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Believers in the World IX

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Question #1: 

Hi Bob,

I know of some who are afraid to participate in the Lord's supper because they feel unworthy. John MacArthur warned his congregation that they should examine themselves and used the passage in the bible very many fell asleep in the church at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 1:10 said to be of "one mind" and no divisions, so I was wondering if this is stating that there is NOT an option to not participate in the Lord's Supper. And in Matthew 26:27, Jesus said "drink ye all of it", which also included Judas also. So, is there a biblical mandate on whether everyone should participate on the Lord's Supper whether they are worthy of it or not?

God Bless,

Response #1:  

We should all want to celebrate Jesus Christ and no Christian who is walking with Him should fear to do so, but no one is "worthy". The passage is warning believers who are out of fellowship with the Lord because of unrepented, unconfessed sin not to engage in this solemn ceremony which proclaims our love and remembrance of Him.

Please read this link: "The Last Supper"

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Bob,

You wrote:  ". . .as in the case of the jealousy evoked by the response of Gentiles to the Gospel, Acts 17:5 . . .".

If the Jews were so convinced that Jesus was a false messiah...then why would they be jealous if some unrelated people group thinks otherwise? That would be thinking "Ooh, that group of people believes something that I think is false and stupid and I would really like to believe that too!" That is insane.

And if they didn't think it was false and stupid, then why didn't they admit that they should believe in that?


Response #2: 

In many ways, jealousy (aka envy) is the quintessential sin of the sin nature.

(4) You adulteresses (i.e., immoral people of both sexes)! Do you not know that friendship with the world is inimical to God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world establishes himself as an enemy of God. (5) Or do you assume that the Scripture (i.e., Gal.5:17) says to no purpose "The Spirit" which dwells in you "sets its desire against" [such] envy [emanating from the sin nature, a situation rampant among you (as is evident from the examples given in verses 1-4)]? (6) But [God] "gives grace [which is] greater" [than all these temptations] (i.e., in the provision of the Spirit which resists the flesh). That is why it says, "God opposes the arrogant, but He gives grace to the humble".
James 4:4-6

Jealousy is inextricably bound up with pride, but can be provoked even when there is nothing whatsoever to be proud about. It is a kind of negative-balance pride, desiring to see the abasement of others who do have something one sees as superior. E.g., envy/jealousy is the root of the desire for money which is itself the root of "all manner of evils (1Tim.6:10)".

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV

And in fact, this envy/jealousy on Israel's part – the rancor felt because of mere gentiles being preferred to themselves, they who were the seed of Abraham, after all, was prophesied by the Lord to occur precisely because Israel (in the main) was unwilling to respond to Him.

But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.” (Deut.32:21)
Romans 10:19 NKJV

So this is a good sin to keep an eye on, because it is usually somewhere lurking in our hearts when we are headed off the path.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hi Bob,

I was listening to Dr. Walter Martin about demons and he said that contrary to what most Christians believe, demons are actually afraid of Christians so we should have no fear of them at all. Is this true? He spoke about certain instances where he encountered demon- possessed people and was able to rid these people of demons. He spoke about a woman who was supposedly a Christian. She went out to the mission fields and even evangelized for almost 20 years. Her husband later discovered that she was a closet Satanist. She began to behave violently and said she was Jesus, then said she was Satan. It took several people to restrain her. Dr. Martin said, "In the name of Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior, I command you to leave her now!", and the demons departed from her. Later, she truly gave her heart over to Christ and became saved and was a testimony to many people.

Jesus said to Pilate that he has "no power over me at all, unless it was given to you from above". My cousin once told me that his pastor said that Satan is almost as powerful as God, and this troubled me. I wondered . . . if God is Almighty, then how can anyone be ALMOST as powerful as Him? That would mean that God has a limit to His power. I believe that prayer can get rid of demons and we have nothing to fear about them. I've encountered many demonic things in the past and prayed over them, and they went away. I just trusted that God is my Heavenly Father and cares and watches over me as His child and protects me. A church member said he has seen a demon manifest in a church-goer. He saw what appeared to be a disembodied spirit that had red eyes that became very large , and his face changed. He was absolutely terrified. Are ghosts just demonic spirits masquerading as departed human beings? Because I know many people who tell me that they have ghosts in their homes. What is a familiar spirit? Are they spirits that are familiar with dead people and deceive people into believing that they are these dead people? What should Christians do when confronted with things like this? I have a friend who is dealing with MANY demonic beings in his home and he doesn't know what to do. They won't go away, even with prayer. Maybe he is not saved or doesn't have enough faith? He and his mom get into fights all the time. What can be done about this when these type of things occur according to scripture?

God Bless,

Response #3:  

I have benefited from Dr. Martin's writings, but he is gravely mistaken about any supposed ability to perform exorcisms. No one has that power today. Only the apostles had it. I would also not be concerned or give any thought to what demons think about us. In fact, the only safe course is to behave as if they don't exist even while we understand that they do. If we respond to situations as if demons were involved, we are playing their game on their field, and that is beyond dangerous. You are absolutely correct that the "only" thing we can do is pray, but that is a wonderful and incredibly powerful thing. We have access direct to the throne room of heaven and can ask the Father and Son themselves to help us. That is far more useful than any delegated "power" we might personally possess. Demons cannot possess believers, and can only be ejected from unbelievers through prayer, but if the person doesn't commit to faith in Christ, there is nothing stopping them from reentering (cf. Matt.12:43-45). There are no "ghosts". There are demons. What they can do is restricted by God, and believers will never have to worry about them . . . unless they make the tragic error of "playing footsie" with them. So stay away from having any conversation or contact with anyone or any situation whatsoever where there is a suspicion of demon involvement. Say your prayers and move on. A "familiar spirit" is a non-biblical term for a demon who is influencing or possessing or aiding a satanist or the like. As to your final question, I don't have a problem with giving your friend the gospel or praying for him, but it seems it would be spiritually healthy to stay away from his house and probably him as well.

You are right. We have NOTHING to fear . . . as long as we are walking with the Lord and following the Spirit's lead. But if instead we get off the path and start doing things that are not in the will of God . . .

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Dear Dr. Bob:

Sir, hope this letter finds you well. Quick question, because my memory does not serve me well, did you say you had info on pride somewhere in your writings?

Thank You,

Response #4: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

Try these links:

Satan's sin

The blinding effect of arrogance

sinning arrogantly

objective pride / arrogance

subjective pride / arrogance

The humbling of the proud at Armageddon

And do feel free to write back if you have a specific question.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hey Professor Luginbill,

Is it dishonorable to God to be scared when we are persecuted, or to flinch. This question really bothers me. I am afraid I will be self pitying or cowardly or in some other way dishonoring to God when the heat is on. For example I ran out of food for the past week, and I know I would be just like the Israelite upset with God because of wanting meat.

