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Fighting the Fight XI

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Question #1:

Brother Bob,

I'm glad to hear from you. Funny thing is you've been on my mind as well and I've been meaning to email you but I always get side tracked. I greatly appreciated the consistent prayers and because you are praying for me you are staying in tuned and that's why I believe I've been on your mind more lately because of my decision I've made last week. That decision was to stop chemo. The second round has been tough for sure, but through much prayer I'm at peace with my decision to cease from chemo. I'm believing strong for my healing and the doctors have made it clear that there's no cure for what I have except it be a miracle. The chemo can't and won't get the glory, but it will be clear that when God heals me, it was only from God. He's spoke healing to me and it has been confirmed by others who I know can get a prayer through as well. I'm holding on to it and claiming by faith and I will and shall be healed! These last few weeks I've been experiencing fellowship with God that surpasses my understanding, It's been awesome and instant feeling his quickening spirit of life in the side and hearing his voice more in my mind clearly. Brother Bob, I know and feel him working on the inside. One thing I'm confident in is GOD GOT THIS! No matter how it turns out it's a win win. My wife and my mother are all in agreement with my decisions as I know the Lord has been dealing with them as well. My focus is to finish what God has started and called me to do while there's still day.

This won't be considered a rush, but this is a must that I waste no more time and start back the ministry. I need it just as much as my family and also many sinner friends and employee's of mine have been almost begging me to start service even though we all know that will change once service begins :). But on the flip side of that, if I can bring one soul to Christ, the angels in heaven will rejoice. I have more opportunity then I ever had before to reach someone and also many people are watching this very closely.

See I truly understand that God has ways to get our attention. Someways are more harsh then others. I also know he loves who he chasten. I never questioned God why me. I looked in the mirror and I said I know why. I've always kept the faith, but I failed God along the way and put his will on the back burner and I got myself caught up in the world dealing with day to day life. Found myself very low in the valley and could not get myself out of it. God allowed this to get me back where I should be and to complete the work he has given me to do and to completely give myself to him and put everything aside. I get it now and whether I have 1 month or 50 years, I will waste no more time.

Now with that being said, I go back to the doctor this Thursday. They will probably try to talk me into reducing the chemo, but I will reject that offer and set up a pet scan to see where I stand. For all we know the cancer is gone or on it's way :). Then after that I will ask for a monthly check up.

I want to again thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support. I can't explain how much you've help me through your ministry and your personal response. I value your friendship and your mentoring. You have help me so much spiritually when there was nobody to help me in those areas and understood what I was going through as pastor and personally. I talk about you to my family so much that they know who you are when I say Brother Bob :). That how much I appreciate you and the labor of love you give. I also pray for you daily and I thank you for letting me know what you're going through currently going through so I can specifically pray for you on those areas of need. And yes indeed God always provide for his children. One of my favorite verses in the bible is Mat 6:25-34. I keep myself in remembrance of this all the time. Take no thought for my life because God got it all covered. If he can make sure the birds are fed and the clothed the grass etc.. how much more would he do for us who are his children made in his image for his pleasure. There's so much to deal with today, we need not to worry about to tomorrow because there's enough problems for today. So we must take it one day at time and continue to seek ye first the kingdom the God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. It's so wonderful to know that we have this insurance policy that will never expire. We have the blueprint that will never change. We serve a God and a Father that is so good that whenever we ask, seek and knock his door is always open and that he will never provide a stone when we ask for bread or a serpent when we ask for fish. He's so good and worthy to be PRAISED!!!

You do so much of the encouraging, I just wanted to also try to encourage my brother. To much given, much is required. So I know the devil is super mad at you because you are being a blessing to thousands over the web. But I know as you pour out, God is pouring in and is blessing you every step of the way. I will be praying about your job situation that things get better and that his favor be upon this situation. I'm also praying for your health and that you prosper in that area of need of health. Keep that exercise going my friend, it's a good thing, along with proper diet/lifestyle change :). I can't wait to get back in gym but I have this port in my chest that I have to get remove which will take 2-3 weeks to heal and then I'm right back in the gym. Please specially also add to prayer for the ministry that my path is clear. I will be in touch and I will start being in touch more often then the past.

To God be the Glory and Praise!

Response #1:

I'm thrilled to hear from you, my friend.

On a very minor level, my experience is tracking yours. I hasten to add that my life is not in the balance, so my decisions are nowhere near of the consequence that yours are. My Orthopedist told me (about a year ago) that she couldn't find anything wrong from the X-rays. She had suspicions but no diagnosis. Pills and physical therapy was the R/x. Well, I hate pills – and within two days these had some very concerning side-effects; so naturally I stopped taking them. I also couldn't see PT when "we" weren't sure what was wrong. I can do general exercising on my own (one of Ichthys correspondents is a trainer and PT person and he gave me plenty I should do . . . should do). So I'm finally making my peace with trying to work my way back into shape and health on this score. I'm having a little success – so thanks for those prayers! Please know that I am certainly keeping you in mine every day, and I know that are others connected with Ichthys who are as well.

I just love your determination to do what the Lord has for you in spite of work and this heavy load on the health front. What you say is absolutely correct and certainly ministers to me. Like you, I consider it a blessing that there is nothing anyone can see to do that will clearly help. God does expect us to make use of reasonable means to deal with our problems when He is supplying those means. But when the means are unreasonable, or when they are clearly not going to accomplish the result intended, relying on Him is what we should do. That is what you are doing! That is what I am trying to do as well. You inspire me, my friend.

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV

Thank you so much for your inspiring and detailed letter, and for all you very kind words.

Please keep in touch!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

*postscript: Our friend went to be with the Lord last May. He was an inspiration to me to the very end (Ps.90:12).

Question #2:

How do you know God hasn't given you a trial or trials you cant bear? Other people go through trials where they die. And then others go through a trial and become apostate. Does that mean that God wont let an event happen you're not prepared for?

Since grace is undeserved favor, does that mean suffering on behalf of the Lord is undeserved?

And please pray for me. Being in this house with my family's abuse is taking its toll. They're getting worse. Its hard for me to even sleep because I'm always paranoid. I feel like I'll never get out of this.

Response #2:

We know that all testing is bearable because we have that from the Lord (1Cor.10:13), and this scripture certainly matches what we know about our Lord's perfect love and faithfulness: He is trying to help us, not destroy us.

It is certainly true that the evil one and his forces are most definitely trying to destroy us, but they are not allowed to do so. Even in the extreme case of Job, Job was preserved and his fortunes completely restored in the end, better than before. But the testing was severe, and, under the carping of his "poor comforters" we do see his resolve flag somewhat so that he gave into a certain amount of self-pity and despair. That would be understandable perhaps for all believers undergoing very difficult tests – except that we now have the book of Job to read (as well as all of the rest of the Bible), and so we know better (or at least we certainly should).

Death brings an end to all sorrow and suffering. There are no more tears on the other side, only bliss. But if we do pass away, we are instantly "in glory"; and until that moment we have a job to do for the Lord.

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
Isaiah 57:1-2 NIV

None of us can have any sure and certain knowledge of which day is the last so believers ought to live each day as if it were. If God gives us another day, that is a blessing, because it is an additional opportunity to earn more eternal reward. But those who despair and lose heart to the point of becoming apostate couldn't have loved the Lord that much in the first place.

If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!
Proverbs 24:10 NIV

This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
2nd Timothy 2:11-13 NKJV

When you speak of preparation, that is a good place to focus. For someone who is doing a reasonable job in spiritual advance, there is nothing to fear on this score. The only ones who need to be fearful about what may happen to the unprepared are the totally unprepared who are not concerned whatsoever about getting prepared. Even so, God is merciful beyond measure, but human beings, even believers, seem at times to do all they can to test His perfect patience.

