Update 328


No Identity Fraud With God

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Over the last few weeks in the UK, there has been an epidemic of lost data. In early December 2007, it was reported that two discs with details of 25 million child benefit claims had been lost in the mail. A leading politician stated that the missing 25 million details could be worth £1.5 billion to fraudsters. On December 17, a private contractor, working for the Driving Standards Agency, lost the personal details of 3 million people. The following day, the details of 4,000 patients went missing at the Stockport Primary Trust. And on January 18, 2008, it was revealed that the Ministry of Defense had lost details of 600,000 people. There have been quite a number of other cases, but the above examples serve to show the problems that are currently being experienced in the UK.

One of the areas that has come to the fore in recent years is the serious crime of identity fraud. This can be used, amongst other things, for bank accounts, national insurance numbers and fake passports. Confusion can abound about identity because of all of these problems.

But with God, there is no problem of fraudulent or lost data. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 2:11: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” That spirit in man, which enables human beings to understand, create, plan and reason and which separates man from animals, goes back to God when man dies (Ecclesiastes 12:7). God knows each one of us, and our data is stored by man’s spirit.

Man loses data and commits identity fraud, but with God it is an entirely different story. God neither loses data nor is He fooled by people changing their identity. Through the spirit in man that God gives to us, our true and unique identities are being preserved. Those who have no belief in God rely on fellow man who makes such a mess of just about everything he touches. How grateful we should be that we can trust entirely in the great, perfect, eternal Creator God. We know that through Him, our future is secure.

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Bobby Fischer Died

Bobby Fischer, arguably the best chess player in the world, who reportedly had an IQ higher than that of Albert Einstein, died last Thursday in Iceland, at the age of 64. His bizarre and odd lifestyle was marked by anti-Semitic statements–including his denial of the Holocaust (although his mother was Jewish); a claim that his father Gerhardt was German when Fischer was born in 1943 (although the German government refused to grant him German citizenship); his public praise for the September 11th terrorist attack; his incarceration in Japan for nine months (due to an American warrant for his arrest, following a 1992 exhibition rematch against Boris Spassky on a Yugoslav resort island in violation of U.S. sanctions, and for trying to leave Japan with an invalid U.S. passport); and his migration to Iceland in 2005, after obtaining the citizenship of Iceland and repudiating his U.S. citizenship.

As could be predicted, some in the secular left-liberal national and international press resurrected the false claim that Fischer was a “member” of the Worldwide Church of God, under the late Herbert W. Armstrong. The truth is, Fischer never was a baptized member, although he was temporarily loosely affiliated with the Church.

One of the more spectacular and “telling” assertions about Fischer, the Church of God and the Bible, were found on the Internet, as follows:

“Ever since he won the championship, Fischer had been drifting quietly into seclusion, finding refuge in Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena, a fundamentalist cult that observes Saturday as the Sabbath and believes in the Second Coming. After several years of serving as what is called a coworker — Fischer hadn’t been baptized — he left the church, too.”

Whoever the author is, his ignorance of the Bible is remarkable. Apparently, he does not believe in the Biblical doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming, nor does he know anything about the Sabbath. When would anyone keep the Biblical SABBATH except on SATURDAY? Those who refer to Sunday as the SABBATH only reveal their total LACK of understanding as to when the Biblical SABBATH is to be kept. Sadly, most people today do NOT know whether or when to observe God’s SABBATH. In order for you to understand the truth on this vital and SALVATIONAL matter, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

America For Sale?

The New York Times reported on January 20:

“Last May, a Saudi Arabian conglomerate bought a Massachusetts plastics maker. In November, a French company established a new factory in Adrian, Mich., adding 189 automotive jobs to an area accustomed to layoffs. In December, a British company bought a New Jersey maker of cough syrup.

“For much of the world, the United States is now ON SALE at discount prices. With credit tight, unemployment growing and worries mounting about a potential recession, American business and government leaders are courting foreign money to keep the economy growing. Foreign investors are buying aggressively, taking advantage of American duress and a weak dollar to snap up what many see as bargains, while making inroads to the world’s largest market.

“Last year, foreign investors poured a record $414 billion into securing stakes in American companies, factories and other properties through private deals and purchases of publicly traded stock… That was up 90 percent from the previous year and more than double the average for the last decade. It amounted to more than one-fourth of all announced deals for the year…

“During the first two weeks of this year, foreign businesses agreed to invest another $22.6 billion for stakes in American companies — more than half the value of all announced deals. If a recession now unfolds and the dollar drops further, the pace could accelerate, economists say.”

The accuracy of an Old Testament prophecy for our time–and especially for the USA–becomes more and more obvious. Deuteronomy 28:43-44 reads: “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.”

For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Black Monday–Worldwide Stock Market Crash

The webpage of “thisislondon.co.uk” wrote on January 21:

“The stock market was in meltdown today as nearly £60billion was wiped off London shares as fears of a US recession sparked a global sell-off. The bloodbath saw the Footsie plummet by 5.5 per cent, losing 323.5 points…  its biggest one-day points drop since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001… It is also the worst start to the year for the stock market since records began in 1936… The falls followed Friday’s falls for the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street, when investors were left unimpressed by the US Government’s tax-relief plans to spur on the economy.”

The Associated Press added on January 21:

“Stocks fell sharply worldwide Monday following declines on Wall Street last week amid investor pessimism over the U.S. government’s stimulus plan to prevent a recession. U.S. markets were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the downbeat mood from last week’s market declines there circled through Europe, Asia and the Americas. Britain’s benchmark FTSE-100 slumped 5.5 percent… France’s CAC-40 Index tumbled 6.8 percent…  and Germany’s blue-chip DAX 30 plunged 7.2 percent…

“In Asia, India’s benchmark stock index tumbled 7.4 percent, while Hong Kong’s blue-chip Hang Seng index plummeted 5.5 percent…, its biggest percentage drop since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Canadian stocks fell as well, with the S&P/TSX composite index on the Toronto Stock Exchange down 4 percent in early afternoon trading. In Brazil, stocks plunged 6.9 percent on the main index of Sao Paulo’s Bovespa exchange.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 21:

“In a sign of how badly Germany’s financial sector has been hit by subprime credit crisis, WestLB, the country’s third-largest regional bank, announced on Monday it would post a €1 billion euro ($1.47 billion) loss for 2007… it… didn’t rule out having to make further writedowns…

“Meanwhile, fears of a US recession led to sharp stock market losses on Monday with the German blue-chip DAX index falling as much as 7 percent, or more than 500 points, in hectic trading before stabilizing in late afternoon. It was the biggest daily decline since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“‘There’s naked panic here — we’re seeing a classic crash,’ said one share trader. Analysts at JP Morgan Asset Management said investor sentiment had reached ‘panic level.’ Financial stocks were among the main losers, with Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank down around 6 percent in the wake of the WestLB loss announcement. Insurance and banking group Allianz fell 7 percent.”

Market Situation Not Much Better on Tuesday…

USA Today reported on Tuesday, January 22:

“The Bush administration and Congress moved with uncharacteristic speed Tuesday to devise a package of tax cuts and spending that could bring the economy back from the brink of recession…  it would take the Internal Revenue Service several months to send out rebate checks — probably in May or June. ‘It would be desirable if it could happen faster,’ [Peter] Orszag, [director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office,] said. ‘It is remarkable that the world’s leading economic power can’t get checks out the door faster than that.'”

Der Spiegel Online reported on January 22 about Germany’s reaction to the crash on Monday and the economic situation in the USA:

“Germany media commentators say the crash marks the end of a stock market party which had inflated prices and ignored the risks posed by the slowing US economy, the subprime credit crisis and surging energy prices… Business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘Much evidence suggests that stock markets will remain turbulent in the next couple of weeks. Only really good news can haul us out of this slump in sentiment…

“Business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘The earth is quaking in the financial world and it can’t be foreseen when those tremors will be over. On the contrary… Being an exporting nation, Germany is strongly dependent on the world economy and the crisis has left deep scars in banks in this country… ‘

“Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘Financial markets had divorced themselves from the real world; share prices rose unstoppably even though risks had long been lurking everywhere. Energy and raw materials? Kept getting more expensive. America’s economic upturn? Decidedly shaky. The dollar? About to tank. Everyone who wanted to could see these dangers; everyone who was half-way sober should have been careful in the last two or three years, and especially since last summer. But the stock market sometimes resembles a wild college party: Everyone’s drinking, so everyone joins in. And everyone ends up being so drunk that the whole event gets out of control. It’s quite possible that the worst is yet to come and that the stock market crash will continue in the coming months…’

“Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:… ‘The financial market crisis which has spread from the banks to insurance companies is evidently far from over… Much suggests that the trend in international stock markets will continue to depend on what happens in the US…'”

Der Spiegel Online added on January 22:

“There was bad news too at the Bank of America, the second-largest American bank. The bank announced Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings had fallen by an enormous 95 percent. Net income at Bank of America fell to $268 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, down from $5.26 billion a year ago.”

… Or on Wednesday…

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, January 23, 2008:

“Stocks extended their decline Wednesday, with investors uneasy after reports from big names like Apple Inc. and Motorola Inc. dashed any notion that the Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut [an unprecedented 75-basis-point rate cut] could in short order patch up the economy… Wall Street’s latest slide occurred in tandem with a retrenchment in European markets, which fell after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet appeared unmoved by the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Some investors had hoped the ECB would signal willingness to cut rates. The Fed’s decision Tuesday to lower its federal funds rate by a steep 0.75 basis points to 3.5 percent eventually helped calm U.S. markets, but it remains clear that investors have doubts about the potency of the Fed action. Rate cuts typically take months to work their way into the economy.”

On Wednesday night, the Associated Press summarized the tumultuous day at Wall Street, as follows:

“It started with another stomach-turning drop at the open, and a loss of more than 300 points by midday. Then stocks changed course, raced higher and closed with a dramatic gain of nearly 300. This wasn’t just volatility. This was Wall Street whiplash.

“Amid tumbling housing prices, an ongoing credit crisis and growing fears of a recession, turbulence has become a hallmark of Wall Street in recent weeks. And after five straight days of pullbacks, analysts saw some positive signs in Wednesday’s trading… By day’s end, the Dow had swung 631.86 points from its low point to its high — the largest single-day turnaround in more than five years…

“Still, analysts were mindful that in recent months Wall Street has been known to soar one day and succumb the next, and that there are still many economic unknowns for the market to weather. And, given that stocks are so badly beaten down, bargain hunting played a part in Wednesday’s turnaround…

“Wall Street faces several months of uncertainty, with the bulk of fourth-quarter earnings reports still to come and economic reports likely to be disappointing. When it’s more clear companies and consumers are spending freely, investors might relax. However, with consumers burdened by debt and cutting back spending, it’s impossible to predict when that relief will come.”

… Or on Thursday…

In an unprecedented swift attempt to cope with the economic situation in the USA, President Bush and Congress announced on Thursday that a deal on an economic stimulus package had been reached. As the Associated Press reported on January 24:

“Democratic and Republican congressional leaders completed a deal Thursday with the White House on an economic stimulus package that would give most tax filers refunds… Congressional aides… said they hope the checks could go out as early as June.

“Individuals who pay income taxes would get up to $600, working couples $1,200 and those couples with children an additional $300 per child under the deal. Workers who make at least $3,000 but don’t pay taxes would get $300 rebates. The rebates would be limited to individuals whose income is $75,000 or less and working couples with incomes $150,000 or less.

“The rebate part of the plan would cost about $100 billion, aides said. The package also includes close to $50 billion in business tax cuts. The package would allow businesses to immediately write off 50 percent of purchases of plants and other capital equipment and permit small businesses to write off additional purchases of equipment…”

In spite of the announcement of a completed deal regarding the stimulus package, the financial turmoil at Wall Street continued on Thursday. The Associated Press reported on January 24:

“Wall Street sought to extend its gains Thursday, fluctuating as investors absorbed more bad news about bond insurers but received economic data that suggested the job market remains largely undented… Although investors were clearly interested in buying, there was little conviction behind the gains — the market is still searching for clues about the economy in hopes of determining if it might be bottoming or if it’s heading toward a recession… Given the market’s recent volatility, it remains less likely that even sizable gains or selloffs in stocks will hold as each session unfolds. A stunning turnaround Wednesday, while certainly a relief for many investors, illustrated the fractiousness that has settled into Wall Street in recent months…”

Preemptive Nuclear Strike by NATO?

The Telegraph wrote on January 22:

“Nato must prepare to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks to ward off the use of weapons of mass destruction by its enemies, a group of former senior military officials has warned… the authors of the blueprint for reforming Nato include Lord Peter Inge, the former British chief of the defence staff and US General John Shalikashvili, the former Nato commander in Europe and chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff…

“The authors have proposed major changes to the way Nato operates, including abandoning consensus decision making so fast action can be taken without the threat of vetoes and caveats imposed by some nations. They also called for military action without ratification by the UN in cases where ‘immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings’. The report was compiled after authors were briefed by senior serving military officials who are unable to speak publicly about their concerns with Nato’s military strategy… The other three authors are Klaus Naumann, a German former military commander, Henk van den Breemen, a former Dutch military official, and Jacques Lanxade, the former French admiral and chief of defence.”

The Bible predicts nuclear war in the future, which would destroy ALL HUMAN LIFE on this planet, if Christ would not intervene to stop this madness (Matthew 24:21-22).

Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 23:

“Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt from Gaza on Wednesday after gunmen destroyed about two-thirds of the Gaza-Egypt border wall. Most of the Gazans returned after stocking up on food and other basic supplies that have become scarce due to the blockade imposed on the territory by Israel. UN personnel said they estimated the number of Palestinians who entered Egypt to be 350,000. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced that he had ordered his troops to allow Palestinians to cross into Egypt because they were starving… Mubarak also criticized Hamas for continuing to fire missiles into Israel, saying that it was not helping the situation. He said that he had been in contact with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and helped convince him to resume fuel shipments into Gaza…

“Israel is worried about the chaos on the Gaza-Egypt border, and expects Egypt to solve the problem… The chaotic scenes came on the sixth day of a complete closure of Gaza, imposed by Israel and backed by Egypt, in response to a spike in Gaza rocket attacks on Israeli border towns. Hamas has orchestrated daily demonstrations on the Gaza-Egypt border, in an apparent attempt to appeal to Arab public opinion and pressure Egypt to open the passage.”

AFP added on January 24 that “Palestinians swarmed out of Gaza into Egypt for a second consecutive day on Thursday to stock up on supplies after militants blew open the border of the Hamas-run territory.”

“Freedom” in Turkey?

The Associated Press reported on January 20:

“A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the country’s founding father, according to reports Sunday. It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after his death. Users trying to access the Web site from Turkey were met with notices in English and Turkish saying it was banned under an Ankara court order issued Jan. 17.

“Last March, another court blocked access to YouTube for two days after a complaint that some clips insulted Ataturk, a war hero who founded Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The ban was lifted after YouTube removed the offending videos… The YouTube bans in Turkey have highlighted the country’s troubled record on free expression. Several prominent Turkish journalists and writers — including Nobel literature prize winner Orhan Pamuk — have been tried for allegedly insulting ‘Turkishness.'”

“Don’t Attack the Pope…”

AFP wrote on January 20:

“More than 100,000 people filled St Peter’s Square on Sunday in a show of support for Pope Benedict XVI after protests by scientists [prompted] him to cancel a university speech… The 80-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church cancelled a planned speech at Rome’s La Sapienza university Thursday after dozens of professors and students protested his presence at the secular school…

“A Vatican spokesman put at 200,000 the number of pilgrims at the event — billed in the Italian media as ‘pope day’ — holding up banners with slogans such as ‘Holy Father We Love You’ and ‘Long Live Freedom of Thought.’ Tens of thousands more supporters watched video links of the event outside the Milan cathedral and in Verona, Italian media reported…

“Deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli attended Sunday’s rally, as well as former justice minister Clemente Mastella, who resigned just last week to face corruption charges. University Minister Fabio Mussi raised a dissenting voice, saying the politicians’ presence at the event ‘smacked of exploitation.’…

“The incident [that is, the protest by scientists and students] ‘was a shock for most Italians, whatever their opinions on other subjects,’ said Marco Politi, a Vatican expert at the Italian daily La Repubblica. ‘In Italy, to attack the pope’s person … is to violate a taboo,’ Politi told AFP. But Paolo Flores D’Arcais, who writes for a prestigious philosophy magazine, MicroMega, said: ‘THIS IS THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN. The pope … is posing as a victim. He’s the one who decided not to go to the university, where he could have spoken.’

“Students opposed to the pope’s visit staged ‘an anti-clergy week’ during which they showed a film on Galileo, the 17th-century physicist who fell foul of Church doctrine by insisting that the Earth orbits the Sun. Galileo was convicted of heresy by the Inquisition — the predecessor of the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, that the pope formerly headed as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.”

As we reported in the Current Events section of our last week’s Update (#327), the concern of the professors and scientists–which AFP neglected to mention in the above-quoted article–was the pope’s APPROVAL of Galileo’s trial. We quoted the Catholic press agency, VIS, as follows: “The signatories of the petition take exception to a talk given by the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1990, and in particular to a phrase he used on that occasion to the effect that ‘in Galileo’s time the Church remained much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself. The trial against Galileo was reasonable and just.'”

No Surprise–Another Political Crisis in Italy

CNN reported on January 23:

“Recent opinion poll analysis suggests Italians have lost confidence in all state institutions: the presidency, the parliament, the government, the judiciary and, yes, you guessed it, the church. The last thing this country needs at this time is another political crisis that would result in more instability and more dissatisfaction among people here. Yet this is exactly what is happening. After less than two years in office, Prime Minister Romano Prodi is fighting for his (political) survival. He has been doing so since he won the elections by a wafer thin majority in April 2006, but last week his minister of justice resigned amid corruption allegations (which he denied). He announced that his party, which has less than two percent of national representation and holds only three out of 315 senate seats, was pulling out.”

Reuters reported on January 24:

“Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi lost a confidence vote in the Senate on Thursday and went to hand his resignation to the president, prompting opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi to demand immediate elections…  But President Giorgio Napolitano may first appoint an interim government to reform a messy electoral system, which in 2006 landed Prodi with a tiny Senate majority and an unstable nine-party coalition ranging from Catholics to communists. Analysts said the demise of the 61st government since World War Two should not hurt economic growth prospects…”


German Carnival On Its Way

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 21:

“Germany’s main carnival parade this year will poke fun at England for failing to qualify for the European Football Championship in June… Much of traditionally Catholic western and southern Germany comes to a standstill during the week before Lent. The season kicks off with ‘Old Wives’ Day’ when women cut off men’s ties in a symbolic castration ritual and storm town halls… If carnival is a religion, the residents of Cologne can be classified as extremists: The inebriated revelry can make the Munich Oktoberfest look like a tea party.”

Frankenstein in the Making?

The Daily Mail reported on January 17:

“A scientist has achieved a world first… by cloning himself. In a breakthrough certain to provoke an ethical furore, Samuel Wood created embryo copies of himself by placing his skin cells in a woman’s egg. The embryos were the first to be made from cells taken from adult humans… they survived for only five days and were smaller than a pinhead… critics fear the technology could be exploited by mavericks to clone babies and accused the scientists of reducing the miracle of human life to a factory of spare parts.

“Researchers from the Californian stem cell research company Stemagen employed the same technique used to make Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, to create the embryos… [Wood] is working on extracting stem cells from such embryos – a process that inevitably leads to the death of the embryo.

“John Smeaton, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: ‘We have got scientists wandering around in an ethical wilderness, forgetting about matters of justice relating to our fellow human beings. We have people creating human beings with the intention of destroying them. That’s appalling.’

“And the Vatican condemned the cloning of human embryos, calling it the ‘worst type of exploitation of the human being’. ‘This ranks among the most morally illicit acts, ethically speaking,’ said… Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican department that helps oversee the Church’s position on bioethics issues…

“Although Dr Wood’s team is the first to create human embryos from adult cells, human embryos have been cloned before. Scientists at Newcastle University created cloned human embryos in 2005 using cells from embryos rather than adults, seen as less useful in creating potential treatments…

“The news came as it was revealed that animal-human hybrid embryos will be created in British laboratories… Mr Smeaton said: ‘It is creating a category of beings regarded as sub-human who can be used as raw material to benefit other members of the human family. How wrong can something be before a scientist understands you cannot just do it because of the perceived good for human beings.'”

Is it justified to kill unborn embryos in order to save born humans? For this hotly debated issue, please make sure to view our recent StandingWatch program (#153), titled, “Abortion–Right or Wrong?”

America–The Whole Nation Is Sick (Isaiah 1:5-6)

LifeScience reported on January 8:

“The United States places last among 19 countries in deaths that could have been prevented by access to timely and effective healthcare, a new study finds.If the United States had performed as well as the top three countries out of the 19 industrialized countries in the study, there would be about 101,000 fewer U.S. deaths in the per year, the researchers estimate. The top performers: France, Japan, and Australia…

“In 1997–98 the U.S. ranked 15th out of 19 countries on the ‘mortality amenable to health care’ measure. However, by 2002–03 the U.S. fell to last place, with 109 deaths amenable to health care for every 100,000 people. In contrast, mortality rates per 100,000 people in the leading countries were: France (64), Japan (71), and Australia (71).

“The other countries included in the study were Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom…

“In a 2006 study, infant mortality in the United States was found to be among the worst of all industrialized nations. Another study found Americans had a higher rate of sickness than the British in all categories studied.”

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Does the New Testament say that we should not swear, but that we are allowed to affirm? Is it advisable to raise our right hand, when affirming?

Even though the ancients in Old Testament times did swear, the New Testament tells us that we should not do so today.

We read Christ’s words in Matthew 5:33-37: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

James adds in James 5:12: “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment.”

We note that Jesus, when here on earth as a human being, did not swear. We read in Matthew 26:63 that the high priest attempted to have Christ swear, when he said: “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

Note HOW Christ responded, in verse 64: “It is as you said.” He did not answer by saying, “I swear,” but He confirmed–or we might say, “affirmed”– the accuracy of the high priest’s statement.

It is therefore correct that a Christian is permitted by God’s Word to affirm the truth. For instance, we read that Paul used a strong “affirmation” for the accuracy of his statements in Romans 9:1-2, when he said: “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and a continual grief in my heart.”

He even called “God as witness against his soul,” when affirming the truth of his statement in 2 Corinthians 1:23: “Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.”

Paul made a similar statement in Galatians 1:20: “Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.”

However, as we can clearly see, Paul did not “swear” when he made those statements. Nor do we read that he raised his right hand in connection with his statements.

We do read, however, that angels, who are mightier than man and who are allowed to swear in the New Testament, raise their right hand (or even both hands) when they swear. This shows that raising the right hand is considered as a part of the act of swearing.

We read in Revelation 10:5-6 (New Revised Standard Version): “Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever…”

The following commentaries confirm the fact that the right hand is raised in conjunction with swearing:

The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown gives the following explanation to Revelation 10:5-6: “It was customary to lift up the hand towards heaven, appealing to the God of truth, in taking a solemn oath.”

John Gill’s “Exposition of the Entire Bible” concurs and adds the following remarks to Revelation 10:5-6: “… lifted up his hand to heaven; the Oriental versions read, ‘his right hand’; and so [do][ some copies, and the Complutensian edition… the lifting up of the hand was a gesture used in swearing… so the Jews say… ‘the right hand’, or by the right hand… ‘this is an oath”, according to [Daniel 12:7] or whether the right hand or the left, is an oath, according to [Isaiah 62:8].”

Albert Barnes writes in his “Notes on the Bible” to Revelation 10:5-6: “… Lifted up his hand to heaven–The usual attitude in taking an oath, as if one called heaven to witness.”

The Jewish Tanakh rendition adds an interesting footnote to Genesis 14:22, where Abram said, “I swear to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth (Tanakh).” The footnote reads in regard to the word “swear”: “Lit. ‘lift up my hand.'”

Based on the foregoing, members of the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates may affirm to tell the truth, but they should not swear or raise their right hand. We would also advise against including words in an affirmation that appeal to God, such as “so help me God,” or something to that effect, as to do so could lead to a violation of the Third Commandment (“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…”, compare Deuteronomy 5:11). It is much safer to abide by the clear instructions of Jesus and James, telling us not to swear (or affirm) by heaven or earth or Jerusalem, as all of these are in some way related to God, or not even by our own head, “nor by any other oath.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program (#153) was posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and You Tube. It is titled, “Abortion–Right or Wrong?” In the program, Norbert Link asks the questions,  Is abortion always right–or is it always wrong? And if it is acceptable under certain circumstances, how old does the embryo or fetus have to be to make it right? Neither proponents of “pro choice” nor those of “pro life” seem to have the answers. Do you know the truth? Only God, in His Word, the Bible, can tell you.

The video recordings of Norbert Link’s sermons, “Tabernacle in the Wilderness, Part 1,” and “Interpersonal Relationships,” were posted on Google Video.

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The Big Fall

by John Amorelli

Recently, we had an ice storm with strong winds and heavy rainfall. My wife Louise and I heard a big “boom” outside during internet church services. It sounded like an explosion! We were both startled and didn’t know where the noise came from. We didn’t go outside to see what it was, due to the fact that it was night time, and we live in a dense 3-acre wooded area. The next day, I went outside to inspect the surroundings to see if the noise had come from our property. To my surprise, there was a big oak tree down on the ground, not far from the house!!! Apparently, the strong winds and rain had blown down the tree. The severe weather literally had torn the tree from its roots! The tree trunk was still intact. It was an amazing sight to recognize that this big tree had such a hard fall!

Fallen Oak

This made me think of my spiritual life. “Am I like this big oak tree?” I asked myself. Sometimes I think of myself as that big oak tree before its fall–being “spiritually” big and strong. The wind and the rain tested the strength of that tree and its root system. But, the severe weather was too much for that big tree to handle. Hence, the Big Fall!

No matter how spiritually big and strong I think I am, I know I am nothing without God and His Spirit. God must strengthen my foundation, enabling me to fight against the “severe weather” of this world. I never thought that big tree would fall! When tough trials come, I need to stay close to God and His way of life, because when I THINK I stand tall, I could have the BIG FALL!

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God