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Fighting the Fight:

Accountability, Faith, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reward

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Question #1:

Can the fear of the Lord be associated with the willingness to be helped and respond to the Spirit?

Response #1:

The fear of the Lord is godliness: looking to Him in all things out of reverence, respect, and fear, and guiding all of our ways out of a responsiveness and obedience to Him. It is in that voluntary subordination out a deep and appreciative appraisal of who He really is that constitutes a truly godly fear. So, yes, willingness to do His WILL is a key part of true reverence, and it is impossible to do anything correctly in this world without the help of the Spirit.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
Psalm 19:9a NIV

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
Proverbs 1:7a NKJV

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
Proverbs 28:14 ESV

Question #2:

Dear Bob,

I'm sorry to come back so soon with questions, but, I did have a couple of concerns more, but they're for other people more than myself. I know I can't do anything about it in the end, but, I'm not sure how I should be going about things with it. For one, I have a family member who has autism. I was wondering what kind of plan God has for people like him? His mental capacities are limited, he's partially independent, but he doesn't really have the awareness or mindset to think about God or Jesus like you or I can. He is essentially going to be the mental equivalent to about a 3 or 4 year old for the rest of his life. I'm not aware if there are any answers in scripture about people like him, and I'd like to assume people like him are saved, are they?

The other one you've probably definitely been asked before, and I know the biblical views on homosexuality, but since family is involved, I don't know what to think. Another family member 'came out' later in life and revealed herself to be gay. In the end, it's her decision, and I can never do anything about it, but how should I feel about this? So far, I've accepted it and do not fault her for it or anything, but I do pray she'll one day "not be". I'm not sure if that's right of me or not. She and her girlfriend both told me they are believers in God, but I'm not sure if it's general being agnostic or if they're actually Christian or not. I would like to think so, but I don't know. So, I pray that they'll one day change, and pray God will forgive them, and other than that nothing ever comes up about it. I am doing the right thing, right?

Response #2:

Only the Lord knows what is truly going on in any human heart; I can, however, address these two questions in general terms.

First, everyone who fails to achieve mental maturity (through death or injury or limited capacity of whatever sort) is automatically saved. There will be representatives of "every nation, tribe, people and language" in the Family of God for just this reason: everyone who dies before reaching the "age of accountability" is not condemned because they did not reject God's plan for salvation in Jesus Christ (see the links: "the Age of Accountability"; "Infant Salvation"; "Severe Mental Handicaps Ensure Salvation"). Your brother will be in heaven.

Adults who are well aware of their actions are another story. Contrary to popular culture, modern psychology, and anthropology, biblically speaking sex is a choice. And the only legitimate sex is that which occurs between two married partners. We all sin and fall and fail in many ways. Being tempted to sin is not a sin. If a person is attracted to a member of the opposite sex but does not engage in illicit behavior with him/her, that attraction is not a sin. Similarly, if a person is attracted to a person of the same sex but does not engage in illicit behavior with him/her, that attraction is not a sin. Sin is sin; temptation is temptation; genuine Christians recognize them both for what they are, fight the latter and confess the former when they do fail, fall, sin. The danger comes when a Christian stops caring about sin, or, even worse, begins to justify sin (for whatever reason). Once that happens, faith quickly erodes. Sinning without stopping leads to sinning without confessing which leads to excusing sin which leads to thinking sin is unimportant which leads to justifying one's behavior, and it is virtually impossible to commit this last outrage against one's own conscience without destroying it and alienating oneself from the truth of God entirely. That is the danger in sin: it forces us to make a choice between the truth of God and the "truth" we prefer, and if we make the wrong choice emphatically enough and long enough the heart hardens, faith dies, and apostasy results (see the links: "The Problem of Unbelievers and Hardening of the Heart" and "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death"). Of course, it is also possible in all such cases that the person in question was never a Christian in the first place (even the demons believe in God – they are merely unwilling to submit to Him as is the case with all human unbelievers). The silver lining here is that as long as there is life, there is hope. Just as there are all manner of horrible stories about those who once believed who fell away, so there are plenty of cases when the least likely candidates for salvation are turned around by the Lord's intervention (Paul comes to mind). My only advice here, and please take it with at least a grain of salt because only you know the details, would be to maintain as loving as possible a relationship with all family members – you didn't choose them, after all – with as much distance needed to keep yourself safe. Witness to them with your life and with your love, and if questioned, tell the truth. People don't go to hell because of sins; people go to hell because they choose to go to hell; they choose to reject the authority of God in refusing to accept His Son Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – and if a person is really dedicated to the Lord, that person will fight to turn away from sin, no matter how difficult and lengthy a process it is (as opposed to embracing it and reveling in it: 1Jn.3:6-8). Whether they are good or bad or ethical or not or sinful or immoral or upright, believers in Jesus Christ are saved; those who spurn Him do so of their free will and are not.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

How do we lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven?

Response #3:

There is an old saying which is blessed and true: "Only one life, t'will soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last". After our resurrection, we shall all "stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom.14:10; 2Cor.5:10). At that time, we Christians will all be evaluated by our Lord so that everyone "may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" – (that is), the use we have made of the opportunity which life after salvation represents. Every good decision we make for the Lord, learning and believing the truth, applying it to our lives and passing the tests which come, and helping others do the same through the ministries to which He has called us, will receive a reward, even "a cup of cold water" given in the Lord's Name (Matt.10:42). However, everything which represents wasted time and effort will be of no value on that day and will be burned up instead (see the link: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church"):

(10) According to the grace of God given to me like a wise architect I have laid down a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay another foundation except the One that has been laid down: Jesus Christ. (12) And if someone builds upon his foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, [or] with wood, hay, and stubble, (13) [in either case] his work will be made manifest [as to its true quality], for the Day [of judgment] will make it clear [for what it truly is], because it will be revealed (lit., uncovered) with fire. And the fire will evaluate (lit., "assay") the work of each person as to what its [true] quality is. (14) If anyone's work which he has built [on his foundation of faith in Christ] remains (i.e., is not burnt away by the fiery evaluation), he will receive a reward [for it]. (15) If anyone's work is burnt up, he will suffer the loss [of any potential reward for it], but he himself will be saved – but in this way [just described] as through fire [which evaluated his false works as worthless and burnt them up].
1st Corinthians 3:10-15

