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On May 12, 2012, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, "Why?"
A little over a year ago April 4th, I was laid off from my job. I spent the next nine months looking for work. Every day was a struggle to keep a positive attitude and remind myself that God was in charge and had a plan in place that He was working out for me. Every job interview I would ask myself, “Is this the one?” and “Is today the day?” And many times I would walk away excited about the prospect, feeling good about the interview, and then would come the call that I interviewed well but that for various reasons they were not going to hire me.
Then one day I got a job… it was just for a couple days, filing paper work. But I put my heart into it (Ecclesiastes 9:10). I wasn’t expecting this to turn into anything. It was just a little side job. But as it happened, things began to grow. It was incredible and mind blowing to see how God was opening doors before my very eyes and I had nothing to do with it.
It made me realize that after all the time and effort that I had put in, it was still in God’s hands. The church is a family, a growing living organism. In the New Testament, the preservation of the early church was promised to Peter. In Matthew 16:18-19, it is also promised that though there would be problems, the church would never fail. God’s hand has never slipped. He has always been there, leading and guiding those who are carrying on the commission given to the church to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
When we spend the time in doing the right things, in seeking after God, He promises us that there will be no lack of doors opening for us (Matthew 7:7-8). We need to make sure that we are the ones knocking on doors, trying to seek out and understand God’s will for us, both in the church and in our individual lives. If we continue to knock and seek, we can be assured that we will be able to be with Christ at His return. Revelation 3:8 says: “I know your works. See I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:20 adds: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
Christ is actively seeking to be a part of our lives. He wants us to open up ourselves so that He can come and live in us as it says. We must choose this for ourselves. The doors are there, waiting for us to choose which ones we will walk through.
Our reporting centers on unprecedented upheaval in Europe's governments and the disturbing emergence of more powerful voices from the far-right; France realigns its politics by electing a Socialist president; Germany's leadership stands firm with both France and Greece--as Greece is unable to govern itself; the EU seeks a more powerful leader; Vladimir Putin becomes president of Russia (again); Benjamin Netanyahu secures his own leadership over Israel; and we conclude with two reports about the blatant role the gay and lesbian movement now exerts in America.
CBSNews.com presented the following review on May 6: 2012:
"...Almost every crisis-hit European country that has held an election since disaster struck in 2009 has thrown out its leader.
"Here's a look at countries where political cadavers litter the landscape.
"SPAIN: A burst real estate bubble also deflates faith in a Socialist government, which is nonetheless reluctant to admit Spain has problems. Blips of good economic news are seized upon as 'green shoots' pointing to recovery. Wrong. Stimulus measures are enacted, then crushing austerity. Unemployment soars. The Socialists of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero are wiped off the map in November 2011 elections; Mariano Rajoy's conservatives take over.
"ITALY: Silvio Berlusconi, the long-serving leader accused of everything from bedding escorts to serial corruption, finally bites the dust in November 2011. He resigns to cheers and jeers as investors lose confidence in his ability to spur economic growth and rein in debt. It's the end of a political era. Mario Monti, a former European Commissioner, is named to replace him and lead a technical government until elections in 2013.
"BRITAIN: Gordon Brown leads the Labour Party to defeat in the May 2010 election; Conservative Party leader David Cameron becomes leader of a coalition government. Brown had been finance chief for a decade before succeeding Tony Blair in 2007. Brown had boasted endlessly of ending the cycle of boom and bust — but as prime minister he presided mostly over bust.
"IRELAND: Brian Cowen, promoted to prime minister in 2008 after being finance minister, doesn't even get to run. He resigns as leader of the Fianna Fail Party weeks before the February, 2011 election. It doesn't help his party, which suffers its worst ever defeat. Cowen was finance minister during Ireland's banking crisis and the collapse of its housing bubble.
"GREECE: Greek Socialist leader George Papandreou swept to power in October 2009 over conservative opponents, pledging to spend his way out of a deteriorating economic situation. Two years later, at the height of Greece's worst financial crisis since World War II, Papandreou's own deputies force him out after he endangers a hard-won bailout by announcing he would put it to a referendum. He's replaced by caretaker Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
"PORTUGAL: A month after Portugal requests a 78 billion-euro bailout, the center-left Socialist government of Jose Socrates is voted out of power in June, 2011. Portugal's woes stemmed from a decade of feeble growth as it failed to modernize amid increasing global competition and dug itself deeper into debt.
"DENMARK: A center-right government in Denmark loses power in September in part due to discontent over austerity measures introduced amid the debt crisis. It is replaced by a center-left coalition.
"FINLAND: Finland's government is reconfigured after June elections following a sharp surge in support for nationalists who oppose bailouts for debt-stricken eurozone countries. A conservative-led coalition spanning left and right is formed to keep the nationalist True Finns out of power."
Most European nations are unsettled and grasping for change! As this report and the following articles reveal, battle lines between extremist positions pose great dangers--not unlike other periods in history when powerful despots arose to "take charge" and to enforce their own absolute rule!
CNN.COM reported May 7, 2012:
"The defeat of French President Nicholas Sarkozy at the hands of Francois Hollande has the potential to greatly affect European politics and the future of the euro, as many have noted. But the election of the first French Socialist president since 1995 also could dramatically change France's role in the world, at a particularly sensitive time.
"No doubt both sides of the Atlantic will keep a close eye on the rhetoric and actions of the new French leader in the days ahead.
"Almost from the outset, Hollande will be in the international spotlight, with the G-8 meeting at Camp David, Maryland, and the NATO Summit in Chicago less than two weeks away, and a G-20 meeting scheduled for June in Mexico City.
"The NATO alliance faces a complex transition in Afghanistan. The international community is dealing with an increasingly untenable situation in Syria and may soon have to contemplate military action. And while the nuclear crisis with Iran is at an ebb, it is by no means over.
"There are already strong signals that a Hollande administration will bring more change than continuity. Sarkozy, while not a Gaullist, sought to restore French national pride based on France's role as a leader in the international community. His efforts were most notable in his participation in the NATO operations in Libya.
"Hollande will inherit record debt of just over $2 trillion and a jobless rate hovering around 10%. It is unclear what price the French defense establishment will have to pay to meet the president-elect's desire to balance the budget by 2017, but with the Ministry of Defense in the midst of an internal review, French military policy will likely see changes driven by Hollande and his team...
"French participation in both Afghanistan and Libya has been significant -- but equivocation regarding NATO commitments will make requests for increased authority ring hollow to other alliance members. Rather, if France is to have a greater say, then Hollande must be willing to put alliance interests ahead of national interests from time to time.
"Still, Hollande has also intimated that he could take a more pragmatic approach and understands that French actions could have practical and symbolic impacts that might detract from French standing in the world.
"He is a career politician and no doubt understands the downside of placing France at odds with its allies unnecessarily at a time when concerted action by the trans-Atlantic powers on economic and security issues could not be more important. Indeed, President-elect Hollande's advisers say his No. 1 foreign policy priority will be helping to revive Europe's economy."
France's history is remarkable. Depending on whose "historical expertise" one wants to follow, France led Europe under Charlemagne and Napoleon. Of course, others state that Charlemagne, a Frank, was German (while an evolving school of thought in Germany is even claiming now that Charlemagne did not exist, but was invented) and that Napoleon was not French, but Italian (having been born and raised in Corsica). In any event, it appears that France (biblical Reuben) will play an important role in end-time prophecy, but it will not reach the position of the main leader in Europe. That position is reserved for Germany.
Reuters.com wrote on May 7, 2012:
"Germany is ruling out any substantive shift in its approach to Europe's debt crisis despite a rising chorus of opposition to Berlin's austerity policies that reached a crescendo in Sunday's elections in Greece and France.
"Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking in Berlin on Monday, rejected the notion that Europe was on the brink of a major policy shift after Socialist Francois Hollande defeated her fellow conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Greek voters punished ruling parties who slashed spending to secure a foreign bailout.
