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Eschatology Issues LXXXIX

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Question #1:

I have an important question I think I've asked before but I need to again: what do we do about conspiracy theories? I mean the insane ones like satanic cults ruling the world? Should we believe them? Should we try to debunk them? I'm very scared they'll be true because I have extreme trauma with believing in them.

Response #1:

Re: "should we try to debunk them?" – not unless you have spiritual gifts AND preparation for a ministry in apologetics.

The rest of us can forget all that nonsense. It doesn't matter anyway, since God is in absolute control of all things. Not even a single sparrow falls to earth with the Lord marking it – and without it being foreordained in the perfect, all-comprehensive plan of God.

Our job as believers is NOT to let our peace be disturbed by the world, but to carry on with spiritual growth, progress and production no matter what may betide. That is the way to do what Christ wants us to do – and the only way to win a good reward (link).

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27 NKJV

Question #2:

Howdy Brother Bob (Jarhead)!

Thanks for all of your messages! Please accept my apology for not writing sooner! I trust all is well with you and you're enjoying good health. We're all doing and feeling well this neck of the woods.

Thanks very much keeping my family and me in your prayers....please don't stop!! Even though I'm seeing small changes, they're changes for the better...Thank you Jesus !

My Brother, I'd like to share something with you....Many times when I go past church buildings, they advertise the time for their worship service. Sadly, all they do is sing a few hymns and read prayers. I don't feel that is what true worship is. When I think of worship, I'm of the mindset of adoring, cherishing, and falling in love with Jesus over and over again....but how does one attain those attitudes? I don't believe we're showered with them automatically. So how do we worship the King of kings and the Lord of lords? How does one worship our Jesus in spirit (sincerity and humility) and in truth (God's Word)? In my search for a combination of things that would clarify what true worship is, I came across this Bible passage .... Romans 12.

It contained 4 attitudes.

Complete and total surrender to Jesus,
Letting God transform us,
Carrying out the ministry to which we're called,
Loving God wholeheartedly and loving others.

What a fantastically wonder book, the Bible!
It truly is God's love letter for us!!!!!!!!!!!

Bob, my Brother, may the author and finisher of our faith bless, keep, and cause His face to shine upon you real good! May God's mercy and grace be on you and your family and anoint you in your ministry, (Your marching orders from God)!

In Christ,

Your Brother forever (squid)

Response #2:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm very happy to hear about the modest good news regarding your family – we'll keep up the prayer.

On worship and church, see the link. To be honest, "worship" is one of those words which is used differently in Laodicea than in the Bible. In the Bible, it means to come before the Lord and demonstrate reverence and respect, doing what He requires. That meant sacrifice in the Old Testament, but what does it mean today? I agree on the hymns. As far as I can remember, there is only one instance of singing a hymn in the whole of the New Testament – when the disciples sang one on the the way to Gethsemane.

Well then, what are believers supposed to do when we gather together? Jesus is our example in all things, is He not? What did He do? I don't ever recall reading about Him singing. Or passing the collection plate. Or telling everyone to get up and greet their neighbors and shake hands. Or come to coffee hour. Or join the church or get others to come and join and work on/at the church. And we know for a fact that He never baptized anyone (Jn.4:2). Nor did He ever preach a sermon – heaven forbid!

And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Mark 1:22 NKJV

What did our Lord do? Of course, He performed miracles as a sign of His Messiahship, but also to gain a hearing for what He always did for the people wherever He went, the reason they were brought together whether they realized it or not. As it says in the passage above, He taught them the truth.

"In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me."
Matthew 26:55 NIV

And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
Mark 6:34 NKJV

Our Lord is not called "teacher" dozens and dozens of times in the gospels for nothing, for the above are not isolated passages (Matt.4:23; 5:2; 7:28-29; 9:35; 11:1; 13:54; 21:23; 26:55; Mk.1:22; 2:13; 4:1; 6:2; 8:31; 9:31; 10:1; 11:17; 12:35; 14:49; Lk.4:15; 4:31; 5:3; 5:17; 6:6; 13:10; 13:22; 19:47; 20:1; 21:37; 23:5; Jn.6:59; 7:14; 7:28; 8:20; 8:28; 18:20). Leading up to the cross, "teaching the truth" is WHAT our Lord occupied Himself with doing almost exclusively (the miracles drew people to listen). And teaching the truth is what He commands of us as well:

Then Jesus came over and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me, so go and make all nations my followers by baptizing them [with the Spirit] into the Person (i.e., “name”) of the Father and [into the Person] of the Son and [into the Person] of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28:18-20a

It amazes me that teaching and learning the truth as "THE" thing we are supposed to be doing down here on earth is so controversial. Obviously, you cannot commit yourself and your heart to the Lord, you cannot love Him and the Father, unless you know something about them – and that can only happen through attention to the truth of the Word. You cannot grow without the truth, and without spiritual growth you'll never get to the point of being prepared for any sort of ministry to others – because effective service depends upon spiritual maturity, impossible without the truth.

In the late innings of Laodicea, this is near anathema. Why? Because teaching the truth takes a lot of hard work in preparing in the first place and carrying out that mandate in the second place. And consistency in seeking out the truth, learning it, believing it and putting into practice also requires effort. It's perhaps not as fun, instantly fulfilling, conspicuous or popular as emotionally charged activities, comfortable traditions and rituals, mysticism and the like. But it's what Jesus and His disciples and apostles did (e.g., Matt.28:20; Mk.6:30; Acts 4:2; 5:21; 5:25; 5:42; 11:26; 15:1; 15:35; 18:11; 18:25; 20:20; 28:31; 1Cor.4:17; Col.1:28; 1Tim.4:11; 6:2). And it's the only way to walk in His footsteps.

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Matthew 4:19 NKJV

Alternatively, we can sing a lot of hymns and carry on in the lukewarm way of Laodicean evangelicaldom. But those who do should take care to remember that after singing that hymn following the Lord's supper, in a few short hours the disciples all abandoned the Lord (and in Peter's case, denied Him three times). So much for the spiritual value of emotional "uplift" absent solid faith in the truth.

Now grow up through the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
2nd Peter 3:18

The Christian life lived the way our Lord wants it lived is predicated on learning and believing and applying the truth we are taught (spiritual growth) which leads to a closer relationship with Him (spiritual progress) and helping our brothers and sisters in Christ to likewise (spiritual production). And the time is quickly approaching when the lukewarmness and compromises of the contemporary church-visible are going to catch up with Laodicea. The Tribulation is not so far away. Much better to get "red hot" and commit to spiritual growth while there is still daylight to do so. When the darkness falls, we won't regret one single thing we did to grow and prepare in the true, godly way.

Lots more of the above to be found at Ichthys. See especially BB 6B: Ecclesiology and "Finding a church – or something better? II" (which will lead to many other links).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob!

Thank you so much for getting back to me!

WOW!!! I can't thank you enough for your response. It's what I would call a "meat and potatoes" gourmet meal for a hungering and thirsting brother.....and I Feast on "meat and potatoes!!!!!" You surely have given me so much to meditate on and I will do so. You Marines always did go in depth much more than we Sailors (lol!)

Thanks again for your prayers for my family......much appreciated!

My Brother, when we meet in "glory", let's jump up on Jesus' lap, feel His everlasting arms wrapped around us, and resting our heads on Him.

God bless you real good and keep your armor on!!!

In Jesus, our big Brother,

Response #3:

My pleasure!

It should be all the more easy for you personally to dedicate yourself to getting as salty as possible for the Lord in preparation for the challenging times to come – given that you're already an "old salt".

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

In reading the Bible the highest number I recall seeing was thousands. The reason I mention this is because I see so much of huge numbers regarding the age of the earth from the "Big Bang" 4 or 5 billion years. Does the ancient Hebrew language have words for the large numbers we use these days like millions, billions, trillions, etc. Or have these words just come into use via more modern languages. If there were no large numbers like that in the ancient Hebrew, that leads me to think that God didn't need large numbers and that the real age of the earth was not anywhere like the Billions of years put forward in the Big Bang theory. That the age of the earth is really just in the thousands. Enjoy your website and also the questions and comments from people all over the globe.