Hope you find this helpful – please feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

For me, Faith, Love and Free will are the most difficult topics to understand no matter how much study and questions I ask. How closely connected is faith, love and free will? Is it Faith in his character that God finds pleasing? For many, it is hard to believe in things they cannot see. What is one really saying if they lack faith in GOD? Is faith as simple as believing what God says and acting on it? I.e., Noah spending years to build the Ark or the offering of Isaac by Abraham? Noah believed God would bring the flood and Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead. God responded by saying he now knew Abraham loved him. Was this because he was willing to sacrifice what he loved most to obey God? Why did God love Solomon? This was stated very early in the story of King Solomon, before he did much of anything and I think at his birth this was stated. Why do so many refuse to do what good they can with the free will they have? Humbleness is a characteristic that I see less and less of as I get older. In closing, what are the aspects of faith and how is it best demonstrated, how can we tell who really loves God (with the imperfections we have) and what does free will demonstrate?

Response #4:

These are good questions and hard ones too. In my estimation of these matters, the issues of free will and faith are largely indistinguishable. We are here in this world to determine whether or not we want to have anything at all to do with God, and if so, how much so. For believers, for all who have fled to take refuge under His wings, the issue in most important matters is usually one of trust. Loving Him means appreciating who He is and what He has done for us. The cross is the foundation of all creation and is the essential outpouring of the love of God. We can only love Him because He loved us first. If we are willing to respond to Him, He is pleased with that proper response. If we really do want to please Him, He gives us all the instruction we would ever want to know how to do so. God is truth, and all who wish to serve Him properly must do so in response to His Spirit and His truth (Jn.4:23-24). So for me it always comes back to the Word of God – attention to the Bible is the only way we can know anything at all about Him who is the Word, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The more we know about Him, the closer we can walk with Him, responding to Him and His love by loving Him back in doing what He wants us to do. Solomon had such a heart to know the Lord, at least in his early years. His collection of the Psalms, his writing of the books of Job and Ecclesiastes, were emblematic of someone who knew the Lord and loved the Lord and responded to the Lord in faithful following and expression of the truth. With this God is always well-pleased. So he is a good model for "how to do it" – and also for what to avoid (having allowed himself to be distracted by worldly matters later in life: 1Ki.11:9-11).

Question #5:

Could you clarify Romans 9:11-21?

11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

I believe that through our correspondence and your writings I arrived at the understanding of the relationship between free will and God's plan and it is clear to me how these two are not mutually exclusive, even if it may seem so initially.

Although, the way Paul goes about explaining this issue in Romans 9:11-21 isn't clear to me. Rather than clarifying this difficult problem that certainly many believers and non-believers struggled with throughout the ages, he first seems to be saying that "it is what it is" (verse 18) and then answers the anticipated question on part of the reader (verse 19) by saying that it is not man's place to answer back to God (verse 20). And all this is done while asserting about God's justice (verse 14), which is exactly what needs clarifying here.

I'm perplexed by this and I cannot help but wonder how much these verses aided the understanding of the readers of Paul's epistle. I would appreciate your clarification of this fragment and Paul's method of going about the problem. I understand that this is scripture and that it is correct - in fact, it doesn't deem untrue any of the points you made regarding the relationship of free will, God's election and salvation. What I struggle with is the way Paul approaches this problem, which, if I was a believer in Paul's day and had this chapter read to me, would probably find it very hard to arrive at the correct understanding of the issue.

Response #5:

I think Paul's point is to squelch discussion on this issue rather than to explain. He was dealing with an element at Rome that wanted to use rhetoric to turn scripture on its head, so on this point He makes it crystal clear that God cannot be manipulated or defied. The net emotional effect of reading this passage for an unbeliever with any sort of inclination to come to God at all is to strive might and main to show that he/she does not fall into the category of those predestined for condemnation (rather than to give up and say "oh well"). So as Bible teaching goes, it is very powerful. The best biblical teaching does more than just explain; the best biblical encouragement does more than just produce emotional response. The best of both worlds brings the truth home to the hearer in a way which cannot be denied and which leads said person to act positively in response to God and His truth. That does not always produce the clarity of a very detailed and careful academic lecture or the feel-good high of a purely inspirational talk – but it does accomplish God's will that we understand, believe, and act on His truth (that is, for all who are willing to be led by His Spirit). On the theological issues involved here please see BB 4B: Soteriology: "The Problem of Unbelievers".

Question #6:

Dear Bob,

I started Hebrews an just finished with Chapter 3, and had a question about a phrase I think I keep seeing repeated. In this chapter, it's Hebrews 3:14, and it is about the state of believing. This is somewhat related to the subject of when I first came to you, and could use a little bit of reassurance on this matter. Anyway, Hebrews 3:14:

"14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ." – NLT

"14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end," – NASB

"14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end." – NIV

Does this refer to a continual state of belief from start to finish, without falling away, even for a short time? Or is this referring to being in the state of 'being a believer' when one crosses the finish line? I don't get why this still (very partially) bugs me, since I am absolutely sure that back then I didn't stop believing, and that my faith plant – while starving, at the time, was not dead. Even so, I can't quite fully shake these fear/doubts of myself in their entirety. Most of the time I'm assured and confident, but sometimes if I think back to then, the concerns come up. I am glad to say the concerns are only that at this point – concerns, and they're not the full-blown paralyzing fear I felt when I first came to you.

I hope to hear from you soon, friend.

Response #6:

I am certain of what these verses do not mean. They do not mean "if you ever had any sort of a lapse in the middle, then your are disqualified". As you surmise, these words do refer to where you are at in terms of faith when you cross the finish line. Theologically, it is in some doubt (in my mind) whether or not the category of those who believed, then came not to believe at all, then came back to Christ a second time is "an empty set" or not – and not because of any "unwillingness" on God's part for someone like that to be saved. Rather it's a question of whether or not someone who truly comes to reject Christ entirely would ever want to recover and return. So for anyone who at this moment DOES have faith in Christ, then the issue is a moot point. And, after all, it's not like Paul could have / would have written anything like "as long as you hold onto your faith firm until the end or if you lose it get it back again before it's too late"; even if Paul did understand things in that way, what a bad message to send! The whole point is the importance of maintaining faith; plugging in a rider which suggests that, well, maybe it's not of such a critical importance after all because you might still bounce back is inviting apostasy. And, lest we forget, he is writing to this letter to those he feels can be helped – believers; not to unbelievers who are lost forever (what would have been the point then?).

