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Ministry and Preparation for Ministry IX

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Question #1: 

Good morning Dr. Luginbill:

We wanted to touch base and get your perspective. We are perplexed as to how we may best assist our friend. We provided some initial feedback and suggestions on his technology idea. We encouraged him to do due diligence and vet his idea before jumping into development.

As I shared with him, we are not in technology. We do have enough knowledge to effectively assess his idea and provide feedback/suggestions.

We are not certain how to assist him. We are wanting to explore with you what's best? We trust your assessment and guidance. We can certainly help him brand and market his final product - once there. He is extremely respectful, sweet - and also excited and persistent to move things forward. We just are not certain how to best help him.

Can you please advise? Thank you, Dr. Luginbill.

Blessings -

Response #1: 

Good to hear from you.

Thanks for this! I know little of business and less of technology (running a website like mine has a few hurdles to overcome but it's not difficult – the content is what is difficult).

I was hoping that you could steer our friend into some good lanes on the business side of things and it sounds as if that is precisely what you have done / are doing. So thank you for that! It's not up to you to solve all of his problems, though I appreciate your good heart in wanting to go above and beyond. His true destiny is in studying and teaching the Word of God. I can tell you that he is a genuine prodigy. If he were ten years down the road and ministering in the states and if I were a young pup, I would sit under his ministry. As things stand now, he is trying to figure out the best way to "make tents" while he continues to grow and prepares for ministry.

I know from personal experience that men who go this route and who eschew traditional churches and denominations out of love for the truth have a difficult time finding the right path forward. But God always provides. He certainly did for me, and always, it seems, in unexpected ways. So rest assured that our friend will be "OK". You are doing your part wonderfully well. Keeping the lines of communication open and continuing to be a sounding board for him in regard to the business angle of his idea is what he needs (and is getting) from you. It may be that he has to run this down to figure out some other way. I had to go to seminary to finally see that going into Classics instead of becoming a Presbyterian minister was the best way to fulfill what the Lord wanted me to do. It's all part of a positive process if we are willing to let Him guide us forward.

Thanks again for your willingness to help, my friend!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill:

Thank you so much for providing your insights in our last communication. We took everything you said into great consideration.

After spending time communicating with our friend we have offered him a small monthly gift of support so that he can spend time as a student of the Word and on his project.

We wanted you to know that we appreciate you connecting us - and for your wisdom and insights. They are greatly appreciated!

We hope that you are doing well - and we certainly keep you in our prayers.


Response #2: 

When it became clear to me that our friend was serious about trying to develop his business ideas as a way to support a "tent-making" ministry (and preparation thereto), I contacted my (admittedly limited) list of Christians who had some expertise in this area. You were the only one who responded. That was a blessing . . . but THIS is amazing.

I am reminded of this passage:

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
2nd Corinthians 8:3-5 NIV

Because I do consider this a blessing to myself as well as to our friend – and I give thanks to the Lord for you.

When the crowns are handed out on that great day to come, I have absolutely no doubt that this great generosity of yours will be remembered with a well-earned "well done!" before the bema of Jesus Christ.

Your grateful friend in Jesus Christ our Lord, the Gift who gave Himself for our life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #3: 

I also have been thinking that you and others like you are beyond my level. When I read ICHTHYS, I can see all the subjects you know (and want to know myself), but I have no idea how you got so much. Even if I were to go to college for it, I don't think I could do it. I mean maybe in an alternate universe if I had a couple or more lifetimes. It is kind of painful to admit. I am guessing there is no secret, some people are just talented like that.

Response #3: 

Everyone's journey to Zion is different, but all share certain things:

1) Christ has the path mapped out: it's up to us to follow.

2) We don't get there in a day – we get there by continuing to walk with Him day by day.

3) All of us – those with any humility – are grateful to our mentors and feel inadequate to do what they have done. I probably told you that after listening to my mentor, Col. Thieme, at a conference I attended back in seminary, I realized there was no way I could do what he was doing / had done. I thought about taking up plumbing instead. Happily, I stuck to the course the Lord had for me. Mine was different from his; and yours is different from mine. But we have in common that we can all do what the Lord wants us to do (as opposed to what we might otherwise choose to do), and that IF we do, there are no upper limits on the rewards we can win . . . as long as we persevere in doing what we are supposed to be doing.

Some recent links:

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry VIII

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry VII

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the notice of the new BB 6A posting. I look forward to reading it. On that point, I noticed that the traditional breakdown of Systematic Theology has 10 categories, but your Bible Basics series (i.e. your Systematic Theology) has 11 categories: the traditional 10, plus Peripateology. Did you create the term “peripateology”?

My mom and I are still grieving. It’s been four months, though it feels like a week. It’s still hard to concentrate and focus on anything whether it’s work, or reading, or studying, or preparing for ministry. Work has been extremely busy the last few months, and I’ve been falling behind because it’s like I’m moving at half-speed.

There’s also been a string of things going wrong. Odd car problems, health concerns, appliances failing. And, while not wrong still annoying, I have to go for jury duty later this month. I’ve never been summoned before.

I hope to have a set of specific questions for you soon about starting my ministry. I feel like my dad’s death and the grieving process is setting me back at least 6 months from where I wanted to be at the start of the year.

Thank you, as always, for your prayers.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Response #4: 

I'm praying for help for you and you mom in negotiating your loss, my friend. These things always take time. Please don't beat yourself up for being human. In some time you'll be back up to cruising speed, I'm certain. I do know what you mean though: loss, tragedy, major tests all seem to make the normal "flak" of life harder to take. But the Lord is gracious and won't let it get over our heads. Meanwhile He is tempering our faith.

Yes, "peripateology" is one I coined; traditional systematic theology doesn't have a category to cover this important area of scripture; and while BB 6A is long, it could have been a good deal longer (if we had pre-flood lifespans, that is – there is certainly enough material in the Bible to triple it or more).

Keeping you and you mom in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear and merciful Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Dear Bob,

I'm coping with the flak, but if possible, I would like to get a new job in a different field. Unfortunately, I have no real idea of what that would be. The things I like the most and the things I’m relatively good at (e.g. studying/teaching the bible, playing guitar, following/analyzing/debating current events, etc.) aren’t really conducive to making money. My biggest strength is my intellect, and I’m much better at thinking than doing.

I thought about going to a seminary. If there was ever going to be a time in my life to do it, it would be now. I looked at Westminster Theological Seminary in PA. An MDiv degree would be three years, a total of $75k (including room and board), and then I have no idea what I would do with an MDiv degree since I don’t think I could be a pastor of a church for the same reasons you couldn’t after your time in seminary. What are the possibilities with that kind of degree as far as making a living? I’ve read the email postings about seminary at Ichthys before, but for me do you think it would be worth it?

[details omitted]

I really need prayers for this, and any guidance you might be able to give as I consider options.

Thanks in advance.

In Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,

Response #5: 

I'm very pleased to hear that you are coping with all this "flak", even if it is not so easy to do. I do continue to keep you and your mom in my prayers for comfort, and I will add this job concern to the list.

I'm excited about your ministry intentions! I hope the new job and new place will contribute to you having the time and energy to begin to dig into it. I do recommend the "Basics" (you are right not to prioritize 2B, however, since you have gotten that information from elsewhere).

As to seminary et al., I do agree with you in one respect. From personal experience and from much observation in life of others, it is a VERY rare person who does well with a big hunk of time off and no direct "enforced humility", that is to say, accountability to a third party like a boss or a professor. It's hard for some people even so, but without a program to which we must adjust, generally speaking the sin nature and natural laziness have a way of wiping out the best of intentions – and in any case, a year is not as long as people may think (it has a tendency to fly by the way summers did when in school). So if you were wanting to focus on academic subjects, I would recommend finding a program that you really think would help you. A seminary connected with a real college which had a Greek program (and would allow you to take genuine Classical Greek course) would be my recommendation. However, I do think that you could learn Greek on your own. With all such things, a little bit done consistently and on a daily basis (more or less) is the best approach in my experience.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

I do feel I have already lost much of the game because I have lost faith too many times about it, and gotten upset too many times about it. The best that might be able to be said is that after being like that most of life, maybe I will have enough faith to pull through only just. Hence the extra frustration of-I had this fire and thought about Him and studied the Bible endlessly for years and years, and this is the small result. That is why I sometimes think to just let it be and enjoy a little of life everyday (and eventually stop feeling guilty and become more normal) and stop thinking so much about it. I used to want to do something great, used to have the drive but now just think I should just accept the way it has turned out. I don't feel I can do great things anymore, just try to make it day to day.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Response #6: 

You are making progress, my friend. Keep up the growth through the truth. It's not an overnight thing.

Also, looking backward is never particularly helpful. We've all failed, many times, and few of us have never failed spectacularly. But none of that matters regarding carrying our cross TODAY. It's all about today. If we keep it about today, we can expect to have a wonderful tomorrow when we meet the Lord – who loves you more than words can express.

There's nothing wrong with taking a break now and again. The main thing is to keep our focus correct. The world is pursuing pleasure for it's own sake, and that is quite different from having an enjoyable meal and crediting the Lord for the blessing of it.

If you do what the Lord wants you to do, you will have achieved something TRULY great. Curing cancer or starting a billion dollar business or writing a bestseller may be great in the world's eyes, but such things are only great temporarily in this temporary world. But even a cup of water given in the Lord's Name will win a reward that is eternal. Our true treasury is in heaven, and that is therefore where our hearts need to be as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Dear Dr Luginbill,

What you wrote before was wonderful, and very motivational, and helpful for me to keep and reread when I start to get off track. Which does happen.

There is a small point-and I hate to talk about it, because what you wrote really was wonderful-but I am conflicted on it...The idea of pleasure for its own sake being wrong. I do not think that is the case. There are many things people would never do, if not for its own sake. Because they are superfluous; just whimsy, fun, expressive of feeling and life, etc. There is no reason for God to give Israel jewelry in the OT. It doesn't help them get closer to Him (actually the opposite). It is for the pleasure of if itself-its own sake. Meaning He gave us pleasure and wants us to enjoy them (not out of wrong priority and emphasis of course). What do you think?

Response #7: 

There's nothing wrong with enjoying what God has given to us; but hedonism (i.e., pleasure as a goal in and of itself with no concern for why we are here and no regard for God who has provided for us) is what I was talking about. The Lord gives us all manner of wonderful things, and we are right to appreciate them – and Him the Giver most of all – and to enjoy them in His Name (1Tim.6:17). It's when He falls out of our heart-calculation that the troubles begin, and/or if we should start seeking pleasure instead of seeking Him.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hello Dr.,

I have the MP3’s for BB 6A ready for you.

Wow, this was a great series of lessons. It was my first read through and listen and I must say I really got a lot out of it. It just so happens that the last few weeks for me have been extremely stressful (work and home situations not being best as of late), loaded with quite a bit of testing and temptation and BB-6A read like a step by step game plan for me (not by chance I suspect). Things at work got so unpleasant that I was tempted to quit on two occasions (yeah, that will show them! right?), and it just so happens that there is a supervisory job currently available 10 minuets from my house, in the same career field, with a higher starting salary then what I make now and a nearly identical benefits package, not to mention I could give up my weekend job with the extra pay offered. So why not go for it? Well, as you so wisely teach, advancement in the world and advancement in the Christian life don’t always go hand in hand (that is if they ever do). A new position like the one available is tempting at any time, and with my background I would have an excellent shot at it, however, working a supervisory position with local government means working with the higher echelon (armature politicians) on a regular basis, being responsible for a handful of employees, spending time learning a new job, environment, personalities, procedures, etc., which will be very time consuming and stressful in itself and not to mention, who knows what hidden problems may come to the surface in a new workplace, especially a political one. I’ve been where I am at for a long time now and for the most part I’m left alone to show up, do my job and go home, at this point I really don’t want much more than that. So, after a considerable amount of prayer and study I believe I’ll keep my mouth shut and stay put until the Lord makes it clear that He wants me to move.

It is frustrating Dr., that my Christian family, friends and acquaintances all suffer from the spiritual atrophy which can so easily infect any one of us if we begin to let our guard down. However, it is their choice.

This is the last major installment of audio files to be uploaded to Ichthys. It has really been a pleasure to be able to serve you and your ministry in this capacity. I want to thank you once again for allowing me to do this, it truly has been a blessing to me. I know you have more books to finish and I will be happy to provide audio files for them as well, God willing. In the mean time if you would like me to provide some “special topics” from time to time I would be more than happy to do it. I am a perpetual student and will always be in the background studying one topic or another, so it would be no problem. If you have an interest in this suggestions would certainly be welcome, after all you know best what may be most helpful. However, Ichthys is your ministry, and if you feel you have enough audio posted and have need of no more, that is fine, you wont offend me in any way, just let me know.

So how are you Sir? Any improvement with your hip/back thing? Things well at the job? Ministry cruising along ok? Family ok? Cat still keeping you company around the house? You know I keep you in prayer daily on these things, if there is anything specific you would like me to add to the list just let me know.

Thanks for all you do!


Response #8: 

Thanks so much for this (all files successfully uploaded and tested); and thanks for the entire series (and ALL of the major postings)! I know that this is a very valuable feature for many folks who can listen at times but not read. Also, there are many who are better at listening than at reading. This set of audio files fulfills a desire I had almost from the beginning of Ichthys to have something along these lines, but I never had the time (or the skills) to spend on it myself. So you are a godsend, my friend (quite literally). As to the future, I'd be thrilled to have you "MP3" at some point anything that you think might be conducive to it. Don't know about the "Matthew / Mark / Luke" coverage because of the formatting and also the length (not to mention lots of Greek and other problematic things); email postings would be the next thing I'd be pleased to have you try – if you have the time (no rush whatsoever in getting started – I think you need a rest). There are a LOT of these, of course.

On jobs, about five years ago or so, I was actually elected chair of my department, but negotiations with the dean broke down and I was unwilling to do it unless my terms were met. Given all that has happened since, I now realize that the job was (and turned out to be with all the developments in the college) far worse than I could have imagined. The Lord was looking out for me there! I would sill be somewhere in BB 4A (not to mention behind in all other phases of the ministry) if I had taken the job – and it might have killed me (not exactly worth the small additional compensation). So for what it's worth, I think you're a wise man.

Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 NIV

I'm sorry to hear that job stress is an issue – and you are working a great deal too with two jobs! It's all the more amazing (and appreciated) that you have managed to do for this ministry what you have done. I know that there is greater reward therein for that very reason. Still, if you took a couple of months off or more from the MP3s, it'd be MORE than understandable.

I keep you and your family in my prayers daily, my friend. I certainly know what you mean about lack of response (or underwhelming response) from those you'd most like to respond. That is far from uncommon. Our Lord' siblings didn't even believe in Him until after He was resurrected.

Thanks for all your prayers for me and for the ministry too, my friend! They are making a difference.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi Bob,

I wanted to read through BB 6A again and I've found some typos that I have missed the first time I read it. I must have been so engrossed in what I was reading that I just kept going. I may have got some wrong (not quite sure).

It's good to read it again because I'm being reminded of what I need to keep doing but I'm also encouraged by noticing the things I've been doing right. Things like recognising I was emotionally tired and beginning to feel sorry for myself but then getting tough on myself and recovering and moving on quickly. I've certainly recently realised the truth of Isaiah 26:3. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

Anyway Bob, thank you very much for your prayers, I really do appreciate it. Hopefully I will know soon if my application has been accepted. Then I can start applying for jobs. I will keep you up to date with any progress.

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #9: 

Thanks for this again, my friend! You not only have a very sharp eye but also a good sense of what the error was – you are an EXCELLENT editor.

I will be praying for you to get that re-registration, but no doubt you are having to wait a bit to give you some time. Last I heard from you, you were just getting to the point of recovering your health. Taking on a job before that is resolved might not be the most prudent thing.

I keep you and all of your family and your friend too in my daily prayers.

I appreciate your good offices for the ministry, you encouraging words even more, and your prayers most of all.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you for the resource, Professor. I have looked at it and it is very helpful. Interestingly, it still didn't quite resolve the question of the eu pronunciation for me, as this diphthong is described as being pronounced as the vowel in the English "feud", but the lady distinctively pronounces both the "e" and the "u" (http://atticgreek.org/pronunc/epsilonU.html). Or I'm misunderstanding something.

I have been praying for our friend and his fiancée and will continue to do so. In fact, just when you wrote I received a message from him about this shocking event. It puts into perspective all that may be happening in my life here and my trials.

On a good note, I have read his teachings he has been producing lately and I have been greatly encouraged by them. It's a different world compared to what he was producing last year and it is evidence that he is growing despite all the hardship. I was impressed with the ease of his narration in teaching. I hope I can exercise my own gift in the way God wants me to and produce a good crop for Him. I feel some apprehension about it given the shortness of time now.

Professor, our brother wrote to me and asked for my opinion on commencing the study of Hebrew and Greek. He himself admitted he hasn't been the strongest with the languages and wanted to know if learning the basics will be of benefit for him. I thought I would write to you about this, because I do not want to give my personal view on it which may in some way influence someone's own decision and application more than it should.

My honest take on this is that this study should be undertaken, first of all, by those for whom God has given all that is necessary to undertake it and who should do so according to His plan. And that is not everyone, although a particular believer has to make his own decision on this.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #10: 

Reading and re-reading is the way to go. We are always learning – as long as we remain willing to do so and keep at it.

The diphthong "eu" is not a sound we have in English, so any of these is OK. I vocalize it as AAY-YOU, but "euro" of "feud" will do. I can understand people from Massachusetts, I can understand people from Mississippi – and their pronunciation is quite different. I can even understand people from Yorkshire (rural Scotland or Northern Ireland not so much). So it will not matter to much in training your language-learning brain – as long as you are consistent, having picked the one that seems best for you.

Thanks for your prayers for our friend. I am likewise most impressed with his teaching. He definitely has the gift and sees things from unique perspectives which are also biblical and more and more sharpened as he is sharpening himself. I am sure the Lord has great plans for him – as I am definitely certain is the case for you, my friend. We are all different, our combination of gifts is different, our personalities and other talents are different . . . and on and on. But we all have a job to do for the Lord, and I am proud of the way you are leaning into the one He has for you.

On your question, if someone is contemplating something sinful and tells me about it, I tell them it is sinful (not that they shouldn't already know that). If someone is contemplating something I see as eminently disastrous or dangerous, I will give them warning. But if someone is contemplating something that I would not choose for them or think might be a mistake or not the best use of their time or resources, I don't go out of my way to encourage them, and I might even offer some "fine-tuning" advice (depending on the person and the circumstances), but I wouldn't tell them not to do it. E.g., Greek: "well, it took me about five years to get to the point where it really began to speak to me". Besides, people are all the time "trying on" different things"; then the Lord uses circumstances to test their true interest and commitment. I can't say if our friend has the gift of teaching or not, but if he does, well, knowing Greek and Hebrew would be a real plus. You are certainly right about more being better; don't know that I'd be willing to say that some is not useful. The biggest problem with that I've seen over the years is the "just enough to be dangerous" type of seminary grad or self-educated person who is all of a sudden an expert and qualified to lecture us all after learning the alphabet. But as long as the person has true humility, learning Greek and Hebrew has got to be better than watching television (e.g.). You know him better than I do. I trust you to give him good advice in the right and proper measure.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Hi Bob,

I hope you've recovered from your monster day last week. I've got those typos for you - just the odd word missing here and there.

I've got some questions I'd like to ask you about the gifted artisan Bezalel in Exodus. Before he was filled with the Spirit would he already have had talent and experience as a craftsman? Would the Lord have chosen him because he was already very talented? The Spirit then seemed to gift him in many areas all at once - wisdom, understanding, knowledge, workmanship and teaching. He was like a Spirit empowered contractor, craftsman and teacher! After the task of building the tabernacle etc. was complete would the Spirit have then departed from him? Just wondered because of it being the Old Testament.

All our talents are from the Lord but does it always follow that they can also be one of our spiritual gifts? It seems to make sense but then there are many gifts and it's the Lord who chooses and not us. Sorry Bob this one just got me thinking lots!

I love how the aesthetics were so important to the Lord. The care, the detail, the excellence and the beauty of it all. Just our Lord all over. Please don't worry about rushing to reply Bob (there's a lot here) - whenever is best for you.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #11: 

It's an interesting question, my friend! I have a lot to say about the Spirit's empowerment in general terms (Old Testament as well) in part 5 of Bible Basics: Pneumatology (link).

As to Bezalel, the Lord is the One who gives us any skill or talent we possess (as was the case with others at this time including Bezalel: Ex.36:1-2). And He is also the One who empowers us to do anything good – through the Holy Spirit. Special unctions of the Spirit in the Old Testament make it very clear how blessed we are to have Him residing in us permanently today. Saul was changed into a different person – and that would have continued had he continued in the Lord's will. So there is clearly an element of our participation in allowing the Spirit to do His work by not interfering. So it is with all believers today. The sin nature gets the upper hand often enough, and yet the Spirit is omnipotent God. The only reason that ever happens therefore is that we resist listening to the Spirit and following Him.

I do think it is quite clear that the spiritual gifts we are given often match talents that we may have received as a result of our physical birth. After all, God has ordained everything. So while we can see it as "the Lord chose him because he was talented" we must also allow for "he was talented in the first place because the Lord was going to choose him" and of course "he was only talented and chosen because he was willing to respond to the Lord".

Thanks for all these great typo finds, my friend!

I really appreciate your help.

I'm keeping you and your family and your friend in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

With God's help - to the limited degree that I have made use of it - and your incessant guidance and support I have made progress, but I feel some distance away from knowing exactly how to channel what I am into the ministry for the Lord. And given the shortness of the time, this is a reason for concern for me. This is not to say I am unable to do anything, that's not the case. But I want to make exactly the right choice that the Lord has foreseen for me when it comes to teaching and production.

Although things are certainly clearer, I am still not entirely certain how I should serve the Lord best.

I want to do my best with those whom I can help and do so in love, even if recently it required an approach not too far away from that which Paul had to take with Galatians or Corinthians.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #12: 

When you say, "I want to do my best with those whom I can help and do so in love", I think you should hold fast to that! If I have any advice for you on all this, it is to share with you the benefit of my own experience: ministry, when done by someone with this attitude you report, responds to the needs it meets. So we can plan all we want, but when the Lord puts a need in front of us, that is what we strive to serve, not some Procrustean plan, no matter how well meant in the planning process. Your work on the Mary-cult is VERY important, in my estimation, and it alleviates not only yourself but all of us who know of it of the need to get into further great specificity when dealing with someone in or escaping from the RC church who wants some guidance on these points – because you've already dealt with the specifics in a godly way that points to the truth in every way. And if I'm not mistaken, you got into this as precisely this sort of labor of love in response to the needs of those around you who were struggling with these things. In other words, it was your job as the Lord led you to see it (and I for one would agree with that conclusion), and you did it well.

I certainly did not envision this ministry developing as it has. I always thought/felt that I would be in a pulpit somewhere, only teaching instead of preaching. That's not the way it worked out, but I'm not going to cry about it. I understand very well that I'm happier the way things have gone and have no doubt been able to do a better job for the Lord this way too. He will lead you into just the right next phase. Just keep doing what you are doing so as to be ready to be used by Him.

In Jesus Christ the Great Head Shepherd of the sheep.

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Good morning Sir,

Thank you very much for your prayers through every situation. Thank you very much for how your support and played a very significant role in my fiancée's growth in Our Lord. Thank you very much for the work you're doing at Ichthys, as soon as he found you, he told me. I've read some of the series and I'm currently on harmatiology. Reading Ichthys literally opened my mind to really see the Bible. There is so much I've learned from you and because of Ichthys, my walk with the Lord is getting clearer and better and stronger.

There is so much I want to say that I can't articulate into words. I pray everyday for you, for Father to continue to preserve, nourish and sustain you.

Thank you Sir. Have a blessed week ahead.

Response #13: 

Great to hear from you!

I have been praying for you as well as for him day by day, and it's a blessing to receive such an encouraging email from you. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to hear that these materials and this ministry have been helpful to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I'm very hopeful that things will work out soon for you and him for good and for the glory of God – and I have faith that they will.

Thanks so much also for your prayers too, my friend. They are greatly appreciated.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Sir, so glad to hear from you. How is work and health? How is your family? Trusting God that all is well with you. With this ministry, you are likely to be a special target for the devil. I pray that even though the afflictions of the righteous are many, may God deliver you from them all.

Most of the archived PDFs for download don't work. E.g the CT Series: I could only download each of the seven individually both on my iPad and laptop. The archived one of all together I could not. It just does not respond. Same for SR series. It's not a problem for me cos I just went and downloaded them individually. I just spent a little longer time. It may be just from my end anyway.

Sir I want to ask about ministry. I have not yet had a breakthrough on what exactly I'm supposed to be doing. Ever since I can remember, for years I've always been fascinated with eschatology. Because everybody around me believed in pretrib I went along with it. I tried to know and understand beyond what others believed from the scriptures because I found myself pastoring a group of people then. Yet the deeper I went, the more questions I could not answer and the more the scriptures looked inconsistent with pretrib. Till I came across one person on the internet who talked about post trib. I had an "aha" moment and started looking for others since I now knew I was not alone! Within limits, I read a lot of authors and studied relevant parts of scripture from all over the bible.

I rose quite high in my profession. (I'm a medical doctor) till I got an appointment to head a major tertiary medical institution. To cut a long story short, things got financially and legally very messy (This is part of the baggage I mentioned). Miraculously, God kept things from exploding. I'm just coming out of a long spell of self pity with the help of my wife (who God really blessed me with) and pastor. I'm blessed to have a wife and children who understand what I'm passing through and are following me in this posttribulation path. That would have been most difficult for me if they had not. Over the years I taught them what I know in bible study devotions at home.

The question is: is it possible to have a ministry that will minister to people like pretribbers in the time of the tribulation or before it? That is pretribbers who are not deceived and recognize that they missed it and are willing to learn from those of us who have been seeing what is coming for a long time. Is that a ministry enough in and of itself? I have that feeling. I've been asking the Lord to show me but it seems I'm not hearing!

I have been so slow in recovery from all that happened to me. I'm sorry to say that I believe that with what God has shown me, I should have advanced spiritually way beyond where I am. Am I even strong enough to suffer torture for Christ? If not, how is it possible to show others. Please don't call me humble. Sorrowfully my heart is still full of pride. You will help me with that as a prayer point if possible with your schedule.

Dr Bob I would like to start from there. Once again thank you for all the hard work and the material you put up for free on ichthys. Please be encouraged that you are touching and blessing lives.

Thank you sir

In Christ

Response #14: 

Good to hear back from you, my friend.

I'm happy to hear that you've found a "work around" on the PDF issue. I downloaded the CT archive from the site just now and the download worked. I was also able to extract the files (highlight then right click zip file and choose "extract all"), at which point another folder is created in the download location where the files are now accessible. One does have to follow that process to get at them.

Thanks for the background. Very interesting! I want to encourage you by pointing out that leading one's family to the truth and forward in the truth is no small thing. In fact, it's the first important building block in any ministry of the truth . . . if they are willing to be led (which in many cases is not so – so you are blessed here!).

I have said many times that I feel there will be a definite ministry for those who have prepared themselves for what is to come by really learning and believing the truth of the Bible – not just eschatology. When the Tribulation begins, the vast majority of believers who are part of this lukewarm Laodicean generation will be completely unprepared for the pressures they face. That is why one third of them will fall away into apostasy and the worship of the beast. However, two thirds will not, and half of these will have the spiritual wherewithal to endure martyrdom and give a good witness for the Lord in so doing. How can that possibly happen in these case of lukewarm spiritual babies? Only, in my view, if they are motivated to take a "crash course" in all of the truths of the Bible once events force them to see how important what they have so far neglected really is. When that day comes, all of us who have dedicated our lives to learning everything the Bible has to say will really have our work cut out for us, and I would imagine that this will include you too, my friend! So be pleased to continue your spiritual growth, and please don't limit it to eschatology (as important as that subject is, especially in light of the times). The Lord uses prepared people, and the time is coming when these will probably be in great demand as well.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hello Bob,

I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the few weeks off between semesters. I decided to wait until the first week of January to ask my boss about working from home (to have time for ministry prep), so no new updates on the job front. This month has been super busy there as everyone tried to cram in projects before the end of the year.

One further thing on our recent discussion about John 3. I was listening to a lecture that Bill Mounce gave at Liberty University, and during the Q & A portion he was asked a question about people who think you only need to follow the red letters in the Bible because that’s what Jesus said and everything else can be ignored. He began by expressing his distaste for red letter Bibles in general, but he gave a specific example of John 3. He said that the quotation definitely ends with verse 15, that Jesus never said John 3:16, and he even went as far as saying that if you have a Bible that has John 3:16 in red letters “that’s a problem.” So I did some digging and found that Bill Mounce has been on the CBT for the NIV since 2009. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a driving force behind the NIV’s 2011 change to end the quotation with verse 15.

I came up with this preliminary list of items related to starting my ministry. They’re mostly more statements than questions, but I’d still appreciate your feedback.

1. Although I would like the teaching to speak for itself, I worry about a lack of perceived credibility because I don’t have any letters after my name (e.g. MDiv, ThM, PhD, etc.) and I haven’t been ordained by a church body. Technically I’m qualified to put EIT after my name, but I don’t think “Engineer in Training” is appropriate or helpful for Bible teaching.

2. I want to call it “Midnight Lamp Ministries.” The significance of the name is multi-faceted. First, there’s the parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25:1-13, specifically verses 6 and 7 where the bridegroom comes at midnight and the virgins trim their lamps. There’s also Luke 12:35 “keep your lamps burning.” And there’s an old blues/gospel song called “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” which takes its title from those verses. Also, although it seems a little cliché, I would hope that the teachings I produce would be a light in these (spiritually) dark times of the latter days of the era of Laodicea. Furthermore, I’ll probably be doing most of the work for the ministry at night (depending on the day job situation), in which case I’ll be “burning the midnight oil” as the saying goes.

3. As I’ve said before, I want to do Bible study videos sort of similar to what Pastor Omo does with Bible Academy (link). I’m thinking of doing longer (40+ minute) in-depth videos, but also doing shorter (5-10 minute) videos giving simple definitions of terms and concepts so that I don’t have to define them every time they come up in the longer studies and I can just refer to the shorter videos. Some of the shorter video titles would be, e.g., What’s the Tanakh?, What’s the Trinity?, What’s the Tetragrammaton?, etc.

4. I plan on starting a Youtube channel to post the videos, but I’m also probably going to post the videos on some sites which are alternatives to Youtube that have pledged to promote freedom of speech/expression in the wake of Youtube’s intensifying and draconian censorship. Also, there’s all kinds of content on Youtube, but those other platforms, being newer, have a dearth of solid Bible teaching on them.

5. I don’t know how I feel about praying in the videos. Pastor Omo says a prayer at the beginning and at the end of every video. There’s other bible teaching ministries on Youtube that don’t say any prayers as part of the teaching. I can understand praying at the beginning and end in a church setting, but I’m unsure about doing it on the internet where you don’t really know who is watching/listening. I’ve always felt a little weird about corporate prayers anyway. I suppose I might be comfortable with praying at the end of each lesson, something to the effect of praying that the lesson would be edifying and beneficial. Obviously I’ll be praying privately before recording each lesson, I just don’t know about doing it in the recording. Is this something I should definitely do in the way Pastor Omo does?

6. I think the first series of lessons I want to do will be on Christophanies. I know that learning about all of the appearances of Jesus in the Tanakh—not just prophecies but actual, visible appearances—was really powerful for me, especially as a Jew. I also think that when I tell my family and one particular Jewish friend of mine about the videos when I first put them up, and I ask them to watch/listen, this would be a good place to start for them. The first video would be a short “What’s a Christophany?” definition video. Then I want to start with going verse by verse through Genesis 18 and 19. I’ve seen several discussions of Christophanies where Genesis 18 is featured because it says that YHWH appeared to Abraham and the next verse it says there were three men there, and the point is made that two of the men were angels and the third was YHWH appearing as a human. But, the most important verse in that narrative for me is 19:24. It says that YHWH rained down fire and brimstone from YHWH in heaven. In other words, YHWH in human form on earth rained down fire and brimstone from YHWH in heaven. In other words, with our New Testament understanding, the pre-incarnate Son appearing in human form on earth rained down fire and brimstone from the Father in heaven. I think that point is very powerful, but it takes an exposition of the whole narrative beginning at 18:1 to get the full picture. There’s other important concepts that come up in going through this particular narrative, such as debunking the erroneous Gnostic concept that the God of the Old Testament is evil and loves killing people whereas the God of the New Testament is all about love and forgiveness. Here, it is Jesus (the “God of the New Testament”) who is actually calling down the fire and brimstone which wiped out the population of Sodom and Gomorrah. So that’s why I want to start with this one, and there’s nothing like starting off with a bang! Then I’ll probably go on to Genesis 32:22-32. What do you think? Have I understood Genesis 19:24 properly? If this is how I start I’m sure I’ll have a lot of questions for you, especially since I’d like to do my own translation of Genesis 18 and 19.

Thank you in advance for your feedback and input. I took the next week off from work so I hope to have some time to read, study, and make some progress in learning more Hebrew (which has been unfortunately slow going in the last few months). I may also send you another list of “various and sundry” questions.

I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Response #15: 

Great to hear from you!

"Mounce" is the son of the famous Mounce of Revelation commentary fame (whose work I was also not high on).

I don't find the argument for ending the quote at v.15 convincing. It is true that the whole Bible is "the Mind of Christ" so that this doesn't make a great deal of difference in regard to the import (none at all, in fact), but John in v.16 connects what preceded with the conjunction 'gar'. That tells us that the passage in question is an explanation only the speaker would give, and especially so in John whose work is replete with asyndeton (so that the presence of this connective is doubly significant).

1. So this was one consideration in getting all the degrees I got. Let me tell you that in spite of having five of them, I'm regularly asked to explain my qualifications and also regularly dissed as not knowing what I'm talking about. For example, I "don't actually teach Hebrew at the university and don't have a Ph.D. in Hebrew, so I can't know anything about the Bible" (one critic said). We do what we can with the time and opportunities we have, but becoming an effective minister for Jesus Christ is not a question of degrees so much as it is a question of actual knowledge of the truth and competency in teaching it (along of course with concomitant spiritual growth and preparation). If a man has that, the fact that some refuse to accept him because of "lack of credentials" is regrettable but also unavoidable, no matter how many credentials a person has. I've also been dissed BECAUSE of having credentials – because obviously no academic could actually have the Holy Spirit.

2. Good name!

3. Good concept!

4. I didn't even know that Youtube was keeping Christian videos off their site (doesn't surprise me though). We do what we can that is reasonable for visibility, but unlike money-making ministries we are not in it for the celebrity. The Lord will bring all who are meant for your ministry to your door, regardless of how the evil one tries to hide it.

5. Everyone has to find their own way with this one. I've never been much on corporate public prayer either, and on a video / tape without an audience it would seem artificial to me. I don't criticize it, but not doing it would not seem odd to me. You should do what the Spirit leads you to do.

6. Sounds like a wonderful way to get your feet wet! One thing I can tell you from experience is that whatever your concept is now, it will develop as you engage in actual ministry when the Spirit brings out your talents and leads you to do what God wants you to do.

Write me anytime my friend!

Wishing you and your mom a wonderful Christmas.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 


I've been following you for some time now and I can see that you have more Bible knowledge and Christian experience than I so I need your advice.

I'm Nigerian and I'm at a point where I am confused, I do not know what to do. The Nigerian Christian society is one dominated by Pastors who try to make money by every means off their congregation by enforcing them to pay “tithes” and other enforced levies.

Well, I come from a direct opposite background; a set of people who like to feel unique and different and feel like it's our work to liberate those “under the law”, we call ourselves the _____ Church.

Now a little bit more about me and my background, I am a university graduate of two years already. I like to think I'm very intelligent and honestly will start studying to get a Master's degree next year, my dream is to serve God and be a minister who will make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) like Paul.

A little bit more of my Christian background, I feel like we are a little legalistic because of these reasons and many more:

1. We are subjected to a life of sin consciousness and “threatened” with hell and God's wrath every time of we commit sin.

2. Ladies are not allowed to wear clothes that don't cover their entire body or they are regarded children of hell.

3. Ladies are allowed to attach wool to their hair but no other thing or they are carnal Christians.

4. Ladies should always have scarves on their head every time of everyday.

5. We are not allowed to read any other book or listen to any other teacher except our pastors.

6. We are not allowed to marry someone that's not a part of us.

There are many many many more.

And we are not even allowed to leave our state except for educational purposes, you are not allowed to do any other jobs than entrepreneurship, teaching, trading or lecturing.

A lot of young folks that feel like they are not allowed to explore the world and so they run away from home and lead a different life somewhere else. They are mostly not heard of anymore till after many years.

My parents own a school so I'm regarded as lucky because I'm supposed to inherit it being the first child and only son.

Enough about my background, I can go on and on and on.

Recently, I met a brother who has wandered off since he was young but came back a few years ago. He became a Bible student and he's on the verge of becoming a Pastor himself, he introduced me to people like Kenneth Hagin, E. W. Kenyon, Andrew Wormack and various other minister of God.

I have been reading since and now I believe in conditional eternal security (coincidentally the one that you preach), that was what led me to you, I've been doing a lot of study that actually prove that most of the things we believe in my church are wrong (even some from reading some of your writings).

I'll love to be a pastor that preaches something contrary to what we believe in my church. I have a few years to decide what I really want out of life and if/when I'll leave home to pursue my ministerial course.

People think I'm devoted as a “____” but deep inside me, I'm broken and I don't want to break my parent's hearts as they assume there is no better way to practice Christianity than we are.

What do you think I should do? Should I go away from home after some years, learn the real practice of Christianity and come back to become a minister of God.

If I leave, will it be that the devil's plan over my life is unfulfilled. Even, a friend told me that he dreamt that if I leave, I will not make heaven.

What should I do?


Response #16: 

Good to make your acquaintance, my friend.

I have had correspondence with a number of your countrymen over the years, and it seems that life there is difficult for many reasons. The problems with "churches" as you describe them are nothing new and nothing completely out of sync with what is happening around the world here on the verge of the Tribulation in the late hours of the era of Laodicea. Money, fame, power, numbers, etc. are the focus of most churches in my country too; and all too many are also involved in heavy legalism or other cult-type behaviors. So I tell you honestly that I admire you for seeking the truth in spite of everything, and am very happy that you have found Ichthys – I hope that you will see fit to avail yourself of all of the teaching it has to offer.

One thing I can tell you, something I (and others) have had to learn the hard way, is that if you really do put the Lord first in all things and seek the truth despite all opposition, you will find that the road is a lonely one, at least in worldly terms. Mind you, I have met wonderful people through this ministry from all over the world, great men and women of faith who love Jesus Christ and His Word, His truth, beyond all else. But it is rare to find a concentration of such believers in any given geographic area. That is true of my country as well – even though there is a church of some sort on nearly every corner.

This is an important point for two reasons at least, first, because it is good to know ahead of time that your zeal and love for the truth is likely not going to be reciprocated by the vast majority with whom you choose to share it, and the deeper you get into the full realm of truth in everything the Bible has to say, the more that will be the case. The truth always separates the lukewarm from those who really are boiling for the Lord in the way He wants us to be (as opposed to superficial emotional displays and the like).

Secondly, this fact must necessarily condition your expectations about ministry. For example, if you were to be made pastor of the church you presently attend, I guarantee you that you would very soon face a major crisis of conscience, and if you decided to teach the congregation the truth – as opposed to the incorrect and legalistic things they currently believe – in short order you would find yourself no longer the pastor (or else the vast majority would "vote with their feet" and leave you largely on your own). Either way, it is never really possible to put this powerful new wine of the truth into old wineskins; that always results in breakage and spillage that makes the entire exercise something better avoided. There is no "denominational track" for those who are determined to teach everything the Bible actually has to say.

However, don't let this make you lose heart. No doubt the Lord has a particular ministry for you, one whose particulars you can't even guess at present, but in time His plan will all become clear. What I suggest in the meantime is that you dedicate yourself to personal spiritual growth. The Lord only uses prepared people for significant ministry, and personal spiritual growth to maturity and beyond, passing the tests that only come to the mature believer, are necessary prerequisites for any man who wants to teach the Word of God. You are most welcome to avail yourself of everything here at Ichthys. I also always recommend pastor Curt Omo's Bible Academy (at the link); and here is one other good place to get your bearing: the writings of Odii Ariwodo (posted at Ichthys at the link).

Do feel free to write me back any time, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Please read these sermons and share your views about this pastor.

[details omitted]

Response #17: 

Saturdays are posting days, so anything I receive after sign-off on Friday usually must wait until Sunday.

I will share some general impressions. First, though, I usually only critique pastors when they write to me personally, or when a reader has a question about some teaching. If a pastor is clearly not a wolf in sheep's clothing, it's not my role to "fine tune" their teaching – that's between them and the Lord. Also, it's possible, to some degree, but not really fair to judge a whole ministry by one small snippet – like judging Ichthys from one response in one posting without a clue as to the whole corpus – and I obviously don't have the time to read everything someone else has done.

That said, this person, while perhaps superior to many evangelical and Protestant preachers in that he is actually quoting a lot of scripture and making doctrinal statements, does seem to suffer from the same sort of problem I've always disliked from the time I was a small boy, namely, lack of specificity. Even if a person quotes a lot of scripture and talks a lot about doctrine and doctrinal issues, what is the good unless 1) he makes it crystal clear what he thinks is true, and 2) he is correct about it, and 3) it's possible to learn by listening to him. I'm not absolutely sure from what you've shared what exactly and precisely he believes (too much vagueness and lack of specificity), but it does seem that he has some sort of OSAS position (though it's unclear exactly what that is), and while this style may be helpful for others, I don't think if I were a young Christian I could learn very much from it. I would be left with my mouth watering for the truth but be unsatisfied for lack of the food ever arriving on the table for all the noise in the kitchen. I feel this criticism is valid for what he says about spiritual growth as well. So while I am sympathetic with some of the things said here, I don't think I could personally recommend this ministry.

Apologies for the shortness of this. If you have a specific question about anything in particular written in these three installments, I'd be happy to address it.

Good to hear that you've been in touch with our brother! He is a precious jewel, and I dearly hope the two of you can be a blessing to each other (Prov.27:17).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hello, hope you are well, Dr. Bob.

Sorry for the delayed response. Anyway, thank you for the quick response, kind patience with me and for being a volunteer pro bono Bible teacher to us countless believers around the world. I could not thank you enough for the priceless guidance and encouragement we receive from your labor of love in the Word.

Of course, you made things clearer as usual. How you answer my questions depends on how you understand them in the way they are presented to you. Pretty much depends in my end on how I arrange the words that I combine to form the questions I sent you. I suppose my facility of the English language leaves a lot to be desired. Even so, I am just so grateful to the Lord to be able to communicate with you, a fellow believer who no doubt loves the Lord with all that he is. And in proving that love toward God went to great lengths and precision to know what He is truly saying in His Word in its original version so that his life would be lived as close enough to the kind of life that the Lord desires from His people. I am just so lucky to avail of your first-rate teaching in growing one's faith and strengthening one's relationship with our loving Lord for free; and discover your site where truth seekers can find what they are looking for, and also, in the process, be in a venue to have the opportunity to minister to like-minded siblings in the Lord in prayer as they are able to find out about each others' circumstances.

By the way, sir, I try to be of service to fellow believers in my tiny spot in this corner of the world. But so far the few who came asking and listened never returned. Maybe they don't like what they heard. Maybe they came just to confirm that what I believe is different from theirs. Maybe they prefer uniformity by conforming to the familiarity of their group's beliefs . It ceased to bother me one tiny bit, I am used to being ignored. My Lord valued me more than anything before the world begun, just like He valued everybody else - that's what matters to me. Staying faithful to Him and His Word is what's important to me.

