August 3, 2018
Against The Odds; To Tear or Mend?
On August 4, 2018, Eric Rank will present the sermonette, titled, “Against The Odds,” and Robb Harris will present the sermon, titled, “To Tear or Mend?”
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 Michael Link
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 to “Be sober, be vigilant.” They both go hand in hand, for if we are not sober or in a clear state of mind, then we can be caught off guard, which could lead us to sin and temptation. Sobriety and watchfulness are very necessary for our Christian life and if we are not sober in body and mind, we would not be watchful over ourselves and also over others.
Peter continues on explaining why we are to be sober and vigilant by saying, “…because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Satan is our enemy, our opponent. Barnes’ Notes of the Bible explains that “Satan opposes man in his best interests. He resists his efforts to do good; his purposes to return to God; his attempts to secure his own salvation. There is no more appropriate appellation that can be given to him than to say that he resists all our efforts to obey God and to secure the salvation of our own souls.”
So then, Satan will do everything in his power to deter us, to throw us off guard, making sure that we will fail. He will use any means possible in ways we probably wouldn’t recognize at first and that is why we need to be circumspect at ALL times.
We have a bigger challenge ahead of us, compared to the rest of the world, for we have the knowledge and the understanding to defeat Satan, to overcome our trials, to live a righteous Godly life, for God has chosen US now to come out of this world and He has given us the first chance for eternal salvation. Because we know this, we can also expect to go through trials on a continuous basis which God allows, to test our strength and commitment to see whether or not we will overcome until the end and be counted worthy, so we can ultimately be a part of God’s Family (compare Matthew 24:13; Luke 21:36; Revelation 2:26).
Satan is compared to a roaring lion that seeks those whom he wants to devour. Yet in Revelation 12:12, a warning is placed to everyone on this earth, especially God’s elect, when Satan will attack, “having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Satan will strike as a roaring lion, implying his violent and voracious thirst for prey as a hungry beast.
We continue to preach that we are living in the end time and Christ’s return is near, and therefore we must understand how QUICKLY things can materialize. If we are not watchful, but rather ignorant to what is happening around the world, as things continue to progress in light of biblical prophecy, then we will be in the same category of people as Christ explains in Matthew 24:48-51, and we will be caught unaware (also compare Mark 13:32-37).
We have a duty to fulfill. Jesus Christ makes it very clear how vigilant we must be at ALL times, in ANY situation. Our calling to the Truth should not be taken for granted; neither is it a free pass to everlasting life, but it is something we need to work at continually, asking God for more wisdom and strength so that we can overcome Satan’s crafty snares.
by Norbert Link
We begin with strange conduct of Bank of America towards their customers, begging the question who is really behind these dangerous developments and continue with the dangers of a cashless society [in this context, please view our new StandingWatch program, “Do Banks and the Government Control You?”]; report on the possibility of economic disaster for the USA; and the ongoing trade war between the USA, Europe and China; Germany’s anti-Trump strategy; the move for a sovereign united Europe; and Britain’s move towards political anarchy.
We address further developments in Europe and discuss the reasons as to why the USA has failed to bring peace to the Middle East. We also speak on the worldwide terrible wildfires and droughts.
We conclude with several articles on religious persecution all over the world, including Africa and China.
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
Bank of America’s Questionable Conduct
The Kansas City Star wrote on July 27:
“Josh Collins and wife Jessica Salazar Collins were mystified: Why would the Bank of America, where they’ve banked since the early 2000s, suddenly ask questions about Josh’s citizenship? He was born in Wichita. So this thoroughly American couple from Roeland Park ignored a form that the bank mailed them about a month ago asking, among other things, whether Josh Collins was a citizen or could claim dual citizenship with another country. Jessica said she tossed the letter because she and Josh ‘thought it was a scam.’
“Until the bank on Tuesday cut off access to their money. Bank of America said it was standard practice to ask about citizen status when opening a new account or updating customer information on an existing one.. ‘Like all financial institutions, we’re required by law to maintain complete and accurate records for all of our customers and may periodically request information, such as country of citizenship and proof of U.S. residency. This type of outreach is nothing new,’ Bank of America said in a statement Friday. ‘This information must be up to date and therefore we periodically reach out to customers, which is what we did in this case.’
