Pastors Report - 16 Nov 2018
toEndAllWars

To End ALL Wars ...

And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. (Revelation 6:4)

Armistice Day:

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – 100 years ago this year – a ceasefire came into effect between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, ending the hostilities on the Western Front. The Armistice itself was signed in a private railway carriage at 5am that morning, but fighting continued for those next 6 hours with a further 10,000 casualties (maimed, blinded, shell-shocked) including nearly 3,000 deaths up until that 11am deadline. This agreement was thought to bring to an end the "war to end all wars" and here in the UK, a two minute's silence is observed at that precise time for the 20 million soldiers and civilians who died — "lest we forget" — and millions wear poppies on their lapels in support of the British Legion. On the same day of the year in the USA, many commemorate the occasion as part of their Veterans Day tributes. In addition, the nearest Sunday to Armistice Day in the UK is known as Remembrance Sunday — when the dead of ALL conflicts, from World War I through to the present day are remembered.

But what exactly has this annual remembrance accomplished? What have the marching bands and military ceremonies actually achieved? Have they produced peace? Do they alter, in any way, how World War I, instead of ending all wars, actually ended with reparations that largely made Hitler Chancellor a mere 15 years later and spawned a yet greater global conflict with over 60 million dead? Of course not – because such problems are spiritual and the annual remembrance focuses primarily on physical pageantry – even in the church services. This approach therefore leaves man against man, neighbour against neighbour, group against group. Husbands and wives, parents and children, capital and labour, nation and nation – all remain at loggerheads in our adversarial and war-torn world. But we shouldn't be surprised. God labels things what they really are., and 'Satan' — a word that means enemy or adversary — is no exception. He is described as the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4), so is it any wonder therefore that we live today within HIS world – one that is based on conflict, hostility, competition. Even the word "adversity" clearly describes today's society... "affliction, calamity, disaster, hardship, mishap, misery, suffering, trials, trouble and woe".

Adversarial Justice:

Britain and the USA place great stock in their adversarial legal system in which two advocates represent opposing positions. This is done before an impartial person or group of people — usually a jury or judge – who then attempt to determine the truth of the case from the two conflicting presentations. But can genuine truth be guaranteed to come out of such an adversarial system? Peter Murphy in his book: Practical Guide to Evidence recounts the actual case of a frustrated judge in an English court who finally asked a barrister after witnesses had consistently produced conflicting accounts, "Am I never to hear the truth?" to which the lawyer replied, "No, my lord, merely the evidence".

In adversarial justice the evidence presented and truth are regarded as two separate things! Justice is said to be done only when the most effective adversary is able to convince the judge or jury that his or her perspective on the case is the correct one. In other words, only when the other half of the evidence presented is deemed to have been spurious, can the winning half then be accepted as true! Well does God warn any who exalt such flawed human systems:

  • The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
  • Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
  • We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
  • We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
  • For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;
  • In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
  • And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
  • Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. (Isaiah 59:8-15)
Adversarial Government:

But the conflicting, competitive, antagonistic approach within our society does not end with the judiciary by any means. Those at the very pinnacle of our societies, who make the laws — our governments — are also just as adversarial at their heart, and more so! Both the Parliamentary system and the US Congress have been designed with animosity and opposition in mind. It can be seen played out periodically in all democratic nations whenever an election approaches. Hostility and competition between the rival political camps becomes almost palpable until the vote is cast, and sometimes not even then, with a recount demanded in some cases! Only if deals have to be made with former foes – in a vain attempt to form a unified coalition government – do these adversaries "bury the hatchet"... albeit momentarily.

But politicians need to remember that God is aware of their gesturing and avarice — as should churches, if they employ the same kind of governance. Right after God foretells that the increase of His Messiah's " government and peace there shall be no end" , He comments on the corrupt form of governance seen within the nations of Israel today — and His sentence against the arrogance found within their leadership:

  • The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.
  • And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart,
  • The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.
  • Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together;
  • The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
  • For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
  • Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
  • The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
  • For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. (Isaiah 9:8-16)
Adversarial BREXIT:

Nowhere is this adversarial political position more clearly visible than within the current BREXIT negotiations here in the UK. Two years ago the country held a referendum on whether to stay within the European Union or to exit it and once again continue within the world as an independent nation. By the smallest of margins, those voting to leave won the argument and needless to say, those within the Leave campaign were ecstatic – but the dejected Remain campaign largely vowed to fight on regardless – pushing for another vote. However, the conflict did not end there.

Once the negotiations with the EU began in earnest, the reality of what people had voted for compared to what the EU was prepared to grant and sign up to appeared poles apart. This was to be no "quickie divorce"! You could be forgiven for thinking Europe is trying to make the UK suffer for its decision. Usually outside persecution would bring parties together, but to date, 19 individuals have resigned their government posts, including many cabinet ministers over the present governmental position. Three of those resignations have been since last Wednesday – when Mrs May's EU deal announcement was made. In his resignation letter former minister Mr Vara summed up the feelings of so many when he said that the deal, "leaves the UK in a halfway house with no limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation" .

Well did the prophet Isaiah declare:

  • And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable....
  • As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isaiah 3:5,12)
Adversarial Business:

Business dealing are also the same. I remember Mr Armstrong commenting on the way businesses should cooperate by giving an example of a meeting he had just had with a building firm that had constructed Loma Hall — the girl's dormitory — at Ambassador College, Bricket Wood. The firm had under-estimated the costs involved and had therefore cut corners just to break even. Now Mr Armstrong was quite within his rights to withhold payment until the faults were rectified — which might have forced them into bankruptcy. But he did not do that. Instead he explained how he understood that they needed to make a fair profit, and how he was willing to work with them to do so, even if it were to cost a little more. The result was goodwill on all sides with a first-class construction that reflected the quality required of God's Way of Life — and a contractor who witnessed from a client, a caring, outgoing approach that he had never seen before!

But Mr Armstrong was no fool. He knew from hard-bitten experience what business was like in this dog-eat-dog world:

"I have been in conferences of businessmen (and not just in conferences but in meetings of businessmen, conventions) where the speaker would say, “Competition, not cooperation, is the life of business today.” There’s what businessmen believe, competition. In sports, everything is competition. “Let’s get the competition going. We want competition.” Satan wants competition. Satan is the number one competitor." ( HWA Speaks To The Brethren - July 4, 1981)

And his approach to the building contractors showed the them a different Way of Life — one that reflects what is going to be the common-place standard of the World Tomorrow:

"Now God has known what He is doing. He is reproducing Himself in us so we can be stamped with His character, even as Jesus was. And His character is knowing that His law is a way of life, and that is the right way, and that no other way is right. And how many of us have been living in the way of this world, and going the way of this world, and doing the things of this world? " ( HWA Speaks To The Brethren - July 4, 1981)

Adversarial Understanding:

Unfortunately the world's adversarial view gets right into God's Church. Some time ago I received an email from someone who even tried to give their own "adversarial" view on extracting truth from scripture: They said, "In the late 1960's the church had a program called the leadership training class. The most emphasized point of that program, was when trying to reach a decision on a question in scripture you take all the scriptures that support the subject, and all the scriptures that do not support the subject, and you go with the overwhelming support scriptures."

The core problem with the above statement, is that it implies that the scriptures can somehow give two entirely different meanings — but you simply ignore the minority and go with the majority. That view is utterly, utterly wrong! The entirety of scripture must be clearly seen for what it is — a single God-breathed entity. Although written over many thousands of years, it was inspired from a single Source.

