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Believers in the World VI

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Question #1: 

Hi Bob,

I’ve started a new research program called "publish and sell it."

Response #1:  

Making money is necessary (2Thes.3:10-12).

But everything done / earned / accomplished in this life is dust and thus pointless unless it serves a higher purpose.

On the other hand, even a drink of cold water given in the Lord's name will not fail to earn an eternal reward.

“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
John 6:27 NKJV

In Jesus who is our portion in this life and the next.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Was Jesus classified as a "fire and brimstone" preacher because of the CONTENT of His preaching? Yet most today employ the description of "fire and brimstone" preacher concerning the STYLE of preaching. Do you believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was a "fire and brimstone" preacher in relation to the STYLE that is so commonly classified by that phrase today? What would you classify as the opposite type of preacher and preaching from "fire and brimstone"? Indeed, what would you classify as the listing of various types of preacher and preaching in addition to "fire and brimstone"?

Furthermore, I was wondering if you ever studied the difference in usage between the teaching/teacher terms in relation our Lord Jesus Christ and the preaching/preacher terms in relation to our Lord Jesus Christ? I believe that one will find that our Lord Jesus Christ was described as a teacher or as one teaching approximately two times as much as He was described as a preacher and as one preaching. I believe that it is also worthy to notice how many of those preaching/preacher descriptions are used specifically in relation to the proclamation of the gospel message itself. What are your thoughts on this?

God Bless,

Response #2: 

Neither "fire and brimstone" nor "preach" occurs in the Bible as descriptions of teaching the truth. It is true that some translations do use the word "preach" for some passages in the Old or New Testament, but erroneously so – at least in terms of how that word is understood today. Mostly "preach" translates kerusso in the NT, meaning more literally "to proclaim as a herald" – that is, a proclamation of the truth which is all about substance.

The purpose of the local assembly is to learn the truth from someone who is teaching the truth, and to be encouraged by that someone – and also by each other – through the proclamation of the truth. In my observation and experience, sermons are long on stories, illustrations, fancy rhetoric . . . and misinformation in terms of biblical truth. In other words, what passes for "preaching" in the church visible today has nothing to do with the Bible, neither in terms of what is commanded nor in terms of the dissemination of the truth.

In terms of "fire and brimstone", this phrase usually means "scaring unbelievers into being saved by threats of hell". I think it is very obvious that this was not our Lord's approach. Not that He didn't mention hell and the consequences of unbelief, but always in a context of teaching the entire realm of biblical truth.

I'm not saying that evangelists shouldn't make the issue of our eternal choice clear to unbelievers – clearly they should. But what does this have to do with a pastor who is speaking to a congregation of putative believers? If he is threatening hell for sin, he clearly doesn't understand a thing about the Bible nor the truth. Q.E.D.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have some follow up question from the last email. And I did study it last night. I was curious as to how we might classify other styles of preacher. We often hear about the "fire and brimstone" style of preaching, but we really do not hear a classification for a style that is not a "fire and brimstone" style. If preaching is NOT a "fire and brimstone" style, what is it instead? As you said "preaching" terminology is found in the King James translation as translation for the Greek "kerusso" family of terms. In addition, "preaching the gospel" terminology is found in the King James translation as translation for the Greek "euangelizo" family of terms. However, even combining both family of terms, I believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is described as being a TEACHER and as engaged in TEACHING approximately two times as much as being a preacher and as engaged in preaching. This is what I get from reading the words of Jesus. It is interesting to me that when we want to talk about the responsibility of pastors in "the ministry of the word," we run to the preaching passage of 2 Timothy 4:1-4, but we ignore the apt to teach passage of 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and the apt to teach qualification for the pastor as given in 1 Timothy 3:2. I have not yet done the study, but I wonder what the comparison would be between the responsibility to preach and the responsibility to teach as presented throughout the pastoral epistles. Thanks in advance!

God Bless,

Response #3:  

The issue (and the problem) is the way these words are used in the contemporary church-visible – not what terms they may correspond to in the Bible.

When someone tells me that so and so is going to "preach a sermon", I have a definite expectation because I know what a "sermon" is and also what "preaching" one means. I expect to be harangued for the better part of an hour with rising tones and rhetoric, bombarded by illustrations and "stories", and, in many cases, manipulated emotionally with heavy doses of guilt designed to get me to 1) "join"; 2) give (maybe even tithe); 3) work (at things this church wants done); and 4) "bring" others along to do 1-3 as well. What I DO NOT expect is to be taught anything about the truth resident in the scriptures. On the contrary, I expect to be subjected to a lot of half truths and erroneous "guess-timations" of what this "preacher" thinks may be the truth based upon his poor preparation, sloppy approach, and questionable motivations: wanting fame, money and power – or as he would put it, a larger witness, more resources for the ministry and a greater influence in the community "for Christ".

I have read the gospels MANY times – in Greek as well as in English. And Jesus NEVER did any of the above. What Jesus did was teach the truth. It's OK if you want to call that "preaching", I suppose, but given what "preaching" means in the church-visible today, I think it is an insult to attribute that sort of palaver and pusillanimous conduct to our dear Lord. He wielded the sword of the Spirit, the truth of the Word of God, like no other. We are supposed to follow His example.

But I find the exact opposite happening in the vast majority of churches today. The only differences between most of them are the ones you note: differences is style. If someone is engaged in pornography, the "style" of it hardly matters since it is wrong whatever the "style". Similarly, if someone is promoting false positions from false motivations and failing entirely in the mandate our Lord has given, the style doesn't matter, nor do the terms with which we may wish to describe what they are doing. The main thing is to stay away from such nonsense and seek instead a place where you can grow up spiritually through the Word of God so as to be able to mature and stand the test then help others do the same. Everything else is a distraction at best and an invitation to a downward spiritual spiral at worst.

Here are some important links on this critical subject. Please DO read them:

Red Hot or Lukewarm?

Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality.

Dysfunctional Churches.

Finding a Church – or Something Better? II

Finding a Church – or Something Better?

Mega-Churches, Emergent Christianity, Spirituality and Materialism.

The Meaning and Purpose of True Christian Assembly

Can you recommend a church?

Christian Unity and Divisiveness.

Ichthys and Contemporary Christianity

Spiritual Growth, Church-Searching and "Discipling"

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the Word of God Himself.