“But according to the California Bankers Association, the largest state affiliate of the national association, questions of citizenship are not federally required… She said federal law requires banks must obtain and verify only four things about account holders: name, date of birth, residential address and Social Security number. Other federally chartered banks, including Wells Fargo, ask citizenship questions when some new deposit accounts are opened. The U.S. Department of the Treasury increasingly is urging financial institutions to collect as much information on customers as possible, including citizenship status, and to update often in part to ward against the laundering of money that may flow through foreign countries…
“… when they showed up in person at a Bank of America branch in Mission, a bank worker’s computer screen showed a little red flag near Josh’s name and the word ‘citizenship’ beside the flag. The bank asked Josh for his driver’s license and unfroze the account on Wednesday. Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner said it was unfortunate that the Collinses didn’t respond to the request for updated information. ‘If we don’t hear from a customer in response to our outreach,’ she said, ‘as a last resort, we may restrict the account until we can confirm it is in compliance with regulatory requirements’ and safe from identity thieves.
“Josh Collins wasn’t chosen for any particular reason, Wagner said, adding that all Bank of America customers eventually will receive update notices that will ask about citizenship and dual citizenship. Nonetheless, Josh puzzles over why no such notice went to his wife, if all customers were being contacted… Jessica… added that they’ll be changing banks…”
Inside Edition added on July 30:
“… Then last Tuesday, the family found they couldn’t access their money… Collins said he called the bank and was told the account was frozen because he hadn’t responded to their inquiry about his citizenship status. When the account remained frozen the next day, Salazar Collins called and was told the card had been stolen. ‘So, at that point, we decide[d] to go into the physical bank and it took about 15 minutes, but the first question they asked me was, “Are you a citizen?”’ he said. ‘Again? “Yes.” And then they wanted to know if I had dual citizenship.’
“Collins showed the bank his driver’s license, and his account was ultimately unfrozen, but his automatic bill payments had been deleted, he said… The Salazar Collins family said it plans to move its business to another bank.”
Bank of America’s conduct has become increasingly questionable. They have also made phone calls to customers, especially nonprofit entities, to ask some very intrusive questions which might violate the customer’s or donors’ right of privacy, threatening to “restrict” or even “close” the account if the questions are not being answered.
The Real Dangers of a Cashless Society
The Guardian wrote on July 19:
“Banks are closing ATMs and branches in an attempt to ‘nudge’ users towards digital services – and it’s all for their own benefit… All over the western world banks are shutting down cash machines and branches. They are trying to push you into using their digital payments and digital banking infrastructure… financial institutions want everyone to access and navigate the broader economy through their systems…
“Financial institutions… are trying to nudge us towards a cashless society and digital banking. The true motive is corporate profit. Payments companies such as Visa and Mastercard want to increase the volume of digital payments services they sell, while banks want to cut costs. The nudge requires two parts. First, they must increase the inconvenience of cash, ATMs and branches. Second, they must vigorously promote the alternative…
“We can learn from the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci in this regard. His concept of hegemony referred to the way in which powerful parties condition the cultural and economic environment in such a way that their interests begin to be perceived as natural and inevitable by the general public. Nobody was on the streets shouting for digital payment 20 years ago, but increasingly it seems obvious and ‘natural’ that it should take over. That belief does not come from nowhere. It is the direct result of a hegemonic project on the part of financial institutions [and, we might add, the governments supporting them].
“We can also learn from Louis Althusser’s concept of interpellation. The basic idea is that you can get people to internalise beliefs by addressing them as if they already had those beliefs. Twenty years ago nobody believed that cash was ‘inconvenient’, but every time I walk into London Underground I see adverts that address me as if I was a person who finds cash inconvenient… But a cashless society is not in your interest. It is in the interest of banks and payments companies. Their job is to make you believe that it is in your interest too…
“[During the] recent Visa chaos… millions of people who have become dependent on digital payment suddenly found themselves stranded when the monopolistic payment network crashed… Cash, on the other hand, does not crash. It does not rely on external data centres, and is not subject to remote control or remote monitoring… This is also the reason why financial institutions and financial technology companies want to get rid of it. Cash transactions are outside the net that such institutions cast to harvest fees and data.
“A cashless society brings dangers… There are also poorly understood psychological implications about cash encouraging self-control while paying by card or a mobile phone can encourage spending. And a cashless society has major surveillance implications… we see an alignment between government and financial institutions…”
On July 30, Bild Online reported that the desired move towards a cashless society (i.e., no cash transactions) was another step towards creating total governmental “Big Brother” control of the countries’ citizens.
Recently, when “panels of experts” were debating the implications of “taped conversations” between Donald Trump and his former attorney, discussing a potential cash transaction by Trump to a female accuser (which transaction never took place), it was stated on CNN that cash transactions are only engaged in by criminals such as drug dealers or those who are guilty of money laundering. Such irresponsible, completely false and utterly foolish statements are of course geared, among other “political reasons,” towards the furtherance of a cashless society.
Warning! Get Ready When US Economy Goes Bust
The Week wrote on July 30:
“The government’s latest numbers showed a whopping 4.1 percent rate [of GDP growth] in the second quarter. It was a big increase over the first quarter, which saw mere 2.2 percent growth… But economic statistics are also full of noise. Were Friday’s numbers a blip or a sign of a new trend?…
“Job growth remains modest but steady. Nominal wage growth is there, but it’s mediocre. And this has literally been the story for years and years, well before the arrival of Trump or the current Congress. Paradoxically, the recovery from the Great Recession has been one of the most anemic-yet-dogged in American history.
“This is especially noteworthy when it comes to the Republicans’ tax cut. Their theory was that by making investments more profitable, the tax law would encourage more investment and thus boost growth. This never made much sense: Investment in the U.S. economy has been crumbling for decades even as corporate profits soared to new heights… there’s no sign of a pickup in investment. In fact, the same Friday report that showed high economic growth also revealed the slowest growth for equipment investments since late 2016. Whatever boosted GDP in the second quarter, it wasn’t that.
“A more likely culprit is in fact Trump’s trade war. But not in the way the president would want. America’s trading partners, particularly China, are gearing up to retaliate against Trump with tariffs of their own. Like shoppers stripping grocery shelves bare in anticipation of a hurricane, it looks like foreign buyers cranked up their purchases of American exports in the second quarter to get them in before the crackdown arrived. For instance, U.S. soybean exports — which are now getting hit hard by the trade war — were up over 50 percent. All told, the sudden surge in American exports accounted for half of the 4.1 percent GDP growth rate.
“Analysts at Morgan Stanley said it was ‘likely a reflection of stockpiling ahead of the implementation of trade tariffs, and so they are likely to subtract from growth in the following quarters.’ In other words, Trump’s policies didn’t drive that growth so much as inspire a foreign freakout that injected more demand into our economy from abroad. And because it happened in anticipation of a trade war that’s now here, the temporary boom will almost certainly be followed by a bust.
“It turns out federal spending also grew by 3.4 percent in the second quarter…”
Whether the American economy will experience a bust now or a little bit later, it is prophesied that ultimately, America’s economic growth, prosperity and wealth will sharply decline. At one time, God blessed America, due to the obedience of Abraham (Abraham was the grandfather of Jacob or Israel. Modern descendants of the ancient house of Israel can be found today in America and Britain, among other English-speaking nations.) But God also warned that He would withdraw His blessings and curse this country if America would not repent of their many sins. There is little evidence of genuine repentance.
EU-US-Trade War—Disagreement on What Was Agreed
The Huffington Post wrote on July 27:
“President Donald Trump said… that he just opened up the European market to U.S. farmers… The European Union’s take was very different. ‘On agriculture, I think we’ve been very clear on that — that agriculture is out of the scope of these discussions,’ European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters in Brussels on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Other than what is ‘explicitly mentioned’ in the agreement, ‘we are not negotiating about agricultural products,’ she said. ‘When you read the joint statement … you will see no mention of agriculture as such; you will see a mention of farmers and a mention of soybeans, which are part of the discussions, and we will follow up [on] that,’ Andreeva added…
“The U.S. ‘heavily insisted to insert the whole field of agricultural products’ in the negotiations, Juncker later told reporters, according to the Journal. ‘We refused that because I don’t have a mandate and that’s a very sensitive issue in Europe.’”
Focus wrote on July 29: “In the trade war [between Europe and the USA], there is no reason for ‘all-clear!'”
The EUObserver wrote on July 26: “Did Juncker trick Trump? The EU commission chief agreed to trade talks even if the US president did not lift tariffs on steel and aluminium [sic]. But he avoided tariffs on cars and obtained a commitment to refrain from new unilateral moves.”
Germany’s Anti-Trump Strategy
Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 27:
“On the day European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reached a surprise deal on trade with Donald Trump, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas… presented the Japanese leader with his idea for a new alliance between states. It could fill the geopolitical vacuum created by Trump. In the coming months, a network of globally oriented states is to be created that closely coordinates its foreign, trade and climate policies… [This] is to say, an alliance that stands for the global rules and structures of the postwar order that Trump rejects…
“The outlines of the German government’s new anti-Trump strategy are currently being sketched out. The German Foreign Ministry has been doing preliminary work on it for some time now… But now a clear goal has emerged. If that hadn’t been the case before, the Brussels NATO summit — where the U.S. president threatened to withdraw from the Western defense alliance — and his later description of the European Union as a ‘foe,’ cemented the conviction in Berlin, Brussels and Paris that alliances mean nothing to Trump. The U.S. has transformed from a ‘source of order’ into a ‘destroyer of order,’ according to sources within the German government…
“The strategy won’t likely be fully formed until the end of the year, but the allies have already been determined. In addition to Japan, they are likely to also include South Korea… Both countries would like to sign wide-ranging free trade agreements with the EU. Maas is also considering South Africa, Australia and Argentina as strategic partners, as well as, of course, the U.S.’s two neighbors, Mexico and Canada…
“Maas plans to float the first trial balloon during the General Assembly of the United Nations in late September. Together with India, Brazil and Japan, the German foreign minister is planning a proposal for a reform of the Security Council. Germany will serve on the Security Council for two years starting in 2019. If Berlin is assigned to chair the council, that would be the point at which the new alliance would appear together for the first time. Maas wants to define the new seat as ‘European,’ in ‘radical alliance’ with France.
