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Spiritual Warfare VI

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Question #1:

Do you think that some people are gifted with the ability to move things with their mind? And that this isn’t necessarily occult or demonic in origin?

After doing some reading, I think that “psychokinesis” or “telekinesis” is entirely demonic in origin. It isn’t obviously Satanic like necromancy or sorcery, but it is demonic activity disguised in quasi-scientific terminology, not unlike Aliens.

Response #1:

I would be very much inclined to advise believers to stay away from anything like this indeed. It's clearly not a good thing from a biblical point of view, whether there is some outside force involved or the person is making it up or convincing him/herself.

Some links:

Spiritual Warfare V

Spiritual Warfare IV: Demons, Demonic Influences and Satanic Methodology

Spiritual Warfare III: Peter's 'Angel', Saul's Death, and Strange Events

Spiritual Warfare II

Faith, Hope and Love: Virtue in Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare

Satan's Tactical Doctrine (in SR 4)

Satan's Tactical Methodology (in SR 4)

Binding & loosing

Prayers for binding

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Brother Robert,

I just wanted to give you an update on how things are going. I am seeing much progress. Most of it in my thought life. When I first started focusing on controlling my thoughts it was really difficult. But as time goes on it is becoming easier to stop the bad thoughts when I notice them coming on. I’m also cutting out anything that is contributing to them. I surrender to the Lord daily making every new day a fresh start. Not every day has been perfect but they are getting progressively better. I am progressing in His Word and in my prayer life. I still look at your website every week and when I’m having a bad day I read topics that relate to what I’m going through.

Also, my wife has bad dreams from time to time. What can I do to help her stop the bad dreams?


Response #2:

I'm happy to hear it! Good for you!

I have noticed and it is commonly enough reported that continuation in spiritual growth makes all such things better, thoughts, dreams, focus on Christ, etc. It does take effort though; it is not automatic. Dreams are somewhat different, although even here I have noticed that Christians who are more and more concentrated on the Lord and on the truth tend to dream things that more in line with what they are focusing on. It's not always the case with dreams, however. Sometimes bad dreams are a test (cf. Job 7:14); but it is also true that the more we grow spiritually, the more confident we become with asserting the truth – and that seems to include how we act and react in dreams to some degree (I wouldn't want to build that observation into an incontrovertible principle, however).

Here are a few links to discussions about dreams at the site:

Bad dreams

Interpreting dreams

What does the Bible say about Dreams and Visions?

Dreams, Visions, and the Interpretation of Prophecy

How to interpret our dreams?

Dreams, Visions, Miracles

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hello Sir,

My wife and son are fine. They have seen worse times. My own health is better than before. We do get attacked by Satan every now and then though through people here who are deeply involved in dark spiritual practices.

I speak to our friend everyday now. He is a hard working person and loves our Lord a lot. He is holding up. He is not going to give up on the Lord, that I am sure of. We have come to a point where the question of giving up on the Lord never arise at all (it never did). Its only a matter of bearing up under these circumstances.

On my own work front, it's the same old story since the year 2000 when we returned from Egypt. My parents and I have seen extreme failures and now my wife and my son have joined us too. There is absolutely nothing I can do about my circumstances; I gave up long time back. I am totally relying on the Lord. Please trust me sir, this is the only option left. I get blamed all day long that I don't try or try hard. The Lord has been extremely kind to me, he has given me the strength to endure all this. He wants me to wait patiently and He has made this extremely clear to me. There is no way anyone can shake my trust. I am a kind of person who is either all in or all out, and the "all out" option does not exist for me anymore. I am strong when I am weak, because He is my strength. No one can see that except my brothers and sisters in Christ

It's the same old story Sir. I warned you in the previous email "rest everything is the same". The only "happiness" I am desperately waiting for is to give you guys and my family the good news of my deliverance on this front. This is all left in my life right now. Even if I fail on this front I will still remain your brother in Christ, I promise you that. But Sir, this time I really want to win. I have never won anything in my life, trust me Sir.

You haven't said anything about your situation.

I will continue to pray for you, your ministry and all on the "special prayer" list.

In our dear Lord,

Response #3:

While I'm of course concerned for you and your family's situation, I couldn't be more pleased with this testimony about your faith! It absolutely doesn't matter if we are successes or not by the world's standards. What good does it do to be a grand success in this life if the person doesn't come to Christ? Or as our Lord put it, it is useless to gain the entire world and lose life eternal. The scrambling around in this life and in this world is only to show what we really love and care for. All wealth rots just as all present day bodies will rot. Only what's done for Christ will last forever.

So be pleased to hold that faith tight, my friend! I'm greatly encouraged by your absolute faith. It speaks volumes about the goodness of the Lord and the power of the truth.

I am keeping you and your family in my prayers daily, and I know that the Lord has a deliverance in store for you. Waiting is always the hard part, but it is also an essential part that we all go through.

Thanks for your prayers too. I'm having some physical problems (back/hip keeping me from normal exercise; weight going up as a result); also, some issues at work. The regime at my university has no regard for Classical languages or the ancient world and I am a bit under the gun. A prayer for success in my present contract negotiation would be greatly appreciated. I have tenure, so I'm not likely to be fired, God helping me, but the pay has gone down (through them no longer being willing to pay for some of the classes I teach). The good news is that if my present contract is accepted, I should have more time over the summers and be able to get some momentum back in the ministry.

Keep me in the loop, my friend.

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

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello Sir,

Thank you for your encouragement. I will be praying for your health and for your job situation to improve. I know the importance of Ichthys, especially in the end times we are in. Whatever the Lord allows is for our ultimate best but I still hope and pray your health issues and financial problems go away forever. If there are a few believers (I am sure there must be) who can handle such a blessing then definitely you are one of them.

Thank you Sir,

Response #4:

The Lord does bring relief and all tests are always over eventually.

But it is also true that "in this world you have tribulation" (Jn16:33); so praise the Lord for the last part of the verse "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world"!

Praying for you too, my friend!

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

On demon Exorcism

1) Is the body of Christ currently permitted to do it "demon exorcism"?

2) Does the body of Christ currently have permission to ask these demons leave the person being tormented?

3) Is it wise enough to reluctantly avoid people who are demon possessed if by discernment you identify such one?

James 5:13-15 (ASV)
13 Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him."

After reading the entire Peter Series or epistles on spiritual growth" I tried to compare the daily details of life and as to why suffering is important in the life of the Christian". Can demon possession be identified as suffering?

Response #5:

I'll give you some links below to where this topic is covered in more detail, but to answer your questions directly:

1) No. Only apostles had that power.

2) We can certainly pray to the Lord for anything we wish according to His will. But there is no such thing as us somehow intervening directly by "commanding" or "binding" demons – not biblically and in truth, that is.

3) It would be prudent to avoid any person who is evil or controlled by evil or who in any way might be dangerous, physically or spiritually.

4) Believers cannot be demon possessed. Believers can be subjected to torment as Paul was, but our free will remains completely our own even if such is the case. For these reasons, demon possession cannot be "sharing the sufferings of Christ" since it only applies to unbelievers who are no part of Christ. Whatever the origin of our personal suffering and/or tribulation may be and whatever the immediate cause, seen or unseen, anything we suffer for Christ is a blessing and (potential) means of spiritual advance (if we respond to the test in the correct way); this is even true of divine discipline – after a Christian repents and turns back to the Lord with all his/her heart (as in David's case). There is a lot more on this subject in 6A of Bible Basics, "Peripateology" (see the link).

Here are those other links:

Demon Influences


Angelic Issues III

Dreams, Visions, Miracles, Exorcism

Spiritual warfare: Exorcism

Spiritual Warfare V

Spiritual Warfare IV: Demons, Demonic Influences and Satanic Methodology

Binding & loosing

Prayers for binding

Demonic Possession

Demon Possession (in SR 4)

*Third Party Testimony

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

My very dear teacher

I hope that you are well and more abundantly productive for our Lord everyday. Everyday I thank Him for you and pray that He strengthens and leads you into greater fruitfulness in your work for Him. I have not yet gotten tired of appreciating how blessed I was to have run into your website early in October last year. I never wonder where I would have been if I hadn't: I know that it would have been no good place at all. I used to think that while I was nowhere near where I felt I should be as a believer I did seem to be the only other person I knew who wanted to go with Christ wherever He chose to lead. I'm sure that that was why I got so self-righteous, so constantly afraid that if I listened to anyone I might lose sight of Christ completely. How He preserved me until He delivered me to your doorstep and made me able to receive your teaching is something I simply cannot fathom. I have always been afraid that I would harden myself into apostasy even though I tried to keep myself open to test every teaching. I know that I would have rejected you had I been brought sooner to you (when you said that, you were probably more right about that than you know). I have been blessed to find you and sometimes that blessing terrifies me.

It has been a month since we last talked. My phone got too bad to type with. I kept up scratchy correspondence with our friend by typing up emails on a borrowed phone, sending them to myself on WhatsApp, copying and pasting in my email app and then sending it. Whenever I wanted to email you that way, it felt inadequate somehow. I don't know if it was because I thought that I would have a lot to tell you or just that I figured it was better to just keep reading through the site since many times I emailed to ask you questions that you had already answered in something I would soon read. Whatever the case, I got a phone on Saturday to use in the short term so I can email you again.