"Shunned by Merkel, who publicly backed Sarkozy's campaign, Hollande repeatedly criticized Germany's focus on budget cuts and labor law reforms as the solution to Europe's debt crisis. Many saw his victory and the outcome in Greece as heralding a shift in Europe toward higher-spending growth-oriented policies.
"But close Merkel allies made clear within hours that the expectation in Berlin was that it would be Hollande who would be making the lion's share of the concessions, and rowing back on policy promises made during the French campaign which the Germans view as dangerous for the entire single-currency bloc.
"'The position of the German government is clear. We will continue on our savings path,' said Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel's conservatives and one of her closest allies.
"After another bad night for her Christian Democrats (CDU) in a state election on Sunday, Merkel knows that if she is to win a third term next year she can ill afford to ignore German voters' demands that she give no more of their cash away to foreigners.
"'Germans could end up paying for the Socialist victory in France with more guarantees, more money. And that is not acceptable,' her ally Kauder said. 'Germany is not here to finance French election promises.'"
Germany's success story is remarkable and in total line with biblical prophecy which predicts that end-time Germany will become Europe's unquestioned leader. The German press reported recently that Germany remains virtually the only major country in Europe which does not suffer from economic downturn. Rather, it has established steady economic growth. As Germany's economic minister said: "We Germans have done our homework."
CNN.COM reported on May 9, 2012:
"Two European elections, in France and Greece, have thrust the radical fringe into the spotlight.
"In Greece, voters disillusioned by a brutal austerity program pushed through by the two mainstream parties have turned instead to parties on the far left and far right.
"As a result, a leftist coalition opposed to austerity is seeking to form a government, and Golden Dawn -- an ultranationalist party linked to street violence and neo-Nazism -- stands to claim around 20 seats in the new parliament.
"France saw a swing to the left in Sunday's runoff, with Socialist François Hollande ousting center-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy from the Élysée Palace.
"But the strong showing by far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of the presidential election undoubtedly played into campaigning, with both candidates reaching out to the 6.5 million voters who backed her. Each pledged to crack down on illegal immigration, though Sarkozy went further in promising to cut the number of legal migrants by half in the next five years.
"Two very different outcomes, but with a common thread: the efforts of extremist parties to win support by plugging into popular discontent over the financial crisis, against the backdrop of a wider social unease and anti-immigrant sentiment...
"Europe's far-right parties are definitely seeing a resurgence, according to Matthew Feldman, director of the Radicalism and New Media Research Group at the University of Northampton, but the trend is not universal and the austerity crisis is only one part of the picture.
"He said the far-right movement has been gaining ground for years, thanks partly to efforts to revamp its previously overtly racist and fascist image.
"This doesn't mean that those racist or Nazi-sympathizing elements don't still exist within different countries' far-right groups, he said, but those at the top have often learned to present a more acceptable public face.
"Instead of open racial attacks, they play up a threat to national identity and criticize multiculturalism, particularly as it relates to Islam, Feldman said...
"The more research he does, Feldman said, the more it seems that 'the lowest common denominator of this entire far-right narrative is that Islam is barbaric and a threat to European stability and peace.'
"A report by rights group Amnesty International last month highlighted the issue, saying Muslims in Europe face discrimination in education, employment and religious freedom.
"Feldman draws a parallel with the anti-Semitism of the 20th century and earlier.
"'We are still seeing "Europe for the Europeans," and that's something we could have seen 80 years ago,' he said. 'History doesn't give us perfect examples of replaying the past, but I think there's a lesson to take away.
"'In times of uncertainty and great change, finding scapegoats has always been a populist vote winner, and the scapegoat in this century is Muslims in Europe.'"
On May 9, 2012, The Christian Science Monitor wrote:
"A second round of talks to form a coalition government collapsed Wednesday, with Greece's future in the euro and commitment to its international bailout deal in the balance and the specter of new elections looming ever larger.
"Sunday's election threw the country's political scene into turmoil after voters angered by years of Europe's harshest austerity program — implemented to secure vital international bailouts and fend off bankruptcy — hammered mainstream politicians, but left no party with enough seats in Parliament to govern alone.
"Alexis Tsipras, head of the runner-up Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, met with heads of parties across the political spectrum as he tried and failed to win support for Greece's first left-wing-led government in four decades of democratic rule...
"The political uncertainty has alarmed Greece's international creditors, who have insisted the country must stick to the cost-cutting terms of its bailout.
"Athens has promised to pass new austerity measures worth €14.5 billion ($18.9 billion) next month and to implement other reforms. These will be reviewed by its creditors, who will then determine whether to continue releasing rescue loans that are keeping Greece solvent.
"The eurozone's bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, approved the release of a €5.2 billion ($6.73 billion) batch in rescue loans Wednesday. Greece will receive €4.2 billion ($5.44 billion) of that Thursday, while another €1 billion ($1.3 billion) is expected in June depending on Athens' needs.
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed she still wants to keep Greece in the eurozone.
"'I have always wanted to solve (the debt crisis) in such a way that Greece remains a member of the eurozone. Nothing about that has changed,' she was quoted as saying in an interview with the daily Passauer Neue Presse.
"Merkel has been a leading advocate of austerity as a cure for Europe's debt troubles, but that course has become hugely unpopular in Greece — and Sunday's election has generated new political instability.
"Merkel insisted Greece must stick to its agreements with creditors and its reform course.
"'Only this way can we imagine Greece's road back to stability and economic strength,' she said."
If Greece should choose to not remain in the euro, the nation would be devastated! In fact, the European Union has become so important that the only final recourse for Greece will be to accommodate greater Europe's demands. On the other hand, the Bible indicates that Greece may not belong to the "inner core" of Europe, even though it will be clearly aligned with the final configuration of an united Europe.
EXPRESS.CO.UK wrote on May 4, 2012:
"A covert group of EU foreign ministers has drawn up plans for merging the jobs currently done by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.
"The new bureaucrat, who would not be directly elected by voters, is set to get sweeping control over the entire EU and force member countries into ever-greater political and economic union.
"Tellingly, the UK has been excluded from the confidential discussions within the shady 'Berlin Group' of Europhile politicians, spearheaded by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.
"Opponents fear the plan could create a modern-day equivalent of the European emperor envisaged by Napoleon Bonaparte or a return to the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne that dominated Europe in the Dark Ages...
"Supporters of the move believe that the rival presidencies are undermining the EU’s ability to speak with a single voice. They argue that merging the two jobs will create a powerful European leader who is capable of pursuing the federalist dream of a united Europe which has been severely shaken by the eurozone crisis.
"Lord Stoddart confirmed the existence of the plot thanks to a parliamentary written answer in the House of Lords. He asked Foreign Office ministers to reveal what they knew about the merger talks.
"In response to his inquiry, Tory Foreign Office minister Lord Howell of Guildford said: 'We are aware of one group of EU foreign ministers meeting on an informal basis to discuss a variety of issues related to the future governance of the EU.
“'While the UK is not part of that group, we understand that one idea under discussion is a merger of the positions of president of the European Council and president of the European Commission.'
"Lord Howell added: 'A merger of the two presidencies would create a potential conflict of interest, undermine the quality of the EU’s decision-making processes and upset the institutional balance within the EU.' Lord Stoddart said: 'These sorts of informal discussions within the EU have a habit of rapidly being transferred into formal proposals.
“'Since the Government is not party to these discussions, its reservations are academic.
“'Such a merger would represent a massive shift of power into the hands of a single, unelected bureaucrat. The Government should be taking this far more seriously and voicing its objections very strongly.'
"He added: 'The holder of this new office would be both Europe’s political and administrative leader, giving them far more powers than those given to the US president.'"
From a strictly human standpoint, these plans make much sense, as the many European member states become increasingly unruly and cause serious problems for themselves and the rest of Europe due to incompetent political leadership. British opposition, which is not necessarily based on right motives, will not further the "British cause" in Europe. On the other hand, even the best of motives might turn to horrible developments. It may well appear shocking that such plans are actually being formulated, but this is news that biblical prophecy has clearly reported well in advance! Please check out our free booklet, "Europe in Prophecy--The Unfolding of End-Time Events," for details only found in the Word of God!
