By the Light
Paul uses a phrase in Philippians 1:10, “that you may be sincere.” The word used for “sincere” here is an interesting word: eilikrinēs.
This comes from Greek words that mean “the sun’s rays” and “judge”. When compounded it takes on the meaning “judged by sunlight” or “that which is judged in sunshine.”
As Paul’s eyes grew dim, with age and the problems that persisted in his life, he realized the necessity of having a good light to examine a subject. In using this Greek word in this way he wanted to impart to the reader an essential quality of a Christian – we should not have anything that we want or need to hide.
By implication a saint should stand up to the scrutiny of light, and when focused on us, we should come out as a shining example. It is our calling, as we walk in this way, to persistently remove the spots of darkness within our character.
God is light (1 John 1:5; ), and Christ will help us expose the areas that we need to work on by the light (compare Ephesians 5:13-14). As a help “the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light” (compare Proverbs 6:23). Through these and with the help of the power of God that “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13), this can and will be accomplished. As a begotten son of God, Jesus admonished us in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
As we come out of this spiritually high time of the year and go back into the world, we can continue to move forward with the momentum gained during the Fall festival season. And if we are complete in our effort to do what has been set before us, then we too can become a light of the world, shining through our good works, glorifying our Father (compare Matthew 5:14, 16) and walking sincerely in the hope of our calling.
The threat from Muslim terrorists emerged this week as a major worry for Europe! No longer just aimed at the United States and Great Britain, “sleeper cells” with extensive training are already placed for action in Europe. Along with this sobering news, we report about the burgeoning resentment that is surfacing concerning Islamic immigrants–especially in Germany.
A catastrophic spill of industrial sludge that caused death and widespread dangerous pollution in Hungary has brought an outcry for more government controls throughout Europe.
“Deadlocked” describes the latest round of fruitless peace negotiations in the Middle East.
Finally, we take note of the death of Art Gilmore, who was for years a recognized voice announcing “The World Tommorow” radio program.
This Week in the News
Europe Now a Target
On the heels of warnings for American tourists to be more careful in their travels to Great Britain and Europe, European intelligence officials have revealed more details concerning the source of this concern.
CnnWorld reported on October 5:
“The man at the center of an alleged al Qaeda plot to bomb cities in Europe has told investigators the conspiracy was directed by one of the organization’s most senior figures…
“Ahmed Sidiqi, an Afghan German, was detained in Kabul in July and has since been questioned at the United States’ Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the officials say. They say he has told interrogators that while in the tribal areas of Pakistan he met with a senior Al Qaeda leader, Younis al Mauretani, who was planning multiple attacks on European countries that would be similar to the attack on Mumbai, India, in 2008.”
The article concludes:
“There are around 40 Germans believed still to be with jihadist groups in the tribal areas of Pakistan, according to German intelligence officials. More than 200 militants have traveled from Germany to the Afghanistan-Pakistan since the 1990s, and most of them are believed to have received training, according to German intelligence officials.”
Equality For Islam?
German President Wulff’s recent comment that he is also the President for Muslims has triggered an ongoing debate–in fact, it appears to be THE NO. 1 topic in German media.
On October 5, The Local reported:
“Wulff riled his fellow Christian Democrats by saying Islam had become an important part of German society in a speech commemorating the 20th anniversary of German reunification on Sunday.
“While several Christian Democrats and their Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) allies grudgingly admitted Muslims had earned a place in Germany, they bristled at the idea they were changing the core social fabric of the country.
“‘The speech was easily misunderstood,’ CSU politician Norbert Geis told Bild on Tuesday. ‘If the president wanted to equate Islam in Germany with Christianity and Judaism, then I’d consider that wrong.’
“Christian Democrat Wolfgang Bosbach, the head of parliament’s interior affairs committee, also said Islam could not expect to be put on the same level as the faiths based solely on the New and Old Testament.
“‘Islam has certainly become part of the reality of daily life in Germany, but we belong to a Christian-Judeo tradition,’ he said.
“In his first major speech on Sunday since taking office in July, Wulff extended the hand of friendship to Muslims, saying the challenge of integrating them into society was comparable to reunifying the country after the Cold War.
