Audio - 15 May 2021

Latest Audio - 2021-05-15

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World Tomorrow
by Mr Armstrong
Why Religious Confusion - Part 2
broadcast around 1980 - played Wales UK 15 May 2021
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Sermon
by Jon Bowles
Our Baptism Promise - Part 3
given Wales UK 7 Jun 2014 - played Wales UK 15 May 2021
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News Review - 14 May 2021
Tipping Point

Lies… disinformation… fear… mistrust… extremism… criminalization of dissent… impending economic disaster…
are we close to…

“The Tipping Point”?

Why all the lies and disinformation?
Why the climate of fear and mistrust?
Why the crackdown on free speech?
Why is extremism a huge problem?
Why the push for totalitarian governments?
Why the criminalization of dissent?
Why are the world’s economies in meltdown?
Why is our food supply system so fragile?

Once Covid-19 was identified, the lies and disinformation started. It was the usual satanic mix of lies laced with just enough truth to make the ideas plausible. Here are just a few of the stories that set the trend:

The Covid-19 Vaccine Will Contain A Microchip

Despite the majority of us keeping our fingers crossed for a Covid-19 vaccine to be developed as soon as possible, others on the internet are sceptical about the benefits of such a cure.

‘Nanotechnology Microchips’

Youtuber David Icke claimed that a coronavirus vaccine, when there is one, will contain ‘nanotechnology microchips’ that would in theory allow humans to be controlled.

Vodka Can Be Used As Hand Sanitiser

Despite official information advising the public to use hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of at least 60%, this does not mean that your regular bottle of vodka will do the same job. Unfortunately, 32% of adults in the UK surveyed by YouGov believe this to be true. Best to stick to the anti-bacterial gel rather than the booze.

Being Able To Hold Your Breath For 10 Seconds Means You Don’t Have Coronavirus

As self-diagnosis tests go, this might qualify as the most simplistic. Claimed in a false chain email purporting to be sent by NHS staff, the theory that being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds without any discomfort confirms that you’re not infected with Covid-19 is, alas, unfounded.

DisneyPlus Released Covid-19 In Time For Its Launch

It might just be pure coincidence, but the conspiracy theorists on the internet are convinced that Disney launched their own streaming service conveniently in time for the Coronavirus lockdown. Well we do have more time to watch Frozen II now…

Covid-19 Arrived From Space

Kicking off the coronavirus conspiracies is a classic ‘aliens did it’ theory. According to Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, Covid-19 arrived on earth via a fireball from space that burnt up in China last October.

Covid-19 Is, In Fact, 5G Attacking Our Brains

If you thought that all of your frustration at your phone’s 4G rinsing your battery and simply not working well was finally over with the arrival of the mythical 5G, then think again. Because, according to the internet, 5G towers are, in fact, the cause of Coronavirus.

Coconut Oil Also Cures Covid-19

Taking the wellness obsession with coconut oil one step further is the coronavirus conspiracy theory that the oil’s lauric content can stop the illness. As of yet, no definitive cure or vaccine for Covid-19 has been formulated and with no factual information on coconut oil’s benefits for coronavirus victims, we’d stick to using it in curries and on your scalp for now.

Covid-19 Is A Marketing Scheme By Hand Sanitiser Companies

With hand washing a key element in the communication around Coronavirus prevention, hand sanitiser has seen a meteoric rise from Glastonbury essential, to the most sought after item in modern history. As such, the internet has deduced that Covid-19 is in fact a marketing scheme devised by anti-bac gel companies to up sales.” (elle.com)

Why Conspiracy Theories?

“Ultimately, people get caught up in conspiracy theories for a multitude of reasons.

It might simply be that the theory aligns with their pre-existing beliefs and opinions, giving their feelings of anxiety an outlet to focus on.

For others, placing the blame on a specific person, country, or organisation, may give a face to the invisible threat of the virus.

They may even simply just provide a form of escapism that distracts from the bleak reality of the situation.

Even more concerning, is that most people have no idea that some of the agents spreading them are doing so for their agendas. By exploiting the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic these agents attempt to push people towards divisive and politically polarising views, creating distrust in mainstream media and science.

We need to recognise that conspiracy theories are flourishing due to a climate of fear, mistrust, and lack of knowledge about the virus.” (kcl.ac.uk)

Our Viewpoint:

Forget All The Conspiracy Theories… What Is Really Happening?

