What It Means to Be ‘Born Again’

The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the August 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Most professing Christians think they were born again when they said they accepted Christ. But does the Bible say that’s what it really means to be “born again”? This second birth is far more than most traditional Christians assume. When Jesus spoke of being “born again,” He did not mean what most people think. It is vital that we understand this subject.

Who and What Is ‘God’?

To understand what it really means to be born again, we must first understand who and what God is, and the very purpose for our existence.

The first words of the Bible are: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The original Hebrew word for God, throughout this account, is Elohim. That is the plural form of the Hebrew Eloah (“Mighty One”). So Elohim means “Mighty Ones”—more than one divine Personage. Also notice the plural pronouns “us” and “our” in referring to “God” in Genesis 1:26.

Elohim is a plural noun. That word stands for a single class composed of more than one individual, just like the words church, family or kingdom. Just as there is the animal kingdom and the human family, or kingdom, Elohim in Genesis 1 shows that there is also a God Kingdom, or Family.

Who is in the God Family? Let’s notice what the Bible reveals.

1. Who was with “God” when God created the universe? John 1:1. Is the “Word” also God? Verses 1-2. Was it the Word who actually created all things? Verse 3.

The Greek word translated into English as “Word” in John 1:1 is Logos. It means “spokesman,” or “one who speaks.”

2. By whom was all the material universe created—including this Earth and mankind? Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16-17. Who, then, is the “Word” of John 1:1? John 1:14; Ephesians 3:9 (last part). And who is the other divine member of the God Family? 1 Corinthians 8:6.

John 1:3 and Genesis 1:1 are two accounts of the same event—the original creation of the universe. Along with John 1:1-2, these scriptures reveal that the two supreme Beings of the God Family created all things. Together they planned the creation, and the Word did the actual creating. Everything was created and made by the divine Being who later became the human Jesus Christ to die for the sins of mankind!

Man Created in God’s Image

Man is not just another “animal,” as evolutionists claim. God’s purpose for creating man surpasses anything ever imagined by the human mind. Let’s continue reading the first chapter of Genesis and begin to understand the most astounding revelation of your Bible!

1. After what “kind” were the animals created? Genesis 1:20-25.

These verses specify that God created fish to reproduce after their own particular kind, birds after their particular kind, and cattle after their particular kind. Each kind has varieties within it, but all creatures reproduce only after their own “kind.” Dogs reproduce dogs, monkeys reproduce monkeys, sheep reproduce sheep, etc.

2. After what “kind” was man created? The man kind? Genesis 1:26.

Have you ever noticed that before? Man was not created after the “man kind.” He was created after the God kind! This is huge!

3. Even though man is made in the likeness of God, are both composed of the same type of “material”? John 4:24; Genesis 2:7.

There is a vast difference between spirit and dust. Although man was created in the very shape and likeness of God, he was not created out of spirit. He was made of matter, the dust of the earth, subject to death and decay. But God’s purpose is to eventually create him out of eternal spirit!

Our Awesome Destiny!

Astonishing as it may sound, God is now in the process of creating His greatest creation of all—His supreme masterpiece!

Only a very few have really understood God’s awesome purpose for human beings. The Bible reveals that awesome purpose: God is REPRODUCING HIMSELF—through mankind! Our destiny is to become the literal children of God, members of His own divine Family! Let’s understand this amazing truth.

1. God is forming and molding man; what does Isaiah liken God to? Isaiah 64:8.

God’s creation of Adam and Eve was complete only in the physical sense. They were created perfect physically—but not perfect spiritually. They were created of the dust—not of divine spirit. They were created corruptible and subject to death—not incorruptible and immortal, like God.

But the Master Potter did not intend that mankind should remain that way!

2. Are true Christians being fashioned by God for a specific purpose? Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 2:10.

“We” in the New Testament usually refers to Spirit-begotten Christians, as Paul intended in Ephesians 2:10. We, then—if we are true Christians—are God’s “workmanship.” We are in the process of being “created”—why?—“unto good works.” God, with the Holy Spirit He has put within us, is forming in us His perfect spiritual character! With our consent and cooperation, God is creating us after His own character! We are to become the supreme masterpiece of all His works of creation—individuals who will be capable of righteously exercising the awesome powers of God! Individuals who are literally children of God—who act just like their Father!

The material creation of man is only the first phase. Now the clay model has to be fashioned and molded, with our cooperation and the aid of God’s Holy Spirit, into the finished spiritual masterpiece.

What It Means to Be ‘Born Again’

Incredible as it may sound, Jesus taught that humans can be “born” into the Family, or Kingdom, of God!

1. How many individuals does God want to have in His Family? 2 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:9-11; Revelation 21:7. What relationship does Jesus Christ have to the other sons of God? Romans 8:29.

God plainly shows that His purpose is to increase His divine Family by bringing many sons into it! Not just one firstborn Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. To be “conformed to the image” of Christ means to become like Him—to be glorified as He is now glorified—to be a member of the divine Family of God even as Christ now is.

2. What must happen to flesh-and-blood Christians before they can enter God’s Family? 1 Corinthians 15:49-52; John 3:3-8.

Jesus said we must be “born again”—CHANGED INTO SPIRIT! Yes, born again—this time born of the Spirit of God as divine sons in the Family of God!

Begotten Sons Now—Not Yet Born Again

1. If we are true Christians, are we already—in this life—the children of God? 1 John 3:1-2. Are we already inheritors of the Kingdom of God? Romans 8:14-17.

Notice that although we are now the “sons” and “children of God,” we are only heirs—ones who shall, in the future, inherit what God has promised. Why? Because we are now only begotten. It is only when we are born of God that we become inheritors of God’s Kingdom—divine members of the Family of God.

Before the second phase of man’s creation—our spiritual creation—can begin, God the Father must first beget each of us by placing His Holy Spirit within our minds to join with the spirit in man. We are then impregnated, so to speak, by the “seed,” or germ, of eternal life. It is the begettal of the spiritual life of God within our minds. Much as a newly begotten physical embryo begins to grow in his or her mother’s womb, we are to grow in spiritual character after we are begotten by God’s Spirit. This growth results from Bible study, prayer, and walking with God every day of our lives.