“That won’t be easy, because Paris and Berlin aren’t just pursuing contradictory goals when it comes to trade. French President Emmanuel Macron wants to found an ‘interventions initiative’ in which other non-EU states can also participate. Germany, for its part, supports a European defense union, or Pesco for short, that is focused on the EU. Meanwhile, with a ‘new policy for Eastern Europe,’ Maas wants to, above all, overcome the rifts with Eastern European countries like Poland and the Baltic States in order to create a Europe that is ‘sovereign and strong.’
“Now, much as they succeeded in doing during the trade war with the U.S., the French and the Germans need to find a compromise. The conflict over tariffs, Maas argues, shows ‘that our words carry weight when Europe acts together.’”
German Defense Minister Attacks Trump
The Local wrote on July 27:
“Germany’s defence minister Ursula von der Leyen has launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump, saying that the US president is a man without a plan. ‘There is no recognizable strategy in the president’s approach to Russia,’ said von der Leyen in an interview… While Russian president Vladimir Putin’s strategy was to position himself as a global player, thereby distracting from Russia’s economic weaknesses, Trump appeared to have no clear aims, said von der Leyen… ‘The problem with Helsinki is that nobody knows what was discussed or even agreed,’ she said…
“Von der Leyen also suggested that Trump’s hostility to Chancellor Angela Merkel was down to the fact that she didn’t fit into his perceptions of women. ‘A woman like Angela Merkel, a globally admired head of government with many years of experience has probably not featured in his world view before,’ said von der Leyen. ‘At the beginning, he didn’t even want to shake her hand. Now he is much more respectful.’”
Die Welt wrote on July 29: “One cannot rely anymore on America’s protection in light of Trump’s politics. Berlin has no other choice: Germany must become a nuclear power.”
These are strong words. The handwriting is on the wall!
Joschka Fischer: Europe Must Unite
On July 31, Handelsblatt Global published the following article by Joschka Fischer, Germany’s former vice-chancellor and foreign minister:
“After US President Donald Trump’s recent European tour… there can no longer be any doubt that he and his supporters want to destroy the American-led international order and global trade system… Trump [is the most] powerful man in the world… By seeking to disrupt virtually all that has defined the West since the end of World War II, Trump has brought the world to a historical turning point…
“For Europe, the stakes could not be higher… Europeans should not count on existing alliances and rules…
“For Europeans, the 19th century was shaped by the aftermath of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, whereas the 20th century was driven by two world wars, the Cold War and the development of nuclear weapons. At the end of WWII, two non-European powers on either side of the old European state system — the US and the Soviet Union – asserted themselves, and Europe became just another square on the chess board. Up to that time, Europe had ruled the world… But with the end of WWII, its dominance came to an end…
“The question now is whether the EU will reclaim its full sovereignty and assert itself as a power on the global stage or let itself fall behind for good. This is the moment of truth. There will be no second chances. Only the EU can win back European sovereignty for the 21st century… Reclaiming sovereignty will require… a new understanding of the relationship between the EU and its member states. The European project… must now also enshrine joint sovereignty.
“If the EU succeeds in this task, Trump will have inadvertently done it a big favor. History sometimes proceeds in strange ways. The key is to take it as it comes, and not hesitate when the moment for decisive action arrives.”
The Bible has prophesied that after Rome’s fall, the ancient Roman Empire would be resurrected ten times in Europe. The ninth resurrection occurred under Mussolini and Hitler and ended with the end of World War II. Europe’s power was gone, and Europe returned to the abyss. But, as Joschka Fischer suggests, it could rise again as the proverbial phoenix from the ashes, or, as the Bible puts it, as the beast coming out of the abyss one more time. And THAT is exactly what will happen.
Does Trump Have to Fear “Fear”?
