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Eschatology Issues LXXXIV

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

It's really sad that there hasn't been more interest in Ichthys since all the recent troubles in this world including Covid. I could say the same for a few of my family members, some of whom have stared death in the face quite recently. If not themselves personally then the ones they are closest to. You would think they'd want to run straight to the Lord but no - exactly the opposite. They've shown no interest at all. It amazes me, it really does, but I suppose it shouldn't. Anyway, I'll keep on praying for them.

I have been feeling a little weary just recently but not with praying and reading my Bible etc. I'm weary with living in this world and with the unbelievers I'm surrounded by who I have nothing in common with. But I know that's probably true for all of us. It just seems to be more intense the closer I get to the Lord. You know the tough time I'm going through. Just life responsibilities in general can be physically tiring too. So as you say, it's about staying focused on the truth more than anything else and hanging in there through the tough times.

I think the point you made about encouraging believers to think about their spiritual gifts and what ministries the Lord may have for them is the main issue for me. I think that's what I meant about feeling like I was just drifting along rather than having any real idea about the direction I'm headed in terms of gifts and ministry. And that frustrates me sometimes. It seems absolutely clear to some people what their gifts are, like with you and your gift of teaching, but I haven't had any certain idea like that. No big THAT'S what I've been gifted and called to do. I thought I would have known by now. Or maybe I'm just not understanding it properly. You've told me in the past that the bits and pieces I've already been doing IS ministry. And thinking about it, the things I have done in helping you with your ministry and what I've written to help our brothers and sisters has been because the Spirit without question has led me to do it. And I love that and so that's what I will continue to do as the Spirit leads me. I guess the Lord takes into consideration the amount of time each of us has and also other responsibilities we have like work and family.

I know as well that we shouldn't be trying to do something that we're not gifted to do. We might feel passionate about something but that doesn't mean it's what the Lord has gifted us to do. We shouldn't be doing stuff just because we think we should be doing something. It has to be by the Spirit's leading and not of ourselves otherwise the Spirit's power won't be behind it to produce anything of great value to the Church.

But one thing I'm glad about is that the desire is in my heart to really want this. To want the Lord to use me for His glory and for the benefit of His Church. It's always been there and it's better than not being bothered at all. So if I really want it I have to keep growing spiritually and keep seeking Him and He will always guide me in the right direction and open up more opportunities for me to minister.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this to me. And for reminding me about why we're still here and what we have to look forward to once we're finally done with our time here. I can't wait for that time! It will be wonderful to be with our Lord and with all of our brothers and sisters at last. Compared to eternity we haven't got long to wait at all so I best keep working at building up my treasures in heaven!

Thanks for all your help and encouragement, Bob. Please throw any of your thoughts and advice my way again. I always really appreciate it.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Saviour

Response #1:

Good stuff here!

You're doing all the right things and you're thinking about things in the right way. It's not uncommon to get a bit fatigued in the middle distance of a long race, even if you're running well and holding a good pace. Since you are running a good race, it's appropriate for you to be encouraging yourself about your progress and looking to the goal ahead. We pretty much all "want something" in this life, even believers who are following the Lord. Abraham wanted an heir . . . and had to wait a long time for him (not to mention the exceptional test he received after he finally got him). If our desires are biblical and godly, such as wanting to find and fulfill the ministry the Lord has for us, that will come if we remain faithful and patient. The waiting and the trusting is part of the testing that leads to the blessing.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob, Well... that makes two of us in the "pretty well fixed" dept.! "Pulling up stakes", coupled with nostalgia, memories, etc., is hard to contemplate....wild horses couldn't drag me away from here! However, your characterization about the west (this out west) is a bit off...fortunately for us! North western Wash. is not drying up anytime soon, as far as I can tell. We get our share of rainfall-- ~49 in. annually, with ~8 in. snow added.....more rain than I prefer, but that's why they call it the "Evergreen State", after all! ( now, east of the Cascade mountains.....well... that's a different story!) Temps here are pretty moderate, not too many "freeze you butt off" days in winter, and not too many "scorchers" in summer ( did get that record "heat wave" in June however... "global climate change"...but I don't subscribe to this thinking). Ave. high in winter is in the 40's, ave. high in summer is in the 70's.( mid 70's to mid 80's in July&Aug., occasionally into the 90's). Lows are in the 30's and 50's respectively. If you "needed" more than 158 sunny days, then eastern Wa. would be a better choice. ( some desert, some ponderosa pine forest, and lot's of rivers, including the Columbia- the largest river in the West). Please, keep tight- lipped on all this.....I'd hate to see the status quo change quickly, with a surge of many more immigrants! ( just kidding...maybe?!). Every place has its' pluses and its' drawbacks! I bet "Harvard on the Ohio River" is very beautiful! I like rivers the best--- ( as far as water goes) and we have the Skagit that runs 1/2 mi.south of our house--always enjoy walking down there to see it. If I were into fishing, there are steelhead and salmon to catch. ( I haven't fished much since my younger days.). I'm absolutely certain the "River of Life" will beat everyone of these, hands down! Here in the US, our "temporary" homes are a bountiful blessing from God for us....and we thank Him for everything He has given! ( even though we do have our individual crosses to bear). It's great to hear about the "good things" happening to our brothers and sisters outside the US too, and we're praying and feeling sorrowful for those everywhere, who are suffering in very unpleasant places and situations (eg., health problems, gov't. oppression, dangers of all types, etc.) But, in the end, we'll all be rescued, thank God! That "true good" is coming, and this will wipe out the bad.....all the afflictions we are presently suffering will be terminated. ( Rom. 8:28). Another beautiful day here ( sunny and 70)... ___ is transplanting raspberries, and I am harvesting and cleaning up in the garden.... a lot to be thankful for, in our "temporary" qtrs. out west! Hope you are well! Your friend in Jesus,

Response #2:

Thanks for your excellent, godly and positive perspective, my friend! It's an encouragement to me and I know it will be to others as well.

I was only ever out in your neck of the woods one time when I went back-packing with a group of buddies after I finished up with OCS. It was August but we still got snowed out trying to hike up Mt. Olympus. Beautiful country indeed. Maybe that explains why Seattle and Portland are such messes. Stay out of the cities, I guess.

Even when I was in grad school MANY moons ago, there was an exodus of Californians northward. I imagine it's a flood by now – with correspondingly higher prices for real estate.

Not sure you'd love the Ohio! Pretty muddy (among other things) – but at least potable water can be decanted from it, so we've got no worries there.

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

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Mt. Olympus..... interesting......when I was 12, our family back-packed into the middle of the Olympic mtns. into a huge meadow surrounded by the mtns. (called "the enchanted valley"). In near darkness, a large black bear walked up on my dad and I, at a creek where we were washing up, after arriving exhausted at the trail's end. Dad kept a cool head, and didn't run, which helped me to follow suit and try to remain calm.( no weapons on us....but mostly black bears are not overly aggressive.. unless!). He kept coming towards us, to around 8-10 ft., and then decided to turn around, and stumbled off into the brush.( a little courage helps now and then). It was such a fun camping trip, one of many that mom and dad took us on. Life was a lot simpler back then! (nostalgia, again!). "Stay out of the cities"...Amen! That's exactly what I "told" myself, at 17, when I headed north out of Seattle, to attend Western Wash. U. in Bellingham. I vowed never to return to either, and so far I have not, and find it quite pleasant not living in any city of whatever size. When I left, Seattle had 500,000 and Bellingham had 40,000. ( Wa. state pop. was ~3.5 million) .....but now ( 54 yr. later), Seattle has ~756,000, Bellingham has ~89,000, and the state has ~7 million! So much for progress! The nearest town to us is Sedro Woolley, with ~12,000, and that is too crowded to my liking, so we've been blessed to have a little "elbow room" less than 1 mi. from town. But this is all "temporary" anyway! The Exodus!...... I wasn't thrilled to see the Californians ( and others) come, messing up the real estate prices, as well as their "funny" way of thinking ( not all of them, mind you, but you get the picture). Oh, well, it's only "temporary", so that is a consolation! Thanks for those prayers, Bob! You're in ours as well. Your friend in Jesus,

Response #3:

I'd much prefer something like that! But I live in a fairly decent neighborhood less than twenty minutes from my job. Since my time is important to me and since my job is necessary, this home base has proven to be a real blessing. There are a few stands of pine trees around town, one at the top of the hill I jog up on days when I don't have to teach. When it's cool and the wind is blowing through them, one could almost imagine being on the trail above Yosemite falls or some other nice place out west. It's a question of priorities.

Yes, it's a great blessing that this is all temporary – who would want it to go on forever? Maybe at 20 years old. Not so much at . . . (ahem).

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
Philippians 1:21-23 NIV

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob , You have answered one of life's most important questions! Life is not a dream ( even though we sometimes do), and I'm quite heartened that you have things ( realities and priorities) figured out so well! We have our goals, and we want to make sure that every "move" we make is something the Lord would have us do (Eph. 5:15-17). I know you are doing this (THE priority), and He has provided you every means to accomplish the mission He has given you to perform. So, I'm very thankful for your obedience in "feeding the flock", ( job #1), for which you will be richly rewarded, for all the sacrifices you are making! (not only temporary blessings,,,,,eternal blessings!). I love your attitude, example, and dedication.... it spurs all of us in the Ichthys family on, to "press on to the mark of the high calling", and keep "fighting the good fight of faith!" You have weighed the options well, and our Lord has provided you with the "temporary" status quo blessings (the home, the close job, good food, good friends, pleasant natural surroundings and sensations, etc.), to help you navigate till our journey's end, when we will "be with Christ!" Best regards, Bob!..... remember, if you ever get in a pinch! Your friend in Jesus,
p.s. ..... and speaking of dreams.... what's coming will be beyond our wildest dreams.....1 Cor. 2:9-16, 1 Cor. 15:52-58, and so much more!....our true reality!... not a dream!

Response #4:

It really is going to be wonderful! All the more reason to discipline ourselves to be thinking about "the things above, not the things on the earth" (Col.3:2).

Thanks for the vote of confidence, my friend! None of us is perfect, however, and we can all stand improvement, yours truly not excepted.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:

I am trying to stay focused on "the things above", even though, occasionally, I get caught up in thinking about the distractions (that world view groupthink stuff). I'm not perfect, that's for sure, but I am gaining ground ( through spiritual growth), reading and studying the truths learned through Ichthys, along with the "unction of the Holy Spirit", Who makes it all doable, if we walk in the Spirit. It's a process – there is no such thing as "sinless perfection", but only "spiritual maturity" (e.g., Heb. 6:1). We'll all have some "defects", prior to our presentation / arrival, at which time we will be "perfect, without spot or wrinkle", thanks to Christ! Hope you are well. Your friend in Jesus,

Response #5:

As you know, having been at this a while, we are growing like trees, slowly but measurable if compared over time. Just look at how little we have in common with the world and how little the world has in common with us! That is one of the reasons it grates on us – if we pay it too much mind. But that is also a measure of our reshaping the way we look at everything because of our attention to the truth.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob , Attention to the truth is the water & fertilizer that makes it possible to grow and produce that good, tasty fruit we all desire to eat and live by ( no bad fruit will do). Without the "real" truth there can be no growth — only stunted stagnation at best, and unfortunately ( I don't know if that's the right word?), possibly tossed into the "fire" — the worst possible outcome! It took awhile to "unlearn" and discard what I was served up by Catholicism, followed by the pentecostal COG, which would have led me to that "bad place". ( Life choices, initially by our parents and later by ourselves, are serious business!). But God knew I wanted the truth, so He led me to a good source ( that is where you come in!). With Him all things are possible, and I thank Him for all the love , grace, and mercy He has given me. Best Regards! Your friend in Jesus, the One who made it all possible,

Response #6:

Your prior "bad place" experiences were educational and also served to inoculate you. Believers who respond to these sorts of things – and who learn from their own bad decisions – are the ones who win the victory in the end.

This is a fight (to use another analogy); and few fights are clean or easy or simple. On the farm, to go back to your analogy, there is dirt and manure to shovel, and plenty of weeds and vermin to contend with. God provides the important things such as sunlight and gives the growth – but it still doesn't happen by accident without any input from us. He honors our work – when we are relying on Him and His grace to make it count.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17 NIV

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob, So, God does honor our work when we rely on Him and His favor to make our "work" count. Our input is necessary also, before He will move. Does this mean the "work" is something that God would want us to do, in the first place? And it won't happen "by accident" .... does that mean that there is no way He will move on our behalf without our seeking Him? Then we must always seek Him and trust Him for the results. I wished I knew more, but I'm working on it ( a lot more work to learn and do , with His help). I'm always asking Him to show me what I should be doing, in the correct way. I got "beat up" pretty bad, ( all those false approaches and teaching in the past), but I don't dwell on it much at all anymore. ( I do pray for those who got sucked in, like I was, and don't see they are in that "bad place"). The "Truth" has set me free, and I pray they will be set free as well! Thanks for your invaluable guidance, Bob! In Jesus,

Response #7:

It's as it says in this scripture:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV

We belong to Him; we are His work – and any work we do has been prepared for us to do so that when we do it, it is done in His power, the power of the Spirit, and is thus a result of grace. We DO have to "do it", but when we do we acknowledge that we are "worthless servants" who are only doing what we always should have been doing (Lk.17:10). We can't even pronounce a blessing without the Spirit of God (1Cor.12:3). So, yes, we have to seek Him, grow in Him, walk with Him, and determine to serve Him – but He is the One who is in us empowering us through the Spirit "to will and to do" (Phil.2:13).

You are a trophy of grace, my friend (1Tim.1:15-16) – as are we all, one way or another.

