Complete Confidence

When we are confident in our abilities, it brings about gratification and a sense of accomplishment which in return makes us feel good.  

We can be confident in our various talents; especially, when it leads to good fruit.  When we do well and are successful in a sporting event, or a work project, or a school assignment, or when we have finished a task, whatever it may be, we then have that feeling of achievement. 

Being confident in our conviction should also make us feel at ease; especially, since we know what we believe is the Truth and we have the Bible to back us up. 

Paul had this conviction, and he was confident that he was going to make it by overcoming all the trials he had to endure and that he would receive his crown when Christ would return.  He said in 2 Timothy 4:8: “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  He was absolutely convinced he would succeed as he said in verses 6 and 7: “… the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

When Jesus was on this earth as a man, He could have sinned and was tested repeatedly but He obviously passed the tests and lived a sinless life.  He also had the absolute confidence that He would not sin, as did God the Father, for they knew the crucial role of Christ’s sinlessness to accomplish God’s plan, for the sake of you and me, and all of mankind. 

Just as God the Father and Jesus Christ were confident in their plan, they also have that same confidence in us that we will succeed.  They are convinced that all those whom God calls to eternal salvation in this day and age WILL succeed. He WANTS those whom He calls to salvation to be in His Kingdom— to be in His Family. 

Because Paul knew this, he was certain that the following statement in Philippians 1:3-6 would apply to him as well: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…”

Is this the kind of confidence we have in ourselves, just as Paul did? And for those of us who are called today, do we believe that we WILL make it into His Kingdom?  It takes work, though, and we need to prove to God that we are serious in our obedience to Him so that our confidence is acceptable by fruits worthy of repentance and of the gospel.

“Never Complain, Never Explain”

This phrase is a public relations strategy that has become particularly associated with the British Royal Family. 

Wikipedia states that “The phrase is believed to have originated with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Disraeli. The surgeon and writer Robert Tuttle Morris wrote in his 1915 book Doctors vs. Folks that ‘It is well to follow the rule to “Never complain, never explain.” A man is judged by his character as a whole – not by individual acts.’   The motto became particularly associated with Queen Elizabeth II and was perceived as crucial to the success of her long reign.”

In the UK, as in many countries in the western world, there has been a certain level of free speech allowed although with the advent of political correctness and wokeness, this has been considerably eroded in recent years.  Nevertheless, criticism of the British Royal Family has been permitted unlike the situation in a number of other regimes where any criticism of their royalty or political leaders is simply not tolerated and any infraction can lead to arrest, and even imprisonment.   

In spite of Queen Elizabeth II having an impeccable reputation for her diplomacy and the way she conducted herself in over 70 years as a monarch, there have been those who would want to replace the Royal Family with yet another set of politicians. Such views can be said and written about in the UK without fear of any legal action although such views seem to be held by a small minority. 

For many decades, she was a figure of national pride and a symbol of stability and continuity who was respected around the world.  With the conduct of some of her family before her death in 2022, she must have been grieved with what she saw and heard and yet no one would have known. It can be so easy to become embroiled in argument and debate, and the Royal Family has not been an exception to that in recent years.

The Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest person who ever lived (except, as we know, Jesus Christ): “So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom” (1 Kings 10:23); and “…men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 4:34). No human being other than Christ has surpassed him since then.

Those of us who have been called at this time can learn from biblical examples, and those who set high standards in public life, like the late Queen who, being a God-fearing woman, implemented standards expected of someone in her position.   And the result was, that as the reigning monarch in the UK for over 70 years, no one could ever point an accusing finger in her direction about her life style and behaviour.  She put up and shut up and she never complained and never explained if adverse publicity arose about the Royal Family.   Had she done so, she could have been embroiled in unseemly conduct but her behaviour was impeccable.  She chose her approach early in her reign and stuck steadfastly with that until her death in 2022.

