Update 796


Gambling on Salvation; The Power of Reconciliation (Part 1)

On August 19, 2017, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Gambling on Salvation,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “The Power of Reconciliation” (Part 1).

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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You Shall Not Covet Your Colleague’s Income

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

In July 2017, the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) gave details of their higher earners, those earning over £150,000 a year. They admitted that it had a gender pay problem after their pay list revealed that two-thirds of its highest-paid stars were men. Of the 96 top names earning £150,000 or more, 62 are male and 34 are female.

The Daily Telegraph reported that “The backlash from female presenters has already begun, with one well-known name saying the corporation is stuffed with ‘male “intellectual titans” with egos the size of planets’ who have demanded huge salaries and got them.”

The female response was that they should be paid the same as the men; not one of them suggested that the men’s income should be reduced to their levels!  It never works that way, does it?

I recall, many years ago, in the 1980’s that someone was recruited to the company that I worked for and was paid twice the amount that I was paid, and his region produced about half the business that mine did. It meant, that pro rata, he was being paid almost four times the rate that I was being paid. When I raised this matter, I was told that it was “market forces”, that rate had to be paid to recruit the best people in the business.  Of course, I accepted this as the company paid the salaries and the decision was theirs.  We just got on with it.

I am reminded of the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20.  We read that, early in the morning, the landowner agreed with the labourers on a rate of pay for the day and they went to work with this understanding.  The landowner did this with workers at two other different times of the day and, finally, with another group of workers towards the end of the working day.  They all received the same pay and the first set of workers, who complained about being paid the same as those who were hired late in the day, were told by the landowner that they had agreed with, and accepted, the going rate with him for their labour and they had no grounds for complaint.

We know that this parable has spiritual meaning but I am reflecting on the physical, everyday application in the work place. If this was an approach that employers took today, can you imagine the outrage by the trades unions?

As one writer said about this parable: “We covet what God chooses to give to others. A parable is essentially an elaborate allegory. We are invited to see ourselves in the story, and then apply it to ourselves.”

The outrage of the females who were paid less than the men was based on greed, envy and coveting. If this had not been the case, but just a question of everyone being treated the same financially, then they would surely have suggested reducing the salary of their male counterparts. Where money is concerned, they wanted to take advantage of the pay levels that had been given to others, which showed what they were really concerned about.

There are Scriptures that condemn the attitude of greed, envy and coveting:

Proverbs 15:27:  “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house…”

Proverbs 14:30: “A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.”

Romans 7:7: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’”

Of course, this is clearly laid out in the 10th Commandment which states: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”  And, may I add, “you shall not covet your colleague’s income!”

It is not easy when confronted by such a situation, as I know personally, but it is a necessity for a Church member. As those involved at the BBC don’t understand the Way of God, it is hardly surprising that their first port of call for guidance on this matter was not the Bible but their own innate human nature. This really comes to the fore when money, position and power are at the centre of the argument.

The good news is that we know the Way of God now and, one day, they will too!

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by Norbert Link

We begin with the violent events in Virginia and the appalling action of a murderer which has been described as domestic terrorism. The discussion in the press evolves around responsibility, blaming the deplorable conduct and anti-black and anti-Semitic philosophy of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and hate-filled Ku Klux Klan members, while some, including President Trump, don’t forget to mention the violent militant radical left anti-Fascist movement.

Please view our new StandingWatch program, titled,Charlottesville—Is Condemnation of Trump Justified?”

We also focus on a very controversial attempt by the US Justice Department to undermine individual privacy, liberty and freedom.

Following President Trump’s announcement of potential military action in Venezuela, attention has been drawn to the events in that South-American country, while the looming threat of a nuclear confrontation between America and North Korea has not really diminished. Questions are being raised who, if anybody, would actually support the USA militarily in case of war.

We focus on former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s rehabilitation in Germany, while he continues his dubious role as a high-ranking director of Russia’s largest oil company. As a close friend to Vladimir Putin, he strongly criticizes Donald Trump, as does Angela Merkel’s challenger, Martin Schulz. We also address the anticipated success of Germany’s “far-right” AfD Party in the parliamentary election in September.

We speak on another terror attack in Spain and America’s and Britain’s role as the biggest arms dealers in the world, and address ongoing discussions pertaining to a European army and the future of a “dictatorial” Europe.

We point at Satan’s role in the commitment of capital crimes, and Pope Francis’s correct warning against astrology and fortune telling.

We conclude with two articles dealing with the spread of tropical diseases through mosquitos and aggressive behavior of hornets, wasps and bees in Europe.