2. Do we actually receive of the divine nature of God when we are begotten by His Holy Spirit? 2 Peter 1:3-4. What are some of the divine characteristics, or “fruits,” of God’s nature that obedient Christians manifest in their lives after they are begotten by God’s Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23.

Born Again at the Resurrection

1. Can we humans inherit God’s Kingdom? 1 Corinthians 15:50. What must happen to us to be born as divine sons in God’s Family? Verses 51-53.

“That which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” said Jesus (John 3:6). But we have not yet been born of the Spirit. We are still flesh and blood—capable of pain and bleeding. But when born into the God Family, we will be free of human pain and suffering (Revelation 21:4). And with our new spirit bodies, we will be unfettered by the physical limitations of time and space. When Christ was resurrected—“born again”—He was able to pass through solid walls (John 20:19, 26). Any human beings who claim to already be born again are completely mistaken; after all, they are still flesh and blood.

Jesus said we must be born “of the Spirit”—we must become composed of spirit—to ever see or enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). And so the second birth is something yet to occur at the resurrection to immortality!

2. Speaking of the resurrection—when the second birth will occur—what did Paul say regarding the new body Christians will receive? 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. Will they resemble what Jesus Christ already is like? Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2; Matthew 17:1-2; Revelation 1:13-16; Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3.

Because God is spirit, when one is born of his heavenly Father, he will also be spirit—he will be composed of the same substance of which God is composed. He will be given a spirit body like Christ’s and will be glorified and given tremendous spiritual power. The power and glory that Spirit-begotten Christians shall receive at the resurrection will be so great that it will make their faces shine as the sun! And all who are thus born again of God will be able to see God because they will be in the Kingdom—the divine Family—of God!

The Great Mart

The Great Mart

Getty Images

Putting a warming relationship in prophetic context
From the August 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Do you believe in the predictive power of Bible prophecy?

Three years ago, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry forecasted the formation of a brief alliance between a German-led European Union and major Asian powers, based primarily on trade and commerce.

This past May, the European Council on Foreign Relations, a well-respected think tank, published a revelatory report titled “China and Germany: Why the Emerging Special Relationship Matters for Europe.” It confirms the emergence of the relationship Mr. Flurry spoke of three years ago.

What makes this trend so fascinating is the fact that this prediction was based on a prophecy in the biblical book of Isaiah. This unfolding scenario—just as the Prophet Isaiah described would happen in the end time—demonstrates yet again the pinpoint accuracy of the Bible’s forecasts, as well as God’s power to bring those prophecies to pass—and the urgency of our times.

Market Futures Intertwined

Current European and global economic conditions are driving Germany and China into each other’s arms. “Against the background of [Europe’s debt] crisis, Chinese officials and analysts see a Germany that is increasingly powerful, a France that is weakened, and a UK that is marginalized,” the report’s authors explain. “They therefore see Germany playing an increasingly decisive role in EU decision-making and therefore feel they have little choice but to approach Europe through Germany.”

As one Chinese official put it, “If you want something done in Brussels, you go to Berlin.”

But the interest is far from one-sided. Overseers of Germany’s booming export economy have worried that the imposition of austerity measures on European Union economies would reduce the capacity of their major market—EU member nations—to continue buying German-manufactured goods. But with China on the scene, these worries become less relevant.

“Europe’s future relationship with China—one of its most important ‘strategic partners’—will be determined to a large extent by Germany’s rapidly evolving bilateral relationship with China. Germany is China’s number one trade partner in the EU …. In short, Germany is now by far the biggest European player in China” (ibid).

The relationship between Berlin and Beijing is underpinned primarily by trade and commerce. “The increase in trade between China and Germany during the last decade—and, in particular, in German exports to China—has exceeded all expectations,” the report states.

It is just as Isaiah forecast 2,500 years ago. The essence of the prophecy in Isaiah 23, as Mr. Flurry explained in his booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision, is a brief economic alliance called a “mart of nations.”

The speed at which this relationship has developed is astounding. In 2010, Germany’s trade with China rose by 34 percent, to $181 billion. In 2011, that figure climbed to $190 billion. During a recent visit to Germany, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stated that the two nations want it at $280 billion by 2015. In 2011, Germany’s gross domestic product grew by 3 percent, with exports to China alone contributing half a percentage point. These days, almost half the EU’s exports to China come from Germany. Meanwhile, China is set to overtake America as the biggest destination for German exports outside the EU. “At present, there is an almost perfect symbiosis between the Chinese and German economies: China needs technology and Germany needs markets” (ibid).

The drama intensified in February when German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a crucial visit to Beijing. Immediately afterward, the Chinese began investing heavily in Central and Eastern Europe.

China forms a gargantuan customer base for German industry. Not only was it stimulated by German investment in the years of reconstruction following its breaking loose from the economic stagnation of the Soviet era, but the revived economies of Central and Eastern Europe have relied heavily on German imports ever since.

However, as austerity measures imposed on EU member nations have started to bite deep into these economies, orders for German goods have diminished. With Germany deeply involved in directing the handling of the ongoing euro crisis, Berlin’s most obvious solution to shrinking export demand was to lobby China to invest in Central and Eastern Europe, thus enabling those economies to again stimulate demand for German products.

The futures of Germany and China, the world’s most dominant trading nations, have become inextricably intertwined.

Bad News for Washington

Naturally, these healthy trade ties have given rise to greater political cooperation. “The burgeoning economic interdependence between China and Germany, based on a technology-for-markets swap, is the basis for an increasingly close political relationship …” (ibid). This relationship reached new levels in June last year, when Premier Wen visited Berlin with a large entourage and conducted government-to-government consultations. The gathering was, in effect, the report said, “a joint cabinet meeting.”

Such political cooperation bodes poorly for the U.S. because both Berlin and Beijing often oppose Washington, particularly on global economy-related issues. Unlike America, German and Chinese economies depend heavily on manufacturing and exports; in fact, Germany and China are the world’s top two exporters, which makes them natural partners in entertaining solutions to the global financial crisis.

