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Fighting the Fight XIII

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Question #1:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I hope everything is going well with you! How have you been?

I am still taking notes on your link to the information about the conscience in your Hamartiology Study. I have been taking detailed notes on that entire study and was not too far off from the section on the conscience…so I took a few weeks to catch up to it and am now working my way through that section. Once I have completed those notes and plug in the information form your last email to me I may have additional questions.

The one follow up question I have is about how the Israelites looked at the heart/mind. Did they differentiate between “thinking” and “feeling” or was it just one process for them? Is heart/emotions vs. mind/reasoning split more of a Western way of looking at our psyches? I took a class a few years ago about the political environment/situation during Christ’s earthly ministry. The teacher began by listing differences between the Hebrew culture and the Greek/Roman culture. It was a stark contrast – not only the monotheism vs. the paganism, but how each culture approached problem solving and each culture’s world-view in general.

I also have a question about the Hebrew in Proverbs 5:6. Most of the translations have it as “She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it…” (NIV) but the KJV and Unger translate it as “Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them…” Should the verbs “ponder/palas” and “know/yada” be read as being in the masculine 2nd person singular or the 3rd person plural, as in “all women like her?”

I hope you and your family are doing well. Please let me know if you need me to say any additional prayers for you or our loved ones! I am always keeping you and Curt’s ministries, health and livelihood in my prayers.

In Christ’s Love,

Response #1:

Always great to hear from you, my friend. How was your 4th? Mostly a working long weekend up here, but the after effects of the great elm fall are now mostly taken care of.

As to your questions:

1) You probably recall that I make the point from time to time about the differences between Hebrew culture and even the Greek way of looking at things. It's not something we want to overdo, however. We have the Old Testament, and words mean what they mean. To that point, we also want to avoid what I call the tyranny of categories. It's a trap in theology to create a category, any sort of category, and let the categorization then drive interpretation and analysis. Categorization is only potentially helpful in explaining what we are trying to understand. But since we are the ones who create and delimit and define the categories, rather than having probative force on their own, in fact they are always going to be a bit misleading. So while they can be static teaching devices (used with caution), they can never be analytical tools. Sometimes the Bible itself defines categories, but even here we have to be doubly careful that we are understanding the biblical divisions correctly and not allowing our misunderstanding or, even more dangerously, our expansion and twisting of biblical categories to lead us astray (classical "dispensations" as opposed to what the Bible actually says is a good example of the latter).

To the point, the words emotion/emotions don't actually occur in scripture. Also, it's not as if we can actually completely distinguish between emotions and thoughts in our own hearts. We have probably never had a thought completely devoid of emotional content or context, and we have probably never been so emotional that there was no thought process going on whatsoever. It's useful to talk about emotions simply because that is a concept we can't escape in this culture, and a good number of biblical terms and concepts relate directly to what we call emotions (anger, jealousy, joy, love), even though it's wrong to think of any of these apart from choice and thought (I think modern "psychology" is responsible for giving people a confused picture of all these sorts of things).

Everything that goes on in our hearts is interrelated, and none of it is devoid of sin nature influence (or at least attempted influence) – and nothing that goes on inside us ought to be devoid of Holy Spirit influence (though we are all very good an tuning out His still, small voice when we'd rather not hear it – which is all too often).

Regardless of culture, human beings have always been the same. We may express what we are doing internally differently, and we may act in culturally unique ways, but we are all doing the same thing, namely, we are processing the world and our interaction with it through our bodies and spirits in a united heart, AND we are making free-will choices as a result – what to feel, what to think, what to say, what to do. That was no different for Adam and Eve, or for David and Bathsheba, nor will it be different for the last generation of the Millennium.

2) On Proverbs 5:6, in Biblical Hebrew, there is no difference in the imperfect between 2/s masculine and 3/s feminine. So both of these verbs here, "ponder" and "know" could mean either "she does not" or "you do not", since the addressee is "my son". Some translations go Fem./Fem., some Masc./Fem., but the other two permutations are also possible (i.e., Fem./Masc. and Masc./Fem.). Even though all permutations yield a workable sense, I would prefer Fem./Fem., simply because in the previous verses it's all about "her", and translate something like: ". . . lest she give thought to the path of life, her paths wander [from the truth], and she does not [even] recognize it".

Thanks for your prayers!

Keeping you in mine every day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello--I wonder if you could help me with the Greek in Colossians 3:9-10, especially the "renewed in the knowledge after the image of its Creator. I know that when the Bible says we were created in God's image, it means we were made holy as He is holy, and also possess some of His attributes, like the ability to love, active will, etc. But does this verse mean we are being renewed in the image God created us in--holiness--or in the knowledge that God is holy? Or both? it would seem to me to be the first one, because in vs. 9, Paul talks about taking off the old self and putting on the new self, which would be the new creation. But anyway, the sentence sounds a bit awkward to me--"renewed in the knowledge after/in the image of its Creator.

Thanks for your help. No hurry though if you are busy.

Response #2:

It's all a question of what "after" means and is to be applied to; it's actually the Greek preposition eis being used more for purpose than mere reference. This is a spiritual growth verse, so this "according to the image" is the model which we in our newness (as born again, born from above believers) are to aspire to:

(9) Stop lying to each other, having put aside your "former person" (10) and having put on the "new" one which is being renewed for the purpose [of attaining] (Gk. eis) a full and obedient knowledge [of the truth] (epignosis), [so as to model yourselves] in the image [model] of the One who created it.
Colossians 3:9-10

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

Thanks so much for the invitation! I've never been on an "online forum" before but it's with my brothers and sisters in Christ and so that would be great. You never know I might really get into it! I'm not sure how much time I would have to go on, but maybe that doesn't matter - just drop in whenever I can. So go for it, Bob - I'll give it a whirl!

I've never been on Facebook either, I'm not really much of a fan of it and a lot of people can't believe I've never been on it. Maybe I'm a bit boring! I never quite understand why people feel the need to take a photo of what they've got for dinner and send it to everyone to have a look at. Or perhaps they're all genuinely interested. I'd rather just get on with it and eat it!

I got my proofreading book and it's very useful. There are some abbreviations that you use and I wasn't sure what some of them meant. I've found out the meanings from the book or what they are used for. Things like - cf. meaning 'compare', from the Latin confer. Another one (sic) Latin for 'so' or 'thus' - I always used to think 'sick!' and the one you mentioned to me - et al. meaning 'and others'. For a little book there's lots of useful information. If nothing else it might improve my own punctuation etc. in my writing - I definitely need it.

I've been told that I'm not very "technologically gifted" but I am getting better. I remember a story about a man having a problem trying to work something out on his computer at home. So the fellas in work were trying to explain to him how to do it. They were telling him he had to "right click". He kept coming into work telling them that he'd done what they had said but that it still wasn't working. In the end they found out what he was doing wrong. Instead of "right clicking" on the mouse, he was typing or writing the word "click". Write "click!" So funny - and I thought I was bad!

Hope you're still managing to keep your head above water and you're coping with the extra meetings and there's not too much unpleasant socializing. I'm praying for you as always.

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #3:

Me neither! The forum is also new, so I would imagine that it'll become whatever the users decide to make of it. Getting to know some other Ichthys readers might be nice. Our friend is in the last semester of an engineering B.S., so it might take him a couple of days to get to this, but I did ask him to sign you up.

