|Faith in the Little Things / Are You Watching?
|Never Give Up
|This Week in the News
|Does God Love Everyone? Does the Bible Teach Unconditional Love? (Part 3)
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Faith in the Little Things / Are You Watching?
On May 20, 2023, Eric Rank will present the sermonette, titled, “Faith in the Little Things,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “Are You Watching?”
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.
Never Give Up
by Paul Niehoff (Australia)
We are living today in a very uncertain world. It is a world with wars occurring in Ukraine and Sudan and rumours of a potential war with China over Taiwan. There is a disagreement over the lifting of the US federal debt ceiling between the White House and Congress which has the potential of causing severe economic problems. And there are also forecasts of further pandemics. Then there is a concern about who will be the next president of the USA and what will he do? Will he improve matters or make them worse?
How can we have confidence living in this world? In reality, there is only one Being we can rely upon, and that is our God and the promises He has made. We can look at some of them here and we can also look at the examples of the apostles and understand why they never gave up till their death. And, of course, we need to remember that when God makes a promise, He does not withdraw it. Numbers 23:19 informs us that, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
When the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, knowing that there were strong nations occupying the land, God encouraged them by saying: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
There are many other promises for God protecting us and providing for us which would greatly expand the Editorial if they were all listed. But there is one that is particularly encouraging to those of us of a more mature age. That’s found in Isaiah 46:3-4: “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, And even to grey hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” This passage has similarities to the poem “Footprints in the Sand” which is quite well-known.
Some of God’s people who had severe trials were the apostles. We read about much of what Paul went through in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Peter and other apostles were imprisoned and beaten for doing the Work of God. That is related to the early chapters of the book of Acts. So why were they willing to go through this punishment? What Paul wrote, possibly in the midst of him doing his part of God’s Work, in Romans 8:18, gives us the reason: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Also, in his last epistle, just before his martyrdom, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, we read, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
So, in his writings, the apostle Paul is encouraging us to look to the wonderful future God has promised us. The apostle Peter also encourages us as his time to die was approaching. He acknowledges this in 2 Peter 1:14, “…knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” A nice way to say that he would soon die. Later in the same book, Peter reminds us to look toward the future. We read in 2 Peter 3:13, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
There will be trials and difficulties ahead, but we can hold onto the promise in Hebrews 13:5-6: “….For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
So, we must all look to the future in God’s Kingdom when all the difficulties of this life will be behind us, and we will consider them totally insignificant compared with the wonderful eternal life God has in store for us.
by Norbert Link
We begin with developments in Turkey which will have significant importance for the entire world; continue with the rocky relationship between Ukraine and Germany; quote interesting warnings from Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, regarding the unification of Europe; and address French President Macron’s alarming viewpoint which may or may not be shared by some of the European nations.
We speak on the growing military collaboration between Russia and China; the Durham report; and we conclude with an article about the “curse of conscription.”
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
Elections in Turkey
The Huffington Post wrote on May 12:
“Voters are headed to the polls this Sunday in Turkey for the country’s general election, which has been described as the most consequential global election contest of the year. The stakes are incredibly high for the country and the world, and for incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is narrowly trailing in the polls as he seeks a third term. The head of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has been in power for over 20 years and is the country’s longest-serving leader.
“But the stakes are also high for the opposition, which at last appears to have a real shot at victory… Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the center-left Republican People’s Party, or CHP, was picked to face off with Erdogan by the Table of Six, a coalition made up of six opposition parties… The election is tight, but Erdogan is currently behind in the polls… If no candidate secures 50% of the vote in the first round, there will be a runoff contest on May 28…
“Voters are increasingly turning on Erdogan due to the failed response to the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria and killed over 50,000 people earlier this year — the majority in Turkey… The government has been criticized for taking too long to deploy the military and rescue teams to some of the most affected areas after the earthquake. The several buildings that collapsed also exposed the cozy relationship the government had with many construction companies and the lack of enforcement of building regulations despite its pledge to deliver safe housing.