We know that Jesus Christ didn’t argue and debate when He was accused in His last hours before His crucifixion.   He knew, more than any mortal being, that it was neither the time nor the place to do so and that it was foreordained that He was to die for the sins of mankind.   And that was the best example of all!

Solomon gave some brilliant advice as recorded in the Word of God.  I’m sure that the late Queen would have been very familiar with his advice.  Let us look at a few of these wise admonitions:

Proverbs 26:4-5: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

Proverbs 15:1-2: “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”  (Also see verses 7, 23, 28)

Ecclesiastes 3:7: “[There is a] time to keep silence, And a time to speak.”

Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.”

These golden nuggets of information, and there are many more along the same lines, are there to enable us to live a life pleasing in the sight of God.   Like the Queen, we must choose our approach, and the Bible is there to guide us in this matter.

In Matthew 5:16, we see the instruction of Jesus: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

When we, as true Christians, let our light shine, we set the best example of God’s Way of Life which is not seen when we unnecessarily argue and debate with others.

Let us behave as Proverbs 25:11 instructs: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.”

Is Time Running Out?

It seems God’s disciples have always felt that Jesus Christ would return during their lifetime. Today is no exception. But why is it now different than in times past? Or is it?

Christ told us that we should be able to determine the time of the end. And there should be no doubt that we are now living in the last days. World War III is coming—the war which would annihilate all life on earth if Christ was not to return to shorten those days.

Even unconverted people begin to realize more and more that we are now living in unprecedented dangerous times.

Germany’s defense minister Boris Pistorius said recently: “We have about 5-8 years to catch up, in terms of armed forces, industry and society,” to be able to defend against an invading Russian army. In Germany, compulsory military service was suspended in July 2011 after 55 years by the then Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

But Pistorius declared that this was a mistake and that compulsory military service could be reintroduced. The conservative opposition is supporting this concept. For instance, Bavarian leader Markus Söder has spoken out in favor of a return to compulsory military service for at least seven months. Söder also said: “We are talking about implementation over a period of five years at the earliest in order to adapt the necessary structures.”

Many feel that Ukraine has already lost the war with Russia, and the pressure on Ukraine is growing to cede some territory to the Russians in order to bring this war to a close. A Republican-controlled House has not approved Biden’s funding request of $106 billion, which includes $61 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. The feeling is that it is “unlikely” that Ukraine will become victorious against Putin’s forces and push them out, and if the USA stops supporting Ukraine financially and militarily, the war will be over for sure.

It was reported that, according to military experts, Russia would be prepared to launch an attack on Europe about six years after the Ukraine war has ended.

We know from the Bible that a fierce and devastating war will be fought between, on the one hand, Russia and its allies and, on the other hand, Europe under German leadership. We also know that this war will break out 2 ½ years after the Great Tribulation has begun, describing Europe’s war with the USA, the UK and Israel, and about 1 year before Christ’s return.

In this context, the estimated timeline is quite interesting. The number five (or a combination of five’s) appears quite predominately in the above-quoted prognostications. To recall, military conscription ended in Germany after 55 years; allegedly, Germany needs five years to reintroduce it; and it also needs at least five years to be ready militarily to “defend” against Russia.

In the Bible, the number five signifies quite often God’s grace and power (compare our free booklet, Hidden Secrets in the Bible.”)

For instance, following the four worldly kingdoms described in the book of Daniel, the Kingdom of God—the fifth Kingdom—will be established on earth.

The coming war between Russia and Germany does in fact signify God’s grace and power… in that Christ will graciously and powerfully intervene to make an end to man’s misrule and Daniel’s fourth kingdom. He will destroy Russian and European armies which will be determined to fight Him when He and His saints stand on the Mount of Olives.

