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Ministry and Preparation for Ministry XII

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Question #1: 

Hi Dr Luginbull,

I am coming to find that I don't have the energy to keep up with all the studying and reading Greek and Hebrew and all that. I am just tired after work, and I keep starting and stopping because of it. I keep looking at it and calculating time, and think that I can't do it consistently enough and have to let go. I mean if I can't finish, it is just a lot of wasted time and frustration and added exhaustion. It is hard because I have had it in my mind for a very long time, and have also been trying for quite a while.

Response #1: 

Life is all about choices. We all have limited time and resources. So while it's true that most of us could cut out some non-essentials of rest and recreation to free up more of these for better purposes, it's also true that most people have a "need" for at least some of both. In any case, it's no good to cut out all rest and relaxation and then break down and fail in the good purpose the time and resources thus freed up were committed to – and that happens more often than not when Christians get ahead of themselves in "giving things up for Christ". Indeed, we should all want to do more for the One we love so much – giving Him "all" and "our all". That has to be a progression, however. And no one ever gets all the way "there" (Paul may have come closest).

When it comes to the time and energy one has committed to serving the Lord, even if there be a lot of both, these too are finite. Any time one spends studying Greek, for example, will not be spent reading the latest Ichthys posting, for example. I'm sure that spiritual growth is more important than Greek, than Hebrew, than ancient history, than classical theology etc.

There is also the question of what a person is called to do for the Lord, however. I have one correspondent who is studying Hebrew because she feels the ministry she's being called to will involve evangelizing other women and possibly in a mixed Jewish and gentile setting. Studying any language is a sacrifice. She has a good rationale.

If the Lord has put it on your heart to study Greek, there may very well be a reason for it. Blessedly, this doesn't have to be an all or nothing one time only decision. If you reduce the time you're spending, it doesn't mean you've given up. That's also true if you take a break. And if you use the extra time and energy to, e.g., get to some of the major Ichthys postings that you may have missed (or not read for a while), that would be all to the good. Replacing Greek with computer games, however, is not such a great trade off – unless, as I say, you've over-committed yourself and need more down time. This is a balance that takes a good deal of spiritual maturity to get right – and one that's always in flux as well (if we are growing spiritually as we should be).

Keeping you in my daily prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

I really appreciate your well thought out and measured response. It is mainly a matter of working (whether paid or just dailies) the whole time I am awake during the week except for 3 hours after I get back from the office and deciding my energy level. I mean I wouldn't replace it with ICHTHYS, I would replace it with downtime in the form of pleasure reading (not much better than video games).

Response #2: 

That was just an example. There are as many different gift-ministry combinations as there are members of the Body of Christ. Eventually the Lord leads each of us into what He's got for us. If Greek is part of what He has for you, then I'm sure that'll be made clear to you. If not, while it's nice to know, spiritual growth is not dependent upon learning Greek.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

I struggle with the idea that there is a specialness to His giving us of our abilities and talents now than before (for example in OT), with that there was obviously helps and teaching and the like for His work in the OT, and the teaching and helps and whatnot today is not supernaturally manifested as in the time of the apostles. But maybe the specialness is in what we are using those talents and abilities for now (to build up the Body), the time period after He came. Because there must have been good works for any believer in the OT to accomplish for Him, so He provided talents/abilities/gifts then. So, what is special is the time and purpose we have. That would make sense and I wouldn't feel off about. [omitted]

Response #3: 

God has always given different talents and abilities, but the basic parameters of the believer's life have always been the same. We are one Church from Adam and Eve to the resurrection. True, during much of Israel the Law governed things; now we have spiritual gifts, every one of us. But then as now knowing the will of God required/requires spiritual growth.

As to guidance, on the one hand I certainly agree with you that I'm highly skeptical when I hear "God told me to . . .", and it is also very true that many people are apt to misinterpret emotional impulses for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, the Spirit does guide us, using the truth we have learned – when we put ourselves into His hands. It's not really possible to explain this much beyond the concept level, but most believers who have been in the faith a while AND who have grown to spiritual maturity have experience of that, namely, a conviction about certain things. In my own experience, this always has to do with the truth I have learned and believed coming together with personal situations. So if I were to say "God led me to prepare for the ministry", that would be true enough – for He certainly did – but the manner in which it happened over many years and many experiences means that the statement might easily give someone a false impression as to just how He worked it all out.

What I can tell you is that according to scripture you do have spiritual gifts, and also that, according to scripture, the Lord has a ministry for you. These things are true of all believers. Finding out the details requires spiritual growth and a willingness to respond to the Spirit on this score. But growth is the prerequisite for all effective ministry. So if a person is in some doubt about this, it's all the same since the first job is spiritual growth in any case. Just how the Lord gets a person's attention when they are ripe for service no doubt is as different as each of us is different. But it will happen, given growth and willingness, that is.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

May I please try one more time to ask and understand better? Let's say I had the gift of teaching. How would it be different from the gift of teaching He gave out in the OT, or is it the same? Because He did have some to teach His Word, and I would assume it was the Spirit providing and empowering it, a spiritual gift of teaching. So, is it the same?

Response #4: 

To start with practicalities, spiritual growth is what is "job #1" for all believers, regardless of what gifts the Spirit has given them, whether a teaching gift or any other gift. We all have gifts in the Church Age, but none of us will ever live up to our full potential or produce to our full capacity without reaching spiritual maturity and without continuing spiritual growth thereafter. So there is that.

Before the Church Age, there were teachers, the Levites being the ones who were mostly responsible for this, but we do know of a number of prophets who came from other tribes, and their function was indeed to teach. We can see clearly enough from the slowness of the disciples to learn from our Lord – even though they were receiving absolutely the best teaching anyone had ever received (perfect, in fact) – that things were quite different in Old Testament pre-Church Age times. So we can't underestimate the importance of having the Spirit today, both in carrying out the ministries we have been given and in learning and following the teaching we are receiving. I think many believers have a tendency to take His ministry too much for granted. For those who were truly desirous of following the Lord, He did make His Spirit available even then, however. So for example we see David, a man who did not have the permanent indwelling of the Spirit, being filled and empowered by Him (cf. Ps.51:11), and having a closer and more dynamic relationship with the Lord than most believers today who do have that indwelling.

To get to the specifics of your question then, we aren't told of a gift of teaching in the Old Testament, but there were teachers. We can be sure that the Lord empowered the legitimate ones. To use an analogy, there were prophets in the Old Testament, and in apostolic times there was a gift of prophecy. The difference would have to do with permanence of the indwelling after Pentecost. While this might not seem substantial in theory, in practice it seems to have turned out to be very much so. Gifts we are given today are permanent – just as the indwelling of the Spirit is permanent. And those are both wonderful blessings.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Bob,

How lovely to have been blessed with your dad. I bet he would have been great to sit with and listen to all his life experiences. His ministry in the war and the church. Maybe one day! His memoirs and pictures must be really special for you to have.

I love the quote from Mark Twain. There's this other saying, "Hire a teenager while they still know everything!" It's funny how once they reach 18 they're quick to tell you they're an adult now - they know everything and what do us parents know? We know that they still have SO much to learn! They have the body of an adult but . . .

