God bless brother Luginbill. I pray that all is well with you and your family. I've emailed you several times in regards to some issues I'm having and I've attached some of the emails below just in case you have forgot. You have given me sound advice. You have truly been a blessing to me. Tonight as I write, I just wanted to ask for your prayers. Every since I've been emailing last year until now, I've been going through up and down moments. Being a Preacher myself, I really feel ashamed/embarrassed to even discuss the things I've discuss with you already.
[personal details omitted]
Brother Robert, I'm going through very hard right now spiritually and I sincerely request your prayers. Forgive me for my long and some what repetitive email. I just needed to let this out.
Thank you my friend. God Bless.
I am sorry to hear that things continue to be a struggle for you in your efforts to minister to the Body of Christ. I wish I could say that this comes as a surprise, but it does not (I know a bit about this, through both observation and experience). The devil's process is really pretty simple: 1) identify threats; 2) attempt to compromise them; 3) if unsuccessful, then attempt to hammer them into inactivity.
It says quite a lot about a Christian's efforts for Jesus Christ that he or she has started to "share in Christ's sufferings" (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Mk.10:38-39; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12; see the link: in CT 2A: ""sharing in the sufferings of Christ" is a part of the normal Christian experience"). The devil doesn't waste his time or resources persecuting Christians whom he has not identified as "problems". Nor does he take things to the next level of requesting permission to persecute those who can be otherwise distracted from doing what the Lord wants them to do (cf. Job 1-2: it would seem that Satan "burns capital" when he has to request permission to take "special actions" against believers which would otherwise be prohibited). If a person is not growing spiritually, not passing the testing that comes every believer's way, and, most critically, not making a difference for Jesus Christ, then they are not worthy of much of the devil's attention. But if a person is getting started with doing things the right way, beginning to actually pay attention to the truth or, even worse (from Satan's perspective), beginning to act on that truth in how he/she directs their life and even verging on serving Jesus in the ministry He has called that person to, this always provokes a reaction from the evil one.
The vast majority of human beings are not Christians and not at all interested in responding to the gospel. And the vast majority of Christians in this age of Laodicea are, sadly enough, not much interested in God's truth and certainly not in applying it to their lives in any serious or consistent way. If they show any inclination to do so, Satan is very quick to hit them with distractions. As our Lord says in His explanation of the parable of the Sower, "Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. " (Mk.4:18-19: NIV). When distractions of this sort prove ineffective, the devil turns to inflicting just as must suffering on the Christian in question as the Lord will allow. Happily, the Lord will not allow us to be destroyed (as the example of Job makes clear: Job 1:12; 2:6; cf. 2Cor.12:9). Furthermore, the Lord will not allow us to be tested "beyond what we can bear" (1Cor.10:13). As I often have occasion to say (and to remind myself as well), that does not mean that the Lord will not allow us to be tested beyond what we think we can bear. Even Moses lost his temper. Even Elijah lost his nerve. Even David lost his self-control. All of us face and will continue to face (as long as we are "in the body") pressures and irritations and temptations which may sometimes seem unendurable but if they actually were unendurable, the Lord would not let us face them. We are tougher than we think. And the fact that we are sometimes called to face this issue those of us, that is, who are actually doing what Christ is calling us to do is really a very great compliment. As a dear Christian friend of mine recently remarked, however, "we know all these things, but when we are in the process of feeling the heat they can be very difficult to remember and act upon properly". How true. It would be easy to pass a multiple choice test about theoretical suffering that might be coming our way. "Practical exams" are always exponentially harder.
In short, since we know and must always remember that being under the gun is not an indication of deficiency but of the sort of opposition that comes to those who are advancing in the Christian life, we ought to do our best not to let these things get us down. Reasonably enough, the devil is going to attack those who are leading the charge not those who are bringing up the rear. As good Christians, we are trying to manage our lives for Jesus Christ in the most efficient possible way then Satan comes along and throws a monkey-wrench into the whole operation. From our very limited and very personal viewpoint, we are inevitably tempted to see this as disaster. But if we were to stop and think about it all objectively, we would realize that every single thing that happens in this life is already programmed into the Plan of God. If the Lord is willing to let the dog eat our sermon notes or have a twister take out our house and six months worth of our work for Him He certainly has a good reason, and that reason will always involve the furtherance of His plan for good in every way. Especially for those of us who are ministering to the Body of Christ, we have to resist the temptation of seeing things that slow down our ministries as "set-backs" when these are clearly out of our control and just as clearly emanating from the evil one. The Lord is well-able to turn all such set-backs into great advancements, and is surely working out His plan through us in just the right way. Perhaps, on the occasion of some particular set-back as we view see it He is actually demonstrating to the world of men and angels both that we who love Him will prove resilient in spite of whatever has happened. All the more reason to resolve to prove resilient no matter what might happen!
After all, we belong to Jesus. We are His soldiers to be deployed and utilized just as He wishes, whether or not we understand the particular battle plan at any given moment. True trust in Him is demonstrated by persevering as best we can regardless of the circumstances, "in season or out of season" as Paul told Timothy (2Tim.4:2). And speaking of Paul, there was a man who never seems to have taken any of the horrific suffering and opposition and setbacks personally, but who instead persevered by doing the best he could with whatever he had to work with at any given time. Surely he understood that it is the effort and what motivates it that counts, not the visible results which may indeed be completely dependent upon circumstances and factors which are altogether beyond our control.
One of the dangers for mature believers who are in the process of effectively ministering for Jesus Christ is precisely this issue of over-thinking the tactical problems and as a result over-looking the strategic realities (to put things in military terms). It is very easy, all too easy, to tend toward spiritual myopia and forget about God's point of view. It is all too easy to become fixated on what is happening to us and our lives and circumstances and in the process to forget that God is in control of everything, that nothing is happening without His knowledge or say so indeed, nothing happens at all without His fore-knowledge and predestination! The result of this very common and very understandable spiritual myopia is often frustration, doubt, and, perhaps most dangerously, misguided changes of direction. Moses should never have changed the Lord's instructions but in anger he did. Elijah should never have changed his approach and run away but in fear he did. David should never have changed his policy and stayed home instead of going off to war with the army but in complacency he did. The result of giving into emotion in all three cases was a disastrous alteration of a previous, good application.
So while I do understand that you had it easier in the past, the same can be said for many believers who were never on the devil's "radar screen" before but are now getting hit hard precisely because they have finally started doing what they should have been doing before. The correct reaction to this kind of opposition is, therefore, not retreat, but continued advance through the shot and shell. Instead of "going back to Egypt" in our hearts, when such pressures come we need to hold fast to our good applications and do the best we can to stick with them come what may. Allowing ourselves to be thrown down and completely demoralized because we are not able to do all we would wish to do on account of circumstance beyond our control is a little bit like a major league ball player who becomes dejected because his average slips .50 points because of an injury instead of realizing that he is doing the best he can, taking pride in doing the best he can, and recognizing that most people are not even "in the game". We are in the game, and it behooves us to stay in it to the best of our ability, strength and resources.
If God gives us 10 hours a day, we should use these as best we can for His service; if He gives us 10 minutes, the same thing is true. But it would be just as mistaken to think that because we have only 10 minutes that we might as well give up as it would be to squander 8 hours because we have 10 although both of these attitudes and behaviors are very typical of what we human beings are apt to do. As mature believers in Jesus, however, it behooves us to get into the habit of being realistic about the whole situation of life in the devil's world (see the link). We do need to be hard on ourselves on the one hand, striving to do the best we can do with what we have; but on the other hand we need to be careful about getting down on ourselves for things that are not our fault and over which we have very little control. When we take stock objectively and see that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing in the place and in the manner we ought to be doing it, then even if we are not doing it perfectly, we should not allow ourselves to become dejected because the adversary is keeping us from doing things as well as we would like. Running up-hill is harder than running down-hill, and we can be absolutely confident that our Lord knows the difference and will reward us according to our efforts and in full-knowledge of the opposition we faced.
You are running a good race, my friend. Keep running it, even if the road has headed steeply up-hill for the moment. You can make it to the top Jesus would not be leading you in this path if you could not.
Know that you are in my prayers daily.
Here are some other links you may find helpful:
In Need of Guidance and Encouragement.
All about Ichthys: Mutual encouragement in the Lord
Mutual Encouragement in Christ.
Christian Trials and Testing
On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.
Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.
Encouragement in Christian Sufferings.
In need of encouragement.
Waiting on God.
In Jesus our Forerunner and the One for whom we run,
I want to first thank you for taking the time out to write all that you wrote. I really needed all of it. You nailed it on the head. Sometimes we just need to reminded of that which is most important. That is the Word of God. I receive ever bit of truth that was written and I shall apply it strongly in my day to day living. Again, your encouragement, love, wisdom and knowledge, and friendship has been very valuable to me. I give God the glory for putting you in my path. As you said and as I know, God knows all things, and he knew your friendship and your guidance and your assistance with helping me further understand things is needed in my life. I truly thank you for your prayers and your word of encouragement. I know that God is pleased with the work you are doing and the difference you are making across the world. I know the devil is mad, and that's why I pray the more for you and your ministry because it is truly needed. Is your ministry strictly over the web, or do you have service at your home with your family? Do you get the chance to minister at different churches? I can only imagine that your website probably takes up most of your time which is a good thing because you are ministering the word of God. But I was just curious. Thanks again my friend for just being here for me and being my brothers keeper. God bless you.
Glad to be of some small help. I know that your ministry is just as important to the Lord's as mine or anyone else's. He has a very specific purpose for them all, and we who are performing them all have our own challenges to face. No one who is doing a "good job" for the Lord on any level is going to be without opposition of a serious nature.
I thank you for your prayers too. They are a great encouragement. As to time, that is one thing I have to set a careful watch on. I have a full time job, this ministry takes up a good deal of time (like you, I feel I should devote more to it), and "life" is also very "interesting" and time-consuming, especially of late. I don't have a brick-and-mortar church nor do I do Christian speaking engagements (I don't imagine I'd get too many takers if I did, especially not for any repeats). I'm just happy to be able to have a ministry I can manage and do consistently. The fact that it's non-conventional doesn't really bother me. Maybe it should, but it doesn't. I've rarely seen a completely conventional one that I would rate high as doing the Christians it was purportedly serving much good. All the more need, I would imagine, for you and me and all our fellow workers who are toiling away in the corners of the Lord's vineyard. The main thing, in my view, is not numbers or notoriety, but being consistent with what the Lord gives us, large or small. After all, Noah receives high praise in scripture for having been "a preacher of righteousness" (2Pet.2:5 KJV), but he was largely ignored in his day and only had seven in the congregation and I frankly wonder about some of them.
Thanks for all your good words, my friend, and keep fighting the good fight of faith for Jesus Christ our Lord.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
1st Peter 5:4 NIV
God bless you Brother Robert. I pray that all is well with you and yours. I'm having a moment that is frustrating and discouraging. I know that the enemy is at work, but I also know that I have not been at my best either. With that being said, I want to ask you something. You have been very inspirational to me and have help me through some tough times. You have provided timely scriptures and have given me great advice which I have saved and refer to when needed. But this time if possible, I would like to have your opinion lets say (what would you do in my situation).
You may or may not remember my story, but attached to this email it's all there [personal details omitted].
I know you understand exactly where I coming from and most importantly God knows where I'm coming from. And I believe even as I pray and when you get this email and Pray to God to help you respond back to this email, he will give you just what's needed to be said.
I can't thank you enough for the many email response I received back from you which have brought me through some hard times.
Take care my brother in Christ.
Good to hear from you. I am encouraged by your email because what it says to me is that you are fighting the fight. We will always run into frustrations, impediments, obstacles, distractions, etc. when we are truly fighting the fight the way our Lord wants us to do so. If we were giving up, the devil would not need to be so concerned about us. It is only because we are hanging in there that we are receiving opposition. As one wag once quipped, "You know you're over the target when you start getting flak". How true. The very fact that you are being opposed and are having a hard time being as diligent as you would like to be in your study and teaching of the Word of God means you are doing it the right way. There will probably never be a time in the lives of any of us when we have it "all perfect". And if it ever does get to that point, we might want to have a look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are really doing what God wants us to do.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2nd Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV
Of all people in the history of the Church we might have expected to have been given overwhelming divine "fighter support" it is the apostle Paul, and yet we see from this passage and know from very many others that the troubles he faced in prosecuting his ministry were beyond what most of us can even bear to contemplate (let alone actually attempt to endure). Yet he kept at it. And no surprise God was with him in every step of faith he took. Every time Paul thought it was impossible, he took one more step, and the Lord was there to support his foot when it came down.
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.
2nd Timothy 4:2 NIV
Sometimes it may seem as if things will always be "out of season", and it can be frustrating when we face long periods of opposition with no end in sight. At such times, we have to remember that this is not about us: this is about Jesus Christ. He would not have led us to the ministries He has if they were not important. And it is not our strength, our words, our talents that are making these ministries go: it is Him. Our job is to persevere the best we can in spite of everything and leave it to the Lord to work it all out together for good. For it is easy to see that if a person gives up, that is a mistake. But what it is not often easy to understand, what you are encountering at present, is that it is also a mistake to let our own imperfections and limitations become a stumbling block. We will never be perfect or have it perfect this side of heaven. But we can give it our best the best we can day by day. We may not bat 1.000; some days we may bat next to zero; but we can keep swinging away. We may even get knocked down sometimes. The measure of the victorious Christian warrior is whether or not he keeps getting up.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations there was given to me a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV
I thank you, my friend, for all your kind words and encouragements and for all your prayers. You remain in my prayers daily too. I do ask you to pray for me and mine for deliverance, that He may part the sea for us to enter in on dry land. May He put the capstone on His victory for you as well, and be with you in all your courageous efforts for His holy Name.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior, in whom alone we have placed our hope.
Hello Brother Robert,
First, let me start off by saying, thank you very much for those encouraging words. You have kept me in remembrance of that which is True. I'm truly grateful for your service in Christ. I also want to apologize for the delayed response. I've been meaning to reply and let you know that I'm praying believing that God will mightily follow-through on that great deliverance for you and yours.
Eph 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
In the name of our Lord and Savior, from Whom All Blessings Flow
Thank you so much! I deeply appreciate it. We are still waiting on events here but I am confident that the Lord is working all things together for good. So please do keep us in prayer!
You are in my prayers too, brother.
Keep fighting the good fight of faith for Jesus our Lord, and keep feeding His sheep.
I was looking at your site b/c a brethren on a message forum I frequent pm'd me your site.
First off, well done on the ministry you put out on your site. I don't put anyone on a pedestal (nothing personal here or anything), but I like to read what other ministries say on certain issues, and you've done a very good job on the end times issues, as well as Apostasy going on in the modern-day church.
Anyhow, the reason why I'm emailing is b/c I have this one question - in our present day, there just does NOT seem like any halfway-decent churches that preach biblical truth. Sure, there may be a few solid milk/meat preaching churches out there, but it seems like it's gotten to a point where 98-99% of them have all but abandoned biblical truth and gone after seducing spirits and doctrines of devils like Purpose Driven, Emergent nonsense like Bill Hybels and Brian McLaren, Richard Foster contemplative prayer nonsense, yoking up with the Roman Catholic Church (which was what Charles Colson got the SBC to do after he got "converted"), the whole Glenn Beck charade where he's been invited into Christian churches, etc, etc.
Even worst of all, all of these so-called denominations have infested themselves with heretics, gnostics, freemasons, diests, etc, including the supposedly fundamental SBC (which I happen to be as well). Ultimately, even the "conservative" SBC pastors and leaders (along with the Protestants) just don't care about anything anymore. It's as if they only care to collect their paychecks and care for their families (at best), and at worst the Luciferians have infiltrated the pulpits and seminaries. And not to mention too a lot of them scoff at end times bible prophecy nowadays.
Again, sure, there are a few good churches out there, but even the non-denominational and independent ones are being watered down recently as well (i.e., I don't know if you're familiar with Mike Hoggard, who's done several fascinating end times series et al, but even he has caved in recently to Romans 13 meaning "unlimited submission to the government").
So was wondering your opinion on something - is it REALLY necessary to attend a church building nowadays? I'll be honest, I end up getting much more out of sitting down for 15-30 minutes reading a couple of chapters in the bible than sitting down in the modern-day pew listening to a pastor preaching a mumbled, confusion message.
I know you are very busy, please accept my apologies for this being a long email (again, a brethren on a MB recommended your site) - but we are living in some interesting times now. A Muslim vs a Mormon for the White House? Who would have thought that!
Very good to make your acquaintance. It's an interesting question. As I sometimes observe, dedicated church buildings seem to date back mainly to the forcible occupation of pagan temples when Christianity became the Roman state religion under Constantine. Certainly, we know of no "churches" in the sense of brick-and-mortar buildings in the New Testament. The apostles made contact with local communities first through the synagogues but taught thereafter in a wide variety of places. Establishing "churches" i.e., communities of believers irrespective of any physical structure was a priority. Worrying about "physical plant" clearly was not. It does seem to me that dedicated church buildings have done much more harm to Christian groups over the centuries than good. They tend to occupy the focus of the group to a disproportionate degree, sopping up the talent, gifts, money, time and energy which might otherwise go to learning and spreading the Word of God and it is certainly a problem to begin thinking of a building as a "holy place" somehow.
I certainly agree with your diagnosis of the state of the current "church-visible" in our Laodicean age (see the link). The ubiquitous lukewarmness we see is a definite fulfillment of the prophecy of this time on the threshold of the Tribulation. And while it is sad, from one point of view, it also offers a significant opportunity. This ministry and others which are breaking the mold would no doubt not have been possible in an earlier day when tradition would have restricted them and before technology enabled them. The feeling of nausea that comes from attending services where the truth is entirely ignored and/or subordinated to entertainment is for me a clear prodding of the Spirit. If attending "church" results in the troubling of our consciences, perhaps we should not neglect that guidance (1Cor.11:17; cf. Amos 5:21). After all, the whole purpose of our "assembling of ourselves together" is mutual encouragement for living the Christian life correctly and helping others to do likewise none of which can be accomplished without the orthodox teaching of the Word of God:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV
As this passage shows, the correct functioning of the Body is "all the more" important the closer we come to the end. But that correct functioning revolves entirely around the teaching of the Word of God and its mutual discussion, a process which results in genuine love and the good works of spreading the Word through the various ministries every member of the Body possesses in other words, nothing whatsoever to do with %99.99 of what passes for "church" in our day and age. As you say, we can make more profitable use of our time. And, I would add, there is something wrong, it seems to me, with Christians not "voting with their feet" in staying away from places that are little more than "Venus Fly-traps" for non-serious individuals with no genuine interest in the truth.
In hopes that you find one of the rare exceptions!
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior whose true Church we are.
I live in Melbourne, Australia. I'm a new Christian that doesn't believe in OSAS. However the church I'm attending at the moment is very strong on this doctrine. I'm looking for another church as I can see this doctrine destroys the responsibility of the believer. Do you have a sister church or a church you can refer me to down this way?
Good to make your acquaintance. While I most certainly agree with your take on the dangers of OSAS (see the link), I am not able to recommend any individual churches in your country. I am, however, BCC-ing on this email a few contacts who may know of some place you might try which has this issue right (and I hope they will email you if they do have suggestions).
This question, namely, "where can I find a church where they teach the Word of God in depth and with doctrinal orthodoxy" is one of the most common I receive. I was always dismayed in my younger years by Christian "crusades" which did their best to see to it that unbelievers were saved . . . then did virtually nothing to help them advance spiritually after they were reborn. Both sides of this equation are absolutely essential, and for those of us who realize that no one is "once saved, always saved", we know just how important that second half of the equation is. For not only is the taking in of solid spiritual food absolutely essential for growth, test-passing, and eventual production (all of which form the basis for our eternal reward), but it is also critical for "defending the beach-head" of salvation in the first place: salvation depends upon the perseverance of our faith (e.g., Lk.8:13). Those who fall away are generally not those who are being helped forward by the truth.
One thing I am making it my purpose also to do of late is to point out to those looking for such a church that a small fellowship of believers actually committed to spiritual advance through the truth of the Word of God may be (and in my view definitely is) superior to a mega-church with all the bells and whistles where a 100 years of Sundays would not bring a person any closer to Jesus Christ. So it is not a bad idea to look for such a fellowship or to start one. You are certainly welcome to the materials at Ichthys and I stand ready to answer any questions you might have.
Please do feel free to write me back, and I will say a prayer for your success in this noble and important venture.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hope you and all those around you are doing well. I am still striving in looking for a church, I just haven't had that break through. In looking for a church; what should I be looking for.
- teaches that Christ is God in the flesh
- Salvation is of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not of works.
-Thus, we must Persevere in our faith.
Perseverance is not salvation by works: To be saved in the first place, a person must believe and repent of their sin. Now, that is not considered to be works - it is merely an internal act of our will. Perseverance is nothing more than continuing in repentance and trusting in Jesus. If perseverance is considered to be works then our initial confession and repentance (to be saved) must also be works, and it is not.... (Have I spoken correctly?, because my pastor is adamant that what I've just described is works).
- Post Tribulation Rapture
-...(What other important teachings, should I be looking for?)
What is your take on speaking in tongues? To be honest with you, it scares me!
I'm still hoping someone might get back to you with a church in Melbourne that you can refer me to. Please keep me in mind. It's becoming really uncomfortable & discouraging at the church where I am. I feel I'm being targeted in every sermon because the pastor knows I have a strong stance against OSAS. All though my name is never mentioned, I believe I'm always in mind when discouraging things are said. What is most difficult is that, most of my friends are there; and I'm torn between the truth (Word of God) & leaving the church knowing very well I might loose some dear friends.
Another thing I TOTALLY AGREE with you on is the Post-Tribulation Rapture. The church I attend is Pre-Tribulation Rapture; once again I've tried to share my views with no success. (There in for a big & deadly surprise).
I have another question for you. My pastor was talking about the new covenant Christ made. He said that "the new covenant was made between God (Jesus) and the nation of Israel." Hence the "last supper!" I was under the impression it was with the spiritual Jews, the church, all those that believe. What do you think the bible teaches?
Love In Christ
Good to hear from you. Trying to find a traditional "church" that is doctrinally correct on all major subjects is a very tall order. After all, brick and mortar churches are essentially businesses. They have substantial expenses just in maintaining the physical plant and paying the staff, and most of course spend money in other ways as well. That means that by definition they have to reduce any "offense" they might give, because the more people they alienate, the less money they have, and if they are not careful, if they venture into actual full-blown truth-telling, they will probably alienate so many with the means to give that they risk going belly up; then the physical building will have to sold, and the pastor will have to look for a day-job. Of course perhaps that is how it should be anyway (but I digress).
This need to avoid offense is accomplished in a number of different ways by different churches. Denominations have "solved" this problem by setting in concrete what they "believe" and, to a large degree, ignoring substantive teaching ever after. What they gain in physical security and doctrinal peace they give up in spiritual power and actual ministry to the Lord. Independent churches with strong doctrinal stances sometimes are really not much better, especially if as in the case you report they are tapping into what has become a traditional theological viewpoint out there in the ether and are defending it aggressively as a niche strategy (as opposed to searching for the truth). This "B" option is probably better than the "A" option, but it limits the church or group in question to an already limited and often partially incorrect starting point. And in such cases even if the pastor comes to see the error of a particular teaching (as in "once saved, always saved"), he is then in a difficult position: if he actually starts teaching the truth, he will alienate the niche-traditionalist he has attracted and may lose his building or his job or both. Actually, for someone who wants to serve Jesus rather than appearances, that would not be so bad. In any group which is founded on false principles or compromised approaches, there probably are anyway only a handful of individuals within it who really want to grow in the truth, get closer to Jesus, and serve Him the way He wants to be served (cf. Jn.21:15-17). When a pastor-teacher begins to make an issue of the truth, the truth has a way of separating the wheat from the chaff pretty quickly. The "C" option is to make the church or group a social club which almost never makes an issue of doctrinal things at all and rarely if ever engages in substantive exposition of the Bible. This can be done with the trappings of doctrine (of any sort of doctrine), and, if the building is big and nice, if the music is spectacular, if the hoopla is exciting, can attract a lot of people and also money. And of course these are just patterns. Many places are combinations of the above.
Based on my experience with this ministry and my conversations with pastors and men with the gift of teaching over the years, it is my impression that if a man is not willing to compromise on the truth, having a traditional church building with a congregation capable of providing a full-time salary is a very unrealistic expectation (the odds of pulling that off are very low). I know I was very tempted in seminary to go the denominational route because I didn't see any other realistic option for full-time ministry. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that continuing my education and looking for a way to minister outside of the traditional model was the best course (the folly of trying to change things from the inside is obvious enough; e.g., Nicodemus' experience: Jn.7:50-52). There was no such thing as an internet back then, but God has worked it out in my case for the good in every way, and I couldn't be more pleased. This ministry was developed specifically for good Christians like yourself who are starved for the truth and unable to find it in a traditional setting. Ichthys doesn't solve the "fellowship problem", but then true Christian fellowship, worthwhile Christian fellowship, is all about encouraging our fellow believers with the truth (that is the true message of Hebrews 10:24-25), not having brunch (not that there is anything wrong with brunch). But if those we are fellowshiping with aren't willing to accept the truth and/or are undermining our own commitment to it, what is gained by that activity?
As to your question about basic tenets, yes I think these are very good principles you select as essentials and ought to be quite useful in avoiding false starts.
I would stay away from any group that teaches that tongues is still an operational spiritual gift (which it is not whatever they are doing, it is not biblical "speaking in tongues"). There are many reasons for that, so I would invite you to have a look at these two links (they will direct you to other links as well, and please feel free to write back with questions):
The Gift of Tongues I
The Gift of Tongues II
As to the question of covenants, next to water-baptism, that is one of the most widely misunderstood biblical teachings and concepts in all of present day evangelical-dom. A covenant is essentially a promise, and God's fundamental promise, the one from which all others flow, is Jesus Christ and salvation through His Name (2Cor.1:20; cf. Col.1:27). All of the aspects of God's promise of salvation derive from that salvation because only the saved have any blessing from Him in this life or any inheritance from Him in the next. The main difference between the promises of the Old and the New covenants is the fulfillment of the cross. The Old looks forward to and foreshadows through symbolism the coming of the reality of redemption through the actual blood of Christ (His work for us on the cross in dying for our sins). The New is the reality of salvation through faith in Him, the Person of Jesus Christ (the God-man) and the work of Jesus Christ (paying the penalty for all our sins in the darkness on the cross). Sometimes biblical doctrines are over-simplified by the ignorant to point of rendering them insipid. This is a case of hyper- and incorrect complication so that the true meaning has in most systems become completely obliterated. The above is the "nutshell" explanation. You can find much more at the following links:
What is a Biblical Covenant?
The Old and the New Covenants.
One final point. On the issue of repentance, this is a word I always try to use with great care because of the emotional baggage that it has come to be loaded down with in English usage. To be sure, repentance is more than just an intellectual decision, but it is also quite far removed from the excessive self-torment and flagellation that the word often brings to mind. Repentance is a 180 degree spiritual change of direction, and such changes have to involve the whole inner person to be genuine, that is to say, not just an intellectual recognition that the prior course was the wrong one but a fundamental decision of the will that actually results in the turn-around (but not an over-emotional self-torture which approaches works and penance). There is much more on that at these links:
Repentance in Biblical terms.
I am keeping you and your situation in mind, and also in my prayers.
Keep on fighting the good fight of faith my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I just want to thank you for being patient and taking time to help me in explaining verses. I pray that Our Lord & Saviour Jesus continues to bless you and your ministry as you help young Christians like me grow in the Love & Knowledge of our Lord, God and Saviour.
Please continue to keep me in your prayers.
Only this week again, the pastor had a go at me for questioning his statement of "homosexuals will enter the kingdom of heaven"; of course he must protect his stand on OSAS no matter what. He got so angry; I felt another spirit possessed him. Instead of focusing on holiness, this is the kind of nonsense we're fed in churches these days. The only reason I haven't already left, is because of the dear friends I have there, who I'm also trying to reach out to about the false doctrines of OSAS & Pre-tribulation rapture.
Love In Christ
Thank you for your patience too and thanks especially for your prayers!
You certainly have your work cut out for you in this church situation (see the link: "Some sensitive topics", response #3)! I will indeed continue to keep you in my prayers that you find just the right spot and hopefully be able to lead your friends there as well!
You are always most welcome at Ichthys.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the Truth and the Word of God.
Good Afternoon Bob,
I am of a mind lately, that following Jesus has nothing to do with any particular ministry. I dont think it will be received as a popular idea by interest groups, but oh well. Activities of preference need not be associated publicly to support yet another box, saying that quilters or bowlers are Christians too! The problem always seems to root in what we like to do. Pole dancers for Christ, Biker Sunday, "Judo for Jesus. So many judgments cross my mind, of which I am the most deserving. Resounding choruses of This Is The Answer echoing down the halls of history, the worship chambers, yet so few will take it as more than words. I go, because I know, and that is peace to me. His peace.
His Peace to you Bob. Your site continues to be a welcome time, at any time of the day.
Good to hear from you.
I certainly agree. The only biblical organization of which I am aware is "the Church of Jesus Christ". Membership in this assembly is restricted to those who accept through faith Jesus as the Son of God and His work in dying for our sins as the sole basis for their salvation. This Church has no building: it is itself the Building of God (e.g. 1Cor.3:9; Eph.2:21). This Church has no special divisions: men and women, Jew and gentile, slave and free are all one in Jesus Christ (Gal.3:28). This Church is not about separation: it is one Body wherein every member is indispensable to the whole (1Cor.12). Sadly, of course, most Christians today do not really have that true, biblical perspective, but it is a comfort to me and I believe to all who think about these things in the correct way to know that on that great day of eternity our oneness and perfect eternal fellowship one with another will be a source of great blessing, peace and joy, even as we all exult in the Lord and Master of us all, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.
Good Morning Bob.
This mornings Chambers (Oswald) referred to Luke 14. I understand verses 25-35 to ask for those who are inclined to follow Him to make a choice. He later refers to the builder as one who understands of the cost in the choice. He finishes with what happens when one does not understand these costs, yet chose. I don't believe these are metaphor or actions to take or place upon other people, but choices that are based on position rather than performance. If the position of God in your life is as Living Creator, you would give him gratefully everything. Tithes and offerings, living sacrifice, all. Very personal.
Much like the 'news' today, I am seeing the 'problem' in those who profess to know God everywhere. I also know to let it not be all about me, but all about what is in the center of my life. I still hear an 18 year old son of missionaries answering my question 'If you had a prayer for this country, what would it be'? He said-' Revival in the hearts of believers.' Culturally we have become numb to the resurrection. I realize this can be the very reason the 'solution' remains in a jar, taken out for display on Sunday, potable to be on display to enhance gatherings in he Solutions name. But- Could we possibly entertain even the idea of the great commission-making disciples- in places where those who profess Christ with their lips, without understanding these truths of cost? There in lies true choice to Joy.
Thank you for your time, and again, your given selfless act of love.
Yes, it is all very personal, or should be. It is possible to read scripture and not be much moved. It is also possible to allow the Spirit to influence us to our core. Everything is about choice. Of course understanding takes effort, and sometimes that requires that we receive help as well as giving it. I know I certainly have received much in the way of guidance and instruction in my life, both spiritual and secular. When it comes to scripture, understanding what it means through the Spirit requires both caring what it means (our choice) and knowing what it means (and the latter sometimes takes study, effort and outside help even for those who are prepared to teach and gifted to do so).
Best wishes for your continuing efforts to draw closer to our Lord through faith in Him and His truth.
Hope your doing well!
In reference to Revelation 3:16, the lukewarm believers; Are they true believers? What was it that was making them lukewarm? Did they have 1 foot in the church & 1 foot in the world?
This passage is covered in detail at the link in CT 2A: Laodicea.
Essentially, our current Church era, that of Laodicea, is characterized by this quality of lukewarmness. We are, as a group (not necessarily as individuals) neither cold about the truth nor hot for it. We are lukewarm. We think we are rich, well-clothed and see well, but in fact we are poor, naked and blind: we have not devoted ourselves to the Word of God as we should, and as a result we are characterized by lackluster spiritual immaturity which would be bad enough if we recognized it, but instead we, as a group, think we are smarter, better, and more spiritual in every way than previous generations of the Church.
As has often the case, while we tend to put the emphasis on negative behavior, scripture is more interested in the positive approach. For while it is true that you can't be successful without a good defense, you can't win at all without some sort of an offense. The latter is what we lack most: no spiritual growth through learning God's truth deeply, no spiritual progress through applying what we (should) have put in our hearts by believing it to our lives and the tests we face, no spiritual production by helping others do the same through the proper functioning of the spiritual gifts God has given us to assist in the edification of the Church or at least very little of these most critical things which result in great reward for those who do engage in them.
To be fully effective, of course we have to "pursue sanctification" as well. But attempting to run the Christian race without spiritual growth is like trying to stay upright on a bicycle forever without moving. Growth contributes to sanctification, but sanctification does not in and of itself produce any growth. Christians who really are living for Jesus in all senses are changed from the inside out through the influence of the Word of God and the Spirit's use of the truth put into our hearts by faith. Many have tried to change from the outside in (the Pharisees, for example) or have merely pretend to have changed by adopting seemingly sanctified behaviors of showmanship (the Sadducees, for example) or have substituted self-engendered ecstatic behavior to look holy (the Essenes, for example) or have engaged in political causes as a substitute (the Zealots, for example), but in truth there is absolutely no substitute for hearing, believing and applying the truth of the Word of God. That is what really changes a person, and the commitment to doing this hard work of spiritual growth is the quality in which Laodicea is lacking.
Please see the links:
Epignosis, Christian Epistemology, and Spiritual Growth
Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Growth
The Spiritual Growth Theme
Yours in Jesus Christ who is the Truth.
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
Someone had asked if we need to believe that Jesus is God to be saved and I quoted:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:6)
I said that Lord here refers to Deity in a Jewish religious context and he said that it doesn't. He was saying that Lord never meant deity 2000-6000 years ago, only that it meant someone with divine authority. He further said kurios was used for believers and non believers also. And he said for this reason Abraham was not referred to as God, but he was god, lord, to Sarah. I was almost certain that Lord meant that Jesus is God in those verses. Are there clear passages stating that we need to believe that Jesus is God to be saved?
It says at Acts 16:31 in response to the question "what must I do to be saved", "believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved". First, while you are absolutely correct in your understanding of these matters, I would wish to point out that to be saved a person has to have actual faith in Jesus Christ the real Jesus Christ. If a person is not ready to believe who and what Jesus is, or if a person is not willing to accept that He died for our sins, then that person does not have true faith, that is, not any kind of faith that will save because said person is in effect denying the truth about the only object of faith, Jesus Christ the Lord (cf. Acts 4:12).
To be saved a person has to be willing to respond to the Spirit's testimony about the Person of Jesus and the work of Jesus. The work of Jesus is His death for our sins, His actual expiation of all we have ever done or will that is sinful, His death in the darkness wherein He paid the actual penalty for all these sins and for the sins of the entire world. Now a person who is just hearing about this for the first time and who wants to be saved need not have detailed theological understanding of every single point of soteriology in order to be saved (see the link) it is enough to know and accept that Jesus died for us in our place. But if a person accepts the fact of the existence of Jesus and even the crucifixion of Jesus but is nevertheless unwilling to rely on Jesus' atoning death for salvation, whether said person thinks he/she doesn't really need a Savior or thinks some works he/she does are sufficient, that is not faith, that does not result in salvation. Similarly, it is possible to be saved without understanding all of the details of the doctrines of the Trinity, the virgin birth, the doctrines of kenosis and the hypostatic union (the Person of Christ). What is not possible is to have an active disbelief about the Person of Christ and still have saving faith. If a person disbelieves that Jesus is really a genuine human being, that person does not have saving faith. And if a person disbelieves that Jesus is really God, that person does not have saving faith.
So the real questions here are 1) what is the truth? and 2) do you believe it? Your correspondent's quibbles about the passages you very correctly quoted are entirely beside the point for the main issue, namely, how is a person saved? Jesus is the God-man. It is possible not to understand everything about that and be saved; it is not possible to hard-heartedly deny Jesus' humanity or deity or wondrous combination of the two natures in One unique Person and still be saved. Because regardless of what sort of "spin" a person might want to put on any number of passages that teach these truths, they are the truth. So when the gospel is heard, it is the Spirit who is making that truth real to the heart of the hearer and if the hearer rejects that truth, that person is rejecting not you or me . . . that person is rejecting God and His truth, and that person is not saved through so doing.
The Greek word kyrios is in fact the standard way to represent the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHVH. And while the word can have the mundane meaning (i.e., "lord" as well as "LORD"), the context of Romans 10:9-10 certainly shows that you are correct in your understanding and representation of this passage. After all, it is by confessing Jesus as "Lord" that we are saved. So clearly we are recognizing Him "as" something/someone special in recognizing Him as kyrios and this can only mean recognizing Him as "Lord" in the sense of being God.
The other passage you quote is also quite good because it unmistakably shows that Jesus was the One who created the universe at the Father's command and to do so He would have had to have existed before the universe, something only possible for God. Here are some other links which, among other things, collect the other pertinent passages which demonstrate these truths most perspicuously:
Jesus is God.
Jesus is God and man.
The Person of Christ.
In Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God.
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I did some study and I told him that Paul even quotes Joel 2:32 from the Old Testament in Romans 10:9-13, and that the word LORD used in Joel 2:32 is translated to Jehovah God in the Hebrew. I then told him that the word Lord used in Romans 10:13 (quoting from Joel 2:32) is referring to Jesus, and therefore Jesus would have to be the same Lord in Joel which is Jehovah God. Is this correct?
He responded with weird answers such as God made Jesus both Lord and Christ and how non-Trinitarians use this verse to prove Jesus was not Lord (or lord) until God made him Lord. He also said that Lord is a title word, King, Czar, Pharaoh etc and that even the word "God" is often a title in the Bible especially in the Greek and Hebrew. Am I correct in my interpretation of Romans?
That is an excellent point! Yes it is precisely the case that Romans 10:13 is quoting Joel 2:32 and that the word for Lord in that verse is YHVH, and that Paul is clearly using the world "Lord" here (kyrios) and throughout the context without any distinction. So you are correct. Good for you!
As to your correspondent's answers, they are the standard sort of anti-Trinitarian hogwash I hear all the time. I find it a bit odd that he/she says "non-Trinitarians use this verse to prove Jesus was not Lord" it would certainly be my suspicion that he/she is one such "non-Trinitarian" bent on undermining your faith. My compliments to you that not only are you not shaken but have sent this person packing with no valid argument to make in defense which is why he/she had to resort to canned arguments that don't apply to your point.
Please keep in mind that such individuals never admit defeat. They are not looking for the truth. Rather, knowing in their heart of hearts that they have believed the lie, they are looking to convert others to it. In a perverse sort of way, they feel (even if they do not understand the mechanics consciously) that by convincing others they have thereby validated their own departure from the truth as if the doctrine's of God were based upon a popularity contest! This was exactly how the devil reasoned, thinking that if he could get enough other angels to follow him, God would be unable to condemn him. That hasn't worked out for Satan either, and it won't work out for any and all who have committed themselves to oppose the truth because for whatever reason they find it uncomfortable and are unwilling to accept it.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
1st Timothy 6:11 NIV
Keep fighting the good fight of faith for Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dear Dr. Luginbill,
Greetings from the Philippines.
I take this opportunity to thank you for your ministry in Ichthys. I have learned so much in reading the materials here, since I started more than a year ago.
It was during one of my solo bible study sessions on the Peter Series that I had my born-again experience by believing in our Lord Jesus and His saving work. I have basically done my first reading of the Peter Series, Satanic Rebellion, Coming Tribulation and Bible Basics.
One of the immediate effects to me of my bible study was to stop going to Mass (I am a Roman Catholic) , and I am presently in need of a church I can worship, fellowship and communion with. I hope you can recommend one for me.
Also, I would like to ask for your prayers as I am presently distressed in the personal, financial and professional areas of my life. What I consider to be some spiritual gains are being choked by weeds of worry, frustration and uncertainty about God's plan for me.
I make it a point to study the Bible along with materials from Ichthys on a daily basis and actually consider you as my Bible teacher.
Again, thank you so much for your ministry. It is truly a blessing for me. I pray that you continue to be blessed and a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Please pray for me.
Your brother in Jesus Christ,
Very good to make your acquaintance! Apologies for the delay in response. I was out of town visiting family.
I am delighted to hear that you are now my brother in Jesus Christ! This means we will be equal heirs together in the New Jerusalem for all eternity along with all of our other brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ there is so much blessing to anticipate, the resurrection, the reward, the new heavens and new earth and an eternity with our Lord!
As to churches, it is very difficult to recommend any sort of denomination they all have their serious troubles, and doctrine is sometimes the least of them. There are individual pastors I know of around the US who do a good job. I have one pastor contact in the Philippines (I think he's on Mindanoa). I know the P.I. is a very big place, but I could put you in touch, if interested. He's a good guy but I can't really vouch for anyone else's teaching there. If it is any consolation, even here in the USA the number one complaint I receive from readers is the lack of any sort of organized fellowship where the people and the pastor are serious about the Bible and teaching it the right way. Personally, I feel very blessed to know a handful of Christians individually who do put Jesus Christ first and who are truly interested in learning the scriptures and what they really say and most of these I know over the internet from communications like this one with you. The moral of the story is that finding a pearl of great price is a rare occurrence which should not be underestimated or taken lightly. If you do find a fellowship of like-minded Christians, hold them close even it is only one or two other believers.
I will certainly be praying for you, Steve, and I welcome any questions you may have. Please do feel free to write me any time.
Your new brother in Jesus Christ, the one and only Savior of the world.
Thank you very much for your reply and prayers, which I both value very much (coming as it does from an esteemed brother in Christ devoted to the Word of God such as yourself)!
Your email also gave me a sigh of relief knowing that you're okay, as I started to wonder/worry about you when the "Your Emails" portion of Ichthys didn't have updated posts after 12 May 2012 (the latest [weekly] post was on 5 May 2012).
I stay in Metro Manila (Island of Luzon) but I'm interested to correspond with your pastor contact in Mindanao. Again, thanks for your kind insights and willingness to help on this matter.
Most of the questions I have had in my mind have been answered in the course of continued study of the materials in Ichthys, cross-referenced through reading of the Biblical passages cited therein (and faithfully relying on the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit). I will reserve the really difficult questions that I cannot seem to understand (despite diligent study) so as not to take so much of your valuable time.
I believe that the Lord led me to you and your Ichthys ministry more than one year ago when I was very thirsty for the water of the Gospel (ironically, I think I was doing some internet search on occult and ritual magic out of an increasing curiosity therefor at the time). And I believe that the Lord used your Ichthys ministry to deliver me from dabbling in the occult, working things out for good.
You are in my prayers and may you continue to be blessed and a blessing to our brothers and sisters, even as we wait for the promised inheritance of eternity with our Lord. Please continue praying for me.
Your brother in our Lord Jesus Christ,
You are very welcome, and thank you so much for your prayers and your concern as well!
I am copying my P.I. contact on this email. He may have some additional leads for you to consider.
Your testimony is very encouraging. I certainly commend your approach and wish to encourage you in turn to keep at it: learning and believing the truth of God's Word is the foundation of any good Christian life, and of all subsequent reward. This life is short, and we will be evaluated on the use we have made of the opportunities we actually have. So please do not be discouraged by your situation. None of use came to the Lord as perfect people; none of us can claim not to have squandered past opportunities and resources; all of us find ourselves in exactly the same place, namely, in the midst of the devil's world, and it is what we make of our opportunities from here on in going forward for Jesus Christ that matters.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
Please do feel free to write me back at any time.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I've had several questions come to my mind and couldn't find solid answers even through searching. And I know this is why God has placed you here, to help me understand the bible better. My first question is regarding separation between us and unbelievers. The bible says in Titus 3:10-11 for us to reject heretics after the first and second admonition; knowing that such a person is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. The bible also says that we are to help others understand the Gospel with a spirit of meekness and long-suffering. It also commands us even not to eat with a brother that is a fornicator, idolater, etc. (1 Cor.5:11).
I feel that I have to mention this before I forget. I have dialogued with several bible teachers who tell others that they're there to help answer questions and the majority of them will lose their cool or cease dialoguing with me after a while because they get frustrated and mad. You are by far the ONLY bible believing teacher that I have come across that teaches with a spirit of meekness, understanding, and long-suffering. I rarely see that these days and I can honestly say that I'm one person who needs help in that area. When do you come to the point where you feel that continuing dialoguing with an individual would not be productive and that their heart is hardened, or that they are a heretic? To me, applying 1 Cor.5:11 and Titus 3:10,11 in this day and age would seem harsh in the world's eyes, or even to some Christians. I once had someone (a professing Christian) stay with me when he was homeless in the past. He would get drunk, do drugs, sleep with his girlfriend, etc., and wouldn't change his way of living. I warned him many times but didn't want to kick him out of my place because I cared for him, and knew he couldn't make it on his own. The bible says not to fellowship with a brother who does such, but I did because I cared for his spiritual condition. Where do we draw the line, or do we do exactly just what the bible says? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding these passages. Can you help me with this?
My other question is regarding the scars and nail prints in Jesus' body after the resurrection. Paul says that our earthly bodies will be dissolved and replaced with an immortal body fit for praising and worshipping God to the degree we were meant to. Why did Jesus still have His scars and was it the same body He had on earth before He died, but immortal?
My last question is in regard to God preserving His Word as He said in Psalms, I believe. Jesus said that not one iota or tittle will pass until all be fulfilled. A pastor once said that this is true (God's Word is infallible) only in the original text. I did some study and found out that we don't have the original manuscripts, only copies of copies, etc. If bible translations differ (the words, iota's and curves of letters), how is God's Word preserved to the degree the Psalmist and Jesus said? Thank you so much in advance for your help in answering my questions!
Always good to hear from you. Thank you as always for your exceptionally kind comments. It strikes me that in the area of long-suffering this cuts both ways. It is my responsibility to answer questions with the truth as the Lord leads me through His Word and His Spirit to test it and see that it is true. The truth hurts everyone, sooner or later. That is true of Bible teachers as well (if they are honest with themselves). None of us is perfect and none of us has yet come to a perfect understanding of absolutely everything in scripture. Therefore even if a person is fairly advanced in spiritual growth and biblical knowledge, there will still be times from time to time when a error will have to be acknowledged and corrected, whether of doctrine or personal behavior. The more willing we all are to accept such things from the Lord quickly and without the resistance, the happier and more blessed we will be but not without the pain that comes from having to admit being wrong and change. So whenever I get people who write in regularly, I am always wondering when I give a response whether or not that will be the last time I hear from them. For if a Christian is truly interested in growing spiritually and truly seeking and knocking in regard to attempting to find out the whole truth of every area of the Bible (as indeed we all should be), sooner or later that good attitude is going to result in said person needing to be corrected in doctrine or behavior, and some take this better than others. Of course it may be that the teacher is wrong, not the student. But if the teacher is good and experienced, it will more often than not be the other way around. This is a long way of saying that although I have corresponded with you for quite some time now, and have given you very frank answers on a wide variety of subjects, whatever disagreements you may have had with my answers, you have continued to make use of this ministry. I think that says a lot about your willingness to allow the Lord to mold you into precisely the Christian He wants you to be. To answer the last part of your question here, I try to maintain fellowship as long as possible. When a person begins making it very clear that they have no respect for anything I write and are no longer going to be truly open to listening to anything I have to say (name-calling and outright insults are a sure sign of this), then I stop responding.
As to separation, you are right to balance the separation passages you mention (1Cor.5:11 and Titus 3:10-11) with other scriptures. I don't think this a function of modern life but rather of a genuine understanding that in matters of personal application where the parameters are not absolute one's own spiritual common sense and individual judgment must always be brought to bear. For example, Jesus tells us something important about His love for all of us in the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, and we are everywhere commanded to love our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ and love certainly means seeking their true best interest and promoting it as best we can. This always comes down to helping our fellow Christians solidify their faith, grow spiritually, and get to the point of helping others to do the same.
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James 5:19-20 NIV
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 1:22-23 NIV
These passages do not contradict the two you mention. Rather it is a question of when a fellow believer passes a point of no return in our estimation, at least as far as our ability to safely intervene with him or her. In 1st Corinthians 5:11, Paul lists a number of horrendous states rather than individual sins. If a person is a fornicator, that is different from committing an act of fornication (the same for all of the other states he lists here, and more could easily be added). He says "if anyone has the reputation of being", because of course it is impossible for us to look into the heart of a fellow believer and see if he/she has merely slipped in committing an act of obvious greed, for example, or has given him/herself over to that lust. In the latter case, apostasy is knocking at the door (for such will not "inherit the kingdom of heaven" if they follow through on the hardening process so as to put their faith to death: 1Cor.6:9; Gal.5:21). We cannot tell where the person is spiritually with precision nor where they are going but we can tell if they have justly earned "the reputation of being X or Y or Z". If they have, we should separate, that is, if in our estimation from what we can tell they have fallen into any of these behaviors in a persistent and chronic and decisive way. Naturally, every such circumstance will be different and we must judge as best we can. Some of us will tend toward harshness in judgment and some toward leniency (we all have our tendencies), but there will be clear cases where a mistake on a brother or sister's part does not require separation (and indeed where it would overly cruel for us to separate) and others where no matter how lenient and loving we tend to be we need to separate for our own safety. Similarly, Titus 3:10-11 which deals with doctrinal abuse and complements nicely 1st Corinthians 5:11 which deals with behavioral abuse is likewise circumstantial dependent for its interpretation on the previous verse:
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
Titus 3:9 NIV
The "divisive man" here is "heretical" in the sense of being "factional". It is not his untrue ideas which are the main problem but the fact that he is trying to force them down everyone else's throat. He is obsessed with things which are "unprofitable and useless" and he seeks to divide others harping upon things which ought not even to be considered. Moreover, this advice is given to Titus in his capacity of pastor and "super-pastor" (of which there are none today) in his apostolic mission of planting churches and established local leadership for them throughout Crete. The verse certainly applies to individual believers too: we should allow others their wrong opinions without separating from them, continuing to fellowship in hopes of their waking up and coming to the truth in all things. However, if they are completely immersed in morbid and destructive false doctrines to the point that these are the only "biblical" things they are interested in (e.g., British Israelism and Messianic Legalism to name but two of many topics which would clearly fall into this category) and have as their objective in fellowshiping with us only to change our minds while themselves have long since stopped up their ears, then we should separate. For there is a big difference, for example, in erroneously believing that water-baptism has something to do with salvation on the one hand, and in making it the prime concern of one's "Christianity" and evangelizing others to come over to this horribly wrong point of view on the other. In such a case we "may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful" and the "he is self-condemned". Please see also these links:
Understanding 1st Corinthians 5:1-13.
Dysfunctional Churches (see especially question/answer #3).
Shunning (in CT 2A).
On the scars, here is what I have written about this before (under the link: "Cremation or Burial?"):
As far as the nail marks on Jesus' hands and feet are concerned, it is difficult for me to draw any conclusions inasmuch as He is as yet the only resurrected human being. It is possible that we too will bear marks of this life, but I would sooner suppose that (our Lord's experience being unique, and these marks being a memorial to His unique sacrifice for us, dying for us on the cross) these marks are also unique. There is certainly nothing in scripture to suggest that we will experience anything similar. More important will be the divine marks that all believers will bear forever (Rev.3:12).
I would add that the fact that Jesus' face was all but destroyed in His pre-trial ordeal (cf. Is.52:14) yet apparently no wound or scar is visible thereon in His resurrection body, and that also argues for the above being correct.
Finally, as to the integrity of the Word of God, perhaps you had this verse in mind:
Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.
Psalm 119:89 NIV
So God's Word is part of His eternal decree and was known before a single word of it was given to His prophets (as the angel tells Daniel, "but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth": Daniel 10:21 NIV). The Bible will abide for all eternity as well. It is very true that God's Word is absolute but that what we have are written copies which do contain some very small imperfections. This issue, i.e., of epistemology, is one upon which the devil has his unbelieving and atheistic adherents harp quite a bit. Indeed, much effort has been expended in philosophy trying to answer the question of how finite and imperfect people can really "know" God's truth, and how it has come to be written down is an adjunct area that is often used by Satan as a wedge to separate us from our Lord. The answer to all these sorts of questions is to be found in the power of God. It is the Holy Spirit who makes all truth real to us, so that the fact that we are finite and imperfect makes no difference in our accessing of God's truth: when the truth is heard or read, it is the Spirit who makes it real to our spirit (Rom.8:16; 1Cor.2; 1Jn.2:27; see the link: "Christian Epistemology"). In a similar way, the complete Word of God exists eternally, and just as the Spirit makes use of our words to convey the gospel to an unbeliever even though our words are not perfect, He uses only what is true and makes the underlying truth of our words clear to the unbeliever's spirit so also the Spirit has seen to it that we do have the Bible in spite of all of the evil one's efforts to destroy it. Most Christians of course do not read Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, so they make use of translations. While it is true that translations are by their nature imperfect (that is true of all translations of all literature in all languages), nevertheless it is clear that the Spirit has made use of the truth that flows from the words we read in, for example, our English Bibles to encourage and edify us. Now it is technically true that the Word is the exactly precise text of the Old and New Testaments, and that there are some problems with copies of these texts as we have them, but let me assure you that today we have the entire Bible over 99 % precisely as it was originally given, and with the benefit of some expertise in textual criticism in my view it is possible to "solve" all of the problems that need solving. The Spirit only uses the truth if we are listening to the Spirit.
This issue does, however, bring up another important point. God could easily have caused there to be absolutely no problems with the text; He could have caused the Bible to be perfectly translated or given anew in every language indeed, He could have made sure that the division of languages at the tower of Babel never took place. But the situation as it is in part came from Him and is certainly known to Him and was in eternity past to a perfect degree. What this says to me is that believers who are serious about following Jesus which is only possible past a basic level through dedicated and diligent attention to the Word and all it teaches should appreciate all the more the necessity (for anyone who would be a teacher) of learning Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic and all of the other ancillary disciplines necessary to correctly interpret and teach the Word. That is to say, instead of causing doubts to one's faith, these issues should impress upon every believer the necessity of Bible teachers being completely prepared and of finding someone who is for the sake of their spiritual growth. Not that this relieves believers without that gift of the responsibility of digging into everything biblical to the extent that they are personally able to do so. The better prepared the students, the more motivated the teacher to stay a step ahead at least. In His infinite wisdom, God has made complete spiritual growth and perfect maturity and a complete knowledge of the truth of scripture a set of standards that are actually achievable even if no one completely achieves them perfectly. His grace is sufficient to make up for all of our failings and all of the apparent "interference" with the truth which the devil and his cosmos may bring to bear. That leaves the ball in our court entirely:
(15) When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." (16) Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." (17) The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep".
John 21:15-17 NIV
In the same way you also, since you are [so] desirous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may abound [in them] for the purpose of the edification of the Church.
1st Corinthians 14:12
Let all these things (i.e., the functioning of the various spiritual gifts) be done for the purpose of edification.
1st Corinthians 14:26b
You remain in my prayers for your deliverance day by day.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for your time and answers Dr. Luginbill. I'm thankful for your website, it has been of great help over the years.
You're most welcome, friend! Please feel free to write back any time.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
The way Lord has provided everything, the way He has shut the mouth of all who are too eager to insult me (they do insult me, but only behind my back); He has made it very easy for me to endure this test. I did get frustrated at times, but knew it's a mistake. Everybody has given up on me, but I am sure they all will come to know one day that the Lord has delivered me. This could all end up in another giant test ("the test"), of which I am very scared of. But if its His will for me to face it, I will not complain.
Thank you for the prayer, I need them a lot
Your "courage under fire" is an inspiration to me. I know (at least intellectually) that being a true Christian in India is quite different from being one in a country where (as of yet) the persecution is more subtle and seldom life-threatening. Soon enough, that will change worldwide. I often console myself over the continual testing with the thought that at least we are being prepared for what is coming. It is all very well to have it easy now, but if the price is a faith unprepared for and unable to cope with the stress and strain of those days so soon to come, then the price is too high. It seems that in all this your testimony agrees with what Paul told the Corinthian congregation:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
2nd Corinthians 2:3-5 NIV
The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, makes it possible to have peace in the midst of turmoil, no matter what our eyes see, our ears hear, or our bodies and emotions feel. This is the "peace of God which transcends all understanding" (Phil.4:7 NIV). I have also found to no surprise that what Paul says about pressure and hardship is also completely true: in weakness God's strength comes to the fore (2Cor.12:9). Not that I am anywhere near where I would wish to be in walking closely with Jesus day by day and step by step, but there is no doubt that pressure and trouble mixed with faith draws one closer to Him. We would all choose to avoid such things if we could, but we know that it is a blessing to have our faith refined in this way, even if it is one we would rather choose not to have.
You are most certainly in my prayers, and will be to the end.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,