|Live Services||With God|
|Editorial||A Good Report|
|Q&A||Who preserved the New Testament?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
On Saturday, January 17, 2009, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “With God.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
A Good Report
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Rather unusually, I would like to dedicate this Editorial to a very close friend who recently died. We can always learn from the lives of others. This is why biographies and autobiographies are written, read and dissected by millions of people around the world. The Bible is full of examples of people whom we can imitate (compare 1 Corinthians 11:1).
The person I want to mention here was neither famous nor rich, nor did he hold an high office. He was a caring, unassuming man, dedicated to serving others, but with a charisma that made him likeable and popular with those who knew him.
Terry McQuire died in early December of 2008. As a Church member since the early 1960’s, he had seen much change in the Church, particularly after the death of Mr. Herbert Armstrong in 1986. He was fond of quoting the fact that we must have a love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), and he certainly exemplified that most important requirement.
Like Ananias (Acts 22:12), Terry had a “good report” (Authorized Version). He was “highly respected” (New International Version) and “highly spoken of” by others (New American Bible). Neighbors had a “high opinion” of him (Bible in Basic English), as he “bore a good character” with them (Weymouth New Testament).
Our “good report” can be from those who may not necessarily agree with our religious views, but who can see our sincerity and that we live our lives without hypocrisy.
Anyone who knew Terry would testify that he was very much like Nathanael of whom Jesus said: “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47, Authorized Version).
Terry was generous and service-orientated. He was gentle and loyal. He unquestionably had the attributes that make a true Christian. We so often look at the great and not-so-great men and women in the Bible to learn from their successes and failures. We can, likewise, do the same with our peers, and Terry, while not perfect, certainly provided us with a terrific example.
Could our legacy from those who knew us be one of having had a love of the truth and a good report among men, and that there was no guile in us? That we were generous with a service-orientated approach, and that we were unassuming, gentle and loyal? If so, we would have done very well.
Terry endured to the end (Matthew 24:13). He is now awaiting his reward. It was inspiring to see him cope with his terminal illness, with his faith intact and undiminished in any way. He waited on God’s decision on whether or not he would be healed at this time, and he accepted the result unquestioningly. That’s another good example which all of us should follow.
You might want to listen to the last public interview with Terry, which was recorded for our StandingWatch program, just two months before he died. It is titled, “Comfort in Terminal Sickness.” When you watch this program, you will see why Terry was a man worth remembering.
This Week in the News
War in the Middle East
In this week’s Update, we are mainly reporting on the situation in the Middle East, and worldwide reactions to this crisis. All of these events ARE clearly in line with biblical prophecy.
While the war in Gaza continues, the overwhelming worldwide reaction has become one of CONDEMNATION of Israel. Demands for a cease fire get louder, but the warring parties don’t show any signs of listening. A report last week by the New York Times, stating that Israel was allegedly willing to attack IRAN directly last year, but did not get the green light from the USA, has raised concerns as to what Israel was and is willing to do. This is even more true specially in light of most recent news reports that Israel is preparing a strike against Iran within a few DAYS!!!
On the other hand, Iran is clearly involved in the present conflict between Israel and Hamas, and its destructive ambitions towards Israel must not be underestimated.
The Bible tells us that Israel will be hated by all nations. In addition, more and more voices are being heard now demanding a European intervention in the Middle East–again underscoring biblical prophecy announcing in advance that Europe will send TROOPS to the Middle East just prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
In light of all these worldwide crises, the EU is becoming more and more serious about the appointment of an EU President with REAL powers. And it is being considered that he should be selected from one of the BIGGER EU states! The Bible prophesies that such a powerful European leader being, of German descent, WILL ultimately manifest himself on the world scene. (See our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”)
We conclude this section with articles on the terrible financial situation in the USA. And this, too, is in line with biblical prophecies which predict that the USA will lose its status as a world superpower. (See our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”)
We are observing how prophecy is being fulfilled. It is exciting and at the same time sobering how quickly these events are shaping up… and God’s Church has a duty, of course, to report these developments in no uncertain terms. Not everyone will agree with what we write–but we are not in a popularity contest. Rather, we are conscious of the commission which God has given His end-time Church to carry out.
Israel Losing Public Relations War
The Financial Times reported on January 10:
“As Israel’s offensive in Gaza enters its third week, the Jewish state appears to be rapidly losing the public relations war abroad as criticism from United Nations officials and humanitarian agencies has mounted amid the constant stream of pictures of dead and wounded women and children.
“Israeli strikes on UN convoys and schools sheltering hundreds of Palestinians who fled their homes, as well allegations that Israeli troops prevented medical workers from retrieving dead and injured Palestinians, have increasingly called into question Israel’s conduct of the war.
“A UN agency added to the increasing negative news flow with a report that cited witness testimony alleging that Israeli troops evacuated Palestinian civilians to a house in Gaza City and then repeatedly shelled the building 24 hours later, killing some 30 people inside.
“And from the outset, Israel has been under fire for preventing foreign journalists from entering the strip – restrictions that were in place weeks before the bombardment started.
“‘… all [of this has] been hugely detrimental to the Israeli cause,’ said Charlie Beckett, a media specialist at the London School of Economics. ‘The fact that the Israelis seem to be trying to blockade the media only hurts their argument that they are somehow more democratic, more open and not terrorists.’
“Israel officials have insisted they regret civilian deaths and have accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields. They have also sought to highlight the threat posed by rockets fired by Palestinian militants into southern Israel – which have killed three Israelis since the offensive started – saying some 950,000 Israelis are vulnerable to attacks. But analysts say the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza overwhelms the impact.
“Anthony Cordesman, at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says Israel has failed to talk to the world ‘in ways that the outside world finds relevant. We are now two weeks into the war and nobody has a clear idea what the Israelis are attempting to accomplish,’ he says…
“Still, an Israeli newspaper poll on Friday showed that 91 per cent of Israeli Jews were still in favour of the war… But for Israel losing the propaganda war could be costly.”
U.N. and France Condemn Israel
The Associated Press reported on January 15:
“Israel shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, engulfing the compound and a warehouse in fire and destroying thousands of pounds of food and humanitarian supplies intended for Palestinian refugees.”
It added in a related article:
“U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel’s devastating offensive against the territory’s Hamas rulers. Ban expressed ‘outrage’ over the bombing. He said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told him there had been a ‘grave mistake’ and promised to pay extra attention to protecting U.N. installations…”
Press TV reported on January 15:
“The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday issued strong condemnation of Tel Aviv over its targeting of several hospitals, a UN compound and a media building in the Gaza Strip… The comments come on the 20th day of the Tel Aviv offensive into the coastal sliver. So far at least 1,100 Palestinians have been killed and around 4,700 others have been wounded, according to medics.”
Most Germans Blame Israel at Least in Part for the War in Gaza
Deutsche Welle reported on January 14:
“Germany is split over its feelings towards Israel, according to a new survey. Of those questioned, 60 per cent thought the country no longer had a special duty towards the Jewish state… The figures… showed less engagement amongst young people, of whom 70 percent felt no special responsibility towards Israel…
“Questioned about the Gaza conflict, 30 percent held Hamas responsible for the current military offensive. Some 13 percent blamed Israel, while 35 percent said the causes lie on both sides in equal measure…
“More generally, 49 percent considered Israel to be an aggressive country. A further 10 percent said Israel was acting without regard for other countries. Only 30 percent of those surveyed thought Israel was respecting human rights.”
Israel Angers Bush Administration
The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 14:
“Ehud Olmert’s aides on Wednesday said that the prime minister stood by his claim that his intervention made the US abstain from last Thursday’s UN Security Council resolution vote on a Gaza cease-fire… Olmert had claimed that US President George W. Bush broke off a speech he was giving in Philadelphia to take his call, and that the abstention embarrassed Rice…
“Israel and the US engaged in a rare and uncharacteristic public spat Tuesday over events leading up to the UN vote… State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Olmert’s story of what happened in his conversation with Bush was ‘just 100 percent, totally, completely not true’…
“McCormack said that Rice had decided as early as Wednesday that she would not veto a resolution, after Arab ministers rejected an initial effort by the US to push for a weaker presidential statement from the Security Council. That left her with the option of either voting for the final text or abstaining…
“Middle East expert Steven Spiegel described the episode as ‘the worst faux pas by an Israeli prime minister in history.’
“‘You really do wonder what the prime minister was thinking – if it’s true, you’d really want to keep it as quiet as possible, and if it’s not true, why would you want to make up a story that would embarrass both the Bush administration and the Israeli government and draw criticism from those who are antagonistic to Israel?’ asked Spiegel, director of the Center for Middle East Development at UCLA. ‘No matter how you play it, exaggeration, falsehood, whole truth, the whole thing makes them all look bad,’ Spiegel told The Jerusalem Post.”
European Anti-Israel Demonstrations
The EUObserver wrote on January 12:
“Hundreds of thousands marched in cities across the [European] continent to protest Israel’s war on Gaza over the weekend in the biggest pan-European demonstrations the continent has seen since those against the launch of the Iraq war in 2003…
“Massive protests… took place in London, Brussels and throughout France. Sizeable demonstrations also took place in German and Italian cities, as well as Athens, Thessaloniki, Budapest, Bregenz, Oslo and Stockholm. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, the first European leader to take part in such rallies, addressed a protest in Ourense…
“In the UK, 100,000 filled Hyde Park in London… Around 123,000 people took part in protests throughout France… Germany, home to some of Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe, was not immune, with 40,000 taking part in protests across the country, despite temperatures below zero, although most German politicians and trade union leaders were noticeable by their absence…
“The weekend also saw a handful of rallies supporting the Jewish state’s assault on Gaza, with 3,000 in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, 4,000 in Marseille, some 800 in Antwerp and a sizeable crowd of 200 in Prague.
“Two large pro-Israel rallies also took place in London and Manchester on Sunday. The estimated between 4,000 and 15,000 in Trafalgar Square raised a sea of Israeli and British flags and was addressed by Labour MPs. Another 2,000 showed their solidarity with Israel outside Manchester’s town hall.”
Articles like these show the growing anti-Israeli position around the world, a “handful” of some pro-Israeli voices notwithstanding–except, interestingly enough, for a larger pro-Israeli demo in Britain. But we also read in the Bible that Ephraim–Great Britain–will finally be taking a stance against Judah–the state of Israel.
The above-quoted article said that Germany was the “home to some of Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe.” This might be the official position of some governmental leaders and the politically accurate representations within the German main-stream press, but this is NOT the position of most German PEOPLE.
Holy See Advocates International Intervention in the Middle East
Zenit wrote on January 12:
“The warring parties in the Middle East cannot get out of the circle of violence on their own, and so they need international help, says the Holy See [adding that]… the international community… should therefore fulfill its responsibilities [and] intervene actively to stop the bloodshed, provide access for emergency humanitarian assistance, and end all forms of confrontation.”
In Need–A Real European President
The Financial Times wrote on January 11:
“Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister, is re-emerging as a possible choice to be the European Union’s first full-time president after four momentous crises reinforced the argument for having a high-profile international personality in the job… the sheer scale of the challenges facing the EU – from last August’s Russia-Georgia war and the global financial meltdown to the Gaza conflict and the shutdown of Russian gas deliveries to Europe – is redefining the debate.
“Whereas last year Germany and other countries looked favorably on candidates such as Jean-Claude Juncker, the long-serving prime minister of Luxembourg, more policymakers now feel the EU presidency demands an occupant from a much bigger member-state.”
How Iran Directs Its “Spiritual Little Brothers” Hamas and Hezbollah
The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 12:
“Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, an Egyptian government official said on Sunday… As soon as the Iranians heard about the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, they dispatched… two officials to Damascus on an urgent mission to warn the Palestinians against accepting it,’ the Egyptian government official told the Post.
“‘The Iranians threatened to stop weapons supplies and funding to the Palestinian factions if they agreed to a cease-fire with Israel. The Iranians want to fight Israel and the US indirectly. They are doing this through Hamas in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon…’
“The Egyptian official accused Iran of ‘encouraging’ Hamas to continue firing rockets at Israel with the hope that this would trigger a war that would divert attention from Iran’s nuclear plans. ‘This conflict serves the interests of the Iranians,’ he said. ‘They are satisfied because the violence in the Gaza Strip has diverted attention from their nuclear ambitions.'”
In addition, The Associated Press reported about Hezbollah’s involvement on January 10:
“Nearly 20,000 people marched through the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh in a protest organized by the militant Hezbollah group, a strong ally of Hamas that fought its own war with Israel in the summer of 2006.”
CAN Israel Win Against Iran’s Proxy Hamas?
This week’s edition of Time Magazine published the following words on its cover: “Why Israel Can’t Win. The siege of Gaza may punish Hamas, but it won’t make Israel safe. Why it is in peril like never before.”
