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Salvation, the Gospel, and Unbelief VII

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Question #1: 

Dear Bob,

I hope this message finds you well and I hope that you have had a great start to the year and I pray that many blessings come your way.

I, myself am doing pretty well. I've had some real bumps recently but I am letting my love for God and my trust in Jesus guide me through. I have realised that you are perfectly right, that through faith and study of the Word, my wounds and pains from the past will heal. I am already experiencing God's love within, I feel great calm, peacefulness and feel that I am truly one of his flock. I am keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus and look to Him to guide me in life, so that I do what He wants me to do and give glory to God in my life.

I am writing this though with a heaviness in my heart. Before I came to Jesus, I lived in London surrounded by atheists in a very secular life. At one point I lived in a big house that had many separate rooms. I became friends with an eccentric character and a bit lost but could be entertaining at times and I thought that he had a genuine heart deep down. There was a big falling out as he could be irresponsible at times, so he moved back with his parents. His family are Jewish but I'm not sure whether they are observant are not.

The reason I'm telling you all this is that this old friend who I've lost contact with has gone on to have enormous success. He has written many, many children's books to great acclaim. Famous actors and actresses have recorded his books on CD and he's won many awards and been courted for cartoon tv networks. In worldly terms, he has "made it". These things used to mean something to me but I've been drawing away from all that. Nevertheless I was quite amazed that such a familiar face had done so well and wished him all the best with his endeavours.

The last two times I bumped into him he seems worried and even a bit frightened. He was off to see a "life coach" to change direction. I was puzzled as he seemed to have everything he ever wanted but he talked cryptically about "It not being all that it seems".

I'm sorry to bore you with the back story but I thought it might make it more clear why my heart is so heavy. I looked him up this morning out of curiosity to see if he was still writing. His style was not my taste, he wrote about ugly grotesqueries that seemed to be very appealing to his young audience. What I found this morning though was a real sharp shock. He has written a jokey revision of history for children which claims that everything in the past was "silly" and deserving of mockery. It is a complete revolting mockery of Jesus Christ's birth and life. It mocks all of his miracles and the humour is very grotesque and even, in places, scatalogical. I don't know if it goes on to mock His death, I couldn't read much of it. It was sickening to see.

This is someone I know! I suddenly thought of the millstone. He is writing this repulsive blasphemy for children! I prayed that he would repent but I'm not sure whether that is the right thing to do. He obviously isn't a believer, the truth is not in him. It seems that he has paid the ultimate price for fame and fortune. It has both shocked me and not shocked me. I can see the direction the world is going in but to see someone I know write this... it brings it all so close to home.

Will there be any hope for him? Even if he repents from this blasphemy and becomes a believer, the publisher are not likely to pull the books from circulation and the children are already reading it. It seems that the damage is already done.

In such extreme circumstances, what could be done? Could he be forgiven if he believes and repents as he has already that millstone around his neck.

I really don't know what to make of it all Bob, I really don't. I guess I'm still in shock.

Looking forward to hearing from you on this pretty grim matter.

I feel so blessed knowing that the treasure I have can never rust or be tarnished and that I have the opportunity to live my life in praise of His name.

In our Lord and Saviour who has already overcome the world,

Response #1: 

I know what it's like to suffer disappointment about "people", and it is especially difficult when it's a case of someone you thought was either moving forward with the Lord or on the cusp of accepting Him – then they turn back to the world. I think we've all been there. One thing we have to always do in such cases is exactly what you are doing, namely, affirm in our hearts and resolve that this will never ever happen to us. And indeed that is the silver lining in all such disappointments: the sure and certain knowledge that we belong to Jesus Christ and will spend eternity with Him and our brothers and sisters in the true Church regardless of what happens in the world . . . and regardless of the bad choices others may make.

When you report that your friend had told you about it "not being all that it seems", that is perhaps a shred of hope. If he is unhappy and unsatisfied with how things are, there may be still a possibility that he will respond to the Lord's prodding of him. For there is always hope, as long as a person is still alive. There is no "point of no return", at least not until death (the taking of the mark of the beast during the Tribulation is an exception, but only seemingly so, since no one who does would ever have chosen to repent). The Lord died for every single sin, even for the lies told about Himself (cf. Matt.12:32).

There is much that we do not know, especially about other people, even our nearest and dearest. But the Lord knows everything, and He has designed this life so as to give everyone who is inclined to consider being saved the maximum chance to be so. That will all be revealed in the end. Right now, we have hold onto hope, but always doing so with a clear eyed reality as long as we are in this world about the depravity of the human condition. And we can pray. I will say a prayer for your friend to come to his senses, spiritually speaking.

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Greetings, Mr. Luginbill.

I am writing this letter to inform you that I need to be certain that I correctly live my life according to the Will of God because when I stumbled across this website and reading some parts of your articles regarding apostasy, I began to become anxious and having self-doubts whether I have committed this kind of act.

