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Question #1: 

I have a question about Persian kings mentioned in the Bible. I'm told that some people feel that Artaxerxes is a title, not a name. A friend had written to me:

"Ahasuerus is the same as Xerxes (according to various sources). Artaxerxes is a different king. While I have heard various interpretations that refer to Artaxerxes as a title, there is only one by that name in the Bible. And I have discovered that some people that say that seem to have problems with Bible chronology and or higher critical approach to the Scriptures. "

This has got me confused and I was hoping for clarity. Thanks in advance!

Response #1: 

Both Xerxes and Artaxerxes are Greek transliterations of Persian words, and also very common names in the Achaemenid dynasty. These facts, coupled with the additional issues of unspecified chronology for the book of Esther et al., are behind most of the difficulties in attempting to match up the secular historical record with the Bible. The generally accepted secular chronology for Xerxes I and his son Artaxerxes I Longimanus is from 486-465 and 464-424 respectively. Artaxerxes I Longimanus also has a son named Xerxes who ruled only a very short time, and there are other "Artaxerxes" later in the dynasty. This Artaxerxes I Longimanus is the Artaxerxes of Ezra, and this Xerxes I is the Xerxes or Ahasuerus of Esther and Ezra (but not of Daniel 9:1). It is true that there are many secular scholars who feel that the king of Esther must be a later king; others find fault with seeing Xerxes as the king of Ezra. But there is no solid reason in my view (beyond regarding the Bible suspect, which is, needless to say, an incorrect assumption) to doubt that we have the same Xerxes, Xerxes the first (486-465), in both books. Secular history of the ancient world is problematic because the record is far from complete, very complicated, and not without significant error. So it is somewhat ironic when people put more faith in the flawed secular record than in the inspired biblical record. That is at least something which believers should never get trapped into doing. Please see the following related links:

Secular Documentation for the Exodus.

The so-called "documentary hypothesis".

The relationship between the books of Kings and Chronicles.

More on the Documentary Hypothesis

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:   

Hello Again Bob,

I wonder if you saw the debate on Nightline last week between Ray Comfort and some atheist group (a guy and a woman). The video is on the internet and that's where I saw it. If you indeed saw it, my question to myself and you is this: would Jesus have done this?

Response #2:  

I didn't catch the debate, but found a story about it on the net. By "would Jesus have done this?", I suppose you mean get involved with an apologetic debate with unbelievers. That is a hard a question to answer, and, frankly, I have always been bothered by the overall question and its movement, WWJD? (i.e., "What would Jesus do?). That is for a number of reasons, all of which I will not go into here, but all of which have to do with the fact that neither we nor our circumstances can truly be compared to our Lord except in the most general way, and such questions by their very nature call for very specific answers (i.e., projecting our Lord into situations where of course He did not find Himself and because of His specific role in the plan of God as Savior of the world would not find Himself). Suffice it to say that the general answer to this question is always "Jesus always did exactly what His Father wanted Him to do". This is the same standard we face today, namely, we should always do what our Lord wants us to do. What that means, of course, is that to be perfect we have to know His will perfectly, and that requires a tremendous amount of time spent in the scripture personally and through substantive Bible teaching, prayer, and the applying of His truth to our lives over many years (cf. Col.1:10-12). Even so none of us is capable of being perfect in this (but we are all capable of getting better in this).

