Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Sabbath in Genesis Chapters One and Two

The first two chapters of the book of Genesis teach seventh day Sabbath observance. The fourth of the ten commandments in Exodus chapter 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5 is almost unnecessary. Of course, the fourth commandment is important because it makes it clear beyond any doubt to an honest and open mind that Sabbath observance is definitely commanded. But even without the fourth commandment, I think a mind submitted to seek and do God's will can discern from the first two chapters of Genesis that Sabbath observance is God's will.

You have to think about what Genesis 1:1 thru Genesis 2:3 says and means, and the consequences of what it says. There is more than meets the eye in a first quick reading. There are lessons we can draw if we meditate on this portion of God's word.

"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97). "Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works" (Psalm 119:27). "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands" (Psalm 143:5).

The first verse in Genesis shows that God is Creator. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

Then, verses 3 through 25 show how God, in His work of creation, took six days to renew and restore the surface of the earth. He didn't just do it instantly, in a moment, though we know from other parts of the Bible that He could have if He wanted to. But He took time to do it. He did the work of creation in stages over six days. It was His choice to do it that way.

It seems reasonable to ask, why did God take six days to do this in stages rather than instantly, all at once?

Verses 26-27 show that God made man and therefore has authority over man. They also show that God made man to be in His own likeness. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27). This is important, because once we know it is God's will that we be in His "image", we can see a purpose for God to do the work of recreating the surface of the earth in steps, over six days. He did this to set an example for us, the example that we should work. As it takes man time to accomplish things through work, so God took time to do His work. This lesson, that man should spend time working productively, is reinforced by Genesis 2:15: "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it."

In other words, we see that it is God's will that we be in His image, and we can see that God set an example for us, the example of spending time working productively, by taking time to recreate the surface of the earth, to show us, by example, that we should spend our time working and not living a life of idleness.

Then, God set the example of resting on the seventh day. "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 2:2).

Why did God inspire the Genesis account to say that He rested on the seventh day? God does not get tired. Also, if He finished His work of creation in six days, why say that He rested on the seventh day specifically? Did He do any creating on the eighth day, the ninth day, the tenth day, or the eleventh day? Didn't He "rest" on those days from the work of renewing the surface of the earth as much as on the seventh day? But it is the seventh day that God says He rested on.

Again, a discerning mind that is seeking to know God's will so he can do it will ask, what is God telling me here? Is God setting an example that I should follow, of working the first six days of the week and resting on the seventh day? Should I follow God's example because He made me to be in His image and likeness? And if God did not give me this as an example, why did He take six days to renew the face of the earth and then tell me specifically that He "rested" on the seventh day?

The answer becomes more clear in the next verse. "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" (Genesis 2:3). God clearly tells us that He sanctified, set apart, the seventh day. It is to be different from other days. And He puts a special blessing on that day.

It would make no sense for God to tell us He blessed that first seventh day after creation and sanctified and set it apart if it was only that one day and not the seventh day in every seven-day weekly cycle that is sanctified and blessed. It's not rocket science to discern from this account in Genesis only that we should honor God and follow His example, to rest the seventh day from our work as God did from His work, to work six days as God worked, but to keep the seventh day special, to rest on that day, to recognize God's special blessing on that day. He made us in His image. He set this example and inspired the writing of the account of this for a reason, so we can do likewise.

The fourth commandment does not establish the weekly Sabbath, but reminds us of it and makes it clear beyond doubt that its observance is not optional. That is why the fourth commandment tells us, remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel: 
The Weekly Sabbath Day, Chapter 2

Sunday, July 21, 2013

If a Church of God Fellowship Gathers Church of God Members, Does this Make It Philadelphia?

In my previous post, I discussed whether the Church of God needs to become united for us to finish the work of preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning as a witness. My conclusion was, no, unity in the entire, whole Church of God is NOT necessary for the Philadelphian portion of the Church of God to do a powerful work and finish the preaching of the gospel as a witness. Here is the post:
"Does the Church of God Need to Unite to Do a Powerful Work?", dated July 19, 2013, link:

In this post, I want to ask and answer the question, if a Church of God leader or fellowship gathers many other Church of God members and ministers, does that mean it is Philadelphia, or the whole Church of God, or the most faithful part of the whole Church of God?

