We realize that there are negative influences in our life that make our walk in the Way considerably more difficult. The problem is that this situation can be compounded by the fact that we do not accept responsibility for our own actions, but rather place blame where it does not belong.
We know that Satan is alive, active and doing everything possible to cause us to stumble. We also have others at large who can sway us in the wrong direction, whether intentionally or not. But what if the person we are looking at in the mirror is the only one at fault?
One of the signs that we are sinning is when we blame others. If we put the culpability on Satan and society and dismiss our own guilt, we will not be able to grow in the areas that are inhibiting us. We will continue to make the same type of errors, if not the same exact one.
We should start looking inwardly first, before imputing sin elsewhere. We should ask God to open our eyes and show us the responsibility that lies with us. In order to move forward and “go on to perfection,” we must be ready and willing to accept our part–especially in our own wrongdoing.
This Week in the News
War Profiteers–USA, Russia and Germany
Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 16:
“According to a recent study, only the United States and Russia export more military goods than Germany — and the supposedly pacifist nation leads the EU in such sales. The rise in weapons profits is part of a global trend. Once one of the world’s most aggressive powers, Germany today likes to project a pacifist image. From the German army’s reluctance to fight abroad to a foreign policy that promotes peaceful intentions and global harmony, Germany regards itself as a model the world should follow.
“But a report released yesterday by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), a German think tank, reveals a different side of Germany’s relationship to war… Germany, it turns out, exports nearly a billion euros worth of military goods each year ($1.55 billion) to developing countries. In fact, the BICC estimates, Germany’s total defense sales in 2006 made it the world’s third largest arms exporter. ‘That makes Germany the European Union’s biggest military goods exporter…'”
Trouble for the Germans in Afghanistan
On May 19, Der Spiegel Online reported:
“German special forces had an important Taliban commander in their sights in Afghanistan. But he escaped — because the Germans were not authorized to use lethal force. The German government’s hands-tied approach to the war is causing friction with its NATO allies.”
The article continued:
“The Taliban commander is regarded as a brutal extremist with excellent connections to terror cells across the border in Pakistan… He is also thought to be behind one of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan’s history, the Nov. 6, 2007 attack on a sugar factory in the northwest province of Baghlan. The attack killed 79 people, including dozens of children and many parliamentarians and other politicians, as they celebrated the factory’s reopening.
“Germany’s KSK special forces have been charged with capturing the terrorist, in cooperation with the Afghan secret service organization NDS and the Afghan army… The dangerous terrorist escaped. It would, however, have been possible for the Germans to kill him — but the KSK were not authorized to do so.
“… even in a time of growing threats in Afghanistan, Berlin is sticking to its ‘principle of proportionality,’ stressed one high-ranking official in the Defense Ministry. A fugitive like the Baghlan bomber is not an aggressor and should not be shot unless necessary, the official explains. Soldiers from Britain’s British Special Air Service or the US’s Delta Force are less bothered about such hair-splitting. For them, this is a war in which it comes down to ‘kill or be killed,’ say sources in military circles in Kabul. The ‘targets’ are identified, tracked down and — often with the help of laser-guided weapons systems — ‘eliminated.’ The Germans have considerable misgivings about such an approach…
“The case of the Baghlan bomber is not the end of the story. More trouble has been brewing for the Germans in Afghanistan… The battalion will be relieving the Norwegian Quick Reaction Force in northern Afghanistan as of July 1. Then, at the latest, the Germans will be on the frontline.”
Germany is DESTINED to become the leading player within a United States of Europe; and as such, it WILL play a major MILITARY role on the world scene. However, this will not be good news. For further information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
Germany and Iran–A Crazy Relationship
The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 15:
“[Germany’s] position toward Tehran seems to be at a crossroads. The ‘grand coalition’ government looks at Iran through different prisms. While Chancellor Angela Merkel argues for tougher sanctions if necessary to stop the Iranian bomb, Germany’s foreign policy establishment, including a key advisor to Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, preaches accommodation, even a ‘strategic partnership’ with Iran.
