Update 735


A Successful Marriage; Testing Faith

On May 14, 2016, Norbert Link will present the sermonette, titled, “A Successful Marriage,” and Michael Link will present the sermon, titled, “Testing Faith.”

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.

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Are you Satan’s Helpless Victim?

by Norbert Link

During my many years in the Church of God, I have observed firsthand many Satanic attacks on God’s people and the Church itself.  I was still in Germany when I learned, second-hand, that the Attorney General of the State of California, being used by disgruntled disfellowshipped members and ministers, was launching a massive illegal attack on the Church, but when I later came to Pasadena and worked in the Legal Department, I could see that it had clearly been Satan’s goal to totally destroy the Church of God. In that, Satan failed.

Subsequently, another Satanic attack was launched against Herbert Armstrong, the late human leader of the Church, as well as the Church organization, when attempts were made to smear Mr. Armstrong’s reputation and to fraudulently gain possession of half of the Church’s property. In this, Satan failed again.

When Mr. Armstrong died, his successor, being at least partially used by liberal men who were hostile towards Mr. Armstrong and his teachings, changed just about every Church doctrine, until their organization had ceased to be a part of the Body of Christ and had instead become a mainstream “Christian” part of the great apostasy with all of its pagan ideas, and even though far too many followed their evil lead, Satan failed in his attempt to influence ALL of God’s people to depart from the truth.

In due time, further splits within the Church of God organizations occurred (as they are bound to continue in the future), which were also undoubtedly, at least in part, motivated and inspired by Satan, but again, Satan did not succeed in destroying completely ALL of God’s people. But the Bible has prophesied that due to the many Satanic attacks, many will fall away in the future (2 Thessalonians 2:3), and most of those who will stay in God’s Church will become lukewarm (Revelation 3:6), tired and worn out. We read in Daniel 7:25 about a religious power which “persecutes” the saints, but the word actually means, “wears out,” comparing it with a garment which wears out by degrees, and as applied to many of the saints, they become tired and worn out due to constant harassment and persecution.

However, the Bible also promises that a faithful remnant of the Philadelphia era WILL EXIST in these end times, who will be counted worthy to escape the terrible Great Tribulation and to stand before the Son of Man (Revelation 3:10; Luke 21:36)… and we are NOT saying that that remnant is limited to just one particular organization, even though we surely believe that our organizations are part of this remnant.

Therefore, we should expect that Satan will especially try now to attack this very remnant with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12). And that is EXACTLY what is happening. Satan IS on a rampage to DESTROY God’s people, and his attacks have become so violent and all-encompassing as never before in my experience within the Church of God. I am foremost speaking of personal problems which God’s true begotten sons and daughters have to endure at this point.

HOW are they to win this Satanic battle? It is clear, they CANNOT win it on their own. They MUST allow God to fight for them, but they must be WILLING tools in the process. Since Satan IS walking about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour, God’s people must have God’s help to resist the devil, and they must be steadfast in the faith—having the faith that Satan WILL be defeated (1 Peter 5:8-9; Romans 16:20).

God tells us in Ephesians 6:11-12:

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness [or better: wicked spirits] in the heavenly places [or: high places].”

In order to be victorious, we MUST put on the ENTIRE armor of God, which is described in Ephesians 6:10-18. It can be summarized as follows:

Our waist must be girded with God’s truth (verse 14).

We have to put on the breastplate of God’s righteousness (verse 14).

Our feet must be shod with the preparation of God’s gospel of peace (verse 15).

We must take God’s shield of faith (verse 16).

We must wear God’s helmet of salvation (verse 17).

We must also take the sword of God’s Spirit, which is the word of God (verse 17).

And last but not least, we must pray always with all prayer and supplication in God’s Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (verse 18).

We have published a free booklet, Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians — How to Understand It,” in which we discuss in detail every aspect of God’s armor, which is VITAL for our spiritual survival and salvation. You SHOULD take the time to carefully study [again] our booklet and PUT INTO PRACTICE what God is telling you.

Make no mistake! We are ever SO CLOSE to the return of Christ, and Satan knows it. Do you? In his incredible wrath and anger, Satan will VERY SOON bring about the Great Tribulation—leading to a time of such terrible proportions that no one would survive if Christ were not to return. The Great Tribulation is foremost directed against the modern houses of Israel and Judah and especially God’s saints. The Bible clearly shows that another massive martyrdom of the saints will occur at that time (Revelation 6:9-11). But Satanic persecution against God’s people will already begin PRIOR to the Great Tribulation (Mark 13:12-13; Luke 21:16-17)!

