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Question #1: 

Dateline: Papara, Tahiti

Dear Praying Friends,

For 8 generations Tahitians have been reading a Bible missing the condition of belief for eternal salvation. The original translator decided to use the Tahitian word "hear" instead of the one which means to "hear and receive as true." When I learned this in a recent translation session my jaw dropped to the floor. Imagine reading, studying, and preaching your lesson from John 3, John 6, and a multitude of other passages in the Tahitian Bible and concluding, "Whosever listens to Jesus will not perish but have eternal life." Other mistranslated verses have piled up to a staggering height. John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the light..." Light?!? The truth sank in: We are involved in giving the Tahitian speaking people their first Bible they can trust to lead them to eternal salvation. A second truth sank in only moments later: We are in for a battle for its reception and distribution.

I have good news! We have completed our initial translation of the Gospel of John and it is ready for its refinement cycles. Soon it will be in the hands of Tahitians. The same for Galatians, and work on Romans has begun. Soon after we have teams coming together for other island languages.

We desperately need your prayers so that the Tahitian people will receive this new translation. We need the Lord's wisdom on how to format it and print it, and how to present it to people who have always depended that their version is reliable representation of the Word of God. We need allies in pulpits and pews and homes. We need young people to start reading the Bible for the first time, and after coming to saving faith in Christ, to become a new generation of believers hungry for God's Word. We need new generations of Sunday school teachers, pastors, evangelists, and Bible study leaders to step forward in order to meet this hunger with sound teaching. We need the Lord to protect this work from those who would destroy it. We need more Tahitian translators, and more scholars who know Greek and Hebrew who are willing to spend time in Tahiti to work diligently on this project.

Rene' and I stand in awe of your prayers. Through them, God has opened doors in this nation that we never imagined. The translation project is one door of many, and others unknown wait for us.

Serving the Chief Shepherd in French Polynesia,

Mark & Rene' Perkins

Please check out our updated website! www.evanelia.org.

Response #1: 

Great stuff Mark! Putting up a link and a prayer request at Ichthys, and sharing your email this week.

Keep up the great work for Jesus Christ!

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

There are so many errands to run in the first days and weeks overseas. We are glad to report that we are just about done with the "getting settled" part and are now ready for the "getting going" phase. Thank you all so much for your prayers, we are amazed at how smoothly things have gone thus far.

By design we have devoted these early weeks to observing the culture, deepening our relationships with friends here, and thinking through what might be the best ways to serve according to the Lord's will, keeping in mind the skills and experience that He has given us. Just to give you all an idea of the scope and diversity of ministries here, let me set forth a list:

- Tahitians love their Bible studies. In the past week alone we participated in no less than eight hours of Bible studies. I am not teaching all of these, but I am given opportunities to comment and share at them all. The BIG prayer here is to begin to create a desire for Bible Study Methods;

- Gospel coins. As you can see from the picture of Ernest, we are giving out Gospel coins in Tahitian. On one side they ask the question, "Where will you spend eternity?" and on the other side is John 3:16. These have already proven to be very popular. We believe we will run out fairly soon and we will need an intrepid visitor from the USA to bring another batch in a few months;

- Pastor training. This is the heart of how to have long-term impact in French Polynesia and we ask that you pray especially for new contacts and the follow through from those who have expressed interest in the past. There is tremendous potential here.

- Children's ministry. We have also just begun with this. Sunday school isn't much of a thing here, and youth ministry is virtually non-existent. We would be delighted to find partners and volunteers to do evangelistic outreach in this area. I think that churches here would love to have this kind of work.

- Bible translation. We have a team, but we have not had a chance to meet just yet. This is a real need in the towns and islands away from the capital city, and may open some doors. We have the shell of a website ready for our work on John chapter one.

Rene's Reflections:

We are here and God has certainly paved the way for us to serve Him on the far side of the globe in Tahiti! We jumped right in to madly running errands daily for the simple things like forks, plates, food and pillows to rest our heads to car insurance, a bank account and mailing address. We are so close to our church friends and have enjoyed making new friends and rekindling old friendships and re-assuring people we are really here to stay! God has provided some simple joys like jalapeños and tortilla chips, so we don’t feel like we are missing our spicy roots. We look forward to Covid restrictions being completely lifted so we can begin to have people over for dinner and reconnect one on one. God is so gracious, He even provided a coffee pot when they weren’t considered essential!!

We love you all and we are so grateful for your prayers.

Mark and Rene' Perkins

Serving the Chief Shepherd in French Polynesia

Response #2: 

Good to hear that it all worked out and that you are settling in.

We haven't talked doctrine in a long time. It occurs to me that now that you have a fresh start, so to speak, it might be an opportune time to rethink the "rapture" and also "OSAS". The Tribulation is getting closer by the day. Equipping our brothers and sisters with the truth (not least on those two important points), will help avert apostasy when the seven years begin.

Apologies if you're way ahead of me on this already.