Inside the magazine, an article with this headline was published: “Can Israel Survive Its Assault on Gaza?” In the article, it was stated:
“Israeli politicians and generals know that the total elimination of Hamas’ entrenched military command could take weeks; it might be altogether impossible. The more realistic outcome is an unsatisfactory, brokered truce that leaves Hamas wounded but alive and able to regenerate — and Israel only temporarily safe from attack.
“Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has promised a ‘war to the bitter end.’ But after 60 years of struggle to defend their existence against foreign threats and enemies within, many Israelis may be wondering, Where does that end lie? The threat posed by Hamas is only the most immediate of the many interlocking challenges facing Israel, some of which cast dark shadows over the long-term viability of a democratic Jewish state. The offensive in Gaza may degrade Hamas’ ability to menace southern Israel with rocket fire, but, as with Israel’s 2006 war against Hizballah, the application of force won’t extinguish the militants’ ideological fervor.
“The anti-Israeli anger swelling in the region has made it more difficult for Arab governments to join Israel in its efforts to deal with Iran, the patron of both Hamas and Hizballah and a state whose leaders have sworn to eliminate Israel and appear determined to acquire nuclear weapons…
“But there’s something tragic, too, in Israel’s predicament: in any confrontation with its enemies, it is damned if it does and doomed if it doesn’t. Across Israel’s political spectrum there seems to be a consensus that Hamas’ provocative rocket barrages could not go unanswered — though whether Israel’s response has been proportional to the threat is, at the least, questionable…
“After weeks of global outrage over the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza, any mediator — France, the European Union, Turkey and Egypt are all auditioning for the role — will insist that Israel end its 18-month blockade. What then? Like Hizballah, Hamas will declare itself victorious…”
Israel to Strike Iran Within DAYS???
Newsmax.com wrote on January 12:
“Informed sources in Washington tell Newsmax that Israel indeed will launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities soon – possibly in just days as President George W. Bush prepares to leave office. The reason: The time clock has begun to run out. Iran is close to acquiring a nuclear device under the control of its radical president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in June that Iran would have a nuclear weapon in as little as six months. That six-month period has passed.
“Reports of Israel’s decision to imminently launch strikes, although unconfirmed, would seem to contradict the Bush stance outlined in a front-page New York Times story last week, which asserted that Bush rejected a plea from Israel last year to help it raid Iran’s main nuclear complex. The Times said Israel was rebuffed after it requested from the U.S. specialized bunker-busting bombs that it needs to attack Iran’s nuclear complex at Natanz. The U.S. also reportedly nixed permission to the Israeli warplanes to fly over Iraqi territory to reach Iran…
“Last year 100 Israeli jets took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean that was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran. And on Sept. 6 Israel launched an air attack against a site in Syria believed to be a nuclear-related facility containing material delivered by North Korea.
“Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton predicted that Israel would stage a raid against Iran’s nuclear facilities if Barack Obama won the presidential election. Bolton stated that he believed the Israeli attack would take place sometime between the day after Obama’s win and his inauguration on January 20. In an interview with FOX News, Bolton reasoned that Israel wouldn’t be able to hold off a strike on Iran any longer than that given Obama’s more conciliatory approach to Iran…
“William Perry, U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, said that Obama would face a major crisis in his first few months in office over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Perry, speaking at a foreign policy conference on Jan. 8, said that Iran is ‘moving inexorably toward becoming a nuclear power’ and ‘it seems clear that Israel will not sit by idle while Iran takes the final steps toward becoming a nuclear power’…
“Iran, even without nuclear weapons, is a regional power. If attacked, they are likely to press proxy terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to launch offensives against Israel and possibly the U.S. Iran has warned in the past that it would launch a ‘missile blitz’ against Gulf states if it is attacked. And last July a senior Iranian official said the Islamic Republic would destroy Israel and 32 U.S. military bases in the Middle East if Iran is attacked over its nuclear program… Even more ominously, Iran has reportedly carried out missile tests for what could be a plan for a nuclear strike on the U.S.”
“U.S. Economy on Brink of Disaster”
Newsmax reported on January 12:
“When ‘IOUSA’ made its documentary film debut last August, it soon earned the sobriquet ‘fiscal wake-up tour.’ Its unrelenting gloom toted up a $9 trillion federal debt, a $738.6 billion trade deficit, and the news that each U.S. citizen now owes $30,000.
“But all the stats are already hopelessly out of date… Fiscal irresponsibility is now a calamitous cycle that poses a bigger threat than al-Qaida and its plans to attack the United States with a weapon of mass destruction…
“Today, counting all those who have dropped off unemployment rolls for part-time work or no work, 21 million Americans are either jobless or underemployed. Average workweeks also are being cut back. Some employers now shorten workweeks as a way to keep some on the payroll. And as the baby boomer generation begins to retire, ‘IOUSA’ asks if there will even be any Social Security benefits left to collect.
“Overextended entitlement programs and debts to foreign countries are becoming impossible to honor… The United States has mortgaged its future to foreigners with promises to its own people it can’t possibly keep. China, with $1.3 trillion in U.S. paper, could decide its strategic interest is no longer compatible with America’s — and quit as America’s banker…
“Overspending still dominates the lives of U.S. citizens. The Chinese save 35 percent of what they earn; Americans save less than 1 percent, the lowest of any developed country… Americans are now shocked to see their 401(k) retirement savings accounts losing their allure, as many employers say they no longer can afford matching funds. The government, for its part, is taking in more than it can pay out.”
More Banks in Trouble and Stocks Take a Dive
Reuters reported on January 15:
“Shares of Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc plummeted Thursday on worries the banks may need more government help to handle soaring credit losses… Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank, is seeking billions of dollars of new aid after realizing that credit losses at Merrill Lynch & Co, which it bought on January 1, were much higher than expected… Citigroup, the No. 3 U.S. bank, is expected on Friday to report a fifth straight multibillion-dollar quarterly loss… Even Wells Fargo & Co, which just bought troubled Wachovia Corp and has long been considered among the best-managed large banks, was hit, falling $3.90, or 16.9 percent, to $19.17.”
The Associated Press wrote on January 15:
“On Wednesday, stocks took a dive reminiscent of the terrifying jumps and drops of last fall, with the Dow Jones industrials falling more than 300 points before closing down 248. It was the Dow’s biggest point drop since Dec. 1 and the first string of six straight down days since early October…
“Holiday sales turned out to have been worse than expected, the jobless rate exceeds 7 percent for the first time in 16 years, the global economy is eroding faster and corporations from Alcoa to Intel to Wal-Mart have disappointed investors. Apple was the latest company out with bad news Wednesday, with CEO Steve Jobs saying he is taking a medical leave of absence.
“‘Right now we just don’t have any evidence to show that that free fall is over,’ said Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.”
Who preserved the New Testament?
As a first step in answering this question, we need to consider what the New Testament is. Why is there even such a collection of books and letters that report on events from the first century A.D.? Are these merely the random writings of an influential religious movement that have found their way into the literature of the present time?
Or, as the New Testament claims for itself, is this part of the inspired Word of God? Understanding who preserved the New Testament adds even more proof about the unquestionable authority of this part of the Bible that we now possess!
What is the New Testament? Consider the following summary statement given in the “Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible,” Herbert Lockyer, Sr., Editor, 1986:
“…the second major division of the Bible. It tells of the life and ministry of Jesus and the growth of the early church. The word testament is best translated as ‘covenant.’ The New Testament embodies the new covenant of which Jesus was Mediator (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 9:15)…
“The 27 books of the New Testament were formally adopted as the New Testament canon by the Synod of Carthage in A.D. 397, thus confirming three centuries of usage by the church.”
This traditional overview of the New Testament places formal acceptance of the “books” as occurring some three hundred years after the lives of the apostles and of their contemporaries. However, this selection, done by what had become the Catholic Church, is merely an example of a religious organization choosing to accept what already existed—much as did later movements within “Christianity,” such as Protestantism.
Earlier, history of the Church established by Jesus Christ, through His chosen ministry, also shows the source of the writings we now have in the canon of the New Testament. An important test of what truly constitutes the inspired Word of God is true for both the Old and New Testaments:
“…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:15-16).
To this end, individuals inspired by God wrote the record of the life of Jesus Christ, the founding of the Church and the subsequent growth of the faith of Christianity, along with instructions concerning the doctrines of God. We must note that the New Testament also contains the record of false teachers with deceiving doctrines beginning to infiltrate the body of true worshippers of God and Jesus Christ:
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).
Along with this stern rebuke from Paul, others whose letters became a part of the New Testament, recorded warnings and admonitions concerning a growing departure from the original faith (compare 2 Peter 2; 1 John 4:1-6; 3 John 1:9-12, and the letter of Jude).
Additionally, carefully note what Peter said, showing that in his lifetime it was necessary to warn the brethren—and this message was written down in order that it would endure beyond his own lifetime:
“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease” (2 Peter 1:12-15).
