|Live Services||Your Report Card; Is Feeling Believing?|
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|Q&A||How can there be a “great falling away” in the Church of God prior to Christ’s return?|
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Your Report Card; Is Feeling Believing?
On May 26, 2018, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Your Report Card,” and Robb Harris will present the sermon, titled, “Is Feeling Believing?”
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 Dave Harris
It is a kind of ritual for people to watch the news each day. That, however, has become an almost unbearable challenge! World news, national news and even local news stories are so filled with atrocities that we often just tune out—it is simply too depressing!
The Bible speaks of these perplexing times—as a warning! Note this prophecy in Isaiah:
“‘…When the overflowing scourge passes through, Then you will be trampled down by it. As often as it goes out it will take you; For morning by morning it will pass over, And by day and by night; It will be a terror just to understand the report’” (Isaiah 28:18-19).
In another prophecy, also directed at the modern descendants of the Houses of Israel and Judah, God reveals the conditions that would and now have come upon us:
“‘“Destruction comes; They will seek peace, but there shall be none. Disaster will come upon disaster, And rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; But the law will perish from the priest, And counsel from the elders”’” (Ezekiel 7:25-26).
We must not turn a blind eye to what is happening! In fact, it falls to the Church of God to address the bad news in the light of Bible prophecy. Jesus explicitly told us to “watch” and to be “ready” (compare Matthew 24:42, 44; 25:10, 13; Luke 21:36). In doing this—beyond our own personal preparedness—we are to also report news to the world that isn’t utterly dreadful and so filled with hopelessness!
The news we are to convey is ultimately GOOD NEWS—it is the gospel of the Kingdom of God! This is what Jesus proclaimed. It is the only true hope set before mankind, and it will happen! To be able to know the Truth of how God the Father will establish peace through sending His Son to this world removes the focus for all the bad news we now face.
As bad as things are now in the news, worse times lie immediately ahead—something we already know, because God has revealed this to us. And we, like Jesus did, must continue to look beyond, to that joy which is set before us—in the Kingdom of God (compare Hebrews 12:2).
by Norbert Link
We begin with reports on the fragile relationship between Germany and Russia, as well as China; President Trump’s announcement to cancel the planned summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un; and the perceived need by Europeans to unite quickly. We speak on political developments in Italy; the outright admission by Hamas that it is their goal to provoke Israel; and we address end-time fatigue in regard to developments in Israel; articles pertaining to Israel’s temples; and the ongoing insane school shootings in the USA.
We continue with mind-boggling articles about Germany’s laws on compulsory school attendance and an incomprehensible church tax law and their ridiculous consequences; the sexual abuse scandals of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in The Netherlands and of the Catholic Church in Chile; and Pope Francis’ most recent controversial comments about homosexuality. Please view our new StandingWatch program in this regard, titled, “Pope Francis: ‘God Made People Gay!’”
We speak on Ramadan in Germany and the continuing volcanic eruptions in Hawaii; and we address the “very modern royal wedding” between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and its “groundbreaking multi-cultural ceremony.”
We also report on Zimbabwe’s attempt to re-join the British Commonwealth.
We conclude with further stupidity of the “gender neutrality” movement.
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
Merkel and Putin Meet
Deutsche Welle reported on May 18:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the Iran nuclear deal was better than none at all in a press conference with Vladimir Putin on Friday…
“Both leaders said the Minsk accord was the ‘only basis’ to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine, and that work should continue in the so-called ‘Normandy’ format — involving Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine. Merkel noted a ‘major breach’ in the ceasefire in the region overnight…
“Merkel stressed Ukraine should remain a gas transit country even after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline opens, said Germany was ‘ready to play its role.’ Putin said that Russian gas may still flow to Ukraine…
“Putin found warm words on Donald Trump, saying ‘I understand the US president, he protects his business interests. He wants to push his product to the European market.’ According to Putin, ‘Donald is not just the US president; he is also a strong, good entrepreneur’…
“Germany and Russia’s agreement on the importance of the Iran nuclear deal is a rare moment of concurrence between the two countries. Relations have been marred by differences over Moscow’s support for Syria’s President Bashar Assad, its annexation of Crimea and its role in the subsequent conflict in eastern Ukraine, among other things.”
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 17:
“… anyone who is pinning their hopes on relations with Russia… by making unilateral concessions on economic sanctions or other shifty compromises is gravely mistaken… such an appeasement policy would only be interpreted as weakness by Moscow… there are many who still don’t seem to have understood that Putin needs the confrontation with the West in order to secure his power within Russia because it distracts the Russian people from the economic stagnation and social problems in the country.
“It is simply naive to believe that any agreement can be reached with Putin on Ukraine. Or that it will be possible to negotiate a new European framework for peace with him. He has already undermined such a framework with his aggressive foreign policy towards Ukraine, through attempts to influence Western elections, and through cyberattacks against German institutions.
“At such times, it is doubtful whether Putin’s Russia, but not necessarily Russia in general, is the right partner for any further expansion of German-Russian energy relations… As long as the Kremlin adheres to its aggressive Ukrainian policy — and it will, because it is Putin’s way of consolidating domestic power – the sanctions must remain in place… we need to significantly increase our German, and also European, defense capabilities, both in traditional terms and against the new dangers of a hybrid cyber war…”
The Bible shows that in the future, Russia and Ukraine will be united against Europe.
Trump Cancels Singapore Summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un
CNBC wrote on May 24:
“President Donald Trump has canceled his historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month. The meeting, which would have marked the first face-to-face encounter between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, was set for June 12…
“The news came as North Korea made a show of dismantling a nuclear test site, but also on the heels of some sharp words from the North Korean government about America denuclearization demands. Trump’s decision also comes more than two weeks after he withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on the Middle Eastern country as long as it limited its nuclear program.
“Doubts had grown in recent days about whether Trump’s summit with Kim would actually happen. North Korea abruptly canceled talks with South Korea out of anger over joint military tests with the U.S. in the Korean peninsula… Earlier Thursday, a top North Korean official, Choe Son Hui, called Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks likening Pyongyang with Libya ‘ignorant’ and ‘stupid.’ Pence had said North Korea could end up like Libya if it doesn’t make a nuclear deal with Washington… The vice president’s comments also echoed those of Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, who had suggested the U.S. could pursue a Libya-style denuclearization plan with North Korea. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was eventually violently overthrown, a move the U.S. supported. North Korea’s Kim is concerned about regime change…
“There were no immediate details about how the administration would continue to pursue diplomacy with North Korea, which is the only nation to conduct nuclear-weapons tests this century. Yet Trump left the door open for arranging a new meeting with Kim…
“Read the full text of the letter here [from Donald Trump to Kim Jong Un, dated May 24]:
“… We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.