Underserved suffering is indeed a part of the Christian life for believers who are advancing as Christ would have us to do. The Bible calls this "sharing the suffering of Christ" (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 2Tim.2:12; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Matt.10:38; 16:24; Mk.8:34; 10:21; 10:38-39; Lk.9:23; 14:27; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12; see the link: in CT 2A: ""sharing in the sufferings of Christ" is a part of the normal Christian experience"). Our Lord is in heaven at present, awaiting the time when He will return in glory. Meanwhile, we are His representatives in this dark world, lights shining in the darkness meant to show the world His grace and goodness. As such, we are natural targets of the evil one. But we have the advantage of knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut.31:6; Heb.13:5), that He is working everything out for us for the good regardless of what our eyes and ears and feelings are telling us (Rom.8:28), and that if we persevere in faith we will win the victory of victories to His glory and our eternal blessing (Jas.1:12; Rev.2:10).

(3) And not only this, but let us glory in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience, (4) and patience produces proven character, and proven character produces hope (i.e., of eternal reward) – (5) and this hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us (so that we are confident of the eternal outcome; cf. 2Tim.1:7).
Romans 5:3-5

For I do not consider these present hardships in any way comparable to the glory destined to be revealed for us.
Romans 8:18

Rejoicing in the hope (of resurrection and reward), showing endurance in tribulation, persevering in prayer.
Romans 12:12

(17) For this present light affliction of ours is working out for us an eternal weight of glory beyond any possible estimation. (18) [Let us] not [then be] having [any] regard for what can be seen, but [instead] for what cannot be seen. For the things which can be seen are ephemeral. But the things which cannot be seen are eternal.
2nd Corinthians 4:17-18

I'm sorry that you are still having such difficulties. When we are in the midst of pressures, it is indeed sometimes hard to see all this. But that is precisely when we need to rise above all such troubles in our hearts and see that we are really walking on a rainbow road that is leaving all of these temporary things behind, one that leads directly into the glorious presence of our Lord Himself.

I pray for you daily, my friend. And I do hope that the Lord will give you a way out of your present situation very soon, the right job or a new place to live or both. Nothing is impossible for Him. But He does often allow us to have to wait a bit, to exercise patience and to show us what is really in our hearts, the good (which we want to reinforce) and the bad (which we want to excise), pruning us to bear even more fruit in days ahead.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 NKJV

I'll keep praying for you, but please don't let this "it'll never be better" attitude prevail. Instead have faith that the Lord will deliver you. He is absolutely faithful. He could not possibly be otherwise. He never lets us down. But we often let Him down. Our job is to be patient and trust Him – and He WILL do it.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:5 NIV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

You misunderstood the 'undeserved suffering' part. I meant are we even worthy to suffer on behalf of him (being sinners not deserving of salvation)? Suffering is a privilege. Not 'this is not deserved because we didn't do anything wrong'.

Response #3:

Yes it is a privilege to suffer for the Lord. Job was being paid the most wonderful compliment when the Lord singled him out and that provoked the evil one to ask to test him to extremes. This is important to remember when are hit with trouble that is clearly not something we deserve for any divine discipline; as mentioned in BB 3B and 6A, discipline is always proportional; so when we get slammed when we haven't done anything to "deserve" to be slammed to such a degree, you can bet it is "undeserved suffering"; that's what is meant by the "undeserved" part, namely, testing rather than corrective discipline. It is true that we are all possessed of a sin nature and all commit personal sin, so in that sense no one is worthy. But we are still Christ's representatives here on earth and have our role to play in this fight. We are the targets because He is not here (Jn.17:11-19). So when He allows us to "take the heat", it is good to remember that this is a privilege, as you note, and not misinterpret what is happening and thus get "down in the dumps". That is what Job did, and his emotions led him astray even though he had held firm through the worst of it prior to being misjudged by his "friends".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Now, speaking of which, I read through the latest email posting (Mutual Encouragement in Christ VI: Perseverance) and was deeply moved by our brother’s story, testimony, and situation that makes up the majority of the emails (starting with #12 I think). Reading between the lines, I take it this is ___ from the prayer list? I felt moved to help him and his family (in addition to prayer). As I was reading I was thinking about trying to send them money somehow. Then I read the exchange with the other correspondent who felt the urge to give monetarily, and I understand your position in those responses. So I’ll defer to your judgement. I doubt they live near me or I’d offer to help more directly.

Response #4:

On the subject of our friend, yes, this was all about him. As to his wife and their children, I received another very generous and specific offer of support after I posted this, and on his instructions sent it to his wife. She considered it, but it turns out that when she was under pressure her two sons picked up the slack and they are now "making it", so she declined the offer. This is all a real eye-opening lesson to me on many fronts, and I am sure to others too (even though readers know less about all this than I do). Your intention is a great one, my friend. And as I always say at such times, I always recommend Bible Academy (link), the Bible ministry of my good friend and former seminary colleague, Curt Omo, a worthy ministry, a worthy cause, and a genuine need.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hello, Robert,

It has been awhile. Your teaching and the bible are a blessing to me You have helped in so many ways God knows and I thank you. In your prayers for the sick and hurting, you posted a prayer for wife. She has now gone to be with the Lord. I can not express how much your words have helped me understand it better to be there than here. I will keep moving up the hill with tears of joy. Your Brother in Jesus are Lord

Response #5:

I'm so sorry to hear your said news, my friend. I have been praying for you and your wife -- and I'm sure that others have through the Ichthys prayer list as well. There is comfort through the tears to know with assurance that those we love are with the Lord. That is where we would prefer to be as well (Phil.1:23), but we have to soldier on as long as our Lord would have us to do so. And we know – with absolutely certainty of rock-solid faith – that we will stand together with our dear departed in resurrection on that glorious and wonderful day to come. It's not far off at present, even if it is our lot to endure unto the end.

I'll be keeping you in my prayers, my friend. Thanks for your kind words.

In Jesus Christ who is our faithful Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dear Teacher

I am just so grateful for the thought. I think that it has come home to me in a new way or depth that you and our friend and all believers are my real or closest family. So, where it already meant a great deal to me, it means even more to me now and everyday that you are all looking out for me in one way or another. I don't know either how that will work out but I am maintaining a ready attitude toward leaving. If any reasonable opportunity presents itself, I mean to take advantage of it for us both at least.

Thank you very much, Sir, for the urgent prayer request. I have no words for what it means to me that you made it such a priority. I thank you, Sir, and I am grateful to all those too who pray for us.

Hopefully, the Lord will make a way somehow. I cannot fathom how. But I am more confident everyday that He has a plan. And I will keep looking for an open door to take advantage of in this.

Thank you so very much again, Sir, for being there.

Your student in the Lord Jesus Christ

Response #6:

It's no problem, my friend. You would do the same for me.

Nothing is impossible for the Lord. And when things that are terrible happen -- and especially if they are terrible but somehow "miss us" – in my experience that is Him working things together for good in ways we might not see clearly at that moment. I have had "near disasters" with "follow on problems" that He has gotten me through without anything more than minor disruption . . . which have in turn protected me from far worse things (I found out later).

He is faithful. Our job is to have a mustard seed of faith that He is, and wait on His deliverance.

We will be praying for that indeed.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I am a bit confused. Because you seem to be for not talking to them, but elsewhere when it comes to my family you said:

"That doesn't mean "ending it"; it does mean looking out for yourself in a reasonable way. "

And this, right after I explained that they are physically violent towards me. Could you please explain?

Response #7:

I am for anything godly that helps you move on.

I'm against anything that actually puts you in any physical or other danger.

There are a lot of variables between those two, and that is the province of the individual believer, namely, to make those judgment calls.

