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Eschatology Issues LVII

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

I'm pleased you got my emails. I didn't receive your reply to my first one so Gmail must have been having another bad day!

I had a busy but good day at work today and my face still has the dents to prove it - back in tomorrow for some more fun!

__ both work in a hospital with Covid patients and they had the vaccine last week and are feeling fine. I think __ just had a bit of an achy arm for a day or two. So thankfully no bad reactions there.

I went to see my sister and my nephew on Monday and it was great to see her again. They're both so much happier now she's home.

I hope your week is going well for you too.

Just about to click "Send" and hoping it lands on your side of the pond and on your screen!

Keeping you and yours in my prayers and thanks so much for yours too!

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #1:

I think the G-mail outage has been resolved. Very strange.

Great news about your sister! I keep her and your nephew in my prayers daily.

I'm getting some rest (weather is not conducive to too much else here at present). Sorry you've got another day back in your in-dent-utred mask servitude.

I'm also encouraged to hear that people are not dropping dead from the vaccine. They wouldn't tell us about that on the news, of course, so I trust your first hand report much more.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

[omitted]

Response #2:

It really is true: people do NOT change. Not, at least, unless and until they become willing to let the Lord change them.

I feel very bad for ___. It is amazing to me how abusive people can have total amnesia about untold good things done for them whenever they want to wax ornery. I have seen that many times. What believers need to keep in mind is that we are not emotionally invulnerable, and that if we fail to heed the Spirit's warnings about staying away from things and people and situations it's best to steer clear of, then we will not be immune from the consequences. And whatever pain and regret there is from staying away, doing the right thing is always less painful and problematic than being foolish. If I had to guess, I would guess that the evil one is trying to make sure __ does not follow through on the impetus given for returning to the Lord.

Yes, the world nuts and full of nuts (sometimes I feel a bit pistachio myself). But we are not of this world, even though we are temporarily in it. How glorious it will be on that great day to come when we are all one perfect Church, without any rancor or division, all in perfect peace and joy, glorifying our Lord in song as one magnificent choir – and never striking a sour note.

Meanwhile, we'll have to keep tiptoeing through the cashews until that day of glory.

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

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

[omitted]

Response #3:

It's nice that we see eye to eye. My prayer for people who have been abused and pressured into co-dependency in the past is for them NOT to be sucked down that black hole ever again.

Here's hoping you all can put all this behind you a bit and salvage a happy Christmas.

Having a delightful break here (and willfully ignoring noise from the job).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #4:

Dearest Professor,

It’s wonderful to hear from you and I am sorry I never replied to this - for some reason it ended up in my junk (your emails never usually do!).

I have been following Ichthys’ weekly posts and I have been making my way through the recently completed Bibliology series - I wanted to wish you a slightly belated but sincere congratulations, what wonderful work! What a series this is, might I add. A testament to your perseverance but above all to the grace of our Lord in your life. I always imagine what it would be like seeing even just the Basics series printed out on (more than) a few shelves in a Library. With this said, it’s about inoculating our hearts with the pure truth, whichever format we may find it in vs. reaching for the medicine cabinet in moments of need. You do write about this earlier on in Peter’s epistles I believe - letting the Word of God seek deep into our hearts, into the very foundation of our mind and spirit. I consider it a sincere privilege to be a student under your ministry, and the grace and goodness of our Lord to lead me towards it.

I read somewhere where you had remarked it could have indeed been the first series you started with. How very true. I’m really eager to absorb as much as I can from this Professor. My zeal has ebbed and flowed recently due to my own self-inflicted failings, but largely down to not being immersed in the Word as I should be. Never any coincidence there. We know this is what is is all about - the Word, the Logos, Jesus Himself, the central point of human history and God’s plan. Hence why I receive this series with great joy.

I read the last 2 weeks of the semester have been remote for you if I am not mistaken. I imagine lots of marking and email comms? I hope you get some time to “withdraw” over Christmas. I do find remote working takes its toll far more than face-to-face may do. My business has recently switched to almost 100% remote due to the imposed restrictions. Whilst I have been able to continue my sustenance, the challenge has been the constant digital notifications, making it difficult to commit to “deep, concentrated” work. I have therefore switched to having a work phone and a personal phone - at least I can switch the other off whilst keeping one for family and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Professor, I wanted to ask a question but needless to say no obligation to answer and only share whatever you feel comfortable with. Regarding managing your duties as a Professor, email comms with students, family, time for exercise, but above all - prayer, Ministry preparation and production - how do you manage to fit it in, and keep it sustainable? Although my commitments are undoubtedly infinitely less, I often fail miserably at "fitting it all in", coming to realise it’s not sustainable and end up burning the candle at both ends to the point of exhaustion. I understand this comes down to personal application, but if you had any principles to share I would sincerely appreciate it. I always try to start the day with the Word and end the day with the Word. The latter is where I need to be more disciplined, as it’s very easy for the weeds to creep in I find. I know I can do more, but “more” can only come from being controlled by the Spirit as trying in the flesh will result in more miserable failures, I am sure.

I hope you, your brother and all your family are keeping well.

Thank you for keeping me my family in your prayers even after all this time. You are in mine daily, until I take my last breath over here and the Lord takes me home.

Your student in Christ,

Response #4:

I've heard about this problem now from several people, namely, my notification email going to junk. Hard for me to understand as it was sent to you individually (not to a list) and had no HTML code in it whatsoever (I deliberately left out the link to BB 7 for just that reason). I'm sure if I were telling you you'd just won some foreign lottery it would have gotten through AOK. Perhaps it has something to do with tech companies cracking down on anything resembling truth. I have noticed over the past two weeks that Ichthys website traffic has sunk to new lows.

Nevertheless, thanks for the great and encouraging email, my friend! And I wouldn't worry about a little let down in Bible study while in the midst of all this trouble. Military training, after all, is preparation FOR the fight. While we're "in the fight", we often don't have the time or energy for more training at that time; we get back to it once things cool down.

As to getting things done, honestly, it wouldn't be wise to put me up on a pedestal. I have gotten things done . . . gradually and over a long period of time. So the thing I have found most helpful is being consistent. Mind you, it's not as if I'm 100% on that or anywhere close. But it is true, I have found, that a reasonable amount spent nearly every day will result in things getting done over the long haul. I preach to my students, for example, that half an hour spent on Greek six days a week is far more useful and effective than six hours once every two weeks – and it's also the case that most of us don't actually have the oomph to do that six hours when the day rolls up for us to have to do it. So my advice is not to worry about the past and not to focus on what hasn't been done yet, but to stand in rank, shield up and spear down, and keep advancing step by step, day by day. In the end, you'll find you've made good progress if you do so.

I'm pasting in here a book review I thought you might find interested – in the meantime, wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Praying is at least a useful thing doable for me.

I aim for 3x a day like Daniel, but don't usually hit it.

Response #5:

Wow! Three times a day is great!

Never underestimate the power of prayer or the VALUE of prayer in the plan of God and in this fight we are mutually fighting.

Thanks so much for the ones sent in my direction!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

I read what you said when you went to an unfamiliar state with just your car and belongings and didn't have things ready there (where you would stay, or the money for food). And I really admire that you can do that, and people that can do that. It is thriving in chaos.

I do hope you have a good break. Please do take care of yourself.

Response #6:

I'm glad I don't have to do it again today!

But of course if the Lord calls upon us to "flee Babylon" it will be a case of giving up everything at that time, and on a moment's notice.

We'll all have to wait and see how many of us are still left down here to be able to respond to that command when it does come. A good many of us will be martyred once the Great Tribulation begins.

My policy is to take one day at a time. We only have to deal and cope with what the Lord has given us "today", and we can't really know anything about "tomorrow" – except that we DO know that one great and wonderful "tomorrow" awaits us, when our Lord returns (or takes us back to be with Him).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I realize you are quite busy, but when you have time I would appreciate your thoughts on Melchizedek. In particular, how he is described in Hebrews 7, and less in Genesis 14. I have read of some making comparisons between him and our blessed JESUS CHRIST in that both are referred to as being from GOD.

Thanks again for all you do, and always know how much your work is appreciated.

Yours in CHRIST,

Response #7:

Good to hear from you.

Here are the three best links at Ichthys for this question:

Christ the First-Born, High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.

Melchizedek and the high priesthood of Christ

Melchizedek (keep reading beyond first response)

Paul does make the comparison in Hebrews, but Melchizedek was a person, not a Christophany as is sometimes wrongly supposed (link).

Thanks for the good words – wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Bob,

You have, indeed, completed a magnum opus. What an accomplishment! I well remember the good times we had with our Bible study with you, ___, our Chinese friend, and me.

I am busy these days home-schooling my 10-year-old (fifth grade) grandson every day.

Have you been teaching virtually? How is that going?

Take care. Stay safe and healthy.

Peace and blessings,

Response #8:

Great to hear from you!

Is your church there back meeting in person yet?

Seems like it'll be quite a while before they're handing out the vaccines to folks in Louisville who don't have some special reason to get it, but we are teaching in person at U of L -- at least some of us are. I'm personally contributing a large percentage of the department's mandatory minimum of face to face "hybrid" instruction, teaching 75% of my classes in person (most seem to prefer online in order to stay away). The campus is a bit "ghostly" however, since we are probably all told at about 25% of on-campus classes as opposed to "normal". Enrollments are terrible but I was all alone last fall in "our" section and will be again in spring as my one PTL is elderly and doesn't have the computer resources necessary to teach remote. I had to teach Latin 101 in an auditorium built for 120 for my 30 enrollment (otherwise I would have had to teach them in relays). Also, we had such ups and downs with the virus and exposures to it that I had to make all sort of accommodations for students who had to miss classes – some of them for the entire semester. Who knows how well they learned Latin and Greek, even if they passed the exams! We do have a good tutor who did that online, but it's definitely not a normal year. I did have to teach online at the end of last semester when the university pulled the plug after spring break. What a HORRIBLE experience for many reasons. So I resolved never again unless forced into it. I hope that won't happen in the spring, but cases have been spiking in KY. Nothing yet from the administration about changes in "the plan". It seems to have worked. Very few of those who got sick did so from coming to campus (they got it elsewhere for the most part). Still, I've been waiting on doing my spring syllabi until I know for sure.

The load of "all this" has been massive. I essentially got no summer break (clean up from a messy spring, prep for fall, taking classes on how to teach online, et. al.) and the fall was much harder than an average one. This situation has forced many elderly colleagues into retirement. But I'm still here . . . and will be (God helping me).

Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas and a BETTER 2021.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers every day.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Professor Robert,

We wanted to send a big thumbs up from our Youth Ministry group! They needed ideas for activities and readings for their home Bible study so your recommendations here are perfect:

https://ichthys.com/Bible-Study-Resources.htm

Sadly we can't meet in person because of the pandemic, a few of our members have been meeting virtually to make newsletters with activity ideas for our congregation- I'm totally amazed by their wonderful efforts! Right now they are putting together Bible study tools for families still stuck at home. That's how __ discovered your website which gave us a lot of material to include! They wanted me to pass along their gratitude.

If you have any other helpful tips feel free to share.

Thanks again, it's very cool to make this connection during these hectic times. Please take care!

Response #9:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for the positive comments.

It's been a minute since I've updated that particular page, so apologies for any broken links.

This entire ministry, Ichthys, has been entirely online since it's inception in 1997! There are a lot of materials available here, but mostly in-depth Bible study (I recommend starting with the Peter series; at the link). You should also check out Bible Academy (link)

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

My pleasure re my kind and complimentary words re ichthys, and your investment. I cannot begin to tell you how blessed, challenged, confirmed, affirmed, enlightened and stretched I am, by your writings. Again – thank you. If all the Lord had you doing was writing for just me, you have passed along a great blessing to a small scale teacher whom the Lord uses for His purpose. Of course way beyond that, I am quite sure many are impacted by your insights and revelation coupled w your academic excellence. Great skillset!

I see we are about the same age – me little a bit older. I graduated college in __ - a design student on alcohol and drugs, living quite horribly, in abject darkness. My journey to salvation is nothing short of miraculous. I should have been dead many times from horrific lifestyle, poor choices, and even worse. Our Lord drew me to CA where he kindly ambushed me in a Jesus-Movement church. Wild story. All glory to him. Lots of miracles, healings, some supernatural encounters along the way. And through it all I became happily addicted to the radioactive word of God. So finding ichthys was discovering treasure.

Back to the ‘70’s – it appears that while you were faithfully serving our country I was marching on Washington, campaigning for my own destruction. But for God……...

Since then and by His grace, this disqualified Jewish kid from Brooklyn has been bent on doing as much damage to the kingdom of darkness as the Lord would allow. Psalm 24 – Jacob – named the deceiver, disqualified immediately even by that very name, is invited to the front of the intimacy line because he had chosen to chase His God. We’re qualified by our great God. I am determined to be one who seeks His face. Selah.

Again, many thanks.

Blessings to you, yes in His name.

Response #10:

Good to hear back from you.

Thanks for this great testimony, my friend!

I hope you'll keep in touch – and do feel free to send along any typos you find any time (that's always appreciated).

If I don't hear from you beforehand, here's wishing you a happy Christmas – if you celebrate it. In my old neighborhood in Chicago many of my friends had "Hanukkah bushes", so it was festive all around. Wishing you a good time with family and friends in any case.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

I’d be delighted to stay in touch.

We do celebrate Chanukah – this year a teeny birthday calendars because Franklin TN is not a haven for Jewish holiday supplies. If the dedication of the temple was important enough for our Lord to celebrate, it’s important enough for us. And hey – when you consider we’re all celebrating, functionally, the hybrid-winter-solstice as being our Lord’s birth, when in fact the (John’s daddy) Zacharias family-line (Abijah I think, offhand) temple-service assignment may well have positioned our Lord’s birth mathing-out closer to Feast of Tabernacles, apparently there’s lots of slack and wiggle room when it comes to celebrating what and when (other than the Lev 23 “forever” and “all-generations” admonitions re the observance of Yom Kippur, etc.) I digress!

___ and I thankfully walked through covid about 3-4 weeks ago so we are carefully/happily on a plane to LA from TN to visit our kids and grandkids.

In 2018 I wrote a short piece re NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY, citing 1620 as our forefathers’ first covenant and then looking forward to 2020 as a likely and probable “action year” for our Lord, so I am not surprised re the still sort of mild troublings happening, although I admit to be surprised at the format. I personally flew out of NYC late Feb almost to the day that covid hit, w the toy industry (in which I work) perhaps bringing hundreds or even thousands of businessmen from the HK toy fair in January to the NY toy fair in February. Crazy times. But to be expected. Again, thank you for how the Lord clearly utilized you, in advance of these days.

Another wild one on my personal journey of timing was also being in NY 9/11/01. I had told ___, as I left for NY 9/8 or 9/9 that I was anticipating my time there would be special days. I had no clue how special. I worked at a counseling center, first-aid, equipment station a few blocks from ground zero.

So here are – living out our Lord’s plans. What a great time for us to be terrorists for the Kingdom of Light!!

If you ever want to read:

www.ez3728.com is my website that does not contain my name (as I was under investigation by the Israeli govt in times past when I applied for citizenship several years ago). There’s also itunes podcasts at EZ3728. EZ3728 of course is a scripture address of WHEN the nations will understand something critical to our Lord’s plans. I am thankful for His faithful to His (and also my own) stubborn Jewish people!

Blessings,

Response #11:

I'll check it out.

As to "stubborn", well, it's not the worst characteristic to have – if it's pointed in the right direction.

Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Romans 11:5 NKJV

It's good to know yet another member of the Body who is part of the original olive tree into which most of the rest of us are merely grafted in.

Safe travels!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Yes and amen!

And btw my mom and dad and several Jewish aunt's uncles and cousins came to their Savior before their last breath. The Lord is so faithful.

Merry Christmas.

Response #12:

That's a wonderful report!

I'm sure that your prayers and witness had something to do with that.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Merry Christmas Bob,

Yesterday’s Nashville blast was a wild wake-up call to our region, although we are in LA right now for a few days visiting family. Isa 30 - Assyria coming down w tambourines - constitutes prophetic revelation of the authority God has purposed in advance for holy worship for end times purposes. Drums and shofars being musical instruments of war, tambourines and harps point to the festival worship. And here’s Nashville, Music City, being called to preparation, surrender, far greater-than-current sanctification for the great outpouring. Great days, amidst the great troubling to come, as you so well know!

My family members (and also several specific friends) encountering our Jesus has been tattooed w the supernatural fingerprint of God, time and again. An older Jewish cousin prayed and got saved the very day before his final breath after the Lord had me on an LA to NY overnight flight where I then recounted, in his hospital room, the dream the Lord had given me a few years earlier about a Jewish uncle running through a cowboy town. In the dream the Lord was standing behind me and I said: “___ can’t run”. (Uncle ___ had suffered w crippling polio His whole life). I had reached out to ___ many times over his life, but it was a difficult ministry because of his handicaps which included speech and severe hearing impairment. But God of breakthroughs and break-ins ( Baal perazim as David aptly declares) broke through. The Lord said in response to my noting that paralyzed-___ could barely walk in his natural life assured me: “he can now”. The presence of the Lord in my cousin’s hospital room, as I told him that story, pulled my cousin to prayer. So he’s running w ___ these days. God is so faithful.

There’s many more wild and crazy adventures like that actually, but praying this AM I felt to mention this one to you.

We’re truly living in great days. Tough days, great days.

God bless you my brother,

Response #13:

What a terrific testimony!

I'm always particularly encouraged by news of "last minute" conversions – because so many of us have friends, family and acquaintances we've witnessed to over the years to no obvious effect. Yet we keep them in prayer and hope for just such wonderful results before it's too late (whether we're blessed to hear the details ourselves on this side or have to wait to see them on the other).

"Tough days, great days" – true words! And a terrific perspective, one to hold onto. Not easy, but helpful and spiritually salutary . . . and very needful once the Tribulation begins.

Wishing you a safe and happy time out there and a good return trip.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

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

I was reading the 2nd chapter of Matthew and was wondering if Herod was trying to kill Christ the child because of Satan. Does Satan communicate directly with world leaders?

I know Satan approached Eve through a serpent and he "moved" David to number Israel and how did he move David I have no idea

Response #14:

Hello Friend,

In this case, I don't think it was necessary. Herod doubtlessly did not believe . . . in anything except himself. As far as he was concerned, HE was the only rightful king of Israel, and anyone believed to be the Messiah was a great threat. So his desire for terminating this "new king" is completely understandable. Indeed, Herod would have had to have believed that this visitation by the Magi really was "of God" to have reacted in any other way, ruthless person that he was.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

So, does Satan contact world leaders to carry out his counter attacks?

Cain, Nimrod, Pharaoh come to mind?

Response #15:

Dear Friend,

For the mechanics of satanic contact, please see the link: SR 4, section V, "Satan's Tactical Methodology".

Just how the devil "plants suggestions" is not described in scripture, but we've all been tempted on many occasions, so we all have some understanding of the process. Generally speaking, the sin nature and the system of evil that the devil has constructed is sufficient to influence the world in the directions the devil desires. There is demon possession, but that is not necessary for the minions of the evil one to exert influence. For of course the devil has MANY agents, seen and unseen, who work to advance his cause. We see this happening from the very beginning where the devil used a familiar agent to convince Eve that the truth was not the truth.

So I would say that the methods employed for leaders are the same as the methods Satan uses for everyone else. The only difference would be the premium that the devil places upon those in positions of power and authority: there are definitely "special envoys" assigned to such people (cf. Dan.10:13-21). Satan is skilled at tempting people to do what he wants, and in fact his entire world system is designed towards that end (see SR 4 generally; link).

But if you are thinking of the devil having personal conversations with world rulers, the only biblical evidence for that is his temptation of our Lord, and that was special for all manner of reasons. Scripture says that Satan "incited David" to perform the misguided census that resulted in the plague (1Chron.21:1), and we can be sure that no such personal conversation went on in that case; rather, temptation through suggestions no doubt from less than spiritually right associates or some such means must have been used.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

First, thank you for your excellent website. I enjoy it. I first emailed you some time back--it seems like I had enjoyed the series on Peter. The Biblios series is also wonderful. I learned a lot, and still am reading it.

Question: When did Satan fall from heaven?

Merry Christmas, and Blessed New Year.

Your friend in Christ,

Response #16:

Hope you are doing well!

I emailed you a little while back to tell you about the completion of Bible Basics with part 7, "Bibliology", but I've heard from a lot of folks that such emails didn't get through or ended up in the spam folder for some reason I can't figure out.

As to your question, Genesis 1:1 describes the original creation. Angelic creation is not mentioned therein, but we deduce from scripture generally that the angels were created sometime thereafter and continued in holiness for a spell (it might have been eons). Eventually, Satan grew arrogant and caused a revolt for his own purposes – desiring in essence to replace God. This happened at some time after original creation (and after the creation of angels of course) and sometime before the judgment that God leveled on the devil and on the entire universe as a result. After rebelling, Satan was apparently allowed to rule the earth for some time – to demonstrate no doubt his inadequacy as a ruler and the hollowness of his promises to those who followed him. At some time after that, the Lord pronounced judgment on the devil and his followers, blacked out the universe and filled it with the tehom, the universal "deep". Just how long that situation endured, again, it might have been eons, we do not know. But Genesis 1:2 describes the situation thereafter and then we are told how the Lord re-created the world for habitation by mankind as His answer to the devil's revolt. All of this is covered in the five part Satanic Rebellion series (at the link).

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas as well!

In Jesus Christ our Lord, the Savior of the world.

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello doc Robert.

Sir I would like to ask for your prayers. I am in a bind right now financially, emotionally and spiritually. I really really feel like giving up.

Please pray for me. Thanks doc and God bless you.

Response #17:

I'm sorry to hear this, my friend. I have been praying for you (and for your business and your marriage) and will continue to do so. Spiritual growth is always challenged, so try to keep growing in spite of the pressure – it turns out that this is the best way to handle it too. Remember that the Lord is on your side – and He has never ever let any believer down, not one time.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Psalm 37:25

Cast your burden on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22 NKJV

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV

In Jesus Christ our Rock of deliverance,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Thanks doc Robert. Please continue to pray for me & my family. Currently, I am jobless and my business is down.

God bless you sir!

Response #18:

I'm very sorry to hear this, my friend!

I have been and will continue to pray for you. I've also updated your prayer request on Ichthys.

Nothing is impossible for the Lord (Job 5:20; Ps.33:19).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Dear Professor

Thank you for your kind words and wishes. I too, wish you and your family a joyful Christmas week.

We are away for a week on the south coast. Have been blessed on our way. As I am always flat out and did not have time to prepare properly for the trip, various little things are likely to occur.
Saturday left home in our little coaster bus, dropped in to see our son at the grain bins and met his girlfriend and his mate’s girlfriend. Arriving at Esperance, some 500 km from our place, we of course discovered no pegs for our gazebo, so nicked into the hardware store, our youngest came running in to tell me we had a flat tyre front passenger side. With some help managed to change it in about 2 1/2 hours (quicker if you are kitted out right). In my tired state I had forgotten to loosen the nuts while it was on the ground - that didn’t help a lot, especially as it was five bites of the jack lift to raise it off the ground. Dark when we decided to leave setting up gazebo until the next morning.

The spare wasn’t much chop, so yesterday bought 2 new tyres. I had noticed on the trip my front shockies (shock absorbers or dampers) were shot, so I ordered and am picking those up today. Most of the mechanics are of course flat tack until mid January, and when he quoted at least two hours on top of price parts, that decided me to tackle the job myself. Hope the spanners I brought along will do the job. The price wasn’t a shock as I had expected them to be quite pricey and they were. I had changed the cheaper back ones awhile ago.

At my later stage in life I am rediscovering the “working holiday”.

Monday done the boat trip out to Woody Island. Water was rather rough and my wife had a hard time of it, though a pair of sick bags done the job. Our son loved holding onto the railing on the front of the boat (needed to, to not get blown away). Saw some lion seals and he saw dolphins on way back but I got stuck talking to some 7th Day Adventists. Forgot about your business cards but he typed in Ichthys website into his phone notes. They are pretty well set in their way of looking at the scriptures. Hope I have still got his card so as to give him a ring. I told him about your great non denominational teaching site. He left me with a couple of leaflets.

It is a heatwave back in Narrogin and in Perth city (strange how people that you don’t hear from for awhile, phone you on your one week holiday). Much cooler here, though has been too windy most days. Great for the wind surfers.

Keeping you and your family and your Ministry in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior.

Your student

Response #19:

Happy to hear that you are on holiday - - but sorry to learn of the "vehicular testing" you've had to go through. It's been a long time since I even considered working on autos – ever since I got the Passat a few years back. The old Volvo was held together with spit and bailing wire so that was a different story. But even with that old buggy a lot of things were electronic and needed a diagnostic kit to figure out (even though it was so old even there that most mechanics only had newer versions). You're fortunate the bus didn't coming jumping off the jack! So the Lord is looking out for you, even if some testing is not to be avoided.

Wishing you a good and happy holiday – and a safe return.

Out for Christmas shopping tomorrow. No jacks in my future, one way or the other (I let others fix flats at this point).

Merry Christmas!

In Jesus Christ the true Messiah.

Bob L.

Question #20:

Dear Professor

Good to hear you are out doing your Christmas shopping tomorrow, the last day. It is still before us as we haven’t really bothered this year and with contributing funds to the local economy for repairs and parts there is not leftovers for it anyway. The old bus needed presents more than us.

Holiday is going great. Our young lad’s turn to be a chuck chunder fan today. That first day of full frontal wind winded him and today’s outing in the national park was a bit much as the wind hasn’t stopped blowing hard since we got here. Great coastal beaches and hills, some of which you can almost get out of the wind hiding behind. Meanwhile our home town is in for a couple of 40C days from tomorrow. We are arriving back the day after at 31C.

One of the two 7th Day Adventist chaps we met went through our home town today and dropped off an ‘abbreviated copy of the book “Great Controversy” - but at the wrong house. It had a school bus there so he thought it was mine. Not permitted to keep my bus in a residential area so mine is at a truck depot.

I reminded him to check out ichthys.com He said he would when he is off the road, hopefully in a week. He also wrote: “Amazing facts.org is a good site to check out, Pastor Doug Batchelor is an excellent Bible student and speaker! I have been blessed by him for many years now and can recommend him, and his site.”

Doug Batchelor is the Adventist I wrote to you about recently. He said he would be happy to take a chip or mark “because in the Bible it doesn’t mean a physical mark, so I have nothing to fear”. [Nothing to see here, and nothing to fear here!]

Let us pray that ___ is open to the truth from scripture and not to drivel from Doug. Not to be disrespectful, but to warn of these false shepherds teaching lies. Doug teaches the exact opposite to what you teach on 2 points that easily come to mind; the mark of the beast, and the Sabbath day.

I was not really seeking Doug Batchelor (again, or even the first time), but seems he was out to find me - like adherents to many a lie, may do so again presently. With them, the Pope is the antichrist. I will see if ___ actually gives your site a fair look at. He seems fixed on Doug, though God can do anything.

Talking of Christmas gifts, I am so thankful for yours to me through Ichthys. We out here living in the world need the truths taught above all other earthly gifts.

Thank you seems inadequate to say (and it is) for your generous offerings through the word which you diligently teach. A true shepherd caring for the flock.

Have a wonderful Christmas season.

In Him who makes all seasons truly meaningful, Jesus our dear Lord and Savior.

Your student

Response #20:

Thanks for the update and for your good and encouraging words. I'm always impressed by your consistent sharing of the truth and doing battle on behalf of those who are being led down false paths.

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the vacation and trip home – and a really blessed Christmas.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

Hope you've had a lovely day.

I've just broken up now for Christmas! I was at work today and should have been in on Christmas Eve but I booked that day off as holiday. Our boss ordered us all pizza after work tonight as part of our Christmas present. Nowhere else is open to go and eat but pizza suits me just fine - loved it! I'm really looking forward to Christmas now. __ are coming over to ours for Christmas dinner which will be great! I'm just about sorted and ready to go! We're only allowed to mix now on Christmas day rather than for five days because of the increase in cases.

And ___ who is 81 had his Covid vaccine on Saturday and thankfully he's fine - no side effects at all. He's having his second dose in a couple of weeks. This new variant of the virus is causing some problems. We'll be in for a spike in cases after Christmas.

Keeping you and yours in my prayers. Thanks so much for yours too.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #21:

Christmas week has started off well. Not much on the agenda this week except rest and enjoying the time off. Glad to hear that you have got some time off from work too! Thanks also for the update on the vaccine. These are uncharted waters. "Word of mouth" is definitely not to be dismissed given all the disinformation and confusion coming down from on high in the past few months. In CA, restaurant owners are still waiting to have it explained to them how people eating in separate parties at picnic tables six feet apart is a problem needing to be shut down. We got a notice from U of L that when the vaccine becomes widely available it'll be voluntary. Of course that was said that about flu shots in August and told us they were mandatory in October. Things are changing rapidly. Yet another reason for me to see procrastination as a strategy in regard to next semester!

Sounds like you have a lovely Christmas planned! The menu is set here (prime rib and a ham so as to be able to bounce through to the new year without needing any serious re-supply).

And thanks for the help! Corrections made and uploaded. I surely appreciate your sharp eye, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hi Bob,

I'm very happy to hear that rest and enjoying your time off is on the agenda for you this week. I love your Christmas menu too! That's exactly what I'd do if we celebrated Thanksgiving over here. I'd be all "turkied out" by the time we got to Christmas. We've got our turkey now and I think just about everything else we need and I finished wrapping all the presents today - so we're all good to go. It will be quieter this year but I don't mind, I'm really looking forward to enjoying the day with my family. We always have such lovely Christmases together and I'm very thankful to the Lord for how much He has blessed me.

Yes, so far there's been no problem with the vaccine for my family members. Admittedly they're all very fit and healthy and with no other allergies. My friend messaged me yesterday too and she said her sister has had the vaccine (she's a nurse) and had no problems at all. So that's four people that I know of personally.

[omitted]

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #22:

I do hope and pray for a very happy Christmas for you and your family, my friend. We're off to buy the "joints of meat" tomorrow – here's hoping we haven't left it too long. When I went to put something in UPS today, the line was non-existent - quite a surprise! But the pricing was through the roof (we've become used to free shipping through Amazon I suppose).

Thanks for the great report about your "witness of the life". It's really impossible to hide out true attitude of heart. It will come out. Even if we think we are suppressing grief or anger or annoyance or whatever dominant emotion, it's obvious to some at all times and, if we are really in the grip of it, obvious to all. That's true of peace and joy and hope as well. So a good report card for you!

I also commend your approach when it comes to this issue you mention. I've never been shy about the gospel, but I'm also not in favor of hitting people over the head with it when they are not only not asking for it but obviously not interested in hearing it. "Pearls before swine" (even if we don't think of them in those terms personally, it's a spiritually judgment after all). For anyone who has constructed their life around a pattern of behavior which is contrary to the truth, be in this regard or some religious or political engagement which is contrary to Christ, there isn't much point in direct engagement unless and until the Lord opens up an opportunity. They have to come out of that fortress – at least for a look see – for there to be any realistic hope of openness.

Thanks for the vaccine reports too! A lot of this on the news here but still don't know anyone who's had it or scheduled for it.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

Thanks so much for your prayers and good wishes for our Christmas! I hope and pray for the same for you and your family too. I hope you managed to get your joints of meat today - I'm sure you did. I went shopping for a few more bits today - there's always something I forget! A few more queues today but I'm definitely done now. I know what you mean about getting used to the free shipping at Amazon too. I've used them a LOT this Christmas.

Thanks for your encouragement on the "witness of the life". The church I went to when I was a teenager used to teach us to witness to everyone even when it was clear they weren't interested. I never felt great about doing that and I couldn't bring myself to do it. I've grown in confidence now in making those spiritual judgements and I think being prepared for when the Lord opens up any opportunities and listening to the Spirit is the best way to go. Better to be gentle and respectful towards others. It's one of the many valuable lessons I've learnt from you - thanks! I don't feel guilty that I'm not hitting everyone over the head with the gospel. You can't force people to believe - they've got to be searching and to want it. We can always keep praying for them in the meantime.

Keeping you in my prayers!

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #23:

Yes, success in our outing today! Pre-ordered the ham and walked right in on the "fast line" to pick it up. Those not so blessed to have had the foresight were queued up around the block waiting their turn!

Thanks for your testimony on witnessing too.

Have a great Christmas Eve (used to be big here in the states – but that was before Covid).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

___ seems to be very slowly on the mend. "The greatest story ever told" was on tv today when he was resting in bed and he was fascinated by it. I've had the odd chance to witness to him on and off and hope my care for him has shown him Christ's love. I pray for his salvation over all.

Today I was thinking of a friend of mine in Seattle who I lost to suicide a few years ago. It's a shame as even though he wasn't a believer I'm sure he would have been curious enough to listen and I could have witnessed to him. If only I knew then what I knew now, I could have told him about Jesus. I am trying to contact old friends now and trying to witness to them albeit subtly. It sure is harvest time now. Plenty of people questioning everything and wondering what is going on.

I'm listening to the radio in the kitchen a lot and they are talking about Jesus a lot and playing hymns. Seeing as they don't often show interest in Him on secular radio, I can't but help think if it is preparation for the deception.

Also watching a PBS series on the dust bowl years. To think what we will go through will be much, much worse. However I am more confident than I have ever been in God's provision and deliverance having experienced it myself now more than once!

London has moved into "Tier 4" as a new strain of Covid has moved into town. It isn't meant to be more lethal but instead more contagious. So Christmas has officially been cancelled here although really it is all about Christ everyday in our hearts after all.

Things are finally resuming back to normal here. I hope tomorrow to pick up my study and bible reading where I left off and get back to my videos again. I've been living in a strange twilight world with no outdoor walking or anything other than paramedic visits, cooking, nursing, cleaning and sleeping. This has been my world. I realise for some this has been their entire life.

It has been a blessing though as I have leaned ever more heavily on our Lord and the Holy Spirit. It has been so humbling. We are so vulnerable to illness, injury and failure that I can't imagine why anyone is still resisting God's grace especially through such bleak times as these. Surely people need hope more now than ever rather than less?

Your friend in Jesus,

Response #24:

Always good to hear from you – and very good to learn that things are settling into a little more normality (in this sea of abnormality). I have heard of course of the new wave in England (this used to refer to music but now plague!). I do hope you are taking care to stay healthy with all the various contacts and activities you are engaging in – and getting plenty of rest too (time to catch up on that now – we're all more vulnerable when we are worn down, emotionally as much as physically).

You make a great point. I initially saw a spike in interest in Ichthys when all this started, but things have been cooling off ever since, and traffic is down to its lowest levels in years at present [and still dropping as of 12/26/20]. I am hoping that once things settle down, people will be able to get back to studying the Word – as in your case, for example – since all of this dislocation has been placing a big load on everyone. That is understandable. This ministry trains Christians for the fight. When we are in the fight and it is raging furiously, it's often the case that we need to do as you have been doing, namely, use our training to fight that fight, and get back to training once the fight subsides.

Things are good here. I've been taking my own advice and decompressing after an "interesting" year. Next week or soon thereafter I'll have to be ratcheting things back up in preparation for the spring semester. It was a blessing to be able to get BB 7 out the door before the break.

It's a great pleasure to have you as a friend in Jesus Christ.

Keeping you and yours in my prayers – and thanks so much for yours as well.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #25:

A very Merry Christmas to you Bob,

I hope you have a warm, peaceful and happy Christmas, with plenty of time for reflection, study and prayer. Give my best to your family and friends!

We have already received our Christmas gift: eternal life with our beloved Saviour Jesus Christ! The feast I long for is the wedding feast of the Lamb! Look forward to seeing you there!

Remember..

"And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Amen.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

In Jesus,

Response #25:

Thanks!

We had a perfectly delightful day, and I hope you had a nice Christmas as well.

Wishing you a much easier 2021!

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #26:

It is Long Since Time to GROW UP!!!

Ephesians 4:14-15 - "As a result, WE ARE NO LONGER TO BE CHILDREN, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, WE ARE TO GROW UP in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ..."
Hebrews 5:14 - "But solid food is for the MATURE, who because of PRACTICE have their SENSES TRAINED TO DISTINGUISH between good and evil."

Folks! I want to preface this two short YouTube videos by stating that I'm not into the "Exposing False Prophets" business. Yes! There are occasional times when the following instruction should be applied, such as, "Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them."
The problem for me is when a ministry feels obligated to being a 24/7 foundation of it, and thus, is providing a necessary service to the Body of Christ. Now, for such a function to be a genuine spiritual fruit of a corporate entity or an individual's walk in the Lord is one thing, and a Biblically valid thing.
But, to be a ministry whose sole (soulish?) purpose for existence is in providing a 24/7 "Witch Hunter" service to the body of Christ? No! There is absolutely no Biblical basis for such a narrow and negative "ministry." Any so-called "Watchman," and there are plenty of them, who believes he/she has been called for such a purpose, I will categorically state that they are NO WATCHMAN," let alone possessing any Biblical understanding of what a TRUE WATCHMAN is.
Furthermore, aside from arguing about the degree to which such ministries are allegedly needed, the fact that there is such a perceived need at all for such 24/7 ministries along these lines, where they constantly feel that they have to call out every false prophet and teacher by name or else they will not be identified is an embarrassing and dangerous indictment upon the Body of Christ.
While true Biblical discipleship leads to maturity, indoctrination maintains immaturity, relying on a steady diet of "Leaders" as the plumbline for truth as opposed to growing in reliance upon one's own ability to discern based upon the Scriptures as the ultimate plumbline and the bearing of witness of our spirit by the Holy Spirit. Relying on others to tell us who and what is of God and what isn't has nothing to do with discipleship and equipping. It is comparable to the difference between discipleship and indoctrination.
I have selected these two videos as, hopefully, instructional examples, not to identify the obvious by the calling out of names. To me, there isn't much to be learned from that and don't find it particularly instructional. The first video is by someone all too well known as opposed to the second who is not nearly as well known. However, as is typically the case, there are common threads.
More specifically, what does have the potential for being instructional is discerning the content of the messages, the character of the vessels through which come these so-called "prophetic words from the Lord" and the spirit and way in which they are given.
So, for anyone who cares to do so, I would be interested in hearing your assessments (examination, judgment) in light of the considerations I have mentioned, either to confirm or reaffirm our level of discernment and/or to provoke us to endeavor to sharpen such skills as will be increasingly necessary in the days ahead.....
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1847182005424653
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woUy96U72g0

Response #26:

Thank you friend!

Question #27:

Dear Sir,

First of all I like to thank you for your service to the Lord as a blessing for many people.

I like to comment on the first 2 emails (#1 and #2) from the Eschatology Issues LVI that was posted on 12/19/2020.

The two emails brought up issues of Christian churches in Communist Mainland China. I totally agree that Jesus does not want the Church to be preoccupied with earthly politics. His kingdom is not of this world. However, the senders of those two emails seemed to defend and justify the persecution of Christ's Church in China by the evil godless Christ-hating Communist regime! They seemed to be blaming the Chinese Christians for being persecuted as their own fault! How dare they justify an evil anti-God regime and its lawless actions against God's people? What the Communist regime had done is even against its own "laws" and "constitution"! How can any Christians justify the persecution of their brothers and sisters?

Full disclosure, I am a Christian (Chinese). My great-grand father, a Christian pastor suffered at the hand of the Communist after they captured Mainland China in 1949. He was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. Many of my families, not all Christians, were persecuted and suffered under the cruel and terrible rule of the Communists. God spared my grand-parents and my parents that they escaped to Taiwan and they enjoyed the freedom to worship and enjoyed other freedoms and prosperity as well.

The two emails sounds like propaganda pieces coming from the Communist Party of China. They claimed that registered churches have "freedom" to worship as long as they do not touch politics and does not preach against the government policies. However, they failed to mention that all government controlled Three Self Churches are completely controlled by the Communist Party from the top. Sermons have to have prior approval by the Party. Bibles were printed but cannot be sold freely. Seminaries are controlled by the Party. Only members of the Three-Self Church can buy Bible and they still need to register to do so, in order for the Bibles to be tracked. Portraits of mass murderer Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and current Chairman Xi Jin-Pin are put in front of the church in place where the Cross would usually be in a church building. Chairman Xi is also in the process of changing the Bible so that it would fit the Party's ideology. And the two composers of the emails ignores all these and blames some Christian churches for wanting a free nation where they can truly worship without being persecuted?

Can you blame any Christians in China wanting freedom? Hoping for outside forces to come and deliver them? I understand God had put the Communists over Mainland China and over my people, but how can you fault Christians for speaking out against evil regimes? Can you ask them not to pray for deliverance and not to pray for the overthrowing of the evil Communists? If we are ruled by evil rulers are we to pray for their longevity that they may long reign over us? Should not Christians speak out against the sins of the world, including the sins of the government? I definitely agree that Christians in China should not look to the United States or the West as a savior. Only Christ can truly save and keep His people and His Church. Nevertheless, shouldn't Christians speak out against the evils done by the government? If Christians in China want to speak out against the evils done by the Communists they surely would be accused of meddling in politics and be persecuted.

Communists and Communism is anti-God since its founding. Its foundational philosophy is against God. So the excuse that they only persecute Christians churches because they "meddle in politics" or got foreign connection is a lie! It's Communist propaganda that we have seen over and over again! After the Communist conquered Mainland China in 1949, they began to use "foreign connection" as an excuse to cut of the churches of China from the brothers and sisters outside. Communists expelled all foreign missionaries in 1950 and created the "Three Self" churches that is only a white glove that would allow the Party to have control over the Church. Communists did not persecute churches only because they get political. They hate Christians, religions and anything they cannot complete control!

I am sorry for the rant, but I cannot believe a true Christian can side with the anti-God, anti-Christ Communist Party of China against his brethren in Christ. These two emails are an attack against the underground churches of China, the persecuted churches of China. Yes, Christians should not take up arms and rise up in rebellion against the authority God has put in place. But we should all pray that God will bring down this evil Communist regime that has shed the blood of hundreds and millions of people, including millions of Christians.

Please do point out any of my errors if you see any from the Biblical perspective. And I pray that people would see through the propaganda and lies that are put forth trying to justify the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ by the evil Communist regime that had 1.4 billion Chinese under its boots.

God bless,

Response #27:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thank you for your kind comment. Thanks also for the background and perspective.

To begin, I think it would be helpful to keep in mind what we are talking about here. I personally know nothing about Early Rain church or its situation. When I received from one of my correspondents the "testament" of the pastor, I posted it (at the link) and agreed to pray for the church and those being persecuted. This I have continued to do (and plan to continue to do). I certainly wouldn't want to say that any Christian "deserves persecution", and I would also hope that all Christians everywhere would be praying for actual born again, born from above believers in Jesus Christ who are being persecuted wherever in the world that is taking place. That is certainly my policy and one which I encourage others to adopt as well.

As to the essence of the emails posted at the link you mention, I believe it was in accord with what you have said in your opening paragraph, namely, that "Jesus does not want the Church to be preoccupied with earthly politics". Of course it does go farther than that, applying Rom.13:1-7; 1Tim.2:1-2; Tit.3:1-2; 1Pet.2:13-17 to the situation.

Objectively, there are several questions here, and conflating them will not be helpful:

1) Are Christians supposed to be preoccupied with politics? We agree that the answer is "no".

2) Are Christians allowed to use legal means to influence the government they live under? The answer here, I would suggest, is "yes . . . but". In the USA, my own rough estimate would be that the majority of actual believers are to one degree or another involved in such activities. Have they suffered for it? If so, only in some few case – as far as the government is concerned. Being ostracized and opposed and even to some degree oppressed by non-Christians as a result is a growing trend of the "cancel culture" that is quickly subsuming this society. A bigger problem is that it is virtually impossible for Christians who are committed to political crusading to grow spiritually. This is both because on the one hand this consumes the time and energy they might otherwise employ in spiritual growth, but on the other hand also importantly because they are looking to fix the world by their own efforts instead of relying on the Lord. That not so subtle lack of faith undermines everything good.

3) Is it wrong for Christians to oppose their government by extra-legal means? While there may be situations and circumstances which make the definition of "government" germane to the answer, in general the answer to this question is "no" (Rom.13:1-7; 1Tim.2:1-2; Tit.3:1-2; 1Pet.2:13-17). Please see "Eschatology Issues XXXXX" (starting with question / answer #31). I think you will see that you are coming into this discussion at Ichthys in the middle and not the beginning and that is part of the reason I feel you are somewhat mis-understanding our friend who wrote those posts.

The question before us here is about a specific church in a specific country and a specific situation. As my own reaction to the testament and then second-guessing when more information was provided makes clear enough, this is a matter of application not of principle. If church X truly is "doing nothing wrong" then that is one thing; if, on the other hand, they are violating scriptural principles, that is another. In terms of the church in question, as I've stated above, I don't know enough about that church or that situation to weigh in definitively. As stated, we all hate persecution, and we all hate godless governments; but as believers in Jesus Christ, we are told to pray for our government, even when we don't like it, and endure persecution, should that be our lot, rather than take up arms against those who are persecuting us. It's no secret how I personally fell about communist regimes (and all totalitarian regimes), and your indictment of this particular regime is beyond reproach.

So what do we do?

We can pray. Our friend is certainly not suggesting that we not pray – and I have requested prayer from the readership of this ministry.

We can also learn. What is happening to Christians in communist and Muslim countries around the world is not unusual in the history of the Church nor an impossibility here in the west in the future. Indeed, during the soon to come Tribulation, such persecution will be worldwide – and it will be worse. So how we respond to what we see today is in some respects a litmus test regarding how we may expect to react when the Great Persecution begins. Taking up arms will be a mistake; active opposition will also be a mistaken approach – in my considered view (the one which is taught at every place in this ministry). I believe that our friend's emails were meant along these lines, even if they may have "rubbed some the wrong way".

So when you say these posts "seemed to defend and justify the persecution", I would disagree. And when you say they "seemed to be blaming the Chinese Christians for being persecuted as their own fault", I think instead that my friend was sharing a cautionary point of view that this ministry also adheres to: we are to stay out of politics, and if we do venture into that dangerous arena, we can expect consequences. We are commanded to be good citizens but not to do things the Lord forbids or refrain from things He commands.

China is a big country, and one about which the ignorance of those in the west like myself without family and active Christian contacts there looms large. No Christian would be in favor of or defend the restrictions you categorize. So it all comes down to individual cases. When you say, "Nevertheless, shouldn't Christians speak out against the evils done by the government? If Christians in China want to speak out against the evils done by the Communists they surely would be accused of meddling in politics and be persecuted", this is where we part company. No, I do not think Christians "should" – as if it were a Christian responsibility to oppose government; scripture teaches the opposite, without regard to how evil it may be, as long as it is "the" government which has been established. Seeing no other in China, I think it would be difficult to support a theory which claims that the present government there is not "the" government from a biblical standpoint, or that because it is evil that therefore Christians not only do not have to respect it but "should" speak out against it. For in my own reading of history, "speaking out against" is merely a precursor to action, which inevitably leads to violence.

This same choice will soon confront every believer on earth when antichrist assumes control of the entire world. We are going to be persecuted – there is no way around that fact. The question is, how do we respond? I find no scriptural mandate for "speaking out against" evil – rather we believers should continue to speak out FOR the truth, regardless of the consequences in building each other up through that truth.

I continue to pray for the church and individuals mentioned in the first post (to which these two posts you find fault with respond), and I am also loath to weigh in on the specifics of the case (I don't know enough about it). But I can also say that I fervently disagree with a position of using worldly means to oppose governments which are in place, no matter how distasteful or unquestionably evil they may be. As I often point out, Peter and Paul put this issue of obedience to government in no uncertain terms – and pagan Rome and her agents were guilty of persecuting them throughout their ministries . . . even unto death.

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10 NKJV

"These two emails are an attack against the underground churches of China, the persecuted churches of China."

Perhaps this is best place to draw a distinction. Here in the USA we have many established churches. But there is little good taking place in the vast majority of them. That goes for seminaries too. I dare say that if the government here had to approve sermons before they were given it might actually improve them. Seriously, sermons don't do anyone any good in any case. This ministry, Ichthys, while not "underground" in the sense of hiding, is certainly "non-traditional" in the extreme. If established churches in this country began to adopt radical political strategies (which, it may be noted, some are in fact already doing) and did so to the point of aggravating the society at large and the government in particular with the result of giving Christianity generally a bad name . . . and thus making it harder for Ichthys to "do it's job", I certainly would not be appreciative of that. Similarly, if individual Christians in China are reading whatever scriptures they can get their hands on, praying and encouraging one another with the truth, witnessing with their lives – and words when there is an opportunity for response – and meeting secretly for the purpose of edification (rather than sermonizing), I am (and have been) a proponent and a fellow prayer warrior for their success and deliverance. Such individuals and groups if persecuted are most definitely "sharing the sufferings of Christ". But for established churches which take and advocate for political positions, I am at the very least not surprised by negative consequences given the evil nature of the regime which you so effectively point out – and I am left to wonder whether or not they are making things more difficult for non-established groups which are just trying to get by and do what the Lord actually wants them to be doing.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for taking time to answer and reply to my email. I appreciate your kind gesture in replying to me. Thank you for explaining the situation regarding the emails and the prior conversations that took place. Personally I only read a little about the Early Rain Church and the issues involving it awhile back. However, my comments were directed towards the general situation of Christian churches in Mainland China.

I do apologize for my brashness of tones due to the closeness of this issue to me personally. One thing I would like to mention is that this is not the first time I have read similar arguments or explanations for the behaviors of Communist Party’s persecution of Christian churches. The Communist Party is using these kinds of argument to their advantage in trying to impose control over the churches in China. That is why I wanted to show these arguments are really just tools of the Communist to justify their persecution of Christians.

Here are the points that you have made in the reply:

(1) Regarding Christians or the Church’s role or relation to the secular authorities, I agree that the Word of God is very clear that we are not of the world and His kingdom is not of this world. The Church should not seek help or salvation from any men or government. But God does use men of the world and governments of the world to advance His causes as we have seen many times in history. God uses nations and governments to “assist” or help His Church to advance the Gospel and fulfill His purposes.

(2) Christian using legal means. I agree with your assessments on this point. It can be a distraction for many of us. However, as Paul exercised his rights of a citizen to seek justice within the Roman judicial system, I believe Christians can do that as well. It really depends on how God would lead the person in their individual situations.

(3) Can Christians oppose the government by extra-legal means? I guess one clarification is needed here for the definition of “legal”, legal according to whose laws? For example, Communist Party of China forbids the preaching of Gospel (proselytizing) to anyone under age of 18. So it is illegal to talk to one’s children about Jesus. So if Christian parents preached the Gospel to their children, they are breaking the law. The CPC (Communist Party of China) would view it as an action against (opposing) the government and deem the offender “Anti-Revolutionary” criminals. So in this case, it is clear that we should obey God rather than men. So I guess the “extra-legal means” should be referring to means that is outside the Law of God. However, what about Rehab? What about her lying to king’s men to protect the two spies of Israel? She opposed her government by lying and she broke men’s law and God’s law. Of course lying is wrong, so how do we treat her case in our theological thinking? To be honest, I don’t know!

I do apologize that I have jumped into the middle of this conversion, but my comments were aimed at the ideas that “Communist Party of China are justified in their actions against the Church”.

Quote from Email#1:
“You might imagine that the Chinese government sees this mingling of religion and politics as a threat, especially as the NYT article mentions the US President’s involvement. My son in China says that registered churches are allowed to operate and are kept an eye on to make sure they are not meddling in politics. Even Independent churches are permitted to operate as long as they follow the same restrictions and don’t get too big so as to pose a threat to the established regime.”

The Communist government did not persecute Christians just because they mingled politics and religions. As you well know, the Communists hated the Church because they hate God and they hate Christ. So to promote the idea that churches were persecuted because they mingled into politics is helping to promote the talking points of the Communists. And for the record, the Three-Self Churches and other “above ground” independent churches are ALLOWED to operate with serious restrictions. These restrictions are so severe that if we are to take Jesus’ command of the Great Commission seriously, we are bound to break the laws and rules of Communist Party, such as preaching to the children. “Let the children come!”

Quotes from Email #2
“Looking at a map of China one can see it is surrounded by different nations with different ideologies governing them. Historically they have suffered some great losses to these nations. Long borders; they want to protect themselves from outside forces. Now they fear that Muslims (figure quoted about 20 million) and Christians (60 million) pose a threat from the inside especially as these call upon outside political forces to pressure China and to allow them to criticise the president of China.

From the perspective of my relative in China, the noisy Christians have made it worse for those who just want to worship quietly and leave politics and the king to run the country. The crackdowns are, in part, response to this criticism of the President and the political alliances these Christians have and are seeking from Western governments to “liberate” them.”

These are talking points of the Communist government for justifying their oppression on the Chinese people! Historically, the worst enemy of China was not foreign invaders. The worst wars of China were all internal strives, bandits, rebels, government armies, corrupt bureaucrats, horrible rulers, famines, flood, etc, etc. During the Three Kingdom Period (189 to 280 AD) 4/5 of Chinese died from internal strives. The barbarian invasions, Mongols or the recent Japanese invasion did not cause as much death as we Chinese had killed our own.

Chairman Xi Jin-Ping did not launch new waves of persecution just because they are criticizing him. Chairman Xi wanted to renew the faith in Communism and return to the root of Communist ideologies of Mao. Xi made it very clear in his speeches and policies that he wants to rally entire China around this new Chinese Style Socialism. It is erroneous to attribute the persecutions launched by the Communist simply to some political actions of some Christians.

These two quotes, I believe, are simply propagating Communist point of views, which simply are not true. Communists are experts at propaganda. They can turn white into black and black into white through their carefully crafted lies and half truth. That is why I felt the need to speak up against this propaganda.

I am not proposing Christians in China to rise up in arms to overthrow the evil Communist government. However, back in the late 19th century, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a Christian, led the Nationalist Revolution against the Manchu Dynasty and established the Republic of China in 1912, which still exists today on Taiwan. What he did was not in accordance to what God teaches us in the Bible, but China was free and the Gospel was able to be preached freely during the time of the Republic. God did allow or used Dr. Sun to bring about change in China. It is very true that the Church in China began to really grow exponentially after the Communist took over. So I totally believe that God has His purpose in placing the Communist in charge of China.

However, I believe we need to know the lies and deceptions of the Communist government and the ways of how they attack and vilify the Church. And I don’t believe Christians should buy into the Communist propaganda or helping them spreading those thoughts and ideas.

Question:
(1) How should Christians live under an anti-Christ regime/government such as Communist China, Bolshevik Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and many others? I agree that the Word is clear that New Testament Church should not use violence and force against authorities (be it evil or good). You mentioned that we do not have to “speak out against evil” rather we should “speak out for the truth”. I agree and I also think that speaking for Truth and speak out against evil are the two sides of the same coin, as prophets of old were called by God to testify to Truth by speaking out against evil.

I completely agree with you that we should and need to pray. God is in control and He is taking care of His people and His Church over there in China. He puts the Communists in charge for His reasons and purposes. And I should not pretend that I know what God is doing. One thing I do see is that God used the Communists to totally break the 4000 years old tradition and cultural bondages of China. Once that bondage was broken, the Gospel can begin to grow. And persecution serves to purify the Church and to encourage real spiritual growth. I have no quarrels with you in all those Biblical points you have made.

Thank you for your kind response in taking time to reply to me. Your replies really encouraged me to think more deeply about the issues. I need to pray and seek God myself to understand more of what should we do, as Christians in the US have begun to face an openly hostile authority. Or shall I say that the always hostile authority in the US has now revealed itself and persecution of Christians are on its way to become the norm as in Communist China.

It is an honor to be able to suffer with Christ. As you have mentioned that the Great Persecution is coming. And if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him.

Thank you again for your ministry and the extensive Bible studies on your site. I have been greatly blessed by your service to the Lord.

May God bless you and your ministry!

Sincerely,

In Christ,

Response #28:

It's my pleasure.

"my comments were directed towards the general situation of Christian churches in Mainland China": It's a big country with many churches of many different kinds (and with much going on that probably even well-connected observers like yourself are not aware of); so it is problematic to make general pronouncements of application when we don't understand the totality of the circumstances we're weighing in on. We can affirm what scripture says (obey authority); we can affirm what is obvious (this is an evil government which persecutes Christians); and we can pray for our brothers and sisters there in general and in particular (when things such as this incident come to our attention). Can we also hope and pray for justice on earth? Certainly. It is coming . . . at the second advent. But no one is going to "bring in the Millennium" before the time. Only Christ can and will do that, once He returns.

". . . these arguments are really just tools of the Communist to justify their persecution of Christians". I can assure you that no one on this end is doing that. Here is an excerpt from an email from our brother whom I copied on my response to you:

"From my relatives in China I am somewhat aware of the situation for believers in China, though obviously not in the firing line to have first hand experience. I apologise if my email gave the impression of siding with the communist regime. I do not. I pray for Christians wherever they may be. In the very near future we are all going to need faith and prayers to a degree previously not seen."

I think that says it all.

1) "But God does use men of the world and governments of the world to advance His causes": Indeed. For example, God made use of Assyria to punish Israel. But that is no brief for Assyria, and no brief for being pro-Assyrian. God makes use of evil spirits too (link). He made use of the devil to test Job to demonstrate his righteousness and to teach every believer important lessons valuable for all time. But that is no brief to be pro-Satan, obviously. So the fact that God may make use of any means is no argument in favor of the means and also no argument for embracing the means or siding with the means.

2) "Paul exercised his rights of a citizen to seek justice within the Roman judicial system": Paul exercised his rights to keep from being assassinated. If a Chinese Christian is being persecuted by the legal system as Paul was, I don't see anything at all wrong with making use of whatever lawful means exist to defend oneself. But that is a far cry from, for example, criticizing the government or organizing a demonstration or sit-in which is technically legal but which one knows full well will cause a reaction. If you kick a rattlesnake, you may be bitten. It's no good complaining to God afterwards that the Genesis 9:2 promise, "the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth", should have been your protection. That is jumping off the temple and expecting angels to rescue you – that is putting God to the test. If you live in a valley plagued with a profusion of rattlesnakes to such a degree that it's difficult to walk anywhere without stepping on one, you'd better learn to walk carefully – or you might want to consider moving to another valley. Is that possible for every Chinese Christian? No, but God deals with us all as individuals and that is how this question needs to be handled in any case, namely, what is the right thing for Christian X to do? God does in fact deliver individuals. He got your family out (and I know other Chinese Christians who have gotten out as well).

3) This is really the nub of the matter. If you read the prior link, you'll see that in my opinion it is very dangerous to declare any ruling government illegitimate because it does things we do not like, even if many of those things are inconsistent with its own principles or fundamentally anti-God. How was Rome – where worship of pagan gods and the emperor were mandatory – any different in this regard? And yet Paul says writing to Roman Christians in Rome "there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God" (Rom.13:1 NKJV). And here is what Peter says:

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—
1st Peter 2:13-15 NKJV

It would seem to me that actively opposing a regime when it is not necessary to do so is the very opposite of the above. Is the regime stopping us from praying? We will pray anyway. Is it stopping us from meeting to encourage other believers with the truth? We will continue to do so. Is it stopping us from reading our Bibles or from having Bibles? We will do what we can to procure Bibles anyway and read them anyway and will be willing to suffer whatever consequences we must. But getting angry and organizing and asking others to intervene on our behalf is a worldly approach. I do understand it. I dare say it is the approach that 99% of Christians in this country adopt as a matter of course, so it's not as if Christians in this country have any right to find fault with others for doing what they would do in spades if the shoe were on the other foot. But my job as a pastor-teacher is to alert my flock to the dangers of doing such things, especially since during the Tribulation such a course of action may be fatal to faith. It may well be that the apparent "savior" in coming troubles will turn out to be antichrist. In fact I think it likely (see the link: CT 3B). Whenever we abandon scriptural guidance to do what our emotions desire instead we are always running a risk of spiritual peril, and that will be doubly true during the Tribulation.

As to the two quotes and your commentary thereon, as mentioned above, I have no special knowledge of the situation in China and I defer to your expertise. I will say again, however, that our brother's comments are meant to be salutary and not critical: we should all take care to stay out of political involvement. If there are (and I'm sure there are), situations where believers are charged with political involvement and that is not the case in fact, then we silence evil by doing good (cf. Rom.12:21), and we look to the Lord to deliver us if we are wrongly persecuted (Ps.37:32-33). The communists are lying when they accuse Christians? That is not exactly news. The question is whether or not this justifies our making use of the same worldly methods they use in order to fight back against them.

When I said "speak out for the truth", I meant "to those willing to accept it", meaning fellow believers and whatever unbelievers are attracted to our godly walk by the Spirit. I did not mean "in the public square" or "about politics" but "among believers" for spiritual growth (cf. the end of that sentence: " in building each other up through that truth"). The other way is just the first step that eventually results in taking up arms.

As discussed in the link previously shared, there may be times when there is some doubt about the government which is presently ruling as to whether or not it is biblically "established" (in times of revolution, e.g., or foreign occupation). But is there really any doubt about it at present in this situation? There have been many horrible governments in the history of the world. I'm prepared to admit that this is one of the worst, and it would not grieve me in the least if it were to collapse or be overthrown. In the meantime, however, prayers to be able to "lead a peaceful life" wherein spiritual growth, progress and production is possible would seem to me to be preferable to taking action against the government.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1st Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV

I guarantee you that one prayer directed at softening the hearts of the present leadership is more powerful than a million people in the streets protesting. What God ends up doing is part of His plan, but, after all, we trust Him, do we not? If we are trusting in ourselves, our words and actions, for deliverance, we are definitely off on the wrong foot spiritually. Being strong and courageous in Christian terms often means trusting Him when everyone else is looking to worldly solutions.

"As you have mentioned that the Great Persecution is coming. And if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him."

Amen! It's not what anyone desires – but we have to be ready for it, ready to trust in Jesus Christ that the plan He is carrying out is the only one there is, and ready to accept that it is the plan of God which is right, even if we have to suffer, not our plans.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death [Peter] would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
John 21:18-19 NKJV

Thanks for all your kind words, my friend. Do feel free to write back any time.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Dear Professor

Thank you for your good wishes. Hoping you are having a good Christmas season.

From my relatives in China I am somewhat aware of the situation for believers in China, though obviously not in the firing line to have first hand experience. I apologise if my email gave the impression of siding with the communist regime. I do not. I pray for Christians wherever they may be. In the very near future we are all going to need faith and prayers to a degree previously not seen.

A step back for a moment from focusing just on us believers.

Australia demanded an international enquiry to the cause of the outbreak of the Covid 19 virus. Since then, China has placed huge tariffs and “bans” on a range of Australian imports such as beef, barley, wine, coal. What did Australia expect (from being loud and vocal “against” China)? More free markets and even higher prices for our products ? They pay way above other markets. If China did not need our iron ore, I suspect Australia would be closer to a basket case - we rely so heavily on our exports. Australia being “in the right” does not count for much when you are dealing with a more powerful nation. Now our government, farmers and just about anybody here are bleating how we have being “wronged” by this “retaliation”. We deal with regimes that we know have policies and practices different to our own and we do that because we are getting monetary and other benefits. Now Australia is appealing to the WTO. This process is expected to take some years. Australia is looking to be saved by an appeal to the world. Looking to a political savior. But really, what did we expect! And we still want their trade and money in the meantime and forever, regardless of their human rights credentials. I do not understand how people could trust countries like this to help them, when we obviously are prepared to compromise for profit - always have done - always will. [refer my email on my time in the inspection service].

All seem to be looking for the same worldly solution. There is none. In fact we are ALL much closer to that pseudo political solution that delivers the exact opposite of what is to be promised (falsely).

Back in high school there was this bully who bragged and threatened us students. One student, quite a bit shorter than the bully called his bluff on the sports oval in front of us boys, girls and teacher, and invited the bully to carry out his threat of knocking his block off with the baseball bat he was menacing us all with. I watched in alarm as the bully swung the bat hard at ____. ____ put out his hand, snared the accelerating weapon in a vice grip, dragged the bat towards himself with bully in tow, other vice hand grip secured the bullies neck, and ____ squeezed “a little”; bully went to his knees begging to be let go.
“What are you saying?”, says ____.
Bully quietly: “Sorry”.
“Can’t quite hear you”, says ____ (apparently the sorry wasn’t loud enough for ALL the girls looking on to hear).
Bully: ”Sorry”.

____ took quite a time to finish the back and forth dialogue with the bully to thoroughly humiliate him, only releasing his grip when he had a plasticine candidate at his feet.
Never had any problems with the guy after that.

____ was actually a school friend of mine but I had not realised he was so strong. He worked after school for his dad as a brickies labourer, so catching a bat swinging towards him was easy compared to guys on the job throwing bricks at him to catch.

Many years later, when I told my friend what had happened at school, he told me that ____ and his brothers used to frequent the pubs looking for fights. So even our deliverer can have some down sides - after all we do have the sin nature to battle against - and that is the most difficult battle of all.
Beware of the “deliverer” (even a “good” one).

I feel for the millions who suffer everywhere, not only us Christians. Uyghurs in China, have to most reports, been stripped of their culture, religion and even family, in forced re-education facilities to make them more “Chinese”.

I would that Christians be spared a similar fate and pray for those in China and in other oppressed regimes. It is tough to openly worship in some countries - resulting in the murder of many Christians and others with “non-compliant” beliefs.

To be sure the oppression is not going to be alleviated by an appeal to the world. However, the “solution” that many hope for, and then come to believe will deliver them, will in fact do the complete opposite.

I am not suggesting that we are kept in the dark about the horrible plight of millions worldwide - only be prudent with tactics. Stay close to the word of God.

What “godly” country can any of us look to today to “deliver” us? Or “deliverer” from the bully?

In Australia we have Christians who work hard at political solutions only to wake up to the direct opposite result they wanted, with both sides of the house who fell over themselves to look more “progressive” or at least in step with all the “modern” thinking by legalising same sex marriage. Now the leader of this party, our Prime Minister, announces his Christian worship is with the Hillsong Church. As a minister he did not stop the bill being passed nor will he reverse it now that he is PM.

Our government also does things against it’s own laws, but we are mostly kept in the dark about them. The ‘Q’ code phone app is now in use in Australia so we need to register every premises we attend, including churches (except at the huge supermarkets!) to keep track should the virus strike. This is their set up time. As the oppressed of the world appeal to the West, the West is tightening it’s grip on it’s own citizens freedom.

We Christians have a different preparation to the world.
The west belongs to the world (Satan’s system) and will no doubt be cheering and supporting the “deliverer” as he “frees” people from oppression, only then to do the switcheroo and require allegiance in the form of the worship of himself.

Things are tough in China for any divergent beliefs from the communist regime. I continue to pray for their deliverance.

My experience, even in Australia, concerns me; that my fellow believers who I rub shoulders with still hang out for a political solution, want bigger churches, bigger programs and from first hand speaking with their pastor who says we MUST follow the USA right or WRONG!
My response: “Is that even if the antichrist is leading the USA?”
Pastor: No response.

I continue to pray for those in China, my relatives included. I am under no illusion to their situation - nor do I want to compromise their lives in order to be “right”.

All Christian lives will be counted by the world and by apostate believers, as less than chaff in the near future, as we are blamed by them for not going along with “the solution” - in fact claiming us to be “the problem”. To be certain, this “deliverer” will be the man of sin.

Even now, not being compliant with “accepted Christianity” has me at odds with many in the community. There are hardly any who subscribe to the teachings at Ichthys. However, I still love these brethren and sisters and though it is probable that some of these people will betray me to the “deliverer” I do still try to reach them with the actual truth of what is happening, and is about to happen with leopard like speed once the “gong” sounds..

To your correspondent: I will continue to pray for their situation.

As has been said; we are all in this together, and more shortly than any of us would like, we will be even more all in this together, as antichrist goes for the elimination of ALL believers. Here is the faith and patience of the saints. Revelation 13:10.

It may now seem strange (some things now accepted, seemed strange less than a year ago); that those we now call upon for deliverance are actually going to be our executioners. Here public schools and work places are intolerant of Christian beliefs - in fact even as a driver I do not have freedom of speech - must be very careful what I say to keep a job, while science and Dreamtime are to be held up to extreme reverence. Even now the west is submitting to Satan.

Yes, our only hope is in Jesus.

As the world situation worsens, I pray we can all trust in this hope in Jesus to endure to the end.
I am continuing to pray for believers, and also for non believers to abide in the truth once they find it.

Thank you for teaching the truth from the scriptures. We would all do better refocusing on the word which indeed tells us ALL things necessary to KNOW what is happening now and what is shortly to come. Mark 13:23

I pray we can support each other in our prayers.

Praying for you and your family and Ministry.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior

Your student

Response #29:

What can I say to this but a hearty "Amen!"?

The truth is the only way. There are no other saviors in this world; only Him who is the Truth incarnate.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

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