Anyway, I have been somewhat conditioned from my abusive upbringing to cower and flinch. I can't tell you how much I hate it, and hate admitting it.

I am sorry this is a bit of a barrage, but it is an important point. Giving into fear means not trusting God not to put on you more than you can bear. Also means not trusting that He will work it out for good, and reward you at the Resurrection. It can be hard swallow at first. But what is true is true.

Last one: I was reading the Peter series. And it really makes all the stuff in the news, all the hullabaloo about US values and the beginning religious history and ideals seem unimportant and kind of pointless and vain. Those who were and are really believers would all be looking forward to heaven, not clinging to these things.

Hope I articulated that right.

Response #5:  

I'm always pleased to hear when these materials have been helpful, so thanks for this.

Apologies for the delay – yesterday was posting day, and today has been quite busy so I'm just now getting to email responses that have piled up since Friday.

As to your question, fear is an emotion, and we all have emotions. The problem is not in having emotions but in responding to them instead of to the truth. Never having been in combat, I can only relate on that score what I have read (and I have read a great deal with the benefit of having been in service and having many shared experiences short of actually getting shot at). Almost every veteran who has opined on this subject says that everyone experiences fear under fire. But it's the ones who ignore their fear and do their duty in spite of the fact that they might be killed or wounded we ought to emulate. So when the Bible tells us "not to fear", for example, I don't think it means "if you experience the emotions related to fear, you have failed". I'm pretty sure it means "be strong and courageous in spite of what your emotions are telling you". The proof of the pudding is if we do what we should do despite how we may feel. That is true heroism. If a persons really doesn't feel any fear whatsoever, for whatever reason, where is the heroism in acting then? But if we do what is right for the Lord, say what is right, and overcome our emotions by thinking what is right, that is true spiritual heroism, and I know that the Lord values that a great deal. And the advantage we have as believers – or should have, if we have grown and if we apply what we have believed – is that WE know that the Lord is with us and will not let a hair of our heads be touched if that is not the Father's will (and if it is, that is all to the good in honor of Him as well).

So stay "strong and courageous" (2Chron.32:7), just like you are, my friend! There will be great need of heroes for Jesus Christ in the time soon to come.

In our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Thanks Dr Luginbill! One thing I have noticed is that when I pray about an emotion or fear, I have found God always helps me. I mean today I had a strong feeling of being overwhelmed and like I was wasting so much time. Like on the Greek and Bible study, I have been feeling like I am getting nowhere. And I prayed about it, and found myself doing a little at least. I got through a good part of the Peter series and understood it.

I believe if I pray more, especially when I am in a bad position, or know I am about to be in one, God will help me through it both the thing itself and the emotion. (I am very emotional oftentimes, but I do try to keep it under control).

Response #6: 


Prayers is definitely one of our main "weapons" in fighting this fight, and its wonderful to see you deploying it so effectively.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I want to thank you for your website! I've been enjoying studying through it on my own now that I no longer am a member of a church. I especially wanted to thank you for the section I was studying last Sunday: in Christology, the sections on Jesus' death and resurrection. These sections were so deep and meaningful to me, and they made me think of things with a different perspective. I got so much out of that study!

I hope you and your family are well. My daughter is doing well as a reading teacher, and she seems very happy in married life. Her husband is a gem!

Thank you again for all of your time and hard work.

In Him,

Response #7:  

Thanks so much for this encouraging email!

You made my day.

Thanks for the update on your daughter too. I'm thrilled to hear that "real life" is treating her well. Please give her my regards.

Hope you are doing well too!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

There is always a reason for the hardness of heart. The Lord never hardens someone's heart in an irrational manner without reason. Even in Pharaoh's case we're told exactly why his heart was so hard: he wanted his slaves back! "What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!" (Exodus 14:5) The Pharisees wanted human approval. Judas wanted money. And I'm convinced that "enlightened" modern man who's "too intelligent" for those "phony Bible stories" wants sex with no restriction. Those who are innocent like the children are or suffering like the poor never have a problem with hardness of heart.

Satan's demons wanted sensuality, and that was the one extremely stupid sin that was "too good to refuse." I very strongly suspect that, in every case, we're going to find out that the unbeliever had to reject only one extremely stupid sin in order to have the light of the Holy Spirit shine in his heart. It's not going to be like failing a class in university or getting fired from a job where sometimes you really can't perform as you have to. (Ecc. 9:11) It's just going to be one stupid sin that's so silly and so foolish but they wouldn't let go even if given a million opportunities.

Response #8: 

Remember: it's not about sin; Jesus died for our sins, even the "too good to pass up" ones. It's about willingness to submit our will to His WILL in acceptance of the Gift, salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. For those unwilling to accept Him and His work on the cross, even the light shined in and the seed planted is quickly overcome by darkness in the former case and snatched away by the evil one in the later.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

There has been so much confusion regarding the word "repentance" in the bible. I have heard so many interpretations of it, probably because so many professing Christians do not want to repent themselves. The most common interpretation of the word is simply just to "change ones mind". I looked up the Greek word and it has two meanings, the other is to have a change of heart and a hatred for our past sins. I've been trying to learn Greek to better understand certain words in the bible because there are so many bible translations that have meanings completely different from other bible versions. I noticed that the word repent is in the present tense and imperative. Does this mean that it is an ongoing thing and also a command? Why are there so many interpretations to this one word? I take it to mean just as 2 Cor. 7:10 explains it. Am I correct?

God Bless,

Response #9:  

On repentance, the Greek noun metanoia and verb metanoeo are composed of two morphemes meaning "change" and "mind". Words, however, mean what they mean as used in the language in which they are used, so etymology only takes us so far. "Hatred of sin" is nowhere present in the words or their usage, even though some people may repent for that reason. The scripture makes the fear of death and judgment the catalyst for seeking salvation, and that has been my own experience as well; for believers who have gone astray, fear of divine judgment and the sin unto death would be the parallel. But the "change of mind" principle is at the core. Whether believer or unbeliever, looking at the world and one's life the wrong way is the problem; such an ungodly attitude often does lead to sin – how could it not? But not always the sorts of sins that evangelical preachers have in mind.

