January 1, 2021
What Limits? / The Salvation of God
On January 2, 2021, Eric Rank will present the sermonette, titled, “What Limits?” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “The Salvation of God.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Has It Begun?
by Michael Link
Throughout the years we have written many articles and have given many messages about what we can expect in the upcoming year. We conclude the current year with a summary and review of what we all witnessed around the world and then we ask the question on what we can expect for the “new year.” We make mention to the fact that Christ will return soon and that we need to be prepared for that, watching what is going on in the world in relation to biblical prophecy. We have articles that were written over 10 years ago alluding to these statements, along with warnings of what the very near future is going to bring.
Even though these end-time prophecies revealed in the Bible haven’t come to pass, and we don’t know exactly when they will occur, we get more of an idea of how much closer we really are getting based on the situation we are currently in, and we can EXPECT things to get much worse. We can see just how quickly time has passed in 10 years and we can see just how quickly the world has changed in just one year. In just one year the livelihood of every individual around the globe has been affected and negatively impacted by just one virus.
The beginning of sorrows which Christ talks about in Matthew 24:4-8 is what we will be going through very shortly, yet the majority of the world doesn’t even realize it, or they do not understand what is really going to happen. We have already experienced a small taste of what is described here with deception, false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, famines, diseases, and earthquakes in various places, but this is only the beginning. Many do expect and believe that there will be an “end of the world” but how are they really preparing for it? Are they preparing like God’s people are supposed to be? I dare to say that not even 1% of the entire population in the world has any understanding of what is going to come.
That which is certain is the fact that we do not know exactly when Christ will return (Matthew 24:36). God says that a thousand years is like one day to Him as stated in 2 Peter 3:8, so imagine what only 10 years is like in God’s eyes. What we do know is that the time is going to come when God has had enough, His patience will end and Christ’s coming will not be delayed anymore, and the horrible things that are prophesied in the Bible will begin to take place.
There are so many events that still need to come to pass before Christ’s return and we are certainly witnessing at this very moment the beginning stages of sorrows. Things can develop so quickly and catch everyone off guard, which is why we can’t be slack in our responsibility to keep watching and being spiritually prepared (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4; Revelation 3:3).
We have just scratched the surface of what is imminent. So again, we ask the question, what can we expect for this upcoming year? Will it get better? Based on what we are going through presently with man’s speculative measures in “controlling” the current pandemic, it would be extremely difficult to imagine that things will go back to “normal.” This is NOT what the Bible reveals. We KNOW what is going to come and we had better make sure that we are on God’s side for OUR lives are in HIS hands.
by Norbert Link
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
The Brexit “Deal”
Business Insider wrote on December 25:
“Thursday’s historic Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU still leaves the fishing sector with many key questions unanswered, the mayor of a major French fishing port has warned… The hard-fought agreement between the two parties was resolved, agreeing to a five year transition period over fisheries after which the EU catch would have to reduce by 25%, according to the announcement on Thursday. This was a concession on the part of the UK, who had demanded a 60% fall at the start of the week…
“Despite Johnson calling the deal ‘reasonable’ for the fishing industry in Thursday’s press conference… ‘[the] industry will be bitterly disappointed that there is not more of [a] definitive break,’ Barrie Deas, chief executive of The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said… For Deas, Johnson has given in to EU demands in order to secure a deal overall, making ‘significant concessions’ in the process. ‘It was clear that Boris Johnson wanted an overall trade deal and was willing to sacrifice fishing,’ he told the Press Association.
“With what appears to be a ‘bare-bones’ deal agreed, the fishing sector is not alone in its uncertainty. Agreements are yet to be made on the services industry – the biggest sector of the UK’s economy… Even with a deal made, parts of the UK’s financial services industry remain unconvinced… The deal still needs to be approved by both the UK parliament and the sovereign states of Europe, but most commentators think it will get the green light.”
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 25:
“The British government has said it would summon MPs back to parliament on December 30 to vote on the deal… British lawmakers are likely to be unhappy with the rushed approval process. Significant legislation typically takes months to pass through parliament and involves line-by-line scrutiny. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may still face a revolt from Brexiteers in his ruling Conservative Party who don’t think the deal offers a clean enough break from Brussels. But he has an 80 seat majority in the lower parliamentary chamber, the House of Commons, and the opposition Labour party has said it would back the deal. Labour leader Keir Starmer said the agreement was thin, but it was better than no deal at all…
“… businesses will nonetheless face new red tape for imports and exports. And since the deal between the UK and EU was reached a week before the year’s end, people and businesses don’t have much time to prepare for changes coming on January 1. Meanwhile, citizens of the UK and EU will no longer be able to enjoy free movement to live, work and study between the two areas. Britons traveling to the EU’s Schengen passport-free zone can only stay for 90 days in every 180-day period. EU nationals can visit the UK for up to 180 days… But leaving the EU’s single market and customs union will undoubtedly have a negative impact on Britain’s economy.”
Worst Recession in 300 Years
CBS News wrote on December 26:
“The world is making adjustments following a new strain of the coronavirus, spreading in the United Kingdom and beyond as the country’s government says it has entered its worst recession in 300 years.”
Getting Ready for January 6
The Independent wrote on December 26:
“Donald Trump appeared to back the idea of trying to overturn the election result in Congress on 6 January in a series of tweets on Saturday morning in which he once again made… claims of electoral fraud. A joint session of House and Senate politicians will meet on 6 January to count the electoral votes, which gave a 306 to 232 victory to Joe Biden. In what is usually a rubber-stamping exercise, sealed certificates submitted by each state are opened by the vice president, who oversees the process. However, if there are written objections from members of both the House and Senate, a vote by both chambers can be triggered.
“Several Republican congressmen have said they will object. Incoming Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has suggested he might, despite GOP leader Mitch McConnell telling his party members not to. On Saturday morning, Mr Trump tweeted: ‘The “Justice” Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.’
“The tweet was immediately tagged with the phrase ‘This claim about election fraud is disputed’ by Twitter. In another tweet, also tagged as disputed, he wrote: ‘If a Democrat Presidential Candidate had an Election Rigged & Stolen, with proof of such acts at a level never seen before, the Democrat Senators would consider it an act of war, and fight to the death. Mitch & the Republicans do NOTHING, just want to let it pass. NO FIGHT!’
“A third read: ‘The U.S. Supreme Court has been totally incompetent and weak on the massive Election Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election. We have absolute PROOF, but they don’t want to see it – No “standing”, they say. If we have corrupt elections, we have no country!’
“Mr Trump then claimed his incoming successor was a ‘fake president’ and compared the 2020 election unfavourably to those held in Afghanistan. He wrote: ‘A young military man working in Afghanistan told me that elections in Afghanistan are far more secure and much better run than the USA’s 2020 Election. Ours, with its millions and millions of corrupt Mail-In Ballots, was the election of a third world country. Fake President!’…
“If Republican lawmakers do object during the vote-counting on 6 January, the ploy is unlikely to work. The rules stipulate that both chambers must vote to support the objections and the House of Representatives is controlled by the Democrats. The membership of the Senate will be decided on 5 January with two run-off elections in Georgia, where incumbent Republicans are trying to hang on to their seats. If Democrats win both, the parties will be even, with 50 senators each. In the case of tied votes, the president of the Senate – currently vice president Mike Pence… – casts a deciding vote.
“The move has been tried before, including in 2017 when half a dozen Democrats rose to object to Mr Trump’s victory. In a twist of irony they were overruled by none other than Joe Biden, who as vice president was overseeing the count. He pointed out that none of the objections had been properly made in writing, adding: ‘It’s over.’”
Gun Violence Spiking
The Associated Press wrote on December 28:
“In Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and even smaller Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Milwaukee, 2020 has been deadly not only because of the pandemic, but because gun violence is spiking. Authorities and some experts say there is no one clear-cut reason for the spike. They instead point to social and economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 virus, public sentiment toward police following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody and a historic shortage of jobs and resources in poorer communities as contributing factors. It’s happening in cities large and small, Democrat and Republican-led…
“What the COVID-19 virus did was exacerbate all of the frustration and anger that some in Black and brown communities already were dealing with, according to retired Michigan State University sociology professor Carl Taylor. ‘The COVID has been absolutely the trigger of an everlasting bomb that’s exploding in many parts of our community,’ he added. Nowhere is that more true than inside people’s homes. ‘The COVID crisis and the economic shutdown is forcing people into their homes, creating conditions where people are more volatile,’ said Kim Foxx, the top prosecutor in Cook County, which includes Chicago. And the most jarring statistic that illustrates that volatility is this: The number of domestic-related homicides in the nation’s third-largest city are up more than 60% compared with last year…”
Fox News wrote on December 29:
“The California governor’s days could be limited thanks to a growing effort to invoke a statewide referendum. A campaign to recall [him] is picking up steam after individual donors offered tens of thousands of dollars each and they scored $500,000 from an Irvine-based consulting firm… Since 1911, Californians have attempted to recall their governor 55 times, but were successful only in 2003 against Gov. Gray Davis, who lost his special election to Arnold Schwarzenegger. That effort was propelled into the spotlight after Rep. Darrell Issa donated $2 million. After Prov 3:9 [LLC] became the first major donor in the effort to recall Newsom, other big donors may step forward.
