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Question #1: 

Hi Bob,

This is something that is thrown at my face by atheists which I have only a rough idea of how to respond against. And it goes like this:

“How can you call Greek Mythology fantastic and ridiculous when God does similar events in the Old Testament and the New Testament? Aren’t you being hypocritical?”

My response is this:

“The reasons we call Greek Mythology fantastic and ridiculous isn’t because it features miracles. In fact, I believe that Greek Mythology does not have anything we would call a miracle, and to interpret fantastic events as miracles is to commit the fallacy of interpretatio Habraea, that is, interpreting Pagan religion using the hermeneutic of Judaism and Christianity (much like how the Greek scholars interpreted Egyptian religion as they related to Greek gods). No believer in the Homeric religion of Ancient Greece would call the event of Deucalion and Pyrrha throwing stones and having them transform into the human race after the global flood a “miracle,” because it was expected that crazy and irrational things happened in this universe, given that the gods and all of nature was a product of chaos. They are fantasy because they are just suspensions of the laws of nature that conform to the pagan dream-logic where chaos and whimsy determine everything.”

What do you think? As a Classicist, do you find it accurate?

Response #1: 

It's a nice response!

Never liked mythology, myself. The Greeks and Romans were only "believers" in paganism superficially, especially in the case of the Romans who were actually just highly superstitious (they wanted to be left alone only; cf. Job 21:14; 22:17). Greek and Roman poets had no problem changing around the details and adding things to the "story" whenever they pleased. Herodotus has a lot of info in book two about the coincidence between Egyptian and Greek gods et al.

Bottom line: mythology is not true in any respect; the Bible is true in every respect.

Are we being inconsistent? Not at all. We believe the truth. It is the lie we refuse to believe.

Atheism is belief in a myth – the myth perpetrated by Satan that "there is no God" (which is what Satan wants to believe and what he wants us to believe). But it is only a myth. There most definitely is a God – as every aspect of His creation shouts in the ears loud enough to be heard by those stone deaf.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Some words for consideration. Einstein has always been my #1 hero, simply for the fact that he rewrote all of physics.

Response #2: 

Yes, he was very smart. Perhaps the smartest person who ever lived. Too bad he wasn't smart enough to realize he was going to die and no would have no answers at the last judgment for his lack of a Savior. Actually of course, it has nothing to do with "smarts". It's a question of choice. We all feel for people we especially admired who couldn't get over their core arrogance so as to humble themselves before God and accept His Gift. It does go to show that being the smartest person in the history of the world is meaningless absent salvation; whereas being the dumbest is no disadvantage or cause for regret if the person accepts Christ.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Based on my personal studies, Einstein was not an atheist. Did he have heterodox views on God? Yes, but he was not an atheist. The idea that scientists are atheists came from a statistical survey of the National Academy of Scientists that showed that 95% did not believe in God. However, all of these “scientists” are narcissists and bureaucrats, and so this study was not representative of true heroes like Einstein.

Response #3: 

Of course it wouldn't matter if the percentage were reversed. God, after all, does exist. Even the demons know that . . . and shudder (Jas.2:19). What is required is to turn to Him in Jesus Christ and accept the gracious Gift of life eternal through faith.

Question #4:  

Hi Bob,

“Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD.”
(2 Chronicles 19:2)

How can we tell whether we are guilty of the sin of "doting over" those who hate the Lord?

Response #4: 

In the example quoted, Jehoshaphat had given significant material support to a regime that practiced Baal worship; the Lord's attitude towards the northern kingdom was also not in doubt given the continuous testimonies of the prophets. Not sharing in the cup of Ahab was a spiritual "no-brainer". I'm confident that you're not going to find yourself helping beast-marked storm-troopers track down starving believers during the Tribulation.

By the way, I saw David Berlinski on the tube the other day. He has a number of good anti-atheist points which proceed from a highly intellectual and scientific point of view. He's clearly not a believer, however, and it is also hard to see how his opinion of himself could possibly be any higher than it is, but the arguments might be grist for your apologetic, anti-atheism mill.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

The inmates are now officially running the asylum:

In a surprise settlement, United Church agrees Toronto’s atheist minister can keep her job | The Star

Response #5: 

The article should be surprising, I suppose – the kind of thing that would make you think you are reading "The Onion" instead of an actual newspaper. But this is where we are. The really sad thing, to judge by what can be gleaned about the larger group / denomination, is that they are likely no better off: even for those who believe that there is a God but who do not accept the truth about Jesus – whom I suppose they do not consider to be God – how can there be any salvation even though they may not be out and out atheists?

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
James 2:19 NIV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi Bob,

I don't know if this will help anybody. Here is how my dialogues go:

ME: You need a relationship with God!
ATHEIST: *sneer* Why don't you try a relationship with reality, Bible-man?
ME: I don't believe it is possible for a man to have peace without God.
ATHEIST: I'm peaceful just as I am! So I don't really need God.

Of course, this is after the atheist trolls the internet 24/7 posting obsessively about the God he does not believe in, against the Bible/Pentateuch he is convinced is sheer mythological nonsense, getting into heated and emotional debates against theists whom he is convinced are sloppy in thinking. Is that what inner peace really looks like?

If he is convinced that this non-peace is peace, then we have a real problem. And it's not just his problem. It's my problem too, because I am not going to passively stand there watch you ruin your life and your afterlife like that. Nobody will ever find God unless they seek him, and nobody will ever seek him unless they are convinced that they need him.

And there really is no price you can put on peace. It is priceless.

Response #6: 

Good stuff!

Question #7: 

It is foolish when atheists say "I'd rather go to Hell with Hawking and the great men blah blah blah." The idea is that God sends good people to Hell or that he sends people whose works are so good that it is unjust of him to do so.

But have you ever considered that it is possible for bad people to have good talents?

You need to watch this clip from the film Amadeus. In it, Mozart and Salieri are rival composers, and Salieri becomes extremely angry at God and renounces his belief in God after he meets Mozart. Why? Because Salieri works and labors throughout his life for music and is only mediocre, while Mozart is a complete buffoon but a genius.

Response #7:

Everything atheists say on the subject of God and eternity is foolish. It is all foolishness because it is all the result of hardness of heart. The Bible assures us that "they knew" at one point, then they deliberately blotted the truth out of their hearts and hardened them against the truth.