I do have a Facebook page but I only ever go on there to use honor society page for my Classics group at work (announcing parties and such – a good way to keep up with alums who are long gone off of campus).

Yes, it is amazing to me how much of this new generation's identity seems to be tied up in their online "persona". I blanch to think that all the stuff I said and did as a teenager might be documented online forever! Come to think of it, I still don't much care to have others know what I had for supper.

Glad to hear your book has been a help. There are a slew of those old Latin abbreviations. But while I personally love them and use a few of them, English comp teachers root them out of student papers like ragweed. Of course they also tell students that the passive voice must not be used (like that) – which is nuts.

As to computer program literacy, I learned a long time ago that 1) it's very foolish to put any stock in this sort of thing because – to keep the dollars flowing in – software companies are always changing things so that what you thought you knew yesterday doesn't work tomorrow; and 2) all you have to do is Google anything you want to know and the answer will come up because forty million other people also couldn't find it on those oh-so-helpful drop-down menus.

Thanks for your prayers, my friend – keeping you and your family in mine as well.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

I'm feeling better today, Bob and I know why I've been feeling as though I'm being hit and it's my own fault!

When I was writing to you about __, I allowed myself to get angry about it and that was just a way of allowing a place for the devil to get in and that's why I've been suffering.

I think by me allowing myself to get angry about it last week and get defensive about it was just playing into the devil's hands. I shouldn't be getting angry about what other people think or say or do. What IS important is what I am thinking and saying and doing and whether it's pleasing to the Lord or not. What I need to remember is that, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places". The devil will use anything or anyone he can to get to us if we allow it and I did allow it and I suffered for it. Righteous anger is one thing but anger leading to sin is not pleasing to the Lord, not where He wants me to be and is only damaging to my relationship with Him and I never ever want that to happen.

I know that I have a heavenly Father who doesn't love me for what career or qualifications I have. He is my perfect Father and He has always loved me with a pure love that no human could ever have for me. I'm here to please Him and no one else.

So it's a good lesson learnt. Don't open up any place for the devil whatsoever to allow him to stir things up inside and keep stirring and stirring. And don't try to rely on my own strength to do this but, "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil". His word is powerful and His word is truth and I need to be more alert and to do better for the Lord.

But I got a "grip quick" and the Lord always forgives my sin when I confess it to Him and I'm not beating myself up but I'm doing what He wants me to do and I'm continuing to move forward with the Lord.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:8-9)

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #4:

I'm very happy to hear that you have "rolled with this punch", my friend! You are absolutely correct in your analysis:

So do not give the devil an opening (lit. "place" to attack).
Ephesians 4:27

Put on the full armor of God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the tricks of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11

Therefore subordinate yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

Stay sober and wide awake. Your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
1st Peter 5:8

I'm sure the dislocation at home hasn't helped. In my experience, whenever we have a "burr in the saddle" or a "rock in the shoe" (as one of my seminary professors used to say), this unpleasantness tends to color everything else. It's a very human tendency we all have to look out for.

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
Jonah 4:9 NKJV

We are all interlopers in the devil's realm. It's no wonder we get hit with flak. But we all need to do just what you have done, namely, not let it get to us long-term, fight it off, regain the godly outlook, and keep pressing forward, flak and all.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

I hope you got through today OK with feeling so tired and I'm so sorry to hear that you have a "harassment package" too, and especially the affect it's having on your lungs. Never mind, the plumber is hoping to be all done and "dusted" by the end of the week. - hooray!

You're so right about the "burr in the saddle" and I love the verse from Jonah - it made me smile when I read it and how irritated and grumpy we can get with any inconvenience. The other verses you gave me were ones I had been looking at too. The one the Lord has really been impressing on me for a while is 1 Peter 5:8. I really need to take more care to "stay sober and wide awake".

There are SO many things that I've either listened to or read about other Christians experiences or how they feel and I can't believe how many times I've thought that's exactly what I've been through or how I've felt.

When the Lord delivered me out of the new age/occult stuff the battle straight after was terrible. It's like the devil knew he had lost me and was putting absolute fear and lies into me. There's one email on Ichthys that I read which described this battle exactly. The total fear and numbness of thinking you have committed the unpardonable sin. I couldn't believe how accurate this email was to my own experience. And there's another email where a person is struggling with horrible words coming into their mind when trying to pray or read their bible. This is exactly what happened to me too straight after coming back to the Lord. It was really upsetting and it just wouldn't go away no matter how much I wanted it to. I felt so guilty but the thing is it wasn't me. There's absolutely no way I would be using those kinds of words. When I was praying to our Father it would go away, but as soon as I looked to our Lord Jesus or read about Him in any way it would start straight away but even worse. I read your email response and you said to try and just ignore it. So I did this, and although it took some time, it worked. I said, "Lord you know this isn't me, please help me to resist this". Even though it kept coming for a while I ignored it, I knew the Lord knew it wasn't me and I carried on as best I could to pray. Eventually it stopped altogether.

I could go on and on, - there are so many. Even in this week's emails. Just things that others think and say are exactly the same as I have experienced. Like others thinking my faith in the Lord is just a crutch or a phase that will eventually pass. And the reality of what happens if you give the devil even the tiniest opportunity. You must have seen so much of this over the years in your ministry. People writing to you about the same experiences and fears.

I think this is what I was trying to explain to you about how suddenly everything seemed more "real" to me or a better word is probably more magnified. How we go through the same kinds of spiritual battles and how sometimes the things we experience are so specific. The Lord has given me a "wake up" call which is good for me and what I needed. We're in the fight every day and I can't afford to be sloppy about putting on all of the armour and praying at all times.

I'm keeping you in my prayers too.

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #5:

I'm happy to hear that the ordeal is coming to an end. I'm also very proud of you for the way you have weathered this storm. It's no sin or failure to be beset by flak. It's the way we handle it that matters in the end – and you handled it marvelously. Keep up the good spiritual progress for Jesus Christ!

Thanks also for your insight and witness about fighting for what I often call the "mental high ground". It's no easy matter to keep the Lord foremost in our thoughts in the ebb and flow of a difficult day. But the more we grow, the better we can do it – but the "doing it" is still very much a day by day and moment by moment struggle. It's very easy to "drift". I pray to drift to the Lord and not to other silliness when concentration does lapse (which of course it does all the time). This is a struggle we all have and will continue to have as long as we are on this temporary earth.

You are fighting a wonderful fight, my friend! Therein is great reward.

Keeping you and your family in my daily prayers,

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dr Luginbill,

I have been trying to work out a confusion I have in 1 Cor 7:20.

I wasn't originally thinking of marriage when I was looking at this. I was actually thinking of myself in the socioeconomic place I am at.

I have lived for a while not really living/having a life, but only reading and praying and have found that you have to live in the world, you can't just do what I did, it wont work. You have to live in the now, to have worldly desires and goals to even understand His precious promises to us and want them. Anyway, do you think Paul would say it is not good for us to try to raise my socioeconomic status?

I would suppose he means to keep us from making our whole lives about gaining wealth so that his point is the degree to which we spend time on that. Not that we shouldn't spend any time on it at all. And of course there are rare situations where you wouldn't spend any time on it.

