The Truth We Know
by Dave Harris
Those in this age who wield power in government, business, religion and virtually every walk of life are not governed—first and foremost—by truth!
What the actual state of a matter is; what can stand the test of verification; what the real facts are—all that denotes and defines truth is simply not held in godly esteem by society!
We live in a time in which deception supersedes truth, and it does so because Satan, who is the father of lies (John 8:44), powerfully influences mankind. However, there are some who don’t believe the innumerable falsehoods permeating our world—they are the ones who are governed by truth:
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:19-20; compare, also, John 14:6).
Jesus said, “‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:32).
That freedom comes because we have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in us and opening our understanding to His Word, and His is the Spirit of truth (compare John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; and 1 John 4:6). Jesus asked that His followers be set apart by God’s truth, and He further stated: “‘…Your word is truth’” (John 17:17).
Jesus also had to contend with the Adversary, and Satan’s method for tempting Christ was to lie—he misquoted Scripture, trying to give a deceptive application, but that did not work and this is what Jesus gave in answer:
“‘…It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”’” (Matthew 4:4).
As we see, Satan sought to destroy Jesus Christ—just as he now particularly seeks to destroy the people of God (compare 1 Peter 5:8-9). Attacks against the Church of God by Satan have continued, and we have been warned of this (compare Matthew 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-3).
Withstanding deception is no inconsequential matter!
Our battle can only be won when we stand up for and stand in the truth of God—the truth we know!
We begin with a critical commentary on the recent Tea Party debate of Republican Presidential candidates; reflect on the tenth anniversary of terrorist attacks on September 11; show the continued decline and isolation of the world’s only current superpower; focus on the isolation of the state of Israel and Turkey’s rise to influence in the Arab world; and conclude with describing the increasing difficulties between European Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries, and the uncertain future of Greece.
This Week in the News
What Does the Future Hold for the USA?
We know that the USA is in deep trouble, and some hope that a change in leadership would turn everything around. Judging by the increasingly hot exchange and performances of the leading Republican Presidential candidates during the Tea Party debate on September 12, which was hosted by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, there is, sadly, not much evidence for such hope. We are highlighting some of the divisive positions embraced by the leading candidates:
USA Today reported on September 12:
“At a raucous, Tea Party-fueled debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry proved his freshly minted front-runner status: Mitt Romney blasted him on Social Security, Rick Santorum on immigration and Michele Bachmann on a controversial executive order he signed as governor.
“Perry… dodged a question, pressed by Romney, of whether he believes the retirement program should be returned to the states, as he suggested in a book he wrote last year. Perry said it was time for ‘thoughtful conversations with Americans, rather than trying to scare seniors, as you’re doing.’ ‘The term “Ponzi scheme” is what scared seniors,’ said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. That was a reference to a phrase Perry used at his national debut at a California debate last week.
“After two debates in six days, Social Security is the fundamental issue dividing the pair of contenders at the top of national polls: Perry, who calls for a sweeping overhaul, though he hasn’t provided details about what he would do. And the more cautious Romney, who embraces the program as crucial though he says changes are needed to ensure its long-term stability.
“Perry also stuck to his guns on immigration, the issue on which he is most at odds with his conservative base. Under fire by Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, Perry defended allowing illegal immigrants in Texas to pay in-state tuition…
“And he had a sharp exchange with Bachmann… The Minnesota congresswoman blistered Perry for signing an executive order that required girls in Texas to receive inoculations for human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, and suggested it was linked to campaign contributions he had received from a drug manufacturer.”
There was also some debate about America’s future military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, and both Romney and Perry stated that America must soon withdraw. Obamacare was raised, and Bachmann, a lawyer, pointed out that Perrycare and Romneycare don’t differ much from Obamacare, and that all three approaches must be rejected. The concept of a presidential executive order was discussed, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul was cheered when he opposed both Romney and Perry, stating that an executive order must never be used to legislate an issue. However, he was booed when he suggested that the attack on September 11 was, in part, caused by American politics.
The remaining candidates seemed to play a more marginal role. Even though businessman Herman Cain and former House speaker Newt Gingrich drew some supporting laughs and applause, it is not expected that either one will win the Republican nomination. Rather, the increasingly hot battle between Perry and Romney (and perhaps Bachmann) will continue, which only shows once more the divisions which are plaguing this country.