“Fed up with the Democratic governor’s shutdown orders, which some found erratic, Rescue California organized to circulate petitions that call for Newsom’s governorship to be recalled and a special election to take place, well before the next governor’s race in November 2022. Newsom, currently in his first term, has not yet said if he plans to run again.
“Rescue California needs a minimum 1,495,709 valid signatures to recall the governor, and the group says it’s collected some 800,000 so far.”
Jens Spahn Germany’s Most Popular Politician
Newsmax wrote on December 27:
“German Health Minister Jens Spahn has taken over from Chancellor Angela Merkel as the nation’s most popular politician, a poll showed Sunday, highlighting his potential as a future leader of Europe’s biggest economy. Spahn, 40, has long been considered a rising star in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, and is widely perceived to have made a key contribution to Germany’s relatively successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Kantar poll in Bild newspaper, 52% of those surveyed said Spahn should play a major role in German politics in 2021, up from 28% at the end of 2019. Merkel’s approval rating was 51%, up 11 percentage points from the previous year…
“Merkel is stepping down following the next election due in September 2021 after more than a decade and a half in power. The CDU will elect a new leader and probable chancellor candidate at a virtual congress next month. Spahn has backed Armin Laschet, the premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, while Friedrich Merz, a long-time Merkel rival, and Norbert Roettgen, a former environment minister, are also running. The winner will likely be the conservative bloc’s candidate to succeed Merkel next year, though Bavaria Premier Markus Soeder, head of the CDU’s sister party in the southern state, may be asked to step in.
“Soeder is the third-most popular politician on 50%, the Kantar poll showed. Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Social Democrats’ chancellor candidate, was fourth on 47%, Merz scored 37% in sixth place, Laschet 31% in eighth and Roettgen 29% in ninth. While Spahn has thrown his support behind Laschet, there is an outside chance he could be tapped to run as the conservative candidate for chancellor if he is seen as having the best chance of winning the election.”
A Vaccine Passport
CNN Business wrote on December 28:
“Now that coronavirus vaccines are starting to roll out in the US and abroad, many people may be dreaming of the day when they can travel, shop and go to the movies again. But in order to do those activities, you may eventually need something in addition to the vaccine: a vaccine passport application.
“Several companies and technology groups have begun developing smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their Covid-19 tests and vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries. The Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based nonprofit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the United States and the government of Aruba.
“The CommonPass app created by the group allows users to upload medical data such as a Covid-19 test result or, eventually, a proof of vaccination by a hospital or medical professional, generating a health certificate or pass in the form of a QR code that can be shown to authorities…”
Spain Will Register those who Choose not to get Vaccinated
The New York Times wrote on December 28:
“Spain plans to collect and share with other European Union nations information about residents who decide not to get vaccinated for Covid-19, the country’s health minister said on Monday.
“Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, stressed that vaccination would not be made compulsory, but, he said, a register would be set up that would include all the people who turned down the vaccine after being called up for vaccination by Spain’s public health service.
75-Year Old Man Gets Vaccinated and Dies two hours later
365 wrote on December 28:
“A 75-year old man from the norther[n] Israeli town of Beit Shaan died of a heart attack just two hours after getting Pfizer’s covid vaccine on Monday… The man got the vaccine at 8:30 in the morning and waited in the HMO. He was subsequently released to his home after he reported that he felt fine. At home, he lost consciousness and then passed away.
“Initial reports claimed that his death was unrelated to the vaccine however the Health Ministry is now investigating the circumstances of his death. The head of the Health Ministry, Dr Hezy Levi admitted to the Kan broadcasting network that he didn’t know if his death was tied to the vaccine, but said that a committee would be established to investigate it.”
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.
Doesn’t Psalm 139:8 show that we either go to heaven or hell at death?
First of all, let us read this verse: “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.”
This is a psalm that Church of God members will have sung many times as it features as hymn 105 in the Church’s Bible Hymnal.
