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Question #1: 

Hi Bob,

I wanted to ask you about the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' spiritual death. I understand Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac - the role of the Father and the meaning of the communion memorial - the role of the Son, but I'm struggling to understand Jesus offering up His human body "through the eternal spirit."

"the Spirit's mediation was necessary for that judgment to take place."
"the Spirit made it possible for the Father to judge sin in Jesus' body, and for Christ's human body to be judged in spite of His divinity" (Heb. 9:14)

I can't seem to grasp this one. I don't even really know how to ask the question - I think maybe why was the Spirit's mediation necessary?

Thanks for your help.

In Jesus

Response #1:   

The mechanics of our Lord's bearing of the sins of the world are only hinted at in scripture. We know He died for them all; we know that fire (Ex.3:2ff.) and blood symbolize His sacrifice; we know that He literally "bore our sins in His body on the tree"; we know that He was "made sin for us" (2Cor.5:21) and judged in our place (1Pet.2:24). And we conclude that the magnitude of His sacrifice is beyond what we can comprehend in this world – which is why we are not given more. This aspect you ask about, the Spirit's role, is also one which we can only approach obliquely. All I have been able to learn about this is summed up in the operative paragraph you read in BB 4A:

The Spirit, with Christ before the cross and returning after His spiritual death for sin, would seem to have been the member instrumental in making the sacrifice possible. That is to say, Jesus offered up His human body “through the eternal Spirit”. The Father acted as judge, carrying out the sentence of death on His own beloved Son (as symbolized by Abraham and Isaac), but the Spirit's mediation was necessary for that judgment to take place – just as the Father is our Lord's Father, yet the Spirit's role in Jesus' conception is key (Matt.1:18; 1:20; Lk.1:35; cf. Jn.1:14). And just as it was only through the Spirit that our Lord Jesus could become a human being as well as God, being made the human Son of the Father, so also at the cross only through the Spirit was it possible for Christ's human body to be judged by the Father in spite of Jesus' divinity (the two natures being in hypostatic union through the Spirit; see section I.5.e above). Thus the Spirit's pivotal connection with the human body of Christ – at its conception, sacrifice, and also resurrection (Rom.1:4; 1Pet.3:18) – is clear. Scripture does not come any closer than this to explaining the mechanics of a process that in many respects is beyond our ken. What we can say is that the Spirit made it possible for the Father to judge sin in Jesus' body, and for Christ's human body to be judged in spite of His divinity (Heb.9:14). This required facilitation and restraint (both key characteristics of the Spirit's other known ministries), facilitation in making the sacrifice and the judgment possible, and restraint in preventing the complications of Christ's deity, perfect humanity and union between the two from making the sacrifice and judgment impossible.(119) To use a rather rough analogy, just as steel cannot be forged without an anvil to support it, so the Spirit was the “anvil” on which our Lord's human body was hammered to purge away the sins of the world. For Jesus to stay physically alive long enough to be punished for every human sin ever committed required supernatural intervention.

. . . . . Christ, who offered Himself . . . . . through the eternal Spirit . . . . .
Hebrews 9:14b

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

The paragraph you gave me from BB4A is the one I've been reading over and over again but with your help I'm good with it now. I think I've been trying to work out the 'mechanics' which are only hinted at in scripture. I thought I was missing something but I realise now that I'm not. There's only so much we can understand about this from what we've been given (or even not given) and it's all that we need to know for now.

Also, whenever I read about the "blood of Christ" now I automatically think - His spiritual death - not literal blood. I think there are LOTS of Christians out there who don't realise this. They think of Him dying physically for us as in bleeding to death and not that He died spiritually for us and then exhaled His human spirit after He had been judged for the sins of the world. Years ago I used to believe He bled to death because I was never taught anything different and I didn't check it out for myself.

I read something recently where a pastor taught this correctly (the same as you) and some Christians were calling him a false teacher. They weren't accepting that Christ's blood was a symbol in scripture and not literal blood. That He didn't bleed to death etc. Christ's blood was extremely important to them but it seemed they hadn't checked it out properly with scripture as we're supposed to. If a Christian has not been taught this correctly or they are not believing the precise truth of it could this be dangerous for them as far as their salvation is concerned? It's so important.

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #2: 

I figured that was the case, so I'm happy to hear that you are OK with the explanation. This is one of many subjects in the Bible where those of us who are hungry for the truth would like more details, but you are right to accept that there are reasons, good ones, why we only have what we have. And it's not as if there isn't plenty more to learn across the board.

You are correct that this is a point where probably most Christians are confused. The church-visible is split between the unbelievers (who don't care at all), the believers who are too lukewarm to care too much and leave it to the theologians, and the theologians who are mostly unbelievers who just like arguing over words. It really does ring true what you said about the pastor who taught the truth. The real problem here is not just this one point, critically important though it is, but the teaching of the truth at all. People in most churches do not want to be taught the truth. If they did, they would not be in "that church". That's why I always advise prospective pastors to be very careful about taking on a church, any church. Even "good churches" tend to become social clubs after the founding generation of truth-seekers dies out.

I'm of two minds about the salvation question. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are saved; those who don't aren't. It's probably possible to understand and believe very little else (and even much else which is not true) and still be saved. On the other hand, that is a terribly vulnerable place to be, spiritually speaking, because one little minor tremor and the rotten structure can easily collapse. Given that the Tribulation is so close, I think that very few of these lukewarm types are going to be able to remain in that status. Either they will fall away (as one third will), or be forced to get cracking spiritually in frantic "crash course" manner. For those of us who have prepared ahead of time, helping in this is likely to be our major contribution during that difficult time.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Mar 2:9
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?

This seems an interesting observation, as our Lord asks not what is easier to do, but what is easier to say – do you think that an interpretation according to which Jesus adopts the view of His audience could be correct here?

Response #3:    

Our Lord is making the point that the human way of looking at these things is entirely backwards. Still today in Christendom this point is mostly true. Few Christians even seem to have the foggiest notion of what our Lord did in dying for our sins, paying the entire price for each of them which the justice of God demanded. Dying for just one of this fellows sins was worth more than that universe. So of course it was far easier to heal him than to say his sins were forgiven – looked at from God's point of view rather than the near-blind human point of view. The only reason that Jesus had this authority to heal was because He was bound to die for the sins of the world.

Question #4:  

In one of the links you gave me you wrote, "It also bears remembering in this regard that we who believe in this age have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and for those of us who are pursuing a relationship with Him, the indwelling of the Father and the Son as well (Jn.14:23)."

Thanks a bunch, in Jesus

Response #4:     

I'm always happy to hear from you and field your questions, my friend.

We know that we are in Jesus Christ and that He is in us (see the link: "Union with Christ").

John 14:23 tells us that the Father too will "make His dwelling with us" in the case of all "who . . . obey my teaching". As to whether this applies to all who are saved, those who have obeyed the Word to accept Jesus as Savior, or is restricted to those walking in the light, I would say the former based on what 1st John 1:3-7 says about our fellowship with "the Father and the Son" etc. I will say, however, that I have a hard time imagining a Christian who would be asking this question of him/herself who was not at the same time striving to "walk in the light".

And keeping you and your family and your health in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hello--I hope you are well. I have a question about 2 Timothy 2:15 and the part about "dividing the word of truth." From what I read, it is actually something like "cutting straight the word of truth" in the original Greek. Is that a Greek idiom? Anyway, there is a lady on CARM--she is not a Mormon, but is rather deep into Christian mysticism--who thinks that it is incorrect, even though she doesn't know Greek. When I told her that it means to handle accurately the word of truth, she wrote that that is what it means to me. I told her that was incorrect; that that is what it actually means in the originally Greek. She did say I have a "valid point" but I don't understand what else she wrote, about Plato:

"Of course the term comes from Greek, since the Greeks provided via Plato the method of Diaeresis which resulted in theological exegesis as we know it today. That is a valid point you raised, about the Greek though, which I feel points well to my lack of enthusiasm for the method and the term when applied to Scripture."

She thinks most English translations of the Bible are "dodgy" so she seems to interpret it the way she wants to. She wrote the following BEFORE I corrected her about what "rightfully dividing the word of truth" meant:

"actually i wondered why anyone would divide His Word...and I pondered. His Word is a person. His Words are scripture, What He said to Us... His Words and He are identical, yet translations are not identical to Him or to His Word or to each other... and are not in that sense, the Word, Which is not a translation. I think that this started when I was reading people argue about faith and about sola scriptura another forum. Arguing if scripture was what was our only way or if Faith. I would say Faith in Him, and Faith in His Words... if in fact a soul could even find His Words anymore, since the translations are so dodgy. Dividing is of course what satan did at the fall, separating Adam from God. Getting in between adam and God and causing Adam to enter into the world of Death, leaving God's realm (life). However, I am not sure what other way to take that term dividing except as Platonic diaeresis... which is basically the way of exegesis of Plato and aristotle which was given to the medievals. And i think the reformation would have or wanted to battle Against that? ......why, since why would God's word be divided? "

See what I mean? Nearly incomprehensible. But I don't know what she means about Plato and Aristotle and diaeresis. I figured you would know since Classics is your specialty. And so is Greek.

Thanks again.

Response #5:   

This has zero to do with Plato (the word has nothing to do with diairesis). The word used in 2 Timothy 2:15 is orthotomeo; it is not a common word, and certainly not the normal word for "divide", even in the Bible (as far as I know it only occurs once in the LXX besides this passage and nowhere else). But the two elements are common so it's clear enough what it means. What we have here is a building analogy. Paul calls Timothy and all pastors "workmen" in this verse, and it is that context that we are told to "cut the Word straight" – like a good carpenter making a cabinet, or a stone mason doing a good job:

Be zealous to present yourself to God [as one] approved [in what you do], a workman who does not need to be ashamed, [like a skillful carpenter] "cutting straight" (orthotomeo) the Word of truth.
2nd Timothy 2:15

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Thanks. This lady has a Ph.D in philosophy, or so she says. I am not sure what diairesis is, though I looked it up. I presume the "dividing" definition has nothing to do with that, either. But it seems to be an interesting idiom.

God bless!

Response #6:    

The word 'diairesis' occurs in the Bible . . . at 1st Corinthians 12:4-6 but NOT at 2 Timothy 2:15; dieresis (spelled a bit differently) also comes into English, meaning the two dots (looks like an umlaut) occurring over a diphthong to tell readers not to make one sound but two, that is, telling us to "divide" the diphthong and not run it together (e.g., showing here that that the word 'naďve' is a two not a one syllable word).

