|Live Services||Doctrine. The Other Sheep. By This We Know|
|Editorial||Full of the Holy Spirit|
|Q&A||Should we have and use crosses or pictures or statues, depicting Jesus Christ?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Doctrine. The Other Sheep. By This We Know
On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Rene Messier will give the sermon from Oregon, titled, “Doctrine.”
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.
On Sunday, June 8, 2008, is Pentecost.
Dave Harris will give the sermon in the morning from Colorado, titled, “The Other Sheep.” Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon from California, titled, “By This We Know.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 9:00 pm Pacific Time and at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 11:00 pm and 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Full of the Holy Spirit
by Norbert Link
The Church of God is going to celebrate the annual Holy Day of Pentecost on Sunday, June 8, 2008, remembering the unique event when God poured out the Holy Spirit on the New Testament Church in 31 A.D. (Acts 2:33). When Christ’s disciples received the Holy Spirit on that day, observers mocked, thinking that they had become “full of new wine” (Acts 2:13). The Bible tells us, however, that they were “all FILLED with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). And so must we be today–on a continuous basis.
Before our conversion, the following description of the carnal human mind applied to us as well: We were “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness…” (Romans 1:29).
But now, with the mind of Christ in us (Philippians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 2:16), we must be quite different. We are now to be “FULL of goodness, FILLED with all [Godly] knowledge” (Romans 15:14) and “FULL of mercy and good works” (James 3:17). In other words, we must be full of God’s Holy Spirit.
When Jesus was here on earth, He was “FILLED with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1), and therefore, He was “FULL of grace and truth” (John 1:14). We read about some of His disciples being described in similar ways. In Acts 6:3, Peter asked the brethren to “seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, FULL of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” One of the men chosen was “Stephen, a man FULL of faith and the Holy Spirit” (verse 5). He is also described as a man “FULL of faith and power” (verse 8)–characteristics which are all part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Timothy 1:7). Even at the time when he was facing certain death, Stephen was “FULL of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55). Likewise, Barnabas was “a good man, FULL of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24).
This does not happen automatically. We can become and continue to be full of God’s Spirit, but it takes effort. We must persistently and daily strive to become filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us that our “inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16)–through a continuous and daily “supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:19). We need to draw near to God daily, and then God will draw near to us (James 4:8), by granting us His Holy Spirit ABUNDANTLY (Titus 3:4-6).
How often do the affairs and cares of this world, the deceit of riches and the pleasures of life take top priority over our relationship with God? We must be careful that we do not–slowly but surely–grieve and, in time, even quench the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). In the famous parable of the five wise and the five foolish virgins, ALL of them had begun to slumber and sleep (Matthew 25:5). When the “midnight cry” was heard, announcing that Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, was coming, they all trimmed their lamps (verse 7). Unfortunately, the five foolish virgins had to realize that their lamps were going out because they did not have enough supply of oil (Matthew 25:8). They were not filled with or full of the Holy Spirit.
None of us should want to be in that category when the day of Christ’s return arrives. The time to prepare is now. 2 John 8 encourages us to look to ourselves, “that we do not lose the things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, our reward will be full, and “an entrance will be supplied to [us] abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).
This Week in the News
America’s Historical Moment–Obama Declared Democratic Presidential Candidate
As it was reported on Tuesday, June 3, 2008, Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House.
In a remarkable and unusually strong speech on Wednesday morning at a vast annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC), Obama presented himself as a tough candidate and vowed unwavering support for Israel, coupled with a willingness to use everything within his power–a phrase that he repeated loudly three times to add emphasis–to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He also stated that America must take the lead in dealing with Iran, as Europe has failed to bring about any acceptable solutions.
AFP added the following in its article of June 4:
“Barack Obama said Wednesday that Jerusalem must remain the ‘undivided’ capital of Israel… Obama said in the strikingly pro-Israel speech that the US bond with the Jewish state was ‘unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, unbreakable for ever,’ adding he was speaking from his heart as a ‘true friend’ of Israel… Obama warned Islamist movement Hamas must renounce violence, pledged to stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself at the United Nations and to provide the Jewish state the means to guarantee its security… ‘There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations.'”
In its article of June 4, USA Today quoted the following additional comment from Obama’s speech: “…’let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel. Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation.'”