But you, my brother in Jesus, need not worry at all about the past. As long as we hold onto our faith firm until the end, we are definitely going to walk with Jesus forever.

Here are some links on this passage/subject:

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation.

Hebrews 10:26 again

Does Hebrews 10:26 teach loss of salvation?

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Bob,

Greetings, my brother in Christ, as I commend and congratulate you in the completion of Part 7 of the CT Series. Thank you for your prayers and your work of love in Ichthys which continue to guide me in the study of the Word of God. In "The value of cumulative prayer" (first posted 9/3/05), you mentioned that "Prayer is another one of those subject wherein I am compiling data (for eventual treatment in the Basics series)..." As you might have gathered in my email request for your prayers, I have found refuge in praying to God in dealing with difficulties I encounter in life. It was in this light that I searched (and continue to search) for some materials on prayer (while eagerly awaiting your treatment of the subject as part of the Basics series) that I found the attached material in http://www.thechristian.org/multimedia/
ebooks/spendingtimewiththelord.pdf I found the "full scholarship" analogy and the discussion on beholding the glory of God therein helpful. As my bible teacher, may I humbly seek your views on the said material if and when your schedule allows the time for it.

You and your ministry are in my prayers. Please continue praying for me.

Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Response #7:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I am very pleased to learn that you are not only persevering in Jesus but that you are also striving to serve Him through the ministry of the Word.

As to this paper, if I had any comments for the writer it would be to consider the audience. A person may be growing by leaps and bounds in the truth of the Word of God. However, that is not the case for everyone. While the spiritually mature are like a three inch thick copper cable – ready, willing and able to accept a torrent of spiritual current, others are on the level of a single copper strand – if too much "juice" is forced through it, it will blow. What I mean is that the writer is taking all manner of biblical truths for granted, both in the text and in the subtext, whereas those who are not as advanced may not achieve the same results of such "meditation" and will not necessarily understand why.

After all, traditional church members who are for all that unbelievers are not going to experience bliss with the Lord even if they put the suggestions into practice to the letter – because they have not accepted the basic truth of the gospel. Analogously, the problem many immature believers will have in communing with the Lord in prayer is that they will have so very little to commune with Him about. To love someone, you really have to get to know the person, and the only way we can get to know Jesus is through the Word of God. Not only that, but when it comes to biblical truth, it really is only God's truth that can empower the sort of dynamic inner-life relationship related here – and only truth that has been appropriated into the heart by believing it (i.e., rendering it epignosis; see the link: "Faith Epistemology"). When you meditate on the Lord and all of His wonders, if you think about it you will see that you are meditating on truths about Him that you have learned and come to fully believe. That is the "capacitance" which the Spirit uses to produce powerful spiritual experiences – but without this fund of truth in the heart to access and consider there won't be much going on in prayer and meditation no matter how diligent a person is in the application of these things. The danger here for those who are marginal Christians or, worse, who are legalistic ones, is that this system may be reduced to a series of rituals devoid of power. The Spirit provides the true power, of course, and our attitude of heart in engaging that power is fundamentally important, but the primary means of engaging in our focusing on Jesus is the taking in of the truth of the Word of God and believing it. If we have done that, a certain amount of what is written here will come naturally, and the advice will then be welcome and beneficial. But without the critical capital of truth stored in the heart through believing correct doctrine and making it one's own through faith, no amount of energy, discipline or consistency will be able to push any sizable current through that tiny wire, regardless of the voltage employed.

Your friend and fellow warrior for Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Bob,

Thanks for your prompt reply and the insights you shared on the material attached to my email. But thanks for reviewing the material. I can use it more confidently now, while keeping in mind your reminders about the role of the Spirit to avoid ritualistic/legalistic pitfalls. My prayers for you and your ministry. Corresponding with you always encourages me in the faith. Yours in the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who first loved us,

Response #8:

You're most welcome. As to the content of the piece, I would only reiterate what I said before, namely, that in my view the only way these wonderful things can happen in a genuine way and unforced way is when the truth of the Word of God has come to saturate the heart of the Christian in question. When that happens, a certain amount of the experience of walking ever closer with Jesus is automatic – but it is never completely so. We still have decide what to think – and what not to think. Free will and choice will always be a part of the process. That is true in learning the truth through Bible reading and accessing teaching; that is true in believing what we read and study and hear; that is also true in making the choice to apply the truth we have learned and committed to our hearts through faith. For more on the process of "re-training" our thinking for the Lord (in addition to the previous links), please see:

Walking with Jesus

The Need to Transform our Thinking (in BB 4B)

Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?

Pursuing a Deeper Relationship with Jesus and Christian Epistemology.

Christian Mental "Reprogramming".

Introduction to Virtue Thinking (in Peter #16)

Techniques of Virtue Thinking (Peter #17)

Sin and Spiritual Transformation

The Christian Walk

Controlling thoughts and sin

Spiritual Growth, Church-Searching and "Discipling"

Also, I think you'll find that my good friend pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy site has some terrific materials on this this as well (see the link). Some of the studies designated "for children" are really wonderful for adults as well (I know I get an awful lot out of them).

I am indeed keeping you in my prayers my friend, daily, and I am greatly encouraged by your continued and continuing efforts to draw closer to Jesus and grow in Him. In this course there is not only spiritual safety, but also great reward. I pray that the Lord will guide you into just the right ministry and just the right preparation for it (and I know He will). May you win the three crowns, and may we celebrate that together before the Lord Jesus on that wonderful day to come!

Please feel free to write me any time. And thank you so much for your prayers! They mean a lot to me.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Dear Bob,

Thank you for your email and the links to particular excerpts in Ichthys you provided.

