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Legalism, Past and Present II.

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Question #1:

I've got a question about YHWH and Adonai. Lambdin writes that YHWH was read as Adonai for 'pious or superstitious reasons'. What was the reason behind this practice? Can it be explained and located in time? Also, how do you think the name of God should be read and rendered?

Response #1:

I use the traditional Jewish method of pronunciation. There is no indication from scripture and no sure way to know from history or tradition how far back this particular practice goes, but whatever its faults the very old if not ancient practice of saying 'adonai wherever the tetragrammaton appears seems superior to me to later attempts to reconstruct the non-reconstructable. Part of my prejudice against the proposed changes is that cult and cult-like groups always seem to make a very big deal about the form and pronunciation of "the Name". However as I often point out the writers of the Greek NT write "Lord" and "God" in Greek with no such compunctions.

Question #2:

How did people come up with the pronunciation of the name Jehovah from the tetragramaton?

Response #2:

This is based upon a plausible Hebrew vocalization of the letters. In Hebrew, with the exception of the Bible and pedagogical texts, there are no vowels written (generally); the reader has to understand what vowels to supply. If a person who knew Hebrew but who had never seen this letter combination before was asked to pronounce it, "Yehowah" is a likely rendering. That is because a short "e" is a likely vowel to place under the yodh (first letter) in combination with the first he (second letter); and that would make the third letter, waw, both an "o" marker and also the following "v" sound. Finally, a long "a" is also generally marked out by a final he as we have here. It's not the only way to construe it, but it is an understandable rendering. In Hebrew, they never pronounce the Name but instead say 'adonai (LORD).

Question #3:

I have cut short another visit by Jehovah Witnesses and referred them back to the email I sent them a while ago, emphasising the irreconcilability of our views with regard to the divinity of Jesus. One point in this conversation they were keen to explore was the character of their ministry (walking from door to door) and they used as evidence our Lord sending apostles to teach and Paul words from Acts 20:20, as if every committed believer should do exactly that. Their thinking doesn't seem to hold much water, as they probably drive cars without thinking that Jesus travelled on a donkey and yet consider walking door to door the only right way to minister (and I'm not sure either our Lord or the apostles did it that way all the time anyway). What is in your view the best way to approach this view and reply to these people? I'm sure they'll come again.

Response #3:

It's quite a jump to go from the apostle Paul teaching "from house to house" to what the JW's do! He was an apostle (they are not); he taught in the houses of those who were willing and who invited him (this is not their method at all); he was personally sent by the Lord (need I say, they most definitely are not). As you point out, reproducing what our Lord did or what the apostles did in the non-essential outward things is of no use; following them spiritually and the spiritual example they set is what we should be focussed on doing. One might add that even if there were virtue in "doing things the way Jesus and apostles did them" (there isn't), and even if the JW's or others really were "doing things the way Jesus and apostles did them" (they really aren't in oh so many points), even so this method would not 1) make up for the lack of the truth, or 2) cover over the addition of things patently false. It's all about the truth of the message (or lack thereof). That is the point upon which I would insist. Muslims minister; Buddhists minister; Nazis and Communists minister (in the sense these people are doing it – going out of their way to button-hole people to come over to their point of view). The question is, "what truth (or lie) are you ministering?" Your insistence on the deity of Christ, therefore, is the key point – and their refusal to engage with it a demonstration that for them it's all about the form, not the content. In this the JW's are just another type of religion (like the Muslims or the Mormons or the Roman Catholics . . . and like far too many protestant groups that ought to know better).

Question #4:

Is there really a Sinner's Prayer and if so, are it's origins from the Bible? As always, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Response #4:

Hello my friend,

On a "sinner's prayer", no, there is no such biblical thing. This concocted prayer has become all the rage in legalistic circles that seek to add formulae and rituals to salvation. See the link: "The so-called 'sinner's prayer' " . . . and here is something else I wrote on that topic:

The lie: "Saying the 'sinner's prayer' is necessary to be saved". The truth: The so-called "sinner's prayer" in any form does not predate the revival movements of the 18th century (and we may be assured that those who believed in Christ before this prayer was invented are saved nonetheless; cf. Rom.10:12).

Hope you are doing well, my friend. I am remembering you in my prayers day by day.

In Jesus Christ who is our hope and our help,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Robert,

Thanks again for your answer, I must say, I'm never left with any questions after I read your emails/links. I'm guessing that God's not concerned as much with the words as he is what's in a man's heart. Thanks for debunking that. I've read various versions of it on the internet and although some are good, I usually pray my own personal prayer and then I say the Lord's Prayer. I also like your postings on water baptism. I was baptized in a Catholic church when I was a few weeks old. That large church on the east end has a large pool located near the pulpit where adults and children alike are encouraged to be baptized. I've only been there 4 or 5 times and it's been a good 10 years. I'll never forget that pool though.

In Jesus Christ

Response #5:

You're very welcome!

The number of things that bother me about modern evangelicalistic mega-churches grows by the day (growing in proportion, it seems, with their membership roles, media profiles, and financial bottom-lines).

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

I'm fairly confident that I have mentioned that I'm going off to college next semester (or implied it maybe?), but there are a couple things about the whole thing that I wanted to ask about. Now I know that things in the realm of practical applicability aren't really under the umbrella of your ministry, but I was hoping you might be able to help anyway. I spent the necessary time to make sure that my roommate (at a secular University) is at least Christian by all appearances. Both of us were somewhat interested in many of the different Christian ministries around campus, but I must confess that I am honestly somewhat trepidatious about the whole affair. I never was particularly enamored with youth groups even before I found your site and could put my relative distaste into words. To be rather blunt, after seeing what I can do with a study Bible, your site, and several other resources, even before seeing what any of the campus ministries are like, I already have a sneaking suspicion that I could be much more productive studying on my own rather than under the guidance of the campus leaders (the same conclusion that I have come to in the Church my family goes to; I normally just tune out the sermons and read the Bible instead). Couple my (perhaps unjustified) appraisal of the programs with my past experience that groups of these sort inevitably end up being emotional support groups and social networks instead of Bible studies, and you end up with me wishing to find some excuse for why I can't join any of the 20 or so different groups (why are there so many?). I think my family knows me well enough that they would accept me "just doing things on my own," but I do somewhat worry about treading on toes when at college. If any of the many worried evangelists walk up to me to ask why I don't "do" their thing, what do I tell them ... I think I'm more productive than your "small group study" of 15 people combined? I've always sort of had a problem with too much candor in the past; I call things for how I see them, consequences be blasted. And I can't see that going over particularly well with most of the "social Christianity" I'm expecting from such people. On the plus side, my roommate, prima facie, seems to be a serious enough Christian, and having one truly dedicated friend is almost more than I could ask for anyway. I don't know if you've had a lot of experience with campus ministries (expecting you to suggest one if you make a habit of not suggesting Churches would be fruitless I'm sure), but do you think the rationale that I could do better on my own is a valid reason for not partaking? Should I try most of them out for a spin first (I'm a bit worried that their "recruiting phase appearance" is vastly different from normal operations)?

Response #6:

On para-Christian Groups: Nowadays, Christian churches are problematic, teaching very little and being wrong about much of what they do teach. Superficiality is the order of the day, and in my observation this is even more the case in para-groups of the sort you mention which are generally to be found on college campuses. They generally try to make up for the lack of true substance by injecting even more emotion (if that can be believed, given the emotionally charged nature of many churches these days). It seems that when you have nothing in your heart of any weight, as soon as the "dope" of emotion runs down, you "feel dry" and disoriented. One of the ways these groups like to make up for the hollowness of their own spiritual lives is by interfering with the lives of others. That includes evangelizing in a way that is annoying and therefore often very ineffective; it also includes trying to regulate the behavior (according to false and legalistic standards) of those who are attracted into their orbit. The above may not be a fair assessment of every para group on every college campus (and these differ chapter to chapter), but I do feel that it is safe to say that a good deal of prudence ought to be deployed before getting deeply involved in one. To use a crude analogy, I am all for marriage (for those called to it), but I would not advocate looking for a prospective bride on the internet. Similarly, a good Christian friend might be found in one of these para groups, but that would be an accidental thing in most cases – if by "good Christian friend" we mean someone who understands what spiritual growth, progress and production is really all about and is determined to pursue Christ's will for his/her life in the correct way. The Lord knows all of your needs. Part of your job is to patient in waiting for Him to fulfill these needs at just the right time – and hopping into a legalistic fellowship is unlikely to be the best way to achieve what you are looking for in terms of true Christian friendship.

Question #7:

Why was God pleased with the 1000 burnt offering sacrifice of King Solomon? What can we glean from OT sacrifice meaning and why was 1000 needed in this case?

Response #7:

I'm not sure that the Lord was impressed by the volume of Solomon's sacrifices:

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
Psalm 50:9-10 NIV

"The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies."
Isaiah 1:11-13 NIV

The Lord is impressed with the attitude of a person's heart; in the beginning, that is what endeared Solomon to the Lord (as his request for wisdom and the Lord's pleasure with that request makes clear). If a person sacrifices out of godliness (whatever the sacrifice), then the godliness is pleasing; if for ulterior motives, then no sacrifice is enough to cover over the sin.

