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Believers in the World VII

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Question #1: 

I was really quite surprised when you told me the amount of hits ichthys gets yet so few even look further than a minutes reading, perhaps they’re only interested in the hoopla and razzmatazz, glossy photographs and videos that other sites have but are lacking in plain facts. Stats on Google Analytics tells me exactly the same thing with my END OF DAYS.

I am now understanding just how frustrating that is for you knowing the work that has gone into it so far – and ongoing but rest assured those who value ichthys are eternally grateful. I sincerely hope that some lukewarm Laodiceans are shaken out of apathy in one way or another before these days arrive.

Keeping you in my prayers and that ichthys will continue to have free course in this rapidly decaying world – even in Tribulation.

Will make this do for now dear Bob and again with brotherly love,

Response #1:  

I used to be somewhat frustrated about the numbers years ago, but I have learned my lesson on that one. I am happy to help one single person, and I have met a multitude of good Christians through this ministry, not the least of whom is yourself. As I tell others, not all ministries are destined to have the results we would like. Most of the prophets of the OT were not in fact listened to – that doesn't make Jeremiah any less great. The Father is the One who gives the results according to what He has planned (1Cor.12:6). We are merely His chosen instruments for the glorification of Christ in the power of the Spirit (cf. 2Tim.2:20-21). Here is what I read in scripture:

Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
John 7:18 KJV

This is our Lord, of course, but we are supposed to emulate Him in all things and this a good place to start. What we do is for the glory of God and the good pleasure of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who will judge us, so we needn't care a fig about what the world thinks – even while we would prefer a better response. Come to think of it, however, given what Laodicea "likes" and what Laodicea "wants" (obvious in the legalism and ritualism of some groups on the one hand and the false ecstasy and hyper-emotionalism of other groups on the other hand), maybe lack of great response is a badge of honor.

So keep fighting the good fight – and I hope this development leads to some genuine ministry opportunities for you, my friend. Keeping you in my prayer daily.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Dear Teacher

I thank you very much for your prayers. They are a constant encouragement to me.

While I spoke with one of my relatives on the phone yesterday, the conversation turned to the amazing changes that I have experienced through Ichthys and for once someone was actually interested enough to want to see the website for herself. I gave her the link and I am praying and waiting to hear that it is doing for her what it has done for me. She lectures in a seminary in Lagos and takes the Bible quite seriously but, like me, I don't think she has ever been taught.

Then yesterday as well, my fiancee asked some very good questions that made me very happy and confident that she is studying the material on Ichthys. She is currently reading Angelology in Bible Basics (she already finished Theology) and I asked her how she was finding it. Here's our conversation. Please tell me where I could do better in answering her questions.

Question: Why did God need to replace? And why not with more Angels?

Answer: This part (like much of the doctrine of the Genesis Gap) depends very much on what is observed from other passages.

Personally, there are a few reasons that I believe that he is right:

1. There were animals at re-creation and they were not for our consumption. It was only after the Flood that God gave them to us (and apparently to each other as well) for food. So, when He made them, it may have been because they are a normal part of creation.

2. From Ezekiel 28, we know that Satan was what Man was made to be: God's regent on earth. While it does make sense that a ruler could be one over forests and mountains, I think that the intelligence that God gave to angels and then to a significantly limited degree to Man after required the challenge of a more complex universe to enjoy ruling. So, animals and complex plant life must have existed to give the angels sufficient occupation for their considerable abilities.

As I just pointed out, this is shown in Man's own experience with the animals at the dawn of our own existence. You will recall that the snake had the faculty of speech. The context does not suggest that this was weird at all. And Adam had had to organize and assign identities to the animals as part of his work as ruler of the earth. Even since the Flood, although we do eat animals, studying and training them is usually very satisfying intellectual engagement for us. And we are not as smart or curious as the angels were designed to be.

So it makes sense to assume that the first creation was at least as complex as the later inferior one which God made out of its ruins. What Professor Robert teaches is that it was their curiosity about material bodies that Satan fanned into flames of desire for them. So, their desire to have bodies is what led to their rebellion, not the other way around.

So, they just want the experience of living in a material body. That is why they rebelled. And once they tasted material existence, they got addicted to it. That does explain why they would possess even swine when they were driven out of a human body by our Lord. I mean that in their possession of animals back then, they grew to desire a certain kind of body more and more so that may have led to their trying to make one that fit their needs more and more. That would involve them manipulating the genetic makeup of the animals that existed then creating monstrosities that God eventually destroyed with the Universal Flood. Yes, that is how we know: because we found that the whole universe was covered in frozen dark waters. And because God had to divide the waters to expose the Earth once again and allow the possibility of re-creation.

Question: Can you explain why you think God would have mentioned that Deluge at Noah's time?

Answer: It is a paraphrasing of Professor Robert's own translation. You know that he is at least as qualified a translator as those who produced the familiar versions are, right? But even so, it makes sense because other parts of the Bible tell us that God does not create imperfection. So, He could not have created a ruined earth that He then had to refurbish.

1. Because God is perfect and only creates perfection. So the number of angels he created was perfect. Any reduction would have been imperfection. So when Satan fell, Creation was made imperfect by the imminence of his Judgment. So, God was going to replace him to perfect creation once more.

2. Angels were created all at once. God does not do partial creations so He would not have created new angels. Plus, angels have a specific nature. To know whether the new angels would do as Satan and his angels did would take the same length of time and maybe produce the same results? We don't know for sure, but God decided to create Man and when He did, He gave him the same responsibility that Satan once had. That certainly meant that Satan was to be replaced by Man.

Man was also created to educate the angels about God's Love, Mercy and irresistible wisdom. Through a weaker, disadvantaged creature, the angels were going to see what God could do to save anyone who sinned against Him. He was also going to show that Satan was a liar, so He would use a weaker creature to show that what Satan and his angels would not do although they were well able to do it could be done by a creature who, if Satan's accusations and arguments were true, would be completely unable to do it. A new partial creation of angels would not have accomplished any of that.

How is your health, Sir? And everything else?

Yours in our precious Lord Jesus Christ

Response #2: 

That was a really excellent response, my friend – good for you! Your insights into the material are also very solid and illuminating and I believe also correct; so I learned a thing or two from reading your response. There is no underestimating the power of the Spirit when He is dealing with the truth and someone who knows and loves the truth – that has been my experience as well.

I'm not sure I could have done nearly as good a job as you did here, so your fiancée is very blessed to have you. I will make a couple of observations since you ask – and since I even edit myself it's only fair to edit you when asked to do so.

First, everything you say I agree with. But it is important to note that some issues for some people are more difficult to accept and digest than others are. When we are dealing with those who are just coming to the truth or who are reluctant to accept it in any way, it can be useful for them and for us not to make too big a point about things that are not absolutely essential. The important thing about the devil's rebellion is that it sprang from his arrogance and his unwillingness to subordinate himself to the Lord – a problem all unbelievers have as well so something we are all well acquainted with in our own life experience.

I am thrilled to hear that you not only accept the explanation developed at Ichthys about how it was that Satan managed to bring others along with him and also to see how masterfully you have developed the idea (as I say, I learned some things from reading your further deductions); for those who are just hearing these things for the first time, however, I have noted over the years how many people will allow one small thing with which they take exception or which they have a hard time believing and allow that "one thing" to be the catalyst for them turning away from the ministry and the broader patterns of teaching entirely (or at least hindering their acceptance of other more important things). Sometimes this is only an excuse; sometimes it is a manifestation of resistance; but whatever the reason, I have learned not to be overly enthusiastic about minor points where there is resistance of this sort. Mind you, I never back off from the truth, but in speaking with those who are not saved or who are saved and not yet committed to detailed study, I try to keep the Lord, who He is and what He has done for us on the cross, as the focus and always try to bring things back around to Him. You actually DO this at the end of the email, so I know that you will be receptive to what I am saying here.

My old pastor used to speak about this issue and give us all the following advice: approach Bible class like you were eating a fish; if you come upon a bite you think has a bone, carefully put it aside – you can always come back to it later; don't let it ruin your meal. Good advice for the diner – but also good advice for the cook: don't place more bites with what will be perceived as bones in front of your guests than you absolutely have to.