In the previous verse we read: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” which shows that king David understood that God had perfect knowledge of man which is the heading of the Psalm. God knows our very thoughts (verse 2) which means that even if we are praying silently, He still hears. Therefore, verse 8 sums up the fact that wherever we are, God knows.
However, this verse can be seized upon by some to say that at death we go to heaven or to an ever burning fiery hell, neither of which are correct. In fact, the Bible speaks of three heavens and for those who are not aware of these facts, or those who may wish to refresh their memories on this subject, please see https://www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk/q-a-3756/
In the Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament we read: “God, however, is omnipresent, sustaining the life of all things by His Spirit, and revealing Himself either in love or in wrath – what the poet styles His countenance. To flee from this omnipresence (away from), as the sinner and he who is conscious of his guilt would gladly do, is impossible.”
On the website https://www.bible-studys.org/ we read that “The word translated ‘hell’ here refers to ‘the grave’ or ‘the place of the dead’ rather than the place of eternal punishment for unbelievers. David asserts that God is, in fact, everywhere. Death cannot separate the believer from Him (Rom. 8:38-39; 2 Cor. 5:8). And when His people worship, they have an incredible sense of His manifest presence (22:3).”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible gives the following explanation: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there,…. No man hath ascended or can ascend to heaven of himself; it is an hyperbolical expression, as are those that follow; none but Christ has ascended to heaven by his own power, who descended from it….”
However, having got the above brief quotation correct, the Exposition then goes on to explain heaven and hell in the terms mostly accepted by mainstream Christianity today, that is heaven for the good and hell for the damned.
There are many references in the Bible to Sheol (hell) in the Old Testament, for example: Numbers 16:31-34, Job 7:7-10, Psalm 88:2-10, 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Samuel 22:5–19; Job 10:18-22, Psalm 30:3, Psalm 94:17, Psalm 143:3, Psalm 115:17, Jonah 2:3-8 and others, and this shows that a person, upon his death, does not go to hell in the way understood in mainstream churches today.
According to Sidney Brichto, a British Liberal rabbi, the early Israelites apparently believed that the graves of family, or tribe, united into one and that this, unified collectively, is to what the Biblical Hebrew term Sheol refers: the common grave of humans.
Joseph Caryl, a 17th century English writer and preacher, wrote: “Hell in some places in Scripture signifies the lower parts of the earth, without relation to punishment: If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. By ‘heaven’ he means the upper region of the world, without any respect to the state of blessedness; and ‘hell’ is the most opposite and remote in distance, without respect to misery. As if he had said, Let me go whither I will, thy presence finds me out.”
To show that a Christian does not go to Heaven after death, please read the following Q&A: https://www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk/q-a-3756/
And so what is the answer? Barnes mentioned that no man hath ascended or can ascend to heaven of himself; it is a hyperbolical expression.
Overstatement can be intentional or accidental. It’s usually considered hyperbole, but may also be used as idiomatic emphasis.
What is hyberbole? E W Bullinger, a 19th Century English clergyman, Biblical scholar, and theologian wrote a book entitled “Figures of Speech Used in The Bible” and showed that there were over 200 different types of figures of speech, and hyperbole was one of them. It is, put simply, an exaggeration to make the point and not to be taken literally, and when applied to Psalm 139:8 it is showing the sheer impossibility of any such action being achieved.
There are many instances of hyperbole in the Bible which we will review in the next Q&A.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
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“Wo liegt das Problem?” is the German sermonette presented last Sabbath by Johann Schell, and is now posted. Title in English: “Where is the Problem?”
“Finding Hope,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Frank Bruno, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The world today is a very dark place, and there is no leadership capable of fixing it—other than the hand of God and the return of His Son: Jesus Christ. Yet, this world and its creatures were still created by God and if we open our eyes we see His hand everywhere if we are paying attention. We must be vigilant and watch for the signs, but we can also appreciate the majesty of God’s hand in our lives each day. This Sermonette will discuss several scriptures that can make this clear in the ways that mankind cannot. Together we can find the hope we need to remain strong and do what we must.
“The Futility of Anger,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Anger is an emotion that few live without. From the beginning of humanity, man has either fought against or allowed to fester this emotional outpouring. Today, as the world winds ever closer to experiencing the wrath and judgement of God, we must, like Christ, temper this emotion in a way that doesn’t lead us towards spiritual destruction.
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, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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