Our job is to stay alert to events, not to get involved in conspiracy theories and lies. We need to concentrate on what is actually happening.

Let’s start with mental health. Mental health is a real issue. After a year of lockdowns, face masks, social distancing, separated from friends and family, school closures and no holidays, many are having mental health problems and fear is a real problem. Keep in mind that this is the “selfie” generation – the emphasis is on the three most important people on the planet – Me, Myself and I!

Fear is an end time curse:

“Your life will constantly hang in the balance. You will live night and day in fear, unsure if you will survive. In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were night!’ And in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’ For you will be terrified by the awful horrors you see around you.” (Deuteronomy 28:66-67 NLT)

Lockdown Is The Ultimate Safe Space

“Countries are starting to open back up again, but not everyone is happy. Many of those on the Left are worried about having to emerge from hiding from the virus at home and get back to dealing with the demands of everyday life.

A Google search of the phrase ‘I’m anxious about lockdown ending’, or for similar terms on social media, reveals a number of people who really took it to heart when the state sold them on the idea of home being a safe space from the virus.

Now that lockdown is being lifted, they’re worrying about having to go back to socializing normally with people instead of living largely behind a computer screen. They’re nervous about venturing out into a world of non-zero risk where Covid is still lurking. Many also apparently enjoyed lockdown because it alleviated their Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

‘Does anybody else have anxiety about lockdown ending?’ asked a Cosmopolitan magazine writer last month, pointing out that lockdown has been good for her mental health. According to the BBC, emerging from lockdown is sparking social anxiety. ‘In a weird way, lockdown has become a kind of comfort zone,’ says a writer for Stylist magazine.

‘Comfort zone’ is really just another term for safe space – something that’s synonymous with leftists and their perpetual quest for comfort, both emotional and physical.(rt.com)

FOMO?

With today’s generation, it’s all about “Me, Myself and I!”

I’ve got terminal FOMO. I can’t cope with life after lockdown. Sarah Carson is overwhelmed by plans – and the fear of missing out – since the government announced its road map on Monday.

It took about 15 minutes after the government announced the road map out of lockdown for my optimism to be replaced by panic. I want to see my friends – sure, love ’em to bits – but only on the condition that everyone else I like, dislike, work with, studied with, went to playgroup with, have on social media, once bumped into in the queue at the tip or have simply ‘met’, is not having any experiences that might threaten to overshadow or be more enjoyable than mine.” (inews.co.uk)

Covid-19: Conspiracy Theories And Extremist Grooming

“A young man sits in his room; he is sick of his family, his apprenticeship or course has been halted because of Covid-19 so he isn’t mixing with people at work or college. He is bored, he is angry, he is also scared because the whole structure of his world and his life has gone.

He clicks on a social media post that tells him that it is all a con. This feeds into what he wishes were true; he doesn’t want to believe that Covid-19 is out there as a threat to his family, but if it is real, and he isn’t sure that it is, then isn’t it better to blame it on someone he doesn’t like the sound of: Bill Gates, Muslims, Jews.

Fear and anger make simple answers attractive, Covid-19 is caused by 5G masts, Bill Gates wants to implant chips into us all so he can monitor and control us, this is a Muslim plot to take over Britain, or it is part of the medieval and Nazi conspiracy theory which blames the Jewish community for everything that goes wrong.

Since 2015 UK trust in the news has gone down 12% points from 40% to 28%. The UK population currently has one of the lowest levels of trust in news media. In the past we regarded ourselves as very fortunate to have the BBC as a neutral source of news; however, the level of trust in the BBC has also declined since 2018. In the UK 34 % of 16-24 year olds say that they get their news from social media. For 16-24 year olds the most popular are still Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp.

This reliance on social media for more and more of our news, especially at a time of national crisis, has made it easier for extremists to draw people in.

Life has been difficult, individuals and families have lost their jobs or lost income, people’s lives have been constrained into small bubbles. All of this has reinforced anxiety, anger and a desire to find someone to blame.