“Many voters are also unhappy with Erdogan’s handling of the economy. He made the unorthodox decision to cut interest rates at a time when most governments and central banks around the world are raising them in response to inflation. That caused the value of the country’s currency, the Turkish lira, to tumble, meaning many Turks can barely afford everyday goods…
“Many voters, including religious conservatives, may not be ready to turn their backs on the current president, and others may think he is more tested than the alternative…
“Turkey has seen a steady erosion of media freedom and political expression under Erdogan… In the aftermath of the earthquake, the country’s media regulator sought to fine three broadcasters who were critical of Erdogan for their coverage of the natural disaster response. Independent journalists have also been slapped with fines and criminal investigations… Erdogan has also tried to jail his political opponents and those critical of his government…”
That Erdogan has acted as an autocratic ruler is beyond doubt.
Why Does the Outcome Matter to the World?
In a related article, The Huffington Post wrote on May 12:
“Erdogan, a Putin ally, reportedly helped the Kremlin get past some sanctions last year. Turkish companies exported goods to at least 10 Russian companies that were sanctioned by the U.S. for their role in the war… The two countries maintain an important relationship as it relates to energy supplies and Russia is also building Turkey’s first nuclear plant, which is set to be ready next year. An Erdogan defeat could mean the country would reassess its ties to the Kremlin, but not necessarily fully sever them.
“Erdogan has stalled NATO expansion efforts and is currently blocking Sweden’s entry…
“The outcome of the election could also have repercussions for the European Union. While Turkey at one point gained candidate status and was engaged in talks to join the bloc, those negotiations were put on hold for a number of reasons… some officials worry that a Kilicdaroglu win would reignite ascension talks at a time when some member countries appear weary of what the potential entry of a huge country would mean…
“The U.S. and Turkey have also had a tense relationship in recent years, triggered by Ankara’s decision to buy missile defense systems from Russia… Kilicdaroglu… didn’t clarify how the relationship between the two NATO countries would be repaired.”
Prophetically, Turkey (biblical Edom) will align with Europe against Israel (the state of Israel and also perhaps the USA). The Bible does not indicate a strong end-time military alliance between Turkey and Russia. For more information on Turkey’s future, please read chapter 6 of our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.”
Runoff Election on May 28
Reuters reported on May 13:
“Turkey headed for a runoff vote after President Tayyip Erdogan led over his opposition rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Sunday’s election but fell short of an outright majority to extend his 20-year rule of the NATO-member country. Neither Erdogan nor Kilicdaroglu cleared the 50% threshold needed to avoid a second round, to be held on May 28, in an election seen as a verdict on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian path.
“The presidential vote will decide not only who leads Turkey but also whether it reverts to a more secular, democratic path, how it will handle its severe cost of living crisis, and manage key relations with Russia, the Middle East and the West…
“With almost 97% of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan led with 49.39% of votes and Kilicdaroglu had 44.92%, according to state-owned news agency Anadolu… The results reflected deep polarization in a country at a political crossroads. The vote was set to hand Erdogan’s ruling alliance a majority in parliament, giving him a potential edge heading into the runoff…
“A third nationalist presidential candidate, Sinan Ogan, stood at 5.3% of the vote. He could be a ‘kingmaker’ in the runoff…”
Shockingly, almost 80% of Turks living in Germany voted for Erdogan.
Is Germany Really Ukraine’s “True Friend”?
AFP wrote on May 14:
“Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday called Germany a ‘true friend and reliable ally’ in his country’s battle against Russia… Zelenskyy’s trip to Germany follows meetings in Rome with Italian leaders and the pope, and comes as Kyiv is preparing a much-anticipated counter-offensive… Once accused of reticence in supplying military gear to Ukraine, Germany has since become a major contributor of tanks, rockets and anti-missile systems.
“On the occasion of Zelenskyy’s visit, Berlin unveiled its biggest armaments package for Ukraine yet, including tanks, missile defence systems and combat vehicles worth 2.7 billion euros… He is also expected to head to the western German city of Aachen, which this year is awarding him and the Ukrainian people the Charlemagne prize — an honour awarded for efforts to foster European unity…
“Zelenskyy’s visit rounds off over a year of choppy relations with Germany… Early on in the conflict, Kyiv had accused Germany of being too accommodating to Russian President Vladimir Putin, while Berlin’s reliance on Russian energy had proved tricky…
“Britain this week announced it was sending Storm Shadow missiles, becoming the first country to send longer-range arms to Kyiv. Russia described it as ‘an extremely hostile step’ and on Saturday accused Kyiv of using the British missiles to target civilian sites in eastern Ukraine, wounding six children. In Rome, Zelenskyy said he discussed with Pope Francis the fate of ‘tens of thousands of children’ that Kyiv says were deported to Russia, as well as his plans for peace…”
The Associated Press added on May 14:
“While German leaders have expressed strong backing for Ukraine, German voters are divided on whether the country should provide further weapons, particularly advanced fighter jets of the kind Kyiv is asking its allies for.”
Die Welt wrote on May 14:
“Germany was a difficult ally for Ukraine for a long time… It was only under pressure from the USA that Scholz gave in and promised self-propelled howitzers and multiple rocket launchers… The Chancellor also categorically refused the western tanks that Kiev had requested just a few months after the start of the war, for almost a year with varying reasons. Only when the pressure from the allies became too great, did he forge a tank coalition at the beginning of the year, which has now promised 70 modern Leopard 2 tanks and over 100 Leopard 1 tanks, some of which have been delivered…
“The new, cooperative style… could also make it more difficult than before to refuse further requests from Ukraine. Ukraine is working on ‘creating a fighter jet coalition,’ Zelenskyy says on Sunday. He will also contact the German side for this. Scholz looks stoically straight ahead and repeats the types of weapons that are currently being delivered. ‘That’s what Germany is concentrating on,’ says the Chancellor… He emphasized twice that Germany is now in second place in the arms supplier ranking… For Zelenskyj… that is not enough. ‘We hope that Germany will become our biggest supporter,’ he says… The sentence that Ukraine must win did not cross Scholz’s lips that day either.”
Germany’s conduct towards Russia and Ukraine has been more than duplicitous. Often, a far-too-rosy picture of the current friendly relationship between Germany and Ukraine is being presented.
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 17:
“Germany says it cannot join an international coalition to provide Ukraine with air combat capabilities. ‘We cannot play an active role in such an alliance, in such a coalition, because we have neither the training capacities, the competencies or the planes,’ German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said after meeting his British counterpart in Berlin.
“British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said the UK won’t donate fighter aircraft, but ‘what we can, obviously contribute, is training and support, again, within limits because we don’t have F16 pilots.’”
In fact, Germany has declared that it will NOT provide Ukraine with fighter jets. It stated that the US would have to make the decision.
Once Germany’s faltering and failing government is replaced, things will again dramatically change. Please view our recent StandingWatch program, “Is Europe REALLY Supporting Ukraine?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0F5GQZZQ5g
To Strike Or Not to Strike?
The Guardian added on May 14:
“Zelenskiy stressed that while Kyiv would discuss peace initiatives from other states, any proposals had to be based on Ukraine’s position and its peace plan… Kyiv has previously said it wants to regain every part of its land currently occupied by Russian forces and it will not be willing to make territorial concessions. Moscow says it controls the Crimean peninsula and four other Ukraine regions: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk.”
Express added on May 14:
“The Ukrainian president told reporters [in Berlin] on Sunday that his country had no plans to attack Russian territory, and was only interested in regaining occupied land. Top secret US documents leaked online said Zelensky had proposed ‘strikes in Russia’ and attacks on the invader’s soil so his country would be in a better position to negotiate peace.
“In one classified file seen by the Washington Post, Zelensky also suggested Ukraine could ‘blow up’ a vital pipeline between NATO member Hungary and Russia. Another intelligence document seen by the Post revealed that President Zelensky wanted to attack ‘unspecified locals in Rostov,’ a Russian city near the Ukrainian border…”
It is sometimes difficult to ascertain who is telling the truth.
Viktor Orbán Compares the EU Project with Hitler’s Power Plans
Der Spiegel wrote on May 12:
“Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, compared the EU’s European unification project with Adolf Hitler’s plans for rule. Since the end of the Roman Empire, there have been efforts to restore the empire to its territory, said the right-wing populist in the western Hungarian city of Veszprem. ‘Byzantium, Charlemagne, (the German Emperor) Otto, Napoleon and Hitler – they all dreamed of European unity, on different bases.’
“Today is no different,” Orbán added. ‘The separate national existence and the idea of the empire are present at the same time. National culture and European values. Sovereignty and – as they put it in Brussels – the ‘ever closer union’. The latter term… is in the preamble of the EU Basic Treaty of Lisbon, which applies to all member states.
“Hungary joined the EU in 2004. Orbán, who has governed his country in a more or less authoritarian manner since 2010, has repeatedly fought against the obligations arising from EU membership… Regarding the head of government’s recent derailment, Hungarian opposition leader Ferenc Gyurcsàny said: ‘This person is sick.’ To mention Hitler together with the European idea is ‘a sick, disgusting thought’…”
Orbán described accurately most of the European revivals of the Roman Empire. He missed Charles V., as well as three barbarian nations prior to Emperor Justinian (referred to by Orbán as “Byzantium”). The final and last revival will indeed turn out to be an autocratic, anti-democratic military power bloc. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
EU Must Be “Christian”
Hungary Today wrote on May 9:
“The Hungarian government is working every day to make Europe Christian, the Justice Minister said in Budapest on Monday. The minister referred to the words of Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, who said that Europe will either be Christian or it will not be. Judit Varga said that what is successful in Hungary ‘can also be successful on a large scale in Europe,’ which is why conservative values are being upheld…
“Hungary celebrates peace and unity in Europe on May 9, the day commemorating the Schuman declaration, which is seen as the beginning of the road to the EU…”
The question is, WHAT kind of Christianity will Europe embrace? It will NOT be the Christianity of the Bible.
France vs. the USA
Modern Diplomacy wrote on May 13:
“Macron’s visit to Beijing stirred up controversy, causing divisions within the European Union and between EU countries and the United States. His comments on the need for Europe to achieve strategic independence from America were met with surprise and criticism from some EU countries and the US, who accused him of promoting Gaullism and ingratitude towards America’s contributions to the West, including France.
“Macron believes that the real battle for Europe lies in establishing itself as a powerful political, economic, and military bloc alongside the major global players such as the US, Russia, and China. He views the conflict in Ukraine as a systematic assault on Europe, which underscores the need for Europe to act in its own interests rather than those of others.
“During his visit, Macron reaffirmed France’s support for the ‘one China’ policy, recognizing Beijing as the sole legitimate representative of China and Taiwan as an inalienable part of China. He urged Europeans to adopt an independent stance on the Taiwan issue, calling for peaceful resolution based on Beijing’s proposal of ‘one country, two systems.’…
“President Macron appears to have had enough of the internal protests in France, which have been fueled by the country’s poor economic conditions, high prices, energy losses, and other issues. He believes that the United States bears a significant responsibility for these problems, particularly after canceling the French Australian submarine deal worth an estimated 35 billion euros. The US persuaded Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines under a new deal with the US and Britain, known as Aukus, causing France to suffer significant financial losses…
“During the war in Ukraine, the US requested that European countries participate in the economic blockade on Moscow and not buy gas from Russia in exchange for America’s pledge to supply European countries with gas. However, the price of American gas was significantly higher than that of Russian gas, leading to additional burdens on the French citizen…
“Since becoming president in 2017, Macron has called for strengthening Europe to lead the world by forming a unified European force. He has advocated for the formation of a European army, so that Europe would not remain dependent on NATO, which today consists of 30 European countries as well as America. He believes that leadership should be in European hands, specifically in the hands of France, due to its significant role in the international arena and extensive colonial history. In 2019, Macron declared NATO clinically dead and advocated for seeking another form of alliance in which Europe would have a leading position…
“French support for Ukraine in its war against Moscow was limited compared to that of other European countries. As a result, some European countries, particularly Western European countries, severely criticized Macron for seeking Chinese President Xi’s intervention and employing his relationship with Moscow to persuade it to find a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis…
“The United States believes that any international system will have only one seat for the European continent, which will most likely go to Germany. Germany seeks to rebuild its military force, allocating an additional budget of 100 billion euros to make its army the largest and strongest in Europe. Additionally, the German economy is the largest on the European continent, contributing 27% of all European industries, followed by Italy with 16% and France with only 11%… It appears that French-American relations will not easily return to their previous state… France has taken practical steps towards distancing itself from its alliance with the US in favor of its own interests, particularly in cooperation with Beijing…
“Macron’s statement on the importance of reducing dependence on the US dollar was seen as a stab by Washington, leading to great indignation in Eastern and Central Europe and parts of Western Europe, where countries felt that his statements were focused on France, not the EU. Hungary’s Prime Minister was seemingly the only leader to support Macron, and he also supported Russia in its war against Ukraine, questioning the usefulness of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow…”
Even though some European nations may not like Macron’s assertions, they may not really disagree with him. In any event, France is a far-too-powerful country in Europe just to be ignored. Ultimately, Macron’s viewpoints will prevail.
Growing Military Collaboration Between Russia and China
ABC News wrote on May 13:
“Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi expressed concern Saturday about Russian and Chinese military cooperation in Asia and said the security situation in Europe could not be separated from that in the Indo-Pacific region… Japan firmly backs Ukraine in the war but China says it remains neutral while declaring a ‘no limits’ relationship with Moscow and blaming the U.S. and NATO for provoking the conflict…
“‘China and Russia are strengthening their military collaboration, including joint flights of their bombers and joint naval exercises in the vicinity of Japan,’ Hayahshi said. China, which claims most of the South China Sea as well as Japanese-held islands in the East China Sea, says it has the right to defend its sovereignty and development interests.
“Hayashi also warned that North Korea was ‘escalating provocations’ in the region by conducting ballistic missile launches ‘with a frequency and in a manner that are unprecedented.’… Some of the Indo-Pacific countries, including India and Pakistan, have called for an end to the Ukraine war but stopped short of condemning Russia for it…”
The Bible prophesies that a mighty power bloc, hostile towards Europe, will develop in the Far East, called the “kings of the East,” and all indications are that countries such as Russia, China, North Korea and India will be part of that bloc. Other countries, such as Iran, will support this bloc. The future role of Japan is less clear.
Release of Durham Report—“FBI Acted Improperly”
Breitbart wrote on May 15:
“The long-awaited report by Special Counsel John Durham tasked to look into the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for Russian collusion was released Monday…
“Durham’s 300-page report found a damning conclusion: ‘Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report. Our investigation also revealed that senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons and entities,’ Durham’s report said, in apparent reference to the Hillary Clinton’ [campaign]…
“Durham said the Justice Department and FBI acted without ‘appropriate objectivity or restraint in pursuing allegations of collusion or conspiracy between a U.S. political campaign and a foreign power,’ he said. He also said the FBI used a different standard when it came to looking at Clinton’s campaign…
“Democrat members of Congress such as Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell also repeatedly claimed there was evidence of collusion, but failed to produce any. Earlier this year, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy kicked both members off the House Intelligence Committee due to their repeated and unfounded accusations of collusion, as well as an alleged sexual relationship with a Chinese spy in Swalwell’s case….”
