|Live Services||Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Part 5|
|Editorial||It’s Not Ideal|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Does what Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 26:24, imply that Judas was lost?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Part 5
On April 30, 2011, Norbert Link will give a report on his trip to Germany, as well as the sermon, titled, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Part 5.”
It’s Not Ideal
by Andrew Burns (Great Britain)
I would like to say that my life is ideal, but it’s not. Is that how you feel? Yet “hope springs eternal as we travel our way, in the hope that tomorrow is more blessed than today.” This “romantic ideal is not real, that we know, but it keeps us alive, so we can’t let it go.” Is that how you feel?
Central to the motivation of man is the belief that this physical life will get better. Emotively spoken by Martin Luther King were the words: “I have a dream.” They touched the nerve ends of those who had no dream, but needed one. It was the “promise” of something better.
Being able to visualize something that is not yet real is a unique gift. It is the first step to creating our dream. The great inventions that we rely on today were first visualised–at first they were only dreams. In other words, we are creative. Is that not ideal? We could answer yes! As far as it goes. It is certainly a God-like attribute! Yet, it has not led to the ideal life here on earth that man is looking for.
Chasing the ideal in our physical lives is nothing new, but is it attainable? Job wrote: “Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Nevertheless, the quest for the ideal lives on, but it seems more elusive, as one gets older.
Down through time, the troubled spirit of man has looked to many philosophies, ideas and ideologies for guidance to find a life that is ideal. So often people look forward to retirement to be free from the burdens and cares of life. Unfortunately, during their retirement they get old, and getting old is not ideal. After getting old (and sometimes before), they die, but to be sure, death is not ideal.
So what about us? Do we believe we will find the ideal in this life? Certainly, the life of a true Christian will be more abundant, with many blessings. Jesus said it would be, and so did Solomon: “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). At the same time, Solomon understood that there will be moments of dissatisfaction and disappointment, when we wish to embrace things which we have left behind or given up. But Solomon cautioned us: “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).
What this shows us is that the ideal will not be found in this physical life. It will only be achieved when we have become perfect, but that’s not yet. This brings us to cause and effect. To create the ideal life, we will need ideal people!
The wonders of man’s creative ability have led some to believe that “we don’t need God.” Not understanding his own nature nor why his spirit is troubled, man seeks solace in physical things. In other words, “let’s seek a physical solution to a spiritual problem.” If attaining the ideal for ourselves in this life is the main focus, the real goal will become more and more elusive. It will drift further and further away. Herein lies the cause of many frustrations and disappointments.
Without realising it and unintentionally, the goal of pursuing the ideal in this physical life may become a selfish ambition. People often see this life as their only hope – their only opportunity to “get their dream.” But in order to obtain our ideal, we must be seeking for God’s Will to be done in our own personal lives, to prepare us for a better life to come.
What area of service has God given us to do? Is it “only to pray”? If so, remember that some of the greatest works of God have been achieved through prayer. We are wisely admonished: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
We should take much comfort in the promise that God will provide all our needs. The condition is that we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these [physical] things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). By experience we can say that God provides a great deal more than our needs!
Jesus said: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). He is preparing for us, individually, a “place” or position of rulership. Yes – the ideal is coming! But it is coming from God, not from man and through man, and it will be GIVEN to us!
God is creating for us the IDEAL life! A very high position, with great honors, to be born into His Family as immortal Spirit beings! We will be totally thrilled and astonished when it happens. At that time, we will have been MADE perfect! Anything less would not be ideal.
We begin reporting on President Obama’s release of his long-form birth certificate in an attempt to put the issue to rest whether he is in fact a natural born US citizen—but the release comes far too late and raises more unsettling questions. While the White House is being criticized for failing to issue an Easter proclamation, the Pope made some confusing statements regarding the evolution theory and the potential of man, and Catholics go onto the offensive to suppress the release of a new movie which is perceived to be unsympathetic to their church.
We continue reporting on the inevitable downfall of the USA and Great Britain; show how natural disasters can destroy any country; and focus on Europe’s inevitable ascent to economic and military unity and power.
We are reporting on the upcoming royal wedding in Great Britain and Germany’s fascination with royalty; and conclude with the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, especially in Libya and Syria.