For example, a person who makes a phone call twice a year on birthdays and anniversaries might not be putting him/herself at physical risk with persons who have proved dangerous in the past, but it might, depending on the dynamics of the relationship, still be a very bad idea because of history and what it might lead to. On the other hand, I suppose it's possible to have contact with questionable relatives in their home and not be in physical or emotional danger, but if there are signs that there might be such dangers, then it would be a mistake to put oneself in that position.

So you have to listen to your conscience in the Spirit (not to inappropriate guilt), and you also have to listen to your sense of self-protection (that is the Spirit too), without being selfish. Where the lines are drawn is, as I say, up to the individual to decide (no third party can make those calls), but I would always argue for erring on the side of physical and emotional safety, especially where there is a track record of damage and danger.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Good morning Rob

Hope all is well. Thank you for the information on the website. May God give you more and more wisdom in these matters.

I have a subject that I want to ask from a Biblical point of view. I am a Life Skills facilitator for a local community in Jhb. And many times we are faced with different human characters. The issue of psychopaths and empaths.

What is the equivalent of an empath, if there is any, and how do you deal with character disturbed individuals? Also the issue of mental illnesses Bipolar and narcissist.

I do have a background in Chemistry. So to me these are real issues and I don't normal see churches addressing this. Well in South Africa it falls more on the demonic side but clearly there are people who are very sane (disturb characters).

It is a really challenging job because no one is interested in this part of human being.

Thank you

Response #8:

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

To be honest, I know very little about modern psychology's system of classification, and from the biblical perspective what I do know about it, it seems to fall far short of reality. Obviously, they miss the entire spiritual dimension to human behavior since it is a materialistic pursuit. But modern psych even seems to me to fall short of common sense evaluation and of ancient observations about human nature (Thucydides comes to mind as someone with valuable comments on this topic, inasmuch as I do research in his history for my secular job). So I'm afraid I don't have any particular insight into this issue for you. If you could give me more details and put them in a non-technical phrasing I'd be happy to give it another go.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Good day Rob...

Thank you for your prompt response. I appreciate that. Well, I think in simpler terms... I am asking about the impact of genetics and nurturing in people. The reason why I am asking is because mostly in our African families the family structures were torn apart. Take for a example township life - what you call "ghetto life". As much as I know that God can change any person and give them a new life- but what about the value system if it has been disrupted so badly that there is nothing in place. Basically the foundation is wrong, the thinking is wrong then what? Is there a chance of re-wiring the brain say at 30 to think or reason in a correct way.

I fully agree with you psychology does miss the spiritual part.


Response #9:

In my reading of the Bible, my study of history, and my personal experience, there are people who are horribly negatively affected by their difficult backgrounds . . . but there are also people who become good Christians in spite of everything they may have suffered. And there are also plenty of people who have led easy lives who never come to Jesus Christ. This life is all about the fundamental choice to follow Jesus or not, and God knows precisely what sort of experience is best for each one to receive so as to bring them to the gospel. Even so, even with the perfect help (that is, being placed in just the right place with just the right experiential stimuli, etc., etc.), most reject the Gift of gifts. But one thing is clear – and will be made very clear at the last judgment: it's not about environment or privilege or any other imaginable life circumstance. Everyone who has every lived could have been saved (some have been, most not) and if saved could have won the highest eternal rewards (some will, most won't).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Thank you so much for your teachings. They have truly helped me become so much wiser! V/r

Response #10:

You're most welcome, and thanks for you encouraging words!

N.b.: BB 6A Peripateology MP3 audio files just posted.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

I'm going through a period of severe uncertainty and utter terror that I cannot mend with myself and God. It's all I can do to cling to Christ but these attacks are effecting me mentally, emotionally and spiritually in an extreme way.

About a decade ago I made an decision to give my life to Christ and from there I made a heartfelt decision to dedicate my life wholly to him. I was baptized. My walk with Christ was a beautiful and wonderful thing for about 2 or 3 years, when I began desiring God more and more. Craving him, wanting to know who he was and how to have a genuine, intimate relationship. After a period of seeking, still a babe in the Word, I became intensely frustrated not finding him, not hearing from him or seeing him, and slowly I began to backslide in my sins. Sexual sin was already a struggle for me at the moment, and it's only now that I'm beginning to see the full breadth of its destruction, but I digress.

In this season, I felt abandoned. God felt so distant to me, I thought I would never have a real relationship with him. Throughout this period of simultaneous backsliding and trying to seek him in futility for four years, I saw his pursuit of me calling me back. Christians ministering to me on smoke breaks in the parking lot, words spoken to me through other believers about things they would have no way of knowing, I saw these things, this seemingly supernatural kindness of the Lord seemed to work in my own heart towards what later would turn into a genuine desire to repent, even when I was fallen.

The more I backslid, the more broken I became, until this year I broke down, got on my knees, and asked the Lord for the forgiveness of all of my sins, I forgave myself and everyone on my heart who needed forgiveness, and right then, my anxiety and turmoil left me. I felt at peace, I felt restored. I felt like I could continue where I left off and followed him. I smashed all my idols, gave up friends, gave up everything that would act as a distraction from the Lord. I didn't know exactly why I was doing it, but I was doing it, because I wanted to seek the face of God. I became obsessed with seeking him until I found him for about two weeks.

But this did not last very long. As I began to really study my Bible again, I came across Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10, and my complete and utter terror began to set in again. I became more paralyzed by fear than I had before. I began obsessing with these verses, listening and reading the words of men, pouring over the Bible, watching video after video trying to understand these verses, and verses like them. With every answer became more questions, unsolved mysteries in my mind. Was I saved and then lose my salvation? Was I ever saved at all? Am I saved now? Can I be saved? Was I deceived? If so when? Am I the prodigal son or the burned up branches? Will Christ not turn away those who seek him? Or will he give me over to a reprobate mind? With all of this confusion, all I can do is cling to Christ's sufficiency, but utter terror still grips my heart.

I know that apart from fear that I have a love for Christ. *A* love. I *do* desire him, I *do* want to follow him. I *do* want to forsake everything to follow him. This isn't the cry of someone who figured out the truth too late, but a cry from someone who genuinely had these desires when he thought he was restored and at peace, but was deeply troubled later. I want my Abba Father, I want to go where he goes, I want to do what he wants me to do. This is what I always wanted. This was what I was always after. This is what my heart broke for when I was backslidden, this is what I desired when I thought I was restored to repentance, and in my paralyzing fear, this is what I want now.

Is there any hope for someone like me?

Response #11:

Hello Friend,

The first thing to say is that over the years I have received myriad emails from good Christians like yourself who are upset about things they have done recently or in the past. Clearly, sin is something we are supposed to master and stay away from as far as possible. But also just as clearly scripture tells us that when we confess we are forgiven (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:1-5). The main thing to note is that all believers in Jesus Christ are saved – only unbelievers are lost:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

There is such a thing as apostasy (the total death of faith), but you are clearly a believer, and in my experience, those who have reverted to a state of unbelief are no longer concerned with Jesus Christ at all (as you clearly ARE concerned). There is also a thing called the "sin unto death", and the prospect of that should be enough to keep any believer away from gross involvement in sin (see the link:  "Apostasy and the Sin unto death").

There are many passages in scripture which are wrongly understood, and your experience in finding the worst possible "twist" to condemn yourself is a very typical reaction for Christians who are out of sorts like the prodigal son was. Here are a few links on the Hebrews passages:

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation.

Does Hebrews 10:26 Teach Loss of Salvation?

Are those in Hebrews 6:4 who "crucify the Son of God afresh" lost?

Hebrews 10:26

Deliberate Sinning.

More Questions on the Book of Hebrews: Melchizedek, Esau, and the 'Impossibility' of Being Restored

Finally, if I may diagnose your condition, you are a Christian who really cares about the Lord and your relationship with Him. That is more unique than you may realize in our Laodicean day and age. And as a result, you're not going to be happy until you get around to doing things His way. What you also may not realize, moreover, because of the dearth of good Bible teaching nowadays, is that while the "defense" of sanctification is clearly important, you can't win this fight without "offense", namely, spiritual growth (the two things necessarily and critically complement each other). So I commend to you the postings at this website, Ichthys. You might want to start with the recently posted BB 6A: "Peripateology: the study of the Christian Walk".  If will provide both motivation and guidance as to how to "get there from here". 

Life is short, and we are only here after salvation to fight the fight for Jesus for which we are going to be rewarded eternally.  You still have time to win "the three crowns" and make your time standing before Him on the day of evaluation a pleasant experience instead of non-rewarding one. So I would suggest that you 'get cracking'.

"His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'"
Matthew 25:21 NKJV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thank you for your response, I understand you must be busy answering these, and I am not a unique circumstance, but I hope you will indulge me further. I have been reading your links all day, and they have certainly helped.

This fear cannot be good for my heart, the immense amount of adrenaline running through my veins and stealing my sleep--it's too early for a stroke. There have been three isolated occasions where I have been told that a demonic spirit is oppressing me, whether this is true or not I dont know, but I hope you will be able to put my mind to rest by helping me with some fundamental, probably simple Christian beliefs that have been lost on me due to pouring over complex theological doctrine in an attempt to solve my own spiritual enigma.

It was only until I chose to forgive myself that God at first released me from my previous mental torment it would seem, but now I am again in a position of obsessing over my good works and bad works, even knowing that it is Christs finished work on the cross that justifies me. Looking back at my past sins *while* I was a professing Christian and condemning myself. An obsession over having certain mindsets and attitudes and performing certain actions that will somehow justify me. I want to be obedient, but when does obedience cross into works territory? Is obedience required for salvation? Or is belief the requirement that brings about obedience? This has always confused me.

Another fear of mine derives from a fear that I will live my life believing I am secure, then getting to heaven and hearing those fatal words "Begone from me". It seems so easy to live your entire life thinking you're on God's side, only to die and feel so stupid. If the gate is narrow, then how narrow is it? This thought produces such a level of uncertainty that it begins to turn into an existential panic that I cant mend. Who exactly can be saved except by chance that he got it right? And though I know this must not be the case: but it almost seems like a cruel prank that God is hanging the sign so high that only those lucky enough to be tall can read it correctly. Though I must be picturing it wrong.

Finally, it seems to be the consensus among all denominational lines that the requirement for salvation is belief. Of course one can believe or even approve of Christ and still be unsaved, even the demons believe and they tremble. What sort of belief brings about salvation? What does it mean to believe? Surely I believe, I believe a lot. That Jesus is Lord, died on my behalf, was buried, raised then ascended into heaven and is coming back to judge the world. I believe that, but what kind of belief brings about a saved heart? A new birth? And whatever belief is required, what else is required? Whatever more is required, are they extra things or merely evidence of the salvation? How can one know he is saved? How can he think about death and say "I'm going with my Lord"? How can one find assurance and salvation absolutely? Is such a thing possible?

Thank you.

Response #12:

Hello Friend,

Apologies for the delay. Saturday is "posting day" for the website (newest link: Emails).

Fear is not a good sign. Being "in Christ", in fact you have nothing to fear whatsoever.

"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Luke 12:7 NKJV

"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Luke 12:32 NKJV

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

This does not mean that we do not respect the Lord and revere the Father. We do. But we do so as children of a perfect Father who loves them and as the Bride of the perfect Savior who bought us.

In terms of "doctrine", truth is truth. If we are learning the truth, that is what we are supposed to be doing. But we are to learn the actual truth (not "doctrines" if they are not true but only man-made constructs: cf. Matt.15:9). And learning is not enough. No truth can do us any good whatsoever if we do not BELIEVE it. If an unbeliever memorizes the gospel message so as to be able to pass an academic test yet does not believe it, he/she is not saved. Similarly, if we understand that the scripture teach God's complete love for us and forgiveness of us when we confess and come back to Him, BUT refuse to believe it, these truths do us not good.

Second, looking back is always a mistake. The true Christian life is all about moving forward, NOT looking backward.

(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 anyone had reason to torture himself about the past, it was Paul. His persecution of the Church of Christ exceeded by leaps and bounds whatever past sins almost any of us might name as reasons to be plunging ourselves into paroxysms of guilt. But he tells us here to forget. We are supposed to be moving forward for Jesus Christ. Upset by past performance? Get up off the ground and start moving forward NOW.

(12) Therefore (going back to the race analogy of v.1), pick up those hands hanging slack at your side, put some strength back into your weak knees, (13) and make straight tracks for your feet, so that, [even though you fell down,] what you sprained might not be twisted completely out of joint, but might instead work its way back to health.
Hebrews 12:12-13

There is only one way forward: spiritual growth. As you grow, as you start partaking of solid spiritual food again, believing it and starting to put it into practice, all these troubles will dissolve.

Third, salvation is not difficult. It is the easiest thing in the world . . . for us. Christ already died for all of our sins. Who then is lost? Only those who refuse to accept the Gift and throw it back into the Father's face, or, who once have tasted its goodness, spit it out and revert to complete unbelief. People don't go to hell for sinning. They go to hell for being unbelievers. Period.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

Belief is choice. Faith is choice. Faith is the essential exercise of free will, the image of God, choosing to put one's trust in God rather than in the world regardless of what the world says or our eyes see or ears hear or emotions feel.

If you have put your trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life, you are most definitely saved. The demons have knowledge of Jesus; they do not choose for Him. You have. Rejoice in that choice – and treasure it. Your faith is the most precious and important thing that you possess.

You are saved, my friend. Gaining assurance is a process of trusting a little and coming to trust a lot. Like the seed of the mustard tree, it may start small, but given the right soil and attention, it will grow in your heart into a massive tree. So take pains to water that seed with the water of the Word, hearing it, learning it, believing it, directly from the Bible but also very importantly from a solid Bible teaching ministry you have vetted and have confidence in.

You are certainly welcome to everything at Ichthys.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the Rock upon whom our eternal lives are unshakeably founded.

Bob L.

Question #13:

Wow, such simple truths. You are truly a blessing for my healing heart and I genuinely will add you to my prayers for being able to explain things so simply and assuredly for me. You've saved me much anxiety for the rest of the working week. With these truths in mind, I believe I am stepping in the correct direction now mentally and emotionally. I won't keep you from your work much further, I hope you have time for one more response, if you could humor me on a few final thoughts and troubling hypotheticals to seal my saving faith going forward. I know there are other brothers struggling with questions, so I'll make this last email count, do take your time with it if you must.

There always seems to be more questions even when I have answers, but I am deciding to put my faith into practice by constantly repeating to myself "Christ is sufficient." Though I have a few "what if's" which keep my eyes off the Lord, a fear of being tricked by my thought processes when they matter. A major concern of mine is when learning from teachers of the word and discerning who is correct about what they say. Some of these men seem to be clearly men of God, but they can say some scary things, especially the Calvinists, some who seem genuinely convicted by the spirit to teach, who if they were by some off chance in error spiritually, I would be majorly surprised. Men like (but not limited to) Paul Washer, David Wilkerson, John MacArthur, and less well known, Tim Conway, who frightens me the most. Many of these types of preachers seem to open their message with a call to action that is admirable and true, but seemingly always close it with some kind of high stakes ultimatum of some sort, which makes the prospect of being a practicing Christian a true slave-to-master relationship instead of a son-to-Father one and ultimately unattractive in a counteracting way regardless of the immense fruit of the message. Of course, I wouldn't trade hard truths for peace of mind, though I find myself avoiding these hard to swallow pills every time I have the opportunity to hear them. I've learned a lot from all of them, but I find myself walking on eggshells instead of being compelled to delight in the ways of God any time I hear them. To the wise or mature, I'm sure what many God-fearing pastors say make a lot of sense, but to someone like me, I can't help but wonder if there is somehow a state of a saved soul that can be out of grace for not having enough faith in the moment. Can a genuinely saved Christian for example, live his entire life sure of his salvation, and on his deathbed say to himself in the soberness of impending death "If I were to die, I don't know where'd I go" out of the fear of the moment then enter Heaven despite? I don't mean to overwhelm the question with words, but I'm sure my question has a rather simple answer.

To simplify, can a genuinely saved Christian be "in" and "out" of grace for whatever reason? Or is such an idea oxymoronic? Whether it be sin or implicit or circumstantial disbelief or doubt? (as opposed to explicit disbelief and total rejection of truth found in the unbeliever) To relate this to myself, if (Hypothetically, for the sake of question for now) I were saved since years ago, was I fatally outside of grace for the period of my backsliding then entered into grace again once I opened my eyes again? Or would I have been met with a merciful surprise if I were to have died in this period of backsliding and seen Christ. To simplify even more, what is the distinction of non-saving faith versus saving faith? Can a Christian have a saving faith that saves them, then have a lesser faith down the road that either temporarily or otherwise, puts him outside of saving grace? That's a frightening thought that surely doesn't produce a healthy assurance, but rather a double-mindedness that produces spiritual hesitance at all times.

Now, I see a sort of obsession with Matthew 7:21 among preachers, and rightly so, since knowing Jesus yet Jesus not knowing you is a terrifying thought, and rightly so which is why it's so often preached. Who does this verse separate exactly? It seems correct that obedience is brought about by salvation which is brought about by saving faith, but then who is Jesus talking about here? I grew up being taught that Jesus was talking about Christian "hobbyists". The common sight that is the Christians by name only, who were never really saved to begin with. But elsewhere, the consensus among many preachers appears to be that Matthew 7 is actually talking about born again believers that slackened somewhere in their obedience or relationship with Christ. And that the pulpit had better be vigilant lest they're told "Begone from me." Another dilemma that produces spiritual hesitance and uncertainty. A very similar concern can be attributed to the Parable of the Ten Virgins which seems to compliment this verse in the same way, but I think by now you understand what it is I'm asking.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Another tricky verse is Revelation 21:8, which says

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

And similarly, 1 Corinthians 6:9

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men . . .

I mourn for those brothers who struggle with sexual sin and are genuinely desperate to be rid of it. Where does grace not apply exactly? This further adds to my aforementioned question of "in n' out" grace. Can a born again believer genuinely wrestle with sin and end up unjustified if that habitual sin or addiction is not utterly put to death by the end? Surely vengeance is the Lords, lawlessness he shall repay, but this begs the question; if Christ's death was wholly sufficient, creating a lawful peace between the capitulating rebel and God, his wrath against the believer satisfied; we've established where his grace begins, but where does it end? And is it circumstantial to the obedience of the believer? (This is not concerning the sin unto death, as has been thoroughly answered on your website, but whether or not grace is like an ever-burning fire, or a light switch that is switched on and off depending on the consistency of the believers actions).

In addition, the Apostle Paul constantly relates our salvation to a race or a fight with a price at the end. Practically speaking, both scenarios include the possibility of failure or defeat, and many preachers seem to raise the stakes of these games by making the price of failure eternal-- even in response to the born again believer. If the answer is more or less that the grace of God prevails regardless of a believers genuine wrestling with sin as I'm want to believe, then I must stress that I do in fact understand that no matter the answer, a graceful and highly merciful response to sin with the believer by no means warrants sin or makes it easier to commit or more attractive to me. I've been blessed with the chastening of the Father in this way. My ultimate hope here is that the answer frees my mind and is able to finally delight in the ever-forgiveness of the Lord.  These questions all tie into a central theme of the nature of grace, so I hope I'm not being too lengthy with my questioning.

Finally, and I'll leave it at this, is the question of simply living life as a Christian. I first emphasize this, that I of course desire and even crave to be used in an extraordinary way by the Lord. Even in a way that is totally riveting and uprooting from my daily life. I am completely open to and prepared for my circumstances being utterly interrupted and shifted by the Lord and would delight in being unexpectedly rendered slave to the tasks of the Lord. The heavy language is intended in transition towards the following, that I do desire a simple life where I gain a modest education and make an income to care for my special needs sister when I soon inherit her custody and also to marry and raise a family. This situation is ideal for me. Even though I equally sense a heaviness of heart for the extraordinary, I consider myself in reserve for that time, serving the Lord in simple ways where ever I can. But it is this heaviness of heart for the extraordinary that I ask this, do I live a simple life in these trying times when war rages? Or do I sell all I own and save my comfort for Heaven? Is creation to be enjoyed and settled at all? Or utterly forsaken? But if the Lord called me to be a janitor but I instead planted 100 churches in Ethiopia, surely I would not be explicitly pleasing the Lord as Paul Washer put it. Obviously I'm not asking you to discern my divine purpose, but to aid me in removing guilt for desiring a simple life. Do I take initiative for the extraordinary, or are extraordinary men to be called first? Yet we were all commissioned to preach to all the world. Do you see my dilemma?

I apologize for the lengthy response, but I'm blessed to have come across your insight, your website and all the excellent articles you've put up which have aided me greatly. I have realized already the gift of freedom from sin, but am desperate for the joy that comes with this gift of salvation. My hope is that I can return to where I once found God, as a warm and loving Father who I can boldly run to in my time of need and to grow in my sonship and relationship with the Father. True spiritual liberty is what I seek. Your website has ministered to me in a profound way and it is surely the work of the Lord that your insight has aided in completing my peace that I've wrestled against for so long. If you understood my previously sorry state, then in the name of Jesus you should know that you're a worker of miracles through him. I await your response.

Thank you, and God bless.

Response #13:

Hello Friend,

Thanks much for your kind words.

It's no wonder that people have doubts given that we live in the era of lukewarmness, Laodicea (see the link). You could go to a hundred churches and listen to a thousand pastors and not receive anything but ambiguous messages which only stoke doubt and guilt. These are the wrong places to go and the wrong people to listen to. Read your Bible. Many things are very clear therein. Do you need some things explained? Indeed. Go somewhere or listen to someone who explains them correctly. How to know that? Use the fruit test. If the fruit is consistently good and does not give you spiritual indigestion but is promoting your spiritual growth, then that is a tree to esteem. Ichthys is not the only place. One other place I always recommend is my good friend pastor/teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (link).

"Grace" is not magic – except in the Roman Catholic church and very many Protestant churches which emulate many of its worst features. "Grace" means favor. God is favorable to all of us who are one in His Son. If you are saved, you most definitely have received God's favor and you do so every day. A person is either a born again, born from above child of God . . . or not. You clearly are. What next? Stop moving sideways and start marching forward through the truth of the Word of God.

This is what is wrong with "preaching" in a nutshell: rather than teaching people the truth they need to know, it merely stokes their guilt and panic, raising doubts instead of answering questions, and doing so with a sinister end at that: "join!", "be water-baptized!", "tithe!", "work!", and "give, give, give" and "bring friends and family [who will do the same]" – but you'll never get closer to Christ that way; rather you'll be led ever farther away. Here is the verse with which our Lord concludes that context:

"And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"
Matthew 7:23 NKJV

If He "never" knew them, then how could they "ever" have been believers? Despite their religious works, these people are unbelievers (analogous to very many church-going nominal Christians today who have never actually accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior).