Keeping you and your family in my daily prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

I don't fit the mold of the past influence anymore .... God has had immense patience for me, and everyone who puts their faith in Him. There have been a lot of people "building houses", but "unless the Lord builds the house, they that build it are building in vain". I'm eternally grateful to (finally) be in His "house!" ( the Church that Jesus is building, "and the gates of hell will not prevail against it"). "Our faith is standing in the power of God, not the wisdom of men."( all those false approaches and teachings). We can't possibly do anything, in our own juice, (running on empty, worthless works), only doing the works He would have us to do will count (His workmanship). And He gives us the power "to will and to do". Is grace God's favor and gift, along with His power, "telling" us what that work is, and what it entails? I know you've taught us that we all have our own "gift from the Spirit" ( a part to play in/for His church). Is this the specific "workmanship of /for good works, created in Christ Jesus"? Is this where rewards at the "bema seat" come into play? Or is this our "regular service?" Am I getting any of this correct? Thanks for prayers and explanations. You are in my prayers too, Bob. Hope you had a restful weekend! In Jesus,

Response #8:

"Grace" simply means God's favor towards us. In scripture, it emphases that we don't deserve it and that it is His doing. But it's not some sort of "magical pixie dust" – that is RC-type thinking. He favors all who respond to Him in His Son our Lord Jesus Christ; we belong to Him and receive as a result all manner of good things (link).

As to rewards, this is a very detailed topic (here's the top link). Bottom line: we will be rewarded for every truly positive thing we have done (or said or thought) in this life in the power of the Spirit; top rewards go to those fulfilling the mandates of spiritual growth (i.e., reaching maturity); progress (i.e., passing major tests); and production (i.e., fulfilling the ministries which Christ assigns).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Thanks, Bob, for your clarification on grace and rewards and the accompanying links. I'm glad to get a more comprehensive look into the truth of these issues. and I am learning to incorporate these into the correct way of thinking ( broadening my understanding). I'm not thinking grace is "magic pixie dust", nor did I think that way when I was being influenced by RC imaginations (which would pronounce me a heretic, worthy of excommunication..... could have been worse... "the Inquisition"!). When I was involved in that "religion," from birth until 18yr., I wasn't giving it too much attention.... most definitely not a candidate for seminary ( just going with the flow, following my parents, though never saved for "sure", and not knowing the truth about it..... or for that matter anything else to boot.... to my favor!). Do you think I am heading in the wrong direction by something I said in a previous email? ( RC thinking....? notions? unconsciously....or by inference?). It's certainly my heart's desire to be learning, believing, and applying all the truth I have been gleaning by personal Bible study, as well as your gracious work to help me understand what would be impossible on my own, without your assistance. ( so important to be, and stay on track... so thanks for steering this steer!). Salvation is all about God's grace and our acceptance of Christ's work in dying for us at the cross ( through our faith in who He is, and what He has done for us). We did not deserve His favor at salvation, and after receiving "His Gift" we are the beneficiaries of further grace from Him. I am very thankful to Him for this, as well as His love and mercy! In the past, I confess, I had a lot ( and then some) wrong! Salvation by works is not true Christianity......one's "performance" is not a contingent requirement for salvation, as RC, COG, Mormons, " Holiness Pentecostals", and others teach (for RC, it was Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell....with the hope of dying in "the state of grace"..... as far as I know, this means "doing time" in Purgatory....if you weren't 100% "perfect"....for some indeterminate amount of time before "release"... pretty bizarre... but a lot of RC stuff follows suit!). By doing this they reject the "gospel of grace", and disqualify themselves from inheriting eternal life. Only by believing the truth and following the "TRUTH" (ie. Jesus Christ), is the prerequisite to making it in ( a stark reality.....being 100% wrong on this for a lot of "religions"). Those "holiness" folks ( COG) taught that only "holy" people were going to make Heaven their home! ( I think I flunked that test!). The good news, out of all this, is that true Christians DO have the confidence of their salvation status and their eternal destiny. (1 Pet. 1:8). No one could ever be justified by the works of the Law ( foolish bewitched Galatians, "fallen" from grace).....it's only through faith, by means of the Spirit (our one baptism), and performed by God's unmerited grace, that we can have a relationship with, and blessings from Him...... He imparts these graces on us when we respond to Him in faith. Is my understanding of this correct? Any additional parts....to a better understanding? This one thing I know....there's no "second place winners" in this.....in salvation ( John 3:18), just as there couldn't be in a gunfight, or a football game..... but this issue of salvation is the only "winning" that really matters in the end. ( Acts 16: 31; Eph. 2:8-10). Christ won this victory for us at the cross, and we are truly blessed by His grace (because we now belong to Him, we are reaping the benefits from His work.)........we share in His victory through our faith. (1 John 5: 4-5: Rev. 21:7). I haven't plunged into the details on the topic of rewards yet, but plan to dive in, in the near future. I'm getting behind on your other studies too , but I'm moving ahead slowly on Pet. #35 (very good!.... it usually takes me going through the studies at least 2x, to get a good handle on things). Hope and pray you are well, and thanks again for your help and prayers on all fronts. In Jesus,

Response #9:

I'm liking all that I'm hearing, my friend!

"being 100% wrong on this for a lot of "religions": In a nutshell, that is exactly what "religion" is, namely, a means of working one's way into heaven (or paradise or nirvana or whatever). The word religion is a Latin derived one, meaning, literally, "superstition". That's why it's good and proper not to call what we do being believers in Christ a "religion" – since as you express so well, He rescued us from that false approach. All we did was say "thank you!"

It boggles my mind how so many people would rather face the fires of hell for all eternity rather than to humble themselves and say "thank you!" for the inimitable Gift of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob, Interesting..... " superstition = religion"......that does define it, ( false beliefs, and practices, trying to work one's way into Heaven.... like Nimrod's tower, RC's relics, statues , images, etc.), whereas being a believer in Christ is having a direct, personal relationship with Him, with no false beliefs or practices included (ie. religion). It is baffling that people, with their proud, hard hearts, would rather push the "select button" for hell, instead of wanting to be rescued from it, by simply acknowledging they are sinners, and calling on His Name to save them. Salvation is for whosoever will ( our free will choice), and we believers are very thankful we made that choice (the most important everlasting choice, before death, anyone will ever make..... with no " do over select button" for the believer or the unbeliever!). It's not hard to humble oneself, and say "yes" to Him, to receive "His Gift"! ( God's gracious Gift!). I'm glad I made that choice, and thank Him for rescuing me from that "bad place", now instead to be dwelling in His blessings, living in that "perfect place" (the New Jerusalem) with Him, and all who put their trust in Him! In Jesus,

Response #10:

"It's not hard to humble oneself, and say "yes" to Him, to receive "His Gift"! ( God's gracious Gift!)." . . . and yet that is exactly the state of ingratitude where the vast majority of the human race has always been.