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I forwarded your message from your last email to a Christian friend of mine and he completely disagreed with almost everything you had taught me. He said:

"First - I think at the bottom of everything, you and I would probably agree that there are a lot of "preachers" today that are not actually preaching. I guess what is bothering me a little this morning is how he is expressing his dissatisfaction with these fellows, and the broad brush he is painting with. I sincerely doubt that he have been in "most churches" to witness and judge their preaching. And even if you have, Romans 14 is very clear that it is not our job to judge another man's servant. These men are not ours to judge. If he IS a man of God, and we set him at naught because of the weakness of his preaching, we ourselves are in danger of being brought to task by the very one that both the preacher and we ourselves actually answer to. Second - Jesus' own messages consisted predominately of stories. This sticks in the craw of the scholars among us (I can't for the life of me picture Jesus pointing out how many different languages He could read the scripture in), but the watchword for all of Christ's messages (be they "preaching" or "teaching") was simplicity and commonality. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't speak in terms of pusillanimous conduct. As "the right kind" of preachers, we use a lot of scripture and scripture words in our preaching, but those we preach to often do not have the same foundation. I have preached in the jungle of a 3rd world country to a crowd who were illiterate and unchurched. I had an interpreter who would translate for me, and beside him was another translator who would then translate his translation into a third language. A chicken came in strutting down the aisle, a dog came in chasing the chicken and then a naked baby came chasing the dog. Down the middle of the hut / building and up on the platform and around and around before the whole circus was eventually shooed outside. You learn to put the truth down on the dirt, where the meanest can grasp it. That means lots of stories and illustrations. Parables. Remember this, and chew on it long and hard. Like it or not, preaching is not the end. It is only the means to an end. The TRUTH is the end. And as a preacher, if you loose sight of the end while focusing on the means and methodology, you eventually loose both the method and the message. I don't know this person. He obviously hold the truth, and he sound really smart and educated. Most people are not scholars, however, and most people don't like being talked down to. Even from the pulpit. Especially from the pulpit. Bottom line? While we agree that there is "wrong" preaching, there is no one RIGHT way to preach. With over 7 billion people on this planet speaking 7,000 living languages and representing almost as many unique, distinct cultures, don't put the delivery of the message in a box. As I re-read this, it comes across as a rant, and I'm almost hesitant to send it. It's not intended as such, and I have no heart to offend or get in a slug-fest over this. I just wanted to express my heart. Those on here who've known me for the last few years have learned to understand my plainness without taking it personal. I hope you can as well, for I truly dont mean this as harsh as it sounds."

I don't know how to respond to this because he does have some good points. What are your thoughts on what he said above?

God Bless,

Response #4: 

A parable is not a story. A parable is a parable. Why did our Lord teach (not preach) with parables? Scripture says very definitively:

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ ”

Matthew 13:10-15 NKJV

Therefore parables allowed our Lord to present the truth to a largely negative audience in a way so as not to provoke direct antagonism and yet still present the truth.

A story has nothing to do with a parable. And a preacher, however good, is not the Lord, not the Messiah having come to a negative people who will not receive him, and thus has no need of speaking in parables.

Telling stories is another things. Comedians are good at that; so are politicians. But people get enough entertainment in this culture without having church devoted to that as well. What they don't get in church (almost without exception these days) is the teaching of the Word of God – and that is what they need.

I don't know anything about your friend and have no desire to argue with someone who knows nothing about this ministry and has no desire to learn from it. Perhaps your friend really is edifying the Church of Jesus Christ with his teaching. I have no way of knowing. That is between him and the Lord. I'm not interested in sowing strife between brothers where confusion and misunderstanding about methods may be present – and neither should you be.

In Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I 100% agree with you about wasting time trying to argue with someone who has their mind already made up. I think Satan is trying to stop me from spreading the truth because I tried to email the same guy again, and I am unable to (all the words disappear) when I hit send. I think this is God's way of telling me that arguing with those who have their heads stuck in the sand is futile.

Response #5:  

Well said!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Some scoffer wrote this to me:

"There are prophecies in the bible that named places and times, they were specific but they failed, how do you account for that? Tyre was never supposed to be rebuilt, but it was. Egypt was supposed to be a desolate wasteland for 40 years, that never happened. The language of Canaan was supposed to be spoken in Egypt, that language died out and was never spoken there. There would always be someone sitting on the throne of David, failed prophecy. There are many more prophecies that failed and the only one you claim came to pass are some vague things. Children being raped was common place in the ancient world. Your bible has been proven wrong so many times. Let the damn thing die already. "

I don't know about you Bob but I keep praying for Jesus to come back tomorrow.

Many thanks - take care

Response #6: 

As to your "scoffer", here is what I read in scripture:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:4-5

The first verse means that it is pointless to get into discussions with fools when it is obvious before the fact that you will only be wasting your breath. The second verse means that if we are in a position of having to give some "answer" for whatever reason, we should be very wise and wary about it, not actually giving "the truth" unvarnished but in parable style if at all, otherwise we will find ourselves in the position of throwing pearls to swine and risk being trampled.

All this seems directly applicable to "scoffer". There are good answers for these often used assaults on the Bible and on its authority, and for Christians who are wanting answers or for unbelievers who are really searching, it is appropriate to explain them. But for someone who says these sorts of things straight out, it is worse than pointless even to get involved in such a discussion. Not only won't such a person listen to your good points, but he/she will think that he/she has defeated you and become more puffed up than ever. This kind of outrageous arrogance – thinking he/she knows all the answers when in fact he/she doesn't have a shadow of a clue – can generally only be cured by the direct intervention of the Lord. So we can pray for such a person, but we are never going to argue these types out of their folly, no matter how good we are at debating. This person makes it very clear by these statements that he/she rejects the authority of the Bible prima facie – but our entire body of evidence for the truth is from the Bible. It's always pointless to argue spiritual points with anyone who isn't even willing to consider that the Bible is the Word of God.

Whether He comes back and raises us collectively or calls us home to Himself individually, that is the only "tomorrow" worth looking forward to, alright. Marana Tha! "Do return, Oh our Lord!" (1Cor.16:22).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hi Roberts, yes you are so right about the scoffers, arguing with him is pointless, but there are young people listening to all these ignorant people that then go along with their dark notions.

Anyway many thanks, best wishes - in the shared love of our glorious Jesus; in Tasmania

Response #7:  

I understand. There is a time to speak up – when it is for someone else' benefit. At such times, we need to make it plain that we are speaking to THEM rather than "taking on" the ogre (this is something I've learned from bitter personal experience). Since that's the case, if there are specific parts of "scoffer's discourse" you'd like help with / answers for, I'd be happy to help.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

I have one more question. How is God educating and punishing people ? Like in Heb.12:6.

Response #8: 

The means available to the Lord are infinite, and are tailored to ever believer individually. If you were a father of young children, you would do your best to tailor the discipline you meted out to them so as to best ensure their proper response and betterment of behavior. Since you live with them, if you did this out of love and intelligently, you would no doubt be able to figure out pretty well (by trial and error if no other way) what sorts of approaches worked best to achieve the result you wanted: well-behaved and well-adjusted children. The Lord is perfect and knows you and I much better than we know ourselves. Therefore He knows just the right means to get us to respond – but He does so in ways that respect our right to choose. This life is all about the choices we make. The closer we are to Him, the more He expects of us and so the closer we grow to Him, the easier it will be to tell when we are in error and being disciplined; those far away receive a different treatment. But the treatment is different for each believer and perfect and perfectly fair for each of us too. The objective the Lord has is just the same one we as good parents have, that is, NOT retribution, but helping our loved ones to understand that their bad course of action is dangerous and self-destructive, and doing our part to keep them from ruining themselves (Prov.13:24; 19:18). For them and for us, the end result if they and we respond is blessed.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

I'm asking mainly which forms God is using for punishing? Illness?

Response #9:  

As I said at the start, "The means available to the Lord are infinite, and are tailored to ever believer individually." That could certainly include illness – or anything else (cf. Jas.5:14-16). But just because someone is sick, doesn't mean that they are suffering divine disciple; Job, for example, was afflicted by the devil – and it was the greatest compliment from the Lord since Job was suffering to demonstrate his faithfulness in spite of events. There is much more about all this at the link: "Principles of Divine Discipline".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Than you for all the responses Dr and it is much appreciated.