While I was having doubts about my salvation, I know one thing.

I know that I am saved since I soberly believed on the Gospel and confessed my sins to the Lord Jesus through my prayer written on a piece of paper. I began to repent, I began to pray everyday according to 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Even though my lifestyle was changed, I still suffered from fearsome doubts. Doubts such as, “What If I committed the Unpardonable Sin?”, “What If I committed Apostasy?”, and so much more.

Because of this, I need your views on this one.


Response #2: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

I'm a little confused. If you've been reading the material posted at Ichthys, I have always taken extreme pains to make it quite clear that an apostate is a FORMER believer who now no longer believes in Jesus Christ and no longer cares about Him or salvation whatsoever – because his/her faith has entirely died out. That is what apostasy is. It is not sin, or a pattern of sin, or a lifestyle or any such thing. Believers are saved. Those who do not believe are unbelievers, and unbelievers are not saved. If a person was once a Christian but has now reverted to unbeliever status, having "believed for a while" (Lk.8:13), but having fallen away, now no longer believing, now no longer having faith in Christ, that is apostasy.

"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

Here is a very simple test. Do you believe, even a little bit? Do you care? If you do, it is only because you are a believer. And all believers are saved, as the verse above affirms. It is only unbelievers who are not saved.

This is what I have taught and attempted to make clear over and over again each and every time the subject has come up.

Now it is true that many believers have guilty consciences about things they have done in the past. That is a pointless exercise. We cannot change the past. Do we deserve discipline from the Lord for something we just did? Take heart – He will provide it (Heb.12:3-13). Our job is to confess to the Lord, and we are forgiven when we do (1Jn.1:9). But what about things done long ago? While there may be natural consequences that continue to grate on us (e.g., a person who robs a bank and is incarcerated is probably not going to be released immediately because they confess their sin), the Lord expects us to look forward and move forward; but if we look backward we are likely going to slide backward and thus not fulfill the purpose the Lord has for our lives of spiritual growth, progress and production.

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus. (15) So as many as are [spiritually] mature, let us have this attitude (i.e., of focusing on our spiritual advance and reward and not getting hung up on what lies behind: vv.13-14), and if in any matter your attitude is off-center, God will reveal that to you (i.e., assuming you are mature and are advancing as you should). (16) But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:12-16

Apostasy is NOT "an act". Apostasy is the loss of faith, becoming an unbeliever again after faith is completely dead. The fact that you are concerned means you are NOT an apostate.

I do understand that you may be experiencing spiritual unease. That is very common – all too common. The R/x for that is spiritual growth, namely, committing oneself to a course of consistent daily prayer, Bible reading, and Bible study from a good source (you are welcome at Ichthys; I also recommend "Bible Academy" at the link).

Again, I'm not sure what posting you are referring to (but if it is at Ichthys, I'm confident you've misunderstood my meaning). Here is one of the main places where this is discussed: In BB 3B Hamartiology: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

Finally, the only "unpardonable sin" is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior. That is what our Lord is referring to in the gospels as those who listened to Him – and the Spirit's witness to Him through miracles such as casting out demons – claimed that He was in league with Satan. Rejecting the Spirit's witness to the truth is rejecting the gospel which is rejecting Christ – that is the sin which cannot be atoned for, the only one. See the links: "Have I committed the unforgivable sin?" and "The unpardonable sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit".

Be pleased to take my advice, my friend, and determine to grow spiritually. That is the only way to dispel doubt, grow closer to the Lord, and win the eternal rewards He has for you.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have been reading some of the questions and responses to the articles you have in this email you provided and wanted to just tell you what my thoughts are on this subject:

1. I don't really think that there is such a person who proclaims to be an atheist in the real sense of the word.
2. Everyone believes that there is a God, but the problem I believe is, they don't understand Him, and because they struggle to do so, they eventually give up and say that there is no God at all.
3. Romans 1 puts in very well, in which we see what really happened to them as a result:

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

These so called atheist have :  Suppressed the truth.

Verse 19: For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious

And so the rest of the verses fully explain how they became a so-called atheist.

They encountered things that they could not with their own understand and figure out, and it became a dilemma to them.

Here is an expression I saw as a response to these unbelievers, is to pose a two questions to them:

1. What if you [the unbeliever] are right and I as a believer am wrong, what have I lost? The answer of course, is nothing.
2. What if I {a believer} am right, and you [as an unbeliever] are wrong, what have you lost? the answer of course, is everything.

Would like to have your comments on my observations.

Thanks so much again, I will, continue reading this email.