CNN reported on July 30:
“Donald Trump is about to get the Bob Woodward treatment. The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author will release ‘Fear’ — his first book on the Trump administration — on September 11, 2018, just weeks before the midterm elections that could deliver a strong verdict on the President’s first two years in office…
“‘Fear’ is based on hundreds of hours of taped interviews with first-hand sources and provides an in-depth, probing account of Trump’s thoughts and decisions on everything from national security to the Russia investigation to the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition to interviewing dozens of administration officials… Woodward was given memos, documents, diaries and notes, including some handwritten by the President…
“Woodward, famed for his coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, has written or co-authored 18 books including penetrating looks at George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s presidencies. These books, including ‘Obama’s Wars’ about the President’s handling of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ‘State of Denial: Bush at War’ about the waning years of Bush’s administration, have been controversial, partly because they have relied on [confidential and sensitive information]…
“[Michael] Wolff, [who wrote “Fire and Fury” and] who is known for taking some creative liberty, is far different than Woodward, who is known as a meticulous note-taker and fact-checker… Woodward — who spent the last eight months reporting and writing ‘Fear’ — primarily used first-hand sources for the book, relying on people who were in the room with the President when the decisions were made…”
Whatever the outcome, Donald Trump was placed in power to fulfill biblical prophecy–accelerating the downfall of the United States and the worldwide antagonism against America… and he will stay in office until that “task” has been accomplished.
Britain at Brink of Political Anarchy
The Sun wrote on July 30:
“How does this great nation find itself on the brink of political anarchy, paralysis and a Channel blockade on food and medicine? The answer is appalling leadership, dithering diplomacy . . . and a quite incredible failure to speak to the people… The mood in Britain has hardened dramatically against Brussels…
“It is now too late for the traditional EU stitch-up, with Brussels giving an inch and taking a mile. Forget about a second referendum…
“We will NOT sink back into the Dark Ages, cut off from the world, adrift in the North Sea with no friends…”
But sadly, this is EXACTLY what the Bible prophesies to happen.
Move from England to Spain and France
The EUObserver wrote on July 30:
“EU states have decided to move the HQ of their Atalanta anti-piracy mission from the UK to Spain and France due to Brexit. The mission, which has fought piracy off the Horn of Africa for the past decade, will see its command moved from Northwood, in south-east England, to Rota, in south-west Spain, and to Brest, in western France, on 29 March next year, EU diplomats meeting in Brussels on 30 July agreed.”
Orban’s View of a New Europe
Deutsche Welle wrote on July 28:
“Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban decried the ‘undemocratic’ governments of Western Europe…, as he laid out his vision for the continent ahead of European elections next year. He also called on right-wing parties across the European Union to band together…
“He called on a new model for Europe based on ‘Christian democracy,’ which he said is ‘anti-immigrant, anti-multicultural and stands for the Christian family model.’’
Not Enough Evidence of Discrimination in Italy???
The EUObserver wrote on July 27:
“The European Commission has not seen enough evidence of discrimination against the Roma in Italy to launch legal action, despite years of documented abuse. The admission follows the forced eviction on Thursday (26 July) of some 300 Roma in a government-run camp in the outskirts of the Italian capital – in direct violation of an injunction order by the European Court of Human Rights.”
Failed US Middle East Plans
The Algemeiner wrote on July 27:
“Over the years, the various US initiatives for the Middle East… have always failed… American peace plans are bound for failure because they tend to discount the complexities of the violent Arab-Muslim reality and because they are wedded to oversimplified solutions, wishful thinking and quick fixes…
“The plans have been undone by the volcanic eruptions in the Arab-Muslim world since the seventh century: a violent tribal-religious-ideological fragmentation, intolerance, a lack of regional and local coexistence, minority-led regimes that deny human rights, unstable governments and flawed agreements…
“US peace plans have always tried to make Israel make far-reaching concessions that undermine its very existence… They have always drawn an immoral equivalency between the Arab/Palestinian aggressor and the Israeli victim; between Islamic terrorism and the Israeli counterterrorism measures; between America’s most reliable ally and the Palestinians, who have consistently allied themselves with America’s enemies and adversaries (Nazi Germany, the Soviet bloc, Iran, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela)…
“William Rogers, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as others, all tried and failed…”
Dramatic 2018 Global Wildfire and Drought Season
The Huffington Post wrote on July 28:
“… the northern hemisphere fire season now extends from June until October, and more death and destruction is inevitable as one of the strongest, longest-lasting global heatwaves in decades continues to envelop countries from Siberia to the Mediterranean, from North America to East Asia. Temperature records keep getting surpassed, and there’s little rain in the forecast for many regions.