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

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Violence in Virginia

Deutsche Welle reported on August 13:

“At least one person died and 19 others were injured when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters at a violence-ridden right-wing rally in Charlottesville in the US State of Virginia on Saturday. Footage showed the car slowing down before accelerating towards the crowd, sending people flying and seemingly crushing one person between two other stationary cars. The silver sedan then reversed away rapidly. Police later arrested a 20-year-old man who was allegedly the driver. He was being charged with multiple offenses including second-degree murder…

“As many as 6,000 protesters, including supporters of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), descended on the university town of Charlottesville on Saturday to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a public park…

“Hundreds of white nationalists marched Friday night on the Charlottesville campus of the University of Virginia, carrying burning torches – a symbol associated with the KKK and its lynchings in the early to mid 20th century… Rally organizer Jason Kessler described Robert E. Lee as a symbol of white people threatened by immigration and ‘ethnic cleansing.’…”

Terrorism by White Supremacists

The Telegraph wrote on August 13:

“Donald Trump… has been criticised by senior Republicans after condemning the hate and bigotry ‘on many sides’ rather than giving an unequivocal condemnation of the neo-nazis who organised the rally… Some critics of Mr Trump argue that his refusal to pin the blame on white supremacists [is] because he fears he could [lose] some of the voters who swept him into power.

“David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, said Mr Trump should remember it was white Americans who propelled him to power, not ‘radical leftists’. [He tweeted on August 12: ‘I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.’]…

“Marco Rubio, the [Republican senator from] Florida… said it was important to hear the president to describe events in Charlottesville as a terror attack by supremacists. Cory Gardner, the Republican senator from Ohio, was equally unequivocal, urging Mr Trump to call evil by its name, describing events in Charlottesville as domestic terrorism. Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, said his brother did not die fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged in the United States. Iowa’s senator, Chuck Grassley, said what white nationalists were doing in Charlottesville was terrorism which should not be tolerated.”

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted on Sunday that there was “no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”

Hatred Against Jews and Blacks

The Times of Israel wrote on August 13:

“Among the 500 white supremacists were men and women bearing signs like… ‘Jews are Satan’s children.’ There were Nazi flags. There were men all in black, T-shirts and slacks and army boots and helmets, jogging along with plastic shields. There were the men who sang of ‘blood and soil’ as they marched to the Emancipation Park event. And when the white supremacists got their act together and gathered in McIntire Park, they shouted ‘Jew’ every time the name of Charlotteville’s Jewish mayor, Michael Signer, was mentioned.

“And of course, the hostility was not confined to Jews: As targets, Jews were not even preeminent; blacks were… Marching along McIntire Road, the white supremacists shouted out the N-word at drivers passing by…”

What About the Fascistic Left?

Breitbart wrote on August 12:

“Originally billed as a protest in favour of free speech — alongside the disdain over the removal of Confederate statues in the city — the ‘alt-right’ rally found itself transformed into a torch-wielding, Nazi-flag waving dereliction of American values… what transpired amounted to a disgusting and unwelcome throwback to segregationist ideas and rhetoric at a time when patriotic conservatism is gaining ground. While many media minutes and deliberations will be afforded to the fascistic right, almost none will be dedicated to the fascistic left

“… it can be said with demonstrable authority that while Republicans and conservatives are very swift to decry extremists claiming to act in the name of their causes, the left do no such thing. In fact, they continue to fund and support antiFa [anti-Fascist] and radical elements in their ranks…”

The Anti-Fascist Movement

Newsweek added on August 13:

“It’s unclear who or how many people are organizing the AntiFa movement. The secretive U.S. effort has been traced to militant leftist movements in Germany, Italy and Spain before World War II… Anti-Fa protesters have been linked to violent protests against the far-right. During Trump’s inauguration, for example, police arrested more than 200 people after protesters dressed in black smashed local windows, set some cars on fire and attacked law enforcement officials on the streets of Washington, D.C…

“The conservative leaning National Review warned its readers about AntiFa protesters in June… The mainstream media has slowly been chronicling the rise of the AntiFa movement…

“In its upcoming September issue, The Atlantic followed AntiFa protesters in Portland, Oregon rallying against fascism and Nazis… It describes the AntiFa movement as violent…”

Violence is deplorable and must be strongly condemned, regardless of whether it originates with the ultra-right or the ultra-left. Compare Psalm 11:5: “The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.”

Donald Trump Defiant

AFP wrote on August 16:

US President Donald Trump sparked another political firestorm Tuesday when he doubled down on his initial response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that ended in bloodshed, saying there was ‘blame on both sides.’ The Republican president — who one day ago solemnly denounced racism and singled out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis as ‘criminals and thugs’ — also hit out at what he called the ‘alt-left’ over the weekend melee…

“In a rowdy exchange with journalists at Trump Tower in New York, Trump made clear on Tuesday that he was fed up with continued questioning about the issue. ‘I think there is blame on both sides,’ Trump said… ‘You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now,’ Trump continued. ‘What about the alt-left that came charging… with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs?…’

“… Trump’s comments were immediately welcomed by David Duke, a former ‘grand wizard’ of the Ku Klux Klan and a key figure at Saturday’s rally… But on the political left, the president’s words were met with indignation. Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, the first black US president, said on Twitter: ‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion.’ Obama’s tweet was the most liked in history, according to the site…

“Trump’s fellow Republicans were also quick to distance themselves from his remarks… And the condemnations also spilled beyond the political realm… After the contentious press conference, the head of the main US labor union, the AFL-CIO, joined several high-powered executives in stepping down from Trump’s manufacturing advisory panel…

“Trump called Fields, who has been charged with second-degree murder, a ‘disgrace to himself, his family and this country.’ But he also said that while there were troublemakers at the rally, there were also many people there ‘to innocently protest and very legally protest’ the removal of a ‘very important statue’ of Confederate general Robert E Lee. ‘I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?’ he said angrily, referring to the fact they owned slaves…”

Deutsche Welle added on August 16:

“German Justice Minister Heiko Maas criticized Trump’s latest response to the violence, saying that there’s no way to relativize anti-Semitism and racism… On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told broadcaster Phoenix that clear action was needed to combat far-right extremism. She noted that Germany had ‘quite a lot to do at home ourselves’ to address a recent rise in anti-Semitism…

“Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida addressed Trump in a six-stage tweet, saying he could not allow white supremacists to share only part of the blame…”

Newsmax added on August 15:

Mitt Romney on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump’s statement ‘both sides’ were responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, Va… Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made similar comments on Twitter…”

Fox News added on August 16:

“President Trump’s renewed claim that ‘both sides’ share blame for the deadly violence at last weekend’s Virginia rally organized by white supremacists has stoked new tensions with congressional Republicans. ‘I don’t understand what’s so hard about this,’ Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, tweeted Tuesday after Trump’s comments. ‘White supremacists and neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn’t be defended.’… Stivers’ comments were noteworthy considering he leads House Republicans’ campaign arm. The internal tensions come as the party is preparing for the 2018 midterm elections

“The White House, though, is not backing down. A memo of talking points obtained by Fox News stated that Trump’s remarks Tuesday in the lobby of Trump Tower were ‘entirely correct — both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.’”

There should be no question that in regard to the incident in Charlottesville, President Trump is correct on many points, even though he is not saying things which are politically correct or “expedient” and which are approved by politicians and the mass media around the world. The US media, anxious to find fault with Donald Trump, is focusing on the extreme violent right, without mentioning the extreme violent left. During the encounter in Charlottesville, masked trouble-makers from the far left were seen on video, with clubs in their hands, and the illegal destruction of the statue of Robert E. Lee by violent anti-right protestors was a disgrace. None of that should have a place in the USA, but in a divided country, violent elements from extreme movements have their field day.

The US Justice Department’s Unconstitutional Fishing Expedition?

The Guardian wrote on August 15:

“The US government is seeking to unmask every person who visited an anti-Trump website in what privacy advocates say is an unconstitutional ‘fishing expedition’ for political dissidents. The warrant appears to be an escalation of the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) campaign against anti-Trump activities, including the harsh prosecution of inauguration day protesters.

“On 17 July, the DoJ served a website-hosting company, DreamHost, with a search warrant for every piece of information it possessed that was related to a website that was used to coordinate protests during Donald Trump’s inauguration. The warrant covers the people who own and operate the site, but also seeks to get the IP addresses of 1.3 million people who visited it, as well as the date and time of their visit and information about what browser or operating system they used.

“The website, www.disruptj20.org, was used to coordinate protests and civil disobedience on 20 January, when Trump was inaugurated. ‘This specific case and this specific warrant are pure prosecutorial overreach by a highly politicized department of justice under [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions,’ said Chris Ghazarian, general counsel for DreamHost. ‘You should be concerned that anyone should be targeted simply for visiting a website.’ The warrant was made public Monday, when DreamHost announced its plans to challenge the government in court. The DoJ declined to comment…”

This action of the DoJ under controversial Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the fact that a judge even issued a search warrant are indeed very troubling developments.

Venezuela in the News

Ever since President Trump threatened military actions against Venezuela last week, the world focuses on both North Korea and Venezuela.

Deutsche Welle wrote on August 12:

“Venezuela faces deadly clashes between security forces and a massive protest movement aimed at ousting President Nicolas Maduro. The unpopular Maduro is backed by the military, the Supreme Court, and the newly established Constitutional Assembly, while the opposition wields the two-thirds majority in the largely sidelined parliament. With the death toll mounting in the impoverished country, several minor military groups have also turned against Maduro and urged their fellow soldiers to side with the opposition…

“Maduro, a former bus driver, succeeded the charismatic populist Hugo Chavez as the president of Venezuela in 2013. He previously served as vice president under Chavez, who personally endorsed him as his political heir before dying of cancer…

“Maduro soon faced protests over raising inflation and the rapidly deteriorating economy. He responded by locking away political opponents and accused the US of plotting to overthrow him

“Venezuela’s inflation continues to climb and the country faces shortages for food, energy, and basic medicine, fueling the anti-government protests. The looting and riots have prompted the Maduro regime to declare a state of emergency. Over 120 people have been killed since the latest anti-government protests erupted in April 2017.