There is a great tendency in the church-visible today to make this all about emotions. But biblical repentance is a firm decision and an absolute commitment. I have seen plenty of people get all emotional – and then slip right back tomorrow once the emotional high wears off. True repentance, biblically speaking, is a complete turn around of the boat from wandering away from God to heading straight for Him in a bee-line. That is a complete change of heart. If it involves little emotional display, it can still be genuine. If the emotional display is great, it can still be not real or only temporary. God knows the heart. So in your passage, 2nd Corinthians 7:10, the emphasis is on the word "godly" more so than "sorrow". If sorrow is not godly, there will be no genuine repentance; if there is a surfeit of sorrow or other emotion that is not related directly to a genuine change of heart in God's direction, that is not true biblical repentance. Please see the links:

Repentance (in BB 4B)

Repentance (in BB 3B)

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hi Bob,

What if I go to Heaven, talk to King David...but it turns out that I really don't enjoy his personality? Is that even possible?

Response #10:  

There is so much we don't know about the other side. But my basic understanding is that unhappiness of any sort will be impossible (cf. Rev.7:17; 21:4). Much of that will have to do with how wonderful God is and how wonderful being with Him without any veil between us will be; part of that will also be the fact that the new bodies we will be living in will not only have none of the negatives the present ones do but also many positives we can't really begin to understand as yet. So the whole foundation of earthly likes and dislikes will be entirely upended in ways currently beyond imagination – as will be the whole rhythm of life as we know it now . . . for the better in blessedly infinite ways.

As to individuals, the family of God – and the Church in particular – will be "one" experientially at that time in transcendently perfect way . . . far beyond even what it is supposed to achieve today in the ideal.

Looking forward to having you in my neighborhood in New Jerusalem!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Hi Bob,

I heard a sermon on worship and it centered around the woman at the well (Jn.4:24), and how the True Worshipers will worship God in Spirit and in Truth, or true and acceptable spiritual worship as a priority. What caused me to listen to this sermon is my desire to worship God the way the bible explains worship as. I have encountered many Christians who keep telling me how much they "worship" God, and you see them singing and praising God at church, raising their hands, and what seems like them pouring out their souls to God. Then I see them later on in the week and I see a completely different person; they are drinking and tell me about all the worldly R-rated movies they enjoyed. Some people tell me that ministry is worship, or that obedience is worship, or singing songs of praise is worship. But how does that prove that they truly worship God in spirit and in truth? There are so many passages in the bible about worship, such as Exodus and Psalms, and it seems like it is a heart issue more than anything else. Like Martha who used a years wage of perfume to wash Jesus' feet with her hair, and that a woman's hair is her "glory". I heard that in the sermon. It just seems as if the worship that is found in today's church age is not what we find in the bible. What makes the worship in the bible different from those who supposedly worship God today through obedience, ministry, praise, sacrificial duties, etc.?

God Bless,

Response #11:  

It's an interesting question because "worship" is an English word and the entire way we use that word with all of its modern-day connotations has no direct referent in scripture. In the Bible, the two Hebrew words usually translated "worship" mean, literally, "do work for" thus "serve" ('abhadh) and "bow down before" (shachah), while the Greek word used almost exclusively for "worship" means "show obeisance towards", usually in the sense of bowing down before (proskyneo). So singing and hand raising and shouting and getting emotional may be considered "praising the Lord", and while that is no doubt one aspect (if done appropriately) of "worshiping" Him, the Greek word sums up the meaning while the two Hebrew verbs give the two important aspects of biblical worship, namely, doing what God wants done (serve/work) and demonstrating our obedience towards and appreciation of Him (manifest in biblical times by physically kneeling or prostrating oneself before Him).

Clearly, as the passage in John you quote makes clear (Jn.4:24), and as your observation about Christians who make a great display of "worship" on Sunday but show little sign of it on Monday does as well, being obedient and being responsive in the heart – in the spirit through the Spirit, and in truth truthfully – is what is really pleasing to the Lord. God hates hypocrisy. All the singing in the world doesn't change who we are inside. Neither do any emotional displays. Church attendance, tithing, joining, singing in the choir, going to fellowships and socials, and all of the other things people in churches "do" are meaningless if not coming from the believer's heart responding to the truth. There – in the heart – is where we truly "worship God" in what we are thinking; not in what we doing if that is merely superficial and not really genuine or based upon what He wants done (as most of what is done in churches today is not).

If we are truly devoted to the Lord, it changes everything about us. He wants us to grow closer to Him through the truth. That won't happen listening to sermons where the person preaching is preaching instead of teaching and clearly knows little of the truth and is compromised by all manner of incorrect "doctrines". He wants us to honor Him by applying the truth we have learned and believed and committed to by living in accordance with it on Monday in truth rather than just giving lip-service to it on Sunday. He wants us to help other believers do the same as well through ministering to them – but that cannot happen if we are not doing it ourselves. And as long as we are focused on the emotional and the ostentatious and calling that "worship" and thinking that this is plenty as we "nod to God", we will never get anywhere in the true Christian life.

Keep fighting the GOOD fight, my friend, and keep on seeking the truth.

Your friend in Jesus Christ who is the truth itself, our Lord and our God.

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hi Bob,

I hope you are well.

I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your teaching on Peripateology: the Christian Walk. I have learnt so much from it and I've especially enjoyed the section on discernment. It came just at the right time for me in handling certain situations with my parents.

As you know, due to abusive behaviour, I've had to keep a little bit more distance between us because it was affecting my health quite badly. [details omitted]. While I was there she said to me that if I was a Christian then the bible teaches that I should honor my father and mother and THAT is one of the commandments. She said it in quite an aggressive way and I really wasn't expecting it. I think she said it because I've been keeping my distance and she doesn't think I'm obeying the commandment. I'm aware that people who abuse can use the bible to try to control others or make them feel guilty.

You know Bob, I just thought to myself, mom if only you knew. If only you knew that I had taken the time and the effort to seek the counsel of a very gifted and qualified bible teacher. That I had asked exactly what this verse meant, what the Lord expected of me and what wasn't expected. If only you knew the months I've prayed for you every night and cried before the Lord for you and how much I've worried about you. It was so strange that she used that very verse.

This is one occasion where your teaching on discernment helped me. I could have told her everything but knowing mom as I do I would have been absolutely wasting my breath. All I would be doing is giving her more ammo to criticise me and use against me later on. The less I give her, the less she has to use. So I kept my mouth shut and said nothing. I came away thinking Lord you know and that's all that matters to me.

Thank you so much for all your hard work on this teaching. I can honestly say it feels like it had been written especially for me.

I'm praising the Lord for an answer to prayer for mom. She's had some health problems recently and there's been some good progress here - God is good!

Response #12: 

It's good to hear from you, my friend. I pray for you daily.

