Are We Real Christians?
Last week’s Editorial asked, “Are you a GOOD Christian?” This week, let us ask, “Are we REAL Christians?” If you answered “yes,” how do you know?
Are we real Christians because we believe in God and Christ? James 2:19 says “… Even the demons believe…” Clearly, demons are NOT Christians. So just believing in the existence of God does not make us real Christians.
Does observing the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days and Festivals like the Passover make us real Christians? 1 Corinthians 11:27 says it is possible to observe the Passover in the wrong way and “…be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” So just observing God’s weekly and annual Festivals and Holy Days, even though necessary, does not make us real Christians.
What if our knowledge of God’s truth is superior to others? What if we have a better understanding of prophecy; a more perfect grasp of the mysteries of the Bible; and if we are more full of faith than others? Surely these things alone make us real Christians, right? Wrong! 1 Corinthians 13:2 says it is possible to have ALL of these things and STILL be “nothing” in the eyes of God, if something else is missing.
The truth is that neither praying (Matthew 6:5; 23:14); preaching (Psalm 50:16; 1 Corinthians 9:27); fasting (Isaiah 58:3-5; Matthew 6:16); tithing (Luke 11:42; 18:12); giving (Matthew 6:1-2); nor even giving up our life under certain circumstances (1 Corinthians 13:3); are enough, to make us real Christians in God’s eyes, which are the only eyes that count. Of course, right prayer; right fasting; right tithing; right giving, including our very lives; and right preaching by those who are commissioned by God to preach; ARE absolutely necessary; but God must see something else in us to consider us real Christians.
In this Editorial, we will be discussing three most important attributes which must be present in our lives, if we want to be real Christians.
Firstly, the Bible clearly shows that real Christians must speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15, 25); walk in truth (2 John 1:4); and worship in truth (John 4:23-24). What is more, 2 Thessalonians 2:10 shows it is not possible to be saved without a deep and genuine LOVE of the truth.
When God looks at us, does He see real Christians that love and cherish the opportunity to know His truth? Turning to and studying the verses quoted in our weekly Updates, member letters and booklets, as well as listening attentively to our weekly and annual messages in services, may be one good way to show how much we are eager to learn the truth.
Secondly, God has demonstrated immeasurable love for us. He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16). He offered us, as a gift, eternal life (Romans 6:23); and He prepared an unending future of peace and abundance for us (Matthew 25:34; 1 Corinthians 2:9); all while we were sinners and enemies against Him (Romans 5:8, 10). He called us or picked us out (1 Corinthians 1:26); He washed us off (1 Corinthians 6:11); and He made it possible for us to be in His Family (1 John 3:1-2).
How have we responded?
Does God see an unmistakable love of Him and His ways in us; or does He see us leaning towards a love of the world and its ways? The Bible is clear that we cannot have it BOTH ways (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-16). We must either grow in the fervent love of God and His ways (Mark 12:30; 1 John 2:5; 2 John 6; Deuteronomy 10:12-13); or we are NOT real Christians (1 John 2:4).
Thirdly, why does the Bible talk so much about love and law? Quite simply, because God IS love (1 John 4:8), and “this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). Love fulfills His law–God’s love in us KEEPS it to the FULLEST (Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:8). Love is the PURPOSE or AIM of His law (1 Timothy 1:5). When we keep the law in the right way and with the right motives, we show how much we love God. And, as Matthew 22:36-40 explains, all the law and the prophets hang on the two great commandments—to love God and to love our neighbor. Love and the law are inseparable.
But it is not possible to fulfill the first great commandment to love God if we do not fulfill the second commandment to love our neighbor. 1 John 4:20-21 makes this plain: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, HOW CAN HE love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
What’s more, Christ Himself not only commands us to love our brethren (John 13:35; 1 Peter 1:22) and those who love us (Luke 6:32-33), but to demonstrate HIS gentle, heartfelt and merciful love towards ALL, including those who do not love us in return (Luke 6:27-35). Paul left us a moving example of this in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”
The commandments to love are comprehensive and inescapable. We are commanded to bear with others in love (Ephesians 4:2); to speak the truth to others in love (Ephesians 4:15); and to let ALL that we do to everyone be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Whether it is a love of the truth; a love of God; or a love for others; we are commanded to walk in love as Christ walked (1 John 2:6; Ephesians 5:2). If God’s Spirit lives in us (Romans 8:9) and we really do and grow in these things, we not only can assure our hearts before God (1 John 3:18-19), but we can assure ourselves that we are real Christians.
We are reporting on Turkey’s ongoing dubious performance related to the tragic flotilla clash and the raising of the Turkish flag on the Temple Mount; the condemnation of Israeli politics through prominent Jews; Iran’s involvement in Gaza; and Saudi Arabia’s denial of their willingness to assist Israel in a potential strike against Iran.
In European news, warnings are being heard that even though there is no fear that the euro will disappear, there are concerns that the survival of Europe’s democracies may be in jeopardy, and that the German government might collapse.
The terrible war in Afghanistan will continue for sure and become even more violent and bloody, after vast mineral wealth has been discovered in the country.
Rumors continue that President Obama is really a Muslim; and we report on America’s incredible indebtedness to China.
Turning our attention to the ongoing oil spill, the U.S. government is contemplating action which will involve “transition costs” for the American people; and we observe a potential widening of a rift between the US and GB over the oil spill.
We publish an interesting news article, titled, “Gulf Oil Spill Disaster and Biblical Prophecy,” and quote, among others, the following statement: “.. there are global problems that tie our world together as never before – for better and for worse, and there are few simultaneous threats that compare to the financial, social and environmental issues we are facing today. We are living in a time when history cannot repeat itself, because we have never experienced anything like this before.”
