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The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions VII

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Question #1:  

Ok I made it the Study of the Holy Spirit. And I was thinking even before I started that The Holy Spirit seems to be also called the Spirit of Christ in at least one place. And you actually quote at least one verse that says the Lord is the Spirit. So I am having a hard time thinking of them as two Persons. I am sure you run into this a lot; do you have a link that could help me?

Response #1: 

The Spirit is a Person just as the Father and the Son are. The Holy Spirit, however, is the unseen member of the Trinity. Even in the heavenly scene in Revelation He is represented by the seven lamps rather than being visible as the Father and the Lamb are (Rev.4:5; cf. Rev.1:4). He is not seen, but He is most definitely felt.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
Romans 8:16 NIV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV

God is "one" in marvelous ways, with each person of the Trinity being completely "in sync" to a degree we human beings can't imagine . . . and yet they are three separate persons. Here are few links that might help:

The Third Person (in BB 1)

The Holy Spirit is a Person (in BB 5)

Guidance of the Spirit (in Peter #36)

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Dear Brother Bob, hope you are well and you had a good new year's.

There is a passage I have read several times. I have heard several different ideas on the passage. I was wondering if the Greek provides more understanding of the passage.

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father inspirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

God is Spirit, I understand that. He does not have a physical body. I understand worship in truth. Scripture is truth. We need to worship God in the right way. But, what does it mean to worship in Spirit?

Love in Christ,

Response #2: 

"In spirit" or "spiritually" means worshiping in the power of the Holy Spirit, the One who empowers all genuine worship as well as anything and everything which believers do in this world in a godly way (see the link). No work (even ostensibly for God) which is done without the Spirit is legitimate – which is why unbelievers will be judged "according to their works", works done in the flesh and not in the Holy Spirit (Rev.20:12-13).

The Spirit and the truth are often closely related in scripture since He is the One who illuminates it, making it understandable and real to us in our hearts. We cannot hear the gospel without Him since He alone makes it understandable – which is why blaspheming the Spirit by saying He is lying about the gospel is unpardonable: it is a rejection of the truth He is making real in the hearts of those hearing it.

The same thing is true of truth as believers learn to grow: it is the Spirit who converts "gnosis" to "epignosis"; knowledge is nothing (1Cor.8:1-3); only truth believed is useful since the Spirit has converted it in our hearts to "epignosis" when we believe it and He then uses it to guide us when we are willing to listen to His still, small voice (1Ki.19:12).

So this passage you ask about, John 4:23-24, expresses the basic concept: works of the flesh, carrying out rules taught by men which are not of God (Is.29:13; Matt.15:8-9), performing rites and rituals in the energy of the flesh and saying that is worship is wrong; only if something is true and only if something is illuminated/empowered by the Spirit is it godly and acceptable to God.

(9) But as it is written: "What the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, and [what] has not entered the heart of man, [these are the very] things which God has prepared for those who love Him". (10) And God has revealed [these very things] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches out everything, even the deep things of God. (11) For who knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him? In the same way too no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (12) And we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, in order that we might know the things graciously given to us by God. (13) And these are the very things we are speaking about, not in words taught by human wisdom, but with words of the Spirit, communicating spiritual information to spiritual people. (14) Now the unspiritual man does not receive the [deeper] things of the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him and he is not able to understand them because they are appreciated [only] through spiritual means. (15) But the spiritual man does appreciate them all, though he himself is not appreciated [in this regard] by anyone. (16) For [as it says] "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who will instruct Him?" But we do have the very thinking (lit., "mind") of Christ (i.e., His truth from the Spirit).
1st Corinthians 2:9-16

There is much more about all this in BB 5: Pneumatology (at the link). See also The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions VI (and earlier postings; at the link).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:   

Can you tell me in what ways the Son is equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit?

Response #3: 

The Father, Son and Spirit are God; they are co-equal and co-eternal, three separate persons.

For more at the link: "The Trinity" in BB 1

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:   

Yes, but how are they equal? Rank, Power, Authority?

Response #4: 

As explained in the prior link, they are coequal deity. God is God. Coequal, Coeternal, and Con-substantial partners in one and the same essence. All three Persons of the Trinity are God. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God. But the Father is not the Son or the Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father or the Son. Yet they are completely, perfectly, eternally and infinitely "ONE", existing outside of time and space eternally.

The Trinity are Infinite in terms of their nature: God is Spiritual, Eternal, Immeasurable, Unique, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent.

The Trinity are Perfect in terms of their character: God is Good, Holy, Faithful and True, Sovereign, Just, Love, Life.

All this is not something that we, creatures of their creation who can only exist in time and space and who can only think in terms of time and space can even dimly imagine. But we know that it is true – from the Bible and through the enlightenment we have from the Holy Spirit.

Here are some other pertinent links:

The Trinity in the Bible

The Trinity in the Old Testament

The Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Bible Basics 5: Pneumatology: The Study of the Holy Spirit

Peter #7: "The Ministry of the Holy Spirit "

Peter #16: "Leadership of the Spirit"

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions V

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions IV

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions III

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions II

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions I

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:    

I actually do have a serious question about the Trinity. In some places in ICHTHYS you say that each member of the trinity has their own distinct personality. But when I looked up the definition of the word 'essence' and 'personality', the definitions have some similarity. Both of them can be defined as the nature or makeup of the being. So how do we say one essence but distinct in personality? Or maybe you could better explain the words?