“The diplomatic dissonance is striking. In March, Ms. Merkel declared in what has been called a historic speech to the Israeli parliament that she won’t shy away from ‘using additional, tougher sanctions to convince Iran to stop its nuclear program.’ If we Europeans were to shrink from tougher sanctions, said the Christian-Democratic chancellor, ‘we would have neither understood our historical responsibilities nor developed an awareness of the challenges of our time.’ This clear statement was welcomed in Israel and the U.S.
“Not so in Germany itself. ‘Sanctions get us nowhere!’ countered Christoph Bertram in the weekly Der Spiegel last month. ‘Chancellor Angela Merkel should not back every Israeli warning of catastrophe.’ Mr. Bertram’s voice carries weight. He used to head the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and later the German Foundation for Science and Politics, a think tank that advises the government and parliament on foreign policy. According to Mr. Bertram, the West must recognize ‘the immense advantage of a close and cooperative relationship with this country [Iran].’…
“Amid these politically uncertain times, business relations between the two countries are strong. After slowing between 2005-2007, German exports surged 13% in January. With Ä3.6 billion of goods going to Iran last year, backed by Ä500 million of export guarantees from Berlin, Germany is the world’s second largest exporter to Iran, and its products crucial for Iran’s economic survival… Germany is Iran’s No. 1 supplier of almost all types of machinery except for power systems and the building sector, where Italian manufacturers dominate the Iranian market…
“An unbridgeable gap lies between Ms. Merkel’s promise and the geopolitical approach of her domestic opponents, primarily among Social Democrats but also in her own party. While the German proponents of tougher sanctions seek an alliance with the West in order to confront Islamist terror, the ‘partner’ proposal implies a strategic alliance with Islamism and an estrangement — to say the least — from America and Israel.”
Germany’s Conscription Policy–Fundamentally Unfair
“A 21-year-old man has begun a hunger strike to protest his conscription into the army. The case throws the spotlight anew on Germany’s conscription policy, which many view as unfair. Mathias Schirmer, stationed at a Bundeswehr base in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, has refused to eat for a week, saying conscription is ‘not compatible with democracy and freedom as well as with human rights.’
“According to the German Peace Society, Schirmer was ordered to report to the Bundeswehr on April 1. When he did not show up, he was picked up by military police and sent to a base in the town of Viereck in north-eastern Germany. But Schirmer refused to wear a uniform… He rejects both military service or civilian alternative service, which is an option for conscripts who do not want to serve in the armed forces. After 12 days of confinement to his quarters, Schirmer was sentenced to a further 21 days of detention. As his standpoint did not change, the military imposed a 21-day arrest sentence on him, which began on May 9. It was then that he began the hunger strike… The Bundeswehr has said releasing Schirmer from his duty can only be decided once his 21-day sentence is completed, or if ‘other circumstances’ arise… There is one other conscientious objector serving a sentence in Germany, although he is not on a hunger strike.
“The cases are likely to again raise the question of the fairness of Germany’s conscription program. For years, fewer then one-third of those of draft age are called into the armed forces. Calls regularly go out that the Bundeswehr should be converted into a voluntary, professional body. Most of Germany’s major NATO partners have done away with mandatory service. However, the federal government in Berlin has resisted calls to do away with conscription all together…”
For a short time, it seemed that Germany HAD learned a temporary lesson after it had caused the terrible devastation of World War II, PROHIBITING conscription in Germany. Later, however, under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, that prohibition was lifted and, regrettably, a mandatory draft was instituted which remains in force and effect to this very day. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?” Also, make sure to read the next article, titled, “The Curse of War.”
The Curse of War
AFP wrote on May 16:
“Matthis Chiroux is the kind of young American US military recruiters love… Chiroux joined the army straight out of high school nearly six years ago, and worked his way up from private to sergeant. He served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines before he was honorably discharged and placed in the reserves.
“As a reservist, he was due to be deployed next month in Iraq. On Thursday, he refused to go. ‘I stand before you today with the strength and clarity and resolve to declare to the military, my government and the world that this soldier will not be deploying to Iraq,’ Chiroux said in the sun-filled rotunda of a congressional building in Washington. ‘My decision is based on my desire to no longer continue violating my core values to support an illegal and unconstitutional occupation… I refuse to participate in the Iraq occupation,’ he said, as a dozen veterans of the five-year-old Iraq war looked on…
“Former army sergeant Kristofer Goldsmith told the landmark hearing of ‘lawless murders, looting and the abuse of countless Iraqis.’ He spoke of the psychologically fragile men and women who return from Iraq to find little help or treatment offered from official circles… Some 300,000 of the 1.6 million US soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or both, an independent study showed last month.
“A group of veterans in the packed hearing room gazed blankly as their comrades’ testimonies shattered the official version that the US effort in Iraq is succeeding. Almost to a man, the testifiers denounced serious flaws in the chain of command in Iraq.
“Luis Montalvan, a former army captain, accused high-ranking US officers of numerous failures in Iraq, including turning a blind eye to massive fraud on the part of US contractors. Ex-Marine Jason Lemieux told how a senior officer had altered a report he had written because it slammed US troops for using excessive force in the face of a feeble attack — they took four rounds of enemy fire. Goldsmith accused US officials of censorship.”
“You Will Hear of Wars and Rumors of Wars…”
The Jerusalem Post wrote on May 20:
“US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran in the upcoming months, before the end of his term, Army Radio quoted a senior official in Jerusalem as saying Tuesday. The official claimed that a senior member of the president’s entourage, which concluded a trip to Israel last week, said during a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action was called for.
“However, the official continued, ‘the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’ was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic, for the time being.
“The report stated that according to assessments in Israel, recent turmoil in Lebanon, where Hizbullah de facto established control of the country, was advancing an American attack. Bush, the officials said, opined that Hizbullah’s show of strength was evidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s growing influence. They said that according to Bush, ‘the disease must be treated – not its
In a follow-up article, the magazine added on May 20:
“The White House on Tuesday flatly denied an Army Radio report that claimed US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term. It said that while the military option had not been taken off the table, the administration preferred to resolve concerns about Iran’s push for a nuclear weapon ‘through peaceful diplomatic means.'”
Lebanon Braces for War
Time Magazine wrote on May 20:
“Almost as soon as Lebanon’s leaders boarded planes for Qatar on Friday for talks to resolve their most dangerous political showdown since the end of the civil war, the Lebanese took a collective sigh of relief. Not because anyone thinks that peace is about to break out, but because Lebanon is arguably safer as long as most of the top men are out of town…
“Unfortunately for the Lebanese, their leaders are almost certainly coming back soon, and probably without a workable agreement. That’s because 18 months into the stalemate between the U.S. and Saudi-backed government, on the one hand, and the Syrian and Iranian supported opposition on the other, the differences between the two camps appear to be irreconcilable for now…
“With a vacuum in government – a new president is yet to be elected – the streets are reasserting themselves. Already the country is dividing up neighborhood-by-neighborhood, town-by-town, with gangs forming to protect their turf and screen outsiders. Unable to confront Hizballah directly, Sunni gangs may be tempted to seek revenge on Shi’ite civilians. Al-Qaeda-inspired groups are clamoring to come to Lebanon and kill Shi’ites, just as they have done in Iraq…”
How Burma’s Military Junta Blackmails the Submissive West
Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 15:
“The stubbornness of Burma’s military junta puts the West into a hopeless situation. If the international community wants to provide relief to victims of Cyclone Nargis, then it has to play by the regime’s rules. But the West’s submissiveness sends a dangerous signal to despots everywhere.”
