Update 211


True Christian Virtue

On September 17, 2005, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “True Christian Virtue.”

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.

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Being Properly Advised

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Many of us may have favorite Scriptures for a variety of reasons. One of mine is Ecclesiastes 8:11: “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. soldiers in a raid on December 13, 2003, after he had spent nine months on the run. The once-defiant Iraqi leader was apprehended, without a shot being fired, near a compound of ramshackle buildings outside his ancestral hometown of Tikrit. Now, nearly two years later, he is still held in custody.

On July 7, 2005, a series of four bomb attacks struck London’s public transport system during the morning rush hour. The bombings caused a number of deaths and a severe, day-long disruption of the city’s transport and telecommunication infrastructure. Subsequently, suspects have appeared in court and have been remanded in custody until November 2005.

These are just two of so many examples of Ecclesiastes 8:11 being totally ignored. Why does God, in His revealed Word, give such instruction?

Since sentence against evil works is not executed speedily, the criminal fraternity may think that it will never be executed, and therefore they can treat the law with utter contempt. There is no concentration of the mind about the law exacting its full toll because it is a “given” that the law grinds exceedingly slowly. In addition, it sends out the wrong signals to others who may themselves be encouraged to act in a similar manner.

The passage in Ecclesiastes 8:11 contains so much wisdom that, if implemented correctly, it would send out completely different signals to those intent on mischief. The Bible is replete with such advice. For instance, the book of Proverbs is a storehouse of wisdom. But as society “moves on,” any reference to God’s Word becomes more and more a rarity. Instead of man learning from the One who created us all and gave an instruction manual for our benefit, he makes up his own mind and develops his own ideas and systems–usually at great cost to society. Proverbs 1:7 sums this up very eloquently: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” That is the motto of the book of Proverbs.

If we engage a lawyer, an accountant or any other professional, we invariably take note of what they say. After all, they know or should know their job, and we pay them to provide us with advice. In God’s Word, our Creator has all the answers, and He provides us with the best possible advice.

Whenever we see the many different ways of society, it is a wise thing to try and look at them from God’s point of view. What does His Word say on this, that or the other subject? When applying the Word of God, we will usually find that the approach of man is rarely in accord with divine instruction. But we should be different.

Let us all be properly advised!

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Waiting For A Leader?

On September 8, 2005, The Los Angeles Times wrote: “For $3.8 trillion, we should get more than this. That’s the combined expenditure of the federal, state and local governments in 2005, nearly a third of the national economy. And yet the results in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast speak for themselves: Warnings went unheeded, levees were neglected, cops and rescuers were short-shifted… Amid all this international worrywarting [sic] and globe-girdling crusading, the well-being of ordinary Americans is ignored. Who bothers with something so dull as infrastructure? We spend money, lots of it, but neither party sweats details to make sure public services work routinely, let alone in a crisis. So there’s a huge hole in the middle of American politics waiting to be filled by a leader who puts the American nation, and the American people, first.”

Failure of Katrina Relief Efforts Due to Iraq?

AFP reported on September 10, 2005:

“Four years after the September 11 attacks, the failure of the US emergency services to handle the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina is due to resources being diverted to the ‘war on terror,’ experts say. With thousands of National Guard soldiers deployed in Iraq and medical resources being diverted to deal with a potential biological attack, the southern United States was less prepared than it might have been when Katrina struck on August 29. ‘The most recent effects of these diversions of funding have been seen in the unfolding tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the surrounding area,’ said Erica Frank from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. ‘Had there been more bodies on the ground, there would have been fewer deaths. But 7,000 National Guards from Louisiana and Mississippi are deployed in Iraq,’ she said.”

More Expensive Than Two Wars?

MSNBC wrote on September 10, 2005: “Although estimates of Hurricane Katrina’s staggering toll on the treasury are highly imprecise, costs are certain to climb to $200 billion in the coming weeks. The final accounting could approach the more than $300 billion spent in four years to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The article pointed out that the “government never has dealt with a disaster of this scale: In 1992, the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Louisiana cost $35 billion. The price for the 6.7-magnitude temblor in the Northridge area of Los Angeles in 1994 was $15 billion to $20 billion.”

Powell Comes Clean

As it was reported on September 9, 2005, “Former Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized the response to Hurricane Katrina, saying ‘a lot of failures’ occurred at all levels of government… ‘There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done,’ Powell told ABC News’ Barbara Walters in an interview… Powell also said his prewar speech to the United Nations accusing Iraq of harboring weapons of mass destruction was a ‘blot’ on his record. ‘I’m the one who presented it to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It is painful now,’ he said.”