“‘Christianity is of course part of Germany. Judaism is of course part of Germany. This is our Judeo-Christian history … But now Islam is also part of Germany,’ he said in his speech. ‘When German Muslims write to me to say “you are our president”, I reply with all my heart “yes, of course I am your president”.’
“His comments were welcomed by leading German Muslim groups as an important sign that they were not second-class citizens in Germany.
“But out of 1,008 Germans surveyed by YouGov for a poll published on Tuesday, a whopping 66 percent disagreed with their president’s views on Islam. Only 24 percent of those surveyed believed Muslims were as much a part of the country as much as Christians and Jews.”
Also from The Local on October 7, 2010:
“In the wake of Wulff’s speech, the centre-left parties hit back against conservatives who had previously attacked Wulff’s remarks as undermining the core values and traditions of Germany.
“‘Islam needs a fair chance in Germany,’ Dieter Wiefelspütz, interior affairs spokesman for the Social Democrats’ (SPD) parliamentary group, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. ‘It would be an important signal to the four million Muslims in Germany if the state recognised Islam as a religious community.'”
The article continues:
“Secretary general of the German Jewish Council, Stephan Kramer, also slammed the conservative response to Wulff’s speech as ‘close to hysterical’ and said it showed ‘that apparently many politicians even today are shutting themselves off to the reality of an immigrant community.’
“He added: ‘The Muslims living here are part of our society. So of course their religion also belongs in this country.’
“Ultimately the right to exercise freely one’s religious beliefs was anchored in the constitution, he said.
“Yet the debate within Angela Merkel’s conservatives continued. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann of the Christian Social Union said: ‘Our fundamental values are clearly grounded in the Christian-western tradition. Germany does not want to integrate to Islam but rather to preserve its cultural identity.’
“The acting parliamentary leader for the Christian Democrats, Günter Krings, said Islam was a reality in Germany though he did not want to see the practices of some Muslims incorporated into German society.
“‘There are values represented with Islam that I don’t want to see in Germany culture, such as the position of women in the community,’ he said.
“But Kramer said practical solutions had to be found as to how a pluralistic society could be developed for the future. Wulff’s critics, by contrast, were ‘digging out propagandist phrases to create the impression that Germany was facing an immediate choice between the constitution and Sharia law.’
“CDU Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen also took the more positive view that Wulff’s remarks meant many well-integrated Muslims would see Wulff as their president.
“‘His speech was an acknowledgement to the people of Muslim beliefs who live here and want to live here,” he said. ‘But it is clear – and the president also said this – Germany’s religious and cultural roots lie in Christianity and Judaism.'”
These hotly debated issues regarding Islamic beliefs and even the presence of Muslims in Germany, the German State of Bavaria and other areas of central Europe have been slowly coming to a boil! Following the disasterous handling of the Roma immigrants by the current French government, it appears that the underlying question of Europe’s Christian status is also being drug into the fray, and these overlooked core issues will become even more heated as more disputes arise!
Sludging the Danube!
Reuters wrote on October 7, 2010:
“Toxic red sludge from a Hungarian alumina plant reached the Danube on Thursday and crews struggled to dilute it to protect the river from what the prime minister called an ‘unprecedented ecological catastrophe’…
“Philip Weller, executive secretary to the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), a Vienna-based U.N. body, said most damage was local.
“‘It is clear that the consequences of this are greatest in the local area and that the implications on a trans-boundary level, we understand, will not be significant which doesn’t mean they don’t exist,’ he said.
“‘The Hungarian authorities took a number of measures to reduce the toxicity, they added substances to neutralize the material, they also constructed some underwater weirs to slow the mud and maintain it and contain it as much as possible in the Hungarian territory of the river system.’
“It also helps that the Danube is a large river with a very high volume of water, he added.
“Gabor Figeczky, Hungarian branch director of the WWF environmental group said:
“‘Based on our current estimates, it (pollution) will remain contained in Hungary, and we also trust that it will reach Budapest with acceptable pH values.’
“Downstream from the disaster site, the Danube flows through or skirts Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Moldovan and Ukrainian territory en route to the Black Sea.”
As with other significant issues arising within the EU, calls for more controls are being sounded–especially in light of the possible widespread influence of this spillage. While the European Union continues to solidify its governing role, its member states will have to conform in matters that will influence all aspects of life within the EU.
The Middle East: Talks and More Talks
In the latest round of U.S. sponsored peace efforts in the Middle East, a familiar assessment has come forward–“deadlocked!”
The Los Angeles Times carried this report on October 7, 2010:
“Only a month into a new round of peace talks, the Obama administration is drawing criticism from allies and veteran diplomats that it is giving away too much just to keep negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians from collapsing.
“Administration officials have offered an assortment of inducements to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend a freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank for two months. Palestinian officials have threatened to break off the talks unless Israel extends the freeze that expired Sept. 26.
“The U.S. has been wooing Netanyahu for weeks with offers including a squadron of F-35 fighters, support for a long-term Israeli troop presence in a new Palestinian state, and a pledge to veto any anti-Israel resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council. The U.S. also is offering access to its satellites that could provide early warning of attacks.
“To the Palestinians, the White House is pledging support for their position on the exact location of borders for a future state in exchange for a promise to continue negotiating even if Israel refuses to extend the construction moratorium.
“Although the Obama administration was expected to eventually give out incentives to keep the negotiations alive, diplomats and other observers say they are surprised that it has offered so much, so early for such a small victory: a commitment by both sides to keep talking…
“The White House’s willingness to pay a steep price so early in the game reflects the huge stakes for the administration. Obama has said repeatedly that peace the Middle East is vital to U.S. national security.
“U.S. officials fear that if the talks fail now, it may be months before they can coax the sides back to the table, and by then they might be dealing with a new and less cooperative Palestinian leadership. And collapse of the talks would hurt U.S. prestige in the region.
“‘This has become all about American credibility, and that’s why there’s such an effort to keep it going,’ said one person close to the talks, who was unwilling to be identified by name because of the sensitivity of the subject.”
While the Middle East continues to draw the attention from would-be “peace brokers” from all over the world, the underlying concerns will not be resolved–not until Jesus Christ returns and forcibly institutes the rule of God’s government! Our booklets, available at www.eternalgod.org; globalchurchofgod.co.uk; and churchofgodacf.ca, present the biblical truth of prophecy for our time and explanations about how good news does lie ahead! Also, please watch our regular web videos found at www.StandingWatch.org (postings appear on YouTube, as well); and, in German, www.AufPostenStehen.de, both presented by evangelist, Norbert Link.
Art Gilmore Dies
Wire reports of October 3, 2010, relate the death of long-time announcer, Art Gilmore:
“Art Gilmore, who launched his more than 60-year career as an announcer in the 1930s and became a widely recognized voice on radio, television, commercials, documentaries and movie trailers, has died. He was 98.
“Gilmore died Sept. 25 of age-related causes at a convalescent care center near his home in Irvine, Calif., said his nephew, Robb Weller.
“Among the highlights of his long and prolific career:
“On radio,he was the announcer on shows such as ‘Amos ‘n’ Andy,’ ‘Dr. Christian,’ ‘Red Ryder’ and ‘The Sears Radio Theater.’
“Moving to television in the 1950s, he was the announcer for ‘The George Gobel Show,’ and he began a 16-season stint as the announcer on ‘The Red Skelton Show.’ He was also the narrator on the TV series ‘Mackenzie’s Raiders,’ ‘Men of Annapolis’ and ‘Highway Patrol.’
“On radio and television, Gilmore’s voice was heard introducing and concluding ‘The World Tomorrow,’ a church-sponsored program with Herbert W. Armstrong and later his son, Garner Ted Armstrong.
“Moviegoers also heard Gilmore’s voice on more than 2,700 movie trailers.”
How do you “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter” as mentioned in Proverbs 24:11? Specifically, who are “those” and how do you hold “those” back?
Throughout the written Word of God, we see the record of prophets who have arisen to warn people of impending punishment—both on an individual basis and that given to nations. We find the warnings and the consequences that followed!
In His great love and patience, God has sought to turn people from their rebellion against Him: “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live” (Ezekiel 18:23)?
This proclamation is echoed in the writing of the apostle Peter when he states: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Likewise, the apostle Paul writes of God that He “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
From these statements we see that God’s purpose is to save people from death!
This is the message that His servants are to bring to those who stand in opposition to God and whose course of life is leading to their destruction.
Following the very severe judgment brought upon the ten tribes of Israel, we see that in the times leading up to their captivity by Assyria, God sought to warn them:
“Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statues, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets’” (2 Kings 17:13).
Following the punishment on the House of Israel, Judah also refused to be delivered from their rebellious ways, and this testimony records the consequences:
“And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, TILL THERE WAS NO REMEDY” (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).
By the examples of both Israel and Judah, we see that they were NOT delivered—they refused to listen and to be restrained from their own ways!
However, we have another example of a people who did listen, and they were spared. This story is told in the Book of Jonah about Nineveh, the ancient capital city of the Assyrian Empire.
Jesus Christ drew a powerful and unmistakable contrast with the population of Nineveh and those who were hearing His own call to repent and believe the gospel (compare Mark 1:15). Here is what He said:
“The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41).
Attesting to the greater work of Jesus Christ, the Book of John records the hard-hearted, obstinate attitude of those who heard Christ’s preaching:
“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him” (John 12:37).
When the prophet Nathan was sent to David to confront him for his terrible sin of taking Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and then having Uriah murdered, David humbled himself: “So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD…’” (2 Samuel 12:13). We can read of David’s heartfelt repentance in Psalm 51.
In 2 Kings 20:1-11, Isaiah was sent to Hezekiah, king in Judah, telling him to “‘…Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live’” (verse 1). However, Hezekiah bitterly repented—with tears. Note this further record in 2 Chronicles:
“In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the LORD; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah” (2 Chronicles 32:24-26).
In the New Testament, in the Book of Acts, the calling and conversion of Saul is recorded. As a zealous Pharisee, he fought against the emerging Christianity that was growing in Judah—until Jesus appeared to him. In one of the most remarkable instances of a complete turn around, Saul (later named Paul) accepted his correction:
“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished said, ‘Lord what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’” (Acts 9:3-6).
In the previous examples of David, Hezekiah and Paul, we see that they listened, repented and turned to God, and by doing so, they were saved.
In the Church of God there also will be times when our own actions will need to be corrected. We have instructions for how to handle these circumstances, and one of the most foundational is recorded in Matthew 18:15-20. A first step is to speak to someone privately, and then other steps are outlined.
When we take this first step, the sinning brother has an opportunity to repent. Proverbs 17:9 adds this important dimension: “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.”
Adding to this, consider what James says: “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). Then, in 1 Peter, the point is made to remind us to very considerately deal with these situations:
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins‘” (1 Peter 4:8).
We see that the underlying principle is for us to show patient encouragement for those who are drawn back into the world and who stumble at times (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:14). We have this admonition:
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself”
When things go beyond this personal interaction, correction may fall to the ministry, and the Bible also instructs us in these matters. Here is what Paul instructs Christians to do in this regard:
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Also, we know that Jesus Christ has built and continues to oversee and administer His Church, and He affirms that His true ministry shares a role in this responsibility.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
We also believe that the gospel is to be preached in all the world as a WITNESS to people who now stand in defiant rejection of God’s laws and of His government (compare Matthew 24:14). By this preaching, the Church of God is seeking to, “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter (Proverbs 24:11).”
So we see that “those” are any who
are disobedient to God. Jesus said, “‘YOU are the light of the world…’” (Matthew 5:14); Continuing: “‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven’” (verse 16).
Here is the solution given by God:
“‘Perhaps everyone will LISTEN and TURN from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings’” (Jeremiah 26:3).
Lead Writer: Dave Harris
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
This Update resumes our publishing following Update 460 (September 17th, 2010). During this break, we observed the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day in both the US and Great Britain. Details of these meetings will appear in our October member letter. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to receive our letters and booklets, simply make your request through any of the addresses found at the end of this Update.
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