By Elder Lawrence Nelson
This month, we have a special treat again. Our speaker is Elder Lawrence Nelson, the founder of Keep The Faith Ministry. I hope you enjoy this message. It is part two of a two part series that I believe will help you prepare for the end times. Elder Nelson prepared this sermon recently and it is his prayer that God will bless you as you listen to its message.
Let us turn to Holy Scripture to continue our study of the Divine connection that must take place in our lives so we can be ready for citizenship in the soon coming kingdom of God.
Our text is found in John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Let us bow our heads in prayer for heavenly guidance. Our loving Father, we all realize we are facing the end of this world and the coming of Thy eternal kingdom. We need Divine assurance that we are ready. Please open our understanding with Thy Holy Spirit that we may know without a doubt that we have met every requirement and we ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
We begin with Christ when he was upon this earth. In our previous study, we discovered there was nothing different about His humanity from our humanity. Yet he did not sin, but all who have ever lived on this earth have sinned.
What made this difference possible since Inspiration teaches that Christ never used His divine nature to aid Him in meeting temptation? The answer we discovered is that from His birth on earth Christ was connected to God, just as Adam and Eve were connected with God when He created them.
Inspiration is very clear on this point. Vol. 7, B.C. p. 926, “Christ came to the earth, taking humanity and standing as man’s representative, to show in the controversy with Satan that man, as God created him, connected with the Father and the Son, could obey every requirement.” And in Signs of the Times, December 10, 1896, we are told, “Christ left his heavenly home, and came to this world, to show that only by being ‘connected with Divinity’ can man keep the law of God.” So now we know why Christ came to this earth; to demonstrate that when a man is connected with God, humanity is enabled to live without sin. We are further told in Vol. 7, B.C. p. 925, “He met man as man, and testified by His connection with God that divine power was not given to Him in a different way to what it will be given to us.”
Now we know why Christ was different. Why He never sinned and one of the reasons he came to this earth. This brings us to a new question. How can we receive the same gift that made Jesus different?
Jesus explained to Nicodemus how this could be done. John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Our Lord used the words, born again, born of the spirit, to teach us how we may receive this gift of a connection with God. The Savior continues to clarify in John 3:6, 7, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Jesus is referring to our birth in this world as “born of the flesh.” But we must be “born again of the Spirit” if we would enter the kingdom in the new earth.
To help us to understand how this is accomplished, the Savior illustrates with the actions of the wind. John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” We all are aware that the wind is invisible, yet it produces effects. Just so works the Spirit. It cannot be explained, but it can be experienced when we receive a connection with God.
Next, we find Jesus teaching that we must do something ourselves in order to receive this precious gift. He uses the illustration of the experience of Moses in the wilderness. In John 3:14 we read, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”
Let us listen to Inspiration explain the meaning of this Scripture. Desire of Ages, p. 174, 175, “The people well knew that in itself the serpent had no power to help them. It was a symbol of Chris. As the image made in the likeness of the destroying serpents was lifted up for their healing, so ‘One made in the likeness of sinful flesh’ was to be their Redeemer.” (Romans 8:3)
With this understanding, Jesus explains what we must do in order to be connected with God. The Bible says in John 3:16, “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Yes, it’s that simple. All who will truly believe in Jesus as their personal Redeemer will permit the Holy Spirit to create a change within their sinful nature. In that wonderful book, Desire of Ages p. 173 it states, “What the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God. It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet, he who passes from death to life realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience. Its results reach through the eternal ages.” All this takes place when we truly believe in Christ.
But what does it mean to believe? John, the beloved disciple who recorded the words of Christ in John 3:16 also wrote the epistle of John in Chapter 1, verses 12 and 13, in which he gives the meaning of the word, “believe”. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In this scripture, John defines a person who believes as one who is “born of the Spirit”. Let us never forget this. For regardless of our so called belief, if we are not born again, Jesus will say of such, “I never knew you.”
So it is vital for us to understand the term, “born again”. For both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy use words and phrases to describe the meaning of “born again”. Here are some of those words frequently used. “Born again, converted, conversion, new birth, a new heart, regeneration, the reception of Christ’s righteousness, the reception of divine grace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, partakers of the divine nature, and connected with God.” These words and phrases used interchangeably all represent the “born again” experience. Isn’t it wonderful what God wants to do for you and me! If only we will surrender our will to His will. Christ will give to us a new birth to experience a regeneration in which we receive of Christ’s righteousness and we will become filled with the Holy Spirit to connect with Christ’s Divine nature.