Catholics and the Bible

On September 9, 2005, News24.com reported about the fact that the Bible is not read by many Catholics. It was pointed out:

“With an estimated five billion copies sold in more than 2,000 languages worldwide, the Bible is considered the ultimate best-seller. But is it also the best read? Apparently not, according to a new survey commissioned by an Italian Christian association and carried out in three Catholic countries: Italy, France and Spain. The survey’s results were presented on Thursday at the Vatican, and suggest that only three percent of practising Catholics actually read the Scripture on a daily basis while 80% of them only hear extracts from the Bible during Sunday Mass. Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Catholic Bible Federation, also notes that there is widespread ignorance about the so-called ‘Good Book’. For instance, the survey found that 40% of those polled believed… Paul had written a Gospel while 26% thought… Peter was one of the Evangelists–the… authors of the Gospels are in fact Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Bishop Paglia also expressed concern about a survey finding suggesting that the majority of practising Catholics still believe the Bible to be a book which should be confined to the clergy rather than one they should make their own.”
This “concern” is of course rather surprising and hypocritical, as for centuries Catholic lay members were strongly discouraged, if not forbidden, by the Catholic Church to read the Bible.

Canadian Pastor vs. Government “Position” on Homosexuality

As WorldNetDaily reported on September 10, 2005, a Canadian pastor is facing monetary fines for his published views on homosexuality. The article stated: “A Canadian pastor who works with at-risk youth is preparing to face his province’s Human Rights Tribunal because of a letter to the editor he wrote calling homosexuality immoral and dangerous. The letter by… Stephen Boissoin of Alberta also called into question the province’s new homosexual-rights curriculum… The complaint was filed by Darren Lund, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, after Boissoin’s letter was published in the Red Deer Advocate. If Boissoin loses, he could be forced to pay $7,000 in fines–$5,000 to Lund personally and another $2,000 to the homosexual-rights group EGALE Canada…

“In his letter, Boissoin wrote, ‘Children as young as 5 and 6 years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights.’… [H]is accuser, Lund, has likened him to a local white supremacist, Terry Long of Aryan Nation, and a holocaust denier, James Keegstra. Boissoin told LifeSiteNews.com he expects to be found guilty, noting he met with an officer of the Human Rights Commission who said the letter went against the panel’s ‘position.'”

Personal Insolvencies Hit Record High

On August 5, 2005, The Guardian reported that “the number of personal insolvencies in England and Wales has risen to its highest level in 45 years… In the April to June period, the number of personal insolvencies rose to 15,394, the highest since comparable records began in 1960… That was up 36.8% compared to a year ago and 11.7% on the quarter. The insolvencies were made up of 11,195 bankruptcies–also the highest on record–and 4,199 individual voluntary arrangements.”

Great Ramadan Offensive?

WorldNetDaily published a frightening article on September 8, 2005, pertaining to rising concerns about terrorist attacks in October, the “holy month of Ramadan.” The publication claimed that “al-Qaida is planning spectacular attacks next month against the U.S., Russia and Europe in what it is calling the ‘Great Ramadan Offensive.’ The offensive, designed to overshadow the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, was first referenced in a May 30 letter written by al-Qaida’s Iraq commander Abu Musab Zarqawi to Osama bin Laden. It is the subject of a report written by terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky, the former director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, to government officials. Ramadan, the holiest period in the Muslim calendar, begins Oct. 4 this year and lasts a month… Airports in Italy and the Netherlands are referenced as specific potential targets, and Italy is already on high alert for possible terrorist attacks… Details of the operation came from intercepted communications between top al-Qaida leaders about two weeks ago… Bodansky says plans for attacks against Europe are being finalized in the Balkans, while preparations for attacks on Russia are being completed in Chechnya. Attack plans against the U.S. are being directed from the tri-border area in Latin America.”

The article continued:

“Paul Williams, author of ‘The Al-Qaeda Connection,’ however, sees a much more devastating, coordinated, all-out, surprise attack coming. ‘The next attack, according to al-Qaida defectors and informants, will take place simultaneously at various sites throughout the country,’ he writes. ‘Designated targets include New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Houston, Las Vegas, and Valdez, Alaska, where the tankers are filled with oil from the Trans-Alaska pipeline. To orchestrate such an incredible event requires not only the shipment of the nukes into the United States but also the establishment of cells, the training of sleeper agents, the selection of sites, and the preparation of the weapons without detection from federal, state or local law enforcement officials.'”

The reports explained that “… al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union–including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.”

In a related article, which was published by ABC News on September 12, 2005, it was stated:

“In an apparent Sept. 11 communiqué broadcast on ABC News, an al Qaeda operative threatens new attacks against cities in the U.S. and Australia. ‘Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing. And this time, don’t count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion,’ the tape warns. ‘We are Muslims. We love peace, but peace on our terms, peace as laid down by Islam, not the so-called peace of occupiers and dictators.’… [The tape] message contains a very pointed al Qaeda threat against Los Angeles and Melbourne… This morning, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton acknowledged his city is a target for terrorists.”