. . . they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful . . .
Romans 1:20b-21a NKJV

I'm thankful that you ARE thankful!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob, #MeToo on "thankful", forever! Thankfully, God always has made Himself known to everyone, in every corner of His world.... so there will never be any excuse not to come to Him, and bring glory to Him ( in our time of need.....He doesn't need us). So here we are in His world..... and the "clock" (history) is ticking down. Even so, people are hell-bent, on the "clock", to gain and achieve the "whole world", when instead, they should have "listened" to Jesus, and sought after the "real treasure" (foolish pursuits will never satisfy... it's all an illusion). "Seek you first the kingdom of God , then all these things shall be added to you." Esau made that foolish, eternal mistake..... a bad bargain in the end. He could have had it "all", but no...... he thought "selling" his birthright for a mere "bowl of pottage" was a good deal at the time. In the end, that didn't work out so well for him. There was a consequence for Esau.....and sometimes you can't change what has been done....finding out too late to make the right choice..... "and then the door was shut". (eg., the rich man and Lazarus, Noah and his mockers, the wise and the foolish virgins, etc.). Esau wanted that blessing alright, but never came to repentance, ie. never "saved". There are only two alternatives here..... but only one is the truth, and the best alternative. Believers have taken hold of the "Truth"......coming to the "Truth", the "Way", and the "Life"... all embodied in Jesus Christ! He is "calling" everyone, but people, for a myriad of reasons, do not want to receive Him...... there is no good reason or choice to decline the "invitation" to eternal life, paid in full, by Him at the cross. Only knowing , believing, and acting on the "Truth" will do. It seems so easy for believers (and it is for us, but not for our Lord, who gave His life to "purchase" us).... who gladly fall on God's mercy to receive His grace and forgiveness at salvation, and His grace continuing"forever." ( simply believe!). But unbelievers think they are the reasonable and "smart " ones, while we are simply unreasonable fools. "Forever" is not in their vocabulary.......but they will be "smart " enough to find out in the end.....and reasonably realize what "forever" means.....blessing or cursing....."forever" is such a long "no time"! How anyone could trust themselves (their"reasonable thinking") instead of God, Who has made Himself known to all, is the quintessential dilemma...... only solved when we put our faith in Him, and endure in our faith till the end. (Matt. 24:13). When asked, "smoking.... or no smoking?".......now that's no joke in eternity! (John 3:18). However, "where there's life there's hope". I pray they will make the right choice, while the "door" is still open! (shutting soon.....lockdown coming). That "clock" is ticking really fast! It's time for those on the outside to get into the "race".....and win! ( "today is the day for salvation!"). There will be no "second place winners". Hope and pray all is well for you! Thanks for being thankful that I am thankful! We know who our help comes from.....our help comes from the Lord! In Jesus,

Response #11:

That's right. People throughout the ages have lost sight of eternity – or, more properly, in fear they hardened their hearts against thinking about it. Those for whom that uncomfortable light seeped through have comforted themselves with the idea of "living on" through their accomplishments (e.g., vita brevis, ars longa). But that is patent folly.

There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.
Ecclesiastes 1:11 NIV1984

Not that it would make any difference to them after death if remembered by all – that's just a salve to put on now which will be meaningless later.

As to Esau, his "tears" with which he sought "a change of mind" were directed towards Isaac and the giving of the blessing to Jacob – not to God regarding repentance and salvation (see the link).

Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.
Genesis 27:38 NIV

Esau never cared about God; only about the things of this world.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

I'm sorry to be so persistent and needy this week Bob. I've been put in the fire again but I realise that I do need refining.

Satan knows that depression works well as a weapon. I hope one day that I will defeat this weapon and break it in two because I would much rather have temptation or physical pain then mental suffering. The enemy uses it because he knows it works. I had just about got the handle of getting over depression, knowing it is not from within but without but this current bout has been extremely crippling and I have had doubts and temptations to go back to the world, I've had the kitchen sink thrown at me this time.

I decided to sit with pen and paper today and prayerfully write down all the feelings and doubts and the problems. Next to these I am writing scripture to combat these just like our Lord did. I will try to commit to memory these verses.

The other day I wrote to you and I felt great and was really resting in the Lord and the next day a juggernaut of emotional despair hit me full on, it was insane but then I should have realised that Peter says not to "think it strange". You told me I would get opposition but I guess I didn't expect the flak to commence the day after. You're right when you said that the devil isn't a gentleman. He doesn't fight using Queensberry rules or anything like that or care very much if it "just isn't cricket". In fact it would be fair to say that his game plan is the "crueller" better. He knows our weaknesses and he will use our worst one again and again without fail. I have also noticed though that when a weapon doesn't work than he quickly disposes of it and then looks around to find one that will. So that means that if depression no longer has a hold on me then it will no longer be used as a weapon against me. In Isaiah it says that "no weapon forged against us shall prosper". That means that if I lean on God and trust His deliverance then if I am patient, the weapon of depression will no longer prosper and that means it will no longer have an effect on me and so will no longer be deployed.

On another different subject. If we are living at the end of the 6000th year of human history which is towards the end of the 6th day of God's week (the Millennial Kingdom reign being the 7000th year or 7th day and the Sabbath). Does the number 666 have anything to do with this? I know it is showing the antichrist fails to reach the number of perfection which is 7. Could it also represent his appearance at the end of the 6th day? In that his appearance is on the 6th day at the 6th hour at the 6th minute?

Could his appearance be calculated from this? Just wondering.

Anyway. I'll be okay Bob. I know the Lord will get me through even when it feels very rough. I think I may need to go on a news media diet though as I am not wearing well through it. I have more than enough things to keep me busy and working and I don't need anymore worldly material for my current depression to feed on!

I hope this finds you well my friend!

In Jesus,

Response #12:

One thing I have learned in my own journey with the Lord is that there is no need to apologize for "feeling bad". There are all manner of reasons to feel bad. As I have sometimes remarked, "If you're not feeling a little depressed, you're just not paying attention".

The thing is, the Christian life is not about how we feel. Paul tells Timothy to stick with his responsibilities, "in season and out of season" (2Tim.4:2); meaning that regardless of how we feel, we Christians who are intent on serving Jesus Christ need to be consistent in the good things we are doing.

There are ways to encourage ourselves, even in the darkest hours – but this requires that we actually do so (1Sam.30:6).

And we have the Holy Spirit who is the supreme Encourager (Jn.14-16; 2Cor.1:3-7) – but we actually have to respond to His initiations in our behalf to gain that encouragement.

And we may have Christian friends and acquaintances who are led to lend us a helping hand in our troubles, but here too it requires us to respond in a godly way to get that benefit.

In other words, conquering despair as with all other emotions is not automatic or accidental: it requires us to use the truth we have learned and apply it, even when we feel terrible.

But whether we do a good job with this when such tests come or not, we are still responsible to do what we are supposed to be doing regardless of how we are feeling. Being depressed is a load just like being physically sick is a load, but God will cure the latter and He has given us the spiritual resources to overcome the former. Meantime, it's up to us to continue the fight in spite of this resistance, and in spite of whether or not it is mostly coming from internal or external sources. It's a moot point really since our job is the same either way: continue to deny ourselves, then pick up our crosses and follow the Lord.

I have also found that if we DO fight this fight, things DO get better, often more quickly that we could have imagined.

(7) Therefore subordinate yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (8) Get closer to God, and He will get closer to you.
James 4:7-8a

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.
p.s. On the math, I'm not sure how this would work. Could you elaborate (math gives me a headache).

Question #13:


Response #13:

Please don't be hard on yourself about this. Given the situation you are in, well, anyone would have trouble with it. It's just that you react differently to these stresses than some others would. Believe me, I can imagine (and know about) far worse reactions!

You might have had a "lost day" or a few hours in there over the weekend, but that hasn't been unusual during Covid for people who are not going out of the house for a regular routine. "All this" has made it hard for most people to divide home from work and thus to have a normal sense of time. I do hear what you are saying. All the more reason, it seems to me, to get on with latching on to that "regular routine" of work or business out at a place of work, preferably. It is "toe jamb" to have to do it, but I have noticed that colleagues who retire have a harder time of it than those of us who keep at it.

