Strive for Perfection
Edwin Pope will give the sermon this Sabbath, August 9, from Colorado, where he and his wife Joan are visiting with the brethren. The title of the sermon is, “Strive for Perfection.”
Who are the "Apatheists"?
When we review the approach to religious ideas today, we find a situation which is very tenuous. Christ likened our times to ten virgins, who “took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Five of these virgins, Christ said, “were wise, and five were foolish.” The foolish “took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” The bridegroom, however, delayed His coming, and ALL the virgins “slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:1-5).
This portends a very grave situation for God’s people, today. They “all” slumber and sleep; speaking of the entire Church!
There was a recent article in “the Californian,” which was syndicated by “Knight-Ridder/Tribune,” written by Tom Schaeffer, relating to a term which was coined by Jonathan Rauch. The article speaks to the atheists and agnostics of today, as well as to the “believers.” Mr. Rauch also addressed a new breed, which he referred to as the “apatheists.”
Who are these apatheists? Mr. Rauch wrote an article in the May issue of the “Atlantic Monthly,” where he defined “apatheism” as “a disinclination to care all that much about one’s own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people’s.” He further defined this term as “an attitude, not a belief system.” He also stated, “It’s not that they don’t believe in a higher power. They simply don’t care one way or the other.”
This apathy concerning religion has been increasing in recent years and since the early 1990’s is not an uncommon thing. In fact, we have seen this attitude building in the very Church of God over the past 10 years, which seems to parallel the growth of this idea in society in general.
In the Book of Revelation, chapter 3, verses 15 and 16, speaking to the Laodicean Church, Christ notes “…that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”
It is so easy to look at these Scriptures and ascribe them to “that other group.” However, brethren, this attitude permeates all of God’s people at the end time. That’s why Christ noted that all ten virgins were asleep. It is time for all of us to examine our own personal lives and determine if these Scriptures apply in our personal situations.
We must be honest in this analysis. If this state of apathy, which has been brought into the Church from the world around us, is affecting our personal relationship with God, we must not kid ourselves about it. Christ says that the answer is for such a one to be “zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19). We must not discount this idea. It is the “overcomers” who will rule with Christ in His Kingdom.
This Week in the News
World News Headlines
We are living in terrible and frightening times. The following Current Events section will show the dangerous state of affairs that this world is confronted with. People hope that things will improve — but the reality looks grim. Only God’s intervention in human affairs can bring lasting solutions. Just judge for yourself:
CHANGE IN CALIFORNIA?
As USA Today reported on August 7, “Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a roaring audience on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Wednesday that he’ll run for governor… In the first statewide use of California’s 92-year old recall law, the ballot will have two parts: a yes-or-no on dumping [current governor of California, Gray] Davis and a list of replacement candidates if a majority decides to remove him… Davis, who won re-election last year, saw his popularity plummet as California dealt with a record $38 billion deficit. He has also been scorched by criticism of his handling of the state’s energy crisis in 2001… Schwarzenegger is a moderate Republican who supports ABORTION RIGHTS, GAY RIGHTS, environmental protections and some gun controls… ‘I do not have to bow to any special interests,’ he said. ‘I have plenty of money. No one can pay me off.'”
Der Spiegel Online commented on August 7 that “the Democrats could sink into utter chaos through the coup of the Terminator.” Bild Online stated that “California is in a deep economic crisis… The Democrats are very nervous… Arnie [Arnold Schwarzenegger] would not be the first Hollywood star to become governor of California. Before his time as U.S. President, Ronald Reagan” led California as governor.
CHANGE IN RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US AND GERMANY?
Since Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Austria, the question may be raised whether his good relationship with the Bush family might help to improve Germany’s relationship with the United States. The Washington Post reported on July 18, that German foreign minister Joschka Fischer’s visit in Washington did not materially change the respective positions of the two countries. “On Iraq, Fischer said Germany was ready to contribute to humanitarian efforts, but indicated that his county’s decision not to send troops was unchanged… ‘I think the relevant Security Council Resolution 1483 made it quite clear that the responsibility on the ground is in the hands of the coalition,’ Fischer told reporters… ‘We are not part of the coalition.'”
Italy’s highly controversial Minister President, Silvio Berlusconi, who is also presently chairing the European Parliament, stated in an interview with Bild Online that he, too, would be interested in helping to improve the relationship between the U.S. and Germany. He said that “the relationship between Europe and the U.S.” is “decisive for peace, security and the growth of the West.” He also mentioned that Germans and Italians were in disagreement on some points, but that “we are fundamentally on the same page.” He continued, “Without the ability to defend ourselves, we will not have peace or security. A common European military… is the true guarantee for peace and freedom.” When asked whether Joschka Fischer should become the next foreign minister of Europe, Berlusconi responded, “Fischer is an excellent German foreign minister. Therefore, he is a very logical candidate for the office of spokesman of the European diplomacy. He has competency and idealism – – two gifts that don’t always harmonize with each other.”