Your old pal in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3: 


The fall of the west has been ugly, heart-breaking, and strangely enough it encourages me in its unfolding that God’s plan for nations and for the ages rolls on to its conclusion. Who else and what else can we depend on but our King and His Kingdom? Are we at the inevitable end? Hard to know when the middle part of the roadmap isn’t there by design. For me, it’s important to carry on whether it’s hours or centuries to go. Apostasy in the west is upon us. It is as black and unfathomable as the abyss it comes from. Is it the beginning of the final apostasy? I don’t know and I’m not convinced that it HAS to be. In no small part our relocation is a flight from the final funeral pyre up north, and a flight to a place that has a chance to grow into something in the shadows of broken empire. I can see you smiling at my delusions. I’m smiling back with most of my marbles. Whether the seven years begin soon, and whether the church is swept to heaven for the final seven, equipping our brothers and sisters with the truth is IT. I did a baptism this morning in the lagoon down the lane from our place for a young man who spent seven wasted years with the JWs and wanted to identify himself with the real Christ. Very moving. He is ready to move forward in his knowledge of the Savior. Others here are quite respectful of me and my background. As for once saved… what a milieu here on that doctrine. The two sides are ready to club each other in the old Tahitian fashion. Wow. I’m not a Calvinist. Zero for five. Horrible model for eternal security. But, some are saved then deceived, others are never saved but act like it, and some do indeed persevere to the end. I’m comfortable in the understanding that those who are saved remain saved. The deceived are fools for walking away from our beautiful walk by the Spirit. It is their God-given choice to do so. At last I think we are all in the fight for holiness, OSAS or not. And at last I think teaching the Bible and revealing God and His plan in the Son and by the Spirit are the needed steps for loving Him to the end. I see both here doing that very thing, with all that they are and all that they have – heart mind soul and strength – which I heard somewhere.

The thing you need to know about me Bob is whether I love the Lord Jesus as He is revealed in the Bible. I do. We do. We are in the fight down here. By grace we will behold one another’s faces in glory. Perhaps soon.

Love you dear brother.

Response #3: 

Thanks for the thoughtful letter, my friend! Let me assure you that I've never had any doubts (or any reason to doubt) your deep commitment to the Lord. Nor would I part fellowship with you over these issues.

I promise to keep you and your ministry in my daily prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Hi Bob,

I was wondering what you thought of a ministry idea: I think your commentaries are very helpful; so are your email responses and basics where you explain parables and difficult verses. I was wondering what you thought about me doing a chapter by chapter crash course commentary with your content. I envision the podcast at a much faster pace than Curt's Bible Academy and finishing a chapter in 20 minutes instead of 5-10 verses in an hour. I would leave out the preaching and sermonizing and simply provide explanations and interpretations of verses. I have read through most of your materials twice now, and am doing a slow read-through of the Bible aided by your commentaries as well as your translation page. Also, I would leave out the dialogue focused on other scholars misinterpretations and less important language issues. I reckon that my learning is better when I am focused on producing and teaching something, so I thought of doing this idea. Obviously, I do not know the original languages so I would not be producing my own content, rather I would be repackaging your fruit in an organized, audio format. I was wondering if you genuinely liked the idea, whether you had any suggestions, and if I could use your content. As you can tell from this email, I've decided that I do not want or feel like I have the time to learn the original languages and produce original content. I have never liked learning languages and learning both Greek and Hebrew is very daunting for me. Very detailed language study also does not fit my personality. I'm looking forward to hearing your guidance on this.

As another idea, I was also wondering how many requests you receive for audiobooks of your CT and SR books?

Thanks - Happy new year to you as well!

In our King,

Response #4: 

It's an excellent idea! One thing I will point out, however, is that while I've never met you face to face I have gleaned that you have an engaging personality and are very good person-to-person.

When I was coming up, my role model was Col. Thieme and his was a face-to-face Bible teaching ministry. He had a great outreach to servicemen and others who were not residing in Houston, "tapers", we were called, because his sessions were mailed to us on old reel-to-reel audio tape. Naturally, I envisioned having a church where I would teach others, but the problems with that over time led to where I am at now. I never intended or envisioned an internet ministry (there was no internet), but this is the way it worked out. Given our day and age and the state of technology, and given that you are benefiting from this ministry and from some of the great people connected to it, thinking along the lines you mentioned is a natural sort of thing. But I wouldn't want to fail to consider a face-to-face ministry wherein you would do what you are purposing directly. Taping it as a podcast could be an additional thing rather than the only thing. I have found that speaking to an audience is quite different from speaking to a machine, and the "product" is thus quite different as well (the former being usually superior).

As to requests, the MP3 files are all done by Chris B. (not me), and posted to Ichthys where they can be downloaded anonymously without any sort of contact with me. The server does keep records of a sort, but it's not a perfect system and there's no way to tell who or how many actually listen, of course. I prefer it that way in any case. I do my job – as I see it – and the Lord uses it as He will.

Language learning isn't easy, but a little can go a long way. I was hoping you'd decide to try and sneak in some Greek and Hebrew before you left school, now that you've added an extra year (do I have that right?). But that's just me. I respect completely your right to make your own decisions about all this – as well as the necessity that they come completely from you. I'm a bit more stingy with my advice when it comes to most believers I meet through this ministry, but my sense with you is that you'll not be easily swayed if the advice doesn't fit. So please take it for what it's worth . . . to you.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Bob,

On time, it depends who you talk to! I will be sure to keep you updated.

Zechariah 9:11 (NASB) 11 As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you,
I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

Is the bold referring to Jesus freeing those from Abraham's bosom?

I wanted to ask you if I am being presumptuous about my ministry idea: As I go through each book using your material on Ichthys, Unger, and a bit of NIV SB for cross references I'm thinking about getting going with the idea of making a verse by verse podcast/YouTube channel basically giving the interpretation of each verse in a simple book by book, chapter by chapter format like Curt. Unlike Curt, I would leave out the preaching (He's a good preacher!) and keep it much shorter and faster. Basically it would be a synthesis of high quality material. In addition, I can interpret a good portion of the Bible having read your studies multiple times over so I have a solid background in theology. However, I have not been studying for that long in terms of timespan considering I was saved in the back half of the summer in 2019 so this makes me hesitant. Should I spend more time in the word and then give it a go? I sort of would like to produce as a I go though.