Quick question. Can you provide me an explanation of the difference between belief and faith? Are they synonymous? In my concordance, for belief they reference Heb 11:6 and for faith they reference Mark 11:22 as an example.

Thanks always for your help and prayers.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #10:  

It's the same word in both passages: 'pistis'.

"Believe" and "have faith" are two English words/phrases which express the same thing; the problems come in when people misunderstand what is meant in the Bible where such English words occur. People today like to talk about "their faith". I always wonder "faith in WHAT?". The Lord and His truth are the object of Christian faith. We TRUST in Him regardless of what we see or hear or feel – for deliverance in this life and in the next. That is what "our faith" is all about.

Happy Easter to your too, my friend!

In Jesus Christ who died for us that we might rise and live with Him forever.

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Hi Bob,

Based on the Bible, how does God treat skepticism?

"Zechariah asked the angel, 'How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.' The angel said to him, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.'"
(Luke 1:18-20)

= Skepticism being punished by divine judgment.

"Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"
(John 20:29)

= Skepticism not being punished. Jesus/God doesn't say "woe and cursing unto you, for you have no faith!" He only said that those who could believe without seeing were more blessed.

Response #11:  

Faith is a choice. Lack of faith is a choice. Weak faith is a weak choice. Doubting the Lord is always a demonstration of imperfect faith. But it would be impossible to fine-tune some theory about this. Moses had doubts about himself and was reluctant to obey the Lord's call, and that is a subtle form of disbelief (for which the Lord became angry with him) – but he was one of the greatest believers of all time. We don't even really know all the ins and outs of what is going on in our own hearts, how much less what is going on in that of someone else – but God knows.

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
1st John 3:20 NKJV

So strive to be a person of great faith. God's faithfulness is absolute – He is worthy therefore of our absolute trust.

So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
Daniel 6:23b NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

I wanted to ask about the Romans 12:3 (NASB):

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

I’m not exactly clear why Paul uses the expression “as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”. Faith is our free will choice and I’m not sure how to reconcile this fact with Paul’s phrasing. Pulpit provides an explanation which includes a reference to Meyer, but this particular point isn’t clarified:

Why of faith? One might have expected the expression to be, "of grace," as in ver. 6, "according to the grace that is given to us;" or as in Ephesians 4:7, "according to the measure [μτρον, as here] of the gift of Christ." It seems to be because by faith we become receptive of the grace given to each of us. Hence the faith assigned by God to each is regarded as "the regulative standard; the subjective condition" (Meyer) of the several gifts or graces. Cf. also Matthew 17:20 and 1 Corinthians 13:2, where miraculous powers are spoken of as dependent on the amount of faith. Tholuck explains thus: "Faith in an unseen Christ brings man into connection with a world unseen, in which he moves without distinctly apprehending it; and in proportion as he learns to look with faith to that world, the more is the measure of his spiritual powers elevated."

Response #12: 

Yes, the new, secret NIV has made matters worse in many passages.

"Measure of faith"; here is something previously written about this:

I believe that most people/versions are misunderstanding the Greek here in Romans 12:3, taking the word hos as comparative when it should be causal. This word has about a dozen different meanings (in the beginning Greek book I use for my classes there is an appendix just for this word!). In any case, I would translate: "since God has given us all a measure of faith" = we are all believers and have all used the faculty of faith God has given us (i.e., the ability to believe) in order to become believers, therefore we should not "think too much" of ourselves but should "be prudent of thought" inasmuch as we are all brothers. Taking the verse the opposite (traditional) way is not only problematic for the theological reasons you rightly bring up, but it also makes a hash of the context. If the verse really were saying "we all have a different level of faith and it's not our fault, but it's God's apportioning of the amount of faith we have", since this would then seem to be blaming God, then wouldn't that also seem to excuse those who can't really "think prudently" but are inclined to "think arrogantly"? And even if that nonsense could be correct, what would a "relative level of faith" have to do with prudent thinking versus arrogant thinking? Arrogant thinking is a sin that all should/can avoid; prudent thinking is a virtue that all should/can embrace. It just takes commitment to do so.

Question #13: 

On Romans - your explanation and points about the traditional interpretation ignoring the context were very helpful. One question that still remains for me is that even the rendering "since God has given us all a measure of faith" sounds somewhat as if faith was given, as in the traditional view.

Response #13:  

Faith is "a gift" in the sense that life is a gift and the image of God is a gift – that is, the faculty of faith rather the use of faith in a godly way. Deciding to respond to Him in faith in trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation is our proper use of the faith faculty – free will – that all human beings receive.

Question #14: 

Morning and Happy Easter,

Yes, I had a car crash last Tuesday. No one in either car is hurt but I'm bummed out about my car...maybe 3 weeks to fix. I was rear ended totally stopped at a red light but I did not hit the car in front of me. It is a bummer but no significant harm done.

I do not know what to think about U of L but I would think the trust level of the upper powers that be should remain guarded. I do hope you would have allies in high places, but I guess that remains to be seen.

How are you feeling?


Response #14: 

I'm a little "washed out" still today. Managed to get everything done this weekend but had a very hard week so we are hoping for a snow day tomorrow.

I'm happy to hear that you weren't injured, my friend. You've got that guardian angel working overtime!

I certainly agree with you about "remaining guarded". Allies and goodwill are nice things, but "the help of man is useless" (Ps.60:11; 108:12). On the other hand, " the fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat" (2Chron.17:10).

I'll take "the fear of the Lord" over potential human help any day.

Your friend,


Question #15: 

Dear Teacher

Your encouragement is always refreshing, Sir, and I am very grateful for the advice. I will endeavor to be more careful what I place before those that the Lord gives to me to help.

I am very thankful to God that you are doing well. I know that He will never stop bearing you through all these things that you endure. I won't cease from praying for you so that you will never lack any help or resource for fulfilling God's Pleasure in your race, Sir. And thank you so much for your prayers for me and mine. They are a great part of why I continue to be confident that I will one day stand before the Lord unashamed.

I have quite a few questions from my reading of the Bible today. I'm not sure how it is best to present them. I try to limit them by reading any studies or resources you have on the website to help me. They help. I have been using the Matthew resource. I will soon download the Genesis PDF and others that are available. I don't remember now why I didn't download the Genesis. The trouble I had which made me change tactics today was that I found myself just reading Matthew mechanically and then going to the study to decide what I was actually taking away from it. Today, however, I read my Matthew reading and tried to identify what I didn't understand so that I could develop questions about it and see if their answers were in the PDF.

They mostly were but some of the questions have a slight angle on them that made me decide to send them anyway. It will be very all right if you tell me that the PDF suffices in any case. You don't have to answer them all as new questions. Wherever you think there is any reason to add to what you already said in the PDF, however, I will be very grateful to read your response.

I have questions from everywhere too. Not just Matthew. If there is a way I can structure the questions so that they are easier for you to handle along with all your other work, I'll be very happy to oblige. For example, I could just keep developing questions in a Word document and send them one a day or send you the doc maybe at the end of the week and you can answer them at your convenience during the next week? Please let me know how it could work for you.