Revelation 21:8 is speaking of unbelievers, and so is 1st Corinthians 6:9. Simply put, there is a big difference between people who "are" XYZ and people who once "practiced the deeds of XYZ". What about believers who sin? All believers sin. The problem with becoming embroiled in a pattern of gross sin is that it sours our relationship with Christ and drives us far from Him – like the prodigal son. If we still believe, we are believers, but if we refuse to come back, one of two things will happen: either we will abandon our faith (because we are tiring of the discipline) or we will hang onto faith along with our increasingly bad behavior – and the Lord will not allow that bad witness to go on forever. In other words, we are disciplined for sin and forgiven when we confess; but if we are truly rebellious to an outrageous degree, we will end up abandoning the Lord because of the pressure from Him or we will be taken home to be with Him early in a most painful way (see the link:  Apostasy and the Sin unto Death).

The only dilemma I see is that you appear to have been adversely affected by legalistic influences (not uncommon in our Laodicean age). We are indeed in a war, and to wage it we cannot go about without uniforms, without weapons, without rations, without all of the various and sundry paraphernalia required to fight the fight we are in. If we devote ourselves completely to pleasure, it will turn us away from the Lord. But it is a false dichotomy to suggest that if we take someone we love out to lunch, e.g., we are somehow not doing what Christ wants us to do. Here is the important point: the Christian life correctly lived is all about offense, not just about defense. People who build monaster-like fortresses are not advancing and Christ wants us to advance. If we really do put spiritual growth, progress and production for Jesus Christ first in our lives, it will, over time, as we learn, lead us to ever better decisions. Here is how it does NOT work: we know nothing and much of what we do "know" is wrong; we decide on radical policies for the rest of our lives and apply them in a Procrustean way, giving up everything, abandoning those we love, deserting our responsibilities . . . and expect God to honor us for this idiocy. No. We must be responsible for ourselves and for those who depend on us. We must live real lives in the real world. And within that "real life", we must begin to grow. As we do, we learn more about what the Lord wants from us specifically, we are tested and pass (or should), and are led into ministry of one sort or another (these are kaleidoscopically variegated and do not usually conform to what people often think of as "ministry"). As this process goes forward, we will care less and less about the world and we will change many things about our lives, but we will do so reasonably, prudently, and as the result of good applications based on the truth and undertaken by the mature believers we now are. Bottom line: make spiritual growth your priority; everything else will fall into place. Any other quick fix policy is probably motivated by the devil – and even if it isn't it will be exploited by him as soon as we are foolish enough to embark upon it.

I'm very happy to hear of your spiritual progress. Be pleased to keep it up. The task is the same for us all: grow, progress, produce – and it all is based upon hearing, believing and applying the Word of God.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob,

Status report: I pulled myself together quite well last week, and got through all three of my tests and a report about my upcoming paper with what I gather to be flying colors.  I seem to do well when the pressure is on but slack off when there is plenty of time. [details omitted] It's all very tiresome, but we shall survive. I'm an old hand at this point.

Yours in Christ,

Response #14:

Thanks for the good report! Keep me posted, and I'll continue praying for you.

Yes, the prosperity test is often the one that trips up otherwise 'gung ho' Christians who are genuinely trying to do what the Lord wants. Pressure and crises tend to bring out the best in true spiritual heroes, but when the pressure lifts, getting into and keeping up a good cruising speed as soon as there is some breathing room is often a tough maneuver to pull off. Reminds me of water-skiing for the first time. All is well as long as there is tension on the rope, but as soon as the boat turns around and the line goes slack, down you go! With experience, it's no problem. Getting into the habit of reacting correctly to the push and pull of the attacks and tests we Christians face here in the devil's world is exponentially harder. But you seem to be getting the hang of it. Good for you!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Bob,

I was so happy that you felt that what I wrote stood up in terms of scripture.

For the last few days I have been stuck in bed through a back injury. Nothing serious but enough pain to keep me fairly immobile for a little while. Whilst resting I have been reading and thinking a lot more. I was praying this morning and was told to "write it down!" So I wrote down what I was praying about and put it up on the blog that I post on. Here is what I wrote.

Calling good evil and evil good. We are now living in a time whereby society is calling evil good and good evil. As we know that this is not just a battle in the physical world but also the spiritual realm, Christians are getting attacked on all sides. Where are these attacks coming from? Wolves in sheep’s clothing practising doctrines of demons – Many churches are now falling through losing the love of God or exposing themselves to extra-biblical revelations or doctrines which simply do not measure up with scripture or even the spirit of Jesus Christ teachings. Christians are beset on all sides by false doctrines. These doctrines can be wildly different from one another in tone; they can be aggressively legalistic or can be worldly to the point of being purely pagan in origin. However, whichever direction the falsity is coming from, they all ultimately end with the same devastating conclusion: that they downplay or outright deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. From there onwards they then propose that our salvation is not assured in Jesus Christ or that salvation is not even necessary. The most important aspect of Christianity IS salvation which can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ. This is where our walk in faith and the Spirit begins as we repent of our sins and strive to live our lives following in HIS holy example of our Lord and Saviour. Any teaching which undermines or denies this overwhelming necessity of our faith is heretical. Pressure to conform to the world – We know that we are to render to Caesar what is his and what is God’s to God but we are also told to not be OF the world but to be IN the world instead. We are to be a separate people as we cannot serve two masters. We know that God never changes. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it and fulfilled it He did. “It is finished”. Only by salvation through Jesus and by turning our lives over to His purpose can we be living in the fulfilment of God’s law as Jesus Christ is the only man who ever completely fulfilled the law. It is only through our salvation through faith that we will be able to stand before God at judgement with our scarlet sins made white as snow through the blood of Christ. We know this as Christians. It is more important to please God than to please man. It is true that we are not to judge others, that only God has that right. We must not compromise on our own walk on the narrow path however for when we do, not only are we losing direction and heading towards the broad road of destruction but we may be also leading others towards that road when we give them the wrong example. We have seen the bible rewritten before our very eyes so that it conforms with the times rather than the times conforming with the Word of God. Calling evil good and good evil – Whether the compromises which we are asked to make to our faith are coming from a society at large of unbelievers or from within the “church” itself we know that there is only woe coming to those that call evil good and good evil. At some point in your life you may be asked to not only stand up for your faith but also to stand by it and stand upon it. I recently read a very perceptive article which begged the question “Why should we expect unbelievers to behave as though they were believers?” I suspect that we need to be reminded of this fact. The apostles themselves often had to shake the dust off their feet and would not cast their pearls before swine. Sometimes we can only hope we have planted seeds and then we must move on. I was told to write this article whilst I was in prayer. I was praying out loud “I know that we are not to judge but to tell the truth in love to believers, but Lord, “WHERE ARE ALL THE BELIEVERS?” A line is being drawn in the dust. The gap between the broad road and the narrow path is ever growing. It will soon be obvious to others that you are not with them and are not heading in the same direction as they are. It will be obvious not only to strangers who live in unbelief but people in your community and even your church and family that you are sticking to the narrow path no matter how lonely or hard it gets.

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:16

Hope you are well Bob.

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Him,

Response #15:

Good job! Some scriptures of support that came to mind:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20 NKJV

I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
1st John 2:17 NIV

Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.
1st John 2:22 NIV

I'm thrilled to watch your spiritual growth and the confidence in the Spirit grow, my friend!

Thanks for the prayer – keeping you and yours in mine daily as well.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Teacher

Thank you so very much for taking the time with it. I am very grateful for all your help. And reading the new answers did not suggest to me that I needed them any less after a few months. I clearly did. There was a great deal of clarity that this batch gave me - in every answer too. Thank you for going on to produce them. Yes, Sir, I am saving the answers up. As soon as I am able, I mean to organize them according to books of the Bible for easier reference. I find them invaluable although for now not readily accessible when I want to refer to them.

