|Q&A||Who is the Antichrist prophesied to come?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
The world may be producing as much as 5 exabytes of NEW information each year. That is 5 billion gigabytes, which is estimated to be more than what was produced during the almost 6,000 years of man’s past history combined. Technology is increasing exponentially such that by the year 2010 it is predicted to double every 72 hours, which is unfathomable.
In an attempt to access a portion of this nearly incomprehensible amount of information, there are 2.7 billion searches on Google alone each month… give or take a few. Yet, has mankind come up with or found the answers to the truly important questions in life?
Paul actually addresses this exact subject in his second letter to Timothy. In talking about the end time in chapter 3, he continues a thought in verse 7, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This has never been more true than it is today. Current rates of new information production roughly equal 1 gigabyte of unique information per person per year, or, to put it another way, about 1000 Bibles worth of data.
But in reality, all that is needed is just ONE Bible. When it comes to the search for truth, the Book of books is the only foundation that we require. We do not need to run to and fro looking here and there in pursuit of this and that. We already have the inspired Word of God and the Truth that is not going to change.
As we seek to simplify our lives, let us make sure that we invest our time and energy into what is profitable and right, and what will stand the test of time.
This Week in the News
Russian Democracy Dead
Canada.com Network wrote on March 10:
“A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin: ‘If you do, no matter who you are, where you are, we will find you and we will silence you in the most horrible way possible.’ Those words come from an interview broadcast on NBC’s Dateline on Feb. 26. They were spoken by Paul Joyal, a Washington consultant who studies the former Soviet Union. Joyal was talking about the murder of his friend Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB defector who died painfully in London on Nov. 23 from radiation poisoning.
“Four nights after his Dateline interview, Joyal met another prominent KGB defector, Oleg Kalugin, for dinner at a restaurant in downtown Washington. Joyal returned to his home in suburban Maryland about 7:30 pm, stepped out of his car — and was shot in the groin. Neither his wallet nor his briefcase were taken. His shooter has not been found.
“Happily, the shooting was not fatal. Ivan Safronov, a military affairs writer for the Russian daily Kommersant, was less fortunate. Safronov had been working on a big story about a secret Russian deal to ship highly advanced Iskander missiles to Syria. The day after the Joyal shooting, Safronov fell out of a fifth story window in Moscow. Safronov is the 89th journalist to have died violently in Russia over the past 10 years.
“We do not know how many of those deaths were ordered by the Russian government. (And indeed Joyal’s shooting may well have been an ordinary crime.) But we do know that over the past half dozen years, Vladimir Putin’s government has extinguished all of Russia’s independent broadcast media and severely curbed most print media. We do know that Putin has ended elections for local government and centralized all power in the Kremlin. We do know that he has used administrative powers to seize some of Russia’s largest corporations and transfer ownership to his supporters — and to confiscate gas fields leased to foreign investors.
“And now we have a clearer idea of how Putin has been able to get away with these dangerous moves toward dictatorship: The Russian people support him. Last week, the EU-Russia Centre released the results of a major new survey of Russian public opinion. Only 16% of those surveyed identified the ‘Western model’ of democracy as the ideal. More than twice as many, 35%, said they ‘prefer the Soviet system before the 1990s.’ Only 10% of Russians regarded their country as belonging to the West. 71% said that Russia was not part of Europe. Almost half of Russians, 45%, regard Europe as a threat… As an institution, Russian democracy is dying. Inside the minds of the Russians, it is already dead.
“We have no shortage of things to worry about in our troubled world… Now add one more. A potentially great power, endowed with vast energy wealth and inheriting a vast nuclear arsenal, is deliberately and with the approval of the majority of its people turning its back on democracy and freedom. Instead of joining the West, Russia is finding its way to dangerous alliances with Iran, Syria, China… This grouping of anti-democratic states is extending its reach around the world…”
Europe Without Britain?
The EUObserver reported on March 10:
“The EU should go ahead and further integrate without the UK if it attempts to block a new constitutional treaty, Belgium’s prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has said. In an interview with German daily Die Welt, he said he expected the German EU presidency ‘not just to have put down a roadmap for the new constitution by the end of June, but also an outline of the content… Asked about what the EU should do if the UK blocks an agreement on a new treaty, Mr Verhofstadt said then the train has to drive on anyway… [and] ‘the European Union must progress without Great Britain.’… Drawing parallels from across the Atlantic, he said ‘the United States of America also did not come about in unison. At the time, only nine of the 13 British crown colonies voted in favour. The rest tailed behind and accepted the agreement later.'”