Users of social media do not always realise that they are entering the world of extremism. Vulnerable people are often drawn in using clickbait: an image or heading which will interest the reader. This might be an image of a 5G mast with a heading stating that Covid-19 is a cover for the dangers of 5G. Once social media users have clicked through they find that they are in a world of conspiracy theories which in turn leads them to far-right extremism

The Covid-19 crisis has provided the perfect opportunity for extremists to groom people, through the use of conspiracy theories but also through a presence on social media. People are scared, angry and isolated. As life returns to a semblance of normality there can be little doubt that we have more people, like the young man in his bedroom, who will have been drawn into extremism. This will be a major challenge for all of us who are involved in countering extremism in the months and years to come.” (governmentevents.co.uk)

Alert COVID-19: Crackdown On Free Speech

“An important article in RT Op Ed entitled ‘UK wants to use literal army to fight “anti-vaccine propaganda” online’ begs the question ‘Are we in a budding totalitarian state’ involving censorship and a crackdown on free speech? With the impending rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine, a UK military cyber unit has been tasked to crack down on ‘online propaganda against vaccines.’ Questioning something that will be injected into your body is now deemed radical.

With the anti-lockdown narrative beginning to become more prominent throughout the UK following the arrest of 150 people over the past weekend, a clampdown on independent thought is looming. The arrests were made because of anti-lockdown protests in London, and the heavy-handed nature of dealing with these protests is extraordinarily alarming.

Now the crackdown is moving online, where the gradual destruction of free speech is becoming ever more blatant and cynical. The Sunday Times reported that there is even a brazen operation to suppress people’s fundamental right to express their opinion.

Just think, at the beginning of January 2020 – nobody would have thought – not in their wildest nightmares – what would be coming to humanity within the next few months – all possible because of an atrocious fear campaign.

Clever – fear from an invisible enemy.

People with fear will end up with a vastly reduced immune system, vulnerable to all kinds of infectious diseases, not just covid. Fear also reduces the will to resist – people under fear can be manipulated.” (globalresearch.ca)

The Criminalization Of Dissent

“One of the hallmarks of totalitarian systems is the criminalization of dissent. Not just the stigmatization of dissent or the demonization of dissent, but the formal criminalization of dissent, and any other type of opposition to the official ideology of the totalitarian system. Global capitalism has been inching its way toward this step for quite some time, and now, apparently, it is ready to take it. Germany has been leading the way.

For over a year, anyone questioning or protesting the ‘Covid emergency measures’ or the official Covid-19 narrative has been demonized by the government and the media, and, sadly, but not completely unexpectedly, the majority of the German public. And now such dissent is officially ‘extremism.’

Yes, that’s right, in ‘New Normal’ Germany, if you dissent from the official state ideology, you are now officially a dangerous ‘extremist.’

They’re probably Google-translating this column right now, compiling a list of all the people reading it, and their Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and professional associates, and family members, and anyone any of the aforementioned people have potentially met with, or casually mentioned, who might have engaged in similar thoughtcrimes.

You probably think I’m joking, don’t you?
I’m not joking.
Not even slightly.

The Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (‘Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz’) is actively monitoring anyone questioning or challenging the official ‘New Normal’ ideology… the ‘Covid Deniers,’ the ‘conspiracy theorists,’ the ‘anti-vaxxers,’ the dreaded ‘Querdenkers’ (ie, people who ‘think outside the box’), and anyone else they feel like monitoring who has refused to join the Covidian Cult.

We’re now official enemies of the state, no different than any other ‘terrorists’.” (technocracy.news)

Coronavirus: How The Pandemic Has Changed The World Economy

“The coronavirus pandemic has reached almost every country in the world. Its spread has left national economies and businesses counting the costs, as governments struggle with new lockdown measures to tackle the spread of the virus.

Global shares in flux - Big shifts in stock markets, where shares in companies are bought and sold, can affect the value of pensions or individual savings accounts (Isas). The FTSE, Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nikkei all saw huge falls as the number of Covid-19 cases grew in the first months of the crisis.

A difficult year for job seekers - Many people have lost their jobs or seen their incomes cut. Unemployment rates have increased across major economies.

Most of countries now in recession - If the economy is growing, that generally means more wealth and more new jobs. The IMF estimates that the global economy shrunk by 4.4% in 2020. The organisation described the decline as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Travel still far from taking off - The travel industry has been badly damaged, with airlines cutting flights and customers cancelling business trips and holidays. New variants of the virus - discovered only in recent months - have forced many countries to introduce tighter travel restrictions.

Hospitality sector has shut its doors worldwide - The hospitality sector has been hit hard, with millions of jobs and many companies bankrupt. Billions of dollars have been lost in 2020 and although the forecast for 2021 is better, many analysts believe that international travel and tourism won’t return to the normal pre-pandemic levels until around 2025.

Shopping… at home - Retail footfall has seen unprecedented falls as shoppers stayed at home. Pedestrian numbers have fallen further from the first lockdown, according to research firm ShopperTrak…

Pharmaceutical companies among the winners - Shares in some pharmaceutical companies involved in vaccine development have shot up. Moderna, Novavax and AstraZeneca have seen significant rises.” (bbc.co.uk)

Impact Of COVID-19 On Our Food Systems

The pandemic has been affecting the entire food system and has laid bare its fragility. Border closures, trade restrictions and confinement measures have been preventing farmers from accessing markets, including for buying inputs and selling their produce, and agricultural workers from harvesting crops, thus disrupting domestic and international food supply chains and reducing access to healthy, safe and diverse diets.

The pandemic has decimated jobs and placed millions of livelihoods at risk. As breadwinners lose jobs, fall ill and die, the food security and nutrition of millions of women and men are under threat, with those in low-income countries, particularly the most marginalized populations, which include small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples, being hardest hit.” (who.int)

Why Is This Happening?
Why Here?
Why Now?

Why all the lies and disinformation?
Why the climate of fear and mistrust?
Why the crackdown on free speech?
Why is extremism a huge problem?
Why the push towards totalitarian governments?
Why the criminalization of dissent?
Why are the world’s economies in meltdown?
Why is our food supply system so fragile?

Is This World Being Prepared For The Great Tribulation?

It certainly looks like it. Before they entered the Promised Land, God gave Israel this warning – aimed at us today. Note: it’s “when you are in tribulation” – not if!

And when? “In the latter days”!

“When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days…” (Deuteronomy 4:30)

How serious is the tribulation? Jeremiah was inspired to warn:

“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jeremiah 30:7)

Daniel made it even clearer…

“…and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time…” (Daniel 12:1)

Finally, Jesus Christ gave this warning:

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive]… but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)

Where We Are - Now

At the end of this age, the powers that be will have total control over the financial system. Right now, those who are pushing for the “Great Reset” want a world digital currency. Once this is achieved, the rulers will have total control over the population. Those who will not obey the rules will find themselves simply “switched off”, as the Bible makes very clear. This is being planned and discussed right now! All they need is a good worldwide crisis!

“And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name [authority] of the beast or the number representing his name.” (Revelation 13:17, NLT)

Many, including Mr Armstrong, have predicted a coming worldwide financial collapse – the perfect situation for the Great Reset – and introduction of the digital currency… Does this tie in with what we read about in I Thessalonians 5:3?

“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (I Thessalonians 5:3, KJV)

Are they saying “peace and safety” because they have just survived a major crisis? A worldwide financial meltdown would almost certainly be blamed on the US and Britain – hence they face sudden destruction!

Nations do not give up their national sovereignty easily – yet at the end of the age, 10 nations do exactly that! The “Beast” appears to have the solution to all the problems, so to survive, they give their power to him!

“The ten horns of the beast are ten kings who have not yet risen to power. They will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast. They will all agree to give him their power and authority.(Revelation 17:12-13, NLT)

At the same time, food will be in short supply – and expensive. The Bible warns of a time when a day’s wages will be barely enough to provide one meal! Food prices are already on the increase and inflation is on the rise!

“And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:6, KJV)

Is the world is being conditioned to be ready for the Great Tribulation?

Covid-19 has filled the world with fear.
Attitudes are changing.
There is a crackdown on free speech.
People who don’t take the vaccine are being socially ostracized

Now we start to see the criminalization of dissent. Anyone who does not agree with the official view is branded as an extremist – an enemy of the State. Governments around the world are falling into a totalitarian mindset.

So: Are we dangerously close to “the Tipping Point”?


Forget The Conspiracy Theories – Watch What Is Actually Happening!

Watch Events!

Pastors Report - 7 May 2021
Breath Of Life

The Breath of Life

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7)

Shortness of Breath

Across the world today there is a shortness of breath. Covid 19 appears particularly prone to attacking the lungs of infected individuals, disrupting the normal intake of air, and so the patients require additional oxygen just to survive. This is especially true right now in India where there is an acute shortage of available oxygen, and as a result multiple thousands are dying – simply from 'lack of breath'.

