|Live Services||We Must Conquer Pride and Vanity|
|Editorial||Go Ahead, and Ask!|
|Q&A||What did John the Baptist mean by the phrase, "baptism with fire," as mentioned in Matthew 3:11?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
We Must Conquer Pride and Vanity
On Saturday, July 9, 2005, Edwin Pope will be giving the sermon, titled, “We Must Conquer Pride and Vanity.”
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.
Go Ahead, and Ask!
by Dave Harris
What do you pray about–little or much?
In the Bible, we find examples of all kinds of requests made to God. People prayed for themselves, for their loved ones, for their nation and, yes, even for their enemies.
Jesus Christ taught His disciples: “‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you'” (John 16:23). We can understand from this that what we ask for should be in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ, because we are asking in His name!
If we aren’t careful, though, we may limit ourselves–we simply may not go far enough in our prayers. There is a type of an example of this. The prophet Elisha, who was on his deathbed, told Joash to do something that would have meant the removal of the enemy nation of Syria: “Then he said, ‘Take the arrows’; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, ‘Strike the ground’; so he struck three times, and stopped” (2 Kings 13:18).
However, the king failed to zealously continue to do what he should have done: “And the man of God was angry with him, and said, ‘You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times'” (verse 19).
Do we stop short in our prayers? We have this instruction from Jesus: “‘So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you'” (Luke 11:9).
James addresses the problem in this way: “…you do not have because you do not ask” (4:2). James adds this: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (4:3).
So, what should we pray about? On the one hand, we are taught to be bold and filled with faith when we appear before God in prayer, while, on the other hand, we are cautioned to ask according to God’s will!
The answer is to look to the examples in God’s Word. We see requests made and answers given: the dead were restored to life and the sick healed; individuals and nations were delivered in times of great trials; and those who turned to God in repentance through prayer and obedience received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit–becoming the begotten children of God and destined to receive eternal life!
Jesus prayed fervently and often about events in His own life as well as for those of us who now follow Him (Read His prayer in John 17–specifically verse 20). He asked, and He asked for a lot–and God answered Him! He is our example, so, go ahead, and ASK!
This Week in the News
Internet Under U.S. Control
The following article, which was written by Kieren McCarthy, was published on July 1, 2005, on the Internet, titled, “Bush administration annexes internet.” The article pointed out:
“An extraordinary statement by the US government has sent shockwaves around the internet world and thrown the future of the network into doubt. In a worrying U-turn, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) has made it clear it intends to retain control of the internet’s root servers indefinitely. It was due to relinquish that control in September 2006, when its contract with overseeing body ICANN ended. The decision – something that people have long feared may happen – will not only make large parts of the world furious but also puts ICANN in a very difficult position. The organisation has slowly been expanding out of its California base in an effort to become an international body with overall responsibility for the internet.”
The article continued:
“Clearly the internet has entered the Bush administration’s vision and the resulting DoC statement – which boldly tells the rest of the world that the US will continue to run the Internet and everyone will just have to lump it – is very in keeping with how the US government is currently run. The big question now is whether the rest of the world will be cowed… The vision of a US-controlled internet infrastructure will be anathema to large parts of the world however and it is a demonstration of the US administration’s failure to think globally that it doesn’t recognise that there is surprisingly little preventing other parts of the world from creating a second Internet outside of US control. An already fractious situation has just got more difficult.”
U.S. Supreme Court’s Confusing Decisions!
The American Bar Association (ABA) Journal and Report stated in its article, “TWO TABLETS DON’T SOLVE LAWYERS’ HEADACHES,” dated July 1, 2005:
“Displaying the Ten Commandments on government property might violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause. Or it might not. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s two rulings on the topic this week–which produced 10 separate opinions between them–lawyers on both sides of the divisive issue agree on one thing: They are as confused as ever. And the battles over display of the symbols around the country are likely to continue, lawyers say, with attorneys for each side choosing one of the two cases to back them up… The decisions… have lawyers scratching their heads… Some suspect that the rulings will create new circuit splits regarding the establishment clause… And there’s likely to be confusion involving daily activities, says Julie Underwood, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. In an amicus brief submitted in the McCreary case, the group asked the court to clarify establishment clause jurisdiction. ‘In the last 30 years, 100 opinions have been written on religion in public schools, and it’s very confusing,’ [Underwood] adds. ‘There are multiple tests, and nobody really knows which is the prevailing test, or how to apply it.'”
The Waste of U.S. Taxpayers’ Money
On July 4, 2005, the national and international press reported, mostly approvingly, about an incredible example of how the money of U.S. taxpayers is being wasted. We are referring to the hit of a comet by a NASA probe, on America’s Independence Day, July 4, 2005.
The Associated Press reported: “NASA scientists used a space probe to chase down a speeding comet 83 million miles away and slammed it into the frozen ball of dirty ice and debris.”
How much did this “spectacle” cost the U.S. tax payers?
AFP clarified that the project cost 333 million dollars (!), or 275 million Euro. And WHY was this money spent? What was hoped to be accomplished with this collision? Was the goal to see how comets or meteorites, which might be on a collision course with earth, could be destroyed, or their course altered, preventing a deep impact with earth?
FAR FROM IT.
Here is the incredible reason for this WASTE of money, as explained by The Associated Press:
“[It was] a mission to learn how the solar system was formed… The reason scientists are so excited is that comets circling the Sun, which are numbered in billions, are seen as leftovers from a massive cloud of gas and dust that condensed to form the Sun and planets about 4.6 billion years ago.Their geological and chemical structures could thus contain important clues to the nature of the Universe and how it was formed, including Earth.”
If man, including “educated” scientists, would only read and believe the Bible, all these endeavors would be avoided. We ARE told, in Genesis 1:1 and in many other Scriptures, how the earth and the universe were formed, and by WHOM! Only, most of the scientific world has REJECTED Godly revelation, and has chosen instead to validate the ungodly theory of evolution, by producing “proof,” through experimentation, exploration and “observation,” how the universe and the earth came into existence by mere time and chance — irrespective of a godly power. And while millions of dollars are being WASTED in this idle pursuit, millions of people DIE here on earth because of famine, malnutrition, lack of medication, etc. This is indeed a terrible indictment against man’s INCAPABILITY to rule on this planet. THANKS BE TO GOD that He will send His Son Jesus Christ back to this earth to TAKE OVER rulership and to bring peace and justice to this planet. LET US PRAY that that day will arrive soon!
France vs. Britain
As Reuters reported on July 5, 2005, “French President Jacques Chirac cracked jokes to Russian and German leaders about bad British food and mad cow disease, a Paris daily said on Monday, in comments that could further strain Anglo-French relations… Relations between France and Britain were already at a low point, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chirac blaming each other for the failure of June talks on the European Union’s long-term budget talks. Blair, who took over the EU presidency last week, has particularly irked Paris with his drive to cut EU farm subsidies that mainly benefit France… The race between Paris and London to host the 2012 Olympic Games is further testing relations. Blair wrote in the Paris-based International Herald Tribune newspaper on Monday that London was the ‘perfect venue’ for the games. In Singapore, where the choice of venue will be announced on Wednesday, Anglo-French tensions threatened to boil over on Monday after a delegate linked to London’s bid said the Stade de France was not ideal for athletics.”
On July 6, 2005, the Associated Press reported about this telling announcement from Singapore:
“Britain vs. France. Blair vs. Chirac. Two historic rival cities convinced they were long overdue. London prevailed–upsetting Paris to secure the 2012 Olympics… Paris had been the front-runner throughout the campaign, but London picked up momentum in the late stages with strong support from Prime Minister Tony Blair… Blair… spent two days lobbying in Singapore this week… But not even a personal appearance in Singapore by French President Jacques Chirac could secure victory… The [British tabloid] Sun said Chirac also could have damaged his country’s Olympic bid by criticizing food from Finland in [addition to criticizing food from England].”
The Euro has reached its lowest level in eleven months, with a value of 1.19 US dollars. Six months ago, the exchange rate was 1.37 US dollars. Reasons for the decline of the Euro are the strong U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen, the rise of interest by the US national bank, as well as the present uncertainty of the EU unification. Bild Online reminded the readership, however, that the Euro was MUCH lower in October of 2000: At that time, 1 US dollar had the value of only 0.83 Euros.
Bird Flu at Critical Stage
The Scotsman reported on July 5, 2005, that “Asia’s bird flu outbreak is at a critical stage where it could easily become a human pandemic, health experts warned yesterday, urging mass poultry vaccinations to prevent a crisis… Cases of human infection have been reported in Vietnam, with others likely in Cambodia and Indonesia, while fears are growing that infected migratory birds in China could spread the virus to India and Pakistan… The flu, which has killed 54 people in Asia, currently appears to spread to people only when they come into close contact with sick poultry. But medical experts fear that the H5N1 bird flu strain could mutate into a form that easily passes between people and trigger a global pandemic because people have developed no resistance to the strain.”
Israel Seeks Germany’s Help
As Der Spiegel reported on June 29, 2005, “Israeli politicians ask Germany for assistance” in their struggle with Iran. The magazine reported that Israel views Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, as “one of [Israel’s] VERY FEW friends in Europe.” The magazine also warned that if Europe or other powers should be unsuccessful to persuade Iran from discontinuing their nuclear programs, Israel might very well decide to “do it alone.” The readership was reminded that Israel attacked a nuclear power plant in Iraq in 1981, to prevent the building of nuclear weapons. At that time, the Begin-doctrine was created, permitting Israel to strike first in a “preemptive war.”
What To Do About China?
In a special report of U.S. News and World Report, which was published on or about June 20, 2005, the magazine wrote:
“China is teaching the West something new. Its economy, growing at 9 percent per year, will most likely become the second largest in the world by 2020, behind only the United States… The rise of China could… make Washington ‘increasingly irrelevant’… China now exports to the United States some $160 billion more than it takes in… A U.S. -China cold war would be costly, dangerous, and distracting, robbing attention and resources from pressing internal and global challenges.”
The article continued to warn that the USA might get involved or drawn into a military conflict, related to North Korea and Taiwan. The article stated:
“The United States should… do more to change China’s stance: by offering North Korea some attractive incentives to give up its nuclear materials and weapons… China needs to be reminded not to use force to unify the country [of Taiwan]. Neither China nor Taiwan should count on Washington standing aside if they change the status quo.”
What IF Washington were to get involved in a military conflict in that region of the world? The consequences would appear to be disastrous.
Germany In Turmoil
As Deutsche Welle reported on July 1, 2005, “When the German parliament defeated the confidence vote brought by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Friday, it set in motion a procedure designed to end in a general election in the fall.” Schroeder WANTED the parliament to defeat the confidence vote, as he refuses to resign. As the article explained:
“Schroeder had wanted the vote to be defeated in order to trigger new elections 12 months ahead of schedule and had instructed members of his Social Democratic Party (SPD) to abstain in the vote in the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament.”
His hope is that German “President Horst Koehler… [will] officially recognize the lack of a majority and dissolve the Bundestag” by July 22.
BUT, it is not altogether clear whether President Koehler CAN, legally, dissolve the German Bundestag. The article explained:
“Koehler has not yet revealed what his intentions are, saying only that he would study the situation after the vote… However the decision is far from certain. Some of the smaller political parties and a handful of coalition deputies have vowed to mount a federal court challenge against bringing the poll forward.”
It is interesting to realize, in this context, that Koehler refused to sign the ratification of the EU Constitution by the German Parliament, as a case is pending before the German Federal Court, challenging the legal procedure. He declared that he will await the outcome of that decision.
Deutsche Welle continued: “If the Bundestag is dissolved, Koehler must call an election to take place within 60 days. However the election can only take place on a holiday or a Sunday. The election cannot take place during the school summer holidays, which vary according to the regional states — in Bavaria for example they do not end until September 12. Most observers agree that the date of September 18 is the most likely for an election.”
All of the German major parties WANT new elections. But many law professors and legal experts feel that Koehler would violate the German Constitution if he were to dissolve the Bundestag. Their most convincing argument is that Koehler could only do so, IF the government was unable to function. However, this is doubtful as the government just enacted several laws prior to the defeat of the vote of confidence. If Schroeder is perceived as having used the Bundestag by means of a coup, a sham or a farce, Koehler could not legally dissolve it, according to many legal commentators.
Der Spiegel published an article, dated June 29, titled, “Why Koehler MUST Say No.” The international press mainly condemned Schroeder’s maneuver. However, the Russian press praised him as an honest man of principle.
IF Germany will have new elections in September, it appears that the leader of the CDU, Angela Merkel, will become the new chancellor, if CDU and its potential coalition party, FDP, get the absolute majority. However, even this is not certain. At this point, CDU and FDP are engaged in a war of words about whether or not to increase certain taxes. And according to some recent polls, although CDU and FDP would get 51% of the votes, if there were elections today, Schroeder is much more popular than Merkel. Further, Germany’s Foreign Minister and Schroeder’s coalition partner, Joschka Fischer, is still the most popular politician in Germany. And then there is Edmund Stoiber, Minister President of the Bavarian CSU and coalition partner of the CDU, who has been known for saying wrong things at wrong times.
The events in Germany on the political front are exciting. We will keep our readers updated about the developments.
London Under Attack
As The Associated Press reported on July 7, 2005, “Four blasts rocked the London subway and tore open a packed double-decker bus during the morning rush hour Thursday, sending bloodied victims fleeing in the worst attack on London since World War II. Three U.S. law enforcement officials said at least 40 people were killed and London hospitals reported more than 350 wounded in the terror attacks. Prime Minister Tony Blair called the attacks ‘barbaric’ and said they were clearly designed to coincide with the G-8 summit opening in Gleneagles, Scotland. [The blasts completely overshadowed Thursday’s main topic at the summit — efforts to tackle global warming. Especially Great Britain and the United States differ sharply on the issue of how to deal with the global warming problem.] They also came a day after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics.”
The article continued:
“Bush warned Americans to be ‘extra vigilant’ as they head to work after the deadly explosions in London… Much of Europe also went on alert. Italy’s airports raised alert levels to a maximum. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, the Netherlands, France and Spain also were among those announcing beefed-up security at shopping centers, airports, railways and subways… A group calling itself ‘The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe’ posted a claim of responsibility, saying the blasts were in retaliation for Britain’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The statement also threatened attacks in Italy and Denmark…
“European stocks dropped sharply after the blasts, with exchanges in London, Paris and Germany all down about 2 percent. Insurance and travel-related stocks were hit hard, and the British pound also fell. Gold, traditionally seen as a safe haven, rose. The explosions also unnerved traders on Wall Street, sending stocks down sharply in morning trading.”
What did John the Baptist mean by the phrase, "baptism with fire," as mentioned in Matthew 3:11?
Notice what exactly John said in Matthew 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me … will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
As a part of his ministry, John was baptizing “with water unto repentance” (verse 11). He required that we must “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (verse 8). In comparison, Christ would be coming to also baptize, not just unto repentance, but also, with the Holy Spirit and with fire!
We, of course, are all very familiar with the first part of that statement John had made, in reference to the baptism Christ would bring. One receives the Holy Spirit after repentance, the belief in Christ’s sacrifice, and being baptized with water. In the process of baptism, prior to being submerged under water, one pronounces his or her repentance of past sins, and one’s belief in Christ’s sacrifice and one’s acceptance of Christ as his or her personal Savior. Following the actual submersion under water and being brought out of that grave of water, which event pictures the washing away of all our past sins, the ministers of God lay hands upon the person being baptized and he or she receives God’s Holy Spirit.
But what was John saying when he stated that Christ would also be baptizing with fire?
The fire John was speaking of is perhaps noted in verse 12 of Matthew, chapter 3, when John speaks of an “unquenchable fire.” With this fire, John says that Christ will “burn up the chaff.” What is this “unquenchable fire” and is it something to be desired?
Malachi 4:1-3 also describes this fire and its result. Malachi speaks of this event in verse 1: ‘For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch.'” In verse 3, Malachi continues to quote the Lord, where He is quoted as saying “‘You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this…'” Christ is speaking of the same event in Revelation 20:14-15, which describes the second death of all who do not enter the Kingdom of God!
There is, however, a second possibility which John might have intended, when speaking of the “baptism with fire.”
Some ministers in the Church have referred to this Scripture from time to time in describing the TRIALS true Christians suffer through, during this lifetime, as they seek to live according to the Way to which they have been called.
Christ makes an interesting statement in Mark 9:49. In the previous verses of this chapter Christ was speaking of how one must live to be able to enter the Kingdom of God, rather than suffering the pain of hell fire, ”(verse 48)… ‘where… the fire is not quenched.’ (verse 49) ‘For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.'”
The fire Christ speaks of in this verse is the fire of all the trials one goes through as he or she continually seeks to live God’s Way of life. Of course, our lives are to become living sacrifices in this Way of our calling. If one does not eventually become seasoned with God’s Way of life, he or she will be seasoned with the fire of Gehenna.
Salt, of course, has a preserving quality about it. We are to develop this preserving quality within our lives, whereby we will be an influence for peace and for good while living in this world.
Paul says to the Church in Romans 12:1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Christ Himself had to go through serious “fiery” trials — including His suffering and death on the cross. Christ said that He came to bring fire or division on the earth (Luke 12:49, 51-53). He continued that He Himself had to be baptized with a baptism, and that He was distressed until it was accomplished (compare Luke 12:50; Mark 10:38). He referred to His fiery trial as a “baptism,” which His disciples had to also experience (Mark 10: 39).
Some outside the Church claim that the “baptism with fire” must accompany the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit is not given, unless supernatural events accompany the baptism. They refer, as proof, to the events described in Acts 2, when “divided tongues, as of fire, sat upon” the disciples (verse 3). However, Acts 2 describes a very unique circumstance, which was never repeated in the recorded history of the Church (with the possible, but not very likely exception of the baptism of Cornelius and other Gentiles, as recorded in Acts 10; compare Acts 11:15). NONE of the other recorded baptisms with the Holy Spirit were accompanied by supernatural flames of fire being placed on the disciples’ heads. John the Baptist was certainly NOT talking about these unique events, as described in Acts 2 (and possibly in Acts 10), when speaking of the “baptism with fire.”
In conclusion, the baptism with fire, mentioned by John, might very well refer to the second and final death in Gehenna fire. It might also include fiery trials which we must go through in this life, to AVOID that second and final death.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
We have entered the final review cycle for our new booklet on the Ezekiel warning message.
A new StandingWatch program has been recorded on Thursday and will be posted on the Web soon. It’s title is: “Why the Terror in London?”
The German translation of our booklet, “The Keys To Happy Marriages and Families,” has been finalized and can be found on the Web.
Norbert and Johanna Link, as well as Norbert’s mother and Michael, are planning to be in Colorado for the Sabbath of July 16. Mr. Link is scheduled to give the sermon that day. If anyone would like to attend services in Colorado and needs further information as to the time and place, please contact us.
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:
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United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom