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Mutual Encouragement in Christ IX

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Question #1:  

Thank you so much for your website, it is a great help!

I have your chronological list of Bible chapters in the order they were written. But if I wanted to read and understand the Bible in order of the occurrence of events, how would that differ from the order or writing?

Response #1: 

Hello Friend,

Thanks for the good words!

As the text in the posting referenced tries to make clear (see also the link: "Events Bible"), this is a heavy lift because books overlap so much. So for example 1/2 Kings and 1/2 Chronicles cover similar events, and Chronicles technically goes all the way back to Genesis.

Are you familiar with the "Harmony of the Gospels" genre? There is some bibliography at the link. Essentially, these sorts of books take the four gospels and attempt to organize all of the material in just such a chronological way. It's not so easy to do, even with only these four books, and there are many disagreements over precisely how this should be done for a great variety of passages/events.

One finds the same problem in the history of Israel where, for example, the events of Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all occur at pretty much the same time. There is historical material in Isaiah which also occurs in the book of Kings. Some books, such as Psalms, definitely have some historical references (e.g., Ps.51:1; 60:1), but trying to pin down others may only be possible only loosely within king David's lifetime; some Psalms are anonymous. So parceling out that book would be difficult. On top of that, we also have the issue of prophecy. Where / when should we read that? Much prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. In short, one would have to do a massive cut and paste job on the Old Testament to create such a Bible, and in my estimation after doing so about 60% of the material would have to be left in the "don't know where this goes exactly" pile. This is a problem in the NT as well. We know that the gospel events occur first, that Acts follows, and that Revelation is last; but when it comes to the precise order of all of the epistles, there is disagreement (and in my opinion, much conventional wisdom is incorrect; e.g., the book of James is actually later than usually imagined – we can tell if we understand that he quotes Paul at Jas.4:5 [see the link]).

There is value when reading the Bible in also consulting some source which will give basic information about the dates of the events each book may contain (a good study Bible such as the Kenneth Barker / Zondervan series will have such info), but I don't know of anyone who's ever tried to do a "Harmony" of the OT (see first link above for something on the Pauline epistles).

Apologies for not being able to give you a more satisfying answer – but I do commend your interest in seeking the truth of the Word. See the link: "Read your Bible"

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have been reading about the Genesis Gap and I am beginning to understand some of it.

My problem is, I need to understand the Hebrew and Greek that will give me better insight of the word of God.

I have the Strong and I just wondering, if there is another Hebrew and Greek concordance that can help me to learn the Old Testament and New Testament better?

Thank you,

Response #2: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

As far as Bible concordances go which correlate an English version to Greek and Latin words in the text, Strong's is very good. I also think highly of the NASB concordance (ed. Olson and Thomas). These are tools and they are helpful, but they can't really lead to understanding Greek and Hebrew beyond becoming familiar with some basic vocabulary. Here are some links to where these and some related issues are discussed on the site:

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations VIII

Studying Greek and Hebrew

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations IV

Greek Language Resources

Hebrew Language Resources

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:  

Thank you Bob, your words are encouraging.

Sometimes I find it's hard to know what to do and even at that moment when your in the midst of a situation sometimes you think your doing right and it's not tell down the road you realize maybe it wasn't or vise versa. I'm finding through this experience that I am feeling more confident of myself and other people's opinions are of less care of mine. For example when __ started in about his concerns questioning __'s decision, I would have in the past defended it but I held back. I wasn't needing to worry about his opinion especially after the way he was talking to me. I didn't allow him to pull me into a nonsense conversation that would have gone no where good. There is a saying I tell my kids alot. Evil fighting with Evil gets you nowhere!

Well we got good news. [omitted]

But this morning we woke up to no school. We are having historical flooding. Idaho national guard is here helping people stranded out of there homes. A lot of homes under water and mud slides everywhere. Every road out of here is closed. We are safe. We live up away from the river high on a nob. __ has been working all day loading sand, cleaning mud slides and ditches with the excavator. One of the guys that was part of ___'s problems, well his house is 3ft under water.

___ finished the Tribulation. He absolutely loved it. He was sitting on the couch this morning, looked right at me and said "I'm having withdrawals" He asked me to print the Bible basics. As soon as I did he got called out to work due to all the flooding. He wasn't pleased to say the least. He had taken the day off to go to a dentist appointment later in the day and really wanted to dig into the Bible Basics. I don't know what I'm going to do with him when he runs out of material to read, although he did say he'll just read it again. I'm so thankful for you and I thank God everyday for sending us to you. I was reading some of your last postings and I wanted to say how I so much love the way you respond to others. There is genuine kindness and truth. I really like how you say it for what it is and no beating around the bush. Straight forward! In a good way!

Hope your week is going good and your about over your cold.

Response #3: 

Thanks for the update – and praise the Lord for this good news! I was hoping and praying that this mess would calm down and settle out without any more fireworks.

Great to hear that you are high and dry. A lot of folks are hurting, I hear. I'm very happy that the Lord took care of you by giving you a safe place. My friend Curt of Bible Academy, (link) I've probably mentioned, had to move from a place he and his family really liked – less than a year later it was under water but not the new place. God is good!

I'm tickled to hear that __ is enjoying these materials! There is a lot of material on the site so running out probably isn't going to happen overnight (just getting through the back email postings would take a great deal of time; three long verse-by-verse postings covering the synoptic gospels and John coming this summer [now posted at the link]). Re-reading is all to the good as well. I re-read it all too – and it's good for me too.

I'm feeling fine now, so thanks for your prayers! Keeping you and your family in mine as well day by day.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

And then, Professor, just some final guidance on strategy. I have gone through everything and I am ready to begin this new chapter in preparation.

Young's "Introduction to the Old Testament" - does the year of publican matter? I can see there are for example editions from 1977 and 1989 available. Or are these just reprints?

Response #4: 

If not mistaken, Young died in 1968, so any changes will only be as good as those making them; if there is no reviser mentioned, these are probably slight and of little moment.

Question #5:  

One thing that I wanted to set in order are additional resources you have recommended - dictionaries, lexicons and encyclopedias. Just as I started to use lexicons on a regular basis (BDB, HALOT, BDAG), it is perhaps time I should start consulting these too. You have provided me with a strong list now, but I wanted to ask if you could in literally just a few words say what each is best for and how it has served you in your work.

Response #5: 

BDB [link] is my "go to" lexicon for definitions, usage and parallel passages in Hebrew. It is not the only lexicon I use; for example, variations of Gesenius' lexicon show that the scope of any given word may be differently defined. If the definition is at issue, always consult more than one dictionary. I seldom if ever use HALOT; it is my tertiary "go to" (probably actually quaternary). BDAG [link]: I have the 1957 version; when I use it (rarely) it is generally to see what extra-biblical but biblically related late Greek references they may list for words I'm researching.

Question #6:  

Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon – Should use it in my New Testament reading as an extension of BDAG?

Response #6: 

When I look up words, I generally start with LSJ; that tells you what the word actually means in Greek; of course, occasionally, there are special twists in any corpus or author, and the NT is no exception, but it is rare that LSJ doesn't mention these for the NT and Christian literature.

Question #7:  

International Bible Encyclopedia - A general reference resource for broad usage, a starting point? Anything that it has really helped you with in particular? So far I only used it to check historical figures - ancient kings, etc.

Response #7: 

I use the Interpreters Bible Encyclopedia. But if I were purchasing today I might have gotten ISBE instead (don't think it was reasonably available lo those many years ago when I bought the other one). Either one or both and/or a good Bible dictionary (Smith's is good; Unger's less so – because he only revised materials) would be good to consult if researching some historical or cultural point.

Question #8:  

Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary.

I've not got this one - worth getting?

Response #8: 

No. I actually have this (or did); my dad had bought it very many years ago. It seems to be a good resource for constructing sermons, but that's about it.

Question #9:  

Oxford Classical Dictionary.

I got this, but I haven't used it yet - where would it be most helpful?

Response #9: 

There are a number of editions of this (I have several) and they are all good. It's an excellent starting point for any question on Greco-Roman civilization or Classical literature. Then again, Wikipedia isn't a bad place to check either.

Question #10:  

Oxford Companion to Classical Literature

I haven't got this one either - worth getting now?

Response #10: 

I really like this one, but the older edition by Harvey (which you link to) is better than the new one (which is also good). This is an excellent place to get a quick and yet useful take on most Classical subjects and authors.

Question #11:  

Smith - "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities"

You recommended this one highly - where would it serve me best in the study now?

Response #11: 

I only use it as a reference work. If you read an article a day it would take you twenty years to get through the whole thing (and I'm not much on that approach for anyone who doesn't have a photographic memory).

Question #12:  

Final question, and this is admittedly not essential, but I wanted find out - would you recommend any website where Greek New Testament is read out loud? I read both Hebrew and Greek out loud (for Hebrew I use https://www.torahclass.com/audio-bible-in-hebrew) and it has helped. Hopefully my Greek pronunciation is acceptable for the purpose of study, but I wanted to ask if you would recommend anything on this.

Response #12: 

I have a few things (including a few new things) listed on the Greek and on the Hebrew resource pages at Ichthys; if you find something better in searching out there, let me know!

Question #13:  

Good evening Bob. I trust you and your family are well. It's been almost a year and I was called on by two Jehovah's Witnesses who invited me to their annual Memorial. They told me my friend was in a different territory or district.

When they return, I'd like to ask them about their "two witness" policy regarding sexual assault. I know it's based upon Deuteronomy 19:15 and Matthew 18:15–17 but it beggars understanding that anyone with the intent to sexually assault someone would commit it when or where they can be seen/caught.

Deuteronomy 19:15 King James Version (KJV)
15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any
sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the
mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Matthew 18:15-17 King James Version (KJV)
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his
fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that
in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he
neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and
a publican.

I know this is the Word of God, but I struggle to accept it logically.


Response #13: 

I'm not absolutely sure I understand the question.

Deuteronomy 19:15 is part of the legal code of the Mosaic Law and, while a perfect standard, is not required to be adopted by modern states. Also, it gives a principle with the purpose of avoiding false accusation. There can today, for example, be witnesses and evidence that don't require personal viewing of a situation, and that was certainly also true in Israel. As with our laws, they state principles, but every actual situation is composed of a diverse set of facts which a judge and/or jury must sift through to come to the truth as best they can. This was the case in Israel as well (at least when the Law was being applied properly). I would also point out that nothing is impossible for the Lord. He is capable of making sure that any perpetrator gets caught and punished; He is also capable of making sure that any falsely accused individual is protected and vindicated. He certainly acts in behalf of those who belong to Him. That is the main point that I always like to hammer home. It's easy for believers to get upset by hypothetical situations which have not, in fact, happened to them personally, or by situations in the news which have to do with people they don't even know (and so of necessity they know very much less about the totality of the circumstances than news reports might lead them to assume). But we know that God is control of everything. Indeed, we know that He has ordained everything and that everything has a perfect purpose because His plan is perfect, right down to the smallest detail for each and every one of us. Sometimes, especially when "bad things" happen, it's hard to retain that perspective. Job lost it. And when he lost it, he lost it entirely. But we are given to see that God was in control before, during and after – and that everything came out alright in the end; and, actually, better than it had been before. A hard perspective to retain when we are on the firing line, but it is always true for the Lord who works absolutely everything together for good . . . for those who love Him (Rom.8:28).

Matthew 18:15-17 is not a legal-system passage, even though the Lord uses the precedent of the above in order that the reproved individual might not have a leg to stand on.

Hope you are well, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Good morning Bob. Thanks for your prompt and comprehensive response. The WTBTS has been under attack in several countries for their failure to forward complaints of sexual assaults to the police and instead deal with them internally which invariably dismisses these allegations for lack of witnesses based upon scripture.

Sexual assaults are predominately committed where there are no witnesses, ergo the victims are victimized a second time by the WTBTS while the accused goes free. A Kingdom Hall becomes a rapists haven.

How many crimes are committed in private, out of sight of others? The scriptures in question provide them with a "Get out of jail free" card. I struggle with that.


Response #14: 

Oh, OK. Now I see what you meant.

All manner of groups use all manner of Bible verses to justify all manner of false teaching.

I think it's pretty clear in the Bible that sin is sin, that crime is crime, and that justifying crime and sin is evil in the extreme. I doubt that even the JWs would want to argue with that. And sin is sin and crime is crime and evil is evil, no matter how many people see it -- God, of course, sees it all. Using a Mosaic Law verse designed to prevent unwarranted false accusation to avoid doing what is right is despicable in the extreme.

People are falsely accused. Twice? Wouldn't that be "two witnesses"?

Also, I thought these people always had a team member with them. If the team member is the abuser (same-sex abuse then?), why would a person continue on that team? In fact, why would anyone stay in a group that justified violence against them? How could this possibly happen more than once? Once is bad enough, of course, but just because the organization doesn't wish to report crime doesn't mean the victim cannot.

So in a sense this does go back to individuals who make the terrible decision to have anything to do with this group. And especially so if they don't realize this after such a horrendous event.

So I don't see this as having anything to do with the Bible – which is clear on this point and the more important points which surround it. People who misuse the Bible and abuse the Bible to the extent that this group does aren't going to be swayed by anything the Bible says, teaches or means. If they find something they don't like, they merely ignore it . . . or change it.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:  

Thanks Bob. Apparently the scope of these crimes is pandemic and although I don't know specifics, I gather that these assaults usually involve one adult male and one young female without witnesses. The victims are ashamed to report their assaults to the police and trust the Elders will act to protect them. However, the opposite is true, they protect the abuser with Deuteronomy 19:15 and/or Matthew 15:18-17 and do not report these allegations to the police.

"Did leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses cover up child sex abuse? In San Francisco, a woman is suing the Jehovah's Witnesses for failing to protect her from a known child abu... "


Response #15: 

That's really not so surprising, is it?

I do get what you are saying. But there's little we can do to guard against others misusing the Bible – especially when we are talking about groups who have no problem ignoring it completely and/or even changing it when it suits their purposes. Personally, I don't find anything in either passage that I would find persuasive as a secular person or even a cult adherent (some imagination necessary here for both of these) to make me believe that they allowed either non-reporting of crime or the underlying abuse. If a person in their group sees it differently, I can only say that this is only because said person has been so brainwashed that they would believe anything – and go along even without these two passages. So, again, I don't see this as having anything to do with the Bible but everything to do with a group which has no use for the truth it contains. One would hope that all so abused or aware of such abuse would draw the correct conclusion: get out ASAP!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:  

Thanks Bob. It's disheartening to think my friend would not report a sexual molestation incident to the police in favor of protecting the WTBTS. I hope he hasn't had to deal with that as an Elder but I will pose it to him f he ever calls again. This is a guy who I think of as the most moral person I've ever known, but he's been in the so-called "Trith" since childhood so he's also a victim.

Thank you for your time. It's greatly appreciated.


Response #16: 

If he's a good man, it boggles the mind how a clearly misapplied passage or two could wipe away the Bible's overall meaning as well as all decency and common sense.

Maybe there's something for you to be able to use there.

So maybe – for those who may be reached – rather than needing to apologize for scripture its power can be employed to undermine the lie.

In Jesus who is the truth.

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Hello brother,

I accidentally came across your sight, what's interesting is that I've looked up articles everywhere on the web from Christian sites, and all you find on google is mainstream calvinist sites, this paints a picture that there are no other Christians.

Anyway, I wrote you a long detailed email and deleted it, because I believe God has been telling me to trust him, and teaching me to trust him, and I have been falling very short, instead of patiently praying and studying scripture (though I do constantly pray), I have been asking questions to every biblical Christian I find, largely seeking assurance, and reading every article I find.

I have read the NT once and due to some troubling passages now know about every view and argument on major doctrines that exists, I believe I would have been healthier spiritually to just pray and reread and reread scriptures instead of seeking every-bodies opinion, but maybe this is a path I had to walk.

I believe I was on the very edge of apostasy, due to refusing to let go of some sins after being saved through reading Matthew, and praise King Jesus Christ, it seems evident that I am not lost, though I have been through great sorrow and despair over this, I am working on not giving into doubts and trusting God on this so I've decided not to dig into this with you, as I've done so more than I should (after receiving many signs from God to just trust him) already with others, yet I would like your insight on 2 things.

1. "a seared conscience" and what exactly this is, sometimes I fall into worries wondering if God forbid this is me due to my constant worry and confusion after having immediately strayed so far away for so long after being saved, though I stay ever aware that the evil one will exploit every weakness to make me stumble by any means. Due to what I've been through and great confusion due to what you call "secular Christianity" and striving for sound doctrine, my discernment, which I was in the beginning very confident in, now is shaky at best. I have experienced thinking certain things are perfectly ok for that others have convinced me or scared me into thinking otherwise, and I have likewise probably done the same to others with good intent. I have also been evangelizing to others, earlier on just to close friends and family when given good opportunities, but lately have been feeling responsible to mention Jesus to everyone, but often feel convicted or out of place, especially when going on about Biblical phrases etc., when I am myself very immature in spirit. I pray not to preach a false gospel, and ask forgiveness and enlightenment for my ignorance in anything I mis-speak.

2. I come from a background of R.C. which I never even remotely fully believed in. I have many dear family members who are devout catholics, have decent Biblical knowledge (for a catholic), and truly love and trust Jesus to the best of their knowledge. I often fear for their salvation, yet feel conviction when out of love attacking all their practices and beliefs such as Mary, "saints", rosary etc.
I also come from a small town of a few thousand people in the Balkans where there is not, nor has there ever been, any church but the catholic church. Does this mean no one is saved there and was never saved? Also, this can also be asked about most of the world for almost 1500 years...
I know me and you are not the judge, yet this is truly threatening to be a great stumbling block for me being from this background, and in such a tight community which is catholic. Calling people out Biblically out of love and trying to get them to focus on Jesus and let go of some of their ways is extremely difficult for me without attacking catholicism to the very core, which sometimes makes me feel uneasy and convicted.

After all, this was almost exclusively the church for close to 1500 years. Also, I am not saying they are all saved, but for example the "dear" family members I described above, are a rare few that actually have decent Bible knowledge, are literate about their beliefs, and regardless of all the controversial stuff, they truly believe in and love Jesus, and believe that salvation is by his sacrifice for them.

Any insight or advice would be much appreciated.

God bless you and your family in Jesus name.

Response #17: 

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance.

Let me assure you first of all that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are saved and not in apostasy; believers are saved; only unbelievers are not saved.

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

Apostasy is the complete loss of faith in Jesus Christ – and it is very evident from this email that you are greatly concerned about your relationship with Jesus Christ.

The best defense against spiritual decline is spiritual growth. Reading the Bible is important, but learning the truth in depth is the key. That requires giving one's attention to a good, solid, sound teaching ministry, learning what is taught AND believing it. Only what is both true AND believed is usable by the Holy Spirit. So knowing all the different angles theologians debate about doctrines ABC is not going to produce growth. In fact, for those who are not pastor-teachers and not prepared to teach, this can actually stymie growth – because it makes it very difficult to believe anything.

The RC church background has been a stumbling block for many, but I know of a good number of ex-RC's who have overcome this impediment and gone on to grow and produce for the Lord. I'm copying my dear friend here (hoping he can give some insight into the RC-specific questions you are asking).

You are most welcome at Ichthys, my friend! I encourage you to set yourself to reading the studies available here – and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:  


Response #18: 

Dear Friend,

I disagree with your "you believe you can stray away until it leads you into apostasy which is the sin unto death". I would suggest you read the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death" in BB 3B. These are two different things, and they only apply in the most egregious instances in any case.

As to website visibility, this site has been "on air" since 1997, and over the years I have done what I thought prudent and allowable to do to try and increase its visibility, but there is a great deal of competition out there, and more every day, and there are ways to promote visibility for which I have neither the time nor the resources, and in many cases would not feel comfortable doing in any case. But it does seem that God is working this all out together for good. On the one hand, individuals like yourself who keep seeking continue to find Ichthys. On the other hand, I am far behind on many projects as it is, and being bombarded by emails from individuals who are really not serious about spiritual growth would make things even worse. Better that I have the time to correspond with people like yourself who have struggled to find Ichthys in the first place.

If you keep growing, you will gain conviction in the truth and become more valuable to the Spirit in evangelizing (and everything else He wants you to set you hand to). So while everyone should be eager to share Christ as you are, spiritual growth to the point of maturity really ought to be every new Christian's top priority (or "every Christian who has newly decided to put the Lord first in his/her life").

On "conscience", it can be degraded, but it can also be cleansed. It can be seared, but it can also be repaired. Believing the truth and acting upon it is what is needed – spiritual growth again. Essentially, the degradation of the conscience is a synonym for the hardening of the heart (and vice versa; see the link). The fact that you are turning away from sin and seeking to grow are positive indications that whatever hardness was incurred from being far from the Lord is melting away (everything else you've written me supports that conclusion too).

As to the specifics of how to process and related to those still enmeshed in the RC church, I've forwarded this my good friend and I'm hoping he'll be able to give you some insights on that.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:  


Response #19: 

Well I hope the two of you get in touch. Did you receive the email he sent you? I know that Proton mail is a bit "squirrelly"; you may have to add him to your allowables for the message to reach you.

So, since you are not really asking for information but encouragement, let me point out that this is a matter of trust. You know what the Lord says, you know what the Bible teaches, you do believe it, but you have trouble believing it to the point of acting upon it consistently. That is a fight everyone fights from the beginning of the Christian life to the end. It's just that as we grow spiritually, we get better at fighting this fight. If the Lord appeared to you visibly at such moments of doubt and struggle and put His hand on your shoulder and told you it would be alright, no doubt you would be greatly reassured. In fact, that is just what He does, through the scriptures which are promises which He will never break, through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit who lives in you, through the prayers and encouragement of your brother and sister Christians, and, one hopes, through your own determined effort to believe and carry through in faith and trust what you know to be true.

Even so, as mentioned, I understand that this is a struggle we all face. What is the answer? Spiritual growth. First, you need to know more of what is actually the truth; then you need to believe more of what you know; then you need more and more daily experience in learning to crawl, then walk, then run, then fly. It doesn't happen overnight, and it also doesn't happen eclectically. If you want to be a world class soccer player, no doubt doing pushups might be helpful. But if all you do in your quest is pushups, never actually practicing the game and all of the myriad activities involved in becoming skilled, you're clearly not going to get anywhere. Similarly, if all one does is agonize over the problem one has and matters related thereto, there can never be any growth. Growth in general solves all problems. Problems are rarely solved by direct attack in the absence of generalized spiritual growth. And your candid description of your experience shows exactly why. Namely, it's not merely a matter of information; it's a question of what you believe AND how strong your faith has become. If faith has not grown through the process of general growth, there are some "hard nuts" which will never be cracked. So I commend your attention to a program of disciplined and daily Bible study with the object of achieving as much growth as possible as quickly as possible (see the link for some guidance on how to use Ichthys for that).

As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have nothing to worry about. Your salvation is assured as long as you are a believer (1Pet.1:5). The Lord loved you and died for you, and the Father loves you too and wants you to be saved – and you are saved, with nothing preventing you from life eternal as a child of God and a part of the Body of Jesus Christ. So abide in the love of the One who loved you so much He paid the entire price for all your sins and mine too (Jn.15:9-10).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1st John 4:18 NIV

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #20:  


Response #20: 

Every believer absolutely SHOULD carefully test out teaching ministries . . . in order to find the right one for them. When that right one is found, however, then is the time to suspend as much skepticism as possible – since you know at that point that "the fruit is good". Because only what you believe can profit you, and only if it is true. As my old pastor used to say, think of it as eating a fish. If you come across something difficult for you to swallow, put that bone aside for now – but don't let it stop you from eating the fish. Eating is believing.

On the sacrifice of Christ, it is in many ways ineffable. But it is fair to say that most Christians in our lukewarm era of Laodicea understand far less about what Jesus did for us on the cross – paying the penalty for our sins in the darkness by bearing them "in His body on the tree" (1Pet.2:24) – than what they should (best link at Ichthys: "The Blood of Christ").

On "just trusting" the Lord, we all need work on that; we can all grow in that. But what you have experienced is common to many believers out there today. The devil is good at sowing discord and at finding a way to get disparate messages on all manner of doctrines "out there" into the ether. A Christian who takes what I call the "Smorgasbord approach" will never end up well-nourished because he/she will never know what to believe. Generally speaking, the Spirit guides believers to safe places; not to fine-tuning multifarious doctrinal positions by analyzing the teachings of multiple ministries. Again, once you are confident He has led you to a safe place (which I firmly believe Ichthys to be), then the proper approach is to take in as much as possible as quickly as possible, believing and applying as much as possible. This process results in spiritual growth, and, ultimately, spiritual growth is the answer to everything. Things that were problematic before become, if not totally non-problematic, at least capable of being boxed up with godly perspective and dealt with in godly way. The quicker you can make your peace with doing this – if not at Ichthys then some other beneficial ministry (I also recommend Bible Academy at the link) – the happier you will be.

1) Evangelism: All Christians are responsible for sharing Jesus Christ, but only some are specially gifted to do so and will find this comprising their main ministry. Only by growing do we come to fully realize what our spiritual gifts are and what ministry the Lord may have for us. It's important to remember that the gospel is about Jesus Christ, not us. And it is the Holy Spirit who really does the evangelizing; we are just the medium. If we would wait until we are perfect to share Jesus, we will never share Jesus because we will never be perfect. If we want to be "better" in every godly way, spiritual growth is the only way to achieve this because real change always comes from the inside out and can never be effectively implemented by forcing change from outside. Whitewashing the tomb is never helpful. It may make us APPEAR less hypocritical when in fact it has made us more so. Do what you are called to do today with what God has given you today, and make it your policy to be more effective for Him day by day through daily spiritual growth.

As to audience, Jesus told us quite pointedly to avoid casting pearls before swine, not only because it is a fruitless exercise but also because it unnecessarily endangers the one casting the pearls. If someone expresses interest in the gospel, well and good: preach the gospel. If someone is clearly antagonistic to Jesus Christ, trying to force the good news down his/her throat will never work. Listen to the Spirit. One gets better at this with growth. Yes, we are close to the end. But that has always been the case in principle, and also is always the case where any individual is concerned: no one knows when his/her last day will be, but all who die without Jesus die without eternal life. So there has always been pressing necessity to share the truth. If you are feeling this more than even most Christians do, then this is perhaps an indication of what the Lord wants you to do with your life. But first things first. God uses prepared people. No one will come into the full fruits of the ministry the Lord has for him/her without first attaining spiritual maturity and passing a number of maturity tests to season them in preparation for the pressures of ministry. So once again are back to spiritual growth.

2) Salvation and the Spirit: All who believe in Jesus Christ are saved. You are saved as a believer whether you have doubts or not. The way to conquer doubt is to grow. The more truth you believe, the more solid your foundation becomes. One brick built upon another and carefully so produces a strong edifice. Sitting down and weighing one brick after another but never putting them into the structure with the mortar of faith doesn't lead anywhere. All who believe in Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is in you, no matter how you may feel about it (Rom.8:9). Feeling good and confident is great. But the devil is good a messing with our emotions. We learn as we grow that all this has nothing to do with how we feel as our emotions are a treacherous guide at best to where we are spiritually and how we are doing. With growth we come to learn that it is what we believe, the truth, that matters. And as we persevere in thinking, saying and doing what the Lord wills regardless of our feelings, our emotions will come to respond and "tag along" in the end. But if we go running off after them, making them our leader, that results in all manner of disaster. You are saved. Believe it. You have the Holy Spirit Believe it.

3) Calvinism and the Bible: I prefer the term "hyper-Calvinism" because these extremes of false interpretation are not his so much as his followers. Calvin has to be understood in terms of his times when the RC church was literally burning at the stake anyone who dared to speak as Calvin spoke. His main thrust was to emphasize what GOD does in opposition to the RC church's claim that works bring salvation. Works do not bring salvation; in fact, working for salvation blasphemes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God does elect us – those who choose to respond to Him. Calvin's followers in my view warped the good he did by casting out the principle of the image of God, free will, which is the whole point of human life on this earth: to choose for God the Father in Jesus Christ or not.

Please do not be distressed at how you feel reading the Bible (here we are talking about emotions again, responding to them instead of leading them); reading the Bible is good and important (see the link). But reading the Bible was never meant to replace teaching. The Lord has placed teachers in the Church for a reason, namely, the spiritual growth of the members of the Body of Christ (Eph.4:11-16). No Christian can be without a teacher and grow. Not even teachers – until after a long period of growth and preparation after many years they get to the point of being able to feed themselves and others. In my opinion, it's very easy to spot ministries capable of providing enough spiritual nutrition to produce growth as opposed to those which are only making noise. If you approach this in the Spirit, He will certainly guide you to a good place. But you do need a teacher. That is biblical (all of the epistles are teachers teaching their flock, e.g.). It is not a "lack of faith" to acknowledge what the Bible has to say on this score.

4) Christian lifestyle: You broach a lot of issues here. I will do my best (feel free to write back about this one). First and foremost to point out is that we are all here for the purpose of spiritual growth, progress and ministry. That is the reason for us continuing in the world after salvation. We want to please our Lord, and we please Him by just such growth, progress and production. That is the way to win the three crowns of reward which please and glorify Him forever (see the link).

A soldier is not placed on the battlefield to practice good camouflage, dig a good foxhole, and shoot straight; no; a soldier is placed on the battlefield to take an objective. Sticking branches in his helmet, digging a deep hole at random and firing willy-nilly into the trees doesn't accomplish anything. These are aspects of his trade-craft which contribute to his taking the objective he has been given, helping him to sneak up on the enemy defending it, put that enemy under effective fire, and take appropriate measures to defend against counterattack. Likewise, attempting to patch together aspects of what the Christian life should look like in the absence of understanding and being totally committed to its essential purpose will never amount to much. If alcohol impedes my progress toward the objective, I throw it aside. If a small amount is good for my health, I use it since I need my health to fight this fight. If job X provides what I need to grow and advance and do the ministry the Lord has for me, then I rejoice in the Lord's provision and attempt to do job X well without at the same time allowing it to take over my life, because I know what is really important. But if job Y has more prestige, higher pay, and many other worldly benefits, yet compromises my ability to do what the Lord wants me to do with my life, then I prefer job X. I don't submerge myself in the world (I am here for the Lord); and I don't run away from it like a hermit (because that is not what the Lord is calling me to either).

5) The name of Jesus and the Sabbath: Here we are talking about some very dangerous, legalistic false teaching that ought to be avoided like the plague. Many Christians today, individuals who often wax emotional about Jesus Christ, but who are also totally immature, have been caught up in these and very many other false trails and false teachings. Paul called our Lord, "Jesus" (Iesous), not "YAHWEH" (or any other such variation of the Hebrew). Same with Peter. Same with John. Same with James. Same with all the NT writers. Who do these people think they are that they know better than all the apostles and writers of the Holy scriptures? It is absurd. But not unprecedented. Even after all the grace bestowed by God the Father in Jesus Christ His Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit, Paul had to fight all his life against legalists who wanted, e.g., gentile believers to be circumcised. Legalistic Sabbath day observance is of a piece with this. In truth, this command has been expanded to a continual moment by moment rest wherein believers are to have peace in Jesus Christ at all times (Heb.4:9-11; see the link). This is the only commandment not repeated in the NT, and of course we know that our Lord and His disciples were often criticized by the legalistic Pharisees for failing to observe it in the OT way.

6) TSC: I know of this church. Emotions again. In this country, the charismatic movement is particularly widespread. These people have replaced the truth of scripture with emotion and "experience", but in doing so have made up things. They pretend to speak in tongues (no one has done this legitimately since the first century). They pretend to have the power to heal by touch and to cast out demons. They pretend to be able to prophesy words directly from God. They pretend many things. And they get very emotional about it. In fact, they gin up an unholy amount of enthusiasm (literally). But in the and, when the effect wears off, it "bites like a snake" (cf. Prov.23:32) – because it is not real. The true ministry of the Spirit and His power resides in His "still, small voice" speaking to our hearts, and using the truth we have believed to guide and encourage us (1Ki.19:11-13). In fact, the truth is VERY emotional – but that comes when as mature believers our emotions under proper control respond positively to the truth which sings in our hearts (cf. 1Cor.14:32).

7) Hobbies: We are here to choose. We have limited time. On the other hand, few of us are so perfect that we have learned to harness every drop of energy and every second of time for pursuing spiritual growth, progress and production for the glory of Christ. Most of us need some down time. Especially in the earlier going. Our Lord knows this. This is an area of application which, as in point #4 above, requires us first to decide why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing – and just how serious we are about it. It is almost always a mistake to dramatically "give up" something "for Christ". As we grow, we make all manner of decisions based not on looking at things as negatives but rather by emphasizing what we are positively trying to do. We have a ministry. It takes time. We like to go to the movies. But they take time. We also may be troubled by some aspects of some of them. Wanting to do more with the ministry in search of a good reward and in trying to please the Lord and help our fellow believers, we find ourselves going to the movies less and less – and one day we may look around and find we haven't gone in years. Not that we "gave it up" for Christ. Rather we made choices on behalf of things we knew were more important.

8) End times: According the calculations based on scripture which may be found at the site, the Tribulation is indeed likely very close (less than a decade away). But as I often point out, in the absence of Holy Spirit restraint (2Thes.2:6-7), and given the devil's deployment of all of his carefully husbanded resources for this "last offensive", things will happen at breakneck pace once those seven years begin. So while we may see possibilities in current events, there is no unfulfilled prophecy that will take place before that point, the Church Age being the mystery age. Teachings which find definite fulfillment in events now are off the mark. Why are other Christians happy about the end times? Perhaps because they haven't read their Bibles carefully enough. On the one hand, this will be the hardest time in history to live through. On the other hand, the Lord loves us and He will take care of us. Believers NEVER have anything whatsoever to worry about. Learning and fully digesting that lesson and being consistent in its application is the stuff of deep spiritual maturity however (even Elijah and Job forget that for a time; we might add Moses). Also, the false doctrine of the pre-Tribulation "rapture" is all the rage in this country. It is not true – but if I believed that I would be with the Lord without ever even having to face the Tribulation, I'd be gleeful about that too. But those who persevere, unless blessed to be martyrs, will see Him and rise to meet Him, without ever experiencing physical death.

Getting to the place of peace and joy, focused on the hope of resurrection, reward and being with Jesus Christ, is indeed where we all want to be. Remember: you have been forgiven. If you are convicted of sin, then confess, and that will be forgiven too (1Jn.1:9). It is a trap for a believer to wallow in self-hatred over past mistakes. Like the soldier who acted cowardly on one occasion and lets that define all of his future encounters with the enemy. But true heroes don't look back. They get back up and attack again, no matter how many the previous defeats. If you adopt that mind-set, the mind-set of spiritual growth and progress, you will get where you truly want to go – where Jesus Christ truly wants you to go.

Thanks for you prayer, my friend. I shall be praying for you as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:  


Response #21: 

1) What we can know about others is always limited, regardless of what we may think we have discovered about their "group" – because, obviously, people often don't adhere to the teaching of their group, whether right or wrong. We start with the fact that we know WE are saved – because we believe in Jesus Christ. We move next to realizing that others have to fight their own fight too. If we find kindred spirits, well and good, but it's not our job to analyze and categorize everyone else out there. That is God's job. Our job is to grow, our job is to advance spiritually through trusting Him in the tests that come, our job is to produce for Him – this is the way to please Him and to earn a good reward.

It's also not the job of the average Christian, even one who may be gifted as a teacher but still in need of training, to evaluate every apple on every tree. As growing believers our job is to find a good tree. That often takes some seeking, but if a person really is genuinely looking for the truth, the Spirit will guide us to a good tree. I am firmly convinced that Ichthys is such a "good tree", but that is for you to decide for yourself. In any case, once we know we have found a good tree, our job is to eat the fruit. Our job is not to put each apple to a detailed test, compare it to other apples, compare it to apples from other trees, then go away and agonize over whether or not to eat it but never eat it because we cannot be sure. No nutrition comes that way. Our job, as the Lord tells us, is to find a good tree (see the link; cf. Matt.7:16ff.). We get to do this and we will have success if we listen to the Spirit. Once we have satisfied ourselves that the tree is good, then we need to set about eating the fruit. At that point, the more we hesitate, the more we abstain, the more we are picky, the less we will grow. And there is little danger in the long run if we do partake with confidence. Why? Because if we really and truly are seeking the truth, then the chances that we will initially mistake a bad tree for a good one are small (there are so many rotten trees, so many bad trees, and so many fruitless trees, that finding a good one sticks out "like a sore thumb" as we say in the states). And even on the off chance we do make a mistake, well, as soon as we are convicted of that, we are free to move on and resume our search. But the principle remains the same: a) find a good tree (however long that takes); b) eat the fruit and grow (throwing aside reservations as much as possible).

2) Please see the link "Read your Bible" for perspectives on this. Generally speaking, more is always better. I always do advise believers to read the NT daily because starting "at the beginning" may result in not reading any of the NT for a very long time. In terms of versions, my favorite in English is the 1984 NIV (not the new NIV and it's hard to tell because NIV does not want folks to know that they replaced the 1984 edition with a major revision several years ago). I also like NKJV, the language update on the KJV (there are many more changes than just removal of archaic language, but it's very good). NASB was preferred by my seminary (some of my profs were involved in producing it). It's technically good, but the language is rough and that makes it somewhat harder to read and digest.

3) TSC and charismatics: this is a trap and at heart a big lie. You are a genuine believer and have a genuine heart for God. So, of course, you desire to experience this in a powerful way; of course you are emotional about it and want to express those emotions; of course you feel moved when see and hear what you believe is other believers doing so. And I'm not saying they're not believers. But I am saying that what they are doing is not godly and will not last. People who snort cocaine or shoot up heroin are said to have enormous emotional highs. Doesn't make it godly. Yes, the Holy Spirit CAN do anything. But little is worse than claiming He is doing something He is not doing. Is He responsible for this emotional outpouring and shouting etc.? Here is what I read in scripture written in the very context of prescribing how spiritual gifts should be used in the Christian assembly:

But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
1st Corinthians 14:40 NIV


The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
1st Corinthians 14:32 NIV

Secondly, what did you learn of the truth in your time there? Spiritual growth is all about taking in the truth of the Word of God. If nothing was taught. If emotional prayers and emotional sermons were the rule (as I know they were), then all we have is a Baptist service on amphetamines. Cranking up the volume, intoning the name of Jesus louder than others do, crying and gesticulating et al. does indeed get people's attention. All cults use similar techniques. These things would be good if the Spirit were doing them, but if He's not . . .

Every individual I've ever known who has decided to experiment with this dangerous breed of pseudo-Christianity has found out to his/her hurt that things are not exactly as they seem. These people are spiritual infants who delight in doing these emotionally releasing activities. It seems godly at first. Later on, when the emotional high wears off (the next morning when a person sobers up), they leave only hollowness. The result is spiritual depression or another fix. But no one has ever grown in one of these places, because they don't teach the truth any more than the Baptist or Presbyterian church does, e.g.

Is someone genuinely speaking in tongues, empowered by the Holy Spirit? Great. But I can tell you that has not happened since the first century, and going down the road of pretending otherwise does great spiritual danger.

Is someone genuinely casting out demons, empowered by the Holy Spirit? That would be great – there are, I would agree, plenty of cases of possession (and far more of serious influence). But I can tell you that has not happened since the first century, and only apostles seem every to have been able to do it. Getting involved with demons in a game of pretend is a path to spiritual disaster.

Is there real prophecy? Real healing? Real miracle working? Listen, we would ALL love that to be true. Us wanting it to be true, however, does not make it true. And us PRETENDING that we are doing it really is blaspheming the Holy Spirit, saying He is doing something He is not in fact doing.

It all comes down to that. Is it real or isn't it? I can tell you with authority that it is NOT real. And no one can even come close to proving to you from that Bible that it is real: the Bible says that these "sign gifts" as they are sometimes called "ceased" (1Cor.13:8-11) – and that has been the universal experience of all until relatively recently. And the universal experience of all serious Christians who have looked into this – in some cases by mistakenly getting involved themselves – has verified this.

People go to these places and get involved in these things because they find them "fun". That is all there is to it – except to add that this is very dangerous "fun", and will only result in spiritual digression, never spiritual growth (plenty about this on the site; see for example the link: "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit").

4) We are here to please the Lord, and the most powerful gift we have been given is our free will image of God. The more we say "yes" to what is good and "no" to what is bad, the better we will do so. There is a lot of gray area in between where, especially in the case of new believers, we are neither pushing forward nor doing something sinful. The Lord does not begrudge us time to sleep, to eat, to get some recreation. Few of us are so "total" in our approach like the apostle Paul was, devoting nearly all of his time and energy to the Lord. And no Christian could be that initially in any case. We grow day by day, one step at a time. It's all about choice. As to how we spend time, energy and resources when we do need a break, something that improves our health (like exercise), improves our knowledge (like reading), or otherwise has positive effects is obviously superior to something that is debilitating, compromising, dangerous or potentially sinful. Things that are out and out sinful, of course, need to be avoided.

A case could be made, I suppose, to construe any hobby or leisure time activity as bad since nothing in this world is Simon pure. But some things are worse than others. The rule of thumb here is that the individual believer has to decide these things with the help of the Spirit. If a Christians "gives something up" only because others are telling him/her that he/she should, that is a bad decision which is only making the person into a Pharisee who wants to appear righteous. If the Spirit, if your conscience tells you "no", don't do it. If in cleanness of conscience and without any guidance from the Spirit you enjoy doing XYZ, then there is no pressing spiritual reason not to do it – except to remember that we have limited time, energy and resources. If you don't find anything wrong with going to the opera, then there wouldn't be any problem with going to a six hour presentation of a Wagner opera. But with time on the front and back that will probably burn an entire day which you might have put to better use, at least in part, reading your Bible, reading Bible teaching for spiritual growth, praying or otherwise ministering to others. It's all about choice. As mentioned, none of us should think we are bad Christians for not spending ALL of our time with the Lord. He has given us the time, the energy, the resources; giving them back in doing what He would rather have us do is all to the good. But few can be "total" and it is folly to try; for the rare few who manage this, as Paul seems to have come close to doing, it's a matter of it "just happening" through consistent effort over time; never the result of some one-shot emotional commitment (those things NEVER succeed).

5) On "turn the other cheek", this is often misunderstood; it most definitely does NOT preclude self-defense or defense of family. Here's a good example of why proper teaching is important; please see the links:

Turn the other cheek?


Turn the other cheek

Preemptive war?

The biblical view of self-defense

Turning the Other Cheek: Christian Freedom and Responsibility

The Golden Rule, Spiritual Rebirth, and "I Never Knew You"

6) Acts 13:48: Human logic is often befuddled by God and His truth. Two things are true which human logic sees as antithetical but which in fact are necessary co-components. Without the divine decrees, the plan of God, human beings and free will could not exist. Because God knows our every action ahead of time and has entered all of them into the plan, making complete provision for us to do what we choose to do, does not make our will un-free. We could not have such a will nor a time and place to exercise it without the decrees. Those who want to quibble with these very simple and basic truths do not understand the magnitude and the majesty of the God with whom we have to do (more about this in BB 4B: Soteriology, q.v.).

Notice in this verse you ask about, exactly what is said above: "as many as had been appointed to eternal life (decreed) believed (act of free will)". Yes they were decreed for eternal life; but yes they had to believe to receive it. They believe because they were decreed to do so, yes; but they were decreed to do so because they actually did make the choice to believe.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:  


Response #22: 

1) We can appreciate what the Lord has given us and the glory of Him reflected in the world He has made (in spite of it being in the grip of sin and the evil one it still reflects His glory) and at the same time understand the true spiritual dynamics of what is going on. Here too we have every right to be at peace because we know that He has it all in hand. If the Israelites really had deep faith, they wouldn't have panicked at the Red Sea when the Egyptian army had them hemmed in. They would have understood that their deliverance – and their foes' destruction – was very close and absolutely certain. That is the kind of peace and joy that we can and should have too when we consider the times present and soon to come.

2) I don't dismiss the truth that God can do anything. The question is whether He actually has done this. He has not. If you make the mistake of wading into this you will end up regretting it, I assure you.

a) Third party testimonies are always a mistake to believe (see the link), and that is true of all things. You have never seen it; neither have I; neither in fact has anyone else. Wise Christians believe the Word of God even if the world and all of their own physical senses are telling them something different.

b) No. Read Acts chapter two. A "tongue" is an actual language. Anyone can intone meaningless sounds. Many pagan cults do it too. The Holy Spirit doesn't speak in tongues, so throw that verse out of consideration. Paul said "I speak in a tongue" (singular), and he was speaking in an actual language. There were individuals with this gift in the first century. There aren't now.

c) "The perfect" is a neuter singular and refers to the completed Word (see the link). I don't know what verse you are referencing here in the last part. If you mean Joel 2:28ff. that is talking about the 2nd Advent and Millennium and the very end of the Tribulation.

d) Not sure what you mean here. If you are saying that pretending these gifts exist is problematic, I agree. If you say arguing against them "complicates interpretation", I disagree: the interpretations of the passages in question are clear enough . . . except for those who don't want to accept the truth.

e) God responds to prayer always. That is totally different from touch healing and exorcism, however, and these two false teaching are very prevalent in this movement whether or not you personally wish to defend them.

f) We do not wish to limit God (not that something like that is even possible!). But what good is it singing hymns in the first place? To the extent that they contain words of truth, at least a person is hearing words of truth. However, in the first place modern hymns are almost always "off" in their representation of the truth, and the fact that they are emotional merely cements whatever is wrong about what they say more deeply in a person's heart. In the second place, the Bible IS the truth – but these people would rather sing for hours than hear a single verse of scripture, let alone listen to a prepared teacher explain it for their edification. What does that tell you? You won't become a soccer star by eating Twinkies. Rather, you will have to sweat and suffer to get there. You won't get to spiritual maturity by jumping up and down and singing lively refrains. Rather, you will have to sweat and suffer to get there (as in reading the studies at Ichthys carefully – much suffering involved in that, I'm sure).

g) Absolutely. We accept the Bible. We dismiss anything we hear second or third hand which does not agree with the Bible. Antichrist and his false prophet will actually DO many miraculous things. Those who were capable of being led astray by mere hearsay will be very vulnerable to the "real thing" which "merely" is from an evil source.

h) "sincere and spiritually mature Biblical Christians": They may seem sincere. They may even be (on some level) sincere. I'm pretty sure that many of the Stalinists and Nazis were sincere about what they believed and were doing. Doesn't mean we'd want to throw our lot in with them because their words and deeds were antithetical to the truth. That is the case here as well. So when you say they are "spiritually mature biblical Christians", the only one of those four words I would even being willing to consider applying is the last one (and in many cases that may only be apparent: cf. RC charismatics who are likely not saved despite engaging in similar practices).

I do object to being called legalistic, not because I am thin-skinned, but because this is turning the truth on its head. Legalism is the substitution of personal false standards for what the Bible says and teaches, rejecting grace, mercy and love for Procrustean adherence to some code. This is actually another characteristic of charismatic groups, even if it is often not immediately obvious as lurking below the surface of their hyper-emotional presentation. Biblical Christianity believes the Lord, believes the Word He gave us; believing in people instead is really no different than believing the false standards they set up – which is what legalism is.

3) There is clearly much in our dreams which is meaningless. How this "stuff" gets up there is anyone's guess (many guess wrong: Freudians, e.g.), but it is clear that the more time we spend in the Word and the truth, the more that is reflected in our dreams; whereas the more time we spend with the things of the world, that tends to bleed through. Rule of thumb: if what you dream is accordance with the Word of God and what the Spirit is telling you, well and good. You embrace and affirm it because that is what the Word of God teaches and what the Spirit supports. If this is not the case, dismiss it (see the link: "Dreams and Visions").

4) Women and men are fellow heirs of the gracious gift of eternal life (1Pet.3:7). And they as well as we all have spiritual gifts. The ONLY thing prohibited to Christian women is teaching the Word to the assembly. That doesn't mean women cannot teach other women or non-adult males; it doesn't mean they can't evangelize. It doesn't mean they cannot have any variety of ACTUAL ministries (avoid thinking of ministry in denominational terms; true ministry is as multifarious as there are members of Christ's Church). And, by the way, the ONLY individuals who are allowed to teach the assembly are men who are both gifted and prepared. That is an incredibly small percentage of the Laodicean church era. So women are not being deprived. Anyone who puts things that way has already rejected the truth. As to what women wear, the scriptures which address this are not prohibiting certain dress; rather they are making the point that adorning oneself internally with the truth is more important (see the link).

Your most welcome – happy to help!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:  


Response #23: 

I appreciate that you are being careful. That is all to the good.

I assure you that I don't "just dismiss" things, but for me the shoe is on the other foot, really. If the Bible teaches something, I believe the Bible. If something is not taught in the Bible, then just because someone claims it, I'm not required to believe it. I'm also not required to invest a lot of time and energy pursuing it. I have done enough of that in my life and the claims always come up empty in fact. Can God do anything? I've already affirmed that I know that to be true. But, again, just because He can, doesn't mean He has. Also, importantly for the new tacks taken in this latest email, just because He in His sovereignty chooses to work a miracle in some case does not mean that any of the individuals involved have any special gifts of the type we see in the book of Acts. God does miracles all the time. Our life and life eternal are great miracles. This is a question of individuals claiming supernatural gifts they say they personally possess and their functioning in fact – quite a claim, and a false one too. I'm merely trying to spare you. Investigate if you please, but since many of these individuals who are claiming false things are influenced (at least) by the evil one, you are putting yourself at spiritual risk for absolutely no good purpose. If God had given you, let's say, the gift of tongues, you would know it. As it is, He HAS given you ACTUAL gifts; learning about them and beginning to function in them is a matter of spiritual growth (not intellectual development).

I'm not saying these people are not saved. I am saying that they do not have the gifts they claim to have. They "work up" emotion through singing and false tongues and other means. They enjoy releasing all emotional restraint – as almost anyone would. But if it is not really done in a godly way, then it won't end up in anything good. And that is the case. There is no spiritual growth there. Merely an addiction to emotion. This is typical of almost all Laodicean churches, in that there is some substitute for carefully and diligently teaching the Word of God. Most Christians today find that boring and too hard; they also often are unwilling to accept what the Bible clearly says. So better to focus on high ritual or emotion or music or anything other entertainment rather than what we are called to assemble to do: to give our attention to the truth through the doctrinal and in-depth teaching of the Word of God.

On visions, see the prior links. If what we are given is in accord with the Bible, then we have no problem believing it because we believe the Bible. It's only problematic if there is a conflict – in which case we believe the Bible.

It's never too soon to get cracking with spiritual growth.  If you're concerned about some of the more complicated materials, I always recommend starting with the Peter series in any case.  Clearly, it is also important to be reading your Bible every day as well.

If the NIV Bible says "1984" even though actually printed later, it's essentially the 1984, I would imagine, though getting one closer in date rather than farther away would be good.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:  


Response #24: 

On "dietary practice", this is an example of anything wherein we have a "disputable matter", that is, something which is in truth of little spiritual moment, but where the immature party will be more seriously affected by having his/her conscience undermined before being spiritually ready for the truth – and in some cases will seek to bully mature believers who understand the truth.

I'm not familiar enough with the "amplified Bible" to render an opinion. As I say (see Read your Bible), the important thing is to read it. Some versions are, in my view, more profitable to read than others. One thing, however: I couldn't recommend reading the Bible to the exclusion of pursuing spiritual growth through giving your attention to a solid teaching ministry. The two are meant to work hand in hand. Doing only one would be like doing only left-handed (or right-handed) pull-ups. Over time, that leads to obvious and serious imbalance. Worse, actually, in the case we are discussing because without serious Bible study, even diligent Bible reading has a cap on how much good it will accomplish – because only the true meaning of passages is helpful (not always possible for the non-teacher to figure these out or get the depth that is there), and only if that truth is believed.

I never recommend inter-linear versions. That is because they lead to a false sense of mastery of the language and can lead to many misinterpretations. Learn Greek, learn Hebrew . . . or don't. That's my best advice.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:  

Thank you Bob, what you say in these links makes a lot of sense and is very close to the mindset I initially had when finding Jesus Christ.

I would like to tell you a little about where I stand today after taking into consideration everything I've discussed with you. As you know, I've been extremely confused and thrown to and fro by the waves with all sorts of doctrine, and the guilt of my backsliding and unsureness of my standing all the more made this all a very dangerous recipe.

I have been praying and rereading the NT slowly but surely, and I decided to start reading your Peter series which of I have read the first 10 chapters so far. This was a very hard decision to make because at this point as you know I don't know who or what to believe, but I truly felt all of your insight to me to be sincere and accurate as well as what I've read "here and there" from your site.

I skeptically started reading the Peter series, but decided to as I agree it is Biblical to have a teacher for guidance, and I have been seeking someone to guide me on doctrinal basics, which is not an easy task at all. Upon everything making sense I continued chapter by chapter and it has truly already helped me a lot.

What's interesting is that a lot of what I'm reading I already know, but have become confused about it and know it in "bits and pieces" so to speak, whereas now, a lot of the questions and issues I have seem to be falling into a bigger picture. I have had a more realistic sense of peace and ease and less episodes of panic and worry over the last few days, and I believe this is due to a combination of prayer, reading the Bible, and sowing this and my thoughts together with what I'm reading in your Peter series. I truly appreciate your kindness and love, as well as your readiness to reply to all of my emails, may our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and your family brother and keep you steadfast in his work and on the straight and narrow path always.

All that being said, I'd like to redefine some of my original questions with this progression, but I think I will do so at a later time.

Until then, love in out Lord Jesus friend.

Response #25: 

Thanks for the excellent news, my friend! We all need a teacher. I wouldn't have ever gotten anywhere without my antecedents.

Do feel free to write me any time.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:  

Dear Professor

Just thinking about the Australian rugby player who was suspended for saying something along the lines of homosexuals are all going to hell. He is not a white male. I have not read the reported context of these remarks. (I would not have made those reported remarks as I concur with what I think your sentiments may also be, that is inviting one to listen to the gospel and allow the Spirit to do the work of witnessing to the truth). At least that is my best intention, not always perfectly achieved.

It does focus ones thoughts on what is permitted religious practice, pronouncements and even thought. For instance, lets say a Christian be not allowed to publicly express his beliefs as it may offend some. Does it then equate to the offended not offending the Christian with public pronouncements and public displays of sexual lewdity? Not to them.

What if a Christian publicly states ALL unbelievers will go to hell? It is STILL offensive in that it “targets” non believers. You can’t say it. What about THINK it? They KNOW Christians believe this. Christians are “targeted” for this. Christians will be condemned for their thoughts and beliefs. The condemners will not tolerate comment (or soon, silence) by Christians on the condemners beliefs.

Christians believe only believers are saved.

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
John 14:6 ESV

Because Christians believe that only believers are saved, Christians are believers. Should society embrace diversity of beliefs. They say so. But they will not include Christians in that diversity. Here is the absolute absurdity of the non believers “logic”. It is obvious we are on the cusp of the Tribulation. True believers are tolerated less with the passing of the days. Many of the public descriptions bandied about by non believers denigrate believers. “Diversity”, as it turns OUT, is not helpful in spiritual matters:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many”.
Matthew 7:13 ESV

When we are described as narrow minded, should we take it as a back handed compliment? And to make sure that we are!

In Jesus our one and only Savior.

Your student

Response #26: 

I wouldn't worry too much about it, my friend. What a blessing NOT to be a celebrity of some sort. The thought-police generally save their ammunition for those who are publicly well-known. The rest of us are blessedly well below the "radar".

When they start arresting us for witnessing to the truth, "lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Lk.21:28).

Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:  

Praise The Lord Dr. Bob,

How are you doing today? I hope and pray that our Lord has been supplying all your needs by His Matchless Power and Sovereign will through Lord The Holy Spirit.

I was saddened secondary to the recent Easter day serial bomb blasts in neighboring Sri Lanka. One of the 3 churches was a protestant church named Zion Church in Batticaloa, where close to 50 were killed. The other 2 were RC cult parishes. I have comfort knowing that The Lord will take these killings seriously and will avenge their blood on a predetermined day.

India has intelligence reports of similar yet more impactful bombings planned in the coming days/weeks to cause widespread terror, esp in my home state of Tamil Nadu that's down very south close to Sri Lanka. Truly, things are on a collision course of sorts....and am very sure of the fast approaching Tribulation. I know we cannot pray these happenings away unlike most of the congregation wants to. The Restrainer must be removed sooner or later. I just know there is a small window to prepare!

Shifting gears Dr. Bob, Today marks an end of an era in my life with my longstanding trouble, as I was woken by The Holy Spirit early in the morning and He made me pray a prayer that I have never dared to pray! He made me pray for as in "And the Spirit of the Lord (#1) will rest upon Him (i.e., the Messiah), the Spirit of wisdom (#2) and understanding (#3), the Spirit of counsel (#4) and might (#5), the Spirit of knowledge (#6) and the fear of the Lord (#7).
Isaiah 11:2

Almost immediately, I was directed to the website and get started on your series: Pneumatology

I spent close to 3 hours reading and re-reading the first 10 paragraphs and it blew my mind away with The Power of information that truly is able to set saints free!

I thanked The Good Lord (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) for you and your dedication and willingness to share your mega shining works with us folks across the world's dividing seas. I tried messaging you on facebook messenger of all things for a quick thank you note, but I know you have little to no time for it.

I also found a new Bible version to read from today, The New International Version Reader's Edition. I Hope The Lord Holy Spirit will Empower and Encourage me on the road that lies ahead as the time at hand is really short. I have urged The Lord to Bless me with Wisdom like that of Daniel's and a righteous and upright spirit as that of Joseph's in these last days.

I have faith that my prayers were heard this morning and The Holy Spirit will grant me these things so I can get on with the huge work amidst great demands on my (sane) time apart from my debilitating troubles that hog the rest. Please pray for me for this exact purpose dear Big Brother of mine in The Lord.

I am praying for your health and job situation and your general upkeep.

Please write a line when time permits.

In Our Lord our Strength and Comfort,

With Lots of Love and Respect.

Response #27: 

I'm very pleased to hear your good news, my friend! God is good! And I'm also happy to hear that these materials have been helping you too. That is always most encouraging to hear.

How is the health of your family? You had told me that they were unwell last time we spoke.

As far as things here in Louisville, I just finished year #28 at the university on Friday (4/19). Taking the week off to make repairs to the homestead.

I keep you and your family in my prayers every day, my friend – and thank you so much for yours as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:  

Hi Bob and family,

Just a short note in appreciation. I have very much as usual, enjoyed the questions and your responses in last Saturday’s email postings. And I couldn’t help being drawn to part of Q 16 and it’s worth writing here what was said that drew my attention and I think we could all say amen to that:

“It struck me some time ago how I could really push myself to the point of pain when running, or how I would spend hours practising certain athletic skills and yet as soon as a certain temptation comes, behold, the desire to exert oneself, to persevere, all will to fight – vanished!”

How painfully true – how easy is it to give in to the things that are seen in preference to that which is unseen.

I haven’t got enough fingers or toes to count the times I’ve fallen (I think a book could be written on it) and I just hate myself for the times I’ve allowed it to progress well past the point I should have stamped on it and it makes me realise how weak I am and I know I MUST do better.

In my weakness I take a lot of comfort in what Paul says in Romans 7: 15 – 25 and I know it isn’t to excuse myself but I am helped in the knowledge that someone far better than me experienced similar things, yet managed to overcome and that is my desire.

Will make this do for now dear Bob and always with brotherly love,

Response #28: 


Hope you and your family are doing well. I keep you in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:  

Hi Dr Luginbill,

You mentioned that you sometimes read the Sinaiticus version. Would this be part of the Novum Testamentum Graece book? If not, would you please tell me the title of the book that has the Sinaiticus?

Hopefully my question doesn't sound too ignorant; I am way out of my league on this topic,

Response #29: 

There is no Sinaiticus version. The critical edition you reference, like all critical editions, is a compilation text based upon editorial judgment as to what is the best reading in any given passage developed from comparing many manuscripts and other evidence to the text (such as papyri fragments and quotations in early Christian writings). Sinaiticus is a manuscript, and all manuscripts have "issues". Sinaiticus, aka Aleph, is the best of the best, but there are errors therein as well. Textual criticism is the art of weighing the evidence and coming up with the most likely reading in any given case.

The Sinaiticus manuscript is available on-line several places. The most convenient – which also does have a Greek transliteration so one can essentially read it without having to deal with issues of orthography – is at the following link: http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/

Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #30:  


Response #30: 

Everyone makes a mess of their job at one time or another. If you didn't get fired, they must appreciate that for the most part you are a good employee. Anyone can make a mistake. A believer doing his/her job as unto the Lord will demonstrate daily that he/she is faithful and reliable (even faithful and reliable people can make honest mistakes).

My students get into auto accidents all the time. Come to think of it, I certainly had my share as a young person.

So you might be being a tad hard on yourself.

We can all do better – on the job and driving – and if we would honor the Lord, that's what we try to do day by day.

I'm praying for you.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #31:  

Dear Dr Luginbill, greetings to you in Jesus name.

Hope you are doing ok. May the Lord bless you abundantly for touching men's hearts for Christ with your website including mine!

Still going thru the Peter series, but I must confess I enter into some periods of depression at times. Though broke and in a number of legal cases, I can't really complain. I had a discussion recently with my pastor where he confessed that he did not want to get distracted with eschatology is why he reacted to me when I presented post trib evidence in a church discussion where I was cut short. That the truth is that he has not taken the time to really study the issue himself. He even told me that when the time is ripe I will be the one to teach the church about it as he notices I have gone far! What more could I ask for Bob! (Hope you don't mind I call you Bob. In our culture we don't call older men by name but I know it's not your culture so I feel you won't mind)

Yet I still get depressed from time to time. I guess Christ is not fully formed in me. I still hash unnecessarily over the past and how I could have been a better Christian and not enter the troubles I'm in now. My progress is so slow. Many times it paralyses me in the place of prayer. I'm struggling to put away things of the past and press forward. I pray I will get over it even though I'm still in court.

Dear Dr Bob, please pray for me to overcome this little thing that is so big in my mind. There is no time to waste on self pity. Too much work to do getting myself up to speed and helping others that God has sent me to.

Sir God bless you for being there. You have helped me so much along the way. I also follow the weekly mails and keep learning. I pray you and yours will be unashamed and confident at His glorious coming.

Your "kid" brother!

Response #31: 

"Bob" is fine!

Thanks for the update. I have been keeping you and your situation in my prayers. Unfortunately, I know first hand about how draining legal involvement can be. The fact that you are handling this and also your job and family AND continuing to grow spiritually is a great victory in and of itself. I'm thrilled to learn about the possibility opening up in your church. I'll put this on my list as well.

Life is difficult, especially for believers. But we have the advantage of a wonderful hope that makes whatever we have to face in this life completely worthwhile in the end, even if things sometimes wear on us here and now. That's the "high ground" we have to attempt to hold onto in our hearts day by day when thing get difficult; the evil one is happy to see us demoralized. And it is easy for believers who are making good progress to get down on themselves when "today" doesn't go as well as "yesterday". So if you are hanging in there with prayer and study, please don't allow the fact that "today" you didn't get as much of it done as you wanted – we all get tired – cause you to become despairing. The result of that misapplication of the truth is to do less or nothing and feel even worse. This is a battlefield. We are probably never going to have a day when we fight a perfect fight. But if we can resist ever having a day when we don't try to fight that fight at all, then we will find over time that we have made great progress, even if it was perfect. And it's never perfect.

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31 NKJV

I admire you, my friend – and I know that the Lord is not unjust to forget the good things you are doing for the Church of Jesus Christ (Heb.6:10).

Thanks for your prayers and good words, my friend! They are greatly appreciated.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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