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Question #1:

Hello Professor, I just had a quick question. How do God’s people get financial blessings from him? V/r

The reason why I asked about the financial blessings is due to the fact that I know people that are paying tithes and they seem to be doing great financially. My wife and I work hard and we seem to be struggling. We’re not living above our means and we budget our money carefully. This is really disturbing to me. V/r

Response #1:

Very good to hear from you, my friend!

As to your question, this passage comes to mind:

I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.
Psalm 37:35-38 NIV

Clearly, the devil has little interest in opposing Christians who are not following the Lord as they should be. He has zero interest in opposing wicked people who are Christian in name only. But he and his subordinates oppose might and main all believers who are genuinely trying to do what the Lord wants, namely, grow daily through taking in the truth, walk daily carrying their crosses in emulation of Christ by responding to the truth in all they think and say and do, and help others do likewise through ministering the truth.

It is also the case that the branch which is bearing fruit will be pruned to bear more and more, whereas the one which fails to bear at all will be allowed to dissipate . . . until it is cut off (Jn.15:2).

Modern day Christian "tithing" is an abomination. This practice assumes that God can be bribed. It assumes that God is a transactional accountant. It assumes that the Old Testament economy of truth was never replaced by the New. It assumes, in effect, and blasphemously so, that the cross of Christ either never happened or has no meaning. God forbid!

Groups which tithe have in common that they put money over everything else – the leadership by preferring a non-biblical means of getting more money over the truth; the congregants by showing that they will do anything to become prosperous – but we know that no one can serve both God and Mammon (Matt.6:24; Lk.16:13).

Since tithing opposes the truth in nearly every conceivable way, why wouldn't the devil seek to prosper those who are following him? Anyone who buys into this false doctrine has at the very least completely neutralized him/herself in the fight in which we are engaged, and will – if salvation is held onto somehow anyway – receive nothing but wood, hay and stubble at the judgment seat of Christ (1Cor.3:11-15); but we who are doing the right thing the Lord's way will receive a bountiful reward from the Lord and a hearty "well done!" from the One we love more than life (Matt.25:21; 25:23; Lk.19:17).

From time to time we have to ask ourselves – so as to remind ourselves – what are we doing with our lives? God has given us time and resources, ample to demonstrate just how much we do appreciate Him and the sacrifice of His Son our dear Savior Jesus Christ. The more we really do love Him, the harder and the better we will fight the fight to use what we have been given to grow in His truth, walk with Him more closely everyday, and help others do the same. That is what the crowns of righteousness, life and glory are awarded for (see the link). Even if as unbelievers we could attain riches in this world "beyond the dreams of avarice", yet had not Christ, we would have nothing but fire to look forward to (Matt.16:26). And even if as Christians we were rich beyond imagination, yet did nothing for Christ in this life, none of those temporary benefits would mean a thing when we stand before Him. But the rewards He gives us for doing the right things His way will last forever and ever (as opposed to the blink of an eye).

Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper—they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life. People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.
Psalm 49:16-20 NIV

So my advice to you, my friend, is to stand fast with the truth. Let your petitions be made known to the Lord. He is capable of giving you everything you actually need. And in fact, being 100% faithful, He always has and He always will. We may be tested, we may be tried, we may be tempered in the fires of adversity, but whatever we are called upon to suffer for Jesus Christ will result in something worth far more than we can even dream of when we stand before Him on that great day.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
2nd Corinthians 4:17 NKJV

Here are some other links on tithing which cover the biblical details if you are interested:

Tithing model?

Tithing and the Book of Life

Is tithing required for salvation?

Melchizedek and tithing

The prosperity gospel and tithing (see especially Q/A #4)

Tithing and church polity

Is Tithing Net or just 'Gross'?

Tithing as income tax

More on tithing

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello Professor,

On the one hand, I always look forward to receiving your responses and I am always excited about them. On the other hand, I have got so much to study and prepare that you shouldn't think that any wait period affects my ministry work.

Talking about which - I'm attaching the next chapter on Mary. This is rather short and full of scripture quotations, so will hopefully not require as much work as the others. But there are a few points on it:

1) I want to make sure everything is explained in full accordance with the scripture, as the subject - Christ's payment for our sin - is critical. The content of this particular chapter could be useful for other studies in the future.

2) The other issue is the usage of the words "redeem" and "Redeemer". You explained their technical meaning according to which we are redeemed when we accept Christ's payment for our sin and so we shouldn't say that Christ "redeemed" us from sin on the cross on the cross, but rather that he "paid" for our sins. Firstly, this doesn't seem to be the meaning in which the Catholic church uses the words "redeem" and "Redeemer", as it seems they make it equivalent to "pay", "the one who paid". So it was at times difficult for me to make a judgment as to whether in my responses to the false Catholic claims I should follow their convention or not. I avoided it where possible, but on the other hand I thought that since Christ can be called our "Redeemer", perhaps it will not be an error if I sometimes use this terminology. So I will appreciate your feedback on this article.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated and needed.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #2:

This is a difficult concept for many for some reason and is often misunderstood. I think you have it right. In law, they teach that there are always two sides to a contract. That is what a covenant is, a contract. Just as in law it is fine to call the one selling a property "the seller" even before the sale is made and even if for whatever reason the contract is not fulfilled or somehow invalid, so also it is right to call the One who paid the price for all sin so that all might be redeemed from sin "the Redeemer" even though it is true that many will reject His gracious payment of their sins. He is the Redeemer of unbelievers in the sense that He has paid for their redemption even though the redemption of the unbeliever remains potential until accepted through faith made possible by grace (see the link).

I continue to be impressed by your good work (link) and the volume of it, my friend. I can tell you that before I read your study my understanding of the depth of the heresy of the R.C. church was only superficial. I see much better now why it is that all my R.C. refuge friends and acquaintances have always affirmed that salvation is impossible within this organization. How in the world could a person be a genuine believer while accepting any of this stuff they teach as true – much less if accepting all of it.

I'm very encouraged by your health report and business report, my friend! I will be keeping up the prayer.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our one and only Redeemer,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Dear Teacher

Here are the chats...

Yours in our dear Lord

****

Very good to have you all here. So, to begin, I proposed a Bible class because that is Bible Truth is what we Christians are all about and what we desperately need in a world that is filled to overflowing with Satan's lies. Peter said:

1 Peter 2:2
[2]like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation

Paul said:

Hebrews 5:14
[14]But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

The Word of Truth is our food whether we are still very young in the Faith (not in terms of time, of course, but in terms of understanding of the Truth) or very mature in it. This is also why Paul said to Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:15
[15]but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in *the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.*

You may remember a common passage which is usually used to guilt many of us into going to church or continuing to when we have grown tired of it:

Hebrews 10:25
[25]not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, *but encouraging one another*; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

The whole point of Church from the last two passages above is to encourage one another in the Truth, not for the music, the "electric preaching", the "spirit's moving" or any of the myriad other catchphrases that people throw about with little thought. The Truth is why we are here. It is why we gather. It is why we endure the challenges that Satan throws at us. And it is what will take us all the way through to the end when we will see the Lord and, hopefully, be praised by Him for how well we did in this life. This is why I proposed a Bible Class. You'll notice too that I called it a Bible Class, not just a Bible Study. The typical ideas of the latter and even the former usually involve a group of Christians who debate in the hopes of reaching a consensus on what to believe. That is not what this is for. Agreement in doctrine and practice is not only desirable but actually instructed in the Bible. But the agreement that we are also told to strive for is with the Scriptures, with the Word of Truth itself, not merely with each other. If we each submit to the teachings of Scripture mediated through a gifted and well-prepared teacher, we will also find that we agree with one another. So, our goal is to ensure that we are in agreement with the principles of the Scripture rather than to be inoffensive and accommodating to all manner of opinions for the sake of what is falsely called peace.

That brings me to one more important issue. I am gifted in the Church as a teacher but I am still very much a "trainee teacher" rather than a full-fledged one. A full-fledged teacher is essentially one who has not only come to maturity in the Truth but has also acquired certain critical tools for accessing the Scriptures and mining Truth out of them for fellow believers. Such tools include training in the original languages of the Bible including Ancient Greek, Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic. These are the most critical, although some training in biblical and church history as well as common heresies and faulty theologies are also useful for the teacher. Because of the manner in which I pursued the Lord, I have a smattering of history, common heresies and faulty theologies. But I am only just beginning to learn the languages.

For this reason, I choose to rely on my mentor, a man whom I trust completely in handling the Scriptures. I will be drawing heavily on his work to share with you. And I hope that you will not find this offensive. The following two links will give you critical information about the man himself and about his ministry. I encourage you to look them up and go on to do any further research you desire in order to set yourself at ease about his work.

http://ichthys.com/cv3.htm

http://ichthys.com/ichthys-explanation.htm

An extremely important note that I want to make is this: Our Lord does not have lone rangers in His Army. The entire Army works together. There is no believer so mature that he needs nobody in his walk. So, please, even if I am taking a primary role to produce stuff for all of us, I will not only welcome feedback in the form of questions, observations and even, hopefully polite, disagreements, but I will greatly appreciate them. You may remember this:

Romans 1:11-12
[11]For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; [12]that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.

Paul was an extremely mature believer in addition to which he was an apostle called by the Lord to replace Judas among the twelve. If anyone had any reason to think they needed nobody else in the race, he very likely had more. But you see here that he was actually craving to be with the Roman believers so that he could have a give-and-take with them.

I am no Paul, not by the longest shot. If he needed fellowship, I need it more. And I pray that you see that you could use it too. So, please, encourage and refresh my spirit by engaging as much as it is actually possible for you to.

I take for granted that we will not always agree on everything. Again, the goal is not that we agree with each other. It is that we do our best to learn the Truth together and encourage each other in it.

I will try very hard to make this as light a burden as possible for all of us. But I ask you all to remember that we don't belong to ourselves. We were bought and paid for with a precious Life. So, we really are in no position to make demands. We must live for the Lord no matter what that might mean for us. If it means that we train ourselves in patience and perseverance in studying long and complex material to learn the Truth, then we ought to do that. If it means that we ought to bear with long-winded teachers, then we ought to do that. And why not? Our Lord did way more for us.

Finally, what I have called us together for is no light thing. Please be assured that Satan will not take it lying down. This world is a war zone, a mine field filled with sniper fire. There is no amount of prayer that you could make for this group that will actually be too great or too much. Every second that you spend in prayer for us here is not only going to be very greatly appreciated by me, but it will go a very long way toward accomplishing whatever the Lord is pleased to do with us here.

Please, therefore, pray for us and for me especially so that I will not fail in my task to diligently produce food that will not only delight our spirits but will nourish us in every way that we need it. The days are evil. Let us make each one count for the Lord Who loved us so much that He did not spare Himself but rather gave up Himself to a death beyond understanding that we may be saved and share eternal fellowship in perfect bliss with the Godhead.

This is the model for now: Every Sunday, I'll share material that we will spend the week working through. I intend to begin posting at 3pm Nigerian time (5pm your time, Grace?) every Sunday to give us time to collect ourselves and begin studying it. Any time after the material has been shared we can start sending in thoughts, questions, observations. Depending on the subject and how much work it generates during the work, the following Sunday may continue the discussion or we may move on to a new subject.

For this Sunday, I want to begin at the beginning.

We are all here because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We trust that His Sacrifice is sufficient to appease God for us and bring us back into God's Embrace. That is the definition of being saved, of being a believer, of being a citizen of Heaven, of being part of the Church, the Body of Christ. Everyone who believes has the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

But is that all? Clearly not.

John 15:1-6,16
[1]"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. [2] *Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.* [3]You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. [4]Abide in Me, and I in you. *As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.* [5]I am the vine, you are the branches; *he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit*, for apart from Me you can do nothing. [6] *If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.*

[16]You did not choose Me but *I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain*, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Compare the above to:

1 Corinthians 3:10-15
[10]According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But *each man must be careful how he builds on it.* [11]For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12]Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, [13] *each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.* [14] *If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.* [15] *If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire*.

The foundation in the second passage refers to this Faith in Jesus Christ that we must all initially come into in order to be believers and children of God. It also corresponds to being a branch in Jesus Christ (See Romans 11:17-24). When we believe, we have the foundation laid in our hearts, we become branches "grafted" into the Lord Jesus Christ.

But the end is not there. We did not believe just so that we can carry a placard saying "totally a citizen of Heaven", "Born From Above", "Child of the Most High". In verse 16 of John 15, the Lord stated emphatically that He chose us so that we would bear fruit. And He added that if we do not, we would be cut off from Him and thrown into the fire. That means that God totally expects a return from our salvation. If He does not get it, we will be treated just like unbelievers.

To explain that, every believer who is saved at the end is one who bore some fruit to the Lord in some respect, however little. Where there is no fruit at all, the believer had already become an apostate and thrown their faith away. Such a person will be thrown into the fire (that is, the lake of Fire) along with other unbelievers.

Not only does this warn us that the idea that once we are saved, we can never again become unsaved is completely false, it also tells us that the only way to secure our salvation AND please the Lord Who saved us is to bear fruit for Him.

So, we are saved in order to bear fruit. This is what the Lord will be pleased with and it is what He will reward either with a "well done" or with a rebuke at His Return. See 2 Cor 5:10-11

2 Corinthians 5:10-11
[10]For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. [11]Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

This ought to be the encompassing concern of our lives. This is the meaning of "purpose" which so many are so upbeat about today. The believer is on earth only to bear fruit for the Lord. This is why we are not removed from the Earth once we believe.

But what is this fruit? And what does Paul mean when he says that the material we build with is what will be tested by the fire?

The two actually are the same. What we bring to the Lord on the Day that He judges the Church is our fruit or this building or work that we present to Him in 1 Cor 3:13.

You may remember

Ephesians 2:10
[10]For *we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works*, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Again, those works in the above passage are the same as the fruit of John 15 and the works of 1 Cor 3. Look at the following passages

Ephesians 4:8,11-16
[8]Therefore it says, "When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men." [11]And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, [12]for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; [13]until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. [14]As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; [15]but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, [16]from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

John 15:12,17
[12]"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

[17]This I command you, that you love one another.

Both of these passages came from a larger context that spoke of the works and the fruit that our Lord commands of us.

That is to say, the fruit that our Lord commands of us, the good works that we were created to do are the things we do to help each other grow up in the Faith.

When we love each other, then we help each other using the spiritual gifts that our Lord has apportioned to us to grow in the Truth. This is the fruit that the Lord expects and the work that He is pleased with. This is the "good works" of Ephesians 2:10.

This is very important to keep in mind because in every age, perhaps especially in ours, there are many things that are called "good works" by believers and even those who take responsibility to teach and pastor them which really are the "wood, hay and straw" of 1 Cor 3:12. They amount to nothing of value spiritually and will only perish in the fire before the Lord. These things are a waste of our energy and time. It is necessary that we do our best to avoid such things and focus instead on the works and fruit that are acceptable and desirable to the Lord. Always, such works and fruit will be connected to the Truth.

How do we know that?

John 21:15-17
[15]So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." [16]He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." [17]He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep.

You'll remember that in Jn 15, our Lord connected bearing fruit to loving one another. Here, He connects loving Him to feeding and tending His sheep for Peter. For what feeding and tending His sheep may mean, look at the following

1 Peter 5:1-4
[1]Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, [2] *shepherd the flock of God among you*, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; [3]nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. [4]And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

1 Tim 5:17 KJV
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who *labour in the word and doctrine*.

You see that shepherding or tending and feeding the flock is actually the same as "laboring in the Word and doctrine" or "teaching and preaching" as NIV and NASB put it. The term "preaching" is not a good translation, so the better thing to say there is probably "laboring in the Word and teaching". What Paul speaks of there is those leaders of the Church who work hard in personal Bible study to produce Truth and prepare it in a digestible form for fellow believers and then who also teach it.

That means that what the Lord was commanding Peter to do out of love for Him and which Peter was exhorting fellow elders to do was to be diligent in study of the Word and producing the Truth for their brothers and sisters in the Church. This is what the work of God for us is.

In Jn 6:29, our Lord said that the work of God is to believe in Him. Thus the work we do must be work that either makes belief in Him possible or makes it possible for such belief to increase. And if you remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God, then you will also understand that it is by enabling others to access the Word of Truth that you do the work of God, that is, the good work which we were created in Christ Jesus to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Having established that this is the work or the fruit that the Lord seeks of us, the question should arise in our hearts: how are we going to do this work or produce this fruit?

Again, we will turn to Eph 4 to find our answer.

Ephesians 4:11-16
[11]And *He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, [12]for the equipping of the saints for the work of service*, to the building up of the body of Christ; [13]until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. [14]As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; [15]but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, [16]from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Note the parts in bold. We are equipped for our "works of service" through the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor-teacher. These are the people the Lord Jesus gave to the Church in order to equip the Saints for their works of service.

The apostles and prophets laid the foundation of our Faith which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. They were His faithful witnesses who prepared and left behind the testimony and teachings in the Bible especially the New Testament so that we have a basis for building or a root from which to grow. The evangelists are the ones who told us of the Faith and midwifed our spiritual birth. The pastor-teacher is the one who diligently instructs us in the Faith until we have become mature and no longer can be deceived by the trickery of men (v.14).

Once we have been properly instructed, our own gifts become apparent and we are enabled through rigorous testing to enter our own ministries in the Church to help others to come to and grow in God's Truth.

Therefore, the most important thing to the believer is to ensure that he grows up in the Truth and comes to maturity so that he too can perform his good work for which he can look forward to the Lord's pleasure and a good reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

If you remember our Lord Jesus' analogy of the vine, you will note that it is not quite to be expected that a vine would bear fruit unless it has itself grown to maturity. It's just like any tree or grain. You only truly expect fruit from any vegetation when it has reached the minimum age and development to be able to produce such. This applies to Christians although from the beginning of one's journey in the Faith, right from the moment that we are born again, we actually bear fruit for the Lord in various ways, perhaps through that sincere prayer of thanks that your heart offered because of your enormous gratitude for being saved or the small effort you made to direct someone to the source of Truth, or some small thing you did for a fellow believer to help them along in their Faith. These all count with our Lord. But the main productions of believers can only begin after they have become spiritually mature.

It is at that point, for example, that a teacher can teach with a considerable degree of accuracy. For another example, it is also at that point that those gifted with generosity become wise about how to deploy their material possessions in the most productive fashion to help other believers grow in the Truth and fulfill their ministries. Until that point, even those who have a fairly good idea what their spiritual gifts are don't often know how to use it properly.

So, again, it is most critical for believers to focus upon growing to maturity in order to be able to bear fruit and produce an abundance of good works that will survive the Judgment of Fire that our Lord Jesus will subject all of our earthly deeds to.

This is the next thing that we will look at.

Please note that it is not that we are all called to be teachers. Rather, it is that all the spiritual gifts that the Lord gives are always directed toward the Truth. Whatever the gift may be that we possess, its proper outworking, once we learn to use it right, will be to help other believers grow in the Truth. See the example of the gift of generosity which I shared.

Thank you Mr Odii. You have matured in the faith and no longer an infant, I look forward to your teachings. I believe I am not yet mature enough, and praise God for appointing you at the time He did.

I am grateful to be able to help. One thing that Professor Robert taught me which only resounded from Paul's own teachings (1 Cor 4:3-5) is that we shouldn't pay too much attention to where we think we are in our journey. One can always learn no matter how mature they are. There is no amount of repetition of Bible teachings that is too much for any believer here in this life. So, be encouraged to keep pushing forward and learning solid, orthodox Bible teaching. I am too. And I am blessed to be doing so with you.

Please feel free to share any questions or observations that you have.

Response #3:

Thank you for sharing this with me, my friend!

In Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd of the Sheep,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Dear Professor

I thank you for your prayers on my, my family and friends behalf.

I dropped in to see __ today and he is about the same-good enough to give me another lesson on the Jewish custom of paying for your bride (betrothal) and returning for her once the house was built. Comparing that to Christ paying the price in redeeming us from sin, going away to prepare a place for us and returning once only to collect his Bride after the Tribulation. That is no pre-trib rapture.

__ was baptised into the mormon church on Saturday. My daughter phoned today to tell me of how good it went. And how hungry they went after the missionaries took the leftover sandwiches and she realised she had hardly food in her house! I used it as another opportunity to “preach” the gospel, the falsity of the mormon doctrine and reinforce the need to use the Bible as our measure - and not go after the “fix” as you so rightly put it. I even used the word “addicted”.

Surprisingly she listened intently to what I said and just before her battery died (she’s having problems with her phone) she said she loved me. She was wondering where to go, (if not to a church) to learn the Truth. “Dad, where did you learn all this?

The falsity of the mormons I learned from scripture and researching internet sites AND from personal experiences, AND glory to the One Mighty to Save, pulling me out personally, despite me having been previously led seriously astray. There is a Bible teaching site that I use that teaches only from the scriptures, and not from any denomination I retold her.

It seems that she is also concerned about being isolated with no one to meet with in the Truth. (A huge stumbling block when you feel there is nowhere to go, after leaving the cult). I will pray for her to find some true gospel teaching, and meet with like minded people, close to where she lives. We live quite a distance from her house and having to traverse much of the metropolis once we reach the city limits to get to her place. She ended with saying she loved me, and I could tell there was appreciation for what I had just shared with her. It does not mean she is out of the “woods”, though she is giving me a hearing. Much appreciation for your loving prayers, my dear friend.

Some of my “spiel”: Reminding her: Joseph Smith would be considered a pedophile today, many secret polygamous “spiritual marriages”, some with quite young teenage girls, under coercion and promises of eternal glory for them and their parents, arrested for falsely claiming to be able to find (for a non-refundable fee) buried treasure, of course this never was found, using same “peep” stones in a hat to “translate” the Book of Mormon, ordering the destruction of a printing press and office for exposing his lies ( it only printed one edition before the office and printing press were destroyed), B of M been “edited” many times, even though supposedly direct revelation from God, J.S. Claiming to be going as a lamb to the slaughter while using a pistol to shoot several of his assailants, some fatally, before being shot himself, banking fraud, land profiteering, 33 degree Freemason after just 3 months, using his revised “pure” Freemasonry version for the tokens, oaths, covenants and penalties in the “Lord’s Temple”; and more.

Like our Lord warning of false prophets (does he even hint of any true prophets in the last days - other than the Two Witnesses and the ministry of the 144,000?). And false christ’s. He said do NOT believe them or go after them. He is NOT in the wilderness (or the “sacred” grove of trees for Joseph Smith). The church hymns “Praise to the Man Who Communed With Jehovah” (Joseph Smith). NO!

Praise to God and The Lamb only.

I did go on. There is so much, so false, so blasphemous (as the hymn above). One could go on! I related my first experience in the temple; she later asked me whether I had noticed the differences in the Temple endowment ceremonies; ah yes it jogged my memory from the early 70’s, where the penalties for revealing the signs, oaths ,covenants and penalties were acted out by each and every participant. i.e. slitting your own throat from ear to ear, disemboweling oneself, and thrusting a dagger into one’s own heart. By my next visit it had been replaced with just a stern warning not to reveal the sacred (secret) oaths and covenants of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. Changed by a secret poll of selected church members. I asked my daughter “does God need a people poll to tell Him that He needs to change His sacred Temple Ordinances to suit us”. She laughed, seeing the ludicrous proposition!

I was a little surprised how much of the mormon temple ceremonies I can still recite after only those rare periods of time in the temples. Imagine how penetratingly profound it is! Most mormons nowadays, because of lots of temples, can go there very frequently, some daily (except Sun and Mon), and go through the whole charade for their dead relatives and any other dead they can get records for!

I used __'s lesson today on the Jewish marriage and betrothal process to show that the only marriage for eternity would be Christ and His Church. She does not need to pay tithing on her “gross” income when she can hardly put food on the table, then go begging the church (where you have to do work for them, to “earn” money) and also then having to ask others for the necessities for life.

Maybe I said more than I should in one session. I related it more to my own experiences in the mormon church than to hers, so she could see that I was “sold a pup” from the snake oil salesmen which later engulfed her. I feel very responsible for her being bought up with this deception.

Thank you for your insight into the “addiction” to the high, (I told her this as it related to myself, during the many years in the mormon religion).

This seemed to resonate well with her.

My heart felt thanks for all your words on this, and for your great ministry teaching me from the Bible. It has given me a place to go after being in the wilderness for many, many years. And years more searching through the maze of “preachers” before discovering your ministry

May the Lord continue to bless you in your ministry, as it continues to bless and feed our dear Lord’s sheep.

In the One Who Is Worthy of Praise Honor and Glory, Jesus Christ.

Your student

Response #4:

This is wonderful news about your daughter! I will certainly continue to keep her in my prayers for deliverance.

Thanks also for this great insight into the cult. I had read a few things in the past but most of this is new to me. It's amazing to me that anyone would come to this cult without the influence of a family background in it and believe such hokum. Then again, people seem to be capable of being convinced of virtually anything (if one can be brought to believe in evolution, . . . ). Also, there is the power of numbers. Seeing something absolutely absurd revered by a mass of other people can be extremely persuasive. This explains the Nazis, Communists, and other mass movements as well. And no doubt it explains how antichrist will be able to rise to world power in such a short time, to head of Babylon and revived Rome by persuasion; to world power by conquest thereafter.

I really do appreciate your help, my friend!

Keeping you and the whole family in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Professor

Thank you for your kind reply regarding my daughter and especially for your prayers.

Regarding the mormon religion, speaking of my own experience. I did not know a lot about the Bible, having read it only once right through as a teenager, and not understanding much of the Old Testament in particular. The things I have related to you are NOT revealed to “investigators” of the church (as non members being “taught” in those days were referred to).

After at least a year in the mormon religion, doing everything you were told to, you might be able to apply for a “temple recommend”. One interview with your Bishop and one with your Stake President. Of course before entering the temple for the first time, they made sure you were fully “obedient” (brainwashed into the doctrine of the One AND Only true church on the face of the earth). If you left, where else could one go? The original “investigator” lessons were “logical”. An Apostasy from the true church of the Apostles day, particularly evident in the Dark Ages, then the glorious restoration of the True Church in our day through the “prophet” Joseph Smith. No more contention on Biblical Issues, with a living “prophet to “guide” us (God has Always had prophets- why not in our day?). AND a SECOND witness for Christ , The Book of Mormon”. (In the mouths of two or three witnesses...)

Then there is the “magic formula” of asking God if these things are true (as per last email) with kind members helping you into a lifestyle of “service in the Lord”. Get you, and keep you busy right from the start. A “calling” (read job) from the Lord. My 1st one in the small branch where I was baptised in the ocean, was Sunday School President! What did I know? We will help you. You hit the deck running while the fire is still hot. I actually was “taught” all the lessons in the city before I got a job transfer. It was and still is a very successful formula. Some predictions have mormon numbers in the hundreds of millions by, I think, about 2060, or so, at current expansion rates! I was thinking we will not get to 2060 so did not take too much notice.

At least I can not recall any pre-trib teaching. No need. In the dark days ahead it will be the Priesthood of God (almost all mormon men over 18 hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, while boys from 12 hold the Aaronic Priesthood) that would protect us.

AND what you need to get to the celestial kingdom where God is, to become a God like our Father in Heaven: Repent (more serious stuff, confess to bishop), keep the commandments, pay a FULL tithing on your GROSS income, pay extra into building fund, missionary fund, budget, and on; marry in the temple for time and all eternity. In the temple you will learn all the signs and tokens to give to the Lord’s representatives at the veil, through hand holes. Obey all leaders instructions and sustain them with all that you have and are. The temple worthiness interview includes the question “Do you have ANY sympathies with people or organisations that are antagonistic towards the mormon church?”(i.e. read; reveal the truth about church doctrine and practices that they want concealed)

In fact the very top leadership of the church instructs other leaders in the church NOT to reveal anything detrimental about the church to its members, if it is not “faith promoting”; even if it IS the truth. Do NOT reveal it!

In the interval between my temple visits, they did modify the “5 points of fellowship” at the temple veil as apparently some of the old blokes acting in the role of angels, on one side of the thin veil, got a bit too “frisky” with some of the women on the other side of the veil. Now they have women “angels “ for the women and men “angels” for men.

Only whispering was allowed to maintain “reverence” so close contact through the veil as in mouth to ear. From memory the “5 points of fellowship” (through the veil), cheek to cheek, knee to knee, breast to breast, right hand to right hand, left arm over the shoulders. This is supposed to be how we converse with the angels before being permitted into the presence of the Lord; after giving the correct handshake grips (hello freemasonry, mark Joseph Smith perfected, purified to the divine heavenly style); together with their names and signs.

During the long hours of “temple service”, in intimate contact with the opposite sex, it does not take much imagination for the carnal mind to envisage temptation in “the house of the Lord” as they like to call these hundreds of “holy” buildings now built throughout the world. So there has been quite a lot of “fine tuning” to the original divinely revealed ordinances as given to Joseph Smith. Obviously, going on Mormon changing practices, their god did not get it quite right the first time, but is learning fast as his people show him the “people's way” to perfection.
This is the mormon way to “perfection” and eternal glory.

I know it sounds ludicrous, and when looked at from the Truly Divine perspective it IS totally ludicrous! Even Blasphemous! Never mind, keep singing emotional hymns and rallying hymns, even if there is just a trace of the truth, and the”formula” keeps on keeping on.

There is a LOT more, but as they counsel it is NOT “Faith Promoting” so I need not carry on.
This was my point in a much earlier email that the mormon religion is an excellent example of antichrist. I know you have stated, and I agree, probably ALL religions will be co- opted into the antichrist’s campaign. Joseph Smith and his family were involved in the occult. Brigham Young could imitate the prophet Joseph Smith so perfectly as to convince some people, it WAS Joseph speaking through Brigham, thereby securing his claim to the leadership.

Yes, if people knew these things before being ensnared by Mormonism, perhaps none would join. Once in, do not entertain “anti-Mormon” literature. Formula every time. Most people are “busy” nowadays. Even too busy to read the Bible! So how would they know truth from error when the missionaries come knocking?

The mormon leadership keep their sheep just well enough fed, to have the wool growing only over their eyes. Oh yes, and the of editing documents to make it fit scripture, public relations... That’s more than enough of the deceit that IS Mormonism.

I Hope it may in someways have people want to know more of the Truth of the Bible instead, and perhaps understand the evil one is a bit more cunning than most think; especially that his next move will totally impress and overawe many.

Thank you for continuing to teach the TRUTHS from the scriptures only. My gratitude to you for all you do-even in keeping the wool clipped in front of the sheep’s eyes.

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

Your student

Response #5:

This is very helpful. Thank you.

You have been through a great deal, my friend. Considering what you escaped from, you are definitely a "prize of grace"! But then, so are we all (1Tim.1:15-17).

I will most definitely be keeping your daughter in my prayers.

Keeping you and your whole family in my prayers, my friend. Thanks as always for your good and encouraging words and all your good efforts.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hey! I just realized I never told you my testimony (as we used to say in Pentecostal church) :

When I was younger, no one wanted me. Something must have been horrible about me, I must have been ugly, disgusting unlovable trash monster that my mom, my dad, my grandpa who was (and I admire him still as) a man of God, my next mom, my next dad, on and on, kept throwing me away and were never happy with me. They would only be happy with me the moments I figured out what they wanted: usually making them look good and keeping up their image of themselves in their head. I would fantasize that I was/would become an amazing person superior to them, I tried to delude myself that I wasn't worthless, in fact I was superior to them- but it didn't work. I knew the person in the mirror was less than worthless. I was only valuable in how I made them look and feel. I would injure myself and all my dad cared about was that it made him feel guilty (he didn't say it at the time, but that is what I analysed later-it made him feel bad, but not because of me, because it would reflect badly on him as a parent).

Ironically one of their punishments including reading the Bible. God must hate me too, I thought. I read Paul's writings. The way he talked to the people-I thought he really loved them. And he really was just trying to help them. Not trying to manipulate or use them. They didn't exist to make him feel good or look good or to be another notch on his belt. He loved them even when they did disgusting things, and only talked about it like one might tell a child to please not touch the stove. I can't explain but I knew that was real love. For me, being told I did something wrong, was a rejection of me, was being told I was bad. Because to my caretakers, right and wrong was how THEY defined it (not God), and they would not accept me or love me unless I toed their line. My value was in my use to them. Paul wasn't like that. I believed, and still do, that even in my disgustingness and worthlessness Paul would love me too. And later I came to understand the Lord better (before I couldn't understand Him). So I can be worthless to them, since they only see my worth in how I make them look to others (and it is a false image, then). Because He knows me perfectly, the bad perfectly, and died anyway, and knew always and wanted always for that me to be healed and be with Him forever.

Response #6:

I'm very happy to see how far you have come and what you have overcome. It is a testimony to the grace of God and a demonstration of the fact that disadvantages from the human viewpoint are not disadvantages for God in accomplishing what He wants to accomplish in the lives of those who truly love Him.

And we know that, for those who love God, He works everything together for good – [that is to say,] for those who have been called according to His plan.
Romans 8:28

I keep you in my prayers daily, my friend, and I am confident that the Lord is leading you forward in all His purposes for you in a perfect way. So keep on fighting the good fight of faith. In this there is the greatest reward, as long as we persevere in so doing.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Yes, it is all God. I can point to so many good things of Providence and just so many things that did not go the bad direction that was likely. When I stand before Him the most I can say is not 'I did it' but 'how did You do that'? Thanks for your precious encouragement. I will keep pushing forward to. The Lord is the best thing, though I have been thinking for awhile 'thing' is a bit insulting, but, limitations of English...

I pray that something in my life will be useful to God. I hope you are well. I am going to try to get more intensive with Greek for a while and see how far I get.

Response #7:

Amen!

I have no doubt that as you keep up your good approach, just exactly what the Lord has for you will eventually become very clear. As in all other things, we often have to "wait on the Lord" longer than we would like or would have expected – but for just the right amount of time to build our faith it always turns out in the end.

Keeping you in my prayers daily.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Professor,

Can we have mail contact about my baptism in the RC Church 27 yrs ago?

Yours,

From the Netherlands

Response #8:

Certainly,

Feel free to write me any time.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Dear Bob,

Ancestors were Huguenots who came from Walloon (Northern France) to LEIDEN in 1630. My parents did not have me baptised as a baby. With a young teenager I began to understand and believe in Jesus and what He wanted to do for us sinners on the cross. It was by leaflets from Plymouth Brethren. With 16 I met a RC monk. With 26 a RC priester baptised me by pouring water on my head (no immersion). In 2003 I was diagnosed Asperger. Recently I wrote the parish priest a letter that I thought I could no longer be a RC

- because of eucharistic adoration
- by transsubstantiation
- by the fact the the RCC shipwrecked a part of my marriage by her moral-theology s.q.n. one is not entitled to receive communion ( I can explain if you want).

Have you thought about the RCC?

* must I be baptised by immersion (my sister in the USA is part of churches of Christ). These people (not my sister) told me that I was still in my sins unless regeneration by/through baptism?
* is Holy Mass idolatry?
* what can you advise me?

One day I feel myself a Catholic. The next moment no longer.

Yours kindly,

Response #9:

I have never been a member of the RCC, but there are plenty of "refugees" who correspond with me through this ministry. I'm not a believer in water-baptism (which was a ritual given to the Jewish people to proclaim the coming of the Messiah). Also, almost to a person, all those with whom I've ever conversed who escaped from that organization have told me that they were not born-again believers while therein, and that further it is not possible in their view to be saved therein because it is a religion of works not grace and also of much false doctrine. The best thing I can point you to is the detailed work by my good friend whose family all grew up RC (see at the link: Series on Mary).

I'm happy to correspond with you as well. Salvation is actually very simple – for us – since Jesus Christ paid the entire price for all of our sins (see the link: Salvation: God's Free Gift).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 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 3:16-18 NKJV

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

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Thank you Bob,

I will start studying Bartek. Did he write about the zenith subject: the eucharist?

https://ichthys.com/bartek-sylwestrzak.htm

Yours,

Response #10:

That's one area I don't believe receives a full treatment yet, but since worship of Mary intrudes on most other areas of faith and practice, you'll find Bartek's work a wonderful starting point for all RC problems.

On communion, I have these postings:

The Meaning of the Communion Ceremony: To Remember Christ

Communion and the Spiritual Death of Christ

The Communion Ceremony outside of the Local Church

Communion and the Blood of Christ

Happy to answer any other questions you may have. If they pertain to the RC practices of the eucharist (which I suspect may be the case), our friend may be willing to guide you on the matter as well.

In Jesus our dear Savior through faith in whom alone we are saved by the grace of God.

Bob L.

Question #11:

A correspondent wrote this to me: "I suffered from suicidal ideation for 15 years. I haven't felt suicidal for 7 months. Becoming an atheist saved my life."

Usually, hearing people having a broken life but being transformed by encountering Jesus Christ is typical. But what if someone's life is transformed by a lie? Should we encourage his lie so that good may come? This is a very confusing story for me.

Response #11:

If my only choices were Roman Catholicism and suicide I would probably opt for the later. If atheism is a third alternative which wards off suicide it only delays things a few short years.

