|The Alien Life; First Love
|Humility Through Pain
|This Week in the News
|How is the City of Jerusalem Important to Christians? (Part 2)
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The Alien Life; First Love
On October 31, 2015, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “The Alien Life,” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “First Love.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Humility Through Pain
by Kalon Mitchell
I had the unpleasant experience the other week of going to the emergency room. Thankfully, it did not end up as an emergency. However, it was during that trip that I couldn’t help but notice the other people around me who were suffering in obvious pain, some more than others. I thought back to the Feast of Tabernacles. This year we enjoyed, for the most part, health and well-being at the Feast. We recognize that the Feast pictures, among other things, a time when sickness and disease will be a thing of the past. It made me sad to see these sick people.
In the subsequent days that followed, I also began to see another lesson emerge. Thinking back on my time in the Emergency Room, I found it interesting how Christ had compassion for sick people (Matthew 14:14). We in God’s Church ought to have that same compassion for others. In Matthew 9:12-13 we read that it is the sick that need healing. But Christ went on to say that compassion was more useful than sacrifices.
When we go through physical pain and suffering, it is an opportunity for us to do a few things. God sometimes uses physical pain and suffering as an opportunity to help us draw closer to Him. Think of the Apostle Paul whom God blinded for a few days (Acts 9:9). Think of King Hezekiah, who was told he was going to die (Isaiah 38:1-5). What about the grievous trial Job went through, including the loss of family, possessions and health, leading to genuine repentance (Job 42:5-6). Just using these three examples, out of many, one of the main outcomes was that of humility. They each learned in a different fashion what it means to come to have Godly humility.
This new-found humility allowed God to work with them in even more powerful ways. God gave compassion to these men once they turned fully to Him. God HAS called us NOW (Isaiah 55:6-9). No matter what God tells us and what may be at stake—when we turn to Him with humility, He can and will forgive us. He will have compassion for us, His children (Isaiah 44:22).
Our physical sufferings can be for our benefit and for the benefit of others, if we stop and carefully consider our ways, and if we take the opportunity to find compassion and empathy for others who go through similar suffering. Let us never forget that God loves the humble person, who is willing to lean on Him for all things, including our physical health and well-being.
We begin with reports on international events and developments, including the United Kingdom; Israel and the Middle East; Russia and Ukraine; as well as Poland, Portugal and Germany.
Focusing on the USA, we are publishing articles which are highly critical of alleged “illegal” conduct by the Justice Department and the IRS, as well as the Obama Administration.
Turning to social and religious issues, we address abortion; several Christian denominations in the USA; statements by the most senior woman bishop of the Church of England; and the strong division within the Roman Catholic Church which is bound to have serious repercussions for that entire religious body worldwide.
This Week in the News
Brussels Has Created an Authoritarian “Right-Wing Monster”
The Telegraph wrote on October 23:
“Portugal has entered dangerous political waters. For the first time since the creation of Europe’s monetary union, a member state has taken the explicit step of forbidding eurosceptic parties from taking office on the grounds of national interest. Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal’s constitutional president, has refused to appoint a Left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to smash the austerity regime bequeathed by the EU-IMF Troika…
“There can be no fresh elections until the second half of next year under Portugal’s constitution, risking almost a year of paralysis that puts the country on a collision course with Brussels and ultimately threatens to reignite the country’s debt crisis…
“This is a dangerous demarche. The Portuguese conservatives and their media allies behave as if the Left has no legitimate right to take power, and must be held in check by any means. These reflexes are familiar – and chilling – to anybody familiar with 20th century Iberian history, or indeed Latin America. That it is being done in the name of the euro is entirely to be expected.
“Greece’s Syriza movement, Europe’s first radical-Left government in Europe since the Second World War, was crushed into submission for daring to confront eurozone ideology. Now the Portuguese Left is running into a variant of the same meat-grinder.
“Europe’s socialists face a dilemma. They are at last waking up to the unpleasant truth that monetary union is an authoritarian Right-wing enterprise that has slipped its democratic leash, yet if they act on this insight in any way they risk being prevented from taking power. Brussels really has created a monster.”
Will Britain Stay in the EU as an “Associate”?
The Daily Mail wrote on October 23 about a new report and developments within the “Yes”-Camp which proposes the establishment of an “associate status” for Britain within the EU. However, it is doubtful that Britain will ultimately obtain or maintain such a status, short of leaving the EU.
“Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President, will by [the time of the referendum] have set in motion a series of treaty changes for the next stage of integration as the EU develops into a superstate…
“The report [of the “Yes” Camp] envisages yet further integration among 19 countries in the single currency eurozone, binding them so tightly (financially, socially and politically) that, in effect, the eurozone will become a single country. Not being signed up to the euro, Britain will not be part of this group and will be given a so-called ‘escape clause’, freeing us from any further moves towards closer union…
“It means that David Cameron will be armed with powerful weapons to argue for Britain’s continued membership of the EU, even if he fails to win the concessions for Britain that he has said he aims to achieve. He will be able to argue, very plausibly, that EU membership gives the UK the best of both worlds: that is, we remain part of the wider European trading area, while escaping the onerous burdens of membership of a new European superstate. What’s more, the Europhiles will be helped by Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is expected to give her blessing to Britain having ‘associate status’.