Will European-American Relationships Improve Under a New U.S. President?
Many German commentators and newspapers don’t think so.
Deutsche Welle published the following comment on June 3:
“Lots has been written about the world’s infatuation with Obama, here and elsewhere. With Obama’s candidacy assured, however, how he is perceived by an international audience and what is expected of him becomes more important… A lucid analysis of Obama’s international role and its possible problems offers Constanze Stelzenmüller of the German Marshall Fund of the United States: Entitled The Dalai Obama, Stelzenmüller writes that Germans’ high hopes for an Obama victory are not unfounded, but they may still be disappointed…
“Even if Obama defeats McCain and becomes President, the end of the euphoria is foreseeable writes Stelzenmüller. ‘Obama will call on the help of Germany and the rest of Europe to combat authoritarian regimes worldwide. Iran, NATO in Afghanistan, engagement on Europe’s borders, diplomacy in the Middle East, and perhaps stabilization assistance in Iraq. As an idealist, Obama hopes his appeal to Europe’s sense of responsibility, but if that fails, he must continue as a realist – without Europe.'”
Other German newspapers agree with this assessment. Der Spiegel Online stated the following on June 5, 2008:
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“‘America is ready for a change and possibly even for a historic transformation … But regardless who gets elected president in November, the change is not going to be as earth-shattering as people expect… In terms of foreign policy, there won’t be a major shift under McCain or Obama — not even a rapid withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq…’
“In the Hamburg weekly newspaper Die Zeit, journalist Josef Joffe writes: ‘The zeitgeist is blowing for Obama — even if not as strongly in Asia, Africa and Latin America as it is in Western Europe. But an optical illusion may be influencing our opinions: the comforting idea that the real problem is George W. Bush and not America. Out with cowboys and in with change and hope, and then we’ll be able to love America once again.’
“‘So, why is this a mental delusion? First, because anti-Americanism is older than the younger Bush. Second, because Obama (probably) comes, but the superpower stays. America, this modern steam hammer of a nation, is fundamentally a destroyer.
“‘In Old Europe, we’d prefer to take things a bit easier — and, no wonder, after all the catastrophes of the 20th century. And that’s why we don’t want (what former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder once described in his election campaign as) “American conditions.” We also don’t want any American demands about reinforcing the military in Afghanistan or hard sanctions against Iran or civilian assistance in Iraq, which both Obama and McCain would request.'”
2008–Already Deadliest Tornado Year Since 1998
The Associated Press reported on May 28:
“With the year not even half done, 2008 is already the deadliest tornado year in the United States since 1998 and seems on track to break the U.S. record for the number of twisters in a year, according to the National Weather Service. Also, this year’s storms seem to be unusually powerful. But like someone who has lost all his worldly possessions to a whirlwind, meteorologists cannot explain exactly why this is happening…
“And it’s not just more storms. The strongest of those storms — those in the 136-to-200 mph range — have been more prevalent than normal, and lately they seem to be hitting populated areas more…
“Global warming cannot really explain what is happening… While higher temperatures could increase the number of thunderstorms, which are needed to trigger tornadoes, they also would tend to push the storm systems too far north to form some twisters…”
Islamic Terrorists Envision Devastation of America After Nuclear Attack
The Daily Mail wrote on May 30:
“Washington is laid to waste. The Capitol is a blackened, smoking ruin. The White House has been razed. Countless thousands are dead. This is the apocalyptic scene terrorists hope to create if they ever get their hands on a nuclear bomb.
“The computer-generated image below was posted on an Islamic extremists’ website yesterday.
“It appeared as rumours swept the Internet that the FBI was warning that an Al Qaeda video was about to be released urging militants to use weapons of mass destruction to attack the West… One message with the Washington picture said: ‘The next strike’s in the heart of America…’… Last night FBI sources said Al Qaeda was desperate to get its hands on a weapon of mass destruction, be it nuclear, chemical, or biological…”
U.S. Invasion of Iraq Has Failed–Why?
USA Today reported on May 28:
“Too often during this current occupation, Iraqis have been treated as mere pawns in a geopolitical game between the United States and the Baathists or the jihadists. We have surged our military forces and poured billions into the reconstruction but have made relatively little effort to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis by involving them in a common endeavor.