However, this loose alliance against America goes beyond trade. “China has for a long time wanted a multipolar world in which U.S. power is limited by the emergence of other power centers.” From Beijing’s vantage point, “Europe plays a key role in … thinking about multipolarity” (ibid). Strategically, China welcomes a strong Europe to counter America. And unlike America, a German-led Europe has no military bases or direct military interest in Asia, so China doesn’t consider a militarized, politically strong Europe a threat.

That Europe—particularly Germany—is prepared to ditch America for China was spelled out in another recent report out of Europe. This report also showed the potential a China-Europe pact would have in besieging America economically.

In a June 19 analysis, the European Union Institute for Security Studies (euiss) advocated a closer Europe-China relationship to help in solving Europe’s debt crisis. The euiss is a European Union agency operating under the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and provides analyses and forecasting to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. As such, its reports carry considerable weight.

The euiss’s June 19 report noted that “overall, China seems to put more trust in Europe’s economy—in particular Germany and its surrounding area—than in the U.S.” It says that China’s shift away from the dollar and into the euro, together with its response to Europe’s debt crisis, “indicate that the time may have come for the EU to consider a political and economic grand bargain with China for the next 5 to 10 years.”

“While the traditional ally across the Atlantic is not in a position to effectively help the EU, China’s financial clout could well contribute to shielding the eurozone from international speculation coming mainly from Wall Street,” the euiss said. Its recommendation is “closer Sino-European ties” and “a political and economic grand bargain.”

Earlier in the year, another EU institution also recommended closer Europe-China ties, saying collaboration in science and technology should be “at the heart of bilateral cooperation.” The EU-funded Europe-China Research and Advice Network stated, “China poses no military threat to Europe” and that this fact “promises to benefit the EU in its engagement with China.” It suggested that concerns about human rights should be put aside in order for the EU to engage China more.

The direction such influential EU institutions are leading is a powerful indication of the beginnings of the fulfillment of prophecy about the economic and literal besiegement of America in the end time.

What the Mart Portends

Isaiah’s prophecy is marching toward fulfillment. It links with parallel prophecies in Ezekiel and Revelation to clearly depict the interdependent relationship building between Germany—and China. And it reveals the startling outcome of these trends.

Chapters 22 and 23 of Isaiah identify these two great markets in a few different ways. In Isaiah 23:1, China is called by its ancient name, Chittim. The same verse calls the German-dominated European Union by the term used to describe a major economic power extant at the time the prophecy was written, ancient Tyre.

In this prophecy, the great northern trading power of today (of which Tyre, consistent with biblical typology, is depicted as a type) is shown in relationship to China, the sea (verses 2, 4, 11), oceans (“great waters,” verse 3) and ships (verses 1 and 14), mentioned in relation to seaborne merchant traffic (verse 8)—all within the context of a great international market.

Isaiah 23:13 mentions Italy under its ancient name, Chaldea. Italy is here depicted in association with Germany, whose biblical identity is Assyria, or Asshur.

An associated prophecy in Ezekiel 27:1-6 again uses maritime terms in association with merchants enacting trade via the sea between Tyrus (called “king of the north” in Daniel 11) and the Ashurites (Germany) in association with Chittim (China). The theme continues in relation to the main subject, Tyrus, a type of the prophesied king of the north, in verses 8-9, 12 and 22-25.

Nations mentioned in verse 21, in the context of trade with Tyrus, bring to mind the Arab-Germanic alliance described in Psalm 83. Still others, especially Greece (Javan), now a virtual vassal state of the German-led EU, and Russia (Meshek and Tubal), hugely exposed to EU debt and greatly dependent on German exports, are also mentioned in verses 13 and 15. Japan and Southeast Asia (Togarmah) are also brought into the equation in verse 14. This all bespeaks a massive trading power having open access to sea gates for global trade and a powerful linkage with China at the prophesied “latter days” (Daniel 10:14).

Taken in context, the prophecies of Isaiah 23 and Ezekiel 27 align perfectly with those of Revelation 13:16-17 and Revelation 18. These all point specifically to the current interdependence of the world’s two major trading blocs—the German-dominated EU and China.

In his booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision (request your free copy), Gerald Flurry outlines what this alliance portends for the U.S. in particular: “The Bible contains many prophecies of [a] European power attacking America—and many other prophecies of America being besieged.

“That is where China and the giants of Asia enter the picture. When the Holy Roman Empire attacks North America, there will be no help or sympathy from Asia. In fact, considering that China has come to possess most of the world’s strategic sea gates (which, ironically, at one time were held by Britain and America), we believe there may be a brief alliance between the German-led Holy Roman Empire and certain Asian powers (Russia, China, Japan—the kings of the east). Should Europe, the resurrected Holy Roman Empire, find a way to take advantage—even for a moment—of key resources and strategic holdings of China, Russia and Japan, it would have more than enough power to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations and enslave them.”

That’s right! This Euro-Asian partnership is prophesied to lead to the destruction of the United States and Britain!

“This is why Isaiah’s prophecy of an end-time ‘mart of nations’ that includes both European and Asian powers is so intriguing,” Mr. Flurry concluded. “And why the trend of collusion between these two great economic blocs is worth watching.”

It’s early, but there is no doubt that a German-Chinese alliance is forming. Perhaps some mock us for letting Bible prophecy inform our analysis of world events. But it’s getting harder and harder to deny the facts: Germany is the unchecked leader of Europe; Europe is transforming into a German-designed creation; and relations between Germany, China and Russia are getting healthier and stronger.

And let’s not forget the larger, more important fact: that all three of these trends were prophesied, and that world events, yet again, are proving the Bible as the “more sure word” of God!

The ‘German Shepherd’ Shows His Teeth

The ‘German Shepherd’ Shows His Teeth

VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Silencing dissenting priests, clamping down on errant nuns—Pope Benedict XVI is pointing the way forward for the Roman Catholic Church.
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

When he became pope in 2005, the German-born Joseph Ratzinger was expected by liberals and conservatives alike to be a tough authoritarian. After all, he was the church’s chief doctrinal enforcer, head of the organization once known as the Inquisition. He was the “Panzerkardinal”—“God’s Rottweiler.”