Response #4:

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance.

First of all, of course the naturalistic, materialistic theories of "why and how" we are here are nothing but mush. You are correct, there are no billions or trillions in the Bible because there is never a need to count anything in those terms anywhere in scripture. The biggest number I'm aware of is the 200,000,000 demon horsemen (at Rev.9:16), and there is no word "million" there (it actually says "twice ten thousand [times] ten thousand").

However, I think that if presented with this good observation on your part, people who already don't believe the Bible will just have their foolish attitudes towards the Bible confirmed. It is sad that there are believers who buy into this rubbish, of course. But if they are already preferring human "science", which is entirely materialistic (and denies as a tenet of "faith" that anything spiritual even exists), then I'm not sure what hope there is of persuading them either.

Thanks for your encouragement! Please feel free to write any time.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hello Dr. Bob,

I am so thankful for your website. It is one of the few that doesn't teach Eternal Security! It is like an oasis. I knew something wasn't right about ES and your teachings on this subject have been very helpful to me in clarifying and defending my/our position of the reality of apostasy. Thank you.

However, one thing I don't quite agree with is that you have mentioned sometimes in your writings, in regard to the parable of the soil in Mt.13:3-9, that those who are represented by the third seed may be "saved as by the fire" and you cite 1 Cor. 3:15. Isn't 1 Corinthians chapter 3 about Paul warning believers not to be devoted to one particular leader, such as himself or Apollos (v.4), and to be careful how other leaders are building on his foundation of the gospel, that if they are teaching other things besides the gospel (wood, hay, stubble) that they will still be saved because they are also teaching the gospel? Where does it say that all Christians can sin and still be saved as by the fire? When Paul says "each man", "no man", "any man" in verses 10-15, he is talking about those who plant and water (v.8) with him and are his "fellow workers" (v.9). In verse 10, Paul said he is the master builder and other builders build on his foundation (the gospel). He is not talking about all believers building their lives on the gospel, but Christian leaders and what they teach. In fact, in verse 9, Paul said "you (Corinthian believers) are God's field, God's building". Also, in verses 16&17, Paul said they are the temple of God. So the believers are not the builders. This means that the "each man" and "any man" that Paul refers to must be other Christian leaders, and those who teach other false or burdensome doctrines in addition to the gospel will still be "saved as by the fire" because they still teach/taught belief in Jesus. To me, 1 Corinthians 3 is not teaching that all Christians can sin and still be "saved as by the fire". Please let me know what you think about this. Thank you for your consideration. God bless you and your ministry.

In Christ's love,

Response #5:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for the encouraging words.

As to your questions/comments, seems to me that there are two issues/concerns raised here. I'll take them one at a time in reverse order:

1) "To me, 1 Corinthians 3 is not teaching that all Christians can sin and still be "saved as by the fire" ". I'm sure I never said anything like "Christians can sin and still be saved" – because that is NOT how the Bible puts it. There are two common false positions regarding sin out there in Laodicea-land, and both are very spiritually dangerous. The first is OSAS, the idea of hyper-eternal security, that sin doesn't matter at all and that a Christian can sin with impunity without any sort of eternal consequences because "no matter what" you can't lose your salvation. That is patently false – not because of some sin being so terrible that it lands you in hell (the "unpardonable sin" is rejecting the gospel when the Spirit proclaims it), but because sin undermines faith, and our salvation is predicated on our faith continuing until the end: only those who persevere in faith, belief, trust in Jesus Christ, until the end are saved (Matt.24:13); because only believers are saved (Jn.3:18); unbelievers are NOT saved, even if they were once believers (Lk.8:13). That is what believers need to fear: apostasy, the loss of salvation because of the loss of faith; sin often plays a large role in becoming an apostate because sin alienates us from the Lord in every way if we refuse to confess, repent and come back to Him, and if our relationship with Him sours too much, we may be tempted to turn away from Him entirely (that is it in a nutshell; see the link for the details).

However, the opposite, equally unbiblical, equally spiritually dangerous false position is the one that says that "believers do not sin". That is patently not true as anyone observing Christians – any group of Christians at any time in the history of the Church Age – can easily see . . . that is, if said person understands what sin is. Sin is any violation of the perfect Will of God, whether or not we realize we are violating His Will, choosing self and our own truth over Him and His truth. No one, for example, has perfect control over their tongue, as James makes clear. And if we think it is difficult to control our tongues, our thoughts are even more difficult to control, because our hearts are "desperately wicked" and essentially deceitful (Jer.17:9).

If sinless perfection were possible, then we wouldn't need to confess our sins to the Lord (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5) – and the Word tells us that we are lying if we say we have no sin. Thus it is a sin to even state this false position (1Jn.1:10). If sinless perfection were possible, then we wouldn't need a new High Priest who acts as our Intercessor when we do sin (Rom.8:34; 1Jn.2:1; cf. 1Tim.2:5; Heb.7:25). If sinless perfection were possible, then why is sinful behavior discussed, criticized, and forbidden on nearly every page of the Bible, the New Testament included?

Christians are obligated NOT to sin. But that doesn't mean that we do not. That is difficult for many Christians to accept. We are to "pursue sanctification", even though the ideal of sinless perfection is not something we will ever catch up with as long as we inhabit these bodies of sin in this world of sin ruled by the father of lies, the devil. We can, we MUST "get better" at our Christian walk in this world, but beware of imagining you've "arrived" – or of anyone who says they have or that it is possible.

What is the problem here? One of two things will happen when a believer (or person pretending to be a believer) decides that sinless perfection is possible (or at least says it is). Either said person will need to redefine sin so that it doesn't extend to the things that he/she has trouble with. If a person is able to refrain from abusing alcohol and drugs, stay away from all criminal behavior, and avoid anything of a illicit sexual nature, well and good! So should we all – and very early on in our Christian lives, because these are very basic first steps in separating ourselves from the world. But no one can say they never worry. They never get angry. They never speak a cross word. They always walk perfectly in love. Etc., etc. Sin is a sea deep and troubled, and impossible to see to the bottom off, let alone drain that swamp.

Whenever a believer convinces him/herself that they are "no longer sinning", that is by biblical definition a big fat lie, so that taking such a position guarantees that said person will be immersing themselves in self-righteousness – which is antithetical to God's righteousness. If we say something is not a sin, or if we cover over and deny the sins we know we are committing, that is very much akin to the devil's first steps at rebellion, and will eventually lead down the same dark path. There is much more to say about this. If interesting in the details, please see Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin.

Finally on this first point, Jesus Christ died for all of our sins. Christians are given blanket forgiveness when we first believe, and are forgiven thereafter when we confess our sins to the Lord. 1st John 1:9, moreover, states that we are "cleansed from ALL unrighteousness" when we confess, and that means otherwise unknown sins are forgiven too, sins of ignorance. Confession of sin should be a daily practice for every Christian – since, unless we are in a coma, we will never get through the day without the need to do so. That is no doubt why the Lord put confession in the daily prayer He gave us:

"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
Matthew 6:12 NIV

"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us."
Luke 11:4 NIV

2) This brings me to your other concern, namely, the "though as by fire" of 1st Corinthians 3:15. First, I have never said that the "wood, hay and stubble" which are said to be burned up are "sins". They are not. Christ has already died for the sins of the world. Even unbelievers are not said to be judged for their sins at the Great White Throne last judgment but "according to their works" (Rev.20:12-13). Works is general, yes, but refers to anything and everything a person may have "done" which in their unrepentant hearts they felt might "cut some mustard" with God – and it will be shown on that great day that absolutely nothing any unbeliever ever did was sufficient to be saved. Indeed, such acts of "human good" are actually offensive to God (e.g., Is.64:6) because they are not done in the power of the Spirit, a blessing which only believers have access to.

