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Confronting False Groups and False Teaching II

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Question #1: 

Thank you again for your quick and detailed response to my query about the Angelica Zambrano thing. You had mentioned how such things seem to start out mostly scriptural sounding, but then starts to deviate. Well, there was a SECOND episode where Angelica supposedly had a visit from Jesus, and it started getting a bit weird. Like someone going to hell because they did not pay their tithe. And another item I found to be odd was where she was told that each believers' mansion was being constructed in Heaven according to that believers' work on earth for the Kingdom of God. Some had big mansions, others had partly finished mansions because they had not done the work Jesus wanted, and such like. She has since come out with a THIRD "revelation", but not being a connoisseur of misery, I am not reading it.

Response #1:  

That is very interesting and quite in line with what I would expect. Your report about the tithing is particularly informative. It won't be long until this person has a ministry that accepts just such donations (if such is not already in place). One final word on that. Yes, we may have a "mansion" in the New Jerusalem, but it is worth noting that the word translated "mansion" in the KJV of John 14:2 is the Greek mone, and means merely "a place to stay" – it is only in contemporary English that the English word has picked up the connotation of some place palatial in nature. I fully expect things in the New Jerusalem to be wonderful beyond our present ken, but it is not for no reason that the Bible tells us far less than we would like to know about these matters. Our Lord wants us to be motivated by the truth and a genuine desire to please Him and be rewarded by Him, and not on the basis of greed related to this physical world.

Question #2: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Passing this on. http://www.sacredassembly.com

Blessings!

Response #2: 

I'm all for prayer. I'm always a little leery of mass events, however. That is because they often have ulterior purposes which may not be obvious at first glance. Websites cost money, take organization and effort – how much more group events where permits are required along with other time and personnel-intensive activities such as in this case. I noted with some misgivings that the announcement on this page says all sorts of great-sounding things, and yet nowhere on this link was I able to discover where this group (?) came from or what the genesis of the idea was or who is involved, etc. Christians are supposed to be innocent as doves, but also wise as serpents. People may not agree with all or much or even any of the things I post at Ichthys, but at least they know who is posting it, why I am posting, where I have been and where I am "coming from". I think that is essential in any genuinely Christian activity. I tried to find out more on the internet, but was unsuccessful; very disturbing. There appears to be a connection with a Grace Chapel in the area – at least links and similarities of websites suggest the same. If so, color me even more disturbed. That entity's "what we believe" page doesn't even mention Jesus Christ. Also, the Grace Chapel site said that the "theme" of the "sacred assembly" this year was to counter "false teaching in the Church". Let the record show that I stand four-square against false teaching. Trouble is, they didn't give any indication of what they think false teaching is. Since this seems to be a charismatic organization, they would no doubt think that my teaching that all believers have the Holy Spirit (which I know to be biblical: cf. Rom.8:9b) was a false one.

The closer we get to the end times, the more prudent believers are going to need to become. I could well be way off base here, but my "radar" went off when I looked at this and researched it, and so far I have no reason to turn off the alarm. I am all for praying with fellow believers. I'm not, however, too sympathetic when people with an agenda try to take advantage of my Christian innocence to further their own aims (I am in a "fool me once, maybe even two or three times but eventually I get wise" mode here). All cults begin with a generic and godly sounding appeal, and only let out some of the nastier details once the hook is set.

I could be totally wrong about "Sacred Assembly". I certainly hope so. Then again, why can't I make this determination from the materials they have chosen to reveal?

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I share your concerns about this gathering, as I too, could find little to nothing about who is promoting this. It is one of those "sounds too good to be true" kind of things, and the lack of disclosure is highly suspect. I did, however, manage to find an email address associated with the website and have written to them asking for transparency. I will forward to you whatever they offer.

I can't be certain if the genesis began with Grace Chapel. Oddly, I did find a mention Jesus Christ under their heading of "Our Vision and Purpose", rather than "What We Believe," as seen below.

"Our Vision

To be Passionate Christians…

Who love God and love people always

Who learn and live the Christian faith consistently

Who serve others with humility and kindness, presenting a compelling case to the world to trust in Christ alone as Savior

Our Purpose

To worship the true and living God and His son Jesus Christ with the entirety of our lives

To disciple the believer with life-transforming, uncompromising biblical truth

To evangelize the lost through friendly, personal relationships and dynamic corporate outreach

To glorify God in all we do and say"

This is a charismatic church. Out of curiosity I decided to watch the video of their last service. It was entitled 'Revive Us Again - Return to First Love.' You may view it on their home page, http://www.gracechapel.net/home

This is a very clear example of how the quicksand of emotionalism swallows well-intentioned believers and seekers. The pastor misinterprets scripture and Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians to suggest (in his words) that like the Ephesians, modern Christians have sacrificed the heart connection with Christ in favor of Christ's "creed" or "precepts." He feels that most Christians have deadened their relationship with Christ through their attachment to and overemphasis of precepts and doctrine. This is a slippery slope. He uses the terrible example of the need to return to the falling-in-love-honeymoon-all-is-bliss love phase of relationship with Christ that somehow is supposed to revive a passion gone stale. This reeks of the countless therapists who recommended that couples read pornography' to revitalize their sex lives. There is no mention of the stabilizing force of God's Word that binds us to Him as we mature in our relationship with His Word.

There is no return to the "enchanted forest" and it is delusional and false to suggest that the incitement of such passion is grounds for any type of mature and lasting relationship with our Lord and His Word. Perhaps keeping their congregants on an emotional roller-coaster is how these charismatic churches survive. Sadly, true discernment is nonexistent, and it is only by binding ourselves to God's Word every single day that we develop discernment. From kingjamesbibleonline.org:

1 John 4:1 - Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Philippians 1:9-10 - And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment;

Hebrews 5:14 - But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The two verses from Hebrews underscore the importance of the discernment and reason that blind passion lacks. Without the sword of discernment wielded by God's Word, the immature believer may be misled into thinking that a perpetual emotional high is necessary for sustaining relationship with Christ and His salvation. If indeed Grace Chapel is promoting this as a hidden agenda for the Sacred Assembly, I certainly have no interest.

Thank you again for your voice of reason and discernment!

In His Grace and Peace,

Response #3:  

Very good, stuff!

You are certainly very solidly grounded, and your observations are right on the money.

Thanks for doing the leg work here!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

How do you feel about this website?

http://kingdomwarriors.com/beliefs/

Response #4: 

I make it my policy never to pay any serious attention to any website where the group / individual refuses to identify himself / themselves, or list their qualifications, or provide any meaningful background.

I do know a bit about website building. I am sure that you could put together a site that was more professional looking than the one you ask about in about a week using Go-Daddy and spending less than twenty dollars.

The proof is in the pudding, but if we don't even know the name of the pudding or what's in it, it is best not to partake (especially if it smells funny).

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Bob,

You are the right person to answer this question for me. I have read that the paleo Hebrew Aleph Tav has a significance, I was excited to find this website but disappointed when another enlightened man was against it: http://www.alephtavscriptures.com/2013/07/

Look forward to your take on this.

