Update 606


That We May Be One

On September 14, 2013–the Day of Atonement–Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “That We May Be One.”

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.

The Update will not be published for the next two weeks while we observe the Feast of Tabernacles. We will resume publication for the week ending October 4, 2013.

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A Smile Costs Nothing

by Robb Harris

As we head out from our homes to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, we have been given a promise to ensure our peace of mind. God said, “For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the Lord” (Exodus 34:19 NAS).

We travel in a world whose inhabitants are increasingly more distrustful of each other. Relying on God’s Promise requires an ample amount of faith. That kind of faith requires us to be practicing a way of life—practicing Christianity. If we are expecting God to take care of our possessions, are we likewise fulfilling God’s expectations of us?

We are lights to this world! If we aren’t illuminating all of the dark shadowy places we encounter, then who will? We must always have a Godly attitude—sometimes manifested as a smile to a stranger.

In 1 Samuel 2:1 we read of this attitude. “And Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.'” Continuing in verse 3, “’Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.’” 

God is judging us by weighing the actions of our daily lives. During the next few weeks we have the opportunity to practice this wonderful way of life, especially to those who are blind and living in darkness. If in fact, it is imperative that we do so, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what so you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?” (Matthew 5:46-47). 

We will leave lasting impressions to people we come in contact with during this festival season. Let’s be especially diligent that those impressions point people towards God’s way of life!

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We begin with the astounding up and down events regarding Syria–first, with powerful intervention by the Vatican as world leaders sit on their hands; with a completely unexpected “solution” by Vladimir Putin;and then with reports about President Obama’s attempt to save face and perhaps even his presidency. We continue with reports of the growing strength and leadership of the EU; report on NSA spying along with the continuing quest for a Temple in Jerusalem and new reports that the ice cap is growing.

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Pope Francis Takes a Stand

swampland.time.com wrote on September 5, 2013:

“Pope Francis has written a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the G-20 summit that President Obama is attending, urging world leaders to oppose a military intervention in Syria.

“’To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution,” the Pope urged. ‘Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community.’

“The move is the latest in a series of efforts by the Holy See to prevent military action in the already civil-war torn region. On Sunday, the Pope declared in his Angelus teaching that Saturday Sept. 7 would be an day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. The prayer rally will take place in St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. to midnight, on the vigil of the birth of Mary, the Queen of Peace. ‘Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love,’ the Pope asked people around the world. ‘She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children!’

“Next Pope Francis took his views on Syria to Twitter. On Monday he tweeted, ‘War never again! Never again war!’ and ‘How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake.’ On Tuesday, he tweeted ‘We want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out!’ and ‘With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons.’ Today his social media message was, ‘With all my strength, I ask each party in the conflict not to close themselves in solely on their own interests. #prayforpeace.’

“Cardinal Dolan and leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops followed the Pope’s lead and wrote to every member of Congress today urging them to vote against military intervention in Syria. Yesterday the USCCB also wrote to President Obama, reminding him that the Pope and Middle Eastern Bishops ‘have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences.’ Dolan also asked Catholics to urge their representatives in Washington to vote against a military strike.

“The Vatican, which almost always stops short of taking sides in international issues, historically holds to just war theory, which requires a military defense meet a set of strict qualifications, including that ‘the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain,’ ‘all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective,’ and ‘the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.’

“Pope Francis’ response to Syria is in line with how his predecessors handled international conflicts. Pope Benedict XVI expressed concerns over the military intervention in Libya. Pope John Paul II continually and strongly spoke out against the US-led war in Iraq. The US and the Vatican squared off during the 1989 Panama invasion when dictator Manuel Noriega took refuge in the Vatican embassy.”

The Telegraph also reported on the Pope’s intervention in the debate on the Syrian conflict on September 5, 2013:

“Foreign ambassadors were summoned to a briefing by Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s foreign secretary, on Thursday, on the Pope’s appeals to halt hostilities in Syria.

“The Pope’s push for a peaceful solution in Syria includes a four-hour vigil to be held in St Peter’s Square on Saturday evening. The Vatican will station 50 confessors around the square. Bishops’ conferences around the world have announced local vigils.

“An official at the Vatican’s justice and peace office warned earlier this week that military action in Syria could spark a world war. In a tweet this week, the Pope wrote: ‘War never again! Never again war!’