But there is another lack of breath that is even more prevalent today, and unless this is rectified, every last man, woman and child across the earth will lose their lives – eternally. It is interesting that the word 'spirit' in both the Hebrew 'ruwach' and the Greek 'pneuma' can equally be translated as breath as it can spirit. And as we approach the Day of Pentecost in a week's time our minds need to be focused once again on the incredible privilege it is to 'breathe' that spirit/breath - a 'breath' that will ultimately lead to the availability of life to all mankind.

Anguish of Spirit

When ancient Israel was in the process of coming out of Egypt the Eternal laid out in encouraging terms the marvellous deliverance He was planning to give them. And yet their negative reaction to this fabulous news carries a great deal more meaning when we understand just what the Hebrew words convey:

  • Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
  • And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
  • And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.
  • And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage. (Exodus 6:6-9)

The interesting phrase to note is right at the end of verse 9: 'for anguish of spirit', which literally in the Hebrew reads as 'shortness of spirit', or 'shortness of breath'. After all, it wasn't just the physical slavery that caused them not to hear what Moses had just delivered to them, but also a lack of the spiritual perception – the very lesson that both they and we in the church today and indeed all mankind – must learn in our respective lifetimes.

Having been completely overcome with the 'cares of this world', ancient Israel could not understand the transcendental spiritual dimension of all that God was explaining to them – but eventually they will! God's plan for all of Israel – including those He led out of Egypt three and a half thousand years ago – is to breathe into their nostrils once again the physical breath of life. And at the same time – and for them the very first time – God will make available the true breath of life, that will eventually give rise to an eternal existence:

  • So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army (Ezekiel 37:10)
  • And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:14)
Words Activate Spirit

We are reminded in II Timothy that the Holy Spirit which we in the church have been given, is the spirit of "power, and of love and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7). As concerning the power aspect that Paul mentions – it is hard for us to grasp the sheer immensity and scope of this concept. We are talking about the power, the force, the spiritual 'energy' that God used to stretch the heavens out as a curtain initially (Isaiah 40:22), and that now sustains reality – what we see and experience each and every day of our lives. And yet this power is predicted to be controlled by all of God's born sons in the future, as brought out in Philippians:

  • For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
  • Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20,21)

Using the spoken word, Christ commanded "Let there be light" and the atmosphere thinned to let the light through to the surface of the water (Genesis 1:3). Christ's words were dynamically controlling the creative power of the spirit itself – mentioned as moving upon the face of the waters in verse 2, at the time the Earth was restored for mankind:

  • By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth ...
  • ... For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:6,9)

But imagine the chaos that would have ensued if Christ had a form of "spiritual covid"! For that is what we actually find at the time – tohu and bohu; a chaotic and lawless wreck of a planet, brought about by a spiritual 'shortness of breath' within Satan and his demons.

Spirit Activates Words

In a similar way to the words of a God-being activating the force and power of the spirit to create physically, around this time of Pentecost it is important that we also recognise the way in which the spirit is able to activate the mind to create appropriate words in the mouths of God's servants. We see this amply demonstrated within the events of the Day of Pentecost 31 AD. It is interesting to note that the symbolic manifestation before the gift of speaking in tongues was given, was for 'tongues' of fire appearing over the heads of each of the disciples. It was after all, the power of the Holy Spirit which generated the words that were used that day – including the first sermon given by Peter.

The contrast between Peter on the night of the Passover and Peter on Pentecost morning could not be more stark. And there was no shortage of spiritual breath at that time in the early Church, clearly seen in subsequent events. When hauled before the council because of what they were preaching, following the healing of the crippled man (Acts 3), they boldly answered:

  • And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
  • But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
  • For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:18-20)

They fearlessly implemented the instructions that Christ gives to us all, when brought before the authorities. Note that the context of these verses, both in Mark 13 and Luke 21 is very much the time that we find ourselves in today, just prior to Christ's return.

  • But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy [Spirit/Breath]. (Mark 13:11)
Contact With God

Being empowered by the Holy Spirit at such difficult times is certainly something to be desired. In the parallel passage in Luke, having been instructed to "settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate before what you shall answer", we are then encouraged greatly by the promise: "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." (Luke 21:15). However it is only the breath of ETERNAL life empowering our mouths that can silence our adversaries in that way, and as instructed by the book of James, the source of ALL our spoken words needs to be drawn from the same spring. We can't be expecting God to step in with a spiritual 'mouth of wisdom' if that same mouth is habitually breathing out words of a very different kind in normal times:

  • Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and [with our words] curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
  • Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be ...
  • ... But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
  • This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
  • For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
  • But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
  • And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:9,10,14-18)

This necessity to be constantly plugged into the vine – the one source we need when facing a severe trial such as mentioned above – is something Mr. Armstrong brings out with great clarity in his Good News article "How to be an Overcomer":

When temptation comes, we ARE TOO FAR FROM GOD – and we are then unable, SUDDENLY, on the spur of the moment, to get close enough to Him to get the help and the deliverance we need! It sometimes takes TIME to get CLOSE to God – into that intimate contact with Him so that we can draw on Him for the power we suddenly need! In other words, when temptation unexpectedly has come, we have found ourselves caught off guard – out of prayer – out of contact with God – OUT OF SPIRITUAL TRAINING! ...

No wonder we fail! Could such a fighter, who had been dissipating, carousing, weakening himself physically, SUDDENLY summon enough strength and skill to conquer the champion of the world? Could a mile runner run a successful race and win, unless he trained and prepared himself carefully for the race – unless he were IN CONDITION when it came?

We can no more win these SPIRITUAL battles when out of SPIRITUAL training. All spiritual power and strength must come from God. We can drink it in from Him only when we are IN CONTACT with Him – close to Him – in communion with Him! Otherwise, when the temptations suddenly assail you, no matter how hard you then try, or cry out to God for help, you are simply TOO FAR AWAY FROM HIM to get help! Spiritual training, to get and KEEP in constant vigilant condition to meet the foe of temptation and sin, requires continuous, earnest. persistent PRAYER! That is why we are commanded to PRAY WITHOUT CEASING! TO KEEP IT UP’. (How to be an Overcomer - GN August 1985)

Former and Latter Rain

On that day of Pentecost – when the New Testament church came into existence – Peter began his sermon using a reference back to the book of Joel. He and the other disciples had just gone through an amazing, life-changing physical experience – hearing a sound like a powerful, rushing flow of air, while at the same time witnessing tongues of fire on each of their heads. This surely impressed on them all the truly profound spiritual power that was then active among them. And because the early church fully expected Christ to return very soon, Peter probably presumed what was then taking place was a complete fulfilment of Joel's prophecy; "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." (Joel 2:28,29)

But it was in actuality a manifestation of merely the former rather than the latter rain of God's Holy Spirit on mankind. This is even hinted at in a verse a little earlier in the same chapter of Joel. We can also see this need for both former and latter rain alluded to in the book of James, when he encourages the brethren not to give up and become despondent, but be patient while they witness the misery and chaos in society around them ... caused by a dire shortage of the true spiritual breath.

  • Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23)
  • Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
  • Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (James 5:7,8)

At the time of the end knowledge of all kinds is prophesied to increase – and this includes knowledge of the spiritual as well. In fact, the meaning of the Holy Days has only relatively recently been restored to the church, following the fragmented truth that was understood through the years of the Middle Ages. With this understanding we can now see Pentecost much more as the Day of Firstfruits – signifying fruit being generated by the former rain of God's spirit – preparing teachers to be used at the time of the latter rain when all mankind will at last have the knowledge of the truth available:

Another, the next piece of knowledge, that has been RESTORED to this Church that the rest don’t know and no other church knows it: That this Church is the FIRSTFRUITS. That God is NOT trying to save the whole world now. He’s calling us out NOW, and He’ll use us as teachers to help save the others IN THEIR TURN. And they, in turn, from the Millennium will help save all the rest in the Great White Throne Judgment. And ultimately God is going to go after the saving of everybody who ever lived! But no church understands that: That we are the firstfruits. We are the embryo of the Kingdom of God. (The Mission of the Philadelphia church.)

