|Editorial||Symbols of Christianity|
|Q&A||Would you please explain Colossians 1:24?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
|Forums||You Got Served|
On Saturday, July 30, 2005, Edwin Pope will give the sermon, addressing the topic of commitment.
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.
Symbols of Christianity
Many hope to be identified as Christians by the implement of torture they wear around their neck, the fish on the back of their car or by a big building with icons and a steeple.
This may sound a bit silly, but these are the symbols that have been appropriated by those who want others to know they are followers of Christ. What is further disconcerting is the fact that these items come out of paganism or have less than Christian roots.
That being said, there are symbols that designate us as Christians. These are not signs that are easily read and may not be as obvious as the tangible ones, because they are inward. They are a broken heart and a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18). These are the symbols of Christianity that God recognizes. If we are truly Christians, then we will have the Word of God written in our hearts and minds, thereby transforming our inner selves. The end result will be an outward manifestation of Godly fruit and a shining example, not a man-made object.
To truly be identified as a Christian, we must work from the inside out.
This Week in the News
On July 18, 2005, Zenit published an interesting speech by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Primate of Ireland, about the Western Civilization and Ireland in particular, as well as the true God and the true meaning of faith. We quote a few excerpts from the speech, as follows:
“A few weeks ago I was surprised by a remark on a German television talk show by Gregor Gysi, the leader of the German Communist Party, who when asked about his worries about German society said: “‘Ich fuerchte eine gottlose Gesellschaft’ — ‘I fear a Godless society.’ It was an unusual comment from the leader of a communist party, with its roots in the former East Germany. As the television debate continued, this declared atheist noted that German society needs the moral framework that only those Christian roots embedded in his society can give. He noted that even the highly moralistic code of the communist ideology in the German Democratic Republic was effectively rooted in Christian principles. These comments struck me in particular since the speaker was never a Christian. He is personally of Jewish background and the territory of the German Democratic Republic was that part of Germany where religious practice was always and still is exceptionally low…”
Addressing the situation in Ireland, as well as the Christian God and true and false faith, Martin continued to point out the following accurate principles:
“Of course one should really begin with the question, is Ireland Christian today?…But let me come back to the question of what people mean when they answer a survey saying they believe in God.
“Belief is a complex matter. Because of its nature it is difficult to quantify. People will answer questions about belief in different ways. Belief is not identical with Church affiliation. There are non-practicing Catholics who are genuine believers and there are also many who practice but who may not really believe… Religious faith is faith in God, but not in some generic God of our own creation. For the Christian, God is not an anonymous element or power within or above the universe… Christians believe in a God who has spoken, who has revealed himself, who has entered into dialogue with humankind, a dialogue of love… That relationship was described by Pope Benedict XVI in his inaugural address in St. Peter’s Square now some months ago: ‘We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary’… We have never fully abandoned ourselves to the God who can make us free, but still cling on to the things we falsely feel can bring us security. Faith is always a leap in the dark, but in the confidence that Jesus has not left us orphans. We will never be able to lead others into the depths of faith and the joy of our hope if we remain entrapped in the limitedness of our current world vision.”
Terror in Egypt
On July 22, 2005, The Associated Press published an article about another terror attack in a tourist resort in Egypt. This attack followed similar ones in Turkey and London. The indiscriminate mass murder by fanatic terrorists is clearly a sign of Satan’s involvement and possible possession of those criminals, proving that Satan’s wrath is great, as he knows that his time is getting shorter. AP pointed out:
“Three car bombs exploded in quick succession in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik early Saturday, ripping through a hotel and a cafe packed with European and Egyptian tourists. Security officials said at least 45 people died [later reports confirmed the death of at least 88 people] in the deadliest attack in Egypt in nearly a decade… The dead included British, Russian, Dutch, Kuwaitis, Saudis, Qataris and Egyptians, a security official said… The attacks came nine months after a series of explosions hit several hotels in the Sinai resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, about 100 miles northwest on the Israel border. Egyptian authorities said that attack, which killed 34 and prompted a wave of arrests in Sinai, was linked to Israeli-Palestinian violence.
“Saturday’s bombings were the deadliest since 1997, when Islamic militants killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians at the Pharaonic Temple of Hatshepsut outside Luxor in southern Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak has a residence in Sharm el-Sheik, at a resort several miles outside Naama Bay and often spends weeks there at a time in the winter. But during the summer, he stays at a residence in the northern city of Alexandria… Thousands of tourists are drawn to Sharm for its sun, clear blue water and coral reefs. It also has been a meeting place where world leaders have tried to hammer out a Mideast peace agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas met there in February and agreed to a cease-fire.”
More Terror in Britain?
On July 22, 2005, Reuters reported that more terrorist attacks might soon occur in Great Britain. The article pointed out:
“Militant Islamists will continue to attack Britain until the government pulls its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the country’s most outspoken Islamic clerics said on Friday. Speaking 15 days after bombers killed over 50 people in London and a day after a series of failed attacks on the city’s transport network, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed said the British capital should expect more violence.”
In an appalling and, at the same time, revealing interview, Omar Bakri Mohammed stated the following:
“Bakri, a Syrian-born cleric who has been vilified in Britain since 2001 when he praised the September 11 hijackers, said he did not believe the bombings and attempted attacks on London were carried out by British Muslims. He condemned the killing of all innocent civilians but described attacks on British and U.S. troops in Muslim countries as ‘pro-life’ and justified. In an interview with Reuters, Bakri described Osama bin Laden, leader of the radical Islamist network al Qaeda, as ‘a sincere man who fights against evil forces.’ Bakri said he would like Britain to become an Islamic state but feared he would be deported before his dream was realized. ‘I would like to see the Islamic flag fly, not only over number 10 Downing Street, but over the whole world,’ he said.”
London Police Kills Innocent Bystander
The Associated Press reported on July 24, 2005:
“London’s police commissioner expressed regret Sunday for the slaying of a Brazilian electrician by officers who mistook him for a suspect in the recent terror bombings, but he defended a police shoot-to-kill policy as ‘the only way’ to stop would-be suicide bombers… Witnesses said [the victim] was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him five times in the head and torso in front of horrified passengers. Blair initially said Menezes was ‘directly linked’ to the investigation of Thursday’s attacks, but police then said Saturday he had no connection to the bomb attempts. ‘This is a tragedy,’ Blair said Sunday of the shooting. ‘The Metropolitan Police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets.'”
Even though it is now clear that the police killed an innocent person, Tony Blair still defended the police’s action, as well as similar actions in the future! The article continued to state:
“He also defended the shoot-to-kill policy, saying such action only applied when lives were believed to be at risk. ‘I am very aware that minority communities are talking about a shoot-to-kill policy,’ he said. ‘It’s only a shoot-to-kill-in-order-to-protect policy.’… Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, who was visiting London, said his government and people were ‘shocked’ by the killing, and he demanded a thorough investigation… Amorim told Straw that Brazil was in total solidarity with Britain in the fight against terrorism, ‘but of course even in the fight against terrorism we should also be cautious to avoid the loss of innocent life.'”
In a related article, AFP reported on July 25, 2005:
“Witnesses said a frightened Menezes was shot several times at close range by plainclothes officers who had chased him through Stockwell Underground station in south London on Friday after a surveillance operation. Police at the time said they opened fire because their suspect had refused to obey instructions. Blair confirmed Sunday that they were under orders to shoot suicide bombers in the head and that policy would remain. [A relative of the killed victim] said his cousin did ‘not have a past that would make him run’ from police and was simply on his way to work from his home in Tulse Hill, south London. Another cousin… said Jean Charles spoke English very well and would have understood police instructions… Menezes, who came from the city of Gonzaga in Brazil’s southeastern state of Minais Gerais, had been living legally in Britain for three years, according to his family.”
Tough questions need to be asked and answered:
How is it possible that such policies of obvious wrong police conduct, leading to the death of innocent bystanders, can be supported and maintained by the British government? Surely, the fight against supposed terrorists cannot justify the killing of innocent people, or can it? Perhaps man is willing to justify such wrong conduct, but surely God DOES NOT! NO WONDER that God is angry with Great Britain–which is none other than the modern descendant of the ancient tribe of Ephraim, the son of Joseph. Our upcoming booklet on the identity, history and future of Great Britain and the USA will discuss these facts in much detail.
Extreme Weather Conditions in Europe
On July 23, 2005, the EUobserver reported about unusual weather conditions in large parts of Europe, as follows:
“Western and Southern Europe are currently facing severe drought, with the situation being the gravest in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece. Spain and Portugal are suffering their worst droughts since the launch of record-keeping in the 1940s… Brush fires have already destroyed more than three times the average annual loss for Portugal in the first half of this year… Due to the drought in western Europe, cereal production in the EU in 2005 will be at least 28 million tonnes below last year’s, which is a drop of about 10 percent… Meanwhile, Bulgaria and Romania are being swept by floods, which have already killed 20 people and inundated tens of thousands of homes in both countries over the last two weeks. More than 12,000 were forced to evacuate their homes in Romania, where at least 15 people have died in the floods. In Bulgaria, five people have been killed and at least 50,000 homes and buildings were destroyed across the country…”
Germany’s New “Left Party”
On July 21, 2005, CNN.com published an analysis about the most recent developments in Germany. The article focused on “the new ‘Left Party,’ which just days after its launch, looks set to become Germany’s third largest party, beating both Joschka Fischer’s Green Party and the Liberal party (FDP).” The article pointed out:
“The new ‘Left Party’ is a coalition of disillusioned former Social Democrats and the post-communist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). Since Sunday’s launch, it boasts a support base of 11 percent, which puts it safely in third place behind Angela Merkel’s CDU (44 percent) and Schroeder’s governing SPD party (27 percent). However, what makes the ‘Left Party’ a real force to be reckoned with are its two leaders — the left-wing icon and former finance minister Oskar Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi, the charismatic head of the PDS.”
Lafontaine had to resign from office in the SPD, after a highly-publicized fight with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Until this day, Lafontaine and Schroeder are bitter enemies.
“… a recent opinion poll found that 30 percent of East Germans are planning to vote for the new ‘Left Party’ compared to only 29 percent for the CDU…
“Foreign minister and Green Party leader Joschka Fischer warned that Lafontaine’s populist approach and language were more reminiscent of the right-wing Joerg Haider in Austria and the late Pim Fortuyn in Holland, than of Karl Marx. Fischer was referring to a statement by Lafontaine, in which he said that foreign workers were taking German jobs.
“Similarly in the East German state of Brandenburg, Karl Ness, head of the local SPD party called Lafontaine ‘a preacher of hatred,’ and said that the new left party was nothing but an extension of Lafontaine’s ego… While Germany prepares for elections, the impact of Lafontaine and Gysi and their new ‘Left Party’ is likely to have more impact on Germany’s political direction than either of the two main parties would like to admit.”
Is “Weimar” raising its ugly head again? At the time prior to World War II, many different political movements, including the consistent fights between extremist parties such as the Communists and National-Socialists (Nazis), gave ultimately way to the election of Adolph Hitler. Is Germany able to cope today with Communists or neo-National-Socialists? Has modern Germany–both former West and East Germany–learned from its past? Sadly, the answer is no, as the not-too-distant future will show.
Animals Behave Amazingly
AFP recently published this amazing story about animal behavior, which causes evolutionists and scientists to wonder, grasping for answers in light of their misguided and God-defying faith in blind evolution:
“A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said. The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.
“‘It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a “mother”,’ ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP. ‘After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together,’ the ecologist added. ‘The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother,’ Kahumbu added. ‘The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years,’ he explained.”
Would you please explain Colossians 1:24?
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, who, when he was known as Saul, had been persecuting the true saints, was converted on the Road to Damascus. Christ commanded Ananias to baptize him, so that he could receive the Holy Spirit, telling Ananias: “I will show him [Paul] how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16).
Paul, throughout his converted life, understood the fact that he had to go through much suffering and through many trials. At one time, God refused to heal him of a sickness, and Paul responded: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Paul understood that he received the strength to continue in trials, through Jesus Christ Who lived in him through the Holy Spirit. He said in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”
With this background, let us consider Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:24, where he said:
“I now rejoice in my sufferings FOR YOU, and FILL UP in my flesh what is LACKING in the AFFLICTIONS of Christ, for the SAKE OF HIS BODY, which is the CHURCH.”
Paul did not mean to convey that Christ had not suffered enough, while here on earth. Rather, he was pointing out that he, as well as all of Christ’s disciples, had to become PARTAKERS of Christ’s sufferings (compare 1 Peter 4:13; 2 Corinthians 1:7). We have to know or experience the FELLOWSHIP of His suffering (Philippians 3:10), in order to attain to the resurrection (verse 11). Only if we suffer with Him, will we be glorified (Romans 8:17). God GRANTS US as a special favor the GIFT of sufferings for Christ’s sake (Philippians 1:29; compare, too, Acts 5:41, where Christ’s apostles rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.)
The Nelson Study Bible states:
“Paul is not saying that Christ’s death was insufficient… [but] that a Christian will endure the sufferings that Christ would be enduring if He were still in the world [and which He DID endure when He WAS in the world]… Paul believed he was suffering the afflictions God wanted him to endure. Instead of facing his difficulties with dread, Paul saw his troubles as a time of joy… because they were producing an eternal reward…”
Christ was made perfect FOREVER (Hebrews 7:28) “through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10). Likewise, we must be growing in perfection through suffering. As Christ suffered, so must we. This is why Paul says that he must fill up in his flesh what is still lacking in his life in Christ’s afflictions, so that he can become more and more perfect.
We read in 1 Peter 5:9 that our brethren “experience” the same sufferings that we experience. In the Greek, the word for “experience” is “completed” or “ended.” As Christ became PERFECT or COMPLETE because of sufferings, so must we.
Suffering as a Christian or follower of Christ (1 Peter 4:16) motivates us to stop sinning; thereby growing in perfection. We read in 1 Peter 4:1-2:
“Therefore, since Christ suffered FOR US in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for HE WHO HAS SUFFERED IN THE FLESH HAS CEASED FROM SIN [Christ never sinned; so this is talking about us], that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
Notice that Peter said that Christ suffered FOR US. Notice, too, that Paul said in Colossians 1:24 that he had to experience Christ’s afflictions FOR THE CHURCH. The Ryrie Study Bible states: “Because of the union of believers with Christ, Paul’s sufferings for the sake of the church can be called Christ’s sufferings as well.”
Although true, this explanation is not sufficient. Rather, Paul makes clear, what he means by his statement that he had to suffer for the church, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 6:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, THAT WE MAY BE ABLE TO COMFORT THOSE WHO ARE IN ANY TROUBLE, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God… Now if we are afflicted, it is FOR YOUR CONSOLATION AND SALVATION, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for YOUR CONSOLATION AND SALVATION.”
Our suffering is, in the final analysis, for the purpose of helping others. Christ suffered FOR US. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “And if one member suffers, ALL the members suffer WITH it.” Suffering makes us more sympathetic–fills us with empathy. We suffer to learn what it is like, so that we can FEEL the pain of those who are suffering. When we suffer, we receive comfort from God in many different ways, so that we can also comfort those who suffer, with the same comfort which we ourselves received from God. We learn more and more how God pities His children (compare Psalm 103:13), so that we can also pity our brethren. Christ became our MERCIFUL High Priest Who CAN sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).
Christ suffered for us, because He loved us. Love is outgoing concern for the welfare of others. We suffer, so that we can comfort others, when they suffer. Again, the driving force and motivation for our Christian life is love. Even our resurrection and membership in the God Family as born-again spirit beings are for the purpose of helping others to reach their potential of inheriting eternal life (For more information on this vital aspect of God’s plan for mankind, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)
John sums up God’s plan and purpose for us, including the reason WHY we must become partakers of Christ’s sufferings, in 1 John 3:16:
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program, titled, “Right or Wrong?”, was placed on the Web.
The text for our new booklet on the Ezekiel warning, titled, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” has been sent to our Graphic Designer, Mrs. Shelly Bruno, for finalization of the booklet.
You Got Served
You Got Served
by Laura Harris (35)
Volunteering offers great opportunities to learn new skills, meet new people and help others in need. We don’t need to build a home with Habitat for Humanity or join the Peace Corp to make a difference. But where should we donate our time? We can start with the church by doing good, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Some people may think that we need a title or position in order to help with church activities, but this is not true… anyone can serve! If we want to be more involved with the church, the first step is to ask how we can be of assistance. Although the ministry will know how best to utilize our talents, here are a few suggested activities we may want to get involved in, if appropriate:
–Lead music during weekly services, if you are a man
–Assist with the sound system and audio equipment.
–Provide flowers for services.
–Help set-up and clean-up during services.
–Contribute to potlucks.
–Photograph special events for the church website.
–Teach Bible lessons to younger members in the church, under the instruction from the ministry.
–Contribute money to help another family during the holy days.
–Perform special music.
–Assist with the coordination of special church events, such as the annual dance during the Feast of Tabernacles.
–Keep in contact with brethren, particularly those who are not well.
No matter what volunteer activity we choose — the important point to remember is to be a good example and serve with a positive attitude.
So, what are you waiting for?
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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