“Throughout the crisis, Maduro repeatedly insisted that he was fighting a US-backed conspiracy against the socialist revolution of his late mentor Chavez. He also accused Washington of driving down the price of oil, prompting the economical downfall in the oil-rich Venezuela…”

The Bible warns us that in the end time, we will hear more and more of wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6).

Who Would Support America in Case of War with North Korea?

Deutsche Welle reported on August 12:

“The world is currently holding its breath… if there were to be a military confrontation [between North Korea and the USA], it would affect the whole international community.

“Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty states that ‘an armed attack against one or more [member states] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.’ However, this is limited by Article Six, which says that this mutual assistance obligation applies only to attacks ‘on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America’ or ‘on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.’ This elaborately formulated clause excludes the island of Guam, as it is too far south…

Support… does not inevitably mean that all the allies would send battleships to the South Pacific if Guam were attacked… As far as Germany is concerned [it is being speculated that it] would provide diplomatic help [but it wouldn’t provide military support… [It is not believed that] Britain would leap to America’s aid if Guam really were to be attacked… as the UK does not have as much of a presence in the western Pacific region as it once did…

Australia has already assured America of its support… Australia is regarded as a reliable partner in military operations: It participated in both the Korean and the Vietnam Wars, and sent relatively high numbers of troops to both. This is also the case with South Korea, which sent the highest number of troops to Vietnam after the United States. However, if the conflict with North Korea were to escalate, the question would not really arise, as South Korea would in any case probably be the country worst affected by North Korean aggression… the Japanese are unlikely to get involved militarily… the United States has sufficient military might to respond to any such military strike without the aid of its European allies…”

We can safely say that Russia or China would not support America either. This means that with the possible exception of Australia and South Korea, the USA would find itself alone.

Deutsche Welle wrote on August 11:

“US President Donald Trump on Friday brushed aside German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s criticism of the increasing tension between the United States and North Korea, saying she did not speak for his country. ‘Let her speak for Germany,’  Trump told reporters in New Jersey when asked about her comments… Merkel had earlier Friday condemned the escalating rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington, saying that Germany’s government believed the conflict could not be solved by military means…

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she had called EU member states to an extraordinary meeting next week to discuss what action to take regarding North Korea…”

North Korea Backs Off Guam Missile-Attack Threat

The Wall Street Journal wrote on August 14:

“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has decided not to launch a threatened missile attack on Guam, Pyongyang’s state media reported on Tuesday, but warned that he could change his mind ‘if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.’… Mr. Trump warned Pyongyang last week that the U.S. military was ‘locked and loaded’ and could engulf the North in ‘fire and fury,’ while North Korea, through its state media, had threatened to fire four missiles in a bid to surround the U.S. territory of Guam in ‘enveloping fire.’…

“Guam is home to two major U.S. military bases. The island is situated roughly 3,800 miles west of Hawaii and 2,100 miles south-southeast of Pyongyang.”

Uncertainty Continuing…

CNN wrote on August 15:

“[The North Korean] State media KCNA… report… appears [to] put the onus to act on Trump, saying Kim would ‘watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.’ The report is assumed to be referring to the US joint military drills with South Korea, known as the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, which are scheduled to start August 21. The annual 10-day military drills antagonize North Korea, as Pyongyang believes they are preparations for an invasion…

“China’s Global Times newspaper, a state-run tabloid, was scathing of South Korea’s decision to proceed with the drills. ‘The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more, and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response,’ it said in an editorial…

“South Korea President Moon Jae-in [pointed] out the US would need its approval before launching any attack on North Korea…”

The Washington Post wrote on August 15:

“North Korea denounced the exercise Monday, warning that even an accident in the midst of it could trigger a nuclear conflict. But the war game also has drawn scrutiny this year from Russia and China, which have suggested canceling the operation to alleviate tensions. The United States has rejected that option, saying the exercise is needed to deter North Korean aggression as Washington seeks peaceful means to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development…”

While all of this is going on, Variety reported on August 14 that “President Donald Trump signed an executive order to give the green light to a potential investigation into unfair Chinese trade practices, including the theft of intellectual property, in a move that may eventually lead to tariffs on some imports. In Beijing, the official state run newspaper, China Daily, said that the move was a ‘rash’ decision. ‘Instead of advancing the United States’ interests, politicizing trade will only acerbate the country’s economic woes, and poison the overall China-U.S. relationship,’ the newspaper said.”

Former German Chancellor Schröder’s Rehabilitation?

The Washington Post wrote on August 12:

“For seven years, Gerhard Schröder was the leader of the most populous democracy in Western Europe. He modernized the country’s social security system, angered George W. Bush by refusing to participate in the invasion of Iraq and was only narrowly ousted in an election defeat to Angela Merkel in 2005. Schröder could have easily spent the rest of his career as an elder statesman, attending summits and writing books. Instead, Schröder — a friend of Vladimir Putin who has defended Moscow’s top man as a ‘flawless democrat’ — opted for a career in the Russian business world.

“Schröder has spent much of the past decade working for the Russian energy industry, serving as a board member of several consortia in which Russian-government-controlled energy company Gazprom is either the majority or sole shareholder. His astonishing career in the Russian energy industry reached new heights this week when the former chancellor was nominated for a position as an independent director on the board of Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company — and one in which the Kremlin also holds a controlling stake. The nomination… was confirmed by a government decree published late on Friday night…

“At a time when Russian business connections among members of Trump administration have come under growing scrutiny, Schröder’s case stands out as the perhaps most blatant example of a Western politician having conflicts of interests when it comes to Moscow…

“Yet, despite his obvious links to the Russian government which are considered embarrassing by many Germans, Schröder has recently made a comeback among Germany’s Social Democrats, or SPD. The former chancellor was applauded by party members during a rare campaign speech at a party convention in June. ‘What happens in the U.S. needs to be openly and harshly criticized,’ said Schröder in the speech, during which he did not mention alleged Russian election interference, the conflict in Ukraine or Russian human rights abuses… he went on to criticize the United States’ ‘monstrous’ political influence, and he urged Germans to ignore Trump’s demands to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense. There was long applause for his remarks, which implied the need to improve relations with Russia…

“Schröder’s rehabilitation also fits in with the traditional patterns of German politics. ‘Germans on the left and the far right have always had a weak spot for Moscow — [perhaps because] the relationship seemed to be on more equal footing than with the U.S. which remains the only superpower,’ said Bierling, the Regensburg international politics professor. ‘If Putin had not invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine, many Germans would see him as a natural ally in times of transatlantic estrangement.’

“Indeed, the current anti-Putin sentiment in Germany might not last forever. With global confidence in the U.S. in free-fall due to the Trump administration’s policies, Schröder and other pro-Russian voices in Germany are finding it easier again to defend Putin, said Bierling and so, too, are many Germans finding it easier to forgive and forget when it comes to their former leader.”

The hate/love relationship between Russia and Germany has deep historical roots, reaching all the way back to the Kaisers and the Tsars. Friendly cooperation was replaced with actions of war, and vice versa. In more recent times, World War II followed the Hitler-Stalin Pact of “non-aggression” in 1939; and the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall separated both countries for many years. Now, with anti-Americanism growing in Germany, a friendly relationship with Russia might be temporarily restored, but the Bible tells us that ultimately, nuclear war will break out between Russia and Europe under German leadership.

Martin Schulz Turns His Ire to Trump

Newsmax wrote on August 13:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief rival, Social Democrat Martin Schulz, slammed U.S. President Donald Trump and said he still stands a chance to win the election despite polls showing him trailing six weeks ahead of the contest. Schulz said he wouldn’t criticize Merkel’s approach to a possible nuclear conflict over North Korea, saying German political parties should stand together.

“Instead, he turned his ire to Trump, saying the U.S. leader was responsible for sowing chaos at home and abroad, referring to a white nationalists’ demonstration in Virginia over the weekend. ‘I certainly won’t exploit a crisis that this completely irresponsible man in the White House has produced, both in the U.S. — take a look at these Nazi demonstrations — as well on the international level,’ Schulz told broadcaster ZDF on Sunday…

“Schulz declined to be drawn out on whether the Social Democrats would agree again to join a Merkel-led government, insisting that he shouldn’t be ruled out as the next chancellor…

We will see.

Germany’s “Far-Right” AfD Third-Largest Party?

The Local wrote on August 15:

“The Alternative for Germany (AfD) have their nose ahead of the other minor parties in Germany, putting them on course to become the third largest party in the Bundestag after September’s election… [A new poll] found that the far-right AfD are on course to win 10 percent of the vote at the September 24th vote. That would put them in third place behind the Social Democrats (SPD) on 25 percent and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) on 37 percent. The far-right party, who were set up in 2013 and have recently built popularity on their staunch criticism of Merkel’s refugee policies, are only just ahead of the competition, though. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) are set to win 9 percent of the vote, as are Die Linke (The Left Party)… The Green party meanwhile lags behind on 7 percent.

“If the AfD were to become the third largest party in the Bundestag it would act as a lightning bolt striking German politics, where conservative votes have been hoovered up by the CDU and their Bavarian sister party the CSU throughout the postwar period. The AfD have caused public outrage on several occasions, with leaders being accused of anti-Semitism, racism and even Nazi sympathies based on comments they have made in public and private.

“But Merkel’s decision to open the country’s borders to refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries proved unpopular with many conservative voters. Meanwhile a string of terrorist attacks and mass sexual assaults in Cologne and other cities during New Year 2015/16 soured the public mood towards asylum seekers, providing the AfD with a string of state election successes in 2016. If the AfD were to win 10 percent of the vote it would complicate coalition building after the election, as all the other parties have ruled out building a coalition with them.