There are words in the NT which mean "division" in a bad sense (such as schisma, 'schism' at 1Cor.11:18), but neither of the words we've been considering here are used in the NT in a pejorative way. And that's not what we have at 2 Timothy 2:15.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hi Bob,

Sorry to bother you again. There are a million and one things I would like to ask you and I'm sure everyone else who emails you feels the same. The more I read and study and learn, the more questions there are!

The big question on my lips, I'm almost afraid to say out loud. As you know I was brought up in the Catholic Church. Many Catholics are now agreeing that the current Pope is guilty of many heresies and they blame this apostate trajectory on Vatican ll, the Modernist phase of the church. They tend to say that the last three popes went off the page but things were mostly good before then.

My difficult question is that was Catholicism ever not heretical? So many of the symbols and practices are pagan in origin. There is no scriptural command to worship Mary or pray to the saints and we are told not to call any man "father" and to confess our sins to our Father in heaven with Jesus as our high priest.

Obviously I cannot ask you what does God think of the Catholic Church and I'm sure you'll agree with me that there will be many real believers in the church who are saved.

Was the Catholic Church ever what Jesus intended?

Temples were destroyed and we know that if the third temple is built then it will be desecrated by the antichrist. That tells me everything I need to know about what God thinks of temples made by the hands of men.

When you talk to Catholics they really believe it is the only God ordained religion and that there is no salvation outside it. Isn't it ironic that I wasn't a true believer when I was in the church?
They don't seem to realise that God can and will take lamps from lamp stands and that there is no church too big for this to happen to. Tyndale was spurred on to translate the Bible when a Bishop told him that the Pope's word was more important to him than God's Word!

The more I read the bible the more I see the folly of man and the hubris. Time and time again, man has failed to do what God has asked, man always thinking he had a better way.

Is this not what the Catholic Church has not only become but always ever was thus? Man's design on how to follow Jesus, not Jesus'.

How did things get so wrong? I'd be interested in studying the progress of the early church until it became Catholic.

Now I am learning more, it is frustrating to see where the church visible has gone so far in error but it also makes me feel so blessed to be studying the Word in earnest and to have found you and your ministry! I cannot imagine where I would be without Ichthys! It would be a very different story than the one I am telling now so I am very grateful for all you have given me; friendship, fellowship, building up, spiritual growth, the list of things I have to thank you for goes on and on!

"People will be hungry and not for bread.." I can see that verse coming alive before my eyes! People church hopping or falling away completely while others are starving for the Word of God while the majority go along blissfully unaware of what is round the corner..

What a time to be alive in!

In Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father,

In Him,

Response #7:   

I'll do my best to answer these emails, but my knowledge and experience of the RC church is limited and not based upon ever having been indoctrinated myself. For one thing, based on knowing many RC individuals over the course of my life, many of whom are fine and upstanding people, I have always assumed that many of them were saved through not believing what the church taught, merely being badly confused by all of its false teaching. However, to a person, all the refugees I've corresponded with over the years have affirmed to me just what you say here, namely, that they were not saved in that "church", and that in their opinion it's not possible to be "in" and saved, because the religion is a religion of works to its very core, and anyone who somehow did put full faith in Jesus Christ, trusting entirely in the grace of God and not the rites/works/teachings of that religion, would have gotten out of it ASAP – as they did and as you did.

In terms of history, the book of Revelation in its first two chapters outlines roughly the history of the Church (as opposed to the church visible). From this we can say that organized Christianity (represented in the main by the RC and Orthodox churches) began going astray from the beginning, but it was only in the era of Sardis (1162 to 1522; see the link) that it became completely dead. The "history of the church" as Rome today proclaims it bears no relation to reality. There were no "popes" at all before ca. the seventh century. For many centuries now, however, we can safely say that the RC church has had nothing whatsoever to do with the truth; quite the opposite. So personally I'm no more concerned with what Rome is doing than with what the Imams in Iran are doing.

Your email bespeaks a genuine Christian who is surfacing from all lies and being freed from all past burdens – and I rejoice in that!

How did things go so wrong? The devil has a lot to do with that. And we don't need to be surprised. Take any independent Protestant church which was set up by founders who really loved and sought the truth. If it survives, several generations later it is almost always the case that it has become a place of rote and rite and spiritual torpor. That is the way of things whenever human beings try to "organize". God has His own organization: THE Church of Jesus Christ. It consists of all who are genuinely born again, born from above. It can't be recognized by buildings or man-made organization or creeds or constitutions. But God surely knows who are His (2Tim.2:19).

Keep up the good work! Your enthusiasm for the Word and the truth is a tonic for me and a witness as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Hi Bob,

The main aspect of Catholicism that has shocked me whilst coming out (other than Mary worship) is that Catholics are persuaded to not read the Bible. The strange thing about this is that when you confront a Catholic about this, they are in denial just as they are in denial about Mary and Saint worship. For me this is the most glaring evidence of a cult: an indoctrinated false doctrine that adherents deny when quizzed about it. When this is brought to the light, most people quickly realise that to be forbidden to read the Word of God is ridiculous and yet there it is.

What is most pernicious about this false doctrine is that it is sown discreetly as a form of brain washing. At my Catholic school I was never emphatically told not to read the bible but there was an implication that there was an amount of danger involved in reading it whilst unsupervised by the church as though it were a grenade with the pin pulled out. At my first communion I was given a "Good News" bible which only contained the New Testament. There was no encouragement to read it and although there was Religious Education at school which utilised this Bible, there was an uneasy feeling about reading it alone. My family have expressed fear about reading the Bible, especially the KJV/ Protestant Bible. They will deny their own reactions even while it is happening but in more honest moments they will admit that Catholicism has made them feel uneasy round the Bible!