Response #6:

In my observation and life experience, most people fail the "prosperity test". This is a common human thing, and believers are not exempt (cf. Deut.32:15ff.). We all probably think, "if only I had more money, didn't have to work so hard, had more time, then I'd do thus and so for the Lord". But all manner of problems, complications and unexpected loads and temptations go along with "more" however defined. It also doesn't matter. We are where we are. We do our jobs et al. as unto the Lord and He takes us where we ought to go. And wherever we are, we attempt to live a good life for Him, putting Him first. Or at least that is how it SHOULD be. But if we fixate on becoming rich, e.g., we'll only end up giving Him less. You cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time (Matt.6:24; cf. the passages in the link at BB 6A under "Job and Business").

Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked;
Psalm 37:16 NIV

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD,
Than great treasure with trouble.
Proverbs 15:16 NKJV

Keep running the good race, my friend! Five minutes of modest reward in the New Jerusalem will trump 100 years of being a billionaire here in this awful world.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I guess I also feel that I don't have any other way to earn rewards besides my little prayers here and there. So it I feel I might as well make myself a bit more comfortable/give myself something to focus on in the interim time.

Response #7:

It really is worth pursuing eternal rewards. Please don't get hung up on "what's my ministry?" to the extent that it compromises the things you know are good to do: spiritual growth through attention to the truth and a closer walk with the Lord daily by applying what you learn and believe. If "all" you did was pray, you would be making deposits in your heavenly account (so to speak). No good and righteous thing we do will fail to receive its reward (Matt.10:42). So we can put our efforts into making ourselves comfortable here and now and into enjoying ourselves here and now; or we can look forward to our future hope as our #1 "red hot" priority. It's a rarity to do so in Laodicea, but I have a feeling that this is the only course that makes for true happiness even here and now for people like you and me who love the Lord so much.

In Jesus who is our all in all,

Bob L.

Question #8:

I mean I have heard this sort of 'don't-indulge' before at the pulpit, but it can be thrown right back at the pulpit (so many pastors are so well off). Please don't take this wrong, I don't mean to be disrespectful.

But I agree with you that God is our priority. Though sometimes when I read it I feel hopeless about understanding it or knowing how to apply it. Either way, I do appreciate your responding and trying to help.

Hope all is well,

Response #8:

No worries, my friend.

People ask me questions; I give the best biblical answer I can.

I'm certainly not suggesting Christians shouldn't have things or do things or enjoy things other people do.

My point is about which way we are headed. We believers know that whatever we have or enjoy or do in this world, it's all dust and rust and lust and means nothing in the end . . . unless it has to do with responding to Jesus Christ in a way that is pleasing to Him.

We have free will, and how we as Christians use our freedom – and our time and resources and energy – is what this life is all about. The more we are zealous for Him and for the truth, the more we are likely to be rewarded. And isn't that what we all really want most of all, a "well done!" from the One we love more than life when He evaluates our lives?

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

Keeping you in my prayers every day.

In Jesus Christ whose appearance we dearly desire.

Bob L.

Question #9:

I found this interesting but idk what to think please help:

Solving the Paradox: Numerous attempts have been made to reconcile "not by faith alone" with our salvation by faith alone. A favorite of evangelicals is to say, "We are saved by faith alone but not by faith that is alone." That's a way of saying that faith alone saves us, but faith will produce works. It's an interesting attempt to reconcile these passages, but it really doesn't do them full service. If we are going to explain "not by faith alone," we ought to explain them the way Paul and James would have, and I believe Paul explains himself plenty well enough to do that. Paul was a careful theologian, and Romans is a careful explanation of his theology. All the answers we need are right in his letter. Paul spoke of salvation in the past tense and salvation in the future tense, each with different requirements. Two Salvations Paul's past-tense and future-tense salvation may not leap out at you at first glance, but once it's been said to you, you'll see it everywhere. It's most apparent in Romans 5:9-10. Much more then, having been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Do you notice that each past-tense reference relates to the death of Christ, and each future-tense reference relates to the life of Christ in us? In the past tense, Paul always speaks of the death and blood of Christ, which saved us and forgave us of our sins. In the future tense, he always refers to the life of Christ working in us—by the Spirit and by grace—and he always refers to works. It's not just James who includes works. Paul only excludes works when he refers to salvation in the past tense. A great example is Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Here Paul refers to salvation in the past tense. In fact, the literal Greek would read, "for by grace are you having been saved through faith." Salvation in the Future Tense When Paul refers to salvation in the future tense, the story is much different. Here, verses like Ephesians 5:5 provide excellent examples:
For this you know: that no fornicator, unclean person, or covetous man has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. While Ephesians 5:5 does not specifically use the word "works," it is clear that he is saying "not by faith alone." There are plenty of other verses, however, which do specifically use works (or a synonym).
2 Cor. 5:10: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad.
Rom. 2:6-7: [God] will repay every man according to his works. To those who seek after glory, honor, and immortality by patiently continuing to do good, [he will repay] eternal life.
Gal: 6:8-9: He that sows to the Spirit shall reap everlasting life from the Spirit. Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap [eternal life], if we do not faint.
We could go on, but those are good, clear verses. You will find Paul absolutely consistent in this respect. The Contradiction Resolved Thus we find that Paul completely agrees with James. Salvation is only by faith alone if we are speaking in the past tense of our forgiveness from sins, and our entrance into Christ. When we begin speaking in the future tense of judgment, eternal life, and entering the kingdom of heaven, there we find Paul agreeing with James. Future-tense salvation is not by faith alone.

not my work but idk how to take this

Response #9:

I find this very confusing . . . and confused.

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
John 6:29 NKJV

There is no paradox – if "works" is correctly understood. In the links I sent you, it is explained that, e.g., Abraham was "justified by works" through the "work" of trusting the Lord and obeying Him when everything within him wanted to do otherwise. Rahab was "justified by works" through doing something dangerous – hiding the spies – because she trusted that God was the Lord. In other words, these are not the "works" people imagine. They are the results of trusting the Lord. If we trust Him, have faith in Him, we will demonstrate that in what we think, say and do, and the more so the more we trust Him. That is the bedrock of spiritual growth, progress and production. So growth in the Word is the quintessential "work". This it is by faith alone, because faith is trusting God, not just intellectual understanding. In other words, we are saved by faith, and we grow safer by faith: it's all about faith.

Here's another good lesson. If you want to grow, at some point you are going to have to find a good source of the truth, a good teaching ministry, and get serious about learning from it. It doesn't have to be Ichthys (I also recommend Bible Academy, for example). But you will never ever get anywhere through what I call the Smorgasbord approach. Finding different and sundry things on the internet never works, not even if one or more of them happens to come from a legitimate and sound teaching ministry. Why not? Because you are not accepting the authority of any, giving attention to all. As a result, you are judge and jury of the truth. Only seasoned pastor-teachers who have the gift, have prepared, and have spent time-in-grade have a hope of feeding themselves, however. All a non-teacher can do is confuse him/herself. I point this out only out of a love for you as a brother in Christ (you are certainly free to access this ministry anonymously and at no cost).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Dr.,

Before finding Ichthys I was always told by those in the Church that to be tired of my place in this world from time to time was wrong headed. However, I always defaulted to the Apostle Paul (2 Cor.1:8); the Christians I know still don’t get it, but you do, and I think you express it very well in this teaching (link). I’ve never felt like I really fit in with this world, even before becoming a Christian, and even more since. But as you say in this teaching those of us who experience this are in “pretty good company”.

Getting ready for the Holiday here. I’m taking the week after Thanksgiving off from work. I’m going to finish up a couple of things around the house and take a few days to rest and recharge the batteries.