On the flip side, my understanding is growing and is fresh when I finish a book. Plus, I feel like the verse by verse material is just not our there in consumable form to the quantity it should be. Yes, Curt does produce good content, but he hasn't done every book. Your content is mostly in study form so if I wanted to say understand Zechariah I would have a tough time sorting through all the disparate material on Ichthys plus I wouldn't even know where to get it from if I didn't know about Ichthys or Unger (who is out of print). Knowing my buddies and their attention spans they will not go sifting through the Ichthys translations and that huge word document and buy Unger and check him etc... to get a verse by verse interpretation. They would want it in a form all packaged and squared away for them to eat without putting in all that leg-work that they wouldn't even know about. And in many cases like for Zechariah Ichthys doesn't cover the whole book front to back. So, I feel like I am in a unique position to actually synthesize original, organized content even though I personally green.

What do you think? I believe the Spirit is pushing me to do it, but I'd like your counsel too. I remember you saying that in WWII the cadets went out early. And I feel like I am in the same situation. There's not a lot of time left and I'd like to glorify the Lord with some fruit and ministry production before the ball drops in 2026. As you well know, we who know what's coming want that triple crown. To cap it off, when I am putting materials together for others I learn better too. Ultimately, I'd like to put good stuff out there before that the Trip hits so people can learn straightaway when it does hit.

Let me know, and please don't waste your time matching my lengthiness.

In Jesus,

Response #5: 

On the Zechariah question, it's an interesting application possibly, but I don't think it's the interpretation of the verse inasmuch as Paradise below the earth was a good, comforting place, whereas a waterless pit would not be (this is where they cast Joseph prior to selling him into slavery, e.g.); I think this refers to the general milieu of trouble and oppression prior to the second advent.

On your idea, you should do what the Spirit is leading you to do. If you decide to go ahead, I would advise you to spend some time becoming very well acquainted with one particular book, or possibly the gospels (hard to do them completely in isolation). Ideally, you could read through, e.g., Matthew and "know" what each verse means before starting to explain the book to others. Of course as you do get cracking, you'll learn new things as you focus in – and discover new questions too. I wouldn't recommend doing something like Zechariah, however. When it comes to OT prophets in particular, so much depends upon knowing what the Hebrew is capable of saying. Believe me when I say that there are a lot more possibilities of meaning in many of the verses than meets the eye from a single English translation.

Also, when you speak of "preaching" and not "preaching", I guess I know what you mean (wouldn't be my choice of words). But if there is no particular spiritual content, nothing that encourages and guides believers who listen, no doctrinal points made clear, then what we have is an academic commentary. The proof is in the pudding as always. A test run would give you a good idea of what you can and can't do with this format and also whether or not you are ready for it yet.

I'll be keeping this in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Yea that's a good point Bob. I want to balance quality and quantity. With what little time we have left, it is a delicate balance to hit both.

I should be moving into my own apartment in a month or so. One of my first things I am going to do is put up a large whiteboard and teach that way. It's far more engaging and easier to draw that way. Until then I am going to continue and try to churn out videos on Powerpoint even if I may be short on graphics.

When you do have some off time like you're in your car or eating breakfast or something like that -- I don't want to take away from production time -- can you listen or look at my wineskins video. I have been putting up one video per day, but that is the one so far I would just like confirmation on that I am teaching the truth accurately. It's a sneaky hard parable.

In Jesus our Lord and Savior,

Response #6: 

Whiteboard seems a good idea! You're rapidly developing a nice style and a nice methodology.

On your question, I did listen to this one (and also the "unjust steward"). I'm not at all sure why you would be wondering about your content. It's first rate.

As a pastor-teacher, you are responsible to the Lord for what you teach, not to me or to anyone else. If I tell you "well done!" but there is some serious problem, I may have to answer for that – but you are not off the hook. You are the one who taught it (whatever "it" is).

Teaching the truth is a little bit like combat (reading knowledge here only on my part, please understand). There is no perfect battle; there will always be casualties; there will always be loss; there will always be mistakes made, sometimes large ones. But we are happy with victory. So keep on pounding away. You will get better as you learn more and do more.

The Lord has given you a gift and He has led you to prepare very well in a very short time -- and now He has given you a ministry. Make the most of it – and know that it is something He gave to YOU.

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1st Timothy 4:12 NKJV

Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Titus 2:15 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hi Bob,

I'd like your comments on my approach to Bible Crash Course and two concerns that have crept up partly to being humbled by the last installment of the Bible Basics series.

Bible Crash Course:

Currently, I'm combing through CT and writing abbreviated teachings in my own words/organization. I focus on your logic, the Scripture references, and re-build off of your foundation while analyzing it to see if I agree and believe the same. During the production process, I cross-check while also supplementing with insights from Bible Academy, Unger, and good SB's like ESV and NIV. These written teachings will form the content of the future organized set of videos.

Instead of posting like I did in the very beginning, I now am putting lessons together methodically and in a structured manner. I plan on building a completed set of written materials on the whole spectrum of eschatology from start to finish and then transitioning into recording/presenting once the written lesson plan is refined to a satisfactory quality. Similar to how a HS teacher would diligently plan his semester’s lessons in the summer before he teaches the material live during the school year.

