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Witnessing: Cults and Christianity II

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Question #1:

Does your God Kill people?

Response #1:

Dear Friend,

There is only one God, and His Name is the Lord.

Salvation only comes by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the God-Man who died for all your sins and mine (see the link). Responding to the one and only God by accepting the gift of life won by His Son's death for you is the only way to overcome death, judgment and the lake of fire.

In Him,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:

Why didn’t you answer my question? Does the One God you worship kill people?

Response #2:

Dear Friend,

I gave you the answer you needed to hear.

God is love. He loved you so much before He even made you that He sent His Son from heaven to die for your sins. All who respond to that gift of gifts by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior are delivered from the second death. All who do not face the last judgment. Do you think that the Judge of the Universe will be impressed by your questions? Will He be stumped and unable to answer you? Will this sort of thinking prevent Him from finding you guilty of throwing His gracious sacrifice for you right back in His face? So please don't do that. He gave you life – not to destroy you, but so that you might have eternal life with Him. This life means nothing – it is what is coming oh so soon afterwards that counts. He wants you to be saved – but He will not force your free will. Please choose the right path, the only one that leads to life, Jesus Christ, who is "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn.14:6; cf. Jn.3:16; 1Tim.2:4).

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2nd Corinthians 5:20 NIV

Please see the link: Salvation: God's Free Gift

In the dear Lord who paid for all of our sins that we might be resurrected from death and be delivered from the grave and the second death, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

Bob L.

Question #3:

All I want from you is YES or NO. BUT I already know your answer. Anyone who avoids giving a straight answer IS OF EVIL.

Response #3:

Dear Friend,

What does it say about someone who asks questions to which they "already know the answer"?

My answers were straight – straight as an arrow. Here are some scriptures for you to consider:

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
Matthew 10:28 NIV

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
John 3:36 NIV

And here is a question for you: Where will you be spending eternity? This is a genuine question whose answer is truly important. And if you are not a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, then I am afraid then answer is not a happy one.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved".
Acts 16:31 NIV

Yours in the Savior of the World, then One who died that you might live forever, our dear Lord Jesus.

Bob L.

Question #4:

Bob, I was right! I have been dealing with people for a very long time, and as you know you can tell a lot about people by how they respond to questioning, even if they don’t say anything. Although we are not able to know the secrets of their hearts as God does; God says we can know them by their fruits.

I already knew were you stood by your 1st response. what you know about God’s character, which is what I was testing you for. I did not write to you to learn from you but to see if you would like to learn more about God true nature?

If you have never studied the life of Jesus for He is the only true standard of truth we have then you could be hopeless. Almost all professed Christians are really Paul followers and Paul is a false apostle who contradicts Jesus on very important issues.

Response #4:

Dear Friend,

What about these scriptures?

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.
Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV

. . . and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Revelation 22:19 NKJV

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2nd Timothy 3:16 KJV

. . . and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
2nd Peter 3:15-16 NKJV

To reject Paul, you have to reject the entire Bible, because the Pauline epistles are most definitely part of scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit and part of God's complete message for us.

Also, there is not a single teaching or sentiment in the epistles of Paul which is not completely consistent with everything in the gospels, the Words of Jesus, or the Old Testament.

You are sadly mistaken, and are completely misconstruing our Lord if you think otherwise. As Jesus our Lord Himself said about Paul to Ananias:

But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he (i.e., Paul) is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel."
Acts 9:15

. . . unless you want to throw out Peter and Luke and Acts too.

Yours in the One who died for us that we might have life eternal, Jesus Christ the Righteous, the Son of God, true God and true Man in One unique Person forever.

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob, this discussion is useless for you will never understand what we have to say, because you don’t know Jesus. Let me guess, you sound like a Baptist, and it is Paul whom you worship, not Jesus. Satan has totally deceived you. Jesus said "if you love me keep my commandments " john 14:15. Jesus also said "the Sabbath day was made for man". Sunday worship comes from catholics. Paul said it doesn’t matter which day to keep.

So here we have Jesus says to keep His commandments and Paul says not to. Two contradictory statements. There can only be one correct answer. Jesus or Paul. Because you are a Pauline-ist that means you rejected Jesus. Now what’s another name for a person who rejects what Christ said? An anti-Christ. What does that make you? 1John 2:3,4 says" he that keeps not my commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him". Here is another gem especially for you Bob this is from Proverbs 28:9 "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination".

Response #5:

Dear Friend,

It is clear that we each worship a different Jesus and each use a different Bible. Your Bible consists of only those parts you want to consult, if and when you consult it all; and, really, what you think and/or what has been "revealed" to you from who knows what source and/or whatever other extra-biblical authorities you genuflect to is obviously of much more importance to you than the actual Word of God. As to our Lord Jesus Christ, my Jesus – the true Jesus – is God; He also became a true human being in order to be able to go to the cross and die for my sins and yours – and for those of the entire world. Just because for the whatever-you-worship you use the same name does not make your deity "Jesus" (and from your intimations my suspicion is that you belong to one of those cults or false religions which deny that our Lord Jesus is truly God – you might want to check the link: "Jesus is God"). Antichrist will claim to be Jesus too (that is why he is called anti-Christ, as in "substitute Christ", not merely "opposed to Christ", inasmuch as the Greek preposition bears both meanings; see the link).

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
1st Corinthians 8:5-6 NIV

There is nothing new in a person or group like you and yours setting up a new religion, redefining God for their own purposes, and "reinventing" scripture through additions, subtractions or wholesale replacement. This has been going on since the re-creation of the world. Indeed, it has been going on even longer than that, since Satan started it:

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
John 8:44 NIV

The first thing that any person or group need do if they wish to rebel against the truth is to invent a lie or system of lies and dub them "the truth". That is what Satan did, and that is what all who belong to him inevitably do. That is what you and your group are doing too. One need look no farther than your modus operandi. You contacted me, and then you pretended to be seeking information, and you did it in a way designed to encourage me to defend my faith, even though you were not being straightforward about your own intentions. Sounds very much like what the serpent did with Eve in the garden, or what the devil tried to do with our Lord in the wilderness. These are not an accidental similarities (see the links: "Cult Characteristics" and "Cult Practices"). But why did you reach out to contact me? It may seem strange to many people that persons such as yourself and groups like yours don't just keep themselves and their heretical ideas to themselves. But beyond the obvious benefits (i.e., more converts equals more unwitting sheep to fleece and more slaves to exploit), there is also a subtle psychological dynamic at work. In your heart of hearts you know you are rebelling against God (just as the devil knew), and you know (as he did), that such a thing is incredibly dangerous, both immediately, but also eternally. If only you and yours could just get everyone else to do the same thing, then perhaps God's hands would be tied and He would be unable or unwilling to condemn everyone. In fact, that false "safety in numbers" principle was precisely the reassurance Satan offered his doomed followers (and was behind his efforts to corrupt the first human couple as well). It is also a phenomenon that has been at the heart of mobs and evil mass political movements ever since (small wonder since they answer to the devil too). Unfortunately for you, that theory doesn't happen to have any validity with God. You know that too, in your heart of hearts – and the point is brought home every time some intended hapless target of you attentions proves to be faithful to the One true God and His Son our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I have one final bit of advice, and then this correspondence must end. Whatever extra-biblical make-believe you want to believe is up to you. We all have free will. But evangelizing for evil, leading others astray whose foundations may not be secure enough to withstand your lies, is fraught with horrifying danger for you in this life (and I shudder to contemplate the next):

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matthew 18:6 NIV

I advise you to keep these lies to yourself.

Yours in the only Jesus there is, Jesus Christ, the God-man (whom Paul preached: Acts 19:13).

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob,

Today I had a rather intense encounter with a false religion, which, through the work of human hands, tries to appease God, but fails to do so because its practitioners do not know the God they worship. I give a rough paraphrase of our dialogue. There was another young man on campus who was being told of this religion, but I intervened and told him not to recite the prayer the other man was showing him.

I was walking down the camps to my dormitory when I was confronted by the practitioner. He began with small talk about my shirt, and then progressed to showing me the religious texts. I told him how the gods he worshiped were creations, and that he as a human being is destined to replace them if he believes in Jesus Christ.