While the Pope is sorry about the sex scandal in his church and among his clergy, he is absolutely opposed to any abandonment of celibacy, which is perceived as being largely responsible for the problems of the Catholic clergy. Der Spiegel discusses the incredible wealth of the Catholic Church and the largely unknown fact that the German government pays the church each year millions of euros. [Our new German AufPostenStehen program titled, “Das liebe Geld der Kirchen” (“The Dear Money of the Churches”), discusses this unique situation.]
The superstitious belief in witch doctors is high in Africa, and so is the superstitious belief in the “god of medicine” in the Western word, especially in America. But, for instance, indifferent doctors and hospitals are using far too much medical radiation for the identification of sicknesses of unsuspecting patients, thereby drastically increasing the risk of their patient’s cancer.
We conclude with articles warning about the end of the world through a space storm and large asteroids, which did damage this earth in the past. As the Independent wrote: “The next one can happen any time…” In addition, we experienced this week several major earthquakes, including one in India (with a magnitude of 7.5), and several earthquakes and aftershocks in Southern California (including one with a magnitude of 5.7).
This Week in the News
Incredible–Turkish Flag on Temple Mount
A-7 (Israel National News) reported on June 14:
“The Turkish flag was raised over the Temple Mount last week, following the flotilla clash while Jerusalem police banned Jews from holding the monthly march around the ancient gates of the holy site because of ‘security concerns.’ Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Israel National News that the unprecedented flag raising was legal. The pictures of the Turkish flag waving over the Temple Mount, where the First and Second Holy Temples were built and where the golden-domed Al-Aqsa mosque now stands, were published on the Turkish web site PLS48.net…
“Although there is no law against raising flags over the site, the practice has been shunned in order to prevent flaring tempers from Muslims and Jews. The Israel flag was raised over the Temple Mount for a few hours on June 6, 1967, after all of Jerusalem was restored to Israel in the Six-Day War. It was taken down under orders of then-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan…
“Jimmy Carter, who… was President of the United States [from 1978-1982], warned that Sadat would not sign a peace treaty without the raising of the Saudi flag. He suggested that a flag would be flown only over the mosque and nowhere else over the Temple Mount, but Begin retorted, ‘Not on the Temple Mount’…”
The activities surrounding the Temple Mount are bound to “explode.” This will be especially true when the Jews will begin to offer the prophesied sacrifices on the Temple Mount.
Turkey Behind Flotilla
On June 11, The Jerusalem Post wrote:
“The captain of the Mavi Marmara tried to convince dozens of IHH activists not to engage in violent clashes with the IDF two hours prior to the commando’s boarding of the ship… The Gaza flotilla ship’s captain, Mehmet Tubal, said while being investigated in Israel that he and other members of the Mavi Marmara’s staff did all they could to prevent the activists from confronting soldiers, even throwing some of the IHH member’s metal pipes and chains overboard. Another senior member of the ship’s staff said that 40 IHH activists took control of the Mavi Marmara and dictated the rest of the passengers’ movements.
“The occurrence of violence aboard the Mavi Marmara may have been predetermined by the IHH ‘s purchase of the ship along with possible tacit approval from the Turkish government. ‘[The] IHH acquired the Mavi Marmara ship from the AKP-run municipality of Istanbul. It is not conceivable that the IHH’s Gaza operation could have been carried out absent high-level government sanction,’ wrote Svante Cornell, a Swedish security expert… A journalist on-board the Mavi Marmara, described as having good links with the heads of the Turkish government and Bulent Yildirim, head of the IHH, had stated, ‘The flotilla was organized with the support of the Turkish government and Prime Minister Erdogan gave the instructions for it to set sail. That was despite the fact that everyone knew it would never reach its destination…'”
As can be expected, the Turkish government denied any and all involvement. Turkey, biblical “Edom,” will become very hostile towards Israel in the future. The book of Obadiah speaks of the coming Day of the Lord (verse 15). It says about Edom:
“For your violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, And you shall be cut off forever. In the day that you stood on the other side–In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem–Even you were as one of them. But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother In the day of his captivity; Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah In the day of their destruction; Nor should you have spoken proudly In the day of distress… Nor laid hands on their substance In the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads To cut off those among them who escaped; Nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained In the day of distress” (verse 10-14).
Is it Really?–Worldwide Condemnation of Israel Reminiscent of Hitler Era?
Is it Really?–Worldwide Condemnation of Israel Reminiscent of Hitler Era?
On June 11, Haaretz published an article by Henry Siegman, former Senior Fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations and, before that, national director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994. What first appears to be a defense of the policies of the state of Israel turns into a blatant condemnation of the Israeli government and the thinking of most Jews in the state of Israel:
“Following Israel’s bloody interdiction of the Gaza Flotilla, I called a life-long friend in Israel to inquire about the mood of the country. My friend, an intellectual and a kind and generous man, has nevertheless long sided with Israeli hardliners. Still, I was entirely unprepared for his response. He told me—in a voice trembling with emotion—that the world’s outpouring of condemnation of Israel is reminiscent of the dark period of the Hitler era. He told me most everyone in Israel felt that way…
“Like me, my friend personally experienced those dark Hitler years, having lived under Nazi occupation, as did so many of Israel’s Jewish citizens. I was therefore stunned by the analogy. He went on to say that the so-called human rights activists on the Turkish ship were in fact terrorists and thugs paid to assault Israeli authorities to provoke an incident that would discredit the Jewish state…
“When I managed to get over the shock of that exchange, it struck me that the invocation of the Hitler era was actually a frighteningly apt and searing analogy, although not the one my friend intended. A million and a half civilians have been forced to live in an open-air prison in inhuman conditions for over three years now, but unlike the Hitler years, they are not Jews but Palestinians. Their jailers, incredibly, are survivors of the Holocaust, or their descendants. Of course, the inmates of Gaza are not destined for gas chambers, as the Jews were, but they have been reduced to a debased and hopeless existence.