When you ask Catholics about this they will staunchly deny it but I know this as a fact being brought up as a Catholic myself. I don't know the specifics of this doctrine and when it was taught and how but I definitely picked up this doctrine as reading the Bible for the first time for me felt like an act of open rebellion to the Catholic Church!

We shouldn't be surprised by this sneaky stealth false doctrine as it was recently suggested that a personal relationship with Jesus is harmful and dangerous!

I was reading an article by a Catholic paper that denied that Catholics were forbidden from reading a Bible but admitted that Catholics rarely do read scripture. They said that Catholics remain babies in faith and never get beyond the milk which is spoonfed from the "mother" church. My argument is that this is not the parishioners fault but a deliberate influence from Rome itself! The Vatican wants Catholics to remain babies who are dependent on the church for scraps of faith, they almost mandate that Catholics stay ignorant and Biblically illiterate. At the same time they will deny this fiercely and "gaslight" anyone who points out this fact.

The more and more I think about it the more I realise it is a cult. I lost my trust in God because of this cult (although my faith was never fully extinguished as I have never been an atheist) and so at times I feel an anger towards the Vatican. What it has done to me, my family and countless families all over the world not to mention all the children who have been abused. What a rotten tree it is. I try not to be embittered about it.

I realise that the longer you stay in this cult the more likely you will either be in so much erring false doctrine that you become lukewarm and worldly, you become fully immersed to this cult and you will hate the truth of Holy Scripture or your faith will be shipwrecked entirely.

What is sad is that the Vatican operate a scorched earth policy in that people would rather shipwreck their own faith than be seen to be a "heretical" Protestant who is basically anyone who says they are a Christian but not Catholic.

I worry that my family will never embrace the truth but yo-yo between Catholic dogma and worldly secularism. I myself once thought there was only the choice between one or another for a Catholic.

It's all such a maddening and sorry affair!

In Him,

Response #8:    

Thanks for this.

You are definitely not "crazy"; every ex-RC I've ever spoken with says similar things. Your insight into anti-Bible reading bias and manipulation is priceless. It's something I've long suspected and it's not as if an outsider can be dogmatic about the fact of this bias since it's not "official" (even though of course in days of yore it most certainly WAS official – and could get you burned at the stake).

People who are comfortable with their "religion" are always very difficult to reach. That is also true, by the way, of Protestants, whether they are happy with ritual-heavy churches, or social-action heavy churches, or emotional "gung-ho" / "rah-rah" churches. But in all cases, God is more than capable of getting the attention of anyone who is at their core open to response to the truth. Our job is to pray for the ones we love and know of in these messes, and to be there if and when they come to us for godly guidance.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I was just going over old emails to see what book you recommended me that I haven't got yet. I just realized you sent me a link to an open domain one and I never responding like I meant: I really appreciate the open domain books.

To be honest, at times I feel it is all a mountain I can't get through (or over). The ICHTHYS material and the Bible, and etc. What is your secret for doing so much may I ask?

Happy Easter

Response #9:   

For those of us who have "chosen the better part" (Lk.10:41-42), there is no end of how "wide and long and high and deep" is the love of Christ, the love for Christ, and the wonderful truths He's stored up for those who love Him.

What's the secret? Just fight your best fight today . . . and keep doing that every "today". One day you'll turn around and be amazed at what the Spirit has done. The Spirit is the "secret", and He's an open one for all who respond to the truth.

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."
Mark 4:26-29 NIV

We will in the end reap a bountiful harvest, if only we persevere.

Let us not become weary in doing good ["good" in God's eyes], for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 NIV

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

One last update for this semester (probably):

I got sick recently and it's got me under the weather. I've really been struggling a lot to put myself to the tasks at hand, and not being able to exercise off the stress (due to being sick) isn't helping. The todo list is a mile long, and I've only got a couple days now. I'm trying to kick myself into gear, but it's difficult. It's irrational, but that doesn't make it any easier to suck it up and work. I'm trying to go one step at a time, so the current goal is to survive all my responsibilities and imminent deadlines and then deal with the stuff after that after.

I hope both of you are doing better than my state!

In Him

Response #10:    

I think we've all been in situations where the time, energy and resources we have did not seem to be at all sufficient to the problems and tasks we faced. At such times, trusting the Lord is the key. Do your job; trust Him that what you are in fact able to do will be sufficient. Take it one day at a time and one task at a time. You have given testimony to the fact that you feel His presence more palpably at such times. Rely on Him and His Spirit to get you through.

Shield up; spear leveled; up that hill. And keep fighting the fight!

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

Keeping you in my prayers on this, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

I find it hard reconcile the gospel of john especially chapter 20 and the details elaborated in there, their seems to be some inconsistency with other witness testimonies from other gospels. For example Luke 24:1-10 compared with the gospel John 20:1-4.

Response #11:   

These sorts of questions have exercised commentators for generations. The technical genre which tries to reconcile gospel (or other) narratives is called the "Harmony". The best one I know of is the one by Thomas and Gundry.