Active Volcanoes in Oregon?

Reuters reported on September 9, 2005: “A large, slow-growing volcanic bulge in Eastern Oregon is attracting the attention of seismologists who say that the rising ground could be the beginnings of a volcano… Further north, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens killed 57 people, destroyed at least 230 square miles of forest and spewed ash for hundreds of miles. Mount St. Helens has rumbled back to life recently, spitting lava, rocks and ash, but has not had another big eruption. A lava dome is growing in the huge crater created in Mount St. Helens, but that event appears to be unrelated to the South Sister bulge, seismologists said.”

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Why do people die prematurely, even though they honor their parents? Doesn't this contradict God's promise of long life in Exodus 20:12?

It is indeed correct that God promises long life to those who honor their parents. We must understand, however, the correct meaning of this promise.

Exodus 20:12 states: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 adds: “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long [AV: PROLONGED], and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

This commandment is specifically repeated, as binding on the church, in Ephesians 6:1-3: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.'”

The Nelson Study Bible comments: “The benefits of respecting one’s parents would be long life and success.” Similarly the New Bible Commentary: Revised: “Long life is promised as an incentive to obedience (cf. Eph. 6:2). Honour to parents is limited by the honour due to God, who is supreme. Both allegiances are perfectly combined in Christ (Matthew 10:37; 19:29; Luke 2:49, 51; John 19:26, 27).”

But we must note that Jesus Christ did not live a long physical life. He died when He was only 33 years old.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary tries to get around this obvious problem, by trying to limit God’s promise to the people living in Canaan at that time: “[God] mentions his bringing them into Canaan. A long life IN THAT GOOD LAND is promised particularly to obedient children.” However, Paul later quoted this Old Testament passage in Ephesians 6:1-3, without limiting it to the land of Canaan (As the New King James Bible and most translations render the passage in Ephesians 6:3, Paul speaks about children living long on the EARTH). Further, Isaiah stated, while still in the Promised Land: “The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness” (Isaiah 57:1-2).

Again, we find that a righteous person [who honors his parents] sometimes dies prematurely, to be taken away from evil.

To properly understand God’s promise of a long life to respectful children who honor their parents, we need to consider three different possibilities:

(1) Even though some may appear to live righteously and to keep the Fifth Commandment, they really don’t–in God’s eyes. As the Nelson Study Bible explains: “Care of one’s elderly parent was a basic element of social responsibility and godly piety in Israel… People who were faithless to God in disregarding their parents would not last long in the new Promised Land.” The New Testament makes clear that a believing man or woman should look after and take care of their parents (1 Timothy 5:4, 16; compare Mark 7:10-13).

In addition, some who die, without having enjoyed long lives, might have kept the Fifth Commandment, in a general way, but they might have violated other commandments of God. But God’s law is a package, and can’t be looked upon in an isolated fashion. James tells us that when we violate one of God’s commandments, even though we keep the rest, we have still violated God’s entire law (James 2:8-13). When we do that, we cannot expect God’s protection in dangerous situations, or His intervention to save us from premature death.

The same is true in respect to God’s promise in Malachi 3:10. God promises us physical blessings if we pay His tithe to His Church. We cannot expect being physically blessed by God, if we refuse to obey His commandment to tithe (verse 9). In other words, one is under a curse who refuses to pay God’s tithe to God’s Church, and decides to either not tithe at all, or to deposit God’s tithe in a personal private savings account. But, even if a person tithes diligently–like the Pharisees did in Christ’s time–he still can’t expect that God will bless him financially, if he violates other laws of God. These could be laws regulating sound financial principles, as well as spiritual laws.

Again, we must emphasize that God’s laws, statutes and judgments are a package, to be kept in their entirety. This is not to say that we will keep them perfectly–we will slip and fall, but we can obtain God’s forgiveness upon our repentance, and move on (1 John 1:8-9). The righteous may fall seven times, but he will rise up again every time (Proverbs 24:16).

On the other hand, somebody who flagrantly disobeys God’s laws–who practices a wrong way of life–can’t expect to be blessed by God, if he “keeps” one of his laws (such as the Fifth Commandment or the Tithing Law). Since he is intentionally violating the rest of God’s laws, his heart is not right with God. However, we read in Acts 17:30 that God may overlook the time of IGNORANCE; and that He therefore may bless someone who comes to the understanding of the knowledge of the truth regarding ONE commandment, and responds to God by obeying it.

