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Jobs, Money, Finances and Giving: What does the Bible say?

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Question #1: 

Dr. Luginbill,

Who were considered to be "The Poor" in Jesus' day? A sign of the Lord's humility was that he made a point of giving to the poor although He and His disciples were poor. Judas had the custody of the bag that contained the money for the poor. Did the poor that Jesus gave to have to strictly be of Jewish descent or could they also be Gentiles?

Thank You

Response #1: 

It is true that these things are all a matter of degree. Someone "poor" in this country may have a cell phone, e.g., or a car – which puts them in some respect above the greatest kings of antiquity. On the other hand, they may be sleeping in their car and have no way to pay their phone bill. In our society lack of money can put a previously or otherwise well-off person at disaster's door in a heartbeat and in a way that would not necessarily be the case in antiquity. I think it is fair to say that the poor in the gospels are those who are in need (to a large or great degree) of the basic necessities of life without the means or prospects of helping themselves.

Jesus was sent "to the lost sheep of Israel" so that in the main His ministry was directed towards those of the seed of Abraham in fulfillment of the prophecies. But of course, His main mission was the cross, and there He enriched the entire world by dying for our sins that we might have life eternal through faith in Him – and never know any need in eternity:

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
2nd Corinthians 8:9 KJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

What do you think about ISIS switching to gold standard?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-29/islamic-state-finds-gold-coins-are-a-steal-as-throwback-currency

Response #2: 

Concerns about the means of life are commonplace, but our Lord told us not to worry about such things (Matt.6:24-34). Such worry may also lead to a malignant preoccupation with acquiring wealth, and that leads to a person "piercing themselves with many pangs" (1Tim.6:10). But absence of wealth alleviates all such concerns. As my maternal grandmother is reported to have been fond of saying, "blessed be [having] nothing!"

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
1st Timothy 6:7 NKJV

In our dear Lord Jesus who is our everything, the One who gave up everything that we might have life eternal in Him.

Bob L.

Question #3: 

This completely mystifies me. Can you explain this verse:

Isaiah 5:8. Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!

For the succeeding two verses, Bullinger's notes and the comments in the NIV study Bible were of no help. It seems to me that it can be read as "stay away from cities." Or, "woe to those who buy up property to keep others out." But I'm usually wrong in situations like this.

Thanks.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #3: 

Good to hear from you. The version you quote (KJV) is a good translation. The indictment is one of rich people who have exploited the poor and who have used the law as a weapon to deprive them of their inheritances so as to come into huge holdings of land thereby. These sinful people have (no doubt) made use of usury to cause their poorer fellows to become indebted and have taken their ancestral lands from them as a result. Under the Law, any such development (loans without usury or even sales) were to revert to the owner at the Jubilee, but these individuals, who represent what is going on in Israel generally at that time, have been taking over these lands permanently, and doing so through wicked means (usury).

Happy to answer other questions if I've missed the point here.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Bob,

Just a quick follow up - but more historical than biblical. Given the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the sack of Israel and Judah, the fall of Rome and conditions in America today, should we expect a different outcome? Except for minor details, I can't see much difference. It looks like the US is much like Rome of 400 AD.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #4: 

In the most likely scenario, given the present political situation in the world and the short time until the end times begin, the mystery Babylon of the Tribulation will turn out to be this country (please see the link) – though I hasten to add that this transformation only occurs once the Tribulation begins (with the accompanying empowerment of error and the rise of the beast). Whether or not this suspicion turns out to be correct, there is plenty of information in scripture about the specifics of the "end game" for Babylon. Please see the link in CT 5: "Judgment on Babylon: Revelation 17:1 - 19:4".

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Dear Professor,

Thank you for these answers. I'm about to start going through them and am very excited to do so. All your replies from the book of Matthew have really made a big difference and even though we can never attain to a full and perfect understanding of every part of the scripture, the whole book is much clearer now. I know that you have a lot of commitments and it never ceases to amaze me how you're able to do your professional work, keep your ministry and reply to all these believers, who, like myself, seek your guidance continually.

My work is a true blessing - it is thoroughly enjoyable, gives me sustenance and time to commit to the study. But I face a difficult dilemma and your prayer here will be much appreciated. I'm pondering having a meeting with the boss to discuss how badly and unfairly one of my coworkers has been treated. His situation isn't good, and there is this horrible omerta when it comes to this subject - no one will says anything, almost everyone keeps ignoring what is happening and won't risk the relationship with everyone else to tell the truth. The boss is not on site and doesn't see any of the things that go on. If it was about my own situation, I could just endure it. I also know how unbiblical it can be to devote time and effort to changing an institution from within (even if this is what the the boss wants and encourages). But it's someone's life, someone's career. I know, however, that if I do ask for this meeting, I will have to tell a lot of negative things about a number of individuals. So I can either stay silent and let an innocent individual be expelled, or speak up and open a grave full of worms and all scum.

As all this is going on, however, spiritually it has been a better time, it is a daily battle now amidst all these and many more other things.

In our Lord,

Response #5: 

You're very welcome. Glad to hear that the Matthew discourse was helpful.

As to your dilemma, that is a difficult one indeed. I have faced this sort of thing myself on a number of occasions, sometimes opting to fight, sometimes not. Looking back, I still can't say for certain in the doubtful cases whether I made the right decisions either way (some regrets linger over fights I've engaged in and also those I've avoided). What I can say is that the Lord delivered me personally from trouble in each and every case. On the one hand we don't want to allow injustice to flourish merely because of our own personal cowardice; on the other hand, we are not responsible for systems we don't control and for people who may not be our responsibility in those systems, and taking that on can be the devil's trap. Crusading against injustice is tempting but never a spiritually sound activity; failing to stand up for the right when it is our place to do so is also something we will probably regret down the road. In "disputable matters", the best thing we can do is to ask what the Lord really wants us to do (and actually "ask" the Lord what He wants us to do) and not be tempted in or out by our emotions – which emotions such situations always aggravate, often in two different directions at once. The best we can do is to put the matter to the Lord in prayer, decide based upon the spiritual common sense and knowledge of the truth He has given us, and resolve to live with the consequences of action or inaction as having made the best decision we could at the time (so as not feel guilty or remorseful after the fact, whatever we decide and whatever comes of it all). I will certainly pray for you on this.

Your friend in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Dear Professor,

Your assessment of the dilemma I'm facing is exactly right and I decided only to commit to the prayer for the time being without taking any steps. It is very hard though to observe injustice aimed at others, with powerful unbelievers manipulating the whole environment and the rest of people either completely lacking discernment or, what is often the case, courage to stand up for what is right. I will keep praying for guidance and your prayer is much appreciated also. I think we may be entering a decisive time with this issue and I hope that my coworker will be delivered in one way or another. I do feel that the owner would still want to find out about things that have been going on.