“People have had to be evacuated from Yosemite National Park, Sweden has lost an estimated 30,000 hectares of forest and large areas of bone-dry Latvia, Italy, Finland and Norway have all been blanketed in smoke.
“The 2018 wildfire season has been dramatic, prompting headlines about the world being on fire…
“In the United States, nearly 4 million acres across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon have burned so far this year… [A] 2016 report by the European Environment Agency suggests Mediterranean countries are seeing more heat extremes and reduced rainfall, resulting in more forest fires. The number of fires this year across Europe is up 40 percent on average…
“The vast majority of fires are caused not by lightning or natural events, but by human error or vandalism… As much as 90 percent are the result of things like campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes or arson. Because humans can start fires so easily, there is no simple way to prevent them, short of drastic and likely unfeasible solutions like removing people permanently from susceptible areas or redesigning landscapes to remove trees completely…”
Breitbart wrote on July 29:
“A wildfire in Northern California [near Redding] that has killed [eight] people [as of July 30] and burned hundreds of structures grew to nearly 90,000 acres Sunday…‘Extreme fire conditions continue to challenge firefighters last night,’ Cal Fire said. ‘Erratic winds and hot dry conditions resulted in greater growth and increased fire behavior during night operations.’…
“Several other wildfires burned throughout the state on Sunday [at least 17 as of Monday], including the River Fire in Mendocino County, which has burned 11,028 acres and destroyed four residences and one outbuilding since it began on Friday. The Ranch Fire, which also started in Mendocino County on Friday, grew to 13,242 acres and was at five percent containment Sunday, Cal Fire said.”
The Local wrote on July 29:
“Withered sunflowers, scorched wheat fields, stunted cornstalks — the farmlands of northern Germany have borne the brunt of this year’s extreme heat and record-low rainfall, triggering an epochal drought…
“The grain crop alone has shrunk by up to eight million tonnes or around 18 percent this year, stripping 1.4 billion euros from revenues so far… the knock-on effects of the grain shortage have already been dramatic, depriving farmers of animal feed and sending prices soaring.
“Many dairy farmers have responded by selling their livestock. The number of slaughtered cows and heifers surged 10 percent in the first two weeks of July…”
Turkey’s Dictatorship, Religious Persecution and Threats
Newsmax wrote on July 29:
“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the US in comments published Sunday that sanctions would not force Ankara to ‘step back’ after Donald Trump threatened to punish Turkey [with large sanctions] if a US pastor was not freed… ‘The US should not forget that it could lose a strong and sincere partner like Turkey if it does not change its attitude,’ he was quoted as saying…
“Relations between the NATO allies have worsened over the jailing of Brunson, who ran a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir. He was held in a Turkish jail for almost two years on terror charges but was placed under house arrest on Wednesday…”
But where is the outrage towards Putin’s illegal persecution and imprisonment of hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia?
Religious Persecution in Rwanda
World Watch Monitor wrote on July 27:
“The Rwanda Governance Board continues to close churches it says fail to meet requirements laid down at the beginning of the year. New requirements set in place for those congregations that want to continue ministry are also complicating efforts to comply. Many see the closures as part of an effort by the government to make its aggressive secular stance clear… more than 8,000 churches have now been closed, and the number keeps growing…
“World Watch Monitor learned that in one village the church was closed while a wedding was ongoing. The couple and all the guests were simply told to leave the church during the service, and the church was closed. Another church was stopped from having services and other meetings (such as home groups) in a school hall as an alternative after all the churches in that parish had been closed. The church had timber instead of a metal door and window frames, and was told the roof also needed to be elevated ‘just a little’… One congregation now meets in a church building in another neighbourhood. Another congregation’s members walk 20km to attend church in a neighbouring community after their church was closed.
“Many new requirements not originally included in the directive have now been added, including:… All pastors now need to have a theological degree. This was already communicated as a requirement, but now the degree needs to be from an accredited institute. Another new law states that only institutions that also teach science and technology can teach theology, meaning that few of the many (often highly regarded) theological institutions or Bible schools are regarded as valid…
“On paper, the same rules apply to Muslims as to Christians, but in practice this is not the case… There is a high level of fear among church leaders. Shortly after the new requirements began to be implemented, officials arrested six pastors accused of plotting to defy the government orders. Although the pastors have since been released, a senior church leader explained that the arrest served as a stern warning to others to not resist the move.”
Religious Persecution in China
World Watch Monitor wrote on July 26:
“The government is especially wary of ‘high profile’ churches that have access to international networks… Churches that hold meetings in commercial buildings are targeted… The authorities close church venues and more landlords refuse to continue rental contracts with churches. Hence, these local churches are forced to return to house meetings…
“Two weeks ago, the Bible Reformed Church in Guangzhou was forced to stop its meeting for a third time in a month following a police raid, during which a number of Christians were arrested for questioning… That same day local authorities had sent a notice ordering the church to stop its activities, having already issued previous notices to ‘stop illegal education’. The church was also fined 50,000 yuan (US $7,500) by the local religious affairs bureau…
“Many churches in China are reluctant to register as they are afraid the government will use the information they provide to control them… The coming years are likely to be very difficult for Christians throughout China, with even more oppressive laws on the agenda… the underlying dark spirits of atheistic Marxism have not disappeared…”
After all, it is Satan and his demonic dark spirits who rule this entire world.
Concentration Camps in China
World Watch Monitor wrote on July 20:
“… ongoing Chinese government crackdown on its Uyghur-people in Xinjiang province is tearing both Muslim and Christian families and communities apart… Hundreds of thousands – reports say it might be over a million – Uyghur and Kazakh men have been rounded up and taken to ‘re-education Centres’… where they are detained for weeks or even months… Although most of those detained have a Muslim background, those who have converted to Christianity have also been caught up in the crackdown.
“Many are arrested during surprise raids and taken to an unknown location, leaving wives and children in uncertainty and often without any income… children, whose parents or guardians have been taken to the camps, end up in orphanages until their parents are released… The Chinese government has denied the existence of the camps…”
Of course, the Chinese government would deny their existence.
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.
Is it your understanding that all sins, past, present and future, are forgiven upon conversion and that we don’t have to repent of any sins that we may commit after conversion? (Part 2)
In the first part of this three-part series, we discussed five Scriptures which have been used to “prove” the “once saved, always saved”-concept, and showed that these passages do not support this wrong assumption. The proponent who quoted those five passages went on to cite additional Scriptures which allegedly support his view point, stating the following:
“For further reading see also Hebrews 5:9, 10:14, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 John 5:11-13. The scriptural motivation for Christian service should not be fear of losing one’s salvation but rather love to Christ. How tragic that some attend church and read their Bibles driven by the fear that if they do not fulfil these duties they will be cast out. May the Lord graciously reveal the truth of eternal security and the believer’s new position in Christ, that bond-service to Him may become the most blessed freedom of all.”
Let us also address the Scriptures quoted above.
- Hebrews 5:9:
“And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…”
It is somewhat surprising that this verse is used to try and prove the “once saved, always saved” belief. It clearly states that obedience is necessary, not someone who makes a pronouncement that he has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and then goes off the straight and narrow and sins as a matter of lifestyle. The proponents of this understanding believe that sins not yet committed will be automatically forgiven without repentance and asking God for forgiveness. Those who are committed to the Way of Life that God has called us to are obedient as an ongoing commitment and will repent of sins that they engage in and ask God for forgiveness which He will give to the truly repentant.
In 1 John 3:24 we read: “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom [which] He has given us.” There is further proof in 1 John 2:3-4: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” These verses alone should be sufficient to answer the erroneous teaching under discussion.
- Hebrews 10:14:
“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
As is the case with all Scripture, we have to put all the relevant verses together and not just rely on one verse to prove a point. This passage talks about those who are being sanctified. We are not the finished article and that is why we have to endure to the end through testing and tribulation. In this regard, let us review Revelation 2:10-11:
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
We need to be faithful to God even to the point of death, and nothing less will do – and overcoming is again stressed.
There are other Scriptures that are relevant here.
Hebrews 3:12-14 says: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…”
Here Paul was talking to Church members, addressing them as brethren, saying that they could depart from God. If the “once saved, always saved” belief is applied in these cases, then those who were once saved but have departed from the faith will still have their future sins forgiven without any remorse or repentance whilst they are living a life not approved of by God. That is a ridiculous conclusion and one that is not endorsed by the Word of God.
2 Corinthians 13:9-11 says: “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Here, Paul prayed for those who had been saved from their past sins, to aim for perfection, not to veer off the Way that they had been called to. There must have been the possibility that this could happen; otherwise, he wouldn’t have made this urgent plea, but those who may not have heeded such a plea and fell away from the Truth would, according to the “once saved, always saved” proponents, still have their sins forgiven in the future without them repenting or coming back to the faith.
Galatians 6:7-10 says: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
There are two types of sowing here: one to please man’s own sinful nature (the flesh), and one that produces everlasting life through sowing to the Spirit. Those who fall away even though they were saved from past sins at the time of conversion, cannot possibly have future sins forgiven because they will not repent of them and their wrong way of life.