Watchdogs or Lapdogs?
On March 13, News.com published a revealing interview with famous journalist, Dan Rather. We are bringing you the following excerpts from Rather’s insightful comments–which can also be applied to the ongoing role and commission of God’s Church:
“Rather opined at length on the state of his profession, in which too many journalists have become lapdogs to power, rather than watchdogs… he spent most of his time on stage talking about why he thinks many people have lost faith in journalists. One reason, Rather said, is that questioning power, especially at a time of war, can be perceived as unpatriotic or unsupportive of America’s fighting troops. ‘That’s ‘a very serious charge in this country,’ Rather said. ‘We’ve brought it on ourselves,’ he added, ‘partly because we’ve lost the sense that (the) patriotic journalist will be on his or her feet asking the tough questions.’ “Indeed, Rather’s ascent to the pinnacles of power in journalism came as a result of his reputation for asking very tough questions and… not being afraid to ask follow-up questions, of powerful people like President Richard Nixon, the first President George Bush, current President Bush, Saddam Hussein, and many others. ‘In many ways,’ said Rather to loud applause, ‘what we in journalism need is a spine transplant.’ …
“It is incumbent on journalists to be willing to risk their access to power to seek out the truth behind a story, he said. And they shouldn’t be willing to water down the truth to protect their access to power. Rather also said that the consolidation of power in a small number of media companies has hurt the search for the truth… As media conglomerates get bigger… the goal becomes satisfying shareholders, not citizens, he said.
“Rather reiterated the journalist’s role as a watchdog. ‘Not as an attack dog… But what does the lapdog do? He just crawls into someone’s lap,’ he said. ‘A good watchdog barks at everything that’s suspicious. I submit to you, the American press’ role is to be a watchdog.'”
This choice of words is quite remarkable. The media IS supposed to tell the people the truth about relevant issues, but this is often not the case. God has said that He has called WATCHMEN for the purpose of WARNING the nations. It is actually God’s CHURCH today which is to fulfill the role of the watchman or a “watchdog”–with the duty to BARK at wrong things!
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
The Chicago Tribune wrote on March 13:
“The ranking Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee sharply rebuked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Tuesday, taking issue with General Peter Pace’s view that homosexual acts are immoral. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), a former Secretary of the Navy, said, ‘I respectfully but strongly disagree with the chairman’s view that homosexuality is immoral…’ Pace told The Chicago Tribune Tuesday that ‘I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.’ He said he supports the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell policy,’’ explaining that ‘I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way. As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior,’ Pace said.
“The general was responding to a question about the Clinton-era policy that is coming under renewed scrutiny amid fears of future U.S. troop shortages. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), a candidate for president, for example, has sharply criticized the policy and called for it to be dismantled. So has Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president. Pace said the Pentagon should not ‘condone’ immoral behavior by allowing gay soldiers to serve openly. He said his views were based on his personal ‘upbringing,’ in which he was taught that certain types of conduct are immoral.”
Reuters added on March 13:
“The top U.S. military officer, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, tried on Tuesday to calm anger that erupted after he described homosexual acts as immoral, saying he was expressing only his personal views. Gay rights activists and Democrats criticized the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff for his comments and a veteran Republican senator voiced his disagreement… Under the policy, commanders may not ask the sexual orientation of service members, but gays and lesbians can serve only if they keep their sexual orientation private and do not engage in homosexual acts. Later, Pace issued a statement saying he had made a mistake in devoting so much time to his personal views… House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was ‘disappointed in the moral judgment’ voiced by Pace and the military should consider changing policy on allowing gays to serve in its ranks.”
It is interesting that in all of this political debate and sword-rattling, no word is mentioned about GOD’s view point. The Bible is VERY clear on the issue, and supports General Pace’s sentiments. Sadly, political pressure forced him to “clarify” his position.
British Schoolchildren to Be Taught Wrong Values?
Der Spiegel Online published the following piece regarding unbelievable indoctrination of British schoolchildren. The magazine supports this unfortunate development; so we have chosen to just publish those excerpts from the article which state the facts, while omitting the unacceptable “opinions” of the author. The magazine wrote on March 13:
“Once upon a time a prince was looking for a suitable queen to be. He was introduced to one princess, two princesses … and fell in love with another prince. They married each other in a dream wedding and lived together happily ever after. Sounds like an underground gay comic? It isn’t — the text in question is a schoolbook.
“School children in Britain learn about sexual diversity and alternative family structures from an early age. A state-supported pilot scheme run at 14 elementary schools — attended by children from the age of four to 11 — is stirring up trouble with its sexually liberal message… Apart from ‘King & King’, there will be other books addressing same-sex parenthood. ‘And Tango Makes Three’ features a baby penguin with two fathers while ‘Spacegirl Pukes’ is a picture book about two mothers who send their daughter on a space trip. The texts are listed on the recommended reading list for the schoolchildren… If successful, the scheme will be extended nationwide. It is supported with £600,000 in funding from the state-run Economic and Social Research Council and is backed by the National Union of Teachers and General Teaching Council… the liberal Blair government has been much more tolerant towards homosexuality than its predecessors… homosexual marriage was legalized in 2005…”
The Pope’s Tough Stance
AFP wrote on March 13 about the Roman Catholic Church’s renewed and confirmed tough stance on the dogma of “celibacy”–the man-made prohibition for Catholic priests to get married and produce children. The French news agency reported:
“Celibacy ‘remains obligatory’ for Roman Catholic priests, Pope Benedict XVI stated Tuesday in a long-awaited text… ‘I reaffirm the beauty and importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God,’ reads the apostolic exhortation, the first of Benedict’s papacy and second in importance only to an encyclical. ‘I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition,’ the pope wrote in the document reflecting the conclusions of an October 2005 synod of bishops. Benedict, who was elected pope in 2005, wrote: ‘The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of the Latin Church.'”
The article continued:
“The pope also reaffirmed that Catholics who divorce and remarry are barred from taking communion, unless they ‘commit to living their relationship… as friends, as brother and sister.”
According to further news reported in the German press, the Pope also reconfirmed his prohibition for Catholics and Protestants to take the communion together.
The Pope’s harsh line enforcing “celibacy” and prohibiting communion for divorced and remarried Catholics does not surprise those who might have studied Benedict’s positions, when he was still known as Cardinal Ratzinger. It will undoubtedly disappoint many Catholics. In addition, it is–in both respects–against Biblical teaching. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, prophesied in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 that false teachings would arise, “forbidding to marry,” and Jesus Christ and Paul made it clear that there ARE legitimate reasons for divorce and subsequent remarriage–not just for “annulment” (compare Matthew 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:12-15).
Is the German Army Becoming Americans’ Foot Soldiers?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on March 9:
“Afghanistan is back in the German headlines after a German aid worker is murdered and the German government formally approves sending six Tornado jets to support troops in volatile south Afghanistan… Business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘The German army must not become the Americans’ foot soldiers. Whether this happens or not does not depend on the deployment of Tornados. Even without the reconnaissance jets, it’s very likely that the German soldiers will become fully involved in combat, and in autumn there will probably be a call for ground troops. … The more convincingly Berlin proves that it wants to achieve success in Afghanistan, the more its NATO partners will understand German politicians’ desire for German troops to not be under American command. But if the suspicion grows that Germany just wants to avoid a difficult domestic political debate, then Berlin will just reap increasing disappointment and frustration.'”
German Interview with Governor Schwarzenegger
On March 13, Der Spiegel Online published an interesting interview with Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. We are bringing you the following excerpts from his comments:
On Air Pollution:
“The message I am trying to get across is exactly this: Protecting the environment does not require us to be against large SUVs or trucks. Instead we should develop technology to cut down greenhouse gas emissions because that is where the action is — it’s not about what the size of the car is. We just have to redo the vehicles… Those oil rigs you see out there will be gone eventually because we now know that environmental pollution is counterproductive and that we could be slowly killing ourselves with climate change… We do not like the fact that we must rely on fossil fuels. This dependence is a huge mistake. It’s as bad as having an investor who only invests in a single product or company. You have to diversify. You have to invest in 30 different companies because that is the only way you can guarantee that your investment will grow. We have not done that with our energy… The most interesting thing politically is that Republicans are now supporting environmental protection. We’ve always expected nothing less from the Democrats. As a Republican, people expected me to protect the oil companies and business. Now they are surprised that I talk about greenhouse gases. But it’s true that the documentary has now given Gore tremendous legitimacy. California is now passing new environmental laws that Gore was actually talking about 20 years ago. He was right, but people called him a tree hugger because he’s a Democrat.”