But many today, like Nicodemus, are asking how can these things be? Inspiration gives the answer. In Vol. 1, Mind, Character & Personality, p. 72, “The mind controls the whole man. All our actions, good or bad, have their source in the mind.”
To comprehend this more fully, let’s go back in our thoughts to when Adam sinned. In the Signs of the Times, January 20, 1897, we read, “Adam ‘severed’ his connection with Jehovah.” Now, keep in mind, there was no immediate change in his physical body or in his physical brain. But there was a change in the function of his mind. In Review & Herald, 1887, we read, “After the fall, there was not given to man another set of faculties. The powers given him before sin entered the world through Adam were high, and their aims holy; all in perfect harmony with the divine mind. The fall did not create in man new faculties, energies, and passions, for this would have been a reflection upon God. It was through disobedience to God’s requirements that these powers were perverted; the affections were misplaced, and turned from the high and holy purpose to a lower aim and to meet a lower standard… Originally, man’s affections were in perfect obedience to God’s will; but they have been perverted, misused, and degenerated by disobedience.”
However, in the new birth experience of being born again, the connection with God which Adam severed is reestablished in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Vol. 2, Mind, Character & Personality, p. 692, “The Spirit of God does not create new faculties in the converted man, but works a decided change in the employment of those faculties. When mind and heart and soul are changed, man is not given a new conscience, but his will is submitted to a conscience renewed, by the working of the Holy Spirit.”
A true conversion completely changes the life of the individual. Vol. 4, T. p. 17 states, “True conversion is a radical change. The very drift of the mind and bent of the heart should be turned and life becomes new again in Christ.” This is further explained in Vol. 5, T. p. 219, “All the powers and passions of the converted man are brought under the control of Christ.”
The results of this Divine miracle is described by Paul in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
I like the way evangelist A. T. Jones explains this miracle as found in the Review & Herald, April 18, 1899, “The Scripture does not say, Let this flesh be upon you, which was also upon Christ; but it does say, ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5). The Scripture does not say, Be ye transformed by the renewal of your flesh; but it does say, ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). We shall be translated by the renewing of our minds.” End quote.
This is why it is so important that we be born of the water. John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ to baptize with the Holy Spirit by preaching a message of repentance and baptism. And today, Ellen White also declares in Vol. 2, S.M., p. 19, “Repent, repent, repent was the message rung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness.” For John said in Matt. 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
When Jesus began His ministry in Galilee he preached what John had foretold Christ would teach. Mark 1:14, 15, gives us the exact words Christ preached. Quote, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the gospel.” This is why when Jesus talked with Nicodemus he told him “ye must be born of the water.”
Baptism is very significant. It means that all previous sins have been repented of and are washed away. The old life in which sin ruled has been buried in the water of baptism. The individual is risen to a new life. He has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the law of God is now written in his mind. The Desire of Ages p. 176 tells us how this is done. “The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Savior. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, is created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, ‘I delight to do Thy will, O my God.’” (Psalms 40 verse 8) Isn’t that beautiful?
But today, God’s remnant church is facing a very sad time. For repentance which is so absolutely necessary to be born of the water is being neglected and ignored. The fact is, it’s almost never presented. In its place is preached the gospel of love by our ministers, teachers, and evangelists. Don’t misunderstand me. The gospel of love and Christ’s sacrifice for our sins is true and appealing. However, with the gospel of love there must also be preached a message that we must repent of our sins.
Elle White counseled about this end time situation in Vol. 2, S.M., p. 19, “Some open revival meetings, and by this means call large numbers into the church. But when the excitement is over, where are the converted ones? Repentance and confession of sin are not seen. The sinner is entreated to believe in Christ and accept Him, without regard to his past life of sin and rebellion. The heart is not broken. There is no contrition of soul. The supposed converted ones have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.
The Old and New Testament Scriptures show us the only way in which this work should be done. Repent, repent, repent was the message rung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ’s message to the people was ‘except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish’. (Luke 13:5) And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent.
The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned customs, old-fashioned fathers and mothers in Israel. The sinner must be labored for perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of God’s law, and shall exercise repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dearly beloved, this Godly counsel has made me consider my own life. Have I truly repented of past sins? What about you? Jesus is coming so soon. I want to be ready. What about you?
In God’s loving appeal to his end-time church of Laodicea, He declares our greatest need is to repent, for we are declared naked without the Divine connection. This is shocking news! Inspiration has declared that the vast majority of those professing to be God’s remnant will depart from his church when the final test comes. Sorry to say, for years, I personally found this difficult to accept. But not any more. In preparing this study, I’ve found the reason. The majority have never experienced true sorrow for sin and repented. Therefore, they are naked. They have no personal connection with God.
May the Holy Spirit help us to search our heats as I read Revelation 3:17-21, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be right; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Praise God He is ready to forgive and to reconnect us to Himself. Listen as he pleads in verse 20 of Revelation chapter 3: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with Father in his throne.”
Let us pray. Our love Father, could it be that though we are members of God’s true church, yet in thy sight, we are naked, unconnected to Divine power because we have truly never repented. Dear God, if this be our case, shake us, awaken us. Reveal to us our real condition that we may open salvation’s door and let Jesus reconnect us with His Divinity. Write thy law within our minds. Break our hearts with a Divine vision of Christ dying on the cross for our sins. As we repent, asking forgiveness for our sins which nailed thy dear Son to the cross, wash us in His cleansing blood. Cover us with Christ’s righteousness. This we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.
I have condensed this message from a book, Gift of a Great Worth by Leola Rosenvold. If you would like to secure a copy of this book, please contact Leola Rosenvold, P.O. Box 330, Hope, ID 83836. Phone number: 208-264-5446.
We hope you have received a great blessing from this month’s message. Your prayers and gifts mean much to us. Thank you for your support.
The following is a prophetic intelligence briefing for those who love the appearing of Jesus Christ and are watching the fulfilling prophecies. We can see the signs of the times telling us that we are nearing the world’s great crisis. May the Lord find us faithful.
Our first item involves the Koran and the First Muslim Congressman Ever Elected to the U.S. Congress.
America now has its first Muslim congressman, a democrat from Minnesota. When Keith Ellison, let it be known, according to the Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2006, that he was going to carry a Koran to his swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 4, there was a bit of a reaction.
Dennis Prager, a talk show host wrote online that it “undermines American civilization. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book,’ he said, ‘the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress.’
Those comments” Said USA Today, “generated nearly 800 comments on Townhall.com and sparked a tempest in the conservative blogosphere. Many who posted comments called the United States a Christian country and said Muslims are beginning to gain too much influence. Others wrote about the separation of church and state and said the Constitution protects all religions.”
“The U.S. Constitution says nothing about swearing on the Bible,” said the Monitor. “But some commentators insist the U.S. is a Christian nation, and the proposed act goes against its values and tradition. To others, the uproar shows an ignorance of the Constitution and the principle of religious freedom. Some people worry that it reflects growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
“To legal experts, no room for confusion exists. ‘A congressman having to swear an oath on a scripture that he doesn’t believe in was unconstitutional from the very moment the Constitution was signed,’ says Kevin Hasson, head of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. ‘It would be beyond irony to violate the Constitution in the very act of requiring a congressman to swear his loyalty to uphold the Constitution.’”
“In Congress, newly elected representatives do not put their left hands on any book. They raise their right hands, and are sworn in together as the speaker of the house administers the oath of office. Some do carry a book, according to House historians, and some choose to photograph a private swearing-in afterward with their hand on the Bible. One senator is known to have carried an expanded Bible that included the Book of Mormon.
“The Constitution says: ‘The senators and representatives… shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’
Prager agrees that “‘religious freedom does allow Ellison to use whatever book he wants…‘he said. ‘But I’m afraid we are becoming a diverse, secular society without any roots, and this is symbolically an example of that. The Bible is the repository of our values, not the Constitution… and I’m asking him to honor that and include the Bible along with the Koran.’”
Prager is suggesting that the Bible become the highest law of the land instead of the Constitution. If America followed Prager’s logic we would be in trouble. If we use the Bible as the basis for American law, whose interpretation of it is going to rule? The Constitution makes all religions equal and prevents minority religions from begin oppressed by majority religions. But this is where America is headed according to prophecy. This incident is rather revealing. One day the majority is going to rule, and try to use the Bible as the basis of law, including the way things were handled in the Old Testament.
There are groups today that want to impose moral reform in such a way as to make America a Christian nation in the sense that the Bible would become the highest law of the land. If that should happen, Christians who follow the Bible won’t be in the majority. Sabbath keepers for example would likely be persecuted.
This controversy comes at a time when the nation is polarized about Muslims and their difficulty in integrating into American society. Whatever kind of statement the congressman wants to make by using the Koran, American’s are increasingly sensitive and are gradually becoming less tolerant. Notice that Prager laid down an ultimatum. “If you are incapable of taking an oath on [the Bible], don’t serve in Congress,” he said. While there is no way that presently he can do anything about his concern legally, he nevertheless created quite a storm of angry e-mails to the then future congressman’s office. This kind of reaction is perhaps a harbinger of things to come when God’s people are as suspicioned as Muslims.