Revisiting Virtue Thinking and Christian Epistemology in relation to praying/meditation based on Biblical Truths and the Gospel has renewed my Christian walk, in the face of difficult circumstances. As you pointed out in one of the links:

"We need to take full responsibility for what we think at all times and how we feel at all times. We have the right to think about the truth as we have learned it from scripture and to re-orient ourselves to the true priorities of life when we are getting thrown off-balance. And we have the right to encourage ourselves in the Lord through His Word and through the principles of truth we know and believe whenever we are "feeling bad" (as David did: 1Sam.30:6). Life is too short to think things that are not "the above things" (Col.3:14). Life is too short not to feel elated about our status as part of Christ's own body and the blessed hope of the resurrection. And life is too short not to take maximum advantage of the time and free will we have been given down here on earth to earn rewards that glorify our Savior for all eternity - indeed, that is precisely what He wants us to do..."

Thanks for your prayers and for your ministry's being a blessing to me and our brothers and sisters in Christ, as I join you in seeking the Lord's eternal rewards.

Praying for you in the good fight of faith in Jesus Christ,

Response #9:

You are most welcome.

I appreciate your spirit and your enthusiasm – and I am very grateful for your prayers.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #10:

I'm curious about the idea of God's will in our life. Does he have a specific plan for us where we have our major steps in life planned out by him? Or is his will in our life more general? Meaning his will is for us to become more like him, grow spiritually, witness to others, etc? I know there are verses that talk about a righteous mans steps are ordered of the Lord, and jer 29:11 is a popular verse used to say god has a specific plan for our life. But I'm wondering if maybe those verses aren't translated correctly, or if their meaning is improperly derived given our current culture and the culture they were written in.

I'm guessing there is a balance of some kind between the two and am curious your opinion on this.

I appreciate your efforts and continue to find this website a fantastic resource. I'm immensely thankful of your hard work. Keep up the good work sir.

Response #10:

Always good to hear from you. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I think it is true that there probably is a "first best plan", a hypothetical life itinerary for everyone which the Lord may show us at our judgment so we can see what "might have been" had we been 100% perfect in all of our choices throughout our lives. On the other hand, no one is anywhere close to "batting" that percentage. That goes even for the greats. Moses would have entered the promised land if he had not made the mistake he made in hitting the rock instead of speaking to it as he was told to do. On the other hand, where would that leave Joshua? And where would that leave the 144,000 who will be guided in their ministry by Moses and also by Elijah who likewise has "unfinished business" on account of a horrific "unforced error" which God is graciously allowing him to come back and conclude. In other words, all of our mistakes are completely integrated into the Plan of God as God foreknew absolutely everything that we did in fact choose. As I say and explain at great length in Bible Basics 4B: Soteriology (see the link), "we are who we chose to be, and God made us who we chose to be". As I also explain in that study, this is not fatalism but actually the farthest thing from it. No one could exist without the environment of life God has provided and no one could have or exercise free will, the very image of God, without God having first ordained it in His plan. That is to say, foreknowledge of all we would do and the divine decree of all that we did do does not preempt free will; rather, it is the thing which makes the exercise of our free will choices possible. And the "coin of the realm" which pays for all this is the blood of Jesus Christ: if our Savior had not been willing to come into the world and die for all of mankind's sins, and if that paying of the price for them all was not foreordained to take place at Calvary, then nothing that has is or will happen would be possible. The cross is the foundation of everything.

Looked at from the "big picture", God certainly knew that we would believe and also what gifts He would give us and how we would respond to Jesus not only at salvation but thereafter. That responsiveness most certainly played a large part in the role He gave us in carrying out His plan for the Church. From a personal and practical point of view, we are making all of those decisions now. Every time we choose to read our Bible, every time we choose not just to read it but take it in, every time we choose to believe truth, meditate on truth, act on truth in how we lead our emotions, how we think about what think about, what we say and all that we do, each and every choice contributes to the sum of "who we are" and "how much we love Jesus". And these are the really important questions: what are we doing for the Lord here in our short time on earth and how great is the reward we are winning? Questions like "should I buy the generic cereal or the brand name?" and "who should I marry" are of much less significance – except to the extent that they affect the bigger issues of spiritual growth, progress and production (and admittedly the question of marriage has a larger and potentially more negative effect than does consumer choice).

So you are right that there is one over-riding will for us all: to be saved and to win the greatest possible reward in the most effective service for the Lord possible. But it is also true that our Lord is supervising this process. If we want to spend eternity with Him, He sees to it that we get the gospel. If we want to grow up spiritually, He sees to it that we find the right source of Bible teaching (as challenging as being consistent with learning and believing and applying the truth may well be). If we want to make progress in growing closer to Him, He sees to it that we receive just the right testing (as painful as that will almost certainly be). And if we really do want to serve Him and win top honors, He sees to it that we come into just the right ministry (as difficult as it may be to wait, to engage, and to persevere in order to do it right). He does direct our steps – but we still have to do the stepping.

Feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ the One who gave up everything for us – may we prove worthy in our responses to Him.

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

HOPE ALL IS WELL!!!

Are the WORKS (hay, wood and stubble) of 1Cor. 3:12 classified as SINS?

Are there not only two types of WORKS mentioned in ALL of Scripture - RIGHTEOUS or UNRIGHTEOUS (Good or Bad)? Are there really RIGHTEOUS, UNRIGHTEOUS, and ALMOST RIGHTEOUS (Good, Bad, and Almost Bad) WORKS. Is there really SIN, NON-SIN and ALMOST SIN?

Apostle Paul declare in 2Cor. 5:10 that when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ we shall be judged for either GOOD or BAD Works - does he really include ALMOST BAD Works as well?

I am having Pastors who support the misguided notion of Eternal Security tell me that these WORKS of Hay, Wood and Stubble are not SINS - but rather the following...

If we build a children's hospital in "our own energy" - "out of fellowship", even "in the Name of Jesus", it is "wood, hay, and stubble" - NOT SIN.

However, I can indeed understand why they wouldn't want these Hay, Wood, and Stubble WORKS to be classified as SINS at their Judgment - seeing that they have BOLDLY declared that ABSOLUTELY 100% of all FUTURE Sins receive ABSOLUTE appropriated/imputed FORGIVENESS for all perpetuity (infinity) at the moment of the Justification (New Birth) experience - and they become EQUAL to Christ in ABSOLUTE Sanctification and Righteousness.