“Instead, we’ve conveyed the sense that the United States is in Iraq for its own interests and not those of the Iraqis. We fight the terrorists there so we don’t fight them here, we say. That may or may not be so, but… democracies are built not by the force of arms or a flood of dollars, but by an active demonstration of faith in the common bonds of humanity.”
Chuck Hagel: “New Great Leaders Will Arrive”
On June 3, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with U.S. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. We are bringing you the following excerpts from the interview:
“We invaded Iraq, we are occupying Iraq and we have made Iraq dependent on us. By our actions we have done terrible damage to our own country and undermined our interests in the world… Our first moral obligation is to our own people whom we keep sending back to Iraq again and again. Four-thousand US soldiers have given their lives, over 30,000 have been wounded, many seriously. I just got an e-mail today from the father of a helicopter pilot. His son is going back to Iraq for the fifth time. That is not acceptable…
“We need to get out [of Iraq], but responsibly. Much depends on how we are going to engage Iran. That spills over into the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. It spills over into Lebanon. It spills over into the relationship with Syria. We need a regional strategy, and in my view that means a permanent Middle East conference in which all Middle East nations participate. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more difficult it becomes to implement such a process. Many of the Arab nations don’t trust us…
“What has American involvement accomplished so far? The Middle East is as combustible and as complicated as it has ever been. Our policy has been disastrous.. We have to use our economic and also our cultural strength. Trust is the crucial currency in international relations. We willfully diminished the value of this currency and we now have to rebuild it. Trust is more important than anything else…
“A strong America is in the interest of the world. I often meet with foreign leaders and they know that the world is more dangerous when America is stumbling, bumbling and weak. America should lead, but through consensus and common interests…
“We are the greatest debtor nation in the world. We have an enormous trade deficit… you cannot continue to spend $600 billion a year that you do not have. We are spending $3 billion a week in Iraq alone…
“Today, I don’t see any great global leaders of the stature of Reagan, Kohl, Mitterand and Thatcher. They were important, whether you agreed with them or not. But as [former German Chancellor Helmut] Schmidt also told me in my office, there will come a time when we will find those new leaders again.”
Think the U.S. Economy Is Bad? It Will Get MUCH Worse!
The New York Times wrote on June 1:
“Struggling as we are with the housing bust, the credit crunch, shrinking consumption, rising unemployment and faltering business investment, we can be forgiven for thinking that all the big shoes have dropped. There is another one up there, however, and it is about to come down.
“State and city governments have yet to shrink the economy; indeed, they have even managed to prop it up. They have quietly maintained their spending at pre-crisis levels even as they warn of numerous cutbacks forced on them by declining tax revenues. The cutbacks, however, are written into budgets for a fiscal year that begins on July 1, a month away. In the meantime the states and cities, often drawing on rainy-day savings, have carried their share of the load for the national economy.
“That share is gigantic. At $1.8 trillion annually in a $14 trillion economy, the states and municipalities spend almost twice as much as the federal government, including the cost of the Iraq war. When librarians, lifeguards, teachers, transit workers, road repair crews and health care workers disappear, or airport and school construction is halted, the economy trembles. None of that, or very little, has happened so far, not even in California, despite a significant decline in tax revenue.
“’We are looking at a $4 billion cut to public schools and deep cuts that will result in thousands of Californians losing their health care,’ said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, offering a preview of coming hardships. ‘But the reality is we have not pulled money off the streets yet.’
“Quite the opposite, the states and municipalities have increased their spending in recent quarters, bolstering the nation’s meager economic growth. Over the past year, they have added $40 billion to their outlays, even allowing for scattered spending freezes and a few cutbacks in advance of July 1. Total employment has also risen. But when the current fiscal year ends in 30 days (or in the fall for many municipalities), state and city spending will fall, along with employment — slowly at first and then quite noticeably after the next president takes office.”
New Law on Global Warming Would Create Giant Tax, Critics Say
The Associated Press reported on June 3:
“The Senate began what is expected to be a weeklong, contentious debate Monday over legislation to combat global warming by mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases… The Senate measure, which has wide Democratic and some Republican support, would cap U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, cutting them by 18 percent by 2020 and by two-thirds by mid-century. It would specifically target refineries, power plants, factories and transportation for 70 percent reductions…
“Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called it ‘a giant tax on virtually every aspect of the economy,’ and accused Democrats of being ‘laughably out of touch’ in taking up the bill when the country is reeling from $4 a gallon gasoline and other high energy costs. President Bush said at a White House event that the measure amounted to ‘a huge spending bill fueled by tax increases’ and that it ‘would impose roughly $6 trillion in new costs on the American economy.'”
Myanmar’s Military Junta Prevents Aid for Their People
The Associated Press reported on June 3:
“More than 1 million people still don’t have adequate food, water or shelter a month after a devastating cyclone swept through Myanmar, and it’s not clear what the military junta is doing to help them, the United Nations said Tuesday.
“Humanitarian groups say they continue to face hurdles from Myanmar’s military government in sending disaster experts and vital equipment into the country. As a result, only a trickle of aid is reaching the storm’s estimated 2.4 million survivors, leaving many without even basic relief. Aid groups are unable to provide 1.3 million survivors with sufficient food and clean water, while trying to prevent a second wave of deaths from malnutrition and disease, the U.N. said in its latest assessment report…
“Myanmar’s xenophobic military regime left survivors to largely fend for themselves. It barred foreigners from the delta until last week and refused entry to U.S. and French aid-laden naval vessels, which have been idling off the country’s coast.”
AFP added on June 4:
“US warships laden with supplies for Myanmar’s cyclone victims will sail away after the junta refused their help, even as aid workers Wednesday pleaded for more help… The United Nations estimates that of the 2.4 million survivors in need of food and shelter, 1.1 million have received no foreign aid.”
Worldwide Food Price Crisis
AFP wrote on June 3:
“UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for a huge rise in food production Tuesday as world leaders opened a summit on the food price crisis that threatens hunger, poverty and conflict worldwide…
“Prices have doubled in three years, according to the World Bank, sparking riots in Egypt and Haiti and in many African nations. Brazil, Vietnam, India and Egypt have all imposed food export restrictions. Rising use of biofuels, trade restrictions, increased demand from Asia to serve changing diets, poor harvests and increasing transport costs have all been blamed for the price rise.
“World Bank President Robert Zoellick has said two billion people across the world are struggling with high food prices, and 100 million extra people in poor countries may be pushed into poverty by the crisis… Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda urged fellow leaders to release excess stockpiles of food to ease shortages in poorer countries, offering more than 300,000 tonnes of imported rice held by Japan.”
Worldwide Fuel Crisis
The Independet wrote on May 31:
“All around the world, in a multitude of ways, the soaring price of oil is hurting rich and poor alike…
“The number of Britons in ‘fuel poverty’ – 10 per cent of their income goes on energy – is thought to have reached four million… Malaysia has told petrol stations to stop selling fuel to Singapore-registered cars…
“Africa is at the sharp end of the oil shock and the inter-related surge in food prices. With millions living on the tiny margin between subsistence and starvation, fuel costs can quickly become a matter of life and death… There are also growing fears that rapidly increasing fuel prices could have a knock-on effect for aid agencies in countries such as Ethiopia, which are struggling to pay for fuel. This week the Red Cross said in its annual report that rising oil and food costs would mean it now needs much more money than last year just to keep the same level of aid distribution. Africa remains the largest area of Red Cross spending, accounting for 45 per cent of the field budget in 2007…
“In Egypt, petrol prices have risen by as much as 40 per cent in a year. Yemen has been rocked by riots in the south, which is home to only a fifth of its 22 million population but produces 80 per cent of the country’s oil. Young men and separatists, angry that very little of the nation’s oil wealth has trickled down to ordinary people in the south, have been protesting since April, raising concerns that Islamic militants could exploit the unrest in the notoriously fractious country…
“In Gaza this week, where fuel shortages have long been a major source of seething discontent due to rationing by Israel and Hamas, Palestinians were forced to fill their cars with olive oil instead of diesel… Iran is acutely vulnerable to rises in fuel prices because, despite being the world’s second largest producer, it is still forced to import about 40 per cent of its petrol because of a lack of refining facilities. Protests last year over fuel prices brought in rationing, which is still in place in Tehran and other major Iranian cities.”
Germans Don’t Want Darwin Questioned
Deutsche Welle reported on June 4:
“A Swiss firm has announced plans to construct a ‘Genesis Land’ in the Heidelberg area. But local politicians and theologians don’t like the prospect of becoming home to an anti-Darwin amusement park… According to the developers’ plans, Genesis Land would feature a ‘life-sized’ Noah’s arch, a ride simulating the Biblical Flood and a 3-D animated retelling of the New Testament… The project’s Web site says it aims to ‘communicate Biblical history and a Biblical message in a modern, experience oriented way.’…
“But religious and political representatives from the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg are less than enthusiastic… ‘A project like this only gets in the way of our attempts to spread the faith,’ Hansjörg Hemminger, the Wuerttemberg Protestant Church’s Spokesman on World Views told the newspaper Die Welt.
“Civic planners, too, are against Genesis Land. ‘Such a project isn’t going to get any support from us,’ Raban von der Malsburg, the official in charge of construction in Heidelberg, told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung newspaper. Christoph Trinemeier, the director of a regional association, shares the belief that creationism wouldn’t enhance the area’s reputation. ‘Scientists from the entire world live and do research at the most modern level in our region,’ he said to the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung as grounds for opposing Genesis Land.
“But the project is still very much in the planning stage and may never become reality.”
The Theory of Evolution is wrong. Our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults” proves from Scripture, WHY it is a human fabrication, without any scientific basis whatsoever. Please watch in this regard our latest StandingWatch program, “Is There Life on Mars?” View it on StandingWatch or Google Video or YouTube.
Tissue from Dead People to Create Cloned Stem Cells
On June 1, 2008, The Sunday Times wrote the following:
“Scientists [in the UK] are to be permitted to use tissue from dead people to create cloned human stem cells for research, under a legal change put forward by the government. Health ministers have proposed that laboratories should be allowed to use stored human tissue to create cloned embryonic stem cells without the explicit consent of the tissue donor. This would allow research to be done on tissue donated for medical research as long as 30 years ago. Scientists would also be able to use cells from people who have died since they donated their tissue or who cannot be contacted. Many laboratories have banks of stored tissue which act as DNA libraries…”
“Hate Crimes” in Canada…
WorldNetDaily reported on June 5 about hate crimes in Canada:
“A priest is being investigated as a potential criminal under a federal ‘hate crimes’ law for quoting from the Bible, and he’s being targeted using a Canadian provision under which no defendant ever has been acquitted, according to a new report.
“Pete Vere, a canon lawyer and Catholic journalist, has reported on the prosecution of Father Alphonse de Valk, a pro-life activist known across Canada, by the Canadian Human Rights Commission – ‘a quasi-judicial investigative body with the power of the Canadian government behind it’ – at CatholicExchange.com. ‘What was Father de Valk’s alleged “hate act”?’ Vere wrote.
“‘Father defended the [Catholic] Church’s teaching on marriage during Canada’s same-sex ‘marriage’ debate, quoting extensively from the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals. Each of these documents contains official Catholic teaching. And like millions of other people throughout the world and the ages – many of who are non-Catholics and non-Christians – Father believes that marriage is an exclusive union between a man and a woman,’ he wrote.
“The new case comes just as columnist and author Mark Steyn, and Maclean’s magazine which published an excerpt from his ‘America Alone’ book, are on trial before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for similar ‘offenses.’… That case revolves around Joseph’s claims the defendants depicted Muslims as ‘a violent people’ with a religion that is ‘violent.'”
… and in Britain…
The Telegraph reported on June 2, 2008:
“A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham. The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a ‘hate crime’ and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned. The incident will fuel fears that ‘no-go areas’ for Christians are emerging in British towns and cities…
“The preachers, both ministers in Birmingham, were handing out leaflets on Alum Rock Road in February when they started talking to four Asian youths. A police community support officer… interrupted the conversation and began questioning the ministers about their beliefs. They said when the officer realised they were American, although both have lived in Britain for many years, he launched a tirade against President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“[One of the ministers] said: ‘I told him that this had nothing to do with the gospel we were preaching but he became very aggressive. He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam… West Midlands Police, who refused to apologise, said the incident had been ‘fully investigated’ and the officer would be given training in understanding hate crime and communication.”