While most people who study the history of the Bible agree that the canon—that is, the entire New Testament as commonly accepted—is complete, the fact is that the preservation of these writings was first accomplished by the Church of God that began on the Day of Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit of God in 31 A.D. And while the Church grew with powerful impact in the decades that followed, nonetheless, heresy arose to such an extent that the next century records a much different kind of Christianity. Note what Jesse Lyman Hurlbut states in his book, “The Story of the Christian Church,” 1967, page 33:
“For 50 years after… Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of… Peter and… Paul.”
In fact, the true and faithful Christians all but disappeared from the annals of history in those times. These followers of the true faith depended on the copies of the letters that were to become a part of the New Testament, which they continued to preserve through hand-written documents. As already mentioned, the Roman Church was able to avail itself of long existing copies of the New Testament books several centuries later.
A very poignant example of multiple copies of a part of the New Testament being distributed among various congregations is found in the Book of Revelation. The resurrected Jesus Christ is quoted by John as saying: “‘…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: To Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea’” (Revelation 1:11).
If we are to believe that John carried out what he was instructed to do, then we know that this information went to these churches—and, since they received this inspired “book” of Revelation, they then were instrumental in preserving it. The very intent of this book is primarily focused on the future and was to be preserved for our time—prophesying of events leading to the return of Jesus Christ (For further explanation, please read our free booklet: “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation!”).
Other letters were commonly circulated among the churches (compare 2 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27). However, not all of these “letters” were genuine (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). In fact, this very process of writing letters continued well past the lifetime of the first generation of the apostles. Spurious writings made claims to inspiration on par with that of the New Testament books; however, when closely examined for authorship and for agreement with foundational biblical teachings, these documents were eventually rejected.
Beyond the rather blurry record that marks the transition of the early Christian faith into history’s background and the subsequent emergence of the Roman Catholic Church, another factor supersedes in accounting for Who preserved the New Testament. The real Author of the inspired writings of the New Testament also has sustained His written Word throughout the ages. The proof of this statement is found in the words of Jesus Christ, when He said, “‘Sanctify them [set them apart] by Your truth, Your word is truth’” (John 17:17); and, “‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away’” (Matthew 24:35; also, compare parallel statements)—1 Peter 1:23, 25).
These Scriptures, along with many others, point to the fact that the New Testament record would be preserved. For instance, another quote from Jesus shows that His teachings would come before all men in all generations: “‘He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day’” (John 12:48).
Consider one final answer as to who preserved the New Testament. The teachings of Christianity became a Way of life for those who embraced what they learned! Note this statement by Paul: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13; also, compare a parallel statement in 1 John 2:5).
By taking to heart their calling to salvation, the faithful of countless generations have helped sustain and preserve a true understanding of the written Word of God. That same responsibility now falls upon us—we, too, must endeavor to uphold the teachings we have been given, just as those who helped to preserve the New Testament: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, HAVE KEPT MY WORD, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8).
Lead Writer: Dave Harris
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
New StandingWatch programs and sermons in English and German
A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch, GoogleVideo and YouTube. It is titled, “Israel’s Unpopular War in Gaza.” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the fact that while Israel and Hamas continue their fighting, civilians are suffering the most. Europe has warned Israel that it is destroying its image and prestige. Aid agencies blame Israel for a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Europe is considering sending troops to the Middle East, if peaceful solutions cannot be found. What does all of this mean?
Norbert Link’s new sermon, “Converting Others? Why Not!,” which was given on December 10, 2009, has been posted on Google Video.
A new StandingWatch program, dealing with the war in Gaza, was posted on our German Website and on YouTube.
Two new German sermons, addressing the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments (“Der Sabbat und die Zehn Gebote“), as well as the annual Holy Days (“Gottes Heilige Festtage“), were posted on Google Video and on our German Website.
Recent Comments from our StandingWatch Viewers
Israel’s Unpopular War in Gaza:
I appreciate the diverse references and sources you include in your updates… you won’t hear them mentioned on CNN or Fox News. It helps give a broader perspective on these world events in light of biblical prophecy.
Soon, we shall see a “charismatic” individual who will (deceivingly) bring about “Peace, Peace” … and then … we shall truly shake our heads, bow our knees and cry out to our “Abba Father”. Your comments always inspire me into deeper, meaningful Bible study ; you are continually in my prayers. Thank you from Canada.
I appreciate your news updates especially using the holy scriptures.
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