Then came seven years of what many perceived as a relatively quiet papacy. Now, though, perceptions are reverting back. In increasingly obvious ways, Benedict’s Rome is snuffing out dissent, stamping out liberalism and enforcing its brand of conservative Catholicism. Headlines are becoming common about the reemergence of the “real Ratzinger” and the “Return of the Rottweiler.”

These muscular moves point to the Roman Catholic Church’s future—and are more deeply significant than you probably realize.

How to Celebrate a Seventh Anniversary

In April, Pope Benedict xvi finished the seventh year of his papacy with several bold, polarizing actions.

During his “Holy Thursday” homily, the pope publicly rebuked a prominent group of hundreds of dissident priests and deacons in heavily Catholic Austria. These church leaders had issued a “call to disobedience,” openly supported women’s ordination and opposed priestly celibacy. Benedict had had enough. In what Reuters called “an unusually direct denunciation,” the pope told the group that “We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the church.”

The Vatican also announced it was investigating a handful of Irish priests for their liberal views. One priest was banished to a monastery; others are being censored; another who has been openly critical of the church’s mishandling of child sex abuse scandals is no longer allowed to print articles.

On April 18, the Vatican released a stingingly corrective eight-page “doctrinal assessment” of the organization representing most of America’s 57,000 nuns. Four years in the making, the report accused that group, the Leadership Conference for Women Religious (lcwr), of “corporate dissent” and corruption by “radical feminism.” The Vatican made clear it will forcefully correct the group’s “serious doctrinal problems.” The report berated the nuns for broadcasting discussions about the ordination of women and ministering to homosexual people. It also lambasted them for, on the one hand, devoting excessive time to “promoting issues of social justice” while, on the other, neglecting to comment on “issues of crucial importance to the life of the church and society,” such as homosexual “marriage” and abortion. Now, the lcwr will essentially be on probation for up to five years as conservative bishops scrutinize its practices, supervise its meetings and investigate its ties to various politically active groups.

Predictably, in a libertine world deeply hostile to authority, such moves generate a lot of backlash. (Especially among independent-minded Americans: They called the crackdown on nuns heart-breaking, stunning, mind-boggling.) The pope doesn’t care. He is making his stand and daring people to challenge him—stepping out and castigating his critics for being out of step.

Pope Benedict continued his offensive in early May. As several American bishops visited Rome, he told them not to stray from Catholic teaching and reminded them to make sure their teachings are approved by the Vatican.

He then strongly rebuked America’s Catholic academia. Catholic colleges and universities have defied the Vatican and Catholic authorities for years. Many have invited dissenting Catholics or even vocal opponents of the church to speak. For years many have been violating a mandate set up by John Paul ii that requires them to appoint only theology teachers approved by the local bishop. “Catholic identity, not least at the university level, entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus,” the pope said. “All too often, it seems, Catholic schools and colleges have failed to challenge students to reappropriate their faith.” Benedict wants Catholic schools to get a lot more Catholic—and fast.

Wooing Conservatives

Meanwhile—in fact, on the very same day it cracked down on the lcwr—the Vatican revealed that it is about to strike a deal with a fringe group of disassociated ultra-traditionalist Catholics that could bring them back into communion with Rome. This controversial group, Society of St. Pius x, broke away two decades ago out of opposition to liberal changes in the church that followed the Second Vatican Council—and the pope wants them back.

The simultaneous clampdown on liberal American nuns and embrace of ultra-conservatives is a telling sign. As the National Catholic Reporter wrote, “In tandem with Benedict’s 2009 decision to welcome traditionalist Anglicans, it’s tempting to conclude that his policy amounts to accommodating dissent on the right and squelching it on the left” (emphasis added).

To coax the Pius x Catholics back, the pope is offering to reinterpret the Vatican ii changes, which have been a key part of the church’s relative liberalism in recent years. While the pope sees some of the Vatican ii reforms as important to help draw protesting Christians back into the fold, other aspects he’d like to be rid of.

Even appealing to disgruntled Anglicans helps the pope pull the church to the right. These Anglicans are more conservative than many of their English Catholic colleagues. A flood of new Catholics who are adamantly opposed to homosexual “marriage” and women bishops is exactly what the pope needs to reform the Catholic Church in England.

The pope is personally involved in that initiative. He donated $250,000 to the UK Catholic organization that has been set up to receive defecting Anglicans, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The group has come out of the Anglican Church with little to no property or funds, making the pope’s donation a key lifeline.

These funds could make the church grow much faster. Once members see that they won’t be absorbed into a Catholic congregation but will instead be able to worship with former Anglicans in their own buildings, many more may be willing to make the move. And much more of the clergy would be willing to jump if they knew the ordinariate had the money to pay them.

At the start of his papacy, Joseph Ratzinger quietly appointed men of like mind to key posts. In parts of the church—Britain, for example—liberalism was firmly entrenched. With these key offices now filled with Benedict’s men, he is going for a wider reform of the church—and doing so quite aggressively.

Looking at these events, the National Catholic Reporter drew this conclusion: “The ‘German Shepherd,’ it would seem, still has some bite.”

Why Be Concerned?

On one level, anyone sickened or angered by the world’s deplorable moral decline would find such conviction admirable. However, this is not just anyone, or any organization. This is the pope. This is the Universal Church—with a billion believers and nearly two millennia of portentous history behind it.

In recent years Rome has labored to strengthen and fulfill its fundamental missionary purpose: to bring other churches’ teachings in line with Roman Catholicism; specifically, to get them to acknowledge and unite under the authority of the pope. Benedict xvi is focused on reviving the historic imperative of the church’s universality.

To better understand the significance of Rome’s recent assertiveness, one must view it in the context of the church’s historical attempts to establish its global authority. This is a church with global ambition. And frankly, those periods where it has most aggressively exercised its influence have been some of mankind’s darkest.