Fox News added on May 17:
“The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board condemned the FBI and its media allies for pushing the Russia collusion narrative against former President Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign and the years following his election. After consulting Special Counsel John Durham’s final 306-page report on the Russian collusion probe that dropped this week, the board claimed it ‘makes clear that a partisan FBI became a funnel for disinformation from the Hillary Clinton campaign through a secret investigation the bureau never should have launched.’
“The board declared that Durham’s report is ‘a damning account of the corruption of the FBI and its accomplices,’ and claimed it ‘gives a fuller picture of the FBI’s complicity under former director James Comey and deputy Andrew McCabe.’… In conclusion, the Wall Street Journal called the ‘Russia collusion [a] fabrication and deceptive sale to the public’ a ‘travesty that shouldn’t be forgotten.’
The corruption and the political role of the Justice Department, the FBI and the left-wing mass media are appalling.
The Curse of Conscription
The Future of Freedom Foundation published the following article on May 12:
“One of the interesting aspects of the Russia-Ukraine war is that the regimes in both countries have resorted to conscription to get soldiers to ‘serve their country.’…
“With conscription, the state commands a citizen to report to a military facility, where he is forced to become an employee of the state, at a wage set by the state. Even worse, his forced labor consists of killing people. Thus, conscription is really just a fancy form of military slavery because the citizen is being forced to provide his time and labor in the killing service of the state.
“One might be tempted to conclude that the United States is different from Russia and Ukraine. Not so. Just like those two countries, the U.S. government also relies on conscription… U.S. officials are not currently conscripting people but that simply is because they… have been successful in inducing a sufficient number of men and women to voluntarily ‘serve their country.’ But the fact is that there is a system of conscription in place here at home, just as there is in Russia and Ukraine. That’s why young men are required to register for the draft when they reach the age of 18.
“If anyone fails or refuses to do so, he will be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated. That’s what they did to draft resisters during the Vietnam War. Mohammad Ali was a good example of how they target people who refuse to comply with their system of involuntary servitude.
“Make no mistake about it: If the Pentagon and the CIA succeed in embroiling the United States in a war with Russia or China or both, U.S. officials will not hesitate to do what Russia and Ukraine are doing. They will immediately resort to conscripting both American men and women to ‘serve their country.’…”
Conscription may not be enforced on the American people because of a war between the USA and Russia and China (neither one is prophesied), but because of a coming war with Europe (which IS prophesied). Conscientious objectors had better be prepared, and their time of preparation is now.
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.
Does God Love Everyone? Does the Bible Teach Unconditional Love? (Part 3)
In the previous two Q&As, we discussed God’s love towards all men. Subsequently, further questions arose which deserve answers.
For instance, since Christ died for the world and for us when we were still sinners, why do we read that He gave His blood for many for the remission of sins, but not for all?
Christ shed His blood for many [not all] for the remission of sins because He KNEW that some would not accept His Sacrifice, rebel against Him, commit the unpardonable sin, and end up in the lake of fire. So insofar as those people are concerned, His blood does not cover them, as they reject it. That is why the Bible says that He died for MANY for the remission of sins, not for all, because some would not repent and therefore would not receive remission of sins.
Matthew 26:28 says specifically: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 20:28 adds: “… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” The ransom is for those who will repent and accept His Sacrifice. Christ did not give His life as a ransom for those who would reject His Sacrifice.
Hebrews 9:27-28 reads: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Please note, Christ did not bear the sins of all, but of many. Those are exempted who would refuse to repent.
On the other hand, it was and is God’s and Christ’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And so, we read in Hebrews 2:9:
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
Christ died for all people, potentially. Nobody HAD to fail. Nobody was “predestined” to commit the unpardonable sin. It is strictly man’s choice. But out of God’s “unconditional love” for all mankind, Christ died so that all could come to Him and could receive forgiveness of sin. He died to be able to offer salvation to everyone. God would call them in their due time (prior to Christ’s return, during the Millennium or during the Great White Throne Judgment period) and offer them the opportunity to accept Christ as their personal Savior (as in no one else is there salvation, compare Acts 4:12). At the same time, He knew that some would reject the offer—even though He did not know who exactly that would be, as He has decided NOT to know who would commit the unpardonable sin. But THAT some would commit it, is clear from Scripture, as the Bible foretells that some would be thrown into the lake of fire. For those, He did not give His blood for the remission of their sins.
Likewise, we read in Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” Yes, God’s grace appeared to all men, but all would not accept that precious gift. Ultimately, many would, but not all.
We also should focus on John 3:16, in context. It is true that Christ died for the world, living in sin, but He did not die for the world so that the world would continue to live in sin: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
After Christ gave His life, He wanted that those whom He would call—now or later—to believe in Him. Their faith was supposed to be obedient faith (Romans 1:5). And in loving God, by keeping His commandments, they would keep themselves in the love of God (Jude 21). They would not continue to live a disobedient lifestyle, as expressed by John in 1 John 3:17: “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
As we said in our previous Q&A:
“We should be able to see that God expects of us to respond to His ‘unconditional’ love towards us (‘unconditional’ at the time when Christ died for us while we were yet sinners) by rejecting sin and by showing love towards God and our neighbor. God’s love is defined as keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3), and as we just read above in 1 John 3:17, we can lose God’s love in us due to our conduct. God’s love, once ‘unconditional’ at and before the beginning of our journey towards eternal life, has very clearly become ‘conditional.’
“We must DO something to ‘keep ourselves in the love of God’ (Jude 21). We read Christ’s words in John 14:21: ‘He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.’”
God’s love for us can also be seen when He disciplines us. That could be described as “tough love”—love which corrects us. His goal is for us to become God beings, and His correction is necessary to achieve that goal. Job had to go through many trials, pain and suffering, because he did not see himself as God saw him. His self-righteousness, had it not been repented of, would have kept him out of the Kingdom of God, but it was difficult for him to recognize how self-righteous he was. Only through God’s correction was he able to do so.
James 5:10-11 tells us: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
God’s compassion and mercy was shown by the fact that He was willing to deal with Job, in spite of his at harsh words against God at times, thinking that he was more righteous than God, and that God dealt unjustly with him.
And so, when we are corrected by God, it is because He loves us and wants us to be in His Kingdom.
Hebrews 12:4-6 states:
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’”
Verse 10 explains the reason why God corrects us:
“For they [that is, our human fathers, see verse 9] indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
Christ also tells those Church members in need of repentance in Revelation 3:19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
God knows that we could lose salvation. Even though that will be ultimately our decision, God is willing to do everything for us to prevent that from happening. Hebrews 2:1-4 says:
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
Also, notice Philippians 2:12-13:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
We see here God’s involvement in our lives. He is willing to do everything which we allow Him to do to ensure that we make it into His Kingdom. But Paul continues to remind us of our responsibility, in Philippians 2:14-16:
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
So, we see that God and Christ rebuke and chasten us because of love. They correct us because they want us to be in God’s Kingdom and share in God’s glory, becoming part of God’s holiness.
We need to contrast this with the fate of the unrepentant sinner who has committed the unpardonable sin.
We said in our previous Q&A:
“As we have seen, even the destruction of the sinner in the lake of fire reflects God’s love in that He does not want him to be tormented forever in an ever-burning hell, but it is obviously not a reflection of God’s ‘unconditional’ love which would allow us to live in sin and to do whatever we want to do, with the attitude: ‘God loves me, no matter what I do.’”
