My greatest flaw in apologetics is going straight to the "this is how sausage is made!" explanation. Here's what I mean.
Atheist: Christians say believe in Christ or you'll go to Hell. Muslims say believe in Allah or you'll go to Hell. Which one should I trust? Hmmm?
Christian: There is a string of evidence suggesting the verity of Christianity. For instance, Christianity has a direct connection to the Old Testament, which is corroborated by Isaiah's predictive prophecy as verified by history. By observing that Isaiah predicted .
Notice that the Christian is basically describing to the atheist how sausage is made. He's going straight into the internal details and the atheist does not care about internalities. In fact, internalities gross out most people...like finding out how sausage is made.
When I was contemplating this ministry during seminary, long before I
was ever able to launch it (and long before there was even an internet),
I had the idea that there would be a limited number of questions and
that once I'd answered them the answers could be recycled. But I found
out, of course, that it is very rare for two questions ever to be the
same, even when they have to do with the exact same, precise theological
topic. Important too is the way people ask questions – which gives me
some idea of what is really exercising them and how they need to be
communicated with to "get it". All people are different; for that reason
there can never be a stock evangelism approach (though the gospel never
changes) or a stock apologetic approach (though we are defending and
explaining the exact same approach either way). In terms of our example,
I would approach a snotty person differently from a genuine seeker, e.g.
And of course really one cannot generalize. The Spirit will help you to
figure out just how to approach each situation. Just remember: it's not
about you and how you feel or are tempted to react to the person you're
attempted to help – or the people under this person's sway you're
attempting to reach; rather, it's all about Jesus Christ and the
salvation and spiritual growth of those for whom He died.
This is not to say that someone like yourself who is by nature direct and "guileless" should try to alter his/her personality; it does mean that adapting one's gifts and purpose to the objective is key. The process is meaningless unless the goal is clear and clearly helped by the process.
Here are some links:
Apologetics, Legalism, Cults and Philosophy
Atheism and Apologetics
Atheism and Gnosticism: Denying the Truth about God
Atheism: Putting Truth to Death
Apologetics and alternative points of view
Apologetics and the Trinity
Proving the existence of God
Subject index (see under "Apologetics")
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
You wrote: "All people are different; for that reason there can never be
a stock evangelism approach (though the gospel never changes) or a stock
apologetic approach (though we are defending and explaining the exact
same approach either way)."
Which is a very blessed thing, in my opinion. There are also flaws I find in the arguments of apologists somewhat often. For instance, a popular argument is the one-in-a-gajillion argument which goes along the lines of "the probability of all the ingredients in life forming a single cell is one in a gajillion!" While the mathematics is sound and correct, the truth is that the probability of molecules forming together into a cell is exactly zero.
Remember my statement of metalevels in my earlier email? Abiogenesis is going from object (molecules) to subject (cell), which is not possible without invoking a higher metalevel.
The Precambrian explosion is going from subject (cells/biological organism) to subgroup (genera), which again is impossible without invoking a higher metalevel.
The evolution of language in Homo sapiens is going from a subgroup (speech ability) to a language (map from internal state to external state).
All of these are impossible. It's not one-in-a-gajillion. It's zero-in-a-gajillion. It is 100%, COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE, to advance to a higher metalevel spontaneously. Stellar evolution (turning hydrogen into gold via supernova) is completely possible, because it's object to object. No metalevel leap is needed. Going from molecules to living cell is futile and impossible.
I'm not sure if it is God's will for me to do apologetics. I don't care about the number of people's minds I change, but it is discouraging because none of the arguments I make succeed in shutting people up and I often feel more foolish coming out of it than I do going into it.
I get frustrated with folks who don't seem willing to listen too – and I
do have my limits with them (we've discussed this before), but there are
plenty of cases of people who are grateful for the help.
Suggestion: brainstorm about an apologetics approach / ministry that is not just confrontational but also helps others who need support in confronting lies (i.e., people who may be listening to the conversation rather than being in it). I think you will find that the encouragement and gratitude of those few who are genuinely helped is worth more than enough to put up with the flak of a great number who are not really desirous of being helped.
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Thank you for your very kind words and encouragement.
I dabbled in apologetics for a while between 2012 and 2016 when I was trying to prove that Christians were smart too. I am fairly certain that it is not exactly where God wants me. I found it just too difficult to keep my head when I dealt with hardcore irreligious apologists. I personally have little aptitude for all the science and math and it is the language that they speak. But believers or self-professed Christians are another matter. I can talk to them using the Bible and a small understanding of the science involved in the arguments that hold them captive.
The young man in this case is also a believer. He is one of those that I am always concerned about. Just like me and the other person I mentioned he seems to try to prove to the unbelieving that Christians are not dumb and that our Faith is entirely reasonable. But I have seen firsthand what that usually does to our own personal Faith especially when we haven't been properly taught the Scriptures. We can be broken down subtly until our Faith is little more than a sheet or a badge we wear to try to force a distinction between ourselves and the people we debate.
The young man himself expressed a skepticism about the teachings of the Bible and is trying to use science to circumvent the issues of interpretation concerning doctrines of the Bible. That has troubled me for a while so I tried to have a conversation about it with him. He's a very intelligent man but may not be very well taught in the Scriptures. I shared Ichthys with him about a couple of months or more ago but I don't think he has taken the time to study much on it. I think that he is probably doing the same thing I did: picking up material all over the place and trying - and failing - to synthesize his own theology from all of it.
I try to avoid full apologetics. But I want to make sure that I use the teachings of the Bible right, that, in this case, I have represented the Bible's teachings correctly in admonishing a fellow believer whose faith is troubled by questions and arguments of pseudo-science. That was why I asked you to look at it, sir.
For example, am I right that the Roman Catholics have been attacking the Bible since about the 4th century? I think that they have been. But I'm not sure if I'm overstating their reaction to it from around that time.
For another example, I said that we can build technologies based on our scientific discoveries to make our journey through this world bearable. Is that an allowable statement? Does it mislead any Christian into overestimating the importance and use of science and technology in this world?
So our friend is an apologist. I think you mentioned it before. Perhaps the two of them should talk. It may help him to speak with someone else who speaks the language he may prefer.
Thank you very much, sir, for taking the time to go through the discussion.
Yours in our precious Lord Jesus Christ
You're welcome, my friend.
I have no problem with either of your two statements; I will point out that the first is essentially an interpretation of history (from a correct, spiritual perspective) and that the second is an application of the truth to life. Neither one is Bible teaching, per se. So I still see this all as apologetics, merely directed towards believers who need guidance rather than toward unbelievers who need salvation. There are plenty in both camps, so plenty of work to do for all so gifted and so inclined. As I say, it's not my personal "cup of tea", and I only ever get into such matters when directly questioned or confronted in the course of doing this ministry (and here too I have my limits, only continuing discussion as long as there seems to be a chance that it may be profitable in the end).
So keep up the good work, my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I have got to 1 Corinthians in my daily Bible reading. As I told you, I
have been trying to follow a derivation of your own pattern - I read a
bit from the epistles, a bit from the Gospels, a bit from Genesis, a bit
from Psalms and a bit from Isaiah in that order. I enjoy it, by the way.
I only have this trouble that it takes plenty of time and I haven't
worked out how to savor it properly. I like to try to pay close
attention to what I read now and note things that I hadn't noticed
before but I haven't worked out how to do that yet under the conditions
I am currently living in. I will keep trying however.
Sir, how does the concept of apologetics work with 1 Corinthians 1-2?