The LATIMES.COM reported on May 7, 2012:
"Vladimir Putin was inaugurated Monday to his third term as Russia's president, extending the former KGB officer's 12-year grip on power that most observers considered uninterrupted despite the past four years he served as prime minister.
"In the course of a solemn and elaborate ceremony in the Kremlin Grand Palace, the 59-year-old leader was sworn into office under the 1993 version of the Russian Constitution, which was amended by outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev to increase the term of presidency in Russia to six years.
"Putin then quickly submitted Medvedev's name to the parliament as his candidate to be prime minister, a move that had been expected.
"In the presence of about 3,000 Russian officials and dignitaries and a few foreign guests -- no leaders among them -- Putin gave an oath “to safeguard the rights and freedoms of man and citizen, to observe and protect the Constitution of the Russian Federation, to protect the sovereignty and independence, the safety and integrity of the state, to loyally serve the people.”
"The center of Moscow, which was rocked by clashes between the anti-Putin demonstrators and police the day before, was quiet Monday morning. Riot police blocked thoroughfares and streets along the president-elect’s route from the seat of the Russian government, the Russian White House, to the Kremlin."
Vladimir Putin is a very unpredictable and therefore typical politician. The international press reported recently that Putin manufactured stories and photo shootings to beef up his image, portraying himself as a successful hunter and deep-sea diver. Given the fraudulent nature of these pictures and "reports" and Putin's questionable history as a KGB spy, we should not think that Putin can be trusted in his political endeavors.
CNN.COM reported on May 9, 2012:
"The Israeli parliament approved Wednesday by a vote of 71-23 a coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and the opposition Kadima party of Shaul Mofaz.
"After the vote, Mofaz took the oath of office. He will serve as minister without portfolio and deputy prime minister.
"The Knesset also approved Labor leader Shelli Yachimovitch as head of the opposition for the duration of the Knesset's term.
"The move by Netanyahu upends the political calculations of smaller left-of-center parties and provides him with a comfortable governing coalition less sensitive to the demands of his current right-wing coalition partners. For Mofaz and his fellow Kadima members, the move buys another year in office without having to face voters amid sagging popularity ratings.
"Knesset Member Binyamin Ben Eliezer of Labor accused Mofaz of selling his soul to the devil, which he said was the only entity to profit from the deal.
"The chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, Zahava Gal On, blamed Mofaz and Netanyahu for putting together a deal so dirty that it has caused the public to lose faith in all politicians. She said one rotten apple -- the Kadima party -- has spoiled everyone...
"The Knesset's approval of the government came a day after Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party agreed with the rival centrist political faction Kadima to form the unity government. The move puts off elections until late next year and creates one of the largest coalition governments in Israeli history.
"The deal was reached early Tuesday between Netanyahu and Kadima's leader Mofaz a day after Netanyahu had called for early elections to be held September 4."
Israel now has, among other divergent groups and interests, a growing ultra-orthodox community, and its historical unity has been greatly diminished. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is arguably one of the more adroit leaders of a nation (as is Angela Merkel in Germany); however, events that will shortly engulf not only the Middle East but the entire earth will far exceed any human government's ability to cope! Please read our free booklets, "The Gospel of the Kingdom of God" and "The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord," for answers to how righteous government will be established for all nations!
REUTERS.COM wrote on May 8, 2012:
"Half of Americans believe same-sex couples should have the same right to wed as heterosexuals do, slightly down from a year ago but marking the second year that a majority of Americans have supported same-sex marriage, according to a Gallup Poll survey released on Tuesday...
"This year's poll found Americans divided along political and religious lines.
"Nearly two-thirds of Democrats support allowing same-sex marriage, along with more than half of independents, while fewer than a quarter of Republicans believe it should be allowed.