Question #8:

Can you expound on this verse" Exodus 3:5 "Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." ESV version. Why the significance of shoes apart from it being dirty?

Response #8:

I think that is it, namely, the symbolism involved of behaving in a sanctified way. Much of the Mosaic Law is focused on this same idea, namely, the appearance of sanctification to represent a people sanctified by the Lord. Blessedly, the Church is sanctified in Spirit and in truth, and has no need of any ritual to mediate the blessed realities we now enjoy.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

Eli Soriano is the head of the "Ang Dating Daan"or "The Old Path or Original Path"--a religious denomination in the Philippines. His explanations are supported with the Scriptures that you must be a member of "The Church of God", in order to be saved. What I learned is that our church affiliation cannot save us from our sins but faith alone in Christ alone.

I will post your answer after hearing his explanation will be posted in the Facebook where the above link in the YouTube was posted.

May The Lord continue to bless you until Christ's return and reign with Him.

Response #9:

I watched the video linked here. There are many problems with it (obviously). I will restrict myself to the main points:

1) Romans 12:9: "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good" (NKJV). Clearly, the last part of the verse has nothing to do with officially joining some humanly constructed organization. Indeed, it is not talking about "joining" anything, but rather about holding fast to the truth, as the video says is necessary for salvation. Not even organizations which are rabid about the need to join (e.g., the Roman Catholic church) have, to my knowledge, adduced this verse of proof of some such need – because there is no such connection evident in even a cursory reading of the verse in any version (not to mention in the Greek). "The good" is exactly paralleling "the evil" (in the neuter, referring to the principle); since there is obviously no "evil organization" which everyone who does not belong to "the good organization" has joined, this verse does not posit the countervailing human organization this video claims is represented here.

2) "Those within and without" in 1st Corinthians 5:12 does set up a clear opposition between believers and unbelievers, and it is certainly true that believers should want to fellowship with other believers. I have never met a believer in Jesus Christ – not one who was truly seeking to grow closer to Him – who did not crave fellowship with other believers. The problem for this video is that it jumps many logical steps from this truth and comes to absolutely erroneous conclusions: a) Paul does not equate "within" with a specific church or a specific organization – the contrast is between believers and believers; b) even for local churches, such as the one at Corinth, Paul never says that because there is a within/without that therefore there should be a membership role and a formal process of joining local churches; c) Paul never establishes any such rules or structure for any "super-church" organization (that is, one which is resting over and comprising/supervising more than one local church); d) Paul certainly never says anything – nor does the Bible – which would allow this particular "church" in the video to assume the mantel of the Church above any and all other. The latter is what this video is really all about, and the Roman Catholic church did this sort of thing many centuries ago proclaiming "non salus extra ecclesiam" = if you are not a communicant of the Roman Catholic church you are going to hell. This sort of thinking is bad enough (since it is a lie – both for the R.C.'s and also for this particular church in the video, whether directly stated or merely strongly implied), but the really terrible thing is the reverse conclusion which these organizations always make and put forth, namely, that simply by being a member of their organization a person is saved (and that is a tragic lie). I did not hear Jesus' Name one time in this video, but He, not "joining" is the only Way of salvation.

3) "The church of God at Corinth" (1Cor.1:2). Yes, there was an "assembly" or what we would call "a local church" at Corinth. That is not what the purveyors' of this video are/belong to (clearly), since they are in the Philippines and not in Greece. The false conclusion from this phrase seems to be that there is something called "the Church of God" generally because of Paul's phrasing here; and there is a Church of Jesus Christ – but what is it? It is not defined by human beings. Even a well-meaning local Christian church can be fooled and allow into membership someone who is not really a believer. Said person is not – just because of joining the local church (or even a "super church") – for that reason part of Christ's Church. Conversely, anyone who has been born again in Jesus Christ is saved, irrespective of any organizational affiliation. The Greek word ekklesia is used for all manner of assemblies (it was used for the citizen body of the Athenian democracy, for example), and in the Bible it can either mean the Church or it can mean a local assembly. In the passage here (1Cor.1:2), it clearly means a local assembly, the one at Corinth; Paul adds "of God" to distinguish it from the other assemblies at Corinth, pagan ones, Jewish synagogues, and also the political assembly which would meet to discuss civic affairs (cf. the Ephesian assembly described at Acts 19:29ff.). So this phrasing by Paul cannot be taken to mean that there is something called "the-Church-of-God" as an early, super-organization – and even if it did it would be quite presumptuous for this group to claim that they are "it" (the Roman Catholic church, the Mormons and many others also make this claim). In fact, the true "Church" is Christ's Church and it is not visible to human eyes; it is composed of everyone who has believed in Him and who has thus been saved from Adam and Eve to the last person to put their faith in Him before He returns (see the link). That is "the Church" of which Christ – not any earthly person, pope or otherwise – is the Head (see the link: "The Head of the Church"). A quick run through any English concordance of passages in the New Testament where the word "Church" is used will show you what I mean.

4) The longest part of the video, and the part I found the most disingenuous, was the bit about threskeia. This is a very typical ploy used by false teachers, namely, to hide their false teaching behind Greek or Hebrew words (making them seem erudite), using these as a smoke screen for horrible logic and false conclusions. In this case, the person takes a Greek word (threskeia), equates it with a set of Latin words (!), and then builds "doctrine" on the etymologies of the Latin words (as if the occurrence of a word in the Bible proves whatever the person in question would wish to have it mean). First of all, threskeia, means "religion" in a bad sense in two of the only three contexts in which it is used in the NT (Phariseeism in Acts 28:5 and Gnosticism in Col.2:18), and is used only one other time in James 1:26-27 for the false religion of keeping the law versus true "religion"; in any case, the Latin word religio is only a very loose translation of the Greek word (not by any means a perfect fit; we're talking about a translation now, and not one inspired by the Holy Spirit), and means something quite different from what we mean today in English when we say "religion" (e.g., the Latin term really means something more like traditional superstition and religious scruples – carrying out the functions of pagan cults correctly). What is not valid to do in any case is to take the etymology of a word used to translate a Bible word in some version and then use that etymology of the secondary word as a basis for building doctrine, especially since it is not even the word the Bible uses. More simply put, without the contexts of its usage, the mere existence of the word threskeia in the NT cannot be used to prove anything whatsoever other than that the word occurs in the NT.

The bottom line here is the essential confusion between a group of believers in a locality who gather for fellowship on the one hand, and Christ's Church composed of all who did or do or will put their faith in Him so as to be resurrected together on that great day of days. The former (local church) may be seen; the latter ("Church") is mostly invisible. The former can have "rules" (the Bible leaves this mostly up to those involved; see the link); the latter is determined and ruled and judged by Christ alone. What we do not have in scripture, however, is precisely what this person wants to establish, an intermediary organization between on the one hand a voluntary group of believers constituted however they may determine (as in gathering on the internet to exchange testimonies and mutual encouragement without preconditions apart from a mutual love of Jesus Christ), and on the other hand the entire assembly of Christ known by Him and chosen by Him and bought by Him with His blood. Besides the local "church" and the absolute "Church" of Jesus Christ there nothing which is "of God" in between; whatever there is in between is of necessity "of man", not mandated or authorized by the Bible in any way. Individuals who wish to start such "super groups" may think that they are doing something good, but in the history of the Church these "super groups" have always done "more harm than good" (1Cor.11:17; cf. Is.1:12-14). What no one should deign to claim, however, is that membership in such a group is "of God", or, even worse, that it is mandatory to be saved. This is one of the three major false doctrines the devil advances because it is by such a device that large anti-Christ organizations may be developed and the gospel completely crowded out (as with the Roman Catholic church, the Mormons and many others). As noted above, I did not hear a single reference to Jesus Christ in this entire video.

You will find the details of what I have to say on this subject at the following links:

Aspects of the False Doctrine of Institutional Security

Peter 27: Three Doctrines which Threaten Faith

Best wishes for your continuing work for our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

May I share this article?

http://thename.ph/thename/revelations/falseprophets-en.htm

Response #10:

Dear Friend,

Yes, I have come across this "ministry" before. I would not let it worry you – or if you have been entangled by it, there is certainly hope. It seems all false prophets make a big display of denouncing everyone else as a false prophet. But for someone to claim to be a modern day Moses takes a lot of "cheek", as we say. Then again, antichrist will claim to be Christ, and many will follow the beast to their own destruction. So I suppose that this sort of test is necessary at this time, standing on the threshold of the Tribulation as we are, in order to inoculate true believers against these sorts of outrageous claims.

"Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!"
Matthew 18:7 NKJV

The Church is one Body, and we who believe are all necessary parts. There is only one Head – not this person or anyone else currently walking the earth – but Jesus Christ the Lord. Jesus Christ is "the Prophet" (as all true Christians recognize). But as to any and all who want to usurp His glory . . .