In my book - this claim is Non-Scriptural, repugnant and blasphemous to the Cross.

Response #11:

Good to hear from you. I have covered the judgment and reward of the Church in some considerable detail at the following link: in CT 6: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church". I treat 1st Corinthians 3 in that place, but am happy to give you the gist of my interpretation here.

First, as you know, while I do not believe it is an easy thing to lose salvation – a person has to stop believing in Christ, stop being a believer, for apostasy to occur – it certainly is possible, and sin plays a role in the process of apostasy because when unconfessed, unrepented of, and embraced, it hardens a person's heart against God and His truth, and may lead to the death of faith (see the link: in BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death"). But only believers will be involved in the judgment described in 1st Corinthians chapter 3, so this is an evaluation of earthly service rather than a contest of life and death.

The fact that wood, hay and stubble are directly opposed to gold, silver and precious stones is the key to the interpretation. Since all of these things are "product", that, in my view, has to be the meaning of the bad as well as of the good references. This impression is reinforced by the words used to describe the production: all of these things are "built on a foundation" (v.12), and then in verses 14-15 both categories are described as the "work" (ergon) the person has produced. In other words, all the choices we made in this life, their effects, and our motivations in making them.

There is an important distinction which needs to be drawn here between the penalty for sin (which Jesus has paid for all the sins of all mankind) and the consequences of sin. The latter are also significant, and the specific consequences depend upon the specific situation. For example, when we as believers commit sin, we are responsible to repent of it and confess it to the Lord (1Jn.1:9); even so, there will most likely be some divine discipline forthcoming (Heb.12), and of course natural consequences as well (i.e., if we damage a relationship through sinful behavior, confession/repentance will "get us right with God" but not necessarily with the person we have wronged; please see the link: in BB 3B: "The Natural Consequences of Sin"). In terms of the Judgment Seat of Christ, since we have been forgiven our sins, all of us who appear before Him as believers on that great day of days certainly have nothing to fear in terms of our eternal status of life instead of death – but the consequences of the judgment should indeed be a matter of reverent fear to us here and now, specifically because we are going to be held to account for all of our choices, good and bad:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord (i.e., anticipating this judgment), we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
2nd Corinthians 5:10-11

It is difficult to see how our negative behavior of every sort could not be part of the evaluation on that day. After all, those who are barely rewarded at all will have made many selfish choices, many bad choices, many sinful choices, which resulted in their near total lack of productivity for our Lord. Their "work", that is, everything they have "produced" in this life, will be burnt up . . . but they themselves will escape "yet though as through fire" (cf. Is.59:4-8). For those who have not truly lived their lives for Jesus Christ it won't be a pleasant experience to have Him point this out in great detail. In short, Christ will examine our entire lives, and we will have to give an account for everything we have done and failed to do. But the nature of this account will not be for damnation or condemnation – we believers have passed from death to life. The evaluation will be to demonstrate the quality of our lives, the quality of our work, or the lack thereof. For everyone of us, it will be a bit of a mixed bag.

No one is without sin, and those who feel they are have blinded themselves to many categories of sin in order to justify themselves because of restraint in a few categories. We believers will all escape the burning up of the pointless things of our lives. The real question is whether or not we will have anything left to show for our short time here once the fire assays everything we have done. Many people have a false impression about what is valued by the Lord (gold/silver/precious stones). The bottom line is that everything He wants us to do is valuable; everything we do apart from His will is not. The latter category no doubt includes all of our poor and selfish choices which were obviously antagonistic to Him and His will. But it also clearly includes – and Paul's main focus here is on this part of the equation as described above – things believers "did for God" that God never wanted them to do (or things they really did for themselves). There is much wasted effort out there in the church-visible, and much done in God's Name which is really being done for personal benefit. And while only the Lord really knows whether some of the clearly pointless things being done in His Name are being done out of good but misguided motives or not, the wood/hay/stubble appearance they give (to anyone who is serious about the truth of scripture) leads me to believe that we are likely to see more ashes than lasting rewards on that great day to come.

I hope this answers your question. Please have a look at the links above and do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus our dear Lord whom we remain here on earth to serve,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thanks for the quick response Robert. Can you expound or direct me to your teachings on loss of rewards for believers as well as types of rewards as it relates to the above verse.

Also, do you believe the bible teaches a believer should work here on earth for this heavenly rewards? What would motivate a believer to attain those rewards if heaven has no separation between believers. Meaning a person who is saved but did not do too much in his service for Christ while on earth will still have the same eternal experience?

Just need clarification on light of reading tribulation.

Thank you sir and may God bless

Response #12:

I wouldn't use the word "work" inasmuch as the Lord is the one who is really doing the work (1Cor.15:10), and we are entering into that work which He has prepared for us to do (Eph.2:10); when they commit to the process of growth, progress and production, believers are merely doing what they should do (Lk.17:10) – and blessedly will be rewarded for it in amazing ways. I have written a great deal on eternal rewards and will give you the links below. Losing rewards is theoretically possible (e.g., 1Cor.9:7; 2Jn.1:8; Rev.3:11), but it is unlikely, because usually it is the Christian who never gets going in the first place in the process of spiritual growth, progress and production who is likely to fall back to the point of loss. As to legitimacy, reward motivation is not only appropriate but actually essential. There is no categorical separation in eternity: none between gentiles and Jewish believers (or between rich or poor, or men or women, etc.), but there most definitely will be distinctions between individuals. There will be a hierarchy and also a great differentiation in the rewards that we each receive. No Christian will be empty handed; all will have an eternal inheritance and a place in the New Jerusalem; but without question we will be better off, happier, more blessed – in ways we cannot at present understand – for having giving the Lord our all here in this life. This is what Jesus wants from us, and this is how we are to motivate ourselves here and now – according to scripture – and this is how we please Him:

The Lord is the One who judges me. Therefore, do not make judgments before the time, until the Lord shall come, who will illuminate the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the intents of every heart, and then the praise of each shall come to him from God.
1st Corinthians 4:4-5

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Here are those links:

*The Judgment and Reward of the Church (in CT 6)

The Doctrine of Crowns (in Pet.#18)

Eternal Rewards

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hey,

Ichthys goes into what the heavenly rewards are, which I intend to finish reading (I started but stopped at some point), but I was wanting to ask how said rewards are determined? There is the test by fire, but how does it work? Does the Lord's word at some point say how it works? Obviously, works don't say, only faith does through grace, and I think I'm beginning to understand the difference between work-based faith, and faith-based works: it's in one's own mentality. The difference is in the thinking, right? One mentality believes 'You're only saved as long as you work' (or something along those lines?), and the other 'how can I change for God?'