"Among Americans with 'no religious identify,' the overwhelming majority backs allowing same-sex marriage, along with just over half of Catholics. Nearly six in ten Protestants oppose legalization.
"Other recent surveys have also found the country is split over whether to extend marriage rights, with younger and less religious people tending to be more supportive of marriage equality."
The Bible predicts that in the end time, the majority of the American people will turn away from biblical moral standards and fall for politically correct, but ungodly concepts.
The New York Times reported on May 9, 2012:
"President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday was by any measure a watershed. A sitting United States president took sides in what many people consider the last civil rights movement, providing the most powerful evidence to date of how rapidly views are moving on an issue that was politically toxic just five years ago.
"Mr. Obama faces considerable risk in jumping into this debate, reluctantly or not, in the heat of such a close election. The day before he announced his position, voters in North Carolina — a critical state in Mr. Obama’s re-election plan and the site of the Democratic convention this summer — approved by a 20-point margin a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It was the 31st state to pass such an amendment...
"Mr. Obama’s declaration may have been belated and unplanned, forced out after his vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., during a television interview on Sunday declared his support for same-sex marriage. Still, it is a huge voice added to a chorus that has become increasingly robust, a reminder that a view that had once been relegated to the dark sidelines of political debate has become mainstream.
"The very riskiness of what Mr. Obama did — some commentators were invoking Lyndon B. Johnson’s embrace of civil rights in 1964, with all the attendant political perils — made it hard to understate the historic significance of what took place at the White House on Wednesday."
As this and the previous article show, America of 2012 bears little common ground with that of past generations. While President Obama's present affiliation with a particular Christian church is open to debate, Vice President Biden is a practicing Catholic. His stance is in direct opposition to his church, but he does not seem to care, as scoring political points seems to be more important. What is even more obvious--or at least should be--America is in the process of over-turning the biblical principles that once were among its foundational practices! The words of Jesus Christ stand in answer to our generation: "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:7-9).
The Bible teaches indeed that we are going to enter the kingdom of heaven, but this does not mean that we will go to heaven. We need to understand what is meant by the term, “kingdom of heaven.”
First of all, we should note that only Matthew uses this expression. The other gospel writers use consistently and exclusively the term, “kingdom of God.” It is therefore obvious that both terms describe the same thing.
We explain in our free booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God,” that the kingdom of God is the Family of God, ruling over others, consisting at this point of two members of the God Family—God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. Every Christian in whom God’s Spirit dwells is a begotten member of the Family or Kingdom of God, but he is not yet a born-again member. He will be born again at the time of the return of Jesus Christ, when he will be changed to immortality.
We read in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, and that we must be changed to incorruptibility and immortality (verses 51-54). Before that time and occurrence, a human being cannot enter or see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). He must be born of the Spirit and BE Spirit (verse 6), to be able to enter the Kingdom of God and become a most powerful Spirit being (verse 8). Then he will be a God being—invisible to the human eye (same verse).
The Kingdom of God is identical with the “kingdom of heaven”—since God the Father and Jesus Christ are in heaven and rule in and from heaven over this earth and the entire universe. But this does not mean that we will go to heaven to enter the Kingdom there; rather, Christ will return to this earth and restore the Government of God on this earth. The Kingdom of God, through its representative Jesus Christ, will rule here on earth, and we will be ruling with and under Him, as born again members of the God Family, if we qualify. Ultimately, God the Father will also come down to earth to establish headquarters here, after new heavens and a new earth have been created, in which righteousness dwells.
That the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are identical in Scripture can be seen, for example, when comparing Matthew 5:3 with Luke 6:20. Both passages say that the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God” belong to those who are poor in spirit; that is, who are of a humble and contrite spirit.
Also, when comparing Matthew 13:31-32 with Mark 4:30-32, we read that both the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God” are likened to a grain of mustard seed which grows to become a big tree, to give shelter to the birds (Note too that the kingdom is represented as being established on earth).
In Matthew 19:14 and in Mark 10:14, Jesus said that little children should be allowed to come to Him, for of such is the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God.”