“The Yes camp — with Osborne and Mandelson plotting behind the scenes — are convinced that all this will convince the majority of the British people to vote to remain in the EU. Also, they expect the No campaign to be destabilised by these apparent concessions to the British people…”
Tony Blair’s Late “Change of Heart”
Deutsche Welle wrote on October 25:
‘The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he is sorry for mistakes around the US-led military invasion of Iraq. Speaking to CNN, he also conceded that the war may have helped bring about the ‘Islamic State.’…
“His comments come despite previously telling a British parliamentary committee he would not apologize for the US-led invasion, which his government supported politically and militarily… Last week, a leaked memo suggested that Blair had signed up to the war a year before it began.”
World Would Be Better off with Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi Sill in Charge?
Newsmax wrote on October 25:
“They both committed atrocities against their own people, but GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump says the world would be a better place today if Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were still alive and in charge. ‘I mean, look at Libya. Look at Iraq,’ Trump said Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
“‘Iraq used to [have] no terrorists. [Saddam] would kill the terrorists immediately, which is like now it’s the Harvard of terrorism. If you look at Iraq from years ago, I’m not saying he was a nice guy, he was a horrible guy, but it was a lot better than it is right now,’ Trump added. ‘Right now, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists. Right now Libya, nobody even knows Libya, frankly there is no Iraq and there is no Libya. It’s all broken up. They have no control. Nobody knows what’s going on.’
“When asked by host Jake Tapper if the world would be better off today with the two despots still in power, Trump replied, ‘100 percent.’”
On that issue, Trump is 100% correct.
The Silent Secession of Eastern Ukraine
Deutsche Welle reported on October 23:
“For the past several months, street and city signs with Ukrainian names have been replaced with signs written in Russian throughout the country’s east…
“During negotiations in Minsk, it was agreed that the 2-3 million residents of the regions surrounding Donetsk and Luhansk would receive more autonomy but remain part of Ukraine. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande most recently reiterated those points during meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Paris this October.
“Yet, exactly the opposite is taking place. Although guns have been silent since the beginning of September, the separation of the coal mining region Donbass from the rest of Ukraine, which was begun in the spring of 2014, is quietly continuing. Largely unnoticed by the world at large, facts are being created on the ground. This is happening without Russia having to formally take control of the region, or having to annex it like it did with the Crimean Peninsula.
“The separatists first introduced the Russian ruble alongside the Ukrainian hryvna months ago. Then, on September 1, the ruble was declared the official currency of the Luhansk Oblast…
“There have also been changes in education. According to media reports, ‘humanitarian convoys,’ as Moscow calls them, brought some 500 tons of schoolbooks to the separatist provinces. Students in Donetsk and Luhansk now learn from Russian textbooks, which are different from Ukrainian textbooks, especially in subject areas such as history. Russian curricula are also being widely adopted.
“… within the framework of the Minsk Protocol, Russia has officially sent military advisers into the rogue provinces. They are charged with overseeing the ceasefire. To that end, the Russian and rebel Ukrainian militaries are operating a shared headquarters… That is how Russia controls the troops…
“On Tuesday, a separatist-friendly online website reported that by the end of this year a government agency is to be installed in the southern Russian port city of Rostov-on-Don with the power to issue Russian passports to residents of the Eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk provinces… Moscow has acted similarly in other former Soviet republics once conflicts became frozen – in Georgia for instance, where Russian passports were also issued.”
Israel Loses Big in Temple Mount Conflict
ynetnews.com wrote on October 24:
“US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that Israel and Jordan have agreed on steps aimed at reducing tensions at a holy site in Jerusalem that have fanned Israeli-Palestinian violence. Kerry said Netanyahu had expressed a commitment to continue enforcing the status quo, which says only Muslims may pray at the compound, while non-Muslims may only visit… Israel will continue to enforce its policy of religious worship, including ‘the fundamental fact’ that it is Muslims who pray there and non-Muslims who visit…
“It should be noted that Israel strongly opposed a recent French initiative to place international observers at the Temple Mount, a proposal that led to the French ambassador being reprimanded by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem… Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee, said that… Abbas was told by Kerry that Netanyahu had agreed to freeze building in West Bank settlements.”
This new deal will make many conservative Jews very unhappy.
Ridiculous Propaganda by the “Grand Mufti of Jerusalem”
JTA wrote on October 25:
“The grand mufti of Jerusalem said in an interview with an Israeli television station that there has never been a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. There has been a mosque on the site ‘since the creation of the world,’ Sheik Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, who is in charge of the Al-Aqsa mosque on what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary, said Sunday evening in an interview in Arabic with Israel’s Channel 2. The mosque was built in the eighth century.
“Hussein, who has served as mufti since 2006, has called for suicide bombings against Israelis, the Times of Israel reported Sunday evening. Muslim sources have corroborated historical sources in recording that two Jewish temples have stood atop the site…”
Can the EU Help in Light of US Absence?
The EUObserver wrote on October 26:
“[The] EU and its member states have shown increasing signs of diplomatic activism designed to unlock Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, whether through the United Nations Security Council, in the form of European parliamentary support for Palestinian recognition, or efforts to exclude Israeli settlements from EU-Israel bilateral agreements.
“Despite the inherent potential in this kind of European diplomacy and the considerable expectations built over the last year, 2015 has been a wasted opportunity to fill the diplomatic vacuum left by US disengagement following the collapse of Kerry’s peace-making efforts in April 2014.
“EU leaders have been unable to clearly articulate their own vision for solving the conflict… the EU’s ability to babysit the conflict in the US’ absence has been far from glowing…”
In time, this will change, and Europe will play a decisive role in the Middle East… which will throw the world into terrible disaster.
Germany’s Security Experts Warn Merkel
Breitbart wrote on October 25:
“Germany’s security experts have rounded on the country’s leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, warning that her immigration policy will ‘produce extremists’, and stating that the country is importing ‘Islamist extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, [and] national and ethnic conflicts of other nations’.
“Former Interior Secretary August Hanning told Die Welt Am Sonntag (the World on Sunday): ‘The German security authorities are and will not be able to handle these imported security issues and the resulting reactions’, warning that not only is Germany welcoming Islamist extremists, but that it will foster resentment in the native population.
“He has recommended this week that Germany closes ‘the border for immigrants without an entry permit in accordance with the legislation immediately, and to reject those traveling without an entry permit immediately’.
“A new 10-point-plan from his office says that Mrs. Merkel should declare that Germany’s abilities to absorb more people are ‘exhausted’, and there should be no entry for those coming from ‘safe’ countries, with an exception for children. He wants the Balkans route into Germany shut off, and a restriction of family reunification, meaning that the 80 per cent male population descending on Germany would not be able to send home for their families. Mr Hanning estimates that each migrant will attempt to bring four more people each with them in the long term.
“And he also wants compulsory integration and language lessons for migrants.
“His comments reflect the concerns of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Bremen district, Ulrich Maurer, who said this week: ‘In recent weeks, we have registered an increase in agitation attempts by Salafis in refugee centres’.
“Mrs. Merkel has been coming under increased pressure from within her party, and even from the political left in her country who have warned about the increasing pressure on Germany’s infrastructure and the general public. Her party’s poll numbers continue to decline…”
The Local wrote on October 26:
“Hundreds of refugees disappear in Germany… many of the refugees have not even been registered by local authorities yet, nothing is known about who they are or where they could have gone…”
Merkel Committing Political Suicide
Deutsche Welle wrote on October 27:
‘For a long time now the German Chancellor has been regarded as the great authority within Europe. But her refugee policy has turned her into a burden for the Union… Within just a few weeks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s standing in Europe has dramatically decreased…
“She accepted the state’s loss of control over its borders with a mere shrug of the shoulders. And as if all that weren’t enough, she stood up in front of all the other Europeans and declared her personal view of things to be the only one that was morally right. In other words: Germany’s European partners should help it deal with the consequences of a policy for which Merkel is significantly responsible. No one claims that Merkel is responsible for the refugee movement per se – but she has certainly increased the pull towards Europe, and in doing so has made other countries liable, too, against their will.
“… Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has even openly declared the stream of refugees ‘a German problem’ and is cutting his country off. Following Poland’s swing to the right, Merkel can’t expect concessions from there any more, either. Even Sweden’s head of state, Stefan Löfven, is coming under pressure at home to close the borders. With all of this going on, there can be no more talk of European solidarity. Everyone is trying to save themselves – at others’ expense, if need be.
“However much the Chancellor believes she’s morally in the right, on European refugee policy she is isolated. She was able, for the most part, to push through her views on economic policy because it was a policy the majority of Europeans believed in, even though it was painful. But not only are the majority in Germany opposed to her ideas about accepting an unlimited number of refugees, a considerable majority also oppose her in Europe, and have done for some time. Ultimately, there is no policy that will help with this. Merkel’s personal tragedy is that she is in the process of gambling away the significant authority she had built up for herself in Europe.”
Mini-Summit of 10 EU Nations
The Local wrote on October 26:
“Tensions are high at EU, Balkans refugee summit. The mini summit, called by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, grouped the heads of 10 EU nations, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, plus the leaders of non-EU Albania, Serbia and Macedonia… More than 670,000 people have landed on European shores this year – many of them fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — in the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II. Some 3,000 people have died making the dangerous Mediterranean sea crossing…
“Fears are rising that the crisis is threatening the cherished ‘Schengen’ system of borderless travel, one of the bedrock achievements of a united Europe. Faced with a huge influx heading north, Hungary has closed off its borders with Serbia and Croatia. Tiny Slovenia has now threatened to build border fences if it does not receive help, having become the main entry point to the Schengen zone following Hungary’s clampdown… Slovenia, which numbers two million people, has been swamped by more than 60,000 migrants in a matter of days…
‘Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia on Saturday warned they would not accept being turned into a ‘buffer zone’ for the tens of thousands of arrivals streaming into Europe. ‘If Germany and Austria and other countries close their borders … we will be ready to also close our borders at that very same moment,’ Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said…
“The 10 leaders from the 28-nation European Union who are invited to the mini summit are from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden…”
Right-Wing Party Wins in Poland
The EUObserver wrote on October 26:
“The right-wing Law and Justice party swept back to power in Polish elections on Sunday (25 October), winning an absolute majority of 232 seats in the 460-seat parliament, based on exit polls… Its campaign… included more populist elements, depicting Civic Platform as being servile to Germany, feeble on Russia, and putting Poles at risk of ‘diseases’ brought by Syrian refugees under an EU relocation programme…
“The Guardian, a British daily, compared Law and Justice to the far-right, anti-EU National Front in France and the PVV in The Netherlands. The New York Times said Poland is part of a broader swing to the right in eastern Europe, including in Hungary and Slovakia…
“Le Monde, the French paper of record, highlighted [the party’s leaders] links with the Polish Catholic church… German broadcaster ARD accused Kaczynski [the party chief] of ‘hate speech’ on refugees, comparing his pre-election statements to the xenophobic Pegida movement in Germany… The [Italian] Corriere della Sera daily attributed Kaczynski’s triumph to ‘anti-immigrant rhetoric’…”
Migrant Crisis Will Unleash Extremism in Europe
The Telegraph wrote on October 27:
“It is hard to comprehend the stupefying naivety of those, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who thought it a good idea to send out an utterly self-serving signal a few weeks ago inviting anyone who could make the journey to head for Europe. This was ostensibly aimed at Syrians who had fled the civil war in their homeland; but the exodus has been swelled by migrants from many other countries looking for a better life – and who can blame them?…
“This will unleash extremist politics in Europe. In Germany, the anti-immigrant Pegida movement is attracting thousands to its rallies and in France the Front National continues to gain support. Elsewhere, Eurosceptic parties are making inroads. In Portugal, a Syriza-style leftist minority government has taken office opposed to the eurozone’s fiscal rules; and in Poland, the Law and Justice Party is back in power, pledged to oppose any Brussels diktat on migrant quotas. Against this backdrop, which can only darken, Britain has to decide over the next two years whether to remain part of an increasingly unstable organization…”
Benghazi Committee—a Waste of Time and Money
The Washington Post’s Editorial Board wrote on October 23:
“The House Select Committee on Benghazi further discredited itself on Thursday as its Republican members attempted to fuel largely insubstantial suspicions about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks [leading to the death of four Americans]. Grilling Ms. Clinton all day, they elicited little new information and offered little hope that their inquiry would find anything significant that seven previous investigations didn’t…
“Ms. Clinton is not blameless. As she admitted, she had final responsibility for the actions of those who served under her. A State Department review found bureaucratic failures that contributed to the relatively light security in Benghazi. While it’s unreasonable to expect Ms. Clinton to have known about [US Ambassador] Stevens’s precise circumstances, she bears some blame for the bureaucratic context in which security decisions were made.
“Yet the major, top-line policy fumble in Libya stemmed not from callousness or incompetence on Ms. Clinton’s part but from the Obama administration’s broader failure to live up to the vision of assertive U.S. engagement…”
Outrage over US Justice Department and “Lawless” Obama Administration
Newsmax wrote on October 23:
“Conservatives were outraged Friday that the Justice Department closed its two-year investigation into the IRS targeting scandal without charging former supervisor Lois Lerner or anyone else at the agency, with tea party activist Mark Meckler slamming the decision as ‘a whitewash and miscarriage of justice.’… Meckler’s organization, which is based in Austin, Texas, has a federal lawsuit pending against the IRS and the Obama administration in the targeting scandal. Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, the Houston group that also sued over the scandal, referenced such Obama administration debacles at the Fast and Furious gun-running scheme and the email probe over the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
“‘This is a lawless administration,’ she said. ‘The FBI closing their investigation is par for course in the Obama administration, where criminals walk free and honest Americans fear their government.’… ‘At every turn, President Obama and administration officials have repeatedly and publicly undermined the investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups yet today’s announcement from the Department of Justice is still very disturbing,’ said Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, one of the panels investigating the scandal.
“Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said that the Justice Department’s ‘faux investigation’ warranted an independent probe by a special counsel. ‘It’s an outrage – a mockery of justice,’ he said in a blog post.
“ACLJ still represents many targeted groups in lawsuits on the scandal. ‘We will not give up,’ Sekulow said. ‘We will not stop pressing for the truth. Justice will be served… Americans should never have to fear that the IRS or any other branch of the bureaucracy will target them for their beliefs.”
IRS Head to Be Impeached?
The Washington Post reported on October 27:
“A group of House Republicans led by the chairman of a powerful committee moved Tuesday to impeach the head of the Internal Revenue Service, saying he violated the public trust and lied to Congress as it investigated the treatment of conservative groups. The announcement by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, came four days after the Justice Department formally closed its investigation of the targeting scandal without filing criminal charges.
“The last-ditch effort to remove IRS Commissioner John Koskinen follows through on a threat Chaffetz made over the summer after he called on President Obama to fire the commissioner, whom he accused of erasing back-up tapes containing thousands of e-mails written by Lois Lerner, the central IRS official in the scandal…
“The oversight committee has been investigating the IRS for more than two years, since agents were discovered to have subjected conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status to additional scrutiny.
“Chaffetz was joined by 18 committee Republicans in sponsoring an impeachment resolution, which now goes to the House Judiciary Committee. House Democrats quickly denounced the move as political grandstanding…
“Pursuing impeachment against an agency leader is highly unusual, and a step beyond contempt charges, the mechanism House Republicans tried to use against both Lerner and former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. in past disputes.
“More than a century ago, Congress brought articles of impeachment against War Secretary William Belknap in 1876, after the House of Representatives uncovered evidence supporting a pattern of corruption. He resigned during the proceedings.”
IRS a “Criminal Enterprise”?
Newsmax reported on October 23:
“The Internal Revenue Service is a ‘criminal enterprise’ that should be ‘put to death,’ Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says. ‘They use the extraordinary, almost unlimited power of government that they have and they use it to attack political enemies. They use it to attack conservatives, pro-Israel groups. They hide the records, they destroy the records,’ Huckabee told CBN’s ‘The Brody File.’
“‘The IRS can launch an investigation, they conduct their own investigation, they come to findings and they even get to assess the penalty as a result of their findings. It’s a one-stop shop. That violates the various branches of government that are supposed to be involved in adjudicating us and it is also a violation of… not only the separation of powers but of being able to be innocent until proven guilty.’
“Huckabee made his comments as he discussed his ‘fair tax’ plan, which he says has no need for the IRS. Other tax-reform ideas being proposed by other presidential candidates leave the agency intact, he added. ‘Every one of those plans is tinkering with the tax code. You still have the IRS,’ Huckabee said. ‘They’re still a criminal enterprise. They still need to be put to death and only the fair tax does that.’”
Paul Ryan Doomed as Speaker of the House?
The Washington Post wrote on October 23:
“Paul Ryan is doomed, too… The Wisconsin Republican… will end up in the same position as Boehner — held hostage by the Freedom Caucus… the fundamental problem — no functional GOP majority — will remain…”
Newsmax wrote on October 27:
“The presumptive new House speaker is bashing outgoing Speaker John Boehner, Senate leaders and the White House for their backroom budget deal, declaring the ‘process stinks’… and promised a change in direction…
“Politico reports the deal will actually help Ryan, setting budget levels for two years, lifts the debt ceiling until March 2017, and eliminating the threat of a government shutdown until October 2016. Still, Politico notes, Ryan wasn’t involved in the negotiations and wants to distance himself from it, as it comes under conservatives’ attacks.
“Conservatives, however, appeared resigned to the outcome. ‘We can’t stop it. He’s in league with the Democrats,’ Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie said of Boehner on Tuesday. ‘I mean I don’t think there’s anything you can do at this point.’”
Ryan was elected as the new House Speaker on October 29. In his speech, Ryan declared the institution as “broken.” The New York Times wrote that the House is “divided and chaotic.” As the Washington Post reported, former speaker John Boehner“left Ryan with a fiscal agreement hashed out with President Obama that would increase government spending by $80 billion through 2017 and raised the federal debt limit — enraging hard-line conservatives…”
Carson in First Place?
According to new Nationwide poll, Ben Carson leads for the First Time. Newsmax wrote on October 27:
“Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has sailed past Donald Trump nationally to take the lead in the race for the GOP nomination, a new poll shows. The CBS News/New York Times polls shows:
“Carson, 26 percent; Trump, 22 percent; Marco Rubio, 8 percent; Jeb Bush, 7 percent; Carly Fiorina, 7 percent.
“All other candidates, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich each were the choice of 4 percent or lower. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.”
As Der Spiegel Online reported on October 27, the new poll asked 575 voters. That small figure might not be a convincing representative result for nation-wide voters. In the third Republican Debate on October 28, which was hosted by CNBC, neither Carson nor Trump performed extraordinarily well. The shining moment belonged to Ted Cruz when he blasted the hostile moderators for their inappropriate and sometimes totally irrelevant questions.
Surprisingly, Newsmax reported on October 29 that “Donald Trump was the huge winner of the third Republican presidential debate — triumphing by a wide margin over Dr. Ben Carson, a new Newsmax poll reveals… Carson… was also topped by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the survey conducted following the Wednesday night GOP slugfest on CNBC.”
It appears that no matter how Trump performs, he turns out to be the winner.
Abortion to Be Outlawed?
Newsmax wrote on October 25:
“Ben Carson would like abortion to be outlawed in the United States. [Carson] said in a Sunday interview on Meet the Press that he would ‘love to see’ the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision overturned, and that he would greatly limit the number of exceptions to a nationwide ban on abortion, including cases of rape and incest. ‘Rape and incest, I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way. And all you have to do is go and look up the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest,’ Carson said.”
In fact, the Bible does not allow the abortion of any child for any reason.
Trump, Carson and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church
The Washington Post wrote on October 25:
“Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Sunday that he saw no reason to apologize for raising the issue of rival Ben Carson’s Seventh-day Adventist faith during a recent campaign rally. ‘I would certainly give an apology if I said something bad about it. But I didn’t. All I said was I don’t know about it,’ Trump said during an interview on ABC’s ‘This Week’… Trump dismissed a suggestion by host George Stephanopoulos that by mentioning Carson’s religious affiliation he was trying to ‘send a dog whistle’ to ‘some conservatives [who] claim the Seventh-day Adventists are not Christian.’…
“Trump had brought up Carson’s religion on Saturday, during a rally in Florida. ‘I’m Presbyterian,’ he said. ‘Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.’
“Carson, in an interview on Fox News, declined to strike back but noted that Trump ‘went ballistic’ several weeks ago when Carson questioned Trump’s faith, saying the difference between him and Trump was that ‘I’ve realized where my success has come from, and I don’t in any way deny my faith in God.’ ‘So it seems a little interesting that he would now be doing that,’ Carson noted. Carson, who has also said he would not support a Muslim for president, later apologized for the comments about Trump’s faith…
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church has struggled historically to be accepted by mainstream Protestants. It traces its roots to lay theologian William Miller, who predicted the return of Jesus Christ in 1844, the movement was abandoned by some of its early followers and dismissed as a cult after Miller’s prediction didn’t pan out.
“Over the decades, leaders of the church have worked hard to emphasize their belief in Christian doctrine and practices, though some Christians still look at them with skepticism, as they do with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses…
“Carson, who has said that he was twice baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist, talks frequently about his belief in God and the need to defend religious freedom, but not as much about his specific faith…”
All of the above-mentioned denominations–the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Presbyterian–have certainly some teachings which are biblical, while many are not. We need to point out too that within all of these churches, there are great differences of doctrinal viewpoints of their members and minsters. But based on the worldly definition of “Christianity,” which is limited to just believing in Christ, they would all qualify as “Christian.” The same would be true for those denominations, which are mentioned in the articles below—the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. But when analyzing their teachings, it becomes obvious that many of their doctrines and core beliefs are not in accordance with Scripture.
Will Ben Carson’s Belief in Seventh-Day Adventism Help or Hurt Him?
The New York Times wrote on October 27:
“In an election season where religion and politics have collided frequently, Mr. Carson’s faith remains a mystery to some and is something that could prove to be a strength and a liability…
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church counts more than 18 million members globally and 1.2 million in North America, but some skeptics see it as a sect out of touch with mainstream Christianity. While the church avoids involvement in politics, Mr. Carson’s emergence as a prominent political figure has presented an opportunity for it to gain credibility…
“During a 1999 interview with the Religion News Service, Mr. Carson said he was happy to attend other kinds of churches. ‘I spend just as much time in non-Seventh-day Adventist churches because I’m not convinced that the denomination is the most important thing,’ he said. ‘I think it’s the relationship with God that’s most important.’
“More recently, however, Mr. Carson made clear that he would always defend his Adventist beliefs against skeptics. ‘I’m proud of the fact that I believe what God has said, and I’ve said many times that I’ll defend it before anyone,’ Mr. Carson told the Adventist Report in 2013. ‘If they want to criticize the fact that I believe in a literal six-day creation, let’s have at it because I will poke all kinds of holes in what they believe.’
“For theological reasons, Adventism has faced tensions with the Roman Catholic and Baptist churches over the years. Last spring, Mr. Carson was invited to speak at a Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Ohio, but he faced opposition because of his beliefs and eventually backed out. ‘Dr. Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist,’ a group of pastors from the Baptist organization B21 wrote in protest of his visit. ‘Their official theology denies the doctrine of hell in favor of annihilation,’ they wrote, ‘and believes that those who worship on Sunday will bear the ‘mark of the beast.’
“The church has also had a strongly anti-Catholic strain, and when Mr. Carson decided to attend Pope Francis’ visit to Congress last month, Adventist message boards lit up with questions about his presence with the pontiff. Some questioned him referring to the pope as the ‘Holy Leader’ and wondered, ‘How do such words come from the mouth of a Seventh-day Adventist?’…”
Newsmax reported on October 26:
“Gathered below are 12 things you may or may not know about Seventh-day Adventists and their unique system of belief.
“1. Millerite origins — After studying the prophecies of Daniel, Baptist preacher William Miller predicted the literal Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ on Oct. 22, 1844, and formed a large following around this belief.
“2. Great Disappointment — When Christ did not return to earth on the predicted date, some adherents abandoned their faith in the idea of a literal Second Coming, while many continued to find the idea of a literal Second Coming useful to the practice of their faith.
“3. Founding — Out of the Millerite denomination grew the formal Seventh-day Adventist Church, which was founded in 1863 at the First General Conference. At the conference, twenty delegates met in Battle Creek, Michigan, to outline the beliefs of the denomination.
“4. Ellen G. White — Among the original founders was a woman born in Maine named Ellen G. White… White is recognized as having received the gift of prophecy as outlined in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12, and her writings are seen as ‘a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.’
“5. Sabbath — Adventists recognize Saturday as the Sabbath, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week.
“6. Body as temple of the Holy Spirit — Many Adventists ‘adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures,’ as they view the body as the vessel for the Holy Spirit. Many abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and narcotics.
“7. Unconscious dead — Seventh-day Adventists believe that those who die lay in an unconscious state until the return of Jesus Christ to earth.
“8. Second Coming of Christ — Adventists believe that Christ, having died on the cross, been resurrected, and ascended to heaven, will return to earth twice more: once to catch up the righteous, and finally to establish heaven on earth.
“9. First resurrection — During the first resurrection, the righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord.
“10. Millennium — After Christ resurrects and takes up the righteous, he will reign in heaven with them for 1,000 years, while Satan and his angels will occupy a desolate earth with no living human inhabitants.
“11. The End of Sin — At the end of the Millennium, Christ, His saints, and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will be resurrected, and surround the city along with Satan and his angels. At that time, God will consume them in fire, thus cleansing the earth and the universe from sin and sinners forever.
“12. New Earth — After Satan is destroyed, Seventh-day Adventists believe suffering and death will have passed away, and God will rule with the redeemed in a perfect environment of love, life, and joy.”
As can clearly be seen, the Seventh-Day Adventists combine some elements of truth with many errors.
In particular, Miller’s predictions were obviously wrong: Ellen G. White is manifestly NOT a prophetess of God; there is no biblical prohibition to abstain from alcohol; Christ will NOT return twice to earth, but only once; Christ will not reign in heaven with the saints during the Millennium, but on a beautiful earth, which will be occupied by humans; Satan and his demons will not occupy a desolated earth, but they will be imprisoned during the Millennium in a “bottomless pit”; the Holy City will not descend to earth at the end of the Millennium, but much later; Satan and his angels will not be consumed in fire and destroyed, but after having been thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the Millennium, they will ultimately be “wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
It is interesting that the above-quoted article admits that Saturday was the “original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week.”
When Women Bishops Rule the Church…
Daily Mail wrote on October 25:
“Britain’s most senior female bishop, who is to become the first to sit in the House of Lords, has said God should not be referred to as specifically male… The bishop said God should not be gendered and said while she knowns many will disagree, she believes the Church of England should use both male and female pronouns when referring to God…”
According to biblical doctrine, women should not be ordained as ministers, and they are NOT to preach in Church. And the Bible clearly states that God is our FATHER, and Jesus Christ is His SON, and no woman preacher can change this undeniable FACT.
Strong Divisions Within the Catholic Church
The New York Times wrote on October 21:
“Pope Francis had encouraged bishops from more than 120 countries to speak freely when they gathered at the Vatican nearly three weeks ago for a broad discussion of family matters to guide the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. And speak freely, they have. The result has been the most momentous, and contentious, meeting of bishops in the 50 years since the Second Vatican Council, which brought the church into the modern era. The meeting has exposed deep fault lines between traditionalists focused on shoring up doctrine, and those who want the church to be more open to Catholics who are divorced, gay, single parents or cohabiting…
“Progressives, led by the contingent from Germany, are pushing for a church that is more welcoming toward divorced, gay and other parishioners who are not living the Catholic ideal of family. The German bishops have found allies among some prelates from Western Europe, Asia and the Americas.
“The traditionalists – whose standard bearers are the African and Eastern European bishops – have resisted any proposals that appear to soften the church’s doctrine that marriage is ‘indissoluble’ and homosexuality is ‘intrinsically disordered.’ In one indication of their fervor, Cardinal Robert Sarah, who is from Guinea and leads the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, told the synod, ‘What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.’
“Bishops from the United States have revealed themselves to be just as divided as their flock back home…
“The synod can make recommendations, but unlike the three-year Second Vatican Council, it cannot make decisions. That power lies with the pope… it could be many months before Francis issues an official document…
“The pope threw another thunderbolt last Saturday, saying in a private address to bishops that the church needs a ‘sound decentralization’ of authority. He said the church should not be run like a top-down organization with the pope at its summit, but instead should be an ‘inverted pyramid’… But in his speech, the pope also made it clear that he would be the final arbiter…”
The Washington Post added on October 21:
“At Pope Francis’s closed-door meeting in Rome this month, top clergy are intensely debating whether the church should bend more to the messy realities of modern families, and on Wednesday they released some early reports revealing their deep divisions… Changing Catholicism’s stance toward such things could begin to unravel the unity of the world’s largest church, say opponents who see the debate in Rome as directly tied to the future of Catholicism…
“Some of the powerful Italian-language groups, meanwhile, suggested bishops should have the final say…
“But not all in the Church are open to change. Division is so pronounced that Catholics are witnessing the spectacle of cardinals writing op-eds about one another… The concern comes mostly – but not exclusively — from traditional bishops and their allies who worry that Francis is stirring extremely dangerous waters by proposing changes that they see as cutting at the very heart of the nature of the Catholic Church and what it means to be Catholic…”
How is the City of Jerusalem Important to Christians? (Part 2)
In Part 1, we reviewed Jerusalem’s historical and foundational relevance to Christianity through biblical references. The Bible also reveals that prophetic events in this, our generation, focus on the City of Jerusalem.
Prophecy is vital to Christians, and Jesus emphasized this fact when He discussed signs which would show that His return to earth was imminent. He spoke of religious deception—then of wars, famines, earthquakes and violent persecution (compare Matthew 24:4-12). He also added a measure of responsibility to His followers by saying, “‘See, I have told you beforehand’” (Matthew 24:25).
We have been warned in advance—before it happens! This means we should be watching for the fulfillment of those things told to us by Jesus. The City of Jerusalem is prominently identified because of the momentous events which will occur there just before Christ’s return.
Note the physical setting and the prophetic timeframe described by Jesus:
“‘Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened’” (Matthew 24:15-22).
Let us understand that the “holy place” can only refer to an area within the Temple of God as existing in the City of Jerusalem. Also, this prophecy addresses those “in Judea.”
Consider that for almost nineteen-hundred years following this prophecy by Jesus Christ, the Jews were without a country. However, against seemingly impossible obstacles, the Jewish people formally re-established their homeland in Palestine on May 14, 1948, calling it, “the State of Israel.” At that time, Jerusalem remained a divided City, partially controlled by the Jordanians (East Jerusalem and the Old City) and the Israelis (West Jerusalem).
As a result of the Arab–Israeli war in 1967 (called the “Six-Day War”), the State of Israel gained full control of Jerusalem, and on June 28th declared Jerusalem unified and announced free access to holy sites of all religions.
While the State of Israel designates Jerusalem as its capital city, no other major nation in the world recognizes this claim! The Palestinians continue to demand an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, and there is growing international support for their cause.
Yet, the Temple Mount, situated in the Old City and administered by Jordan, is off-limits for Jewish worship—to this day! Nonetheless, the Bible gives clear evidence that Jews will once again gain control of this area and that a Temple of God will be built!
The Apostle Paul, writing to Christians of his day about the return of Jesus Christ, spoke of events which would take place in the City of Jerusalem:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Paul isn’t using a metaphor when he says the man of sin will sit “in the temple of God.” His meaning is literal, and the time setting for this event is unmistakable:
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
In the Book of Revelation, John is instructed to “‘…measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months’” (Revelation 11:1-2).
We see from these verses that a Temple of God will be in existence in Jerusalem for three-and-one-half years, but exactly how long it will have existed before the start of this time is not stated. The vitally important understanding for us is that we should be watching for the development of events which will lead up to what is so clearly revealed.
Coinciding with this time period—while Jerusalem is under the control of outside forces, that is, nations other than the State of Israel—two “witnesses” will prophesy with great power from God. They will be killed in Jerusalem, once their work is finished:
“And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 11:8-10).
Only in the last few decades has it become possible for people all over the earth to be aware of the death of two people in Jerusalem! With the advances in media technology, people can see live broadcasts from around the world. Cell phones are now possessed by over ninety percent of the world’s population, and gifts can indeed be sent using a cell phone.
In the Book of Luke, Jesus is quoted concerning the signs of the times and the end of the age. His answers include events at Jerusalem which have not yet been fulfilled—but things we should anticipate:
“‘But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled’” (Luke 21:20-24).
Carefully bear in mind what Jesus specifically said—to Christians:
“‘Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man’” (Luke 21:36).
“‘Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near–at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is’” (Mark 13:28-33).
What is happening right now in Jerusalem is the fulfillment of prophecy!
Events in Jerusalem—especially the Temple Mount—grip the attention of the world. In the meantime, many of the neighboring countries to the State of Israel continue to openly call for Israel’s outright destruction. As unsettling as the news is at the present time, things will become even more volatile:
“‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it’” (Zechariah 12:2-3).
There is much more ahead for the City of Jerusalem, and in Part 3 of this series, we will address how its future relates very directly to the promises given to Christians.
Lead Writer: Dave Harris
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
“Prophetische Auswirkungen der Migrantenkrise Deutschlands,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. Title in English: “Prophetic Consequences of Germany’s Migrant Crisis”
“The Greatest,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The greatest people in the world, the most brilliant minds, the most talented and the strongest, what do they have in common? The biggest buildings, the most amazing mechanics, the latest piece of technology, plays out to what end? We live in an age that values these types of things. But in the end what happens to all of this? Do we stop and ask ourselves the really important questions? What do we place our value in?
“Marriage Without a License?”, the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Today, many men and women are living together without being married. But is such an arrangement acceptable in God’s eyes? Or is this conduct equated in Scripture with fornication? How does a marriage begin? Did God create Adam and Eve as husband and wife? Is marriage a covenant which is preceded by engagement or betrothal? What about a wedding and a wedding supper? How about adultery and divorce? What connection is there between a physical marriage and the spiritual marriage between the Church of God as the bride and Jesus Christ as the bridegroom?
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