I'll admit, sometimes I have some trouble between the two mentalities, but for the most part am changing/want to change for God in appreciation and to be a better person for him, but now I'm going off the initial topic. Do you know/have any theories on how the rewards work? Is it a simple good deeds vs. sinful acts? That doesn't sound quite right to me. Maybe it's only one way? You get rewarded for the good, but none of t is taken away for the bad (or is it?)?

I hope to hear from you soon.

Response #13:

I have quite a lot at the site about this (links below), so I'll give you the "nutshell" version here. Jesus told us that everything we do for God will not fail to receive its reward, even a cup of cold water given in the Lord's Name (Matt.10:42). But as in this example, the motive behind the action and the action itself are important. We are left here in life after salvation to serve our Master, Jesus Christ, and that service consists of 1) growing spiritually, 2) progressing in our Christian walk, 3) helping others do the same. Acts of faith are rewarded, both of faith response in obeying our Lord and His commands and also of faith application in passing the tests that come our way. Most people think of acts of traditional service as the only "rewarded" acts (and that is clearly wrong). Also, most people have a warped view of what true service is. An encouraging word to a fellow Christian going through difficult times is more likely to be of true service to the actual Church of Christ than a hundred hours spent working for one's local denominational church. Jesus knows the difference, and, blessedly, He also knows our true motivations. In my way of understanding these things, those who truly do want to serve Him out of love and appreciation for Him will end up doing things His way, and that always involves growth, progress, and genuine service. The latter in its fullest form will be the result of the mature functioning of the particular spiritual gifts a person has been given. And, again, these may very well not fit the traditional pattern of what is understood either as a gift or as "Christian service". To get this right means putting first things first. Few things could be worse for those who become intent on gaining a good report and a full reward before Christ's judgment seat on that great Day of Days than to yoke oneself to a church which is not really doing what Jesus wants and spend one's efforts on things that do not really promote the spiritual growth of the true Church. Here are some of the key links to the places where this is discussed in detail at Ichthys:

The Judgment and Reward of the Church.

Production is Rewarded.

The Doctrine of Crowns.

Eternal Rewards

Have a merry Christmas!

Bob L.

Question #14:

Thanks again for the response.

Side questions here, when it is all said and done, who is going to hell? Will poor people go to heaven and the rich to the eternal lake of fire regardless of their faith? In Luke 16, Lazarus was taken by Angels to be with Abraham. What was the reason for this?

Response #14:

Hello Friend,

Heaven will contain those who were poor in this life, and also those who were rich; hell will be filled to overflowing with both types. Salvation depends upon our willingness to put our trust in the Lord instead of anyone else (some false god or powerful ruler or, most commonly, ourselves) or any other worldly thing (e.g., power, fame, fortune, possessions, and, most notably, money). The story of Lazarus and the rich man is true, and it does exemplify the point that those who have lots of what the world admires, whether talent, or good looks, or property, or connections, or, very notably, money, are easily reinforced in their predispositions to turn away from God for the solution to the problem of death and judgment and concentrate on this life instead; whereas the poor, since their lot on this earth is miserable, are more likely to be reinforced in their predispositions to seek the divine solution to the otherwise intractable problems of death and condemnation. That is why, for example, Jesus tells us that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle – and yet with God, all things are possible.

The vast majority of people who have ever lived have not had any use for God or for His grace solution in Jesus Christ to mortality and sin, whether poor or rich. But it is one of the (intended) ironies of the plan of God that those we pity most on this earth are the ones who have been given the most help in respect to motivating them to seek after God – and all who seek find (Matt.7:7; Lk.11:9), and God has arranged all of the circumstances of life for all peoples that He might be found of them (Acts 17:26-28). Whereas those whom we most pronounce "blessed" are, precisely because they have more of the things that world honors (detestable to God as these things may be: Lk.16:15; cf. 1Jn.2:15-17), all the less inclined to look beyond the things of this world (Ps.49:16-20). Be this as it may, it is still the case that only by accepting the good news that Christ died for our sins, and trusting in Him as one's Savior, is anyone saved, regardless of how bad they have it here on earth or how good. God wants all to be saved, and to come to know and truly understand the truth (1Tim.2:4) – but that requires choice; that requires faith. We are all here on earth to decide where we will spend eternity. God has placed all of our names in the Lamb's book of life, and they are only blotted out when and if we decisively reject Jesus or die without being willing to accept Him. That is the awe-inspiring truth of the image of God: He wants us all, but to be saved, we have to be willing to want Him back, rich or poor, strong or weak, great or small. This life is all about that one great decision – and for those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus for life eternal, it is all about every decision we make thereafter in fighting the fight of faith to persevere unto the day of salvation and to win the eternal rewards that will glorify our Master forever more.

In hopes of cheering you on before Christ's judgment seat on that great day of days.

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hey Bob,

Well, more like, a couple of concerns. I realize we should go with what we know and not reel on what we feel, but I must ask: is it normal to not always feel forgiven? When I fail, I feel horrible about it, and when I confess I wonder to myself, "Do you really mean it?" This has me haunted by doubts. Do you know what is happening to me?

Response #15:

First, it is within your power to stop sinning. It will probably never be easy and will always be a fight – and of course none of us is ever free of sin entirely. But sin is a choice, and it is possible to make good choices.

Second, since we all do sin and fail, we need to remember that God forgives our sins when we confess them to Him (1Jn.1:9). He forgives us whether we feel good or bad or indifferent, when we come to Him in acknowledgment of what we have done and ask for His forgiveness. After all, Jesus has already died for every specific sin we have ever committed – or ever will.