Many people are good at manipulating others, and there is no commandment which tells us to allow ourselves to be manipulated by others. "Honor", says the commandment, but who decides what proper "honor" is? If not the Lord, who is it? We are responsible to Him to do what is right in His eyes. We are NOT responsible to others to obey them as if we were their slaves, not in marriage, not in the workplace, not in any family relationship or any relationship whatsoever. This life is all about free will, and the Lord never takes away the privilege OR the responsibility of using that image of God in a godly way. If our parents are criminals and want us to "help" in a criminal enterprise and we refuse, e.g., we are not "failing to honor" them by refusing to do things that are illegal. Clearly, if our parents are in dire need and going hungry for no particular moral fault of their own while we have the means to help them, if we were to refuse to do so that would be dishonorable. But we are never required to abide by their definition of what proper "honor" is. The command is to us from the Lord; it is not a bludgeon put in the hands of parents to be used by them against their children however they may wish all their lives long.

Please have at look at the postings throughout this link:  Believers in the World VIII

Keep fighting the fight, my friend, and thank you for all of your encouraging words.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Thank you for your email and all your encouragement. Every word helped.

We have some friends that we have been acquainted with for about a year now. They are Christians but have different ideas than us. They are always trying to find a church that fits them. We haven't got into much talk on religion with them They just know we believe. We are staying with them over this next weekend because of the wrestling tournament. They texted us and asked if we would like to go to church with them and that they are going to a new church they found. We aren't into any of these organized churches and never will be. I'm sure there is some good in them but there is always the opposite too. I'd rather spend my time reading and studying your stuff than going into a church building. But we're not sure how to respond to them.

[details about friends being taken in my deceptive individuals omitted]

I'm at that point in my life where I'd rather be alone then be with lukewarm Christians. Just like the next time we make a move in employment we need to really think of who we work for. If they aren't good wholesome Christians your chances of dealing with problems escalate like we are currently dealing with right now. If we allow someone into our home that is a lukewarm Christian, we are asking for problems. This is also why I'm not interested in going to a church with them. I know my questions to you recently are difficult but somehow you answer them perfectly without given a direct answer if that makes any sense. I'm struggling with how to respond in a way that stands for Jesus. I'm sure it wouldn't kill us to go but I just don't want to. They may think it's a wonderful church and that's fine if they can find something good and grow closer to Jesus but for myself I can guarantee you that I could spend the rest of my life going from church to church and I'll always find something I don't like.

Thanks Bob

Response #13:  

You're always welcome, my friend. I'm very happy to hear you found this helpful.

You have the gift of discernment – it seems to me. That is for you to discover in the Lord but you definitely seem to me to be one of those rare people who can NEVER be deceived and who will NEVER be willing to put up with lies – good for you!

We are always happier when we do what the Spirit is telling us to do. None of us is perfect. All too often we may "go with the flow" (whatever that may mean in any given circumstance) and not accept His perfect advice. He never forces us to do so. But the more we are in the habit of listening AND responding, the better we become at reading and heeding what He is telling us. That leads to spiritual growth when combined with a good intake of the truth; that leads to walking closer to the Lord; that leads to being happier – even if in our happiness we get "flak" from the evil one and those he is manipulating: that is better than avoiding the flak by "going with the flow" when we know it's really not the right thing to do. Standing up for the truth and doing the right thing always has consequences – but so does failing to do so. The more we grow, the more these tests become less obvious (at least to less mature Christians) and more subtle. But the Spirit is good about telling us the difference, even in matters that do not seem at the moment to be of earthshaking importance. He speaks to our consciences using the truth we have believed and are learning. And we are much happier in doing what we know is right – even if everyone else thinks we are wrong.

The world is filled with mediocre and marginal Christians who are self-centered and not really following Christ at all. They love to "nod to God" and, like the Pharisees, to blow a trumpet to show the "good things" they are doing. They also like to take down and bring down the rare Christians they encounter who are doing what Christ actually wants. Part of this is being manipulated and prodded to do so by the evil one. But part of it is the very human (and satanic) notion that if they can just convince someone who believes the truth to reject it, then their own lies will magically become true. It's insane, of course, but wasn't the devil's rebelling from God as if that were a battle that could be won completely insane? You have to be arrogant to the point of putting to death the obvious truth right in front of you to even think that way. And so he was, and so he is . . . and so are all those who listen to him instead of to the Holy Spirit.

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

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, He who is the only Truth.

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Thanks for all your words!! Very true. Very true. I received a text message early this morning asking if we were going to go to church with them. I was going to try to hold off on responding to her until I received your email but the way I felt by the way she asked me again I needed to respond quickly. So I went with my thoughts that I'm not here to please others, I'm not here to impress others, I'm not here to be convinced of others' ideas of religious beliefs and if I'm going to do any studying then I have plenty of readings (yours) that would take me years and years to get through. I don't have time to waste. I sent her a message and I said not to worry about us if they would like to go to there church that's great; we can do something else and not to let us hold them back. If this was a bad time to stay with them we could get a hotel room. No hard feelings.

She then sent back a text almost immediately which was very unusual for her. It said: "we have been going to this church for about 3 weeks now and we really like it. There are only 30 people. Not a big deal if you don't", and told me about some of the people whom I'd heard of.

I think this group are probably all very nice people but the positions they hold (wealthy in the business world), the money they have acquired, the pride they hold onto means isn't really a group for us and especially not a place we want to expose our family to. Feels kinda dangerous.
After finally getting through the day we feel much much better about the decision.

Thanks again for everything!

Response #14: 

Congratulations on a good decision, my friend – and I note how the Lord worked out all the details perfectly in a way that couldn't have been predicted. That has always been my experience too. Whenever we trust Him and do the right thing, the things we feared – and had to overcome our fear to ignore – never pan out in fact. I'm also struck by how after the fact the "seemingly innocent" compromise could have been far more dangerous than first it appeared. That is also a very common thing. Something to remember whenever we feel pressured to give in.

Keeping you and yours in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hello Bob,

Its been awhile I have not checked myself in to say that Im still around! I hope all is well with you, and that things aren't as tormenting as here. I am experiencing the feeling that something strange is happening around me. I can't fathom why there is so much opposition from people who have been “friends” for decades, who I have always helped and been there for them, and then turn around and give me the cold shoulder, as if I had done anything to them! Is this happening to others, or is it just me?

I know we are going through perilous times, but I wonder if it is just me, or are you or your followers going through the same?

Keep up the good work, as you are a voice of consolation for the despair that abounds among the Body of Christ. May God continue to bless your priceless ministry.