A key phrase that Mr Armstrong used continually, is that "the Bible interprets itself". There can therefore be no dichotomy whatsoever. There is but one single, unified purpose and direction expressed within scripture and the only way to find it — is to have it revealed by the One who gave it! (John 6:44; I Corinthians 2:10). Only then can God's people live by that single, unified purpose and direction — expressed clearly and consistently within every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. We therefore must keep reading — prayerfully — until we understand the mind, the attitude, the heart of God on any subject — and should we think we see divergent views, then we have failed to grasp the revealed principles. We have not yet understood the subject properly! The problem lies not with the Bible but with US. This is what so many fail to grasp!

Godly Unity:

Far too many within what was once God's Church have come up with their own ideas in foundational areas today. But the ability to really understand God's Word can never come from a human mind. Understanding how God gives His Truth to His people via apostleship is therefore central. We need the unity of God's view — not our own. As it says in Ephesians 4, we must " endeavour (or be diligent or strive) to keep the unity of the Spirit" (v3) as there is "One God ... in you all" (v6) who " gave gifts to men" (v 8) "and he gave some apostles ... till we all come in the unity of the faith ... fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth" (v11-16)

Note carefully how apostleship is the foundational gift for that unity. For the Truth of God doesn't come from the individual to whom it is given, but from the Spirit that works within him. It is, in reality, the very guiding of Jesus Christ Himself within His Church:

  • For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.(I Thessalonians 2:13)

Those that accept such God given foundations — and faithfully build on them — build on the Rock. Those that want to build merely on their own man-made interpretation of scripture, build on sand (Matthew 7:26). This is because " no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (II Peter 1:20).

Adversarial Doctrine:

This concept of God's pure Truth being revealed specifically through a faithful apostle He "sends" (the meaning of the word "apostle") contrasts starkly with today's most common alternative: the doctrinal committee. Yet the concept that Jesus Christ somehow works through a committee — that determines doctrine via the majority vote normally cast by adversaries — is almost laughable. What kind of God do such people worship? One who has to wait until a sufficiently vague form of wording has been produced that the majority of humans present can accept? A God who only places truth in His Church when the majority within the committee agrees with Him? Absurd!

As Mr Armstrong himself points out:

The BIG POINT we must never lose sight of is that CHRIST IS THE LIVING HEAD OF GOD’S CHURCH, and we’d better all TREMBLE at His Word!

And that HITS THE NAIL SQUARELY ON THE HEAD. The trouble, these past 10 years, is that too many have lost sight of the fact that CHRIST is our INSPIRED LEADER. There has been too much tendency to look on the Church and the Work as OUR OWN SECULAR WORK – like any worldly club or business.

You have not read in The Good News lately that Mr. HWA has set the Church back on the track – but that THE LIVING CHRIST has moved to do it! And, to use another modern expression, YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT!

How new truth is revealed

Now WHERE does our TEACHING come from? What doctrines and teachings shall we accept? Those voted on by the doctrinal committee? Fellow ministers and brethren, Christ through me has abolished the doctrinal committee! God’s Church is being set back BY THE LIVING CHRIST on the track of ORIGINAL TRUTH as CHRIST instilled it into God’s Church through His chosen apostle!...

... Look, now, to the matter of HOW the original Church of God received its truths and its doctrines. There were NO DOCTRINAL COMMITTEES of special intellectual scholars who got together and decided on and then gave to the Church what it was to believe.

The living CHRIST, the HEAD of the Church, gave His Church HIS truth THROUGH HIS APOSTLES! Through Peter, through Paul, through James, INSPIRED through those He chose. ( The Great Majestic God Being Enthroned In Eyes Of Church Once Again By Jesus Christ - GN July 31, 1978 )

Adversarial Peace:

And what of the world's view of peace? Eight years ago the first demonstration began in Tunisia in what was to become known as "The Arab Spring" – filled with hope for the future. It eventually saw the overthrow of several leaders, including President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Col Gaddafi of Libya, and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of the Yemen. But has any of this brought genuine and lasting peace to the region? Of course not! At best it gives us an example of adversarial compromise — as are all peace negotiations within this world. It invariably leaves a situation where NO ONE is genuinely content with the outcome. Those in power have had to make concessions to garner sufficient support to occupy the positions they hold while those not in power have a more traditional dissatisfaction and resentment with the situation. But ALL are discontented – and war is invariably the ultimate result – in this case: the Syrian Civil War, Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war, the Egyptian Crisis, coup and subsequent unrest and insurgency, the Libyan Civil War, and the Yemeni Crisis and following civil war... all bringing misery, death and destruction to multiple thousands. You call this peace?

As a classic example look at Northern Ireland. Judging by the presently defunct power-sharing executive at Stormont – causing the region to now hold the world record for the longest period without a government – 661 days and counting – and the fact they continue to discover bomb making factories, and arms caches I think it is evident there is no real peace! The violence may have subsided temporarily but it certainly has not gone away. All sides have had to compromise. No one has been able to achieve their goals and therefore ALL remain basically discontented with the present position. Too many of the old resentments and hatreds remain, merely waiting an appropriate spark to be reignited. And so it is with all such adversarial "peace" agreements across this unhappy earth:

  • None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
  • They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.
  • Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.
  • Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
  • The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. (Isaiah 59:4-8)
Two Simple Laws:

The implementation of just two Great Laws... that of loving God with heart, soul and mind and our neighbour as ourself (Matthew 22:36-40), and the Spirit Power to fulfil them, is the key ingredient Christ will use to make the hostility and aggression - commonplace in today’s adversarial society — finally a thing of the past:

  • T he people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. ...
  • For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
  • Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even from ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:2,6-7)

What we need to ask ourselves is "will I have a part in this new world?" Unless we can resolve our family/work/church relationship issues now, how can we teach a different way in the near future? As Mr. Armstrong also brought out during his Australian trip, "We have to drink in God's word so that we think and act more and more like God and less and less like this Satan-inspired world" . And then and only then can we be true ambassadors for world peace.

  • "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated ... And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." (James 3:17-18)
True Lasting Peace:

"Many are familiar with the Hebrew word shalom or “peace.” The common western definition of peace is — the absence of conflict or war — but in Hebrew it means so much more.. Shalom is taken from the root word shalam, which means "to be safe in mind, body or estate. It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that encourages you to give back – to generously repay something in some way." ( http://firm.org.il/learn/the-meaning-of-shalom/) So what is required is an entire change of direction — a change of heart to the way of Give! It is the incoming, selfish mindset of "The Adversary" — Satan the Devil — that lies at the heart of the problem. And until the WAY of peace — the WAY of give, of God's Spiritual Law — is implemented, there can be no peace; in justice; in government; in business ; in sport; in our families; in our beliefs; in our world.

"Our troubles are spiritual and we can't solve them because we don't understand spiritual principles. We only understand mechanical and physical things. So we make great progress in mechanical and physical and material things, but we make no progress in spiritual things and we have troubles and wars and destructions of every kind in human life. We don't know how to live. We don't know how to live to be happy. We don't know how to live with one another. Families break up. Nations fight one another at war. That is the way the human race is going" ( Speaking in Sydney - May 1981)

Another time of terrible trouble is on the horizon, but even that won't be the "war to end all wars"... that war will surface at the end of the Millennium! But after that short-sharp-shock, the adversary WILL be put away (Revelation 20:3,7,10), his deception WILL be removed (Revelation 12:9) and his broadcast and influence cut off for eternity (Ephesians 2:2). A new age will dawn where "they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). It's up to us – now – to get to grips with the way of peace in our own lives so we can be part of the solution, bringing everlasting peace... Shalom... to this present war-torn unhappy world.

  • A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
  • And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
  • And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
  • I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
  • And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
  • Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
  • Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
  • Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
  • And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
  • And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
  • Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it.(Ezekiel 36:26-36)