As always,

May you be exceedingly blessed by Him who is the Almighty one, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

Your friend,

Response #3: 

On atheism, while I don't disagree with you that there is a type of "mild-mannered" atheist who may have rejected the truth and has now given up on it altogether, I wouldn't agree that anyone ever struggles for the truth and is not satisfied in finding it. If a person is even willing to grope after God, he/she will be led to the truth:

(24) The God who made the world and everything in it, He is Lord of heaven and earth. He does not dwell in man-made temples, (25) nor is he waited on by human hands, as if He needed anything from us. He is the One who gives us all life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man he created all the nations of mankind – that they should come to inhabit the whole face of the earth. He fixed and determined the specific times and extent of their habitations, (27) to the end that they should seek out this God, that they might go in search of Him and so might find Him – for His is not far off from any one of us.
Acts 17:24-27

God designed human history for all to be saved, and the result is that any and all who are not, are not because they want not part of Him for all eternity. Atheism is one method of shielding the heart against having to have any further contact with the truth so as to be left alone in this life to live it as one chooses (cf. Job 21:14; 22:17). It is a hardening of one's heart against the truth so as to become, deliberately, insensitive to it. And you are correct – Romans chapter one is a wonderful description of that. But there is also the virulent atheist, the one for whom atheism is a religion, as contradictory as that seems. We will know on the other side, but I rather suspect in these cases such individuals have been unable for whatever reason to entirely blot the Lord out of their consciousness and so rail against God's existence, hoping to convince themselves and others, as if doing so would bring them peace.

Yes, the world and the plan of God is the perfect winnowing place, separating the wheat from the chaff, those who want to be with the Lord from those who would never agree to do so of their own free will in a hundred thousand lifetimes – and also determining the true value of each kernel of wheat.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi Bob,

In the email posting (Atheism and Evangelism, 1/19/19), Answer #7, you say:

Good and bad is relative; so is great and small, but, yes, there are distinctions, human ones, that pertain even in hell:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:12 KJV

What exactly do you mean by "there are distinctions, human ones, that pertain even in hell"?

I think I've asked more than once before about there being distinctions in hell, and you said that while there are definitely levels of reward in heaven, there are no levels of punishment in hell. So what are these "human distinctions"?

Yours in Christ,

Response #4: 

Revelation 20:12 says that John saw the dead "small and great", showing that there are distinctions between human beings (i.e., "distinctions, human one") even among those who share a common horrible destiny, the lake of fire.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Bob,

Regarding the question, is the gist that even though all unbelievers will end up in the lake of fire (=same punishment for rejecting Christ), it will be clear to everybody during the great white throne judgement that some human beings in fact did more truly wicked things than others? In other words, it will be clear for all to see the sum of a man's deeds at this time, even if ultimately all unbelievers will end up in the same place?

This would make the idea we've discussed before of "terrible unbelievers" vs "less bad unbelievers" somewhat easier to process, I would think. For if all the deeds of men are judged for what they are, then even if the consequences are the same (due to rejecting Christ), it's not as if these groups of people are completely indistinct, and God won't paint them with exactly the same brush. (And of course there is a continuous spectrum here, not just two groups).

Am I off in the weeds? I'm interested very much in this because it's still proving to be stumbling block for my ___.

I'll be praying for your recovery. I think I may be coming down with a cold too, which will make this week even less pleasant. I have often wryly noted that I feel substantially closer to God when sick and somewhat miserable, so there is that.

In Christ,

Response #5: 

A single sin of ignorance is enough to damn a person to the lake of fire forever – absent Christ dying for it. But He paid the price for all sins. Therefore sins are not an issue at the last judgment. The last judgment will demonstrate that each person condemned did not want any part of Christ even though he/she had a fair opportunity for salvation – and the works / deeds of every person's life will be used to demonstrate that in excruciating detail. I don't find any scripture to indicate that there is any important distinction between unbelievers in the punishment they receive or the "texture" of their condemnation in the lake of fire. They all refused Christ, and thus foreclosed their opportunity for eternal life. That is true even though, in human terms, some are "great" (in a variety of senses), while most are "small" (rather ordinary, even though in this life some of them we would consider "good" and others "bad"). They're all going to the same place for the same reason.

Thanks for your prayers!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hello Bob,

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, [BUT] the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:12)

I'm trying to reconcile that if God the Father gave the Son those who were or are to be saved, why Jesus said that one of them is lost if Jesus said that He lost none.

God Bless,

Response #6: 

It's because Judas was never saved and so not lost in the sense a believer falling into apostasy.

No doubt our Lord loved Judas and enjoyed his company very much – and He did die for him too, so that his betrayal of our Lord must have been like betrayal at the hands of a brother or sister

But Judas was never saved in the first place and never had any intention of bending his will to that of the Lord so as to be saved. He was a necessary part of the process to fulfill all of the prophesies and the plan of God for salvation which required our Lord to be betrayed. As scripture says, "even the wrath of man shall praise you" (Ps.76:10), and how true it is that absolutely everything that happens is working it all out for good, "even the wicked for the day of destruction" (Prov.16:4); and of course the evil one himself and all of his actions are also merely part of the carrying out of the perfect plan of God.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello Dr.Luginbill,

At first I was confused by passages in these two references.