Berlusconi has been referred to in the German press as “little Caesar” and “Il Duce.”
SEX CRIMES COVER UP BY VATICAN?
CBSNEWS.com reported on August 7 that “for decades, priests in this country [the USA] abused children in parish after parish while their superiors covered it all up. Now it turns out the orders for this cover up were written in Rome at the highest levels of the Vatican. CBS News Correspondent Vice Gonzales has uncovered a church document kept secret for 40 years. The confidential Vatican document, obtained by CBS News, lays out a church policy that calls for absolute secrecy when it comes to sexual abuse by priests — anyone who speaks out could be thrown out of the church. The policy was written in 1962 by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani… Bishops are instructed to pursue… sexual assault cases committed by a priest “with youths of either sex or with brute animals” “in the most secretive way… restrained by a perpetual silence… and everyone (including the alleged victim)… is to observe the strictest secret, which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office… under the penalty of excommunication.'”
IRAN’S LONG-RANGE MISSILES
WorldNetDaily reported on July 31: “U.S. officials have confirmed claims by Iran that its military has deployed the new Shihab-3 long-range missile with the Islamic shock troops for the first time… The Shihab-3 ballistic missile (Shihab in Farsi means meteor shooting star) is a road-mobile, medium-range missile that travels up to 930 miles… The missile is capable of hitting Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Russia and parts of southern Europe… A Russian military specialist said that Iran likely would have 20 Shihab-3s deployed by 2005.”
SYRIA’S LONG-RANGE MISSILES
WorldNetDaily reported on August 1: “Syria is aiming at least 100 long-range ballistic missiles equipped with VX — the most lethal nerve gas — at central Israel, according to a senior Israeli defense source… German and Israeli sources… have asserted Syria possesses and can weaponize anthrax, botulinum toxin and the toxin ricin.”
IRAQ’S DIRTY BOMBS
The Halifax Herald Limited reported on August 3:
“David Kelly, the British weapons expert at the centre of the Iraq dossier row, had amassed firm evidence to show that Saddam Hussein built and tested a ‘dirty bomb.’ Designed to cause cancer and birth defects, the radiological weapon could have been used by terrorists to create panic and widespread contamination in a crowded city. Kelly, who committed suicide last month, presented evidence of the bomb to the government in 1995… In an interview with The Sunday Times in June, Kelly said the dirty bomb was originally built by Saddam for use against Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war as a tactical weapon and an instrument of terror. He said Iraq still ‘possessed the know-how and the materials to build a radiological weapon.’ The threat was potentially more serious than some other weapons of mass destruction, he said, because Iraq still retained the main ingredients – nuclear material and high explosives… Iraq’s dirty bomb was made from a material called radioactive zirconium which was packed into a bomb casing with high explosives. Iraq had access to zirconium stored at its Al-Tarmiya reactor site – under United Nations safeguards – ostensibly for use in its peaceful nuclear power program.”
On Wednesday, August 6, the mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, led a ceremony in Hiroshima, remembering the 58th anniversary of the city’s devastation through an atomic bomb, according to Der Spiegel Online. In his address, the mayor stated that “all nuclear weapons are fundamentally evil [and] inhuman.” He asked all leaders of countries with nuclear weapons to visit Hiroshima and see for themselves the reality of nuclear war. On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was used in combat. 160,000 people died in Hiroshima as a consequence. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing 70,000 people. World War II ended with the capitulation of Japan on August 15, 1945.
RUSSIA HIT BY METEOR
NETZEITUNG.DE reported that a meteor hit the Siberian desert last September, devastating an area of 100 kilometers. “This gigantic meteor had the explosive force of an atomic bomb,” according to the newspaper.
FURTHER VIOLENCE IN IRAQ
As USA Today reported on August 7, “a powerful car bomb exploded outside the Jordanian Embassy [in Iraq] on Thursday, hurling vehicles in the air and killing at least 11 people, including a woman and two children… More than 50 people were wounded in the blast. Later Thursday, a fierce gunbattle broke out in central Baghdad, wounding at least two U.S. soldiers. The violence followed a firefight the night before in which two American soldiers were killed…[bringing] to 55 the number of U.S. troops killed in combat since May 1.” The newspaper pointed out that “tensions between” Iraq and Jordan “have been high because of Jordan’s support of the U.S.-led war on Iraq.” It also stated, “Shortly after the blast, young Iraqi men stormed the embassy gate and began destroying pictures of Jordanian King Abdullah II and his late father, King Hussein. They were shouting anti-Jordan chants.”
HOMOSEXUALITY IN CHURCH LEADERSHIP
This past week Gene Robinson was confirmed as the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop. Shortly on the heels of the ordination, the same tribunal issued the following statement: “We recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.” This for all intents and purposes endorsed same sex marriages.
MSNBC.com also mentioned that [Archbishop] Akinola, whose church is the largest branch of the Anglican Communion after Great Britain’s, expressed astonishment that U.S. Episcopalians were willing to “turn their back on the clear teaching of the Bible on the matter of human sexuality.”
Many in the U.S. have become blind to Biblical teaching. Some even accused the “conservatives” of character assassination when concise Biblical injunctions were being quoted.
The U.S. has some serious lessons to learn and unfortunately those who do not learn will have a tough road ahead of them. God forsakes us when we forsake Him. For more information, please read, The Great Tribulation and The Day of The Lord.
I noticed that you use the expression, "We must accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior." This expression is used by many Protestant churches, to say that Christ accepts us as we are, without any need on our part to change. I know that you don't teach that, but wouldn't it be better to avoid using the expression to "accept Christ as our personal Savior"?
It is, of course, true that the Bible teaches that we must change, and that Jesus Christ does not accept us “as we are.” Our new booklet, “Baptism — a Requirement for Salvation?” explains in detail that we must repent BEFORE Christ accepts us — and, before we can properly “accept” Him.
The mere fact that some misuse and misapply a certain Biblical term is not enough reason for us not to use it. For instance, many preach a wrong gospel message (compare Galatians 1:6-9), or even a false “Jesus” (compare 2 Corinthians 11:4). This does not mean, however, that God’s Church should therefore refrain from using the terms “gospel” or “Jesus.”
In regard to the expression, “accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior,” the Church has used similar language for a long time (as it has used, of course, the terms “gospel” or “Jesus” for a very long time). As early as 1948, Mr. Armstrong wrote about “our acceptance of [Christ’s] death, burial and resurrection,” and our belief “on Jesus Christ as personal Savior.” (Compare WCG’s old booklet on water baptism, copyrighted 1948, 1954, and 1972, pp. 11 and 15.)
These expressions are Biblical. We understand, of course, that believing on Christ (compare Acts 19:4; Romans 10:14; Philippians 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:16) includes obeying Him (compare Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; John 15:14). Our new booklet on baptism explains this truth in much more detail. We must indeed accept Christ’s sacrifice and Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. At the same time, we must also accept God the Father as our personal Savior, as BOTH deserve that title. Remember, we read in John 3:16 that “God [the Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We are told in several Scriptures that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior. Isaiah 43:3 reads, quoting the “LORD” of the Old Testament — generally a reference to Jesus Christ: “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, YOUR SAVIOR.” Also, we are told in Luke 1:47 that God the Father is our personal Savior. When Mary was told by the angel that she would give birth to Jesus, she stated, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God MY SAVIOR.”
Christ was recognized by the Samaritans as the “Savior of the World” (John 4:42). At the same time, God the Father is called “the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).
In 2 Timothy 1:10, Christ is called “OUR Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” In Titus 1:4, Paul is wishing Titus “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ OUR Savior.”
The Bible conveys the concept that we must ACCEPT Jesus Christ — and what He did and does for us — as our personal Savior. That is, we must accept Christ as the One who died for us individually and personally, and who thereby made possible a way for us to escape death and obtain salvation. Christ died for you and me. The amazing and mind-boggling truth is that if you had been the only person on the face of the earth, and if you had only sinned once, Christ still would have died for you, to offer you salvation. His death is to be understood quite personally. Paul understood it in that way. Although he explained that Christ died for all of us, he also emphasized the very personal sacrifice that Christ brought for him. He stated in Galatians 2:20 that Christ, the Son of God, “loved ME and gave Himself for ME.”
We read in Colossians 2:6 that “as you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” The Revised English Bible, as well as the Luther Bible and the Menge Bible, render this phrase in this way, “Since you have ACCEPTED Christ Jesus AS Lord, live in union with him.”
Before baptism, we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior who was willing, through His sacrifice, to pay on our behalf the death penalty for our sins (compare Romans 6:23). We must also accept Jesus Christ as the One who is now living His life in us. After all, we WILL BE SAVED by Christ living in us. Romans 5:8-10 reads:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we SHALL BE SAVED from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son [by accepting Christ’s sacrifice, the process of our salvation began], much more, having been reconciled, we SHALL BE SAVED BY HIS LIFE.” Christ is willing to live His life in us, but we must follow and be submissive to His lead. Our ultimate salvation will come when we will be changed into Spirit beings.
We read that we “shall be saved” by Christ’s LIFE. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” Both God the Father and Jesus Christ live in a converted person, through the Holy Spirit. Christ told us in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make OUR home with him.” (To learn more about the Biblical teaching that BOTH the Father and the Son live in a converted person, please read our free booklet, “Is God a Trinity?”)
It is therefore appropriate to say that we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, as long as we understand what is conveyed with that meaningful expression.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Our new booklet on baptism is finished and on its way to the printer in the UK. It has been placed on our Webpage, under https://www.eternalgod.org/lit/booklets/baptism.htm.
Our last member letter, which you can find at: https://www.eternalgod.org/lit/letters/brethren-20030805.pdf was sent out this week.
We have placed another StandingWatch program on our Webpage, titled, “The Abomination of Desolation.” Another program will be recorded on Friday and placed on our Web.
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