Third, it is very typical for believers to become fixated upon one type of sin or behavior to the exclusion of all others. All sin is "lawlessness", whether or not it causes us shame and despair on the one end of the spectrum or hardly gets our attention on the other: Jesus had to die for them all, so they are all serious. Therefore there is a proper balance on how we ought to deal with the problem of sin in our lives, namely, being implacably dead-set against sinning before the fact, but not obsessing about it after the fact. We confess; we are forgiven. If we are in need of discipline for what we have done, we can rest assured that God will punish as a father punishes his beloved sons in order to help us reform and take the right lessons from our failures. We don't need to punish ourselves too. God is not impressed by our guilt, and guilt is always a negative because it looks backward whereas Christians must always be looking forward:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

So instead of beating ourselves up about the past, the thing to do is take all that emotional energy and channel into a determination and resolve not to fail in the same way again in the future. That is the true biblical definition of repentance.

Fourth, the devil is well-practiced at using our sins against us. The fact that you care about your behavior is what makes you vulnerable, and Satan knows this very well. For this reason he and his minions are always actively involved in the temptation of believers, and they know from observation in each of our cases what the "sin that easily besets" is (Heb.12:1). The more we come to see our lives as part of the big picture of God's plan, the more we are likely to stop taking these attacks personally on the one hand, and to stop seeing our lives as a series of discretionary behaviors on the other: we belong to the Lord, so we are here to please Him and we will be attacked whenever we are making headway in doing so.

Fifthly, it also says in Hebrews chapter 12, directly following the encouragement to put away whatever sin is distracting us, that we should "fix our gaze on Jesus" (v.2) and "run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (v.1 NIV). In other words, you will find, that if you set yourself to the task of spiritual growth, progress and production – the Plan of God for all believers in a nutshell – by running forward you will not be as easily pulled backwards. If you are on the attack, you will not have to worry so much about defense. The more and the more aggressively you are growing, pursuing Jesus through the truth of the Word of God, the less these things will trouble you. That is true of chronic sin; that is doubly true of doubts about the truth and your role in the plan.

Some Christians are "good" (pardon the word) at doing little in the Christian life, maintaining a marginal faith yet without falling away. In the history of the Church, this type, sadly enough, constitutes the majority. Others, like yourself, will never be happy being lukewarm. From what you have shared with me before, I would imagine that until you decide to get into the race in a fully committed way, you will not be happy merely bumping along. The wrestling with sin you report, and the wrestling with doubt you report (in no small measure a result of your wrestling with sin), are merely symptoms. I am certainly not judging you or your personal application, but I know from the scriptures and from plenty of personal experience and observation that there comes a time in every Christian's life when a decision is made as to whether or not to get serious about following Jesus Christ. For those who do make that choice, there is no lack of satanic opposition, but also never a lack of exponentially greater divine support. The truth of the Word of God, aggressively sought after, absolutely believed, diligently applied to life, held onto with a tenacious grip through all the testing to come, and ministered to others in the Church through whatever service Christ calls you to is the key to this great task of glorifying Jesus – and it brings the greatest eternal rewards.

Admittedly, the kind of teaching necessary for this is not easy to find today. But you are certainly welcome at Ichthys any time.

You might check out the following links for some "meat" on these subjects:

Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin

Sin, Confession and Forgiveness.

In Need of Guidance and Encouragement.

In hopes of your continued and continuing growth, and in anticipation of rejoicing with you when our Lord crowns you on that great day of days to come.

In our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hey Bob,

It's me again, and I've been reading some of the material you sent me on your site. Right now, I've been reading Sin, Forgiveness, and Confession, and I feel the need to come to you again for assurance or clarification. I remember what you said to me about not relying on our emotions or being driven by them, but this feeling I can't really shake off easily. I don't know if it's the evil one whispering to my gut, or if it's my own notion's or doubts, but whenever I read a passage about confession and forgiveness, being cleansed of all unrighteousness, the feeling of 'does apply to me' sets itself up in me, I almost want to say in my heart. Is this just from a lack of trust, or paranoia about what I've done in my past? I keep trying to look forward, but find myself glancing back. I'm pretty sure I don't doubt, and that I believe the truth of the word and that I tr to apply it to my life, but this fear, this feeling of 'doesn't apply to me' keeps popping up like I'm playing a game of whack-a-mole.

It's easy to believe I'm coming to you for comfort, and hence, not taking comfort in the Word. Now that I think about it, I just may be doing that, but I don't doubt the Word itself, this feeling is that it doesn't apply to me. I know we all sin and aren't worthy, but this feeling of 'I'm an exception' keeps coming up, that for some reason I'm apart from everyone else and just different, outcasted, because of what I did. I've even read the Word and told myself that it applies to me, that I'm a believer, that even back then when I was yelling at God, the concern in my heart and desire to repent afterwards meant I never really truly stopped believing, but it doesn't seem to be enough. This could be a simple matter of trusting the Lord's Word, and maybe I think I do when I don't, or maybe I'm just overthinking it. I believe, and trust... or at the very least try to trust, but it's not out of any fault I believe of God's, but of my own faults. Does this sound like anything you've heard before, or... have you ever talked to other believers who feel 'everyone is saved... just not me'?

Response #16:

This is indeed a very common reaction and I receive all manner of emails on this precise question. God is love. He is also known for and glorified by His forgiveness.

But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
Psalm 130:4 NIV

Our God is a God of mercy and a God of grace (e.g., Lam.3:23; Jn.1:16). So much is this all true that He sacrificed His only dear Son in our place, so great is His love for us (Jn.3:16). Since Jesus died for all of our sins, forgiveness has already been paid for (Rom.5:8). That is what I tell people to concentrate on. Our sins and our self-doubt are not greater than Christ's work on the cross in dying for them.

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
1st John 3:20 NKJV

Some believers are very concerned about sin; some are not. There is a happy medium of truth between self-flagellation for sins long ago confessed and forgiven and a cavalier attitude about repentance. As with every other thing in the Christian life, the more you grow closer to the Lord through hearing, believing and applying His truth, the more you will gravitate towards that "sweet spot" and away from unhealthy extremes. Christian spiritual growth is all about learning to trust God more and to trust Him better day by day, to see Him and not the world which our eyes and ears and feelings perceive. Every one of us has "rough spots" that are more pronounced than other areas of our life and application. The difference between those who are advancing and those who are not is the difference between taking positive and godly action to correct our deficiencies on the one hand, and, on the other, only covering them up and or ignoring them altogether.

