|Live Services||Scorn and Ridicule for God and His People|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||What Does It Mean to Be the “Salt of the Earth”?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Scorn and Ridicule for God and His People
On January 30, 2016, Norbert Link will be giving the sermon this Sabbath, and he will also use the sermonette and announcement time to speak on recent world events in the light of biblical prophecy. The Sermon Title is: “Scorn and Ridicule for God and His People.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
In August 2015, the BBC produced a series of three television programmes entitled, “Are Our Kids Tough Enough? – The Chinese School.” Five teachers from China came to the UK and taught the Chinese method to a group of 50 students, aged 13-14, in a high achieving school in southern England. We were told that this was because British pupils were falling behind on the international scene.
One Chinese teacher asked the class why the Chinese academic achievement was 3 years ahead of the UK. She answered the question herself by saying that “discipline was really important; without discipline, you don’t learn well.” That didn’t go down well with the English students and it was appalling to see the way the class reacted and behaved. There were many aspects of this experiment that could be commented on, but had the basics been done in the first place, many of the problems that were so clearly seen would have never surfaced. Those problems were a lack of parental training and correction, as well as the showing of disrespect.
The Chinese, from an early age, are taught to respect their parents, their teachers and their country. It is clear to see that the average student in the UK doesn’t fit into that category. We do have good students who have been well brought up by caring parents but so very many have had parents with poor parenting skills. We must also add the fact that teachers are unable to do their job properly with children having the upper hand.
In the class of 50 that was shown, there was so much disrespect and ill-discipline that it was embarrassing. There were, at different times, singing in class; one girl putting on her make up; another girl eating jelly; another one had the ubiquitous mobile phone in class; one boy had brought in a kettle and was drinking tea at the back of the class; there was talking and yawning and disrespect to the teachers and students not turning up for lessons but were playing outside, and much more. All of this happened because the basics were missing.
The English teacher was sent in to see how the Chinese teacher taught and said that he wasn’t prepared for what he saw. He said that they all ignored the teacher and he would be livid if students behaved like that in his class. The school had to bring in the Head of School who was in charge of enforcing discipline – a position that would be redundant in China because the students are taught the right principles from a very early age. He laid down the law to the class and they took notice of him and he asked them if there were any questions or if they had any issues with what he had said. There were no takers. As soon as this English teacher had gone, they were back to their worst and the Chinese teacher asked the class why. One response was that “we’re frightened of him but we’re not frightened of you”. Such disrespect.
In our secular society, God’s Word is usually seen as irrelevant or unnecessary but it actually contains gems of understanding that, if implemented, would ensure that society would be so much better ordered, disciplined and respectful.
In Proverbs 22:6 we read: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Installing good habits from an early age will produce massive life-long benefits.
In our liberal society, teachers are not allowed to use any corporal punishment and the students know that they have the upper hand. One law firm states the legal position in the UK as follows: “So long as a parent uses what could in all circumstances be deemed reasonable force in the home, they are likely to be acting perfectly legally in the UK.” What does God say about this? Proverbs 23:13 gives us the answer: “Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” We only have to look at history to know that this is correct; today with the liberal approach, we have huge problems.
Of course, as we point out in our booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families,” “There is never a justification for physical abuse. On the other hand, to totally ban spanking and define it as physical abuse only shows how liberal and anti-biblical our Western society has become… As parents, we must be aware, though, that in certain countries, spanking is illegal, and could result in the authorities coming in and taking away our children. And even in countries where spanking is not illegal, many governmental officials look at such practice with great disfavor…
“Since using the rod is compared with prompt or early discipline, it is clear that this passage includes the concept of spanking, where and when appropriate. Of course, we don’t spank a teenager or an adult, so the spanking needs to be done early in the life of the child. But note, again, we discipline our children, because we LOVE them. If we discipline our children for any other reason, or because of any other motive, we do NOT follow God’s instructions. Spanking should never cause physical injury to a child. The intent is to break a rebellious spirit, not to bruise skin.”
Honouring parents is a biblical command (compare Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 1:8, Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20). But it is not just about honouring parents and teachers, but all people. In Leviticus 19:32 we read: “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.”
Had these biblical admonitions been implemented with children from a very early age, we would have a very different society today, but the basics have been missing. It is because man thinks he knows better than God, we have the problems that we have today and this was so clearly seen in this BBC programme.
In the future, probably not too far away now, God’s Way will be the norm and man’s failed way will be consigned to the dustbin of history.
We begin with reports on the Middle East, including articles about and pertaining to Iran, Israel and Egypt.
We continue with shocking revelations about the migrant crisis in Germany and its undesired, but rather certain consequences; and address the role Islam might be playing in this context.
We are writing about events in Great Britain pertaining to ridiculous recommendations of “Christian” clergymen; and focus on the reactions of a lengthy British report by a former high court judge, charging Vladimir Putin with the “probable” order of murdering Alexander Litvinenko—a British citizen and former Russian spy—in the streets of London… allegedly in part for revealing extremely damaging personal facts about Putin. In spite of this, the British government under Mr. Cameron realizes their utter “helplessness” in the matter and seems to be willing to treat this report about a ten-year-long murder investigation as “murky water under the bridge.”
We report on developments pertaining to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; a new scandal in Texas involving Planned Parenthood; strong accusations against the FBI regarding the death of one protestor in Oregon; the spreading of the Zika virus in America and Europe; a new dangerous game for teens; and a serious locust plague in Argentina.
We conclude with astonishing revelations about the total lack of belief of young Icelanders in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, even though one of the ancient tribes of the House of Israel—Benjamin—settled in Iceland and can be found there today (as well as in Norway).
This Week in the News
John Kerry Admits: US Money for Iran Might Be Used for Terrorist Attacks
JTA wrote on January 21:
“Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran would likely use some [U.S.] money freed by the lifting of sanctions for terrorism, but if it does, it will be subject to separate sanctions. ‘I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists,’ Kerry said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in an interview by CNBC reported by The Associated Press. The IRGC is an acronym for the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps…”
IS Prepares Attacks Against Israel
The Economist wrote on January 23:
“IS has yet to attack Israel. Its main forces in southern Syria are about 80km (50 miles) from Israel’s borders. Last month, IS put out a recording… saying that ‘with the help of Allah we are getting closer to you every day. The Israelis will soon see us in Palestine.’ On January 18th… the chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces, warned that ‘the success against IS raises the probability we will see them turning their gun-barrels towards us and also the Jordanians’.
