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Cults and Christianity XV

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

I hope and pray you are doing well on all fronts. I very much enjoyed last week's email posts, and am looking forward to tomorrow's. Just finished the SR series for my second time, and really picked up a lot more insight than #1. So, now I've decided #2 on CT is in order. Thanks for such a "complete" in-depth presentation. It's very helpful to sort out the Plan of God (in the correct way), as we are eagerly waiting for the Return of the King! The sooner the better, that's for sure!

[details omitted: please pray for our brother's health and the health of his wife; also for his son's spiritual recovery]

However, with Him, there is nothing that is impossible, as I can attest, time and time again, in various "impossible" situations throughout my life. I hope to be able to report something better next time. Taking it one day at a time here, waiting for that Better Day, that is coming very soon! All the best to you, Bob!

Your fellow soldier of Christ,

Response #1:

I'll be keeping your and ___'s health in my prayers (put a new request up on the site as well). Please keep me in the loop.

Dealing with troubled family members is never pleasant or easy – but we love them so we persevere. And God is good. He knows our hearts. He never lets us down. Sometimes we have to wait a bit for the deliverance we long for.

I am glad to hear that you are persevering in your spiritual growth, my friend. That is SO important . . . as you well know.

Here in Louisville:

Got a good rest today. We have a huge storm system coming through here so no way I could jog; so I had a bit of extra time getting started this morning. When I got into the uni, my account was flooded with emails from students who wouldn't be able to make it. I taught half a complement in my first class (Greek 102) and was just getting started in my second (Latin 202) when I was interrupted by one of my students with a bright and delighted look on her face – I thought to myself "this one has FINALLY gotten it!" But then she proceeded to announce that the university was closing in ten minutes! Yes, the KY governor declared a state of emergency for the whole state and our provost promptly pulled the plug. So I sent the little dears packing and retreated to my office to send out emails to all and sundry who might not have gotten the word . . . along with take-home quizzes for Monday (since they wouldn't be in to pick them up) and cleared out. Had a nice restful afternoon. The rain was fierce last night and spots of that today, but it's the wind that's been the issue – 60+ mph gusts – and is supposed to continue on most of the night. Sitting here at my desk about an hour ago I heard a huge "bang". Looked out the front door and ANOTHER tree on the easement had toppled over, not blocking the street this time but nearly landing on a neighbor's roof. This is the second tree to come down on our easement on this end of the block in as many weeks (Friday is now "Tree-fall Day"). I was thinking I'd have to fuss at the city – it blocked the street but the people at the school shoved it over onto our side whence it had fallen and it was blocking two or three parking spaces right to the side of my place. But the sewer and water people removed it because they needed to do some work . . . right where the second tree has now fallen. It's grand that the other tree got policed up when it did, because with all the timber that is no doubt down or coming down tonight it'll be hard to get anyone to come get it for a good long time for love or money.

The tree fell away from the lines so we still have power! Trusting that we still will tomorrow and I'll be able to get to the posting.

Thanks for your prayers too, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

After college, when I worked "in the woods", over 50 years ago, we would say "timber!....now you're logging"! But, seriously, we stayed out of it if it got too windy (didn't want any "widow-makers"at such a tender age). I also chose another career when the romance was over (a couple of times). 60 mph would definitely "fall" a bunch of trees without the help of a chainsaw. Any jippo-loggers around there to load em up and take them to the mill?....or wood-cutters to come in for the cord-wood? "No jogging allowed" during such severe weather, that's for sure! We don't want any more widow-makers do we? So, listen to the Guv. on "this one", but "the others"....maybe just use your discretion? We've had our share of foul weather here a time or two, but I'm praying for a "stay" on this kind of predicament, for you as well as us. I've been hibernating here, after losing weight last Summer/Fall and now I'm gaining....it's a vicious cycle. I need to kick myself and get moving again (no excuse, for my too long rest). But then, I have got some of your "good reading" in, so I can't kick myself too hard, can I? Looking forward to some of the "good reading" tomorrow. Have a good one, Bob!

In Jesus,

Response #2:

Re: "after losing weight last Summer/Fall and now I'm gaining" . . . I could have written that line myself – except that I started both parts of the cycle earlier. It was a tough year.

Please say a prayer for my Christian friends Carmen and Doug – they live across town and have been without power since yesterday afternoon. Gust actually got up to about 80 mph; outages in the 200K range last time I checked. Grateful to have juice here!

Time to get with the posting! Hope to have it done and up by sometime tonight. Wouldn't have been possible if that tree had fallen the other way and taken out our line.

Keeping you guys in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Thanks for your encouragement my friend! Will keep you posted on the ministry front.

I just looked up this Asbury thing you mentioned in last week's emails as I didn't know anything about it. It looks like typical Charismatic behaviour to me without any real dedicated study of the Bible. When I first got saved, I immediately bought a Bible and wanted to know how to study it!

Something I wanted to add was that this 'revival' has been going on for days without being interrupted. I know that a legitimate move of the Spirit brings study of the Bible and a love of the Word. However in my research on cults, the enemy has to always counterfeit the original as nothing is new under the sun. A hallmark of cults is that they keep you in services or lectures for very long periods and people lose track of time and forget to eat or sleep or even go to the bathroom. This can bring about an 'altered state' of consciousness in a person to make them more susceptible to what they are being taught.

After watching a video on this event, I was a very alarmed by the following:
1) someone allegedly teaching the Gospel said the baptism of the Spirit was like a 'fire hose'.
2) a person attending said that they 'already had the Holy Spirit but wanted MORE'.
3) someone caught on camera who claimed to be casting out demons actually said they were casting fire down on to the person as they writhed around on the floor.

None of this is any good.

Another personal testimony of the event said they actually felt a huge amount of love in the room which was palpable. Sadly there are far too many accounts of this same 'feeling' happening in many secular movements and cults. There is an excellent resource on this called 'Snapping : America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change'. At the beginning of this book it details the experience of one woman going through the EST method and she said she felt this huge love feeling that overwhelmed her and she spent the weeks after going around shouting 'I've got it! I've got it'. Only a week or two later she had a complete psychotic break and needed immediate attention by a psychiatric crew to stay with her in her house! Really scary stuff!!

Its like you said Bob, how wonderful if it is true but how dreadful and blasphemous if it is false! How important it is to be so very certain and to test the spirits given the very late hour we are in!

Also I heard that one of the teachers at Asbury has been prepping the students for revival due to the 'last one' in the 70's. He has done Vlogs about getting the students to stay up all night without sleep and keeping the chapel doors open all night so it is all very well planned out. Also heard that Todd Bentley and Bill Johnson has been in attendance whilst the college there promotes both women pastors and LGBTQ. None of this is good fruit at all!!

Staying in the Bible and studying every day is becoming more and more of paramount importance in these darkening and deceptive days!

To summarise then, Asbury looks to have all the typical trappings of Charismania but denies itself to be part of the movement whilst being attended by the main exponents of Charismania! If it looks like the Charismatics, if it talks like the Charismatics...

I have watched a bit of the live Asbury revival. From what I saw it is mostly singing and music, sermonising, saw some contemplative prayer and there have been some of the usual Charismatic trappings.

There was an undergraduate saying it was amazing what has happened in her heart over two days. I don't know whether that is suggesting that people are having instant sanctification or instant spiritual maturity. The youth of the people standing up to talk is a bit staggering, obviously God can use anyone but they seem to only talk about themselves and a relationship with the Lord as a feeling. I have hardly seen a Bible being opened at all, either from the front or (just as worryingly) in the pews. In fact there is a distinct lack of Bible presence altogether. It is also very self referential in that they constantly refer to how iconic this Asbury moment is, how far some people flew to be there and how they will all remember that 'they were there at Asbury'. Again, constant references to how everyone feels there.

There are people speaking at length over the same personal account over and over again with repetitive music in the background so some of it seems very hypnotic and I can imagine people going into a trance if they have been there for many hours without sleep or food. No urgent teaching of the Word or saying how close to the end we are. Plenty mention of personal struggles but not about sin or judgement, end times, how bad the world is right now.

In Jesus

Response #3:

These are excellent and very perceptive observations, my friend. When the emotions are in control, it can be persuasive. Politicians who are able to rouse emotional responses are often successful (that's how Hitler came to power, after all). But emotions in control never lead to anything good. We love our emotions, just as we love our children. But just like our children they need to be fed the truth and carefully led into all good things. When they suggest things to us which are clearly wrong or dangerous, of course we shouldn't hand them the keys to the car, so to speak. But that is what these people are doing . . . without any indication being given in any of this that truth, even basic truth, has anything whatsoever to do with it.

I can't improve on your wonderful analysis, my friend! This all will be very good for others to hear. Just like Laodicean Christians are good at making those of us who love, honor and prize the truth – and who are doing something positive about that – feel bad for "not attending church" (where nothing good is going on), so they are also very good at making us feel like we're missing something if we don't jump on the bandwagon at times like this for things like this. But that bandwagon is headed straight to hell (for those who are foolish enough to ride it all the way down). For those who jump off in time, it will merely wreck their life and compromise whatever spirituality they've got and spiritual progress they've made. For those of us who know the truth, this sort of thing is good for us to consider, because it's a bit of an inoculation against just such sorts of deceptions with which the Tribulation will be rife. Antichrist is not going to appear as a repulsive and scary figure. He will no doubt be an excellent emotional, motivational speaker. And anyone who is not solidly grounded in the truth will be sore tempted to "head to Asbury" when they hear him.

Thanks again for this!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Thank you Bob!

I have really benefited from all you have written and what you have written on the ceasing of the sign gifts, the turning away from childhood to maturity has been really important to read given the exposure Asbury is being given.

I will be honest that I did shed a tear over it. I always knew deep down it wasn't real even before I checked it out. There was a little part of me that hoped it was real and a little part of me grieves it isn't. What Christian wouldn't love a revival? Every Christian yearns to be surrounded by others with zeal. Though I have to say, and this is a GOOD thing, I am more of a weathered war horse now. I have already been through a lot and overcome through our Lord. I have already experienced things that appeared to be gold but were really a trick of the false light. I have had my fair share of human driven disappointments, had enough lukewarm Christians and even false Christians say to me 'see, is this not a new thing?'

I have already got this far and have fought to hold on to the true Word of God and I am not about to let a social gathering get the better of me. Yes we all want to be surrounded by huge numbers of people with zeal but zealous for what exactly? We want others to be zealous for Jesus Christ and His Word. For the TRUTH rightly divided and BELIEVED in FAITH and APPLIED to our lives lived through. That is what I want huge swathes of people to be zealous for! Wanting zeal and passion for its own sake will lead people to being part of the GLOBAL WORSHIP of the Antichrist! We will see, like never before, zeal for the Antichrist. For the first time ever, the whole world will come together with zeal to worship a Satanically sired false Christ. We really need to take more than a moment to let that fully sink in.

We are so very close to Tribulation now, is it not more likely that Asbury may be paving the way towards all that is false? The false light? I am at that point now in my walk, been through so much, more loving of the Lord, more determined to grow and pass tests. More focused on becoming mature. Now I have been given ministry and the Lord has flung doors open for me and made the way ahead so very clear... there is so much at stake and not just for me but for all believers and even more so, for the whole world! We as Christians should be showing the world the RIGHT WAY! We should have no part in anything that is not striding forth on the narrow path our Saviour has set us on. They are not even feeding off the milk of the Word at Asbury! I have thought about this long and hard. Why would anyone go there? What would a true revival look like?

Wouldn't it be led by MATURE CHRISTIANS teaching the Word? Prepared people? Why would God start a revival amongst baby Christians or worse still unbelievers with no sign of mature believers in sight?! It doesn't make sense. To me, what makes sense is that in a revival everyone would be progressing forward! Mature believers would be perfecting their faith, Christians who persevered would be entering maturity, baby Christians would be moving off milk to solid food and unbelievers would be being born again! Surely that is what a true revival would progress to once people had repented and turned to the Lord?

I don't see any of this at Asbury. It isn't even pablum at Asbury but something else entirely but what is the most shocking is that to the lukewarm it looks like solid food! This is really bad.
They are saying Asbury is like Nineveh so where is Jonah? Where are the mature prepared believers who are leading Asbury to faith through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit? Are they saying that people are spontaneously coming to faith without the Gospel being given by prepared mature spirit dwelt believers? How can this be? I don't see this happening anywhere in the Bible.

Even in the last days, the revival is started by Moses and Elijah and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. It is unprecedented that a revival did not begin with a prepared believer reading the Word of God to the weak and unbelieving.

They have even compared Asbury to Josiah's reforms but wasn't Josiah's reforms after he found and read the scroll of the law in the temple? So again, reform and revival came through a believer bringing the weak and unbelieving to the written Word of God! No Bibles are being studied in Asbury! No mature believers at Asbury! Why haven't any been invited? More importantly, why hasn't God made use of prepared mature men to teach?

So this alleged move of God is actually unprecedented in the Bible and goes against what we have seen time and time again in Scripture! Though it does have its precedents in the Charismatic movement. Very troubling to see and like you have already said, whatever this revival really is, babies are driving it all forward. Not one mature man of God is there as pastor teacher! The children know, they seem to just know everything spontaneously, without tuition. Completely unprecedented.

So we should take a long hard look at Asbury but for entirely different reasons that are given in the main. It is a sobering look of what the (unbelieving) world thinks a move of God looks like.

It is so late to be rushing in senselessly to risk all just to be surrounded by people. No seriously committed Christian believes they have to fly to Asbury to be near the Holy Spirit! He already lives in us! I am willing to wait for the real and glorious eternal fellowship we will enter into at the Second Advent of our dear Lord and Saviour. Where we will not feel pain or suffer Tribulation or be at risk of cunning deceit.

In Jesus,

Response #4:

Again, very sharp observations. Reminds me of this verse:

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Romans 10:2 NKJV

Paul is talking about his unbelieving countrymen who are enthusiastic for the Law but not in the way God desires. The "knowledge" here is epignosis, that is, not gnosis, mere information/knowledge, but actual truth believed by the person in question. Zeal without a proper object is an unguided missile which is going to do great damage – we just don't know to whom or what until it crashes. And all misplaced zeal eventually crashes. Being supported by the actual Holy Spirit in doing what God has called us to do is wonderful and it can be quite emotional. We can be genuinely zealous, "fervent in the Spirit" (Rom.12:11). But this will only happen in a legitimate and godly way when and if we are doing things God's way. We can't expect to do things our way instead of His way and have godly results. We can't dictate to God. We can't manipulate Him. We are supposed to be offering ourselves to Him for Him to use us (Rom.6:13; 6:19; 6:19; 12:1; 1Cor.6:20; 1Pet.2:5), NOT the other way around. And not being able to tell the difference between genuine service to the Lord empowered by the actual Holy Spirit on the one hand, and mere emotional, self-willed, misplaced zeal on the other is a glaring sign of spiritual immaturity. If acted upon, it will lead to no good. The actual Holy Spirit guides us through the truth using His "still, small voice" – which is more powerful than any violent storm or earthquake even if not visibly so to the human eye (much more in BB 5 at the link):

The word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
1st Kings 19:9b-12 NKJV

Even believers have the capacity to harden their hearts (link). If, after salvation, instead of pursuing the truth as the Spirit guides all new believers to do, said believer instead refuses to advance spiritually, that person will be very vulnerable to all manner of deceptions. We who belong to Jesus Christ who live on the threshold of the end need to be very careful to stay close to Him through the truth, and not go running off after things which the Spirit tells us are false, even if the whole world is beating a path to their door.

"Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many."
Matthew 24:4-5 NIV

"At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved."
Matthew 24:10-13 NIV

"At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time."
Matthew 24:23-25 NKJV

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.
Revelation 13:11-14 NKJV

Just like we'd prefer the "rapture" to be true, wishing it so doesn't make it so. And no doubt we'd all like to reach a high level of spiritual maturity instantly and without effort or testing. But that is not how it works. We can't just jet off on some pilgrimage to some "special place" where "miracles are happening" and short-circuit the godly process the Lord has given us. There are no short-cuts in the plan of God. Our Lord had to become a human being to fulfill it. He had to grow up and be obedient as a child and suffer through opposition of which we have no idea (Heb.12:3). He had to conduct the most difficult ministry ever attempted under the most difficult circumstances imaginable, especially during the final year before the cross. He had to run that gauntlet to get to the cross, enduring things no other human being could ever handle. And then, crucified and abused beyond measure, when the darkness fell, He had to bear and be judged for the sins of the entire world . . . for us to be saved. No short-cuts.

This Christian life is all about Him. When we seek to make it about us – about our experiences and desires and supposed accomplishments "for God" – we are not following in the footsteps of our Master.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1st Corinthians 11:1 NIV

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
1st Peter 2:21 NIV

Thanks again for your good work on this! Posting it soon.

In Jesus,

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

Sorry for the late response. Besides business (crazy, understandably so in these days – there’s economic troubles way deeper than are even publicly expressed, particularly in China where much of the industry manufactures – I hear from Chinese sources) so much is going on here in Nashville and around the world.

I am quite convinced that regardless of the age in which we might be living (whether the 7-churches in Rev prophetically mirror church ages, or not – something I have no problem accepting, btw) – as you cited in your email by way of the declaration to Elijah in his cave, there’s now thousands and thousands that are not bowing to Baal, and in fact there are many who are pressing in and finding new energy and inspiration and holy assignments by the same God who, in presenting the Matt 24 and Dan 12:1 truths of the toughest days coming around the conclusion of this age, there will be those accomplishing the great exploits. Gideon’s story reminds us of how the Lord tends to stack the odds against Himself, only to demonstrate His authority and power. Those who yada their God intimately will do great exploits. So we are pressing in, and happily our church community is pressing in, and we are in fact seeing God move mightily, in salvations, in deliverances, in conviction for sin, in dealing with all the well-intended “Christian” plans of man that are not actually Spirit-led. Those too will prove themselves inadequate, to His glory and the confirmation of His word. And I am seeing Jewish people getting dealt with seriously by God, with some responding. Also (I may have mentioned this last year) a professed Chinese atheist flew to spend 4 days with us in TN. On our way to Nashville airport, in my little Subaru, the power of God came upon him as he asked for forgiveness and he was mightily saved. We’re on a zoom or facetime call at least once a week, in the word and prayer. And he’s attending the church we used to attend in the South Bay of Southern CA, having moved his whole family to America. God is moving.

I am very much of the mind that the Hag 2:6-7 shaking work is:

A. clearly starting up – I compare it to a pot of water on the stove – even with just a few bubbles bubbling it is clearly on its way to full boil; AND

B. a work of great mercy by a God who wisely provides salvation over our comfort on earth. Not willing that any should perish, and with truths like: when I slew them then they sought me, or come let us return to the Lord for He has torn us but He will heal us, or Amos declaring to Israel: you’ve I’ve known of all the people of the earth, therefore I will punish you for your sins – and then showing purpose in the next verse – can two walk together unless they are agreed? – It all points to a very heavy supernatural leaning and squeezing work that the Lord is initiating right now, in these days. We are excited, anticipatory, pressing in to partner with Him.

Last night we had dinner with a 40-something year old (very successful, by world standards) couple who have been through severe fires of life (lost a child, had divorce papers signed for months but then renewed their commitment one to another) – and they are at this time fit for the Lord’s service and looking deeper into Jesus now than ever. Reminds me of Ps 66. We’re surrounded by many stories of God moving mightily.

The night prior we attended the movie Jesus Revolution. We got dramatically and instantaneously saved, delivered from years of darkness (lots of dead friends!) in one night, at one church service very much as depicted in that movie. Our 50th year salvation anniversary is this month. The movie story centers on a hippie revival in Orange County CA. Amazingly accurate and honest movie. Perfect God, imperfect people. He can and does work with us to accomplish perfect things. Redemption.

We are most convinced that what is happening right now in these days is indeed the beginning of a great outpouring during which we will see multitudes come to grips with not only the desperate (and hopeless, without a Savior) conditions on earth, and they will also come to grips with their own hopeless condition. It’s a great time to be alive, my friend.

I believe you know all this. And ONE MORE TIME I will tell you how much I appreciate your pressing into the Lord and His word. You have blessed me and my ministry.

I love that Jesus told us that while the troubling times will have many dealing with failed hearts (due to fear of situations and the hopelessness and desperation that comes with ignorance of God), the ones who do know (yada) Him and are marked by His presence can and should lift up their heads because their redemption draws near. It’s plowshares into swords kind of days. It’s Zech 10: days – time to ask and expect the promised outpouring. I do so hope you might be surrounded by praying, Spirit-filled, Spirit-infused believers who:

A. See and appreciate the work and the revelation the Lord has brought forth through you; AND

B. Are around you to encourage you, pray with and for you - as these days more than all others we’ll attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ as each part does it share.

We pray for you often.

I am humbled by how little even the best and most diligent of us might have in our understanding of the greatness of God, and yet together we, having done all, can and will stand in the evil days. The Isa 60:1-2 divine dichotomy. Dark spreading while the arisen saints walk in light.

Bless you,

Here's a vid of my message at the church we attend – from two Sundays ago if you may want to watch. I was speaking on Passover and the timing of God.


Response #5:

Thanks for taking the time to write me this epistle! And thanks so much for the prayers on my behalf from you and your dear wife.

We do certainly know that there will be a "revival" among the Jewish people just as soon as the Tribulation begins: 144,000 will be chosen to spread the gospel throughout the world under the auspices of Moses and Elijah to every Jewish community on earth and many will respond. What a time to be alive indeed! Of course, there will also be plenty of things to make the Tribulation uncomfortable, so there is that too. And the last 42 months will be really tough – for those who are not graced to suffer martyrdom. But we have the comfort of knowing that all of the judgments scripture prophesies will be directed at the unbeliever, not at us (if we are around for it).

(34) "Watch out for yourselves lest your hearts be burdened down in debauchery and drunkenness and earthly cares, and that day fall upon you suddenly like a trap [snapping shut]. (35) For it will come upon all those who dwell upon the face of the earth. (36) So be alert at all times, praying that you might have the strength to endure all these things which are going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Luke 21:34-36

Until then, doing everything we can reasonably do to become prepared spiritually would be wise. I don't see a lot of that "out there" now myself, to be honest. Yes, there are exceptions (always) as you relate (and as God reminded Elijah), but the vast majority of the church-visible seems to me to be very much self-satisfied with doing things the same old way (whichever "same old way" the individual churches and denominations prefer). Laodicea. The whole Asbury phenomenon is a good example of that. Instead of buckling down to learn something about the truth (hard work to do it right), it's so much easier to do a pilgrimage (as the RCs and Muslims and other are wont to do as well). And so much more "fun"! I've been down that whole "rah, rah, rah" road earlier in my life (ashamed now to say); it never leads to edification or genuine spiritual growth. And I really doubt that it has anything to do with God. I know the Lord wants us to grow, to progress in our walk with Him, and to help others do the same. Those are our basic marching orders. And that kind of growth can only happen through a consistent diet of good spiritual nutrition – through diligent attention to the Word of God. A rarity today.

I do rejoice with you that you and your wife have found a good "niche" and are producing fruit for the Lord – that He is giving you opportunities to produce. He only uses prepared and willing people, after all.

So keep up the great work for Jesus Christ! I've got you on my prayer list too, my friend.

Thanks for all the good words – and for taking the time.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Always a pleasure to converse with you, friend. Much is happening here – lots troublesome and a bit off-putting to the saints (which has divine purpose in His sovereignty) and much is clearly Kingdom-forward kind of things. So we look to Him. This AM we were reading Psalm 89, appreciating again His declaration of His holy-stubborn commitment to His perfect word. What a great relief and assurance for us all!

I am at my desk battling the “business wars” around the world, and also as I prepare notes for a Passover seder framework/grid for some folks at our church. Many who have sort of minimized the Jewish/Israel component of the times in which we are living, are awakening to the reality that covenant-God will accomplish all He’s intended to do in these days – and our choice to align with Him in it all is a good thing.

Bless you, have a great day in Him.

Response #6:

Likewise, my friend.

In terms of "Many . . . have sort of minimized the Jewish/Israel component of the times in which we are living", that is a failing of gentile Christianity which goes back to the beginning. We see the rumblings in Romans where Paul has to herd both groups back from their respective corners. I'm constantly having to correct the ingrained false notion that "the Church began at Pentecost" (link: the Composition of the Church). One thing most Protestant groups have in common is not thinking things through on this important point. Do they imagine, e.g., Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be sitting on the sidelines when "the rest of us" are resurrected? The Tribulation and the unique economy of it in God's plan will perforce straighten out a lot of this sloppy thinking (when Israel regains the leadership role in the Church). Too bad for most that it'll have to wait that long – although it's not that long now.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dr. Luginbill,

It has been some time since I last emailed you with questions. That is intentional because I understand how busy you must be, and have tried to just make notes of my questions and continue studying the Bible and Ichthys studies thinking I would probably come upon the answers as I learn new truths. I have been reading past email posts (recently "Confronting False Groups #4) and in response to question #1 you state "As to 1st John 2:27, what the Spirit teaches us is spelled out in the context: He (the Holy Spirit) teaches us to "abide in Him", that is, to stay faithful to Jesus Christ. We can extrapolate from that that the Spirit reminds us of all principles of truth, but He doesn't teach them to us in the first place; that comes from scripture, fellow Christians, and teachers most especially."

That extrapolation sent me down rabbit trails, thinking "But doesn't Jesus Himself say that the Holy Spirit does teach us?". For example: John 14:26 - But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Is Jesus saying that the Holy Spirit doesn't actually teach us truths, but He shows us the full meaning of the truths we learn and believe from God's Word and reminds us to apply those truths to our everyday lives? And John explains in his letter that one of those truths is that we must abide in (remain faithful to) Christ?

1 John 2:27 - But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you (to abide in Christ). But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie - just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Could I paraphrase this verse as: "But the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that you received from Christ lives within you and He reminds you of the truths you have believed, helping you to apply those truths, so you don't need anyone to teach you that you must stay faithful to Christ - the Spirit does that using the truths you have believed. The Spirit gives you insight to understand and apply the truths you believe, and what He teaches you is truth, not lies. So just as the Spirit taught you, stay faithful to Christ."?

1 John 2:20 - But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

Does the phrase "and you know all things" mean "you already know all these things He is reminding you of"? Is John addressing believers here telling them that they are dwelling in God and God in them, and that they should know this because of the work of the Spirit who dwells in them?

I am certain that what is not meant in these passages is that new truth (beyond what is given us in the Bible) is revealed to the believer's mind by the Holy Spirit, for all truth that is brought to the mind of believers is to be found in the Word of God. It also cannot mean that we need no one to teach us, else why would teacher be one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Possibly the statement here made by John implies that the minds of believers are enlightened by the Holy Spirit so that they have a new perception of the truth and that they can see it in a light in which they did not before.

Do I understand this correctly?

Tangential question - What exactly is the anointing we received from Him? Is it (as I suspect) the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we received from Christ? Does it mean that believers have received the Holy Spirit from Christ and the Spirit lives (abides, remains) in us? Is that the anointing we have received?

Response #7:

Good to hear from you, my friend. Please don't ever feel reluctant to write if you have questions.

When you say, "I am certain that what is not meant in these passages is that new truth (beyond what is given us in the Bible) is revealed to the believer's mind by the Holy Spirit, for all truth that is brought to the mind of believers is to be found in the Word of God. It also cannot mean that we need no one to teach us, else why would teacher be one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?", that is exactly correct.

We know that in the case of the apostles, to whom the Lord was speaking, they did receive revelation and audible words directly from the Spirit (e.g., Acts 10:13; Acts 10:19-20). But that is not the case for any of us. All special revelation of this sort ended when the canon was completed nearly 2,000 years ago.

Otherwise, it's a question of what we mean by "teach", and what scripture does not mean by that word in the contexts you first asked about is precisely as you outline it in the quote above. But there are those out there, particularly in charismatic circles, who claim that they do have special revelation from the Spirit, or else are being taught what passages mean by the Spirit without recourse to prepared and gifted pastor-teachers who do the hard work of digging it out and teaching it. The Spirit does enlighten all believers in many ways, but He does NOT take the place of pastor-teachers, and even for them He does not use the unprepared nor make it so that they don't have to labor to "study to show themselves approved" as good workmen, working hard in the Word in order to feed the sheep as Jesus commanded. After all, the gift of pastor-teacher comes from the Holy Spirit and from no one else (1Cor.12:1-11). People who want to claim it's unnecessary because they are being "directly taught" are not only wrong – they are insulting the Spirit in His assigning of roles to us through the gifts He gives us.

And, yes, the anointing we have is the baptism of the Spirit. That baptism has two aspects, the "with" aspect (anointing = indwelling) and the "by" aspect (placing us into union with Christ). This is all explained at the link: in BB 5: "Baptized "with" the Spirit (as opposed to "by" the Spirit)".

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

How do I get the Spirit to help me? it seems so complicated...

My last email was just asking how to get the Spirit to help me, but I think I've figured it out, at least part of it. It's the same as losing weight when you're obese. Eat less, exercise more. I need to "eat less" (take in less worldly influence) and "exercise more" (make prayer, Bible and Ichthys study my priority, with the intent of learning God's Will and following that). Is there anything I'm missing other than that? if so please tell me.

Response #8:

You're exactly right! When we start doing what the Lord wants, we do find that we are being helped. And as we start getting better at looking for the Spirit's little "hints" to us, well, at least we have no good excuse when and if we do, say, think things we know from learning the truth – and are reminded of by these hints – are not in our best spiritual interest.

There is a lot about all this in BB 5 and BB 6A (at the links).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

I am quite confident as well, that tongues do exist today--though I do not necessarily speak in tongues and grew up taught against them and personally was repulsed by them. However, the phenomenon we observe today must have existed in Paul's day as well and he addressed it in I Cor. 14.

I knew of two people who told me they spoke in tongues knowing nothing of the gift at all when they were dramatically born again. They had no idea what came over them when the glossalia came out of them. It was definitely not of the devil, as they went on to serve Jesus. One was a pastor when I met him and he told me about his born again experience.

When I heard Thieme speak on this I could tell he was repulsed by tongues personally and he was prejudiced again them because I saw the same spirit in myself. A military man cannot put up with gibberish from babies, nor should God.

"And the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught the things that are."

Whatever gifting from God one has, the tendency is to view God only from that perspective or to think everyone should have that gift or draw closer to God through it. For example, those who speak in tongues think everyone should speak in tongues, those who are evangelists, think everyone and every message should be about being born again--especially if they are prodigal son types and not elder brothers.

Response #9:

There is no gift of tongues being given at present. That is a patent fact. What the charismatics do is NOT speaking in (biblical) tongues. The gift was an ability to speak an actual human language having never studied it or been exposed to it before. That is clear enough from Acts chapter two. What passes for "tongues" today has nothing to do with God (see the link which will lead to other: "The Gift of Tongues part 3"). I guarantee you that you have never seen or heard anyone speak in BIBLICAL tongues. I have seen and heard plenty of babbling, but never someone speaking, e.g., French, who'd never been exposed to it before. Given that we live in the age of cell-phone video documentation, and given that almost every person in the charismatic movement claims to be able to do this, it's passing strange that there's never been a proven, documented case. You can't do what the Spirit has not actually empowered you to do, no matter how much you may want to.

1) For 1st Corinthians 14:2 and the common mistranslation and misunderstanding of this verse, see the link.

2) As seen from Acts 2:1ff., e.g., a tongue is a language (that is what the word means in Greek and can mean in English as well); the languages in Acts are real human languages, not "unknown" ones. The purpose of the gift, as seen in this passage, is "for a sign" that demonstrates to the hearer that the speaker is indeed being empowered by God. This could not be the case if the language were not real or incapable of being understood. We know from 1st Corinthians 12:30 that even in the apostolic era not everyone spoke in tongues; we know from 1st Corinthians 13:8 that tongues were prophesied to cease (which they have); and we know from the entirety of 1st Corinthians chapter fourteen that tongues were being abused by the church in Corinth, and that the solution was to disallow their use unless there was an interpreter: someone who had the gift of interpretation or else knew the language spoken. None of this is practiced by "tongues groups" today. Instead, they babble incoherent sounds. That is not the gift of tongues. Beyond all argument, no one can actually speak in tongues, biblical tongues, without being gifted and empowered by the Spirit to do so. But if that is not what is going on (and it is not), then such activity is a great affront to the Spirit, saying or implying He's doing something He is not doing. Just because people want to do it (I get that), and just because they convince themselves they are doing it, doesn't make it so. If it were true, that would be easy to demonstrate (e.g., someone who's never even been to Asia being able to speak Korean); I've never seen that.

Question #10:

Well, I'm sorry I do not see I Cor. 14:2 as you do in the link you posted for me. I looked at it in the Greek and in other translations. My understanding of what you are saying the verse means is basically that the speaker is speaking a known language that no one listening understands and thus it is a mystery to him and the listeners, but not God.

However, you have to add all these brackets of explanation as you translate the verse rather than take it for what it says. To me you are adding your personal theology into the verse by doing this.
In verse 4 you admit that there is an "emotional edification of personal experience" or "emotional encouragement" by speaking in a tongue. Notice it is singular.

Since speaking ecstatic utterances is found in false religions, do you not think Paul addresses this phenomenon in I Cor. 14, perhaps subtly? Is it possible that this natural human experience when combined with the Holy Spirit infilling is manifested in certain individuals--especially those who have gone through tramatic consequences of their sins and then find the Lord--or even Christians going through torture or emotional trauma?

Response #10:

I am sorry that you are not willing to accept the truth for what it is, but I have to say that I am not beholding to your feelings and I am not looking to you for affirmation of the truth taught at this ministry. If you want to reject the truth, that is your loss. I told you that you will never get anywhere by being the referee on all the Bible has to say. It's very clear in these emails that you have a lot of knowledge but don't get how it fits together and that is a clear indication of not being sure about much of anything: and only what is true AND believed is used by the Spirit. Practicing false tongues is an affront to God. It's something any prudent Christian should avoid.

Question #11:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Just wanted to clarify something in my own mind.

I was led to believe that only when a person in baptized with the Holy Spirit, the evidence of that is speaking in tongues.

But that doctrine is totally misconstrued.

I believe that your teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when a person is truly Born Again. I have believed that for quite some time.

The clarification I need, or should I say the verification I need from you is as follows:

1. Specifically in John 20:22, the apostles did receive the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them, but not the power, which I think are the gifts that is noted in 1 Corinthians 12.

2. Am I correct? in interpreting the word "Power" which Jesus says in Acts 1:8?

I realize that perhaps the word "power: means more than just the gifts.

That is my question.

You are the only teacher that has ever correctly explained the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" biblically correct.

The verse in John 20:22 always puzzled me, but I believe that I now have a much better understanding because of your teaching.

Thanks so much for what God has taught me using you as His servant.

May the LORD bless you abundantly.

Your friend,

Response #11:

You are correct: while the Spirit did manifest His presence dramatically in the early days of the Church Age, on the day of Pentecost and at other times thereafter (e.g., Acts 10:44-46), this has never happened again (legitimately) since the very early days of the apostolic period.

John 20:22 was a temporary enablement (along the lines of 1Chron.12:18; cf. Ps.51:11), to help the disciples through the interim period until the Spirit would come to indwell believers permanently. That did not / could not happen until Christ ascended and was glorified (Jn.7:39). Here is what I write about that passage in BB 5 (link):

The Disciples:

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Luke 11:13 NKJV

(21) So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (22) And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
John 20:21-22 NKJV

The first passage above indicates that the special dispensations of the Spirit recorded in the Old Testament were not (or at least need not have been) the only ones that took place, inasmuch as the Father was more than willing to "give the Holy Spirit to those who ask[-ed] Him" (Lk.11:13). Given the critical importance for the eleven to stay spiritually safe before the day of Pentecost, in the second passage above we see our Lord providing them with an "unasked for" special unction of the Spirit (of precisely the same sort we find throughout the Old Testament, the difference here consisting in the fact that the Lord Jesus Himself is seen to be providing it directly). This "breathing on of the Spirit" was a temporary unction which would soon be replaced by the even better permanent indwelling of the Spirit (Lk.24:49; Acts 1:4-8). It is for this very reason that our Lord gave very specific instructions to the disciples to the effect that the evangelizing of the nations was not to begin until the advent of the Holy Spirit and their reception of His permanent presence (Lk.24:49). From that point forward the disciples/apostles possessed the very same indwelling of the Spirit's presence we believers enjoy today. For the bulk of their time with our Lord, however, the ministry of the Spirit to the twelve was the same as it had been to all other believers in Old Testament times: "with you", rather than "in you" as we are blessed to experience His ministry today (Jn.14:16-17).

The Spirit was always "with" believers, and His influence waned or waxed according to their responsiveness (just as is true with us), but having the Spirit in us permanently – as is the case now for all born again / born from above believers (cf. Rom.8:9), is a massive benefit, so massive, in fact, that as you discern, the Lord can say at Acts 1:8, that they will "receive power" when they are baptized permanently with the Spirit. That power, in that context, is for carrying out the mandates just given. We all have gifts, we all have the Spirit, but not all fulfill the mandates that go with those wonderful benefits.

As to spiritual gifts per se, we all have them, all believers, that is (1Cor.12:1-11), and they pertain to the ministries that the Lord has in mind for us, with all gifts and ministries being empowered by the Spirit for all who engage in the proper way for the edification of the Body of Christ through understanding, witnessing to and teaching the Word of God. More about that at the link.

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dear Brother Bob, thanks for sharing your insight.

In your previous e-mail, you had mentioned Ephesians 4, there has been a question I have been wrestling with for a long time.

My older brother who invited me to youth group when I was young, has been a spiritual mentor to me most of my life. He went to UCLA for undergrad, and was a part of Grace Community Church for many years. He later finished his master's of divinity at master's seminary.

My brother, much like MacArthur does not believe in the sign gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, healing, miracles, and tongues. MacArthur has highly criticized the Charismatic church.

I personally do not know anyone who has the gift of miracles, but I have heard people speak in tongues in church. I am no expert in linguistics, but it does sound like an intelligible language. Brother Bob, you have studied the Scriptures extensively, and have been in ministry a long time. Why does it appear that some people, (Pentecostals) can speak in tongues, while most Christians have not been able to speak in tongues?

I ask this question not to argue or to debate, but rather in the posture of humility and as a learner.

Love in Christ,

Response #12:

As to "speaking in tongues", that gift has not been given since the first century. I don't usually agree with MacArthur but he is right about this one. When you say "I have heard people speak in tongues in church", what you have heard is not the gift of tongues given by the Spirit. That gift imparted the ability to speak an actual human language and for the purpose of evangelizing the different groups around the Mediterranean world before the Church Age had established missions able to do so. Paul is very explicit in 1st Corinthians chapter 14 that there must be NO speaking in tongues unless someone with the gift of interpretation is present to translate what the Spirit is saying through the individual speaking in tongues. That is the secondary function of the gift in any case. I know of no documented case where someone doing this was speaking an actual human language they had not previously learned. But this is exactly the sort of deception Satan wants to foster in the church visible on the eve of the revelation of antichrist.

Here are a few links where this is discussed in more detail

The Gift of Tongues (in BB 5)

The Gift of Tongues, part I

The Gift of Tongues, part II

The Gift of Tongues, part III

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

You wrote:

(vii) Hindrance to Prayer in the Spirit:

We are told to pray "in the Spirit" (Eph.6:18), and scripture makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit is the one who empowers our prayers (Rom.8:26-27).

As you well know, the Pentecostal denominations and the Charismatics, have a different view of the above, in that they believe that Praying "in the Spirit" is praying in tongues, because then you are praying "in the Spirit".

Can you give me your perspective on this? I know that you are not a proponent of tongues, etc. but can you provide a bit more detail on this subject? Please.

I am by no means refuting what you have already written, I just need it for the purpose of gaining my own knowledge of this particular subject.

Thanks as always, you are always extremely helpful.

Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #13:

"In the Spirit" means "in the Spirit's power". Here's an example of the phrase where there is no question of tongues not being involved:

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.
Ezekiel 37:1 NKJV

In the case above, the "in the Spirit" was not voluntary, so to speak, but for believers today it is in part: we need to be in fellowship with the Lord when we pray, not under the influence of the sin nature. After all, it's always "one or the other" we are told (Gal.5:16-18; cf. 1Cor.12:3).

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25 NKJV

Nothing about tongues can be interpolated into the verse above either. So this phrase has to do with the Spirit's power, the Spirit's influence and our responsiveness to Him. That is the case wherever it is used. I don't know of a single place where it says or means anything to do with tongues. Your examples are excellent, on the other hand.

It is typical of charismatics to do what they want, believe what they want, and abuse scripture to "prove" that what they want to do and believe is "true" – with very little regard for what scripture actually says on those rare occasions when they feel the need to superficially intersect with it.

Here's a link on this wherein many of these and other passages are touched upon: In BB 5: Pneumatology, section II.B.3.b, "The Empowerment of the Believer".

Feel free to write me back about this.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:


I'm back off my hols and have inherited a new phone but it is really hard to figure out. This may be my third draft to you and I lost the others. The one I spent ages on will instead become an essay that I need to work on to start my ministry.

I am currently doing both research and outreach on Reddit, specifically on people losing people to the Qanon cult. It's a very fast growing cult and endorsed by Trump and sucking many lukewarm believers in. It has many ties with New Age, Conspiracy Theory, Gnosticism, NAR, Prosperity Gospel, Charismatics, Dominionism (7 mountain theology) etc. Even Calvinists and Reformed Theology is getting tied in! In fact it is a magnet for all of the false teaching out there!
I am cutting my teeth so to speak as I have to start somewhere.

Speaking of cults, I have received some very distressing news. __'s son has declared himself to be transgender. My family are in bits over this and have no clue how to proceed. The medical establishment say here that affirming the dysphoria is the only way, anything else is transphobic and a denial of human rights. Some good news is that he is on a waiting list and it will take a few years to be seen to start the process. Prayers for him and his family will be greatly appreciated my friend.

I was looking on your site...have you written about this Hyper Grace movement? There are a lot of people now banging on that if you do anything after you're saved, such as avoid sin, pursue sanctification, spiritual growth etc then it is a "works gospel"?! One person claims that people like us believe in a works gospel through the back door in that we have to work to keep our faith and salvation. I presume this means they believe that they can carry on sinning with impunity after salvation and don't have to do anything at all! Have you come across this?

I find it troublesome in that I often stumbled over the idea of "works" myself as you know.

I'm hopefully going to be fellowshipping with some new Christian friends in a day or two so am really looking forward to that.

It's good to be back on the job! I loved my break and was really refreshed by it but I missed my study and the closeness to the Lord it brings. Even the best of the best life can bring is empty and meaningless without Jesus Christ. Amen!

What is the news from Louisville? How are you and yours faring at your side of the pond?

Still keeping you, yours, your ministry and your neice and nephew in my prayers.

I try to pray for everyone on your ministry list every Sunday. The rest of the week I am praying for the growing list of people in my life that the Lord has given to me to pray for.

It's really great to be writing to you again! I've really missed you my friend!

In Him,

Response #14:

Good to hear that you're back. You sound "refreshed", so good for you that you were able to get away for a spell. Glad to know that you're making some solid Christian contacts there.

Also good to hear that you are re-engaging in the ministry (sorry to hear about your relative).

As to "hyper-grace", I've never heard the term before; it's apparently an attempt to suggest that we believers need nothing but grace, no need, e.g., for serious effort in spiritual growth.  Evangelicals have long been in a trend towards denigrating any serious Bible study or attempt to draw closer to Jesus Christ through the truth – no doubt because this is a lot more work and "less fun" than just singing hymns, getting emotional, and button-holing people who don't want the hassle to "witness" to them. The Lord will judge us all on that great day, and He will decide what was done according to His will and what was not. He told us to love and follow the truth. What we're supposed to be doing seems clear to me.

"If you love Me, do what I tell you to do."
John 14:15

Thanks for checking in – it's great to hear from you too and welcome home!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:


I did see the Hebrews addition (link), thank you; I am hoping to finish my "Ichthys" study plan for the year soon.

I believe I understand the explanation of James 4:17 shared, but then the Romans passage gets into the territory that's really causing me some grief.

As you likely recall, since last year (?) at varying times I find myself increasingly convicted about things that seem "off". Whether it's OCD, immaturity, both, or something else entirely, I'm not sure. I believe a lot of theological confusion was received from past teaching (an example would be an understood encouragement to keep the OT feasts), and I wonder if that combined with my faulty flesh and some life stressors has been a recipe for disaster.

I end up having beliefs that I would perceive as being “immature” or something to “work past”, and I’ve had such conflicting information on how to approach it. On the one hand, it seems I’m supposed to just “follow my conscience” until I grow; however, I see myself doing things that are just wonky. One example, I have times I’m so concerned I’ll “drink blood” and displease or disobey the Lord, I’ll wear plastic gloves in the kitchen to cover hangnails or small cuts (that are already covered by bandages).

The dumbfounding part of it all is that I’m not actually crazy, and I have times when I’m really peaceful and experience liberty; that’s the real kicker, because I see how ridiculous it all is in those times.

Jesus Christ is the only way of being saved, of being able to understand and apply the Truth, and yet it's as though my flesh is wanting me to go full-out legalistic. It’s such a constant battle of assessing if I’m wrongly feeding a beast of self-righteousness or if I ought to rightly wait until I more clearly understand. I’ve been trying to seek out Truth, but also not just do so "intellectually" without the Holy Spirit’s guidance since that's a fool’s errand [ I’ve finally learned ].

Some things less pressing may not get tackled yet (makeup doesn't really need to be worn or not), whereas others (treatment for a progressive disease, not volunteering comments to total strangers) do.

I believe by the grace of the Lord, I've been trying to live rightly using prayer, the Bible, and studying. I've been trying to not follow my feelings, my legalistic flesh, fear. However, that course can be deterred when I question if I ought to just “wait” to grow and then those issues resolve.

It’d be simple enough if I lived in a vacuum, but burdening others or sullying a witness is a consideration also.

If you could direct me to resources to better understand the following, it may help, Lord willing:

Are we tasked to correct other believers or “fix” the effects of their choices (which we wouldn’t have made ourselves)? I’m coming out of a culture that was pretty big on “calling out” others, and it doesn’t seem particularly Biblical to me unless we’re given the opportunity, it’s quite serious, or they’re under our authority/leadership. That also stipulates that the person “calling out” has removed their own eye-plank.

Do we need to “confess” wrongs to others? I’ve understood loosely from your site that we don’t. Our last church was really into this, and I don’t think it’s Biblical or healthy in excess. The amount of time one could spend on clarifying things spoken, correcting an exaggeration after reflection, and the like is pretty expansive. I’ve tried and ironically I later see an issue with the correction. It makes sense if one was intentionally deceptive, or their internal attitude boiled over to be curt. Otherwise, I have noted this to be a weird self-satisfying ritual, and have worked to curb it.

For context, I've read seemingly pertinent topics from your site around legalism, Messianic Legalistic movement, confession, eating/drinking blood, etc (including emails), and am benefiting from a second listen to Bible Basics from Pastor Omo [link]. I'm partway through Ichthys Bible Basics 6A currently, and am pacing to do the OT once and NT twice this year.

Partially I suspect due to health matters, it seems I need a lot of repetition, since I seem to forget realizations/understandings I have.

As for health prayers, as long as I can spiritually do what's pleasing God, find and believe the Truth of how to live, that would be wonderful! Aside from loving the Lord, His Truth and others, I don’t think the rest matters.

Thank you kindly!

Response #15:

It's great to see your progress, my friend!

Please have no worries about repetition. These studies are meant to be re-read. I re-read them myself . . . all the time. No one could possibly get all there is to get out of them in a single run through. For one thing, fully understanding point A often requires first understanding point B and sometimes is also illuminated by point C – but what if you get to A before B and C? And there is also the issue of not being personally ready to fully "get" and accept things all at once, not to mention that we are not always approaching our Bible study with the same level of attention and focus.

In terms of "conscience", it's important to point out that the Holy Spirit always works through one's conscience in a reasonable way. If a person is consumed with irrational guilt, that is not the Spirit. People make that mistake all the time. Only with growth do we get good at distinguishing with absolute clarity what is the Spirit's "still, small voice" and what is not (this is all covered in BB 5: Pneumatology at the link; you can also find info about it in various email responses; here's one link there).; see also in BB 3B under "conscience" at the link).

On your questions, first, I would be very wary about busy-body behavior (1Pet.4:15). Your parallel of the mote vs. the log in one's own eye is right on the money. It's almost always a mistake for a Christian to fail to heed the age old good advice to "mind one's own business":

He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own
Is like one who takes a dog by the ears.
Proverbs 26:17 NKJV

Even if we are right and our advice is potentially helpful, that doesn't mean the person or persons who receive it are going to receive it in the correct way (Matt.7:6). And because life and life situations are complicated – and we doubtless know a lot less than we may imagine about the person we are intending to intervene with and help and about his/her actual situation, the chances of being wrong, a little or a lot, are very great. Helping people who genuinely need to be helped and who want to be helped where and when we can offer reasonable help is good and blessed; everything else is problematic, sometimes in the extreme.

"Do we need to “confess” wrongs to others?" Absolutely not! That is Roman Catholic and based upon a complete misunderstanding of James 5:16 (here is a link to where that is explained in BB 3B). We are responsible to our Lord. So we confess to the Lord (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5). Jesus Christ is our High Priest and our Advocate. We confess to Him and the Father, not human beings.

"As long as I can spiritually do what's pleasing God . . I don’t think the rest matters." Amen!!

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16:


How are you doing, sir? Thank you for those additional details. I think I'm tracking, but I wanted to clarify something. It seems like when we believe truth to be XYZ, even if we're scared, emotions are raging or prior experience or culture tells us otherwise, we need to have faith in the Word of God and act on that.

I recall in a writing you provided that "believing" isn't necessarily an organic or emotive matter but a choice. We choose to act even if it takes a while for comfort or emotions to follow- is that an accurate summary?

Have a blessed day in the Lord, Prof. Bob!

Response #16:

That is it exactly!

There's more about that in BB 4B under "free will faith" (at the link).

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Prof. Bob!

How are you and yours doing? While I'm penning this __ is also "joining" me in a sense of bearing the load and reading my draft. It's not quite the same as meeting in person but it's what we've got!

I've been going through quite a lot of Ichthys content as well as Mr. Omo's Bible Basics series [link], but I'm finding myself in a tremendous struggle.

I don't want to be burdensome with details, so will try to summarize as best as I can from limited human viewpoint.

This last year, some things turned upside down. We left our church after it was clear to us they were going down a harmful track, and the other varying Bible studies (multiple a week for me) or touch points either phased out or paused. I had many friendships transition, and my health has continued to sharply decline and I'm not confident on what to do there.

Amidst this/since then, I started to have some assumptions change (which I'd shared before, I believe). I learned how my conscience is not to be directly equated with the Holy Spirit, and later that moments of pronounced thoughts in my head are also not necessarily God directly talking to me about small everyday matters (as obvious as this seems now).

I learned this, in part, as I saw how "convictions" or promptings I was starting to have ranged from a bit extreme to wacky. It was like I "woke up one day" from genuinely seeking the Lord to realize I was a crazy legalist.

That season was very scary - fearful of "going against my conscience", but also realizing how fear and emotional whims had been given complete leeway and needed to be brought it under the truth of the Bible.

So, I've been working tooth and nail to fight past the fear that every emotional whim is my "conscience" and orient myself on the facts of the Word of God and not my feelings.

Similarly in regards to "combating legalism" in my life, I don't want to live in the "what ifs" (e.g. what if this beef has any blood left over and I'm dishonoring God), but instead choose to apply common sense and move forward in trusting Jesus' work and provision. It's been a total paradigm shift to not fixate on the action list but to focus on the heart.

Along the way, I've been trying to take in teaching from your and Mr. Omo's ministry [link], believe the truth, and orient myself to it and take control of thinking and emotions (or at least try albeit unsuccessfully at times).

You'd think I'd feel victorious in this, but I'm at the weakest and seemingly most vulnerable place I've ever been in my faith. Especially in that I don't "feel" the presence of the Lord as much and have had a seemingly dry season of pleading with the Lord for direction and receiving very little insight other than what I've found in teaching.

This is compounded by a fear the Lord has left me or I'm under discipline despite trying so earnestly to do the right thing. I've had to reject just awful dishonoring thoughts lately, and that's causes me such distress to witness what can arise within me; it's caused me to fear I'm a heathen or something. I've been fighting discouragement, anger or resentment that I feel abandoned (thankfully I'm towards the end of reading the Peter series)

All this to say, I know we can lose faith, and I'm so concerned I've either already done something wrong and ended in a rabbit hole I cannot come out from or that I will do so.

I want to discipline my thoughts, emotions and actions; I have wanted so earnestly to glorify the Lord despite consequence or emotional validation, but I'm so discouraged that I don't yet understand how to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and I'm afraid my lack of knowing or struggle in maintaining sound faith, despite my efforts, will be the ruin of me. Do you have any scriptural recommendations on this front?

All this to say, could you please pray for me? If the circumstances of life remain, that is fine!! I just want to be able to become secure in my faith and freed from legalism and fear.

Thank you for your ministry. We appreciate it very much.

Response #17:

Sorry to hear that you are troubled in this way. I have been praying for you and your family and will add this concern.

It's not uncommon for believers to complain about being "spiritually dry". At such times, it is good to remember that the solution for such dryness is the water of the Word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. If we are letting the truth imbue us through and through, all such dryness will be short-lived.

No doubt this is a test. When our emotions have been "out of whack" for a good long time, it's no mystery that getting them back on an even keel may not be a straight-line affair. Emotions tend to gyrate between a hyper state and a dry state in all of us anyway. Mature believers learn to ignore them . . . when we can rationally tell that we are doing the "right things". We learn from experience that if we just persevere in doing what we know we should be doing, that eventually the emotions will come along – unless we make the mistake of running after them and letting them start giving the orders, so to speak.

We have to have faith that the truth is all sufficient; that by continuing to immerse ourselves in the Water of the Word we will have all our genuine thirsts slaked by and by. The Israelites were allowed to go without literal water for a time precisely so that they might find out what was in their hearts. They failed all of those tests, but we don't have to. We can appreciate the Water we've been given, in faith and confidence that by drinking of it deeply we will continue to grow closer to the One we love. That is where our true joy is, in Jesus Christ. We learn through the truth how wonderful He is and how much He loves us – and how to best love Him back. It's all about the cross; it's all about Jesus Christ; it's all about our being with Him and each other in New Jerusalem forever. These are wonderful things to meditate on, truths of the Water of the Word with which we always ought to be gladdening our hearts. If we ever are feeling off, focusing on the Lord, on all the wonders to come, on all the blessings we have through Him and His sacrifice have the power in the Spirit to revive us – but it does take that effort and active engagement to actually do it.

(38) "The one who believes in Me as the scripture has said [to do], out of his belly will flow streams of living water". (39) [Jesus] said this about the [Holy] Spirit (i.e., the One who illuminates the life-giving "water of truth") which those who believe in Him were destined to receive.
John 7:38-39a

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."
Isaiah 55:1 NIV

As those who belong to Jesus Christ, we are no longer subject to judgment and have only a blissful eternal life to look forward to wherein all of the negatives of this short life – everything that bothers us, upsets us, nags at us – will no longer exist; instead we will be enjoying each other's company in perfect bodies in the glorious light of eternity forever; for a short list of "count your blessings" which every believer should recall, see the link: in BB 4B: "What it means to be saved".

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Appearance and reality don't always line up, so "spiritual discernment " is of utmost importance in order to stay safe in this crooked world. I'm trying to keep in mind what Jesus said: to be "wise as serpents, but harmless as doves"(Matt.10:16). I was studying about "cults and Christianity" on ichthys.com the other day, reading an email from a fellow believer from Australia concerning a Mormon cult that he used to be in, causing me to have a "PTSD episode" from a bad experience from another cult (COG), that I had endured from over 1/4 century ago. (it was pretty much put out of mind and into the graveyard of history). Thankfully it didn't last long because I've been healed from that "spiritual abuse", and set free and straightened up by our dear Lord on this as well as many more matters along the way! ( our great Deliverer!). I don't take anything for granted, being grateful for His superintendence and providence to enable me to stay on the right path ( a lot of love, mercy, forgiveness and discipline to His occasionally wayward sons and daughters!)...I am getting a lot better at this with a R/x of spiritual growth and pursuing sanctification). Also, I'm thankful for having access to the correct substantive Bible study information for spiritual growth that I have gleaned from ichthys (a real godsend for me and countless others around the world!). The Lord has helped me through so many obstacles!...I can't count all the times He has delivered me...spared from "seconds from death" several times, numerous health issues, including cancer, spiritual battles, a bad abusive marriage, two bad "church experiences"...the list goes on ...God is good!, and I thank Him for all the love, grace, and mercy He has given me over my lifetime, through the power of answered prayer, the Holy Spirit direction, and also placing other believers in my life, including my online pastor/teacher, the fellow ichthys email correspondents, and, of course, my dear fellow believer wife....all of which, of one accord, are supporters and encouragement to one and all in "the Church", edifying itself in love. Again, I thank God for gracefully saving me spiritually, through placing my faith in Jesus and His substitutional sacrifice that paid for all my sins, now being "in Him" by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, justified by His righteousness, and then accepting me into His wonderful loving family, His Body forever—The Church! The race of life (with the two finish lines) is going on for every person...and by our own choice some will win, and some will lose (John 3:18). For us believers we are on a lifelong marathon after salvation, continuing to "run the race set before us" (Heb. 12:1), "forgetting those things which are behind" (Phil. 3:13-14). We are running to win after all! Life is an incredible journey...a lot of twists and turns on the race-course...as we are ever making decisions, with the results that can be of little consequence...or life changing...all due to the choices we all make on a daily basis. We are created in the "image of God"...i.e., our ability to make our "free will" choices...and we are responsible for our choices, whether good or bad ones– to win or lose in the "race". Figuring out what Life is all about, our creation by Jesus to bring glory to God, by our choosing for or against Him, determining our final outcome...the only thing that matters...it's going to be either choosing blessing or choosing cursing. Clearly, the most important "life changing choice" to win the "race" is to choose for and place our faith / trust in Jesus Christ, hearing and following His voice to the end (John 10:27,n and not hearing a "stranger's voice"), and to stay following / trusting Him till the end (no such thing as OSAS)...you must get to the "finish line" with faith intact, entering through the Gate into the sheepfold, our place of safety abiding "in Him"...the "Good Shepherd" of His flock...His Body–The Church of Jesus Christ...destined to live in eternal blessing with Him! Today on earth, as far as searching for "churches" to "go to", there are many places and "flavors" to choose from. At first glance it can appear to be not too consequential (which one to pick?) to have fellowship with other like-minded "Christians" to learn about, and to worship God together "in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). But, in fact, some of these so-called "Christian" churches are serving up the "untruth" i.e., "deadly poisonous feed" to the "unsuspecting sheep", who really DO want to grow up with the doctrinal backbone of truth, but resulting instead in possible "spiritual disaster or death" to the ones who have fallen into their trap of poisonous false teaching...by mistakenly following the "hireling" shepherd who is not caring properly for the sheep ("ravenous wolves not sparing the flock"--Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29), and who are peddling "the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6)...causing the sheep to attain zero or little spiritual growth..."ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth"(2Tim. 3:7)...it's "the broad way that leads to destruction" (Matt. 7:13)...no way close to true Christianity...and without the orthodox Bible doctrines (the "proper food") of the true Church of Jesus Christ, as verified by "rightly dividing" the Word of Truth. These false teachings can be a subtle slow "food poisoning" ( i.e., despite their alleged declaration of "we're the "only ones" holding the truth"...so just keep "eating"!). It would seem that most people wouldn't want to be duped to be in the "wrong place", but unfortunately, without proper "spiritual discernment" it might be possible to fall for their demonic false teachings which can, in turn, result in spiritual disaster without figuring out that you have "been had''...then hopefully, finally leading up to your escaping from them and the impending disaster (i.e.,false prophets–Matt. 24:24). It seems like a "tough lift" to get away from a false frame of reference position, but God always will provide a way out to anyone who is "genuinely seeking" the truth. (Matt. 7:7-8). An important caveat: One needs to read the Bible for yourself, and more importantly gain access to a sound, vetted orthodox Bible teaching ministry to grow spiritually to become "inoculated" against these false teaching "churches". It seems like they are a "dime a dozen", cropping up everywhere since the start of the "Laodicean Era" we're presently living in, sporting clever names, bringing in such nonsense to satisfy every palate to draw people in everywhere you look! As a "spiritually immature" Christian ~25yr. ago, I recall how easy it was to get into the "wrong place" by NOT doing any "homework" first, before settling into a local assembly (a really lazy bad idea!), in this case checking it out on a particular group (COG). At the time, I was not realizing what the "real reason" for face-to-face fellowship (going to church) was "all about" in the first place, which is to assemble together to learn and believe the Word, rightly divided, and for encouragement and spiritual growth in our Christian walk (but we're just "going to church" aren't we?...it's the right thing to do isn't it?). I never suspected anything could be wrong at first...the people were so nice, and they "love-bombed" us so well when we came to visit their "church" (welcome to the family!). It seemed like a pretty good place with some good singing and "catchy" sermons to perk some "interest", the "lively" church! After a short "courtship" they asked us to "join in membership". ( I'm sure they were all thinking...ah!..we're growing!...some fresh new recruits!). I didn't know all the "ins and outs" about them yet, but I didn't see any "problems" to decline the "marriage" to join up ( not really understanding "membership"...oh well, what could go wrong here?...ignorance is NOT bliss!). This particular group called themselves "The Church of God", which at first blush seemed like a sensible innocuous name (isn't that what Paul called it in the Bible?). But you really can't tell a book by the title on the cover...should have read some of the book! After a while ( not having read into the "book" very far) I noticed some odd practices, several rival factions emerging with back-biting displays, a surveillance system to keep tabs on the "members", and false teachings coming out, causing trouble in the covenant membership "marriage"...definitely not what I signed up for, or even anticipated! (e.g., of some of the oddness: the "broken record", harping over and over again with dubious "proof scriptures" for their amazing "discovery by divine revelation!" to support "we're "it"! The COG = the one and only true Church of the Bible, "institutional security", you're saved to be in the kingdom and then "eligible" to next be a bona fide "member" of the COG...the only way to heaven, allowing some women pastor/teachers, pre-trib rapture theory, entire sanctification, second blessing, false tongues with accompanying "impressive" KJV language "Holy Ghost" interpretations to bolster credibility to their narratives, "sinless perfection"- required to "make it to heaven"...any sinning then you're not a Christian and "lost", false gospel, false unbiblical standards for divorce and remarriage, concocted set rules of no jewelry, no alcohol/tobacco, correct clothing to wear, etc.). Naturally, their teachings could instill a lot of fear, guilt, and shame to keep the "members" in line and on their short control leash..."better do what we say to do" so you can "make it to heaven" instead of the fear of being "lost" and "going to hell", fear of not being in the "one true sheepfold" (their main thrust), and "lost" if you're not...so you better not be found guilty, and stay faithfully following their "program" to be a "true believer" to "make heaven your home"...and shame on you if you question or doubt or don't believe it like we're telling you, you rebel! ( Overseer saying I'm a "watchman"..."this is not my word...this is God's word"! so you know the drill!). Pretty scary stuff here! Anyone with a "lick" of spiritual common sense (putting on a "Berean thinking cap") would have to conclude that this "self titled" COG, along with their core beliefs and directives...in reality all this amounted to authoritative abusive spiritual "brainwashing", with the net effect of a bad outcome, if you couldn't or wouldn't pull up stakes and escape. My stress level was climbing after seeing and hearing all this troubling drivel (for far too long) when my "spiritual radar" alert warning went off, and it could no longer be ignored (something's fishy here!), but I gave them the benefit of the doubt for a while longer anyway, still "politely" hanging in there (for fellowship with some nice folks??), but feeling the friction it was causing...because I could not "buy it", "kit and caboodle". It was definitely time to "bail out"!...the sooner, the better! OK, I confess!...I must have been "crazy" for not doing my "homework" on them first to never get into the predicament (not to mention the embarrassment!...for not putting 2+2 together...pretty sure we've all been there!...but ya, pretty embarrassing!). At least I finally woke up to the fact that this was a very dangerous place to be in (nice people or not), and I escaped. A short while after leaving I received their "dog-whistle" disfellowship letter in the mailbox ( the "charge", as I imagined–"unfaithful to the covenant"...oh, oh...no thanks for the memories!). I thank God for graciously delivering and forgiving me for my mis-step, and setting me straight on the right path again...what a relief! (I learned my lesson the hard way!...at least I was not still in that "hell hole", with all the "nice people"!). Later on, I got around to doing the "homework" that I should have done initially on them, and discovered that this "Church of God'' (a bogus "dis-organization", loaded down with bogus unbiblical "pet doctrines"), was not in any way the true Church of God.( or even close to "Christian" at all for that matter!...a total hoax!). They use the Bible scriptures alright, honoring God with their lips, but have little respect for the truth and the character of God. They misread and misinterpret Bible scriptures {even though they say it is ONLY themselves that are following it to a "T", while ALL others are not). They use faulty hermeneutics to get to their false teachings ( "ichthys" has "smoked out" all of them on the site), so I'll defer any comments here. There is a ton of false teaching used to foist their false narrative agendas, all backed up through misreading and misinterpretation of scriptures (especially of the "beginning" of their "special" church) to "deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24). I ended up doing my "homework" on them to learn a couple of things (research from ichthys and a few from other credible sources)...the first thing that came to mind was that there is NO evidence in the Bible for any administrative superstructure superior to the local church following the temporary ministry of the 12 Apostles (i.e., there are no denominations, or those like COG who falsely claim "we're NOT a denomination", but say those "others ARE", and on their way to hell, BTW...using the old "us vs. them", "black or white" mentality!). There is a strong appeal here...you're in the "special" one true Church! (e.g., the same claim of Catholic, JW, COG, SDA, Mormon, etc.). The truth is "The Church" as an "organization" has become a misnomer...it should instead be seen as an "organism" or a body, i.e., the "Body of Christ''. The bottom line on this (per ichthys): The Church is not an organization or denomination. The Church, The "genuine" Church of Jesus Christ, is composed of all "true believers" in Him, from Adam and Eve to the last person saved before our Lord's Return. This sums it up perfectly! Plus, requiring a "covenant membership" is also a problem, because it is not even addressed anywhere in the Bible either. It could surely open the door for "spiritual abuse" for any "member'' who might question or criticize their perceived "spiritual authority". I did a little "digging" into the historical account of COG, and found it quite shocking, as well as quite ludicrous! I would put it in the same category as the Mormons, with Joseph Smith , the "man of the hour prophet", kneeling in "the sacred grove" and getting the "divine revelation" of the one true church (along with all the "eyebrow raising" details to get the "ball rolling", gaining quite a following!). It turns out the COG has a similar bizarre history. but on a different "program". They claim to be the New Testament Church, the "remnant church" coming out of the "Dark Ages" in these last days, that finally emerged "restored" on their "launch date" of June 13, 1903 (they call it God's plan for these last days). A little surprising, there are several "organizations" out there, with the same name, that also claim to be the "original" having the same history (with "headquarters" in several locations). In the beginning, an "ambitious" man named A.J. Tomlinson met R.G. Spurling and W.F. Bryant, who became the "leader" of their "holiness" church group, which started in 1902. On June 13, 1903 Tomlinson went up on a mountain in Murphy N.C. to what is called "the Fields of the Woods" to pray, when he got the "divine revelation" that his "holiness" group was the Church of God, as prophesied in the Bible (using Ps. 132:6 as a "proof text"). They use several other Bible verses as "proof texts'' to bolster their false narrative that this has to be the "one and only" true COG. (e.g., Is. 60:1 is their Bible revelation of "the last days' remnant" coming out of darkness", instead of the correct interpretation of Jesus coming to begin His glorious Millennial Kingdom; Is. 60:8 "Who are these that fly like doves..." is the Wright Brothers. in June 1903, on their 1st. flight...right where, you guessed it...Kittyhawk N.C. near "Fields of the Wood"...what a miraculous coincidence!). There's more scriptures, but you "get can get the picture". Faulty hermeneutics, trying to fit things into the Bible never works, especially using it to spin their false narrative to prove that this is the beginning of their "special church". As things digressed, a long history of "splinter groups" and "rival factions" developed. After a lot of back-biting and in-fighting, this led to separating from each other's "apostate" group. When the dust settled each one had their own new group, which they all claimed to be a "continuation" of the "real" COG. This insane cycle never stops! (will the real COG please stand up!). It's obviously apparent to the most casual observer that none of them are the true COG of the Bible! This A. J. Tomlinson fellow seems to have been a troubled, delusional man as far as I can tell. (akin to Joseph Smith and others of their ilk). Tomlinson "felt" that he had received a "unique" historical honor by interpreting the text of Jeremiah 30:21 to refer to himself as the subject of a "specific" biblical prophecy: "for who is this that has enlarged his heart to approach unto me, saith the Lord?' This narrative fits very well for Tomlinson's agenda going forward, as he "sees" himself as the providential "seeker" drawn to God for the purpose of receiving understanding of God's divine "intent" concerning "the last days Church (of the Bible)...the emergence of COG! Tomlinson "sees" himself as "the one" who received this "divine revelation"! In his own words, he stated: "I believe I can say as well as Paul that for this purpose God raised me up. Why not? Who else could do it? Like the apostle Paul said, "I magnify my office". And like John the Baptist, I was just a voice of one crying in the wilderness. You never saw my name there (in the Bible), but without a name I was there. It just turned out to be me and nobody can help it. Where would this (the COG) have been if it hadn't been for me? I am not boasting only as God has done this for me...You are all Church of God because I am". (Evans,1943,pg.13). Well, I did my "homework" on them. As mentioned above, I regret not doing it first...could have been spared from all their "spiritual abuse", and nonsense doctrines and practices. I'm totally OK now, (this all happened a long time ago...it's "water off a duck's back"), but I will never ever let my guard down again (my zero-tolerance policy). God is causing all things to work out for good! (Rom. 8:28), despite my mistakes. I'm in "forward mode", endeavoring to stay closer to Him from here on out! One day at a time! It's a veritable battle for the truth out there, "earnestly contending for the faith" (Jude 3-4)...but we're going to continue fighting "the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12). Thankfully, in this struggle God will always provide for anyone who is ever desirous of seeking out the truth. (Matt. 7:7-8), Furthermore, He will give us (through the Holy Spirit) the "spiritual discernment" to slough off false teachers, leaving them behind, to enter into and stay in His Sheepfold—the true Church of Jesus Christ...the place to eat the proper food to grow up "in Him"( Ps. 23).

Hi Bob, I just re-read my letter, from yesterday and found out (near the top) that possibly I did not express "justified BY His righteousness" correctly. I'm sure you picked up on this...I know we're justified solely "by faith". I think I was thinking that after we place our faith in Him, then we are justified by His righteous act for us. ( not sure how/why I wrote it this way?). Am I off on this? Anyway, this bothered me enough to ask you to clear it up for me. Thanks. Hope things are going well for you, keeping you in prayer every day. Your student and friend in Jesus,

Response #18:

This was a really wonderful testimony, my friend! Loved "food poisoning" and "but we go to church, don't we?" This will be useful for all to read. In the latest installment of the Peter series, I've made a major detour to talk about false teaching [link], and I'm reminded about how much scripture there is devoted to this topic. Having some practical insights such as you provide is also invaluable. Always better to read about it than to suffer it first hand!

Yes, we are "justified" because we believe in the Lord and He counts that faith of ours as "righteousness". We can't be righteous on our own, and it is pointless and even blasphemous to try (operation "Cain"; the Pharisees; etc.). But as with Abraham our spiritual Father, if we trust God, He considers that as "righteous" and gives us His "righteousness" as a result. We are "just", "righteous", "justified" because we have done what HE wants us to do: have faith in Him and in His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is the only way to get "right" with God. All other ways are false was as He is the one and ONLY "Way" (Jn.14:6). Here's a link on that: "Justification".

Thanks again, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Bob, Thank you for the synopsis and the expanded link on "justification". It really helped me to have this doctrine illuminated (my "other venues" were lacking, and leading to get "off course" somewhat). No worries, I left those false approaches, long ago, as you know. But, later on last night, I had some other thoughts, but not sure if there is a "correlation" with the "justification " doctrine? It was pertaining to that demonic false doctrine of "sinless perfection" which is a major tenet of COG. These false teachers seem to prefer certain scriptures to prove they are correct, in lieu of (ignoring) other scriptures that would prove them wrong ( no respect to get to the truth!). The gist of it is that they are using Heb. 6:1, Lev.19:20, Heb. 12:14, Eph. 5:27, and others, to support their false "idea" requirement, that if you're not "sinless and living holy" before you die, you're not going to be in "that number" when Jesus comes back to "pick up" His Bride...The Church (their "timing" of when this will happen is off too, but that's another story). And the answer is: It is just another of those "blind guides" situations as outlined by Jesus in Matt. 23. However, we do know the "real" truth—"perfection" will come alright...but only at the "2nd. Coming"! In the meantime, we're all ("true believers", that is) waiting for our deliverance on that great "Day", that is "parousia" soon! Hope all is going well! Your friend in Jesus,

Response #19:

My pleasure!

Reminds me of the verse, 2nd Peter 3:16, "things which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures" (NKJV).

Things are OK. We had 70mph winds last night which blew down my entire back fence (busted beyond repair), so there's always something! [note: that was LAST spring]

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Always something, indeed! 70 mph is definitely breaking the "speed limit" in a residential area! Now I suppose, with a burn ban, you'll have to haul the rubble to the nearest dumpsite. I don't know if "homeowners insurance" would cover the loss, and if it does there's always that deductible. Sorry for your loss. Yeah, that 2nd. Peter verse is a good one to describe "twisters". Thanks for all your prayer support, you are in ours as well. In Jesus,

Response #20:

Yep. Human "twisters" are worse in the end than the natural kind. Still glad I didn't lose my roof! Some around here did (not as many or as bad as last December southeast of us). God is good!!!

Insurance generally doesn't pay for fences older than about five years – and this one was here when I moved in MANY years ago now, so . . .

Got a good handyman who'll be putting in a new one next week. $$$ with the price of wood these days!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob, Likewise, in the grateful dept.! Getting a few things done here as well. Rototilled the weeds into the garden, got another mowing in, but am waiting for a calmer day for the brush bon-fire (a lot of time remaining before a burn ban here). We had a great meal and visited yesterday with my oldest daughter and granddaughter. Son-in-law was on his way back from Texas after dropping off a load, and bringing one back, so we missed him. Probably won't get to rototilling once more and planting anything yet, until the soil gets a bit warmer (snow is still on the top of the foothills), maybe with the exception of cool weather crops, such as snap peas, spinach, and broccoli. Plum and cherry trees are blossoming...apples, blueberries and raspberries will be blooming later. Some of the flowers are popping out...bluebells, daffodils, tulips and one rhododendron. Hope we get a good summer!

[omitted] Like we've been saying, "there's always something"! Thanks for your prayers. You're in ours as well. Take care, Bob! In Jesus,

Response #21:

Did pick up a load of mulch yesterday so I'm ready to get cracking with the flowers once I finish off the semester. May try a few veggies this year, but honestly I have to buckle down on the research agenda as first priority.

Sounds like a pretty place! Always liked the west. Louisville is "hard sojourning" but the Lord has given me a way to make a living to support this ministry, and that is a blessing not to be underestimated. As long as the tent keeps out most of the water, the flocks hang in there and don't diminish too much, and the marauders are kept pretty much at bay, we realize how blessed we are. We remain grateful for all His deliverances.

I'm keeping your health in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

*[note: And many thanks to all you Ichthys readers for your prayers.  Storms come and go, but the Lord is ever faithful.  Very grateful here to be able to post tonight.]


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