We also saw that it is proposed that it will take Russia about six years, after the war with Ukraine has ended, to launch its attack on Europe. (In fact, Europe will strike first, and then Russia will retaliate). We say in our above-quoted booklet:

“Number six is the number of a man who is far from God or alienated from Him. The most famous combination of the number six is perhaps the number of the beast in the book of Revelation, namely 666. In the Greek, this number is written as 600 and 60 and 6. This number stands for total separation from God and the unconditional submission to Satan the Devil. Most people will be so deceived that they will worship Satan and his human instruments—the beast and the false prophet—while rejecting the true God and His Law. The sixth commandment forbids murder in all of its different forms (Exodus 20:13), but man, separated from God, thinks that some kinds of murder are permitted, such as killing in war.”

The coming war between Russia and other Far Eastern nations with Europe under German leadership exemplifies clearly man’s total separation from God and man’s willingness to completely destroy all life on earth, and to even fight against Jesus Christ.

We are not saying that these events will in fact occur within five or six years from now. But it is interesting that these numbers are mentioned by people who know little, if anything, about the Bible. Are these mere coincidental estimates, or are they perhaps inspired, in some way, to use those numbers? And if they are inspired, who inspired them?

What we are saying is that the time is short (1 Corinthians 7:29), and that “knowing the time,” “now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11); while “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16; compare Colossians 4:5). We are to watch and to pray always in order to be counted worthy to escape all these things which will surely come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man when He returns (compare Luke 21:36). Let us be mindful of the fact that this “is the last hour” and that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 John 2:18; compare 1 Peter 4:7).  

Small Things

When God intervenes in our lives, it is not always the opening of the Red Sea before us but mostly in small areas and at times totally unaware by us, at least at first.

I was in Penticton for a lung function test at the hospital and afterwards, I went to Walmart to pick up a few things.  As I entered the store, I thought, “I don’t need a basket with the wheels on them since I will only have a few items which I can carry in my arms,” thinking that the coffee I was intending to buy would not be on sale and I would just get a couple of jars, which would be easy to carry with the other few small items I needed. To my complete surprise the coffee was on sale—a savings of over two dollars a jar, so I quickly went and got a rolling basket and put quite a few jars of regular and also decaf coffee in the basket. I also picked up four other items, and as I was walking down the aisle, I thought, “I will not l be able to carry all this so I will have to purchase a bag with handles which are around two dollars to carry the goods to the van.”

As I turned on the passage way to the checkout, there was an employee with a shopping cart full of small boxes. I immediately asked if I could have one to carry my goods in, which she allowed.  At the self-checkout I was surprised that the width of the box was a perfect fit for six jars of coffee, and it was about 4 inches high and everything fit inside and it was easy to carry. When I got to the van, I thanked God for assisting me in getting a box for the goods and how perfectly the jars of coffee fit and even though I had not asked for His help, He provided for my needs and saved me two dollars. 

God knows our every need and is aware of our thoughts and nothing is hidden from Him. If He numbers the hairs of our heads, as Matthew 10:30 says, then He is aware of us in an intimate way, and I thanked Him for that.

Zechariah 4:10 tells us not to despise small things. The indication is to rejoice in them; especially, when He is intervening in those small areas of our lives.

I told the following story before, but it is worth repeating because of the lessons learned from God intervening for us in small areas. 

My son-in-law had been looking at houses in the area in the summer, and I wanted to look at a house myself, so I got on my scooter and went searching. I knew the general area but could not find the house. I thought to myself, “I need a map of Summerland.” Needing to go to the bank, I headed for town. The bank is at the corner of two streets so it offers six or more options as to where to park. As I approached it, I saw a spot alongside the bank, close to the front door. I pulled into the spot, pulled the scooter onto the kickstand and looked down to the ground. To my complete surprise, there was a map of Summerland, undamaged and in good shape. My immediate thought was, “Nice touch, Father.”

God supplied my needs without me asking.

The lesson in all this is that we are going into another calendar year very shortly.  We will face various trials and tests and there will be times when we need intervention. It’s really comforting to know that as God’s children, He cares for us, watches over us and at times fulfills our needs before we even ask.