The article continued:
“Everyone wants to help. And everyone needs to help, if thousands more deaths from disease and hunger are to be prevented. But nobody is able to help — at least as long as the regime does not want them to. Support for the victims of the disaster can only take place in cooperation with the junta, not in opposition to it. That’s something that Burma’s military rulers have made abundantly clear to the world… Burmese generals are able to dictate the conditions under which aid can be given…
“US first lady Laura Bush and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed themselves with strong words at the beginning of the crisis. Now Western diplomats are expressing an equally strong submissiveness. ‘We cannot make any more criticisms,’ says one Western diplomat, who preferred not to be identified. ‘If we did so, the door through which further relief supplies to the cyclone victims must past could slam shut.’… So no criticism of the junta, then. No critical words about a police state, where citizens are always put in second place — even after a devastating cyclone, in which, according to the latest estimates, as many as 250,000 people may have died…
“If many people’s lives are at risks, then criticizing the government becomes taboo: This is the uncomfortable subtext of the new soft Burma policy. It is also an all-too-reassuring signal to despots everywhere. It appears possible that the regime will now be given carte blanche for as long as the victims’ situation remains precarious. However one should not forget that it was precisely the mismanagement by the Burmese junta that greatly aggravated the crisis situation in the Irrawaddy Delta…
“The administration of US President George W. Bush may have taken a hard line on Burma in the past. But now it is taking a strikingly passive stance… The Germans have not done much better.”
Vladimir Putin–The New Russian Tsar
The Daily Mail wrote on May 17:
“As ex-President Putin settles in to his new role as Prime Minister, he has every reason to congratulate himself. After all, he has not only written the script for his constitutional coup d’etat, but staged the play and given himself the starring role as well. Of course, he has given a walk-on role to Dmitry Medvedev, his personally anointed successor.
“But the transfer of power from Putin to his Little Sir Echo, Medvedev, and the show of military strength with those soldiers and clapped-out missiles in Red Square on Victory Day which followed it last week, made it clear who is really in charge. No decision of any significance for the Russian people or the rest of us will be made in the foreseeable future without the say – so of Medvedev’s unsmiling master…
“Despite the fact that Putin’s Russia is increasingly autocratic and irredeemably corrupt, the man himself – their born-again Tsar – is overwhelmingly regarded as the answer to the nation’s prayers. Russia has a bloody and tormented history. Its centuries of suffering – its brutalities, its wars and revolutions, culminating in the collapse of communism and the anarchic buffoonery of the Yeltsin years – have taken a terrible psychological toll. Cynicism and fatalism which eat away at the human psyche have wormed their way into the very DNA of the Russian soul. In a nation that has not tasted and – with very few exceptions – does not expect or demand justice or freedom, all that matters is stability and security. And, to a degree, Putin has delivered these twin blessings. But the price has been exorbitant…
“An autocratic and resurgent Russia that feels bruised and threatened is an unstable beast. The Kremlin’s growing rapprochement with Beijing (the adversaries of a generation ago are now not only major trading partners, but conduct joint military exercises) shifts the balance of power in the world. And as life on earth becomes less and less secure, with evermore people competing for a dwindling supply of vital resources, Russia, as an energy giant, is once again a big player on the world stage. Make no mistake, we are in for a very bumpy ride.”
Catholic Church Must “Evangelize,” Pope Says
Zenit wrote in May 18:
“The evangelizing mission of the Church remains ‘urgent and necessary,’ Benedict XVI told members of the general assembly of the Pontifical Missionary Works… he reaffirmed that ‘the whole Church is missionary by nature’ and that ‘mission regards all Christians.’… [He] invited every local Church to collaborate with other Churches, becoming the interpreter of a ‘mission of communion.’ ‘… Mission is a duty about which one must say “Woe to me if I do not evangelize” (1 Corinthians 9:16),’ the Pope added, citing the words of the Apostle Paul…”
Will the Adoration of “the Virgin Mary” Unite Catholics and Protestants?
Catholic.Net reported the following in its February-March 2008 edition:
“When Anglicans and Catholics agreed in May 2005 that Marian dogmas were consonant with Scripture, few guessed the accord would signal a veritable Marian regeneration. Yet, in the nearly three years that have followed, the increasing acceptance of Mary among Christians has been witnessed in everything from theology to pop culture… Mary’s inspiration has been most spectacular, however, in the process of conversion.