"Believe the truth!" and "Trust God!" is usually the answer. This is not going to happen automatically or immediately, however, especially in areas where we are individually challenged in doing so. But the more we learn to trust Him in the little things, the more effective we will become in trusting Him in everything. So don't despair. Know that your brethren in the world are all undergoing similar trials and tribulations (1Pet.5:9), and that all of us have to approach these problems the same way, namely, through spiritual growth.

Now grow up through the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
2nd Peter 3:18

You are tackling this the right way. I wouldn't beat myself up about asking a question. The sad thing is that there are so few places to go nowadays where one might expect to find a helpful and a biblical answer to such questions.

In addition to the previous suggestions, here are a few more links which may help on this:

Have I lost my salvation?

On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.

Yours in Jesus Christ who died that we might have eternal life in Him.

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thanks again. Thought I'd make a comment about spiritual warfare. As you noted, demons are real. They are invisible and inaudible to people unless the LORD [ the Holy Spirit ] reveals them. [ the donkey and Balam ..those with Elijah..."open their eyes"...etc etc ] I've had just a little experience with them. They are nasty and unclean. Unclean is a very good word to use because they are discernably unclean. Their personalities are far more powerful than human personalities. They don't respond to people emotionally throwing Bible verses at them. They respond to the authority of the Rhema Word of God. They have no defense against it's power and authority.

[As a side note, when I first came to the Lord, I really enjoyed reading the Bible, about half an hour or hour before I went to bed, day after day after day after day...after day after day after day. for about 15 years...[ just enjoyed it ]. As a result, it's not too surprising if the Lord does something in your life experience wise that you've already read about...sort of one of those.." this is that " moments. [ like Peter at Pentecost.].... One of the first "this is that" moments I had came when the Holy Spirit interceded for me. I had been taught in my pentecostal life [ assembly of God] background , that the verse about the Holy Spirit interceding for us with groanings too deep for words was about speaking in tongues. [ That didn't make any sense at face value...but that's what they taught.] The "this is that" moment came one day when I had a deep, deep groaning inside my heart, no words , just a deep , intense groaning...waaay deep in my heart. Later that day my schedule changed unusually and something happened that the Lord lined up and the Spirit made alive to me. [ I assume it was the result of the intercession the Holy Spirit.] ........... [ I had read the verse about intercession and so when it happened I knew that "this was that". ]

Same thing with the discerning of spirits that the Holy Spirit grants according to His Will ]... [ which some people teach no longer happens today, but it does. ] It's one of those " this is that".

I noticed, [back to warfare ] a passage in Ephs that ministers would preach only part of. They would start at the end of the passage , beginning with " put on the whole armor ..etc. And I thought, that's cool and all, but they left out the first part completely. So I looked up some of the words in the first part. [ As another aside first .. I've never been in the military, but I assume the training program of a marine, for example, is to train them to think and speak and live and fight like a marine... and to develop their strength ..so that if they had to use a sword, for example ...they would be able to get their strength into delivering a blow with the sword ....and do some serious damage ]..... So I looked up the words in the first part of the passage. .. Be strong [ get your ability] in the Lord ....and the power [ outworking] of His Might [ His Incredible Strength]

Here is another aside. I had noticed that the book of Hebrews said that the earthly tabernacle was patterned after the real Heavenly tabernacle..and that the book of Revelation said that there are Seven Fires Burning before the LORD which are the Seven Spirits of God....and I noticed that Moses was told to fashion a lampstand out of gold that would hold seven fires. The lampstand that was fashioned was like an almond tree, starting with a rod [ the trunk] in the middle with 3 pairs of branches coming off the sides to hold seven lamps [ all formed out of one lump of gold].....and I noticed in Isaiah that a Rod would come forth from the stem of Jesse...the Spirit of the LORD would be upon Him ..a Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding [ !st pair] a Spirit of Counsel and Might..[ 2nd] .a Spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the LORD [3rd] ...the Seven Spirits of God ...[ counsel could be translated "strategy" and might " incredible strength" ......Might [ Incredible Strength] is part of the nature of the Spirit of God.....Just like the LORD was mindful to note that the Lampstand was fashioned from one lump of gold ... Seven Branches of One Tree ..so too, the Fire[s] is One Person , making Himself known with Seven Attributes.

So back to warfare...." take on His Character and Life and Ability and Live Life in the Lord [ not your old human nature way of living] ] and learn how to allow the Incredible Strength of His Spirit to flow through you ].... ..then put on the whole armor of God and stand against the enemy....

The verse is about someone who is trained and incredibly strong.

According to the above, boot camp is #1] Learn to take on His Character and Ability and His Incredible Strength ... ..then .....# 2 ] ...Put on the armor....and go stand against the devil.

[ He protects children, but He doesn't send them out to fight ] 

Young men are mighty [ " children...young men...fathers "..[ levels of spiritual maturity ]. ...." young men are mighty and have overcome the evil [one ] and the Word of God abides within them...."

Generally speaking, a bootcamp would be helpful.

Thanks again for what you've written online. It's been very helpful..

Response #17:

Thanks for this (and thanks for you kind words as well). It's a great testimony as well as an encouraging and doctrinally correct exposition of some important passages. This is just the sort of thing that Christians who have some experience with the Word of God and who have grown spiritually ought to be able to do with scripture on their own. It also bespeaks to me an indication of a person gifted in the teaching and explanation of the Word of God. The Lord has a ministry for each and every one of us, and as I hope this ministry demonstrates these ministries are not to understood as merely existing in the traditional, formal, cookie-cutter models (even when it comes to teaching the Word).

May the Lord lead you to best place to prepare and fulfill all that He has for you to do.

In hopes of high rewards from our dear Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep,

Bob L.

Question #18:

You wrote:

Everyone comes to the point of understanding that there is a God (with the exception of the mentally deficient and those who die before maturity: they are saved:2Sam.12:23)

Could you explain why you support your point with 2 Samuel 12:23?

Response #18:

Because this is a key verse in the proof that those who die before attaining mental maturity do in fact go to heaven automatically: "I will go to him", David says, something not possible if the child were in hell or oblivion.
 

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