There have been many splits since Worldwide broke up. There have not been many mergers. But what if there are mergers of Churches of God in the future? Would that mean that Church of God fellowships that merge are Philadelphian in character because they seek unity by merging? Would that mean that if some COG members or whole COG fellowships joined with a COG leader that God is bringing those members and ministers to the leader because of the leader's faithfulness?

There are a number of large and medium size Church of God fellowships, each having a single top leader or a form of governance in which the ministry selects the leadership. Dr. Roderick Meredith is leader of Living Church of God. Mr. Gerald Flurry is leader of Philadelphia Church of God. United Church of God and Church of God a Worldwide Association are governed by the ministry through balloting to select a leader, and that leader can change from time to time. Church of God an International Community is led by Mr. David Hulme. Church of the Great God is led by Mr. John Ritenbaugh. Restored Church of God is led by Mr. David Pack. Enduring Church of God is led by Mr. Charles Bryce.

Suppose two or three of these groups merge? Does that make them Philadelphia? Does that mean the leader is faithful in God's sight?

Suppose, for example, that Enduring Church of God and its leader Mr. Charles Bryce join with Restored Church of God and its leader Mr. Dave Pack. Or suppose one or several ministers from United Church of God or Church of God a Worldwide Association leave those organizations, taking some of their members with them, and join with Restored Church of God under Mr. Dave Pack. Perhaps some ministers in United Church of God are unhappy because they anticipate doctrinal changes in UCG. Or perhaps some ministers in Church of God a Worldwide Association are unhappy because that organization does not have the money to do a powerful work. Would that make Restored Church of God Philadelphia, just because it is growing, or just because members and ministers are going to them?

This is one example, the same question can be asked about any leader that pastors and members come to or any two or more groups that merge.

My answer is, no, not necessarily. Being Philadelphian has nothing to do with number of members or popularity among all the brethren and ministers in the whole Church of God. Being judged by God to be faithful has nothing to do with popularity or how many members or ministers come to a leader or group. God judges us by our character, by our attitudes of mind, which God knows, and we can judge individual Church of God leaders and their organizations by their fruits, including the fruit of right and faithful teaching.

This is the Laodicean era. I think this is obvious, or will become obvious, to just about everyone in the Church who has spiritual discernment. We are scattered. The major COG groups, many of them, compete with each other instead of cooperate with each other. Most COG groups do not have much of an open door as Christ promised to Philadelphia.

So it is logical that the biggest and most popular Church of God fellowships MAY be Laodicean, not definitely, but possibly. Size and popularity are not necessarily the characteristics to look for in a Philadelphia organization or a Philadelphia leader. Certainly God may gather many members to a Philadelphia leader, but it is just as likely that a Laodicean leader will gather many members and ministers, not because he is faithful, but because he tells people what they want to hear.

If you want to judge if a group is Philadelphian in character, you have to look to the fruits, and one of the most important fruits is right and balanced teaching. Read what the leader teaches. Is it accurate according to the Bible? Is it balanced?

Does the leader show the fruits of God's Spirit in his teaching, his speaking, and his writing? Is he overly critical of others, making false accusations, or accusations based on rumor and not facts? Does he twist the details of doctrines and events to make himself look good and everyone else bad? Satan is the author of false accusations and the inspiration of the spirit of accusation.

Has God given that leader an open door for preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel? Is he doing an effective work, and can you PROVE he is doing an effective work? Does he make available the proof in terms of complete and verifiable information (audited magazine circulation, budget figures made public as audited by a respected accounting firm, average weekly attendance, number of baptisms of new people who never heard the truth before coming into contact with this leader's teaching via radio, television, print, or the Internet, etc.) Or does the leader keep such information secret or just make wild and extravagant claims that cannot be easily verified?