Matthew 25:31 and Revelation 20:11, thinking that these took place at different times. But then I looked carefully at Verse 31 which says at the end: "then He will sit on His glorious throne". This is not the "Second Coming" as I see it. Jesus will return to Heaven after the Millennial reign for the Judgment at the Great White Throne. Am I correct? Perhaps this is the New Heaven and new earth as it says in Rev. 20:11. "earth and heaven fled away"?

Who are those who come with Satan in Rev. 20:9. Maybe those unbelievers who remained on earth till the end of the tribulation and went into the Millennial? If not then who are they, certainly not believers, for they went up .

Thanks always for your unconfusing me.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Your friend,

Response #7:

These do happen at the same time in that the judgment of the goats is the same as the last judgment described in Revelation 20; the judgment (for assigning reward) of the Millennial believers is the judgment of the sheep; that is not mentioned at Revelation 20, but it precedes the goat / UB / "last" judgment. Here's where you'll find the details at Ichthys: in CT 6: "The Last Judgment".

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

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

The priest at my church has used a Greek word in a couple of sermons over the last several weeks. Last Sunday she said it again, and I am going to give you an English phonetic spelling: metanoiya. Sorry for the awkwardness, but that's how I wrote in down in an effort to recapture what she said. She said the word meant "to put on a new mind." I was quite enthralled by her sermon, and I'd really like to know the Greek word she has in mind if you can make a connection with this vague information.

Response #8: 

The word metanoia is the noun form of metanoeo, both very common in the NT. Usually these are translated "repentance / repent". Etymologically they do mean "change" (meta) of "mind" (nous). Repentance is one of the "baggage" words where the meaning has been warped somewhat by contemporary usage. Here are a couple of links to where I discuss it on the website:

Repentance (in BB 4B)

Repentance (in BB 3B)

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hello Bob!

Everything is great; thanks for checking on me. How have you been? I have prayed for you and your work situation, and the co-worker you mentioned to me, and of course your ministry.

I have been blessed in many ways since I last wrote, particularly with my job. I enjoyed the work I had before, but the company I worked for tried to work me into the ground. After warning them several times that I would not be abused, I had to part ways with them. The Lord provided me a new job before I left there. I absolutely love this job. I can choose my own workload, so the hours are great, and I am making significantly more money than I ever have. It's the first time in my life I've not been paycheck to paycheck.

My health seems to have improved, though it is still a constant source of aggravation and spiritual testing. I lost a good friend to cancer a couple months ago. He and I had grown apart but I still am concerned for his wife and daughter. I have my concerns about his eternal resting place as well, which I frankly just try not to think about. I know that he heard the gospel presented clearly and concisely on many, many occasions.

I have noticed that whenever I pray about understanding on a spiritual matter, your weekly email postings tend to contain the answer to whatever it is that I am asking The Lord to show me. It really is "miraculous" the way it works out. I do have a question though about forgiveness. The Bible says to forgive others as Christ forgave us. Does that mean to forgive others who seek our forgiveness genuinely, or just to forgive everybody for everything no matter how egregious the offense? I have been frankly shocked by how far out of their way people will go to cause me grief, though I have done them no wrong. I constantly have to remind myself to not be surprised if the world hates me, because I am not of this world. On occasion it truly is like living in the twilight zone when I find myself under attack from people or groups of people who dream up some offense, and on occasion have seemed to be under the influence of the unseen. It has been a nonstop struggle since I was a young child, except when I was living in sin a few years ago. The world loved me then. But I have counted the cost, and I carry on.

In Christ,

Response #9: 

Great to hear from you!

Thanks for your prayers, my friend. I've been keeping you in mine daily as well.

I'm very happy to hear that you have fallen into something good on the job front. That has been in my prayers as well. We know it's of the Lord. God is good! I'll put your new health concern on my list.

As to others we care about, this is a constant concern which I believe all Christians have. We all have family and friends and acquaintances whom we wish to be saved, and often we share with them in our concern, but are not certain that they have responded. I do know that the Lord loves us and knows our hearts. If there is any way for Him to bring those we love to salvation, therefore, I am certain He does so. We do have to keep in mind that this life is all about choice, and thus the principle of free will is never violated – but it is also true that nothing is impossible for God who knows the end from the beginning (and we can take comfort in that).

As to forgiveness, the best policy is indeed to forgive absolutely and to forget as best we can. The latter is never completely possible, and in terms of making us vulnerable going forward not entirely salutary. So if someone abuses our trust and love, we should indeed forgive them in our hearts – and even to their faces (if they ask for that) – but that doesn't mean that it's necessary for us to allow them back into our lives and our trust. In most cases – absent a coming to Christ (or back to Him) – that would be a most dangerous policy to pursue.

Thanks for the update, my friend!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Could you please explain the meaning of this verse?

“I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.
Amos 4:11

Response #10: 

Failure to respond by Israel even though blessed with multiple deliverances.