Matthew 6:8 tells us:  “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”

We must never lose sight of this important fact because as a loving Father, He is looking after us, and also our needs, and even more. It says in Luke 12:32: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

What more could we ask for?

“My People”

The Book of Revelation is written specifically to the Church of God (Revelation 1:1). Jesus Christ addresses the Church with messages that apply to seven distinct eras of the Church (Revelation 2 & 3). While much is historical, there are also key warnings for the Church of God during the time of the end of this age—both contemporary and prophetic.

The Book of Revelation also describes cataclysmic world events leading to God’s intervention and the return of Jesus Christ. Very few people truly understand the meaning of today’s news in the light of biblical prophecy. It seems that fewer yet are preparing for what is coming.

The Apostle Paul wrote to remind the Church of the example of those whom Moses led, but who refused to obey God and were destroyed:

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

Paul wrote this to the Church of God some two-thousand years ago. Was he wrong to warn Christians about events which still lay far into the future? Quite the contrary, for each one whom God has called must be found worthy to enter the Kingdom of God—regardless of when they live!

Paul writes about the role of love—putting it in the context of how to prepare for and be ready for the return of Jesus:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14).

We need to understand who we are from God’s viewpoint:

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Do we really believe that this is who we are? Do we really believe that we are living in the time of the end of the age? 

If we do, then let’s pay close attention to what God tells us about the time and the society in which we are living and what we should be doing:

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues’” (Revelation 18:4).

Pinecones and Faith

During the fall months of the year, my wife Shelly and I are tasked with collecting pinecones from the lawn. The cones can make mowing up the leaves more difficult, and so we get to work. The pinecone is a seed-bearing organ that is woody and has signature scales. These scales are arranged as a protective umbrella that close, when necessary, to protect the tender seeds, and open when the time comes for the seeds to take to the breeze to find hospitable soil. As children, my friends and I would pretend that the cones were mini-American-style footballs and play epic games.

Pinecones are yet another example of God’s perfect design. They have a purpose and are a beautiful reminder of the growth that occurs for all of God’s creations. God created trees of all kinds for their beauty, shade, and the wood as a resource for construction and for heating, and more. My point is that the pinecone nurtures the seeds, and, over time, enables them to mature.

When we moved to our town years ago, Shelly and I wanted to contribute to the community. We did not have a lot of money to donate, but we met with a colleague of mine who ran a community foundation. She described a fund that we could contribute to—we would give a specific amount each year for ten years and could then help guide the uses of the fund that grew with our contributions and the interest from investment earnings. The foundation referred to these as Pinecone Funds because they are protected and grow over time.

We appreciated the idea that something modest could be nurtured and become significant. Turning to Scripture for a powerful analogy, Philippians 1:9 reads: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” Paul wrote this to the Church at Philippi, a former gold-mining area, to counter what he saw as a growing problem of disunity among Church members. He wanted the Church to continue to grow and the members to focus on the mind of Christ. Paul believed that this was the only way to address the divisive nature of humans and have the Church thrive. 

We know that Jesus Christ was and is not limited in any way. In Matthew 17, we read the account of Jesus, Peter, James, and John encountering a crowd. A man came to Jesus and fell to His knees and begged Him to heal his son and drive out the demon that possessed him. The three apostles were troubled that they had previously been unable to drive out the demon. They asked Jesus about this, and we see His response in Matthew 17:20: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”

Faith as small as a seed, and yet with the power to move a mountain. Imagine then what we can do when we focus on the mind of Christ and increasingly discern His power and majesty. As carnal beings, we cannot compel ourselves to follow God—we must first be drawn by Him and, through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we, as true Christians, can begin to grow if we obey and follow His commandments.

The key therefore to growing in faith is to obey God and study the Bible to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of God and His Son through the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11:1, we read: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Let’s continue reading in verses 2 and 3: “For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

Let’s reinforce this and consider the following biblical examples of the power of faith as the enduring foundation of our lives. In Hebrews 11:7-12, we read:

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”

Much like the pinecone releasing its charge to the soil, as true Christians, we must nurture our faith through our obedience to God and His Son, sincere prayer, and our study of the Scriptures.

I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus Christ who perfectly captured the importance of our working to perfect our faith. Let’s read John 20:29: “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” This is a glimpse into the mind of Jesus and the importance He places on faith.

To Have Fervent Love

In the New Testament, two of the Church leaders, Peter and Paul, spoke about the same attribute that Christians need in their lives. They encouraged everyone to have love for each other.  It is easy to say, “yes, I have love,” but do we really show love in our actions?

The first Scripture that I want to use is found in 1 Peter 4:7-9: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.“

Peter’s encouragement for us is to be aware that, as we draw closer to the end of this age, there are going to be more opportunities for each of us to show love for one another. But not just love, but fervent love! The word “fervent” can mean, “having or displaying a passionate intensity”—like a fire: hot and burning. Being on fire for showing love is a proper way to think about it. In the letter to Titus, Paul iterates it in a different way but with the same meaning, saying in Titus 2:14 about Christ “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

Our use of love in a Godly sense means that we need to be going above and beyond in our love for each other—in prayer, in deeds, in actions, and in our thoughts. We need to be thinking about HOW we can show love more fully. Christ’s warning in the book of Matthew comes to mind where we are warned that as this world grows darker, there is a real danger that the love of true Christians will grow cold; that it will no longer be fervent and zealous (Matthew 24:12).

In what ways can we allow this fervent love for each other to become manifest? We bring this love to fruition by looking for opportunities and then taking action. This is going to be different for each person—but make no mistake: when we take the opportunity to show this love, the immediate impact may be unknown; and yet, it will have lingering effects. In every relationship that we have in this life, the most powerful thing is love. With Godly agape love, we are fulfilling God’s law.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul writes under inspiration about how this love of God should be manifesting itself. This love is not for us—it is for the people around us. When I review these words from Paul, it becomes apparent how I fail in regard to having these actions show up in every situation. And yet, the opportunities to show and prove this Godly love are there, but we have to take advantage of these opportunities.

These actions of love encourage and help people to deal with life. The life that we each live now is not an easy life, and it will get harder. The challenge for each of us is to grasp that each person, Christian or not, is dealing with the effects of sin. This whole world is under the subjection of Satan and his demons.

We are truly living in the most challenging of times.

This is why I find the following Scriptures encouraging.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says in the New International Version: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

From our children to our elders, we are to be encouraging—and building one another up. It is so much more powerful to show encouragement and solidarity in love than it is in finding fault and tearing each other down. It is so easy to find fault and to tear into people for their wrong doings or failures—but in the long run, we ourselves have just as much failure. There is a common idiom: Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. This means, before judging someone, we must understand their experiences, challenges, thought processes, etc. It is no easy thing to do. Another idiom is: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

As we spend time and meditate on our opportunities for love, we should realize that God the Father and Jesus Christ show us the ultimate love. We are so blessed to have their example.

1 Peter 2:4-5 tells us: “Coming to Christ as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

This Scripture, paired with 1 Thessalonians 5:11, is very powerful: We are precious in God’s sight. We are worthy of love because He deems it so. And it is because of this knowledge that we can grow in our love for each other and for the God Family.

You Must Stay Strong…

These words, “You have to stay strong”, can easily be uttered by outsiders, when the affected person is clearly suffering under certain circumstances.

One might try to strengthen the other person with these words, but whether that alone will help is debatable. And sometimes, I come across people who simply ask, “How are you?” as they walk by, and without paying any attention to my response, they either do not reply at all or just say, “…then take care”.

The world has become very short-lived in its actions, and nobody seems to have any honest care for their neighbor. Society in my neighborhood has changed a lot for the worse, and I would even say that this applies to the whole world.