We must understand this statement in its proper context. God’s love and His righteousness do not tolerate or justify an unrepentant sinner’s continued ungodly lifestyle. God sees how much suffering and pain for others the sinner’s conduct causes. And so, we read in John 3:36 (Revised Standard Version): “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.” Romans 1:18 adds: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…”
And so, we read the following alarming pronouncement by Christ in Matthew 24:48-51:
“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This evil servant is one who has committed the unpardonable sin, and whose fate it is to be thrown into the lake of fire where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth (compare Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50). But before he ends up in the lake of fire, he will be “cut in two.” This “correction” is not for the purpose of leading him towards salvation; rather, it is punishment for his evil deeds with which he influenced and tortured others, without a willingness to repent. His punishment reflects God’s love for others, as well as His righteousness, which demands that the sinner has to pay. It is clearly NOT a reflection of God’s “unconditional” love for the incorrigible sinner.
We state the following in our free booklet, “Punishment for Our Sins”, when addressing Christ’s statement that the evil servant will be “cut in two,” and after quoting numerous commentaries attempting to explain this phrase:
“… the wicked servant will receive some kind of physical and psychological punishment before he is thrown into the lake of fire with the hypocrites and the unbelievers. We do not know exactly what that punishment will be, but it is clear from Scripture that the punishment of the incorrigible sinners will include torment and fearful expectation BEFORE their existence ends. It will be much more severe than just a fleeting moment of annihilation in the Gehenna fire. They will receive ‘heavy stripes’ or ‘scourging’… including ‘stripes’ of a psychological nature.
“When those who commit the unpardonable sin stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, they will be confronted with the terrible deeds, which they had committed, but they will not feel any remorse. They will refuse to repent of their wicked conduct. Filled with wrath and hate, they will hear Jesus Christ’s words condemning them to punishment and eternal death, and they will be tormented by the realization that they ARE going to receive ‘stripes’ and that they will be subsequently destroyed forever. Because of this, their hate and rage will even increase. Their wicked nature and conduct will be manifested in front of everyone. There will never be any doubt about God’s unfailing justice and just punishment.”
Nothing else would reflect or manifest God’s righteousness. These people had lost God’s love which had been poured in their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). They had chosen the way of hate and unrighteousness. Christ who gave His life for them when they were still sinners will not have “unconditional” love for them when they are to be punished for their wickedness in the Third Resurrection which is the second death (Revelation 20:14).
And so, God loved mankind unconditionally when He gave His Son to die for them [potentially, each and every one of them], but it became very much conditional, based on how man responded when he or she was called. And if they reject God’s love—not that anyone would have to; it is strictly their choice—and if they “sin willfully after [they] have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Hat Gott bedingungslose Liebe für alle Menschen?” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Does God Have Unconditional Love for Everyone?”
“In mir hat er nichts,” last Sabbath’s German sermonette presented by Jens Herrmann, is now posted. Title in English: “In Me He Has Nothing.”
“Liebt Gott wirklich ALLE Menschen?” last Sabbath’s German sermon by Norbert Link, is now posted. Title in English: “Does God Really Love ALL people?”
“Europe’s Revival and French Hostility Towards America—Comments on News and Prophecy, May 13, 2023,” the first message presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
What can we glean from the coronation of King Charles III, including the stone of destine; the veneration of the cross; and the role of the Catholic Church? What lessons can we draw from the burning of books in Nazi Germany in 1933? Why did the Prime Minister of Hungary compare the EU’s European unification project with Adolf Hitler’s plans for rule? Why does it appear that the French-American relations have become hostile again? And what is to be said about existing or coming conscription in Russia, Ukraine and the USA to get soldiers to serve, kill and die for their country?
“God’s Call for Repentant Change,” last Sabbath’s sermon presented by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Why is it necessary to repent, turn around, change our way of thinking and become a totally new creation? True repentance, in leaving behind our “dead works,” is oftentimes not that easy. To admit that one has done wrong or has been wrong, can be terribly difficult. The same is true when we are called upon to admit that we are not as righteous as we had thought to be. But God commands us to repent and to return to Him; to reject the broad way of the world, leading to condemnation and death; and to choose and walk instead the small and narrow way, leading to eternal life.
Spring Holy Day: Pentecost—May 28, 2023.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
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