Most human beings have the same experience. God blesses them and delivers them, but still they do not turn to Him.

Question #11: 

Why was Cain so upset when God disapproved of him? I would reason that someone who didn't respect God wouldn't respect his judgment either.

Response #11: 

This is the typical unbeliever mind-set. Remaking God in their own image:

When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.
Psalm 50:21 NIV

Question #12: 

Dear Bob,

I have read, and understood, what you have written on*Apostasy and the sin unto Death* in BB3B. Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving the gospel message to a friend of mine - but sadly it was received with mocking, scorning and other anti-Christ statements - in addition to personal insults for believing in such a 'judgmental God '! I am aware that the gospel is offensive to the unbeliever but this lady said she was born-again many years ago but rejected it all - fully a while back.

I am now unsure what I am supposed to do because isn't it impossible for a person that has once been saved, then rejected Christ, to be saved again? Is this why her response was so full of hatred? I left the conversation while she mocked me and haven't been in touch since because I want to know what God would want me to do. Could you please advise?

Many Thanks

Response #12: 

I think your experience is most typical. In fact, I've experienced this too and know many positive believers who have as well. The truth is divisive, after all (Matt.10:34-39). Unbelievers who have "made peace" with the world and have hardened their hearts against the truth do not generally take kindly to having their whole approach to life exposed as a big fat lie. Of course they should! This is the only way to salvation. Trouble is, most don't want the Gift because it would mean subordinating themselves to God and His will, and that is where the true problem lies. So unless it is a case of the Spirit directing us to someone who is not only lost but also deep in the heart wanting to "be found", then we will be dealing with swine who will likely turn and trample us for our trouble on their behalf. So we have to be willing, ready and able to give the gospel, but also "wise as serpents" about the timing and the people we're presenting to.

As to recovery, our God is a God of love, mercy and grace. I would never dream of "selling Him short". Nothing is impossible for Him, and we have all probably seen veritably miraculous spiritual recoveries on the part of individuals whom we never imagined would or could ever come (or come back) to Him. As long as there is life, there is hope. We don't really know what's going on in the hearts of any other human being – it's hard enough sometimes to tell what's going on in our own. But we do know that the Lord hears our prayers and understands our concerns for others. He died for them all, after all, and wants them to be saved as well. If there is a way, He will find it. And if we have been led to be concerned and to try and do something about it, well, He knows that too – and that's been a part of the perfect plan too. So keep praying, keep exploiting reasonable opportunities when they are offered, salting your conversation with words of grace. There's no telling what the Lord may do – except that we know it will be for the absolute good of us who love Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have been reviewing the subject study and have the following comment: Regarding the following remark in your study:

"The parallels between the beast and the true Messiah will be both deliberate and numerous. If, as Jesus tells us in the verse above, even the elect will be tempted to interpret the signs and wonders of antichrist as proof of his Messiahship,"

I have found from my experience in the Pentecostal Church for decades that many of the Pentecostal believers? assemble together to specifically see "signs and wonders". They depend a lot on their emotions in the services; I was guilty of the same. I wonder sometimes how many attended the services to just worship God and hear His precious Word?

Well, that is not for me to decide, but when I read the remark you made above I immediately thought about what Jesus said in:

Matthew 16:4 - " 4A wicked and adulterous generation demands a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away."

Also, in John 6:26-27:

"26Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, it is not because you saw these signs that you are looking for Me, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.”

Just thought I would share these thoughts with you.

P.S. I have also discovered that Christians? depend and lean on their emotions a lot to replace their faith; or so it seems to me with the number of the people I have met in different churches.

I am not trying to pass judgment on anyone, but I think it is absolutely necessary to warn them about leaning on "signs and wonders" to bolster their faith. I think it is a mistake to do that. Feeling and emotions can be deceiving. I did preach that a number of times to congregations.

Love you in Jesus and dearly appreciate your ministry, being used by God to spread the truth.

Your friend,

Response #13: 

Always good to hear from you, my friend (hoping your trip goes well).

This has been my experience as well. When the truth is rejected, something else always sneaks in to substitute for it. The major trends I've seen here – and they're not mutually exclusive – are the hype/emotion/entertainment trend (of which the "fun" stuff charismatics focus on is one type), and the return to ritual in the manner of the Roman Catholic church. The former is a lie (and I hate lies) while the latter is pointless beyond expression (and such things make me bilious). For these reasons I can only bring myself to enter a typical Laodicean church when it's a matter of family obligation of the highest order (weddings and funerals mainly).

This is not passing judgment on others; it is recognizing trends which are setting up Laodicean Christians for great danger once the Tribulation begins.

Thanks for all your good words, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

I forgot to add that during the course of the Great Tribulation, perhaps since those believers still alive, and have in the past relied heavily on emotions or were looking for signs and wonders as I explained previously, they might possibly fall into the trap that satan has laid using the signs and wonders merely as a deceptive trick against those who were consistently relying on signs and wonders and emotions, "not testing the spirits to see if they are from God".

Thanks always for your encouragement in the Lord.

Your friend,

Response #14: 

That is indeed the danger, my friend. For the Great Apostasy (see the link) is prophesied to claim one third of lukewarm group of believers that finds itself under the pressures of the Tribulation – and the pressure of turning aside from signs and wonders that are real enough but have an evil origin will surely be one difficult to resist . . . for all who are not walking deep in the truth and close to the Lord.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

My wife was reading today in Luke chapter verse 8 and 9 which says:

"And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God." but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God".

In Matthew 10:32-33 says:

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

1. Why the difference between Luke and Matthew?
2. Why would Jesus confess the one who confesses Jesus before men, would He confess this person before the angels of God; vs 9 also mentions angels of God ?
3. Matthew does not mention that Jesus will confess all who confess him before men that He will confess them before angels of God?

The only answers that I could think of were:
1. Matthew is writing these verses as he sees it , and Luke as he sees it.
2. The angels of God that Jesus mentions He will confess this person before might be that Jesus of course knows that angels desire to look into this thing called salvation.

I would appreciate your thoughts on my comments so that I can tell my wonderful wife.

May He who lives pour out His blessings upon you always.

Your friend,

PS. I have been corresponding with our friend of late via email, as he asked me for my input into some subjects he is writing. I feel so blessed that he would have confidence in what little I can offer him. We were both trapped in Roman Catholicism for a time. He is a dear friend and brother and even though I have never personally met him I feel a kindred spirit with him. He mentions you a lot, as I do also since you have helped so many, but especially us two. I feel privileged to have met you. I mentioned to him that I would be thrilled to no end if I could meet him and yourself in person. What a joy that would be to me personally.

Response #15: 

The passages mean the same thing. Matthew focuses on the Father, Luke on the angels and elect believers, as the audience. But all of these will be in the audience when we stand before the Son for our life-evaluation. For Jesus to accept us as belonging to Him is the main thing, the difference between heaven and hell – and He receives ALL who are willing to receive in this life the Gift of Himself He offers freely to all. After the formal acceptance here, our genuine works will be rewarded and our false ones burned up. It's a blessing to have both passages, because we see in the combination that this must be referring to the Judgment seat of Christ (rather than some other judgment we've not heard about elsewhere). It's the blessing of blessings to have Christ confirm us as members of His Church – whoever the audience might be; and in the event, everyone who counts, the Father and the whole family of God who takes it's name from Him will be there (Eph.3:15).

p.s., yes, our friend is a wonderful Christian, and I'm grateful to the Lord for him!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill, I pray all is well with you

I was wondering a few things.

How does Satan influence world rulers to do evil, without a physical body?

Response #16: 

Hello Friend,

Good to hear from you – and thanks for your prayers.

Demon possession is one way. Demon influence, both direct and indirect is another. Details are found at the link in SR 4: "Satan's tactical methodology".

Question #17: 

If God gave Adam the authority over the earth, when and how did Satan become ruler of this world?

Response #17:

This is a result of the fall; the earth was cursed and Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden, leaving the evil one and his minions with a great deal of control (he is "prince of the power of the air" [Eph.2:2], demonstrating his lack of complete control; for the details, see the link in SR 4: "Satan's position after the fall").

Question #18: 

How are we to know that those who will be saved, true believers, are a very small percentage group of people?

Thanks as always

Response #18: 

Our Lord tells us as much (cf. Lk.13:22-30). And we can certainly affirm this by what we see going on in the world today where even most self-described Christians are not living much different from unbelievers, not growing, not visibly walking with Christ, and certainly not ministering to others – not the right way (there are of course a lot of self-righteous "works" taking place; the RC church is based on that false principle after all). Also, one could flip the question: what evidence is there either in the Bible or in what we can see from the church-visible that there is a proliferation of genuine faith in Christ? Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. Our Lord died for everyone, for all of our sins. So it seems to me from at least one point of view to be harder not to be saved – since all you have to do is "not say no" to the Gift of gifts in the Person and work of Christ; and yet this road of pride and rejection is the one the great majority have chosen in the history of the world, and the trend seems to me to be getting worse. When the Tribulation begins soon, it will surely become much worse still.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

I got this question from an atheist:  Who is the profane wicked prince of Israel that mentioned in Ezekiel 21:24-32?

Response #19: 

This person is the seventh king, one of the seven kings of revived Rome who back anti-Christ.

When it comes to atheists, however, no interpretation of any biblical passage is likely to change their minds about anything (and usually they are asking in order to "prove" that they are right and that "you" do not know what you are talking about).

Atheists have hardened their hearts to the point of rejecting a basic, fundamental truth which we all know well from birth as human beings endowed with the image of God (e.g., Rom.1:18-32). There is generally little profit in sharing the gospel or getting involved in theological discussions with atheists, therefore. It takes a special apologetic gift to be able to cope with their idiocy, and also a great deal of patience in a type of ministry where there is almost never any discernible fruit (in the form of anyone coming to Christ). For the rest of this, such exercises tend to be a case of throwing pearls in front of swine – so beware of being trampled.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Hi Bob,

Here is the reaction to your answer from the atheist:

"Really as of now i never heard some prophets or apostle telling the truth about God, they are all false Prophets and liars apostle base on

Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

in that case all of the apostle of Christ or Lucifer they are all LIARS."

What do you say about this Brother Bob?

Response #20: 

To be honest, I don't even know what this person is talking about.

Revelation 2:2 is the Lord Jesus Christ talking, but this person, an atheist, does not believe in Jesus Christ. So how does he accept that this statement he is quoting is true? Not that he understands what it means (he obviously does not).

As mentioned and suspected, these types love to get into arguments, but they are not interested in the truth, having even rejected the essential truths about God which all human beings have at birth (Eccl3:3):

God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness – on men who suppress the truth [about God] in their unrighteousness. For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His – [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity – so that they are without any excuse: they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him. Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness. Claiming to be wise, they became foolish, for they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for images and likenesses of corruptible men, of birds and beasts and reptiles (i.e., idolatry).
Romans 1:18-23

In dealing with such types, the best approach for a believer therefore – assuming he/she does not have an apologetic ministry, being called to witness to these particularly hard-hearted types, is to follow the Lord's advice:

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
Matthew 7:6 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hello my dear friend Bob,

Today we have heard some devastating news, a friend of a very close friend took his own life last night. He was HIV positive and also had cancer. I think he was due to have more chemo but couldn't face it. He had to self soothe a lot with opiates and alcohol. He was gay but I don't think he wanted to be and tried to settle into family life with a wife and children but it didn't work out.

I knew that he was interested in the Torah and frequently met with a local Rabbi. I prayed that he turned to Jesus in the end but I was saddened to hear that he had actually converted to Judaism from a Christian upbringing.

I've been praying for him today, please could you pray for him also. I've prayed that he found Jesus again before the end.

It's hard to know what to say in a situation like this. I only met him once but __ was very fond of him and is rocked by the news. He was planning on meeting up with him today as he kept postponing meeting up with him but heard the news this morning from his __. There's something about that cruel coincidence that cuts deep.

I guess the best thing to do when talking about a passed unbeliever in Christ to agnostics is to keep it all in humanist terms. It's difficult to know which words of comfort to use now that I know the truth of this world and the next.

I am praying to God about him because I know with God anything is possible.

Do you have any advice on how best to handle such a tragic loss? Being that it is a suicide?

There's something particularly cruel about suicide in that it denies the people left behind even precious little in the way of hope or comfort.

In our loving Saviour,

Response #21: 

I'm sorry to hear this.

One often doesn't know about the departed. Sometimes the Lord gives us indications of reassurance in the case of loved ones. But we're all here to make "the decision" (and then all of the others that follow in train if we choose the right path). Sometimes believers do make this mistake of taking their own lives. The Bible tells us of Saul, for example. So we can pray for those who are still here, still fighting the fight, and pray for the loved ones and friends of those who have departed. But once we are on the other side, there is no more intervention from those here below. Rather, those above are cheering us on, basking in the glory of the Father and the Son. I certainly hope that such is the case with your friend. I will say a prayer for friends and family.

In Jesus our merciful Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Dear Professor

I would like to share with you a couple of reactions I received about a week ago to the scriptures. One was from my friend. He became quite angry and insistent that the Bible was written by man and so NOT to be trusted. The other was from my work colleague who insisted with the same sort of argument. (Bible written by man - so not divine).

Me: Would you believe a man who apparently comes back from the dead and his (false) prophet makes fire come from heaven and makes an image come to life?

Colleague: Now, I WOULD believe that. That is what I want. PROOF! I can see that with my own two eyes.

Me: That is the antichrist.

Colleague: Well at least I can believe what I see! Not what is written by man.

Me: (Astounded!)

People are waiting for the proof. (And will RECEIVE it!) Scary.

While others are looking for the “real thing” (and not written words), they miss the TRUTH so plainly in front of them. Jesus said I tell you ALL things before hand so you will KNOW.

I thank you and I am so grateful to you for your teaching of the truth from the Bible. I am emboldened by your absolute faith in the absolute truth of the Bible.

Also, If I may indulge in a Mark question. Perhaps I have overlooked it in your writings. Mark 14: 50-52: Is the certain young man who fled naked, Mark, the writer of the gospel of Mark? I was presented this by my friend who said it must have been as ALL forsook Jesus and fled, so that the one writing must have been Mark, being the last to leave and therefore able to write of what he personally experienced.

In our only One dear Savior Jesus Christ

Your student

Response #22: 

On what you've shared, this would be amusing if it were not so absolutely appalling. It is amazing to me also how the Bible can be so easily dismissed. I would say also "misunderstood", but I think what is really going on is that such individuals are threatened by the truth of the Bible and have learned to fall back on this "point of view" as a defense against having to ever interact with scripture.

"Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’?"
Luke 16:27-31 NKJV

That is the truth about proof. Even though Jesus has risen from the dead, still unbelievers refuse to believe (cf. Jn.20:24-29).

Your use of the false prophet and antichrist was brilliantly right to the point: visible proof is often deception; only what the Spirit tells us is true really is.

On Mark 14:50-52, that is a very common, perhaps the most common, interpretation, namely, that this young man was Mark. I don't subscribe to the "it had to be him for him to see it with his own eyes" theory, because anyone inspired by the Spirit will be given all the details the Spirit wants included, even if they've not seen them themselves (e.g., Moses had never laid eyes on Adam and Eve). One reason I think this is probably Mark is because of the tradition of reticence when it comes to such things. John only identifies himself as "the disciple Jesus loved" without mentioning his own name (Jn.13:33; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20), and Paul speaks of himself indefinitely in the same way as well (2Cor.12:2-5).

Your determination to share and stand up for the Word of God is an inspiration to me as well, my friend!

Keeping you in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your kind reply.

Last nights meeting was attended by the high school teacher (goes to same church as my friend), as well as a young backpacker with whom I have a little in common, she coming from East Germany; my mother was from West Berlin which was located inside East German territory. She also attends same church when she can. She is only here another 3 weeks so I could not waste time and gave her your business card. She has the same consternation I had up until quite recently of being pained by the thought her friends would be in Hell. Though she said she would rather go to hell with her friends, than be in heaven and sad, at the thought her friends would suffer eternally.

My gratitude for your devotion to the truth (and wherever it leads).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior

Your student

Response #23: 

This is more hardness of heart "armor plate" unbelievers use, even if this one is a unique twist. Usually I hear that "God couldn't be like that" so He must be as "I" imagine Him (or reconstruct Him; cf. Ps.50:21). This person clearly doesn't realize the implications of her choice – or she does/did and has blotted it out, merely explaining it to herself this way.

Thanks as always for your updates and your good fight for the Lord.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Also after the small amount of practice reading Greek (or trying), I am also doing better reading the Bible. I mean before, my mind would glaze over the odd long sentences, but now I start to do what I do with Greek and think subject, direct object, etc. Weird, right?

I was going to ask what you meant by them not exploiting what they had to grow spiritually. I wondered if all my reading and studying was doing any good-was I growing spiritually...how would I know etc. I realized one example: there is a memory I have of when my grandparent, my brother, and myself (younger than teen aged) in the snowy country when the car was breaking down. And I remember my grandfather and grandmother wanting us to sing worship songs. But afterwards when the car stopped anyway, they made out like the reason it didn't work was that we didn't do xyz/have enough faith/sing the worship song so God didn't fix it. Sort of the ginning up of emotion and worship thing. Very Pentecostal to be honest.

But I have grown since I began talking to you. Before, I used to think God was talking to me. I feel embarrassed to type that. And I let myself think my emotion dictated how God felt towards me, etc. If I felt bad, something was wrong. If I sang worship songs, and ginned up the right emotion and 'faith,' He would do what I thought He should (I mean in my mind it wasn't like that, but that was the reality). I did read some of the portions you have on that. And I don't think those things anymore, or let my emotions have a say in my faith. Now I first see if I messed up, and then pray, and then let God decide whatever happens and accept. (Or try to do that). I am sorry to always bother you. But your teachings are very helpful.

Response #24: 

I'm happy to hear of your progress in Greek!

As to exploitation of opportunity, it's all about spiritual growth, namely, hearing the truth, learning the truth, believing the truth and applying the truth. The Bible is important to know (obviously), but it does not have much "truth prepared for consumption" beyond basics. To grow, a believer needs access to a good teaching ministry where the truth is actually taught; growth will occur when that truth is listened to AND believed, and then applied to one's life. The Bible is analogous to a turnip root pulled out of the garden. One can gnaw on it and some nutrition can be gotten that way, but it's much better after being pureed, seasoned and served up piping hot with a large dollop of butter – along with all other elements of a balanced meal. The analogy is not exact, but you get the idea (see Peter #13 re: the "kitchen" and "the cook"). Christian books can be negative since they often block nutrition by providing things not true and/or confusing; and it's also true that "knowing" four different interpretations of passage/principle X will usually result in having complete faith in none of them – and only faith in the truth can produce growth. To use another rough analogy, I heard once about an individual who was suffering from a debilitating disease that mystified the doctors at first but was finally diagnosed as scurvy: turns out he had been existing exclusively on "Hot Pockets" and hadn't had any vitamin C for the longest time. Point: things that may often look nutritious aren't, and can even affect one negatively.

We all need the same thing: the truth in depth and detail. No amount of information or ritual or emotional experience or anything else can ever be a substitute.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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