One thing that came home to me in a very significant way since we last spoke is that learning so much eliminates the excuse of ignorance. For example, the more I thought about Satan's sin, the more I understood the fundamental nature of sin and the evil of it. And what scared me was realizing that there is a me that is not just tainted with sin but necessarily defined by it and it didn't horrify me to see it when I did. How could Satan sin? There is no record of any command that he could be tempted to violate like our first parents had. What ever made him to ever think in the direction that led to human history?

It seems to me that the very nature of sin is turning one's gaze from God. Satan had no tree to tempt him and no Satan to invent an alternative to God for him...except himself. For some reason, whenever I have thought of Satan these past few weeks, Absalom and his rebellion against his father comes to mind. As if God sought to remove every external possibility of sin for Satan, He gave him the very highest position any creature could possibly desire but as you said, arrogance is necessarily impossible to satisfy. The only thing out of Satan's reach was Deity. How can a creature be God? By the very nature of things, it is impossible for a creature to ever become uncreated. That was the truth that Satan had to reject to begin to fashion this system of madness that we call sin. In reaching for Deity, Satan rejected the truth of his creaturehood supposing that that which was made can lay claim of equal status to Him by Whose Will and for Whose Purposes it was made. God's existence is absolute and necessary. It depends on nothing but its own self. God is. There is no explanation for Him except Himself. But every other thing is a product of His Will. Nothing that exists outside of God preconceived its own existence. We are because He willed that we should be. Thus we are dependent in our very existence upon His Own desires. What He purposes us to be is our proper ambition to seek to become, no more and no less, because we exist for Him, for His pleasure. Sin is an arrogant rejection of this truth, a supposition that we can "be" without God. This sin is only possible because every moral creature is able to "look away" from God. And when we do look away, the only other place we can really look is at our own selves, our contingent, dependent, fallible, insufficient selves. And Satan was the first to do that and the champion of all who do that.

Understanding this has scared me because I now know to some significant degree the madness and deliberate God-hating nature of sin. Sin is a wish that God did not exist but that we did instead...as God. So, if we could kill God, we would. If we cannot, at least we can eliminate the memory of Him from our thoughts and hopefully make Him go away somehow. And I am a sinner. I am more grateful than ever that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for my wickedness. But (and I know that this is a very poor addendum to something so marvelous) every failure now feels unforgivable to me. Especially those of the known sort. Yet, things press so hard upon me sometimes that it feels like being strangled and I'll only breathe if I give in. What kind of person could be like that? I no longer wonder how the whole world could possibly try to lure our Lord back to the Earth to try to kill Him again or why people carry on like there is nothing to fear from God. I can see the answer clearly enough in my own self: I am God's enemy...but for the incredible sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

That I cannot be perfect in this life is now very obvious to me but that I can keep fighting sin in myself is not so obvious. The clarity with which I see this enmity in myself leaves me struggling to believe that I want to be God's family not His enemy. Peter said to our Lord, "depart from me for I am a sinner." I feel the exact same way. I know that it is not the Way of Christ to say so but it's an understatement to say that I do not like myself very much and it is only one step from there to telling God that He should not have made me and greater foolishness than that does not exist.

Clearly I cannot coexist with God in this mind. But can I really succeed at being otherwise? Can I ever look God in the face and say to Him, "I love you" and be sure that there is no lie in that statement? I feel like a phony and the past does not help very much to make me think otherwise. I am safe only if I trust Him to keep me safe and yet the Only One Who can keep me safe and Who clearly wants to is the One I also hate. If I was a piece of equipment that I could just hand over to Him and be done with it, I'd be more than happy to do just that but I am a person, capable of thought and choice. I don't trust me to stay in His Hands as long as is necessary to remake me into a true God-lover. God deserves Christ and many of the wonderful people I read on the Ichthys Church (only found that on Sunday when I read the posting for the week. Can you imagine? Been on Ichthys since the beginning of October and only just learned that there is a regular posting of emails on Sundays. So many hearts to encourage me and they are such an amazing group of people too). But me? What could He want with me? I could even be saying that to sound humble when in fact it is arrogance masked in humility. But I think that I do know myself, certainly not perfectly but enough to tell you that you and the people I've been reading on Ichthys since Sunday are, well, way better than me. You are actually working at it, pushing through the resistance, determinedly assaulting the hill. All I do is complain and whine and pretend that if things were different I would do better. Well, if that's not all, it certainly is some. And again, why did I say that? I don't like me very much. I am not a good person. And it will be a day of bliss beyond thought if our Lord ever looks at me with pleasure when He sees me on that Day.

I think I may be deliberately being melodramatic to elicit pity but to be as honest as I can be, I fear for myself. I don't think I work hard enough to justify God's gift of Christ to me. Do I listen as well as I should? I'm not sure. I have made a mess of things in the past from being too dogmatic about all sorts of things. Will I be able to learn the right balance? Or will I only ever be able to swing from self-righteousness to license and back? Will I keep myself under control and discipline my body like Paul did or will I be too weak and keep allowing myself to be beaten by desires that serve no good purpose? As long as I'm in the equation, I bother. But that must be stupid since the Holy Spirit is God and can do anything including make of me a man who pleases God.

I hope you can make sense of all that. Me, I'm just trying to pour my heart out in as coherent a fashion as I can.

On Sunday as I read those emails I cried sometimes. Today, I opened one of the links in your last email and I also cried. I envy these people their faith and understanding. If only one could get these things for the asking, but as the Scriptures say, the lazy man puts his hand out to take food from a plate and is too lazy to bring it back again to his mouth. Hard work? You once told me that I'd have to work hard to get where I was desiring to go. Maybe last year that wouldn't have troubled me at all. Today, however, it feels like just existing is heavy lifting. I read the email from the former artist who is focused on evangelizing teens and arty types and I just despaired of myself. From your conversation, he (I think he was a man) clearly was a very energetic, very driven type. And there was the man who ran into financial trouble and apparently lost his house. I am nothing beside these people. It's embarrassing to contemplate. I have been devouring everything I can on Ichthys nearly everyday unless my phone is dead. But reading, studying, thinking, even believing is not all. There is the doing. And there I am either too sluggish or not at all. Or maybe I am not defining what counts as "doing" correctly.

Could you just tell me what laziness is? I flag in energy and enthusiasm a lot (well, except when it has to do with studying, meditating on and discussing the Bible) and go about things very slowly typically. I feel like I love to be active but I am just not. For example, I've been in my village since the end of October helping out around the house and watching and aiding my dad's recovery but I keep feeling like it's wrong for me to have nothing to go out to do and earn from and I'm not even sure what to go out and do. I've decided to start working on starting the business I dropped before because of my fears that it was wrong for a Christian to do but all I can do there is make applications that may or may not lead to funding and see about raising money however I can to build my product and try to get it out to the market. There isn't plenty that that requires me to do besides wait and watch. I can't make my application until I have a good laptop to work with. That is for my plans to pursue software engineering and data science.

Someone asked you in an email if we would still have relations in the eternal state and I think you said you didn't know. I wondered how we could be if there isn't going to be marriage there. Why is there any possibility of it without marriage? Related, I noticed how John described our Lord in Revelation 1:13-16 not just as if He was a stranger to him but as if while He looked human was different somehow. The same appears to be the case in His appearances after He resurrected. He seemed to have changed somehow. In the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He was actually unrecognizable to them (although it does say that "their eyes were withheld". Besides, there is John 21:4, 12 too). I tend to think that our resurrection bodies while very human indeed and recognizable as such will be different from this one in important respects. What do you think, sir?

Another thing. We have a copy of "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" by one Thomas Bokenkotter. It posits 600 - 1300AD as the period of the "making of Christendom. The period appears to dovetail nicely with the Thyatira letter. Considering also that Thyatira is exactly in the middle, I think that is, as you say, the break between the two thousand-year days of the Church. I also wonder if the bubonic plague of 1347-1350 is not the same as or part of the discipline our Lord promised in Rev 2:22-23. What do you think about that too, sir?

I think I may have other things I have been wanting to tell you or ask you but I don't remember now and I should get to those chores I mentioned. So, I'll email you again as I remember them.

Okay, I remember one. I have finished the Bible Basics PDFs. I noticed that the last three topics are not compiled yet, so I am working through the links you put up there. How is the compilation going? Are you going to put up any other series?

Yours in the hope of our dear Lord Jesus Christ

Response #6:

Good to hear from you, my friend. You have been in my thoughts much of late, and even more so in my prayers. I am delighted to hear that you are steadfast in your faith in the Lord and in your intention to serve Him (even if you are not enamored of your current rate of progress). Let me begin by thanking you for your encouraging email and for all your good words about this ministry.

You cover a good deal of ground in this missile, so let me apologize in advance if I don't manage to cover everything sufficiently – and do of course feel free to write back.

First, I am currently working on BB 6A Peripateology (now posted at the link). I have been "at it" with this study for a very long time. For a variety of reasons, it is getting very long in the tooth. I am determined to finish it this year, but that is about all I can commit to at the moment. I do plan to finish the entire "Basics" series. When I began it, I had in mind that these would be maybe a dozen pages at most apiece. It has turned instead into a fairly detailed, multi-volume, systematic theology. I do not regret that a bit, but it has meant that these pieces have not come out with anything like the rapidity I had hoped for many years ago. There are a lot of reasons for that. For one thing, my attention had to go to "Satanic Rebellion" and "Coming Tribulation" which as you know are quite extensive and also took many years to complete. And the email ministry which started as a trickle turned into what (for me) has sometimes been a flood – blessed in every way, but almost a full-time ministry in and of itself. I have also not given up on the Peter series, and manage to get a new offering out every couple of years. I'll try to finish that once I finally get Basics done, but that is several years away at present at least. Also, to be honest, I've not put in the time I could have put in at all times – no one is perfect. Thanks for asking!