Does he teach and practice government from the top down? Has he ALWAYS practiced government from the top down, or if he has rebelled against top-down government in the past, siding with boards or councils that vote against a top-down leader that has raised up an organization (while in that organization), has he repented and publicly admitted that he did wrong? Or does he justify what he did by pointing to alleged errors in doctrine, which, even if errors, are minor in importance? It is entirely fair for us to look at the track record of any leader who claims to be more faithful than other leaders.

If a man has served for years under a top-down leader, then sided with a board that voted that leader out, I would have doubts about that man's commitment to top-down government in the Church of God. It might seem that he only agrees with top-down government if he is at the top of that government.

If a leader of a group goes astray, voting him out of office is not the biblical way of dealing with him, and those who side with those who vote against him are not following the Bible. King Saul went astray, but David did not rise up in rebellion against him, but waited on God, and in the meantime David fled from Saul but did not lift his hand against Saul or support those who did.

Is the leader committed to believing the Bible more than Mr. Armstrong, more than the traditions of the Church of God, more than his own opinions? Is the leader willing to change doctrine, even to change Mr. Armstrong's doctrines, when he is corrected by the Bible? Is he willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible? Or does he claim that Mr. Armstrong's doctrines cannot be changed because he is the Elijah to come and restore all things, and God's apostle, and God only puts doctrine into the Church through the apostle?

Does he understand the difference between what is important and what is not important? Does he follow the Bible in this? Or does he make things important that the Bible does not make important, and minimize things the Bible says are important?

Beware of those who accuse others for teaching that 2 Thessalonians 2:3 applies to a future worldwide deception. As I have pointed out, this verse refers to one or both of two possible events: a falling away from the truth in the Church of God or a worldwide deception by the false prophet and the beast. WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THOSE TWO EVENTS FROM THE BIBLE AND FROM HISTORY. Everyone agrees that there was a falling way in the Church in the first and second century and in our time after Mr. Armstrong died. We all agree that we must be spiritually alert to avoid falling away in the future. And we all agree that a worldwide religious deception is coming. So there is no disagreement about the substance of those events and prophecies. We know what has happened in the Church. We know we need to be spiritually close to God to avoid falling away in the future. And we know what is coming - a great worldwide deception. So where is the disagreement? Only about which of these events a particular verse is referring to. To accuse others over this is truly making a molehill into a mountain.

See my post "Is the Falling Away Doctrine a Critical Issue?", dated February 10, 2013, link:

A leader who does this does not seem to be showing good spiritual fruit, but seems to be trying to gain a following after himself by stirring up strife where there need be no strife.

A clue is what he says about doctrine coming into the Church through an apostle. Another clue is what he says about the Elijah to restore all things.

Some leaders try to make a big deal about Mr. Armstrong being the Elijah to come. They use this to say, in effect, since the Elijah to come is to restore all things, and since Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come, Mr. Armstrong restored all things and we should not change any of Mr. Armstrong's doctrines. These leaders often say that knowing Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come is vitally important. Some leaders make a big deal about saying that doctrine is only put into the Church through an apostle. But both of these teachings show a wrong emphasis, and are misleading.

Does the Bible teach the importance of knowing who the Elijah is? ABSOLUTELY NOT! There is not a single verse or combination of verses that indicates that it is important for Church of God members to know who the Elijah to come is. God knows who the Elijah is and He makes sure the Elijah does his job. We do not have to know. If we want to speculate and say, Mr. Armstrong was probably the Elijah to restore all things, that is fine. Personally, I think it was Mr. Armstrong. But whether you or I know this for sure is not important, and it should NEVER be used as an excuse for failing to be corrected by the Bible and changing Mr. Armstrong's teachings, if necessary.

The whole emphasis some put on Mr. Armstrong being the Elijah to come is based on the Elijah to come restoring "all things". Yet, the ONLY teaching about Elijah restoring anything comes from Jesus Christ, and Christ NEVER RAISED THE SUBJECT OF ELIJAH! He never said it was important to know who the Elijah is. The only time Christ talked about Elijah was in answer to questions, and those questions seemed to always originate from carnal scribes, Pharisees, and Jewish religious leaders who seemed to be obsessed with personalities and titles. When the disciples asked about Elijah, it was because of something the scribes said. So Jesus answered their questions, but He never Himself raised the issue or said it was important (Matthew 17:10-12, see also John 1:19-25).