As an Evangelist in God’s Church, let me tell you: THAT persecution has clearly begun, and you NEED God’s constant protection, help and HIS armor, if you do not want to fail and fall away from God.

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In this issue, we report on remarkable developments in Austria, Germany and the rest of Europe, which are all linked, to one extent or another, to the ongoing migrant crisis.

We focus on the decision to grant the Charlemagne Prize (Karlspreis) to Pope Francis, even though he did little to deserve the prize which is supposed to be awarded to “personalities and institutions that have rendered outstanding services to the unification of Europe.” This shows, however, the desperate desire of European politicians to get the Catholic Church involved in their efforts to unify Europe, and the Church, according to Pope Francis, must be willing to “play her part in the rebirth of Europe.”

We speak on developments in the UK, including David Cameron’s warning of World War III in case of a Brexit, “Londonistan,” and shocking statistics on hunger in the UK.

We conclude with inconsistent comments by Donald Trump on the national debt; the lack of confidence of Middle Eastern leaders in the Obama Administration; the suspension of Alabama’s top judge for his stance on gay marriages; and a gay rights victory in Catholic Italy.

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Austria’s Migrant Problem

AFP wrote on May 6:

“An Austrian man has been arrested for allegedly placing two pig heads on an Islamic center and mosque being built in the southern city of Graz…

“Last month the interior ministry [of Austria] said there was a 54 percent rise in extremist and racist incidents in 2015, ranging from vandalism and assaults to fanning hatred against foreigners.  Austria took in 90,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, making it the European Union’s second-largest recipient per capita, while around 10 times that number passed through.

“The influx, as well as a number of highly publicized sexual assaults by migrants, has prompted the government to take a harder line on immigration and has boosted the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe). On April 24 FPOe candidate Norbert Hofer came a clear first in the first round of elections for the… post of president with 35 percent of the vote. Bookmakers expect him to win a runoff on May 22.”

Heads Begin to Roll in Austria

The Local wrote on May 9:

Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann is stepping down and will also resign as head of the Social Democrats. He told a press conference on Monday that Austria needed a chancellor whose party stood behind him and that the government needed a new start.

“Faymann’s future looked highly uncertain after his party’s candidate was knocked out of the presidential race and there were disagreements within the party over the migrant crisis, and whether to cooperate with the right-wing Freedom Party…

“Hofer, 45, who presents himself as the friendly and reasonable face of the FPOe, will now face Alexander van der Bellen, a former head of the Greens who came second, in a runoff on May 22. The two hapless candidates from the ruling coalition parties were relegated into distant fourth and fifth places, failing to make it through to the runoff with just 11 percent of the vote each.This historic failure means that for the first time since 1945, there will not be a president from within these two parties in Vienna’s Hofburg palace. This in turn could mean that the new president might make use of some of the considerable powers afforded to the head of state under Austria’s constitution that until now have been not been used.”

Deutsche Welle added on May 9:

“Austrian Werner Faymann has stepped down as chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats… his resignation throws the future of… Austria’s government into question.

“Next to Germany’s Angela Merkel, Faymann was one of the longest ruling leaders in Europe. But his inability to tackle systemic problems caused his downfall. While Social Democratic leaders say his departure will help them rebuild the party, their government coalition partner, the conservative Austrian People’s Party, could decide to change allegiances and side with the far-right Freedom Party and call for a new election. Should that happen, Austria could be the first western European country to elect the first far right government since World War Two. ‘Austria could be the beginning of the return of the right,’ said Alexandra Foederl-Schmid, editor-in-chief of Der Standard. ‘This is a very real possibility.’…

“Austria has been deeply divided over many issues, but perhaps the toughest issue has been how to solve the refugee crisis. Last year, when the wave of migrants turned into a rush, Faymann stood beside Merkel in welcoming those fleeing war. When the country was overwhelmed with 90,000 asylum requests, Faymann, who prided himself on a ‘stable’ governing style, was at a loss for what to do. The party seemed ruderless; he left the policy to governing partner, the People’s Party, which has erected fences, resurrected border controls and announced an upper limit on the number of asylum seekers the country will accept this year…”

A Fence between Austria and Italy?

The Washington Post wrote on May 8:

“Since the days of ancient Rome, conquering armies have traversed the Brenner Pass, a scenic gorge in the Alps connecting the boot of Italy to the heart of Europe. Now, nations to the north fear that this vital passage will become the funnel for a new ‘invasion’ of migrants. A thousand miles away in Greece, the main migrant route into Europe is shutting down amid stricter border controls in the Balkans and a deal with Turkey to stop new arrivals from the Middle East, Africa and beyond. Yet as one door closes, concern is mounting in a host of countries that the poor and desperate may find another way in.

“Claiming that as many as 1 million more migrants are massing in Libya with the aim of crossing into Europe through Italy, the Austrians, for instance, are laying the groundwork for an emergency fence between the jagged Alpine peaks at its Italian border. To stop the feared hordes, the Swiss are threatening to call out the army (yes, Switzerland has an army). The Germans and the French, meanwhile, are joining an effort to extend ‘crisis’ checks already in place at various European Union borders…  Some Austrian politicians are backing a possible fence at the Brenner Pass…

“‘We can’t be the social security for Africa,’ said Rudi Federspiel, a regional leader in the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria from the bordering province of Tirol. ‘Most of these people are Muslims, not Roman Catholics.’ Those migrants already in Austria, he insisted, are causing serious social problems: ‘We have rapes. Rapes in the city. Rapes all over the place. Because [Muslim] men don’t accept women. . . . They are not on the same level’ as Europeans…

“Austria has now adopted a hard line on new migrants. But [Norbert] Hofer has called for even tougher measures, including stricter border controls. He mocked the barrier — a chain-link fence with no barbed wire – that Austria has erected at its border with Slovenia as a ‘garden fence’ with holes in it…”

Most Germans Growing Tired of Merkel and the Two Main Parties

The Local wrote on May 10:

A poll published on Tuesday shows that just under two-thirds of Germans do not want Chancellor Angela Merkel to run for office again in elections next year64 percent responded that she should not. Other polling figures show that if an election were held now, Germany’s two main political parties would barely scrape together 50 percent of the vote between them. In the separate survey conducted by INSA for Bild, the Union – a combination of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) – only polled at 30.5 percent…

“With the Social Democratic Party (SPD) polling at 19.5 percent, that meant that the two parties which make up the ‘grand coalition’ which governs Germany would only win 50 percent of the vote. This figure is a drop of 17 percent on the last national election and would have been unthinkable up until recently… Things have become so bad for the SPD that rumours have been swirling in the media that their leader Sigmar Gabriel plans to stand down. Gabriel has denied the reports… In the poll, the AfD [“Alternative for Germany”] gained support to move up to 15 percent, the Green party stayed at 13 percent, with the Left party at 10 percent…”

Islam No Part of Europe

Breitbart wrote on May 6:

“A new poll has revealed that a large majority of Germans don’t believe Islam is a part of Germany, and many fear Islamisation…

“The poll was conducted to shed light on what many in the public think of the recent debate between the mainstream politicians and the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD)… A few mainstream politicians have conceded to the view of the AfD like Christian Democratic Union parliamentary leader Volker Kauder who said that Muslims belong in Germany but like the AfD he believe[s] that public displays of Islam like minarets should not dominate German skylines and that the calls to prayer should not be heard across all German cities.

 “Eastern Germany, the home of the PEGIDA movement and the region in which the AfD have had their greatest electoral success voted the most consistently against Islam. 65.7 per cent of Eastern Germans polled rejected the idea of a German Islam and among supporters of the AfD the number rose to over 90 per cent.

 “The poll also asked Germans their views and fear of a potential Islamisation of their country. Almost half of those polled  (46 per cent)  think Germany is undergoing, or is at risk of becoming, Islamised…

 “A similar poll was conducted in France earlier this week which saw French from the left and right end of the political spectrum reject the idea of Islam in general, following the Paris and Brussels terror attacks. The poll showed a huge change of attitudes in France compared to the past. In 1989 when a similar poll was conducted around 33 per cent of those surveyed were favourable to new mosques being built compared to now when the number has shrunk to only 13 per cent.

“In Eastern Europe Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban rejected the idea of Islamisation in his country entirely. He said that the constitution of Hungary forbid Islamisation saying it protects Hungary’s culture and language and added, ‘we have the right to choose whom we want and don’t want to live with.’”

Turkey’s Dictatorship with EU Support

On May 11, 2016, Breitbart published an editorial by Geert Wilders, controversial member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV), which is currently by far the biggest party in the Dutch polls.

“Look at every country where Islam is dominant and you will see a total lack of freedom and democracy. Islam and freedom are absolutely incompatible. And yet, we are importing it into our western societies… Take Turkey, for example. Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has never made a secret of his aim to strengthen the powers of Islam…

“Last month, the Turkish President demanded criminal prosecution of German comedian Jan Böhmermann. The latter had ridiculed Erdogan with a critical poem on German television. German Turks began to threaten Böhmermann to such degree that he had to request police protection and go into hiding. At the same time, the German authorities started criminal proceedings against the comedian, based on a 19th century German penal law which forbids insulting the representatives of foreign states.

“The criminal proceedings were started with the explicit consent of German Chancellor Angela Merkel… This week, Erdogan demanded [of] a German court to stop Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of the Springer publishing company, from defending the comedian.

“Fear of violent Turkish immigrants also forced a hamburger restaurant in Cologne to shut down. Its owner, Jörg Tiemann, had put a burger with goat cheese on the menu, calling it ‘the Erdogan burger.’ Erdogan supporters immediately responded with threats against owner and staff, forcing the restaurant to close its doors.

“Then, there is the case of Ebru Umar, a Dutch journalist of Turkish descent. Four weeks ago, she wrote a column criticizing the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam. Following the Böhmermann incident, the Consulate had called on Dutch Turks to report incidents of ‘insults’ against Erdogan in The Netherlands. One week later, while on holiday in the Turkish seaside resort Kusadasi, Umar was arrested and only released on condition that she not leave Turkey…

“Next June, the European Union wants to allow visa free travel for Turks. [Our comment: Actually, the plan was to allow it in July, but according to recent news reports, it may be delayed until at least October.] For decades, the EU elites have been promoting Turkish EU membership, eagerly backed by President Barack Obama and by Hillary Clinton…”

Pope Francis Receives EU’s Charlemagne Prize for “His Contribution to European Unification”

AFP wrote on May 6:

“Pope Francis… urged EU leaders to ‘tear down the walls’ and build a fairer society… ‘Today more than ever, their vision inspires us to build bridges and tear down walls,’ he told a Vatican audience including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been at the centre of the EU’s attempts to resolve its biggest refugee crisis since the war ended in 1945…

“Francis’s comments came in a speech as the 79-year-old pontiff was presented with the EU’s Charlemagne Prize for his contribution to European unification… European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament President Martin Schulz explained the decision to give the award to such a regular and prominent critic of the EU in a column for France’s Le Monde.

“‘Some will joke that the European Union must be in a bad way if it is in need of papal assistance,’ they wrote. ‘We are convinced that Pope Francis deserves this prize, however, simply because he has sent Europe a message of hope… After all, at times when the words ‘Europe’ and ‘crisis’ are often uttered in the same breath it is easy to forget what Europe has achieved and what it is capable of.’”

Deutsche Welle wrote on May 6:

“Since 1950, the Charlemagne Prize (‘Karlspreis’ in German) has been awarded to personalities and institutions that have rendered outstanding services to the unification of Europe. The first winners included former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and longtime German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. On Friday, Pope Francis became the 58th recipient of the award.

“Friday marked only the second time that the prestigious prize was awarded outside of Aachen town hall in western German. In 2004, the accolade was awarded to [severely ill] Pope John Paul II, again in the Vatican, where he received the ‘extraordinary Charlemagne prize’ [for his role in the collapse of Eastern Europe’s communist regimes]…”

On May 5, Deutsche Welle explained the following about the “Karlspreis”:

“The prize is named for Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, the Franconian king – and later Holy Roman Emperor – revered as the ‘Father of Europe.’ Charlemagne created an empire with an efficient administration across what is today western Europe – by means of brutal force and bloody wars like that waged against the pagan Saxons. He built the foundation for a European identity. Aachen was his imperial capital; through the 16th century, this was where German kings were crowned…

While the pope is happy to receive the prize, he isn’t coming to Aachen for the ceremony, so the committee and a throng of European politicians are headed to the Vatican instead. Another novelty: The Prize is traditionally awarded on Ascension Day, but since Pope Francis is busy on this Catholic holiday, the award ceremony is now scheduled to take place in the Sala Regia at the Apostolic Palace a day later, on Friday…

Charlemagne had close, mutually beneficial ties to the Holy See. In Rome on Christmas Day in the year 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Franconian king as the first western European emperor. Just a year earlier, Charles had saved the pope from being toppled by political adversaries. The interdependence between the empire and the papacy was to influence European politics for centuries to come…”

This shows how desperate the European political powers have become that they are willing to seek the help of the pope. Biblical prophecy predicts once again (as had occurred under Charlemagne and subsequent “holy emperors”) a collaboration between the political European powers and the Roman Catholic Church—the fallen woman riding the seven-headed beast (Revelation 17), and a future “beast” working hand in hand with a future “false prophet.”

“The [Catholic] Church Must Play Her Part in the Rebirth of Europe”

On May 6, Zenit published the pope’s address at being awarded the Charlemagne Prize. We are quoting the following excepts:

“In the last century, Europe bore witness to humanity that a new beginning was indeed possible. After years of tragic conflicts, culminating in the most horrific war ever known, there emerged, by God’s grace, something completely new in human history. The ashes of the ruins could not extinguish the ardent hope and the quest of solidarity that inspired the founders of the European project… Europe, so long divided, finally found its true self and began to build its house…

“To the rebirth of a Europe weary, yet still rich in energies and possibilities, the Church can and must play her part. Her task is one with her mission: the proclamation of the Gospel… Only a Church rich in witnesses will be able to bring back the pure water of the Gospel to the roots of Europe…”

Cruxnow.com added on May 6:

“This witness, he said, must also include efforts towards full Christian unity.”

“Brexit Could Trigger World War Three

The Mirror wrote on May 9:

“David Cameron has pleaded for Britain to stay in the EU to help prevent the Continent being ripped apart by another conflict.

“Mr Cameron today highlighted the UK’s role in bringing peace to Europe as he hit the referendum campaign trail… He referred to Britain’s role in ‘pivotal moments in European history: Blenheim, Trafalgar, Waterloo, our country’s heroism in the Great War and, most of all, our lone stand in 1940’. He added: ‘What happens in our neighbourhood matters to Britain. That was true in 1914, 1940, 1989…. and it is true in 2016.’

“And he recalled how Winston Churchill ‘argued passionately for Western Europe to come together, to promote free trade and build institutions which would endure so our continent would never again see such bloodshed’.”

Even though Mr. Cameron’s comments might be viewed as just some more concocted “arguments” to justify staying in the EU, it is undoubtedly true, based on biblical prophecy, that a Brexit would set the stage for World War III—but in ways other than those apparently considered by Mr. Cameron.

“Londonistan”—Give Glory to Allah on London Buses

Breitbart wrote on May 8:

“Britain’s largest Islamic charity says it wants to ‘break down barriers’ and portray Islam positively by launching a new advertising campaign which will slap the phrase ‘glory to Allah’ on the side of London buses. The new campaign by Islamic Relief is, ostensibly, targeted at raising donations for their Ramadan aid to Syria, but is attracting attention for the ‘hundreds’ of buses which will be decorated with the phrase ‘Subhan’Allah’, or ‘Glory to Allah’.

“Muslims reading the advert are told that to “gather the rewards of Ramadan”, they must to donate to Islamic Relief, an organisation which had its accounts with banking giant HSBC closed after ‘concerns that cash for aid could end up with terrorist groups abroad’.

“Public transport has been chosen for the Islamic re-branding in London, Manchester, Leicester, Birmingham, and Bradford – all UK locations with high and growing Muslim populations, reports the Sunday Times.

“That the announcement of the new campaign came the day after London crowned its first Muslim leader, Mayor Sadiq Khan. Islamic Relief called it a ‘nice irony’ that the two events coincided…

“And while the Times omits the background of Islamic Relief in their reporting, they do admit the posters may ‘raise eyebrows’ among Christians in Britain.”

Shocking Statistics about Hunger in the UK

The Guardian wrote on May 7:

“More than 8 million people in Britain live in households that struggle to put enough food on the table, with over half regularly going a whole day without eating, according to estimates of hunger in the UK. One in 10 adults suffered moderate levels of food insecurity in 2014, placing the UK in the bottom half of European countries on hunger measures, below Hungary, Estonia, Slovakia and Malta… hunger in the UK is far more widespread than rising charity food use indicates, according to the analysis of UN data by the Food Foundation thinktank…

“The foundation estimates that 4.7 million people aged over 15 were severely food-insecure, meaning they were [too] poor [to] afford enough food and sometimes went without. A further 3.7 million were classed as moderately food-insecure.

“… a series of other studies have shown that poverty and rising food prices are key drivers not just of food insufficiency but inability to buy healthy food such as fruit and vegetables…

“The European countries with the lowest levels of food insecurity were Sweden (3.1%), Germany (4.3%) and Denmark (4.9%). The highest rates were measured in Lithuania (19.6%), Romania (18.9%) and Greece (17.2%).”

The Bible prophesied that the UK and the USA will be plagued by hunger and famine in these end times.

Trump Considering Defaulting on the National Debt

The Huffington Post wrote on May 6:

“The presumptive GOP nominee has an idea for dealing with American debt and infrastructure… Trump laid out his plan during a CNBC appearance… Interest rates on U.S. debt are very low right now, and have been for years. This makes it a great time for the government to borrow money and spend it on public needs… The economy would grow, boosting tax receipts for the federal government which would make the new debt easy to manage… ‘I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal,’ Trump told CNBC… Another way to describe this plan: ‘I would default on the national debt.’…

“The U.S. government owes $12.8 trillion to the public. The majority of this money is owed to American citizens and businesses…”

Newsmax added on May 8:

“Donald Trump has proposed that he will slash the $19 trillion national debt by persuading creditors to accept less than full payment… ‘What do we do with all of the money that we owe everybody when rates go up and now all of a sudden we have to borrow at two points more. One point more even is devastating. But two, three, four, five points more. It’s a real dilemma,’ he told CNBC. ‘I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal,’ Trump said…
“Experts… told the Times that Trump’s proposal was ‘fanciful,’ saying there was no reason to think America’s creditors would accept anything less than 100 cents on the dollar, regardless of Trump’s deal-making prowess…

“Meanwhile, other prominent financial voices think Trump just may be onto something concerning his debt strategy…”

Several months ago, we considered the possibility that Trump might want to default on the national debt, as one American President did in the past, and as Hitler did as well. The comments in some news outlets that the US NEVER defaulted on their debt is manifestly wrong. Subsequently, Trump reportedly said that one cannot default on the US national debt, as the USA could always print more money. Neither of these inconsistent statements helps in having great confidence in the soundness of Trump’s financial plans regarding the national debt.

Middle Eastern Leaders Seek Help from Russian… Not the USA… Why?

Politico wrote on May 8:

“The United States has significantly more military capability in the Middle East today than Russia—America has 35,000 troops and hundreds of aircraft; the Russians roughly 2,000 troops and, perhaps, 50 aircraft—and yet Middle Eastern leaders are making pilgrimages to Moscow to see Vladimir Putin these days, not rushing to Washington. Two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to see the Russian president, his second trip to Russia since last fall, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia is planning a trip soon. Egypt’s president and other Middle Eastern leaders have also made the trek to see Putin.

“Why is this happening, and why on my trips to the region am I hearing that Arabs and Israelis have pretty much given up on President Barack Obama? Because perceptions matter more than mere power: The Russians are seen as willing to use power to affect the balance of power in the region, and we are not…

“Putin’s worldview is completely at odds with Obama’s. Obama believes in the use of force only in circumstances where our security and homeland might be directly threatened…

But in the Middle East it is Putin’s views on the uses of coercion, including force to achieve political objectives, that appears to be the norm, not the exception—and that is true for our friends as well as adversaries…

“Middle Eastern leaders… realize they need to be talking to the Russians if they are to safeguard their interests… Obama’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia did not alter the perception of American weakness and our reluctance to affect the balance of power in the region. The Arab Gulf states fear growing Iranian strength more than they fear the Islamic State…

“Arabs and Israelis alike are looking to the next administration. They know the Russians are not a force for stability; they count on the United States to play that role…”

But the irony is that even under a new administration, the USA won’t play a role of stability in the Middle East.

Alabama’s Top Judge Suspended in Gay Marriage Dispute

The Associated Press reported on May 7:

“Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice was suspended on Friday as he faces possible removal from the bench for ordering state probate judges not to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, despite contrary rulings by a federal court and the U.S. Supreme Court. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission charged Chief Justice Roy Moore, an outspoken opponent of same-sex unions, with violating the state’s judicial ethics laws, an allegation that could potentially remove him from office…

“The legality of gay marriage had been at the center of a national debate for years until the Supreme Court ruled in June that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement. Despite the ruling and a federal court ruling that made gay marriage legal in Alabama, Moore issued in January an administrative order to state probate judges, ordering them not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to court documents…

“Moore said in a statement that the commission has no authority over administrative orders or the court’s ability to prohibit probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses… Moore wrote in his order that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was at odds with a decision in March 2015 by the Alabama Supreme Court that instructed probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“The conflicting opinions had resulted in ‘confusion and uncertainty,’ Moore said… Until the Alabama Supreme Court decides the matter, probate judges ‘have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license,’ he said… Moore, a Republican, has been a hero of conservative causes before. In 2003, he was removed from office after a federal judge ruled he was placing himself above the law by refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument. He won the chief justice job back in 2012…”

The problem is, once you are actively participating in the judicial system as a judge, you are forced to violate your conscience even if a particular statute or ruling by a higher or the highest court is clearly violating God’s Supreme Law.

Gay Rights Victory in Italy against Catholic Church

CBS News reported on May 11:

“Italy joined the rest of Europe on Wednesday in giving some legal rights to gay couples after a years-long battle and opposition from the Catholic Church to anything that smacked of authorizing gay marriage… Gay rights activists hailed the vote as historic, given that Italy was the last of the European Union’s 28 nations to grant legal recognition to civil unions. But they voiced disappointment that the government had sacrificed a provision to allow gay adoption to ensure passage…

“The Vatican, which holds sway politically and socially in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, maintains that marriage is a lifelong bond between man and woman.

“Premier Matteo Renzi praised the vote as ‘writing another important page for the Italy that we love.’… Italy’s leading Catholic bishop, Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, had criticized the government’s decision to put the bill to a confidence vote to ensure passage, saying it was a ‘loss for everyone.’”

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January 16, 1986–No Further Understanding or Change? (Part 1)

Since you believe that Mr Herbert W Armstrong had the ministerial rank of “apostle,” what is your response to those who believe that there is to be no further understanding or change after he died on January 16th 1986? (Part 1)

It is true that there are those who believe that understanding can only come through an apostle and since there are no apostles alive today, everything that was understood at the time of Mr Armstrong’s death is to remain so and any further understanding is not to be countenanced.   Of course, some have declared themselves to be apostles (and prophets) but self-declaration is not tantamount to unchallenged approval.

We have covered a number of matters via Q&A’s, editorials and member letters and it is worth mentioning these before we start looking at this overall question.

Q&A – Some state that the Church of God must not change any of the teachings established by Herbert W Armstrong prior to his death in 1986.   It is further stated that his doctrinal understanding has the weight of uncanonised Biblical truth.   As a basis for this position, 1 Corinthians 11:1-2 is quoted.   Our answer to this belief is set forth in the following response.    (10th March 2006)

Q&A – Does the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates believe in and practice hierarchical government?

Q&A – The term “Apostle”

Editorial – Why Are We Not All Together?

Editorial – The Mission of the End-Time Elijah

Editorial – Where to Go?

Editorial – Beware of Apostasy in God’s Church

Editorial – Whom God Uses

Editorial – Herbert Armstrong and his Legacy

Editorial -New Truth or New Understanding?

Member Letter – January 2015

One of the misunderstandings that is commonly made by some is when talking about “new knowledge”.   As the editorial above (“New Truth or New Understanding”) clearly shows, it is not new truth but new understanding, as the truth has always been there and it is God who gives understanding of His Word and His Way.

It is also appropriate at this stage to quote from our “Statement of Beliefs” under “Doctrinal Foundation” as follows:

“The major doctrines of the Church are those, which were taught by Herbert W. Armstrong, derived from the Biblical teachings as followed by God’s faithful servants, and originally established by Jesus Christ through the founding of His Church in the time of His chosen early apostles. Since we are to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are committed to review and alter any of our teachings, if and when proven to be wrong by the Bible.”

The first Q&A listed should be re-read as it contains a number of explanations which are vital in understanding this whole question.   However, there are a number of other matters which we will now address.

We read in Ephesians 2:19-22 the following: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

It is clear that the household of God is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.   But the apostles we are reading about are the very ones whom Jesus Christ Himself chose whilst He was on earth.   The apostles’ doctrine is now part of the Bible and any apostles since the canonisation of the Bible cannot alter the original doctrine and understanding. For more information on the issue of canonisation, please read our free booklet, “The Authority of the Bible.” 

Because of the understanding in Ephesians 2:20, the Bible gives us a flawless foundation because Christ was perfect and the New Testament writings by the apostles is truth because only the truth has been preserved. (Please note that Paul wrote additional letters which have not been preserved in the Bible.)

The original apostles were handpicked by Christ for a very special role, not least of which was to record the acts and teachings of Jesus whilst He was here on earth, plus other information about church administration etc., and to make sure that these things were added to the Hebrew Scriptures to deliver to us God’s complete and perfect revelation to mankind.   In 2 Peter 1:13-15, we read: “Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.  Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”

We know that the Roman Catholic church feels that they have the authority to change biblical teachings wherever they deem it necessary to do so.   They have “changed” the 7th day Sabbath to the 1st day of the week (Sunday); they ignore God’s Holy Days and keep paganised holidays (Christmas, Easter etc.) and have long been involved in syncretism  to build their membership.   However, the true Church of God keeps rigidly and faithfully to the Scriptures.   We read in Jude verse 3: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Mr Herbert Armstrong taught the truth from the Bible; truth that may have been hidden or not understood for centuries, but it was always there in the Bible and God revealed it to Mr Armstrong who taught according to Biblical injunction.   He has not added to it nor taken away from it in the sense that he did not proclaim as godly truth “new doctrines” which were not contained in Scripture, and that he did not delete doctrinal truth which was clearly revealed in the Bible. Otherwise he would have been guilty of adding or taking away Scriptures which is condemned (see Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6 and Revelation 22:18-19).

Was Mr Armstrong an apostle in the same way that the 1st century apostles were? The answer is that he was clearly not.

The original apostles were special because they were eye witnesses as we read in 2 Peter 1:16: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

The original apostles were also given power to work miracles.

God put doctrine into His Church through THE apostle (Jesus Christ).   See the Q & A on the term “Apostle”.   Also see Hebrews 3:1-4 where we read: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.”

All theology must confirm to what the original apostles taught.   This was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

The apostleship of the original apostles is unique because of all of these points.   But even they were not infallible—they were human beings who made mistakes. However, their writings, as preserved in the Bible, are infallible. Any writings of subsequent apostles since the book of Revelation and the close of the apostolic era have not been infallible – only God’s Word is – and we must, therefore, always be true only to the Word of God.   We need to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) and not be stuck in a time warp where nothing can be changed after 16th January 1986, otherwise any such growth is stunted.

How many times did we hear Mr Armstrong say: “Don’t believe me. Believe your Bible”?   Did anyone ever hear him repudiate that statement?

Mr Armstrong changed the Church’s understanding on divorce and remarriage when he came more fully to understand this matter.   However, there are some who cling to the old understanding and they don’t believe that that should have been changed.   Pentecost was changed from a Monday to a Sunday when Mr Armstrong came to understand this more fully.

The authority of the apostles enabled their writings, as appropriate, to become part of the written Word of God.   These original apostles were unique in their work and ministry and their written contribution is included as part of the Bible.   Any “apostle” since then does not have the same authority and any of their writings are not part of the Word of God.   One proponent of the “frozen in time” concept has written that “Mystery of the Ages” and other material by Mr Armstrong from that period of time (1978-1985) should be recognised for what they actually are – un-canonised apostolic writings.   We are not quite sure what this means; if it means that the writings of Mr Armstrong may be without any error then they could be on dangerous ground.

(To Be Continued)

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new Member Letter (May 2016) has been written by the ministry. In this letter we review the recent Church Conference along with encouraging reports from Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

In addition, we warn of Satan’s relentless attacks on God’s people as this world faces a time of unprecedented trouble. This letter will be mailed next week along with our newest booklet, “Punishment For Our Sins.”

“Why Would Pope Francis Receive the EU’s Charlemagne Prize?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Pope Francis received this week the prestigious European Charlemagne Prize for “outstanding services to the unification of Europe.” But why? After all, Pope Francis did virtually nothing to promote European unity. Even the leaders of the EU Commission and the EU Parliament recognized that this award could be viewed as a joke. In addition, why are David Cameron’s comments about the possible consequences of a Brexit truly prophetic… even though it is doubtful that Mr. Cameron realized what he was saying?

Können wir uns selbst vergeben?” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. Title in English: “Can We Forgive Ourselves?”

Global Trailer — Are You Already Born Again? This presentation by Pastor Brian Gale is now posted. Here is a summary:

If you are a religious person, have you ever been asked if you have been born again? In fact do you believe that you ARE born again? Is it really that important to understand whether we are only begotten again or already born again? Isn’t all of this just a matter of semantics?

“True Repentance,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

What is the difference between true repentance—godly sorrow in a godly manner—and the sorrow of the world? What are the seven aspects of true repentance, and what is its end result?

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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