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Ministry and Preparation for Ministry IV

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Question #1: 


Hello Bob and family,

I don’t know if you’ve ever come across this PDF book NIGHT by Elie Wiesel before – I have only just found it and read it in one sitting, to my absolute horror. I have to tell you I wasn’t far into it when I just broke down in a very uncontrollable burst of the worst tears and crying I have ever felt and I kept sobbing Dear Father, how unworthy, how unworthy I am. I just had to tell someone that, and you were the only person I wanted to share this grief with that I felt for these survivors. I was seeing Tribulation much more clearly and in so many paragraphs I was recalling scripture, knowing that this horror will happen again in our day.

I’m sure, if you have read it you would understand my feelings which are so hard to describe, it just makes me more determined in wanting to be a help unto others when so many are now are just ‘the walking dead’ and so blind to the events that will unfold in the next 9 short years. I am praying unceasingly that He will reveal through the Spirit what He would have me do – even if it’s just a small thing – if He can use me, then use me.

I am still trying to point others to ichthys but to no avail as yet, I guess I haven’t yet come to the point where I can recognise a true lost sheep and perhaps it’s because they’re few and far between but I’ll never stop trying for Jesus’ sake. Being the age I am now the only thing that matters to me is keeping my own salvation intact and trying my best to show who I am living for in the hope that I can season my words with enough salt to create a thirst in others for what I have – and it isn’t easy in this world when so many are going in a different direction but I must keep on trying.

I can never express in words how much your efforts in creating ichthys has meant to me and having told you my testimony before (the false churches that I once belonged to) and the fact that I don’t want anything to do with any of them, knowing their end, if I went to church for a million Sundays I could never have the understanding of my Bible that you have given me and I can’t thank you enough.

I’ll make this do for now dear Bob and again with brotherly love,

Response #1: 

I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers. Thanks so much for your encouragement, my friend, and for your good words (Ps.115:1).

I've never read this book but I've read a lot about the holocaust and WWII, and I have seen Mr. W. on television several times. Skimming over this attachment, it's always been amazing to me that individuals such as this could suffer so much and yet become more alienated from God rather than being led to Him. But that is a personal choice. There are in fact many believers who are only lukewarm who in the near future no doubt will also turn away from the Lord, "[who] when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Lk.8:13 KJV). That is part of the story of the coming darkness, one third of the genuine Church lost to apostasy.

But there are two other parts as well, namely, the one third who are martyred for the Lord, who "triumphed over [the adversary] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" (Rev.12:11 NIV). This is only possible with an enduring faith, a faith which is not lukewarm but which loves the Lord more than anything in this world. And there is also the one third which will "endure until the end" (Matt.24:13), and will see Him return with their own eyes, having steadfastly made it through all of the trials of the Great Tribulation with their faith intact. This also will require great faith, founded on and built up in the milk of the Word of God.

Where do all these wonderful believers come from? It must be the case that the Tribulation will be for Christians what the holocaust was for the [unbelieving] Jews of the last century. In the latter case, for most, even for great men like Elie Wiesel, their lack of actual faith was confirmed and hardened, and they came to look for solutions exclusively in the secular world – the Zionist cause (when in fact only the Lord can truly regather the Jewish people), but some did come to believe . . . and all of the poor young children we rightly lament are in heaven today, having perished without the opportunity to choose.

In the former case, many Christians will likewise fall away, this time from genuine though lukewarm faith – but more will endure, and half of these will be willing to give up their lives rather than compromise their faith. All this must mean that there will be opportunities to minister the truth once the Tribulation begins, when the terrors of that coming time shake lukewarm Laodicea out of her complacency.

(33) And those among the people who have insight will teach the people who will be persecuted by sword (i.e., martyrdom), and flame (i.e., torture leading to martyrdom), and captivity (i.e., imprisonment), and plundering (i.e., confiscation of property), for some time. (34) And when they are persecuted, they will receive a little help . . .
Daniel 11:33-34a

So in terms of preparation, while it is a very human thing to want to provide ahead of time for the material needs of those we love, I'm sure that the Lord is more concerned with us preparing spiritually for the spiritual needs of those He loves, many of whom we may not even have met or know about . . . and many who at present are resistant to our good-hearted efforts aimed at encouraging their spiritual growth here and now.

So keep up the great work, my friend! I know that this pleases the Lord and will result in a wonderful reward for you on that great day to come!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Good morning Bob and family,

My days are spent reading and re- reading ichthys and I particularly enjoy waiting on your Saturday postings; even they alone are such a help to both myself and others. I can't help feeling sorry for those who write to you only wanting to criticize you with their misguided beliefs and I can't help but think by your answers, a soft answer turneth away wrath is something we could all do with a dose of at times.

Firstly I must apologise for the question following because I know we have gone over this before and I do thank you so much for your patience with me but the question still gnaws at me.

To come straight out with it, I'm still troubled by the fact that when the second half of Tribulation begins and Satan sets up a One World Government through the anti-Christ and the mark being introduced to all, disallowing those of us without it to buy and sell; I can't help but still think how will we live in our own homes?

I understand all that you've said to me in the past and I don't have a problem with that insofar as I know He will save those destined to be saved and I can accept if I am marked for martyrdom, then I pray for the courage to face it.

I would assume that a One World Government would have to be instituted to allow it to happen and implementing the mark won't happen overnight, it does cause me to wonder just how long it would take as many things will hinge on its final set-up. When it is finally in place world-wide and because we can't even pay whatever council/government charges just to live in our homes, I can only think they may/will be taken from us and given to someone with the mark. Where will that leave you and I will we just have to walk away from them?

I can only think we will be on the streets' or something similar. But being on the streets is going to place us in extreme danger exposing us for who we are, which is why I still wonder, will He provide for us if we went into hiding. (I know that there are hundreds of people [preppers] building basement type fortresses and stockpiling food I don't mean anything like that.)
I just wonder if He will provide in some way as He did in the Exodus?

I understand from scripture you will be given a window of opportunity to come out of her at some time late in the second half before she is destroyed but the scripture isn't clear for the rest of the world to do the same. I can only think because we are gentiles too like yourselves, then it would stand to reason that He knows our situation as well and the Spirit would give us some guidance at that time. Am I right in assuming this?

Because the U.S. (Mystery Babylon) will be a place of comparative safety until this time (because the anti-Christ will still use it) the rest of the world being under the anti-Christ's control, it does make me wonder if persecution will be intensified here outside of the U.S. immediately after the mark and long before the U.S. These are just some of the questions that I would like your insight on as some people that I talk to will ask these sort of questions of me and I would like to be totally clear on it to be able to answer in a way that others will understand.

I am sure that by understanding Daniel 12:8-9 that the Spirit will cause us to know what to do and when and I will continue praying unceasingly about it as I don't want to do anything unless clearly prompted by the Spirit as I know it could all be for naught.

I sincerely hope my continued question on this subject will only raise further thought and encouragement to you I continually pray that He will preserve you and that we both see Him together and that ichthys will have free course in this ever darkening world even in the coming days.

As always dear Bob, with brotherly love,

Response #2: 

It's always great to hear from you, my friend! I'm happy to discuss these things with you any time, so please don't think of this as an imposition – it's "my job" as well (so to speak).

I suppose the first thing to point out is that the identification of mystery Babylon on my part is an interpretation. As I have affirmed numerous times, with the end so near (again, according to the interpretation I have often published and certainly believe), it's very hard to see how this identification could be wrong, but that still needs to be said. The second thing from your point of view would be trying to suss out in advance the situation as it will obtain "down under" in the Tribulation. The western quadrant of the world, from which mystery Babylon must come, is otherwise not specified in prophecy (for obvious reasons); the east is only directly involved as far as scripture is concerned during the Armageddon campaign. Which one your country belongs to biblically speaking is a matter of debate. I have opined, since Revelation does say that antichrist will rule the whole world but only after the mid-point of the Tribulation, that this dominance may be somewhat less than direct and "hands on" in the case of the east and other far-flung regions. We know that unless the Lord had "shortened the days" then "no flesh" would have survived. So it is clear that the beast's reign would be destructive of everyone and everything, given enough time to run. Blessedly, it will not be, and the farther removed from his centers of power no doubt the better. But there will be hard times for us all until the second advent.

The departure commanded of believers from Babylon is occasioned by the imminent destruction of that nation. Believers who are living elsewhere in the world will be under no such necessity to move out with alacrity – the command very specifically will be to "flee Babylon!". Again, I have opined that for those of us dwelling in Babylon when the command comes, Jerusalem is the most logical place toward which to flee. Once antichrist emerges from the darkness of the north and summons the world to Armageddon, Israel will be the one place on earth not under his control to any degree (after Babylon, which also revolted from him, is destroyed). The danger for those not having allied themselves with the beast who are also living at that time neither in Israel nor Babylon will not be of the imminent destruction or invasion of their countries but that of being dragooned into the vast army the beast will assemble to do battle with Christ at the second advent. We know from scripture clearly enough of the horrific and well-deserved fate of that army. No believer should be anywhere near that campaign, but it may be that resisting recruitment will be difficult and entail paying a high price in some cases. That is speculation since scripture doesn't say. And on the other hand, we can expect most of the world to enthusiastically join in, so perhaps there won't be enlistment pressure for most. We'll have to wait and see.

Here is a passage I have been thinking about regarding your potential situation – and indeed that of us all – during that difficult time:

Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past.
For behold, the Lord comes out of His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
The earth will also disclose her blood,
And will no more cover her slain.
Isaiah 26:20-21 NKJV

This would seem to indicate that what it is reasonable to suppose in any case is indeed proper policy for the Christian during those dark times, namely, staying out of public view as much as that is possible to do. Some prior preparation may indeed be helpful in doing so.

As I have tried to suggest in the past, a balanced approach would seem to me to be the best one in this as in most things. If we are doing nothing, that may be too little; however, if we are devoting all of our time and energy to a strategy of material preparation, then on the one hand our spiritual preparation is likely to suffer, and on the other hand we stand to risk being very disheartened if things don't go the way we anticipated – and in my own life experience, things have never gone the way I've anticipated.

So part of the issue I am dealing with here as someone to whom others look for a measure of guidance is a reluctance to give any encouragement to head down what I see as a potentially very destructive path, namely, of falling into the trap of hyper-preparation. That temptation would be very easy to succumb to even in normal times; how much more so given what is happening in the world today and what is likely to be happening in the near future. Christians need to recognize that Jesus Christ is their security. This does not get us off the hook from working for a living, for example, but while the Bible commends good hard work, it also always points out the folly of storing up wealth. Applying that principle to this problem would suggest that some normal, natural preparation is not a bad thing, but that going "whole hog" as we say over here could well be a big mistake, not only because of the potential waste, but even more because of what it can do to the spiritual health of persons so involved. When we begin to see our stockpile or preparations as our security, our relationship with the Lord cannot help but suffer – just as when/if we begin to see our wealth (I'm having to imagine this one) as our security, we will tend to rely on that rather than on the Lord. And we do know or very well should know that the Lord can provide for us no matter what happens. That again is not an excuse to sit on our hands and do nothing at all; but it is the starting point from which we should approach this problem. Anything done in faith that regardless of what happens the Lord has it all in hand may be fine to do; anything that is done out of fear that unless it is done everything will go wrong is at the very least not manifesting much faith in the Lord. As is often the case, the very same exact action can be right or wrong based upon the motivation of the Christian who is taking it, whether it is being done in faith or in fear (Rom.14:23; cf. Jas.4:17).

It's not much of an answer, I suppose, but perhaps it will give you some things to chew on. Do feel free to write back about this any time!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers day by day.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello Bob,

Again firstly my thanks for responding to these questions and as usual, your answers always give me something to think on and consider.

I suppose the main thrust of my questions relate to paragraphs 3 and 4 in my email to you, which I’m sure you would understand would also come from others who may ask me about it as well. I understand that these specific questions are very difficult to answer on both yours and my part to another and I suppose it’s because we really can’t say for certain until this situation presents itself. In reading paragraphs 5 and 7, would it be wrong to have the skeleton of a ‘plan’ thought out, which wouldn’t occupy a vast amount of time – and only be a simple plan tucked away in the back of our mind which includes minimal equipment that one person can carry (that many of us already have and don’t require much time to procure it) and be ready to move if and when prompted by the Spirit? (I recall in a previous email you mentioned we may be constantly on the move.) Again I would assure you unless I am prompted, I don’t want to place myself or anyone else in danger in following any prior plan.

The reason I’ve put it this way is because if it does become impossible to live in our own home – (we don’t know how that’s going to play out as yet but more than likely, we will know when it happens) without even the slightest plan could leave us in more trouble.

I enjoyed the passage from Isaiah and I suppose the first four lines could be interpreted a number of ways, perhaps even as I am thinking but I would think you would mean it to remain in your place, wherever that may be. I guess the thought of not being able to buy and sell is still prominent in my mind in regard to not being able to pay relevant charges to allow that. ‘Staying out of public view as much as possible’ no doubt would be mandatory but in order to survive we will have to mix with society somehow, unless He provides for us in some way as He did for those in the Exodus. I can only think that a very high level of faith will be required to realise and obey Matthew 6: 25 – 34.

I’m also thinking He will provide a safe place for the Jews who turn back to Him, where He will nourish them for 3.5 years – you and others are given instruction to come out of her at the appropriate time where you will flee from it – it does raise a question for the rest of the world, if the mark is world-wide and I’m sure it will be as it is specific, what avenue is open for us?

Please don’t think Bob, that I’m ignoring your advice – far from it, what you’ve said makes sense, it’s just because there are doubts still in my mind about this. Perhaps my doubts can be related to the Israelites doubting Moses.

Again and as always dear Bob, with brotherly love,

Response #3: 

I'm not the least bit worried about you. You clearly have "your head screwed on straight". I don't think there is anything wrong with having contingency plans. One principle to keep in mind with such plans, however, is the need for flexibility – since plans never ever go exactly according to plan.

Matthew 6:25-34 is difficult for every Christian at all times – not just during times of excruciating pressure; but it is exactly at times of such pressure that our Lord demonstrates to us that His promises and reassurances in this regard are absolutely worthy of relying upon. He is 100% faithful and as God cannot be otherwise. So we really do have absolutely nothing to fear. If we for whatever reason don't get around to making any plans or putting anything away against that day, we will not for that reason be abandoned by Him. We may have some "interesting moments", but that is no doubt going to be true in any case. What we can do to mess things up is to get so wrapped up in planning and preparing that instead of building up our faith in the time remaining we actually weaken it because of over-reliance on what we do. So if we do plan, it should be with in complete understanding that our plans may be completely foiled and may completely fail to anticipate the future situations ahead – so that our mindset should be one of complete reliance on the Lord rather than our plans. The same goes for any preparations we make. We're not going to miss the resurrection or suffer outside of the will of God on account of failing to put aside sufficient canned goods et al., but we may very well do so if we get a case of hyper-preparation syndrome and come to doubt His perfect provision and providence as a result.

The Isaiah passage as with all other applicable passages gives us only some general principles; the specifics we will have to find out at the time.

As to safe havens, the flight to the haven in the desert is only for the Jewish believers in Israel at the Tribulation's midpoint. I don't see any way for gentiles believers to be a part of that; it may be that some few who wish to go and are allowed to go to Israel during the ministry of Moses and Elijah will be included. But that is not the way scripture portrays it.

In terms of Babylon, the potential of things being better there than elsewhere during the first half and possibly also into the second half of the Tribulation is merely an informed speculation on my part. Things could be worse, of course. I base my supposition of that potential on the fact that there will apparently still be a large number of believers in Babylon just prior to her destruction – hence the command to "come out of her my people" (Rev.18:4; cf. Jer.51:45).

I'm also not exactly sure where your country and NZ fit into all this; if part of the east, it may be that your country too will be relatively untouched until the very end; if part of the west, the same thing could apply. Clearly, Europe and the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia will be the places most negatively affected by the events of the Tribulation. Of course the judgments from the Lord will be worldwide (and here believers have every right to expect to be spared, just as the Israelites were when Egypt was devastated). What the minions of antichrist do when they come to power around the globe at the Tribulation's mid-point is unknown at present and may remain largely so until it happens.

I'm no Moses! But we may be in a position very soon to hear from him personally about all this (and from Elijah too).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Hi Bob,

I read with interest your 6th paragraph, I had never thought of it in this way and I wish I had your insight.

Yes I can ‘see and understand’ the need for spiritual growth right up to and past the day – certainly more so than wasting time, (which may be to nought) on things that we don’t have any control over and every email you respond to gives me some food to grow just that little bit further.

If I could ask just one last question and it may be impossible to answer it completely simply because as you have said, we don’t know exactly how things will play out until it arrives. I’m interested to know your thoughts on when the mark is implemented world-wide, which is going to disallow all without it to buy and sell – how will we be able to live in our home, being unable to pay any and all utility charges?

I would imagine that these same thoughts would cross the minds of many of ichthys readers in other parts of the world, so I would hope that by my questions and your responses that they would also benefit from them as well. I thank you so much for your valued works in ichthys Bob, I hope you never tire of it (I certainly won’t) and that He will preserve you safely until the day we see Him.

Again and as always dear Bob, with brotherly love,

Response #4: 

Thanks for all your good words, my friend.

The "when" of the mark of the beast is made very clear in Revelation, an essentially chronologically organized book. The "revelation of antichrist", that is, when he finally unveils himself to the world as the beast, will not come until the Tribulation's mid-point when he takes his seat in the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem and openly proclaims himself to be God (2Thes.2:3-4). This will mark the point of antichrist's defeat of the only major power block left in the world with the will to resist him, and following this revelation and session "everyone who dwells on earth will worship him . . . whose names are not written in the book of life" (i.e., have been erased for their active rejection of Christ through accepting antichrist; Rev.13:8).

The institution of antichrist's worldwide religion and the placing of the mark to indicate the level of fealty to the beast is something that will happen after this point, albeit we can imagine that it will be a swift progression. This is what will engender the Great Persecution, and that is why the second half of the Tribulation is called "the Great Tribulation". So while things will be difficult to say the least during the first three and a half years, for believers things will become decidedly worse once the persecution begins. We will not be the only ones to refuse to take the mark; there will also be, we know from all the prophecies regarding the Millennium, for example, a sizeable number of Jews who while not yet being willing to accept Christ, will also not be willing to take the mark. Somehow they will survive so as to be regathered at the second advent, thus fulfilling God's many promises to restore His people, and will become the stock from which Israel of the Millennium will spring. They will survive no doubt through divine providence – even though they will not believe in Christ until they see Him return in glory. How much more should we who do believe in Him and follow Him be confident in His deliverance of us, if that be the will of God.

If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Revelation 13:10 ESV

For those of us destined to be martyred for the glory of Jesus Christ, or to endure captivity awaiting the resurrection at His return, such possibilities have to be anticipated so as to be endured with faith that the Lord has this specific purpose in mind for us – with a corresponding reward at the end of the day.

As to commerce once this system of economic coercion is put into place, I can't speak with confidence in specifics beyond what scripture actually says. I can observe that in the history of the world all such attempts to regulate buying and selling in Procrustean ways such as this have met with only mixed success. Black markets and corruption are the natural offspring of all such measures. So perhaps we will be able to buy Spam – but at twice the price on the black market. And perhaps you will be able to pay your utility bill – but only after liberally greasing the palm of the right official. It's good to keep in mind, however, that even if we had a great amount of additional details about all this it still wouldn't let us know what our specific situations are going to be before the fact. We'll have to wait and see on all that. What I do know is that God is faithful and perfectly and completely so. He has never and He will never let us down. Whatever we have to suffer then – just as what we may be suffering now – will be for His glory and the glory of His Son our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . . provided that we are resolved to do things His way. And that, after all, is how all the great believers of the past won praise from God, namely, by faith (Heb.11:1ff.).

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you for catching this and thank you very much for your encouraging words. It has definitely become clearer as to how I see my future ministry, my main concern is that production is such a slow process. This is also an important factor in me reconsidering not only my daily routine, but also the amount of secular work I will do. I think some changes may need to be implemented.

Yes, the issue of blood isn't easy and is perhaps the one where the principle of love should definitely be kept in mind. While I understand that the Law is no longer in force and while I would not hesitate to eat a rare steak, I would perhaps rather stay away from some dishes made almost solely out of blood and the symbolic meaning of it as representing the work of our Lord is a part of it. Not out of legalism or because it's a hard rule - that could be the preferred thing to do for me.

I made some slight amendments and added a section for the application of the principle of love today and one for greed. This is not to support the catholic notion of gluttony as one of the "seven sins", but rather just to point to the reader asking about food related sins that it is possible for one to fall into the sin of greed in the context of food, just as this can happen with excess drinking and other addictions and sinful habits. I have also seen that and it is a sad view. I thought I would add this remark in case it helps someone identify their area of weakness before it starts doing the damage. You can take a look, it's only a couple of added paragraphs.

In our Lord,

Response #5: 

You're most welcome, my friend.

As to your additions, to be frank, I liked your piece better without them. 3.4 is a little too specific for my tastes (in an area where that can be a problem in my view); 3.5 perhaps has a point, but I think it is open to gross misinterpretation by someone who is not completely on your wave-length.

That last issue is in an important point to keep in mind. When someone speaks/writes in the capacity of a pastor-teacher of Jesus Christ, the more that can be done to "head off" potential misinterpretation and misapplication the better. Even if the principle taught is correct, if we see ahead of time that some people will get the wrong idea, better to deal with that before the fact. In this case, again, only in my view, I can see some people reading this and becoming far too concerned about the issue of food to no good purpose and in non-biblical ways. If I thought scripture made the same point with the same emphasis, that would be a different story.

My old pastor, Col. Thieme, once taught a series, "Right-man, right-woman", based on the obvious point that most of us need a spouse and that if we are walking the way we should be walking in Christ, then the Lord will work things out for our legitimate need to be answered in this area in a godly way. However, MANY took this to mean that there was some "ideal" person out there as defined by what THEY thought they needed – and more than that, wanted – and so devoted most of their time and energy to finding "just that RIGHT one". Some even went so far as to divorce their spouses to do so! Clearly, this was never what the Col. had in mind, and for the rest of his ministry he would occasionally "riff" on how this teaching had been so stupidly misinterpreted. And I am pretty sure that if he had it to over again he would never have taught that series.

You are a pastor-teacher now in your own right. So what you teach is your business. You are responsible to the Lord, not to me. But since you ask, I have to give you my honest opinion. Parallel to telling people something positive and open to interpretation which they then twist into something they really want through lust is telling people something negative and open to interpretation which they then twist into something they really dread through fear. Whenever either of these things is potentially in play, sometimes merely quoting a few applicable scriptures is sufficient (in my view).

Your friend and fellow worker in the vineyard of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you for your feedback - it's very helpful, as always.

I understand your point about being too specific in the section on the application of the love principle today. I wanted to provide an example, as in the area of food it's not easy to come up with one, but I agree with your point and once the principle has been explained (I hope this is presented clearly enough in the text), it is best to leave the application to particular Christians. I agree with you and I have removed this section.

As for the section on greed - your understanding of the scripture and experience as a Bible teacher not only sheds light, but it is quite remarkable how it allows you to pick up all the potential problems with such sharpness. I am very grateful for that. It is one of the greatest provisions of God's grace in my life that I can be trained by you to minister. Before I sent the additions to you, this thought exactly went through my mind - will this section be understood correctly, particularly by someone who comes from a legalistic Catholic background? Will they know exactly what I mean here? And what if they don't? And you have rightly picked up on this issue which my own limited insight still presented as a question mark.

I understand your points here also and hence wanted to ask how to go about this issue. The reason I added this section is that without imposing any legalistic norms on anyone, I would just like to signify the danger - if unrestrained, our sinful nature can run riot and it often starts in areas which are, or at least seem innocuous and legitimate. I have seen it with people who miraculously become a believers only to then turn away and devote their lives to trivial pursuits. As we all have also, I have seen people taken by addictions such as an insatiable greed for food.

So the purpose of the remark is just a safeguard. It is much easier to overcome any potential problem when it is only beginning to appear then to battle with a fully developed addiction which dominates one's life, something I have witnessed happening with food.

What do you think - is there a balanced way of including it? For example by clearly stating that no legalistic norms should ever be given by anyone? Or maybe being more specific and adding that no one should stand between us and the Lord and if food was causing us to hinder our testimony and service, then this is when we should be careful?

Thank you for your help, Professor - I really appreciate it.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #6: 

You're most welcome, my friend. And I want also to commend you for understanding and seeing this point. Many people would have reacted rather than "getting" the point – which I do think is an important one.

As to the issue in general, I suppose I have the advantage of having grown up in American traditional Protestantism and having "cut my teeth" in American evangelicalism – instruction by negative example, that is. I have seen and heard and heard of many instances where individual Christians / pastors / groups / churches / denominations have been offended by some behavior or other or have been genuinely concerned that some behavior or other is bad / evil / destructive . . . and as a result have jumped off the legalistic "deep end". Any Christian with an ounce of spiritual common sense ought to know that, e.g., playing video games all day to the detriment of everything else important in this life is dangerous and self-destructive – and the same goes for drinking, gambling, drugs, watching television, becoming a "groupie" for a rock band, or becoming a "follow the team everywhere" sports fan, or allowing oneself to get absolutely no physical exercise whatsoever, or closing oneself up in one's house and never associating with other people, or eating too much, or eating too little, or getting overly concerned (for "religious" or health reasons) about what one eats, or giving far too little attention to the contents of one's diet . . . the list is virtually endless. About some of these things, scripture does give negative guidance, for example in condemning drunkenness. But even here, given the magnitude and multitude of problems caused by alcohol addiction, it is perhaps somewhat surprising how little negative scripture has to say about alcohol generally and how much of a neutral and even positive nature it says in this regard. And scripture says nothing, for example, about gambling, and not because there was no gambling in the ancient world (there was plenty, and it was just as potentially destructive as it is today).

Where scripture does have a direct statement that may honestly and genuinely be applied to a "problem" about which we may be concerned, it is legitimate for a pastor-teacher to bring that up . . . when the issue comes up. But preaching anti-booze sermons just for the sake of doing so is merely attacking the symptoms not the cause. And misapplying passages which don't really bear on the "problem" one is upset about will do more harm in the end than good.

Real change for Christians only comes from the inside out. It cannot be imposed from the outside in. Christians with "issues" (and we all have them) have to be self-motivated – helped by the Spirit – to make appropriate changes, and that motivation, along with the growing Christian character to stick with it, always comes as a result of spiritual growth. In all such cases all such change will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and will thus be as effective as the person is willing to let the Spirit make it.

I grant you that there are individuals of great self-discipline (whether naturally or having developed it through adherence to some system in this life or a combination of both) who are capable, for example, of giving up alcohol or drugs without such spiritual change. But such reform, while it is always a good thing to be parted from destructive habits, can have no spiritually positive effects in and of itself, and in some cases can actually be negative through empowering a sense of self-sufficiency whereas in truth we need the Lord more than even we mature believers have any real idea (2Cor.12:10). At all events, if the change doesn't come from spiritual growth through the Spirit, then it is just a case of whitewashing the tomb. Those in the family/group/church of the person in question will no doubt be happy that "Bill" gave up alcohol, but they will be sadly mistaken if they believe that he has made a spiritual turn for the better just because of that outward change.

What can be done? I would choose instead to emphasize the positive. Most people who are engaged in self-destructive behavior have deeper spiritual issues in any case, and most also realize completely that what they are doing is bad for them. But they themselves have to be willing to change. And if they really are willing to be saved, then salvation will give them a "new start for the heart" (link); and if they are already believers, then spiritual revival will have to precede (or at least accompany) any outward changes they wish to make (for all such debilitating behaviors are signs of spiritual torpor, especially if they are getting worse and not better).

For the Galatians who were becoming enmeshed in just such a system of legalism and who were in the process imagining that they were "good" because of just such outward displays, Paul does lay out parameters of negative behavior, mostly so that they may understand that by appearing righteous they were not sinless at all – but he also lays out the truly good things they should strive for:

(16) But I tell you, walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out what the flesh lusts for. (17) For what the flesh lusts for is contrary to the Spirit's will, and the Spirit is opposed to what the flesh lusts for. Since these are diametrically opposed to each other in this way, what you are doing is not what you yourself choose. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (19) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; (21) drunkenness, orgies – and whatever is similar to all these things. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, uprightness, faith, (23) humility, self-control. Against such things, there is no Law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its weaknesses and its lusts. (25) If we live because of the Spirit, let us also walk by means of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25

If we are actually doing things the right way, we will naturally not be doing them the wrong way. If we are really starting to walk "in the Spirit" – paying attention to what He tells us, learning and loving and following the truth – then ipso facto we will not be following the flesh when we are following Him.

In other words, the best way to rid ourselves of bad habits ABC or XYZ is not to attack them directly or go chasing after solutions to deal with them; the best way to achieve victory over any manifestation of the sinful flesh is by the positive action of following the Holy Spirit more closely day by day in all we think and do and say. If we are truly growing spiritually, and if we are truly progressing in our walk with Christ empowered by the Spirit, then we will naturally be letting all the other flotsam and jetsam of this life fall by the wayside more and more just as a natural development of our growth and progress. If we are doing what is right it will naturally overcome and reject everything that is wrong – through the power of the Spirit to whom we are accommodating our will.

This is not an instant process. We all have a great many "rough edges" and some take longer to sand down than others. But the process of sanctification for those who are truly dedicated to following the Lord is an all-consuming one and will eventually bring us to a walk with Jesus Christ through this world that is holy in all respects – to the extent that we are really willing to let ourselves be changed through following what the Spirit directs us to do. And to the extent that we are not, no self-improvement lessons or lectures or programs or sermons are going to make any genuine differences, irrespective of what exterior changes "for show" we might otherwise manifest.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello Professor,

I understand all your points and I can now see how what I intended to be a safeguard against greed that could creep in imperceptibly and in an area that seems innocuous could be taken as a legalistic warning, as if I wanted to change things from the outside. You're point that "if we are doing things the right way, we will naturally not be doing them the wrong way" is very apt here.

I have written about this aspect of spiritual battle in the resource I'm currently preparing, but that is only focused on our struggle with sin which does include taking some preventive measures, whereas in a text like the one I've sent you it is likely to be misinterpreted.

Professor - thank you for your help with this and I am hoping to forward you this text I'm now preparing soon. I have committed a lot of time to it in the past couple of weeks, but I'm not far off now.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #7: 

I appreciate your responsiveness to the truth, my friend. In the end, that is the only way for any of us to make any spiritual forward progress.

I'll be looking for your file!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

[personal details omitted] . . . that we would love to meet you. We sure enjoy your web site. Your writings were the topic all day yesterday with our friend. I think he is going to email you in the near future.

Response #8: 

I'm very pleased to hear that you and your family are doing well and especially of the spiritual progress you are making personally. Good for you!

I'd be happy to receive your friend's emails, and if I'm ever out that way, I'll look you all up. But please keep in mind what Paul said about the reports of himself:

“His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”
2nd Corinthians 10:10

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi Bob,

I just call myself a Christian and refuse to add in the adjective "Evangelical." This is because "Evangelical" Christianity has turned into a spiritually dead Pharisaical religion. I say this because even though I believe in inerrancy, Genesis-as-history, sovereign election (but not to the exclusion of free will), and other doctrines that put me at odds with Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants, I have found that "Evangelicals" are too in love with their club to actually listen to God's word.

Christian is also the only label that exists in the Bible.


Response #9: 

Labels are useful. They are also always somewhat misleading. That is why I say on the site: "Although the Bible study materials found here are in the Protestant, Evangelical tradition, this site has no denominational affiliation" (emphasis added).

And of course the word "Christian" is not actually in the Bible either (see the link: "The name Christian")

Question #10: 

We are a small church in a small town. 11 months ago, the membership voted to call our current pastor to our church. He had several thousands of dollars of debt, 4 children, no savings. He accepted the salary package which included housing in our small, old parsonage. About 6 months into his first year, he became vocal about how the housing provided was woefully inadequate and they wanted to find a home they could buy. Further research revealed his debt was too great to get a loan for a house. They have their 4 children on state aid insurance because they can't afford to pay insurance premiums.

They are asking the church to devise a plan to help them but a house and in effect, raise his salary. His salary is already substantial with his utilities and maintenance provided.

I am on the housing committee charged with the task of identifying a plan to see if we can help. I asked if they were going to tell the housing committee about the new baby and they said not now I asked them to pray about it because as a member of the housing committee, I felt it was information the rest of the committee should have.

I feel they are being deceitful, irresponsible, and not acting as a man of God should act. A pastor is to be above reproach and with his finances in distress, more children than he can afford, more debt than he can pay, I don't feel he fits the criteria for a pastor.

Our next housing committee meeting is in two days and I have prayed and prayed but am seeking guidance God may provide through you. Please help.

Response #10: 

Good to make your acquaintance. As to your question, it is an indisputable biblical principle that those who do the teaching in a local church are worthy of their keep. The Bible is very clear on that point (see links below), but says nothing about the "how much" question. One of the best seminary professors I ever had made the reasonable suggestion that a pastor ought not to be paid a great deal more than the rest of the congregation makes (somewhat unfair and unsupportable), but also not significantly less than the rest make (since that is also somewhat unfair and puts him at a disadvantage in terms of pastoral authority). That would be the main prism I would use to evaluate this aspect of the question.

Of course, the Bible commends supporting those who teach the Word of God. I know nothing about your church, but it is a fact that in the vast majority of cases pastors do not teach the Word of God in depth as the main thrust and purpose of their ministry. That is not entirely their fault, mind you. Even if a man is prepared to teach and desirous of teaching, most congregations today want a traditional service with a ten to twenty minute sermon (and sermons are not teaching), with the pastor being the administrator in chief and doing a lot of "calling". There may also be "nod to God" Sunday school classes that read commentaries or discuss issues, but that is also no way to provide the people of God with the spiritual nutrition they require to grow up spiritually and develop faith powerful enough to pass the serious testing that may come in this life. True growth and preparation requires the truth, taught with authority directly from scripture in an orthodox way and in sufficient depth, quantity and quality to lead forward all who are willing to follow. If your pastor is such a man, sufficiently prepared in the original languages, well-versed in the doctrines of scripture and "able to teach" (1Tim.3:2; 2Tim.2:24), then you have a real prize on your hands, one that may be worthy of exceptional support. But if not, or if the congregation is not particularly interested in making spiritual growth through attention to the truth of scripture its purpose for existing as a church (and that is in fact the only purpose for an actual "church" of Jesus Christ), then it doesn't really make much difference one way or another.

Here are those links:

Pastoral Support, Pastoral Preparation, and the Purpose of Assembly

Pay the pastor

How much should we pay the pastor?

Tent making

Pastoral Authority

Finding a Church – or Something Better?

Finding a Church – or Something Better II

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dear Bob,

Our small group of guys is looking for a new study. We had been into one of the MacArthur studies. My problem is we spend 13 pages on three words (like in Ephesians) I checked out some of your studies and found it to be far greater then just end times. But also far above most Christians like our group. Wonderful content but I knew right away when you use words like Ichthys.

I was drawn to subjects like - essential Doctrine of the Bible - Theology: the study of God -or the study of Salvation. Your focus is on Christian men and women far above our intellect. Let me know if you know of any others, at our level you might recommend.

Response #11: 

Thanks for the good words. My suggestion: try the Peter Series (at the link). It starts off with very short lessons.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hi Dr,

I just want to point out that you are more than welcome to communicate our emails in the weekly posting with any appropriate redaction you think is necessary.

Your ministry always come to mind when I think of what my potential ministry would be apart from walking the walk of Christ and witness for him in my daily walk. Can a ministry be a subset of another ministry? What I want to do, obviously not in the flesh and need your prayers to help, is to communicate your topical ministries in this place. I strongly believe in the 7 days of human history and we are close to the return of our Lord and Savior Christ. People who have access to your internet God can readily direct them to your site. But what about people who do not?

Maybe I was ordained by the perfect knowledge of God to meet you and to grow from you spiritually to bring the truths He enlightened to you to others here. With your permission, I would like to do the following and will need your help:

Provide a topical series on your following works: 7 Days of human history and Coming tribulation. Where I would need your help is to help with the structure. I would put the structure together, email it to you and then you can tell me if the structure for the lecture series is appropriate. I will be praying for this over the next couple of days and would like your input, particularly as it relates to using planted ministry to reach others. I guess all spiritual mature Christians use planted ministry, it is called the Word of God (the bible)

I believe one other benefit is it will help me really understand and dive deeper into His word by doing these series.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #12: 

Thanks! I would be more than happy for you to do so! The Lord died for everyone and everyone is offered the Gift of Jesus Christ – and everyone who has accepted Him as their Savior is encouraged to grow, progress and produce for Him. But how can they do so without a teacher?

I think your outline is fine, my friend. When it comes to teaching material to others, especially face to face, what "works" in terms of writing my not be the best way to proceed orally. Also, what you say here about diving deeper is exactly true. The best way to learn something is to teach it. That is because when one is aware that one will have to explain the principle(s) in question to others – or when one is queried on a given point – it forces a more detailed and deeper investigation than mere casual reading would ever produce.

I'm happy to give you my take on anything you do. I will also say, however, that the key to all successful teaching is mastery of the material. If you really "know it", then you will find a way to "teach it". We are all different in how we would do so just as every class is different in the way they will receive it. So just like no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy, so also no lesson plan ever survives contact with students. You have to be flexible in how you explain things, spending more time and coming up with more examples and proofs where the students are not getting it or are skeptical, e.g.

This is an exciting thing, my friend! I would recommend planning, yes, but planning that makes you really learn the principles, verses, proofs, and come up with teaching examples that would help a ten year old understand.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Dr., thank you. I am getting a glimpse of what the Lord is doing. He is preparing me for teaching. I was just asked to read a scripture for our bible study today and I chose Rev 3:14-22, Church of Laodicea and it was received very well, thanks to the Spirit. I think I was bought to learn how to teach His word and using your materials to do so.

I will get on this right away and make my intentions known to person who runs the bible studies here. I think this will be a fun but challenging journey because some of your materials are controversial, for instance Genesis Gap and non-rapture, etc but biblically sound. I will have to make sure I can really explain it. It will really be exciting.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #13: 

I'm thrilled to hear that in spite of the situation you are using it for good. That is certainly the Lord!

I am praying for you in this situation, my friend. Nothing is impossible for the Lord.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Hello Robert,

Thanks for your last teachings which you sent several weeks ago. Hope you are well. I prefer to read your articles than the robotic ones:)r

Regards from Tasmania

God Bless

Response #14: 

It's good to hear from you in any case! I'd rather read as well, but some users of Ichthys like to listen to these studies when doing other things (commuting for example – I can relate to that), so I'm very grateful to Chris B. for putting in all the time and effort on this. He has done a truly stellar job in my opinion, entirely on his own initiative. If it depended upon yours truly reading a script into a microphone with edits on edits for hours and hours on end, it would never have happened (way too much on the plate to even think about it).

Wishing you a happy winter(?). We are roasting here at the moment.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Dear Professor,

This is wonderful news about the MP3 files, thank you!

I had a quick listen and I do really like it - I am looking forward to going through them in more detail once I merge onto the Coming Tribulation series (still on SR Part 5).

I trust all is going well with you? I shall be getting back to the previous email you had sent me a while back so no need at all to reply to this.

I am delighted to witness the progress of your ministry and these additions that have taken it to another level. All possible through God’s grace.

For the glory of our Lord Jesus,

Response #15: 

Great to hear it! And I hope you are doing well, spiritually, physically and professionally.

Thanks to Chris B., I've just now put up four more MP3 files (SR 2 and a special short).

As far as things here go, I could certainly use some prayer support regarding the my job. Thanks in advance!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Dear Bob,

I shall be looking through these audio files soon - I very much look forward to it and thank you for letting me know. Send my sincere and heartfelt thanks to Chris B!

It just so happened that yesterday I was looking through different courses from Talbot, Dallas, and Chafer seminaries after finding the links on your website. It was more about exploring potential options for the next few years for me and avenues for ministry (teaching?). My eye was drawn to a masters in Theology or Biblical Studies. Looking through the module content I was keen for a course that offered strong emphases on Greek and Hebrew, particularly after reading some of your mail postings on preparation for ministry. I was surprised/shocked to see the lack of emphases put on the languages in most of the post-graduate courses designed to prepare people for ministry.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is that this has also made me realise all the more the amount of effort, investment (financial and time), dedication and sacrifice that people such as yourself, your dear friend Carmen, and Curtis Omo must have put in to be able to get to where you are today, and above all, feed people like me. Hence why I am extremely saddened to hear about the situation that you and your colleague are in. Sounds like academia can be just as ruthless as elite sport - but through the grace of God I am confident these things will be worked out for the good as you said.

You assuredly have my prayer and support. I shall be praying throughout this week. Let me know once you have news of the meeting. We know that the Lord is capable of the most spectacular of deliverances - not only through our reading of Scripture but also through our own personal experiences and witnessing the testimonies of our brothers and sisters on the front-line.

You have my prayer and I shall eagerly be awaiting news on this front, along with everyone here at Ichthys.

In Jesus, Who worked out our salvation with the most spectacular of all deliverances,

Response #16: 

I did indeed let Chris know about your very positive report.

Thanks so much for your prayers, my friend. And thanks for you very encouraging words. They are most appreciated.

Yes, seminaries usually only offer enough Greek and Hebrew to allow someone to pick them out of a line-up. Those who do "concentrate" somewhat on language tend to use extremely flawed methods based upon incorrect grammatical paradigms set up years ago and misinterpreted by present day users. Coming from an intense Classics preparation at the University of Illinois to Talbot, I found this maddening in the extreme. Suffice it to say that if a person doesn't know Greek or Hebrew before they get to seminary the level of competency it's possible to achieve at seminary, even if one goes all the way to a Ph.D./Th.D, is very limited – unless it's done on one's own after the basics are learned. But of course it's possible to do that without seminary at all. I greatly benefitted from my seminary experience; the largest part of that, however, was the great individuals I met there who were all out of or quickly attracted to Col. Thieme's ministry (like my friend Curt Omo); another benefit of seminary was learning by way of negative example all of the crazy and incorrect assumptions the traditional approach has on everything from evangelism to theology to exegesis; very little of the benefit had to do with language: I got no help on Greek there, some help on Hebrew and Aramaic – but that would have been insufficient except for what I came in with (two years of BH and one year of MH from Illinois) and what I put in on my own there and afterwards. I did have a good church history prof. – but one can read books on church history without going to seminary and paying for the privilege.

I'll let you know what happens but don't be shy about writing back if you don't hear from me. I do suffer from absent-minded professor syndrome after all.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Dear Bob,

This is a wonderful report! Praise be to our Lord! Thank you so much for keeping me in the loop - you definitely do not have any "absent-minded professor syndrome”!

I had been praying for both you and Carmen daily and assuredly without any coincidence my prayers were directed towards almost just what you described - that your case be upheld persuasively, blameless and without any fault. No doubts that the collective prayer of everyone uplifting their petitions on your behalf, as well as your own, were heard. I am delighted to hear that this outcome has proven to be far better than initially anticipated.

Situations like this remind us of the faithfulness of our Lord, particularly in what we initially consider to be desperate situations with limited hope. As you once wrote in one of your responses on our Lord’s prayer (I have just been going through notes on Matt.6:9-13 today) - we pray not for His sake but for ours. We ask and we know that He hears us. We ask because we need to ask, not because He needs to hear, but we need to be reminded that He has already heard.

I shall continue to hold this in prayer both for you and Carmen for the working out of the rest.

Thank you also for your previous response and your useful insights with regards to the study of the languages. I am aware that you have many email postings on this on Ichthys that I plan to read over the coming months. Our mutual friend's example of mastering Hebrew and Greek independently is truly an inspirational and remarkable one done in the power of the Spirit. It is something though I am not sure I would ever be able to attain to (and which I am not sure whether I am called to yet - I need to spend more time in prayer on this part). I do at times feel a ’nudge’ towards teaching, that’s for sure. This seems to have grown recently. And I do know if I am to consider teaching the Bible in any serious capacity, mastery of the languages is something that definitely should be on one’s radar. If you did, on the other hand, have any recommended resources on where to start that you think I should explore (for someone who has no understanding whatsoever), that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks once again for this noteworthy report!

In our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

Response #17: 


I most definitely felt the power of the prayer support I received, and couldn't have done what I needed to do without out . . . and wouldn't have received the positive result I received without it. God is good!!!

I don't think I ever would have gotten anywhere with Greek and Hebrew (etc.) without university level face to face instruction – at least not until I got to a certain point in all of the languages I've studied.

On resources, check out the "Greek Language Study Resources" page and the "Hebrew Language Study Resources" page. I can certainly recommend specific books (such as Reading Greek for that language [the RG grammar also would be needed] and Lambdin for Hebrew), but it's mighty difficult to get a purchase on either language without getting the pronunciation correct and that's hard to do on one's own (not to mention other issues).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hello Bob,

Thanks for your insight. Over 25 years now, I have been blessed to have been able to connect with men like you, Ravi Zacharias - Oz Guinness - John Stott and others. Its important to dig deeper in search of the truth.

I did a quick review and will spend more time later - What a gift. Do you have a title list?

Response #18: 

Glad you were able to find that.

Each of the major series has its own title page: click the link: "Ichthys Navigation" and select/click the button you want.

There is a subject listing (click the highlighted link).

There is an index to where original translations occur (at the link).

There is Google-powered Ichthys-only site search (at the link).

And for email postings such as you just accessed, there is a complete listing of back postings at this link:  "Previous postings".

Just let me know if you have any trouble finding anything, and I'm happy to help.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 


Is there a site that tells about who you are - what is IXOYE what is ICHTHYS

Your focus appears to be Eschatology

ON the other hand you offer papers on


You also offer studies on Satan and the coming tribulation you also offer studies on Peter.

Who are you - educational background etc - is there a page that offers this?

Where do you fit with Ravi - Guinness - Stott - Graham - MacArthur etc.?


Response #19: 

Try these (just click the link):

The Ichthys Acronym

About the Author

About Ichthys

The last one has further links on all this.

Happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

I wanted to ask you for help with finding study resources for a new believer has no access to any other teacher.

Can you recommend anything basic besides Ichthys in the area of essential theology and also church history? To get a framework on the Bible, the church and its history would help a lot, but I want to make sure the source is reliable.

In our Lord,

Response #20: 

The only other thing on church history I might recommend besides the resources discussed on the site is the multi-volume set, History Of The Christian Church by Philip Schaff. It was, apparently, translated into your friend's native language at one point, but whether or not it is still in print I have no way of finding out. It is a long work, and it is not without its problems, but at least it presents things from a Protestant point of view. However, if Walker cannot be found in your language, I'm not that confident about Schaff. It's the only other thing I have ever made much use of, however.

On theology, Charles C. Ryrie's A Survey of Bible Doctrine is not awful. It is, sadly, pre-Trib., as is Chafer and Walvoord's Major Bible Themes – but at least the first mentioned has been very widely distributed in English so perhaps it's been rendered into your language as well. There are also the works of Francis Schaeffer – he's not my cup of tea, but at least he was a Christian; these were extremely popular in the 80's and he was based in Switzerland, so maybe . . .

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

I am looking for a commentary set that is expository in nature. One where I can read the scripture and the commentary at the same time. Is there something like this? I've read John Gill which is a bit wordy and difficult. I've read some of John C Clark which is likeable. But there are many commentary sets to choose from. Can you recommend one?

Response #21: 

To be honest, I've never found commentaries of much use, personally, since they almost always manage to miss the true biblical point of any given passage in spite of much ink spilled. However, here is a link that will lead to others "Can you recommend a good commentary".

Please feel free to write back about this or any particular Bible questions you may have.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #22: 

Thank you for the materials and may the Lord continue to bless you and your ministry. It is in my prayers. I am happy and elated you are willing to converse and help me in this endeavor. I believe with His and your help, we can really reach many people here.

What I hope to accomplish in terms of teaching with the Spirit and your help is in this flow:

1. Eternal Rewards - Theme Your walk with Christ is for your benefit
2. 7 years of human history - The time is short therefore accruing eternal rewards through spiritual growth is paramount
3. Coming tribulation - By understanding the times we are in, we can better be prepared for the troubles head

Response #22: 

You're most welcome my friend. I'm very encouraged by your report, my friend, and I'm praying for a very fertile ministry for you.

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

Your brother your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ (Rev.1:9).

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Hi Dr,

The rewards lesson is coming along nicely. Your work is so complete and condense that it is a treasure trove of information. I hope to have it to you by end of next week. I do see where the Lord's hand is in some aspect of this trial. There are people who approach me to talk about issues they are having and ask me to pray for them. I sit down and biblically try to help them with their problems and pray with them. That is a blessing.

How is our friend's health doing?

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #23: 

You're more than welcome. Our friend is back in the UK. He had extensive testing done. They eliminated some possibilities for what his problem might be (including some that had worried him), but the test results will be some time in coming in, I gather, so we don't have a diagnosis yet. But when I last heard from him he seemed relieved that this had been done. We shall keep praying – for a sound diagnosis and a (hopefully not too invasive) course of treatment.

I'm thrilled to hear that you are already beginning to minister, my friend! I knew that the Lord must have work for you to do. I keep praying for you daily.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:  

Hi Dr,

I would like a prayer if you don't mind. One of the things i realize is that the Lord is putting many ministry opportunities in front of me. I have been asked to lead prayer group, read a passage of scripture before church service, and also I am part of the choir.

With the rewards series I am putting together, it has taken time. Your work is so extensive and rich with the Word that you can make a ministry of dissecting your work in chunks and disseminate it. When I am doing this particular study, I realize that to be the case. I have not even touch all the CT, SR, BB, Peter Series.

I am struggling between learning Greek and doing these series. These series take a lot of time to develop and I am only doing a small portion of your work but I believe they will be more meaningful for me and for this body here if I continue this path rather than focus strictly on Greek. I just don't have the time to do both extensively. I believe the series will edify the church and me more than the Greek edifying the church.

Please pray the Lord will give me the appropriate direction. Right now, I am going full bore on your series and setting aside Greek, that is what I want to do but need your opinion and prayer as well.

Also pray the Lord will help me in choosing to do His will. I can see what some of what the Lord is doing with me. He is helping me develop a ministry, what that will be I don't know. The issue I have, and it is all me, I am like Paul where he states he wants to be with Christ but to be here is more needful for the believers.

Response #24: 

I pray for you every day and will add a prayer for guidance on this point – although what you say here has both the ring of truth and of spiritual common sense. I spent at least several years intensively studying all of the materials of my mentor, Col. Thieme, before I ever got to serious language study et al. And the truth of scripture is the most important thing. So I think it makes sense to take the most important things first. Good for you!

I'm very proud of you, my friend. I know that the Lord is using you, I am very gratified to hear that you are in the process of earning a wonderful heavenly reward by serving our Lord.

Keep up the good work, my friend!

In my prayers always,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you for your prayer for our friend - I think she has a real chance and she has in fact herself told me that she saw her current spiritual state - one of some chaos and uncertainty - as only a stage she was hoping to get out of, but she didn't really know how. We know that truth is the answer and I pray that she does accept it.

Professor, I have finished reading the Old Testament, I think it's the second time since I got saved. I feel that time is ripe for me to make changes in my daily study and production rhythm. I have felt that for a while now. I wanted to get some advice from you. I know that these issues are always individual and I will have to find my path in this, but I wanted to draw from your wisdom and experience. Your guidance from the beginning has given me the direction and prevented me from spending time looking for and going through study resources which are not worth the short time we have here. I know that the Spirit plays a critical role here and that's also how I know I need to make refinements now. [details omitted]

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #25: 

I certainly hope and pray that this will all get figured out so that you can make a full and quick recovery, my friend. God has His purposes for all things – and it seems to me that He has important work for you that will require your good health to complete. By the way, I took the liberty of placing our friend on the Ichthys prayer list as well.

As to your study regime, my first impression was, "well, this explains why he isn't feeling well – he's working way too hard!" Honestly, there are limits to what we do, physically speaking. Not all of us are the same, it is true, but I have to wonder from reading this whether or not you have been pushing yourself a bit too hard. I will leave that to you to sort out.

As to the content, it seems you have a good system already, and it also seems that the changes you are considering would not be bad. We have limited time and energy – even if we do push ourselves – so we have to make choices. In general terms, I will say what I have probably said every time, namely, that the top priority is the Bible itself. The Bible is so much more important than ancient history, church history, textual criticism, theology and commentary beyond all comparison. I certainly understand that these other things (and other things) are important (I'm responsible for directing you to many of them, after all), but in any edifice it's important to get the foundation solid and right – and the scripture is the foundation of all. Hard to distinguish from that is the study of Greek and Hebrew since the Bible is written in those two languages almost exclusively. But since until one becomes very familiar with the original languages, it is difficult to get all one needs personally from scripture from the original, reading translations of the Bible is also important. Everything else, much less so. I think by now you have probably learned enough, read enough, seen enough of the other genres and tools to know their strengths and weaknesses, so that using them on a case by case basis (instead of trying to work your way through them in a systematic way) might be a good guiding principle. One can never become too familiar with the Bible in translation, and one can never read it enough in Greek or in Hebrew. Everything else is a distant second place. I do think that the studies at Ichthys (and Curt's material) are a good supplement until a person gets to the point of a full-blown personal ministry (but I am clearly biased here). I'm not as clear that traditional theologies are as important once a person has cut their teeth on some basic traditional things so as to have an idea of "what's out there".

The last thing I would say is that the more teaching you do, the more you learn. You should not feel bad about learning and developing a deeper knowledge of points you are asked about as you research your answers. That is a logical thing and a blessed thing – it certainly has been for me (I have learned a great deal from you and through you). And, after all, that is why we are doing this, namely, to help others in the Church and also to help ourselves as we grow closer to the Lord through His truth. I have found over the years that while hasty answers are usually a mistake, timely ones are more helpful and more appreciated than ones which are long in coming. You have a bit of a dilemma there, because you have started to feed others before you are precisely where you'd like to be personally in the languages et al. But if time allows, ministering the truth ought to be a priority (only personal Bible reading in and out of translation and personal Bible study should come first in my opinion).

Keep up the good work, my friend, but remember that we all have limits. For that reason, putting the most important things first is always the best policy.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

Hello Robert

I was checking on the internet on notes that we can use for in- house training of Pastors. I came across your notes, I believe the Spirit of God led me there.

Thank you for ministering to the world in such a manner. May the good Lord remember you. I am a pastor, leading a church in the rural community of South Africa and I am called to plant churches. I always wanted to train pastors even with the little knowledge that I got (only have Hons in Theology with South Africa Theological Seminary). The members in my church are poor people yet ,that does not stop us form expanding. I am struggling, the church cannot even give allowances to pastors but ee are moving on. We will use your notes more often. I felt I could just say thank you and speak a blessing of Psalm 91 upon you.

I am a middle-aged woman of years and my journey has not been smooth. I am originally from Zimbabwe


Response #26: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

It's always a pleasure to find out that these materials are aiding the spiritual growth and progress of my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

You are most welcome to everything Ichthys has to offer – and do feel free to write with questions if and when you have them.

Thanks also for your encouraging testimony!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #27: 

Hi Dr,

Thank you and much appreciated.

On the anticipated study, I need your help in coming up with a theme.

Thanks for looking over these materials and giving your comments. I appreciate all your help in this and thanks a million. You just don't know. Next to tackle will be 7 days of human history. This one will be a doozy.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #27: 

You're most welcome as always, my friend.

One thing though: I'm not much on "themes"; I'm not much on alliterated bullet points; I'm not much on clever sounding titles and the like. I've never liked sermons and see very little value in them, and that sort of thing ("themes") falls too close for comfort. I don't know any other way other than to "teach it like it is, whatever it is". I let the teaching dictate the organization. If that doesn't square with the esthetics of others, so be it. I had to put up with too much of that in my pre-ministry and seminary days. No offense meant!

I'm very proud of you, my friend! Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ. Therein lies unimaginably wonderful eternal reward.

Your friend in our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28: 

I agree with you and please no offense is taken. Because your studies are rich, I need to break the material down and the best way is via bullet points so when I discuss, I have some direction on what to say. This is critical because you have many individuals who try to teach and teach inaccurately because they don't have structure and above all the gift.

With time and study, I will be able to develop a full blown teaching based on the riches I find. I think it is more a less of not wanting to be inaccurate rather than knowledge.

Response #28: 

I just had a look at your outline and addendum and I have to say I am very impressed. This represents very good work on your part and will no doubt be very helpful to anyone who may hear you speaking on this subject. I was particularly impressed by the addendum which obviously represents a great deal of good, hard, original work on your part.

One thing to keep in mind before actually teaching orally: try to have the outline you are planning to deliver firmly in your mind through practice before you begin to teach. One thing I have experienced many times and seen in my students all the time is that someone who is well-prepared like you are will imagine that an outline such as you have produced can be delivered and explained in a very short time. In fact, it would take very many hours to deliver what you have here, not even counting the addendum. Also, a few key passages are often better in oral presentation than a long list. Try to have the ones which are the most important for your presentation marked with bookmarks or in some way which will allow you to find them easily – transcribing them onto a separate sheet of paper is not a bad idea. I'm looking forward to seeing the development of your ministry!

Good work, my friend! I am sure that if you persevere in this course you will be earning a wonderful reward yourself!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29: 

Thank you for reviewing the work and your compliments. To Him first is all praise due and to you for your diligence stewardship and mentoring.

One question, I am really studying the 7 days. I believe the work is Holy Spirit inspired. Why do you think there is such resistance of your timeline? If they pray, read it and believe, it is inspired work. I hope to do it justice when I develop an outline around it.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #29: 

You are most welcome.

I have no doubt that anything and everything I've written which really is "good" in God's eyes has been aided by the Holy Spirit (more Him than me); however, I would reserve the word "inspired" for the Bible alone. That is the only work which is inerrant (you have already probably found many typos in my stuff, lol).

But I do appreciate very much your enthusiasm for the teaching of the Word.

When I was much younger and was first exposed to the writings of my mentor, Col. Thieme, I had the same idea: "Gee, if people would only just read a little bit of this, they would be as head-over-heels for it as I am!" That turned out to be VERY much not true. First of all, not everyone is a believer, and only believers are even capable of having a positive response to the truth (apart from the gospel in the unbeliever's case). Second, the believer in question would have to positive to the truth and genuinely seeking the truth. In our lukewarm era of Laodicea, that is true of VERY few Christians, percentage-wise. That may well change once the Tribulation begins and the dire circumstances shake them out of their complacency, but I see no signs of that trend diminishing at present (quite the opposite). Third, even if a person is a believer and is interested in the truth, not every ministry is every Christian's personal "cup of tea". No doubt there are many options for believers these days for just that reason. Part of that issue as it relates to Ichthys is that there are many who are interested but not THAT interested. These studies at Ichthys are pretty dense and not that easy to read and understand without a good deal of effort. That has the effect of winnowing out all but the truly positive – and I am happy with that result (even if I do wish I could make the writing somewhat more accessible, but we are who we are).

Finally, even in the case of the "truly positive" there are "hobby-horse" issues, closely held favorite pet doctrines which happen to be incorrect, that will make the Ichthys ministry a non-starter for some of these types as well. Whether it's "life begins at birth" (wrong) or "water baptism is necessary" (wrong) or "pre-Trib rapture" (wrong) or a fascination with politics and the belief in political solutions (terrible for a believer to be involved in this area) or some other personal attachment to a false doctrine which is countered by the teaching here, if there is any resistance to accepting these materials with at least a little bit of humility and faith, then they are as likely as not to drive said person away. I'm deeply grateful that you weren't driven off, my friend! And I very much appreciate your good words. Feel free to write me about anything in this study about which you have questions.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30: 

Hi sir,

Finalizing the synopsis of God's Timetable for Human History. Your work is really in-depth and provides me confidence to speak about it.

Thanks for your friendship and pastoral guidance in this trying time for our family.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #30: 

I pleased to hear that you are persevering, my friend! I'm also happy to hear the good news about the recent positivity of your family member, and I'll be happy to respond to any questions that arise. I wish all the people I love would be as enthusiastic about the Word of God – even if it's not this ministry they're crazy about – but that is sadly not the case in each and every case. Most of my near and dear are very good Christians, but not all of them are convinced of the need to really learn the truth or of the value of doing so.

So I rejoice for and in you, my friend!

I'll be keeping your family in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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