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Dreams, Visions, Miracles, Exorcism, Tongues, and False Prophets

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Question #1:

Hi Bob, and happy Thanksgiving,

I had a nightmare where someone was teaching that Jesus did not die on the cross, but died in some other manner (and a rather ignoble one), but I reconsidered the matter and said in the dream "wait a minute, didn't he die crucified at Golgotha?"

Here is a link saying that the Gospels resemble ancient biographies: http://jesusevidences.com/ntgospelsbiographies.php

In the Logos made flesh (because Jesus is God),

Response #1:

I would consider it a major spiritual victory whenever a person verbally espouses divine viewpoint in a dream – because it means that the truth is firmly entrenched in the forefront of one's thinking, even in deep sleep.

I've read my share of Greek and Latin biographies. I don't see any particular resemblance. That hasn't stopped scholars from writing many books on the subject, however. The differences are more numerous and more important than the similarities – and would be even if we took just a secular approach inasmuch as the purposes of the two genres is completely different.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

I constantly get nightmares wherein some external agent tells me something so gross and disgusting that it completely shocks me. Last night I dreamt that someone told me the New Jerusalem was made up by John and that there is no such thing in such a smug, insufferable way that I got absolutely angry.


Response #2:

Good for you! As I mentioned, any time a person deploys the truth affirmatively in a dream such as you have done (and are doing), that is 1) a spiritual victory, and 2) an indication of good spiritual momentum (because it reflects having the truth in the forefront of one's thinking).

Keep running the good race, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Bob L.

Thank you! I have been doing a lot of reading, since I last emailed you back. I have a couple of questions (If you don't know, then feel free to speculate):

The Lord has been showing me (and our children) dreams and visions. I have come to this conclusion about the dreams and visions: during or before 2018, something is going to transpire on Earth. It has something to do with Christ's Return, but I don't know what it entails. I only know that God has informed me that my plans for the future and for my career, etc. were meaningless due to what is about to transpire during or before 2018. I asked the Lord several times to give me a sign if this 'meaningless' answer to my 5 year plan is due to Christ' Return. The Lord gave me several signs, but I will tell you about one of them: [details omitted]

Here are a few dreams that transpired in our home: [details omitted]

I don't know if this answered my prayers, but...maybe I don't want to know?

God Bless!

Response #3:

On dreams, visions, signs and miracles, there is no question but that God guides us in many different ways. The Spirit uses the truth to direct our steps, when we are willing to learn and accept that truth and also to apply it. To what degree we are personally receiving dreams, visions, signs or miracles from the Lord is a question best left to each individual Christian. As I always say at these times, if what we have been given independent of scripture is in agreement with scripture then we believe the scripture in any case and have our faith encouraged by the external input – but our faith is based on the truth we know in our hearts already, not in what we have been given in addition. Since you are richly blessed in this area, it seems to me that this indicates a strong faith in the truth (because spiritual infants would be more likely to be led astray by such things than to have a proper course of action confirmed).

As to dates, there is a tremendous amount of information about the end times in the Bible, and as you know it has been a particular focus of this ministry to explicate it (two major series, The Satanic Rebellion and The Coming Tribulation at the links, as well as many additional postings; see for example: "The Time of the Tribulation"). I also have some postings on this last question of yours and will give you those links here:

Dreams and Visions

Dreams and Visions II

Healing, Miracles, and Dreams: Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff by biblical Means

Interpreting Dreams and Analyzing Prophetic Claims

Third Party Testimony II: Charismatic Claims of Visions, Dreams and Prophecy

I will say a prayer for you and your family for safe negotiation of the troubling times ahead, but we must remember that times will be difficult for us all therein, regardless or present situation or geographical situation (Rev.13:10; cf. Jer.45:1-5).

And do feel free to write back about any of the above.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Thank you. I will look into it. I read somewhere that in layman's terms the children will tell of the beginning of the end times. My 10 y/o told me at 4 years of age that a horn will blow and there will be a fight of good and bad. At this time he will become everybody's brother. And my job is to teach him all religions. For many weeks these "dreams" went on. Much more details were given. I asked him when this will happen. He replied 2026. Now this is a child that had never been taught the Bible.

He was born with his cord around his neck 3 times and had no vitals. He still remembers what at 2 he called a beach in the sky. Where with the men in front and woman in the back, a nice man told him go back to your mommy. He had never seen a beach at that age. So yes, I will look into this some more. Thank you for your email.

Response #4:

Thanks for this.

With your permission, I'd like to post this (anonymously of course) next time I do something with the dates.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Certainly you may. Sorry for the delay in response. This is a lot to swallow. But I believe in this so, certainly do so. Perhaps someone else will listen more closely to their children if they know they are not alone in this.

Response #5:

Thank you!

Question #6:

Thanks, Dr. Luginbill-I appreciate! I'm looking forward to reviewing it. Have a wonderful summer. Oh, by the way, in light of all the evil being perpetrated by Muslim extremists, do you have any thoughts with regards to how they play a factor in the last days and the national identity of the Anti-Christ. Given that Shia eschatology is expecting its Islamic Messiah (also referred to as the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi) to appear, and that there are similarities between him and the biblical Anti-Christ, I'm wondering how this will play out. Interestingly, they even believe in the return of Jesus, but not as the King of kings and the Lord of lords, but as the Mahdi's lieutenant, who will precede his appearing and prepare the way. Could this be the False Prophet?

Oddly, I had a series of dreams regarding the Anti-Christ years ago, in which I clearly saw his face and character. To further compound the bizarre nature of my dreams, I later found out that my wife and son had had similar dreams. Even stranger still, is the incident in which I saw his name. While reading the third book of the popular "Left Behind" series, I leaned back and thought, "Man, these authors sure did an excellent job of describing the Anti-Christ's character as I believe he might actually be, but it's still fiction."

My thoughts continued, "Hmm ... Nicolas Capartia [that the Anti-Christ's name in the aforementioned series]. Sounds right, but I wonder what his real name is." Within seconds of having these thoughts, I suddenly fell into a type of deep sleep/trance, resulting in my head being cocked back over the kitchen chair's back. I had a vision of a hand writing a man's name on a small blackboard with a chalk. Shocked, I gasped, "That's-that's name!" Still in my trance, I blindingly moved my hands quickly over the table in a desperate attempt to reach for pen and paper so I could write the name. This proved futile, as the hand started to erase the name from the board, while the name was simultaneously being erased from my mind. I cried out "No! Don't!" It was too late. The deed was done. I've shared this experience with, of course, my family and only a couple of people, as I don't want to be labeled a nut.

Response #6:

It's hard to know at this point just how the events which are occurring this far out from the Tribulation are going to affect the whole. There are many pieces, they change in kaleidoscopic fashion, and I don't think I'm the only one who's noticed that the pace of change seems to be increasing exponentially. One thing we can say is that the trend towards instability, upheaval, and the breaking down of all manner of institutional resistance worldwide is definitely a "sign of the times" because it is loosening things up so as to allow a rapid realignment of whatever needs to be realigned in order for the prophesied events of the Tribulation to come to pass. As to the specifics here, I have speculated that it is entirely likely that antichrist himself will paint the leader of the Muslim world as "the real antichrist" in order to gather putatively Christian groups to his own standard. After all, he will claim to be Christ. This is the way in which he will deceive the weakest one third of the Church into the Great Apostasy.

As to dreams (see the link), it says in say in Job:

"In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction."
Job 33:15-16

So I have no problem accepting that God gives general counsel through dreams and visions. I always do warn everyone not to accept any specific information or anything not actually in the Bible from this source, however. The name of the beast will not be irrefutably known until he is revealed (at the Tribulation's mid-point: 2Thes.2:3; 2:6; 2:8), and when he is the calculation of the name given in scripture is only for the purposes of an absolute final "double check" for believers so as to remove any last small shred of lingering doubt. Anyone who has even read Revelation, let alone given careful attention to end times issues such as through reading this posting, will likely not have any doubt whatsoever by the middle of the Tribulation as to who the beast is.

Finally, on this series you mention (books/movies), I note that 1) the putative author (it's mostly ghost-written) has made a fortune off it; 2) it's filled with all manner of biblical inaccuracies (obvious from only the small bits I've subjected myself to); and 3) it is wrong about the time of the resurrection, one of the most vital mistakes the present church-visible is making about the end times – because it perpetuates the myth that we believers today won't have to go through the Tribulation. I enjoy bad fiction as much as the next fellow, but that's just what this is, bad fiction (and in a bad cause).

We all have to come to some personal accommodation with experiences we are given such as you relate. What the Lord gives us we do appreciate, and very much so. Just how to interpret these things when they do happen is something that can require a lot of spiritual growth and a very careful comparison with scripture as the touchstone to determine just what whatever we experience can and cannot mean.

So, no, I don't think you're crazy at all! It's a blessing to have such experiences. But I do have to be frank about meaning and interpretation because it's my "job", so to speak.

Your friend and fellow heir of the Kingdom through the One we love more than life itself, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Bob I just had a terrifying dream about judgment it seemed. Right after interviewing for a job, I had a dream about being in a beach town on a flooded beach with all these cars under water. Mine was ok though. And the moon was bright blood red. And I had fish hooks in my skin.

I looked fish hooks up in scripture and came to Amos 4:2. Where God pronounces judgment of the rich for oppressing the poor. What should I think of this? Is God telling me not to take the job, or get out of the sales industry completely? I guess is it a sin to up sell someone?

Not sure if you have any advice on dreams or not but I figured I ask.

Thank you,

Response #7:

Does God use dreams to influence us? Yes. Does that mean that all dreams are from God? No. Does it mean that dreams we suspect might have something to do with the Spirit trying to tell us something have details which are significant in every respect? I don't find that anywhere in the Bible. The number of dreams recorded in scripture is small, given the length of the book, and whenever they are from God they are very specific; even when they need to be interpreted, they have consistent details that are easily – to a prophet – sorted out, and most times there is no sorting out at all but a clear, verbal, unambiguous message:

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:12 NIV

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
Matthew 2:22 NIV

Also, I don't know of any gift called "the interpretation of dreams". God gave this power to a handful of special prophets in the Old Testament on occasion so as to be able to have credence in the eyes of powerful rulers (Joseph and Daniel, notably).

Bottom line: God does work with our consciences, but irrational guilt is the worst reason to do anything. If you think something you are doing is wrong, you shouldn't do it. If you are convinced in your heart that you are not doing something wrong, feeling guilty about it for some sort of extraneous reason is a mistake. There are plenty of people, for example, who will tell those in the military they are in the wrong because "thou shalt not kill". I would hope that any Christian informed about the Bible to any degree would understand that this is a misapplication of the truth. We all need to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow. Perhaps there is some profession or job out there where there is not the slightest element of anything which even smells of a compromise – but I'll bet if one examined the circumstances of it with a microscope that something could be found to make the person feel guilty, rightly or wrongly. In short, if God is speaking to your conscience, you should listen; hearing God's voice where it isn't actually present will make for poor conclusions and poor decisions.

I never tell people how to interpret their supernatural experiences. I do always observe, however, that if such experiences are definitely from the Lord, then they and what they mean will match up 100% with the truth we can know from scripture independent of any such experience. That is to say, if a person has a dream which is thought to mean X, then looking to the Bible will easily show that X is correct – and said person thus could have figured out X from scripture (and good Bible teaching) irrespective of the dream. Not that the dream is not an encouragement! But one can see how such experiences placed in the hearts of the spiritually immature can lead to trouble through mis-interpretation or over-interpretation.

Here are a few links on this where I discuss these matters at length:

Interpreting visions and dreams

Understanding dreams

Dream interpretation

Interpreting Dreams and Analyzing Prophetic Claims

What does the Bible say about Dreams and Visions?

Dreams, Visions, and the Interpretation of Prophecy

Scripture versus Personal Experience

How to interpret our dreams?

Dreams and demon influence

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

So I read what you sent and that really helps make a lot of sense. So God can and still does speak to people in dreams, however when ever he did in Scripture he always confirmed what he was saying to them. Usually by directly telling them or by someone else.

I will continue to wait on the Lord and see if he confirms if the dream was from him why he is speaking to me.

Thank you Again Bob!

Your Friend in Christ,

Response #8:

You're very welcome!

I think that's exactly the right procedure.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I am presently studying the subject of Soteriology - your dissertation on "What it means to be saved". It is an excellent study so far, but I am perplexed by one of the comments you made in this part. That is, that I recall you stating to me that the following gifts ceased when the last Apostle died: "Tongues, Interpretation of tongues, Knowledge, and Prophecy". But, in this dissertation here is what you say:

d. Spiritual Gifts: All believers of the Church Age receive at least one spiritual gift at the point of salvation (1Cor.12:7-11). The gifts of the Spirit are many in type (e.g., 1Cor.12:8-10), but all have the same purpose: the edification of the Church of Jesus Christ (1Cor.12:7; Eph.4:12-16; Col.2:19)."

I am confused by the above statement based on your first comment. Can you please explain?

Also, I talked with a believer yesterday because she asked me to give her my opinion on a audio tape containing a so-called "Prophecy" by a so-called "Prophet". After listening to this tape, I made several comments back to her request as follows:

This tape and "Prophecy" ? was given by a person who claims to be a prophet of God.

Here are my comments:

1. None of the things he said, in my opinion, were Scriptural, I don't recall having read anything in God's Word to verify his words.

2. In this prophecy he says: He went to heaven and saw the prophet Jeremiah, and another personage; who it was I don't remember. Anyway, he states that Jeremiah had been directed by God to give him a prophecy regarding the Jan. 15, 2017 meeting in France with 70 other United Nation members. The purpose of this meeting was to finalize a plan that would "split" Jerusalem into two parts. East Jerusalem for the Jews, west Jerusalem for the Palestinians.

3. He claims that Jeremiah corrected this person who received the prophecy on some things he did not understand. He says that God then told Jeremiah to give him understanding.

4. This person also stated that Esau is the earth.

5. God was going to "split" the United States in the middle of the country, if "they" to "split" the land of Israel. He, the one given this prophecy ?, was told the Word of God says that "he who (splits) the land of Israel, will also be (split); this is not what scripture says.

6. Israel would have another great war as a result of Jerusalem being "split", if indeed it happens?

7. The U.S.A. would be split into two separate pieces by a meteor which would fall in the middle of this country, because they are the ones who are the culprits in causing this division of Israel to happen.

8. Volcanoes would erupt and fire would fall from the sky in the form of many small meteors, and these fires would never be quenched. So much for the USA being mystery Babylon, I am being facetious now.

9. A flesh eating plague would come upon the people of the United States because of the curse.

10. This country would never recover from these disasters.

Can' t remember anything else, but this is the gist of the "prophecy".

Question: If the Canon of Scripture is now closed, as some believe, but others believe to the contrary, and I have studied this controversy much, then does God speak to people about things that are not written in His Word, and if so, how is one to judge if the prophecy is true, then there are Words given beyond and outside of God's Word (The canon).

Is it true, or not true, that certain Books of the Bible were either lost or not included in the Canon?

This subject by the way, is a very, very perplexing issue for me. As for me, I have a great need to know that what I am teaching is accurate. And my curiosity is very keen on knowing. I know that we must be silent on things that are not written, and if we conjecture about what might have been, is what it is, conjecture. I have been deceived once before, being raised Catholic and having been in that heresy for 40 years; this was strictly my fault, no one else. I have seen much since then, this was 37 years ago since I was Catholic, but again, I don't intend to be deceived again.

Your comments are always greatly appreciated.

P.S. I am also familiar with the doctrine of Cessationism and Continuationsim and the many debates about these issues, and have done some study in these.

May our Lord continue to "Bless you always in your endeavors."

Your friend,


Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I just got this off the internet.

This is the person that prophesied ? the things that are coming on the USA, when Jerusalem is divided.

He uses Amos 7:17 as his proof that Jerusalem will be divided.

Here are some facts about him:

Ten Convincing Proofs That Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj is Truly Not a Prophet.

More than a month ago, "Prophet" Sadhu Selvaraj prophesied of a coming new dispensation coinciding with the Jewish Yom Kippur due on October 8, 2011. It’s available at http://www.jesusministries.org/.

He asked Christians to pray and fast in order to self atone for their day-to-day sins saying that only the original sin was atoned for by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyway, the following are ten "prophecies" that we should test (1 John 4:1).

If they will all come to pass, they should give him the credibility that he needs to be firmly recognized as today’s prophet of God. However, should any one of them fail, we should all come to a realization that he is a false prophet who is not be revered (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

Today is October 3, with barely 5 days to go before the alleged "Final Dispensation" what are these "prophecies"?

1. New level of the demonstration of signs and wonders in the church – all members of the church will be a miracle worker. Not just the pastor and not just the leaders are in mind here. He meant that everyone in the Body. Yes! Including you he said, "not [just] the pastor, not just the evangelist, not just the apostle, not just the teacher, not just the prophet that God is going to use mightily but every common believer."

2. Angelic activity will be common place – he says that you will be seeing angels after October 8. And you will be receiving messages from them.

3. Your church will be glorious – he says that even without the preaching of the Word, "as soon as people come within the atmosphere of your church, they’re going to drop and fall to their knees, put up their hands and cry to be saved."

4. There will be a great increase in "revelational knowledge of God and the things of God" he said. And he based it on Revelation 10:7 when the seventh angel blows the trumpet then the mysteries of God "will be made known to the world." Should this thing happen, we should rejoice because we may have already skipped the 6 other trumpets, see Revelation 8:2ff.

5. You will see the spiritual realm – again not just the pastors or the leaders of the church will see the spiritual realm your eyes will see it too. After your ten day fast, expect to see the spiritual realm unfold before your very eyes. But you must believe it otherwise you won’t see it.

6. Everyone will become prophets – he based this on Joel 2:28-29 where it says, "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" meaning to kids even before the age of puberty and those above and beyond. He said it did not happen during the time of Peter, this time, "all flesh" means everyone. Including the unbelievers? We shall see.

7. Your life is going to change – he meant to include your destiny, your future, and your entire purpose is going to change. Hopefully for the better.

8. You will even see the Lord Jesus standing beside you. I don’t know for sure but I think it will happen before the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17), or before the gathering of the elect by the angels (Matthew 24:31), or before the "Man of Sin" is made known (2 Thessalonians 2:3). We shall soon find out.

9. Expect every "common person" will say, "We saw the Lord!" My only concern is if we can still apply the warning of the Lord in Matthew 24:23 when this becomes prevalent.

10. Lastly, expect to skip the part in Acts 1:11 where the angel told the disciples: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." That being the case, we shall probably skip the Parousia – when every eye sees Jesus coming from clouds of heaven with power and glory (Matthew 24:30) because this time every eye will probably see Jesus beside them already.

He died some time back in the Himalayan mountains.

May the Lord bless you and keep you always,

Your friend,

Response #9:

What you have come to on your own is precisely correct, namely, there are no prophets at present, and will not be until the return of Moses and Elijah after the Tribulation begins.

As to: "d. Spiritual Gifts: All believers of the Church Age receive at least one spiritual gift at the point of salvation (1Cor.12:7-11). The gifts of the Spirit are many in type (e.g., 1Cor.12:8-10), but all have the same purpose: the edification of the Church of Jesus Christ (1Cor.12:7; Eph.4:12-16; Col.2:19)."