Response #15:  

I'm glad to hear from you – though sorry to hear that you are experiencing such "flak". I have been praying for you and your situation with your mom and family and the other opposition you've been facing. In this world we believers always "have tribulation" (Jn.16:33; Acts 14:22; 1Thes.3:4), and it is also the case that those believers who are making strides in spiritual advance come in for more opposition than those who are not. So perhaps this is a case of you becoming more of a target as you draw closer to the Lord and do the things He wants you to do. That is standard in the plan of God – even if none of us really wants more pressure, yet it is honoring to the Lord to handle it well. I can tell from your courageous mood that you are!

We are getting closer to the end, however, and that is no doubt part of it as well. I think it's fair to say that I have noticed an increase in opposition to most of the positive believers I know.

But no one is as powerful as our heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Whatever we have to face, we know that our Lord will always be with us, and that He is the Good Shepherd who will see us safely through to the end of this journey, even if it passes through the valley of the death shadow. And on the other side, we will never regret a single good decision we've made to honor Him with our thoughts, words and deeds.

. . . [Moses] considered the reproach [suffered on behalf] of Christ greater riches than the treasure vaults of Egypt. For he was looking to his reward.
Hebrews 11:26

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hello Professor,

How are you Sir? It has been some time since our last correspondence. The Lord continues to keep me healthy, safe and able to move about, I thank Him ALWAYS for that. I think it is still "yesterday" in you time zone, no?

I have a small Q. I was reading this weeks "Email posting (The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions VI) and got to your Reply #15 where you wrote, and I quote:

On Mary Magdalene, she was the only one who "got it" before the fact, and that is why she and her story are part of the gospel forever (Matt.26:13; Mk.14:9).

Q: How do you id her as Mary Magdalene? The lady is not mentioned in the text by name. I have also checked Luke and John, the incident is not mentioned in those two Gospels.

On another topic, as you probably know, I live in an environment where the majority of my neighbours are RCs. there are a few Pentecostals and some Muslims. I do not attend that RC "church" anymore. But I am beginning to be noticed as "the odd man out", the one who does not "go to church", and those kinds of people do NOT normally get good treatment in Africa. I am sure as this trend continues (and I AM going to stick it out, no question!) I will get shunned by some people. I am just looking for advice on how to deal with such a situation when it becomes sort of intense, as I sense it will. Believe me, I WILL be treated with grave suspicion as time goes by and I do not give in to their pressure to "go to church". - just so they can be sure that I am "normal folk"!

Well Sir, I continue to pray for you daily; I thank my Lord for your ministry always, always, always. Say hi to your blessed family.

In Jesus who is our pillar of strength,

Response #16: 

Always wonderful to hear from you, my friend!

I'm very happy to hear your positive testimony. You are on my heart and in my prayers daily, and I know that the same is true for our good friend.

On your question, this took a lot of work to discover and get right (a lot of people have this all wrong). The details are written up at the following link: "To Mary Magdalene" (in BB 4A). May I ask you to have a look and please write me back if you have any follow-ups?

On the point of being ostracized for not "going with the flow" and doing what other "Christians" are used to doing, this is a very important issue. When the Tribulation begins, a full third of actual Christians – along with all Christians-in-name-only – will become convinced that antichrist really is Christ. The pressure we will receive then from these individuals and from the state at large will make the admittedly very real pressure we may be feeling now seem as nothing by comparison. We will be hounded from place to place, and another third of the actual Church will be put to death for standing firm with the truth in the Great Persecution. The rewards that accompany "being faithful unto death" are significant, however – the crown of life for one (Rev.2:10). In such a case, being martyred will also be the plan of God for us (Rev.13:10), working things out for good, giving the ultimate witness for Jesus Christ in a way most pleasing to Him. It's not something probably any of us would choose, but we have to be ready to accept it if that is what our Master chooses for us. In the meantime, we should accept that whatever "flak" we are receiving for doing the right thing and for eschewing the wrong thing as excellent training for what is coming – along the lines of a military unit receiving strenuous peacetime training-regime that helps get it ready for war.

In this world there will never be – until Christ returns – a shortage of poor or only apparent Christians who are absolutely intolerant of others who do things differently from them (whatever the differences may be). And why are they intolerant and often aggressively so? Here is what I read in scripture:

We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.
1st John 3:12 NLT

Cain knew very well in his heart of hearts that Abel was right in what he did and that he, Cain, was wrong. But he had the perverse, satanic notion that if he could wipe out the right that the evil would replace it. This is insane, of course, but it is precisely the devil's thinking in rebelling against God: if he could get the angels to follow him instead of God, to follow his lies instead of the truth, then the lie would conquer the truth. We see this in the rabid behavior of atheists who are not just passively non-believing in the fiction that there is no God but angrily pouncing on anyone who dares to say differently – as if by destroying the faith of someone who believes the truth they can magically turn their lies into the truth. Insane! But just the sort of thinking that self-centeredness an arrogance produces.

The same is true of legalistic "Christian" groups who want to impose their false standards on you and me. In their heart of hearts, their consciences realize (or their subconscious at any rate) that they and what they are doing is not what God wants. But if they can force others who disagree to bow the knee, well, then perhaps they ARE right after all. Insane! But very human. And very satanic.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1st Peter 3:15-17 NKJV

The above is our Christian "honor code" when it comes to standing up for the truth, doing what is right even when all others tell us it is wrong, and putting what Jesus Christ wants ahead of the desires of the entire world – and ahead of our own as well. The Spirit will help us to know what to do, if we are willing to listen to Him carefully, and we get better at this as we make a habit of it. We can be sure that there is nothing better than doing the will of God for our lives – the actual, genuine will of God, rather than what others tell us it may be. If we do what He desires, then we can be sure that the plan of God as it is working out the path of our lives is going to bring us to the right place in the right way at the right time regarding all things – even if there is plenty of "flak" along the way.

And we know that, for those who love God, He works everything together for good.
Romans 8:28a

Thanks for your prayers too, my friend! They are greatly appreciated. I pray for you to meet other Christians who likewise love the truth.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you very much for the clear replies to my questions. The finger-pointing and the whispers about me are not yet at a level I can call "persecution", but I have began to notice and it brings a bit of pressure. So far I have been able to handle it; it is good to have a bit of advice from you guys who have been on the battlefield for longer than I have.

It helps that I am able to study and contemplate on my own for long periods without being "bored"; in fact my days are never boring - work, study, pray, take walks, doing all these things while feeling joyful that the Lord is with me.

I am attaching a photo of a "baptismal" scene, something that takes place in Africa quite frequently. This guy is an Englishman; he comes to Tanzania for several months each year to evangelize, in the course of which he performs such acts. A scene of the practicing of a false doctrine taken to such side-splitting extremes!

Thanks once again for your blessed help. I pray for you guys every day.

In Jesus who is our salvation,

Response #17:  

Yes, water-baptism gives me the "creeps", to tell you the truth. It seems so Roman Catholic. I felt this way even before I came to understand why the Spirit was leading me to reject it. Knowing the biblical facts now, I'm all the more repulsed.

You are advancing well, my friend. In any war, the green troops become veterans pretty fast once the bullets start flying. And you have advanced well beyond where the vast majority of Christians in the world are presently parked. This means that you are no doubt coming in for attack and thus experiencing the sort of tribulation that is normal for courageously advancing believers (e.g., Jn.16:33; Acts 14:22; 1Thes.3:4).

I'm very encouraged by your report, by your brave attitude, and by your consistent approach in spite of this opposition. That is what leadership is all about too. I pray that the Lord will work all things out for you, that you will be able to push through this "flak", and that He will bring you into just the right ministry of your own. People need the truth. But how can they learn it without someone to teach it to them (Rom.10:14)?

Thanks so much for your prayers, my friend! Keeping you in mine daily as well.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Question #18: 

Hi Bob,

I was watching a debate between four people (all four claimed they were Christians), and the pro-gay side kept saying that they were "born" gay. I don't understand how this is possible. Did they come out of the womb as an infant and say, "I'm gay!", or did they realize in their minds that they were gay or lesbian when they first came out of the womb of their mothers? I'm not sure what they mean by that, and I hear that all the time from gay/lesbian people. What exactly do they mean by that? And if they were in fact born gay, then how is that an excuse that they're not in the wrong because God made them that way? Because as I understand it, we are ALL born in sin and are in need of God's forgiveness. So I don't see how being born gay (a sin) is any different than being born into this world a sinner. And do these gay people who claim that they were born gay come to the realization that they were gay at some age in their life? and if so, then how would they know if they were BORN gay? I am having difficulty understanding this and it makes no sense to me. What do they mean by this?

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #18: 

This is very much a modern, western way of looking at things. In the ancient world, people "did" the same sorts of things (committed the same sorts of sins) as today. They didn't say "I am such and such", they just did such and such, if that is what they wanted to do.

We all have sin natures. We all have our own unique blend of temptations. Declaring that we are this or that doesn't change the fact that sin is sin, that it is only sin if and when we commit it, and that it most certainly is sin if in fact we do commit it  – even if there are servants of Satan out there who are all too willing to tell us that "it's OK!".  Believers understand that it is the Lord's opinion – and the Lord's opinion only – that really counts.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

While my wife and I were eating lunch we overheard of conversation by a group of people who were sitting at another table close to us. One of the people sitting at the table asked a retired medical doctor a question: Are human beings born as homosexuals. The doctor's answer was: of course they are, it has been scientifically proven that there is a homosexual gene that passes from one or more of the parents. Now the person who asked this question is an antagonist and likes to stir the pot so to speak and he knew that I was sitting close by. I could have responded, but chose not to. I have discussed this with the Doc several times disagreeing with his conclusion.

This brings me to several observations from scripture, namely 1 Corinthians 6:9, among many others. Here are my thoughts on this matter.

1. God expressly forbids this sort of life-style, if one would think that it is a life.
2. The scripture in 1 Cor. 6:9 states that such persons will not inherit the Kingdom of God. There free-will, by being born with this gene is eliminated, as they have no choice in the matter since it is inherited.
3. If they are born that way, then to me, it makes God a hypocrite, which He could never be.
4. Does not God create every person ever born?, but not that way.
5. If He expressly forbids these sorts of acts, and he most certainly does, then why are they born this way?

Now I do realize that every person has a choices to make in life even though, they say they are born with this homosexual gene; am I correct?

These are just a few of the many thoughts I have on this particular subject, but I would like to have your scriptural opinion and observations on this. You know, because I am sure you have studied and responded on this subject probably hundreds of times.

In closing, I was asked some years back if a practicing homosexual could be a Christian at the same time. This was asked by another Christian, who had a friend professing to be both a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time. My reply to him was that this is an oxymoron.

Blessings, grace and peace be yours always.

Your friend,

Response #19:  

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I always try to resist looking at this issue as unique. Here's the thing. Every human being has a sin nature, and we are all different. There are no absolutes in this life – apart from the Word of God. One person is tempted to lust after Mammon a little, one a little more, one a whole lot more. Personal circumstances, life experience, upbringing, cultural milieu, education or lack thereof, etc. all contribute to stoke or repress tendencies toward any sin latent in our flesh.  Take greed, for example: in the end succumbing to greed (or any other sin) is a personal decision (and, actually, the result of a great many decisions). If the Bible says something is dangerous, wrong, sinful and abominable, so it is. That is true even if the person in question "really wants" to do it (whatever "it" is). If a person is crazy with sexual desire – for the same sex – that does not mean that said person can indulge in multiple relationships outside of marriage and not incur the Lord's wrath (for believers, at any rate). And anyone with any life experience understands that even though marriage is an outlet so as not to have to "burn" with desire (1Cor.7:9), just because a person who is extremely incontinent in this regard gets married doesn't mean that the problem is going to go away entirely. The high rate of divorce, infidelity, and sexual frustration and unhappiness in marriage attests to that well enough. And we see in Old Testament times that even multiple marriage (allowed though not encouraged) did not make Solomon happy enough so as to ever get to the point of saturation, nor did David's multiple wives prevent him from committing adultery with Bathsheba, even though he was one of the greatest believers who ever lived.

And even if a Christian is interested in marrying a member of the opposite sex and is not so incontinent that one legitimate marriage partner would fail to be sufficient for him/her, that does not mean that he/she might not have to wait a long time for the right person, or that he/she might not be tempted to settle for the wrong one, or that it is even in God's plan for him/her to ever be married. After all, it's not a crime in this country to remain celibate. And if a person is a Christian, remaining celibate is the divine rule unless and until a legitimate marriage is contracted. So someone who is not interested in getting married to a member of the opposite sex – and there is more than one reason for that (more than the one which is the topic of this email: not being able to find a suitable believer, for example) – has only one option if that person is a Christian: celibacy.

Are we denying certain persons their "happiness"? I'm not telling anyone what to do. What I won't do is tell someone "it's OK to do whatever you want as a Christian and God will bless you anyway". That would be "on me".

First, there's no true happiness in this life apart from a good relationship with God through His Son. Second, if a person is not happy before marriage, that person is not going to be happy in marriage. Third, doing something God prohibits will not produce happiness, not even if the person in question is very good at lying to him/herself.