… and in Continental Europe
The Associated Press reported on June 3:
“Brigitte Bardot was convicted Tuesday of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing that Muslims are destroying France. A Paris court also handed down a $23,325 fine against the former screen siren and animal rights campaigner. The court also ordered Bardot to pay $1,555 in damages to… [a] leading French anti-racism group known as MRAP…
“In [a] December 2006 letter to Sarkozy, now the president, Bardot said France is ‘tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.’ Bardot, 73, was referring to the Muslim feast of Aid el-Kebir, celebrated by slaughtering sheep.
“French anti-racism laws prevent inciting hatred and discrimination on racial or religious… grounds. Bardot had been convicted four times previously for inciting racial hatred.”
These laws are on the books in many parts of Europe. Since they are prohibiting “inciting discrimination on religious grounds,” the time is drawing nearer when religious organizations will be prosecuted in Europe for teaching the Biblical truth about “orthodox Christianity” and especially the history and the prophesied future of Babylon the Great and the woman riding the scarlet-colored beast, as mentioned in Revelation 17 and 18.
For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”
Should we have and use crosses or pictures or statues, depicting Jesus Christ?
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “No.”
Regarding pictures, images or statues of Christ (including those which picture Him on the cross), we clearly read that we are not to have images of God (Exodus 20:4). Since Jesus is God (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13), the creation and use of images or pictures of Christ violates this express prohibition.
Some say that this commandment does not prohibit us to portray Christ when He was a man, and not God. Even though Christ became fully man and fully flesh, He nevertheless did not cease to be the Personage that He had always been before–the Son of God, the second member in the God Family. That is why He, when here on earth, was called “Immanuel” or “God with us,” and that is why people, recognizing this fact, worshipped Him in the flesh.
In addition, Paul tells us that we are not to know Jesus Christ any longer according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16), as He is now again a glorified, all-powerful and divine God being. He is depicted in Revelation 1:14, 16 with eyes as a flame of fire and as the sun shining in full strength. Pictures which show Christ today, even as a man, are totally inaccurate, even from a human standpoint. They portray Christ with long hair, although Paul said that it is a shame for a man to wear long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14). And even though Christ was a Jew, pictures today show Him with features which have no resemblance to Jewish men, but which give Him an effeminate appearance, instead.
When addressing the cross and its worship or use in religious services or at home, we should realize that the Bible does not even say that Christ was nailed to a cross, as it is pictured and portrayed today. In every case when the word “cross” is used in the Authorized Version or the New King James Bible, the Greek word is “stauros.”
According to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, the meaning of that word is simply, “stake.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible agrees, defining “stauros” as a “stake or post, as set upright,” continuing that it could refer to a pole or a cross.
Bullinger’s Companion Bible states in Appendix 162 under “The Cross and Crucifixion”:
“In the Greek N.T. two words are used for ‘the cross’ on which the Lord was put to death. (1) The word ‘stauros’; which denotes an upright pale or stake, to which criminals were nailed for execution; (2) The word ‘xulon’, which generally denotes a piece of a dead log of wood, or timber, for fuel or for any other purpose… As this latter word ‘xulon’ is used for the former ‘stauros’, it shows us that the meaning of each is exactly the same. Our English word ‘cross’ is the translation of the Latin ‘crux’; but the Greek ‘stauros’ no more means a ‘crux’ than the word ‘stick’ means a ‘crutch’. “
The word “xulon” is translated many times in the Authorized Version or the New King James Bible as “tree,” for instance in 1 Peter 2:24, stating that Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree (compare, too, Acts 10:39; 13:29).
The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by Vine adds the following, when discussing the kind of death which Christ endured:
“… stauros denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake. On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, to fasten to a stake or pale, are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed cross.”
Since the Greek in the New Testament does not state that Christ died on a cross, as we know it today, how did this idea enter orthodox Christianity? Here is what happened:
Alexander Hislop writes in his book, The Two Babylons, pp. 197, 199:
“The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by paganism to the same magic purposes, was honored with the same honors. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians–the true original form of the letter T–the initial of the name of Tammuz… There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. The cross was worshiped by the Pagan Celts long before the incarnation and death of Christ… It was worshiped in Mexico for ages before the Roman Catholic missionaries set foot there, large stone crosses being erected, probably to the ‘god of rain.’ The cross was widely worshiped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah… “
We have found pictures, showing Assyrian, Egyptian, Hindu and Greek gods and goddesses associated with crosses. The ancient Greek goddess Diana is shown with a cross over her head–very similar to the portrayal of the “Virgin Mary” by many medieval artists.