“The most direct and likely avenue of attack is across Israel’s frontier with Syria. That is because the situation there is already chaotic; IS bases and civilian villages are close to Israel; and the terrain is mountainous…
“But IS may also choose other places from which to attack. Wilayat Sinai, which means the ‘Sinai province’ of IS, has been operating on Israel’s western border for five years. It declared allegiance to IS in late 2014 and claimed responsibility for blowing up a Russian airliner last October, killing 224 people. But it is embroiled in a bloody insurgency against Egypt’s security forces. Israel, which is discreetly providing the Egyptians with intelligence and military help, says that IS shares routes for smuggling arms and other supplies with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza. These could be used for launching future attacks on Israel.
“The Israelis are also worried that radical Palestinians who are citizens of Israel may be working for IS… ‘IS is here and it’s no secret,’ says Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s president. ‘I’m not talking about the borders of Israel, but about IS within. Research, arrests, witnesses, open and classified analysis all indicate clearly that IS’s popularity is growing and that even Israeli Arabs are actually joining up with it.’ Vigilance along Israel’s borders may not be enough.”
Violence in Israeli-Occupied West Bank
Reuters reported on January 23:
“A 13-year-old Palestinian girl was shot dead by an Israeli security guard she tried to stab at a settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli police said on Saturday. It was the latest fatality in an almost four-month-long surge of violence that has raised concern of wider escalation, a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided, and it followed two stabbings this week inside settlements carried out by Palestinian teenagers, according to Israeli authorities…
“Since the start of October, Israeli forces have killed at least 149 Palestinians, 95 of them assailants according to authorities. Most of the others have died in violent protests. Almost daily stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians have killed 25 Israelis and a U.S. citizen. Many of the Palestinian assailants have been teenagers.
“On Sunday, an Israeli mother of six was stabbed to death at her home in a West Bank settlement and a 15-year-old Palestinian was arrested for the attack. On Monday, Israeli troops shot and wounded a 17-year-old Palestinian who had stabbed and wounded a pregnant Israeli woman in a settlement.
“The bloodshed has been fueled by various factors including frustration over the 2014 collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the growth of Jewish settlements on land Palestinians seek for an independent state. Palestinian leaders have said that with no breakthrough on the horizon, desperate youngsters see no future ahead. Israel says young Palestinians are being incited to violence by their leaders and Islamist groups that call for Israel’s destruction.”
Jews Leave France in Record Numbers
CNN reported on January 23:
“Nearly 8,000 French Jews moved to Israel in the year following the Charlie Hebdo attack, according to the Jewish Agency, which handles Jewish immigration, or aliyah, to Israel. The number of French Jews moving to Israel has doubled — and doubled again — in the past five years…
“Britain has the second-highest Jewish emigration from Western Europe, but the scale is much smaller. According to the Jewish Agency, 774 British Jews moved to Israel in 2015, less than one-tenth the number of French Jews… Many French Jews settle in Ashdod, a city in southern Israel known for its large French population… The Jewish Agency says violence is part — but not all — of the reason for French immigration…
“French Prime Minister Manuel Valls recently expressed the fear that an exodus of Jews would change the country for the worse. ‘Without the Jews, France is no longer France. It’s the oldest community. They have been French citizens since the French revolution’…
“But when the European Union studied the prevalence of anti-Semitism in 2013, it found that 74% of Jews in France avoid openly identifying themselves as Jewish at least some of the time, and more than a quarter of French Jews always do…”
State Repression in Egypt Greater Than under Nasser and Mubarak
The Guardian wrote on January 24:
“The scale of state repression in Egypt is greater today than it has been for generations, one of the country’s most prominent journalists and human rights advocates has told the Guardian. Hossam Bahgat, an investigative reporter who was recently detained by Egypt’s military intelligence agency, spoke out ahead of the fifth anniversary of the start of Egypt’s revolution on Monday – the run-up to which has seen an unprecedented crackdown by security forces against opposition and dissent.
“‘This is without doubt the worst we’ve ever seen,’ said Bahgat… ‘The level of repression now is significantly higher than it was under the Mubarak regime, and people from older generations say it is worse than even the worst periods of the 1950s and 1960s [under the rule of Gamal Abdel Nasser]’…
“Egypt under Sisi has jailed more journalists than any other country on earth bar China…”
Secret and Confidential Report Reveals Wide-Spread Sex Attacks and Thefts in Germany through Migrants
Deutsche Welle reported on January 23:
“Sex attacks and thefts like the ones that happened in Cologne on New Year’s Eve were also reported in 12 other German states, German media say. The information comes from a leaked report of the federal criminal police.
“The German broadcasters WDR and NDR, as well as the newspaper ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ on Saturday reported that the phenomenon of sexual violence paired with thievery was more widespread on New Year’s Eve than previously thought. They cited a confidential paper prepared for interior ministers by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). The report covered sexual offenses in public places in which the victims were also stolen from, including a type of con in which thieves approach victims and hug or otherwise surprise them, with the aim of distracting them in order to pick their pockets…
“The report, dated January 13, said Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia (the state where Cologne is located) reported the highest number of offenses. In Hamburg there were 195 complaints, most of them for sexual offenses. Investigators in North Rhine-Westphalia reported 1,076 crimes altogether, mainly in the cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf and Bielefeld. That number included 692 bodily harm or property offenses and 384 sexual offenses… Similar incidents were reported in Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, albeit on a much smaller scale… Across the country the victims were almost [always] female and the suspects were men aged between about 17 and 30…
“The investigators concluded that the nature of the reported thefts was a new form of criminality which up until now had not been widely experienced across Germany. The report’s authors noted, however, that it provided only a snapshot of the situation, which continued to be ‘dynamic.’… Meanwhile, police investigating the Cologne attacks have enlisted the help of specialists from London. The so-called ‘super recognizers’ from Scotland Yard will assist in analyzing video footage from New Year’s Eve. Their ability to pick out faces in a crowd is considered superior to facial recognition software.”
Educating Migrants… by Sending Wrong Signals?
The Daily Mail reported on January 23:
“The spate of migrant sex attacks has led authorities across Europe to start handing out cartoon strips explaining to refugees why they should not assault women. The Austrian interior ministry has issued a ‘behaviour guide’, which includes drawings of a man hitting a woman – covered by a giant red cross – and an image of gay kissing, approved with a tick.