On Bible reading, I think your new approach is very good. When you say
that "present circumstances" make things difficult, my advice is to do
your best and enjoy the opportunity as much as you can. In my experience
and observation, "circumstances" in this world never get truly "better"
– they only get "different". As long as we are in this world our time is
going to be under pressure and our mental attitudes are also going to be
under pressure. Only the nature and the intensity of the pressure
changes. And being human, moreover, if we ever do experience an
interlude of "good circumstances", we are very likely not to use the
opportunity they offer to do as well as we have done when they were "not
so good". The best approach is to see things in a "one day at a time"
mindset, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil
(Eph.5:15-16; Col.4:5; cf. Matt.6:34).
1st Corinthians chapter one has to do with Paul's dismantling of the Corinthian church's penchant for false divisions by means of explaining that we Christians are, generally speaking, "nothing" in the world's terms – but God sees things differently (so that choosing sides by human standards is antithetical to what He wants); chapter two has to do with epistemology and explains how it is that we learn the truth through the help of the Holy Spirit. I don't see any of this having to do with apologetics, so perhaps you could rephrase your question?
Thank you for reminding me again about how the circumstances of this world
really are. I was getting sidetracked again into that pattern of thinking that
once I am able to do this or that or have this or that changed, then I can do so
much better. But it is true in my own experience as well that I don't typically
fare better in "better" circumstances. So I am working now to take as full
advantage of what opportunities are given to me each day as I can. I am
beginning to think that what I need to do with each day is grow increasingly
discerning of what opportunities are available to me in the day to pursue
spiritual growth and eventually ministry and take advantage of them.
Back when I was debating atheists et al, I was always troubled how easy it was to skew toward their style of thinking in order to defend the Faith. I watched a number of believers progressively lose their Faith as they either engaged or watched the "show". The goal of the Christian apologetic seemed to me then to be to show that the Christian Faith is entirely reasonable and not stupid. But then in light of 1 Corinthians 1-3, it seems that such a thing is probably not possible to accomplish without somehow damaging the Faith. It is after all Faith which means Trust especially where one does not easily see the sense of it. The young man about whom I have told you currently believes that the writers of the Bible introduced their biases in what they wrote so that, for example, they spoke of a flat earth which science later proved untrue. Another, who at one time was my hero with his balance of reason and Faith, said just last week, "...truth is [not] dependent on the Bible, i.e., something is not true merely because it is in the Bible." He was once a very steady, immovable believer in biblical inerrancy. And I don't think that he meant that the Bible also gives accurate reports of history including what people said that may have been untrue. He currently holds that evolution is true on the strength of arguments about Genesis that are not clear to me yet. The more I have watched Christian apologists over the past half decade, the more I have found them increasingly seduced by so-called reason. And I wondered if perhaps that part of 1 Corinthians was warning us to be wary of things like that.
I myself experienced a reversal of attitudes in the matter. While I always believed that the Bible makes no mistakes nor contradicts itself, I did believe that by mere reason and science one could still attain to biblical truth so I considered science an ally, even if mostly an unconscious one, of the Bible. So if you followed the science, you would still arrive at what the Bible already records as true.
But now I believe firmly that the Bible can neither be proved nor disproved by science. Science when properly done will begin with any statements that Bible makes about the physical world as axioms and proceed from there. It is true that science does end up confirming that the Bible is true but given the arrogance and rebellion in the heart of men, challenging the Bible's statements could lead to serious damage to one's faith in the pursuit of reason and science that may not be undone in one's lifetime.
This was why I pulled back from apologetics as I perceived it then. I may debate science as science without reference to the Bible. But I do not like to involve myself in discussions that have to do with proving the veracity of the Scriptures in order to satisfy the objections of false science and false logic. The Truth of the Bible seems to me to be discerned purely spiritually so beyond just what the senses can detect in material creation, science cannot do anything. I cannot persuade an atheist of the existence of God. It is something that he knows within his spirit as the unavoidable explanation of the world around him. My interference in the dialogue between his spirit and natural creation does not appear to me to do any good unless I am speaking to him with the Bible. And if he does not care about the Bible, then what can I say him? Only the Truth of the Bible can help him. Science does him no good unless it can instruct him in humility which of course I cannot help him with either without the Bible.
So, I am always concerned that those of us who go to engage to show the reasonableness of our Faith need to be careful to stick with the Bible as their authority. The ease with which science and seeming intellectualism seduces seems to me to be a serious warning to all who want to get in there. I know that Peter said that we should always be ready to give a good answer for our Faith but I am not sure that that means that we should be ready to reconcile the Scriptures to whatever our contemporaries regard as Truth.
On apologetics, I certainly agree with your perspective. You can't "prove it" when it comes to matters that demand faith – and that is the entire point. God could easily "prove it" to anyone He wished, but to do so would essentially take away their free will. All unbelievers will, at the last judgment, have no doubt about the truth that there is a God and that He is all powerful, just and righteous – but that will just be an acknowledgment of facts they can no longer deny because of the circumstances. I often call faith "free will faith" because our exercise of belief in Jesus Christ and all of His truths is a function of will: we CHOOSE to believe, even though our eyes and ears and science may tell us we are wrong. We listen instead to the Holy Spirit. That is what faith is all about. Trusting the Lord when we cannot, in fact, "prove it" to the satisfaction of the secular world and empirical methodologies. If I felt called to apologetics I think my method would rather be one of pointing out the hypocrisies and inconsistencies and ignorance of science rather that trying to demonstrate empirically that the Bible is the truth. Anyone who is truly seeking God will find out this latter point soon enough.
Lets fine tune this - no hurry - Lets just create something great to at least stir the non-Christian:
I believe in one God -and I believe he created everything in this world including man and from man God created women.
I believe that he had a son who is named Jesus with the sole purpose to die for all of us because of our sinful nature.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
I believe that God gives us the Holy Spirit to grow His kingdom.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. - Acts 1:8
The Bible was written by 40 writers, over a period of 1,600 years, in 66 books. And the great theme from one end of the Bible to the other is redemption—God’s love for the human race and God redeeming man and bringing man back to Himself after man had rebelled against God. That’s what the Bible is all about.
We ought to believe the Bible because the Bible is the word of God, but convincing people that it is the word of God isn't easy. If we believe what's contained in the Bible, then we should believe in the Bible.
The truth of the Bible is obvious to anyone willing to fairly investigate it. The Bible is uniquely self-consistent and extraordinarily authentic. It has changed the lives of millions of people who have placed their faith in Christ. It has been confirmed countless times by archaeology and other sciences.
We can talk about the individual statements here to whatever degree you
wish (they are fine). So when you were mentioning 1st Peter 3:15 and
mentioning wanting "a smooth delivery", you were talking about
apologetics and witnessing/evangelizing. I am not specially gifted in
either of these two areas (it's not what this ministry is about).
Certainly, every Christian should be willing and desirous of sharing
Christ, and everyone of us ought to be able to "to give a defense to
everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with
meekness and fear" (NKJV). But in my experience and observation, while
specific preparation is not to be dismissed, the bigger part of this is
personal spiritual growth and progress in one's walk with Jesus Christ.
To use an analogy, having a strategy thought out ahead of time for how
one is planning to run a race is not a worthless thing to do, but
training day in and day out for that race is infinitely more important.