Also, I am working to deepen my foundational knowledge on all the eschatological chapters that you list in Part 1 of the CT series by going through them verse by verse. This has been an extremely fruitful exercise that I plan on continuing in earnest. Right now, the plan is to continue to split my time between both the verse by verse personal study and the creating of new lessons.

Two concerns:

1) Creating lessons up to par takes a ton of time. I’m concerned that it will be multiple years before the written materials are complete, thus, creating a long break between the first lessons and the future systematic videos published on YouTube.

2) After reading the last installment of your Bible Basics, 6B: Ecclesiology, I question whether I should even be teaching in the first place.

You list the tools a teacher should have:

a) Isogogics (the historical, cultural, geographical and literary background of the Bible and the world of the Bible)

-comments: I have this only on a limited basis.

b) Language fluency

-comments: I do not have this.

c) Categorics (systematic theology and doctrinal formulations)

-comments: I have this to a limited extent.

d) the application of all relevant information, particularly, in addition to the aforementioned, linguistic and contextual matters, to the explanation and interpretation of a biblical text

-comments: in truth, I do not have this. I straightly rely on more prepared men as I showed in my first paragraph describing my current day-to-day routine.

I'd like to know your thoughts on what I laid out above, especially the 2 concerns.

In Jesus our Master and Savior,

Response #7: 

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

Taking these concerns in reverse order, no man probably ever has ALL the qualifications he would like to have. I would have liked to have had a Ph.D. in Comparative Semitics focusing on Hebrew and a Th.D. in Theology, focusing on systematics. But if I had gone that way, I probably wouldn't have BB 1 up yet (or Ichthys at all). So while we do affirm that preparation is important, and the more the better, we also have to understand that all prep and no production is also something to be avoided. We have to add to that also, of course, the situation and the times we are in. During WWII, the military academies graduated several classes early – years early, in some cases. That was not ideal, but there was a war that needed to be won. We are on the cusp of the Tribulation – whether nine years or nine weeks away. That does not mean an end to all preparation nor does it mean that those who are sent to war early should feel that they don't have to burn the midnight oil to try and get some familiarity with what they have missed as a result, but it is important to acknowledge that the Spirit called you to become engaged in the fight early for a reason.

As to your lesson plan method, to tell you the truth I'm not a fan. Working hard on preparing tools (like Greek and Hebrew, gaining a familiarity with the Bible, with traditional systematic theology, with church history and ancient history) pays dividends always. The sharper your tools are, the better you can "rightly divide" the portion of the Word you are working on. But the method you are talking about assumes that with enough elbow grease you can "chop it all up RIGHT NOW" and put it back together later. That has not been my experience. The opposite has been my experience. My experience has been that I learn things every time I go into the Word – every time. If I wait until I know everything, I'll never do anything. And if I say that I am able to lay down the "what it says and what it means absolutely and completely" for every passage once and for all right now, I will condemn myself to never learning anything beyond what I know right now.

We teach what we know and what we believe. But we may know more tomorrow than we do today – and God helping us we shall! That doesn't mean we are wrong today necessarily, especially not if we are building on a good foundation as I did and as I certainly hope you are! It means that we teach valuable things today and, as we keep growing, even more valuable things tomorrow.

(51) "Have you understood all these things?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied. He said to them, (52) "Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."
Matthew 13:51-52 NIV

So please do not be too quick to throw overboard a method that was working quite well, one it seems that was given to you by the Lord and has already blessed many.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Matthew 13:25-31 NIV

In Jesus our dear Savior, whose sheep we are attempting to faithfully feed.

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Bob,

Actually, the reason I am even saved and going to live forever in the first place is because I knew [something] was going to happen!! I just didn’t know what. The degeneracy in college that I saw was out of this world bad. When I found your website everything finally clicked. Since the beginning, I have had this "WWII is coming" mentality so I totally understand your point here. The story of my early life is fast and furious into the lusts of this world, and then a rapid conversion out of it partially provoked by my trepidation that something bad was around the corner.

After reading your email, I think the middle road is the best option. I am going to be more patient in publishing to improve the quality of the videos and concentration of truth, but not wait two years to prepare my toolset exclusively.

I just finished up a 27-page rebuttal on the pre-tribulation rapture that I am quite happy with. It will take some time to put the videos on it together, but that is the next step.

The thing I am most fearful about is the judgement seat – as we are instructed to be. I’d like to continue to be fearful of it, and let it balance my desire to feed the flock in the way that pleases Him most. Your insightful email hopefully will help me accomplish this.

In the interim, I do have more Isaiah questions coming this week. I hope you enjoy my questions! I certainly enjoy reading the answers.

In Jesus,

Response #8: 

I think this makes sense — thanks for the testimony!

On feeding the sheep, it's true that we don't want to serve up slop or anything unhealthy. But if the sheep are hungry, we can't let the fact that the meal is "only" nutritious, plentiful and tasty stop us from meeting the needs of the hungry until we have produced some sort of super-fabulous, chef gourmet fare. As I'm wont to say, we dare not let the perfect be the enemy of the good to the point where there is neither perfect nor good.

Keep fighting the fight, my friend!

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus the Chief Shepherd,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hello--I hope you are well. Can you please clarify one more thing about 1 Corinthians 9, about paying pastors? Paul wrote that "Or do only Barnabbas and I NOT have the right to refrain from working?" This Mormon recently wrote this:

" It's a double negative, Bonnie. The actual phrase is "have no right not to work". It is a statement mocking the insistence of the Corinthians that Paul and Barnabas should not work. Again, this is contextual, not a few words ripped out of context. Paul has just described that [B]the other apostles work, is it only Barnabas and me who have the right to refrain from working.[/B] He is appealing to the fact that all the other apostles INCLUDING Peter, work for their food and drink, why is it that Paul and Barnabas only shouldn't work."

