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Confronting False Groups and False Teaching V

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Question #1: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Reviewing your study on the Epistle of Peter number 18 wherein you ref. a scripture noted in the subject line.

The so-called prosperity folks, I won't call them preachers because they are not declaring the Gospel, but are using God's precious Word to promote their false doctrine.

It says: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich."

I take this as referring to "Grace" and not money, as that is the context in which Paul is speaking about to Titus and others".

Is it not? Or am I mistaken.

I always appreciate your comments and knowledge. We were truly blessed this past week, when my wife and I visited some dear friends we have not seen in 17 years or so. He was the one who first told me about being born-again when he gave me a little Gospel tract which I read standing at the bus stop waiting to go to work. He is a very precious friend.

Might I say the same for you, as I have learned and continue to learn from your Website on a daily basis. I have finished the first 17 teachings and am continuing onward to the end of them. Slowly but surely, they are a tremendous help and inspiration to me.

Looking for His coming while enduring till the end by God's grace.

Your friend,

Response #1:  

Thanks for the encouraging email, my friend! You have certainly been a blessing to me and to our mutual friend as well.

On 2nd Corinthians 8:9, I'm amazed that prosperity preachers would use this verse – since Christ is our model in all things and "made Himself poor" for our sakes. Nothing is greater wealth than being God in all His glory, but Christ took on the form of a man and humbled Himself in order to save us (Phil.2:5-9). A sinful human being giving up all his/her monetary wealth for the sake of Christ, even if legitimately done from proper motivation, would not come close to approaching the sacrifice of our Lord in becoming human – not to mention the cross.

Here's on link on this:  "The Prosperity Gospel"

Your good friend forever in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Dear brother Bob

Thank you so much for your reflection on "Baptism". I am a Catholic full time evangelizer. And I always felt water baptism is more of ritual than an ingredient for salvation; for me Baptism is symbolic act. And the meaning of that symbolism is expressed in Romans 6.

I stand by this interpretation in order to Eucharist to be available for all, even those who have not baptized. Whoever believes Jesus is the Lord: whether he is baptized or not is eligible for Eucharist. What is your opinion about it?

Response #2: 

Good to make your acquaintance and thanks for your interest.

For my views on communion, please see the links:

The true meaning of communion

The Communion Ceremony outside of the Local Church

The Meaning of the Communion Ceremony

Communion and the Blood of Christ

And here is a link on baptism:  "Baptism: Water and Spirit IX"

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

In Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Dear Sir,

I have browsed the contents of your website and I am impressed with what I have read. You seem to be a sincere and balanced Christian writer which is rare to find. I have some questions that I hope you can help me with.

1. Apart from the Bible speaking about The Spirit within us what proof do you have that we live forever? Do you use any Scientific evidence? I ask this as a believer in eternal life by the way. Sam Parnia seems to be a good source but do you have any others?

Response #3:  

Thanks for the clarification – and thanks for your kind words as well.

1) Absolutely not! If there were proof, this wouldn't be about faith. As it is, this life is ALL about faith. Faith is the fundamental exercise of free will, the image of God, our basic decision about whether or not to follow God in Jesus Christ . . . or not. If there were materialistic proof that could not be scientifically denied, there would be no faith in our decision to accept Jesus Christ. There is of course plenty of evidence:

[God] has made everything beautiful in its [foreordained] time; but He has also placed [the notion of] eternity in the hearts of mankind – and [He has done this], moreover, without Man being able to discover the work which God has done from the beginning unto the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

(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

Question #4: 

2. If someone is a Catholic and believed in Jesus are they saved? The reason I say this is because I come from a Catholic background and both of my parents (now deceased) were Catholic. Whilst I am at odds with some of the things taught in the Catholic Church I can't see how every Catholic is automatically damned. My Mum became a Catholic when she was told she had two years left to live and whilst she did receive communion at home she read the Bible very frequently as she was housebound. I would like to think that God will even reach a genuine Catholic who is seeking his help.

Response #4: 

2) Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, "not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9). Beyond all argument, Roman Catholicism is a religion of works. To the extent that someone is relying on what they are doing (as in going to mass, confession, being an RC, charity) for salvation, to that extent they are not saved. Knowing that many people are members of groups to whose tenets they do not personally subscribe, I've always been agnostic on this question, never have been RC. But to a person, every born again / born from above believer I've ever met who's escaped from that organization has claimed that it's impossible to be saved and be RC – because if you really were saved, you would get out.

Question #5: 

3. I agree with you that The Spirit enters at Birth/First Breath as it logically makes sense as well as what the Bible says but my question is why so many preachers (including non Catholic Christian preachers) say otherwise?

Response #5:  

3) All false teaching has to do with tradition and with the devil. One big answer to "why?" on this question is that it makes the political argument against abortion much more powerful. I have no use for abortion. I don't support political causes, and I certainly don't support lying about what the Bible teaches to further them – as if the ends justified the means.

Question #6: 

4. Why is it that no Christian preacher agrees on any one part of the Bible?

Response #6: 

4) This has to do with sloppiness, laziness, tradition – and the devil. Ideally, those who teach the Word should one and all be circling in on the truth until going round and round we are all eventually come so close to the center that there is little difference. In practice, sloppiness, laziness, and tradition – and being influenced by the devil – has often led to putative Christian organizations and so-called "teachers" spinning farther and farther away from the center so that the differences get bigger and bigger. This is the era of Laodicea, moreover, the era of lukewarmness wherein fewer and fewer Christians are concerned with the truth; if the customers are unconcerned with it, the suppliers will also tend to be less and less concerned – and there we have our vicious circle of spinning away from that truth.

This is all very much on Satan's mind, no doubt, because his last great offensive is only a few years away now as the Tribulation draws near. Once it begins, one third of actual believers are going to fall away into his false religion during the Great Apostasy. But if believers today were focusing on seeking the truth and learning the truth and believing the truth, it would be much harder for the beast to convince them that he is Christ (anti-Christ in fact).

Question #7:  

5. This may seem like a tricky question but some other religious founders such as the Buddha and the Jain Prophets claimed to have deduced that The Spirit enters the womb at conception. Why would they have said this if it wasn't true?

Response #7:  

5) Purveyors of any false religion have no idea what the truth is. There's no accounting for what they teach – except to be sure that the devil is behind it. If there is some element of the truth there (not so in this case), then the devil has planted it to make the lies go down easier.

Question #8: 

6. What happens to those people who may have read the Bible but not fully understood the salvation message due to lack of intelligence or knowledge? Are they damned?

If you could get back to me with the answers I'd appreciate it.

Best regards

Response #8: 

6) If you mean individuals who are retarded to such a degree that they have no free will in fact – the same way a child does not reach the point of accountability until acquiring some degree of emotional maturity – all such persons are automatically saved. God is fair and just. Anyone who actually did not have a chance to be saved through faith-response to the gospel is saved. However, everyone who has ever lived who has not fallen into the two categories above has either a) actually had a chance to hear the gospel, or b) expressed in their heart sufficient unwillingness that God is just not to provide it. All this will be made clear at the last judgment. All the more reason for anyone today who HAS heard to believe – and for anyone who has believed not to waste their lives thereafter. All believers will stand before Jesus Christ. Those who have sought out the truth, grown and progressed and produced will be rewarded (see the link); those who have not will have their false works burned up – and will be in for a very uncomfortable time . . . but saved "yet though as through fire" (1Cor.3:15).

There's a great deal on all of these topics on the site: see the subject index, and let me know if you need help finding anything.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your email reply. I have some additional questions and comments.

1. There are some people who say that faith in Christ is all that is needed to get to Heaven. Now forgive me for saying this but I have met some Christian people who claim to believe in Jesus (and they say as much) and yet they lie, connive and steal. There are Christian ministers who say that non-Christians who lived good lives are going to hell whereas Christians who live bad lives but believe on Christ are going to Heaven. Based on the above I can see how people can find Christianity off putting. Any comments please on this?

Response #9:  

You're very welcome. As to the new questions:

1) Our Lord said,

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

"What is faith?" is both an easy and a hard question. We all know if we have it; it's rather hard sometimes to describe it in terms others will understand. I like to refer to faith as "free will faith" because faith is the essential expression of the image of God we've been given – our fundamental ability to choose. Believing in Christ is like pledging allegiance to Him – and following through. Because only those who continue in faith are saved (i.e., there is no "once saved, always saved no matter what" as some imagine; cf. Lk.8:13).

As to others, following Jesus Christ is off-putting to many and for many reasons. Genuine Christians who are living a horrible witness will eventually fall away or be taken out of this life by the sin unto death (link). People who claim to be Christians but who actually are not are not the issue (there are plenty of these types out there).

Question #10: 

2. If belief in Christ is all that is needed then why did Jesus teach on how to behave and treat others?

Response #10: 

2) If we belong to Christ, we need to follow Him. If we do, we will grow and progress and produce – and earn a good reward. If we do not follow Him, we are likely to fall away back into unbelief (Lk.8:13). So doing what He tells us is important both because we reflect on Him and also because there is really only one way to go in the Christian life: forward, carrying our cross and following in His footsteps. 

Question #11: 

3. Jesus said give to those who ask and turn the other cheek yet such teachings if applied to dealings with every day people don't work as most don't follow these principles. How can Christian's logically apply such principles in a non Christian World

Response #11:  

3) The application of biblical truths to real life is the stuff of spiritual maturity. This is not relativism. There are a lot of "moving parts" in real life. Only mature believers have a chance of getting things right on this score (cf. Rom.14:1ff.). Spiritual growth, therefore, is the real answer to the implied question. There is much more about this important subject at the link: BB 6A: Peripateology: the Study of the Christian Walk.

Question #12: 

4. Human beings mature and learn knowledge as they grow older and their brains grow. My question is does the Spirit grow with the brain or is the Spirit ageless and works more appropriately as the brain and knowledge grows? I have read that the Spirit is like a car driver and it can do better with a better car (body) and maybe this us the case with a

Response #12: 

4) All believers today have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. He is God and God of course never changes. Every human being has, in addition to a body, a human spirit. The spirit itself is eternal and does not change per se, but of course it is the real "us" within and we are always making decisions and learning things. But God made us, every human being, a unity of spirit and body, and so we will ever be. We will always have a body and a spirit, and in the resurrection, that new body will be perfectly attuned to the spirit in a way that's hard for us to anticipate now, being possessed of a body that is mortal and hampered in so many ways by the sin nature (and which is also limited in its perception in a way that will not be the case in the future).