I also tried a slightly different tack with Merriam Webster's 1828 dictionary second, and it also had nature for essence (I mean it wasn't just that), and for personality, it was "that which constitutes an individual" which also seems to go under nature (in a subgroup sort of way).

I also tried looking up what the internet thought the difference between essence and personality is, and the only thing that I saw was basically them differentiating between essence (nature personality) and personality as it develops as you live. On the links on the first page anyway lol. But I think, due to Whom I am asking about, we should ignore the nurture-forms-personality group. But I didn't see anyone explaining a difference (I didn't go a bunch of pages of links in though).

Response #5: 

Essence in theological terms is the essential makeup of the thing in question. To use an analogy, mankind is "one in essence" as well, in that all human beings have the same basic and fundamental features of existence: body, spirit (given by God at birth), along with an individualized personality. But the fact that people are all the same "under the skin" does not mean that we act or think the same way, obviously. So for human beings there is no unity of essence in the sense of any necessary agreement between our multitudinous personalities, whereas the Trinity have absolute and complete unity.

One key difference: their essence is divine essence; ours is human and is thus material and not spiritual (even our spirits are  "of this creation" whereas God exists independent of the time and space He created). If this is all a little difficult to grasp, that is understandable because we are not God and have never seen Him face to face, and, being sinful and of this world at present, are only seeing all this "as if through a glass darkly". We will understand it much better on the other side.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
1st Corinthians 13:12 NKJV

If psychology doesn't "get it", no surprises there. Do they really "get" anything important? Not in my view – precisely because as with all sciences and pseudo-sciences of our day, they prima facie reject the notion of people being spiritual as well as material. Rejecting the fundamental truth of our makeup is a great handicap in trying to figure out "how we tick".

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi Dr L,

I do see that there were somehow three beings distinct in some fashion but not in another. But the way you describe, unless I misunderstand, I don't see how that is different from different gods. I mean blocks of wood have the same essence, and you could have a pagan make three idols with slight distinction in appearance. And we would say they are 3 'gods' for that pagan. Even though the essence of wood is the same. And when you start talking about distinct personalities, I don't know how that would work. I mean they all have the best traits and most perfect ones at exactly the right time. And there is no disagreement. So how would there be distinct personalities? I hope I am not being disrespectful in the way I am asking.

p.s. I thought about it a little more, and They don't do exactly the same thing in a situation, obviously as we see with their roles, but they are never in disagreement. I am still thinking.

Response #6: 

The classical definition of the Trinity is the one to which I subscribe: "three in person, one in essence". The Trinity are "one" in a way no one can imagine. Pagan gods and goddesses act like human beings, just more powerful. But God is "one" in purpose without even the slightest "shadow of turning" (Jas.1:17).

To the limited human perspective, either there has to be only one person or else multiple gods – but our God is three and one respectively. We're not expected to fathom the full mystery of this until the other side (1Cor.13:12), but we can see from scripture that the Trinity are different persons, and also that they work perfectly in unison.

“Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.”
1st John 12:28-30 NIV

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Doc, did you know that in mathematics, some infinites are bigger than others? I know that sounds like it makes no sense, and in most cases it doesn't, this is more in the realm of philosophy than objective math, but do you think this idea could apply to God somehow?

Response #7: 

That is interesting. I'm no good at math. They say that "one and one is two", but I have my doubts. One "what?" put together with one "what?". Maybe you know two things that are identical but I don't. Even subatomic particles are probably different in ways we don't yet understand, and in any case are in different places "doing different things" at any given moment. So the whole idea of math is based upon assumptions we all understand are only relatively correct.

So I do know that our human understanding of "infinity" has to be flawed because it is based on the material world and our empirical assessment of it. Whereas God is immaterial and incapable of being assessed – except as far as He has shared Himself with us in His creation and His Word of truth. God exists beyond time and space. We and our abilities to think are of necessity limited to the time and space which limits us.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Romans 11:33 KJV

I am praying for you, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

OK so what I think I've been trying to get at with all my logic questions is:

Is God subject to stuff like non contradiction and law of identity? I mean if He were subject to it that would make those things God and not Him. logic is never mentioned that i know of as one of His attributes, and I didn't see it listed on the theology study in Bible Basics, so I can only conclude that logic and reason are subservient to Him. This would essentially mean if He says something is so and it makes sense, it is so, regardless of what we see and hear, which seems to line up with what you say on trying to see spiritual truth through a logical lens (correct me if I'm wrong).

Am I still wrong on this? Am I still misunderstanding? This will most definitely be the last question on this topic I ask, because this is what I realized I was trying to get at this whole time.

Response #8: 

I'm not into logic (or the putative "value" of it) nor traditional theological constructs.

God is not bound by either of these things and cannot be limited by human efforts, intellectual or otherwise (that is only human self-deception). It is well to consider that if there is reason, God created it; if logic has value, it is because God so endowed it and ordained it.

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” (Is.29:14)
1st Corinthians 1:19

God is infinite in ways we who are bound by the material and temporal universe – things He created – cannot fathom.

God is perfect – in every way . . . and in any way you might think about Him (e.g., Rom.1:20).

BB 1 Theology presents these matters with as much specificity as in my view the Bible allows us to do. Have another look.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Doc, I have something to say...