(18) God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness – on men who suppress the truth [in their hearts about God] in their unrighteousness. (19) For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. (20) His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His – [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity – so that they are without any excuse: (21) they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him. Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness.
Romans 1:18-21

That is the usual way of the human race; unbelievers do that (and are allowed to do it) in order to make it through life without having to bother over an issue they've already decided (see the link: "Hardening the Heart"). It is the grace of God that He allows them to live out some years even so – wherein they theoretically could repent; just as He keeps us here to show to what degree we believers really do love Jesus Christ, our response in growth, progress and production being the basis for our eternal rewards.

Good and bad is relative; so is great and small, but, yes, there are distinctions, human ones, that pertain even in hell:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:12 KJV

But it's God's opinion that counts. You and I and all believers are "righteous", "good" in God's eyes because we have been washed with the blood of Christ. When we stand before Him it will be for reward, not based on whether or not people saw us as "good" but based upon our Lord's absolutely fair evaluation of how much we grew, how far we progressed, and what we did for the Body of Christ.

Mozart wrote some fine music (if you like music); whether or not he was saved or what went on spiritually with his rival would be hard to tell even if we knew them personally.

But I have learned not to believe anything in movies (or the media).

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hello Bob,

Thank you for all of your prayers, and those who have prayed for me too. I was able to proclaim the Gospel Message at my brother's memorial without any hindrance at all. The LORD also gave me 2-3 other witnesses who shared the Gospel along with me. They said that they were thankful that I had witnessed to my brother before he went home to Glory. The only problem that I had was the person who headed the ceremony at the memorial (clergy men or women?). This person was referred to as "Pastor" Joy (female) who sprinkled "holy water" on all of us, and that she prophesied about certain events.

When is it correct to stop ministering to someone such as an atheist about the Gospel? I had tried to help an atheist understand the Gospel about 10 times, but he kept on refusing it. I was accused of intolerance and not planting any "seeds", even though my discussion with the atheist went nowhere. There are also times when I am trying to help a professing Christian that their doctrine is incorrect. For example: a professing Christian claimed that those who believe in "predestination" do NOT know God at all. I quoted several passages in the Bible where it specifically uses the word "predestinated" (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4-5). Even after I showed this person that to say that "predestination" is "unbiblical" even when I CLEARLY cited the passages that uses that EXACT word. She and her female friends (they seem to hate men and accuse men of being incorrect even after showing them that my interpretation has been backed up using Scripture) said that I am intolerant and made personal attacks on her. And they completely ignored what I wrote. This discussion went on 2-3 more times and she remained obstinate and would not accept correction. I responded by quoting Matthew 7:6 regarding casting pearls before swine. I used the word "hogs" instead of "swine" and they were deeply offended. Was I wrong in citing that verse even after a lengthy discussion about a major biblical doctrine? They also accused me of being unloving. And when should I leave a discussion about the bible even after dialoguing several times with such a person?

God Bless,

Response #8: 

I'm very sorry about your brother, but encouraged to hear that you were able to use the opportunity of the service to share the truth. That is wonderful and important, because while most unbelievers are able to block out the obvious issue of death most of the time (and its implications), these occasions offer a chance to break through for some when otherwise they would not be as receptive. I think that any time there are multiple people ministering there will be levels of truth given – from 100% to zero (as seems to be the case here). So while this sort of thing rankles me too, I think you handled it well . . . and you did YOUR job as unto the Lord.

As to limits, these are questions of discernment of circumstances. These are between you and the Lord in the Spirit to figure out. The more you grow, the more obvious the answers will become – and they will be different in one important respect: what is appropriate for a highly advanced believer may not be exactly the same as for a baby believer and vice versa (with gradations along the line).

You are very persistent. That is a wonderful trait – but the danger of it is when it verges into stubbornness (I have to watch that as well). Knowing "when to quit" is an important skill that develops with growth. I think your remembrance of the "pearls before swine" principle is excellent. Quoting it to others might only provoke them, however. After all, if you've just given them the truth and they refuse to accept it, the chances of them receiving this further truth in the right spirit are about nil. After all, our Lord gave His disciples this principle; He didn't quote it to those who fit the description.

You are fighting a good fight, my friend. I see the Lord developing you for ministry. The key here is spiritual growth, so please continue to make a point of being committed to listening / reading good Bible study ministry every day. As you grow, so also will your discernment. And don't worry if you feel after the fact that you "could have done it better". There's little point in looking backward beyond "taking the lesson" and moving forward thereafter. This is a battle and no battle was ever fought perfectly. The important thing is to keep fighting and to keep trying to do it better day by day.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your quick response.

To be sure to see my name on the ichthys site felt so much an honour, much more than I would feel than receiving a Queens Birthday honour award! As to changes, yes, there is one you might like to make right away, please let me know if this requires me to submit a new copy.

Being the beginning of fire season and deadlines, I have some urgent issues to deal with here, so other than these minor changes that I could send you, the others will need to be done a bit later on. Am under the pump, literally, as I work on the water pump and related deadline issues.

A brief report on other things: Thank you for your prayers. I also keep you and yours in mine. My friend died about two weeks ago, was cremated at 4pm on a Wednesday, his wife was not in attendance, being 200 km away, sitting inside their house, receiving support from her friends, when a very strong gust of wind blew her front door wide open. As they looked up at the clock it was 4pm. My other friend has recovered quite a bit - he and his wife are coming back today after a weeks break in a forest caravan park chalet. When we can get together, our Filipino friend continues to give a good lesson. I let his comments on his interpretation of the tri-fold nature of man mimicking the tri-fold nature of God slide, as I had already bought up a slightly different interpretation on another topic. I will reintroduce the bi/tri theme from your teachings in an offhand way later so as not to be confrontational.

We seem fairly healthy at the moment, barring my littlest son’s cuts and bruises on Friday.

In the rush and tare in the city yesterday the Lord managed to open my mouth to a fellow in a little one man shop at the undercover markets. I noticed some church literature on the counter. He asked was I a Christian. Yes. I asked him about the Tribulation. On a sheet of paper I wrote your website (in my urgency, I couldn’t find my Ichthys card, which was in my wallet). I sketched a rough time line of the 33, 2033, 7 year Tribulation, 3 1/2 midpoint of the antichrist, told him of the coming deception of religions and the world by the antichrist. He had heard about it but the rapture might take care of it. Well that was why I wrote Mark 13 down on the paper as well.

