|Live Services||A New Administration|
|Editorial||The UK General Election|
|Q&A||What did Christ mean when He said that He had come to FULFILL the law? Doesn't this imply that He did away with the law?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock|
A New Administration
On Saturday, May 14, 2005, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled: “A New Administration.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
The UK General Election
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
After much argument and debate with politicians of every persuasion filling television screens, radio airwaves and newsprint, we have seen a Labour government in the UK elected for a third time. Multiple millions of pounds have been spent on posters, advertisements, meetings, travel and manifestos by the parties and their candidates, as part of the process to persuade a somewhat reluctant and skeptical general British public to vote for them. Each party promised better things in many areas including, among others, the economy, education, health care, crime, law and order, and immigration. The war in Iraq was a negative factor for the government, but they managed to win power in spite of the concerns of many people.
We have long understood that true Christians should not be involved in the political process and should not vote in governmental elections (see Update 76, January 2004), irrespective of circumstances.
We only need to look at any candidate standing in any constituency for any party at any election at any time, and ask ourselves whether they are promoting the true Christian message? Ever since we have been having political elections, it has never happened anywhere, in any age, in any country and at any time. There never seems to be the approach of esteeming others better than self and promoting peace and harmony between candidates. The process is one of employing whatever means possible, including at times an assortment of dirty tricks, to ensure the acquisition of power. And when in power, in spite of their best attempts, not one politician has all the answers to the seemingly insurmountable problems that confront them.
The only solution is the soon coming Kingdom of God, when political election processes will not be an issue any longer. We won’t see any more voting, arguments and counter arguments with fallible human beings in charge of their nations’ affairs. Rather, we will experience an all powerful Jesus Christ ruling in an autocratic but loving way in the best interests of all of earth’s inhabitants.
Mr. Herbert Armstrong summed it up best, when he wrote in his book, “Tomorrow …What It Will Be Like,” on pages 101/102:
“Christ, the King of kings. Perfect in character, absolute in honesty, integrity, faithfulness and trust; filled with outgoing concern for the governed – their welfare and salvation; total knowledge, understanding, wisdom. Complete love, mercy, patience, kindness, compassion, forgiveness. Yet, possessing total power, and never compromising one millionth of an inch with His perfect law – which is the way of love. He will enforce God’s Law – God’s government on earth. He will compel haughty, carnal, rebellious humans to yield in complete submission to God’s government.”
The difference between what is practiced today and what will be the norm in the Kingdom of God is incalculable. And we should be eternally grateful that fallible human beings, however genuine their intentions, will no longer be responsible for any governmental responsibilities. God speed that day!
This Week in the News
EU, Russia Sign Co-operation Accord
As www.dw-world.de reported on May 10, 2005,
“Russia and the European Union have signed an agreement to forge closer trade and political ties. The accord was signed at a summit in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the agreement would help create a Europe without dividing lines. The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said the accord would provide a new impulse to relations with Moscow. A Russian foreign ministry statement said the two sides had agreed to hold further consultations aimed at easing visa regulations.”
Russia and Germany
Earlier this week, www.dw-world.de reported that “Russian President Vladimir Putin says he supports Germany’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In an interview with the German daily newspaper Bild, Putin said Russia would support a stronger role for Germany at the UN, including a permanent Security Council seat.”
Germany and the Pope
On May 7, 2005, tablet.co.uk published an insightful article about Germany and the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope. The article was written by Nicholas Boyle, professor of German literary and intellectual history, University of Cambridge, and author of “Goethe: the poet and the age,” published by Oxford University Press. The author stated:
“The first thing the British may be surprised to learn from this election is how Catholic a country Germany is, and not just the Bavaria that provided the rural and small-town folk-religion in which Joseph Ratzinger grew up. The Germany in which he spent his entire clerical career until his translation to Rome… was the Western zone of occupation and the Bonn republic, dominated for 14 crucially formative years by the Rhineland Catholic Konrad Adenauer. It was the first state bearing the name of Germany to be a majority Catholic country… British assumptions that Germans look to a European identity because they are embarrassed about their own touch only a part of the truth. Catholic Germany has always been European in its perspectives… Germany is currently the third largest economy in the world, and it has achieved that position through extraordinary efforts made during the years when Professor, and then Archbishop, Ratzinger was based within it.”
The Uncertain Future of Europe
On Saturday, May 7, 2005, the International Herald Tribune published an article, titled, “Can EU, born from war, survive peace?” In the article, it was pointed out:
“Amid the devastation left by World War II, Europe looked around after 1945 for a way to make sure such a disaster never happened again, and found an answer in the European Union. Over the next 50 years, the EU would become an unprecedented experiment… As a result, Europe’s once-warring nation-states are now so closely knit through the institutions, laws and councils of the EU that war across Western Europe has become unimaginable… The 1957 Treaty of Rome… [set up] the European Economic Community, a customs union…[Subsequently] the EEC [was extended] into new areas, such as the single market, the formal establishment of the EU, and, by 2002, the single currency, the euro… Germans in particular adopted the cause of European integration as a source of a new identity, replacing… traditional German nationalistic identity…The stability has been exported, the EU extending geographically to admit countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain in the 1980s. Nations without robust democratic traditions, they were taken into the West European fold and set on the road to democracy, as, even more dramatically, were the nations of the former East bloc that emerged from decades of Soviet domination and communism to join the EU in 2004. Since that enlargement, the biggest in the Union’s history, the EU now includes more than 450 million people in 25 nations.”
However, the article continued to correctly point out:
“But the EU cannot claim to have brought peace to millions on its own… Nor has the EU banished all the dark shadows from half a century ago.”
Religious Discrimination at the Air Force?
On May 6, 2005, the ABP Washington Bureau reported about possible religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy, referring to “several months of allegations about an atmosphere of religious harassment and discrimination at the Colorado Springs, Colo., institution.” The article, which was posted on www.baptiststandard.com, stated:
“Attorneys for Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force officials the 14-page document which detailed several allegations of constitutional violations by top officials and upper-class cadets at the academy. Among AU’s allegations were that large numbers of top administrators, chaplains and faculty members openly and regularly advocated on behalf of evangelical Protestantism, often using coercive means.”
According to the article, here are some of the report’s allegations:
“Christian cadets who wish to attend off-campus religious services on Sundays are given special allowances to do so that are not extended to members of minority faiths or Christian groups that observe the Sabbath on other days of the week…. Cadets of minority faiths or no faith are regularly harassed, discriminated against and frequently subjected to religious epithets at the hands of Christian cadets.”
The article pointed out, too, that “The Pentagon press release said the allegations ‘are being taken very seriously by the Air Force.'”
Putin and US Democracy
According to an article by the Drudge Report on May 6, 2005, “A combative Vladimir Putin tells Mike Wallace [in his TV show, “60 Minutes”] he should question his own country’s democratic ways before looking for problems with Russia’s. The Russian president also says the U.S. shouldn’t try to export its democracy, as it is trying to do in Iraq.” In his televised interview, Putin also said: “India is called the largest world democracy. But their governors have always been appointed by the central government and nobody disputes that India is not a democracy.”
The article continued: “The Russian leader then points to what he believes are drawbacks to America’s own brand of democracy, including the Electoral College system. ‘In the United States, you first elect the electors and then they vote for the presidential candidates. In Russia, the president is elected through the direct vote of the whole population. That might be even more democratic,’ Putin says. ‘And you have other problems in your elections,’ he tells Wallace. ‘Four years ago your presidential election was decided by the court. The judicial system was brought into it. But we’re not going to poke our noses into your democratic system because that’s up to the American people.’ Putin also believes the U.S. democratic system does not travel well and that is precisely why he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning. ‘Democracy cannot be exported to some other place. [Democracy] must be a product of internal domestic development in a society,’ says the Russian president.”
The Pope and the Bible
The Associated Press reported about some revealing past comments by Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI, which were republished on May 7 by WorldNetDaily. According to the publication, “in a 1988 lecture at a Lutheran church in New York, Ratzinger chided fundamentalism, saying it’s ‘useless to take refuge in an allegedly pure, literal understanding of the Bible.’… A 1993 Pontifical Biblical Commission statement on Bible interpretation [by Ratzinger]… denounced fundamentalism as ‘dangerous’ and ‘a kind of intellectual suicide.’ It said fundamentalists place ‘undue stress upon the inerrancy of certain details in the biblical texts’ and naively confuse the Gospels as finally edited with ‘the words and deeds of the historical Jesus.'”
Germany and World War II
On May 8, 2005, www.realcities.com reported:
“On a stage under Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, during ceremonies marking VE Day – the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe – German President Horst Koehler Sunday proclaimed that ‘racism and right-wing extremism have no chance’ in a modern Germany. About a mile down Unter den Linden, a path central in Adolf Hilter’s plans for the capital of the Third Reich, as Germany was called under Hitler’s rule, as many as 3,000 neo-Nazis in a fenced in area applauded as a singer noted, ‘Our hearts are with our heroes, like Rudolph Hess,’ Hitler’s deputy. A speaker added: ‘Stop 60 years of liberation lies. Stop the cult of guilt.’ He was referring to Germany’s repeated expression of remorse for German actions during World War II.
“Despite Koehler’s statements, the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany and other parties commonly associated with the neo-Nazi movement are gaining support in his country. In the state parliament of Saxony, voters recently elected 12 NPD [party members]. More than 300 local German politicians today are from nationalist parties. In February in Dresden, 5,000 neo-Nazis marched during ceremonies for the 60th anniversary of the allied bombing of that city. ‘The person who hasn’t learned from history is sinning against their own nation,’ Koehler said Sunday. ‘There are still a few un-teachable in this country, but racism and right-wing extremism have no chance here today.'”
However, the article continued to state about the demonstrators:
“…speakers criticized the betrayal of the German people by the 1919 Versailles Treaty that settled World War I – a common theme struck by Hitler during his rise to power – and said the horrors of the Third Reich were exaggerated. That’s a common theme of people who deny the Holocaust, when six million Jews were murdered in Nazi death camps. In a new twist, some in the crowd held signs saying, ‘Liberate the world from the United States,’ and speakers talked of how America had planned World War II to belittle the German people. They said the allies subjected Germans to the worst horrors of the war.”
Russia’s Press Libels President Bush
On May 9, 2005, Russia’s daily newspaper, “Pravda,” published a strong article against President Bush. It described Mr. Bush as “provocative and aggressive instead of conciliatory and diplomatic.” In comparing President Putin of Russia with President Bush, Russia’s pro-government paper stated:
“Let us compare for one instant the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States of America. On one side, we have a President whose policy is directed towards improving relations with the international community in a climate of friendship and peace (principles which guided the foreign policy of the USSR) and in tandem with the norms of international law as stipulated by the UNO. On the other, a roving cowboy, taming the wilderness with his gun and his Bible, with an absence of tact and diplomacy.”
The article continued:
“On the eve of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory over Fascism in Europe, instead of being conciliatory to Russia, George Bush waltzes into Latvia, a country with a deplorable human rights record, complete with concentration camps during the Fascist occupation and with a revisionist tendency to glorify its Fascist part in the country’s history and declares that the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe was one of the ‘greatest wrongs of history.’
“So, what was the Soviet Union supposed to do, after 25 million of its citizens had been killed in the most vicious fighting in the war, after a quarter of a million of its citizens had lost their lives killing between 75 and 85% of the Nazi troops in the Second World War? Allow the USA to occupy its resources and install disgusting fast food restaurants before colonizing the country with pornography, filth and depravity?
“The Soviet Union liberated eleven countries from the yoke of evil, just as the Americans and their allies liberated nations in the west. But for George Bush, this liberation, coupled with a commitment of the Union’s resources to develop the three Baltic states and bring them into the front line of development in the areas of education, security, health care, social benefits, to name just a few, was no more than ‘a long vigil of suffering and hope.'”
What did Christ mean when He said that He had come to FULFILL the law? Doesn't this imply that He did away with the law?
Christ’s statement that He came to FULFILL the law does NOT mean that He did away with it — quite the CONTRARY is correct.
Notice what Christ said in Matthew 5:17: “Do NOT think that I came to DESTROY the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy BUT to fulfill.” Christ did not say here that He had come to destroy the law. Neither did He say that “fulfilling” the law meant, “destroying it,” because if that were true, Christ’s statement would read: “I did not come to destroy the law but to destroy the law.” This would make no sense.
In the Greek, the word for “fulfill” is “pleroo.” It is true that this word can designate completion or even cessation — but as will be pointed out, it can also mean a continued activity of carrying out something — depending on the context. For instance, in Luke 7:1, the word “pleroo” is used in the sense of “end” or “conclude”: “Now when He concluded all His sayings…” In Acts 19:21, the Greek word is translated as “accomplished” : “When these things were accomplished…” (The Authorized Version says “ended” in both passages.)
However, in the majority of cases, the Greek word “pleroo” conveys the meaning of “filling up” or “making full,” with the concept of continuing to carry out a specific task.
In our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound,” we explain on pages 17 and 18:
“Christ did not come to do away with God’s spiritual law of the Ten Commandments. He stated in Matthew 5:17 that He had NOT come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it-to magnify it, to exalt it and to make it more honorable (Isaiah 42:21), to fill it up with its intended meaning, to show how to keep it perfectly in the flesh. The Greek word for ‘fulfill’ is ‘pleroo.’ It literally means ‘to fill’ or ‘to make full’ (Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible). In Matthew 3:15 it is used in this context: ‘…it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’
“In Philippians 2:2, Paul states, ‘…fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love.’ Further, Paul reminds the saints in Colosse that he became a minister to ‘fulfill the word of God’ (Colossians 1:25), and he admonishes Archippus to ‘take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it’ (Colossians 4:17). None of these passages convey the thought that something has ended-rather, the obvious understanding is that something should be continued to be filled with meaning, or to be brought to perfection… God’s spiritual law, as defined in the Ten Commandments, the statutes and the judgments, ‘stand[s] fast forever and ever’ (Psalm 111:7-8), and… it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away ‘than for one tittle of the law to fail’ (Luke 16:17). A tittle is the smallest stroke in a Hebrew letter.”
In the above-quoted excerpt, the Greek word “pleroo” conveys the meaning of fulfilling a task in a continuing way, rather than completing a task and ceasing to do it.
In addition, note this quote from page 4 of the same booklet:
“The apostle James… silences those who claim that we today do not have to keep ALL of God’s Ten Commandments. Let’s read his decisive answer in James 2:8-12: “If you really fulfill [that is, keep] the royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep [or, fulfill] THE WHOLE LAW, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of ALL. For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a TRANSGRESSOR of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”
In this passage, the Greek word for “fulfill” is “teleo,” but the intended meaning is obviously the same: We are to continue fulfilling or keeping the Law — not ceasing to keep it. This conclusion is clear when we understand what sin is — and that we have to repent of sin to obtain eternal life.
Please note these excerpts from pages 14-15 of our free booklet, “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation?” :
“What, exactly, is it that we need to repent of…? Simply put, we must repent of the sins we have committed. What is sin? The biblical definition is: ‘…sin is the transgression of the law’ (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). Which law? The law of God’s Ten Commandments. James calls it the ‘royal law according to the Scripture’ (James 2:8). It defines our love toward God and our love toward neighbor. When we break even one of the Ten Commandments, we are guilty of having broken them all and have become a transgressor of the law (James 2:10-11). The law of the Ten Commandments is a spiritual law, as Paul explains in Romans 7:14, because it regulates not only our actions, but also the motives and intents of our heart. We sin when we commit adultery (Exodus 20:14), but we also sin when we DESIRE or COVET the wife of another man (Exodus 20:17), or when we look at another woman with the desire to commit adultery with her (Matthew 5:28). Additionally, we sin when we kill someone (Exodus 20:13), but we have already sinned by violating God’s spiritual law of the Ten Commandments when we even HATE another human being (Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15).”
Christ did not come to do away with God’s Law. Otherwise, there would be no more sin, and we would not need to repent of anything. But Christ said that we have to REPENT and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15). The resurrected Christ commanded His disciples that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name” (Luke 24:47). And Peter proclaimed that same message, as is recorded in Acts 2:38. Christ had come to FULFILL the Law, that is, He kept it PERFECTLY, giving us an example that we “should follow His steps” (compare 1 Peter 2:21). He did not keep the Law FOR us, so that we don’t have to keep it anymore. Rather, He told a young rich ruler: “If you want to enter into life, KEEP the commandments” (compare Matthew 19:17).
Note this quote from our free booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God,” on pages 24:
“Christ warned those of His time, as well as us today, that not everyone who would just say ‘Lord, Lord’ to Christ, would enter the Kingdom of God, but only the person ‘who does the will of My Father in heaven.’ (Matthew 7:21) This same thought is expressed in Luke 16:16: Everyone wants to desperately enter the Kingdom of God. But what does Christ tell us in verse 17: ‘And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.’ In other words, if you want to enter into eternal life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS. Only those who do the will of the Father, which is, to keep the commandments of God, will enter the Kingdom of God. And now Christ continues to give us an example of such a commandment to be kept, in verse 18: ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery’ is one of the commandments that we are to keep. And divorcing someone for any other than Biblical reasons and then marrying again, is a violation of the law against adultery. In order to enter the Kingdom of God, in order to be part of the Kingdom of God, we must KEEP God’s Law. It is the SAME Law, as we are told in Luke 16:16, that had already been preached up until the time of John the Baptist. It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the Law to fail.”
The teaching of the Bible is consistent. In order to inherit eternal life, we must keep God’s Law — the Ten Commandments, as well as the statutes and judgments, defining and explaining the Ten Commandments even further. Christ did not come to “fulfill” the Law by doing away with it or by destroying it. Rather, Christ came to “fulfill” the Law by making it more honorable (Isaiah 42:21 ), by MAGNIFYING it, by showing us HOW to obey it both in the letter AND in the SPIRIT. This includes ALL of God’s commandments — including the keeping of the Fourth Commandment, which enjoins us to keep God’s Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8). For more information on that important subject, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”
Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock
Public Bible Lecture
On Sunday, May 22, 2005, Norbert Link will present a message, titled, “Europe Is Uniting–What Does This Mean to You?” This address will be free and open to the public, and it will be conducted at the Embassy Suites in Arcadia, California (211 East Huntington Drive). We will be placing ads in local newspapers leading up to this event. The meeting time is 6:30 P.M. You may request further information at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A new StandingWatch program is intended to be recorded tomorrow.
A new member letter has been written. It is being finalized and will be sent out early next week.
How This Work is Financed
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, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, 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 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom