May 3, 2019
We are Pawns; Escaping Sin
On May 4, 2019, Michael Link will present the sermonette, titled, “We are Pawns,” and Norbert Link will present the sermon, titled, “Escaping Sin.”
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.
Close To Home
by Kalon Mitchell
Last Saturday here in San Diego, less than 20 minutes from where we meet in Ramona for Church services, a young man snapped and fired a gun in a synagogue and killed one person, and injured a few others. A senseless and cruel act of hatred! All around the world we are seeing a sharp rise in these types of deadly acts.
It is one thing to read about issues and problems halfway across the globe. But when we are confronted with them in close proximity, or people we know go through instances like the one above, things become much more “real”.
We know from Scripture that the early Church was plagued with many serious issues, including the members being persecuted in various ways. Christ’s bold statements in John 15:20 are a stark realization of what is coming: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.“ And again over in John 16:1-4, Christ warns that these things would happen, then and now. The road of being a Christian has never been an easy one. But the trail is becoming increasingly more difficult with each passing year. When we read Scriptures such as the ones listed next, it becomes evident that we have a NEED to be as close to God as possible: Acts 14:22; 1 Corinthians 4:8-12; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-17; Matthew 10:16-33.
These are very real warnings for our time. We can see the signs of the times as listed above in 2 Timothy 3. We can see from the news and with our own eyes that these types of attitudes and actions are becoming more and more prevalent. From the time when I was a youngster until now, things have dramatically become unstable, and it will only continue to deteriorate.
How prepared are we? We just celebrated the Spring Holy Days, which pictured us removing leavening (symbolic for sin) and drawing close to God. How diligent are we in keeping up with that? Have we started to slip back into our old ways, thoughts or habits? Have we truly worked to put out sin?
What is this Way of Life worth to each of us? Are we willing to stand up for the Truth (Ephesians 6:13-18)? Do we love God’s Way and commandments with ALL of our heart (Matthew 22:37)? Are we seeking Him diligently in all areas of our lives (Isaiah 55:6-7)? Are we willing to give up our lives for this Way of Life (Matthew 10:39; 16:25; John 12:25)? And are we willing to give up things for the Way (Matthew 13:44-46)?
If we are close to God as we should be, we do not need to fear anything. Philippians 4:6 states that we do not need to be anxious about anything, once we set our sight on God and truly learn to lean on Him in faith for ALL of our physical and spiritual needs. 1 Peter 5:6-7 states we need to humble ourselves before God. While this world spirals out of control, each of us should take stock of what we read in Scripture. It is easy to research what the Bible has to say about not fearing, about seeking Him. But when things are easy, we tend to not be ready. Now is the time to prepare and be ready. The return of Christ is close at hand. How ready are each of us for the things that lie ahead? We must take the time and make the effort NOW (Hebrews 3:7-12)!
by Norbert Link
We begin with the horrific murderous attacks of a 19-year-old San Diego student on a synagogue and a mosque and an attempted terrorist attack by an Islamist in Los Angeles; and continue with the insane global military spending.
We report on the failed attempt to find a two-state-solution for Israelis and Palestinians; and we focus on Russia’s ongoing attempts to bring Ukraine into its fold. We also speak on the election results in Spain; the turmoil in Venezuela; murderous actions by North Korea’s dictator; and the way in which the EU rules. We also address further brewing problems between the USA and the EU regarding Cuba.
In the remainder of this section, we address the politics, concepts and most recent actions of the Vatican, as well as witchcraft in Germany.
This Week in the News
Anti-Semitic Violence Can Happen Everywhere!
JTA wrote on April 29:
“Poway’s landscape is textbook Southern California with its tract houses, red-tiled roofs, manicured lawns and palm trees off in the distance. This affluent community of about 50,000, it turns out, is not immune to the gun violence that has made schools and cities across the country synonymous with bloodshed. It’s not immune to the recent wave of anti-Semitic hate that has left toppled tombstones, spray-painted swastikas and, back in October, the 11 dead bodies of mostly elderly synagogue-goers in Pittsburgh.
“But a day after a gunman entered Chabad of Poway, killing congregant Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and injuring three others… the Jewish community here teetered between disbelief (‘Poway of all places?’) and the conviction that in a post-Pittsburgh world, all Jewish communities are possible targets. (‘Yes, even Poway.’)…
“After a gunman motivated by his antipathy for Jewish support for immigrants killed worshippers inside Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue… such an attack was likely to happen again somewhere…”
The Week added on April 30:
“The 19-year-old San Diego man who was charged with murder after a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, on Saturday, was held without bail on Tuesday after pleading not guilty to the alleged crime in his first court appearance. A judge called the alleged shooter, John Earnest, an ‘obvious and extraordinary’ risk to the public. Earnest could face the death penalty if convicted, because he is accused of killing a woman — 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye — based on her religious beliefs, a special circumstance which could circumvent a moratorium on capital punishment. Earnest is also charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of arson after law enforcement linked him to a fire at a mosque in Escondido, California, weeks earlier.”
The suspect’s parents condemned the crime of their son. Why the suspect has pleaded not guilty is a mystery, unless his attorney wants to avoid punishment of his client by pleading temporary insanity. The truth of the matter is that these horrible deeds are being committed under the unrealized direct influence of demons.
Further Violence in Southern California
The Algemeiner wrote on April 30:
“A US combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan who prosecutors say plotted to detonate multiple nail bombs at a Los Angeles-area white nationalist rally, seeking to cause mass casualties, was arrested in an FBI sting operation… [The] US Army infantryman who recently converted to Islam, was taken into custody on Friday after undercover FBI operatives furnished him with what he thought were live bombs to be used in the attack, law enforcement officials said.
“Authorities said the [suspect] came to their attention because of a series of violent extremist messages he posted in online chat rooms, one of which called for ‘retribution’ for the massacre of 50 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a gunman in March.”
It is frightening to contemplate that people like these served and perhaps are still serving in the US military.
Global Military Spending at Its Highest
Reuters wrote on April 29:
“Global military expenditure reached its highest level last year since the end of the Cold War, fueled by increased spending in the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies… In its annual report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said overall global military spending in 2018 hit $1.82 trillion, up 2.6 percent on the previous year… U.S. military spending rose 4.6 percent last year to reach $649 billion, leaving it still by far the world’s biggest spender. It accounted for 36 percent of total global military expenditure, nearly equal to the following eight biggest-spending countries combined…
“China, the second biggest spender, saw military expenditure rise 5.0 percent to $250 billion last year, the 24th consecutive annual increase… In 2018 the USA and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending…
“The other top spenders are, in declining order, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, Britain, Germany, Japan and South Korea. Saudi Arabia… was the biggest per capita spender on defense, just ahead of the United States…”
The more man spends on military expenditure, the closer we come to the possibility of extinction of the human race.
Two State Solution Failed
JTA wrote on April 24:
“Jared Kushner said past negotiations over a two-state solution have ‘failed,’ setting up the likelihood that the peace plan he expects to release soon will include limited autonomy for Palestinians…
“Palestinian leaders have said that anything short of statehood will lead them to demand full representation as voting Israeli citizens. The Palestinian leadership… cut off Kushner and other negotiators after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.”
There will be no peace in the Middle East prior to Christ’s return.
Ukraine—Back to Russia?
Deutsche Welle wrote on April 28:
“The Russian president is already testing Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In fact, Putin’s latest decree can be seen as pseudo-legal preparation for military moves… Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear he is not interested in easing the tension between Moscow and Kyiv. There’s no other way to interpret the decree he issued on Wednesday, which makes it easier for residents of the so-called ‘People’s Republics’… to get Russian passports…
“Putin’s decree is a provocation. What he’s aiming to do is to separate the territories in eastern Ukraine, already effectively occupied by Russia, even more clearly and permanently from the Ukrainian state…”
In fact, it is Putin’s goal to incorporate the entirety of Ukraine into the Russian empire. See the next article.
Bloomberg wrote on April 29:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin said he may extend an offer of citizenship to cover all Ukrainians… Ukraine doesn’t permit dual citizenship and it’s unclear how many people would take up Putin’s offer amid deep divisions between the neighbors…
“Russia will start issuing passports on May 3, with separatist officials and military forces receiving them first… Russia has made similar moves in other breakaway regions in the former Soviet Union and in at least one case used the presence of newly converted citizens as justification for military intervention…
“Ukraine and Russia have shared historical and religious roots, though the bonds of kinship have been strained and even severed…
“The U.S. State Department last week condemned Putin’s decree as ‘highly provocative’ and accused Russia of ‘intensifying its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty.’ Germany and France said in a joint statement that the passport offer ‘contradicts the spirit and goals’ of a stalled 2015 peace agreement intended to resolve the conflict.
“Rebel officials say about 3.6 million people live in the areas under their control. About 360,000 people in separatist-held territory in Donetsk have already obtained Russian passports through ordinary procedures…”
The Bible shows clearly that Ukraine and Russia will combine militarily in opposition to western Europe.
Serbia Back to Russia?
ABC News wrote on May 2:
“Serbia’s pro-Russian defense minister warned Thursday the Balkan country could ditch its European Union membership goals for close ties with Moscow… Although Serbia formally seeks EU membership, its populist leaders have gradually steered Serbia toward its ally Russia. Moscow is a key backer of Serbia’s stance over Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008…
“Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo’s independence… With Kosovo pushing for more involvement from Washington in the negotiations, there have been signs that Serbia may respond by asking for Moscow’s participation.”
Elections in Spain
The Associated Press wrote on April 28:
“Spain’s socialist prime minister says he will consider talks to form a new government only with parties that respect the constitution and promote social justice. Pedro Sánchez declared his party the winner in Sunday’s general election, a ballot in which the far-right made inroads for the first time since Spain returned to democratic rule…
“Vox leader Santiago Abascal has euphorically celebrated his new far-right party’s results in Spain’s general election… He said ‘we told you that we were going to begin a reconquering of Spain and that’s what we have done.’ That is a reference to the 15th-century campaign by Spanish Catholic Kings to end Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula. The 43-year-old Abascal said that the 24 lawmakers from Vox that will sit in Spain’s lower house of parliament will be enough for the party to set the political agenda…
“Vox, which was formed five years ago, has promised to defend Spain from its ‘enemies,’ citing feminists, liberal elites and Muslims among others…”
The resurgence of right-wing populism in Spain is quite interesting and in line with biblical prophecy.
Turmoil in Venezuela
Axios wrote on April 30:
“Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó has taken to the streets alongside newly freed opposition politician Leopoldo López to call on the military to rise up and topple President Nicolás Maduro, a bold step that comes three months into a fierce power struggle…
“Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s interim president in January and was swiftly recognized by the U.S. and a string of other countries, but Maduro has maintained his hold on power. The Trump administration and senior members of Congress have backed today’s high-risk move, while senior members of the Venezuelan regime have denounced what they’ve described as a futile ‘coup attempt.’
“López, one of Venezuela’s best-known politicians, was detained in 2014 for organizing anti-Maduro protests and had been under house arrest. He claimed to have been freed ‘by members of the security forces responding to an order by Guaidó’…
“‘As [López] spoke on a highway overpass, troops loyal to Maduro sporadically fired tear gas from inside the adjacent Carlota air base as the crowd of a few hundred civilians, some of them brandishing Venezuelan flags, scurried for cover,’ the AP reports. ‘The crowd swelled to a few thousand as people sensed what could be their strongest opportunity yet to overthrow the government after months of turmoil that has seen Maduro withstand an onslaught of protests and international pressure with the support of his top military command and allies such as Russia and Cuba…
“As the world has waited for a decisive moment in the Maduro-Guaidó showdown, the suffering of the Venezuelan people has only intensified. The U.S. has ratcheted up sanctions, arguing that Venezuela’s economic crisis will never end until Maduro leaves power… Russia has sent troops in support of Maduro, and China has also defended the regime.”
Deutsche Welle added on April 30:
“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Maduro was ready to go into exile in Cuba but was persuaded by Russia to stay. President Donald Trump has called on Cuba to immediately cease its military support for Venezuela.”
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 1:
“Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro appeared on state television alongside military and intelligence officers on Wednesday to announce that ‘loyal and obedient’ troops had successfully quashed a failed coup attempt by self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido… despite small numbers of defections from the armed forces, there has been no mass exodus… Maduro said Guaido’s actions ‘will not go unpunished….’
“In his television address, Maduro claimed Guaido had initiated the current uprising to create a pretext for a US military intervention. Although Pompeo said the US wants a peaceful transfer of power, he warned… ‘The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do…’”
The situation in Venezuela might also lead to further deteriorating relationships between the USA and Russia, Cuba and China.
North Korea’s Murderous Dictatorship
The Daily Mail wrote on April 24:
“Four North Korean officials have reportedly been executed for selling information to the US ahead of the failed nuclear arms meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump… The four workers, all said to be from the foreign ministry, were allegedly killed by firing squad after talks in Vietnam between the two countries broke down… News of the alleged killings comes as North Korean media reported Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, had been ‘demoted’ from at least one of her titles within the party in the wake of the failed nuclear summit…
“Kim Jong-un’s top adviser and key negotiator with the U.S. on denuclearisation was also removed from his post earlier this month, South Korean officials said. Kim Yong Chol, known as the leader’s most trusted policy adviser, was dropped as head of the United Front Department. He appears to have been ‘censured’ after the second Trump-Kim summit failed to reach a deal on the sanctions relief Pyongyang would get in exchange for dismantling its nuclear programme.”
When you want to work for a murderous dictator, this is what you get…
How the EU Makes Anti-Israel Politics by Ignoring Dissenting Member State
The EUObserver wrote on May 1:
“The EU just de facto ignored Hungary’s veto on a statement on Israel, prompting questions on how it makes foreign policy decisions. Hungary objected to the EU statement at the UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York at the last minute on Monday (29 April). But Finland read it out anyway at the UNSC meeting, in a game of protocol niceties laced with irritation. The Finnish ambassador to the UN, Kai Sauer, said: ‘I have the honour to speak on behalf of …’ the 27 EU countries which he listed, omitting Hungary.
“But his subsequent statement used language that made mockery of Hungary’s opinion. ‘The EU expresses serious concerns about the current trends … threatening the viability of the two-state solution,’ it said. It spoke of ‘the European Union’s position’ on Israeli settlements and said ‘the European Union’ was ‘alarmed’ by Palestinian deaths. It also spoke in the EU’s name on Israel’s use of live ammunition and to urge good treatment of a human rights activist called Omar Shakir.
“Finland read out the statement on grounds it will take over the rotating EU presidency from Romania in July. Romania would normally have done it, a Finnish diplomat told EUobserver, but did not do so because the sitting EU presidency ought to speak on behalf of all 28 member states…
“The UNSC veto marked the fifth time that Hungary torpedoed a public EU statement on Israel in the past two years. It sometimes acted with pro-Israeli EU allies, such as the Czech Republic, and sometimes alone…
“EU foreign policy is meant to be agreed by consensus, but the European Commission has proposed to introduce majority voting to help it ‘speak with one voice’… The idea was anathema to Hungary and Poland… But the two most powerful EU states – France and Germany – backed the move. Some medium-sized countries, such as Belgium and The Netherlands, also voiced a positive attitude. The handling of the UNSC statement on Israel indicated that the EU majority is now moving in that direction.”
This is also pointing to the establishment of core Europe, consisting of less than all the member states.
“New US policy on Seized Property in Cuba Threatens EU”
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 2:
“A Trump administration law amendment to allow US nationals to file lawsuits against foreign companies doing business in Cuba came into effect on Thursday. The major policy shift sets the stage for fresh economic disputes between the US and Europe…
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the US will allow lawsuits against foreign companies operating on properties that were seized from Americans during the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Pompeo said anyone doing business in Cuba ‘should heed this announcement.’…
“The European Union, which is Cuba’s largest trading partner, has warned it would take ‘appropriate measures’ if the US tries to interfere in business ties between sovereign states…
“The Trump administration has angered European allies in the past over its withdrawal from the Paris climate accords and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. There are also trade disputes brewing between Washington and Brussels…”
Pushing Russia into China’s Arms?
The EUObserver wrote on May 2:
“‘The EU is the world’s village idiot’, Le Pen said in Copenhagen, referring to Europe’s free trade policies, open markets and borders.
“French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, is campaigning to ‘save’ Europe by transforming it into what she calls a De Gaulle-inspired ‘Alliance of Nations’. She also warns against pushing Russia into the arms of China. French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, has shelved ‘Frexit’ plans to leave the European Union and she no longer wants France to quit the euro.”
Vatican Endorses EU Superstate
Breitbart wrote on April 26:
“The European Union (EU) is ‘an example of what could become a supranational state,’ according to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in the lead-up to a major conference against nationalism… the Vatican insists on describing nationalism in exclusively negative terms, opening its ‘Concept Note’ for its May 1-3 conference by saying that the world ‘is facing today a growing threat of nationalist revival,’ which ‘leads to mutual rejection and enduring conflicts.’”
According to the Bible, the Catholic Church patterned its governmental structure after the civil administration of the former Roman Empire and its European revivals.
Evangelization More Important than Doctrine
Crux wrote on April 22:
“A new ‘super dicastery’ on evangelization might be one of the most significant reforms of the governing structures of the Vatican, according to a new report… The biggest novelty in the document, called Praedicate Evangelium [‘Preach the Gospel’], will be the creation of the ‘super dicastery’ for evangelization, which will potentially be more important than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), often called ‘The Supreme Congregation.’
“Having its roots in the Roman Inquisition, the doctrinal office is the oldest among the congregations of the Roman Curia, and insiders still call it the Holy Office, as it’s tasked with promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine and defending the Church from heresy. Today, in addition to defending doctrine, it is also tasked with judging priests who’ve been accused of sexually abusing minors, with 17 officials dedicated almost exclusively to this task.”
This might point at the Catholic Church’s desire to gather its daughter churches under its all-encompassing umbrella, while not forsaking its core doctrines and practices…
Suppression of Documentary through Catholic Church
AFP wrote on April 30:
“A hit documentary about how some Catholic priests allegedly abused nuns in different parts of the world has been pulled from the Franco-German television channel Arte after a priest complained to a German court. The big-budget media investigation, ‘Sex Slaves in the Catholic Church’, was broadcast in March and has been sold widely internationally since.
“Its broadcast came weeks after Pope Francis admitted that some rogue priests had used nuns as ‘sexual slaves’ and that the Vatican had to dissolve a French order because its founder was preying on its sisters. The Vatican’s women’s magazine, Women Church World, also reported that some nuns had been forced into having abortions.
“Arte told AFP Tuesday that it was forced to pull the documentary from its replay site earlier this month after a press tribunal in Hamburg slapped a temporary injunction on the film following a complaint from a priest. The tribunal told AFP the priest complained that, while he was not shown in the documentary, he was ‘recognizable’ from an interview given by a nun. In the interview, the nun ‘gave the impression that the priest had forced a nun into sex against her will’.
“The priest was not identified in publication of the complaint. The channel said it was challenging the decision. The film has been the most-watched documentary of the year so far on the French arm of the channel, seen by 1.5 million people live and a further 1.7 million on replay. The film was made over three years by French director Marie-Pierre Raimbault and investigative journalist Eric Quintin, who collected the testimony of nuns whose allegations had been ignored or hidden by the hierarchy across four continents.”
The court’s shaky and quite obviously political injunction is a shameful testimony of the collaboration between church and state and the power of the Catholic Church and its priests.
Witchcraft in Germany
The Local wrote on April 30:
“Germany and witchcraft? Well, let’s just say they both have quite the history. The lands that make up modern Germany were the scene of some of the bloodiest persecutions of ‘witches’ from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Despite this, ‘the old ways’ still do persist in the German popular imagination, most prominently in what we know as Walpurgisnacht – the evening of April 30th… The night is also sometimes known as Hexenbrennen – the burning of witches… this reputation as a bastion of pagan superstition, coupled with the growing hysteria around witchcraft led many to believe that the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains was the scene of ‘Witches’ Sabbaths’. These were, allegedly, wild and orgiastic convocations where gathered witches would meet with Satan and plot all sorts of trouble over the coming year.
“In order to keep witches away and avoid their curses, local villagers would come together and light bonfires – a throwback to older beliefs about the warding power of flame… [Subsequently, far] from keeping witches away, the festivities began to celebrate the witch as a kind of fairytale succubus, with all that entails… In the 21st century, Walpurgisnacht is both a beloved local tradition and a huge tourist draw throughout the Harz Mountains…”
Ignorant and foolish people who participate today in the celebration of Walpurgisnacht don’t realize with whom they are coming in contact.
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.
Why do Church members leave the Truth so quickly?
It is an interesting phenomenon which has been observed over the years, that many of those who have been considered Church members leave the Church of God in a rather sudden manner, and that they immediately turn to the wrong things and behavior patterns which they rejected, while “in” the Church. This abrupt rejection of the Truth can be stunning and confusing if we don’t understand why this is happening.
There are certainly numerous reasons which we could address. In this Q&A, we want to focus on the more obvious ones. But first, we want to show from the Bible that such conduct is indeed prophesied. It happened already in the days of the apostle Paul and before, and it has continued to happen ever since, while it will be finding its climax in the days just ahead of us.
After Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s death in 1986, a new administration came to power which began, slowly but surely, to water down and finally change outright the core doctrines of the Church. When they finally ended up doing away with the observance of the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, the teaching of clean and unclean meat and tithing, vast groups of Church members quickly followed their wrong teaching. The very same day when Mr. Tkach, the “successor” to Mr. Armstrong, gave his infamous sermon on these above-mentioned topics, many members went out that same evening to eat pork. Again, the question is, why and how could something like this happen that quickly?
Over the years, when members disassociated themselves from the Church, they immediately began to eat pork, celebrate Christmas and Easter, and reject the observance of the weekly and annual Sabbaths. We ask again, how could it happen?
The apostle Paul wondered about the same phenomenon. He phrases his puzzling observations in these terms in Galatians 1:6-7: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Christ warned in the parable of the sower that some would hear and immediately receive the word with joy, but because they have no root in themselves, they only endure for a while and when problems come, they immediately stumble and leave (Matthew 13:20-21). Others may hear the word but don’t really understand it (even though they may think that they do), and so Satan comes and immediately snatches away what was sown in their hearts (Matthew 13:19; Mark 4:15). In all these cases, their departure from the Truth comes quickly and suddenly.
When someone detaches himself and cuts himself off from Christ as the vine, he will wither away (John 15:1-6). This process occurs quickly. Christ showed us how quickly this can happen when He cursed the unfruitful fig tree. We read that “immediately the fig tree withered away” (Matthew 21:19), so that the disciples asked, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” (verse 20).
God warned the entire nation of Israel that if they were not to obey Him but rather do evil in His sight to provoke Him to anger, they would “soon utterly perish” and be “utterly destroyed” (Deuteronomy 4:25-26). At the time of Moses, Israel “turned aside quickly out of the way” which God commanded them, by building a golden calf (Exodus 32:8).
When God opens our minds to His Truth, He wants us to change for the better. It is not enough to hear the word and even accept it, but we must carry out what we know. If we refuse to do so, we cut ourselves off from the vine and we will wither away… and it will happen quickly and suddenly. James 1:22-25 tells us: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
God is patient with us, but there comes a time when His patience runs out. When we refuse to repent and just attend the church for “show,” perhaps for improper ulterior motives or because it looks good and is expected, then He will take away what we had or thought we had. The parable of the talents is quite revealing in this regard. The lazy servant who refused to use the talent which had been given to him, but buried it in the ground, found himself deprived of it (Matthew 25:24-29). God took away from him whatever knowledge He had given him. Being without spiritual knowledge, a person withers away and returns soon to the pollution of this world which he had left behind for a while.
2 Peter 2:20-22 explains very succinctly:
“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’”
The key to proper understanding in this context is: It will happen quickly because God will have decided to withdraw from them by taking away His knowledge from them (which might have motivated them not to sin) and becoming “a swift witness” against them (Malachi 3:5).
When we really commit to God and His Church, we do so after having proven to ourselves what the Truth is and where it is being taught (Romans 12:2). We convinced ourselves that the Truth of God is most important to us, which we would never forsake… under no circumstances. We counted the costs before becoming baptized (Luke 14:28) with the commitment never to forsake this Way of Life (compare Luke 9:62). We did not act hastily, on the spur of a moment. Isaiah 28:16 reads: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; WHOEVER BELIEVES WILL NOT ACT HASTILY.”
In our Q&A on this passage, we stated: “Many, who are not really called by God to salvation, act very ‘hastily’ or ‘with excitement’ when they hear God’s Word proclaimed to them… As the recent history in the Church of God has shown, many who supposedly had ‘started’ did not continue. They just gave up, embracing the pleasures and philosophies of this world, which they supposedly left behind when they ‘embraced’ God’s Way of life… Many once seemingly understood those teachings… How much time had they spent PROVING the Truth to themselves? Were they EVER converted?…
“A true Christian who believes in God the Father and Jesus Christ, and who is willing to OBEY them, will not act ‘hastily.’ He understands that his decision to follow God, and to be baptized as a consequence, is a life-long commitment…”
Many of those who attended the Church and subsequently left it were never truly converted, as John explains in 1 John 2:15-19:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
John is saying that the love of the Father (which is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us at the time of baptism, cp. Romans 5:5) was not in them; that is, they never received God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit might have been working with them, giving them some spiritual knowledge (John 14:17), but their love for the world never died, until it finally conquered them once again.
When that happened, all godly knowledge disappeared, and the person departed quickly and suddenly, deprived of spiritual understanding and being enslaved again and held captive (2 Timothy 2:26) by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Pride can be an important factor in motivating a person to forsake the Truth. Pride was King Saul’s downfall… he was once little in his own sight, but then pride overtook him, and he became rebellious against God’s Law.
When we don’t prove the Truth to ourselves and LOVE it, we will walk away when the opportunity arises, and we will do so quickly and suddenly. Paul prophesies this and warns us at the same time, in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12:
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion [as they will be deprived of spiritual knowledge], that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
As mentioned, this will occur quickly at that future time, but the principle of sudden departure from the Truth has been in operation all along. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 gives us this timeless warning: “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”
However, we read in 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.” This would also apply to those who have left God’s Church. God wants them to accept His gift of repentance (Romans 2:4) and return to Him, even if this means becoming baptized (again) to receive for the first time God’s Spirit and with it the love of God (which is the keeping of God’s commandments, 1 John 5:3). Even though they departed quickly, God is quick to forgive upon genuine and sincere godly repentance. The choice is theirs.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
A new Member Letter (April 2019) has been written and posted. Dave Harris reports on behalf of the ministry about the recent Church Conference and news from Germany.
“What’s Russia Up To?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
What does the Bible say about the future of Russia and its relationship to other nations, including Ukraine, North Korea, the USA and the EU? How do current developments, including in Serbia and Venezuela, indicate to us that prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes?
“Warum verwirft man die Wahrheit so schnell?“ is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Why does one reject the Truth so quickly?”
Morning and Afternoon sermonettes and sermons for the Last Day of Unleavened Bread are now posted on our website. The German messages from the Last Day of Unleavened Bread and from last Sabbath were also posted on our German website.
“Be Careful With Your Words,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
How important does God think our words are? Will we be judged by what we say? What outcome is there for using wrong language?
“Reluctant Heroes,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Brian Gale, is now posted. Here is a summary:
This sermon shows that quite a number of the great men of the Bible weren’t scrambling to be at the head of the queue when it came to leadership, position, power and authority. They were, in fact, reluctant heroes.
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, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom