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Fighting the Fight XVI

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Question #1:

I figured I would give the books a try. I did order Unger's Bible dictionary. I'm really looking forward to that one. I usually don't order books I am not interested in, and one of those reasons is because I don't see the point in studying something I don't feel I'm going to get a whole lot out of or that is all that important. Understanding how the Bible was compiled, and how textual criticism, though something I will never be capable of doing myself, should nonetheless be important for me to help in times when I will need to "give an answer" if those opportunities ever present themselves.

I know your not familiar with the books and thus your opinion is limited, but I do appreciate your opinion nonetheless. If you have anymore advice to give, by all means. Thank you.

In Christ

Response #1:

BB 7: Bibliology has something to say about textual criticism of the Bible, but I approach the subject quite differently from these books you mentioned (see the link).

Unger's Bible Dictionary was based on an earlier synopsis of Barnes Bible Encyclopedia, and it's somewhat difficult to tell how much "Unger" is in there. He also had a number of other contributors update or add articles. So when using it, it's always a good idea to look at the bottom of the entry and see who wrote it (abbreviations explained in the introductory material).

I've got a lot of recommendations on the site in various places (here's one link). A little work on basic "Church History" is not a bad idea for any prospective pastor-teacher (link).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hey man what do you make of these verses?

1 Timothy 2: 11-15
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Paul does make sense here but I can see people getting really upset over these verses.

Also, why did Jesus say “Father, why have you forsaken me?” when He was on the cross? That part has always confused me.

Response #2:

Paul also wrote this in the Spirit:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Ephesians 5:25 NKJV

I can't imagine a higher standard or a greater responsibility; wives are not told to love their husbands in this way.

On 1st Timothy 2:11-15 in particular, this passage is frequently misunderstood. For one thing, the deliverance promised is to be brought [safely] THROUGH the danger of childbirth; not BY MEANS OF birthing; please see the link: "Deliverance through Childbearing". Here are some other links on other issues in this passage:

Great women of the Bible (in Pet.#37)

Responsibilities in marriage (in Pet.#35)

The deception of Eve

On Luke 23:24, congratulations on having good "spiritual radar"! It's an indication that you are growing. No, this passage is NOT part of the Bible – even though most versions print it as if it were and even though it is one of the most quoted "verses" in scripture (and that right there ought to be a "tell" that something is wrong, especially given the people who usually quote it). For the details about this false interpolation, please see the link: "The interpolation 'Father forgive them' ".

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,


Matthew 11:23 (NASB)
23 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.

Question: This is a hard verse. I have read your discussions but I still am still stumped. Why would Sodom have repented -- our Lord knows all things and that if someone will repent and believe then He would put them in the perfect position to do so. I suspect the answer comes in the exact wording of His words -- "it would have remained to this day" does not say they would believe, simply that the city would remain. However based on earlier verses it could be argued that He is implying that they would have repented and believed. Looking forward to your insight on this as our Lord is always right, it just takes some perseverance to really "see" it.

You've been in my prayers Bob, I know teaching the Bible as you do is quite the load in addition to your research, so my friend I feel very grateful for you and our Lord. I was very excited to hear BB 7 is coming along, you have my prayer on that too [now posted at the link].

In Jesus our Lord and Savior,

Response #3:

No worries, my friend – I'm grateful for your generous spirit.

On Matthew 11:23, it's important to remember that there is only one plan of God. There are no hypothetical what if's. Our Lord uses this way of speaking to make the point that the hardness of His generation was exceptional to a proverbial degree. That is what we are to take from this. If Jesus Christ had come to Sodom instead of to the Jews of His day, well, there would have to be a great many changes to the plan of God. Blessedly, there is only one plan of God and it has been perfect and complete since the day that it was decreed.

So our Lord's use of hypotheticals – given that none actually exist in the plan of God – is similar to His use of parables. There are lessons we are to take from parables; but not everything in a parable is important and should not be subjected to this similar type of close examination. For example, in the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt.20:1-16), we would be wrong to put too much emphasis on the "marketplace" where the workers are found standing around idly until they are hired. Is this the world? That will do, since we are in the world, but then trying to interpret the various times of the day and link that up with marketplace activities in the ancient world would clearly be taking the "furniture" of the parable beyond the point of meaningfulness and risk losing the whole lesson of the parable. Similarly, getting too involved in the counterfactual details of the "woes" for those places in our Lord's day which were "worse than Sodom" in terms of their hardness to the truth will only result in losing that lesson: our Lord was telling them to repent of their hardness of unbelief and accept Him as the Messiah. His way of putting things did not allow them to believe that they were anything but opposing God's plan – by putting their unbelief in the worst company . . . and saying that it was worse than the worst example they knew of.

Here is a link on this: "Woe to Chorazain" (Matt.11:23 explained)

Thanks for the business update! I'll be keeping it in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

I have a question about your treatment of "rest" in Hebrews 4:9:

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Hebrews 4:9 KJV

My mind says that suffix -ismos in the word sabbatismos is adjectival form, but all the literatures I read said it is noun forms; only you said that the word "Sabbath" to which is appended the (originally) adjectival suffix -ismo; do you have authoritative reference for that, sir?

Response #4:

Good to make your acquaintance.

Here's what I wrote (at the link):

Taking that information together with the true meaning of sabbatismos, a rather uncommon noun most likely coined by Paul himself (it is found nowhere else save latter occurrences, mainly in the church fathers; it may occur in Plutarch, but even then it would be later than the book of Hebrews), I offer the following translation:

So then there does remain a Sabbath-comparable rest (sabbatismos) for the people of God.
Hebrews 4:9

So to be clear, the word is a noun; I was explaining its formation.

It is probably better to explain it along the lines of Robertson's Grammar of the Greek NT, p.152; he takes it as -mos word/noun "expressing action" and as having been derived from the verb σαββατίζειν (along the lines of βαπτισμός derived from βαπτίζω). This verb, σαββατίζειν, does occur once in the LXX / Septuagint (2nd Maccabees 6:6). Smyth reference for that action noun suffix (-mos) is para. 840.5.

In either case, the essential meaning is clear: sabbatismos is "a resting time" which, in our context, is explained as ceasing from our own works and relying on God instead; that is to say, the true and deeper meaning behind the Sabbath day worship which has now been replaced by our all-the-time faith-resting in the Lord and His provision and deliverance.

In Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #5:


Can you explain your reason why you said that the Sabbath day worship which has now been replaced by our all-the-time faith-resting in the Lord and His provision and deliverance?

Thank you.

Response #5:

The 4th commandment's true meaning is resting in and relying on God – trusting in Him, not ourselves (link: The Ten Commandments). That is what the Sabbath day was meant to represent. We are no longer under the Law which Christ has fulfilled (Rom.10:4); as a result we believers are now responsible to fulfill the 4th commandment spiritually – that is to say not with ritual but with the reality behind the ritual: trusting and resting in God at all times.

That is why the 7th day of Saturday worship of the past under the Law has now been replaced by the moment by moment all the time faith rest in the Lord.

This is all explained in the links:

Sabbath comparable rest

Faith Rest

Resting in the Lord

Emotions vs. Faith Rest

In Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #6:

But the bible says . . . [long list of examples from the gospels and Acts of mentions of the Sabbath omitted]

I am sorry to say, your reasoning is sophisticated, but in my view, it is out of the biblical context

Response #6:

"I am sorry to say, your reasoning is sophisticated, but in my view, it is out of the biblical context."

The book of Acts is historically accurate; it is not doctrinally prescriptive (see the link).  Failing to understand that obvious but critical point has lead to many heresies and cult-like behaviors in the history of the Church . . . such as "having all things in common" or speaking in tongues or water-baptism or people saying they are apostles.  Just because it happened in Acts, a very short and special time of transition from the Jewish Age dispensation of doing things to that of the Church Age, from the Law to the Spirit, doesn't mean it is happening now or that we should copy Acts.  Far from it.  So I will prefer the Lord's view in the Bible to "your view" and to the esoteric interpretations in your email (which make neither logical nor theological sense – except perhaps to you).

It's not just that you can't be saved by keeping the Law – if you are trying to keep the Law you cannot be saved.

You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Galatians 5:4 NKJV

If you want to learn the truth, you are welcome at this ministry. But this is a ministry for believers in Jesus Christ who are saved by grace through faith (Eph.2:8-9), not for legalists of any stripe who are headed to perdition and attempting to take others down with them.

In Jesus Christ – who is "the end of the Law for righteousness . . . to everyone who believes" (Rom.10:4).

Bob L.

Question #7:

I am not legalistic! What I show you are the biblical evidences contrary to what you said.

You said: “Keep the Sabbath: guarding the sanctity of the day of rest; trusting God, not ourselves, for provision in this life (cf. Ezek.20:12; 20:20). n.b.: this is the only commandment not repeated in the New Testament.”

What I found, the bible says that as His custom was, Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16).

The New Testament makes the Sabbath practices of the disciples plain. “They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2).

[omitted numerous examples from Acts]

We are not hostile because we only have some dialogues, are we?


Response #7:

But are you interested in learning the truth? If you would read Ichthys, there are answers to all these false assumptions. The website provides ample material for you to grow in the truth. For example, the era of the apostles is a transitional time between the Age of Israel and the Age of the Church so of course there is overlap (link). But I will note that "common practice" is not a command, so the statement I made is correct. On the other hand, there are plenty of passages which tell us that doing things the way Israel did is now wrong, the books of Galatians and Hebrews in their near entirety for example (see the link).

But you have to be wanting to hear the truth.

This is not an apologetic ministry. I did not seek you out and try to convince you that you are "wrong". You came to me, seeming to ask a question.

But are you really asking questions? Aren't you really trying to correct a pastor-teacher who is doing his ministry before God in the Name of Jesus Christ?

If you have "the truth", then by all means share it with those who want what you call truth.

If you want to grow closer to Jesus through the actual truth, that will require at least a mustard seed's amount of humility on your part.

In Jesus our hope.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Professor

Good to hear your first day back started with a bit of a ‘buzz”, even if it was half buzz strength due to lack of the usual throng. Thank you for the report and reply. Health conscious __ who never seems to get sick reckons masks are unhealthy. Thankfully we haven’t had to wear them in the West - yet.

I have had this thorn of sorts in sometimes trying to work people out, as to why they believe what they do. There is a lot of opinion to say that our childhood experiences profoundly influence how we turn out. The other thing I had in mind was that in your writings you say you believe that the age of accountability, or when we decide to believe in God, or not, is quite young.

I cut and paste this next segment from the Radio National website:

Phillip Adams was born in 1939 in the country Victorian town of Maryborough to Congregational pastor Reverend Charles Adams and farmer's daughter Sylvia Smith. He says the most defining moment of his life was as a child, when he went looking for and found no comfort in his father's religious teachings. "I was terrified of death, I was terrified of the infinite, of the eternal and even more terrified that I found I couldn't believe in God. "So, by the time I was five, a decade before I would hear the term atheist, I was an atheist. "I think that was the most significant moment in my entire life because everything that happened to me later was an attempt to give meaning to what was to me a meaningless universe." Disillusionment was compounded by disadvantage. While his father served as an Army chaplain in New Guinea, Adams' mother abandoned her young son to be raised by his dirt-poor grandparents on a farm outside Melbourne.

He then suffered emotional abuse from his stepfather, whom he said tried to run him over etc. It occurred to me this might indeed put one off religion/belief forever, however there are other times when he, what I call “pseudo prays” or rather says if he was a believer, he would pray, but he is an atheist. I know of people who say they can not believe because of what they see in their pastor father, or the division between their mother and father over the particular brand of Christian belief (say Salvation Army v Anglican), where mum and dad would go to separate churches. Then I know of others who, despite being abused as children, choose to still believe in a merciful and just God. Until yesterday, I knew almost nothing of Philip Adams and his contribution to starting the Australian film industry, journalism etc. so I had not been listening as a fan, but rather learn from the guests and gauge how some in the world are thinking, which usually is without faith in God.

I am hoping for more understanding in the eternal life to heal the grief I feel for those who suffered to the point of not wanting to believe. I do understand (in my very limited way) that our dear Savior suffered more than we can know. I trust in Him that all is just and fair and that he has made it possible for all to come to Him and be healed of unbelief. I think I can now put this one to bed.

Thank you for your Ministry.

While we cannot judge anyone, we can believe the holiness of God.

We do have meaning in our lives - our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In His Name.

Your student

Response #8:

A lot of people have had it really rough – and still believed. David was apparently unloved by his parents and profoundly so, yet he went on to love the Lord like few others ever had. Others have been raised in luxury and with doting parents and still have not believed. Whenever things go right or wrong with others, there is a human tendency – fueled by satanic propaganda – to blame it all on their environment. Environment may provide a push, but nobody can be pushed in their free will without allowing it. If they could be, then one would think that death (and sin and knowledge of a righteous God visible from His creation) would push everyone to salvation. Far from it. God has allowed people to harden their hearts against the truth precisely so as to preserve their ability to choose (see the link). And if pressure alone were sufficient to overturn free will, then the Great Apostasy followed by the Great Persecution would cause all Christians to fall away, not "only" one third with the others willing to die rather than submit.

Free will is the most amazing thing. Left unchecked, the image of God in contact with the sin nature imagines us as being so large (Ps.73:9). Even we who know the truth have a hard time internally "seeing" just how small and insignificant we are. A modest house of 1200 sq. feet has the capacity to fit in some 8,000 of us, all packed in! Yet many would find this space "too small" and imagine it somewhat smaller than they are – and how "big" then do they imagine God is? He is beyond imagining, it is true, but how many people imagine God very small and themselves very big? Even though they should know that this is crazy. Even we believers really cannot pierce the veil of His majesty as we should like.

But the day is coming when we'll see the Lord face to face and not "through a glass and darkly". We do have so much to look forward to. Good to think about now – and even more so during the tough times to come.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Recently, I had a discussion with another believer who stated that suicide of one who still has faith in Jesus can still have eternal life even though they take their life. I disagreed with this brother and told him I would look into what God's Word has to say if anything. But before I begin to write a response, I would most certainly appreciate your response to his remarks. Here is the question he asked me, and which he responded with a yes:

Can a person claim that they truly love God, and have “true faith” in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but commit suicide and still gain eternal life?

Thanks so much for your input. I appreciate it much. God's continued blessing and grace be with you always,

Your friend,

Response #9:

I think many godly Christians have a whole long list of "things a REAL Christian would never do". And, given what scripture has to say (e.g., 1Cor.6:9-10), we are right to have such a list. But the reality is that while Christians are not intrinsically ABC, sometimes – when wandering far from the Lord – they actually DO ABC (see the link: Interpreting 1st John). That is problematic, because chronically (as opposed to anomalously) acting in a way Christians do not act is going to end up eventually either in apostasy (where a believer reverts to being an unbeliever) or the sin unto death (link).

We see an example of the former in the case of Saul who, while he started out very well, through rebellious behavior and not trusting the Lord, went from bad to worse. One could easily imagine that he had fallen into apostasy, especially when he took his own life after being wounded at the battle of Mt. Gilboa. But here is what Samuel said to him:

"And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines."
1st Samuel 28:19b NKJV

The only way Saul (about whom we had our doubts) and his sons (including Jonathan of whose salvation we have no doubts) could "be with" Samuel after death is if they are saved. Here's a link on this: Suicide. I will say that if a brother or sister does take their own life, at the very least – even in cases where like Saul we have our doubts about their status – it's the worst witness possible so that of course we wonder about whether or not they are really in heaven. What we can say is that this is not the stuff of "well done!" from the Lord with a commensurate eternal reward – which is what we should all be striving for.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I wanted to share with you a part of what I wrote to this brother about the question of suicide that he has asked me more than once. I posed these questions to him, plus some other comments, including yours that you provided me.

Here are some questions;

1. Whatever happened to the “Grace of God” being sufficient for us, as He told Paul. By taking one’s life are we saying to the Almighty God that His grace is not sufficient enough to get me through this life? Are we calling God a liar?, Think about it!!

2. Jesus said that He would pray to the Father and He will send you another “Comforter, helper, who will be with you forever”. John 14:16.

3. Is our reliance on the “worldly” so-called science of the mind or on the Holy Spirit for our help? Just who are we depending on, fallible man’s who has “worldly wisdom” or on God who has all Wisdom?

4. Considering the apostle Paul, who went through many trials and was eventually killed; did he give up during the middle of his trials and tribulations?

5. Did Jesus give up on the Cross?

6. Has God ever given up on true believers?

7. What about Richard Wurmbrand who endured untold suffering for many years, did he give up?

8. Did Stephen give up, or did he keep his “faith” and “trust” until the end?

9. What about Job who suffered physical & spiritual pain in his body. See Hebrews 5:11.

10. What about the “saints” that were killed for their faith in Revelation 12:11?

Thanks always for your great help.

Jesus never gave up.

Grace be your continually,

Your friend,

Response #10:

Excellent, my friend!

I was not privy to the whole back-story. Sometimes as I have found the "question" a person is asking is not really the question posed, if you see what I mean. Clearly, suicide is NOT an option for Christians – that is indisputably a violation of the will of God. As you so wonderfully demonstrate, the Christian life is all about trusting the Lord for solutions, even when – and especially when – the situation is desperate. Situations can get bad, as we all know, but there is never justification for giving up our hope, our confidence in our Lord and His deliverance of us. The exodus generation did that by losing faith at the Rea Sea and all the time after that so that they have become an example to us – a negative one:

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
1st Corinthians 10:5-6 NIV

Better to trust the Lord NO MATTER WHAT; that is what our forefathers in the faith were commended for.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:5-6 NIV

God has never and He will never and He can never let us down. So we should never and – God helping us – will never give up, until kingdom come.

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5b-6 NIV

In Jesus our faithful Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I hope the start of the semester has treated you well. I have two questions if you'd be willing to help me.

First, at the beginning of Luke in 1:1-3, I'm curious to know why Luke needed a "compilation" of Jesus' teachings or contextual historical events at all considering he had the Holy Spirit to write it. I guess this goes for many Bible writers, but this seems to be the most transparent example.

Also, I'm sure you've gotten this a lot, but I'd like to get a better understanding of Ephesians 5:3. I know that it should be translated "coarse jesting", but how exactly should "foolish talk" be interpreted. Considering the surrounding verses, it doesn't seem as if he is saying light-hearted fun is the problem. It sounds like he's saying that sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, etc. and any fun surrounding it would be the problem. So it sounds more like it would be fool-ish talk and activity that isn't decent. Maybe that's an over-read, though. I'd like to know cause I do enjoy joshing around with my friends, so it's making me a little anxious.

I'd appreciate any help in understanding these.

I'm keeping you and Ichthys in my prayers.

In our Lord,

Response #11:

Good to hear from you.

As to your first question, when you ask why "Luke needed a "compilation" of Jesus' teachings or contextual historical events", my reply is that he certainly did not and that this is not at all what his introduction either says or implies. I don't suggest that he did not make use of all the information available to him – as an associate of Paul and therefore with many connections to individuals who had first-hand knowledge of the events of the gospel – but I do disagree with the translation of Luke 1:3 found in most versions. To take one, NKJV's "having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first", I would amend it to say "having had perfect understanding of all things from above". From BB 7: Bibliology:

The emphasized phrase above translates the Greek word anothen (ἄνωθεν); but while this adverb often does mean "from the beginning", it also commonly means "from above" (e.g., Jn.3:3), and that is the meaning here. Luke certainly did not have a "perfect understanding of all things from the very first", but his understanding was indeed "perfect" since he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write his gospel, informed "from above".

As to your second question on Ephesians 5:4, you are right on the money. This is speaking not of humor absolutely but especially of things that have a sexual or scatological basis. I think it's fair to add anything that makes fun of someone else or derives humor at someone else' expense. Here are some links on this:

Humor in church

Categories of humor to avoid

Did Jesus use humor?

What does the Bible say about Humor?


Humor, Self-Defense, Pacifism and War

Absence of humor in the Bible

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Professor, one more question - on Timothy 1:19-20. __ asked me about the sin unto death and handing over to Satan and I'm not clear about Paul first saying that some have suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith - which I would understand as apostasy - and then mentioning Hymenaeus and Alexander, to whom this applies ("among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander"), as being handed over to Satan in order to be taught not to blaspheme. This latter point indicates that Hymenaeus and Alexander must in fact have still been believers as there is no point in teaching unbelievers not to blaspheme. I'm not sure how to reconcile these two notions.

Response #12:

Presumably, this "Alexander" is the same one mentioned by Paul in 2Tim.4:14, and this Hymenaeus is the same one he mentions at 2Tim.2:17 – both in the follow-on letter to Timothy. If so, we can safely say, as you assume, that they were not believers but apostates who had suffered "shipwreck" – which is how I do read that passage. See the link: Hymenaeus and Alexander.

Paul was given exceptional gifts and powers which were occasionally directed at unbelievers as well as believers; in the case of the latter, in 1Cor.5:5, the purpose of "handing over" was to save one who was a believer. But in Acts 13:10, Paul called down blindness on Elymas for "perverting the straight ways of the Lord". That sounds very similar to the passage you ask about because in both cases the underlying purpose of the smiting was to prevent false teachers of all stripes from misleading believers or potential believers.  So alternatively, these two may have been active opponents of the truth proceeding from the state of unbelief from the start, part of the anti-Pauline group in Ephesus which had done him so much damage over the years (Acts 21:27; 24:18-19; 2Tim.4:14; cf. Acts 19:26-7; 19:33; 20:3; 1Tim.1:20).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dear Prof, Calvary greetings. Thank God you are safe. I'm praying that all the brethren there are also safe. The Lord keep you all.

In the last emails section on ichthys, I saw my old mail (31) and I marveled at it. It provoked me to remember where I'm coming from and the only conclusion I can say is THANK GOD.

I have not yet "gotten there" but I can say a big hallelujah to the fact that i have moved forward. I have stopped dwelling in the past as then, I rarely get depressed now, I don't get paralyzed in place of prayer (though not yet optimal). My progress is not as I would have wanted it but even I can see that I'm far from where I was then. And that is despite the court cases still on ground. I see God at work in others and even my pastor is changing! My family thinks I'm better!

You wrote: "Life is difficult, especially for believers. But we have the advantage of a wonderful hope that makes whatever we have to face in this life completely worthwhile in the end, even if things sometimes wear on us here and now. That's the "high ground" we have to attempt to hold onto in our hearts day by day when thing get difficult; the evil one is happy to see us demoralized. And it is easy for believers who are making good progress to get down on themselves when "today" doesn't go as well as "yesterday". So if you are hanging in there with prayer and study, please don't allow the fact that "today" you didn't get as much of it done as you wanted – we all get tired – cause you to become despairing. The result of that misapplication of the truth is to do less or nothing and feel even worse. This is a battlefield. We are probably never going to have a day when we fight a perfect fight. But if we can resist ever having a day when we don't try to fight that fight at all, then we will find over time that we have made great progress, even if it was perfect. And it's never perfect"

This has turned out to be so true in my infinitesimal experience though at that time it seemed like a mission almost impossible!

Also I take the prayers of saints for me as very contributory to seeing me through to this point. That's why I too must pray for others. When you know there is a task at hand, focusing on it and not the past is so so important! I'm still deficient in many areas but I know what NOT to be focused on. Prof, I thank God for His mercy (it is a miraculous mercy!). Part of that mercy is you and Ichthys.

Comparing then and now makes me encouraged (if I may say so about myself!) to want to press forward even more without past "baggage" weighing one down to prevent forward motion.

Thank you sir. Your labour will not be in vain!

Your friend and student.

Response #13:

You are growing fast and furious, my friend! And so is your production, confidence in and love for the Lord. It's a pleasure to see!

Thanks so much for your good words – and for staying close to the Lord most of all. That is what we ALL need to do.

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi, Dr. Luginbill. Its been a while since we've contacted each other, I suppose. I have another question. I have been worried that when I was young I [omitted], but I have recently started to worry about it. I know that we as Christians should be subject to governmental authorities, but should I turn myself in? This has really been troubling me.

Response #14:

If every Christian in the country turned themselves in for everything that might be considered a technical violation of law in any way, no doubt our court system would be overloaded to the point of coming to a halt.

I confess I sped on the way home from work on Friday.  I didn't get a ticket, but I confess that I'm not going to turn myself in.

If whatever you have done is worse than that, I understand your concern, but how will you ruining your life help anyone? Here is what David said:

Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
Psalm 51:4 NKJV

All sin is lawlessness – and vice versa (1Jn.3:4). So if you have sinned, my advice to you is to confess that . . . to the LORD. And He will forgive you (1Jn.1:9). If you have done wrong in the past and been punished "less than your sins deserve", then praise God for that (Ps.103:10)! And endeavor to do what Jesus wills for your life in the days ahead. He wants more than living a holy life: He wants your growth and production.

It's always a mistake to look backwards. We are called to look forward instead to our heavenly reward . . . and to do what is necessary to earn a good one as a result.

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus. (15) So as many as are [spiritually] mature, let us have this attitude (i.e., of focusing on our spiritual advance and reward and not getting hung up on what lies behind: vv.13-14), and if in any matter your attitude is off-center, God will reveal that to you (i.e., assuming you are mature and are advancing as you should). (16) But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:12-16

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

[omitted questions about ethics of working]

Response #15:

When I was in the USMC, before I got serious about the Word, I admit that I slacked off a fair bit from time to time; afterwards, even though I wasn't perfect, I tried to do a good job all the time. In academia, not being in administration, I don't have "clock hours" except for when I'm expected to teach (I've only missed a couple of days for illness in 30 plus years); I am expected to produce, however, good classes (teaching evals and other metrics are basis of evaluating that), good admin (people I serve on committees with and department peers determine that), and a reasonable record of publication (I didn't get paid to do that for two years but I'm back on payroll for that now, so my current top-of-conscience-list concern is getting at least the draft of an article on paper before July runs out – August will be busy getting ready for classes and other admin duties [I'm on personnel and planning and budget this year] more so than usual because of all the new hoops). But I don't have be concerned about having to keep sitting in my office if I'm done with what I needed to do with the day.

I wish that were the case for you to, but it's not. My advice to you – since you ask for it – is to do what your conscience in the Holy Spirit is telling you to do (which is why you wrote me), namely, give them eight hours work for eight hours pay.

There are plenty of ways you can use the extra time down there in a positive way. You mentioned one way, namely, helping colleagues. Getting to know other related jobs, networking with others in and out of your shop, possibly members who use your services, getting to know the overall system, brainstorming ways to improve things, even asking for additional duties, etc. Once you decide to be fully engaged while on the clock, plenty of other things will suggest themselves. One thing I can tell you for sure based on the "not fully engaged Bob" vs. the "fully engaged Bob" experience is that the latter is MUCH more fun, makes you feel a lot better about yourself and what you're doing, gives no cause for second guessing, pleases your superiors a good deal more, is a better witness for Christ – and makes the day go SO much faster. So I highly recommend it.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

What are your views on fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization? I did a search of Ichthys for the topic and didn’t get any hits. Your views on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Response #16:

That question is a first for me. However, anything involving medicine does have some of the same dynamics (and there are postings about that topic; see the link). We trust the Lord first and foremost with all of our concerns; and we also make reasonable use of all of the means He makes available to us. That is the "sweet spot".

If we are trusting the Lord but refusing to make use of, e.g., a necessary surgery or a course of drugs He's made possible to save our lives, that is likely to be a mistake (even Hezekiah got medical attention after being promised he wouldn't die, after all: Is.38:21). On the other hand, going to extremes past the point of reasonableness is also clearly off the road because it is easy to get so upset that one loses faith in the Lord as the only real solution.

So this is a matter of personal application. No one can second guess you on this one – one way or the other. It's between you two and the Lord.

Keeping this in prayer.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

[omitted question about engaging in ministry]

Response #17:

As to your other question about ministering, here's the point of reference: anything we do out of guilt is almost always a wrong thing done for the wrong reasons; and even if it is not a wrong thing, doing it for the wrong reasons can be its undoing. Also, I can't guarantee any of these connections will work out or be for the good. I'm not a terrible judge of these things, but I'm not clairvoyant either. Slow and steady wins the race. Incorporating everything into one's approach all at once usually produces an impossible burden. First we have to get our outside work done; then we can focus on the house (Prov.24:27); meaning that we have to have priorities straight. Personal spiritual growth, job and family are three very large weights to lift. When we have them hogtied and find ourselves with time on our hands, serious ministry is a wonderful next step. Not that we can't do some things in the meantime to figure out what we should be doing. These are all personal judgment calls.

As to form of ministry, if encouraging others is the job you're being trained to do (and you are very good at that as I can attest!), how you would go about it is very much dependent upon who you are and where you are and what you've got to work with. For what it's worth, from the standpoint of personal spiritual preparation, I would certainly be most pleased to have you be speaking with someone I cared about who needed some caring direction and support. But as I say, it is a load – energy, emotion and time – to minister faithfully (as you well know from your continuing efforts with __). And it's better to be prudent and realistic about what is really possible given the limitations one has to contend with rather than to bite off more than one can chew (Lk.14:28-30).

I'll be keeping you in prayer on this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Can I also ask you something, as one with longer experience than me? Nowadays people jump from job to job. And I mean, I looked it up, and that means, pastors, CEOs, managements, etc. I only mention them particularly because you'd think those are the persons you would want to be in for a long haul to do the job well. Not that I blame them or anything. But when even they jump jobs every 4-5 years (and this is averaged out, so obviously there are people in all professions who stay a long time, on average there is a lot of hopping from company to company), it is normal.

Here is the thing, I strongly doubt the replacements that the companies hire are any more productive. So I would think they are just throwing money down the drain having to constantly search for new employees and hire and train. And actually at my own company I have seen a loss of information even over just 7 years. I know a lot that no one knows, if they suddenly think something is wrong but don't know who the blame falls on. The people above me now have no idea what I did when I first came 7 years ago and have not written any performance review, so it is a black hole for them. Plus I know the systems and can do things faster than someone just starting. I guess it would just seem to save resources and not lose that kind of info if companies would simply treat workers better to get them to stay. But I suppose they feel the resources to get them to stay outweigh the constant hiring and firing and interviewing and training. Or maybe they simply don't know how to anymore, the information they would need to do that, being lost due to everyone job hopping (and you would need to know the employees and management for a long time).

And another thing! I just wanted to say that sometimes I think about how high up and how much Lucifer had. And there are humans I have personally known that, no matter what you give them, or how much more you give them than anyone else, they will say it is a pittance and demand more. And it really is something to behold. I feel like people/beings like that, they will never be happy. Even if they got what they wanted, they would still be unhappy. And then take it out on you of course.

Response #18:

Good point about the devil. Human beings are also never satisfied – those who are walking in the ways of this world, that is.

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV

Changing jobs seems to be the way to get ahead. Sticking with a company and being rewarded for that loyalty started to go out in the 60's and is now completely gone as far as I can see (some exceptions; UPS for example).

People never respect you if they know you. But if they don't know you and you "slap them in the face", then they tend to respect you, even if you're not worthy of respect. But that is an old story:

When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:54-58 NKJV

In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
2nd Corinthians 11:20-21a NIV

But wherever we are and whatever we're doing, we Christians continue to do a good job to the glory of the Lord (Col.3:23-25).

Wishing you a good week ahead!

In Jesus our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #19:

I respect you, even if you end up being wrong on the exact Tribulation dating. That is actually new. Normally I either demonize or put someone on a perfection pedestal until they do something wrong. Which is not healthy, and I don't want to, but it is a leftover from getting thrown away whenever I did something wrong I think. But anyway, you have always been patient and held on, so.

In any case, David had time to learn music while tending sheep.

Well, it is hard on the knowing what a good job to Him is. I feel if I am doing about what another person in my position would do, or perhaps a bit better, that will be sufficient. Right? I can't do anything about the position managers put us employees in (being hostile so that we communicate less with them, or taking advantage or even threatening us when we take the initiative).

Response #19:

I appreciate it!

Good analogy about David.

Yes, we want to do a good job; no, that does not mean that we have to put so much into it that we don't have time or energy for what is really important. There is a balance. If we are doing it well for the Lord's sake, He will make sure that it is received VERY well. We have more important things to be concerned about.

In Jesus our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #20:

"If we are doing it well for the Lord's sake, He will make sure that it is received VERY well." I do not think this is Biblical. Just look at how Laban treated Jacob.

Also, it is the case that some managers will box their employees in and won't want them to do too well, and also won't communicate with them. And I don't mean girly communicate. I mean 'sir there is an iceberg, right there' 'you are out of line private! Don't make me throw you in the brigg' And you know that continuing to say it won't change anything.

There are people like that.

Then you just shut up and pray and focus on God.

Response #20:

You are certainly correct that in this imperfect world there are many imperfect bosses . . . and many ungrateful people who won't appreciate the good jobs we do for them.  That is why we always need to remember that we are working for the Lord and so do our jobs "as unto the Lord" regardless of how our efforts are received (see the link: Peter #34: "A Christian Code of Conduct").

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:22-24 NIV

So I guess I should have added, "whether they like it or not". Daniel, since you mention him, was temporarily inconvenienced (i.e., thrown into a den full of lions!), but the Lord was with him, delivered him, destroyed his enemies, and saw that he was promoted to essentially running the kingdom. Joseph had a bad boss too, ended up in jail for no reason, but eventually was promoted to rule all of Egypt only second to Pharaoh. You mention Jacob, and Laban was certainly a bad boss, but the Lord blessed Jacob even so and caused Laban to understand that he had been blessed for Jacob's sake (Gen.30:27); the Lord refused to allow Laban to harm him (Gen.31:24), and used the whole long incident to bless Jacob:

"I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies."
Genesis 32:10 NKJV

So I commend doing a good job even if the boss is bad (Gen.31:38-41), and affirm – from the Bible and also from everything I have experienced and observed in my life – that IN THE END God blesses the righteous and delivers them from the power of the evil.

Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him.
Ecclesiastes 8:12 NIV

Our problem as human beings is that we have a hard time enduring until the end. All of these godly individuals had to wait. Job had to wait. We want deliverance "right now". But if we are patient and trust the Lord, He always works it all out together for good – for those who love Him.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

The thing also with Jacob and Laban is that Jacob looked out for himself with his trying to get the sheep to breed his way. Which is not what I would think of if he were doing the job for Laban as if for God. Maybe my idea of doing a job for God is a bit warped.

Response #21:

I wouldn't endorse Jacob's behavior either, so that explains some of it too, doesn't it?

If you're not the perfect employee, you can't expect God to give you perfect grace in your employer's eyes.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Can I ask you an odd question? I was very deprived as a kid so I didn't consider this so much at that age. But I am thinking now. And I know kids get a bad rap for asking for things from their parents that their fellow-agers have. And I have to say, I think a parent injures a kid when they make them the only odd person out and also makes their kid boring to everyone else in the group. But the going lesson people tell us is that the kid doesn't need those things.

Uh, yes. They do. Unless you want your kids to be abandoned by their peers, because that is how you make friends at that age: playing the latest game, having your nails painted in the latest style. Your kids peers will not want to include the one that has NOTHING to offer, the weird kid who is ungroomed (and they won't articulate this, but this is a large part of it) or has nothing fun to offer.

What do you think?

Response #22:

My parents were very generous to me. They didn't give me absolutely everything (they couldn't afford to do that), but they gave me more than enough, much more. Most godly parents will not be in a position to "spoil" their kids overly, but they will probably be able to see to it that they get more than enough.

In any case, the best thing a parent can give a child is love – along with a deep appreciation of the importance of the Word of God. I got both of those key things from my parents "in spades", and so I have no complaints.

Like you, David seems to have gotten "the short end of the stick" – and yet instead of being bitter it caused him to rely on the Lord ever more closely with the result that he had one of the best relationships with Him recorded in scripture.

"The Lord is the One shepherding me. Therefore I will not be lacking [anything I need]!"
Psalm 23:1

In Jesus our Lord who is generous to us like no other, having given us eternal life by dying in our place.

Bob L.


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