“I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.
“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history…”
The Associated Press wrote on May 24:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch Kim ally, said the North Korean leader had in fact done ‘everything that he had promised in advance, even blowing up the tunnels and shafts’ of his country’s nuclear testing site. Putin said of Trump’s announcement, ‘In Russia we took this news with regret.’…
“Trump’s announcement appeared to surprise South Korea, which had pushed to keep the summit on track as recently as Tuesday, when President Moon Jae-in met with Trump in the Oval Office and said the ‘fate and the future’ of the Korean Peninsula hinged on the talks…
“Trump, who considers himself a master dealmaker, has confounded aides and allies at every turn of the fateful flirtation with the North. He looked past the warnings of senior aides when he accepted Kim’s invitation to meet back in March. He unveiled the date and the time with characteristic showmanship. And after initially projecting calm in the face of North Korea’s escalating rhetoric, he made a sudden about face, though his letter also waxed poetic about the ‘wonderful dialogue’ emerging between the two leaders…
“The question now is how Trump’s maneuvering will be received. His letter could make the situation worse in a society where saving face can be pivotal. Kim might well take offense at the hardnosed U.S. approach after he released American detainees and destroyed a nuclear site…”
US-China Trade Agreements
CNN wrote on May 21:
“After weeks of tensions, China and the United States have reached a ceasefire. Both sides this weekend said they had agreed to not impose new tariffs on one another while talks continue, after reaching an initial agreement on trade. In a joint statement on Saturday, the countries said China would ‘significantly increase’ purchases of US goods and services to reduce their trade imbalance.”
Focus wrote on May 21 that the US-China trade agreements have a loser—Europe and especially Germany.
Deutsche Welle added on May 20:
“European officials are worried that a new trade deal between the US and China could come ‘at the expense of Europe.’… French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Sunday warned that Europe could be hurt if the US and China adopt a new trade deal. ‘The United States and China risk entering an agreement at the expense of Europe if Europe is not capable of showing a firm hand,’ Le Maire told French TV station CNEWS. ‘The United States wants to make Europe and European countries pay for China’s bad behavior. All of that is totally absurd and incomprehensible.’
“Over the past decade, China has been a major source of foreign direct investment in Europe, with Germany the largest recipient on the continent. Germany is also China’s largest trading partner in Europe.”
EU, China and Japan Warn the USA
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 24:
“The EU, China and Japan have decried the Trump administration’s idea to also heap US tariffs on imported vehicles – on top of steel and aluminum…
“The Wall Street Journal said vehicle import tariffs as high as 25 percent were being sought by US President Donald Trump…
“Citing national security was ‘far-fetched,’ said German DIHK chamber of commerce president, Eric Schweitzer and a European Commission spokesman in Brussels, Margaritis Schinas. ‘We should almost regard this as provocation,’ Schweitzer said, estimating it would cost an extra €6 billion ($7 billion) and impose ‘another nasty blow to our economic relations.’
“… Already, the EU is approaching a 1 June deadline on whether it will be exempted from US duties on steel and aluminum based similarly on protectionist rhetoric…
“Japan’s economy, industry and trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, said Tokyo would continue to remind US officials that any trade measures must conform to the WTO rules. Japan accounts for up to 40 percent of vehicles imported into the United States… Last week, Japan… warned at the WTO of possible retaliation…
“In Beijing, Chinese Commerce Minister spokesman Gao Feng warned the US that abusive imposition of national security provisions would ‘undermine the multilateral trade system and disrupt the order of international trade.’ China would ‘firmly defend our legitimate rights and interests,’ Gao told reporters…”
EU Foreign Policy Unification Is NOW!
Handelsblatt Global wrote on May 18:
“Iran, Gaza, Jerusalem: If ever the time was right for EU countries to unite in their foreign policy as in their trade policy, it is now… May 2018 could one day enter history books as the moment when the EU countries including Germany at last embarked on a common foreign policy. The catalyst, as long expected, will have been an external power. Not, however, a common foe, but an ostensible ally: America’s Donald Trump.
“… the US and Europe can no longer pretend to be aligned. The US has forfeited its role of honest broker [in the Middle East]… If there is today an honest broker, it may ironically be Germany…
“Angela Merkel and her EU peers have certainly grasped the urgency of the moment… For Germany to play a diplomatic role… it would need to boost military spending far beyond its paltry 1.2% of GDP…”
Kurz Would Receive More Votes in Germany than Merkel
The left-liberal Austrian paper Kurier wrote on May 18 that more Germans would vote for Austria’s Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, than for Angela Merkel.
Kurz would receive 38% of the German votes, while presently only 32.5% of Germans would vote for Merkel. The paper points out that it is noticeable that the support for Kurz is remarkably high in all political corners. 80% of voters from the right-wing and anti-Immigrant party AFD voters are clear supporters of Kurz, and one-third of Merkel’s party support Kurz as well. 20% of voters from the grand coalition party SPD and from the Left support Kurz, and even 13% of the Greens would vote for him if they had a chance.
Italy’s Incoming Eurosceptic Government
AFP wrote on May 21:
“Fears of a new European crisis grew on Tuesday over Italy’s incoming eurosceptic government… Governments and markets have suddenly become unsettled as the prospect of populists taking the helm of the EU’s fourth biggest economy suddenly becomes a reality after months of deadlock. A period when the rest of the world seemed to be in denial finally seemed to be over as Italy’s president was tasked on Tuesday on whether to approve little-known lawyer Giuseppe Conte as prime minister…
“Fear number one is that Italy, a founder member of both the EU and the euro, is set to irk financial markets and trigger a new eurozone crisis by refusing to stick to public spending and debt targets set by Brussels. The bloc’s enforcer for the euro, European Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, issued a tough public warning to the incoming Italian administration to pursue a ‘responsible’ budget policy…
“French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire meanwhile warned on Sunday that the ‘financial stability of the eurozone will be threatened’ if Italy ‘takes the risk of not respecting its commitments on debt and the deficit.’ The Frenchman also warned that Italy still had to clean up its debt-laden banks, whose health has long been a worry for the Eurozone…”
Deutsche Welle added on May 21:
“Both coalition parties want to put a stop to immigration from Africa to Italy, and aim to deport 500,000 migrants… Matteo Salvini, until now a member of the European Parliament for the far-right, nationalist League, has rejected criticism of the new alliance. ‘It’s about Italy first…’
“… However, Matteo Salvini made clear that the coalition parties do want to stay in the EU, in the euro monetary union and also in NATO. ‘We want to remain in the Atlantic alliance, but at the same time we also want to aim for better relations with Russia,’ Salvini said… Both populist coalition parties will campaign in Brussels for a lifting of the EU sanctions against Russia imposed in response to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and Russia’s activities in eastern Ukraine…”
Italy’s modern history of unpredictable and unstable governments is almost unique in the Western world. One never knows what will happen next there, but one thing is certain: Italy will NOT leave the EU or the Eurozone.
Hamas Leader Admits: “Peaceful Resistance Deceptive”
JTA wrote on May 18:
“A senior member of Hamas said that when his organization ‘talk[s] about “peaceful resistance,” we are deceiving the public.’ Mahmoud al-Zahar, who according to some is a co-founder of the Islamist group ruling Gaza, spoke May 13 about protests organized by Gaza on its border with Israel. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in demonstrations their leaders say is nonviolent; Israel points to evidence that demonstrators have been armed with Molotov cocktails and incendiary kites. ‘This is not peaceful resistance. Has the option [of armed struggle] diminished? No,’ Al-Zahar, former foreign minister in the Hamas government, said during an interview with Al-Jazeera. ‘On the contrary, it is growing and developing. That’s clear. So when we talk about “peaceful resistance,” we are deceiving the public.’
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said Al-Zahhar’s remarks vindicate Israel’s firing of live ammunition on some protesters amid an international outcry over Israel’s actions. ‘I agree. Shooting guns and lobbing explosives at Israelis isn’t peaceful at all,’ Netanyahu said in the English-language video message. He also quoted Hamas commander Yahya Sinwar who before Monday’s riots was filmed saying that during the clashes, ‘we will tear down their border and tear out their hearts.’ This, Netanyahu said, ‘is what we are defending our families against. And you would do exactly the same.’…
“The United Kingdom, France, Canada and other countries have accused Israel of using excessive force in Gaza on Monday, though the United States, Australia and several other countries have blamed Hamas for the bloodshed. Separately, the United Nations Human Rights Council accused Israel of keeping Gazans ‘caged in a toxic slum’ during a special session in Geneva on the Gaza border clashes.”
How people can be easily deceived as to the Truth.
Development in Israel Sign for the End Time?
The Guardian wrote on May 19:
“For many on the Christian right, the state of Israel has been seen as a key to fulfilling prophesy… At the opening ceremony, two of the American speakers were evangelical superstars: Pastor Robert Jeffress, the author of several doomsday books about Israel, and John Hagee, who interpreted recent lunar eclipses as evidence that the end times were nigh. The Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro, meanwhile, declared that Trump had ‘fulfilled biblical prophecy’…
“This ‘post-evangelical’ generation was raised on a steady diet of low-budget movies and pulp novels that injected a potent fear of the coming Rapture, a dynamic most eloquently described by the late Billy Graham. ‘I pick up the Bible in one hand,’ he said, ‘and I pick up the newspaper in the other. And I read almost the same words in the newspaper as I read in the Bible. It’s being fulfilled every day round about us.’…
“It’s not only post-evangelicals who are dubious about the end times scenario…”
This development of abandoning the belief in the CORRECT “end-time” scenario (there will be no rapture, and the interpretations of lunar eclipses are far-fetched) is exactly what the Bible forewarns against, because it is when people are blinding themselves regarding the true signs of the time and declare peace that sudden destruction will come upon them.
A Photo with the Third Temple… Just a Joke?
Zero Hedge wrote on May 22:
“As if US-Palestinian relations weren’t already at the lowest point in perhaps all of history, they just sank even lower after a controversial photo… surfaced of the American Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, receiving a large aerial photograph of Jerusalem… As Ambassador Friedman attended an event sponsored by an Israeli charity, one of the staff members presented him with the framed photograph which featured a photo-shopped imagined Jewish Temple in the place where Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock currently stand. The Israeli Haaretz newspaper describes the image as ‘bearing a simulation of the Third Temple’ placed in the photograph at the heart of Jerusalem’s walled old city, with the ‘Third Temple’ featured front and center…
“Though the US Embassy is reportedly outraged at the incident which it says the ambassador did not endorse and was not immediately aware of, it’s seems hard to miss the huge stone temple prominently at the forefront of the image… The official statement concluded with the following: ‘The U.S. policy is absolutely clear: ‘we support the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.’…
“For its part the Israeli charity responsible for the controversial photograph has issued an apology to Friedman and the embassy… Friedman, however, has been known for engaging in provocations aimed at showing his personal devotion to the Jewish state and preferred changes in US policy toward the conflict; for example, he’s long attempted to pressure the State Department to use terminology more friendly to the idea that the West Bank belongs to Israel…”
Ancient Jewish Coins Found on the Temple Mount
Breaking Israel News wrote on May 22:
“Five exceptionally rare ancient coins from among the very first ever minted by Jews were discovered on the Temple Mount, evidence of Jewish activity at the disputed site.
“The small coins – three in pristine condition and two showing signs of wear – were discovered as part of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, an archaeological initiative started in order to sift thousands of tons of dirt illegally excavated and dumped in the Kidron Valley by the Islamic Waqf in 1999. The Waqf excavations compromised the archaeological integrity of the Temple Mount and sparked outrage in Israel, leading many to suggest that the Waqf was intentionally attempting to eradicate evidence of two Jewish Temples which stood on the Mount for over 800 years…
“The newly-discovered coins bear the letters ‘YHD,’ or Yehud, the Aramaic name for the biblical kingdom of Judea, and are dated to the end of the 4th century BCE. According to one of the co-directors of the project, Zachi Dvira, only five other coins of this kind have been found in the 150 years of archaeological digging in ancient Jerusalem sites. Dvira noted that Jewish pilgrims would bring offerings of first fruits of the season to the Temple around the time of the Shavuot holiday, and would often convert their value to silver in the days of the Second Temple…
“‘These were the first coins ever minted by Jews,’ Dvira said in an interview with Israel’s Ynet news. ‘They express the people’s return to their land after the Babylonian exile, and their ability to hold and maintain diplomatic ties with the ruling empire—then Persia—similar to our relations with the United States today.’… In May 2017, UNESCO adopted a resolution denying Jewish connection to Jerusalem. In October 2016, the international body said the Jewish people have no ties to the Temple Mount.”
The Latest Insane Mass Murder in an American School
CBS wrote on May 19:
“10 people were killed and 10 others wounded in the shooting Friday morning at Santa Fe High School south of Houston. The suspected shooter [a 17-year old teenager] also had explosive devices, including a molotov cocktail, that were found in the school and nearby… Police found pressure cookers and pipe bombs around the school… Among the dead were a substitute teacher and several students…
“Students described [the suspected murderer] as quiet and ‘weird’ because a long trench coat was part of his wardrobe, even on days when the temperature neared 90 degrees… His motive is still unclear… the suspect had information in journals, on his computer and on cell phones that indicated he wanted to commit the shooting and take his own life afterward… the suspect ‘gave himself up’ and told authorities that he did not have the courage to take his own life… [He] posted the phrase ‘Dangerous Days’ on social media before the rampage along with a pentagram symbol.
“Two weapons were used in the attack… a shotgun and a .38 revolver, both of which were legally owned by the suspect’s father… A school resource officer was shot and injured in the shooting… [The suspected mass murderer] played on the junior varsity football team and was a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church. His social media pages showed multiple images of guns. He recently posted a photo wearing a t-shirt reading ‘Born to Kill’ and there were also photos of a long green jacket with Nazi regalia.
“… one major question investigators will look into is why [the suspected mass murderer] allegedly opened fire in the art room and whether the class was specifically targeted.
“… the suspect had no criminal history…”
When will America’s violent culture and its fascination with guns and easy access to them ever cease? The answer is clear: Only AFTER Christ has returned to change our minds and hearts and give us a new way of thinking so that we will get rid of all weapons, as so powerfully described by the prophets Isaiah and Micah.
School Shootings out of Control
Daily News wrote on May 18:
“More people have been murdered in schools so far this year than have been killed while serving in the U.S. military… 31 people — an overwhelming majority of whom were students — have been killed at schools since Jan. 1… Twenty-nine U.S. service members have been killed in the same timeframe, including both combat and noncombat deaths…
“Previous years, the numbers have typically been inverted, with service member casualties outnumbering student deaths by at least double… The number of individual school shootings is also much higher this year, with 16 deadly incidents across the country so far. Last year, there had been four fatal school shootings during the same period…”
Only in Germany: Parents Fined by Police for Not Sending their Children to School
Handelsblatt Global wrote on May 22:
“Police in southern Germany have filed 21 cases of truancy after spot checks at the Allgäu and Nuremberg airports on May 17 and 18. Officers caught families attempting to fly prior to the three-day Pentecost weekend without approval for their children to skip school…
“All German children are required by law to be in classes during regular school hours unless they have been previously excused by the school… German schools often refuse to excuse children prior to long weekends and holidays…
“But the compulsory education laws go further… home-schooling is also illegal in Germany. The Wunderlich family from the central state of Hesse is suing the German government at the European Court of Human Rights after they were prohibited from home-schooling their children. The Wunderlich children were taken from the family for three weeks in 2013 until the parents agreed to send their three children to local schools.
“However, while in the care of the state, officials tested the children. ‘To their certain annoyance, the test revealed the children to be performing at the same level as the average state school student,’ wrote Robert Clarke, the family’s lead attorney, in Christian Today earlier this month. The European court has agreed to hear the case and Mr. Clarke expanded on his position: ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights — often described as the constitution of the entire human rights framework — says that parents have a ‘prior right’ to direct the upbringing of their children.’”
Deutsche Welle added on May 21:
“School truancy is treated seriously in Germany and parents can be held liable if children do not attend school from age six to 16… The fine for truancy can be as high as €1,000 ($1,177)… ‘It’s true that we have to adhere to the rules, but getting the police involved is a bit of an exaggeration,’ said Stephan Wassmuth, head of Germany’s Federal Parents Council. The Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) agreed, saying that ‘it makes more sense to have a conversation with parents. Police involvement for individual cases is too strong a reaction.’”
Der Stern wrote:
“Don’t the police have anything better to do? … This police conduct is merely annoyance.”
Die Welt stated:
“… religious reasons can justify an ongoing excuse, which must be applied for ahead of time in a timely fashion.”
The Horror Story of Germany’s Intrusive Church Taxes
Handelsblatt Global wrote on May 18:
“Germany has a church tax — unimaginable in the US or France. Anyone who was ever baptized or christened and has not officially left the church is liable.
“Thomas Bores is not religious. He was christened in the Catholic church during his first year on earth, like the overwhelming majority of babies in France. When his parents asked him at age six whether he wanted to go to catechism, he said no, and that was the end of his religious life. Or so he thought. Decades later when Mr. Bores moved to Berlin, in 2013, he checked the box for ‘not religious’ on his registration form. Two years later, he noticed €550 was missing from his bank account. He asked the payroll department at the company he worked for and was told the tax office had identified him as Roman Catholic and had billed him for back church taxes…
“Members of a recognized confession [mainly the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant church—“Evangelische Kirche”] pay an additional 8 or 9 percent of their annual income tax to that church. And by ‘member’ the authorities mean anyone who has been christened or baptized. The money is automatically deducted just like payroll taxes or social insurance. People are thus on the hook to their church until they formally renounce their membership with an official declaration made in person at a district court that comes with a filing fee of about €30.
“When I arrived in Berlin last year from the United States, I checked the box for ‘konfessionslos’ (not religious) as I registered. That was the end of it, I thought. A few weeks later I received an official-looking letter from the ‘church-tax office’ (Kirchensteuerstelle). It said they needed clarification about my religious affiliation. The questionnaire, which included my tax number and was posted from the same address as my district tax office, asked for intrusive details about my life. Was I ever baptized or christened? If so, where and when? Had I ever been married in the church? If so, where and when? Was I a member of any free church? I was taken aback by the idea of having to share such personal information.
“After digging online, I discovered that this church-tax office is not an actual government agency, and the letter is a deceptive initiative to snare potential church taxpayers. Any person who acknowledges they were baptized or otherwise involved in a church who cannot show paperwork proving they officially left the church is considered to still be a member in Germany and thereby liable for church taxes and back taxes.
“Mr. Bores, the French citizen, determined, with the help of a lawyer, that the church-tax office in Berlin had written a misleading letter to his old diocese in France, which had replied with a copy of his christening certificate. And that was enough for the Catholic diocese of Berlin to claim him as a member.
“This surely must violate privacy laws, I thought, and I found a report on the topic from Berlin’s data-protection official. This 2016 review concluded that because the church-tax offices are not official government agencies, and their employees work for the church, they are not subject to government data-protection laws — even though they are housed in government buildings and receive data from a government agency…
“Many Germans are leaving the church just to opt out of the taxes, which rankles religious leaders. A single person earning €60,000 a year in Berlin would pay about €1,500 of that in church tax. But leaving the church means more than skipping Sunday services. In Germany and Switzerland, leaving the church is a formal affair, requiring an appointment at a local government agency, sometimes a district court…
“The problem also hits Germans. Many of those formerly from the communist East at one point found themselves paying church taxes because the documents related to their religious status did not survive the bureaucratic transfers after reunification…
“Mr. Frerk, the church-tax expert, got into trouble. He was never baptized, never had anything to do with the church, but suddenly received a pay stub that identified him as Protestant. How do you prove a negative? The tax office wanted him to collect letters from every town he’d ever lived in to prove his non-religious status. So he argued with officials for months before realizing what would solve the problem. He went before a judge to declare his exit. ‘What church are you leaving?’ The judge asked. ‘I don’t care, any of them,’ Mr. Frerk replied. With the official papers in hand, he went back to the tax office. Shortly thereafter he received a letter from the church-tax office, saying, ‘If you were able to leave the church, that must mean you were a member. We would like you to now pay us the back taxes.’
“Mr. Bores’ lawyer also advised that he pay the €30 to officially leave the Catholic Church in Germany even though he had never been a practicing Catholic in France. The exit took another three months to be processed. During that time he remained liable for church taxes. Mr. Bores is still fighting in court to get back his €550.”
This horrible and intrusive “church” tax law in Germany, and the appalling methods of the church-tax office, prove that there is NO real separation of church and state in Germany, and it shows the methods with which the churches are greedily trying to get money they are clearly not entitled to. The church tax law is based on a treaty between the state and the church (going back to the Weimar constitution) allowing the state to collect church tax for the church and then transfer the received church tax money to the church. The Roman Catholic church, in collaboration with the Protestant church (“Evangelische Kirche”) and the German state, have always had an incredibly all-powerful influence on the German people in other ways as well, either directly or indirectly. We should take note of the fact that for centuries the church (the woman in Revelation 17) has been riding the European states (the beast).
Sexual Abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Dutch News reported on May 22:
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses community in the Netherlands will not hold an independent inquiry into the sexual abuse of members, despite being urged to do so by justice minister Sander Dekker. By last month, 267 reports of sexual abuse involving Jehovah’s Witnesses had been made to a hotline set up by the Reclaimed Voices foundation in 2017 after Trouw published a report on the growing scandal.
“Dekker told RTL Nieuws on Tuesday that the organisation’s decision is ‘disappointing’ and that it is ignoring the victims who want to be heard. He has no powers to force the organisation to hold an inquiry… Dekker said last year that the church should look to the example of the Catholic church to dealing with complaints about sexual abuse. In total, 3,712 people have reported being victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic church to a special hotline set up in 2010. There are some 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands.”
All Chilean Bishops Offer Their Resignation to Pope Francis Because of Charges of Child Abuse
Zenit wrote on May 18:
“In an unprecedented move, the bishops of Chile have presented their resignation, this Friday, May 18, 2018, in the Holy See… The 34 Chilean bishops have been meeting with Pope Francis in Rome from May 15 to 17 to ‘examine in depth their causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led in some cases to their cover-up and serious omissions towards the victims’ , reported the Holy See in a statement, published on May 12…
“In the declaration, the Chilean prelates ask for forgiveness ‘for the pain caused to the victims, to the Pope, to the People of God and to the country for our grave errors and omissions’… Nevertheless, Bishop Juan Ignacio González, Bishop of San Bernardo, has specified that placing his pastoral offices at the Pope’s complete disposition ‘implies that as long as the Holy Father does not make a determination, each one of the bishops members of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, continues in its pastoral works and in full functions.’”
Pope: God Made People Gay
Catholic News Agency wrote on May 20:
“A victim of the Chilean clergy abuse crisis who met privately with Pope Francis told a Spanish news source that the Pope told him to accept himself and his same-sex attraction, because God made him that way.
“Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Chilean abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, met with Pope Francis privately in April after being invited to the Vatican along with other victims of abuse… ‘He told me “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,”’ Cruz recalled.
“The comment is controversial because it evokes a theological debate about the causes of homosexuality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church… states that ‘deep-seated’ homosexual inclination is ‘objectively disordered,’ and that homosexual acts are ‘acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law… Under no circumstances can they be approved.’”
The Guardian added on May 20:
“It is not the first time it has been suggested Francis has an open and tolerant attitude toward homosexuality, despite the Catholic church’s teaching that gay sex – and all sex outside of heterosexual marriage – is a sin… The new remarks appear to go much further in embracing homosexuality as a sexual orientation that is designed and bestowed by God. It suggests that Francis does not believe that individuals choose to be gay or lesbian, as some religious conservatives argue.
“Austen Ivereigh, who has written a biography of the pope, said Francis had likely made similar comments in private in the past, when he served as a spiritual director to gay people in Buenos Aires, but that Cruz’s public discussion of his conversation with Francis represented the most ‘forceful’ remarks on the subject since 2013…”
The Sun added on May 21:
“The Pope’s words signal a much more open and inclusive approach by the often restrictive faith – a move which will likely upset many conservative Catholics. The Vatican has neither confirmed nor denied the Pontiff’s comments to Cruz.”
Regardless of what the Pope says, the BIBLE calls homosexuality a sin. Homosexual conduct is due to choice.
“Ramadan an ‘Old German Custom’ Celebrated Longer than Oktoberfest”?
Breitbart wrote on May 18:
“German radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk Kultur has claimed that the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is not only an ‘old German custom’ but that it had been celebrated in the country longer than Oktoberfest. In an article, journalist Eren Güvercin claims that Ramadan is a thoroughly German holiday and that there is no question that Islam belongs to Germany.
“Güvercin maintains that the practice is older than the Oktoberfest, also known in Bavaria as Wiesn. While he provides no evidence for his assertion, the earliest Wiesn celebrations are thought to have been held on 12 October 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I, and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The oldest mosque in Germany, by contrast, was built in Berlin in 1915 and was discovered by an archaeological team in 2015. The mosque, which was made of wood, was thought to have been intended for Muslim prisoners of war as it was built inside a World War One-era prison camp.
“According to Güvercin, the Islamic holy month is as German as the great poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or noted author of the First World War novel All Quiet on the Western Front Rainer Maria Rilke… The article comes after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer stated that Islam did not belong to Germany and was later contradicted by his coalition partner, Chancellor Angela Merkel. A poll of the German public revealed that they sided with Seehofer with 75 per cent stating that Islam probably did not belong to Germany or absolutely did not belong to the country.”
Güvercin’s statements are ridiculous and can be clearly categorized as “fake news.”
“Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Erupts, Releasing 30,000ft Plume of Ash”
The Guardian wrote on May 17:
“Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted anew before dawn on Thursday, shooting a steely gray plume of ash about 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) into the sky that began raining down on a nearby town…
“Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. An eruption in 1924 killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days… The volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983. It is one of five volcanoes on Hawaii’s Big Island…”
The Associated Press wrote on May 21:
“White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago: A toxic steam cloud… Scientists said the steam clouds at the spots where lava entered the ocean were laced with hydrochloric acid and fine glass particles that can irritate skin and eyes and cause breathing problems…
“In recent days, the lava began to move more quickly and emerge from the ground in greater volume. Scientists said that’s because the lava that first erupted was magma left over from a 1955 eruption that had been stored in the ground for the past six decades. The molten rock that began emerging over the past few days was from magma that has recently moved down the volcano’s eastern flank from one or two craters that sit further upslope — the Puu Oo crater and the summit crater. The new lava is hotter, moves faster and has spread over a wider area… The volcano has opened more than 20 vents, including four that have merged into one large crack. It has been gushing lava high into the sky and sending a river of molten rock toward the ocean at about 300 yards (274 meters) per hour…”
Shocking?–“Brides Should Pledge to ‘Obey’ their Husbands”
Daily Mail wrote on May 18:
“Piers Morgan’s wife Celia Walden says brides SHOULD pledge to ‘obey’ their husbands – as the world waits to see if Meghan omits the promise from her wedding vows… [Walden] admitted… that she did vow to obey her husband Piers Morgan, even though it is now ‘out of fashion’.
“Many brides leave out the word ‘obey’ from the traditional pledge to ‘love, honour and obey’ their new husbands in modern ceremonies…
“Curious about what happened at Piers and Celia’s 2010 wedding, presenter Kate Garraway asked the journalist what she said… ‘I did say obey…’ she confessed. The revelation clearly shocked [presenters] Ben and Kate who jokingly screeched: ‘You fool!’…
“The royal vows were used by Queen Elizabeth in 1947 and come from the church’s Anglican Book of Common Prayer. In them, grooms vow ‘to love and cherish till death do us part’. The bride promises to ‘love, cherish and obey’. According to ABC News, the vows have been modernized, however.
“In 2000, they were changed to: ‘I, (bride/broom name), take you, (groom/bride name) to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.’
“Princess Diana omitted the word ‘obey’ from her vows at her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981. Kate Middleton followed in her footsteps in 2011…”
As it was widely expected, Meghan omitted in her vows the promise to obey her husband. Whether it is fashionable or not, the Bible clearly demands obedience of the wife to her husband, but of course only as such obedience is supported by Scripture. God would never want a wife to obey her husband in anything which violates the letter or the spirit of the law of God.
A Groundbreaking Modern Royal Wedding
The Sun wrote on May 19:
“Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first kiss delights fans as they seal [a] VERY modern Royal Wedding [and a] groundbreaking multi-cultural ceremony with a gospel choir and [an] eccentric American bishop… Royal experts [were] saying the couple have thrown the Royals into the 21st century.
“Ingrid Seward, Editor in Chief of Majesty Magazine said: ‘There’s never a royal wedding like this in modern history’… A gospel choir sang American soul singer Ben E. Kings 1960s hit Stand By Me to the couple, who had earlier been given their new titles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex…
“Majesty Magazine’s Ms Seward added that the star of the wedding was the American preacher, The Most Reverend Michael Curry… Peter Rolfe, owner of luxury events organiser PAVE London, added: ‘What is obvious is how much the black community have been featured in the ceremony so far, which is different from previous royal weddings [Meghan, a divorcee and former actress, is the child of a white father and a black mother.]. It’s nice to put in Meghan’s heritage with the head of the Episcopal Church was probably the most memorable speaker in the ceremony. ‘He was very arousing. His speech about love caught everyone in the church by surprise… Some of the faces in the church showed they weren’t expecting such a rousing address’…
“Harry wore full military uniform… Kensington Palace confirmed that the Royal brothers would be wearing the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals, with the Queen giving her permission for Prince Harry to marry in his uniform…”
As Deutsche Welle reported, “Michael Bruce Curry, a US Episcopalian bishop [actually, he is the presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal church and a strong supporter of same sex marriage], [gave] an impassioned wedding address. His words [centered] on the power of love to transform human lives.” Episcopalianism is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican community; the Queen is the head of the Anglican church. His speech was in stark contrast to the military uniforms worn by the Royal brothers, as he referred to a world ruled by love, saying that “when love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more…” (as quoted by the website of townandcountrymag).
Zimbabwe applies to Re-Join British Commonwealth
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 21:
“Zimbabwe has applied to re-join the British Commonwealth and invited observers to attend its general elections. The move is a major step towards re-engaging with the international community after Robert Mugabe’s ouster.
“Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially applied for his country to re-join the Commonwealth almost 15 years after it left… Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said in a statement that the member states ‘very much look forward to Zimbabwe’s return when the conditions are right.’ ‘Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history,’ Scotland said.
“Under former leader Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe left the voluntary grouping of mostly former British colonies in 2003. Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, had been suspended by the group for violent and disputed elections as well as the seizure of land from white farmers, which triggered a national economic collapse. Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe as leader following a de facto army coup last November.
“In the letter, Mnangagwa also invited Commonwealth officials to observe Zimbabwe’s general elections which are due to take place in July. The presidential, parliamentary and council elections will be the southern African nation’s first big democratic test.
“In order to become a member of the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe must show that it adheres to the group’s core values including democracy and rule of law as well as the protection of human rights including freedom of expression… If its application were to be accepted, Zimbabwe would be the fifth country to re-join the Commonwealth. The group is currently comprised of 53 countries, mainly former British colonies, representing 2.4 billion people.”
The survival or remnant of the once all-powerful British Commonwealth shows the degree of Britain’s downfall.
New Contemplated “Gender Neutral” Advertisement Requirements in the UK
Daily Mail wrote on May 17:
“The Committee of Advertising Practice is considering introducing rules that could effectively outlaw stereotypical characteristics such as boys being daring or girls being caring in adverts… Ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality – for example, daring – with a girl’s stereotypical personality – for example, caring – needs to be handled with care, a committee announced today.
“Vetoed: Aptamil baby milk advert that showed girls growing up to become ballerinas and boys becoming scientists and rock climbers… Other notions on the endangered list for advertising include women not being able to park cars and men failing to change nappies…
“Some big brand names have already taken voluntary measures to end what they see as gender stereotyping. Knorr TV ads used to show a mother and daughter in the kitchen but now feature a father and son…
“The consultation finishes at the end of July and any new rules are likely to come into effect by December.”
As the gender neutrality movement is reaching new heights of stupidity, one can only imagine what these new advertisement rules will look like.
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.
How can there be a “great falling away” in the Church of God prior to Christ’s return?
First of all, let us emphasize the biblical teaching that in the not-too-distant future, prior to Christ’s return, there WILL BE a falling away from the Truth. We have written extensively on this subject. We are setting forth excerpts from several of our Q&A’s:
We state the following in our Q&A on the 144,00:
“… the Bible even prophecies that in the future, prior to Christ’s return, true Church members will fall away from the Truth, because they did not receive the love of the Truth and did not believe the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 12). Because of lawlessness, the love of God within them will grow cold (Matthew 24:12), and they will become an easy target for Satan’s ministers (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) who will deceive them through their lying signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 11; Matthew 24:11, 24). Hopefully, their falling away will not be permanent and they will come again to ‘repentance so that they may know the truth,’ and that they ‘may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will’ (2 Timothy 2:25-26).”
The end-time falling away from the Truth refers to converted Christians. It will reach its climax at the approximate time when the man of sin—the false prophet—manifests himself just prior to and during the Great Tribulation, claiming to be God and sitting in the Temple of God.
We say this in the Q&A about a future Temple prior to Christ’s return
“Another Scripture, indicating the existence of a future temple in Jerusalem, just prior to Christ’s return, can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. Paul writes: ‘Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [of Christ’s return] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.’…
“However, we read that the returning Christ will consume the man of sin ‘with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming’ (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Therefore, this man of sin will exist at the time of Christ’s return. He will proclaim himself to be God, not just ‘a god.’ It is highly unlikely that Paul was talking about the Church as the temple of God in this context. There is no Biblical evidence that the false prophet will be sitting in God’s true Church, proclaiming himself to be God. However, Christ warned His Church in Matthew 24:11 that ‘many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.’
“One argument that has been advanced for the idea that the ‘man of sin’ is or will be a religious leader within the true Church of God is that he allegedly has to fall away from the truth, which he once knew. This is, however, not in accordance with Scripture. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 does not say that the end-time ‘man of sin’ must fall away from the truth, which he once understood. Rather, the passage only states that Christ will not return ‘unless the falling away comes first, AND the man of sin is revealed.’”
Some have proposed that the coming falling away refers to traditional Christianity, which will exert a more powerful influence on the world. But this interpretation is erroneous.
We state the following in our Q&A about the future apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3
“The context of these verses is interesting. This is talking about a falling away from the truth, and it is the only place in the Bible where the word ‘apostasia’ is used. The apostle Paul is addressing ‘brethren’ (verse 1) about an apostasy especially at the end time, as ‘the man of sin’ is also mentioned who is to reveal himself during the very last days, and who will sit in the temple of God and pretend to be God himself. This strongly indicates that the Jews will build a temple in Jerusalem prior to Christ’s return, where they will bring sacrifices, and that the man of sin or the false prophet will occupy the temple for a while, when the armies of the beast power will occupy the city of Jerusalem and suppress the daily sacrifices. All of this will be fulfilling aspects of Christ’s end time warning that the abomination of desolation will be set up or standing at the holy place, where it should not be (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14).
“It is correct, of course, that an apostasy from the true gospel already began during the lifetime of Paul, when he stated that he marvelled that so many in the Church of God had turned to another gospel (Galatians 1:6-7). But Paul’s warning, taken as a whole, is not about others who did not or do not have the truth, but he is addressing those who had learned it and who would nevertheless ‘fall away’ or leave their own beliefs behind and go off in a different direction.
“It is therefore clear that any revival of orthodox Christianity, including a revival of the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek and Russian Orthodox Church or the different Protestant churches (as mentioned in Revelation 13 and 17), is not in any way to be viewed as being an aspect of the end-time apostasy or falling away from true biblical teaching. How can orthodox Christianity ‘fall away’ from biblical beliefs that they do not accept in the first place, and have never accepted? For instance, the Catholic and Protestant churches have rejected, for nearly two millennia, the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days…
“The Protestant Church, even though they officially rejected and still reject the authority of the Catholic Church to change the teachings of the Bible, nevertheless followed the lead of the Catholic Church and adopted Sunday worship, while rejecting the Sabbath. Martin Luther himself declared that the Bible teaches the observance of the Sabbath, agreeing with the Waldenses who insisted at the time that the Sabbath must be kept, but he concluded that one should instead continue the observance of Sunday, as to avoid an unnecessary uproar. Other Protestant ‘reformers’ such as Calvin understood that Easter is a pagan holiday, which is not enjoined in Scripture, but which the Catholic Church adopted from pagans who kept this day in honour of pagan gods. The goal was to bring those pagans into the fold of the Catholic Church. However, these same Protestant ‘reformers’ did not feel it necessary to abrogate Easter observance…
“At the same time, a false concept of God is being taught, where He is misrepresented as a Trinity—One Person in Three Persons—while the Bible clearly rejects such absurd doctrine. The list could go on and on, but suffice to say that orthodox Christianity could not be part of an end time ‘apostasia’, because they never had the truth in the first place from which to renege, and they most certainly do not have the truth today…
“The true Church of God has always been a ‘little flock’… It must be remembered that ‘a falling away’ doesn’t have to be millions of people. It is a falling away from a small flock, which the Church of God has always been, and therefore, numerically, won’t be millions of people. The ‘falling away’ is only in connection with where the truth is and has been preached – and that is in the Church of God… Paul’s warning for us today is therefore very sobering: Even though a falling away did undoubtedly take place at the time when a new administration came to power in the Worldwide Church of God [WCG], after the death of its human leader, Herbert Armstrong, in 1986, the apostasy from the truth within the Church of God will continue. As many fell away from the truth then, so many will still fall away in the future…”
The commentary of Bengel’s Gnomen adds:
“The apostasy and the mystery of iniquity are a great evil… Apostasy is a falling away from the faith… Some of those who had received it drew back [and departed] from the living God…”
The coming end-time apostasy refers to true converted Christians who will fall away from the Truth. As we will point out below, even though we might hope for the better, their departure might very well be a final decision in many cases, leading to the unpardonable sin. We should realize that this departure does not only refer to a “handful” of people. It is true that the Bible does not use the term “GREAT” or “GREATER” falling away in 2 Thessalonians 2. However, it is also correct that it has been commonly understood that Paul had a GREAT apostasy in mind, which—relatively speaking—will be, in some way, greater than prior apostasies. For instance, the headline of the New King James Bible for 2 Thessalonians 2 reads, “The Great Apostasy.” The Ryrie Study Bible comments about the coming apostasy: “An aggressive and climactic revolt against God.”
The Benson Commentary writes about the coming apostasy: “The article here is emphatical, denoting both that this was to be a great apostasy, the apostasy, by way of eminence, (the general, grand departure of the whole visible church into idolatrous worship,) and that the Thessalonians had been already apprized of its coming.”
After all, Paul uses the end-time falling away from the Truth and the manifestation of the man of sin as important and critical visible signs for the arrival of the day of the Lord–the return of Jesus Christ. If he had only a minor event in mind or just a few Christians who were to forsake the Truth, then this would hardly be an obvious and convincing sign for Christ’s return, as Christians have fallen away from the Truth as long as the Church of God has existed, and as many Christians HAD fallen away from the Truth at the time of Paul, as Paul explains in the first chapter of the letter to the Galatians.
When we consider the falling away from the Truth in the days of the [now defunct] Worldwide Church of God [WCG], after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, how can there still be a “great” apostasy, when today, the numbers of members and attendees in all Church of God organizations are so much smaller than in the days of WCG, and when after Mr. Armstrong died, more than 100,000 people (an approximate estimate) forsook the teachings of the Bible? Another question is, how can the coming falling away from the Truth be GREATER than the falling away from the Truth in WCG’s days?
First, we should ask ourselves as to how many Church attendees were actually truly converted in WCG days and understood, embraced and LOVED the Truth, before they subsequently departed. In this regard, you might carefully consider biblical passages such as 1 John 2:19 and 2 Timothy 2:15-20, referring to Church “attendees” who were not converted and ultimately left the fellowship with the true Church… or who stayed in the Church organization, without being truly converted servants of God (compare 3 John 9-10; Jude 4, 19). If true, then they did not really depart from the Truth (even though they might have “known” aspects of the Truth, the Truth was never part of their lives), and their judgment will still come in the future, while converted Christians are already being judged today (1 Peter 4:17).
Further, the concept of a “great” or “greater” falling away is relative. It may not be a “greater” falling away than it was at the time of Paul or at the time of WCG, when referring to numbers, but it will be a GREATER falling away in terms of importance and potentially eternal consequence. If the Body of Christ were to consist of 5 million converted members, then a departure of 1000 would not necessarily qualify as a great falling away. But when there are only 30,000 members, then 10,000 members who fall away can indeed be described as a great falling away. And in comparison, if many more members fall away than those who stay, then this would be a great falling away, in any event.
In addition, we hope that many of those who were converted and departed from the Truth in WCG’s days will return in the years to come, so that they would not be counted as those who departed from the Truth for good. The possibility of such a return is definitely implied in passages such as Revelation 2:5; 3:2-3, 17-19. And as we mentioned before, we also hope the same for those who will fall away in the future apostasy. But the extremely frightening warning is that many of those who will depart from the Truth in the future may very well depart for good—constituting a true departure and falling away of converted Church members from the Truth—as the love of God, poured out in their hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), will grow cold, and as they will forsake the Truth AND the love of the Truth, which they might have had at one time. The German Menge Bible renders this verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:10: “They did not make the love of the Truth a part of themselves.” The New International Version and many other translations say: “They refused to love the truth.”
The warning in this regard must not be overlooked. As the love of God would grow cold in them, so, as a consequence, the love of and for the Truth would grow cold in them as well. The love of God IS the keeping of His commandments (1 John 5:3), and without God’s love, lawlessness abounds, and vice versa (Matthew 24:12).
Hebrews 6:4-6 states very clearly: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance…”
When we speak of the fact that there will be “many” who will fall away in the future (compare Matthew 24:10-12; 2 Peter 2:1-2), we must realize how the Bible uses the word “many.” We state the following in our Q&A on the number of those who will be saved:
“First, we need to realize that the word ‘many’ is to be understood in context. It does not necessarily have to describe the vast majority of a group of people… We read in Acts 12:12 that Peter ‘came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where MANY were gathered together praying…’ In 1 Corinthians 11:30, Paul described the status of the brethren in Corinth, saying: ‘For this reason [because they did not properly discern Christ’s Sacrifice, when they partook of the symbols of bread and wine] MANY are weak and sick among you, and MANY sleep [having died prematurely].’
“We also read that at the time of Jesus’ death, ‘the graves were opened; and MANY bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many’ (Matthew 27:52-53). Verses 55-56 point out that ‘MANY women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James [the Less] and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.’
“In addition, Mark 14:56 informs us that at the time of Christ’s illegal ‘trial,’ ‘MANY bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.’ So, we need to look at the use of the word ‘many’ in context. For instance, when we read that many brethren in Corinth had partaken of the Passover symbols in an unworthy manner, we are informed that a sizeable group had done so; this passage does not have to mean that the majority had acted in that way…”
God’s warning to all of us is clear. We are to retain the Truth, love the Truth and GROW in Christ’s knowledge of the Truth. We must not forsake or reject the Truth which has been entrusted to us (and God’s true Church is the foundation and pillar of the Truth; cp. 1 Timothy 3:15), and we must love God’s Truth so much that we will not refuse to accept further aspects of the Truth, whenever God reveals them to us in the pages of the Bible. We must continue to be zealous, steadfast and committed to God and His Word until the very end (Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Hebrews 3:14). If we do, then God will protect and save us from the deceptions around us, so that we will NOT drift away (Hebrews 2:1), turn away from God and depart from Him (Hebrews 12:25; 3:12), fall through disobedience (Hebrews 4:11) and lose our salvation (Hebrews 2:3; 10:26-31).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Pope Francis: ‘God Made People Gay!’” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Are people born gay or is it their choice to become this way? Did God create gay people, as Pope Francis seems to suggest? Are there any differences in role and responsibility between husband and wife? Do we have to adopt gender neutrality, even in advertisement? What are TRUE biblical standards in regard to sexual relationships?
“Wann kommt der große Abfall?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. The title in English is: “When Will the Great Galling Away Happen?”
“Fishing for True Answers,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Placing God before all other desires is critical in our ability to show true fruits of repentance. We don’t know when or how but we know that God will use us as lights to the world. We must be prepared to shine at all times with works that reflect Godly nature.
“True Proof!” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Satan challenges mankind to “prove it”—but his motive is evil. God also challenges mankind to prove Him—and His objective is good. Our responsibility is to choose the true proof from God that leads to life.
“Shape and Definition,” the sermonette presented on Pentecost morning by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The shape of our current condition is a result of our past. While our history determines our present state of being, it does not need to control our future. Our determination to repent of our past sins and actively work towards the fulfillment of our calling is what defines our character.
“This Gospel,” the sermon presented on Pentecost morning by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The gospel, that is, the “good news” of the Kingdom of God is the message from God to mankind. This is the focus of what Jesus Christ preached, and it is what He commissioned as the “work” of the Church of God. It is through the Holy Spirit of God that His servants are completing this responsibility!
“God Will Provide,” the Offertory presented on Pentecost afternoon by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Do we believe that God will provide in ALL things? What do we ask for? What kind of blessings can we expect to receive if we live righteously? How do we put God to the test if we want to receive blessings?
“How We Grow in God’s Knowledge,” the sermon presented on Pentecost afternoon services by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
On the Day of Pentecost, God gave His Holy Spirit to His New Testament Church. It is God’s Spirit which leads us in all Truth and which declares to us the future, if we accept God’s involvement in our lives and act accordingly. In this sermon, we will give you many examples from recent Church history, showing HOW God lets His Knowledge grow in His disciples, which includes the courage of true Christians to free themselves from error, while believing and boldly and uncompromisingly declaring the doctrines of the Bible.
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.
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