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Have you ever seen professional athletes, at the top of their game, train for an upcoming event? They work long and hard, put their bodies through a nightmare of rigor and pain, and deny themselves even the smallest pleasures in life. They do this all in the name of a sport and in the pursuit of play. It is done to accomplish something that will not last, but rather will fade away and come to naught. Yet, they put their blood, sweat and tears into it.
Now what if they put all that energy and effort into something that is infinitely more important, beneficial and lasting… like the spiritual race set forth in the Bible? The fruits that such an effort would produce, would be colossal. If they were to be as conscientious about their spiritual life as they had been about their physical life, can you imagine the growth that would result?
Can you imagine if a person were to study, pray and fast like their livelihood depended on it? Now, can you imagine that person being you?
America has its stimulus package. Congress approved it–with virtually no member of Congress having read it– and President Obama signed it into law. Officially estimated as costing about $790 billion, it is really MUCH more expensive.
The Office of the Press Secretary released the text of a speech given by President Obama on February 17 in Denver, when signing the stimulus package. In the speech, Mr. Obama said: “Today does not mark the end of our economic troubles. Nor does it constitute all of what we must do to turn our economy around. But it does mark the beginning of the end…”
Even though Mr. Obama meant that in signing the stimulus package, we could see the beginning of a better economy (which is highly doubtful), his comments would be prophetically correct when understood quite differently. Is the United States seeing the beginning of the end of its prosperity? And more globally–is the end of this world in sight? Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ spoke of the “beginning of sorrows.” This would result in the END of this present EVIL civilization, when we see the true gospel preached in all the world as a witness (Matthew 24:8, 13-14). Have we reached this time? For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.”
The downfall of the U.S. economy (on Thursday, the Dow Jones was the worst in six years) might be mirrored by the virtual bankruptcy of the state of California. Bickering politicians were unable, until Thursday morning, to approve a state budget–after 106 days without a budget. The new budget increases income and sales taxes. At the same time, freedom of speech is being suppressed in California’s schools and universities when those expressions of thought are not in line with “politically correct” ideas.
Germany is being asked to rescue Ireland and to help in rebuilding Iraq. At the same time, violent demonstrations of neo-Nazis and leftist activists occurred in Dresden, reminding us of frightful conditions rampant in pre-war Germany. The highest French court decided that the state of France was responsible for the deportation of many Jews in World War 2, but refused to grant further compensation for survivors, and while anti-Semitism may already be on the rise in Europe, Israel might be involved in covert sabotage in Iran.
A French and British submarine collided, “each laden with missiles powerful enough for 1,248 Hiroshima bombings.” Even though we are assured that no radio-active material was released, the frightening news is, in any event, that the “unthinkable” could have happened.
While Europe is muzzling its member states, with “no limits to the Eurocrats’ claim to power,” it is also obvious that Europe is still waiting for a strong unifying political and military leader. At the same time, we are reminded that 80 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church and Benito Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty. This Pact established the Vatican City State, guaranteed Church independence, and declared Roman Catholicism as Italy’s state religion.
Finally, a seemingly harmless “domesticated” chimpanzee went on a brutal attack. Whatever the cause for its behavior, wild animals still possess wild natures. The time when the nature of wild animals will be truly changed has not yet quite arrived (compare Isaiah 11:6-9).
This Week in the News
Politics Made in Washington…
The New York Post wrote on February 15:
“After pushing Congress for weeks to hurry up and pass the massive $787 billion stimulus bill, President Obama promptly took off for a three-day holiday getaway [before signing the bill on Tuesday, February 17]… The push to get the bill through before the holiday weekend was so frantic, members of Congress didn’t have a chance to read all 1,071 pages of the document before they could vote.”
Not that anyone WOULD HAVE read it…
The Stimulus Bill–How Costly Is It Really?
WorldNetDaily wrote on February 13:
“Before this bill is signed, actual federal obligations are already $65.5 trillion – exceeding the gross domestic product of the entire world. The Obama administration economic stimulus package is going to force the Treasury to borrow approximately $2.5 trillion in 2009 and another $4 trillion in 2010, with the result of increasing the current $10 trillion national debt by 65 percent in just two years. If the Obama administration increases the national debt by 65 percent every two years, the debt will be $16.5 trillion in 2010 and $27.225 trillion by 2012, the year of the next presidential election.
“Let’s consider the real meaning of these numbers:
“… If you had gone into business on the day Jesus was born, and your business lost a million dollars a day, 365 days a year, it would take you until October 2737 to lose $1 trillion. $1 trillion dollars divided by 300 million Americans comes out to $3,333 per person. One trillion $1 bills stacked one on top of the other would reach nearly 68,000 miles into the sky, about a third of the way from the Earth to the moon. Earth’s home galaxy, the Milky Way, is estimated to contain about 200 billion stars. So, if each star cost $1, $1 trillion would buy five Milky Way galaxies full of stars.
“But you don’t need to know all that.
“Just let the ‘experts’ in Washington figure it all out for you – the ones who are not even reading the bills, the ones who lied to you last year when they campaigned for office, the ones who are hiding this information from you even today.”
How U.S. Tax Payer Money is “Used”…
Newsmax.com reported on February 14:
“The gargantuan stimulus bill Congress has rubber-stamped with virtually no Republican support contains tens of billions of the very spending projects that made the legislation a lightning rod for criticism. And although the bill is generally described as costing $787 billion, the Congressional Budget Office reports the actual figure is now closer to $3.27 trillion. That stems from the $744 billion it will take to pay for the additional debt the legislation will create, and $2.527 trillion in increased spending from the new and expanded programs the bill will spawn over the next decade…
“The plan has more than $3 billion in ‘neighborhood stabilization’ and Community Development Block Grant funding, much of which may go to benefit ACORN, a low-income housing and voter registration ‘community’ organization that is under federal investigation for its suspicious voter registration practices.
“$1.3 billion [will be used] to bailout AMTRAK, the perennial money-loser railroad. $1 billion for educational programs, including courses on sexually transmitted diseases. $30 million for restoration of wetlands to be spent in the San Francisco Bay Area – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district. The money will go in part to protect the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.
“$200 million for a low-pollution, coal-fired power plant in President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois. $45 million for ATV four-wheeler trails, and government office renovations, according to RNC Chairman Michael Steele. $200 million to provide computers to community colleges.
“$50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts. Over $650 million in coupons to help consumers buy digital TV converter-box coupons. A reported $300 million for hybrid vehicles and electric-powered cars. According to the Washington Times, this item will include buying golf carts for federal workers.”
California at the Abyss
The Los Angeles Times reported on February 16:
“Ending a weekend marathon of tense negotiations, bleary-eyed state lawmakers late Sunday suspended their bid to plug California’s $41-billion deficit… The two-day hunt for a third Republican in the state Senate willing to vote for $14.4 billion in temporary tax increases proved futile…”
Finally, on February 19, the Sacramento Bee reported:
“The state Legislature voted early today to approve a massive budget package of tax increases, spending cuts and borrowing to close a $40 billion deficit after granting major concessions to one holdout Republican senator. The votes came after… 45 1/2 hours, the single longest Senate session in California history.”
Freedom of Speech in California?
The Los Angeles Times reported on February 16:
“A classroom dispute at Los Angeles City College in the emotional aftermath of Proposition 8 has given rise to a lawsuit testing the balance between 1st Amendment rights and school codes on offensive speech. Student Jonathan Lopez says his professor called him a ‘fascist bastard’ and refused to let him finish his speech against same-sex marriage during a public speaking class last November, weeks after California voters approved the ban on such unions…
“Lopez also said the teacher threatened to have him expelled when he complained to higher-ups. In addition to financial damages, the suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks to strike down a sexual harassment code barring students from uttering ‘offensive’ statements…
“Lopez, a Los Angeles resident working toward an associate of arts degree, is described in the suit as a Christian who considers it a religious duty to share his beliefs, particularly with other students… Lopez is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and co-founded by evangelical leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family…”
Germany to Rescue Ireland?
The Sunday Times wrote on February 15:
“Fears are mounting that Ireland could default on its soaring national debt pile, amid continuing worries about its troubled banking sector. The cost of buying insurance against Irish government bonds rose to record highs on Friday, having almost tripled in a week. Debt-market investors now rank Ireland as the most troubled economy in Europe…
“With Ireland set to borrow an additional €15 billion (£13.4 billion) this year, the national debt pile will hit €70 billion… One possible solution would see Germany buy billions of euros of Irish government debt through a fund set up by the European Central Bank.”
Germany to Help in Rebuilding Iraq?
The Associated Press reported on February 17:
“Germany’s foreign minister met with top Iraqi leaders in Baghdad on Tuesday in the latest high-level visit by a major Western nation that opposed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion…
“Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s visit–the first by a German foreign minister since 1987–comes on the heels of a similar trip by French President Nicolas Sarkozy a week ago… German and French companies could… [strike] lucrative Iraq reconstruction contracts. Iraqi leaders appear eager to shore up their ties with European nations like Germany and France to ease their dependence on the United States.”
Demonstrations and Clashes in Dresden
Bloomberg reported on February 14:
“German anti-immigrant, skinhead and neo-Nazi groups in the eastern city of Dresden staged one of their biggest demonstrations since German reunification in 1990 today, as 6,000 extremists marched through the streets, police said.
“Groups tied to the National Democratic Party used the 64th anniversary of the 1945 firebombing of Dresden to hold a ‘mourning march’ through the [capitol] of the state of Saxony. Two counter-demonstrations, led by unions and political activists, drew almost 10,000… a group of historians commissioned by the city last year concluded that as many as 25,000 died [during the 1945 fire bombing]… Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz, has also said online activity is increasing organization among extremist groups.”
The Los Angeles Times added on February 14:
“Police clashed with leftist opponents of a march by about 6,000 right-wingers marking the anniversary of the Allied bombing of Dresden during World War II. A police spokesman said the leftists tipped over two police vehicles and threw bottles and rocks as authorities struggled to keep the two groups separated. Several police officers and demonstrators were injured and some people were detained… A third group held a largely peaceful march in Dresden.”
France Was Responsible for Deporting Jews
The Times wrote on February 17:
“The French State was responsible for deporting Jews during the Second World War, the top judicial authority ruled for the first time yesterday, but it dismayed families of victims by declaring that they had already been compensated.
“The… Council of State… called for a ‘solemn recognition of the responsibility of the State’. France was ‘responsible for damages caused by actions which did not result from the occupiers’ direct orders but facilitated deportation from France of people who were victims of anti-Semitic persecution’, it said. The ruling endorses a view that was proclaimed by the former President Jacques Chirac when he took office in 1995.”
Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Europe?
Times on Line wrote on February 16:
“World depressions lead to a rise in anti-Semitism. All over Europe, the evidence is around us… As the world enters a new era of crisis, anti-Semitism is back. History, as ever, begins to repeat itself…
“The Great Depression gave rise to the worst expressions of anti-Semitism ever seen, namely the politics that led to the Holocaust. But even in Britain the Duke of Wellington of the time was leader of a secret anti-Jewish organisation which had the initials PJ – Perish Judah – on its letterhead…
“The distress and upset over the terrible pictures of children killed in Israel’s attacks on Hamas in Gaza have allowed anti-Israeli feelings to be more violently and vehemently expressed than ever before. Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic. But all anti-Semites hate the existence of a Jewish state…
“In Italy, the streets of Milan are daubed with slogans urging Italians not to buy goods at Jewish shops – an echo of the Nazi slogan ‘Kauft Nicht Bei Juden’. In Germany, radio phone-ins are full of accusations that the bankers accused of being responsible for the current economic crisis are Jews. In anti-Israel demonstrations in Berlin, placards stating ‘It was a good idea to use gas’ or ‘I’m anti-Semitic and that’s a good thing’ were carried…”
Israel Engaged in Covert War of Sabotage Inside Iran
Welt On Line reported on February 17:
“Israel is involved in a covert war of sabotage inside Iran in an effort to delay Tehran’s attempts to develop a nuclear weapon, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Tuesday… As evidence of Israel’s reported strategy, Iran watchers have pointed to events such as the death of Ardeshire Hassanpour, a nuclear scientist at the Isfahan uranium plant who died at home from apparent gas poisoning in 2007.
“Meir Javendafar, an Iran expert at Meepas, a Middle East analysis group, said there were also reports Iran was being sold faulty equipment for its nuclear programme on international markets, and that there were attempts to disrupt the electricity supply to Natanz, a uranium enrichment facility in central Iran…
“However, he said there were also indications that several more countries other than Israel were involved in attempting to infiltrate Iran to disrupt its nuclear programme… ‘Numerous intelligence agencies are trying their best to do this. Not just Israel but the Americans and many European spy agencies — there are even reports that neutrals such as Holland have been involved,’ he said… ‘Since none of this is confirmed, we can’t be sure. But even if there’s no truth to it, it’s part of what is a massive psychological war against Iran’s nuclear programme…'”
The “Unthinkable” Could Have Happened!
The English tabloid, The Sun, reported on February 16:
“British and French nuclear submarines which collided deep under the Atlantic could have sunk or released deadly radioactivity, it emerged last night. The Royal Navy’s HMS Vanguard and the French Navy’s Le Triomphant are both nuclear powered and were carrying nuke missiles. Between them they had around 250 sailors on board.
“A senior Navy source said: ‘The potential consequences are unthinkable. It’s very unlikely there would have been a nuclear explosion. But a radioactive leak was a possibility. Worse, we could have lost the crew and warheads. That would have been a national disaster.’
“The collision is believed to have taken place on February 3 or 4, in mid-Atlantic. Both subs were submerged and on separate missions. As inquiries began, naval sources said it was a millions-to-one unlucky chance both subs were in the same patch of sea. Warships have sonar gear which locates submarines by sound waves… this is the biggest embarrassment to the Navy since Iran captured 15 sailors in 2007.”
The Independent added on February 17:
“Defence chiefs are facing an inquiry into the safety of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent after British and French submarines, each laden with missiles powerful enough for 1,248 Hiroshima bombings, collided while submerged in the mid-Atlantic…
“Anti-nuclear campaigners said the two vessels had been moments from a potentially catastrophic accident which could have resulted in the widespread release of radioactive material…”
How Europe Muzzles Its Member States
Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 16:
“The Federal Constitutional Court in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe had hardly begun its hearing on the Lisbon Treaty when a higher power — the European Court of Justice — intervened. The Luxembourg-based rival court’s demonstration that there are no limits to the Eurocrats’ claim to power — was spread by whispers through the German courtroom… The [European] court’s reasoning seemed bizarre… It’s a cunning line of argumentation which effectively allows the court to intervene in many different political spheres within member countries…
“A [proposed national] veto [to be included in the Lisbon Treaty]… is only useful with those decisions that must be made unanimously. But all areas of domestic and legal policy where competency is transferred to the European bodies under the Lisbon Treaty would be exempt from the unanimity requirement. Even worse, the European Council can also decide to apply the majority vote principle to decisions that would normally require a unanimous vote. If that happens, Germany could simply be overruled, such as on the question of joint military operations abroad…”
Europe Still in Need of Strong Unifying Leadership
Der Spiegel wrote on February 16:
“As the economy in the European Union sinks deeper into recession, Brussels has proven itself to be devoid of ideas and solutions. Member states are going it alone — and often getting in each other’s way… There is, in short, little good that Brussels can do. But it can do plenty of harm…
“A wave of bankruptcies is spreading throughout the European economy. In Italy, bankruptcies were up 30 percent last year, and they have almost doubled in Ireland and Spain. This year experts anticipate about 35,000 bankruptcy filings in Germany, where the most prominent victims to date include underwear producer Schiesser, model train maker Märklin and porcelain company Rosenthal [In addition, Hertie and Opel are also in deep financial trouble].
“The economic climate in the European common currency zone has reached ‘an historic low’… Countries like Romania are on the brink of bankruptcy. The Greek health minister is not even able to pay suppliers to government-owned hospitals… The Swedish government has promised Swedish automakers Saab and Volvo government subsidies if they agree to shift production away from Germany and Belgium and home to Sweden. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has hinted to Fiat that he plans to rescue the company if need be.
“And in Germany the latest conservative rising star is already wading into protectionist territory. Shortly before his appointment as Berlin’s new economics minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a Bavarian, blue-blooded member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), made it clear that he plans to stimulate ‘jobs in Germany, not in the Far East.’
“It was precisely these sorts of protectionist policies that fired up the worldwide economic crisis in the 1930s. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, the current holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency, warned that the ‘scenario of 1930’ could repeat itself. German Finance Minister Steinbrück warned of a ‘race of the lemmings.’
“French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who sought to portray himself as a model European only last year, is suddenly an ardent nationalist. He wants to lend French automakers PSA Peugeot Citroën and Renault a total of €6 billion ($7.8 billion) at low interest rates to ‘keep jobs in France’…
“But the Germans, too, quickly turn into combative nationalists when their own interests are at stake…
“Economic policy measures can be left largely to the jurisdiction of the member states… Europe today is only as strong as the 27 heads of government in the EU allow it to be. But views on many issues differ widely in Berlin, London, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague or Riga — not exactly a basis for workable bailout concepts.”
80th Anniversary of the Vatican City State
The Catholic news agency, Zenit, reported on February 13:
“Despite its small size, Vatican City State is great in other aspects, according to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Benedict XVI’s secretary of state said Thursday at the opening of the congress ‘A Small Territory for a Great Mission,’ held in Rome’s Lateran palace, that the Vatican is ‘small but great; the greatest in the world from any point of view.’
“The event, organized by the Governorate of the Holy See, marks the 80th anniversary of the Feb. 11, 1929, accords that recognized the independence and sovereignty of the Holy See, created the Vatican City State, and defined the civil and religious relationship between the government and the Church in Italy… The signing of the Lateran Pacts [under Benito Mussolini] put an end to the so-called ‘Roman question’ that began in 1870 when Italy invaded and took possession of Church properties…”
Tame Chimpanzee Becomes Violent
The Associated Press reported on February 17:
“A 200-pound domesticated chimpanzee who once starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola was shot dead by police after a violent rampage that left a friend of its owner badly mauled. Sandra Herold, who owned the 15-year-old chimp named Travis, wrestled with the animal after it inexplicably attacked her friend Charla Nash, 55…
“After the initial attack, Travis ran away and started roaming Herold’s property until police arrived… the chimpanzee… went after several of the officers, who retreated into their cars… Travis knocked the mirror off a cruiser before opening its door and starting to get in, trapping the officer. That officer shot the chimpanzee several times… The wounded chimpanzee fled the scene, but… police were able to follow the trail of his blood: down the driveway, into the open door of the home, through the house and to his living quarters, where he had retreated and died of his wounds.
“… the chimp was acting so agitated earlier that afternoon that Herold gave him the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in some tea [Xanax can lead to aggression in people, but Herold later denied that she had given Xanax to the chimp]… the animal may have attacked Nash because she was wearing her hair differently and perhaps wasn’t recognized… Police have dealt with [Travis] in the past, including an incident in 2003 when he escaped from his owners’ vehicle in downtown Stamford for two hours. Officers used cookies, macadamia treats and ice cream in an attempt to lure him, but subdued him only after he became too tired to resist.
“… the chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass. He also brushed his teeth using a Water Pik, logged onto the computer to look at pictures, and watched television using the remote control… ‘He’s been raised almost like a child by this family,’ [the police said]. ‘He rides in a car every day, he opens doors, he’s a very unique animal in that aspect….'”
In its article of February 17, the New York Post quoted a police spokesman as saying: “There was no provocation that we know of. One thing that we’re looking into is that we understand the chimpanzee has Lyme disease and has been ill from that, so maybe from the medications he was out of sorts. We really don’t know.”
The paper also quoted Colleen McCann, a primatologist at the Bronx Zoo, as saying that “chimps are… dangerous even after living among humans for years. ‘They are unpredictable, and in instances like this you cannot control that behavior or prevent it from happening if it is in a private home,’ she said.”
In a recent video-taped sermon series, Norbert Link addresses the increasingly violent behavior of animals around the world. The sermons can be viewed on Google Video or on our Webpage.
Why don't many editions of the Bible contain the Apocrypha?
The Apocrypha are a collection of books, which were written in Greek by various individuals from about 400 to 200 B.C. The Catholic Church considers some of these books as inspired Scripture.
At the Council of Trent (1546 A.D.), the Catholic Church declared that some apocryphal books, together with unwritten Catholic tradition, are of God. It was stated that those who disagreed with this decision were to be considered “anathema.”
The Roman Catholic Church (as well as the Greek Orthodox Church) consider the following Apocrypha (which are also referred to as Deuterocanonical books) as inspired:
Tobit or Tobias
Wisdom of Solomon
Jesus Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
Baruch (including the letter of Jeremiah, Baruch 6)
First and Second Maccabees
Additions to Esther and Daniel [i.e., added chapters at the end of the book of Esther; and added chapters to the book of Daniel, including Prayer of Azariah (Daniel 3:24-50); the Song of the Three Young Men (Daniel 3:51-90); Susanna (Daniel 13); and Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14)].
The Catholic Church rejected as inspired the Apocryphal Books of Third and Fourth Maccabees, Psalm 151, First and Second Esdras, and the Prayer of Manasseh, as well as the so-called Pseudepigrapha, which were written between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. and which contain, among other writings, the books of Enoch, Michael the Archangel, and Jannes and Jambres. There are additional Pseudepigrapha books, which were possibly written after Christ’s death and which were likewise rejected as inspired, such as the Assumption of Moses, the Apocalypse of Elijah, and the Ascension of Isaiah.
When the Catholic Church decided in 1546 to treat some of the Apocrypha as inspired, their decision had been preceded by a hot debate among early “Church Fathers.” Hilary (bishop of Poictiers, 350 A.D.) rejected as inspired the Apocrypha (Prologue to the Psalms, Sec. 15), and so did Epiphanius (360 A.D.). Referring to the Wisdom of Solomon and the book of Jesus Sirach, he said: “These indeed are useful books and profitable, but they are not placed in the number of the canonical.” In addition, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius and Jerome spoke out against the inspiration of the Apocrypha.
In his preface to the Wisdom of Solomon, Jerome (340-420 A.D.) rejected the Apocrypha as godly inspired, stating: “As the Church reads the books of Judith and Tobit and Maccabees but does not receive them among the canonical Scriptures, so also it reads Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus for the edification of the people, not for the authoritative confirmation of doctrine.”
According to Edward Hills in “The King James Version Defended,” page 98, other famous Catholics with this viewpoint included Augustine (354-430 A.D., who at first defended the Apocrypha as canonical), Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 A.D.), Cardinal Ximenes, and Cardinal Cajetan.
The Protestant Churches have rejected as inspired all of the Apocrypha. It has been said that the translators of the early King James Bible (Authorized Version) felt that some of the Apocrypha were inspired, but this is incorrect. It is true that in early editions of the King James Bible, the Apocrypha were placed between the Old and New Testaments. But this was done as an appendix of reference material. The Apocrypha began to be omitted from the Authorized Version in 1629 A.D.
Luther stated: “Apocrypha–that is, books which are not regarded as equal to the holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read” (compare, “The King James Version Defended,” page 98). Calvin wrote: “I am not one of those, however, who would entirely disapprove the reading of those books.” His objection was to “placing the Apocrypha in the same rank” with inspired Scripture (“Antidote” to the Council of Trent, pp. 67,68).
WE MUST STATE THAT THE APOCRYPHA ARE NOT INSPIRED WRITINGS.
Although there are many reasons why this is the case and why the Apocrypha must not be viewed as inspired, we are setting forth several striking examples for this conclusion:
1) The Jewish Canon never included the Apocrypha. This is important, as Romans 3:1-2 tells us that the Jews were given the godly responsibility to preserve the “oracles,” including the Hebrew Scriptures.
As a consequence, the Jewish scholars of Jamnia (90 A.D.) rejected the Apocrypha as divinely inspired. Philo, a Jewish teacher from Alexandria (20 B.C.- 40 A.D.), quoted extensively from virtually every canonical Hebrew book but never once quoted from the Apocrypha.
Josephus (30-100 A.D.) said that the prophets wrote from the time of Moses to that of Artaxerxes, and that no writing since that time had the same authority. In fact, the Jewish people reportedly destroyed the Apocrypha after the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
The Jewish Talmud teaches that the Holy Spirit departed from Israel after the time of the prophet Malachi who lived about four centuries before Christ. While the proof of this assertion is not directly stated in the Word of God, the evidence is that no further inspired writings were given by God until Jesus Christ established the New Testament Church of God.
2) Jesus Himself confirmed the inspired canon of the Hebrew Bible and its correct order (which is divided into the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms). When speaking about the violent death of righteous people, He said in Luke 11:51: “… from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple…” The death of Abel is recorded in Genesis, the first book in the Hebrew canon. The death of Zechariah is included in 2 Chronicles, the last book of the Hebrew canon.
3) It is also worthy to note that the New Testament never quotes from ANY of the Apocrypha, while it quotes extensively from EVERY section of the Old Testament Scriptures, which Jesus referred to as “ALL the Scripture” (Luke 24:27). In fact, there are allegedly 263 quotations and 370 allusions to the Old Testament in the New Testament and not one of them refers to the Apocrypha.
4) While the inspired Scriptures make the claim for themselves that they ARE inspired and infallible, the Apocrypha do NOT make this claim for their own writings.
For instance, the author of 2 Maccabees writes:
“… At this point I shall bring my work to an end. If it is found to be well written and aptly composed, that is what I myself aimed at; if superficial and mediocre, it was the best I could do” (2 Maccabees 15:37-38, Revised English Bible).
5) The Apocrypha contain blatant contradictions, but God’s inspired Word does not contradict itself (compare John 10:35). For example, in the two books of the Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes dies three different deaths in three different places.
6) The Apocrypha include teachings which contradict the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures, showing that the Apocrypha could not possibly be inspired. For instance, 2 Maccabees 12:42-45 states in the New Revised Standard Version, that 2.000 drachmas of silver were sent to Jerusalem for a sin-offering and to “pray for the dead,” so that “atonement” or reconciliation for the dead could be made, so that “they might be delivered from sin.” The Revised English Bible translates that they were praying and giving the silver drachmas “to free the dead from their sin.” This concept of praying and paying for the dead is contrary to the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures (and to the teaching of the New Testament).
A terrible example of wrong teaching is included in Tobit 6:5, 8, where the “angel Azariah” gave the following “healing” advice: “Cut open the fish and take out the gall, heart, and liver… For its gall, heart, and liver are useful medicines… As for the fish’s heart and liver, you must burn them to make a smoke in the presence of a man or woman afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, and every affliction will flee away and never remain with that person any longer.”
We must therefore conclude that the Apocrypha are NOT inspired writings, and that they do not belong in the Bible. This is not to say that they must never be read. Especially historical records, for instance the first two books of the Maccabees, can give us valuable information. But as is the case with every book other than the inspired writings contained in the Holy Bible (the writings of Josephus, for example, are of historical value, but they are not “inspired”), we need to be aware that we will be reading, to a larger or smaller degree, truth mixed with error.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Our new booklet on the prophetic Book of Zechariah has entered the first editorial review cycle.
A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube. It is titled, “WHY Is Christ’s Return Near?” In the program, Norbert Link is asking the question: How can we be sure that Christ will return soon? Did He give us signs to watch for? What are they? Are present world conditions any indication that the “end is near”? If so, why is today different from the last two thousand years since Jesus’ death and resurrection?
A new German sermon was recorded this week and will be posted soon on Google Video and our German Webpage. The sermon addresses the literal truthfulness of the book of Jonah and discusses valuable lessons which we can apply today. It is titled, “Was Jona Uns Lehrt” (“What Jonah Teaches Us.”)
Our annual conference is scheduled for February 26 to March 3. Please pray for safe travel for all participants and for successful and inspired sessions.
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