“Authorities in Lucerne in Switzerland plan to distribute a version of the leaflet at its carnival next month and said the decision was made in the wake of the Cologne sex attacks.”
WARNING! Despicable Migrant Acts Reported from Germany
The following reports are sickening, and the reader needs to be warned. But it would not be right to suppress them for the sake of “political correctness” or because of their offensive and explicit nature.
The Daily Mail wrote on January 24:
“Migrants have been banned from a historic swimming bath in Germany after a gang of men were caught on camera masturbating in a hot tub and sexually assaulting women. Several other men were seen ’emptying their bowels’ in the children’s end of the main swimming pool at the Johannisbad baths in Zwickau, Saxony.
“Management at the historic baths are reportedly no longer allowing migrants into the facilities following the allegations while some local swimmers have stayed away after the incidents… ‘the lifeguards have to protect women and girls from the asylum seekers. Young men wanted to forcibly penetrate the female changing room,’ [civilian servant Rainer Mr Kallweit] said, describing another incident at another swimming pool… Police have arrested several men in connection to the incident at the baths. The men have since been released.”
Breitbart added on January 22:
“The local radio station reports the actions of the migrants [have] caused ‘outrage’, and a number of sexual harassment(s) of women and girls by migrants has been reported. Migrants have now been banned from the pool until they can be educated at the migrant centres about ‘behaviour towards woman and girls in swimwear’ and the ‘user regulations of our baths’.
“This behaviour in Zwickau is not by any means unique in Germany. Breitbart London has reported on a number of sex attacks on children in swimming baths over the past week, with girls as young as 11 and boys as young as three being targeted by migrant gangs. On one occasion in Munich, a pair of young girls enjoying the waterslide at their local pool were groped, ‘allegedly under their bathing suits’, ‘and possibly raped’ by a gang of ‘refugees’.
“The men believed to be responsible, Syrian and Afghan asylum seekers, were arrested and released by police.”
Is Islam Partially to Be Blamed for Muslims’ Sexual Assaults?
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 24:
“Since the assaults on New Year’s Eve, some German media are inclined to blame Islam for the attacks on young women. They are not altogether wrong. And Islam also plays a role in this: not because it is based on an inherently sexist philosophy, but because it has a lack of hierarchical structure. To put it plainly: The vast majority of Muslims abhor what happened on New Year’s Eve. Nonetheless, the problem remains that the attacks have not been condemned at the highest level within Islam – nor can they be.
“As long as Sunnis in particular have no figure of authority comparable to the Catholic pope, and no interpretation of Islam that is binding for all believers, there will be an uncontrolled proliferation of theological interpretation.
“A look at Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as the leading power in the Sunni world, shows where this leads. Here, the religious scholar Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid runs a Salafist website. Among sites of this kind, it is in the top ten in terms of the number of hits. Al-Munajjid was recently asked by a user whether it was permissible for married Muslims to have sex with so-called ‘slave girls’ – a euphemistic and cynical way of referring to Asian women who work in Saudi Arabia as housemaids. The religious scholar’s response: Yes, of course, no doubt about it.
“This kind of perverted theology of sex is also part of the contract for the terrorist organization calling itself ‘Islamic State.’ It permits its followers to rape women without fear of punishment – Christian and Yazidi women, and other captives, too. ‘IS’ members claim that they do this with Allah’s blessing…
“This is the flipside of the practice currently lauded in German Islamic scholarship as ‘the tolerance of ambiguity.’ The great freedom of interpretation enjoyed by even the most questionable imams can also lead down some very dark roads. This is why a large section of the German public is very worried.”
More Cover-Ups in Germany?
Breitbart wrote on January 27:
“The Russian foreign minister has become involved in an unusual democratic spat with Germany over the alleged cover-up of the gang rape of a 13 year old Russian citizen in Germany by ‘Arab-looking men’. German police have claimed the disappearance by the 13 year old daughter of a Russian migrant family for 30 hours on January 11th, and her use as a ‘sex slave’ by a trio of Arab men had been consensual, and no kidnap or rape had been involved.
“Russia disputes this version of events, with Russian media reporting the girl had been taken from her family and passed around the three men for hours on end. Sex with a 13 year old girl, whether consensual or not, is a crime in Germany, yet there have not yet been any arrests.
“The persistence of reports in the Russian media about the case has now led the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to become involved, accusing Germany of papering over the cracks and covering up her rape. Speaking at a press conference yesterday morning, Mr. Lavrov said of the young girl who has only been identified as ‘Lisa F.’, that she had ‘clearly not voluntarily disappeared for 30 hours’. Mr. Lavrov said the German authorities had in the past shown a tendency to ‘paint over the reality of domestic politics for reasons of political correctness’.
“The story, coming so soon after the mass sex assault and rape of European women by migrant males in Cologne and other German cities at New Year, and multiple molestations and rapes at swimming baths has excited Germany’s sizeable Russian migrant community. Thousands of Russian-German citizens rallied at the weekend in German cities… declaring solidarity with the girl and carrying banners declaring ‘stay away from our children’.
“The news story and alleged coverup is threatening to develop into a major diplomatic incident, after Mr. Lavrov’s involvement and a German lawyer filing charges against Russian state television. He accuses a journalist of the channel of making unproven assertions by reporting Germany is suffering from mass migrant rape, reports Der Spiegel.”
Germany’s AfD in Third Place
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 24:
“The German daily ‘Bild am Sonntag’ reported on Sunday that the populist right-wing [anti-Immigrant] Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has reached 10 percent for the first time in a recent poll. According to the article, 17 percent of men would vote for AfD while only 2 percent of women would do so.
“The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, saw its support fall by 2 percentage points to 36 percent. The Social Democrats (SPD), the CDU’s coalition partner, came in at 25 percent…
“A majority of Germans, meanwhile, said they disagreed with the decision to bar the AfD from televised debates in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt. Of those polled, 53 percent of Germans polled said the party should be able to participate in the debates, while 34 percent said it shouldn’t.”
German Far-Right Internet Platform Banned and Administrators Arrested
The Associated Press reported on January 27:
“The German government on Wednesday banned a far-right Internet platform that it accused of spreading ‘racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-Islamic content,’ and federal prosecutors said two people were arrested… The two arrested people were the administrators of the Altermedia website and therefore responsible for its content, which included banned Nazi slogans and the denial of the Holocaust as well as incitement of violence against foreigners, the prosecutors’ office said.