Finally, as I say, I'm not sure that I could have done any better – it is a fine job! When people I care about ask me questions I tend to answer them just as you have done, though I have learned to go soft in areas where I know they will have problems until such time as they are able to bear "solid food" (and chomp up the bones without difficulty).

Thanks for the updates and explanations and for all your good news too! I'm continuing to keep you and your family in my prayers, my friend. And thanks for your prayers and inquiries. I am "endeavoring to persevere" and managing to do so in all respects, God helping me. Feeling a bit better of late; crises at work have at least not exploded to the point of hurting me – and I trust in the Lord.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

[Inquiry from Brazil in Portugese]

Response #3:  

Dear Pastor,

All of the materials here are free to be downloaded and there are multiple formats for this. Sadly, I don't produced hardcopy books (see the link; and here are two other links to some other ministries which may be useful: "Other Resources" and "Bible Study Resources").

The most "book-like" format I employ is the PDF. Here is the link for the BB 3B study: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin (which sounds as if it would be the best one for your purposes).

As for affiliation, this ministry has none. But here is a link to explain the antecedents and affinities of Ichthys (with additional links for more information): "About Ichthys"

Thank you for your interest in and kind words towards this ministry.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Dr. Bob Luginbill,

A bit of a liberty to write to you on the matter that follows. My wife and I have been thinking that we would like to attend a short term summer course that would strengthen our faith and give us balanced perspectives. The objective would also be to spend some time in the US. A month or so in terms of course length, could be a little less or more. Nothing too intensive ! We have not traveled to the US. However we have recently been given 10 10 year Visitor (B2 Visas). If you can point us in a direction, we could write to the seminary, college etc. and see what is possible. I am 60 now and yielded my life to Him at age 32/1988 (I come from Christian family background, have generations of Christianity behind me !). Had been working with Corporate organisations. In 1991 I joined the Bible Society of India and was employed with them till age 50/2007 when I took early retirement (helped by a heart attack). Since then I have been enjoying life, and in the process am involved with putting my favorite reading (My Utmost For His Highest) into languages of India. We have done 9 languages in the last 9 years. I only coordinate (choosing translators, working with them, DTP, arranging Printing etc., and the Distribution) the work, and that too unofficially and pro bono. My wife has been involved with me in everything, and in recent years has been focusing on systematic Bible Study for women; she was a group leader with BSF/Bible Study Fellowship, and is now Teaching Leader with Explorer Bible Study (explorerbiblestudy.org). We have no children.

So, if you can think of a suitable place where we can do a refresher course, do let me know.

Best wishes

Response #4: 

Good to hear from you again. As to your question, if we are talking about Bible courses, I'm afraid I don't know much more about what is offered over summers at seminaries and Bible colleges than could be found on their websites. I couldn't recommend such classes at a secular university such as the one where I teach. I suppose a lot depends on what it is you want to "refresh"? Greek, Latin and Hebrew are rarely taught here in the USA anywhere in the summer, but some seminaries and Bible colleges do have summer offerings on various biblical subjects. If you can give me a better idea of what you're looking for I could possibly give you some info on whether or not the place you are considering is a good bet and would be worth the effort.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Thank you Bob,

The "Refresher" I think should enable my wife and me, to put it romantically (from His Word!), remember our first love for Him, and maybe take us deeper in the relationship with Him. To listen to fresh perspectives(Word based) that may disturb fondly held beliefs : to listen to suggestions on meaningful attitudes towards current day issues people face.

My wife and I attended a Haggai Institute of Christian Leadership program many years ago, and I attended an Asian Institute of Christian Communication course in Changmei some years ago. Those were good. Maybe something similar is what we need ? Thank you for being willing to help me search for what is appropriate.

Response #5:  

This sort of study, especially through official organizations where tuition is paid, is not "my cup of tea" personally. I do maintain a list of fairly conservative seminaries and other groups which often do offer such things, courses, workshops, seminars, etc. Mind you, I do not vouch for or endorse any of the places on this list; it is meant for the convenience of readers only (so caveat emptor definitely applies). Here's the link: Seminaries and Universities

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

In Romans 1 we are told that unbelievers suppress the truth about God.

Well, do you think emotional suppression is free? No, emotions have weight. They have gravity. And the bigger the truth you suppress about God, the greater the emotional weight. And what happens? Your thinking is disabled. Because you're diverting your thinking towards suppressing emotions.

Response #6: 

The process by which people can be relieved of that stress of suppression is called in the Bible hardening the heart. The further a person departs from the truth, the more hardening is necessary in order to live in this world without going insane.

This is an important issue for you to understand thoroughly in your apologetic ministry because the atheists you treat with, for example, have to have hardened themselves against the (initially) universally understood truth about God's existence and His perfect character (and the ramifications of those truths) much more so than e.g. agnostics or religious people who don't have any use for Jesus Christ. Here is a link to where this is discussed at Ichthys: "The Three Phases of Hardening of the Heart".

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill!

I've lost access to my old email, so I wanted to make sure to let you know. I never responded to the last email you sent me in response to the one I wrote to you about my experiences at work. But I read it and cherished it. Would you happen to have copies of the emails you've sent to me over the years? I used to like rereading them, but can't now that I no longer have access to them.

My mother has fallen ill again. Please keep her in your prayers.

How have you been? Whenever I read your weekly posts, I remember to pray for you! After a long week of worrying about the things of this life, your teaching helps remind me that this world isn't the one I'm living for. I've been forgetting that too often lately.

In Him,

Response #7:  

It's great to hear from you, my friend, though I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I have been praying for her (and you), and will continue to do so. Thanks for your prayers as well. Things on the job were very difficult last year (I may have written you about that), and with the new shortfalls and new cuts coming when there is already nothing left, well, let's just say it's likely to be an "interesting" academic year ahead. My health is some better. Not jogging yet, but I am able to walk and have been doing so now regularly.

I hope you have recovered from your accident and that nasty no-pay work-you-to-death job situation.

Separate from this email, I'll send you all the old ones of the past I can find (I did a computer migration last spring and some things seem to have been lost and what I do have only goes back about eight years because the theft of that computer in a robbery back then). So look for a number of emails from me – hopefully your email client and server won't think I'm trying to spam or scam you! Let me know if they don't show up (that'll mean they've been blocked or sent to bulk/junk mail by your system).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Dear sir/friend,

Are you well? I hope the exercise is helping. I visited my gramma's. I tried to ask her if she believed in the Lord. First she said she thought He was just a great teacher. Then she was upset saying the Bible treated women like property. I tried to say the Bible doesn't, but she is convinced. Then she said she can't accept someone can be evil their whole life and then repent and go to heaven. And I tried to say (I was trying not to dig or be argumentative, and use as few calm words as possible) that I think the idea is that we have all done awful things. And she didn't disagree but said it wouldn't be right for me to do evil all my life and then repent and go to heaven. And I didn't know what to say.

If I can squeeze a small Bible question in (but if you are busy, please ignore): there is a place in the NT where Paul says not many of you should become teachers. Why does he act like the position is a choice and not matter of gifting? I mean why doesn't he say, 'if you find you have the gift of teaching, etc"?

I am trying to do what you always advise: look behind only to the cross, and forward only to New Jerusalem.

Response #8: 

Those we love the most are often the ones that give us the most concern on the issue of salvation. And it is always hard to talk to them of all people about the issue, so kudos to you for doing so. I do promise to say a prayer for your grandmother, and there is a prayer request for her up on the Ichthys list. I will also add that there are no doubt plenty of cases where people are marginal believers and pretty far away from the Lord but still saved. That's not something we can count on, but it is something we need to remember when this issue is weighing heavily on us. Because one thing is for sure: the Lord knows YOU and your heart, and He also knows how important this is for you – and He knew that before He created the universe. So don't lose heart, and we'll be praying for your grandma.

