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Question #1:


I have been giving to a widow of a pastor for several years and recently she wrote that she didn't need it any more. I have been praying and asking God where I can put this money.

In reading your emails for today it seemed to me that this was the answer to my prayer.

Would there be any problem if you asked the family if they would accept the gift?

If so, I would love to invest the money for eternity. If they say yes, I'll need their name and address in order to send it to them, monthly. It's not much, but at least it will put some food on the table.

Thank you,

P. S. I'm the 98 year old that is still teaching Sunday School every Sunday.

Your web site has helped me personality and also with my lessons.

Response #1:

Good to hear from you, my friend! And thanks so much for your generous offer.

I've sent a message to our friend and will let you know what he says. It may be a few days before I hear back from him.

However this turns out, I want to know that I really appreciate your good heart, and I know that the Lord does as well. As you say, the only investments in this life that are really meaningful are the ones which are going to outlast this temporary world.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

I've now heard back and I'm pasting in the email here:

Dr. L,

This email has been such a blessing to me. The fact that people are STILL praying for us makes me feel so loved. God is so good to me. I appreciate you and the brothers and sisters on your website more than you'll ever know. Please tell the person that offered the money thank you from the bottom of my heart. The offer blew me away honestly. It was so unexpected. But I honestly don't feel like need the money. Initially, I struggled a bit. I kept asking the Lord for a way to pay the bills. I KNEW He would provide but as usual, it was in an unexpected way. I am so grateful for what God has done. God has provided us. I tell you all of that to let you know that I will not be able to accept the money from the loving person that offered it to our family. I wouldn't feel right taking the money. We have enough right now. We aren't living high on the hog but I am not on any sort of public assistance and my kids don't do without. I will be praying for the lady/gentleman to find someone to gift that money to. From the bottom of my heart please thank them. Their offer is also making me look at the areas where I can run an even tighter ship over here. I can't thank them and you enough. Sincerely,

If you are still interested in finding a worthy cause, the one I always recommend is the Bible ministry of my good friend and former seminary colleague, Curt Omo. I can assure you that not only is the cause worthy, but there is genuine need there as well (happy to provide details). It's certainly up to you! If interested, the link to his ministry (where donations can be made) is Bible Academy. If you'd like to correspond with him personally, I'd also be happy to provide you his email address.

In any case, I can only second our friend's gratitude for your generous spirit!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Thanks for your reply. I think our friend's decision not to accept financial help was the correct one.

Question, I have been working with the blind people for 20 years and it seemed that God was closing that door. Now He seems to be reopening the door. Is it possible that God will close a door and then reopen it?

Thanks again for your help.

Response #2:

God is certainly in control of all things and has everything planned perfectly from beginning to end. When it comes to prime ministry assets such as yourself, I am sure that He takes special care to employ them effectively. From our point of view, each opening and closing is part of the testing we receive to keep us on our toes in great and growing trust in His perfect faithfulness – and also to keep us attuned to the Spirit's still, small voice of guidance.

I rejoice to hear that another door has opened for you, my friend! You have received what I often pray for those I love, "fruitful production into later days". I look forward to cheering you on at the judgment seat of Christ.

Your friend in the dear Lord Jesus our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

I have been spending tons of time reading your articles. I am actually a compulsive reader and learner, I don't like to go out and really don't like the things people my age like to do. I find many of them pointless and boring when I could be in my room reading about how the Lord fulfilled the Feasts, etc. Especially out of college I think 'what was the point of all that, for example I have seen the older adults I know don't have any real connection to people they spent so much time with in college'. Anyway, the articles you wrote about our Lord, and His holding back His own power really speak to me (I don't know anyone who would have that power and not use it) and His allowing us sinners to treat Him so badly to save us.

I just wanted to ask if you had any advice on how I can serve God? I don't think I have any spiritual gifts, but I feel like maybe it is just selfish to spend so much time and resources on personal learning (even if I love it). I don't want to get involved in a godless institution. I hesitate to go to church, because it seems to be a revolving door of people (how do you form friendships when people will be gone in a few years), and there is a lack of Bible teaching. I went to this one Church of Christ Bible Study where the book was Muscle and a Shovel. The whole book the author insults every denomination and person who disagrees with him on any point. And I bought the book, took the time to go to each study, would get angry every time I would read it and discuss it (and arguing that calling someone names because they believe differently [like in Calvinism] is not an argument). I could have spent that time, money and resources studying Hebrew or something like that. Maybe I could volunteer at a Christian charity. The only problem is that there is no continuity with these things. I keep being told that most of the people in trouble are there because of their own decisions, and I don't want to encourage bad decisions. I am very sorry this is so long, but do you have any advice? I also wanted to say that I hope everything is going well with your university/college.

P.S. I just wanted to follow up that it seems like the way you would help/serve in the NT church or even historically would have been through people you personally knew and trusted. This would be due to knowing them for a very long time (or miracles through the apostles). This way you would know who you were helping/giving money to and if it would do good. I had a close older family member tell me that they were asked by another member of the family for money and were going to help, but later found out the person had lied about the emergency to get money. She knew from then on about that person and when she helps it is in the form of going to the store and buying the food with the person, etc. But the sort of accountability and not enabling bad things doesn't seem to exist with charities or churches if there is a revolving door. So I don't know if there is a solution (unless it is just do it through your families, which can be limited).

Response #3:

It's very good to hear from you again. Thanks much for your email and for your testimony. I find your faith and your good choices for the Lord extremely encouraging. As I tell folks, Ichthys is "my church", and I am always delighted to hear that others have gotten some help from it, a little or a lot (Ps.115:1).

I also want to commend you on your goodness of heart in desiring to help others. That is part of the godly progression of spiritual growth. First we learn the truth – and make the truth we learn our own by believing it, reinforcing it by meditating on it and applying it. Then we move forward spiritually for the Lord, dealing with the troubles of this life with faith in the truth, and hope in the future, passing the tests the Lord allows to come our way by trusting Him and being confident of all His future blessings to us. And ultimately we should all, as you desire to do, help our brothers and sisters in Christ do likewise. That is what true Christian service is, namely, helping others also to grow and progress in Jesus Christ.

How does one do that? In fact, there are myriad ways – as many ways as there are believers gifted by the Spirit. And we are all given gifts by the Spirit when we believe:

(7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: (8) for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, (9) to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, (10) to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. (11) But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
1st Corinthians 12:7-11 NKJV

Granted, many of the gifts related in this passage are no longer being given. Paul details more in these three chapters, 1Cor.12-14, and you can find a list and discussion at the link (in BB 5: Pneumatology: "Spiritual gifts"). Paul places emphasis on the spectacular gifts above to make his point. And the point is that gifts are given "for the mutual benefit of all" (1Cor.12:7), because the Body is not one member but many and we are all a part of that body – and we all need each other, the service that each supplies to the other (1Cor.12:12ff.).

If you pray for others, you are helping. If you encourage and comfort others, you are helping. If you do anything to support a genuine ministry that is expounding the Word of God (as when you tell others about Ichthys, or pray for Ichthys, or notice typos or website glitches), you are helping. When you give a good witness of your faith, demonstrate the power of God through your words and actions, through your good attitude in times good and bad, your are helping. In short, Christian service is whatever you do through Jesus Christ for the benefit of His Church – and that redounds to His good pleasure as well.

I do understand what you mean. Paul also says in this context the following:

(4) There are different gifts, but the same Spirit; (5) and there are different ministries, but the same Lord (i.e., Jesus Christ); (6) and there are different results, but the same God who brings about all results in all cases. (7) And to every [Christian] has been given a manifestation of the Spirit for the good (i.e., the edification of the Church).
1st Corinthians 12:4-7

So we all have not only particular gifts but also "different ministries", and I want to stress the "different" part. The church-visible likes to think of ministers and ministries in a traditional way, but that is not the biblical way. There are as many ministers as there are believers – potentially so; and likewise as many ministries. The Lord has given you gifts through the Spirit, but it may take a while to figure out which one(s). Few of us know that early on in our Christian lives. And He also has a personal ministry prepared for you; figuring that out and, more to the point, having that come to fruition, may take even longer. But it probably will not follow in the mold of what most people think of when they hear the word "ministry". But if it is from Christ, then it is good in every way, regardless of what other people think. You have a specific life purpose and God has a specific plan for you which includes you doing what you are doing now, continuing to grow in the Word and the truth, continuing to pass the tests that come, and, in time, coming into a very specific ministry whereby you help others come to Christ or grow in Christ or endure trouble through Christ. And I for one look forward to seeing what wonders He has in mind for you.

It is also certainly true that there are common ministries of which we all have a part. We should all share Christ when the opportunity arises. We should all help other believers we know personally who are in need if we can and the need is genuine. We should all pray – and this is a potentially very dynamic and involved part of ministry. We should all encourage other Christians. We should all strive to give a good witness at all times by living honorable lives and being honorable in all we do. And so much more. But none of the things we should all have some part in take away from the fact that the Lord has in mind for each of us a very particular personal focus and emphasis of ministry. Sadly, most Christians today do not even consider this truth, and never gain enough spiritual growth or momentum to get to the point of being able to do anything positive about it if they did. You are the blessed exception, and I thank God for you.

Be pleased to continue your good progress in the Lord and His truth, read what BB 5 Pneumatology has to say about all this, and give attention to the Spirit's still, small voice. The Lord will prepare you for the use He has for you and bring you into the right ministry at the right time – in all this there is great eternal reward.

Thanks also for your good wishes and concern – and thanks in advance for your prayers.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Good afternoon,

I really appreciate all of your encouragement and advice. Learning the truth has been a road for me (because I constantly analyze and question and take things apart). I still feel like I have a lot of holes in my worldview (I want to be able to trace a basic outline of world history in my mind), and I find at times I still haven't absorbed basic Biblical things I should know to be true. And what you are saying: the praying, encouraging, and such, is in there as commands, so maybe I have been overly focused on money (especially in a time and place where it appears the vast majority have more than the material basics and are never in danger of starving or being naked). I don't want this to sound like a brag, but am just trying to illustrate my habit. In the recent past I have usually have a bit of extra money (I don't like many modern things like Plasma TVs, etc so that helps), and I have given some to ministries that seemed to be good. But I have become hesitant because, for example, (if I remember this correctly) I had given money for a small group I was in for everyone to go on a retreat. Shortly later after the retreat the group had split up and it seemed like no one who had been in it even talked to anyone else who had been in it anymore. (Not out of a fight, but just no interest, I guess). And it seemed like a waste of the money. Now I think about it, it seems like it was also a waste of time to be in the group at all. I mean does it do any good to have a series of (what seem to me to be) superficial fellowships? I don't want you to think I am some great philanthropist-it wasn't a lot of money. Compared to people who tithe regularly especially, it was only a little. But the principal-I don't want to waste time or money, and I don't really see what good these traditional routes do. It is funny to me that ministries that I have found very useful (like Ichthys) are nontraditional and don't take monetary support. Side note: there is also an evangelical ministry of Israelite Jews in Israel doing evangelism in Hebrew to other Israelis, and I can see the videos they do (with English subtitles)-apologetics regarding the Rabbis and Jewish testimonies, and that might seem fruitful/useful to help. (I actually have learned a bit about some Jew's rejection of Him due to some Rabbinical teachings). I think you said in one of your articles that the Lord did not just 'not sin,' but day to day did Scripture and prayer, and each task correctly and perfectly, moment to moment with self control and self discipline at each interaction. That is quite a Person to try to imitate (as is a command to do). So that is one thing I know He wants me to do that I should practice. Also the other thing you said-few people knowing the ministry- is encouraging (and many faithful people in the Bible are only known by one or two things they did-though they probably did more than one or two of course).


Response #4:

You're certainly welcome, my friend.

Yes, our Lord is our perfect exemplar, as Paul says:

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
1st Corinthians 11:1 NKJV

Now I'm sure that Paul would be the first to tell us that he didn't come close to being perfect in this – and given how great a believer Paul was, we shouldn't kid ourselves about falling short of his example either. But this is the standard to shoot for (please see the links: "Imitating Christ" and "Christ set the example for us"). And if we aim high, we may surprise ourselves. In any case, you are right that commands are commands and standards are standards. The main two things to avoid are the two common mistakes believers tend to make when confronted with these truths of either deciding it's impossible and not trying (this results in all manner of bad performance) or of getting depressed about imperfection (this also results in spiritual disaster). We have to realize that in this world we are in a spiritual fight to the finish, and so determine to do our best day by day every day to be the best Christians we can be, doing what Christ would have us to do in growing in the truth, moving forward in our walk with Him, and helping others do likewise. If we slip as all believers do (Jas.3:2) – and that is why we have been given the blessed promise of forgiveness on confession (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5) – then we pick ourselves up and get back in the fight.

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Proverbs 24:16 NIV

As to giving money, my experience mirrors yours. As I sometimes have remarked, even though billions are given in charity in this country every year, though I have known very many Christians in great need in my life, I've never seen a single one of them benefitted by "traditional / organizational charities". I'm sure some are, but other have affirmed my experience. Which leads me to believe that money given in this way may make a person feel good – and God will honor the true intention of every heart – but it won't necessarily accomplish what we hope it might. If we know someone who has a need, we should help to the degree we are able. That is my understanding of the biblical position on this. The less personal giving is, the less effective it tends to be as well (please see the link: Charitable Giving).

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a blessed 2018!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Good afternoon Bob. It's that time of year again, It's a Wonderful Life! was broadcast on the Bravo network last night. Every movie fan knows the inscription to George Baily from his guardian angel Clarence "No man is a failure who has friends."

I've seen the movie dozens of times and discovered hiding in plain sight is the real message of the movie, Peter Bailey's motto displayed in his office - "All you can take with you is that which you've given away"

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me.

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas with health and happiness in 2018!

Response #5:

And thank YOU for sharing that, my friend!

Thanks also for your prayers. Really have been a bit "under fire" on the job front here. We're experiencing a bit of a "war on Classics" at my university (part and parcel of the "if it doesn't produce money, it's worthless" mantra we're all living under these days). But today I had a significant victory – and I know it came from the Lord, and I know that the prayers of folks like yourself made it happen. Thank you!

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dear Professor,

Happy belated thanksgiving! Did you manage to spend it with some of the family? We don’t really ‘celebrate’ it over here, but I certainly know it’s a big thing over in the USA.

Just wanted to say thank you so much for putting these links up to my website - that is more than I could have ever asked for - not that I was ever expecting anything either! I really do appreciate this, and all your future recommendations. A sincere thank you. How has your back been since we last spoke?

I also very much appreciate your prayers about my professional situation and spiritual growth, Professor. I am eager to see what lies ahead, if the Lord wills.

I just wanted to share some big “news” with you - I received a message from one near and dear: “Think I want to start reading the bible… you must guide me. Will talk when you come over.”

I typed up an email and I would appreciate if you could spare a moment or two to cast your eye upon it and whether you would have approached it slightly differently. I tried to keep the issue first and foremost on the gospel message. Where there is life, there is hope.

Your friend in Christ,

1. God's purpose for us here on earth: Salvation

We know that someday soon our time here on earth shall come to an end and we shall experience death. We know that we are imperfect - a consequence of our sin nature - and that we are sinners. We know that God exists, even though most choose to wilfully reject this truth.

After we die, we know that we shall come face to face with our holy, righteous and perfect God. As sinners, we shall have nothing to offer in exchange for our guilt and sinfulness. We would stand condemned.

This fundamental realisation of our undeniable sin, inevitable death and ultimate condemnation should create in us an internal pressure that we cannot ignore and a desire for resolution that we should not defer.

It is through the spiritual death of Jesus Christ on behalf of the sins of all mankind that God has forgiven our sins. Salvation comes to us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Who He is - equally God and equally Man, and what He has done for us - dying for our sins on the cross. He paid the penalty that we as sinners could never pay or justify ourselves before a holy and righteous God. God has opened the gate of salvation, but it is up to us to walk through that gate. When we do, we look forward to eternal life instead of physical death.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17 (NIV)

2. After Salvation, we are called to Sanctification: Spiritual Growth

After we come to salvation, there is only so far we can get from reading the Bible on its own. We need to persist in this faith. Faith, like a muscle, can grow or decay. Just as the body needs a continual flow of blood, so does our spirit need a continual flow of truth.

Thankfully, God hasn’t left us to our own devices - in His grace He has provided us with everything we need - for those who truly want to seek truth. Here is the infrastructure that God provides believers for the building up of their faith and subsequent spiritual growth:

The Word of God
The Holy Spirit
The Bible Teacher

The Bible is the way God communicates to us in this age. The Bible isn’t just a single book. It is a compilation of 66 books, written by 40 different authors over a period spanning some 1500 years. It was originally written in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) over 3 different continents (Africa, Asia, Europe) - all under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.Thus, these authors never collaborated with one another nor were they were able to. If this is not yet astounding enough, consider that these divinely inspired writings are inerrant, contain no contradictions and share a universal message: God’s universal love for us and the implementation of His plan to save mankind through Jesus Christ. Those who do ‘spot’ apparent contradictions haven’t investigated thoroughly enough. Ultimately, those who seek shall find.

In addition to His inspired Word (the Bible), and the Holy Spirit (whom we receive at salvation), we have people who have undergone the necessary preparation in ancient Hebrew and Greek (original languages of the Old Testament and New Testament respectively) and who exercise their teaching gifts through the function of Bible teacher. Just as in a secular profession a teacher illuminates the deeper meaning behind subjects through a systematic and coherent sequence of modules, so it is in the case of a Bible teacher whose purpose it is to feed the body of Christ. He does this by teaching doctrines found throughout scripture and/or through a verse-by-verse exegesis, collating these raw ingredients and making them available in digestible form, all under the power of the Spirit.

3. Where do I start? Suggested sequence

A. Salvation - God’s Free Gift

Reading time: approx 10-15mins


B. Read your Bible: A Basic Christian Right and Responsibility

Reading time: Approx 2-3 hours (best distributed in bite-size chunks)


C. First point of call to complement Bible Reading - Lessons by lesson on Peter’s Series


D. Extra readings - e.g. very encouraging email responses from Ichthys readers:

It is better on the other side: http://www.ichthys.com/mail-better-on-the-other-side.htm

Response #6:

First let me say how pleased I am that you loved one is beginning to respond to the truth. This is a real answer to prayer, I know, and I promise to keep that on my list as well from now on. Let me also say how truly excellent is your synopsis of the gospel and the purpose of our lives after accepting Christ! I found your defense of scripture particularly encouraging and would like to use it when I get around to BB 7 "Bibliology". Keep up the good work, my friend. You are most definitely on the right track!

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time here, so thanks for thinking of me. Your advice and exercises are definitely helping. It's my pleasure to provide a reference – especially a deserved one!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob and family,

Thank you for your response to my question regarding the Seals – as usual, further clarification from you clears it up particularly after re-reading your two points highlighted in blue, I can now see why there isn’t a timeline chart as such. As mentioned in my email, re-reading things shows what can be missed (or misunderstood) the first time, which is why it’s always a good idea to re-read for a better if not clearer understanding.

Bob if there is one thing you have instilled in me from day one of our email correspondences, that is having a preparedness of mind, for without it as you have said before, ‘If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all’ – Isaiah 7: 9. And being a serviceman yourself you would understand the analogy – after the war begins, it too late to learn to shoot a rifle. This something I’ve tried to instil in others in sweet fellowship but unless you’re talking to a like minded person, it falls on deaf ears these days, which I find so sad. But I won’t stop, you never know where you might find a lost sheep. If only they would understand that we are in a war and the enemy we are all fighting is unseen, which tends to lessen the actual significance of it but nevertheless it is very real and in 8 short years it will come in full force and the realisation then may be too late. This is not a game with him, unlike a game of football where we are just observers and we all go home at the end of the game, we are the participants – and the stakes are much higher – if we lose this battle we won’t get to ‘go home’ and this battlefield is in our mind. So many just drifting to a lost eternity without a care.

That word Eternity, not only has a spiritual meaning for me, it has an earthly one as well.

I would like to tell you of a message that meant a lot to me and in the US, you probably haven’t heard of ‘the Eternity man’ as he was dubbed. His name was Arthur Stace – you can Google the Eternity man for an interesting story. He was born in the early 30’s in Sydney, a petty criminal and habitual drunk and homeless at the time. One day, along with others of his falling, he was attending a church meeting before being given a free meal (attendance of the meeting qualified you for a free meal.) It was during this meeting that the preacher was shouting, "Eternity, Eternity, Oh if they would only realise...." This message of Eternity had a profound effect on him and after the meal he was sitting in a park and decided to turn his life over to God. He either found or had a stick of yellow chalk in his pocket and every morning very early, long before most had risen, he would get up and walk the streets of Sydney and he would write Eternity, always in yellow chalk, on street pavements, corners, sides of buildings – everywhere. Hence he became known as the Eternity man. Bear in mind he was illiterate, he could barely write or read, yet the word Eternity was written in the most beautiful script you could imagine! I saw this word many times in the 60’s in my late teens and like so many I always wondered who he was until one day late in his life, someone saw him writing it and said to him – You’re the Eternity man!! His reply was, guilty your honour and his secret had been revealed.

I have never forgotten the word Eternity, nor would many Sydneysiders who saw it either. As you would probably know every new year’s eve Sydney has a spectacular fireworks display on and around the harbour and especially the bridge and a couple of years ago now, emblazoned on the arch of the bridge was the word Eternity, which would have brought back the memory to all who saw it. A fitting tribute to the man who wrote it on the streets.

I sincerely hope we would all think on the word Eternity and what it means.

Will make this do for now and as always dear Bob,

With brotherly love,

Response #7:

Thanks for sharing that great story! Reminds me of the man the Lord threw the legion of demons out of and when he was not allowed to follow the Lord directly (being non-Jewish), he went home and "began to tell in the Decapolis (i.e., the "ten cities") how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed." (Mk.5:20 NIV).

I admire your perseverance in service to the Lord, my friend!

You are a witness and an inspiration to me.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello Bob, Here is the report on my trip to Pakistan-very encouraging!


Response #8:

It's good to hear from you, my friend – and most of all to hear that you have apparently recovered enough health to continue your ministering overseas. Wonderful!

I have indeed been keeping you in my prayers for that as well as for your comfort in loss and for the continuation of your ministry.

I'm posting a link for your ministry at the site.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Dr.,

Hope you are well, caught a nasty virus myself, so I’m moving slower than usual, but I’ll survive (I think). I have three MP3 files for you this week with more in the mix and I’ll be sending them your way as I get them finished.

Been busy getting projects done around the house and working both jobs. Some drama at the workplace, seems finances are not what they should be so every department needs to make another mandatory 2% cut (no exceptions), things are tight as it is, we’ll see how it goes.

Our beloved dog king passed away quietly in his sleep, he was happy up until the end and showed no signs of discomfort, we are thankful for that as well as the time he spent with us over the years, glad he was our pet, he is missed. However, I do agree with your teaching on the subject of animal spirits. God loves all His creation and there will be plenty of room in the new Heavens and Earth for all of His creatures.

How are you? I’m keeping you in prayer here.

All the best!


Response #9:

Got the files AOK, uploaded and working fine. There is plenty of audio on the site now to keep a person busy for a LONG time (see the link)!

I'm sorry to hear about your virus – hope it clears off soon (said a prayer to that effect). I'm also sorry to hear about your pooch, but it seems that the Lord was so good in preparing you for what had to happen sooner or later and having it happen with a respite and in the best possible way. And yes, a great point: there will be plenty of "room" in the new universe for all God's creatures. Eternity no doubt won't be long enough to explore it all.

Workplace drama is the norm around here as well. I hope that it doesn't directly affect you. We are in a chronic financial down-spiral at U of L or so it seems. If I didn't have tenure, I'm sure I'd be a gone goose. But the Lord got me through that hurdle.

Physically, as my dear departed mother used to say, "I'm in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in".

I wish you and your wife a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend. In spite of losses and troubles and trials, there is so much to be grateful for – the salvation which is ours for all time through our Lord's sacrifice of sacrifice being the chief among them of course.

Your friend in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Sir,

I'm so thankful to God and I believe it's His will that I came across to your website. And you know what? Many of my questions in the Bible have now already been answered. It's not only about my query but I noticed that I am growing deeper in my knowledge of the Scripture. What I'm quite blessed by is with your exegesis. I know you have invested studying and investigating every particular context of the Scripture (i.e. The Magi most probably came from the time of Daniel). Would you mind to recommend any exegetical books or any materials that will help me interpret the Scripture better, so that I will not be just toast by many teachings out there that lack balance?

I was just amazed your mastery of rightly dividing the Word of God, for instance , the foreknowledge God vs the free will of man.

Do you have a specific teaching on evangelism? I've already read some of your email conversation about evangelism and its quite challenging. And beside I will be conducting an evangelism seminar next week; maybe if you can give a link on this subject that would be more great. The fact is that your teaching on Soteriology is already very helpful in this matter.

God bless you, your family and your ministry.

In Christ we serve,

Response #10:

Thanks for your encouraging words!

As to your question, I'm afraid that I don't know of any books which might be helpful in laying out "the method" of how to do exegesis (none I would approve of, at any rate). In any case, the method is really very simple to describe if difficult to carry through: 1) be given the gift of pastor-teacher; 2) learn Greek and Hebrew very well; 3) grow up to spiritual maturity under a solid teaching ministry that digs into the Word of God the right way; 4) learn the doctrines of scripture; 5) learn the Bible inside out; 6) work very hard at figuring things out and teaching for many years; 7) give yourself over to the Spirit for Him to guide you and to honor you hard work and solid preparation by leading you to the truth.

So the steps are easy to explain but hard to do of course (and #1 is something God does or doesn't do irrespective of our desires or hard work). I don't know of any short cuts. So I would advise you to keep on plugging away as you are doing. That is the only way to get to the other side – good for you!

On evangelism, BB 4B is the main reference I would have. Here are a few other links which perhaps you might have overlooked:

Apostles and Evangelism

Evangelism in Principle and Practice I

Evangelism in Principle and Practice II

Witnessing: Cults and Christianity I

Witnessing: Cults and Christianity II

I will also note that this is a frequent topic of discussion at Ichthys so it is likely to be found in many other places. You might try some key word searches (e.g., "evangelism", "witnessing") using the Google site search feature; just plug the following into the Google search line and then input your key word (make sure there is a blank space after the terminal colon):


Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:


If it isn't too much trouble may I bother you for some Greek to English translations in a few verses? I plan on writing a book and/or pursuing some of these verses that I struggle with in order to glorify God and empower women. My gut tells me that there may be some misinterpretations in the text.

Best Wishes,

Response #11:

As to your request, I commend your intention to look to the scriptures for guidance. That is, in my view, the only way to find the actual truth. It's not always a matter of only looking at a few verses, of course. The entirety of what the Bible has to say is always to be taken into account, and so of course is the context of whatever verse one is considering as well. Here is a link to where my original translations are to be found on the website: "Translations at Ichthys".

Wishing you the best for your plans for future ministry and preparation in that direction!

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #12:

I don't understand the simile here:

In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.
2nd Samuel 21:19

Response #12:

The loom rod was long enough for a long rug and so too long for a spear shaft – except in the case of a gigantic person.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dear Bob,

An extrapolative idea. Would a past historical event, such as Jonah and the great fish, find a future fulfillment in Christ more than just the time in the grave? Christ conquered the grave (fish vomits Jonah) and he delivers the message to Nineveh (Christ raises up Paul to minister to Gentiles). Jonah as the prefigure of the current Jews in regards to their stance towards Gentiles? Their failure to bless the world with the gospel of the grace of God, as Peter rightly confessed: “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”(Acts 15:11 NKJV).

Would such an interpretation border on process theology?

May you continue teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence.

Response #13:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I would categorize the sort of thing you mention here as an "application" of the truth as a opposed to an "interpretation" of scripture. In other words, there are many times a scripture or biblical event etc. will suggest parallels to other things and may indeed be helpful in illustrating them – and that can often be the case without it being at the same time an actual interpretation of the passage. I.e., it's not "precisely what the passage means", but it does illustrate "the biblical point I'm trying to make" very well.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Professor,

I hope you have had a good week so far.

Below is a question I have for you and I was wondering if you could help me answer it? Please don’t rush to reply back.

Recently on Ichthys whilst reading your study on Christology I came across a section which prompted me to interrogate it. The subtitle of the section in Christology is The Names of Jesus Christ reflect His perfect Person and His perfect Work.

In the verses below you talk about Jesus Christ where he is described as the The Son of David. My question surfaced when you used the following reference of 2nd Samuel 7:11b-13 in a different way compared to Curtis Omo, who also used the verse in one of his CS Christmas Special lessons. Curt’s interpretation (in short) of the verse is that The LORD is speaking to the prophet Nathan who will then pass the message on to David. The message being that it is not David who will build the house (temple) for the Lord but it will be his offspring, i.e. Solomon. Curt didn’t mention that this verse was also talking about Jesus Christ, whilst on the other hand you used this verse to describe our Saviour as The Son of David. Does this verse have two meanings?

28) The Son of David: Jesus is David's literal “son” as a direct descendant through the mother of His humanity (Luke's genealogy: Lk.3:23-38), and legal heir as a direct descendant through His step-father Joseph (Matthew's genealogy: Matt.1:1-17). Jesus is also the prophetic “greater Son” of David, the Messiah, the promised coming King who would provide the ultimate fulfillment of the promises made to David by the Lord, the “Davidic Covenant” (Ps.89:13-37). In His capacity of “Son of David”, Jesus is David's “seed” (Rom.1:3) and the “Lion” of the tribe of Judah, and “the root of David” (Rev.5:5; cf. “Branch” above #4).

“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
2nd Samuel 7:11b-13 NIV

If the question is not clear enough please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you my friend.

In our Saviour, Jesus Christ

Response #14:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

You have hit the nail on the head, as we say – the verse does have a double application. Solomon is a "type of Christ" (as David is as well). In all such instances of typology, the person stands for or represents Christ (Melchizedek is another such example that comes to mind). Here are a few links where this phenomenon is discussed:


Old Testament Typology

Hermeneutics, Typology, etc.

Keeping you in my prayers daily!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

This question has been gnawing on my soul.

According to results of mathematical logic, all axiom systems strong enough to do both addition and multiplication cannot prove all true statements without becoming inconsistent. So I am left with two options:

* Say it’s okay for logical systems to be inconsistent. This is suicide.

* Reject all mathematics that involves anything more complicated than multiplication as false.

Perhaps God did not intend for humans to do anything more complicated than addition. I am being 100% serious: I need to consider this a serious possibility.

Response #15:

I'm out of my depth here. One thing I will say however, is that I've always found the idea of mathematics being precise and accurate as somewhat ridiculous. As in the number "one" . . . one what?! Absent a referent, the number is meaningless; if it refers to an actual, concrete "something", that "one" is different by definition from any other "one" in some ways in all cases where real things are being considered so that "two" is a ridiculous notion. That's about as high as I can count. Blessedly, the Lord deals in words.

Here are some links on numbers in the Bible:


The Number 20

The Number 40

The Number 12 (question #4)

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

How are you doing? How’s your health?

I’ve been doing all right. Physically I feel better than I have since August. Mentally I actually feel happy, oddly enough, even though there are many reasons not to. And I’ve been trying to focus more and more on growing spiritually (which is probably a source of the happiness). I devised a partial Bible reading plan for myself for the first half of this year that entails 4 chapters a day: one from Psalms/Proverbs, one from the three Major Prophets (including Lamentations and Daniel to round out June), one from the Gospels (of which I’ll end up reading all four twice), and one from Acts through Revelation. This is the first time I’ve tried a fixed reading plan like this and I’m very much enjoying it.

Last week I was reading Matthew 23 and I was struck by verses 8-12.

8But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (NIV)

Please correct me where I’m wrong here, but I observed several things in these verses.

1. Verse 10 is the Instructor, the Messiah, the Son. Verse 9 is the Father in heaven. And verse 8 mentions the Teacher, and that the audience are all brothers. I think this is a Trinitarian passage and the Teacher is therefore the Holy Spirit. This role of the Spirit as teacher would seem to fit with 1 John 2:27 “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him” where the anointing is the Holy Spirit.

2. “…and you are all brothers”: Jesus’ audience for these words is said in verse 1 to be the crowds and His disciples. The crowds were all Jewish and so “brothers” in an ethnic sense, but Jesus’ disciples were brothers in a different way. They were brothers in the way that all believers in the Messiah are brethren. In that way, since all believers since the Pentecost of Acts 2 are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it makes sense that the phrase “and you are all brothers” is included in the verse about the Spirit.

3. I found something I hadn’t seen before in verses 11 and 12. On one level the words are directed to the crowds and the disciples in an instructional way, and this matches Jesus’ other teachings. Verse 12 is the same as Luke 14:11 (which is in a different context), and verse 11 is almost the same as Matthew 20:26. But then I read the next couple of verses after 20:26 and that lead me to see the other meaning of what Jesus was saying.

Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV)
26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

So here Jesus connected instruction to his disciples with an application to himself. I think another level of verses 11 and 12 in chapter 23 is directed to the crowds and disciples in a prophetic way, referring to the Son of Man himself. The end of verse 10 says “the Messiah”, so he is the immediate antecedent. In verse 11, Jesus was certainly the greatest among them, and he said in 20:28 that he came as a servant. This use of “servant” makes me think of Isaiah 53. Then in verse 12, in application to Jesus, I thought of Philippians 2. The Carmen Christi is set in the context of humility (vs. 3), and says in verse 8: “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” So, taking verses 11 and 12 together: the greatest among them, the Messiah, would be their servant, giving his life as a ransom for many, humbling himself in obedience unto the cross-death, and then would be resurrected and ascend to heaven where he would be exalted.

So, again, please correct me if I’m wrong in any of that. I wanted to run these observations by you to make sure I’m not trying to read too much into the text, especially the application. Thanks in advance.

Yours in our in Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Response #16:

It's good to hear from you, my friend. I do keep you all in my prayers daily. When it comes to doing right by family members, I understand guilt feelings, but guilt is usually a very poor indication of what's right to do. When it convicts us of something definitely sinful, that is one thing; but more often than not that emotion represents our sin nature struggling against some difficult but correct decision.

I love your observations, and I think that this is good example of how when someone with the gift begins to spend quality time in the scriptures that many such things begin to open up. Best advice: devise some sort of system for capturing these insights. That will be valuable to you when the Lord leads you into your own ministry.

Problems persist here, but I'm trying to fight through them. Prayers always appreciated for health and for the job. God is good and always sees us through. And it's good to remember that all our present troubles won't bother us a bit at the judgment seat of Christ on the one hand, and on the other at that moment we won't regret a single thing we did for Him in spite of them.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have never been good at understanding eschatology and don't quite exactly know what an a-millenialist it, or a preterist. A pastor taught a-millenialism, and that there is no 1000 year reign of Christ. I think he said that the 1,000 years is symbolic. Then there is a group of Christians that believe that Satan is already bound in the botomless pit and use all sorts of bible verses that don't seem to reconcile with other verses. Can you please help me to understand what a-millenialist and preterists are? I have sort of an idea of what they are but not entirely.

God Bless,

Response #17:

For eschatology generally, I recommend BB 2B: Eschatology. It's an introduction – albeit a LONG one.

You are right on the money in terms of amillennialism: these folks refuse to accept that Revelation, e.g., has anything useful to say at all, deeming nearly all eschatology as merely symbolic.

Preterism is a term which in biblical studies general means "already happened"; so there are those who feel that John, e.g., was describing events that took place before, during or shortly after his inspired penning of Revelation. There are a wide variety of "flavors" of this. They all have in common that they are not only incorrect but have a very low opinion of the Bible as God's Word.

The main thing to note then is that both are wrong as wrong can be, and very easily obviously so, since they deny the clear meaning of scripture as part of their fundamental theories (as anyone reading Revelation even in English can plainly see). See the link: "Interpreting Revelation" where the various false schools are briefly described.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Hope you are doing well. I am preparing a Sermon for Sunday and was wondering why James uses some peculiar words in James Chapter 4 verses 2 and 4.

2You desire and do not have, so you murder.

4You adulterous people!

I believe that maybe the use of the word "murder" constitutes spiritual killing of ones spirit. Adulterous means intimate familiarity with the world based on the context of the remainder of Verse 4. Just wanted to run my conclusions by you and see what you can tell me and put me on the right path if need be. Any help would be much appreciated.

The Sermon (message) title is " What does God want from us".

Blessings to you,

Your friend,

Response #18:

James is one of the more difficult epistles to interpret, and many things about it have bothered and exercised exegetes over the centuries. One has to factor in that James is writing from a contemporary Jewish perspective to Jewish believers (Jas.1:1). In terms of difficulties of translation, the verse following what you ask about is particularly difficult and generally misunderstood and mistranslated (see the links: "The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy: explaining James 4:5"; "interpreting James I" and "interpreting James II").

As to your question, I'm pretty sure that literal murder is not what he has in mind, but since this epistle is written to the diaspora of Jews in which of course there were many unbelievers and no doubt some former believers who had reverted, we can't completely rule that out. But throughout this chapter and from the middle of the preceding one (chapters are modern inventions) James has been remonstrating with his correspondents regarding quarreling and failure to seek peace among brethren. As John says,

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1st John 3:15 NIV

So I think you are correct to see this in the spiritual sense that being at odds with other Christians and failing to project love to them (agape, tolerant love), is close to hate which is close to murder – because the motive is there if not the act (as in mental adultery).

This then will set the tone / tenor of interpretation for "adulteresses"; likewise we can't say that some in the groups receiving the letter were not literally guilty, but spiritual adultery is the main idea: reverting to a worldly perspective and idolizing the world instead of continuing to grow spiritually and manifest virtue (faith, hope and love) as part of one's Christian witness.

"Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?"
Ezekiel 14:3 NKJV

Keeping you and your ministry in my prayers, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

As you know Genesis 1:3-4 God said "Let there be light, and there was light. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and morning, one day.

My question is : This light that spoke in verse 3 above. I read some time ago, a book called "God's Master Plan". In this book the author stated that in the Hebrew text the verse should read:" God said "Let Him be the light." I am not sure about the Hebrew text, but if you can verify that it states that in Hebrew I would appreciate. If not I know that the person who claims this is incorrect. I know that this appears to have been some sort of Spiritual light, for physical light was not created until verse 14. Can you clarify for me my assumptions?

Also, when Abraham spoke to his son saying that "God would provide the lamb", this same author says that this verse in Hebrew should read "God shall provide Himself for a Lamb. This does make biblical sense as that is exactly what God did in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Can you please let me know if he is also right or wrong on this text. I would appreciate it very much.

Had a great Bible study today on the 6th Chapter of Galatians. I quoted some of your material, which is really good. Thanks much my friend for all your help. God's Bless you richly.

Your friend,

Response #19:

Good to hear of the success of your teaching! I'm looking forward to cheering you on at the judgment seat of Christ, my friend!

As to your questions:

1) The verb at Genesis 1:3 is 3/s . . . but God is the One speaking. So "Him" would have to be someone other than God, but God is the only "Him"; also, for a reader not to take light as the subject, one would need an expressed subject to avoid confusion, but there is none. For this to mean "the light", there would have to be a definite article with "light" and there isn't one in the text.

2) For Genesis 22:8, the Hebrew very clearly has lo, "for Himself"; this word would have to be removed . . . and other drastic surgery committed on the passage . . . for it be able to mean what is suggested.

Either the person in question does not know Hebrew very well or he is willing to do great violence to the text to come up with preferred meaning.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Okay I can accept that, but what kind of light is being referred to in Genesis 1:3? Or am I trying to read to much into this verse? Perhaps God created this light, whatever it was without the Sun or moon, because of the darkness that was on the earth caused by the fall of Satan?

Thanks again doc.

Your friend,

Thanks for the encouragement, I will be there cheering you on!

Response #20:

The word for "light" in Genesis 1:3 is the standard Hebrew word. As to your supposition, yes, I agree: In my treatment of these events I have posited that light generally was restored – and later "collected" into the light giving bodies we now see (see the link).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Please let me know if you received the whole book, 372 pages. First time I'm sending this, so I am not sure if this works, thanks. The prologue and intro are important, If you find it objectionable let me know that as well, thanks again.

I want to respect your time. I apologize for not getting back to you. I went on a short trip with my wife and son to visit friends and family. Don't worry if you don't have a lot of time about reading my book draft. I'll attach it. Enjoy it at your leisure and let me know what you think. Remember I'm considering publishing it anonymously. If you have questions I'll consider these, and your input. It will be an unusual read. I've never written a book before and I am outside the common scope of many. Thanks In Christ Jesus.

Response #21:

I did receive your text.

I will give you a couple of initial observations, but first let me provide a caveat: it's very difficult for anyone but the author him/herself to really "understand" a book. Even editors and often reviewers who have spent a great deal of time with a book don't necessarily spend enough time – and couldn't spend as much as the author (all this I know through personal experience with the two secular books I've published among other things).

1) I don't believe that there are prophets today, nor do I believe that God is the practice today of speaking audibly to anyone. However, I also don't believe in dictating to others their personal experiences. This is something between you and the Lord. The main point I would like to make about this is that just because someone claims something, something which may actually seem true enough to them, does not obligate the rest of us to accept it. It's not a lack of faith to be reluctant to believe everything we are told by other human beings, even if they are believers. As the convenience store sign reads: "In God we trust – others pay cash".

2) Salvation is simple – for us – because Christ paid for everything. It does not require looking backward and resolving past issues. It is forward looking, a rebirth from above, not a dredging up of past dead things here below. It is true that in modern day evangelicaldom there is a surfeit of misinformation about this but nothing could be more important to understand. That is because it is very easy to make salvation about what we do instead of what Jesus did. But we are saved by grace through faith and not of works (Eph.2:8-9); if we add works, we are not saved.

3) In terms of joy in the Lord, this has come to me and to many of those this ministry seeks to help (as their testimonies affirm) through faith in the truth. Not "dead doctrine" or a straight-jacket of dull, old and often incorrect tenets, but through the living, breathing Word of God found in scripture (not through personal revelation or extra-biblical sources such as Josephus), and in having that scripture explicated through teaching in the Spirit. You affirm that we need each other as members of the Body, and so we do. One of the things we all need is good Bible teaching. The fact that much teaching is false and that most teaching is worthless does not remove the need for good teaching nor does it mean that all teaching today is without merit. If you seek, you will find, for the Lord will provide.

4) I certainly can affirm a similarity in experience in regard to being "outside" the mainstream and the hostility we experience that comes with that. And I think your encouragement of others in this regard is very good, especially coming from your particular perspective. You have a story to tell, and that is clearly part of your purpose.

One last question: why would want to publish this "anonymously"?

Feel free to write me.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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