Professor - in all this I want to thank you for your continuous prayers. It is always possible to serve the Lord better, to pursue spiritual growth with more commitment and to run this race faster. Nevertheless, to be back on track after a dark period is a source of true joy. As you wrote in Peter's epistles - distraction is one of key strategies employed by Satan and putting the truth and spiritual growth and, in your case also the production, above all else has to be done every hour. The peace which only comes from walking in the Lord is beginning to find its way back in my life and I have to do my very best to keep it and grow in it. Unlike it was the case these few years ago when there was much less going on in my life and even professionally I was operating on the periphery of the environment in which I now find myself (a blessed situation and one which I hope I will be able to come back to), I now have to keep spiritual focus amidst numerous worldly issues, commitments and problems.

In our Lord, who didn't pray that we are taken out of this world, even if this is what I grow to await more and more, but that we are protected from the evil one (John 17:15),

Response #6: 

Yes, we would all rather be with Jesus, "for that is much better by far" (Phil.1:23); but, like Paul, we persevere for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are (or will be) counting on our help.

I will be keeping you and your coworker in my prayers. I know that the Lord will work it out for good for us who love Him, no matter what (even if we err one way or the other – such is His mercy!).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hi Bob,

My family just had some fantastic financial success. However, the attacks on my faith has become more prevalent than ever, even though I have had my prayers answered in an extremely dramatic and miraculous fashion.

Sincerely,

Response #7: 

This (first part) is great news! However, I do hear what you are saying. The "prosperity test" is often the most difficult one for believers to pass, especially if prosperity comes after a long, hard struggle. When we finally relax after being in the battle line a long time, we have a tendency to take off our armor and let down our alertness more than we should. King David is a notorious example of this, but it is a well-known phenomenon.

However, I'm thinking that this should not be as much of a test for you as it is for your family (it's not your own money, after all). The test for you, it seems to me from the outside looking in, will be to maintain your plans for your own life without letting this development suck them in like a black hole. I have been praying for you for mental and physical health, and also that the Lord would open up for you just the right career path, ministry path, and life-style approach to have success with them both. I do hope that this news will turn out to be a true blessing and allow you to more effectively do what the Lord wants you to do with your life (rather than being a trap); if you keep walking close with Him as your first priority, I'm sure that you will pass any latent test here and continue to do fine spiritually. That is certainly my hope and my prayer.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Bob,

A while back I gave you my decision-making plan concerning career and life path. Something that has given me pause is my school's policy on the so called "cooperative education" (co-op) terms. The general idea is to work for the same company multiple semesters, alternating between work and classes (the operative phrase here being multiple semesters). The problem I'm having is that companies do not really hire sophomores for internships (as in 1 term work experiences), and thus I'm limited in my job search for companies that expect me to come back multiple times after my first rotation. The school's co-op agreement would have one thinking that dropping a co-op is some sort of taboo thing that simply is not done, an inviolable contract the breaking of which causes all sorts of bad things to happen. However, people do it somewhat frequently – the company culture clashes with the student, better offers come around . . . or the student changes majors, which would be my reason for possibly ending after one term and not continuing on. Certainly it's frowned upon, especially if you do it because someone offers you more money or such. Yet it does neither the individual student nor the company any good to have someone coming back out of some sense of misplaced duty while despising every bit of it.

While it is certainly not "illegal" for me to not work for a company if I switch schools and such, I don't really want to go in just planning to bail out on my employer (not that I really am, there's just the possibility). In interviews, I have had a hard time keeping myself truly honest with the recruiters, especially when they ask a question like "we are looking for candidates who are interested in the full three semester rotation. Are you interested in the full three semester rotation?" The answer is yes and no. If I say no I'm done – no jobs for me. If I say yes, I feel guilty for not saying "but I might possibly bugger out on you partway through to study Greek. My bad." If I decide to stay with engineering, of course I want the experience. If I decide it's not my calling, I don't want to be locked into a life path out of misplaced guilt for letting a company down (if this would be something to legitimately feel guilt about). It's kind of a catch-22.

I'm certainly not fishing for confirmation or anything like that. I really don't know myself what the right thing to do is here – but I'm afraid I might have biases clouding my judgment. The answer would seem to be easy: figure out what God wants me to do and do it. Yet there is no way for me to gain a real understanding of what engineering is actually like outside of the classroom without working, and no way for me to work without complicating any sort of possible school transfer and major change down the road.

Any insight would be appreciated.

You friend in Jesus,

Response #8: 

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

I'm happy to hear that you are continuing to progress in all things even under the heavy load of commitments you have undertaken. I am confident that you will figure all this out, and that the Lord will lead you to just the right set of decisions. This is certainly part of my daily prayer for you. Sometimes, in my experience, impossible situations are the Lord's way of guiding us to where He wants us to go. So perhaps – perhaps – making you uncomfortable about option XYZ is a way of steering you away from it. On the other hand, we also have to keep in mind the opposite possibility of testing your resolve in being willing to do what you really think you ought to do. A prayerful approach with a good conscience will no doubt yield the best result.

As to the specifics, I will "sound off" just a bit. In years gone by, there was a brief time, right after WWII, when there was a sort of unwritten pledge between companies and their management, one of mutual and lifelong commitment. Nowadays, that rarely applies, in my observation. We live in a time where a board is willing to sell out a company that's been around for generations just to make the stockholders a little money; or go into bankruptcy and divest itself of pension obligations to employees who spent their whole lives dedicated to the company; or downsize drastically and put thousands out of work in order to become more efficient (not even out of absolute necessity). In other words, in today's business climate, I see very few companies that operate with any sense of honor. So it is pretty ironic that these same companies want an ironclad commitment of honorable behavior from potential employees whom they would be willing to sell out at the drop of a hat for a whole host of arbitrary reasons. A sign of the times we are in.

Just because others are dishonorable and unreasonable in their demands does not, of course, give us an excuse to behave in a way that we will come to regret. But it does mean that we are within our rights to view these matters through a crystal clear and unclouded lens of stark reality. Just because we behave honorably does not at all mean that we are going to be treated that way in return. Therefore, it is always good policy to reserve our best for those who seem to us to be worthy of it – and steer clear of those who clearly are not as best we can.

I'll certainly say a prayer for you for figuring out the best course.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

The more that my wife and I attend this Charismatic Church, the more I dislike it. Yesterday, the Pastor did not preach as he was out of town; His younger daughter did the formalities, offerings, etc. Her statement was, "Just tell God what your need is and He will provide it", but she used it in the context as follows: "My car needed repair and I did not have to money to pay for the repairs, so I spoke from my mouth, that someone else would pay for it, and sure enough someone sent us a check. So claim what you need and just believe, and God will give it to you."

