The next course I selected as part of my Unschooled Master of Theology program was the KI course, 1 & 2 Peter, which covers the both letters from the apostle that most everyone can relate to (because he screwed up so much). Here are the Discussion Questions for the entire course along with my responses.

As a reminder, you can all of my course assignments for the uThM here.

So, let’s get started….

KWL – What I Knew Before Starting This Study?

I actually do not know much of the contents of 1st Peter (or really 2nd Peter for that matter). I have a particular affinity for 2 Peter 2, as it was used by God back when I was 17 to supernaturally pry me away from Buddhism. I’m not really certain how it transpired, how it was conceived, but I found myself in the hospital room of my then girlfriend during my senior year, late at night (about 2am). I went out to get a cup of water and when I came back, I spotted a blue Gideon Bible on the window seal. Something came over me, compelling me to grab the Bible and tack it back to my seat (my girlfriend had finally gotten to sleep by then so I was alone).

I first looked to the table of contents, but the corner pages were crinkled together so it made noise to turn pages. Not wanting to wake my girlfriend, I turned to a random spot in the back of the book, landing on 2 Peter 2.

I don’t know what happened. Before reading that chapter, I was a devout and happy Zen Buddhist with aspirations of possibly becoming a monk. After I finished reading the chapter, I somehow, some way lost my karmic worldview. I suddenly and abruptly no longer believed in the teachings of Buddha or in the idea of striving to reach Nirvana. Instead, this was replaced with a conviction that everything had been created by God. God was, for the first time, real and had somehow made himself known to me for the first time in my life.

After that day my entire life was transformed. I could no longer meditate. I could no longer practice or train in the martial arts. I reluctantly went into the US military (since the Buddhist Monastery was no longer an option) due to pressure from my parents and God subsequently used these 4 years to ground me in the faith (through systematic reading of the 66 books of the Bible without interference from denominationalism).

It will be fascinating I think to go through these two books, and especially 2 Peter and see what I find in it after spending 25+ years of faith in and submission to Christ.

KWL – What I Want to Find Out in This Study?

I don’t know if there will be any answers provided in this course, but I would like to know why 2 Peter 2 was used by God to shake me free from the false religion I was so convinced was true. I would also like to answer the remaining questions that have become pretty standard in my own research: what/who is God? Who/what are the angels and what is their origin story and why are they so similar to us (or vice versa)? What is the supernatural realm? Why is so much of the reality of existence hidden from human view? Why is so much of what will occur in heaven held from us? What exactly will occur immediately after my death? How traumatic will death be? How can I be certain that I am within God’s will, that I will find favor in his sight? How do I know my interpretation of the Bible is correct, given all the diverse interpretations out there today?

Lecture 1 Discussion Questions

Share your understanding of the phrase, “Keys of the Kingdom.” (Matt. 16:19)

Dr. Missler states in the lecture that the answer to what the keys of the kingdom of heaven are is found in Isaiah 22:22. It is: “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Unfortunately, this does not really clarify anything for me and Dr. Missler makes no reference to Matt 16:19 in his Isaiah Commentary on 22:22 (only references Re 3:7).

Looking through the commentaries available to me, I can see there is some significant confusion concerning this concept of “keys.” Most seem to agree that it is a symbol of authority, but in what capacity Peter has been given authority, to what extent, in what way, remains unclear.

There are several references to keys in the Bible, though. Here dealing with Peter, then also the Key of David in a few verses, as well as a few concerning the Key to the Bottomless Pit.

Personally, though I don’t know specifically what these keys actually are, I would argue that unless there is a specific reason given by the text itself to treat them as symbolic, they should be taken literally. Not everything in the Bible is written for us to understand (i.e. 7th thunders). But I do think once all is said and done and we’re able to look back on what the Scripture is and what purposes it served, we will discover that every single name and reference and description was perfectly accurate (in the autographs not necessarily in the copies or the translations).

I think these specific keys will be literal at some point, either when Peter is transformed at the resurrection, or maybe even now if Christ did, indeed, bring with him out of Hades all the saved who were captive there, or maybe at some point in the afterlife. I doubt that it is referencing that Peter will be standing at the gates of heaven or the door of heaven and will determine who is let in. This decision is determined exclusively by an individual’s name being written in the Book of Life (Re 3:5; 20:12).

Share at least three “life lessons” you have learned from the Apostle Peter. Explain.

The 2nd chapter of his second letter was tremendously transformative to my life, saving me from an active belief in a karmic worldview, and subsequently placing me on a road of reading the NT while in basic training, and then ultimately finding myself in Germany where I was able to isolate for several months (during off hours in the barracks) and read through the entire Bible systematically, book by book (no commentaries, preachers, or denominational domga to get in the way).

Additionally, his reference in that same chapter (2 Peter 2:4) to the angels (presumably of Genesis 6:2) who left their proper domain and fell to earth, taking wives from human women. This has dramatically broadened and enriched my worldview concerning the Bible and reality.

Lastly, the conversation he had with Jesus on whether or not Peter loved him was always bizarre to me until I dug deeper and discovered that Jesus used the word αγαπε and Peter kept using the word φιλῶ instead. Basically the difference between a self-sacrifice love (Christ on the cross) and a brotherly kind of love or a friendship. After two times of trying to get through to Peter, Jesus finally used Peter’s word instead of his own. It’s always stuck with me that at some point, God will give us what we desire, even if what we desire is not the best for us or maybe even harmful to or for us. There is a point at which God does give up trying to reach us.

How would you describe the distinctive differences between Paul’s and Peter’s ministries to another person?

To be honest, I really don’t know a whole lot about Peter’s ministry efforts. Of course, before the giving of the Holy Spirit, Peter was kind of a bumbling idiot. As Dr. Missler often states, he always had a foot in his mouth. I never really paid all that much attention to the transformation in him after Christ’s ascension and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I never really could relate to Peter very well, and was always drawn to the writings of Paul or Jude.

This is odd because 2 Peter was such an important book in the foundation of my subsequent conversion, I’m surprise it did not garner more active inspection on my part.

The key differences: Peter seems stuck often between two worlds – being a Jew and ushering in the gospel to the gentiles. Even Paul has to correct him when he’s being two-faced when the Jews arrive. Of course, my assessment of Peter might be different if we had more first person writings from him. Paul’s writings make up much of the NT, so it gives us more of a glimpse into his mindset and his thinking. I’ve always assumed that Peter went on ministering to the Jews while Paul diverged and took the gospel to the gentiles. Nothing more is really written of Peter after the first several chapters of Acts while Paul’s ministry seems to be magnified as central to the NT message.

Discuss how the “paradigm of salvation” influences your personal walk with the LORD.

I remember hearing this in Dr. Missler’s tape recordings back in the mid 90’s when I was overseas (when first introduced to his teaching ministry) and I was floored when I heard him describe this.

Justification, Sanctification, Glorification. The idea that we “have been saved,” “are being saved,” and “will be saved” was much different than I was hearing about “once saved always saved” from the fundamentalists that I would visit on Sundays.

This is not that my salvation is not secured or fully complete, but that salvation, that entrance into redemption, the writing of my name in the Book of Life (but I think this occurred before I even existed), is the initial foundation of salvation being wrought in my body and in my mind. Sanctification is the salvation that I experience every single day of existence as I am, by the power and work of the Holy Spirit, conformed to the image of Christ (which is what will be completed at the resurrection and rapture, when we are individually transformed from mortal to immortal). This is the third aspect of salvation: Glorification, in which the old has passed away and the new has been ushered into reality. Dr. Missler here talks a lot about the rewards of glory, how we individually will have varying degrees of glory based on our works. I’m skeptical of this, but I could be wrong. It just seems to me (maybe my faulty logic) that a hierarchy like this would be unnecessary in heaven and also somewhat counter productive. It seems like a temptation to spark bitterness among those who have “less” glory than others.

Also, concerning the last tense here, and the idea that this is the separation from the presence of sin, I don’t agree. I know it is common to think that there is no possibility to commit a sin in heaven, but the Bible does not really hold this view. First off, Adam and Eve were both immortal, spiritual beings who walked in the very presence of God, spoke with God directly, yet they were capable of sinning. Satan, who tempted Eve in the first place was also found to have sinned in heaven as an immortal and supernatural being. Additionally, the angels of Genesis 6:2 likewise made the choice to leave their station in heaven (or at least the supernatural realm if heaven is a separate place) and committed sin by “going after strange flesh.”

Can we really be so certain that we will not be capable of committing sin in the afterlife? Personally I think the temptation will be there always. I think there will be temptation to have sexual relations with others. I think there will be temptation toward pride and certainly envy (if there are differences in rewards). I also think there is the potential of creating a whole new conflict in heaven, maybe with a different “adversary” in the future (maybe one of us). If it happened once, why could it not happen again? If not, where is this distinction illustrated in the Bible?

Discuss the concept of “a lively hope” (1 Pet 1:3; 23) and what this phrase means to you.

I found this interesting as the term “lively hope” was unfamiliar to me. But, when I looked up the verse I discovered that only the KJV uses “lively” here and most others use “living.”

This would entail that before salvation in Christ, any hope we had was a hope in death. Death was a certainty and is a certainty for all who are lost. They are essentially without hope, for when they die they are dead. They will either be proved correct and be annihilated (no longer exist) or they will find themselves in Hades in torment. This is would be their station for eternity if not for Christ, who is the first fruit of the resurrection. When the resurrection occurs for the lost, they will find themselves with immortal bodies, but standing before the throne of God, and will be judged for their deeds. Their punishment will be the Lake of Fire. None of this is a hope. If they end up in the lake of fire they will exist outside of God’s presence for eternity. If they are annihilated, they will cease to exist and will never exist again. This is a net loss.

But, to the Christian, they have a hope that is a “living hope,” one that is founded on the resurrection of Jesus, in that if he was resurrected this means that we, too, will be resurrected to eternal life in the presence of God and his Christ forever.

There is power in this kind of hope. An efficacy that does not exist for the lost. And it is in this singular hope that we place all of our confidence, for it is our only hope, as Paul expresses, “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Co 15:17-19).

Why do believers experience so much distress if they are truly God’s children?

I think most of this stems from being “in the world” or being in love with or drawn to the things of this world. Money, power, fame, relationships, hobbies, material things, influence over others – these things draw people and will often enslave them. I think it might have to do with genuine faith (or lack thereof). If someone truly believed God would come at any moment, they would not send their children to college or save up for retirement, or build a new house, etc.

In fact, this is one of the major reasons I’ve heard from those who switch from a pre-trib, pre-millennial viewpoint on eschatology to a post-millennial, post-trib (or a-mill) eschatology, because they want all of these things. They want to raise their children and grandchildren with a hope toward the future (of the human race on earth, not in the Kingdom of God), they want to save for their retirement (and have a retirement), they want to establish their career, enjoy their hobbies, etc. Many have described it as a optimistic eschatology because they look forward to the Church taking over the world and spreading Christianity to all people.

Additionally, there are some Christians (if not all true Christians) who experience “distress” for several other reasons. Sometimes it has to do with chastening by God due to sin in their life. Sometimes it has to do with the hardship being a witness to others (or more importantly, how the individual responds to the hardship). Lastly, it often has to do simply with retribution. If we commit a crime and are discovered and punished for it, then this is not something extraordinary.

I would also like to point out that there is the doctrine, especially in the modern evangelical churches found in America, that Christianity is a kind of happy religion and that if you become a Christian your life will ultimately improve, you will become wealthy, healthy, wise, and the best you you could be. This, of course, is a fallacy. But I think many Christians suffer “distress” when they hold to this kind of worldview and that worldview is confronted by the realities of the world. Sickness, loss of employment, breakup of a marriage, death of a loved one, any number of tragedies, and their theology goes out the window and they don’t know how to rectify their troubles with what they thought Christianity was or what it would bring.

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard that discipleship is based on faithfulness, as if discipleship was something that one possessed. I can possess salvation. I don’t necessarily know for certain that I am “saved.” But I hope in the promises of the Bible that I am saved in Christ. I’ve always thought of being a disciple of Jesus as being defined by my actions of pursuing God in my life. I didn’t necessarily want to become a Christian, but I’ve spent the last 25+ years pursuing God, studying his Word, trying to uncover what it is exactly that he wants from me (because he won’t come right out and say it). Maybe I’ve never questioned my status as a disciple because faith is something I’ve always had. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe I chose to have faith. I think it was given to me along with the taking away of a faith in a faulty worldview. Faith in Christ (or more generally in God) replaced faith in Buddha’s teaching. Thus, faith is not mine. It is simply within me and moves and exerts itself without my consent or even control really. Every time something happens to me and I think “this is it, when I will stop believing” it actually has the opposite effect and spurs on faith in Christ all the more. I often wonder where I stand with God. What his assessment of me is. In the end, his opinion of me is really all that matters in this world or the next. I wish there was a way to know with certainty where I stand.

Lecture 2 Discussion Questions

How does the phrase, “private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20) influence your approach to Bible study?

I’ve always taken the Bible as a supernatural message, even before I was exposed to Dr. Missler’s teaching. How I became a Christian, how I’ve grown over the years (or maybe not grown), how I explore the faith today and how I pursue God in my daily life is supernatural.

In my estimation, there is only one clear interpretation of the Bible – how the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit would interpret it. They set out with a particular message in mind when they moved the OT and NT writers. Sometimes there are (or can be) multiple meanings to the same text. Sometimes there are different meanings for different generations or ages of the church. Sometimes there are particular interpretations that are meant just for an individual. But, all of these, to be accurate and correct, will have to harmonize well with the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

I agree with Dr. Missler that there is a good chance that the human writers of the Bible might not have had any idea what they were writing about or what the ramifications were. Jude set out to write a letter about “our common faith” but instead wrote a letter that warned them about the “certain men who’ve crept in.” Yet, I bet he had no idea how important Jude 6 would be in the future of the church (or how the supernatural reality that verse points to would be ignored throughout much of church history and even today).

There is a right way and then a multitude of wrong ways to interpret the Bible. I personally think allegorical interpretation (unless there is a really good reason to do so – such as the Bible states the meaning is not the plain, straightforward meaning) is off base and can and does lead to gross inaccuracies in exegesis (it really gives an excuse for eisegesis).

I approach the Scripture as it is: a supernatural message from my God and the creator of the universe. I use a literal hermeneutic (or a plain, straightforward reading) in interpretation, utilize several different commentaries (because iron sharpens iron – Pr 27:17), dictionaries, encyclopedias, and I have had several mentors over the course of my journey in the faith (Dave Smith, Chuck Missler, James White). I frequently do not agree with their conclusions, but I do try to keep an open mind. But, I also think the Bible itself gives us a clear understanding of how the Bible should be “discerned:”

“the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Co 2:14). There is no possible chance that an individual can rightly interpret the Bible if they are not yet saved (have been reborn – the Holy Spirit dwells within them).

Additionally, now that I have formal education behind me (finished my ThD in 2021), I have embarked on the KI program with the aim of completing all the book courses in 1-2 years. I devote 40+ hours a week to this endeavor in the hopes that I can discern most specifically what is missing from the Biblical text (i.e. what occurs after Re 22:21; will there be additional redemptive narratives; were their previous redemptive narratives; what was the origin story of the angels; what exactly is death and the intermediate state and what is the experience like for humans; how can I be certain of my salvation in Christ).

This is an avocation that I take more seriously than my actual “occupation” (which I only have as a provision from God to simply pay my living expenses so I can dedicate the bulk of my time to the study of his word). I think pursuing God is more important than any other endeavor I could pursue while on earth.

Explain how Peter’s five exhortations influence your attitudes and conduct.

1. Gird up the loins of your mind

The central, root aspects of your thinking, of your being, of your conscious identity. These faculties or traits or ways of thinking should be harnessed, controlled, structured, focused, and (if necessary) reined in.

2. Sober, self-controlled

Sober I think gives a greater connotation to this word than does simply self-controlled. It denotes a greater seriousness to the given situation (the plight of the human condition) and demands one meet the challenge.

3. Set your hope on the 2nd coming

Peter says we are to “rest our hope fully” on the grace coming. The fact that there is a means by which I can be redeemed to God, rectified, found innocent despite the myriad of my sins and the very fallen and depraved nature which inhabits my soul and flesh (though I’m not too clear on if the soul itself is fallen or if it is just the flesh). The Christian walk is not something to take lightly or flippantly. It is an important undertaking and will have cosmic implications in the future.

4. Do not conform to former lusts

We are to be innocent (as children), obedient, not retreating back into old habits of the flesh. I personally struggle to know what God’s will is for me, or how I might dig myself out of a lifetime of habits and against the onslaught of worldly temptation. Certainly, I am not the same individual I was before I was saved. I have experienced a transformative faith. But, as Paul puts it, “in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Ro 7:18-19).

5. Be holy

This is not a “you should be holy” but rather it is a direct command, “be holy” because he who called you is holy. It is not in some conduct, but in “all conduct.” This, of course, is a very tough pill to swallow. Dr. Missler has stated before that by being saved we are now capable (with the help and enabling of the Holy Spirit) to cease from sin, moment by moment, living by the Spirit. Personally, I have not found a mechanism by which to do this. Yes, I live a life quite close to a monastic in an enclosure. I live in solitude. I do not really associate with others outside of work. I do not pursue earthly or worldly endeavors or hobbies, nor do I entertain the vices of drugs or alcohol or relationships with the opposite sex. But, the world still does creep in at every possible moment. Gossip is a real and present danger at work. I think the only thing that really keeps me from embracing physical relationships with others is the lack of wealth. If I were to win the lottery today I think I would end up shipwrecking my faith and my walk with Christ, maybe even to the point of jeopardizing my salvation. I think God not only spared me (and maybe others) from the life I would have lived if I had never been saved, but I think he protects me from myself most of all every single day. I manage to do some things correctly in this life (seeking God, devoting my life to the study of God’s Word) but I also do many, many other things terribly wrong as well.

I do like what Dr. Missler acknowledges in the lecture: “absolute holiness cannot be achieved in this life, but all areas of life should be in the process of becoming completely conformed to God’s perfect and holy will.”

While I do struggle to make this an actual, daily, consistent reality in my life, it is my aim.

Explain and share your understanding of the “paradigm of divine volition.”

Dr. Missler seems to be operating under the idea that the foreknowledge that God uses to determine our predestination is what our choice will be in choosing or rejecting Christ. If this is the case, I would disagree. The very fact that we could accept Jesus in the first place is predicated on the drawing of the Father to Christ (John 6:44). Without this drawing, there is no belief and the things of God are considered foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Co 1:18). So the foreknowledge is not God knowing who would come to Christ but knowing beforehand who he would draw to Christ, as Paul states, “does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Ro 9:22-24). God initiates the human volition by determining before the foundation of the world who will be made (from the same clay) vessels of wrath and who will be made vessels of mercy.

That foreknowledge determines our predestination (Ro 8:29-30; Eph 1:5,11), being “destined” beforehand to take a certain path. It is because of this predestination that we are considered the Elect or part of the Election or “the chosen” or those who are “chosen” (Ro 9:11;11:5,7; Lu 18:7; Mark 13:27; Col 3:12). I find it fascinating that the angels (or at least some of them) are considered “elect” as well (1 Ti 5:21). Does this mean that they are in some way part of the redeemed? Or does it simply mean that we as part of the “elect” join them who are already elect? How did the angels become elect in the past and when did this happen? Where they created “elect” or did they have a separate redemptive narrative before the creation of the physical universe (or earth or humans) where they went through a similar transformation?

From our “elect” the drawing takes place, the call, which Peter states we should “make (both) our call and election sure” (2 Pe 1:10). This call is the presentation of the gospel to us individually, whether once or a multitude of times. God knows how he has determined to reach us and this can appear as a choice on our part, but it can’t be if we are predestined to ultimately make that choice. Believers are, according to Jude, “called, sanctified, and preserved in Christ by the Father (2 Pe 1:3; 1 Pe 5:10).

I through this (or because of this) called-sanctified-preserved process or status that we as believers in Christ can be Justified or “declared righteous” (Ro 5:1). This declaration occurs immediately through our faith, but is not realized until we stand before the judgment seat of Christ (either at the bema seat or the great white throne – it is unclear). We are all found guilty before God (according to the law) but are declared righteous (or blameless / not guilty) on account of the purchased price paid by Christ on the Cross. God does not impute our sin to us (Ro 4:8) but instead imputes to us grace, mercy, on behalf of Christ who “confesses us before the Father” (Matt 10:32-33).

Because of this abnormal imputation (which the rest of the world does not experience for they are judged by their deeds – Re 20:12), believers are glorified both during our lives through sanctification (Ro 12:2; 2 Co 3:18) and also in our resurrection and rapture to be with Christ (Phil 3:20-21; 1 Co 15:52-54).

Share how trials have refined your faith and how obedience to God’s Word refines character.

The trials in my life (those of course that were not struggles wrought of my own making) have always had me “fleeing” toward God with abandon. Whether it was attack from new Christians that I was trying to help (who were lashing out as they sunk back into drugs and alcohol) or jackboot pastors who were trying to maintain a stranglehold on a congregation, trials that seemingly should have moved me to doubt God’s faithfulness have always pushed me to my knees in prayer and provide great motivation later on when I look back and can see how God rescued me from all these wolves.

Since being saved, obedience to God’s word is not something I consciously aspire to. I simply pursue God, ferociously study his Word and try my best to submit to the leading of the spirit whenever he pricks my conscience. I am certainly a sinner saved only by grace. If it were not for this mechanism there would literally be no hope for me. I’m still trying to wrestle with what exactly it is God has called me to in the faith. I can only assume that he is moving in and through my life in ways that I cannot even comprehend (influencing others through my actions that I have no idea). It’s possible that I will be one of those (I think there will be many of us) who are saved “as through fire” (1 Co 3:15) having lost everything we’ve “built,” having nothing to show for our efforts while on the earth (if, indeed, there are rewards in heaven for efforts which I’m skeptical of), but “ourselves still being saved.” I would imagine walking around in heaven with nothing but the shirt on our backs would be better than the wealthiest man in the Lake of Fire. With my lot I am content. Wherever I might be in error while on the earth, may God correct.

Explain what Peter means by the phrase, “born again,” and describe how this supernatural event enables changes in your life.

This is the word ἀναγεγεννημένοι or “renewed” or by extension to being physically born again, causing a spiritual change. But, it’s important to look at to what we were born again: “to a living hope through the resurrection” (1 Pe 1:3). The “born again” is not the end or completion of the process, but the initial turning toward something that is the completion of the process, i.e. the resurrection, or more specifically to an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, that is “through” the resurrection of Jesus.

The process of being born again for me took only a moment in time, but the subsequent transformation into the image of Christ has taken 25+ years and is still in process and will continue to be worked out and progressing until his return and my final transformation. Without the “born again” event, or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, there is no means by which I can move toward God or conform my mind to the mind of Christ. For it can only be realized through Christ, as it is impossible for man to do so. But, thankfully, what is impossible with man is possible with God (Lu 18:27).

Discuss what “true friendship” means to you and how you exemplify this type of relationship with others.

Dr. Missler stated in the text that true friendship is a friendship that does not require explanation. But, I struggle with this. Personally, as an individual who has had from as early as I can remember (actually even before I can remember) an introverted disposition and personality, I have always found naturally to forsake friendships and acquaintances. Several friendships I’ve had over the years I’ve instinctively allowed to wither on the vine simply out of a lack of “consideration” or just not instinctively thinking about nurturing it over time. I had a particular friend who would get upset with me every time I went on vacation to a resort town near his home, yet I would not think to stop by and visit. If being honest, either he never crossed my mind at all or the thought of going and visiting with him (or really anyones) did not feel like a vacation or a profitable or enjoyable experience. Another friendship I have basically died from lack of input. More and more time would pass between emails and then we finally just lost touch with each other.

The dear friendships I made while in the military overseas during the two years I consider a monastic seminary experience I actively tried to rekindle a few years after we all got out of the military. But, every time I would talk with them on the phone or visit them, they were completely different people (as well was I) and we had no anchor points any longer in which to form a profitable connection. I eventually stopped trying to maintain these relationships altogether.

To be honest, in the last 10+ years of my life, since finally embracing what I believe is a call to the contemplative life (or maybe it is just a damaged disposition due to psychological trauma over the years) I have been truly content. I do not desire relationships or spending time with other people. I’ve had several people now either try to fix me up with their friends or they have tried to have me over for dinner or spend time with me socially outside of work. All of these invitations I’ve politely turned down. I am simply missing that component part of the human psyche that craves direct interaction with other individuals. I think this is one reason why I like the “new” KI so much more than I think I would have the more interactive KI of the past.

Personally, I have never found a truer friend than Jesus in my life. Then again, this of course will be tested in the end as to how closely the promises spelled out in the Bible are kept, such as, Ro 10:9, Eph 2:9” and of course, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent” (John 6:29).

It is, of course, God’s prerogative to keep or abandon these promises at any time (Ro 9:21). As God himself says, “Who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth, I did not say to the seed of Jacob, Seek me in vain; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isa 45:18-19). And as Paul concludes, “He has mercy on whom he wills, and whom he wills he hardens” (Ro 9:18).

Jesus stated concerning friendship, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants….I have called you friends” (John 15:13-15). Abraham was called a “friend of God” (James 2:23). So was Moses (Ex 33:11). I would imagine so was Enoch (Ge 5:24).

Of the many friendships I’ve had in my life, only one man has died on my behalf.

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

I’ve always found the accounts of and references to angels in the Bible to be fascinating. Who are these creatures who we know next to nothing about? Why the distinctive creative events (angels, then humans)? Why do we know next to nothing about the greater supernatural realm, the spiritual reality (which does not immediately or automatically mean ethereal, just a different kind of tangibility)? Why would angels “desire to look into” the things of humans, most specifically the gospel message that was not “revealed to them” (1 Pe 1:12)? Surely the angels have read the biblical text. They had to be privy to its full message when it was being penned. Surely it is thoroughly available to them now after the fact, even the original autographs as I would wager there are full, complete copies in heaven at their disposal. More so, they have direct access to God the Father and now to Christ (I would at least assume) to whom they can bring their inquiries, unless, of course, they are purposefully being kept in the dark just as we are on earth.