God being beyond logical consistency, beyond any infinity we could possibly think of, beyond any limits or ideas we could think of? If I had to simplify my thoughts on this to 1 paragraph, it would be this:

You're right that in terms of how powerful and "transcendent" for lack of a better word, God is, He's not Zeus...but He's not Azathoth either, which is pretty much the God you describe, just with a nature that seems more benevolent and involved with this world to us, and really under the definitions you provide such thing can literally be both arbitrary and not at the same time if He desires, He can both exist and not exist at all, or either, up can be up, down, apple pie and God Himself. Do you see the problem? God IS indeed all the attributes the Bigle lists He has...but what good is that if those are literally arbitrary? But oh, I just lack faith for saying this...

Response #9: 

In spite of all sophistry, God IS existence, and all such attempts to use human reasoning in invidious ways only hurts the practitioner in the end.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:18-20 NIV

Those "invisible qualities" include 1) His Infinity: defined by His spirituality, immeasurability, uniqueness, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence; and 2) His Perfection: defined by His goodness, holiness, faithfulness/truthfulness, sovereignty, justice, love and life. The outcome of which for us here in time is the cross: the entire purpose behind God's creation of time and space is to share Himself with us . . . those of us who are willing to receive Him as our God and Father through Jesus Christ His Son, God the second Person, made real in our hearts through God the Holy Spirit.

If you'd like to know more about THE God – as opposed to hypothetical gods which theosophy and questionable theology posit – these things are discussed in BB 1: Theology (at the link); see also Theology Questions IV and prior postings from that series for further links.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Hi Dr. Robert Luginbill,

I had a few questions concerning the doctrines on the website, because some of them don't make a whole lot of sense to me, especially with the emphasis of promoting the original language texts.

First going through 4B-Soterio:

"These verses demonstrate perfectly what biblical repentance really means for unbelievers: turning away from the world and their previous allegiance to it, and turning towards God through faith in Jesus Christ. For practical reasons, the Bible often does seem to describe repentance as a separate step in the process of salvation. In reality, however, repentance is the opposite side of the coin to responding to God through faith in Jesus Christ: putting one's faith in Jesus Christ is impossible without first having one's thinking about the world and our relationship to it radically shaken, and experiencing a fundamental change of heart in response to the gospel always leads to the expression of genuine faith. Faith is impossible without repentance; genuine repentance never occurs without being followed by faith."

So I'm a bit confused. "genuine repentance" / "authentic repentance" / "biblical repentance" do not exist in any verses: these are what I call prependisms that Christianity likes to tack on: (link omitted). So why are these being mentioned? There's also no "putting faith" (two verbs), you're replacing believe (one verb) by adding two as if WE have to put/place/do something other than just believe. Furthermore, the action of metanoia (which should really be translated as mind change, or, changing your mind from one state to another) is actually agnostic to the subject matter. You can "metanoia" on many things and it doesn't always refer to changing your mind from unbelief to belief. If I decide to eat a McDonald's cheeseburger over a Big Mac, well, I've "repented" from the cheeseburger to the Big Mac. Also because of the old sin nature, we're so unreliable anyways that there's no "faith-keeping", we're constantly changing the states of our mind on anything and everything. 'Repent' is a horrible English term that's largely deformed by orthodox Christianity to inject emotion, it's hardly worth ever using in my opinion since the meaning of metanoia has morphed into something it's not. Furthermore, in John 6:40 (which is the will of the father), "genuine repentance" is excluded, it's just believe. The people in Matthew 7:22 tried promoting what could only be described as "genuine/authentic repentance" that's thrown around in Christianity, and all of it gets discarded because it was only ever believe, WHICH THEY FAILED TO DO.

"Faith in Christ, accepting Jesus Christ, the truth about who He is and what He has done for us as contained in the gospel, is what opens the door to our spiritual rebirth. God, who "waits [on us] to be gracious to us" (Is.30:18) and who desires "all to be saved" (1Tim.2:4) has already "given us the power to become children of God" through Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf; His righteousness is now "unleashed" and He is free to forgive us since Christ has paid our penalty. Our spiritual rebirth therefore comes by this grace, but must be taken up "through faith" (Eph.2:8-9). "

How come you're using the word 'accepting'? Nowhere in the original language texts does it say we need to 'accept' /'trust' / 'sincere' / 'admit' / 'place', it's only ever BELIEVE. I also have no idea what the 'door to spiritual rebirth' is supposed to mean, Revelation 3:20 is referring to being spiritually offline, you're already trichotomous at that point. You're either 'born from above' or not, there's no [re]birth.

"Imprinted by God at birth on the heart of every human being is a threefold ultimate concern that dominates all serious thinking about this life, whether or not these issues are eventually faced by the person in question or are later willfully erased ~ and to an insistently immediate and tearfully grateful acceptance of the divine solution to this otherwise unavoidable and utterly horrible end. "

Is that a reference to Hebrews 10:26? Because "willfully" is a very bad translation and it has nothing to do with salvation. Is there an emphasis on 'tearfully'? No emotion is involved with the Plan of God, even if we do have "tears" they're utterly useless. Our only value is to get HIS thinking in ours, not what hooking up emotion to tear physical ducts can accomplish. So I actually have to thank you for this one. I couldn't figure out why the demons kept using triangles in some of their shows they give people (you know, for alien abductions and the like, or in various sects of paganism). Well apparently it's to melt God's persons into a single triangle and the Church Fathers as you've shown, do just that:
https://ichthys.com/1Theo.htm#II. The Persons of God: The Trinity
It's [not] three IN one, it's three AND one. God is still three distinct persons in lieu of identical essence, the triangle melts Him into one. I've updated my page with this info: (link omitted) Also I don't understand the real-world examples you provided for the trinity which tend to be rather vague. Why not just go for the direct comparisons God has provided, like the ones I've shown on my page? Light: Red (1), Green (2), Blue (3) Atoms: Protons (1), Neutrons (2), Electrons (3) Boom, simple. Enough to make atheists and unitarians look twice. On page three you have:

"(16) For God loved the world so much that He gave [up] His one and only Son, [with the purpose] that everyone who believes in Him should not be lost [forever], but have eternal life [instead]. (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. (18) The one who believes in Him is not being judged, but the one who does not believe has already been judged on the grounds that he has not put his faith in the Name (i.e., the Person) of God's one and only Son.
John 3:16-18"

It's not "only Son" (that's actually contradicting many other doctrines because we're all the "sons of God" as per Genesis 1:27). Christ is the *only [uniquely born]* Son, and this is also important because it's the only way you can argue against Unitarians when they reverse it like you did there. Made in His image = God has MANY sons. The Greek for "only son" would be different anyways (feel free to retranslate your English translation into Koine and see for yourself). Friberg's defintion of μονογενες also expounds on this, I've replicated the quote here: (link omitted) You seem to repeat this mistake in 4B-Soterio: "None of this would have been possible without the Father’s sacrifice of His one and only dear Son for our sins." I certainly hope Jesus Christ isn't the only 'son' else we wouldn't exist (although to be honest with you, I'm shocked God even went through the trouble of creating souls, God is the only one who would actually go through with something like that, because of love).

Response #10: 

Dear ___ (?)

You have me at a disadvantage since you do not identify yourself, either in this email or at your "website".

As to "So why are these being mentioned?" I have my own way of presenting teaching. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, and that is fine. Obviously, no one is under any obligation to avail themselves of these materials . . . and they are offered free of charge and can be accessed anonymously too.

To answer the question specifically, there are many misplaced views about what repentance is and what it means (which is why I use these terms; see the link).

In terms of "believe", this is an English verb of course, and the semantic overlap with Greek pisteuo is not absolute; neither does the noun "faith" sync perfectly with the Greek noun pistis (and note that while English translations generally use these two non-etymologically related words to render the two kindred Greek words, they don't always do so). That "faith/belief" is not identical in Greek and English is clear from James chapter two (especially v.19). If you'd like a bit more detail on this from my perspective, see the link: "Faith Dynamics". As with repentance, it is also true with "believe" and "faith" that these English words have picked up a good deal of "baggage" over the centuries so that they may mean slightly different things to different people depending on their theological backgrounds (or lack thereof). So the alternatives and other renderings are given in the manner of explanation, something all good teaching utilizes.

As to tears, emotion, and willfully, et al., I'm not sure what you mean. You seem to be arguing with someone else and importing errors you've found elsewhere to the teachings of this ministry.

In terms of illustrations of the Trinity, there are many of these and they are just that: mere illustrations. I hold with the classic definition: God is three persons in/with one essence.

I don't quote John 3:16-18 in BB1: Theology. In any case, as any regular reader will know, there is a difference between THE Son . . . the Son of God, the Son of man . . . and the "many sons" Jesus brought to glory. Capitalization is important there. For the meaning of yachid/monogenes, see the link.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Hi Professor Luginbill,

Right, what you are saying makes sense and I largely agree with it. I was just trying to make an observation. But you're right. I do think we need to be aware of what's happening around us, however (Luke 21:29-31). While not getting too involved in it, I always try to apply the scriptures to a specific context, and I think responsibly addressing certain issues in the world does bring honor to God. Like, getting your bachelor's without actually working afterward might give you a lot of head knowledge, but you don't REALLY know how it's important until you utilize it and implement it in your daily life. That's all.

To ask an unrelated question, I recently ran into a "conundrum" on God's power and knowledge. ___ basically asked me, having omnipotence and omniscience defined, "if God can't create something he doesn't know, then he can't be omnipotent; but if God doesn't know something he can't create, he can't be omniscient. How exactly do we respond to this? Is he maybe begging the question? Like maybe he's ASSUMING God can't create or know something.


Aside from that, I've been slowly trying to build up my capacity to do my Bible studying, ideally getting MANY hours in a day. Aside from the direct study/reading, I've also started doing some Greek! I decided to start doing it kind of impulsively, but I'm pretty certain God has called me to teach, so I think I'm going to stick with it. I have a tutor I meet with weekly and do textbook/vocab work as well. I can't read any NT fluidly yet but am eager to get there.

Aside from this, I also have the whole money thing on my mind. [omitted]

Finally, I'm still thinking about postponing the seminary plans. I think it's something I do want to do, but I don't think I'm exactly all there mentally. Im praying that my mental skills get better and better, but I want to be sure I'm running at a confident pace before I dedicate the time to learning a lot of info.

I hope I got everything I wanted to say.

Glad it's getting close to summer.

Thanks a lot

In Christ,

Response #11: 

Great to hear from you!

Re: ___, God can't not know anything. Or put another way, "omniscience" means He knows everything, what is and what is not, what was and what did not happen, what will happen and what might have . . . if the plan of God had been different.

In any case, we are talking here about the world, time and space. Time and space, the present universe, is unimaginably small to our God. He created it instantly and knew before He did so exactly what was going to transpire in the actual plan of God, the one which He foreordained. Nothing could or can happen without His foreordaining of it.

(29) For those whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to share the likeness of His Son (i.e., to have identical resurrection bodies), so that He might be the Firstborn over many brothers [and sisters]. (30) And those whom He foreordained, these He also called [to salvation], and those whom He called, He also made righteous [through faith in Christ], and those whom He made righteous, these He also glorified (i.e., our resurrection and eternal life has been set fast in the plan of God since before the world was made).
Romans 8:29-30

It sounds to me as if the person making this statement is thinking of a god, not our GOD. Big difference (none greater, in fact).

RE: "It's also just uncomfortable asking people for money...", I get that!!!

In terms of giving, there are some things on that on the website (see the subject index under "Charity and charitable giving"). In a nutshell, in my opinion it's always better to give to an individual whom you know and of whose needs you are aware (institutions and organizations are always flawed). I always recommend Bible Academy (at the link).

Thanks for the update! Keeping you and your plans in my daily prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

I've asked this a few times but you never seem to answer:

What's the true name of God? A lot of people translate the tetragrammaton as "Yahweh" or "Yahveh". Is His true name even important? And if any of these names are true, do they apply to just the Father or the entire Trinity?

Response #12: 

I've never heard you ask me this question before, but I have no trouble answering it. If you're asking about the meaning of YHVH, here is what I have posted on the tetragrammaton in BB 1: Theology:

To speak of the essence of God is to speak about who God really is. By essence we mean "being". The word essence is derived from the Latin verb "to be" and is in turn a translation of the Greek word ousia, which also means "being". More than having being or existence, God is being. He makes this clear to all when He proclaims His name Jehovah (or Jahweh) to Moses and explains its meaning:(1)

Then God said to Moses, "I shall be who I am. This is what you will tell the sons of Israel: 'I am sent me to you.'" And God also said to Moses, "Thus you will say to the sons of Israel: 'the Lord [the "is": YHVH], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob sent me to you.' This is My Name forever, and this is how you are to think about me for all generations."
Exodus 3:14-15

Jehovah and Jahweh are the two most well-known English vocalizations of what is often called the "tetragrammaton", i.e. the four consonant name for the Lord explained in these verses. In Hebrew, yhvh, (יהוה) is traditionally vocalized as 'adonai, though it occurs in the Old Testament without vowels. The divine name "Lord", explained in these verses as based on "I am/shall be", can potentially be derived from either the Hebrew verb "to be" or the verb "to become" (the two verbs being very close in the Hebrew). Likewise, the form יהוה is a unique form which appears to be a cross between an imperfect (indicating repeated action irrespective of time as in "I shall be/I am") and an infinitive absolute (summing up the meaning of a verb at one throw: i.e., the very essence of "being/becoming"). Thus it is clear enough from the Hebrew context and verbal forms that "the Name" is a declaration that the Lord is the very definition of being and existence without regard to time or phenomena. Q.E.D.

Here is another link on various "names of God" (Q/A #4).

On your second question, YHVH is a singular name which is used individually of all three members of the Trinity; 'Elohiym can be used of the Trinity together (cf. Gen.1:26).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:   

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your previous emails etc. Sorry, I was getting a bit upset at things but thanks so much for praying. I've just been struggling quite a bit lately.

But I have a new issue to run by you! I hope it's ok to do so. Previously I had been a bit sucked in with some quite charismatic groups. Through Bible study and the Lord showing me, I realised the deception they were teaching.

Someone has recently got back in touch with me. I feel they're trying to suck me back in and they're quite dismissive of my stance. They're from the prophetic ministry. They're trying to talk about these so called prophecies about a big shaking coming linked with finances etc across the world. Some of it felt more trying to predict the future etc. They insisted it was all Biblically lined up. But to me it was extra Biblical.

I tried to explain I look to the Word. That all they're talking about is not right, as we have the completed Word. But the person then wanted to argue with me thinking I'm dismissing prophecies and the prophetic gift etc. I'm saying we have all we need in the Word. The person in effect then thinks I'm denying the Holy Spirit etc.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted some reassurances. I guess that these sort of prophetic ministries are incorrect. And that these so called prophecies are deceptions in themselves. And then also it's a lot of pressure from people like this who I seem to often come across. It's then how to deal with them.

I just wondered your perspective on this.

Many thanks and hope that makes sense.


Response #13: 

Your comment about us having the complete Bible and that is all we need is exactly correct.

Paul says very explicitly at 1st Corinthians 13:10 that "when the perfect (i.e., completed Bible) comes, what is partial will be done away with (i.e., temporary gifts designed to fill the gap for spiritual growth until the Bible was completed)". And the gifts of prophecy and tongues and knowledge are the three he mentions as on the point of cessation back in the first century (1Cor.13:8). That makes perfect sense, because, prophecy and the gift of knowledge give us only partial information (1Cor.13:9), but those partial gifts will be done away with once no longer necessary once we have the whole Bible which is everything we Christians need in this life, the whole counsel of God (1Cor.13:10). There's much more on all this in BB 7: Bibliology (at the link).

This transition from special gifts making up for no New Testament to our blessed possession of the entire Bible is akin to growing up from a child into an adult; so that going backwards is the opposite of growth (1Cor.13:11). In any case, it is not up to us to go out and acquire these gifts somehow. The Holy Spirit is the One – the only One – who gives all spiritual gifts (1Cor.12:11). And not everyone has the same gifts (1Cor.12:14-27); and only certain believers have certain spiritual gifts (1Cor.12:29-31).

I can't think of anything more spiritually dangerous than claiming to have – and claiming to be exercising – a spiritual gift one does NOT actually have.

For tongues, it's easy enough to put that to the test. As Paul says at 1st Corinthians 14:10, " there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning". If a person is gifted to speak in tongues, we know clearly from this verse and from the actual occurrence of the gifting of tongues in Acts chapter two that the gift enabled a person who had not learned a particular language to speak in that language. Given how small the world has become, it is easy enough to test a person who claims to speak in tongues: get a recording of them and see if anyone has ever heard of the "language" they are speaking. Paul affirms in this section of 1st Corinthians that tongues is for a sign, and that the legitimate gift was NOT speaking gibberish but a real language. If the tongues-speaker isn't speaking a discernible, actual human language, then this defeats the purpose of the gift and is NOT the gift. Also, no one was supposed to be speaking in tongues without an interpreter (1Cor.14:13; 14:27; cf. 1Cor.12:30). So if this "language" can't be interpreted it's another proof that this is not a language at all and thus not legitimate, biblical "tongues". Q.E.D. Bottom line: there has not been a single legitimate instance of speaking in tongues since the 1st century.

The same thing goes for prophecy. People have been claiming to be prophets for millennia. But what does the Bible say?

"I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.” You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed."
Deuteronomy 18:19-22 NIV

So false prophesying is very dangerous . . . and listening to false prophets only marginally less so. It is the height of arrogance and temerity for a person to claim that "God said" when God did NOT say (Ezek.22:28). One thing is sure, whatever is falsely prophesied, since it is by definition not actually from God, has to be from the devil instead (one way or another). Cults and manipulators just love to take on the mantle of being God's mouthpiece. It gives them a false authority with which to exploit those stupid enough and foolish enough to listen to them. As with tongues, there has not been a single instance of true prophesying since the 1st century. And that makes sense too. This age, the Church Age, is the mystery age (see the link), veiled from view before the Messiah came and it then became known that there would be two advents, not one. In between is "us", the fulfillment of Jesus' Church. All prophecy in scripture which has not yet been fulfilled relates to what will happen at the end/after the Church Age, during the Tribulation, Millennium, last judgment and eternal state. So by definition there are no prophets today . . . except for false ones.

So I applaud your very healthy spiritual instincts to stay away from all such abuse. These places are "fun" because of the emotional excess, but the hangover from indulging is far worse than any temporary "enjoyment" of false things – and such involvement always sets a person back spiritually.

There is a great deal about all this on Ichthys. Here are a few links which will lead you to more:

The Gift of Tongues: Part 3

Are Miraculous Gifts Operational Today?

Temporary Gifts (in BB 5)

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:   

Hi Bob,

Thanks so much for your email. I really appreciate it.

I am just finding myself coming across this quite often with people I know. Just the other week I got into a Facebook discussion with someone who was claiming some prophet said something. I basically said for him to be careful as it was a false prophet. But the person got annoyed with me and tried to turn it round basically disparaging me.

Just like the person today - they seemed to look pityingly at me. I get this quite often with people who dismiss me often when I challenge these things.

I really just felt like I needed support really. I guess - encouragement from a fellow believer. So I really appreciate you writing.

It's like I know this, but I also find these people push me and put me down a bit unfortunately. So I can feel vulnerable and therefore just need to hear it again and have the verses to hand, like you've set out to help in any further conversations I have. I don't know if that makes sense.

But thanks for setting this out. It helps if I'm blindsided by people again to have the verses you point out.

1 Corinthians 13: 8-11 for instance. Thanks for your explanations.

And yes, these groups do seem to babble incoherently, calling it tongues. Again it's helpful to have the explanations at hand in case I get into that conversation with people. Thanks for that.

Thanks for the Deuteronomy verses. 18: 19-22. Again - having verses to mind is helpful. Yes, I've tried to explain to people about false prophets but they often don't want to hear it unfortunately.

And it's very true what you say - it being the height of arrogance when they claim they speak from God.

I agree, a lot of this I have felt is very manipulative and cult like. They do try to exploit.

Thanks for the links. I will check those about the mystery age etc. And the links on the gifts etc.

But thanks for all this. Yes, I have seen how these places can almost intoxicate people - they like the buzz, the emotions etc. Unfortunately I see a lot of people caught up in it.

I wonder sometimes how to proceed. It's whether to keep on challenging these things - speaking the truth with people who are saying they're Christians, but then often I clash with people. It generally falls on deaf ears, as they are caught up in it all. Or do I keep away completely as they're not in the truth. Are they just too deep into this deception? I don't know if you have any thoughts on that.

But anyway, once again thanks so much. It's just good being able to discuss all this - being in the truth. Thanks for your help with this.

Take care. In Christ.

Response #14: 

It's my pleasure!

Re: "Are they just too deep into this deception?", indeed, many of them are. It's "fun" to pretend that you have a special message from God or are able to miraculously speak a secret language. Many of these people are also into miraculous healing. But the problem with that one is that it is too easy to debunk too quickly. And yet many do involve themselves in those deceptions as well. "Rah, rah, rah!", loud music, exciting testimonials (about things that didn't actually happen), prophesies (about things that aren't actually going to happen) is a three ring circus of "fun". The fact that it won't produce spiritual growth (just the opposite) and is abominable to the Lord (as everything not true is, after all), doesn't seem to mean much to people who have rebelled in their hearts to the point of doing such things. So of course they are upset with anyone who isn't taken in like they are. It's like we're judging them. And it's also uncomfortable because it makes them question what they're doing (if only just a little) – and deep down there is a spark at least of knowing they're in the wrong . . . unless their hearts have been hardened past the point of no return, like Pharaoh's was.

"The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go."
Exodus 4:21 NIV

"For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
Exodus 9:15-16 NIV

There are plenty of examples of good folks who have had to deal with this posted at Ichthys (see prior links).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:    

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your email. Yes I think I probably knew that really. That they are too deep into the deception. Yes, I hadn't really seen it that way though, as you've described, that people see it as 'fun'. It is like a buzz they seem to get.

And, yes that is also what I've come across that people are into the miraculous healing side of if it too.

It's all ramped up, emotions are high etc. It is like a circus as you say.

But it's true - the spiritual growth isn't there. It's good for me to be reminded that as you say - this sort of thing is abominable to the Lord.

But I hope as you say that there may be a spark in these people knowing they're in the wrong. Unfortunately, the people I seem to come across don't seem to indicate that though. They don't seem to see it etc.

But thanks for your thoughts and I'll check out the links etc. And thanks for your help in all this.

Hope you are ok. And many thanks for all this.

Yours in Christ.

Response #15: 

Happy to help!

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hi Bob,

I have just noticed something troubling on the street next to where I live. There are signs up and leaflets put through our doors for a 'Christ Treasure Centre'. The first thing I noticed is that they have their meetings in the same place where they host a 'Medium' who does 'healings' once a week! I was about to send off an email to mention this but I did some research first to find that this CTC is based in Lagos and its website is listed as both being malicious and a phishing scam!
They seem to be a Pentecostal type affair and the head of it claims that he is an Apostle!

Won't bother contacting them then as their consciences are so seared that they won't care about any Mediums then if they are scamming people. Do these people not fear God at all? How awful to tarnish our Lord with such things. What is the most sad is that it will drive people away from trusting Christ and no doubt this is what Satan intends with all of this anyway, to smear our Lord's name and accuse Him of doing what Satan is actually doing.

I have seen quite a few so called churches pop up here there and everywhere and most of them have names I have never heard of before like this one. The Holy Spirit always warns me and I knew this was a scam before I even investigated. When these organisations claim to be 'new', the only true Newness is in Jesus Christ and we know what time it is. I do feel it a shame that I automatically am suspicious of such things and my suspicions are usually borne out.

Really sad and dark times Bob. Looking forward so much to truly getting 'away from it all' on the Day of the Lord! Amen!

In Jesus,
p.s. I know about the false teachings on tongues. I know there is no such thing as a secret angelic prayer language that the Charismatics talk about to justify glossolalia but what is Romans 8:26-27 referring to? I looked through your site on tongues and I couldn't find the specific mention of when Paul refers to the Holy Spirit's intercession as wordless groans. It doesn't mean the believer in question will be groaning will it? Again I think the Charismatics have jumped on this verse to justify their glossolalia. I always read this that it is the Holy Spirit that is groaning to intercede for us and that this groaning is not only wordless but silent and that we won't even be aware of it happening.

Response #16: 

Yes indeed, there are a great many troubling things about in the late innings of Laodicea, many of which are purportedly "Christian" – but which in fact are only doing the devil's work.

(26) And the Spirit helps us in our weakness in a similar way. For we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us also with anguished supplications which words cannot express. (27) But He who searches our hearts (i.e., the Lord) knows what the Spirit is thinking, because He (i.e., the Spirit) intercedes with God on behalf of the saints (i.e., believers "sanctified" or made holy by the Spirit).
Romans 8:26-27

As to Romans 8:26-27, I'm quite surprised that the charismatics have decided to hijack this passage as well. What you say is exactly correct: It doesn't mean the believer in question will be groaning will it?" It would seem to me that this is pretty obvious from the context: the Spirit prays and intercedes for us; so this is Him not us. But people who are not really interested in scripture or spiritual growth but who instead have some agenda generally only use the Bible as a tool for furthering that agenda, correct understanding and interpretation being unnecessary for their limited and self-centered purposes.

Keeping you and yours in my prayers daily, my friend – thanks ever so much for yours as well!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Hi Bob,

This may be an irrelevant question, but since ___, I've had some of the strangest dreams. All are rather unsettling.

In your opinion, is this something to which I should pay attention or simply one of the failures of old age? (In either case, it's OK to be brutally honest.) In either case also, I have the impression that my time here is very short. A couple more things to take care of and I'm done.

I hope all is well up there in L'ville. You and yours remain in my prayers daily.

On our Lord,

Response #17: 

God does send dreams and visions, of course. One only needs to remember Joseph and Daniel. The Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. Paul's night-vision / dream of a Macedonian man asking for help was the genesis of evangelizing Greece. One could write a book about this (some have – none that I could recommend, however).

On the other hand, not all dreams are sent by God to communicate specific information to us. Most are not. And we can all attest to many dreams which have made no particular sense.

Just as dreams come when there are many cares, so the rash vow of a fool occurs when there are many words.
Ecclesiastes 5:3 NET

And it is also true that we are sometimes refreshed by our dreams.

At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.
Jeremiah 31:26 NASB95

Absent a direct appearance of or a direct word from the Lord, it's up to each of us individually to interpret all the things that happen to us in this life, knowing that nothing is accidental but also that not everything is meant to have special spiritual significance. It's dangerous to get too far to either of these guard rails.

We do need to be wise about this sort of thing (here's a link for more on this topic), but whatever happens, if we find a dream encouraging, we are definitely within our rights to praise God and thank Him for it. Drawing spiritual conclusions from it, especially taking specific action because of it, is where we need to take care to put scripture before anything we see or hear or feel . . . or even dream.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
1st Corinthians 1:25 NIV

The above verse seems really out of place by the translators, but: I can see the meaning when I read this verse in context. But, in my opinion, it as not a good choice of words on their part. Verse 27 kind of explains what verse 25 means. Am I right according to what I have written here, or am I all wet as they say? World getting worse, just like the Bible predicts.

The United States is only moving closer to it's destruction. Hope you are doing well, and are being mightily blessed by our precious LORD.

Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #18: 

Well, there are a LOT of versions out there. So in terms of "poor choice of words", which one(s) are you finding fault with?

Things are bad, but, blessedly, our property is in New Jerusalem and things are pretty good there – perfect, in fact. We just have to wait until our leases are up down here before we move on up (shouldn't be too long now).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

It is the words in 1 Corinthians 25 that says "Because the foolishness of God".

"Foolishness of God"? I don't think so.

Thanks, Your friend,

Response #19: 

It's not a bad translation.

The point is that since God is NOT foolish – obviously – His wisdom is so far beyond human understanding that, a fortiore, it puts the wise on this earth to shame.  It means something like, "You think God is foolish!?  You are the foolish one to even imagine or suggest that the One who created you and gave you the ability to think so foolishly through your own free-will choice is anything but Wisdom incarnate!".

Paul often used rhetorical devices such as this to make his points – inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so.

Hope you two are doing well!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

Hi Bill,

Recently has been awful for me, As I was finally able to get rid of the idea that Jesus was a created being (Arianism), I now have to deal with a much more troubling idea that I have never thought I would have to deal with : Modalism

This mostly arose from that one Ministry I was telling you about around a Week or 2 (ISawTheLightMinistry), It only occurred to me a little before but what they teach isn’t that the Father and Son are only God, but that God presents himself in 3 ways (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

I am unsure if it is Modalism or Monarchial Modalism but either way I've also noticed that a lot of their teachings comes from groups like Oneness Pentecostals or the Worldwide Church of God (and although they’ve said that they’ve tested with different faith over the time, it’s still unnerving how close to the 2 others I've just mentioned it is.).

I can’t take it anymore Bill, ever since last year I've been trying hard to actually find the correct doctrine and luckily was brought to Trinitarianism, whoever the more I look into other doctrines the more I start to doubt if it is the correct Doctrine and not just some amalgamation between paganism (which I have yet to find a single convincing evidence that it is) and scriptural manipulations made by the Early Church fathers to discredit Marcion, Sabellius, Arius etc. (Which I highly doubt).

I've been thinking of converting to so many faiths over the past (ie. judaism, deism, jw again, gnostiscism, islam and probably much much more) and yet always felt like going in the direction of Trinitarianism, No matter how the pain was or how much I was doubting.

More importantly I've noticed what most of these faiths have in common (denial and constant attack of the Trinity, Unorthodox teachings, weird things going around etc.).

I've been trying to get my hands into several trustworthy sources from Christian Scholars that I will be examinating but please, pray for my poor misguided soul so that the Lord brings me closer to him than further away. I don’t have a lot of things that I hold importance to anymore and I just wish to get closer to God instead of my soul belonging to the devil.

As always, have a nice day and God bless you.

Response #20: 

First, salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became a man to die for our sins on the cross (see the link).

If you are a believer, here is what I can tell you: you will never get to any sort of peace or "solution" through wandering around on the internet and accessing / paying to attention to various and sundry points of view. Also, it is impossible to have the peace and joy which spiritual growth provides by focusing on a single issue: growth has to be balanced. A person could exercise their left wrist day and night and come to have the strongest left wrist ever – and not have the strength to get up out of their chair for want of balanced exercise. That is to say, believers need to pursue a broad-based strategy of spiritual growth. That is what Ichthys is designed to provide – in concert with prayer and individual Bible reading.

The Basics series (link) – which is much more in depth than the name "basics" suggests – is a good place to start. I already pointed you to the first part, BB 1: Theology. I am sure that if you carefully read through – in faith, in the Spirit – BB 4A: Christology (at the link), you would begin to have peace about the deity and humanity of our Lord. Because all of these studies are based on scripture and NOT the sort of mere speculation and philosophical inquiry which constitutes the basis for these false theories you are troubling yourself with. But you do have to have the Holy Spirit for this to be of any value. All believers have the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:29), but ONLY believers, those who are saved (Jn.3:18), have Him indwelling them, and we can only actually understand God's truth through the Holy Spirit (link).

So please do have a look. Spiritual growth is very much a forward moving positive thing – rather than a defensive matter of constantly considering disturbing lies. The Spirit will help you, but you do have to be willing to engage the correct way.

In Jesus,

Bob L.


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