“The server was located in Russia to prevent German authorities gaining access, it added… German security officials say that the far right has become much more savvy in using of the Internet and social media to push its message to a broader audience. The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence, Hans-Georg Maassen, told reporters Tuesday that ‘there is the danger of a gray zone developing between far-right extremists, right-wing conservatives and citizen protesters with significant potential for violence.’”
2016—a Difficult Year for Germany and Merkel
The Financial Times wrote on January 17:
“This is going to be a difficult year for Germany, one in which the policies of the past may turn out to be unsustainable. The most unsustainable of all was Angela Merkel’s invitation to open the doors to Syrian refugees without limitation. The German chancellor must either have misjudged the effect or acted recklessly — or both. A few months and 1m refugees later, the discontent is growing inside the Christian Democratic Union, her party, and in the country at large.
“Gerhard Schröder, her Social Democratic predecessor, last week came out against the policy with exactly the same arguments as the right-wingers in Ms Merkel’s own party: Germany cannot absorb such a large number. More than 1m refugees arrived in the country in 2015. It could be twice as many this year and the same again next — more if you include family members who will eventually follow.
“It is tempting to think of refugees and migrants as a new source of labour. But in this case this just is not true, at least not for now. The majority of those who arrive in Germany lack the skills needed in the local labour market. They will enter the low wage sector of the economy, and drive down wages, producing another deflationary shock. This is the last thing Germany and the eurozone need right now…
“The second challenge is the economic downturn in emerging markets. There are few large countries as dependent on the global economy as Germany, and few where there is so little awareness of that fact, at least in public debate…
“The third challenge for Germany in 2016 is the fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal. This could be the single biggest shock of all because Germany has been over-reliant on the car industry for far too long…
“Finally, 2016 promises to be the year of backlash against German dominance of the eurozone. That did not happen during the crisis. The leaders of the countries in the eurozone periphery kept their heads down…
“While most of the threats appear to be external, they are caused by domestic policy choices…”
Christian Clergymen to Wear Beards to Impress Muslims?
Daily Mail wrote on January 23:
“Clergymen should grow beards to emphasise their holiness to Muslims, the Bishop of London has suggested… Richard Chartres said the modern fashion for facial hair… would… be likely to impress those from Eastern cultures where wearing a beard could mark a man out as holy. He singled out two priests in Tower Hamlets… who have grown bushy beards… He said the desire of the clergy… to ‘reach out to the culture of the majority of their parishioners can only be applauded’.
“He went on to say that David Beckham – who he describes as the ‘nearest thing to a secular saint’ – has ‘stimulated countless imitators’.”
The Telegraph added on January 22:
“Now the fashion for beards has been given the blessing of the Church of England, after one of the country’s most senior clerics praised vicars who grow them to appeal to Muslim communities around them… In Islam beards are viewed as an ‘adornment’ and Muslim men are encouraged to wear them to honour the Prophet Mohammed.”
In Germany, some Muslims suggest or even “demand” that alcohol should be prohibited (at least in public places) so as to not to offend Muslims. In addition, some “demand” a special national Muslim “Holy Day.”
London No Longer Ethnically British
Daily Mail wrote on January 23:
“Since 2001, immigration has transformed the capital. More than half of Londoners are now not ethnically British…
“This week, it emerged that Brussels is attempting to blackmail Britain by saying that if we don’t take as many as 90,000 migrants a year, we will not be able to send failed asylum seekers back to safe countries on the Continent. Then came the story that a tribunal had ruled that a group of migrants in the Jungle camp in Calais had a ‘human right’ to join family members in Britain. It is a precedent that could have far-reaching implications.
“Aside from legal rulings, the truth is that much of our immigration policy is now dictated by criminal trafficking gangs who make a fortune smuggling people into Britain — not our elected leaders and certainly not voters and taxpayers. It is criminal gangs who decide who comes into the UK and in what numbers. They largely decide what happens to the migrants once they arrive…
“Uncontrolled immigration has changed London for ever. And, most shamefully, not one of our leaders has lifted a finger to stop it.”
Reports from Germany are reaching us stating that local governments are approaching home owners, inquiring of them whether they would want to house migrants. At this point, this would strictly be on a voluntary basis, and the government would pay a good sum of money to the landlords for providing housing to refugees.
“Shadow of Populism Hangs over Davos”
The Financial Times wrote on January 22:
“The populists are those political forces that advance ideas that are generally seen as dangerous or facile to those at Davos. These ideas include the US building a wall to keep out immigrants, Britain leaving the EU or anybody raising tariffs or dismissing climate change. And these forces are on the rise.
“The shadow of Donald Trump has loomed over Davos this year. So has the prospect that refugee flows into Europe will undermine centrist leaders such as Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. More broadly, those at Davos are aware that they increasingly represent the ‘unpopular’ — the business and political elites that are the targets of public anger and disillusionment…
“It is gradually dawning on people in the Swiss resort that either Mr Trump or Ted Cruz, the Texas senator, will probably win the Republican nomination, and that the ‘unthinkable’ — a Trump or Cruz victory in November’s presidential election — could happen…
“European politicians, meanwhile, are battling their own populists. Ms Merkel, who normally gives a warmly applauded speech at Davos, has had to stay at home this year to deal with the refugee crisis. In her absence, Joachim Gauck, Germany’s president, took to the stage to issue a thinly veiled attack on Ms Merkel’s refusal to put a numerical limit on the number of refugees Germany can accept. He argued that ‘if democrats do not want to talk about limitations then populists and xenophobes will’.
“Mr Gauck was not alone in his warnings about the political effects of refugee flows. Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, warned that Europe has ‘six to eight weeks’ to stem the flow of migrants, before the pressure to reimpose frontier controls within the EU becomes irresistible.
“Meanwhile, Davos is also having to grapple with the idea that the UK might actually vote to leave the EU this year. David Cameron, the UK prime minister, on Thursday gave a confident speech in Davos, where most people are inclined to believe that Britain will ultimately vote to stay in the EU. But that confident stance involves dismissing recent opinion polls that suggest a British exit is quite likely…
“For the moment, the Davos mood on populism is more one of deep concern and uncertainty than full-blown panic. But the next 12 months will present a series of crucial tests. It is possible… that when the WEF gathers this time next year, Mr Trump will be US president, the UK will have voted to leave the EU and border controls will have been restored across Europe. Those developments would turn the Davos world upside down.”
Did Putin Order Litvinenko’s Murder?
Daily Mail wrote on January 20 and updated the article on January 22:
“Vladamir Putin may have ordered the murder of Alexander Litvinenko after he claimed the Russian President was a practising paedophile… Mr Litvinenko accused his rival of abusing children just weeks before two assassins slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his cup of tea in a London hotel in October 2006…
“Sir Robert Owen said today in a major report on his murder that Mr Putin ‘probably’ ordered it and admitted Litvinenko’s ‘highly personal attacks’ may be a motive for his death… His sensational report has sparked an international diplomatic row between Britain and Russia ignited today after an independent probe into the killing of Alexander Litvinenko said President Putin had ‘probably’ personally authorised the 2006 killing…
“Mr Litvinenko – who had accused the Russian president on his death bed – was killed by two FSB spies who slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his tea pot at a Mayfair hotel in central London, Sir Robert Owen said today in a major report.
“Prime Minister David Cameron today said the report outlined what happened was ‘absolutely appalling’ but he admitted the Syria crisis meant Britain had to have a relationship with Russia albeit one with ‘clear eyes and a cold heart’…
“Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina urged Britain to impose sanctions on Russia as a result of the findings which today prompted the Russian Ambassador to claim there had been a ‘whitewash’ to cover up the ‘incompetence’ of the UK’s security services. Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko said it was ‘unacceptable’ for Britain to link Russia to a state-sponsored assassination…
“Just days before he fell ill, Litvinenko accused Mr Putin of responsibility for the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. The report said there was ‘undoubtedly a personal dimension to antagonism’ between the two men…
“Mr Cameron will face growing calls to impose sanctions on high-profile individuals in Russia if the Kremlin refuses to extradite Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun, the alleged assassins…
“There is overwhelming evidence linking the pair to the murder but both deny any involvement and Russian President Mr Putin has so far refused to extradite them. The death of Litvinenko marked a post-Cold War low point in Anglo-Russian relations, and ties have never recovered…
“Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said the killing of Mr Litvinenko using radioactive material exposed thousands of Londoners to unacceptable risk… ‘this is one of the most shocking and disturbing reports ever presented to this Parliament,’ he said. ‘It confirms that the Russian state at its highest level sanctioned the killing of a British citizen on the streets of our capital city and in so doing exposed thousands of Londoners to unacceptable levels of risk… Mr Burnham also said the UK should try to prevent Russia from staging the 2018 World Cup.”
The Daily Mail added in an article, dated January 22:
“Alexander Litvinenko claimed that Vladimir Putin had been caught on camera having sex with young boys, according to the inquiry into the spy’s murder. When the future Russian president was a student, he was filmed abusing children in a flat where another top politician had a threesome with prostitutes, Litvinenko wrote in a sensational web post.
“The wild claim is recorded in Sir Robert Owen’s inquiry report as part of a long list of allegations made by the assassinated spy against Mr Putin after he fled Russia and settled in Britain…”
A Helpless and Spineless British Government
In an accompanying article, dated January 22, Daily Mail published a strong editorial piece by Edward Lucas who writes for The Economist and is the author of “The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces Both Russia and the West”:
“Russia has murdered a British citizen on the streets of London. It has blustered, gloated and lied. And we are not going to do much about it. That is the dismal upshot of the public inquiry into the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. What is abundantly clear is that the British Government is not going to respond properly to the outrageous behaviour of what is a rogue state in all but name…
“Russia is a highly bureaucratic and centralised country. It is inconceivable that anything as risky and important as the assassination of a British citizen, especially one working for MI6, would not be signed off at the highest level…
“Only when relations between the two countries cooled after Russia attacked Ukraine in 2014 did the [British] Government finally… agree to give Mrs Litvinenko and the other witnesses their day in court. Yet none of the evidence given to the inquiry will have come as a surprise to the authorities. Britain’s intelligence services are all too well-informed about the depravity, greed and murderous brutality that reign in the Kremlin.
“They report this in graphic detail to Mr Cameron and other leaders, to the point that the Prime Minister feels physically repelled by Mr Putin when he has to meet him in person…
“Our own diplomats see the naming and shaming of the Putin regime not as an opportunity to be exploited, but as an obstacle to be overcome. They believe that Russia’s help is indispensable in the attempt to start peace talks over Syria, where Mr Putin’s ally President Assad is benefiting from the Russian aggression against militant opposition armies. That is a catastrophically mistaken approach. If we want to bring the Assad regime to the negotiating table, we should be increasing pressure on its backers, such as Russia and Iran, not soft-soaping them.
“The Russian state murdered Mr Litvinenko to send a message to other Russians: do not defect; do not co-operate with Western spy agencies. If you do so, we will hunt you down and mete out a slow, agonising death. It was a message to Britain, too: Russia can do what it likes in the streets of our capital city. British citizenship bestows no protection.”
Britain Not Interested in Opening another Front over Murder of British Citizen
The Guardian wrote on January 21:
“From a British diplomatic point of view, the Litvinenko affair has long been viewed as murky water under the bridge… no one in British government circles needed a high court judge to convince them that Alexander Litvinenko’s murder might have happened with Vladimir Putin’s knowledge.
“The British government did not want Sir Robert Owen’s inquiry to be established in the first place and would certainly never have wanted its explosive findings, implicating the Russian president, to be published at such an excruciatingly sensitive time. As brutal as it may sound, Syria, Ukraine and the state of the world economy all take priority over a decade-old death…
“The British view is that, with existing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine retaining only fragile support in the EU, this is not the time to open another front.
“But one suspects David Cameron has learned a painful lesson. At the outset of his premiership, he believed he had struck a strong personal relationship with Putin. There was a belief Putin was not loyal to Assad. Now there is nothing but disillusionment. The prime minister is aware of the scale of Russian cybercrime, feels he was personally lied to over Ukraine and sees Putin’s defence of Assad as destructive…”
FBI Ready to Indict Clinton?
Newsmax wrote on January 25:
“The FBI is ready to indict Hillary Clinton and if its recommendation isn’t followed by the U.S. attorney general, the agency’s investigators plan to blow the whistle and go public with their findings, former U.S. House Majority leader Tom DeLay tells Newsmax TV…
“Clinton is under FBI investigation for her use of a private server to conduct confidential government business while she was secretary of state. But some Republicans fear any FBI recommendation that hurts Clinton will be squashed by the Obama administration…”
Fight Between Trump and Fox Escalates
The Washington Post wrote on January 27:
“Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump abruptly announced here Tuesday that he would not participate in Thursday’s scheduled debate, escalating his off-and-on feud with Fox News Channel and throwing the GOP campaign into turmoil. Trump’s assertion, which his campaign manager insisted was irreversible, came less than one week before the kickoff Iowa caucuses. He once again defied the conventional rules of politics, and used his power and prominence to shape the campaign agenda and conversation.
“So far, Trump’s untraditional moves have only expanded his support…
“The Republican debates have become must-see television, in part because of the allure of Trump’s star power and unpredictable candidacy. But he said Tuesday that he thinks Fox and other television networks have been taking advantage of him by selling advertisements for their debates at a high premium… Trump said he would instead host a competing event in the state designed to raise money for wounded veterans…
“Trump long has objected to the participation of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as one of the three moderators, claiming she has treated him unfairly with both her questioning of him at last August’s debate and her commentary since then. Trump also said that a ‘wise-guy press release’ that the network issued earlier on Tuesday belittling him was inappropriately antagonistic and childish.
“Fox’s statement said that network officials ‘had learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president.’ The statement added that Trump ‘has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.’ After reading it, Trump said: ‘I said, “Bye-bye.”’ ‘Fox is playing games,’ Trump said. ‘They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else. Let them have the debate. Let’s see how they do with the ratings.’ [According to a poll conducted by Fox News host Greta von Susteren, 83% of conservative viewers said that they would not watch the debate if Trump was not in it.]
“Earlier Tuesday, Fox News Channel Chairman and Chief Executive Roger Ailes said the network would defend Kelly even if it means losing Trump in the debate. In Iowa, Trump is in a fierce and increasingly nasty fight with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Both men have traded places atop recent polls here, and the outcome of Monday’s caucuses could have a profound effect on the direction of the nominating contest. By announcing that he will not debate, Trump likely will dominate news coverage and deny Cruz and other opponents a face-to-face confrontation before Iowa Republicans go to caucus…
“The Republican National Committee, which sanctions and helps organize the official debates, vowed late Thursday not to intervene in Trump’s dispute with Fox…”
Newsmax added on January 27:
“There’s only one man at Fox News who Donald Trump reportedly would talk to about his bombshell decision to boycott… the debate — media mogul Rupert Murdoch. New York magazine reports the GOP presidential front-runner wasn’t taking calls from Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes… ‘in recent months Murdoch has been attending news meetings at Fox in the wake of a health scare that forced Ailes to take an extended leave of absence,” the magazine reports. ‘Succession planning at Fox is very much on Murdoch’s agenda. If Ailes loses his grip on the Trump situation — and right now it looks like he is — Murdoch will have another reason to worry about the stability of his most valuable asset.’…
“New York also reports the network is now split over Fox News host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly — whom Trump has been vilifying ever since the first Fox News debate Aug. 6 — between allies like Brit Hume and conservative anchors who are angry ‘that Kelly has become the face of the network.’ The magazine reports one unnamed anchor was furious that Kelly hosted Michael Moore on her program Tuesday night — and that the lefty filmmaker defended her against Trump… The magazine reports even if Trump’s boycott backfires, however, ‘he’s already achieved a historic victory: exploding the myth that a Republican candidate can’t openly challenge Fox.’”
According to Bloomberg, January 27, “Trump isn’t the first top-tier presidential candidate to skip a debate. Ronald Reagan did not attend a Republican debate ahead of the 1980 Iowa caucuses, which he lost to George H.W. Bush. Reagan went on to the win the nomination and the presidency.”
Scandal in Texas
The website of chron.com reported on January 27:
“A grand jury convened to investigate whether a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic had sold the organs of aborted fetuses on Monday cleared the clinic and instead indicted the undercover videographers behind the allegations, surprising the officials who called for the probe and delighting supporters of the women’s health organization.
“The Harris County grand jury indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, both of California, on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison. It also charged Daleiden, the leader of the videographers, with the same misdemeanor he had alleged – the purchase or sale of human organs, presumably because he had offered to buy in an attempt to provoke Planned Parenthood employees into saying they would sell…
“The videographers, who had posed as employees of a company that buys tissue and filmed interactions with Planned Parenthood executives, issued a statement saying they had not committed any crimes. ‘The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws,’ the statement said…”
The frustration of the American people with our system can be easily understood when, in a horrendous miscarriage of justice, the guilty are cleared and the innocent are indicted.
Violence and Death in Oregon
The Huffington Post reported on January 26:
“Ammon Bundy, leader of the month-long militant occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, was arrested Tuesday in a highway confrontation with law enforcement that killed one of his followers and wounded another… The FBI said the shootings happened when agents, along with Oregon state troopers, ‘began an enforcement action’ on Highway 395 to arrest people involved in the armed occupation on charges of conspiracy to impede federal officials from discharging their duties…
“The occupation was spearheaded by the Bundy brothers, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, as a protest against the treatment of two local ranchers jailed for arson who were ordered to return to prison after a federal judge ruled their original sentences were not long enough. Occupiers also sought to put federal land under local control, ripping up government fences to make their point. The armed anti-government group had occupied a building in the Malheur refuge since early January…
“Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called on federal authorities to end the occupation last week, criticizing what appeared at the time to be the government’s lack of response. She said the militants had cost taxpayers nearly a half-million dollars. ‘This spectacle of lawlessness must end,’ Brown said at a press conference. ‘I will not stop insisting that federal officials enforce the law.’…”
Newsmax reported on January 27:
“Mel Bundy, brother of Oregon protest leader Ammon Bundy, claimed Wednesday that cops ‘murdered’ their group’s spokesman ‘in cold blood’ during a shootout late Tuesday that led to the arrest of eight people near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. ‘LaVoy (Finicum) got out with his hands up in the air, up in the air, saying, “I don’t have a gun,”’ Bundy said in an exclusive interview on Newsmax TV’s prime time show Dennis Michael Lynch: Unfiltered.
“‘He had his hands on his head — and then they shot him. They started firing on him. They shot him. He went to the ground — and they shot him some more.’… ‘They killed LaVoy,’ Mel Bundy told Lynch. ‘Ammon wanted everybody to know, that he is an eyewitness of the murder of LaVoy Finicum. This is what he said: “They murdered him. They murdered him in cold blood. Get it out there. Tell the people what they did.”’
Coming… the Zika Virus
USA Today wrote on January 27:
“U.S. public health officials must prepare now for the inevitable arrival of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne infection that has spread to 21 countries in the Americas and poses particular danger to pregnant women, health experts said. The virus is expected to spread to the United States and every country in the Western hemisphere where the Aedes mosquitoes are known to live… Aedes mosquitoes, which spread the virus, live in every Western hemisphere country but Canada and Chile.
“International air travel will help the virus spread quickly… Zika doesn’t spread from person to person, but people infected while traveling can spread the virus in the USA if they are bitten by local mosquitoes, which then may spread the infection here… The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel alert, warning pregnant women to avoid travel to the 21 countries where Zika is spreading…
“Communities also need to ramp up their mosquito control efforts by spraying and getting rid of standing water… The government of El Salvador has urged women to postpone pregnancies for two years, a move that has been viewed as extreme by most people in the public health community. About half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Scientists have known about Zika virus since the 1940s, but it was not considered a serious threat until a few months ago. That’s when Brazil reported an enormous increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a fetal defect that results in small heads and incomplete brain development…
“Scientists don’t know why Zika is spreading so quickly or why the outbreak has been particularly bad in Brazil…”
A Dangerous New Game for Teens?
The website of nbcsandiego reported on January 27:
“A dangerous new game becoming popular among teens sent a 14-year-old Washington resident to the hospital with 48 stitches, a shattered eye socket and a brain aneurism. [The teen] was severely injured playing the ‘Duct Tape Challenge,’ a trend circulating on social media in which the participant is taped up and is recorded on video trying to break free. Whoever removes the tape the fastest ‘wins’ the challenge…
“[He] was standing while taped up when he lost his balance. The fall caused [him] to hit his head… [He] suffered extensive facial injuries. After a three-hour surgery, [he] was left with metal plates and screws, and was on a temporary ventilator after the operation. His left eye socket shattered, and his facial injuries required 48 stitches and caused a substantial scar.
“Doctors are still unsure if [the teen] will be able to see out of his left eye… [The teen’s mother] who hadn’t heard of the ‘Duct Tape Challenge’ prior to her son’s injuries, wants to use [the teen’s] story as an opportunity to shed light on the dangers of these seemingly harmless viral games.”
Biggest Plague of Locusts in 60 Years in Argentina
The New York Times wrote on January 25:
“Farmers and fumigators in Argentina are running out of time as they scramble to control the country’s worst plague of locusts in more than half a century, officials warned on Monday… when they will then threaten to devour crops like sunflowers and cotton, and grasslands for cattle grazing. ‘It’s the worst explosion in the last 60 years,’ Diego Quiroga, the agriculture agency’s chief of vegetative protection, said in a telephone interview. ‘It’s impossible to eradicate; the plague has already established itself. We’re just acting to make sure it’s the smallest it can be and does the least damage possible.’
“Small pockets of locusts, which first appeared last June, at the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, have spread across an area of northern Argentina about the size of Delaware. The mild and rainy winter here created comfortable breeding conditions for the locusts; their surge outpaced the ability of the authorities to control the spread of the insects.
“Farmers last year reported locust clouds that were more than four miles long and nearly two miles high…”
Young Icelanders Do Not Believe in the God of the Bible
The Washington Post wrote on January 23:
“If you happen to have the chance to talk to young Icelanders about their religious beliefs, be prepared for a surprise. Exactly zero percent of respondents in a recent survey said they believe that God created the Earth. Only 20 years ago, nearly 90 percent of all Icelanders were religious believers. Today, less than 50 percent are…
“Iceland is distinct from much of the rest of the world… In the United States… 28 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 said they believed that God created ‘humans in present form within the last 10,000 years.’ The numbers might not be directly comparable because some Christians believe both in the Big Bang theory and God’s role. But even as the number of young believers in the United States declines, Christianity has maintained a strong influence there.
“So, why are young Icelanders so different from much of the rest of the world?… the Evangelical Lutheran Church is still the country’s declared state church. Solveig Anna Boasdottir, a professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Iceland… said that about 40 percent of the country’s younger generation still consider themselves Christian — but none of them believe that God created the Earth…
“Most experts, however, would agree that… the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s influence is… rapidly diminishing in Iceland… As of last year, about 75 percent of Iceland’s inhabitants were registered members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. However, as recent polls suggest, a significant number consider themselves to be non-believers or atheists… all Icelanders — even atheists — have to pay a tax that is distributed among 40 religious institutions, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church…
“But last year, thousands of Icelanders suddenly joined the ancient Zuist movement — a religion centered on worshiping Sumerian gods. Within two weeks, almost one percent of the country’s population (about 3,000 people) had signed up. Some of the new Zuist members might have been less interested in the movement’s spiritual goals than in an announcement that the Zuist church would pay its members the amount of money they were taxed (about $80 per year).”
Following Viking explorations, Iceland was quickly settled by Norwegians, descendants of “Benjamin,” one of the “lost ten tribes” of the ancient House of Israel.
What Does It Mean to Be the “Salt of the Earth”?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ instructed His closest disciples and established some very foundational statements of Truth. Jesus Christ taught these things to them, knowing that His disciples would propagate His ministry and share the Truth with others. Among the many things that He taught that day, the following statement was included, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13). To refer to people as “salt” may seem like an odd thing to say. What exactly did Jesus Christ mean, and what else can we learn from this symbolic teaching?
To say that His disciples are “the salt of the earth” turns out to be deeply meaningful when we understand more about the context of what was taught in the Sermon on the Mount and even more when we consider the qualities of salt. Taken together, this statement is an observation about the character development of a true Christian. More importantly, it is an admonition to be strong in our convictions and unashamed about the Truth.
As always, it is helpful to begin learning about Scripture in the right context. Preceding the declaration that His disciples are the salt of the earth, Jesus Christ teaches the beatitudes, which describe the various qualities of Christian character. He teaches about the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (compare Matthew 5:3-10). The individuals expressing these qualities are called “blessed” by Jesus Christ. These are all qualities that describe humility, love of mankind, and love of God that Christians are supposed to develop. These also turn out to be qualities that the world despises and rejects. Living a Christian Way of Life with these character traits orients one against the ways of the world. As a result, being a Christian inherently involves imminent and continuing conflict with the world.
Following the description of many of the virtuous qualities of a Christian, Jesus goes on to say, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). It naturally follows that if we are true Christians, the world will offer all kinds of trouble to us, because there is enmity between the world and God (compare James 4:4). In light of this fact, Jesus Christ offers this warning, but also an encouragement. He makes it clear that it is not an easy thing to physically live in the world, but to separate one’s self from it spiritually by being obedient to God (compare Revelation 18:4, Jeremiah 51:45, John 17:16-17). This additional blessing following the beatitudes is directed personally to His disciples, reminding them to not lose heart when they eventually fall into trials of persecution as a result of their commitment to God.
Seeing that Jesus prefaces His teaching about being the salt of the earth by describing Christian qualities and encouraging His disciples to expect and endure persecution, how does this context add meaning to the statement about being the salt of the earth? From these Scriptures it is clear that being the salt of the earth involves having Christian character in such a way that the quality is pure, strong, and uncompromising. Just as salt that is left in the sun or otherwise exposed to harsh elements leeches and loses its natural qualities, a Christian may allow his or her virtuous character qualities to diminish when exposed to the contentious environment and pressures of the world. Also, just as the salt becomes worthless when it loses its natural qualities, Jesus applies the same condemnation in the context of the loss of Christian character in our lives. However, to be the salt of the earth means having character that is strong enough to stand up for the Truth and withstand its harsh, worldly environment, even though persecution may be the result.
Since the quality of salt is expressed by its saltiness, and the quality of a Christian is expressed by convictions affecting our actions, it is worth considering some of the qualities and uses of salt to add even more meaning to this Scripture.
At the time Jesus Christ spoke these words, salt was rare and very valuable. The following excerpt from an article titled “WHY Are Christians the ‘Salt of the Earth,’” published in the Good News in the February 1982 edition, explains more about this property.
“In Christ’s day salt was not as available as it is now. Salt was once so valuable that it was used to pay the wages of Roman soldiers. We get the English word salary from this ancient practice of paying with salt.
“Salt was also used as payment in buying and selling Greek slaves; today people sometimes ask whether a person is ‘worth his salt’ in evaluating him. The disciples would have understood the value and rarity of salt. So what did Christ mean when He called His disciples ‘salt’?
“Just this: God is not calling the whole world now, as Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has explained. ‘No man can come to me,’ Christ said, ‘except the Father which hath sent me draw him’ (John 6:44 [King James Version]).
“God is only working with a small group of people at this time. And God is only working with this ‘little flock’ (Luke 12:32) to get a specific job done — preaching the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God in all the world for a witness to all nations (Matt. 24:14).
“In other words, true Christians are rare. God’s true people, in whom the Spirit of God resides (Rom. 8:9), are far fewer in number than this world’s ‘Christianity’ recognizes. Christians are basically sprinkled across the earth like you would sprinkle salt across food — sparingly. But what a difference they make in the world!
“So one thing we can learn from Christ’s metaphor of salt is that our calling and commission are unique, important and highly valuable. It is a rare opportunity indeed to be called of God in this age.”
In addition to the rare and precious quality of salt, the most notable property is its ability to enhance the flavor of food. By sprinkling salt onto our food, the character of that food tends to come alive and offer a more vibrant flavor. If we apply this concept to Christian living with Christian character, we find that life is more interesting and full of zeal to ourselves and to those we come in contact with. Godly character enhances life just as salt enhances the flavor of food.
Therefore, when a life is lived without the strength of Christian character, it is bland. Even more, living in such a way does not serve the Will of God. If we call ourselves “Christian” but fail to develop the right character qualities, we will meet the same end as the salt that cannot enhance the flavor of food. It will be thrown out as rubbish because it doesn’t glorify God.
This concept is reinforced by the Scripture that follows the declaration of disciples being the salt of the earth. In Matthew 5:14-16 we read, “‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.’” The point that Jesus makes is clear, that Christians are not to hide their Christianity! Being the salt of the earth means to develop and maintain strength in conviction to live according to God’s Will. Likewise, being a light to the world is the next step in the process, which is not to hide the good qualities that we develop.
When Jesus Christ called His disciples “the salt of the earth,” this was much more than an observation limited to His present audience. It extends to all true Christians – the rare few in the world – who are committed to converting their lives to be obedient to God. This is an instruction and an encouragement to not shy away or be ashamed of being a Christian, even in the face of persecution (compare 1 Peter 4:16). Being the salt of the earth means being confident of our calling and strong in our convictions so that we live in a way that glorifies God and His Truth.
Lead Writer: Eric Rank
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Our new booklet, “Punishment for Our Sins,” has reached the first review cycle. We hope to be able to present printed copies to our members and subscribers before or at the time of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
“Close the Borders to all Refugees!” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Donald Trump’s demands to close American borders to all Muslims are echoed in Germany where several politicians are saying that “Germany should completely close its borders to refugees within the next two months for an unspecified period” if it is to solve the migrant crisis. Others insist that the number of migrants must be reduced drastically, while Austria announced that no migrant will be allowed anymore to come and stay in Austria. We are told that “Germany is boiling”; that there is “an apocalyptic mood in the media”; that Chancellor “Merkel is at the heart of the criticism”; and that “everyone is against the chancellor.” What does it all mean in the light of biblical prophecy for Europe and Germany? For answers, we are offering our free booklet, “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”
A new Global Trailer, “Sickness and Health,” presented by Pastor Brian Gale, is now posted.
“Wieso ist Christus das Ende des Gesetzes?” is the title of a new German sermon for this coming Sabbath. Title in English: “Why Is Christ the End of the Law?”
“The Seal of God,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
God says He knows those who are His, because they have answered the call and are responding. But is this the only requirement that God requires of us? How do we think of our selves in regard to our calling? Are we active in drawing close to our Creator?
“Rumors and Conspiracies,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Many believe in wild rumors and weird conspiracy theories. And even some in God’s Church can become easy targets, if they are not careful. We are called upon to come out of the Babylonian confusion of political propaganda and war hysteria, while rejecting unprovable concepts and speculations. Would we be guilty of lying if we were to propagate something which turns out to be false? Do we understand that many popular conspiracy theories were invented by Satan and his demons?
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