I know he is wrong, but to make sure, IS there a double negative in the Greek? I gave him a link to biblehub.org's many translations of this verse and all of them clearly mean that Paul and Barnabbas had the same right to refrain from working as the other apostles did.

Thanks again and happy 4th of July!

Response #9: 

There are two negatives in the sentence: 1) "we have the right not", but with the question word rendered in English "don't we have the right?"; 2) with the infinitive "not to work". The only way to put this together is as all the translations do with minor variations: "Do only Barnabas and I NOT have the right NOT to work?" Meaning: every other missionary to them "has the right NOT to work"; so Paul asks, "are we the only ones without this right?". No serious reader of English or Greek can quibble about this essential meaning.

As to double negatives, that is a grammatical phrase generally reserved for placing two negatives together in English so that they cancel each other out, as in "the worth of this is not nothing", meaning therefore "something". In that sense, while I wouldn't use the term – because it is generally to be applied only where two negatives are juxtaposed in my example, it is true here that the first "not" cancels out the second. But the effect of that is to mean that "Barnabas and I actually DO have the right to refrain from working" . . . obviously. So I can't explain your correspondent's logic – except that he/she seems to be grasping for a reason to ignore the passage altogether. Since this group doesn't assign Word of God authority to the Bible in the first place, not sure why that's necessary.

Pastor-teachers who are doing their job teaching the flock have a right to be supported by that flock. That is the biblical position, without question (see the link).

In Jesus our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hi Dr, Luginbill,

I hope you're doing well. Hopefully you're staying safe in Louisville with all this craziness going on.

I had a question from this week's posting actually, specifically questions #6 and #7. First of all, once I looked at it, I could tell that our friend wrote it, so I had a smile on my face while I was reading it. We've discussed some of this before, so it's kind of fun to build on it.

The question of God's sovereignty balanced with our free will is definitely something I've been thinking about for a long time. The question of politicians or leaders put in the position to govern provides a slightly different angle to my question, I believe. I've often anticipated a potential unbeliever counter-argument in my mind along the lines of "how could some starving child in the middle of Africa possibly come to know Jesus Christ?". If that person really wants to know God, he can provide for that person, and perhaps a missionary would show up at some point. I don't really understand, though, how he can do that without interfering with our free will in some way. Can we think of it as though God has a response to every free-will choice made for Him. I think I understand it on the surface, but I can't comprehend it entirely. I'd appreciate some help thinking this through.

Thanks a lot

In Christ,

Response #10: 

It's good to hear from you and, yes, this was our friend!

First thing to say is that unbelievers and atheists and all opposed to Christ always have clever answers and quibbles to everything that is true. Remember the Sadducees, how they thought they had tricked our Lord with just this same sort of "what if" hypothetical about the woman who had married seven brothers and so whose wife she would be in the resurrection which they doubted? Of course it turned out that 1) this had never happened in fact, and 2) it wouldn't matter if it had – because there is no marrying in the resurrection.

Similarly, unbelievers love to say "what about the people who've never heard?!" – as if this will prevent the Lord from casting them into the lake of fire for rejecting His sacrifice on their behalf because . . .

1) THEY DID reject Him, regardless of "people who've never heard";

and 2) in fact, God's construction of the plan of God is perfect:

a) every single spirit has been created by Him at birth and placed into the right body at the right time and in the right place with perfect and complete foreknowledge as to what each one of us would – and did – decide in each and every situation we might have been – and were – presented with;

b) for those who would not – and did not – respond to Jesus Christ, God knew that perfectly and was under absolutely no obligation to provide the gospel for those who would – and did – refuse to believe;

c) in each and every such case, these individuals rejected the natural revelation about God and thus proved themselves unworthy to receive the gospel – and that will be very clearly demonstrated at the last judgment (link);

d) and in many more such cases God actually DID provide the gospel (even if WE don't know the details) and it was rejected of course anyway – to demonstrate that even such additional grace means nothing to those who want nothing to do with God (just think of all the unbelievers in this country today who reject the truth in spite of the fact that the availability of the gospel message is ubiquitous);

e) It will also be shown at the last judgment that God's disposition in time of each and every unbeliever was totally fair, that they did indeed reject the truth in full knowledge of what they were doing, and that if they had had 1,000 lifetimes in varying circumstances they still would have done the same thing, and that in fact God placed them into the best possible situation - - for them – to be most inclined to accept the truth, and yet they refused to do so (the plan is perfect beyond comprehension);

. . . and finally f) it needs to be recalled that there are many "from every nation, tribe, people and language" (Rev.7:9) among the ranks of the saved.

How is that possible? First, there are many instances of the communication of the gospel (through missionaries or traveling individuals or angelic communications or causing positive individuals to travel elsewhere out of their places of birth) about whom history is ignorant; and history's ignorance – and more particularly the ignorance of those who make these absurd accusations against God – is not a valid indictment of Him. Secondly, any and all individuals of every time and place who die without having reached the age of accountability, whether through dying young or through mental handicap, are automatically saved (Rev.7:9; see the link).

Questions of this sort usually revolve around the issue of one's perception of God. For unbelievers, God is very small and very far away, whereas even for the most advanced and positive believers, the vastness of Him and the ineffable wonder of the wisdom of Him is yet beyond our comprehension. But it is true that the "bigger" He is to us in every way, the clearer we see everything, not just issues such as this.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” [Is.40:13] “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” [Job 41:11] For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:34-36 NIV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dr. Luginbill,

Okay, this is a lot. This might take some time for me to wrap my head around. Actually, I think the light bulb just went off. So, if the script has been written, yet we don't know the full plan, we still have to act it out and do our part? By partially shielding himself from mankind, we can still make our own independent decisions. Everyone knows of God's existence due to his natural revelation, and there’s really no excuse. For those that really would come to follow Jesus Christ, he had already planned it out and provided them with everything they needed to do it. I need to keep thinking about it, but I think I’m starting to understand it.

In the Lord,

Response #11: 

You're very welcome,

It's important to keep in mind that – God being God - - it is impossible for Him NOT to know what will happen in any hypothetical situation. And also that nothing could possibly happen – there couldn't be any "history" – unless and until He decreed it. And that decree by definition meant that what would happen would happen and nothing could change it.

What hyper-Calvinists get wrong is the notion that somehow this affects or removes our free will. It does not, not at all. God could not possibly NOT know what every spirit He created would decide in any infinite number of hypothetical scenarios. His knowledge does not equate to us having no free will. If that were the case, then why would Christ have to die for the sins of the world?

Everything always comes back to the cross which is the bedrock of the plan. Only by allowing people actual free will – which meant that they/we would sin and that He, Jesus Christ, would have to pay an as yet unknowable price to save us – could there possibly be an eternity populated by creatures who had actually chosen of their own free will to be with the Lord for all eternity.

The plan is perfect – in every way and viewed from every angle. Suggesting there's no free will is insane, because that is what is at the very heart of the plan: we are given the image of God so as to be able to decide to accept the Gift of Jesus Christ . . . or not.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

I believe that in order for people to be saved, they have to have knowledge of the person and work of Jesus Christ, and this goes for people even in the most remote corners of the world who have never heard the gospel. However, some may challenge this by saying one can believe in God without knowledge of Jesus Christ based on how they may interpret Genesis 15:1-8. It says that Abraham believed the Lord's promise (the point where Abraham initially got saved) that he would bear a son and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. They may argue that the person and work of Christ isn't even mentioned in this verse only to conclude that one only has to believe in God to be saved instead of having any knowledge of the Son, Jesus Christ. How would you respond to this? Or am I missing something?

For example, let's say some person in a remote and isolated culture accepts natural revelation and believes in God without any knowledge of the person and work of Jesus. That individual has a good start and is on their way, but I would assume that God would have to provide a way for them to hear the good news because just believing in God the Father is not enough because Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father but by me." Could a person say, "God, I put my faith and trust in you, and then receive salvation? Forgive me for the elementary questions but I want to ensure I do actually understand this issue. As a believer, of course I know salvation is by grace through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ, no duh I tell myself.

But how would you argue against those who say such people can be saved without hearing the gospel? I have my own defense, but I wanted to check up with you on this before I confirm it. Maybe I'm a bit off? I know this discussion has come up to you many times before no doubt. I really don't think this is a complicated issue.

In His grace and power,

Response #12: 

You are absolutely correct: the gospel has always been the same.

It is true that before Christ came in the flesh and was revealed to the world as the God-man, salvation was based upon trusting / faith in God that He WOULD provide a Savior, a means of escape from sin and death, a means of redemption, as, e.g., Job clearly understood:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth.
Job 19:25 NKJV

Now that Jesus has come into the world, following the incarnation, His life and ministry, His death for sin on the cross, His resurrection, ascension and session, following all these glories, Jesus Christ Himself as He is, His person as the God-man and His now-accomplished work in dying for sin, is the only valid object of faith.

People are always asking argumentative questions about hypotheticals they can imagine – and always failing to understand how "big" and how "smart" God is. In short, He cares for all, and there has never been a person in the history of human history who desired to have a relationship with Him who was not then provided all the information necessary. But if there are a million people dwelling at the end of the world who do NOT want a relationship with Him, He is not responsible to provide it. Though we are limited in our imagination compared the boundless omniscience of God, surely even we can imagine ways in which God could (or could have) provided for some of these "hard to reach" people? And historically we do have plenty of examples, to wit, of missionaries journeying to just such places, and of people from such places journeying (with or against their will) to places where the gospel is readily available.

Here are some pertinent links:

BB 4B: Soteriology

What about those who have never heard of Christ?

What is the Eternal Future of those who Lived before Christ?

Salvation in the Old Testament

How's the new job going? Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Ok, I was trying to figure out how to do that but just decided to copy and paste my comment to this reply. I hope this doesn't bother you. Some of the references aren't spaced because of how the copying process went, so it looks different on word documents.

In a nutshell, the question many have asked is, “What about people in the most remote parts of the world who have never heard the gospel? How can they cry out to God if they never had the opportunity to be saved?” The answer is that all people have the time and opportunities. Those who never believed did so because they never wanted to be saved. So let’s start with the basics.

It should be evident to all that everyone knows about God through creation (Romans 1:19-21) and through the human spirit that He has imparted to all human beings at birth (Genesis 2:7). These aspects bespeak natural revelation, the first and most basic way God has chosen to reveal Himself to humankind. But our question is not, “how can people know about God,” but “how can all those in distant lands who already know about Him receive the gospel?” Romans 10:14 is the first passage that comes to mind because it states, “ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” This verse does, to some extent, answer the question for us.

