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Question #1: 

Thank-you for receiving Questions.

Is there a book that you know of that discusses the pragmatic living out of the Gospel during the earliest years of the christian church? For example: Conscientious objection to military service; Rescuing of aborted babies. etc

I would like to trace the lines of faith and practice from the beginning through the decline to which the crusades attest. I'd like to know what we have gained in 2,000 years and what we have lost. Is there a history of this subject you could suggest?

Thank-you for all your work in teaching the Bible and your patience with the smallest of questions.


Slang is as old as English itself. It offended Pilgrim parents when their children took their traditional farewell, " God be with you, " and turned it into, "good-bye."

Response #1:  

Good to hear from you (it's been a while).

On your question, the canon of scripture closed ca. 68 A.D when John was given to pen Revelation. Following this, we have only a very few things that are contemporaneous until the church visible was established hundreds of years later. We have the letters of Polycarp. We have the writings of the apostolic fathers. We have early Greek fathers such as Origin and Irenaeus. And in the fourth century we have the church historian Eusebius. Eusebius had other sources available which are no longer extent today (and these were clearly wrong about a great many things). There are other early writers, some of them fragmentary, but few of any of the above (outside of Eusebius) tackle the issue of church history and/or the lives and beliefs of early Christians. Not that there isn't a great deal of such material, but it is all much later and highly imaginative.

As to books to help navigate these fragmentary sources, here we are into the realm of "church history". "Church histories" are always speculative themselves in trying to piece together the lacunose data, and they also often suffer from hyper-skepticism which often also intrudes into the area of doctrine (finding a church history which doesn't teach that the Trinity was a "late development", for example, is hard to do). So whatever you find in a church history, take with a grain of salt (or maybe a whole cellar). The Bible we know is true; the later writings of antiquity are writings of human beings which happened to survive, not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

One other important thing to note is that even details from such sources which we may find interesting and may be persuaded to believe (rightly are wrongly) do not reflect the true picture: We, you and I and all genuine believers in Jesus Christ, are the actual Church. If a person with access to all modern technology were to write a "church history" of contemporary times today, we, you and I, would not be in it, nor would such a "history" reflect what we believe and how we are trying to serve Jesus Christ. Who would be in it? "Christians" who make the news – many of whom are not actually believers and most of whom are not doing what Christ really wants. That is certainly the case also with church histories that focus on the past.

Throughout the Church Age, there has been a remnant of genuine believers and of those who are doing what Christ actually requires, namely, growing spiritually, progressing in their walk with Him, and serving His Church in support of the truth – in every generation. But you doubtless won't find these good folk in any church history, whether contemporary or the work of later scholars.

That said, three standard words for studying this issue (all of which suffer to a greater or lesser degree from the problems above) are Williston Walker's A History of the Christian Church, Kenneth Scott Latourette's A History of the Christian Church, and Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church in eight very long and heavily footnoted scholarly volumes. The first on the list is the shortest (one volume), Latourette is two large volumes.

Best wishes for your studies!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

To Mr Bob,

I am thankful that you have such a heart for learning and teaching. Many, I suppose, like me have no one but you to teach them. I have gained much from your web site.

Thank-you for sharing your copy of Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church. It looks to be a good reference indeed. Your opinion on this material means much to me along with your kindness in responding.

Thank-you! Thank-you!

Response #2: 

You're so very welcome!

Schaff is a treasure (I'm blessed to have a hard copy), but as I say one has to take into account that he is also a "scholar", which unfortunately means for far too many such that he has an unhealthy skepticism about evidence from the Bible.

Best wishes in all your studies, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello Bob,

I don't understand why C.S. Lewis is so revered among Christian apologists. I actually get really upset when I hear a Christian Pastor of bible teachers who adheres to sound biblical doctrine cite C.S. Lewis as "scholarly", and even quote him at times. From what I've read about him, some of his teachings were heretical. I read that he believed in "purgatory", believed that there were "good" pagans. He also joined a Catholic church before he died and believed in Universalism. Even more disturbing is that he believed that even if one willingly serves Satan their entire life, and God would have accepted it as service to Him. Him and his friend Tolkien even had a degree of occultism in their books. Is there a reason why so many bible teachers who teach sound doctrine tend to bring up C.S Lewis as a revered Christian "scholar"?

God Bless,

Response #3:  

I've never understood this one either. It probably has to do with the fact that human beings have a tendency to celebrate celebrities (Ps.49:18). But we who love Jesus Christ more than life itself understand that HE is the only true celebrity – and we will be singing His praises for all eternity for what He has done for us in dying to give us life eternal.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hello Professor,

I understand all your points on John 20:31. Neither the meaning ascribed to present subjunctive nor the theological conclusion based on it seemed right, but I could not rely on my own judgment with the textual and linguistic question, so, as always, thank you for your very helpful input. Perhaps at some point I can communicate that to our friend; I didn't want to do that without first ascertaining what the right reading and interpretation is.

My understanding, also based on our discussion about the previous chapter, has been:

~ All human beings are born with a sin nature.
~ All human beings begin to sin at an early age, before they are able to accept Christ.
~ At some point in their life become accountable for not putting their faith in Christ and that's when they are condemned if they die as unbelievers.

I have thought, however, that there is a period between 1 and 2 when a human being is alive, but too young to sin. This is what I meant by a free will decision in the text - an infant immediately after birth does have the sin nature, but at least for several months, perhaps, his entire life is determined by what we would consider as physiological urges.

That is different to a child at the age of, say, three, who may already be selfish or showing disobedience to parents. Such selfishness and disobedience are decisions which involve our free will (although this may not be the best way to describe that) and have a spiritual value. So, as you clarified, although such a child may be too immature to accept Christ, it is actually sinning (should I say "it" or "they"?).

I have assumed, however, that since an infant at a few months of age doesn't make such decisions, if they should die at that very early age, they die sinless since they didn't reach the level of maturity required to make such decisions as the above. They do die with their sin nature, but without a personal sin. I have applied this to those mentally impaired - now God knows what the degree of impairment is, but if it is severe enough for one not to be able to make free will decisions of spiritual value, then I though I could apply the same principle. But since you disagreed with this statement, could you clarify this?

Response #4: 

I agree with your three points. The problem I have is that the most important factor in all of this is the truth of universal sinfulness. Augustine theology squared this circle by postulating an imputation of Adam's sin to everyone at birth. Problem is that it's not biblical (see the link). But fact of everyone being born with a sin nature is all we need to know really. Because that guarantees 1) we are not fit to be with the Lord because our bodies are defiled with sin; 2) we are going to die and have no way to avoid it; 3) in the interim we are going to sin and so have no claim on anything other than the lake of fire. So even in some theoretical hypothetical situation there is no where else for us to be put after death since we are not saved – all of this absent the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and our acceptance of it through faith.