This Week in the News
President Obama Releases Long-Form Birth Certificate
Newsmax reported on April 27, 2011:
“After years of ignoring demands that he release his full birth certificate, and steadfast goading from Donald Trump and others, President Barack Obama has finally presented the official document, saying he has ‘better stuff to do’ than deal with the controversy…”
USA Today added on April 27:
“The signed-and-sealed Certificate of Live Birth shows he was born exactly where he had said: Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. During the 2008 campaign, he had released a copy of his Certification of Live Birth, a shorter official form with fewer details.”
However, the release of the long-form birth certificate will not silence President Obama’s critics. On April 27, USA Today reported about a poll taken before the release of the birth certificate:
“… only 38% of Americans said they thought the president was ‘definitely’ born in the United States; 18% said he ‘probably’ was. Nearly one in four, 24%, said he was probably or definitely born in another country. Nineteen percent said they didn’t know enough to say. Among Republicans, 43% said Obama was definitely or probably born abroad — more than the 35% who said he was definitely or probably born in the USA.”
Fox News wrote on April 27:
“Trump… took credit Wednesday for the president’s decision to release the document. He said his team would have to examine the birth certificate and questioned why the White House took so long…”
Newsmax wrote on April 27:
“The critics… still note a pattern of secrecy surrounding much of Obama’s life before he entered politics. They note that Obama has never unveiled many key documents that presidential candidates release to the press and public… Ironically, during his campaign for president, Obama promised he would make his White House ‘the most open and transparent administration in history.’
The Smokinggun.com listed the following questions on April 27, which will most likely be raised by those who doubt the authenticity of the certificate:
“If the original document was in a bound volume (as reflected by the curvature of the left hand side of the certificate), how can the green patterned background of the document’s safety paper be so seamless? Why, if Obama was born on August 4, 1961, was the ‘Date Accepted by Local Reg.’ four days later on August 8, 1961?… David A. Sinclair, the M.D. who purportedly signed the document, died nearly eight years ago at age 81. So he is conveniently unavailable to answer questions about Obama’s reported birth… Finally, the ‘Signature of Local Registrar’ in box 21 may be a desperate attempt at establishing the document’s Hawaiian authenticity.”
According to the Drudge Report, others have speculated whether different layers were used for the document.
The issue is not going away, and may very well become a determining factor for the outcome of the next presidential election.
No Easter Proclamation
Newsmax reported on April 26:
“The media and the blogosphere are abuzz with dumbfounded reactions to the White House’s snub of Christians during the weekend. No presidential proclamation celebrating Christianity’s highest holy day of Easter was issued…
“Barack Obama made no bones about admitting in his 2006 memoir, ‘The Audacity of Hope,’ the secularism of his mother, father, and stepfather led him during his younger days to be far from a devoted Christian when it came to Easter. ‘On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites,’ Obama remembered… Obama noted his mother’s now well-known skepticism and hostility toward religion… ‘In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology’…
“Obama added that ‘although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition, like the mumbo-jumbo of witch doctors that he had witnessed in the Kenyan villages of his youth.’ Obama’s Indonesian stepfather was, similarly, ‘a man who saw religion as not particularly useful’ in life.”
While the Bible rejects Easter celebration as pagan inventions, President Obama’s upbringing is still interesting to consider. It would be tremendous, if an American President would return to and embrace true biblical teachings. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—Man’s Holidays and God’s Holy Days.”
Pope vs. Evolution… Sort of…
The Associated Press reported on April 23:
“Pope Benedict XVI marked the holiest night of the year for Christians by stressing that humanity isn’t a random product of evolution. Benedict emphasized the Biblical account of creation in his Easter Vigil homily Saturday, saying it was wrong to think at some point ‘in some tiny corner of the cosmos there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it.’
“If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,’ he said. ‘But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.’
“Church teaching holds that Roman Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not necessarily at odds: A Christian can, for example, accept the theory of evolution to help explain developments, but is taught to believe that God, not random chance, is the origin of the world. The Vatican, however, warns against creationism, or the overly literal interpretation of the Biblical account of creation.”