We even find that in Matthew’s account, the terms for “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are used interchangeably. In Matthew 19:23-24, Christ tells us that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter into the “kingdom of heaven” (verse 23), and that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the “kingdom of God” (verse 24); adding however that with God nothing is impossible (verse 26).
Even though Matthew most of the time uses the expression “kingdom of heaven,” he does use the expression “kingdom of God” on occasion, when special emphasis is intended. We read in Matthew 21:31 that the repentant publicans and the harlots will go into the Kingdom of God before the self-righteous and power-hungry chief priests and the elders of the people. He said in Matthew 21:43 that the Kingdom of God will be taken from them and be given to the holy nation of true Christians who are bringing forth the fruits of the kingdom (compare John 15:1-8; 1 Peter 2:9).
And He stated in Matthew 6:33 that we must first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness as the first priority. In this sentence, the use of the term “kingdom of heaven” would not emphasize quite the same meaning, as it is the Kingdom of God and GOD’s righteousness (which is a stronger term than “heaven’s” righteousness), which we must seek.
Still, Matthew uses the term “kingdom of heaven” most of the time, rather than “kingdom of God.” As some commentaries state and as the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong has consistently taught, the reason is partly to be seen in the fact that Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience (who did not want to use the word “God” frequently, while Luke wrote to a Gentile (both in his gospel record as well as in the book of Acts), and Mark and John’s audience is less distinct and distinguishable. (While John never uses the term “kingdom of heaven,” he very seldom uses the words “kingdom of God,” either).
But this is only part of the explanation. Since the four gospel writers quote Jesus Christ, all of them would have quoted His words accurately. None of them would have dared to change His words, by supplementing one term (“kingdom of God”) for another (“kingdom of heaven”), and vice versa. It is clear, then, that Christ used both expressions, and while Matthew chose to quote more frequently Christ’s statements when He used the words, “kingdom of heaven,” the others chose to quote His statements when He used the words, “kingdom of God.” Christ might have used both expressions in sermons or speeches at the same time, or on different occasions. That is the reason why we must look at all Scriptures in the Bible on a given topic to get the entire picture -- “here a little, and there a little.”
The question then needs to be answered why CHRIST used the statement, “kingdom of heaven,” when He spoke of the Kingdom of God.
Christ preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, making clear at the same time that the Kingdom of God originates in heaven and that those who are already begotten of the Spirit, to be born into the Kingdom of God, are a part of a heavenly kingdom. Their names are written in heaven—in the book of life—and they are to build up treasures in heaven. Their citizenship is in heaven as well.
At the same time, John the Baptist and Christ emphasized that the Kingdom of heaven will come down to this earth (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; 16:28). We are also told that Christ will bring down to this earth the reward, which has been stored for them in heaven.
In addition, the term “kingdom of heaven” stresses the fact that the heavenly kingdom is not to be confused with the kingdom of the god of this world—Satan the devil (Matthew 12:25-26) nor with the kingdom of men (Matthew 20:25-27). It does not originate with man, but with God who is in heaven (Mark 11:30-33). The heavenly kingdom or the kingdom of or FROM heaven will be altogether different. The God of heaven will establish His Kingdom here on earth (Daniel 2:44), and no human being will be in it. Only immortal God beings will rule in the Kingdom of heaven over man—here on earth.
We will not go to heaven when we die. Rather, the Kingdom of the God of heaven will be set up here on earth, when Christ returns, and we will be in it to rule all nations (Revelation 2:26-27).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Pentecost will be observed on Sunday, May 27, 2012, with morning and afternoon services.
A reminder for those wishing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us for 2012--please review details posted on our website under the "FEASTS" heading. Our locations for this year are Pismo Beach, California, and Deganwy, North Wales.
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Joan Pope, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Noelle Link, Manuela Mitchell.
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Regular Contributors: Michael Bannen, Terry and Connie Grade, Kalon Mitchell
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermon tapes, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 2111, Derby DE1 1ZR, England
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."-Matthew 5:14