As to teaching being a gift – which it is – and James 3:1, there's no conflict. Many are called, few are chosen. And many are gifted, but few prepare sufficiently, grow sufficiently, and progress through testing sufficiently to come into the ministries Christ has for them. That is especially so when it comes to teaching the Bible because the lead-time on preparation is greater than with any other of the active gifts (in my opinion). It takes time to learn the Bible and its doctrines well enough – not to mention the other things that really ought to be mastered first (such as ancient history, church history, systematic theology, and of course the original languages of scripture last but by no means least).

On top of that, as James reminds us, teaching the Bible incurs a greater level of responsibility, one that many men are unwilling to commit to – and that is certainly prudent if they are not going to be able to do it the right way. That greater level of responsibility which many find off-putting makes a good deal of sense too, because, obviously, those who listen to the teacher and accept what he says as true are going to be building their lives on that truth, and to the extent that what he teaches is in error, it makes it that much harder for those who listen to build a good edifice of spiritual growth. And believe me when I tell you that the Lord does indeed hold those who are teaching to a higher standard. As with many gifts and the ministries that they would lead to, most in the history of the Church have chosen not to do what is necessary to get to the place of the proper functioning of their gifts so as to be put into service by the Lord. But as long as they have grown spiritually, progressed through testing, and helped out with someone else' ministry (equivalent to putting the talent out "at interest" in the parable of the talents), well, that's two out of three crowns, and the percentage of the Church making it that far is probably also pretty low (at least in our day and age for sure).

Thanks for all your good words about these materials, my friend. I'm very aware that the Spirit is the One who is responsible for all the "good" there may be here (Ps.115:1). Not that I don't work hard at it . . . "though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me" (1Cor.15:10 ESV).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Dear Professor

I always pray for you and your ministry first and foremost and then for all others that genuinely seek to serve the Lord.

As I am working on a personal PDF “index” of YOUR Subject Index on the Ichthys Home Page (happy to share it).

Just an brief update here at “home”. My friend’s house seems a magnet for many flavours of believers. He and another visitor telling me about Billy Graham’s son’s visit here, bringing some 600 aboriginals to Christ in our outback recently. When I asked how they would keep them engaged, a Christian based radio station is endeavouring to keep them fed with the Word. I do pray that all that desire will be fed. Same station plays pop Christian music which I am not found of, so seldom listen to. A retired pastor turned up at the magnet and also expressed similar words to myself. He works part time judging minor cases in the local courthouse (permitted till he turns 70). He is same vintage as me. I wrote your website down for him as he seems open to the views I expressed, many he similarly shares. He shared that his church were soon to be voting on issues such as same sex marriage and homosexual priests. Somewhat out of self interest I am hopeful he will have a positive experience at Ichthys. Be nice to have someone to share your site personally with. Perhaps if he could search some questions on your site before the vote at his church it would give him extra knowledge and resolve to make his stand for the truth.

Your grateful student in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Response #9:  

Thanks so much for your prayers, my friend! I'm keeping you in mine as well. Also, I appreciate your efforts on behalf of the site.

On your riposte: "When I asked how they would keep them engaged, a Christian based radio station is endeavouring to keep them fed with the Word . . ." Well done you! This is, in a nutshell, my "problem" with evangelicaldom. Here in Laodicea most Christians, even evangelicals, can't be bothered to learn the truth much beyond salvation. They are spiritual babies, and their whole Christian purpose, as they see it (beyond going to church to hear music) is bringing people to Christ -- but then they have nothing for them . . . except to take them to church to listen to music. When this incident you report is adjudicated by the Lord on that Day, I would be interested to know how many of these "600" really were non-believers before, and of those who were how many really did believe in Christ . . . and of those who did how many persevered in faith. Without the truth sunk deep in the heart, it is difficult to persevere even now. How much more will that not be the case in the Tribulation?

Thanks for all you do, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Dear Professor Luginbill

Thank you for your prayers. I do not know how you keep up with it all. Thanks for your acknowledgment. I do not think I have done much. I was saying to the magnet, I feel as though the field has bolted halfway around the track, while I am just getting out of the starting gate. We console ourselves that we are where we are and head on after the Good Shepherd. I am so thankful for your site and I would never be able to be grateful enough for the light, knowledge and blessings it brings to me and my family.

My efforts at evangelism are pretty dismal, as I discovered when the JW’s knocked my door again yesterday. I invited them in to sit down which was declined. Invited her to search the Ichthys site; she is comfortable with what she believes thank you. How about getting a little uncomfortable; no thank you. I will read one of your tracts, for you reading from Ichthys; isn’t that the symbol of the “born again” people she says.

Her JW view: antichrist are many and largely symbolic of our world system, no real guy to watch for; 1914 Jesus started ruling from the heavens when Satan was cast down to the earth (that’s why the world is so evil now compared to before) [What? No previous horrors?] It is a hard thing to have them consider a Tribulation as actually explained in scripture. Jesus is not God, but a god. etc

Perhaps it is said in scripture some where, though I had a later thought, Only God could atone for the sins of mankind. No lesser god would qualify or be able.

The abundant blessings from feeding at your site are wonderful in all areas of life. There is also the challenge of doing what the Lord would have us do in all things. So tomorrow is cuppa morning instead and I am eager to hear from the retired pastor, (magnet believed he previously had many parishes to oversee throughout a large rural country area, and had quite a few internal battles on doctrinal issues the church was at odds with him on). This is assuming he is not sitting on any cases tomorrow. Just keen to hear if he has read from your site. Well I better not get over excited.

Thank you for your wonderful work for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Your grateful student in our Lord.

Response #10:  

I wouldn't want you to judge your evangelism efforts by the reaction in person of a JW team. A person has to be pretty well hardened of heart to join up with that organization in the first place since it requires rejecting the basic truth of the gospel as part of their basic their doctrine (see the link). Also, even if one of the two is a "rookie" with doubts, he/she will always be teamed up with a veteran who has NO doubts. That is a pretty tough lift. There is also the point that words of truth always accomplish the purpose for which the Lord sends them forth (Is.55:11); sometimes truth penetrates slowly, so always be patient. Finally, as our Lord said to Samuel, "it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king" (1Sam.8:7 NIV). The Spirit is the Evangelist in chief. He is the One who made the truth you told them clear in their hearts. It's not about us. It's all about the Lord.

Here's hoping your friend you mentioned does warm up to Ichthys (you're not my only correspondent from "down under", but it is a big continent). I often tell the story of how when I first became "gung-ho" for the truth, I had the idea that all that was necessary was to provide the materials I found so fascinating and others would catch fire the way I did. But of course 1) not everyone is truly interested in spiritual growth; and 2) even for that small minority who are, not every ministry is everyone else' "cuppa" (as you say).

Thanks again for what you're doing – and also for all of your generous words.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dear Professor Luginbill

JW. Yes I probably am a bit “too excited” by the Truth to be much use to the Spirit at times.

As to my new retired pastor acquaintance: 1) Yes I think he is interested in spiritual growth; 2) I am hoping Ichthys is his “cuppa”.

He was at “cuppa” morning today. No he has not read any Ichthys yet. As we were last to leave and it was raining lightly and he had left his car at home I gave him a lift. He said he would have a look at your site. He said usually it is a good sign that someone is prepared to share their knowledge of the scriptures without the profit motive.

Professor, I never thought I would ask this of you as you are so busy-could you please pray for him to see the truth of the scriptures in your writings. That it might be his “cuppa”.

I enjoy sharing in the gospel with him, particularly his measured demeanour and his thoughtful approach to the scriptures. It is somewhat self serving for me to want to share a closer walk with another Christian, with Ichthys being a substantial part of that walk.

As I may have mentioned before, I tend to be a bit of a loner and have stepped outside of my comfort and now find I do yearn for a closer personal relationship with another breathing Christian believer. He is much more versed with the scriptures than myself. He mentioned that when he was made overseer of all the United Church congregations of the inland South West, it forced him to study the scriptures more intently to find out what they actually taught. Hence he also looked up “original” Hebrew publications to assist his understanding. My magnet friend (sorry I did not want to mention their names without their consent) had to leave cuppa early and thankfully the retired pastor and myself were last to leave.

May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless you and your excellent work in His Name.

As ever, your student in our Dear Lord and Saviour.