“Fully 80% of Gaza’s population lives on the edge of malnutrition, depending on international charities for their daily nourishment. According to the UN and World Health authorities, Gaza’s children suffer from dramatically increased morbidity that will affect and shorten the lives of many of them. This obscenity is a consequence of a deliberate and carefully calculated Israeli policy aimed at de-developing Gaza by destroying not only its economy but its physical and social infrastructure while sealing it hermitically [sic] from the outside world…
“Another feature of that dark era were absurd conspiracies attributed to the Jews by otherwise intelligent and cultured Germans. Sadly, even smart Jews are not immune to that disease…
“Of course, even the most objectionable Israeli policies do not begin to compare with Hitler’s Germany. But the essential moral issues are the same. How would Jews have reacted to their tormentors had they been consigned to the kind of existence Israel has imposed on Gaza’s population?… The German White Rose activists, mostly students from the University of Munich, who dared to condemn the German persecution of the Jews (well before the concentration camp exterminations began) were also considered ‘traitors’ by their fellow Germans, who did not mourn the beheading of these activists by the Gestapo.
“So, yes, there is reason for Israelis, and for Jews generally, to think long and hard about the dark Hitler era at this particular time. For the significance of the Gaza Flotilla incident lies not in the questions raised about violations of international law on the high seas, or even about ‘who assaulted who’ first on the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, but in the larger questions raised about our common human condition by Israel’s occupation policies and its devastation of Gaza’s civilian population.
“If a people who so recently experienced on its own flesh such unspeakable inhumanities cannot muster the moral imagination to understand the injustice and suffering its territorial ambitions—and even its legitimate security concerns—are inflicting on another people, what hope is there for the rest of us?…”
Zechariah 14:14 says that “Judah will fight against Jerusalem” (Revised Standard Version; New American Bible; New Jerusalem Bible; Luther Bible; Elberfelder Bible; Menge Bible; Zuercher Bible). More and more Jews, living outside the state of Israel, will become frustrated with their government’s policies and will ultimately join other nations in their fight against Jerusalem (compare Zechariah 14:2).
Iran Sends “Aid Ships” to Gaza
Reuters reported on June 14:
“Iran is sending aid ships to blockaded Gaza, state radio said on Monday — a move likely to be considered provocative by Israel which accuses Tehran of arming the Palestinian enclave’s Islamist rulers, Hamas. One ship left port on Sunday and another will depart by Friday, loaded with food, construction material and toys, the report said. The boats would be part of international efforts to break Israel’s isolation of the Gaza Strip…
“Israeli troops two weeks ago boarded a flotilla of Turkish aid ships heading to Gaza on May 31 and killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, most of them Turks. Public opinion in Muslim countries was outraged by the killings. An official of the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s youth organisation said some 100,000 Iranians had volunteered as potential crew for aid ships, Iran daily reported.
“A senior Iranian official said earlier Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were ready to provide a military escort to aid ships heading to Gaza if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei so commands. But the Guards’ deputy head, Hossein Salami, said there were no plans to do so… Any such military mobilisation would risk a major confrontation with Israel…”
We will have to see how far Iran is willing to go to provoke a fight with Israel.
Saudi Arabia Will Not Allow Israel to Use Their Airspace
Haaretz reported on June 12:
“Saudi Arabia would not allow Israeli bombers to pass through its airspace en route to a possible strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities, a member of the Saudi royal family said Saturday, denying an earlier Times of London report. Earlier Saturday, the Times reported that Saudi Arabia has practiced standing down its anti-aircraft systems to allow Israeli warplanes passage on their way to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, adding that the Saudis have allocated a narrow corridor of airspace in the north of the country.
“Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi envoy to the U.K. speaking to the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, denied that report, saying such a move ‘would be against the policy adopted and followed by the Kingdom.’ According to Asharq al-Awsat report, bin Nawaf reiterated the Saudi Arabia’s rejection of any violation of its territories or airspace, adding that it would be ‘illogical to allow the Israeli occupying force, with whom Saudi Arabia has no relations whatsoever, to use its land and airspace’…
“Despite tensions between them, Israel and Saudi Arabia share a mutual hostility to Iran… Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit consent to the raid from the United States, whose troops are occupying the country. So far, the Obama Administration has refused this.
“On Wednesday the United Nations passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in an attempt to force it to stop enriching uranium. But immediately after the UN vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed the nuclear program would continue. Israel hailed the vote – but said sanctions were not enough and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to rule out a raid.”
It appears indeed doubtful that Saudi Arabia would lend a hand to Israel, as Arab nations, including Saudi-Arabia (“Ishmael”), as well as Turkey (“Edom”), will form a confederacy against Israel (Psalm 83:5-8).
Euro Here to Stay
Bloomberg reported on June 11:
” European Central Bank council member Mario Draghi said the euro cannot be undone. ‘There is no going back on the euro,’ Draghi said on the sidelines of a conference in Helsinki. ‘People have to understand the euro is to stay.'”
Euro on the Rise?
CNBC wrote on June 15:
“The euro rose against the dollar as strong demand for government debt from several European countries offset worries about the debt crisis…
“’Most of the downtrend in the euro is done,’ said Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Global Arena Investment Management. ‘We’ll probably have one more downdraft for the euro by August to around $1.15, but that’s it.’”
Will Europe Return to the 1930’s?
The EUObserver wrote on June 14:
“The chief of Europe’s trade union chiefs, John Monks, has warned that the austerity packages being imposed across the bloc will send the continent ‘back to the 1930s’… ‘This is extremely dangerous. This is 1931, we’re heading back to the 1930s, with the Great Depression and we ended up with militarist dictatorship,’ the general secretary of the European Trades Union Congress (ETUC) said… ‘I’m not saying we’re there yet, but it’s potentially very serious, not just economically, but politically as well.’
“Mr Monks reported that Mr Barroso has similar concerns, but based on diametrically opposed reasoning. He said the commission chief believes the austerity packages will save Europe from returning to the darkest days of the last century rather than precipitating the fall. ‘I had a discussion with Barroso last Friday about what can be done for Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest and his message was blunt: “Look, if they do not carry out these austerity packages, these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies. They’ve got no choice, this is it.” He’s very, very worried. He shocked us with an apocalyptic vision of democracies in Europe collapsing because of the state of indebtedness'”…”
Germany’s Government About to Crumble?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 15:
“… many in Germany are befuddled by the apparent inability of Merkel’s coalition… to govern. And the frustration isn’t just limited to the opposition. Conflict after conflict has marked the eight months since the chancellor began her second term in office… And with party and coalition discipline crumbling, an otherwise routine vote on June 30 to replace [German President] Köhler threatens to become Merkel’s Waterloo… And revolt is in the air.
“Of particular concern for the chancellor is her seeming inability to put even a single conflict within her coalition, or even within her own party, to rest… A government minister told SPIEGEL last week that there are a handful of ministers who see little point in continuing. He said that a premature disintegration of Merkel’s coalition is a very real possibility. According to a survey conducted by pollster Infratest, 55 percent of the German public agrees…
“Which means that the approaching presidential election feels increasingly like a vote of confidence on Merkel’s leadership. Potentially even more ominous for Merkel, the opposition has come up with a highly attractive candidate: Joachim Gauck, a former anti-communist human rights activist in East Germany, who was later in charge of the administration of the Stasi secret police files after German reunification.
“Not only have the Greens and the SPD rallied behind him, but there are many within the FDP who were turned off by the heavy-handed manner in which Merkel selected her party’s presidential candidate. Some have openly thrown their support behind Gauck. Even within Merkel’s CDU, there are some who have wondered aloud whether Gauck might not be the better choice. Were the German public allowed to vote, Gauck would beat Merkel’s candidate Wulff by 40 percent to 31 percent, according to recent surveys.
“… new elections could send both parties into the opposition… Even should her government survive the summer, it appears unlikely that significant improvement will be made… Gero Neugebauer, a political science professor at Berlin’s Free University, told SPIEGEL ONLINE [:] ‘Merkel failed to come up with a unifying aim for her government. Now, her only grip on power is that there is no alternative.'”
But there will soon be an “alternative.” The Bible says that in the end, ten European “core” nations or groups of nations “will give their power and authority” to a dictator (Revelation 17:12-13). By then, democracy in Europe will have ceased. In this light, the next announcement is also quite interesting.
European Cross-Border Economic Government?
Deutsche Welle reported on June 17:
“Leaders of eurozone countries and all other EU member states are meeting in Brussels this Thursday to address the mounting problem of debt in Europe. Statements heading into the summit said efforts would be made to establish a cross-border economic government to prevent the recurrence of financial crises in the bloc.”
Now For Sure–the War in Afghanistan Will Continue
The Washington Post wrote on June 14:
“U.S. geologists have discovered vast mineral wealth in Afghanistan, possibly amounting to $1 trillion, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman said Monday… The New York Times reported the $1 trillion figure in Monday’s edition and quoted senior American officials as saying untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan are far beyond any previously known reserves and were enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself…”
We can expect the fighting in Afghanistan to intensify as both the Allies and the Taliban want to make sure that they will be in charge of the “rich” Afghan mineral wealth. Ultimately, wars are being fought because of lust and greed, notwithstanding all the nice justifications which politicians are offering to unsuspecting or willfully ignorant or forgetful people (compare James 4:1-3).
President Obama a Muslim?
WorldNet Daily wrote on June 14:
“An Egyptian foreign-service official’s comment about President Obama is turning into a sensation among bloggers for its claim that the American leader claims to be Muslim… Obama… claimed to be a Muslim in a television interview where the interviewer corrected his ‘misstatement’ and he has referenced the Muslim heritage in America’s past several times.
“Now the heat on the issue is being turned up because of a weeks-old report in Israel Today. In the report, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying during an appearance on Nile TV that ‘the American president told me in confidence that he is a Muslim.’
“The White House remained silent on the comment, declining to respond to a WND request for comment.”
For further information, please view our StandingWatch program, “Why the Fort Hood Massacre?”
China’s US Government Debt Holdings Hit 2010 High
AFP wrote on June 15:
“The cash-rich Chinese government raised its US Treasury bond holdings to 900.2 billion dollars in April, its highest level since November 2009, while posting the second consecutive monthly rise, according to a report on international capital flows. China remained far ahead as the top foreign debt holder, followed by Japan, which held 795.5 billion dollars in April, and third-placed Britain at 239.3 billion dollars, according to the figures… some analysts said Beijing was secretly buying bonds via third countries to mask its importance as a creditor — a role which had attracted considerable scrutiny…
“The data Tuesday indicated that China remains ‘a steadfast buyer’ of Treasuries, averaging 10.3 billion dollars per month in 2009 and 8.2 billion dollars per month for the first four months of 2010, he said. China, the world’s largest holder of foreign-exchange reserves, has been constantly criticizing Washington for its snowballing debt levels, fearing that Beijing’s investment in US government bonds could turn sour if a debt crisis overwhelms America.”
President Obama: “There Will Be Transition Costs”
On June 14, President Obama wrote the following public announcement, which was circulated on the Internet:
“The BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast is the worst environmental disaster of its kind in our nation’s history. I am returning to the region today to review our efforts and meet with families and business owners affected by the catastrophe. We are working to hold BP accountable for the damage to the lands and the livelihoods of the Gulf Coast, and we are taking strong precautions to make certain a spill like this never happens again…
“Today, we consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than two percent of the world’s oil reserves. Beyond the risks inherent in drilling four miles beneath the surface of the Earth, our dependence on oil means that we will continue to send billions of dollars of our hard-earned wealth to other countries every month — including many in dangerous and unstable regions.
“In other words, our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardize our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk…
“The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a new future. That means continuing our unprecedented effort to make everything — from our homes and businesses to our cars and trucks — more energy-efficient. It means rolling back billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development… There will be transition costs and a time of adjustment…”
In a time of national economic crisis, “transition costs” may be the last thing this country needs.
“Insults Across the Water”
The New York Times wrote on June 13:
“Well, now: it seems our dear ally across the pond feels that a row has broken out over the intemperance of the American president toward mighty BP. ‘Anglophobic spite,’ was the charge leveled at President Obama by a columnist for The Daily Mail, implausibly attributing the animus to Obama’s Kenyan father. London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, demanded an end to ‘anti-British rhetoric.’ He demanded it! Or else. And a leading Tory by name of Lord Tebbit branded Obama’s conduct ‘despicable.’
“All of this came just before the extraordinary events on Saturday in South Africa, when the American boys — none of whom could make the British squad, it is said — played Her Majesty’s finest to a draw in the World Cup’s opening round. ‘Brit Kneels Before America!’ was the headline on the ever-subtle Drudge Report, with a picture of the poor English goalie on his knees. The oil spill may long be forgotten in Britain before the English get over that single goal scored by the Yanks…
“American anger has little to do with the island nation and everything to do with a multinational corporation that has appeared tone deaf and negligent… The insults across the water can be explained, in part, by that old line about two nations separated by a common language…
“… my colleague Sarah Lyall explained the gap this way:
“‘We look to the future; they look to the past. We run for election; they stand for it. We noisily and proudly proclaim our Americanness; they shuffle their feet and apologize for their Britishness. We trumpet our success; they brag about their failures. When they say they are pleased to meet you, they often mean nothing of the kind'”…
“And who can forget that headline in The Daily Mirror after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004: ‘How Can 59,054,087 People Be So Dumb?’…
“… the oil spill is death to a way of life for thousands, and a high crime against nature. The anger is real… This week, it’s only going to get worse, when BP directors consider whether to suspend their dividend, and the company’s executives are called to the White House. The president plans to ask them to set up an escrow account for those affected by the spill.
“For diversion, there is a month of glorious soccer, often called a gentleman’s game played by thugs, which is a good way to describe the politics of two democracies from the same family.”
Sadly, animosity and antagonism will increase between the “two democracies from the same family”–the family or house of Israel and of Israel’s son Joseph, with Joseph’s son Ephraim being the ancestor of modern Great Britain, and Joseph’s son Manasseh being the ancestor of modern USA. Isaiah 9:21 says: “Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, And they together shall be against Judah.” Only after Christ’s return, that situation will change, as Isaiah 11:13 says: “Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart, And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.”
Gulf Oil Spill Disaster and Biblical Prophecy
The Examiner wrote on June 13:
“A number of websites and news organizations have begun to relate the Gulf oil spill with predictions of disaster as told in the book of Revelations in the Christian Bible…
“Revelation 8:8–11 [:] ‘The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed … A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter.’
“… there are similarities in what we are able to see in the Gulf of Mexico now, and what was written then.
“Approximately one-third of Gulf waters are now off limits to fishing, and many images of the oil spill resemble an ominous river of red. Thousands of uncounted sea creatures have died and the numbers are still rising. Some patches of surface oil have been set on fire and BP plans to burn more.
“The Christian Bible states that the tribulations in Revelation are ‘judgements’ for the evils of humanity: Greed; hatred; bigotry and discrimination against the poor, among other social and ethical ills; all are spoken against in the Bible. Yet all are found in today’s political and social environment…
“Believers in the Christian Bible have a foundation on which to base their apocalyptic theories as it relates to the Gulf oil spill, along with other foretold events taking place in our world today. ‘Earthquakes in various places’, violence, upheaval, starvation and other natural disasters, are all referenced as signs of the apocalypse in the Books of Revelation and Daniel.
“… there are global problems that tie our world together as never before – for better and for worse, and there are few simultaneous threats that compare to the financial, social and environmental issues we are facing today. We are living in a time when history cannot repeat itself, because we have never experienced anything like this before.”
This is quite a statement. Jesus Christ warned that a devastating time would soon come upon mankind, stating in Matthew 24:21: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Daniel 12:1 speaks about that same time, saying: “… And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time.”
Pope Is “Sorry” for Sex Scandal and Strongly Defends Celibacy
On June 11, USA Today wrote:
“Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Pope Benedict XVI has apologized — again — for clergy sexual abuse of minors as the global scandal continues to scorch his papacy. This time, the apology came at a Mass celebrating the conclusion of the Year of the Priest… But will this be enough? No, says BishopAccountability.Org, the first of the victim’s groups to roll out a statement.
“‘The pope’s response has been platitudes, metaphor, and rhetoric. What’s worse, with the appalled Catholic laity waiting for solutions, the Pope prescribed merely an internal, inadequate next step — better seminary screening and formation. But we all have learned in recent years that the most effective solutions lie outside the Church. To solve this massive crisis, the Pope must take specific actions himself and also endorse and facilitate certain external measures that would advance transparency and justice.'”
USA Today added on June 13:
“Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended celibacy for priests as a sign of faith in an increasingly secular world during a rally Thursday that drew some 15,000 priests from around the world to Rome.”
The Hidden Wealth of the Catholic Church
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 14:
“The Catholic Church in Germany, already struggling to cope with the sex abuse scandal, has been hit by revelations of theft, opaque accounting and extravagance… The Catholic Church is currently being shaken by a number of financial scandals…
“More than €40 million have gone missing in the Diocese of Magdeburg in eastern Germany, €5 million have disappeared in Limburg near Frankfurt, and it was recently discovered that a senior priest in the Diocese of Münster had 30 secret bank accounts…
“The unemployed, recipients of housing assistance, families, communities, businesses, the military — in the coming years, the federal government plans to deprive them all of billions of euros. But the church, of all things, is being spared, and hardly anyone questions the generous support it receives from the government.
“Financially speaking, Germany’s dioceses are in excellent shape. ‘The Catholic Church claims that it’s poor, but the truth is that it hides its wealth,’ says Carsten Frerk, a Berlin political scientist who, after years of research, is publishing ‘Violettbuch Kirchenfinanzen’ (The Violet Book of Church Finances) this fall. Frerk estimates the cash assets of the church’s legal entities at about €50 billion…
“The assets, accumulated over the centuries, are invested in many areas, including real estate, church-owned banks, academies, breweries, vineyards, media companies and hospitals. The church also derives income from stock holdings, foundations and bequests…
“Year after year, both the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church in Germany receive generous payments from the federal, state and local governments. Not as well known as the church tax (about €10 billion a year) are the annual subsidies to the church, both direct and indirect, which in 2000 amounted to an estimated €17 billion.
“The government pays substantial sums of money for the maintenance and constant renovation of cathedrals and other church buildings. It pays the salaries of religion teachers and foots the bill for the altar wine used in church services for the military. Some benefits, such as the annual firewood deliveries a few southern German towns make to their bishop, are based on 200-year-old entitlements that politicians have never reviewed.
“Despite the constitutional separation of church and state in Germany, substantial subsidies are paid for church conferences, church libraries, pastors who minister to police officers, inmates of prisons and psychiatric institutions, and the military. The government even helps to pay for the employment of conscientious objectors, and for the maintenance of offering boxes and wayside crosses.
“In return, the church is not even required to pay taxes: no property tax, no corporate tax and no capital gains tax. Everything it does as a public corporation in Germany is considered charitable, benevolent and tax-exempt. Unlike other public corporations like universities, the church is not subject to any state supervision.”
The unspeakable wealth of the Roman Catholic Church is vividly described in chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Revelation.
The Witchdoctors of African Football
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 11:
“Aliyu Mbenkem and Julienn Aboude are absolutely convinced of their magical powers. The two faith healers live in a village called Akolinga in the West African nation of Cameroon… Can they influence the outcome of a football game? ‘That’s nothing. All I have to do is cast a few shells and contact the spirit of the playing field, then our own goal will be nailed up and the opposition’s goal will be wide open,’ the magician Mbenkem says…
“The Confederation of African Football likewise doesn’t want to hear about magic anymore and have banned witchcraft. No substances may be sprinkled over the playing fields and there can be no witch doctors on the bench with the teams…
“And then there is also the legendary story that is told about the Ivory Coast team, which won the Africa Cup of Nations final in 1992 after a penalty shoot-out 11:10. The fans credited the victory to the witch doctors who had been employed by the Ministry of Sport. The witch doctors themselves said that their services had been commissioned by the Ministry but that they had never been compensated for their services. As a result, they cursed the national team. And indeed, the Elephants, as the team is known, won nothing for years. Finally, a decade later, the country’s defense minister apologized to the aggrieved witch doctors on behalf of the nation for ‘the 1992 promise that was not fulfilled after the Africa Cup.’ The minister also offered the witchdoctors $2,000 (around €1,670) and asked them to start working for ‘the republic and the sports minister’ again.
“‘They bend the lines, bewitch the ball, befuddle the referees (and) paralyze goal keepers,’ Bartholomäus Grill, the Africa correspondent for weekly newspaper Die Zeit, wrote about the witch doctors… ‘Just as every German team has a masseur, every African team has a witchdoctor,’ says Anthony Baffoe, a Ghanaian footballer who played for years in Germany’s top league as well as for Ghana’s national team and who now works for the Ghana Football Association. German filmmaker Oliver Becker tells of watching a Tanzanian player anoint the grave of a deceased teammate with chicken blood so that he might acquire the dribbling skills of the dead man, for himself. And the Botswana Sports Magazine has even felt it necessary to inform citizens that: ‘There is no evidence that football games can be won through witchcraft alone.'”
These terrible superstitions and demonic influences will only cease after Christ has returned. He will not allow Satan and his evil angels to deceive mankind and to possess mediums, witches, sorcerers and witch doctors to carry out their abominable deeds. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.”
Too Much Medical Radiation
The Associated Press wrote on June 14:
“Americans get the most medical radiation in the world, even more than folks in other rich countries. The U.S. accounts for half of the most advanced procedures that use radiation, and the average American’s dose has grown sixfold over the last couple of decades.
“Too much radiation raises the risk of cancer. That risk is growing because people in everyday situations are getting imaging tests far too often. Like the New Hampshire teen who was about to get a CT scan to check for kidney stones until a radiologist, Dr. Steven Birnbaum, discovered he’d already had 14 of these powerful X-rays for previous episodes…
“Radiation is a hidden danger — you don’t feel it when you get it, and any damage usually doesn’t show up for years. Taken individually, tests that use radiation pose little risk. Over time, though, the dose accumulates. Doctors don’t keep track of radiation given their patients — they order a test, not a dose. Except for mammograms, there are no federal rules on radiation dose…
“How much radiation is risky?
“It’s hard to say. The best guess is based on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident and studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors who had excess cancer risk after exposures of 50 to 150 millisieverts (a measure of dose) of radiation… Since previous studies suggest that a third of all tests are unnecessary, 20 million adults and more than 1 million children are needlessly being put at risk… Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed the medical records of 251 people given heart scans in 2007 and found that only a quarter of them were clearly appropriate.”
Doctors and medicines have their place, but we must use extreme caution and balance. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Sickness and Healing–What the Bible Tells Us.”
Space Storm Coming?
The Daily Telegraph wrote on June 14:
“Britain could face widespread power blackouts and be left without critical communication signals for long periods of time, after the earth is hit by a once-in-a-generation ‘space storm’, Nasa has warned. National power grids could overheat and air travel severely disrupted while electronic items, navigation devices and major satellites could stop working after the Sun reaches its maximum power in a few years.
“Senior space agency scientists believe the Earth will be hit with unprecedented levels of magnetic energy from solar flares after the Sun wakes ‘from a deep slumber’ sometime around 2013, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. In a new warning, Nasa said the super storm would hit like ‘a bolt of lightning’ and could cause catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken.
“Scientists believe it could damage everything from emergency services’ systems, hospital equipment, banking systems and air traffic control devices, through to ‘everyday’ items such as home computers, iPods and Sat Navs. Due to humans’ heavy reliance on electronic devices, which are sensitive to magnetic energy, the storm could leave a multi-billion pound damage bill and ‘potentially devastating’ problems for governments.
“’We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,’ Dr Richard Fisher, the director of Nasa’s Heliophysics division, said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.”
Asteroids and the End of the World
The Independent wrote on June 14:
“What kind of catastrophe would it take to end the world? Astronomical intruders provide a potentially serious threat. Impacts can be caused by stray rubble from the Asteroid Belt and the rocky snowballs that travel in highly elliptical orbits in the comet cloud… Every century or so, a 10-meter meteor slams into the Earth with the force of a small nuclear device. Tunguska was the site of the last, in 1908, and it was pure luck that that meteor landed in the uninhabited wilderness of Siberia.
“Every few thousand years, Earth can pass through unusually thick parts of the debris trail of comets, turning the familiar light show of a meteor shower into a deadly firestorm. Roughly every 100,000 years, a projectile hundreds of meters across unleashes power equal to the world’s nuclear arsenals. The result is devastation over an area the size of England, global tidal waves (if the impact is in the ocean), and enough dust flung into the atmosphere to dim the Sun and kill off vegetation…
“Then there’s the ‘Big One’. About every 100 million years, a rock the size of a small asteroid slams into the Earth, causing global earthquakes, kilometre-high tidal waves, and immediately killing all large land animals. Creatures in the sea soon follow, as trillions of tons of vaporised rock cause drastic cooling and the destruction of the food chain based on photosynthesis. There’s good evidence that this happened 65 million years ago [when] the giant lizards were extinguished.
“A hundred million years sounds like a safe buffer, but the next one could happen at any time…”
The Bible prophesies that this earth will be hit very soon by asteroids, comets or meteorites, as happened in the past. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults.”
Does Revelation 3:12 mean that there will be nothing to do in the Kingdom of God when it says “and he shall go out no more”?
Let us read what this verse says: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”
Does this mean that we will be looking into the face of God for eternity or strumming on harps with no constructive work to do?
First of all, it is critical to show that work is something that is important to God. We read in Genesis 2:2 that “on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” In John 5:17 we read: “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’” Luke 13:14 also tells us that Jesus said: “There are six days on which men ought to work…”
This aspect of work is a theme throughout the Word of God. This is further emphasised in 1 Thessalonians 4:11: “…that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” In 1 Corinthians 4:12, we read: “And we labour, working with our hands…” In 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Paul writes: “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Therefore, we see that work is a principle that God promotes throughout the entirety of His Word, and we are expected to follow that important example.
We know that the Kingdom of God will be on earth and that the saints will be kings and priests (Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10). What will our job be then? There will be much work to do after the horrors of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. Jesus Christ will rule in supreme power from Jerusalem, assisted by those who have been made members of the Family of God in the first resurrection (compare Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
Towns and cities will have to be rebuilt, and the general infrastructure will have to be restored. Much work will be needed to restore the war-ravaged earth at that time. And we will be there to help those who have come through this end-time period, which Daniel 12:1 describes as follows: “There shall be a time of trouble Such as never was since there was a nation Even to that time.”
We will have to help in every way possible, and Isaiah 30:20-21 is instructive in this regard: “And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.” We will be there, as members of the Family of God, to help and assist everyone left on earth at that time, and those born during the Millennium, and that will be our job for 1,000 years.
And the work won’t stop then. Indications are that the Great White Throne Judgment or the “second resurrection,” following the Millennium, will last for 100 years (compare Isaiah 65:20), and at that time all who have ever lived and who were never given a chance for salvation, will have their first opportunity. One hundred years to help guide and assist probably tens or maybe scores of billions of human beings in the second resurrection (Revelation 20:11-12)!
And so we see this pattern of work from the first book in the Bible to the last. It is the way of God, and He doesn’t change in that regard (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).
God’s government will continue to expand throughout eternity. Isaiah 9:6-7 states: “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
What will happen after the Millennium and the second and third resurrections (Revelation 20:13-15)?
As we point out in our free booklets, “God Is a Family” and “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” it is not only the potential of man to rule the earth, but also the entire universe. Right now, Christ, by His power, is upholding the universe (“all things” in Hebrews 1:2, which is translated by Moffat as “the universe”), but it is the potential of man to assist Christ in that endeavor.
We read in Revelation 22:5 that the saints will reign forever and ever, and Romans 8:19, 22 tells us that the whole creation–the entire universe–waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
In a mini-study in the Good News magazine in December 1982, the following comments were made.
“But is there really enough ‘out there’ for our estimated 200 billion spirit sons of God to rule? Astronomers estimate that there are more than 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (40 sextillion) stars that are suns to other planets. This figure is virtually impossible to comprehend. If our estimate of 200 billion sons of God is accurate, that means that each member of God’s family would be responsible for maintaining and developing 200 billion stars and their attendant planets. Those stars and planets would make up a galaxy twice the estimated size of our own Milky Way galaxy. This is your awesome potential – the glorious destiny God has in store for those who seek to do His will and follow His way. Yes, you were born to rule.”
Of course, if the estimated figure of 200 billion sons of God is greatly over-estimated in this article, then a fewer number would mean an even greater workload for born-again members of the Family of God.
Ultimately, this whole earth and the universe will be set on fire, to be changed from corruption into spirit (2 Peter 3:7, 10-13). But that spirit world will be very real–in fact, more real than this physical world–with myriads of suns and planets, but all consisting of spirit. And it will be our task, as spirit beings, to rule first the physical and then the spirit world.
We don’t know how much time will transpire, after the third resurrection and before the creation of the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1)–the change from physical to spirit. The saints might rule over this physical universe for quite some time, before this physical world will be changed into a spirit world and the New Jerusalem will descend to the new earth (Revelation 21:2-27; 22:1-5, 14). (Please see our Q&A, explaining the “New Jerusalem.”)
But after that change from physical to spirit, the saints will continue to rule the spirit world, under God the Father and Jesus Christ.
And so, having established the importance and continuance of work in the physical and spiritual realm, what does Revelation 3:12 mean when it says that “I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.”? It cannot mean, doing nothing. That is not the way of God. We must remember that we will be able to be anywhere at the speed of thought and so those restrictions that we currently have as human beings will be lifted.
Therefore, “going out no more” surely has to be in a spiritual context in the sense of a permanence in the God Family. Since the biblical reference to the temple of God can refer to the spiritual temple–the church of God–the reference in Revelation 3:12 refers to the fact that God’s saints will always be part of that temple. Once they are born again, they will never fall away; they will never “go out” or be cast out of that spiritual temple. They will always be “pillars”–necessary parts–in God’s spiritual temple, and God’s name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4). As spirit beings, we will have so much work to do and will be completely dedicated to God and His way, and that for eternity. That has to be very encouraging news.
Lead Writers: Brian Gale (Great Britain) and Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Special Music for the Feast
Anyone who is interested in participating in special music for the Feast may contact Phyllis Bourque at firstname.lastname@example.org, who will again be coordinating this program. Choir music will be sent out to all who request it. The Feast is fast approaching, and now is a good time to be practicing, whether for choir or for individual performance.
A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, “Israel’s Worldwide Isolation.” Israel’s deadly attack on a flotilla heading towards Gaza was met with universal condemnation. Especially Turkey has been playing a dubious role in this affair. What can we expect to happen soon?
A new German AufPostenStehen program was posted on the Web, titled, “Das liebe Geld der Kirchen” (“The Dear Money of the Churches”). The program discusses the new German austerity measures in light of the unique (and untouched) situation that the German government is paying huge amounts of money to Protestant and Catholic priests and clerics–and that in addition to the church tax (about 9% of salary) of church members, which the German government collects for and then transfers to the churches.
A new member letter was posted on the Web and sent out this week. In the letter, Norbert Link reminds all of us why God has created man and why He revealed His truth to His disciples in this day and age.
A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Das Evangelium und Sie, Teil 4” [“The Gospel and You, Part 4.”] It is discussing the gospel of the Kingdom of God, according to Matthew, and issues like “kingdom of heaven,” “keys of kingdom of heaven” and “binding and loosing.”
by Gilbert DeVaux
I am not the healthiest man, and I have been going through many severe health trials. I have to say, though, that I have been healed time and again since my calling, when I followed the instruction to be anointed by one of God’s ministers.
I most certainly know that any healing did not happen because of any real value of myself, for God chose the base things of this world, and there I would qualify. When going through health trials, I am reminded that the Eternal knew me before this earth was founded, and He has given me hope when I had none.
I have been reminded, especially during times of trial, what a great sacrifice the Father and Jesus Christ have made for me personally; realizing that the stripes that Christ endured were for my physical healing. It might be easy for me to take things for granted, but I never must do so. I have also learned to appreciate more and more our ministry that we have in our small church, for I know that they were called and placed here by our Great Creator God.
When there is not much physical strength in me, I am learning to grow in the faith of Christ living in me, and as I can feel how my brethren are praying for my health, I will continue to pray for them, when they need prayers.
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
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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