Firstly, it is not enough to believe in the existence of God or, as some cultures call Him, the “great spirit.” It doesn’t matter if anyone believes in the presence of a supreme being, nor does putting another name to Him change a person’s standing with Christ. James 2:19-20 clarifies that “19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? No one can say they are a believer without manifesting a changed life, something only possible for those who have put their faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Anyone who wants to enter God’s kingdom must do so on His terms. John 14:6 sums this up beautifully when it says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” No one can ever approach God without faith in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

There is not one single passage in the whole Bible that supports this false view that simply acknowledging or believing in the existence of God is enough for one to enter the kingdom. All those who have, do, and will enter into eternal life will have done so through faith in the person and work of God’s Son Jesus Christ. This teaching is based on Scripture and started from the very beginning with our first parents, Adam and Eve. After the fall, both accepted the coats of skin that God offered them to cover up their nakedness. By receiving the animal coats (representing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross), our original parents put their faith in trust in God’s Son by accepting that, in the future, He would provide payment or atonement for their sins. Indeed, they did not fully understand how this would occur, but what matters is that they acted in faith that God would provide a way. We see this continued throughout the entire New Testament through animal sacrifices which looked forward to Christ’s death on our behalf. The first believers till the last ones to draw breath all have this in common- they believed in the person and work of Christ. Through faith, the believers under the old covenant looked forward to what the Messiah would do through rituals and sacrifices. Today, we look back at what He has done for us.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 1 Peter 1:10-12 (NIV)

This teaching above may not settle well with some people because they may think that God cannot bring the knowledge of His Son to the most remote and isolated parts of the world. Because of this, they may well conclude that one can believe in God to receive salvation without knowing His Son. But that goes against the entire tenor and teaching of Scripture. Romans 10:14 makes it clear that those who wish to be saved must hear and understand the good news of Jesus Christ. Those who doubt God can provide salvation for all those who genuinely want it doubt God Himself because they put Him in a box by limiting His sovereignty.

7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:7-11 (NIV)

Our eternal Savior can use whatever means necessary to bring the gospel to all those who want it, whether that be through missionaries, divine revelation, or whatever the Lord chooses to spread the message of Himself. There may be limits to the human brain that wishes to believe the possible as impossible with God. But God’s power and wisdom are unlimited and with Him all things are possible. Once a person accepts the existence of God and wants to know more, the Lord will not fail to bring the message of good news to their ears. The problem with those who accept natural revelation but go no further is that they have no actual desire to know anymore because they are content to go only that distance and no further. Accepting natural revelation is a good start, though simple belief in God doesn’t mean a person wants to commit their lives to Jesus Christ through faith. It is not enough to appreciate God’s existence or the sacrifice of His Son because one must accept the Lord in faith. This choice will entail sacrificing whatever is necessary to suffer and follow Jesus.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Mark 8:34 (NIV)

Everything we have written above eliminates any unfairness some may credit to God. Salvation does not depend on time and circumstances (that would be unfair and unjust) but on one’s desire to believe and the free will it takes to do so. And God will not allow anyone who wants to believe in Him to die prematurely. So anyone who never believes did so on their own accord. The gospel does not change for some people based upon their location and culture because that would be unfair and would require us to conclude that the Bible teaches two gospels, which it does not. Salvation has always been by faith through grace alone (Hebrews 11).

8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:8-9 (ESV)

Response #13: 

This is excellent! Well done, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

This is what the referenced verse, John 1:9-13, says:

" 9There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

According to Romans 1 18-20.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

I believe that Romans 1:20 is the proof text for John 1:9, where it states "Jesus enlightens everyone, not just the Jews, but the Gentiles also.

This verse also gives credence to say that "all people, Jew and Gentile, no matter when they lived", had this enlightenment given to them, in accordance with Romans 1:20.

So, my thought is that this Light that came in John 1:9, was also given to both the Jew and the Gentile even before the first coming.

I have been asked the following question many times:

What about those who never knew about Jesus?

My response is that God is just, and He always makes a way for all people to have the truth revealed to them and to come to know Jesus Christ, so how and some way God does it, according to what I read in scripture.

I would enjoy your comments on this.

Thanks so much, and blessings to you.

Your friend,

Response #14: 

Good reference!

"He always makes a way for all people to have the truth revealed to them and to come to know Jesus Christ" - Amen!

That is exactly the way I understand things as well. God knows everything . . . and did before He made the world or decreed all things. He knew where and when was best to place each one of us to maximize our chance for salvation. Everyone is given to come to know that God exists and to know something of His majesty and to realize that the only solution to sin and death and judgment is through Him. But responding to that knowledge – or not – is why we are given the image of God and why we are all here . . . and for believers who do respond aright, for us to have the chance to demonstrate just how much we appreciate what He's done for us in Jesus Christ.

Best link on this at Ichthys: in BB 4B "Natural Revelation and Accountability".

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hi Bob,

Hope you've had a good day.

I read a little bit more about Dallas Theological Seminary and their Spiritual Formation. They have a textbook called Foundations of Spiritual Formation written by Paul Pettit who teaches in DTS's Spiritual Formation department. Even if the teachers at DTS don't ever mention people like Richard Foster or Dallas Willard, the textbook they use does. There are many more of the "heavy weight" teachers and writers in the contemplative prayer movement mentioned in this book. If DTS say they don't promote the contemplative prayer movement, why use a textbook that includes teachers and writers who do?

I also read a piece from the Lighthouse Trails website that wrote about seminaries and Bible colleges who are accredited or in the process of being accredited through the Association of Theological Schools or the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Both of these accreditation organizations require schools that wish to be accredited to include Spiritual Formation within the school's infrastructure. This means that if the seminaries and Bible colleges want to receive and maintain their accreditation they are going to have to incorporate Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) into the lives of their students.

Here's the link for this which you might find interesting. https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11923 You might not have time to read it all tonight. At the end they have a list of Christian schools that are promoting spiritual formation and contemplative spirituality and a smaller list of those who are not promoting it. I just thought it might be of some help.

Keeping you in my prayers, Bob and thanks for yours too!

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #15: 

A whole department devoted to "spiritual formation" – good grief! That horrible "discipleship" stuff on steroids!

Thanks for this wonderful research, my friend – though of course the contents are most disturbing. I imagine this is how the mark of the beast will work as well. Pressure people to do things they know are wrong, starting with what seem to be "little things" in the grand scheme and for the "larger purpose". Next thing you know, we're the Roman Catholic church. Legalism works the same way. A little leaven ends up leavening the entire lump. But we do have good scriptural examples on how to deal with these matters:

And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Galatians 2:4-5 NKJV

Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hi Bob,

I read another article from the Lighthouse Trails website from a Dallas Theological Seminary student confirming that they do advocate for contemplative spirituality. There are other similar ones on there but I thought I'd send you this one. Here's the link - https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=30952

On the website they wrote that one of the most common arguments they hear defending Spiritual Formation is that there is a "good" Spiritual Formation done without contemplative prayer. To that they say they have never yet seen a Spiritual Formation program in a school or a church that doesn't in some way point people to the contemplative mystics. It might be indirectly, but in every case, if you follow the trail, it will lead you right into the arms of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and other contemplative teachers.

I had these suspicions myself. I listened to a couple of seminary professors talking about Spiritual Formation and on the surface it all sounded very good (but not to me). Apparently the aim is to help their students to grow spiritually. If any student who wasn't discerning enough followed their advice to study the books of these contemplative teachers then they'd be heading down a wrong and dangerous path. A path that would lead them further away from Jesus Christ rather than closer to Him. I've read some of this stuff before when I was trying to help my friend to see the dangers of it. I don't know anything about seminary but I know that it's bad to see this being encouraged there too.

I'm very thankful to the Lord for your true Biblical teaching on how to grow spiritually - in Peter's Epistles and BB 6A especially. And Odii's Bible Basic writings on the Mechanics of Spiritual Growth is brilliant too. The truth of how we grow spiritually is all there. We don't need the lie of Catholic man-made "spiritual disciplines", we need the truth and the only place you will find the truth is in the Word of God - the Bible. We grow closer to the Lord and grow spiritually in the way that He teaches us to.

There's much more research that anyone who is interested can do - but I hope this little bit I've shared is of some help.

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #16: 

That's wonderful – thank you!

Of course you are spot on. The difference between true spiritual growth and all manner of other substitutes (e.g., RC ritual, Charismatic emotionalism, etc.) is night and day. All of us who have experienced the power of the Spirit in energizing us through the truth we have believed know that very well. Not only are these other things which some people consider "fun" not helpful for true growth but they also of course are destructive to any genuine progress a person has made. These systems create legalism and adherence to all manner of false approaches. The disruption of the free will of others being "guided" is really obscene. As mentioned in another email since posted, this is essentially evangelicalism's "discipleship" nonsense transmogrified and on steroids. Glad I didn't have to have anything to do with that when I was in seminary! What I did experience was more than bad enough.

Your clear-eyed genuinely spiritual approach is a real encouragement to me, my friend.

Keeping you and your family in my daily prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Thank you Bob, much appreciate that.

Getting ready to return to missions with WYAM Kona, where I once worked with in the 80?s, taking the gospel to every nation. Pitcairn being the last one we reached.

The 2020 vision is bibles to every nation and this now older guy wants in again. Trusting in the Lords direction, vision, protection and provision. Glad to leave the Palm Springs desert and return to a place I enjoyed most and perhaps retire there at their International base. www.ywam.org

Gods blessings to you!

Response #17: 

That's a big change!  I'll be praying for your ministry.

Stay safe and healthy, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Thank you Brother Robert!

May the Lord fill you with the Spirit of comfort and joy that Jesus brings.

Will read this work on the scripture and bless the Lord for new insights, groundings and understanding.

Thanks for your prayers, have recovered from the complete brokenness just experienced in moving and betrayal. Obedience can be costly, but I am glad I did it, moved back to my missions training base in Kona. I am back again here in Palm Springs as of yesterday, steadfastly equipped to continue walking closer to the Lord and ministering to the population here that Jesus loves them, and wants to be their Lord.

All blessings in Christ Jesus to you,

Response #18: 

Good to hear that you are back "stateside" and getting back into the groove.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Are the Gifts of the Spirit still around today? I mean prophecy, discernment of spirits, healing, etc.? Tons of people say they are and that they are even vital to the Christian life. If they really are still around, then they are most certainly needed for serious spiritual growth.

Response #19: 

Every believer has spiritual gifts (1Cor.12:7). However, the overtly miraculous gifts – such as healing and tongues and prophecy – have now ceased and have not been given since the days of the apostles (1Cor.13:8-11).

As we grow spiritually, we learn more about what gifts we may have and how the Lord wants us to employ them. But we can't force the Spirit to do things He is not in fact doing (such as the charismatics are foolishly trying to do and pretending to do).

The main thing to keep in mind is that God uses prepared people.  First order of business for anyone wanting to go off to the mission field, e.g., is to grow close to the Lord through the truth of the Word.  Everything in the Christian life depends on that.

These issues are covered at many places at Ichthys; best general place for spiritual gifts: in BB 5: "Spiritual Gifts".

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.


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