Question #13: 

5. I feel that you are a sincere Christian minister and apart from yourself who do you recommend as teachers of the gospel in your field? I hope that you find these questions to your satisfaction. Yours thankfully

Response #13:  

5) I very much recommend pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (at the link). Rather than texts, these are audiovisual presentations (in the "Khan Academy" style). Please have a look! If you are interested in growing spiritually, Bible Academy is a wonderful resource for that.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Dear Robert,

Many thanks for your last email reply. I have some new questions that you may be able to answer.

1. What would you say to parents who have had fetuses die in the womb and expect to see them in Heaven? The Bible says that the Spirit enters simultaneously with the first breath and leaves with the last breath so how do you put those particular people straight?

Response #14: 

You're most welcome.

1) There has never been a person who has failed "to become a person" when the Lord willed it so. Just how that plays out in situations such as the one you ask about is something we may have to wait to find out on the other side.

Question #15: 

2. If the spirit/Consciousness enters at birth of each individual as we both agree on does that mean that God selects the vessels (bodies) for each individual spirit? I have read about the doctrine of election and how God selects everything about us before we are bor

Response #15:  

2) God has left nothing to chance. Everyone is born in the right place and at the right time.

Question #16: 

3. What are your views on past life regression where people go into a trance and get accurate details of a past life?

Response #16: 

3) There are no "past lives".

Question #17:  

4. You stated in a previous email that Satan's last great offensive is only a few years away does that mean we are going to see Jesus Christ in our lifetime?

I await your response.

Yours thankfully

Response #17:  

4) In a nutshell (you can find the details at the site), human history is composed of seven thousand years, seven millennial days. Four preceded the cross; the Millennium is the seventh; in between we have the Church Age which is composed of two; the Church Age began ca. 33 A.D. – so that is, based on the application of this interpretation (see the link) the date of the second advent (as best it can be determined in my view).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your last reply. I have one question for you at this time. 1. There are preachers who say that God plans everything that happens in the World including every evil thing that happens. Is this biblically true and if so how can God command us to abstain from sin if he wills it at the same time?

As ever your thoughtful insight would be most helpful.

Thank you

Response #18: 

Everything that happens in this world, in time, has been decreed. God created time and space and nothing could exist without Him, without His decreeing of it. That does not at all mean that He condones evil. God forbid! God could have easily made a universe of creatures who could not choose evil. But those creatures would not be "us". For us to be "us", we needed to have the image of God, the genuine ability to respond to Him of our own free will . . . or not. Same is true of the angels. Time, therefore, is all about choice. God's decree makes choice possible (rather than preventing it as some smaller minds wish to conclude) – because we could not exist or have the image of God without the decree. Everything we choose is important. Everything we choose has been decreed – not forced; we still make the choice in each and every case. God is big enough and wise enough to know everything before hand and to have accommodated all of our choices in His perfect and all comprehensive plan – and so He has. That is the truth, whether or not someone wants to quibble. So what God planned IS perfect: this plan, the only plan there is (there are no hypothetical alternatives based on a single "what if?"), the perfect plan, the plan of all that is, was the ONLY plan and the only way for there to be creatures in eternity sharing Him and all He has for us who also chose to be there. That perfect plan necessitated the resistance and refusal of some angels and most human beings. But that was/is their choice.

Praise God for the eternity we have with Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ through whom and whose sacrifice alone we are saved through faith in His perfect person, human and divine, and what He did for us in paying the entire price for all of our sins on the cross!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your excellent and kind reply and for your wonderful Ministry.

I followed one of your Special Topics links to get what I thought might be a quick overview of ichthys teachings on the Tribulation, and though it references your site and seems to have taken much of the information from your site I am left a bit confused. [details omitted]

Q1. Therefore, will there be a worldwide earthquake, flashes of lightning and thunderous voices that accompany or just after the brokerage deal? Who in this world would miss such a sign, AND at a signing, but, which way to take it?

Q2. Is the “half hour” of silence before the seven year Tribulation begins? (This is how it reads in your writings)

Q3. Should the link be reviewed?

My appreciation for your work in your Ministry.

Your student

Response #19:  

Taking the last question (#3) first, when you say you thought the link would give you "a quick overview of ichthys' teachings on the Tribulation", that's not the purpose of these links. Our friend is long-standing acquaintance, and you are right that some of the things he writes are, let's just say, not exactly how I have written them. But that is typical of links on this page to other writers. Not a cause for a break in fellowship. I suppose I could put a disclaimer on this page, but I think most readers will be able to see – as you did easily enough – where Ichthys stops and someone else' interpretation begins.

However, I do take your overall point. I think our friend would probably be happy to hear from you. We all benefit from give and take, after all (Prov.27:17; cf. Prov.27:9).

As to Q 1 and 2, #1: indeed, and I often make the point that no one is going to be unaware that the Tribulation has begun (at least no believer who's been paying attention), since the signs will be unmistakable (Rev.8:5). #2: The half hour is the six months necessary to shift the calendar from spring to fall (as the cross and resurrection happened in the spring but the Tribulation and second advent happen in the fall).

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Thank you Bob,

I would like to tell you about a vision I saw . . . [details omitted]

What troubles me is that I was seeking comfort but got the opposite. I pray you can help me shed some light on this and help me to know how to feel about this.

In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Response #20: 

As I always say, I make a point of not telling other brothers and sisters in Christ what they have or have not seen or experienced. If God gives someone a vision or an experience, He does so for a reason and He does so for the person concerned (not for the rest of us, not after the cessation of the miraculous gifts with the close of the canon of scripture).

I can say that certain things happened to me and for me in the past which I know were from God, but in many of these cases I had to get to a certain point of spiritual maturity to appreciate them and to grasp their significance. So I can say that at least for me how I "feel about them" has definitely changed over time. The closer I've drawn to the Lord the better I've "felt about them" – or, better put, the more I've appreciated them. I think that is probably true for us all. Seeing or experiencing something overpowering if that something is the Lord or from the Lord is comforting to the extent that we are close to Him, but less so to the extent that we are far from Him. At least that is the way I see things.

So while we could discuss the details, this is something the Lord gave you, not me. What I would say is that what it means precisely and improving how you feel about it requires what everything else truly good in the Christian life requires, namely, spiritual growth. That is to say, as you grow, your understanding and appreciation of what the Lord has given you will increase as well, as the blanks in all manner of things are filled in. On the other hand, "figuring this out" as if it were a problem to be solved is not likely to even be possible without the requisite growth.

So my advice to you is to trust the Lord that this, as with everything He does, is "for the good for those who love Him" (Rom.8:28), to "ponder this in your heart" (Lk.2:19) until such time as your growth begins to fill in the blanks, and to take the obvious lessons to heart: He is real, He is powerful, you are saved – why else would you receive this? And have peace about the rest of it in waiting for "patience to do its perfect work" (Jas.1:4) as you continue to grow in Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hello Bob,

[omitted]

That same new friend I have, keeps banging on about the bible being fake and that Jesus isn't really His name and it's shaken me. It's not shaken me because I don't believe it but it has shaken me because I do not know how to witness to a person with this mindset. She believes in God and calls Him the "creator" but that's it.

She sends me confusing videos and texts disputing the bible and I'm not spiritually mature enough to counter it. Knowing how much of a baby I still am in faith is what has shaken me. I thought I was making progress. Please send me your recommendation of order of study from your site. I have just finished reading Numbers whilst reading the Gospel of Luke I was reading from the Blue letter bible commentary for this.

I worry that the church that baptised me is in error and will lead me into further error. Does that mean I am to trust no man? No church?

I trust in God and in Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I know that if it is confusion it is not of God, then why am I so confused?

In our loving and living Saviour,

Response #21:  

I'm always pleased to hear from you, my friend!

Happy to hear that you are continuing to correspond with our friend. He is a wonderful man, and his background in the RC church gives him a special perspective in such matters that others from the same experience always find helpful.

Our friend has the heart of a pastor – as does pastor Omo [link] – so their words are meant to help, not to frustrate or frighten. So as to testing, just because we're told that we're "going to get hit" doesn't mean that we can't take it. God helping us we certainly can (Rom.8:28)! And knowing makes it better if not easier. You are a child of God, a believer in Jesus Christ dear to our Lord. He won't let you drop out of His hand – never! Our job here and now is to keep running a good race for Him. If we do, we have absolutely nothing to worry about whatsoever. It's only turning away from Him that's problematic. The devil hates it when we stick close to Him, so we do come in for "flak" on the path of righteousness, but we never receive anything we can't handle, even if testing is uncomfortable (1Cor.10:13).

As to your new "friend", I'm not sure what to tell you about someone who dismisses the Bible. In witnessing to unbelievers, people who refuse to accept that the Bible has authority are always questionable candidates for evangelism, because on the one hand they've rejected God's Word a priori; and on the other hand the truth of salvation is found only in the Bible. How much more ought we not to be careful about associating with putative brothers and sisters who take that same attitude (cf. 1Cor.5:11)? I suppose it's not absolutely impossible for a believer to have such an attitude – but only in the case of a very marginal believer who is headed straight and fast for the exit (either apostasy or the sin unto death). So I couldn't advise you to continue with the relationship, not on any deep level, at any rate, especially inasmuch as it's really upsetting you.

As to undergoing water-baptism, it's a mistake MANY of us have made, so I wouldn't spend any time whatsoever worrying about it. It's only a problem if its invested with some spiritual significance. There's plenty about the issue on Ichthys when you get around to wanting to know more about it (link).

I also can't recommend any denomination, especially the one that baptized you. I do understand that believers crave fellowship with other believers, but we know for certain from scripture that while good fellowship is to be prized and may be beneficial, the opposite is very problematic (1Cor.15:33). People in denominations are there because they want to have a feeling of participating in things having to do with God; but they are not really interested in Him or His truth – not very much, any way, otherwise they would be seeking out the truth and would be determined to learn it as you are.

As to how to approach the materials at Ichthys, my base suggestion would be to try and keep up with the weekly email postings (link), and also begin to read through the Peter series (link). That will keep you busy for a minute.

In my experience, pressures and false starts as you are experiencing are a very normal part of finding the high road to Zion and getting started up it in earnest. I'm very pleased that you are finding this ministry helpful in that noble goal.

Just remember: God loves you. Jesus loves you so much He died for every single one of your sins that you might have life eternal and be with Him and the rest of us in New Jerusalem forever.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV

Do feel free to write me any time, my friend – keeping you in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hello Bob my friend,

My sister was caught up in huge flooding in the place that she works. Some ponds, lakes and rivers in the grounds almost burst their banks and she said it wouldn't stop raining. She is fine and no-one was hurt but she was shaken by the experience which was the worst flooding in 30 years. She used the word "biblical" to describe the flood. At that point I couldn't hold off any longer and told her that we are near the end and we will see things like this more and more and they will get worse and worse. I also told her that noticing these alarming weather events and catastrophes played a part in my coming to Christ.