For today, these are the ones I have:

1 Corinthians 7:34 NASB
The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

What does the italicised mean? Why does Paul make those distinctions about what the Lord's command is and what his own opinion is in 1 Corinthians 7? What is the functional value in it? Why does the Holy Spirit lead him to write that way?

Response #15:  

You are most welcome, my friend. And I didn't mean to imply that you were "out of line" in any way in your discourse (which was very good). It is a blessing that someone you care about is also interested in the truth. I am only eager to promote that interest without giving any offense on matters which are secondary and not primary. Someone who really does want the truth, however, will most likely "put aside the bones" of his/her own accord in any case.

On questions, do feel free to send then whenever and however you please. If ever I am swamped with work (it does happen), I'll get to them when I can. Longer lists take me longer to do so sometimes I do take a long time to get to them. I have been working on a very long list for our brother for almost a year now! I'm happy to do it and enjoy it, but I do have to pace projects in a balanced way with everything else that's needing to get done. So, for example, Saturdays I rarely answer emails inasmuch as I'm concentrating on posting (and sometimes my job becomes overly hectic and slows down response time too).

On this set, I take "body and spirit" to mean "completely", that is, with everything that is in her and without distraction. Body and spirit are the two elements of every human being; splitting them like this merely emphasizes the totality of the commitment (obviously, I can't do anything with only my body or only my spirit). Compare the following verse where likewise the different elements combine to mean "leaving no part of yourself out":

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

Question #16: 

Is it not possible for the married person to be the same? I assume that Paul was not teaching that it isn't but I confess a little worry about what the text says.  I didn't understand your answer with respect to this question, Sir. I was wondering why Paul bothered to make a distinction between what the Lord was commanding and what he himself was teaching.

Response #16: 

The point is that for married people their "interests are divided" (1Cor.7:34a) and Paul is zealous to have believers live in "undivided devotion to the Lord" (1Cor.7:35). This is how things are in principle but practice may be different. For example, Peter was married, Job was married, David was married (many times), Moses was married. Pretty good company to be in, I would say. Being married didn't keep these men from being in the very top echelon of believers all-time, a rank to which the rest of us can only dimly aspire. And on the other hand, if we NEED to be married (and that may be true for a variety of reasons), then not being married may prove a bigger hindrance and a bigger stumbling block than any benefit from not being married might potentially provide. Indeed, the latter is usually the case according to how I read what Paul says in verse two of this chapter and what the Lord said when He made Eve: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen.2:18 NIV).

On 1st Corinthians 7:10 – "(not I, but the Lord)", I take that to be Paul's way of reminding the Corinthians that this particular command occurs in the gospels; since it comes from the Lord, it has even greater authority. We today, you and I and all serious, godly Christians, understand that the epistles are part of the Word of God with every bit as much authority as any other book of scripture, but when this letter arrived in Corinth at the time it is possible (even probable) that there were many who did not see things that way yet (we know, for example, that Paul had to direct more correctives toward that congregation than other recorded in his epistles; e.g., 1Cor.4:18-21; 2Cor.12:20-21).

Question #17: 

I noticed in one of your emails, Sir, that you think that 2 Corinthians 2:1-11 is a follow-up on 1 Corinthians 5 so that 2 Corinthians is a letter that followed 1 Corinthians. I have always thought the same. But what about 1 Corinthians 5:9 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18? Could the former have been referring to the latter? The passage in 2 Corinthians was in the NASB footnote for 1 Corinthians 5:9 along with passages in Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians.

Response #17:  

On 1st Corinthians 5:9 and 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18, they clearly are related to the same issue; that doesn't mean, however, that the latter is a direct follow-up to the former. Obviously, Paul still found fault with or was concerned about this congregation having a too close connection to the world, but that is a problem for most groups of believers most places so that others are inspired to warn about it as well (e.g., 1Jn.2:15-16; Jas.4:4). Paul sometimes also hammers home particular themes even to different congregations. For example, if you read Ephesians and Colossians together, you will find a number of similar passages. We all are alike in that we all need to know the whole truth of the Word of God, so repetition and rephrasing of points of truth is a blessing and in fact a necessity. As you observe later, you may have found helpful material in the treatments of the gospels at Ichthys, but even when a question was addressed there were times when you had a slightly different angle you wanted to know about. Therefore even similar treatments of similar issues always yield new and important insights into the truth, for all those willing to "do the digging".

Question #18: 

Is it possible to translate the principle that Paul uses for marriage here into other things in our lives, that is, the principle that we should limit the distractions that we must endure as far as we have the ability (or gift?) to? So, if you are able to stay unmarried without "burning", you should. Likewise, if you are able to (do one thing or other or abstain from this or that) in order to focus on Christ with few distractions, then you should, according to the gift of God in you. Is this about right?

Response #18: 

I think this is true in principle but I wouldn't say as you have put it "we should limit". Rather, if we have the desire and the capacity, limitation of distractions will make focus on and engagement in things which glorify Christ more doable. But casting things out of our lives which are potentially distracting not sinful (of course we should cast out everything sinful) will not in and of itself result in us using the time and energy in the right way. If that were the case, then monasticism would have been a great success; as it is, it was one of the most disastrous things the church-visible ever engaged in.

I have often noticed in my own life both personally and in the case of others that often times more gets done when there is less time and energy to deal with more necessary tasks, but that when the pressure is off and suddenly there is more time and energy available oftentimes that doesn't translate into commensurately more production for the Lord – and sometimes actually ends up with the person doing less than he/she was doing when put under pressure. We want to run the best race we can for the Lord. But if we become legalistic about "giving up things", that will probably produce pride as well as misery, and result in the stifling of true growth, progress and production instead of helping up. Also, if we pridefully attempt to give up things we can't actually handle being without, we are going to fail in this endeavor miserably and set ourselves back both spiritually and in other practical ways.

If I am training a horse, I will not produce a better running horse by starving him of what he needs to eat, e.g., nor will I make him a better racer by over-taxing him with exercise, especially if it damages him physically. The Lord knows what is good for us and what we can handle. If we listen to the Spirit and apply some spiritual common sense to the situation, we will be able to distinguish good and prudent changes made with a balanced approach from foolish and arrogant sweeping changes made without reasonable assessment of the consequences. For example, if I spend all day every Saturday playing bridge (plug in anything desirable), limiting myself to an hour or two a week will not represent a radical change in my life but it will free up a good deal of time which COULD be used to learn more about the truth and serve the Lord better; whereas proclaiming that I will never play any game or watch any game or do anything "fun" ever again would be a dangerously arrogant thing to say/do, even if five years later that is mostly how things end up. In fact it is much better if these changes we make to focus on what really counts happen organically and incrementally rather than dramatically and all at once. If I find myself spending less time studying botany (e.g.) because I'm excited to be learning about the Lord when I have to the chance to do so instead, that is a far superior result than proclaiming I'm giving up botany for the Lord – because I will end up feeling bad about the latter no doubt, and will not actually use all the time I've theoretically gained to glorify Him.

