August 19, 2022
The Power of Support / Don’t Stop Living
On August 20, 2022, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “The Power of Support,” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “Don’t Stop Living.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Look Forward to the Future in Faith
by Paul Niehoff (Australia)
In our Christian lives, we have many promises from God. He reminds us via the apostle Paul that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We also know through James that “the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:15). These are promises for us mainly during this life, but what about promises for our future? What should we have faith in regarding our future? What does God want us to be thinking about as we go through our day-to-day life with both its pleasures and difficulties?
We know that God tells us to seek first His “kingdom… and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). And if we do, it is pleasing to God, but we must have the faith to believe His promises. Remember, believing God counts for righteousness as was described about Abram. See Genesis 15:6.
When we want to study faith, the obvious chapter to refer to is Hebrews 11, which is commonly called “the faith chapter.” In it, we can read about many men and women who lived and died in faith. But what did they have faith in? In this chapter, there are examples of the ancients who looked to the promises of the future, rather than just their present lifetime.
Some did receive a reward for their faith during their lifetime. Noah was warned about a flood and by building the ark saved his household. And, in fact, it is because of his faith and action that we are alive today. By faith Sarah was able to conceive a child. Through that child we have received physical and spiritual blessings today. But others did not receive the promises while they lived, but looked to the future fulfilment of them (compare Hebrews 11:13). So, what did these look forward to?
Abraham obeyed God and left his homeland to a place that he was promised he would inherit even though he did not know where he was going. He dwelt there with his son Isaac and grandson Jacob who had the same promise. They and their families dwelt in tents during their lifetime, as we can read that Isaac took Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent as his wife. See Genesis 24:67. They did not have permanent buildings to live in during their lifetime.
So, what did Abraham especially look forward to? Hebrews 11:10 explains that “he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” He was looking forward to a time when He would live in a permanent city that God would provide, not just in tents as he was living in during his life. Moses also, in faith, looked forward to the reward, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt…” (See Hebrews 11:26).
So, all those mentioned who died in faith “…desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). We can see glimpses of this promise, as a physical forerunner, in the Millennium; for example, in Isaiah 33:20-21. There we see Jerusalem, a quiet home, a place of broad rivers and streams. It will be so much better than what it is today. A city of peace—the name Jerusalem traditionally meaning “Possession of Peace.”
It will be where Christ will rule the earth from in stability and peace, for the benefit and blessing of all people. There will be no uncertainty as to who will be elected as the next president and whether he will do a good job or not, as there is today, but Christ will rule perfectly. And thinking about Jerusalem today, it could not be called a quiet home with broad rivers and streams today as it will be in God’s future. It has experienced many wars over the millennia and had very little peace.
But ultimately, after the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, God will provide “…the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). And as we read in Hebrews 11:39-40: “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”
So, as we go through life with its many difficulties, we can remind ourselves that the men and women of faith mentioned in the Bible have not yet received their ultimate promise. God is waiting to share it with them and with us when we are all made perfect together. It is a promise that we should consider the most important thing in our life to look forward to—one that will be filled with joy and pleasure forevermore. So today, as we live our lives in both good times and in bad times, we should be looking toward that future Kingdom that God has promised to us and all of His people forever.
by Norbert Link
We report on America’s debacle in Afghanistan one year ago; the celebration of America’s enemies over Biden’s disaster; and the inevitable downfall of the USA. Please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “America’s Downfall IS Prophesied!”
We continue with the undeniable influence of Trump over the Republican Party and further developments on the FBI raid on Trump’s private property; an appeal to President Biden to finally revoke coronavirus restrictions; and the highly controversial “Inflation Reduction Act.”
We conclude with an article asking whether the long-awaited EU Army is on its way.