I'm not sure if she took any of this in, she realises the smallness and frailty of us all and that human life is more precious than buildings and possessions. She said that it's important to live life to the full but if that means in a worldly way then that is actually a waste of life.

I worry about my sister. Her friend died suddenly a few years ago from a shock brain haemorrhage at a young age. This profoundly affected my sister but she developed a "must live life to the fullest" philosophy. This was concentrated on things like getting her house finished "before she died" and it seems like she's making a bucket list of places she wants to see and experience "before she dies".

There is absolutely no mention of Jesus in any of this. She says she prays to God but which god is she talking about as she refuses to read the bible in case it does not correlate with the god of her understanding. Is this idolatry?

I was very shocked the other day when I asked her if she loved God more than anything else and she said that she loves her boyfriend more than God. This really shocked me.

[details omitted]

Realising that my family are not saved is breaking my heart. It is more impetus to study hard and walk in the Spirit and pursue sanctification. I want to be the salt. I want to be the light. I want to reflect God's glory in all that I do so that people will know the truth of the Gospel.

I am going to pray for my family every day that they come to Jesus. It's like when Paul realised that his Jewish friends and relations were perishing.

Please Bob, will you pray for my family and friends, that they soften their hearts to the truth and come to accept Jesus as their Saviour?

Many thanks.

God bless,

Response #22: 

Your experience with loved ones is, in my observation of things, nearly universal . . . among those who are genuinely trying to walk with Jesus Christ through the truth of the Word. The devil is not nearly as interested in the lives and situations of lukewarm Christians. For those of us who are putting the Lord and His truth in first place in our lives, opposition can be expected, and hitting our loved ones is a standard place, it seems, where the devil generally likes to attack.

What I always try to keep in mind, in regard to members of my own family about whose salvation their words and deeds leaves me in some doubt, is that God put us all in exactly the right place and at exactly the right time. He put those we love where they are too – and everything has a purpose. He knows we love our loved ones, and He knows that we are concerned about their salvation (among other things). And He is a loving, good and gracious God – beyond our wildest dreams. So while it is true that everyone has free will and that we certainly cannot change someone else' heart, it is also true that God hears our prayers for them, that He uses our witness to them, and that He knew about these situations – and our concern – in eternity past. That being the case, I would never want to "sell Him short" in regard to the eventual salvation of those we love. On the website email postings recently you may have noticed an exchange with a believer who father recently died – and who accepted Christ just shortly before his death. This does happen – and in that case, the young man's prayers were answered. The Lord hears your prayers too – and mine and those of all believers, especially those who are dedicating themselves to be close to Him. So what is the best thing we can do for those we love about whose salvation we are concerned? Continue to pray for them, continue to witness to them, by life as well as by word. And most importantly, continue to grow spiritually so that our prayers are ever more effective:

The prayer of a righteous man has great power when it is empowered [by the Spirit].
James 5:16b

Keeping you and your loved ones in my prayers daily.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Hi Bob,

Any rainfall from "Barry" today? Or has he slowed up too much before reaching you? It's warm here (would seem cold to you!) and we had some rain from about 6 pm - 7.30 pm so it's been good for the blooms and the lawn etc.

I found out today at work that unfortunately there isn't any opportunity for me to stay there once this contract ends. But it's ok. It is a shame because the staff are really nice and I've got so used to working there again. But it's a business they're running and they can't keep me on just because I get on so well with everyone. I've got two weeks left there before the other nurse comes back. Anyway, the Lord must have different plans for me. I'm thankful to Him for giving me this opportunity to get myself back out there and build my confidence back up. I'll pray about it and get looking at the job vacancies again. I'll be glad when I'm finally settled somewhere.

Did you have a wander over to uni today to check out the numbers?

I'm glad it's Thursday tomorrow - I'm a bit tired!

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #23:  

So sorry to hear that employment at the present place is not an option. But the Lord is working things out for good for you, for you certainly do love Him. So there is a reason for this, even though it is not obvious to us at the time. One thing I've learned – though not yet to the point of perfect application – is that the plan of God is absolutely perfect. It has to be. He is perfect. And so everything that happens, whether we like it or not, whether we understand it or not, always turns out to have been perfect. Sometimes we are given to see that very clearly and obviously at the time, sometimes after the fact, but whether we do "get it" or not, when all of history is revisited in the end times judgments, this will all be made very clear. All the "why, Lord?" questions will be answered. We may not get that in this life directly from the Lord like Job did (and that's probably a good thing – Job certainly had some uncomfortable moments), but we will be given it. God is faithful by definition. Nothing He does is a reflection of anything but His perfect faithfulness. Do we see that? Sometimes. It's a mark of growth when we see it more and more (and earlier in the process). Learning to control our emotions when "things go wrong" is another thing. We learn eventually that how we "feel about it" is not germane to the plan – it's going to happen anyway, and for good in every way if we do love Him. The only thing poor emotional reaction to events can do is harm us – but even such reactions can also serve as a sort of "status check" for where we are at the moment spiritually, both in terms of our momentum and in terms of our moment by moment situation.

For example, I get bad news but I immediately realize that it's only "bad" because I find it annoying or scary or unpleasant or betokening things I'd rather avoid, and that in fact God is using this unsettling development for good in the perfect plan – it has a purpose, even if I cannot yet see it. This is not the way we mostly react, however, and we can be forgiven for having to wrestle with negative emotions if the things truly are terrible from every worldly perspective. How many of us would say on losing all of our wealth and our children too, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21 NKJV)? That's "the right answer", however, as anyone of us whose read the book of Job could easily answer on a multiple choice test. But when things happen TO US, it's not multiple choice. It's true/false. True: "I trust the Lord anyway, even though I don't understand", or False: "Why is this happening to me!?" Without testing, we could never grow to our full spiritual potential (Jas.1:2-8; 5:10-11). We don't have to enjoy it. But we have to hold onto the right perspective of God's love for us and His perfect plan being carried out in our behalf in every respect to have a fair chance of passing the test.

We did get some rain! Enough so as not to have to water tomorrow (back to the sprinkler on Friday though, I'm guessing).

Will find out about numbers tomorrow, but we are in the July doldrums.

Happy to hear you'll soon be done for the week and can get some rest tomorrow evening!

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Hi Bob,

Thank you again for your email. It helped to confirm some of the things I wanted to write to you about. Here is what I was going to write to you before I got your email and before I knew about the situation with my job [note: our friend did in fact continue in employment].

For a long time I was feeling bad because it was as if I didn't care enough about my family not being saved or about my friend and her deliverance. I was thinking that I should be feeling it more. Maybe crying more for them, more emotional about it even before the Lord and because I wasn't it must mean I'm not caring enough about it. But it suddenly dawned on me what it was. It's not that I don't care enough about them and it isn't wrong that I'm not showing it by crying or really feeling it. I realised I'm like this because I have His peace inside me now and that peace has come because I have faith in Him - I trust Him. I haven't given up praying for them or being a good witness etc. but I've given up the worry because I know that He can do what is impossible for me to do. I'm actually doing everything I can do which is having faith in Him, trusting Him and by doing this I'm pleasing Him because without faith it's impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

A lack of emotion doesn't show a lack of love on my part. It shows a strength of faith and trust in the Lord that He can and He will work it all out for good for me because I love Him. (Romans 8:28). That I don't have to worry because whatever His will is and whatever He does (whether it's what I want or not) it will be perfect because He is perfect (and you wrote the same thing to me). And I feel so much freedom in that and so much peace.

And I realised that I'm allowing the fruit of the Spirit to work more in my life. His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It's not that I'll ever be perfect at this, but I realise it's showing more in my life and it's another sign of my growth in Him.

So that is what I was going to say to you, before I got your email.

I was pleased because I could see where I had grown, but at the same time I knew there would be more tests ahead. And getting the news about my job is that next test. When I first heard they weren't going to keep me on I did feel disheartened because I really like working there and it's the thought of having to start all over again and find something else that is suitable for me. To me it seemed a pain, a real inconvenience and yes a bit scary but this has only lasted a very short time and your email was a huge help to me. I was comfortable where I was but I realise that if the Lord kept life comfortable for us we wouldn't grow an inch.

When you reminded me of Job 1:21 it helped me to remember that it was the Lord who without a doubt gave me this short contract at work and what a blessing it has been! It has definitely been a gift from Him. It's the place where His loving discipline started for me. The place I had to leave because of my injury - a sad way to have to leave. But because of His abundant love and grace, He has given me the chance to say goodbye to the place in much happier and healthier circumstances both physically and spiritually. This time I'm leaving work but I'm back with the Lord and close to Him after being "trained by His discipline" (Hebrews 12:11) and having been given opportunities by Him to "shine my light" for Him (Matthew 5:16) and although I'm not 100% I'm able to walk up and down those stairs at work where I couldn't before and it has strengthened me up. It's a gift from Him and so now I can say - "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."

It was His will to give me that job and so I felt safe in that and it's His will that it doesn't continue and so I feel secure in that too. If He's in control then I know I'm safe and everything will be OK.

So I'm very happy to realise where I have grown and can see the fruit of the Spirit working in my life more rather than negative emotions. And I'm happy that although I can't say I enjoy it, He still hasn't made life comfortable and has given me another test. I'm happy because I pray and ask Him to help me to grow spiritually and that's exactly what He is doing. He reminded me of this verse last night as I was praying.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

I believe it! And thank you for helping me and for praying for my "next good thing."

Your friend in Jesus

Response #24: 

You're exactly right, my friend. We know that the Lord loves us and we know that He knows that we love our loved ones – and He knew that when He gave them to us in eternity past. That counts for something. That counts for everything. One thing we can say for certain is what you have concluded: we have absolutely nothing to worry about on that score. I think of one of my correspondents, a young man who's preparing for ministry, whose father died a year or so ago (the email you remarked on just recently); he was very concerned for his dad – and his dad did come to Christ right before the end. Of course the Lord knew this would happen in eternity past. He also knew what circumstances and timing would be necessary for it to happen. God is, as we say here, "all over it" – and was when He ordained His perfect plan. That doesn't mean we can guarantee anything – there is SO much we don't know; that doesn't mean we can let down on our part in praying, in being good witnesses and providing a truly timely word; that does mean that we do what you are doing, namely, relax about it . . . and trust the Lord.

Basking here in some great relief here. Our dean – the one who fired my colleague of 19 years one afternoon without notice and suspended my minor programs – has just announced that she is leaving at the end of the coming AY. So my contract next spring will be negotiated for a time when she's not here and at a time when she has only a few months tenure. Feeling like the Lord just pulled a big target off my back. So thanks so much for your prayers!