Question #19: 

What was our Lord teaching with the record of the rich young ruler? I assume that the "go sell all you have and give to the poor and come follow me" statement was a test to expose his true heart to him. But what exactly did it expose? What was this test exactly? Was it that he did not truly value "Life" or "the Kingdom" or "Heaven" as he thought that he did? Because if indeed "enter[ing] into Life" meant as much to him as it should, his wealth would be of less comparable value to him, so he would be willing to give it up if need be to "enter into Life"? Could he be like the ground of thorns and thistles that choke the Word and render it unproductive? Somehow, this reflects back in my mind to his "asking [Jesus] about what is good" or "call[ing] [Jesus] good" (Luke 18:19). There is this thought in my mind that his calling Jesus good or asking him about what is good was what our Lord used to make clear to him what he was really saying: that he was essentially equating our Lord with God and treating His Teachings as the Word of God. Therefore, if he truly believed that our Lord was qualified to speak for God, then he should be prepared to obey Him fully. For that reason, when he turned away after he was told to sell all he had, give it away and come follow our Lord to enter into Life and gain Heavenly rewards, he was in fact turning his back on God and doing it knowingly. Is this a correct appreciation of that passage?

Also, does the passage teach then that even having kept the law as one should: recognizing by it that one is a sinner in need of the Grace of God and doing one's best anyway to adhere to its teachings, one could still come to a crisis point where realizing that accepting the free Gift of God in Christ is the only way to be saved especially considering that accepting that Gift means giving up every claim that one may pretend to have on personal qualification for God's Justification, one may not wish to take the natural next step and cast themselves on Christ? I think of Cornelius as a sort of contrast to the rich young ruler. Both of them followed the Law but when that which the Law pointed to arrived, where the rich young ruler turned back, Cornelius went forward and embraced Christ. Am I reading all this right?

Response #19:  

There are some questions within questions here which I may not address so do feel free to write back. Let me tell you what I think of our Lord's command here: He is causing the man to focus on the true issue. Now there are plenty of lukewarm Christians in the world (along with many who are Christians only in name), but our Lord wants us to be "red hot" for Him and for His truth. No one will ever be perfect here, but if a Christian's whole approach to the Lord and to the truth is what my old pastor used to call the "nod to God" approach, stingily portioning out a small part of oneself to the Lord and nothing more, little good will come of it. It doesn't mean the person isn't or won't be saved – that depends on whether he/she truly has faith in Christ. But it does mean that the Christian in question is deliberately cultivating weeds rather than chopping them down so that the good crop may grow.

This man wanted to be a "somebody" in Christ's circle but without having to endure the hardships and pay the price that went with this. Peter and company had "left everything" for Christ's sake (e.g., Matt.19:27). This man wanted to "have his cake and eat it too", as we say, and our Lord's requirement for becoming one of the inner circle was that the man let go of what it was that binding him to the world with a love of the world so as to be able to effectively serve the kingdom. This he was unwilling to do, something that does not mean he was an unbeliever, nor does it mean that he did not later come to serve the Lord in a way that will be greatly rewarded (cf. Matt.21:28-32), but it did serve to reveal that his commitment to the Lord was not a full one, not a "red hot" one, and really only a lukewarm one.

So we do not want to read into this passage that we all have to go sell what we have if we want to serve the Lord (we are never told to do that), but should read into it that if we want to serve the Lord in a truly effective way and earn a good reward then we need to be able to do that or whatever else the Lord actually asks of us or leads us to (Lk.14:33). We owe Jesus everything – He died for everyone of our sins otherwise we would lost, and we were not able to die for a single one. Putting Him first in this temporary, rotten world is the least we can do.

Question #20: 

It seems interesting to me that in verse 28, the text in NASB says "regeneration". NIV1984 says "renewal of all things". Then it goes on to add inheritance of eternal life apparently as an addition to what the apostles will gain at "regeneration" or "renewal of all things". That seems to me to mean that both terms speak of the Millennium . Do they in fact?

Response #20:  

You are right. The word palingenesia ("rebirth / resurrection") goes with what follows, not with what precedes (as some versions such as NASB have wrongly construed it).

Question #21: 

In verse ten, the disciples say that it is better not to marry if the man is not free to divorce his wife for any reason he pleases. Then the Lord answers in the verses following with talk of eunuchs. Could He be saying (in addition to what you said in the PDF) there that they could hardly be eunuchs instead since they are not free to have sex outside of marriage anyway? That is, it is not really better not to marry since they were not likely to become eunuchs as the only other alternative.  I was asking if our Lord may have been saying to the disciples that they were not likely to become eunuchs instead of being married just because they were not free to divorce their wives as they pleased. Granted that he was teaching them that some people were eunuchs for a variety of reasons including for the sake of the Kingdom of God, what prompted the talk? They had just commented that it was better not to marry if a man was not free to divorce his wife for any reason he liked. What was the connection between their response to his teaching on divorce and his subsequent talk about eunuchs?

Response #21:  

I don't know that we know the marital status of all of the eleven/twelve at that time. Peter was married (Matt.8:14), but I don't know about the others. Our Lord is agreeing that "if one can receive it", being a functional eunuch, that is, remaining celibate (not physically altering oneself) is "better", not because of the reasons the disciples were imagining, namely, that without this power the husband's authority was probably going to be diminished to the point that the marriage would be miserable for him (in their view), but because without the encumbrance of a wife and children and the necessity of supporting them physically and emotionally more time and energy would be available for serving the kingdom; but this is to be understood in light of what we discussed above – which is why our Lord closes the reproof with "He who is able to accept it, let him accept it" (Matt.19:12 NKJV).

Question #22: 

Why did the disciples rebuke those bringing children? Could it be because children can be noisy and difficult to manage? Or did they take exception to the "liberties" those people were taking just like the man who was doing miracles in the Name of our Lord but who did not follow them? Can we guess one way or another? And what exactly does our Lord mean by "the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these"? I wondered at first if it meant that believers are necessarily like children because of their Faith (and I'm now very certain that it meant that from your response in the PDF). But could it also mean that the Millennium will start with an almost exclusive population of children?

Response #22: 

The disciples no doubt saw part of their role in the traditional sense of the servants of the prophets who sought to protect their prophet from being unnecessarily burdened or wrongly approached (cf. 2Ki.4:27). Our Lord's statement about the kingdom of heaven belonging "to such" does indeed mean that we believers have to have the same child-like faith and enthusiasm: we ought to accept the truth with joy and without the undue skepticism and sour rationalism that adults are wont to have based upon a lifetime of disappointing experiences and arrogant presumption about their own importance. As to "could it also mean that the Millennium will start with an almost exclusive population of children?", that is an interesting observation. The Millennium may indeed start out with a disproportionately large number of children but not "almost exclusively" children by any means. Still, were I teaching the passage, the observation that "many children will enter the Millennium while their parents (who took the mark) will not", would not be an inapt one to make.

Question #23: 

 (The Matthew PDF answered this one too. I wonder if the fact that all the laborers were paid and there was no mention of anyone actually rejecting their pay means that this cannot apply to the Jews at the Second Advent including those who still reject Christ.)