(2) As mentioned before, in properly understanding Exodus 20:12, we must realize that God may decide to override His general promise of long physical life, under certain circumstances. It was preordained that Christ’s life on earth would be short–even though He kept all of God’s laws perfectly. Also, God may sometimes decide to let a righteous person die, to save him from the evil to come, as the righteous will be resurrected to eternal life within the next second of his consciousness (compare 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).

(3) The fact that the righteous will inherit ETERNAL life provides a third way of looking at God’s promise in Exodus 20:12. When God resurrects a righteous person to eternal life, He will give him the land or the earth to possess forever (compare Matthew 5:5; Psalm 37:11; Isaiah 57:13; 60:21). Please note that both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, the words for “land” and “earth” are the same; i.e., “erets” in Hebrew and “ge” in Greek. When we read in Exodus 20:12 that the one who honors his parents will be living long in the land, it can also be understood to mean that he will live long on the earth–as an immortal spirit being. The implication is, of course, that if we refuse to keep God’s commandments, and especially the one enjoining us to honor our parents, we will not obtain eternal life–we won’t live long on the earth or in the land which God has promised to Abraham and his spiritual descendants (compare Romans 4:13-25; Galatians 3:29).

God has indeed promised long life to those who obey Him. A special blessing is expressed for those who honor their parents. It is not an unconditional promise in the physical realm, as God may deem fit to override His promise for special, individual reasons. Barring this, we can rely on God’s promise of long life in this flesh–and, more importantly, life everlasting in the Kingdom of God.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, “The Beginning of Sorrows.”

This week, the following notices pertaining to the Feast and Church activities were submitted to The Journal, to be published in their next edition:

California–Los Osos: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198, Web: www.eternalgod.org. Contact: J. Edwin Pope at 951-698-1835, or Norbert Link at 760-788-8033. Also, LIVE Services broadcast every day at www.COGNetServices.org.

The Church of the Eternal God in the USA, together with its affiliates in the UK (Global Church of God) and Canada (Church of God, a Christian Fellowship), are pleased to announce the publication of their latest booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.” The booklet has been posted on the Church’s websites, as have been all of the Church’s 19 booklets (USA: www.eternalgod.org; United Kingdom: www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk; and Canada: www.churchofgodacf.ca).

In addition, the Church is making available, on CD, 63 audio recordings of its StandingWatch video programs. The video programs are posted on the Church’s StandingWatch website (www.StandingWatch.org).

Hard copies of the Church’s booklets, as well as CDs of the StandingWatch programs, can be requested by writing to Church of the Eternal God, PO Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198, USA.

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Standing Up For Your Belief

Standing Up For Your Belief
by Simon Akl (16)

In today’s world, numerous detractions and sins surround us. In school, we are constantly submitted to the famous false notion of evolution. Teachers are always trying to brainwash us, by forcing this common deception upon us. But as many of us know, this theory has no truth to it (compare, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults?”). In this corrupt world we need to be willing to stand up for our beliefs, even if we are facing attack and persecution. How far are we willing to go to state the truth?

Last year in my “Theory of Knowledge” class, I had the chance to give a speech on Creation vs. Evolution. At first I thought that since this was such a controversial subject, I would try to just give an informative speech, rather than becoming “argumentative.” I was a little afraid of taking the creationists’ side because we had previous debates on this subject in my class, and they, apart from myself, were all believing in evolution. I had even gone to the teacher to ask his permission to see if I could just state both sides’ arguments, and he had agreed. But after much thought and prayer, as well as consultation with friends from church, I came to the conclusion that we cannot compromise when it comes to God and His Word. I realized that in life we will always be faced with obstacles concerning our beliefs, and so we should not be afraid or back down, but instead stand up strong for the truth.

Our class speeches were supposed to take half an hour, but I ended up speaking for a whole hour. We had a lengthy debate after the presentation. All of my classmates were shooting at me, one after another, with numerous questions. Everyone tried to prove to me that evolution was not just a theory but the real truth. I was left all alone on my little island fighting off these hungry sharks. But I stood my ground and continued to state my position. Once the class had finished, the teacher congratulated me on my “outstanding performance.” As I left the classroom, my classmates approached me, one by one, and also–surprisingly–congratulated me. They explained that they respected what I had done, and understood that it was hard debating everyone by myself. Although we had different opinions, they all accepted the fact that I had stood up strong for my belief.

While I had been preparing for my presentation, there was always a little fear to go against everyone. But afterwards, the feeling of standing my ground felt great. I realized that God had answered my prayers and helped me. I also realized that we should never compromise when it comes to God, and that we should never be afraid. Fighting small obstacles, such as these, help us develop our character, and it will allow us to fight off greater challenges in the future. This is why “standing up for your belief” is so important.

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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

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