And praying for just the right next thing for you.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Hi Bob,

No disrespect to your dean, Bob but . . . that's BRILLIANT news!!!

I don't know how she could even do that to your colleague, especially after 19 years and in such a brutal way. And your minors as well. It seems to me that some people just love the power. I'm so happy that we belong to the One with all power and all authority and that He looks after His own and I know for sure He's answered my prayers for you!

Thanks so much again for everything you wrote to me about our unsaved loved ones. And I re-read your correspondent's email about his dad and your reply and this helped me a lot too. His email stood out to me and I love the way he writes. His love, openness, honesty, gentleness, humility and his humour. He certainly has a gift.

I do understand that there is so much we don't know and why there can't be any guarantees of anything. Our Lord is perfect in every way and I love Him and can fully accept this. We all have free will. We're all made in His image and we have the ability to choose for the Lord or not and we have an individual responsibility to do so.

But when you said that the Lord knows that we love our loved ones and He knew that when He gave them to us in eternity past and that this counts for everything, this was so reassuring to me. It gives me lots of encouragement to keep on doing the things I know the Lord wants me to do for Him and for them - no matter how long it takes for them to finally come to Him. I'm so grateful to you for all your prayers for them.

I think the pollen has well and truly got up my nose today - I've got the sneezes!

Take care of yourself in all that heat.

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #25:  

You're most welcome --and thanks for your felicitations. Of course one never knows what will happen next, but being off the griddle is an answer to prayer indeed!

I will certainly continue to keep your family in my prayers. We definitely don't want to have to wait to the end for them to get the message – especially with everything coming up in the divine program . . . which might just prove to be an accelerant.

Hope the wind blows away the pollen soon! I get that worse in the spring, but this summer has been interesting at times as well. There's a "less hot" front moving through, so I think we'll survive here in the Louisville (don't know about my hostas though).

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

Professor, Hello and welcome to 2020!

I have a question about what our Church has given to those that do not tithe; 90 day challenge.
I have my concerns about Biblical truth over mans. Am I just making too much out of this. I believe tithing is part of many facets of our worship/obedience/trust/ love and the list goes on for me for God. Giving man back what is already God's ….When a person reads Malachi 3: I am also seeing God's Character. What am I missing about this challenge in our church that I feel it is still "robbing God" when the leadership gives back the money the person tithed if they do not see a transformation in their heart/ their life. Thank you

Response #26: 

Good to hear from you! Wishing you and yours a wonderful year ahead as well.

On your question, tithing is not authorized for the Church Age. It was a method of taxation for the nation-state of Israel for the support of the Levitical priesthood. It has no validity for us today. Churches which employ this device should be viewed with a measure of skepticism as to their motives, because they are not acting in a godly fashion by demanding such things from their members. It is a "good" way of wringing dollar bills out of the congregation that might not otherwise be forthcoming, however, and that is the only explanation I can see for its continuation – because it is certainly not biblical.

The recently posted BB 6B: Eccelesiology: the study of the Church, is something I would highly recommend you read as it exposes many such devices that modern "churches" make use contrary to actual biblical practice (see the link). Here is another link which deal directly with the question (and one which provides many other links you may find helpful: Tithing

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:  

Thank you I did get a chance yesterday over the phone to talk to the Pastor that oversees finances. There is a church web page that explains to the ones that take the challenge it is not about money but learning about generosity in all areas of their life. I started to read your resources sent. As a Christian I do tithe and I do variously areas of volunteering/generosity for God's Glory. Not for man nor man to know. I did share with you because for me that is part of my walk and relationship with my Lord and Savior

Thank you for response and material to study

Response #27:  

You're most welcome, my friend.

I certainly don't have any problem at all with any Christian giving to support the work of Jesus Christ. I also don't think it's a problem to give a specific amount, whether 10% or anything else one's heart is moved to do. But it is an error for a church to teach that this is necessary (especially if related to a tithe), and worse to imply special blessing for doing so.

Keeping you in my prayers,

In Jesus Christ, the Gift of all gifts,

Bob L.

Question #28: 

I feel the same way and shared that w/pastor and God does not have strings attached to tithing.

Blessings

Response #28: 

Thanks!

Question #29: 

Dear Professor

Happy Father’s Day (just in case yours is also on the first Sunday in spring (fall) as well).

Early this morning I heard my young son cleaning out the ashes from the fireplace and lighting the fire. I had forgotten all about Father’s Day, until I received a text this morning: “Happy Father’s Day”. Short and sweet. I am hoping this means I am still in his Bible study group.

When we had finished lesson and dinner we retired to sit in front of the TV (which we use for Bible readings). I said that I have found the best Bible teaching to be at Ichthys. After an amount of trouble to get back online again and my verbally bungling the Ichthys spelling several times I had his wife type in ichthys.com . We looked at your chart of the 7 Millennial Days.

Teacher: Two thousand and twenty-six years, that is a long time from now.
Me: No, 2026. About 7 years away.
His wife: I will book mark this.
Me: Yes. (A much bigger YES inside of me - until we all come to the knowledge of the truth!).

God is good. We always know this.

I am mostly cautious not to celebrate or count chickens before the hatchings. It struck me last night that 7 years to go sometimes feels a lot to endure , and this is before the actual start of the Tribulation itself of another 7 years. I know, ye (me) of little faith! One day at a time and faith our Lord providing and never forsaking us. (I will never leave you without a comforter).

It is the second time I have “challenged” him on tithing- the first was when I gave him the printouts from an email of yours, together with some of your charts.

Thank you for your work in the truth. I have a hint of how laborious (and joyful) it is for you.

I am most grateful for your Ministry in the truth.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior be the praise and glory.

Your student and friend

Response #29:  

Thanks for these updates, my friend!

I'm happy to hear that there is tentative progress being made. Naturally, we can't see what is going on inside another person's heart. But the Lord knows.

Yes, in this country the big "tithing debate" is whether it is "net or gross". I can't understand how people who are in debt with a negative net worth imagine God is wanting them to sink deeper to support some questionable enterprise. If they were really seeking Him, they would get a different answer on this question.

Indeed, seven years is a LONG time. I'm ready for the end too. But it's at least 14 years out in my estimation. And the last seven . . .

But we know that the Lord is at our right hand to hold us up no matter what we may face.

Thanks as ever for your good work and enthusiasm for the truth, my friend.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #30: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your succinct enlightening remarks on “net or gross”. You cut right to the core of the truth! I now see the issue so much clearer than ever before. I praise our dear Lord for you, a teacher with the Spirit, of the holy scriptures.

Today there were 6 of us at the coffee church. Good to talk with __ again. He corresponds with a woman in prison for murder in the USA, and asked would we like to correspond with other inmates over there. We will think about it as we are both so busy. I thought it might be an avenue to teach, though I also have some reservations besides all that. So perhaps tomorrow nights Daniel Bible study is still happening for me. We were in a group so I did not bring up about my text and neither did he - though I suspect he went off to deposit the tithes when he departed.

Just now My wife is on the phone to her sister to say that to play the you tube, as long as it is Curtis Omo, is ok. They can’t seem to get anything working for them on Curtis’ website.

I pray that you and your family remain safe and that the hurricane does not come anywhere near you.

Thank you for your encouragement, and for the encouragement your Ministry website gives to me constantly.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior (it is wonderful to say these words).

Your student and friend

Response #30: 

You're most welcome, my friend. Coincidentally, I just got a bulk email from "financial peace university" where I hear I can get professional help about tithing and finances generally which should include not only earning and spending but giving: "A tithe is an amount (a percentage of your income) and an offering is anything given beyond that, but not in place of the tithe." That's a relief to know. I was wondering if they might overlap. And it also seems that it's "gross" not net. So with the help of these folks who no doubt will take a cut for their help, I'll be able to dispose of almost all of my income and become destitute pretty quickly.

How do these people sleep at night?

No worries about hurricanes here in Louisville (tornadoes are another story). The main issue here smack dab in the middle of CONUS is the Ohio river – but we live in the "highlands" neighborhood, the traditional refuge from before there was a flood wall. Of course, God is our only security. Absent His help, a meteor could pulverize everything in the metro area pretty quick.

I'm keeping these issues in my prayers, my friend, and I thank you so much for yours as well.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.
p.s., if you're having trouble with loading Bible Academy, I'm sure our friend Curt would like to know about that.

Question #31: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your reply. I cherish your previous email reply very much.

Using your taking the last first approach: I have no issue whatever in playing any Bible Academy video or accessing anything there - it is __ and her daughter over in Cebu who seem to be having the difficulty.

It seems from your email the wrong people are sleeping peacefully, dreaming of their windfall “blessings from above”; or awake scheming their next rip off. Perhaps they have got wind of how the mormons operate. 1) GROSS 10%, PLUS on top of that “gross payment” the added “blessings” of you also paying 2) a GENEROUS Fast offering (was supposed to represent the monetary value of the meals your family went without), BUT, those who are able to should give MORE, MUCH MORE, 10 Times more or EVEN MORE! 3) Ward Budget for chapel running costs 4) Building Fund for constructing more chapels, and “temples” 5) Missionary Fund to pay for full time missionaries to recruit more golden fleeces 6) Special “one off” appeals for more money. The only thing that resembles “net” is the mullet member who is “netted”.

But of course if you are doing ALL these things, the “comfort” (threat) is to be found in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints “scripture”:

23 Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice and a day for the tithing of my people, for he that is tithed shall not be BURNED at his coming. 24 For after today cometh the burning - that is speaking after the manner of the Lord - for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will BURN them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. (Doctrine and Covenants 64:23-24). (My emphasis)

PS. No need to pay a cut to a third party. The LDS church will take the lot.

In addition if you have been found “worthy” to attend the mormon temple, and to partake in the unchanging gospel, you would have sworn EVERYTHING (including your own life if necessary) to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A “slight oops” in that the “unchangeable holy ordinances” have been changed BY the church themselves. It appears their god “listens” to his people whenever they find some, particularly gruesome parts of his “holy original beautiful ceremony” now is unpalatable in our politically correct age. My first visit had the inclusion of the mimicking of slitting your own throat, disembowelling oneself, dagger to the heart. Of course the devil was also in the temple threatening everyone if they did not do EXACTLY as they had been instructed in the temple ceremonies, they would be in HIS power. Only a movie version of him -not like in some temples where there were live actors.

This version (of imitating mutilations) has been quietly superseded by the authorities, apparently after a secret poll of a select group of members said they were uncomfortable with it and their god listened to them by omitting the offending words and gestures of “the nothing but beautiful, and uplifting ceremonies of the holy temple”.

