Is "The Truth" Important
On Saturday, May 15, 2004, Edwin Pope will be giving the sermon, titled, “Is ‘The Truth’ Important?”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
How Do You Grow?
by Norbert Link
The Bible contains many statements about growth. Jacob prophesied that Joseph’s descendants, Ephraim and Manasseh, would “grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:16). And indeed, they became the most powerful nation and group of nations in modern history. On a spiritual plane, God’s kingdom is compared with a “mustard seed” which, “when it is grown,” is greater than the herbs “and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and rest in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32). John the Baptist “grew and became strong in the spirit” (Luke 1:80). Even Christ, the God of the Old Testament, when He became a human being, “grew and became strong in the spirit, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40), and He “increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
The early New Testament Church started very small, but it, too, grew (Acts 2:41). We read that in time, the word of God “grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24; compare Acts 19:20).
God told His disciples that they must GROW spiritually. 2 Peter 3:18 commands us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:2 encourages us to “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” Paul said about the church of the Thessalonians that “your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Ephesians 2:21 tells us that God’s Church, “the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple of the Lord.” And so, we read in Ephesians 4:11-15 that Christ 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 the 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; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP in all things into Him who is the head — Christ…”
As Christians, we must never stop growing. We are to grow toward our ultimate perfection, as God is perfect. As we read in Philippians 3:15-16, in the Authorized Version: “Let us therefore, as many as be [or: to the extent that they are] perfect [the New King James Bible says: mature], be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” We are not to forsake what we have already accomplished in our lives. There must never come a point in time, however, when we say, “We will grow no further.” With that attitude, we will not only stop growing in God’s Way of Life, but we will, in fact, go backwards and return to whatever we left behind.
Sadly, some, if not many, have done so, and many will still do so, before Christ returns. Paul spoke about Demas, one of his co-workers (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24), that he “has forsaken me, having loved this present world and has departed for Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10). Rather than overcoming evil with good, he returned to the evil of this world. Christ prophesied for our time: “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” (Matthew 24:10-12). The Greek word for “love” is “agape,” describing the love of God. Rather than growing in God’s love, which would lead to their ultimate perfection (1 John 4:12, 17-18), they stop using it, and so they reverse in their lives the process of godly growth — so much so, that they return to, and begin to live again in accordance with the customs of Satan’s world of hate and betrayal (compare 2 Peter 2:20-22). We are clearly told that in these last days, the work of “evil men and imposters will GROW worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).
We must not stagnate, but grow. However, we must grow in a right and godly way! If we cease growing in God’s wisdom and knowledge, we will grow in the wisdom of this world, which is inspired by Satan’s evil schemes and devices. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, both God’s disciples and Satan’s followers “grow together until the harvest” (Matthew 13:30). Grow we will — but the question is, in what way?
How do YOU grow?
This Week in the News
The most recent developments involving the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, as well as the terrible murders and “executions” of American civilians and soldiers in Iraq, are shocking and appalling without description. Many newspapers, magazines and newscasts present in graphic detail the horrible crimes committed. Although the reason for the world’s condemnation of these atrocities might not be fully comprehended without the total and full knowledge of the specifics, we felt that it could not be the task of God’s church, to pass on those terrible atrocities, although we would be delinquent in our duty, if we were to fail to show how these events have deepened anti-Americanism in the world, in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. In regard to the specifics, let it suffice to quote the principle, as set forth in Ephesians 5:11-12: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose [reprove] them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”
TORTURE IN IRAQ WIDE-SPREAD?
Reuters reported on May 7, 2004, that “The Red Cross discovered ‘serious violations’ of the rights of Iraqi prisoners, with abuse so widespread it may be considered to have been tolerated by the U.S.-led coalition, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday. In a confidential 24-page document, which was seen by the financial newspaper, the International Committee of the Red Cross said treatment in some cases was ‘tantamount to torture,’ particularly when interrogators were seeking information or confessions.”
