Update 649


How Strong Is Your Faith?

On July 26, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “How Strong Is Your Faith?”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at www.cognetservices.org (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.

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“Sorry! I Forgot!”

by Norbert Link

It is so easy to forget. Especially when one gets older. I may phone someone with a particular purpose in mind, but after being side-tracked during the conversation, I can forget  what I had called about.  It can just “slip” my mind. I try to write down the previous night, or at the beginning of a new working day, what important issues have to be dealt with… lest I forget. But sometimes I forget to prepare or to look at my notes which would have helped me not to forget…

Apart from physical shortcomings like these, we are very clearly told not to be forgetful in spiritual matters.

For instance, we are admonished: “But do not forget to do good and to share” (Hebrews 13:16).  We are also encouraged not to forget to be hospitable (Hebrews 13:2). Proverbs 4:5 tells us: “Do not forget, nor turn away from the words” of wisdom. Many in biblical times had forgotten a very important cause for trials (Hebrews 12:4-6); and, even worse, they had “forgotten” that they were “cleansed” from their “old sins” (2 Peter 1:9).

God warned ancient Israel—and He warns us today—not to forget Him: “Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you” (Deuteronomy 32:18).

How can we forget God?

Moses warned the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 8:11: “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today.” But they did forget God and did not remember His Law, and notice the consequence: “So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs” (Judges 3:7).

When we forget God, we will get involved with paganism and false worship. Godly obedience will cease, and evil and wicked conduct will be the result. Jeremiah 3:21 says: “… they have perverted their ways; they have forgotten the LORD their God.” And Jeremiah 13:25 adds: “… you have forgotten Me And trusted in falsehood.”

Forgetting God and living unrighteously is a matter of cause and effect. Ezekiel 22:7-12 states: “… they have made light of father and mother… they have oppressed the stranger… they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. You have despised my holy things and profaned My Sabbaths…. Men… slander to cause bloodshed… they commit lewdness… they violate women… One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another… violates his sister, his father’s daughter… they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbor by extortion, and have forgotten Me…”

What a terrible list. What an indictment against those who forget God. What a horrible guilty verdict for man who does not remember his Maker.

As Romans 1:28 tells us: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” The list of wicked conduct which follows in verses 29-32 is equally disgusting.

When God opened our minds and called us out of this terrible world to free us from our evil human nature, we were supposed to become a “new creation.” In accepting—and not rejecting or forgetting—the knowledge of God, “we have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge” (Colossians 3:10). That godly knowledge tells us not to sin, but to live righteously, as 1 Corinthians 15:34 says: “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God.”

People in this world, being cut off from God and forgetting and rejecting God’s truth, really do not have the knowledge to do good (Jeremiah 4:22). They are “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). They have “rejected knowledge” and “forgotten” the law of God (same verse). As God’s called-out disciples, we must be different.

At the same time, the Bible tells us that there are things we must forget. But for us, it is so easy to forget what we ought to remember, and to remember what we ought to forget.

We must “forget” those things “which are behind” (Philippians 3:13), while “increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). We are admonished to “grow” in the “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). God’s knowledge helps us to forgive others and forget their sins against us. But without it, we will hold grudges and remember—sometimes for many years—what we should have forgotten a long, long time ago.

How can we grow in God’s knowledge? Where can we get help to leave our old man behind and become a new man with godly knowledge to save us from sin? Jesus Christ has shown us very clearly that His true ministry can be of assistance. We are told in Ephesians 4:11-12 that Christ built His Church and gave it ordained ministers for the “edifying” of the membership, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (verse 13). This will help us to be firm in the truth and not to become confused by strange doctrines and prophetic speculations.

Not all heed this admonition. Some reject God’s ministry and, having itching ears, they look for wrong teachers, thereby forsaking the knowledge of God and sliding back into the wrong ideas of this world. Peter does not warn us without reason:

“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20). He even goes on to say: “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (verse 21).

God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), but there are those who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Why is that so? Because they are not humble enough to be taught, and while they think that they know everything, they know nothing at all. Lack of humility and obedience will prevent us from receiving godly knowledge, and whatever knowledge we might have received will ultimately be completely lost.

Hebrews 10:26-27 warns us:

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”

Forgetting God and rejecting His knowledge puts us on a dangerous and slippery road. We must be doers of His Law and can’t be forgetful hearers (James 1:23-25). When Christ returns and asks us what we did with the knowledge that He gave us, we had better not answer Him: “Sorry, I forgot!” Christ will not accept that kind of an answer. But He will praise us as His friends for remembering and doing what He commanded us (John 15:14). Christ tells us in John 13:17: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Let us not forget, but let us always remember what we must do!

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We are reporting on the terrible atrocities being committed by ISIS and other radical Islamists; the worldwide anger and some despicable accusations against Israel, while the real culprit, Hamas, is largely ignored; and the dubious and repulsive role Russia has been playing in eastern Ukraine and its culpability for the shooting down of the Malaysian passenger plane.

We are continuing with the acquittal of Silvio Berlusconi; tackle the question as to what it means to be a German—especially after Germany’s victory in the Soccer [Football] World Cup; and review the 70th anniversary of the unsuccessful attempt of German resistant fighters to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

We conclude with reports on the word’s rejection of American conduct and activities; and warn that a huge earthquake, hitting Los Angeles, is inevitable.    