Next: Customs agents at U.S. borders can now inspect the contents of laptops.
Customs agents have begun inspecting the contents on the laptops of travelers into the U.S. While generally, the contents of computers in your home cannot be inspected without a warrant, at the border it is a different story. Like other closed items, reported Stratfor, December 4, 2006, U.S. customs officials have the authority to search their contents.
In October, however, a U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles “ruled that suspicion alone does not automatically give U.S. customs agents permission to inspect data on laptop computers…, said Stratfor. In other words, there must be some kind of evidence that there is potential security or criminal issues for the laptop contents to be searched. This case was in court because a man returning from the Philippines was found with child pornography on his laptop. “Unlike other cases,” said Stratfor, “in which incriminating or illegal material was found prior to a laptop search, only the suspect’s disheveled appearance and suspicious behavior led the agents to be suspicious.
“But other case rulings disagree with the case in Los Angeles. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that forensic analysis of a laptop by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is permissible without probable cause or a warrant.”
Other countries subject their visitors to the same kind of surveillance. Sometimes there are things that are legal in the home country that are illegal in the host country. “In Saudi Arabia, possessing non-Islamic religious materials, such as the Bible, is grounds for seizure and possible legal action,” said Stratfor.
In October of 2006, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives warned its members that their laptops could be seized by the U.S. government… “Other countries reserve the right to inspect and/or confiscate laptops at their borders. Executive travelers are taking precautions, leaving sensitive data at home or encrypting it so that it cannot be accessed.”
Let me ask you, do you think international or even domestic travel is going to eventually become dangerous to those proclaiming the three angel’s messages? What if their laptop has the Spirit of Prophecy loaded on the hard drive, once such materials are considered contraband. What if, while traveling to proclaim the last warning message to the world, they are discovered having other materials revealing their connections to religious principles that will have become illegal such as Sabbath observance?
I was once in the customs hall in the Dominican Republic. The inspectors wanted to inspect my box of books by Elder Nelson called “Antichrist” in Spanish. I could not speak Spanish and they could not speak English. But I knew they were interested in what the book said about the antichrist. When I could see that they realized that they were not going to get any information from me, I decided to pick up the box and walk out. Fortunately, they did not stop me, because it is not illegal to bring books into the Dominican Republic. But this experience set me to thinking. What if the teachings found in that book are illegal in some nations, or the teachings of the book Great Controversy. Would they be confiscated and I be put in prison for trying to bring illegal materials into their country, even though I didn’t know they were illegal.
But what if my laptop contained religious information or teachings that were illegal? In the new security environment, the inspection of contents of personal computers is certainly ominous. Could there eventually arise an environment in which the teachings of God’s word concerning the papacy on one’s electronic device, be treated as illegal smuggling?
For those who don’t know much about technology like myself, the question arises, how do Customs officials have the capability of searching a computer’s contents when computers have huge hard drives and store enormous amounts of information? Actually, it is relatively easy. Key word search programs can and have been developed for this. A CD loaded with the program can be inserted into the CD drive and in a few minutes the whole database can be searched for the key words that might lead to contraband information or material.
Next: The Catholic Church Debates the Death Penalty for Saddam Hussein.
“No one doubts Saddam Hussein is guilty of gruesome crimes, but Catholic scholars are mixed about whether his death sentence is justified by Church teaching. Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the verdict against Saddam was wrong…” said the National Catholic Register, November 19-25, 2006.
“But Michael Novak, a theologian who argued the United States’ case at the Vatican for going to war in Iraq, said that there are circumstances where Church teaching would allow for capital punishment. And if ever there were an exception, this would be it.”
“Paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: ‘The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. But the Catechism also makes clear that if non-lethal means can protect society from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means.”
The National Catholic Register went on to discuss the different opinions concerning this matter. But it is interesting to note that the Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is justifiable in certain circumstances when other non-lethal means cannot be used to prevent more deaths.
Think about this my friends. Even though the Catholic Church continually works against the death penalty in nations all over the world, when, under the severe judgments of God or disasters brought on by Satan, Sunday laws are enacted in order to stay God’s wrath. Eventually a death penalty will be applied to those who refuse to obey these Sunday laws. It is clear that the Catholic Church will be able to support the death penalty in this case, as a means of preventing more human loss of life, by the newly defined aggressor – God’s faithful people who keep his Sabbath, but who are blamed for the huge losses.
Next: Saddam Hussein Executed
On Sabbath morning, Bagdad time, December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging. He was transferred to Iraqi government custody by the U.S. government just a few hours prior to his execution. There are several interesting points. The cell phone camera that captured the execution and spread it all over the world, revealed the ruthless taunting and humiliation his executioners poured out on him. It is incredible to think that one day, God’s people may face the same kind of execution including the triumphal humiliation by their enemies. And it may be broadcast for all to see.
Next: Benedict XVI and Religious Liberty
Benedict XVI met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on November 20, 2006 reported Zenit. He pointed out to the president that “religious freedom is not simply the absence of violence against believers. The Church and the state,” he said, “though fully different, are both called, according to their respective missions and with their own ends and means, to serve man who is at once the end and participant of the salvific mission of the Church and citizen of the state, and they collaborate in promoting his integral good.”
While all this sounds good to most people, the point here is that Church and state, meaning the Catholic Church working with the state, are to cooperate together for the salvation of man… The mixing of church and state has never been good for the salvation of man. Neither has it benefited his “integral good.” Mixing church and state has always created a state of religious tyranny whether the dominant religion is Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or anything else. When the Catholic Church has the power to use the state according to her own mission, she has historically become intolerant of any religion or religious ideas that don’t agree with her. The ecumenical movement since Vatican II, has opened the door for most protestant Christians to agree with Rome on many doctrines, and will eventually lead them to recognize the pope as the head of all the churches. Hence the pope, even in protestant countries will have enormous influence on religious politics.
“The Pope said that it is an error ‘to consider that the right to religious freedom is sufficiently guaranteed when personal convictions suffer no violence or interference, or when we limit ourselves to respecting the expression of faith within the confines of a place of worship.’”
This comment emphasizes that the Catholic Church teaches that religious expression of Catholics is to be respected in state laws and ordinances, wherever and however they are expressed. He is in essence saying that true religious freedom doesn’t exist until the state has aligned itself with canon law and does not conflict with the Papal agenda in matters that she holds important, such as the right to life, including abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment, Sunday laws, and other laws important to Rome, and which Rome teaches are needed by all citizens of the state.
“An adequate respect of the right to religious freedom implies, then,” said Benedict, “the commitment of civil authorities in helping to create conditions favourable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfil their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in men’s faithfulness to God and to His holy will,” said Benedict.
“The freedom that the Church and Christians claim” said the pontiff, “does not prejudice the interests of the state or of other social groups, and does not seek an authoritative supremacy over them. Rather, it is a condition enabling the fulfilment of the vital service that the Church offers to Italy, and all other countries in which she is present.”
Rome knows that any state that accepts this “salvific” principle of civil life, will naturally defer to the Church when church dogma is at stake, so it is easy to say that the Church does not seek an authoritative supremacy over the state. If the state develops conditions favourable to the Church, it will naturally happen. The church doesn’t need to “seek” it.
Rome claims that it is not appropriate for the state to make laws that restrict the religious life of the people, or allow special interest groups to pressure the state to make laws contrary or prejudiced against Rome’s agenda. Benedict expanded his remarks about Italy to include all nations where she has a presence.
When the time and circumstances permit, Rome will again press for Sunday laws and persecution of those that do not obey them. Rome never changes her core mission, though for a time she may change the surface features and language she uses. Keep in mind that it is the Papal purpose to bring the world under her religious dominion.
Next: Representative Charles Rangel Will Introduce the Military Draft
USA Today reported on November 20, 2006 that representative to congress Charles Rangel will introduce a bill to reinstate the draft. He claims that it will be a way of deterring politicians from launching wars, and would increase the number of troops that are currently insufficient to provide for “potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.”
Rangel thinks he can get better traction this time with a military draft bill. At a time when some lawmakers are urging the military to send more troops to Iraq, “I don’t see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft,” said Rangel. Rangel is the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is a committee that would deliberate about how to develop support and infrastructure for all sorts of major government projects including military strength.
Next: Jose Padilla Case in Trouble.
The Washington Post reported on November 19, 2006 that “after he was arrested in 2002, Jose Padilla was considered so dangerous that he was held without charges in a military prison for more than three years – accused first of plotting a radiological ‘dirty bomb’ attack and later of conspiring with al-Qaeda to blow up apartment buildings with natural gas.
“But now, nearly a year after his abrupt transfer into a regular criminal court, the Justice Department’s prosecution of the former Chicago gang member is running into trouble.
“A Republican-appointed federal judge in Miami has already dumped the most serious conspiracy count against Padilla, removing for now the possibility of a life sentence. The same judge has also disparaged the government’s case as ‘light on facts’ while defence lawyers have made detailed allegations that Padilla was illegally tortured, threatened and perhaps even drugged during his detention at a Navy brig in South Carolina.
“The Justice Department denied the allegations of torture last week and is pursuing an appeal of the conspiracy ruling in hopes that the charge will be reinstated…
“But some legal scholars and defence lawyers argue that the government’s case is so fundamentally weak, and its legal options so limited, that Padilla could draw a relatively minor prison term or even be acquitted…
Stephen I. Vladeck, an associate law professor at the University of Miami, said, “It’s certainly not near as strong a case as it was made out to be when the indictment was unsealed.”
It seems that the government misrepresented their case, hoping that fear-laden Americans, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, would willingly agree that waiving this U.S. citizen’s personal rights was acceptable so long as the government’s case against him was long on fear, even though the evidence, which was kept secret at the time, was “short on facts.” This case also emphasizes the fact that when evidence against a U.S. citizen is kept secret, the government has much more leverage, and can even prevaricate without any accountability. This is the stuff of the inquisition. All evidence against the accused was kept secret and detentions were indefinite without trial and generally without access to lawyers. Evidence was gathered through torture and inhumane treatment. The democratic rise to power in Congress, and the setbacks to the administration’s agenda of implementing the inquisition in America is no doubt an effort by the angels of heaven to hold back the winds of strife.
Padilla may be a criminal, but the U.S. justice system has the capability of dealing with such people while protecting their rights as citizens. The effort to bypass the Constitution in the name of fighting terror is tantamount to an inquisitorial dictatorship.
Next: The Projection of American Power is Now almost World Wide
The Lew Rockwell website ran an article about the reach of American power. Their report on their research follows.
“Nothing compares to the US global empire. What makes U.S. hegemony unique is that it consists, not of control over great land masses or population centers, but of the global presence unlike that of any other country in history.
“The extent of the U.S. global empire is almost incalculable. The latest ‘Base Structure Report’ of the Department of Defence states that the Department’s physical assets consist of ‘more than 600,000 individual buildings and structures, at more than 6,000 locations, on more than 30 million acres.’
“Although most of these locations are in the continental United states, 96 of them are in U.S. territories around the globe, and 702 of them are in foreign countries. But as Chalmers Johnson has documented, the figure of 702 foreign military installations is too low, for it does not include installations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan. Johnson estimates that an honest count would be closer to 1000.
“The number of countries that the United states has a presence in is staggering. According [to] the U.S. Department of State’s list of ‘Independent States in the World,’ there are 192 countries in the world, all of which, except Bhutan, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea, have diplomatic relations with the United States. All of these countries except one (Vatican City) are members of the United Nations. According to the Department of Defence publication, “Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country,’ the United States has troops in 135 countries…
“This means that the United States has troops in 70 percent of the world’s countries. The average American could probably not locate half of these 135 countries on a map.
“To this list could be added regions like the Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia, Gibralter, and the Atlantic Ocean island of St. Helena, which are still controlled by Great Britain, but not considered sovereign countries. Greenland is also home to U.S. troops, but is technically part of Denmark…
“Possessions of the United States like Guam, Johnston Atoll, Puerto Rico, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and the Virgin Islands are likewise home to U.S. troops. Guam has over 3,200.
“Regular troop strength ranges from a low of 1 in Malawi to a high of 74,796 in Germany. At the time the most recent ‘Personnel Strengths’ document was released by the government (September 30, 2003), there were 183,002 troops deployed to Iraq, an unspecified number of which came from the U.S. forces in Germany and Italy…
“The U.S. global empire – an empire that Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, Genghis Khan, Suleiman the Magnificent, Justinian, and King George V would be proud of.”
This research was published in 2004. I wonder what the numbers are like today. There has probably been somewhat of an increase in the global hegemony of the United States.
Next: Bank Records Secretly Tapped
“The Bush administration,” said the Washington Post, “relying on a presidential declaration of emergency, has secretly been tapping into a vast global database of confidential financial transactions for nearly five years, according to U.S. government and industry officials.
“Initiated shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 the surveillance program has used a broad new interpretation of the Treasury Department’s administrative powers to bypass traditional banking privacy protections. It has swept in large volumes of international money transfers, including many made by U.S. citizens and residents, in an effort to track the locations, identities and activities of suspected terrorists.
“Current and former counterterrorism officials said the program works in parallel with the previously reported surveillance of international telephone calls, faxes and e-mails by the National Security Agency, which has eavesdropped without warrants on more than 5,000 Americans suspected of terrorist links. Together with a hundredfold expansion of the FBI’s use of ‘national security letters’ to obtain communications and banking records, the secret NSA and Treasury programs have built unprecedented government databases of private transactions, most of them involving people who prove irrelevant to terrorism investigations.
“Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an interview last night that the newly disclosed program – the existence of which the government had sought to conceal – has used the agency’s powers of administrative subpoena to compel an international banking consortium to open its records. The Brussels-based cooperative, known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, links about 7,800 banks and brokerages and handles billions of transactions a year.
“Terrorism investigators had sought access to SWIFT’s database since the 1990s, but other government and industry authorities balked at the potential blow to confidence in the banking system. After the 2001 attacks, President Bush overrode those objections and invoked his powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to ‘investigate, regulate or prohibit’ any foreign financial transaction linked to ‘an unusual and extraordinary threat.’
“‘It is not ‘data mining,’ or trolling through the private financial records of Americans,” said Levey. “It is not a ‘fishing expedition,’ but rather a sharp harpoon aimed at the heart of terrorist activity.”
It has however involved reviewing some American citizen’s transactions without a warrant. This report reveals the ongoing effort to compromise privacy and personal rights in the name of the war on terror.
Next: The Vatican to Review State of Limbo
On October 6, 2006 the BBC reported that the Catholic Church is reviewing the state of limbo. “Catholic experts are expected to advise Pope Benedict XVI that teachings on the state of limbo – somewhere between heaven and hell – should be amended.
“For centuries many Roman Catholics have believed that the souls of babies who die before baptism remain in limbo. But the concept has never been part of the official church teaching, and it is thought Pope Benedict may be keen to do away with it. The Pope has been quoted as dismissing the notion as a mere ‘hypothesis.’
“The Catholic Church is concerned about the grief suffered by the parents of stillborn babies, which could be compounded if they believed the souls of their children were to be excluded from heaven.
“The theory of limbo was expounded in the Middle Ages as a solution to the theological question over what happened to the souls of babies who had not been cleansed by baptism of the ‘original sin’ Catholics believe is inherent in all humanity, but were too young to have committed any sins of their own…
“The Catholic Church is usually very tenacious about is beliefs and does not change its teaching lightly, says the BBC’s David Willey in Rome. However, Benedict, who before he became Pope was the Church’s top authority on doctrine, is known to be keen to tie up loose theological ends.”
It is obvious that this monstrous doctrine has no basis in scripture, but is a response to parental concerns and fears related to a sister monstrous doctrine called original sin. Now for the same reason, it appears that it may be done away with. Note that the doctrine of original sin is a catholic doctrine. It has no foundation in scripture. Why then is it taught in Adventist schools and seminaries around the world?
Next: Rice Praises Pope Benedict’s ‘Love of Humanity’
This is from NewsMax.com, Tuesday Sept 19, 2006
“U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, entering a firestorm over Pope Benedict’s comments on Islam, praised him for his ‘love of humanity’ and said people sometimes offended others without meaning to.
“Rice said the Pope regretted his comments, which were seen as portraying Islam as a violent faith, and said the pontiff was known for his desire for tolerance in the world. ‘Look, we all need better understanding. We all need to understand that offence can sometimes be taken when perhaps we don’t see it,’ Rice said Tuesday in an interview with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’
The Pope did not “regret” his comments, as Rice claims. It is a well-known fact that he only regretted the reaction to his comments. This is what really stirred Islam. The fact is, the Pope meant to say those things, perhaps to stir islam and then insert himself as the negotiator of peace.
It is interesting that a high-profile political figure from the American government would defend the Pope’s actions and try to minimize the impact of his comments about Islam being cruel and inhuman. Remember, Condoleezza Rice was given an honorary law degree from Boston college, a prestigious Jesuit university after a strong attempt to implement inquisitorial law in the United States in spite of the Constitution. Though Condoleezza Rice was raised a Presbyterian, she has certainly found friends in high places in the Vatican and is cultivating them.
Next: Internment Camps to be Preserved
The Associated Press published the following report which was carried by CNN.
“President Bush has signed into law a $38 million grant program to preserve notorious internment camps where Japanese-Americans were kept behind barbed wire during World War II.