People can do what they want. I don't believe in Christians getting involved in political crusades to prevent people from doing what they want. My interest is in what the Lord wants, and He is not interested in preventing people from doing wrong things by force of law; He wants the world to come to Him freely through faith in Himself and what He has done in dying for the sins of the world; and He wants believers to respond to Him freely through obedience to the truth.

So for Christians who ask my about this, I have to say that it is always very dangerous to go down any sinful road which the Lord is very clearly prohibiting. If a Christians decides to embrace a life of sin (drugs, alcohol, greed, crime, illicit sex of any kind, etc.), and most especially anything that brings reproach to the Name of Jesus Christ, they will not be allowed to do so forever with impunity. Sooner or later after turning onto that "bad road", they will come to a fork. At that point, there will only be three very simple decisions possible: 1) to turn back like the prodigal son did; and in doing so there is forgiveness, restoration, and a fresh start; 2) to take the fork that leads entirely away from the Lord; the pressure of "being Christian" yet acting "un-Christian" is crushing, and many who go that route are pressured to allow their faith to crumble to dust and blow away with the wind; when apostasy comes to fruition and the person is no longer a believer at all, the Lord no longer takes a vital interest and will allow the now-unbeliever to do whatever he/she wants without divine discipline, because only sons and daughters rate that; 3) to keep doing what is ungodly but not let go of faith: that is something the Lord will not permit to go on forever; for the sake of His Name He will not allow a horrible witness to abide on this earth indefinitely; He will not allow a person to keep claiming to be His and deny it so visibly by their actions; such a person will be taken out of this life eventually by the sin unto death just as the incestuous Corinthian man almost was (1Cor.5:1ff.; he did repent: cf. 2Cor.2:5-11). More about all this at the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

Our society thus does people, and especially Christians who suffer from this particular temptation, a grave disservice by suggesting that this is all normal and acceptable – because it certainly isn't to the Lord. Then again, any believer who is in the habit of taking their cue from society or the media or cultural trends instead of from the Word of God is already in very big trouble.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

I am not asking you to remove anything, just telling my feeling. Sending that message to you (that you posted), I feel I my have been badmouthing God and providing a bad witness. If you post it, would it then be like I was badmouthing Him to lots more people?

I really don't mean to frustrate you. I am honored you would put me up there.

I also just wanted to say that I don't know why people find that young rebellious stuff fun. The awful music, unprotected intimate union, and the getting drunk.

In conclusion, the reading the Bible is better then and now,

Response #20:  

I read this over again and I didn't get any sort of "bad witness" impression. Rather, I got the impression of a good Christian struggling with the disappointments of this world . . . and winning the victory by putting what is truly important in first place. That is the impression I have of you in general, and so this seems to fit.

Although I always post these things anonymously and often with a heavy edit as here, I'm always willing to pull down reader-text at their request if they feel uncomfortable about it for any reason (all you need to do is let me know).

In this case, I really do think this is a GOOD witness – because I can tell you that I receive many emails from Christians who are struggling with the problems of this world (you see some of that in the other letters here), many of whom are not coping with it as well as you are. And we both can see (I hope) that you have made progress since we had this exchange a year or so ago. So I'm sure that this is an encouragement and a blessing for others to read.

You are not a frustration – you are a blessing.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hi Bob,

Lately I've been dealing with associates or fellow people who are supposedly Christians, and some of them are not. I have been verbally attacked by them, and some of them are prejudiced towards me for no reason that I can think of; they just dislike me for no apparent reason. The bible says that the greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Who is our neighbor? Someone told me that it's your literal neighbor who lives across the street from us. I've also heard people say that our neighbor is anyone that we come into contact with. I've tried to love my enemies by heaping burning coals upon their heads, and it seems to be of no effect at all. Sometimes, it makes them even more hateful towards me, or they take advantage of me. Since nothing seems to work for them when I try to love them with everything that I have, what should I do? Should I just break off contact with them? I know someone in particular who refers to himself as a Christian, but I see no fruits of the Spirit coming from him. I try to be as nice as possible to him and exhort him all the time because he didn't like me from the get go. Nothing seems to help no matter how loving of friendly I try to be. I try to talk to him and he doesn't want anything to do with me. I have done nothing wrong to him. This has been going on for years and he still hates me. He says he's a Christian but I'm starting to doubt if it's true. Who is our neighbor? And what should we do if we are obeying the Lord by loving them and nothing seems to work?

God Bless,

Response #21:  

There are a number of questions / issues intertwined here. I will attempt to get to them, but do feel free to write back.

First, Christians certainly ought to be loving towards everyone. Even though it is true that a "neighbor" in ancient Israel was another member of the national congregation (not a Philistine, for example, even though they lived nearby), and that in the New Testament, "neighbors" are believers (cf. e.g., Rom.15:2; Eph.4:25; Heb.8:11; Jas.2:8), still, the commandment to "love others" is one that clearly is not meant to be restricted to other believers only.

How do we treat others in love? That is really the question. First, it is clear that we should not think, say or do anything negative, harmful or hateful towards anyone else, even our enemies. That is a very difficult lift for any human being, and only believers walking in the power of the Spirit and putting Jesus Christ first in their lives have any hope of coming anywhere near to fulfilling this commandment – and it's not as if any of us is not going to stumble from time to time.

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 7:12 NKJV

This is often referred to as "the golden rule", and the above paragraph clearly applies here: we don't want others to attack us, to slander us, to think bad thoughts about us – at least certainly not if we have done nothing to "rate" bad thoughts / words / deeds from others. But what about helping others? First, scripture is clear that in cases of genuine need, believers come first since they are our "neighbors" first and foremost:

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:10 ESV

"Good" here in the Greek is actually "the good"; i.e., "that which is good" or even what is ACTUALLY good. This is divine good, something good in God's eyes rather than in the eyes of the world or even in the eyes of those receiving it. If you were a billionaire and you gave an unbeliever who was a down-and-out drug addict a million dollars, no doubt he/she would think it "good" and the world would too. But said person would likely kill him/herself with drugs in short order as a result and would not have been saved in the process even if genuinely grateful for the gift. Where is "the good" in that?

What is the "actual good"? For every single person it is the truth: the gospel first whereby we are saved and the entire truth of the Word of God thereafter whereby we grow, progress and produce for the Lord. That is not to say that giving, e.g., money or food to some indigent and needy person is wrong or that it is not an act of mercy. It may be. But whether or not it is "good" depends on 1) the motives of the giver; 2) the circumstances of the gift; and 3) is not entirely independent of the worthiness of the receiver. How can we know #3? We often can't, but we often know more than we may be willing to admit to ourselves. In our Lord's example of the "good Samaritan", the person in question was 1) most likely a believer (being in an area where only Jews lived who were all supposed to be believers or, like himself, a marginal believer as Samaritans at least thought they were worshiping the same YHVH); 2) in unquestionable need (but we don't know for certain if the person on the freeway ramp with a ragged sign and unkempt clothes is only faking it); 3) wasn't going to abuse the gift (the example person in #2 might buy booze with your money but the Samaritan gave it directly to the innkeeper); and 4) needed the help desperately which could ONLY come from this man: if he hadn't helped, the man would have died (far from true in most situations we face).