I've never been able to accomplish anything in my own life without developing a fairly solid routine that fits whatever circumstances I find myself in, one that incorporates whatever work I'm having to do, exercise, and – of course – Bible study, prayer, and ministry. It doesn't leave a lot of free time, but it leaves enough, and that is better for one's emotional health than having far too much time on one's hands. I've only ever met a very few people in my life who were suited to having boundless time on their hands and then being able make good use of it; most of us flounder after a couple of days of that sort of thing.

So you could see someone or get on meds. But I rather suspect that a better solution would be a strong dose of self-discipline wedded to a realistic program and schedule designed to produce your financial independence, spiritual growth, and eventual ministry; that would be far better than thousands of dollars worth of therapy and pills. It's just the way we human beings are built. In most times and places in the history of the world for most people, not scrambling 24/7 was not an option. Turns out it's better for us if we do have to scramble; and if we don't, it's better for us if we do so anyway. God knew what He was doing when He cursed the earth so that we have to earn our bread by the sweat of our brows. If Eden had remained open and available, or if the earth were not cursed, humanity would have destroyed itself by now without any further help from the evil one.

So please take heart, my friend! I am praying for your deliverance.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Professor,

How are you sir? It has certainly been a while. I am fine. I need to update you on happenings in my personal situation. My economic woes have eased considerably at the present time. I have moved out of my previous area where my RC family and my RC neighbours so mercilessly persecuted me because of my new faith. I have started some small businesses that are bearing fruit and making me some little but adequate money. I live in my own house now, and I have time to do my study and production undisturbed, except for the usual day-to-day issues that everyone experiences. I do thank you for your prayers, and the prayers of every one at Ichthys. It has been a wonderful deliverance by the Lord!

Attached, please find the Kiswahili translation of Peter #34. [link]

In Jesus our King,

Response #14:

Delighted to hear from you, my friend! And thank you so much for Peter #34 translated. I know a little bit about translation – I know that it is NOT easy (as some people who have never done it imagine it must be). So working your way through 50+ pages of my dense prose and putting it into understandable form in any other language is an onerous task. I appreciate your persistence and love for the Lord! And I'll bet that you understand the material now yourself a great deal better as a result.

I'm also very glad to hear that you are in a better place, both geographically and in terms of your personal situation. Enduring persecution for one's beliefs is one of the very hardest things to handle in this life. But you have proven that you not only can but also that you have not let it dampen your love for the Lord or keep you from the work He has given you. I praise God for you!

I'm doing fine – thank you for asking, my friend! No doubt the prayers of strong believers such as yourself have a good deal to do with that. Work goes well in spite of all the ups and downs of the last two years, and my health is in good shape as well. God is good!

I've posted your files – have a look and let me know if you spot any problems.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Prof, how are you generally sir? Trusting God you're doing ok what with Delta rampage and its affecting your work at U of L. Praying that whatever affliction arises (masks?), you will overcome to His glory. I daily remember to pray for you.

I'm doing ok in the Lord even though things have been quite rough, but if Paul could call all that happened to him a light affliction, maybe mine is no affliction? Lol.

I'm back in __ with my daughter but [omitted] . . . I can't really complain cos I know the Lord is in charge and He is and will see me through. In fact in the midst of all this my second son graduated as a Medical Doctor. I give praise and all glory to God! Why should I complain when God is still blessing me? And if it is only you and our friend praying for me, I'll stay focused cos He will bring me to a safe harbor.

Also when I hear of how our friend got the go ahead to marry his beloved I was excited cos I remember the opposition I had in my time and how God helped me. Made me pray fervently for him. Questions I have along the way, he has been invaluable to me. He has a lot of your spirit and his mind is more agile than mine! Thank God. I'm praying to have input to his wedding. I know you are praying for him too. We your protégées say thank you sir for your love.

My main stress has been to procure what I need to do the ministry work I perceive. Well, meanwhile I'm still inputting (I'm going through Peter #35) but believe I'll soon get there. I'm expectant. Gods time is best. No devil will stop me from doing what I was sent to do before leaving this world. So Prof, keep praying or me.

Prof, we always thank God for you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have and have communicated to us because of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3. God bless you with grace and peace and more anointing Prof. Much love to you in Christ.

In Him

Response #15:

How wonderful to hear from you, my friend! Our friend had told me that you and your wife had both developed problems with your phones at the same time. I'm glad to see that you are "back in comm", at least with email.

I'm sorry to hear that the [. . . . ]s drag on. I was just explaining to another believer who is experiencing the same testing – repeatedly – that this is often the way things work. That is to say, whatever area of testing we have, be it health, or finances, or legal troubles, or bad neighbors, or whatever, there seems to be a very strong pattern of the very SAME test/tests coming up again and/or being recycled. We can see why the evil one would want to do that – having made a dent, he wants to keep pounding away in hopes of breaking through. For similar reasons it may be that the Lord allows this to show all and sundry through our witness that we are not going to back down, no matter what. Job was unique in that he "got it" three ways: loss of family and wealth, loss, health, and then – the one he couldn't handle – sorry excuses for friends blaming him for what was decidedly not his fault. If we are being tested with things that are objectively "not really our fault" (no one is perfect, of course, but it is generally very clear when something is a test and not a consequence), we can rejoice, as James tells us, because we understand that this results for those who pass such tests in spiritual growth, approval and reward (Jas.1:2-4). Or as Peter puts it . . .

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be praised, who has in His great mercy caused us to be reborn to a hope which lives through Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, and to an inheritance which will never be destroyed, defiled, or dimmed, but which is being guarded in heaven for us, who are ourselves also being kept safe by God's power and our faith in Him to an ultimate deliverance ready to be unveiled at the end of time. Rejoice in this [salvation to come], even though at present it may for a time be your lot to suffer through various trials so that this validation (lit., “assaying”) of your faith [which results from your successful passing of these tests] may result in praise, glory and honor for you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. For this [validation process] has a greater benefit [for you] than [is true in the case of] gold, which, while it is also proved by fire, ultimately perishes (e.g., in contrast to the eternal rewards of faith proved genuine through testing).
1st Peter 1:3-7

In other words, we are looking towards eternity, towards our eternal reward, towards a good report before our Lord. And passing such test guarantees these things. The fact that you remain dedicated not only to spiritual growth and progress but also to producing a good crop for the Lord speaks volumes about your spiritual courage, my friend! I have no doubt that the right door will open at the right time; just keep persevering.

Congratulations on your son's graduation! That really is wonderful, when a son follows in his father's footsteps and has such success.

Thanks for your prayers and good words, my friend. They mean a lot. Things are in a good place here, and the prayers of strong believers like yourselves are no doubt a very large part of that – so I appreciate them very much.

Yes, wonderful news about our friend! I hope he will be able to find his way into making a good living, and also possibly emigration, if that is what they decide on. Keeping him in my prayers – and you and your family too, my friend, every day. Hope your health is doing better.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I am wondering why those "under the earth" are mentioned with those that are on the earth? I am assuming that the reference to "under the earth" is "Hades" where the unbelievers are. Seems odd that this would be mentioned for this group of people, because we know for sure that they are not worthy.