“The money will be administered by the National Park Service to restore and pay for research at 10 camps. The law is intended to help preserve the camps as reminders of how the United States turned on some of its citizens in a time of fear.
“The camps housed more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans — U.S. citizens and residents — under an executive order signed by President Roosevelt in 1942. America was still reeling from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
“At the time there were fears that Japanese-Americans were loyal to Japan. Roosevelt’s order prohibited them from living on the West Coast, in a position possibly to help an invasion force.
“Thousands of families in California and parts of Washington State, Oregon and Arizona were pushed from their homes and into camps surrounded by armed guards. The sites named in the legislation are in California, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho.
“The last of the camps closed in 1946. “President Reagan signed a presidential apology to Japanese-Americans in 1988.
“Co-sponsors of the bill included the two current members of Congress who spent time in the camps as children: Democratic Reps. Mike Honda and Doris Matsui of California. Matsui was born in the Poston camp in Arizona.
“The National Park Service already operates facilities at two of the 10 camps: the Manzanar National Historic Site in California and the Minidoka Internment National Monument in Idaho.
“The law will give grants to nonfederal organizations for historical, research and restoration work at the sites named in the legislation, as well as others selected by the head of the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service.”
Even as these camps are being preserved, for historical purposes, could they be used for more modern internment? In times of fear, internment camps have been used to mistreat American citizens and deprive them of their rights. It happens that in the current environment of fear, we are again doing the same thing. Would it be out of the question for a future time of fear to also include internment camps for those villainized as religious extremists, but who simply follow the teachings of the Bible?
Next: Catholics Continue as Largest Bloc in the New Congress
On Jan. 5, 2007 Catholic World News.com reported that “Catholics form the largest religious group in the new US Congress,” according to Reuters news service. “Roman Catholics form by far the largest group: nearly double the size of the second-largest religious contingent, the Baptists. In addition to various Protestant groups, the new Congress includes 15 Mormons, Adventists, 2 Buddhists, and the first Muslim ever to serve in the US House of Representatives. The results of a survey by Americans for Religious Liberty showed that largest religious blocs in Congress were Catholics (with 155 members), Baptists (67), Methodists (61), Presbyterians (44), and Jews (43).
The Washington Post reported on January 6, 2007 that the new congress has a number of firsts, the first Muslim, the first Buddhists (two of them) and the first time that Jews outnumber Episcopalians.
I managed to find a list of all the affiliations of the 110th Congress and I have discovered that Catholics have increased by 1, keeping their percentage about the same, at 30%, though the new Catholics in Congress are predominately democrats and generally more liberal than their counterparts in the 109th Congress. Baptists and Presbyterians lost eight members, while Methodists stayed the same. Jews increased by one. Adventist members were not up for re-election this time, so they stayed at 2. Catholics are numbered at 155, which is more than twice as many as the second largest group, the Baptists, which number 67. Catholic World News misstated this.
Remember, whether liberal or conservative, Sunday keeping members of congress are going to mostly support Sunday laws when a crisis serious enough creates pressure on them to pass Sunday laws.
Next: President Bush Claims Power to Open Americans’ Mail Without Warrants
On January 5, 2007, the Christian Science Monitor reported that “in a move that experts say contradicted the postal reform bill he had just signed into law, President Bush quietly issued a “signing statement” two weeks ago that claimed he has the right to open Americans’ first-class US mail without a judge’s warrant. The New York Daily News reports that the signing statement was issued on Dec. 20 after the president signed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, an act which dealt with mostly ‘mundane reform measures’ but which also strongly reinforced protections against opening mail without a warrant.
“The Daily News says those who have seen the signing statement say it seems to take executive authority far beyond even the limits the Bush administration has pursued in the past few years, and in ways such that the new powers could be easily abused.
“The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington. “The danger is they’re reading Americans’ mail,” she said.
“‘You have to be concerned,” agreed a career senior US official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush’s claim. “It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we’ve ever known.’
As is often the case with signing statements, the administration is taking a serious step in constitutional authority without congressional debate. When Congress passes a law, President Bush often uses a signing statement to reject certain limitations on presidential power, or to change the meaning of the law into advice, or cautionary language.
Though the government defends its action, this is just one more example of the growth of presidential power, leading us closer to a dictatorship, and the ongoing expansion of surveillance in America and of American citizens.
Well, our time has run out… Until next time, may God bless and keep you and your family in His loving and protecting care as we near the end. Keep the faith!
Did Christ ever used His divine nature to aid Him in meeting temptation?