Mr. Armstrong himself may not have thought of himself as Elijah during the most productive time of the Philadelphia era when the Church was growing in numbers, in power, and in doctrinal truth most rapidly. Yet, not knowing he was Elijah did not prevent him from doing an Elijah work.

So beware when a leader tells you it is important that you know that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come, because such a leader is trying to make something important that the Bible does not make important.

What is important about Elijah? Only that God knows who he is and that God makes sure he does what he needs to do. Even the Elijah to come does not have to know he is Elijah.

Also, beware of those who emphasize that all doctrine comes into the Church through an apostle. Why do they say that? What is their motivation, or what is the point they are trying to make? And do they have a biblical basis for the point they are making?

This is not just a trivial or incidental statement in the minds of those who say this. They have a reason for saying it. Usually it is one of two things, maybe both. They may be using this to say that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle and no one else is today, so we should not change his doctrines or introduce new doctrine because none of us are apostles. Or, the leader may claim the title himself and say, I am an apostle, and I can put doctrine into the Church, but no one else can.

What these people forget is that we have at least one living apostle in the Church, besides the leader who claims the title, and that apostle can put doctrine into the Church. When Mr. Armstrong was alive, we had two living apostles.

Jesus Christ is our living apostle (Hebrews 3:1), and Christ can put doctrine into the Church, through the Bible, and is not limited by human leaders who claim the title of apostle over other Church of God leaders, but cannot prove they hold the office in God's sight.

Besides, if only human apostles on earth can make doctrinal changes, based on the Bible, but others cannot, then we would have to know EXACTLY and CERTAINLY who is an apostle and who is not. But the Bible gives no clear definition of an apostle. We know it is the highest office in the Church. We know who the apostles are in the Bible, because they are called apostles. But we do not have enough information from the Bible to say with certainty, "Mr. David Pack is an apostle, but Mr. Roderick Meredith is not", or "Mr. David Hulme is an apostle, but Mr. John Ritenbaugh is not". These men are leaders of Church of God fellowships, and God knows if they are apostles or evangelists.

What a man claims for himself means nothing. It is how God sees it that counts.

Even Mr. Armstrong did not know he was an apostle before 1952, but that didn't stop him from doing the work God wanted him to do. Nor did Mr. Armstrong ever say, in 1927 or 1934, "Well, I am not an apostle, and only an apostle can change doctrine, so I better just accept the doctrines of the Church of God Seventh Day whether they agree with the Bible or not." What was Mr. Armstrong's example? From the time of his conversion, he ALWAYS believed the Bible more than any man or Church, even before he was ordained as a minister. That was EXACTLY why God could use him.

Philadelphia is to hold fast (Revelation 3:11). What should Philadelphia hold fast to? What was it that Mr. Armstrong held fast to, the one thing that made it possible for him to raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God (or rather, Christ raised it up using Mr. Armstrong as a tool)? What quality or attribute of mind or character did Mr. Armstrong have, which enabled God to use him the way He did? Mr. Armstrong was committed to believing and teaching the BIBLE more than the traditions of any man or church, even the Church of God. He was always ready to learn new doctrines and receive correction from the Bible. If there is one thing we must hold fast to, it is that. We must believe the Bible.

I will tell you what I think will be a good clue as to who a Philadelphian pastor, evangelist, or apostle is. When you hear an ordained minister in the Church of God or a leader of a Church of God fellowship tell his members, "DON'T believe me, believe what you read in your Bible", and if he shows he means it, that would be a man to watch as a potential leader of a Philadelphia remnant Church of God that will finally finish the work of preaching the gospel and then go to a place of safety.

But don't expect the majority in the Church of God to follow such a man, nor for such a man to be popular, because this is the Laodicean era, and the majority of members in the whole Church of God are NOT Philadelphian in character, nor will most of them be before the end.

I for one would try to follow and support such a man as long as I see him following the Bible faithfully and bearing good fruit. That would be part of my effort to become a Philadelphian Christian, though I personally fall short in many other ways.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Does the Church of God Need to Unite to Do a Powerful Work?

