Update 222


Son of Man and of God

On December 17, 2005, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Son of Man and of God.”

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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A Blessing of Omission


There are many blessings that we receive from God every day as we
keep His Law.  But many are not recognized by the five senses. It
is these that we need to fully appreciate, along with the tangible
ones. It would be easy to live year to year without recognizing that
God is indeed working in this way in our lives on a daily basis.

The reason that we are not as cognizant of these blessings is because nothing happens. That is the blessing–nothing.

at it this way: Traffic law decrees that you are to stop at a STOP
sign.  If you run a stop sign there is a good chance of getting
into an accident where the injuries can range from the mild to the
devastating.  If you stop and look both ways and proceed
cautiously through the intersection–NOTHING happens.

In the same
way, those who are living God’s Way every day benefit by keeping His
Laws, here and now, whether they know it or not.  If you don’t
have sex outside of marriage you won’t get an STD; if you don’t eat
unclean meat you can avoid diseases such as Hepatitis, SARS and
Trichinosis; if you don’t cheat on your taxes the IRS won’t see to it
that you are fined or put in jail. If you do what’s right in these
cases–NOTHING happens.

When we keep the commandments of God we
may not be fully aware of the consequences of breaking them, but we can
be assured that if we continue in them, many times we will receive
“nothing”–that is, a blessing of omission.

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The WRONG War on Christmas

AFP reported on December 10, 2005, about an alleged war on Christmas which angers the conservative right in the USA. The article stated: “Conservative Christians and commentators are seeing red as ‘Merry Christmas’ has been replaced by ‘happy holiday’ in many places in an effort to include the many beliefs of the country’s diverse population… The right wing has launched a counter-attack against secularists by calling for boycotts of stores refusing to wish shoppers ‘Merry Christmas.’… A Republican lawmaker from Virginia has introduced a resolution asking that Congress declare that it ‘strongly disapproves of attempts to ban reference to Christmas.’ Conservatives are not alone in their concerns, as some in the left cringe at what they see as excessive political correctness. ‘Christmas is a Christian holiday, and trying to eliminate the religious aspect is insulting,’ wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein.”

It is a tragedy that the problem with Christmas celebrations is raised by the wrong people and for the wrong motives. IF Christmas WAS Christian, it should be kept, as Christmas, in a Christian country, regardless of the cultural diversities. BUT, Christmas is NOT Christian and NEVER HAS BEEN. It is the TRUE Christians who ought not participate in Christmas celebrations. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”

Schröder’s Pipeline

Der Spiegel Online described former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s controversial future management role in a big German-Russian consortium, building a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea. The magazine stated:

“On Friday, Schröder confirmed he would head an advisory committee of a massive undersea Russian-German gas project, sparking a storm of protest about a potential conflict of interest. Schröder, along with his old chum Russian President Vladimir Putin, signed off on the Euro 4-billion gas pipeline less than a fortnight before he lost Germany’s general election in September. Now only weeks after leaving office he has agreed to take a plum job in a project headed by partially state-owned Russian energy giant Gazprom.”

The reaction from the German press and the German and international political spectrum was basically one of condemnation. However, what might be overlooked in the discussion is the tremendous economic and strategic advantage which Germany will gain from Schröder’s new role.

Surprisingly, a lone voice of support came from one of Schröder’s former political opponents, Germany’s minister of economics, Michael Glos (CDU). He welcomed Schröder’s appointment to the new post, as the pipeline will satisfy one-third of Germany’s energy needs from 2010 (Bild Online, December 9, 2005).

The Washington Post added the following interesting comments in its article, dated December 13, 2005:

“But the announcement should also raise questions in German voters’ minds about the real reasons Mr. Schroeder was so keen to see this pipeline project launched. The pipeline has cost Germany diplomatically by infuriating its Central European and Baltic neighbors. They point out that the Russian government chose to use the sea route rather than run a new pipeline alongside one that already exists on land, despite the far greater expense. The only possible reason for doing so was political: The Baltic Sea pipeline could allow Russia, a country that has made political use of its energy resources, to cut off gas to Central Europe and the Baltic states while still delivering gas to Germany.”