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
1st John 2:18 NKJV

Yours in the One true Savior, true God and true man, our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #11:

Dear Mr. Luginbill,

By reading the said article, it is now clear to me that you pastors are the real false prophets as you have made humanity worshiped a man punished by God which is why God had made mankind suffer all this time.

I sent that article to inform you what punishment God has in store for you if you continue to preach such lies and now that you have been informed, it is your decision now.

Thank you.

Response #11:

Perhaps you could explain. What do you mean when you say "you have made humanity worshiped a man punished by God" – to whom are you referring? Certainly not Jesus Christ!?

Question #12:

Your question only show you did not read well the article I shared.

Response #12:

With all due respect, you said "you". As I am not in your article, it's a fair question for me to ask, who is the "you"? Also, it is not clear from your article who you mean by "a man punished by God". Certainly not Jesus Christ!?

Are you afraid to answer my questions?

Question #13:

Your questions are questions of a man who's afraid to see the truth. If there is someone here who should be afraid that would be you because you -being a pastor, had taught false teachings about God. As I said, by reading the said article well it is so clear to me that you, being a pastor of Christianity had truly deceived humanity by making mankind worship the man Jesus who was punished by God.

Don't be afraid to read well the article I shared.

Response #13:

This is what I suspected. You do not believe in Jesus Christ.

Why were you too timid to say so?

Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life. He is more than a man! He is God, the second person of the Trinity, who took on true humanity in order to die for the sins of the world.

Surely you must understand that you are not perfect. Being imperfect, what answer will you have to give to the Righteous God when He judges your life? No "good deed" can ever make up for the smallest sin. And you have nothing to present to Him as an atonement for your sins – unless you stand on the work of Jesus Christ who died for them. That is the only way to be saved.

(6) For not only did Christ die for us while we were helpless – He even did so at the critical time, [dying] on our behalf, ungodly though we were. (7) For scarcely will someone die on behalf of a righteous person; and perhaps someone might also risk death on behalf of a good person. (8) But God commends His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

We ask you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God through faith in Him.

In the only Name given under heaven by which you can be saved, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob,

Please have a look at the article: "I will rebuild the tabernacle of David"

http://emethbiblestudies.org/Guestbook.php

In His Grace,

Response #14:

Nicely done. Most evangelicals do not understand that the "Church" consists of all believers from Adam and Eve to the last person saved in the Tribulation – Israel is the foundation of the Church but we are all "one Body" in Jesus Christ. So the distinction so overdone by hyper-dispensationalism between "Israel and the Church" does much more harm than good (as you point out here). A couple of links of my own:

Dispensationalism

The uniqueness of Israel

The Church

Dispensations, the Church, the Rapture, and the Destruction of the Universe.

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church II

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church I

Your pal in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Robert,

First I would like to thank you for all the informative information you have so generously put out for everyone to read.

My spouse asked me a question about the Jewish people being the chosen people and I couldn't really answer properly.

The question is: Did God really say that the Jews were His chosen people? My spouse can't believe God would play favorites, that He is supposed to love everyone equally.

My bottom line was that God could chose to love who He wanted too but I am wondering if I said the wrong thing since God loves all His children.

Could you please clarify this question for me, I certainly don't want to misguide anyone.

Thank you so very much.

Response #15:

Hello again,

The best way to think about this issue is that in Old Testament times in particular, the Lord dealt with Israel as a corporate whole. That is not to say that He did not consider individuals as individuals. Indeed He did and does and always has. The same issue of free-will faith for salvation has confronted every human being since Eden and will until the end of history: "what think ye of Christ?" (whether prospectively through anticipating God's solution to sin and death, or retrospectively, looking back at the actual cross). That being said, Israel was selected by the Lord to be a "light to the gentiles" (Is.42:6). She was to be a model of behavior and also of blessing, to demonstrate the distinction between the wicked and the righteous (Mal.3:18; cf. Ex.8:23, etc.). This was a collective witness, and so just as all gentiles were assumed, corporately, to be unbelievers, all Israel was assumed, corporately, to be believers. In fact, on the individual basis, this ideal never came close to being achieved in Israel; and of course even in the case of the gentiles there were always those who did in fact believe. But in terms of God's choice of Israel, unbelieving Israelites were supposed to be the exception (according to the Law they were supposed to be terminated); believing gentiles were the exception before Pentecost (and there never was a time when an entire gentile nation embraced the truth of the One true God). Today of course in the Church this proportion has been temporarily reversed, but those of Israel will again rise to prominence in God's leadership once the Tribulation commences.

The second factor to consider here is the principle of blessing by association. Israel is "beloved for the sake of the fathers" (Rom.11:28; cf. Deut.7:8). That is to say, Abraham was such an exceptional believer that his progeny was blessed on his account:

"I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Genesis 12:3 NKJV

And the most profound of the blessings that fall to Israel on account of their position in Abraham are the spiritual blessings:

What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.
Romans 3:1-2 NKJV

The fact that Israel is blessed in Abraham materially and also in terms of spiritual heritage does not necessarily give any individual Jewish person an advantage, however, because these blessings are in the main appropriated by faith.

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Romans 4:13 NKJV

So gentiles individually have always been able to enter into the same spiritual blessings by faith; while the fact that Israel is corporately advantaged in this regard does not relieve individual Jews of the need for that same faith. For only those who do believe are truly "of Israel":

For they are not all Israel who are of Israel.
Romans 9:6b NKJV

As with our election, that is the basis of God's choice: our responsiveness to Him.

"For you (Jews) are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth."
Deuteronomy 7:6 NKJV (cf. Deut.14:2)

So this choice is not independent, individually speaking, of each Jewish person's choice of Him (and today that means their choice of Christ). Nor are we gentiles, who have chosen for Jesus in any way shut out of these same blessings:

But you (gentiles) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
1st Peter 2:9-10 NKJV

The entire Church, whether Jew or gentile, is now one in Jesus Christ:

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Colossians 3:11 NKJV

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 NKJV

Yours in the Name of the One who is the Lord of all, our dear Lord Jesus.

Bob L.

Question #16:

Good evening Dr.,

I hope all is well with you. In reading CT, I have a question that maybe you can help me with. I know in the end it doesn't really matter in the whole context of our walk as long as we diligently walk with Christ daily. Is the tribulation meant for unbelieving Jews and Gentiles or is it meant for the Church?

Here is a quote from: http://www.theendtimesobserver.org/
archives/index.php?id=188

The final principle related to the pre-trib position is the biblical truth that God' s single program for history includes two peoples, Israel and the Church. This view has been systematized into what is known as dispensationalism. While the basis of salvation (God's grace) is always the same for Jew and Gentile, God's prophetic program has two distinct aspects. Presently, God's plan for Israel is on hold until He completes His current purpose with the Church and Raptures His Bride to heaven. Those commingling God's plan for Israel and the church destroy an important basis for the pre-trib rapture. The Bible clearly teaches that the church and Israel have in many ways different programs within the single plan of God even though both are saved on the same basis.

This seems to make sense to me and while I believe that many believers will apostatize prior to the tribulation, I also believe there are historical precedents in the bible of how God has sheltered believers from wrath. In reading CT, you mentioned the two witnesses Moses and Elijah as well as the 144,000 will be ministering specifically to the nation of Israel, and I agree. So from that standpoint, do you believe the tribulation is a culmination of God's plan for Israel and Gentiles together? I am just trying to reconcile these two seemingly valid viewpoints.

Thank you very much and may God continue to bless your ministry.

Response #16:

Good to hear from you. It is an important point. One of the greatest fallacies of traditional Protestant Christianity after it finally came to grips with eschatology and then perpetuated in the evangelical movement is the notion that there is a strict wall of division between "Israel and the Church". Clearly, there is a physical difference between "Jews and gentiles", but the whole point of the New Covenant and its exposition in the epistles of the New Testament is the unity which we believers have in Jesus Christ (the book of Hebrews is largely devoted to this subject of the New replacing the Old, and the book of Acts charts the transition in the understanding of the apostles and the Church of this salient fact).

This does not mean that gentile believers should think any less of Jewish believers, and it does not mean that being Jewish is not a somewhat special thing in the plan of God – it clearly is. But what it does mean is that systems of interpretation which seek to perpetuate God's previous deliberate distinction between (considered as all being believers) Israel and (considered as all being unbelievers) gentiles before the cross to the present post-Pentecost time of the Spirit is entirely wrong-headed (see the link: "God's Corporate Dealing with Israel"). This false method also results in all manner of additional false interpretations, not least of which is losing the point that now things are all about faith. It's not about being Jewish (most Jews do not believe in Christ today, though there is a "remnant according to the election of grace": Rom.11:5); it's no disadvantage to be a gentile (most of those who do believe are not Jewish, though of course these are nowhere near the majority of gentiles generally). It's about being a believer, regardless of culture, nationality, gender or any other factor. It's all about faith.

For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
Romans 10:11-13 NKJV

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 NKJV

We who believe are one in Jesus Christ. We are the Church. The Church includes Jews and gentiles, all believers from Adam and Eve to the present. So while no one would wish to denigrate or de-emphasize the great spiritual heritage of those who are by natural procreation Jewish, it is and has been since our Lord's ascension and the gift of the Spirit our new birth which counts.

The spiritual heritage of Israel is great. They are advantaged "much in every way" (Rom.3:1). But we are all part of the Bride of Christ, the Church, and will all be resurrected together on that great day to come. The Tribulation, it is true, will be a mixed era, shared in common by the Church Age and the Age of Israel, and as such will see the reassertion of the spiritual leadership in the Church that Israel enjoyed through the apostolic era – a harbinger of the Jewish reclaiming of spiritual priority during the Millennium under the reign of the Messiah. But error comes when a strict wall of division is placed today between the two, since that wall has now been broken down by the cross of Jesus Christ.

So remember that you were once gentiles in the flesh, called "un-circumcised" by those of the so-called circumcision which is fleshly and man-made. Remember that you were without Christ, alienated from the polity of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus, you who were once far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, for He has made both [Jews and gentiles] one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition, that is, the enmity between us, by discharging the Law of the commandments and its requirements with His [own] body, so that He might re-create the two into one new Man by making [this] peace, and might reconcile both in one Body to God through His cross, having by means of it abolished the enmity [between God and mankind]. For when He had come [1st advent], He proclaimed the gospel of peace to you who were far away [from God], and peace to those who were near. For it is through Him that we both have our access to the Father by means of one Spirit. So then, you are no longer strangers and hangers-on, but you are fellow citizens and fellow members of the household of God, established upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Himself the cornerstone, in whom the entire structure is in the process of being riveted together and is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you too are being built up into a dwelling place of God by the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:11-22

Generally speaking, those who see things differently also buy into the false notion of a pre-Tribulation "rapture" (as noted in the quote you included) that will exempt gentile believers from going through the Tribulation. There is no more biblical evidence for that than there is for making a critical division between Israel and the Church during our present era. For more on some related issues please see the links:

Dispensations

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church I

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church II

No Rapture

The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory.

And do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ the Lord of all.

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Dr. Luginbill

I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I certainly am thankful for your ministry! I do have another couple of questions for you that hopefully you can shed some insight on. Just recently I had read through Galatians and am trying to understand what Paul was meaning by "eternal life" in 6:8. I've read it over many times but am just perplexed as it seems like it demands that unless you reap from the spirit, you will not have eternal life. Could eternal life mean something other than heaven in this context or could it be a mistranslation of the Greek possibly? I feel like I'm not understanding exactly what Paul is saying because this verse just throws me off. Also, Galatians is obviously about legalism infiltrating the church and it clearly states that teachers teaching legalism will be condemned. The Galatians were mixing grace with works yet Paul still addresses them as brethren, wouldn't they be condemned though as they are adding to the gospel of grace or does Paul just realize they are simply burdening themselves? Are Christians who are born again who begin to dabble in legalism still going to be saved if they die having added to the gospel? What if someone accidentally teaches legalism due to a misinterpretation of scripture (which is common today)? I have a specific person in mind who is in bondage of legalism and feels they aren't saved anymore because they have become legalistic so any light you can shed on these verses would be great!

Thank you for all you do!

Response #17:

Thanks! I wish for a happy one for you and yours as well – and thanks much also for your encouraging words.

As to your question on Galatians 6:8, I do understand your concern – it really is a very perceptive question. First let me say that believers are saved and if a person actually does accept Jesus as his/her Savior, then said person is saved. Legalism is indeed an insidious and dangerous thing, but genuine believers need not get anxious about whether or not they were "a little bit legalistic" when they become believers. All believers are saved. Legalists tend to be very self-righteous; that is the behavior that should cause concern. Those who really are trying to act in grace and humility and who are wary about legalism and self-righteousness may not be perfect, but are certainly not in danger of losing salvation over legalism. God wants all to be saved; and all who truly want to be saved are saved. A little legalism leavens the whole lump, Paul tells us, but it does so for those who are turning away from the Lord – or who never turned to Him in the first place. So while it is true that I do not believe that the Bible teaches absolute eternal security (that is to say, apostasy is a danger and a reality – because faith can be lost), I also believe that the Bible teaches our security in Christ absolutely for all who are determined to hold onto Him in faith. In other words, it is no easy thing to lose salvation – indeed, no one really "loses it"; rather, some throw it away deliberately (when they throw away their faith in Christ). Legalism is one avenue for doing so, but, as with all other such avenues, it requires a believer to go down that false road a long way and resolutely so, and then make that terrible decision in full appreciation of what they are doing.

As to the verse in question, eternal life is no small thing. For Paul, it represents the pinnacle of all we as believers hope for and encapsulates our glorious future in Jesus Christ. We look forward to the resurrection; we look forward to Christ's return; we look forward to the Millennium; we look forward to our positive evaluation at Christ's judgment seat; we look forward to our eternal rewards and crowns; we look forward to New Jerusalem and our inheritance therein and our eternal fellowship with Jesus and the Father and the Spirit and all of our brothers and sisters – all this together is, for Paul, "eternal life". So while there is a tendency in the way these things are conceptualized and discussed in modern Christianity to see eternal life as a sort of a "pass" we already have (and thus take it a bit for granted), the way Paul thinks about it is as the summation of all the wonders and blessings to come: we have it now, true, but it has not yet become "operative" (cf. 1Jn.3:2), so this is what we should "set our cap" for, to strive to achieve it and to make it the best possible and most highly rewarded eternal life we can:

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Romans 2:7 NIV

As with your passage in Galatians, this verse above may seem to some to reverse things and also to focus on works. But I think what Paul means is that eternal life is the whole package, one that we cannot afford to let go of or lose sight of, and that the parameters of that eternal life are, in terms of relative rewards, dependent upon how well we run this race for Jesus Christ here on earth (not to mention that for those who give up on their faith or abandon it in apostasy, there will be no eternal life at all).

The Christian life as you rightly express is all about grace. We enter in by grace through faith (Eph.2:8-9), and that is precisely how we are to live this life for Jesus after we are saved. But that still means making decisions . . . on a grace basis. We are merely "entering into" the works He has prepared for us when we respond to the mandates He has given us for spiritual growth, progress and production (Eph.2:10). Salvation is not dependent upon what we have done but it is dependent upon our accepting what Christ has done; likewise for believers, success in the Christian life (that is, work that will be rewarded), is based upon our accepting of the challenges the Lord puts before us and fighting that fight as He would have us fight us. That is not legalism. That is taking up the challenge of eternal life and making the most of this temporal life to glorify our Lord – in this there is great and eternal reward, a blessed "eternal life" as Paul would say.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Dear Bob,

I have reached the Galatians book of the New Testament, and ran into a passage I would like clarification on. In the first paragraph (NASB), Paul speaks of being 'severed' and 'falling from grace' in terms of circumcision, as in, once someone gets circumcised they must then keep the whole law. I assume this does not apply to those whom were circumcised, but then saved? When he speaks of being 'severed' and 'falling from grace', does he mean because of the act of circumcision itself, or rather the attitude and the beliefs behind it?

Response #18:

Always good to hear from you, my friend. Yes, I think you have this essentially right.

Translations of this passage, Galatians 5:4, which use "cut off" or "severed" to translate the first verb about which you ask are taking liberties which the Greek does not allow (it doesn't refer to circumcision either directly or by ironic allusion). The verb katargeo is a fairly common one in Paul's epistles (he uses it several dozen times), and it means to be deactivated (as, for example, in "prophecies ceasing" at 1Cor.13:8). The second verb does mean to fall – and more particularly to fall down – but Paul is using this in the context of the racing metaphor he is employing here. As he says two verses later, they were "running well", but they have stumbled and fallen on the course because of this false fascination with the Law. This epistle is addressed to believers, mostly gentile believers, who had been sold a bill of goods by false apostles who came in after Paul and wrongly taught that Law-keeping was necessary for salvation. The believers who bought into this heresy were, in effect, denying that they had been saved by grace through this new working for their salvation by Law-keeping instead. To the extent that they were doing this, they had fallen down on the course and were alienating themselves from Christ. I expect that none of these were lost (i.e., they had not yet rejected Christ as their Savior), but they were becoming involved in an activity deadly to faith in the long run, namely, legalism. As with all patterns of sinful behavior, there can be recovery on the one hand, but also it is true that consistent refusal to repent may lead to either apostasy or the sin unto death in the long run.

As to circumcision, Paul's point is that there is no such thing as partial Law-keeping – as if it were a Smorgasbord. By entering into this wrong approach (through circumcision) these people would have to keep the whole Law perfectly to be saved – an impossibility for anyone (trying is what "killed" Paul: Rom.7:8-9), and even more so for gentiles who did not have access to the temple and festivals et al. in Jerusalem.

Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
Hebrews 13:9 NIV

Stand fast in the grace that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello--Sorry to bother you again. I have a quick question concerning Colossians 2:16-17. We have discussed these verses before, but not this particular question. There are a few Messianics I debate--one is a good guy who usually agrees with me, but not this time--that think that these verses means that no one should be the judge of what we eat or drink; etc., except the body of Christ, i.e., the church. That it is the church that does the judging. I just don't see how they come up with that idea. I see the "but"--de--in there, which implies a contrast, does it not, between the shadows and the "body" of Christ?

Part of the problem is the future tense nature of the "of the things to come" which I know you have addressed before, so no need to do so again. I am just interested in if there is any way the Greek means the church body should do the judging, not outsiders. Thanks.

Response #19:

There is nothing in the Greek to indicate that such an odd idea can be inductively deposited into this context.

I think the key point is that in verse 16, it says "nobody" (or ... not ... anybody; Gk. me . . . tis). If this were being qualified by Paul – as correspondent desires it to be – that would have to show up here. That is to say, Paul would have had to have said "don't let anyone outside of the Church judge you". But he just says "nobody" – and very clearly so. As it was, there were legalizing Christians at that time who were doing just what Paul very clearly hear prohibits, namely, judging others because they were not conforming to the Law (their version of the Law, that is). That is clearly what Paul is remonstrating against, and no verbal gymnastics performed on the Greek text can torque that basic meaning out of the passage. Turning a negative statement into a positive one takes incredible cheek!

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello--that is what I thought....I have read this verse since I was a teenager, and never got the idea that those in the church could judge what we eat and drink, etc. I thought if that is what he meant, Paul would have written it somewhere in the text. He was perfectly capable of doing so. Plus, the "soma" part is clearly being contrasted with the "shadow." If Paul meant the church could judge, then why put the word "body" near the end of vs. 17, and not with vs. 16? Honestly, these Judaizers. What a Procrustean bed they have to make out of scripture, to make it fit their a priori!

Also, apparently this guy is leaving out the phrase "which are a shadow of the things to come," making the sentence, "holy days, but the body of Christ." Which makes it sound as if the only one who can judge them is the body, i.e., the church. I told him if the intervening phrase "which are a shadow of the things to come" hadn't been in there, he would probably be correct, but it IS in there and Paul is clearly saying all these things he mentions are the shadows, which he clearly contrasts with Christ's "body" or "reality" found in Christ Himself. Hebrews also calls the Law the "shadow." But apparently these guys think that every time Paul uses the word 'soma" he means the church, which is nonsense. Honestly, haven't they ever heard of something called "context"?

He wrote this to me:

The definition of substance in the Greek is what the definition is. What the definition is for substance in Greek doesn't jive with your premise. Substance in Greek means an entity, body of people. Since this is the case it means body of Christ or you can say the Church.

Paul says don't let anyone judge you in regards to XYZ. The things are shadows of future things. Then Paul ends the text but/moreover the body of Christ.

Look at 1Cor 12:27. The exact word for body is used in Col 2:17.

1Cor 12:27

Now you are the body of Christ and individually r members of it.

I told him that just because Paul meant the church in some places, when he wrote "body" doesn't mean that he means the church every single time, that context must be taken into consideration. Plus, this guy says that "soma" must mean an "entity." Well, who does he think Jesus is--chopped liver?

Finally, in this verse, where it says "the substance/body is Christ" what "voice" is "Christ" in? Our bibleworks 4.0 says it is an adjective, so I am not sure how to read that. Is it just "but Christ, the body"? And is this one of those "ad sensum" things you have told me about, or is it one of those things in Greek where a word is left out that is understood to be in there? Just wondering. I will try not to bother you again about this. Thanks!

Response #20:

First, you are right about "body". When Paul says in Romans 7:24 "Who will rescue me from this body (Gr. soma) of death?" (NIV), he is clearly not talking about the Church (I hope everyone understands that).

Second, "Christ" is a noun (for all intents and purposes, although it is the transliteration of a Hebrew participle). Nouns don't have "voice"; only verbal forms do. In this sentence "of Christ" is, technically speaking, a "predicate genitive" which explains the subject "the body"; as in English when we say "that fellow is of Russian lineage".

Thirdly, yes, leaving things out when translating scripture is indefensible; there is no way to argue down people who feel themselves so superior to the Word of God that they may change it arbitrarily in any way they like.

In Him who is the unchangeable Word of God, our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello. While researching today, I came across a long back and forth you had with a Messianic heretic from therefinersfire.org

You did an outstanding job representing the faith against this man's heresy. I've dealt with and written extensively against what I can only describe as the heresy of Messianic Judaism, and it grieves me this cancer seems to be increasingly taking root in Fundamentalist churches and Christian TV as Jewish-garbed false teachers are being allowed to take the pulpit and indoctrinate the sheep into Festival and Torah observance. Last week I wrote an email to a "Messianic rabbi" on TBN at discoveringthejewishjesus.com who had the temerity to claim "the Church kept Rosh haShannah until the 4th century," requesting historical justification for this broad-brush, historically-inaccurate statement.

I got a form letter in response.

Meanwhile, I appreciated your fine refutation of that man's misconceptions and flat out lies.

There are hosts of Messianics who think just like him, which is why I count few as true brethren.

Yours,

Response #21:

Thanks much for your positive comments!

And best wishes for your work in trying to extricate believers from this type of cult behavior.

Every part of the Body of Christ is essential to the whole and every ministry for Jesus Christ, done in truth and faithfulness, will not fail to reap its full eternal reward.

Keep on fighting this good fight, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #22:

Hi Bob,

I was reading a comic that said this: "Esau couldn't wait. He wanted what he wanted by yesterday. He wasn't interested in the things of tomorrow. The Bible also said he was a "fornicator'' (Hebrews 12:16), so in that area he also got what he wanted.'

So I decided to look up Hebrews 12:16, and most non-interpretive versions render the verse thus: 'Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.' However, the usage of the word fornicator needs not refer to Esau. One way to read this verse would be thus: 'Least there be any fornicator, or a profane person as Esau, who....' Another way would be the reading suggested by the comic, 'Lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau was, who....'

Which reading offers a better interpretation?

Response #22:

A pornos is not really a fornicator but someone who sells his/her body for money, literally. Paul is using this metaphorically here in the sense of a "total sell-out". Preceding these words we have a number of hortatory prohibitions all beginning with the Greek phrase me tis, specifically, three identical phrasing, the last of which is me tis pornos. This last phrase is joined to "profane" (bebelos) by the comparative/disjunctive particle e, which argues for this second descriptor to be an alternative or complementary explanation for whatever pornos means here. Since the following description of Esau is of one who "totally sells out" his claim on something wonderful for something entire worthless, the analogy of prostitution and profanity is very close to the mark for what Esau did and, more to the point, what these contemporary Jewish Christians were on the point of doing, namely, compromising their eternal rewards – and in some cases also their salvation – for the sake of very short term "rewards" not worthy of true comparison with what they were, by their bad choice, considering as "common or profane" (bebelos). So the addition of e bebelos shows that pornos is not meant literally (obviously, that is of course an un-Christian thing!), but figuratively (which the rest of the verse and the next verse show with the added explanation of "the trouble with Esau"), the net result being that those in Paul's audience who were guilty of compromising their Christianity for the sake of fitting in and avoiding persecution were really no better than prostitutes, getting a mere short-term and questionable benefit by sacrificing something really precious. What Esau did was not physical porneia; what Esau did was the spiritual equivalent of porneia, and that goes for those in Jerusalem who would make the mistake of not heeding Paul's warning here.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the most precious possession we will ever have.

Bob L.

Question #23:

Dr. Luginbill,

I have been perusing your very in depth and informative ichthys.com website of late, and I find your studies to be in line with a lot of the questions I've struggled with in my adult life regarding my salvation. My understanding of what salvation in Christ looks like in my life has matured over the years and I've experienced many trials and tribulations. I take this to be my "working out my salvation with fear and trembling". Thank you for your work in creating this online resource!

I have a question regarding what I believe to be a matter of opinion or interpretation in the life of a believer and it has to do with, yes, an argument I am having with another believer. This believer also happens to be a close relation, so there's a whole other level of emotional sensitivity to the issue. He thinks he's right and I think I'm right, feelings are hurt, family relationships are strained, etc. The argument has to do with our attitude towards sin as believers. He believes he has been healed of sin through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. It was a serious issue separating him from God over years and years of his life, and now he feels he has been healed of that sin and is totally dedicated to keeping that particular brand of sin out of his life. Without discounting the regenerative power of the Spirit in guiding a believer away from damaging behaviors and towards God (I myself have struggled with sin too), I feel like some of his behavior had continued to lead to unhealthy and potentially damaging interactions with both believers and nonbelievers alike.

Now, I think it is an amazing testament to the miraculous power of God to help us not engage in unhealthy and harmful behaviors (to ourselves and others), don't get me wrong! But the degree to which he flees from anything that could possibly tempt him is extreme. Extreme to the point that he feels he need to tell everyone about how this sin was a problem in his life that he has been healed of, that he has taken a stance against anything and everything that could cause a person to be tempted. [details omitted] I totally understand that he needs to do what he needs to do so this sin won't consume him, but I feel like the degree to which he takes his fight gives these temptations more power and weight than they deserve, and frankly makes me feel ashamed for all sorts of normal behavior which is not sinful and does not pose any sort of temptation to me. He makes everyone feel ashamed and believes that no one understands or cares. It's like he's trying to take on the sins of the world, make people sin less, and I'm absolutely positive that he can't accomplish this! He's trying to eliminate the world, or at least his world of the slightest possibility of temptation.

I understand that particularly in the US, our culture is completely awash in temptations, and that's a horrible thing. As Christians, I do not see the act of trying to get the sins and temptations to sin out of the world as being our battleground, however. And I don't think it's our job to convict the world of it's sinfulness. I see possible temptations and it really just doesn't very often register or entice me into the same patterns of thought which tempt him. I just see something of the world that doesn't satisfy like God satisfies and that's that. I also don't feel the need to be delivering a running commentary on how awful and destructive those things which have tempted me are. I don't demand that others change their habits on account of me so I'm not tempted as he does. I wouldn't want to, because it's my struggle and it's between me and God, and I trust Him to show me better things and provide me strength to deal with stress in healthier ways.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but I'm having trouble explaining everything. The bottom line is that I feel that his victory over his sin has taken the form of pride, and it's extremely alienating to both Christians and non-Christians. It feels like he's shaming everyone for not taking the steps to rid themselves of temptation the way that he has and I feel it distorts the message of the Gospel. The Gospel is always welcoming, always inviting and leads us to transformation by showing us better things than what we had been trying to get out of the world, but that is always personal and the Spirit does the convicting. It looks different for every person.

I told him that I did not want to discount the work the Spirit has done in his life, but I think this passionate stance against the sins of the world and trying to change that is not fruit. It comes off as being holier than thou and judgmental and I don't think God is in the business of using us to convict sinners. The Holy Spirit has that covered and we are to reflect the love and joy we experience in Him.

I hope I'm explaining everything correctly. I was wondering if you might have any thoughts on this or can direct me to anything you've written that addresses the subject of what a believer's stance on the sins of others is to be, what it's supposed to look like and how we are to appear to unbelievers.

Sincerely,

Response #23:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your kind words about this ministry.

Please don't apologize for the length and detail of your very carefully written and thought-out email. Not only have you explained the situation very clearly but it also seems to me that you are entirely right in every regard in terms of how you have analyzed this problem and this situation. I really couldn't have said it better myself. You are absolutely correct that we rejoice when a person allows the Spirit to take control of some area of weakness; and we cannot underestimate the importance of the individual's taking of responsibility in such cases in order for the Spirit – who does not overrule our free will – to be allowed to guide us. However it would be a mistake to think that this victory is not reversible.

Like you, I would not want to second guess entirely and dogmatically everything your family member is doing with his own personal life to avoid future failure, but you are absolutely correct in finding fault with an attitude that desires to impose that same regime on others. This is the heart of legalism. If I have a gambling problem, then I need to stay away from anything having to do with gambling. Petitioning my congressman to have it made illegal and standing on street corners waving signs against it may be legal but in my view it is no sort of proper Christian behavior. Others need the gospel; not condemnation for vice. Other Christians need ministry of all sorts; not legalistic intervention condemning them for things they don't even feel are sinful (and may not be, as in some of your examples). The world is a horrible place; it is the devil's world until Christ returns, after all (e.g., Jn.14:30). Christians are not here to fix it – it cannot be fixed except by our Lord when He returns. Christians are here to give a good witness to men and angels both, and the way they do that is by setting an example of spiritual growth (through learning and believing the truth), walking with Christ in a sanctified way (by applying the truth to their lives), and helping others do likewise (through the ministry opportunities our Lord offers us day by day). But self-righteousness and legalism and any behavior patterns which are demonstrably "nutty" are not only not profitable for the individual Christian but also potentially very harmful to all with whom the person associates.

I also appreciate your loving and careful way of dealing with this person. It is hard to be patient and loving when dealing with other Christians who are "going rogue" in this way, but in my opinion it is more difficult when they are family members or loved ones (for a variety of obvious reasons). You seem to have adopted just the right balanced approach, and I commend you for that. It seems all you lack is him coming to his senses and seeing the light of the truth as you are trying to display it to him. I would try not to get too frustrated about that. I don't know of a single serious Christian who has decided to make a difference for Christ in the correct biblical way who has not had trouble with family or been concerned and upset by family members, their behavior or their spiritual status. This is one of the crosses we have to bear. The devil knows quite well that we are more vulnerable in this area than most other places. Be patient and continue to pray for him and to parcel out the truth carefully, sparingly and lovingly, always being on the lookout for the proper time and place. We often have to wait for deliverance on these matters. Abraham was 100 before Isaac was born, after all. Let's hope it doesn't take that long for him to come around. I promise to say a prayer for him and for you.

Here are some verses which may be helpful:

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:17 NIV

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:6 NIV

Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:2 NIV

In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:4 NIV

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #24:

Thank you, Bob, for your timely and insightful response. I can't say I have in every instance exhibited patience on this matter in dealing with him. To be honest, there have been a few blow-ups, I'm sad to say. Your words have affirmed that I need to be taking these interactions with a patient heart more and more, rather than responding with indignation. I thank you for your exhortation, whether or not you intended it to be! When I was writing this, I found myself drawn, or led in the Spirit to Romans 14:2-5 and have been resting in those verses.

Thanks again,

Response #24:

You're most welcome.

From what you've shared, bearing up under this sort of behavior without any sort of reaction would take the patience of a more sanctified than average saint. It is true that the best weapons we have where family members are concerned are the love we continue to demonstrate to them and the prayers we continue to offer up for them. They already have us "pegged" so that anything we might say, even if perfect in its delivery, is probably going to be discounted because of the source. Blessedly, God knows all this, and will certainly answer our prayers in due time. He knows precisely how and where to nourish any responsiveness to the truth. Particularly in such cases, spiritual growth cures all ills. But of course the person in question has to be willing to grow. As long as said person is spiritually immature, we who see things more clearly are going to have to continue to play the role of the adult in the relationship.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior who bore all of our iniquities on the cross.

Bob L.

Question #25:

Mr. Lugenbill,

I greatly appreciate your website.

I have a question I'm hoping you can help me with.

I'm currently in email debates (I go thru this every 2 yrs or so) with a family member who is very legalistic, "I dare not die with an unconfessed sin on my record (we're talking post-conversion sin)" …. (I.e. Water immersion baptism only, only his church is going to heaven, very work-based belief system w/no understanding of grace). As a born again believer in Christ, I believe salvation is unmerited and comes once we place our faith in Christ and trust in his redemptive work on the cross . . . that kind of faith has led to repentance in my life for many years.

My family member doesn’t understand that once we come to faith in Christ, that we are still sinful, but the change is that we are redeemed and justified by a saving faith which will include repentance, but that repentance isn't a process of asking for forgiveness of sins in order to stand justified before God at judgement.

His beliefs are so hardwired into his brain after many years of following them that he doesn't even think beyond them at all – the only thing I feel I can do is to get him to think (kind of like Jesus did w/Pharisees) by asking him questions that will force him to see how his theology falls apart on itself.

For example, a series of questions that would work like this example will work (I think at least):

In Romans 7:21….

"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me," ,

I would then ask him, "Is Paul referring to himself during his pre-conversion life or his post-conversion life?"

So if the answer from my family member would be "pre-conversion" life then I could show him how that would contradict Paul's statement in chapter three quoting OT Scripture… "There is no one righteous, not even one" - that verse couldn't be talking about pre-conversion life because it would imply that in pre-conversion life, Paul wanted to do good. But like legalists my family member always has a way of finding how that Scripture can't line up so I'm looking for others

Any thoughts on a line of questions like that in which the legalist's argument falls apart?

Thanks so much.

In Christ,

Response #25:

Very good to make your acquaintance. Legalism is indeed a very tough nut to crack. Thank you for your kind words about this ministry – since you are a reader, I assume you know that there is quite a bit about legalism posted to the site (e.g., I have six posts on this specifically, the most recent of which are "Combating Legalism VI" and "Legalism, Past and Present").

I like to get right to the pith of things, so here is a good verse to use in my opinion when dealing with folks who think that their sin and what they do about it is more important somehow than God's grace in forgiving it:

[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1st John 2:2 NIV

Since Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, those of unbelievers too, and since then by definition all sin has been paid for, how is it that anyone can maintain that a person is condemned because of sins? In fact, a person only goes to hell for refusing to accept Jesus Christ as the Substitute for his/her sins.

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:14-15 NKJV

"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

Awareness of sin demonstrates our imperfection and may lead us to realize we have an eternal life problem, but salvation itself is all about faith, not sin. Through faith we believe unto salvation; those who refuse to accept Christ as their substitute for sin through faith abide under God's condemnation. The only thing that alienates those who have become one with Christ from Christ is the death of their faith, not sin per se. As long as we remain believers in Christ, our salvation is secure.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Since salvation comes by Gods grace when we accept through faith His gracious offer of a Substitute who died for our sins, how does insisting that it depends on repentance or confession or anything at all that we might do after salvation not constitute works rather than faith? If we are relying to be saved on some deeds we perform or some behavior from which we abstain, how can we be relying on grace through faith at the same time? If we think salvation depends on whether or not we sin or, if we do sin, how we deal with that sin? Aren't we forgetting that Christ died for all those sins, that He paid the entire price for our sins in the darkness on the cross? And if He paid, isn't it presumptuous to think that somehow we can pay too – or even that we need to do so? It's not about law, and it's not about sin; it's all about faith responding to God's grace:

Therefore [it is] of faith that [it might be] according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
Romans 4:16 NKJV

Jesus died for all sin. God the Father is very impressed with what His Son did in removing the barrier of sin that separated us from Him by giving Himself up to pay the penalty for them all. He is not at all impressed with anything we might do – and there is in truth nothing we could ever do to remove or mitigate any of our sins. If we lived 1,000 years we could not "work off" the least sin we have ever committed though we devoted all our energies to it night and day. For we are not qualified to bear sin – and could not do so if we were (no one really can imagine what suffering Jesus had to endure to propitiate the smallest sin ever committed).

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2nd Corinthians 5:21 NIV

That is how we are made righteous. Not by our own efforts, but entirely by the work of Jesus Christ.

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
Romans 4:4-5 NIV

If we seek salvation through works, there is no salvation. If we accept the truth that through faith in God's gracious provision we are made righteous – by standing on our Savior's work instead of our own – then we are saved. Grace and Legalism have nothing to do with each other; works and faith are antithetically opposed. We who believe are saved through faith by God's grace; those who seek their own righteousness by their own efforts are not saved because nothing we can do will ever satisfy God's perfect character. The latter is what non-believing descendents of Abraham have been attempting in their hardness of heart and have thus fallen short of God's true righteousness in a legalistic attempt to establish their own by their own efforts:

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.
Romans 9:30-31 NASB

Indeed, how is it not the supreme insult to tell the Father that what Jesus did in dying for our sins was so lacking and insufficient that we need to participate in the process with our own pathetic and actually abhorrent works?

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Romans 3:27-28 ESV

I hope this line will prove helpful to you. Best wishes in your fight on behalf of the truth of the gospel. Here are a few other verses which may be of help

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:17 NIV

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:6 NIV

Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:2 NIV

In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:4 NIV

In Jesus Christ who died for all of our sins, and ours only but for those of the entire world.

Bob Luginbill

Question #26:

Hello,

I hope you really do know how uplifting and encouraging you and your website are.

We have been spiritually striving alone as a family, without a church affiliation for about 6 years. We left the ultra conservative Church of Christ for MANY reasons, even though I grew up in that faith heritage. Your website has been a treasure of insight and healing for me. Thank you for that, too!

I have a question about Matthew 9:16-17. I've read these verses numerous times, but I never have grasped the true meaning of how it relates to what was being asked of Jesus at the time. If you have already covered this on your website, please tell me where to find it! I would greatly appreciate your insight on these verses.

Thank you, and may God bless you!

Response #26:

Very good to make to make your acquaintance!

As to your question, while I have never covered Matthew 9:16-17 (Mk.2:21ff.; Lk.5:36ff.) in a separate study, I have made use of the passage many times (as for example at the link: "Red Hot or Lukewarm? Bible Teaching versus Sermonizing"), inasmuch as there is direct application for us in our day and age (as your experience would seem to indicate along with mine and that of very many who come to Ichthys). In general terms, this passage teaches that changing things "from within" usually turns out to be a bad idea – if the change in question involves the power of the truth. That is because truth is potent and, like new wine (or an unwashed piece of fabric) will not go/fit well with a previous situation which is not "of the truth", so that it will not match the container/mesh, and the result will be a rift/breakage.

In terms of our Lord's day, the context of these remarks was the insinuation of the Pharisees that because Jesus was not doing things their way or John's way, that He was wrong in what He was doing; in fact, taking the teaching of the New Covenant into the synagogues to change them from within (as opposed to merely the obligatory announcement of the kingdom in such venues at first), would have created quite an explosion (they tried to stone Him more than once in any case). In fact, the new teaching, teaching of the truth without shadows – since now Jesus had come in the flesh – was inconsistent with the old primarily because of the reluctance of those to whom Jesus was speaking to accept the new: they had not really embraced the spirit, the "truth", of the old. That was the reason for the conflict then (and now), namely, preference for the "old" (which was self-defined religion rather than God's truth) over the "new" (the truth in pure and potent form which exploded the insincerity of the those who liked things they way they were). As our Lord concludes where this passage is covered in Luke:

"And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’ "
Luke 5:39 NIV

Christ is "the fulfillment of the Law for righteousness . . . for everyone who believes" (Rom.10:4). Absent faith, there was no compatibility between false old and true new. That is the power in the "new wine" and the "new patch" which makes the skin explode and the garment rip.

The same is true today as well, and that is the reason I always counsel those who are unhappy with their denominations/local churches to think twice before trying to "rock the boat"; in the end, they are only likely to sink the boat (or be thrown overboard). It's a very difficult time to be a true believer in Jesus Christ, to really love Him and His Word more than life itself. That point of view is rare enough so as to make it an uncommon blessing to a local fellowship where the Christians all feel the same way (and have acted on those feelings in the way the fellowship is structured and how it goes about its business in teaching the Word of God as "job #1"). More common are testimonies I receive all the time about the difficulty of finding such a place, or the uncomfortable situation of hanging on in a fellowship that doesn't have their priorities correct. And as I always say at this point, such explains why Ichthys if on the internet.

I hope you find the above helpful (please do feel free to write back) – and thanks again for your kind words.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #27:

I’ve been looking through your web pages and I find a lot to agree with but I think you’ve missed something when you say "Similarly, at Revelation 12:14 the "time, times and half a time" refers to the three and one half years of the Great Tribulation" on your page http://ichthys.com/Satans-Rebellion-Part5.htm .

I think the time, times and half a time model is also the model for human history, and I think you agree with this. Therefore a time is actually 2000 years, leaving the millennium as half a time. This gives human history as 7 half times. If we express "time, times and half a time" as an equation it looks like we get K + 2 x K + K / 2 = 3.5 K but it’s actually 2 x K + 2 x (2 x K) + K = 7 x K with 7 being a constant you would reasonably expect in any of God’s perfect plans. K is always a standard unit of time, day, week, lunar month, year, sabbatical year, jubilee year, millennium. For this reason and others I think the tribulation period is made of years, not half years, resulting in 7 years. I think the phrase time, times and half a time actually tells us more than most think. It says the first time is different from the second and third times, which are more similar to each other. It seems to me this proves true in human history with the 2 times being the covenant periods. The half a time period will certainly be unlike anything we’ve seen

On a different topic, I’m afraid if I asked the question "Where do people go when they die?" you would answer "To Heaven or Hell, where Hell is a place of punishment". How can people be punished before they are judged? If you think I’m advocating for purgatory, I’m not.

Changing topics again, you’ve done a good job of understanding the end time symbologies but I think you’ve missed some on the Sabbath:

Sabbath observance began before the law was given on Sinai, What does that tell us?

Many laws were given at Sinai but only 10 were carved in stone. The tablets of stone were kept in the Ark of the Covenant; The Torah was kept beside it. One was given by God written by his finger; the other was given by angels written by Moses. What does that tell us?

From the point of view of symbology does it make any sense that one of the 10 should be scratched off the tablets?

The weekly Sabbath is on the tablets; the other Sabbaths are not.

Isaiah 66:23, speaking of a future time, says "From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD". This is plainly speaking of a periodic Sabbath, not an everyday-is-the-Sabbath Sabbath

Jesus was under the law (Galatians 4:4) and he himself said he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17) therefore he could not break the law, nor abrogate the law, nor change the law

The Sabbath was created as a day of rest. Nowhere does the 4th commandment mention worship. It turns out that the day of rest makes a good day to come together for communal worship, but worship is for everyday. Also peace and rest are not the same thing

Your translation of Hebrews 4:9 is the second best I’ve ever seen. The only one that I think is better is "So then, it remains for the people of God to keep the Sabbath". But your translation shows that you understand that it is an observance, but you’ve turned that observance into a non-observance by making it into a 24/7 doing of nothing

You say that nowhere is the 4th commandment supported as an observance for Christians in the NT, but here it is in Hebrews 4:9 looking you in the eyes

If you think the Jews had trouble adjusting to the idea that circumcision was not part of the new covenant, imagine the trouble they would have had adjusting to the cancelling or changing of the Sabbath, but we never hear of such trouble.

When Jesus asks the Pharisees if it is OK to do good on the Sabbath he is mocking (perhaps too strong a word) their lack of knowledge of the Sabbath. In what way is that mocking? Was the Sabbath really about reducing kinetic energy as the Jews interpreted it?

Response #27:

Thanks for your good words. On your other points:

1) It's an interesting idea. There is perhaps an application of scripture here, but in the context where this and similar terms are used (e.g., the 42 months), the main interpretation is a reference to the Great Tribulation (see the link: "The 42 Months" for a comprehensive look at all the references).

2) I don't believe I've ever said this or phrased things this way. As believers, our eternal future is on earth, in the New Jerusalem (not "in heaven" which is a temporary abode at present for departed believers since the ascension only). Unbelievers end up in the lake of fire at the end of history following the last judgment (for the details of the "last judgment", see the link). When an unbeliever dies at present, they are deposited in torments (a compartment of Hades; see the link). As unpleasant as that will be, the lake of fire will be inestimably worse from what we can glean from scripture. The main assumption here is a bit off, however. Neither torments nor the lake of fire is "punishment" in the true English sense of the word. It is horrible, and it is the penalty or just desserts of those who reject the Son of God, but there is no sense in which unbelievers ever "pay off" their sins (as punishment suggests). Unbelievers are thrown out of God's realm of blessing and into a place where they are separated from Him – because that is what they have chosen (and there can be no blessing apart from God, only cursing; see the link: BB 4B: Soteriology).

3) Here we will have to agree to disagree, and emphatically so. Yes, the key idea of the Sabbath is one of rest and peace, but as with all things in the transition from the Old to the New we have a transition from the symbolic/physical to the real/spiritual. Our rest now is meant to be an all-the-time rest of faith with the Lord – a real, spiritual rest – rather than a sometime physical rest which only represents the spiritual reality (e.g., Heb.3:11 - 4:11). This is very important because failing to see that the spiritual realities of life in Christ are more real (and much more important) than physical and symbolic things has been the downfall of Christians and Christian organizations from the beginning. Whether it is priests or denominations or personal confessions or water-baptism or tithing or any other of a whole host of "imports" from the realm of the "letter" to the realm of the "Spirit", all such things are indicative of and conducive to spiritual decay. Jesus Christ is "Lord of the Sabbath" (Lk.6:5), and we believers are now one with Him as His believer-priests – just as the Levitical priests did what was necessary even on the Sabbath (Matt.12:1-8), so we too need to do for the Lord what He wants us to do, irrespective of day observance, and all times too – or at lease we should.

I am happy to discuss the specifics you include here if you wish, however, this is one of those questions where, if care is not taken, the forest can be missed for the trees. So first, I would recommend, to see where I am coming from on this issue, that you read the link: "The Law, Love, Faith-Rest and Messianism" (especially from question/answer #3 on).

Yours in Jesus Christ who is our Savior and life eternal,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hi Bob,

2.a (Paradise / Heaven)) Hmm, Hades, wonderful how the names of dead false gods continue to pour from the lips of Christians. Perhaps we could call it by its Biblical name, Sheol, and avoid the confusion that results from also having a Greek Hades which is something quite different.

In "Transfer" you say "As a result, all who have died in the Lord from that point forward have gone directly to heaven as well"

And yet Paul, who describes his encounter with Paradise in 2 Corinthians 12, does not say I found the place to be empty. He says he "heard words that are unspeakable, because it is not authorized for a man to speak them."

We also know that Paradise and Heaven are not the same place because, in these same verses, Paul speaks of two encounters, one with the Third Heaven, the other with Paradise. Unless Paul is being pointlessly redundant Paradise and the Third Heaven cannot be the same place, nor even interconnected places, as some claim.

2.b (torments as penalty/punishment)) You seem to view the word punishment as being different from penalty as being intended to pay off a debt. My dictionary makes no such distinction. In any case it is a trivial difference that was not my point at all. The suffering in Sheol is neither penalty nor punishment. It is the natural state of the dead. If you note carefully in Jesus’ description in the Lazarus – Rich Man story, the Rich Man simply finds himself there. But for Lazarus "Angels brought him to The Bosom of Abraham".

Why then does the Rich Man suffer and not Lazarus if it is not a penalty? The Rich Man suffers because he does not have life. Especially in the western world we think of life and death as states of being. A person is either dead (non-existence to some) or alive (existence), but this is not Biblical. The Rich Man has existence but not life. Specifically he is missing the Life, Water of Life, Breath of Life that was in the body he once had. Now he has no source for life.

So the suffering in Sheol is not a penalty but being carried by angels to a source of life is a reward.

For this reason the demons that Jesus cast out also went into a dry place. Their access to life was cutoff. Even enjoying the life that flows within pigs was better than that.

3.a (Sabbath)) I looked over the page that you listed and find the same things that I have found elsewhere on your pages. There is a huge ball of misunderstandings and I wish I knew which string to cut to make it fall apart.

BTW, I need to qualify my congratulations on your translation of Hebrews 4:9. You translate it differently in different places.

You say moving from the OT to the NT moves everything from the symbolic/physical to the real/spiritual. That is not correct. All the observances of the OT were both physical and spiritual. The Israelites may not have understood that in every case or at every time, but they were. We know for certain that the Israelites understood circumcision was a physical observance of a spiritual matter, that God was really interested in the circumcision of their hearts. Moses told them this. Just because they understood this did not mean that the physical circumcision was not required; it was.

You also seem to be saying that physical observances are bad because they run the risk that people will forget the spiritual aspect and the physical observance will become a legalistic action. It is true that this risk exists and that risk had become fact with most of the religious elite of Jesus’ time. But that does not make the observance bad.

Baptism (OT or NT) is not bad. It is (or should be) a symbolic declaration of a spiritual change. Communion is not bad. It is again a physical expression of a spiritual matter.

You also seem to say that the Apostles stopped all physical observance of the OT feasts. If that is your meaning that is not a fact. What was the quartodeciman fight about? What did Polycarp say about it? He said that he himself was taught by the apostles to observe Passover according to the Jewish calendar. The Church of Rome was still observing Passover but they had changed the date to make it fall on Sunday. Later they would change the name and instead use the name of a dead false goddess.

Seeking the truth

Response #28:

1) Hades is the actual biblical term used in the New Testament (in the Greek). Sheol is the Hebrew term. Since the Spirit has no problem using Hades (while He could have had the writers of the NT use the transliteration of Sheol), why is there a perceived problem with us using it? To do otherwise would be to skew from what scripture actually says. "Hell" is a Germanic word going back to the pagan eschatology of the Teutons (and yet we have no trouble using that word today, even though we mean something quite different by it). As to the details, I think if you read all the links provided it would be easier. For example, Paul received his view of heaven after Christ's ascension and that was therefore after the Old Testament believers et al. had been brought from Abraham's Bosom to the third heaven, so of course it wasn't "empty" (this is all made clear in the refs given). As to paradise, that is a general term for God's place of blessing, and is applied to a number of different places according to the time in question (see the link: "The Seven Edens").

2) The Bible is not written in English so that the question is not an English one. The question is a Greek/Hebrew and a theological one. Scripture doesn't put things that way so neither do I, and the theological reasons for the distinction are important: only Christ could pay for any sin, since no human being is either qualified to or capable of bearing sin or paying the penalty for it through punishment for their sins (which is also pointless since Christ has died for every sin already). No one is saying that the interim places of restraint in Hades (Torment and the Abyss) are pleasant; they are places where God's blessing is absent so that by definition there is only cursing. Unbelieving human beings and fallen angels pay the price for their decision to reject God; they are not punished for individual sins. The difference is substantial, pace Websters.

3) Polycarp was not an apostle. The first generation of the Church following the apostles immediately began to go to seed because they "abandoned their first love" (Rev.2:4; see the link on the Seven Churches). As to spiritual/physical, no one is saying that there was not a symbolism of the spiritual behind the physical acts of the OT – that is precisely what I did say. What I am saying is that the NT regime is one of the more real spiritual realities replacing the merely symbolic physical rituals. That principle is ubiquitous in the New Testament. E.g.:

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with [Him] through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-12 NKJV

So both in the case of the two most pronounced rituals, circumcision and baptism, we see that the spiritual reality is more important and has replaced the physical rituals to which spiritual circumcision and Spirit baptism respond. That is also the essential difference between grace and law.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
Colossians 2:16 NIV

We are to have a day by day rest in the Lord (see the link). We are in an intensified phase of God's plan where every moment counts, and this will become more and more true the closer we draw to the Tribulation. The one-day-a-week approach had its time – the seventh day was the symbol of this perfect all-time peace with the Lord – but now we are to have that peace, to embrace that rest in faith every day every step of the way in our Christian walk and life.

This is all about the truth, not tradition.

Yours in Jesus Christ who is the Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #29:

Thank you so much your teaching on cast your bread upon the waters set me free like never before!

Can't wait for the rest of the teachings !

Liverpool

Response #29:

Good to make your acquaintance.

Thanks for your positive comments – you are certainly welcome at Ichthys. Feel free to write back any time.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

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