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Fighting the Fight V:

Dispatches from the Laodicean 'Front' II

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Question #1:

World Peace

Millions of professing Christians will continue desperately striving to bring about world peace. Deceived religious leaders will tell them that this is their “Christian duty.” Some will see this as the sole mission of their church. They will seek happiness, abundance, peace and security around every corner, but will be terribly disappointed. This is because world conditions, leading into a final devastating period of global calamity, will get much worse before they ultimately get better.

Browbeating yourself into faith is silly, because it suggests that there is doubt that God will do His part after you have done yours. Faith is relaxed. It is calm. It is sure. Whereas most people might have great doubt, the person led by faith is confident that God is always guiding the final outcome of matters.

World peace will only come after the return of Christ

Response #1:

Excellent!

I'll be sure to post this the next time a suitable topic comes up.

Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord, the Savior of the world.

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

Here's the thing about Noam Chomsky: he called the rise of Trump six years ago. He called Iraq as a big mistake. He correctly stated that Americans are being manipulated by capitalism and advertising. He correctly states that mandatory public schooling is really just a form of government indoctrination. There really isn't anything he said that's wrong. Everything he said came to pass.

I am neither a Marxist or a communist, because I recognize that the communist society requires strict government control, because everybody needs to work in order for the maxim "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" to be fulfilled. Communism is only left-wing from an economic perspective, but it is socially authoritarian. In fact, if you could get Hitler and Stalin to sit together in a room and not talk about economics, they would find a lot of a common ground. Chomsky, on the other hand, is a member of the libertarian left, meaning he is firming against government encroachment of rights. I'm so sick of these lies we're being fed for the purpose of political manipulation, and I am extremely disgusted by how the Christian right has entered a Faustian bargain making all of this possible. I feel betrayed. This kind of treachery on their part cannot be forgotten.

The United States doesn't even have a political party representing the left anymore. The Democratic party has been hijacked by corporate interests. You have no idea how badly we are being bamboozled. The Affordable Care Act was billed as a means of providing health care to the poor, but insurance companies played the largest role in drafting the legislation. Australia, Switzerland, etc... have real healthcare for all, and the poor are not shafted. Nobody has to pay $1000+ a month (the equivalent of a mortgage payment, except you can't even refinance!) for healthcare, and nobody dies waiting for service. I've been a conservative leaning libertarian, but the fruits being produced are bitter.

Sincerely,

Response #2:

I make it a point to be as disinterested in politics as possible. Naturally, it's impossible to be unaware of the uniqueness of this cycle but Christians need to remember that God is in control. No one is going to delay the Tribulation for a nano-second, and, blessedly, that is true of the second advent as well. Things are likely to get ever more "interesting" as we get closer, so that this election is a good test of our ability to maintain a relaxed mental attitude focused on the Lord and His truth instead of the events swirling around us. If we are having trouble now, what of the Tribulation (Jer.12:5)?

As to Chomsky, I don't give much credence to political hacks on either side of the spectrum. I know of him mostly from his insane linguistic theories which, unfortunately, have been wildly popular and, as a result, have virtually ruined a once valuable field of inquiry. Chomsky-ites have replaced real linguists on most faculties around the country so that its very difficult to find any Indo-European programs anymore.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

I am in contact with a pastor in Virginia who happened to get his undergraduate degree in Linguistics. Here's what he has to say about Chomsky:

"His theory was like a longhorn steer: a point here and a point there, and you know what’s in between. The general consensus among linguists, according to what I think I just read in the latest issue of Scientific American, is that he was wrong. That’s what I thought all along. He’s kind of the equal and opposite reaction to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis—which I always thought was very romantic, but at best overstated. If there is a universal grammar, Chomsky clearly didn’t find it, and while it is true that one’s language colors one’s perceptions, it is not as drastic as Sapir and Whorf thought."

Response #3:

Good stuff!

Thanks

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

I have a germ for a novel that's struggling to get out. Would it be profitable for me to "give birth" to it?

Response #4:

It depends what you mean by "profitable"? What's the objective? There's not much money in writing, if that's what you mean (writing a novel is sort of like buying a lottery ticket except that it eats up several years of your life). In terms of what the Lord has for you, I do know talented Christians and I'm sure the Lord gives talent for a reason (in whatever artistic endeavor we're discussing). How best to use such gifts is a complicated question best answered by the person in him/herself with much prayer . . . and after a good deal of previous growth. At that point, "what's the motivation?" is also a necessary question to be kept in close proximity to "what's the objective".

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

When I was younger, I became friends with one a person who has a very troubled life. He posted a very disturbing comment on one of his blogs. I sent him the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, and how every earthly advantage does not count for anything if he or she is cold to God.

"This is what the wicked are like / always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.... When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply / till I entered the sanctuary of God / then I understood their final destiny."
(Psalm 73:12, 16-17)

He also has some legal problems and a very bad addiction. I then sent him the following words of encouragement: "God chose Jacob over Esau before either one did anything good or bad! And he did this specifically to show that it is not works but the grace of God that counts."

Response #5:

You're a good man.

But be careful. The Lord wants all to be saved, but all do not want to be saved. And people with axes to grind don't always react as they should to those who are trying to help them. I've seen that many times. In fact our Lord gave us that warning too (Matt.7:6).

Trying to look out for your welfare here.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

[details omitted about extremely deprived living situation]

Response #6:

I'm sorry to hear that your situation has not improved. Sometimes these tests go on far longer than we had expected. I know that from personal experience and from my observation of the lives of many brothers and sisters. It's also not unusual in the Bible. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt where he had to endure captivity for a long time. And even then things "got worse" – from the human point of view. He ended up in jail, and even then he was not released when he thought he would be. But God was faithful to Him, and in the end things turned out "for good" in unimaginable ways (Gen.50:20; cf. Rom.8:28). God is perfect and He is incapable of being anything else but faithful, praise the Lord (Lam.3:22-23)! Even when we think we are being forgotten, He cannot forget. Our part is to trust Him that everything does have a purpose and that all trials and personal tribulations do have an end. Our faith is purified in the furnace of affliction (1Pet.1:7). That is not the prosperity gospel of course. That is the real gospel. And you and yours are real Christian soldiers – otherwise the Lord would not be trusting you with this test. Be pleased to trust Him a little longer, then "stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you".

I'm comforted by the fact that the Lord has given you such a wonderful family to accompany you through this desert of testing. I would bet that your youngest doesn't even realize he "has it hard". There is a lesson there too.

Keeping you guys in my prayers day by day, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Thanks for your email. You seem to know what to say in the perfect time. Yes you are right. [ ] has no clue things have been hard. Its funny you said that because I had the same thought last week. I then thought his attitude is what ours needs to be. Which for the most part it is but maybe a few bumps here and there. We do go out of our way to make sure our children are happy and content. We will go to extremes to care for them. I think that's been one reason as a mother this situation has been hard.

I sure hope this is over soon. I cry just thinking of the possibility. We do know that he is watching over us and we trust in him in everything. I was reading your Eschatology the other night and it mentioned that during the Tribulation that its going to be hard for some lukewarm Christians to find Bible teachings due to negative and complacent attitudes and due to the time. I so agree with this and I'm so thankful to be learning all this in my situation now. I could be in a situation where I didn't have a phone and internet to have found your web site. I could be in a situation of just 100% survival mode and not have the time to read and learn. It could be a different world entirely. We currently are experiencing hate and pressure from family right now and I'm doing everything I can to respond to them in a positive good way. I seriously have a pack of wolves on my door step. I'm not sure it would be very easy if I were living in more hardship than currently. As things are now, it's really hard to be a good person living in these conditions knowing everyone else is living like kings and can help but don't. But I believe in Jesus Christ and that's how I can do it.

I thank the Lord big time for these hard times and what he is showing us. He absolutely knows best. We are looking forward to his deliverance. I need to go for now but wanted to know if you have any of your material on Audio? Look forward to hearing from you my friend.

Response #7:

You're very welcome. Yes, that is what makes it hard – the love we have for others and wanting the best for them but not being able to provide what we would like to be able to provide. That is the weight of responsibility that presses down on us.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
1st Corinthians 11:23b-29 NIV

So we see from the above that Paul's concern for the believers for whom he was responsible weighed even more heavily on him than the incredible sufferings he had endured for the Name of Jesus Christ. But we do know that the Lord is taking care of those we love even as we are responsible to do all we reasonably can to provide for them.

Difficult times are ahead, and I have no doubt that the Lord is setting up a memorial experience for you and your family as a point of comparison, as well as encouraging your spiritual growth and preparation. That said, I am certainly going to continue to pray daily for you and your and for your relief. All tests come to an end. As my dad used to say, "everything is always over eventually". Amen!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Thanks for your quick reply. Thanks for your prayers, its always good to hear from you. I'll respond here soon. Do you have any of your material on audio? I have looked through your stuff and as far as I can see you don't unless I'm missing something.

Response #8:

Sorry I forgot to respond to that part. No, I've never had these materials translated or put into audio format [NOTE: since time of writing many studies are available as MP3's thanks to Chris Berquist; see the link]. When I got started with this, that was virtually impossible; later, it become merely almost impossible; now it is merely practically unworkable to do myself. I have my hands full and then some as it is, and to properly turn a book into an audio book requires a script, practice, and no easy measure of production. All of that takes much time and energy – much more than I have, sorry to say. Also, these studies contain a whole lot of citations and quotations (which would be difficult to present in audio form); the charts / diagrams would have to be left out. And then there are the footnotes . . .

I think that is why most audio books are only highly abridged versions of the original. And I'm not really into abridgment, generally speaking.

But thanks for your interest! As I enthusiastically point out, my friend Curtis Omo's Bible Academy is in audio form, and very worthy (see the link).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Doc.

I wanted to thank you once again for helping me grow out of myself and into The Lord's plan the way your teaching has. I can actually keep sane in His Grace and I am living a constant miracle anymore, hard, but unlike anything I ever imagined.

I am so very sorry to hear about your mother's passing, but am thrilled she sees Him now. Tears come just thinking about it and you're extremely blessed she believed. She's proud of you certainly.

Bless you brother,

Response #9:

I have been praying for all to go well.

It's always a blessing at times like this to remember, as you are doing, just what all the Lord has brought us through. We may have come "through fire and water" . . . but here we stand by the grace of God alone (Ps.66:12).

Thanks also for your good words about my mom.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers every day, my friend.

Yours in Jesus Christ our faithful Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Thank You,

I appreciate you taking the time to explain this to me. Do you have a weekly, monthly newsletter that you send out with your insights into the Bible? If you do, please put me on your list to receive your studies, please.

God Bless You

Response #10:

I've put you on my email list – however I only use it for major postings and these happen only a couple of times or so a year. Please see the link to subscribe to the RSS feed which announces the weekly (Saturday night) email postings.

Thanks for your good words of appreciation!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I recently came across an article that branded John MacArthur as a heretic because they believed that he was teaching heresy. They said that Calvinism is a damnable heresy, and because MacArthur teaches Calvinism, he's a heretic. I don't agree with some of the teachings of Calvinism, but at the same time I won't call someone who teaches Calvinism a heretic. That's a very serious accusation since someone who teaches heresy is most likely unsaved. Charles Spurgeon taught some form of Calvinism, and it would be a stretch to label him a heretic, and therefore condemned. It seems that there's always a group of people who label Bible teachers "false teachers" because there's something they don't agree with. Post-trib rapture = heresy, eternal security = heresy, salvation can be lost = heresy, wrong Bible version = heresy. Where do we draw the line? And what exactly makes a teaching heresy according to the Bible? To me, I would think that those who teach contrary to "essential doctrines" such as salvation by grace through faith, the virgin birth, and such, would be heresy. Or am I wrong? I have learned a lot through you, John MacArthur, and other solid bible teachers. And although I may not agree with everything John MacArthur teaches, I wouldn't call him a heretic. What does the bible say is the true meaning of the word heresy?

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #11:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

To answer your question, the word "heresy" as it is used today bears little relation to anything in the Bible. Historically, it has meant a teaching which the Roman Catholic church brands as worthy of excommunication and persecution – like those any Protestant would espouse. People use the word nowadays so often that it has little real meaning – except as a kind of expletive (that really seems to be the function). It seems today in our contemporary English to be equivalent to saying that the person (heretic) is not a believer and that the teaching (heresy) is an evil false teaching completely antithetical to the truth. Because of the connotations of the word today, it would certainly be advisable, in my opinion, to be very sparing in its use. And since in Protestantism, not to mention evangelicalism, there are a wide variety of antithetical teachings (even though most such groups are composed mostly of believers and share a common core of basic truth), it seems to me inappropriate to brand some group you don't like as "heretical". If said person/group really is or is composed of unbelievers whose teachings do lead to hell and not to heaven, then it is probably better to explain that rather to resort to what amounts to name-calling.

As to the word in relation to scripture, the Greek hairesis is usually translated in most versions as "sect" in most of the places it occurs (e.g., the Sadducees and Pharisees are "sects" of Judaism: Acts 5:17; 15:5; cf. Acts 24:5 where Paul is called "a leader of the "sect" of the Nazarenes"). But there are three occasions where the word is speaking of "divisions" in the Church – divisions which are not spiritually healthy: 1) 1Cor.11:19, where it refers to the bad Corinthian practice of taking sides over water-baptism (there is also the corresponding adj. used at Tit.3:10); 2) Gal.5:20, where Paul puts "divisions" in between "dissensions" and "jealousies" as manifestations of the sin nature versus the Spirit; and 3) 2Pet.2:11 where "destructive heresies" does refer to teachings of false prophets so antithetical to the truth that those who follow them will end up in apostasy. So the gist of the problem is that in the New Testament hairesis is not the technical word that it later became in the RC church (note that in the passage in 2nd Peter, Peter has to use a qualifier to explain the effect of the "division", namely, "leading to destruction"), and this potential confusion is magnified by the fact that when it is used by Protestants about other Protestants it can mean almost anything negative a person wants it to mean. So it is a good way of slandering someone without being specific (by which I mean a very bad way).

The truth is the truth. The Church should be trying to find the truth. Those who are standing pat on things that are not the truth are, if not being actively divisive, standing in the way of others receiving the truth (the same way the Pharisees did: Matt.23:13). I think this can be said about a lot of teachers out there today, but I also think that there is little profit in gratuitously attacking other believers – in fact it's wrong to do so. It isn't wrong to stand up for the truth, however, so it depends on the situation as to whether or not finding fault with some teaching or teacher is appropriate. If I am asked my opinion of some teaching of teacher X or denomination Y, I will give it according to the scriptures – but I do not spend my time or effort trying to hound teacher X or denomination Y in order to get them "to repent". That is the Lord's territory.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Evidence against Reformed Theology

“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles”
(Acts 13:46).

Those who reject the gospel judge themselves as unworthy to receive it.

Response #12:

This is a valid verse to cite regarding all who, like the Jews whom Paul was addressing at Antioch of Pisidia who were opposing the giving of the gospel out of jealousy, likewise reject Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation by grace through faith.

But I'm not sure why you lodge this complaint against "reformed theology" which, while it has its problems to be sure, at least has the virtue of being correct on the gospel (in my estimation), as opposed to the salvation-by-works theology it originally opposed.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #13:

I am referring to the belief that God "forces his hand" in people rejecting the gospel, which seems to be prevalent among Reformed ministers. Here, it is clear that the only people who reject the gospel are those who were given it. They judged themselves to be unworthy: God did not judge them to be unworthy.

Response #13:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"
Matthew 23:37

God is willing, as our Lord makes clear above, but are we? It's all about free will. All unbelievers are "unwilling to be saved", whether or not they are privileged to hear the gospel. This will be revealed at the last judgment (cf. Rev.9:20-21).

As to "the belief that God 'forces his hand' in people rejecting the gospel, which seems to be prevalent among Reformed ministers", I've never heard of that before, so I'm not sure "prevalent" is correct. In any case, I'm not sure we can tar the whole movement with the ill-advised comments of a hypothetical few – they have enough theological problems as it is, after all.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Don't get me mistaken. I love reformed preachers like Piper. And I still consider Reformed theology to be the "best" systematic theology on soteriology out there.

However, I found that I never got much out of John MacArthur.

Tell me, do you like Chuck Swindoll?

Response #14:

I saw MacArthur and Swindoll at Talbot; I only know of Piper from his writings.

These three are often thought of as the three wise men of the reformed world; however, to be honest, based upon everything I've ever heard them say and the things people report to me about their teaching, I couldn't recommend any one of them (in fact, just the opposite).

One thing is sure: it's unfair to any system of theology to use individuals such as any of these three as exemplars of it inasmuch as, in the case of these three, their teachings may be esoteric and unique to them personally to a very great extent.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Greetings Dr. Luginbill,

Many blessings to my dear brother. It has been a little while since we last spoke to one another, I just wanted to check in with you to see how you were doing. I trust that you continue to grow in the grace of our blessed Lord Jesus every day and in every way. I am doing well, continuing to study and grow in my knowledge and understanding of the Word of God. I am hoping to go to India sometime in the near future, to do some ministry work with a friend who ministers there, and also builds orphanages for the children in need of families, food, clothing, homes, and most of all the Gospel of King Jesus. I hope the Lord will open up the door for me to be of value while I’m there. Anyway, I just wanted to see how you’ve been doing. Though I’ve probably told you this in the past, in one way or another, I want to know that you’re not just important in my life as one who helps me on the academic level, but, more importantly you are valuable to me as fellow brother in the Lord Jesus our Mighty King! You are not just an “average joe” to me, you are of the household of Faith, a fellow heir of God’s promise through Christ Jesus. Suffice it to say, I hope you are well sir, and may the grace of the LORD, with the power of the Holy Spirit be with you and yours, through Christ Jesus our Lord to Whom be glory forever and ever, Amen!!!

Sincerely,

Response #15:

Thanks much for all your good words, my friend. I will endeavor to be worthy.

I keep you in my prayers daily and will add this to the list – let me know when you get closer to going. Also, there are some brothers over there I correspond with, so let me know where you are going – it's a big country, but you never know.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

What does the second half of this proverb mean?

"Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; and whoever builds a high gate invites destruction."
(Proverbs 17:19)

Response #16:

Anyone who invests in this world in ways that reveal he/she is not interested in God and foolishly believers he/she will live forever (that is the way most people live even though they ought to know it is a lie), does indeed "invite destruction". Money takes wings, barbarians invade, health collapses, and, as God said to the foolish rich man who was building bigger barns, "Thou fool! This very night thy life shall be taken from thee!"

In Jesus who is the only reason for still being here.

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi,

Hope you are doing well.

I'm running into a few road blocks lately with family. [details omitted]

Response #17:

I'm sorry to hear about the troubles with your family. I have seen this kind of thing before (all too often). I think it is fair to say that there are some people who need to be loved from a distance – otherwise they will submerge your spirituality (not to mention causing other problems). You two have each other and you have your children. Those things are blessings beyond anything money could ever buy. A lot of people in this world don't have good marriages and good kids – and to all be Christians too! Well, that is beyond wonderful.

I'm not sure why your material trials persist. It probably has something to do with the Lord allowing you to be tested so as to grow. We never get to the point of not needing to grow any more – so we never get to the point of not needing testing any more. What I do know is that the Lord is absolutely faithful. Sometimes it seems as if we are walking across a crocodile infested swamp one log at a time and often we get to a place where there is no log – but then one appears. He always brings us across. On the other side, it's good to consider that if just one of those logs hadn't been there, no way we could have made it across. But every needful one was there, every time. That is our Lord and our God. For those who truly do love Him as you and your family do, He is always working things out for the good – not necessarily for the easy, for the comfortable, for the just-like-everybody-else experience – but always for the good. And the absolute good is accomplishing what He wants here in this temporary world, to grow, to walk with Him, to help others do the same. That is how the three crowns of eternal reward are won. And at the judgment seat of Christ, while we won't be bothered by any of the problems we have here now, we will also won't regret a single time we did the right thing, in spite of all opposition to the contrary.

Keeping you your family in my prayers,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Thank you Bob.

I appreciate your kind and caring words. I agree that you have to love from a distance. I'm going to need to act on it. It feels like they are submerging me spiritually. The evil is trying to take me down. I need to be strong.

I'm very thankful for my loving husband and children. I do realize my family is special and a rarity. I thank God everyday! I appreciate you kind comment. Its always good to hear it.

I was saying the other day that everything I have read so far of your ministry is exactly how I have felt over the years but haven't been able to put it into words like you do. Maybe I should introduce our friends here to your web site. If he were to have a ministry based on the Bible like you then maybe we could fellowship.

I don't like to get into situations of giving my opinion and talking about the Bible to others. I feel like most want to get into a debate to tell you your wrong and they are right. I try to avoid all conversations. They will swallow me up. I just know what's in my heart. I have a hard time explaining things like you do but I'm very confident in how I feel. I'm not easily moved. I get hated on for it. I'll hold strong when I feel something is not of Christ. I have been told from a few people that they feel like they have to walk on egg shells around me. I'm okay with that. If you can't be kind and caring then there is no obligation to hang out with me.

I have also been told I'm really sensitive. I'm okay with that also. Being sensitive means I care. I have feelings and I can feel other peoples feelings. Its not a fragility or a weakness. God made me this way and I'm not changing it to get along with the minions of the devil.

Thank you for your email. It was very up lifting. I feel much better today.

Response #19:

You're most welcome, my friend.

You have a strong and courageous faith. When in eternity we receive our new name assigned by the Lord Himself, I'm sure yours will reflect this very salient and wonderful characteristic of yours. And I want you to realize and understand that your firmness regardless of potential consequences when it comes to the truth is a powerful witness for all who are watching – men and angels both. This also probably explains something about the current trials you and your family are going through. Many Christians can be stalwart about the truth . . . until the pressure is on. The fact that you are standing like a rock even though you are under very heavy pressure is indisputable proof that your faith is not just fair-weather or skin-deep but has roots that reach all the way down to the Foundation Stone Himself. That is why even though the wind is raging and the flood is rising your spiritual house is not being blown down or swept away – because it is truly founded on the Rock (Matt.7:24-27). But without the whirlwind and without the deluge, that would not be plain for others to see as well.

Stand fast in you excellent witness for Jesus Christ, my friend. I am certain that all this will be for a remembrance for you before the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ on the day of glory.

In our dear Lord whom we love more than our lives.

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Just have a small question on the following verse:

2 Corinthians 10:4: KJV
" 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)"

NASB:
"4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.".

NIV:
4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."

When I think of these particular weapon(s), I can only name a few of them: Grace, prayer. So, what are these strongholds that these weapons (pull down, destroy, demolish) these (strong holds, fortresses)? What does it mean "to the pulling down of strong holds" as the KJV says?

Thanks always for your thoughts and knowledge.

Your friend,

Response #19:

In terms of its exact interpretation, Paul is speaking about systems of thought and patterns of thinking which oppose the truth, both those which the false teachers and false apostles who were attempting to prey on the Corinthians were peddling and also any such wrong-headedness in the minds of any of their congregation. In terms of practical application of this passage, the same principles are true for us as we attempt to gain mastery over our own thinking and emotions through the power of the Spirit and the application of the truth we have learned and believed. In so doing, we "demolish the strongholds" of old thought patterns and sinful thinking in which we have indulged, pathways of carnality to which we were addicted before being saved or before turning back to the Lord, smashing them with the truth. Of course this is a constant battle. We can't eradicate our sin nature; we have to fight and struggle with it every day; but we can get better at this fight day by day if we persevere in the truth and seeking to live the truth in sanctification.

Here is how I explain this passage with its context in Peter #29:

In other words, "setting our hope" on the glories to come when our Lord returns is an example of "girding up our minds" in spiritual alertness. Focusing on the blessings of our eternal tomorrow is an essential part of how every advancing Christian gets through "today", "as long as it is called 'Today' " (Heb.3:13; cf. Ps.118:24), because while the evil one may have little or only marginal interest in believers who are going sideways or backwards, we may be sure that genuine spiritual advance always provokes serious opposition. God has given us the truth we need (the entire Bible, in fact), the power we need (the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit), and the techniques we need (mentally "girding up" to apply those truths through the Spirit). All that is needed is for us to actually make use of these blessed resources in the cause of Jesus Christ.

(4) For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful for God, for the destruction of strongholds, (5) destroying sophistries and every presumption that raises itself up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought prisoner so as to obey Christ, (6) being ready to reprove every disobedient thought once you have come into the fulness of mature obedience [in respect to guarding your thoughts].
2nd Corinthians 10:4-6

It is a serious and mortal warfare in which we are involved, a "spiritual warfare" in which our weapons are not the weapons of this world, but the weapons of the truth, the Spirit, and the techniques of putting these together in combating whatever lies, whatever pressures, whatever disasters, whatever uncertainties may come our way in this life (and come they shall). That is to say, it is all about our faith in the truth, learning it (by doing our own due diligence in paying attention to sound Bible teaching), believing it (whereby the Spirit makes it usable for us), and applying it to whatever we may face in this life like the powerful sword it is, inspired, made real, and empowered by the Holy Spirit:

And [in this spiritual warfare] put on the helmet of salvation and gird on the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of truth.
Ephesians 6:17 (cf. Heb.4:12)

And here is how I explain it in BB 4B:

At salvation, God does not remove our memories or prior experiences. As a result of living in this world, our minds contain a very large measure of worldly and untrue information, some of which we have no doubt not only given our attention to in the past but have also previously believed despite its being untrue. Following salvation, our newfound clarity of perception must be engaged in the effort to produce an equally important clarity of understanding. As we give attention to the truth of God's Word, our hearts begin to be cleansed in terms of their content (just as at spiritual rebirth they are cleansed in terms of their spiritual vision).

(4) For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful for God, for the destruction of strongholds, (5) destroying sophistries and every presumption that raises itself up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought prisoner so as to obey Christ.
2nd Corinthians 10:4-5

As we learn and believe the truth, as we begin to see things from God's point of view instead of from our human, secular point of view, the worldly thought patterns, opinions, false information, foulness and outright lies to which we have been exposed begin to be exposed for what they are. We do not forget this "information", but the more we learn of God's truth, the better we become at discerning between the truth and the devil's lies, between God's will and the way of the world, between good and evil. An essential part of the process of spiritual growth after salvation is that all the prior "data" we have stored in our hearts has to be satisfactorily analyzed, vetted, reformed, and discarded as appropriate. In short, our whole way of thinking needs to be restructured, and that cannot happen without a steady diet of the biblical truth of the Word of God.

Praying for you daily, my friend.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

Monday marks the first day of classes for me after our school's spring break. While I've always struggled balancing getting necessary work done with recovering sanity and visiting my family, this time was especially bad. Essentially, I didn't get anything done whatsoever, and now I'm facing intractable levels of work and study for the next little while. (Until the end of the semester really).

I sat down and tried to figure out why everything crashed and burned. Things have been tough lately, and I think stress is a big part of it. For example:

I have what often seems like an impossible number of things to do. Term papers that count for huge percentages of my grades, long/technical readings for my graduate class, unremitting translation of passages and sentences for my language classes, frequent quizzes on grammar and vocabulary, a need for constant review of old grammar and vocabulary so as to not forget everything already learned, tests that cover enormous swathes of content, preparation for presenting old work at conferences... and so on. I've found myself less and less willing to tackle the workload the bigger it gets – until some deadline comes that forces a flurry of activity before I sink back into chronic procrastination and horror at all the things I ought to be doing. (Not to mention Bible study, sleeping, exercising, cooking healthy food...).

Latin and especially Greek have gotten significantly harder. Last semester I felt like I was always a little bit behind, but I actually did really well. Now I well and truly feel buried. I have a Greek test on Wednesday and I am truly frightened at how unprepared I feel. I've never really done badly on a serious test before – and I think I'm even harder on myself now because Greek is supposed to be "why I'm here". I'm not keeping up with the material for the first time in my life (partly because its hard and moves fast, and partly because of a reluctance to study due to it being hard and moving fast – combined with genuine inexcusable laziness).

I'm going to be starting [details on health problems omitted]

Whenever I go home, I am faced with all the problems there that are much more distant at college. [details on family problems omitted]

Continued loneliness – in terms of true deep Christian relationships, but most especially regarding that companionship that has marriage as its end. We've talked about this quite a bit now – and I feel like I have a good grasp of all the issues in play – but patience in God's good timing is not proving to be easy.

Now, we all have out burdens to carry, and I know this is just part and parcel of growing up in the faith. But, as I commented to my dad on one of our walks, "I'm bad at relaxing. Like, really bad."

I've read about the day-by-day rest that the author of Hebrews talks about in chapter 4 – most recently from the link in today's posting – and I confess that it just seems so far away. If I were facing all the above while being 100% consistent in my Bible reading, reading of Ichthys and other teaching ministries, prayer, and sanctification, perhaps I would be at peace even amidst the storm. However, all of those things have taken a big hit too – adding another layer of obligation and responsibility to the pile.

When I read things like Romans 8:28 and Matthew 6:25ff. everything seems so clear and straightforward. I really do believe that God is in control, and that anxiety about life is to no good purpose. Yet, somewhere between knowledge and application, these things get lost or distorted, and instead of peace I have stress and worry.

With regards to living in day-to-day rest, where is the best place to start?

Yours in Christ,

Response #20:

The road you have chosen is a demanding one, and you have definitely bitten off a great deal this semester. So it's not surprising that things may seem impossibly difficult from time to time. Health issues, especially ones which particularly affect a person's morale, do make things that much harder. But I know that nothing is impossible for the Lord. If you have committed your course to Him, I know for certain that He is absolutely faithful and will see you through. Part of it is what we do – we need always to be striving to be doing our work "as unto the Lord" (Col.3:23). But what really counts is what He does. I know that you must have had you own share of experiences where you saw Him do the impossible for you. Trust Him that He will do so again and get you through this difficult patch. I'm not saying "don't study", of course; I am saying "trust Him to help you do so in an efficient, sufficient and effective way".

You have eternal life. That is solid. You have a place in the resurrection. That is solid. You have already done a tremendous amount in terms of personal spiritual growth, progress and production. So you already have a wonderful inheritance secure in the heavens. If the Lord took you home today, you would be blissfully happy and satisfied, and I dare say rank very well in judgment. But if the Lord asked you today if you were willing to cash it in, today, I'm guessing you would want to fight this through to the end – for your personal reward, for the benefit of your brothers and sisters who will need someone like you in the near future, and most of all for Him, to please Him by doing what He wants you to do, to stand in the gap when so few are willing to do so (Ps.106:23; cf. Ex.32:10-14).

No doubt, what you are attempting is very hard. But what is coming is also hard, and I'm not talking about graduate school. This I know: you can do it . . . because the Lord is at your right hand to help you through every step of the way. So how do we get through? Precisely by relying on Him and not on ourselves. What you have set out to do may in fact be impossible through human means, but you are empowered by God Himself, the Spirit in us, the Father having already decreed our victory, the Son holding us by the hand and leading us forward. We can't do it – but the Lord most certainly can. We are not worthy, but He is loving, forgiving, merciful. He is our Helper, He is our Rock, He is the One who parts the impenetrable sea and makes a way for us to pass through dry shod, and I am very confident of the fact that He is already in the process of doing this for you, my friend. Be pleased to hold tight to His hand and let Him guide you through it.

Resting in faith is not the absence of stress, trouble, turbulence. Resting in faith is finding the eye of storm and waiting it out in confidence of the Lord's deliverance though everything around us is turmoil. Resting in faith is standing fast in the line when the enemy comes on, holding one's ground – even though everyone else may be panicking and running away – confident that the Lord will grant the victory even so. Resting in faith is not finding strength in one's self but in the Lord. Resting in faith is abandoning fear and worry and laughing at destruction when it comes (Job 5:22), confident of deliverance not through any special talent or resources or strength – but through relying on the Lord's strength and provision instead. For He is our refuge, He is our strength, our timely help in time of need, so that we have no need to fear even if the earth itself collapses and falls into the heart of the sea, because we trust in Him that He is looking over us and looking out for us (Ps.46:1-3). Resting in faith is recognizing fully that we cannot do it, and trusting fully that He will do it, because "it" is what He wills and desires and we are dedicated to carrying out His will.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

I have the strength to endure all things in the One who empowers me to do so.
Philippians 4:13

I will be praying for you. In terms of practical advice, I understand that you see yourself as being in a bit of a hole. Climbing out is always a one step at a time thing. Don't worry. Just do your best. Triage the situation, give it your best shot, and trust the Lord to help you through it. You haven't been perfect? None of us can be. The Lord understands that – and He has plans for you. We never want to test Him – but we have to remember that He knows we are merely flesh, and so we have absolute confidence that He will bring us through the tests He has for us, not by our efforts, but by His power and in His grace. He is the One who brings victory out of hopeless situations. It is for that reason that we have placed our hope entirely in Him.

Your friend in Jesus Christ for whom nothing is impossible.

Bob L.

Question #21:

How did it go?

Response #21:

We're still waiting to hear. Hope to hear good news this week. Thanks so much for your prayers!
You are certainly in mine, my friend. I don't pretend to know what the Lord has in mind with this new development. He always seems to surprise me. The theme of my life seems to be "it didn't turn out the way I expected" – but with the Lord it has always "turned out", and I am so grateful for that. Praying the same for you.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Question for you. Is there a good resource for looking up meanings of Greek words and how they were used historically to help illustrate them in sermons?

I hear in some sermons really pretty examples of how a word was used that helps shed good light on its meaning. Like right now I am preaching Titus 2 and the word sober-minded/sensible is used repeatedly. My BDAG doesn't help much with examples from Greek literature where it is used that may help people grasp it better.

How has life been for you friend?

Response #22:

I'm getting through – in spite of attempts at U of L to diminish Classics (we may lose our minors and non-tenured FTE's [note: it did happen]).

As to your question, let me start by pointing out that most such "colorful illustrations" I have heard in my life in "sermons" have turned out to be either completely incorrect or at best very misleading. It is very typical for pastors with little Greek and few exegetical scruples (or scholarly I.Q.) to find that a word is used one time in one context with (possibly) X force and then tell everyone that X force is "what it means HERE!", then draw doctrinal conclusions from this silliness. William Barclay's commentaries were famous for that – and much beloved as a result. It was entertaining, but not spiritually edifying (just the opposite most of the time). This same faulty methodology can even be done even with, e.g., the BDAG definitions (though these are at least constructed by scholars who give the context and limitations of such parallels, and also most who know enough to use such tools also know enough to be careful about jumping to unwarranted conclusions). As to other resources, the TDNT (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Kittel) is good at giving parallels, but it may be hard to find free on line (it's deathly expensive and not nearly worth the price, but you might find it in your seminary library). Other helps for such things include the TWAT (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Harris, Archer, Waltke) for the OT, along with Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament and Griddlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament (these last two are in the public domain). One other internet site I greatly admire and of which I make great use is the Blue Letter Bible – there are not only multiple translations and linked concordances readily to hand for every verse, but also various commentaries and other lexical resources of the sort you are interested in (best of all, it's free; see the link).

Ultimately, words mean what they mean, and they mean what they mean in a given context – which is often reflective of what they mean in other similar contexts and in the language generally. Concordances are helpful in running down all Biblical uses (I would be lost without my Moulton/Gedden/Moulton for the NT and my Mandelkern for the OT), and the TLG is the tops for finding things in Greek generally (one needs a license; U of L has one if you still have or can get a U of L library login); but Liddel and Scott and also BDAG and others do generally give very good coverage for what is and is not possible (even if one occasionally has to do some refining from contexts).

On the specifics of Titus chapter two, it certainly is clear that Paul has in mind a direct counteracting of the "natural tendencies" of Cretans described in the previous chapter. One of the word groups I see there a number of times is sophron-, and there are (literally) books written about this one. The main idea is that a person with this characteristic avoids stepping over the bounds (whatever they are in context) which would be hybris to do so. Said person is, literally, "safe-minded"; prudent wouldn't be a bad translation except that no one today really knows what the word means. Having some "spiritual common sense" is how I would put it and acting accordingly so as to avoid any and all behaviors and attitudes which might get a person into trouble.

I hope this is of some help!

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Thanks Dr. L!

I am sorry to hear about that with the Classics. But eh, I am sure they are replacing it with worthwhile programs like animal gender studies and applied social justice and the like, degrees that will really help us restore our failing nation ;)

I totally get the warnings/concerns below. At the same time, is it not helpful to have a reference, say a great Greek general was in a terrible, hard battle and the author says he was sophronos in the midst of it? Or for hypomenos (to endure, remain under) I am sure there are some picturesque uses across the literature that shed light on its core meaning.

Would love to see you en carne sometime if you have time and interest. It has been far too long!

Response #23:

Thanks for your good thoughts – and humor! Greatly appreciated.

Absolutely, good illustrations can be useful. The problem is when they are taken a step too far . . . or three or four or five – which seems to be inevitable when this approach becomes part and parcel of all too many story-telling content-free sermons. I'm sure you don't suffer from that syndrome, however.

In my experience, one has to actually look up passages and contexts where the words occur to get a valid insight (even dictionaries et al. can be somewhat misleading if references aren't checked). Even without the TLG, however, this can be done in many cases by cross-comparing the citations in, e.g., BDAG on Perseus (which has most of the Classical Greek authors and usually English translations to go with the Greek text; see the link).

We're on Spring break at the moment, but I'm down at the university otherwise most days.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

So there's a "theologian" I know who believes that God places humanity into three tiers of election:

Adamic community: humanity at large.

Covenant community: professing Christians.

The Church Millitant: the elect and regenerate of the covenant community.

Is there any justification for all of these being divinely instituted categories?

Response #24:

I've never even heard of any of these categories and I read the Bible all the time.

Perhaps that explains why there isn't any scripture to back up this ridiculous system. It is the kind of thing people who want followers but who aren't interested in the actual scriptures produce out of their own heads all the time, however. The greatest danger of such things is that devotees of such "theology" tend to derive "new" truths from them irrespective of scripture.

Question #25:

Thanks for your encouraging words.

Yes the pressure is extreme. I have had thoughts to go the wrong way due to the pressures but realize if I do that place will be worse. When you are in this place of having to choose good over evil and under the extreme pressures of our living conditions its not easy. I do realize that if we weren't in this place how easy it is to blow off situations because of a comfortable environment. Its hard for me to explain but its like God puts you in an extreme uncomfortable place so that you move in his direction that is hard to do or you wouldn't do without being in that hard place.

[details omitted]

We sure enjoy reading your writings.

Hope all is good for you and your family.

Response #25:

It's always good to hear from you, my friend.

I'm happy to hear that you are close to having survived this most difficult of winters, and I am very encouraged by the hopeful news you report here at the end of the email. God sometimes delivers us from trial and trouble – but sometimes through. One thing though: He always delivers us because He is 100% faithful in a way that no human being could ever really understand this side of heaven. Anyone who doubts that need only look to the cross and what the Father paid to save us – He paid all and Jesus suffered all.

In terms of your family, I don't know many positive Christians who don't have some (sometimes many) family members who aren't best loved from a distance as I have said. It is OK to analyze these things to get them straight in one's heart, but it's never a good idea to look back too much. The Christian life is all about looking forward . . . to our eternal habitation in the New Jerusalem. When we are there in resurrection, beholding the beauty of the Lord in our perfect bodies (Ps.27:4), none of these hurtful things will ever be called to mind again. Here on earth, with Paul it is better to say "forgetting what lies behind me" we are intent on "straining toward what lies ahead" (Phil.3:13). And in my observation and experience, the more justified we are in looking back and finding fault, all the more we ought to resist doing so. This sort of thing was the cause of a very bad patch in my own youth – how much better off I would have been if I had just moved on.

I also have a prayer request. I recently got word that my colleague in Classics of 19 years, a fine Christian woman and a tireless worker, is probably going to get the ax as part of the latest cost saving measure at our university – no "thank you" or severance, just the boot. Also, they want to cut out my ancient Greek classes entirely (my specialty and [academic] love for obvious reasons). I have floated a counter proposal that would at least make things livable here in spite of the financial hit, so I would appreciate your prayers on all this very much. The big meeting is Thursday morning – I'll let you know what happens (I hope at least to have resolution then). [note: Greek was kept; prayers still needful for this coming winter/spring and setting up next year]

Keeping you and your family in my prayers every day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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