Palatability is the compromise for the unchangeable and the exact. Even their god, now knows it! Got to keep the sheeple paying and playing the game. Sorry, I got going a bit there. Seems you may have opened a can of worms.

On a different note I had 3 beautifully crafted glossy pamphlets in my letterbox last week extolling the virtues of the religion of peace. There were two white doves on a blue background (where have I seen that colour scheme - oh yes, the LDS website). However, this was from my local Muslim community explaining the virtues of Islam, and the prophet for all people and our day - Muhammad. (Same camouflage - peaceful blue and white). Seems like they are all coming out now before the real assault! (end of that stuff - for now)

Q1. CONUS?
Q2. In Daniel 7:17 who are the 4 kingdoms?
This Bible study tonight has a couple of alternatives

First Beast = Babylonia. First Beast = Babylonia
Second = Medo-Persian Second = Mede
Third = Greek. Third = Persian
Fourth = Roman. Fourth = Greek

I understand from your teachings that the fourth is the Revived Roman Empire?

Q3. A complete list of scriptures you use in your studies, including the ones you quote from other Bible Translations might be useful? (I tried looking up Daniel 7:17 in your work but could not find anything quickly).

Mind you that would be a huge job which I would not have time to contemplate right now - would a team effort be worth mentioning on Steve’s site? Some one there did mention something about there not being an index for Ichthys. I have not found time to revisit there yet. There are people with far more skills in this area that would accomplish things in a fraction of the time I take. I am happy, grateful and privileged to continue with your current Translations as I learn as I am doing it.

Q4. (I suppose I should address this to Curtis) On downloading his Genesis Translation, it does not seem evident that there is a gap between 1:1 and 1:2. I have not widely read Curtis’ site. Does he endorse “the Genesis gap”?

You live in a beautiful land. I had always wanted to go to the USA for a holiday. Nowadays I take from your teachings that we should be about our Lords will rather than pursuing our own enjoyment. In any case, financially there are other priorities with the children’s education and support of family. One thing about being the “working poor” is you don’t have to worry about where to go on holidays next.

It is extremely disappointing to see our society deteriorate before ones eyes.

Praying for the strength to endure in our Lord Jesus.

Your student and friend in Jesus.

Response #31:  

Great stuff as always, my friend.

"Sheeple" – I LOVE it. Its amazing how the LDS has managed to project a public image to the non-initiated so different from where the truth lies. I think most people in this country who haven't had any contact or done any research imagine them as some sort of Methodists.

1) CONUS = military term for the "continental US" = lower 48 minus Alaska and Hawaii.

2) Yes, the fourth kingdom is the beast / that of the beast (see the link).

3) You know about the subject index of course; there is a translation index (link); it's also possible to do a Google site-specific search by pasting in the search term after "site:ichthys.com: " (n.b. there is a single space that needs to occur between this code and the term you're searching for). I must confess that in younger years and before computers I spent WAY too much time on a card-file index of where verses occurred in reference and quotations in Col. Thieme's tapes (and my notes of them). This turned out to be a very unprofitable use of time as in most cases the references were not particularly helpful to the passage about which info was being sought; I rather suspect it'd be much the same at Ichthys. I have been trying to make a point of noting now in the translation index where a passage is explained. Using the two indexes, the Google search help, and common sense about where something is more likely to be covered, I'm usually able to find things for myself (not always, I'll admit). [link to one of the many indices now available through our brother's great efforts!]

4) If he doesn't, it'd be news to me. The Colonel certainly taught it and I've never heard Curt make any objections, but you'd better ask him.

Five seconds in the New Jerusalem will be worth a life time of touring this present planet, I reckon. My mom always wanted to visit Australia but never got to it; dad was there in the war (mostly Brisbane, I think) and loved it.

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

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #32: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

During our Bible study last week, this Dear Sister made a remark about the birth of Jesus Christ. She said: "Jesus Christ was created by God the Father and He became a human being as a result".

I have attempted to explain to her how Jesus' birth took place by the conception of the Holy Spirit, but again, to no avail as usual with this Sister.

Her latest question was "So why did God use Mary to develop a fetus? Why did he have to grow into the new creature of a human? Jesus was created as a new creature unlike any other human. She makes other remarks that I will try to address. Her final remark was "so Jesus is a newly created being".

Would appreciate your comments on this subject.

Be Always blessed by God, and be filled with His grace every moment, is my prayer for you and the ministry that God has given you.

Your friend,

Response #32: 

Good to hear from you as always, my friend.

It seems to me that the place to start here is not with individual questions and objections but with first principles: Jesus IS God.

The Word existed in the beginning: the Word was both present with the [Father] God [before creation] and the Word was God [in His own right]. This same One was present with the [Father] God in the beginning.
John 1:1-2

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
John 8:58 NKJV

I and the Father are one.
John 10:30

Some links:

Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God?

Jesus is God

The Divinity of Jesus Christ

The Person of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A: Christology)

As to the way in which our Lord came into this world, prophecy proclaims that Jesus is the Son of David and the Seed of the woman – these things would not be true if His body had been made in the manner of Adam. Our Lord shared humanity with us – and that required that He be born just as the rest of us are. He shared in our sorrow, our sufferings, the process of growing up – every hardship we know only to an unknowable degree . . . and without sin. He is a human being just like us only without sin – and for that reason the virgin birth/conception was necessary (because the sin nature is handed down through the male; link).

Jesus is God. He is also – since the virgin birth – a human being. He is One Person with two natures, the divine which He always had as God, and the human which was necessary for Him to adopt in order to come into the world and save us for our sins. For only a human being could bear and be judged for the sins of the world; and only a human being who was also God could endure that judgment.

I hope this helps, my friend – and I hope you are doing well!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #33: 

My Catholic friend and I visit. Sometimes I feel she is trying to convert me, but other times it is natural. I am hoping I can just focus on the good, but sometimes it is a bit uncomfortable. I wonder if she would still be my friend if she knew there is no way I am converting to Catholicism.

Response #33:  

I'll say a prayer for your friend.

If you haven't already done so, Bartek's resource on Mary (link) is a most eye-opening insight into Catholicism for those of us who weren't brought up in it.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #34: 

Hello Bob,

I went to a Christening two days ago in a Catholic Church. Maybe I shouldn't have gone but I would like to reach my family someday once I have started to gain some spiritual growth. I have been absent from a lot of family occasions in the past due to illness and realise that I need to forge a connection with them again if I am to preach the true Gospel to them.

The service mentioned something about an invocation which alarmed me as this word is usually connected to witchcraft. The priest said that the Holy Spirit will go into the baptismal water and I was shocked at this! He also called upon Mary and the saints! Isn't this necromancy?

My cousin and his partner had to make promises in front of the congregation to reject Satan and bring the child up in Jesus Christ. I knew in my heart that they won't and that this was just a lip service ritual. I did pray there that the little boy Harvey will grow up to know Jesus and that He will minister to his own parents.

The function after was very secular and worldly, all about Winnie the Pooh and nothing about Jesus or baptism.

My sister is drifting further and further away from the truth and I fear her heart is hardening. She turned up with her boyfriend in a huge brand new vehicle that almost made me cry when I saw it. She has completely changed since being under the influence of her boyfriend.

What is the most devastating to me is that she takes our Lord's name in vain all the time now. Not to swear in anger but as a casual exclamation about an everyday thing.

It is so disgusting that I feel paralysed when she says it. I love my sister very much. She is become a hardened person. Her boyfriend enjoys mocking people to make himself look better and he has a sadistic streak. I have tried to get along with him and show him the love of God. It's hard though as he is having such a detrimental effect on my sister, that I often feel resentful.

My sister says things at times and I worry that she is under spiritual attack but since she doesn't recognise it as such, she wouldn't really fight it. She says that a disgruntled church member should become pagan. She talked about yoga a lot and I'm trying to point out the spiritual dangers of such a practise! Have you had any personal experiences of spiritual attack?

This is all creating a rift between us. She isn't looking for the narrow path and I am not willing to go back to the broad road as I know it leads to destruction.

It is all painfully clear to me that the truth is divisive. I realise now that not everyone will love Jesus, even though He died for us all. It shocks me to see all this first hand. I can almost sense that people know He is the truth and yet reject Him because they want to be their own gods and not humble themselves to the Most High. I fear that they realise that they would need to change and that they are too in love with the world to do this.

My mum who is still Catholic, gets angry whenever people talk about being born again and she said that she hates the term "born again" believer! Why would she hate this? I pointed out that it was Jesus Himself who said you must be born again. I hope that that made her think on these things.

It is hard to know the truth while our families are perishing. I realise now that my family can have expensive cars, houses and holidays, have high social status and impressive careers and yet they are dirt poor if they do not have Jesus Christ.

I have none of these worldly things. In worldly terms I am very poor and unfortunate indeed but I have Jesus Christ and so I know that I have an abundance and I have great wealth that shall never perish.

In Our Lord,

Response #34: 

The RC church is filled with awful things, biblically speaking. For those not familiar with it, from the outside many of these things are not at all obvious (Mormonism is the same way, and the Masons and most cults). But get close and turn over any rock and . . . horrors! What you find! A very helpful and eye-opening series is the one done by my friend and associate Bartek (series on Mary at the link). I highly recommend it.

I'm not surprised at an RC being upset about something in the Bible. They don't believe the Bible. They have it, but they've been trained not to pay any attention to it. If ever it says something they don't like or something that contradicts their religion, they put that aside because the pope, the canon law, the fathers, the priests know better and have the "real answers". In other words, you and I are shocked because of course the Bible is the Word of God, the sole source of truth in this life. But for the RC's, it's just a stage prop, just an heirloom.

I'm sorry about your sister. I'll say a prayer for her. People make their own decisions, and when it comes to family, well, let's just say I don't know of any believers who truly love the Lord as you and I do who don't have family members whose spiritual status causes them tears and trouble. It goes with the territory of following the Lamb wherever He leads (Rev.14:4). What we can do: 1) pray, 2) set a good example, give a good witness, and 3) trust the Lord that He cares for us and knows these individuals are important to us.

Re: "I have none of these worldly things. In worldly terms I am very poor and unfortunate indeed but I have Jesus Christ and so I know that I have an abundance and I have great wealth that shall never perish."

Amen and Amen!!! That is what we believers who follow Him are doing here and why we are here.

In Jesus Christ who is our everything.

Bob L.

Question #35: 

Hello Bob,

I put together a long letter to my dad, discussing the philosophical "proof" of God.

[details omitted]

Response #35:  

"Free will" is a scary concept, I suppose – but it is why we are here on earth, namely, to make choices. Blessedly, however, our free will as believers (and for those who will eventually turn to the Lord) consists entirely of trusting Him. So we actually have nothing whatsoever to worry about or to be scared about. Jesus has already died for all of our sins. As those who have put our faith in Him for life eternal, everything going forward is all about testing our response to Him, demonstrating that we love Him more than anything in this temporary world.

You have made it clear that you love Jesus Christ, and not with a lukewarm love either. You are clearly "red hot" for the Lord, and that is wonderful to see. It is important not to let emotional upheavals or over-thinking things get us depressed or side-tracked. Things are really very simple. Keep praying, keep reading the Bible, keep growing through good Bible teaching, believing it, and putting it into practice. And when the time comes, keep ministering according to the ministries He gives us. You are already making a good start there, considering and weighing what the Spirit is telling you and where He is leading you. Ministering the truth to your family is not at all a bad place to start.

There is as I always say – when it comes to practical application of the truth in this world – a sweet spot between extremes. On the one hand, spending every waking moment on the job hunt is not a good thing; on the other hand, never applying for a job and expecting one to fall from the sky is not good either. On the one hand, being overly detailed to the point of splitting the atom in an attempt to reach someone for Christ might be too much; on the other hand, doing no preparation at all and expecting the Lord to honor that lack of effort is also not a good approach. When it comes to application, new believers – and believers who are not "new" in terms of when they were saved but who are just getting around to pursuing the truth and the true purpose the Lord has for them in this life – often react like a teenager who has just gotten behind the wheel of a car for the first time. When one starts driving, it's not uncommon to over-correct and veer somewhat violently from one side of the road to the other. But once a person is an experienced driver, small, intuitive, almost unnoticeable adjustments keep the car right in the center of the lane. As we learn more about the truth, and as we become more and more seasoned in our application of it, we get better at hearing the Spirit and making these adjustments.

So in my opinion you are doing a fine job. My advice would be to relax, listen to the Spirit, and continue on your good approach. Your strategy is perfect. Your tactics will adjust as you grow and gain more experience in fighting this fight. In other words, on this particular question, I don't think there's anything wrong with what you are doing; if the Spirit is guiding you to veer more towards presenting biblical truths on their own authority and to rely less on reason in your approach, then be joyous about His guidance.

This is a question of tactics. We all have our own ministries given by the Lord; we all have our own unique combination of gifts, our own personalities, our own strengths and weaknesses, our own life experiences. The Spirit uses them all – and uses us all to bring about the result ordained. Also, if we are talking about evangelism and apologetics, every person out there is different, and there are different categories of people too, of course, and different known situations or groups upon which we might be called to focus.

When it comes to people we know – and more to the point, people who know us – that is in some regards the toughest nut to crack. That is because on the one hand we are more heavily emotionally invested in reaching them than in the case of perfect strangers; and on the other hand, people who know us wrongly assume that we are "known quantities" and thus that they have nothing to learn from us. This is true and will continue to be true no matter how many languages we learn, or how many degrees we amass, or how much demonstrated quality of output we produce over no matter how many year – I speak from experience here.

So tactically and practically speaking, as long as we are approaching things through the truth and with pure motives, if we present the gospel, the Spirit will make sure that the gospel gets through. He is the Evangelist in Chief, and it is always the Spirit who convicts the person in his/her heart. But even with God Himself making the truth crystal clear (overcoming with ease any deficiency on our part), everyone who hears will still make their own decision. That is the main point to keep in mind. Even if you could put together the perfect proof that God is who He says He is and that salvation is through Jesus Christ, this perfection of logic would not sway the most logical unbeliever in the world – if he/she is not interested in his/her heart of hearts. It's not about what we do. It's about what God does – and in the case of salvation, it's also about what the unbeliever decides. No one can resist God . . . unless He allows it. And He does allow it in the case of accepting or rejecting eternal life.

Practically, then, what does that mean? It means that we do the best job we can do (within reason and avoiding going to extremes), and let the Spirit do the rest. We understand that we are indeed to work hard and do a good job (in all things, actually), but we also understand that success is the result of what God does and not what we do (in all things, actually). We honor Him by being diligent; we also honor Him by acknowledging and remembering that results come not from our diligence but from Him, graciously making use of us.

So to return briefly to your piece, I have no problem with it and indeed I think you make some really excellent points. In practical terms, however, not everyone is going to be swayed by this particular approach, or not at least by the volume of it. I have found that one point well-made and clearly presented is often more effective than the bombardment approach. We can't expect people who are only marginally interested or perhaps only humoring us to have the patience to wade through a great deal of material. Making one point at a time, however, might be more effective. Of course, as I say, the Spirit honors our efforts on the one hand, and He is the One who actually moves the person witnessed to on the other – and only if and when the person is willing to be moved.

We can discuss the ins and outs of individual points. However, in my opinion there is no way to "prove" either the existence of God or the need for salvation to anyone. And to some degree it's unnecessary too because according to scripture everyone already knows these things very well (e.g., Ps.19:1-6; Acts 17:22-32; Rom.1:18-32). If they say they do not, this is part of the armor they have donned to avoid having to deal with the problems of sin, death and judgment. Whether they realize what they are doing deep down inside, or have managed to harden themselves to the point of no longer remembering what they once did know and understand, doesn't make any practical difference to those of us trying to reach them. Instead of us assuming that they are in control (they are not, except of their own stubborn will), or imagining that we can reach them with proper arguments (it's not about that), we need to realize that in truth this is between them and the Holy Spirit. When we witness to them, we are placing the issue of life or death before them . . . again (everyone faces these essential questions in their hearts usually very early on), and giving them another opportunity to re-think their previous bad decisions to resist the truth. When and how to do that is a tactical question. As I say, people we know – and more to the point who know us – are special cases. It's hard for us to be objective. A soft touch is often the best way to go, a "word fitly spoken" (Prov.25:11) being often more effective than an all out offensive. But that is a personal thing and has to do with the relationship between the two parties involved. You know yourself and your dad. Those on the outside like myself can only speak in generalities about these matters.

Second guessing oneself is not always a bad thing, especially if the Spirit is guiding you to reconsider. But for those of us like yourself who are marching forward in the truth and with the truth, there's no reason to get down about this wonderful journey we are on. We have a fabulous opportunity to learn more about Jesus Christ every day, to walk closer with Him at every step, and to earn glorious eternal rewards that will please Him and us forever. What could be better? We have a right – even a duty – to feel good about that, even when we are under pressure and don't have all the answers to everything just yet. In time, all things are made clear – if we persevere up the strait and narrow road to Zion.

You are running an excellent race, my friend! Be pleased to keep up the pace. Therein lies great reward.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #36: 

I’ve been reading some of your post and Q/As. My question is that if the RCC Is so bad why are there more Catholics than there are of all of the Protestant denominations put together? And have been for a long time? And the Surely the Holy Spirit would have intervened with most of the people and shown them the truth? And you constantly have Protestants joining the Catholic Church. Protestants that have been saved by the Baptism if the Holy Spirit. I’m not very educated on the subject but I do feel the need to educate myself since I’m feeling a pull toward Jesus.

Thanks

Response #36: 

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for your interest in Ichthys.

If it were a question of numbers being important, then in the history of Israel the idolatrous majority of the country who kept going after the Baals and the gods of the nations surrounding would be right rather than the minority who followed the Lord. If it were a question of numbers being decisive, then the vast majority of earth's population who follow false religions would be right.

There is a big difference between the Church of Jesus Christ and what I call the "church-visible". The former is composed of genuine born-again born-from-above believers in Jesus Christ; the latter is mostly composed on unbelievers, even though the people concerned belong to all manner of putatively "Christian" churches and denominations. Just because a group or a church calls itself "Christian" does not mean that it actually has anything to do with Jesus Christ or that those within it are saved.

So when you mention the phenomenon of Protestants going Roman Catholic, my observation would be that they were not saved in their Protestant churches. Indeed, I would venture to say that the majority of those who attend or are members of Protestant churches are not saved – possibly a sizeable majority. After all, this is the final Church era, that of Laodicea where lukewarmness is the rule. One can look at practically any Protestant denomination and see that lukewarmness (variously manifest). Churches today are interested in political action, entertainment, music, social welfare, numbers, money, etc. – but not in the truth of the Word of God. That is the one thing they mostly have in common (with mournfully few exceptions).

You say that you are feeling the Lord drawing you to Himself (Jn.6:44). Hallelujah! If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ (though from your email it sounds as if you may indeed be), then please see this link: "Salvation: God's Free Gift"). If you are a believer who is being led to become serious about the truth of the Word of God, I say again, hallelujah! This ministry is meant for precisely that purpose, namely, to provide the spiritual food necessary to grow in grace and in the Lord, spiritual nutrition that is sadly lacking in most churches and Christian groups today.

You are most welcome at Ichthys.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #37:  

I suppose I am emailing you out of frustration, but it just frustrates me when people who know what they are talking about are often misunderstood and misjudged. I don't speak this in any proud way, but I try to be factual in everything.

I was having a discussion with a relation of mine and I was telling her that if believers were to take in good solid teaching throughout the week rather than just on Sunday that would help their spiritual growth tremendously. A one day Sunday is not enough. But she always has to sorta twist what I said into something it was never meant to be. I told her that I was telling a friend of mine, who has been struggling a lot lately, about Mr. Omo's lessons [link] to see if she would be interested. I cited the fact that you wouldn't just feed a sheep 1 day a week and then starve it for 6 days straight, but that you would feed it throughout the week. Back to my discussion with my family member, I even specified that we don't necessarily have to be taught every day, a few days a week is fine (although everyday is even better) and even if you stuck with just Sunday as your "being fed day" there is nothing wrong with that. I was so careful to specify all that to her. Its not like such person has committed some sin.

I'm not being legalistic in any way, again, I was clear in stating that there is nothing wrong with just being taught on one day a week only, but I also had to be factual with her and so I told her that Sunday alone is not enough, especially considering that what passes as teaching today is nothing more than "sermonizing" for the most part. We should be getting fed throughout the week, and those who expose themselves to more expose themselves to more spiritual potential and growth. Nothing untruthful about that whatsoever.

I just made valid points. She says that what works for one person may not work for another, which is true for many things, for example, your ministry may not be everyone's cup of tea, and so on and so on, but we do need the word taught consistently to us in order to thrive. I'm sorry, but I think this type of attitude is prideful, and people who have this mentality are trying to gun spiritual growth out on their own and failing to utilize the resources the Lord has provided us. Yes, the Holy Spirit teaches of course, but He also uses qualified men to do that as well.