In an analogous way, the "wood, hay and stubble" are things which believers have done which they might have imagined would be honored by the Lord but which in fact were not really done "for Him", were not really what "He wanted", and were in fact not done "in the Spirit". Things the opposite of this are "gold, silver and precious stones" are rewarded, genuine responses to the Spirit in doing what we've all been left down here after salvation to do, namely, grow spiritually through learning the truth (a good teaching ministry is necessary there), advance spiritually through applying that truth as we've believed it (passing all manner of maturity tests here), and finally, once we have matured and properly prepared, ministering that truth so as to help others do likewise – and every believer has been given spiritual gifts so as to do this, if willing to respond to the Spirit consistently enough and long enough.

This last observation brings me to the exegesis of the passage you ask about. It is true that Paul is refuting false teachers and using himself and Apollos as examples. But it is not the case that this passage has no applicability to believers generally. Why would Paul have been led to write it if it were essentially pointless to those who received it? Of course we will all be judged at Christ's bema, and this passage outlines the essentials of the judgment for all believers. Otherwise we would have to conclude that only pastor-teachers produce "wood, hay and stubble" and that only they were eligible for having their efforts in this life evaluated as "gold, silver and precious stones".

Christ is the foundation for us all. He is the Rock upon which the faith of us all is founded – as He told us to "build our [spiritual] house on the Rock" and not on the shifting sand (Matt.7:24-29; Lk.6:47-49 ). "Building" is something all believers should be doing (e.g., 1Pet.2:4-6), for that is an important biblical metaphor for our spiritual growth (see the link).

Finally on this point, as to "be careful how you build", it seems to me that this has to be addressed to individual believers, not pastor-teachers. Pastor-teachers teach the truth (at least that is what they should be doing), but believers are the ones who do the building in their own hearts, not their pastors. Individual believers need to a) find a place where the truth is taught; b) show up to be taught; c) listen and learn and, critically, believe the truth they are taught; d) make efforts to remember and apply and walk according to the truth they have believed; and, importantly, e) keep at it with enough consistency to actually "build" something on the foundation of saving faith in Christ we all share as believers in Him.

I hope this gets to your questions and concerns.

In Jesus our dear Savior, the Rock on which the Church is built,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hello Dr. Bob,

I am so grateful for your reply as you are a busy man. Yes, you did get to my concerns but I would like to clarify a couple of things, if I may. First, in your reply, you said that the "wood, hay, stubble" are done by believers but "not really done 'for Him' (which is selfish, prideful), were not really what 'He wanted' (which is rebellion), were in fact not done 'in the Spirit' (thus carnal). Aren't you still describing sin? You then said these are "Things the opposite of this, (which are) genuine responses to the Spirit . . ." Isn't responding opposite to the Holy Spirit sin?

Secondly, I wanted to clarify what I am saying about 1 Cor. 3, because you said "It is not the case that this passage has no applicability to believers generally. Why would Paul have been led to write it if it were essentially pointless to those who receive it?" What I am saying is that Paul's theme in Chapter 3 is to exhort the Corinthian believers (and all believers) to be careful who they listen to, to be spiritually discerning, and to warn Christian leaders to be careful what they teach because they will be judged. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to be spiritually discerning in 1 Cor. chapter 2. He says in verses 12-15, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so the we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom , but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words, but a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one." In chapter 3, Paul chastens them that he could not speak to them as spiritual men, but as men of flesh (v.1) because they were not able to receive it because they are still fleshly (v.2,3). He then uses the example that they are arguing over which leader is the best, like unbelievers. So he points out that these leaders are mere planters, waterers, builders of God's building (v.9), God's temple (v.16), and warns that these leaders need to be careful how they build God's temple (the church) because they will be judged (v.16, 17). He warns again in verse 21 "So then let no one boast in men". And then in ! Cor. 4, Paul continues the theme of spiritual discernment concerning their leaders. In verses 1-3, he says, "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself."

All this to say that it seems to me that in 1 Corinthians 3, Paul is simply telling the Corinthian believers (and all believers) to be spiritual and spiritually discerning about their leaders and that this is what happens to these builders of God's temple at the judgement fire who were not careful how they built, harming God's temple, that they will still be saved because they still preached the gospel. It seems that Paul was not, in this context, applying the judgement fire to all believers generally. Is this a valid interpretation?

The reason I am focusing so much on this passage is because people who believe in OSAS use this verse all the time with me to defend OSAS and I am trying to show them that these verses are not meant to teach that all believers who sin are "saved yet so as through fire". I would really appreciate your help in how to answer them about this passage. Thank you again for your time and patience. By the way, do you get tired of debating with people about salvation, and that they usually don't listen? I know I do!
In Christ's love,

Response #6:

It's my pleasure.

As to: "It seems that Paul was not, in this context, applying the judgement fire to all believers generally." In fact, Paul is describing the Judgment Seat of Christ, where we shall all have to stand to be evaluated so that "each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2Cor.5:10), Q.E.D.

We have all "done things" which will not be rewarded, no doubt even things which, at the time (especially if we were as yet spiritually immature and uninformed about the truth) we thought were worthy of reward (members of legalistic and emotionalistic churches are no doubt going to have some pretty big bonfires). Paul, in good biblical fashion, presents the two directly opposite alternatives, namely, of one hypothetical believer having nothing but rewardable service, and the other having nothing but a bonfire. Everyone will have a little of both, but as I read scripture (and evaluate Laodicea), we're likely to see more burning and less rewarding. That is a pity, since winning rewards is exactly why we believers are left down here after salvation, namely, to make our choices and demonstrate just how much we love the Lord – or how little (please see the link: The Judgment and Reward of the Church).

As to "Aren't you still describing sin?" Not at all. There is a difference between sin and its results, just as there is a difference between the faith which motivates our good works and the good works themselves (cf. Jas.2:14-26). 1st Corinthians 3:15 and its context is about the evaluation of our results, whether good or bad (i.e., "the things done in the body": 2Cor.5:10). Our sins have already been judged at the cross; it is the results which will be burned up, while the results of our faith and faithfulness which led to our salvation will be rewarded.

It was important for Paul to put in this rider, "saved, yet so as through fire", so as to make clear, in a context of fire, that the "suffering of loss" he is talking about here is not loss of salvation – after all, only believers will be judged at this particular judgment – but the loss of rewards because of the results in question being unacceptable since they were not actually what the Lord wanted and were not done in the Spirit.

It is a little ironic – though not surprising or unprecedented – that Paul's rider added to give assurance that believers are saved should be misused to mean that believers can stop being believers (apostasy) and still be saved. There are plenty of passages in scripture which warn believers against straying, and for good reason (see the link). But people tend to pick and choose the passages they want to pay attention to, then interpret them to fit what they want to believe. It's a horrible way to do "theology", but it is more the norm than the exception nowadays. Better, we should read the Bible and let the Bible direct us (and stick with a good teaching ministry which follows this correct approach).

As to getting tired, as I often have occasion to say, this is not an apologetics ministry. This is a Bible teaching ministry. I am obligated to answer questions with the truth, but when it becomes obvious that a particular correspondent is not really interested in being taught but only in arguing with me, well, there's not much point in continuing down that road ad infinitum (e.g., Tit.3:10).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob,

I'm currently in Leviticus again and finding I understand far more than before but not enough. The question is: how much of those laws do you think will apply in the millennium and New Jerusalem? If sacrifices are still required then, why not the rest of the laws?

Many of those laws make perfect sense to me but I'm still a bit confused with the leprosy laws though much of it also makes sense. Knowing (or think I know) that leprosy meant any skin disease, I'm bewildered by the yellow and white hair in the midst of the lesion.. Have you ever checked on this?

I pray all is well with you and yours up there in the North. Mesquites haven't leafed down here (the official end of winter) but the pests are out and thought it was the end. I'm now into my daily bug squashing routine.

Yours in our Lord,

Response #7:

The purpose of the Mosaic Law in toto was to present Israel as a nation apart, sanctified by God from the rest of the unbelieving world as a witness to the truth, a light to the world (Is.42:6). The animal sacrifices will be a memorial to the cross rather than a foreshadowing of it. That is a big change, so I rather suspect anything else from the Law continued in the Millennium will likewise be changed for similar reasons, namely, to reflect the revelation and glorification of Christ (rather than to foreshadow His now completed sacrifice).

In terms of the laws that have to do with skin diseases, mold and mildew and the like, they tell me that everything that happens is under God's control, and that in a nation which is perfectly fulfilling His will (which of course never came close to happening in historical Israel), He has made provision for everything, including diseases and blights of every kind – with the priesthood He has established being the go-between. All believers now are priests of the Lord, and that will be the case forever for us (cf. Rev.1:6). Many things have been changed by the cross: even the fourth commandment has been given a new, much more powerful spiritual meaning to replace the old one (link).

In the Millennium, there will be little or no disease, the curse on the earth having been removed (link), and there will be perfect government (which will have ramifications for everything, including medicine, if that discipline is even needful then). I don't know enough about dermatology to explain all of the ins and outs of those chapters on skin disease, but I can say with authority that the priests who were charged to carry out these orders were guided by God to do what was right – if ever there were people and priests sufficiently dedicated to doing right in Israel for this regime ever to have been implemented.

There are plenty of things in the Law which are clearly wonderful and good which were never ever put into place – like the Jubilee release from slavery and from debts. Things will be so much different in the Millennium in ways that are difficult for us to speculate about at present that we will probably have to just wait and see about all the particulars. But seeing as how our God "heals all your diseases" (Ps.103:3), and since it seems that death will be rare in the Millennium (Is.65:20), this particular part of the Law may not be needful, even in the case of a full revival of the Law (which for reasons expressed above I am skeptical about).

On the bugs, maybe you'll get a nice frost which nukes them without damaging your plants overly.

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

Keeping you in prayer.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

It occurs to me that Israel seldom, if ever, followed Mosaic law -- except for the stoning, perhaps. Much of the Mosaic law makes perfect sense today -- at least as far as I understand -- even for us goyim. After the Lord's return, there will most likely still be some trans-Tribulation survivors who will still be subject to the sin nature. They will probably do as we've done which suggests to me that many of those Mosaic laws will be re-instituted. (Adultery, incest, etc.) If it didn't stop the transgression during the Exodus when everything was under the Lord's control, why would Trib survivors not demonstrate the same?

The sacrifices also makes sense though I still feel they are somewhat barbaric as described. We do have to eat and I gather that sacrifices were eaten either by the priesthood or by the people offering the sacrifice. (I still don't understand what a "wave offering" or a "heave offering" actually was.)

It seems reasonable that the law in the millennium will be modified from what I read in Leviticus. But, I suspect, Leviticus can shed some light on how things will be after His return.

Sorry for the questions. Rereading the Bible is revealing so much more to me than it did in the past. It stimulates questions I never thought to ask.

We had a low of 25 a couple of days ago. The critters found a way to shelter from it, sadly.

Thank you for your prayers. You and yours are in mine daily.

In Jesus,

Response #8:

Re: "Israel seldom, if ever, followed Mosaic law": That is what the biblical record shows. Before the exile, they were generally idolatrous and rebellious; after the exile, they followed the Law very selectively and in such a highly legalistic way so as to miss all of its spiritual power, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt.15:9; Mk.7:7).

Re: "After the Lord's return, there will most likely still be some trans-Tribulation survivors who will still be subject to the sin nature." During the Millennium, the world will be rapidly repopulated and (it seems clear) quickly exceed present day population number – but all will be "descendants of Adam", carrying the sin nature in their bodies just as we do. The difference will be the removal of the curse on the earth coupled with the advent of the perfect government of Jesus Christ to match that perfect environment. Sounds like a wonderful time and place to live! But of course we know from Revelation that after the 1,000 years are over, the vast majority of the millennial population – unbelievers for the most part – will march on Jerusalem and attempt to overthrow the King (Rev.20:7-10; cf. Ps.2:1ff.). Environment changes, but people don't.

As to some of the laws you mention here, there WILL be law and order, perfect law and order, and prohibitions against vile behavior have long been a part of all manner of legal codes since the dawn of human history. It is only in our "modern era" where libertinism has become such an article of faith so as to abolish many such laws. During the Millennium, there will still be "nations" – as nationalism is of God. So I do not expect that to the extent there will be any revival of the Law per se that this will necessarily extend beyond Israel.

The "wave" was a way to dedicate a part of the sacrifice without also burning that portion up – so that whoever had a right to it could eat it (different from the "burnt offering" in that regard).

Great weather here, but no pests yet. Soon to come, I'm sure. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the marvelous weather.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

If I understood your comments correctly, much of the Mosaic law will be re-established. That's pretty much what I expected -- but I have to be careful of jumping to conclusions. Am I too far off base if I expect the healed earth to be much like the antediluvian earth rather than Eden which I would think comes with the new heaven and earth?

Thanks for the explanation of the wave offering. Can I assume the heave offering was similar; tossed in the air as opposed to waving it? I wonder why the distinction...

Weather here has generally been good. I think winter had it's last hurrah but I'm still waiting for the mesquites to leaf and the swallows to come back. Trees are blooming. Wild lettuce and plantain is up -- both good for food and medicine. Spring birds are arriving in my little Capistrano on the Prairie. It's time to be planting some outside.


In our Lord,

Response #9:

I'm pretty sure I never said that the Mosaic Law would be re-established. There are sacrifices at the millennial temple, but no direct indications of the re-institution of the entire Mosaic Law itself. And that makes sense. The Law was "a shadow of the good things to come" (Heb.10:1); and Jesus has now come and died for the sins of the world. In any case, the power of the Law was in the deeper truths it represented, not in, say, refraining from eating lobster or being good about tithing whatever came up in your spice garden. As our Lord said:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone."
Matthew 23:23 NKJV

After all, the Hebrew word for law, torah, means, literally, "teaching". But the teaching is all about God and about His truth, with the rites and rituals and prohibitions and injunctions showing the way to these deeper truths. One cannot read Psalm 119 carefully and not see that "law" and the other words referring to it mean the essence of scripture which is all about our relationship with the Lord. We have a tendency – because of the way that Judaism has approached the Law since the exile – to see the Law in the ways traditional Judaism does, as a set of rules without any spiritual power, augmented by a large accretion of additional, humanly designed interpretations, rather than as a guide to the true spiritual power that lies behind the Law. But the Law communicated via "shadows", and now those shadows have been banished through the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the new and everlasting high priest, so that the Law had to fundamentally change – from shadow to light:

Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
Hebrews 7:11-12 NKJV

With the Messiah Himself ruling in Jerusalem, I dare say that things will be quite different – for the glorious good. That includes whatever aspects of the Mosaic Law may be retained (again, I don't know of any mentioned in scripture other than having to do with the temple rite), and at the very least they would be done correctly (which they never were in the past) and explained correctly, rather than devolving into "teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt.15:9; Mk.7:7; cf. Tit.1:14).

The curse on the earth is removed during the Millennium, so I do think that things will more resemble Eden than the antediluvian times (Rom.8:18-24; cf. Gen.5:29). This also accords with the many descriptions of the wonders of that time, wonders that were never seen since Eden (see the link: the physical blessings of the Millennium).

And we will see it! And it's not that far off now either. Of course there is that Tribulation matter to get through first.

Got the flower beds more or less ready for planting today (spring break). Still have to wait about a month or more before we can be sure not to have seedlings destroyed by frost.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

No, you never said Mosaic law would be re-established. That was my assumption. It made sense to me because most of the Mosaic law made sense to me. I suppose I'll just have to wait and see. I so look forward to that time! Thanks for your clarification.

I'm glad your garden is underway. You've still got a while until Derby day. After a winter of my discontent, I need to get much more exercise. My endurance is shot and I've got so much more to do.

Stay well.

In our Lord,

Response #10:

Well, we do find this in scripture:

Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 2:3 NKJV (cf. Mic.4:2)

But as mentioned last time, "law" is, literally, "teaching", and since this is parallel with "the word" in our verse(s) above, it make sense to me that teaching the truth is what is meant here rather than a return to the Law of Moses "as is".

Yes, I certainly "got my exercise" yesterday with only half a day of solid work (digging up vines, trimming bushes, taking out all the "winter interest", et al.). It'll take a minute before I've gotten my sea legs back. Because of injuries and weather, I didn't get as much walking and jogging in over the winter as has been the case in years past. And if they actually DO switch to Daylight Saving Time all year round, here in Louisville – which is in the EASTERN time zone (believe it or not), in the dead of winter it'll be after 9AM before the sun even comes up, well after I'm into prep for class mode.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:

I am sorry to see what I wrote about Albanian gangs in England has upset one of your ministry members Bob!

I am the least xenophobic of people and would be heartbroken if people thought that untruth about me!

Maybe I came across a little bit terse about it as we personally have dealt with drug gangs and whenever we have tried to reason with them as decent human beings we have had "sorry speak no English" while they snigger in our faces and you can get tired of that very, very quickly.

___ married an Albanian in Albania and said that they were very friendly and giving people but the government was incredibly corrupt and this has affected the people very badly. ___ met an Albanian journalist abroad who was very kind and considerate and said "my country is in a terrible state".

The "Hellbanianz" monicker is actually given to themselves by "influencers flexing" about how much drugs, money and guns they have. It is known as gangster/ yardy culture that started out in Jamaica and now is pretty much everywhere especially around white kids in South London.

I'm sorry if I came across as small minded in my post but I am definitely not prejudicial. I guess many things come off badly in emails because it isn't face to face. It's also not a good idea to hit send when you are feeling emotional about a horrid situation.

Your friend will be glad to know that I actually was praying for the drug dealers right up to his arrest and beyond. He had no food and was terrified and no doubt been trafficked. We were the first to be relieved when we heard that the police were not "after this one Albanian man" but the gangs that had trafficked him over.

As said before, there is evil in every country and good also. Only by being born again can a person truly turn away from what is evil. Amen!

In Jesus,

Response #11:

No worries, my friend. I probably should have edited that bit out. Having posted it, and having gotten this message, I felt it good to put that up too – but I didn't mean to upset you. I know your heart – you are a good Christian and always do your best to be loving towards everyone. We all can be (rightly) upset by lawless behavior, and if that behavior is coming notably from a particular group, well, it's hard not to notice that. I've got a number of good friends / correspondents from Nigeria, but I've probably made a crack more than once about spam email from Nigeria. Same sort of thing.

Being a Yank, I've probably made more than one crack in my life about the British. No personal offense meant there either! But after all, you all did burn down Washington. Any chance of getting a repeat on that one?

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

It's always a great pleasure to help!

Thanks for your prayers for me. Times are tense here but I'm feeling a lot better. I had more flak coming at me from a different direction last week too but I'm through it now. Still alive and kicking and going strong!

I've also had my head buried in The Coming Tribulation and this week's emails have spurred me on even more to keep plugging away at it. I love how in the emails you're not getting dragged into politics but you're constantly reminding everyone about focusing on their spiritual growth. That's what is so important and it's what I pray our brothers and sisters will continue to do.

I don't think looking too much into the events that are going on in the world right now and trying to work it all out is very helpful. I think it can be an absolute waste of our time. Time that could be better spent studying what we are told is actually going to happen from our Bibles and your teaching at Ichthys. The Lord is so gracious in providing this for us and I'm so thankful to Him for you and for the teaching gift He has given to you for the benefit of His Church. We need to grasp hold of what He has given us and focus in on it and not be distracted by anything else. Time is short but at least we do still have time and we need to use it wisely. If we don't then we're going to regret it further on down the line once the Tribulation begins. This isn't just some made up story - this is real and this is truth and we need to put our all into our spiritual growth and being spiritually prepared for what lies ahead. And I'm exhorting myself here too!

We belong to the Lord and we have absolutely nothing to worry about. When I read or watch the news of course it's heartbreaking to see what's happening in Ukraine but at the same time I can remain detached from it. It's always just background noise to me (it was the same with Covid) because I know the truth about what's really going on and the reason for us believers being here. All any of this has done for me is to make me even more determined each day to give my all in pleasing the Lord and doing exactly what it is He wants me to do.

As you said in your emails Bob, I pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, for their safety and deliverance and for these events to lead to salvation and spiritual growth. I know our heavenly Father hears our prayers and will answer our prayers.

I hope all is well with you, Bob. I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers too.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Saviour

Response #12:

I'm happy to hear that you are spiritually upbeat in spite of lots of "incoming". That's a sign of spiritual maturity for sure! Keeping you in my prayers as well.

Just about anything in this world can be distracting to our spiritual momentum, if we are not careful. Looking back on the path is ALWAYS a mistake, as all believers who've had any practice in applying the truth have had to learn. And of course getting tempted to wander off to the left (to the allures of the world) or the right (to pursue the pseudo-happiness of false security) will land us on our backsides pretty quick as well and cost us time. There's no happiness down here apart from the Lord and no security either. So we just need to keep moving forward, one day at a time.

Of course there ARE things we have to do in this world. We do have to earn our livings "by the sweat of our brows". We do have to keep up with our health, with our relationships, with our homesteads, with our finances. But if we are not careful, even legitimate things can become tall weeds that choke out our growth. We always need to be careful to carve out time for what is the top priority: prayer, Bible reading – and the important third leg of the tripod, Bible teaching. As our Lord said of those who were sacrificing other things to sit quietly and listen to Him teach them the Word of God . . .

But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples (lit., "students") and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
Matthew 12:48-51 NKJV

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

I like to think of all the necessary tasks we have to do in this life to survive as little rocks and bumps and branches to be negotiated on the path we are traveling. We deal with them when we come to them, one obstacle at a time, one day at a time. If we start looking at problems too far ahead we'll trip up on the things we have to negotiate right now. And we really don't know what twists and turns the path will take. But we do know where it ends, and we can see the light of that glorious city out there in the distance. So we keep our eyes up on the goal, deal with necessary hurdles with our peripheral vision, and don't worry about anything else – or anything at all. Because the Lord has it all in hand.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7 NIV

As to staying out of politics, I read an article online from "Christianity Today" (a publication I usually steer clear of) which dealt with Ukrainian evangelicals and how this invasion has disrupted their relations with Russian evangelicals, too many of the latter being mostly silent or distressingly "patriotic", the former being very upset and some even engaging in imprecatory prayers. It just goes to show you that when the pressure is on, it is very hard, even for those who putatively put the Lord first in all things, not to get caught up in the pressures of the moment – especially when they are extreme as in this case. I went to sleep last night just after an hour of tornado sirens blaring but with no particular concern for some cruise missile taking out my entire block, so I do appreciate that it's easier to cope with things which are not directly on one's own doorstep. It's good practice for the Tribulation to take these things into consideration. There will be many temptations to be engaging in imprecation as well as to be overly "patriotic" in days to come. I heard Putin say something to the effect that while nuclear war will "kill everyone, at least [our enemies] will be going to hell, but we will be going to heaven". Hard for us in the West to comprehend that one, but it does demonstrate that religion (Russian Orthodox in this case) coupled with "patriotism" can be a frightful combination, one which antichrist – arising from Babylon – will be sure to take full advantage of.

Thanks for your prayers too, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for everything you wrote to me. It's a great help and reminder to me. I love the Bible verses and I read the whole of Psalm 84 and it's beautiful.

Bob, you know me very well by now and how zealous I am for the Lord but I think I'm beginning to be a bit more realistic about how much I can actually do. I think for a long time I've been striving to be further along spiritually than I already am. In some ways that's not a bad thing but in my case I think I need to settle down a bit. I'm not even sure why I've been doing this - I think it might be in my personality but it isn't always a healthy way to be. It's quality that counts not quantity. I think I've finally got to the place where I'm happy to do as you wrote about and take it steadily one day at a time.

Life is busy and soon to become even busier for me as you know. I have a family to take care of and work and just getting through each day and pleasing the Lord in my thoughts, words and deeds is huge progress in itself. I'm so happy to be "in the fight" and I intend to continue to fight the fight as best I can each day and get better and better at it. I intend to stay the course until the fight is over. And no matter how busy I am, I will continue to carve out time for prayer, Bible reading and Bible teaching.

I'm feeling calmer and more content and settled about what the Lord has already given me to do (including helping you with the editing) and I think the way circumstances are changing in my life has helped me. I won't neglect the things I have to do for the Lord and the increasing responsibilities I have towards my family. The Lord will help me to keep things in check.

Thanks so much for your prayers, Bob.

In Jesus

Response #13:

One of may favorite psalms too!

It's important for us to be zealous within limits, because it makes no sense to sprint then crash, then sprint and crash again. We all need to find our own best "cruising speed" and establish a long-standing pattern of growth, progress and production. Once we've built that base, we can make adjustments and improvements as the Spirit leads us to do so. People who are shouting for us to "get out of your comfort zone" are usually "sprint-and-crashers" themselves, and don't seem to appreciate that this fight is a day by day one. Those who persevere daily in doing a good job for the Lord are the ones who end up getting good distance run.

So I absolutely agree with your approach. There are plenty of things in this life which have to get done and as good Christians we are responsible to do them. The challenge is to stay faithful to our commitments to the Lord even as we give a good witness in all of life's other areas. Finding that right balance can be tricky, but as we grow we get better at it – and better at "rolling with the punches" which are sure to come to those who are actually doing what Jesus wants us to do.

You're running a good race! Keep up the pace – and don't let anyone or anything cut in on you to break your stride.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob,

Life without PPE - what a dream that would be! But we're slowly beginning to ditch more and more of it at work now. Will be great to have a summer without sweating buckets in our "plastic bags"!

I had another good day on The Coming Tribulation today and I've reached Part 3A now which I'm really pleased about. There's a lot to master like you said but I've got my momentum going and I'm really enjoying it. I can't quite see myself saying that once the real thing begins!

I was reading about how tribulational events will progress very quickly after the restraint of the Spirit is lifted. Makes me think that although a lot has happened over the past couple of years with Covid and now Ukraine, these events are probably happening in slow motion compared to how it will be after the Tribulation begins.

Thanks for all your brilliant encouragement this week, Bob. It's been great!

Hope you have a good and restful weekend. Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus

Response #14:

"I can't quite see myself saying that once the real thing begins!" British understatement, despite the "slammer"! Indeed, that is no doubt why when John "eats" the book, it makes him sick to his stomach – even though it was sweet to the mouth.

However, it will be a blessing to see all of the prophecies come true exactly to plan, to see the wicked get their comeuppance (Is.35:4), and to see (we thoroughly hope) a lot of lukewarm believers finally get serious about the Lord and His Word of truth.

Not that there won't be a great deal of suffering for us all, but the Lord has never ever let us down, and He will get us through those seven years as well – or take us home early through the glory of martyrdom (we do have to be ready for that: Rev.13:10). For any and all who are concerned about earning top rewards, if we do find ourselves in the midst of the Tribulation, there will be ample opportunity to pass tests as never before and also no doubt to help others do so – and to stay faithful to Jesus – through our encouragement and teaching of the truth.

And the other side will be blissful beyond human ken.

Wishing you a good weekend too – and keeping up the prayer on this end as well.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

I think these days a C- isn’t even a passing grade at the college level and certainly a D- wouldn’t be. Hard to believe but when I went to college a C; which was usually 70-79 percent, was acceptable. I had to work for a C+ in college algebra. That said, neither a C- or D- will be good enough on judgment day it seems. I think the counterculture movement of the 1960s turned youth in the wrong direction.

I think I’d be fortunate to get a B- when it comes to spiritual growth and even lower marks where ministering is concerned. I’m happy to tell people I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior but it rarely goes beyond that unless I am challenged. I also lose my temper sometimes when someone mocks Christians which is bad. I really have a lot of work to do. I try to make it a point to be charitable, help people when I can and give money to Christian organizations when I am able. That’s not enough though.

I hope your job is going well and that perhaps you can retire soon, if that is your wish. I see it’s been a pretty harsh winter down there by Kentucky standards. It’s been colder than average here with a good numbers of sun-zero nights and days. Going to be 57 here Wednesday which will feel more like 75.

In Jesus,

Response #15:

There are plenty of things to bemoan, historically and contemporaneously. However, that doesn't get us anywhere. We believers just need to resolve to be the "saltiest salt" we can be. That is the only way to have any genuine impact for our nation. And spiritual growth is also the best way to benefit ourselves and our personal circles too. It all always comes down to spiritual growth (Ps.119:1ff.).

Beautiful here today! Time to start working on the gardens soon.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16:

What of someone who walks away from faith and returns Ezekiel 18:24 states that if someone turns from their righteousness and does what is wicked even the good they have done will be forgotten

1 Corinthians 3:15 Does this verse prove a Christian can lose all rewards?

Presumably you believe a Christian can lose rewards, at least some?

The question is can those that are lost be regained If they walk away hypotheticaly and lose salvation fall four of Ezekiel 18:24 and return?

Response #16:

Ezekiel chapter 18 also says that anyone who turns away from evil will not have that evil remembered. You turned away, right? God is not seeking to curse but to bless – any and all who, like you, are willing to respond in the correct way.

On 1st Corinthians 3:15, as explained, this refers not to loss of reward but to the burning up of everything that was not worthy of reward in the first place: "human good", things people think are good – like shoving a theologically questionable tract into the hand of someone with no use for it (pearls before swine) or anything that comes from operating in the flesh out of human energy and not of the Spirit.

“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
Matthew 10:42 NKJV

This passage demonstrates that NO reward for a genuinely good act will be lost . . . unless of course a person apostatizes and is not in eternity to receive that reward because they have been deposited in the lake of fire instead for rejecting Christ (along with all other unbelievers).

As mentioned, I don't think the "lost and found" scenario is likely. Many Christians have "prodigal son" experiences (most, in fact); doesn't mean we "lost our salvation"; it means we "went to a far country" and repented of our folly and came back. But even in the (doubtful) hypothetical, if you are saved NOW, there is no reason for you to have lost anything you legitimately earned as a reward THEN – because you were saved THEN as NOW.

I do hasten to add that many things lukewarm Laodicea thinks of as "pleasing to God" are often anything but. So please consider aggressively committing yourself to spiritual growth through attention to good, solid in-depth teaching.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

OK if it is not possible to lose a reward except for postage why does 2 John 1:8 say so that they may receive a full reward? Why not just say so you may receive your Reward? It implies the possibility of a reward that is less than the full measure. I'm thinking of the parable of the minas, some getting to rule over 5 cities, some over 10. Would this not explain the use of the word full. Is it not likely John used the word full to sugest someone coming back from apostasy, (he talks about those who won't) and only getting something less than a full reward. Also those who receive a reward mentioned in 1Corinthians 3 won't have same same amount of works so some must fall short of the full amount, especially someone has mainly wood, hay, stubble and only a few bits of gold. This would be consistent with 2 John 1:8 and the use of the word full and the parable of the minas and different rewards? If different rewards, then losing a reward and so not receiving a full rewards see 2 John.

Jesus was asked by the disciples concerning the dispute as to who would be the greatest, who would sit on his left and right. He said that wasthe choice to made by his Father, implying greater and lesser positions of authority in the Kingdom? Others getting a full reward?

In your opinion does 1 Cor 3 show that a person can be saved without receiving any reward? There must be at least some Christians who will next to nothing, surely if your interpretation is true?

The idea that a person can be in a state of grace and close to apostasy doesn't make sense.

What of Matthew 5 where Jesus states call someone a fool will be in danger of hell fire then immediately goes on to say. Therefore, which means this being the case go and be reconciled.. etc. In other words he is saying if it is the case you are in danger of hell fire you need to go and be reconciled, implying if you don't seek reconciliation you will go to hell. This would rule out the idea that you can receive God's grace while out of sorts with another and so in danger of hell fire, which further implies you can't be a Christian just in the saved side of salvation and receiving grace. You seem to imply a person so long as they are clinging onto faith in Christ that will keep them saved Matthew 5 rules that out surely?


Response #17:

1) "Why does 2 John 1:8 say so that they may receive a full reward?" He is warning his congregation off of joining in with the apostates who have followed the false teachers: because, as he says in the next verse, "No one who goes wandering off, that is, anyone who does not keep to the teachings about Jesus Christ, has [even] a share in God" (2Jn.2:9). These two verses cannot be separated as the second one explains the first one.

2) "Why not just say so you may receive your Reward? It implies the possibility of a reward that is less than the full measure." First, the Bible says things the way the Bible says things, and that is often not the way we would say things today: it has to be interpreted according to the time in which it was written and in that culture too (isagogics). Second, keep in mind also that this is translated from Greek and that Greek expresses things differently than English does. So it's not always possible to draw English-like conclusions from subtle things like this in an English translation. John is thinking about two things here: a) warning his congregation off of apostasy, and b) encouraging them to persevere in spiritual growth, progress and production – whereby their reward may be greater than it otherwise might. So this is saying "On the one hand, I don't want you to lose everything (as you would in apostasy), and on the other hand, I do want you to maximize your reward (which you won't if you go running off after those people)". That is what the "full" means here: "make your thesaurus as FULL as you possibly can", i.e., "bounti-FUL". This Greek word, pleres, cannot be taken to mean that there is one, standard reward, a "full reward" for every believer. Far from it. As you reference yourself in the parable of minas (and talents too), there are variations of reward (we see that in the parable of the Sower and also in the three crowns, e.g.).

3) "some must fall short of the full amount": Again, there is no "full amount". The rewards a believer can earn are unlimited. In striving for "as much as possible" (what pleres "full" means here), we know of some great believers in the Bible who are likely to have enormous rewards. Most of the believers who do get the three crowns or earn ten talents or produce 100-fold will not, for all that, be rewarded to the level of Moses and Elijah, e.g. These are the two most likely candidates for the honor of sitting on the Lord's right and left hands. And there are other exceptional rewards for exceptional believers, some of which are only hinted at in scripture (e.g., the fact that the tribe of Levi is not mentioned in the discussion of the gates in New Jerusalem so it may constitute a special inner group beyond the other twelve divisions of the Church in eternity). Everyone's reward will be different even as all will receive the same basic "eternity package" of a resurrection body, a place in New Jerusalem, the right to the tree of life and the river of the waters of life, and membership in the Body of Christ forever. But on top of that, we will have special personal rewards, gold silver and precious stones (heavenly equivalents to things valued now which will be far, far better than the things of our present world). Since the very least "additional reward" is infinitely better than possessing the entire world now, and since that "least additional reward" will be eternal, why wouldn't we want to make our treasure chest "as full as possible"? Indeed we should! And that is what John is saying. BUT if we "run off" and join the apostates, we'll have nothing at all – if we give up our faith; AND if we "only" follow their influence, even if we hold onto our faith, our reward chest will not be as "full" as it otherwise might have been, because we will have sacrificed spiritual growth, progress and production by abandoning the good course and following a bad one instead.

4) "There must be at least some Christians who will [get] next to nothing" Indeed, I believe that is true – at least compared to believers who are fighting the true fight of faith for Jesus Christ every day. But again, EVERYTHING truly good is rewarded, everything done in the Spirit. Even giving a cup of water. Even saying a prayer in the Spirit from the right motives. Even trusting God, even a little bit in even a little thing. Even saying a word of encouragement to a fellow Christian. One could go on. In short, it's hard to imagine someone really being a Christian and having absolutely nothing to show for it (cf. Jas.2:14-26). But I do believe that those who have earned no crowns (since they've not even gotten to spiritual maturity) will be by far the largest group.

5) "The idea that a person can be in a state of grace and close to apostasy doesn't make sense." Roman Catholics talks about a "state of grace", but I don't know what they mean – except that they clearly don't know what they are talking about, biblically speaking. There's no such thing as a "state of grace" in the Bible. There are believers and there are unbelievers. All believers are saved (regardless of where they are at spiritually); all unbelievers are not saved (even if they are really nice, moral people). The world is a dangerous place. John was right to warn his congregation about the dangers of apostasy, because there is no such thing as "once saved, always saved" (OSAS). That is a dangerous fiction. It leads believers here in Laodicea to believe that they don't need to concern themselves with spiritual growth because they're saved "no matter what". In fact, all manner of trouble can cause believers to fall away. As our Lord remarks of the seed that falls on the rocky soil, they "believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away" (Lk.8:13 NKJV). The other two synoptic gospels tell us that, in addition to "temptation", "tribulation" and "persecution concerning the Word" (Matt.13:21; Mk.4:17) are the causes of being "tripped up". Bigger stumbling blocks have never been seen that will confront us during the Tribulation – and John uses "antichrists" in this context in anticipation of the antichrist who will be responsible for launching the Great Persecution on believers, an event that will lead in no small part to the Great Apostasy as many believers fall away under the pressure. They will have no reward at all – let alone a "full" or "bountiful" one.

6) We have discussed Matthew 5:22 before. In this verse our Lord does what He did throughout His earthly ministry, namely, He makes it clear that no one is without sin so that everyone is in need of salvation by grace through faith. No one has lived a perfect life. No one is on perfect terms with everyone. No one can meet this "reconcile with everyone" test to perfection – not if he/she is honest about it. Did you ever cut someone off in traffic? Years ago? How are you going to find them and be reconciled with them, and what in the world would you do to do so? Anyone reading the gospels will, if they are honest, throw up their hands in despair at the idea of being perfect, even going forward – and will realize that they are certainly NOT perfect looking backward. Should we try to be on good terms with our brothers and sisters in Christ always? Yes indeed. Are we going to be perfect about that? Impossible. That is why there is confession – to the Lord – and forgiveness of sin (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5). And that is why we are told to bear up with our weaker brothers and sisters (Rom.14:1ff.), forgiving them if they wrong us (1Cor.13:4-7). If we walk in love, we will do what the Lord wants us to do in the Spirit; love fulfills the Law (including the passage you mention: Rom.13:8; cf. Matt.22:36-40). I'm not saying that if a brother or sister's heart condemns them for some past offense against another believer that there is no place for making amends – but that is something that needs to be guided by the Spirit and is dependent upon the precise circumstances we may be talking about. We can't reduce that to a legalistic code – which is the opposite of love. We can pray about it and listen to the Spirit. And we also have to remember that what you or I might consider "sufficient" might not be so to the person wronged. One risks opening up quite a can of worms and making things worse than they were, or putting oneself in some kind of sick slavery to the person wronged, it being at their discretion when we've "done enough". I don't find ANYTHING like that in the Bible. Notice that our Lord was talking about a "right now" situation on top of that. So anything long in the past would doubtless not apply for that reason also. It's always spiritually debilitating to look backwards and to be fixated on the past. Christ calls us to use "Today" to the best of our ability in doing what He wants us to do. Not look back. Move forward for Him – to win the prize of a bounti-FUL reward.

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus. (15) So as many as are [spiritually] mature, let us have this attitude (i.e., of focusing on our spiritual advance and reward and not getting hung up on what lies behind: vv.13-14), and if in any matter your attitude is off-center, God will reveal that to you (i.e., assuming you are mature and are advancing as you should). (16) But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:12-16

If it were me, I would forgive whomever I had something against about from the dim, dark past – in fact that has been my practice whenever something comes bubbling up in my memory. After all, as believers, we are required to do that in order to be forgiven ourselves (Matt.18:21-35; Mk.11:26).

"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV

That lack of forgiveness on our part blocking being forgiven by God is the only exception I know of to the complete forgiveness we are otherwise promised whenever we confess our sins (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5), based upon the blanket forgiveness we received when we believed (Rom.8:1; Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; cf. Rom.6:1-10)

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Can a Christian who has apostatised for along time and returns to faith still receive a reward or a full reward?

Response #18:

As mentioned, I don't think this category of person exists. Whenever I've had occasion to hear about or talk with Christians who have claimed this, on investigation it has always turned out to be a case of a prodigal son situation rather than apostasy. Apostates no longer care about the Lord, so they never come back to Him (the way I read the Bible). But wayward believers who may, like the prodigal son, consider themselves unworthy of being called a son any longer when they come to their senses, often think of things in that way. But if they gave the Lord any thought in that far land, they wouldn't be apostates because an apostates' faith has died.

Be that as it may, as mentioned, "full reward" means "bountiful reward". We are given one day at a time, and we have the opportunity to add to our reward every day. So as long as we are here on earth, if we prioritize our relationship with the Lord – the way He wants, not what the contemporary church-visible says He wants – we can indeed do so.

I have been amazed many times in my life about the rapid spiritual progress of some who have gotten "fired up" and "red hot" for the Lord (in a good way, not in the charismatic emotionalistic way) and made amazing progress in spiritual growth in a very short time as a result; but I've also been amazed (in a bad way) about many others who have squandered the vast majority of the time and resources the Lord has given them so as to make only grudgingly slow progress. However, SOME progress is better than no progress at all (which is where most Laodicean believers are) – and it is great deal better than going backwards.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Dear Dr. Robert D. Luginbill,

Hello, firstly I would like to express my appreciation for all the truth on your site. I am discovering many treasures. So exciting!

I have been abroad for missionary work for years. Through my experiences in the mission field, including Japan (I am Japanese), I understand that working in the field tests your faith. I mean the faith of believers. And I believe your post-tribulation position is according to the Bible. The more and more the world and we, the believers approach the tribulation, I feel that the people need the truth of the Bible, especially to prepare for the tribulation. I found that ichthys.com is very necessary for Japan. To share this teaching with my friends (believers), I have started to translate a small part of your site. I understand that you are allowing us to spread the truth of your site, and I hope you will allow me to do this.

I am thinking of uploading the translation to my site https://darktolight.jp Not many visitors, but I don't care much about the numbers.

On this site, I am promoting the biblical perspective as much as I can. But nothing is like the deep study of the Word.

I pray that people will be attracted to the pure truth. I haven't read everything on ichthys.com, but if I wait until then, it may take me years. So I want to translate as much of your insight as I read them, to share with others.

And I will make sure to credit ichthys whenever I quote or upload a translation.

If you have any comments on this, please let me know.

And I want to add that I don't want to promote any denomination, I just want to uphold the Bible truth.

Thank you for reading this.

God bless you!

Again, thank you for the enormous, wonderful work that you are doing.

In Jesus,

Response #19:

Good to make your acquaintance.

That's wonderful!

Let me know when you've got something uploaded, send me the link, and I'll be happy to link it to Ichthys.

I appreciate your sacrificial work for the Lord, my friend!

Feel free to write me any time.

In Jesus,

Bob L.
p.s., I have some idea how difficult translation is, so kudos to you for managing this entire study!

Question #20:

Dear Dr. Robert,

Thank you so much for your swift answer and kind words.

I pray that the truth of God's Word will inspire Japanese believers. I am very blessed that I could find ichthys.com and you, Dr. Bob.

Yes, I will send you the link as soon as I upload it.

In Jesus,

Response #20:

I'll be on the lookout!

Question #21:

Dear Dr. Robert Luginbill,

It’s uploaded. You can see it here: https://darktolight.jp/ichthys/

I’d like to keep adding more chapters. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I am not a computer expert, as you can see. My son is helping me manage this site. Although it's not perfect, I will do what I can do.

God bless you!

In Jesus,

Response #21:

The site looks great to me! Of course, I don't read (or speak) Japanese.

Websites require a lot of work and know-how. Mine is very simplistic, in terms of the HTML and coding, so I'm not sure I'd be able to give you much technical advice. I do know some people who might be able to help if you run into particular problems.

Best wishes in your efforts to share the Word!

In Jesus,

Bob L.
p.s., site is now linked at Ichthys on the Special Topics page.

Question #22:

Hi Bob,

I just wanted to let you know that I think Satan's Rebellion is a total masterclass work. So much insightful comment. Whenever I re-read it I feel like I gain just as much info as the last. While other books like CT are terrific, I have to say I think Satan's Rebellion is my favorite.

In our Savior,

Response #22:


I appreciate the encouragement. Personally, if I had to pick one it would be Basics – of course I'm not QUITE done with that; working on it at the moment (completed now at the link).

How goes the business?

Keeping you in my prayers,

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #23:

How's BB7 – Bibliology going?

Response #23:

Slowwwlllyyy (posted now, at the link)

Question #24:

Lots of distractions in our country —depressing to see. Keep after it. Im sure a lot of us are pumped to see the final installment of Bible Basics. I sure am

Response #24:

Mostly I'm being distracted by too much to do. But I'm attempting to work through that.

"Keep after it." Will do!

Question #25:

Hi Bob,

Imagine my surprise when I opened the post to find my recent email at the top. It seemed, though, like a good way to let many who were concerned know you were alright and I'm happy you could share Franklin's epitaph.

The Psalm 19:14 reference was good for me. It reminded me of how I should be thinking. My esteem and regard for corporate medicine has subceeded my previous low opinion. It's difficult to avoid anger, bitterness and hatred -- none of which does any good. I'm in the middle of the shoulda/coulda stage which I know will pass. Hindsight is always crystal clear.

It seems like two or three correspondents were concerned about family and friends. I've come to realize that while you can lead a horse to water, sometimes you have to hit him in the head to get him to drink. If you don't want to do that, I think it's best to walk away. I may be taking the wrong approach, but until the Spirit moves me, I'm ready to hide out on my little patch of prairie and let the world go to hell in a handbag. I don't much like it out there, Bob, and don't particularly want to be around it.

I can appreciate people wanting to evangelize, but my limited attempts have proven futile. I don't know if what I have said in the past will bear fruit, but at this point, if asked, I'm happy to tell but otherwise, if a gentle prod doesn't work, I drop it. I think it's better to let my behavior do the evangelizing. I will still have to go out to the grocery, hardware store and miscellaneous places. So there will be opportunity if the Spirit presents it.

Thank you for your weekly posts. The questions and particularly your replies have been a blessing to me and a true ministry. You and yours are in my prayers daily.

Yours in our Lord and Savior,

Response #25:

It seemed a good way to let others know everything was OK here after the tornadoes – thanks! [update: last night, 3/18/22, a super cell moved through the Louisville area and came as close to producing twisters as possible without doing so – God is good! The Lord answered our prayers and protected us from damage; the sirens blared for over an hour, but there were no touch-downs]

I certainly agree with your attitude towards the world. I hate it as well, and that is biblical.

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4 NIV

(15) Do not be a lover of this world, nor of what is in this world. If anyone is a lover of this world, a [genuine] love for the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (17) The world and its lust are passing away, but whoever does God's will is [going] to stay [alive with God] forever.
1st John 2:15-17

This world in its present form is passing away (1Cor.7:31), and we are right to disengage emotionally from it, putting a higher priority on the eternity for which we are waiting, "redeeming the time" in the interim (Eph.5:16; Col.4:5; cf. Matt.6:34), so as to gain a maximum reward.

Meanwhile, we all have our own gifts and specific ministry calls from the Lord. Being prudent about when and where to share the Word, just makes sense to me (Matt.7:6). That's a question of being guided by the Spirit.

Thanks for your good words, my friend. I'm keeping you in my prayers in this difficult time. Keep in touch.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.


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