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ISIS Forces All Christians Out of Mosul

On July 19, 2014, The Associated Press wrote the following:

“The message played over loudspeakers gave the Christians of Iraq’s second-largest city until midday Saturday to make a choice: convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. By the time the deadline imposed by the Islamic State extremist group expired, the vast majority of Christians in Mosul had made their decision. They fled…and headed for the largely autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq or other areas protected by the Kurdish security forces.

“Their departure marks the latest — and perhaps final — exodus of Christians from the city, emptying out communities that date back to the first centuries of Christianity, including Chaldean, Assyrian and Armenian churches.”

Minorities Persecuted by ISIS and Iraqi Militias

The New York Times added on July 18:

“Christians are among several minorities who are being systematically expelled or killed by ISIS…

“Among them are Yazidis, a tiny sect that has survived for centuries and whose theology fuses elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism; Shabaks, who are often described as Shiites whose language is close to Persian and who take beliefs from different traditions; and Shiite Turkmen. The Yazidis and the Shabaks are being persecuted in the Sinjar area west of Mosul… The United Nations has documented scores of abductions and killings as well as the destruction of shrines.

“The United Nations report noted that extrajudicial killings had also been carried out by Iraqi security forces and allied militias, and warned that the executions on both sides might constitute war crimes…

“As the Christians leave Mosul, ISIS has painted the Arabic letter that means ‘Nasrani,’ from Nazrene, a word often used to refer to Christians, on their homes. Next to the letter, in black, are the words: ‘Property of the Islamic State of Iraq.’ The militants have also told Muslims who rent property from Christians that they no longer need to pay rent, said a businessman who rents from a Christian. The landlord now lives in Lebanon.”

This is so reminiscent of the systematic persecution and ultimate extermination of Jews and other minorities in Nazi Germany. The demons which possessed Hitler’s henchmen resurface now in ISIS and others.

Persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Breitbart wrote on July 22:

“Jews are not the only religious minority in the Middle East under fire… Christians have come under the heaviest hand in the Middle East in generations thanks to the weakness of the United States…

“The rise of the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS) has led to the wholesale slaughter or exile of hundreds of thousands of Christians…

“Thousands upon thousands of Christians have been forced from Syria… opposition fighters drove some 80,000 Christians from Homs alone…

“The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt led to a massive spike in persecution of Christians within the country.

“… the Christian population under Palestinian rule has dwindled with each passing year….Even though Hamas denies involvement in the attacks and claims that it is attempting to protect the small, ancient Christian community in Gaza, attacks on the 3,000 Christians residing there have increased since the Muslim terror militia came [to] seized power…

“Iran has been a disaster area for Christians since the fall of the Shah, but an increasing number of Iranian Christians are fleeing the country now…  Christians have been persecuted in Iran with more and more alacrity as fear of the United States wanes…

“Christianity is no more welcome in Libya after the Arab Spring than under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi before it…

“In the 1970s, before the collapse of the country [Lebanon] into Islamist violence, Christians represented a majority of the population. Now, that number has dropped to 34%…. continued violence and the rise of Islamist groups like Hezbollah has dramatically decreased the Christian population.

“No wonder Pope Francis stated in November 2013, ‘We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians.’ That reality is already well within imagination, thanks to the Islamist Spring…  and the persecution of Christians continues to increase in other countries, including Turkey, Nigeria, and Pakistan.”

Worldwide Demonstrations Against Israel

The Times of Israel wrote on July 19:

“Tens of thousands protested in London Saturday afternoon against Israel’s military operations in Gaza, denouncing Israel as a terrorist state and castigating British Prime Minister David Cameron for backing Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas rocket fire… Saturday’s demonstration in London came on the heels of numerous protests Thursday and Friday worldwide, including Cairo, Istanbul, Cape Town, Berlin, New York and Washington. Many of the protests have turned violent… Calls for the destruction of the Jewish state were heard in both Turkish cities [Ankara and Istanbul].”

Anti-Semitic “demonstrations”, instigated and stirred up by Palestinians, radical Islamists and ignorant and gullible “observers,” are a sign of our time. Note the next article.

Anti-Israel Demonstrations Instigated by Islamist Groups

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 22:

“In many European cities, what began as peaceful protests turned into outpourings of anti-Jewish sentiments and violence against counter-demonstrators. The situation became particularly heated in France… The Gaza conflict has stirred up public opinion in Europe, and it has brought Israel-hatred to Germany along with it… the current demonstrators are mostly members of Islamist groups…

“Many of the participants openly express support for Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Islamic jihad… there is a perfidious tactic behind the Islamists’ campaign… In a recent survey by the ‘Stern’ magazine, more than half of respondents place the blame for the conflict on both Israel and Hamas – and 86 percent believe that Germany should not publically stand on the Israeli side… In the meantime, pro-Gaza demonstrations are set to continue in Germany and other European countries…”

Turkey Condemns Israel

The Times of Israel wrote on July 19:

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of ‘barbarism that surpasses Hitler’ during its ground invasion of Gaza… He has been speaking out strongly against Israel during its offensive against Hamas in Gaza, which has killed more than 300 Palestinians. Hamas has fired some 1,500 rockets at Israel and carried out a series of terrorist infiltrations via tunnels and from the sea in recent days.

“Erdogan accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and has said the operation there has derailed efforts to normalize Turkish-Israeli ties…

“Early Saturday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning to Israeli citizens against nonessential travel to Turkey… Israel decided Friday to pull some of its diplomatic staff out of Turkey in the wake of violent protests targeting the buildings of its embassy and consulate in Ankara and Istanbul, an embassy spokesman said, as well as recent statements that accused Israel of attempting a ‘systematic genocide’ on the Palestinian people…

“Turkey’s foreign minister also ‘vehemently’ condemned Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza…”

The Bible shows that Turkey (biblical Edom) will become a fierce enemy of the Jews and support military actions against the state of Israel. 

UN Warns Israel of War Crimes

BBC News reported on July 23:

“The UN’s top human rights official has condemned Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip, saying that war crimes may have been committed… She also condemned Hamas for ‘indiscriminate attacks’ on Israel.”

South Africa Praises Adolf Hitler

Newsmax reported on July 20:

“An aide with the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, has drawn sharp rebukes from Jewish groups for an outrageous Facebook post praising Adolf Hitler for the Holocaust. Rene Smit, a social media manager with the ANC in the Western Cape province, posted an image of Hitler with the comment: ‘Yes, man, you were right!’ Below Hitler’s face were the words: ‘I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to tell you why I was killing them.’ …

“Smit’s original post came just days after ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte posted a statement on the ANC’s website comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi war crimes.”

With all these unqualified attacks on Israel, one should not forget who the real terrorists are. Please note the next article.

Hamas’ Abominable Terrorist Activities

The Telegraph wrote on July 20:

“Hamas militants sent a donkey laden with explosives on a suicide mission in one of the most unconventional tactics yet seen in the fighting in Gaza, the Israeli army has said. Troops said they were forced to open fire on the animal – blowing it up – as it approached their position in the southern city of Rafah, near the Egyptian border…

“‘They used this donkey as a human shield, or an animal shield, if you like,’ said… an army spokesman. ‘Anything, an animal or an international building, that can help make use of innocent people or international [citizens], they will use it.’… Soldiers in the field have reported ‘multiple incidents’ of dogs trying to approach with explosives attached to them, according to the army.”

Bild Online added on July 18 that Hamas uses children, families, sick and old people as “human shields,” placing them in locations where they are bound to be killed by the Israeli rockets, while the cowardly Hamas leaders seek protection in bunkers.

Why Hamas Tunnels Must Be Destroyed

The Washington Times wrote on July 22:

“A Hamas force wearing Israeli army uniforms emerged from a tunnel inside Israel and inflicted losses on Israeli troops before being wiped out… Israeli losses as of tonight in the four-day-old incursion were 25 dead and several score wounded. An Israeli official said the number of Hamas combatants killed amounted to ‘several hundred.’ Hard fighting was continuing in Gaza as dusk fell, with artillery and air strikes pounding Hamas positions. The fighting focused on the town of Shujaiya. Located only a mile from the Israeli border, it is the source of many tunnels leading towards the border…

“Meanwhile… Hamas gunmen have been killed in the past two days after they emerged from the mouths of tunnels inside the Gaza Strip. Ten of them emerged from a tunnel inside a mosque. Among them was a female suicide bomber who attempted to charge the Israeli soldiers… A senior Israeli officer in Shujaiya said yesterday that one tunnel he had examined was 27 meters deep—equivalent to a seven-story building—and was lined with at least 800 tons of reinforced concrete. He said the existence of such tunnels leading into Israel would have permitted Hamas to send commando forces at night through all of them simultaneously to wreak havoc in the Israeli villages in the area.”

Sunni World Bitterly Divided

The Times of Israel wrote on July 19:

“… the continuing escalation of the conflict in Gaza has actually got nothing to do with Israel itself. Unfortunately, Israel has found itself tangled up in a battle of far wider proportions — a war between two competing axes in the Sunni Muslim world. On the one side are Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, with Jordan and Saudi Arabia likely to join them… On the other, Qatar, Turkey and Hamas, as well as other global supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“This is a proxy war for all intents and purposes… Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel. But Hamas is firing rockets at Tel Aviv and sending terrorists through tunnels into southern Israel while aiming, in essence, at Cairo. It is backed in this by Doha and Ankara.

“… the Sunni war rages and the possibility of a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel becomes more remote. Abbas is still trying to bridge the gap between the parties — between Qatar, Turkey and Egypt, that is; not between Hamas and Israel. But it’s doubtful he will be the man to reunite the bitterly divided Sunni world.”

It is interesting that the Muslims are terribly divided amongst themselves. Not only are Shiites and Sunnis at each other’s throats, but Sunnis are fighting against each other. The view that an Arabic “King of the South” will arise in the Middle East, who will unite all the hostile Sunni and Shia nations under his banner, sounds far-fetched and hardly believable, nor is it in accordance with biblical teaching. For the biblical revelation on this matter, see our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.”

Flights to Israel Suspended or Cancelled

JTA reported on July 22:

“The Federal Aviation Administration prohibited all U.S. airlines from flying to Israel for at least 24 hours. All three U.S. carriers with nonstop flights to Israel – United, U.S. Airways and Delta Airlines — canceled their flights to Tel Aviv on Tuesday… The FAA order came after a rocket fired from Gaza struck and destroyed a home in Yehud, an Israeli town about a mile from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv…

“A slew of other airlines also canceled their flights to Tel Aviv, including Air Canada, Lufthansa, Austria Airlines, Germanwings, Turkish Airlines and Swissair…

“Delta diverted a flight en route to Tel Aviv from New York’s Kennedy Airport on Tuesday… Delta said it made its decision to suspend all flights to Tel Aviv ‘in coordination with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’ and ‘to ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees.’ Korean Air suspended its flights to Tel Aviv last week.”

The Washington Examiner commented on July 22:

“For Hamas, [the ban] could be the biggest break the Islamist group has had since the most recent fighting started — potentially increasing Israeli’s physical and psychological isolation from the rest of the world. The airport handles about 14 million travelers a year.

“Most of the more than 2,000 rockets fired at Israel in the past two weeks have had little effect. Only two Israeli civilians have died, and the Iron Dome missile system — partially funded by the U.S. and incorporating U.S. technology — has been almost 90 percent effective at intercepting rockets fired at populated areas.”

“Russians Did It! Putin’s Rebels BLEW UP MH17 Plane”

Sunday Express wrote on July 19:

“… damning evidence emerged that Moscow supplied the Buk anti-aircraft ­system to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine… US President Barack Obama also laid the blame for the outrage on Russia while investigators from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe were blocked from accessing the crash site by rebel forces…

“President Obama confirmed that the plane was shot down from Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, which is controlled by Putin supporters fighting for independence. He said the rebels could not ‘shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training and that’s coming from Russia’…

“Among the dead were 80 children, including three babies, and more than 100 Aids experts on their way to a conference.”

Russia Is to Blame… One Way or the Other

The Washington Post wrote on July 18:

“This plane crash is a result of the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, an operation deliberately designed to create legal, political and military chaos. Without this chaos, a surface-to-air missile would not have been fired at a passenger plane.

“From the beginning, the Russian government… sent Russian mercenaries and security service operatives… With the help of local thugs, these Russian security men besieged police stations, government offices and other symbols of political authority to delegitimize the Ukrainian state. In this task, they were assisted by the Russian government and by Russia’s state-controlled mass media… Just in the past week, Russian reporting on Ukraine reached a new pitch of hysteria, with fake stories about the supposed crucifixion of a child…

“Into this ambiguous and unstable situation, the Russians cynically funneled a stream of heavy weapons: machine guns and artillery and, eventually, tanks, armed personnel carriers and anti-aircraft missiles. In recent days, the separatist forces were openly using man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and boasting of having taken down large Ukrainian transport planes, clearly with Russian specialist assistance.

“Indeed, Strelkov on Thursday afternoon reportedly boasted online of having taken down another military plane before realizing that the plane in question was MH17. The blog post was removed. In late June, several different Russian media sources published photographs of Buk anti-aircraft missiles that they said had been captured by the separatists — though they were probably outright gifts from Russia. These posts have also been removed.”

Separatists Shoot Down Two Ukrainian Fighter Jets

Deutsche Welle reported on July 23:

“Separatists have shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets just under a week after the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. According to reports, the two pilots managed to parachute out… the planes went down about 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17… Local health officials say that fighting since the removal of Ukraine’s previous president in February has led to the deaths of 432 people and left 1,015 injured.”

Russia Supplied Missile Launchers to Separatists

The Washington Post wrote on July 19:

“The United States has confirmed that Russia supplied sophisticated [Buk] missile launchers to separatists in eastern Ukraine and that attempts were made to move them back across the Russian border after the Thursday shoot-down of a Malaysian jet liner, a U.S. official said Saturday…

“Russia and the rebels have denied any involvement in the attack on the Boeing 777…

“In an oped column in the Sunday Times, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘The growing weight of evidence points to a clear conclusion: that flight MH17 was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area. If this is the case then we must be clear what it means: this is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them.’”

Putin’s and the rebels’ denial of any involvement is ridiculous and blatantly untruthful. Such lies would be laughable, if they were not that horrible. Putin, a former KGB spy,  should be viewed as a ruthless “leader” without any credibility. From all the evidence available, it is abundantly clear and beyond the shadow of any doubt that Putin’s Russia is directly or at least indirectly responsible for the terrible situation in eastern Ukraine and the most recent destruction of almost 300 innocent lives in shooting down the Malaysian passenger plane. One may also still ponder, in this context, what actually happened to the previous Malaysian airliner which disappeared without any trace. 

Bild Online reported on July 22 that a Russian rocket killed 298 people on board of the Malaysian airliner, but that the Euro bosses are intimidated by Putin. The paper wrote that they are behaving in a “despicably passive” way. Even further sanctions are being hotly debated, partly due to German business bosses warning that sanctions might hurt the economy. In addition, London has been recently described as a “safe haven” and the “Las Vegas” for “Russian investors.”

According to Der Spiegel Online, Europe’s hesitancy might cause a further rift with the USA.

On the other hand, we also understand that Bible prophecies show that, ultimately, Russia and Ukraine will join forces and collaborate militarily against continental Europe. 

Japan’s New Military Drone Ambitions

The website of defenseone.com reported on July 21:

“For decades Japan has been the world’s playground for design innovation. But now it may become ground zero for the future of something far more hostile: military drones. The country has positioned itself as one of the unlikely players in the escalating global race for military drones… A veteran Japanese politician even warned that the country’s re-armament looked like ‘a kind of pre-war revival.’…

“Japan is now in a position it hasn’t been in for nearly 70 years, when it gave up its right to engage in conflict outside its borders… The country will invest [$372 million] in the coming decade to drastically expand its virtually non-existent military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program… which would make Japan’s the fastest growing UAV program in the world… The military alliances could quickly devolve into something much larger. Japan’s drone situation isn’t just a boom, it’s a potential game changer with global implications…”

Berlusconi Acquitted

The Local wrote on July 19:

“An Italian appeals court on Friday cleared Silvio Berlusconi of having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power in a surprise ruling that will strengthen the former prime minister on the political scene…

“The [decision] effectively scraps Berlusconi’s seven-year sentence and lifelong ban from holding public office…”

Like a cat with nine lives, we should not dismiss Berlusconi quite yet from any future political role in Europe.

What It Means to Be a German

The victory of the German national soccer [football] team in the World Cup has caused understandable euphoria in Germany. Some have hastily concluded that this event has now given rise to renewed German feelings of nationalism. They even tried to use biblical passages for their opinion. Their conclusion, however, is premature and unrealistic. American audiences became very supportive of their American soccer team, but no one would suggest that this has caused a renewed feeling of American nationalism. International success in sporting events comes and goes, without a real lasting effect. On the other hand, growing self-confidence can be observed in Germany, but it is still a country uncertain of itself. This will change in time.

The following article in Der Spiegel Online, dated July 17, gives an interesting picture of the present status in Germany—pointing out some facts which might not be realized by some.

“[Germany] has indisputably become a nation of immigration…  Germany [is] ranking second in the world after the United States in attracting permanent immigrants, beating out even such melting pots as Britain and Canada… Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats still don’t like thinking of Germany as a country of immigration, and the nation could also be a lot more generous in its handling of refugees. Some immigrants, on the other hand, could also make more of an effort to integrate.

“Germany has become one society, but also a diverse one — and that is contributing to this new lightness of being. This is also reflected in the national football team, for which immigrants have since become indispensable, with players like Mesut Özil, a Turkish-German, Jerome Boateng, who has a German mother and a father [who] originates from Ghana, and Sami Khedira, who has Tunisian roots…

“Nothing occupies Germans more than the idea of Hitler’s return, regardless in what form. It could be a swastika tattooed on the chest of a Russian opera singer at the Bayreuth Wagner festival that sparks a massive debate. Or it could be a rower on the German national team who is engaged to a neo-Nazi, which again triggers a national uproar… People from other countries also sometimes like to hold us prisoner of our own history. Even during the semifinal against Brazil, this celebration of beautiful football and lightness, some felt compelled to evoke the Nazis. ‘The Germans have stormed into a foreign country and taken charge,’ tweeted New York Times Washington correspondent Binyamin Appelbaum…

“Today we can remember the past with anger and with sadness, but without becoming overly uptight about it… German virtues… too contribute to the country’s lightness. Prosperity makes life easier and improves moods everywhere. And prosperity, thanks to hard work, discipline and harmony, is currently on the rise… Fully 42 million people have jobs in Germany, more than ever before, and wages have risen substantially…

“Angela Merkel… runs a country that regained its sovereignty with reunification… A strong feeling of self-confidence is bound up in Germany’s lightness… A German chancellor thinking beyond the country’s borders? Here too, things have changed.

“… the US is making it difficult for the Germans to stand by their side…

“One still can’t speak of a relaxed German nation; rather it is a country that is losing its inhibitions. It is finding its way back to itself, but is still searching for its role in the global community. Should it sit quietly in the corner or should it take on a leadership role reflective of its size and economic strength? What is missing is a national team coach, one that stipulates a clear path forward.”

This national team coach will arise in due time.

July 20, 1944

Deutsche Welle reported on July 20:

“On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler cheated death when military officers planned an assassination attempt. It took a long time until the Germans came to honor those who took part in the coup attempt…

“In the summer of 1951… [o]nly a third… had a positive opinion about the men and women who had tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the Nazi regime…The resistance fighters [especially Count Stauffenberg] came mainly from the German aristocracy and the upper echelons of the Wehrmacht… [They] were portrayed [by the Nazi Government] as traitors who had broken the oath of allegiance they had sworn to Adolf Hitler. This opinion was shared by many Germans even after the end of the Second World War.

“But Theodor Heuss, West Germany’s first postwar president, played a key role in persuading Germans that the resistance against Hitler was not treason and Stauffenberg’s insubordination was even honorable. ‘The oath of allegiance was paid to a man who formally, legally, morally and historically had many cases of perjury behind him,’ Heuss said in 1954, on the tenth anniversary of the attempted assassination. It was the first official memorial service for the resistance fighters of July 20… ‘There have been cases of refusal to carry out orders that have achieved historic greatness.’…

“In 1958, Social Democrat Carlo Schmid said there was a moral obligation to kill a tyrant… It is striking how often speeches and debates of that era address the limits of oaths and obedience, with a ‘duty to commit high treason’…

“A remarkable memorial service took place in 1990: the first all-German remembrance for the resistance. East Germany’s communist leadership had ignored the assassination attempt for decades, mainly because the conservative and aristocratic conspirators around Stauffenberg did not match the socialist ideal… In 1990, Herzog [Constitutional Court President Roman Herzog, later German president] warned about people ‘who have done nothing but look the other way.’ Even today, he said, most people would behave that way…

“In this respect, the words of Theodor Heuss in 1954 are still valid today: ‘The legacy is still effective, the obligation has not yet been removed.’”

In a related article, Deutsche Welle wrote:

“President Joachim Gauck said [on July 20, 2014] that the events of July 20, 1944 were a reminder to Germans about the importance of ‘bravely standing up for our values.’… Earlier, the president had taken part in a church service in Berlin Cathedral, where the head of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Nikolaus Schneider, said it was important to honor the efforts to resist Hitler made by the conspirators.”

These reports mix truth with error, which is not surprising; given the fact that humanity as a whole is still eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, deciding for themselves what is right and wrong. God, in the Bible, reveals to us true knowledge and understanding—including how to behave as true Christians in a hostile environment and in a world ruled by Satan—but most reject this precious truth, as Adam and Eve neglected to eat from the tree of life which would have given them godly knowledge.

Very Few Support U.S. Drone Strikes and Spying

“People around the world overwhelmingly oppose U.S. drone strikes targeting extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, a new poll reveals… A majority of respondents in only three nations approve — the United States (52 percent), Israel (65 percent), and Kenya (53 percent), which has suffered terrorist attacks in recent years.

“The strongest opposition to the strikes is in Venezuela, where 92 percent disapprove and just 4 percent approve… followed by Jordan (90 percent disapprove), Greece (89 percent), and Nicaragua (88 percent). A majority of respondents in several strong U.S. allied nations also disapprove of the drone strikes against extremists, including South Korea (75 percent disapprove), Italy (74 percent), France (72 percent), Germany (67 percent), and the United Kingdom (59 percent). Not surprisingly, just 3 percent of respondents in Pakistan approve of the strikes.

“… people around the world generally oppose the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices. Asked if they consider U.S. monitoring of citizens from their country ‘Acceptable’ or ‘Unacceptable,’ 81 percent say it is unacceptable and just 12 percent consider it acceptable.  Sixty-two percent say U.S. monitoring of Americans is unacceptable.

“Asked about monitoring of leaders in their country, 73 percent say it is unacceptable. However, 64 percent of respondents believe that monitoring terrorist suspects is acceptable, and just 29 percent say it is unacceptable… overall ratings for the United States remain mostly popular… 65 percent have a favorable view of America, while 25 percent have an unfavorable view. The lowest favorable rating in the survey is in Egypt, just 10 percent.”

Sadly, the overall ratings for the United States will dramatically change in the not-too-distant future, when only very few will retain a favorable view of America.

Big Earthquake Hitting Los Angeles Inevitable

The Telegraph wrote on July 19:

“The southern section of the San Andreas fault that runs near the city [of Los Angeles] has not had a ‘mega-quake’ of more than magnitude-7.5 since 1680 and it is, according to seismologists, more than a century overdue.  A flurry of lesser earthquakes in recent months has refocused attention on whether America’s second city can withstand a major hit…

“‘A big earthquake is inevitable,’ Los Angeles’ recently appointed ‘quake tsar’ Dr Lucy Jones, told The Telegraph. ‘Each earthquake that happens increases the probability. We know… it will happen. We know everything but the time.”

It is indeed only a matter of time.

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Will a newly-baptized person be in God’s Kingdom if he dies shortly after baptism?

This question addresses some important issues about the Christian Way of Life.

As we pointed out in our previous Q&A, “Does God Give His Holy Spirit to People Who Have Not Been Baptized?”, since the establishment of the New Testament Church, a person needs to be properly baptized to receive the Holy Spirit, and he will not enter the Kingdom of God at the time of his resurrection if he did not have God’s Holy Spirit within him at the time of his death. Normally, he must spiritually grow after the receipt of the Holy Spirit, until he has qualified for the entrance of the Kingdom of God. (To clarify, when the Bible or we speak of a Christian in the masculine gender, the feminine gender is ALWAYS included, unless the context demands a different understanding in a given case.)

We state the following in our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?”, under “The ‘Born-Again’ Process”:

“Using the process of human conception, gestation and birth as an analogy, we can gain a clearer understanding of the concept of being born again into SPIRIT. In this physical life, one is not born immediately at the time of conception. There is a time interval between conception and birth. A human baby must be conceived. A human baby must grow in the womb (the period of gestation). A human baby gains life of its own through birth.

“The same principles apply to our spiritual birth. Although we will be born again at the time of our resurrection or our change to immortality, something else must happen first so that we CAN become born again. The Bible describes this prior event as spiritual conception or ‘begettal.’ Simply put, before we can be born again, we must be begotten again—a spiritual begettal. This spiritual begettal takes place at the time of our baptism, after repentance, and after coming to an understanding of, and belief in, Christ’s sacrifice and the gospel of the Kingdom of God. At the time of baptism we then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the laying on of hands, as a down payment—a guarantee—(Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:5) of our ultimate new birth at our resurrection to spirit.

“In applying the analogy of human birth to spiritual birth, the receipt of God’s Spirit at conversion is a type of spiritual begettal. With the receipt of God’s Spirit, we acquire God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), but there is still another step in the process. Just as an embryo must grow and develop, we must also grow spiritually and develop the fruit of the Spirit—the actual character of God. God considers those who have received His Spirit as being His children (2 Corinthians 6:17–18). Finally, Spirit-begotten children become SEPARATE SPIRIT BEINGS upon being born again—at their resurrection and change to immortality.

“Romans 8:11 tells us that ‘…if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit [which] dwells in you.’ 1 Corinthians 6:14 adds, ‘And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.’ In other words, God will resurrect us by His Spirit, which is a spirit of power (Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:7).

“To come to the point of being ‘born again’ is a process. It starts with the moment we receive God’s Holy Spirit, in the same way that a human being begins to live in his mother’s womb at the time of conception. God baptizes us through His Holy Spirit into the Church, which is called ‘the mother of us all’ (Galatians 4:26–27, 31). A human baby grows in his mother’s womb until he is ready to be born. Likewise, we are to grow in our Christian lives in the womb of the Church, increasing in the ‘grace and knowledge of Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18; compare Ephesians 4:11–13), until we can become born again—Spirit beings.

“A father begets a child, while the mother delivers it. After the father has initiated the process, there is an intervening time of about nine months before birth, or parturition, occurs. During this intervening time, the mother nourishes and protects the unborn child in her womb for the entire gestation period. The same is true for our spiritual begettal, growth and birth. During the spiritual ‘gestation’ period, after our conversion, it is the duty and responsibility of the Church, of which Christ is the Head (Ephesians 5:23), to nourish and protect the begotten children of God. These spiritually begotten children of God, the Father, need nourishment from good spiritual food supplied by God, and they need to absorb the food so they can grow spiritually, striving to become perfect in this life. In this way, they can become born again children at the time of Christ’s return…”

So we see that normally, a newly-baptized person must spiritually grow before he can enter the Kingdom of God. Some have claimed that this is not always the case as the thief on the cross who came to conversion a few hours before his death, was promised by Christ that he would enter “Paradise” or the Kingdom of God on the day of his death… and he was not even baptized. However, in addition to the fact that this incident occurred PRIOR TO the establishment of the New Testament Church, this is not what Christ promised the thief.

We read in Luke 23:39–43, in the translation of the New King James Bible: “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”

We addressed this question in our free booklet, “Jesus Christ—a Great Mystery”, under “Did the Thief Go To Paradise on the Day of His Death?”.

After discussing Christ’s statement in detail, we offered the following conclusion:

“… both the throne of God and the tree of life are in the Paradise of God. Revelation 22:1–3 teaches us that the throne of God and the tree of life will be in the New Jerusalem, when it descends to [the new] earth. This means, then, that the Paradise of God will be here on [the new] earth.”

This means, Christ promised the thief that he would be in Paradise when the heavenly Jerusalem descends to the new earth—which will occur long AFTER the first resurrection. Christ did not say he would be in Paradise on same day of his death. Rather, to continue with quoting from our above-mentioned booklet:

“Jesus Christ was telling the thief on the cross that he would be with Christ in Paradise, AFTER it had been established on [the new] earth.

“In the original Greek, there are no commas… This means, rather than stating, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,’ this passage could also be translated as, ‘Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.’ The Companion Bible states in its appendix, in paragraph 173, that the interpretation of this verse depends exclusively on the punctuation, which is totally dependent on human authority. They explain that until the 9th century, Greek manuscripts had no punctuation at all, and even after that time, they only had a dot separating words from each other. The Broadman Bible Commentary admits: ‘It is possible to place the comma after today…’

“Christ did not promise the thief that he would be in Paradise the day he died. But since He saw his repentant attitude, He did promise him on that very day that he would be in Paradise—here on [the new] earth, in the future.”

On the other hand, God looks at the heart of a person, and when He determines that a newly-converted person is qualified to enter the Kingdom of God, He may let him die soon after his baptism. We find that Samson will be in the Kingdom of God (compare Hebrews 11:32, 39-40), even though we understand that he only came to true repentance and conversion shortly before his death, when his hair grew again in the dungeon (Of course, in Old Testament times, God gave the Holy Spirit to some without any requirement of prior baptism. This changed with the establishment of the New Testament Church.)

In any event, converted Christians do not die because of time and chance. When a converted Christian dies, God decided to let him die, because He had determined that he had qualified to enter the Kingdom of God. In other words, when a person dies and the Holy Spirit dwells in him at the time of his death, then that person WILL be in the first resurrection and in the Kingdom of God. God would NOT let a converted Christian die if he was not ready for the Kingdom at the time of his death.

Some quote Ecclesiastes 9:11 for the idea that true Christians may die BECAUSE of time and chance.

We stated the following in our free booklet, “Human Suffering, Why… and How Much Longer”: under “True Christians Not Subject to Time and Chance”:

“Note what Solomon said: ‘Time and chance happen to THEM all.’ He did NOT say—‘to all men,’ or ‘to all of us.’ In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon was mainly addressing and writing about people in this world—people who only live and work for material possessions (Ecclesiastes 5:13–17), or people who do not understand God’s plan (Ecclesiastes 8:17). When he addressed true Christians, however, he referred to them as ‘you’ (compare Ecclesiastes 9:10: ‘Whatever YOUR hand finds to do, do it with YOUR might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where YOU are going.’)…

“Christ made the same distinction, in Luke 13:1–5: ‘There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but UNLESS YOU repent, YOU will ALL LIKEWISE perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but UNLESS YOU repent, YOU will all LIKEWISE perish.”’

“Christ’s teaching is unmistakable: If we don’t repent, we might very well die as those did, on whom the tower of Siloam fell; that is, through an accident, apart from, or being cut off from God, by time and chance. If we repent, however, according to Christ, we will NOT likewise perish or die in that way. Rather, even if we were to die in an ‘accident,’ God would have specifically—not just ‘generally’—DECIDED not to intervene and to LET US die. God is always in control over our lives. Nothing happens to us, which God is not aware of and which God does not ‘approve of’ (compare Job 1:21–22; 2:10).

“True Christians are NOT in the ‘hand’ of time and chance. Rather, Solomon tells US: ‘… the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God’ (Ecclesiastes 9:1). David understood, too, that he was in God’s hands. He wrote, in Psalm 31:15: ‘My times are in Your hand.’ He knew that he was always, constantly, and completely under God’s observation, His protection, and in His loving care (compare, Psalm 4:7–8; 9:9–10; 17:8; 23:1–6; 33:18–19; 34:7, 15, 19–20, etc. etc.), as are all true Christians today. God promises that nothing will happen to us that is too difficult for us to bear (compare 1 Corinthians 10:13). This means, then, that God must be watching us every second to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise…

“The very idea that a true Christian could die… because of time and chance, limits God and weakens our faith. It is a patently unbiblical concept. When a Christian dies, it is because GOD has DECIDED that it was time for His son or daughter to die…

“Isaiah 57:1–2 states: ‘The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.’ Psalm 116:15 teaches: ‘Precious in the SIGHT OF the LORD Is the death of His saints.’ (Compare, too, Psalm 72:14). So, God’s people just don’t die without the knowledge of God. Rather, they die in God’s SIGHT!…

“Did Paul teach that we are hopeless and helpless victims of time and chance? Quite the opposite is true: ‘For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, WE ARE THE LORD’S’ [Romans 14:8]…

“What exactly is Solomon saying in Ecclesiastes 9:10–11?

“Simply this: In Ecclesiastes 9:10 he encourages us to do with our might what we ought to do. In other words, to be very careful how we live our lives as Christians. Give all glory to God, he says, and don’t lean on your own understanding or strength. Because, he says in verse 11, when you fail, you’ll be right back in the world, which you once belonged to, and in the world, you WILL be subject to time and chance. Your own human abilities won’t necessarily help you in the world. Understand that without God’s help, we are pretty much lost, having become victims of time and chance. Solomon says, you may even die in a terrible accident or because of a terrible sickness.

“But, as long as we are in God’s loving hands, we are not victims of time and chance. And when we die, it is NOT because of time and chance. Rather, when a Christian dies, it is because GOD has decided that it was time for him or her to die, as he or she has qualified for God’s Kingdom (Numbers 23:10; Isaiah 57:1–2; Romans 14:8; Revelation 14:13).”

In conclusion, the Christian Way of Life requires spiritual growth. God will decide when a converted person is ready to enter the Kingdom of God. In doing so, He also looks at the heart, the attitude, the motives and the desires of the person. God will not let a true Christian die before his time and before he is ready. If the Holy Spirit dwells in a person at the time of his death, he WILL be in the first resurrection and in God’s Kingdom.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Norbert and Johanna Link will be in Oregon this weekend. Mr. Link will be giving the sermon, and live transmission of services will be from that location.

The July Member Letter has been mailed this week. In the letter, Eric Rank reminds us of the incredible human potential God has set before us. Additionally, he points to our need to focus on and participate in the Work of the Church of God right now.

A recent StandingWatch program (Feb 27, 2014), “Ukraine in Prophecy,” has received over 10,000 viewings.

“Why the Hatred for Israel?,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Israel stands condemned. Anti-Semitism and hatred for Jews can be again observed worldwide. This program gives you some truly shocking examples and explains from history why there is continuing war and strife in the Middle East, and what constitutes the only solution for peace in that region.

“Wie Stark Ist Ihr Glaube?,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. In English, the title is “How Strong Is Your Faith?”

“Does Sin Lead to Success?,” the sermon given last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Does sin pay? Are sinners happy people? Are they more successful and blessed than others? Can they look with confidence at a peaceful future? The Bible shows us that none of this is true. Sin leads to disaster. It sets in motion an automatic chain of events. There is a cause for every effect. There is a fundamental difference between the righteous and the wicked. We will reap what we sow. Our sin will find us out.

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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

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God