He progressed to taking about carnivory, and how the shedding of the blood of animals is murder. I told him that this is not so, and he countered about how it would hurt if he tried to slaughter me. I became nervous and headed back, but afterwards I gained strength and came back to confront him. By this time he moved someplace else and was talking to another young man (the same man I introduced in the second paragraph of this email). I confronted him and told him that eating animals is not murder, but he was trying to get this other man to recite a prayer. I told the young lad not to do it, and it appears that he stopped. He gave the young lad some books, but I don't know whether or not he will read them. I then told the practitioner that carnivory is not murder, because animals do not have free will and are not made in the image of God, and that he as a human has knowledge of good and evil. He then told me that he does not know what is evil and walked away.

I am concerned that I did not further follow him, because he might get other people trapped in this false system of works. I also felt that it was very cowardly that I became nervous and failed to further pursue him even though he may entangle people in his false system of religion. I tried searching for him again, but I could not find him. He appears so dedicated to `helping God,' but at what cost?

Sincerely,

Response #6:

I would not be at all "down" about my performance in this if I were you. I think you behaved admirably. We always seem to second-guess ourselves about such confrontations, but the main thing is that you stood up for the truth and for Jesus Christ in the face of an agent of Satan who was trying to lead someone astray (Prov.24:11-12). I am very proud of your courage in Christ.

There is also a limit to what we can do vis-a-vis those who are being used of the devil in this way. Paul "put up" with the demon possessed woman in Philippi for a good long while, and it was only after he became exasperated and cast out the demon that the trouble began. Naturally, we cannot do the same (not being apostles), but we can confront lies with the truth at the appropriate time – exactly as you have done. Quite frankly, following this person and continuing to confront him I think would have been taking things a step too far. You did, in my opinion, just the right thing throughout.

Yours in Jesus Christ who knows the end from the beginning and all things that will ever happen under the sun.

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello,

I recognize your passion for the Truth in your website, and wanted to share a new discovery with you. I believe it reaches back to pre-Babylonian times, but referenced in John's Apocalypse. I writing about John's Apocalypse, which simply means "the revealing" in Greek, referring to something previously hidden, reserved for the End of Days. Regardless of the effort, no one really understands all of what John meant in his Apocalypse. Hundreds of books, everyone with a different opinion on the "symbolic meaning." But what if it wasn't symbolic? What if it was meant to be taken ... literally?

Profound images exist in the Utah landscape. They are grouped together in one location, each perfectly north facing, each beautifully proportioned, and each measures 3 MILES across (no small feat). I propose here is what John described literally from his vantage point "up in the heavens, so the only way WE can also see what John saw is with GoogleEarth, or from an aircraft. Mountains and valleys were shaped to create murals that tell a story. These geologic murals are messages from the Gods that transcend language, time, and political agenda. Someone went through a lot of trouble to make these happen. These images were shown to me last year in a way that was somehow connected to the spiritual realm. The word slain doesn't even approach the experience. I call it traumatic ecstasy, and the fire of the spirit causes your body and soul to tremble for a month thereafter.

The Locust (carrying a CHI RHO Cross -- the symbol of Christ -- which wasn't mentioned in Revelation 9). Three miles across the mountains. The Beast of Revelation (with John beside it). Again, 3 miles across. The Great Harvest with King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon who was not mentioned in the verse. Here's more of them (but not all of them) in an 8 minute video, including the White Horse, the Black Horse, the Harlot of Babylon, the Seven-Headed Beast, and the Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit.

It seems outlandish for John's prophecy to be revealed in this manner, but it makes perfect sense.

Again, in the beginning of his Book, John says he was "taken up into the heavens" (the sky) and shown these images by an angel. He did not say these images came from his imagination, or from a vision from God, or from a scroll, or from a book.

I doubt that John wrote his book for entertainment purposes, to be ridiculed as a lunatic, or to be judged as true or false by mankind, and I'm asking you to consider these images in a similar manner. John wrote to serve God and forewarn humanity to prepare for the return of the Lord after the Apocalypse (the revealing). It's no coincidence that John's images exist together in the same location, safe from the terror of Jerusalem on the other side of the world, revealed to us in these End of Days.

I'm happy to share the rest of the information that was "downloaded" spiritually, with the associated landscape monuments, if you are interested. I'm not a religious person, but I am spiritually disciplined, just trying to pass the information along to anyone who can appreciate.

Six billion people is a huge net to cast to find the tribe of 144,000. John's spirit tarries on...

Kindly,

Response #7:

Dear Friend,

I can assure you that the book of Revelation definitely is literal, but it has nothing to do with Utah. The book's actual name in Greek is "the Revelation of Jesus Christ". Our Lord will be fully revealed to the world when He returns at the Second Advent following the events of the Tribulation. That is what the book is about. For more information on this please see the nine-part series, Coming Tribulation (which includes a complete exegesis of Revelation; see the link).

Through Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the only Way of salvation,

Bob Luginbill

Question #8:

Dear Bob,

Thank you for your prompt reply. I totally understand your difficulty with the word Utah, but these images were embedded in the planetary landscape long before the word Utah ever existed.

This discovery is so important, it has the power to shift the paradigm that has been laid down before all of us for thousands of years. This discovery has the power to restore the truth, as it was meant to be.

This reminds me of a time when people first learned that the Earth was not flat -- how did they learn the Earth was round? It had to be proven. Someone had to "break the ice." Hence, this is my calling.

I've been put into a position where I've been shown that all of John's so-called "visions" were embedded in the Earth. But there's much more. Not only were John's "visions" identified,

but monumental portraits of the Gods are embedded inbetween them, and they match descriptions of those Gods and Goddesses identified in the ancient Sumerian legends. These are the Gods that created heaven and earth, and all life upon it, including humans. My spirit guide showed me that this phenomena of planetary art created by manipulating geology was not only practiced on Earth, but on the surface geology of other planets as well. For instance, the planet Venus holds illustration of the Aztec legend of creation, where the creator Goddess spans a distance of over 2000 miles. Clearly, these images were meant to be seen. They were meant to transcend time and language. These works were created by the Gods, not by man.

Lastly, the word "Apocalypse" means "the revealing" in Greek. Nothing more. These geologic landscapes of art represent the revealing of John's words in these End of Days, and now, the countdown is upon us to prepare for the return. So, what does it mean to prepare?

John also tells us that God will destroy those who destroy the Earth, and he says that there will be an epic earthquake. Taken together, we might consider preparing by disengaging the nuclear power plants and dismantling offshore oil rigs, which would cause enormous damage to the Earth and life upon her when this earthquake happens. We can walk around like saints until the last day and survive the shaking, but we will not survive the fallout from multiple "Fukashima" events. What good is storing 3 years of food in the basement after exposed to the nuclear fallout? It's time to wake up.

I would also like to present an image of my white stone (crystal) with the symbol of the Lord within it. My white stone contains the Chi Rho cross, the symbol of Christ. And lately, please examine this 3-mile-wide image of the Locust in the landscape, who is also carrying the Chi Rho cross. I am happy to show you the rest of the images in person, if you wish. Otherwise, I wish you the absolute best in all of your endeavors.

Kindest regards,

Response #8:

Dear Friend,

I'm confused. As you would know from even a brief perusal of the website, Ichthys, this ministry is devoted to Bible study and the proposition that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that eternal life comes through faith in Him, His person, human and divine, and His work of atonement on the cross. I know of only one true God – in three Persons (the Trinity). Scripture is very clear on the point that Jesus Christ created the world in an instant of time (Jn.1:3; Col.1:16; Heb.1:1-3; 1:10). There are no other "gods", Sumerian or otherwise (Deut.32:39). As to the word apocalypse, yes, it does mean revealing/unveiling, but in the Book of Revelation it is, importantly, qualified to explain just whose "revelation" it is:

The Revelation (apokalypsis) of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
Revelation 1:11 NKVJ

Perhaps I misread your email (apologies if I did). But the true worship of God has no more to do with paganism of any kind than "straw does with grain" (Jer.23:28).

In the Name of Him who is the only way of salvation, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob!

Grace, Mercy, and Peace be multiplied unto you my brother.

Just to jog your memory, I'm the one who has some of my family members involved in the "way international." And I have been praying for Gaurav's son.

I want to thank you for your prayers. One of my siblings gave his life to Jesus many years ago, but did not do anything with it. Recently as were talking, he told me that he recommitted his life to Jesus Christ and wanted to live his life the way the Lord wanted him to. Whenever we talk, you can hear in his voice and his words that there has been quite a remarkable change. Praise GOD! Thanks again for your prayers Bob, but your not finished. One down, or should I say one "up", and four more to go.

I have to admit that it is one fierce battle, I knew that spiritual warfare would never be easy, so it is encouraging to me to know that someone like you is standing with me!

Have a blessed rest of the week.

Your brother in Christ,

Response #9:

This is excellent news! And I do promise to continue to keep you and your family on my personal prayer list (as well as on the Ichthys list). Thanks for your prayers too – they are most needful. And thanks for praying for our friend. I haven't heard from him in some time, but I do know that he was struggling with his business and had become the sole support for the entire family (so you might want to send a prayer in that direction too).

In the sure and certain knowledge and confidence of the victory we have in Christ.

Bob L.

Question #10:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Your website is a huge help to me! I've been especially enjoying the email responses on prayer and faith and persistence in prayer. I have been praying for the salvation of a friend and recently started to wonder if it is right (and appropriate) to pray for such a thing. I would assume this would be a very good thing, except for the fact of free will. If God gave us the capacity for free will, am I then taking away the choice, which is my friend's alone to make, to accept Christ's salvation and lordship? If God did not force us to love Him in the beginning, would praying for God to intervene in this decision be against His will and His plan for us.

Thank you so much for your help!

Response #10:

Very good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your encouraging words. It's always a great pleasure to hear that these materials have been helpful to the spiritual growth of my brothers and sisters in Jesus.

As to your question, it bespeaks both a good deal of godly humility and also genuine growth in the Word (so I really appreciate where you are coming from with it). I don't know of any specific scripture against praying for the salvation of others and I think that it is also theologically sound to do so. I certainly pray for the salvation of others all the time. After all, we believers have free will too, and I think it is right and good that we should want what God wants, namely for all to be saved. There are so many things that factor into the plan of God, more than we could ever even imagine, that it really is impossible for us to know in many cases whether or not a person is saved, and it is certainly impossible for us to know whether or not some circumstance or intervention (as in our prayers) might provide the impetus for the person to reconsider and accept Christ. I don't think anyone expected that Saul the persecutor of the Church would ever be saved (not to mention become one of the greatest believers who ever lived). We are not given to know these things now, but it is just possible that one of the Christians he was hauling off to be imprisoned and tortured prayed for him – in an abundance of Christian love – and who can say whether or not this tipped the balance? Finding these things out in eternity is bound to be quite entertaining. I think we will discover that we won't regret a single prayer or a single minute of Bible study or a single thought directed to the Lord; yet if we could regret anything on that wonderful day to come (and that seems unlikely to be possible), we might well regret every deficiency we manifested in these activities (and we all waste plenty of time), including not having prayed for various people at various times, because the effect of our prayers on how God is orchestrating the history that goes on around us is almost unquestionably far more significant that we can imagine.

One thing about the Plan of God – it takes absolutely everything into account. So that God knew then when He created the world whether or not we prayed for some person, and He took our prayer into consideration in initiating creation (as He also did with the fact of our not doing so if we did not). My essential application here is that when in doubt I pray. Even if I am "out of line" in praying for something, if there are good rather than false motives behind the prayer, it is to the glory of God and in the love and wisdom of God that He honors the act even if the precise petition is not always carried out in the way we ask for it.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ " And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?"
Luke 18:1-7 NIV

I promise to say a prayer for your friend's salvation too.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Dear Dr.,

I love your website. It is a lifeline to me...next to the Bible. My Spirit is at peace when I read your words:). This is my problem: I have an adult old son with a Doctorate in Philosophy who teaches college. He attends...and loves...a big Methodist church. They are so very far away from the Bible that it scares me!! I followed last months sermon series on line "Transformed to Change the World". I disagreed with it, but chose not to comment. This month however is a far scarier thing!! "Things I Wish Jesus Said", based on a book by Barbara F. Nixon. Sundays sermon (if 20 minutes is a sermon) was based on chapter 1. "Don't Believe Everything You Read". The pastor was casting aspersions on the validity of Scripture for today's world. Wants parishioners to use quadra-lateral approach: scripture, Christian experience, tradition, reason. Next week is going to be even worse. Jesus speaking: "It's not all about me". How we have elevated Jesus above God as creator. WHAT!!! I feel compelled to say (or write) something now...but am praying about it until an answer comes. My son will be preaching later this month. You have probably come across this issue before. Do children ever listen to their parents? Should I just leave it alone? His dissertation has just been published, so he is feeling pretty good. On the other hand, I only went to 1 year of college. He can way out-talk me...so I do better on paper. Any advice welcome. HELP!! P.S. He knows about your website...but don't think he has ever checked it out. I have a chance to see him in a few months when he comes home. Thank you for listening. With You, in Christ!!,

Response #11:

Very good to hear from you again. I certainly understand your concern. I think it is the very rare dedicated Christian nowadays who does not have at least someone near and dear whose beliefs are disturbing. On the one hand, I suppose we can rejoice that things are not worse than they are. I get plenty of emails about children who are not believers at all and who are involved in all sorts of practices that makes their parents despair of them ever being saved. On the other hand, I certainly do share your concern about these dangerous false beliefs.

As to "tactics", this is always a judgment call, but I think by being circumspect about how you respond you are acting very wisely. When it comes to what to believe, I do think it is fair to say that children are sometimes less likely to go with what their parents say and often more likely to take the opposite view – at least from the point of adolescence until they are completely mature. That age has been pushed back considerably in our society, at least in psychological if not in physical terms. I do not know your son but I do know academia. If he has never actually been "out in the world" (military service, for example), it is probably a good bet that he is still just getting his sea-legs in terms of staking out his personal identity. No amount of "book learning" or intellectual inquiry is going to be a substitute for that. It sounds as if he is in the process of trying to get tenure, so that those pressures at least are likely to bring in a dose of reality over the next several years. It is also often the case with young believers who are in the process of exploring their faith seriously for the first time that the group they cling to first will exercise an undue influence on them – but that does not always last. I have seen many cases of individuals being absolutely "gung ho" for a particular false or semi-false approach (sometimes for no better reason than that they liked the other people involved), who came to see all the defects in time and then to disassociate themselves entirely. If a person has leadership tendencies (as I would imagine your son does if he had the initiative to pursue and complete a Ph.D.), then being a smart sheep in a bad flock is something that is likely not to "take" in the long run.

My general advice in such situations is to maintain loving contact; to try not to be too adversarial about what the loved one is exploring; but also not to allow things one knows are wrong to pass by unanswered without making clear one's own position. Generally speaking, this is something the loved one in question will have to work out on his/her own. And since there is a family dynamic of love mixed with authority (as in any parent-child relationship), arguments often tend not to have much to do with logic and everything to do with personal space, even when conducted on a logical plane for all the world to see.

If you do decide to engage in discussion, there are a couple of places I personally would want to focus on. The first is the primacy of scripture. The essential point in my opinion is that the Bible either really is the Word of God or it is not. If it is not, then where do people who call themselves Christians get any of their information? Is God speaking to them personally? If not, are they relying on tradition? But that is going to be highly suspect because 1) it's clearly not inspired, and 2) there is a tradition for every possible point of view. Once a person says the Bible cannot be counted on, in my view there is little to argue about: we can all believe or not whatever we want to believe or not, and there is really no one and nothing to tell us that we are right or wrong on any subject. The second point is the divinity of Christ. It is absolutely disingenuous to claim that the Bible does not teach Christ's deity (see the link). But even logically, how could He not be, if Christianity in almost any form is true? How could a mere human being be sent from heaven? How could a mere human being be without sin in the first place and live sinlessly thereafter? How could a mere human being do all the things Jesus did? And, most importantly, how could a mere human being be able to stand judgment for the sins of the world? As I say, once a person/group divorces from the discipline of scripture, anything is possible (that is why destroying the Bible's authority is always an early step in all cult indoctrination), so I would take care not to put too much hope into logical arguments if that fundamental principle is at issue.

But please do not lose heart. Remember that the Lord is on your side, and that He does hear your prayers. He knows the end from the beginning, so that even if things look grim now that does not mean that the Lord has not factored all of this into His plan (as indeed He has), working it all out together for good in just the right way and at just the right time. Many of us had to "go over fool hill" as my maternal grandfather was fond of saying; it doesn't mean we stayed there when we realized our mistake. You raised you son in the truth, so you also have his conscience and the Spirit deep in his heart working in your favor. As you have been doing so wisely, I would continue to "hold fire" except at critical points, and try to make the best possible point with the fewest possible words and the least possible emotion at just the right time. It's easier said than done, but when done correctly it's the best approach:

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Proverbs 25:11 NKJV

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:11 NKJV

I will keep you and your son in my prayers.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dear Dr.,

Thank you so so much for your helpful reply! You made me remember that my own serious search for the truth of God didn't start until later in life. The modus operandi you suggested in the last paragraph, has been confirmed by the Spirit and is my normal way of communicating with him. It is one thing to know that the teaching "out there" is way lacking...but it was a real shock to hear it for myself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for Ichthys; all your hard work; being available, and a wonderful representative of our Lord. I really appreciate your prayers...and be assured that you are in mine. With you, in Christ,

Response #12:

You're very welcome.

Yes, I was not as "quick out of the gate" as I should have been either (mid-twenties), but the thing is getting there. As one good friend recently remarked, "I don't care what part of the Body I am as long as I am part of the Body".

I'm hoping to hear good news from you soon (or at least "sooner or later").

Yours in Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dear Dr.,

Well, I saw my son last month and it turned out to be a group gathering (I reread your e-mail from earlier before going). Everything was wonderful and loving...nothing dramatic happened...that is why I haven't e-mailed you sooner. I mostly listened. When the opportunity arose, I interjected some "food for thought". Only the Lord knows where that went. What the Holy Spirit gave me for myself is: The Lord knows who are His; He is in control; I don't need to play the part of "holy spirit junior".

This is what I think is going on with my son. I think he is trying to make the Bible fit his liberal world view instead of taking it literally as the word of God. He bemoans his students not separating their world view from their Christianity...all the while being guilty of the same thing. That is why he won't read anything I recommend or send him.

On a positive note: I did get my sibling to look up your website. I wanted everyone to see the extent and depth of your exegesis, but they were more interested in your credentials. The seed was planted none the less.

Ichthys is a gem so valuable that no price can be put on it!! I thank the Lord for it and for you, it's creator. I appreciate you so very, very much. Thank You.

May the Lord bless you, watch over you, prosper you, and keep you safe...in Jesus name. Amen,

Response #13:

Thanks so much for the update – and for your overly kind words (nobody can do anything "good" without the Spirit – at our best, we are only instruments in God's hands: 1Cor.12:3b).

I'm keeping you in my prayers day by day. Sometimes these things take time. If it is any consolation, I think you are handling this matter just right. People make a mistake in getting too confrontational about these things, especially with loved ones, and most especially with adolescent or adult children. Better not to put them in a position where they feel embarrassed about backing down; better to be planting seeds rather than going to war; better to let them figure things out for themselves (with a little prudent help in "showing the flag" for the Lord at carefully chosen times so that they don't forget that you haven't backed off from the truth). As it says in Proverbs, if we train our kids right, then when they are older "they will not depart from it" (Prov.22:6). But as most of us can witness, when they are still comparatively young, they may take some time "exploring" and need to be knocked around a little by the devil's world before realizing, like the prodigal son, that the home-base of the truth is better by far. That is certainly my personal testimony, and I pray that such will be the case for your boy as well – and sooner rather than later.

Thanks again for all your encouragement – and for spreading the word about this ministry (I greatly appreciate it)!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi,

It's me again. I was just wondering if you could give me a how-to on sharing the Gospel. The church that I am currently attending goes door knocking. I would like to participate, but I don't feel prepared. I'm at that stage where I know what I believe but I can't explain it properly to others. I don't want to get tongue tied in the middle of an important conversation. I'm also afraid of saying something that may not be entirely biblical. It would be very helpful if you could give a condensed version of the process of salvation. You know how some websites have a "how to be saved" page? Maybe something like that.

Thanks,

Response #14:

Good to hear from you. Sharing the gospel is a wonderful thing – with those, that is, who are willing and eager to hear the good news of salvation. Here are a few links where the issue is discussed at Ichthys:

*Evangelism in Principle and Practice

Witnessing

Witnessing 2

True witnessing distinguished from political action

You should know, however, that I am not a "fan" of that sort of door-to-door "search and destroy" evangelism. I will stop short of saying it is out and out wrong (I don't have the license to do that). But I will note that usually when people knock on my door they are JW's or other cult members – or are trying to scam me or sell me something I don't want. And I'm usually not thrilled to have my work disturbed for something I am not interested in, didn't ask for, and feel is being shoved down my throat with ulterior motives.

On the other hand, all of the examples of evangelism in the Bible I can think of are different. They usually involve doing something for someone (apostolic miracles), and they usually are also characterized by the people being evangelized having themselves sought out a fellowship where God is proclaimed. And they often ask about the gospel first before it is given (the Philippian jailer, the Ethiopian eunuch, etc.). Not everyone responds even then, of course (one thinks of many of those in synagogues where Paul spoke), but at least if one holds a rally and people come to it, well, they have of their own free will indicated that they are at least interested in listening. That is not the case for shy people who make the mistake of answering the door at the wrong moment. They are a captive audience against their will. Since salvation is all about our free will responding to God's WILL, I have a difficult time reconciling this method with scripture.

I leave it to your conscience, but will make one further observation. Sometimes when we are reluctant to do something it is not in fact because we are lazy or cowardly or otherwise negatively disposed; sometimes this is the Spirit warning us – and His opinion is more important than ours or anyone else's. Coming to know the difference is to a large degree what spiritual growth and maturity is all about.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #15:

Thanks for your response on my question of whether or not we know we are saved. I guess the reason I even asked that question is because I know I haven't been doing what Christ said like I should be. I don't belong to a church and I don't go out and share the gospel or anything. The fact that I keep avoiding having any conversations with my family and only want to isolate myself everyday makes me paranoid that I'm not saved. But I honestly feel mentally exhausted.

I wasted two years not ever sharing the gospel. The first year, I kept trying to spit the words "I'm a Christian" out of my mouth, but I never did. And when I objected to why I wouldn't do or talk a certain way because it would be sinful, I didn't take the opportunity to say it either. And the second year I feel into a deep depression because a certain even made me realize that I couldn't do what God asked of me, and it made me angry. I only gave my testimony just recently, but to only two people: my parents. But they didn't understand what I was saying. I feel as if I'm trying to take advantage of my salvation, which I know you cant. And since you cant take advantage of God, it makes me feel as if this is just a work-based thing and not a true submission to Christ.

If you have a bunch of people on their way to hell, it would be logical to go out and preach the gospel, but I don't.

Response #15:

Good to hear back from you. Of course we should share our faith – at the right time and when we are being led by the Spirit to do so. However, I do have to say that contemporary evangelicalism places a disproportionate and false emphasis on this. We are Christians because we follow Christ, not because we jam that message down the throats of passers-by who don't want to hear it. We all have different gifts, and not all are gifted in the area of evangelizing. We should all witness when called to do so; but witnessing is not a litmus test of our faith or the quality of our walk.

What the Lord wants from all of is the same in general terms: 1) growing up spiritually (through Bible study, prayer, and, importantly, consistently accessing solid Bible teaching and then believing the truth we are taught); 2) progressing spiritually (passing the tests of life by applying what we have learned and believed); 3) helping others do the same through the ministries Christ calls us to.

Witnessing does not produce growth. Learning the truth and believing it does that. Christians who are courageous and confident in the Lord (and truly so, not just showing off for others) become that way by believing more and more of God's truth (which has to be learned first in order to be believed). Truth is the Spirit's capital and we can only be used of Him when we have made headway in spiritual growth. Once we have grown, we will be tested, and when our faith is refined under pressure and we pass those tests by believing God and His truth more than what we see or hear or feel, we become more useful to Him. At that point, Jesus will lead us into ministry – and not only the "traditional" ministries that most evangelicals think of. There are many types of gifts and many subdivision / different colors and shadings and textures of gifts – and as many different ministries and sorts of ministries as there are Christians.

So I would advise you to commit yourself to a course of spiritual growth. At the right time, the Lord will make clear to you where your gifts lie and what He want you to do with them. It could be witnessing – but it could be a thousand other things (and most likely is something I could never guess).

The Peter Series is a good place to start (and to find out about spiritual growth).

Best wishes for your future walk with the Lord.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

So are you against open air preaching or people going out to share the gospel by giving out gospel tracks?

I've read in Acts how the apostles shared the gospel. There was also Jesus and John the Baptist who did open air preaching. And Jesus did say to go and make disciples.

Response #16:

Hello again,

There is a time and place for everything. I am skeptical about most "revival" operations, and also about most "giving out tracts" operations, because in most cases where I have observed these things the simple message of the gospel has been confused by a combination of legalism and emotionalism. Everyone is called to a ministry by our Lord, and so I cannot judge the individual ministers so involved (and we are all "ministers", servants of Christ); everyone has to examine his/her own approach. What I can say is that a genuine ministry carried out in a wrong way or with a wrong message is problematic, and that getting involved in a type of ministry for which a person has not truly been called and doing so only out of guilt (or pride or any other false motive) is also a problem.

Yes, our Lord told the eleven to make disciples – that was their ministry. And that does "boil down" all Christian service since He adds "by teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt.28:20). In other words, it always comes back to "teaching the truth", and the lion's share of truth is the whole body of doctrine found throughout the gospels and the epistles and the entire Bible. Evangelism is the entry gate to learning truth, but our Lord is commanding here the edification of the Church, that is, the "making of disciples" who are truly "learners" (that is what the word means) of all of God's truth. Mostly this is done after salvation, but modern evangelicalism has put the emphasis on the entry part and mostly ignored the bigger, post-salvation part. In the whole process of hearing about Christ and then learning to follow Christ, there are all manner of ministries which directly or indirectly support the teaching and conveying of the truth. Each of us has some role in that process which our gifts predispose us to; as we grow, Jesus leads us into the particular area of ministry where we are best capable of serving. But to send everyone out into the woods to pass out tracts – which is what modern evangelicalism often does – is a complete misreading of the whole tone and tenor of the entire New Testament, not to mention also our Lord's words in Matthew 28 (and, sadly, as I suggest above is usually done in a wrong way with wrong motives and a less than pure message). This explains a lot about why the era of the Church we live in, Laodicea, is so lukewarm (see the link): not much teaching of the truth, and much wasted effort in secondary avenues instead of concentrating of the main thing: learning and believing and applying all of the Bible's truth.

Yours in the One who is the very truth, the Word of God Himself, our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the email and the links. I have made a list of materials to look for. I do have an old Scofield reference and study Bible (KJV) but quit using it some time ago when I read that it wasn’t a very good study Bible. Everyone has an opinion. I trust yours, so I’ll go back to that along with some of these other materials and my NASB. I do have the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook that has seemed ok.

I appreciate the clarification on sin and forgiveness and I’ve read the links you sent. It’s amazing how we can read something in the Bible and then let someone else convince us that it isn’t what it says—like forgiveness. When reading the Bible I understood it to say that Jesus’ died for all of our sins but I’ve heard many "teachers" say that we were only forgiven for sins BEFORE salvation. I’ve heard people ask about "what if I sin and don’t have time to ask for forgiveness before I die?" (like in a car wreck) and the "teacher" would say, "Well, we can just hope that God’s mercy will cover that." I’m glad the blood of Jesus already did!

One thing that has been bothering me quite a bit since all my "inoculation" reading has been Ezekiel 3:18. To my own shame, I have never led anyone to Christ. Not that I haven’t shared my faith or hide my light under a bushel. I make no bones about being a Christian and will talk to anyone but I don’t go up to anyone and start a conversation about it. I read that everyone I come in contact with and don’t share the gospel, their blood will be on my head according to Ezekiel 3:18. I searched your site and didn’t find anything on it (maybe I wasn’t searching for the right words). I have talked to Christian friends about not leading anyone to Christ and they tell me I may be led people to Him without knowing it. Some plant seed, some water and some harvest. I pray and ask God to use me to be a witness and talk to others and maybe I am helping and just don’t know it. Is there anything on your site that would help with this?

Thanks for your help and patience with me. It’s really nice to have someone who "knows" to talk to and ask questions.

In Him,

Response #17:

You are most welcome – glad to be of some help to you in your efforts to draw closer to our dear Lord Jesus.

As to your question about Ezekiel 3:18, it is good to notice that in the preceding verse our Lord says to Ezekiel "I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel". Now I am sure it is true of me and suppose that it is also true of you that 1) the Lord has not given me personal, audible, verbal instructions such as this, and so I have no claim to be a "watchman" appointed directly by the Lord; 2) the appointment is to minister in this regard to the people of Israel, one which, since I am not Jewish, I am sure I would not be qualified to carry out; and 3) the passage says nothing about leading unbelievers to Christ. The way God talks to Israel is different from the way the New Testament addresses the issue of salvation. That is because Israel was/is God's special people, and it was/is "assumed" that all Israel is Israel, that is, that all are God's people, in their heart as well as in their flesh (so the prophets speak to all Israel the way the apostles speak to the congregations of a local church – as believers, whether good or bad). Therefore all communications assume that bad behavior is the backsliding of believers, and all repentance is the repentance of believers. The gentiles, by way of contrast, are always "assumed" to be unbelievers. In fact, of course, it has always been a matter of individuals exercising their free will as to whether or not they are willing to be saved, whether within Israel or without, but the corporate nature of the Lord's relationship with His special nation is a factor that cannot be overlooked in interpretation of scripture, especially the Old Testament, so that the content of the "watchman's" charge is exactly what we would expect in regards to a backsliding believer (who may be apostatizing or running the risk of the sin unto death), or to one who repents – not to unbelievers who need to hear the gospel.

It is good to notice also that there is not, I believe I am correct in saying, any example of Ezekiel leading anyone to the Lord. Also, when he spoke (at least as recorded in scripture) he did so on the express command of the Lord. We, on the other hand, have the general guidance of scripture rather than personal, direct commands. I never remember reading anything like "If you do not witness to all you meet, you are a bad Christian". Clearly, we should all want to share our faith. Clearly, if we resist doing so on occasions when we are convinced that is right and proper to do so, that is a mistake (and we all make mistakes, we all sin, we all stumble, we all fail, and we will all have more opportunities to "get it right" the next time). It is not a mistake, however, that leads to anyone not being saved – God does not allow anyone not to be saved who really wants to be saved (all of the issues are taken up in BB 4B: Soteriology). Conversely, for all of our witnessing, both of our lives and with our words, it is God the Holy Spirit who is doing the real work, making the truth of what we say understandable to the person we witness to, and it is the person him/herself who makes the decision, not based upon any particular skill or eloquence or persuasiveness or courageousness on our part. We may witness to a thousand people and only lead one to the Lord; on the other hand, we may witness to only one and lead that one to the Lord. This all comes from Him. Our only concern, in this as in all things in life, is to figure out what the right thing to do is and then do it. It's not "what would Jesus do?" (we are not Jesus!), it's "what does Jesus want me to do?" that is the right question to ask.

In all such matters as is often the case, the middle course is the best. On the one hand, we should not be so cowardly and/or so selfish and/or so concerned about ourselves that we fail ever to witness; on the other hand, pushing ourselves on other people who are in truth not the least bit interested in Jesus Christ is not only a complete waste of time but a mistaken approach as well ("pearls before swine" in some cases). We should not berate ourselves out of misplaced guilt-feelings for not witnessing when we should not, nor should we congratulate ourselves for brazenly "sharing" at times and in places and with people when/where/who we have no business doing so.

And we all have our individual gifts. We should not feel bad if we are a hand and our brother/sister is a foot; we should not get down on ourselves because the Body cannot "walk" by relying on us as it can on him/her, but, if we are a hand not a foot, we should be satisfied doing the things that a hand was meant to do – and we most certainly should not spend all our time trying to walk on our hands to the neglect of what the Lord has gifted us to do and means for us to do.

One of the problems here is that modern day evangelicalism has put such a premium on "witnessing" that it has supplanted virtually all other Christian ministry as "the queen" of proper service and the litmus test of whether or not a person is a "good Christian". In fact, sharing the gospel, while along with all other ministries may occasionally present itself as an opportunity for any Christian, is for the most part a particular type of ministry based upon a particular set of gifts. I rejoice in those who have these gifts and this sort of ministry; I do not for that reason feel that I am worthless or that my own gifts and ministry are pointless or second-class because they are not the same. If I did, I would spend all my time "walking on my hands"; I would have to give up this ministry so that I could knock on doors and assail people in the mall – and I surely wouldn't have the time to answer your email. If that were God's will for me and my life, if that were how I was gifted and if that were the particular ministry to which my Lord had called me, well and good – woe to me if I don't follow that guidance. If, however, my job/function in the Body is something else, woe to me if I try to be something I am not – because in doing so I will fail to fulfill my proper potential for what I really am, for what God has made me and for the gifts He has given me. In other words, much of your angst and your feelings of guilt, in my opinion, stem from the pressure you are feeling percolating in from the rotten and lackadaisical culture of the lukewarm church-visible of Laodicea which has put experience, emotion, and excitement over truth, and dedication, and persistence in learning, believing and living the Bible in the cause of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has a ministry for you. I am confident that you will discover your gifts and find it . . . and go on to earn a bountiful reward.

Please also see the links:

Advice on witnessing

Family witnessing

Evangelism in Principle and Practice

False witnessing

Yours in the One who is the Head of the Body, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for the links and the explanation. I had read Ezekiel after I had read that article and it didn’t ring true to me but I’m not a minister, so I took his word for it. Even though I know now that almost everything I read back then was distorted to some degree or just plain false, when something hits a sore spot, it’s hard not to get nervous. I believe the Spirit is telling me what is true and what is not. My problem is I pick and choose what to believe He’s telling me! One of the things I appreciate about your site is that, even though some things might be tough to read/hear, you don’t give guilt trips or beat people down with the Word. I think a huge majority (at least of what I’ve read) use the Word to guilt-trip people and put them under bondage. I admit that I have fallen for this and I’m sure it’s because I hadn’t been walking as close to the Lord as I should have. That’s changed and now that I’m reading the Bible more and studying from your site and your help through these emails, I feel like stuff is breaking off me and I’m able to see again. This fight that we’re in is hard enough without me adding to it with worry and fear!!

So I thank you again for all your help and encouragement. You and your site have been such a blessing to me!

In Him,

Response #18:

You are so very welcome!

I'm thrilled to hear of and observe from your emails the spiritual growth you are exhibiting.

Keep running a good race – therein is great eternal reward.

Your fellow "runner with Christ",

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I hope all is well, its been a while since I last spoke with you and just have some concerns I would like your thoughts on. So basically I have been having problems daily since early this year and I just can't seem to shake these issues. If you could please bear with this long email and give me any sort of advice, it would be much appreciated. On that day, I basically just started having panic attacks after reading this "Christian" website and some of the stuff it was saying and it really just terrified me. I realize now that the website I read was kind of like an extremist website with "Biblical" expectations on life that would acquire perfection which is not at all possible. After that website experience, I began going to many many other websites whenever I had a biblical question and experienced for the first time the varying extreme views of each one depending on their denomination. My background is basically I've been raised in a Christian household and went to a school prior to college. My family has always taught me how important a relationship with Christ is and instilled great moral values in me which I hold firmly to this day. I began going to a public university because I basically was done with private schooling mainly because of the people there, I've experienced hypocritical Christians my whole life and was just tired of being around people who preached to me but led a life that just made me sick. I loved hearing the word of God and being with the few true Christian friends I had but just decided I had enough. I love my current school now by the way and have actually come to know some awesome Christian people which I didn't really expect, God definitely surprised me with that. The problem is that I never really read my Bible outside of Bible class and basically went these past two years without reading it because I was just so sick of the people who would preach at me their legalistic views. It's a terrible excuse but it is the truth. Recently, I had once again become victim of legalism with the result being horrible fear. I was just in this paralyzed state and looking for hours on my phone each day for answers to verses that scared me...verses I forgot the meaning of after two years of no bible classes or anything. I also broke down afterwards and told my parents what I was going through as well as an email to a chaplin and to the pastor at our church. I managed to hide my emotions well but just couldn't. They basically all told me the same thing, that I was being too hard on myself and that being a Christian does not rely on works...I've known that forever but my biggest problem was Revelation 3 and the lukewarm church and how almost every website said that a lack of zeal and good works everyday proved you were a false convert, something i never considered and eventually bought into...I basically for that amount of time was fearful everyday that I wasn't truly a Christian because I didn't match 100% with these peoples definition of what a true Christian is.

After I found your website and talked to you, its helped me a lot but everyday I still have this anxiety that I'm not doing enough (or that I'm doing everything wrong) as a Christian or that I'm not a Christian at all which I know is not true but still think about it anyways...my faith in Christ has never been shaken and I will never not believe in him for my salvation because I know that's the truth. The one good thing brought out of this is I've been reading my bible everyday as God has shown me just how important it is to be armed with his word. So I guess I still have a few questions that run through my head daily that I need settled once and for all because I just can't take this anymore...its driving me insane and I mentally cannot be like this as I have school and family members who depend on me and I just cannot have these doubts clouding my mind as its just become unhealthy. If you could please help me to understand some things, i would greatly appreciate it! Please don't feel the need to answer them in a lot of detail as a simple answer is fine plus I know how busy you must be everyday with emails and your website.

1. What exactly does Lukewarm mean and does "spit you from my mouth" mean some believers will be sent to hell for their lack of zeal or what? I've seen lukewarm is a lack of zeal which is what most agree with although to me that view seems to add legalism like unless you are doing enough good stuff for Christ then you are not a true believer, a view I firmly disagree with. The other view I see is that it is a self righteous view much like the pharisees that makes a person lukewarm, that being on the fence about Christ is what makes a person lukewarm. Basically like a believer is hot for Christ while an unbeliver is cold while a self righteous person who thinks their good works is enough for salvation is lukewarm. I'm just curious as to your interpretation of this message.

2. I've heard that to "count the costs" before becoming a Christian means that one has to understand that they have to give up everything about themselves in order to become a "true" follower of Christ including hobbies, friends, family and basically everything as we are not to be "part of the world". The problem I have is that we are imperfect beings who live in the world. I get that it means to put Christ first and to look to Godly things over earthly desires however, I have hobbies that I love (cooking being my passion), family and friends I love, and things I like to buy/do that aren't necessarily sinful but not necessarily on fire for Christ all the time. I have dreamt of having a successful career and want a family and want to build my "dream house" someday and have prayed that if those things aren't in Gods will that he would show me the way he wants my life to go...I never felt bad about these things as I figured God has been leading my life the way it was supposed to go but realize it could be subject to change. Most preachers seem to believe I must forsake my life and go preach in Africa or something and I just cannot do that...I've led people to Christ but in private as I just can't stand in front of people and preach successfully like some. So could you please explain to me what the whole count the cost/deny yourself thing fit into a Christians life? Are the above examples taken to the extreme?

3. My last question has to do with money. So I know the health/wealth doctrines are not biblical although I do believe God blesses his faithful servants. I honestly want to be successful with my future career and want to be a man in order to be able to provide well for my future family. So I guess what I'm afraid of is that this is a harmful mindset to have. I've heard its sinful to put wealth above everything and also heard that self induced poverty is too. I'm honestly terrified that if I were to become wealthy that just having wealth and/or enjoying it would potentially make me lose my salvation. I honestly deep down don't believe a Christian who becomes wealthy necessarily forfeits their salvation but some of these people have just put seeds of doubt on my mind and I just can't help but wonder if I'm wrong. I know wealth can destroy people and pray God will make me very money conscious if that were to happen...I don't anticipate it but I want God to prepare me for any possible circumstance. Most sites almost make me feel bad for being born into america and living in this culture even though I know I shouldn't apologize for it.

So if you can help me understand any of these concerns, I would greatly appreciate it. These things run through my mind everyday at some point and just runs me into the ground with worry until I ask God to deliver me from it. I just need this to stop and feel like if I express this to someone with great knowledge of the Bible that I can stop doubting my own judgements and go back to living without this fear. I'm willing to apply God's word to my life and heed his direction but don't want to torture myself over things that might not be a problem but troublesome seeds planted in my mind with preachers who have their own agendas/doctrines. I have since vowed to stop looking on websites for info unless its yours or one other one as I feel like you really are trying to interpret Gods word correctly and not a false teacher out for money from their followers...you have probably the only website not run by tithes or donations which assures me you aren't a money hungering wolf in sheep's clothing with a mind controlling agenda against their readers. Granted, I don't agree with everything on your site but everyone interprets certain aspects of the bible differently as nobody thinks alike and that's perfectly fine. So please Dr. Luginbill, any info you could give me would be so greatly appreciated because I want to be a light for God's kingdom and just don't need these daily stumbling blocks. Thanks for your time again,

Response #19:

Good to hear from you again. I think that the Lord is working something in your life. These false teaching sites to which you have been drawn may compared to being inoculated for small pox – it may sting a bit and you may have a reaction and be a little "ill" for a short span, but the experience is far superior to having contracted the actual disease. As you are growing, you are not about to be pulled into these cults entirely (the disease), but you are having a small reaction to the inoculation (your present spiritual turbulence in reaction). So please make sure to drink plenty of fluids (the water of the Word of God) from a healthy source (you are very welcome here at Ichthys).

By way of overview, let me just say that it is the easiest thing in the world for any crank to set himself up as a preacher or a teacher; that can be done with no real knowledge of the Bible, with no knowledge of the original languages, with no background in systematic theology or ancient history, with no particular mastery of the Bible itself or its truths, without the gift of pastor/teacher – and without even being a believer. It is the job of every individual Christian to "vote with their feet" and steer clear of all false sources, of all "wolves in sheep's clothing", judging these cults and cult-like individuals and groups "by their fruit", and seeking instead a good source of the truth. All who keep "knocking" for answers in this quest are always answered by the Lord. He may require a little persistence, but that is merely to demonstrate that the desire is real as well as to temper and train and strengthen faith. No one can "go it alone" or "do it alone". We are one Body and we all need every other part. As I say, you are welcome at Ichthys, and this ministry is designed to provide spiritual nutrition in every biblical "food group" (as well as responding to and addressing individual concerns) – but if not this ministry, the best approach is to find a ministry where the Word of God is actually being taught in a substantive and orthodox way as the main objective, and to stick with that source, once it has been tasted and tested to make sure it is both good and sufficient. The "Smorgasbord" technique always results in severe spiritual "indigestion" and more often than not serious "food poisoning" as well (as you seem to be experiencing)

As to your specific questions:

1) Yes, you have this right. We are here to choose. Christ is describing Himself in this passage as impatient with those who refuse to make use of the opportunity of life to make the choices He has put them here to make. These people are believers, but they are sitting on their hands and are not making spiritual progress. We are here to grow, progress in our walk with Christ, and to help others do likewise. Those are the three areas of Christian spiritual advance, and making progress in them requires learning/believing the truth (1), applying it ever more diligently to our lives so as to be able to and so to actually pass the tests that the Lord sends our way (2), and then, once we have achieved spiritual maturity, to discover and to embrace the specific ministries Jesus has for us individually, and carry them out to the best of our ability and gifts for His glory and the edification of His Church (3). This is the basis for our Christian rewards (see the link). As to Laodicea, that is the era of the Church we are currently in, the last one before the impending Tribulation (please see the link for all the details you ask about), and lukewarmness about the process of growth, progress and production is its salient characteristic. Being marginal and motionless as a Christian is very dangerous. Not only does it displease the Lord, but it is also then only a short step away from apostasy. If we are not going forward, we need to take care lest we slip backward, and for those who, like most Christians of this time, are not going anywhere and not interested in going anywhere, it is very easy for them to lose faith entirely when and if difficult troubles come. These will certainly come during the Tribulation when as a result one third of this generation will fall from grace in the Great Apostasy (see the link). This is what being "about to be spit out" means: such Christians are not doing what Christ requires, and in the process they are putting themselves in a very dangerous place because they have sunk no foundations for their faith:

And those [whose seed of faith fell] on the rock do receive the Word with joy when they hear it. However these [types] have no root [to their faith]. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they apostatize (aphistantai).
Luke 8:13

No one is "spit out" while they yet believe; but if a person is only just barely even warm, they are very close to being cold (unbelief), and on the point of being "spit out", should they lose faith "in time of testing" and stop believing in Christ (please see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

2) Being a Christian is not easy, and we cannot know what the final "cost" to us will be. We do know that we will be challenged and tested and attacked in ways that non-Christians will never be. We do know that to actually respond to Christ the way He wants us to respond will require that we put quite a lot into our Christian life. One cannot grow up without the truth of the scriptures; so that requires that we learn and read the Bible, and that we find a good teaching ministry and devote ourselves to learning – and believing (else we only have knowledge and not the epi-gnosis which alone can be used by the Spirit; see the link) – and this will entail a good deal of time and effort that unbelievers find foolish; that requires that once we know what we should do that we start doing it, that we start really walking with Jesus, with result that we start doing many things and stop doing many things the avoiding of which seems very odd to the world, and that will cost us in time, effort and, to the world's eyes, lost opportunities and lost resources – and we will be tested and tried to refine our faith (never pleasant at the time and sometimes long lasting and quite difficult – even though we can be joyous about it in the love of Jesus); that requires that we finally get to the place of spiritual maturity and begin helping others do what we have done, and more time, effort, and all manner sacrifice will be necessary to do a good job in the ministry Christ has chosen for us.

So yes, there is quite a cost in "doing it the right way". Of course, there are many who will do virtually none of the above and still maintain their faith and still make it safe to "heaven home". Doing nothing (or close to nothing), however, is a) not spiritually safe (for reasons discussed above); b) not rewarded in eternity, and c) not what Christ wants of us. For those reasons, especially the latter, our Lord puts things in this absolute way. "Do you really want to be a Christian? Then act like one and do your job! If you're not willing, then think about that before you make the commitment!" So while it is certainly true that the last Christian in line at Christ's judgment seat to receive the least of all rewards will be infinitely more happy for all eternity than anyone in the lake of fire, that is not the appeal which Christ uses: He encourages us to think of perfection as the standard for which we should shoot – which it is.

We are not perfect, and the fact that in the New Jerusalem there are four general levels of rewards, and thirteen essential categories (with everyone differentiated within them) is certainly proof that all believers respond to this challenge from our Lord in different ways. What these words do not mean, however, is that only perfection results in salvation. If that were true, then no one would be saved, let alone rewarded (e.g., Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:6-10). The fact that none of these false teachers and cult-like groups can give a specific and understandable definition of what the "necessary perfection" they individually proclaim is, proves beyond any doubt that there is no such attainable standard. And it is not for no reason that such groups and individuals are reluctant to "spell out" what it is they are talking about precisely: not only because they don't have it (since they are making all this up independent of the Bible) but also the better to manipulate and control those who come to them. As long as the standard is vague, then that standard is the hands of the leadership; that is to say, it is whatever the leadership hints at at any given time. Since Christians tend to be good, introspective people, and since we are all aware that we are not, never have been, and never will be perfect, as a result, the only way for us to "attain the secret standard" is to be good followers of the cult leadership and do whatever they say (like signing over our houses to them). This is classic cult behavior, and, after you have been sufficiently inoculated, you will learn to dismiss such things out of hand; and after you learn the biblical principles which oppose these canards, you will be able to refute them confidently as well (a couple of links: "Cult Characteristics" and "Cults and Christianity III").

3) Money is a part of life. As Christians, we eat food, even though we know that our true food and drink are, symbolically speaking, the body and blood of Christ; but we still do have physical bodies and so still do require physical food as long as the Lord leaves us here on earth. That is to say, we know well that the spiritual is what counts, not the material. We are told that we cannot serve God and Mammon – not that we are to have nothing to do with money (that is impossible); we are told that the love of money is at the root of all manner of evils – not that we should try living in this world without it (that is impossible). We are responsible to work, to earn a living, to support ourselves so as not to be a burden to others, to support those who are dependent upon us. All this requires gaining and managing and spending money. It is very easy to tell if someone loves money more than Christ or is serving material ends rather than Christ. If a Christian has set him/herself to grow, progress and minister as the number one set of goals in their life, then money will play a subordinate role in all this; if a person is striving to get rich with only an occasional "nod to God", that is a problem and a real spiritual vulnerability – for a Christian. God is not "stingy" – far from it! He does not begrudge us some recreation and success in the worldly professions we pursue as part of an honorable Christian life. Far from it! Problems only arise if we put gain, pleasure, and worldly success in first place, and then place Him in second – or third or fourth or fifth or, truth be told, no place at all!

The greatest believers had a love for the Lord that resulted in all manner of sacrifice that is beyond the power of all but the most exceptional Christians (cf. Paul's numerous testimonies to his sufferings; see the link). But all Christians who, by the sacrifices they do make in spiritual growth, progress and production, accomplish what the Lord has set us here to do, will, even so, earn the three crowns and be ushered into the told echelons of the Church of Christ on that glorious day to come (though they fall short of, e.g., Paul's sacrifices). And more good news here: God does not expect us to go from not knowing how to walk to running a Marathon. He works with us, and will take us just as far as we are able to go, which is, just as far as we are willing to go. It is a mistake and a stumbling-block to imagine that unless we set the all-time world record for the Marathon the first time we get up on our feet that we are lousy runners – we can still start jogging and still get somewhere if we but endeavor to do so. And the worst thing is to listen to those who say that because we are not perfect runners that it is just the same as if we weren't running at all. Here are some links: "Cast thy bread upon the waters", "Don't be greedy" and "the biblical attitude to finance".

Thanks for your good words. I do hope you find the above helpful. You are welcome here at Ichthys anytime, and do feel free to write back.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for even more of your clarifications for me! I honestly feel dumb even having to ask you these things as what you are saying is exactly what I already thought, been taught, and believed in. I think the main problem I have is I am way too hard on myself already and when I was first introduced to Lordship Salvation a few months ago (I seriously haven't heard the term until I went to a few websites which began this whole thing) it just made my self criticism even worse thus making me constantly think about every decision/action I do in a very unhealthy and legalistic way like my salvation depended on it...I realize this is wrong but for some reason it just takes me longer I guess to get it through my brain that I wasn't wrong, these websites are wrong! I clearly am not perfect just like everyone else and these people act like they are the model Christian and it just makes me sick! If I hadn't of found your website, I don't know what I would have done! Everyday is getting better and better but I just want to return back to the I know (I feel God has actually given me a few things that have ultimately made me better from all this) because I feel like everyone I know and love sees a difference in me (in a bad way) and I just don't like it...I've never been through anything this emotionally/mentally draining. If you could pray for me and this whole situation I'm in, I would greatly appreciate it! I also just started my classes this week at my university and I can already tell its going to be hard...especially because 4 out of 5 of my professors have made it clear that they're atheists and that Christianity is stupid. Something me and a few of my classmates are irritated about...this just makes this situation that much harder for me plus, I can't help but feel bad for them. Anyways, sorry to ramble! If you could just remember me in your prayers Dr. Luginbill, I would ever so much appreciate it! Its time for me to go back to being grace focused, not sin focused!

In Christ,

Response #20:

Thanks for the very reasonable email.

I will say a prayer for you.

I am glad that you have found this website helpful. I would want to stress that the solution to all these sorts of issues is, in the long run (and, come to think of it, in the short run too), spiritual growth which in turn requires careful attention to scripture and to solid and sound Bible teaching. To that end, you are always welcome at Ichthys. Here are a couple of links that may be helpful in regard to the particular heresy which was troubling you:

Lordship salvation I

Lordship salvation II

As to college, well, professors often know nothing of important substance beyond their discipline, and the nature of academia today attracts and fosters atheism. But there are some of us who are indeed Christians. I would try to separate the craft from the personality. I would want a dentist who knew what he/she was doing, regardless of spiritual state – but I wouldn't allow my mood, let alone my spirituality, to be the least bit affected if the person were an atheist.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Robert,

How are things going for you? Hope your holiday season was peaceful and pleasant and that you enjoyed your time off!

I've been making more of an attempt to get in touch with my Christians friends here in the north-country lately. It's amazing, one guy I used to hang out with was a hard core atheist, a nice guy but definitely not someone I ever thought would find Christ. Now, he's a devoted Christian and because of that, he's been able to quit drinking, smoking and has a nice family; not to mention some peace of mind.

Nothing good ever comes from atheism does it? When you look at the horrific things that happened in the 20th century, the Holocaust, the horrible things that happened in the name of communism, it becomes quite apparent that without God, we are a complete mess. When we remove Christ from society as people, it's almost as if we open a gateway to hell.

I have a question for you, how are we (as Christians) supposed to treat people of other faiths, mainly Muslims? Are we supposed to be friendly with them and attempt to convert them, or do we just ignore them? Living in up here, I come across dozens every single week. The women don't speak to me but the men seem very friendly, it's almost difficult not to like them. When I start thinking about their faith though, I generally get disgusted and don't want to be around them.

I don't have these types of issues with people of other faiths, Jews or even atheists. Can I assume that we should simply pray for Muslims and let God take care of the rest?

Response #21:

Good to hear from you. I hope you are doing well. I pray for your health and for your dad's health and salvation. Things continue in crisis mode here, but God is faithful and I wait patiently for His deliverance – your prayers are very much appreciated.

As to your question, it is always a difficult question as to when to evangelize. In contemporary Christianity, most people seem to go to one extreme or another. There are some who "attack" whenever they meet almost anyone, even those who really are saved but express it in different vocabulary; often these types have some esoteric understanding of salvation that involves "Lordship" or "water-baptism" or "saying the sinner's prayer" (but not always). Then there are those who would never give the gospel to anyone else under almost any circumstance. As with many things biblical, the middle-ground is the correct place to be in my opinion. For while it is true that if a person has the gift and a specific ministry of evangelism then erring on the side of expression is probably a good thing (and there may be times and circumstances when erring on the side of caution is a good thing – as in places like Saudi Arabia where it is capital crime), for most people in most instances motivation plus discretion is the best stance. We should want everyone to be saved; but we should understand that most will not be out of their own personal choice. We should be ever willing to share our faith in Jesus Christ; but we should understand that just because it is important to us – and existentially more important than anything else in fact – does not mean that others will see it that way. We should take our opportunities to give the gospel seriously and joyously; but we should understand that the Plan of God has taken all things in hand and no will ever be lost for lack of information. In short, we should be ready and willing to give the gospel; but we should be realistic and prudent in our "launching" of this most powerful missile. The gospel is the pearl beyond price; but to throw it before swine is not only a waste but can also be dangerous to do. My advice is always to be ready, and always to be willing to pray for those about whom we are concerned. In my experience and observation, God does honor the courage of those who are willing to put themselves out there to share His truth. And it is really often not a terribly difficult problem to determine whether or not a person is likely to be responsive to that truth. When the Spirit has put it into someone's heart to seek God, the response of faith doesn't have to be dragged out with kicking and screaming. If those are the "vibes" coming from the person in question, it's probably either the wrong person or the wrong time.

Still, you are right to be concerned about the issue. We all have a tendency to fall into a comfort zone of "same old thing all the time"; now if our "same old thing all the time" is the right thing, that is fine. But it is at least good to test and check ourselves from time to time – with careful consultation of the scripture – to make sure we are doing all we ought to do in pursuing the ministries to which we have been called. We certainly don't want to let the lack of doing something that perhaps we might not be meant to do anyway throw us into an attitude of embracing anything wrong (this happens quite a bit among the spiritually immature who are very vulnerable to all sorts of emotional appeals and pressures), but we also do want to make maximum use of the spiritual opportunities God has given us.

I'm not sure what particular gift the Lord has given you, or what particular ministry He has or will be calling you to do, but if this is intriguing to you, it might be worth praying about and exploring. Here are some links I have on the topic:

True witnessing vs. political action

Witnessing and timing

Ichthys and the Contemporary Christian Experience

Evangelism in Principle and Practice

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

 

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