Response #11:  

Thanks for the update. I will indeed say a prayer for your friend.

It is very nice to have compatriots who share one's enthusiasm, especially about important matters. It is also very rare, especially when we are talking about truly being on fire for the truth of the Word of God. As mentioned, I was astounded when I found out how rare it was/is, but I hope (and pray) that this will be one of those rare cases for you.

I don't know that it's possible to be too excited about the truth. How people react to the truth really has nothing to do with us and everything to do with them (as in the link and passage given last time). It's helpful not to take all this too personally. It's all about Jesus Christ – and how others react to Him.

Thanks as always for your kind and generous words, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your reply and prayer.

Just one other Christian in my life, on the same page as your site would indeed be a boost to me. Consider how many companions I had supporting me in a cult! This chap seems like one to thoughtfully consider biblical teaching such as yours.

Even after reading your link again I still am a bit perplexed why people would not read your site out of curiosity and then if it did not gel for them to say so. I am referring to Christians who are not associated with obvious cults, yet still will not just click onto your site. I read stuff and watch stuff they recommend to me.  I do compare this stuff to your writings and find sometimes there are “small” differences and sometimes they just prattle.

One such recommended Christian preacher on YouTube was doing ok till I heard him deride those who think they have special insight from the Hebrew and Greek texts, when his position is the KJV is clearly God’s word and all he needs.

I have found your writings to challenge one-it shows how we fall short of the mark and one is then to strive to improve, only to find there is continual improvement necessary just when we think we are doing reasonably as a Christian we are convicted in our minds that reasonably is really a poor performance.

I find this particularly convicting when reading your studies on the Life of Christ, His exceptional hard life, lived in perfect obedience to His Father.

While I realise Jesus Christ is the Only One to have lived a perfect life, we are instructed to follow him as closely as we can.

Your writings of the Coming Tribulation I found fascinating (though discomfortingly at the doors) and considering the world situation today the scenario you suggest seems a definite possibility. I had heard many of the more popular versions, yet your position regarding warring countries is plausible even if people were to discount the scriptural evidence you provide. I believe your series of The Coming Tribulation and your other series are an inspired calling for our times.

Just me expressing a bit of frustration and personal inadequacy for the task at hand. I am not asking you to reply as you are already flat out working. I am mostly busy learning on your site and getting organised on your site to use it to hopefully progress and hopefully help others do the same. I thank you for sharing your knowledge, time and love of our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Your student in our Lord.

Response #12: 


I'm keeping you in prayer and your friend as well.

It's a genuine pleasure to see your rapid spiritual growth.

Please feel free to write any time.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hi Dr,

Quick question. What is your thoughts on the "holiness" movement? I read that term in an article and was wondering its connotation.

Response #13:  

It's very dangerous on a number of levels. Historically they taught you're not really saved when you're saved. You need a new experience thereafter, a "second blessing". People who get this are the "real believers" and they can live life without ever sinning again. Neither of these things is true. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ. Adding an emotional or experiential layer to it is legalism by definition – because adding anything to salvation takes away grace and deemphasizes what Christ did which is what is really important. Teaching sinlessness after salvation is also legalism because it makes things about you not about Christ. It also is a lie (1Jn.1:8-10). When people claim they are sinless it means they have learned how to put up a sanctified front and avoid doing things that look to other people in public like sin – just like the Pharisees did. But people sin in their hearts all the time, and this whole process is actually a sin-infested, one being dishonest and self-righteous.

I will add that there are no doubt multiple variations on this "holiness" theme and developments over time, but the foundation is rotten so that is all that's necessary to know. Also, the Charismatics sometimes use some of the "theology" and terminology of this movement so there is probably overlap, depending upon which group one is dealing with. Denominations have charters / creeds etc., so their false doctrines are at least codified. Genuine believers believe the truth of scripture, and that is easy enough to ascertain for those who are willing to pursue it. Movements are in constant flux and their beliefs often mutate depending on the present group and its present leader. That is doubly to be expected in groups which put experience and "feeling" in the fore.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

[rejecting the idea of perfection as impossible et al.]

Response #14: 

Of course we are supposed to be obedient to the Lord. But faith and trust is the way we demonstrate our obedience and are thus considered righteous in God's eyes – NOT through what we do:

What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.
Romans 4:1-5 NKJV

But self-justification through (supposed) abstinence from sin turns true obedience on its head. It is born of pride and makes a mockery of the cross of Christ. The Pharisees did this, the Roman Catholics do this, and many other "holiness" groups do this too. The systems are all a little different, but they all share in the leaven of law as replacing grace.

. . . knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Galatians 2:16

You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Galatians 5:4-5 NKJV

So I am concerned for you, my friend. Obedience is important: obedience to the truth. But if we cast aside the truth in search of some temporal "victory" which we define by rationalizing away the dark reaches of sin, that is no obedience at all.

I could remark and ask along with Paul in his letter to the Galatians quoted above, "You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?" (Gal.5:7 NASB). Of this I am sure, "he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is" (Gal.5:10 NKJV).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hi doc Robert

I Just thought of taking this moment to thank you for your ministry and great service you're still doing on ichthys bible study. And it has been a long time since I last communicated ,and I'm also hoping by God's grace that your family is well and richly blessed with all the providence of God in all areas of life.

As for me It hasn't been an easy and clear road for me in the past few months [Hebrews 6:1-3 (ASV)], though pressing on to maturity has been awesome, many are the days I find myself becoming more of an apologist everyday especially with my sentimental values I uphold with many of my brethren from these ends. The road has yielded so far little but an excuse of compromise with people who can't move on to perfection and grow in the word. I have fairly tried to do my best in studying ichthys in all areas as possible especially emails in hopes to help many but these chances are getting dwindled more and more, it may seem like the last hope of human kind to accept Christ and later on grow and produce for Christ hasn't been spelled out for most Christians in the New Testament in terms they can readily understand.

To great lengths this has also led many to the inability to accept various Christian doctrines moving on from the apostles authority and things they did in the early days. In this time and age, I think everyone at least knows few things about the Bible but just that a little leaven"consumer Christianity" has caused so much chaos to an extent even when most people seem spiritual, there faking it, I'm stunned into silence and for the most of it amazed by the ignorance embraced. Should I just retreat back and focus on my spiritual growth??

Even days when I wish to completely stay away from foolish discussions about the what the Bible says on this particular issue or the other, whether it is literally or figuratively is getting the best of me. Help me strike a difference between inspiration of apostles of the New Testament and prophets of the Old Testament through the inspired word. The counsel of the epistles of the New Testament is far more edifying and too spiritual for mere Christians to understand and readily accept, can you recommend me to any literature apart from the book of acts which can help me understand things in a sequence or some kind of order or activities that led to the writing of epistles starting with Roman's?

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and also with you.

Response #15:  

Great to hear from you! I hope you are doing well in other respects. I do sympathize. I get loads of emails nearly identical to yours in essence. Once a believer begins to get serious about taking in the Word in depth and consistently so, it changes the way we look at the world entirely – as it is supposed to. But here in Laodicea, very few of our brethren have the time or the interest or the motivation to do as we are doing. So very soon, they see a different world (one they mostly love) than we do (one we mostly hate). And while many of them are doing/thinking/saying things that are bringing them ever closer to the world, we by way of contrast are drawing closer to the Lord instead. So while it may seem lonelier as far as our putative brothers in Christ are concerned, it's better to be closer to Him than anything else. Our true citizenship is in heaven, not here, and He is our true King. This body is just a seed that will spring to life in resurrection, and these houses / possessions are nothing but dust down here: our eternal home is already waiting for us in the New Jerusalem. That is our hope: to be reunited with the glorious One we love more than life, and to enjoy all that "God has prepared for them who love Him" forevermore (1Cor.2:9).

As to your question, if I am understanding it correctly, it is absolutely true that perhaps most Christian denominations have modeled themselves and built many of their erroneous doctrines upon a misunderstanding of the book of Acts, both what it actually says and what it is meant to be used for. The Old Testament focuses on the Law, a collection of shadows that looked forward to the reality of the cross, and those shadows have now been replaced by the reality of Jesus Christ, His incarnation, victory at the cross, and resurrection (cf. Rom.10:4 et passim in Romans, Galatians and Hebrews, e.g.; see the link: "Dispensations"). Many groups have this wrong, and the Roman Catholic church is essential a "re-imagining" of the Law of Moses to benefit their essentially by now non-Christian organization (cf. a new altar, a new Moses-pope, a new temple, new priests, incense, holy water, etc., etc.).

As to the book of Acts, misconstruing the events related therein and their import for the Church Age is possibly the second biggest huge mistake that groups and individuals "interpreting" the Bible make (giving them the benefit of the doubt that it is "only" a mistake). Acts relates what happened; it seldom can be taken to mean "this should happen". Part of the reason for that is that many things happen in Acts only once or only a few times. For example, the fact that Philip was miraculously transported to and from the desert to meet with the Ethiopian eunuch is something that – as far as we know – never happened before or since. But he was an apostle and the times were special: a time of transition between Israel and the Church Age. Those two factors, namely, apostleship and the time of transition from the age of shadow to the age of unveiled truth (which necessitated a variety of special circumstances and accommodations, not to mention never after repeated spiritual gifts) account for the other part of what Acts is not to be used to "build doctrine" unless these things are taken into consideration. The other part is that as a historical book it records what happens without necessarily endorsing what happened. So for example the fact that Peter and co. used a lottery to "pick" the next apostle -- which is something only Jesus Christ can do – doesn't make it right (it was wrong) or something churches should duplicate today. Here are some links on all this:

Transitional nature of Acts

Interpreting Historical Books of the Bible

Historical and Transitional Nature of Acts

Peter's "Learning Curve" in the Time of Transition

More on the Transitions in Acts

Matthias and the Numbering of the Twelve Apostles.

The Apostles, the Jerusalem Council, and Legalism then and now

Do feel free to write back in case I've missed the gist of your question.

Keep fighting the good fight for Jesus Christ, my friend. It may sometimes seem that you are doing so alone, but there are others in this dark world doing the same, and greater are those who are with us than those who oppose us (2Ki.6:17), and greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world (1Jn.4:4).

In our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

What's the meaning of this verse:

"I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed."
(2 Corinthians 13:6-7)

Response #16: 

This is Paul's way of saying that he is "in the Will of God" and that the Corinthians ought to put that very pertinent fact into their calculations when dissing him and honoring others; because if he is in the right, then they must be in the wrong. But as a man who loved his sheep for Christ's sake beyond all else, he would rather be seen as "in the wrong" if only they would "do right": obey the truth so as to grow, progress and produce.

Question #17: 

Hello Dr.,

I hope this email finds you well. I have the audio files for BB-3B Harmartiology ready for you.

I’ve been well, keeping busy with work, life and all that comes with it. My relative who fell under the spell of the “Radical” movement has gone dark on me, it’s to be expected and no hard feelings on my end. Relativism has deep roots in the Church today and I find that we are all allowed to have our own personal opinion as long as we do not get to dogmatic about what the Lord actually has to say, (you scratch my ears and I’ll scratch yours). Of course this is exactly what’s to be expected according to Scripture, so I thank the Lord that His Word is true, confident in the knowledge that He will be back on earth in approximately 15 years.

My wife’s hip has been giving her a lot of trouble lately so she is going to the orthopedic hospital today to see a hip specialist, hopefully the Lord will provide some relief there.

How are things with you? I do hope you are getting some relief with your hip. I’ve got you and the friends of Ichthys in prayer here daily. I’ll be in touch with a new batch of audio files next month.

Rev. 22:20

All the best,

Response #17:  

Thanks for all this, my friend! All uploaded and tested and seems to be working fine. Thanks!

I'm sorry to hear about your wife, but I hope the orthopedist will be able to give her some help. I'm still a little hobbled, but working my way back into light jogging. We endeavor to persevere. How is your health?

I've been keeping your family in my prayers. Family is a tough one. I don't think I know of any truly positive believers whose families are likewise "all in" for the Lord; usually they are a source of at least some mild flak, giving us grief for digging deeply into the truth, sometimes heavy flak, and ofttimes anxiety about their ultimate spiritual status. So at least if we have family members whom we are sure are saved, we are ahead of the game.

I appreciate your ability to keep this in perspective. We who live so near the end have that pressure, but as your testimony reveals it is also a bit of an advantage: we are less inclined to get wound up in temporary things as if they could have any permanence when we know that they are going to be destroyed in such a short time – and that we will be rescued (if still around).

Thanks for everything. Your prayers too of course. Keeping you in mine every day.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

On Romans 16, was Phoebe travelling in a group if we assume that when Paul says that he commends her/or for the readers to greet several people, he meant those who gave the readers his letter (bringing it to them from him)? He says to greet such and such several times...so entourage? It would make more sense in my opinion than a woman travelling so far alone,

One of the reasons I am trying to get into a local church is so I can meet with believers more. It will help me not be lonely and also not message you so much. As I said in regards to Paul correcting churches, he seems to assume that even though some were in serious error, no one had broken off and gone and formed their own group. Though part of that might have been that the apostles themselves started these churches. It was a little disheartening when it seemed you were against me going to a church. What else am I supposed to do? Be a hermit? Anyway. I think if I stay away from the worst of the denominations it will be okay. My family was Pentecostal, but at least there was the Bible instead of nothing in the home. I am sorry, I meant to also say that I think Baptist is my best bet. They are very close to my background and current beliefs. And I won't feel like I am not being honest with them if I do communion.

Response #18: 

I don't find any indication that Phoebe had company on the trip. The Roman empire was about as safe a place in antiquity as one could find. Travel by sea was dangerous for reasons that have nothing to do with gender. It's possible she had company, but it's strange then that Paul doesn't mention it by saying "Phoebe and those with her" or something of that sort.

As to your other emails, first, I wish only your spiritual growth, progress and production, and happiness in Jesus Christ along the road to Zion. True happiness comes from learning and living the truth, and that is what I have been sharing with you.

As to churches, I wouldn't advise you not to go to church. But I do "take no prisoners" when it comes to separating the wheat from the chaff. A church whose purpose is to teach the Bible in an orthodox way so that believers can grow is carrying out God's purpose and honoring our Lord. A church which doesn't, isn't, and the vast majority aren't.

I understand the desire to be part of a fellowship. But a fellowship of what? If we yoke ourselves to other believers who are lukewarm and/or have given themselves over to false teaching, how will that not negatively affect our walk with Jesus Christ? No one wants to be lonely, but I would rather be walking alone with the Lord than in company with thousands of others where He is not present.

It's your decision. I'm only interested in your spiritual welfare.

I'll say a prayer for you to find a good Bible teaching group.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

I do really appreciate your guidance and help and wisdom. I hope your health is good and that all is well. I hope you aren't in pain or anything, or overworked.

I do see what you are saying on the yoking-to-what. And I would get frustrated in services when they gave bits of a verse here and there and stories that did not really seem related to what was actually happening in the text. But that leaves Sunday School classes and most of the time it is by people my age who aren't saying anything more than the average person can see from a cursory reading of the text they are looking at. And I have been quite a number of church groups and they don't seem to socialize really. I can't really explain it though. We will all just be in a room and it feels inauthentic and off. I can't quite put my finger on it. But when I am with my grandmother and we are with other family members it feels authentic. I am trying to analyze what it is exactly.

On Phoebe, Paul goes on to say to the people Phoebe is meeting-for those people to greet certain other persons. That wouldn't make sense unless those certain other persons were with Phoebe. Why would he say "greet Epenetus" if Epenetus is right next to them? Either he is next to them or he is with Phoebe, right? Maybe it is clearer in the Greek.

May I please ask you just one more quick question? It isn't Bible related, so you can skip of course. But, I just find it very interesting. I have heard many times that America is like the Roman Empire. Is that true? Would the Ancient Romans look at us be like 'hey it is us in the future," or would they find us weird?


Response #19:  

A good question to ask whenever a person is struggling with this sort of issue or any issue about which they may feel conflicted is the "why am I wanting to do this?" question. If we are honest with ourselves about our motives, that will clarify a great deal. If we are truly striving to please Jesus Christ with all we think, say and do, that will lead to one set of choices; if we are doing that only to a modest degree, another set will present itself; and if we are not doing that at all, well, all manner of bad choices are possible.

Clearly, the Lord doesn't begrudge us some relaxation and healthy social life. And I suppose one could find worse places than a church to look for that. But in my experience (of trying the same sort of thing many times in the distant past and observing it many times in others since), it's difficult to get close to people who are wrong and wrong-headed about what it is you love the most. And if you try really hard anyway, it usually ends up being you who cool off rather than them heating up for the Lord.

On Phoebe, here's the passage:

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
Romans 16:1-2 NIV

Paul is telling the Corinthians to treat this Corinthian woman well. In my reading of this she was entrusted with the letter to the Romans, and I don't see any indication here that she had help / traveling companions. She very well may have, but I don't see any indication of it from this passage.

On Rome and the US, there are similarities and (some) historians are enamored of historical comparisons, but the differences are as pronounced as the similarities in my view. More to the point, Rome is on the cusp of being revived, and when it is it will not be the US but a united Europe plus other areas of the old empire. So to the extent that a person sees "US = Rome", to that extent that might miss the correct biblical view in terms of what's on the horizon.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Dear Professor,

It has been quite a while since I wrote to you and have been wanting to provide you with an update for quite some time now.

I. Ichthys Prayer List: First and foremost, I have been wanting to ask fervently about the urgent prayer requests that have been put at the top of the Ichthys page - has there been any news on Carmen’s son (Josh)? If I am not mistaken, I understand that Carmen is/was your colleague and good friend at University of Louisville? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, is Bob’s wife referring to your own spouse, or is this a different Bob? Either way, I am praying for the Lord’s hand in delivering both Josh and Debbie from what appear to be quite traumatic ordeals. I understand that in such desperate circumstances we become totally reliant on our Lord, and we know He is faithful delivering us through, or from, these personal tribulations. It was also very encouraging to read the report from our brother, Vau.

II. Personal Update: As for my situation, last time we spoke I believe I had mentioned about my intention of quitting my full-time job. Well, I am so happy to share with you that as of 6 weeks ago, I have indeed taken this step. I had to turn down a new (and improved) contract in the meantime too to the surprise of many. I remained true to myself and what I believe were the still, but powerful prompts of the Holy Spirit. In breaking the news to my boss, where he visibly did not expect to hear what I said, quite remarkably in the same conversation he asked whether I would be interested in them hiring me as an external consultant on my terms. I wasn’t quite prepared for that, but essentially we came to an agreement where I will be starting at one day a week come September. I know that this was from the Lord as it is unheard of that someone in my position (and age) gets the opportunity to dictate terms and come in as an external consultant/advisor.

What’s more, whilst I had been preparing spiritually for something more akin to a poverty test since I didn’t really know where the source of my provision would come from, the Lord has quite literally inundated me with opportunities for work. Things have propped up from nowhere, to the point where within 6 weeks of being self employed I may soon have to turn down work in order to protect time for spiritual growth, which is the very reason why I wanted to become self-employed. My professional work is much more conducive to a schedule that can optimise my growth, and hopefully, eventual production.

With regards to individual clients, the youngest I work with is 14 years old who plays field hockey, and the oldest I work with is a 32 year old marathon runner who is hoping to go to the Olympics. The majority of my work though falls to adolescents of 17-18 years of age, and these are competing in the 400m hurdles. A lot of these young adolescents come to me after having been mismanaged/neglected from their coach and suffered from serious injury. I take it upon myself to get them back to the sport they love doing. This takes its toll on them mentally too, unfortunately. You can see that’s all they have to fill the void in their life. There are so many uncontrollable variables when trying to get someone injury free, but I am doing my best. Inevitably, what I am learning is that there is also an emotional attachment that I have to be careful of when you work with people one-to-one. I do care a lot about every person I work with, and it does at times break my heart to see the trauma they have to go through. A lot of my role ends up being a mentor and educator to these young people, and it is my hope that I can have the courage to share the light of truth in their life. I do not know what my monthly income will be. But I much prefer it this way, since it teaches me to depend on Him totally for provision. In all this, the Lord continues to provide in marvellous ways and I can only testify to His superabundant grace in my life. I can truly say He is my Rock and my stronghold and I reserve nothing but praise for Him!

I wanted to thank you for putting me on the Ichthys prayer list, and clearly the Lord has quite spectacularly honoured our requests in ways unimaginable. I expect there to be tough times ahead, but I know if I put truth first in my life, everything else is secondary.

III. Bible Reading Log: Lastly, I hope to maintain a more regular correspondence with yourself from now, although I appreciate you must already be at full capacity so I do not wish to burden you with more than is necessary. I have committed to serving Curt’s Bible Academy ministry by typing up his lessons and have almost finished his verse-by-verse exegesis of James Chapter one. I hope I can continue to contribute to Ichthys in the way the Lord would have me do.

I spent today creating a little template that I thought might complement your opening study on “Read your Bible”. I have essentially created a template where people can monitor their progress accordingly, as well as summarising some of the main take homes from your write-up. I have attached it here in an Excel document - if you feel it would benefit other readers please feel free to post onto the end of that study. At the same time if you feel it’s not appropriate or unnecessary then that is also absolutely fine. I had in mind of someone not knowing where to start with Bible reading since I frequently get asked this. I tried to compile a practical resource that included my interpretation of your suggestions. I personally like a nice ‘visual’ too. The reason I included approximated time frame for completion of reading is not for the purpose of rushing through Bible reading (I am neither a fan of the “Read your Bible in a Year” programmes). My decision to include this was for the purpose of motivation that we can always do more. For example, when I calculated that reading just one chapter a day in the OT would mean it would take approx 2.5 years to get through the OT, and when one matches that up with the proximity of the Tribulation, surely one would want to cover the OT at a much higher frequency, especially once taking into consideration the prophetic foreshortening and the divinely repeated cycle of Judgement, Restoration and Replacement we see time and time again throughout the OT, and the richness of application we can glean for future times (as an example). I also tried to maintain emphasis on the critical roles of the Holy Spirit and the Bible teacher in the right hand column.

How are things with yourself, Professor? Are things progressing ok your end?

Apologies for the long email but I thought you may appreciate the update!

In His marvellous grace,

Response #20:  

It's so good of you to be praying, my friend! Carmen's son still needs prayer. "Bob" is a different Bob whom I've never met in person; positive news now on the list. Vau's last news is what is posted; we're hoping this latest therapy will be successful.

Fantastic news on your business, my friend! This is a real answer to prayer, and I will certainly be praying for your continued success. God is good!!!

On the Bible reading log, what a neat idea! [now posted at the link sub voce]

Always a great pleasure to hear from you, my friend!

I updated your prayer request and am keeping you and your family in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Dear Professor,

It is so good to hear from you too. Thank you for the updates on the three individuals I had asked after - I do very much appreciate this. I shall endeavour to keep them in my prayers, as well as others on the Ichthys list. I am trying to build on this slowly, since I don’t think I’ve ever been particularly ‘good’ at prayer, both in consistency and in quality of execution. I know this is a question of spiritual growth and alignment with the truth, being empowered by the Spirit. Something that I shall be continuing to work on.

Thank you very much, Professor. It has truly been a blessing. Who would have thought? It goes to show that when we follow the Lord’s Will, He is there waiting for us in ways beyond anything we could ever imagine. How meagre our finite perspective is compared to His infinite wisdom and wondrous lovingkindness! This has definitely taught me the need to walk more by faith than by sight, the need to trust Him continuously for my sustenance and provision. I shall always be grateful to the Lord for gracefully bestowing me the gifts He has done, since He is the one who has given me the abilities/talents/gifts to study, to earn a living the way I do (lest I forget and arrogantly return to Egypt in my heart), and above all, the gift of life in which an abundance of opportunities are made available to glorify Him through the ministry He has assigned me to, culminating in a glorious inheritance of eternal life, eternal reward and eternal fellowship with our Lord God. How marvellous our Lord’s ineffable wisdom is and boundless His love and mercy!

My brother is visiting me this weekend and we are currently both sat in a coffee shop going through your studies as I write this email. It is a joy to be able to share such fellowship.

In our Lord, Jesus Christ, whose return we are eagerly awaiting,

Response #21:  

Thanks for the newly formatted file – works fine! I've already loaded it up to Ichthys and linked it several places (including in "Read your Bible"). It's really a very helpful addition. Thanks!

Thanks also for your great testimony. I'm very pleased for your success but even more so by your godly attitude and obvious love for the Lord. I know that you will have a fine ministry for Him in due time.

Please give my regards to your brother! I pray for both of you and your family daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

Actually there is a Lutheran church near me that I like, but I don't want to be dishonest about not believing that the bread and wine literally become body and blood. Maybe I can convince them that no one agrees 100%, so it is ok. The teachers are very good and principled (willing to comment on things that the gov't might have them shut up over).

In the church, there is a deadly and addictive sin which the prevailing wisdom for is that you don't talk about it. In mainstream society you do far more than just saying the words related to it, and they find it extremist that it is treated in the church as a sort of fainting couch thing (to not even say the words at least). But the church ignores the growing problem for many decades, and all of the sudden they wake up and a huge majority of the church (leaders and laity) have been getting caught up in not only this mainstream sin, but a version of it that has morphed into something far worse than what they can't talk about (courtesy of the mainstream). Is this one of those 'best system we have is not to talk more than when it comes up briefly, people are just bad' and what bad things end up happening will happen?

On that vein, should Christians have their own sub-society like some of the Jewish groups and other groups do? And many of them, after raising their kids in their religious and social setting, their kids can go out into the mainstream and be successful, and still come back to that setting outside of work. I don't see how the leaders and parents can be surprised that their kids go mainstream when that is what they give them to follow and learn from socially and culturally. That is what they are setting those kids up to do. I mean in Rome and Jerusalem, weren't they a sort of sub-society? I mean if they weren't in the Temple or synagogues (but for Rome I don't know much about the culture...) that would seem to me to be seen as a bit of a fringe group.


Response #22: 

I have some experience with the Lutherans (the more conservative synod), because some of my family went to a Lutheran church for many years – probably because it was close. When it comes to main-line denominations like this, in practical terms they are all very much the same. They function on rote ritual and sermonizing, holding onto creeds without really understanding or believing them much of the time (at least this is true of many in the laity). So when you say the teachers are good, but mention you like them because they are commenting on politics, it's incumbent upon me to remark that this has nothing to do with "teaching" at all. I also rather suspect that this "teaching" is "Sunday school", done not in the main assembly by people with no special preparation where things are open for debate and discussion. That is typical, but I don't see how it can contribute to spiritual growth. Only the truth can do that – and only if it believed as such by those who hear it. You are of course right about transubstantiation, but this is only one area in which the Lutherans did not achieve "escape velocity" from Rome (and many old line denominations suffer similarly; e.g., the Calvinists are amillennial). When you express confidence about being able to change people's minds, I think you are wrong about that. A group which has been around some five hundred years and still exists based upon the inertia of tradition is not likely to alter that tradition even if proven wrong decisively.

As to issues which should not be discussed, if we are talking about porneia here, a good pastor-teacher teaches everything that comes up in the Bible as he is working through either a book of the Bible or a topical study, and that includes sin of all kinds. Naturally, there are some things we want to be careful about how we handle, and this is certainly one of them. Merely "talking about it" can be a stumbling block to some people if not handled delicately. As mentioned above, I don't see any value at all in "let's discuss it and see what everyone thinks" performances which pass as "Bible teaching" in most churches today; but this is something that really ought not to be broached in such a setting in my view because on the one hand, since the Bible is crystal clear about the issue (e.g., 1Cor.6:18; 1Thes.4:3-8), there is no need to discuss it, and because on the other hand discussing it brings it to the forefront of people's thinking, and – if as is inevitably the case in some forums – people with wrong or dangerous ideas on the subject are allowed to voice them, this can weaken the consciences of those listening.

As to sub-societies, the monastic movement proved conclusively that attempting to separate from the world in a physical way is folly and no way to serve Jesus Christ. Smaller efforts in that direction are equally flawed in concept. We are in the world, even though we are not of it (Jn.17:11; 17:16); and we cannot go out of it nor should we attempt to do so (1Cor.5:9-11). From the first century until today, the purpose of a local assembly has always been very simple: to train its members to live godly lives for Christ in this world through teaching them the truth. Anything else should added with great circumspection, and must be always be subordinated to that overriding main purpose. But that of course is the opposite of what we usually find today . . . and explains why this ministry is on the internet instead of with four literal walls.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Hi Bob,

I was communicating with someone who said the following things.

1. Paul was just a X type of person and his vision of Jesus was just a surrealistic dream-state typical of X.
2. Ananias's confirmation of Paul was just a conspiracy and he was in on it.
3. The predictions in Zephaniah are just mythological wishful thinking that a messiah will return to deliver us.
4. Jesus Christ was just a legendary figure with no basis in history

These have been extremely corrosive, and it has been hard because corresponding with him has been...extremely difficult. He is so sly and so clever that you can't pin him down.

Response #23:  

Everyone needs spiritual refreshment. Being on the front line in ministry, as you are, it's good to keep in mind that every combat unit gets worn down by the stress and needs to come out of the line on a regular basis. So if you feel it corroding, it's probably time to take a break and see to your own spiritual welfare.

Also, it should be noted that whenever we are dealing with a person who does not accept the authority of scripture, it is folly to talk about the details of scripture or scriptural subjects with them. The best we can do is to confront them with the reality of their mortality and the undeniable existence of a perfect and perfectly righteous God. If there is a hint of humility of willingness to respond, that will get their attention. If it does not, well, you know what our Lord said about the dangers of hurling pearls before swine.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Hello Bob!

I have people speak negative things about me because I don't attend Church. They usually quote Hebrews 10:25.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25)

Is there a Bible verse that states that believers MUST attend church? I've heard people go as far as that if you don't attend church then you're probably not saved. John MacArthur quotes this verse often and he presents it as almost an essential doctrine of Christianity. He then quotes 1 John 2:19 and make people feel guilty for not attending church. What are your thoughts on this?

God Bless!

Response #24: 

Well, Ichthys is my church, so if you logon here, you are attending church in my book.

It's true that there is a difference between that and traditionally "going to church". What's the difference? The main difference is that by logging on here you can learn some things that bring you closer to Jesus Christ, you can become better prepared to walk with Him and help others, in short, you can be doing what the Lord wants you to do. This is generally not possible through "going to church" in the traditional sense, not with what "church" has become here in the waning days of Laodicea.

It is typical of people who have adopted an easy and comfortable way of doing things not only to proclaim themselves "right" in their wrong-doing, but also to find fault with others who ARE doing it right. Why? Because such individuals challenge their comfort. Also, if they can get the people who are doing it right to do it their way instead, then they will feel much more secure in their wrong approach. This is, after all, how the devil got a third of the angels to join up: not only were they doing what they wanted to do (instead of doing the right thing) but with so many doing it there was safety in numbers. A third of the angels can't be wrong, can they? Yes they can. So many Christians going to church where the Word is never taught or else error is taught about it can't be wrong can they? Yes they can.

There is nothing wrong with going to a brick and mortar church. But why are you going there? If it's not to learn the truth – the whole reason for Christian assembly – then you are only wasting your time . . . or worse (if what is being "taught" is contrary to the truth which is often the case). Churches today tend to be little more than social get-togethers, so that even though they may be differing in their formal creeds, really no one believes much of anything (anything of the truth, that is). So whether the church in question focuses on wowing the congregation with music, or hell-fire and brimstone, or speaking in tongues, or extensive high ritual, what they have in common is no truth (or very little of it) and very often falsity instead.