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
Biden’s Afghanistan Debacle…
npr wrote on August 15:
“A year ago, U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, a chaotic end to America’s longest war — and a turning point in the Biden presidency, a moment when his approval ratings fell… Doug Sosnik, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, said it wasn’t just Afghanistan that started Biden’s fall from grace. Covid-19 was surging and inflation was beginning to accelerate. But Sosnik says the bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan really hurt Biden because it undercut the president’s image. ‘If bringing competence back to government is one of the kind of hallmarks of a candidacy, then I think the optics of the Afghanistan withdrawal go completely against the sort of rationale of why you should have voted for Biden,’ he said…
“The withdrawal helped start Biden’s slide in the polls. But a year later, voters are more concerned about the economy, said Mohamed Younis, Gallup’s editor-in- chief. ‘I’m saying… it’s really been a very long time since foreign policy has been the factor in a presidency sort of turning sour,’ Younis said.”
The indifference of many Americans regarding US foreign policy is another reason for America’s coming downfall…
China Celebrates Biden’s Defeat and the Downfall of the USA
Breitbart wrote on August 17:
“The Global Times and its stable of ‘Chinese experts’ argued the ‘Kabul moment’ showed that America’s playbook of ‘democratic transformation’ will never work anywhere, the American ‘strategy of hegemony’ is a bust, and while Biden might have thought he was escaping from a quagmire, he instead made the United States perpetually responsible for the misery of the Afghan people…
“After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan island on August 2, a delegation of five US lawmakers arrived on the island of Taiwan on Sunday…
“The Global Times advised Americans to regard the ‘Kabul moment’ as proof they are a ‘superpower in its downfall’… ‘The U.S. has passed its peak, with its withdrawal from Afghanistan marking the beginning of the decline of U.S. strength…”
Bild Online reported on August 17 that China is sending troops to Russia to participate in a military exercise in the east. Troops from India and Belarus will also participate. Bild Online commented: “A clear signal to the USA: Nuclear powers playing war.” Also, Russia and North Korea just announced their desire to improve their friendly relationship. The “kings of the East” are coming together.
Is the USA Facilitating its Own Death?
On August 17, the Ron Paul institute published the following article by Larry Johnson:
“After 8 years of arming and training Ukraine’s army and air force, spending billions of tax payer dollars, the United States no longer has a viable strategy to defeat the Russian forces and compel Vladimir Putin to accept a humiliating defeat. Yes, the US and NATO are pouring a large amount of HIMARS, Army Tactical Missile Systems (aks ATACMS), tanks, vehicles and aircraft into the fight, but this is only prolonging the inevitable surrender of Ukraine…
“Throughout the period from 1990 to February 24, 2022, there were still people in the Russian political leadership who believed that negotiations with the United States and Europe was a viable option. That is no longer the case. Whether the United States and Europe want to believe it, the Russian leaders and people now believe that the west poses an existential threat to them and they will do what is necessary to defend themselves and survive.
“I am old enough to remember a time when the freedom of the press and freedom of speech set the United States apart as a special place. American culture and economic prowess was something that many in Russia and the rest of the world envied. But that was then. When foreigners now consider the state of America they see something radically different. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are now under regular, sustained attack directed at Christians and conservatives. I remember when the Soviets labeled dissidents as terrorists. Now, America’s own Department of Justice is doing the same to parents opposed to critical race theory and outraged over their daughters being asked to shower with males who claim they are female…
“American culture is now awash with filth. Child pornography, pedophilia and transgenderism is being touted as normal. Anyone who dares challenge these things as abnormal are tagged as racists and hatemongers… Most people in the world, not just Russians, see this and can only conclude that the United States is in the grip of mass psychosis…
“When Russia secures its victory in Ukraine–regardless of how much time and bloodshed is required to achieve that end–it will be committed to building global relations that exclude the United States. The era of the United States as the supreme military and economic power in the world is over.
“I am an American patriot. I love this country and what it is supposed to stand for. But the actions of the Biden Administration are weakening dramatically the US economy and military. The weapon systems that are flooding into Ukraine are being destroyed by Russia or sold on the black market by Ukrainian profiteers. I fear that when the war in Ukraine is settled that the United States will have burnt all bridges that could have led to a reconciliation with Russia. I hope I am wrong.”