I've read through the Peter series and most of the Basics but I'm definitely going to be reading them over and over again. I want to get it to sink in more.

The quote from L. S. Chafer about the Bible being a book no one but God could write is so true. I was thinking about it and if the Lord has called one of His sons to be a pastor/teacher it doesn't matter how short his time is in ministry. It's still just as important to take the time needed to prepare, grow etc. Easy for me to say! It's funny you should mention L. S. Chafer because I've recently been reading a little bit about him and looking on the internet at his systematic theology. What do you think about it? I also found some other books written by him free of charge on the internet. I was just curious as to what you thought about him.

You're in my prayers, Bob.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #5: 

Love that "while they still know everything" quote! As to the millennials still having a lot to learn, didn't you know learning is now unnecessary? Their phones know everything.  This is unfair, of course, to many of our younger brothers and sisters who are zealous for the Lord – and goodness knows my generation has produced its fair share of problems!

Still, the tech thing is an amazing development.  I was walking home across campus the other day and noting how every student I passed was "plugged in" to one device or phone or another (just walking in the sun enjoying the late summer day without "life support" is apparently not an option), and I noticed one oriental male without wires or any device in his hands striding purposefully along. I found myself feeling a tad sorry for him, assuming that perhaps he couldn't afford what all the other students had – until he passed me and I saw that he had some white contraption with an aerial stuck in his ear.

On Chafer, the theology is in eight volumes including the index and is impossible to read. I did use it in the early days of constructing the Basics series, but I have to say that Basics breaks a lot of new ground which is beyond what will be found in Chafer. I'm not trying to brag. Not at all. Anything done right in this series was done by the Spirit. I just sit at the desk and type (not without making errors either as you well know!). It might have some devotional value (Chafer had a great deal of material from other writers he found "good" and he placed many long and voluminous quotes therein). This work represents the "state of the art" of evangelical theology of its day, but Col. Thieme made a lot of advances over Chafer, and I like to think that Basics is well beyond this work in many respects, some very important (as in no rapture, no unconditional eternal security, dichotomy vs. trichotomy etc.). I certainly wouldn't take offense if you decided to try and read it! I do recommend it to budding pastor-teachers who want to have a grasp of the historical development of these matters. But honestly I think you'd be better off spending more time listening to Curt Omo's Bible Academy videos.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi Bob,

Everything you wrote in your email was EXACTLY what I was thinking!

I think anyone who has come out of some cult / movement / religion / denomination perhaps concentrates more on their particular one when it comes to trying to help others.

I learnt a lot from trying to help. I had only just came back to the Lord and it felt like I'd been thrown in at the deep end straightaway. Two quite hard things to tackle very early on and wanting to please the Lord so much. But sometimes that's a good way to learn. I just had to do the best I could with the limited knowledge and spiritual growth I had. The Lord knew what He was doing even if I didn't and with Him leading me by the hand and with your help and prayers as well I came through those experiences. I've written down everything that I've learnt so I don't forget. Like you say it was a little bit of preparation for me.

I do have an "inkling" of what the Lord may have in store for me and I'm going to get the book you mentioned as well. But I'm VERY happy to keep doing what I'm doing now and to keep growing spiritually. I feel very privileged with the opportunities the Lord has given me to help you too. I know it's where He wants me to be and it's what I want as well. I love His Word and I love everything new that I learn each day. As you say, I've got more than enough to keep me occupied.

So it's my old familiar story again. I imagine it's like reaching spiritual maturity and having a specific ministry - you can't run before you can walk. I'm so happy and grateful to the Lord for the progress I've made - especially spiritually.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #6: 

You've come a long way fast – and that's all to the good. Most people would rather have someone on their team / in their organization who has to be reined in as opposed to some who has to be spurred on. And I'm sure that the Lord is no exception. So "don't put out the Spirit's fire" (1Thes.5:19).

I'm very happy to have your help. Someone told me once, "everyone needs a good editor" – and what he really meant was "and especially you".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Dear Teacher

Sorry I didn't reply just then. This thing has me feeling up to doing some things sometimes and then I'm flat for the rest of the time.

I went to the teaching hospital today. The doctor told me that I have a low blood pressure, and my symptoms suggested myocardial infarction to him, but that he would rather wait to see the test results for the tests he was going to write up before making any firm diagnosis. He thought it was an unusual thing for someone my age. I was relieved to know that I hadn't just been lazy all this time, and also to have some idea what might be happening to me, but I didn't know that the man had just told me that I was suffering a heart attack. He wrote me up for three tests including an ECG. I couldn't do them today because the lab people had already gone by the time he attended to me. There was a crowd of people before me. I mean to go much earlier tomorrow morning.

I have been quite sure that this is discipline from the Lord, and I suspected that it had got to the point of the sin unto death. I'm ashamed that things got this far. That was never necessary, but I seem to be a special kind of fool. I may be wrong about what is really happening to me, and I don't think it really matters. I am still alive right now and I think that that is the point. For a long time now, I have kept having David and Moses come to my mind - David's fourteen years of discipline and Moses's near-death experience on account of his sons' lack of circumcision. I know that the Lord gives us much room to get our act together, and if we don't, well, He presses the issue. I did try, but I don't need anyone to tell me that I didn't try anywhere near hard enough. Over the weekend, I already made certain critical adjustments, and I am right now looking at what else I have to do to seal the breach completely.

My concern is not with dying. I don't feel worried about that. It is with what it means. The sin unto death comes with loss of reward and with loss of potential reward. I've been concerned for some time now that I feel a retrogression in myself spiritually. I have been missing things that I should already know, and that is more painful to me than dying. Then I also know that whatever my attainments right now, I have not come into ministry yet, so that is one crown at least still unclaimed, and I certainly have not proven myself for any of the special ranks there are. I have no idea what I have already attained to (and the sin unto death takes it all away anyway), but I think I know what I most definitely have not attained to just yet.

I'm happy to hear that things are getting along with you and your family, Sir.

Your poor student in the Lord Jesus

Response #7: 

I'm distraught to hear this, my friend. I'm also remiss in not asking you what __'s opinion of all this is? So she clearly knows a thing or two more than you and me (and knowing her a bit, probably more than the MDs you're likely to meet in the hospital). I would have thought that HIGH blood pressure made a person vulnerable to heart attack – not the other way around (seems odd in the extreme).

I'm also concerned to hear you speaking of "the sin unto death"!? Heaven forbid! I just included one of your weekly Bible teaching sessions in this week's posting – and it is EXCELLENT. You are certainly coming into your own in ministry. And I hope that some of these individuals from your country I have tried to steer your way have been invited to join up with your e-group. That is a "church" by any godly measure. Oh yes, few Laodicean Christians would recognize it as such – but then they've never been to a real church in their lives, namely, a place where the Word of God is actually taught.

In short, you're sacrificing for the Lord on all manner of things, my friend, and making great progress in your personal preparation and in the development of your tools. Are you perfect in this? No, but who is/was? No one. If lack of perfection brought on the sin unto death, we would all be in the grave long ago.

Making the mistake of misjudging the source of pressure (often because of one or two small errors for which we are liable) is a deadly mistake. That is one of the reasons why walking the strait and narrow carefully is good to do, namely, it ought to make things simpler to analyze. Even so, without mentioning names, while it's not uncommon for wandering believers to blame God when things go wrong, I know plenty of good believers who want to blame themselves on account of things done in their past when things go wrong today (cf. Job 13:26; 1Ki.17:18). Instead, we ought to rejoice in the discipline we receive when it is clearly that, remembering that this is the Father being a good Father to us and loving us enough to do so; and we ought to recognize that in the absence of some recent, noticeable mess-up, trouble is not discipline but necessary testing for which we need feel no guilt – rather joy over being considered faithful enough to endure it. In short, when trouble comes if we are not "counting it all joy" (Jas.1:2ff.) – or at least striving to do so – then we are not approaching this the right way (and that is true regardless of the "reason" for the trouble).

I want to encourage you to be joyful, my friend. That is hard when you are sick, but the Lord can and will bring you back to good health – if He has the plans for you I am convinced He does. Your ministering of the Word of God is exceptionally good. I've already told you that if I were a "young pup" looking for good Bible teaching, yours is just the sort I would rejoice over finding. If the numbers aren't there yet, well, that is because in Laodicea the positive are few and far between. But even if we have only a few to whom to minister, the Lord rewards us on the basis of the genuine and godly effort we put into the field, not in the quality of the soil we have been given to work.

You have been given a wonderful gift. You have been given to come to a good level of understanding of the truth and also to minister it. And the Lord has provided you with a wonderful future helpmeet who respects not only you but what you are trying to do. That is a GREAT deal more than most receive. Don't feel bad about it. Don't feel guilty about it. Thank the Lord for it and take pains to exploit these blessings day by day as much as you reasonably can.

I will be praying for your health, my friend. Let me know what they find in the testing. And let me know what___ thinks about all this (and ___ too, if you are sharing it with him).

Your friend forever in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Dear Teacher

I'm sorry that I'm only just responding, Sir. I have been tired and then I also had electricity problems here: a strong wind blew in our area and it seemed to damage something in the electrical installation, so we didn't have electricity from Monday until last night. Your email was a huge encouragement, thank you very much, Sir. I always enjoy reading your emails, but this was quite truly life from death.

I have been discussing everything, and showing everything too. Of course, she didn't think that the tentative diagnosis was really what it was. She turned out to be right. The test results came in on Thursday. I showed them to her and she interpreted them for me. They said that I have pericarditis with mild septal hypertrophy. So, I'm not suffering from a heart attack. There is still a question what brought on the pericarditis because there is always a cause for it, although some times the cause is unknown. And I am still not sure what it may have to do with the tiredness I have been experiencing for a while now.

I really thought that it might be the Lord's way of demanding that I address a matter squarely. I have been trying to do so with more or less success, and I was conscious of my failure. I was also noticing slips in my grasp of the things I already learned - things I didn't remember too well or else which I had somehow confused in some response I made - and that too concerned me. I thought that it might be indicative.

I hadn't quite worked out how to include the people that you have been introducing to me. ___ and I have been corresponding quite a bit since I contacted him, but he is the only one who has maintained communication. The WhatsApp group is a difficult thing to add people to, because any new member would be missing out on several months of postings. Besides, the group that joined me there does not ask questions or make any comments, so it didn't seem like there was such great value to offer someone new. So, I'm currently considering setting up something more accessible that I can offer to people like ___, if they are interested. Doing that might demand greater commitment from me. So far, I have posted the Peter series and my own series on the WhatsApp group. I just post them every Sunday and ask them to share any questions that they may have. Apparently, having me post the series on the group is preferred by at least one of them to having to go to Ichthys to get them. But if I set up a website of my own, it doesn't seem to me like I will be posting content from Ichthys, except as references, so I would have to be developing stuff to post on the website. That would take a bit more from me than just mediating the Ichthys materials. I would love to do that, but whether I can be consistent with that yet is something I am not certain of.

Thank you very much, Sir, for setting me to straights about this whole thing. I don't consider what I feared that the Lord was a small thing, but I understand that I need not look at what I'm experiencing as the sin unto death. I'll work on simplifying things and I do rejoice that the Lord counts me worthy of testing. I figured that I hadn't quite measured up to that. I know that testing is not easy, but sometimes I aspire a little bit to it, because I see in it a confidence that the Lord has in me that I can handle it. That too is why I get concerned when I fail, because I know that I am able to triumph.

Your student in the Lord Jesus

Response #8: 

Write when you can, my friend. It's not easy coping with situations like this, even when there are no such power disruptions. I happy to hear that you and ___ are working together as a great team – and I expect this will be even more true in the not too distant future.

Get yourself well first. We all have to go through serious dislocations like this, it seems. It tests our faith and also our patience. If we do what we can in the meantime, that is spiritual victory. Once things straighten out and settle down (in relative terms – seems we're always under some pressure), that'll be the time to give thought to next steps. You've already made some very good ones. It's not surprising that first attempts end up to be more for the purpose of experience and guiding us into more permanent channels. That was certainly the case with me, with a church centered Bible class informing a later home centered Bible class which led to mailing out lessons . . . which eventually led to Ichthys. The Lord has this already planned out. Our job is to discover it with joy.

Keeping you and your families in my daily prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi Bob,

Hope you've had a good day.

After reading what you wrote about how expensive and difficult it is for students in the US to get their degree, I really do feel for them too. How are they supposed to even get started in life with all that debt hanging over them from the start?

Was it the same for you with all the qualifications you have, or has it got worse over the years?

It seems to be different from over here. They set a starting point of £25,000 and as soon as they start to earn anything above this then that is when they begin to pay off the debt. So really over here there aren't too many worries for them on that score.

__ said to me the other day when we were talking about the Lord that I should do a theology degree. I just thought, "nah, I've got Ichthys" - much better!

This got me thinking a lot. There's something that I find a real shame with certain people. They make a difference in you if you have a degree. You're looked upon as a better person, treated differently, spoken to more, spoken about in more glowing terms, taken out to dinner, bothered with more. I've seen this happen many times.

I have nothing against being very well educated. It's absolutely essential for our doctors, dentists, solicitors, teachers etc. It's just that over time I've seen people with degrees treated so much better than other who have also worked so hard for their qualifications.

It makes me think about the body of Christ and how our Lord Jesus is the Head and has given us all different gifts and opportunities to be of service and different roles to play. Every single part of that body is important (Ephesians 4:16) We all need each other no matter how insignificant we may think we are or how little we think we can contribute. We should never think that the gifts we've been given or the ministry we give for others is less important. The Lord certainly doesn't think of us in that way. Whatever gift or opportunity the Lord has given me to help in any way no matter how small is an absolute joy and privilege and I'll do it with all my heart.

I'm very grateful and appreciate how you don't treat any of us differently. This stands out to me because of how I've seen the opposite so often. Even little things stand out to me like you being called Dr. Luginbill, Robert, Professor, Doc, Bob, Prof, Teacher or my favourite one I spotted once that makes me smile, Mr. Bob! You don't seem to mind any of them and I think that's really nice. You're very well educated, but you don't do it for your own glory, you do it to give all the glory, honour/honor and worship to the only One who is worthy of it all and to help us as well. I know I shouldn't expect anything else from my teacher and brother in Christ, but it just goes to show the difference the Lord makes in a person's life and all praise and glory to Him for that. Thank you, Bob. It means so much to me, especially after how I've seen others treating their charges disparately.

All these experiences in my life just make me love our Lord more and more. He shows no favouritism at all, never has and never will. He loves all of us equally. He loves us exactly the same and He loved us enough to give His life for us and that means everything to me.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #9: 

Good to hear from you!

I did have to take out loans for seminary tuition, but I had the G.I. Bill and some savings (and I would be remiss not to mention the generosity of my parents), so I was able to get through those two years without too much additional expense. In my six years of grad school thereafter, I had scholarships and teaching positions. It was after that I had to pay off the loans – took ten years even so. Nowadays, it's the interest that really smacks students. The longer they can delay, the less they have to pay, the bigger that chunk gets.

Nice comment on the "theology degree"! You are so right about the Lord being "no respecter of persons" – that is everywhere in scripture. He honors those who honor Him (1Sam.2:30). Anyone can be a believer – because Christ died for ALL. Any believer can win top honors – because the basic ground rules for us all are exactly the same. The gifts we are given are different, as are the ministries and the effects (1Cor.12:4-6), but the Lord rewards our genuine effort done in true faith. There will be MANY surprises at the judgment seat of Christ, I'm pretty sure.

I know that in the plan of God there are all kinds of Christians who are doing what the Lord wants, whether they have degrees and other things the world esteems or not.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hi Bob,

I do understand and agree with everything you wrote about family and degrees.

I don't want you to misunderstand what I wrote in my last email. Your formal credentials mean a huge amount to me and always have done right from the beginning. It means that I can trust you. I know you know your stuff and I respect you and I don't want anyone else to help and to teach me - other than Curtis as well. It's you that the Lord led me to and every day I thank Him for you and for Curtis as well.

It's not just the work and money you put in for your qualifications that mean a huge amount to me. It's your love for the Lord and His truth and your spiritual maturity, your prayers, encouragement, experience, advice, your love, your time, your energy and your humour/humor and . . . everything. I'm truly grateful to you for everything you have taught me so far and for everything I still have to learn. Apologies if me wanting to tell you all of this has caused you any uneasiness.

I'm going through a bit of a rough patch spiritually, Bob. A bit of flak as well. I don't know what to say to you really. I belong to the Lord and I'm not exactly lukewarm so it's to be expected.

I had a look at the forum but I don't feel too great at the moment to go on. It looks good and I'm pleased that everyone is happy to be in touch with each other and seem to be going on really strong in the Lord which is great. They're all very good with words and getting it all down on "paper". They're all excellent communicators (much better than me) and they know a lot which is just what is needed for lots of ministries. All have great experience, talents and qualifications for the ministries the Lord has called them to. I'm impressed and happy for them.

As for me - I need time alone with the Lord and His help in getting through this testing time. I'm just living my life quietly on my own for Him from now on. No more big bright ideas or distractions. But I'll still be looking out for any typos for you.

Thank you for your prayers, Bob.

Your friend in our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Response #10: 

It's no problem at all, my friend! I did understand what you were saying. My point is that EVEN IF someone gets a basketful of degrees, it still will never be enough for some people to accord proper respect. You have to have "the right kind" of success / ambition / degrees to "count" for some people. I remember when I was getting my second B.A. (to learn Greek, Latin, Hebrew, etc. before I moved on, since I didn't get these prior to the USMC in my first degree), I was living in a trailer park – a really "low rent" one too, as we say over here. Having a conversation with one of the neighbors (maybe a high school degree?), he asked me what I was studying. "Classical languages!", I said proudly. "What are you going to do with that? I don't think there's any money in that!", he replied skeptically. "You should do something practical like engineering". The problem is with the people doing the judging, not with the people who are doing what they think is right before the Lord.

I'm sorry to hear that you are getting "flak", my friend. As you discern, it's inevitable for those who are really walking close to the Lord (1Thes.3:4). Just remember: you have a right to be joyful in the Lord no matter what is happening in this world. No one can take away from you the latch key to your wonderful place in New Jerusalem.

On the forum, it wasn't my idea; however, once some of the men in the pastor-group decided to do it, I was hopeful that it would become a place for serious Ichthys folks to get to know each other and share victories and sorrows – encouraging one another in the Lord which is the purpose of "church" beyond learning the truth. It's OK if people want to share exegesis of scriptures (I take it that this is what is mostly happening at the moment). But it's early and there are only a small group on the site so far. I certainly wouldn't want you to do anything that made you the least bit uncomfortable.

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your encouragement, I really needed it. Even though things have been tough, underneath it all the Lord is very much there and the joy and the peace are still there. It's a whole different thing to just surface happiness, it's something deep and constant.

I know this sounds like a strange thing for me to say, but all of this is so real. I mean the whole Christian life being challenging. I'm not complaining at all, it just hit me today how it really is a constant fight day by day. How we have to fight and be alert at all times. The things the devil will throw at us and the trials and tests as well. I've noticed that if I'm not careful and alert the devil is very good at subtly distracting me with other things which prevent me from reading my bible and your teaching. I have to be more alert because it's happened a few times now and I've been caught out. If I've had a couple of days where I haven't read my bible it really does have a negative affect on me. The other day all out of the blue I actually said to myself, "I'm starving". It was so strange how it just came out, and I felt like I was starving for the Word because I had been distracted with other things and hadn't read it for a couple of days. It can be different things that distract me. Even things like thinking all the time about what gifts I have and how I can minister to others rather than just being at peace about it and trusting that all of that will come in time - it's another distraction pulling me away from just concentrating on my spiritual growth. So even things that seem good to be thinking about, can actually be distractions. The devil can use these "good things" to prevent you from concentrating on what you should be doing which is getting your head down and reading your bible.

I realise it's so important to stay on guard and watch for these things whether it's from myself or the devil. It can be so subtle and it creeps up on me before I know it. I can see so clearly everything you always say about how if you're really trying to push forward with the Lord how you're going to come under attack and I'm REALLY feeling it at the moment. You don't teach these things just for the fun of it - this stuff is REAL and lukewarm Christians wouldn't have a clue - they're too busy partying which is absolutely fine with the devil. "Keep partying folks - it's much more fun than having your head stuck in a bible".

So this is why I've been suffering and I'm still not quite through it yet. It hasn't helped as well with it being a bit mad at home this week because we've got the plumber here putting a whole new heating system in for us. So as you can imagine the mess and the noise etc. Over the years we've actually renovated a few houses so I'm used to the drilling, hammering etc. He's been lifting up carpets and floorboards in each room to lay new copper pipes and he's put a new boiler in for us. He's been giving me some lessons on soldering the joints and I've been keeping him topped up with mugs of tea and you guessed it - loads of chocolate cookies! I seem to remember reading once that years ago you had thought of doing plumbing - or maybe I've got that wrong!

Just one very important last thing, Bob - on my way to work today I saw a student walking along with a WHITE CONTRAPTION in his earhole! Have you got yours yet?

Your friend in our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Response #11: 

No, I'm not connected up to the "mother ship" just yet. But I suppose I should shove something in my ear to avoid undue suspicion.

Based upon some of the "red neck fixes" I've perpetrated, I'm sure that I would have been an oft sacked plumber.

And it is hard to stay on the wavelength of near 100% appreciation of the reality of all "this". That's where the main fight comes in after we get to a certain point. "Trouble" is trouble mostly because it can cause us to lose that focus – or make it tougher to maintain. But it's all part of the Christian life. This airplane will land, whether we are dancing and partying in first class or freezing down in the baggage compartment. All what will matter then is what we managed to get done in flight, not the comfort we experienced or lack thereof.

Keeping you in my prayer daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Dr. Luginbill,

I stumbled onto your website this morning while looking for a chronological list of the books of the Old Testament. I've spent quite a while reading through articles of yours, especially those on marriage that are currently featured. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate that you are preaching the mercy and grace that we live under through the blood of Jesus. I've known so many people who, although claimed to be saved by grace, still live as though operating under the law. It's terribly sad. Thank you, though, for this work that you're doing for the Lord and others. It's much appreciated.

I actually wrote to ask a question about learning Greek. I saw in one of your emails that you teach Greek for a living. I've been wanting to learn it for some time, but it's a bit overwhelming. I'm not really sure where to begin. Do you have any suggestions? I've been sort of hoping I could find something free or at a low cost, but of course, I'm not averse to paying for a program if it's a good one.

I've also been wanting to learn Hebrew, but I'm just going to take them one at a time. Do you think one would be an easier place to start than the other?

Thank so much in advance! I appreciate the work that you're doing.
1 John 2:1-2

Response #12: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

It's no easy thing to learn Greek or Hebrew (or any ancient language) on one's own, but I do know people who have done it. My Greek and Latin students have enough trouble even with having an in-person teacher. There are postings on the site which talk about this, as well as some resource pages for self-learning (they are not completely up-to-date, but will give you some ideas):

Greek Language Resources

Hebrew Language Resources

Biblical Languages I

Biblical Languages II

Biblical Languages VIII

Feel free to write me back about this.

Thanks for your good words about this ministry!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #13: 


Love your writings and study of God and his word. I have one request have you ever thought about taking any of these writings to book form. I am of the old school it is just something about having pages in front of you to study from. I for one would be interested in purchasing many of your books.

Thanks and Blessings,

Response #13: 

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for the vote of confidence!

There are reasons for the way things are the way they are. I've always resisted this because I have found that keeping money out of this ministry is a wonderful boon that pays many spiritual dividends – and keeps things very simple. Also, I'm loath to assign any rights whatsoever to anyone else, even self-publishing sites.

I certainly agree with you. I prefer books. Turning these materials into booklets through desktop publishing options or through services like Fedex-Kinko's has worked well for myself and for others. It's not as nice as a traditional book, but it does the trick if hardcopies are needful or preferred.

Here are a couple of links on this:

FAQ #1 Books

Available for purchase?

Please feel free to write back any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #14:  

Hello Professor,

How have you been today, Sir. I trust your day is progressing well. Its already night time here. This morning I promised an update on my CHIA project.

We got paid last Friday. We were paid by the insurance company, not by the CHIA Contractor, the reason being that most of the crop was destroyed by storms that have been passing through my country in the last month. We did not make as much as we would have made had we harvested, but we made enough to start farming again within these coming couple of weeks. We will be looking forward to another crop by the beginning of February. So we are very relieved that our Contractor is not a con-man and the insurance company not 'wolves' - we all made something individually along with the co-op union. And the project seems to be something sustainable for the foreseeable future.

In your last e-mail you hinted at "start thinking about a [teaching] ministry" or something along those lines. My brother __ is of the opinion that I may have the [spiritual] gift of teaching; certainly I have been thinking along those same lines. It is something that I love to do. I naturally like hard work, been like that all my life. I have been writing articles and posting them in a local forum, challenging my brothers and sisters here to pursue proper biblical teaching. Certainly there is great need of proper Biblical teaching here. I have also been looking at ways and means of starting a website.

I know I will need guidance from you, sir, a great deal of it; and also from our bro.

Well, here is to wishing you a great working week!

In Jesus our King,

Response #14: 

I'm sorry to hear that the crop didn't completely meet expectations, but very relieved to hear that the crop insurance actually paid off somewhat. I will continue to keep you and your coop's efforts in my prayers.

I'm thrilled to hear that you are seriously thinking about how best to use your gifts for the kingdom of God. There is great reward in doing so, satisfaction and joy in this life, and a "well done!" from the Lord and the attendant eternal rewards in the next. I think it's safe to say that the process you are going through of weighing means and methods and wondering about your own preparation is the same thing "we" (those I know and myself who are ministering the truth or preparing to do so) have faced – but then you probably know that not only from the site but from the pastor's forum and from your conversations with our friend.

I have been and will continue to be praying for you about this, my friend. A website is a wonderful idea [link to our brother's new site]. It's not that common for there to be a large number of believers concentrated in a single geographic area who are positive to the truth – but that would be wonderful if it were to work out that way for you!

Your friend and fellow worker in the vineyard for Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Him.

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Thanks for asking Bob. My finger has regained most of its mobility but the pain in the operated arm is not back to normal – it may never be on this side of heaven. Until the pain is resolved I plan on holding off surgery for the other side.

You will be pleased to know that the Lord has been bringing me a stream of fellow students to give the gospel too. His arm has been upon them, and in several cases they have had open, soft hearts. I officially left my fraternity a few weeks ago since I stopped showing up at the start of the semester. This pricked a lot of old buddies curiosity and they have had an open ear. A full hour or so over lunch has provided really good opportunities to spread the good news. A couple guys are reading your website now; I don't know how in-depth, but it's a start. I have been putting a lot of hours per day into my studies, and the Lord has been rewarding me – so I am very thankful to Him. I am starting to see how He used my vain, old experiences to have the boldness and clearness to communicate the whole gospel unrestricted. His plan is truly so perfect – even though I do wish that I had more time before the tribulation. I have been studying Ecclesiastes with Unger's commentary, which has been helpful to help prep for questions. Are there any other books that I should pay particular attention too for effective evangelism?

In part 2B of your CT series, you said Jesus "operated within human constraints throughout His 1st advent". I was wondering how Jesus was able to go for 40 days without eating in the wilderness then? Doesn't eating seem to fall under human constraint? Pastor Curt suggested in his video that Jesus may have had minimal access to plants and non-nutritious things in the desert to go for that long.

Also in part 2B you mentioned, "where one who repents is rejoiced over more than ninety-nine who do not require repentance". Are the 99 persons who do not require repentance unbelievers who do not see their own sinfulness or believers maintaining their diligent Christian walk?

When were Satan and his demons officially judged? Could they hypothetically still accept Christ's sacrifice for themselves? Did Jesus die for demon's sin in addition to human's sin?

Is it a rule/command to state the words, "in the name of Christ" every time I pray to the Father? Or is this more of a heart exercise, realizing that we have this incredible opportunity to petition the Father at the throne of grace because of Jesus' sacrifice?

[questions about food omitted]

How are you doing Professor, are classes okay? Is your health okay? Have you been working on any new studies of late?

I love these personal emails and always look forward to them.

In Jesus,

Response #15: 

I'm certainly hoping and praying that you will fully recover, my friend. Having had more of these "issues" in the course of my life just because I'm SO much older, I can tell you that if you give these things some time, sometimes they do fade away into the background, at least so much so that it's more or less as if they were never problems in the first place. So do take heart. As I say, I'm keeping this in prayer (Ps.103:3).

I'm thrilled to learn that the Lord is already using you in this wonderful way, my friend! In terms of effective evangelism, it seems to me you're already there. Just remember that the truth is all-powerful, especially in the hands of the Chief Evangelist, the Holy Spirit, who is using the truth you share to convict the hearts of those who listen. It's not about us; it's about the One we are witnessing to and for, our dear Lord Jesus.

I take the forty days without food to be literal. It's not impossible, and especially not for our Lord who was completely dedicated to the plan, having come into this world entirely for the purpose of rescuing us from death (cf. also Ex.34:28; Deut.9:9; 9:18).

The 99 are believers who don't need special intervention. We don't have to take this to mean a ratio which is always the case; the point is to show that the Lord is always concerned for everyone, unbelievers and wayward believers just as He is for believers on the right track – just as we should be and actually are as well.

It's also permissible to pray to our Lord Jesus directly (Jn.14:14). There is value in using a format, if it is valid and if it is not just a rote. We should be praying "continually", however (1Thes.5:17), and it surely is the case that if we do adopt that policy of a constant dialogue with the Lord it will not always go according to formulae. More prayer is generally better, just as long as we are in fellowship and have the right attitude in what we are doing.

I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying what you eat and drink (1Tim.6:17). Since you've read BB 6A, you know that in matters of application it is often the case that instead of direct commands we have different scriptural guidelines to tell us that we are too far off the road on one side or the other. We can easily see that in the case of eating and drinking that it is easy to go beyond the bounds either way. In the history of the church-visible very many individuals and groups have completely ruined their spiritual lives by getting legalistic about what they eat, restricting what they eat, being overly given to fasting and spare diets and diets which seem to comport with the Law. Any and all such behaviors inevitably cause the person to be MORE fixated on food and drink, not less so, and ultimately with the result of making this rather unimportant aspect of life THE most important thing. On the other hand of course, being a drunkard or a glutton, that is, someone for whom food comes to take on an importance of idolatrous proportions, is also not good. But in either case what is going on in the heart is what counts. So a person can eat bread and water and be sinning by doing it (because they are arrogantly assuming that they are currying favor with the Lord thereby or some other such misapplication of the truth); and a person can "eat too much" or "spend too much" on food and not be doing anything particularly wrong or dangerous. However, the opposites can be true as well – and it depends on the heart of the person in question. This is one of those areas where less worry is better than more, in my opinion. If we are eating too much or too well or putting too much of an emphasis on eating and drinking, the Spirit will convict us of that; if we are being too meticulous about our diets and putting too much spiritual emphasis on what we eat and drink and how much, this also will be something that a close walk with the Lord will lead us away from. In general, it's only important if we assign importance to it. If we assign less importance to eating and drinking, we will find no doubt that we eat and drink less if we are doing too much of it, and that we stop being so concerned about what and how much if we have been guilty of a legalistic approach.

I'm doing well – thanks for asking! Ending up a very difficult week with several more tough ones ahead. If I can make it to "Turkey Day" (speaking of eating and drinking), I think (and hope) that there will be some smoother sailing ahead for a while at least (one never completely knows ahead of time, of course). I'm still working away on BB 6B and getting closer to the end [posted at the link], but the semester has been a real load and has slowed my progress a good deal. I'm hoping to have more time over the Christmas break to devote to it.

Keep running your good race, my friend!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 


I will be praying for you that things slow down. That's funny about Turkey Day speaking of food – it seems like busyness comes in waves at university for both students and professors alike. I will be excited to read BB 6B, but luckily for me I don't have to worry personally about the trap of Church politics because my church is Ichthys. That is a wonderful blessing from God!

In my last evangelical encounter – one counter-point that tripped me up to a certain extent was his argument of social evolution. I mentioned the universal moral aspect to humans - - he said, "well, there is a scientific explanation for that as he brought up how hunter-gatherer tribes would be better off with honest members and the like". I responded, "if this is true, where would that first single-celled organism come from, because something cannot come from nothing." And then I followed up, "doesn't it take faith to believe that all those random processes happened as well?" This social evolution argument specifically is a stumbling block for the more intellectual types, as this old friend is quite "smart" in the worldly sense. Is there any way I can attack this point better?

In Jesus,

Response #16: 

Sounds to me as if you did a really first rate job!

After all, nothing about evolution is logical or scientific – how much less "social evolution". A basic principle of physics is that entropy increases – but evolution is going entirely against the grain with that contrary to physics process having to happen unknown quadrillions of times for even a single cell to "evolve". And as any serious student of history and human nature knows, that is the case with humanity too. Without divine intervention, the human race would have destroyed itself many times over already. As Thucydides remarked a long time ago, "In peace and prosperity states and individuals have better sentiments, because they do not find themselves suddenly confronted with imperious necessities; but war takes away the easy supply of daily wants and so proves a rough master that brings most men's characters to a level with their fortunes". In other words, people are bad enough in their behavior when times are good, having to be restrained by law (which is a divine invention); but when the lid comes off, anything goes for most people (Christians and some honorable unbelievers being the exception).

If a person doesn't understand the above, said person has no real grasp of the essentials of true science and knows nothing of history or human nature – in other words, has no meaningful life experience. But God has put "eternity in the hearts of all", so that all know everything they really need to know to be saved: 1) they are sinful / not perfect; 2) they are going to die; 3) absent intervention, they will have nothing to say to God when they see Him face to face – and all know that this is true:

(18) God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness – on men who suppress the truth [in their hearts about God] in their unrighteousness. (19) For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. (20) His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His – [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity – so that they are without any excuse: (21) they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him. Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness.
Romans 1:18-21

So keep on "keeping on", my friend! I know that the Spirit is using all of your good words in witness to the truth to accomplish God's good purpose – because only He knows the true hearts of those you are witnessing to.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Hi Bob,

That was a wonderful answer, and I plan on using it next time when someone makes a similar claim. Great stuff and much appreciated.

In the Current Tribulation series you said, "we should not rule out the possibility that Satan will see these two demon-administered plagues (i.e., both the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments) as positive steps toward the establishment of his own kingdom even though God is using them for righteous judgments which He has sovereignly determined" — Doesn’t Satan know scripture as we can see with his tempting of Jesus? How could he be so stupid, playing into God's hands by allowing these plagues and the antichrist, for that matter, to come to fruition?

In BB1, your translation of Jahweh in Exodus 3:14-15 is "I shall be who I am". Is it incorrect to translate Jahweh in this conversation as "I am who I am"?

In your response to the saltiness verse in Matthew 5:13. You mentioned how the saltiness is always changing for a believer, and said, "When it comes to the truth, more is exponentially more and less is exponentially less". Is learning the truth on an exponential scale because we have the Spirit, and He ministers to us very quickly in our hearts? Or is learning the truth exponential because it results in eternal rewards and thus renders itself exponentially more valuable? Or is it something else?

Yes, I plan on "keeping on", no doubt about it. This battle, even though it is super hard, is so much more satisfying than anything else. Thank you Jesus! Yes, there is no doubt I need to be more humble and realize the power of the Spirit and the truth, and not to try to force the issue too much.

In Jesus Christ,

Response #17: 

You're most welcome, my friend!

On your latest questions:

1) Satan SHOULD know. But then, if knowledge meant anything, he wouldn't have rebelled against God in the first place. Arrogance corrupts reason. Much of what the devil has done, is doing, and will do, seems pointless and even insane to those of us with a godly perspective – because it surely is so, judged from a proper appreciation of who and what God is. The correct answer for the devil after reading Revelation, e.g., ought to be, "well, might as well give up right now!" But that is the last thing he will ever do. In this way, Satan is the perfect archetype for unbelievers. After coming to realize that they are sinful, going to die, and have nothing to put before a perfect God, the correct response ought to be, "well, better throw myself on God's mercy right now!" But that is the last thing that died-in-the-wool unbelievers will ever do, even if given a thousand lifetimes. The difference is that while we know all about Satan's character and irrevocable decision, we really can't tell in looking at an unbeliever whether or not there is a spark that will eventually burst forth into eternal life. Really nice, sweet and innocent unbelievers can be hard as carborundum underneath the surface; whereas real rounders and blasphemers can sometimes come to "see the light". But God knows. So if He sends us to someone, we do our job with giving the gospel (unless and until we realize that we are casting pearls before swine – that is a danger as well).

2) That is also not a bad translation. Because of the nature of how the Hebrew is phrased, it really does defy a one-size-fits-all translation. Our Lord said – on many occasions – ego eimi = "I AM", and that was clearly a Greek translation of these words, and a divinely inspired one from the Son of God Himself.

3) The point I was trying to make (if ever so un-artfully), is that as we get moving with the truth we see things more clearly and grow closer to God in more of a multiplicative way than merely adding bits and pieces; whereas the opposite is also often true for those heading down the path of hardness of heart.

Excellent! I'll be doing battle with you in my prayers, my friend. Thanks for yours as well!

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hi Bob,

A variable that has come up several times in discussions surrounding my career path (as we've discussed over email and then subsequently on the forum too) has been the concept of unstructured free time. While I will copy-paste relevant sections, I think it is fair for me to generalize and say that the Professor has argued to a degree that some amount of "enforced humility" (in the form of a boss, e.g.) is beneficial or even necessary for some people, while __ has argued that it is a mistake to view the challenges regarding unstructured free time as things we cannot overcome, and that it is instead better to pursue it and highly prioritize it for ministry's sake.

What concerns me is what my general response to free time has been throughout college. Without fail, when I get on break, I go into a spiritual tailspin and never seem to make good use of the time. Even on a smaller scale, getting through a big test or project usually leaves me spiritually handicapped for a couple days, with low self-control. I've noted this problem for years now, and while I suppose I've gotten somewhat better in this regard over time, it's still a big problem for me.

I'm thus concerned about my handling of the 10-15hrs/week of free time I'm going to gain from my upcoming transition to work from school.

The relevance of all this will come due in a while when I must decide whether to stay with the stable full-time job or jump into freelancing to get to more time. If I can build up better discipline such that I can handle the time, then that would seem to be better. But is it all dependent and conditional upon our free will?

Would that then just be a concession to my current state?

Your brother in Christ,

Response #18: 

It all comes down to the person in question and what the person is willing to do and able to do. It is a fact, on the one hand, that we all have unlimited free will. On the other hand, it is also a fact that not one single one of us manages to use that free will 100% for the Lord. We don't know the particulars, but it seems to me that the apostle Paul came the closest to a "flat out / full on" push for the Lord almost all of the time, even to the point of sleeplessness as he himself tells us. Even so, there are enough things in the little the Bible tells us to judge that he was human too. I would rate Peter's percentage as lower. And none of us is either Peter or Paul.

The two things I push back against are the ideas on the one hand that because we can and should do something that therefore we will do it – or should put ourselves in a situation where we are in real trouble if we don't; but on the other hand, I also push back on the false conclusion that because this is true, we should go easy on ourselves, kick back with a brewski in our La-Z-boy and give ourselves a break today (and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day).

It is possible to get better at self-discipline and it is possible to expand our potential and push ourselves to do more of a quality nature day by day. But in my experience and observation, this is NEVER a one decision, one day, one-shot deal. We have to work into this over a long period of time. It's hard to build up the momentum, and it's easy to lose it. I would liken this to being a professional athlete. There are plenty of people who have the talent to "make it", but very few do. Part of the reason for that is that very few people are willing to pay the price of dedicating themselves to a grueling schedule with very few let ups, ever pushing themselves to run faster, jump higher, lift more weight, develop a new level of skill. And I'm sure many can testify to the fact that even among "professionals" there are plenty who rely on excess of talent to be lazy when they can be. If a person is not supremely athletically talented beyond all others and also not really willing to sacrifice to the great degree necessary to have a chance to be successful, then it would probably be better not to "quit the day job" in pursuit of a dream said person is not going to achieve because of not being willing to pay the price.

We should all want to make the most of the lives we have been given and the gifts we have been given. Earning a good reward at the judgment seat of Christ is worth so much more than the most storied athletic career ever (1Cor.9:25) – for one reason because even the least reward lasts forever: our crowns are not temporary but eternal. But we do have to be realistic with ourselves about 1) where we are right now in our personal spiritual growth and the governance of ourselves; and 2) how much we are really capable of toughening up and pushing ourselves to do better.

Because we are not where we want to be today doesn't mean we should despair or stop fighting. We fight the fight every day. That is the only option for any believer who wants to cross the finish line – how much more so for someone who wants to earn a good reward AND help others do the same. But we want to fight well, and fight smart. Putting ourselves in situations that will be too coddling of ourselves can be a mistake if we give in to that; putting ourselves in situations that ask more than we can give at present can be a mistake if we are not able yet to handle that pressure.

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”
Luke 9:58 NKJV

Sounds great. But our Lord, who knew everything, knew that this person could not handle the hardships of the life that He and his disciples were enduring.

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Luke 9:59 NKJV

We hear no more about this person. In the end, our Lord is interested in results, not stirring protestations of loyalty. We may get some credit for going out on a limb in faith, getting out of the boat and walking on the water towards our Lord. I certainly think so and hope so. But if we're not ready for that yet, it may do more harm than good.

So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:29-31 NKJV

If the Lord calls us out of the boat, we should go after Him, and we should do so in complete faith that He won't let us down. But what if He's not calling? It might be presumptuous to hop out into the waves – especially if He's not calling because we're not ready for it yet. These are evaluations and judgment calls that only the person in the boat can make for him/herself.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hey Professor Luginbill,

After I graduate university, I have been seriously thinking about seminary school. From my research, It seems like most have degraded in quality. I did see that Dallas Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary in PA both are both good conservative, evangelical seminaries. I was wondering your thoughts on those two schools and any others you suggest. In addition, I am trying to live outside of CA because of its expenses and how far away it is from home so that rules out Talbot. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

In Jesus,

Response #19: 

I don't know much about Westminster, except that I would be loath to recommend it because unless I'm in error they are a Calvinist institution. The problem with Dallas is that it is very doctrinaire, even about doctrines wherein they are dead wrong ("rapture", OSAS, water-baptism, and at least one foot into "you have to belong"). Talbot at the time I went there had at least a history of being independent so that it tended to be tolerant of differing views. I'm not sure that was ever true of Dallas. As I have often remarked, the best part of seminary for me was the fellowship I had with a small group of like-minded believers who were are all devotees of Col. Thieme's Berachah ministry. Not sure that such a thing is repeatable today. But of course if the Spirit is leading you to explore this, then by all means do so. I would suggest reading their doctrinal statements and materials before committing. It would also be an excellent idea – if you do get really serious about it – to plan to spend a week there before you decide (they probably have programs like that as we certainly do for potential undergrads at U of L). In other words, my main concern is for you not to marry yourself to an idea of what seminary in one of those places might be like before you really have any idea. Even with due diligence, the actual experience will have many unexpected outcomes.

I think this would be a good topic to bring up on the pastor-forum of which you are a member. I know at least one participant who has done some research on this, and even spent some time listening to online courses from at least one place. If you do end up going to seminary, this forum might turn out to be the life-line you need to get through.

As to Talbot, it's changed a great deal since I went there so many years ago. Don't know that I could recommend it now in any case, apart from the distances involved.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Hi Bob,

Yes, its definitely a bummer that there are no places where a prospective teacher can get a solid bible-based in-school training experience. I was hoping that maybe you knew of a "secret" school still in good shape. I read your "Should I attend seminary?" email link after I sent you my own email (sorry about that!), and saw that even in the 80's seminary wasn't all that helpful. 40 more years of degeneration and I cannot imagine what they are like today! Praise the Lord that you and Curt are providing us good meat even in this age!

Your thankful student in Jesus,

Response #20: 

If it's a secret, it's a secret to me too!

Since you're planning another year in college, you could at least get started with Greek and Hebrew academically (depending upon what your institution or sister institutions offer). That would be a great boost.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Dear Bob,

I listened to the "Preparing For Tribulation" series last night and was impressed. Please extend my compliments to Chris. He did a remarkably good job. His inflections particularly.

I worked with text to speech back in the '80s and '90s. It may have improved since then but I'm inclined to doubt it. At least on the computers individuals can afford. I suspect he put in a lot of work on those files. The inflections don't happen by algorithm in my experience.

He has my thanks and admiration. (And my eye's appreciation.)

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #21: 


I'm copying our friend on this – I'm sure he'll appreciate your good words.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Thanks for this Dr., our friend is correct the that “inflections don't happen by algorithm”, at least not with the software I’m running (lots of creative editing takes place). I just finished listening to the SR series and have started the CT series again and every now and then I hear a digital hiccup or editing mistake and it makes me cringe. To hear that someone with experience in text to speech appreciates the finished product is very satisfying. I thank him for taking notice and expressing his appreciation, it’s very encouraging.

When I started all this I wasn’t even aware that it was something you had always wanted for the ministry and had been getting requests for. It wasn’t until after I was deep into it that I found the emails on Ichthys where audio teachings were discussed. In the beginning I just wanted to do something and asked the Lord for something to do and this is what He gave me. So, it is all thanks to Him. All the editing mistakes are mine but the good that shines through is because of His grace, and His use of your gift of Pastor Teacher. Thank you for your faithfulness to our Lord and His flock. It won’t be that long and we’ll all be together with Him. I often wonder what that will really be like. Living in this world it’s hard to imagine, but with what we know from Scripture, it’s greater than we could ever possibly imagine. I’ll be in touch soon.

All the best,


Response #22: 

Having dabbled a wee bit in these things myself in years past, I too have a deep respect for what you've accomplished. Thank you!

I also very much appreciate your spiritual perspective. This is absolutely the right way to think about things. We don't know the particulars of eternity. Even the descriptions we do have mostly serve to show us that the New Jerusalem will be amazing, but without letting us see the texture of our lives there. As I often say, on the one hand we probably couldn't appreciate it now, not being in a resurrection body; and on the other hand, to the extent that we could, it might make us useless for further life on this earth, not being able to fully engage any more after getting a clear glimpse of the glories to come.

So keep running the race – that's the only thing for it.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Hello Dr.

Praying all is well and you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! So sorry for the slow reply. Been a very busy week. Yes, I would be interested in the online forum. Never did that before, but I will give it a shot.

And I don't believe I thanked you for your prompt reply to my previous email and your excellent response. It was a great help and encouragement. Hopefully it will help others as well.

Thanks again for your wonderful teaching! I pray for you and your ministry daily. (I have learned more about the bible in the two years or so from your site than in the previous 48 years of going to church.)

So praise God for you and your ministry. If I can be a help in any way, feel free to reach out.

In our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Response #23: 

A welcome and delightful break! Hope yours was as well.

And thanks so much for your enthusiastic and kind words, my friend!

I just sent a request to our friend. It's the last gasp of Thanksgiving break there, and he will have his final exams in his last semester of his engineering degree right after, so give him a little time to get back to you. But if you don't hear anything in a week or so, do let me know. No obligation in any case.

I also appreciate your offer of support: prayer is ALWAYS appreciated.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:  

Hi Bob,

You said this in an email response about picking a teacher: "If you are serious about growing up spiritually and following the Lord, one thing I can tell you for certain is that no Christian is capable of "refereeing" between ministries to pick something from here and something from there – because if the person could do THAT, he/she could have his/her own ministry and would have no need of any other teacher."

https://ichthys.com/mail-faith-forgiveness-salvation2.htm#need a teacher

Does this mean I should stick with one teacher 100% of the time?

I ask this because I ask our friend some questions and also listen to Pastor Omo's teachings when driving, cooking etc. I very much appreciate both him and Pastor Omo, but certainly use your website for the majority of my learning, and sometimes I catch discrepancies between your teachings and Pastor Omo's teachings, quite a few actually the more I learn. Since there can only be one right interpretation, how would you go about sorting this out. I ask this question in great respect for you all. I just want to maximize learning and growth for the Lord, and was wondering if this multiple teacher approach is something I should stop.

In Jesus our Lord,

Response #24: 

I think it's fair to say that on all issues of MAJOR importance, there is no daylight between us. Also, I think the word I've used here is "ministry", not "teacher". It may be a subtle difference, but I consider our friend's teaching and pastor-teacher Omo's teaching as – while not subordinate to this ministry (that would make it part of a denomination which is not scripturally authorized) – so essentially consonant with Ichthys as to pose no serious problem whatsoever for believers who are partaking of one, two or all three (and I'm sure you've noticed that as well). That is especially the case for those who, like yourself, are preparing to be pastor-teachers too. All such need to learn to be able to weigh things out – since soon enough you will be deciding what to teach based upon your conscience guided by the Holy Spirit.

For that reason, I also occasionally give a forum to others who are connected to Ichthys (for want of a better word) on the "Special Topics" page (at the link). Our brother's work is also first rate. If I were not a teacher (or not yet ready to feed others and myself), I would definitely be accessing one or all of these fine sources of the truth.

But I do appreciate you asking.

Have a great break, my friend!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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