Happy to hear that the Lord has brought you to the conclusion of your most recent difficulties. I’ve got you in prayer here daily. Here’s wishing you and your family a pleasant Holiday.

All the best,


Response #10:

The world is a rotten place, a very hostile place – towards believers (link). And no wonder considering who runs it. It's all rotting in place, in fact; nothing lasts, and we certainly don't – except spiritually. So it's always amazed me how so many can be so friendly with the world.

I think seeing it for what it is is part of the "eternity in the heart" (Eccl.3:11). Most of the world learns to blot that truth out (hardness of the heart); but walking closer to Jesus makes all of these realities all the more vivid. We learn to actually love the fact that it's all going to be destroyed – because we have a much better hope.

Thanks again for your help; keeping you and yours in my prayers daily.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

You know when I first read what you said about prosperity being the hardest test, I sort of scoffed. Having the hard life for so long it seemed like a cheap thing someone would say to justify themselves having so much, right up there with 'you don't know how hard it is to be beautiful' and the rest. BUT THEN I got away from those harsh circumstance (or rather the Lord brought me out) and have what I would consider a bit of prosperity. Now I buy and indulge all the time, and am looking at myself now wondering where my willpower went. It seems you were correct. There are so many things I can indulge in that I will find myself having gone so long without reading the Bible and ICHTHYS. And the argument that I am just not used to it only works for so long. It is a lot harder than I think, and it must be even worse for the average person who has even more, hard as that sounds and is to believe (prosperity being a hard test).

Anyway, I bought a bunch of Christmas decorations! I should stop spending money for a while and focus on God, it is just so tempting.

Plus there is Amazon! You can find almost anything!

Response #11:

It's certainly true that the opportunities for entertainment and for swift gratification of desires through instant shopping are potential temptations for us all to go "overboard" from time to time. Most of us could probably use a bit more restraint on those things, but I also would caution against going overboard and considering, e.g., sitting alone in the dark or eating bread and water by candlelight when it's not necessary to do so as some sort of spiritual superiority.

I remember once in seminary one of the men was agonizing about whether spending money on flowers for his wife was a waste since there were "better uses" for such resources. I remember thinking at the time, "Gee, I'd hate to be that guy's wife!" Today I would explain to Him that God is not a miser and that God's resources are infinite, and that He is the one "who gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1Tim.6:17 NKJV). While of course being wasteful when we can't afford to be is wrong, and while of course focusing on material things when the spiritual ones are so much more important is wrong, buying a new cell-phone cover from Amazon or a new pair of jogging shoes is not a sin, in my opinion – as long as nothing untoward is going on in a person's heart when doing so.

What I mean by "prosperity test" is not to be enjoying prosperity too much if it is given or failing to make absolutely total use of those new resources the Lord gives us for Him, but rather the tendency of the rich to forget about the Lord altogether and to forget about spiritual growth, progress and production if ever a person comes to "have it good". That is what happened to Israel on more than one occasion, just as Moses prophesied:

"Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior."
Deuteronomy 32:15 NIV

So enjoy your Christmas! And don't forget to remember the Lord at all times as the One who has given you these good things.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello Robert,

I have been reading much of your information on your website. To the point of making books out of it so I can read it easier. I have felt a real urge to grow in my faith since reading your work. Your interpretation on the seven letters and how they represent seven church eras is intriguing. I have prayed & asked God to help me discern the truth of the matter. I think if your right there has to be a real change in mine and in the people that live around me bc I feel if it is true, it’s serious at how close it is. It has made me second guess how “lukewarm” my faith has been. My family has seen a difference in me and I want to make sure I’m following Gods path. Recently ie tonight I decided to seek answers from highly decorated reformed theologians. From Ligonier Ministers started by RC Sproul & I didn’t get the answer I was hoping for. They don’t agree with your interpretation. My conscience says they are wrong but I’m a nobody who was reborn 5 yrs ago. Like I said I've prayed that the truth would be revealed to me. My question: What proof do you have that this is the correct interpretation pertaining to the seven letters? Whatever comes from this know that I hold you very high esteem. We have been reading a lot of your work. Right now we’re on peripateology. It’s been a real treat! Truly, God bless you and your work and everything you do, in Christ.

Response #12:

Good to hear back from you, my friend.

As to your question, I suppose I could direct you to my C.V. (link). One of the reasons I spent all that time, effort and sweat earning all those degrees was to give folks like you some confidence that I had done due diligence in extensive academic and seminary preparation. But of course, academics aren't everything, especially when the subject is spiritual.

The Lord Himself gives us the answer to this very reasonable question you ask here:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
Matthew 7:15-20 NIV

It's a very simple test: the fruit test (see the link for the details). Any child can easily tell the difference between a good apple tree and a rotten one. Just pick an apple and sample. Good apple trees bear good apples; bad apple trees bear bad ones. If one is not enough to be sure, try two or three. It won't take very long in the case of the latter to realize that a mistake has been made – since the spiritual indigestion will be severe. In the case of a good tree, however, the spiritual satisfaction in finding good fruit is always a cause for rejoicing – especially in our Laodicean era when they are so very rare.

I'm not saying that Ichthys is the "only good tree". I also highly recommend Bible Academy (see the link). And I'm also not saying that even from a good tree you might not get an apple with a worm in it once in a while. Or that there might not be times when an apple looks suspect to you (even if you're wrong about it). But if a believer after due diligence in testing determines that a tree is good and beneficial for spiritual growth, that is to be prized.

Any believer who is seeking the truth and genuinely and diligently doing so will be led to it by the Lord (Matt.7:7-11; Lk.11:9-13). And the Holy Spirit who dwells within you will help you to evaluate correctly and also to have confidence that your trust is not being misplaced – in the case of a truly good tree.

So I encourage you to keep plucking and sampling. But I should also point out that once a believer does indeed find a good source of the truth, it's very important to begin putting doubts aside as far as that is possible (and where there is this or that interpretation which seems "off", not to let that affect the appreciation of the whole but to set it aside for later). That is because only what a Christian believes – and is actually true as well – can help him or her grow. If something is true but the believer won't let it into his/her heart, then it doesn't do him/her any good at all.

The Church of Jesus Christ is a Body and we all have our job to do within it. Those who do not have the gift of pastor-teacher (or even if they do who are not prepared by years of effort to use it effectively) are not able to feed themselves to the point of spiritual maturity and beyond. That does require accessing a good Bible teaching ministry. Ichthys is not for everyone (for a variety of reasons), and there are a handful of decent teaching ministries out there (as I say, I also recommend Bible Academy), but it is the case that no believer can hop from one to another, constantly entertaining numerous conflicting doctrinal teachings – without therefore being able to truly believe any – and get anywhere spiritually.

So find the best "tree" you can, and give it the benefit of the doubt as long as the fruit coming in continues to pass the test. That is the way to grow up, progress in our walk with Jesus Christ, and be empowered to use our own spiritual gifts in the ministries we are assigned . . . as we all should be doing. Therein is great eternal reward (see the link).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dear Bob:

What do you think of this charge?


It seems to be a common theme I noticed among ex-christians who when actually reading the bible for themselves actually became atheist and come away with God as this person described in this article.

Response #13:

Of course, if a person (angelic or human) is determined not to obey the perfect and perfectly just God, then he/she will need to fabricate a rationale. That always involves claiming that God is unfair in some way. Of course, in fact God is perfect and perfectly just and righteous. Being who He is, He could never even possibly be otherwise. The great proof of this is the Gift of Jesus Christ. In order for sinful creatures who are by virtue of our birth unrighteous to be made righteous so as not to be condemned, He condemned His own dear Son in our place. That is the only way that God the Father could be merciful and forgiving towards us, satisfying His perfect holiness and righteousness by making Him sin for us (2Cor.5:21).

The last half of SR 4 (at the link) is all about these sorts of issues.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Bob:

Do you believe that at the last judgment that God will actually go to the lengths to refute all those false charges against him? And prove his absolute justice? As how in the court of law how and why he is absolutely just and why they are wrong.

I mean he could just say. I am right because I am right. But I imagine explaining how and why his actions were absolutely justified would be far more satisfactory.

Unbelievers have of course already said all those things about how God is somehow wicked or tyrannical or abusive.

Response #14:

Revelation 20:12-13 states that unbelievers will be judged, and that "according to their deeds/works/things they have done" (cf. Jude 1:15). If we expect a full hearing of the evidence in a human trial, how much more so when God the Son is the judge and the judgment is about eternal damnation for just cause. This is going to take a LONG time – but at that point there will be no more time. All questions will be answered then.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:


First, I must say that this site has made me richer indeed. I know very little about my faith other than I love Him and want to know so much more. I am becoming richer the deeper I go into your website. Thank you in Jesus name for the honor and glory you bestow upon Him.

I am in your study of Soteriology and I read and have understood that in the absence of time, men made a decision as to whether or not we would humble ourselves and submit to the Lord as Saviour and then we were created by an omniscient God who, despite knowing our answers, created us anyway. Do I have that right? If not, my real question isn’t relative.

In the Section titled: 1. Free-will faith and the Will of God, the first sentence states: “As explained above, history has been decreed by God as the time and place where we, His moral creatures, have been given the opportunity to adjust our will to His through the exercise of our faith in His chosen object of faith, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

That sounds like we can change our mind as we walk through our time on earth. If that’s the case, are we supposing that free-will means that our decision might ‘surprise’ God? Or, is it stating that as one who chose yes, am I to use this life to line my will up with His? Can’t seem to get to a reasonable conclusion but I am lost as to how to explain all that – first to myself and then maybe to others.

Can you help?


Response #15:

Good to make your acquaintance – and thanks so much for your encouraging words here.

As to your question, first, no, we do not make decisions before time existed; we are not even created at all until God breathes the human spirit into us at the point of birth. It is from thereon – until we leave this world – that we exercise our free will.

God can't be surprised. In the first place, He is God. And while it is true that the God of many people's imaginations is not very big, in truth He is "bigger" than we could ever imagine in a thousand years of imagining. We cannot comprehend the barest outline of Him.

Secondly, there is only ONE plan of God – and it is perfect. Since it is perfect, it could not be changed in its smallest particular and still be the plan of God. There are no hypotheticals. There is only this one plan – praise be to God! For in it we who have chosen to accept the gift of Jesus Christ have been perfectly and wonderfully provided for in every way – with salvation through the sacrifice of our dear Savior.

We do "change our minds" all the time. All have been called to repentance, after all, and that means a change of mind from choosing for the world to choosing for God the Father in Jesus Christ His Son instead.

God was and is "smart enough" and "big enough" not only to have anticipated absolutely everything, but to have "programmed" it all (for want of a better word) into the plan that is presently playing out. This does not in any way take away our free will or compromise it. Indeed, we could only be created and could only exist within such a plan and within such a creation, and as a result we can only have and exercise free will here and now in the way that God has set things up for us to do so.

We can't hold against Him that He could not be surprised about what we were going to choose. And indeed, foreknowledge was essential – because Christ had to die for every single sin – the ones after the cross as well as the ones before it (Rom.3:25-26).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Bob: Thank you for the quick reply. I’ve been frustrated in the past trying to get some answers only to see my questions disappear into a black hole.

I’m seeking a Spiritual Advisor and appreciate that you’re willing to talk but I promise to endeavor to limit my most pressing quandaries in reaching out to you. I truly appreciate that God has gifted you with your heart’s desire.

I could ignore this and just accept that I have been saved by grace through faith but it causes me a problem when I think of the others He has put in my path. I yearn to speak of the incredible purposes of God and the magnificence of His plan of redeeming us – if only we would make the choice to choose Him.

This paragraph in your exhortation is causing me a bit of trouble.

“As mentioned above (and as we shall discuss in much greater detail in section I.2 below), creature history was decreed by God in every single detail before the world began – and yet history did have to be played out. For salvation to be a reality, Jesus Christ actually did have to become a human being, come into the world, live a perfect life, run the most horrific of gauntlets to get to the cross, then cover the sins of the world with His blood, His spiritual death on the cross during the three hours of darkness. In a complementary way, we actually do have to be born and live out our lives on this earth, and actually do have to make the choices upon which our eternal future (and, in the case of Christians, our eternal rewards) will be based, putting our faith in the One who died for us in order for our own salvation to be secured. All this was decreed ahead of time; but it still had to unfold in real time. Beyond all argument, if Jesus actually had to die for us to be saved, then we certainly do have to choose for Him in this life in order to be saved.”

That sounds to me like God created me and my fellow man knowing beforehand that we would choose Him or not. If that is the case, then He knew exactly at what point of my life I would surrender. (I’m an old man now and only surrendered 15 years ago – after having lived a life of debauchery). I understand I have free will but He knew I would use it to choose Him exactly when I did. Life choices just led me to making that decision.

Perhaps I can relate what you’re saying above to my own experience. I understand that in my own mind, I can ‘dream dreams’ or have a ‘vision’ but they are of zero value unless they become a reality. Is that what that paragraph’s about? I think it is human nature for all of us to think we’re kinda special and we’re kings in our world and it is only Christians who know that God created us as an expression of love and a desire for relationship. We weren’t ‘real’ to Him until we were created. And in creating us, He knew that we would never choose to come back unless He provided the way, the truth, the life. Did it have to enter a period of ‘time’ for all of it to become reality?

I’m sorry if my reasoning is still pathetic. Everyone avoids the conversation because there are no obvious answers but as you can ascertain here, I long to discover some of the deeper mystery of the One who’s ways are way higher than mine.

Forgive me. I’ve been rather naive. I’m in the process of reading everything you’ve written in this article (including the Scripture references) and maybe God will reveal the answers to me Himself. If I’m still dazed and confused, I’ll reach out to you again.

Thanks for all that you do. I am eager to carry on my study through your writings.

Stay blessed.

Response #16:

No worries, my friend! This is not the simplest of issues. Entire denominations have been built (and split) over it, usually getting it wrong on one side of the equation or the other (or sometimes both). Two common mistakes: 1) imagining that God's foreknowledge is determinative – it's not; our free will is absolutely genuine; 2) failing to understand that while we live in time and space, He is not subject to them (time and space are things God created after all); so that our ability to imagine / rationalize Him and what He has done outside of what scripture directly says is limited and potentially misleading.

God does the creating; we do the choosing. That is marvelous and wondrous on both counts. To give us the image of God, the great privilege to choose, Christ had to become a human being and bear the sins of all in His body on the cross, washing them away with His blood (His spiritual death).

So this is no small thing to God – not at all. Nothing could be more "real".

Thanks for your good words, my friend.

Do feel free to write back any time.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dear Bob:

I think its pretty human for people not to be able to comprehend or want to accept eternal punishment.

Now if prisoners were tortured for their entire lives on this earth(imagine the measured but horrible things done to them times infinity) so the logic goes that for God to torture the guilty for infinity is incomprehensible sadism.

Worse than the most evil dictators on earth. The natural revulsion to the idea is probably the underlying reason why people try to find reasons to reject this doctrine.

And even myself would like that torment however deserved it may be to go on for a finite time before non-existence. I in my human self wouldn't see the point of infinite torment because that if a human would do such a thing would be sadistic.

Even now I find this reality incomprehensible. Thoughts?

Response #17:

Perhaps for that very reason our Lord makes this issue so crystal clear in this way.

Anyone who is not non compos mentis understands that death awaits us all. And we all also recognize that we are not perfect – so that we naturally have a built in fear of the perfectly righteous and holy God (cf. Gen.3:8-10). And of course all of us have it wired into our hearts to understand and to see from the creation itself that there is such a holy, righteous God (Eccl.3:11; Rom.1:18-21; cf. Ps.19:1-6). So, to the contrary, I think the "problem" is that people comprehend all too well. And that comprehension is hard to take – for all those who refuse to accommodate to the justice of God. To make life livable in the face of impending judgment, unbelievers harden their hearts against this truth of certain judgment and condemnation on the other side of life (Rom.1:22-32), for all who have not made peace with Him before that time (cf. Matt.5:25-26) – through Jesus Christ.

God would be unfair not to provide very clear warnings from His Word of the truths which these three natural realities set deep in every human heart affirm. So He lets us know in no uncertain terms that it is folly to be comforting ourselves with the lies that after death we are "just going to cease to exist" or "God will forgive even those who spit in His face and reject Christ" or "hell won't be so bad". Not making it clear would be unfair. And God is absolutely fair.

Given that all human beings come to understand the problem of sinfulness leading to physical death leading to condemnation, and given that all who even look tangentially into the matter find the Bible very clear about the horror awaiting those who die without accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, what is really "incomprehensible" is that so very many still refuse to bow the knee to the Father and receive the Son. It costs nothing – for us (Jesus paid in full). It does require accepting His Will over our own through faith – the free-will image of God He has given us. And that is more than most human beings in the history of the world have been willing to do.

It has been said by some, "I'd rather rule in hell than serve in heaven", and that does capture the arrogance at the heart of the decision to reject Christ. But it would be better put, "I'd rather burn in hell than yield to God in any way". That is really the unbeliever's position, and it truly is "incomprehensible" – to me (and most believers). But that is where most people are, even if they seem nice enough in this world.

Lest we presumptuously think of any of this as unfair – when in fact nothing could be more fair – let us never forget that each and every one of these individuals tossed into the lake of fire will go there of his/her own free will and free will choice. Faced with the prospect of eternity worshiping the Father and the Son or condemnation apart from them they have freely chosen the latter – and would do so in a million life times. No one is going to hell "by accident" (God is perfect and perfectly just, and His plan is perfect and perfectly just).

And lest we think that God "doesn't care", let us never forget that the Father condemned the Son to suffer far worse – dying on the cross in the darkness of Calvary in those three timeless hours while the sins of the entire human race were poured out in His body, judged in His body, so that we might be saved.

God loves all and desires the salvation of all (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9). And God has sacrificed more than we could ever possibly imagine even at the margin in this world in order for all to be saved. But all are not saved – even though the price has been paid and He holds out His hands to receive them all. Now that really is "incomprehensible".

Yours in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the whole world – and especially of believers.

Bob L.

Question #18:

The inescapable conclusion is that for those 3 hours of darkness Jesus suffered infinite torment in the lake of fire.

And I do wish that those who insist on rejecting god cease to exist at some point after the alotted deserved punishment. Is it truly possible for body and soul to be completely destroyed?

Or is it the nature of justice or existence itself that make the former scenario impossible?

Response #18:

I think you've hit the nail on the head at the end here. Once God creates a spirit, it exists and will continue to exist forever. That is my understanding of things from the Bible. So for those with a moral choice to make, a "where will I spend eternity?" choice to make, there are only two options: with or without God. Most people (and the devil and his angels too) want blessing and eternal life . . . but without being subordinated to God. That is impossible. But most people (and the devil and his angels too) are not willing to subordinate their will to God even when the alternative is – to us believers – unthinkable.

In Jesus Christ through whose ineffable sacrifice alone we do have life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #19:

In 1 John 1 it states "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship (good reconciled relationships with fellow Christians) with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin" So a lack of good fellowship with another Christian and failing to walking the light is a sign that a person hasn't be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. So this raises the question how can it be said that this is just referring to the ideal? It is saying less than the ideal means is a fruit that a person hasn't been cleansed by the blood of the Lord. If a person not measuring up to this is cleansed isn't God lying?

Response #19:

There are about a dozen deductions you make here from 1st John 1:7 which don't necessarily follow logically in my opinion. In other words, this is a highly derivative interpretation with which I would not concur absent direct scriptural support.

Clearly, we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. But that doesn't mean it is always possible to have them love us back or be happy with us; and it surely doesn't mean that we have to twist ourselves into knots to try to get them to do so. Sometimes the best way to love problem believers is from a distance.

Question #20:

OK how can we have fellowship with them, if we don't try to resolve a problem with them, and if we don't how can we be sure the blood has cleansed us. You state that people don't need to measure up to the mark and that these verses are to remind us we are sinners not a set standard. If not a set standard why would it say fellowship (which involves at the very least trying to reconcile with a fellow believer and/or treat them well) is what is needed to be sure we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Notice it states at the beginning "If we...." the bare minimum. So if someone isn't seeking to maintain good fellowship with a fellow believer surely the implication is that a person can't claim or be sure the blood has wiped them clean. After all these verses are telling us what it means to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. It doesn't say "don't worry even if you haven't tried the blood will still cleanse you" So wouldn't God be lying if he set the standard for being cleansed by Jesus blood then did below that standard. It makes God out to be a liar and inconsistent. What are your thoughts

Response #20:

Don't remember writing /saying "that people don't need to measure up to the mark".

That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
1st John 1:3 NKJV

When John says "fellowship with us" it doesn't mean "between each other" but "fellowship with God just as we also have". After all, this verse is true, even though John is long deceased and we've never met him. Note, when expanded here we are told that this fellowship of ours is "with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ" – not with each other. You and I have never met, and we've never met 99.99 percent of Christians in the world today. But we all "have fellowship" . . . with God when we are walking in the truth. That is the "something" we all have in common.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

But doesn't fellowship with each other involve being in a reconciled relationship or at the very least a situation where no offence has been caused?

Response #21:

"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Luke 6:37 NKJV

If we all abide by the above, then there is no issue. There is only an issue if we neglect passages like this:

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV

Question #22:

Fellowship is a relationship with other Christians, so how can those relationships be whole without seeking to be truthful? If a Christian is offended by something a person has done and a person does apologise how is that as good a relationship as it could be, that isn't walking in the light is it? It isn't doing the best you can do.

Going back to something else I have asked about and didn't really get an answer on and I feel would help me, is referring back to Matthew 5:23-25. In it you say brother means fellow believer. OK, so if this is a fellow believer why does Jesus say to leave one's gift at the alter and to "go thy way" or "go away" to be about reconciling with that person. I'm sure a fellow believer wouldn't always be there offering a gift at the same time as the other believer, but why does Jesus specifically mention a situation where you would need to go away. That is why I said before would brother best be interpreted as fellow man or countryman or associate since this broadens the idea that you man have to go away if it isn't just believers involved? I not trying to labor the point, it is just if you could convince me that brother here just means a fellow believer it would be helpful to me, as it would mean I wouldn't have go around saying sorry to all and sundry. I'm not out to try and prove you interpretation wrong just to understand it when questions arise in my mind

Response #22:

I certainly agree that believers should give as little offense as possible so that we may "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Rom.12:18 ESV). The Lord's help is key to that:

When a man's ways please the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Proverbs 16:7 NKJV

As to Matthew 5:23-25, our Lord was sent to "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matt.15:24); He came to His own (Jn.1:11), meaning the nation of Israel. Israel was / is God's chosen people, and the nation was supposed to consist of believers only. That is why John's baptism, for example, was a "baptism for repentance" – because it was meant to bring the wayward back to where they were supposed to be. So our Lord was always ministering to and teaching and explaining things to what was supposed to be a community of faith (even though most rejected Him).

Here's wishing you a wonderful Christmas, my friend. My hope and prayer for you is for peace and for reconciliation with those you hold most dear in the new year.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Dear Teacher

Merry Christmas to you and your family too. I have reason now to enjoy every day and to rejoice in times like this because the Lord brought me to you. My life is far different than I even knew how to hope and I will never cease to be grateful for all that you have done to make that possible, and I know that what you have done is only yield yourself to the Lord for Him to use. For that I am grateful, Sir.

A very pleasant Christmas.

Your student in Jesus Christ

Response #23:

Thanks so much for all of your kind words, my friend!

I appreciate you in the Lord, brother.

Wishing you both a very merry Christmas.

In Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hello Brother Bob,

It's been a long time since we had any of these long email conversations but today marks a year since I met you and subsequently my 22nd birthday.

I hope you've been well.

I sent this mail to say thank you for everything. Every clarification. Every explanation.

Thank you so much.

This time last year, I was at a place of confusion on "What is the faith?" and the singular decision to Google a few of my confusions led me to your website and to you. That decision was one of the best decisions I made in my entire life.

Thank you. God bless you.

In Christ,

Response #24:

Wonderful to hear from you, my friend!

I very much appreciate your message, brother, and I'm keeping you in my prayers every day. Let me know how things go with you.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas, and a blessed 2020.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hey Dr Bob,

I hope that this note finds you well & celebrating the birth of Our Lord and Savior. I had wanted to send you a note before the 25th, alas, the time got away from me.

I hope the past year has been prosperous for you. The website is just growing by leaps and bounds! I can't believe how the time has flown! I'm proud to say that I have been with you almost since the beginning and I cannot thank you enough for helping me to grow in my walk with Our Lord.

I don't know if you remember me telling you that I was blessed to become a grandmother in 2018 to the most precious little girl in the world. I freely admit, I am highly biased .

I have been reading the series on Peripateology. Over the last 12 years, I have come to you for guidance as I suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, the passing of my beloved Nannie (Grandma), the loss of my job, & shortly after __'s birth, after years of wondering, searching, seeing specialists, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. My Nannie also had it. She had what used to be referred to as petit mal seizures. Out of seven children in her family, five of them all had this type. I was diagnosed with what was grand mal seizures. They occur in my temporal lobe & they do a doozy on my memory.

I have to tell you though, I have never been more happy. I have the peace that passes all understanding and a joy that is beyond words. While I was going thru each of those painful events & trying to do my best to know that the Lord would work all out for His purposes and His good, all I could do some days was lay in the floor and pray for mercy. I wasn't sure I was going to bear up under the pressure. To be sure, it was a long time of testing - or felt so to me.

Finally, ___ came. Then my diagnosis and proper medication. Of course, I can't work a public job or drive which affords me the joy of keeping ___ so she isn't in daycare. All to say, He always has a plan, He will give you the strength to bear up under the pressure and the rewards, which at least in my case, seem far too great for just one He created.

Thank you, thank you so much for your guidance, prayers, scriptures, website, work, endless time and patience, always responding to every question. I hope you know how very important your teaching is in these days. The Lord has chosen to use you as His vessel and you shepherd many of His Flock. May the Lord continue to Bless and Use you for His Purpose

In His Love,

Response #25:

Thanks for this update, my friend – 12 years is a long time! Yes I do remember you telling me about becoming a grandmother. Congrats!

I'm sorry to hear about the extent of your malady, and all you've been through, but I have to say that the grace with which you are enduring and bearing it is wonderful witness to our Lord.

Thanks so much for all your good and encouraging words, my friend.

Here's wishing you and your family a great 2020 – I'll be keeping you all in prayer.

In Jesus our dear, merciful Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Thanks for the update

I guess that's not the best news but I guess if it's meant to be it will change. I'm still hoping.

[details of unfair treatment omitted]

On another note I haven't been called into sub for two months, they have completely shut me out. Even though the work would be real nice right now as ___ is laid off.

I'll keep you posted.

I'm working on that FAITH and I find myself on the edge way too many times..lol

Response #26:

I'm sorry to hear about this, my friend. Some problems seem to never want to go away. I'm also sorry to hear that you're still in a crunch there. I have been praying about this. It seems that evil one is never short of minions to harass us, and believers who are really marching forward with the Lord are always special targets. I'm keeping your business in my prayers too.

It's OK to dislike pressure and trouble – who wouldn't? But we remember that we're walking on a rainbow road that rises up over all these pressures and troubles and leads right into the glorious presence of the dear Lord who bought us, the One we love more than life itself. The Father's plan for us is perfect, and we have the right to accept that and give ourselves over to the Spirit to lead us on that perfect path. We have a Sabbath day journey to walk with Jesus TODAY, and it's not too far and not too hard – and we only have to deal with "today" and have the right and the obligation to be at peace while we do so.

Keeping you all in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Dr. Luginbill,

I graduated from my training and drove home on Monday. I'm now at home waiting to hear from company to schedule my first initial "test flight."

While I'm excited about this, things at home aren't going well at all. One of the complications from my mom's surgery was lymphedema.

Since I've gotten home, I've been able to stay with her to help her around the house. I'm not a nurse, but I'm doing the best that I can. But for the 6 weeks I was gone, she had to rely on a nurse and therapist who would come in only a few times a week to help her out. She was alone at home when they weren't there (most of the time). I don't understand why ___ or ___ didn't just stay home with her to help her out.

The doctor prescribed some antibiotics and other pills for her to take, and he told her that she needs to exercise the limbs in order to get the swelling down; the antibiotics he prescribed cost almost $2000/month so she hasn't been wanting to take them. And she's been refusing to go exercise because of how much pain she's in.

I have no one to turn to. No one at church offered my family any meals that I know of. Some of their old friends gave her some equipment that she needed. I've tried to explain to my coworkers what's going on in my life, but they don't really seem to understand how painful this is. Nobody seems to care.

I know that whatever happens is in God's hands.

I'm sorry to reach out to you so late and with such an unorganized email, but I've been so upset by everything. I need encouragement and guidance from somewhere.

In Him,

Response #27:

Fantastic news about your graduation! I was planning on emailing you about that. I'm sure you'll do well and have a fine career!

I am sorry to hear about your mom. I knew she had liver problems (and lung problems) and have been praying about that, but I didn't know she'd had surgery. It doesn't sound as if they've treated her very well.

Parents can be a difficult problem when their health begins to fail. Your mother is fortunate to have a family with enough resources to deal with the problems.

It's very clear what needs to happen: 1) your mother needs to take her meds, follow drs. advice, and concentrate on getting healthy, whatever it takes; 2) your family need to keep up with her and the house better; 3) they need to hire whatever cleaning service and whatever nursing service is necessary to get your mom what she needs.

But YOU can't do any of the above. And if you twist yourself into knots trying to take up the slack it will just enable your family who lives there to put off doing the things it is obvious they need to do. Because you love your mom, this is hard, but you can't control her – or your other family members. And you are also responsible to take care of yourself.

If it's a question of money, how are you supposed to contribute if you don't have a job? And if you don't concentrate on doing a good job, you won't have this new one very long. So please do take care of yourself, and do whatever is necessary to do so.

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

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hi Dr.,

Thank you for forwarding this to me. It’s always encouraging to hear the audio files are of help to a brother or sister somewhere in the world. Sometime ago Pastor Omo asked me what kind response I was getting about them personally and my answer was zero. Well, that has never changed for me in my little corner of the world, but it’s what the Lord has for me to do, so I don’t let it get to me in a negative way. We are in the late stages of Laodicea and it is to be expected. Please let your friends know I am grateful to be able to provide the audio files and God willing BB-6B will be posted in the near future.

Also, it’s encouraging to me that so many of us face the same types of problems with family, work, friends, etc.. Personally, I don’t let this get me down much either. Knowing that we all have free will and are individually responsible to the Lord for every thought, word and deed makes it much easier. While it may be regretful for the individual who chooses to follow the broad road, it is their choice and I’m happy they have the freedom to make that choice (as long as they don’t interfere with my freedom to make my own choices). I have found that the Lord has His own ways of removing troublesome people from our lives if we just let Him do it in His way and time. It may result in severed/estranged relationships and many misunderstandings from the human perspective, but He never leaves us on our own, because He is always with us.

I think and pray about the short time we have remaining every day and while I don’t look forward to actually experiencing the Tribulation (and all the nastiness that may come beforehand) I do look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m keeping your work situation in prayer as well as all things that His will be done. Thanks for all you do. I’ll be in touch soon.

All the best,


Response #28:

I'm sure there are PLENTY of others for all the few who express thanks. Most people use Ichthys anonymously and I don't even know who they are. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, every once in a while I get an email which starts something like, "I've been reading Ichthys for years but I've never gotten around to emailing you before . . .". When it comes to the MP3 files, giving thanks for them is probably further down on the probability list, even when as in the case of the email I sent you people are VERY glad to have them. But we know that the Lord knows it all – and He is the One who will be doing the evaluating and handing out the rewards.

Life really is a sea of troubles, especially for believers, and MOST especially for believers nowadays who are not lukewarm. I'm certain that the evil one assigns more resources to these precious few than to all the "broad road" travelers as you put it. But even though our road is strait and narrow, it doesn't mean it can't be peaceful, like a short, enjoyable Sabbath day journey.

After all, we are commanded to "sanctify" our day by day walk with the Lord – every day now that we are not under the law (Heb.4:1-11). That means giving ourselves over to the perfect plan of God which has accounted for absolutely everything, all provision and all problems, and seeing with the eyes of faith that we are actually walking on a glorious rainbow road that leads over this sea of trouble. And how short the journey is in fact, compared to eternity! And we are told to take it only one day at a time in any case. It's hard to keep all that in focus when the flak is flying hot and heavy, but that is part of our "job" down here too.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Dear Teacher

Thank you Sir.

I hope that things change about your minors. I will pray for that going forward.

I saw my aunt yesterday. I didn't see her during the weekend, she wasn't home when I went to visit. But I saw her yesterday and I made my request. She couldn't help me. She says that the work at her farm was small work that she had local girls from around here do for her. But she and her husband promised to keep an eye out in case they saw an opportunity that might be useful to me.

I also spoke with our friend's wife yesterday and she told me that the judgment was postponed, so nothing happened last Tuesday. They are now waiting for the hearing for next week.

Please take your time with the files I sent, Sir. I'm not in a hurry with them.

I'm currently doing some research into the economy of Plateau State to see if I can identify some opportunities that I can try to exploit. I hope that I find something.

Keeping you in our prayers, Sir.

Your student in Jesus Christ

Response #29:

Just as me not getting my minors restored (and possibly also not getting my x-pay for research back) is no doubt of the Lord [update: old dean now out; both restored; God is good!], not getting an agricultural job is no doubt from Him as well. I can't tell you what to do or how to do it in terms of setting up a business or the equivalent (same goes for changing towns or countries). But I do know that the plan of God for your life is perfect, and that the Lord is working things out in the perfect way. That's hard to remember when the flak is coming in hot and heavy. But the testimony of my life is that in crossing the stream it has often been the case that there was no place to step but when I put my foot down there was a rock right under the surface so I didn't sink. And I've never sunk – not till yet. And I'm confident that I won't until I get safely to the other side. When that will be or exactly how, I don't pretend to know. We never do. Today could be my last day. Or I could still be around when the Lord returns. And anything in between is possible too. But all I have to do is to do my job today, and walk with the Lord today. And today's journey is a peaceful one – regardless of flak, if I concentrate on what matters eternally. I don't have to worry about what will happen tomorrow. There's enough trouble today! But I can deal with today's trouble in peace because I have already been provided for today with my daily bread.

Thanks for the update on yourself and on our friend – and thanks for your patience, my friend!

Keeping you and your families in my prayers every day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Dear Dr Luginbill,

There was a nice lady who used to work in our larger team (about 20 people), and near me. And one day she just died in a car crash. This was a while back (maybe a year), and I am pretty certain no one besides me still thinks about her, or even remembers her.

Just this morning there was a large explosion in Houston that shook houses even a distance away and killed at least 2. It was just a 5 or 10 mn drive from me, though I didn't feel anything myself (and they were going on about it being a "massive" explosion that people had felt a ways away).

Oh goodness, it is like all around me, I am getting this message 'death, just around the corner!' I used to grow up not living, due to abuse, deprivations, fear, and preoccupation with dying and going to heaven. I realized you can't live like that. Apparently there was even a lady who survived the Titanic and then WENT BACK on another ship and survived its sinking! I feel like I have PSTD and if it were me, would get far away from the ocean and crawl in my room and cry myself to sleep.

I just have the Bible for happiness. And I am trying to live for real, trying things normal things, and I am even trying Tap Dancing a bit, I don't know. I know you have to live even when the world is falling apart. It is just hard not to curl up and do nothing.

How preoccupied with death and heaven should Christians be? I am sorry, just that I don't have many friends who care about these things.

Also I have a line for Mr Socrates, and that is that the life that you spend spend examining and thinking ,and not actually living and doing and experiencing is not worth living. I heard he was a jobless person. I really hope that was not the case.

Response #30:

Heard about the explosion. Glad you are OK!

Socrates was a sculptor (doesn't seem as if he worked very hard at it, however).

On death, it's better to be with the Lord – by far (Phil.1:23)! So we believers are not looking forward to dying; rather, dying means little more to us than transitioning to being with the Lord, the beginning of eternity and all of the wonderful things we anticipate. It really is blessed to have been liberated from the fear of death. We are pleased to be here and serve Him as long as He wants, but we also live in anticipation of the resurrection and our eternal rewards.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
1st Thessalonians 5:9-10 NKJV

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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