However, even looking just at this history only provides a partial view. To really see what is taking place, one must also look through the lens of biblical prophecy.

The Roman Catholic Church holds a monumental place in the Bible’s narrative of end-time events. It is described as ascending to once again attain a position of influence such as it has had at several points in its past, uniting with world leaders, summoning armies under the banner of the cross, using its spiritual clout to steer the political and military might of nations into helping it accomplish its goals. Scripture actually portrays this church as a woman sitting on “many waters,” signifying a globalist reign.

It also, shockingly, depicts the church as a beast—but with a twist. It will not appear as a beast: It looks like a lamb—innocent, just and righteous in the eyes of most people. It projects itself as being like the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. This, however, is the worst possible deception: It speaks like a dragon (Revelation 13:11)—and it is what comes out of the mouth that reveals the true nature of the heart.

You need to prove these prophecies—and believe them. They expose what is truly happening on today’s world scene. They show God’s view of the Catholic Church and other major players on the political and religious stage, and reveal how He is shaping events to fulfill His purposes.

The Vatican’s recent muscularity is only the beginning. Watch closely: This thing is going to grow. Believe it or not, it threatens to shake the world!

Sucked Under by That College Degree

Sucked Under by That College Degree

DNY59/iStockphoto

Swamped in debt and jobless, more and more graduates say college is the worst money they ever spent. This is a problem with clear causes—and at least one possible solution.
From the August 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Imagine: minimum-wage job, or no job. Tens of thousands in debt. Debt collectors garnishing your wages—and your parents’ wages. Yet you seem to get no closer to paying it off. This is the situation that millions of university students find themselves in danger of.

Total student loan debt in America is now $1 trillion. About two thirds of students graduate with debt. The average student owes more than $25,000. Parents who took out loans to pay for their children’s education owe an average of $34,000.

For the first time ever, American students owe more in student loans than the country owes in credit card debt.

William Brewer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, calls this situation “a debt bomb that could cripple our society.” He isn’t exaggerating. Outside of owing that 25 grand to Big Vinny-with-the-brass-knuckles, student loan debt is the most dangerous kind of debt you can have.

If you take out a student loan, you owe it until you pay it back or until you die. There is virtually no other way out. It is a debtor’s prison that sometimes comes with a life sentence. For unsuspecting teenagers and their parents who often co-sign the loans, it has become a painful lesson in indentured servitude.

Besides debts to the Internal Revenue Service, student loans are the only type of debt where lenders can garnish your wages without a court order. And student loans are the only type of debt that cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy.

Yet even this arrangement often produces a lose-lose situation. Lenders can’t garnish wages when students graduate and go ninja—No Income, No Job or Assets. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, the youth workforce participation rate is the lowest on record. The unemployment rate for white youth is 15.8 percent; for Hispanic youth, 20 percent; among black youth, 31 percent.

Following graduation, a graduate has six months to find a job and start making loan payments. If he doesn’t, the penalties and interest start piling up—and they never stop. As in never, ever.

Angry Students

The student debt problem is enormous, says Ike Shulman, a bankruptcy attorney in California. It’s “basically setting us up for having a large number of fellow citizens become economically non-functional for the rest of their adult lives,” he says.

If you think that’s bad, think about this: What are all these college grads going to do when they can’t get a job? Will they sit quietly unemployed while their debts grow bigger and bigger?

Everardo Gonzalez is a 23-year-old criminal justice graduate of San Francisco State University. As a student, he received federal grants and worked at ikea. But he still graduated owing $26,490 in federal loans and $10,000 in credit card debt. His debt levels are pretty typical.

After graduating, he landed a paid internship and is planning to go back to school to get a master’s degree in political theory. Then he wants to become a teacher. By the time he is done, he will owe thousands more.

Gonzalez is angry. To protest the debt, he and some other angry students staged an “Occupy Graduation” demonstration. Over their graduation robes, they all wore inflatable balls and chains—emblazoned with their student debt amounts.

With so much debt, it is easy to understand his frustration. If, instead of attending college, he got a job and saved up that $36,490 and invested it at a conservative 6 percent (most pension funds assume a long-term average return of 8 percent)—and continued to invest the $400 per month in interest and principle that he would spend paying down his debt over 10 years—he would have $132,000 in his bank account. At that point he wouldn’t have to contribute another dollar, and he would have $800,000 in his investment account by the time he retired.

Granted, once students graduate, they often get better-paying, more-fulfilling jobs. But even this is changing in recession-riddled America.

The idea that college should be “free” for everyone seems to be gaining traction. But as they used to teach at colleges, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If it is free for you, it is costing someone else. However, you can also empathize with people in this predicament. Students just don’t realize what they’re dealing with: an entire system that is built on greed.

Greedy Government

A couple of generations ago, if a high school student wanted to go to college, he first had to plan, work, scrimp and save up the money. Sometimes he had to work for a few years after high school graduation before he could save up enough to attend college. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was born to a miner and laundress and grew up in poverty. Reid’s boyhood home was built out of old railroad ties, it had no indoor toilet, no hot water and no telephone. He had to work hard to pay his way through college. John Boehner, speaker of the House, was one of 12 children born to a working class family. It took him seven years to work and pay his way through college.

Having to pay for college resulted in students who really valued the college experience, who really wanted to be there for what they could learn, and who were mature enough for it.

Now, the government aggressively encourages all students to attend college. But many students shouldn’t go: Some simply are not academically suited for college; others do not have the work ethic necessary to succeed; others never use what they studied in college for their careers. Yet instead of promoting other types of career development, the government has fixated on colleges, coercing them to lower their academic standards to allow more students in.

The government has also forced colleges to adopt racial profiling in their admission policies. Colleges now admit racial minorities simply to meet federally mandated racial quotas, regardless of the students’ ability to succeed.

The result of the “everybody deserves a degree” policy erodes the value of a college diploma. This forces students to stay even longer in school to get post-graduate degrees in order to make them stand out. These cost additional time and money.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when a college education actually became cheaper each year. As recently as the early 1970s, the cost of a degree was falling annually by 17 percent. Then something changed, and the price tag for college hasn’t stopped rising since.