As to Hebrews 10:25, here is my translation:

(24) And let us give careful attention to one another['s ministries] as motivation for [our own] love and good works, (25) not abandoning your mutual assembling as some have made it their practice to do [and which makes this impossible], but rather encouraging each other [to persevere in this work of the Lord], and doing so to an ever greater degree to the extent that you see the day [of the Lord] drawing [ever] closer.
Hebrews 10:24-25

As this passage actually teaches, the assembling of believers OUGHT to be an occasion for mutual edification and motivation for learning, teaching and believing the truth. That is the PURPOSE for the assembly. If it can't be carried out this way (because no group of believers exists in the area who are willing to do this), then praise the Lord if it is possible to accomplish the PURPOSE some other way. It's about the purpose, not the means of accomplishing the purpose. Here is what the Bible says about assembly that does not accomplish the purpose:

"When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them."
Isaiah 1:12-14 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 NIV

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

I certainly don't begrudge you or any Christian fellowship with other Christians who are likewise dedicated to the truth so that by such fellowship you may be encouraged and helped even as you encourage and help them. That is what THE Church of Jesus Christ is supposed to doing – and what better and more efficient way of doing so than face to face? But what if there are no such groups in the area? Should we throw out all of our principles and commit ourselves to a group that is not encouraging at all but one which is actively discouraging our zeal for the truth and telling us that what we believe is incorrect, even as they exhibit absolutely no interest in learning anything true at all? Would that really be pleasing to the Lord?

Of course many pastors are going to suggest that non-attendance, non-membership, non-tithing, non-working is not only bad but indicative of not being saved. That all started with Rome. There is no salvation outside of the Roman Catholic church – so they say. But that is a lie. And we are not required to believe lies. Rather, we are to refute them with the truth. It's all about the truth, and that is a difficult commodity to come by in the vast majority of churches today. If you find an exception, that is great. They are very few and far between however – which is why this one is on the internet. We are conversing and encouraging each other and learning the truth together. Would it be nicer if we could do so face to face? Yes indeed? But since that is not possible, this is certainly just as effective in terms of the truth – and it's all about the truth.

As for MacArthur, every time I hear about some teaching of my fellow seminary alum, it seems he's always got it wrong. I know he "teaches", but if what is taught is wrong, perhaps a "coffee cake social" church would be not as bad. At least that way there wouldn't be the need to ward off things that are false.

Here are some links that go into more detail on these topics:

The Meaning and Purpose of True Christian Assembly

The Assembly of the Local Church

Church Attendance.

Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality.

Red Hot or Lukewarm? Bible Teaching versus Sermonizing.

Mega-Churches and Emergent Christianity

Finding a Church – or Something Better? II

Finding a Church – or Something Better?

Dysfunctional Churches.

Ichthys and Contemporary Christianity

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Who are the timid here?

"But the [unforgiven] fearful [deilos {di-los'}; timid, cowardly], and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers [sexually immoral], and sorcerers [all forms of evil/magic to force or do harm], and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Revelation 21:8 KJV

Response #25:  

All these categories give us behavior patterns that respond to the modus vivendi of the unbeliever. It doesn't mean that a believer who ever expresses fear is not saved. No one is perfect; but believers are forgiven, both positionally (in Christ) and experientially (when we confess). Compare:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1st Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

Who are the perjurers?

"for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine"
( 1 Tim. 1:10)

Response #26: 

Technically, those who have taken a formal oath and do not abide by it. Again, these are classic unbeliever behaviors, and we have to distinguish between believers who may have done some of these things before or who have lapsed and done some of these things after salvation (for which they are disciplined but don't lose salvation unless their behavior swamps their faith and they lose it in the end), and unbelievers who are characterized by evil behavior of one type or another.

Moreover, the context is one of Paul refuting individuals who are teaching Christians to follow the Law; his point ever is that the Law is designed to convict everyone of sin and thus lead to Christ; it can't be kept perfectly (not that this would merit salvation in any case). Because of the noxious nature of the false teachers, Paul picks some of the more abhorrent behaviors prohibited by the Law to associate with these individuals.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27: 

Hi Robert,

Greetings again from Arizona. Hope you are doing well. And thank you for your email; my wife and I are doing well in small town Arizona. The Lord has moved me to a new job position at work which I like much better than the previous environmental work.

Spiritually I am fighting the good fight. I continue to struggle with melancholy, mostly first half of the day. For whatever reason, it is hard to grasp my being able to go to Heaven, though I know Christ has saved me. But I keep on reading His word and spend time early in prayer and see His hand working awesomely in our lives.

Thanks for the new series; gonna download it and transfer to my Kindle, where I do most of my reading. When I read the Bible, I go through chapter by chapter, verse by verse and it takes 3.5 years to go through the whole Bible that way. But I get the whole counsel of God. That is why I like Calvary Chapel. They also don't make a fuss over dinky stuff like clothing, hair length, jewelry and such like.

Let me know if you have any prayer requests; will bring it to the Lord.

One of my pastimes is creating instrumental music using FL Studio. I cannot play an instrument or read music, but I can hear it in my head. With FL Studio, I make melodies and musical pieces note by note, chord by chord. It has opened up the door for the music in my head to come to real life. I have attached a sample of my work for you to hear. But it is not like anything you will hear on the radio. Awe, mystery and beauty I think describe it. It is called God With Us.

God bless brother and keep close to the Lord; He is blessing many through you, including yours truly.

In Jesus,

Response #27:  

Good to hear back from you, my friend. Interesting music! Sounds like a sound track to a good sci-fi movie!

I'm happy to hear that things are going well spiritually, but I am sorry that this problem is still an issue. Congrats on the new job!

I'm also happy that you have a church home you enjoy. My experience with that "flavor" of Christianity was not positive. A lot of emotional stimulation which always led to a let down later. In any case, I do think that the recent post will be a tonic for you (so do try to have a look: link BB 6A).

None of us is worthy. That is why Jesus had to die for us all. And He did! For all of our sins. So believe it, my friend! We're going to be with Him and one another forever.

Looking forward to that great day to come!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28: 

Hi again Bob,

I forgot in my previous email to mention about prayers needed for someone I know who has fallen by the wayside. I don't think he is saved at all, because he has no fruits of the spirit and lives a life worse than unbelievers. This concerns me because I care for his soul, even though I am angry at his sinful lifestyle. He drinks, gambles, and hangs around people who do hardcore drugs. Those are not his real friends as I told him.

I quoted a bible verse which sums up my concern for him. I copied a bible verse and posted it to him, and he got upset and removed it. This is what I quoted:

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
(Proverbs 27:6)

He then quotes some worldly quote to counter the Word of God (which made me upset) that read: "If you like it, pursue it...and if you feel uncomfortable, then leave it. To me, this sounds like someone who is afraid to face the challenges in their life, especially the ones the Lord gives to them to further their spiritual growth. I try not to get mad at this because the bible says that the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God (James 1:20). But I'm mad at his sinful lifestyle, and I can't seem to help it; and at the same time, I truly care for his moral condition, and that he truly repents from the deeds of the flesh.

I am not sure if he can at the moment unless he acts upon the Holy Spirit's prompting. He has Ying/Yang symbols all over his personal webpage. To me that is pagan because Ying/Yang teaches that GOOD cannot survive without EVIL, and vice versa. That seems like a doctrine straight from the pits of hell. I don't see how that concept could possibly be applied to biblical truth. I understand that in the Eternal State, there will be no more evil or curse, and that outside the Kingdom are the unsaved where they will suffer eternal punishment. So Good seems to do fine alone without evil. I'm looking for godly counsel before I go on and make some mistakes or errors regarding this issue about a friend of mine.

Please pray for the salvation of his soul, and that he truly repents and despise evil and love that which is good according to the Spirit of Truth. Any advice and feedback from you are always positive in the right way, and speaks wisdom from above.

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #28: 

It sounds to me as if you are already doing all you can for your friend. I don't see what more you can do, except to keep praying. Those who have made it clear that they are not willing to listen to our words of truth and want no more part of them are not going to be persuaded by us getting more aggressive. That is the very definition of casting pearls before swine – and we know what the outcome of that ill-advised procedure is. So take care not to allow yourself to be trampled, but keep on praying. What we cannot do, the Lord can surely do. He knows very well how to get a wayward believer's attention – and He will, at just the right time and in just the right way.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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