“In a move that amazed evangelical Protestants and Catholics alike, and continues to rock Christian blogs, Francis Beckwith resigned his high-profile post as president of the Evangelical Theological Society, revealing that he was returning to full communion with the Catholic Church… ‘Many Protestants are asking: Can we honor Mary in a way that’s not so adoring as Catholics but acknowledges that she was the greatest Christian?’ he said… ‘The necessity of the Immaculate Conception protects the Church from second-guessing Christ’s divinity and humanity; it protects us against Docetism and Arianism. Evangelicals are realizing this’… Protestants have returned to the Church Fathers with renewed vigor to understand the devotion proper to Mary.”
The Bible prophesies that most Christian denominations WILL unite with the Roman Catholic Church. They will adopt Roman Catholic teaching, and they will acknowledge the pope as their spiritual leader. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.” Also, note the next article on Pastor Hagee’s apology to the Catholic Church.
Hagee Apologizes for Anti-Catholic Remarks
The Associated Press reported on May 13:
“John Hagee, an influential Texas televangelist who endorsed John McCain, apologized to Catholics Tuesday for his stinging criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and for having ’emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews.’
“Hagee’s support for McCain has drawn cries of outrage from some Catholic leaders who have called on McCain to reject Hagee’s endorsement. The likely Republican nominee has said he does not agree with some of Hagee’s past comments, but did not reject his support. In a letter to William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, Hagee wrote: ‘Out of a desire to advance a greater unity among Catholics and evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful.’…
“Hagee has cited the Inquisition and the Crusades as evidence of anti-Semitism within the Catholic church and has suggested that Catholic anti-Semitism shaped Adolf Hitler’s views of Jews. ‘In my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms, I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholics and Protestant relations with the Jews,'” Hagee wrote. ‘In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition defines the Catholic Church. It most certainly does not.”
“Hagee has often made references to ‘the apostate church’ and the ‘great whore,’ terms that Catholics say are slurs aimed at the Roman Catholic Church. In his letter, Hagee said he now better understood that the Book of Revelation’s reference to the Catholic Church as ‘the apostate church’ and the ‘great whore’ are ‘a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary.’ He stressed that in his use, ‘neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church.’…
“In a statement posted in the Catholic League’s Web site, Donohue added: ‘What Hagee has done takes courage and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns.'”
Frankenstein in the Making…
Times On Line wrote on May 19:
“British scientists will be allowed to research devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s using human-animal embryos, after the House of Commons tonight rejected a ban.
“An amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would have outlawed the creation of ‘human admixed embryos’ for medical research was defeated in a free vote by a majority of 160… A second amendment, that would have banned the creation… of ‘true hybrids’ made by fertilising an animal egg with human sperm, or vice-versa, was also defeated by a majority of 63.”
Gay Marriages–A Blessing or a Curse?
AFP reported on May 17:
“California’s Supreme Court quashed a ban on gay marriage in a historic ruling here Thursday, effectively leaving same-sex couples in America’s most populous state free to tie the knot. In an opinion that analysts say could have nationwide implications for the issue, the seven-member panel voted 4-3 in favor of plaintiffs who argued that restricting marriage to men and women was discriminatory. ‘Limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute,’ California Chief Justice Ron George said in the written opinion…
“Legal analysts say Thursday’s court ruling could have wide-ranging implications for other US states, noting the California Supreme Court’s history of landmark rulings. ‘The California Supreme Court’s example is often emulated and it often is sort of a groundbreaker,’ said David Cruz, a law professor at the University of Southern California and an expert in constitutional law. ‘In the 20th century California was the first state to strike down laws against inter-racial marriage. They did that 19 years before the US Supreme Court got around to it.'”
Reuters added on May 17:
“As gay and lesbian couples made plans to marry, activists opposed to the California Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage said on Friday they would escalate efforts for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexuals. An amendment to the state constitution would override Thursday’s decision, which superseded state laws from 1977 and 2000 that defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. Californians could vote in November on an amendment cementing that definition in the state constitution.”
An appalling article and “commentary” was published on May 18 by Erica Jung on the left-liberal Website of HuffingtonPost.com, stating:
“I’ve never understood the objection to gay marriage… In the past, gay people had to adopt their lovers to leave them their goodies… All sorts of legal mumbo-jumbo was required because marriage was forbidden. And why? Because a BIGOTED OLD BIBLE SEEMED TO IMPLY that God made Adam and Eve — not Adam and Steve — as the anti-gay faction likes to say.
“I’ve often found that gay people are better at marriage than straight people. They don’t get all bent out of shape about sex for sex’s sake. At least this is true for gay men. And they don’t run to bust up a perfectly cozy union because one member of the couple — or both — has a fling. Some couples are faithful and some not. And they seem to practice this without the territoriality and hypocrisy of mixed-sex couples. Actually, THEY SHOULD BE OUR ROLE MODELS IN MARRIAGE. They take it far more seriously than straight people — perhaps because it was forbidden for so long.
“So hurrah for California and Massachusetts. Let’s hope the anti-gay lunatic fringe eventually sees GAY MARRIAGE IS A BLESSING not a curse. It certainly PROMOTES STABILITY AND FAMILY. AND IT’S CERTAINLY GOOD FOR KIDS.”
Of course, in our liberal Western society, it has become increasingly unpopular to uphold the STANDARDS OF THE BIBLE. It is much safer and acceptable to embrace opinions like the one above. But let us ask this question: What has our nation come to when unbiblical and ungodly opinions like the one quoted above become accepted? The Bible calls marriage a blessing and condemns sexual relationships outside the sanctity of marriage. The Apostle Paul said very clearly that no practicing homosexual will inherit the Kingdom of God! No left-winged liberal commentator, calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20), will change the mind of Almighty God.
No wonder that the Bible has this to say about our modern western societies, and especially the United States of America, Canada and Great Britain:
“Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked Him to anger… They have turned away backward… The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints… Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good…” (Isaiah 1:4-5, 16-17).
If you want to learn the TRUTH of God in this matter, rather than the human philosophy of misguided commentators, newspaper reporters and newscasters, politicians, sociologists, lawyers and judges, please read our free booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families.”
Would you please explain Paul's statement in Philippians 1:15-16, 18? Why did Paul rejoice when ministers preached Christ "from envy and strife," "selfish ambition," "in pretense" and "not sincerely"?
Philippians 1:12-18 reads, in context:
“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ EVEN FROM ENVY AND STRIFE, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ FROM SELFISH AMBITION, NOT SINCERELY, supposing to add infliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether IN PRETENSE or in truth, CHRIST IS PREACHED; and in this I REJOICE, YES, AND WILL REJOICE.”
We see from the context of the passage that the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached even by those who did so with improper motives. Paul did not address a situation when a false Christ or a false gospel was preached. He pronounced a CURSE on all those who did or would be doing so (Galatians 1:6-9; compare 2 Corinthians 11:4). Here, ministers preached the truth–but some preached the truth with improper motives!
WHY did Paul rejoice, then? He did NOT rejoice over the fact that those ministers had improper motives–but he DID rejoice that the true gospel was preached. There is a FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE: The preaching of the gospel helped OTHERS, who heard the truth–but it did NOT help those ministers who preached “from selfish ambition” and “in pretense.”
Some–if not many–ministers in the modern Church of God did preach the gospel to others at one time, but they did NOT do so with a true and sincere heart. They might have acted in that way as part of their job description with their human organization–acting within the course and scope of their employment–to secure or maintain a paying job and/or to just gain prestige within the Church. But when the time of trial and testing came, they failed miserably, leaving the truth behind and adopting error and apostasy (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:3-4)–again sometimes in order to maintain their job or their “position.” They were not sincere to begin with–they were mere hirelings (compare John 10:11-13). Sadly, this is still true today for some. There are those who taught the truth; subsequently adopted error and taught heresy; lost their job with their employer who propagated such apostasy; had a sudden “awakening”; got employed by another Church organization; and “rediscovered” the truth which they are now teaching. BUT, is it wrong to ask: HOW SINCERE were they then, and HOW SINCERE are they now?
What we have been observing in recent years in the Church of God is not different from what Paul is describing in the first chapter of the letter to the Philippians. Yes, as Paul rejoiced then, so we should rejoice today when the truth is being preached–but this does NOT in any way exculpate or justify those who preach the truth with IMPROPER motives.
The Life Application Bible explains Philippians 1 as follows:
“Paul had an amazingly selfless attitude. He knew that some were preaching to build their own reputations, taking advantage of Paul’s imprisonment to try to make a name for themselves. Regardless of the motives of these preachers, Paul rejoiced that the gospel was being preached. Some Christians serve for the wrong reasons. Paul wouldn’t condone, nor does God excuse, their motives, but we should be glad if God uses their message regardless of their motives.”
The Nelson Study Bible adds:
“Those preaching from envy and strife were not heretics… But apparently they were jealous of the attention Paul received, and they determined to sow seeds of dissension in order to cause him trouble.”
Note, too, the following comments from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:
“… [These ministers did not act because] of ‘envy’ to Christ, whom they preached, but of envy to the apostle; they envied his gifts, his usefulness and success in the ministry; and he being now in bonds, they thought it a proper opportunity to exert themselves… hoping they should meet with the same success, and gain great honour and applause in the church…”
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible elaborates:
“It would seem… there was a party which was jealous of the influence of Paul, and which supposed that this was a good opportunity to diminish his influence, and to strengthen their own cause…”
The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agrees, stating:
“Some indeed [were] preaching Christ even for envy, that is, to carry out the envy which they felt towards Paul… they wished through envy to transfer the credit of its progress from him to themselves.”
Finally, The Broadman Bible Commentary gives the following succinct explanation:
“There is no hint that Paul’s rivals were considered heretical… in question was not the soundness of their gospel but their motives. These may have been jealous of the attention given Paul, even as a prisoner… Presumably Paul’s opponents thought that their success would afflict Paul by making him jealous. To the contrary, Paul could rejoice that they at least proclaimed Christ, even if for unworthy motives. This is not to discount the importance of motive, but it is to recognize that the gospel has its own power even when proclaimed by people lacking in motive and character.”
Jesus Christ faced a very similar kind of issue during His ministry. He constantly warned about the approach of the scribes and Pharisees; however, He also recognized that they were fulfilling a role for which God would hold them accountable:
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; FOR THEY SAY, AND DO NOT DO'” (Matthew 23:1-3).
The preaching of those ministers of Paul’s day might in fact have helped others—but it did not do THEM any good. The same can be said today. True ministers of God must preach the gospel and feed the flock with a pure and clean heart–their motives must be sincere and in furtherance of the Will of God. Ministers are not to look for prestige and human glory; they are not to embrace titles that are reserved for God; or which they are not qualified to possess. Still, if and when the truth is preached, we should rejoice–but we should not, even in our minds, justify their wrong motives and REASONS for preaching the gospel–including such motives as pride, self-aggrandizement, envy towards others, recognition within the Church or community; or the desire for a position and a well-paid job.
For more information and further discussion on Philippians 1 and related passages, please watch our recent sermon, which is posted on Google Video, titled, “Envy – A Deadly Poison”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Norbert and Johanna Link traveled to Portland, Oregon, this week to visit brethren in the area. Long time member and deacon, Paul Voss, is suffering from terminal cancer, and the Links were able to visit the Voss family. The health of Mr. Voss is extremely fragile, and prayers on his behalf as well as for his family are deeply appreciated.
This is a brief report regarding our Internet advertisement campaign in the USA. We have sent out so far in excess of 80 copies of our booklet on “Human Suffering;” over 35 copies of our booklet on “The Mysteries of the Bible,” and over 95 copies of our booklet on “And Lawlessness Will Abound.” Over 70 people requested to be placed on our email list for receipt of our weekly Update.
The following video-recorded sermon by Norbert Link has been posted on Google Video:
Bible Study: Envy–A Deadly Poison (May 17, 2008)
Eric and Shana Rank are happy to announce the birth of their second son, Nolan Sterling Rank. Nolan was born on May 19th, 2008 at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, CO without complication. The Rank family is currently home and enjoying the warmth and glee of a newborn child.
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