|Live Services||Stay Close; Inside Out|
|Editorial||A Foundation to Endure|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||“Not Under Law, But Under Grace?” (Part 1)|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Stay Close; Inside Out
On February 13, 2016, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Stay Close,” and the sermon, titled, “Inside Out.”
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.
A Foundation to Endure
by Robb Harris
This past weekend a magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook Taiwan causing over 40 deaths, with numbers expected to rise. The majority of these deaths occurred in one particular high-rise in the city of Tainan. Pictures of the destroyed high-rise have come to light showing support beams lined with oil cans as a cheap construction filler. The outrage from survivors and locals has spurred government officials to investigate the incident further. To date, a few people involved in the construction of the building have been arrested. While the earthquake triggered the collapse, many point to shoddy construction techniques as the root cause.
Careless building techniques plague Christianity today, and have since deceit crept into the early New Testament church. Many of today’s most popular Christian leaders have built opulent church organizations and buildings with ever increasing growth. But all of these grand edifices invoking the name of God are built on lies and foundations conceived by man, not God.
Christ spoke of those who falsely profess to know God because they refuse to heed His Word (Matthew 7:21-23). Paul states, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13). What man builds is based only on the physical, and physical cannot inherit the kingdom prepared for each of us (Matthew 25:34).
Each of us has been given the opportunity to build upon a foundation laid by our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. But He warns us that this Way of Life will take work to build and perseverance to maintain. After Christ stated that we must be willing to forfeit EVERYTHING to be His disciples, He stated, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” (Luke 14:28-30).
The reason Christ was so adamant about us fully committing to His teachings is to prepare us so that we can inherit eternal life. An unstable foundation will always topple in adversity. We will always become lost if God isn’t leading every step we take.
When Paul wrote to Timothy to exhort him in strengthening his ministry, he explained why it is so important to build upon a foundation that will last. Speaking about those who built on a good foundation, Paul says they were “…storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:19). We must have a lasting foundation for the trials we will face, not only in our daily life, but especially as this age ends and Satan is unleashed to persecute God’s people. Paul continues, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).
An earthquake like none before is going to shake this world to its core. That earthquake is the righteous judgment of God. All that will remain standing during that judgment are those who built upon the everlasting truth and solid foundation of God.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won big in New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday. The Weekly Standard wrote on February 10: “Donald Trump got everything he wanted… and a whole lot more. He’s not only a stronger frontrunner in the Republican race than ever; he’s now in the driver’s seat on the road to the presidential nomination.”
What does all of this mean? Please view our new StandingWatch program, titled “Trump Shocks Europe.” See also our announcement and the summary of the program in our “Preaching the Gospel” section in this Update.
In this issue of the Current Events, we begin focusing on interesting developments within and pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church, including a planned historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill I, the highly controversial leader of the Russian Orthodox Church; a potential Vatican cover-up; extremely dangerous beliefs within the Catholic Church; and the positon of the German Catholic Church on refugees.
We continue presenting information about events in Europe which may hint at the fortification of Europe and the creation of a European army as well as a closer economic relationship with Iran (also showing Iran’s confidence in the euro). At the same time, the relationship between the EU and Britain continues to deteriorate.
While the USA seems to lose more and more on the domestic and international economic front, interesting thoughts are raised as to what Donald Trump might do regarding the national debt, if he became president.
We also turn our attention to the ongoing hotly debated issue of illegal aliens in the USA and Europe; address North Korea’s latest provocation; speak on gender identity and most ridiculous ideas and experiments of scientists; and report on a remarkable decision in Hawaii pertaining to vaccinations.
We conclude with an interesting article on the Kidron Valley, which has immense prophetic significance for the future.
This Week in the News
Leaders of Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches Meet
The Washington Post wrote on February 5:
“Pope Francis and the leader of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church plan a historic meeting next week in Cuba, officials said Friday, marking the most significant steps ever attempted to heal a schism that has divided Christianity between East and West for nearly 1,000 years… The churches have been formally estranged since the 11th century over issues such as papal authority and, more recently, by disputes over Roman Catholic reach into traditionally Orthodox regions.
“The planned encounter next Friday between Francis and Patriarch Kirill I at Havana’s airport also highlights apparent moves toward greater solidarity amid current worries. Among them: pressures facing ancient Christian communities in the Middle East from militant groups such as the Islamic State. Even the venue carries significance. Cuba, which once suppressed the Roman Catholic church as a Soviet client state, was picked because the legacy of Christian rifts remains too vivid in Europe, a Russian church official said.
“A full reconciliation would require major changes on both sides, but warmer ties sanctioned by the highest authorities would represent one of the biggest modern shifts in the world’s religious landscape. The Russian Church is by far the largest and most influential in the Orthodox world, which is a patchwork of various churches and patriarchs.”
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 6:
“The meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch will go down in history… The historic announcement came as a major surprise… It is a sensation, and not just for religious aficionados with an interest in ecumenical Christianity…
“Popes have been traveling the world for 50 years now. The papacy of John Paul II (1978-2005) was, at times, a global pilgrimage and missionary tour, frequently colored with Realpolitik nuances. Benedict XVI (2005-2013) continued that tradition. On the global map of papal travel destinations, there are not many untouched areas. The most significant are China and Russia. This week, the Vatican has published a long interview that Francis gave to a Chinese newspaper, and which has been widely reported about in the country’s media. Now, just three days later, there’s the announcement of the meeting in Havana…
“But the meeting in Havana points to another important, even historic, date this year that most Christians in the Western hemisphere likely haven’t registered… In June, Crete will be the scene of the first Orthodox Great and Holy Council in more than 1,000 years… Rome has long been in touch with most of the other representatives – only Kyrill and Moscow had until now been at arm’s length. That has now changed and could well have an effect on events in Crete. The Pope will travel to Mexico next Friday… But as part of that trip, he will also be entering a new era in ecumenical history.”
The website of mashable.com added on February 6:
“One is recognized as a humble leader who cares for the poor and has kissed the feet of peasants. The other has been plagued by scandal and become an object of ridicule because of his luxurious lifestyle, which includes an apparent penchant for pricey ski vacations in Switzerland…
“Patriarch Kirill I… is a staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin and his conservative policies. He once famously called the Russian head of state a ‘miracle from God’ and he has come out in support of Moscow’s military campaign in Syria which he called a ‘holy war.’ That support has allowed the Russian Orthodox Church to grow exceptionally powerful over the past decade.
“But that has not stopped Kirill, who has called decisions by western countries to legalize same-sex marriage a ‘dangerous sign of the apocalypse,’ from being widely mocked by his subjects. The Russian public was outraged when he was seen wearing a $30,000 watch in a photograph published in 2012…
“The two are not likely to fully reconcile the churches’ differences, as that would require major concessions from both sides. Metropolitan Illarion, foreign policy chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, told reporters Friday that one major disagreement between the Holy See and the Russian Church is over various Orthodox churches in western Ukraine…
“The conflict centers on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the country’s second-largest, which follows eastern church rites but answers to the Holy See. The Russian Orthodox Church has considered western Ukraine its traditional territory and has resented papal influence there.
“Francis also angered the Moscow patriarchy and the Kremlin when he came out in support of Kiev during the country’s revolution and remained behind Ukraine when Russia annexed Crimea and fomented the war in its eastern regions. More than 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict since April 2014…”
The Bible indicates very strongly that the Roman Catholic Church will again become the dominant force in traditional Christianity, under the powerful leadership of a charismatic pope. Those few Christian organizations which will not agree to come under the umbrella of the “mother church” will be ostracized and labeled as false sects and cults.
The Washington Post wrote on February 6:
“Pope Francis’ sex abuse advisory committee voted Saturday to sideline one of its members, a high-profile abuse survivor who had clashed with the commission over its mission.
“Peter Saunders, a British advocate for victims, had been highly critical of the Vatican’s slow pace of progress in taking measures to protect children and punish bishops who covered up for pedophile priests. He had also wanted the commission to intervene immediately in individual cases, rather than just craft long-term policies to fight abuse.
“During a commission meeting Saturday, ‘it was decided that Mr. Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence from his membership to consider how he might best support the commission’s work,’ the Vatican said…
“[Saunders] said the Vatican’s inaction in the face of continuing cases of children being raped and molested ‘made me lose faith in the process and lose faith in Pope Francis.’…
“The commission was formed after victims’ groups questioned whether the Argentine pope, who had never dealt with an abuse case, really understood the scope of the scandal… The commission had been highly critical of Francis’ decision to appoint a Chilean bishop despite allegations from abuse survivors that he had covered up for the country’s most notorious pedophile, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.
“One of Karadima’s victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, joined Saunders on Saturday in Rome in hopes of speaking to the commission but was refused. Cruz had been proposed as a possible commission member but emails published in the Chilean media showed how the Chilean church hierarchy worked to keep him off the panel.”
ABC News added on February 5:
“Cardinal George Pell is still too ill to travel from Rome to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse… His lawyers applied for the 74-year-old to be able to give evidence by audio visual link at hearings of the inquiry dealing with abuse in Ballarat. Several victims of abuse had stated their opposition to the request.
“A two-page medical report was handed up to support the application that a flight to Australia from Rome, where Cardinal Pell oversees the Vatican’s finances, could pose a serious risk to his health.”
It seems that the hierarchy in the Church of Rome want to keep indiscretions covered up while they promote themselves as having cleaned out an infested priesthood.
Dangerous Catholic Beliefs
Daily Mail wrote on February 5:
“The embalmed body of a revered Roman Catholic monk who died nearly 50 years ago has arrived back at the Vatican to be blessed by the Pope in St Peter’s Basilica in front of thousands of worshipers. Padre Pio’s body was paraded through the streets in a crystal coffin as it made its way through The Vatican to the famous basilica at the request of Pope Francis as part of events to mark the ongoing Catholic Jubilee Year.
“He was accompanied on the trip to St Peter’s by another Saint Leopold Mandic (1866-1942), a Croatian Capuchin who was, like Pio, celebrated for his skill in receiving confessions – a quality Francis wants to champion during the Jubilee year…
“Italian Friar Pio, who had been interred in San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy was said to have suffered from the stigmata phenomenon – body marks corresponding to the wounds Jesus Christ received during his crucifixion…
“Cesarina Onesi, 74, [who] was among the thousands of faithful who turned out to accompany the coffins on the final leg of their journey to St Peter’s said she had been very moved by the experience. ‘I pray to him (Pio) every night, he is one of the four or five saints I pray to. He was a great man, so much faith, so much courage, so much humanity.’
“Canonised under Pope John-Paul II, Pio’s brand of popular, mystical Catholicism was less popular with the Vatican authorities when he was alive. He regularly recounted having experienced both heavenly and diabolic visions, other clerics claimed to have witnessed him levitating in ecstasy and he was frequently associated with apparently miraculous recoveries among the seriously ill…
“Many people said the brown-robed Padre Pio was able to predict events in their lives and knew what they were about to confess. There are thousands of ‘Padre Pio Prayer Groups’ around the world. Padre Pio was dogged during his life and even after his death by allegations that he was a fake but Church investigators cleared him each time…
“Pio of Pietrelcina, known as Padre Pio, was born in 1887 to deeply religious farmers in the small agricultural town of Pietrelcina, in Campania, Italy. By the age of five he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to serving God and claimed to have inner battles with demons and moments of religious out of body experiences…
“Since his death and burial in 1968 at his church in San Giovanni Rotondo, his popularity has grown and he is considered one of the Church’s most popular saints.”
We can say categorically and dogmatically, based on the Bible, that any “powers” Padre Pio might have had (if the accounts are true) would NOT have been given to him by God. The Holy Scriptures warn us not to be deceived by “lying wonders.”
Mexican Catholics Worship the Skeleton “Death Saint”
AFP wrote on February 8:
“Two weeks after baptizing her at a Catholic church, baby Adriana’s parents put her in a white gown again for a second sacrament: This time, with Mexico’s skeletal ‘Death Saint.’ As they held the sleepy three-month-old child, a priestess sprinkled holy water infused with rose petals on her in front of 300 people under a 22-meter (72-foot) statue of the Grim Reaper-like ‘Santa Muerte’ in a Mexico City suburb.
“When Pope Francis arrives in Mexico for a five-day visit on Friday, he will find a country where devotion to Santa Muerte is growing fast despite the Vatican’s rejection of the figure as blasphemous… But the Church is losing the battle against the Death Saint, which is famous for being worshipped by drug cartels but is followed by a wider sector of Mexican society, from the poor to blue-collar workers, police, doctors and teachers… Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, estimates that between 10 million and 12 million people follow Santa Muerte in Mexico, the United States and Central America…
“That leaves the Roman Catholic Church worried in Mexico. ‘This is the fastest-growing new religious movement not only in Mexico, but in the entire Americas,’ Chesnut… told AFP…”
German Catholic Church Advocates Reduction in Refugees
AFP wrote on February 6:
“The German Catholic Church called for a reduction in the influx of refugees arriving in Germany, saying the country cannot take in ‘all the world’s needy,’ according to an interview published Saturday. Germany has been struggling to cope with 1.1 million asylum seekers that arrived in 2015 and Berlin has not yet given an official estimate for how many it expects this year. ‘As a church we say that we need a reduction in the number of refugees,’ Cardinal Reinhard Marx, chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, told the Passauer Neue Presse daily…
“The question of how to respond to the migrant crisis, he asserted, should not solely be a matter of ‘charity but also reason.’ However, Marx also expressed concern at a rise in xenophobia in Germany amid the worst refugee crisis that Europe has known since World War II… ‘This ideology has evidently been further consolidated,’ he said, lamenting that the belittling of foreigners had ‘reached the upper classes.’
“Anti-Islamic group Pegida, which began as a movement in Germany in mid-2014 and has since spread to France and other European countries, called on members and sympathisers from across Europe to march Saturday under the anti-migrant banner of ‘Fortress Europe’.”
In Dresden, Germany, about 8,000 people participated in the Pegida demonstration.
Pope Very “Political Person”?
Newsmax reported on February 11:
“Donald Trump called Pope Francis ‘a very political person’ who doesn’t understand America’s immigration problem when asked on Thursday about the Pope’s plan to stand with migrants at the U.S.-Mexican border on Friday.
“‘I think he doesn’t understand the problems our country has,’ Trump told Fox Business Network’s ‘Varney & Co.’ ‘I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico, and I think Mexico got him to do it. Because Mexico wants to keep the border just the way it is because they are making a fortune and we are losing.’
“CBS News.com noted that Trump has had flattering things to say about Pope Francis in the past… But he also told CNN in August he would warn Francis about the danger of the Islamic State (ISIS) if he met him face-to-face. ‘You know that ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican?’ Trump said…”
Palace of Henry VIII Holds First Catholic Service in Nearly 500 Years
The New York Times wrote on February 9:
“Hampton Court Palace, where the Tudor king, Henry (VIII.), broke off ties with the papacy in 1530 just to divorce his first wife and marry his mistress — with whom he was besotted and whom he later beheaded — on Tuesday held its first Roman Catholic service in more than 450 years.
“During the service, held in the palace’s Chapel Royal, chants in Latin from an 18-person choir swelled up toward turquoise ceilings, adorned with golden stars and gilded cherubs. Around 350 attendees were packed into tiny wooden pews.
“A procession of altar boys and priests solemnly made its way toward the front of the chapel as the scent of incense wafted across the ancient hall. The Medieval Latin chants date to before the Protestant Reformation, when they were heard throughout churches in Europe.
“The service symbolized in part a growing reconciliation between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. Both are grappling with internal divisions, including a battle over homosexuality, and the service came as several high-profile figures, including some members of the royal family and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, have left the Anglican Church. (In 2011, a ban on a British monarch’s marrying a Roman Catholic was lifted after more than three centuries, but Roman Catholics are still barred from taking the throne.)…”
USA Wants to Fortify Europe
The New York Times wrote on February 1:
“President Obama plans to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that administration officials said was aimed at deterring Russia from further aggression in the region. The White House plans to pay for the additional weapons and equipment with a budget request of more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe in 2017, several officials said Monday, more than quadrupling the current budget of $789 million. The weapons and equipment will be used by American and NATO forces, ensuring that the alliance can maintain a full armored combat brigade in the region at all times…
“It is not clear how Russia will react to the fortified military presence along NATO’s eastern flank… outside analysts were surprised by the magnitude of the increase in military funding for Europe… Some analysts said the increased funding and deployments would certainly rattle Russia… there is no doubt the primary target of the funding is Russia. Administration officials said that two years after its annexation of Crimea— an annexation that neither the United States nor its European allies recognize — it was imperative to send Moscow a message that NATO will do all it needs to do in order to stand behind Eastern European members worried that they could be next.”
Ultimately, Europe will be able to use these weapons against the USA.
An Important Step in the Creation of a United European Army?
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 4:
“Berlin has signed a deal that will lead to further integration of German naval forces with the Dutch military. The move is being hailed as an important step in the creation of united European armed forces. While in Amsterdam, where she met with the Dutch Defense Minister, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, von der Leyen called the plan a ‘prime example for the building of a European defense union.’
“In exchange for the German battalion, which will be subordinate to the Dutch navy until 2018 and includes mine detectors, reconnaissance and commando units, Berlin will share the use of an ultramodern Dutch supply ship… The 205-meter (673-foot) ship, the ‘Karel Doorman,’ is equipped to carry Leopard 2 battle tanks.”
Die Welt stated that it will remain to be seen whether other European nations will join the German-Dutch efforts, and whether a “core European army” (“europaeische Kernarmee”) might be created as a consequence.
Iran Wants Euros, Not Dollars
Reuters reported on February 5:
“Iran wants to recover tens of billions of dollars it is owed by India and other buyers of its oil in euros and is billing new crude sales in euros, too, looking to reduce its dependence on the U.S. dollar following last month’s sanctions relief… Iran will charge in euros for its recently signed oil contracts with firms including French oil and gas major Total, Spanish refiner Cepsa and Litasco, the trading arm of Russia’s Lukoil…
“Switching oil sales to euros makes sense as Europe is now one of Iran’s biggest trading partners… Iran has pushed for years to have the euro replace the dollar as the currency for international oil trade…
“Iran has the world’s fourth-largest proved reserves of crude oil, and expects to quickly increase production, which could lead to tens of billions of euros worth of new oil trade. Iran’s insistence on being paid in euros rather than dollars is also a sign of an uneasy truce between Tehran and Washington…
“India owes Tehran about $6 billion for oil delivered during the sanctions years… Indian government sources confirmed Iran is looking to be paid in euros.”
It is interesting that Iran has strong confidence in the euro, while rejecting the US dollar. Even though some are uncertain on the issue, being tossed to and fro with every wind of speculation, we have clearly and consistently stated all along that the euro will survive and gain economic strength in the world.
EU President Slams Britain
Express wrote on February 5:
“BRUSSELS politicians believe Britain should be allowed to QUIT the EU rather than test their ‘patience and good will’ by demanding a renegotiation deal, the president of the European Parliament revealed today. Martin Schulz hit out at David Cameron’s ‘continuous demands’ for EU reform as he claimed many of his colleagues in Brussels had grown so fed up with Britain they believed the UK should be shown the exit door.
“The German politician also poured cold water over the Prime Minister’s hopes of achieving his renegotiation of Britain’s EU relationship, which the Government has promised before the upcoming in/out referendum of the UK’s membership of the 28-country bloc. He highlighted the Prime Minister’s plan for an ’emergency brake’ on EU migrants’ in-work benefits and greater protection for non-eurozone countries as sticking-points. Mr Schulz also sparked a row with Downing Street by claiming Britain’s deal could be reversed at a later stage, despite Mr Cameron’s pledge to deliver ‘legally-binding and irreversible’ reforms.
“On Tuesday, European Council president Donald Tusk revealed the Prime Minister’s draft renegotiation agreement with other EU leaders, which will be voted on at a crunch summit later this month. Critics blasted the ‘watered-down’ reforms to Britain’s EU membership, which were also branded ‘pathetic’ and ‘hardly worth waiting for’. And Mr Schulz has now warned the Prime Minister he might struggle to get even his limited deal ratified by MEPs.
“Delivering a speech at the London School of Economics, the German politician revealed how fellow Brussels politicians had told him to let Britain leave the EU at the upcoming in/out referendum rather than bother with negotiating with Mr Cameron. But Mr Schulz insisted he was ‘a strong supporter of the UK remaining in the EU’. He added: ‘This is despite the fact – and I admit this quite frankly – that the British often test our patience and good will with their continuous demands. They are demanding. They push hard. They insist. They just don’t let go. Many of my colleagues say behind closed doors: “Don’t stop a rolling stone. If the Brits want to leave, let them leave.”’
“Mr Schulz said he wanted to ‘raise concerns’ with parts of Britain’s draft EU deal, warning the Prime Minister his European Parliament will ‘defend the fundamental principles and objectives of the EU’…
“Mr Schulz dismissed Mr Cameron’s call for the EU to be rebranded a ‘multi-currency union’, declaring: ‘The currency of the European Union is the Euro. The Treaties are very clear on this.’ Mr Schulz said the Prime Minister would not be given a ‘de facto veto’ on legislation to strengthen the eurozone… The European Parliament president also raised objections to Mr Cameron’s proposal for an ’emergency brake’, which would allow Britain to only pay limited benefits to EU migrants for their first four years in the UK. Describing how this could discriminate between EU citizens based on their nationality, he said: ‘Solutions cannot come at the price of discriminating against EU citizens…’
“The Prime Minister’s hopes of completing his draft EU deal in full were also doubted today by another influential Brussels politician. Ex-Belgium prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, who leads one of the largest groups in the European Parliament, warned Mr Cameron that MEPs could alter or even derail his proposals as they pass through the EU’s institutions…
“The Prime Minister also faced further dissent from within his own party, with Tory backbencher Stewart Jackson telling him there is ‘a sense of palpable disappointment’ with the results of his draft EU agreement. He told the BBC’s Daily Politics: ‘We believed he was going to make good on his pledges at the Bloomberg speech in 2013 for a radical renegotiation of our relationship with the EU and actually repatriating powers. But what we’ve seen, unfortunately, doesn’t stack up. We’ve seen also this week, effectively… that despite the best efforts of the Prime Minister the EU is set on ever-closer union and is fundamentally unreformable.’”
The Daily Mail added on February 5:
“[Mr Cameron asserted] that all changes will be ‘legally binding and irreversible’ if his reform package is agreed at a European Council summit later this month and speaking this afternoon he hit straight back at Mr Schulz’s claims. ‘If it is agreed it will be agreed as a legally binding treaty deposited at the United Nations,’ he said at a press conference in Copenhagen this afternoon. It would only be reversible if all 28 countries including Britain agreed to reverse it. Given that it’s the treaty that Britain wants, there is no way we are going to agree to reverse it. So while you can argue that it is technically reversible if we agree to reverse it, it is not in fact reversible.’ …
“Cameron kick-started a two-week charm offensive to persuade EU leaders to agree to the draft EU deal he unveiled earlier this week. He hopes his fellow 27 EU leaders will agree to his renegotiation deal at a crunch summit on February 18. Cameron won the backing of Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen today, who hailed Britain as a voice of ‘common sense’… [Other reports suggest that he also won the support of Poland.]
“But he was dealt a blow this morning after a poll put the campaign for Britain to leave the EU nine-points ahead in the first survey of public opinion since he unveiled his deal on Tuesday. The record lead for the Brexit campaign suggests voters have overwhelmingly rejected the Prime Minister’s plans for an emergency brake for EU migrants’ access to benefits and a ‘red card’ for national parliaments to veto EU laws.
“The first survey of public opinion since Tuesday’s deal found 45 per cent of voters will opt to quit the EU, while just 36 per cent want to remain. But crucially, one in five voters have yet to decide which way they will vote…
“Banking giant Goldman Sachs has warned that Brexit could cause an immediate 20 per cent drop in the value of the pound… The US investment bank, which is a financial backer of the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign, has predicted voters will opt for staying in the EU.”
The Times added on February 6:
“The tycoon [and multimillionaire, who made his fortune from insurance and] who is Ukip’s biggest donor says the party [The UK Independence Party or UKIP is a Eurosceptic and right-wing populist political party in the United Kingdom, according to Wikipedia] may have to be disbanded or rebranded after the expected June referendum on Britain in Europe. ‘I’ve got a weird feeling that British politics will be realigned after the referendum … Something’s got to give,’ said Arron Banks. ‘I don’t think Ukip necessarily is the right vehicle, but I think strange things will come out of the referendum. It unleashes strange forces that I don’t think anyone really understands yet.’”
This wording is interesting. When the Berlin Wall fell, observers used the same expressions of “strange forces beyond our control,” as being behind the events. The expression was also used to describe Hitler’s rise and fall.
The Times also reported on February 6 that in regard to conservative voters, “A YouGov poll for The Times found that only 32 per cent of Tories said that they would vote to remain, while 47 per cent would vote to leave, and 21 per cent had not made up their mind.”
It is clear from the Bible that the UK will leave the EU in due time. It is interesting that this step, even though it might be felt necessary by the British people, will contribute to the economic and political demise of the UK, as it is prophesied to occur in Scripture.
EU Committed to Ever Closer Union
The Guardian wrote on February 10:
“Now top EU members including France and Germany say they support an ‘ever closer union’.
“David Cameron’s bid to shake up Britain’s role in the European Union could be in tatters… Founding members Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg confirmed their ‘strong commitment’ to the so-called European project yesterday. The country’s foreign ministers released a joint statement ahead of a long awaited summit in Brussels next week… Backing a key pledge in the founding Treaty of Rome, the officials said: ‘We remain resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe.'”
China Buys Chicago Stock Exchange
CNN wrote on February 5:
“One of America’s oldest stock exchanges has just been sold to China. The 134-year-old Chicago Stock Exchange reached a deal on Friday to be acquired by a Chinese-led group of investors. The purchase by Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group is the latest U.S. investment made by China and would give the country a foothold in the vast American stock market.
“The struggling Chicago Stock Exchange is a very small player in the exchange world whose presence is overshadowed by Nasdaq… As of January, the Chicago Stock Exchange handled just 0.5% of U.S. trading, making it the third-smallest U.S. exchange…
“It’s not clear yet if the acquisition of the tiny Chicago Stock Exchange will face any political hurdles…
“China has been on a buying spree this year. Its largest deal was a $43 billion takeover of Swiss chemicals giant Sygenta earlier this week. So far in 2016, Chinese companies have announced plans to buy 66 foreign companies worth $68 billion…
“Sayena Mostowfi, head of equities research at TABB, said the Chicago Stock Exchange deal represents a vote of confidence in the U.S. stock market. ‘We have one of the most liquid and efficient stock markets in the world. People are looking at us as a model they want to be part of and invest in,’ she said.”
How Would Trump Wipe Out the National Debt?
Breitbart wrote on February 5:
“GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed tackling the national debt by… creating a ‘dynamic economy’ on Friday’s ‘O’Reilly Factor’ on the Fox News Channel…
“Trump was then questioned on how he would bring down the national debt. He responded, ‘We have a country with no growth. We have no growth.’ He later added, after host Bill O’Reilly cut in to ask how this [would] bring down the debt, ‘[W]e’re going to create a dynamic economy again. We’re going to bring the jobs back from China, from Mexico, from Japan.’
“O’Reilly again asked how this would bring down the debt, to which Trump answered, ‘Because the country is going to start growing, and we’ll be up to 4 and even 5%, and when we do that, we pay it back so easily. It’s easy to pay it back.’
“O’Reilly then asked Trump how it would be easy. Trump stated, ‘Because essentially, if you look at the country like a profit-making corporation, or a losing corporation, right now we’re a losing corporation. We’re going to make it a profit-making corporation.’
“O’Reilly then said, ‘OK, but then you’re going to have to raise taxes to get more money in to pay down that debt.’ Trump responded, ‘The problem we have is our taxes are so high, that nobody can — everybody’s choking.’
“O’Reilly then asked how even with more economic growth, he would pay down trillions of dollars in debt. Trump said, ‘[L]isten, the politicians have caused this problem. We’re going to make our country dynamic again. Now, companies, big companies like Pfizer, are leaving. they’re going to make it worse. They’re leaving. Many — it’s called corporate inversion. Many companies are leaving because the taxes are so high. We have to lower taxes, not raise taxes.’
“He added, ‘[T]he country will be more dynamic. It’ll be a dynamic — we are going to create a dynamic economy, where real jobs are going to be pouring into the country, and we’ll have a country that’s sustainable. It’ll work, Bill.’”
It is obvious that Trump avoided answering O’Reilly’s repeated question as to how he will deal with the national debt. Creating a dynamic economy and lowering (!) taxes will not help paying down the debt. As a successful business man, Trump must know that. Assuming he is not just all talk, he must have a plan to deal with the national debt, but he may be unwilling to state what he wants to do. He said on different occasions that he does not want to be like President Obama in placing all his cards on the table and informing the enemy about his next steps.
So, looking at history, COULD IT BE that Trump has something totally different in mind?
For instance, on January 8, 1835, President Andrew Jackson had paid off the national debt. He had taken advantage of a huge real-estate bubble that was raging in the Western U.S. The federal government owned a lot of Western land — and Jackson started selling it off. He had also blocked every spending bill he could. When Jackson took office, the national debt was about $58 million. Six years later, it was all gone.
Let’s look how Germany did it after World War I.
The Treaty of Versailles required Germany to pay 132 billion gold marks (US$33 billion) in reparations to cover civilian damage caused during the war. Because of the lack of reparation payments by Germany, France occupied the Ruhr in 1923 to enforce payments, causing an international crisis that resulted in the implementation of the Dawes Plan in 1924. This plan outlined a new payment method and raised international loans to help Germany meet her reparation commitments. Despite this, by 1928 Germany called for a new payment plan, resulting in the Young Plan that established the German reparation requirements at 112 billion marks (US$26.3 billion) and created a schedule of payments that would see Germany complete payments by 1988.
Despite the reduction, there was increasing German hostility to the plan. In December 1929, 5.8 million voters registered their opposition to the plan during a plebiscite, which resulted in Adolf Hitler gaining significant national attention and valuable right-wing financing. In 1933, the new German Chancellor Adolf Hitler cancelled all payments.
We do not say that something like this will occur, or is even contemplated. But just imagine what would happen if the USA would decide to wipe out its national debt (including American debt towards China) and just cancel all payments.
New US Policy For Illegal Aliens—Abolishing Immigration Law?
The Washington Examiner wrote on February 4:
“In a shocking reversal of policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are being told to release illegal immigrants and no longer order them to appear at deportation hearings, essentially a license to stay in the United States, a key agent testified Thursday. What’s more, the stand down order includes a requirement that the whereabouts of illegals released are not to be tracked. ‘We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether,’ suggested agent Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council… Judd said the policy shift was prompted by Obama administration ‘embarrassment’ that just over half of illegals ordered to appear in court actually do…
“[Judd] said the new policy ‘makes mandatory the release, without an NTA, of any person arrested by the Border Patrol for being in the country illegally, as long as they do not have a previous felony arrest conviction and as long as they claim to have been continuously in the United States since January of 2014. The operative word in this policy is “claim.” The policy does not require the person to prove they have been here which is the same burden placed on them during deportation proceedings. Instead, it simply requires them to claim to have been here since January of 2014’…
“The go free policy, he said, has prompted thousands of Latinos to cross the border, and among them are hundreds of criminal foot soldiers, according to other testimony. ‘Immigration laws today appear to be mere suggestions. There are little or no consequences for breaking the laws and that fact is well known in other countries. If government agencies like DHS or CBP are allowed to bypass Congress by legislating through policy, we might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether,’ Judd concluded.”
American citizens can clearly see the incredible lack of responsibility of their leadership, which explains the unparalleled success of outsiders in the current presidential election process.
“Political Correctness” in Sweden—Don’t Offend Aliens
Breitbart wrote on February 4:
“The municipal government in the Swedish town where an asylum centre worker was stabbed to death refuses to allow a memorial at the centre for fear of offending migrants. Swedish media SVT reports that the co-workers of the victim wished to honour the memory of 22-year-old Alexandra Mezher… who was stabbed to death by an underage Somali male on the 25th of January. The case provoked an international uproar which has led many to question the Swedish government’s handling of the migrant crisis…
“Carl Lindahl, who has worked at a similar asylum centre for over three years… along with another colleague, wished to organize a small rally or march in the town to express mourning for Ms. Mezher but were shocked to learn that the municipality not only refused to fly their flag at half mast but also denied them use of any municipal premises…
“Locals asked why the municipality was against the demonstration and a representative reached out to SVT and told them the municipality was worried about offending the migrants at the asylum centre… The story of the murder has resonated across Sweden and with the Swedish people. Inspired to take action because of the events, Swedish men joined together to form groups to protect women in Stockholm train station from unwanted sexual advances from migrants.
“Some, like commentator Pamela Geller, are even saying the incident could be the beginning of the end of Swedish tolerance and that a potential ‘civil war’ could ensue. The story also revealed to Swedes how they might not be even getting the full story on the case as Breitbart revealed the Daily Mail was blocking details of the story to Swedish internet users in what some allege to be interference from Stockholm.”
BBC Muzzles Journalists; Caters to Muslims
Breitbart reported on February 5:
“Journalists at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) should refer to the Islamic prophet, Mohammed, as ‘the Prophet’, according to the corporation’s in-house style guide.
“Under the section labelled ‘Muhammad’, the guide says: ‘For the founder of Islam, our style is the Prophet Muhammad; at second reference Muhammad or the Prophet.’ This advice is repeated in the sections on ‘Arabic names’ and ‘Islam’.
“The assertion that Mohammed is ‘the Prophet’, with a capital P, will likely cause controversy. While followers of Islam believe him to be the last prophet sent by God – Christians, Jews, atheists and followers of other religions do not regard him as a prophet at all. There are also questions over whether Mohammed and Islam are being given special treatment in the style guide, which does not tell journalists how to refer to significant figures from other religions.
“It does not, for example, tell staff to refer to Jesus as ‘Son of God’, ‘Our Lord’ or ‘The Messiah’, nor does it say to call the Buddha by any of his Ten Titles, or offer any advice on how to refer to holy figures from Hinduism or Sikhism…
“This is not the first controversy the BBC has found itself in over the subject of Islam. In November, it used the words ‘hateful’, ‘Islamophobic’ and ‘bad timing’ to describe a hashtag used by atheist ex-Muslims to explain why they left the faith.
“… the BBC’s style guide also tells journalists to avoid using the term ‘pro-life’ to refer to campaigners against abortion, but encouraged the use of ‘pro-choice’ to refer to their opponents. Pro-life campaigners called it ‘an utterly shameless example of institutional bias against the right-to-life movement, and for the abortion lobby.’”
ISIS Fighters in Europe
CNN wrote on February 8:
“Intelligence obtained by Western security agencies before the November 13 Paris attacks indicated as many as 60 ISIS fighters had been deployed by the group to Europe to carry out attacks on five cities and had already reached European soil…
“In the months since the Paris attack there have been several terrorism alerts in Europe based on intelligence chatter, in cities including Brussels, Belgium; Hanover, Germany; Geneva, Switzerland; Vienna, Austria; and Munich, Germany.
“Last week, a U.S official told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the terrorist threat to Europe is as high as it’s ever been, with about 1,900 extremists who went from Europe to Iraq and Syria to fight jihad now back on European soil. A U.S. intelligence official told CNN that France and Belgium were the countries considered to be at highest risk of terrorist attack, while Germany and the UK also face a heightened terror threat…”
“North Korea Fires Long-Range Missile Designed to Hit US”
Bloomberg wrote on February 7:
“North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday carrying what it called a satellite, but its neighbours and the United States denounced the launch as a missile test, conducted in defiance of U.N. sanctions and just weeks after a nuclear bomb test… The launch prompted South Korea and the United States to announce that they would explore the feasibility of deploying an advanced missile defence system in South Korea, which China and Russia both oppose, ‘at the earliest possible date.’..
“South Korea’s military said it would make annual military exercises with U.S. forces ‘the most cutting-edge and the biggest’ this year. North Korea objects to the drills as a prelude to war by a United States it says is bent on toppling the Pyongyang regime. The United States has about 28,500 troops in South Korea…”
“Ambitious” Agreement for Syria
Deutsche Welle reported on February 11:
“In an agreement that Kerry described as ‘ambitious,’ the United States and Russia alongside more than a dozen other world powers agreed to a ‘cessation of hostilities’ within a week and the acceleration and expansion of humanitarian aid to areas besieged by both regime and rebel forces…
“Despite an apparent agreement between Russia and the United States, questions remain over implementation and timing of Friday’s deal…
“[Russia’s] Lavrov said… a broad spectrum of Syrian opposition should attend talks… Russia and Syria have also had issue with the presence of some Saudi Arabia and Turkey backed rebel groups, which they describe as terrorists…
“Lavrov said Russia’s air campaign in support of [the] regime would continue against terrorist groups.
“Present at the Munich talks, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said the true test of the deal to end violence in Syria would come over the next few days…”
Franklin Graham Blasts Gender Identity Protection
Newsmax wrote on February 6:
“Evangelical preacher Franklin Graham is blasting a proposed Charlotte, N.C., non-discrimination law that’ll include ‘gender identity’ protection, charging the statute is ‘dangerous’ and that similar laws are being turned against Christians… the son of famed preacher Billy Graham rips the revival a defeated non-discrimination ordinance to allow transgender men and women to use the restroom of their choice in Charlotte…
“‘Each section of the proposed ordinance has wording to include “gender identity” … what an individual “feels” their gender is regardless of the biological reality… Where sexual orientation and gender identity laws such as this have passed in other places, florists, bakers, photographers, adoption agencies, and t-shirt printers have been punished by the government for not wanting to use their artistic talents to celebrate and participate in same-sex weddings, not wanting to promote the LGBT messaging in Gay Pride events, or for not wanting to place an adoptive child with two men.’”
The Crazy Fairy Tales of Paid Scientists
Huffington Post wrote on February 3:
“The giant impact hypothesis — the popular belief that a ‘planetary embryo’ called Theia collided with Earth some 4.5 billion years ago, leading to the formation of our planet’s moon — has been around for a while. But a NASA-funded research team has added an amazing new twist to the idea; that Earth wasn’t just sideswiped by Theia, as many have conjectured, but sustained a direct hit and actually absorbed a large portion of the rogue planet.
“In other words, Earth is made up of two fused planets — Earth and Theia — the study suggests. ‘Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the moon, and evenly dispersed between them,’ lead author Edward Young, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement…
“For their study, the UCLA-led team compared the chemical signatures of moon rocks with volcanic rocks from Hawaii and Arizona. If Earth and Theia had collided in a glancing side blow, as the giant impact hypothesis suggests, the moon would be mostly made up of Theia, and the Earth and moon would have different chemical structures, UCLA said in its statement. But that’s not what the researchers found. ‘We don’t see any difference between the Earth’s and the moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable,’ Young said. That suggests the two collided head-on, with Theia becoming large parts Earth and moon, researchers said.
“And just like that, Mother Earth became Mothers Earth.”
What this new study “suggests” is that the giant impact hypothesis is a foolish fairy tale. God CREATED the heavens and the earth. The concept that a planetary embryo called Theia collided with earth and that somehow this created the moon is utter and complete nonsense.
More Scientific Abominable Craziness – Single Embryo from Three Different People
NBC News reported on February 4:
“Experiments using sperm and egg cells from three different people to make a single embryo are all right — if they are carefully monitored and regulated, expert advisers said Wednesday. Such ‘three-parent’ babies could be a way for people with a high risk of rare, devastating genetic diseases to have healthy children that are genetically their own, the National Academy of Medicine panel said… And at first, the panel advised, only male embryos should be made this way until it’s clear that dangerous mutations would not be passed down to future generations…
“But there are tricky scientific and ethical questions. Such babies could have what are known as germline changes, which can be passed down from generation to generation, making a lab mistake potentially the problem of people born decades later. Then there’s the issue of ‘playing God’, the panel noted. ‘These concerns warrant significant caution and the imposition of restrictions rather than a blanket prohibition on the use of MRT [mitochondrial replacement techniques],’ they concluded…
“The conditions include tests to establish safety, first using animals and then embryos that could never grow into babies, and that the disease being prevented is severe and that only male embryos are used… Britain approved the technique last year…
“[The panel wrote:] ‘While the creation of human embryos for research is not prohibited under federal law in the United States (although some states are more restrictive), neither FDA nor any other agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can financially support such research where embryos are destroyed, discarded, or subjected to risks with no prospect of medical benefit for the embryo.’”
All of this sounds like a bad story from a science fiction book. But the creation and destruction of embryos for scientific purposes and the “greater good” is very real.
Hawaii Kills Mandatory Vaccination Bill
Daily Mail wrote on February 5:
“After listening to Hawaii residents speak out against vaccines and saying they cause everything from autism to the Zika virus, Hawaii lawmakers killed a bill to speed up the state’s process for adopting federal vaccination guidelines. The bill would have allowed the state Health Department to more easily adopt the federal rules, which some opponents of the measure fear would result in more vaccinations…
“Supporters of the bill say it would have helped the Hawaii Department of Health address public health crises quickly. They said given the potential for diseases to spread rapidly, it’s important to be able to adopt vaccination rules swiftly. Opponents of the bill spoke out against mandatory vaccinations, saying their side effects are harmful and the people should have the right to make their own health decisions…
“Vaccinations are a hot-button issue across the nation. For decades, critics have said vaccines can cause debilitating side effects — most notably autism… Almost all states grant religious exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against vaccinations, while 20 states allow exemptions for personal or moral beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.”
Sadly, left-liberal California does not even grant religious exemptions. California, under controversial governor Brown, should learn from Hawaii and revoke and repeal its foolish mandatory vaccination law.
An Interesting Tour Through the Kidron Valley
Times of Israel wrote on February 6:
“In 1952, a unique 2,000-year-old copper scroll was discovered deep inside a cave near the Dead Sea. When British scholar John Marco Allegro translated the scroll a few years later, he was astonished to learn that over 100 tons of gold and silver treasures from the Second Temple had been hidden in dozens of different locations. One such location, he believed, was the area surrounding the alleged Tomb of the prophet Zechariah in the Kidron Valley beneath Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
“A few years later, Allegro led an expedition to the Kidron Valley – at the time under Jordanian control – in an attempt to recover hidden treasure. Financing the expedition was no problem, for it was to take place under the auspices of Britain’s Daily Mail tabloid newspaper and Jordan provided workers and transportation. There was just one hitch: dozens of Jews were buried around the tomb. The problem was solved when the Kingdom of Jordan granted Allegro permission to clear away the grave… he didn’t uncover even a single treasure…
“The Bible tells us that during his lifetime Absalom, King David’s third son, ‘had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself… He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.’ [2 Samuel 18:18]. Despite that fact that the shrine dates back to the end of the Second Temple period — nearly a millennia after Absalom rebelled against his father and was run through with a javelin by the King’s captain – tradition places that monument here, identifying the Kidron Valley with the King’s Valley.
“In earlier centuries, passersby of all religions would throw stones at Absalom’s mammoth structure. Indeed Muslims, who revere King David, almost covered it with rocks. It is said that Jewish parents would bring disobedient offspring to the almost hidden monument, point out the stones, and warn them that ‘this is what happens to children who behave badly to their fathers.’
“Iron bars block the entrance to a structure on one side of Absalom’s Tomb. Uncovered in 1924, and thought by some to be the tomb of 9th-century B.C.E. King Jehoshaphat, it contains several chambers and a splendidly ornamental lintel. The prophet Zechariah’s Tomb on the other side of Absalom’s Tomb is the only pyramid-topped structure in the valley… Over 10 meters high, it dates, like Absalom’s Pillar, to the Second Temple period… Jews so revered Zechariah that over the centuries they asked to be buried as close as possible to his grave. At one time the Jews of Jerusalem offered eulogies here and would come to Zechariah’s Tomb to mourn the destruction of the Temple on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.
“One year Jerusalem suffered from a terrible drought. Legend has it that the city’s Arabs prayed to Allah, but rain didn’t fall. They then sent a delegation to Jerusalem’s Jewish inhabitants, warning them that if they couldn’t make it rain, they would be in deep, deep trouble. According to this oft-repeated story, the Jews immediately declared a fast and on its third day made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Zechariah. Throwing themselves upon the ground next to the tomb they prayed, then walked around it seven times while singing psalms. By evening the sky was black. Heavy rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning, fell on the Holy City. The Jews were saved, the city’s cisterns filled with water, and the sanctity of Zechariah’s Tomb was reaffirmed…
“Only a few meters from Zechariah’s Tomb, a gate leads into a large burial complex featuring several interior chambers. A barely legible ancient Hebrew inscription, found on the exterior of the complex, relates that the six sons of the priestly Hezir family are buried within… one of the Dead Sea Scrolls mentions that the Hezirs operated the Temple on Yom Kippur.”
The Kidron Valley is highly significant in biblical prophecy. In the future, “kings of the east” and other powers of this earth will assemble at a place called Armageddon or “hill of Megiddo,” which is about 55 miles north of Jerusalem. From there, they will move towards Jerusalem, where they, together with European powers under a charismatic military leader (“the beast”), will try to fight the returning Jesus Christ. That “battle” will take place in the Kidron Valley.
Zechariah 14:3–5 indicates that, apparently due to the great earthquake of the seventh bowl, mentioned in Revelation 16:17–18, the Mount of Olives shall split in two, making a very large valley, where the final battle of God Almighty will take place.
Revelation 14:19-20 informs us in regard to that “battle” in the valley of Jehoshaphat or the Kidron Valley, that the “great winepress of the wrath of God… was trampled outside the city [of Jerusalem], and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs [lit. stadia, about 184 miles in all].”
“Not Under Law, But Under Grace?” (Part 1)
We read the following in Romans 6:14-15:
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
What does it mean to be under grace and not under law? And how does this explain why sin does not rule over us anymore?
There is much confusion in traditional Christianity regarding this passage (“not under law, but under grace”). It is one of the most misunderstood statements in orthodox Christianity. The common explanation is that the law has been abolished, and that we are now under God’s grace and freed from any obligation to keep the law.
Notice the following examples from Bible commentaries.
The Pulpit Commentary states: “… grace condones sin… the principle of law is to exact complete obedience to its behests; but the principle of grace is to accept faith in lieu of complete obedience…”
The idea is expressed here that grace has replaced the law or obedience to it.
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary writes: “To be ‘under the law’ is, first, to be under its claim to entire obedience; and so, next under its curse for the breach of these. And as all power to obey can reach the sinner only through Grace, of which the law knows nothing, it follows that to be ‘under the law’ is, finally, to be shut up under an inability to keep it, and consequently to be the helpless slave of sin… The curse of the law has been completely lifted from off them… when they were ‘under the law,’ Sin could not but have dominion over them…”
Even though a few remarks in the quote are at least partially correct, it must be recognized that the authors probably did not understand their own words. That is, we cannot assume from the foregoing that the commentary grasped the correct meaning of the term, “the curse of the law” or what it actually means to be “under the law,” as it equates the law with being a slave of sin. The overall tenor is again that grace has replaced the law.
The Geneva Study Bible writes that “the law is… the power and instrument of sin.” It does not explain what this is supposed to mean, but the impression is that the law causes us to sin. This would be totally wrong.
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible state: “We who are Christians are not subject to that law where sin is excited, and where it rages unsubdued.”
This is equally difficult to understand. However, the commentary continues to ask the following pertinent question:
“What is meant by this declaration? Does it mean that Christians are absolved from all the obligations of the law?… The apostle does not affirm that Christians are not bound to obey the moral law. The whole scope of his reasoning shows that he maintains that they are. The whole structure of Christianity supposes the same thing; compare Matthew 5:17-19.”
So far so good. But then, the commentary goes on to mix elements of truth with elements of error, saying:
“… the apostle means to say that Christians are not under the law as legalists, or as attempting to be justified by it. They seek a different plan of justification altogether: and they do not attempt to be justified by their own obedience.”
It is true that we cannot be justified by the law. But in failing to understand what is meant with being “under the law” and seemingly equating this with being “legalists,” the commentary’s reasoning is faulty.
Let us begin to give the answer as to what Paul meant, by explaining the statement that true Christians are no longer “under law.”
Even though it is true that at times, Paul means with the word “law” the temporary ritual law which is no longer in force and effect for us today (compare, for example, Romans 5:13-14; Galatians 3:17, 19, 24-25), the context of Romans 6:14-15 addresses, at least in part, the spiritual law (some call it “moral law”) of the Ten Commandments.
Paul is telling us in Romans 2:13 that the doers of the law, and not the hearers, will be justified. (James 1:25 says the same thing, and James 2:8-12 shows that the law is a reference to the Ten Commandments, and that we are guilty of the transgression of the entire law if we break just one of the Ten Commandments. Compare also James 4:11-12).
In Romans 2:22-23, Paul reconfirms that he is speaking of the Ten Commandments (referring to idolatry and adultery as examples), when he says that we dishonor God when we break the law.
Romans 3:31 does away with the wrong concept that because of faith, we are no longer bound to keep the law. Rather, Paul says here that we do not make void the law of God through faith, but quite to the contrary, we are establishing the law (of the Ten Commandments).
To leave no doubt as to how Paul felt about the law of God, he tells us in Romans 7:12 that the law is holy, and that the commandment (that is, any one of the Ten Commandments) is holy and just and good.
He also adds in Romans 7:14 that the law of God is spiritual, and he states in Romans 8:7, 9, that the carnal mind does not and cannot obey the law of God in its final spiritual application, and that one must have God’s Spirit dwelling in them to be able to obey the law of God.
In Romans 13:8-10, Paul emphasizes that God’s law is a law of love, and that we fulfill the law (at least the portion of the law which deals with our relationship with our fellow man) when we love our neighbor. He stresses the same in Galatians 5:14, stating that all the law (dealing with our fellow man) is fulfilled by us when we love our fellow man; and he says in Galatians 6:2 that we fulfill the law of Christ when we love our neighbor by bearing his burden.
However, many have a wrong concept of love, thinking that we can love someone while breaking God’s law. This is totally false. When we break God’s law, we do NOT love our fellow man. God’s law DEFINES for us what true love is. We read in 1 John 5:3 that “this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” When we commit adultery with our neighbor’s wife, we do not love our neighbor or his wife. When we kill or lie to or steal from our neighbor, we do NOT love our neighbor.
The same is expressed in 1Timothy 1:9-10 where we read that the law is not made for the righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, and then Paul lists numerous examples of sinful conduct. This statement must not be twisted to say that the righteous is under no obligation to keep the law. Rather, as long as he lives righteously, he obeys it and the law is not convicting him as a transgressor; but once he begins to disobey it, he lives no longer in righteousness and has become a transgressor of the law.
In what way then are we no longer “under law”?
In our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…”, we explain this phrase as follows, on page 18:
“… Others quote Romans 6:14, stating that we are no longer ‘under law but under grace,’ saying this means we don’t have to obey the law anymore. However, the correct meaning of this passage is that when we violate the law, we are no longer under the curse of the law—the death penalty—as the blood of Christ, given to us by grace, has covered and forgiven our sins—has paid the death penalty that we earned. Paul explains in the very next verse (verse 15), that this does not mean that we can now continue to sin—that is, to break God’s law. Rather, we are now to be ‘slaves of righteousness’ (verse 18), in keeping God’s law.”
Some may question this statement, asking for further proof that this conclusion is correct. Let us therefore review additional passages where the term “under law” is mentioned, and let us see in what way this phrase is used. We need to note that in Romans 6:14-15, the Greek word for “under” is “hupo.” We will limit our discussion to the use of that Greek word.
In Galatians 4:4-5, we read:
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born UNDER (Greek: “hupo”) THE LAW, to redeem those who were UNDER (Greek: “hupo”) THE LAW, that we might receive the adoption as son (better: “sonship”).”
In our free booklet, “Paul’s Letter to the Galatians—How to Understand It,” we explain this passage as follows:
“Christ had to be made UNDER the law—subject to its penalty—as Christ never sinned. He never was under the law—its penalty—due to His conduct; rather, He had to be placed or made under the law, so that He could pay the penalty of sin for us. We came under the law—its penalty—through our conduct, so Christ had to be MADE UNDER the law, in order to redeem us who were under the law—its penalty.
“And why? To give us SONSHIP! The Authorized Version translates verse 5, erroneously, as ‘adoption’ (compare, too, Romans 8:15), but the correct rendering is ‘sonship.’ God is not only ‘adopting’ us ‘as sons,’ by granting us certain privileges and possessions, but He is reproducing Himself—His very divine nature (2 Peter 1:4)—in us. When we receive His Holy Spirit, we are BEGOTTEN sons and daughters of God, and when we are changed into spirit at the time of Christ’s return, we are then BORN AGAIN children of God—not just adopted children, but children with the very same NATURE and MIND of God (Philippians 2:5).”
Another passage, where the term “under the law” is used, is in Galatians 4:21. It reads: “Tell me, you who desire to be under (Greek: “hupo”) the law, do you not hear the law?”
In the above-mentioned booklet on Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we state:
“Paul is not saying here that they desired to be under the law in the sense that they wanted to be under the penalty of the law. They did not desire to die because of their sins. But they seemed to desire to live their old way of life again (which brings forth death)—or they desired to follow wrong teachers believing that they must be circumcised in order to be saved.
“But as we saw, circumcision does not justify us—nor do even the Ten Commandments. In violating just one of the Ten Commandments, we have sinned and incurred the death penalty. What saves us is Christ’s sacrifice, by which God forgives us our sins and removes the penalty—but we can’t keep on sinning so that grace may abound.
“To put it differently, if we desire to break God’s law of the Ten Commandments, we are again under the law; that is, under or subject to its penalty. Also, if we desire to obtain justification apart from Christ, we are still under or subject to the penalty of the law, as we can only become justified through Christ.
“Furthermore, Paul is using the word ‘law’ in different ways in verse 21. To be ‘under the law’ means, under its penalty; when he then says, ‘hear the law,’ he means the five books of Moses.”
A third passage can be found in Galatians 5:18. It reads: “But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under (Greek: “hupo”) the law.”
Our above-mentioned booklet on Paul’s letter to the Galatians explains this passage in this way:
“We can choose to walk in the Spirit (verse 16), which will motivate and empower us to KEEP the law of love, and when we do, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh which will induce us to sin and to break the law (compare 1 John 3:4: ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’). But if we chose, instead, to walk in the flesh, we don’t show love, but selfishness, and we will engage in biting and devouring one another (verse 15)…
“To walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh is a constant struggle, as Paul explains in verse 17. There is a battle going on in our minds between God’s Spirit and our fleshly desires… When we are led by God’s Spirit and do the things which are pleasing in God’s sight, we are no longer ‘under the law’ (verse 18). When we walk after the Spirit and are led by it, we will keep the law. And since and as long as we don’t break it, we are not under the penalty of the law.”
When we are under the law, we are under its penalty for having violated it. The law has dominion over us in that it can demand our life. The penalty of the law is also described as the “curse of the law.” We are under that curse when we sin, and nothing that WE might do subsequently can abolish that curse.
Galatians 3:10, 13 tells us: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under (Greek: “hupo”) the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’… Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)…”
Our afore-mentioned booklet on Paul’s letter to the Galatians states the following:
“Paul conveys the thought that nobody kept all the physical works of the law, including all of its rituals, washings or sacrifices. In addition, nobody even kept all of God’s spiritual commandments of the Ten Commandments and its judgments and statutes. Therefore, everybody is under the curse or penalty of the law, which is the second death for spiritual sin or which might be physical death or other physical penalties for civil or criminal infractions…
“The curse of the law is the penalty for breaking or violating the law. Christ redeemed us from the curse or penalty of the law—not the law—as He became a curse for us, in that He took our sins upon Himself and paid the penalty for our sins on our behalf. He thereby redeemed us or set us free from the penalty of death, which we brought upon ourselves by sinning—breaking the law.”
In the same way, we are “under” sin (“hupo” in Greek), as Romans 3:9 says (“we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.”). When we sin, then we are under the power or influence of sin. Sin has us in its clutches. Rather than ruling over it (Genesis 4:7), it rules over us. And as carnal human beings, we cannot keep the law of God (Romans 8:7). But even after conversion, a fight of good vs. evil is going on in our minds and in our lives. Paul was still compelled to say, years after his conversion, that he was “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14; Greek: “hupo”) and did “evil” (Romans 7:19), obeying the “sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:17, 20), and being held in “captivity” to sin (Romans 7:23).
When we sin by transgressing the law (compare Romans 4:15), then we are under sin, under the law, under the curse of the law, under its penalty. Sin has power over us so long as that penalty is not removed, because the penalty of sin—the wages of sin—is death (Romans 6:23). So, death needs to be removed.
In the next installment, we will discuss how death is removed; what it means to be “under grace”; and how this may destroy sin’s dominion over us.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Our new booklet, “Punishment for Our Sins,” has reached the second 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.
“Will Wars Ever End?” (Special Edition), is a new StandingWatch program in which Evangelist Norbert Link addresses the promise by God to end all war—a time when Jesus Christ will rule in righteousness and peace! Here is a summary:
How will the world look like after Jesus Christ has returned and begun His rule over the earth? Can we imagine what kind of conditions we will see? Will man still be allowed to fight in war?
“Trump Shocks Europe,” is the title of the newest StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Donald Trump won big in New Hampshire, and Europe is waking up to the distinct possibility that he might become the next US President. The reaction is one of concern and fear. In this program, we point out what a Trump Presidency might mean for Europe, and why Europe will become stronger economically and militarily. We also show some stunning parallels between Trump’s statements and the situation in Germany following World War I, and we conclude with a discussion on the coming biblical “beast.”
“Wir sind nicht mehr unter dem Gesetz!” is this week’s new German sermon. Title in English: “We Are No Longer Under the Law.”
“Fear and Faith,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Fear is a common response to life’s circumstances. It is an emotion that often motivates people to take action. When fear motivates action that leads away from God, faith must replace that fear. By having faith and fearing God we please Him, making worldly fear powerless against us.
“Freedom by Justification,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Mankind has sought after freedom in countless ways but most have fallen short of reaching that goal. Freedom is within the grasp of mankind but only when God is leading our pursuit.
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