Does the Church of God need to reunited into one group or organization in order to do a powerful work of preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel?

No, and I think there is Bible evidence and evidence from our history that we will NOT unite into one group before the return of Christ. Yet, I believe, and am hopeful, that a powerful work will be done by the Church before the tribulation begins.

Why will we not unite?

The last era of the Church of God is Laodicea. But the Philadelphia era is promised protection and is given an open door for preaching the gospel to the world, which has yet to be completed with power. This means that right before the tribulation begins, there will be both Laodicean members and Philadelphian members in the Church of God, with Laodiceans being the majority and Philadelphians being relatively small in numbers. The Philadelphians are given an open door and they complete the preaching of the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel as a witness, and then God sends them to a place of safety for protection from the tribulation. The Laodiceans then go through the tribulation (Revelation 3:7-22).

Will Laodicea and Philadelphia be reunited into one group? I doubt it. They are too different. Read the descriptions in Revelation and ask, do these messages describe people that will unite with each other and function harmoniously?

Part of the reason the Church is scattered and divided now is because the Laodicean attitude is the predominant attitude in the whole Church of God. Laodicea is the last era, and that means they will be the majority right up to the end. Yet, they are still part of the true Church of God.

Rather, I think Philadelphian Christians will be more effective and more powerful when they are NOT merged with Laodicean members of the Church. Sometimes separation is better than unity if unity means being forced to compromise with a Laodicean majority (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Some think that the Church must reunite before we can do a powerful work because they are looking at the SIZE of the Church, not the spiritual condition. They are looking at human power, not God's power, to do the work.

But that is false reasoning. God did more with Gideon's army when it was small than when it was large because God wanted to show HIS power to do a powerful work with limited human instruments. God made Gideon limit his army to only 300 men before God used him. There may be a lesson for us today (Judges 7:1-7).

Besides, when it comes to human power, we don't have the power to warn 400 million people about the tribulation even if we are united. If you put all the Churches of God together, you would not have the numbers we had when Mr. Armstrong was alive, and even at that time we could only reach a small number of people with the true gospel.

We have to rely on God's power, and God will make that power available to us based on our faithfulness and zeal to believe and obey Him, not on numbers. It is the Philadelphians that will be given that power, not the majority of the Church of God, not Laodiceans.

I do not think the Church of God will unite into one organization before the return of Christ. If anything, there will be more division as God separates Philadelphia from Laodicea in preparation for Philadelphia finishing the work and going to a place of safety.

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household' " (Matthew 10:34-36).

Each of us needs to strive to be faithful to God, to be Philadelphians in spirit, attitude, and character, and then God, in His time and in His way, will gather us together, separating us from the Laodiceans, to finish preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel as a witness and then go to a place of safety before the tribulation begins.

And even when Philadelphia is separated from Laodicea and given power by God to finish the work, they may not be part of one organized, incorporated fellowship of the kind we tend to see today. It could be two organizations, or three, or maybe just one. BUT, if it is more than one organization, those organizations will cooperate with each other in harmony and love, as much as if they were one organization. Just as Peter and Paul had separate administrations, yet cooperated with each other in dividing up the responsibilities (Galatians 2:7-9, 2 Peter 3:15), so Philadelphians, even if making up more than one corporation, will cooperate with each other and not compete with each other.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Should the Church Flee Before It Finishes Delivering the Ezekiel Warning?

From what I read in various blogs that discuss Church of God matters, it seems that some in the Church of God feel that the great tribulation may start any time, maybe within a few months or a year or two. Some may feel that the Church needs to be ready to flee to a place of safety soon.

Should you flee to a place of safety now or very soon?

If you want to be counted worthy to escape the great tribulation and be in God's kingdom, NO! NO. NO.

However, if you want to be punished in the tribulation, or lose your eternal life in the lake of fire, yes, by all means, flee to a place of safety as soon as possible.