And while plans almost always have to be altered to greater or lesser
degree when they confront actually circumstances, no one ever regrets
the true day by day preparation that any plan must ultimately be based
upon. That is true in athletics, that is true in military situations,
and it's certainly also true in the Christian life. A believer who is
genuinely spiritually mature and who has been trained up by the Lord in
serious testing is going to be a better witness, a better personal
evangelist, and a better apologist – even without a specific "canned
plan" – than someone who has got the (seemingly) perfect plan but who is
not up on the same spiritual level. As in military situations, in truth
"the battle is the Lord's" (1Sam.17:47), and He is the One who gives
victory . . . to those who have learned to trust ever more fully in Him.
Moreover, this passage, 1st Peter 3:15, is really all about giving a defense when one is being persecuted for one's faith (that is the context). So this really has more to do with companion passages in the gospels where the Lord tells us that during the Tribulation when we are hauled in front of kangaroo courts the Spirit will tell us how to respond. So in our context, the "readiness" is more that of the heart than the mind, which is to say we are being encouraged by Peter not to be fearful when persecuted in regard to letting anyone interested know that the reason we are standing firm is because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Such responses should be given with "meekness and respect" too, so that is really the only guidance Peter gives us about how to handle ourselves in such situations. But the point is that rather than being about discretionary witnessing in good times, this passage is about "us", how we are to comport ourselves in our verbal witness to others when we are suffering for Christ and they wish to know how it is that we are able to bear up under the pressure. We will bear up well if we are spiritually prepared; we will witness well if we are in the habit of listening to the Spirit's guidance.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Sorry for not having emailed in such a long period of time, but I'm always grateful for the wonderful things and work you have been doing in your ministry ichthys. I have a few questions or rather they might in fact relate to one per se. Last week I met up with this certain gentlemen who was preaching the "word of God" and so patiently I listened to him until he finished up his preaching surprisingly he asked those who would want to lay their lives on Christ and become born again and there was a recitation of the corporate prayer among the cadres present and so they prayed and received Christ "according to the man".
But amongst all he had said there were few interesting things that piqued my interest and I thought you might she'd some light on them, he said " Jesus Christ was born again" in order to become Christ and that he was declared son by his Heavenly Father.
(Acts 13: 33)
Then he talked about Sonship and different kinds of Sonship at spiritual level,
although much of his audience didn't understand him, I thought he was preaching
about spiritual growth in one single sitting of which I think was and is
impossible to achieve in one lesson or "10 points sermon"
1) Is there such a thing as Jesus being born again?
2) The man mentioned that not all who are born again are sons of God so my concern lays on the Sonship, is it a special privilege or position spiritually?
ASV Romans 8:14
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
The man labored to differentiate between the three kinds of sonship.
3) Concerning spiritual gifts doc you place much emphasis on the gift of teaching the word, are there also other spiritual gifts currently functioning for the body of Christ? Or are they irrelevant because of the benefit of the completed bible? I am asking since you're an expert in this particular dimension and area 1 Cor 14:1. What other spiritual gifts currently are in operational truthfully speaking. Are we living at such at time when now we see things clearly as Christ sees them? Has the Bible completed our faith and hope that what's spoken in " 1 Corinthians 13:6-13 (ASV) is taken to be final"?
6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth;
7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Love never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall be done away; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall be done away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;
10 but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.
13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
4) Another one more question is this, what's more important to go after, spiritual growth or spiritual gifts? Looking at the state at with this age is operating at, there seems to be more focus with spiritual gifts, prophecy, healing, working miracles, etc than spiritual growth.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (ASV)
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, [divers] kinds of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all [workers of] miracles?
30 have all gifts of healings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But desire earnestly the greater gifts. And moreover a most excellent way show I unto you."
After this lonely walk I have taken, while confident inside myself that I know the truth many of the times I'm forced to engage in spiritual controversies and doctrinal issues. I have read nearly half way through all your writings, I do study my bibles daily and most frequently these days, I'm confronted with my strange behaviour of separating myself from group's "visible church" or any religious groups but I fear all the time I end up "throwing stones" touching many topics in an attempt to share the word of God. Once I engage or endeavor to teach I end up discovering that to most people I attempt to teach, they lack basic biblical principles of which it becomes more laborious to explain a complex but simple question presented before me.
"Jude 3-4 (ASV)
3 Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in privily, [even] they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
What's the best approach to download the word of God to these people? Three
quarters of the people I have talked with including pastors, bible teachers and
evangelists have no idea about Christology, angelology, of which most called
strange and odd doctrine, biblical anthropology, the "study of man", biblical
eschatology, and most of the things explained on your site. I'm frequently being
invited to share at different forums the word of God and teach the Bible but I'm
afraid or reluctant to respond or do so.
Question: Is it ideal for me to take up this task? On a number of occasions I'm being invited to teach the word of God but I'm having troubles preparing what to teach since the audience has different ages, statuses and knowledge.
Help me my isolation and lone walk has invited attention instead of the other way round!
I want you to know that none of us is alone in this world, even though
it may look or feel that way to the world. First and foremost we have
the Lord and His Spirit in us, and our fellowship with Him is more
valuable than a myriad of relationships with human beings we can see.
Secondly, we, the Church, are all one Body, and we all are intimately
part of one another. We are one and united in Christ as one, not alone
but part of His Church here in this dark world. Again, it may not be
obvious to human eyes, but with the eyes of faith we can see that there
are those who believe as we do the things that are true, the things that
I think the fact that you report that "my isolation and lone walk has invited attention instead of the other way round!" says it all. The Lord is with you and is using you – your good heart and determination to live for Him – to spread His Word and His truth. Being "Jeremiah" is not as easy or as comfortable as enjoying coffee cake on Sunday morning in a lukewarm fellowship of possible believers – but believe me when I say that if this is how the Lord is using you, great reward is in store, and in that I rejoice and encourage you to do the same.
As to what to say and how to say it, it is of course always the case that the audience matters critically. Some audiences are not even worthy of being addressed – casting pearls before swine is both pointless and potentially very dangerous. Audiences composed of skeptics and some who may be of open heart but who know little of the truth are obviously going to need special and careful handling. Sticking to basic truths, the gospel and very simple first steps about the nature of God and the Gift of Christ is not a bad place to begin. After all, our Lord carefully taught in parables for this very reason, namely, to avoid offense on the part of the hard of heart and to give a toehold of the truth to those just barely able to receive it. Or as Paul said (1Cor.3:2), "I gave you milk (as to infants), not solid food (as to growing believers capable of receiving more advanced teaching). Teaching those who are yet infants IS more "laborious", but the labor is pleasant and worthwhile to the extent that they are willing to listen even so. So please do not despair. Persevering in such wonderful opportunities is the stuff the crown of glory is made of – and I know many would-be ministers of the Word who long for just such opportunities.
As to your questions:
1) Jesus had no need to be born again since He was never spiritually dead. All of Adam and Eve's offspring are spiritually dead at birth by virtue of being born with a sinful nature, a corrupt body passed down on account of Adam's sin. Since our Lord was virgin born (and more to the point "virgin conceived"), He was born without a sin nature, never sinned, and never required a spiritual rebirth in His humanity – as God He "is" spirit.