Tsunamis Threaten California

The Associated Press reported on December 12, 2005, about a frightening scenario, threatening the very survival of coastal areas in California. The article pointed out:

“Tsunami waves generated by a large offshore earthquake would threaten at least 1 million coastal residents in California and inundate the nation’s largest port complex… In the past century, more than 80 tsunamis–mostly minor–have been recorded or observed along the California coastline.The most deadly was in 1964 when a magnitude-9.2 earthquake in Alaska generated massive waves that killed 12 people. Scientists have also kept a close eye on a 680-mile fault 50 miles off the West Coast that behaves much like those that produced the 1964 Alaska quake and the Southeast Asia tsunami that killed more than 176,000 last year…

“If a tsunami shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for two months, the economic loss could reach $60 billion. The ports make up the third busiest port in the world, but its docks and terminals are only about nine feet above the water.  A massive wave higher than that could cause extensive damage.”

Gigantic Explosion Near London

The Pravda reported on December 12 about the terrible explosion at an oil depot near London. The paper stated:

“A fire at an oil depot north of London blazed for a second day after explosions rocked the complex in probably the biggest such incident in peacetime Europe… Authorities said the blasts Sunday morning appeared to be accidental, though they came just four days after an Al Qaeda video appeared on the Internet calling for attacks on facilities carrying oil ‘stolen’ from Muslims in the Middle East…  The blasts could be heard up to 100 miles away–some reports suggested that they were felt as far away as northern France and the Netherlands.”

In a related article, The Associated Press added on December 12 that “A smoke cloud also drifted over northwestern France and was expected to reach Spain” within a few days.

The Associated Press also reported on December 14 that “Investigators searched Wednesday for the cause of [the] explosion… Since suicide bombers targeted London’s Underground and bus system in July, killing 56 people including the bombers, questions have arisen over Britain’s preparedness to deal with terrorist attacks and terror-related disasters…”

CIA Flights Under Investigation

The EUobserver reported on December 13, 2005, that “A Council of Europe report has reinforced suspicions that… the CIA has detained suspected Islamic terrorists without proper judicial procedure, and violated sovereignty laws in Europe… Meanwhile, the European Parliament is planning to set up its own temporary committee to deal with the allegations of secret jails and CIA flights in Europe… Despite secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s assurances in Brussels last week that the US does not condone inhumane acts or torture, an increasing number of EU member states are trying to find out whether the CIA has been violating sovereignty and anti-torture laws in Europe.”

USA and EU Clash Again

The EUobserver published the following headline on December 14, 2005: “EU-US clash on food aid at WTO summit.” The article pointed out that “The first day of a key World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit saw an open clash between the EU and the US, with EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson accusing the United Nations of supporting US food dumping in the developing world… Brussels accuses Washington of offering large amounts of its superfluous agricultural products to developing countries in the form of food aid for hunger relief.”

Syria Guilty of Political Assassinations?

The AFP reported about the assassinations of two prominent Lebanese political and public figures critical of Syria. Investigations suggest that Syria supported or even carried out both murders, according to the news agency. The following was stated: “A UN enquiry report delivered to the Security Council cited new evidence further implicating senior Syrian officers in the murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri and raised doubts about Syrian cooperation in the probe… The 25-page document was released amid rising tensions in Lebanon sparked by the killing of anti-Syrian lawmaker Gibran Tueni… The attacks have created a climate of fear in Lebanon… Many Lebanese blame Damascus for Hariri’s death and the other attacks, charges Syria denies.”

Iran Isolates Itself

The Jerusalem Post reported on December 10 about German reactions to the Iranian President’s recent controversial statements about Israel and the Holocaust. The paper pointed out:

“German church leaders on Saturday joined international protests against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s demand that Israel be moved to Europe and his statement doubting whether the Holocaust happened. Roman Catholic Cardinal Karl Lehmann said he was ‘outraged’… Lutheran Church leader Wolfgang Huber said the international community needed to take action against Iran, but he did not elaborate. ‘Whoever denies the historical fact of the murder of millions of Jews during the Third Reich in Germany and denies Israel’s right to exist has committed incitement,’ Huber was quoted… as saying. Incitement to racial hatred is a crime in Germany… The United States, Israel, Europe, [the] United Nations and even Iranian ally Russia have condemned Ahmadinejad for his remarks.”

Subsequently, Iran’s President added comments on Wednesday to the effect that “the Holocaust is a ‘myth’ that Europeans have used to create a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world,” according to an article of The Associated Press of December 14, 2005.

The press also reported that Israel threatened an attack on Iran, which was subsequently denied by Israel. The Pravda stated:

“Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the Israeli military command to prepare a military operation against Iran. An air strike on nuclear objects of the Islamic republic was set for March 28, Israeli military structures said. The date of the supposed attack coincides with the general election in Israel. Israel intends to strike Iran for the country’s persistent arms race and anti-Jewish statements released from [the] Iranian President… News messages about Israel’s intention to fire missiles on Iran first appeared on the pages of Britain’s Sunday Times.”

The paper continued: “The news about the IMMINENT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST appeared several days after Iran’s [President] released another portion of anti-Israeli statements. It goes without saying that Iran will not sit on its hands and watch Israeli missiles hitting targets. The Islamic country will attack Israel in return too.”

The Russian paper also admitted: “Russia plays a significant role in Iran’s growing defensive capacity. Russia assisted Iran in launching its first satellite, the Sinah-1, which can perform the functions of a spy satellite too. Moscow also agreed to deliver Tor-M1 air defense complexes to Iran last week. To crown it all, Iran’s entire nuclear program is being conducted with the participation of Russian specialists.”

Modern Pharisees in Israel

On December 8, 2005, news.telegraph published the following article: 
“Machines will perform euthanasia on terminally ill patients in Israel under legislation devised not to offend Jewish law, which forbids people taking human life. A special timer will be fitted to a patient’s respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off. Normally, carriers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden. Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.

“Parliamentarians reached a solution after discussions with a 58-member panel of medical, religious and philosophical experts. ‘The point was that it is wrong, under Jewish law, for a person’s life to be taken by a person but, for a machine, it is acceptable,’ a parliamentary spokesman said. ‘A man would not be able to shorten human life but a machine can.’ The bill… will become law next year.”

This article pinpoints the wrong Jewish teaching on both the stringent man-made prohibitions of activities on the Sabbath and the concept of “taking” human life. The article reflects the Pharisaical approach which was condemned by Jesus Christ. As it is absolutely not wrong to turn on light switches and electrical devises on the Sabbath, so it is also not necessarily wrong, and does not constitute the “taking” of human life, to end the ARTIFICIAL AND UNNATURAL prolongation of human life–for instance in case of a brain-dead person, who has been in a coma for several months, and who has been kept “alive” by machines.

Persecution of Christians in Pakistan

On December 13, WorldNetDaily reported about persecutions of Christians in Pakistan with the at least passive approval of the government. The article stated:

“Militant Islamists in Pakistan have called for the elimination of Christians and the public hanging of a Christian accused of blasphemy… [During a gathering on December 2,] Islamic leaders using loudspeakers urged Muslims to rise up and eliminate Christians. They also passed a resolution demanding that Yousaf Masih, a Christian accused of desecrating the Quran, be publicly hanged. A resolution [adopted by Pakistani minority religious and civil society leaders] accused the Pakistani authorities of having ‘done nothing to defuse the tension,’ and of ‘failing to repair the situation.’ It claimed the government was ‘not admitting the facts and is rather protecting the instigators of mob violence.’ Procedural delays have meant vital evidence has been lost, which has made the judicial process ‘ineffective,’ the resolution claimed.”

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Is it possible for a Christian to receive more of God’s Holy Spirit?

The answer is yes, and the way in which this might occur involves personal growth as well as God choosing someone to fulfill a special function in His service.

First of all, understand that God gives man His Holy Spirit as a gift. Peter explains this in context in Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [Margin: forgiveness] of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

Paul further describes the purpose of God’s gift: “In Him [Christ] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, [which] is the guarantee [Margin: down payment, earnest] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14; also, compare 2 Corinthians 5:5).

Besides being a kind of “down payment” of eternal life, Christians are to use God’s power–His Holy Spirit–to live a converted life. We find this dramatic contrast of two ways of living explained in Romans 8: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Verses 5-6).

Just repenting and just receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is not enough–this is not the complete process God has established for mankind to enter into eternal life. In His message to the seven churches found in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus Christ summarizes His instructions to each group with these words: “‘To him who overcomes…'” (Compare Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21).