In 1978, the government started giving out taxpayer-funded student loans to people regardless of their income. From 1978 to 1981, government aid shot up by a whopping 70 percent. As any economics major worth his salt will tell you, the result was inevitable. Tuition started to rise.

The Reagan administration responded by providing even more government aid, including Pell grants and Perkins loans. By the end of the 1980s, tuition had risen a pocket-busting 47 percent. Successive governments continued the policy, and a cycle ensued. More students went to college, costs rose, students complained, the government provided more student loans, grants, subsidies to colleges, and so on.

None of it worked; it just made things worse. Students and the government have played a big part in making this mess, but they are only half the cast in this tragedy.

Greedy Banks

Monica Johnson is a 35-year-old college graduate who helped organize the “Occupy Graduation” protest at Hunter College in New York. Fifteen years ago, she borrowed $15,000 to pay for college. In 2007, she decided to go back to school for a fine arts degree and took out an additional $60,000 in loans, which shot up to $88,000—after she dropped out of the program.

Johnson is currently working at a non-profit and is struggling under her huge debt burden. “What really [makes me angry] is I should never have been given those loans,” Johnson says. “It honestly was the worst money I ever spent.”

Although Johnson deserves her share of the blame for borrowing ridiculous sums of money and then dropping out of college, she also brings up a great point. Normally it wouldn’t be in a bank’s self-interest to lend such serious money to such students. But thanks to politicians, it is in their self-interest.

In the past, student loans were much harder to come by. They were given out more like mortgages—or how mortgages used to be. If you wanted a loan for a home, you had to have a good job and good credit history, and you had to put down good collateral (the property). Without these things, the bank simply wouldn’t give you a loan. It knew you were more likely to default, and it would not get its money back, much less make a profit off you.

Yet all a student has to do today is get accepted to a college, and he can get hundreds of thousands of dollars in low-interest-rate student loans simply handed to him. Why?

To induce banks to give ever greater loans to virtually all students who go to college, Congress has passed a law saying that students simply can never default. A struggling student can even declare bankruptcy and still not have his debt wiped clean. Another law says that when a student does stop making his payments, his wages can be garnished without even appearing before a judge and justifying a court order.

Of course, banks are happy to lend under that sweetheart deal.

Lenders should be free to give loans to any student, but they should not be able to pin people up against a law that makes it illegal for a judge to wipe out that debt.

Doesn’t it make more sense for banks to lend based upon real-world factors? Things like: what grades did the student get in high school; did the student work a job in high school; does the student have good references; and what degree program does the student want this money to pay for? If a student wants a loan to take courses in Philosophy of Star Trek (no joke), that should be his or her choice. But it is also the bank’s prerogative to charge a higher interest rate, or decline to give that student a loan at all, since the odds of him finding a job afterward and paying back his loan are virtually nil.

This would fix several problems, such as weeding out those students who shouldn’t—or don’t really want to—be there. It would bring accountability and consequences back into the system.

Pandering Schools

Over the past decade, the cost to go to college has soared an inflation-adjusted 164 percent! Why? Because colleges and universities have found a great way to help themselves to the government’s money and the student’s money—or the bank’s money and the student’s debt. It’s called “tuition adjustment.” Instead of keeping tuition and other charges relatively steady so that the student pays less and the government pays the rest, college administrators have simply raised their prices.

If the government stopped taking ever growing billions of taxpayers’ dollars and loaning or granting them to students, universities would no longer be able to raise tuition prices indiscriminately. Meanwhile, students would have to take degree programs that are worthwhile. Thus universities would have to find cost savings and cut useless and wasteful programs. If universities wanted to offer programs for occupations that paid less, they would have to reduce tuition costs to attract students. In short, universities would have to go back to trying to attract students, as opposed to having an endless supply of students to milk each year.

Thousands of students go to college just because government and university propaganda convinces them to, and give little thought to the realities of finding a job after graduation. They take classes based not on what will prepare them for a career, but on what happens to interest them at the time, or what is easiest. Colleges teeming with these students have broadly responded by dumbing down their curricula to appeal to more students, and so more students can pass.

This system has produced a generation of students taking degree programs that are, essentially, worthless. Some students at Harvard spend $62,000 per year working toward degrees in Folklore and Mythology. Courses include Witchcraft and Charm Magic, Continuing Oral Traditions in Indigenous Communities, Hero and Trickster, and African Women Storytellers. Four-year total cost: $248,000. Job prospect: zero. Probability of debt slavery: Close to 100 percent.

Thousands of students are borrowing bundles to pay for these types of degrees. In 2010, 89,000 students graduated with Fashion Design degrees. Did they know that only 22,000 people in the country actually work in that field? Each year approximately 89,000 students graduate with theater degrees, even though only 155,000 people in the U.S. actually work as actors, directors or producers. About 50,000 American students per year graduate with Art History degrees. But how many art museums are there in America? Approximately 92,000 graduate with Visual and Performing Arts degrees; 55,000 graduate with Literature degrees, while 97,000 graduate with a degree in Psychology.

Then there are all the students who graduate with majors that end in “studies”: Gay and Lesbian Studies, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Medieval Studies. These degrees should be marketed, “Studies in how to make yourself obnoxious to a potential employer and never get a job.”

Students then spend much of the rest of their lives paying for these degrees on salaries not much better than minimum wage.

And sometimes they don’t even get the degree. Each year around 2.3 million hopefuls enroll in college. Over half of them drop out before finishing.

In all of these cases, their debt still needs to be paid.

The End Result

Even the many students who take worthwhile subjects are not getting a quality education. The fruits of this education system gone wrong are becoming increasingly evident. To take one shocking example, in 2005, over 100 applicants were caught hacking into a website that stored Harvard’s admissions information. When the breach was revealed, the school administration retracted acceptance offers made to students involved in what Harvard labeled a “serious breach of trust.” This seems like a reasonable and just course of action—but an astounding 75 percent of Harvard’s “corporate accountability” class sided with the hackers. These were students in a class on corporate ethics—at Harvard, one of America’s most prestigious universities! They saw nothing wrong with breaking into the school’s website.

The problem is that so many students are graduating without a moral compass. Although this is not an entirely new trend, like student debt, the effects of generational compounding are now being felt.

More than half a century ago, a popular magazine asked, “Is honesty the best policy?” The question was put to 103 top business executives. An overwhelming majority doubted whether a strictly honest policy would enable a man to rise to the top in the business world. Only two answered “yes,” and one of these said he knew he was being naive. One executive surveyed said: “People who don’t get dirty don’t make it.” Another said, “In 30 years I’ve known of only three men who’ve reached executive positions cleanly, and I admit I’m not one of them.” A third responded: “The higher the executive is in the management ladder, the more likely he is to do some dirty work.”

These were the leaders of America’s most prestigious businesses. They were the products of America’s most prestigious colleges. And that was more than 50 years ago.

They are the ones who taught the people teaching our college students today.

An appraisal of modern society reveals selfish motivation, disregard for public good, mean practices, dishonesty, dog-eat-dog competition and unbridled greed! This world is increasingly lacking the true values and the outgoing concern for others that would bring happiness.

If colleges required an exit exam upon graduation, it should ask: Can any society that values money and power over honesty and morals continue to prosper? This is the crux of the problem: moral breakdown.

There has always been greed and selfishness. But it is hard to deny that the bad fruits are multiplying: Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing, WorldCom, Long-Term Capital Management, Countrywide Financial, Bear Stearns, General Motors, aig, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff, Jerome Kerviel, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the list goes on.

It’s simply a case of cause and effect. The numerous failed and fraudulent financiers, brokers, bankers and politicians of the day are simply the products of their education.

Most of society’s greatest problems—in leadership, government, economics, science, international relations, and education itself—trace back to the fundamental failure of our education system.

An Example for the Future

This broad failure is part of the reason Herbert W. Armstrong College was founded.

Herbert W. Armstrong College is partially sponsored by the Trumpet’s publisher, the Philadelphia Church of God. It is based on a different model. It is free from the system of greed. This college cares about its students and wants them to be prepared for the future when they graduate—not dreading it. This world needs a living example of the college’s motto: “Education with vision.” It needs people who graduate knowing how to live, and how to be a true success—not just having textbook recipes to give them a better shot at making money.

At Herbert W. Armstrong College, students pay about $6,000 per year. They enroll with $4,000 up front, which offsets much of the cost for freshman year. Thereafter, all students pay for the rest of their room, board, supplies and tuition through a 20-hour-per-week student work program. About half of their student salary is withheld to pay for ongoing college expenses—enabling all of them to graduate from college debt-free.

Besides helping to pay off college fees, the student work program offers valuable on-the-job training that prepares students for their careers and teaches work ethic, integrity, dependability, responsibility, creativity, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and other valuable life skills.

But Armstrong College offers much more than job training for our students. Here, students learn about the real purpose for human life; they learn true values.

Armstrong College takes its name from Herbert W. Armstrong, who raised up three liberal arts colleges. The philosophy of this college is based, as Mr. Armstrong wrote, on the recognition that “true education is not of the intellect alone, but of the whole personality—not alone of technologies, sciences and arts, but an understanding of the purpose of life, a knowledge of the spiritual laws which govern our lives, our God-relationship and human relationships; not a memorizing of knowledge alone but a thorough training in self-discipline, self-expression, cultural and character development; not book learning only, but broadening travel and experience; not only hearing and learning, but doing.”

At Armstrong College, the emphasis is on building character, developing a sound mind, becoming emotionally mature and socially balanced, cultivating a well-rounded and service-oriented personality, and learning to appreciate the finer things in life. Here students learn how to apply the more specific, job-oriented, specialized skills that they will obtain throughout a lifetime of ongoing education.

Anglican, Vatican Choirs Unite for Papal Mass

The Westminster Abbey Choir joined the pope’s personal choir on Friday for a special papal mass at the Vatican. The performance at St. Peter’s Basilica was seen as a historic event that reflected increasing unity between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church.

The Anglican Westminster choir is perhaps the most illustrious of its kind. Last year, it performed at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

In 2010, it performed during Pope Benedict xvi’s visit to the abbey, and it was the pope himself who was behind the decision to invite the choirboys to Rome. The pope also specified that he wanted the Anglican choir to unite with his personal Sistine Chapel Choir, rather than alternating performances.

Today is the first time the pope’s 500-year-old choir has allowed any other group to sing with it, let alone one from the breakaway Anglican Church. Anglicans split from Rome in 1534 and historically have maintained their distance.

However, as today’s performance indicates, Pope Benedict is trying to bring Anglicans back where he thinks they belong: Rome. It is interesting to note the purpose of this special papal mass is to grant newly appointed Catholic archbishops a woolen stole, a symbol of their communion with the pope.

The symbolism, location and overtones of today’s mass are an indicator of what is coming. The Trumpet has forecast for decades that the Roman Catholic Church will bring its Protestant daughter churches back under the authority of the pope.

Pope Benedict has already taken major steps to coax conservative Anglicans back to Catholicism and will continue to do so. Watch for more signals that the Anglican Church and other Protestant churches are reuniting with Rome. To understand more, read our article “The Church That Swallowed a Church.”

Egypt Is Lost

Egypt Is Lost

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

What happens next in the Middle East?

JERUSALEM—What a dramatic and shocking transformation we have witnessed! A radical Islamist now presides over the biggest and most powerful state in the Arab world. The president of the United States, of all people, called to personally congratulate Mohammed Morsi. Jubilant members of Hamas celebrated the Muslim Brotherhood victory by firing off live rounds of ammunition in the streets, which resulted in one casualty. And Morsi’s political opponent—the one who just lost the run-off election—has already fled Egypt for the United Arab Emirates.

But this represents a tremendous victory for democracy—so say the fantasists. The Muslim Brotherhood is now peaceful and tolerant; Morsi’s administration is reaching out to Christians and women; and besides, even if everything falls apart, the Egyptian military will keep the Brotherhood in check.

These fantasies will soon be exposed by a brutal reality. As Bret Stephens wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Don’t console yourself with the belief that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country’s first free presidential election is merely symbolic, since the army still has the guns” (June 25). Iran and Turkey are the two most recent examples of secular militaries that were quickly radicalized.

“Don’t console yourself with the idea that now the Islamists will have to prove themselves capable of governing the country,” Stephens continued. “The Brotherhood is the most successful social organization in the Arab world. Its leaders are politically skillful, economically literate and strategically patient. Its beliefs resonate with poor, rich and middle class alike.”

And now they control the levers of power in the most powerful nation in the Arab world!

“Don’t console yourself,” Stephens concluded, “with hope that Egypt will remain a responsible, status quo player on the international scene. By degrees, Egypt under the Brotherhood will seek to arm Hamas and remilitarize the Sinai. By degrees, it will seek to extract concessions from the U.S. as the price of its good behavior. By degrees, it will make radical alliances in the Middle East and beyond.”

In other words, Egypt is now lost. Whether these radical steps are taken quickly and overtly or slowly and subtly, the outcome is inevitable. “It’s going to be a long and ugly haul,” Stephens wrote. “And it’s just beginning.”

This is just the beginning of a radicalized Islamist state in Egypt. The prophetic implication of this transformation is momentous. And it was prophesied in your Bible, which is why we have been preparing you for this transformation for nearly two decades. Now it’s reality.

The question is: What happens next?

Whenever you talk about the spread of radical Islam in the Middle East, you have to start with Iran. The mullahs in Tehran may often clash with much of the Sunni Arab world, but in Egypt—specifically the Muslim Brotherhood—Iran sees a critically important strategic ally that will greatly strengthen the forces of radical Islam and further isolate Israel.

After Morsi’s victory there was a report by the Iranian Fars news agency that quoted Morsi as saying he was interested in better relations with Tehran. Morsi’s administration later denied the report. But whatever the truth is about that report, you can be sure that Iran is working overtime to build an unshakable alliance with the new Egypt.

Added to that, Morsi’s victory represents a massive strategic victory for Hamas. Over the past year, Morsi has met with Hamas officials several times in Egypt. He’s promised to ease restrictions at the border between Egypt and Gaza, meaning the flow of weapons into Gaza will surely increase.

The Associated Press wrote, “A complete opening of the Gaza-Egypt border, including trade, would also have the unintended consequence of deepening the separation between the West Bank and Gaza …. Regime change in Egypt hits Abbas at a time when he’s increasingly isolated and irrelevant” (June 25).

So who will win the struggle between Hamas and Fatah in the end? If you’ve been following the Trumpet, you already know the answer.

Right after Hamas’s violent overthrow of Gaza in June 2007, my father wrote a co-worker letter that said the Palestinian civil war “should be sending alarm bells throughout the Western world.” Iran, he went on to say, had just taken over Gaza.

“What is going to be Iran’s next move?” my father asked. “Probably, to take over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The Fatah Muslims have the upper hand over Hamas in East Jerusalem, but their control is shaky. Hamas could and probably will get control of the West Bank soon, as they did in Gaza” (emphasis added).

Now Hamas may eventually break free from the Iranian camp, as my father indicated in a recent Key of Davidprogram. But in the short run, it’s likely to play a critical role in radicalizing Fatah. And with an Islamist Egypt now strengthening ties with Iran and Hamas, it surely won’t be much longer before we have an Islamist West Bank—and an Islamist East Jerusalem.

Remember the pro-Morsi campaign from May in which Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi told tens of thousands of cheering Brotherhood members that Jerusalem would become the new capital of an Arab empire, screaming, “millions of martyrs to march toward Jerusalem”?

The official reaction to Morsi’s victory has been somewhat restrained here in Israel. But the unofficial reaction has been almost unanimous shock and dismay!

One of Israel’s papers, Yedioth Ahronoth, called Morsi’s election a “plague of darkness.” One columnist wrote, “The day may not be far off when the cornerstones of the fragile peace with Egypt are smashed once and for all” (June 25).

Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel predicts Morsi’s hold on power will only strengthen over time. As the Times of Israel wrote, “[Mazel] said the incoming president would likely reinstall the Islamist-dominated parliament that was dissolved earlier this month by Egypt’s interim military rulers. And ‘within six months’ … Egypt’s powerful generals would be replaced by figures loyal to the Brotherhood.”

At Maariv, another Israeli newspaper, one columnist wrote, “It’s over: The army will remain in a position of influence, but its time has passed. The street, tradition, religion, the inbuilt Islamist identity—all of these have ridden roughshod over hope, which has been turned into an illusion …. Tunisia and Libya have fallen. Now it’s Egypt’s turn.”

At Israel Hayom, another columnist wrote: “The difficulties that Morsi faces will emerge gradually. When he finds it hard to bridge the gap between Egypt’s political and economic interests and the disappointment of the masses, he may be forced to take populist measures. And in the Middle East this usually means inciting against Israel …. It is easy to envisage Morsi emulating the Islamic Republic [of Iran].”

There just aren’t any positive scenarios for Israel. Israel’s choices range from bad to worse, which is why, as the Jerusalem Postreported, “Israel has been quietly preparing for a possible conflict with Egypt.”

In the short run, war is coming to the Middle East—yes, even to Jerusalem!

Zechariah prophesies of this soon-coming battle: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:2).

Jesus Christ prophesies that He will “gather all nations” to Jerusalem for battle. It’s a prophecy about the military forces of this world gathering to fight against Jesus Christ at His return. As Zechariah points out, gathering the nations actually begins with half of Jerusalem falling—to the forces of radical Islam!

If you continue your study with Zechariah 14, you have a step-by-step preview of what happens leading up to Christ’s appearance on the Mount of Olives. Zechariah 14:4 says, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

War is coming to the Middle East—but it culminates in this blessed event: the return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem! This is why what is occurring in the Middle East is so significant and so thrilling: The radicalization of Egypt is an important step toward the now imminent return of Jesus Christ!