This is absolutely the case. The problem seems to be in distinguishing between spiritual gifts which are not overtly miraculous (as human beings see these things), and those which are (or better, were when they were being empowered). All of the so-called "sign gifts" are now in abeyance. But everyone of us has at least one and often more than one gift. All are designed to aid in the learning and dissemination of the truth of the Word of God. So the pastor-teacher is gifted in learning/teaching the truth while his elders are gifted in the area of helps and administration and many in the congregation in the area of encouragement and also in giving so as to support the operation – at least this is the ideal. No one, however, will operate to full effect with their gift(s) until spiritual maturity is achieved. So our progression is as ever: grow, progress in applying the truth and passing life's tests, and help others do likewise – all of which is achieved through attention to, faith in, and application of the truth. So today there are no prophets or speakers of tongues or workers or healing miracles, but there are pastors and teachers and evangelists and those with all manner of different gifts all given by the Spirit to support such ministries directly and indirectly for the edification of the Church. Some helpful links:

Temporary Gifts

Communication Gifts

Support Gifts

False prophetic claims

Charismatic Claims of Visions, Dreams and Prophecy

Please keep in mind that it is the easiest thing in the world for some charlatan to make claims of the sort that are exercising you. But saying it is so doesn't make it so. Christians are generally good people who want to believe that others are good as well. But while we are supposed to be "innocent as doves", it is also important to remember that our Lord told us to be "wise as serpents" as well – precisely to avoid being taken in by the lies of such agents of the evil one.

On the canon of scripture, please see the following link:

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God III

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend! And do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Was searching for information and accidentally found your site. The first time I have visited your site, and I like the look and sound. I hope I have not been deceived. I do love the Lord and want to follow him.

I recently purchased a book by Jonathan Cahn The Book of Mysteries, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. I like the book—I haven’t read it all, but like what I have read. But I found a disturbing critique today. Can’t remember the man who wrote the critique, but he was very insulting to Jonathan Cahn. I have Mr. Cahn's other books and have seen several interviews by different hosts and see nothing wrong with his teachings. Could you give me more insight—or your thoughts, if you know of him and have heard of him or read his work?

Thank you so very much!

Response #10:

Good to make your acquaintance. Thanks for your positive impression about Ichthys – I do hope you will find it a good place to grow spiritually in Jesus Christ our Lord (that is its purpose).

As to your question, I am not familiar with this gentleman, but I understand that he is a Messianic Christian. That rubric covers a lot of ground and a lot of groups. I know of some such which are composed of Jews by birth and culture who have been born again and are trying to follow Christ while converting other Jews; I know of some which are composed of gentiles wanting to play at being Jewish; and I know of other groups of various composition whose Christianity I seriously doubt because while they respect Jesus they do not seem to accept His deity.

If the report I found is correct, Mr. Cahn is an ex-Rabbi, something that would give him bona fides with other Jews in efforts to convert them. What it should mean for other Christians is debatable. For me, the proof is always in the pudding as we say. There are plenty of marvelously well credentialed men (ex-Rabbis, ex-Priests, Ph.Ds, Th.Ds, sports heroes, etc.) who aren't even saved, and others who while saved are very confused about the truth (to be generous). So without having read Mr. Cahn's book, I can't really weigh in on whether or not he is teaching the truth. If you have some teaching of his you have questions about, I would be happy to address that.

One problem I will observe from the title and the blurb, is that contrary to this book "mystery" in the New Testament refers to Christ and the Church, that is, the two-fold revelation, deliberately not made completely clear in the Old Testament, that the Messiah would be both God and man, and that His assembly would consist in large measure of gentile believers in addition to Jews. This is all well-spelled out in the NT epistles. So while Paul, for example, sometimes speaks of these "mysteries", they are by that time "mysteries revealed" . . . in the Bible, not secrets unknown except to a special few. In short, neither Mr. Cahn nor any other person on the face of the earth knows more about the truth than what may be found in scripture.

I understand that the purpose of book blurbs and book titles is to sell books, and it seems that Mr. Cahn is doing well in that respect. But the profit motive and the search for the truth often find themselves at odds. Everything at Ichthys is available for anonymous download by anyone, any time, free of charge . . . for a reason. As I say, if Mr. Cahn really does purport to give special "mystery" information in his book that no one else is privy to, that would be for me highly problematic. If he is merely telling a story with spiritual implications, i.e., engaging in "Christian fiction", that is not something I'm going to get terribly upset about. That sort of thing is not my cup of tea, but I would imagine that it's better than most of what one finds on television these days – again, depending on the spiritual content. No Christian should look to fiction, even Christian fiction, for anything more than inspiration (along the lines of listening to "Christian music"). We all know, or should, that it is only by hearing and believing the teaching of the Word of God are we going to get anywhere spiritually.

Do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord

Question #11:

Mr. Luginbill

Thank you so much for your quick and kind response to my inquiry!

Just so you’ll know, Mr. Cahn is a Jewish Rabbi, but a born again Christian. Not sure if that was put as meant, but he does appear (to me) to be a God-fearing man who believes and loves the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Jewish by birth and was converted to Christianity at a young age. The book The Book of Mysteries is more of a daily devotional-teaching-type book and not meant to be a direct "word from God." He has a church—can’t remember where—and is the pastor.

I was not aware that your materials at Ichthys are available free of charge. Good to know, since I am poor as the proverbial church mouse!

Many blessings to you.

Thanks again!

Response #11:

You're very welcome.

But you are rich in faith (Jas.2:5; cf. Col.1:27; 2:2)! Most genuine Christians I know who are actually striving to live for Jesus Christ are less than well off (Jn.15:20; 16:33; Acts 14:22; 1Cor.1:26-29; 1Thes.3:2-4; 2Tim.3:12).

Feel free to write any time.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have run into an unusual situation that I would like to ask your opinion. I have a Christian lady that my wife and I have been teaching the Bible to for some years. Today she brought up something very peculiar about her daughter. She is originally from the far east, but now lives here. She has a daughter that was born with some of the symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy due to a rough birth. Consequently, she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and is taking different medication for it. The unusual part of this story is today her mother told us that she noticed that whenever there is a "full moon" her daughter gets really nasty in her attitude, but the next day does not remember anything about it. I am sure the "full moon" does not have any impact or bearing on why her daughter is so nasty only when there is a full moon, and I know of no Biblical answer to give her. The daughter is in her thirties and I have know her for some time now. She does seem to have some mental deficiency, but I believe it to be a slight hindrance; I know that she talks very loud and has a tendency to slam doors because she has a hearing loss of some sort.

Now, I don't place any credence on the "full moon" or high or low tide having any physical effect on her. Just wondering what advice you could provide or what your thoughts might be on this. The only thing I can think of is some sort of demonic oppression, or ?

Thanks always for your expertise and help.

Blessings to you,

Your friend,

Response #12:

I will give you a few links. What I will say here first is that believers cannot be demon possessed, so if this woman is a believer she is not demon possessed. Believers can be harassed and attacked by demons – Paul certainly was (his "thorn in the flesh"). In either case, we can do a great deal. That is to say, we can pray to the Lord for the person's deliverance and healing. But that is all we can do. There is no legitimacy whatsoever to modern-day exorcism and the like. That was an apostolic power which left with the apostles. Finally, there are a great many reasons for such medical conditions, mental and otherwise, and modern medicine hasn't really even scratched the surface in figuring them out, whether genetic or environmental or due to some other cause. Given the fact that we cannot know if a particular condition is a result of demon causation (whether of possession in the case of unbelievers or affliction in the case of anyone), in practical terms the only thing that it is prudent for a Christian to do (beyond seeking appropriate medical help) is to pray for healing and deliverance – precisely as we would do if we had no suspicion of anything supernatural. And that, by the way, is the best approach to all things demonic. We are given some information in scripture about the spiritual warfare raging unseen around us, but we cannot actually see it. So the best policy is to know that the devil and his agents are at work but to go on about our lives and Christian tasks as if they didn't even exist. That will keep us from any dangerous demonic dalliances (and all such dalliances are too dangerous for words) – and I think it probably irritates the evil one and his followers more than anything else we might do (apart from growing in grace, progressing with Christ, and ministering the Word of God).

Here are those links:

Christian mental illness II

*Christian mental illness


Spiritual Warfare I

Spiritual Warfare II

Spiritual Warfare III

Spiritual Warfare IV

Spiritual Warfare V

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hey Brother Robert,

It's been awhile since we last spoke through email. I reached out to you a couple years ago and your advice was extremely helpful in my growing knowledge in the things of God. Unfortunately, I can't say I've grown much in bearing any good fruit though. It appears the enemy has cornered me and has done exceedingly well in crippling my faith. My how the times have changed and where we are as a country in 2016. I could mention all the things that keep me up at night as well as everything under the sun, but to keep it more so on the problem at hand, I was going to ask you for advice as I believe this is a very common problem amongst believers. I'm about to turn twenty-something, and as I dwell on the lack of fruit in my life and the terrible backsliding that has taken place, I truly fear for my soul. I believe the worst feeling a believer could go through is to believe the truth, observe Gods word, but wake up in defeat everyday. This is where I'm at right now. There's many of us who are seriously burdened with the battle that rages on in our day. I heard Paul Washer recently use the term "Six Flags American Christianity" and I've heard some other few preachers use the term "New World Order Bibles". Now, I'm sure someone of your knowledge could guess what I'm talking about without having to elaborate. If not, you can ask me and I can explain. I'm exhausted. I feel this charismatic church movement (or whatever you want to call it) has to be one of the enemy's biggest deception the evil one has used since the beginning. I can no longer endure this and this problem has caused a division between me and my family and every Christian I know. I can't accept these new bibles. I can't accept the preaching in these churches today. I'm currently in a financial position where I'm stuck in the mud where I'm at and I can't just run off and find myself a mountain to live on with the Holy people. I've come so terribly close to even blaspheme the Holy Ghost in my thoughts. My question, do you simply separate yourself from those you love and those around you to try and find peace with people who believe as you do? Or do you stick it out amongst the wolves and stand in opposition to everything they say, teach & do in hopes that God would speak through you to them? Or perhaps, I've gone mentally mad and I just need to "chill out" and fill my belly up with contemporary music and funny stories from the pulpit. I know you're by no means a psychiatrist...and if I remember correctly you're not a counselor but a teacher. For real, how should Christians deal with this in their heart without coming off as "pharisaical"

Thanks for reading

Response #13:

It's good to hear from you again, my friend, though I'm sad to hear that you are in the midst of some spiritual turmoil. First let me say that your assessment of the present-day church-visible certainly squares with mine. The Charismatics are a huge problem, but they are hardly the only ones. It's difficult to find even a single local church in any given area where the truth is acknowledged, loved, and taught. So in this perplexity you are hardly alone – this is perhaps the most common complaint I hear from Christians who communicate with this ministry. But don't despair. This a sign of the times (Laodicea; see the link), and an inevitable development as we approach the end. There is also some good in it. As Paul says,

It is even necessary that there be divisions among you in order that it might become obvious who among you are also approved [by God].
1st Corinthians 11:19

If I am reading your email correctly, you have three complaints: 1) the state of things among believers and those who pretend to be; 2) the state of your personal economy; 3) the state of your personal spirituality. The first, touched upon above, is not only not your fault but clearly beyond your ability to affect in any way – except through your own personal spiritual growth (which is in turn not going to be negatively impacted by the bad choices of others . . . unless you allow it to be).

The second may have any number of causes, but even if it is in some measure the result of past, bad spiritual decisions, if you are walking in the way of truth now, then whatever trouble you are enduring is meant for blessing, by testing you and training you to rely on the Lord. What that means is that you do not need to "feel bad" about being under fire. In fact, that is the last thing you should feel. You have a good appreciation of the true spiritual realities and that makes you one of a very small number – part of the cadre of serious believers whom Satan always opposes. Now we would all be just as happy not to have this "compliment", but since it is not up to us it does behoove us not to do what Job did and misinterpret the situation to our own spiritual detriment. That is to say, had Job realized that he was in the Lord's "first wave" and not being abandoned by Him at all, he no doubt would have passed the last test of the reproaches of his poor friends. Job may have had an excuse; we, on the other hand, having read the book of Job (and much other scripture besides), should understand that we are being persecuted by the evil one in Christ's stead and for Christ's glory. We don't have to enjoy the pain (clearly), but we must remember that it is not about us but about Jesus Christ, and do our best to demonstrate that we do trust Him to bring us through (please read the link: "Strangers in the Devil's Realm" in SR 4).

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me."
John 15:18-21 NIV

This brings us to your third complaint, that of a lack of personal, spiritual progress. That, obviously, is "on you" – but there is no profit in "feeling bad" about that either. If you are in a hole, stop digging . . . then climb out. You have free will. "All" you have to do is engage in the admittedly painstaking and challenging chore of working your way back into spiritual shape. If it were a question of physical shape, well, we all know how hard it is to get back into trim after, say, a long hospitalization or the like. Getting back into spiritual shape is just as hard as anything in the physical realm because it also takes a great deal of self-discipline and motivation to accomplish. As to the latter, you seem to me to be motivated to do it since you wrote this email – and that is all to the good. And the Lord provides plenty of additional motivation as well, both negative (we know how we feel and how things go when we are not doing what we should: Heb.12:1-13) and positive (the motivation of eternal rewards is one of the more important aspects of sustaining a good Christian race; see the link: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church"). Moreover we also have the Holy Spirit within us to encourage us and guide us on our way.

In short, you know what to do. Just as an athlete who wants to win Olympic gold will set up a program and "exercise discipline in all things", so we who are striving not for a perishable crown but an imperishable one ought to do so as well (1Cor.9:25). Setting up a sustainable program for yourself involving prayer, Bible reading, and most importantly daily and consistent Bible study from a good source (you are more than welcome at Ichthys) are essential. The more you spend time in these good things, the more effectively you will be fighting the fight, the more you will grow, the more you will progress in your walk with Jesus Christ, and the more you will in time come fully into the ministry Christ has in mind for you, whatever that may be. That is where the crowns of glory grow. This is life, the only one; this is the opportunity, which soon passes away. The path ahead is clear. All that is required is the effort to take it and the self-discipline to stick to it.

Don't you know that all the runners in the stadium run the race, but that only one receives the prize? Run in such a way so as to achieve what you are after. And again, everyone involved in competition exercises self-control in all respects. Those athletes go through such things so that they may receive a perishable crown of victory, but we do it to receive an imperishable one. So as I run this race of ours, I'm heading straight for the finish line; and as I box this bout of ours, I'm making every punch count. I'm "pummeling my body [into submission]", one might say, bringing myself under strict control so that, after having preached [the gospel] to others, I might not myself be disqualified [from receiving the prize we all seek].
1st Corinthians 9:24-27

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

(3) Endure hardship with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) No one on military campaign becomes involved in the affairs of normal life. [He avoids such things] that he may please the one who enlisted him. (5) Likewise if anyone engages in athletic competition, he does not win a crown if he fails to compete according to the rules.
2nd Timothy 2:3-5

(1) Since then we too [like the believers of chapter 11] have such a large audience of witnesses surrounding us [both men and angels], let us put off every hindrance – especially whatever sins habitually affect us – and run with endurance the race set before us, (2) turning our gaze unto Jesus, the originator and completer of our faith, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the shame of the cross, treating it with despite, and took His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

(12) Therefore (going back to the race analogy of v.1), pick up those hands hanging slack at your side, put some strength back into your weak knees, (13) and make straight tracks for your feet, so that, [even though you fell down,] what you sprained might not be twisted completely out of joint, but might instead work its way back to health.
Hebrews 12:12-13

Do feel free to write back any time, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Good Afternoon Robert,

I believe the scripture you've brought to my attention are the tough ones to dwell on. If it's truly a race as Paul describes, then I would have to say I feel as if I'm far behind even the Gnostics. When I look at the charismatics, I see some good people that were probably at the crossroads at some point, and they had to make a big decision in how they were to live out their faith. Theology is a big pill to swallow for most. It's no wonder you have the sort of division in Christianity you have today. If we indeed are truly near the end of the road, I think it wouldn't be of much help at all for me to kick and scream and run to some random ministry of theology school to attend in hopes of gaining favor in the eyes of God or to say "ok I'm in Gods Will now." The classic debate of "works salvation" seems to be an endless wrestling concept to me and I imagine amongst many believers who try to discern Gods Will for their lives. I'm going to reference Paul Washer once more to paint the illustration and perhaps maybe you can give some other scriptural insight. In one of his sermons, he mentions a young football player looking to take his career in the sport seriously, and he reaches out to his coach. For the sake of the illustration, let's assume he's the best coach he could possibly ask for. The coach tells him to meet him out at the beach. The football player in excitement agrees and meets him there the next day, thinking they're going to run drills in the sand and what have you. The football player gets there and the coach tells him to walk into the water with him. They start to go deeper, and deeper. They finally get far enough out and they're above waistline. The coach begins to dunk the football players head under water and holds him under to the point where he can't breathe. As the football player realizes he has to fight to the death, he finds himself grabbing hold of his coach and fighting like he's never fought before. At this point the coach finally brings his head above surface and says "When you wanna play football as badly as you want to breathe, then come talk to me and I'll train you."

Visualizing that illustration, I'm sure we could agree that's pretty heavy to grasp. I couldn't help but to ponder... Can God be this way with His people? Of course if we understand the scriptures, we know our inheritance and the finished work at Calvary has given us not only the right to come to God's Throne of Grace, but also the power to overcome sin. However, I do wonder if that illustration given depicts an accurate display of God's character as the Holy Spirit breaks us and convicts us. Is it a false humility to believe that God would so hold us under water and until we fight to the death and then for Him to say "Now you're really walking with me." Then we rejoice saying we truly know The Lord?

I cannot help but to pick apart the fact that Job was imputed righteousness to his account. So while we obviously don't need that unto salvation because of The Lord Jesus Christ, I still cannot help to see that I truly cannot relate to Job in that regard. His struggle was a righteous struggle in comparison to mine, but I digress.

I very much appreciate you taking the time to respond to my emails with diligence and loving kindness/helpful insight. I certainly don't like to just write for the sake of talking but I sincerely want to draw some conclusions as I move forward. Can we make a life application in that illustration given above as we continue to "run the race?" Is God going to pat me on the back no matter what place I come in at the finish line? I say this as I just recently watched a video on YouTube of some kid saying he had a divine revelation of hell (VERY POPULAR THESE DAYS) as he claims God said to him "you don't get a well done, you get a barely made it" as thousands of viewers in their reaction commenting saying "Oh how frightening! God please forgive me! As most don't perceive these peoples "hell testimonies" as a mere dream but an actual divine revelation. "What a terrifying revelation!" they would say. The problem isn't the fruit that these testimonies could bare. If people repented...what's to speak against these people? but the source in where these divine revelations truly came from comes into question as well as whether or not it stays within the boundaries of scripture. It's easily for even the elect to be led into error or how easily our perception of God can be warped.

I hope you understand what I'm trying to get across and ask you.

Thank you and God Bless.

Response #14:

These two examples encapsulate everything that is wrong today with sermons on the one hand and internet Christianity on the other.

To dunking first, I think anyone who has read the gospels even once and considered our Lord's gentle and generous handling of His disciples will realize that God is not like the coach in your sermon example at all:

Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father'?"
John 14:9 NKJV

In terms of the so-called revelations people are having these days (and posting on the internet and writing in books and reproducing in pay-for-view videos), it is very dangerous to believe what someone else says when we haven't seen it ourselves. There are no more prophets. There is no more divine revelation of new information during this age. If something is reported which is not in the Bible, then it is to be rejected out of hand. And what you report here is clearly not in the Bible. Here are some links on this which are important for inoculation against such threats to faith (and they will lead you to more links):

Third Party Testimony III: Near Death Experiences, Revelations and Tongues

Third Party Testimony II: Charismatic Claims of Visions, Dreams and Prophecy

Third Party Testimony I: We Believe God and His Word – Not People

There is a lot of middle ground between the formal study of classical and (sigh) modern "theology" in seminary on the one hand, and on the other hand the spiritual growth which all believers are capable of if they associate themselves with a good, orthodox, doctrinal, substantive teaching ministry and do the hard work of pursuing the truth day by day. That is the only thing that will ever help any Christian who is struggling with their faith or their sanctification or is stuck in the mud as far as advancing (usually the three are bound up in a negative complex of doubt, inertia and bad behavior). Whenever a Christian is in such a state, philosophizing about things is, in my humble opinion, a dangerous waste of time. I'm happy to answer your questions, and I do want to encourage what I see as a good desire on your part to get cracking in growth, progress and production for the Lord. Trusting Him more and more, and growing in our faith to come closer to His faithfulness is the biggest part of this, boiled down to what's essential. And there is only one way to put that muscle on our faith: spending time in the Word of God, personally and in concert with a good teaching ministry, thinking about it, believing it, and applying it to our lives ever more diligently. I encourage you to follow through on these good intentions and observations so as to right the ship and get back into the hunt for the three crowns of eternal reward – that is certainly what the Lord wants from us all. It doesn't have to be Ichthys, obviously, but I do urge you to find the right place where you can grow out of all the bad things and into all the good things that honor Jesus Christ and result in a good report before Him on that wonderful day to come.

Feel free to write me back about any of this.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

Here's what one commentator has to say on the "greater works" passage:

"Rather, most scholars agree that Jesus means we will do greater works because there are many of us. Therefore, Jesus is acknowledging the collective power His followers can display in God’s Kingdom on earth. Jesus preached and healed and raised the dead in Judea only. Now, millions of disciples exist worldwide, and through their belief in Christ and the agency of the Holy Spirit, many more miracles occur today than did in Jesus’ time."

Do you agree that the "greater works" refers to the work done by the church during the Church Age? The church, after all, is compared to a bride and a body in the NT, and while Jesus only worked around Judaea for three years, the Church worked around the world for 2,000 years.

Response #15:

I stick with my previous answer and previous posting:

Jesus' words at John 14:12 , "greater things", must mean that ministering the completed Word is greater than performing miracles. That is not the perspective of the immature, but the more we advance the more we realize that nothing is more powerful or more important than the truth. And, after all, even during our Lord's ministry (and also in those of the apostles), the purpose of miracles and signs is to call attention to and gain a hearing for the truth. That in most cases even so the truth was not received is telling. But for those of us who are open to it, it is more powerful than any miracle our eyes could ever behold.

The Word is greater than the miracles which are meant to give witness to the Word and lead to its acceptance. Salvation – a faith response to the truth – and spiritual growth/progress/production – are far greater miracles than healing someone, e.g., because if a person is physically healed, that's great, but it has no lasting meaning or spiritual result in and of itself (and we all die eventually anyway) . . . unless it leads to seeking/receiving/believing the truth. That is why our Lord made it clear that telling the lame man lowered into the house that his sins were forgiven was greater (by far) than healing Him – and He only healed him too to demonstrate that "the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Lk.5:24 NIV). The truth is so important relative to any miraculous manipulation of this temporary physical world that we should prefer it to an angelic proclamation to the contrary (Gal.1:8-9) or any heavenly revelation (1Pet.1:18-19). It's all about the truth which is "greater" than anything else, regardless of what the world with its inverted standards may think.

However, your quote about "most scholars" is very revealing. In my observation, experience, and reading of scripture, it takes a number of things to correctly interpret the Bible, to find the truth and help others see it too: the gift of teaching, the empowerment of the Spirit and a willingness to follow His lead, serious and detailed preparation in a variety of areas (most critically the original languages), and hard work earnestly applied to the scriptures over a long period of time. I will note that very few "Bible teachers" or folks who hold forth on these matters on the internet have all of these things – and many have none of them at all.

I'm very pleased that you have dedicated yourself to following the correct path for the future edification of the Church of Christ – and also that you are already bearing fruit for the Lord.

Keep fighting the good fight for Jesus Christ our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

Vincent Cheung scares me. He says that the "greater works" in the Gospel of John means greater miracles, and that anyone who is a cessationalist is a Pharisee in rebellion against God, because Jesus says that all who believe in him will go on to do great miracles.

I had a few minutes ago this horrible wave of dread that says that by rejecting the continuation of any possible miracle by faith, I am rejecting Jesus Christ.


Response #16:

Calm down, my friend. The "big lie" is always most effective when delivered in bald-faced arrogant fashion.  Confronted by sound refutation such as the ones you've advanced, the sight of someone being unperturbed and doubling down on nonsense makes many people wonder if there isn't "something there". There's nothing there. There is no "secret wisdom". If there were (or, better, if someone can be convinced that there is), then Mr. C. holds all the cards. He alone knows what it is, how it is, how it works – and he alone has the special communication from God. Next thing you know you find yourself in Guyana or Waco. Remember: just because someone says something is so doesn't mean it is so. Just because someone says Bible verse X means Y doesn't mean it's so. Just because I am nice to you doesn't mean I'm wrong; just because he is nasty to you doesn't mean he's right (2Cor.11:20-21). No one holds forth on the internet with such demonstrable nonsense without having exceptional nerve and cheek. That is not the same thing as the truth. I would tell you to ask him to do a miracle for you but I'm sure he has some great magic tricks (Jim Jones did), and I'm sure he could convince you that you were seeing something other than what you were seeing (David Koresh was good at that). Please don't get thrown by a parti pris interpretation of a single verse of scripture which is actually to be otherwise explained – and in fact it makes the truth more important than miracles rather than the other way around. From a previous posting:

Jesus' words at John 14:12 , "greater things", must mean that ministering the completed Word is greater than performing miracles. That is not the perspective of the immature, but the more we advance the more we realize that nothing is more powerful or more important than the truth. And, after all, even during our Lord's ministry (and also in those of the apostles), the purpose of miracles and signs is to call attention to and gain a hearing for the truth. That in most cases even so the truth was not received is telling. But for those of us who are open to it, it is more powerful than any miracle our eyes could ever behold.

As I say, I "would" tell you to ask him to show you a miracle, but then we also know that the antichrist and the false prophet will be "miracle workers" . . . but in the power of the devil.

Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth.
Revelation 13:14a NIV

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

"The prophet Micaiah said, 'Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the angels, both good and bad, of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, "Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?" One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, "I will entice him." "By what means?" the Lord asked. "I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets," he said. "You will succeed in enticing him," said the Lord. "Go and do it." So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.'" (I Kings 22:19-23)

It seems as if this particular spirit had a legion of spirits underneath its command, and it then commanded each one of its subordinate spirits to deceive the multitude of Ahab's false prophets.

Response #17:

Verse 23 has a singular verb (matching the preceding discussion), and even Zedekiah has the spirit going from one to another; his words are sarcastic, and of course Micaiah did not "have a deceptive spirit" influencing him, but this does show that this is the way the words of Micaiah were taken: one spirit doing the influencing. I'm not saying that it's not possible, but I can't infer that from the context.

In my experience, it doesn't take a "legion" these days to deceive even Christians, when they are immature and disinterested in the actual truth, that is.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

I feel like we've been over this many times, but it's difficult when someone who is an extremely gifted writer manages to get false doctrine stuck in your head. So I need to write these emails however many times it takes to dissuade and "deprogram" myself. My mom told me I'm the most gullible/susceptible person on planet Earth, and I am inclined to agree with her at times.

One thing I find interesting is that very, very few of the church fathers and Protestant reformers had any kind of miraculous experience whatsoever. Athanasius (from whom we get the Athanasian Creed, which used to be as important as the Apostle's Creed in church services) is an extremely interesting case, because he was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, even though RCC canonization requirements stipulate the presence of miraculous gifts to be considered for sainthood, but had no miracles whatsoever. He was simply an extremely gifted (by the Holy Spirit) with regards to teaching and pastoral care. But outside of Athanasius, we also have Calvin and Luther, and almost everyone else taking the standard view that there is no further dispensation of miraculous gifts to be had. The only exception may be during the seven-year Tribulation period, at which point God the Holy Spirit may resume these gifts for The Two Witnesses, the 144,000 Jews, and perhaps a few other believers who are doing something which requires their employment (and given the very unique circumstances of that time, it may very well be a case of "must employ them.")

Response #18:

I'm not usually big on absence of evidence being evidence of absence but this point is, as you note, supported by most who weigh in on it. As I often ask tongues-proponents, "where is the evidence that some can really do this (i.e., actually speak in a foreign language they don't know)?" I've never been presented with anything but third or fourth hand anecdotes – whereas with all the purported "tongues" today, one would think this would be visible virtually on every street corner. Instead, nothing.

I think you are a good person – as many Christians are – and your natural inclination is to take what people say at face value. That can be problematic, and that is why our Lord told us to be "wise as serpents" even as we are "innocent as doves". The Greeks had a proverb, "to swim, and to not forget to disbelieve", meaning, that if a person is going to survive in this world, first, learn how to swim (because in ancient Greece sooner or later you're going to end up in the water), and also learn not to trust something is true just because someone else says it is true (the Greeks were renowned for their ability to persuade people of the exact opposite of the truth).

I'm always happy to hear from you, my friend. Apologies for being a little behind in answering these emails.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Why do so many people seek miracles? I remember this one bit from a webcomic that may provide a clue:

EMPLOYER: If you could do anything you want with your life, what would it be?

EMPLOYEE: I would get a bona-fide lightsaber from Star Wars and randomly stick it on things while it was off, and then turn it on.

That kind of total control over reality, so as to heal others by touch or raise the dead or levitate etc... gets people high, like sex, drugs or money. Of course it would be sought after, just like sex, drugs, and money are sought after.

Response #19:

The desire for visibly supernatural miracles (that is, being able to witness them or produce them at will) is really wanting a combination entertainment and fantasy to become real in a flurry of lust. But very few people today could ever even be considered to be entrusted with the responsibility that comes from witnessing them, let alone being an intermediary in producing them. That says a lot about where we are in the church-visible today – and also why that type of miracle has occurred so very infrequently in human history: a handful of exceptional prophets, the three and half years of our Lord's ministry, and the time of the apostles (not even extending through the entire apostolic period). Whenever we get to thinking that the apostles or the prophets seem (from an insufficiently deep reflection on the biblical narrative) ordinary enough to model, it behooves us to remember that probably no one we know, even ourselves, could be trusted with, say, the gift of healing and not mess up the witness, get a swelled head, or otherwise fail miserably in living up to the responsibility such gifts entail. Another strong reason why we can be so certain that none of the (very nearly to all appearances) crazy people who assert they have them in truth do not.

Question #20:

Dear Bob,

Hope all is well with you and yours.

1) I'm confused about "Spirit"/"spirit"/"in the body or not." 2Corinthians 12:2 suggests either an angel or something else. I assume an angel but what was it? How does that relate to John's experience on Patmos?

In Revelation 1:9, John was in the "Spirit" (capitalized) but later in Revelation 21:10, he was carried away in the "spirit." (Lower case.)

Were these different words? Am I looking at a distinction similar to "God" and "god?" The NIV study Bible side notes weren't very helpful.

2) Probably irrelevant in the scheme of things but, should I understand that Micah 4:4 (...sit every man under his vine...) implies alodial title to land? Is each parcel assigned. Old Testament allocation of lands suggests it might be the case though I've read nothing in the Bible that seems to address the question.

3) In Revelation 21:24 says "...kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into [New Jerusalem.] Revelation 22:15 says "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." This suggests that either the lake of fire is outside or there is still evil. How should I understand this?

If you can point to links where you address this I would appreciate it.

And, a comment: In my 35+ years in "high tech," I can assure that most of my experience has shown me that technology is generally used for evil or purposes that lead to evil. I suppose it's like firearms. Whether used for good or evil depends on the person using them.

My belief is that we'll return to an agrarian culture. Most of technology is, as I see it, unnecessary and will most likely be destroyed in Armageddon. After all, our original purpose was to tend the garden. Genesis 2:15. If all things are restored, why should that not be as well?


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #20:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend.

As to your questions:

1) Paul's (in my view biographical) description of his vision of heaven in 2nd Corinthians 12:2-4 does not contain the word "spirit"; it does say "whether in the body" or not – meaning that Paul is unwilling to say whether his body was miraculously transported to heaven or whether he experienced what John experienced in Revelation when he says he was "in the Spirit" = "prophetic ecstasy" (which is explained at the link); I do believe it was the same sort of thing (the one difference may be if this took place when Paul was stoned at Lystra – perhaps to death – then revived later). My translation:

(2) I know a man, [a believer] in Christ – fourteen years earlier such a one was snatched up to the third heaven (in his body perhaps, or out of it, I don't know – God knows). (3) And I know that this man (in his body perhaps, or out of it, I don't know – God knows) (4) was snatched up to paradise, and heard inexpressible words which are not permissible for a man to speak.
2nd Corinthians 12:2-4

2) Ezekiel contains fairly specific instructions about the distribution of the land at the beginning of the Millennium, and so it does seem that this will be given out as an ancestral possession – with even gentiles who attach themselves to the Lord's people having a share (Ezek.45:1-9; 47:13-23). One thing to note is that the land and the share in it are earthy counterparts and shadows of the eternal inheritance we will all have in New Jerusalem.

3) Yes, this "outside" is the "outer darkness" of the lake of fire. Cf. Matt.8:12, where the "outer darkness" refers to this same separation from God (Greek exoteron, of the same root as the exo of the text here); see the link for additional explanation: "Outside the City".

4) That may well be the case. On the other hand, if the swords to be beaten into plowshares are not really swords but contemporary weapons (such as tanks and armored personnel carriers), then perhaps the plowshares will turn out to be likewise technologically more advanced agricultural implements, e.g. Blessedly, we will not only find out, but it won't make any difference to us, since we will be in our resurrection bodies at that point. One other thing to keep in mind is that the Millennium will be perfect and perfectly administered by the Son of God Himself (regardless of the level of technology, whether less, more or the same as today) – and yet at the end of the Millennium the world will revolt with great enthusiasm against their Messiah King just as soon as they have a chance, regardless of the level of technology (Ps.2:1ff.; Rev.20:7-9).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Dear Bob,

I'm sorry it has taken so long to respond. Thanks for the explanation. I had 2 Corinthians completely bollixed. For as many times as I've read that passage, I always thought he was talking about someone else.

Personally, I can't see why, after 1,000 years of peace, people would rebel. Particularly knowing it's a battle they could never win. Of course, I don't understand people. I'm looking forward to that time.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #21:

You're most welcome.

On 2nd Corinthians 12:2-4, that is what a lot of people think as well; but I'm convinced that Paul (evidenced by all he says here) is speaking of himself in a humble way – this is the sort of thing he would take boast about if he were given to boasting.

It's a head-scratcher, alright. But then why would anyone not accept the forgiveness of their sins, paid for in full by Jesus Christ, when merely accepting that Gift results in eternal life instead of damnation? And yet, the vast majority of the human race have preferred to rule themselves in this life at the price of going to hell forever rather than to bow their knee to the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And let's also not forget that if anyone had/has access to enough information to understand that they must lose, it surely is the devil.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello again,

I was going to include this in the last email and forgot. I had something interesting happen to me last year and I think it’s happening again now. I would like to run it by you and get your take, if you don’t mind?

I’m not someone who watches very much TV. If I do, it’s the old classics like Perry Mason or Emergency...something like that. I’m not into the "celebrity" of it and couldn’t tell you who anyone out there is anymore as far as movie or TV stars. I came across a show on Youtube that had an actress in it who I remember from the 70’s. I decided to watch it. This actress bought a home in Louisiana and she was looking for an answer why she was drawn to this house. Then I found out she was talking to a medium about it. I was ready to turn it off but then felt that I should keep watching it. It broke my heart. This actress was sharing personal things and really looking for answers and this medium was leading her astray. Not surprising. She fell for it hook, line and sinker. I felt during the show that I should be praying for her. After the show God continued to lay it on my heart to pray for her. I would have episodes where I would just weep for her and finally I felt like He was asking me to reach out to her. I didn’t at first. I told him I didn’t know what to say and wasn’t sure it was even what He was asking. A few nights later, He woke me up and the words started flowing. I grabbed something to write with and wrote down what I could catch because it was coming so fast. Over the next few days, I kept getting bits and pieces of things from Him and finally ended up with a letter of sorts. Needless to say, it wasn’t a fan letter. I didn’t want to send it. I told Him that I didn’t know where to send it and any other excuse I could think of. He gave me the wisdom to find her home address so I sent it to her. She never replied, which I didn’t think she would, and I sort of hoped she wouldn’t. I didn’t know what to say. I know He would have given me the words like he did before but I was still apprehensive. I’ve continued to keep her in my daily prayers. Now I think it’s happening again with someone else. Watching some TV and felt the need to start praying for someone and have been praying for them ever since.

I know God lays people on our hearts to pray for and I enjoy intercessory prayer. Have you ever heard of anything like this before? I guess it’s just so out of the norm for me that I’m having trouble thinking that it was from God. Obviously Satan wasn’t prodding me to share the gospel with this actress!

Any thoughts?

Response #22:

I think that if you are certain in your mind that God has laid something on your heart to do, then by all means you should do it. I don't second guess my fellow believers on this sort of thing; God works in all manner of wonderful ways. The main things I would tell anyone who was listening to any report of anything outside of the norm from anyone else, that is, from a third party, would be 1) "just because it happened to/for person X, doesn't mean it is/will happen for/to you"; and 2) "just becomes person X reports it, doesn't mean it really happened at all". I certainly do believe you. It is remarkable, however, the way immature believers will take any sort of report of anything anywhere nearly miraculous and apply that to their lives when there is no justification for doing so (and often without understanding the particulars correctly). I see that sort of thing all the time and have to take care that the sheep don't fall (or jump) into a pit. I also have felt the need to pray for people I only see or barely meet or know only as celebrities as well. I know that God uses everything we do in a godly way for the good in every way. Listening to what the Spirit says in His still, small voice and doing so effectively is a skill of the spiritually mature. Actually following through and doing what He indicates is the stuff of great spiritual victory. So good for you! I will also add that this is possibly the only actual "benefit" to being famous, that is, receiving prayer that the average Joe wouldn't receive; but I will also remark that from what we can see it seems to be the very rare celebrity who actually responds and benefits from that exceptional level of prayer.

Keep on fighting the good fight for the sake our Savior's Church.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In the study of Angelology you make the following statements:

#1. One can consider by way of comparison the exceptional events and exceptional miracles performed by Moses at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.

Comment: I don't believe that Moses actually did this miracle, for God is the only one who can perform miracles. God did use Moses as His servant, but He did the actual miracle, not Moses. (My opinion). The definition of a miracle the way I learned it is as follows:

"Divine intervention into the ordinary course of nature" which God must do, and man cannot.

#2. It is helpful to consider that even during the early days of the Church, when the apostles operated with exceptional powers, "spiritual warfare" as it is often termed today, consisted of very limited direct contact and confrontation with demon forces.

Comment: I don't believe that everything the Apostles did is written in God's Word, just like all the things Jesus did are not all written. Can you tell me your support for this comment? I am not trying to be picky, nor be offensive, but these two things just hit me to make a response.

As always, enjoy studying with you, even though I don't agree with everything you write.

Your friend always,

Response #23:

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

As to the first comment, I do find this in scripture:

Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
Exodus 11:10 NIV

For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Deuteronomy 32:4 NIV

Of course it goes without saying that the Lord is the One who empowered the signs and miracles:

". . . that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD."
Exodus 10:2 NIV

The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?"
Numbers 14:11

Scripture thus puts it both ways. We understand that the Lord provides the power and Moses (or whomever He is empowering) is merely the visible human agent. More often than not the way I phrase this sort of thing is as follows: "the miracles it was given Moses to perform". But scripture itself is more direct. To the world's eyes, Moses and Aaron were "doing miracles" – but of course everyone who belongs to the Lord understands that they were only able to do so through the power and direction of God (or certainly should).

Interestingly on this topic, here is how the matter is phrased when John is given to write about the two witnesses of the Tribulation, the very same Moses resuscitated for that purpose along with Elijah:

These [two witnesses] have the power to close up the sky so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophecy, and they have power over the waters to turn them to blood and to strike the earth with every [sort of] plague as often as they wish.
Revelation 11:6

As I have explained in context in part 3A of Coming Tribulation, these "powers" have to do with administering the seven warning or trumpet judgments, and we know very well from the previous chapters of Revelation that these are all planned and ordered by God and also set in motion by angelic agency – and yet their earthly "performance" is attributed to these two exceptional men. So I think this is not an inappropriate wording, at least for those who like yourself understand very well that we can do nothing at all for the Lord apart from the Lord (e.g., Jn.15:5b).

As to comment #2, it is certainly very true that not everything the apostles did has been written down and given to us just as not everything the Lord did has not been written down and given to us (and that is certainly scriptural: Jn.21:25). However, I for one am certainly confident that the Bible contains everything we need to know and everything we are meant to know. And I do know of a certainty that a desire to know things not written down has been at the heart of much false teaching since the very beginning of the Church – that motivation has resulted in the production of all manner of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical material which is entirely made up out thin air, and paying it any heed always results in spiritual trouble at the very least. I am also confident that the Holy Spirit in His inspiration and design of the Word of God has not left us in ignorance about anything important so that we are not only within our rights to be wary when it comes to things about which the scripture is not specific or silent. This is a very important point. If scripture does not give information on a particular subject beyond a certain point, it is incumbent upon all who want to push past that point to demonstrate that scripture allows it. If that is not possible, then teaching or speculating about such things is the very definition of "going beyond what is written" (as the Corinthians were doing by inventing categories of Christian division which did not and do not exist: 1Cor.4:6).

On the point itself, the Lord Himself, as we can tell by even a quick perusal of the gospels, certainly seems to have had "very limited direct contact and confrontation" with demonic forces, most of which consisted (as it later would with the apostles) of casting out demonic spirits. The most extreme direct contact our Lord did have was of course Satan's temptation of Him in the wilderness. I note that in the three temptations, our Lord, who taught the truth to the entire nation of Israel in very great detail for that three and a half year ministry, did not get into any involved disputation with the devil. Our Lord dispatched all three attempts against His perfect walk with amazingly pithy and short quotations of the perfect scriptures – and that was that. He also did not call in "twelve legions of angels" which He might have done (Matt.26:53). He did not seek this contact nor to prolong this confrontation nor did He attempt any particular "combat" . . . beyond responding to a verbally discernible temptation with a short verbal reply. In short, this is very different behavior from the sort of thing that is making the rounds these days in many "churches" and "ministries" where such contact is sought out and where "wrestling" with unseen powers in various ways is claimed. Our Lord's "engagement" with such things outside of this incident consist entirely of His casting out of demons. This is a special power given to the Special One, and never called a spiritual gift or listed in any of the many treatments of such gifts (see the link in BB 5: Pneumatology). Other than the 72 sent out by the Lord and the 12, all of whom were authorized by Him personally to do so (Matt.10:8; Lk.10:1 with Lk.10:17-20), no one else ever is said to have performed or been authorized to perform a legitimate casting out of a demon (see the links: "Spiritual Warfare V" and "Exorcism").

Of course the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and for that reason it is generally difficult to prove a negative. But in this case, the situation is somewhat more certain because of 1) the clear absence of scriptural authorization and commissioning of any direct contact or confrontation with demonic forces (when all others who did so even in the restricted capacity we have discussed were directly authorized by Jesus Christ Himself) is a clear indication that any engagement therein by any believer would be incredibly hybristic and dangerous; and 2) the fact that the actual incidents of anything in any way related to these matters by the apostles – men who held a special rank and office unique to their special time, with a gift that has never been given again – is surprisingly limited: it is far less common to hear about anything demonic in Acts than in any of the gospels (and again consists entirely of casting out demons: Acts 5:16; 8:7; 19:11-12).

As our Lord did, and as the 72 did, and as the twelve had done and did again, there were occasions when demons were thrown out. But please notice that such things happen in an incidental way. They are not key points of ministry – in fact they have nothing directly to do with what the evangelist are trying to accomplish in bringing the Word of God the people of Israel and then to the gentiles as well (whereas in our Lord's case they were signs to Israel; cf. Matt.11:4-5). When Paul casts out the demon in Philippi, it is something he actually resisted doing until becoming completely exasperated (because that was not why he was there); and he received a bad beating and a prison sentence as a result (Acts 16:16-23).

The apostles in fact, while very well aware that we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day, opposed by the evil one and his forces while aided by the elect angels, conducted their ministries just as if there were no angelic dimension whatsoever (with only very incidental and indirect exceptions, not sought out by them). If that were true even for those who had express authorization (Matt.10:8; Lk.10:1 with Lk.10:17-20), then I certainly do take it that this is the way we are supposed to behave as well. That conclusion is reinforced by everything said in the epistles where we are never authorized nor told to take any direct action or attempt any direct confrontation or engagement with the unseen forces of evil. Our warfare consists of following the Lord in spite of all opposition, much of which we do need to be aware is of that evil sort. We cannot affect such opposition in any way ourselves (outside of prayer), but we are confident of the Lord's provision to do this for us at all times (Ps.91:11). On the other hand, while there is no pattern given in Acts for the dangerous behavior many "ministries" and "churches" are engaging in today, and no mandate for any such thing in any of the epistles, there are warnings against it:

(18) Let no one gain control over your life, desiring to [enslave you to himself] through a show of false humility and the adoration of angels, basing his approach on what he has [allegedly] seen while puffed up by his own fleshly thoughts, (19) yet not embracing the Head [Christ].
Colossians 2:18-19

Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties (i.e., Gnostic "combat" with aeons and demons), whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them (i.e., demons) before the Lord.
2nd Peter 2:10b-11 NASB

In the same way these [false teachers] deluding themselves with false visions defile their flesh, reject [God's] sovereign authority, and bring slander against angels (i.e., Gnostic "combat" with aeons and demons).
Jude 1:8

It strikes me that apart from our Lord and the 72 and 12 directly commissioned by Him personally, the only individuals in history of the world who have actually had any contact with demonic forces (as opposed to faking it and faking exorcism; cf. Acts 19:13-16), are those unbelievers who have been possessed or those who have dabbled in the black arts:

You shall not practice augury or witchcraft.
Leviticus 19:26b RSV

There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 NKJV

When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
Isaiah 8:19 NIV

Believers who get anywhere near such things do so at their spiritual peril, and that is true even if they have convinced themselves that they have "good intentions", that "this is different [from the above]", and even if they are being led astray by some Pied Piper who is promising them a "fulfilling spiritual experience" or help in their troubles (as in healing them by casting out a demon – whereas in fact believers cannot be demon possessed, even though we can be demon afflicted: 2Cor.12:7). False teachers have always abounded in the church visible, but things are prophesied to get much worse before the end:

The Spirit explicitly says that in the end times (i.e., during the Tribulation) certain men will rebel (lit., "apostatize") from the faith, giving their allegiance [instead] to deceitful spirits and demonic doctrines.
1st Timothy 4:1

From all such things we who have determined to follow the Lamb wherever He leads ought to steer clear. If direct engagement with the adversary and his forces were something we were meant to do, I am confident the Lord would have told us.

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against [angelic] princes, against [angelic] authorities, against the cosmic powers of this [present] darkness, against evil spirits in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

Yes, our warfare is with such forces, but our means and method of carrying it out is the same as the pattern given by our Lord, followed by the apostles, and verified throughout the scriptures: spiritual growth, progress and production as a witness to "men and angels both" (1Cor.4:9), and to the glory of the One who died for us that we might live eternally with Him.

On "I don't agree with everything you write", it would be surprising if you did! Of course I don't write anything which I am not convinced is true. Questions such as the ones you raise are helpful in refining things, for the writer and the reader alike. I don't take credit for anything good at this ministry – the Spirit is responsible for that; but I do own up to everything here which might be incorrect in large part or in small – I am imperfect, obviously enough. To grow spiritually, however, it is necessary not only to have the truth but to believe the truth. Having the truth but not believing it is no better than not having it in the first place and may even be worse (because it builds up a resistance to accepting other truths with which one "does not agree" in the future). My old pastor used to compare this universal complaint to eating fish: "pick out the bones and put them aside" he used to say – the point being that if you have the fish and don't eat it because you are put off by the bones, then you are no better off for having the fish. But if you can put aside the things not easily accepted and not let them affect your growth through acceptance of the rest, that is better than letting the little things compromise the whole and inhibit spiritual growth altogether.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

Many thanks for your kind words as usual.

I agree wholeheartedly with all your comments. I kind of thought that your comments on the first question would be such. On the second comment, yes I agree, we must be most cautious when in comes to dealing with the demonic, as you told me previously. On my last comment concerning not agreeing with everything a person writes: I was basically told the very same thing, but in a different way concerning not believing everything someone writes. You always help when help is needed.

Some additional matters not related to this email:

I also read one of your email, as of now I can't recall the title, but it had to do with the Scriptures:

You stated: If someone is called into the ministry of teaching the Word of God, then that individual needs to have a thorough knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages.

I can say that I believe that the majority of ministers (Pastors, teachers) are only vaguely familiar with these languages. Most of them only go to 4 years of seminary, and get only the basics of these needed languages. o obtain the depth of knowledge that God has given you takes tremendous effort on your part, and I don't God just hands it to you on a silver platter, it has taken a great deal of time and spiritual sweat so to speak.

I would also say that most of the ministers, at least the ones I know don't even scratch the surface of the knowledge that you have, very few put it the required effort. I can speak for myself, I spent around 15K to 20K hours of study to obtain ordination as a minister, and it was not easy. In addition to those hours, considerable time was given to taking a multitude of exams. But again, I only scratched the service of what is takes to become a good teacher. I do rely mostly on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, along with other studies of reputable scholars like yourself. I know almost nothing of Greek and Hebrews, so I would guess that it is a hindrance to me. But at my advanced age do I really have the time and money to attend school to learn these things?

I do my best with the help of what the Holy Spirit gives me by His anointing and do my best with what God has given me I hope.

An old Pastor once told me this: you can know all the Hebrew and Greek you want, but there is something else that lies behind this knowledge. What he meant was, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Does not Jesus say in the Gospel of John, that when the Holy Spirit is come, that He will lead us and guide us into all truth.

I am not downplaying at all the knowledge that you have, and I commend you for that. God does what us to apply ourselves as you certainly have, but at this stage of my life, it is a bit late to get started now, would you not say? Yes, some would say, it's never to late. What is your opinion, as I value it dearly.

May great blessing and grace rest upon you always my friend,

Your friend,

Response #24:

Thanks – and I do appreciate your comments.

Let me put it this way. If we were talking about farming, a person who devoted himself to learning about agriculture, apprenticed in it, and then worked very hard at farming once he'd gotten his own plot might produce a good crop. If so, it would still be the Lord who sent the rain, made the soil fertile, warded off catastrophic weather, insects and the like, and caused the seed to grow. Such a person could well rejoice in the bountiful crop but would be well-advised to give the Lord the credit. On the other hand, a person who did not bother to learn about how to farm, never actually did much of it before acquiring a plot, then didn't work too hard or too diligently in actually farming it and cultivating it, might also get some sort of return – after all, the Lord is still the one who made the soil, the sun, the rain, the seed. But would we be surprised or think it unfair if person A had a much bigger crop than person B? God honors preparation, humility and hard work in all things. We can't all do it all. There is limit to the time, the energy, and the resources we have – on top of that, none of us is making use of what we have as efficiently as we might. That is true of all. But even so, some make better use of what they have been given than others. That is why, even among those who are doing things the right way, there is still a distinction between "30, 60 and 100 fold".

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1st Corinthians 15:10 NIV

No doubt the Spirit makes up for deficiencies in us all, and even if we are "working very hard", as with Paul in the verse above it is still "the grace of God" that allows us to do so and that brings the results the Spirit's power. But all this is not a reason to do less of what we know is good to do. Rather it is a motivation to do more of what we know we should do. If the other eleven were deficient compared to Paul, it is clear that we who follow in their footsteps are more deficient in many ways. We are all "worthless servants" (Lk.17:10) – which again ought to be motivation to strive to do better day by day rather than an excuse to justify doing less. So while it is wrong to compare ourselves to others (2Cor10:12), and pointless too inasmuch as no two people have the same gifts or circumstances, we can certainly get in the habit of taking our own spiritual temperature so as to push toward the "red hot" and away from the "lukewarm".

I know that the Lord honors everything you are doing and have done for the Church of Jesus Christ, my friend! Keep up the good work that we may rejoice together at your bountiful reward on the day of Jesus Christ.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 NIV

In our dear Savior Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hello Bob,

Your messages always give me inspiration to keep going. I have a lot of experiences but not a ton of Bible knowledge. Its so helpful when you apply the Bible quotes. I often tear up. They actually fit and feel right. I have had times in my life where someone will open their Bible and go on about what I need to know or need to apply like they were superior or knew what was best for me. I really didn't like it. It felt wrong. I couldn't ever explain why it bugged me. In the past I have said the next person that opens the Bible and starts preaching just their opinion I'm going to run fast. Im so delighted I met you and your writings. What a beautiful gift you have.

When we took our name off the Mormon church role I had this anger against these people. Every time I drove by the church building I couldn't help but have this anger against them. After many times passing it (which was almost everyday) I got fed up with myself for feeling this way. I didn't want to be in this place anymore so I asked God to help me. I know every time I go asking I'm in for a trial and I don't want to have to go through it again so I better get it the first time. When I was young I was raised that if someone did something to you or was evil in general that you needed to hate that person. I have now realized its not the person but the choice they make and that its not to hate them but hate the evil choices and doings. Evil I can not endure. Especially in the last months.

I do have a question I was going to send in my last email. Do you have anything I can read on the meaning of numbers? [details omitted]

[hard times hard times details omitted], but I know and trust everything is going to be just fine.

As it already is in Jesus Christ!

Thanks Bob for your time!

Response #25:

You are absolutely correct that it is the willingness to lose or give up everything that counts. Obviously, we cannot function in this world without food and clothing – and in our modern society it is impossible to do anything without a good many other things besides. That was true in the ancient world as well and no doubt why our Lord told the disciples just before He was arrested . . .

"And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing." Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one."
Luke 22:35-36 NKJV

This is not the Millennium nor the Garden of Eden. But there is a big difference one the one hand between a Christian who understands that things are dust and only have any true efficacy to the extent that they help us on our mission to get to Zion, growing, progressing and serving Christ in the process, and on the other hand an unbeliever who is bustling about trying to acquire and store up as much money and as many things as possible – as if death was not about to take them all away and not knowing who will end up getting them (Ps.39:6; Lk.12:15-21). To be effective for Christ, we have to have that sort of warrior mindset, recognizing that in this combat in which we are engaging there will be many unexpected attacks and much loss along the way, but understanding that we have the perfect Commanding General who knows intimately all of our needs and will never fail to supply us and keep us in the fight – so that we ought never to let ourselves doubt His faithfulness (Heb.13:5). He is right here with us whether we see Him or not (Heb.11:27), and we don't have to "wake Him up" (Lk.8:1-3). Our job is to keep our eyes on the prize and keep moving forward rather than seeking rest in this life, as if we are going to cross some sort of finish line while still here on earth. Our finish line is when we see the Lord face to face, whether we endure until His return or He calls us home before that blessed time. And we can and should have peace and joy right now; every day is our Sabbath (see the link). In fact that is part and parcel of the mature Christian life and walk, a peace and joy that are not dependent upon circumstances and that cannot be taken away by adversity. This is not easy stuff, and it's not the sort of stuff most lukewarm Christians today want to hear. But in fact it's the only route to true happiness in this life as opposed to the pseduo- "myth happiness" the world falsely promises and never delivers (see the link).

In terms of what has gone before, it's no secret to anyone who has read the New Testament that we are supposed to forget the past and especially to let go of all rancor we may feel toward others because, after all, we have to forgive others if we expect God to forgive us (Matt.6:14-15; Mk.11:26). Moreover, if we are always looking backward, we are inevitably going to stumble as we try to move forward because we are not looking where we are going. A big part of the "gear" a mature Christian needs on this journey is the ability and the willingness to see things from God's point of view; to see the big picture, not allowing him/herself to be always swept under by the little, local picture. Even when it comes to those who have done us the most wrong, we do know that Christ died for all of their sins as well and that God wants them all to be saved (2Pet.3:9). This will not happen in every case of course (free will), but it is true that they as with all other human beings are only here on earth to sort things out in terms of who is willing to be with God forever and who is not, and in the case of those of us who dearly love the Lord and belong to Him, to find out just how much we do – that is the basis for all eternal rewards. So we do know that things are not what they seem to be to the world at large. The more we grow the more we come to appreciate these precious truths, and the less we tend to "take it personally" when we are beset with the troubles that all believers have to face – all who are really trying to please Jesus Christ, that is (2Tim.3:12). Being consistent about this and learning to have peace and joy in Christ as we rest in Him at all times even in the eye of the storm is something we all need to work on, however.

It is not as if I have already gotten possession [of what we seek] or am already brought to completion, but I am pursuing in hopes of attaining the [prize] for which I was attained by Christ Jesus. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. As many of you as are [spiritually] mature, let us think this way, and if you think in any other way, even this will God reveal to you. But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:12-16

As to numerology, for the most part the spiritual significance of numbers is far less than is generally believed by world at large. There are biblically significant numbers, it is true, but usually numbers are just numbers. On the other hand, there is a veritable cottage-industry of groups and individuals out there in the ether these days, many who claim to be Christians and to know something about the Bible, who wish to invest numbers with far more spiritual significance than they actually have (and it is dangerous to do so). So my approach to this subject is to see significance in numbers in the Bible only where the Bible says or indicates that they are in fact significant. But there are no mysterious "codes" to be found therein (for example) despite the fact that many make this claim. It is important to remember that our system of "Arabic numerals" (which are of course not really Arabic) is a fairly modern adaptation; into medieval times they still used Roman numerals, and the Greeks (and so the New Testament) had a different system entirely. What that means is that the appearance of numbers as we conceive of them today would have been entirely alien to everyone who wrote the Bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And so, for example, when we see different representations of "three sixes", we need to remind ourselves that John who wrote Revelation in the Spirit would not have recognized our six as a six at all. Here are some links on this:

The number 666

Numbers and symbolism

Bible codes

So-called "Chronicles project"


The Number 20

The Number 40

The Number 12 (question #4)

153 Fish: Explaining some Difficult New Testament Passages

I'm keeping you and your family in prayer day by day. I know you are going through some hard times, but I can also see from my detached perspective that the Lord has used this experience to spring you and your family free from many bad and destructive influences, and also to open up for you a way forward spiritually. In the end, these things are so much more important than any day by day tribulation. So while it is true that "a man's trouble lies heavy upon him", nevertheless through the grace and mercy of our Lord "there is a time and a way for everything" (Eccl.8:6 ESV).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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