Kindly comment on the following numbered situations (and on my own brief thoughts in parentheses):

1. X corrected Y for doing what only an authorized minister does. The Lord Jesus gave authority only to a local church [Matt.28:18-20]. The local church use that authority by appointing/"calling" pastors to minister to her. In short, the Lord "calls" and gives authority to minister through the local church. When a church "calls" a pastor it is like the Lord Himself gives the order through the "laying on of hands" of the presbytery during ordination. Only these types are qualified ministers, they are "gifts" from the Lord to His body [Eph.4:11 "gave" = gift]. Y is not authorized, called, ordained, and a gift from God to the church, so he must stop pretending to be so.


a. Matt.28:18-20 does not say that Jesus passed the authority given to Him for having defeated death, sin and the demons to the Apostles. He gave them an order.

b. References to "called" made by our Lord in the gospels are about the call to salvation while "chosen" are the saved. The "calling" mentioned in Peter's epistle refers to salvation. It is not about local churches appointing pastors by "call-ing". It becomes confusing sometimes when they use the phrase "many are called but few are chosen" when referring to the process of choosing a pastor from a number of candidates and the one selected is the one who is "called", not "chosen". E.g. "Pastor A is 'called' to the pastorate. He pastors CD Church. Mr. B still is not pastoring any church because he is not really 'called' to the ministry. God 'calls' through the local church. That is how one knows that he is truly 'called' by God to the ministry" You do not hear them say "chosen to the pastorate", "chosen to pastor _ church", or "God chooses through the church".

c. "Laying on of hands" are symbolic gestures of passing something which begun during Moses time [an offender laying hands on the head of the sacrifice symbolizing his passing of his trespasses/guilt to the animal offering or Aaron giving authority to priests by laying his hands on them], done by Jesus to heal the sick, the apostles passing the gift of the Holy Spirit to the believer, and in the pastoral epistles for elders or Timothy passing the pastor/teacher gift to the one who is being ordained - all of these happen before the completion of the writing of Scriptures.] Even before the completion of the revelation of the Scriptures during the NT times the gift of the Holy Spirit to the believer and His giving of gifts to the same at the moment of salvation, although the believer discovers his particular gift/s later on upon maturing spiritually.

d. The sense I get from reading not just v.11 of Ephesians 4 but also further to v.16, is that the office of a pastor-teacher is a great responsibility. These groups mentioned in v.11 are assigned by the Lord a great responsibility towards the Church, not a status symbol. Elsewhere, like in the Acts, the Bereans checked the Scriptures to make sure the Apostles are not lying. Obviously what that means is that the Scriptures is the authority and standard - what the pastor-teacher says is to be believed if the Scriptures agree with it. The great apostle Paul gave strict qualifications before a believers becomes pastor-teacher.

Believers are to "submit to one another" and to "honor all men" in the epistles. That sounds respecting one another and "preferring" other over self. Maybe that is not enough respect for these people. Making Eph.4:11 say what it does not say brings to mind the wrong idea of superiority of the clergy over the laity - that the pastors deserve more respect than the non-pastors. The majority of believers are not gifted to be teachers - there are many other gifts though - and this gift is rare says Paul in 1 Cor. 12 that is why it is necessary to treat it [and other similar rare gifts] with special honor, special modesty, and as indispensable. The emphasis is on the gifts not the gift holder. James mentions this gift together with the warning not to teach if one is not gifted to teach because of the great responsibility and accountability.)

2. X advised Y to stop being bitter and instead should raise his hands and be on his knees in prayer of repentance so that he will stop defiling many, referring to Hebrews 12:12-15. Y's actions in arrogating himself to a divine function obtained only through the permission of the authorized scriptural local church and her authorized pastor-teachers is an offense against the Bride of Christ and the Lord Himself. Y's being unemployed is a divine discipline. If he did not taught unscriptural doctrines, which are different and even against established church doctrines based on scriptures, he would still be employed in church. Y is in bitterness because his position was taken away because of grave misconduct in endangering the faith of other believers, just like a child who is having a tantrum because his toys were taken away from him or privileges suspended because of bad behavior.

BUT: Hebrews 12:12,13 talks about getting back to the race mentioned in v.1, not about praying. The hands and knees are to be raised and strengthened for running. The verse did not say the hands are to be folded nor the knees to stay on the ground in a prayer pose. "Bitterness" refers to turning to idols and away from the Lord mentioned in Deut.29:18. The Hebrews writer encourages his recipients to focus on Jesus - chapter 12:2, and not lose faith - chapter 11:6. They were reminded that the Lord Jesus Christ is to be their only focus being their leader, guide, example in remaining faithful and that they should not go back to the tradition they left.

Wishing you a blessed day ahead!

Your student and brother in the Lord,

Response #18: 

Thank for you all of your good and encouraging words, my friend! Your English is great (better than that of many of my university students). It is not an uncommon thing for communication to have some wrinkles that need to be ironed out when done via email especially, and most particularly where we are talking about fine points of doctrine and interpretation that 99% of Christians don't understand in any case.

Thanks for sharing these two Q/A's with me. It gives me some idea of the persecution you are undergoing for the Name of Jesus Christ. While it is no doubt hard to endure, there is nothing more blessed and more eternally rewarded than suffering for Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 5:41).

Your responses were excellent. I have no criticisms to make. You have an excellent method for bringing the issue back to the truth, and I have to commend you for your complete objectivity and refusal to "rise to the bait" when these complaints were clearly meant to irritate you. It reminds me of our Lord's patience with the Pharisees, and there is no better model for us to follow than Him. Nice job!

The authority of the pastor-teacher is another one of those important doctrines wherein the middle of the road has to be firmly held to otherwise a person/group is apt to drive into the ditch on one side or the other. On the one hand, it is certainly true that unless said teacher's authority is accepted and his teaching believed, there can be no spiritual growth. Groups who treat the pastor as a slave, dishonor him, force him to do all manner of things that have nothing whatsoever to do with studying and teaching the Word of God have little chance of growing spiritually. But of course the pastor-teacher also has to be doing his job, he has to be properly prepared, and he has to be teaching the truth. For on the other hand, groups who set the pastor-teacher on too high of a pedestal, treating him and his pronouncements more like that of a pope or a catholic cardinal, bishop or priest, are likely to be misled very easily and drawn into cult like behavior if he is not teaching the truth through lack of preparation or lack of interest (or from whatever negative motivation – most cult leaders and not even Christians, after all).

When all goes well and the pastor is doing things the right way and the congregation is respecting and valuing him for what he does but not abnegating their responsibility to learn the Bible and ask reasonable questions, this group can grow. But it is very easy to get off the road. Even a "good pastor" can get too full of himself if treated with excessive adoration; and even a "good congregation" can become overly and unnecessarily rebellious over teaching they have a hard time accepting. As long as both sides always understand that this is not about them but about Jesus Christ, His Church, His Word, and God's will, that we are nothing but the Lord is everything, it OUGHT to work out well. After all, we have things that in OT times they could only dream of: the entire Word of God complete and available to even the poorest of the poor; the Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering us all, and gifting us all too for the benefit of the whole Church and our own eternal reward when we utilize these gifts as we should, and freedom to pursue the truth without any veil obscuring our faces – we are free from all of the burdens of the Law.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:1 NKJV

So keep up the great work, my friend! Any time a Christian decides to place the truth of Jesus Christ in first place, there will be opposition, ostracism and persecution – but Jesus Christ is fully sufficient to provide everything we need to endure all such things, and do what He wants us to do.

"Your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" (Rev.1:9),

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Happy new year professor.

It's been quite a while since we last communicated, how's the ministry going? How have you been sir? How's your family and friends? I hope you're in good health.

Dear professor do you have anything to say about Evangelicalism? Is it biblical to practice Christianity in a more organized or cooperate form? Do we as believers have a collective responsibility to establish cell groups meetings?

I met up this certain individual who was saying the righteous new Earth refers to all the people who obey God and blessed by him, according to this fellow he defined Kosmos as the unbelieving community is this in line with the Bible?

Response #19: 

How is you mom and grandma? I have been praying for them – and for your growth and preparation.

I'm doing well. Health is better, though still some issues with lungs and hip. Job could be a lot worse – it's a blessing to have it!

Evangelicals, as I'm sure you know, are a genre of Protestants (not really a denomination, though some have that word in their title), one which puts an emphasis on out-reach. They tend towards rapture, OSAS, and hyper-witnessing type fundamentalism.

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:16 NKJV

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV

Both of these verses, correctly read and understood, make it clear that it is good for believers to get together with each other when that is 1) legitimately for Christ (first passage) and 2) has as its purpose the edification and encouragement of the Body (second passage). Neither thing is true of most churches. Nothing here nor in any other passage of scripture suggests that any sort of formal or institutionalized organization is even allowed, let alone recommended, let alone mandated. And nothing here nor in any other passage of scripture suggests that getting together for its own sake is even a good thing, let alone mandated:

"When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them."
Isaiah 1:12-14 NIV

"I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me."
Amos 5:21 NIV

"Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD Almighty, "and I will accept no offering from your hands."
Malachi 1:10 NIV

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.
1st Corinthians 11:17 NIV

I will have much to say about all this in BB 6B: Ecclesiology (stub at the link has links to related postings already available). Please see the most recent posting at the link, Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality II, for comments on all this and for other pertinent links.

The new earth "where righteousness dwells" and the new heavens will be created by the Lord after the destruction of the present heavens and earth at the end of the Millennium (see the link). Only those who have chosen for the Lord will be there (all rebels, angelic and human, will be in the lake of fire). The allegorizing interpretation you report is far from the truth.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2019, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Just an update on how things are going. I just finished talking with Mr. Omo on how I finally decided to leave the church I was going to. He was a great help to me and encouraged me very much in this good but painful transition. I praise the Lord for him, and for you as well.

I left the church because, as I knew all along, it just wasn't possible for me to grow spiritually there. I was only going for fellowship, but that wasn't working out. For the past month or so I have been asking the Lord that this would be a year of spiritual growth for me. And He helped me to get what I asked for-an answer. He has been telling me to leave the church. That is the first step. Going there only made me frustrated and miserable/depressed. As I told Mr. Omo I was always quiet and could never be myself as I always had to limit what I thought and said, and it was starting to make me sick to my stomach having no other believers who I could relate to who were serious about truth. Using your term, this group of believers have the whole "truth smorgasbord" mentality where everything goes and is up for interpretation. Truth is just not a priority there at all, although they would deny this. I know for a fact that if they really sought the truth with open and honest minds they would come to it, but that's just it. Nobody is looking because nobody cares.

Now I know this is the path the Lord is taking me, to be alone with Him growing up in the word until He brings other things along. But its still extremely painful for me to leave as I went many places with these believers at church. Some of them I have known for a couple years, which makes leaving all the more harder. I know the Lord has the right person out there for me, and I pray that He would reveal her to me at the right time when I am ready. First comes spiritual growth, and then ministry and marriage will come by the Lords grace.

In the end it's the biggest test of my faith I have ever faced in my life, loneliness. But its necessary. I haven't been able to sleep well lately and this whole situation has brought me a lot of grief and tears, but I know that only beautiful things will come out of all of this. Regardless of what my parents and all the church people think of me being isolated for a while, I must continue to press on and let the Lord lead me to wherever He is taking me. Some people will ask me why I'm doing what I'm doing because to them it will look sad and strange, but I'm gonna have to learn to stop caring about what man thinks and care right now only about what God thinks. Laodicea just doesn't understand.

Oh yes, by the way, I'm taking notes now from your studies. I didn't do it before because it was never my thing but I came to realize I'd be better off doing so. As small a thing as it is, I feel as if that's another answer to prayer from the Lord as taking notes will help me to retain more truth and remember it when I need it.

One more thing. If a believer with an open mind searching for truth comes to me to ask about your site, do you think The Coming Tribulation would be a good series to recommend them? I mention this one because it had the greatest impact on me. Sweet to learn about it is, but bitter to experience it will be.

Sent in His love

Response #20: 

I'm happy to hear that you are determined to put the truth first in you life, my friend. The Spirit definitely produces divisions on behalf of all who genuinely love the Lord more than anything (Matt.10:32-39). The red hot cannot abide with the lukewarm forever without cooling off themselves. New wine doesn't endure long in old wineskins.

I too get this same reaction, palpable nausea, when I'm forced for whatever reason to endure such pablum for any length of time – and so I avoid it like the plague now.

I know that the Lord can provide for you, my friend, absolutely everything you need, including the close human contact we all crave – but it is worthless if the person or persons are only anchors dragging us down. If it His will for you to be alone in the wilderness for a time, remember that He has a purpose and can bring you through just fine. At all such times, it is critically important to take extra pains to walk closely with Jesus Christ. He, after all, is the One we love more than life. So when we are alone or feeling lonely, it is Jesus who is our stay and support – it is the Lord who is our delight. This is seen most perspicuously in the case of David in the psalms, a man who was on his own for a very long time, and even when he had followers, experienced the loneliness of command and the pressures thereof. But as with Abraham, the Lord was His friend.

One other piece of advice. If you have been in the habit of consuming a good deal of your time with that church and social activities related thereto, it would be prudent, at least in the short run, to develop a durable and disciplined routine which keeps the hours filled to good effect. A set time for Bible reading, for prayer, for Bible study, for exercise, for self-improvement (especially if advantageous for future ministry as in learning Greek, e.g.) would all be good as a framework for such a schedule. A lot of free time when you feel (because of the lack of such a self-imposed schedule) you really don't have to do anything in particular is tailor-made for the devil to work on your emotions in a negative way and lead you into trouble. Given that there really is SO MUCH worth doing, so many to pray for, no end to the time we could profitably put into the Bible, and many other things which would be helpful for us if only peripherally, it's not necessary to fall into this trap – and a good idea to plan to avoid it.

No doubt the Lord has plans for you, my friend. Be pleased to make yourself available to Him for carrying them out. That's the way to earn rewards that last forever, the smallest of which is infinitely more valuable than all your earthly hopes and dreams. The Tribulation is fast approaching, and there will be a great need then of truly prepared men to help the lukewarm who are taken by surprise get up to speed in time to resist what is coming.

Regarding Ichthys, I'm happy to have anyone start anywhere! Everyone has their own particular interests, and it's also true that not everyone is ready to receive what's in, e.g., Coming Tribulation, as their first exposure to serious Bible teaching. In a vacuum, I recommend the Peter series as a starter.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

One last thing Mr. Luginbill.

Thank you for your quick response by the way, that was fast!

Just a concern that came up recently.

One challenge about being alone not going to church is that of accountability. Someone just recently told me that me being alone for too long would not be good as I would have no one to hold me accountable. I guess they mean behavior wise? Sin, etc? I told this person that I believed the Lord would bring the right fellowship around at the right time, but till then being alone is going to be required for me. I know that you don't go to a physical church, so how would you respond to this?

Response #21: 

Actually, so-called "accountability" is one of the reasons I'm glad you are OUT of that "church". We believers are accountable to the Lord, not to each other or to some church organization. We live for Him and live to serve Him. If we can't get ourselves to do the right thing for Him – even if we can't see Him with our physical eyes, He is right here beside us and living in our hearts at all times – then we need to work on our priorities and motives. But the WORST possible thing is to do what someone else thinks is "the right thing" in order to please some human being or human group. Even if it were really 100% the right thing (and in fact it will be tainted somehow), we will be doing it for the wrong reason. Giving a thousand dollars to charity out of guilt or with the idea that one is buying one's way into heaven is worse than a waste of money: it is an affront to God. Giving a dollar to a person with a genuine need out of a love for Jesus Christ is a million times more valuable. It is hard for many of us to stop bad behavior and/or be consistent with good behavior without someone looking over our shoulder (that's why AA was invented, e.g.). But unless we do what's right the right way and for the right reason, we are wasting time and effort. We can't subcontract out our free will. This life is about what we choose. It's better to get some bloody noses trying to make our own decisions than it is to sell ourselves to someone else in what amounts to slavery. There's no happiness or spiritual success down that road at all.

Jesus Christ is in us. Our job is to think and speak and live like we believe that's true – which it is.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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