The Church of God is commissioned, commanded by God, to deliver the Ezekiel warning to all Israel. That is our job! We are the Ezekiel watchman. No one in the Church of God, minister or lay member, is exempt from that responsibility. We can contribute with tithes and offerings. Those without income can spend extra time praying for God's work of preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public (Luke 2:37, Acts 6:4) and by encouraging others in the Church to support God's work by speaking of God's work in conversation (Proverbs 27:17, Malachi 3:16-17). Pastors can contribute by teaching their congregation the importance of supporting the preaching of the gospel and Ezekiel warning to the public.

Where in the Bible is that command, that commission, that makes all of us in the Church of God collectively the Ezekiel watchman for Israel?

Put these scriptures together: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12). "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Surely we did not know this,' does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds" (Proverbs 24:11-12). "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 3:17-18).

Now, combine the above scriptures with the fact that we know what is coming and why. We know the great tribulation is coming upon "Jacob" (Jeremiah 30:7). We know who "Jacob" is (Genesis 48:1-16). We know we are near the end of 6,000 years of the age of man, so the tribulation will come soon (2 Peter 3:8, Exodus 20:9-10, Daniel 12:4). And we know from many scriptures and from watching what is happening around us what Israel's sins are for which they will be punished and what they need to repent of.

Therefore, we know everything that we need to know in order to know that Israel needs a warning and what that warning should say.

We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to do unto others as we would want them to do to us. Would you want to be warned if you were headed for disaster and didn't know it? If you are normal, yes you would. If there was a hazard in the road ahead that you couldn't see at night, you would appreciate it if some one put out a flare. If the building you were in was on fire and you didn't know, you would want someone to warn you.

Are our nations stumbling to the slaughter? Yes they are, and we know it. Therefore God commands us to try to hold them back, and the only way we can do that is to warn them.

It is the combination of the scriptures from God commanding us to give a warning to those who need a warning, motivated by love, with the knowledge we have about what is coming, that together constitute a command by God to warn. It is the Church of God and its members who have that knowledge.

But what if God is angry with the Church? Does that mean we should not try to do a powerful work of warning? Does that disqualify us? Are we exempt from that duty and job if God is angry with us for our sins?

"If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post; for conciliation pacifies great offenses" (Ecclesiastes 10:4). In such a case, we are NOT to "leave our post" - we cannot walk away from our responsibility just because we have faults. That would only make things worse.

If we don't warn? God makes it clear, if we do not warn, the blood of the people will be on our heads. That applies to each of us individually. If I do all I can to support the warning, but you don't, I will not be guilty but you will be guilty of the blood of the people.

How many should we warn before we quit? Two percent of the population? Ten percent? 50%? 90%?

Every soul is precious to God. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God wants all to come to repentance, and giving every person a warning before the punishment comes is a first step to bring them to repentance because it will help them accept responsibility when they know they were warned but ignored the warning. As long as we are able to do a work, we are never to quit the effort to warn the people of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand till everyone in those countries has heard a strong warning, or at least may have heard it as far as we know. If we only warn some of the people, then quit and say, "that's enough, I did my part, I won't do anymore", the blood of those we did not warn will be on our heads.

How many have we warned? Probably not even two percent have heard our warning. There is a tremendous work left to do. We have an enormous responsibility on our shoulders.

Jonah tried to run from his responsibility, but God corrected him. God was merciful not only to Nineveh but to Jonah by giving him strong correction, for if God had allowed Jonah to run away from his job and not do it, the blood of 120,000 Ninevites would have been on his head.

We cannot deliver a warning from the place of safety.

Those who want to go to a place of safety very soon, before we have warned about 400 million people, apparently have little love for their neighbors, or they think God has little love for Israel. They will bear their guilt.

Now, perhaps by some means God will intervene and empower us and give us an open door to finish preaching the warning to the hundreds of millions in our nations who have not heard it yet, even in a very short span of time, a few weeks or a few months. If God miraculously intervenes to give us that open door, and we go through it and really finish the work (not just say it is finished), then fine, it may be time to flee. Or, perhaps we will not flee yet. I do not know how we will know it is time to flee after we warn everyone. But we should not be thinking about fleeing while the majority in this country and other nations of Israel have not yet heard the warning.

