Update #410



On September 5, 2009, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Fellowship.”

The services can be heard at  www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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"Test Yourselves"

by Dave Harris

Recently, Norbert Link has begun an important and eye-opening series of sermons about the book of Galatians. One aspect that immediately stands out is his clarification of the true source of a Christian’s faith–that it is Jesus Christ and not ourselves!

Galatians 2, verse 16, states: “‘…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith [of] Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith [of] Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.'”

Note that the NKJV along with most translations do not accurately portray the real meaning of this powerful verse; hence the bracketed word “of”–instead of “in”–renders more accurately what Paul actually wrote. The continuing verses (17-19) reinforce this meaning, and verse 20 is very explicit in showing that it is Christ’s living faith at work in us that we now have:

“‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith [of] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.'”

We have been taught–and we should know with certainty–that Jesus Christ, our Savior, is not only alive and seated at the right hand of God acting as High Priest on our behalf, but He and the Father live in us through the Holy Spirit (compare John 14:23). Without such a godly relationship, we would have no basis for hope beyond this life! Note how Paul explained this in writing to the brethren in Colosse about the mystery God was revealing to them:

“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

People talk about Jesus Christ–and hundreds of millions of people have said He is the Messiah. This is not enough, and Jesus very specifically warned His followers to not be deceived by these proclamations (compare Matthew 24:4-5).

The real test to know for sure is to know that Christ is living His life in us, and Paul challenges us on this point:

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, THAT JESUS CHRIST IS IN YOU?–unless indeed you [do not stand the test]” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The relevancy for us could not be more urgent! Just take time to consider the trials faced by those called to the knowledge of the Truth in both this and past decades. Now also think about what we know from God’s Word about prophecies for the times ahead! In speaking about what His servants would face–especially, in the closing generation of this age–Jesus makes a promise. His statement shows the absolute proof that He both is and will continue living in His followers to impart His faith, His wisdom and whatever we need from Him:

“‘[F]or I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist'” (Luke 21:15).

The Word of God abounds with the true understanding of the relationship we are to have with the Father and His Son. That same document challenges everyone to make certain–even to “test yourselves”!

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We begin with an article discussing the distinct possibility of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran without giving prior notice to or obtaining consent from the U.S.A. We continue with another article about the terrible prospect of the use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and the potentially catastrophic consequences for the USA. One commentator suggests that a “regional war or nuclear attack could cause an already shaky U.S. economy to collapse… Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead… That would be a world without America, as a practical matter.”

While the evidence strongly suggests the existence of an oil-related deal between Britain and Libya to release a convicted Libyan mass murderer and terrorist (in spite of the weak denial of Justice Secretary Jack Straw)–leading to a further erosion of the U.S.-British “friendship”–surprising election results in Germany and Japan show that one can never be too sure of political outcomes. The “erosion” of the main German parties and the fact that the main winners were the “smaller parties in Germany’s increasingly fragmented political landscape” (such as the Left party, descendants of the former ruling party of communist East Germany), bring back grim memories of the Weimar Republic, which led to the rise of Hitler. And it is exactly 70 years ago, that World War II started, on September 1, 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland.

Arab nations are gaining economic influence in Germany, foreshadowing a biblically-prophesied economic and political arrangement or “confederacy” between Germany and certain Arab countries; and the outcome of the Japanese election suggests that the “U.S.-led Pax Americana era has come to an end.” At the same time, the new Japanese government vows to improve ties with Asian neighbors–which is remarkable in light of biblical prophecy, showing that a powerful huge army of Far Eastern nations will invade the Middle East in the near future.

Turning our attention to the USA, American voters are disillusioned with their Congress as never before. 57% would vote to replace the entire Congress and start all over. Still, more than 90% of Congress routinely gets reelected every two years–showing how absolutely ludicrous our voting habits are. While more REALLY bad news surfaced regarding President Obama’s health care proposals and California’s troubles don’t seem to end–now being engulfed with seven terrible wild fires–UPS faces accusations of willful discrimination and violation of their employees’ constitutional rights (such as the right to observe the Seventh-Day Sabbath); and more and more U.S. banks are collapsing.

We conclude with a macabre development in Europe and the USA–the merchandise of human bodies and body parts. One of the main villains in this despicable but highly lucrative business worth billions of dollars is a German company, headquartered in Bavaria. But man’s willingness to stop at NOTHING will find its sudden end, as Revelation 18:9-20 reveals. In that context, Revelation 18:13 refers specifically, among other things, to the merchandise of “bodies and souls of men.”

For more information on biblical prophecy in light of world news (including those developments reported herein), please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy,” “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” and “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

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Will Israel Attack Iran Without Prior Notice?

The LA Times wrote on August 30:

“Iran has until late September to respond to the latest international proposal aimed at stopping the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon. Under the proposal, Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment program in exchange for a U.N. Security Council commitment to forgo a fourth round of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

“But if diplomacy fails, the world should be prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities… If Israel attempts such a high-risk and destabilizing strike against Iran, President Obama will probably learn of the operation from CNN rather than the CIA. History shows that although Washington seeks influence over Israel’s military operations, Israel would rather explain later than ask for approval in advance of launching preventive or preemptive attacks. Those hoping that the Obama administration will be able to pressure Israel to stand down from attacking Iran as diplomatic efforts drag on are mistaken.

“The current infighting among Iran’s leaders also has led some to incorrectly believe that Tehran’s nuclear efforts will stall. As Friday’s International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear programs revealed, throughout the political crises of the last three months, Iran’s production rate for centrifuges has remained steady, as has its ability to produce uranium hexafluoride to feed into the centrifuges.

“So let’s consider four past Israeli military operations relevant to a possible strike against Iran.

“In October 1956, Israel, Britain and France launched an ill-fated assault against Egypt to seize control of the Suez Canal. The day before, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles grilled Abba Eban, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., about Israel’s military buildup on the border with Egypt, but Eban kept quiet about his country’s plans.

“In June 1967, Israel initiated the Six-Day War without notice to Washington, despite President Johnson’s insistence that Israel maintain the status quo and consult with the U.S. before taking action…

“On June 7, 1981, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak shortly before it was to be fueled to develop the capacity to make nuclear weapons-grade plutonium. Again, Washington was not informed in advance. President Reagan ‘condemned’ the attack and ‘thought that there were other options that might have been considered.’

“A few days later, Prime Minister Menachem Begin told CBS News: ‘This attack will be a precedent for every future government in Israel. … Every future Israeli prime minister will act, in similar circumstances, in the same way.’

“Begin’s prediction proved true on Sept. 6, 2007, when Israeli aircraft destroyed what was believed to be a North Korean-supplied plutonium reactor in Al Kibar, Syria. Four months earlier, Israeli intelligence officials had provided damning evidence to the Bush administration about the reactor, and the Pentagon drew up plans to attack it. Ironically, according to New York Times reporter David Sanger, President Bush ultimately decided the U.S. could not bomb another country for allegedly possessing weapons of mass destruction. An administration official noted that Israel’s attack went forward ‘without a green light from us. None was asked for, none was given.’

“These episodes demonstrate that if Israel decides that Iranian nuclear weapons are an existential threat, it will be deaf to entreaties from U.S. officials to refrain from using military force…”

Could Iran Destroy the USA?

Newsmax wrote on August 30:

“Concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities — and their potentially devastating impact on America — are mounting… The Islamic republic has test-fired missiles capable of reaching Israel, southeastern Europe, and U.S. bases in the Mideast — and published reports say Iran is within a year of developing its own nuclear bomb…

“The United States is caught in the middle of a Mideast faceoff between one of its strongest allies, Israel, and Iran. Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, and Israel refuses to rule out a preemptive strike against its adversary, while insisting that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

“If the United States tries to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons, its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has vowed a campaign of bloody revenge. Iran’s hatred of Israel ‘is rooted in ideology,’ said Walid Phares of Foundation for Defense of Democracies. ‘The Iranian regime is jihadist, and they do not acknowledge nor accept the idea that a non-Islamic, non-jihadist state could exist in the region.’

“Although Iran is thousands of miles from America’s shores, its belligerent actions could have far-reaching repercussions. A regional war or nuclear attack could cause an already shaky U.S. economy to collapse. Even scarier is the growing threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack, security analysts say. Such an attack could destroy all electronic devices over a massive area, from cell phones to computers to America’s electrical grid, experts say.

“’Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity,’ said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. ‘That would be a world without America, as a practical matter. And that is exactly what I believe the Iranians are working towards.'”

The British-Libyan Deal

The Sunday Times wrote on August 30:

“The British government decided it was ‘in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom’ to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal. Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

“The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release. The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests…

“Straw initially intended to exclude Megrahi from a prisoner transfer agreement with Colonel Muammar Gadaffi… Straw then switched his position as Libya used its deal with BP as a bargaining chip to insist the Lockerbie bomber was included…

“In a letter leaked by a Whitehall source, he wrote: ‘I had previously accepted the importance of the al-Megrahi issue to Scotland and said I would try to get an exclusion for him on the face of the agreement. I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion. The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the [prisoner transfer agreement] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual.’

“Within six weeks of the government climbdown, Libya had ratified the BP deal. The prisoner transfer agreement was finalised in May this year, leading to Libya formally applying for Megrahi to be transferred to its custody. Saif Gadaffi, the colonel’s son, has insisted that negotiation over the release of Megrahi was linked with the BP oil deal…”

Not surprisingly, Jack Straw denied allegations of a deal. In an article published by the BBC, dated August 30, it is stated:

“Justice Secretary Jack Straw has said reports that the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was released over an oil deal are ‘wholly untrue’…

“Responding to the report [of the Sunday Times, quoted above], Mr Straw said on Sunday that the ‘normalisation of relations with Libya’ was in the UK’s interests… Mr Straw said a prisoner transfer agreement was part of that agreement. ‘But was there a deal? A covert, secret deal ever struck with the Libyans to release Megrahi in return for oil? No, there was not and there is no evidence whatsoever because it is untrue'”…

“Liberal Democrat MP Sir Menzies Campbell, a member of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, said: ‘Jack Straw’s intervention has simply muddied the waters. We need a full and frank comprehensive statement about the extent to which Mr Megrahi’s fate may have featured in any trade negotiations between the United Kingdom and Libya…’

“David Lidington, the Conservatives’ foreign affairs spokesman, said leaks and ‘secrecy’ around the case were damaging to international relations and public trust…”

Special Relationship Between Britain and USA Is Dead

The Times wrote on September 1, 2009:

“Michael Jackson is dead — and so now is the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the United States. The row over the decision to allow Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi to return to Libya is the final nail in the coffin for the transatlantic bond first identified by Winston Churchill after the Second World War. Even Barack Obama abandoned his normal diplomatic tone to criticise the ‘highly objectionable’ arrival of the bomber in Tripoli. Robert Mueller, the head of the FBI, said that the release of the man convicted of murdering 270 people on Pan Am Flight 103 made a ‘mockery of justice’ and would give ‘comfort to terrorists around the world’. There was a widespread assumption in Washington all along that the decision was linked to a trade deal.

“For the Americans, this is not just about justice it is also about trust — the White House sees the release of al-Megrahi as a blatant breach of an agreement given by the British Government that he would serve out his sentence in Scotland. It is impossible to sustain a relationship, let alone a special one, if one partner can no longer believe what the other one says. In Whitehall there are already nervous mutterings about whether intelligence-sharing and military co-operation will be able to continue in the same way.

“This may be a tipping point but in fact the United States has been tilting away from Britain for some time. Ironically, at the very moment when people in this country are rediscovering after years of hostility their love of America — as a result of the election of the first black president — the Americans are tiring of their old European flame.

“On holiday on Long Island this summer, I was struck by the anti-British mood… In different areas, antipathy towards Britain is taking hold just as anti-Americanism in this country fades… Newsweek, the magazine that hailed Cool Britannia in the 1990s, recently redefined us as ‘Little Britain’, a nation struggling to keep a foothold in a rapidly changing world…

“There was always an inequality between Britain and America, but the US used to respect the UK because it was reliable. With the release of al-Megrahi the bond of trust has been destroyed. The special relationship is over, but the real problem is that it is not at all clear what if anything will replace it. It is 45 years since the late US Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that ‘Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role’. As the balance of power shifts around the world, it is even farther from finding one now.”

Could World War II Have Been Prevented?

Der Spiegel wrote on September 1 and 2:

“World War II began 70 years ago when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. It would last six years… But the Allies missed several opportunities to stop Hitler in the run-up to the war… The inferno Hitler had unleashed led to an escalation of violence unprecedented in the history of mankind. About 60 million people were killed, more than half of them women, children and the elderly. Six million people died in the Holocaust alone…

“In the years leading up to World War II, Britain and France underestimated just how determined Adolf Hitler was in his lust for conquest. The failure of Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement meant war was inevitable.”

Bad State Election Results for Merkel

The Financial Times wrote on August 30:

“Angela Merkel, German chancellor, suffered an electoral setback four weeks before the country’s general election… Elections in the small western state of Saarland and in the eastern states of Saxony and Thuringia revealed an erosion of the CDU’s influence. But they also failed to deliver the good news its Social Democratic (SPD) rivals had hoped for.

“The main winners were the smaller parties in Germany’s increasingly fragmented political landscape. The polls showed voters turning away from the CDU and SPD, which have ruled together in a grand federal coalition for four years and have held a dominant place in German political life since the second world war.

“The two main parties saw their total vote share fall from 78.3 per cent to less than 60 per cent in Saarland and from 57.5 per cent to 50.9 per cent in Thuringia… In the two eastern states, the SPD ended behind the radical Left party. In Saxony it also finished behind the pro-business Free Democratic party… The regional polls are a key milestone before the September 27 general election and are a bitter disappointment for the SPD…”

Der Spiegel Online added on August 31:

“If Sunday’s vote showed anything, it was that a ‘black-yellow’ coalition — as the CDU-FDP alliance is known, after the parties’ official colors — is far from certain on the national level. Even in the eastern state of Saxony, where the CDU got 40 percent of the vote, a coalition government featuring the FDP as junior partner is not certain. Reports that the national election had already been decided appear to have been greatly exaggerated…

“It’s safe to assume that the SPD will attack more strongly in the coming weeks… But their main target will not be the current chancellor and CDU leader, Angela Merkel — she is too strong and most Germans seem to want to keep her in the top slot. The attacks will be aimed at FDP chief Guido Westerwelle. As the designated foreign minister (a position traditionally given to the governing coalition’s junior partner) with no obvious expertise in international politics, he represents the weakest point of a CDU-FDP coalition. As Sunday evening showed, the weaker the FDP, the greater the SPD’s chances of staying in government.”

Deutsche Welle added on August 31:

“… on Monday, many German newspapers warned against reading too much into Sunday’s election results. ‘Interpreting this setback [for Merkel] as a clear signal of a turnaround in the battle for Berlin in four weeks is wide of the mark,’ the Financial Times Deutschland wrote. Business daily Handelsblatt noted that ‘trying to predict the outcome of the federal election from Sunday’s results is about as reliable as reading tea leaves.'” 

The Netzeitung wrote on September 2:

“Germany’s neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) stands to gain a taxpayer-funded windfall for being re-elected to Saxony’s state parliament on Sunday, according to daily paper Die Tageszeitung. The paper reported this week that the NPD is set to receive EUR 100,000 of Saxon state money to fund its political foundation Bildungswerk für Heimat und Nationalstaat… The NPD says the foundation’s far-right message aims to educate people about the German homeland and nationalism.

“‘This [re-election] shows the NPD has a core voting public,’ Anetta Kahane, chairwoman of the Amedau Antonio Foundation in Berlin, told Die Tageszeitung, adding it was ‘sheer luck’ that the NPD didn’t also win seats in the Thuringia state parliament at the weekend. In Thuringia the NPD fell just below the five-percent limit with 4.3 percent of the popular vote.”

However, the Left party (“Linke”), descendants of the former ruling party of communist East Germany, and the FDP, a conservative-leaning business-friendly party, were Sunday’s biggest winners. The “Linke” received 21.3% of the votes in Saarland; 20.6% in Saxony; and 27.4% in Thuringia. The CDU lost 20 seats in all three states and the SPD lost one. The FDP gained 16 seats; and the Linke gained eight. In addition to the victory of the “Linke” in two former East German states and in Saarland, on the French border, Germany’s increasingly fragmented political landscape is of great concern, as it might remind us of the terrible times of the Weimar Republic, leading to the rise of Adolph Hitler.

Qatar Invests Heavily in Volkswagen

Netzeitung wrote on August 29:

“The Gulf state of Qatar has taken a 6.78-percent stake in Europe’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen as part of a plan to take over around 17 percent of the company… Qatar’s investment will total some EUR 7 billion and the country will become the third biggest shareholder in Volkswagen behind the Porsche and Piech families and the German state of Lower Saxony.”

This development is interesting in light of the fact that the Bible speaks of a coming “confederacy” between Germany and Arab nations in the near future.

Changes in Japan–Has the U.S.-Led Pax Americana Era Come to an End?

The Associated Press wrote on August 30:

“Japan’s ruling party conceded a crushing defeat Sunday after 54 years of nearly unbroken rule as voters were poised to hand the opposition a landslide victory in nationwide elections, driven by economic anxiety and a powerful desire for change… ‘These results are very severe,’ Prime Minister Taro Aso said in a news conference at party headquarters, conceding his party was headed for a big loss. ‘There has been a deep dissatisfaction with our party’…

“The loss by the Liberal Democrats — traditionally a pro-business, conservative party — would open the way for the [left-of-center] Democratic Party, headed by Yukio Hatoyama, to replace Aso and establish a new Cabinet, possibly within the next few weeks. The vote was seen as a barometer of frustrations over Japan’s worst economic slump since World War II and a loss of confidence in the ruling Liberal Democrats’ ability to tackle tough problems such as the rising national debt and rapidly aging population…

“The Democrats have also said they will seek a more independent relationship with Washington, while forging closer ties with Japan’s Asian neighbors, including China…”

Reuters added on August 31:

“The Democrats want to forge a diplomatic stance more independent of the United States, raising fears about possible friction in the alliance. They have also vowed to improve ties with Asian neighbors, often frayed by bitter wartime memories.

“‘(Hatoyama) is basically articulating the idea that the U.S.-led Pax Americana era has come to an end,’ said Sheila Smith at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. ‘My sense… is that they have wanted a little distance between Tokyo and Washington.'”

Incredible News on Japan’s New First Lady

The Independent wrote on September 3:

“Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of Japan’s Prime Minister-elect, Yukio Hatoyama… has travelled to the planet Venus. And she was once abducted by aliens… The 62-year-old also knew Tom Cruise in a former incarnation – when he was Japanese.”

And these are the people who are “helping” to govern countries and who are very influential in the political affairs of this world…

America Has Spoken: Get Rid of Entire Congress

The Rasmussen Report wrote on August 30:

“If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, just 25% of voters nationwide would keep the current batch of legislators. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% would vote to replace the entire Congress and start all over again.

“… the number of Democrats who would vote to keep the entire Congress has grown from 25% last fall to 43% today… 70% of those not affiliated with either major party would vote to replace all of the elected politicians in the House and Senate. That’s up from 62% last year.

“Republicans… overwhelmingly support replacing everyone in the Congress… 69% of GOP Voters say Republicans in Congress are out of touch with the party base.

“Three-out-of-four (74%) trust their own economic judgment more than Congress’… Seventy-five percent (75%) say members of Congress are more interested in their own careers than they are in helping people… Despite these reviews, more than 90% of Congress routinely gets reelected every two years…”

More REALLY Bad News on Obama’s Health Care Proposals

On September 3, the Drudge Report published the following article which was first published by the Washington Examiner on September 2:

“Under the Democrats’ health care proposals, the already powerful — and already feared — IRS would wield even more power and extend its reach even farther into the lives of ordinary Americans, and the presidentially-appointed head of the new health care bureaucracy would have access to confidential IRS information about millions of individual taxpayers. In short, health care reform, as currently envisioned by Democratic leaders, would be built on the foundation of an expanded and more intrusive IRS.

“Under the various proposals now on the table, the IRS would become the main agency for determining who has an ‘acceptable’ health insurance plan; for finding and punishing those who don’t have such a plan; for subsidizing individual health insurance costs through the issuance of a tax credit; and for enforcing the rules on those who attempt to opt out, abuse, or game the system. A substantial portion of H.R. 3200, the House health care bill, is devoted to amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to give the IRS the authority to perform these new duties.

“The Democrats’ plan would require all Americans to have ‘acceptable’ insurance coverage (the legislation includes long and complex definitions of ‘acceptable’) and would designate the IRS as the agency charged with enforcing that requirement. On your yearly 1040 tax return, you would be required to attest that you have ‘acceptable’ coverage. Of course, you might be lying, or simply confused about whether or not you are covered, so the IRS would need a way to check your claim for accuracy. Under current plans, insurers would be required to submit to the IRS something like the 1099 form in which taxpayers report outside income. The IRS would then check the information it receives from the insurers against what you have submitted on your tax form.

“If it all matches up, you’re fine. If it doesn’t, you will hear from the IRS. And if you don’t have ‘acceptable’ coverage, you will be subject to substantial fines — fines that will be administered by the IRS.

“Under some versions of health reform now circulating on Capitol Hill, the IRS would also be intimately involved in how you pay for insurance. Everyone would be required to buy coverage. The millions of Americans who can’t afford it would receive a subsidy to pay for it. Under the version of the plan currently under negotiation in the Senate Finance Committee, that subsidy would come through the IRS in the form of a refundable tax credit. Under the House plan, the subsidy would come directly from the Health Choices Administration.

“In either scenario, the IRS would be the key to making the system work. Before you could receive any subsidy, whether through the IRS or not, the Health Choices Administration would have to determine whether you are eligible for it. To do so, the bills under consideration would give the Health Choices Commissioner the authority to demand sensitive, confidential information from the IRS about individual taxpayers. The IRS would have to provide it…

“So far, there has been little substantive public debate about the integral role of the IRS in nearly every aspect of the various national health care proposals. But people who are closely involved with the process are deeply concerned about what they view as a massive, and in some senses unprecedented, expansion of the Internal Revenue Service…”

California on Fire

The Wall Street Journal reported on August 31:

“California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday declared a state of emergency for four California counties as [at least eight] wildfires burn throughout the state, including a massive one near Los Angeles… With flames about a half-mile away from the communications and astronomy centers on Mount Wilson, crews planned to set more backfires and planes dropped fire retardant around the mountaintop complex, which hold transmitters for more than 20 television stations, many radio stations and cell phone providers…

“Mandatory evacuations were in effect for neighborhoods in Glendale, Pasadena and other smoke-choked cities and towns north of Los Angeles… In La Crescenta, where the San Gabriel Mountains descend steeply to suburban neighborhoods, streets were nearly deserted Monday morning as smoke rose up some flanks of the towering peaks.”

As of Wednesday, the biggest fire near Los Angeles (“Station Fire”), which began on August 26 and was apparently “human-caused,” was only 22 percent contained. So far, the blaze has destroyed more than five dozen homes, killed two firefighters and forced thousands of people from their homes.

Is UPS Violating Employees’ Constitutional Rights?

The National Law Journal wrote on August 31:

“Late Thursday, in what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is calling a ‘major class lawsuit,’ UPS was sued in federal court in Chicago for allegedly denying sufficient medical leave to disabled employees. The Thursday suit claims UPS sets arbitrary deadlines for returning to work after medical treatment — in one case firing an employee who would have exceeded its 12-month leave policy by mere weeks — in violation of federal law.

“Just two months ago, UPS settled a religious discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC in Tennessee, in which the company was accused of requiring a 19-year driver to work past sundown on his Sabbath, which violated his beliefs as a member of the United Church of God. UPS denied that it engaged in discrimination, but agreed to pay $23,500 in damages to the employee.

“And in January, a federal jury in New Jersey ordered UPS to pay $10,000 to a man who was denied a job because his Rastafarian religious beliefs forbid him from shaving his beard.”

More U.S. Banks Fail

Bloomberg wrote on August 29:

“Regulators closed banks in California, Maryland and Minnesota yesterday, pushing U.S. bank failures to 84 this year amid continuing fallout from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was named receiver for Affinity Bank of Ventura, California, Bradford Bank of Baltimore and Mainstreet Bank of Lake Forest, Minnesota, after yesterday’s closings, the FDIC said. Assets of $1.9 billion and deposits of $1.7 billion from the three banks were turned over to new lenders at a total cost of about $446 million to the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund…

“Regulators have closed banks at the fastest pace in 17 years and more are likely… A total of 416 banks with combined assets of $299.8 billion failed the FDIC’s grading system for asset quality, liquidity and earnings in the second quarter, the most since June 1994…

“The FDIC insures deposits at 8,195 institutions with roughly $13.5 trillion in assets and reimburses customers for deposits of up to $250,000 per account when a bank fails. The surge in failures has depleted the Washington-based regulator’s deposit insurance fund, which fell to $10.4 billion at the end of June from $13 billion in the previous quarter… The total was the lowest since 1993.”

Macabre Merchandise of “Bodies of Men”

Der Spiegel wrote on August 31:

“The German company Tutogen’s business in body parts is as secretive as it is lucrative. It extracts bones from corpses in Ukraine to manufacture medical products, as part of a global market worth billions that is centered in the United States… In addition to strips of skin, tendons, bones and cartilage are removed from the bodies…

“The incident in the Ukrainian capital is part of the secretive daily routine of a little-known but highly lucrative branch of the medical industry, in which companies use corpses to make medical spare parts. In doing so, they reuse almost everything the human body has to offer: bones, cartilage, tendons, muscle fascia, skin, corneas, pericardial sacs and heart valves. In the jargon of the profession, all of this is referred to as tissue…

“According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than a million bone parts are used in transplants every year. In no other country [other than the USA] is it possible to make so much money with body parts. If a body were disassembled into its individual parts, then processed and sold, the total proceeds could amount to $250,000 (€176,000). For a single corpse! The US tissue industry generates total revenues of about $1 billion a year…

“Tutogen paid its Ukrainian partners a fixed price for each body part. In January 2002, the company paid €42.90 for a complete femur, €42.90 for a humerus and €13.30 to €16.40 for a pericardial sac, depending on its size. Graduated prices were also arranged with the Ukrainians. Take, for example, the removal of patellar tendons with bone segments, known as ‘bond-tendon-bone,’ or BTB. When coroners supplied less than 40 BTBs on-site, Tutogen paid €14.30 apiece. For larger numbers of BTBs, the price went up: to €23 apiece for 40 or more BTBs and to €26.10 for 60 or more. For a coroner, who makes about €200 ($287) a month in Ukraine, such graduated prices must have been an incentive to remove as much body material as possible…

“The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently lists 20 facilities in Ukraine that are authorized to supply body parts for the US market. But no matter which of these facilities one clicks on in the FDA database, all share the same contact information: the telephone number of Tutogen Medical GmbH in northern Bavaria.”

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Would you please explain the meaning of Colossians 2:16-17?

We have explained this passage, in detail, in our booklets, “Is That in the Bible?–Man’s Holidays or God’s Holy Days,” and “God’s Commanded Holy Days.” In these booklets, we show from Scripture that Colossians 2:16-17 does not teach–as many have erroneously concluded–that the weekly Sabbath and the seven annual Holy Days are no longer binding; in fact, correctly understood, that particular passage teaches the exact opposite.

First, we want to quote from our booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–Man’s Holidays or God’s Holy Days,” which contains a more general discussion of the passage. This will be followed by a very specific discussion of, among other concepts, the grammatical structure of the passage in the original Greek, as quoted from our booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” revealing in much detail the intended meaning of that Scripture.

To begin with, please note the following excerpts from our booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–Man’s Holidays or God’s Holy Days“:

“In the New King James Bible, Colossians 2:16–17 reads as follows: ‘So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival [margin: ‘feast day’] or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ’…

“Let’s first look at the phrase, ‘the substance is of Christ.’ The word ‘is’ is not in the Greek. It was added by the translator in an attempt to make the meaning clearer; however, this addition has, to the contrary, confused and perverted the meaning. Without the word ‘is’ in that particular phrase, it simply states, ‘…but the substance of Christ.’ What is the substance of Christ?…

“The literal meaning for the word ‘substance’ is ‘body.’ The Greek word here is ‘soma’ and is otherwise translated as ‘body’ throughout the New Testament, and especially in the letter to the Colossians… With that understanding, let us turn again to Colossians 2:16–17, where Paul says: ‘Let no one judge you… regarding a festival or Sabbaths… but the body of Christ.’ In other words, let no one, except the body of Christ—the Church—judge in those matters. The Church—the body of Christ—the preserver of the truth—CAN, and should, judge in that regard.

“The Colossians were criticized by their opponents, not by Paul, when they kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days (Note that Paul refers to ‘Sabbaths’; that is, to both the weekly and the annual Sabbath or Holy Days.) Paul is essentially saying to them: I am speaking on behalf of the Church when I tell you that you should continue keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days, as this is what the Church has judged and resolved to do, based on the Scriptures.

“Colossae was a predominately Gentile city, although some Jews undoubtedly lived there as well. The Christian converts in Colossae had begun to keep the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, and Paul essentially told them: ‘Don’t listen to your former friends and your relatives who try to convince you not to keep those “Jewish traditions”—but rather, listen to what the Church is telling you’…

“What did Paul mean when he described these things as being a shadow of things to come? The weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days have tremendous meaning for us today. They foreshadow events to occur in the future at a time when the whole world will be ruled by Christ and taught by Him to keep God’s Law—including the weekly and annual Sabbaths—as God’s people already do today.

“Rather than doing away with the keeping of the Sabbath and Holy Days, Colossians 2:16–17 teaches the exact opposite. It teaches us not to worry about people who say that we should not do so, but rather to concern ourselves with the truth of the matter, which is being taught by Christ’s Body—the Church…

“Some tried to convince the Gentile Christians in Colossae to cease from keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths. Others went to the opposite extreme—they tried to convince the Gentile Christians in Colossae that they had to fast on the weekly and annual Sabbaths.

“Since both the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days are Feast days, the Christians in Colossae kept them, of course, as FEAST days. They would eat and drink on those days (except, of course, during the ‘Fast’—on the Day of Atonement). Some, though, apparently criticized them for that, teaching that no eating and drinking should take place on any of those days.

“Colossians 2:16, correctly translated from the Greek, states: ‘Let no one judge you regarding eating and drinking.’ Paul is addressing here the ACT of eating and drinking, not the KIND of food and drink being partaken of. Some critics felt, however, that Christians should fast on those days, rather than eating or drinking anything. Notice Paul’s reference to this kind of self-imposed ascetic, or austere, religion in Colossians 2:20–23 (‘…why… do you subject yourselves to regulations—”Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?’).

“Paul told the Colossians to continue keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days in the same way as they were doing it, rather than listening to those who were trying to tell them not to do it at all, or not to keep them as feast days…”

As mentioned, our booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” discusses the passage of Colossians 2:16-17 in greater detail. For the spiritual benefit of our readers, we would like to quote from this more detailed, albeit perhaps somewhat technical discussion, to destroy any doubt as to what Colossians 2:16-17 is REALLY teaching:

“Colossians 2:16–17 reads, in the New King James Bible, as follows: ‘So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival [margin: ‘feast day’] or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ’…

“If you have a New King James Bible, you might want to check the margin. It says there that the literal meaning for the word ‘substance’ is ‘body.’ That is correct. The Greek word here is ‘soma,’ and it is otherwise translated as ‘body’ throughout the New Testament.

“Limiting this discussion just to the letter to the Colossians, the New King James Bible has translated the word ‘soma’ consistently as ‘body.’ Only here, in Colossians 2:17, it is translated as ‘substance.’ Why? Simply because the translators did not, and do not, understand the meaning of the passage.

“Notice it for yourself. Notice, too, what is being referred to when the phrase ‘body of Christ’ is used elsewhere in the following passages:

“Colossians 1:18: ‘And He is the head of the body [‘soma’ in Greek], the church.’ Christ is identified here as the Head of the body, which is the Church.

“Colossians 1:24: ‘I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body [‘soma’ in the Greek], which is the church.’ Again, we see that the body of Christ is identified here as His Church.

“Colossians 2:19: ‘… and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body [‘soma’], nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.’ Again, the reference is to the spiritual body of Christ, the Church.

“Finally, let’s notice Colossians 3:15: ‘And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body [‘soma’].’ We all belong to that one body—the Church, of which Christ is the Head.

“These Scriptures clearly show that the references in that letter to the body of Christ is to the Church of Christ. With that understanding, let us turn again to Colossians 2:16–17, where Paul says: ‘Let no one judge you… regarding a festival or Sabbaths… but the body of Christ.’ In other words, let no one, except the body of Christ—the Church—judge in those matters. The Church, the body of Christ, the preserver of the truth, can and should judge in that regard…

“It is interesting that Greek scholars recognize—in simply looking at the Greek structure of the sentence—that the first part of the statement, ‘Let no one judge you…’ requires a second statement to explain who should do the judging.

“Professor Troy Martin wrote an article entitled, ‘But Let Everyone Discern the Body of Christ (Col. 2:17),’ which was published in the Journal of Biblical Literature in the Summer of 1995. In that article, he confirms—based on the Greek structure of the sentence—that the second part of the statement in Colossians 2:16–17 explains who is doing the judging.

“He first points to a parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 10:24 that states: ‘Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well being.’ In order to understand this passage correctly, one has to repeat in the second phrase the opposite of the beginning of the first phrase. In other words, the clear and intended meaning of this passage is: ‘Let no one seek his own, but let each one seek the other’s well being.’

“This Scripture is grammatically structured in the same way as Colossians 2:16–17. Therefore, according to Professor Troy in regard to both 1 Corinthians 10:24 and Colossians 2:16–17, ‘The verb judge determines the action that is forbidden [by the first phrase = let no one judge you…] and then enjoined [or commanded, by the second phrase].’

“With this understanding, the sentence in Colossians 2:16–17 has to read this way: ‘So let no one judge you… regarding a festival or Sabbaths…, but let the body of Christ judge you.’

“Professor Troy gives a second example to prove this conclusion, namely Romans 14:13, which reads: ‘Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.’ In the Greek, the word for ‘judge’ and ‘resolve’ is exactly the same, namely ‘krino.’ This word is used in Colossians 2:16–17 and translated there as ‘judge.’

“Romans 14:13 tells us that we must not judge one another, but that we must judge how not to become a stumbling block for others. This statement in Romans 14:13 is identical in structure with the structure used in Colossians 2:16–17. No one is to judge the Colossians regarding the Sabbath and the Holy Days, except for the body of Christ, the Church. This means, then, that Colossians 2:16–17 says exactly the opposite from what critics of the Sabbath and the Holy Days want us to believe. The Colossians were not criticized for NOT keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days, but rather, they were criticized for KEEPING them.

“Comparing Romans 14:13 with Colossians 2:16–17, Dr. Troy concludes that Paul is telling the Colossians in Chapter 2 that they should not let a man judge them for keeping the Holy Days and the Sabbath, but that the Church—the Body of Christ—should judge this matter. The Colossians were criticized by their opponents, not by Paul, when they kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days. Paul is essentially saying to them: I am speaking on behalf of the Church, when I tell you that you should continue keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days, as this is what the Church has judged and resolved to do, based on the Biblical Scriptures.

“The Church [of God] has understood the correct meaning of this passage in years past. In 1976, Herbert Armstrong, late Pastor General of the Church of God, wrote a booklet entitled, ‘Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?’ On page 35 he writes: ‘So these little-understood verses ought to be translated clearly: “Let no man therefore judge you… but [rather let] the body of Christ [determine it].” Let Christ’s body judge these church matters. Greek scholars recognize that the last clause “but [rather] the body of Christ” demands that a verb be added, but have often not seen that the missing verb should be supplied from the most logical and grammatical parallel clause so as to read properly, “Let the body of Christ judge [these matters].”‘

“Unfortunately, a few years after Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986, the wording of this section in the same booklet was changed. A new and unauthorized explanation was given regarding Colossians 2:16, paving the way, of course, for subsequent drastic [erroneous] changes. The revised wording was: ‘Therefore the Christians at Colossae were not to let themselves be taken to task by heretical teachers concerning matters such as eating, drinking, holy days, new moons and Sabbaths… After all, how could such matters possibly transcend Christ? He is the body, the substance, the very center of God’s plan of salvation. All else is a mere shadow that holds no value as a replacement for him’…

“What did Paul mean when he described these things as being a shadow of things to come? Let’s review once again the insightful comments of Prof. Troy in the above-mentioned article. He states: ‘These Christian practices may comprise the shadow, and they are not presented negatively except by the opponents…The tense is present [Note carefully that the text reads, ‘these ARE,’ not ‘WERE’ ‘a shadow of things to come’], and affirms that these things are now shadows. [Some] commentators translate the past tense and conclude that these stipulations have ended now that the true substance has arrived since they were only shadows… In spite of this…, the text affirms a present… validity to the shadow.’

“The weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days have tremendous meaning for us today, foreshadowing events to occur in the future, when the whole world will be ruled by Christ and taught by Him to keep God’s Law—including the weekly and annual Sabbaths—as God’s people already do today.

“Rather than doing away with Sabbath and Holy Day keeping, Colossians 2:16–17 teaches the exact opposite. It teaches us not to worry about people who say that we should not do so [or who try to convince us of their personal ideas as to HOW and HOW NOT to keep these days], but to concern ourselves with the truth, as taught by Christ’s Body—the Church…”

In conclusion, Colossians 2:16-17 teaches without a shadow of a doubt that true Christians are obligated and commanded to continue keeping the weekly Seventh-Day Sabbath and the seven annual Holy Days.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was recorded this week, titled, “Dangerous Swine Flu Vaccinations.” The program addresses the questions whether massive swine flu vaccinations are warranted; how serious is the swine flu threat, and what do we know about the vaccines’ serious complications and side effects; why are most German doctors opposed to mass vaccinations; and whether participation in the governmental vaccination program will be strictly “voluntary”? Viewers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS); the preservative Thimerosal; and the “1976 debacle” in the U.S.A, before they get vaccinated.

Watch this now on StandingWatch or YouTube.

Norbert Link’s new German sermon from this week, titled “Die Schrecknisse der Zukunft” (“The Terrors of the Future”), has been posted on the Web.

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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