“The Pope, who is a Jesuit, has been backed in his criticism of a military strike on Syria by the head of the Jesuits, Father Adolfo Nicolas.

“In an interview with the Independent Catholic News, posted on September 4, Father Nicolas said a strike would be ‘an abuse of power’.

“‘I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure,’ he said.

“In a stinging attack on the White House, he said: ‘The US has to stop acting and reacting like the big boy of the neighbourhood of the world. This leads inevitably to abuse, harassment and bullying of the weaker members of the community.

“‘We, Jesuits, support 100 per cent the Holy Father and wish with all our hearts that the threatened attack on Syria does not take place.'”

As Pope Francis begins to assert himself in world affairs, it will be interesting to note the support of the powerful Jesuits and the unifying influence this is already having on the Catholic Church. On the other hand, we might expect another power struggle to occur between the Pope and forces within the Vatican.

G-20 Leaders in Disarray

SPIEGEL ONLINE reported on September 6, 2013, on the recent summit:

“The G-20 summit ended worse than expected on Friday — with acrimony, division and name-calling over Syria. The conference, which was originally conceived as an economic forum, also failed to deliver results on global recovery.

“In the end, even a meeting between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin failed to deliver results. Participants at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg couldn’t manage to find a common position on Syria. The American president demanded that punitive action be taken against Syria, but his Russian counterpart stood between Obama and his allies. Now any decision on a possible military strike against Damascus will be up to the US Congress…

“One can certainly debate whether it makes sense to conduct a military strike. Critics correctly note that a limited bombing attack would do little change the situation in Syria. Besides, the European Union hasn’t even been able to agree to a common position. Countries like France and Britain support military efforts, even if the British will not be participating themselves now that the House of Commons rejected a direct role in Syria. And other European countries oppose any attempt by the United States to go it alone. A third group, which includes Germany, doesn’t want to commit…

“Though bringing Syrians to the table will be difficult, bridging the gap between Russia and the US will be equally complicated. Diplomatic relations between the two nations have hit rock bottom at this week’s G-20 summit. Not only did Putin openly call Secretary of State John Kerry a liar, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said that Russia had contributed nothing to a solution in Syria. Verbal disarmament is unlikely — the discussion will only become more heated.”

With the foregoing articles in mind, what has since transpired regarding Syria is simply mind-boggling–as more recent news will show.

Putin to the Rescue!

The New York Times reported on September 9, 2013:

“President Obama woke up Monday facing a Congressional defeat that many in both parties believed could hobble his presidency. And by the end of the day, he found himself in the odd position of relying on his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, of all people, to bail him out.

“The surprise Russian proposal to defuse the American confrontation with Syria made a tenuous situation even more volatile for a president struggling to convince a deeply skeptical public of the need for the United States to respond militarily in yet another Middle Eastern country, this time in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons. It could make the situation even more precarious. Or it could give Mr. Obama an escape from a predicament partly of his own making.

“In effect, Mr. Obama is now caught between trying to work out a deal with Mr. Putin, with whom he has been feuding lately, or trying to win over Republicans in the House who have made it their mission to block his agenda. Even if he does not trust Mr. Putin, Mr. Obama will have to decide whether to treat the Russian proposal seriously or assume it is merely a means of obstructing an American military strike…

“The twists and turns in the Syria debate have whipsawed the nation’s capital and by some accounts imperiled Mr. Obama’s presidency. Democrats are mystified and in some cases livid with Mr. Obama for asking Congress to decide the matter instead of simply ordering one or two days of strikes and getting it over with.”

President Obama’s Classic Dilemma

DW wrote on September 10, 2013:

“US President Barack Obama’s zigzag course on Syria has not only strengthened his adversaries and weakened his supporters. He has failed at his most important task as president, writes DW’s Michael Knigge.

“Decisions on war and peace, over life and death, are a major part of the job description for the office of US president. President Obama made a point of pointing that out during his first term in office: ‘When a problem has a clear solution, it does not land on my desk. The only things I decide are the difficult things,’ he once said in an interview.

“However, as far as the crisis in Syria is concerned, Obama has not done that. It took months of violence before the president finally took a stand and demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down. Military intervention and arming the opposition were excluded. The consequences: none…

“To be sure: there are cogent reasons for and against a military strike, but there is no silver bullet. The risks outweigh the possible benefits in both alternatives. It is a classic dilemma.

“But that is exactly why US presidents are elected – for just these kinds of situations, where there are only bad options.

“And when someone goes about saying he is the man for the tough decisions, as Obama did, then one expects he will live up to this standard in a time of crisis.

“Obama has not done so.

“Since the start of the Syrian crisis two and a half years ago, Obama has waited and waffled and played for time. He has not been a leader; he has not acted, but only reacted, after pressure from his own Cabinet, the opposition, the British parliament and events in Syria. A real Syria strategy is not even remotely visible.”

A Hard Sell for Mr. Obama

CNN wrote on September 11, 2013:

“President Barack Obama tried Tuesday to sell a military intervention he never wanted to an American public that opposes it, telling the nation that he needed authorization to attack Syria as leverage in a newly emerged diplomatic opening from Russia.

“Calling the United States ‘the anchor of global security,’ Obama offered moral, political and strategic arguments for being ready to launch limited military strikes while trying to negotiate a diplomatic solution to what he called Syria’s violation of a global ban on chemical weapons.

“‘Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used,’ Obama said in making the case that the United States must act when dictators such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ‘brazenly’ violate international treaties intended to protect humanity.”

At this point the second-guessing of the US President is rampant, but one inescapable fact does stand out–the United States is coming away from this misadventure with an eroded world position. The pride of our power is being broken!

Europe–the Global Player

EUObserver reported on September 4, 2013:

“Everything considered, Europe is still the most important global player in the Middle East.

“The US has armed forces and capacities. Russia and China have overt and covert interests, but Europe is the real player.

“Despite the criticism and the slowness, awkwardness and contradictory interests of its member states, it is still the only player truly changing and affecting the Middle East.

“No wonder then that most of the region’s peace initiatives have been linked to Europe, from Rhodes in 1949, via Madrid, to Oslo and the Geneva accord in 2003.

“The US is needed to close the deal, but without Europe nothing can be started. That is why, while all shallow glances are directed at US secretary of state John Kerry, well-informed observers instead look to Europe.”

The author of this article “was the speaker of the Knesset from 1999 to 2003 and is a former chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organisation.”

EU Military Integration Coming!

EUObserver reported on September 4, 2013:

“Europe should create a civilian and military crisis operations HQ under EU command, according to a report by centre-right MEPs.

“The proposal, contained in a policy paper published on Tuesday (3 September), by deputies from the European People’s Party, the largest group in the assembly, said EU ‘heads of state and government have to start building stand-by forces under Union command.’

“It called for EU leaders to commit themselves to defining the union’s security interests, prioritising its strategic objectives and linking these with operational deployments.

“They said this should include a definition of European defence interests and its geographical priority zones.”

This new military combine will arise much more swiftly than even its planners now conceive–especially, in light of the fading role of America!

NSA Spying–No Privacy!

News Republic posted on September 8, 2013:

“Just when it seemed the biggest NSA-related revelations were over, a new report says the U.S. intelligence agency has had direct access to private smartphone data for years.

“Germany’s Spiegel Online claims it has seen documents that detail the NSA’s ability to tap into leading smartphone platforms, including Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and BlackBerry. In fact, based on the documents referenced, the agency has even set up separate teams dedicated to working on each operating system.”

The growing sense that the US is operating outside of its own laws–without our normal “checks and balances”–is proving to be a profound shock to Americans and to the rest of the world.

The Goal–A Third Temple in Jerusalem

JTA wrote on August 27, 2013:

“No praying. No kneeling. No bowing. No prostrating. No dancing. No singing. No ripping clothes.

“These are the rules that Jews must abide by when visiting the Temple Mount, the site where the First and Second Holy Temples once stood, located above and behind the Western Wall in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Although the area is under Israeli sovereignty, the mount — known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif — is controlled by the Islamic Wakf, a joint Palestinian-Jordanian religious body. As the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, whose golden dome overlooks the city, the Temple Mount attracts daily crowds of Muslim worshipers.

“Under Wakf regulations, Jews may only access the mount for 4 1/2 hours per day and are forbidden from praying there…

“Ahead of Tisha b’Av, the fast day next week that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the institute released a video showing Jewish children donning tool belts and leading their fathers out of synagogue to begin construction of the Holy Temple.

“’Our goal is to fulfill the commandment of “They shall make a Temple for me and I will dwell among them,” ‘ Richman says, quoting Exodus. ‘”The basis of a Torah life is action.”’

“Following the Second Temple’s destruction in 70 C.E., most rabbis adopted the position that Jewish law prohibits reconstructing the Holy Temple prior to the age of messianic redemption, or that the law is too ambiguous and that the messiah must come first”…

“The institute isn’t shy about advocating what many see as a radical goal: replacing the mosque at the Dome of the Rock with a new Jewish Holy Temple. A painting in the institute’s exhibition depicts this scenario, with the city’s light rail line taking residents to the Temple Mount. The Temple Institute is dedicated to laying the groundwork for this vision.

“The organization has formulated a program for where the temple will stand and what its vessels will look like, aided by 20 men who study Temple law full-time. The products of this research — 40 ritual objects — are on display in Plexiglas cases at the institute’s headquarters in the Old City.

“Silver trumpets to be blown by priests and a wooden lyre are perched next to two deep pans with long handles — one for collecting blood from small sacrificial offerings and another for large sacrifices like the Passover lamb.

“In another room, mannequins with beards wear the respective vestments for deputy priests and the high priest. The high priest’s outfit, with azure weaves, gold thread and a breastplate with 12 precious stones, took 11 years of research and $150,000 to complete. Next to it stands a massive 12-spigot sink with electric faucets — technology that Richman says will be permitted in the Third Temple.

“The institute’s crowning achievement — the Temple’s golden, 200-pound, seven-branch menorah — stands outside in a case overlooking the Western Wall. Unlike art or history museums, the institute’s goal is to remove the objects from their cases and bring them to the mount for use as soon as possible.

“Many Israelis view the goal as a danger to the status quo that has kept this site holy to Muslims and Jews from turning into a tinderbox.”

As improbable as this “goal” might seem in present circumstances, the Bible strongly indicates that the Jews will somehow be able to build a “third Temple”–including on the location where previous Temples have stood!

Arctic Ice cap Has Grown

MailOnline reported on September 7, 2013:

“A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent.

“The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

“Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores.

“The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year. More than 20 yachts that had planned to sail it have been left ice-bound and a cruise ship attempting the route was forced to turn back.

“Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.”

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Is our salvation assured, or is it a big question mark in God’s eyes? Did He only give us a small measure of His Holy Spirit which may just barely enable us to overcome and inherit salvation?

Perhaps surprisingly to some of our readers, the answer to all of these questions is, “No.” Let us understand.

We read in Titus 3:4-6: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared… according to His grace He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit [which] He poured out on us ABUNDANTLY through Jesus Christ our Savior…”

We read in 1 Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His ABUNDANT mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

We read in 2 Peter 1:10-11: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will NEVER stumble, for so an entrance will be supplied to you ABUNDANTLY into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

We read in Ephesians 3:20: “Now to Him who is able to do EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

At the same time, we read 1 Peter 4:17-18: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God, and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is SCARCELY saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’”

How do we harmonize these and other passages, which may at first glance indicate a contradiction?

In our Q&A on John 3:34, we pointed out that this “pivotal Scripture does indeed reveal that God gives His Holy Spirit by measure” to those who are being called in this day and age (with the only exception of Jesus Christ who had been given the full measure of the Holy Spirit.)
We continued: “We read in 1 John 4:13 that God has given us ‘OF’ His Spirit… He did not give us His Spirit without measure… When a man or a woman is ordained to the office of deacon or deaconess, they receive an extra portion of the Holy Spirit to accomplish their responsibilities… When God’s ministers are raised in rank through an ordination and the laying on of hands, they will at that time obtain still more of God’s Holy Spirit to enable them to fulfill their added responsibilities, including spiritual discernment to make right decisions (compare Matthew 16:19; 18:18)…”

But this does not mean that God does not grant abundantly the necessary and needed measure of the Holy Spirit to EVERY converted Christian. The opposite is true. That is why we read in Titus 3:6 that God gave ABUNDANTLY of His Spirit to each and every one of us. Paul says in Ephesians 5:18 to every Christian, to “…be filled with the Spirit.” But he also warned: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

We stated in our Q&A (referred to above):

“Christians who have God’s Holy Spirit may not always draw the same measure of God’s power in their lives. Rather, it is our challenge to submit to God’s guidance so that we can ‘be filled with’ and ‘stir up’ the gift of God. We are to live and walk according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4; Galatians 5:16), and set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). God gives us of His Spirit so that we can overcome our human nature, society and Satan the devil. We are to grow in God’s knowledge, which only His Spirit can give us. But when we are not diligent in obeying God, He will not bestow us with more of His Holy Spirit. In fact, when we continuously refuse to obey Him, He may take His Spirit away from us.”

In our Q&A on qualification for the Kingdom of God, we explained that we were predestined before we were born to be called in this day and age. But we also showed that this does not make our salvation “a fait accompli.”

We stated in that Q&A:

“Paul tells us in Colossians 1:12 that ‘the Father… has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.’ The Authorized Version states that He has ‘made us meet,’ which actually means, that He has made us ‘fit’ or ‘sufficient’ or ‘able’ or ‘worthy.’ Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 that God made him and others ‘sufficient as ministers of the new covenant.’…

“All of this does not mean, however, that we cannot lose out. The Bible contains many warnings against taking our calling lightly. It is our responsibility to accept God’s gifts and use them. For instance, we are being admonished that we are to hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, and that we are to seek it as a first priority (Matthew 5:6; 6:33). And so, even though the Father has qualified us to inherit salvation, we must continue in that process of qualification. We must make sure that we DON’T DISQUALIFY ourselves…

“God has qualified us to inherit the promises, but we must continue in that qualification process to ensure that we don’t become disqualified and that we don’t judge ourselves unworthy of everlasting life (Acts 13:46).”

We also stated the following in our free booklet, “Are You Predestined to Be Saved?” :

“We also read in 2 Peter 1:2-11 that God’s divine power has given us ALL THINGS pertaining to eternal life. If we do our part, we will never stumble. God will provide us ABUNDANTLY an entrance into His kingdom. As long as we are determined to make our calling and election sure, we WILL win!… In 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5, we read that the ‘Lord WILL establish you and guard you from the evil one,’ and that Paul and his coworkers had ‘confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and WILL DO the things we command you.’”

This, then, brings us to the question as to how to understand passages such as 1 Peter 4:18, stating that the righteous one is “SCARCELY” saved, while other passages tell us that God has given the righteous one ABUNDANT blessings to enable him to enter the Kingdom.

We stated in our booklet on Predestination:

“It says, ‘scarcely.’ It does not say, ‘barely.’ The context here is suffering (compare verses 12-16, and verse 19). Paul said that we must enter God’s Kingdom with many tribulations, or much suffering (Acts 14:22). The Greek word for ‘scarcely,’ molis, is defined, among other things, as: ‘with difficulty, with much work’ (Strong’s, No. 3433). Others say that it means, ‘with toil and fatigue.’ The Revised English Bible reads: ‘It is hard enough for the righteous to be saved; what then will become of the impious and sinful?’

“Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that the word is associated with difficulty. In Luke 9:39, it is translated as ‘hardly,’ describing the difficulty in casting out demons. The Interlinear Bible also renders the word as, ‘with difficulty.’

“So, then, 1 Peter 4:18 does not tell us that our salvation is a big question mark in God’s eyes—that we may not make it, and if we do, it will be just barely. Rather, God is convinced that we will make it—but we do have to withstand trials and persecution and temptations.”

Other commentaries cross-reference 1 Peter 4:18 with passages describing fiery trials. God is telling us that entering the Kingdom of God requires our willingness to suffer for the Kingdom and endure difficult trials and serious temptations.

In our free booklet, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians,” we discuss Philippians 1:6 in context, where Paul is stating his conviction and confidence that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

We explain that “Paul makes an important point in Philippians 1:2-7… that our salvation is not ‘automatic.’ We must prove to God through our conduct, as the Philippians did and were challenged to continue to do, that we are willing to obey Him and that we are living worthy of the gospel. God is not going to grant us eternal life if we flagrantly disobey Him. In fact, Paul warns us in Hebrews 6:4-8 that such conduct may lead to our eternal death.

“God does WANT those whom He calls to salvation to be in His Kingdom—His Family. He is confident that His disciples WILL ‘make it’ into His Kingdom… When God calls us, He ENABLES us, and therefore KNOWS that we CAN finish our race successfully. Our ability, sufficiency, or qualification come from God: We cannot come to Christ unless the Father draws us to Him (John 6:44, 65); we cannot repent unless the Father grants us the gift of repentance (Romans 2:4); we cannot really and truly believe unless the Father grants us the gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 12:2); and we cannot live a righteous life unless the Father grants us the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17).

“All of this does not mean, however, that we cannot lose out on salvation. The Bible contains many warnings against taking our calling lightly. It is our responsibility to accept God’s gifts and use them. For instance, we are admonished that we are to hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, and that we are to seek it as a first priority (Matthew 5:6; 6:33). And so, even though the Father has qualified us to inherit salvation, we must continue in that process of qualification…

“Paul encourages and warns the Church in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6: ‘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 are DISQUALIFIED. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.’

“As Paul was confident that he would ‘make it’ into God’s Kingdom, he expresses the same confidence in regard to the Philippians… We must have the same confidence today if God has called us. At the same time, we must prove to God that we mean ‘business,’ so that our confidence is established on evidence—fruits worthy of repentance and the gospel—not only on wishful, unjustified thinking and illusionary hope.”

To summarize, the Scriptures that are quoted at the beginning of this Q&A do not contradict each other, but they complement each other. They must be read together. Even though God gives each and every one of us a sufficient and abundant amount of His Spirit, He expects of us to use it and, through faith and obedience, to be more and more filled with His Spirit. And while God is very confident that we will enter the Kingdom of God, and while He is promising and offering us abundantly every help and blessing needed for this purpose, He expects of us to accept and use His free gifts, and to live worthy of and not reject our calling—even and especially in times of sore trials and tribulations.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Norbert and Johanna Link have arrived safely in Germany. Mr. Link will conduct services for the Day of Atonement and then he will be giving sermons at the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day. Ministers Rene Messier, Brian Gale and Mike Link, as well as Deacon Kalon Mitchell, will also assist at this newly established German Feast site. You may find more details by visiting our website and searching “Feasts.”

“Why Christ Will Return!,” is the title of our recent Feast of Trumpets sermon presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. This is now posted and here is a summary:

In this sermon, we are showing you many reasons why Christ will come back very soon. The biblical Feast of Trumpets symbolizes His return and the accompanying circumstances and conditions. Without Christ’s second coming, mankind would have no future, and even converted Christians would be lost.

As a reminder, here are the dates for the upcoming Holy Days: September 14th–Day of Atonement; September 19th (beginning with opening night on September 18) through the 25th–Feast of Tabernacles; September 26th–Last Great Day. We will be broadcasting services live in the United States from our location in Vail, Colorado. For further information on our Feast sites in Colorado and Germany, please consult our website: www.eternalgod.org. For additional information on our Feast site in Germany, please also go to http://www.aufpostenstehen.de/wir-uber-uns/laubhuttenfest-2013/.

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Out of Darkness

by John Amorelli

In my line of work, I am required to fulfill 48 CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) every four years to satisfy the National Certification Board and to keep my license validated to be permitted to practice massage therapy. In order to do this, I need to complete seminars, workshops and classes, whether online or attending in person. Years ago, before I was called into the Truth, I was interested in a course called “Reiki 1”. The course offered eight CEU’s and could be used towards fulfilling my requirements. Subsequently, I took another course with twelve CEU’s, called “Reiki 2-Distant Healing” within a couple of months. I took the Reiki courses because I believed, at that time, that it was a harmless technique which I could utilize to help my clients with their health. Wrong!

Dr. Mikao Usui, also known as Usui Sensei in Japan, is the founder of the Reiki system, and drew his “inspiration” from Buddha. He was a monk, and it is believed that he made a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain outside of Kyoto, Japan, where he fasted and meditated for 21 days. There, he had a spectacular “epiphany experience” (receiving visions of five symbols, which are taught in Reiki classes today). In these visions, he was allegedly shown how to activate “energy” and give the “gift” of Reiki–the healing by “laying on of hands” without actually touching the person. He then came down from the mountain and purportedly performed “miraculous healings”.

When I learned all of this, I decided that “Reiki” was out of my resume and out of my life! When someone asks me if I teach and practice Reiki, I simply smile and say emphatically, “No”. I will not call on any demons, claiming to be the “dead spirits” of Usui and other deceased Reiki proponents and followers. I will not use the five symbols above the client’s head to “activate” energy. I will only take courses and seminars that have the clinical components for physical applications and eliminate any “energy work” courses that are part of “ungodly eastern” ways!

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