While I understand where you are coming from, in the first place I don't actually think that babies are innocent, not from the very first moments of their ability to exercise the most basic emotional reactions. OK, it's emotion; but that is the problem with the rest of us too, after all. Sin is sin, regardless of whether or not it is sin in cognizance. After all, most of the sacrifices in the Law have to do with sinning in ignorance. So on the one hand, personally (though there is no way to prove it), I believe that newborns are sinners not only physically but willfully almost from the moment of birth (they're born crying, after all); and on the other hand even if one wished to believe that they are not "truly sinners" until some point down the road where they have developed to the point of being able to express the natural human arrogance in a more recognizable way, it is – for the reasons outlined above – not a good idea in my view to support the idea that such a state of "innocence" ever existed (we don't find it in the Bible; just the opposite: Rom.3:23, e.g.).

On the one hand it makes absolutely no difference either to infant salvation – the point in the case of babies who die is that they had no real chance to accept the Gift until later and so are saved for that reason, not that they hypothetically didn't or couldn't sin – or to their eventual salvation or lack thereof: like everyone else, they will beyond question sin because of having a sin nature and thus needed to have Christ die for those sins and put their faith in Him in order to be saved.

On a practical note, ever since Pelagius (and no doubt earlier) there have been individuals who have proclaimed their own sinlessness, either after salvation or even before. That is impossible. But positing a window during which a child is sinless (as I said, I don't believe it and see it as contradicted by scripture) definitely gives ammunition to these types: "If a child can be sinless for a few years, why cannot that continue in some cases? And why can't a person get back to that state?" This is a deadly heresy, not so much nowadays through some saying they never sinned in the first place but on the part of a growing number of individuals and groups who proclaim that now they do not sin and that "you too" should not sin and in fact "if you do", then you are not actually saved.

Here is what I read in 1st John, a passage which while it doesn't answer all the theological ins and outs certainly gives the conclusion I have been striving to pound home since the beginning here:

If we say that we do not possess sin (i.e., a sin nature which is producing personal sins), we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just so as to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, that we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us.
1st John 1:8-10

I'm not sure how much more clear John could have made this – without writing a systematic theology (and that would no doubt have proved more confusing than this very straightforward passage).

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:5 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill:

I haven't bothered you for a while, so I hope this isn't too much of a bother for you busy life...

The new pastor here is I think sort of a liberal theologian, so when I heard of him referencing this gentleman named Baxter Kruger I became curious about who he was so I sent the letter below to a few of my friends and copied it to the new pastor. He sorta took offense that I had insinuated that Dr. Baxter was a universalist. Baxter states as you can see that he is not.

Still now at this date I'm curious what you think of Dr. Baxter's theology and particularly this phrase from his writing below "That Jesus Christ loves us all and has included us everyone in his life with his Father and the Holy Spirit, I consider to be an absolute, eternal fact."

This doesn't sound like the teaching that occupies my head, since I believe that we become a child of God when we are saved?

Thanks for listening as ever

Response #5:  

Always good to hear from you, my friend. I don't know anything much about this person except that your characterization of him as liberal seems correct. He has some weird views on the Trinity. Mostly from what I saw his stuff is amorphous (like the quote you include) and hard to pin down. Bottom line: if what you say / write is so vague that people can assume you are a universalist, then maybe you are better off sticking to designing fishing lures (wherein I gather he's had some success).

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Dear professor,

I don't know how to express it. But, to survive, we have to be somewhat what-some-extreme-preachers-would-call worldly. There is the fact that the people of the Bible were never seemed to have expected to be deprived for long (if at all) of worldly things. At first He gave the first two everything. Then there was deprivations for sin and testing, but not permanently. Job got his stuff back. Etc. And in the future in we are given even more of it (what some would consider worldly things)-the Feast, crowns, etc. Not that it is actually worldly, just that a feast and crown by itself fits under the criteria most of these types use.

Maybe we don't disagree, I just come from denial and deprivation so I look at it weirdly. And I couldn't care less what the world thinks.

What do you think of mission trips? I personally don't approve of most modern ones, for a number of reasons like that many people who go on them have no skills or training, don't know anything about the people they are going to, only go for a very short period of time (as in come in, fix a house/give a service) and then that is it. Wouldn't it make more sense to take the money spent on traveling and just give that to them (if already saved). If not saved, does a short service where nothing is followed up on do any good?

I am a bit miffed: in college I gave a pittance to help this one girl go to (I think it was)
10 countries in a year. And I regret it. Plus, that sounds more like a vacation spree now that I have some distance from it.

Response #6: 

I'm certainly not into "willful deprivation"! At least not for no specific good reason. So if I had to give up ordering a pizza, e.g., to keep the ministry online for another month, I think I'd be happy to do so. Blessedly, I'm not in that situation. I'm not crazy about enduring anything uncomfortable or annoying, but I occasionally put up with both in doing things that are good for me both physically and spiritually, and for this ministry. There's no point, in my view, in being a martyr when it's not called for. That is silliness and not of God. If we've had times in our life when things have been extremely hard for any number of reasons, then all the more reason to rejoice if they're better now. We don't accept the grace God has given us in vain, however. We try to make use of the "clear sailing" to spend more time growing in the Word, praying for those in need, and engaging in the ministry to which we have been called. But God does not begrudge us enjoying in godly ways the bounty He's given us.

I've also never been convinced that such short "mission trips" are anything more that Christian sightseeing. OK, perhaps the folks on them help build a house or similar. Seems to me there are better ways to get that done if that is something God puts on your heart to get done. What people need the world over is the truth. Having a place to live, food and clothing, are necessary in order to live a life for the Lord – which is all about hearing, believing and living the truth. "Doing" very easily becomes divorced from the truth on every level.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

I appreciate what you wrote. I am partial to Green Tea myself.

Part of the deprivation was parental inflicted and part was self-inflicted (and part of that was because of teachers and preachers and others saying things). I have found a food rule of thumb is to see if the preacher follows their own words (no, when it comes to the self-denial, dressing to in certain ways, etc.). What has anyone I have ever met done? Certainly not thought about God 24/7 throughout childhood with hardly any distraction. So I am walking their walk just a bit. Not on the doing sins, of course. But I feel healthier.

Response #7:  

Every day is an opportunity. Every decision is a choice. Every choice has something (at least) to do with how we are fighting the fight. More (of what's good) is good, and less (of what's good) is the opposite . . . but no one is running a perfect race. We can't let that fact of our imperfection, however, dissuade us from doing the best job possible for Jesus Christ. We claim to love Him. Our thoughts, words and actions tell the true story.

One thing I can tell you is that we need to be operating on positive motivation most of all, shooting for good rewards and a desire to please our Master. If we are operating out of fear and worry, that will end in no good.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Dear Robert,

I trust it will be OK to continue to ask questions?

A friend of mine is adamant with the following statement; "every individual was born again at the moment of Jesus' resurrection! Therefore, you are complete in Him and is already saved by that act."

I totally disagree, but would like to know whether there is a theological term for this notion?

Furthermore, it will mean that you are pre-existent spiritually before birth, which I totally disagree with!!! The soul/spirit is only perceived to be existent at conception, would be my understanding.

May our Shepherd continually lead you in peace,

Response #8: 

Good to hear from you – feel free to write any time.

Eternal life is something all believers have now, but it is also something that we won't experience until we see the Lord face to face (Col.3:3-4).

If your friend is saying that eternal life was made possible by the cross (validated by the resurrection, ascension and session), that is certainly true. Everything depends on the cross.

But, clearly, you and I did not exist when Christ rose from the dead. Our coming existence was decreed in the plan of God, but it had not yet come to pass. So there isn't any sense in which believers not yet alive (let alone having yet believed) could be said to be "born again". The whole point in the concept of being "born again / born from above" (it's one and the same in the Greek), is of a NEW birth. Clearly, one cannot have a new birth before the original birth has taken place. Also, the new birth is a result of accepting in faith the person and work of Christ. In other words, it's not automatic. It is contingent upon on a free will act. A non-meritorious act whereby we merely accept the Gift proffered at a cost beyond our imagination – but an act of free will choice nonetheless.

It's very common for weak and immature believers who are filled with pride to engage in what I call "hobbyhorse theology". That is to say, they pick out one issue where they think they have some special insight, and then try to browbeat every Christian they know into accepting their point of view – as if they have something important to contribute. What sufferers of this syndrome all have in common is that they are inevitably mistaken about the importance and also the wrong on the details of whatever it is. This case is no exception.

I'm not sure what to tell you on how to deal this individual. Christians who respect no authority but their own – and who have little actual respect for the Bible as well – are not easily persuaded to give up false positions. It usually takes the Lord's acting to get their attention. But He certainly knows how to do so.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I hope you are doing well! I apologize for not writing back sooner. I looked through my email box and realized we haven’t corresponded for a few months.

How have you been? How is your family and situation at the university?

I am doing very well. God is continuing to heal me and help me to bear up under all of the physical training, studying and work stress. [personal details omitted]

I was in an accident last summer involving another Christian and we both walked away unharmed and in the fall another Christian friend of mine and her friends were saved from an accident coming home from an amusement park at night. God is definitely delivering His sheep and I am adding “protection while traveling” to my prayers for a lot of people.

Amazingly, my dad started to study God’s Word again. He bought a Bible (with commentary) that breaks up the books/chapters by day of the year, so he can read through the whole Bible in one year. Both my mom and dad are believers but they have been very distracted by work, finances, politics and daily life. My dad even considered going to school to become a pastor when he was in high school, but went into education instead. My mom started to read your studies on Ichthys a few years ago and I have definitely seen her faith grow and the fruit of the Spirit manifest in her life. We have been praying for my dad and now, all of a sudden, we are seeing the change. Last night I was trying to go to bed early, but ended up staying awake for an extra hour because my dad had so many questions about the rebuilding of the temple during the Tribulation and the coming of God’s two witnesses. My mom and I guided him to your studies about the 144,000 and led by Moses and Elijah. He had just finished reading through the Torah and is about to start the Book of Joshua. It is amazing how much change happens when we just start to spend time reading and believing God’s Word as Christians.

I also have an update about our friend, but it is not good. She has been talking with me and another Christian friend for more than a year and we have both been encouraging her to study God’s Word, but she has been struggling because of her health issues. Not only do they prevent her from being able to study (somewhat), she has told me that she is angry at God. We have had some conversations about the love of Jesus Christ, but I don’t think a lot of my words have made it through to her. I have also sent her numerous links to your articles and Curt’s site. I thought she had been making progress in her faith a few months ago because she told me she had started to read the psalms and started praying. We were calling and talking to each other more – sometimes for a few hours late into the night because her pain was so severe that she couldn’t sleep. But then, she got into a fight with this other Christian (who I think is probably very spiritually immature and was not acting like a good friend) and texted me a few weeks ago telling me that she was no longer a believer. She asked for me to stop praying for her and to take her off the prayer list, saying “There may be a God for some people, but not for me.” Then she just stopped texting and messaging me. Before all this, I had a suspicion that her attempts to pray and read were more to appease me and this other friend instead of a true desire to grow closer to God, but I wanted to be hopeful.

When we can’t talk (due to the time differences between the US and Europe) we leave each other long voice messages via instant messenger on Facebook. I left her one that week begging her not to lose her faith in Jesus and let her know that I was more worried about her than I had ever been. We have had conversations before where she told me she knows that she could die soon – she has already had at least one near-death experience during her emergency room and surgeries. I think she is under the impression that death is going to be peaceful. I brought this up in my message and told her the consequence of losing faith is most definitely hell. I was kind, not accusing, but my goal was definitely to scare her.

A week ago she finally left me a message explaining that her condition and pain took a turn for the worse and she was in the hospital for awhile – they almost had to do another surgery but eventually released her. She told me that she wanted to keep talking to me, but she didn’t want to talk about religion. I sent her another message and asked if she had listened to the first one, but she never answered. I also told her in my message that I will not stop being her friend just because she lost her faith, but that I cannot and will not edit my faith out of our conversations. I told her my whole life revolves around and is rooted in my relationship with Jesus Christ, and she is going to see evidence of that every time we talk. I also told her that I will continue to pray for her.

I know the devil is trying to choke her faith and I don’t know if she has truly apostatized but I am going to keep being a good friend to her. She was talking to a Mormon a few years ago who stopped talking to her when she could not convert her to Mormonism. I am looking back on all of our conversations and I think I should have spoke with her more about her faith. I should have asked her more questions about what she believes and how she was saved, but I did not want to push her too much or overwhelm her. I don’t know if God is using her illness to guide her to Him or if her pain is a direct attack from the evil one, but please keep her and her family in your prayers. I know the Holy Spirit guided me to meet her, even if it is just to pray for her.

All of this has really motivated me to intensify my studies in apologetics and to work on getting a series of studies started for newly saved Christians. I am hoping and praying for God to free up some of my day so I can devote more time to this. I have gotten into a really good and consistent habit of studying His Word every morning for at least an hour – sometimes two. This is something I have been struggling to do for a while.

The Holy Spirit has guided me to join Toastmasters so I can develop my public speaking skills. I can’t start going to meetings until after the exam, but I am looking forward to the experience. I am pretty sure He is getting me ready to start having face-to-face conversations with unbelievers. I want to eventually connect with Eric Chabot and his college/university campus ministry but I think the Holy Spirit is guiding me to study more apologetics first.

Also, I started to listen to apologetic podcasts while driving and these eventually led me to the book Always Ready by Greg Bahnsen. I really like his approach because it is grounded in the truth of the Word of God and attacks the atheist’s entire philosophic system and his futile thinking at the root. Bahnsen uses so many verses and passages from Scripture to support his method/framework on how to control the conversation/debate. The Bible actually has a lot to say about how to evangelize. The key is to get the atheist to a point where you show them that if they are consistent and live according to their basic beliefs their lives are meaningless and there is no way for them to know truth. Of course, none of them live like that. They constantly borrow ideas and precepts from the Christian worldview so they can function in the world with any kind of logic or meaning…because they live in the world ruled over by God. This leads to the apologist showing them that living a meaningful life is only possible by putting their faith in the Gospel and the Word of God as the ultimate authority for truth.

Of course, this is apologetics for atheists – the approach for other kinds of unbelievers will be different. It is so important to listen to an unbeliever to understand their unique worldview. Most people have such an eclectic mix of beliefs that it would be wrong to assume they are purely atheist or Mormon or pagan, etc.

I think apologetics is becoming more and more important for Bible teachers, not just evangelists. There are so many lukewarm Christians who don’t trust in God’s Word or only trust in parts of it. They are ripe for atheistic attacks on their faith.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Bahnsen’s book but want to get through it soon. When I finish I need to jump back into my ongoing Bible studies and take a short break from the apologetics. I read your email responses every morning before I start taking notes and am starting to get to all the questions I have been delaying to ask you.

There are a couple of different attitudes I keep bumping up against in unbelievers. One is that they like to point out that It is unfair that we were born with sin natures but are held responsible for the sins we commit. They find fault with God for this.

For example, I found this quote online from a hyper-Calvinist but it is typical of the kinds of questions I get from unbelievers, especially those who are rebelling against Catholicism or some other works-based religion.

“…. your pastor told you that the first Adam gave you a sin nature against your permission…but the Second Adam needs your permission to save you…which logically makes the first Adam more powerful.”

I think this person’s point is to argue against the teaching of the Bible that people have to use their free will to put their faith in Christ. Of course, the hyper-Calvinist thinks he is saved because he was predestined, so he claims it is impossible for some people to be saved.

Also, I don’t agree with the logic. Is a disease more powerful than the doctor who can cure it? The disease won’t ask the patient for permission to kill him, but the doctor will ask the patient for permission to treat him. The doctor is moral but disease/death is not. This is just another way of saying that sin/death is more powerful than Christ’s sacrifice, but the fact that God requires us to make a choice as to whether or not we want to be saved shows God’s character to be righteous. It shows how much our free will matters to His plan. Do you think I am answering this sufficiently?

Sin came to us through the first Adam. When Adam took the fruit from his wife and ate it, he knew he would die, but did he know he would condemn his children as well? Or was he not even thinking that far ahead when he took the fruit from his wife?

I have been taking notes on your Hamartiology Study. Is there any way to explain or answer an unbeliever about the “unfairness” of how they were born enslaved to a sin nature? Logically, it makes sense – two sinful people will combine their seed to create another sinful person. I think unbelievers think that when we tell them they are slaves to sin, we are telling them they don’t have free-will, but if you think about it, the devil did succeed in taking away some of our free-will. We no longer have the ability to chose NOT to sin. Even saved humans will continue to sin. We are able to fight it once we become saved, but we won’t be free of our sin natures until we are resurrected.

Do you think I could start by pointing out that even if they weren’t born with a sin nature, if they were born sinless like Adam and Eve, they would still have to choose to put their faith in God by not choosing to sin. Both sinful and sinless creatures are dependent on God for life. Period.

Please let me know if there is another angle or more points that you think I could add.

And please let me know if you or your family (or anyone on the Ichthys prayer list) need additional or more specific prayers.

In Christ’s Love,

Response #9:  

Always great to hear from you, my friend – and thanks much for the detailed update.

I'll be keeping you in prayer for this exam et al. I'm pleased to hear that you are doing well and making progress in pursuing your goals.

We're doing OK. It's been a rough month or so with flu/cold and after effects (still not quite over it all). Looking forward to good weather and some time late this spring and in the summer to spend more time getting back into shape as well as more time on the ministry. Of course that requires my contract being approved as is (prayers there appreciated too).

Sorry to hear about all the accidents. We can always hope that these things become prods to focus on what's really important. Great news about your dad!

I have been praying for our friend. I don't think you should second-guess your approach. Given the way she is responding now, it's reasonable to suppose that if you'd come on even stronger earlier it might well have had the opposite of the desired effect. This is all no doubt the Lord preparing you by giving you experiences from which you can learn and refine your ministry approach. For one thing, we can say that it is God who does the evangelizing, and also that it is the person we witness to who does the responding – to God, not to us . . . or not. That is the other person's court. If we get too emotionally involved with the outcome it can lead to second guessing and worse. We need to do what is right and let the chips fall where they may, always keeping in mind that no matter how grim things may look to us, the Lord knows the perfect way to get to every person, if there is a chance that they are serious about receiving the Gift.

In terms of battering away at people who've made a religion out of rejecting God, I'm not so sure that is profitable. Then again, I do know that there are Christians out there who have done good work in reaching JWs and Mormons and others trapped in one cult or another. So I don't second guess anyone else' ministry on that score. It's not my forte, so I don't have a lot to add except to say that it's almost always a mistake to accept the "ground" for debate that others lay down. There are all manner of theological problems with the way this person wants us to understand the need for salvation, and said person is proceeding at least in part from the Augustinian doctrine of "original sin" which is a flawed one. It would seem to me be a better approach to shift the debate over to the fact that this person is going to die . . . then what? He/she will personally have to stand judgment before God, a God that he/she has rejected and even blasphemously declared does not exist. And we know from scripture that all atheists at one point knew very well there was a God (as all people who reach accountability do). If they still know it, merely pretend not to, perhaps there is a glimmer of hope. If they have hardened their hearts to the point of really believing the lies they are spouting, well, it might be possible to come back from that but it has to be something like "one in a million" – and only with direct intervention from the Lord . . . something which does of course occasionally happen, but usually not if it will be to no purpose.

Happy to discuss this further, but I do want to warn you that there is no winning a debate with these people on their own terms. If you could find the perfect reasoning to refute this nonsense, so perfect that it would undeniable on its face that you were right, they would most likely deny it anyway and move on to another argument and do so ad infinitum. And there is limited time in this life, after all.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Dear Bob,

The Baptism series’ explanation is good, and I do agree that water baptism is an ‘Israel-matter’ to reveal / manifest the Messiah. Not a Gospel requirement for Gentiles.

Does the ‘election of grace’ (Rom. 11:5b) encompass the full scope of believe in the ‘Seed’ (Gal. 3:16) and ‘the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24c) as the root in Romans 11:18c? ‘Root’ would be the promise made to Abraham, the coming Messiah; the first advent (the Cross). Israel is thus NOT the root! Those who received Christ Jesus as Lord are rooted and built up in Him (Col. 2:6-7). National salvation for Israel is thus a future event, at the second coming of Christ?

This is perhaps more personal. I think I do understand your ‘Ichthys Explanation’, but am curious about the nature of a symbol that is coupled to the Lord. It is however, your right to have an identification symbol, as a personification for your theological stance. I specifically references symbol and not carved image. I trust it makes sense in the way that I will put my question. I do respect you and your wonderful work/ministry.

Now my question: How would a theological artist paint wind? Or even more difficult, how would wind be sculptured? Wind can be heard or felt. Jesus explains some of it in John 3:8. Furthermore, God is Spirit (John 4:24). Perhaps, as a reason that no ‘carved images’ to be made (Deuteronomy. 4:16-18; 23-24 & 5:8); ‘own creation a problem’ (Hab. 2:18) and ‘work of delusion’ (Jer. 10:14-15). For God who is Spirit cannot be captured by any semblance that humankind can create. God’s glory and praise not given to another (Is. 42:8). It is obvious that reference is made to ‘carved images’. Much more can be said, yet your field of knowledge, perception and objectivity can school me to better understand Scripture; The way I deduct from Scripture that which is descriptive or prescriptive in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

I would deduct that ‘Ichthys’ is not a carved image, therefore an except-able symbol? I do not define you as a ‘theological artist’! I respect you.

Continue to teach the things which concerns the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence!!


Response #10:  

On election, this refers to God's choice in His plan of all who choose for Him. In terms of the Church, while Israel is the foundation, the Church is composed of all believers from Adam and Eve to the last person saved during the Tribulation (a lot more on this in the recently posted BB 6B: Ecclesiology, at the link). It is true that during the Millennium there will be a great many Jewish believers (the lion's share of the "friend of the Bride", or so it would seem).

In terms of representing "wind", as you can no doubt tell from the charts et al. at Ichthys, I am no artist! So I wouldn't really have a clue about how to represent something invisible. In terms of "images", Exodus 20:4 is speaking – as the context shows quite clearly – about pagan idols which are constructed for the purpose of worshiping them. There were images of cherubim on the mercy seat atop the ark, and others woven into the curtains of the tabernacle. So images are not evil per se. The key is what they mean and whether or not they are used as objects of worship.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

I don't like it when I make an irreversible break, and that includes making an irreversible break WITH YOU. I get a vague sense of "this is all superstition" from the Catholic Church and so I have decided to go back to you for instruction. This includes telling me what I'm supposed to believe.

I am not a person who gets "locked in" to one track unless there is overwhelming evidence. There isn't overwhelming evidence that either you are wrong or that the RCC is correct, so I will keep the status quo.

Response #11:  

First, I'm glad to hear from you, my friend.

Second, I'm certainly not out to "take down" the RC church, nor is apologetics the ministry I have been assigned.

Third, every born again / born from above person I've ever me who came out of that church has assured me that it's not possible to be in it and be saved. Why? Because it is a religion of works, and virtually every single one of its teachings is contrary to the truth. Now there are many RCs who are wonderful people. I would be pleased to continue to have you as a friend, even if you continued in that church. And it is also true that every RC person I've had a conversation with about this sort of thing has made it clear that they "don't believe" this or that or most things that church teaches. That is true to some degree to most members of various denominations and other religions and cults as well (there's a great deal on this at the recently posted BB 6B: Ecclesiology).

But the whole point is what we believe . . . because belief is the ultimate choice.

"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

I believe the testimony of the Bible, and I have devoted my life to understanding what it really says and means. The above, and many other scriptures, make it clear that salvation is of God's grace freely offered to all who put their trust in Jesus Christ. This is not an intellectual process or a mechanical operation. It is choosing to believe in Christ as the God-man who died for our sins. And when a person does that, that person is fundamentally changed. Plenty of people can pass a multiple choice quiz on this; only those who have put their faith in Him are believers, and only believers are saved.

Knowing this, I could never recommend the RC church and its teachings since they are counter to the Bible and intrinsically so.

What should you believe? First, you should believe in Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. He is the Lord who died for us, having become a man as well as God in order to bear all of our sins – which He did, making our redemption possible.

Second, you should believe the truth. All of the truth. God's truth is found in the Bible. We may have disagreements about what the Bible means – but I can tell you that is possible to find out what it means.

Third, since no one is saved with an instantaneous understanding and belief in all principles of truth (or the means and knowledge to get at them, even if said person is given the gift of pastor-teacher), everyone needs a teacher to grow. And what the teacher teaches should be accepted as the truth, once said teacher/ministry has been vetted so as to have assurance that the "tree" is good. If the tree is good, then the "fruit" should be considered good as well. As much as is humanly possible should be accepted as true, with skepticism put aside. It's no doubt impossible for almost anyone to do that 100% of the time, but that should be the policy. Why? Because to grow, a Christian has to believe what is taught AND what is taught has to be true. Only then will the Spirit make that truth "full knowledge" (epignosis) in the heart of the believer in question. If the tree is good, then even one bad apple once in a while won't stymie growth. But if all of the apples are bad, no growth will occur; or if almost all of the apples are good, but the Christian in question merely hangs around the tree and refuses to eat out of one scruple or another, then no growth can occur.

I always recommend starting with the Peter series (link), but you have been around Ichthys long enough to know what else is available. Keeping up with the weekly postings is also a good idea (link).

Only the Lord is capable of looking into another person's heart. And only the person in question knows whether or not Jesus Christ is truly their Lord, having accepted Him, His deity and His death for all sin, so as to be saved. If this is an issue, please see the link: "Salvation: God's Free Gift".

I'm very happy to hear from you, my friend. I had a feeling that tradition, any tradition, devoid of truth was not going to satisfy your heart. You are welcome here any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.
p.s., I'm happy to put you in touch with another RC "refugee" if you wish.

Question #12: 

I'm finding your question and response articles quite interesting. It must have been God that link me up with you. Thanks so much for not being weary of giving response to questions.
While reading about ministry and preparation for ministry, I came across the issue that ministers should get something doing, like Paul did (Act 18:1-4; 20:33; Thessalonian 3-6-13). I have seen few ministers that say God told them to quit their job and focus on ministry. I have also seen ministers who never intended to take a job because they believe they are called into ministry. Those ministers believe that the ministry is the job they must feed, some how, this may have formed the root of false teachings and malpractices. Contrary to this, some ministers are not working and they maintain the truth of the word of God, and live satisfactorily as well. Some ministers that are working have the mindset of being part time ministers while those that are not working have the mindset of being full time minsters.
Now my questions:

Are there some ministers that are not supposed to work due to the nature of their ministry? What is your view of 'part time and full time' ministers?

On what I read: "Are we really such mavericks in our understanding of water-baptism, the placement of the "rapture", tongues, life at birth instead of conception, etc. that it is unreasonable to ever find a church that agrees with us on these things?"

Please can I get detail explanation of the doctrines?

Does Ichthys provides the necessary materials for learning Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic outside seminary?

Best regards!

Your's in Jesus

Response #12: 

Good to hear from you.

To take your questions in reverse order, no, this is a "one man operation", and while I do teach Greek at the university, I'm not able to do more than answer a few questions here and there online. While it's always better to learn these languages "face to face", it's not impossible to learn them on one's own with the aid of internet resources and a good textbook. There are some men associated with this ministry who have done so, and done well (not that it's easy: it's not easy). Here's a link on that: "Studying Greek and Hebrew".

On "the rapture" (see the link which leads to more).

On "baptism" (see the link which leads to more).

On "tongues" (see the link which leads to more).

On "life at birth" (see the link which leads to more).

As to "maverick status", personally, I'm only interested in the truth. As I hope will be made clear in reviewing the links (and subsequent links; see also the Ichthys "Subject Index") above, all of these positions are the biblical ones, despite the fact that this conflicts with traditional viewpoints in many groups and denominations. But tradition is by definition antithetical to a search for the truth, since by definition it considers searching an affront against tradition. I think you were attracted to this ministry because the Spirit moved you to see the truth of the teaching you encountered. I encourage you to investigate all you want. The truth is what matters. If that puts "us" on an island, well, I'd rather be on a island with the truth than on the mainland without it, personally.

On ministry and its support, see the links in BB 6B "Pastor-Teacher" and "Pastoral Support". Scripture tells us that "a workman is worthy of his wages" (1Tim.5:18), so without question one of if not the first financial responsibility of any congregation is is supporting their pastor-teacher (see the link). Your observation about how this plays out is certainly germane. I would also note, however, that whether supported or not, and whether "working hard" as some see it or not, the vast majority of so-called pastors today are NOT in fact laboring in the Word (1Tim.5:17), and THAT is the context in which Paul makes the "worthy" comment. Being "worthy" means actually teaching sufficient quantity and doing so in a detailed and orthodox way so that the congregation can grow spiritually. But today most pastors belong to groups who by tradition adhere to many false doctrines, and they are loathe to "upset the apple-cart" by teaching anything different, even if they know better. Most don't know better. And most do not teach at all. Instead they give "sermons". So it's an academic question.

I will tell you, however, that in my observation and experience the number of Christians who are actually willing to submit to the authority of a pastor-teacher who is doing things the right way so as to grow spiritually is very small indeed. So the odds of there being enough positive Christians in one area to support a pastor-teacher so as to do nothing but study and teach as his "day job" are long – and the result is that I know of few situations where this kind of thing is taking place. There are more than enough Christians willing to support a church and/or a pastor – but they are not interested in the truth. As a result, they will drive away any pastor-teacher who might chance to turn up and try and teach them the truth. This all being the case, I think it's unwise for a prospective pastor to assume that it's God's will for him to be supported entirely by a church. It might very well turn out that way (nothing is impossible for the Lord, after all), but in the late innings of Laodicea, such things are the exception rather than the rule.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

May I ask you a bit of a lifestyle question? How do you think the Lord might feel if I decorated my apartment with fantastical themed items? Would it bad, do you think?

What do you think? I think New Jerusalem will seem magical to us. Not least the angelic beings (consider the multi-varied descriptions that would seem fantastical to us in the Bible).

Hope you are well,

Response #13:  

I learned a LONG time ago not to weigh in on how woman decorate and why.

If you have qualms about anything, it's always a good idea to take it to the Lord in prayer, search scripture, and listen carefully to the Spirit. Some things are more important than other things too. It's also easy to get legalistic about "don't do this" and "don't do that", where the issue is minor. If we stick to doing what's right on the major things – such as spiritual growth and essential sanctification – we will find that in the end the minor things tend to work themselves out, one way or another.

Trying to please the Lord is indeed what this Christian life is all about, and the best way to do that in the main is to keep growing, keep walking with Him, and keep helping others do the same. What you stick on the wall isn't even generally in the same category.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Dr. Luginbill:

Would you take a look at the email chain regarding the UMCs position on LGBTQ issues and either tell me I am being obnoxious or I have a right to be concerned about these things and to question the leadership of my Church on their positions.

I am aware I may be making a mistake common to new believers and those who have never read the Bible. I really had never read the Bible even once until about 2 1/2 years ago and I have read it 7 complete times and I am reading two Bibles right now (I like to read different translations at the same time). So certainly I am no expert, but I think on this issue the Bible is pretty clear.

So I know I am perhaps still at the Spiritual Milk level and several people are shocked that I would have the audacity to approach the #2 (and younger "heir apparent") at our Church. (and he himself is pretty sound in his teaching, unlike a lot of Methodists he does talk about sin and repentance). They think it is arrogant that I should do so.

Now, I know he probably knows the Bible and theology better than I do and I am not trying to tell him how to run the Church. But they have also not addressed this issue and, maybe it is my immaturity as a Christian, but I feel like they hide from controversial issues. I feel like the Church is bending to society and it should be standing firm. And the church I go to has not addressed this and I feel it is an important issues.

I tried to be respectful, but I am not sure if I was out of line. I respect your teaching, so if I need to be admonished I wanted to hear it from someone I do respect.

The Methodists like to talk about love and grace, and those are indeed important. But is there not a place for holiness and righteousness to be taught and practiced by Clergy?

Finally, I am kind of a cantankerous person by nature. So I am just trying to make sure my natural cantankerousness is not getting the better of me. I love the Word of God and I just do not like to see what I consider the Church bowing to popular social justice issues. It is apostasy to me.

Response #14: 

Good to hear from you.

When you mention denominations embracing "social justice" over the Bible, I think this is at the heart of the matter. It's also good to point out, however, that conservative denominations which are equally putting "social concerns" and political crusades ahead of studying the scriptures are equally misguided, just on different issues.

What all denominations seem to have in common these days is a near complete disregard and/or disinterest in learning and teaching the truth of the Bible. The biblical reason to have "church", that is, the reason for Christians to assemble, is to encourage one another through the truth, and to be taught it in sufficient detail to grow so as to be able to pass the tests of spiritual maturity and eventually be useful in THE Church at large by ministering to its edification in the service of Jesus Christ (a great deal on this in the newly posted BB 6B: Ecclesiology at the link).

We are in the lukewarm era of Laodicea, at present, and while in this country, for example, there is a church almost on every street corner, hardly any (with an infinitesimal number of exceptions) teach the truth in any depth. That is the case even if their creeds or denominational statements are not awful. In short, the Bible has no place in churches today – that is by far the rule. So when you tell me you are reading your Bible diligently, that of course will put you at odds with the leadership of any church. Generally speaking, any believer in any church who decides as you have decided to seek the Lord through the truth and read the Bible is going to quickly be out of step with what is going on within – for the obvious reason that no one else, even the leadership, even thinks that important to do (lip service notwithstanding). If you continue, you will become increasingly at odds with the leadership on all manner of points where their policies are not biblical. This will inevitably result in conflict if you are unwilling to compromise the truth for good relations with those who care nothing about it. In other words, this will eventually result in you being tossed out or pressured out or leaving. What will NOT happen, especially in an established denomination, is the church changing. If these leaders cared about the truth, they would not be in this church / denomination in the first place. So while I applaud your courage and your desire not only to know the truth but to live it and to try and see that your church reflects it, I can also tell you with the benefit of experience that it's never possible to change things from the inside (Lk.5:37). In a "loving" church, perhaps they will put up with you for a time, but they are not going to change, and if you persist on putting Christ in front of tradition and trendiness, you will pay the price eventually.

There is a reason why this ministry is "outside the gate". But that is where everyone who loves Jesus Christ will eventually be led (Heb.13:12). What I should also point out is that while reading your Bible is necessary and wonderful (see the link), it is not enough. No Christian is able to grow past a certain point without submitting to the authority of a genuine teaching ministry. That is because only those who have been gifted to teach AND have prepared themselves to do so can "rightly divide the Word of truth" so as to present spiritual food in a quantity and quality necessary to achieve spiritual maturity. So while I feel your pain, and I'm certainly not going to advise you on what to do about the current situation, I do urge you to begin to grow through a ministry that makes that possible. Ichthys is one such place, I certainly believe, but not the only one. One other place I always recommend is Pastor Teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (at the link).

So keep your fire for the Lord alive, my friend (1Thes.5:19). But add learning to understand the Bible to your reading of the Bible. That is the way to win the three crowns of spiritual reward and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hello Bob,

I went on your site this morning to read the emails page and was really happy to see some of my emails there! I am embarrassed to admit that it took a little while with some of them to realise it was me but then I spotted one or two (!) of my written eccentricities! At first I thought someone else thinks exactly like I do (lol).

It was really nice to re-read them and your replies, it reminded me of where I came from, where I have grown and which areas need more attention!

It's funny seeing those emails today as yesterday I stumbled on something called "Unitarianism" after it was mentioned casually in a novel I was reading. Even after reading up about it I still don't understand how it can be Christian as it seems to deny the divinity of Christ! Have you heard about it? From there I found out about a more modern (1960s) offshoot of it called UU. This is the church of Unitarian Universalism (it should be called "me me" instead of UU). Apparently it's an anything goes church that welcomes people of any faith including people of no faith at all. Here is a link https://www.uua.org/beliefs

It truly is the oddest thing I have ever seen and I really do not understand why anyone would want this? It seems to be very hypocritical to me that atheists want to "play church" with all the rituals and the atmosphere but with doctrine, teaching, wisdom and most importantly God and Jesus completely taken away. I find the whole think ridiculously odd and yet this is so dangerous! All the YouTube comments are very favourable because it is very socially active, political, embraces everything including Wicca paganism and fully endorses LGBT and other harmful alternative lifestyles in a bid to be fully inclusive. It really is growing in popularity to a ridiculous degree because it is whatever you want it to be! As one Christian detractor said, it's the place to go to if you want to worship yourself!

Do you think that this will be part of the end times deception? The UU church eerily echoes what Pope Francis is hoping to achieve with his "Coexist" movement as evidenced in this video here.

Just more evidence that the end times are round the corner!

It was good to be back on the website again today, seeing my emails and your responses on the site made me feel as though you were in the room with me dear friend!

I'm afraid my bible studies has taken a slight backseat recently. My ___ is really in a bad way. His physical and mental health is failing and he refuses help from everyone despite being unable to look after himself. I would really appreciate prayers for him. He used to be a very committed believer but I'm not sure anymore. Unfortunately his faith has been mediated by the RCC. The more I think about it the more I realise that RCC has not really bore any spiritual fruit in my family despite a devoted loyalty to the religion. That has been one of my chief criticisms of it. My ___ has been doubting God lately because of what is happening with her ___ but I have been there to nurture and protect her faith in Jesus and it seems to have now gone from wavering to stronger.
My faith has been a real focal point to my family and it seems to have forced them all to think more and more about it. I often talk about little else!

God bless you Bob!

I hope this email finds you in good health and spirit.

In Him,

Response #15:  

Thanks! Yes, your words are wonderful and contributing to the growth of others, of that I am sure. I do edit some to make the writer virtually impossible to identify – even hard for the writer! That's not the first time I've heard this (it's usually around a year or so later that I get around to posting things too).

As to UU ("me me" is hilarious!), I suppose the same questions can be asked about all religions, that is, all nod-to-God groups who do not really care about having a relationship with Him or accepting the Gift of His Son. We who truly believe want "Him" and to be close to Jesus, but as you note, for all others it's entirely about "me! me!", just organized differently and packaged differently. The devil has 666 ways to be religious, but all of them share in common that they end in hell. There's only "one way" to salvation (Jn.14:6).

During the Tribulation, all these groups will pool their efforts in support of antichrist's religion, so it's good to get inoculated against this sort of thing before the fact. So it's great that you're ferreting these things out now.

It is ironic, isn't it? Unbelievers enjoy "going to church", while believers who are genuinely trying to grow closer to Jesus Christ through the truth find what goes on in most Laodicean churches so nauseating that they can't bear to go. A sure sign that the Tribulation is close. You are right about that!

I will pray for your ___. Good job and encouraging news about your ___!

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hi Bob,

Thanks for letting me help. I really enjoy it and hopefully it's just a bit of backup if nothing else for you.

If you don't mind me asking, how long did it take you to write this one (BB 4A)? It must take you ages to complete any of them, with all the punctuation marks, Bible verses etc. I was just curious!

Re: what you wrote about our Lord's "Psychological Pressures: As can be seen ... He never allowed Himself to get overly or unreasonable (unreasonably) frustrated with negative response. (A recent lesson here for me, Bob!)

Your friend in Jesus

Response #16: 

I'm grateful for your help!

Most of these big files took years to do. Of course I started most of them, the idea for them, at any rate, back in the late 80's. It would have been impossible for me to do any of this if it were just "me" that were doing it. The Spirit's role can't be underestimated, and I'm so grateful to the Lord for using me in this ministry like this. Of course I had a hand it all too . . . as the typos you're finding makes very clear!

And, yes, a lesson for us all.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

How are you doing Robert? Well I hope, you continue to be in my prayers nightly, this world we live in seems to get crazier by the week. Your thoughts on something. I was taking in some exercise at the park today, literally the first day above freezing in 5 weeks and this woman approached my car as I was driving out of the lot. I thought perhaps I had dropped something but when I rolled my window down she said Jesus revealed something to her about me. She said the Lord told her that I had a business decision to make and his message was to trust in him and not to worry about it. Now she is partially right but that's a pretty wide net to cast, a lot of guys my age are making those kind of decisions. She seemed very sincere. How would you react to something like that from a spiritual standpoint? I'm wondering if the Lord would actually send a message to someone like that. Thanks for your help my friend, I hope you and your family are well!

In Jesus

Response #17:  

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I hope things are going well for you. Thanks for your prayers too! They are most needful. I've been keeping you and your family in mine daily as well.

The way I read the Bible, the Lord uses the Spirit to direct our steps, and the Spirit uses the truth to guide us, truth we've placed within our hearts by giving attention to it and learning it and believing it. That is not to say that the Lord doesn't also use circumstances and situations, especially things that happen which are out of the ordinary. He most certainly does. But these mostly do not involve people telling us things like this. How could they? Because God is not verbally communicating messages to us individually at this point in His plan. That sort of thing ended with the termination of prophecy in the apostolic age (1Cor.13:2; 13:8-12), and was, judging by the book of Acts, rare enough even then.

This is not to say that God can't do such a thing (He can do anything); nor is it to say that He never ever does (He can do as He pleases). But it is fair to ask if it's not in the Bible as something we are to expect, and indeed shown from a true appreciation of 1st Corinthians 13 and the cessation of the obviously miraculous gifts after the passing of the apostles, why we shouldn't view all such claims with great skepticism (much more on this in the recently posted BB 6B, see the link: "The Perfect Word of God and the End of the Transition"). We are supposed to be "wise as serpents", after all, and this is an especially important principle for Christians to keep in mind inasmuch as we tend to be good-hearted people who have a tendency to believe what people tell us. In this world, that is always potentially dangerous.

It is possible that the Lord spoke directly to this woman and told her to give you this message. But I can think of several alternative explanations just off the top of my head: 1) demon possession/influence; 2) mental illness; 3) immature believer arrogance (in thinking that everything that pops into the head is a message from God and wishing to show one's importance by claiming that it is); 4) scamming (whatever the motivation). This may seem nasty, but in the history of the world I can guarantee you that for every incident of the type you relate that really was the Lord speaking to someone, the other categories (and others not thought of) outnumber those incidences at least a thousand to one (probably much, much more).

And you are right that this seems to be a "fortune cookie" type of message – all the more reason for skepticism.

I didn't know you had a business.

I'd advise care in the extreme – and continued devotion to spiritual growth: that is how the Lord guides us, through the truth.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

My first instinct was to blow it off, just thought I would run it past you before I did so entirely. I had a similar incident when I was 19 or 20, my girlfriend and I got into an accident speeding; probably lucky we weren't killed. A woman came out of nowhere and said she started to pray for us as soon as I lost control of the car. In hindsight, there was probably more to that than what happened yesterday. She stated that Jesus had saved us, or she saw Jesus save us, can't remember her exact words. At any rate, with as many friends as I lost in that era from car accidents, I am grateful to have survived that and of course that she survived as well.

I pray every night and ask the Lord for forgiveness and guidance, mostly just try to pray for other people. I do pray for my enemies but it's very difficult to do that with the same kind of sincerity as I pray for friends and loved ones. I send my mother paragraphs from your site, she really enjoys it. If I send her links she seems to get overwhelmed, easier for her to read bits and pieces but she definitely knows where it comes from.

In Jesus Christ

Response #18: 

I think we've all done things when we were young that put us into unnecessary jeopardy – and were rescued by the Lord in His great grace and mercy (that was certainly true of myself, more times than I care to enumerate). It's good to remember these incidents as you are doing.

So, yes, these are two quite different situations, it seems to me. Anyone, especially a believer, who sees someone involved in a miraculous deliverance might well be prompted to say, "The Lord loves you!". The recent situation is different. So this is why I asked you if you had a business. Everyone has financial decisions to make. Even if it's only whether or not to buy chuck or splurge on ground sirloin, anything monetary can be considered a "business decision" when it comes to fortune cookies or astrology or flim-flam – all of these make bank on crafting generalities which people will take as unique to themselves and fill in the blanks in doing so. So I would avoid this person if you ever meet her again (it might not have been an accident).

You're a good son!

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hi Brother Bob! (Brother Jarhead)

The Lord brought you to mind, and it has been awhile, so I thought I'd drop you a line....
First off....THE LORD IS RISEN / HE IS RISEN INDEED !! HALLELUJAH ! PRAISE THE KING OF kings AND LORD OF lords forever and ever! HE ALONE IS WORTHY OF ALL GLORY AND HONOR AND POWER AND DOMINION! (Whew, that felt good!!!). Brother, let's enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise and into His presence with worship "together"....not just at this time of celebration, but all year long!!! He is great and greatly to be praised!!! And that's why I love JESUS today!!!

How's everything your neck of the woods? I trust all is well with you my brother.

We're getting ready for retirement, and a couple of weeks ago, I was approached and asked if I would consider taking the position of "Chaplain" at Quakertown Christian School, grades K-12....wow! I certainly did not expect that! I would appreciate any words of encouragement and wisdom you could share with me.

Have a blessed Easter my brother and may the Lord cause His face to shine upon you so good that you keep falling in love with Him over and over again as I'm learning to do.

Walk with the King my brother!!!!

Your brother in Christ,

p.s. I covet your continued prayers for my family that they all be delivered out of the cult....the way International.....talk about warfare!

Thanks so much Bob!!!

Response #19:  

Great to hear from you, my friend!

Yes, as far as I am concerned, every day is "resurrection day" . . . and even more to the point, the day of the cross, for that is the victory upon which salvation and everything else is based.

Congratulations on your coming retirement! Personally, I'm on the "feet first" program here. I'm sure you'll find a way to use the time profitably. The Lord has a personal ministry for us all, and now you'll have some additional time to pursue growth, progress and production for Him. I've never been a chaplain. I think it suits a retired person more than a working-age person since you'll be able to have the right frame of mind: this is a ministry not a job. The only thing I would wonder about is the restraint imposed by accommodation to this particular denomination (that would be my question for any denominational school / organization which wanted a chaplain). I would suggest checking that out first to make sure you're comfortable with what they teach / don't teach. Quakers, last time I checked, had some "interesting" ideas about government and self-defense which I could not pretend to agree with if it came up counseling someone.

I do indeed continue to pray for you and your family and this situation, my friend. It's been a long "prayer fight", but I know that nothing is impossible for the Lord.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

I just wanted to clear up something....Quakertown is the name of the town where the school is located....no Quakers that I know of. The school is solidly grounded in Christ. It's a Bible believing, teaching, preaching, practicing school. Have a blessed week my brother.

Response #20:  

Oh - OK.

Just trying to look out for you, my friend. Still, any Christian school will have some set of tenets or creed – good to check that out before committing (Quaker or not).

In our dear Savior, Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill!

If a person is not able to study for his exam because he is in his church the whole weekend, is he trusting or testing God?

I read a mother complaining to her church member about her son not doing his school obligations because of church works and the mother was told to put God first before anything else. Is this what God wants? They use the story of Martha and Mary.

How do we delineate the apparent thin line between following and trusting God and testing God? Doing church’s obligations without forsaking our “earthly” obligations?

God bless.

Response #21:  

Good to hear from you. Hope all is well.

As to your question, the Lord expects us to fulfill all of our responsibilities. Being a Christian does not mean, e.g., that we don't have to obey the law, or that we don't have to do a good job for our employer, or that we don't have to meet whatever other family or school obligations we may have. Just the opposite. Christians should show by their witness of the life the glory of Christ.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
1st Peter 2:12-18 NIV

Being a poor student is a very poor witness. For anyone who truly does trust the Lord, the Lord will provide enough time and energy to study hard and well, and not let down on truly important spiritually obligations. That is an important qualification, however.

What sort of "church works" are we talking about here? The biblical purpose of a local church is to teach the Word of God and to mutually encourage one another. Very few people can handle more than a few hours of concentrated Bible teaching at a time – and very few churches seriously teach the Bible at all. So I suspect that these "obligations" have little or nothing to do with genuine spiritual growth. If a church is willing to monopolize a young person's whole weekend to, e.g., work on some building project, that just shows that not only are they not actually leading him/her forward spiritually as the Bible tells them to do, but they are also compromising his/her witness and possibly even damaging future opportunities.

School is important. And like all the things the Lord gives us to cope with here on earth, it ought to be approached in a diligent and serious fashion by any Christian young person. "Church" should never be an excuse for not doing the things we know that are right to do. Just like the Lord told the Pharisees:

He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Mark 7:9-13 NKJV

You are right that there is a "line" to draw, but in my experience the Lord never asks us to draw it to the detriment of our witness or in the carrying out of our legitimate responsibilities.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Thank you so much Dr. Luginbill. I always thank God for finding your site, for your patience and hard work to help people like me understand what God wants us to know about Him and our Lord Jesus Christ so that we can be able to keep the faith and follow their commandments. I almost gave up and even doubted the existence of God and His Son because of too much manipulation I see in churches today, and somehow, God pointed me to your site, to let me know He exists, and our Lord Jesus Christ exists, to forgive, to guide and to educate me through your site. I will always include you and your family in my prayer.

Response #22: 

You are so very welcome!

Thanks so much for these kind and encouraging words – and thanks for those needful prayers as well!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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