On President Bush and the Iraq War:
“I’m not sure things are that simple with Bush. When he was still governor of Texas, he ran his state in the most bipartisan of ways. I do not know why it has gone so differently [in] Washington. I think Washington just does something to people… I gave him some suggestions about what he should do. It is very clear that we have to work together in order to do a good job. What is really hurting the country is the way they are governing in Washington at the moment… You change your positions as things change. I had different information from the president. I only get the information that Washington shares with us and that is broadcast in the media. It seemed clear at the time that Iraq was sheltering terrorists. Saddam Hussein’s regime was a dictatorship that cost a lot of lives. There was good justification to invade, especially after 9/11… Four years later, we have to look at it and ask if Iraq is becoming another Vietnam, and I do not want it to become another Vietnam. I think we have now helped the Iraqi government long enough. We have trained their soldiers. We have done everything that we can, so now let’s talk about a timeline of withdrawal… We should have an end in sight for this war. It costs a fortune and it costs a lot of lives.”
On his own future:
“I never like to think more than just a few days ahead. The reason I chose to come to the US is because there is no safety net here. I chose making movies over doing TV series because I didn’t want to know what my next move would be. I like the idea of the risk — if a movie goes in the toilet then you get no new offers. If the movie does well, then you have 15 scripts in front of you. I always feel that if you pay 100 percent attention to what you are doing then you have every option available in the future. These things fall into place. I have total faith in my future… When I was 15 years old I felt totally confident I would become a world champion and the greatest bodybuilder in the world. The same was true of show business — I knew that one day I would make more money than anyone else in the industry and I did. For that you need the willingness to work and do everything it takes to make the vision turn into reality. Those are the kinds of things that you also need in politics. There are thousands of experts here in Sacramento, but at the end of the day, it’s all about taking something on and seeing it through to the end. That’s the perfect job for me.”
Are Scotsmen English–After All?
The International Herald Tribune wrote on March 11:
“The one sure way to irritate a Scotsman is to call him an Englishman… But now comes the intriguing evidence from geneticists… that the people of the British Isles are more closely related than the history books had suggested. According to [this evidence], the core populations of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are of very much the same stock, with only minor add-ons at the edge from Viking and other invasions. So being Scottish is not, in genetic terms, all that different from being English… if that is shown… to be true, then the differences — however profound and important to cultural identity — are demoted to the incidental variations that flow from living in separate places and developing distinct local cultures… The more we are shown to be related, the more our sense of shared humanity must come to the fore. That may be hopelessly idealistic, but it was very much the message that the great poet Robert Burns gave to the world. And he was Scottish. Or was he?”
Who is the Antichrist prophesied to come?
Surprising as it may sound to some, the Bible nowhere identifies a particular person as “the Antichrist.” Even though religious preachers and programs may be talking about the “coming Antichrist,” they really misapply certain Scriptures to promulgate such a false concept.
It is correct that the Bible says that two individuals, called the “beast” and the “false prophet,” will appear on the world scene, and that Satan will use them, as his instruments, to bring havoc to this world. Scriptures also refer to the “false prophet” as the “man of sin,” and they speak of the “beast” as the “king of the north” or “King Jareb of Assyria.” But the Bible nowhere says that either one of those two persons–either the “beast” or the “false prophet”– is “THE Antichrist.”
To give just one example, the following explanation of the “antichrist” in the “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” by W.E.Vine, must be rejected, as totally lacking all Scriptural support and being actually in contradiction with Scripture: “What the apostle [John] says of him [antichrist] so closely resembles what he says of the first beast in Rev. 13, and what the apostle Paul says of the Man of Sin in 2 Thess. 2, that the same person seems to be in view in all these passages.”
The idea that “antichrist” applies to an end-time ruler fighting God did not originate in Scripture, but in human tradition. The idea to limit “antichrist” to one individual has also given rise to the most wide-spread interpretations. As Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia points out, “Different interpreters have at various times identified the Antichrist with the Roman emperors Nero, Diocletian, Julian, and Caligula; with the Samaritan sorcerer Simon Magus (see Acts 8:9-24); and with Muhammad, the founder of Islam. At the time of the Reformation, Protestants quite generally held the pope to be the antichrist, and Roman Catholics regarded Martin Luther similarly. In the controversy between the Roman church and the Greek church, the name was applied, by those who opposed them, to popes and Byzantine emperors.”
It is a fundamental mistake to limit the concept of “antichrist” to just one particular person.
The word “antichrist” is used exclusively by John in four places. The context shows what is meant by “antichrist.” Let us review these four passages, as quoted from the Authorized Version:
1 John 2:18: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists…”
1 John 2:22: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”
1 John 4:3: “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
2 John 7: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come [literally: coming] in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
From these passages, we see that “antichrist” is not limited to a particular person, but that it describes a wrong “spirit” or false teaching, pertaining to Jesus Christ and God the Father. The word “antichrist” literally means, “an opponent to Christ.” John says that there are MANY “antichrists” in the world, not just one. And he explains that “antichrist” is not limited to the identification of a person still to come in the future, but that the spirit of antichrist was already active at the time of John. It has been in the world ever since. And so, the spirit of antichrist will most certainly permeate, influence and possess the “beast” and the “false prophet,” but it is not limited to just those two individuals.
The spirit of antichrist denies that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God the Father (1 John 2:22). It denies that Jesus came in the flesh (1 John 4:3)–that is, that He became a human being (John 1:14). It denies that God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, impregnated the virgin Mary to bring forth Jesus the Christ. It denies that Christ, the Son of God who had lived for all eternity as the second member of the God Family, became fully man to be able to overcome sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3) and to DIE for us (Philippians 2:5-8; Revelation 1:18), so that we could obtain forgiveness of our sins, release from the death penalty for our sins, reconciliation with God the Father, and hope of eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).
And finally, the spirit of antichrist denies that Christ is coming, today, in the flesh (2 John 7). That is, as will be explained, Christ is living His life spiritually, through the Holy Spirit, in the physical bodies–the “flesh”–of His disciples. The New King James Bible says, accurately: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” The Williams translation says that Christ “continues to come” in the flesh.
Some commentaries claim that this means that Jesus Christ will appear at His Second Coming as a man. This is a terrible misapplication of Scripture. Even though Jesus Christ is called at times the “Man Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 2:5), the context shows that such a passage refers to His present function as High Priest, intervening on our behalf, as He lived as a man and as He can therefore sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:14-15). The Bible does NOT say that Christ will return or come again as a man. As a man, He could die, but the Bible says that Christ has died once and will NEVER die again (Revelation 1:18). Christ is today an immortal glorified God Being in the Family of God, and this is how He will return (1 Corinthians 15:45; Titus 2:13).
When the Bible says that antichrist denies that Christ is coming in the flesh, something altogether different is being addressed. The spirit of antichrist denies that Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, lives in His disciples today (compare Galatians 2:20). It denies that Christ is, in that sense, coming into His disciples; that is, flesh and blood human beings. It denies that Christ is coming right now in the flesh or the physical bodies of His disciples by living His life spiritually in His people. It denies that others should be able to look at Christ’s disciples and recognize Christ living in them. It denies that, even though we have been reconciled with God the Father by the death of His Son, we “shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). It is only because Christ was resurrected from the dead and lives His life in us today, that we are able to inherit eternal life. Christ said in John 14:19: “Because I live, you will live also.”
By extension, the spirit of antichrist denies that we have to keep God’s commandments, because Christ only lives in us if we obey Him. 1 John 3:24 says: “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, AND HE IN HIM. And by this we know that He ABIDES IN US, by the Spirit [which] He has given us.” Christ said in John 14:15-18: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper that [it] may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth… I will not leave you orphans, I WILL COME TO YOU.”
The spirit of antichrist DENIES the entire saving work of Jesus Christ–who He was before He became a man; who He was when in the flesh; who He is today; what He DOES today; and that He lives His life in the flesh of His disciples who OBEY Him.
Rather than limiting “Antichrist” to just one person to appear on the world scene in the future, the Bible warns of the spirit of antichrist which has been in this world for a long time, and which will prevent us, if we fall prey to it, from inheriting eternal life.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new member letter has been written and sent out this week. It is also posted on the Web. In the letter, Dave Harris discusses the annual memorial services of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, and addresses in that context the importance of having the right perspective regarding growing in knowledge and applying the understanding which we do have.
A new StandingWatch program has been posted on Google Video and on our Website. It is titled, “The Disappointing Libby Trial.” Norbert Link is addressing the questions why did the world look with so much interest at the Libby Trial, and why was the outcome so disappointing? Why is it that so many unanswered questions remain?
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
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While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
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