All this is apropos of your situation. If you know ahead of time from reasonable judgment or past experience that someone is not going to respond in an appropriate way to your help, then this seems to me to be a case of "pearls before swine". God loves mercy and wants us to do the same (Micah 6:8), but He doesn't expect us to extend charity to those who would not actually need it if they were behaving in a responsible way. And we ALWAYS have to keep in mind the reason for all of our loving actions: the actual salvation and spiritual growth of those who receive them. Clearly, if a person is starving or naked, they aren't going to be able to grow spiritually until helped; but just as clearly, if a person loves drugs or alcohol and has no use for the Lord, all the charity and material help in the world aren't going to change him/her – they have to be willing to change.

So when does our love need to cease to be merely passive (i.e., refraining from doing things to others we would not want to be done to us) and become out and out active (i.e., doing positive things for others that we ourselves would want done to us in similar situations)? The test is precisely what is found in the last parenthesis. If we see an unbeliever who needs and desires the gospel just as we did, we should share it. If we see a believer who needs and desires encouragement as we might need it, we should encourage them. If we see a believer who needs and desires our material support – and who is worthy of it in the sense of not being likely to squander it – and we have the means to provide it, we should do so within our means since that is no doubt what we would desire as well (but we also no doubt would not want handouts from anyone unless it was a question of just such dire need).

But feeling guilty about cases where the person is no Christian, not interesting in being one, or is a Christian on the wrong road for whom material help will not bring a change is totally inappropriate, not the voice of the Spirit, and may have a bad end. Our Lord told us to be innocent as doves – but also wise as serpents. As with many things in this life and in this world where we have to apply truth to situations, both things are true. We need to be merciful, but also apply good discernment and good judgment. For we are responsible for what we think and say and do, NOT for the decisions of other people. We are responsible to use the time, energy and resources the Lord has given us to advance our own spiritual growth, progress and production. That is the best way to help others in the Church (or who are willing to become part of it); that is the true path the Lord has called us to walk. If we are given opportunities to minister in love and mercy to others, that is wonderful; but we need to be wise about the individual cases, lest we open ourselves up to abuse and fraud unnecessarily. That is surely not of God and does nothing to advance the kingdom of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hello Doctor,

Things are still very slow to start honestly. We’ll have an out building set up in a couple weeks and are probably good for some chickens next spring but finances are hit and miss so we’ll see if it works out. I’m to the point where I’d settle for just eggs and maybe a cucumber plant or two, but we’ll still need either a well (VERY expensive) or a truck/tank/water pump to haul water from the reservoir and neither has materialized so far. I am starting to doubt we’ll have ever have much.

That said, my friend has grown immensely this last year. The Lord has brought a believing woman into his life and he’s far easier to live and work with than ever before so we’re thankful for that relief. Over two years of “bearing with him and his weaknesses” has been exhausting.

As for me, I’m starting to have more Greek study time, I just have so much stress with the almost 5 kids total, bills, handicap (it’s not getting any better) that I don’t know how it’ll ever come to anything. I was even recently rejected by local churches here because I was too serious, so at least I know I haven’t lost what I’ve gained this far, I’m just not seeing how I can grow more with stresses, my head most specifically.

The kids are all doing well [personal details omitted].

I hope you’re well, and I’m sorry to sound negative.

Response #22: 

I'm happy to hear that your children are doing well. Something I have noticed and also heard related many times in my history studies is how children often "don't know" that they are poor or somehow disadvantaged, especially if they are living in a rural area. As long as they have enough to eat, and if they have a loving family, life seems "fun" to them, even if their parents feel the pressure. So you are blessed indeed, my friend, to have a quiver full of them (Ps.127:3-5)!

I'm sorry to hear that you are still having health problems, and also still struggling on the economic front. Same here for both, though prospects for both are also looking up, and the Lord has wrought some important deliverances – so thanks for your prayers! I'll be keeping these things in mind for you going forward as well, my friend.

Thanks for the update on our friend. After I wrote you I received a reply from him that was most uplifting. I pray for the salvation of his family – and it seems that his boy is already a believer, and a precocious one at that. The Lord is good! I do wish for some prosperity for him and for you as well, but we know of a certainty that no matter what the Lord has never and will never let us down, even if we have to endure some pressure and some rough sledding in this temporary life. With Him, all things are possible; without Him, whatever a person has is just so much ashes and dust.

I'm also praying for your ministry prospects and will say a pray for your Greek studies as well, my friend. Pushing forward like you are in spite of everything is wonderful witness – not negative at all.

Keep fighting the good fight. We know that the reward on the other side makes all of this abundantly worthwhile.

Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.
Psalm 126:5-6 NLT

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Last night, my ___ cornered me and tried to assault me with a cane as my family stood by and blamed me for not avoiding the conflict and trying to protect myself. I firmly believe the Lord is putting more pressure on me to get out of this house so I can go into a homeless shelter. Trying to find a job to get money and move out is gonna take too much time.

I know you don't live in my state, so I couldn't ask about any shelters in my area, but do you know any Christians who are homeless or living in homeless shelters? Or who did? Even those who were in similar situations with their family?

Response #23:  

I've only ever been to your state one time for less than two days many years ago.

If you are in serious immediate physical danger, then getting out sooner rather than later is a good idea; but if you can get by for a while safely, then putting together a strategy to find work (or school) or whatever works for you to go your own way outside of that house ASAP (but not prematurely when you have no plan and no means), might be preferable.

I don't know about your situation's particulars, but I would strongly suggest trying to be patient and find a better way out. There are worse things than, e.g., joining the military (not that I'm advising that – it's not for everyone, but it does provide a good living and good training, even though it is not the easiest road in the world). What little I know of homeless shelters is not encouraging. These are short term solutions, and it seems that you need a long term one. I don't know your age, but if you are college age, I think you would find that there are state colleges where you could get housing and probably assistance (loans, if nothing else) to see you through (not that I'm advising that either – that's also not for everyone and loans are very hard to pay back).

I do promise to pray for you, and I've also put a prayer request up for you on the Ichthys prayer list.

Remember that the Lord loves you and watches over you. Put yourself in His hands for deliverance, and He will bring it to pass.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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