However, I have spent a great deal of time on this issue of the resurrection chronology and can assure you that the gospels all sync perfectly, when they are correctly understood. You will find that at the link: in BB 4A: "The Chronology of the Resurrection".

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Bob,

Yeah, I thought not having the faculty listed at Biola was unusual also. I used to see Rosscup back also in the 90s at ETS. Yes, I candidated in Montana. Good thing for us it didn't work out; that really nice town called Libby had major issues with mine particles from the local gold mine that were poisoning the people, especially children.

Now about nausea, the nausea does come to me but usually when I visit a church and I do not do that anymore.

By the way, I am revising my Basic Series, mostly adding some things. I also have a better drawing and recording set-up. I have not really made many teaching changes from what I thought back then, if you know what I mean.

I think one of the more challenging sections I want to add to the series is the local church. That I have learned some things about but did not include it in the original series.

I curious with what you will come up with in your Ecclesiology Basics if you live long enough to do it. Just thinking about it without going into detail here. It is hard to explain since I have not completely thought it out or studied it yet. But it seems that the local church has devolved into what it is today for a good reason. And I am referring to even the best of churches.

Many have tried to return the church to its early principles and I am not referring to the signs and wonders period but after that, like getting the people involved with their spiritual gifts and serving, for example, but that doesn't seem to working either.

We have both know that teaching the word is clearly central to the church. But what else do the people do besides sit there and listen and hopefully apply the truth? Just some thoughts.

Take care my friend

In Christ,

Response #12: 

Just posted the Q/A on John's gospel yesterday, so now the main push for this summer will be Eccelsiology [posted now at the link].

I saw a show about Libby – it's apparently truly awful there. God certainly protected you on that one.

I certainly agree on "church". 95% of what has been happening in "churches" for many years is all about tradition and experimentation, both divorced from anything in the Bible. I think it probably would take a lot of discipline and personal commitment on the part of a group of Christians to meet with the primary idea of spiritual growth. And now that virtually everyone has a false idea of what "church" should be, keeping that virus out of the system would probably only be possible for the first founders while the group is small. Sooner or later, the newcomers will want a building and an organ and a choir and robes and, and, and . . . . until the church is "successful" (read: no longer concerned with spiritual growth but only with what other churches are doing too). Blessedly, we don't have to worry about that. In BB 6B, I only have to delineate what is actually in scripture about all this (and point out flaws with present approaches – and that's not exactly hard). Anyway, I sure hope to have it done this summer. We'll see [posted at the link].

What do people do besides listen and apply? I think that if you had a group of several dozen truly interested believers who were listening to you do what you do on the internet only doing it live, they would be beyond blessed to have that. If some of them wanted to go out to Denny's afterwards, I wouldn't have any problem with that. If they wanted to put on a Christmas pageant for "outreach", I would have a problem with that.

Your pal in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:  

Bob,

I am in agreement on all you say on the church also. What I at getting at is this. It seems that all we can do now is basically have a bible study and an occasional communion--maybe a couple of hymns. That is the old Berachah pattern and unless I find something different in Scripture, I am fine with that. I believe most all people add to that is not necessary or just nonsense.

It really comes down to what people want to do with what they learn and how they apply it, doesn't it? I am well aware of the misuses of the Berachah model and how many copycat churches took on a cultlike atmosphere and very authoritarian pastor with some deviant views. But that is their problem and I feel for the congregation who knows no better.

Anyway, just thinking on it and using you for a backboard. Rebound.

Your old pard in Christ,

Response #13:    

Indeed – the Berachah model is the only one I know of that is anywhere close to the mark. Clearly, it has a lot to do with why the Col. had so much success in advancing with the Word – or was a result of that. Either way, the two go together hand in glove. All the other "stuff" clearly doesn't occur in scripture and seems to me to be "stuff" people do 1) because we've always done it that way, 2) because it leads to numbers, contributions, bigger buildings and all that razzmatazz – which has nothing to do with spiritual growth and actually makes it much more less likely if not impossible, and/or 3) they don't know what else to do, not being interested in doing the hard work of studying, teaching, learning, believing and applying; and of course 4) they find it "fun" – so much for "giving up childish things".

I have a number of prospective pastor-teachers who are studying under Ichthys. It will be interesting to see where they end up. They all appreciate from what they've learned that there is no safe denominational track and that the traditional paradigm is deeply flawed. Some of them are doing things on the internet, some face to face in small groups, some still hashing it out. Meanwhile, I'm doing what I'm doing – and happy about it – and you're doing what you're doing – and happy about it I'm hearing. We'll let the Lord sort the rest of it out.

It is sad that the Col.'s ministry didn't result in more men/churches doing things the right way. Sign of the times. We just have to be satisfied with carrying the torch as best we can ourselves.

Your pal in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Hi Bob,

[omitted]

I completely get what you mean about the jogging as well. It always seems much harder to build up your fitness and so easy to lose it. This isn't a Bible question! I just wanted to encourage you to keep gently plugging away at it and keep listening to what your body is telling you. I understand where you're coming from and I think it's great that you can do what you're doing now. I'm still not completely where I want to be yet and I'll always be careful about the exercise I do when I'm even further along. I've never given up hope that the Lord will help me to get there.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #14:     

Thanks for the great report! I hope and pray you'll be able to handle the extra work. Six weeks or so of it?