No, he is right. The irresponsible conduct of the Biden Administration is only accelerating America’s isolation in the world and its inevitable downfall. The Bible says that America will be viewed as a curse and it will be hated by all nations.
The Disunited USA
Newsmax published the following opinion piece by Patrick Buchanan on August 16:
“… we are a country whose people have a diminishing confidence in almost all of its institutions, from big business to the churches, universities and media… Public approval of Biden’s performance is at the lowest level ever recorded for a president at this point in his first term…
“The left today dominates the academic community and culture to a greater degree than it once did and is further removed from the heart of the country in Middle America than it has ever been. When, how, does America ever unite again?… Where is the common ground on which to stand?
“Does such ground even exist, given the divisions in religion, race and ethnicity, and the seemingly irreconcilable disagreements over morality, ideology, culture and politics? Has the great experiment run its course?”
America is destined to fall…
USA in Perilous Times
Breitbart wrote on August 15:
“Donald Trump’s legal team demolished the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) media spin that denied having the former president’s passports in their possession following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago last week… As Breitbart News noted, the passports were ‘not independently itemized on the FBI’s property receipt of the 28 inventory items federal agents seized… The warrant, which Attorney General Merrick Garland says he approved and was signed by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, did not state that they could take Trump’s passport,’ the report noted. ‘Typically, the government needs a separate court order to seize someone’s passport, even temporarily.’
“According to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, a DOJ official said the former president’s passports were not in their possession, one of which presumably would have been a diplomatic passport… Shortly after Norah’s post, Taylor Budowich, the former president’s communications director, shared an email from Jay Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division, confirming that three passports were seized in the raid and that they would be returned to the former president soon… [According to other press releases, they have now been returned.]
“Donald Trump warned about the ‘tremendous anger’ brewing in the country following the raid on his private residence. ‘There has never been a time like this where law enforcement has been used to break into the house of a former president of the United States, and there is tremendous anger in the country—at a level that has never been seen before, other than during very perilous times,’ Trump said.”
The New York Post added on August 16:
“Trump initially accused the FBI of taking the passports Monday afternoon — an explosive allegation that suggested investigators believed he was a flight risk or faced potential charges that would prevent him from leaving the country… The former president and his allies have slammed the FBI and said the raid is the latest phase of a long-running ‘witch hunt’ that dates back to the bureau’s investigation into whether he colluded with Russia’s government during the 2016 campaign.
“After the search warrant and inventory were unsealed Friday, Trump claimed that the documents in question had already been declassified and that the FBI search was unnecessary. ‘They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago,’ he wrote on Truth Social. ‘It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request. They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago. ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.’”
There is indeed tremendous anger in the country, and calls for civil war are getting louder.
Cheney vs. Trump
The Associated Press reported on August 17:
“Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney was increasingly open on Wednesday about considering a 2024 presidential campaign after soundly losing a Republican primary to a challenger backed by former President Donald Trump. Speaking to NBC in the wake of her loss, the third-term congresswoman called Trump ‘a very grave threat and risk to our republic,’ and said defeating him will require ‘a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents — and that’s what I intend to be part of.’ She declined to say if she would run for president but conceded it’s ‘something that I’m thinking about.’…
“With Cheney’s loss, Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are going extinct… In all, seven Republican senators and 10 Republican House members backed Trump’s impeachment… Just two of those 10 House members have won their primaries this year…”
Cheney’s defeat was expected. Her constant attacks on Trump did not win her any favors.
Deutsche Welle wrote on August 17:
“Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, a fierce critic of Donald Trump, lost her seat in Congress to Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman on Tuesday… Hageman’s rout of Cheney was also a testament to Trump’s grip over the party’s fortunes and an achievement in his campaign to oust Republicans who backed impeaching him… Cheney’s criticism of Trump and her role in the congressional panel investigating the January 6 attack made her a pariah in her party. Her third and final Congress term ends in January. She will continue in her leadership role on the January 6 attack panel until it dissolves at the end of 2022.”
Will Trump Go After Clinton and Obama?
Daily Mail wrote on August 17:
“Former President Donald Trump signaled that he intends to capitalize on the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid – sharing an op-ed that predicting Republicans might exact vengeance by using law enforcement to go after Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
“Trump shared without comment an op-ed by loyalist and conservative columnist Kimberly Strassel in the Wall Street Journal, whose work he has frequently promoted in the past. In an email from his Save America PAC, Trump tweeted the article’s headline: ‘The Payback for Mar-a-Lago Will Be Brutal.’”
Abortion Merely a Means of Birth Control?
Life News wrote on August 8:
“Minnesota has released its report on abortion in the state in 2020 and 2021. The report points out reasons why women had abortions. In 2021, by far the most common reason given was that the woman ‘[did] not want children at this time.’ Eighty-four percent of women who responded gave this reason for their abortions… Less than 1% of Minnesota abortions in 2021 and 2020 were committed because the mother was a victim of rape or incest, and no abortions were reported either year to save the life of the mother.”
Economic hardship is another major reason for abortions. But how can this justify the murder of an unborn child?
Mr. President, Get Rid of Corona Restrictions!
The Ron Paul Institute wrote on August 15:
“In June, the United States Department of State published an announcement of the ending of coronavirus testing requirements imposed on Americans and foreigners flying to America. The announcement, though, also declared that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ‘Order requiring proof of vaccination for noncitizen nonimmigrants to travel to the United States is still in effect.’ And that coronavirus crackdown requirement remains in effect today.
“Fortunately, public opposition to the requirement that visitors to America take the experimental coronavirus ‘vaccine’ shots is rising among Republican governors and Republican House of Representative members. Indeed, Joseph Summers wrote Thursday at LifeSite about two letters groups of Republican office holders sent to President Joe Biden this month requesting that Biden terminate the requirement that foreigners take coronavirus shots as a prerequisite for visiting America, The first is an August 1 letter from eight Republican US House of Representatives members. The second is an August 10 letter from 17 Republican governors.
“Notably, the governors’ letter includes this strange assertion: ‘Republican Governors consistently stood against the immense, unconstitutional overstepping of power that occurred in our country during the pandemic in the name of public health.’ Of course, most Republican governors jumped right on the coronavirus crackdown bandwagon, though they often applied a lighter tyrannical touch than their Democratic counterparts. Still, it is good to see now the increased number of Republican governors standing in opposition to some of the still in place aspects of the crackdown.”
Will Joe Biden listen? Now his wife has corona.
She was fully vaccinated. According to some reports, she is now taking the corona pill Paxlovid, a medication which German doctors are warning about (see last Current Events, “Germany’s COVID Chaos”).
Kennedy Jr. Suspended from Facebook and Instagram
The Associated Press wrote on August 18:
“Instagram and Facebook suspended Children’s Health Defense from its platforms this week… [The] anti-vaccine group [is] led by Robert Kennedy Jr… In a statement, Kennedy compared Facebook’s actions to government censorship…”
Germany’s Vaccination Mandate
Deutsche Welle wrote on August 18:
“The Federal Constitutional Court rejected a bid to overturn a measles vaccination requirement for children in day care centers and schools, upholding a law that has come into effect in March 2020… If a child’s immunization is not documented, schools are required to notify the local public health office.
“It is not possible to exclude unvaccinated children from schools, because of a legal obligation to education, but parents who refuse to vaccinate their children face fines of up to €2,500 ($2,760).”
The New Inflation Reduction Act
Fox News wrote on August 16:
“White House officials are not saying when the act will start reducing inflation or by how much, even though the legislation is being billed as a way to slow price increases…. overall inflation… sits at 8.5% over a year ago as of July…
“… multiple outside studies and economists are projecting that the bill will have very little, if any, success in decreasing inflation. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders… said the bill ‘will in fact have a minimal impact on inflation’… “
The bill was passed on party-line votes in both the House and the Senate. It will double the IRS workforce over the decade. Fox News wrote that despite assurances from Democrats to the contrary, “Republican politicians have voiced concern that the [bill will] not only raise taxes on lower- and middle-class Americans, but could also increase the amount of tax audits, disproportionately affecting citizens who are unable to afford legal counsel… The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal also demurred, with a Sunday editorial that argued the IRS expansion would likely collect billions in cash from ‘new middle-class audits.’ The problem is that for every tax cheat the IRS identifies, several more compliant tax filers will be subjected to needless scrutiny,’ the board wrote.”
Biden’s New $739 Billion Inflation Bill Blasted
Fox News wrote on August 16:
“President Joe Biden was blasted for his comments while signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law Tuesday. The bill costs $739 billion and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Penn Wharton Budget Model estimate it will not reduce inflation, despite its name…
“Conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong, a refugee from China, tweeted, ‘Orwellian. This might be the single largest transfer of wealth from the middle class to corporate and state interests since the pandemic policies bankrupted numerous small businesses… Not only are these people taking away your hard earned money, they’re killing your children’s chance of having any kind of comfortable future,’ he continued.
“Cheong also criticized Biden’s speech, which the president struggled to get through, tweeting, ‘It’s clear that Joe has dementia but no one in the media will point it out.’
“Guy Benson, a Fox News contributor and political editor of Townhall, tweeted, ‘Oh, a lot of “green” special interests won. So did the IRS, big time. And when the IRS doubles, a lot of Americans don’t feel like winners.’ Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., disputed Biden’s claim that ‘no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes.’ ‘The CBO disagrees. Americans earning less than $400k a year are estimated to pay an additional $20 BILLION in new taxes. This Administration just lies…and the media covers for them. Every time,’ Tuberville tweeted.
“James J. Carafano, vice president for foreign and security policy at the Heritage Foundation, tweeted, ‘This will be a dark day for everyday Americans that will bear the brunt of this big government law. How fitting to sign on anniversary of Afghanistan disaster that humiliated every single American.’”
Is the European Army on the Way?
Politics Today wrote on August 16:
“On July 20, the European Union Commission announced its plan to provide 1.2 billion Euros… to support 61 joint defense research and development projects… This move raised questions about whether the EU states are now more willing to form a European military identity given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… The idea of creating a European army has a long and contentious history in Europe… Some EU countries such as France, Germany, and Italy prioritize the EU’s own defense and promote the idea of an EU army… Today, there is considerable support among other EU member states for the EU maintaining its own security. Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi argued for the need to enhance European security…
“Tensions between the U.S. and some EU countries, too, fuel debates on Europe becoming a self-sufficient and self-reliant power. In NATO-EU security relations, the distrust felt by some EU member states—especially evident during the Trump administration—has a potential to resurge in the future… It is remarkable that Germany, which kept its defense budget the same for years, has finally increased it to €100 billion… though still small in size, the EU is getting closer to a common security understanding. It will be curious to follow whether the European Union will achieve a strong security and defense of its own.”
According to biblical prophecy, it will.
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.
Why do you not baptize by using the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”? (Part 2)
In the previous installment, we discussed the fact that Matthew 28:19 does not set forth a “formula,” which must be used when baptizing a person, and that the teaching that the baptizing minister must say the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit,” is erroneous and unbiblical. At the same time, we pointed out that “the concept stated in Matthew 28:19, in referring during the entire baptism ceremony to the role and function of the Father and Jesus Christ, bestowing on the baptized person the gift of the Holy Spirit, is accurate and biblical.” We did not address the question in the previous installment whether the Scripture itself is genuine or not.
Before addressing this intriguing issue, let us point out that it would not be beyond possibility or comprehension that a “passage” was added by translators or copyists which was not in the original text—or, that a passage which was in the original text was subsequently deleted. God would allow this as He has given His people discerning minds, through His Holy Spirit, to note such rare occasions and to point them out to those who have willing and receptive hearts.
For instance, we explained in the previous installment that a passage in 1 John 5:7-8 WAS added, which should not be in the Bible. The words, “there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one,” are clearly a later addition to “prove” the Trinity. As we mentioned, the wording in Matthew 28:19 has also been used as proof for the unbiblical concept of the Trinity, and it is therefore only natural to ask the question whether this passage might also have been added.
Before exploring this question more deeply, let us address a situation as described in our free booklet, “Jesus Christ—a Great Mystery!,” where we pointed out that an important passage has been OMITTED from the original text, but which should BE in the Bible. In the box with the article titled, “How Did Christ Die?”, on pages 78 and 79, we explained:
“When we read Matthew’s account, in the New King James Bible, we will not find exactly how Christ died. The reason is that this translation omits a crucial verse, at the end of Matthew 27:49. Several translations, as well as many old manuscripts, have retained this missing verse. For instance, verses 49 and 50 read in the Moffat translation: ‘But the others said, “Stop, let us see if Elijah does come to save him!” (Seizing a lance, another pricked [better, pierced] his side, and out came water and blood.) Jesus again uttered a loud scream, and gave up his spirit.’”
We then quoted several translations which either contain this missing verse in the text, or in a footnote.
In a subsequent Q&A, elaborating on this issue, we stated the following:
“Do we know WHY the inspired passage in Matthew 27:49 was deleted from the sacred text? The deletion occurred when a spurious version of the book of Matthew, which was allegedly written by Barnabas, was found, which did not include the passage in Matthew 27:49. Note the following excerpts from Westcott and Hort:
“‘In a letter partially preserved in Syriac… [Severus] mentions the reading [of the missing passage] as having been vigorously debated at Constantinople in connexion with the matter of the patriarch Macedonius, when the… [spurious] copy of… Matthew’s Gospel said to have been discovered in Cyprus with the body of… Barnabas in the reign of Zeno (?477) was consulted and found not to contain the sentence in question … at Constantinople the holy Gospels were by command of the emperor censored,’ and the passage in question was deleted from the sacred text of the gospel according to Matthew.
“Of course, no emperor–nor ANY MAN, for that purpose–has any divine authority to add to or delete from the Word of God. And so, God saw to it that the missing passage WAS preserved–and anyone with an open mind can read it today in its original form.”
With this introduction, let us now explore the question as to whether or not it is possible that the passage in Matthew 28:19 might have been added and that it was not in the original inspired writings.
First, we want to cite quotes from commentaries and other sources advocating the authenticity of Matthew 28:19.
James Hastings, The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 2, art. “Baptism,” pp. 376, 380, 389, writes:
“There is no real ground for doubting the authenticity of Mt. 28:19 as part of Mt’s Gospel in its final form. But this is far from settling its historicity as a word of Jesus Himself… If it were undisputed, this would, of course, be decisive, but its trustworthiness is impugned on the grounds of textual criticism, literary criticism, and historical criticism…In connection with the name (which may mean one or more names) the question of formula arises. The earliest known formula is ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus,’ or some similar phrase; this is found in the Acts, and was perhaps still used by Hermas, but by the time of Justin Martyr [c. A.D. 100 –165] the triune formula had become general… In all extent versions the text is found in the traditional form, though it must be remembered that the African old Latin and… old Syriac versions are defective at this point.”
Please note several points:
First, Hastings says that the passage in Matthew 28:19 is clearly authentic, but confirms that we cannot say that these are words from Jesus Himself. But if Jesus did not utter those words, then the passage in Matthew 28:19 could clearly not be authentic. Then, Hastings admits that the phrase was not used as a formula by the early New Testament Church; that those who used it later understood it to be a “triune formula”; and that some versions do NOT contain this phrase (we will address this point later).
Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th ed., pp. 624-625, states:
“It is not necessary to assume that, when Jesus employed these words [i.e., “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”], He intended them as a formula to be used ever after. He merely used them as descriptive of the character of the baptism which He instituted… [The apostles] did not understand the words of Jesus in the great commission as prescribing a definite formula.”
Even though Berkhof concludes or at least does not question the authenticity of the passage, he likewise feels confident that it is not describing a baptismal formula.
Then, there are authors who conclude that the passage in Matthew 28:19 is authentic and a trinitarian formula for the reason that, as they point out, the concept of a trinitarian baptism is mentioned in early “Christian” writings.
J.R. Dummelow, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, writes on page 721:
“Although the Trinitarian formula in this passage is found in all manuscripts and versions, some recent critics regard it as an interpolation, or at least as an unauthentic utterance of Jesus. They argue that all the baptisms described in the N.T. are into the name of Jesus, not into the name of the Trinity (Ac 2:28; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5)… the formula, whether spoken by Jesus or not, dates certainly from the apostolic age. It was known to Clement of Rome (90 A.D.), who has three Trinitarian statements, mentioning Father, Son and Holy Spirit thrice in that order; it forms the basis of the earliest form of the Apostles’ Creed (cir. 100 A.D.); it is expressly quoted in the Didache (c. 100 A.D.); and is … alluded to by Justin Martyr (150 A.D.). It may be doubted whether any other single text of the N.T. has such early and satisfactory attention.”
The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. I, art. “The First Apology of Justin,” p. 183, quote Justin Martyr [A.D. 100-165] as saying: “For, in the name of God the Father and God of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water.”
Regarding the Apostles’ Creed, we state this in our free booklet, “The Authority of the Bible,” in chapter 10:
“We do not consider the ‘Apostles’ Creed’ as inspired—neither in the form used by the Roman Catholic Church, nor in its numerous variations used by Protestant churches. Some claim that the ‘Apostles’ Creed’ is the oldest of all the Christian creeds. It is considered the basis of all other creeds in non-Catholic churches. As fairy tales would have it, some allege that each of the apostles supplied one article to the Creed. This claim is totally without merit. The apostles had nothing to do with formulating this Creed.”
Later, we say in our booklet:
“The doctrinal problems with the ‘Apostles’ Creed’ are numerous.
“First of all, it clearly suggests the belief in the Trinity—a belief which is a human invention and which cannot be found in the Holy Scriptures… It also suggests that Christ went to ‘hell,’ while He was dead and in the grave for three days and three nights, apparently, so it is said, to preach to demons. This concept is false—Christ had NO CONSCIOUSNESS while in the grave, and He did not go anywhere.”
So, the fact that the wording in question might be found in the spurious and uninspired Apostles’ Creed is of no convincing evidentiary value. We will address the reference to Justin Martyr later. In any event, they describe what allegedly took place in certain “Christian” communities, without stating that this procedure was based on the passage in Matthew 28:19.
James Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. II, art. “God”, “Distinction in the Godhead,” writes:
“This [command to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost] belongs to a comparatively late and suspected part of the Gospel… Now, the Didache shows us that we no sooner cross the frontier of the apostolic age than we find baptism into the Threefold Name in full possession of the field (Did. Vii 1,3). The tradition is continuous. It is taken up by Justin (Apol. 1.61), and Tertullian expressly tells us that the person baptized was dipped three times in recognition of the Threefold Name (Prax. 26). The practice, then, is at least very old.”
A person being “dipped” three times in recognition of the Trinity (others say, that according to the Didache, water may be poured three times on the head of the person if otherwise, not enough water was available) would most certainly not have experienced a proper baptism. The Didache is another spurious text which includes many false teachings. For instance, it teaches Sunday observation (which it wrongly calls the “Lord’s Day”) and “fasting” on Wednesday and Friday. Followers had to say the “Lord’s Prayer” three times a day (even though Jesus forbids such practice in Matthew 6:7).
The Apostolic Fathers, “Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians,” Longer Version, pp. 85-86, point out that Ignatius (who died about A.D. 107) quotes Jesus as having said, “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
We should state that Ignatius was a heretic. He advocated the keeping of Sunday, calling it the Lord’s Day, and he stated, not to keep the Sabbath “after the Jewish manner”, to “rejoice in the days of idleness.”
Irenaeus, who died in A.D. 202, wrote in his work, Against Heresies, Book III, chapter xvii:
“He said to them, ‘Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’”
He also wrote in ch. 61, “Christian Baptism”: “For in the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water.”
To summarize at this point, none of the authors argue that the “trinitarian baptismal formula” was adopted from the wording in Matthew 28, as a passage being in existence; they only claim that it was the practice by certain Christian communities to use those words for baptism, while admitting the possibility that they were NOT said by Jesus Himself. That the practice of baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost might have been in existence as early as the second century is immaterial. Many teachings and practices had developed by that time which were not biblical.
That some authors or works, many of them of a heretical or spurious character themselves, quote Jesus as having said those words, or claim that the practice was based on Christ’s teachings, is also immaterial. Nowhere is a direct quote from Matthew 28:19 given. Nowhere do we read that an author by the end of the first or the beginning of the second century said: “Jesus said in the book of Matthew, at the end of the book, that we are to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Those who allude to the wording of the threefold trinitarian baptism, claiming that Jesus said those words, without quoting and directly referring to the book of Matthew as evidence for their claim, might as well have just referred to some “human tradition,” according to which Jesus allegedly stated these words. The suspicion, then, that these words were later added in order to confirm the “Christian” practice and belief, as did happen in the case of 1 John 5:7-8, ought to be addressed.
In the next installment, we will discuss the concerns authors and commentaries have raised as to the genuineness of Matthew 28:19.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
On the Sabbath of August 13, 2022, Frank Bruno was ordained to the ministry by Evangelist Norbert Link and Pastors Dave Harris and Eric Rank. This ordination took place in Fort Collins, Colorado—congratulations to Frank and his family.
“America’s Downfall IS Prophesied!” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Some observers recognize that America is divided and in decline. They openly talk about its downfall, both domestically and internationally. But many don’t see or care about the signs of the time. The Bible confirms that the USA will lose its supreme military and economic power in the world. But there IS light at the end of the dark tunnel.
A new Member Letter (August 2022) has been written by Eric Rank. He presents a very insightful analogy reminding us to view our challenges through God’s perspective. Also, our new booklet, “God is…Our Destiny!” is being mailed along with this letter. If you would like a copy of this booklet, just request it, and we will be happy to mail one to you. “God is… Our Destiny!” is also available at our website.
“Der prophezeite Aufstieg des Staates Israel,” is the title of a new German sermon presented by Norbert Link. Title in English, “The Prophesied Rise of the State of Israel.”
“Quo Vadis—Where Are You Going?” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Frank Bruno, is now posted. Here is a summary:
In our relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ, we are moving either towards them, or away from them. Standing still may seem a safe compromise in this world, but it is the essence of being on the fence and presenting an undecided heart to God. The pathway that Jesus accepted to return to the Father was essential to our salvation. Jesus made clear that those who are called could one day follow. This Sermonette we will consider scriptures and examples that can help guide us on our own journey.
“Europe’s Rise and Fall,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
We find an amazing end time prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel about the political, economic, military and religious European power bloc, and its sudden demise and fall that will result in its total annihilation and destruction. Who will be the main players in this development; who are the modern Medes; and what is the connection between the prince and the king of Tyre, and the false prophet?
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
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