As to your conversation and relationship with our friend, I am glad of it; "iron sharpens iron" after all (Prov.27:17). He is a wonderful believer and he knows a tremendous amount about the Bible. If I were to be run over by a bus, he would be the one to take over this ministry. Please keep in mind that not every believer, not even every mature believer, sees things exactly the same way, because much in this life falls into the area of application rather than strict dogmatism. That can occasionally result in disagreement. After all, Paul and Barnabas split up (at least temporarily) over the issue of John Mark's departure (Acts 15:36-41). Who was right and who was wrong? I don't know enough about the facts to say for certain – even though my initial presumption is to think that Paul should have given John Mark a second chance (he eventually did so: Col.4:10; 2Tim.4:11; Philem.1:24). What we can say is that both of these men were marvelous believers and will rank in the top echelons on the day of reward, Paul in the very first rank. It seems to me, with the benefit of hindsight and not being under the pressure of the circumstances, that this verse should have applied:

Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3 NASB

Then there is also this:

Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints), that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.
1st Corinthians 16:15-16 NASB

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
1st Thessalonians 5:12-13 NIV

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Hebrews 13:17 NKJV

If I were just coming around to the truth and there were no Ichthys, our friend would be my pastor-teacher.

We all have different ways of expressing ourselves. And in terms of the three of us, we are all ardent believers in Jesus Christ who want the truth, so there should be peace among us at all times. It's a question of the truth. Anyone can be wrong or misguided – Paul was not perfect (example above) and certainly I am not. How do we get the truth? That is the only question worth asking. I am following a method which was handed down to me by my mentor and our friend is doing the same. Diligence in preparation counts for something – quite something – and should be respected, because that is the only way to get what we are after, namely, a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and a more effective witness of the life and ministry to others fueled by the truth, because only the truth can be of any help to us in this quest to which we have been called by the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are men of three different cultures, three different continents, but there is only "one faith" and we all seek to serve it by obedience to the truth. We all need to be encouraged; even me. We all need to be corrected; even me (for sure). There is a time for everything, so we should accept the encouragement offered by those we respect, whether we think we need it or not, and also not spurn their correction – not at least without giving it humble, due consideration to see if "the shoe fits" even a little. And if we feel those who have been in this race longer than we have are "off" on this point or that point, well, we need to follow our consciences, but we also need to strive to "preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

As to your finding of fault with yourself, this is something all truly serious believers go through. Here is what I would tell you about all that:

1) Yesterday is over. Whatever mistakes you made yesterday are already a matter of history which cannot be changed, so there is no sense in trying to change what cannot be changed. The only thing that fretting about yesterday will do is foul up your "today", because instead of giving your heart and energy joyously to the tasks the Lord has for you today, you will be emotionally off with your focus on yesterday. As a result, tomorrow you will be able to fret about not doing what you should have done today . . . and the vicious circle continues. If a boxer worries about the technical quality of his last punch or parry, the next thing he knows he'll be flat on his back for failure to concentrate on the one about to come.

2) Today is only one day. I realize that the prospect of preparing effectively for ministry is a daunting one, especially for those who want to do a solid job of it. But consider. Mt. Everest cannot be climbed in a day either, but a few hardy souls do manage it from time to time. And as difficult as it may be to prepare properly for ministry, it is not as physically demanding as the example. What the two have in common is that they have to be done one step at a time and cannot be done in a giant leap. So we are only defeating ourselves if on a journey of a thousand miles we look at the immensity of the task as a whole. Better to enjoy the walk, one day at a time. And there is a great deal of joy in this process, and a great deal of reward as well. Those are the "things above" we should focus on instead of the problems involved here below (Col.3:1-2).

3) The Lord is your Judge, not you – or I or anyone else. He does love you, far more than at present you have any idea. He is for you in this process, and in all your good intentions and applications with the truth. He brought you to this spiritual point in your life and He is feeding you with the truth and guiding you with His Spirit. That is all to the good, the ultimate eternal good, and you have a right – perhaps even an obligation – to be joyous about it.

4) You're not perfect? Welcome to the human race. You've been less than perfect in your utilization of the resources God has provided? That charge resonates with us all. I think Paul may be the only exception in the history of the world (and only after he finally "got with the program" through divine intervention), and of course we know he was human and not entirely perfect either, even if better than everyone else. Paul "worked harder" for the Lord than anyone else before or since – through God's grace alone (1Cor.15:10). That is the key and the critical point. Nothing is impossible for the Lord and there is nothing He in His grace and good favor cannot provide and empower. It is He who does it – not you or I. If you have not yet achieved perfection, please do not hold your breath until you do. I know of no Christian – and I know some very good ones – who could not say "Amen!" to your litany of self-criticism. But that means nothing because how we feel about ourselves means nothing – unless we let ourselves feel so bad that we impede our own progress or we let ourselves feel so good we stop doing what we should. We are running a race. Now is not the time to sit under a tree and contemplate the failure of our mechanics of racing. We are fighting a fight. Now is not the time to leave the battle line and worry about the deficiency of our swordplay. We have to do the best we can now and trust the Lord to help us to improve "on the job" – because the job never stops until we see the Lord face to face.

5) So my advice to you: less introspection; more application. Keep running, and don't let anything make you stumble. If you get tripped up, get up, confess, and start running again. Run this leg of the race, not the one behind you or the one you think is coming up, because no one really knows what is around the next bend.

You have a great deal of potential for serving the Lord and a unique opportunity. I don't even know of anyone else and haven't ever even heard of anyone else from your area who is truly striving to learn and live the truth. So please do be encouraged, and please do bear with constructive criticism. In time you will be a seasoned runner yourself and can improve on the coaching technique you are receiving. This is an exciting time no matter that it is a difficult time. There are exciting times ahead, though they will be challenging to get through. There is no limit on what you can accomplish for the Lord – except the limit you put on yourself. Please don't limit yourself. Please be pleased to accept His matchless grace with a smile and resolve to do better one day at a time "as long as it is called 'Today' " (Heb.3:13). That is all any of us can do, and God helping us it will be bountifully enough.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Teacher

How are you today?

Thank you so very much for your words of encouragement. I am very grateful for them and for your prayers, sir.

1. I think you answered the most pressing things in my email. What may be left I think is being resolved currently. I may ask you again about it - I think that I will - but for now it doesn't appear to be a concern really. Other things in the email were just recounting how I confirmed things you taught me. For example, whether we should study and attempt to work out the timeline of events leading to the Last Day. My parents had said that we ought not to when I tried to discuss it with them quoting you and attempting to explain what the Scriptures said about it too. So I emailed you then asking whether 1 Thessalonians 5:1 was really saying that Paul had already taught the Thessalonian believers about the timeline. A while later, I came across another place in his second letter to them which to my mind said it more explicitly. 2 Thessalonians 2:5 suggests to me that Paul had taught them the timeline of events as best he could and thus set an example for other teachers.

2. I am more than grateful for your prayers, sir. I rely upon them greatly. And I know that the Lord was the One Who laid it on your heart to pray more intensely for me. It was spiritually difficult for me at that time. I think that I have begun to recover but I'm not wholly out of the woods yet. Thank you again, sir.

3. I listened to you regarding our friend. I believe that you are right. I was troubled because at first it seemed to me like I had to choose between what you said and what he said. But I did as you said and continued to discuss the matter with him and I think I began to appreciate the agreement between you two. We are working out the issue. He also sent me some books to help me get started on the languages. They were received for me in Lagos yesterday. I expect to take possession of them next month. I am very fortunate for a big brother like him. And extremely grateful too.

4. I honestly thank God for the volume that you have written. Their exhaustiveness and comprehension of doctrines and questions is so satisfying. I keep recommending them to others for just that reason. I know that it costs you quite a bit to prepare them but they are a tremendous gift for people like me. I pray that your reward in heaven be multiplied and remain secure as a result of them. I will look forward to the finished volumes that you are working on.

I also received some good news on the business front [details omitted].

Yours in our precious Lord Jesus Christ

Response #7:

Always a very great pleasure to hear from you, my friend! And especially do I appreciate this very encouraging email from you.

It's not uncommon for friends and family to fail to share the enthusiasm for the truth we think should be natural – even if they are Christians. It's also not at all uncommon for Christians nowadays to be negatively disposed to digging in too deeply into eschatology, and the objection you report is one often voiced, with Acts 1:7 being quoted forbiddingly – but that is to misunderstand the verse entirely (here "know" is the aorist of gignosko and it means "decide"; see the link: "Not for you to know?"). Actually, this sentiment just masks 1) a general disinterest in the truth and 2) a particular disinclination to even think about having to deal with the Tribulation personally. Not the best mindset for those "upon whom the end of the ages has come". But they are our friends and families and we love them nonetheless and pray that they will come to a thirst for the truth eventually (sometimes it DOES happen).

I am particularly heartened by your putting together of the information in the two Thessalonian epistles, and it shows me that you do possess the natural exegetical skill which is part of the gift of pastor-teacher. So I do want to encourage you to continue with your studies and preparation. Doing that while also pursing a livelihood and all of the other things which life demands is certainly not easy – but it can be done as you yourself have shown so far.