“The two most likely options for a coalition would be a repeat of the current SPD/CDU/CSU alliance, or a so-called Jamaica coalition, which would be made up of the CDU/CSU plus the Greens and the FDP. The creation of a Jamaica coalition would be a historic moment, as it has never been formed on the national level…”

Terrorism in Spain

The Telegraph wrote on August 18:

“Terror returned to the streets of Europe on Thursday when a van ploughed into a crowd of people in Barcelona, killing at least 13 and injuring more than 100 others. Footage of the scene showed dozens of bodies sprawled across the pavement in Las Ramblas, a street popular with tourists. Two men, one Spanish and one Moroccan, were arrested but police said the driver of the van was still at large.

“On the early hours of Friday morning, in the town of Cambrils, 70 miles away, police said they were dealing with a ‘possible terrorist attack’.  Police later said they had killed four terror suspects. One suspect was injured. Police said the suspects were thought to have been plotting a similar attack to Barcelona.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack as Joaquim Forn, Catalonia’s police chief, warned: ‘Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.’”

How Britain Capitalized on the Iraq War With Sales of Weapon

The Guardian wrote on August 12:

“The British government saw Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait as an ‘unparalleled opportunity’ to sell arms to Gulf states, according to recently declassified secret documents… the UK won £6bn of arms deals in 2016 – representing 9% of the global market. Half of the total value was to the Middle East. Over 10 years, the report ranks Britain as the second biggest arms dealer in the world behind the US…”

Britain and the US should be ashamed of themselves… as this is true for all countries which capitalize on the sale of weapons to warring nations.

More Talks on a European Army

Express wrote on August 14:

“GERMANY and France will quickly take great strides towards the militarisation of the European Union now that Britain is set to leave the club, Emmanuel Macron’s former defence advisor has predicted. Fancois Heisbourg, who advised the new French president before his election victory, said… he expected ‘surprising’ developments in the drive to establish greater EU military forces after Angela Merkel’s expected victory in the German general election next month.

“France under Mr Macron is pushing for a significant ratcheting up of European defence integration, including the creation of a multi-billion euro EU defence fund and new military headquarters.”

The Coming Europe—One Sovereign State without Borders?

Express wrote on August 16:

“A panel of experts discussing the current political climate in Poland, told a political discussion show that instability in the nation was caused by the EU’s goal to deprive Europe of its independence.

“Krzysztof Karoń, Polish publicist… said: ‘In March this year the European Commission signed its white paper, which was dubbed the Rome Declaration… It is written in the programme that ‘the first goal is to erase borders dividing Europe into sovereign states’ and that ‘every single undertaking must be verified under this first point’…

“His comments were mirrored by Stanisław Michalkiewicz, a lawyer and political commentator, who tore into the EU by accusing it of being a ‘Fourth Reich’… ‘With the use of European institutions it heads towards the dissolution of countries and nations, but even when that happens, someone will have to steer the European Union.’ Mr Michalkiewicz went on to say that he believed, it is Germany’s goal to take over leadership as the EU’s ‘political director’…”

We read in the book of Revelation that ten European powers will give their authority to a coming charismatic political and military leader—the beast, who will be of German or Austrian descent.

Son of Sam Killer Surrendered to Satan

Time wrote on August 12:

“The ‘Son of Sam’ killer who terrorized New York 40 years ago says he thought he was doing something ‘to appease the devil’… [and] that he ‘surrendered to those very dark forces’ when he killed six people and wounded seven. Thursday was the 40th anniversary of Berkowitz’s Aug. 10, 1977 arrest… The 64-year-old Berkowitz is now a born-again Christian…

“Berkowitz [was asked] what he would say to his 23-year-old self. Berkowitz says he would tell himself to ‘turn around before it’s too late because destruction is coming.’”

Many capital crimes are directly influenced by Satan and his demons, even though most people don’t realize this and scoff at this fact.

Pope Francis Warns against Astrology and Fortune Telling

The website of catholic.org wrote on August 14:

“The August 21 solar eclipse will be visible mostly in the United States, but it’s impact is already being noticed around the world. It’s fueling an interest in astrology and fortune telling… People are flocking to astrologers and fortune tellers to find meaning in the event…

“A solar eclipse is the product of the Moon passing in front of the Sun from the perspective of a person on the surface of the Earth. There is no meaning beyond this.

“Yet, astrologers are enjoying renewed interest in their trade. Scientific experiments have proved that there is no connection between what happens in the heavens to what happens in our daily lives. And fortune tellers have repeatedly been exposed as hoaxes, performing cold readings and other tricks to convince customers they are real. [Our remark: Not all fortune tellers are hoaxes. Some are clearly influenced, if not possessed, by demons.]

The Bible provides a warning against entertaining these deceptive practices. In fact, the Old Testament suggests harsh penalties for people who engage [in] fortune telling… Christians should… shy away from astrology and fortune telling… they are also distractions from what Christians ought to trust, which is Jesus Christ.

“Pope Francis reminded audiences on Sunday when he said, ‘When we do not cling to the Word of the Lord, but consult horoscopes and fortune tellers, we begin to sink.’ Pope Francis connected his comment to the Gospel reading in which Peter began to sink in the water but was saved by Christ. The word of God, Pope Francis said, is ‘like an outstretched rope to cling to in front of the hostile and turbulent waters.’…”

Pope Francis is correct. Astrology, horoscopes and fortune telling are wrong and must be avoided by true Christians.

Tropical Diseases Transported to Europe

The EUObserver wrote on August 9:

“Asian Tiger mosquito and Yellow Fever mosquito species are now present in parts of Europe thanks to warmer temperatures, bringing the risk of tropical diseases with them… Italy saw the first locally acquired case of ‘chikungunya’ in Europe, with over 200 individuals affected. Chikungunya causes fever and severe joint pain that is often debilitating and can vary in duration. There have also been cases of ‘dengue fever’ in France, Madeira, and Croatia. Dengue causes bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and plasma, joint pain, and fever. And the first EU cases of ‘West Nile fever’ were detected in Italy and Romania in 2016…

“It is thought that the invasion of the foreign mosquito species occurred when eggs were contained within bamboo imports to Europe, and in standing water found within imported vehicle tires… European doctors are not familiar enough with the diseases to diagnose them when patients have symptoms. The patient can, due to late or misdiagnosis, become much sicker before the appropriate treatment begins. A further challenge for healthcare systems is that the diseases concerned are transmissible by blood.

“The region of Ravenna, Italy, that saw the Chikungunya outbreak in 2007, suspended blood donations in the affected area to reduce the risk of transmission through blood transfusion… donations of blood by those who have travelled to an endemic region for tropical diseases, like malaria, would be refused for a period of months after their return as a precaution… malaria kills more than half a million victims worldwide every year. Around 40 percent of the world’s population is exposed to this disease, and 250 million cases are reported annually. The growing number of cases in Europe provide important lessons for healthcare systems on how… migration, travel and insect disease factors fit into that picture.”

The Bible speaks of worldwide disease epidemics in the not-too-distant future (Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11).

“Lucifer” Fueling Wasp and Bee Attacks in Europe

 Motherboard wrote on August 12:

“A lethal heat wave is plaguing parts of Europe, and it’s so intense that meteorologists are calling it ‘Lucifer.’ The heat wave is fuelling wildfires, shutting down tourist attractions, and being blamed for causing heart attacks. But as if that isn’t enough, Romanians also have to worry about Lucifer fueling wasp and bee attacks.

“According to local Romanian news sources, seven people swimming in a river were rushed to the hospital this week after being attacked by what eyewitnesses claim were wasps. Three victims reportedly went into anaphylactic shock, and one of them later died. Local sources claim that dozens of other attacks have taken place over the past couple of weeks, including a severe attack on a 19-year-old…

Oriental hornets are notorious for attacking humans… Oriental hornets are a seasonal species—meaning the colony dies off in the winter, and the surviving queen bees start new colonies the following spring. So more queen bees making it through the winter means you can expect more colonies…”

Even wild animals will become more and more hostile towards mankind. Note Revelation 6:8, describing the effects of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse as follows: “And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

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I Am Having Trouble Understanding John 20:20-23: Did Jesus Give the Apostles and the Church the Power to Forgive Sin?

John 20:23 is the specific verse in question:

“‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”

This statement by Jesus firmly establishes the fact that the Church of God is to be administered, but only in the context of God’s laws. Note in verse 21, Jesus states, “‘…As the Father has sent Me, I also send you’” (compare John 17:18). Of Himself, Jesus emphatically stated that His role was to fulfill the Father’s Will:

“‘I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me’” (John 5:30; compare John 5:19; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10).

Likewise, the Church is to act in accordance with the Will of God. Jesus said that only he “‘who does the will of My Father in heaven’” would enter God’s Kingdom (Matthew 7:21). Paul emphasized that Christians must live “doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6). He prayed that the brethren might “be filled with the knowledge of His (God’s) will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). Both Peter (1 Peter 4:2) and John (1 John 2:17) taught that we must do the Will of God.

The fact that Jesus Christ and the apostles did the Will of God is borne out in the written record of the New Testament. What the apostles did provides a clear answer for how they fulfilled the words of Jesus as recorded in John 20:23.

On the Day of Pentecost, note the message that was presented:

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38).

What Peter said was in accordance with God’s Will—it was what Jesus had commissioned (Acts 1:8; Luke 24:46-49). What is critically important to understand is that Peter and the rest of the apostles were given authority to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ and to lay hands on those baptized for the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit. They did not forgive those repenting of sins, but they were guided by God to see in people fruits worthy of repentance and those who did not have them—such as with Simon (Acts 8:18-24). John the Baptist was guided by God as well (Matthew 3:8). But they did not give the Holy Spirit, for this was done by God (Acts 5:32).

In addressing those before him on the Day of Pentecost, Peter said of Jesus that He was “‘…a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs WHICH GOD DID THROUGH HIM in your midst’” (Acts 2:22). Here, again, it should be abundantly clear that the ultimate authority is God!

Peter understood this and testified of God’s power and the role of Jesus Christ when a lame man was healed:

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength…  Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all’” (Acts 3:6-7, 11-16).

When Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter, they died (Acts 5:1-11). To Ananias, Peter said, “‘…You have not lied to men but to God’” (verse 4); to Sapphira, Peter said, “‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things” (verses 9-11).

Peter dealt with the sin of lying and there were consequences; however, it was not he who caused the death of Ananias or Sapphira—it was God. This is a very serious example and reminder to the Church of God concerning our conduct as Christians (compare 1 Peter 4:17).

In the two letters to the Corinthians, Paul addressed a grievous sin being committed and knowingly condoned by others:

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles–that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2).

Paul directed that this person be expelled from the Church, and it was to be done by the authority of Christ. That meant the sin was to be judged based on God’s Law:

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).

Because Paul decisively confronted sin by disfellowshipping the man, the sinning individual repented! In this poignant example, Paul “retained” the man’s sins through applying the Law of God. When there was repentance, the man was “forgiven”:

“This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:6-10).

Whatever action the Church takes in administration is to be done through Jesus Christ (compare Colossians 3:17, 23). That means decisions are to be based on God’s laws and judgments. Note what Jesus promised to His Church:

“‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven’” (Matthew 16:19; also, 18:18; New American Standard Bible).

In a previous Q&A on binding and loosing, which also addressed Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; and John 20:23, we said this:

“In Matthew 18:15-17, Christ had just explained the proper procedure regarding an unrepentant brother or sister. If he or she does not hear ‘the church,’ that is, the ministry, ‘let him be unto THEE as an heathen man and a publican.’ It is the church, through its ministry, which will make the decision to disassociate from such a person. Such a decision involves, of course, a judgment whether or not the person is repentant and whether or not the sins of the person are forgiven. And so, we read in John 20:22-23 (Authorized Version): ‘And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive YE the Holy [Spirit]: Whose soever sins YE remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins YE retain, they are retained.’ …

“Regarding John 20:23, the Ryrie Study Bible states: ‘Since only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:7), the disciples and the Church are here given the authority to declare what God does when a man either accepts or rejects His Son.’ We might also add that Christ had announced to them that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and discernment, and enables especially the ministry, when used correctly, to ascertain whether a person is repentant or not.”

As previous examples have shown, the Church of God is administered by applying what God has commanded—to judge between righteousness and unrighteousness. The objective for doing this is expressly stated:

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

What, then, is sin? Quoting from the Authorized Version:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).

The law that is broken in committing sin is God’s Law! Furthermore, Paul states that “…the law is spiritual” (Romans 7:14). Breaking God’s spiritual Law invokes a spiritual penalty—death (Romans 6:23)—which God, alone–executes. Everyone has broken God’s Law—everyone is guilty of sin (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has lived without sinning (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).

God uses His Church to lead people to repentance of sins. Now, though, and unlike the priestly administration in ancient Israel, because of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, upon true repentance, God will forgive a person’s sins.

It is vital to understand that God expects His Church and His ministry to follow His example of love. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians the second time, he cautioned them “not to be too severe” (2 Corinthians 2:5) in their punishment. The apostle James shows that we must be merciful with one another:

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-29).

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

“How to Find the True Church of God,” our newest booklet, has been sent to the printer.  We anticipate having this booklet ready for distribution to attendees during the Feast of Tabernacles. The mailing of the booklet to our subscribers will occur after the Feast. This publication is now posted on our website.

A new Member Letter (August 2017) has been written and mailed to our subscribers. Also, it is now posted. In this letter, Eric Rank discusses our need to continually use the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to empower our growth in Christian conversion.

“Charlottesville—Is Condemnation of Trump Justified?” is the newest StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

What did really happen on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia? Was President Trump wrong in how he described the events? Did he equate the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists with people like the innocent victim, Heather Heyer, who died at the hands of a murderer? Is the almost universal condemnation of the President’s words justified? What about the violent anti-Fascist movement? And what about the removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee? What does this all mean for the future of our country?

We are deeply saddened to announce the death of long-time member, Michael Bott. We were informed by Pastor Brian Gale that Mr. Bott died Monday evening, August 14, 2017, in a Guernsey hospital. Mr. Bott had experienced failing health for some years.

Der teuflische Zorn des Menschen,” is the title of this week’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “The Devilish Wrath of Man.”

“All the World Is Guilty!” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

The world is blind and deceived. Sin and unrighteousness are prevalent. But why is this the case? Are the people of this world innocent and helpless victims who don’t know any better? Why then does God say that the entire world is guilty in His eyes?

“Prophets, Prophecy and Prophesying,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:

A great deal is said in the Bible about prophets, what they did and the messages they brought. What about today? Do we have any of these people or attributes among us today? What about prophecy in the Bible? Is it something that will continue to unfold, or has all prophecy been completed? What does the Bible show us in these regards?

Here are the dates for the 2017 Fall Holy Days:

Feast of Trumpets—September 21
Day of Atonement—September 30
Feast of Tabernacles—October 5-11
Last Great Day—October 12

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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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God