Reuters continued: “The use of ill-treatment ‘went beyond exceptional cases and might be considered a practice tolerated’ by coalition forces, the newspaper quoted the ICRC as saying. That differs sharply from the view of senior officials in the administration of President Bush that military higher-ups had not condoned abuse, the newspaper said… Three former military policemen at the prison told Reuters on Thursday that abuse was commonplace.”
WAS TORTURE PART OF STRATEGY?
On Saturday, May 8, 2004, the British newspaper, “The Guardian,” claimed that “the sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison [the same prison formerly used by Saddam Hussein to torture prisoners] was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources. The techniques devised in the system, called R2I – resistance to interrogation – match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.
“One former British special forces officer… said British and US military intelligence soldiers were trained in these techniques, which were taught at the joint services interrogation centre in Ashford, Kent, now transferred to the former US base at Chicksands. [A method used in the Iraqi prison] is one of the methods taught on both sides of the Atlantic under the slogan ‘prolong the shock of capture’, he said… ‘[The] whole experience is horrible. Two of my colleagues couldn’t cope with the training at the time. One walked out saying “I’ve had enough”, and the other had a breakdown. It’s exceedingly disturbing.'”
The Austrian “News Networld” Webpage claimed on May 8, 2004, that, according to a written report by Major General Antonio Taguba, issued to the US Military Investigation Committee, the terrible acts which were described in detail were part of a strategy by the U.S. Secret Service and perhaps the CIA, to intimidate prisoners to make them more cooperative. Taguba’s report speaks of “the Secret Service and other U.S. agencies.” News Networld claims that the term “other U.S. agencies,” identifies, in a military context, the CIA. Subsequently, Taguba testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, stating that the atrocities were NOT committed “pursuant to a policy.” He pointed out that it “involved only a hand full” of perpetrators, although he also testified that “there were others, but we could not track them down.” He stated that there were no “classified terrorists” in the prisons under investigation.
Major General Antonio M. Taguba’s entire lengthy report was posted on the website of MSNBC. Taguba’s report included the following conclusion: “Several US Army Soldiers have committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law at AbuGharib/BCCF and Camp Bucca, Iraq. Furthermore, key senior leaders in both the 800th MP Brigade and the 205th MI Brigade failed to comply with established regulations, policies, and command directives in preventing detainee abuses [at those prisons] during the period August 2003 to February 2004.”
AFP reported on May 12, 2004 that “The White House rejected any link between the abuse of Iraqi detainees by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and the ‘brutal, barbaric’ [video-taped murder] of [a] US citizen by terrorists.” U.S. governmental spokesman Scott McClellan “rejected their [terrorists’] claim that they were avenging the mistreatment at the facility near Baghdad.” He continued to say, according to the article: “There simply is no justification for the deliberate and brutal killing of an innocent civilian… The brutal barbaric action of these terrorists shows their true nature.”
AFP added: “Reaction in Baghdad to the slaying was mixed. ‘As Muslims we can’t accept it, but we don’t blame them. It was a natural reaction to the human rights violations we have seen at Abu Ghraib. What the Americans are doing now is terrible,’ said a 45-year-old woman dentist. ‘Since the men came here to do something good for Iraq, it was shameful. Whoever comes to serve this country will be treated kindly by Iraqis, but I blame the Americans for being behind such activities,’ said restaurant worker Falah Faisal, 30.”
THE EFFECT OF WAR!
On May 7, 2004, ABC News published an insightful article, discussing the horrible effects of war. The facts presented in this article should be persuasive, all by themselves, to convince a true Christian that he must not be a participant in war, nor in the preparation of war. The article stated:
“The specifics of the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq remain to be sorted out. But the answer seems apparent for experts in the psychology of war and other mental health professionals contacted by ABC NEWS — such behavior is not uncommon in a time of military conflict and the potential to abuse others may lie in all of us. ‘In war, things do happen, often from emotion of the moment, exhaustion, frustration — a buddy killed, a unit hurt,’ maintains Samuel Watson, a former infantry officer in the Vietnam War who is now associate professor of public health at University of Pittsburgh… And Dr. Carlyle Chan, professor of psychiatry at Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, says prisoner abuse is probably more prevalent than we would like to believe, given the trauma soldiers can experience.”