Questions about the angels, though, invade my list and are at the top, as their origin story I suspect has pertinence to our future and destiny in Christ. I think what occurred for them will be similar to what will occur for us. I pray we will not make the same mistakes they did (Get 6:2; Isa 14:12-17; Re 12:7-9), but I suspect we at some point will.

I found that we are instructed to “sojourn here in fear” quite interesting. It should not be surprising, though, since the “fear of God is the beginning of knowledge [or wisdom] (Pr 1:7). We are instructed to be sober minded in several places (1 Ti 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:6; 1 Pe 1:14) and watchful for his return (Matt 25:13; Mark 13:33; 1 Co 16:13; Eph 6:18; 1 Th 5:6; Re 3:2; 16:15) for it is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (He 10:31).

Dr. Missler mentions that we cannot shock God, that he knew every evil thing we would do before he climbed up onto the cross and died for each of us. In fact, for us specifically in this age, none of our sins had been committed yet when he died for us all. We did not even yet exist and yet he still chose to die. But my question is, must I take this on faith alone that God approves of me as a servant and as his friend, or should I truly, as Paul states, “work out my own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12) because I don’t know for certain what my standing is before God?

How can I be certain that I have not been deceived, that I have not be led astray by a strong delusion, given over to a futile mind, thinking I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing but in reality I am wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked? How do I know that my faith is not somehow malformed from the beginning? Certainly there are countless souls who have been misled (JWs? Mormons?). I’ve had more than one person tell me that I was not fit for the Kingdom. One was a fellow worker in Christ who disagreed with me taking a stand against a new believer who had slipped back into drinking and drugs (and lying and thieving), and another was a professor in my Master’s program who disagreed with my theological viewpoint in a paper I turned in.

What can I make of this? Were they incorrect? Or have I somehow deceived myself and will discover the moment after my death that I believed in vain (1 Co 15:2)?

Dr. Missler also stated in the lecture that each of us have a distinctive service (Lu 6:13; Acts 9:15; 1 Co 1:27-27) and that the greatest adventure in life is to discover what specifically he has appointed for us to do. He said we determine this by discovering what unique gifts he’s given us, what unique opportunities he brings across your path.

Personally, my life as a Christian has been uneventful, somewhat underwhelming, and rather unproductive (as far as I can tell). I’m convince that if I’m allowed to enter eternity as a Son of God at all, I will be one of those who is saved “as through fire.” I’m not equipped psychologically or by disposition to “evangelize” (though I am not convinced this is a gift every believer or even most believers are given). I also have been formed by a foundation rooted firmly into the apostles and prophets to such an extent that I cannot blindly accept human dogma as biblical truth (though I would love to become a Catholic monk). It would almost be a blessing at my death if after my last breath I simply cease to exist. The atheists will not know or care that I was wrong all these years and that my hope of salvation in Christ was ultimately ill founded. Plus I would actually never know that I was in error either.

But, to awake from life at my death in the presence of the angels who are tasked to escort me to Hades, and discover by my incessant inquiry and questioning that I was gravely in error and had missed the mark entirely, only to find myself in torment awaiting my final judgment at the great white throne along with all the other lost, does truly terrify me.

Dr. Missler also made the comment,“All evil thoughts and feelings regarding one’s brothers and sisters in Christ must be removed, for his followers are to love deeply, from the heart” this is agapao. (1 Pe 1:22). I struggle with this. First, who am I to consider a brother or sister in Christ? Is it anyone who claims to be a Christian? Is it only those who I decide are Christians by their fruit or works evident in their lifestyle? Is it a particular denomination? Is it only those who interpret the Bible in a certain way? If any of these I would have to discount most of those found throughout the vast majority of Church History (and all but a very small handful who claim it today).

Second, how am I to exercise this love? I am not equipped to meeting and socialize with people in person. I can barely socialize with people online (and really prefer not to). I also have suspicions about the activities that are today passed off as Christian activities. The constant obsession of preaching and teaching, with much of the content in local assemblies being very shallow and obviously geared toward individuals who do not actively study the Bible I find unfruitful. I likewise have it a struggle to teach (I don’t really feel called to this gift, though for many years I thought I was – isn’t everyone). Plus it is difficult (at least for me) to gather people and keep their interest (another reason why I don’t think I have been given the gift of teaching). I don’t agree with the organized church in modern times as a concept. I don’t believe it is the model we see in the biblical account, and attempts I’ve seen to try and model the Biblical church have failed miserably. I can only assume this is what is impossible with man and only Christ can see his church for what it truly is. He is, after all, the one building his church, not missionaries or preachers, or pastors (which is not a biblical position or term in the church) or elder, or prophet.

I’ve considered simply making myself available to a local church to serve. Simply present myself after much prayer and consideration to a local pastor and offer my gifts and abilities at their discretion. Then if they cannot use me or wish not to be bothered by me they can turn me down. This would free me from having to “participate” in the manufactured program but would also alleviate the obligation on my part and I would no longer be, as Dr. Missler has stated in several of his lecture, “defrauding the local assembly.”

There is one particular church that springs immediately to mind that is close to both of my locations. I can present myself as a research assistant (or in any other capacity) to help the pastor or the congregants in any way they need. Then pray about it and submit (not to the pastor or congregation) or even agree with what I consider an artificial program, but to a clear conscience before God.

(Caveat: Interestingly enough, I stopped working on this question and went to the website for this particular local church, went to their YouTube channel and started the latest video and immediately the Pastor stated, “if anyone has any questions about the church or ways you can serve or become more involved feel free to contact me.” Serendipitous, I think, no? He’s never asked this question before on his videos).

Lastly, Dr. Missler stated in the lecture that the way for an individual to keep pure was found in Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word. With my whole heart I have sought you; let me not wander from your commandments!”

I’m not certain this is all there is to it, unless I have deluded myself into believing that I’m actually already doing this when I’m not. I will need to pray about this and if I’m not that God will reveal to me where I have errored.

Lecture 3 Discussion Questions

What would you describe as the most painful sin? Explain why.

Dr. Missler states in the lecture that the most painful sin is gossip or false witness. I can see how this would be possible, but I personally do not entertain gossip in my life (as far as I’m aware). Of course, I really have no social component to my personal life as a solitary contemplative. The majority (if not the entirety) of my interaction with other people is at work. This, of course, has lessened greatly with the reduction of my hours and with the days in which I work (the opposite of most everyone else). I do discuss with the few co-workers that I work with issues and actions of other co-workers and the decisions made by management, as it pertains to our work environment. This could range from who is working, what shortages in personnel we will experience on a given day, and if a particular employee is someone that can be depended on while on shift. I am fortunate enough that all the work that I’m assigned to complete is assigned only to me. There is no work that flows to the other shift of employees, nor is there anyone on my shift that I share work with. The other employees that are working on my shift, unfortunately, must share their work with others on the same shift and on the opposite shift (I cannot imagine working like that – knowing that there will always be 80% of the people trying to get over and 20% of the people having to do their work and the work of the 80% as well).

But, pertaining to peoples’ personal lives or character or actions in their personal life, I could care less and don’t believe I engage in discussion with others. I am a critic of my employer and management, up and to the point that their decisions often make work life arbitrarily more difficult, either because management is oblivious to these dynamics or because they are trying to “save” money.

I do not have a personal “church” life, which appears to be a large part of where gossip occurs. In my past experiences I don’t remember being involved in this, though, I had heard about comments other members had made about this or that. In my past experiences, though, I typically interacted with the clergy or the formal or informal leadership directly, so I was not involved much with the other parishioners. I think people typically do not include me in these things because they probably know I have no interest in such discussions, or they avoid me altogether because they know I’m going to discuss the latest discovery I’ve made in my studies (or I want to practice my Greek on them – that always gets them running).

My life, though, at this point is absent of gossip as much as I’m aware of. I wonder if I should not discuss the work-related issues with co-workers, but when it does tends to have a bearing on our work or how we will have to complete our work or why there will be roadblocks or challenges in finishing our work. So, I don’t know where the line is between relevant discussion and gossip.

Personally, betrayal has been more severe for me in my life. I’ve been betrayed by pretty much everyone in my life up to this point. My parents. My siblings. My (then) spouse. My stepchildren. My elders or “pastors.” My employers. Even my own government betrayed me when I needed them most (and refused to provide for my medical needs when they promised to do so in my youth).

I’ve ended up concluding in this life that no one can be trusted. Every institution, every form of norm or custom seems to be a scam of some kind or other (including: marriages, funerals, public education, higher education, employment, modern churches, law enforcement, military, government).

I have been severely wounded by other people in life, which is part of my desire to be alone, to live alone, and to pursue Christ and God alone. Though, it is only a reason why these approaches appear attractive as I’ve always been drawn, prone, called, or dispositioned toward a solitary lifestyle. From an early age I preferred my own company to the company of others. From early on I daydreamed about building a cabin out in the woods and living as a recluse. I even looked at cabins with my parents when I was 17 just before I went into the military. My plan was to stay in the military for 20 years and then retire and buy one of those cabins and write books the rest of my life. I ended up with property on the same lake where I had looked 30 years before (those cabins that were $40,000 then are now $150,000 – so I bought raw land to build my own hermitage on instead). I did not stay in the military for 20 years though, and have very little in net worth. But the draw to the solitary life is just as strong now as it was then.

What should be your proper response to slander? Explain why.

I really just ignore it. In the past I’ve either just went back to work when the conversation swerved toward these topics, or gave a reason for my exist. To be honest, though, I can’t remember really a time when I heard slander or gossip.

I’ve had legitimate issues with employees or co-workers in the past and have address those issues with management. I don’t consider these to be slander. There was a time at my current employer where an employee was undependable and produced substandard work. The only other person I would speak about this employee to (beside management) was another employee that had to deal directly with our work and was constantly having to return work because of the poor performance of this one employee. The employee was allowed to produce substandard work because the director of the company had a personal prohibition against firing people (surprisingly not the first director that I’ve run across who had that personal rule to their management of a company).

When I was married I would discuss everything and everyone with my wife. But I do not count this as gossip as much as venting out of frustration because I was stuck in terrible employment or because the inlaws or my parents were driving me crazy with irrational or unreasonable expectations. We would discuss the issues and try to find resolutions.

Personally, I like Dr. Missler’s approach. “Have you talked to about it?” This tends to shut people up quite quickly. And once the gossipers know you are not interested in gossiping, they stop initiating gossip with you.

What should be our response to evil leadership? Explain why.

This is so difficult. I’ve had several evil or dishonest or immoral leadership in my life. I’ve had bosses who had personal lives that were full of drugs and adultery. I’ve had bosses that were Hitlers and bosses that were terrified of their own shadow and wouldn’t address an issue or problem to save their life. Mostly my leadership has been focused on the bottom line at the expense of employee well-being.

There are two responses for a Christian. They can either endure the evil leadership and try to be an example in your response or (and I think this is the option most people should choose if they can) find new leadership (i.e. a new job).

While I was in the military I had to spend 4 years under the leadership of people I did not respect. I had no choice and had to do the very best with the people I was given. But, from that experience, I realized afterward, no matter what job I found myself in, I could leave and find another job somewhere else. I was not bound by a particular job (or the job’s terrible leadership). In fact, every time I’ve left a job I’ve ether had a new job to go to or God provided me a new job within a month. I’ve never actually gone hungry or been unable to pay my expenses. Currently, I purposefully have at least a year’s worth of expenses saved in cash just in case something ever happened to my current job. That would give me a year to look for the right replacement job (especially in this new environment) or it would give me a year to get my house cleaned up and sold so I could retire and not worry about future employment.

The stark reality, I think, for much of the world today is there is no such thing as non-evil leadership. To be in leadership is to be compromised by something. Employees are increasingly being compared to robots and are seen as a negative cost rather than an asset to the company overall. There is no loyalty from companies any longer and no benefits. I think, all things being equal, individuals (especially Christians) should look to ways of escaping employment or having leadership over them altogether. There will come a time when to be a Christian means we will not be employable or be able to have a bank account or buy and sell. I think those times will come soon.

How would you explain and compare the phrases, “sincere milk of the Word” (1 Pet 2:2) with “strong meat”? (Heb 5:12-14)

τὸ λογικὸν ἄδολον γάλα = pure milk of the word is in stark comparison to what came immediately before it, “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.” The allusion is to pure milk of the word (so the teaching of the Bible that nourishes the babe in Christ as does a mother’s breast milk for an infant). The opposite of these worldly, fleshing activities or traits is the beginning of life in the faith (not of any religion but of a pursuit of God in spirit and in truth).

στερεᾶς τροφῆς = the solid food is that which lies beyond the “first principles” or “elementary principles.” These are beyond the basic teachings of the gospel (i.e. repentance, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection, eternal judgment) and delves deeper, leading one on to “perfection” τελειότητα, which is a maturity in both thought and behavior.

Sanctification is the aim of both of these, yet the former must proceed the latter, and yet there seems to be a tendency of the Christian to remain mired in the milk without moving on to the deeper well of knowledge of Christ and toward what it is we will become, which is expressed in 1 John 3:2-3 “…now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

What do 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9-10; and 1 Peter 2:11 reveal about your place, or current position in Christ?

These are very intense passages describing who we are as Christians from a cosmic perspective rather than an earthly one. For Peter uses several descriptors “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people,” and states what it is we are being formed into, “being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.”

From an earthly perspective we are not of this world. We are (or should be) “strangers,” not “conforming to this world” (Ro 12:2). We are to be ready to go, to leave, to not be settlers who have turned inward and made a home here, but have been made “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). Pilgrims in every sense of the word. Moving through this world but not be ensnared by it. For our “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20).

We are, as this new “thing” offering up “spiritual sacrifices” that are acceptable to God (only through Christ) in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) rather than in the shadow of the things to come (Col 2:17; He 10:1).

Share some personal examples of how your everyday works can exemplify, or witness, your faith in Christ.

Personally, not by much, nor do I attempt to go out of my way to proclaim Christ to my coworkers. I’m convinced that, while I am protestant in theology and doctrine (more so in opposing the Catholic heresy rather than affirming evangelicalism as orthodoxy), I am certainly in no way an evangelical. I do not accept that every Christian is given the gift or task of evangelism. Ephesians 4:11-16 is quite clear on this. The great commission was given to the 12 apostles and they completed their mission and spread the gospel throughout the world.

Direct evangelism is not the only mechanism by which people are saved. I was saved by reading a chapter in the Bible while sitting in a room by myself. There were no external influences on me. Only the text I was reading and the Holy Spirit. We are now seeing many in the Middle East coming to a faith in Christ through dreams and visions, which does not happen routinely in American Christianity. God will fulfill his purpose. His word goes out and does not return void (Isa 55:11). There are some who are called to evangelism, yes. There maybe even be many who are called to proclaim the gospel. But not everyone is called to do so. I’m not certain why this doctrine has become such an oppsession within American evangelicalism (though it is waning instead for centralized mega-church, multi-campus emotion centers in these modern times). It is my hope that this is an indication of the forming of the world religion that the anti-christ will use to unite the earth dwells and means that the rapture is near. It would be a great relief to not have to endure 20 or 30 more years of this godforsaken world.

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

Nothing in this lecture really stuck out for me (I’m surprised). Maybe in the next lecture.

Lecture 4 Discussion Questions

What is your most important stewardship? Explain your response.

Dr. Missler states that our most important stewardship is our heart. I would concur if the heart is a euphemism for the soul, the core of the personality, the seat of the emotions (though he does indicate that the emotions derive from the flesh – I would disagree), the origin of aspiration and desire (good or bad). The stewardship of this “core” of the person is the most important, since, as Jesus put it, “for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts” (Matt 15:18). We need to ensure that we set God apart in our heart (at our core). God is to be the first and more precious of our pursuits in life. Above family. Above spouse. Above career or material possessions. Above fame or influence. Above hobby. Above worldly lusts.

Once our priorities are established correctly (which can only be done after rebirth, since the spiritual cannot be discerned by the worldly), we then need to be sure that we are able and ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ. Why are we convinced that Jesus died and and was resurrected by God on the third day and then ascended to heaven (and, ultimately, that he will return for us at the second coming, at the resurrection and rapture of the saints)? Do we believe this because the Scriptures predicted and predict these things? Do we believe because it was what we were taught as children in Sunday school? Do we believe it because our pastor or some other individual teaches it and we think those people are great?

Lastly, we are not to take on the name of Christ (or be considered or named a Christian or follower of Jesus) and do so in vain. Do we proclaim to be a Christian yet can be found at the bar every night? Do we say we are a believer but cheat on our wife or husband, or cheat in business? Do we say we are a believer but in some way by our behavior say to everyone watching that we really don’t believe (i.e. live in the world making use and taking advantage of all its trappings)?

Many claim to be Christian who, by their actions, are clearly not. Many claim to be Christian yet have never read through the Bible even once completely, let alone saturate their minds with daily, systematic reading and study.

Dr. Missler points out that there really are two ways to prepare oneself to present a defense for why you believe what you believe. You can organize your arguments like a lawyer does for his courtroom appearances (apologetics) or you can simply devote yourself to a daily, lifelong intimate study of the Bible, systematically going through the text, contextually, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book and let your defense form organically.

Personally, I study the Bible not for apologetic purposes. I study it epistemologically, wanting to answer the myriad of questions I have, and to uncover and discover the truth of Scripture which is the reality of both the physical universe and supernatural realm and to, ultimately, begin along the process of my transformation from mortal to immortal. I desire to be done with this debased and corrupted existence and to put on immortality.

What is the significance and purpose of baptism and describe its relationship to the doctrine of salvation?

To be honest, I really don’t understand the significance of baptism, other than what Peter states, it is “an antitype…a good conscience toward God” (1 Pe 3:21). It points to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It points to the power that was responsible for the resurrection of Christ.

Baptism itself does not save anyone, or really “do anything” to the individual. Though it is an act of submission and obedience to Christ. I do not think it is necessary for salvation since it does not appear in the gospel (Ro 10:9; 1 Co 15:3). Personally, anyone who was a new believer in Christ who had not been baptized, I would read with them Acts 8:26-39 and then ask them if they desired to be baptized.

I was attending a missionary church in Europe after having just landed from the States (while in the military). The person I road with (who was also a new believer) was asked by the pastor if he wanted to be baptized. He stated yes. The pastor then turned to me and asked me, “Would you also like to be baptized?” I thought for a brief moment on the question and then felt the strongest conviction to do so. There were three of us that were baptized (I think) the next Sunday (no doctrine, no classes, just a belief in the gospel and having a confession before men). We were all strangers at that point.

As already stated, I do not understand baptism. I’m thankful that God put me in a place at a time when I could be baptized in the purest way without any real doctrine or dogma added to it. Unfortunately, I did discover later, the church in question uses baptism as a means of automatically making the individual a “member” in the church. When I discovered this I immediately had a negative reaction. I stated I never was asked to become a member, it was not a membership by consent. My greatest protest to this was that “membership” in a church is not in the Bible anywhere. This is a doctrine of men. If you are saved, if you confess Christ before others, you are part of the “universal” church that Jesus is building. I see this as distinct from the modern expression we see today that is called “church.”

Explain how you view God’s “chain of command” in marriage and why this is important. Use Scripture to justify your response.

This is a difficult subject for me. I waited a long time to get married and thought I had married rightly before God, making a good choice. Apparently, I had no idea what I was doing or that my choices of spouse or other peoples’ character is faulty in some way. Personally, I think I take people (or used to) at their word. This is rather gullible given the times in which we live. Personally, in retrospect, I think everyone is untrustworthy and just because someone says they want something doesn’t mean they are being honest.

If I were to marry again I would want a wife that was my best friend in the Lord. Someone who was a devout and Godly woman, who was immersed in Scripture (not for anyone else, but because of her own relationship with God), and who lived out that knowledge and relationship in authentic ways.

I am convinced, by Scripture, that in marriage, the husband is to be the head of the marriage and is to die for his spouse. The wife is to be in submission to her husband. In reality, I think this is rare in relationships. I don’t think there are very many men who are actually dying to themselves for the sake of their wives or families, and likewise I think most women are in rebellion to their husbands.

Yet, there is an aspect of a chosen state of being in life that often goes unexplored in evangelicalism or is down right avoided or shunned. The eunuch. The individual who is called by God to remain single for the duration of their lives. Given Paul and Christ’s comments on this subject, I am convinced this is the preferred state for most individuals because most people cannot live as a married couple in a healthy (biblical) way. Most marriages are built on and are lived out through the selfishness of two individuals, with both people taking advantage of the other. As Paul states, “I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord…he who is married cares about the things of the world” (1 Co 7:32-33).

I personally see marriage as a weakness, as Paul states, “it is good if (the unmarried and widows) remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Co 7:8-9). It is a temporary, worldly state, which is often misunderstood to be eternal. But marriages will not extend into the afterlife, as our transformation will ultimately sever those worldly ties (Matt 22:30; Mark 12:25). The individual who does not pursue earthly relationships is free to devote themselves entirely to the Lord, to God’s business. The one who is married is taking on distraction, “how he may please his wife” or “how she may please her husband.” Paul considered marriage to be a leash, “I say this for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction” (1 Co 7:35).

If my destiny is to be “like the angels” when I am revealed as a Son of God, then it stands to reason (at least for me) that I can circumvent the entire distraction of marriage or raising children in the first place and focus my sanctification on becoming like Christ and drawing closer to what it is I will be changed into at his revealing. Some seem to think that marriage is a better way of sanctification, but Paul does not see to view it as such. He sees it as a distraction. Jesus saw it as a weakness (Matt 19:8-12).

Discuss and explain your reasons why it is important to keep a good conscience even when enduring persecution or harsh ridicule.

If one is punished or endures persecution or some sort of slight because they’ve done something wrong, they are receiving “what is due.” You are being punished as a law breaker or wrongdoer. But if you are being punished for something you did not do (in the context of Christ or the faith) then you are suffering inappropriately and this is considered by God to be “sharing in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Pe 4:13; Ro 8:17; 2 Co 1:7).

Dr. Missler states that “the best defense from slander is to be innocent.” I somewhat disagree with this. There is a Bible reference that is passed around especially among fundamentalists that I heard quite frequently as a new believer. It states, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Th 5:23 KJV). This was interpreted as not doing anything that appears to others as if you are sinning (even if you may not be sinning). I took issue with this reference (and interpretation) when, while working at a car wash and washing a young lady’s windshield, another male customer became very upset with me. When I moved on to his car he made a comment that I had spent too much time on the woman’s car because I was looking down her shirt. I tried to explain to him that I was not doing that, but that I was spending the same amount of time on her windshield as I do everyone’s windshield. Of course, this incident speaks much more about the male customer’s proclivity to ogle at women in public (something I personally make a point not to do, to the point that people have commented about how I physically turn my gaze away from women out in public). There was no convincing this guy, though. He was completely convinced that I was ogling this young woman through the windshield. After everyone left, the verse in question immediately sprung to mind. It was impossible to “abstain from all appearance of evil” because “appearance” was completely subjective. No matter how hard I might try, no matter how innocent my action might be, there would always be someone who saw my action as evil rather than as it was truly intended.

After researching the verse, though, I discovered that it is a poor translation in the KJV. In other translations it is not “appearance” but “every form” or “every kind.” This is possible since it is in my control to avoid every kind or every form of evil. Regardless of what someone else might assume or interpret, I can do what is right before God (who sees all and weighs the heart).

What eschatological lessons can you take from the record of the flood of Noah?

Just as Noah was living in a time that was hostile to a godly life, so do we increasingly find ourselves in a culture that is outwardly and actively hostile to living as a biblical Christian (as to distinguish from cultural Christians who live like the world does). Everything we do we find ourselves at odds against the world, against cultural norms, against the moral ethical standards that the world thinks is right. It is getting to the point that they are even calling what is evil good and what is good evil. The world is ascribing to delusions of thinking, tossing reason aside and following after futile arguments that make no sense and go against logic, nature, and God’s rule and truth.

In Matt 24:37 we see “As the days of Noah were, so shall the days of the Son of Man be.” The world will return to the degradation that it once entertained in the old world. Those individuals who are lost and destined to perish will act as those who perished in the flood. Those who would be preserved will act as those who were persevered through the flood (8 individuals). Interestingly, we see a glimpse of the church in Enoch who was removed (raptured) prior to the flood.

Who were the “spirits” to whom Jesus “preached in prison,” after His resurrection. Discuss your reasons why He did this. (1 Pet 3:19)

Personally, I am convinced that these “spirits” are those fallen angels from Genesis 6:2 who bred with human women and produced the Nephilim. We are told in Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4 that these creatures were imprisoned in Tartarus for their actions and are being held there under “blackness of darkness by eternal chains” awaiting judgment day.

I hold to this interpretation because it makes the most logical sense out of all the references, plus it also includes the fact that humans do not have a second chance to be saved after they die. I would argue that Jesus did actually go to Hades (more specifically Paradise, the portion of Hades that reside those individuals who are saved from all dispensations), and he declared his victory to all who were present in Hades (the saints in Paradise, the lost in torment, and the fallen angels in Tartarus). This is important acknowledgment that he would do this since those in the intermediate state do not have view over the happenings among the living.

Dr. Missler made the statement that “Christ did not go down to Hades to preach to the lost, but this reference points back to Christ preaching through Noah.” I’m not sure if he was trying to just explain a theory or if Dr. Missler believes this. I would disagree. I think Jesus spent three days in Hades declaring his victory over death and over Satan, which would ultimately be victory for all who are saved (and even those who are lost since eventually everyone will be resurrected either in the first or second resurrection). Of course, he did not have victory at the time he was declaring it while in Hades. It was not until God the Father raised him from the dead on the third day that he experienced the victory over death.

Lastly, whether or not Jesus led the saints out of Paradise when he left is, I think, unclear if not troublesome. First, he did not go to heaven directly from Hades on the third day. He returned to the earth. Likewise, there is no text or reference to this jailbreak in the Scripture. It is an assumption made based on several references that when we die we are with the Lord. There is a possibility that in the intermediate state we experience some kind of communion with Christ, being part of the church, or by being part of the saved (in general from every dispensation). Without direct evidence though from the text, this is conjecture at best. In my view, all those who have died are still being held captive by death in Hades.

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

I found the dispensational gaps of Scripture quotes quite fascinating. The fact that there are 24 is intriguing, though I would need to do some more study to verify this assertion. It’s quite possible there are more (or maybe less).

The list given, though, does not seem to include both the OT reference and the NT reference quoting the OT reference. I have access to every place the NT quotes the OT. But it would take quite a bit of effort to go through all of these (over 300) to find if the NT author left a portion of the quoted text off.

I do personally find Jesus’ quote of Isaiah quite fascinating and convincing.

Lecture 5 Discussion Questions

How does God use suffering in the lives of believers? Share some of your own experiences.

There are several different purposes for suffering specific to the believer.

1. It often is used by God to prevent us from slipping further into sin. He uses it as a kind of preventative measure. For me, personally, I am convinced this is why God does not “bless” me with an abundance of wealth. Throughout my life I have attempted to build businesses, secure more lucrative employment, and even ‘strike it rich” with sweepstakes or (occasionally) purchasing lottery tickets. I write and publish books and for several years I read any business or self-help book I could get my hands on with the goal of becoming a millionaire (who am I kidding? I would settle for $100k easily). None of these efforts have produced their desired results. But, looking back, I am convinced that God has consistently provided me with a means of paying for my expenses, and has always given a provision for whatever I need (and for many of my wants as well). I have never gone a day without food. I have never been without a warm, dry, “safe” place to live. Today I have an incredible lifestyle virtually free of stress. I am basically retired (work 2 days / wk) and have much more money coming in than going out. I may not be “rich” but I am without need or want. I think this is by desire from God. I think if he were to allow me to gain financial independence (whether from the lottery or becoming successful at writing, or launching a successful business) the influence of money on my mind and my life and my choices would lead to disastrous results and magnify the sin that I already struggle with in my life even more. Though, looking at it, I struggle with the idea that I’m “suffering” without wealth.

2. Suffering is also given to believers to prepare them so they can be a benefit to others in the future. It is a kind of training so we have experience in a given area. As Dr. Missler states, “you may have to go through a bankruptcy so you can later help others who have to go through a bankruptcy.” I’m not certain this is a legitimate reason why God gives us suffering. It’s possible that it is, but I’ve never actually seen it play out in my own life.

3. Some people would argue that suffering is given by God as a punishment for sin. This may be true for the non-believer, who is under the wrath of God. But I’m not certain God does this for Christians, since “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Ro 8:28). If we are constantly being moved, prodded, influenced by the Holy Spirit toward our ultimate good (not necessarily with a focus on this earthly life), then nothing happens in our life that is not, as Dr. Missler stated in the lecture, “Father filtered.” I’ve watched countless times in my own life as situations arise, events occur, struggles emerge that I would in my own thinking avoid like the plague. Some are minor inconveniences, others are major shifts in where I work or where I live or in my marriage, etc. These may, on the surface, appear to be net-negative. The dissolution of a marriage is not a positive experience. But, even though it certainly couldn’t be said that God instigated my marriage breaking up since he hates divorce (but I would argue he did), he also moves and arranges circumstances and events and situations in such a way that the net-negative of a divorce ultimately works out to be a net-positive for my own life. I don’t know if I can say the same for my ex-spouse who initiated the breakup because she wanted to go back to her old, pre-christian life. Maybe she’s better off. I don’t know. That is her story between her and God. All I know, with certainty, is that the divorce freed me from a terribly stressful relationship that was hurting and damaging everyone in its sphere. We could have theoretically fixed the marriage. I attempted to do so on several occasions (seeking counseling, praying, discussion, etc) but, ultimately, my wife decided she did not want the relationship to work (or she refused or was unable to do what it would take to make it work). Personally, I think every event, every moment in a Christian’s walk through life has been preordained by God and we are simply “walking in them” (Eph 2:10).

In what ways can a Christian be a “partaker of Christ’s sufferings”? Explain.

This is a peculiar concept that I find in the NT. On the one hand, there is nothing we can add to the work on the cross. It is distinct and indivisible, wholly and completely separate from any efforts on our part, as Paul describes, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”(Eph 2:8-9). But, it’s also clear 1. The world hates the biblical Christian. 2. It was predicted beforehand that we would be hated for the sake of Christ.

I don’t think it is something we should be striving for or looking for, to suffer needlessly. But, simultaneously, it is not something that we should avoid at all costs, either. It seems almost like a natural instinct for American Christians to shun genuine persecution or to conclude somehow that persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ is something that should be remedied. Western Christianity prays often to end Christian persecution in China, while Chinese Christians pray that their persecution would continue so that they can reach more people in their communities.

Secondly, is the one who has never experienced any kind of persecution or suffering for Christ, less of a Christian in God’s eyes? Less faithful? Less rewarded? Personally, I try to internalize Paul’s approach, “godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Ti 6:6-8). I do not look for persecution or suffering. I will seek to end persecution or suffering if I do experience it. But if it remains with me, especially if I am suffering explicitly because of my testimony of Jesus, then I will attempt to embrace that suffering as a gift from God.

Explain the term, “fiduciary,” and how it affects your life as a believer.

As a solitary (especially as one who exists in a predominately protestant, extroverted context) I struggle with this idea that I must look out for the needs and good of other believers. It’s not that I do not want people saved, but I find little benefit in interacting with others directly. Much of my experience with local churches in the past, I’ve come away with the distinct impression that they have no interest in my involvement. This is especially true for the typical pastor or teacher or modern church leader who is entrenched in a non-biblical form of professional clergy. I’ve had pastors come to me and say things like, “I want you to start speaking more from the pulpit” yet, despite their words, everything else about them is screaming out that they want nothing to do with me. A biblical message is no longer acceptable in many if not most modern expressions of Christianity in western society. I think this is specifically because, for western Christianity to actually become “biblical” it would require the dismantling of much of what is viewed as evangelical protestantism.

Additionally, I struggle with the idea that, as Dr. Missler often claims, “If you are not involved in a local fellowship, then you are defrauding the family of believers?” 1. Why is there this insistence on “local?” 2. Why is direct interaction with a body of believers the only means by which authentic interaction can be achieved?

Can an individual who is a professing Christian be a part of the body of Christ through writing, through prayers, through giving? Why the insistency on gathering together in a room at a specific time and place to often perform or participate in poorly executed rituals? If I write a blog post and it is read by 100 people across the globe and encourages many of them in some way in their faith, is this not building up the body of Christ? Would it actually not be more effectual than if I were to go to a local congregation and sit in a pew, sing a few songs, listen to the sermon, and then leave?

I understand that a Christian’s life cannot consist of consumption of truth only. As Paul describes, “though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God” (He 5:12). Community is necessary. But, there are means by which community exist that go beyond limited, local, direct interaction. Meeting in an online “chat” room is potentially community. Meeting asynchronously on a discussion forum is likewise potentially community. Reading books and then responding to what you read through blog posts, or writing your own books is also potentially community that has been expanded through both space and time. Yet, it is nonetheless community despite it’s participants never having met face to face. With the technological advancements we have today (that continue to move forward on an exponential pace), I have at my fingertips on multiple types of devices that are with me at all times access to the very best preaching, teaching, and resources available to man. In fact, I have at my fingertips and for very little cost the whole of human knowledge. I have, with very little friction, the ability to publish to the global audience teaching, ideas, thoughts, and also can carry out detailed and in-depth discussions with people from all walks of life and from any geographical location.

There is additionally another issue that causes increasing problems with the idea that if I do not associate “locally” with a body of believers that I’m somehow cheating that body. In this day and age, especially in more rural areas, there are very limited meetings available to fellowship with. In my own town, several churches have closed and sold their properties, their buildings being turned into office space or torn down altogether. Similarly, at least in Western societies, there is a fracturing of fellowships into narrower and narrower divisions, to the point that each fellowship has their own often “unspoken” theology. Adhering to a biblical theology is often shunned and considered argumentative to the local leadership.

Lastly, as I am convinced of my calling to the contemplative vocation, I do not naturally or purposefully find myself or position myself in the company of others. In fact, I often go out of my way to avoid entertaining strangers or even those I’m well acquainted with. Part of this is my disposition (whether that is the result of environment or divine construction I do not know) as I have been blessed by the absence of a need to socialize with others. I also have been drawn (for right or wrong) toward monasticism, most specifically, toward the spiritualism of the desert fathers. Throughout my 20’s I struggled to find a place in evangelicalism. Yet, throughout that time of working with and serving in those organizations, I always felt fake, insincere, and out of joint. It was not until I discovered monasticism (which evangelicalism actively shuns) that I felt truly at home in my own skin, and felt as if I had a purpose. It is certainly possible that this is not a call from God but a thorn of the flesh or some kind of malformation of the spirit within me or of my personality or a personal peccadillo that, through the indwelling of the spirit, I was supposed to overcome. This will be something I stand for before God if, indeed, it is true. But, it does seem counterproductive for God to create me a particular way so that I am fighting within and with myself throughout my life, if I am to eventually end up “saved” from even myself. But, I can certainly see (as God does frequently), making those who are destined to be lost (vessels of wrath) into all forms of malformations, aberrations, peculiarities to say the least.

But, are there those who profess Christ as Lord who will end up in the Lake of Fire? Certainly (Matt 25:41). I think this is why Paul encourages us to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:12).

Are we human flesh undergoing a spiritual experience or spiritual beings undergoing a human experience? Explain your response.

If we pre-existed before conception in the womb (the defined process of inserting the soul and spirit into the body) then we are certainly “supernatural beings” existing in a physical dimensionality. But, if our existence began at conception, and we are (unlike Adam) born after the image of Adam and in his likeness (as opposed to being made “in the image” of God and according to god’s “likeness”) then it could be argued that we are actually physical, fleshly creatures with an in-dwelt soul that will one day become “supernatural” (I use the term supernatural rather than spiritual because of the too common misuse of the term spiritual to equate ethereal).

We have an animating spirit from God at birth that quickens the body to life (the soul can apparently exist without the spirit), but the human condition requires the rebirth of the spirit and even the soul (unclear if the soul itself was corrupted by the fall), so that our spirit is replaced with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But, we likewise are given a new heart, which certainly must be euphemistic for some portion or component of the soul (not the literal blood pumping muscle in the chest). So with this the soul is transformed, is renewed, is replaced or a subset component of it that is designated as its core or essential essence of the individual that has been corrupted by the fall and sin.

We are certainly fleshly humans undergoing a spiritual transformation. We are born fleshly. We have only known an existence in the context of the flesh. As John puts it, “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). We have no means capable of conceptualizing what we will be changed into because we really don’t know, at the core, who or what Jesus truly or fully is.

But, we are also beings that were originally designed (as Adam) to be supernatural creatures, to dwell in direct communion with God, to exist in the supernatural realm (and maybe the physical realm simultaneously). But, I think the fall transformed the physical realm into something that could not be inhabited by spiritual beings if they were simultaneously existing in the supernatural realm. It’s seems to be one or the other. Though, there are instances in the Bible where we see the two worlds to some extent collide (2 Ki 6:17).

I would argue (without taking more time to think through the concepts more thoroughly) that we are actually both. We were supernatural beings or were intended to be such when God predestined us before we existed. Yet, we were subsequently born into a fallen world, a fallen dimensionality, and were caught under the sway of death, in a death filled and death captive world, where my true intended form never actually could materialize. Because of the consequences of the fall and the entrance of death into the physical universe, I am forever unable to become what I was intended to be as a supernatural being. I will suffer under decay and will eventually die, my body and soul and spirit will separate from each other, and I will become a disembodied soul existing (without being a living being any longer) in an intermediate state, held captive between life and judgment. This intermediate state will imprison me in Hades, either in paradise or in torment for the duration of human history. If no judgment were to come, I would exist in this disembodied state perpetually, which is apparently Satan’s plan to rid the physical universe of human beings (why remains unclear). Only Christ’s power over death, in that God the Father raised him from the dead, will raise us either at the first resurrection and rapture or at the final judgment. It is at this point that we will know what we are and who we are fully. I can only assume all the unanswered questions will finally be answered and we will be made aware of God’s complete purpose and plan for us going forward.

What makes your use of your spiritual gift(s) important to the Body of Christ? Share some personal examples.

Honestly, the entire subject of spiritual gifts makes sense theoretically but not practically. At least, not in my own life or in the life of those I’ve been around within the Christian community. What is the difference and how do we distinguish between a spiritual gift and innate, personal traits, or natural abilities? How do we even determine who has what individual gift? What about “so called” gifts (i.e. stammering, being slain, laughing in the spirit, unverifiable miracles) that really have nothing to do with the gifts we see being used in the biblical account?

For the longest time I thought I was given the gift of teaching. I thought I was being called to teach. But, after a lot of soul searching and consideration, prayer, and actually trying my hand at activity of teaching itself, I discovered I had very little interest or talent in the way of teaching. I was not only uncomfortable in this mode of instruction but I felt as if I had absolutely no business doing it.

To this day I don’t know what my spiritual gift(s) would be. I thought it might be writing, but there is no gauge in which to determine if this be so. Financial or commercial success is no measure. There are multitudes of writers and authors “for the church” who should not write another word, given the heresy they teach in their books, but they are wildly successful. For awhile I thought maybe I just needed to find the right mechanism to teach. But, really, there is no audience that wants to hear what I would say. I found this to be the case in local churches as well (which I’m completely okay with because I do not have a a conviction drawing me to teach the same way I’m drawn to the desert places).

Is it possible that my gift is to separate myself from the world? Did God save me at 17 to preempt what I would have otherwise done in life? Did he save me to in turn save others? At this time I have no idea what my purpose is in the church universal and especially in any local church. My experiences during my 20’s and into my 30’s illustrated for me that 1. The church is a magnet for all kinds of non-biblical beliefs and, quite frankly, people who are suffering from mental illness (maybe I’m one of them). 2. The local church leadership has no interest in how I interpret or understand the Bible, they just want me to submit to their “program,” which is typically about raising funds for a building project or building the church financially so they can hire more staff. Sermons seem geared overwhelmingly for people who spend little to no time actually reading the Bible for themselves, and are often so shallow theologically that they make little to no sense.

I can’t, in good conscience, participate in these kinds of activities. Yet, there really is no other place within the visible body of Christ where I “fit” or feel as if I belong or where I feel I am accepted.

Not only do I not know what my spiritual gifts are, but I wouldn’t even know where to exercise them if I did.

With so many conflicting worldviews today, how can sincere people know what to believe? Explain your perspective.

Personally, I cling to the Bible and to it alone. It is my final authority. Through prayer I struggle with my beliefs, trying to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. This is one of the primary reasons I started taking classes at KI. I’ve always wanted to, but after I finished my MTS and ThD, there were so many holes left from “official” training and so many questions left unanswered that I knew I wanted and needed to continue my studies. The one thing that was really lacking in both seminary programs was a contextual, book by book analysis of the 66 books of the Bible. I knew this was available at KI and I had decided before I ever started my doctorate that I would afterwards continue “post-graduate” studies at KI to fill those gaps.

Not only do I not know if what I currently believe is true, but I have no way to determined what is actually true. I can only cling to the supernatural experience I had at 17, that it was truly from God, and that this “god” was the God of the Bible (since that experience pointed me to the Bible). So my confidence is based on 2 elements 1. Supernatural intervention by God which genuinely transformed me and which the transformation has lasted for 25+ years 2. That intervention place within me an insatiable thirst for God’s word. I have to trust that God will, by the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, lead me in the correct direction, along the right path of truth, and will keep me from delusion or shipwreck.

Salvation and faith in Christ was not something I wanted, nor was it something I sought after at 17. Yet, faith was given to me, fully formed, and salvation is, by the Scripture, my inheritance because of that faith that was given as a gift. I had no say in it. I had no ability to refuse. I was predestined and preordained to walk in this underwhelming life that I’ve walked. It is God’s plan, this life I now live and what I happen to believe. And those beliefs are not second hand folk theologies, or dogma handed down from family. They are born out from reading and studying the Bible and from seeing the world as I perceive it. It is possible that I have been given over to a great delusion. I will find out the moment after my death.

I pray God will finish the work I can only assume he started in me at 17.

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

Dr. Missler states that 1 Peter 4:1 “arm yourselves also with this mind” is akin to saying that we should pick up the armor of God in Ephesians 6. The same mind, of course points logically to the suffering Christ endured. He states that “since Christ suffered for us in the flesh” that we should “arm ourselves also with the same mind” which results in “he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Why? How? So that “he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh.”

It is possible that Peter is referring to arming oneself with the armor of God from Paul’s letter. I don’t think so. I think he’s simply describing suffering that we should endure. The whole of this, though, is the end result, that we should spend the rest of our lives living for God rather than living in the flesh (or living like the rest of the world does).

More importantly, though, Dr. Missler mentions that the word here for “ceased” or πέπαυται indicates something that is happening to the person rather than something the person has done. We have been “released from” sin, not that we no longer sin at all. We know that if we claim that we do not sin we not only make Jesus a liar but we also deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8, 10). I know of one particular individual who claims that he does not sin at all since he’s become a Christian: Jesse Lee Peterson from the Fallen State YouTube channel.

I’ve struggled with this topic, though, because Dr. Missler often mentions this in passing, that we can somehow free ourselves from sin with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are certain sins that we fall into, that creep up on us. Many of these sins, though, have waned over the years as I grow in faith and in wisdom of the word of God. Behaviors that I used to stumble into in my youth no longer challenge me. Occasionally, I’ve been propositioned by people at work and I was able to quickly and relatively easily turn them down (something I would not have been able to do when I was in my 20’s). Not because they weren’t attractive or desirable (quite to the contrary). But because I’ve learned that these kinds of activities are not only harmful to myself and those around me but they are not actually at all as they appear. I’ve learned that there is deception in temptation, that it somehow appears more appealing, but when you give into it, the reality is quite different from what you perceived it to be.

But, there are perpetual or persistent sin that is engrained in the framework of my being, that seem to take on the characteristic of Paul’s complaint, “what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Ro 7:15). There is a set of behaviors that I “will to do” yet I do not practice them. What I hate, that I do continually, consistently, and almost instinctively, as if the flesh takes control or I am weak willed.

I can confidently say that sin has lessened in my life overall since becoming a believer. But, I cannot say that I have stopped sinning altogether. It certainly has not ceased, nor does it appears as if I have been released from the power of sin.

It is possible that I have been released from the power of sin to hold me perpetually captive, if indeed God does keep his promise in his Word and there is power in the resurrection to raise me up from death to life at the first resurrection. But, Paul states, “do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Ro 6:12). How is this even possible if he stated before, “what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do?” How are we to keep sin from reigning in us?

Dr. Missler talks about this often in passing but never really elaborates on it or provides any kind of practical examples. I know when I was married and working in a group home, I would ride around town in the van every day picking up clients. During those rides, especially during the summer, I noticed young women would often be jogging along the roadway, many of them wearing very little in the way of clothing or very tight, revealing clothing. Personally, I think they do this so men will look at them, but I recognized that I could not control what they did, but I could control what I did. During my time at that job, I developed the habit of consciously turning my gaze away from such provocateurs whenever we crossed their path, to the point that the van driver noticed me doing it one day and mentioned it to my wife (who also worked for the company). Personally, I was not doing it for his benefit or that he might see me doing it. I did not make it a spectacle or say anything. It was something I did out a natural response to conform to image that Christ wanted to reshape me into. To this day I still do the same (because there are still just as many women out dressed way too scantily on the roadways – in my opinion).

Is this the secret to not letting sin reign in our mortal bodies? Habit. Taking captive all the thoughts in our minds (2 Co 10:5)? If it is, why do I resist it? Why am I willing to do the one (looking away while driving) but not taking captive the other thoughts that occur in my daily life?

If there is a remedy I would certainly like to know.

Lecture 6 Discussion Questions

Can a “Christian” fall? Explain how that can happen.

First off, we need to define “fall.” Are we describing the commission of sin? Then, yes, certainly. As Paul states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro 3:23). Even John remarks, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jo 1:7 – despite his multiple statements concerning the inability of believers to commit sin: 1 Jo 3:6,9; 5:18). Paul goes to great lengths in his description of the war that rages on between the spirit and the flesh within his own body (Ro 7:19).

But, if we are referring to “fall” as in the loss of salvation, as Paul refers to the Israelites in Ro 11:11, then I would say, yes, it is possible that a believer can fall, ultimately losing his/her salvation in the process.

Paul places the power over our redemption in the hands of God alone (Ro 14:4). He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy and on whom he wills he hardens (Ro 9:18). But we are also warned in 1 Co 10:12, “he who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls.” Why would there be a word of caution if there was no means of actually falling in the first place? Paul makes it pretty clear, even in God’s sovereignty that a loss of what was attained has at least potentiality (Ro 11:21).

Additionally, there will be those in the end times who are convinced they are saved, who believe they are doing “service to God” (Jo 16:2) but who will ultimately be deceived and will fall away from the faith (2 Th 2:3). These he warns us will have no second chance at the gospel (He 6:6). In fact, during Paul’s time, there were some who had “shipwrecked their faith” (1 Ti 1:19) and some who had departed the faith entirely to follow after “deceiving spirits” and “doctrines of demons” (1 Ti 4:1-2), chasing an entirely different Gospel than the grace of Christ (we’ve all seen a multitude of these in our own time and throughout the history of the church). Paul states it outright, “you have fallen from grace” (Ga 5:4). He even entertains the idea that, despite his work in preaching to others, he himself might be in some way disqualified (1 Co 9:27).

I have not found a convincing argument for the concept of “eternal salvation” or “once saved, always saved.” I have been told by some that if someone comes to faith in Christ but then subsequently turns away, becomes an atheist, and even goes on to persecute the church the rest of their life, they will still be saved because it is a qualification based on a one time event. Of course, this ignores statements like, “if you continue” (Ro 11:22) and “if you abide” (Jo 8:31) and “if you hold fast” (1 Co 15:2; He 3:14) and “unless you believe in vain” (1 Co 15:2) and “we are not those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of our souls” (1 Th 10:39).

Salvation is based entirely upon faith (Eph 2:9), and it is faith specifically in the message of the gospel, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Ro 10:9). This is a continual faith. Salvation, in the end, is a mystery that will be revealed fully at the end of all things. I think some will be utterly and inconsolably surprised and heartbroken and disturbed by their loss (Matt 25:41)

But, of course, this is not the point of 2 Peter 1. He argues, “if you do these things you will never stumble” (2 Pe 1:10). This was his goal, to always provide a remembrance, to always stir up the believers in their faith.

Explain the four terms Peter uses for “power” and discuss how these terms differ in responding to each of the three key fronts of our spiritual warfare today.

Dr. Missler states there are four words centralized around power (though I’m not certain Peter actually uses each of these words). These are:

Dynamos = source of power
Kratos = switch
Ischus = empowerment
Exousia = authority

Then he states that in our spiritual fight we are warring against three foes:
1. The world (word of god – faith)
2. The flesh (cross – flee)
3. The devil (blood – fight)

I’m unclear, though, that these concepts are actually found in Scripture. I did find Dr. Missler’s book, “Power, Kingdom, Glory” mentioned in the lecture and at some point I will read through this to get a better understanding of these concepts.

Explain and share your understanding of the phrase, “a more sure word of prophesy.”(2 Pet 1:19)

The fact that the scriptural message “is not of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pe 1:20-21). This means it is a direct communication from God and is even better than eye witness testimony (which is still second hand).

How do you become a “partaker” of “the glory to be revealed” (1 Pet 5:1) and spiritually “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?” (2 Pet 3:18)

To become a partaker means to become a “partner.” That which we become a partner in is the “glory to be revealed,” this is “the revealing of the sons of God” (Ro 8:19). This is the transformation (1 Co 15:51), though I remain unclear on this point: doesn’t everyone who has ever lived become partakers of that transformation from mortal to immortal? But there are those who will be resurrected to eternal life and others to condemnation (John 5:9)? So, if this be true, then the “glory to be revealed” here Peter is referring to specifically the revealing of the Sons of God and not just the resurrection (or maybe to distinguish between the first and second resurrections).

Regardless, the only way to become a partner in the afterlife (presumably, partner with Christ) is to believe on him who raised him, that he raised him and to confess Jesus as Lord before men.

Lastly, how do we grow “in grace” and “in knowledge” of Jesus? To increase our knowledge of God and Jesus (or the entire biblical messages) of course requires one to invest time in study and reading of the Bible itself. Though, there were (maybe are) segments of the “church” in different eras (such as the early desert fathers) who had limited access to actual Bibles and relied more on verbal instruction, on memorization, and on simple prayers (i.e. Jesus Prayer). There were likewise the majority of NT believers who did not have the 66 books of the Bible as we do today. It would be difficult to conclude these groups were not “saved.” So, while study of the Bible is both effectual and encouraged, it is not essential to the Christian faith.

Personally, I liken growing in the knowledge of Christ to an active “pursuit of God.” This is what I term my own efforts to this end. To learn about Jesus. To better understand his message to me, to my generation, to the world. I seek him daily. I try to seek him through prayers. I try to seek him through devotional reading. I try to seek him through right actions and behaviors and through avoiding sinful or unhealthy behaviors. There is much more to the way of Christ than just forever learning knowledge and facts.

To grow in the grace of Christ, though, is a whole other endeavor. It requires the continued, daily, moment by moment surrendering of our personal will, of our desires, of our hopes, of our dependence on our own effort and on the “ways of the world” in exchange for trusting fully and wholly in Christ to provide, to protect, to guide, to direct our paths and steps. This is despite hardship, difficulty, persecution, or suffering. We are to trust Jesus in everything that occurs, knowing (and believing) that God is in control of everything that occurs in our lives and that everything has purpose and that purpose is for our ultimate benefit and good. Only by practicing this kind of trust and surrender can we grow in the grace of Christ and learn to depend more and more upon him rather than upon ourselves.

How do you know the Bible is the Word of God? Justify your response.

At the age of 17 I was transformed by a supernatural experience. It was not a vision or a prophecy nor did I see a dramatic apparition. Rather, circumstances mostly out of my control led me off of a literal mountaintop (where I was meditating) to a dark room at the local hospital where my girlfriend at the time was sleeping after having been in a severe auto accident. In the middle of the night I went to get some water and on my return to the room I spotted a Bible on the windowsill in the hallway. I was moved to grab the Bible (for no logical reason, I was a devout Zen Buddhist and had plans to enter the Buddhist monastery after graduation). When I sat back down I opened the Bible randomly to 2 Peter 2. Before reading the chapter I was a Buddhist. After reading it, my karmic worldview was somehow replaced with a theistic one. I could no longer meditate or practice the Martial Arts. I lost several friends because of my transformation. And I was given an insatiable thirst to read and study God’s Word. A conviction that the Bible is truly from God and that God is real and that the message of the Bible is accurate was instilled in me supernaturally at that moment. I’ve never been able to shake it. Not only did this experience remove my false beliefs (and bar me from slipping back into my old beliefs and old practices) but it also used the actual Scripture itself in that process.

Second, I know the Bible is the word of God because of it’s own testimony of itself. It states that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of god may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Ti 3:16). It also states, as we read in Peter, “no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pe 1:20). Additionally, the whole of the Bible, the stories themselves occurred by God’s predestination, becoming “examples, and were written for our admonition” (1 Co 10:11). These accounts are to guide our living while we are on this earth, to shape us, to spur our growth, to limit our wickedness, and to foster our transformation while we walk in the Spirit.

Third, I know the Bible is the Word of God because the new creation that is in me resinates with the message of the Bible. As Paul states, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Co 2:13-14). There were numerous times when I would attempt to read parts of the Bible before that fateful night in the hospital, but the message fell on deaf ears. It was gibberish. It made no sense to me and the people who called themselves Christians were the very worst kind of people, full of all sort of hypocrisy and judgmentalism and condemnation. It wasn’t until that transformative experience that I was reborn and suddenly the Bible opened up to me, made sense, truly resinated. I was night and day a different person before and after. I had been fundamentally and lastingly changed and not by learning or convinced through some kind of logic or thought process or reason. My faith and my belief and my life is illogical. There is no reason why I should be convinced of Christ’s work on the cross. Yet I am.

Lastly, the Bible is full of predictions, of prophecies. Many of these prophecies were written thousands of years ago, predicting the Christ, and Jesus has fulfilled many of these with his first coming, despite the details of his coming being concealed in the Old Testament by patterns and predictions and symbolism. Passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 2 I find quite convincing of the Bible’s overall accuracy and claims.

How would you defend the Biblical doctrine of the “Second Coming” in today’s “pagan” environment? Justify your response with Scripture.

The very fact that there is a “pagan” culture is predicted in the Bible, especially what can be seen occurring in the modern evangelical churches as they dilute their theology, pervert and water down the gospel message for the sake of their own appetites and greed.

As Paul puts it, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Co 15:19). If there is no actual resurrection in the future, if the atheists are correct and when I die I will cease to exist, then all that I did or said, all my conviction and my belief and my abstenence in this life was for naught. If this is the reality of men, then we should take Isaiah’s advice, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (Isaiah 22:13). But, if there is truly a God, and the God that is true and that does actually exist is the specific God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the writers of the OT and NT were actually inspired by God and the Scriptures as a whole are understandable and meant for us as a whole and complete message, and that the gospel is true and there is a way afforded to him who believes to faith and to propitiation in Christ, then woe to him who falls into he hand of the living God (He 10:31).

The world can (and will) believe in whatever it wants. Those who are predestined to do so will walk in their preordained destruction. There is no hope for him who is not drawn by the Father to the Son.

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

I really had no extra notes on this lecture, which I found a little surprising.

Lecture 7 Discussion Questions

What do the Epistles of 2 Peter and Jude have in common? Justify your response.

There are some striking commonalities between the two, to the point that many theologians and scholars over the years have concluded that one was written from the other (cf. 2 Pet 2:1–18 with Jude 4–16; 2 Pet 3:2–3 with Jude 17–18; 2 Pet 3:13–14, 18 with Jude 24–25; 2 Pet 1:5 with Jude 3; 2 Pet 1:1–2 with Jude 1–2; 2 Pet 1:12 with Jude 5; and 2 Pet 3:13–14, 18 with Jude 24–25). I am personally convinced that the sources from which each author drew were the same (i.e. the Holy Spirit) and not common (i.e. the same book), though it is possible both are correct. It is also entirely possible that one copied from the other, yet, still the Holy Spirit was the originating culprit. My view is derived principally from a high view of Scripture, that it is the inerrant Word of God (2 Ti 3:16). The real commonality that I find interesting is they are each discussing a different topic, yet both offhandedly remark, to use as example, the punishment of the angels, as if it were simply common knowledge to their readers.

This makes me wonder to what extend does their divine inspiration stretch? Were they “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pe 1:20-21) only at those moments when they had quill to parchment and were recording the exact words we have in the biblical text? Or were other beliefs also inspired and inerrant as well? Did they have other teachings that are inspired that we do not have today (i.e. baptizing for the dead, or handkerchiefs)? Is it even possible for God to inspire an inaccuracy (Matt 2 – Son from Egypt)?

Give several examples about how to identify and recognize false teachers today. Use Scripture to justify your response.

Dr. Missler points out that most false teachers utilize flattery, that they are often focused on financial ambitions, their lifestyles were somewhat to extremely immoral (even if they put on a moral facade), their consciences are dulled into immoral actions, they aim overall to deceive you and are wolves in sheep’s clothing (pretending to be righteous and to have biblical doctrine but are not and do not).

For me, the definition is a little broader. It is anyone who will persistently teach false doctrine, which is any teaching that is not rooted in the biblical text. I would consider anyone a false teacher, even if they are proclaiming an accurate doctrine from an unbiblical platform (i.e. modern preaching from a pulpit within an organized church that is rooted and modeled after a capitalist corporation rather than a spiritual gathering of believers). All too often, an earmark of a false teacher is the denial of Christ as the only path to salvation, or the adding to Christ additional steps or requirements for salvation (i.e. being involved in a particular church, organization, or the addition of extra-biblical doctrines or twisted biblical doctrines).

Peter warned of this in the future and had already seen it happening in his day (2 Pe 3:16), as did Paul who predicted that there would come a time when professing people would “twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Ti 3:5-7).

How would you describe and justify the essential elements of the “Gospel” of Christ?

It is summed up by Paul, “that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Co 15:4) and “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Ro 10:9). The gospel is centered on 1. Confession before others and 2. Belief that God raised him from the dead.

What are some of the most important lessons you have gleaned from the Scriptures explaining why God’s judgment fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah?

The reason is right in the text. “The men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord,” (Ge 13:13). “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to me; if not I will know” (Ge 18:20-21). Then the angels confirm, “we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it” (Ge 19:13).

We, as fallen beings, who have no concept of time or eons or a timeless eternity, seem to mistakenly think that God is “slack in keeping his promises” (2 Pe 3:9) and question him saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pe 3:4), but judgement will come in God’s time (Mark 13:32).

What are some lessons you have learned about “the way of Balaam;” “the error of Balaam;” and “the doctrine of Balaam”?

These three references roughly correspond to three lessons: Avoid loving the things of the world; Reasoning from human logic; and teaching others to sin. It is, ultimately, the reliance on the self, on human effort, just as Adam and Eve did in the garden after eating from the tree, sewing together coverings from fig leaves (Ge 3:7). God desires for us to rely on him for everything, from moment to moment, to lean into that trust and that faith regardless of the storm that might be surrounding us.

Why is it so important for you, especially today, to distinguish knowing about Christianity from knowing Christ as Savior? Be specific.

Christianity in most senses is simply a religion and is no different than any other religion created by human or demon. There was a time after the initial intervention from God in my life that I still didn’t know who Jesus was. I couldn’t understand why the message of the Bible was true, or even what that message really was trying to say. That moment I was given the capacity to believe, but I’m not certain I actually believed at that point. It wasn’t until I went into the military, spent Basic and schooling reading the pocket NT again and again, finally ending up at my first duty station in Texas, that I really started to understand that I needed to submit to him as Lord. I have no idea if I could be considered “saved” in that interm period. I know, as much as I tried, I could no longer meditate, nor could I really engage in the martial arts anymore. And from both I used to receive a great deal of personal satisfaction and fulfillment from. But, just like that, altogether in that moment when I read 2 Peter 2, that benefit I received from those activities simply disappeared. No matter how hard I tried to get back to that feeling, those activities, even when I sought help from the military Chaplain and he instead encouraged me to go back to Buddhism (he obviously wasn’t a biblical Christian), that former part of me was strip away. By the time I got to Germany, I had been interacting with enough people who at least “claimed” to be Christian and had read enough of the NT that I wanted to get a full Bible that I could read and actually understand (not the KJV). Those two years in Germany served as my seminary, the founding and grounding in the faith. Not the religion, but the supernatural and genuine faith of Christ, as Paul describes, “you are no longer a stranger and foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the saints and member of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:19-21).

Everything else is just doctrine of men or demons, traditions.

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

It’s stated in the lecture that false teachers and apostasy will characterize the last days of the church, but I think this is already prevalent in modern Christianity today. I can’t imagine the depths of the depravity, the severity of their departure from the gospel message and biblical doctrine and theology once that day finally comes, when the falling away has fully taken place. Part of me hopes that this is not far off, that Christ will return soon and all of this will be over and I will no longer be subjected to this miserable life. But, the rest of me is pretty certain that there is still a ways yet to go. I would not be surprised if there were not yet still hundreds or even thousands of years left before Christ returns. When the creation looks back on the history of the Church I think they will consider even our time as part of the Early Church. I certainly don’t know this to be true, but I think I have 30 years left at best (probably much less than that, finger’s crossed), with the world and my country and the entire western culture collapsing before my eyes, but I will, unfortunately, have to endure all of it.

Now, Dr. Missler states that false teachers are not those who teach from ignorance, but are those who know better yet still teach in error. I would disagree. I think the definition of false teacher would include both. The majority of the Church, in fact, teaches from ignorance. It operates either primarily from human tradition, from some form of folk theology, or based out of doctrines of demons (actually under the influence of demonic forces that disguise themselves as angels of light). The western, evangelical brand of Christianity tends to teach a positivity gospel that is rooted not in the Bible but in cultural popularism, nationalism, and capitalism. It is a gospel cast primarily to justify the American Dream – overconsumption, greed and the chasing of wealth and riches, and riding on the power hungry beast that is the American government (which is by no means a benevolent actor having the best in mind for her citizens). False teaching is everywhere, and false teachers have rushed into the organizations that were spawned when Christianity was legalized and their presence and activity has only increased since then. I would actually argue that Apollos was a false teacher when he was teaching falsely. At the point he was corrected and he made the necessary corrections, he ceased from being a false teacher.

Limiting false teachers to those who teach falsehood knowingly only is too narrowly defined. The same is true that Missler states that only those who “deliberately teach lies, and hope for financial gain” are guilty. Every “pastor” that preaches from a pulpit in the modern church is guilty of this when they propagate the tithe for their own benefit. It is a false teaching and they use a altered hermeneutic when they interpret the passages they use to support it, but many of them have no idea that it is incorrect. There are many others who measure their success of “being in the will of God” by the numbers they attract on a given Sunday. This is simply not biblical and it is false teaching (just as Dr. Missler points out as Nicolaitism).

Lastly, there was a mention of the term Tartarus occurring in 2 Peter. It is the only instance in which that word appears in the NT, but it does occurs 3 more times in the LXX (Job 40:15; 41:23; Proverbs 24:51).

Lecture 8 Discussion Questions

What commonalities do you find between the Epistles of 2 Timothy and 2 Peter?

Both letters warn of future apostasy that at least seem to be indicative of our modern experiences today.

According to Peter, what distinctive “sign” is characteristic of our days and culture? Explain.

Peter said there would be those in the last days who would be scoffers. These are not non-believers railing against faith, but they are false teachers, though who claim to be in the Church, claim to be followers of Christ, yet they “walk after their own lusts” and justify themselves in doing so.

This is seen again and again in our society and especially in the evangelical subculture. How many megachurch leaders have been fired, stepped down, or caught (some even refuse to step down) in sexual perversion or in adultery or outright fornication?

What are your primary arguments for and against the so-called “gap theory”?

Dr. Missler points out a few evidences that point to a gap theory. First, when was the timing of Satan’s fall, if he was already in the garden by Gen 3? It had to be between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. He also argues that the statement in Gen 1:2 states “without form and void” but should be translated “became without form and void.”

My argument for a gap theory is found in found in Job 38:4-7, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined it measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

Humans certainly did not exist at this point. And, we know from the first accounts of all of creation that the earth was created first and then the stars and the rest of the universe (at least so it would seem). This must, then, negate the supernatural realm we flippantly call heaven to be separate from the creation, and we can also conclude that the angelic hosts are likewise not part of that creation even recorded in Gen 1-2. This does not mean the angels were not created, but it could mean that there was a separate and distinct creation event that is not part of our creation event (or our specific historical narrative) and their creation event (and their historical origin narrative) came before ours did. There seems to be a tendency in evangelical Christianity to couch the angelic creation in between vs. 1-2 of Genesis 1 simply because they must have everything that exist being created in vs 1. It doesn’t need to be so. If, in fact, the earth was created first, then it is actually impossible for the angelic origin to be located after vs 1 since they were present at the creation of the earth (Job 38:4-7).

Personally, I would extrapolate from these text and from the reality that once we are saved we are destined then to become, to one day be revealed as, Sons of God, to be “like the angels” that there was at least one (if not multiple) previous origin narrative or redemptive events that produced the angelic class of being known as the Sons of God. Likewise, if the dwelling place of God even has an origin story (and Paul would seem to indicate that “all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17) and John seems to think that “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). If this be the case, and the supernatural realm that seems to subsume our own realm (the physical reality and universe and earth) was created, then it must have been created before Gen 1:1 as a distinct creation event.

Additionally, I would argue that the supernatural realm and the beings that inhabit that realm (God and the angels, though there could be other beings we are unaware of) are distinct from our creation (i.e. the physical dimension) because the curse infected all of creation – earth, all living creatures on earth, and seemingly all of the physical universe since the entire physical dimension appears to operate under the same laws of physics and seems to be all under the sway of entropy. But, God does not appear to be affected by the curse, neither do any of the angels.

Another fascinating question also arises at the logical progression from this. If these beings and this particular dimensionality is immune to the consequence of the curse (i.e. primarily death since God does not die nor do the angels) then there is a problem with the nature and origin of sin since it is clear that 1. Satan was found with sin within him before the human race existed (if he fell before vs 1 or even between vs 1 and 2 since Adam and Eve had not yet sinned until Gen 3. Additionally, sin was also found in the angels who fell in Genesis 6:2. Did they commit a sin by abandoning their rightful dwelling place in that supernatural realm to chase earthly women? Wouldn’t their original sin (before they even chose to abandon their post) be lust, the act of lusting after the mortal women? So, it is possible that at least the potentiality of sin exists in heaven. Either there will be a time in Revelation when a new prohibition against sin is leveled in heaven to prevent it or there will exist in heaven, even after judgment day, the potentiality for sin, which could (and most likely will) trigger another Satan event all over again in the future (and possibly in a subsequent redemptive narrative with another race of non-human or even human-like, non-earth, or maybe earth 2 beings).

Of course, this is all speculative extrapolation based on the partial existent patterns and correlations between humans and angels. There is no real way to verify any of this, but I will definitely have a very long list of questions for the angels who are tasked to carry me off to Hades when I die. I imagine it will be quite annoying for them and they will probably end up saying, “Dude, shut up with all the questions already. We’re just here to give you a ride.”

What events does the “Day of the LORD” include? Explain.

It will include Christ’s 3rd coming, the bringing of God’s wrath onto the earth, it will include the casting of Satan into the Lake of Fire, the 2nd Resurrection of the lost, the Great White Throne judgment of all those who are judged by their works written in the books in heaven of their deeds, and it will also see all who do not have their names written in the book of life (which will be everyone at this point) they will be cast into the Lake of Fire as well. It will also see the salvation of the remnant of Israel, where “all of Israel will be saved” (Ro 11:26).

What events does the phrase, “Thy Kingdom come” include? Explain.

As I understand it, this will occur after the Day of the Lord (which is primarily about pouring out wrath onto the earthdwellers and savings Israel), and it’s when there is a new heaven and a new earth (or this occurs at the last portion of the Lord’s Day during the final Throne judgment) and the new city Jerusalem descends from heaven toward earth. Whether or not the city comes all the way down or remains suspended midair is unclear, but this is where the church, Christ’s bride, will reside for eternity. I’m unclear on if this is a representative residence (I.e. like a representing capital city but there are other places in the new creation that people dwell and live and have jobs and have liberty to come and go) or if the only place where people will reside who are within the Body of Christ will be in this new city. My hope is that I will be able to have my own corner of the new physical universe, maybe a small, out of the way planet in a new solar system where I’m a solitary tasked with maintaining and exploring a vast library of supernatural books that contain the histories of all creations, all redemptive narratives, and all recorded and existing knowledge. I want nothing more than to spend eternity learning about the mysteries and details of all of God’s endeavors, his nature, and everything that has occurred throughout all histories of existence. I would also like to explore the counterfactual records pertaining to alternative lives based on variables that never actually occurred. But, this is just my best possibly imagined scenario given my finite and limited understanding of the afterlife, of what is actually my ultimate best existence in the afterlife. God knows me better than I know even myself, so I would defer to his better judgment in all matters. I simply abide in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

What do you believe about “global warming”? Justify your response.

I think the climate on planets changes over time, often in a cyclical pattern that is often beyond our lifespans or comprehension. I do not think we as a species are at fault due to the burning of fossil fuels; I think the science used, the assumptions used are faulty. Even if we were at fault, I don’t care. It would be my preference (if I were anything close to God) to burn this whole place down and with everyone in it. I pray every night that Jesus would return and that he would bring the Wrath of the Lamb to the earthdwellers. I am thoroughly discontented with the societies we have on earth, with the cultural systems we must endure, with the very fundamental natures of humans as a whole. I pray for this world to be judged by fire and also pray for my own death, that God would spare me from another day of this place (just to clarify, I am in no way clinically depressed, but I view my disposition as rightly and logically disillusioned with this fallen and grotesque world).

I do not think the weather or the assumed increase in global temperatures or the wild speculation about changing climate has anything to do with or is leading to what Dr. Missler quips as the great heat death. I think when Jesus returns as the Lamb of God, he will come in fire and fury and those who will be unlucky enough to be the subjects of that wrath will experience something like nothing they have ever seen before or could possibly have imagined. The very fabric of our physical reality will come undone, the fabric of time and space will be torn in two, the fundamental governing laws that our reality operates under will be disbanded and mortal existence under the curse will cease. It says in Re 20:11 that “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.” Yet, still those who were raised from the dead found footing enough on some substance to stand before God who sat on his throne to be judged. This means that either both the physical dimension and the supernatural dimension (meaning everything in existence that we are aware of) vanished and yet we will be able to still find purchase in some sort of substrate (as humans with bodies on some sort of firmament). It is not until Re 21 that we see a new heaven and a new earth (I’m not convinced the “heaven” here is the supernatural realm where God and the angels reside, but is most likely the sky surrounding the earth or even the inclusion of earth and the entire universe surrounding it – I’m starting to think either the universe is geocentric or there are multiple “earth-like” planets in the universe that host their own races that are going through or will go through their own redemptive narratives just as we have and those who are saved from our redemptive narrative will witness to these new stories from the perspective of angel-like beings in the future).

K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.

This is the last lecture in the two letters written by Peter. I came into this course excited and a little anxious at what I would find because it was 2 Peter 2 that God used as the initial catalyst in my life at 17, where he snatched me out of a Buddhist worldview and gave me a fully formed faith and an unquenchable thirst for his Word and sent me in an entirely different direction in life. Now, 30 years later, I look back on those years and, though my life has been quite underwhelming if measured by the world’s standards for success, I can see God’s hand at every turn – guiding me, protecting me, comforting me. I’ve been alone for most of that time, single, solitary, a short and brutal failed marriage mixed in for context, and yet I’ve never wavered once in my confidence that God exists or that he is leading me. I don’t always understand what he’s doing with me while he’s doing it (let’s face it, I never really know). Even today, over the last few months, I’ve found myself experiencing an entirely new spiritual season, with new longings and new directions, new priorities that I’ve not had or fostered (or even wanted) in 13+ years. I’ve found the Holy Spirit working on my heart, healing old wounds that run really, really deep into my soul. I’ll often argue with him about this or that reason why what he’s doing or the direction he’s leading me in is completely impossible and I give him the long list of reasons why I can’t do this or can’t feel this or there’s no way this could be possible – and then, literally as I’m arguing with him, he just miraculously removes all of my objections that I’ve so vigorously defended.

I have no idea where God will be leading me next. I have some suspicions and it terrifies me to no end. Of course, there is no rational reason for why I suspect this direction. In fact, from my perspective, it will be a quite the uphill battle for God to even be able to pull it off if I’m right. But, he’s always had a knack for surprising me. I’m a little terrified of what this all means for my life going forward. I’m afraid I won’t rise to the occasion. I’m also afraid I’m wrong, that he won’t do anything I suspect (because, deep down, I realize that these things I’ve wanted all along). I’m also afraid I’m going to screw everything up.

But, through these last two months, I’m certain of one thing. This new upheaval in my life has drawn me inextricably closer to my God and my King. I talk to him more than I think ever before, I am leaning on him more every single day just to keep my head above water with the things he’s doing in my life, the changes he’s making, the purging he’s doing to prepare me, to ready me. And, yet, despite all this, deep within there is a steady and sincere calm that runs through me, a foundation of trust and faith and certainty that I know I can trust whatever it is he’s doing with me because he loves me and wants the very best for my life on this godawful planet. I’m just passing through, yet, he seems to take a very deep and personal interest in what I’m doing and how I’m doing it while I’m here. He certainly puts up with a lot with me. He’s a patient God. More so than he probably should be, but probably just as much as I need from him given my stubbornness.

I don’t know where I’ll be in life a month, a year, five years from now. He’s led me to a place where I have no earthly aspirations of my own, no secret desires in my sinful heart to make a million dollars or become rich and famous. All those futile passions have slowly withered and died at the foot of the cross. I only now want to serve my Lord and my King in whatever capacity that might be. It’s up to him.

I pray I will heed the call when it does come. I will do my best in this season to prepare as he directs me.


Great two books. But I come away from this course a little underwhelmed. I found no earth shattering information or revelation, no clue to why God would choose 2 Peter 2 to speak to me all those years ago. I find it quite fascinating because when I picked the Bible up from the window seal, and when I took it back into the room and sat down at my girlfriend’s bedside (it was like 2 o’clock in the morning and she was finally asleep), I remember intentionally opening the Bible to the Table of Contents to see which book I wanted to read from, but found several pages in the front crinkled up together at the top corner and getting to the TOC was quite difficult without making any noise. I quickly just flipped toward the back of the Bible, not really knowing where I would land or what I would read, and I somehow landed on 2 Peter 2 and just started reading.

It’s one of the questions I have for whoever does the debriefing once you “make it” through the gates. I have SO MANY questions.

Overall, this was a good course, especially if it’s a first time around. I tend to spend a lot of time in 2 Peter because of the Genesis 6:2 angel connection, but I’m looking forward to now branching out into more unfamiliar territory. The first half of Genesis is the next course I’ll be taking.

Until my next assignment….

Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.

Excerpt from Sacred the Circle:

There was a knock at the door.

Campbell got up from the chair and crossed the small distance so he could open it.

A young man stood in the doorway, probably in his early twenties.

Campbell could tell he looked a little disheveled.


He had deep rings around his eyes, as if he hadn’t been sleeping much, and he kept checking the hallway in both directions, as if half expecting someone to be stalking him.

“Hey,” Campbell said.


The kid was stumbling over his own words.

Campbell leaned out into the hallway, checking to make sure there was no one else listening.

This guy wasn’t the only one who was becoming paranoid.

There were two students hanging out at the foyer, near the stairs, but the rest of the floor was clear.

“I’m sorry,” the kid said. “Must be the wrong place. I’m mistaken.”

He started to leave.

“Wait,” Campbell said, putting a hand out. “Hold on a second.”

The kid paused.

“What’s your name?”

“Uh, I’m….Lloyd…”

He fidgeted with his collar.

“I know it sounds crazy, but – ”

“You’re not crazy, Lloyd,” Campbell said, grinning.

“Did you – ? ”

The kid paused, as if unsure if he should continue.

He looked back toward the stairs, then at Campbell.

“Did you know I was coming?” he finally asked. “I mean, that’s not possible, but, were you expecting me?”

Campbell chuckled to himself.

“What’s so funny?” Lloyd asked.

“Well – ”

Campbell pushed the door open all the way so Lloyd could see inside his dorm room.

The entire room was full of them, students, non-students, ranging from what looked like eighteen to even a few middle-aged men, scattered about the room, sitting wherever they could find a comfortable spot.

Lloyd’s mouth dropped open.

“I wasn’t really expecting them, either,” Campbell said. “So, I hope you don’t hold it against me when I tell you, I had no idea you’d be showing up here. Do you care to join us, anyway?”

Buy my book Sacred the Circle to find out what these men are hearing from the supernatural realm. Will they answer the questions tugging at them? What are the visions saying? Who are the Multitude? Why are all these men being brought together? By whom? And why, above all else, are they being convicted….to pray?

Get your copy of Sacred the Circle today! Get the upcoming sequel, Sacred the Sent as well so the story never ends !

But, trust me when I say, you’ll be white knuckling this one with every turn of the page!

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