Also found out some nice young men, nicely dressed, were talking to him about religion. Well! Red rag to a bull! Mormons! Well I was on about their false doctrines, the Masonic temple ordinances, their take on the Trinity and my previous involvement in this false sect.

The only “line” I may have missed to over emphasise was “Many false prophets and false Christs will come. That will wait for next time I go to the city. Together with a few business cards.

This all took place in about 10 minutes. Sometimes I believe the Lord uses us in spite of our multitude of weaknesses. (Why should others miss out just because we are not up to the mark. The Lord certainly is more than capable). It somewhat stunned me that so much ground was covered by the Lord in so little time. I returned to find my family near the car park, chomping on the bit for our errands yet to do.

As always, my gratitude for your ongoing generosity with your understanding of the Word of God.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ, the One Mighty to Save.

Your student and friend

Response #9: 

I'm sorry about your friend (you did all you could indeed), but good news about your other friend – and thanks much for the report on your courageous efforts in sharing the truth of the gospel! It's most inspirational.

As to the index, whenever and if ever you want to make changes and additions, just send along the new copy and I will do the rest.

Thanks again for your work, my friend!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily – and thanks so much for yours!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Dear Professor

We have subsequently had no internet for 3 and a 1/2 days. It was not meant to be fixed for another few days by a technician, however, my wife had a tinker with it today and it came alive! The fire season has just begun and I have quite a backlog of work to do to be fire ready. Long story and a few hurdles to go yet. I missed out on my cafe day last week as I was so busy. Redressed that today by going and inviting my pilot friend along. The fellow has sold his house here and as he will be leaving soon. I thought I would check to see how his view on the pre-trib was going. He had previously given some indication of willing to entertain a different view.

Me: You know there is no pre-trib rapture.
Him: Yes there is. It says so in Revelation.
Me: Show me where it plainly says that and I will believe it. I have never seen it.

He left without responding.

Just before going to the cafe, my friend said he had just about enough of the cafe, as the men seem a closed shop to the truth. I said I do not want to give up so we went together. This result was not what I was hoping for. At the least I thought he may have presented a case.

Our Filipino friend and my Australian friend are leaving in two weeks for the Philippines. I am wanting to send this Expanded Index and your books so that my family member there can read your writings and share that with the rest of the family. They have a lot more trouble with the internet than we do here!

Just another thing - I did not want to give the impression I shared your writings courageously with the man at the markets. He was quite friendly, and seeing he was willing to share his faith (by way of having some pamphlets on his shop counter) and following my comment about it, him asking me if I was a Christian, certainly was done in a very friendly manner. Not much in the way of courage there. Still a way off from being hot, rather than lukewarm. However, I do very much appreciate your kind encouraging words to my now and again little efforts that I do for the Lord. Please always remember that I rely heavily on your teachings and writings, and they are what give me confidence to share the truth with others in a meaningful way.

In the One who gives us more than we can presently know.

Our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Your student and friend

Response #10: 

Thanks much for the update, my friend. I have replaced the file and it's up and working. Thank you!

We are none of us perfect, and we do need to have the attitude our Lord told us to have, namely, that "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty" (Lk.17:10), but we are still allowed to feel a certain amount of satisfaction in a job well done, even if we are far from boasting about it and well aware of how much more we could have done and could be doing – that is true of us all, after all. So I'll stick with my commendation, even as you stick with your humble assessment. This is one of those times where it's good to "hold onto the one and not let go of the other" (Eccl.7:18).

Keep up the good work for our Lord, my friend. I certainly appreciate this index, and I know that it will prove useful to many others as well (here's hoping it does so in the Philippines right soon!).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dear Professor,

Today’s top temperature here is 37C today, so I got up early to tackle some watering, weeding and slashing at the block. Got back home for some breakfast/lunch, called “brunch” here. I am grateful our Lord has blessed me to be able to tackle these jobs, as 12 months ago I was unable to. I am thankful He has answered prayers.

This Christmas is pretty exciting. One of my relatives who usually comes down for Christmas is working his last two weeks with a company, so will visit in the New Year, when he is out of work, before a job search. He is the “atheist”. His best friend committed suicide a couple of years ago and does not want any happy birthday greetings. It is a sore point for reasons I am unsure of. He does not want to talk about any purpose for life.

I read a little in your above reference concerning how foolish it is not to believe. I am sometimes thinking of ways I can “introduce” Christ into our talk without a big argument happening.
Prayer is often the ONLY way change can happen.

So it is a happy, noisy time of the year.

Hope you and your family also have a joyous time together this Christmas and a Happy prosperous New Year.

I still think our Lord wants us to promote the gospel whatever the time of year.

In His Holy Name, Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Your student

Response #11: 

"I still think our Lord wants us to promote the gospel whatever the time of year".


And you are actually doing it. Your zeal, and more importantly your follow through, are prods to me to do what the Lord wants me to do as well – and I'm sure that is true for every other godly person who sees your example. That is what Christian association is all about:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24 NIV

File received and uploaded.

Happy Christmas!

In Jesus who is our Lord and the One we love every day of the year.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

It seems to me that when this scripture was translated that the word "destroy" was used.

"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Matthew 10:28

Here is what Strong's says:

"622 /apóllymi ("violently/completely perish") implies permanent (absolute) destruction, i.e. to cancel out (remove); "to die, with the implication of ruin and destruction" (L & N, 1, 23.106); cause to be lost (utterly perish) by experiencing a miserable end.

I don't see this "absolute destruction" be used correctly in this verse. To me this word destroy means: "To put an end to existence". Using this definition is what atheist and agnostics believe, that when we die we cease to exist. That is the reason I believe that the choice of the translator using the word "destroy" is not appropriate, for that is not what happens when an unbeliever dies physically. It also does not make sense as we know that unbelievers will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever and ever, suffering so great an anguish that we cannot even begin to imagine.

Am I incorrect in my observation, and if I am, then I need an explanation on what I just said.

Thanks as always for your great help.

Be blessed always,

Your friend,

Response #12: 

Good to hear from you, my friend, as always. You are absolutely correct – very good!

The gist of the explanation is that if a person is killed physically and ends up in the lake of fire, that is "destruction" of the "LIFE" because now the person is no longer alive physically and has also suffered the second death. This does not mean, as you have rightly concluded, that said person has gone out of existence or is not conscious of what is happening. One would think that atheists and agnostics would be able to figure that out from the whole point our Lord is making; that point is that we SHOULD fear God precisely because He has this power. But if all He can do / will do is terminate existence, that's not much of a cause for fear especially considering how miserable this life is. Indeed, one of the main systems of pagan philosophy at the time of writing – about as widespread as the R.C. church today – was based entirely on the notion that death was not to be feared precisely because it would end in nothingness instead of in eternal punishment (Epicureanism). But the whole point of this passage, Matthew 10:28, is the coming judgment and punishment by God – that is what to be feared . . . but it needn't be if annihilation were meant here (which of course is not the case). A good example of how translation can easily skew the meaning if not done with care.

This is all explained further at the links:

Matthew 10:28

Bible Interpretation VIII (see Q/A #14)

Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment II

And from "Matthew verse by verse":

Matthew 10:28 (NASB)
28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

*Q: Is soul here used as a synonym of spirit?

48) No. What we have here is the word psyche and psyche refers to "physical life" (see the link); if we believers are killed (i.e., if our physical life on this earth is taken away), it does not affect our eternal life (or resurrection bodies). But for those who deny the Lord, the end result is the second death rather than eternal life. Therefore God is worthy of fear but human beings are not.

Hope you are doing well. Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Dearest Dr. Bob,

We wish you and your family a Blessed Happy New Year 2019! I hope and believe Our Lord has kept you all well. My family sends you their choicest Greetings and Love from India.

You are always in our prayers. I know I have not been in touch with you for a while now. But I will be in touch with you more often this year. We are praying for you and your family and The Ministry and your job. My dad passed away in May with Alzheimer, he was 70. I hope he is with The Lord. He knew The Bible from front to back like the back of his hand, but he struggled with mental illness. Am glad his misery ended.

I have made the best new year resolution ever to seek and follow The Lord wherever he wants to take me. I received Deut 28:8 as my promise verse at church today and I love it and am so glad. There are a whole bunch of things I have planned to do spiritually and in my business life, but I am keeping God and His Kingdom First! I know you pray for me and my family always. I am so thankful.

May God Bless you Abundantly in all your endeavors going forward and your health and general upkeep.

All our Love from India

Your faithful family in Christ Jesus for Everlasting

Response #13: 


Great to hear from you.

Happy new year to you and your family too!

Sorry to hear about your dad, but I do understand. My mom's passing was a blessing by the time it happened because she was more or less out of it and completely miserable. But she kept the faith until the end. From what you tell me, I'm confident that your dad was a believer too, even if he had a rough set of final years.

Wishing you and yours a very blessed 2019 with spiritual growth and production for the Lord.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Thank you Dr. Bob.

I can understand your mother's plight. Well I'd sure be happy to see my dad in heaven. I believe your words. I am currently witnessing to some atheists and OSASers on Facebook by sheer Grace from our Lord. I will write to you as I need help on expounding certain passages. How is the weather in KY? Our mutual friend and I had a good conversation on FB messenger yesterday. Thank you for your prayers for him. We love you Dr. Bob. You gave a Blessed day.

Response #14: 

Good for you, my friend! The Lord has a ministry for us all, and I pray for your success in this one. And remember it's often not the results we can see that will be rewarded before the judgment seat of Christ.

There is info about OSAS and atheism at Ichthys. Let me know if you need any help locating the links.

Yes, our friend is terrific (check out his page on Ichthys at the link).

Thanks for all your good words, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hi Bob,

I had a new roommate move in recently, and we got to talking. Long story short, he grew up a Pastor's kid, went on some long worldwide missions, and then lived his early twenties in a sinful lifestyle. He's now back in the fold, ~27, and associated with a church plant tangentially related to the church I sometimes attend (depending on who is teaching).

There are some things we talked about that I want to bounce off you to make sure I'm parsing the situation correctly. This was a good experience for me in "talking up" to someone, since I'm years his junior by a few years.

1) Expectations for different people

One of the things that the conversation stalled on was the idea that God expects different things for different people. I made some offhand remark about how I'm like a "fourth generation" Christian (i.e., most on both sides of my family back a few generations have been Christians of some stripe) and it would therefore be "worse" for me to go off the deep end in college with respect to temptations.

What I was thinking with regard to this was that I've had the truth presented to me all my life from all sides – not just my parents. Not that "family ties" or whatever give us any slack with the Lord, but that I'd been raised in an environment where I was constantly exposed.

For some reason he took great issue with this comment. I tried to make clear many times that I wasn't puffing out my chest and saying I'm a fourth generation Christian (as some sort of boast), but that I had no excuse. But it still seemed to really get under his skin.

I turned the conversation to scripture with Luke 12:47-48. To me, this passage has always been pretty straightforward. God expects the same general pattern of behavior from all Christians (i.e., the standard is the same), but we are all judged with perfect justice based upon our actual circumstances. To whom much is given, much is expected.

But we went round and round on this too. Semantics about the word "standard." ("God doesn't hold people to different standards because the standard is the same"). Complaints about the fact that we can't ever really know other people's hearts. And so forth.

2) Generalizing

Related to the above, we spent at least 15 minutes talking about whether or not we can generalize about expectations based upon people's life state.

He was of the opinion that the fact that he was a Pastor's kid was neither here nor there. That "God judges everyone by their hearts" and that circumstances like this don't matter. So, under these assumptions, I would not have a higher expectation despite growing up in a strong Christian family and having "more opportunities."

I think the argument went something like Luke 12:47 depends upon how much people actually know God's will, so we shouldn't make assumptions about people based simply upon where they find themselves in life because maybe they don't actually know God's will.

I found this somewhat unconvincing. But didn't want to push it too far before I thought it through more. I was careful to mention that time is somewhat of a red herring in spiritual maturity (a red-hot Christian of 2 years may be far more spiritually advanced than a lukewarm Christian of 20), but that this doesn't mean that we can't make "rule-of-thumb" judgments about people's behavior based on how long they've been Christians and their general "exposure level" to the truth.

In general, I just couldn't wrap my head around the thought that someone could grow up surrounded by the truth and not have any better an idea of God's will than someone who grew up in a very negative unbelieving environment (such as an inner-city gang).

3) "Simple faith"

Subtle accusations of intellectualism came up several places in the conversation. I've faced this before – people claiming that I'm speaking from privilege, a coddled upbringing, and what have you, and that "not everyone can be expected to talk about these things."