Not only have people become very superficial and almost everyone thinks only of themselves, but also antisemitism has returned in the most brutal way all over the world. I would argue that antisemitism never went away, it just, for a brief period, didn’t manifest itself to the outside world, and sadly, this condition only lasted for a generation. The words, “We must never forget,” are of no special value.

For true Christians, it is not difficult to recognize that this world is ruled by none other than Satan, who is also called the Devil, the dragon, and the old serpent.

Personally, I have never heard so many war reports in my entire life as these days, and I have to admit that it makes me, as well as certainly others, sad, angry and worried, when I think about it or see or hear about it in the media – but then again, I am also at the same time hopeful in anticipation of the coming of Christ, that it will happen soon after all. It’s all like a merry-go-round of emotions.

And then I ask myself: “Am I even ready for the coming of Christ? And how will I then stand before Him? Will I even be worthy before Him? Will I fail miserably by then or will I remain strong in this last dramatic time?”

We could very well face terrible wars, persecution, betrayal of our own brothers and sisters, and even persecution from our own family. And we must constantly remind ourselves that Jesus Christ pointed out the following to us in the Bible:

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8).

These are precisely the times we are currently experiencing; nevertheless, it is not yet the end, but the beginning of sorrows. And then, Christ said:

“‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13).

This message from Christ does not seem to point to a rosy future. One factor or another can cause somebody to lose their balance completely, so they may run out of inner strength and fail miserably. Many will have to go through a terrible and merciless tribulation after falling away from the Truth. Some will be able to come out of this tribulation, as Christ tells us; but others may indeed fail and even end up fighting a hateful and murderous battle against God until their ultimate bitter destruction.

We read in Revelation 7:4-9 that of all the tribes of Israel, 144,000 will come out of this tribulation and will be sealed, as well as a great multitude which no one could number. But then we also read in Revelation 16:9-11 about people filled with hate who blaspheme God despite great plagues and pain.

It must be absolutely clear to us: “But he who endures [and stays strong] to the end shall be saved.”

But we cannot do this by our own strength, as we have already learned from the Word of God. We need God’s power, His help and strength. This can only be achieved through prayer, Bible study and thinking about what we have read, occasional fasting and strong faith without any doubts. And we must be there with and for each other, for we all have one faith, one hope, one confidence, one love, one Lord, one God and one Spirit of power in us.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote the following words, which also have great significance for us today:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit [which] dwells in us” (2 Timothy 1:7-14).

All in all, this means for each and every one of us: “You must stay strong!”

Initial translation: Daniel Blasinger

Arbitrary Ethics

I took an introductory course in Philosophy when I was in my first semester of college. While I don’t remember a lot of what I learned at that time, I do recall our discussions about various theories of morality. Utilitarianism is one such theory that measures whether an action is right or wrong on a continuum of how much happiness it would produce. According to this theory, the most virtuous actions are the ones that produce the most happiness and least unhappiness. In a purely carnal sense, it sounds appealing. But it is troublesome to consider that there is no standard by which an action could be viewed as being right in an absolute sense. Morality is judged purely based on the arbitrary whim of humanly defined happiness produced in the individuals affected. This bothered me then, and it bothers me now. I never cared to take any additional courses in the field of ethics because to me it seemed that it was all baseless rhetoric.

Today we see the dominant ethics in our society disturbingly driven by what man judges is right, without any regard to an authoritative standard. Modern society wants to do what it wants, and condemns anyone who says that an action is wrong. As such, abortion, stealing, lying, and perversions of all sorts are confoundingly celebrated by so many. The ethics of mankind today seem to be based only upon hedonistic, self-serving desire. I find this quite disturbing.

We know from the pages of the Bible that behaving without the guidance of God’s immutable standard of law will lead to a disastrous outcome. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6). A sinful practice of life is one that ignores God’s commandments, choosing instead to be directed by personal desire. By way of contrast, living a righteous Way of Life requires learning and practicing obedience to God’s laws. But the carnal nature of people fights against this standard. Carnal desire is at enmity with God (compare Romans 8:7). Therefore, without God to set the standard of ethics, people are doomed to perish!

It’s unfortunate that such a simple Truth is so undesirable to man. Ironically, rates of depression and suicide are so high, yet people don’t consider whether their code of ethics based on maximizing carnal pleasure might be the root cause. The answer for how to make a correction is simple. God makes the path to joy, prosperity and success very clear: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Not only does obedience to God’s law lead to righteousness, it also leads to a truly happy life. Many of us who have decided to try this out have proven it to ourselves. God’s Way works.

We are privileged to know that God establishes the true standard by which we can discern between actions that are right and wrong. We don’t have to worry about figuring it out for ourselves or debating with our peers. We can be satisfied in knowing that the Truth was established long ago, and that it works then, now, and forever. “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth” (Psalm 119:142). The world around us might be lost, but we have a perfect standard to live by.

What Happened to Truth

This is an interesting question that has been answered in Isaiah 59:14-15. “…For truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” From this it seems that truth can be difficult to find.

We note that at this current time, three words that were used very rarely or even unknown previously have come into prominence. They are all concerned in some way with truth or lies, more often with lies and deception.

These words are “misinformation, disinformation and malinformation.” Misinformation has the meaning of false information, but the person using it believes it is true. In this case there is not necessarily any malice. Disinformation has the meaning of false information that the person using it knows it to be false. It is a deliberate lie, usually with malice. The third word, malinformation, is based on truth but can be used to inflict harm on a person, organisation or country. Malinformation can also apply to a truth that an organization or government does not want revealed.

Of these three words, the one that was used in the past was disinformation, especially in the Soviet Union, in order to discredit political opponents with the intended result of their ineffectiveness or destruction.

Of these three words, none are directly used in the Bible, but the actions they engender are used. The most prominent one being disinformation. We first encounter this when Satan deceived Eve by telling her that if she ate the forbidden fruit, she would not surely die (Refer to Genesis 3:4). As we read about Satan in John 8:44, last part, “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, God gives us warnings of false prophets. In the Old Testament, God’s warnings were so strong that a false prophet who turns people away from God was to be put to death. (Refer Deuteronomy to 13:5). In the New Testament, Christ warns us against false prophets in Matthew 7:15. These false prophets were and are using disinformation as an attempt to deceive God’s people. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 informs us that Satan’s ministers were and are transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness, and that they would receive the appropriate outcome. Their intention again was and is to deceive.

A very pertinent example of disinformation was when a lying spirit was put in the mouths of all of Ahab’s prophets, who encouraged him to go to battle so as to obtain victory. This lie resulted in the death of Ahab, the king of Israel. Refer to 2 Chronicles 18:19-34.

An example of malinformation happened when Satan tempted Christ. In Luke 4:9-11 we read, “Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You,” and, ‘In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash your foot against a stone.”’” While the quote was accurate, its purpose was to cause Christ to sin. Hence it was malinformation.

As for misinformation, there are examples of probable misinformation in the epistles. In 1 Corinthians 15:12 we read, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?” This example shows that some members in the Church at Corinth were teaching that there was no resurrection. If they believed that then they were teaching misinformation.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, we are warned, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.” This would appear to be misinformation. However, if members were claiming that this information was from the true ministers of God, then this would be deliberate disinformation.

So, we have many warnings in the Bible about being deceived, either mistakenly or deliberately. We are also aware that Satan deceives the whole world (Refer to Revelation 12:9). So, we must be well aware of the contents, examples and warnings in the Bible and trust those who have proven to have been faithful in transmitting God’s truth to us over the years. In this way, we will not be deceived by misinformation, disinformation or malinformation. We will understand what truth is, and for us, it will be a part of our lives, remembering that Christ said, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

So, while truth has fallen in the street for the vast majority of people, it will not be so for us. We will know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:32).

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