It is always a joy to me to be able to give you pleasure, Sir. I always hope that what you see in me will encourage you in your work. It is very hard work indeed and I cannot help wondering how it is even possible sometimes to have a ministry like yours existing in the world today. It was Great Grace and Mercy from the Lord to be brought to you, very great indeed. And I am unworthy of it.

[details omitted]

But I honestly have no clue how I can make all that work.

Your student in the Lord Jesus Christ

Response #16:

I'm happy to hear that you found this useful, my friend. I'll get through the whole batch sooner or later. And it'll all probably end up on Ichthys, sooner or later.

Thanks for the update – very glad to hear that your family and loved ones are out of danger. I'm also glad to hear of your progress and engagement on all fronts. Doesn't mean it's easy, of course. Pursing the correct path also has its challenges and difficulties. But putting the Lord first in all one does also has its wonderful benefits, in this life and the next.

When you say, "but I honestly have no clue how I can make all that work", I think all of us have had this feeling when we are facing some monumental task – and this life is full of them. I can tell you that a mountain is climbed on step at a time – but you know that. What I will say is that if this mountain is one the Lord wants climbed, you will be able to do it and do it well. So don't allow yourself to be daunted by the height of what lies in front of you. Remember that the Lord is the One who made this mountain – and He can move it out of the way for you too, as long as you trust Him.

"For assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."
Matthew 17:20b NKJV

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

After many months of introspection, I discovered where exactly in my childhood my mind broke.

[details of negative cultural influences omitted]

Response #17:

We've all experienced "bumps and lumps" in the past. What I have noted many times is that those with smooth road childhoods go astray just as often as those with bumpy road childhoods; and that there are enough who rise out of the most horrible and unlikely circumstances to be great believers to refute the proposition that environment has anything to do with it. You can purge whatever is bad back there. The best way to do so in my experience, observation and reading of scripture is to just forget it on the one hand, and set your thoughts on "the things above" on the other. As long as we are in these bodies and in this world, the evil one and the world cooperate with our sin natures to dredge up "bad stuff" or in the absence of sufficient bad stuff to dredge up to present us with new "bad stuff". It's really one and the same fight. We don't have to pay attention to the new and we don't have to dwell on the old. We can say "get away!" to evil of every sort. It's a matter of choice and a matter of habit, with good choices reinforcing good habits until the victory is total, for those determined to walk with the Lord at all times.

Keeping you in my prayer daily, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

I feel a bit guilty and conflicted. On the one hand, there were times they did good things for me. On the other, there did abandon me (and I had only turned to them out of desperation and having nowhere else), and I feel a kid shouldn't have to be desperate and lowly to get their family to help them (whether by not abandoning them at all, or day to day). And on top of that I feel guilty and conflicted now that I am having nothing to do with any of them. I guess I am hoping you can encourage me or give me a word of wisdom? [details omitted about leisure time activities]

Response #18:

Discernment is a key characteristic of the mature believer, for we all have to make our decisions about applying the truth of the Word of God to actual circumstances here in the world. One thing I have noticed in my own life and in observing others is that it is far easier to make a good decision in the first place than it is to stick with it down the road. We are all prone to second guessing, and in some respects that is not a terrible thing because it is always possible that we made a mistake in the first place. However, if with due consideration, in the power of the Spirit, with prayer and careful consideration, we make a decision of which we are sure, it is generally a mistake to change it for frivolous reasons later on. Not that we can't entertain questions our consciences (or friends, etc.) may level against it. But there ought to be substantive and serious indications that we were wrong before we change course. We've all had occasion to do so, I believe, but we've all also been tempted to go back on good decisions for insufficient reasons. If we are feeling guilt but without the conviction of the Spirit that we really were wrong, that is a good indication that going back is a bad idea. It's very easy for the world and its current ruler, aided by our fleshly weaknesses, to make us feel guilty about doing almost anything, and especially if our decision has had an impact on others (as they often do). But if we are determined to go forward with the truth, and if our decision was motivated by that desire, freeing us from entanglements that were making progress difficult or impossible, then, as long as we did not abandon legitimate responsibilities, we should stay the course.

As to leisure time activities, as long as they are not inherently sinful, there is, in my opinion, no great harm in them. The bigger issue, depending on the activity, is whether or not it/they exercise undue influence on us. If they do not, and if we can put them aside easily enough without having them dominant our lives and take necessary time and energy away from needful things, then I would thank the Lord for having something that relaxes and refreshes without damage. Most of us need a break now and again. Clearly, we all want to be "red hot" for the Lord and for His truth and His Church, but if we are not wired to be the apostle Paul, we may be able to work in that direction, but strapping on all work and no play to too great a degree will generally result in meltdown and more wasted time in the end.

Wishing you a blessed 2019!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Robert,

Its been over a month since my wife went to be with the Lord Jesus . I have been thinking a lot about My commitment about how much do I love the Lord, was listening to Curt’s lesson on how much are you committed to following Him with everything and everyone putting him first counting the cost before making a decision to be His disciple. When I came to believe in the Lord I was I thought one big sinning mess cry out to God to show me the truth and he has been Faithful. I believed He saved me from my sin. Coming from a catholic back ground and not even looking for God for 20 or so years. The Lord knew I was sorry and turn to Him for answers. Went to every type of denomination church except RC. Never stayed very long in any of them . I found your web sight and have been reading it and now listening to Curt’s lessons .

All this time I thought I was fully committed but now not so sure may have put my wife and money ahead of the Lord . Having my own little business. Just went about working and then on Saturday and Sundays reading and believing what I read but not actually doing much, wife was sick with depression and back , then kidneys about 7-8 years she would ask the Lord with tears to please take her home. I ask her to not say that prayer that He would answer it. I know I love the Lord Jesus but how much.

Just wondering? Is my commitment wavering did I commitment enough? What to do now.

Thank you for all your lessons and teaching ,and prayers for my wife.

In Jesus our Lord and savior

Response #19:

First let me say that in my opinion you are handling this very difficult burden in a courageous way. You are giving a great witness for Jesus Christ as your faith shines through in spite of your deep grief. When I consider how many have allowed such a loss to turn them away from the Lord a little or a lot, I'm always impressed by the strength of faith of those who are able to put the spiritual realities ahead of everything they are feeling. Good for you!

Second, Paul tells us that he labored harder than all of the other apostles (1Cor.15:10), so we see that even within the ranks of the most elite believers who've ever lived there were differences. That is the whole point of our judgment of reward before the "bema" of Jesus Christ in resurrection. We want to get a good report and earn the three crowns, and there will uncounted variations in what we receive – and there will be an ordering, first to last. What we ALL have in common is being saved. If we have done the best of the best, we are saved. If we are the ultimate prize of grace, the one in the whole Church with the least reward, we are saved. Faith in Jesus Christ is what saves us by grace, and so it is to that faith that we must hold fast unto the end (e.g., 1Jn.5:4-5; Rev.2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21; 21:7).

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18 NKJV

Could you have done better in the past? That is true of every single one of us. It's only a matter of degrees. The fact that you enjoyed your time with your wife is no sin, and in being married you were responsible to be a loving husband to her, which you were. Moses is one of the greatest believers who have ever lived, but it took him 40 years in the wilderness – being married – before he was ready to serve the Lord. And later on, he did remarry.

Have you done a good job with your job? That is a responsibility we all share as well. We do our jobs "as unto the Lord", after all (Col.3:23).

No doubt we are all tested all the time as to our true priorities and the intensity of our love for the Lord. None of us can say we don't have room to grow here. But it is a dangerous fallacy to assume that unless we are giving it literally 100% we are doing no good at all. In the first place, that is absolutely not true. In the second place, the only One who ever truly gave it 100% was our dear Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone else falls short. It's just a question of how much. That is a day by day struggle. If we are fighting to do well and hopefully also to do better day by day, that is a good place to be. It is for these spiritual battles and for these spiritual victories that we are rewarded on that great day. Here and now, all we can do is to keep fighting the fight and NOT look back. There is no profit in making ourselves feel bad, especially if the result of feeling bad is not doing better NOW but forgetting about the now in agonizing over a past which cannot be changed. Wherever we are on the road to Zion and whenever it is, we should always orient forward and do our best to do what the Lord would have us do RIGHT NOW. That is the basis for reward, not hypothetical "perfect games" that in the spiritual realm have never existed.

Your wife was a spiritual hero, and I give thanks for her. She reminds me of my mom, a woman who lived far longer than she wanted to live. But she kept the faith all the way to the end. She didn't quit – and neither did your wife. That is a testimony for all of us. So what to do now? Keep in mind the great cloud of witnesses like these two women who are watching and cheering us on, and do our best to fight a good fight for the Lord day by day, making our commitment to spiritual growth more solid every day – for that is the basis of everything we might think, say or do to honor Him.

Wishing you comfort, blessing and spiritual victory in the new year to come.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas. We had a good one. My son came home from university for Christmas so we were all together as a family which was great. He's doing really well at uni, but I do love it when he comes home.

I've been reading The Satanic Rebellion - Satan's world system and the Satanic lies - I don't need God, I am like God, God needs me. I can see clearly how it all relates exactly to what is going on in the world and to the state the churches are in today. How Christians are being so easily deceived with false teaching. To be honest Bob I'm still trying to take in how much worse it has got since I came back to the Lord. I remember as a teenager our Pastor warning us not to have anything to do with horoscopes or meditation. It's changed so much since then because now it's all the rage. Through contemplative prayer they've all gone meditation mad!

I'm really thankful to the Lord that I can see the errors as clear as anything but sometimes I feel so frustrated that my friend can't see it. I'm fine as far as being patient and I remember how you said that people need to be ready and open to the truth (that's even if they want the truth), but I'm not sure how to deal with the frustration.

Thanks always for your prayers Bob.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #20:

Happy new year!

I'm happy to hear you had your son home for Christmas. That's a wonderful thing. One of my correspondents (in Australia) informed me recently that he had completely lost touch with his son, not even sure what country he is presently residing in. So even if we'd like our loved ones to be more enthusiastic about the truth, it could be worse.

Yes, you are so right about the acceleration of the decline. It's easy to miss, given that we are living it, just how precipitously we are falling, for the trends and the times tend to anesthetize us to it. I think that is perhaps doubly true for believers who are focusing on the truth as the world begins to mean less and less to us. But in light of the closeness of the end, it's good to see this with clear eyes and focus in once in a while.

I am keeping your friend in my prayers. I do hope that the turn around will come soon. As mentioned, when it comes to really bad involvement (as with a cult or something similar), the period of initial glee often turns sour until the whole experience bites like a snake. She is lucky to have a good friend like yourself to help her pick up the pieces in the right way once that happens.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

I really feel for your correspondent in Australia (other side of the world to me!). It must be really hard for him. It doesn't matter how old your kids are you still love them to bits just the same and you never stop hoping and praying that they're ok. I'll say a prayer for him and his son.

When I started to look into contemplative prayer I could see it's connections to the New Age movement (which the Lord delivered me from) and Eastern Mysticism. New Age teaches that we are all one because God is in everyone and everything. They teach what they call christ-consciousness. This is where you reach a point in meditation where you realise your own divinity and oneness with God, and so becoming a "christ" or an enlightened being. So the Satanic lie I am like God or even I am God. I remember them teaching that God also speaks to you through your imagination and your feelings. Some people who have come out of this and are now Christians wonder about Matthew 24:4-5 - Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, "I am the Christ" and will deceive many. They wonder if it could possibly include people in the New Age movement who think they are "Christ". I'm not sure about this and I haven't seen anything like this in your teaching Bob. I'd always check it out with you anyway.

Then when I looked into contemplative prayer they say this puts you in a better state to be aware of God's presence and makes you better able to hear God's voice. I'm pretty sure this is all my friend thinks she's doing. But when you look further into it, they also believe that through meditation you can find your true self which is God. This is for ALL human beings not just born-again believers. So there's the same Satanic lie again Bob. I read somewhere that the final outcome of contemplative prayer is a slippery slope that leads to interspirituality.

They say that meditation is THE most important way to get in contact with and hear what they call your "spirit guide". Emptying your mind to see what the spirit has to say to you. I don't think many people realise this especially Christians who are using contemplative prayer. They think they are hearing God's voice. Any other images or sensations they see and feel they think must be God. For psychic development they also use mantras and visualization techniques - they use the same techniques in contemplative prayer etc. Out of curiosity I listened to one church's teaching on contemplative prayer and it sounded just the same as the books I used to read. This is a church my friend has visited a few times.

Mystical practices are even being taught in Christian seminaries and medicine and business etc. People are being taught they have physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

So there's lots going on - mysticism, ecumenism, even peace plans (Rick Warren) and more. I read in your teaching Bob about when someone is just seeking glory for themselves and trying to make the world "a better place". Trying to improve a world that God has long ago marked for complete destruction - that's when I thought about the peace plans I'd read about. The lie that God needs me.

I didn't mean to give you a lesson on meditation but after reading The Satanic Rebellion (not quite finished yet) it was all so clear to me. It brought together everything that I had already been reading about. I could never quite get in to meditation which is a good thing. I tried it a couple of times and I just found it a bit boring. I might as well have just gone and had a good kip! When I came back to the Lord I was so relieved that we have the Bible. That I wasn't fumbling around in the dark anymore trying to work out what God's will was for me or what He was saying to me. I loved it - all the confusion was gone.

So hopefully Bob as you say the novelty will eventually wear off for my friend. The trouble is she's playing with fire and if it goes on too long she'll get hurt. Like I say I've always felt a responsibility to be there for her - to help maybe to "snatch her out of the fire" when and if the time is right. If I can help others and glorify the Lord then ... well that's what I'm here for isn't it Bob. I've read enough now to be able to help her. I'll just keep following the Lord and we'll see.

I'm not looking forward to the terrible times ahead. The thought that one third of genuine Christians will apostatize is really frightening. All I want to do is draw closer and closer to the Lord and I pray that He will help me to keep growing spiritually. Your teaching brings it all together and makes it all clearer for me so thank you Bob.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #21:

Thanks for this. I really appreciate it.

From what you report, "contemplative prayer" is mislabeled. It should be called "how to get in touch with demons". This is dangerous stuff anyone with a lick of secular common sense ought to stay far away from, how much more Christians who claim to be serving and following Jesus Christ!

I'm not sure about this having a direct application to Matthew 24:4-5. But if a person thinks THEY are Christ, they are certainly going to be easy pickings for the devil.

No, I'm not looking forward to the Tribulation either. But I do know that as those who belong to Jesus Christ, we have absolutely nothing to worry about. The plan is perfect on the one hand, and the worst the world can do to us is to kill us – sending us directly into the presence of the Lord we love with a special "well done!" for martyrdom. We will be inconvenienced and made uncomfortable (to borrow a bit of your British understatement) – and I for one find both things annoying. So the Tribulation will be annoying . . . and then some. But if our Lord has a mission for us therein, it's our job to keep fighting the fight.

It certainly does seem that things cannot keeping going along the crazy path this world is on for too much longer, and that seems true regardless of the locality or the aspect of society we're talking about.

Thanks for your prayer for my friend and for all your prayers and good words, my friend. Keeping you and yours in mine day by day as well.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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