Just as none of us are Jesus, none of us are identical. God's will is different for each one of us. It is certainly true that there are specific things we are not to do (i.e., sin), and other things which are not profitable for us to do even if they may be permissible; so too there are, at least in general terms, things we should do (i.e., growing spiritually and helping others to do the same through the ministries the Lord assigns). As Christ's Church, we have quite a bit a freedom and quite a bit of flexibility about how to approach these matters – that is a wonderful thing, but of course it inevitably leads to abuse on the one hand and ineffectiveness on the other when we fail to put the Bible first in our approach. We are all responsible for everything we think, say and do, by commission and omission. I have never been a fan of apologetics, which is not to say that such activities are either unnecessary or improper, only that having avoided the deliberate or professional practice thereof I'm not really in a position to critique others who do so. Of course through spiritual growth we all should know how to respond to unbelievers et al. in appropriate circumstances when the issue of Christ comes up (Col.4:6; 1Pet.3:15). But I am often bothered by what high-profile Christians say on television and in the public forum generally, mainly I suppose because in this country it is impossible to divorce such activities from politics and I am very skeptical of Christian involvement or obsession with politics (as there are no political solutions, only divine solutions). No doubt such exchanges have a purpose. God does use us even in our imperfection and even when our service is imperfect. Clearly, we should strive to perfect our own ministries and increase the quality of our own service, but that is something that is between us and the Lord. And that is really the main point I should like to make: we need to be concerned to do better ourselves (Matt.7:1-5) and let the Lord handle our brothers and sisters if there is any question about our right to intervene (Rom.14:4). Generally speaking, intervention is only really appropriate in cases of gross sin or gross ignorance, and only when the person concerned responds to our overtures of help (Jas.5:19-20; Jude 1:23).

I hope this is of some help – feel free to write back about this especially if I'm not addressing your real concern through not having seen the program myself.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:    

I just wanted to let you know how blessed I have been by your website over the past

few weeks. I've been reading from it regularly, and have come across tons of things, especially in the email questions that you answer, that I find very relevant to my spiritual life as of late. Being in a secular university for the past three years and studying religion, I've, unsurprisingly, run into people and ideas that contradict and test my faith. I'm sure you've been in the same situation throughout your educational and teaching careers. Especially in the past year, I've discovered the immeasurable worth of reading the scriptures habitually and prayerfully, and this of course

has helped me enormously to guard my heart. I've felt convicted to become knowledgeable about the Bible and about Christian history. I also feel like it's my responsibility to be knowledgeable about things that seek to cloud the validity of the Bible and Christianity. So, in my classes and in my own studies, I've read the Bible and non-canonical writings with the intent to know more about God and grow closer to Him. There are times when I have questions that seem to have no good answer, but I'm always supplied with one. I read somewhere on your website about realizing that the Bible is different than any other book ever written, and that it is evident to anyone who reads it that it is divinely conceived. I would completely agree that I believe it is evident that the Bible is divine and unique and authoritative. But I come across people, like one of my professors I have this semester, who has studied the Bible his whole life, and sees it as a completely human book that is full of errors. How do you account for that? Do you think that my aspirations are worthwhile, from a spiritual point of view? I know that I read in one of your email responses that

you don't think that "proofs" of canonicity are important, except to reassure new Christians that the Bible is a sound book. But I feel like it is important, especially in this day and age of the "DaVinci Code" and the "Tomb of Jesus" and other, more scholarly things that seek to undermine the Bible, to be able to answer those faulty claims knowledgeably and faithfully. So many of my friends who are or aren't Christians just don't know enough about those sorts of things, so that

when they hear that "the Secret Gospel of Mark says that Jesus was gay" or "Jesus never claimed to be God", their faith or their respect of Christianity diminishes. So don't you think that society needs more defenders of the faith in the scholarly field? Also, I think I realize the danger that I could get into. I want to be smart, but I don't want to become a Pharisee. How have you dealt

with that? I admire the division that you use that you described on your website, that the website is a tool for spiritual growth, and is separate from your scholarly endeavors. But on thing that has always been a problem for me is: how do you keep your brain from getting in the way of your heart? There's a place for knowledge and there's a place for faith, and I think that sometimes I get them confused.

Thanks, so much,

Response #3:

I do want to encourage you in all these matters. Your experiences are very typical of anyone in academia who is determined to walk worthy of the Lord. I certainly had a number of professors who were not only not Christians (that, of course, is by far the rule as you no doubt know), but who were very disparaging of the whole idea of anything spiritual. Inevitably, they were the ones with the "biggest brains". Personally, I've always been tempted to feel sorry for people like this. With all the talent and opportunity they have, they could produce a fine crop for the Lord and gain a wonderful eternal reward for themselves in the process. But of course there is no basis to feel sorry for anyone who has, in Paul's words, "not deemed yourselves worthy of eternal life" (Acts 13:46). We all make our own decisions. And of course, beyond that, the biggest human brains are pathetically small. They may be big enough to push themselves into such arrogance that they come to think they actually know something important, but with the sheer size of the universe, the knowable, and the likely size of the unknown, whatever "knowledge" they could ever control is infinitesimally small. Not only that, since it is devoid of spiritual content it is not really of much value anyway (except in the very short run to those who do not really "get it"). So I want to reassure you that no matter how gifted, intelligent, or knowledgeable some of the people you meet might seem, there is nothing that can compare with the truth – and the truth is available to anyone and everyone who truly wants it.

I suppose that is part of the reason why I have never been much interested in apologetics. Another part is, no doubt, a general lack of interest. Since I started out on this course many years ago, I have wanted to know God's truth personally, and have wanted to be able to share it with those who likewise desired it. As a result, I have never been much interested in trying to convince those who are not interested in hearing in the first place (pearls before swine, you know). But there is most certainly a place in the Church for those who are willing to seek out people at home and abroad who don't already have a relationship with Jesus and lead them to Him (evangelists, missionaries), and also a place for those who wish, like you, to defend and explain the truth for the sake of unbelievers and doubting believers both (cf. Jude 22-23). My own particular calling has been to an area that I find much neglected in the contemporary church-visible, namely, substantive teaching of the Bible. But we all have our own gifts. It may well be that your present experiences and the desire you feel to engage in this sort of activity is a prompting from the Spirit. As we grow in Christ, we become more and more aware of where our gifts lie, and where the Lord would have us employ them.

Apologetics would certainly be a noble calling. And I am talking here specifically about the practical rather than the academic use of this gift, as, for example, in the case of Stephen whose debating with those who opposed the truth was irresistible. Of course we all know what happened to Stephen. Thus I would say that if I were in your situation and became convinced that this was where my gifts and calling lay, I would want to get absolutely as much preparation as possible. First, it seems to me that a good apologist should know the scriptures inside and out – not just what they say, but what they mean. That would go hand and hand with solid, personal spiritual growth. Second, I would think a very sound grounding in archeology, math, science – in whatever area the person feels called to contend – would also be important. There are plenty of books on these subjects, of course, but I haven't actually ever heard too many people who could silence the opposition in the manner of a Stephen – with simple, irrefutable truth.

So don't throw away this conviction of yours – it leads to a great reward. You need to keep persevering so that you may carry off in victory what has been promised – after you have accomplished God's will.
Hebrews 10:35-36

I will certainly keep you in my prayers in all this. 

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

This was just emailed to me. I have no idea where these numbers came from, but do you think they are accurate?

Estimated Proportion of Each Generation Professing Faith in Christ

Generation Name/ Birth Years/ Percent

Builders 1910-1945 65%

Boomers 1946-1964 35%

Busters 1965-1976 15%

Bridgers 1977-1994 4%

Post Modern 1995-???? ?

Response #4:   

I have no idea. What is this person's source? People do surveys of this sort of thing from time to time, and it would be interesting to know how large the sample was, what the exact question(s) was (were) etc. Anyway, many people call themselves "Christian" without really having a meaningful personal relationship with Jesus. Personally, while I would certainly affirm low numbers (don't know how low) for upcoming generations, I'm not so sure I would affirm such large numbers (especially not 65%!!!) for older generations (I know too much about them). It may be that this is a survey of "cultural Christians" rather than born-again believers in Jesus.

If you can find out the source of the survey, I'd love to hear it.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

 Dear Dr Luginbill

I hope you are fine sir? Thank you for promising to keep me on your prayer list. Sir do you have any study material on ichthys which could help me argue against the LAW OF KARMA? Its an Hindu belief that whatever you sow in your previous life so u reap in your present. Sir we know that the Bible teaches that there is only one life and after that we are judged, but I cannot quote something from the Bible and convince a Hindu. Sir the devil is really taking advantage of these beliefs such as Rebirths and the law of karma, because according to the law of karma a man is punished for his sins on earth itself. In other words the quality of our present life depends upon what we did in our previous life. Sir, because of this law of karma, people have no fear of hell and the worst thing is they really don't need the sacrifice of our dear lord Jesus Christ. Any help would be appreciated

Thank you so much for the Peter Series. its really helping me a lot

Response #5:  

Always great to hear from you. Arguing against false beliefs and trying to convince those involved in false religions of the error of their ways is usually termed "Apologetics" (and secondarily includes "Evangelism"). In the course of this ministry, I do from time to time become involved in such matters, but that is not the purpose or the focus of this ministry. My "job" is to teach Christians who want to grow closer to Jesus the truth whereby they may do so. I can recommend an excellent site for this sort of thing, however: Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. "CARM", as it is called, has many helpful articles on all such topics. Here is one which you might find of interest: I believe in reincarnation, so why do I need Christianity? If you sign up for the site, there are many message boards where you can discuss these issues with other Christians too, for example. I know one of the moderators and it is pretty good stuff.

Now in attempting to answer your question, let me say up front that I have limited knowledge of the Hindu religion. What I do know, however, and this is a very important point, following Jesus to eternal life is never a matter of "information". Many Christians, especially new Christians but also many older ones who really ought to know better by now, are under the mistaken impression that if the truth is just presented to an unbeliever in the right way, that person will be saved. That is far from being true. We are most definitely called to share Jesus Christ – but not with those who are obviously hostile to the very idea of Him. Jesus told us to acknowledge Him before men, but He also told us to be wary of casting our pearls before swine. The world is filled with swine, that is, unbelievers who have willfully chosen to reject having any sort of relationship with the true God. They didn't need to know about Jesus to reject Him. They had no inclination whatsoever to know about the true God regardless of the consequences of unbelief and the marvelous blessings of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Every human being at some point in their life – usually at a very young age – becomes aware from the way God has constructed the universe and because of the way that God has made them – that there is a God and that He is both merciful and just. Those who respond to that information have been, in the history of the world, amazingly few. Most people just want to be left alone to live their lives – without God. Because of cultural issues, they will engage in ritual religion as part of the texture of life, but they really do not know God nor want to know God. Some are even adamantly hostile to Him for a variety of selfish and self-centered reasons and actively deny His existence (atheism) or join forces instead with the adversary (paganism). But in no case is any of this behavior accidental; in no case does it flow from "lack of information". In every single case in human history, any human being no matter the restraints of geography or time or poverty or any other earthly circumstance has every failed to receive all the truth about God and His Son our Savior that they really wanted.

This doesn't mean that God doesn't use people – He does. This doesn't mean that a Christian should sit on his/her hands and never share the gospel – of course we should. It does mean that 1) we should relax and understand that no one's salvation depends upon us: it depends upon Go and upon the response of the person in question to God, a loving and merciful God who will never let that person down if they are willing to receive Jesus, and 2) when we minister we should minister God's way not our way.

In regard to point two, there are many things to say. The first thing to point out is that God uses prepared people. If I were training an army, I would never enlist a company of privates right out of civilian life on Monday and then parachute them into a combat zone on Tuesday; they need extensive training before they can hope to have a chance facing the enemy. The same is true of Christianity, and much more so in fact. Ministry, especially if it is to be coordinated and consistent, is the fruit of spiritual growth, passing of spiritual tests, and extensive preparation. All three of these stages take time, and while the time frame may very, it is never particularly short in my observation and experience. That doesn't mean we should never do anything until we are spiritually mature, but it does mean that we should put first things first. First we learn, then we do, then we teach. First we grow by learning the truth, then we put what we learn into practice and pass the spiritual testing that comes our way which engenders further growth, then we begin to prepare for the particular ministry to which we have been called based upon our individual spiritual gift(s) and put that ministry into practice when ready.

Naturally, there is overlap. Ideally, we never stop learning, we never stop growing, we continue throughout our Christian lives to pass the tests which continue to come our way, and we may actually have occasion to begin preparation for ministry early in the process as we begin to get a sense of where our gifts and calling lie. But the point to emphasize here is that if we are saved on Monday, God does not expect us to become top-rate evangelists on Tuesday. It is true that He does expect us to "do something", and that our production for Him is not to be held entirely in abeyance until we are completely "ready" years down the road. Nevertheless, there is a right time for everything, and no production we might attempt to engage in now is worth putting our spiritual growth at risk. Growth through learning, believing and applying the truth is the bedrock of the Christian way of life, cannot be substituted for, and magnifies our true production when that comes – exponentially.

On final thought on apologetics. I have never been big on persuading people. When Paul writes to the Corinthians he makes a very emphatic point out of the fact that when he first met them he had gone out of his way not to use the devices of persuasion in which the Greeks in particular excelled:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospelónot with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1st Corinthians 1:17 NIV

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
1st Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV

Jesus is the truth – and that is the truth. If a person is really interested, the truth, pure and simple, is quite enough.

On the other hand, if someone is adamant in their false beliefs, no amount of persuasion will ever suffice. For example, if a person is convinced that the moon is made of green cheese, we may employ every sort of rational argument to prove that this is impossible, improbable, and unlikely in every way. But short of actually transporting said person to the moon to see for him/herself, we are not going to be successful in most cases where this is a "dearly-held false belief". That is because the person did not come to such a ridiculous conclusion in a vacuum. As in the belief in pagan gods, believing the false is an unavoidable human reaction to rejecting the truth. That is to say, just as physical reality has to be rejected first before believing some impossible non-reality (a moon made of green cheese), so in spiritual matters the true reality of God and His Son Jesus Christ have to be rejected before accepting the false and ridiculous pseudo-reality of a pagan pantheon. That is true even in the case of those who have never even heard Jesus' Name, because, as mentioned above, nature itself and our internal nature itself sings that there is a God and tells much about His goodness and grace.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 TNIV

If we reject that truth, the lie will inevitably fill the void left by the natural truth God had placed in us all at birth.

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

So much is this the case that for those who have already made their choice about these matters, even were we to be able to demonstrate the power of God to them by way of miraculous signs and healing in the manner of the apostles of old, they would still most likely not accept the truth (just as so many refused to accept the obvious divine empowerment of those great believers, even rejecting the extraordinary miracles and teachings of our Lord Himself). To put it in terms of our analogy above, if a person has rejected the principles of physical reality to such a degree so as to believe that the moon is made of green cheese, even were we able to give that person a berth on the next moon-shot, and even were they to walk on the moon personally, when they came back they would probably say not "I was wrong", but "It's true – it's green cheese!" With such people there is no profit in argumentation.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith. May our Lord make you as wise as a serpent, even as you remain as innocent as a dove (Matt.10:16; cf. Prov.14:15-16; 14:18; Rom.16:19; 1Cor.14:20).

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Dear Brother Bob,

Your website is now my newly discovered source in learning, knowing, and applying Bible doctrines in my life. I found your explanations and exegesis to be Spiritually-discerned, very detailed, exhaustive, comprehensive, informative and supported with all related Biblical passages.

I would like to be a Bible Study Teacher to conduct Bible Studies at our church (and at another one which I organized and registered), by using your Bible Study Lessons from your website.

I understand that as a believer in Jesus Christ, I am His ambassador on earth and that I should share my faith to others in fulfillment of what is commanded, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man [spiritually mature], unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." (Ephesians 4:13-16, KJV) "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matthew 24:14, KJV)

Which would you recommend for me to start sharing? Is there any preparation you would like me to do? By the way, I have shared your website to my family and Christian friends for them to look at.

Yours in His service,

Response #6:    

First let me say how pleased I am that you are finding these studies helpful for your spiritual growth. It has been my purpose and heart's desire since first initiating this ministry many years ago to aid my fellow brothers in sisters in Jesus Christ in their efforts to draw closer to Him and to be more effective for Him in their daily walk and ministries through the hearing, understanding, believing, and applying of the Word of God. I am also very pleased to learn that you have set yourself to the task of the ministry as well. As Paul says:

This is a reliable saying: "If anyone desires the office of overseer (i.e., pastor-teacher), he is seeking [to do] an honorable work".
1st Timothy 3:1

As I have often said, there is a story that Dr. L.S. Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, once remarked, that if he were planning to go into the ministry, a ratio of ten years of preparation for one year of service would not be unreasonable in his view. Clearly few can commit to such an extensive period of preparation, even if they are starting out relatively young. However I will say that I do not regret, nor do I know of anyone who has set themselves to a genuine Bible-teaching based ministry who regrets a single day, or month, or year, or academic degree of preparation they put in before beginning. In my own case, this ministry would hardly be possible without the extensive educational preparation I was blessed to be able to receive. For while it is true that we are all tools of the Holy Spirit, and that God is capable of using any ax to great effect, even if it is dull, nevertheless it is also true that the Lord honors preparation, dedication, enthusiasm, consistency, humility, and professionalism. And I must confess that the materials you are finding useful hardly seem to me to come from me in great part: I put in the work, but the Lord has produced the results way above and beyond anything I have done or even thought to do.

To answer your question in any sort of helpful detail would require more information. For example, from part of your e-mail it seems that evangelism is a or even the major focus of the ministry to which you are hearing God's voice calling you as you reflect on His Word. That is to some degree a different sort of ministry from a Bible teaching ministry per se. It is true that evangelism (which is of course as you correctly point out a responsibility all Christians share) cannot be separated from the teaching of the Word, at least the basics of the truths necessary to understand the essentials of the good news of the gospel and the introductory truths about Jesus Christ, and it is also true that no good Bible teaching ministry will ever fail to proclaim the gospel as an integral part of what is taught (cf. Paul's admonition to Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist": 2Tim.4:5). But the two ministries are distinct and are generally based upon two distinct spiritual gifts (i.e., that of pastor-teacher and that of evangelist: Eph.4:11). God has no doubt ordained things in this way because the audiences are different. Evangelism's focus is upon the unsaved, while the pastor-teacher's primary job is the edification of believers. My own spiritual gift definitely resides in the latter rather than the former, especially in the teaching end of things, and I have little doubt that I would make a very poor evangelist indeed. But that is of little concern to me since I understand that in the Body there are many parts and I have complete faith that the Lord has mixed us in perfectly so that no gift is lacking.

If there seems to be a lack in any respect, to the extent that that perception is correct, it is entirely because of the failures of individual believers falling short of their ministerial responsibilities rather than on account of any lack of foresight on God's part. My own passion has been since the inception of this journey to help to fill a need I perceived in the Body, namely, the dearth in availability of substantive Bible teaching. There is certainly more than enough room for many more pastor-teachers who put the correct and orthodox exegesis and teaching of the Bible at the core of their ministries. But there is also in my view a crying need for evangelists who proclaim the gospel in its pure and unadulterated form, who make use of the truth of the Word of God as their sword rather than P.T. Barnum-like techniques or applications from commercial mass-marketing. It may of course be the case that you are equally gifted on both counts, and that the specific ministry which the Lord has marked out for you will combine the two. I am certainly happy to give you encouragement and general advice, but the best advice comes from the truth of the Word and the best encouragement comes from the Holy Spirit. As I say, I don't think you'll every regret any course of preparation you are able to avail yourself of, and, though occasionally time-consuming, careful, thorough and professional approaches to the implementation of your specific ministry(s) are almost always going to pay dividends for the Lord as well. None of us is perfect, of course, and between endless planning and preparation which never comes to the point of bearing fruit on the one hand, and a premature, half-cocked and unprepared rushing into things on the other, there is a "sweet-spot" that blends zeal and good groundwork. I certainly have made my share of mistakes, and I wish to encourage rather than dissuade you from what as scripture says is "an honorable work".

Know that I am thrilled to learn of your intent, and will keep you and the success of your ministry(s) in my prayers.

In the Chief Shepherd of the Sheep whom we all strive to please, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Image-of-Jesus-on-a-Salisbury-Steak-TV-Dinner

I saw this on ebay for sale and thought it was kind of ridiculous. Can you make out a face of Jesus on the steak? I can't ...and how does one know how Jesus looked like? What makes people actually believe this? and what makes people actually buy these things?

Response #7: 

That was exactly my question/reaction when I saw the subject line of this e-mail in my box: since no one knows what our Lord looked like, it is ridiculous to think that His so-called "image" anywhere would be a divine occurrence. As to what people will believe, well, they believe evolution and many people have even convinced themselves in spite of undeniable divine information to the contrary implanted in their consciences and written in creation that there is no God! Not only that, of course, but during the Tribulation not many years hence even many today who call themselves Christians will follow the beast to their own destruction (see the link: the Great Apostasy). I guess the bottom line is that when a person rejects the truth and is not diligently seeking the Lord, there is no limit to the folly that person is capable of believing.

In Jesus who is the truth,

Bob L.

Question #8:   

I've asked this before along the same lines. You had told me before that we should be closest to the truth as possible and farthest away from it but with love. I had told someone that and he wrote:

"You always have some excuse for why someone stands where they do, but it is never heresy or false teaching, it is just their "honest interpretation" of the Bible - no right or wrong, no black or white - all opinions of equal value. But that mindset just does not line up with what the Bible says. No, ANYTHING DOESN'T GO in Christendom."

What do you think of what he wrote?

Response #8:  

Jesus told us "by their fruits you will know them". To me this means that rather than trying to judge an individual teacher from one pronouncement, especially when the nature of that pronouncement is not necessarily heretical, it is better to apply the overall "fruit test" whereby both the totality of the person's teachings and the life that the person is leading are taken into consideration (see the link: "The Fruit Test"). If our Lord's procedure is diligently followed, we may be sure that we are neither committing the one extreme of submitting to "false teaching", nor the other of "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and dumping a good teacher with some warts in place of a slick false teacher who is good at concealing his true agenda.

See also the following links:

Selecting a "cook" (in Pet. #17)

"Read your Bible: Protection against cults"

False Teachers, False Doctrines, and False Christians (in CT 2A)

False teaching during the Tribulation (in CT 3A)

"The Insidious Nature of False Teaching" (in Pet. #27)

False Teaching (in SR 4)

In Jesus, the Good Shepherd of the sheep.

Bob L.

Question #9:    

Hi again Robert!

I've been busy trying to get my life back on the right track. Need your prayers. Well, I'm not trying to strain over gnats, but I was wondering why God is referred to as JAH in Psalm 68:4?

Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and answers!

Response #9:

The Hebrew word "Yah" is a poetic shortening of "Yahweh", similar to "El" and "Elohiym". This form is ubiquitous in Hebrew poetry, the Psalms especially, and, like "El", was the form of choice for making compound names. For example, in the name Elijah, we see both of these short poetic forms: 'My "El" is "Yah"', or "My God is Yahweh/the LORD". I am curious as to what translation you are using, since most translations render "Yah" as "Lord" or "LORD".

I do hope you are making progress in "re-tracking" and will definitely say a prayer for you.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

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