I accept some of the sentiment (Ichthys is not everyone's "cup of tea," e.g.), but was absolutely floored when he brought up an example of someone reading one verse a day for years as someone that I couldn't generalize about. Sure, one verse a day is better than no verses a day. But the implication was that I was imposing my "legalistic" standard of Bible reading/study on others...that the fact that my first response was "only one verse a day?" was somehow problematic because it betrayed biases or whatever. (?!)

His general argument: what about all the "simple people" Jesus ministered to? What about people who can't read, or can't read complicated things or denser materials? Isn't "just believing" enough? "How can you draw distinctions between people based on how much they read and study since you are "predisposed" towards reading and studying... isn't that favoring you?"

4) Ministry targets

We spent some time talking about the state of the church: I was more concerned by the total lack of teaching, and he was more concerned with the lack of unity.

He goes to a couple of bars in the town to play music and engage in outreach. The church plant he is associated with has as one of its core goals "racial reconciliation." Several of his friends from when he was back in Atlanta were openly gay people who claimed to be Christians (whom he did have conversations with about the wrongness of their state, at least).

I tried very much to not immediately jump to conclusions based on what would be mistakes for me. But at the same time, I found myself very much feeling like it was my duty to point out that if he is just a few months out of a lifestyle of sin, so maybe bars with various temptations aren't the best place to go?

Then there was the idea that the church is not unified enough. That it is a terrible thing to have churches that cater to one particular set of cultural assumptions and beliefs (think stone-faced white protestants vs. energetic African-American gospel churches). He was pushing hard for full integration of all peoples regardless of preference or communication style (etc.), and I kept mostly silent.

5) Will to live

Toward the end of the conversation, we prayed for each other, and he mentioned repeatedly that he often felt the desire to be taken out of the world right now. That he would pray to go to sleep and never wake up. Things of that sort.

We had a level conversation about why these things are selfish (we are here after salvation in part to help others), and how suffering is a part of growing up as a Christian. But I'm not sure if any of it really got through to the point where he felt like it would be better for him to be around another day rather than getting called home overnight.

So that's a general summary for background. I certainly don't want you to "take my side" or whatever, but I would like your thoughts on the below, so that I can be ready when any of these come up in conversations in the future.

1) Expectations for different people

God does judge us based on our knowledge of his will. But Luke 12:48 is even more general than this, right? As in, people who are given more education, more wealth, a more supportive family, etc. entirely aside from spiritual considerations also have higher expectations put on them?

2) Generalizing

So long as we understand that we can never truly know another person's heart, and that there are exceptions based upon determination and seriousness, is it OK to say things like "people that have been Christians for 10 years should be expected to do/not do XYZ more than Christians of 2 years"?

This just seems like common sense to me. And related to the above, this would mean that it is not odd or strange for God to expect more out of children that were raised in more overtly Christian environments, right?

3) "Simple faith"

While people all have different backgrounds and intellectual capabilities, in our modern day of almost universal literacy, it is not at all out of line to expect serious Bible reading and Bible study, and to view people who do not engage in such things as "less determined Christians" (without getting legalistic about it and not making a point of lording distinctions over people).

This again strikes me as just common sense. I don't see how someone can get to maturity on simple faith alone, otherwise we wouldn't have the Bible and teachers in the Church, right?

4) Ministry targets

While it is true that everyone is called to different ministries, I am very wary of making prescriptive statements about the behavior of others. For example "all Christians should go out and seek Christian brothers and sisters dissimilar to themselves and try to live as one body... unlike the behavior of most (white/middle class/other dirty word) churches!"

What do you think of trying to push for full unity across racial and ethnic boundaries? To me, as long as all the churches welcome everyone with open arms, there is absolutely no problem with different churches forming around shared culture and values. It's one of the reasons all the Bible's guidance on church polity is so flexible – because different people groups value different things, there are many good and right and proper ways to "do church" depending upon the group in question – so long as the truth is being taught – correct?

Or should we try to push everyone into heterogeneous local churches and dissolve differences in practice in the name of unity?

5) Will to live

While it is true that the proper Christian perspective on death is that it is a good thing to depart and be with the Lord, we should not be actively be praying for our own deaths, right?

In Christ,

Response #15: 

It's good to hear from you, my friend. I hope that your summer classes are going well, and that you are able to get a bit of rest and relaxation between the lines as well. I'm certainly praying for both.

I think you are handling this very well and I certainly do affirm all of your conclusions here. There are two things I would wish to say. The first is that part of the problem you are dealing with is that of definitions. People who let Plato's Socrates define the terms always lost the argument. We are not in the business of arguing, but if we let others set the terms of the discussion and accept them as if they were reasonable from a Christian point of view it will be more difficult to help them see things clearly and to make our own position clear (at least).

It is true that to whom much is given, from them much is sought, but that is speaking of servants and their production. Someone who has not been put into service because they are unwilling to prepare for it in the first place hardly need worry about expectations. So you are correct that any lesson taken here would start with a commitment to grow and progress and then and only then be concerned about doing a faithful job in ministry once that ministry has been assigned.

Also, it seems unnecessary even to point out that this doesn't work in reverse. Our Lord's words are meant as prods to get us going; they are most definitely NOT meant as an excuse for those who don't feel the need to do so – because of putatively not being given much. That is a very dangerous thing to assume, moreover, especially for someone living in the USA who is of enough intelligence and means to be in college here, for someone with the gift of the Holy Spirit and living at a time when the truth along with the tools to find the truth are more easily accessed than ever before (even if both are out of fashion in Laodicea).

Importantly, I should add, the only expectations that matter are the Lord's. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or opines on this point. We are responsible to Him and we are going to have to give an account to Him and no one else.

Most of the other objections from your new roommate fall to the ground for the same reason: we are responsible for what we are given not for what someone else is given or not. So in regard to what the Lord expects of us and how we should respond to Him, it really wouldn't matter if 99.9% of the Christians in the world really were not "expected" to grow, progress and produce – because the Lord certainly does have that expectation of us (and of all others too – He provides wherever anyone is willing to respond). I am corresponding with a number of prospective pastors in different parts of Africa whose spiritual progress and keenness in the Spirit to understand the truth is superior to 99.9% of US Christians I have had contact with in this country, and none of them is privileged by any means. But even if your roommate's excuse were valid for third world Christians, how would that be an excuse for someone who DOES know "what the Lord wants" and could most definitely do it if willing? That failure is a prescription for "many blows" to go back to Luke 12:48, and pointing to the failures of others won't get us off the hook when standing before the Lord. I am sure that many unbelievers feel that they can say "others didn't hear the gospel so it's not fair to condemn me!" Not only is that not true (effectively, since no one who wanted it ever failed to get it), but would matter even if true because "this person" HAS heard.