If someone lives beyond their means, racking up more debt than they can pay for, I don't believe God will honor their request, I don't care how much they claim and believe it. This is not the first example. Your thoughts. I am familiar with Matthew 6:25-34. They also talked about the Tithe in Malachi as do most preachers I have heard preach, no exceptions. They use this verse to justify why a Christian should tithe.

6"I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. "But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ 8"Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! "But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ "You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.a Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe," says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12"Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Malachi 3:6-12

So, according to their Theology, if a Christian does not give ten percent of his earnings, he is under a curse, as the only way God will rebuke Satan. I don't believe at all what they say, as in my opinion, tithing comes under the law and this scripture is referring to the Nation of Israel. The Pastor's daughter and son-in-law bath stated that when you give to God in the tithe, He will pour out a blessing on you. Now, let me say that I do believe in giving, but being under a curse if I don't? I could say a lot more, but I don't want to take up your precious time too much. I don't really enjoy going to this Church, but my wife like's it, so I go. Am I wrong in doing so when I hear preached so much heresy?

Thanks for all that you have done in the ministry God has given you

For His glory only,

Response #9: 

I completely agree with you on all this. It's always amazing to me how Christians in particular are constantly reaffirming P.T. Barnum's adage about a sucker being born every minute. Just because someone says something happened doesn't mean it happened. Just because this young woman is putatively a Christian does not mean that she is above stretching the truth for the sake of effect. The end is often felt to justify the means where the goal is convincing others of something someone deems very important. Most people, even supposed leaders, are vulnerable to falling into that particular snare of the devil, even Christians who should know better (I can bear witness to many such examples) – and especially where money is concerned and where money is felt to be "needed". So I suppose if Christian "leaders" are not above telling untruths in order to "get what they feel is right", it should be no great surprise that so many who listen to them are so easily duped. We Christians ought to have good hearts, but that doesn't mean we should believe what we hear from other people as being "the truth". This is wrongly couched as "a matter of faith". But while we believe God, and while we believe the Bible, when it comes to people, we need to be wise as serpents even as we are innocent as doves. This is a huge issue in the church visible today, and as a result I have had occasion to write about it quite a bit. Here are some links I recommend perusing:

Third Party Testimony III: Near Death Experiences, Revelations and Tongues

Third Party Testimony II: Charismatic Claims of Visions, Dreams and Prophecy

Third Party Testimony I: We Believe God and His Word – Not People

And even if what this young woman said was technically true, and even if it had nothing to do with her close relations or church members being the "one" who paid for the needful repair, we do not build doctrine and Christian application on experience – we build it on the truth of the Word of God. Period.

As to tithing, clearly, we are not Israel. Clearly, in this passage you cite, the Lord is remonstrating with the nation of Israel for not living up to its requirements to support the temple in Jerusalem and the priesthood – both of which were part of the theocratic state of Israel. We are not living in a theocratic state whose mode of worship is ordained by God for one and all. No one is legally responsible to give what amounts to tax money (that is what a tithe is) to a single, central "church" for its necessary support. They had that in Europe as a result of Roman Catholicism, and of course in the Church of England which was/is a kind of R.C. "light", and which was established here in the colonies in our early days. But our constitution prohibits such establishment of any church. As a result, we choose to belong to a given church or denomination . . . or not. And we choose to give to them . . . or not. And if we give, it is very clear from what the New Testament has to say about giving (which NT says nothing about tithing since there is to be no more support of the now superseded temple rite) that there is no set amount.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2nd Corinthians 9:7 NIV

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
2nd Corinthians 8:12 NIV

In terms of blessings, the apostle Paul was no doubt one of the most blessed individuals who ever lived – but he never had any money. Looking at "blessings" in exclusively material terms is a perversion of everything scripture says. Of course we all have basic needs which it is legitimate to desire to meet in an honorable way. But . . .

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
1st Timothy 6:9-11 NIV

Here are a few links:

Believers in the World III: Prosperity Gospel, Tithing, Cults and Legalism

Tithing and church polity

Tithing

Tithing and the Book of Life

Is Tithing Net or just 'Gross'?

The "Prosperity Gospel"

The Dangers of the Prosperity Gospel

Are Health and Wealth a Part of the Gospel?

Does God really want us to be sick and poor? Revisiting the prosperity gospel

What is wrong with the "prosperity gospel"?

Finally, I think that one of the biggest draws of the Charismatic movement is that through a combination of very emotive music and an open display of emotion they portray a level of sincerity and commitment that is visibly lacking in many more mainline denominations and churches. This may be enjoyable at first – especially among those Christians who do have good hearts and have never had the opportunity before to express their love and appreciation for the Lord in this way. Soon enough, however, it will become obvious that emotion is no substitute for truth. Emotion is a responder and (in the best case scenario) responds to the truth we have stored in our hearts through diligent study of the Word and its doctrines. But emotion, when it leads, when it becomes divorced from the truth, will always drive a person's spirituality onto the rocks. So I suppose the bottom line for me is that all these sorts of places, while they are no doubt entertaining (and more so by far than traditional churches), have only a small upside (which only extends as far as the truth a person has learned elsewhere may take them), and a very large downside – not only on account of the emptiness of emotion without truth, but also because as you rightly note inevitably these groups promote all manner of false doctrines which, if believed, will only make matters worse. Here are a couple of links on this:

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

All things Charismatic

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hi Prof Bob,

A relative (non Christian) having received his retirement funds started spending without proper controls for things he even could have done without. Advice to be wise in spending considering he is no more employed was not heeded. Now that he is looking around to borrow money for his needs. As Christians are we to consider giving our investment to compensate his waste of money?

Appreciate your advice.

Blessings

Response #10: 

Good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you have found a good place to feed on the truth of the Word.

As to your question, here is what I read in scripture about Paul's example:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."
2nd Thessalonians 3:6-10 NIV

Of course, I am always be reluctant to weigh in on specific cases, not being present, not knowing the individuals concerned, not having all the facts, and not being empowered by the Lord as a judge – I'm a Bible teacher (cf. Lk.12:14). What I can say is that giving money is a blessing and should never be undertaken out of compulsion of any sort. God "loves a happy giver" (2Cor.9:7), so that if a person cannot give to a particular group or individual and feel that it is entirely in God's will, it is a mistake to give even if the cause is a good one. And if the cause is judged by the potential believer to be a bad one, well, that is for the potential giver to decide before God. No Christian is ever under any obligation to give money – except that of Christian love. If that obligation is not felt, or is not deemed sufficient to remove other concerns and considerations such as those you mention, then better not to give. If the issue is still not clear, then going before the Lord in prayer for confirmation and assurance or for guidance and wisdom is the best approach; for we always want to act out of a confident faith (Rom.14:23):

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:5-6 NKJV

Keeping you in my prayers day by day, my friend.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Where does the line come in terms of having faith versus saving all your money for what might happen? Since I do not know the future and am not the Lord, is it prudent to save as much money as possible against unknown events or is this a lack of faith?

Response #11: 

Faith is an absolute, but how to apply it to the details of life where no absolute rule or principle directly applies is a matter of Christian discernment, something that grows as we grow. In matters such as this there is no one-size-fits all answer. I remember in seminary once how one of the students was agonizing in a class discussion about whether or not he should buy his wife flowers what with all the other things that money could be used for the Church. Even at that time, I and my cohort found this a bit ridiculous (and felt sorry for the wife). Clearly, there is a balance one must strike in everything. We trust in the Lord, but that doesn't mean we sit on our backsides and refuse to go to work because "He will provide". We do trust Him that if we could not go to work for some reason that He would provide, but we recognize that we still live in this world and have to operate on the standards of physical reality on this side of the garden of Eden. So for example in the issue of buying food, between subsisting on ramen, peanut butter and day old bread only or instead eating steak every night there is a happy medium. And in the matter of saving, between subjecting ourselves to dire hardship to save money or instead saving nothing while spending everything there is a happy medium. God does not expect us, in my opinion, to be "all or nothing" in matters which are secondary. He does want us to be "red hot" when it comes to primary, spiritual things, not material things. There is an interface, of course, but if we are learning the truth, applying the truth, and ministering the truth truly as our first priority, then everything else will fall into place. We cannot allow the material world to master us or our outlook, either in indulging in it too much or trying to be too ascetic towards it, not, that is, and keep our spiritual balance – which is the most important thing by far.

Question #12: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill:

You recently answered a question regarding Luke 7:1: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged..." You always explain things clearly; however, I am struggling with a problem I have never experienced. I would so appreciate your biblical insight, please! I'll make this as brief as possible.

After a tornado, I hired a contractor to repair/replace the damaged areas. All went well for about 4 months, though it took them almost 9 months to finish the job. The last 5 months have been a nightmare for me. When they finished, I noted several things that were not completed correctly, and mentioned them to the contractor. Some were corrected, the others were left as they were. I forgave him recently, but he believes he did nothing wrong. I wrote a review on the BBB site, stating the things that didn't get done properly, and I gave one opinion. On Tuesday of this week, the owner called me and left a scathing message. Essentially, he said if I don't take the review off of the website, he would see his lawyer. The reason I wrote the review is, because I am a single woman, I wanted to let other single gals know to be careful. I recommended that his company not be employed. If he sues me, can you tell me how I should respond as a follower of Jesus, please? I want to do the right thing and to glorify God, but I just don't know how to handle this!

Thank you so very much for your excellent ministry and your wise counsel. I appreciate both more than I can express!

Sincerely,

Response #12: 

It's good to hear from you, although I'm sorry to hear about the tornado and especially about the after-effect having nothing to do with the storm. I don't think I've ever dealt with an independent contractor who did everything the way I had contracted to have it done, so I can certainly sympathize.

As to your question, this is a matter of the application of the truth, that is, the use of Christian discernment which grows as we grow spiritually. No third party looking in will be able to say you are right or wrong whether you persevere or pull back. There is an argument to be made either way, and only you are able to determine in your heart with the Spirit's help which is the way you are meant to go. On the one hand:

A righteous man who falters before the wicked
Is like a murky spring and a polluted well.
Proverbs 25:26 NKJV

But on the other hand:

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
Proverbs 17:14 NIV

In my own observation and experience, there is a time to fight and a time to refrain (cf. Eccl.3:1-8). If we refrain, we are likely to be tempted to feel bad about it later, as if we yielded to the wicked out of cowardice – but it may have been the prudent thing we were meant to do. On the other hand, if we take on the fight, there will very likely be a time in the future when we will wish we had let the matter drop – but it may have been the right thing we were meant to do, even if it costs us. I can tell you that lawsuits are a horrible business; they last forever and even in victory after a long, long time they always take a heavy toll. On the other hand, I've never personally been inclined to yield to the wrong, even when it was the prudent thing to do (and have paid a price for that in my life, I might add – and it may have been as much ego as godly righteousness in some cases). Knowing what I know and having seen what I have seen, if the only damage done by making peace is a little short-term damage to that ego, I would at least counsel any person to think twice – and then think again – before becoming involved in a legal dispute that might be unnecessary. But as I say, no one can make this decision for you – not and have any hope of beings sure about making the right choice. I will say a prayer for you about this.

Thank you so much for your encouraging words. Keeping you in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hello, Dr. Luginbill:

Thank you so much for your timely response and your very wise counsel! I also appreciate that you answered my question considering both sides, i.e., "should I continue" or "should I not." Most of all, thank you so much for your prayers!

Your insight in, understanding of, and explanations of the Bible are blessings to me, and to countless others! I went to the Lord in prayer, practically begging him for his will about this situation. I awakened abruptly, and it was very clear to me that I must not pursue this. Our God is so good! I was encouraged by your experiences with contractors who didn't complete jobs the way the contract stipulated (it must be true that "misery loves company"). I am sorry, though, that you've had to experience the frustration that, I'm sure, resulted. Your comment about not pursuing this and looking like a coward was spot-on. I now realize that the only person I need to answer to is God; being concerned about what earthly people think isn't what's important in making a decision such as this. The Bible verses that you've given me are most helpful, too! I am reminded to keep studying his Word diligently to be prepared for anything that comes my way. Thank you for sharing your personal insight into lawsuits, which reiterated what the Spirit led me to decide. I am truly sorry, though, that your decision(s) has/have caused you to have "paid a price for that in [your] life." Often, I find paying a price can be quite painful, but I've certainly learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Your counsel to "think twice – and then think again – before becoming involved in a legal dispute" is so helpful and wise. Your advice has, again, reiterated what the Holy Spirit has led me to do. Thank you, from my heart, for your incredible insight, knowledge, and wisdom! Knowing I can receive biblical answers and counsel from you makes my walk with Jesus even richer and more joyful!

With sincere appreciation,

P.S. Please forgive me if this is inappropriate, but does Ichthys accept donations? That would be a very small way to pay back your kindness. Thanks!

Response #13: 

You're very welcome. And thanks again for your kind and encouraging words. It's always a blessing to me when I hear that these teachings have been helpful. And for what it's worth, I'm relieved to hear about your (what seems to me) very wise and prudent decision.

On your question, I'm most gratified that you would consider this (thank you!), but, for a number of reasons, this ministry is not set up to accept donations (see the link: FAQ #9: Contributions?). You might consider my dear friend Curt Omo's Bible Academy, however (website at the link).

I'm continuing to keep you in my prayers – and thanks so much for yours (those I do eagerly accept)!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Hi Robert....Ty for all of the work you put in to the new writing on Eschatology....I read it and learned so much. Is it possible to ever be ready or prepared for the tribulation period? If we don't have water, food, money etc. etc. at the time when we refuse to have the number of Satan imprinted on our body? I want to be ready but am not sure if it is reality to believe we could ever truly be ready except of course to trust in God.

Ichthys has also brought me much comfort this past year....I used to waste time reading fictional love stories now it's only the Good Book and Ichthys. I hope you are well my friend and when things get a little better financially, we wish to make a small donation either to the Ichthys ministry or a charity of your choice in your name to show appreciation for all of the loving kindness you have so selflessly given me this past year. We keep you in our prayers daily.

Yours in Jesus our Dear Lord and Savior,

Response #14: 

You are absolutely correct that the only preparation we can count on as being valuable no matter what happens is the spiritual preparations we are making and the truth we are storing in our hearts – that can never be taken from us (while everything else can be).

Thank you for your kind words and especially for your prayers. The spiritual growth you have evidenced through all the troubles you have shared with me shows the power of the truth and of the Spirit in the good heart of someone who really does trust the Lord. So while we are eagerly anticipating the end this trial, I am sure that one day you will be able to look back (as I certainly can on hard times and tests in my life) and see that God meant it for good in every way . . . even though it certainly was hard to have that perspective at the time.

On donations, for a variety of reasons this ministry is not set up to accept them (see the link: FAQ #9: Contributions?). You might consider as a very worth alternative pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (at the link); that is the substitute I always recommend.

Keep running your good race, and please keep me in the loop.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hi Bob,

Is the fact that the rich man is mentioned as wearing purple and fine linen a reference to Exodus 28:8? How does this compare with the LXX?

Sincerely,

Response #15: 

Purple dye was very expensive in the ancient world and hence became associated with royalty. The symbolism in the Law reflects the royalty of God. Here in Luke this detail emphasizes that this particular rich man was quite rich indeed; but he certainly didn't "take it with him" – and that is the point.

(7) Surely, no one can redeem a man['s life from God's hand], no one can pay a ransom to God for him. (8) For the redemption price of a life is too precious for Him to relent forever, (9) that one should live on forever, and not see corruption. (10) For everyone sees that [even] the wise die. They [too] perish along with fools and those who lack common sense, and they leave their wealth behind to others.
Psalm 49:7-10

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hello been a while, I was wondering if you could help on this topic "ransom of souls". Could you help with more info if you happen to know. I know it says it's to help with the tabernacle and things. How could this be applied in some way building a church today without any help from loans and things?. I know that in Exodus there was a purpose. Ransom of souls and tithing are different how could one be for building of the church and the other helping the needed? Thanks

Response #16: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

This phraseology your mention is the KJV's translation which, because of the contemporary meaning of the word "soul", is a bit misleading. Most other versions have "ransom for his life" at Exodus 30:12 (or sim.), and that is what is meant. The idea is that no one can be part of the fellowship – which represents the Church – unless a ransom has been paid; this represents the ransom paid by the blood of Christ (that is why it is called "the atonement money" in Ex.30:16), which pays for our sins and opens the door to eternal life. That sacrifice is, as my old pastor used to put it, the "coin of the realm" when it comes to entering the kingdom of God – and Jesus is the One who paid the real price which the money in Exodus merely represents (just at the lambs sacrificed represented Jesus' death on the cross, etc.).

Incidentally, the process of census connected with this "ransom" is also important, because taking a census represents the scrutiny of judgment for each person ("soul") who passes under the rod, so to speak (Ex.30:14). If a person hasn't had the ransom paid, that means failing the judgment – so that all unbelievers are condemned for not having accepted the ransom money, so to speak: they can't be forgiven the sin of rejecting Christ because it means standing on their own works which are, needless to say, insufficient (no other "ransom" could ever be enough, not even if a person could lay the whole world at the Lord's feet: Ps.49:7-10; cf. Matt.16:26). This is why unauthorized censuses were a problem – they brought premature scrutiny from the Lord before the fact which resulted in plague when no ransom was paid (as in the case of David's misbegotten census: 1Chron.21:1ff.).

When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.
Exodus 30:12 NIV

It is true that in Exodus 30:16 this money is used for "the service of the tabernacle", but since there is no national religion in this country where all males are counted and symbolically atoned for by paying this poll tax, there can be no parallel today. Applying this passage to a local church would be completely out of line, biblically speaking. Of course that doesn't stop individual churches or denominations from doing so. The Presbyterian church which I came up had a thing called the "per capita", which means essentially "poll tax" (both caput and "poll" mean "head" as in "an individual"), and I am sure that most groups have a basic membership fee of some sort which goes back to this same passage you ask about one way or another.

However, I would think that this would be a very poor way to raise money for a building project since 1) in the Bible it is a nominal amount for each person so a relatively small amount of money to be raised thereby in groups that are not millions strong as in ancient Israel where the whole nation was thus "polled" (so that even if everyone in local church X did participate it wouldn't get the job done) and 2) biblically it would be wrong to expand that nominal amount of money regardless of means:

The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less.
Exodus 30:15 NIV

Of course, this is likely just one more gimmick to motivate people to give money – which is, sadly, the only real objective that most churches and denominations have nowadays when you skim below the surface. Most everything else is just for show in order to support that goal.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Dostoevsky "Saint versus Idiot" Debate.

Two men are walking down a road together. A beggar comes up to them. Their places in the conversation will be denoted G-1st man, P-2nd man, B-Beggar.

B: Excuse me, sirs, could you spare a ruble? I am very hungry.

G: No! Go away and bother someone else!

P: No it's alright, I have a few rubles here. In fact, here's two. Eat well.

B: Thank you, sir. [exit]

G: Why did you do that? It's bad enough to give him one Ruble but you gave him two!

P: Well, I would rather he eat than be hungry.

G: As would I, but what would prevent him from coming to you tomorrow and asking for another two rubles?

P: I'm sure he will.

G: how can you be sure?

P: Because I take this path often and he asked yesterday and the day before as well.

G: What?! How often has he asked?

P: Everyday for the past three weeks.

G: And you've given him two rubles every time?!

P: No, of course not! There was one day I spared him three.

G: Three?! My friend, you understand he has swindled you out of over 40 rubles this month alone and that is a large sum of money, which you could use I might add.

P: I would still rather he eat.

QUESTION: Is P a saint or an idiot?

Response #17: 

P is a fictional character (as is B). It's always dangerous to draw any sort of real-world conclusions from fictional portrays in any sphere of life, and especially spiritually speaking (anyone who has ever seen a motion picture and considered the disparity between "the movies" and real life should know that). So I suppose my answer would be that if both P and B were real, P should do as the Holy Spirit guides him to do on each occasion.

When it comes to applying the truth to the world, scripture gives us some absolutes (e.g., the ten commandments – though even there Sabbath observance has turned into a continual walk with the Lord in the Church, and some things such as covetousness and honoring parents require interpreting motives and discerning actions). But for many things, such as showing love and mercy, there are so many variables that it would be impossible to give such specific guidance that a believer would be relieved of having to think about whether X or Y (or P or G) was right or wrong or somewhere in the middle. If I give a beggar five dollars today, does that mean I should do the same thing tomorrow if I see him doing the same thing? What if he's not planning to eat but drink or do drugs? Is it still a good idea? What if I can barely feed my own family and this fellow as a very accomplished beggar is really better off than I am (though he takes pains to hide it)? And if he is in genuine need, is five dollars enough? Should I feel guilty if I decide, for whatever reason, that I'm not comfortable with giving him money? Should I feel justified and righteous if I do? And should that feeling depend on the amount of money I do actually give him?

The Lord told us to be wise as serpents even as we are innocent as doves. We are told to walk in love and that even a cup of cold water given to a fellow believer will not lose its reward. We are told to walk in the good works that God has prepared ahead of time for us to do, and also to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our Lord. But we are also not to be fools or act out of guilt. If we perceive genuine need and especially in the case of fellow believers, that is one thing (Matt.5:42 assumes that the person is a believer who knows us). To make a rule of giving to people who are probably not really deserving is just as problematic as making one not to give unless we are absolutely sure of their need. Each person should act in accordance with what the Spirit prompts us to do at each time – and if we're not sure, then that is a sign that we need to keep growing and get better at listening to Him. But what is really not helpful is to listen to "famous people" whose own track records on these things is far from beyond reproach who wish to lay "guilt trips" on us for not being head-over-heels gullible in hypothetical situations.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

If you want to know my personal opinion: we are called to exercise childlike faith. P is a saint because he is trusting in Jesus Christ to give him his reward, and he is not looking to the world for answers.

"Then Jesus said to his host, 'When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'" (Luke 14:12-14)

If P were a real person, acting in childlike faith, he will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Response #18: 

We are called to childlike faith . . . in Jesus Christ. Not in Dostoevsky's morality plays. It's wonderful to be "trusting in Jesus Christ to give us" our reward and not be "looking to the world for answers". That is not what I get from the morality play snippet you quote at all. But it doesn't make any difference because it's not real – nor is it or anything like it in the Bible (nor was it even written by a believer, most likely). If reality can be subject to all manner of interpretations even with many of the facts known, how much more so things made up in the minds of "famous unbelievers"?

N.b., I also didn't see any banquets in this snippet. Even P didn't invite B over to his house. Our Lord's words in the quote you have here are the truth and they demonstrate that the only value of earthly things at all is in their use towards spiritual growth, progress and production . . . for which we are rewarded. But doing foolish things will not be rewarded. Doing things out of guilt will not be rewarded. Doing things that hurt other people (like our families) will not be rewarded. And using our time, energy and resources for things that make us feel good and assuage our guilt feelings will not produce rewards concomitant with what we would have earned doing things the right way – even if those other questionable things are rewarded at all.

I have no problem with a Christian being charitable. I do have a problem with other people – especially "famous people" – preaching at me to be charitable the way they think I should be charitable because they feel guilty about not being charitable enough themselves (or whatever their sinful motivations may be). The only thing worse than that is using government power to make me be charitable against my will often to those who are not really deserving even when it straps me and my family – and it's all part of the same mind-set.

Here's something else our Lord had to say on the subject:

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."
Matthew 6:2 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hi Bob,

What does it mean to be a glutton in Deuteronomy 21:20? Being a drunkard is self-explanatory.

Response #19: 

From the uses of the root zalal in the OT, it never seems to have the meaning "eat too much". The root means something to do with lightness and insignificance, and when attributed to the behavior of the person in question seems to mean that he/she is squandering resources (lightly esteeming them). It is connected on several occasion with excessive drinking, so that the idea is more one of carousing and riotous behavior. It seems to be the boisterous and unseemly carrying-on that is the offense in most of these passages and that is what I take from Deuteronomy 21:20 as well, i.e., not merely eating and drinking to excess but an involvement of the stubborn and rebellious behavior that usually accompanies such activities – and that is no doubt part of the picture in the "drunkard" description as well (cf. Eccl.10:16-17).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Hi Bob,

The Bible says that certain types of secured loans (ones that involve taking the covering garment of the poor) and usury are sinful and forbidden against the law. However, didn't the person in question consent to such an agreement?

Sincerely,

Response #20: 

There's a difference between what's legal and what's right. Scriptural injunctions on this subject are part of the Mosaic Law for governing affairs in the nation state of Israel – God's Israel which has not yet been reconstituted. However, there are many things which are wrong and clearly so for anyone reading the generic proscriptions against sinful behavior in the New Testament – or more particularly trying to walk by the law of love. These may not all be spelled out as such in the Bible in either testament – and they may even be legal – but that doesn't mean believers should have anything to do with them. Our conscience in the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of telling us what is right to and what is not:

(18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (19) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; (21) drunkenness, orgies – and whatever is similar to all these things. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, uprightness, faith, (23) humility, self-control. Against such things, there is no Law.
Galatians 5:16-23

Bottom line on this one: I would not encourage any Christian to set up a payday loan operation. If we are talking about engaging in political discourse or political action to stop the policy, I would not encourage any Christian to get involved in or participate in political action or political discourse at all. I don't remember the apostles remonstrating with the Roman authorities about . . . anything political or social whatsoever. But they did pray for them. That is our model:

[I urge you all] . . . to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1st Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1st Timothy 2:2 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Is giving loans at interest a sin?

"He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head." (Ezekiel 18:13)

I am not a moral relativist. Loaning with interest is a sin no matter how many Americans approve of it (or indeed, even if our entire economy relies on it).

Response #21: 

I'm not going to defend the practice, but it's also a little dangerous to condemn it based upon the Law. The Law was written for a community of believers, and an agrarian one at that. In such circumstances, of course it would be wrong to disadvantage a brother in desperate need of a loan to buy seed for planting by making him pay back more than I was willing to lend him. In fact my attitude ought to be one of forgiveness if he is never able (or willing) to pay it back to me. I think that is a good approach for believers toward fellow believers today (assuming we are moved by the Spirit to give and have the means to do so).

"And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil."
Luke 6:34-35 NKJV

What unbelievers do regarding other unbelievers in a secular state under secular laws is a different matter, however. The biblical regulations are not meant to apply to that situation at all, and were not in the past either, even to Jewish believers who were supposed to be living under the Law:

To a foreigner you may lend upon interest, but to your brother you shall not lend upon interest;
Deuteronomy 23:20a RSV

Further, under the Law members of the community of faith were not only not to lend upon interest but they were also prohibited from not lending to a brother in need (cf. Matt.5:42; Lk.6:30):

If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
Deuteronomy 15:7-8 RSV

And that was true even when it looked like they might not get all their money back (Deut.15:9-10); for of course there was also the Sabbatical year of debt forgiveness (Deut.15:1), and the year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year of the cycle when even property returned to its original owner (Lev.25:11ff.). Of course these gracious provisions were never actually followed in Israel (one of the reasons for the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity, i.e., one year for each Sabbatical year ignored: compare Lev.26:34 with 2Chron.36:21).

Any brother today who wishes to go into finance will have to think about such matters – but then we all need to examine our true motives in anything we do, especially if money is involved since loving money is "the root of all manner of evils" (1Tim.6:10), though not money per se.

However, a word needs to be said about moral relativism and moral absolutism. These terms are all very well for philosophers to use. For students of the Bible, however, we understand that circumstances and situations do matter. It is not permissible for a man to have relations with any woman . . . unless he is married to that woman in which case it is not permissible for him not to have relations with her (1Cor.7:3-5). Our Lord told the disciples not to carry anything with them during their evangelizing of Israel (Lk.9:3), but made it clear that things would be different once He had risen and ascended to heaven (Lk.22:36). Our Lord never used violence during the first advent, not even violent language (1Pet.2:22), but at the second advent He will personally kill millions of evil unbelievers "by the sword that came from the mouth of Him who was sitting on the horse" (Rev.19:21 ESV).

Situations and circumstances do matter. Between true moral relativism – by which I mean easily dispensing with all moral restraint whenever it may become inconvenient – and moral absolutism – by which I mean becoming so fixated on the letter of the law that one loses all perspective, becomes completely Pharisaical, and inevitably begins violating all manner of spiritually significant imperatives in the quest for perfection on some narrow range of legalistic stipulations – there is the "sweet spot" of actually trying to do what is right without at the same time destroying oneself by a foolish lack of perspective (Eccl.7:16-18): this is the world we are living in, and we are not perfect.

Let us consider briefly the example of interest. What if the IRS wrongly calculated your taxes three years ago and finally got around to giving you an additional refund – with interest because of the time gone by. Now trust me when I say that they rarely do the former and never do the latter, but it could happen theoretically. Some private companies do so in some circumstances (and I believe are sometimes required to do so by contractual obligation). Would you send them a check . . . for a couple of dollars (just to keep your record pure)? Most banks nowadays give some very small amount of interest to their checking account customers – and it's pretty difficult to live in this country without a checking account. My bank – one chosen for convenience – does this: I think I earned thirty or forty cents last year. Should I close the account and look for a bank which doesn't follow the practice? Most people who have permanent jobs have retirement accounts where the money is invested in various mutual fund options. I guarantee you that there are bonds in those funds – bonds which earn interest. Is it a sin to have a retirement account? Even if I take the trouble to set up some elaborate retirement system where I only own stocks and no bonds (this is generally impossible as most systems don't allow employees to actually pick stocks, only mutual funds, all of which own bonds even if they are primarily stock funds), I can tell you that every major U.S. corporation also has bonds in its portfolio. For those young people still living with their parents, no doubt their parents are involved in all such things of necessity, so there is some "fruit of the tree" in that case as well. In short, it seems to me that it will be easier to avoid the mark of the beast than to completely disengage oneself from having anything even tangentially to do with loaning money at interest – even you have little or no money.

I most certainly would agree that charging someone 50% interest for a "pay-day loan", or allowing someone to buy something on a credit card with a rate of 5% interest, then later upping the interest to 29.5% (which credit card companies can to at will) is grossly unfair, and I would never wish to be a party to doing so – but I do have credit cards and loans. Debt is a type of slavery, and it is huge problem in this society.

The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.
Proverbs 22:7 NASB

Personally, I find the student loan system particularly noxious, but that is a personal opinion; "solving" the problem is a political issue and, well, you know how I feel about politics. We aren't going to create the Millennium through political action – but we could make things increasingly worse (especially for ourselves in spiritual terms if we take up any cause).

In my view, this issue is not an area of strict doctrine (we are not Israel and we are not under the Law); rather this is an area of personal application. I can easily point out things that I don't feel any believer should even have to think about confessing (e.g., having an low-interest bearing checking account), and also things which are not only sinful but also horribly ill-advised (e.g., loan-sharking). For everything in the middle, like you, I would prefer to lean to the no-interest side of the road rather than the "go-for-the-interest" side of road (which many retirees, many who are good Christians, do). But it is still "a road" (area of application as we move forward), and as long as we don't get off into the ditch – on either side – we needn't worry about it. What other people do is not our business . . . if we are wise.

And [we encourage you] to make it your ambition to live quiet lives and to attend to your own business and work with your own hands as we commanded you, so that you may maintain a seemly walk towards those outside [the Church] and have need of nothing.
1st Thessalonians 4:11-12

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hi Bob,

If this were in the Pentateuch, I would consider the "we are not under the Law" to be a legitimate objection. However, Ezekiel is a prophet, writing a prophetic oracle that is instructing us, that is, the community of believers, about what is right and what is wrong. Notice the list of what the hypothetical wicked man does:

(1) He participates in gross pagan rituals.

(2) He commits adultery.

(3) He oppresses the poor and needy.

(4) He steals.

(5) He doesn't keep his promises that he made in public.

(6) He worships idols.

(7) He does all sorts of impure behavior.

(8) He gives out interest on loans.

We all (rightly) consider the first seven actions to be wicked and evil deeds. However, we do not put the eight action on the same level. Now, it could be possible, based on the Deuteronomy quote that you gave, that not all forms of giving out loans with interest were evil, but rather predatory loans (like "pay-day loans" that we see in the inner city) is what Ezekiel has in mind.

Response #22: 

You might also quote Psalm 15:5: "He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved." (KJV).

As I said, I'm definitely not recommending the practice and I'm not going to defend it (cf. Lk.6:34-35 quoted above).

But the Ezekiel passage is written to Jews under the Law; Jews were allowed by the Law to lend money on interest to non-Jews, so this is talking about violating a provision in the Law by those under the Law in regard to exploiting fellow believers (as all in Israel were supposed to be) when in need.

Please remember that even the ten commandments have been modified for the sake of the Church so that we are to fulfill much of what they say in a spiritual rather than a legalistic sense (that is certainly true of the fourth commandment; see the links: "Sabbath Rest is now continual Faith Rest", and "Transformation of the Sabbath").

The proper way to look at this sort of issue, therefore, is not to develop a legalistic love of detailed prohibitions (which must be painstakingly adjudicated), but to follow the spirit of the commandment in Christian love. Is your brother in need and can you help him? Then do so, without any expectation of being paid back. Love is the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets (Matt.22:40; Gal.5:14).

In Jesus Christ who freely forgave us all our sin, having died for them all on Calvary's cross.

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I just learned today that you were a Marine Corps Officer. That is a tribute to you in itself.

I really appreciated your response to my last email concerning "The Day of the Lord". Your explanation gave me understanding and clarification as always. As a sidebar issue: What is your view of what the church is teaching on Tithing? Personally, I don't think it is biblical. I do believe in giving, but don't want a preacher to tell me: "If you don't tithe, you are under a curse, and God cannot bless you. Then the use the verses in Malachi to bring condemnation on those who don't tithe. I could belabor this subject, but don't want to bore you with unbiblical practices.

We were visiting relatives during Christmas, but I was able to read your kind response. I just wanted to tell you at "almost the end of another year", that I so much appreciate your ministry that God has given you. You truly have been of great help and inspiration to me, and I have learned so much from your teachings. I pray that God allow you to live an additional time so that I can get answers to all my questions.

May the Lord continue to bless you and the ministry in the year ahead. God give you peace, joy and happiness in the days ahead as we await for His soon coming.

Your friend,

Response #23: 

Thanks so much for your good words, my friend!

I'm headed out of town early in the AM so if you don't mind I will just give you the links on tithing here – suffice it to say that your "spiritual common sense" is right on the money on this one as well.

Tithing and church polity

Tithing

Is Tithing Net or just 'Gross'?

Tithing and the Book of Life

Believers in the World III: Prosperity Gospel, Tithing

The "Prosperity Gospel"

The Dangers of the Prosperity Gospel

Are Health and Wealth a Part of the Gospel?

Does God really want us to be sick and poor? Revisiting the prosperity gospel

What is wrong with the "prosperity gospel"?

Do feel free to write back if you have questions about what you find in the above, and I'll respond when I am able.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #24:  

I got it. I understand it. I found your explanation of it on the site. Do you need any offerings to maintain the website? V/r

Response #24: 

Congratulations on your navigation skills! It's always an encouragement to me when readers start to get their bearings at Ichthys and find answers already posted (it can take effort, I know, since there is a lot there).

I am hanging in and hanging on. The Lord has blessed me with enough to get through, and keeping the website up is minimal compared to other expenses.

But thanks for asking, my friend! N.b., Pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy does accept donations (at the link). That is a worthy site as well, take it from me.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Hi Bob,

Will there be money in the New Jerusalem?

I know that the streets will be paved with gold, so if there is money, it won't be on a precious metal standard.

Sincerely,

Response #25: 

As Solomon says, "All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied" (Eccl.6:7 RSV). Since in resurrection we will not need to fill our mouths (though we will certainly do so), since we will be incapable of death, since we will have a perfect habitation eternally ours in the New Jerusalem, since the tree of life will be producing its variegated crops at all times to an unlimited degree, since we will be perfectly clothed in white by the Lord Himself, since, that is, we will have no needs and no possibility of developing any needs, a medium to transact transfer of ownership of "needful things" will likewise be completely unnecessary. There will be no scarcity in the eternal state and no need of any kind that might compete for it if there were. So just as there was no money in the garden of Eden, so also in the New Jerusalem, and a fortiori so.

In anticipation of that blessed day to come through Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #26: 

Hello Sir, I am truly sorry for bothering you a great deal this week. I just had a personal concern. When Wormwood hits the earth, how should we [followers of Christ] prepare for hardships such as water shortages? I know that only a few of the plagues affected the Children of Israel in Egypt. I know that the time of these events will be a true test of our faith and we will just have to trust in the Lord for all things needed. I just want confirmation, I guess, of what I already know. V/r

Response #26: 

I'm always happy to hear from you and answer questions!

As to this one about preparation for the Tribulation, as I usually point out, an ounce of spiritual preparation is worth a ton of material preparation. Perhaps the ratio is even greater, because while we know we will be able to use that ounce of spiritual preparation, regardless of how things work out, we have no idea whether or not anything we do materially will even be useful. For example, what if we expend all of resources on a cellar full of all manner of provisions . . . but the government or lawless individuals come and take them away, or we are carted off to jail or a camp, or we are forced to move out at a moment's notice – any of these would make all of our hard work and expense immediately worthless. And if we shorted ourselves on spiritual growth to make such preparations (as almost surely must be the case at least to some degree), where is the profit in that?

Please read the most recent posting on this: "Preparing for Tribulation II". I think your observation about the children of Israel is the right one to focus on. Even though we know that the spiritual status of this generation was very questionable – other than Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, they all died in the wilderness for their testing of the Lord "ten times" – they were nevertheless protected completely from the plagues that destroyed Egypt, provide for miraculously with manna from heaven and water from the Rock, and even their clothes did not wear out (Deut.8:4; 29:5; Neh.9:21). It's not a sin to put ten or twenty gallons of water in the basement. But it is a problem if it gets a person to lean on their supplies instead of trusting the Lord. I have faith that if we do need to stock up, we'll be given some indication of that in plenty of time – just as we will be directed by a supernatural communication to "flee Babylon" when the time is right, and just as we will be given the words to speak by the Spirit if we are hauled in front of one of antichrist's kangaroo courts – and in fact we are told in that case by the Lord Himself not to prepare ahead of time (Lk.12:11). The Tribulation is a unique time with unique events and different rules apply in many cases (please read CT 7 at the link). But we can be sure that just like the birds which neither reap nor sow, the Lord will provide day by day for those who love Him and who are genuinely walking close to Him – even if we never got around to putting those water jugs in the basement. But if in doing that kind of thing it led us to be less trusting of Him and His provision . . .

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

Thank you for always providing a courteous and insightful response to my questions.

Also, is there a place on your site to accept offerings towards the ministry extended by the content you've administered?

Kindly,

Response #27: 

And thank you for your kind and encouraging words and for your generous offer. For a variety of reasons, this ministry is not set up to accept donations (please see the link: "FAQ #9: Contributions: Can I make a contribution to this ministry?" for more details). However, I am very happy to recommend as a highly worthy substitute: Pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's "Bible Academy" (at the link).

Thanks again for the thought – I know that the Lord loves those who are eager to give (2Cor.9:7).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

 

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