Warm regards

Response #5:  

Good to hear from you. I'm sorry to have dampen your enthusiasm too (apologies). I'm certainly not an expert on this particular variation of mystical interpretation, but what I can say is that there is nothing here for believers in Jesus Christ. First, there is no interpretative significance to be gained from the original forms of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The entire point of having an alphabet (as opposed to a syllabary as in the case of, say, Akkadian) is to reduce the number of signs necessary to read and write. A Babylonian scribe would need to know somewhere around 5,000 symbols to be literate: a Hebrew lad or lass only had to learn 24 (26 for us in English). If every letter had some additional significance, this would make Hebrew entirely inaccessible to all but a very learned few. But one thing is very clear: Hebrew cannot both mean what it means according to its spelling and mean something else based upon symbolism having to do with the original pictograms behind the letters – signs which, by the way, were no longer in use when most of the Old Testament was written (at least). If our God were trying to hide the truth from us, that would be a very effective way of doing so. But we believers know that we are supposed to love and desire and learn and live the truth – something that must have been possible (at least) before this supposed mystery was "discovered" a few years ago.

Secondly, the "Aleph-Tav" part is equally nonsense. These two letters constitute in Hebrew the direct object marker. That is to say, when a verb points to an object, and that object is definite, then 'eth will more often than not be placed in front of that object as a help to let the reader (or listener) understand that this is the object (rather than the subject or indirect object, e.g.). This allows Hebrew a measure of flexibility in word order that it might not otherwise have. For example, one can place the object first, verb second, subject last, without the confusion that would result in English (which is and S/V/O language), where "pizza eats man" would be real news (but writing 'eth-pizza would let us know that it is the pizza which is eaten, not the man, in spite of the fact that the pizza comes first – if we had this sign and consequent flexibility in word order).

It is also well to ask, if there were any spiritual significance to the use of this particle, why then would it only be attached to direct objects which are definite? Also, why would it be present so infrequently in poetry, Psalms, for example? The truth in the latter case is that poetry is more compact in its expression and often omits things in all languages, Hebrew included. But if this marker were spiritually significant, one would think that the poetic parts of the prophets and Psalms, for example, would have it more frequently (rather than almost never).

So I'm afraid I have to say that this is yet another one of those wacky, semi-cultic, numerology-like fads that are becoming ubiquitous in our day as we see the end approaching. I wouldn't feel bad about getting drawn in, if I were you. These sorts of tricks are specifically designed to appeal to curious believers without specialist training (the devil is good about this type of thing). Instead, consider yourself "inoculated". As we say, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice . . ."

Here are a couple of links which may also prove helpful:

Cults and Christianity III

Cults and Christianity II

Cults and Christianity I

Cults and Christianity IV

"Inoculation" to Cult Influences

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hello again. I pray all is well.

In Biblical times, what was the significance of pagans offering idols human sacrifice? From a Christian point of view I can see and understand that God's justice would require that sin be met with a price, hence the reason Jesus died. However, on the other side, why were some cultures participating in the practice of human sacrifice to idol gods?

Thanks as always

Response #6: 

Hello Friend,

It's an interesting observation. There is no telling with absolute precision how and why the devil is administering his world and implementing his strategy of deception. It seems clear enough from a study of human history, however, that while Satan has some overarching strategic principles, tactically he uses all manner of means, many of which seem potentially counter-productive. Two things come to mind, speculatively speaking, on this issue: 1) it mimics the true sacrifice of Christ but by putting the most horrific sort of spin on it, so that no one who sees a parallel (where there is of course no true parallel) is going to be inclined to look favorably on biblical sacrifice which points to Christ's death for the sins of all mankind (leading adherents farther away from the gospel); 2) there is also the principle that making people pay a large price for something has a tendency to cement their loyalty. I have no doubt but that adherents of Scientology owe at least some of their loyalty to that ridiculous cult to the fact that they must pay such large amounts of money for the "secret writings", with the price of commitment (personal as well as monetary) ascending at every stage.

Human beings have a tendency to want to work their way into heaven, so that anyone who proclaims a steep and difficult way will automatically gain a hearing in the eyes of many who feel themselves exceptional and are turned on by the challenge. And once a person has sunk a good deal of time, money and exertion into a religion or cult, that "price already paid" exerts a tremendous gravity keeping them in the cult – lest they have done "all that sacrifice" in vain. We see this also in all manner of cults where the leader makes the adherents cut off relations with their families, quit their jobs, give all they own to the "church" and move to the wilderness of Montana . . . where the cult leader can then began all manner of additional exploitation without prying eyes. The fact that such things are so frequent and with people who have been suckered in persevering even sometimes until death (i.e., Jones-town), only speaks to the effectiveness of the technique. I can think of no greater sacrifice than that of one's own child. Once a person has paid that price, how likely are they to ever admit it was a mistake? Hence the devil's use of that severe sacrifice in pagan religions to cement the bond between the enslaved adherent and the satanic cult.

But our Savior offered Himself freely on our behalf, and He offers eternal life to all who want it free of charge – because no one can work for salvation, but it is freely offered to all who accept the Gift of Jesus Christ.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 21:17 NIV

In the Name of the One who died for us that we might live forever with Him, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #7:  

This makes a lot of sense! And it helped me to realize that a lot of what's behind peoples irrational behaviour is pride and vanity. If we accept God's free gift offer of salvation, it would entail us to humble ourselves. It seems to me that the humble can not boast, unless they boast in the one who gave them the gift.

Thanks as always

Response #7:  

Amen!

Question #8: 

Dr. Luginbill,

Wow. My first impression upon reading this...the author has created his own splintered frame; a messed-up paradigm to which he so vociferously objects and condemns, particularly as conveyed in the last paragraph re: the Bible. Yeah, we all get the toxic elements in religion. They are playing out in violent ways in every nation, every day. But this guy throws the baby out with the bath water.

The crazy-making in Christianity: Religion’s cycle of self-doubt and self-punishment

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/27/the_crazy_making_in_
christianity_religions_cycle_of_self_doubt_and_self_punishment/

Thank you again for your mediating voice of reason.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Response #8: 

Good to hear from you – hope your Thanksgiving was blessed as well.

This is a typical case of a straw-man argument. If you are against someone/something, first define that someone/something in a noxious way that almost anyone would find offensive, then you will have little trouble knocking it down. The trouble (for this person) is that the truth cannot be knocked down. What this individual has done is to put forward his personal assessment of Christianity rather than to deal with what Christianity actually "is": a relationship with Jesus Christ. To be fair, most of the offensive and easily assailable characteristics ascribed in this article to Christianity generally can be found somewhere in one of the major groups, churches or cults which purport to be Christian. To find fault, even the worst of these never embraces all of the lamentable behaviors recorded here. Surely this person understands that. This is more political rhetoric than it is religious commentary (so nothing to be concerned about).

Yours in Him in whom we have life eternal through His death on our behalf, Jesus Christ our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #9: 

1) Is Christianity a religion? I've seen on your site that is not a religion but a relationship. But then you say false religions and true "religion" which seems to assume that it is. Scripture even talks about true religion but its definition seems to imply that all religions are true since many religions give to the poor and care for widows.

2) There's this video of a man talking about why he hates religion but loves Jesus and I'm wondering if you would agree with him because this sounds like nothing but works salvation.