Vine adds that the shape of a “two-beamed cross” had ” its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd century A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ.”
In addition, it is true that the Romans used a two-beamed cross as one of their methods of crucifixion, but it is highly unlikely that that method was used in the case of Christ. The Encyclopedia Britannica writes in its 11th edition, volume 7, on page 506:
“Two methods were followed in the infliction of the punishment of crucifixion. In both of these the criminal was first of all usually stripped naked, and bound to an upright stake, where he was so cruelly scourged with an implement, formed of strips of leather having pieces of iron, or some other hard material, at their ends, that not merely was the flesh often stripped from the bones, but even the entrails partly protruded, and the anatomy of the body was disclosed. In this pitiable state he was re-clothed, and, if able to do so, was made to drag the stake to the place of execution, where he was either fastened to it, or impaled upon it, and left to die.”
Regarding another method, the encyclopedia states that:
“After the scourging, the criminal was made to carry a cross beam to the place of execution, and he was then fastened to it by iron nails driven through the outstretched arms and through the ankles. Sometimes this was done as the cross lay on the ground, and it was then lifted into position.”
As pagans already worshiped the cross as we know it today, before they entered the Catholic fold; as the Roman Church allowed them to continue to worship the cross–only now in association with Christ; and as the Romans used a two-beamed cross as one of their methods of crucifixion, it can be easily seen how the Roman Church was able to convince an unsuspecting world that THAT was the method of Christ’s crucifixion.
However, as mentioned, it is highly unlikely that Christ was killed in that way. In the New Testament, the word for “stauros” is equated with a “tree”–and never with a two-beamed “cross.” Also, Christ had to carry His “cross” (“stauros”) to Golgotha (Matthew 27:32; John 19:17). Some commentaries say that this was only the cross beam–that is, only a small part of the “cross.” However, the Bible does not seem to support this. We read that Christ carried His “cross”; that subsequently, Simon a Cyrenian was compelled to bear “His cross” (Mark 15:21); and that after His crucifixion had begun, His mother and other relatives stood “by the cross of Jesus” (John 19:25). In all these passages, the same word “stauros” is used in the original Greek for “cross”—with no indication of just different parts of the “cross” being described at different times.
In addition, Christ told us to carry our “cross” (Matthew 10:38; 16:24) as He had carried and endured His “cross” (Hebrews 12:2). If He only carried a portion of the “cross,” then that analogy would break down, as we are to carry our entire “cross”–not just portions of it.
We also read that Christ compared the manner of His death with the way in which Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). Numbers 21:9 tells us how Moses did it: “So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it ON A POLE; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” The bronze serpent was placed on a solid pole, consisting of one piece–indicating the kind of pale or stake on which Christ died.
Since we don’t even know for sure the exact method of Christ’s crucifixion, but since we DO know that the “cross”–as orthodox Christianity uses it today “in memory of Christ”–was worshiped by pagans in connection with their pagan idols, we should not use it at all, nor even wear it as an amulet. The “Christian” use of the cross did not begin until the time of Constantine, and there is no evidence that God’s true Church has ever used cross symbols for any purpose.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program (#168) has been posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube.
The program is titled, “Is There Life on Mars?” In the program, Norbert Link points out that with astonishing accuracy, the Phoenix Mars Lander reached the Red Planet on May 25, 2008–exactly as planned. The 422 million-mile journey, which began on August 4, 2007, costs us about 420 million dollars. Is this well-spent money? Scientists are hopeful to discover conditions favorable for life on Mars, either now or once upon a time. They would like to find some evidence for the evolution of life on Mars. But is there even evidence of evolution of life here on earth?
A new member letter was written and sent out this week. In the letter, Norbert Link discusses the fact that we must use God’s Holy Spirit to bring about peace, unity and reconciliation. The letter also discusses what we must do to avoid becoming disunified and confused.
As we announced last week, Paul Voss, a long-time deacon in God’s Church, died on May 23, 2008, at his home in Oregon. A memorial service for Paul will be conducted on Sunday, July 13, 2008, at 1:00 pm, followed by a potluck, at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 2701 East 8th Street, (Paradise Valley), National City, California 91950. All family members and friends are invited to attend.
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