Learn a lesson from the book of Jeremiah. Urijah warned the king and people of Judah, giving the same message Jeremiah spoke, but when he was threatened with death, he was afraid and fled to Egypt. But the king of Judah sent men and brought him back from Egypt and killed him. But Jeremiah did not flee, and God protected him (Jeremiah 26:20-24).

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it" (Mark 8:35).

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What Are China and North Korea Up To?

China supports North Korea financially. As I understand it, they help provide enough food to North Korea to keep the country from starving. Without support from China, it is doubtful that the North Korean regime would survive. I think it is unlikely North Korean leaders would behave very differently from how the Chinese rulers want them to behave.

North Korea has been deliberately provocative and threatening towards the United States and South Korea for many years. Their effort to develop nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering those weapons is only part of their provocations. They have threatened a pre-emptive first strike with nuclear weapons against the west. They have attacked South Korean territory killing civilians.

Yet, it is unlikely they would do these things without Chinese approval, perhaps even direction, because if China disapproved, they could "pull the plug" on the North Korean government simply by cutting off material support.

China needs trade with the United States. What do they have to gain by North Korean threats and provocations?

Recently there was a news item that North Korea proposed friendly talks with South Korea and that this may be a reversal of their policy of hostility in recent years. It may be that North Korea may be seeking some kind of peaceful reunification with South Korea on terms acceptable to the South Korean government and people. In effect, after years of open hostility, now they are showing a more reconciliatory face.

Link to news story:

Perhaps both the provocations and the offer to have peaceful talks are part of a long-term, well thought out plan by China.

What would be China's long-term objective? Taiwan.

The Taiwanese people and government do not want unification with China right now, and their military alliance with the United States helps protect them from being taken over by China. The United States is a strong power in that region, not only because of its own military power, but because of its close relations and military alliances with Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. Each of those nations, though they do not have nuclear weapons, have their own considerable military strength which, when combined with American power, makes a force too great for China to directly challenge over Taiwan.

If China can detach South Korea from that alliance, it would be one step towards weakening American power in the region.

So China and North Korea could offer South Korea a deal. Break your alliance with the west and join an alliance with China, and you can have unification with North Korea on your economic and political terms. North Korea can be absorbed into the South Korean economic and political structure, much as East Germany was absorbed into the West German system when Germany united. The combined, unified Korea would be democratic and have economic free enterprise as South Korea is now, but with the added land and population of North Korea and with a military alliance with China instead of the United States. North Korean leaders would have guarantees of safety from retribution for past deeds and would have the option to live comfortably in Korea or China. South Korean companies would continue their trade with the west, and the population of all Korea would enjoy the same personal freedoms that South Koreans have now.

The policies of North Korea, the past provocations and the recent proposal for talks, may be the carrot and the stick. First they threaten war, then they offer a way out.

If the United States, through its own weakness, allows such a policy to succeed, and if the unified Korea does well in its alliance with China, that may give Taiwan and Japan food for thought. They have to consider, as the United States bankrupts itself with debt and as China grows economically, if the United States will have the political will and the resources to maintain a strong enough military presence in the region to be a reliable ally against China in the years to come. In effect, South Korea will have answered that question with a "no" if they choose China as an ally over the United States. Japan and Taiwan would have to think about that.

Moreover, a unified Korea would combine the military forces of both Koreas, with North Korea's nuclear weaponry and South Korea's economy and technical proficiency. Such a combined military, allied with China not the United States, would effect a real change in the balance of power in the region.

Then, if China proves itself friendly to the new Korea, scrupulously keeping its side of the deal to the letter, and Korea remains free and prosperous, China would have a positive track record it could show in negotiating a unification deal with Taiwan.

All of this could help fulfill prophecy about Europe.

If the United States permits this to happen, and if the Europeans view this as a sign of America's weakness and decline, that will help them realize that the days of the United States being a strong and reliable ally may be numbered. This would motivate them to develop their own military forces to a greater extent and work harder to unite to protect themselves. If they think they can no longer rely on the United States to defend them, they will have to become stronger to defend themselves.