Response #9:  

I would say it all depends upon how a person defines "religion" (the word used in James 1:27, threskeia, means something more like "reverent worship" rather than "religion" in the sense we are using it here, even if that is the most common translation in the versions). I use the word "religion" in the sense of man-made systems which are not truly responsive to the One True God, and which find salvation in various works rather than "by grace through faith". The video you link to is cliche-filled rather than expository and we never get a definition of what the person thinks "religion" is. My point in using the word and saying that true Christianity is a relationship, not a religion, is to point out the truth that we who truly belong to Jesus Christ are His "by grace through faith" irrespective of the worldly trappings of churches, rituals, clergy etc. Some of these "denominations" may be Christian in truth, more or less, and may have Christians in them (more or less), but those who are believers are so because of a choice to rely on the work of our Lord on the cross, rather than because of the external features most people think of when the use the word religion – and rightly so when thinking of anything else other than the genuine Christian faith.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hi Bob,

First of all, I must begin by stating that I clearly do not advocate false religions, but much like how (in every way!) samples can give a doctor valuable information about the health of a patient, the production of the types of false religions can give an observer valuable information about the moral health of society.

With the exception of the Canaanites, Tyre, and a few other totally depraved societies, most false religions produced adherents that were mostly functional in society. The Zoroastrians, Ancient Greek Paganism, Roman Religion, and a few others, while they obviously were filled with lies, nonetheless did not cause its adherents en masse to sell all of their possessions, to commit suicide, or to outright brainwash.

This is absolutely remarkable, because, in contrast to today, the first thing that comes to mind for everyone who hears the phrase "new religion" are, in fact, its adherents en masse selling all of their possessions, committing mass suicide, or outright mind control.

In my opinion, the collective loss of the ability for humanity to create a "normal" false religion is the strongest piece of observational evidence that we are living close to the last days.

Sincerely,

Response #10: 

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. Here are some links on that:

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

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

p.s., our friend has a new post:  "Science and the Supernatural"

Question #11: 

Hi Bob

I hope I find you well. What do you think of the practice of spiritual fathers? Most charismatic churches have this concept and they base it on fact Paul would refer to Timothy as his son. I just find it rather disturbing especially given the extent to which the spiritual father will then go in controlling their spiritual children. Is this a topic you have covered before in your studies and what are your thoughts on the matter.

I have not been in contact much lately but I keep following your studies and God has revealed himself to me through them. I confess my whole relationship with God has changed very much since I started these studies some 7 years ago. I keep praying for you and such others with your zeal for I am now convinced the very existence of our worship in its purest form depends on such ministries.

Rgds

Response #11:  

Good to hear from you! And thanks much for your positive and encouraging comments. The Word of God changes everyone – everyone, that is, who believes and puts into practice the truth they have received. We are of the number who have truly built our houses on the Rock, the living Word of God.

Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them (i.e., believes and applies them), I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
Luke 6:47-48 NASB

The truth works for us and on us and in us – when we accept it as true:

And because of this we also give thanks to God continually, because, when you received the word of hearing from us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it really is, the Word of God – the very Word which is at work inside of you as you believe it.
1st Thessalonians 2:13

As to your question, your understanding of this problem is exactly correct. There is no true scriptural basis for taking a term of endearment and respect and turning into a legalistic regime of cult-like interference in the lives of other believers. It is for this very reason that our Lord warned us not to give such titles to those who teach and guide us (Matt.23:8-10), i.e., not because it is wrong to appreciate genuine help, but because taken too far excessive veneration always leads to abuse (as in the case you report).

When we stand before the Lord on that great day to come, we will be evaluated for everything we did: for our own thoughts, decisions, words and actions. Free will is the most important thing; that is essentially what faith is, i.e., using the image of God we have been given to respond to the Lord, believing what He tells us and following through on the truth we have believed. But if we hand our free will and our faith over to someone else, how is that possibly beneficial? It would be wrong, even if the person in question were sinless and omniscient – and all such "spiritual fathers" merely by being human would have to fall far short on both counts. The fact that they have agreed to enter into such an anti-grace activity contrary to virtually everything the Bible teaches (because we are to put our faith in God and His truth, not in men) guarantees that this activity will destroy any chance for spiritual growth among those who sign on and hand over their will to someone else. That is, after all, the quintessential definition of a cult: giving up to someone else our own spiritual common sense and ability, right and obligation we ourselves possess to choose for the Lord in all things, great and small.

No doubt the activity you describe in most cases falls short of what one finds in some of the more pernicious cults; no one in these churches you mention, one hopes, is handing over their house and money, moving to a group-living camp in Montana, and offering up their spouses and children to be abused. Still, it's only a matter of degrees. Legalism may not always devolve into full-blown cult activities, and may not in every case cause the shipwreck of a person's faith, but it is always inimical to true spiritual growth. Here are some relatively recent links on this and related topics which will give you some background.

'Discipling'

Spiritual counselors and 'discipling'

The true biblical meaning of discipleship

Accountability to God

What is a disciple?

Legalism, Past and Present

Legalism, Past and Present II

Combating Legalism I

Combating Legalism II

Combating Legalism III

Combating Legalism IV

Combating Legalism V

Combating Legalism VI

Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my friend!

Bob L.

Question #12: 

I got to ask you a question and this may be way out of your field. I was at a church a while back and I heard people addressing the pastor's wife as first lady. And if I'm not mistaken I thought I heard them addressing her as the spiritual mother of the church and the pastor as the father. Sounds crazy you have any idea why they do this and if you where asked why didn't you address the pastor wife as first lady how would you respond to this . My response was it's not I the Bible plain and simple. Your input if you have anything would help greatly. Thanks

Response #12: 

I know of no scripture that assigns any prominence to a pastor's wife. Judging from what I observed as a child, my mother (a pastor's wife) was humble and loving, and worked about as hard as my dad did – even though she of course received no compensation at all; she had no special title (but treating her with some quiet respect would have been appropriate). As to "father and mother", well, the Pope is the papa of the R.C., that is "Daddy"; and I think any Protestant can judge from that historical example what harm investing a pastor with more respect and admiration than is biblically due can wreak (cf. Matt.23:7-11). As in many areas of Christian application, the best way is the middle way: not respecting a pastor is wrong and problematic, but treating him beyond what is appropriate from a scriptural perspective (e.g., showering him with financial benefits far and away above what the average member of the congregation possesses) can also do great damage. Pastors are human beings; they have egos; if they begin to think too much of themselves, it can result in their downfall – especially if they are looking to the things of this life and not devoting themselves to studying and teaching the Word of God regardless of reception in the pews (which so few today are doing).

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Bob,

Can you shed some light on the Greek Fraternities, origin and purpose and how they are viewed in the church? It seems to me that Christians are to be set apart, not in secrecy of fraternities, but openly walking circumspectly in this world, but not of this world as light for the world. If fraternities are sponsoring community services projects, isn’t that the work of the church through Christian missionaries? I don’t believe that we need this duplicity that also causes confusion and distractions that takes the focus away from the glory of God for some other name association for good works. Most of the fraternal pledging process is secrete and the induction calls for some hazing or ceremonial process. Should Christians pursue other secular identities associated with parallel works of the church? Thanks again.

Sincerely,

Response #13:  

Fraternities have no place in scripture. Whether or not it is wrong for a Christian to join a fraternity is therefore a question of individual application. On the one hand, I don't think there is anything necessarily sinful about officially joining a secular group – the PTA and Boy Scouts do good work and belonging to either of these can be personally beneficially. However, if any activity leads a believer away from Jesus, it is something to be avoided (and we all have different weaknesses). And if any association requires a believer to do something un-Christian or sinful, it is prudent to stay away (obviously). I've never personally seen the need for fraternities or secret societies, or the attraction they seem to hold for many people. Some of the latter are definitely difficult to reconcile with a close walk with Jesus Christ (see the links: "Masons" and "Mason experience"). So I couldn't recommend any such group, but I also can't issue any kind of blanket condemnation. As with many things in this life, where something is not specifically addressed in the Bible, Christians are expected to exercise their spiritual common sense, following the Spirit's leadership based upon the truth of scripture and how that has informed their consciences:

Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be made subject to the authority of anything (i.e., let any behavior compromise spiritual growth).
1st Corinthians 6:12

Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but not everything edifies (i.e., contributes to spiritual growth).
1st Corinthians 10:23

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Thanks Bob,

The insight that you gave is on point and the education to the system of beliefs are the key to participation in any organization, because unlike the PTA, Boy Scouts or some of the other civic associations, the element of secrecy does not exist as with the fraternities. The "Christian" association with any organization that doesn't exude Christian concepts become the issues of confusion. The fact that so many people call themselves Christian for the liberty that they believe God permits, God's name is often associated with the liberty for an occasion to the flesh under the pretense of grace and mercy by the love of God. Many of the fraternities use secret codes in plain view that espouse the teachings of Alistair Crawley who is a Satanist and promoter of the new world order. Many entertainers are a part of this dark work of the Devil that provides entertainment that makes the human blindness of the mind acceptable in this ignorance. The alternative do good organizations can be just the camouflaged breeding grounds that Satan needs to continue his work while the church sleeps on the job. The confusion over the perfect will and the permissive will of God keeps fostering the opportunities for sin to remain a stronghold in human lives. God loves us, but nowhere does God permit himself to justify sin with love. His purpose in giving us love is to free us/save us from sin (exactly what the name Jesus means) not to make allowances for sin. Should we sin that grace my abound? God forbid. Adam didn't reciprocate the love entrusted to him with the liberties in the garden and he failed the love test of obedience to remain true to his created purpose. Every one who calls themselves doing things in the name of Jesus should understand the difference his permissive will and perfect will and remain true to our created purpose. In his permissive will, God allows sinners to go to Hell. In his perfect will, it is not his desire that anyone should be lost. He wants us all to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus for our souls to be saved and that we learn the disciplines to work out our own soul salvation with fear and trembling before him. This is the purpose of the gospel and the first work of the Christian believer by the power of the Holy Spirit who brings this admonition through the church where the people of God should assemble to be reproved, refreshed, edified, revived and recommitted regularly in the power of his might. By the way do you have any contacts within 2 hours of the Virginia, Maryland or Washington, DC area? Thanks again for your time and encouragement. May God for ever bless you to keep standing in the boldness of his truth that cuts across the grain of irrelevant religious traditions. If I should get to Kentucky, I will look you up, but until then I pray that the Lord bless you and keep you.

Sincerely, 

Response #14: 

You're very welcome.

Thanks for your good words (and apologies for not having any recommendations in your area).

Anyone should be careful about the voluntary associations they make and undertake – and especially Christians. It's not a huge step from some of the things some fringe organizations require to being talked into taking a tattoo on the forehead as a way to get ahead.

Yours in our dear Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Hello again! Thank you for the many resources on Universalism. I've downloaded them and will go through them as I have time to do so.

On other subjects, I would like to know your perspective on the following: Replacement Theology, Dispensationalism and Pre-Tribulation Rapture. It appears from what I've read these three appear to be connected to one another, intertwined, so-to-speak. Please refer me to any articles on your website that addresses these subjects.

Also, I have a friend whose brother converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity from Evangelicalism. She had many conversations with him but seems at a lost to do so intelligently as she has limited resources to better understand his position and present a good case otherwise. I would also appreciate any understanding you may have or articles already written on this subject.

In Christ Jesus,

Response #15:  

Good to hear from you, I will give you some other links to the three subjects asked about below; the third one in particular is dealt with in great detail on the site. As to the Eastern Orthodox church, I don't have anything that speaks to that denomination in particular. In my opinion, however, I'm not sure that such would be terribly helpful in any case. Trying to convince adherents of ritual-heavy spiritually-light old line churches of the folly of their ways is very difficult. After all, if they were willing to see that this is no way to seek the truth and a closer relationship with Christ, they would already be gone. That is probably more so the case with someone zealous enough to convert to one of these religions (as opposed to belonging merely because it is a family tradition), especially if said person had an evangelical background. I have noticed this as a trend in our day that seems to be accelerating. The Christians who do this sort of thing seem to me to be looking for props for their faith and think they have found them in the traditions, rituals and "authority" of these churches. On the other hand, it doesn't speak well for modern evangelicaldom that it is producing more and more of these poor souls. Whenever the truth of the Word of God takes a back seat to music, emotional displays, and relationship preaching, well, it shouldn't really be much of a surprise that mere "style points" can attract the lukewarm from pointless point A to pointless point B. After all, it's not really about listing out the formal doctrines that church X possesses versus church Y; rather, it's a question of finding a place where the truth is alive through Spirit-filled teaching of the Word of God to believers who are concerned with pleasing Jesus Christ through genuine growth, progress in testing, and production for the mutual edification of the Church. There is plenty about this subject in general terms and I will throw in a few links for you about this topic as well.

On replacement theology (note - the topic occurs in these postings but is not necessarily the main thrust of any of them; they do contain related issues):

Israelology, Anti-Semitism, Gentiles, Lost Tribes

The Canonicity of the book of Hebrews.

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism IV: Unclean and Impure?

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism.

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security II.

The Gift of Tongues: Part 1.

What is a Biblical Covenant?

On dispensationalism:

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

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church I

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church II

Dispensational Divisions (in SR #5)

The Scofield Reference Bible

Dispensational Differences

On the pre-tribulation rapture:

When is the Rapture?

Parousia

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

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Misplaced Faith in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

On church issues:

Finding a Church – or Something Better?

Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality.

Red Hot or Lukewarm? Bible Teaching versus Sermonizing.

Contemporary Churches and Women Preachers

Fighting the Fight III: False Teaching, Local Churches, and the Truth

Spiritual Growth, Church-Searching and "Discipling"

Mega-Churches, Emergent Christianity, Spirituality and Materialism.

Dysfunctional Churches.

Some Questions on Church Polity.

Assembly of the local church
Church Polity

Salvation and Church Affiliation.

Is Church membership an issue in salvation?

Can you recommend a church?

On legalism:

Combating Legalism VI

Combating Legalism V

Combating Legalism IV

Combating Legalism III

Combating Legalism II

Combating Legalism I

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism IV: Unclean and Impure?

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism III

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism II

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Dear Professor,

I had an appointment with a doctor in a city where I attended my high school and saw a few people, including a priest with whom I used to speak on a regular basis years ago. I knew that he wasn't really interested in the truth and despite creating an image of a humble person, he trusts his judgment, even when it's clearly wrong. Nevertheless, the discussion we had simply stunned me. It turned out that he doesn't actually believe in the scripture and accepts it as only one of the authorities for the Roman Church. He said he believes in the New Testament (again, partially, but to a greater degree than the Old Testament), because in his view there are parts of the Old one which clearly cannot be accepted (he quoted Moses' warfare, Psalm 137:9, among others). He said that the teachings of the Old and New Testament stand in a clear contrast. His statements essentially amounted to a claim that salvation outside of Jesus Christ is possible. He called John Paul a "prophet" and praised him for making a contribution to defeating the Communist system in Poland, a victory which has been only political and definitely not spiritual, as is evident. I was ridiculed for saying that I understood and believed the truth which changed my life (I don't blame anyone who knows my past mistakes well, as he does, for questioning my credibility, after all these years when I've clearly been lost and baptism of the Spirit is not something an unbeliever will ever understand, although I still thought he could have taken me more seriously) and accused of pride because my points stood in direct opposition to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Popes - it is only my own delusion that I should discover something these men didn't. None of this I took personally, but the situation was nothing short of ridiculous when we were sat together with a mutual friend of ours (an unbeliever trying to fight for a good cause by improving the situation of the disabled people and their care takers) and I was defending the scripture, its authority and inerrancy, and he, a priest, was providing arguments against the scripture, the complete ignorance of the plan of God, the superstition, the twisted logic, the pride - simply shocking and very, very sad.

Tomorrow another conversation awaits me - it's the anniversary of my grandfather's death and the family will attend the mass which is offered "for him". All I said regarding free will, there not being a purgatory and the ability for us to pray for salvation of someone who didn't choose it themselves being completely in vain and standing against everything that is said in the Bible (and against logic also, as this is not one of the points where God's logic is beyond our comprehension), have had no effect. My grandmother is a die-hard Catholic who has been telling everyone what they've got to do and I don't expect nice atmosphere tomorrow. It's nothing new though, last year was the same.

I'm trying to use every opportunity to do some study, but even though my normal routine is unsustainable here, this time is clearly stimulating. People are hardened against the truth and lost and this spurs me to do my best and help to bring at least some to salvation.

I read numerous interpretations of Psalm 137:9, with some commentators stating that it presents a prayer which is not validated by God, others seeing it as a prophecy linked to Isaiah 13:16 or a wish for God's justice to come. I would appreciate your view on it.

Professor, I pray for you daily.

In our Lord,

Response #16: 

First, let me thank you for your prayers.

Your conversations and experiences as reported are very interesting. Of course, I'm not present to experience the personal emotional pain that you are feeling (I pray for you). But I do have to say that your reactions, how you are confronting and dealing with these challenges, make me very proud to be your friend . . . and your fellow Christian soldier in the Lord. You are providing a wonderful witness. Even if the effect is not immediately seen, God has a way of using truth to break down every fortress that lies create; He has a reason for all this.

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11 NASB

As to Psalm 137:9, those who, for whatever reason, do not wish to accept the Bible's authority always have some passage in mind that – in their minds only – "proves" its illegitimacy or otherwise exempts them from having to consider it. We believers know, however, that such rationalizations are really only that, and that these self-indulgent types have only leaned on a spider's web for support (Job 8:14). There are difficult passages. Faith searches for answers – only unbelief takes comfort in perceived problems.

It always amazes me that educated and modern western people can be so hypocritical about this sort of thing. In fact, Babylon was destroyed stock and stem – because of its evil and through the direct will and agency of God. Nations and peoples have always been conquering other nations and other peoples, and violence has always been a part of that conquest – so has cruelty. The Israelites who sang this Psalm were given it by divine inspiration as a comfort for what they had themselves recently experienced at Babylon's hand. Many of them had seen their entire people destroyed in a holocaust that, in terms of its percentages of casualties and follow-on effects, was arguably even worse than that brought about by the Nazis. Only a few thousand Jews survived Babylon's eradication of Judea, and the entire country was razed to the ground. Even the temple was burned. There was no swift "day of liberation" wherein the survivors could rebuild in a new place, and wherein the evil-doers themselves were to be personally punished. All that came several generations later when the Persians destroyed Babylon. Note, the Jews themselves did not do any "dashing of infants" to death, and of course we talking about a certain amount of hyperbole here: how many children were actually to be destroyed in that way? Seemingly less than what these people had themselves experienced.

In recent memory we have seen many horrors: the Nazis, the Soviets, Japanese imperialism, Communist China – each of which has done plenty in terms of destruction of innocents. And it is not as if the rest of the world is innocent either. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees, mostly women and children and old men, were incinerated in the Dresden raids of 1945, to no military advantage – and no tears were shed. What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to mention the firebombing of Tokyo? Certainly there were many children among the casualties there too. Of course these were our enemies – but what was Babylon to the Israelites?

No doubt some of the people who cluck over Psalm 137:9 are pacifists, but they are only able to be so because of those who were willing to bleed (and to kill) on their behalf – otherwise they would soon have their own heads dashed on the pavement, along with their children. As the poem goes: "Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight, but Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right".

It is also true, of course, that it is better to have one's brains bashed out as an infant than to grow to maturity and accountability in a pagan country where in all likelihood disbelief (and eternal condemnation) are sure to follow. This sort of argument shocks and appalls most unbelievers, but they don't understand anything whatsoever about the Plan of God (or His grace, or mercy or anything important at all): not a single Babylonian child who did have his/her skull bashed in is presently in hell; rather they are in heaven. Such is the mercy and unknowable depth of the wisdom of our God.

Finally, I can well imagine that most if not every single one of these "cluck-clucking", head-wagging, finger-pointing individuals who find fault with this passage would be screaming for blood if their own children were brutally killed, if they had to live through a similar catastrophe, if their country, their possessions, their loved-ones, their health and liberty and hopes were snatched away by some evil power in such a humiliating way. It's only in the safety of a comfortable arm chair sipping brandy that such opinions can be sustained for long. Would that such people would read a history book or two once in a while. And of course, as unbelievers, they will be calling for our brutal murder in just a few short years when the Great Persecution of the beast begins.

God knows how to comfort His people with just the right comfort. We can forgive our enemies, and yet still be comforted when they get what they deserve at the hand of God (as in Psalm 137:9); balancing those two things is the province of the spiritually mature – but it is precisely for such believers that the Bible is written:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." [i.e., when the Lord "dashes his infants against the rocks"]
Romans 12:19-20 NIV

Wishing you a happy Christmas in our dear Lord Jesus!

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Dear Professor,

I will continue to pray, both for yourself and your close ones. Temporarily I'm myself going through a calm period (which not only could change very quickly, but also has many tests and dangers of its own), but all that went on from the summer of 2013 until the summer this year has equipped me in some understanding of how hard it is sometimes to persevere under trial and what a privilege it is to do the study and engage in spiritual work being unhindered by ailments. So I hope and pray that you recover fully very soon and in the meantime are able to maintain at least some rhythm in your ministry - the fact that through all this Spirit-empowered effort you have entered the productivity phase as a believer has been such a blessing to all your readers, myself included - although maybe this is an opportunity to take some rest also.

It is exactly as you wrote - "Faith searches for answers – only unbelief takes comfort in perceived problems" and all these evils start with a free will decision not to believe and to put one's will above God's. This is the core of the problem, even if those who make this choice wouldn't call it that way. Points you made are not only true in and of themselves, but apply to this particular case also. I thought about writing a reply addressing all these issues, but I have a strong sense that it would be a waste of time, judging by how the conversation went and I am inclined to leave it there. Even during this discussion I felt, to use your phrase, that with such calibre of logic it is hard to know where to begin the discourse, only here not only logic is the problem (although logic also, even despite this priest actually having a degree in mathematics - hardness of heart makes a mockery of intellect), but unbelief and unwillingness to seek, understand and accept the truth. I recently saw a friend of mine whose views I forwarded to you nearly two years ago. I wrote a diligent reply disproving all his false and unbiblical conclusions only to find out that it hasn't triggered any reflection and has effectively been completely ignored. After two years he has only further advanced in falsehood, despite the fact I exposed all the numerous mistakes, logical fallacies and inconsistencies of the world view he constructed. I wrote to him again, as I just couldn't accept that someone could be so blind and could in hypocrisy dare to create an appearance of proceeding in logical manner even though the reasoning is completely flawed. I draw conclusions from these conversations and see where I also can improve - one of the main areas being staying calm when facing extreme hardness of heart, unbelief, hypocrisy and twisted logic.

In that case am I correct to understand Psalm 137:8-9 as a prayer for God's justice to be executed? Could you also clarify the point you make about the link between Romans 12:19-20 and Psalm 137:9?

In our Lord,

Response #17:  

I appreciate your wisdom, my friend, and I do hope that Christmas will turn out to be unexpectedly blessed for you in every way.

Yes, that is how I would describe it. Psalm 137:8-9 is an encouragement to the people of God that they will indeed be vindicated by the Lord, not by their own hand. It is a way of putting understandable and even acceptable indignation into the hands of the Lord. Romans 12:19 quotes the following verse wherein we see the principle of putting all legitimate desire for redress of grievances into the Lord's hands most explicitly expressed:

"It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."
Deuteronomy 32:35 NIV (cf. Heb.10:30)

Thanks for your prayers – you remain in mine day by day always.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hello Robert,

Tell me what is your opinion on Catholicism and the pope?

Response #18: 

This "church" is just another religion practicing salvation by works. I don't think anyone could be saved if they believed what it teaches and practices what it proscribes (whether or not there are Roman Catholic believers is a different question because people often do not really believe/follow what their group officially proclaims . . . but I doubt there are any mature believers in that organization). As to the pope, he is the head of a religion teaching/practicing salvation by works (which makes it unlikely in the extreme that he is saved).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Thank you so much sir Robert!

I will take time to read everything, but as I ran through I haven't found the discussion about the 'Infallibility of the Pope'. Hopefully you can give me some materials about it. Thanks sir. God bless you!

Response #19:  

Forget infallible; I'm not even sure that the pope is saved. As I have often reported, while I remain agnostic about whether a person involved in the Roman Catholic religion can be saved, every escaped R.C. I've ever heard from has pronounced it impossible. I have always acknowledged that if a person believes what that religion teaches, it would indeed seem impossible, since it is a religion of salvation by works. But it is also true that very few adherents of any religion/group/denomination even know all of its teachings, let along believe them all.

What R.C. clergy really believe is therefore also a question only the individual person can really answer. In any case, I'm not much concerned in this ministry with apologetics – it's a noble calling, but it is not mine. So I don't go have it as a goal to de-bunk cults and false religions (there are plenty of others doing this work in any case). For that reason I've never written anything about the subject, but I can tell you that only the Bible is infallible – no human being ever could be so (with the single exception of our Lord).

In Jesus our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

I perhaps should have done a bit more research on Mr. Spong before bringing him up. I must admit that I don't think I quite agree with his views, and again, I guess I just wanted to ask what your take on it was. I don't know if this is misplaced or not, but his 'calling for a reformation' is somewhat unsettling to me. Is this an overreaction, or am I just being cautious?

Response #20: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

As to your question, I wouldn't waste my time with this person. He is, to my knowledge, a universalist, philosophical religionist with an Episcopalian background. Perhaps a person can be born again with such antecedents, but it would seem to be difficult. In any case, I think it is pretty clear that he draws inspiration and, worse, information from non-biblical sources (not to mention treating biblical sources "fast and lose").

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hi Robert

On the Greek word nun, does John 16:5 mean Jesus went to heaven BEFORE the crucifixion?

Thank you.

Response #21:  

Not at all. The Greek particle combination nun de (νυν δὲ) marks a strong contrast between what is about to be said and what has just been said, often translated "but as it is . . .". Our Lord is contrasting what He just said about being with the disciples "from the beginning" and what is about to happen after His ascension to heaven, following His death in the darkness for the sins of the world. If you keep reading in the context you will see that Jesus then talks about the advent of the Spirit which followed the ascension.

Question #22: 

On John 7:34, does it mean you will look for me to learn more about me and to follow me OR does it mean you will look for me to kill me? What does the Greek word for look for of john 7:34 really mean?

Thank you

Response #22: 

As to your question, our Lord was speaking here to the entire crowd at the point where the officers of the chief priests who sent to arrest Him (v.32) had arrived. The intent was to kill Him (vv.1; 19; 25). They were not, of course, allowed to constrain or kill our Lord before the proper time, but these words foreshadow the death He would die on the cross for us all (compare Matt.16:21; 26:2; Mk.8:31; Jn.11:13).

The Greek word for "look" here, zeteo, really means "to search for". After the resurrection, our Lord only revealed Himself to those who were His – and those who were not His were not only unable to find Him, but also (obviously) unable to venture where He ascended after the forty days elapsed (Acts 1:3).

Here's hoping the above is of some help to you – you are welcome at Ichthys any time.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Dear Robert, Thank you.

John 7: I will be with you for a while and then I will go to him who sent me. You will look for me but you will not find me and where I am, you can not come.

They looked for Jesus to kill him but they did not find him because Jesus went to heaven. Why did they look for Jesus? The answer was to kill him. Why did they not find Jesus? Because he went to the one who sent him. He went to heaven. Why could not they come to Jesus where he was? Because they could not go to heaven to kill him. So John 7:32 to 36 is clear evidence that Jesus was NOT crucified. So either Jesus lied or the author lied or Jesus was NOT crucified. It is clear from john 7 that they did not find Jesus because jesus went to heaven. Jesus was NOT crucified. paul did NOT witness (face to face) Jesus' alleged crucifixion. mark did not. luke did not. john did not. matthew did not. I do not even believe they wrote the 4 gospels. I believe the writers of the 4 gospels are all anonymous. The name luke is NOT mentioned in the gospel according to luke. The gospel according to luke never says it was written by luke. The gospel according to matthew does NOT say it was written by matthew. The gospel according to mark does not say it was written by mark. The gospel according to john does not say it was written by john. john 21:24 and 25 were added later.they are not in papyrus 66 nor papyrus 75. regards

Response #23:  

I don't have any problem with the first part of your email, which comes to the same conclusions I shared with you. However, I will state that it says something (something not very pleasant) about a person who approaches a Bible teaching ministry asking a question, one which takes some time and effort to answer in a godly way, when in fact said person already knows (or "thinks" he/she knows) the answer. What could be the godly point of that? Perhaps you can enlighten me. Socrates did that kind of thing, true – but Socrates is in hell.

As to your statement thereafter "So John 7:32 to 36 is clear evidence that Jesus was NOT crucified", with the word "so", you claim that there is some logical connection . . . when in fact there is no connection whatsoever, not even a prima facie one. You are certainly free to make that connection in your own mind, but I dare say that whether you consulted 100 believers or a 100 unbelievers it would be very unlikely that a single one of them would see your logic here. I certainly can't find any.

The problem for your false logic is that, as every Christian and Bible reader knows very well, Christ was resurrected. That is the foundation of the Christian hope, the Christian faith. As Paul says to this point:

And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1st Corinthians 15:17-20 NKJV

Indeed, what would be the point of being a Christian without the resurrection? It is hard to see how anyone who does not believe in the resurrection could be a Christian – or what would be the point in that case. For in that case we who believe would be "most pitiable" indeed, having nothing to look forward to but damnation and/or oblivion.

So if you are a believer, you need to rethink this (big time); if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, the God-man who died for your sins on the cross, then I entreat you to give your life to Jesus by placing your faith in Him so that you may be saved from destruction (please see the link: Salvation: God's Free Gift).

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!
Acts 16:31

It is in hopes of your good response (in either case) that I will spend a moment addressing the remaining concerns you include here:

1) The crucifixion: Suffice it say that anyone reading the New Testament will understand that Christ was crucified; cf. "but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness" (1Cor.1:23 NKJV). In fact, the only way to refuse to believe that Christ was crucified is to refuse to believe the New Testament entirely; it is such a central pillar of the whole that rejecting the NT's testimony on that fundamentally important point is tantamount to calling the credibility of the whole into question. The "new covenant/testament in my blood", as Jesus calls it (Lk.22:20), is the basis for our salvation: without Jesus' sacrifice, there can be no salvation (see the link in BB 4A: "The Spiritual Death of Christ").

2) You may "believe" that the gospel writers are unknown, but your "faith" in your own presumption is not shared by me nor by most Christians nor by the testimony of antiquity. The fact that the titles of the gospels are not original says nothing negative about their originality or lack thereof – the same phenomenon is true of many ancient works of literature: adding titles is generally a later development accomplished to help readers. In fact, in late antiquity there was a cottage industry of pseudonymous works of many sorts, and these generally did have titles and author attributions – precisely to make it seem that they were genuine. There is every indication that John, Mark and Matthew did witness the crucifixion, and that Luke interviewed many witnesses to it (Lk.1:2). Taking the Gospels and the New Testament generally as strictly historical documents, you will find that the consensus of secular ancient history is most certainly that "Jesus of Nazareth" existed and was crucified. Mind you, these unbelievers do not understand that He is the Son of God or attach any spiritual significance to that event of His crucifixion (or to anything else, for that matter), but the books themselves are sufficient testimony to the fact and manner of our Lord's death: simply put, there is no other credible explanation for these books and their content. Your mention of papyri – in fact, any true knowledge of it would point you in the same direction: the fact of the existence of papyri only a few years after the writing of the originals of these books (John in particular) certainly makes falsification by much later generations virtually impossible (the first one you mention, Bodmer 66, dates to as little as a century or so after the original writing of John – not much time there to deceive the entire Church).

I do understand that knowledge of the textual tradition is often disturbing to Christians who hear about such things for the first time, since they lack the perspective of the trained Classicist or professional ancient historian. Those who have studied the matter from that broader perspective understand that the New Testament is by far the best attested and most soundly grounded set of texts that have survived from antiquity. The more one tries to challenge their veracity and support, the more one discovers that God has preserved His book of books in precisely the perfect way so that His truth about the Son of God and the means of salvation might be available to all . . . to all who desire to respond to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

In the dear Lord who bought us with His death on Calvary's cross, Jesus Christ the Righteous,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Dear Robert,

The problem is that you think that I believe that the new testamant is the word of God. The problem is that you think that I believe that paul was a true teacher. You can not even trace one single word from the new testamant back to Jesus' mouth. ALL verses about crucifixion and resurrection, you can NOT trace any of them from any papyrus back to Jesus' mouth because the chain of transmission is BROKEN. For example, you can not trace matthew 12:39 and 40 from Irenaeus to Jesus because the chain from Irenaeus to Jesus is Broken. You can not say that Irenaeus said that jesus said matthew 12:39 and 40 because Irenaeus never met Jesus and you do not know where Irenaeus got matthew 12:39 and 40 from. For example Steve died in 1850 and Richard was born in 1890. If Richard said that Steve made a claim and if Richard never met Steve on the earth and if we do not know where Richard got his info about Steve from,then we do NOT accept Richard's testimony. Irenaeus never met Jesus. Irenaeus never met matthew. Papias did not quote matthew 12:39 and 40. Polycarp did not quote matthew 12:39 and 40. So for these reasons I do NOT believe that Jesus opened his mouth and said matthew 12:39 and 40. But if you say he said it. Please Trace matthew 12:39 and 40 from Irenaeus back to Jesus. I repeat, please Trace matthew 12:39 and 40 from Irenaeus back to Jesus. And matthew chapter 8 and luke chapter 7 Did the centurion himself come to Jesus? Or did he send people to Jesus? I do NOT believe that the phrase (the centurion came to Jesus) in matthew means he sent people to Jesus. I do NOT believe that the phrase (and to the centurion,jesus said go) in matthew means jesus said go to the centuion's people. So did the centurion himself come to Jesus? Or did he send people to Jesus? Matthew 8 and luke 7 The second treatise of the Great Seth says Simon of Cyrene was crucified. Basilideans,an early church group, believed that Simon of Cyrene was crucified. The acts of John says Jesus was not crucified. Matthew 27:17 Whom do you want me to release for you? Jesus the son of the teacher OR Jesus the anointed? Or the king of the jews as mark says. Jesus the son of the teacher was released but jesus the king of the jews was crucified. Origen ,an early church father, was aware of this reading which is Jesus bar abbas. Bar abbas means the son of the father or maybe the son of the teacher. It turns out that there are 2 JESUSES before Pilates. Any way, A: Please Trace matthew 12:39 and 40 from Irenaeus back to Jesus. B: Did the centurion himself come to Jesus? Or did he send people to Jesus? Matthew 8 and luke 7 Thank you.

Response #24: 

Just because I don't quote every syllable of your email back to you verbatim doesn't mean I didn't read it or didn't get it or that it really never existed – what sort of an argument is that? We have papyri, manuscripts and other witnesses to the text of the NT which PRE-DATE most of these secondary sources you're fond of quoting. No alternative "chain" is necessary. The true "chain" is complete and unbreakable: God's very words, preserved in His book of books, given directly from Him to us who believe. Along with the Old Testament, the New Testament is the Word of God – as any believer can plainly see merely by reading a small portion of it.

No doubt there are many atheists in the world who do not believe in spiritual things. Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. And faith is the key to all spiritual growth thereafter.

As the Lord told Ahaz through Isaiah . . .
"If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all."
Isaiah 7:9b ESV

And as we are told about Abraham . . .

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:6 NIV

It's all about faith. Naturally, one has to believe the truth rather than lies; but all who seek the truth will truly find it. The New Testament and the Old Testament together constitute the entire Word of God, His truth. Nothing can be taken from it nor added to it (Rev.22:18-19).

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!
Acts 16:31

For . . .

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

In the Name of Him who is the very Truth incarnate, the One who took on true humanity in order to die in the darkness and take away our sins, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through whom alone we may be saved.

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Stop ignoring my questions. Revelation 3:12 It is 100% clear from Revelation 3:12 that Jesus has a God. How can Jesus and his God be the 1 God?

Response #25:  

If you do accept Jesus Christ, you cannot be saved.

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12 NIV

Question #26: 

Behold the young woman is pregnant and shall give birth to a child and they will call his name Emanuel meaning God is with us. Several points A: The first part of the verse is NOT in the future tense. The first part of the verse is in the present tense. Behold the young woman IS with child, NOT will be with child. B: In Hebrew it says HA ALMAH. Ha is the definite article in Hebrew which means THE. Almah means young woman.Ha almah literally means The young woman. C: Had Isaiah meant to say virgin,he would have used the Hebrew word betula which literally means virgin. D: Nowhere in the entire new testamant is Jesus called Emanuel.He is called Jesus. E: You need to read the Context of Isaiah chapter 7. Read the whole chapter in order to understand verse 14 F: Just because Emmanuel means God is with us does NOT mean Jesus is God. Ishmael means God heard but this does not mean Ishmael is god. Study the names of Hebrew people. G: If you say that verse 14 says a virgin and that verse 14 is fulfilled twice,do you mean there were 2 virgins in history? H: Do not worship Jesus BUT worship the One whom Jesus worshipped. Luke 6:12 I: If Jesus is god according to John 10:30 and if the same Jesus has a God according to revelation 3:12 this means there are 2 gods and this means the trinity is a false teaching because the trinity contradicts verses such as Mark 12:29 and 1 Timothy 2:5 Please deny the trinity.

Response #26: 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 KJV

On 'almah, see the link.

On the doctrine of the Trinity, see the link.

Question #27: 

And I do NOT believe that John the son of Zebedee wrote john chapter 1 verse 1 Polycarp did NOT say that john wrote the fourth gospel. Polycarp did NOT quote john 1:1 Polycarp did NOT mention John by name in his surviving letter. You can NOT trace John 1:1 from any early church father back to Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:27 and 28 Jesus will be subject to God, so Jesus is NEVER god. Mark 13:32 Jesus does NOT know the hour so Jesus is NEVER god. 2000 years ago, the father and Jesus the infant were NOT the 1 god because the father was more knowledgeable than Jesus the infant 2000 years ago. Please deny the trinity. Thank you.

Response #27:  

What will you say when you stand before our dear Lord Jesus on the last day? What defense will you give? When you see Him in His glory, words will fail you – and you will suffer the fate of all who willfully reject the truth. The pitiful verbal defenses you have constructed and which seem strong in your own mind will be quickly swept away, and you will not be able to proclaim "I do NOT believe" when you see the Son of God face to face:

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 KJV

"You are therefore greatly mistaken."
Mark 12:27 NKJV

Be pleased to read this very important link: "The Great White Throne of Jesus Christ: The Last Judgment of the Unbelieving Dead"

In Jesus Christ, "My LORD and my God" (Jn.20:28).

Bob L.

Question #28: 

A: Historically speaking, you can NOT trace John 20:28 from Tatian back to Thomas because Tatian did NOT meet Thomas and you do NOT know where Tatian got john 20:28 from. Tatian said that an unknown person said that Thomas said John 20:28 this chain is UNreliable because there is an UNKNOWN person in this chain. B: I will show you a contradiction in the new testamant. John 20:28 CONTRADICTS John 20:17 AND revelation 3:12 C: If Jesus is God according to John 20:28 and if the same Jesus has a God according to John 20:17 and revelation 3:12, this means there are 2 gods and this means the trinity is a lie invented by satan. You must deny the trinity. You believe in 2 gods and this is the most dangerous thing. You must deny the trinity. D: You said God sent His son.God did NOT send himself.God sent somebody else.The sender and the sent one are TWO. It is 100% clear that the sender and the sent one are TWO. E: Do not worship the sent but worship the Sender. Best wishes

Response #28: 

Understand: even if you could convince true believers that your lies are true, that would not make them true. That is just what the devil imagined in his arrogance. Do you really want to share his fate?

Understand: your refuge of lies may comfort you now but will be swept away by the blinding light of the truth on that "Day" of days. And you will have no excuse because you have been told the truth.

As things stand now, you are lost. But our God is a merciful God, but He sent His Son to take on human form in order to die for all your sins and mine. How do you think He feels to have you throw that sacrifice back in His face . . . in such a rude and ungrateful way?

I urge you to repent of your blasphemous folly and throw yourself on God's mercy! He does forgive – but only those who seek forgiveness through the blood of His Son, the LORD Jesus Christ, the only Savior.

2Co 5:20 KJV: Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

I will pray for you.

In Jesus Christ, "My LORD and My God!"

Bob L.

Question #29: 

Hi Robert Matthew 4 the devil quoted a verse of psalm chapter 91 Jesus did not say to the devil he is wrong. jesus is not in psalm 91 Please 2 questions. A: Do you believe that psalm 91 is about Jesus? If you say yes, B: Does psalm 91 say that Jesus was crucified OR not crucified but protected? Thank you

Response #29:  

Jesus is God. (see the link)

Question #30: 

Please no links. I wanna talk to you. Revelation 3:12 How can Jesus and his God be the 1 God? [n.b., many blasphemous and scatological assaults on the person of Christ omitted throughout this chain of emails]

Response #30:  

No you don't.

You want to drag me to hell along with yourself.

What is it about you types? Most unbelievers just go about their business, making the most of this world until the end when they are cast into outer darkness. But you evangelists for evil seem to feel that if you can convince other people, especially believers, of the truth of your lies, that you will be safe somehow. All your machinations and neurotic searching of scripture and silly esoteric interpretations make no sense otherwise. But you wouldn't be any more safe if you convinced the whole world. This is exactly what Satan has been doing since the beginning of history, as if there were safety in numbers. But his destruction in the lake of fire – along with the destruction of all who follow him, whether human or angelic – is assured. It's only a matter of a little more time.

You have absolutely not the slightest chance of making even a minuscule impact on my faith, trust me on this one. The only thing you can do is waste more of my precious time. But this is my last communication to you (automatically junking further emails).

If there is a shred of actual desire to be saved left in your heart, read the previously sent link.

You are also welcome to use Ichthys any time (I don't begrudge you that).

In Jesus Christ, "My Lord and my God" (Jn.20:28).

Bob L.

 

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