Eternal life is something that will be reaped if true Christians don’t grow weary and give up. If they do give up, as many have over the last 6,000 years, and don’t repent and return to the Way of Life to which they were called, then their future sins will not automatically be forgiven.
- 1 Peter 1:3-5:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
True Christians have been begotten, not yet born again as that will occur at the first resurrection and the same principle of enduring to the end applies once again.
- 1 John 5:11-13:
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
The fact that God has given us eternal life doesn’t mean that this translates into a permanent situation irrespective of what happens after conversion. We must endure, and come through, all of the tests and trials that are set before us; otherwise, it would give us the opportunity to do what we liked and still make it into the Kingdom of God. The Bible nowhere teaches such a scenario; in fact, a few verses later in 1 John 5 we read: “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death” (verses 16-17). This is talking about sin not repented of. However, it doesn’t make any sense to think that sin not repented of would mean the end of physical life but such a person would still be fine with God spiritually speaking if you apply the “once saved, always saved” concept. This passage does not talk about physical death, but it talks about the eternal or second death which we earn when we commit the unpardonable sin. There is plain contradiction in such thinking!
One website opined as follows:
“Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43)” (our emphasis by underlining).
What a contradiction we find here. It states: “Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness.” In short, we need to confess our sins but we don’t always need to be asking for forgiveness!
It is amazing what some people will believe in order to convince themselves that obedience to God and His Commandments is unnecessary!
Keeping in mind the comments above that “we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness” and “believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven,” let us consider what the online biblestudytools.com website has to say:
“Confession of sins is both commanded and frequently illustrated. When one is guilty of various sins, ‘he must confess in what way he has sinned’ in order to receive atonement and forgiveness. Thus, confession belongs to repentance, and is needed for divine forgiveness. A great prophecy/promise is given in the Book of Isaiah: ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins.’
“In the New Testament, the key term for repentance is metanoia – It has two usual senses: a ‘change of mind’ and ‘regret/remorse.’ In both books of Mark and Matthew Jesus began his public proclamation with the call ‘Repent.’ In addition, Paul is said to have preached to both Jews and Gentiles/Greeks to ‘turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.’
“True repentance leads a person to say, ‘I have sinned’ and prove it with a 180-degree change of their direction. Repentance requires true brokenness.”
Romans 3:21-25 states: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…”
Being justified means to be lined up and made right with God by grace which is a gift of God. But that is just the start, the beginning of the Christian life which is a life of growing and overcoming—and enduring to the end.
In the Benson Commentary we read: “For the remission of sins that are past — All the sins antecedent to their believing,” and the Geneva Study Bible states: “Of those sins which we committed when we were his enemies.”
There is no mention here in Romans 3:21-25 of future sins being automatically forgiven and, as we have seen, we have to truly repent of all of our sins and then they will be forgiven. In Romans 2:4 we read: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” God leads us to repentance and it is a very necessary part of the Christian life and we should not just expect our sins to be forgiven without repenting of them.
To clarify, we may die without having recognized all of our sins; and therefore, we would not have repented of them. But this does not mean that God would hold those unknown or unrealized sins against us. God looks at our heart and judges us based on what we know and what He has revealed to us. But once we recognize sin in our life, we must repent of it—God will not forgive those sins when we refuse to repent of them and leave them behind.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Do Banks and the Government Control You?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
According to an article of the Kansas City Star, dated July 27, the “U.S. Department of the Treasury increasingly is urging financial institutions to collect as much information on customers as possible.” As a consequence, banks are asking intrusive and arguably unconstitutional questions of their customers, combined with the threat of freezing or even closing the accounts if those questions are not being answered. According to an article of The Guardian, dated July 19, “an alignment exists between government and financial institutions” with the goal of creating a “cashless society,” thereby adopting the Marxist philosophy of “total governmental control” (Bild Online, July 30). What do these developments mean for you, in the light of biblical prophecy?
“Die Hochzeit des Lammes mit seiner Braut,” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “The Wedding of the Lamb with His Bride.”
“Caught in the Truth,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
It is easy to slide into worldly standards when it comes to the truth. It’s even easier to create your own truth and try to live by it. This is because Satan rules this world today. His influence has turned God’s Truth into a lie and many follow after his deception. We must be found always in the truth if we hope to please God.
“Fight Deception!” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
If you have studied the New Testament, you know that things seemed to unravel in Christianity as the decades passed. Deception overwhelmed many. We face the same battle—just as Jesus warned! Knowing that even greater deception lies ahead, what are Christians supposed to do?
Here are the dates for the 2018 Fall Holy Days:
Feast of Trumpets—September 10
Day of Atonement—September 19
Feast of Tabernacles—September 24-30
Last Great Day—October 1
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.
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