such an obviously extreme degree is relatively rare."

Are you mostly referring to martyrdom and imprisonment for faith as a part of personal tribulation? I would tend to think there are believers such as yourself who have gone under severe tribulation and not your daily run of the mill sort such as "loss of job, etc."

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #20:

Yes, that is what I meant indeed. The Peter series makes the point repeatedly that we all experience personal tribulations of every sort. But to be arrested, tortured and martyred for our faith is not common today . . . in the west. In China, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, India, Nigeria, etc., that is a different story. And it the Tribulation persecution of believers will rise to a whole new level.

I am keeping you and your situation in my prayers day by day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

First my condolences for the recent passing of your mother, I’m sure you miss the good and loving times you had with her, but I am glad to hear she is with the Lord, you will see her again.

I just wanted to share some recent experiences with you concerning my dealings with the lukewarm church around me. The area I live in is surrounded by several mega-churches, hundreds of smaller churches and one of the largest evangelical universities in the country. All of the churches that I am aware of subscribe to the popular false doctrines of the day, including the university. There may be a some good churches out there accurately handling God’s Word but I am not aware of them. Most of the Christian churches get the gospel of Jesus Christ right, and I commend them for this, but as you are well aware, they fall far short in the correct teaching of many doctrines leading to the stunted growth of the congregation. Of course I understand that stunted spiritual growth is the individual responsibility of each believer, if we are open to the truth God will lead us to it. The people crave the “ear tickling” doctrines that are being taught and really do not want the truth of God’s Word.

Not long ago a family member of mine that belongs to a lukewarm mega-church stood in my living room and sharply rebuked me for believing in the nearness of the Lord’s return claiming that “for two thousand years people have been saying Jesus is going to return and He hasn’t done so yet” {oblivious to her fulfilling the Apostle's words}. Recently I was discussing the death of Christ on the cross with a brother and how His blood is used as a metaphor for the cleansing of our sins and he inferred that I belonged to a cult. In a conversation with a woman who claims to be a sister in Christ, {she was extremely upset about the recent elections result}, I tried to reassure her that God was in control, and that Jesus will soon return to set things straight, to which she sharply replied that she “had grandbabies to worry about and if we would clean this world up and start doing the right thing Jesus wouldn’t have to come back so soon”. She was also kind enough to point out that I needed to quit drinking the kool-aid, what a dear! An usher at a church told me that we are at least a thousand years away from the return of the Lord. When I asked a Presbyterian minister who was wearing a “praise the lard” t-shirt with the picture of a pig on it, how far along God’s prophetic time-line we are concerning to the return of His Son, he replied that we “couldn’t know, that Jesus just told us to take care of the poor until He returns”. A recently returning missionary told me that there was nothing in the book of Revelation that would give us clues to the return of Christ. On another recent occasion I was discussing the false teaching of the rapture with a local church member and he accused me of being a false prophet! Wow, what a mess! I would laugh if it wasn’t so seriously disturbing.

We who embrace the truth of scripture are pariah’s in this lukewarm age, and it is only going to get worse! I take none of this personal and look at it all as training for the coming tribulation. Both your and Pastor Omo’s teaching [link to Bible Academy] have been a tremendous help to me. Thank you for everything! God will continue to bless you and your ministry!

Stay strong,

Response #21:

Thanks so much for your testimony. Priceless stuff! This wonderfully captures what is wrong with the church visible, all manner of genuine Christians who when it comes down to it are not really even interested in what the Bible has to say, and only even occasionally reference it to support some (often political) point of view – generally misusing it when they do so.

So while we who love the truth more than life itself may be pariahs among the lukewarm, that is a badge of honor in my book – and I believe also in the Lord's.

I appreciate all your good and encouraging words, my friend!

Wishing you a good week ahead.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

BOB - the SATAN'S WORLD SYSTEM chart that your work encouraged to make is more useful to me now in my re-study of Christology deepens (now in my 80's) - and I see more clearly it's guiding force throughout my professional life - THANK YOU!

In JOY, with JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD

Response #22:

Always good to hear from you, my friend! I think this chart has been helpful to many Ichthys readers, and I thank you again for making it available (it's linked on the Special Topics page along with your "Satanic Lies" chart).

Keeping you (and your work on the memoirs) in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

 I have learned that I'm short for a white dude – 5'11'', which, as I recently found out is actually shorter than average.

"For some say, 'His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.'"
(2 Corinthians 10:10)

My writing regularly inspires the fear of God in people. I've had Christians label me as "radical/extremist" on the strength of my writing. But in person I am really not much to see.

Response #23:

I can relate.  However, issues of personal stature and appearance are all relative – and all relatively unimportant. Swift's writings are very good on this. Even if a person were a big as Goliath it wouldn't matter to God a bit; even if a person were abnormally small, well, "man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1Sam.16:7 NKJV).

Keep up your good work for Him – you won't regret a bit your resurrection body, especially if it is emblazoned with many rewards and crowns.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dear Brother Bob,

My condolences and prayers for comfort and strength for you and your family.

I belatedly learned from your addendum in Ichthys website that your beloved mother passed away just about a day after I sent you the email below.

Even as I wish to comfort you, please know that your strong witness to the faith and dedication to your ministry during your (and your family's) time of grieving continue to edify me (and our Christian brethren in Ichthys, as well).

Sending you and your family my love, prayers and condolences.

Your brother in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Response #24:

Thanks so much for your kind words, my friend. They are very much appreciated indeed.

I also appreciate your encouragement.

Wishing you a wonderful year of spiritual growth and progress in the Lord.

In Jesus who is our all in all,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Good day Bob,

Thank you for your wonderful words. You are always spot on. Its always good to hear confirmation as what I'm feeling. I have really been enjoying reading your writings on your web site. Every chance I have I have my phone up to my face buried in your stuff.

Yesterday we went on a road trip and I spent the entire time reading The Coming Tribulation. I haven't completed it yet but I just wanted to say WOW! There isn't one thing I would disagree with. I'm so so thankful to have found your stuff. You are amazing. Thanks for all you do.

Your friend,

Response #25:

Thanks for the encouragement! It's much appreciated.

How goes the house search et al.?

Keeping you and your family in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

 

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