Does Matthew 20:1-16 speak of Jewish and Gentile believers with perhaps the Jews who are offered Salvation first failing to receive it because it was equally offered to the Gentiles so that because the Gentiles joyfully receive it when it is offered to them last, they go into the Kingdom (experience the Millennium in resurrection as part of the Bride) ahead of the Jews who only come in as Friends of the Bride when they should have been among the first? Is that what our Lord was speaking of here? Is there more? Are the times (early in the morning, third hour, sixth, ninth and eleventh) significant? Perhaps speaking of the Plan of Salvation throughout human history? Is it also possible that it is the envy spoken of here that results in many Jews still rejecting Christ at the Second Advent? Because it is still a very hard thing to imagine that they could see their King and Messiah manifest in such a powerful and undeniable way and still reject Him. The cause must be some very deeply held rebellion against Him that remains implacable in spite of how He shows Himself to be firmly on Israel's side at Armageddon, right?

Response #23:  

See the link: "The parable of the workers" . The main point is that the "first shall be last" (this "frames" the parable at Matt.19:30 and 20:16), namely, that many in this life who seem to the secular world to be "great" in the kingdom of heaven will receive little or no reward, while many who are toiling in obscurity are really doing His will and will be greatly rewarded.

Question #24: 

Does Matthew 20:23 teach that each position in the Kingdom was prepared for a specific individual and therefore we should not aspire to positions like James and John did? Or does it teach that every effort has a reward prepared for it so that how hard we strive to accomplish God's Will in our lives - to learn the Truth, believe it, obey it and help others do the same as far as we can with our specific gifts and opportunities - determines which place is ours in the coming Kingdom? In other words, by our commitment to God's Will in this, we choose for ourselves what our places will be. So it is not that God has assigned places to us and we cannot do anything about it. But rather, He has prepared for each believer a place and a reward which in his foreknowledge is what that believer will choose anyway.

Response #24: 

The plan of God has taken everything into account. On the one hand, therefore, these positions are "prepared" for those whose they are; on the other hand, "those" get them because of what they have accomplished for the Lord in this life. Your mansion in the New Jerusalem has already been "prepared" for you; we will have to wait to see what neighborhood it is in (but I'm betting it's a very good one indeed).

Question #25: 

Is it normal that our Lord could give a parable which has details that we should not be too careful to align with some interpretation?

Response #25:  

I'm not sure I would put it that way. What I would say is that it is in the nature of parables that ALL of the details do not always have symbolic meaning – in fact that is seldom the case. In the parable at hand, the marketplace doesn't seem to have particular significance; the fact that all the workers are men does not say to me that this cannot be applied to women; the fact that the man doing the hiring has a steward and has him call the workers does not seem to me to be a critical point needing to be explained. Parables teach greater truths through applying the truths in question to an everyday situation wherein the KEY points are parallel. Mind you, it is possible to find exegetes who make it their business to apply every single detail to something or other, and in doing so more often introduce distractions from the key points then helping; but it is also true that sometime a key point is missed by not considering some detail. My approach is to search for the main idea the parable is teaching and subordinate all of the details to that main idea or point. Over time, it has been confirmed for me as the right approach as I see it.

Question #26: 

Psalm 9 is a Messianic psalm about the Millennium, Sir, isn't it? Psalm 10:16-18 also sounds like the Millennium. Or am I just seeing it everywhere because I like it so much?

Response #26: 

Psalm 9 is most definitely Messianic – and the promise of the kingdom is "everywhere" in the OT. Psalm 10:16 is certainly a millennial promise in that it will not be completely fulfilled until that time.

Question #27: 

Howdy Dr Luginbill,

I am sorry I haven't emailed in a while, I don't really have any questions to ask. But I am still reading Ichthys. I didn't want you to think I fell into a vortex or something. I didn't know if it's rude, dropping off for a while.

Anyway, I hope all is well.

Response #27:  

I don't think you're rude! Nor do I think it's rude not to be in constant contact.

I'm happy to have you as a fellow believer in Christ.

Hope things are going well – I do keep you in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28: 

Thank you! I don't think I deserve to be prayed for daily; I feel like I fail 9/10 tests and keep getting knocked off my attempted schedule to read the Bible, Ichthys, and at least pray, and do Greek if there is any time left. I get knocked down. But I will keep trying. I think I just need to read the Bible more and sleep more at least, before the other bits. I look forward to the next posting.

Response #28: 

You're most welcome. None of us "deserves" anything – but we get everything we need because of God's grace. That is the right perspective to hold onto. Don't look to the left or the right. When you get knocked down, get back up and keep punching. If we persevere, we can and likely will get better at this fight. But we have to stay in the fight. That is what the glorious eternal rewards we hope for are awarded for.

Stay in the fight, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29: 

I was on the Brown line (on the 'L') and the electric train conductor did an extremely fast turn that almost derailed. Yes, everyone except for me did scream (I am not a screamer and have a rather stoic face always, even in the face of death).

Response #29:  

God loves you indeed! And He has given you the heritage of the servants of the Lord so that the evil one is not allowed to "take you out" before you finish your race (Is.54:17).

"For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ "
Acts 27:23-24

Keep this in mind whenever you are tempted to doubt; and remember that to whom much is given, from them much is expected (Lk.12:48).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #30: 

Ever since my dear friend died, I have been experiencing death anxiety.

Youth is no protection against death. I can die from an accident, being murdered, direct divine judgment or various other ways. Thankfully the last one has been very rare. Dying young is shameful. However, there doesn't seem to be any correlation to virtue and age of death: Mao Zedong died a rich, healthy old man at the ripe old age of 82. Yet I don't want to die like Ahab, as an expression of God's metaphorical disgust. What does death mean? It means God is finished using me. What if God wants to use me to convert someone and then end my life then and there, and it turns out that that was the entire purpose of my life?

Response #30:  

I have also been very much affected by untimely deaths throughout my life. Of my grandfather when I was only three or so (it caused me to become a believer), of my "locker mate" in high school (which gave me a chance to reevaluate how and what I was thinking, but that required a lot more intervention by the Lord over a long period of time to accomplish), and of a dear friend in graduate school (this ministry is a result of that last shock – although I went through a protracted period of distress as a result before things clarified). So I do understand. What I would ask you to remember is that God loves you and the Lord has a plan for you – and no one is going to "take you out" before the time, no matter how things may look. And none of us understand all the details of the plan.

John the baptist, one of the greatest believers who ever lived, didn't understand why he was in prison for so long (he was providing "cover" for our Lord's ministry) and faltered in his faith as a result; and he was "taken out" at just the right time – to allow for the last year of our Lord's ministry, "the year of opposition" as it is often called, to culminate in the cross which saves us all. But from reading the gospels many times, I'm pretty sure that John "didn't see it coming" when he was summarily beheaded at Salome's request. Some of us will live to stand on the Mount of Olives and see the Lord return and be resurrected without seeing death at all. Others will be martyred during the Tribulation. And some will be "brought home" without having to suffer either martyrdom or the full Tribulation (Is.57:1-2). Which way it goes is the Lord's choice and He knows what He is doing. The plan of God is absolutely perfect, and all the more for us for who He is "working it all out for good" (Rom.8:28). So it doesn't mean we have failed if we are taken home – there are good reasons for the when and the why. Our job is to trust the Lord that He is faithful and working things out just right at all times. Once we accept that, death holds no more terror for us since we know that nothing but good is on the other side.

But I'm grateful for you and for the Lord sparing you, and if I had to guess I would guess that you're going to be in it for the long haul.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31: 

Actually, the question was "what is love." His two greatest commandments seems to cover it – but when there are people you dislike, what becomes the standard? That led to a train of thought all the way back to the ten commandments and then, exactly who commanded them and how does it relate to 2 John 1:6.

Response #31:  

As to love, the Greek word for love used in the New Testament for all these passages is agape / agapao. This is not the most common secular Greek word for love and means something less personal and emotional than the more common word philia / phileo. It is true that they are synonyms, but the thrust of the more common NT word group is tolerance rather than emotional ecstasy.

We are often well-advised to love the unlovely "from a distance", not doing anything to harm them, perhaps praying for them, treating them as we would wish to be treated (which does not necessarily include developing a personal relationship with them). We want for all what God wants for all: salvation and spiritual growth. To the extent that we can contribute to that (by sharing the gospel with unbelievers and by ministering in accordance with our gifts to believers), we should definitely do so. Getting lovey-dovey with perfect strangers is insane, and allowing unvetted others into our personal business is bad judgment. Friendship is a matter of selective choice; love, especially for other believers, is a biblical mandate that is fulfilled in a practical way, not an emotional one.

Our love for the Lord likewise begins with doing what He tells us to do. It's no good to sing about how much we love Jesus and at the same time not being dedicated to spiritual growth, progress and production (or being un-sanctified in our behavior). But after we get to a certain level of growth we will find – if we haven't already – that truly following Him is quite emotional (in a good way); likewise, with growth, we will find joy in loving others the right way, without at the same time mistaking emotion for love and getting involved too closely with those whom spiritual common sense tells us to avoid.

Question #32: 

Dear Dr Luginbill,

My grandfather died. I know you prayed for him. The way they described him at the last part is difficult for me to think about. I am afraid I will go that way too. Many times I have been alone and if at the end I become like that I will lose God as well (to my mind then) and it seems cruel. But from now on my relationship with him (when I do go) will be perfect, and that will be very nice (understatement). I don't care much for the treasures or status, it is more about an end to loneliness and suffering and brokenness. It isn't a sin right (to not really care about those things)? I wouldn't even notice being at the bottom (I don't think) if such great men as the apostles were at the top.


Response #32: 

I'm keeping you in my prayers.

One of the things I've learned in my life is that people can be nice to have around and be around but they are not the solution to loneliness and lack of purpose. The Lord and serving Him is our true purpose and the more we respond to Him the less lonely we will be. That is for two reasons: 1) because of our relationship with Him growing day by day – and nothing is better than that; and 2) because in the course of responding to Him, as we grow, as we pass the tests that bring us to maturity and beyond, we will be led into ministry and that will bring us into contact with many good Christians of the sort we would never probably encounter otherwise.

I am encouraged by your attitude towards the world and your disdain for worldly things. As you keep moving forward spiritually, that will be a great benefit in implementing all of the necessary adjustments that growth, test-passing and search for and engagement in ministry brings.

Looking forward to cheering you on as you are rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ.

Your friend in Jesus, our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #33: 

Dear sir,

His mind deteriorated towards the end. I am afraid of that. I can handle the idea of a torn pained body (I mean I have been hit and such before), but I don't know about mind. I don't want to lose my mind, but the right thing is to trust God even if I do lose my mind, that He will still pull me through and not let me do something too bad in a bad mental state. Thanks for your prayers! I know God must listen to them.

Take care,

Response #33:  


I agree absolutely. It's not something we need to worry about – because we don't need to worry about anything (Matt.6:31).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #34: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill -

I always look forward to my daily studies at Ichthys, and especially anticipate Saturdays for your weekly email postings on various topics. Thank you.

This week's theme and emails had me want to jump in and encourage those struggling with difficult situations, curve-balls, struggles, attacks - and walking by faith. I understand. Although the below is not suited for public posting on Ichthys, I wanted to share and chime in that I am praying for our brothers and sisters facing adversity and finding their footing in faith.

A few years back I sent the message below to friends who needed encouragement and I wanted to share it with you too. Dr. Luginbill, I have not spent the majority of my life facing struggles, spiritual attacks, setbacks etc - but facing faith. I look at it just the opposite. The Lord is not asking me to face the fight, but to turn it around and face my faith. It was no different than when He asked me to forgive people from my past. He said, "Stop looking at man who may never seek forgiveness, but look into my face who is asking." How much easier to forgive? The ones who wronged me or looking into the face of the Father who is asking me?

Anyway, below is the post sent to friends (lengthy but worth the read - and so praiseworthy - a really, really good God).

[Details omitted]

I faltered for a moment before committing, but my mom made a comment that struck me. She said, “It looks like you are at your Red Sea. Walk by faith.”

It dawned on me that when God softened Pharaoh’s heart and he agreed to release the Israelites from years of captivity (God heard their cries, He answered their prayers) - and they left town swiftly, God led them directly to the Red Sea. HE led them there. Me too. The faith moment. The walk by faith in trusting God moment. Why would my story be any different as a privileged child of the living God?

My word has been known to be broken. God’s NEVER is. God IS faithful to fulfill His promises and to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond anything we can hope, dream or imagine.

What Red Sea are you facing?

You are more than welcome to post and remove any details that may be too personal or revealing.

Blessings to you and yours!

Response #34: 

Thanks for your good words – and for your wonderful and uplifting testimony!

God is good!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #35: 

Good morning, Dr. Luginbill

I have been offered a job as a Teaching Assistant for an Intro to Philosophy course her. In light of receiving and then subsequently accepting this job offer, a curious quandary has come to pester my mind.

Now, this class that I will be teaching is not limited to Plato. I also will be teaching the skeptical ideas of Descartes and the theories of Hume. With this being said, my issue arises that, since I will be assisting with the teaching of this philosophy course, and I already know that Plato will be part of the required curriculum, will I not be teaching lies, since many of these philosophers were pagan to the core and possessed not even a smidgen of an inkling for the existence of God? Granted, I know that above all God ordered history to take the route it did, and His influence is more than apparent in the writings and ideas of our own Founding Fathers. I do not wish to suggest that the Greeks and Romans alone were the guiding force for the West’s growth. However, these philosophers affirm in some cases that their views of the world are the ‘one and only’. And by teaching these viewpoints, even those beyond the Greeks and Romans (such as in the case of Descartes and Hume), am I not expounding pagan views? What then, if these works exist as nothing more than propaganda pieces of secular ideals, would be these philosophies’ use?

I must also add that my instructor does not necessarily wish to propagate that these philosophers are altogether right, nor does he necessarily want his students to agree with his own viewpoints regarding said philosophers.

I ask this because you have experience in the realm of Human Science and Humanities and, since I will be dipping my feet in one of your areas of expertise, if you can offer any advice.

Thank you and I await your reply.


Response #35:  

It's good to hear from you – and hearty congratulations on your recent graduation and also on your TA-ship! That is quite a compliment especially in philosophy these days since resources are scant in the humanities in general.

I suppose the first thing I might note is something I often say to readers of Ichthys when they are concerned about similar issues. That is that it is hard to be Simon pure in this life. We all need to work, and scripture is very clear on that point. And while it is true that some professions are illegal (drug dealer, e.g.), I suppose it is also true that very few jobs can be done well without any sort of compromise if one is searching for absolute purity. Waitresses serve people food that is no good for them, or too much of it, or alcohol – in excess (if that is what they order). Paul made tents – but he had no idea what use they might be put to.

Let me put it this way. If I were teaching 20th century German history, it would of course be necessary to teach about the Nazi regime. To do that well would necessitate explaining many unpleasant and uncomfortable things, including dispelling a number of popular notions that might be incorrect. Clearly, that would not make me a supporter or an advocate. And what is the alternative? Skip it? If all took that view then in short order we would know nothing about that evil regime at all, and I don't think that would be good.

Philosophy, historical philosophy (I know next to nothing about analytical philosophy), is of immense importance in the history of the west and so of the world as you rightly demonstrate. The fact that some of the things taught were wrong, or dangerous or unpleasant to consider today is of little importance in my view . . . because it is still so important for any educated person to know at least something about the major figures and their doctrines.

You mention Plato, and it is difficult to imagine a more critical figure, and not just for philosophy. Socrates (and it is of course difficult to disentangle him from Plato) was the first philosopher in west in the sense in which we use the word today, but of course he was preceded by the first scientists, the so-called pre-Socratics, who were the first to begin to look at the world from an empirical as opposed to a mythological point of view. They are important to study too, even though their science would be found wanting by today's scientists (just as the science of today's scientists will be found wanting by tomorrow's).

In many important ways, Plato and the Sophists he abhorred split up Greek humanistic inquiry into two camps which are still sparing with each other today: Rhetoric and Philosophy. The former focused on practical application, not the search for a moral compass, while the latter claimed to be unconcerned with practicalities and concentrated on deeper questions of ethics et al. In truth, however, all rhetoricians want to get something done and so do have ethical motives of one kind or another – some underlying philosophy, that is – while on the other hand all philosophers did actually want to change things too, so they do engage in rhetoric in virtually all philosophical works in antiquity (and Plato of course wanted to redesign government). Two brothers fighting it out.

But Plato occupies a special place because of his reception. No one had more influence in antiquity or spawned more spin-off movements . . . and that continues right up until the present day. Many of the church fathers in both east and west were, if not some type of Platonist, heavily influenced by Plato's writings. To understand them is not really possible without understanding Plato. And how can one understand Marx and communism without Plato? It certainly doesn't mean we have to agree, but knowing is better than not knowing. That is what being a teacher, on whatever level, is all about, after all.

This issue you ask about is something you would have to come to terms with should you decide to make the academy your career. Personally, I don't have a problem teaching about the Greeks and Romans, flawed though they were. Anyone who is the least bit introspective should be able to see by contrast their own (and our own) strengths and weaknesses through that contrast. This is, after all, the fundamental principle of liberal education, namely, to learn by studying things that one would otherwise need many life-times to learn by personal experience.

It's not the same as teaching the Bible, but there is value in it, in my considered opinion. I have had no problem finding ways to teach what is important and still be true to myself and my Lord. If you accurately teach what is factually true (as in the Nazi example), then not only are you not guilty of teaching lies, especially if you make it clear that you not endorsing those facts, but instead you are helping others to learn by historical example – to the end that they might not make the same mistakes themselves. I disagree with most of Plato – but that is the case with most other philosophers as well. Doesn't mean they are not good to read for reasons suggested above.

I hope this is of some small help to you.

Do feel free to write me back any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #36: 

Hello again,

Was just reading your emails on the Old Testament and came across this question on "how do we seek the face of God"?

Here is something I want to share and get your thoughts on what you think about it.

1. I too had for some time a question on this very subject. How do I see the face of God? But there came a day when I believe I received insight into what this really means.

2. Well, here are my conclusions. God has given us His Word to tell us about Himself, what He looks like, and what He acts like, what His character is like, etc. I am of course putting these things in human terms. We see with our eyes what the face of God looks like when we read, study, meditate, and apply His Word to our lives.

3. We see His righteousness, holiness, grace, mercy, will, in other words, what does He look like. He is of course, pure love. Jesus said that when "He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." Now, we don't really comprehend all these characteristics, because we cannot see Him spiritually speaking. But He has given us His Word to let us get a glimpse of what "He looks like".

4. Isaiah got a small glimpse of God's holiness in Isaiah chapter 6, and that small glimpse that he had made Him proclaim "Woe is me...".

5. To me the Word of God is like a mirror. When we "look" at it we can see how God sees us, we can see His face, and we endeavor to mimic in our small part, these characteristics God has: "Be ye Holy, for I Am Holy".

6. When Paul wrote about the man who was taken into the Third Heaven, he stated that this individual could not write about the things "he saw", because he was not permitted, and he did not have the words to put in human terms what he saw. I also think he did not understand them, because they were supernatural things.

Well, I know that we can also "Seek Him and find Him when we search with all our hearts" in prayer, and in our daily lives. Just my thoughts to share with you to see your comments on what you think about them.

Hope you are doing very well and blessed.

As we await for that meeting in the air,

Your friend,

Response #36: 

Thanks for this. It's very encouraging to see your growth in the Word, and particularly your growth in the ministering of the Word. The folks you are teaching are certainly blessed to have you! At some point I'll get around to posting this.

Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ, my friend.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #37: 

Our faith heroes in Hebrews 11 displays acts of obedience. What would be the result should Noah not have build the ark? What would be the result should the walking around Jericho not have taken place? Should I rather refer to the 'acts of obedience' as a good testimony to minimize or nullify a 'works' perception? I am not a 'works) person, but do see a doing aspect to our faith which is as James reiterates; "... I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18c).

Response #37:  

In terms of "works", biblically speaking everything we think, say and do is a "work". Therefore everything we think, say and do that is proper and/or a response to the truth the Lord has given us is a "godly work", whereas everything which is not is not. If we are truly believers, we will think about the Lord, we will read our Bibles, we will pray, we will offer a word of encouragement in the Lord, we will learn the truth from a good teaching ministry so as to grow (ideally) – all "good works". True faith in trusting the Lord is where it all starts – and the believers in Hebrews chapter eleven are all commended for their faith first and foremost, with whatever physical acts they have accomplished listed in some of the cases being a result of that faith and trust in the Lord for which they come in for praise.

The problem with "works" as it is generally thought about in contemporary Christendom is that for most people the word connotes acts of what we would call (traditional / secularly understood) "charity" and things done in and for the local church/denomination. Now some of these things might possibly be biblical "good works", but that would depend upon a) the worthiness of the recipient, and b) the attitude and spiritual status of the doer. In the vast majority of cases of what the world thinks of as "charity", for example, the recipient is an organization with much to answer for, doing little good in fact for all the Pharisaical and public trumpeting of what they say they are doing, while most who give to such organizations, even putative Christians, often do so for the wrong reasons and from the wrong motivations – thinking they will get something from the Lord for it, for example, or seeking to gild their public profile by letting it be known what they have given (wherein, like the Pharisees, they already have their rewards).

Bottom line: it doesn't matter what you call it as long as you understand what it really is and means – along with those you may be communicating some point of truth related thereto.  Doing what the Lord wants you to do reaps a good reward.  Doing what the world tells you is "blessed" does not if it is not what He wants you to do, even if everyone else calls it "charity" or "good".

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"
Matthew 25:21 NIV


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