However, such viewpoints contradict the Bible. Please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution—a Fairy Tale for Adults?”
To Be Like God
Reuters reported on April 17:
“Pope Benedict led Roman Catholics into Holy Week celebrations, telling a Palm Sunday crowd that man will pay the price for his pride if he believes technology can give him the powers of God… ‘From the beginning men and women have been filled — and this is as true today as ever — with a desire to “be like God”, to attain the heights of God by their own powers,’ he said… ‘Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful,’ he said.
“While the great advances of technology have improved life for man, the pope said, they have also increased possibilities for evil, and recent natural disasters were a reminder, if any were needed, that mankind is not all-powerful. If man wanted a relationship with God he had to first ‘abandon the pride of wanting to become God,’ said the pope, celebrating his sixth Easter season as the leader of the world’s some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.”
Even though it is most certainly correct that man must not attempt to become like God by his own means and endeavors, it is also true that it IS man’s potential to become God. For more information, please read our free booklet, “God Is a Family.”
Catholic Church Goes on the Offensive
The Telegraph wrote on April 19:
“A film about a panic-prone Pope who has unwittingly been thrust into the papacy and has to hire a psychiatric assistant to help him has sparked controversy in the Roman Catholic Church… Traditionalists say that the film, by the acclaimed Italian director Nanni Moretti, is ‘an instrument of Satan’… Bruno Volpe, the Catholic lawyer, has launched suit for defamation against Moretti and the producers under the terms of the Lateran Pact, which extends the same protections to the prestige of the pope as to the Italian president. Mr Volpe said Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), never mentioned the current Pope by name but it was nevertheless clear that it was a parody of Pope Benedict XVI and dishonoured the figure of the Pontiff in general…
“Gerardo Pierro, archbishop of Salerno, said the launch of a similar film in an Islamic country would have led to the burning of cinemas and attempts to kill the director for blasphemy. ‘I think many people take advantage of the traditional meekness of Catholics, which is often confused with foolishness or resignation,’ Archbishop Pierro said… The Pope is played by Michel Piccoli, an 85-year-old French actor, and many Catholics have acknowledged Moretti’s sympathetic depiction of the film’s ecclesiastical characters, though the Vatican has not reacted officially.”
History does not confirm any “traditional meekness” of the Catholic Church. For proof, read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.” It is also interesting to note that the institution of the Pope enjoys the same legal protection as the Italian president. Truly, the religious power has become an image of the political power, as the Bible prophesied in Revelation 13.
The Downfall of America
WorldNetDaily wrote on April 24:
“… has it become twilight in America? That’s the question Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert is asking, noting that Business Insider has listed 25 signs of economic decline in the United States:
“1) Standard & Poor’s altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’;
“2) China has announced it is going to be reducing its holdings of U.S. dollars;
“3) Hedge-fund manager Dennis Gartman says that ‘panic dollar selling is setting in’ and that the U.S. dollar could be in for a huge decline;
“4) The biggest bond fund in the world, PIMCO, is now shorting U.S. government bonds;
“5) The economy is causing ‘ghost towns’ to appear across the United States, with many counties across the nation that now have home vacancy rates of more than 50 percent;
“6) There are now about 7.25 million fewer jobs in America than when the recession began back in 2007;
“7) Only 45.4 percent of Americans had a job during 2010, the lowest percentage since 1983;
“8) Only 66.8 percent of American men had a job last year, the lowest level ever in the United States;
“9) The average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year;
“10) Gas prices reached $5 per gallon at a gas station in Washington, D.C., on April 19, 2011;
“11) Over the past 12 months, the average price of gasoline in the United States has gone up about 30 percent;
“12) Due to rising fuel prices, American Airlines lost $436 million during the first quarter of 2011;
“13) U.S. households are now receiving more income from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes;
“14) Approximately $1 out of every $4 that the U.S. government borrows goes to pay the interest on the national debt;
“15) Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about five times larger than it was just 20 years ago;
“16) Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than eight times larger than it was just 30 years ago;
“17) Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136 percent of average household income, while in China it’s only 17 percent;
“18) The average American now spends 23 percent of their income on food and gas;
“19) Seventy-eight percent of Americans said they plan to slow their spending in coming months due to rising prices;
“20) Fifty-nine percent of Americans receive money from the federal government;
“21) The average length of unemployment in the United States is now a record 39 weeks;
“22) As the economy continues to collapse, frustration among young people will continue to grow and we will see more seemingly ‘random acts of violence’;
“23) Some Americans have become so desperate for cash that they are literally popping their gold teeth and selling them to pawn shops;
“24) As the economy has declined, the American people have been gobbling up larger and larger amounts of antidepressants and other prescription drugs;
“25) Even the latest market rally could be ending.”
The Crime of Adultery
The Associated Press reported on April 26:
“The crime of adultery appears headed toward repeal in Colorado, where lawmakers from both parties call the crime an outdated 19th-century holdover junking up the books. Adultery carries no criminal penalty, though it remains illegal. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-1 Tuesday to repeal the old crime, as well as a law against ‘promoting sexual immorality.’ Colorado is one of a handful of states where adultery laws are still on the books… [The] provision [against promoting sexual immorality] outlaws providing a place for out-of-wedlock sex, a law probably aimed at frontier flophouses… Adultery remains a crime in U.S. military law, and adultery laws aren’t unusual in other countries.”
Deadly Tornados Devastate South of USA
The Associated Press reported on April 28:
“Dozens of tornadoes ripped through the South, flattening homes and businesses and killing at least 215 people in six states in the deadliest outbreak in nearly 40 years… Alabama’s state emergency management agency said it had confirmed 131 deaths, while there were 32 in Mississippi, 30 in Tennessee, 13 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and one in Kentucky… The storm system spread destruction from Texas to New York, where dozens of roads were flooded or washed out. The governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia issued emergency declarations for parts of their states…
“In Alabama, where as many as a million people were without power, Gov. Robert Bentley said 2,000 national guard troops had been activated and were helping to search devastated areas for people still missing… The storms came on the heels of another system that killed 10 people in Arkansas and one in Mississippi earlier this week. Less than two weeks earlier, a smaller batch of twisters raced through Alabama, touching off warning sirens, damaging businesses and downing power lines in Tuscaloosa, but there were no deaths there then.”
Dollar Drops Further
Bloomberg reported on April 28:
“U.S. stock-index futures fell and the Dollar Index dropped to a three-year low as reports showed the economy slowed more than forecast and jobless claims unexpectedly rose… The dollar weakened as much as 0.6 percent against the euro, falling for the eighth day and breaching $1.48 for the first time since December 2009. It dropped 0.5 percent versus the yen. The decline in U.S. futures indicated the S&P 500 may fall from the highest level since June 2008. Jobless claims increased by 25,000 to 429,000 in the week ended April 23, the most since late January, according to Labor Department figures.”
As we observe the social and economic downfall of the USA, so we can also recognize the downfall of GB—as the next article shows.
The Downfall of Great Britain… Broken-Up Family Life
The Daily Mail wrote on April 18:
“Shocking figures reveal that births outside marriage are at their highest level in two centuries and nearly half of children can expect their parents to separate by the time they turn 16. Nine out of ten couples now live together before – or instead of – tying the knot. Before the Second World War, it was fewer than one in 30. From a situation 30 years ago where it was often considered shameful to have a child outside of wedlock, it has now become the norm. Some 46 per cent of children are born to unmarried mothers, according to research by the Centre for Social Justice.
“The think-tank said a child growing up in a one-parent family is 75 per cent more likely to fail at school, 70 per cent more likely to become a drug addict, 50 per cent more likely to have an alcohol problem and 35 per cent more likely to be unemployed as an adult. Some 48 per cent of children are likely to see their family break up before they are 16. Ten years ago, it was 40 per cent.
“Gavin Poole, executive director of the CSJ, which was set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said: ‘Current high levels of cohabitation are a key factor in the rise in family breakdown in our country and this paper shows that we have not been here before… Marriage and commitment tend to stabilise and strengthen families and cannot be ignored. The peculiarly high levels of family breakdown found in Britain are at the heart of the social breakdown which is devastating our most deprived communities…’
“The report says the decline in the traditional family is a crucial factor in the social decay that is blighting Britain… Family breakdown, the experts claim, is being fuelled by the growth in the less stable relationship of cohabitation. ‘A child growing up in a fractured, chaotic or fatherless family is far less likely to develop the pro-social skills essential for success later in life,’ Mr Poole said.”
Toyota Cuts Production Due to Earthquake
BBC News reported on April 20:
“Toyota said it will cut production at its North American plants by 70% from 26 April to 3 June. Car manufacturers have been facing a shortage of parts due to the damage caused to Japanese component makers by the earthquake and tsunami. Toyota said it may also lower its US sales target for 2011… Toyota Motors also announced that it is curbing production at its factories in China.”
Natural disasters can and do have devastating effects for any country; and no country—regardless of how powerful it might be–is exempt from such catastrophes and their consequences.
EU: “Discuss Policies in Dark Secrecy”
The EUObserver reported on April 21:
“Eurozone economic policies should only be conducted in ‘dark secret rooms’, to prevent dangerous movements in financial markets, the Eurogroup chief [Jean-Claude Juncker] said… As exists in the case of monetary policy, all economic decisions should now be discussed behind closed doors, he said. ‘I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious,’ he said.
“Having served as finance minister and then premier of Luxembourg for the past 22 years, Juncker pointed out that over the course of his career, despite his Catholic upbringing, he often ‘had to lie’ in order not to feed rumours.”
Centralized EU Decision-Making
The EUObserver wrote on April 20:
“MEPs have toughened up the provisions in a package of six laws that centralise economic decision-making in the EU, delivering more powers for oversight of national fiscal policies to the European Commission… Cheering the move, Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said: ‘The European Commission shall be entitled to intervene with all necessary means if the stability of the euro is at stake, to preserve our European project.’”
The Schengen Agreement in Jeopardy?
Der Spiegel wrote on April 27:
“French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have put aside their differences to call on the European Union to reform the Schengen zone of border-free travel… Berlusconi and Sarkozy signed a joint letter to the EU to demand that the Schengen agreement be amended to take into consideration ‘exceptional’ situations such as the current massive influx of immigrants from North Africa…
“Many observers see the French and Italian leaders as striking a populist stance in response to pressure from far-right parties in their countries. Sarkozy, who is running for re-election in 2012, is under threat from Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front, which strongly opposes immigration, while Berlusconi is under pressure from the xenophobic Northern League, the country’s third strongest party which is part of Berlusconi’s coalition government.
“The Schengen agreement was originally signed in 1985 in the Luxembourg town of that name and went into effect in 1995. A total of 22 EU members are currently part of the system, as are Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. Britain and Ireland are not, however, members. Along with the euro common currency, the Schengen zone is seen as one of the European Union’s main achievements…”
The above-quoted articles on Europe show the gradual and steady development of a centralized power bloc, and the time is passed when Europe could disintegrate again in national entities which would be fighting themselves. The Bible prophesies that Europe will become the most powerful economic and military unity in the world—which leads us to conclude that neither the euro nor the Schengen agreement could fail (even though some “adjustments” might be made, as the next article speculates).
The EUObserver wrote on April 28, 2011:
“Several member states have indicated they are prepared to back attempts by France and Italy to make it easier for countries to re-instate border controls, following an influx of migrants from north Africa. Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Malta have all given their blessing to Paris and Rome’s call for adjustments to be made to the Schengen Agreement on passport-free travel within most of the EU, while underlining the importance of an ‘open Europe’.
“‘If you can improve the Schengen system then that is good and you should,’ German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday, reports AFP. ‘But travel freedom in Europe is such an important achievement that it should not be up for renegotiation.’”
Deutsche Welle added on April 28:
“German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned on Wednesday against taking away the luxury of visa-free travel enjoyed by millions of Europeans by reforming the Schengen Agreement. A German government spokesman said the treaty was sacrosanct.”
A Critical Look at the New British Wedding
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 27:
“The wedding of William and Kate on Friday… feels like an aberration of history… The Guardian newspaper wants to abolish the monarchy, as does the Independent and the Economist magazine. Many professors, film directors, writers, actors and politicians would like Britain to become a republic — but they remain in the minority which for years has been constant at around 18 percent of the population…
“Great Britain… has no written constitution but a rigid class system. The lawyers wear wigs in court and there are no citizens, just subjects… British soldiers are fighting for democracy in Afghanistan and Libya, and they fought for it in Iraq. But at home, they defend the absurdly undemocratic idea that nobody but a Windsor can be head of state. As soon as Elizabeth, 85 [dies], her son Charles, 62, already worn down by his long wait for the accession, will take the throne, even though opinion polls show the majority of Britons don’t want the brooding, esoteric prince to become king…
“More than 10,000 journalists are descending on London. The German networks… will hardly be broadcasting anything else on Friday. Everyone is pretending that this spectacle is the most important and beautiful event on earth — but it is not. Oddly, the British public isn’t as interested in the wedding as one might think. Most Britons say they don’t really care about the event. Only about a third of them plan to watch the show on TV…
“Britain is still mired in its worst economic crisis since World War II. Everyone should be rolling up their sleeves to haul the nation out of the doldrums. But the government declared the wedding day a public holiday, and schools, banks, offices and factories will be closed — just because the heir to the heir to the throne is getting married. The extra holiday… will end up costing the economy billions…
“In truth, the marriage of William and Kate is a sad spectacle. Two young people aren’t getting wed in the way they would like but how the palace, protocol and [grandmother] demand it. William, 28, is accustomed to that because he was born into it. But for Kate, 29, Friday will mark the end of her freedom…
“Some friends and relatives will be present in Westminster Abbey, but most of the guests will be strangers, and some of them will be repulsive ones at that. King Mswati, the despot of the impoverished African nation of Swaziland who has 13 wives, will be flying in with his entourage of 50 people. Arab potentates have also been invited, some of whom are currently having pro-democracy demonstrators shot at in their streets…”
Germany’s Fascination with Royalty
The Local wrote on April 26:
“A supposedly proud proletarian city like Berlin throws itself at the feet of just about anyone with an exotic title…. I can’t think of any other community outside the Netherlands that is so fascinated by [Queen] Beatrix and her strange taste in hats…
“Now we are bracing for… Britain’s royal wedding this Friday. This is the moment when Germans get to compare all the terrible royal families of the world… The thuggish King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa – unless he has to stay at home and order the shooting of demonstrators demanding democracy. And Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf should be able to make the nuptials; his sex parties were always on a Monday, or after his hunting trips, so his Fridays are free… [ and] Prince Laurent of Belgium who famously had his dead dog put in a freezer. And… Prince Henrik, husband of the Danish queen, who has been telling everyone how much he likes to eat dogs… All these people will be welcoming or pretending to welcome Kate Middleton into the extended family, and she may be wondering whether it was worth the price.
“Perhaps that is the appeal of royalty to the Germans: they can envy the wealth on display but criticise the dress sense and the twisted mentality of inbred monarchs. Almost everyone has a black sheep in the family but royal clans have whole flocks of them… All I can say to Germans is enjoy the show. The House of Windsor is, after all, just the renamed House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. So perhaps Germany can rightfully claim them as its own royal family.”
The thought of a revival of a functioning monarchy in certain European countries—including Germany—should not be rejected or dismissed too lightly.
UK Royals Snub EU Chiefs, but Rome Does Not
The EUObserver wrote on April 28, 2011:
“All three EU presidents and the bloc’s foreign policy chief – one of the most senior UK dignitaries – have been snubbed by the British royal family. While the great and the good from around the world have been invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday, not a single European Union representative has been sent a gold-embossed wedding request to attend the occasion… On Saturday, it emerged that Queen Elizabeth may believe the EU is too large…
“If Great Britain’s monarchy is wary of the Union, the Holy See is more than pleased to recognise the importance of European leaders, who are set to attend the beatification of the late pope, John Paul II, in the Vatican this coming weekend. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek are all heading to Rome to witness the final step before the Polish ex-pope is transmogrified into a saint.”
NATO’s Bad Options in Libya
Deutsche Welle wrote on April 21:
“NATO’s mission in Libya has now lasted four weeks, and there are no signs of an ending yet… But what is the aim of this mission? Will the protection of civilians only end when Gadhafi has fallen?… A quick military success is certainly not in sight… NATO has relatively few ways out of Libya, especially because France, Britain and the US have ruled out direct negotiations with the Libyan regime… For NATO, that means more airstrikes, even if weeks and months go by. The idea is to destroy Gadhafi’s heavy weapons, his ammunitions stores and his communications structure, but that’s extremely difficult… staying for the long haul entails its own risks…
“The Security Council’s Libya resolution expressly confines itself to protecting the civilian population. This new moral principle, which emerged following the genocide in Rwanda and the Balkans, dictates that the international community is responsible for civilians if the state fails to keep them safe… It’s exactly that – a long-term military operation – that NATO is now committed to in Libya. Whether the members want it or not, NATO is a combatant there, not an arbiter.”
Syria In Turmoil
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 26:
“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sent in tanks to crush the pro-democracy protests, in a sign that he has abandoned all pretense at reforming his regime, German media commentators say. Even though the pillars of his administration remain intact, his days could well be numbered…
“Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘…Syria’s officers may be loyal to the Assad regime and may keep firing on the opposition for the time being. But in the end, every army consists of citizens with families. If the killing goes on, officers and ordinary troops may start to ask themselves for whom they are shooting at their compatriots. That could end in the army becoming divided or launching a coup. The latter has a precedent in Syria: it’s how Assad’s father came to power.’…
“Conservative Die Welt writes: ‘…The Sunni majority is demanding a political say. The Syrian president is to blame for having failed to recognize this and to respond in time. His people didn’t want to topple him, they just wanted more freedom. But Assad missed his chance to grant it. His speech to the pseudo-parliament was amateurish, silly and foolish. It’s only now that the Syrians want to get rid of him and his nepotistic power apparatus, and he’s no longer in control of events.’
“Left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau writes: ‘The world is appalled at how a further Arab regime is resorting to gunfire to crush a revolution by people yearning for freedom. The confrontation is escalating… The chance for political compromises that could calm the enraged citizens has been missed. More than 120 deaths from bullets fired by the government killers — no wonder the people don’t trust Assad or his supposed readiness to reform. They will go for broke now because they know such a system of power cannot be reformed.’”
What’s Behind the Palestinian Unity Deal?
The Local wrote on April 28:
“Germany has joined Israel and the United States in expressing deep scepticism about the reconciliation between former rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, declaring the latter too radical and violent for a peace agreement. ‘Hamas is not a dialogue partner for us because we don’t work with organizations that fight with violence against Israel’s right to exist,’ Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Thursday… Germany’s position would not change as long as Hamas maintained its radical stance against the Jewish state, he said…
“Israel quickly condemned the deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Fatah could not hope to forge a peace deal with Israel if it pursued a reconciliation accord with Hamas. ‘The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both,’ he said in a televised statement.
“The United States is now reconsidering financial aid to the Palestinians, according to The New York Times. ‘As we have said before, the United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace,’ Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said. ‘Hamas, however, is a terrorist organization which targets civilians.’”
Does what Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 26:24, imply that Judas was lost?
The answer is, “No.” In our Q&A published in the Update of April 22, 2011, the question of whether or not Judas committed the “unpardonable sin” is addressed. It was pointed out, among other things, that Judas had never received the Holy Spirit prior to his death. We will now address the specific question that arises from Matthew 26:24, which reads:
“‘The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’” Compare Mark 14:21 and Luke 22:22.
Considering how Judas ended his own life by committing suicide (compare Matthew 27:1-10; Acts 1:18-19), what Jesus said addresses the utter waste and grief brought about by Judas’s betrayal. Jesus does not in this verse address the future judgment that Judas will face in the resurrection.
In Job, chapter 3, Job wishes that he had never been born because of the terrible suffering he was experiencing. Throughout the story of Job, we see that Job agonizes in his suffering, but in the end Job came to a true knowledge of God, deeply repented and was then blessed abundantly by God. Likewise, Jeremiah anguishes over his own birth, because of his trials in serving God, saying: “Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, That my days should be consumed with shame?” (Jeremiah 20:18).
Judas was not called to salvation and eternal life to be inherited in the first resurrection; rather, he was chosen because he–being carnal and subject to Satan’s control–would willingly do what he did. However, Judas was not the only one who simply went along for a while with the popularity of Jesus, and as it suited them–not unlike people of our time might do regarding a political personality.
Jesus Himself stated: “But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (John 6:64).
In fact, we are all responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. Note what Peter told the people who heard him preach:
“So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses’” (Acts 3:12-15).
Consider, as well, that Peter did deny Christ on three occasions, and that part of the story is recorded quite specifically! Peter repented (compare Matthew 26:69-75), and Peter–like the rest of us are to do–lived out his life, growing “…in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Looking more closely at the actions of Judas, we see that his character was evident even before his final betrayal of Jesus:
“Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:4-6).
Let’s also carefully note that Judas was possessed by Satan (John 13:2, 27) during the Passover evening when he betrayed Jesus, but this wasn’t the first time! In Luke 22:3, Satan entered Judas and Judas then went to the chief priests and captains to betray Jesus for the “reward” of money.
Judas was not the only one who had such influence from Satan. Jesus also indicted the Jews who believed Him, without obeying Him (compare John 8:31):
“‘You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it’” (John 8:44).
Additionally, as mentioned above, “Jesus knew from the beginning” that Judas would betray Him (compare John 6:64, 71; 12:4; 13:11).
Indeed, what Jesus said of Judas stands–that it would have been better had he not been born to this ignominious fate. Remember, he committed suicide and died with the guilt of his actions overwhelming him. Jesus addressed this immediate fate of Judas, while praying to the Father:
“‘While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled’” (John 17:12).
In answering what the meaning of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 26:24 might ultimately imply for Judas, we need to also consider what is stated by God about His creation of mankind when they rebelled against Him:
“And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them’” (Genesis 6:6-7).
Yet, we know that God’s plan of salvation will allow even the people of this pre-Flood world to come to repentance!
The rest of the story has to do with exactly when is the day of salvation; who is being called to be in the first resurrection; and what is the fate of the incorrigibly wicked–those who will not repent of their sins! Judas died in a state of hopeless remorse, but all that we understand about the plan of salvation indicates that he will come back to life in the second resurrection (Revelation 20:5, 11-12) to confront his carnal actions and receive his first opportunity for salvation.
One more thing, even the ones who crucified Christ and the one who stabbed Him with a spear, causing His immediate death, will have to give account for themselves in the second resurrection–they are specifically mentioned (not unlike Judas) for their actions:
“And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced’” (John 19:37). Also: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
Truly, God the Father, who gave His Son for us, “…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Thus, it is God who will ultimately judge—both Judas and all men:
“For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14: 9-12).
Lead Writer: Dave Harris
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A member letter for April is being completed and will be sent out shortly.
Several German video sermons, which were recorded in Germany, are being posted on the Web, including messages on living worthily, the time of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, our Christian duty to observe God’s annual Holy Days, and the need to pray to God for protection from evil.
by Gilbert Devaux
As I grow older, I find myself drawing closer to God. Sadly, this was not the case during my younger years. I stumbled and fell many times, and God allowed this, as He wanted me to get to know Him and to learn that I should trust in Him and to be reliant on Him.
As a young child, I did believe in God and I prayed to Him, as best as I could and understood, but somewhere and somehow, I turned from God and followed my own way. It was not a good way. It was a hard way of life that so many chose to take. Finally, God showed me His way of life, which is a much easier way.
I still run into problems now, but I know that I can turn to the true God in prayer, and He will show me a way out of my troubles. My body is failing because of age and of what I put it through. I am not acting as fast as I once did. I am weaker in mind and body, and each day, I call on God for help. I just have to do this.
When I go to the store, I ask for His protection for me and for those around me. I ask for help to find a parking place. This may seem to be a small thing; however, when one is handicapped and reaches my age, it is very important. At one time, I took many things for granted, but now I am unable to do them alone, and I need God’s help for the smallest of challenges.
Each day I thank Him for my calling, and each day I know He will be there to help, and I pray that I will be with Him forever.
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
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