The article continued to ask: “What drives soldiers to abuse others in time of war? The key, believe these experts, is ‘the MILITARY CULTURE’ the soldiers and guards were immersed in.
“In war, ‘the enemy is not represented as a similar human being to oneself, but rather as a brute who is savage and single-minded in destructive intentions,’ says Rona M. Fields, director for cognitive sciences at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. This depersonalization, explains Evans, is a psychological defense against the horrible events soldiers witness during war. But once the enemy is seen as LESS THAN HUMAN, it can be easy to treat them accordingly.
“Another motivation for U.S. soldiers to mistreat Iraqi prisoners may have been simple RETALIATION, suggests Dr. Paul Ragan, a Navy psychiatrist during Desert Storm and now associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. ‘The emotional center of the brain, or the limbic system, wants to strike back…'”
ABC News asked this question: “But what if the leadership itself is commanding soldiers to behave in abusive ways? Would normal individuals be willing to follow morally abhorrent orders?”
The history of man has proven that the answer, tragically, is affirmative. Nazis, working at and supervising concentration camps, defended their brutal tortures and murders with these words: “I only followed orders.” And so, ABC News continued, in quoting another expert: “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process… Even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality.”
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH GETS INVOLVED…
Reuters reported on May 12 that “The scandal of prisoner abuses by U.S. soldiers in Iraq has dealt a bigger blow to the United States than the Sept. 11 attacks, the Vatican foreign minister told an Italian newspaper.”
The article continued: “In an interview published Wednesday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo described the abuses as ‘a tragic episode in the relationship with Islam’ and said the scandal would fuel hatred for the West and for Christianity. ‘The torture? A more serious blow to the United States than Sept. 11. Except that the blow was not inflicted by terrorists but by Americans against themselves,’ Lajolo was quoted as saying in La Repubblica.”
Reuters added: “The Vatican paper, L’Osservatore Romano, has also run some harsh comments in the past days. On Monday, it criticized what it called a Pentagon cover-up… President Bush is scheduled to hold talks with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican on June 4.”
Der Spiegel Online commented:
“In Germany, criticism continued as well. Gernot Eller, second in command of the Social Democratic Party… claimed that the torture in Iraq is no longer an internal American problem…. He said that the whole Western world has become inadvertently accused… He continued that the USA does not have the right to ask questions of other societies, but does have to answer for itself.”
US FACES LASTING DAMAGE ABROAD
The Washington Post published an article on May 7, 2004, pointing out the terrible damage abroad caused by the atrocities in Iraq. It stated:
“The United States faces the prospect of a severe and enduring backlash not just in the Middle East but also among strategic allies… The White House is so gloomy about the repercussions that senior adviser Karl Rove suggested this week that the consequences of the graphic photographs documenting the U.S. abuse of Iraqi detainees are so enormous that it will take DECADES for the United States to recover, according to a Bush adviser.”
The article continued:
“‘It’s a blinding glimpse of the obvious to say we’re in a hole,’ conceded Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage. He said the backlash in Europe is even greater than in the 22-nation Arab world. ‘For many of our European friends, what they saw on those horrible pictures is tantamount to torture, and there are very strong views about that,’ he said yesterday on CNN’s ‘Paula Zahn Now’ show. ‘In the Arab world, there is general dismay and disgust, but in some places we were not real popular to start with. So I think I’m actually seeing a EUROPEAN REACTION quite strong — quite a bit stronger.’
“In public and private communications, European officials have become critical or DISDAINFUL of the United States.”