Downpayment

We see in Genesis 2 Jesus Christ as the Logos of old giving physical breath to Adam, who then became a living, breathing creature. Adam then had to keep breathing – for the next 930 years – continually renewing the oxygen in his lungs in order to stay alive. But the kind of truly abundant life that was offered to Adam was from the Tree of Life – the kind of life Jesus Christ offers us when He says: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). It is the kind of life – from the kind of breath – that will last for eternity in the Kingdom and Family of God, and as firstfruits, we've been given but a small taste ahead of time:

  • Which is the earnest [Gk: pledge or downpayment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14)
  • Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (II Corinthians 1:22)
  • Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (II Corinthians 5:5)

As the three scriptures above show, what we are given now is merely a 'deposit' [bail, bond, security, warranty] – waiting for the resurrection to eternal life. But it's not merely just a minor downpayment as the world might look at it, but part of something truly priceless, a surety for something that is beyond our present human capacity to grasp, let alone put into words. And as we wait for the "redemption of the purchased possession", we have the assurance given to us in Romans 8, that we don't battle on alone, for the portion of breath that God makes available to us is something active, dynamic:

  • In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit [itself] pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express.
  • And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of His people and in accordance with His will. (Romans 8:26,27 GNT)

As firstfruits, we've been offered an abundant supply of spiritual oxygen in a dying world – a world presently dying through shortness of breath.

  • But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
  • Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
  • But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
  • But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
  • For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (I Corinthians 2:7-12)
The Physical Teaches

The air that Jesus Christ initially breathed into Adam to begin his physical existence – and we all breathe now to sustain our physical lives – was carefully constructed in ways that are not immediately apparent. The percentage of oxygen (21%) is a case in point. If a few percentage points less, not only would it be more difficult to breathe, as happens in high altitudes, but it would be almost impossible to light a fire. A few percentage points more and spontaneous combustion would be the problem, not only of the forests of the earth, but even human beings would be in jeopardy. Fortunately for all of us the 21% of oxygen is balanced with the largely inert gas nitrogen (79%) and small amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapour, together with a tiny percentage of ozone and some other inert gases.

This exquisitely crafted mixture is truly ideal for its purpose – retaining just sufficient amounts of heat from the sun, like a blanket to keep us warm but not so much as to have the runaway greenhouse effect as found on a planet like Venus. Yet at the same time it allows mankind to look up through the atmosphere to see the sun, moon and stars in all their glory and obvious creations of the Eternal God. This 'fitness for purpose' is clearly not arbitrary but fits within His overall plan and design for mankind – to become a fully born son of the Almighty God.

Let us for a moment just consider the way this 'breath' interacts with our five senses – remembering all the time that man was made in the image of God – in His likeness, form and shape – and then consider how these qualities were originally formed to help us all understand a little more of the spiritual qualities we are destined to inherit – "made like unto His glorious body in which He subdues all things to Himself". This air we breathe is not only used to empower the body with its vital oxygen supply but interacts with almost all of our senses to a greater or lesser degree. The words you are reading right now, be they in an electronic or printed format, are reaching your conscious mind via your eyes that are looking through this very same air and breath. Were you to speak the words out loud they would then be generated using the same breath and also carried to the ears of the hearer through the air. Similarly various smells and odours are carried on the air to our nose, and even the sense of touch is brought into play should our skin be exposed to the wind.

All these various senses by which we interact with the world around us can be found within scripture as qualities that God Himself also possesses. God clearly made the physical world with exquisite precision and unmatched wisdom to convey to us, however imperfectly now, the splendour of existence in the spiritual realm. The air we breath surrounds us at all times, as Paul put it ... "In him we live, move and have our being;" (Acts 17:28) – and in a similar way, the spirit of God fills heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:23,24) enabling Him to 'see', but in a manner infinitely greater than our own physical vision. Through His spirit He hears our prayers, and as king David realised, even our thoughts are not hidden from him. (Psalm 139:4) Clearly what we have been given in the link between our own senses and the air we breathe has been designed to teach us spiritual lessons in the here and now. And it also gives us a glimpse into the truly abundant lifestyle which is awaiting all mankind, as God's intention is that never again will there be a shortness of breath, physically or spiritually, when eventually His Holy Spirit is made freely available to all.

  • And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
  • In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations ...
  • ... And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:1,2,17)
Transcript - 18 Mar 2021

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Today we find the Church of God in a “wilderness of religious confusion!”

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Listen to Me, You who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My Law: …I have put My words in your mouth, I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, Lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, “you are My people” (Isaiah 51:7,16)