Congratulations on the preliminary good news too! However it works out, I know that the Lord will open a door for you to earn a living. Waiting on Him and events is always a test of faith but always worthwhile since He is absolutely faithful.

Things here are about the same. Same job troubles (manageable). Same health troubles (manageable). But God is good! He keeps me afloat through all this and gives me plenty to warm my heart even when things are not perfect (things are never perfect in this life) – like you. YOU are an encouragement to me.

Your friend in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Teacher

I am happy to hear that you are dealing with manageable issues. I will continue to pray that through all of the issues of your life, manageable or not, our Lord will always sharpen you and make you ever more productive until the Day of His Glory.

You actually already gave me very exhaustive responses regarding the issue of whether we should study the times and seasons or not. It was very rewarding to ask you about it then when my parents were "spooked" by it. Today, as I thought of it, I even remembered that Peter also offered the example of the prophets of old as diligent inquirers of God's times and seasons. That was in 1 Peter 1:10. Everywhere I look now, it just seems unavoidable to see these things. Ever since I found you, it has been that way. I started working through the prophets again last week and it astounds me how clear their writing is to me now. In the past when I tried to read through the Bible, the prophets were there worst part of the Bible to read followed by much of Numbers and Leviticus and quite a bit of the Psalms. I couldn't make sense of them before. And I found that all I could do with them besides asking questions was twist them to my own ends. For example, the end of Habakkuk (I just finished working through that one today in NIV84) is often used to encourage believers to hang in there when things are materially difficult for them because God would come through for them.

While that is true, when divorced from the rest of Habakkuk, which remains opaque until the believer learns eschatology well, that part of Habakkuk soon becomes a stumbling block if material circumstances never change for the "better". What Habakkuk prophesied there was about the state of mind believers who go through the Great Tribulation must maintain. That means that the proper expectation for which that passage in 3:17-18 works is that the Lord will triumph in the end over the inveterate evil that has been revealed in the world. This is in spite of what our lot may be, whether it is martyrdom or resurrection. As a matter of fact, what Habakkuk sees of the evil of the coming times terrifies him as he says in v. 16 but the righteous man who is living by faith at the time will wait patiently to see the mighty deliverance that our God and Savior Jesus Christ will work when everything reaches human impossibility.

Understanding this means having the right expectation so that one is not offended at God for doing what He Himself has willed and communicated to us. But when we don't understand parts of the Bible like this one, we are apt to completely misuse it and expose ourselves to error and deception. But through the mercies of God, I was given you to help me appreciate these things properly.

I have some questions from my studies so far but I think I'll send them in another email. They may require some work.

Thank you very very much, sir, for your encouraging words. They are always a shot in the arm for me.

I wish I could find some way to persuade other believers to care. Here in the house I wish I could be less angered by what seems to me to be a stubborn hold on erroneous theology for any number of reasons. It's hard for me to listen to things that seem obviously false to me and then when I use any opportunity presented to me to try to correct it, it's a head-on collision for everyone.

There's a WhatsApp group of believers that I am on. That's another place that I wish I could do something to help. I keep answering questions asked on the group with as exhaustive an understanding of the Truth as I have but recently I've noticed that they don't even bother to acknowledge anything I say there. I've wanted to leave but I stay. I'm not sure why. Do I hope that things change? I'm not sure. They haven't tried to kick me out, just ignore me. But I keep wondering if they aren't just hoping that I'll get frustrated enough to just leave them alone. I wish I could just, I don't know, get through to them somehow.

I'm just amazed how these days I find that the need to be accepted and liked by others has waned. I used to get quite depressed if no one talked to me on the WhatsApp group so I tried to accommodate their positions on things. Now I post as respectfully as I can but unapologetically too. When someone asked what happens to believers when they die a few days ago, I found no serious desire to try to soften my response with a "this is what I think but I may be wrong" attitude. I had studied you on that and gone back to comb through the Scriptures over it so I was sure that departed believers are in an interim body with our Lord in the third Heaven. I knew too that before Christ they were in paradise below the Earth. I also knew that we know almost nothing about that interim body because very little is said about it in the Bible (Samuel is described as an old man in 1 Samuel 28:14, so this body may show the believer at the age at which they left the earth - but leaving Paradise for the third Heaven may have changed this? - and Elijah and Moses are described as glorious in appearance in Luke 9:30-31 so they must be glorious too but that's all we have). So I told him all that offering no doubt or concern that I could be wrong. Apart from one response to ask for practically a repeat of my response I got nothing further. I wished that he responded. I wanted to have a real conversation about it if possible but he never said anything again. While I was disappointed and frustrated, I felt no inclination to try to curry his favor by doing anything more or less than I did.

I wish I could talk more meaningfully with people who believe the Bible over everything. But for now, I have you and our friend and that is a lot by itself. I often take time to digest whatever you say before being able to make any response. Still, it would be nice to have that kind of relationship with people like my family and the believers on that WhatsApp group.

I can ask one question right away.

The witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28 said that she saw a spirit coming up out of the earth. That's in NIV84. The footnote has "spirits" or "gods" as alternative translations. What does that say about the interim body? Should we consider "spirits" and "gods" synonyms here? What does the Hebrew say?

Yours in the patience of our precious Lord Jesus Christ

Response #8:

It's very good to hear from you as always, my friend, and I am very pleased to hear that you are making good spiritual progress – as this is obvious from your writing as well. Your analysis of Habakkuk is just the sort of thing that would be done in presenting this material in teaching or a in response to someone with questions about the truth. Good for you! Thanks so much for your prayers; I'm keeping you and your family in mine every day.

Your experiences with your family and with the cyber group are typical of things we all go through in preparing to minister the Word of God. God is preparing you, no doubt. Part of learning how to engage with others for whom the truth may not be primary – or who may be interested but largely ignorant of it or else in the grip of false teaching – is learning how to deal with one's own emotions. A good teacher has to be patient – even if this is not in his natural makeup. Moses and Elijah both had tempers (Samuel too, since we will talk about him below), but for the most part they were able to control them so as to be more effective servants of the Lord.

One has to remember what the Lord said to Samuel when he was also upset about the hardness of heart of the people he had striven so hard to teach and was praying so hard for: "it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king" (1Sam.8:7 NIV). In other words, it's not about us at all: it's all about the Lord. People who accept the truth are accepting the Holy Spirit's witness; people who resist, reject or ignore the truth are rejecting Him, not us. Naturally, we are human beings and we have emotions, and it is impossible not to have an emotional investment in the people one is trying to help and trying to reach. But we teachers have to learn not to be swept up in these emotions (positive ones too as well as negative ones). Our job is to learn, believe and teach the truth, and we are responsible to the Lord for doing that, whether we feel good or bad, whether the response seems positive or negative. As Paul said "If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me" (1Cor.9:17 NIV).

And here is another point on that. Just because people seem positive does not mean that they are really allowing the truth into their hearts; and just because they seem negative does not mean that the truth has not penetrated for good if not immediately then eventually. As our Lord said:

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”
Matthew 21:28-31 NASB

Analogously, we don't know what effect the planting of the seed of truth will have, but we can be sure that God is using our good efforts for His kingdom and for the fulfillment of His plan – wherein even the rejection of truth is something that is only possible if it is first presented.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV

As to your question on Samuel, first, here are some links:

Was it really Samuel?

Samuel, Saul and the witch

Samuel's appearance at Endor

Did the witch of Endor really conjure up the spirit of Samuel?

As to "gods", yes, the word here is 'elohiym which is the standard word for God. However, we have to remember that 1st Samuel is a historical book (as is the book of Acts). Historical books present the truth about what people actually did and said. That doesn't mean that what they did and said was always godly or that we can draw theological conclusions from their statements, especially of those who were not godly.

The "witch" describes her impressions of what she sees when prompted to do so by Saul. She has never seen anything like this before, and just as you remember that Moses and Elijah seem "glorious" on the mount of transfiguration, so also this figure coming up from paradise must have seemed "glorious" to her – like "a god". But it was not "a god" (there are no gods) nor was it the one and only God – it was Samuel.

Even righteous believers can make similar mistakes: compare John the apostle feeling the need to attempt to worship a glorious angel on two occasions in Revelation and being warned against doing so (Rev.19:10; 22:8); how much more a demon possessed / demon inspired unbeliever when confronted with a glorious apparition?

There is also the fact this word 'el in Hebrew in the singular means "mighty one" and therefore the plural, 'elohiym, can mean "mighty ones"; this is the word used in the OT for "gods" and also – same word – for God mostly as a plural of majesty when we are talking about Him, the plural intensifying the idea of mightiness to an infinite degree. So while the word "gods" can admit of only one thing in English, we have to allow for the Hebrew (and thus this woman) having a category which runs the gamut from super human beings to God Himself, with gods, demigods and spirits in between. That accounts for the liberty translators take with this passage.

Do feel free to write me any time, my friend – and keep up the good work for Jesus Christ.

In our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #9:

Dear Teacher

How are you today, sir?

Thank you very much, sir, for your kind and encouraging words. I really hope that I'm doing the right thing. I wanted to use your Bible reading method to restart daily Bible reading but this approach of going back through parts of the Bible that were once difficult to read for me to properly familiarize myself with them holds my interest more right now. I want to finish going through them and then use the system you suggested in one of the email postings you published to continue daily Bible reading. It seems to me a fine approach so I want to try it.

Thank you very much, sir, for exhorting me about the emotions. I will do my best to walk according to it. I am relying on God's mercy to help me adapt as He trains me. These days, being like Moses/Elijah/Samuel/Paul feels like an unwarranted ambition. I feel way better and far less mentally tormented about life than I did just a few months ago and I actually understand some things from the Bible now but I know better now than ever just who I am: a sinner without a chance unless God helps me. It is a very joyful thing that God wants to and goes to incredible lengths to help me but it is also a painful and fearful consideration that being a sinner I often don't want or use His help. It will be quite a day when I stand before Him and He rejoices in me.

Those links were very informative, sir. I was reminded when I wondered about that part of the Bible. I honestly don't remember when I became certain or persuaded that that was really Samuel but I haven't doubted that it was in a long time.

Thanks also for explaining that part about "elohiym" to me. I was wondering whether his appearance had made him look like a spirit to her so that she said that she saw "a spirit" or "spirits" coming out of the earth. I thought that might give us a clue as to what the interim body may look like. If the word she used expresses instead that Samuel looked like a god, then perhaps what we learn from that place about his appearance is that he looked glorious just like Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration.

I think it is interesting too that he looked like an old man to her as well and that he was wearing a robe. Do you have any thoughts on those in general?

In our precious Lord Jesus Christ

Response #9:

As I say in "Read your Bible", the truly important thing is that you do it. Since you have found a way to "do it" that is engaging and enjoyable, that is all to the good.

We are all imperfect, my friend. We do need to accept that . . . and strive to do better day by day. The really important thing is not to let past failure color present action. This is a very common spiritual mistake. The Lord is the One who disciplines us when we need it and in the way we need it and to the degree we need it. He doesn't need our help. Our job is to be joyful in Him, at peace in Him, and make the most of each day for Him as long as it is "called 'today' ".

Your question was a good one and a penetrating one. Also, your observation about the woman's reaction saying something about the appearance of the interim state is likewise very perceptive and helpful. Even if he was identifiable as an old man, it seems that he must have had an impressive appearance.

What we "look like" to others in this interim state is perhaps not so important. After all, it isn't going to last much longer for those currently in that state, and for some believers alive today the possibility exists of never being in that state – that is, for the group that survives the Tribulation and experiencing the resurrection while still alive at our Lord's return. That is a blessed hope indeed (Tit.2:13).

Thanks again for your prayers.

Feel free to write me any time, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Dear Teacher

Your email, Response #10 in https://www.ichthys.com/mail-Battlefield-Within.htm was perhaps the most direct I have seen and I found it extremely helpful. I know it is not usual for you to be so frank so that young, struggling believers are not discouraged but I loved it and I have always wished to get treatment like that from you when you find it necessary. I think it is because until I find my own feet in these things, I trust you completely. What I don't say in my emails I thought early on to be things you don't think are necessary to share with one another.

I was having a very difficult time for a while. I'm not sure what triggered it. Perhaps I was offended at the Lord that despite how much I'd committed myself to seeking and following Him, I only learned that I was so far behind. Or maybe that was just the excuse I preferred for letting myself go.

Working with our friend has helped tremendously. As I thought and prayed about it, I realized that it was not that the Lord held me back from growing until I could have a teacher so that I would not end up arrogant but that he preserved me from incredible error by restraining me in many ways from following the wrong paths and wrong teachings until I was willing to submit to a teacher. It seems to me now that the time lost was all because I was never willing to learn from another believer. I persuaded myself that I was but I know from quite a few bits of evidence that I was not in truth.

So, instead of getting mad at God, I should be tremendously grateful to Him that I eventually did get off to a start after all. And I am now.

I realize that I will always be attacked with the past and always in a point of weakness to alienate myself from the Lord and give up my progress but having you, our friend, and the Ichthys church at least right now counts for plenty. Not least, that response that just taught me about being hard on myself without respect for any self-pity is very useful.

All your teachings have felt like something I almost figured out or learned or something but didn't. Now I know that it is because I was at my limit as a believer without a teacher. I knew what the Scriptures said but I was never going to know what they meant without a teacher. But by God's great mercy, I was ready, very ready for one when I found Ichthys. And after the last experience with our friend I think that the most important obstacle to further growth may have been removed or, at least, has been identified so that I know what I am going to have to arm up against as much as possible: my arrogance.

I feel that there is so much to do. I have read all the series currently on Ichthys and I am now making my way through the emails. And I am working through the prophets as I already told you. But what else must I do? Our friend sent me some books to get started on the languages but because they're in Lagos and I'm in the village several miles away I probably won't get them for a few weeks. What else can I do in the meantime? I want to put all the time I have to work especially now that I have nothing else to do.

How are you, sir?

Yours in our precious Lord Jesus Christ

Response #10:

Thanks you so much for this encouraging email, my friend. I rejoice in you!

So much you have said rings true – for all of us.

You mention Paul. Consider: the Lord did not appear to him when he was twelve. We don't know how old he was but he was a grown man at least and had spent a lot of time as we all seem to need to do "spinning his wheels". But the Lord appeared to him at just the proper time. There is so much we don't know, even about ourselves. But the Lord knows all. And knows just the right time and just the right way to bring the truth . . . to those who are going to be willing to accept it. And what a small number that is! So please do not allow yourself to be discouraged that it "took a long time" and "a lot of spinning" to get to this point. Rejoice instead that you are now "in the fight" and have an opportunity to gain great reward for fighting a good fight – like one of David's "mighty men" whose names are emblazoned in scripture forever for their deeds of martial valor; but deeds of spiritual valor are just as important – and in my humble opinion even more important. The heavenly hosts are watching your progress and rejoicing in it. There is nothing ahead but victory and happiness beyond understanding in the presence of the Lord – even though we may have to pass through "fire and water" in the meantime. It is all worthy it, whatever we have to suffer. Just as the wait was worth it – just ask Abraham who waited a very long time for Isaac and then was tested with the loss of him after that. We are tested and we do have to learn to persevere in that testing, but what is on the other side will compensate us far more than at present we have even the slightest idea. We have to trust the Lord that this is so, and make pleasing Him our first and last and only true priority. That is not so easy for any of us, but God helping us we will do it.

As to how best to use your time, there is value in re-reading the major studies at Ichthys. I know I have done so. I learn just like everyone else – from the Spirit working with me in the scriptures. And to that point, there is no limit to the amount of time and effort which is worthwhile when it comes to the scriptures. Re-reading the NT epistles is of particular value (though that is true too of every portion of the Bible). It is a blessing that you have time to devote to what is really important, my friend. Take advantage!

It is clear to me that just as Paul had a lot of knowledge which was flipped into "full knowledge" by the Lord through His Spirit when Paul was at the point of being willing to accept it, so too nothing you did previously in seeking however much you find fault with the method now was a waste – the Lord is using all that too and will continue to do so both in positive ways (i.e., the resources in your heart which can now be put to good use) and in combating negative things too (i.e., in giving you a deep perspective on flawed approaches – we all need that too).

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Matthew 13:52 KJV

So be encouraged, my friend! I'm very happy to have you as a brother in Christ, and I very much look forward to seeing how the Lord puts you to work in what I expect will be the near future. After all, the time is short.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

I was having a conversation with a fellow believer and I said that the devil has already lost the battle to God when Christ died on the Cross. Then I told him that the enemy is a loser, and his emissaries are also losers. He got upset and told me that I am slandering celestial beings (Jude 1:8). I told him that I was not "slandering" anyone, but what I said is a FACT. What does the word "slander" in the Greek mean? I tried to find it but there were several meanings, and several Greek words when I searched the NT concordance.

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #11:

You are absolutely right as usual, my friend. The passage this person is citing (Jude 1:8) is referring to the practice in Jude's day of Gnostics engaging in "spiritual warfare" where they would slander, oppose, and combat evil forces – though not in reality. In reality no one has that power. In reality getting involved in such activities merely opens a person up to demon influence or worse – which is why Jude warns against it. The following passage says just what you said:

. . . having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Colossians 2:14-15 NKJV

Some links:

Adoration of angels (in SR 4)

Combating Gnosticism

Blaspheming "majesties" and the Gnostics

Visions of Angels and the Gnostics

"Fullness" and Gnostics

doxai and Gnostics

John vs. Gnostics

Jude on Gnostics

Gnostic milieu in NT times

"Elemental Spiritual Forces"

Peter and Jude vs. Gnostics

Gnostic references in the NT

Modern Gnostics

Astrology and Gnosticism

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

First and foremost, thank you for your ministry!

Where to start...

I've been experiencing a very difficult period in my life for about 6 months which extends to my job, relationships, health and finances. Everything is deeply connected therefore difficult to know what decisions are in God's plan. [many details omitted]

My health is suffering. For about 3 to 4 months I couldn't sleep. I had constant intrusive thoughts (SATAN I'm sure) which lingered into the night. I finally saw my doctor. He prescribed medicine and recommended I see a therapist. I'm not one to medicate a problem and therefore never used the prescriptions. I did see a therapist twice but that didn't help. I knew my strength would come from GOD so I spent as much time in the bible, in prayer and seeking wise counsel.

I believe I went into a shock state of mind because of what I shared and then the dominos began to fall. I've questioned why. I've asked myself if perhaps it's God's will. If so, and God is leading me in another direction, why hasn't another door opened. Why would God allow my family to suffer. Why is my relationship strained to the point? What is God's will for my life. How can I move this forward so that we can return to a somewhat normal life. I feel stuck without movement in any direction. I have been visiting my relative on the weekends and attending church. That seems to help give me purpose. I'm also feeling like God may be calling me into the ministry but I can't for the life of me see where I might fit that scenario.

I have always taught FAITH to those in need but having trouble walking the walk myself. I have times when Satan attempts to lie and pull me down but I do manage to resist even though his lies can appear believable. I choose to believe GOD's word and promises and will not be lead astray. I am a child of GOD and know that GOD loves me. I know he has a plan for me. A plan to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.

Why then am I in doubt that my prayers will be answered. Why do I allow fear to creep in rather than holding on to faith. I have gone through times in my life that I can look back on and know that GOD was in control during those difficult time. I don't ever recall by struggles being this debilitating.

I've jumped around, back and forth, in this message and apologize if you find it hard to follow.

I need peace. I need to know God's will for my life. We need joy and hope in our lives again soon. Where do I find the answers. We can't continue with this brokenness in our lives.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and would appreciate your thoughts.

May the Lord continue to Bless your ministry!

In Jesus Christ ,

Response #12:

Good to make your acquaintance – though I'm sorry to hear of your troubles.

The first thing to say is that I can definitely relate – both personally and also in terms of many good Christians who are struggling to survive at this difficult time. From where I sit, the "good times" that are being ballyhooed in the media seem to have passed most of us by. For many of my friends and acquaintances through this ministry, times have rarely been tougher. That doesn't make you feel any better, I'm sure, but I hope that it does help to reassure you of what you already know in your heart, namely, 1) you're not "crazy" about the fact of the pressure intensifying, and 2) you're not alone as a unique target of the evil one. Not to say that he is not involved. If you have been making spiritual progress of late and if you have contemplating putting what is really important in your life into first place, then that is the way that a Christian ends up on the devil's "radar". But we have to do what is right even when it brings flak. There's nothing more important than doing what is right – that is what pleases Christ and wins eternal reward. And I can tell you that even though there may be heartache and trouble, the knowledge that God is with you in the trouble and that you are doing your best to walk with Him in spite of it is much more powerful than any trouble that this world can bring. That has to be understood, believed, and fully appropriated by faith, but it is the truth.

I also think it's very true that when we are responsible for others, we feel the pressure much more viscerally. But we have to be careful about that "trick" Satan uses. Children, for example, are much more resilient than we imagine. They can be happy in a refugee camp – as long as they've got us. We are apt to let ourselves feel unhappy if we can't afford to give them a special birthday present. In the end, children who have to take on more responsibilities and deal with more hardships are better off in the end – if there is love in their family life.

As far are marriages and spouses are concerned, marriage is always difficult and always results in "personal tribulation" (1Cor.7:28); that was true right after the expulsion from Eden, it was true in the first century when Paul wrote the words in the citation, and it's certainly true today. What believers often fail to see at the time is that pressure and trouble is sometimes God's way of fixing things. There is a special bonding that often takes place when couples face severe crises "back to back", and I encourage you to try and embrace the storm you are facing in that spirit. However, it is also true that we cannot make decisions for the other party. I am no prophet and there are so many things I do not know about your situation, but I would be surprised if part of this development is not the Lord using it to push things in a direction that will be, in the end, better for you, whether through a revitalization of your marriage or at least a settling out of issues that have been festering.

This is true of your personal spiritual life as well. One of the reasons that the Lord is in the process of allowing such pressures on all manner of believers today is to "prepare a people" for what is soon to be coming upon the world. As a reader of this ministry, you no doubt are aware of the teaching that we are living in a very lukewarm era of the Church, that of Laodicea, an era which dead-ends into the Tribulation not many years hence. It would only be fair of the Lord – and He is fair – to do everything workable to help us to get ready for what is just over the horizon. Getting serious about the truth, starting to live it with all of our hearts, and helping others to do the same is what this life, the Christian life, is really all about. The other things, important to us in the here and now, are really not important at all in the end. We all know that. We say we do, at any rate. But living it is often another matter. If you are being allowed to be pressured, it is unquestionably because you can take it; it is because it is going to bring you closer to Jesus Christ, not move you farther away. That other sort of people are (from what I can see) being allowed to "live a good life" . . . right up until the real trouble begins.

Whatever trouble we're having with our houses and homes, they are temporary: we have an eternal one earmarked for us in the New Jerusalem. Whatever trouble we're having with our bodies and health, they don't last forever: but we have a perfect body "eternal in the heavens" which has no problems and which we shall enjoy for all eternity. Whatever problems we're having with friends and family, in the New Jerusalem we will know only joy with our brothers and sisters, fellow members of the Body of Christ, the One we love and will rejoice with from the ages to the ages. Whatever financial issues and pressures we are feeling, we understand that this is just so much Mammon, and that our real treasury is in heaven, a store of wonders the least of which surpasses all the rotting wealth of this entire rotten world. Everything to come is blessed beyond present understanding. And the more we focus now on what is important from Christ's point of view – the only one that really matters – the more blessed that eternity will be . . . for those of us who put our eternal reward in first place and everything else in distant second.

Jesus knows your troubles. Everything that happens in this life, down to every leaf that falls and every subatomic particle that swerves at the farthest end of the universe, has always been known by Him. In fact, nothing could happen unless it was already ordained to happen by God before the Father ever gave our Lord the command to make the world. We do have free will. In fact that is why we are here – and it is why we are given "problems", namely, to demonstrate to ourselves and to others how strong (or weak) our faith really is, and what it is that is really most important to us when all is said and done.

No one likes pain or trouble or suffering or pressure. Why would they? But believers can have joy in the midst of tears, because we can rest in the peace of Christ, in the absolute knowledge – through faith – that He is truly working absolutely everything out for the good, the genuine good, for those who love Him.

You are being tested. That is certain. The Lord could snap His fingers this instant a cause a cornucopia of blessing to fall down upon you from heaven. That would be no problem for Him. That would cost Him nothing. What cost Him was the cross. What cost Him was dying for every single sin. And dying for the least sin of all was worth more than the entire world from the beginning of history to the end. So why doesn't He fix your problems right now this minute as He surely could? The answer is all about testing and building your faith. Abraham had to wait a very long time for the promised heir. And once Isaac arrived, he was told to sacrifice him. Not many of us could have waited like Abraham did, or would have. Not many of us could have gone out to sacrifice what Abraham did, or would have. Abraham's trust in the Lord was beyond impressive and unique. The Lord doesn't give us tests that require us waiting as long as Abraham had to wait – only longer than we wish to wait or think we can wait (that is the test); the Lord doesn't ask us to give up things we cannot do without – only things we do not wish to give up and think we cannot do without (that is the test). But for all who do TRUST Him that He is working it out, trust Him no matter what is happening, we will NEVER regret that faith – and will rejoice in it for all eternity.

The people of Israel complained time and time again when there was no water, when there was no food, when things didn't go the way they wanted at the time when they wanted. When they were tested, they "tested God" back by griping and complaining – and did so "ten times". Yet He delivered them even so, but they left their names to us as an example of what NOT to do (1Cor.10:1ff.).

We have to understand that we can't stop the test. We can't avoid the test. We can't get out of the test. But God is going to deliver us through the test regardless of how we behave. In that case, it makes all the sense in the world – all the spiritual sense – to trust Him. If we do trust Him to get us through – because we know for a fact that He will – then we will not only see and experience His power in a very special way, but we will cross the line from spiritual neophyte to spiritual veteran and win in the process the crown of life (see the link). And the angels will sing.

You are clearly acting in an honorable way. You are clearly NOT being "disciplined" for anything wrong. You are clearly suffering for Jesus Christ, being tested to refine your faith, not to destroy it (1Pet.1:3-9). Be pleased to trust Him. Be pleased to take pains to be joyful, even through your tears, to hold fast to the peace that passes all understanding, and to give a good example in your hour of trial – for many are watching your witness, men and angels both. Victory is certain. The only question is, how we comport ourselves until that inevitable triumph.

For the director of music. A psalm of David.
May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
Now this I know: The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
LORD, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20:1-9 NIV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Thank you for your heartfelt response.

I awoke restless around 2 AM and reached for my phone to check messages. I found your response and began reading. I read again and then a third time absorbing as much of your message as I could at that time and processing a plan of action. I can't say I made any real progress.

I do feel I'm being tested as well. You're right, we want, and feel we need our prayers answered right now. I do feel desperation in my current situation. I also feel I've lost all confidence in myself and my abilities to battle the troubles I'm facing. I wake each day hoping that today will be the day something positive happens that might begin to move me forward in the path of God's Plan. I know I must "be still" and wait but I also feel that I must be proactive which is where I'm having difficulty. How can I be proactive and not know where God is leading me, and how will I know God's plan?

In Jesus Christ,

Response #13:

First, I have placed a prayer request for you and your family on the site, and I will try to keep you in my prayers as well.

As to plans of action, the important thing, first and foremost, for all of us is to continue growing spiritually regardless of circumstances; spiritual growth is always the key (see the link which will lead to more). Add to that striving to walk ever closer to the Lord as we learn the truth and commit to believing it. And finally, the Lord will lead us into the right ministry He has for us – and He has one for every believer – when we are prepared to do it.

So I would encourage you to keep reading your Bible daily, keep up your daily prayer routine, and keep learning the truth by engaging with a good teaching ministry on a daily basis. I'm sure Ichthys is such a place, but I also recommend, for example, Curt Omo's "Bible Academy" (at the link).

If you do continue on the good path, the Lord will most certainly guide you forward. This also requires patience and faith. I know He has plans for you.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Do please feel free to write me back any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Can Satan Confess in the Last Days, that He is the SON of the ALL Mighty GOD as a method of deception? Any scriptures to support your answer?

Response #14:

I've never heard of anything like that before.

However, antichrist, the beast, the devil's son, will claim to be Christ. That is the origin of the name: anti = against and also substitute for (see the link: "CT 3B: Antichrist and his kingdom").

In Jesus Christ the one true Son of God.

Bob L.

Question #15:

Will Satan be able to Confess that GOD came in the flesh as the Messiah?

Response #15:

Since he saw it with his own eyes, even tempting our Lord to turn stones into bread et al., it is inconceivable that he doesn't know the truth (cf. Jas.2:19); he is just unwilling to do anything with that information except to oppose the truth with all his might. This is analogous to unbelievers, many of whom have heard the gospel – so the Spirit made it clear to them – but who were unwilling to accept it.

Question #16:

Let the craziness increase; a sense of humor is always useful to help one cope with the nuts


Sign of the Apocalypse? Trumpet-Like Sounds Recorded on Video in Hawaii. A video recording of eerie trumpet sounds from Hawaii has gone viral on YouTube, leading some to speculate that the End Times and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are imminent. Others suggested UFOs, scientific explanations, and even Godzilla. (Watch the video below.)

"Jesus Christ is coming soon. I say it is a trumpet," a YouTube user named "Believer John Seventeen" posted. Another user agreed. "Christ shall return. If you know Him, then you know His warnings — every eye shall hear and every ear shall hear," posted "Roger Dat." "Be not afraid for you are saved by faith in Jesus. Repent and turn from wickedness. The price was paid at Calvary and as He was risen, so shall His disciples be."

The video itself has no clear religious meaning, however.

Snippins News posted the video, reporting, "Not the first time to be heard, but it's been heard in multiple places all strangely at the same time."

Response #16:

Leave to evangelicaldom-mies to put more faith in a YouTube post than in the Bible.

Hope you're well!

Question #17:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In one of your studies on Noah and angels you make the following comment:

"Now from everything we know about the angels from scripture, possession on their part of the bodies of animals and of humans is contrary to the will and the law of God in every way. "

Here is what Luke 8:30-32 says:

32Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. 33And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

Question: Why did Jesus give the demons permission to enter the swine based on your comment "Possession on angels part on the bodies of animals and or humans is contrary to the will and the law of God in every way.

Jesus says: "I came to do the will of my Father".

Can you clarify for me? Thanks so much as always,

Your friend,

Response #17:

Theology would probably note this as an example of "the permissive will of God". God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowing good and evil – but He did not stop them from doing so. To have prevented them from eating would have annulled the principle of free will. All sin is lawlessness (1Jn.3:4), but even believers sin all the time (if we are honest with ourselves). That is contrary to the will of God; in fact we are commanded not to do so; but we are allowed our free will.

Similarly, our Lord did not come into this world to destroy the demons or to imprison them in the Abyss (the thing they were the most afraid of: Lk.8:31); He could have done either one easily enough without becoming a human being; but He did permit these demons to be free of His power after "arresting them" so to speak, and to go and "do what they do" – just as demons throughout the world then and now "do what they do" – not everything they might do, were there no ground rules enforced by God (demons could easily make short work of the entire human race absent God's protection of us), but everything that they are generally allowed to do under the terms within which this conflict between the Lord and the devil is being carried out.

Note that in this instance the Lord does not allow them to enter a human being and does force them out of this man; note too that He does not allow them to inconvenience or harm anyone or anything godly – these unclean animals were being husbanded contrary to the will of God for His people Israel; note too that the ultimate desire of the demons, namely, to maintain a creature-based foothold in this region, is immediately frustrated (Lk.8:33); and note finally that the people of this region also immediately demonstrate their true nature, preferring pigs to our Lord and His message of salvation (Lk.8:37), so that we need have no concern for the material loss they suffered as if they were believers or potential believers suffering this loss.

So it seems to me that everything our Lord did here was perfectly done and in complete consonance with the plan of God and the will of God in every way – even though the same cannot be said either for the demons (obviously) or for the inhabitants of Gadarene. But one man was willing to respond to the will of God and be saved – the man from whom the demons were forced – and it was for his sake that our Lord had made this trip and accomplished these miracles. So great is God's grace toward the one lost sheep who is willing to return.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Dr. Luginbill,

Is it a sin to wear symbols such as an Aegishjalmur as a necklace?


Response #18:

I'm assuming you are a believer in Jesus Christ. Good for you, brother!

The fact that you are asking me this question indicates to me that you are troubled by the prospect of doing so, yes?

There are a lot of gray areas in life, things that are not spelled out in scripture specifically, but we do have generally principles to go by.

The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Romans 14:22-23 NKJV

The context of the verse above is eating meat sacrificed to idols. Believers know that false gods do not exist, and therefore if we eat such meat (without giving offense to others who have a different view by rubbing it in their faces), we do so in faith, merely eating to stay alive to do God's will. But those who "aren't there" should not do something that troubles their conscience.

So the reason why we do what we do is key, as is the faith that we have (or do not have) that what we are doing is "OK", because we are not, e.g., actually worshiping or having anything to do with false gods (or are alternatively worried about being compromised).

Do feel free to write me back about this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #19:

2. In Eschatology you wrote:

Even though this victory has been prophesied for nearly two millennia here at Revelation 12:7-9, the brazenness of the attack with such inferior numbers and the astounding nature of the defeat still seems to come as a surprise to the devil and his cohorts, and this humiliation will be no small contributing factor to the "wrath" Satan will subsequently vent upon the world in the short time remaining to him (Rev.12:12b).

When reading this sentence it occurred to me that I don’t know the devil’s attitude towards the scripture. We know that he is a creature of extraordinary intelligence and power and I wonder whether he has ever consulted the word of God which foretells his ultimate defeat from the very beginning. It would seem somewhat hard to understand why he would want to ignore what essentially is the only source of information regarding the coming future and it’s this very source which clearly says he will fail in all his attempts and that would make it difficult to comprehend why he should carry on with them.

Response #19:

On the devil's attitude towards scripture, it's a good question . . . without a definite biblical answer. What I would say is that arrogance corrupts sound thinking. By the same token, Satan, who had been in the very presence of God Himself for untold eons, certainly "should have known" that taking Him on was beyond folly. But when he corrupted his thinking through arrogance, anything seemed possible. Since the devil has no respect for the Lord – even though he certainly should have – there is no reason to expect that he puts any stock in His Word. After all, the Word proclaims his imminent defeat – the last thing in the world the devil wants to hear.

Thanks as always for the editorial help, my friend!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

I fear that my sins or possibly someone in my family's sins have brought a curse on myself and my family. [details of present unusual troubles omitted]

I don't know if any of that is connected or if we're just dealing with a run of horrible luck or maybe a curse. Please understand that there is a tremendous feeling of dread connected to all this for all concerned. Please pray for us and as always, I will pray for you. Do you think I should start fasting, spending more time at church, go to a deliverance minister?

I am sorry to be so long winded. I am sober and sane, although I may sound weird. Nothing like this has ever happened before

In Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior

Response #20:

I want you to know first off that I have been praying for you all along and addressed these concerns today in my prayers as well.

That said, I want you to know also that the Lord is good and holds you in His everlasting arms. So there is no need to panic when things go wrong. Indeed, that is the time to trust Him all the more. In fact, that is the test, the test of faith.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 KJV

(1b) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (2) Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, (3) though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:1b-3 NIV

As to the details of what you relate here, I'm not sure what your life experience has been like, but virtually ever advancing Christian I know has experienced such attacks with multiple things going wrong in a big way very many times (myself included). Not as bad as Job, not as bad the Tribulation, but bad enough. When we can take these things in our stride and even laugh about them, not being happy that they are happening but realizing that the Lord is in complete control and not at all "asleep at the switch" but rather trusting us with a bit of pressure, then we are getting somewhere.

1) There is no such thing as any sort of family curse such as you open up here with. If you are referring to what is commonly called the "third and fourth generational curse", that is a much misunderstood principle (please see the link). The actual scriptures are dealing with repeated disbelief and rebellion from the Lord by consecutive generations of individuals belonging to Israel who were supposed to all be believers but in this case were the opposite. It has nothing whatsoever to do with believers in Jesus Christ so it has absolutely nothing to do with you.

2) I'm sorry to hear about your relative (I have said a prayer for him too). But under the circumstances I feel the need to point out that just as the other things you mentioned which, while coming in batch seem unusual (and may well be), this too is something that happens to people, especially that late in life. Moving is incredibly stressful for everyone, and more so the older we get, and stress is hard on the system. I hope and pray that he will recover better than anticipated and be able to do better once this is all behind you.

3) There is no such thing "rebuking evil spirits" – not in the Bible, at any rate. Michael the archangel is said to have asked the Lord to do so in Satan's case rather than doing it himself (Jude 1:9). But human beings need to STAY AWAY from "demon dabbling" of any sort as if it were toxic and fatal . . . which it well might be. Demons, fallen angels, are involved at all levels in this conflict we are engaged in, so it is good for believers to know that the Bible says about them: that is one reason I wrote the Satanic Rebellion series (at the link). The two most important take-aways for our purposes are:

a) Demons cannot do anything whatsoever to us unless the Lord specifically allows it and the Lord would only allow it "for good for those who love Him" (Rom.8:28). No demon is going to be allowed to "curse" or do things inspiring "dread" if the Lord doesn't have a higher purpose in mind. He is greater than they are (clearly) and the forces for us are greater than the ones against us:

And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
2nd Kings 6:15-16 NKJV

. . . greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1st John 4:4b KJV

b) Therefore our correct procedure is to live our lives to the Lord as if demons didn't even exist. We cannot see them. We cannot (at least we should not even TRY) to interact with them: the "rebuking" and other things many "teachers" are involved with today are wrong in the extreme. So while we are "not unaware of [Satan's] schemes" (2Cor.2:11), we are to live our lives in faith in what we don't see (the Lord we love even so: 1Pet.1:8) in this world we do see (temporary though we know it to be) WITHOUT any concern about demons or Satan practically speaking in what we think, say and do (please see the link which will lead to others: "Spiritual Warfare III").

4) As to your putative "Christian" friend, this is not, as you certainly note, proper Christian behavior. It doesn't mean your "friend" is not a believer. This is era of Laodicea wherein most Christians are little interested in the truth taught in depth from a good source and so are spiritual infants for the most part and lukewarm to a great degree. What that means is that while they may be able to put on a good act for other people who have expectations of what Christians are like, when the pressure is on, a little or a lot, their true immature self will usually come out. Everyone can make a mistake, of course, even genuinely mature Christians, but this behavior report is so over-the-top that it is hard for me to reconcile it with any measure of spiritual maturity. On top of that, the disappointment which motivated it has everything to do with money, and Christians who are overly dedicated to money so as to have that sort of a reaction are inevitably in a very bad place spiritually.

There's no such thing as luck. God controls it all. There no such thing as a cloud of doom. The whole world is going to be destroyed in the end. In the meantime God is in control and looking out for us always – having planned our good to the numbering of the hairs on our head. There is no reasonable reason for any feeling of dread – not for a Christian who is walking close to Jesus Christ. We are ready to do whatever He wills, knowing that it will glorify Him and result in eternal reward for us. Abraham was told to sacrifice his only son and did not object or complain – because he knew that if God was the One ordering it, it had to work out in the end (Heb.11:17-19). "WE will come back to you", he told his servants (Gen.22:5), and THEY did indeed come back – together. Whatever God is asking us to put up with and endure, it's not as challenging as the test Abraham passed.

It's also important to say about the other side of Romans 8:28, God working it all out for good for us who love Him, that sometimes, oftentimes, we don't "see it that way" at the time.

"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
Genesis 50:20 NKJV

Joseph's brothers did not mean him well – certainly not! And Joseph could be forgiven for feeling himself "accursed" for all that happened to him, sold into slavery, then wrongly accused and sent to prison – but God DID work it all out for good beyond what anyone could ever have imagined in countless years of imagining. That is the God with whom we have to do. Are there troubles at the old place? Maybe this is help for you let it go all the easier. Did your relative have a close call? Maybe this is alert him and the doctors to problems that need to be addressed for him to live longer and better than would have been the case. Did your "friend" make you feel bad? Perhaps you would have made a terrible mistake by trusting him with some critical financial or other important matter if this had not alerted you to beware. Are things seeming like they are against you and so you are having trouble coping? That may be the Lord's way of tapping you on the shoulder and reminding you that spiritual growth is a daily thing and that the quality of our Christian lives is absolutely dependent on it – not to mention our eternal rewards.

Do feel free to write me back about any of this my friend. As I say, I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our Lord, our life and our all.

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I want to start out by saying that I am blessed to have brothers and sisters in Christ who are praying and have prayed for me. I am more closer to God than I have ever been before. Right now I am praying for those who claim to be Christian and are living a lifestyle worse than unbelievers, and at the same time I don't want to judge them. In the context of Matthew 7:1-3, it seems at first glance that Christians are not to judge AT ALL; but there are also passages in scripture that instructs us to judge "righteously" and by using spiritual discernment as mentioned in John 7:24. Are the words "judge" in Matthew 7:1-3 the same Greek word used in John 7:24? And Jesus also said that a tree is known by its fruits. Does this refer to both a person's characteristics AND their doctrine?

There are a lot of people who they consider to be my friend and claim that they're Christians and want to fellowship with me. However, their lifestyle is a life of using drugs, getting drunk with alcohol, and sexual immorality such as fornication, and having sexual contact with others and not feeling any guilt at all. This is very concerning to me because I am trying to separate from their company not because I dislike or hate them...but because I don't want their sinful behavior to rub off on me. Sometimes they think that I am "holier than thou", and that is not the case. The reason is that I care for them and their eternal state. I don't know how to go about this without getting the impression from others that I am "self-righteous", and as you already know that there is no "self-righteousness" according to the Word of God. I am seeking the counsel of wise men (Proverbs 1:5) from the words of Solomon who was the wisest man ever lived except for God incarnate.

I thought about how it was possible for the wisest man to fall away and turn to other gods who are pagan, and as a result of mingling with 300 concubines. Then I read Ecclesiastes which was supposedly written during the latter years of Solomon's life. Solomon then realizing that his sinful acts were all in vain. Solomon learning from that suggests to me that Solomon was even "wiser" when he wrote Ecclesiastes because a wise man learns from his mistakes as he did, so therefore he had increased in Wisdom when Ecclesiastes was written. I am not a 100% sure about my interpretation, and wanted to know if you agree with me regarding Solomon's Wisdom.

I know a few nice people whom I am acquainted with that are Catholics, and they firmly believe that "Stigmata" truly is a genuine spiritual mark from God/Jesus, and is Divine. Most of all "holier than thou" Catholics usually cite this verse below as speaking about Christ's wounds on their bodies.

From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
(Gal. 6:17)

I translate that verse as NOT stigmata, but persecutions resulting from physical wounds faced by The Apostles. Is this the correct interpretation? I tend to believe that "stigmata" is from the pits of hell. Just like the supposed visions of Mary at Fatima, witnessed by Catholics.

God Bless!

Response #21:

Thanks for this encouraging testimony! I'm very glad to hear it (and will continue to keep you in my prayers).

1) Yes, our fruit is everything about us, both how we behave and what we say. We can't tell what people are thinking, but we can hear and evaluate their words and see and discern their deeds. That is discernment not "judging". "Judging" in the sense used in the passages you cite has to do with condemning others in our hearts or with our words (or deeds, occasionally). We can be wise about staying away from problematic people without violating this command not to "judge". And so we should indeed do:

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
1st Corinthians 5:9-13 NKJV

So by all means make it your policy to stay away from people who are deep into gross sin and who want to tempt you into it as well . . . ESPECIALLY if they call themselves "Christians".

2) Solomon was wise, but wisdom is not enough. Wisdom is knowing what is right. But doing what is right is an act of willful obedience to the Lord. In fact, if we know what is right and don't do it, that is worse than doing something out of ignorance (Lk.12:47-48). Solomon's problems with knowing what was right but doing what was not increased with his age:

As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
1st Kings 11:4

As a result, the kingdom was split in the time of his son into two parts (1Ki.11:5ff.).

3) You are correct about stigmata. That is a Greek word in the plural meaning "marks" (from which we get the English word "stigmatize"). The foolishness that has accrued around this passage is an RC phenomenon in the main and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible or the truth. Paul tells us elsewhere that he received the maximum 39 lashes five times (2Cor.11:24). That certainly must have left a great many marks on his body, scars received in the service of Jesus Christ at the hands of unbelievers – but not supernaturally so.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

"So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world."
 Galatians 4:3 NIV

What does Paul mean by "elemental spiritual forces"? Is he implying that earth, air, fire [the classical elements] etc.. are "neutral" spirits that guide human beings before being spiritually enlightened? Or is he implying that demons are in direct authority over them but God sovereignly controls them so as to discipline them? Or is there some third meaning that I missed?

Response #22:

The phrase ta stoicheia is used by Paul in several places (Gal.4:3; 4:9; Col.2:20; similarly Peter: 2Pet.3:10; 3:12; cf. Deut.4:19). It refers to the fact that God placed heavenly signs in His cosmos as means of natural revelation (cf. Gen.1:14-18). But this is "baby stuff" – like the Law which likewise depends on such signs in regard to festivals et al. – not meant for mature believers. Going back to the them is like going back to the time before a person was saved or going back to the pablum of infancy. Now that we are adults, liberated by the truth, the truth is what we are to give our attention to. I've covered this a number of times before. Here is a link which will lead to other major ones: "Elemental Principles".

Happy 4th of July!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

All is well, what about you?

Bob, who are the watchers in the above verse, Daniel 4:17?

Response #23:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm getting by (few health issues and a few work issues, but we "endeavor to persevere").

Here is something from BB 2A: Angelology:

2. Watching (as agents of God): the horsemen watchers of Zechariah chapter 1, and four chariot watchers of Zechariah chapter 6 who observe events on earth on behalf of the Lord (this function is also referred to in Dan.4:13, 17, 23, under the Aramaic title of "watcher": 'iyr).

As this mentions, we are dealing with an Aramaic word which seems to mean "to watch" and even "to watch over" in the sense that elect angels do, protecting and guiding and, in some instances it seems, being the instruments of meting out appropriate discipline. Angels elect and fallen have a lot of different names and designations (which have to do with rank and also with function), but they are all essentially the same in the way that all human beings are essentially the same.

Hope you and yours are doing well too, my friend – keeping you in my prayers daily.

Your old friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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