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:32 NKJV

Only the truth has the ability to free us from the lies, sorrows and corruption of this world. If a person is mired in the horrific teachings of the RC church, there may be many ways to escape that morass. But there is only one way to escape the corruption of this world, faith in the truth that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

It is a dangerous canard to equate Roman Catholicism with biblical faith in Christ. These two do not even overlap in the slightest. Blaming God the Father for the excesses of the RC church is unfair and wrongheaded because God has nothing to do with the RC church and the RC church has nothing to do with God. But Satan is very happy to have people make that connection – in fact it's part of his plan.

Blessedly, anyone who is truly interested in being saved will be provided with the truth. Nothing is impossible for God.

But for someone who is not interested in the truth, and not interested in having a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no eternal difference between continuing to be guilt-ridden and in the RC church or to be liberated into something just as bad in the long run.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

The bible says that if someone comes to our house preaching another Gospel that we are not to let them in our homes (2 John 2:11). I'm trying to understand the correct context of that passage. This concerns me a great deal because I have a passion to bring the lost to Christ, even those who are led astray by damnable doctrines such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and 7th Day Adventists. To me, there seems to be only two types of religion: that of human achievement, and true Christianity; which is Salvation by grace through faith. I actually know several Christians who have literally invited Mormons and JW's into their homes to discuss the bible to them, and as a result, they were converted. I don't understand how to reconcile 2 John 2:11 with the need to help bring those who are led captive by false religion to the true Gospel? I have seen from experience many lost opportunities to witness to these types of people because of that very verse. Are they misapplying it? Does this apply to real homes? Or can this also apply to all venues such as bible studies where uninvited guests join true Christians to share their own version of the Gospel? Some might argue that these people have their own agenda and we should not allow for such false teaching to invade the body of Christ, but how do we know if they're simply trying to push their agendas upon us, as opposed to if these such people can be converted to true Christianity? Where do we draw the line? I was told that we are supposed to bear with one another with long-suffering in the hope that someone may be saved (2 Timothy 2:25), but then I am also taught not to cast pearls before swine. What is the correct approach in these situations? And are 7th Day Adventist's a cult?

God Bless,

Response #12:

When it comes to denominations and cults, I'm not sure there is much of a functional difference because none of them is truly seeking Christ, whether the individual person therein is a believer or not.

2nd John 1:10-11 is telling us not to pretend that individuals who pretend to be servants of Christ really are – just because they say so – and therefore not to support them in their efforts because their efforts are not of God. Telling someone to "farewell" is a blessing of sorts, e.g., so we do not want to wish Mormon missionaries "success!" because what they are doing is wrong. Does that mean we cannot try to persuade them to come to Christ? Not at all. That is not what the passage is saying.

I will say that when it comes to dyed-in-the-wool members of these three groups, I am always very surprised when someone claims to have led them to the truth. In my experience, certain individuals in such groups are not convinced and are candidates for grace, but have to be led by the Lord into the right place or to the right person so as to come to the Lord. I would imagine that making a habit of inviting those who are out campaigning for their religions into one's home and attempting to demonstrate to them what the truth really is would be a very low percentage operation (these are the front-line soldiers we are talking about here, and if they had doubts they probably wouldn't be placed or be willing to be placed on the front line).

However, we all have our own individual ministries given to us by the Lord, and it is also true that He may choose to use us for such a purpose in a particular case. So on the one hand we have to be open to the possibility; but on the other hand we have to see things for what they are: the people ringing your doorbell most likely have very hardened hearts or they wouldn't be there in the first place. We all have limited time and energy and resources, and there are things that we know for certain the Lord wants us to do (pray, read our Bible, do Bible study with a good ministry, engage in the ministry He leads us to). So if we are not led by the Spirit to engage in depth and at length with a particular person in this category, we do need to keep those limitations in mind. All other things being equal, it's better than wasting our time on some pointless leisure time activity, but not necessarily better than doing that list of things we know the Lord wants done.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hello Bob,

I care about someone and their eternal fate, but this person is a 7th Day Adventist. He believes that not keeping the command to keep the Sabbath on Saturday is LITERALLY taking the mark of the beast. The reason why I am VERY concerned is that this person is in the later years of his life and does not have too much longer on this earth. It would bring me to tears if he plunged into a Christless hell for all of eternity. I don't know how to minister to him because he is pretty adept with scripture; or taking it out of context. I am trying to convince him that his understanding of the Sabbath day is entirely wrong. How do SDA's get the doctrine that it is equal or the same as taking the mark of the beast? Since they believe that this is a command that MUST be kept at all costs; wouldn't this mean that this is "works based" Salvation? And if so, doesn't that mean that they have fallen from Grace? (Galatians 5:4). I thought that this would imply that he was never saved to begin with, because we are saved by "Grace" through faith. I am also reminded of the passage in Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus condemns those who call Him Lord and boast about their wonderful "works" as if works would have saved them. Can such a person enter the Kingdom of God? Or are they in a state of rebellion which can lead them to a eternal hell? And would SDA be classified as a cult? I know that Walter Martin said that SDA's have altered some of their doctrines and are more closer to true Christianity, but I don't know how so. Walter Martin said that he would not classify SDA's as a cult, is this true? What can I do to lead this person from the error of his ways and open up his blind eyes to the saving grace of the True Gospel?

God Bless your ministry,

Response #13:

The word "cult" in English (of Latin derivation) is not a technical term. And it doesn't matter in any case because God deals with everyone as an individual. You can be a member of a Bible believing, Bible teaching group but you will not go to heaven if you do not believe in Jesus Christ. You can be sucked into a cult as a believer, but you will not go to hell if you die with your faith in Jesus Christ still intact (regardless of what the cult teaches).

The issue is Jesus Christ. Believers are saved. Unbelievers are not saved.

"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 NKJV

Our Lord's words above are pretty clear, it seems to me. Without a detailed interrogation, we cannot know if a person X who is a nominal RC believes in Jesus Christ or not. One would think that a person of legitimate faith would be repulsed by that works-based religion and flee. But it is also true that people do not necessarily believe the teachings of the groups to which they belong.

If a person does not believe that they are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and thus do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, that He is the God-man who died for their sins and that have accepted that Gift by grace through faith alone, then said person is not a believer, and only believers are saved.

It's not a good sign whenever someone is involved in organized religion and some forms of that (like the one you ask about) are clearly worse than others from the standpoint of salvation and spiritual growth. But in terms of being a believer or not, that is the fundamental question, and unless the person tells us – and tells us the truth – only the Lord can know that.

Some links on Sabbath worship:

Sabbath Worship and the Law

Combating Legalism III

Is Sabbath Observance Legitimate for Christians?

Explaining Matthew 5:18

Sabbath observance

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Dr. Luginbill:

I haven't written for a long time, but you writings are never far from my mind, and I do thank you for all that you have worked so diligently to accomplish for those of us who need it.

Being someone who thinks a lot more then the usual church member is as you probably know a lonely task, and for me seems hard to witness about. Recently I've signed up for routine information from a newsletter called the TRUMPET Newsletter putout by: © 2018 Philadelphia Church of God. They talk a lot about things to come and the events that are occurring in the world today, especially regarding the forecasted coming together of the 'European Union into the beast that's forecast in revelations. I presume you must be aware of this organization, and I'd like to know if you think they are at least somewhat correct in their interpretations?

Thanks for your time as ever

Response #14:

From what I understand, this is an offshoot of Armstrong's empire. That means that it probably is "British Israelite" in its slant along with other things (i.e., heretical teachings).

There are a lot of groups out there that use the believer's natural interest and curiosity for the end times to suck them into their particular group and its other false teachings (the JWs are big on this too). One thing I can say for certain – as I often say – is that there is no unfulfilled prophecy for the Church Age, our present time. The Church Age is the mystery age. All biblical prophecy remaining to be fulfilled has to do with the Tribulation and following, and the Tribulation has not yet begun. Once it does, things will proceed at a pace beyond anything previously experienced, so while noting trends today is interesting and may give us some indications of how things might line up when it does begin, we can't assume anything before the time. Groups like this, for example, often want to make a great deal out the year "1948" and numerology connected with it because the secular state of Israel was officially founded in that year – even though of course the modern system of dating only goes back to the sixth century A.D. and is not biblical in any way, and even though the actions of unbelievers in setting up a state which has only a small minority of the world's Jewish population is not the fulfillment of anything.

You'll find more about the founder and the parent group in these links:

End Times Interpretation - Ichthys: Bible Study for Spiritual Growth

Cults and Christianity IX - Ichthys: Bible Study for Spiritual Growth

The Trinity and Messianic Legalism II

Israel and Antichrist in Eschatology

Thanks for all your good words, my friend – I keep you in my prayers.

Yours in Jesus Christ our One and only dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Robert,

Hope you guys are doing well.

I am sure you all have this information on Christmas already.

But here is the document anyway.

Take care and shalom.

Response #15:

Thanks for the new file. I take it the docx has lots of "border art" and that makes it hard for the old Word to open . . . actually Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make older versions that work perfectly well obsolete.

I see this was written by a Pieter de Bruin from South Africa. The more religiously Dutch (and their descendants) tend to be more radical towards anything resembling Roman Catholicism since this was a do or die issue (literal death) in those parts during the Reformation.

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
Romans 14:5 NKJV

I consider each day the same. So I don't consider Christmas as being any different in a spiritual sense from any other day. However, the same thing goes – and on the same principle in Romans 14:5 above – for festival days which are in the Old Testament (the Law having been abrogated by the coming and the sacrifice and the resurrection of the Messiah; e.g., Heb.7:12):

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV

On the other hand, while I "let no one judge me", I am also careful not to judge others who see things differently. The main point in Romans chapter fourteen is not alienating other Christians on the basis of "disputable matters". There are enough important points of doctrine which will affect a Christian's spiritual health that we ought not to make a division point out of the ones that do not. Why? Because if a Christian believes, for example, in the pre-Trib rapture, that person is putting him/herself into grave jeopardy in risking being unprepared for what is coming; but if we make a point of aggravating said person about putting up a Christmas tree, they will (rightly) be less inclined to listen to us on important matters such as the time of the resurrection.

Yes, I know that Mr. Bruin would have us believe that observing Christmas in any form is worshiping the devil. That is incorrect. When individuals such as this go to great lengths to show that the origin of a festival is pagan, they do not seem to grasp that origins have nothing to do necessarily with present realities. No doubt Mr. B's church had a pretty good origin – but that does not excuse where it has gotten to now.

What goes on in the heart is what is important. I doubt there is a single person on earth who feels that in celebrating Christmas he/she is worshiping a pagan idol. Paul made it very clear that eating food which was offered to a pagan idol and which the person KNEW, moreover, was offered to a pagan idol was not even sinful (unless the behavior was flaunted by actually eating it in the idol's precinct as in 1Cor.8:10 and thereby caused weak believers to stumble); how much less celebrating Christmas with no idea of any sort of such a connection. We know that there are no actual "gods", and we certainly do not honor demons. On the analogy, going overboard in putting up Christmas displays may be incorrect for a believer walking closely to Christ, especially if it leads weaker believers who are watching him/her to believe that Christmas is important – it is not. But consider: if we make this a live or die issue, we are saying that it is very important . . . when it actually isn't.

Christmas in the USA is a cultural holiday. It exists. It exists everywhere. It is impossible to avoid – just like Thanksgiving and the 4th of July cannot be avoided and actually even more so. It is a commercial event and a social occasion, and the practice of it is deeply imbued into the traditions of most families here. Is Mr. Bruin really advocating that we refuse to attend a family dinner where all of our loved ones are gathered because in his opinion Nimrod is the originator of the Christmas tree?

Lies only have credence if they are believed. Anyone who is genuinely seeking Jesus Christ, who is growing in the truth and walking more closely with Him daily, doing his/her best to minister to His Church day by day, is not going to be put off by silliness, whether it comes from tradition and traditional practices or is offered up by would-be prophets.

Mr. Bruin claims to be an evangelist. My advice to him would be to find a better way to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, the true Gift of gifts, with those who are lost. Starting by telling them to give up Christmas strikes me as a doomed approach. The gospel, in any case, is not about legalism, not about works, but about God's grace.

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

Here are some links:

Christmas origins

Christmas and idols

Putting Christ in Christmas.

Is it Valid to Celebrate Christmas?

Is celebrating Christmas permissible?

Merry Christmas?

Nimrod and Christmas trees, Tongues, and Healing.

I hope you have a happy holiday season in any case, my friend, however you decide to celebrate it.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Prosperity teachers teach, that when you give to God He will give back to you, and they add, the more you give to their ministry, if one wants to call it a ministry, the more that God will return to you.

They use this Scripture in Luke Chapter 6, out of context I believe:

37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Would you please give me your insight into this scripture.

I don't for a moment believe in the heresy that these so called preachers proclaim.

Thanks for your input.

Until next time, be blessed in Jesus Christ the only Savior of the world

As soon as I closed the previous email, the thought that came to me in the context of this verse is that Jesus is talking about judging others. The more you judge others, the more you will receive judgment back. Your comment would be greatly appreciated.

Your friend

Response #16:

The verse is speaking of judgment, but also of giving ("Give, and it will be given to you"; Lk.6:38).

Note first, however, that we are speaking about a principle here, wherein neither "what" is given nor "what" is given back are specified. In the analogy that follows, our Lord uses flour measured out as the point of comparison for His example.

Secondly, since it is our Lord who is making the comparison, right things done for the right reason have to be in view. That means that "money" (which is the ONLY thing people think about when the idea of "giving" comes up today but probably the LAST thing that is really valuable in terms of true Christian giving), "money", that is, given with an idea of oneself becoming rich (a wrong motive) to a ministry that is a ministry in name only is certainly not going to be honored by God. But if you comfort a brother or sister in their grief, e.g., you may expect to receive that comfort back in full from the Lord when you need it yourself.

Thirdly, even if we do want to apply this verse to material things (such as a blanket given to a person without one), the Lord's analogy tells us NOT that we will receive exponentially higher returns but fully reciprocal returns – so that the idea of giving, say, a thousand dollars and then receiving a windfall of a million is so far from what our Lord is saying as to be a scandal.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Bob,

I hope this finds you well.

I think about my faith everyday and pray and meditate on the Word. I do spend too much time reading bible study and questions on the Bible than sitting down and reading the Bible for myself but I will remedy that and stick to a realistic routine of reading a bit of the Old and New Testament everyday. I will also get around to continuing with my Bible readings channel. I have a proper microphone now and so I will be able to improve on the volume and audibility.

You know that I get tripped up a lot. As a baby Christian, there are many hazards and obstacles in my path to understanding so I will endeavour to stick only to sources I can trust (like your good self) and reading the Bible for myself.

As I have already mentioned. a lot of Christians on the internet (especially Youtube) are now banging the Hebrew roots / Torah observance drum. They also seem to be keen to give Jesus many other names other than Jesus Christ. I don't know why they find the name I use for my sweet Saviour so offensive!

I saw a video by a man who seems to belong to a denomination/ ministry called "Seventh Day Remnant". They seem to be an offshoot from the Seventh Day Adventists. The video was saying the mark of the beast will be Sunday law / Sunday worship. He made some interesting observations even though he doesn't believe that the mark will be literal but he feels that the word "mark" is symbolic rather than actual. I personally think it will be a visible mark as I don't feel something so important would be alluded to symbolically. Sometimes people seem to think that God puts up puzzles and obstacles in people's way to stop people from finding him. Sometimes even I get thrown by this wrong footedness but then I remember that God wants us all to be saved and that God is not a God of confusion.

In a brief interchange about the nature of the mark of the beast, I then casually asked the man what he felt about the Hebrew roots movement that is prevalent in Christianity now. What he replied with actually shocked me! He said "I am no to (sic) going to ignore 61 books of the Bible to join a "movement" that wants to sidetrack the duty of God's people in these last days. "

Maybe I shouldn't have responded to him but because I felt alarmed inside about it, this is what I wrote.

I disagree. When my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ said "It is finished!" I believe him. When the veil tore in two when Jesus breathed his last, I believe that too. For me this is the most important moment of the entire Bible. It is the fulfilment of Holy Scripture. Did you know that Jesus is mentioned in every single book in the Bible? Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that my scarlet sins will be made as white as snow. Nothing I do will be good enough in the eyes of God because of my sin nature. Jesus paid for my sin debt in full at the cross. Jesus said that his yoke is easy and that unless we come to him as a child then we will not enter the kingdom. Being under the law is not an easy yoke and is not the faith of a child, so it goes against what Jesus taught. Even Jesus did work on the Sabbath as Sabbath was made for man, not man made for the Sabbath. The problem with going backwards and being yoked under the law again, I notice that it makes people so obsessive about following the laws that they forget to do two things; they forget to love God and they forget to love their neighbours. Jesus said these were the most important commandments. Notice he didn't say keeping the Sabbath was the most important? It wasn't even the second most important. I've realised that if you love God and your neighbour, it already fulfils the other commandments. That is why Jesus is so perfect and why God's gift in Jesus is so beautiful. I became a born again Christian this year. I am very grateful to experience the miracle of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I realise that the Holy Spirit is what separates Christians from the Jews. It is a hugely important distinction. The Jews do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because they do not believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Only those who truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah will have the Holy Spirit and be marked with God's seal. Jews do not have the Holy Spirit so they have the law instead. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6 If you are yoked to the law then you are saying that Jesus is not the Messiah and that really you are following Judaism and not a Christian. I will pray over this message that all who reads it will be born again and receive God's Seal through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Many are called but few are chosen. I now realise the weight and gravity of this. It is about living in the Spirit not in the body under earthly laws. Please understand that I give you the message not to rebuke you but as a communication shared in love.

I really felt moved to write this back. It might be ignored and it might be trampled underfoot.
What do you think of what I wrote Bob. Do you agree with my reading?

I feel like I am understanding the Truth so much more now. I understand now why the truth sets us free.

God bless you Bob and I will keep you in my prayers.

Every blessing,

Response #17:

Good to hear from you – and thanks so much for the update.

From where I sit, you are fighting a good fight! Be pleased to keep it up. Of course, none of us is perfect when it comes to the execution of the Christian life. There is a lot about that in the new BB 6A for just that reason (link). Applying the truth to life is not an exact science; but the Spirit knows how to do so perfectly of course; our job is to learn how to respond to Him better and also to push ourselves to be willing to do so. You have learned a great deal! So keep on growing, reading your Bible (never too much of that!) and accessing good teaching (Ichthys and Bible Academy and any other truly "good" source you have found). This is the way to continued progress.

I'm also thrilled to hear that you are going to continue with your ministry. Good for you! I will make a point of checking in.

As to what you've written, I think it is marvelous! It shows that you have grown a great deal. I don't think 99% of Christians today (most of whom ARE "babies" here in Laodicea) could come up with anything half as good. What I'm particularly enthused about is the absence of error. The only thing I think I should comment on is the use of the word "Jew" here. I think "non-believing, traditional Jews" would be better, because, after all, there are Jewish folks who are born again; and there has always been a "remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom.11:5).

Keep up the good work, my friend!

Keeping you in my prayers every day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

I was listening to a conference that consisted of 5 or 6 elders, and they were all Pastors of a local church. I was stunned when a question was asked to one of the elders. The question was: "what would you say to those who do not attend a local church, and in what ways are they not walking with God?" It was something to similar to that. These were elders who were under the tutelage of R.C. Sproul. One of the elders actually said that anyone who does not attend a local church is NOT walking with the LORD, and he would question as to whether such a person is even saved at all. I was absolutely STUNNED when I heard that, and that comment made me very upset. This person does NOT know me at all, and for him to paint with such a broad brush and make such a claim is extremely judgmental, and is accusing me of not walking with God, or is NOT SAVED at all. He cited the verse in one of John's epistles about a true Christian loves his brethren, and that those who profess to be Christian and do not attend church is "selfish" and "self-centered" and does not care about others. I almost dropped to the floor when I heard him say that. I can say with ABSOLUTE HONESTY, and let God Himself search my heart and KNOW that what I say is TRUE; that I love my brothers in Christ, and even those who even hate me. I ALWAYS put every single person first before myself. I am not saying this to boast, I am saying this because it is absolutely TRUE, and God can testify to this FACT. For someone to accuse those who don't attend a local church as most likely UNSAVED and are SELFISH is a lie from thte pits of hell. I find it very interesting that most of the people who make such accusations are usually Pastors of a church, like this man who accused those who do not attend church as such.

Something odd happened as I was typing this out and feeling very upset. I cried out to the LORD that I was very upset and that this man was judgmental and should have to answer to God for what he said. I felt a great calm come over me that I could not explain, and all my anger completely went away. I already know that such men would probably say that this supernatural "calm" was probably from Satan. It doesn't matter, because God knows my heart, and God is my judge; and NOT some man who accuses every single person who does not attend a local church as NOT saved or SELFISH. His only reason as to why anyone would NOT attend a local church for the right reason was because they are disabled or do not have the means to get to a local church. Very disturbing, and such people ought to be shamed of themselves.

God Bless,

Response #18:

It is appalling . . . but not terribly surprising. If Christians don't have this guilt, why would they go to a church where they are not being fed? Of course, instilling such guilt is paramount for pastors who think of nothing more than increasing the attendance – because thereby the donations and the work force and the visibility level all rise. And that's what it's all about . . . for most local churches in Laodicea. There is virtually nothing about local churches as they are presently constituted in most denominations today which is mandated by scripture. AND what is mandated by scripture, namely, helping each other grow as the Body should, is mostly left out or very poorly done. I think such individuals will have a lot to answer for in front of their bonfires on the day of days. But I rejoice in you, my friend! There is nothing better than the truth of the Word of God. That is how we grow closer to Jesus Christ and learn what He wants us to do and how to do it. That is how we get better at hearing the Spirit and following His lead. You have chosen the "best part" (Lk.10:41-42), and no legalistic "pastor" is going to take it away from you.

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Well the clay pigeons did take a beating. Our daughter out shot everyone including the boys. It did snow a bit and was cold but it was fun.

Well sorry for the misunderstanding and that you are not retiring (Quite yet)....I'm glad you're still enjoying your job though. Not very many enjoy doing what they do. 55 semesters is a lot of semesters. Good for you!!! After knowing you for sometime I bet you're a fun teacher. I'm sure many people enjoy your classes. Our daughter was looking into whether the university she'll be attending teaches Hebrew. She mentioned out of the blue the other day that she was wanting to learn another language and Hebrew sparked some interest but she found out they don't teach it. She is very excited and looking forward to college. She is done with High School at this point and is looking forward to it being over with.

I got a call over the weekend from a boy I barely knew from subbing down at the High School. He said he thought of me from a conversation we had in class one day and was calling to ask a few questions about the Mormon religion. He said he like to come over to the house and visit with my husband and I. He said yes and he came over within just a few hours.

I wasn't real sure what to think as I couldn't even remember what I ever said to him in class. I wasn't even sure how he knew I had any back ground in Mormonism. I very seldom say much to anyone about God or Jesus and I most definitely don't ever talk about Mormons. At first I was thinking he may be coming in to get ammunition to use against us as he is dating the daughter of the parents that tried to get us back to the Mormon church when we first moved here.

As I sat there in my living room waiting for him to arrive I had a million things going through my head. I then remembered the feeling that day in class when I was speaking to him and I remember this kid was intelligent, book smart and had a great spirit about him. I couldn't remember anything about our conversation that day in class but that it seemed like it was in good. My husband was real excited he was coming over and I was real excited to have him as I'm not real good at explaining things as he is.

He arrived and was at the house for 5 hours. He shocked us on how much he knew about the Bible. He was being pulled into the Mormonism and wasn't liking it. He said he wanted to do his research before he jumped and he had spent hours on the internet the night before researching the religion and asked us what was true about it. We basically reinforced by Bible facts and how the book of Mormon contradicts the Bible. Having known the Bible he understood completely. He went on how he understands the cult behavior within the religion and how so many people within it that are raised have no clue what they are a part of. I sat there listing to my husband and him talk and I was just in shock how young this kid was and what good sense and what a strong spirit he had. He went on to tell us he comes from a broken family and when he stays with his dad he reads his Bible a lot. He said his mom doesn't really know what to believe and his dad is an atheist / not sure believer. He then went on to say how lucky he feels to of had the option to choose and wasn't brain-washed from some religion.

Every time he stepped into the Mormon church building he said he didn't feel right inside and it was like something wasn't pulling his soul out of him (he grabbed his shirt and pulled it out holding his breath). I told him to keep listening to that; when you feel that you don't go to that place. It's a warning. God is good...you want good!

My husband then talked to him about the spiritual side and the fleshly side. He had a great amount of understanding and knowledge and then went on about the different religions and churches and how he said he doesn't feel the need for them as he has his bible. We just couldn't believe where this wonderful kid came from. You just don't ever see this in this world anymore especially as young as he is. We had a wonderful time talking to him and towards the end of our conversation my daughter and her friend got home from a trip. They all sat around the table talking and eating tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches made with homemade bread. We told our guest he was welcome anytime in our home and that we are so laid back that if he even showed up at midnight we would be like come on in!

Our daughter has a class with him at school. She said last night when she got home that he was telling everyone in class the difference in the belief of the Bible and book of Mormon. She said he was talking non-stop and even though no one in the class was Mormon he had all their attention including 2 teachers and the counselor who just happened to be in there. She said she learned a few things she wasn't even aware of. Probably because she knows nothing of the Mormon church since we decided to not go before she was born.

I look back at our conversation with him and realized there was nothing new we said about the truth to him; it was already there and we were there for just support and reinsurance. He also has been friends with many Mormon kids in this area. He mentioned that day he was friends with a boy who just a few months ago I heard was fighting with his parents a lot and that "when he leaves home he was leaving the Mormon religion". I was subbing at the school the day I heard kids talking about it in a group back in the classroom. I can see the strain in on him and how miserable he is and the fight going on in him. I looked at our guest that night when he told me he used to be real good friends with that boy but that he seemed to distance himself from him lately. I told him he needs a good friend like you right now. He is trying to fight the fight.

I do hope they become friends again. I feel in my heart evil pushed them apart so the other boy had no support to go with his heart and help separate himself from the lie he is being told. I see it all the time in that religion. They keep their people confined and so all the support they have is within the cult. It's like a pack of wolves. They feed off each other and as soon as one decides to leave or start moving out of the pack they work really hard on pouncing on that one until it is so down and out it needs to come back in for survival. I'm not sure how else to explain it.

Well I better go for now. I have a plate full of things to get done.

Thanks for all your wonderful friendship.

Response #19:

No worries. Given the state of things, you'll probably find my retirement notice in the obits (lol).

I'm pleased to hear that your daughter is such an excellent shot! They could use her in the USMC I'm sure. Really, I am very happy to hear that she is doing well – an answer to prayer for sure. On Hebrew, I'm not surprised. It's the rare university that teaches any sort of Hebrew (biblical or modern) nowadays. Not enough students are interested to make the class economical (and most universities are all about that these days).

Thanks for the wonderful story about these two young men. I pray for the Lord to work it out for them both. As always, your testimony is powerful! This would be a great story for anyone on the fringes of Mormonism to hear (would it be OK to post it some day, without the names or personal details)?

I'm very happy to have you and your husband and your daughter as friends too! Your courage in the Lord is infectious and it is encouraging.

In Jesus Christ our one and only dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Good Day Robert,

I hope all is well with you.

I'm contacting you because I have some questions that I would like to ask you regarding the earth and the universe from a scriptural perspective. I have been struggling with some ideas and certain beliefs and although I have done research to find these answers on my own, I find that I have more questions than solid answers. It is my hope that you will be able to assist or the very least point me in the right direction.

I do understand that the issues presented below are minor details as to the overall message of scripture and that as believers our focus should always be on Jesus Christ, our walk with Him and our expected hope.

I am struggling with the modern view and vastly accepted structure of earth in relation to the universe as science dictates to us. The heliocentric view of our universe seems to me contradict scripture and minimizes our importance in it as God creation. Its hard for me to believe that our earth itself spins on its axis, while rotating around the sun all the while the sun shoots through outer space (all these at progressively faster speeds) and we not only don't feel it but the stars in the sky over thousands of years has year by year been the same. People have built pyramids based on certain stars that still are in alignment to this day. It seems likely to me that if the above were true then the stars in the sky at least would be different if not by years but definitely by decades.

The Ancient Hebrew view on cosmology is different then what is accepted today. Their geocentric model of earth seems more plausible to me. That the earth itself is flat and immovable encompassed by a circle and set on a foundation of pillars and above us the sun, moon and stars move in their circuits. There are a few scriptures (at least in my view) that support this idea (1 Chron 16:30, 1 Sam 2:8, Isa 40:22, Psa 104:5), and for me what sticks out is Rev 1:7, during his second Advent, how will every eye see Him on a globe?

At times I think I am not looking at scripture right in this regard at the same time the view of our universe and space just doesn't make sense to me how science has dictated it. Knowing that the devil, the present ruler of this world is the father of lies, it makes sense that his lies are systematically spread throughout the world to the degree that it can be viewed as truth.....why not in this case? I can continue on but I don't want to make this drawn out and start moving from point to point with doing justice in expressing them correctly.

As stated before I do understand my focus should be on my walk with Christ at the same time these are things that are in scripture that causes me to think about scientific facts accepted by the world at large. Not to doubt scripture but what is given to me as scientific fact.

I hope I was able to communicate my thoughts clearly. I look forward to hearing from you.

Response #20:

Good to hear from you.

On your question, I'm certainly no scientist, nor am I an astronomer. Also, I have great issues with science the way it is being practiced today in particular, being more political than rational, and being entirely materialistic – which is a "faith decision" to reject what is not seen more than it is an empirical one (here is a link which will lead to more:  "Science and the Bible II").

That said, I don't find any biblical evidence for a "flat earth"; in fact, such biblical descriptions that exist which can be pressed into service for evidence one way or another seem to me to present the earth as a globe (see the link).

As to Revelation 1:7, first, we believe in the miraculous and do not reject it as science does; even if this passage were to be inflexibly understood, therefore, it is only a problem for a God who can't make the miraculous happen. Second, nothing in the passage or the description of events suggests that the Lord could not circle the globe first (or something of the sort, e.g.). Other "support" for a flat earth I find equally dubious. The fact that earth is "firmly established", e.g. (1Chron.16:30), doesn't prove anything of the sort as far as I'm concerned. If we are imagining that it is "established" on something, what would that something be? Whereas we read in Job 26:7 that He "suspends the earth on nothing".

So I'm happy to discuss any and all of the verses you've listed here, but, again, I don't find this supposed Hebrew view of a flat earth myself in scripture.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Greetings professor ...

Its been quite awhile. I hope that the love and kindness of God is enabling you to be in good health. As always I keep on bumping into fellows who are in serious spiritual disaster and are in urgent need of the gospel, just last week I got an invitation from one of my JW neighbors to attend one of the there holy Communion services. To my surprise these fellows don't believe in being born again saying it's not there choice to be born again unless God decides ,the speaker said though we're children of God, were are not heirs with Christ.

Second point is that this speaker said Christ Jesus was an angel before in heaven and an archangel Michael for that matter saying that was his status in heaven.

So I scheduled a discussion with this speaker and we're meeting this week. Could this have been a mistake on my part and call off the whole thing and how best should I prepare because surely this man needs the gospel and keeps on misleading many people ...

Response #21:

The JWs are a "tough nut" – even if taken on individually and unprepared for our questions. Collectively and loaded for bear, I'm not sure turning water into wine would phase them.

We all have our own ministries and we are all called by the Spirit to different things. If you feel this is something you should do, by all means do it. Do remember, however, that it is the Holy Spirit who will be making the case. He does use the truth that you have learned and believed, and He does use prepared people (so this is not a brief against preparation), but relying on Him is always the key.

The one bit of perspective I'll give you is that in my own case I always try to remember to bring everything back to the cross. People who are not saved have rejected some aspect of the person or work of Christ, but who He is – absolute God who deigned to throw His lot in with us in taking on human flesh – and what He has done – paying the total penalty for every single one of our sins by rising in the flames of judgment in the darkness of Calvary's cross – are the point of it all.

It's easy to get side-tracked into theological discussions and arguments about translation. But Jesus is God and a real man. And Jesus died for our sins so that we might not be judged for them but saved through putting our faith in Him. That's the gospel. That's the truth. And no one can resist the Spirit making that truth clear – no one, that is, can resist being led to understand; but, sadly, most in human history have preferred to worship themselves instead of throwing themselves upon the abundant mercies of God the Father in Jesus Christ so as to be saved.

I'll say a prayer for you about this.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello Bob,

After the last email, I have done lots of research and praying and I feel that the Holy Spirit has urged me not to celebrate Christmas any more. I know it's not a salvation issue and I am not doing it as a "good works" or a legalism, it just doesn't feel right anymore for quite a few reasons.
One of the reasons is that I really believe that we are heading into the end times now and that a line is being drawn in the sand and I want to posit myself on the side of Christianity without compromise. When I was a Catholic there was a lot of compromise so I know what that feels like. A sort of a rot sets in that can shipwreck a person's faith if there are too many compromises made to the traditions of men and the world.

The not feeling right about it has weighed on my heart for a few months now and I feel unburdened now that I have made a decision.

I am sending cards and presents this year but it will be the last time. In effect I am responding to the fact that I have left it late to tell people not to send me things. I won't be partaking of the traditions though and I've told my family why and they seemed to have accepted it now after only a minor amount of annoyance, discomfort and hurt.

I have a card for you. You have helped me more than you could ever know.

I've just got off the phone with my mum and we were talking about universalism. It got me thinking.

I constructed a flowchart from my thoughts and I wonder if you could let me know your thoughts whenever you have time (again no rush!) I may explain it really clumsily so I apologise in advance and include the flowchart to makes things simpler!

I was thinking that, to people who are not saved by grace and Jesus' payment in full, the death at the cross would mean two things in their warped thinking:

1) That is wasn't enough
2) That is was of no consequence

People who (perish the thought) think that the cross wasn't enough, start off as believers but then find themselves in a church or influenced by a group that preaches a "grace plus works" Gospel.
This can lead to two positions, labouring under a heavy yoke and legalism. It is the same position as they both deny that salvation is through faith in Jesus alone (grace) but one is passive (heavy yoke) while the other is aggressive (legalism).

As both positions question and start to doubt the sovereignty of Jesus, both groups under the heavy yoke will become lukewarm/ apathetic and cursed under the law respectively. One group's apathy will immediately lead to ship wrecking of faith and apostasy whereas the law reliant others are likely to become non-Messianic Jews instead as they value the law over the Saviour. This would count as apostasy too as the eventual conclusion of a Christian aggressively following the law would be that the Messiah has not yet arrived.

People who (perish the thought) think that the cross was of no consequence are commonly known as unbelievers. Unbelievers can have many different other beliefs or no belief but the overarching one is a materialistic humanism and a being of the flesh. Even if these unbelievers turn to another form of spirituality, that spirituality will still be of the flesh as it will be a works based one.

Nonbelievers are not convinced of sin. They will either think that bad behaviour can be balanced with the good (sinning plus works) or they don't feel the need to do good at all and embrace sin wholeheartedly. The former will feel the pride of their works while the latter will experience a hardening of hearts, which leads to greater sin.

Both ideas that 1) the cross was not enough and 2) the cross was of no consequence leads to hell.

My mum's argued position was that bad people don't go to heaven (she didn't say they would go to hell instead though) and that good people go to heaven. Good people would include any unbeliever who does good works and also Christians.

Phew! This is already getting long, sorry about that. I'm trying to argue a good case against universalism but can't always find the words why good people aren't good enough.

My arguments are from a few different angles.
1) the purpose of Jesus' death
2) that a human's best deeds are filthy rags to God due to man's fallen nature
3) that only God knows every man's heart and mind (that a man can "seem" good on the outside)

What's interesting is that both my mother (a believer) and my friend (a nonbeliever) seem to doubt that sin is such a big deal after all! They recognise "evil" with criminals and the wrongness of breaking the law but are not convinced that the things "good people" do everyday (both big and small) are crimes (sins) against God and deserve punishment.

It's a slippery slope to be on. If you start devaluing sin then denying sin exists is only round the corner.

It's shocking that "who can be saved?" has changed to "Why can't we save ourselves"?

In our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ,

Response #22:

Personally, I believe that every day is the same, an opportunity (for believers) to learn about Christ, walk with Him, and serve Him – and build on their reward as a result. But I also don't believe in "raining on the parade" of those who are into these sorts of things. Doesn't mean I have to be of course. So I don't mind wishing someone a "happy new year" or a "happy 4th of July" or a "merry Christmas", and I don't mind having the day off on new years or having a hot dog on the 4th or a Christmas roast on the 25th of December (if someone wants to make it for me), but like you I understand there is no spiritual benefit in the one or in the other.

Your other email and flow-charts are top notch! Good for you! I always try to make it clear that everything pivots around the cross. Our Lord's sacrifice is bigger than the universe and all of history in its smallest part and to an infinite degree. We can only dimly appreciate its majesty and its magnitude on this side, but everything has to start and end right there: at Calvary's cross where He saved us with His death on our behalf. So this is a wonderful place to put the emphasis. Just the right place, in fact.

I wish you a good time off then with your family and friends, my friend, and good for you for putting what's important in first place in your heart and words and deeds.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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