2) Sons of God are precisely those who are born again into the family of God, restored to that relationship with Him by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
3) On spiritual gifts, these are covered at a number of places at Ichthys but given your question I would encourage you to read BB 5 Pneumatology, specifically, the section on "Spiritual Gifts" (at the link). Pastor-teacher and Evangelist are two communications gifts which are still being given (apostle and prophet are not being given any longer), but there are many more gifts that are recorded in scripture, most of which are still being given, and these are discussed at the link above. The important thing here is that all believers have spiritual gifts (1Cor.12:7), with various combinations of gifts and with the specifics of the gifts varying with each believer. In other words, it is wrong to think of every pastor-teacher as being identically gifted – and that certainly ought to be obvious from considering different ministries. The Church is a Body and every part of it is essential. In terms of gifts, they are more kaleidoscopic when the Church as a whole is in view than they are identical in "cookie-cutter" fashion. To carry out the Lord's will for His Church, every believer and every gift, fully functioning, is necessary and important. The fact that few ever get to the point of spiritual growth, maturity and progress so as to be ready to recognize their gifts, see clearly their intended ministry, and begin production for the Lord is lamentable, but quite the rule in lukewarm Laodicea. Rather than seeing ministry in terms of traditional strait-jacket, official, "denominational" terms, we should embrace the rainbow variety of combinations of gifts and ministries that the Lord actually has given and empowered. I think you are the perfect example of this. He has obviously gifted you in many unique ways, and please note that it is not so important for any of us to affirm "I have gifts A, B and C" as it is for us to dive into the actual ministries the Lord has for us and do them with all our heart in the power of the Holy Spirit . . . and thus fulfill the purpose of the gifts we have been given. That is the point – and that is the basis for eternal reward.
4) We are given the gifts we are given when we are saved – God know ahead of time how He intends to use us. We don't have to "go after" them; we already have them (1Cor.12:31 is about the congregation as a whole which ought to esteem the gifts which produce its growth through the Word). Spiritual growth is essential in order to recognize the things we have been given and to be receptive to the godly uses to which the Lord wants them put. So spiritual growth is the sine qua non, the essential ingredient without which nothing significant can happen. Given the context in which you ask this question, I feel obliged to point out that there are a great variety of groups these days who feel that some gifts can be gone after and gotten by those who are already believers, or that somehow there is a special "gift of the Spirit" which only those who are part of their group or engage in their rituals or do or say something else esoteric receive. But that is not the case. There is no speaking in tongues today, for example (not legitimately). All believers already have the Holy Spirit and if a person does not have the Holy Spirit then he/she is not a believer (Rom.8:9). The idea that laying on of hands or special prayer or some other rite or ritual can bring a special blessing, a second blessing, a new baptism of the Spirit is wrong as wrong can be. All believers were baptized into Christ at the point of being born again, and all believers received the Spirit at that same time. The fact that most take no notice and gain no advantage has to do with hardness of heart and lack of growth; but getting hyper-emotional (as many of these groups who believe things that are not true often do) is not the same thing as being spiritual – far less growing spiritually.
I will say a prayer for you, my friend, and have put a prayer request for you up at Ichthys.
Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.
Reading your responses from your quick replies always brings me joy
thank you very much doc.
To start with, I'm amazed by your quick responses and all the answers provided here are simple and straight forward, thanks once again for clarifying on the issue of Christ as you're aware, it grieved me very much when I heard that kind of heresy "Christ being born again"
Secondly On spiritual growth and gift well I must congratulate you for the revelation knowledge and the link you provided settles all the scores. Really it doesn't matter what kind of spirituals you have or don't neither seeking them activity as some sort of profession or order of operation. Otherwise sorry for the lapses in communication.
I also picked up this interesting response in your "Chronological Order of the Books of the Bible: Part 2":
" As to a reading plan, in my experience it is good to read several Bible books at once (as you have already read). In terms of assembling a (loose) chronological order for your reading, it is certainly also be possible to "do it yourself", and that can be better too than buying some version which purports to do the same. One possible way of combining these two approaches is to read five chapters a day, one from each of the following groups:
One chapter a day each from the following sections:
1) Genesis through Esther
2) Job through Song of Solomon
3) Isaiah through Zechariah
4) Matthew through Acts
5) Romans through Revelation
. . . and repeating when you finish, even though the number of chapters is uneven.
This system has the benefit of giving more emphasis and more reinforcement to some of the more doctrinally important areas of scripture, plus, it will have you repeating and therefore becoming more fluent with some of the more important passages much sooner than a year, which is, after all, the real objective rather than reading the Bible just to have read it once. For this reason, I'm not much personally on plans that are deliberately tailored to the western calendar (why not start today, whatever day it is?)."
I wish I had discovered this site 10 years ago my bibles reading would have been
easy and more effective otherwise thanks for this piece of work.
Lastly I'm so grateful for including me on the prayer list; "always honored to know I am not alone in the body of Christ".
In Jesus Christ
You're very welcome.
Thanks for the encouraging words!
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Hi Dr. Luginbill,
Thanks so much for your encouragement and of course for the prayers. You wrote:
"As with many gifts and the ministries that they would lead to, most in the history of the Church have chosen not to do what is necessary to get to the place of the proper functioning of their gifts so as to be put into service by the Lord. But as long as they have grown spiritually, progressed through testing, and helped out with someone else' ministry (equivalent to putting the talent out "at interest" in the parable of the talents..."
I am not sure that individual ministries work like that. Or that most people
will have a ministry. I mean I think it is more a matter of obeying God's will
moment to moment (ie: working as for the Lord, praying as He commands, learning
and applying the Bible, etc). When Paul goes on about desiring gifts and asking
for them, it doesn't fit the way you have it (that we all have certain gifts
that we grow and then use). It seems more pragmatic (like the clay vessel in the
OT that did not go the way the potter wanted, and the potter simply made it into
something else) and changeable. I am trying to pray several times a day now, and
I don't think I need lots of years of growth (although I am pursuing growth).
Just that, doing great things for God doesn't necessarily require years of
preparation. I doubt Phoebe needed years of training or to be at the Apostle's
spiritual level to be at 'proper functioning' to deliver the letter. And I doubt
it was like she had a 'letter delivering' ministry. It was a practical 'here is
a need' let me help how I can. And the assisting other's ministries is the
ministry for some people, I think. Isn't that what Phoebe did? The teaching one
is the only one that I can see that can be seen as a process like you describe.
Please don't be offended. I do think that your background/the background of
pastor-teachers is very admirable and worthy. I wish I had as much knowledge as
you did, and I am learning so much from the ICHTHYS site. Just that the way you
frame spiritual gifts and ministry doesn't quite fit to me.
I think the problem here is the word "ministry". Where I talk about
spiritual gifts in BB 5 Pneumatology, I try
to make clear that this word suffers from baggage loaded onto it by the
church-visible over the years, so that "minister" and "ministry" evoke
notions of all things traditional in the brick-and-mortar church. Your
Phoebe is very well taken (see the link). She was a reliable
"servant" of the church at Corinth and a great help to Paul. She was
considered so reliable and faithful by him that she was entrusted with
the letter to the Romans and traveled half way across the Mediterranean
to deliver it. That was no small thing and no easy thing. Paul tells us
that because of his travels he was "shipwrecked three times"
(2Cor.11:25), and that doesn't seem to include the horrific experience
detailed in Acts chapter twenty-seven. Travel in the ancient world was
notoriously dangerous, especially by sea. So Phoebe no doubt had a great
ministry even though we are only given to see one important part of it.
It doesn't fit any traditional mode of what is thought of as a
ministry/minister in the R.C. church or traditional Protestantism, but
it will be greatly rewarded. A minister (see BB
5) is a servant, and a servant of Christ's Church with a capital
"c". He has a role for us all to play, and we all will do it better – in
fact are only actually qualified to do it at all – after attaining
spiritual maturity and having been tested thereafter. It doesn't have to
be what others think of as a ministry. It does have to support the
Church – which means supporting the truth.
Further, the gifts we are given at salvation are a special blend of qualities and attributes designed specifically for us personally. No two of us is alike; no two of us will be called to exactly the same function in supporting the Church. There doesn't have to be a title, a brick-and-mortar facade, a website address, or even any tangible material sign of what our ministry is. Because it's the spiritual effect it has for the benefit of other Christians or leading others to Christ that constitutes its true essence. So whether through prayer or encouragement or material/administrative support of any other of a limitless combination of things that might promote the truth and help others come to Christ and grow, the Lord does have something very particular for you – and you are already gifted to do it. Figuring out the specifics is something that He will lead you to in good time as you grow and progress and are given to find out where your efforts for Christ's Church are best focused. That is something we all have to go through. But you can probably already see where your particular strengths lie (n.b., when Paul says at 1Cor.14:1 "be zealous for spiritual gifts", he means "you as a church body", and specifically that they should be eager to have and to hear from the ones which promote edification).
So keep on growing, my friend. The Christian witness you are providing and the prayers you are offering are definite helps to the Body of Jesus Christ.
Your friend in Him,
Thanks for all of your help. I will keep trying to do those things, and just trust God to lead me to wherever He wants. Sometimes I despair that I can be of any use. In my youth I did a lot of things ostensibly for Him. I assisted in Sunday School, children's Bible study, the powerpoint projector, and I even tried to preach in front of a church once. That last one went very badly. I was angry with God unfairly because I felt I was offering and He wasn't telling me. But I realized I was immature/not ready myself, and the answer is not to just throw myself into anything and everything and be impatient with Him. Before you berate me, yes I believe now that women should not be preachers, I wish I could undo that one. I have to let go of the failures and disappointments. I do think I still need to grow. I take the tests once in a while, and mercy shows up a lot (helping people in acute distress/crisis). Maybe it is that, I can see doing that. Teaching also comes up, but I know first, women are only supposed to teach kids, and second, the questions they ask are about loving to study the Bible, which is different to teaching to others the same thing over and over and over and over and over...I wont worry about it anymore. If it is 8 years, that is so short, and I likely wont have a hearing aide during the Tribulation, which will change the game for me. Anyway, thank you for your patience and wisdom,
It's not just women that shouldn't teach the Bible to adult men and the
congregation in general. No man should do so unless he has been given
the gift by the Holy Spirit. And even if a man is gifted, he should not
teach the Bible if he is not sufficiently prepared. That knocks out
about 99.9% of contemporary Christians – and yet there is no dearth of
individuals, male and female, who claim to be "teachers".
Woman can teach the Bible to other women and all children, and there is nothing that prevents them sharing the truth with men in personal conversation (cf. Priscilla and Aquilla with Apollos: Acts 18:26). And when one factors in what I wrote to you before about not thinking of these things through the traditional lens of what a minister is and what a ministry must be, there are an unlimited number of opportunities for women as well as for men to contribute to the growth of the Church through the Word of truth. It all depends on your gifts, your growth, your experience, your desire, your commitment . . . and most importantly the Lord's choice. The Spirit gives the gifts, the Father empowers the results, but the Lord Jesus Christ assigns the ministries (1Cor.12:4-6).
Fifteen years before the Lord returns is a long time, it seems to me, and there is no telling what the Lord has in store for you. So keep growing day by day, and keep listening to the Spirit's still, small voice. One thing I know for certain: there is a crown of glory (as well as a crown of righteousness and a crown of life) available for every Christian. But not that many will win all three. It depends and how determined we are to do what Christ would have us do (see the link).
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I am not like people like you and Paul and Moses who He chases after and practically begs to do xyz, I chase after Him, and eventually learn I am just the dirt beneath everyone and His feet. And should just stay that way. I should have partied and done what I wanted like everyone else and then just had an epiphany later. Then I wouldn't be so bitter about it.
Actually, here is what I read about "go-getter" Moses in scripture:
Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
Exodus 4:10-13 NIV
And as far as Paul is concerned, he was zealous alright – in persecuting the
Church (before the Lord appeared to him).
Moses and Paul were exceptionally humble individuals, Moses by nature (Num.12:3), and Paul too I think, and certainly further humbled by the Lord on account of the exceptional revelations he was given (2Cor.12:7). Since these two men are two of the most productive believers who have ever lived, I don't think genuine humility is an obstacle to Christian service. In fact, things are exactly the other way around.
"Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:26-28 NIV
So no need for bitterness. If you continue to grow and pass the tests that come
the mature believer's way, that's good for two out of three crowns right there!
That's better than 90% of Christians today, conservatively estimated. And as you
continue, the Lord will open up opportunities for service for you too. Let's
call it "service", since "ministry" seems to mislead many folks. But a
diakonos in the passage above is a "servant" or "minister" – depending upon
who is doing the translating.
Always good to hear from you, my friend.
Keeping you in my prayers.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Sorry to belabor this, but I don't know what ministry the Lord would have me do. So I am just trying to organize my time for prayer, Bible reading, Ichthys (maybe/maybe not other Bible study too), and maybe Greek. And some time to absorb all of it. Besides just obeying His general commands better, prayer is a bit of ministry maybe. So, that is what I have. (Conclusion and plan of action for foreseeable future).
This sounds like an idea plan to me.
Don't worry about service / ministry. The Lord will take care of that. But He only uses prepared people. So if you are preparing, you are already "doing your job".
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Why can we recognize the Bible as divine revelation?
I don't think it requires a miracle. I think even atheists recognize the divine nature of the Bible.
Let me put it to you like this: when you have two ancient documents that are anonymously written, can you tell whether or not they had the same author? Of course you can. It's not supernatural, but rather natural. It's part of your capacity as a rational human being.
For most of my "AD" life I thought that Genesis, Isaiah and perhaps Daniel ("Daniel in the skeptic's den") were the most attacked books of the Bible. How I was mistaken! They were the synoptic gospels all along that were the most attacked. Interestingly John is sidestepped entirely.
Efforts to search for "the historical Jesus" and "Q" along with "demythologization" are so evil and corrosive to the faith that only evolution has done more damage and caused greater shipwrecks. Historians are needed to defend the synoptics from these unrelenting barrages of unbelief.
You've hit the nail on the head here.
For unbelievers, only natural revelation has any meaning. That is what it is impossible for them to deny (in their heart of hearts), even if with their mouths they do vehemently deny it.
When it comes to the truth, the Bible is the truth and anyone who does not accept the authority of the Bible (as the movements you mention do not) cannot possible come any closer to the Lord. So in general denial of the authority of scripture is the province of the unbeliever (or wayward believer heading in the wrong direction). It's no good arguing the authority of the Bible with such people, in my opinion. That is the definition of throwing the mother of all pearls (pun intended) to the swine of all swine – and will only result in trampling. A person has to be open to the truth to EFFECTIVELY "see" that the Bible has the answers.
Some links on this:
How can we know that the Bible is true?
The Bible (in BB 5)
Read Your Bible
The integrity of the Word of God
Issues of Canonicity
All scripture is "God-breathed"
Inerrancy of scripture (contains many other links)
The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God II
How can we know whose interpretation of the Bible is right (Part 2)?
How can we know whose interpretation of the Bible is right (Part 1)?
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
You wrote: "For unbelievers, only natural revelation has any meaning.
That is what it is impossible for them to deny (in their heart of
hearts), even if with their mouths they do vehemently deny it."
I am skeptical about how good they are at this either. For instance, a common retort is that Christianity works by "threatening" people with Hell. But read the Book of Acts: there's no modern-day "hell preaching." It was taken for granted by people in the ancient world that the universe has an element of moral justice to it and that evils need to be redressed. Even non-Abrahamic religions (e.g. Buddhism) believe in Hell. Someone who gets "angry" about Hell probably has a serious pride problem. Keen in mind that humans are rational beings, so the only way the heart can be changed is by appealing to reason. And nobody ever believes something they intentionally see as foolish.
That's why the Lord gifted some in apologetics . . . like yourself!
What I have found out Dr is this particular person is a false teacher. He wraps
himself in the veneer of being a senior pastor, having being tutor for Bishops
and above at his denominations and the senior pastor at his church in Houston.
But when you are around someone 24/7 days a week like me, you tend to see how
the tree bears bad fruit. The fruit is rotten to the core and has to deal with
"religious spirit", manipulation, desires of the heart (infatuation with money),
never reads the word (Because he says the Spirit leads him) and all host of
things to numerous to count. He says the church here is a dead church, no holy
spirit but says it privately to me but won't say to the congregation he
supposedly in charge of here.
Parishioners see their pastors on the periphery and that is why during the tribulation, even the elect will be deceived because they just follow a person rather than the Word of God. I am thankful to God that he exposed me to what a false teacher and we are not talking about using scriptures but from the outside and fruit. He doesn't curse, talks and preaches about obedience, etc but His words condemn him. because he thought we were friends, he opened and was the truth really of who he was came out. He uses his role to state he mentors to Christ and because I was so hungry and thirsty to be close to God, I looked at him and was having a spiritual battle in the mind. Some things didn't make sense to me and when I try to expose it, he uses the bible to state otherwise. But finally enough was enough and all glory to God by His Spirit who gave me the strength to confront him and expose him with the help of another believer.
The question is he is so manipulative and have been doing this to his congregation and family for so long, he waits like a lion waiting to devour. I just need prayer that the Lord removes Him from my life. I am grateful the Lord is teaching me a lesson about false teacher and how to confront them with the Word of God and always look to the fruit no matter what. I am blessed that He doesn't allow me to fall into this trap. Pray I will continue to glorify him.
Thanks for being an encourager, Brother in Christ and good friend.
In Christ Jesus our Lord
As far as you situation goes, it sounds to me as if you are "all over
it" there too – good for you! I think you are approaching things in
exactly the right way – with prayer and prudence and humility – and not
allowing yourself to be manipulated. What more you could do, I don't
know. I will be keeping you and your situation in my prayers. The person
and the situation is "text book" false teaching.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Savior,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I have just listened to several videos on youtube by a man whose name is John Hagee. I don't know if you are acquainted with his preaching but here is what he says on three or four of these preaching videos:
1. Jesus did not come to be the Jewish Messiah.
2. Jesus never said He was the Jewish Messiah.
3. Moses is the Jewish Messiah not Jesus.
Well, the world of so-called Christianity is going crazy and out of their spiritual minds with these words. If you have time you might want to listen to some on YouTube and search for "John Hagee denies the Jesus is the Messiah.
What do you think about this and do you have any comments? I would appreciate your comments, etc. Till our Lord and Savior Jesus arrives,
His servant and your friend,
I'm happy to answer questions, but, honestly, I'm pretty busy to be
listening to videos, especially by individuals who are clearly "out to
I will say that this is all part and parcel of the times we are in, on the one hand being in the era of lukewarm Laodicea, and on the other hand being on the cusp of the Tribulation. As Paul said about time:
So be aware of this, that in the last days there will be difficult times. For [in those times] there will be men (i.e., false teachers; cf. chap.2) concerned only for themselves, devoted to money, egotistic, arrogant, blasphemous, not concerned for their parents, ungrateful, irreverent, implacable, slanderers, uninhibited, savage, despising the good, betrayers, impetuous, megalomaniacal, devotees of pleasure rather than lovers of God, possessing an [outward] appearance of godliness, but [in reality] having rejected its [true] power. From such men turn away. Of this sort are those who [even in our own day] worm their way into households and take captive the [spiritually] weak who are loaded down with sins, leading them astray with various lusts, [victims who consequently,] though always learning, are never able to accept the truth. In the same way that [Pharaoh's court magicians] Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, for their minds have been corrupted and they have been found wanting concerning the faith. But they will not keep on striding forward forever. Their folly will become obvious to all, just as in the case of those two.
2nd Timothy 3:1-9
The trend towards this sort of thing is certain to intensify. If this
were an apologetic ministry whose purpose was to play "traffic cop" with
all the false teaching and false teachers surfacing on the internet, I
would need a staff of hundreds! As it is, I answer specific questions
about such things to help keep innocent sheep associated with this
ministry safe from ravenous wolves. Not necessary in your case: you see
this fellow for what he is and have analyzed the key falsehoods very
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
Just want to thank you for the comments and your words of encouragement. The verse you quoted is certainly coming to past rapidly. It is unfortunate that many people will believe what this person is saying without checking the validity. That is the issue with many. They don't even bother checking the scriptures but swallow hook line and sinker all that is said blindly because of laziness. I thank God for your ministry as you have truly been obedient to the scriptures by sharing what you know with others.
Yesterday in the Bible study, I shared the excerpt from your study on Soteriology, "The so-called imputation of Adam's sin", and they were amazed, to say the least. Some had questions, but I believe that the two Catholic individuals realized the error of this false doctrine. I am careful on how and when I present your studies, so as not to turn them away, but so far this has not happened. As a matter of fact, they cannot wait for the next week to come back.
I give honor to you and your faithfulness to the ministry God has called you for, and give Glory to God and thanksgiving to Him for allowing me to find your Web Site.
Abundant grace, peace and blessings to you.
Great news, my friend!
And thank you for your good words as well (and for your prayers – keeping you in mine daily).
I'm very pleased to see all the wonderful fruit you are bearing.
Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
Just had a quick question on one of the Scripture passages cited in your study. In Isaiah 43:10, this verse says:
"10Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me."
My question is on the last part of this verse, "neither shall there be after me." Why does God write this in a way that seems, some people think there will "another" God after, which we know is not true? Just need a small explanation and clarification of this part of the verse, as to me it is confusing?
Thanks so much again Dr. Luginbill,
Blessings to you always,
P.S. I happened to turn the TV on this morning, and saw a man who had a doctorate, I suppose in theology, declaring that the church [Christians] will be removed prior to the 7 year tribulation commencement. I just don't understand and am appalled, with a person who has this kind of credential, proclaiming this false doctrine, as if it were absolutely true, deceiving the people. Beyond my comprehension, when a person who is supposed to be knowledgeable and they don't study the Bible, and rightly divide God's Word. He has a large church and a large following. I guess they are spiritually blinded, because to me it is in the Word of God so plain and simply stated. It just frustrates me to no end. Anyway, I am blessed to know the truth about this matter, given to me directly by the Holy Spirit of God. I am also blessed to have found your Website, and continue my learning process. I do make use of your studies, as I refer to them in the Bible Study every week. We now have 11 people attending. I appreciate your ministry that God has given you, for you are, and continue to be, a blessing to all who view your materials.
Hope your teaching went well today, my friend.
This verse is just an emphatic way of saying that He is the only God there is. The "before me" doesn't indicate that God Himself was "formed"; rather the word is used to contrast the living God to mere images which are indeed "formed" by human effort.
As to the "after Me", this merely closes the loop on the argument to indicate that things are not going to change in the future either . . . because there NEVER will be an "after ME".
For believers who know their God, this is actually a fairly humorous way to put things: "You actually imagine that I have a beginning and an end? That is the wrong way to think about ME."
It is easy to fret oneself about all the false teaching in the world, supposedly by experts and often by those who appear zealous. But if we look at their conduct, we are usually given to see what their true motives are: fame (TV), power (large congregation), money (from both). But if we are really seeking the truth of the Word of God, if what we really desire is to walk ever more closely with Jesus Christ, that will require that we journey "outside the gate" (Heb.13:12). That is the place of peace and joy and spiritual power. That is the place of truly pleasing the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanks as ever for your very kind words.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I remember that you do not like Westboro because they are unpatriotic. However, isn't that what the Israelites said about Jeremiah? That he was attacking patriotism by saying Israel was evil?
I don't care about "patriotism". My citizenship is in heaven
(Phil.3:20), my city/country is the New Jerusalem, and my kingdom is the
coming one to be ruled by the true King.
The WBs are doing what I dislike most, namely, substituting politics for the truth. I suppose they are just more up front about it than others – even though their method is unbelievably despicable and unloving towards others to the point that I seriously doubt that any of these people are saved (but it's possible, I suppose).
There are plenty of evils in incipient Babylon, and WB type behavior certainly fits the bill as much as many of the other horrible things that are happening, even things they are opposing. That's what I mean about politics. It doesn't matter if you are a Communist or a Nazi, you are serving Satan either way.
If the Lord appeared to each of these people personally and told them to do what they are doing, that is one thing. Since He did not, as Jeremiah was given to proclaim, there is no true comparison to be made here between "chaff (WB) and corn (godly prophets)" (Jer.23:28).
In Jesus Christ our Lord – who certainly knows the difference.
Look up William marrion branham
What about him?
Surely you're not suggesting that he has anything to do with "the true Word"?
In Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World and the only true Word of God.
Dear Dr. Luginbill:
The Lutheran church that I've attended for a long time (Formerly ELCA and now a LCMC) is gong to be going thru changes in the next few years... I'm concerned about a younger pastor on staff who often references a Jurgen Moltman as a source apparently for his thinking... I've looked a little at Moltman's background and I suspect he's very liberal. Do you know anything about Him? I suspect he's not someone you might know, but I thought if you did I'd value your thoughts.
Thanks for being a rock in this world of non-stability.
Good to hear from you!
Moltman may be a Christian. He seems to believe in the resurrection, but he has odd ideas about the Trinity which are not helpful, in my opinion, and may lead others to heresy even if he has managed only to skirt its edge. He is into liberation theology, and anyone who makes political involvement (especially any "fix the world" philosophy) a fundamental part of the way they see the Bible is only going to lead others downward. Marxism belongs in communist circles, not Christian ones.
This is one of those people who are extremely erudite and produce sophisticated works that make those who spend time trying to understand them feel somehow enlightened beyond the common herd – would that they would spend half as much time trying to understand the Bible itself.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I have an acquaintance who out of the blue sent me a lot of questions about metaphysics and asked me to comment. I doubt she is a Christian but I was strangely drawn to her when we met briefly before I left SA and she has kept contact since which is strange. I sense a work of the Holy Spirit in our relationship and I don’t want to blow it by answering in a dogmatic way ( I tend to be this way).
I’m aware of the ontological argument in apologetics but that will all be over her head. Everything she says is true IF ( in my opinion) you look at it through the lens of Christianity but I’m not sure how to explain this without turning her off. I would appreciate your thoughts . She whatsapped me so I can forward it to your WhatsApp if you have one? Otherwise I’ll try and copy and paste.
*The Four(4) Principles of Metaphysics* It is not important whether you are spiritual or believe in God .... *But the four principles of metaphysics apply to all from the moment one is born and until our last breath !!* *The First Principle states*: *"Whomsoever you encounter is the right one"* ... This means that no one comes into our life by chance. Everyone who is around us, anyone with whom we interact, represents something, whether to teach us something or to help us improve a current situation. *The Second Principle states*: *"Whatever happened is the only thing that could have happened"* ... Nothing, absolutely nothing of that which we experienced could have been any other way. Not even in the least important detail. There is no *"If only I had done that differently, then it would have been different"*. NO .. What happened is the only thing that could have taken place and must have taken place for us to learn n evolve in order to move forward. Every single situation in life which we encounter is absolutely perfect, even when it defies our understanding and our ego. *The Third Principle states*: *"Each moment in which something begins is the right moment"*... Everything begins at exactly the right moment, neither earlier nor later. *This is because we are subconsciouly ready for the new experience or challenge*. *The Fourth Principle states*: *"What is over, is over"* ... It is very simple. *When something comes to an end, it helps us evolve.* Hence, enriched by the recent experience, it is better to let go and move on. Is it a coincidence that you're here reading this ??? *If these words strike a chord, it's because you meet the requirements and understand that not even one single snowflake falls accidentally in the wrong place !!* Just be good to yourself. Always be happy ... *Live and Love like there's no tomorrow.* And *If Tomorrow does come, well then Love again.*
Just the last paragraph of her message is entirely ridiculous. Ignore that!
People will believe anything, apparently.
A question for your friend: if nothing can ever change by anything we do, then how is "evolution" possible . . . and why would it be important to evolve anyway. If we're going to evolve or not evolve anyway, then there is nothing we can do about anything so we might as well "eat, drink and be merry" – it was what we were going to do anyway.
Every human being with an I.Q. above plant life understands in his/her bones that we make choices and that they have consequences. It's baked into who we are and is obvious and confirmed from everything we experience in life. It takes a GREAT deal of faith – in a lie – to believe something like these principles.
And where do "metaphysics" come from? The term comes from the works of Aristotle given to his speculations on the immaterial world, named thus because they occur AFTER (meta) the "physics" (his speculations about the natural world). Philosophers speculate, but they have no proof of anything immaterial – as scientists who preach "evolution" and who reject anything metaphysical are quick to point out. But while the former groups are making things up, and the latter group are putting blinders on regarding things they know in their hearts to be true, Christians who know their God and read their Bibles and access good teaching know a great deal about both: God is in control of all things, but has planned all things to take into account our every choice.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Thanks Bob......wow. Sometimes we’re so keen for someone to be saved
that we tiptoe around the crucial elements of the Christian faith. I’ve
been accused of being “ unyielding” and I didn’t want to come across
like that in this situation.
Do you agree with me that everything quoted there is true because God ordains and is in control of everything?
That’s basically what I wanted to tell her. Hope I didn’t irritate you with this? I wondered if she is perhaps seeking the truth maybe?
No worries at all!
I do get zealous for the truth.
I don't agree that "everything quoted is true" as I thought the last email made pretty clear. God ordains everything, but the perfect plan contains a complete taking into account of the free will of every single moral actor, human and angel, whose ever existed or will. The fact that God has not allowed the evil people to affect the outcome of the plan merely underlines the brilliance of Him far beyond anything we can imagine. The plan is the perfect plan, but the choices people made were choices they made; they didn't have to make them; but they did make them; so they are part of the plan which takes it all into account. Calvinism doesn't understand this neither does Arminianism.
You are correct that "God ordains and is in control of everything", but a big part of what He has ordained and controls is the allowance of free will. That has to be the case, after all, because He cannot in any way be responsible for sin. If things were as your friend makes them out to be, God would be responsible for sin (God forbid!) and the cross would seem to be either unnecessary (it is very necessary) or pointless (it is the ENTIRE point). The cross is what reconciles sovereignty with free will – by paying for sin. All theological positions which are erroneous inevitably have foundered on the Rock of the cross, not taking it into account or misunderstanding it entirely.
Feel free to write me any time, my friend. I keep you and your grandchildren in my prayers daily.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hi Robert, have you ever heard of the JWO Movement (Jesus words only)? I think the main proponent is Douglas Del Tondo. Was researching John 15 and came across this.
Crazy cult-like movements and organizations are too numerous these days
to keep up with: a sign of the times of the coming of the end and of
this era of Laodicea showing her true colors more and more as that end
This one doesn't surprise me. Seems a natural result of the "red letter Bible" phenomenon where in the gospels (mainly) only words which are direct quotes from our Lord are in red. But the WHOLE of scripture are His words, His thinking, "the mind of Christ" (1Cor.2:16). This red letter approach has thus always struck as presumptuous at least and blasphemous at most – how much more some group/movement that wants to use that same false standard to throw out the bulk of the Word of Truth.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
This is different. This guy has a doctorate in Greek and Latin and goes on about how Jesus taught salvation by keeping the law and faith. Also teaches that Paul was a heretic and an apostate from the law. Surprised you haven't heard of him/it or ever been asked this before.
Never heard of this one. However, I have run into many Messianics who
also want to take scissors to the Bible. Paul presents an obvious
problem because He explains things very clearly, so getting rid of his
epistles is something most died-in-the-wool legalists would dearly love
to do and some do actually take this step (but then, heretics have been
doing that since Marcion in the 2nd century). Those who want to deny the
deity of Christ and return to the misunderstanding of the Law in the
manner of the Pharisees would like to kill Paul after the fact the same
way their spiritual forbearers tried to do physically. Personally, I
don't have much of anything to say about any group which admits to
denigrating and ignoring the Bible. There can be no debate about the
truth with those who prima facie deny the only source of truth – which
is the complete Word of God.
In Jesus our dear Savior – "my Lord and my God" (Jn.20:28),
Good afternoon Bob. This was broadcast in Canada a few days ago. It did report on the passage of Scripture the Society relies on in dealing with sexual abuse claims. While they apparently tolerate a victim reporting sexual abuse claims to the police, they certainly don't encourage it and don't file a complaint themselves. How does the WTBTS reconcile their attitude with Matthew 22:21?
Matthew 22:21 King James Version (KJV)
21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
Canadian law requires you to report sexual abuse/assault. The Society hasn't
filed one complaint to the police.
This one doesn't surprise me, especially since virtually ALL
organizations seem to blame the victim for rocking the boat and then go
on to defend the perpetrator – and this is true whatever the offense
(not just in terms of sexual abuse); unfortunately I have seen this sort
of thing very many times in all manner of organizations (not just
churches and religions and cults).
Keeping you in my prayers.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for your prompt response Bob. In the conflict of scriptures, I
know my friend will always believe things belonging to God will have a
higher priority than the things belonging to Caesar. If reporting sexual
misconduct to Caesar will bring reproach upon Jehovah's organization,
they will refuse to report to Caesar. I know "Not bringing reproach upon
Jehovah's name" is dogma in the WTBTS
ps - your observations are spot in with respect to the Royal Bank of Canada. Managers would fall on their spears before besmirching the character of the bank.
Is there a comparison here?
"The blood of the martyrs is seed of the church."
"But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew."
Tertullian is claiming based on his understanding of history that the church grew as a result of the witness of those who were destroyed by the pagans. Maybe. But did the actual Church grow? And how so? In numbers? Perhaps, but I would guess this made it more the case that only those serious about their faith entered the ranks of the capital "C" Church until these persecutions subsided.
Exodus 1:12 is inspired and is talking about physical procreation. It actually happened – no doubt by God's blessing in spite of the persecution.
Maybe this is where Tertullian got the idea though.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
"The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?"
Could a demon have sculpted the idol, or was this just folklore?
No doubt demons were and are heavily involved in all pagan religion –
and in religion generally (Christianity being no religion but new life
in Jesus Christ).
As to this translation, however, "and of her image, which fell from heaven" is a misleading translation. The Greek word is diopetes, and means "thing which fell from Zeus". In other words, just like many religions (cf. Mecca), a meteorite became an object of worship. That doesn't mean there wasn't still a cult statue of Artemis / Diana – there was; but that is not what the word is referring to here. We only know about the diopetes from Acts, I believe, and that may reflect the attempt by some commentators (probably reflected in many translations) to conflate the two, incorrectly (but cf. ESV correctly: "the sacred stone that fell from the sky").
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
What if Augustine was wrong about just war theory? How many centuries
have Christians participated in war because of that one?
"Blessed are the peacemakers." War is never ever the answer to injustice, and Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Mandela showed us that peace is the true answer to injustice.
Well, Augustine was wrong about pretty much everything else so it
wouldn't surprise me at all.
If he was wrong, I guess that would mean that Christians shouldn't be lobbying their governments to go to war out of patriotic fervor. But then Christians, in my view, shouldn't be involved in political action at all – as in lobbying their governments to stay out of war either, because that would mean for one thing that they knew that war generally or "this war" was "unjust", and that is an equally dubious proposition.
Peacemakers / peacemaking in the New Testament is referring to promoting harmony and reconciliation among believers (it doesn't have anything to do with politics). Biblical peacemaking is thus completely individual to individual, rather than a group-effort cause.
As to the three example, I would prefer to take my cue from the Bible – or at least from believers in Jesus Christ. And anyone engaged in trying to fix the world to the level of becoming famous for it (which means it was political) is probably not a believer in Jesus Christ. It serves the devil's interest to promote pacifism too, after all (he is behind all "movements").
Our job is to follow the Lord. During the first advent, I don't remember Him trying to change Roman policy, or Jewish policy. He taught the truth and lived what He taught. And He is our model: grow, persevere, help others do the same. International politics (and domestic politics) will take care of themselves quite apart from us. That's the devil's game – and he ALWAYS wins. Any time we think he has lost at it, it only means we have strayed so far from the Lord that we aren't thinking straight.
So, no, war is "not an answer" . . . to what question? It doesn't matter. Whatever the question, if you are asking it, and if the answer is "war" or "no war", it's a question not profitable for a believer to ask, let alone get involved in trying to solve.
In the Lord who is our true Leader and our only Savior,
Have you got any information on the site about Zoroastrianism?
Many thanks, when you have time.
Nothing specific. I get asked about different ancient religions from time to time. Here is the sort of thing I usually respond with:
Religion in the ancient Mediterranean world functioned as a sort of a "sink" for all manner of negative emotions and superstitions wherein unbelievers were allowed to deposit their ill-will towards God and refusal to respond to Him and then "get on with their lives"; because "in bygone generations [God] allowed all nations to walk in their own ways" (Acts 14:16 NKJV). But in "these last days", God the Father has "spoken to us by means of His Son" (Heb.1:2). With the advent of the gospel, or more correctly put, with the revelation of Jesus Christ so that the "good news" now clearly speaks about the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and with the result of the explosion of the Church among the nations, the role of religion and the use Satan is making of it (and, apparently, is allowed to make of it) has gone from bad (an opiate for the masses of unbelievers) to worse (a fundamental part of the devil's strategy both to retard the progress of the truth and also to assault it and those who believe in it). That strategy will find its logical and terrible fulfillment during the Tribulation when all religion is solidified under one standard, that of antichrist.
Links to the this are e.g.:
The [general] role of religion in Satan's world system (in SR 4)
The False Prophet's Administration of Antichrist's False Religion
The Rise of False Teaching in the Tribulation
The Persuasiveness of antichrist's religion
Characteristics of the false religion
The Anti-Christian Religion and its Worldwide Expansion
Dangers of cooperating with antichrist's religion
Hope this helps!
Yours in Jesus Christ, the One true Savior.