And so I told her that such an approach makes you more vulnerable and opens us up to self harm because we start to become our own teachers and everything is up for interpretation. This probably explains why so many are lukewarm today because not only do they not receive good solid teaching, they also don't receive enough of it, leaving dangerous paths for the believer to follow. Of course the believe has to decide for him/herself who and how often they are going to listen to, but if a believer is really seeking the Lord's truth, not to mention a good ministry were the word is being taught well consistently, then the Lord will give them just that if they so care to have it as you have often stated many times.

In the end all I was trying to say was that, as you told me, "consistency is key". The man who runs 1 mile a day or a few days a week will get farther than the man who runs 1 mile on one day only. But she has this mind set that "knowing Jesus" is like magic pixie dust. Prayer is great, but it alone is not the primary means of spiritual growth, we grow through the word! I would actually say that just prayer by itself with no reading or learning any of the Word let alone meditating on it would grow anyone spiritually at all. Such a person wont get anywhere! So I tell her that I prefer to stick with reading my Bible and receiving good teaching everyday then making it habit of skipping such activities a few days a week and then justifying it all with statements like, "but there is nothing wrong with that and the Lord doesn't condemn us," which is true, but we shouldn't make a habit of it. Every time I say "we should do our best to get in the word everyday without fail", she gets easily rubbed the wrong way, assuming I'm picking on those who don't, but I tell her I'm not and she says yes I know, but then I ask her why she brings up those points all the time if she says she agrees with me and understands what I say?

I told her that I want to know more of the Lord's truth and want to be in the word everyday, not putting any pressure on her whatsoever, just sharing my passions, and then she'll say something like " yes, that's good for you but some days I just wanna "be with Jesus". I just wanna know Him!"As if being in the word in the power of the Spirit isn't being "with Him" , I told her that there are multiple ways to be "with" the Lord, prayer, song worship, Bible reading etc. She said of course, but the way she words her statements makes it sound otherwise. Yes, we can "know" the Lord through just being with Him in prayer, but it is limited compared to getting into His word which is the primary way of doing so.

I just get this impression that she deems me as more "academic", and less spiritual which isn't true. Just because some people love the truth more than you do taking more time to study and look into these things does not make them mere "academics". Even if she doesn't believe that, that's the vibe she gives. That's one of the biggest issues I had with her and her group she went to. There was too much emphasis on music, worship, socializing, deep discussions, etc etc. But when there was a so called deep Bible study", it was usually nothing more than just everybody throwing in their opinion of what they thought such and such a verse meant. They all disagreed one TONS of things, but it didn't matter, "we all just need to be unified and love one another". Never mind loving the Lord more putting His truth before people. Mr. Luginbill, if they were to look at you and me they would say we aren't unified like we should be and that the way we are doing things isn't how church is supposed to be. But they just don't understand. This just reminds me Thyatira, the era of compromise, or instead maybe Pergamum, the era of accommodation. Truth gets kicked out the back door, and the big problem with the whole "everything's up for interpretation, 52 pickup attitude" is that it rubs off onto either believers and takes away their zeal for truth that they might have otherwise had, they would not have been plagued with the idea that unity and fellowship come before truth. But what escapes their attention is that one's love for God is inseparable from their love for His truth.

I know this all sounds like a preachy rant, and I didn't intend for this email to come off that way, but after having a tense discussion with someone more gifted in speech and quick thinking than I, its good to be able to share it all with someone who understands. I'm trying to stay humble through all this, and if I'm off in some way please show me where! Its not about whose right or wrong, its about the the truth in this case, and pleasing the Lord through it of course.

In His Grace and Power

Response #37:  

I am happy to validate everything you've said here, my friend. You are in the right, and absolutely so. The only nit I would have to pick is in the assumption that people who are determined to be lukewarm can be brought around to the truth by force of reasoning.

And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them."
1st Samuel 8:7 NKJV

Samuel was right to be angry with the people of Israel and to remonstrate with them about their desire for a king "like all the other nations". But it wasn't really him who had the greater grounds for anger but the Lord. And he wasn't going to be able to persuade Israel to trust the Lord if Israel had already decided not to.

In my experience, people decide to do what they WANT to do – then they come up with reasons why what they have decided is good and right. It's commonly called "rationalization".

When Christians have a strong affinity for the do-nothing, learn-nothing lukewarm Laodicean approach, it's uncommon for them to be persuaded out of what they like through a straightforward appeal to the truth. If they found the truth persuasive and to their liking, they would be seeking it out in the first place (however long and bumpy the journey). That doesn't mean that there is no hope for such people. But it usually does mean that it will take the Lord to get their attention (that was certainly true in my own case).

After all, spiritual growth is not easy. It's not really like the analogy your used of a man running one mile a week versus the man running one mile three days a week. It's more like the man who says he likes to run getting together for donuts with others who make the same claim one day a week (but never running) versus the man who is running four, five, six or more miles at a good and increasing clip almost every day. In other words, there really is NO comparison between those going to Laodicean church and those who are committed to spiritual growth.

Also, spiritual growth is not magic. We who have been on this journey for a while understand full well that we are so much better off in every way, and that the way we see and relate to the world is completely different from what was the case before we started to grow. And we also know for a fact – and are not merely making the claim – that we are walking closer to the Lord. But you can't prove that to someone who is looking for proof before engaging. In fact, they really do not want proof – what they want is an affirmation that what they like to do is just fine, while what they don't want to do because it is too hard is not necessary or "provably" better . . . to their lights anyway.

Anyone looking at us objectively and without prejudice will certainly be able to see the changes in us that have come from growth. But what if those we most want to make that observation are resistant to the idea of doing likewise? They will find ways to pull the veil over their hearts ever tighter – at least until the Lord intervenes.

So take heart, my friend. You have chosen "the best part" and that "will not be taken from you" (Lk.10:42). At the judgment seat of Christ, when the crowns of victory are awarded, we who have fought the good fight resolutely in spite of the nay-saying of those around us who couldn't be bothered, will not regret on single hour of study or of effective prayer or of genuine ministry to others. Those who have completely wasted their time here on earth, however, will have plenty to regret.

(10) According to the grace of God given to me like a wise architect I have laid down a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay another foundation except the One that has been laid down: Jesus Christ. (12) And if someone builds upon his foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, [or] with wood, hay, and stubble, (13) [in either case] his work will be made manifest [as to its true quality], for the Day [of judgment] will make it clear [for what it truly is], because it will be revealed (lit., uncovered) with fire. And the fire will evaluate (lit., "assay") the work of each person as to what its [true] quality is. (14) If anyone's work which he has built [on his foundation of faith in Christ] remains (i.e., is not burnt away by the fiery evaluation), he will receive a reward [for it]. (15) If anyone's work is burnt up, he will suffer the loss [of any potential reward for it], but he himself will be saved – but in this way [just described] as through fire [which evaluated his false works as worthless and burnt them up].
1st Corinthians 3:10-15

(10) For we must all stand before Christ's tribunal, so that each of us may receive recompense for what he has accomplished through this body, whether it be good or worthless. (11) Therefore since we know the fear of the Lord, while we attempt to persuade men, God sees us entirely for what we [truly] are – and I trust that what we [truly] are is equally clear to your consciences.
2nd Corinthians 5:10-11

Your fellow soldier in the army of Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #38: 

Exactly! You confirmed and validated my thoughts. I just always want to make sure my words and motives are what they should be in a discussion, sorta like, "did I say the right things-were my motives correct and Godly, did I misunderstand and misjudge what the person said etc.

You are right about not trying to bring lukewarm people around by force of reasoning. I keep telling myself that I'm just gonna have to keep quite about my beliefs when I'm around her or her friends, not because I don't want my light to shine forth to other believers, but because it has already been proven to me that it is useless to do so. She always has this objective mind set when in deep spiritual discussions with others and is more likely to try to come up with an answer than think about what was actually said. They are all going to disagree no matter what. Either that or they will say it doesn't matter (truth smorgasboardism) all just an attempt to sweep my attitude/beliefs about the importance of putting Biblical truth first under the carpet, again citing that if that causes a divide in fellowship between other believers than that is just silly. Not true! Truth, God, before people!

So unless she, my relation, asks me about my beliefs, I'm not going to discuss anymore of this with her. She has changed before in the past, and I pray she will continue to change, but as for right now she shows no signs of budging in regards to approach to the Biblical truths I have mentioned to her.

Now to be fair to her she did apologize for being passive aggressive after the discussion was over, and there were some misunderstandings on both sides of the discussion. She still disagrees with me, but she does understand now that I am in no way putting standards on others nor judging them. Its just that she is very strong willed when it comes to beliefs, which can be good and bad, a double-edged sword if you will. We listen to the Holy Spirit, not ourselves, and by failing to avail ourselves to qualified men to feed us the word we put ourselves in danger. She likes to listen to sermons on Sunday but it just seems to me that she doesn't like being taught. She likes being taught by people who teach things that appeal to what she wants to believe. But usually just on Sundays. She would rather learn and know more of the word on her own by herself, she basically even said it herself! And that's when she said that was enough for her and she didn't need anything else from anyone else other than on Sundays. She said that her approach works for her, but that still doesn't invalidate the fact that we need more solid teaching throughout the week.

[omitted]

I'm not trying to make it about myself, but in the end they just don't understand me, nor do they understand that their own attitudes are part of the problem, a problem they don't even probably know exists among the church, if they did they wouldn't be part of it most likely.

One last thing, and its totally random from what we discussed above, but how much do you think we will be working during the tribulation's first half? Is it the case that once it begins we all quit our jobs and go into hiding, or we keep working until persecution and or the mark of the beast forces us out of the work force since money will be useless to all believers once the mark is being given out?

In the Grace of our Lord

Response #38: 

This is an excellent perspective to hold onto. No matter how articulate a person is in fact, no matter how many degrees or whatever, it's impossible to persuade people of the truth if they don't want to accept it.

Don't take it personally. They rejected Peter, John and Paul. They didn't even accept the Lord Jesus Christ, not even in the face of the most amazing miracles. Why would they believe us?

“He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
Luke 10:16 NKJV

"Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."
John 15:20 NIV

A person has to be truly desirous of the truth in the heart to seek it in the first place and accept it in the second. If they just happen to be blessed to "bump into it", it's unlikely it will make any particular impression, just because it's the truth.

Our job is to stay true to the truth and minister it to those who ARE willing to accept it. Doing that is feeding the sheep just as our Lord commissioned us to do.

On the Tribulation, it's a fact that while we know a great deal about the outlines of it from prophecy, the palpable texture of it is unknowable ahead of time (except that we know it will be extremely unpleasant) and no doubt varies from place to place and personal situation to personal situation.

We are going to find out soon enough. Until then, our Lord's words tell us to make the most of the opportunities we have now.

"As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work."
John 9:4 NIV

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #39: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have a dear friend that is Born-Again and attends a Lutheran church. I attended a Bible Study with him yesterday with his friends that are Lutheran. One of the attendants made the following remark: "I really enjoy the prayer of "absolution" which the Pastor prayed yesterday".

This statement got my attention immediately. I did not make a comment in reply but later when this friend and I were alone together, I asked him about what this meant. He stated that it was a "tradition" to say this prayer after the congregation had openly confessed their sins. I don't know if he means audibly or privately to one another. His response was, what was done here is perfectly "Biblical" as it says in the Bible, confess your sins to one another". I replied that a man does not have the authority to "forgive" sins and then quoted Luke 5:24. I did not address the later comment about confessing your sins to one another. I looked at the Greek word for forgive and the Strong's says in the meaning:

"to Remit". Forgive and absolve have the same meaning in English.

How can I best provide a response to his statements? He was formally Roman Catholic and Lutheran before he was born-again, and attends the Lutheran church again since he was born-again to please his spouse.

Thanks so much for your thoughts and advice as always.

Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #39:  

Good spiritual "radar", my friend!

I'm not any kind of expert on Lutheranism, but what I know of it suggests to me that Luther moved "to point A" beyond RC doctrine, but after his death nobody gave much thought to moving to "point B". So there is a lot of residual RC nonsense therein.

No one can absolve someone else of their sins. Only Jesus Christ can do that (e.g., Matt.9:2-7).

The passage you cite in James is talking is talking about the extreme situation of someone under the sin unto death (or at least deadly ill because of sinfulness) asking for help and intervention from the church as a whole – it's not a carte blanche for anyone to demand confession or to offer confession, much less absolution (see the link).

RC's reinvented the priesthood of Israel with lots of new inventions added to it; confession of sin to a priest and the priest being able to forgive is one of the most abominable. This reduces the cross and the blood of Christ to nothing – in the thinking and practice of those who commit such outrages.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #40: 

"There are too many "ball-park" interpreters and expositors today. The theological atmosphere of evangelicalism is saturated with a dense fog of uncertainty and misplaced emphases in handling the Word of God. Many churches are on the rocks because of careless hermeneutics, ignorance of biblical languages, and unsystematic theology. Rough estimates as to what this or that passage means will not do. We need qualified expositors who will take the time and make the necessary sacrifices to do their homework well and bring clarity to the minds of God's people as they read and study God's holy Word."

Excerpt from a book called "Sufficiency in Christ" that brings you to my remembrance.

Thanks for all you do for the kingdom of God and its true inhabitants.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #40: 

Thanks for the good words!

Keeping you in my prayers (and thanks so much for your).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #41: 

Dear Professor

Big Event: The shearer whom I met at Bible Study group mentioned he was going to a Big Event at the Perth Showgrounds in November. Who is the showman? Todd White. I went home and Googled him and watched his YouTube videos (yuk), pretty obvious that the loot is of prime importance to him. Healing? Really? Mentored by Kenneth Copeland to boot! Great piece of photo journalism by the young woman from Inside Edition, catching an off the cuff interview with Kenneth Copeland as he was about to get into his black limo.

This all helped the young shearer see that Todd White could out shear him - just with sheer nonsense alone. I had caught onto the shearer’s remark that Todd hardly ever uses scripture - hence the 2nd Peter 1:16-21 scripture from your Email Q & A was found and presented to him.

Our friend seemed convinced by these revelations. I probably went a bit far by adding that many organizations also like to use scripture wrongly to ensure a cash cow. For example, those that teach that Tithing is a requirement for Christians today. I mentioned the Mormon church and the false apostles and prophets, together with their false “scripture”. By implication of the tithing “requirement”, this would also include __'s church! He said that he would save a lot of money. I don’t know whether he meant only saving from missing 4 days work to attend the “big” event and being fleeced while there amongst the hype; or also that he is considering his contributions to a church that preaches false doctrine. If they are WRONG about this what else are they also wrong about?

The truth makes things quite uncomfortable at times, as you know. (My association with them, yet my disagreements with their understanding of scripture).

I am grateful to have you as my teacher.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Your student

Response #41:  

Great stuff!

I'm grateful to have you as a brother in Christ – especially one who loves the truth the way you do, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #42: 

Dear Robert:

Is it true that Mary is terrifying to demons as I have often come across. At least in the stories and testimonies. Often the argument for this fact is that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Satan cannot cast out Satan. Therefore Mary is what the Catholics say she is.

What do you think?

Response #42: 

Mary was a great believer, but had then and has now no "special powers". This is RC mythology. The best thing I can direct you to on that is our brother Bartek's "Series on Mary" – I highly recommend it (at the link).

As to exorcism in general, this was a power only our Lord and the apostles had. No one has it today. We can pray in the case of those possessed, but it is beyond dangerous to assume we have some power over demons that we can deploy personally and at will. There is a whole lot of false information out there in the ether on that subject today. Here's a link that will lead to others: "Dreams, Visions, Miracles, Exorcism, Tongues, and False Prophets" (the exorcism per se part is about half way in).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #43: 

Real fast, do you think it is inadvisable to be friends with Catholics? There is a work acquaintance I have who is Catholic, and I like spending time with her some of the time, but I don't know if it is determined to end badly because I am not a fan of the pope.

Keep in mind, I myself am not married or have family. So it is different from answering someone who has people in their life I think.

Response #43:  

I read this in scripture:

If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
1st Corinthians 10:27 NIV

So scripture anticipates that we many have friends and acquaintances who are unbelievers even, not just lukewarm Christians (I'm agnostic about the possibility of salvation for Roman Catholics, but being one is not a sign of desiring the truth, clearly).

There's no harm there, but of course the truth will be divisive, so it really is next to impossible to have a close friendship with an unbeliever or lukewarm believer where a red hot believer feels free to speak his/her mind about spiritual matters (cf. 1Cor.5:10).

It's never a good idea for anyone to isolate themselves from everybody else, regardless of the reason; it's also questionable for a believer who really loves the truth to embrace the world whole-heartedly. As with so many of these applications questions, the middle of the road is a safe place to be.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #44: 

Thanks man.

One more thing: Is it true Jesus Christ founded Catholicism? Any info or on the origins and how/when they started developing false doctrines ‘n’ such?

Response #44: 

The RC church came about and developed during the middle ages (there was no such thing until centuries after the passing of the apostles, even though there were Christians in Rome). Saying that Jesus founded the RC church is as crazy as saying He founded Mormonism. Just because they use our Lord's Name doesn't prove anything.

Best thing to read at Ichthys to get a handle on the false RC doctrine's is Bartek's series on Mary (at the link).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #45: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill, I pray all is well with you and your ministry.

You once wrote about unbelievers not wanting a God and in the end that is exactly what they will get [Hell] a life without God.

Could you expand more on how you came to this biblical conclusion and why it is that unbelievers do not want to believe in their maker? Why has most of mankind used this free will gift to reject the God that made them? Why are the select, so few? What possible hope at anything could the unbeliever have outside of a life with God?

Thanks as always

Response #45:  

Hello Friend,

Good to hear from you.

As to your question, let's start with the fact that God is perfect. Therefore His plan has to be perfect as well. And that means that everything that happens is the perfect thing that had to happen. For if there were a better way for things to happen, then the plan we are seeing play out would not be perfect, being "not as good" as that other possibility. So in fact there are no other possibilities for the working out of the perfect plan of God, and so God has ordained this plan, this one perfect plan, from eternity past. Therefore your salvation and mine cannot be detached from the fact of this one perfect plan. So if some are not saved, it is certainly not because God was not willing for them to be saved since He wants all to be saved (e.g., 1Tim.2:4). It grieves God, being perfect, much more than it grieves you and I that unbelievers are not saved. But if the plan were not working out perfectly, this one perfect plan besides which there could be no other, then neither would you nor I would be saved.

Secondly, God is completely just and righteous. He cannot possibly be unjust, else He would not be God (more on all this at BB 1: Theology). Being perfectly just, nothing God does towards unbelievers is unjust, not how they are treated in this life and not how they are judged for refusing to come to Jesus Christ. Has God made every just provision so that unbelievers can be saved? Indeed He has, for Jesus died for every single sin of every single human being, including those who refuse to accept Him (see the link: Unlimited Atonement). God gave every unbeliever life. God gave every unbeliever free will. And God gave every unbeliever the ability to avoid the lake of fire simply by accepting the gracious gift of Jesus Christ. Yet very many do not. That is not God's fault. Is there really anything else He could have done besides subjecting His one and only dear Son to the entire punishment for sin that these unbelievers (and you and I) deserved? That is infinitesimally more than any of us deserve. But God did it anyway. Out of love – which is who He is. And out of justice – otherwise none could be saved, including you and I.

No, there is no hope for unbelievers – or for us either – outside of God. Does it seem insane not to accept the free gift of eternal life when the alternative is eternal condemnation? Of course. But that is what most people choose. Why? It has to do with arrogance. Unbelievers do not want to subordinate their free will to God. Does that sound familiar? It should. That is exactly the problem with the devil and his angels. If anyone should have realized that God could not be beaten, and that rejecting Him and eternity with Him was the worst possible choice imaginable it was Satan – because Satan was in the presence of the Lord for untold eons, not only enjoying His presence and all the blessings thereof, but also observing His omnipotence and His perfect character. But arrogance corrupted the devil's thinking and he was able to convince himself that he could find a way to win over God and be his own god.

So it's not a matter of information. No one has ever had more information than Satan. It is a matter of free will. Likewise unbelievers are able to harden their hearts against the truth of their mortality, their sinfulness, and the existence and perfect righteousness of God which is sure to demand judgment from them (Rom.1:18-32). The truth is in the hearts of all (Eccl.3:11), and shouts forth from all creation (Ps.19:1-6; cf. Rom.1:19-20). Only when arrogance decides not to turn away the truth does the heart harden. Then unbelievers concoct for themselves all manner of excuses to justify their insane choice, some proclaiming that God does not exist, or that He doesn't actually care, or that He is unjust in not providing all with the gospel so that they cannot be condemned – or any manner of drivel to get them through so that they may pretend that this life goes on forever. They know it's not true; but they put that truth effectively to death in their hearts and live as if it were, and embrace lies instead.

Godliness is in great measure the transformation of our hearts through the truth (Rom.12:2) so as to see things as God sees them, that is, as they really are, and not as the world sees them, that is, as they only appear to be. And the closer we draw to the Lord, the more incredible the decision not to believe becomes to us who blessedly do.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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