No one was found worthy in any of these places mentioned, so why include those who are in Hades, for that is a given?

I know it sounds like perhaps a dumb question, but you know me by now, that I am just curious.

Thanks always for your great help and explanation as to why.

Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #16:

It's an excellent observation!

That part of the verse, Revelation 5:3, is not in the original Greek text. It was added later by some scribe or copiest (to the ms. used by the KJV translators and others), apparently to balance things out to his way of thinking. But it's in fact problematic, as you say immediately.

The book of Revelation more than any other needs to be carefully checked in terms of the translations. I spent a great deal of time on this issue, reading the entire Greek mss. Sinaiticus in Revelation in the course of doing my own translation of the book for the "Coming Tribulation" series. It turns out that the least care has been given to the earliest witnesses by translators of this book, from the KJV down to the present time. And sometimes, as in your question, it REALLY matters (e.g, including the false interpolation at Revelation 20:5, "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished", which is NOT part of scripture either).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:


Response #17:

I also read this in scripture:

After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.
2nd Corinthians 12:14b

I would agree that if it is a question of one's parents becoming indigent or otherwise really needing serious help, that it is right and good for us to help them – as long as they have not proven themselves unworthy of (or dangerous to) help and have fellowship with.

But if I'm not mistaken there's no question of indigence or severe need in your family's case. And to the extent that one's parents may have abandoned them or treated them with particular cruelty, I would also be of the opinion that any help forthcoming in the future after such maltreatment would be a case of going "above and beyond'.

One thing I know for certain is that if we do good to people who have treated us badly in the hopes of having them treat us better or like us or appreciate us (as they have not in the past), we are going to be severely disappointed. People don't change – except through the Word of God. People who have treated us badly are not going to be changed by us doing even more good things for them than we did in the past. They are going to be just as ungrateful and treat us worse – if we give them the chance.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I am currently studying your teaching on Peter's sermon number 20 and have a few questions.

In the NASB this verse, 1 Samuel 28:13, says: "The king said to her, "Do not be afraid, but what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, I see a divine being coming up out of the earth".

1. Did God actually allow Samuel to be called up from Paradise, which is where he was? Apparently, He did, because the medium at Endor did.

2. God's own Word states that "necromancy"/pretended communication with the dead is forbidden.

3. The Hebrew word used here in this verse, as you well know, is Elohim. The NASB says "divine being", while the KJV says"I see gods ascending from the earth". Is this medium faking in order to deceive Saul?

4. Saul did not actually see this figure coming up from the earth, only the medium says what she saw; if she really did??.

This is really boggling my mind, so can you please provide me with the answers to my question. I have always been puzzled by this.

Thanks so much as always.

P.S. I want to be able to teach this to a group of people, so I need to have a really good understanding, for I know that these believers will have some questions, just like I do.

Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #18:

I'll give you some links below. To answer your questions, the witch of Endor had never actually called up anyone from the dead before because that is impossible . . . unless God for some reason makes it happen.

Mediums before and since have often been empowered by demons who have all manner of powers. They can know things about the individuals who are asking the questions simply by observing them in ways that other human beings cannot. So necromancy may seem real, but it has never actually been able to do what it promises. It is indeed forbidden by scripture, and Saul himself had "crusaded" against such people and such practices in times past. In this instance, the woman was more surprised than Saul to see this spirit rising up from below the earth – as it had never happened before. And it only happened this time because God empowered it for His own purposes, namely, to rebuke Saul.

As to how the woman describes seeing Samuel, 1 Samuel 28:13, she says she sees "'elohim" coming up. This word can be translated as God, gods, powerful ones, and in many other ways, depending on what the woman meant. 'Elohim is technically a plural, so when the serpent says to Eve, "You will be like God" it can equally mean "like gods", depending upon whether the person hearing the lie is thinking of the One God or gods plural. The same thing applies here.

Personally, I think it is doubtful that the woman imagined she was seeing God, but she was seeing something that amazed her, so using this word makes a certain amount of sense, when considered from her point of view. What we can say for certain is that this was NOT "God", regardless of what she thought, nor do we have to give credence to the opinion of an unbeliever, even if we use this translation. Clearly, from what transpires, we find out that this was indeed the spirit of Samuel, given to exhibit a human likeness such as he had when he was alive (compare the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration). And clearly too, Saul is given to see him, not at first but after he has come up, because Samuel has a conversation with Saul in which he prophesies his death. Nothing like this particular instance had ever happened before nor has it ever happened afterwards.

There is more info and explanation at these links:

Was it really Samuel?

Questions about Endor (keep reading past the linked one)

The Witch of Endor and the Spirit of Samuel

Spiritual Warfare II

Best wishes for your teaching!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Watching Shepard Chapel on tv, I watch and study a lot there. Arnold Murray was asked about the Length of time of the tribulation. Did the lord Jesus shorten second half of tribulation to 5 months or the entire tribulation to 5 months? Ref to rev 9:5. What was supposed to be 7 years, 3/ 1/2 and 3 1/2 . I read a tribulation matt 24: 9 as a tribulation period. verse 21 starting with " for then " as next or afterwards, Great tribulation. The mid point when satan actually appears, de facto.


If the lord shortened the entire period to 5 months. 2 1/2 months and 2 1/2 months the first 2 1/2 are tribulation and the second half are the great trib ? 24: 21 For then, meaning next or after this verses 9 -20 starts great trib. I have no trouble with entire period shortened to 5 months, I argue with my brother on there is a tribulation and a great tribulation period. Brother says just one period of tribulation only. Clearly there is a distinction between the two periods. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks for your site and biblical studies.

Response #19:

As to "Did the lord Jesus shorten second half of tribulation to 5 months or the entire tribulation to 5 months?", the quick answer is "neither".

(21) “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (22) And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened."
Matthew 24:21-22 NKJV

As our Lord says very distinctly, the shortening is a matter of "days", not weeks or months, and certainly not years of shortening.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."
Matthew 24:26 NKJV

Here we see that the second advent's precise timing is a matter of hours as well as days – in other words, the shortening is a matter of a few but not of many days. That makes sense when we consider all of the places where the duration of the Great Tribulation, the second 3 and 1/2 years of the seven year Tribulation, are described:

In Daniel 7:25, the saints of the Most High (i.e., believers) are said to be handed over into the power of the little horn (i.e., antichrist and the Great Persecution) for "a time, times, and half a time", a biblical way of expressing the three and one half years of the Great Tribulation.(79)

In Daniel 9:27, "the people of the prince which is to come" (i.e., antichrist as the ruler of revived Rome) will make a treaty during the last "seven" and break it in the middle of the "seven", that is, during the middle of the seven years at the outset of the Great Tribulation.

In Daniel 12:7, the angel speaking with Daniel declares that it will be "a time, times, and half a time" before the persecutions stop and everything comes to an end, that is, the Great Tribulation will last three and one half years.

In Revelation 11:2, the gentiles (i.e., the army of antichrist) will afflict Jerusalem for 42 months, that is, during the entire three and a half year period of the Great Tribulation (albeit under varying circumstances).

In Revelation 12:6, the woman Israel is said to be protected for 1,260 days, that is, during the whole 42 months of the Great Tribulation (expressed in standard 30 day months).

In Revelation 12:14, the woman Israel is said to be protected for a time, times, and half a time, that is, during this same period of the Great Tribulation's three and a half years.

In Revelation 13:5, the unbridled reign of antichrist is said to last for 42 months, that is, for the duration of the Great Tribulation.

None of the above prophecies could be true if the shortening our Lord referred to lasted more than a few days (a few weeks at most). That makes sense too when viewed from the standpoint of the Jewish ceremonial calendar which gives us the basic chronology of the whole of human history (see the link). Remember that the spring festivals represent the first advent, with Passover representing the cross when the "Lamb of God" is slaughtered to take away the sins of the world. The fall festivals, however, represent the second advent, with the last of them, the feast of booths or tabernacles (Heb. Sukkoth), representing the regathering of Israel in the Millennium following the Messiah's return and commencement of His rule.

So while it would be nice to imagine that we won't have to go through an entire seven years (lacking only a few days of the complete seven), that is not what the Bible clearly tells us is going to happen. Indeed, it would be nice to think that somehow we aren't going to have to go through the Tribulation at all . . . which was no doubt the impetus behind the origin of the false doctrine of the pre-Tribulation "rapture".

Seeing these things for what they are is all the more reason to double down on our readiness for that harsh time to come, not by making material preparations, but by concentrating on our spiritual growth. To get through those seven years without losing our faith will require the utmost in the way of spiritual resources – whereas cans of tuna fish won't do us any good if we are unable to bear up in our hearts through applying the truth of the Word of God.

"All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."
Matthew 24:8-13 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Thank you for the message and reply. None is more important than the return Of Christ , unless it’s being always ready. I am ready for a long period or a quick Real fast event. Most people aren’t ready Have no clue to what’s coming and why. Caught off guard; Amos 8:11 Why I ask, why are they running ? Enjoy your studies , they are a godsend

"To get through those seven years without losing our faith will require the utmost in the way of spiritual resources -- whereas cans of tuna fish won't do us any good if we are unable to bear up in our hearts through applying the truth of the Word of God."

This was a gold nugget, will print and keep. It’s strong, on point, exactly what the lord
Wants you to do and understand. Salute

Response #20:


Write any time.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

1. I am wondering whether there are additional scriptures that indicate how these two events take place in a literal sense, in your study as indicated in the reference. You wrote:

"In fulfillment of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, however, Satan will engage in just such an activity in order to spawn the beast, making the antichrist "the seed of the serpent" in a literal sense. That this principle is equally true of the devil's fathering of antichrist and of the beast's astounding success in dominating the world is specifically stated by scripture."

Will the fallen angel satan actually cohabit with a woman to give birth to a child? I am speaking in human terms since the above says: "Satan will engage in just such an activity in order to spawn? the beast/ antichrist.

2. The following question is separate from the previous and is: How can we be holy as God is holy? This question came to my mind kind of suddenly. Jesus of course we know was sinless, He did not have a sinful nature, but as humans, because of Adam, we do have that sinful nature.

Perhaps this is speaking in a spiritual sense because in our flesh we can never in this life be holy in our flesh.

3. It seems to me that it is extremely difficult to love someone, and I am thinking specifically about Muslim terrorists who kill just to kill, thinking it is their God's will. How can we love them? it is not so easy. I struggle with this and am trying to figure it out. I don't want to displease God and don't want hatred to overwhelm me either. I know that true love comes from our LORD, but it is still hard, and that bothers me.

Thanks so much for your kind help to an inquisitive person.

P.S. I am scheduled to have surgery for the implant of a pacemaker for my slow heart. Will you pray that the surgery goes well and for quick healing? Guess maybe it's getting close for me to go home, but like Paul, I am between going home or staying here but I would like to stay here for I have much more work that I want to do for the LORD before I go.

Thanks again for your kindness and all of your wonderful studies.

May God bless you richly as you continue in His work.

Your friend,

Response #21:

On (1), if you're asking about the practicalities, the Genesis chapter six episode of fallen angels producing the nephilim (apparently a large number), is certainly precedent for the mechanics (see the link).

On (2), while no one can achieve sinless perfection in this life, both because of the sin nature, and because we all continue to sin, absolute holiness is impossible. But that doesn't mean we can't skew in a holy direction and come to live lives which are essentially sanctified, where we are turning our backs on the world and striving to do what is right. In a sense, your question touches the whole of Christian existence. There is always room to improve in our offense as well as in our defense; the more we do and the better we do, the more Christ is glorified and the bigger reward for us. But the Bible never makes the perfect the enemy of the good. Because absolute and all-the-time holiness is unachievable is no excuse for not doing the best we can.

On (3) we don't have to like everyone; we do have to love them with Christian agape love – which means wanting what God wants for them: salvation. For our brothers and sisters the bar is higher. THEY are our true neighbors. For unbelievers, God wants all to be saved and we want that too. We are to tolerate them with a godly Christian tolerance (1Cor.13:3-7), but we don't have to waste an iota of time, effort of emotion trying to "like" those whom we rightly consider repellent. We do the right thing, staying away from hate and anger as best we can, making use of opportunities to minister if the Lord provides, leaving revenge to the Lord, and putting things in prayer. This passage says it all:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:19-21 NKJV

I'll be praying for you, my friend – and I've also put up an Ichthys request for you.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello Professor,

Just wanted to run a few quick questions by you. I am aware that women are not to teach in and pastor a local congregation. But are there other teaching venues where women are allowed to teach men at all? I mentioned this as a possibility (though not dogmatically) to other people in times past and got an immediate "no, women are not to teach men period" for an answer. I've read some of your links on this subject on Ichthys but I am still confused as I don't think I understood your answers.

Also, I know and agree with you that believers should stay out of politics. But wouldn't you say that some Christians are called to serve through politics? I am aware that some believers minister through their jobs and dispense the truth to people while interacting with them if the opportunities present themselves. After all, the Lord can get the truth to people in many ways and I don't see why politics would be exempt. Of course we don't want to have that "let's make the world a better place" mentality because that is not going to happen until our Lord returns, and even that only for a thousand years. I know the basics in all this- focus primarily on growth, progress, and production, but I would imagine there must be a balance here. This issue bothers me because I just wouldn't want to cast a sweeping judgment on people by telling them that all believers should stay out of politics period even though some may be called to channel their spiritual gifts through the political system. What are your thoughts on this? I would like to comment on this issue in a paper I'm writing but I never teach anything I'm not sure on. I take that rule very seriously- "if you're not sure and don't know, don't teach it!" Not only that, but there is a good chance that whatever I teach now I will have to defend at some point in the future and I need to have good answers prepared. I know some of what I asked you above, but my knowledge on these things is incomplete.

In Christ,

Response #22:

On the first question, I'm not sure I understand the confusion. Best link on this is in Basics 6B: Ecclesiology: "Women in Leadership".  That link covers all the bases. The bottom line is that adult Christian men in a church setting ought only to be taught men with the gift of pastor teacher, and then only by ones sufficiently prepared to teach.

Here are some more links:

Woman pastors 5

Woman pastors 4

Woman pastors 3

Woman pastors 2

Woman pastors 1

Feel free to write back if you still find this confusing.

On the question of politics, democracy is never authorized in the Bible. That doesn't mean that it is wrong per se – and I certainly prefer living in this country than any other – but it ought to give a believer pause before getting involved in political action, especially so direct as in running for political office. Can you think of a single verse in the Bible that directly encourages political involvement? There are plenty which tell us to obey law and order and specifically also to "obey the king".

Believe me, I know all the arguments which say that believers ought to get politically involved. But I've never seen it do any believer any good, neither in terms of those who do so nor in terms of the locality concerned. There are plenty of so-called Christians who are all too happy to "throw their hats" into the political ring. Have you noticed, for example, any shortage of people who say they are Christians running for president?

Political involvement is saying in effect that we don't trust the Lord to work things out: we have to do it ourselves. This is always a fine line. In terms of providing for ourselves, we do trust the Lord, but He does expect us to work for a living. In terms of politics, one might argue that therefore we have to "do our part". But while the Bible directly requires us to work, it does not directly require us to vote – let alone campaign, let alone run for office. These things are (1) undoubtedly a great distraction as well as a horrific waste of time and resources, and (2) cultivate the arrogant attitude of "us doing it" instead of God doing it. So I personally counsel all to stay far away. What is our duty? We obey the law. We pay taxes. We serve in the military. We pray for our officials. But we are not required to get involved in the democratic process, not by any scripture I've ever seen. And if "we" elect all the "right people", do we think that things will get better? That is a myth. God blesses a nation based upon the quality of its remnant. So the best thing we can do as believers who love our country is to be determined to be the "saltiest salt" we can possibly be. But if instead we waste our efforts on politics, we will in fact get LESS salty – it's inevitable – and to that degree, so will our country. And what if antichrist and those who support him turn out to be the "right people"? That is possible, you know. In fact it's probably more than likely. I don't teach that it's sinful for a Christian who loves Jesus Christ more than anything else in this life and who want to earn a maximum eternal reward to get involved in politics. But from where I sit, it sure is stupid – and incredibly counterproductive (at the very least).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #23:

I am so blessed to have found your website. Please place my name on your email list. I will continue to pray for you and your ministry. I wonder, with all that is going on in the world i.e. Covid 19, transgenderism, Critical race Theory, the attack on children via the vaccine mandate, wearing of harmful masks etc. Do you see this as a trial run of getting mankind to fall in line before the antichrist is on the seen.

Response #23:

Good to make your acquaintance – and thanks much for the positive comments!

We certainly do seem to be in a preparatory phase, don't we? On the one hand, it doesn't seem as if things can continue to go on like this much longer – or that God would allow it. On the other hand, as I have been telling readers for some time now, no doubt the Lord is allowing what He is allowing at least in part to help us to prepare for what is coming once the Tribulation begins. After all, these things are all happening while the Holy Spirit is still restraining evil in the world (see the link). After His restraint has been removed (2Thes.2:6-7), we can be sure that things will get much, much worse.

"For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?"
Luke 23:31 NKJV

I've placed your name on my notification list. I only send out a couple of emails a year (at most) to announce major new postings. But you're free to write me any time!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:


Could you please explain to me Israel, the Gaza Strip and Palestine. Is Palestine the ancient land of the Philistines? I get very confused and would like some clarity as to what was what and what it became, if you would be so kind.

Please take your time in responding. I'm in no rush.

In the Love of Our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

Response #24:

Thanks for the update on ___. I'm keeping the situation in my prayers.

On your question, "Palestine" is not a biblical word. It was the word used by the Romans to refer to their protectorate under the empire which included most of what is today Israel along with southern Syria. You are correct that the name comes from "Philistia", the territory of the Philistines (this was the designation for the coastline of Israel in the ancient Greek historians who were mainly familiar with the coastal settlements). "Palestine" in our modern usage is mainly derived from the British protectorate carved out of the collapsed Ottoman Empire after WWI, wherein Israel today plus Gaza and the West Bank were under British government as one "province", so to speak.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hello Bob,

The Sunday school sessions I’ve been attending continue to be so gratifying. We had a guest priest on Sunday, and we are studying excerpts from the Book of Moses. I was disturbed by the fact that at least three times in the reading references to ‘fear’ were made, such as Moses saying, “. . .God has only come to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.” I didn’t like the idea of compulsion and coercion producing ‘desirable behavior.’ But the priest said that the Hebrew word which we translate as fear, also means ‘awe.’ And that put a whole different cast upon the matter. She also did a really good explanation of why God punished the descendants of those who had committed transgression and sin. In short, this adult Sunday school class has been a really illuminating experience for me.

Response #25:

On your question, by "Book of Moses", I assume you mean Exodus?

And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”
Exodus 20:20 NKJV

This is actually an excellent verse for explaining the biblical concept of "the fear of God", because one can see clearly here that "don't fear" and have a "fear of Him" can't be identical. We're not supposed to be "afraid of God":

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
1st John 4:18 NKJV

We are to have a reasonable "fear of God", as the Messiah Himself did:

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11:2-3a NIV

While less common in English where in recent centuries we have been systematically specializing our vocabulary so that there are no such confusing overlaps (i.e., we don't much like the fact that "cleave unto" and "cleave apart" are opposites – although these actually come from different roots), Hebrew (as in this case), Greek (peirao meaning both "tempt" and "test"), and Latin too (tollo meaning both "raise" and "raze") sometimes do this, namely, have single roots that mean significantly different things where that difference can only be seen in context.

What's all this mean? I explain it this way. God our Father is the perfect Father. He gave us the human family as a model to explain many things to us, one of them being our relationship to Him – as it should be. For even if our human fathers were imperfect or even absent or abusive, even so we have an idea of what a good, righteous, loving, perfect father would be like. Such a father we naturally love – because he has our good in mind in every way. But we also would very much revere and respect him and never dream of challenging his authority so as to put ourselves under his discipline or, even worse, alienate him from us through our rebellious actions. So it is with our Heavenly Father. We know (or should), that nothing we think or say or do is hidden from Him, and that even as He loves us more than words can express, He is perfectly righteous and will brook no compromise with disobedience. If we "fear" Him, that is, have proper respect for His authority so as to behave and do what He desires, then we truly have "nothing to fear" in this world and in this life. But if we arrogantly decide to go our own way . . .

It's also important to remember that His love is boundless – shown most perspicuously in the gift of the One He loves the most, Jesus Christ our Lord, whom the Father had to judge for all of our sins so that we might be saved. Greater love there could never be. And since Christ died for all of our sins, our Father is ever ready to receive back any and all "prodigal sons" who deign to return to Him, whether from a short or long journey away from Him.

"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
Luke 15:21-24a NIV

For sons and daughters who, like the Israelites of old, were ever quick to go astray, the "fear of God" was an important palliative, reminding them, should they deign to consider the truth, that idolatrous rebellion could never have a good end. So for them, the Law did emphasize the other half of this equation. But for us who "cleave unto" Jesus Christ in the grace of the cross, love covers a multitude of sins (1Pet.4:7; Prov.10:12; cf. Jas.5:20).

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15 NIV

In Jesus,

Bob L.

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