Consider how Paul encouraged Timothy, a young minister under his guidance, to use the gift of the Holy Spirit:
“Therefore I remind you to STIR UP the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Power, love and a sound mind are all areas in which Christians are to grow, and that growth comes through utilizing God’s Holy Spirit. One particular way for each of us to experience this kind of change and growth is revealed in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).

Jesus taught a parable concerning a barren fig tree (Compare Luke 13:6-9). The issue was that this tree was not bearing any fruit. In the end, if this tree did not bear its fruit, it was to be cut down. The point for us is that we must utilize the Spirit of God and bear the fruit of conversion–that is, lives that are becoming more and more like those of the Father and Jesus Christ (Compare Matthew 5:48).

King David understood that his own actions had separated himself from God. In deep and bitter repentance he acknowledged his mistakes. David’s prayer is recorded in Psalm 51, and in it, he makes this startling request: “Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (verse 11).

Christians have an accountability to utilize what God has given them. In fact, Jesus taught in the parable of the talents that we will be judged and rewarded according to how productively we incorporate God’s power in our lives (Compare Matthew 25:14-30)! Here is how Peter presents this challenge: “…but GROW in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

We also find the record of individuals who did just that. When the seven were chosen to fulfill needed roles in the Church, the men were to be “full of the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 6:3). Quite obviously, these men were chosen based on their fruits of God’s Holy Spirit (Compare Galatians 5:22-23).

In 1 Corinthians 12, spiritual gifts that are given for the conduct of the Church of God are explained: “There are diversities [Margin: allotments or various kinds] of gifts, but the same Spirit” (verse 4); “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers,
after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (verses 27-28).

Further explanation of these various kinds of gifts is found in Ephesians 4: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Verses 11-13).

Numbers 11 shows that God actually took some of the Spirit given to Moses and gave it to elders in Israel in order that they could be empowered to assist Moses (Compare verses17; 25-26). And Elisha received a double portion of the Spirit that Elijah had (Compare 2 Kings 2:9-12).

However, in the case of Jesus Christ and God’s giving of His Holy Spirit to Him, we find this statement from John the Baptist: “‘For he [Christ] whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him [Christ]'” (John 3:34, Authorized Version).

Another example is that of John the Baptist. Here is what the angel, Gabriel, said to Zacharias: “‘…He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb'” (Luke 1:15).

Generally, God gives us only a small portion of His Holy Spirit at the time of our proper baptism. But God expects of us that we use His Spirit, and that we grow in God’s Way of life so that He can give us MORE of His Spirit. That is why we read that we have to consistently be RENEWED in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23). Paul addresses converted Christians in Romans 12:2, when he tells them: “And do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” This is a continuous process, and the supply of the Holy Spirit helps us to accomplish this change (Philippians 1:19).

We read in the NewTestament, in the Book of Acts, that Paul and Barnabas were ordained for a special work in the Church of God (13:1-4).

The Biblical record shows that God will use zealous individuals. In explaining the qualifications of an elder, Paul states: “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work” (1Timothy 3:1). In these instances, when a man is ordained to the ministry, God grants helps through His Holy Spirit (Compare Luke10:17-20; Mark 16:15-18).

Finally, if you desire to have more ofGod’s Holy Spirit, ask! (Compare Luke 11:13). We have this further assurance: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14); “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was recorded this week and placed on the Web. It is titled, “Your Reaction to World News.”

Our new German booklet, “Gott ist eine Familie” (“God Is A Family”), has been posted on the Web.

The Global Church of God in the UK received this letter from a reader:

a month ago I requested some booklets of the Global Church of God,
after having found your interesting website. Again, I would like to
thank you for having sent the literature. Meanwhile, I managed to study
almost all of the booklets (except for ‘Jesus Christ‘, which I will
start reading this very weekend), and I really enjoyed the reading very
much–although I must admit, it wasn’t always very easy. Being a
baptized Catholic, there are some items that are different from what I
learned in school, but then again, it was a challenge to check whether
my opinion about these things is right at all. (Furthermore, I am proud
I didn’t have to use my English dictionary very often, me being a
non-native speaker.) In these booklets, I found some other publications
that would interest me [requests 6 booklets]. I would be very pleased,
if you could send me a copy of these titles, too! Thank you very much
in advance. Kind regards from a very cold Germany.”

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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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