In my experience, most people in this world construct a "personal theology" which they use as a shield to avoid what they don't want to do and to justify what they do want to do. This ranges from atheism to multitudinous personal takes on any manner of Christian denominations and sects, but it always ends in the same place: "not Thy will but MY will be done". In other words, the whole point in making up your own truth is that you don't want to have to deal with the actual truth.

It is difficult to argue with these personal theologies even though they are tragically flawed from top to bottom (as you have so articulately discerned in this case). Simply put, until an unbelievers is willing to accept Christ, nothing we say or do will matter (although the Lord may use us to break through to them); analogously, until a believer has finally decided to live for Jesus Christ and Him alone, nothing we who are "boiling for the truth" can say or do is going to convince them that their lukewarm approach is wrong. In fact, what you are experiencing is so common as to be almost universal, namely, attempting to convert others to the same unquestionably wrong approach. Why? It's the "safety in numbers" principle, the same one cult members adhere to, the same one the devil employed to suborn a third of the angels, namely, the idea that, "If I can convince you I must be right even though I have doubts at the core and thus I strengthen my wrong into right by getting you to see things the same way. I am uncomfortable when you challenge me but more comfortable than I was when I refute you (in my head)."

I can't think of anything worse than forcing the very few churches and ministries in this country which are actually devoted to seeking and teaching the truth into a false unity of lukewarmness for which this person advocates. As to what others do, be they Charismatics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Evangelical Frees, and African Methodists, it's of little consequence to me because these only vary in style and appearance, not in substance: underneath they are mostly all the same, lukewarm to the core.

You have sacrificed a great deal to get where you are at, my friend, and I know that the Lord honors that greatly. He is going to put you into service when the time comes precisely because you have heeded His words – like those at Luke 12:48.

So while roomie may think that there is no significance in the difference between your approach and his, there is all the difference in the world:

And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
Malachi 3:18 NIV

Your friend and fellow soldier in the fight for Jesus Christ and His truth.

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hi Bob,

I recently fell in love with Sigmund Freud's theories, because I realized that the core idea behind them is actually true. Later I realized why I loved the core ideas behind Freud's theories: because they're exactly the same as the core ideas Aquinas had regarding human psychology.

Aquinas wrote that the human psychology had a "conscious unconscious" (henceforth CU) that was responsible for "deep" thinking, and that this CU was responsible for our decision making. I don't know if he wrote it down explicitly, but given the scientific nature of Aquinas's thinking, he also probably believed that if a person were to engage in counseling, they would eventually "let down" their defense and reveal the CU.

In academia, what is it called when you write papers using ideas from another thinker without citing?

This also solves a dilemma many Christian counselors have with "secular" psychoanalysis. The truth is, psychoanalysis is not inherently a secular idea, but rather has its roots in Christian theories of human thinking and decision making. It just happened to have exploded in secular academia because an Austrian academic dressed it up in humanism.

Response #16: 

Well, my friend, as Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun". Human beings are what human beings are and that is obvious to most people who have some measure of intelligence and bother to study things objectively (cf. Jn.2:24-25). The Greek historian of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, describes historical action in very similar terms – but better and earlier than others like Freud (see Luginbill [1999]).

This is all part of natural revelation (link), certain obvious truths about life and the world and people, individually and collectively, which, taken together with the "eternity in our hearts" (Eccl.3:11), the knowledge inherent in us of a Creator who is perfect in every way, ought to set everyone on the path to salvation – and it does; it's just that most are not interested in going in that direction for a variety of selfish reasons.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Is There Salvation Without Repentance? In the Book of Jeremiah, God describes what repentance is like:

"I listen to their conversations and don't hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, "what have I done"? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!"
(Jeremiah 8:6)

"Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD."
(Jeremiah 8:12)

Repentance = horror + shame, followed by a change of mind to never do evil again. If Christians do not repent while they are living, why do they presume they'll have a "second chance" in the afterlife? Lukewarm deists and agnostics like to believe in "second chance salvation" where Jesus Christ reveals himself in full glory and asks if they would like to change their mind. Just so their reward is totally disconnected from the life they have lived. But Evangelicals believe in the same stupid lie: second chance repentance. Just so their reward is totally disconnected from the life they have lived.

However, Ezekiel tells us it is a lie. "None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of THE RIGHTEOUS THINGS they have done, they will live." Also notice that the "righteous things" are in plural. So there must be at least two good works, and hopefully many more, a contrite sinner performs, and these good works will make them live.

Same for the apostate. "But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die."

And if Judas and Esau were horrified and ashamed by what they had done, that just means most Evangelicals are more evil than Esau and Judas. Not the most flattering comparison.

And like the wicked Israelites, they complain that God is unjust for requiring good works. But is it God who is unjust? Is it not you who is unjust, believing that saying the magic words will cause God to acquit you? Is that not infinitely more unjust?

Response #17:

It's always important to keep in mind that the nation of Israel was composed of believers . . . at least it was SUPPOSED to be – and that is how the Lord comported Himself towards them. Repentance from sin is for believers. Unbelievers need to turn to God. That is a sort of repentance too – in the true biblical sense of the word which means to drastically alter one's thinking (doing a "180" in one's heart). But it is misleading to conflate the Lord's commands to His own people to stop doing things that spit in His face with the behavior of those who were no part of Him in the first place.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

You said, "Unbelievers need to turn to God."

Repentance from sin is usually a component to that. Almost every atheist (99%) believes that sexual immorality is moral. So that raises the question: just how much of the atheist's neglect of the first tablet of the commandments is motivated by the desire to do something on the second tablet of the commandments?

Response #18: 

On the contrary, recognition of sinfulness does show that we need a Savior, but confusing that with repentance is a dangerous thing, because then salvation becomes work – us reforming or attempting it – when salvation is truly all about us accepting the Gift whereby our sins have been forgiven without us doing anything.

(8) For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this did not come from you – it is God's gift. (9) Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!"
Acts 16:31

As to atheists, they are a special subset of unbeliever. It's not just that they have not "yet" believed in Christ and accepted the Gift. Rather, they have rejected God completely, even denying the existence of Him who gave them life – and even though they know (or knew) very well in their heart of hearts about Him and what He was like:

(18) God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness – on men who suppress the truth [in their hearts about God] in their unrighteousness. (19) For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. (20) His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His – [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity – so that they are without any excuse: (21) they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him. Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness.
Romans 1:18-21

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Yes. It is about what Jesus did and not what we have done. But there is a warning in the Old Testament.

"Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty."
(Exodus 23:7)

God warns against judicial murder (including the future judicial murder of Jesus Christ) with a very stern warning: I will not acquit the guilty. You will not kill and innocent person, claim the blood of Jesus covers you, and still get into Heaven.

Response #19: 

Obviously, anyone who hardens their heart past a certain point is very unlikely to turn to the Lord – Pharaoh for example (and cf. Rom.1:18-32).

Believers who harden their hearts to do unspeakable things damage their faith and push themselves ever farther from Christ. At some point, they stop believing. That is the definition of apostasy: only believers are saved (see the link).

In Jesus Christ through whom we are saved by grace through faith alone.

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Hello Bob,

Thank you for your reply, and it has taught me much and gave me clarity regarding who my neighbor is. I have a question that concerns someone that I am trying to tell the Gospel to; but this person is what the world calls today a "trans" or "transgender". I feel that someone as such needs to hear the TRUE Gospel, and not some diluted or another Gospel that "teaches" that it is OK to be sexually immoral. I feel this is different than lets say someone who continues to disseminate false doctrines that will send people to a eternal hell. This "transgender" person feels as if it is not a sin to be that way. They will always make excuses such as, "God made me this way!". Or they will change the meaning of bible passages and use the excuse that the passages condemning sexually immoral practices were cultural, and exclusive only during that time. I have heard this before.

I really want to help this person out, but at the same time, I don't want them to get to a point where they are offended and I lose contact with them. Somewhat like having a fish on a hook, but then I struggle too hard or have the wrong technique, and the fish ends up escaping. I know that some of my Christian friends want no part of ministering to this person, but I feel the opposite, because we were all once sinners. I just don't know how to broach the subject without having to lose this person's interest in the Gospel. What can I do in this situation?

God Bless,

Response #20: 

Since you use the fishing analogy – and our Lord has made all of us believers "fishers of men" (Matt.4:19; Mk.1:17) – we also know that every fisherman has his/her own technique and that all fish are different too. What all fish have in common is that if they are not biting, we are not going to catch them. But if they ARE biting, then a practiced fisherman who exercises patience always has a good chance. And in terms of actual witnessing, God is the One who is empowering the process and bringing success.

So the first thing is to determine if we really are being offered an opportunity. That is fairly easy to do, it seems to me. If the person knows we are Christian, and if we dangle a little bait, something like, "yes, the recent tragedy at XYZ is terrible – I don't know HOW people get through this world without the Christian hope!" Now if someone really is searching for the solution to sin and death, they are likely to nibble at that one (and, by the way, I'm NOT suggesting this particular one for you – everyone has their own way of stating the divine and godly viewpoint of anticipation of salvation and eternal life, and every prospective believer is different too, and we must take the audience into account in how exactly we express the truth, remembering that the truth always has to be presented truly).

If they don't nibble, we might want to think about waiting for a better time and a better opportunity. We can't force the issue. We wait in the boat for a bite. We can wiggle the hook, but we can't make the fish bite. If we bang on the water with an oar and command the fish to come up, guess what. We may be making ourselves feel better ("Look at me! I witnessed to so and so!" – but they didn't respond), but we are not winning anyone to the Lord that way. The fish have a vote, because it's all about free will.

What if they do nibble? I think it is a mistake to introduce the issue of sin in giving the gospel, except for the critical facts that we are all sinners, that Christ died for all of our sins, and that all of our sins are forgiven when we believe. Don't forget: the gospel changes all who respond to it. The heart is washed clean. The person is given a new heart, one devoid of hardness. At that point of salvation, the new believer is temporarily at least freed from all prior sinful entanglement. If they really are ready to persevere with the Lord from that point forward, He will help them to walk a sanctified walk, and change whatever it is that needs to be changed. But if we make an issue of some sin or sinful behavior in which they are enmeshed BEFORE the fact, then we are putting conditions on salvation – and there are no conditions on salvation . . . except to accept the Gift of Jesus Christ, acknowledging who He is and what He has done for us through faith in Him.

Death is something everyone dreads (except believers), and the offer of life eternal is the most wonderful thing on this earth. To avoid death, darkness and judgment is worth all a person has, like selling everything for the pearl of great price. If the Spirit convicts someone's heart of that truth, they will flee death by running to the gospel; they will need little convincing from us. The Spirit is the One who really does the convincing. Our job is to provide the truth, the simple yet incredibly powerful truth of the gospel. It is not up to us to try and fine tune an "after response". If we do that, there may very well be no "after response" because the person will see the gospel as huge load that requires them to "give up" this and that after being saved. Now you know very well yourself that we all ended up giving up "this and that" after we believed because the gospel and the truth we learned and accepted thereafter changed us. It is the same for everyone. But that happens AFTER; it is not a BEFORE condition.

And you don't have to worry about "saying sin is OK" either, not if you are witnessing correctly. Now if you are jamming the gospel down the throats of people who aren't interested in it, then this may be an issue because they are only interested in justifying their conduct and not in being saved, so that is where the discussion went. But if you are really only responding in love to those few who demonstrate that they DO want the truth, then it will all work out fine. If they want eternal life and are grateful to accept Jesus Christ, guess what? They will easily begin to turn their lives to Him in all respects after they are saved. That is, if you net them after you have fished them.

How do you net them? All too many Christians and even major Christian groups engaged in evangelism get the fish to the surface and then let them go. No. You have to give them direction thereafter, help them to grow as you have grown. Of course, way too many Christians and Christian groups involved in evangelism have not grown to spiritual maturity themselves, so even if they have "caught" them their nets are filled with holes if and when they do use them. A new believer has to be led to a place where he/she can grow in the truth. That should be a local church but today most of these are sadly deficient on the score of helping to produce genuine growth because they don't teach the truth in any depth of detail, if at all. Nowadays one finds what one can find where one can find it. I would be pleased for any new believers to be pointed to Ichthys (or Bible Academy) or any other place where the truth really is being taught. But pointing a new believer to a legalistic church that will dictate their behavior or to a libertarian church that will tell them it's all OK (whatever "it" is) will not produce growth in either case, and a very large number of such new believers end up "jumping out of the boat" and reverting to the world as a result.

So I wouldn't worry about this, my friend. If a person really does want to hear the gospel, that is of God: give them the gospel. Once you do, if they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, their hearts will convict them to turn away from anything and everything sinful, regardless of past behavior or beliefs. And if they are led to a good place where they can grow, they will do so in increasing sanctification.

But if they aren't really that interested in the truth, will they believe? And if they "believe" on condition of doing ABC, are they really saved or is it a works contract in their heart? And even if they legitimately accept Christ, without being led to a place where they can grow, will they be able to resist the siren song of the world and their prior lives so as not to fall back away?

Only the truth can save a person. Only desire for the truth can motivate a person to be saved. Only continued attention to the truth can keep a person safe after being saved.

Best wishes for you in the Lord, my friend, in all your noble endeavors to spread the truth of His Word.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hi Bob,

My deceased friend's mother is receptive to the gospel. Despite being abandoned by her husband who is in slavery to X sin she is willing to come to a church with me.

She still doesn't believe that X is a sin, but I hope that this action is being started by God. If God has started it, he will finish it.


Response #21: 

That's wonderful!

Being saved is all about responding to the simple truth of life eternal given by grace through faith to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Points of doctrine (including important ones) come later – because a person cannot really understand any of these (not in terms of the truth versus mere gnosis) without the Spirit they receive on belief.

No doubt this is also the Lord encouraging you and showing you that your labors on His behalf have not been in vain, my friend (cf. 1Tim.3:13).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hi Bob,

She said she was not interested in going to church. I fear that my work for the Lord may have been in vain.

Response #22: 

Given what "church" is today in Laodicea, not wishing to "go to church" may be a positive sign. And besides, our efforts are measured by the Lord based upon what is in our hearts, not based upon how others respond to them.

As for you, you love Jesus Christ. That love will protect you no matter what.

You have nothing to worry about . . . except maybe about worrying too much.

Everything is part of the plan of God, and He has plans for your.

So hang in there, my friend. This fight is a "day to day" affair. We don't have to worry about days that haven't even arrived yet. They may or may not. If and when they do, they are unlikely to turn out the way we had expected, whether for better or for worse or just different.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1st John 5:4 ESV

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Greetings bob

Thanks for the reply and I really enjoyed going through the links they have been refreshing and edifying.

Just a clarification. I have no ties with these people I mentioned only that we keep on bumping into each other more often these days. It's somewhat annoying, people haven't gotten over the spiritual gifts and press on to spiritual growth and production.

On another sad development I met someone who asked me the very questions and concerns from the last email but the only thing different was that the person asked me that, apart from the gifts mentioned in Romans and Corinthians what other gifts are there? Since almost all the "spiritual gifts" listed in these letters are not in operational, do you have any other list or comparison of current operational gifts?

Another question. A colleague of mine has been aspiring to start a church "visible". For sometime he has been rallying support and doing evangelism forming small cell groups, he is a Law graduate, we were together in high school few years back, the thing is, for the past three years he has been organizing cell groups and numbers have swelled up that attendants have grown over 700 so he plans on launching a church this coming month and he has been asking me to be part of it, what could be the best counsel or answer can I give him because clearly it's going to turn out to be just exactly what I have come to believe will be the source of problems? I will greatly appreciate your advise.

Response #23: 

Understood, my friend – and you are very welcome.

Here is a link to where all of the spiritual gifts mentioned in scripture are discussed: in BB 5: "Spiritual gifts"

On starting a church, my question would be "why?" Of course people have reasons for what they do. So what is the reason to start this church? The only biblical reason is to provide a setting for the teaching of the word of God which in this case ought already to be going on in some small group with at least one prepared man who is doing most of the teaching; or if a group gets together who have no teacher, putting in together in order find one and possibly hire one (if that is necessary to bring the individual to the area) would be the reason. But you don't need a dedicated building for that; and you don't need to formalize membership for that. So this "why?" question (whether posed or not) cuts to the quick of what is really going on, in my opinion.

I have said a prayer for you and the health of your family and will put a request on the Ichthys list as well.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:  

Thank you Dr Bob for the quick response and thank you for saying a prayer for me and for my family. I will surely go through the links though I have read pneumatology time and again but this time I'm going in with precision and direction.

Well, concerning the church part, since in the ideal sense everything has already been done, I too find no reason for starting what's already happening, but on my part it's going to take a great deal of controversy and discussion to convince my friend.

Thank you!

Response #24: 

You're most welcome.

Asking about the motivation is not a bad way to get someone to investigate the "why?" of what they are doing. I'm sure "for the glory of God!" is a good pat response, but is God really glorified by doing things the wrong way?

(12) "When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? (13) Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies."
Isaiah 1:12-13 NIV

"I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me."
Amos 5:21 NIV

"Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," says the Lord Almighty, "and I will accept no offering from your hands."
Malachi 1:10

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.
1st Corinthians 11:17 NKJV

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Hello Bob,

I've been trying to help a friend out and bring him to Christ. I've been teaching him things about the bible and he seems to get a good understanding of it over the years, and has gone closer to Jesus, too. He is poor and I've been helping him out financially so he can help support his family. Lately, I've noticed that he's been spending the money I give him on the wrong things...like cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling. I've told him many times to be careful how he spends the money I give him and he got upset at me, telling me to enjoy life and have fun. His friends think that I am just a person who likes to bring people out of their fun and am a downer.

Anyway, please pray for these people for Godly wisdom and understanding of God's Word, and perhaps they will be taught a lesson from all of this and return to the Lord wholeheartedly with love and guidance from The Holy Spirit.

God Bless,

Response #25: 

You are a very generous person. I have noted that before.

People tend to take advantage of others who are overly generous. I would counsel you not to continue to throw good money after bad. Unbelievers don't grow closer to Jesus just because they continue to hear the gospel over time; they believe or they don't believe. The behavior you reported is not indicative of a believer.

It's OK to keep praying for such folks. But fooled one time is quite enough in something like this. Just because someone is poor does not at all mean that therefore he/she is a believer or going to believe upon hearing the gospel.

I don't like seeing you exploited, and allowing yourself to continue to be exploited is something I don't think the Lord is requiring either.

You have a good heart. Please take some basic steps to protect it.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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