Under “normal” circumstances, it would not be expected that President Obama will be re-elected. As Newsmax reported on September 12:
“Democrats worry that Obama, 50, is politically vulnerable in next year’s election with the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent last month and approval ratings near lows of his presidency. Since World War II, no U.S. president has won re-election with a jobless rate above 6 percent, with the exception of Reagan, who faced 7.2 percent unemployment on Election Day in 1984 after the rate had dropped more than three percentage points during the previous two years he was in office. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicts a rate at 8.6 percent in the third quarter of next year, just prior to the election.”
However, these are not “normal” times, and when Republican candidates continue to devour each other, this won’t help them. Some feel that there is now a need for a third party. But this won’t help the situation either. The ONLY real solution for America’s ongoing troubles is the RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST to make an end with man’s futile political attempts, and to establish the GOVERNMENT OF GOD here on earth. Thank God that this will happen soon. Please note also the following articles.
Perry’s Biggest Problem
The Washington Post wrote on September 14:
“[Governor Perry’s] biggest problem… is his executive order requiring preteen girls in Texas to be immunized against a disease that causes cervical cancer, a decision that the religious right didn’t like and that Perry now says was a mistake. The dangerous charge here is influence-peddling. He issued the order after he was lobbied by his former chief of staff, who went to work for Merck, the drug company that makes the vaccine. It turns out Perry has received almost $30,000 in contributions from Merck over the years (not just the $5,000 he mentioned in the debate), and his ties to Merck have been documented to run deeper than that.
“Perry’s response to the pay-for-play intimation from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was one of the worst of its sort ever offered by a politician. ‘The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them,’ Perry declared. ‘I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.’ The question this raised in a listener’s mind was: So how much can you be bought for? That question will linger…
“Moderate politicians have been drummed out of the party or silenced as its leaders have played ball with the extremists throughout Obama’s term… Rick Perry — if he doesn’t self-destruct — will be able to tell [conservatives] he is the guy who can destroy the Great Society, the New Deal and the Progressive Era with one decisive blow. And no establishment will be there to stop him.”
In this context, please read the article about Rick Perry in our Current Events Section in Update #497, titled, “Bilderberg Holds True Power in America?” Also pay close attention to the next article.
Rick Perry “Destined” to Become US President?
The Washington Post wrote on September 14:
“Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a man of faith… he demonstrated Wednesday that he would not shy away from cloaking his candidacy in his Christianity, delivering an address here at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University that presented his life in deeply spiritual terms and cast his political aspirations as destiny… the evangelical Christian governor spoke the language of the movement with ease… knowing that God’s answers would be revealed to him in due time… Before he launched his campaign in August, Perry drew 30,000 people to a revival prayer session at a Houston stadium…
“Recent past presidents spoke comfortably about their faith, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Bush shared a powerful narrative of his religious conversion — that he went on a walk with Billy Graham, joined a Bible study group in Midland, Tex., and overcame his alcoholism… A lifelong Methodist, Perry regularly attends Lake Hills Church… He usually prays before meals and, as governor, has spoken at prayer services and has issued executive orders to pray for rain…”
Violence Fought with Violence…
Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 11:
“Ten years have passed since Sept. 11, 2001, and today only losers remain. Islam has been taken hostage by blinded ideologues. The West has betrayed its values in its struggle against terror, and we are now burdened with Islamophobes… What remains etched in our minds, 10 years after the fact? Two images tell the entire story. One is of the burning Twin Towers and the other of a prisoner being tortured in Abu Ghraib. This is the iconography of human insanity: the horrific crime in New York and the horrific crime of the war against terror. Violence was fought with violence, only to generate even more violence.
“Anyone who believed that people had learned something from the wars of the 20th century was promptly disabused of that notion at the beginning of the new millennium. In fact, we have learned nothing. We are still all too willing to exterminate each other, even with our bare hands. And we always have good reasons to do so. We are always in the right…
“The roughly 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11 were followed by more than 6,000 dead American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, countless civilian victims, 5 million refugees and costs currently estimated at more than $3 trillion (€2.13 trillion)…
“It is correct that not even the great flood managed to wash away all evil from the earth. In the end, God said…, as it is written in the First Book of Moses: ‘I will henceforth curse the ground no more for man’s cause, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil, even from his youth.’ But what Franz Kafka describes in ‘The Trial’ as the most horrible thing of all, namely that ‘the lie has become the order of the world,’ will not prevail in the long run…”
And that is true. Today, lie is the order of the world, because this world is ruled by Satan the devil, the father of lies (see the Editorial in this week’s Update). But Christ will replace Satan, when He returns to this earth to establish the Kingdom and Government of God; all lies will be replaced by truth; and man’s evil heart of stone will be changed to a heart of flesh.
America’s Gradual Decline
Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 11:
“America remains for me an unbelievably beautiful country where the smartest people that one can find on God’s earth live and teach. And it still holds true that this superpower saved Europe from self-destruction during the two world wars. But what became of it after 1945? After 1945, America has in truth only served to fight the wrong wars in the wrong places and for the wrong reasons.
“There were the two McCarthy-era wars in Korea and Vietnam. In Korea, the absolute rulers in the north and the south wanted to go to war with each other at any cost… In the end, the cost in blood to the Americans was horribly high… Vietnam was merely an escalation of the Korean War… Afterwards, America became a demoralized country, driven crazy by a world that had stripped it of its hegemonic role…
“Afghanistan also falls into this category of the wrong wars in the wrong places at the wrong time. It is a country that can be conquered but cannot be ruled. That’s why the conquerors always withdraw eventually. When America fell into the trap, it joined a long list of countries that had made the same mistake.
“Naturally the Iraq war made me take a different look at the earlier wars… First Iraq would become a democracy, then Syria, and so on. They wanted to change the world and actively impose their ideology on others. It was probably the last time that America would try to fulfil its historical mission of shaping the world according to its own vision of what it should be.
“Today we know that it was the global power’s last gasp… Barack Obama… is left with administering the country’s gradual decline. He will go down in history as the president who ended two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. And probably also as the president who failed to lead his country out of recession…”
These statements are quite interesting in light of the Church of God’s long-held and unwavering pronouncements for over sixty years that with World War II, the USA has won its last war. The reason is that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had blessed this country due to unconditional promises which He had given to Abraham because of his obedience, began to withdraw His blessings, due to our sins and rebellion against Him. Please note the next article, which also describes America’s lost wars and the growing isolation of the USA.
America’s Growing Isolation
Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 11:
“It is the history of the decline of the USA as a superpower. Immediately before the attacks, this country was in full bloom — like Rome at its peak… Then came the planes, piloted by the followers of Osama bin Laden — and for a brief moment, the superpower seemed even more powerful than ever… America was trapped in Iraq for years, where a victory was a long time coming and was never a real one. It is currently trapped in Afghanistan, where victory no longer even seems possible…
“Today… the US is a deeply divided country… The country is at war with itself. It has a Congress where there is perpetual conflict between the right and the left — and where they don’t even want to talk to each other when the threat of a national bankruptcy looms…
“The US has become estranged from the rest of the world. It is partly its own fault, but the rest of the world also shares some of the blame — because many only see America as a perpetrator, and no longer regard it as a victim…”
The Bible tells us that ultimately, the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (modern descendants of the ancient house of Israel) as well as the Jewish people (the descendants of the house of Judah), will be hated by all nations. We are presenting articles throughout this Current Events section, showing how these prophecies are beginning to come to pass.
Turk-Israeli Relationship at an All-Time Low
The Sydney Morning Herald wrote on September 11:
“Turkey has raised the prospect of a naval confrontation with Israel by announcing it will deploy warships to protect humanitarian convoys attempting to breach the maritime blockade of Gaza. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the move as a necessary response after Israel refused to apologise for the deaths of nine Turks killed during an operation to intercept a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year. The threat is the most dangerous escalation yet in a rapidly deteriorating diplomatic row between the former allies that has already seen Turkey expel Israel’s ambassador and suspend all military ties… Israel described the latest development as ‘grave and serious’.
“Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman is [reportedly] considering meeting and possibly even financing Turkey’s Kurdish rebel movement, a move that would incense Mr Erdogan’s government. Mr Erdogan, meanwhile, is to visit Cairo… amid concern in Israel that he may seek an alliance with the aim of increasing the Jewish state’s isolation. The visit will be the first by a Turkish leader to Egypt for 15 years.”
The Bible prophesies a terrible violent confrontation between Turkey and Israel. Note the next article as well.
Turkey Pushes Palestinian Statehood
BBC wrote on September 13:
“Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that recognition of a Palestinian state is an obligation not an option. He told the Arab League that before the year’s end ‘we will see Palestine in a very different situation’. Mr Erdogan made a new attack on Israel, saying its government’s mentality was a barrier to peace in the Middle East. The Palestinians are currently preparing a bid for United Nations membership despite Israeli and US opposition.
“Mr Erdogan is in Egypt as part of a tour of three Arab states that recently ousted their leaders, in an attempt to improve Turkey’s standing in the region… The Turkish leader, who has won popularity among Arabs for his denunciations of Israel, was earlier met by an enthusiastic crowd in Cairo. Mr Erdogan called for support for the Palestinians’ attempt to achieve recognition at the UN… That Mr Erdogan bashed Israel again surprised no-one. It is the key to Mr Erdogan’s extraordinary popularity in the Arab world… But he went much further, presenting himself as a champion of change everywhere in the region.”
Israel in Isolation
Haaretz wrote on September 10:
“The political crisis has become a reality well before the Palestinians declare their independent state, writes Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn, leaving Israel isolated in facing Iran, Turkey and Egypt.
“The anxiety caused by the Arab Spring among the Israeli public became a reality this weekend, when protesters broke into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, and expelled the Israeli diplomats from their country… The historians who will write about the collapse of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty will start their stories during the twilight years of the Mubarak regime, when the government gradually lost control over the Sinai Peninsula, turning the desert into an abandoned frontier of weapons smuggling, human trafficking, and African refugees.
“… a week after the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ankara… the Israeli ambassador was expelled from Cairo… Netanyahu now hopes that Israel might be able to get close with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, who also seek to block the possibility of an Arab Spring in the region. In the West, Netanyahu is hoping to circumvent Turkey by strengthening ties with Greece, Bulgaria and Romania…
“The political tsunami that Ehud Barak foresaw has come true prior to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the UN. Israel is left isolated facing Iran, Turkey and Egypt, which in the past were considered close allies… Israel cannot prevent the rise of Erdogan or the fall of Mubarak, the same way that it cannot halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The fall of the American superpower is not Netanyahu’s fault…”
Israel Surrounded as Arab Spring Turns Darker
Bloomberg reported on September 13:
“The Middle East is plunging toward crisis… Not long ago, Turkey and Israel were strategic partners. Now, relations between those two key U.S. allies are in ruins…
“Why, after decades of quiet, has the Egypt-Israel border become so tumultuous? Two reasons: The interim Egyptian government has lost control over the Sinai since the revolution, and Gaza, which borders the Sinai, has been transformed by Hamas into a weapons-importing and terror-exporting mini-state…”
When reading all of this, one is reminded of Zechariah 12:3, which says: “…all nations of the earth are gathered against [Jerusalem].” And the development, as described in the next article, won’t help, either.
Cheney: Israel will Attack Iran…
Newsmax reported on September 11:
“Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if necessary to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon, former Vice President Dick Cheney tells Newsmax… ‘I think they would,’ Cheney said when asked about the possibility. ‘I think Iran represents an existential threat, and they’ll do whatever they have to do to guarantee their survival and their security… I’ve had a number of conversations with a lot of Israeli officials, and I think they correctly perceive Iran as a basic threat…’”
The Bible indicates that the state of Israel or Judah will receive “a wound” (Hosea 5:13), or suffer military defeat. Will this occur in a coming war with Iran?
Britain’s Inconsistent Position
Mail On Line wrote on September 12:
“[Chancellor] George Osborne admitted last night that a new EU treaty is ‘on the cards’ within two years… His comments… appear to be at odds with Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent assertion that the current crisis in the eurozone was not likely to trigger a fresh EU treaty… Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith yesterday backed the idea of demanding a new right for British MPs to block big European appointments.
“The Chancellor, speaking on the fringes of the G7 summit… in Marseilles, poured fuel on the flames by indicating that talks are under way to draw up a fresh deal for the EU… ‘This would be for the eurozone. This would be to further integrate the eurozone, to further strengthen fiscal integration now… It’s in Britain’s interest that the eurozone is stable and one of the routes to making it more stable is to have more fiscal integration’… Sources close to Mr Osborne insisted that ministers would ‘protect and promote’ British interests and there would be no further transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels.”
Britain wants to have new rights to block big European appointments, while advocating the strengthening of the Eurozone countries, of which Britain does not want to become a member. In the view of Eurozone members, a more inconsistent position could hardly be imagined. However, Britain is not alone with its position. Note the next article.
How to React to a Eurozone Economic Government?
The EUObserver wrote on September 12:
“A group of non-euro member states led by Poland is fighting a rearguard action not to be left out in the cold as single currency member states consider going ahead with a eurozone economic government. Europe ministers from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania met in Brussels on Monday (12 September) morning to discuss how best to influence the debate on the future of the 17-nation euro area.
“All seven states are obliged under the terms of their accession treaties to join the single currency but they have little means of making their views heard, being excluded from the increasingly frequent meetings on euro governance… The spectre of a two-speed Europe, with a core of more closely integrated eurozone states started to take shape in August when France and Germany proposed regular meetings of eurozone leaders and a separate euro president, likely to be Van Rompuy.”
What does this all mean? Please read the next article.
Will Greece Leave the Eurozone?
The Telegraph wrote on September 11:
“Philipp Roesler, Germany’s economy minister [and vice chancellor]… said: ‘To stabilise the euro, we must not take anything off the table in the short run. That includes as a worst-case scenario an orderly default for Greece if the necessary instruments for it are available.’ He said such a default would mean ‘re-establishing the affected state’s ability to function, perhaps with a temporary restriction of its sovereign rights’.
“Mr Roesler’s comments come as Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had ordered preparations be made for a Greek bankruptcy. The report claimed the German government is preparing for two eventualities under that scenario – Greece staying in the euro or the country exiting and reintroducing the drachma…”
The German magazine Focus reported on September 9 that Bavaria’s CSU also advocated the exclusion of Greece and other “unstable” Eurozone members from the Eurozone, but that Angela Merkel is pleading for patience. The New York Times wrote on September 12 that the world needs now Angela Merkel’s strong and decisive leadership.
The Local wrote on September 12:
“German officials rushed on Monday to calm highly stressed markets, insisting Greece should stay in the eurozone, amid rising alarm that Germany is losing patience with being the bailout paymaster… a spokesman for Germany’s Economy Minister Philip Rösler… sought to allay these fears, saying: ‘Our common goal is the stability of the euro and we want Greece to stay in the euro’…
“After a meeting between Merkel and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the two leaders issued a statement saying they were ‘agreed on the overwhelming importance of the euro for Europe and Germany.’…”
On September 13, Der Spiegel Online added:
“Against the background of increased pressure from the United States for a more resolute approach to the euro debt crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday moved to crush speculation within her government about a possible Greek default… Her comments were viewed as an indirect jab at Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Philipp Rösler… [Merkel’s] comments also appeared to be aimed at Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer, who is the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party to the chancellor’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Seehofer has raised the possibility of a Greek exit from the euro zone in recent days…
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“‘Is it possible to think about a European currency union without Greece?… The heads of the government coalition party groups in parliament have unanimously pointed out that it is not legally possible to exclude Greece. This is true in the sense that there are no provisions in the Maastricht Treaty for a country to leave the euro or to get kicked out — it neither permits nor excludes it. But as one knows after one and a half years of euro bailouts, politicians themselves have not adhered to the (Maastricht) Treaty even on points where it is crystal clear … With EU treaties, one proceeds as they see fit. Incidentally, the Lisbon Treaty even envisions the possibility of a withdrawal from the EU’…
“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:
“‘… the FDP and the CSU… create the impression… that Germany would somehow save money if the Greeks were left to go bust. But that is pure nonsense: A Greek bankruptcy would cost Germany billions. Because both directly and indirectly, Germany is one of Greece’s biggest creditors…’
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“‘Throwing Greece out would be a disaster not only for Greece, but also for Germany and the rest of Europe… no one should forget that the euro zone has not gifted Greece with hundreds of billions of euros, but provided the country with credit instead. The money will come back with interest if the financial restructuring is successful in the country. The euro-zone governments should have made it clear to the markets that they planned to keep Greece solvent until it becomes credit-worthy again. But such a position can only be credible if politicians — those in Germany above all — preserve calm and reason.’”
The Associated Press reported on September 14: “Greece is an ‘integral’ part of the eurozone, the leaders of Greece, France and Germany said in an emergency teleconference Wednesday night that aimed to calm markets and temper talk of an imminent default by Greece.”
Bild Online announced on September 14: “Greece Will Stay in the Eurozone.”
The tabloid continued: “Merkel and Sarkozy made clear: The future of Greece is inside the Eurozone.”
Der Stern added on September 14:
“During their 20-minute phone conversation, Merkel and Sarkozy rejected a discussion about Greece leaving the Eurozone. ‘The Chancellor and the President are convinced that the future of Greece is within the Eurozone,’ [German] government speaker Steffen Seibert declared.”
It is obvious that Angela Merkel, CDU, spoke strongly with her Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor, Philip Rösler, of the increasingly unpopular and inconsequential FDP, regarding his ill-conceived comments, prompting his spokesperson to backpedal. The euro-skeptical media, especially in Great Britain, is painting once again a doomsday scenario of Greece leaving the Eurozone and of the end of the EU and the project of a united Europe.
Whatever the future of Greece may hold, we know from the Holy Scriptures that Greece’s relationship with the other countries in continental Europe will remain friendly. We also know that ultimately, ten Eurozone nations or groups of nations will arise in Europe, who will in turn and apparently at the same time give their power and authority to a charismatic political leader. The present Eurozone members might still undergo some changes before the final ten will have emerged. We also know that the final Eurozone members will become hostile towards Great Britain.
You recently wrote in one of your Q&As that Arabs were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost in 31 AD, when the Holy Spirit was given. This seems to be incorrect as Gentiles were only admitted much later to the Church of God, beginning with the Roman centurion Cornelius.
You seem to be referring to our Q&A on Saudi Arabia, where we wrote the following:
“Turning to the New Testament, we find that Arabs were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when God poured out His Holy Spirit on the New Testament Church (Acts 2:11), and that Paul, after his conversion, went to Arabia (Galatians 1:17) and stayed there for a while, perhaps, as Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible suggests, to associate with those Arabs who had been converted on the Day of Pentecost.”
It is true that some commentaries seem to suggest that the “Arabs,” who were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost in 31 AD, were Jews who were living at the time in Arabia and who had come to worship in Jerusalem. However, even though people of Jewish descent were included, they were not the only ones mentioned in Acts 2. Note carefully the inspired record in Acts 2:5-11:
“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans [i.e., the apostles]? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Phartians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them [the apostles] speaking in our own tongue the wonderful works of God.’”
Notice carefully that several categories of people are listed here—Jews dwelling in Jerusalem—and Jews and proselytes who were dwelling in other parts of the world, and who had come to Jerusalem to worship God on the Day of Pentecost.
Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible explains:
“Devout men, out of every nation – Either by these we are simply to understand Jews who were born in different countries, and had now come up to Jerusalem to be present at the passover, and for purposes of traffic, or proselytes to Judaism, who had come up for the same purpose…”
Gentiles who had been converted to Judaism were called “proselytes”—and we read that they, too, were present when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains that the term “Jews” refers to “native-born Jews, or descendants of Jewish families,” while the term “Proselytes” speaks of “those who had been converted to the Jewish religion from among the Gentiles. The great zeal of the Jews to make proselytes is mentioned by our Saviour as one of the special characteristics of the Pharisees, Matthew 23:15.”
Barnes explains how a Gentile could become a “proselyte” or a “convert”:
“Among the Jews there were two kinds of proselytes:
“1. ‘Proselytes of righteousness,’ or those who wholly and fully embraced the Jewish religion, who were baptized, who were circumcised, and who conformed to all the rites of the Mosaic institutions.
“2. ‘Proselytes of the gate,’ or those who approved of the Jewish religion, renounced the pagan superstitions, and conformed to some of the rites of the Jews, but were not circumcised or baptized.”
However, as the People’s New Testament explains, “To make one proselyte [means:] Induce Gentiles to become circumcised and to keep the Jewish religion. This is the sense in which proselyte was then always used.”
Christ was not too impressed with the Pharisees’ efforts to proselytize someone, as they introduced those converts to and compelled them to abide by the traditions of Judaism, which were in many aspects contrary to the commands of God, as revealed in the Old and New Testament. Still, we note that Jews and proselytes were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and we also note that later, one of the seven original deacons in the Church of God was Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch (Acts 6:5).
The People’s New Testament states that Nicolas was a “Gentile (Greek) of the great city of Antioch, who had been converted to Judaism and been circumcised. This is the meaning of proselyte in the New Testament.” Barnes’ Notes on the Bible adds, “The word does not mean here that he was a convert to ‘Christianity’ – which was true – but that he had been converted at Antioch from paganism to the Jewish religion. As this is the only proselyte mentioned among the seven deacons, it is evident that the others were native-born Jews, though a part of them might have been born out of Palestine, and have been of the denomination of ‘Grecians,’ or ‘Hellenists.’”
Still later, “Jews and devout proselytes” followed Paul and Barnabas in the city of Antioch and were encouraged and persuaded to CONTINUE in the grace of God (Acts 13:42-43).
The concept of Gentiles becoming proselytes was already taught in Old Testament times. We read in Exodus 12:43-49 that a stranger—a Gentile—dwelling in the nation of Israel, could partake of the Passover, but only after he had been circumcised.
We also note that some time before the Roman centurion Cornelius was baptized by Peter (compare Acts 10), an Ethiopian eunuch was already baptized by Philip (Acts 8:26-40). The eunuch was obviously a proselyte who had embraced the Jewish religion; he had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning to Ethiopia (verses 27-28).
The controversy which led to the first Council of the New Testament Church in Jerusalem, as described in Acts 15, evolved around the fact that Peter had baptized a Roman centurion who had NOT first become a proselyte by turning to Judaism; that is, he had not been circumcised and baptized to become a proselyte, according to the rites of the Pharisees, and he had not embraced all of the injunctions listed in the entire law of Moses—including temporary and by then superseded rituals—as well as man-made traditions and customs of the elders, which were not included in the Law of God (compare Acts 15:1, 5; see also Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Galatians 1:14).
The apostles concluded, based on the godly vision of Peter and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that “Gentiles who are turning to God” could become members of the Church of God without having first to become proselytes by being circumcised (verse 19), embracing Judaism, committing to keeping the rituals and sacrifices which Christ had abolished with His death, and by embracing man-made traditions. They made clear, however, that God’s law had to be kept, including certain permanent injunctions which were found in Old Testament passages that ALSO described temporary ritual requirements (compare verse 20, 29). The apostles emphasized, for instance, that Gentiles who were turning to God were still required to keep the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath (verse 21)—a requirement which is still binding for Christians today.
It is therefore NOT correct to conclude that only native Jews were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D, when the New Testament Church of God began. There were also Proselytes in attendance, including Arabs. Our statement, as quoted at the beginning of this Q&A, has therefore merit; namely, that “Paul, after his conversion, went to Arabia (Galatians 1:17) and stayed there for a while, perhaps, as Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible suggests, to associate with those Arabs who had been converted on the Day of Pentecost.”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The finalized new booklet, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians,” was sent to our printer in the USA.
A new StandingWatch program was posted on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org) and on YouTube, titled, “The Frightening Future of Europe.” Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder advocates a United States of Europe and claims that Britain causes the biggest problems. Angela Merkel speaks now of a Europe of two speeds. She wants to give the European Council President even more power. This program shows what it all means.
Activities at the Feast of Tabernacles 2011 in the USA
This year’s theme for the Dinner Dance on Sunday, October 16, will be “Broadway.” If you have suggestions and music and/or would like to help with decorations, please contact Michael Link at email@example.com .
The Talent/Fun Show on Monday, October 17, will be hosted once again by Kalon Mitchell and John Amorelli. Anyone who is interested in performing can contact Kalon at firstname.lastname@example.org or John at email@example.com or Michael Link.
As in previous years, Phyllis Bourque will be responsible for organizing special music. Please contact her as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are still interested in participating.
Also, if you have not already done so, you still have opportunity to proceed with making reservations for the Feast of Tabernacles 2011 with the Hilton Garden Inn at 601 James Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. When you call under 1-805-773-6020, please make sure that you mention that you are attending the Feast convention of the Church of the Eternal God. Further information is available on our Web site (www.eternalgod.org), under “Feasts.”
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