“EUROPE AND AMERICA DRIFTING APART”
This was the headline of an article published by The San Diego Union Tribune on May 5, 2004 — even before the news hit regarding the most recent atrocities in Iraq. When describing the acceptance of ten new European countries by the EU on May 1, 2004, the newspaper pointed out: “The U.S. media paid scant attention; it was no big deal. IN EUROPE, IT WAS A GARGANTUAN DEAL.” It continued: “Opposition to the United States also distracts from Europe’s own problems. There’s a growing collision between generous welfare benefits and poor economic growth… The 10 countries received membership on grudging terms: economic aid and farm subsidies were limited; immigration rights were curtailed. The truth is that Europe is too weak to lead and too proud to follow.”
This may be true right now, but Europe understands this situation much better than most Americans do. Europeans realize that they are too weak to lead at this point — but they are determined to overcome that weakness. European leaders of the past, including Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V. of Hapsburg, Napoleon I and III, Wilhelm IV., Mussolini and Hitler, have had a strong conviction that “God,” or a “higher power,” or “destiny,” had selected and ordained them to fulfill a certain predetermined role. Today, this persuasion may not exist in many European leaders. This, however, will change.
“Modern” Europe descended from ancient Rome. After the Roman Empire fell, it went through several “historical revivals.” In the Middle Ages, the “Holy Roman Empire” was born under Charlemagne. Later, it was called the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation,” under Otto the Great. In more recent times, Mussolini claimed that he had resurrected the ancient Roman Empire.
On April 30, 2004, Die Welt published an interview with French historian Jacques Le Goff. He stated that the word “Europa” or “Europe” was originally adapted from Greece. It comprised the peoples of the Roman Empire and the so-called “barbarians.” The Moors called the Europeans “Franks.” Goff claimed that Turkey does not belong, historically, to Europe, but to the Orient. He stated that in the Middle Ages, European emperors traveled to Rome to be crowned there. Europeans traveled without passports, and the upper class used a common language — that of Latin. It did not make any difference in which European city one studied. Goff suggested that today’s European concept of “open borders” goes back to the Middle Ages. He concluded: “I am filled with joy that the descendants of the Carolingian Empire [under Charlemagne], Germany and France, are playing today a major role in Europe.”
An article by the San Diego Union Tribune, dated May 1, 2004, is quite remarkable in this context. It reminded the readership of the “historic roots of Europe,” stating: “East and West Europe have been divorced from each other for most of history. UNDER THE ROMANS, CHARLEMAGNE, THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE, NAPOLEON AND HITLER PARTS OF IT WERE BROUGHT TOGETHER BY FORCE OF ARMS OR RELIGION. NEVER BEFORE, THOUGH, HAVE EAST AND WEST JOINED TOGETHER LEGALLY AND DEMOCRATICALLY AS THEY NOW HAVE DONE.”
The article made this interesting remark: “What the new 25-nation EU will become IS NOT CERTAIN.”
However, the Bible describes in VERY CERTAIN terms what the future holds for Europe — and the United States of America. The article of the Union Tribune claimed: “Whatever new problems it poses, today’s expansion should be welcomed by Americans…. It has been the policy of every U.S. government for a half century to support European unity.” And indeed, this policy may make sense from a human standpoint. However, America’s and Europe’s future will not be, as many might expect. For a thorough and insightful look into the destinies of these two power blocs, please read our free booklets: “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”
PASSPORT PROBLEMS BETWEEN US AND EU
Reuters reported on May 12, 2004, that “the European Union expects to start issuing new biometric passports with digital photographs and fingerprints by the end of 2005 and hopes the United States will continue to allow visa-free travel as a result, a top EU official said on Wednesday. Under current U.S. legislation, visa-free travel for 27 U.S. allies — including many European Union states — is in jeopardy. It requires all new passports from these ‘visa waiver’ countries to contain a biometric identifier, like a fingerprint or a face-scan, from Oct. 26, a deadline most of the states say they cannot meet.”
The article continued: “Both European and U.S. officials are eager for Congress to extend the deadline. Unless this happens, the United States risks a huge shortfall in traveler spending and a consular nightmare when millions of visitors suddenly require visas. Some 15.1 million people came into the United States under the visa waiver program last year, and their spending accounted for about two-thirds of spending by overseas visitors. The Department of Homeland Security has asked Congress to give visa waiver countries two more years to start issuing biometric passports… The Oct. 26 deadline only applies to passports issued after that date. Citizens of visa waiver countries who hold valid passports issued before Oct. 26 will be grandfathered, allowing them visa-free travel until their passports expire.”
Some claim that Elijah will appear before the return of Jesus Christ and that he may even still be alive. How do you explain the passage in Matthew 17:11 in which Jesus is quoted as saying that Elijah will come and restore all things?
In the context of Matthew 17, Peter, James and John accompany Jesus to a high mountain, and then, in verse 9, Jesus says, “‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.'” In this vision they witness Jesus being transfigured and appearing in His glorified state. Along with Jesus, Moses and Elijah also appear. In the parallel account of Mark 9, these disciples wonder at the instruction from Jesus when He spoke of His resurrection: “So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant” (verse 10).
Their curiosity led to the question we find recorded in Matthew 17:10: “And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?'” The scribes, along with the rest of the religious leadership of that time, did not understand how the Messiah would first appear. Not understanding the scriptures, they were only looking for the establishment of Israel’s kingdom and the destruction of their enemies. Following the resurrection of Jesus, even His disciples asked: “‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel'” (Acts 1:6)?
Not unlike some people today, the scribes of Jesus’ day narrowly focused on the prophecy found in Malachi 4. The last two verses of this chapter state: “‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse'” (verses 5 and 6).
This sweeping prophecy will culminate in the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth. However, God has been preparing for this event through His carefully prepared plan–a great master plan that was established even before the creation itself (Compare 1 Corinthians 2:7 and Titus 1:2).
Continuing in Matthew 17, Jesus explained, “‘but I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke of John the Baptist” (verses 12-13).
John the Baptist was uniquely commissioned in this Elijah-like role: “Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying…” (Luke 1:67); Then, in verse 76, John’s father makes this statement: “‘And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways.'”
During his short ministry, John the Baptist drew the attention of the Jews and they sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to question him. John 1:19 records their question: “…’Who are you?'” John answered that he was not the Christ, nor Elijah nor the Prophet. What he emphasized is recorded verse 23: “He said: ‘I am The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.'”
Is what John said in contradiction with what Jesus said of him, that “Elijah has come already?” Not at all. John knew who he was and the work he was to do. He knew that he was not the Messiah nor the Prophet. He also knew that he was not Elijah. Perhaps what he did not understand was that his work was an Elijah-like commission–in the manner that Malachi chapter 4 speaks of. However, Jesus Christ did know this and revealed it to His disciples as recorded in Matthew 17. Also note what an angel of God testified to Zacharias concerning John the Baptist: “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17). The angel did not say that John would be Elijah, but that he would have that kind of role to fulfill.
Even John did not know who the Messiah was until he baptized Jesus: “‘I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God'” (John 1:33-34). What John did know and do was to fulfill the work that God gave to him. Jesus said of John: “‘Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist'” (Matthew 11:11).
John the Baptist preached repentance from sins, and he and his disciples baptized many. However, Jesus’ disciples baptized more than John (see John 4:1-2). Indeed, John’s work prepared the way for what Jesus accomplished. Yet the greater work was done by Jesus in ways far beyond preaching and baptizing.
Clearly, the Bible speaks of a future time when some will come “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” The most direct prophecy of that event is found in Malachi 4. Note the time setting depicted in verse 5: “‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.'” The specific work to be done then will be much the same as what John the Baptist did. “‘And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse [utter destruction]'” (Malachi 4:6). The way in which this will be done is for both fathers and children to turn to the law of God (see verse 4).
We also find this description of what Jesus Christ did as Peter preached at Jerusalem: “‘To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities’ ” (Acts 3:26). In verse 24 of this same chapter in Acts, Peter says: “‘Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.'” Peter had already shown that Moses had, as well, spoken of God raising up a Prophet like him (verse 22).
Acts 3:21 speaks of Jesus Christ in this way: “‘whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.'” This was not an exclusive message from either Elijah or John the Baptist. Rather, the message of restoration of all things points to the establishment of God’s Kingdom on this earth. This is the same message that Jesus commissioned the Church to proclaim: “‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come'”(Matthew 24:14). What will end is the corrupt rule of Satan’s government. What will be restored is God’s government.
Since the time of John the Baptist, the Church of God has been carrying out an Elijah-like role in teaching the way of life that God instructs all to follow. Beyond that first generation of the Church, only in recent times has the work of the Church arisen to such a level that it impacted people all over the earth. That occurred during the lifetime of Herbert W. Armstrong as God empowered him to preach the gospel powerfully through the mass media of print, radio and television. Indeed, many heard that message and–like what happened in the time of John the Baptist–they repented and turned their hearts to obeying God.
Not unlike the first generation of the Church of God, the Worldwide Church of God (founded by Mr. Armstrong) has been overthrown through deceptive teachings from false ministers. As a consequence, we now find the people of God straying from the truth that they once believed. However, some have remained faithful to their calling to carry on the work of the Church.
Scripture shows that at the time of the end, there must yet arise a powerful witness of warning to both the modern nations of Israel and Judah, as well as to the entire world (This will be before the work of the two witnesses!). That work will have dramatic impact in the coming years. Note what Jesus said in this regard: “‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake'” (Matthew 24:9). Jesus gave this answer as a direct response to His disciples. He was speaking prophetically about His future disciples! Much like John the Baptist was called upon to do, the Church of God will face the task of proclaiming the intervention of One Who will bring peace–this time forcibly! The Elijah message at the beginning centered on this thought: “‘If the LORD is God, follow Him'” (1 Kings 18:21). That is what Malachi prophesied, it is what John the Baptist proclaimed, it is what Jesus taught and commissioned His followers to teach–it is the message that will carry on being proclaimed into the Kingdom of God!
Revelation 11 shows that two prophets will arise just before Christ returns. They will be imbued with power from God, much like Moses and Aaron, to work powerful signs before the whole world. It is interesting to note that in the vision seen by Peter, James and John, it was Moses and Elijah who appeared (Compare Matthew 17). They are dead and buried, but the two witnesses of God are different individuals–they will prophesy during the time when modern Israel and Judah will be punished, and many of them who escape death will become captives scattered and sold all over the world. These two people will contend with the great false religious leader then alive as well as the government leaders of the revived Roman Empire. Not only will they proclaim God’s soon coming punishment of the earth, but they will have power from God to bring about awesome miracles to withstand Satan’s evil influence and to wake up any who might repent. Verse 7 indicates that they will “finish their testimony.” Exactly what that testimony is can be understood from the prophecies found in Zechariah 4. In verse 14, the two olive trees mentioned earlier in the chapter are identified as “‘These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.'” In verse 7, we find the message that will be proclaimed: “‘And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!””
That “capstone” is Jesus Christ. He is the stone that the builders rejected (Compare Luke 20:17; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8) Jesus Christ is the One Who will restore the earth (Compare Isaiah 49:8). That restoration will involve this physical world which will have come to the brink of extinction. That restoration will also be the establishment of God’s Kingdom and the teaching of God’s ways in order that mankind may truly become the sons and daughters of God and inherent eternal life and peace forever more (Compare Romans 8:18-22).
Elijah will be with Jesus Christ and the others who attain the first resurrection. Elijah, like all the faithful men and women living in past generations, is in the grave–he is dead. But Jesus Christ has already led the way for us. He has been resurrected and He is alive and at the right hand of God. He has promised to return to this earth. Then and only then will we see the restoration of all things as the great master plan of God continues to its completion. Finally, as Revelation chapters 21 and 22 show, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, will dwell in the midst of their family. “‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away'” (Revelation 21:4).
New Booklets Ahead
Our booklet on Healing has reached the final review stage.
A new booklet on Jesus Christ is being written.
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