Ichthys Acronym Image

Home             Site Links

Believers in the World II: 
Confronting False Groups and False Teaching

Word RTF

Question #1: 

Thanks for the excerpt. MAY THE LORD CONTINUE TO USE YOU TO HELP PEOPLE LIKE ME. Each time I study your teachings, I am always stricken in my spirit to talk to my friends in the Lord here to turn away from their wrong beliefs and doctrines they had held unto for long such as tongues, miracles and most especially pre-trib rapture, but I don't know how to go about it. They will say I am preaching heresy. But I have them in mind and if I let them be who knows they might continue in it till they found themselves in tribulation. Any advice?

Response #1:  

Thanks so much for your generous words. As to your question, it's always a judgment call as to when and how to interact with people who are not necessarily responsive to the truth. When it comes to those who are not only misinformed but vehement about their false positions, great care should generally be taken about the times and circumstances of trying to correct them. There is a time and place for this sort of thing. Prayer and watchfulness for the opportunities the Spirit provides are important in getting this right.

We all have our gifts and ministries from the Lord, so I would not presume to tell you not to try to change these people's minds. However, we also have to keep in mind our Lord's warning about casting "pearls before swine"; such individuals have a tendency to reject the blessed truths we are proffering and instead try to destroy us in their resentment. Please see the links:

"Pearls before swine I"

"Pearls before swine II"

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus, our Fortress and Rock of Refuge,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I pray that all is well with you. I am really beside myself, a family member is teaching their children from the bible and handbook of the Jehovah witness that clearly state Jesus Christ our (Savior) as Teacher only not even the Son of God which, they, the JWs say now they believe in. To counter this I PRAY all day long for my the children and for the children around the world who do not know our Savior at all my heart is truly burdened for all children in this world as I write my heart hurts … because this really pains me, that there are no real resources for children to learn scripture.

Bob, I just sure wish/pray for something more I can do to intervene. A lesson from the bible that really teaches who God In Christ is. Tell me this question: Will God let you believe a lie if you are pursuing him with your whole heart and what about the scripture that says it is given unto your fourth generation to believe because you believe? What about the children who have not heard or seen… that have been harmed or killed without knowing anything about God who live in poverty, sold into slavery. I could go on forever ... I know and believe that these thing must needs be but what about the CHILDREN?

Thank you,

Response #2: 

It's good to hear from you, but I am sorry to hear that you are having this trouble. I receive many such emails, and I know from personal experience and much personal observation that there is perhaps no greater heartache and worry – and no more common complaint – than a loved one who straying from the Lord in one fashion or another. I will only say in general that many people go down a wrong road only to turn around later (especially in relative youth). So while there is reason to be concerned of course, there is hope that this nonsense will pass in time.

I think the free will of children is often underestimated. Just because a person is influenced one way or the other when young most definitely does not meant that such is the way they will go. That only happens when the influence is godly and falls upon a godly heart. When it is a case of bad influence on a godly heart, the true character will always come through in the end. The reverse is true is as well. I remember a friend of mine telling me once how she was trying to talk to a very young (preschool) nephew about Jesus and telling him about how God made the universe; his response: "Oh, I don't believe that". The free will that we are given when it comes to such things runs very deep. So while the example may be unsettling, the application is that for a good-hearted youngster, the "Oh, I don't believe that" will be directed towards the lies they are told (even if out of respect they don't actually express their disbelief until later on). The Lord is just and loving: no one ever perishes for lack of information or on account of unfair influence (please see the link: "God's Plan to Save You").

If it is a matter of information, I would recommend the following links at Ichthys:

Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God?

Jesus is God

The Divinity of Jesus Christ

Also, Pastor Teacher Curtis Omo does have a great number of studies designed specifically for children on his Youtube channel: "Bible Academy". I highly recommend this for everyone, especially if looking for something true and genuine for their children.

I will certainly be keeping you and your family in my prayers on this (and would be happy to add this to the Ichthys prayer request section). It would be ironic if these children end up reeducating their parents down the line – but I am hoping and praying we won't have to wait that long.

Yours in Jesus Christ, "my Lord and my God" (Jn.20:28).

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello--I hope this finds you well. A Mormon on CARM contends that the early church withheld, deliberately, the gospel from the Gentiles. The early church was made up of converted Jews, as we all know. But did they think the Gospel only was for them? If so, how long did that last? I know that Galatians is considered the oldest book in the NT, and from what I remember reading about it, it was written about 15 years after Jesus' resurrection. I don't know how much of an expert you are on the early church, but I thought I would ask you. Thanks and have a good evening.

Response #3:  

Here is what I read our Lord saying about this:

"I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."
John 10:16

If our Lord could speak of the need to bring in the harvest of gentiles even before the cross, even though He was the Messiah charged with bringing the Word to Israel, restricting the gospel after the cross would seem to run entirely counter to this sentiment.

And here is what James says at the "Jerusalem Counsel":

When they finished, James spoke up. "Brothers," he said, "listen to me. Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: " 'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things' things known from long ago. "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."
Acts 15:13-21 NIV

Rather than restriction from God, it seems that the Spirit was pushing for expansion of the gospel to all mankind right from the start of the Church. The gift of the Spirit is first associated with the pouring out of tongues, definite human languages given very clearly for the purpose of spreading the good news beyond the Hebrew speaking area of Judea (as indeed is the effect on that first Pentecost). Peter is given a very graphic vision repeated three times and then told explicitly by the Spirit to take the Word to Cornelius and his gentile friends (Acts 10). When Saul has his epiphany, the Lord said to him, "Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21). And it is also the Spirit who moves the hearts of the church at Antioch to evangelize the gentiles (Acts 13:2ff.). All these things happen so early on that I think it is fair to say that the Church Age is all about the expansion of the gospel appeal to the gentiles and their flooding into the Church, the very brief and necessary period of predominantly Jewish activity notwithstanding – that is certainly what I teach. See the links:

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church I

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church II

The Satanic Rebellion series.

Finally, as to Galatians, I believe it was actually written earlier than most think (and that James is actually later than most think; see the link); the reason being that James is quoting Galatians 5:17 at James 4:5 (see the link: "The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy: explaining James 4:5.").

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi--This Mormon guy says that the "other sheep" Jesus is talking about are the lost sheep of Israel, but I told him, no, Jesus means the Gentiles here, since He already was bringing the gospel message to the Jews. And he also thinks that the thing with Cornelius and Paul's conversion happened many years after Pentecost, but there is no way to say for certain when it happened. I just wondered if you knew of anything in church history whereby the early church, made up of Jewish Christians, were actually forbidden to take the gospel to the Jews. I don't know of anything from the Bible.

Thanks for your input. Take care.

Response #4: 

You're welcome,

As to chronology, the first Pentecost of the Church Age took place in 33 A.D., and Paul was penning his letters by the mid 40's – so there may be a few years (at most) between these events, but not between Pentecost and Philip's evangelizing of the Samaritans (who are gentiles – Jewish "wannabes", perhaps, but gentiles nonetheless).

The notion of God forbidding anyone to give the gospel to anyone is fundamentally contradictory to the whole point of scripture and God's plan – so, yes, you are correct that it is not in the scripture (or Church history or anywhere else except for cult beliefs and teachings).

Yours in Jesus Christ who died for the sins of all mankind.

Bob L.

Question #5: 

I read your latest e-mail and references to your website; too many assumptions and unsupported "everyone knows"..."facts". You may have been in academia too long to realize that all that comes out of "Harvard" type institutions is no more than a person exercising their credentials.

I'm sure you realize that some early church fathers, Tertullian, Hippolyitus, Irenaeus concluded that the two witnesses would be Elijah and Enoch. Your conclusions ... I'm making stretch signs with my hands ... but as I noted above, we are all entitled to our opinions.

Good Thursday Evening,

Response #5:  

Moses and Elijah (not Enoch and Elijah) meet our Lord on the Mt. of Transfiguration, which vision is said to be a preview of the second advent:

"Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Matthew 16:28 - 17:3 NIV

Difficult for those who would substitute Enoch to explain, I would think.

On your appeal to the past, I feel compelled to point out that while the Roman Catholic church and many long dead Protestant denomination feel bound to give great credence to the church fathers, in my considered opinion this is a monumental waste of time at best – and a terrible bargain at worst. The best that can happen if you spend years pouring over this voluminous and seemingly endless body of material is that you may find someone who may agree with your opinion – although I note here that you are relying on third party accounts of "what they say and mean" unless you are reading them in Latin and Greek. Whenever I have looked into the original Latin or Greek on some point, I always find that father X does not actually say (and most likely does not actually mean) what interpreters and translators over a thousand years later think father X is saying/meaning. Abelard, of course, made great hay of the propensity of the fathers to contradict each other and themselves (e.g., his famous work Sic et non).

It is more profitable to spend one's time reading, translating, exegeting and interpreting the Bible itself – that is why God gave it to us.

Just in case you missed all the links on this:

The 144,000 and the Two Witnesses of the Tribulation

The Two Witnesses

Moses and Elijah are the Two Witnesses

The Restoration Ministries of Moses and Elijah

Transmutation, Resuscitation, and Resurrection

The Bodies of Moses and Elijah

Enoch's Walk with God

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I just have a question, and a few updates for you. My classes are still going well. Also, I know I asked something like this before, but I still don't understand. Why is it that Job, and Ecclesiastes sound atheistic. In Job it says that a man goes into the ground and is no more, I'm paraphrasing of course. A lot of it just doesn't sound as if there is an after-life. And the part where it says that I know my redeemer lives, I read that it doesn't mean anything spiritual.

I got some tracts from my church. Should I give them out? I think it's different than door-knocking. You're just handing a person a small sheet of paper. It doesn't seem obtrusive to me. I also considered giving them out at school. At first, I didn't think twice about doing that at school. Then I figured it might not be such a good idea. But then I thought, I could just give them to people that I know would be interested. I wouldn't be approaching random people. It would be people I'm acquainted with. What do you think of that? I figured I could just randomly hand out fliers off school property.

One last thing, I went to a meeting for that discipleship program. Do you remember the one I was telling you about? The pastor would like to build home churches in the community. I guess I like the premise somewhat. I mean, I know what those are biblically. The thing is, I don't know if we are on the same page doctrinally. I would be teaching one thing (which is another thing, I'm not nearly qualified for something like that), and they would be teaching another. I don't believe even they know exactly what they believe. I was expecting more of a bible study, but it doesn't seem that way. I want to learn the Word in general. Hanging out with a bunch of people my age isn't my idea of a good time. Not if it's going to be some silly thing. Still, some of my friends there seem serious about their relationship with God, far more than I am. That's what I like about the young people in my church. They make me grow. They're dedicated Christians. It's not just some box they check. Being out at different churches just confirms that I am at the right one.

Response #6: 

Good to hear from you. I am happy to learn that school goes well. I am also happy to learn that you like your church and the people there. I'm also thrilled to hear you say "I want to learn the Word". That is what it is all about. As to the various opportunities you mention for service and study, these are all personal decisions and in most cases a question of "all things are permissible" yet "not all things are profitable". So while it is true that there are certain things we should not do, and others which we can see will probably be dangerous or negative even if we are not as sure of them, even in the case of things which we may feel are good, well, we can't be everywhere and we can't do everything. Life is all about choices. If we put the Word first, truly, and seek to learn and believe it, live it, and help other do the same as our main focus and thrust, everything else will fall into place.

I pray for the Lord to give you guidance on these matters.

As to the other question, I don't find Job atheistic at all. In fact, even the soliloquies by his "poor friends" are doctrinally correct – it is just that they are misapplying the truth by assuming that Job is suffering due to divine punishment (when we know from chapters 1-2 that he is actually suffering through the will of God – akin to believers today "sharing the suffering of Christ" – see the link).

On Ecclesiastes, that is a different story. Solomon is analyzing the world from the point of view of the unbeliever in a world without God – which is therefore a world without purpose (nothing has any point without Him, after all). Here is something I have written about that before:

The book of Ecclesiastes in many parts gives the correct view of the world from the point of view of the unbeliever: for those without God, for those without hope of eternal life, for those whose portion is only in this world, then, indeed, "all things are meaningless". For believers, everything is meaning-ful, but that is because we have turned our backs on this world of pain and pointlessness and are looking instead for that "city whose architect and builder is God" (Heb.11:10 NASB). That is one reason why I find Ecclesiastes so beautiful and so true. It is one of my favorite portions of scripture because it reaffirms so emphatically how utterly pointless turning back to the world would be – and so by definition how good a decision following Christ is by contrast.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello--Could you look at one more question for me? Mormons think the entire church went into complete apostasy after the 1st century until Joe Smith, Jr., "restored" it. I say that this makes Jesus a liar, when He said that "upon this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." This Mormon says that Jesus isn't talking about a formal church, that "ekklesia" just means a group of believers. And that Jesus is talking about the gospel, and how it will never die. Here is his argument:

First of all we you need to understand the whole context of what you're citing. Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. Second we need to clarify the meaning of the word 'Church', which you are obviously misunderstanding. The word Church is simply a translation of the greek word "ekkl sian", which simply means a community of followers, NOT a formal organization. So here we have Jesus asking who his disciples say he is? Simon (Peter) proclaims that Jesus is the Christ the son of the Living God. For which Jesus tells him that flesh and blood didn't reveal that to him, but his Father in heaven.. Peter received a testimony from God (Presumably Holy Spirit) that Jesus was the Christ. And Jesus gives Simon a new name, Peter. And then the controversial sentence.. "Upon this rock I will build my church (ekklesia - community of followers). The Rock as you know is NOT Peter, but the means in which Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ.. By testimony from God above..Holy Spirit, Revelation, burning in the bosom, etc., not by flesh and blood or earthly means. So it's real simple and congruent with the rest of the new Testament narrative, that the knowledge of Jesus being the Christ comes by testimony of the Spirit.. As it is later testified at the day of Pentecost. It's this foundation upon which the church is built. Now the Gates of Hell prevailing part.. When you hear that what imagery comes to your mind? I bet it's medieval imagery of demons running amok huh? But that's not what it means.. that's nothing more than medieval imagery you have been indoctrinated with.. The word 'hell" is simply a translation of the word 'hades' or the underworld.. world of the dead, a place jews believed that all spirits go to after death. A 'gate' is the passage to and from this world of the dead. So the gates of hades is the passage to and from the realm of the dead.. (not demons).. Part of the Gospel message is the Jesus provides the atonement for sins and the resurrection so that the dead will not remain in hades and will be able to return to live with God... That's the GOOD NEWS... The Gospel. So Jesus is simply saying that for his followers.. Those who receive the testimony of the Holy Sprit and accept Jesus a Lord and Savior as Peter did, the gates of hades won't prevail (gates prevailing means the gate successfully prevents passage out of hades or world of the dead). So you see, this has nothing to do about an earthly Church or a promise against apostacy, but it's a testament of the Gospel. the Good news.

I never said that Jesus meant a formal church organization, but He meant His body, all of those who believe in Him as Lord and Savior. But whether or not it is "hades" or hell, the imagery sure sounds as if Jesus meant it would never die. What do you think of this guy's interpretation of what Jesus is saying? I do agree that He wasn't talking about Peter being the Rock.

Thanks for your help.

Response #7:  

After stating (erroneously; see below) that Jesus speaking about "My Church" in Matthew 16:18 is merely some local group (!), correspondent seems to argue vigorously against his own position, and most effectively too:

1) If "ekklesia" here is merely a local group, then the fact that the Rock is Jesus necessarily exalts the ekklesia beyond some generic local group – Christ is foundation of the whole Church (not merely some unnamed small group) – that is clearly the point of the verse.

2) If the overcoming of "the gates of hell" is a monumental event – the liberation of the dead through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – then that achievement clearly cannot fall to the lot of some small local group (whatever one thinks of this "interpretation").

By admitting that both features of this pericope are of grand strategic importance to the plan of God (and thus not to be restricted to a few centuries of the two millennia long Church Age), correspondent proves that the ekklesia in question here has to be THE Church (not "a" church). That is what the Greek says in any case, and most emphatically so. First, the definite article, "the", is present (i.e., it is "the" Church and not "a" church in the Greek of Matthew 16:18); secondly, Jesus says He will be the one to build this one definite Church; thirdly, our Lord even adds for emphasis the otherwise unnecessary possessive "of Mine" – so as to leave no doubt that He is talking about His Assembly as a whole and not some small group.

As to the interpretations, I would certainly agree with you (and correspondent) that Jesus, not Peter, is "this Rock" (see the link and consider the parallels, "this temple" at Jn.2:19, and "this bread" at Jn.6:58, where Jesus says this same sort of phrasing referring to Himself). As to the "gates of hell", first, I note that correspondent, in addition to refuting his own position, uses some misleading rhetoric in attributing to you "straw man" arguments you do not actually make (nor believe, I'm guessing). In any case, what he provides is really more of an application (suitable, I suppose, for a sermon, for those who can abide sermons), rather than a true interpretation. Gates are defenses, but since the Church is the antagonist in the verse, i.e., the "aggressor", this must be meant in an earthly sense, since the Church militant is on earth and not in the underworld: Satan's kingdom on earth and his defenses here will not be able to stop the advance of the Church in any way. And that is certainly true on every level, especially in the flooding into the Church of believers throughout these two millennia, and the triumph of the Word of God over all satanic opposition through the instrumentality of the true Church (all genuine believers in Jesus Christ). After all, believers do not even go to Hades-Paradise anymore after death – not since the ascension (see the link), not to mention the fact that the literal Church can do nothing about "storming" literal Hades. And the devil is not "down there" in any case – that is "medieval-think". He is "at large" – as all advancing believers know only too well (Eph.6:12; Jas.4:7; 1Pet.5:8). So the realm of death and its defenses are being used metaphorically by our Lord here to express the nature of the devil's kingdom in this world: all of its citizens are doomed to die.

Yours in Jesus Christ the God-Man, our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Wow, that was fast! I found his argument rather confusing. See what else he wrote to me HERE:

"You error in equivocating the gates prevailing with some idea of destruction.. It's not.. ALL men die and go to the realm of the dead.. Because of the Gospel, the gates of hades will not prevent them from leaving hades (the realm of the dead)"

Now, how is THAT for confusion? Unless he mistyped. I will tell him what you wrote, though, being Mormon, he will have been thoroughly brainwashed--I hate to be mean, but there is no other word for it--to believe that the church died out and went into compete apostasy after the 1st century and wasn't "restored" until ol' Joseph Smith, Jr. came along. Yet, they can NOT show us any of the distinct doctrines of the Latter Day Saints in first century Christianity--the plurality of gods, the Law of eternal progression, men becoming gods over their own worlds after death, if they have been "exalted"; secret handshakes and warmed-over Masonic rituals in their temples; baptizing for dead people, etc. They cannot. And they know it.

Thanks for your help.

Response #8: 

You're very welcome. Yes – if only we had those "magic glasses" we would no doubt be able to see more clearly.

On the hopeful side, although I am no expert at Mormon doctrine, this fellow seems to say things that indicate a more "Christian" perspective than some of his brethren, so perhaps he is being led slowly by the Spirit and the scripture to see the light (that is a preferable alternative to him being a lapsed Christian who is remembering some true things in a bad cause).

In any case, this ministry of yours is putting the truth before him very plainly, and that is all any of us can do. We all have free will. That is the only way to reconcile the sacrifice of Christ for all with the damnation of so many – by their own choice.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Okay, thanks again. I tell you, we get into Science Fiction with some Mormon beliefs. Elohim lives on a planet near a star named "Kolob"; the exalted can become gods over their own planets and procreate lots of spirit babies with spirit goddess wives; Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers; the list goes on; it's nauseating what they do to our Lord! But thanks.

Response #9:  

They sure do have some wild stuff, no doubt about it – but what they do they do to themselves in the end. This fellow is doing "apologetics" with Christians, and it necessitates dialoguing about the Bible as if the Bible were the authoritative text – so that if there is any tenderness left in his heart the Spirit by means of those truths is going to be striving mightily against the sort of thing you list here. So what you are doing is a wonderfully good thing (regardless of whether correspondent responds to the Spirit).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Dear Bob,

I was rereading the New Testament again, as you probably know, and I finally came upon the book of John once again. I do not remember if I have asked this before, and if I have I apologize, but I had a question of John 6. When Jesus said He was the bread of life, and that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, I'm uncertain of what exactly He means by this. He's speaking metaphorically, I assume? Is it a metaphor for believing in Him and following Him? I think we have discussed this before, but have not gone into detail about it.

Response #10: 

Good to hear from you, my friend – I hope you and yours are doing well. Good to hear also that you are continuing with your Bible studies. As to your question, yes, you are exactly correct. This is clearly meant as a metaphor – Roman Catholicism horrifically tries to take it literally (and how typical of that religion to ignore the literal nature of the Bible in so many places where it is meant literally, but to take as literal things that are clearly metaphorical). The blood of Christ is a symbol for His spiritual death on the cross, that is, His actual literal bearing of our sins and being judged for them while still physically alive (see the link). Our Lord, of course, did not bleed to death (He gave up His spirit and His blood was still in His body when pierced by the lance). "Blood" is "the life" or the symbol of life in the Old Testament, and "the blood of Christ" is thus a term which joins the shadows of anticipatory animal sacrifice (where the animal did bleed to death) with the actual atoning sacrifice of our Lord (who bore "our sins in His body", paying the penalty for them one by one). Similarly, the "body of Christ" here in John chapter 6 is Christ's person: to be saved, we have to believe and accept who He is (the God-man) and what He has done for us (dying for our sins). The first part of this is His "body"; the second part is His "blood". Eating and drinking are pictures of faith: we accept something given to us in grace, and we take it into ourselves by a simple act (eating and drinking representing non-meritorious faith where we take truth into our heart the same way we take food and drink into our bodies). That is why these two elements are present in the communion sacrament, a ritual of remembrance of who our Lord is ("His body" / person) and what He has done ("His blood" / sacrifice). To be saved, we need to embrace both. It is blessed to consider that while the world strives after literal food and drink (Eccl.6:7), we who have eaten of body and blood of Jesus Christ have an eternal life and have turned our backs on this world and its frantic concerns. We know that God will never fail to give us our bread "daily", but what we have eaten and drunk in faith has opened up the door to an eternity where we will never lack or want, through the great sacrifice of the One who died for us and in whose person and work we have believed.

"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
John 6:54 NASB

Here are some links which are related to this question:

The Leftover Baskets of Bread and Fish in John 6

The Bread of Life and the Body of Christ (in CT 2B)

The Illustration of the Tabernacle

Communion and the Blood of Christ.

The Communion Ceremony outside of the local church.

The Meaning of the Communion Memorial.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dear Professor,

A friend of mine asked me about the interpretation of Luke 5:36-5:39. I thought I would verify my understanding of this passage before writing to him.

Luke 5:33-39 (NASB)
33 And they said to Him, "The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink." 34 And Jesus said to them, "You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35 But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days."36 And He was also telling them a parable: "No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’"

I take "the new" as referring to the teaching of our Lord, and the old to the legalistic norms of the Pharisees. So "a piece of cloth from a new garment" doesn't fit with the old, as they don't have anything in common and cannot be reconciled. Similarly, new wine, which I read stands for new teaching cannot be put into old wineskins - Pharisees and those who follow their ways. In this respect new wine "must be put into fresh wineskins", and the "new wineskins" are those who are willing to receive our Lord with open heart. Verse 39 perhaps could refer to unwillingness to receive the new through spiritual stagnation and closed heart. So "the old" has a negative meaning according to this interpretation and with regard to the disciples of John could perhaps refer to those who received the herald, but didn't receive the One heralded by him.

Let me know your take on this passage.

I pray for you and your ministry daily and cannot wait to resume our correspondence,

Response #11:  

Very good to hear from you, my friend.

As to your question, I think you are exactly right in your interpretation. I would only add that in addition to the interpretation there is a most apt application of this teaching as well: trying to change a Christian group or denomination from the inside, especially if is a case of attempting to inject the power of the truth into a group that has become spiritually moribund, will usually be unsuccessful for the precise same reasons. Those within think "the old is better", and any headway will only disrupt the old organization, possibly even destroying it, with the only result being that the new teaching is lost in the process.

Yesterday was our Thanksgiving holiday, and I certainly remembered that I am thankful for your friendship in the Lord.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for the links! It helped clarify it a lot actually but I guess there will always be those parts if the Bible that will be somewhat unclear. My study Bible even said something after I read 3 John that it was a difficult section to interpret correctly. I do have one other question for you that I know you've written extensively on. I understand that baptism does not save people but what about those who trust Jesus saves but believe that baptism is how we make our grace 'complete' by obeying the Bible? I'm more specifically referring to the Church of Christ denomination who teach a sort of baptismal regeneration message though they believe only Jesus saves but baptism is done in obedience or something like that. I find their beliefs to be very much orthodox but I think they don't quite grasp baptism correctly and have been told they damn themselves by this belief though they don't look to their baptism as what saves them but through Jesus. I've heard this more specifically from Southern Baptists whom I don't necessarily agree with in various aspects of beliefs but one thing them and independent fundamentalist baptists are notorious for 'damning' people. So I thought I'd ask your opinion on this as I've always thought they were Christian as many in the Church if Christ absolutely love the lord but the SB think they follow another Jesus while I think its more of a matter of interpretation? What do you think? Thanks again!

Response #12: 

You're most welcome. As to your latest question, I think this is more of an issue of what is going on in people's hearts than about water-baptism per se. As I have often had occasion to remark, I am personally cautiously hopeful for Roman Catholics, even though every R.C. refugee I've heard remark on the matter has affirmed that he/she was not saved while in that church, and was of the opinion that it is impossible to be saved therein (and the R.C. religion is more legalistic than even the baptism-for-salvation groups because it is all about salvation by works). That may be the case of those who completely and unreservedly accept that group's teachings without quibble. However, it is usually the case that any person in any group will entertain their own ideas. Even if for a variety of reasons the person in question chooses not to express his/her independent thinking at all, it is usually there. Only God really knows what is going on in human hearts. So I think it is true that there are probably some in these baptismal-regeneration groups who are not saved because they truly believe that their own efforts have saved them independent of the work of Christ – and many more who would not be saved if they took the teachings of the groups to which they belong fully to heart – yet I hope there are even more who while they keep this fellowship have a heart that accepts the truth: it is only through faith by God's grace that we are saved.

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Good morning Dr. Doctor Luginbill,

How are you? I hope that yesterday you enjoyed the greatest celebration yet of the birth of our Savior Jesus. Pray that the New Year 2014 will continue to afford you God’s favor with all of your needs being supplied, along with extras for sharing and serving our Holy Creator. I am writing with the purpose of making some inquiries. Please help me with a few questions:

1. What does it mean to ‘let go and let God’?

2. What does it mean to "Cast thy burden upon the Lord"?

3. What does waiting entail?

4. How do you witness to someone who boasts about having practiced theosophy for the last 43 years (abandoned Christianity – my relative)?

5. What do these verses mean: Hebrews 6:4-6?

Thank you immensely for your time and assistance.

Response #13:  

Good to make your acquaintance. Apologies for the delay in response. I was out of town and away from my desk, visiting family for Christmas. As to your questions:

1) "Let go / let God" is not in the Bible, so that whatever it might mean depends entirely on what the person using the phrase deems it to mean. I'm no fan of such popularisms, especially when they come to take on nearly scriptural dimensions in the ministries of some. The best one might say about this aphorism is that it may mean (to some) to rest in the Lord instead of relying on one's own works.  However, since the phrasing is not biblical I am reluctant to endorse it.  Here is what I have written about this previously (in "Spiritual ups and downs" Q/A #10):

As to "let go and let God", no, there is nothing of the sort in scripture. It's one of those bumper-sticker phrases that can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. Of course we are to wait on the Lord and trust Him for deliverance in our trials, but even that "faith rest" requires hanging on, not letting go. What the comments you received and what the thrust of this sentiment also communicates are just the opposite of what Christians need to do. All attacks and tests the growing Christian receives have to be met actively, not passively, with aggressive accessing and application of God's truth, and with an active faith which reaches out and holds fast to the Lord's coat-sleeve. Like Jacob, we have to wrestle in faith and be unwilling to let go until the time of deliverance. We have to continue to pray, as you are doing; continue to have faith, as you are doing; continue to read and study our Bibles and access good teaching, as you are doing; continue to apply the truth to our lives, as you are doing. In short, especially when tests come, we genuine Christians of true faith must be more outgoing than ever in our remembering and active thinking and believing of God's truth than ever before (see the link in Peter #6: "The Battleground of the Heart"). That is hardly letting go. That is holding on – through faith in the Lord and in His truth, thinking it, remembering it, believing it, meditating on it, proclaiming it, living by it. "Let go and let God" sounds more like forgetting about striving for the faith and giving up. The fact that certain people can take solace in these hollow words indicates to me that 1) they don't have any sort of close relationship with the Lord and His truth in the first place and, 2) they've never been under this sort of fire from the evil one in the second. That is not surprising since the devil doesn't waste his time on the spiritually immature or the spiritually deficient, not to mention unbelievers.

2) On the other hand, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord" is indeed scripture, specifically, it is the KJV's rendering of Psalm 55:22, which is also quoted by Peter:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1st Peter 5:6-7 NKJV

The meaning has to do with trusting the Lord to bring us through all troubles. Whatever difficulties we are dealing with (cares or "burdens"), we know as Christians – or should know – that the Lord has had our deliverance planned out from all eternity. By "casting" these trouble on Him we are letting Him carry the load, giving up worry and putting our faith in Him that He will save us in His own way and in His perfect timing (e.g., Ps.22). When we are weak – recognizing that we cannot do it on our own – that is when we are truly strong, because that is when we are tapping into God's strength in full trust in Him to the extent that we are no longer trusting in ourselves (2Cor.12:9-10).

3) Waiting or patience is certainly a Christian virtue. The Hebrew words for hope entail our "hanging in there" and patiently waiting for the Lord's deliverance in times of trouble. Here is what I write about that in Peter #22:

In the history of the world, many believers have faced the test of having to wait for an answer from God (Job 35:14; Dan.10:1-13). For over three years, Elijah had to wait for God's deliverance from the persecution of Ahab and Jezebel, first subsisting on food brought by ravens and the little water still flowing in the brook Cherith, then by God's further miraculous provision during his stay with the widow of Zarephath (1Ki.17). But despite the duration of the trial, God kept Elijah safe and provided for him throughout, until finally accomplishing a mighty victory by his hand against the priests of Baal (1Ki.18). The Hebrew word for waiting on God (yachal, most often translated hope) is taken by some to be derived from a root meaning to twist and writhe. Waiting on God in times and circumstances of extreme pressure may very well give us the sensation of squirming, but it is just this sort of testing that is required to build our faith in Him and accelerate our spiritual growth.

4) Witnessing is very much an individual thing. There is no text-book way about how to do it. We are all given the privilege as well as the responsibility to share the good news about Jesus Christ and our deliverance from death by grace through faith, but no two people will do this the same way – and every recipient deserves an individualized approach as well. One thing I can tell you about it is that there has to be some willingness on the part of the other person in order for a discussion about the gospel to bear any fruit. For "hard cases" who are not expressing any interest in what we have to say about the truth, the best approach, generally speaking, is the witness of the life wherein we hope that the person in question will be won over by seeing the power of our faith, the encouragement of our hope, and the genuineness of our love – actions which speak louder to them than our words will at first. But as I say, this is a generalization. As we all grow spiritually, we get better about making these judgment calls. That is to say, rather than memorizing a "play book" about how to witness, the best approach is to improve our own "spiritual I.Q.'s" by growing closer to the Lord and becoming more sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit – and the only way to do this is through our own continued spiritual growth. Here are some links that give more details:

Witnessing to the cult-indoctrinated

Evangelism in Principle and Practice

Ichthys and the Contemporary Christian Experience

5) In Hebrews 6:4-6 Paul is speaking to contemporary Jewish Christians in Jerusalem who had fallen back into the rituals of the temple, and is explaining to them that as long as they are engaged in such behavior they cannot be spiritually restored (because by doing so they are saying in effect that Christ's work which these rituals foreshadowed as future was somehow ineffective). This is true of all sinful behavior, after all: we are forgiven when we confess, but if we are determined not to stop doing the sinful things we are doing, we are going to be regressing not progressing. Here is my expanded translation of the passage:

(4) For, in the case of those who have been enlightened (i.e., have become believers, "light in the Lord": Eph.5:8), and who have experienced the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit (i.e., have been baptized with the Spirit so that He indwells them, and by the Spirit into union with Christ), (5) and who have experienced that the Word of God is good, and [who have experienced] miracles [foreshadowing] the age to come, (6) it is impossible to restore them to [true] repentance after having fallen [into sin] as long as they keep crucifying the Son of God afresh and exposing Him to open shame (i.e., while they continue in their sin, the particular sin in question here being continued participation in the sacrificial rites of Law which foreshadowed Christ's work on the cross and suggesting by that participation that His work was ineffective).
Hebrews 6:4-6

And here are some links where the issues are explained in more detail.

Are those in Hebrews 6:4 who "crucify the Son of God afresh" lost?

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation.

Do feel free to write back about any of the above, and, again, sorry for the lag time.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #14: 

Thank you immensely, Dr. Luginbill for your time and judicious response. We touch and agree with regards to what you have written in this comprehensive rejoinder. I still have to read the texts of the references you provided and look forward to the education. What I have read thus far is very beneficial.

Currently, I am dealing with adversity, my divine personal trainer. It’s my most difficult trial yet brought on by a combination of things including my fear, imprudent decisions, and failure to advance to greater action. The challenge is tough on my mind, body and spirit; especially, as I try to carry on life’s responsibilities, validate my faith with works and wait on the Lord. I stand at the edge of a dreadful cliff and will survive only by the grace of God. Somehow, some way by the grace of God I will endure. I really can do all things through Christ Jesus my Savior Who gives me strength and intercedes on my behalf. Easier said than done; yet, I’m determined to win.

Also, I need a church home; another mega issue. There is so much pretense and insincerity about our churches. It’s painful trying to decide where to worship each Sunday. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so particular; but, I only want to receive the uncompromised Word from a man of God (not a religious CEO or man who refuses to study and/or apply godly principles). I want to fellowship among men and women who genuinely love the Lord, and are striving to keep His commandments in this Satan dominated world. Some of the activities and the words that go forth from the pulpit are appalling. People forget the church edifice is holy ground. None of us are perfect, I know. Keep me in your prayers, I will do the same for you.

Thanks again in Christ, the Promised Messiah,

Response #14: 

I will pray for you. I can relate to your situation, being in a similar one myself. Not knowing (nor asking for) the details, I would only say that none of us is perfect, so that whenever we face a significant test – which really is a test and not a case of divine discipline (see the link) – it can be a trap to get down on ourselves about the situation. Rather, if we truly are sharing the sufferings of Christ (see the link), in that we should be careful to rejoice (even though it can be hard to retain that perspective when the going gets especially tough).

As to churches, here is a little something just posted last weekend:

Ever since the beginning of the Church Age and throughout the Bible Christians are "meeting together" and having "fellowship". Moreover, in the tradition of the church-visible attendance in a dedicated building for just such "fellowship" has more than almost anything else come to be seen by many as the quintessential manifestation of one's Christianity. This is so much the case that even for those of us who know better, who understand that Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ, that our true "fellowship" is with the Father and the Son (1Jn.1:3), that our meaningful Christian relationships must be based on the truth, its pursuit and its ministration (Jn.17:17), and that traditional dead forms often cause "more harm than good" (1Cor.11:17), we can still easily be made to feel guilty about not going to one of these pointless and potentially harmful fellowships. Even today, for example, I personally can still be made to feel very uncomfortable by the question "Where do you go to church" – as if I am a bad Christian or no Christian at all if I do not have a ready answer, if cannot say "I am a member of ___ church". What I would like to say in such cases is "Instead of going to a place where God is only given lip-service, where it's all about music and process and ritual and emotionalism, where there is little of God's truth being proclaimed and where walking with Jesus Christ in a genuinely biblical way is not at the heart of center of everything that is done, I go to a place where the Word of God is taught and believed and lived as the sole point and purpose of the fellowship" – "Oh! Where is that!?" – "I don't know yet, but in the meantime I have found a pretty good substitute online".

Like you, my friend, I find that the fellowship I have with you and other wonderful believers I have met in the course of this ministry so far exceeds anything I have ever experienced in any traditional or non-traditional "brick and mortar" church that there is absolutely no comparison – and I thank God that He has also given you good Christians and growing Christians to commune with outside of the phony traditional mode. It speaks to the incredible power of negative and misplaced guilt that even so it took a long time to come to terms with answering the question above with confidence. But we are on the cusp of the end, and the time for compromise has long since ended. We have been given the powerful new wine of the truth should think twice about pouring it back into old wine-skins since we know very well what would happen: there is nothing in those old wine-skins to compare with what we have, and if we try to mix the two only disaster will result.

So I don't generally recommend particular churches because there are almost none which I could support with a clear conscience. For links on this subject please FAQ #3: Can you recommend a church?

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

I was born, baptized and raised as a Roman Catholic - and to an extent you could say I still am. I go to a Catholic School, and I often go to a Catholic Church. I was confirmed but only last year. So as you might have guessed, I am but a mere teenager. Now, presented with many arguments for and against the faith, I turned to the internet, to search out arguments. My faith in the RC Church wavered, gaining strength then losing it - presented with matters such as Celebrating Christmas, and Birthdays and the such things. While my faith in such things being allowed by God was restored for a while, I fell into doubt and worry - there are so many accounts of what is right, wrong, neutral and such forth all over the internet, and thus the world. I read so many articles, pages, apologetic sites and such, trying to "open my heart to the guidance of the Holy Spirit", but as each argument was presented I felt even more desperate and lost. But I had a resolve - while right now I am lost, I will, throughout my life grow in my faith, that my journey to find God's true Church would twist and turn throughout my life - but that eventually, I may find peace. Other challenges were presented - such as the media - should Christians watch Television? If so, what? I did, in myself come to the conclusion that while it is permissible, discernment is necessary. So that, to my mind, was one hurdle - for the time being, overcome. But many questions still presented themselves to me. I turned to my mother, who herself is a Catholic (I would not have turned to my father, as he isn't a Christian, as far as he's concerned, at least), and she - worried, said that I should stop looking at all these online sites that present "fanatics" that try to brainwash you and take you away from your family (not in an abduction sense, but on a personal level) and did express a serious concern that I knew stemmed from her love for me, which I know is true. And I love her deeply too, so for a while, I did stay away from this extensive research, hoping that in time, the answers would present themselves. I kept praying, and tried to get back into the "Catholic swing of things" - and continued thinking of the future, my aspirations, while staying mindful to God. The issues still nagged the back of my mind, though. At that time, I was not fully aware of that which was written in Revelations, but I stumbled on a particular site, the name of which I cannot recall - which proclaimed evidence that the events of Revelations will begin in 2015 - and in one fell swoop, all my hopes, my aspirations, my dreams of finding my faith, raising a family and coming closer to God through a personal relationship with Jesus - they were gone. Dashed, like dust in the wind. So I took it upon myself to avidly search the internet to find information about the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and once again - the many beliefs of other Churches, and denominations. I did eventually find an article about when the Tribulation will claiming that it cannot start till 2017 which - I found helped settle my mind a bit, it did not settle them completely. I still worried about the information displayed in other articles and still feared that all that I hold dear will be brought to ruin, before I have truly found my faith. And it seemed to me, that I would suffer for it, by God's wrath. I'm not coming to you asking if I can join your faith, nor am I stating that I'm emailing you professing that I particularly believe yours is the true faith, and that the beliefs you hold are true - because as I have said before - I find myself only on the first step of my faith journey. This decision to email you was a spur of the moment thing, because on finding your email, I felt you were the only other Christian at the time I could turn to. The festivals of Christmas, and Birthdays are things that in my life I cannot avoid - my family all celebrate both, and as a teenager, I cannot avoid partaking in them - and many of my friends have birthday parties, which I feel I cannot avoid without both offending them, and causing my mother even more concern and worry - and I couldn't bear to hear it the first time, because she genuinely seemed saddened and distressed. And then, I read an article about Water Baptism being necessary for salvation. Another woe to add, of which I cannot see a way out. And as such, I am left with nowhere to go, and no way, it seems - to escape a fate that I am confined to. Ah, but wait! I wonder, is there a chance that people can be saved during the Tribulation? I do more research, and more reading. I find so many long, heavy articles, filled with many things that I do not understand or comprehend, nor have the time to read, due the the pressures of homework, and my GCSE's. So many people claiming of a pre-tribulation rapture, allowing for people who were not saved to be saved by the end. I read others that claim that while the former is true, that nobody else will be saved. I find readings about a post-tribulation rapture, and that the Church will be present during the times. Some who profess this say there will be a chance for others to be save, others not so. So many things being thrown about, so many beliefs. And as I said - even though I email you now, I don't profess to believing in the particular faith you do either. It is simply that I found your site, found your email, and hoped that there would be someone - anyone - I could talk to about all this. I feel lost, worried - scared for a future of no hope, and possibly of eternal torment. I find myself crying even as I type these words, feeling as if I've lost all hope in any sort of salvation - abandoned by the God I once held dear - turned away by Christ who I try to tell myself died for me. And yet, I feel that while he died for many, that I am left out. Because I have no way of escape, and that I must continue like this, accepting the fate that seems imminent. I continue to read apologetic sites for many faiths, and sites of many churches that profess different things - but so much is being said, that I am being crushed by a torrent of words, Bible passages, without any light of hope in sight. So many different ways of apparently being "saved" - so many different sins, and things we must and must not do, so many different beliefs, so many "true" Churches, so many conditions for salvation - and here I am, trapped in an ever receding whirlwind, trying to grasp at a truth that I had planned to find in a future that no longer seems to be.

Response #15:  

Good to make your acquaintance, though I am sorry to hear of your spiritual turmoil.

You have introduced many issues here. I will address a few – very briefly – below. First, however, it is necessary to say a few preliminary things:

1) It's all really much more simple than it now seems. The true Church is all about Jesus Christ. Nothing is unconnected. There is an answer to every question . . . in Jesus Christ.

2) The Bible is the only source of truth. Yes, it is true that many people use the Bible for many purposes, but for those who persevere in their search for truth, scripture will provide every answer you seek in time, if you do so in faith.

3) Everyone has to find the right place for him/herself. There are many ministries and many genuinely gifted Christians manning them, but no single ministry is sufficient for all. A believer needs to find the right person in the right place – someone actually teaching the truth – and stick with that person/ministry in order to be able to grow spiritually. That is not to say anyone should give up their judgment or free will or never question or never check out what is being taught in scripture – exactly the opposite (please see the link: "Read your Bible!"). But it is to say that a person has to actually hear something that is actually true, and then actually believe that truth in order for it to be useful, in order for it to be committed to the heart and form part of the Holy Spirit's spiritual capital, forwarding the process of spiritual growth. Only what is true and what is believed as true helps. A person can have a "head knowledge" of a thousand different interpretations of a passage/principle. One of these may even be true. But if the true one is not believed as the truth, it will do no good, and all of the mere human knowledge (gnosis as opposed to the epignosis that produces growth) will only result in confusion and distress – as you are experiencing. If I could hand you a stack of printouts that contained the bulk of the truth God has given us in the Bible, entirely correctly stated and efficiently explained, it would do you absolutely no good . . . if you weren't willing to believe it. So, with all due respect, what you really need is to find a person/ministry you can come to trust and accept (not as infallible but as good and sincere and doctrinally correct in all important points), because it is only by attention to such a source – believing the truth of what is taught so as to commit it to your heart for growth – that you are going to be able to make any progress. This is true even if, as may be the case, you have the gift of pastor/teacher yourself: even those so gifted only come to be able to "feed themselves" spiritually after many years of preparation (spiritual, academic, practical). We are all "in the same boat" when it comes to what is necessary to grow, at least at first. The fact that you are not finding what you need in your particular church is a clear indication (to me, anyway) that it is not there to be found. This is certainly the case in most Protestant churches as well (Roman Catholicism has not cornered the market in spiritual vapidity). Our job as believers who want more, who want to grow and progress and produce for Christ as He has called us to do, is to find that right, special place for us personally where such growth and progress will be possible – through the proper ministry of the truth of the Word of God. I certainly do not claim that Ichthys is the only such place, nor, even if it is true that it is one such place (which I not only believe with all my heart but am striving to make more and more true day by day), that it is the place for you. But I am saying that without laying a solid foundation of the truth, genuine truth genuinely believed, no one can get anywhere in the Christian life. And that makes finding the right place "job one". Your previous searching may have been a necessary preliminary, and I would certainly welcome you to make full use of the materials at Ichthys at any time. But whatever you decide on that matter, finding some place of truth – and then believing that (genuine) truth – is an absolute prerequisite for spiritual growth.

A few other brief points as promised:

1) Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone (see the link). All who believe are saved; no one who does not believe is saved, regardless of affiliations or works:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:18 NIV

(8) For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this did not come from you – it is God's gift. (9) Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

2) Water-baptism is not only not required for salvation (that would be salvation by works apart from pure faith), but is not even authorized for Church Age believers. The only water-baptism in scripture is John's baptism, meant for the Jews of Jesus' day, a baptism "of repentance" (not salvation) to prepare them for the coming Messiah (cf. Jn.1:31-33). The Messiah has come. Matthew 28:19, for example, is speaking of Spirit baptism (see the link: Baptism: Water and Spirit IV).

3) There is no pre-Tribulation rapture (see the link). In my understanding of scripture, the 2nd Advent occurs two millennial days after Christ's suffering at the cross, resurrection and ascension (which would make the beginning of the Tribulation seven years earlier – ca. 2026, since those prior events took place in 33 A.D.; see the link: "The Seven Millennial Days"). Some may be saved during the Tribulation, but more will lose their salvation through apostasy, the so-called "Great Apostasy" (see the link).

4) While there is no such thing as "once saved, always saved" (see the link), nevertheless we believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and salvation is not something easily lost: we have to willfully throw it away, abandoning our faith entirely through our own free will, deliberately rejecting the Gift of Jesus Christ we once prized (see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

I will leave you with the above for now – please feel free to write me back about any of this. As I say, from my perspective it is not so much an issue of "what is the truth?" (since these studies will speak for themselves on that score – as will everyone else' . . . if they do have the Spirit and Christ's true commission), but "what are you willing to believe?".

I do want to give you some assurance that, if you are genuinely a believer in Jesus Christ and as long as you remain so, you can rest secure in Him in complete peace (see the link: "The Rest of Faith"); if, that is, you know Him to be the God-man, the One who died for all of your sins and for those of the entire world, paying the price for them on your behalf: if you have received Him by faith alone and stand in Him by faith alone, not having any confidence in your own deeds, works or actions, but only in Him through the non-meritorious action of your free will, the image of God, exercised and expressed simply by believing in Him, then you have nothing to fear – except the diminution and potential loss of that faith through atrophy, sin, and/or being unprepared for the pressures this world and its evil ruler are wont to put upon that faith. Here are a few more links which speak to these matters:

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

God's Forgiveness of Sin (in BB 3B: Hamartiology: the biblical study of Sin)

What is the "unforgivable sin", really?

Cleansing from sin (in Pet. #15)

1st John 1:9 and confessing sin.

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

Sin, Confession and Forgiveness

Whatever you decide and wherever you go, I pray for you to find the right place, somewhere that you can be fed spiritually so as to gain the confidence you need to progress in Jesus Christ and help others do likewise in whatever ministry our Lord calls you to.

In our dear Savior Jesus, our Lord and our God.

Bob Luginbill

Question #16: 

Hi Robert,

First I would like to thank you for all the wonderful information you have so generously put out for everyone to read. I don't know how you do it all, God has truly blessed you. I was wondering if you can give me your thoughts on these questions? I know that it is thru Jesus that we are saved and that if other religions (I don't like using that word religion) don't believe this they do not believe in the same God as we do. So my question is: Would you say that Jews do not believe in the same God as we do unless they have come to God thru Jesus? Another question that I would like you to give your thoughts on: Catholics believe that if they pray to God that they can also pray THRU Mary, saints or deceased family to "help" them pray. They will say that they don't pray TO them but THRU them, they seem to think this is o.k. I know this is wrong but how do you get them to see this? Also if they pray thru these people, do they believe in the same God as a Christian? I ask this because they say they believe in the Trinity and believe that it is thru Jesus they are saved.

Thanks for your thoughts on these subjects.

In Christ.

Response #16: 

Good to hear back from you, and thanks much for your encouraging words. As to your questions:

1) There is only one God, and who and what He is is written large upon the universe by His own Hand:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Romans 1:20 NKJV

At some point in the life of everyone, they are made aware of Him (see the link: Natural Revelation and Accountability). If thereafter they choose to reject any true relationship with Him, if they worship some "other God", or fail to give Him His true due by distorting who He is or what He desires, it is all one and the same thing (the ultimate heart-reason why people do this is their refusal to bend their will to God's). Besides, an organization of size or longevity is of no eternal consequence. God deals with everyone as an individual, and it is what the individual in question believes or refuses to believe that matters (e.g., no doubt that there are millions of esoteric viewpoints on thousands of "doctrines" among the communicants of the Roman Catholic church). So to answer the specific question about non-believing Jews, on the one hand it is impossible to know very much about the one true God without submitting to His will; once that will is rejected (as in rejecting Jesus Christ), then even the rudimentary knowledge mentioned by Paul in the quote above can and usually is distorted for other purposes. Whether that is "believing in God" or not is then a moot point: "The demons believe, and tremble" (Jas.2:19); that is to say, Satan and his followers know very well that God exists and know "who He is" . . . but if they really "knew" in the sense of faith based epignosis, that is, knowledge become real and usable to us believers through believing it, then they would not be in rebellion against Him, for (at the very least) they would understand that they are doomed to failure and condemnation. Blessedly, there is a great revival prophesied to be in the wings for those who at present belong to the unfortunate number of "not all those who are of Israel are [truly] Israel" (Rom.9:6), so that in the end "all [true] Israel will be saved" (Rom.11:26).

2) Whether those who are in the R.C. church are / can be saved is a debatable point. As I often say, I am agnostic about it. That is because, while it is true that the religion itself is one of works, and no one is saved by works, still it is clear that people individually "believe what they believe" regardless of the creeds of the groups they belong to. How to "get them to stop" is an interesting question. I would say that this as with all things is an individual question since that is how the Lord deals with us and that is how He expects us to deal with all others: individually, in love. The best thing we can do for any unbeliever is to help them come to Jesus Christ – but of course they have to be willing. The best thing we can do for any believer who is wayward in doctrine or behavior or (frequently) both is to help them to get on the straight path of sanctification and spiritual growth through the truth of the Word of God – but of course they have to be willing. Everything else is treating the symptoms, and, like putting a band-aid on cancer, will not do any real good in the end.

Keep on fighting the good fight of faith in our dear Lord Jesus Christ!

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your response. I've decided to leave my church. I've wanted to leave for a while. I just never got around to it. How do you leave a church? Should I just stop going? Do I talk to the pastor? Then what. Do I keep looking? There's a Wesleyan church on the way to my college. I noticed it a while back. Should I visit? I assume it would be more in line with my views. I could go to their Wednesday night service. What do you think?


Response #17:  

This is big news. It's been a day or two since you sent this (apologies – very heavy week from lots of angles). I hope you have slept on this – not because I don't think it's a good idea or that I do think it's a bad one (I honestly don't know what's best for you because that is a function of where you are spiritually and where you really want to go – and where your church is vis-a-vis both things). As to a new church, as I often say, I don't recommend them (unless I can do so in full confidence). I've probably recommended my friend pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's YouTube channel before (link), but that's not the same as a "sit down church", I understand. For myself, the issue is teaching the Word of God, and I don't find that in most traditional churches (not even close). What matters alignment of doctrine if doctrine is never mentioned except in the statement of faith? As to the issue of 'how to leave', there are two schools of thought, and I suppose that depends upon how one feels about the place which is being left behind. On the one hand those who feel they were "your friends" will no doubt want an explanation; on the other hand leaving quickly and quietly avoids confrontation if the answers are going to be more hurtful than helpful to those who receive them. If you do go through with leaving, my advice would be to put the matter of "how" before the Lord, and, once you are convinced in your heart of the "right" way for you to do it, do it and don't look back.

Yours in Jesus Christ whose Church we are, now and forever.

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

Can you help me? I need to know the essential tenants of the Christian faith. Like, what do you have to believe to be a Christian? I mean like the inerrancy of scripture, Jesus is the Son of God, He was born of a virgin, etc.. I need all of them. I looked on your website but couldn't find it.


Response #18: 

Good to hear from you. You didn't find a list like this at Ichthys because it's not there. I don't believe in "statements of faith" because the entire truth of the Bible is what a Christians should believe, not a watered down version of only part of it which, because it will become a tradition, will come to be misunderstood, even if 100% correct (which is usually not the case since statements must summarize and interpret by their very nature).

"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."
Acts 16:31

According to scripture, those who "believe in Jesus" are saved; those who "do not believe in Jesus" are not saved.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

As Christians, we know that we believe in Him. Whether others do or do not can be determined only by their actions in any case, not so much by their words. Ideally, all Christians will come to grow and know and believe the truth about all the doctrines of scripture, but being "born again" comes from faith in Jesus Christ, and I can assure you that in many if not most cases the "knowledge" a person has may be "small as a mustard seed"; God helping us, it will grow into a vast tree of truth as we walk closer to our dear Savior day by day. To become His, all that is needed is the desire to do so – since Christ died for all of our sins and has taken them out of the way precisely so that all might come to salvation. To be saved, all a person really has to do is to "not say NO!" to God's promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

For you have been saved by (God's) grace through faith (in Christ); and this did not come from you - it is God's gift. Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Yours in the One who died that we might live forever with Him, our precious Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Bob, here is where I first heard about man taking the place of Satan and his fallen angels.

Dear Sir:

Thank you for contacting the Ellen G. White Estate. I suspect you are recalling the following statement, found in Prophets and Kings, pp. 588, 589:

Satan has an accurate knowledge of the sins that he has tempted God's people to commit, and he urges his accusations against them, declaring, that by their sins they have forfeited divine protection, and claiming that he has the right to destroy them. He pronounces them just as deserving as himself of exclusion from the favor of God. "Are these," he says, "the people who are to take my place in heaven, and the place of the angels who united with me? They profess to obey the law of God; but have they kept its precepts? Have they not been lovers of self more than lovers of God? Have they not placed their own interests above His service? Have they not loved the things of the world? Look at the sins that have marked their lives. Behold their selfishness, their malice, their hatred of one another. Will God banish me and my angels from His presence, and yet reward those who have been guilty of the same sins? Thou canst not do this, O Lord, in justice. Justice demands that sentence be pronounced against them." {PK 588.3}

I hope this helps. Thank you for writing, and God bless!

Response #19:  

Good to hear from you, my friend.

Ellen White was an SDA pioneer, and a receiver of "visions"; I can't recommend any of her so-called teachings (to say the least).

I am sure that there are even a few things which the Mormons teach that are correct (though I can't think of anything off hand), or the R.C. church, or any reputedly "Christian" organization or teacher. One correct thing does not mean all things are correct. Antichrist will say some true things as well, in order to encapsulate the false (like a sugar coating on a poison pill). Also, I would not phrase it this way. In truth, God is replacing Satan and his angels with us (we are not "taking their place" as if it were something originating with us); a small point, perhaps, but a potential indication of trouble.

In any case, I find most of what is written in the paste-in here either unsupported by scripture or outright wrong. No one knows what Satan "says/said" – except the few things that are recorded in scripture.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

As always, thank you Bob, you are an inspiration for me. A greater point for me is, after so many years of hearing this and lately my re-dedication to The Lord, that I come to meet you, on my journey in The Lord and per this understanding concerning Satan and his angels is the 'reading' that thru Free Will ' by me to search and reach out' and you by Free Will 'to answer my request' shows me how Great God IS in the building of my faith in Him. This journey thru life will continue until death for me, I pray. (The Lord is my Shepherd). In that Great 'getting up morning' though we may have much to endure, it will be a joy to meet you (if not sooner) to fellowship in the Light of the Love of God.

Thank you for being there, now, and in the future, per the Will of God.

In Jesus name, Amen. I appreciate you, brother.

Response #20: 

It's always wonderful for me as well to meet fellow believers who are truly dedicated to find God's truth – and living it.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Thank you teacher. I respectfully call you teacher due to the fact you are the only man I have found worthy of the title. With that being said, I have defended the gospel against pastors, so called bishops, and biblical scholars and the Most High has never allowed me to be proven wrong. I say this with true conviction, through God's PERFECT Grace, "I am at all times ready to defend the gospel."

Now regarding the so-called Books of Enoch and Jasher, I have been trying to defend those same points you so eloquently made for the past few months. I have lost some great brothers in the process. "But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17).

Many Christians today decry the use of apologetics or evidences in Christian witnessing, feeling it is somehow dishonoring to the Lord or to the Scriptures to try to defend them. But the apostle Paul did not agree with this. The gospel does need defending, and he was set for its defense against the attacks of its adversaries. He also told his disciples that "in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace" (Philippians 1:7).

The Greek word translated "defense" is apologia, from which we derive our English word "apologetics." It is a legal term, meaning the case made by a defense attorney on behalf of a defendant under attack by a prosecutor. Thus, the apostle is saying: "I am set to give an apologetic for the gospel-a logical, systematic [scientific if necessary] defense of the gospel against all the attacks of its adversaries."

Since we are "partakers" with him in this defense, we also need to be set for its defense. We must "be ready always to give an answer [same word, apologia] to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us]" (I Peter 3:15).

Any Son or Daughter of Christ (I don't use the term "Christian") who shares his faith with the unsaved has encountered many who cannot believe the simple plan of salvation until his questions are answered.

We must be familiar with the "many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3) of the deity of Christ and His power to save, both as omnipotent Creator and sin-bearing Savior. We must "search the Scriptures daily" and also study the "witness"

He has given in the creation (Acts 17:11; 14:17) if we are to do this effectively, bringing forth fruit that will "remain" (John 15:16) instead of fruit that has withered away, "because it had no root" (Mark 4:6). Like you stated earlier, the gospel is under vicious attack, so may God help us through His Word and Precious Holy Spirit to be among its victorious defenders.

If you have any teachings not posted on your site and are willing to share them, I humbly ask if you would bless me with them. I will make sure they are studied and used to teach others.

Love you in the Lord!

Response #21:  

Thanks so much for your kind words. To take your last question first, I've always tried to keep Paul's words in mind on this subject:

"For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God."
Acts 20:27 NKJV

There are volumes of material at Ichthys (these writings would fill many books), and the only things I have which have not been posted to the site are things I have not yet finished or have not yet gotten too – and in the interim I am always happy to answer questions about any biblical topic or subject.

As to apologetics, I am very encouraged by your words, and want to encourage you to continue to minister according to the gifts and in the field the Lord has assigned to you. As I often say, I am not gifted in the area of apologetics, so I can only do my best when things of an apologetic nature come up in the course of this ministry. But the Body of Christ is composed off many members, we all have our own gifts, our own ministries assigned by Jesus Christ, and the effects which the Father brings about (1Cor.12:4-6). We all need each other and every true ministry done in a godly fashion is a help and a blessing to the whole Body. So kudos to you my friend that you take your calling seriously and with the proper, godly gravity. In persevering in this there the greatest reward. Every Christian is given the opportunity to grow to spiritual maturity, to pass the tests of life associated with that status, and to minister to Christ's Church in a full and effective way . . . so as to win the three crowns (see the link). The fact that few Christians (especially in our Laodicean era) are willing even to proceed to "square one" is no reason for the rest of us to shirk and thus to lose out on the eternal rewards that Jesus has for us all.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Is Jesus a Muslim Prophet?

Bible says that woman must cover head and wear veil

Response #22: 

On the deity of Jesus Christ, see the link:

Jesus is God

On the true meaning of Paul's words in 1st Corinthians chapter 11, see the link:

1st Corinthians 11: Hats or Hair?

Question #23: 

Dear Professor,

I am visiting my sister in Qatar and although I came here with hopes of sharing the truth. It seems there will be no opportunity for it, at least this time. Neither with her, nor with her fiancι, who has been diagnosed with a cancer and whose heart I hoped would be willing to receive the message of salvation, particularly as it has been clear from what she said that he has found no peace in Islam, as it is also not possible to do so.

As it is however, both of them do not see the need to look beyond Islam. If someone doesn't look for the truth, he will find the kind of false that will satisfy him and I feel this is the case here, for many reasons. Nevertheless, the blindness that comes with a hardened heart is astonishing to someone who has seen the truth and believed. She has grown very critical of the western way of life which she experienced particularly in the UK, drinking culture and promiscuity being particularly demoralizing. Similarly, the hypocrisy of Roman Catholic Church has discouraged her from pursuing Christianity.

In Islam she has found the answer. What she fails to see is that despite rightly considering the Catholic rituals empty, she is now fulfilled by observing Muslim traditions and salvation by works, differing in form, but just as pointless. As to hypocrisy, on the one hand she said how happy she is that the state is supportive of Islam (shortened Ramadan working hours, etc.), but fails to recognize that this government, rich beyond what we can comprehend, exploits people (or shows acceptance for exploitation) from other Asian countries (Hindus, Bangladeshi, etc.) and uses them as cheap labour for construction works, paying beggarly salaries and not providing water for those working in 40+ degrees heat. Somehow the discrepancy between those driving most luxurious cars and those who live like slaves isn't offending. So she found comfort in the Muslim piety and observance of false scripture and sees no need to verify its veracity, in case it really turns out not to be true and then her life will be in shatters. I keep her in prayers and shall continue to do so, but we all have free will and this is how she has used hers.

Although, I did met someone whose heart might be open to the truth. While on the plane, I was revising Hebrew when a girl sitting next to me asked what language that is, as she couldn't recognize it. I said to her what I study and why and we had a very good conversation about things that matter. Her name is Rose and I would be very grateful if you could offer a prayer for her.

Recent weeks have not been as fruitful as I would like, as I had to finish some outstanding work which which I have been unable to complete earlier. This work is now done and after my visit to Qatar comes to an end, I'm looking forward to committing to study.

With continuous prayer for you and your ministry and in our Lord,

Response #23:  

Good to hear from you my friend. I want to commend you for your efforts on your sister's behalf. I know that you have planted seeds, merely by the witness of your presence and by your inspiring example. We cannot know what the future holds but we do that our God is good and loving and merciful – He knows our hearts and all of our deepest desire better than we. He is working it all out together for good in ways we cannot even dimly comprehend.

Thanks for your prayers, my friend. I will be praying for Rose as well (and of course your sister).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior who gave up everything for us,

Bob L.

Ichthys Home