I certainly concur that how we balance things is a big part of "all this" down here. The widow who put in the "least coin" was adjudged by our Lord to have given more than all the rest, so those who have big commitments and yet still manage to do what He wants us to do are certainly to be commended for it – and certainly will be on that great day of days (same principle is seen in Matt.25:19-30 – which parable also demonstrates that "not having much" or "not having as much" is no excuse to do nothing). Doesn't make it easy though. Even our Lord got tired (e.g., Jn.4:6), but it never stopped Him from doing the Father's will perfectly (e.g., Jn.4:32).

You're fighting a great fight! And you're encouraging me in the process – along with all who witness you. That's ministry too.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

[problems with neighbor details omitted]

Response #15:   

Hope you are doing well out there in the warm west.

I try never to weigh in on matters of application like this. We are all called to make judgment calls on matters great and small where scripture has nothing direct and specific to say, making use of the general principles of scripture under the guidance of the Spirit. Since everyone of us is different and at a different spiritual place, and since every "application situation" is different, even if there may be outward similarities, it's really only the Christian on the firing line who has any chance to see clearly what's right.

These sorts of things can be annoying and are always a test of patience, whatever a person decides to do or not to do. And different things push different people's button's to greater or lesser degrees. On the one hand we want to be patient and loving and kind and long-suffering. On the other hand there is a limit to what almost anyone is going to put up with . . . or should. Hitting the middle course is never easy. If something like this can be weathered without undue animosity and without any permanent damage, then those are surely pluses.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:  

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the enormity of the whole scheme of things in this dimension. How everyone is born into sin, how so few accept Jesus and walk with Him, how most will end up in a horrible nightmare of judgment that will never end. Sometimes I feel like I will overload with the thought of these things.

Even before I came to Christ as a youth I said almost out loud, "this is such a dark, dangerous world - I wish I had someone to walk with me through it and hold me with a strong hand". That is not what most men do; most do the braggish, tough, I-can-handle-it approach. But I knew that all it took was a slight shift in a timeline, a small perturbation in the elements and even the most macho could be whisked into eternity with out so much as a blink of an eye. However, little did I know at that time that Jesus Christ was just the One to hold my hand through this life, as I have seen. He is the one I, in ignorance, was asking for!

Early in my walk the idea of having to endure to the end daunted me, filling me with anxiety. I am the kind that has trouble rejoicing in anything until I have seen the final outcome, until the fat lady sings. That is just how I am constructed. If I don't know 100 percent the outcome, how can I have full assurance, considering the ghastly results of failure of faith? I do trust in the Lord day by day and keep a good grip on my faith. Please pray that I could really rejoice in the Lord like it says in the Scripture.

I check your site weekly as new subjects are brought to the forefront. Some are over my head, then I just go to Youtube and study supercell thunderstorms, tornadoes and other nerdy things. But I have often been encouraged by your answering emails that come in to you on your site. Thank you for all the work you do! And God bless you richly.

In Jesus,

Response #16:    

I'm glad to hear that things are going better. As to the future, the hardness and blindness of the world truly is amazing, in a very appalling way of course. But that is the purpose of this life: for everyone to make their choices. And we all make them daily. For those who have embraced safety in Jesus Christ, the question is just how much we do love Him and just how much we are willing to respond to Him to grow, advance and serve Him through ministry while we are here. I have no doubts about your spiritual safety. It would take abandoning Him in complete loss of faith to lose salvation (that is what apostasy is; link). Of course we can all do better. Given that the Tribulation is not that far off, more rather than less in terms of spiritual preparation is always a good idea. Like most people, I'm not a glutton for inconvenience, trouble, bother or discomfort. Tests like the one you just had are God's way of letting us take our spiritual temperature so we can make adjustments if necessary.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

And thanks for the encouraging words!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have been reading a book titled "Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus" and in this book the author, who is a fulfilled Jew or Messianic Jew writes the following:

"What happens to Jews who do not believe in Jesus - especially those who never heard about Him? What happened to my wonderful Jewish grandmother who never hurt anyone in her entire life? Is she in hell?"

My first reaction was to refer to John 1:9 and John 3:7.

He also says: "I will be the first to say that the New Testament does not explicitly address the issue of what happens to those who never heard the message of forgiveness of sins through Jesus, but of this much we can be sure: God is both a compassionate and righteous Judge, His standards are high, and if we reject His ordained means of atonement, we are in trouble".

This author has a PHD in Old Testament and Semitic Languages.

The beginning statement was such that I just want to discard the book. To me, it sounds like he is saying that for Jewish people, there is a different way to eternal life. The New Testament that I have read does indeed address what happens to those who reject Jesus as The Savior and Lord in:
John 3:36.

If we are depending on our own effort to keep the commandments, then we are indeed in trouble, by using that as a means of Salvation.

Is not the teaching of being Born Again addressed in the Old Testament many times as well? From what I have read, the answer is yes. The prophets preached it many times, although they did not use the exact same wording.

Is there a different way of salvation for the Jewish people than for Gentiles; I don't think so..

My contention is: According to John 1:9, everyone has been enlightened by The True Light Jesus Christ/ Is it God's fault that the Jewish people rejected Him. I don't think so.

No Jew can blame the Rabbis ? for not telling them, for they are deliberately deceiving their people, and have rejected the only Way of salvation.

It is very unfortunate.

I am of the persuasion that everyone ever born will sometime in their life hear of Jesus, Jews included.

Any comments you would have are appreciated.

Response #17:   

You are absolutely right, my friend. Anyone in the history of the world who had an iota's worth of interest in being saved has always been provided what was needed for salvation. God is not responsible to provide the pearls of the gospel to those who He knows will merely trample them underfoot. But there is this difference: the Old Testament is as you note replete with the message of eternal life through trusting in God and His Substitute for sin. So Jews who reject the gospel are doubly culpable. Also, I grew up in a mostly Jewish neighborhood from kindergarten onward and have known many Jewish people in my life. I never met one whom I would adjudge as "never having heard of Jesus Christ". That is virtually impossible for anyone nowadays in the west (you'd have to be a pygmy or member of some lost aboriginal tribe to really "never have heard"); how much more less likely is it for Jewish people who are generally more educated and intelligent than the average person. Links:

Never heard?

Those who've never heard?

What is the Eternal Future of those who Lived before Christ?

God knows all things.

Are Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel Lost?

God's justice "bigger" than often imagined.

Natural Revelation

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:  

Good morning,

In Luke 12:45...

"But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;..."

...is the servant whom the master returns to find drinking and sleeping representing believers who have apostatized, or believers sinning (but not fallen away yet)?

Thank you!

Response #18:    

This is a difficult one . . . to pin down one way or another when we are talking about individuals. What we can say is that no one is going to go to hell who is not an unbeliever; but we can also see from this parable that acting just like an unbeliever is very dangerous. Clearly, being cut in two and having one's place put with unbelievers is scary. If the person in question has not apostatized, this would mean the sin unto death; only if the person has apostatized would there be condemnation. It's hard to tell here probably because it's hard to tell the difference also here in this world when we are talking about believers who have gone astray. Only the Lord knows whether or not a spark of faith still smolders, but it's clearly a problem to be in a state where to the world a person looks the same either way. Losing one's reward and being taken out of this life in a most painful way is a horrible thing to contemplate – even if it doesn't result in loss of salvation.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hello Bob,

I have a question, was the prodigal son someone who was already saved, backslid, and then repented, or was he someone who was never saved and therefore his return being his finding salvation?

Hope you're doing well.

God bless,

Response #19:   

Good to hear from you.

The former: the prodigal son gives the pattern of a believer who goes far from the Lord but comes back. It's GOOD to come back – because, like the father in the parable, the Father is happy to have us back.

Links:  Prodigal Son I; Prodigal Son II;

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In John 14 verse 28, Jesus says: "for the Father is greater than I".

I understand that He is expressing that the Father is greater than His humanity. People I have met in my life needed to be reminded that Jesus is 100 percent human and 100 percent God at the same time and that He emptied Himself of His Godly powers and came as a human.

I know that there are probably many false doctrines that have been developed over what Jesus said, but what is your biblical opinion on this.

Would appreciate your insight especially to know that what I think is correct.

Thanks so much again for your help.

God is so good to us.

Your friend,

Response #20:    

The translation is correct, and so is your analysis. I don't like the word "emptied", primarily because it can suggest to some that divinity can somehow change which it never does of course. Our Lord accepted a self-imposed limitation on the use of His divine powers to aid His humanity during the incarnation so that His experience might be just as ours is yet "without sin" (Heb.4:15); this was necessary for Him to be the perfect sacrifice and so that He might be sacrificed for us (Heb.2:9). This is called the doctrine of kenosis (and this root does usually mean "to make empty" which is the reason for the misleading translations). Here is where I write about the details: in BB 4A: "the hypostatic union and kenosis".

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Dear Prof. Luginbill,

First of all thank you very much for your effort in trying to teach the Word of God in the best possible way and thanks for your studies. It’s a shame it’s not easy to find such an in-depth and serious Bible teaching in Italy where I live and was born.

I’ve started a new path, thanks also to our friend, and have been trying to take steps into growing and maturing in the Truth of God and learning how to do His will.

I would like to ask you the following question (sorry if it’s “basic” - if you have already answered it, could you please send me the link?):

Has Jesus less authority than God?

Jesus said in Matthew 20:23:
«Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”»

And then in Mark 13:32:
«“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.»

Also, in several passages of the Scriptures He calls himself “Son of Man” (Mark 2:28, Matthew 13:37, Luke 17:30, etc.), why not “Son of God”?

Nonetheless, in John 10:30 Jesus says that He and God “are one” and “the Father is in me and I in the Father” (10:38).

When we pray, then, should we pray Jesus or the Father?

My question is actually three-fold. I hope you will have some time to answer these questions.

God bless you,

Response #21:   

Very good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for your encouraging words. I'm happy to hear about your determination to move forward spiritually to the glory of the Lord.

On Matthew 20:23 and Mark 13:32 etc., there are many such things in the gospels, and they are all explained by the fact that our Lord, who is God and coequal with the Father and the Spirit (see the link), has, in His humanity, subordinated Himself to the Father in order to carry out the plan of God for salvation (Phil.2:5-8).  During the first advent, therefore, our Lord is clearly not making use of His deity to aid Him in His mission.  That was essential in order for His human experience to be genuine – and therefore for His sacrifice to be acceptable (cf. Heb.2:10-15).  In theology, this is called "the doctrine of kenosis" (please see the link).

In terms of prayer, while that is in scripture usually directed towards "God" (which in the New Testament usually means "the Father" by default), we do have this verse as well:

"If you ask Me anything in my name, I will do it."
John 14:14 ESV

So I personally find no biblical mandate for not praying to the Lord Jesus Christ (see the link).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob Luginbill

Question #22:

Dear Robert,

Would it be a to strong a deduction to say that Jesus had "Nullified" the Law and Temple practices by His statements; a) John2:19 "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He specifically referred to His body, which is to be the new temple made without hands (Mark 14:58). Meaning that the old system (Law & Temple) have become obsolete (Mark 13:2), b) the destruction of the temple that occured in AD 70, the practical fulfilment of jesus's statement of destroying the temple and all that goes with it.

Jesus's prophetic words that the Cross would be the means to bring to an end the Law and the Temple practices, which then was materialized in AD 70. The resurrection of our Savior would then authenticate His words.

In Christ,

Response #22: 

Our Lord was referring to His resurrection, not the literal temple (see the link), and this prophecy was fulfilled on the Sunday morning following His crucifixion. But it is an interesting application that He is the reality behind the Law and that He does call His body a "temple" (cf. 1Cor.6:19). And it certainly is true that the second temple was soon destroyed, and that there was no legitimacy in sacrificing there once His sacrifice on the cross became a reality (cf. the book of Hebrews).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In Bible study session today the following question was raised by one of the students:

Did Jesus have the (ability) to sin?

I explained the best I could which included the following:

1. Jesus did not have a [sin nature] because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and not a human being.
2. Jesus had a free will.
3. Adam & Eve had no [sin nature] in the Garden of Eden [before their disobedience]. They also had a free will, as indicated by their choice.
4. Satan had a free will but sinned against God with Pride.
5. All the created Angels had a free will, but [some] chose to follow Satan in his rebellion against God.

This individual at the onset of the discussion, insisted that because Jesus had a free will, based on Scripture, He too had a [sin nature], but later recanted that and said, "well He had the [ability] to sin based on the fact that He was tempted by Satan, and that if He had no [ability] to sin, then why was He tempted by Satan if indeed He could never sin?

I quoted the Scripture "He who knew no sin was made sin for us". But they were not convinced that Jesus was without the [ability] to sin.

So, I satisfied to the Scriptural proof by explaining that Jesus was "Conceived by the Holy Spirit" and had no [sin nature].

I did my best to explain what the [sin nature] is, but they were not convinced yet. They still insisted that Jesus had the [ability] to sin, because He had a free will to choose. He chose to overcome the world.

Need your help on the answer that I can give which is substantiated by the Scriptures.

Thanks always for your great help,

Some of the questions I get are real thought provoking and keep me on my toes, so to speak.

I have reviewed the question that this person asked and what they believe.

Here is what I found in God's Word.

1. Col. 2:9 explicitly states "The fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form in Jesus". Just one verse of Scriptures debunks the idea that Jesus could have sinned if He wanted to.

2. If He was not capable of sinning, how could He truly be able to 'sympathize with our weaknesses' (Hebrews 4:15)? If He could not sin, what was the point of the temptation?"

Ans:
Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted, but He does not know what it is like to sin.

This does not prevent Him from assisting us. We are tempted with sins that are common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Hebrews 2:18
" 18For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."

He was tempted in order to know what we as humans go through. (God knows everything) even what it is like to be tempted as expressed in the above scripture.

2 Corinthians 5:21
" 21God made Him who knew no sin to be sin[sin offering] on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

What are your thoughts about my brief answers?

Thanks so much,

Your friend,

Response #23:    

This is an excellent response!

The people you're teaching are blessed to have you, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #24:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Here is some good news regarding the statement on my previous email where in Bible Study this person believed that Jesus was "capable of sin".

I sent the teaching of your on the subject of "Kenosis and the Hypostatic Union".

The student reviewed these studies and discussed them with her friends and after prayer and the moving of the Holy Spirit on her, revealed the truth.

She no longer believes that Jesus had "the ability" to sin. Praise God.

I tried my best previously to teach her that she was in error. I prayed that God would help her to see the truth of her beliefs and He did.

I give God the Glory, Great things He has done, and credit to you for your help and teachings not only for the student, but for me.

You really don't know how many lives you are touching.

It is all because of God's anointing and help that we are able to understand.

Blessings to you, and continued grace for you.

Your friend,

Response #24:     

Excellent news, my friend! I'm happy to be of help in the process, but you are the one who's been doing the hard work for the Lord. Good for you!

It's always a blessing when people come to the truth in all points, great or small. And rare enough too that it's worthy of praise and thanksgiving each time.

I'm thankful for you, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Robert,

I had a discussion with a colleague of mine in regards to 1 Tim. 2:5. The deduction is that Christ as mediator, holds a lesser position and that all acts of worship, prayers, acts of ministry and..... is done with Father.

This, however was a disturbing thought for me. My interpretation is that Christ fulfills an absolute salvation need on our behalf without losing His divine Person as God (John 1:1). How could one better explain the ‘mediator’ position in relation to John 14:6.

A further observation is that this person has a Hebraic root connect.

In Christ,

Response #25:   

You are absolutely correct, my friend.

As God and before taking on humanity, Christ could not yet be our Mediator, because God cannot pay the price for sins; nor could a mere human being endure dying for a single sin. Only One who was human (so as to have a body wherein to bear sins) and God (so as not to be destroyed in bearing them) could mediate the sin problem and reconcile thereby mankind to God. Links:

Christ our Mediator

Reconciliation

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

 

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