|Live Services||Only When It Suits Us…|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||What is your position regarding the "Apostles' Creed"?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Only When It Suits Us…
On Saturday, March 14, 2009, Brian Gale will give the sermon, titled, “Only When It Suits Us…”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Dave Harris
Are there many truths? Is there an inexhaustible supply of explanations and ways of looking at things that all lead to the same conclusion?
In religion the statement is often made, or at least, inferred, that while there may be different ways of worshipping, in the end we all are worshipping the same God! However, a close examination of the Bible and specifically the teachings of Jesus Christ does not support such an idea. For example, in Matthew 7, verses 21 through 23, Jesus warns those who claim to follow Him but do not obey the Father and who actually “‘practice lawlessness.'”
When Jesus began to preach, He was confronted by the religion of the Jews who fiercely held to their own beliefs. They had the full text of the Old Testament plus the history of being one of the tribes of Israel. They practiced a kind of Sabbath observance that spelled out endless details of do’s and don’ts. The magnificent Temple stood as the center of Jewish life and worship.
However, with all of the trappings of religion that consumed the scribes and Pharisees and other sects of Judaism, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of true understanding and true teaching:
“‘Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”‘” (Matthew 15:7-9).
And so it is today! Deceptive religious practices now stand as the most visible representation of so-called Christianity. But the real truth of God is not what this world embraces. The differences between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God are irreconcilable. They are not and never will be the same!
If we believe this, then we should also understand what the Word of God so clearly and so emphatically teaches–the wisdom of God is spiritually discerned (Compare 1 Corinthians 2:14).
The lack of spiritual discernment overturned the Jewish nation when they rejected Jesus, the True Messiah. The lack of spiritual discernment has led to the emergence of a totally false religion masquerading itself as Christian–which, like the various sects of Judaism in Christ’s time, has given rise to endless divisions. The lack of spiritual discernment has led to the scattering of the true Church of God as human reasoning and demonic influences supplanted the truth with lies.
We are warned to not be among those who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). We must be careful that none of us begin to “strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14). Rather, we are to be teachable and guidable by the True Shepherd of our salvation, Jesus Christ, Who is the living Head of the Church of God.
Violence has once again overtaken the news of the week. Such mindless acts as random mass murders in both the United States and Germany were added to the deliberate execution of two British military personnel in Northern Ireland.
Survivors were so stunned by the senselessness of the acts that few could offer anything but utter dismay at the sudden impact of their tragedies.
As the financial morass of the U.S. and the rest of the world only grew worse, plans for recovery and its mounting costs seem to be lost in an ever more distant future. The fact that the Dow Jones industrials shot up 240 points, bringing its gains over the past three days to 622 points, should not obscure the reality that–as USA Today put it on March 12–“No one is calling the end to the selling on Wall Street. The economic picture is too uncertain, and much of this week’s rally has been driven by technical factors.” In addition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel just described the present worldwide economic crisis as the worst since World War II.
Undoing what had been viewed as more middle ground in stem cell research approved under the Bush Administration, President Obama backed up by a chorus of determined supporters has now approved the destruction of human embryos in order to harvest embryonic stem cells!
And in the Middle East, Jerusalem and Israel continue to simmer as the focus of attention from the Pope, the EU and Iran’s military!
In our websites, listed below, we present biblical explanations that help explain WHY the people of our generation have entered into such a dark and seemingly hopeless period of troubles. There is good news, and it is revealed in the knowledge that God will soon send Jesus Christ back to bring His government and to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth—only then will true and lasting peace replace the violence that threatens even now to overwhelm us!
www.standingwatch.org; www.eternalgod.org; www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk;
www.churchofgodacf.ca; www.aufpostenstehen.de; www.eternalgod.org/french
This Week in the News
Murders Upon Murders!
Another shocking murder took place this past Sunday in an Illinois church.
The AP reported about the incident on March 9, 2009:
“The gunman, identified by authorities only as a 27-year-old from Troy, strode toward the Rev. Fred Winters shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, exchanged words with him, then fired a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol until it jammed. Winters, 45, died of a single shot to the heart, the coroner said Monday.”
While others were wounded, had not this man’s gun jammed, many more of those in the church would have fallen victim to his murderous rampage.
Deutsche Welle, March 12, 2009, reported on another school-related mass murder. Pointing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s televised address to the nation and her description of this horrific event “…as a day of sorrow for the entire country,” the article also gave this summary of the tragedy:
“A 17-year-old gunman entered a school in the town of Winnenden shortly after nine in the morning and opened fire, killing students and teachers. He then left the school, shooting dead more people as he fled. The assailant killed 15 people in total. He commandeered a vehicle and traveled to a town around 40 kilometres from Winnenden, where police cornered him. The gun battle that ensued left two police officers seriously injured and the attacker dead. Police say he turned his weapon on himself. The gunman is believed to have been a former student of the school.”
German commentators pointed out that no country seems to be safe from these horrendous acts. Early reports stated that the murderer targeted mainly young female students and that he suffered from depression. There has been no evidence so far that he was in any way connected to terrorists or neo-Nazis.
From Reuters, March 11, 2009:
“U.S. authorities trying to piece together why a man killed 10 people in the worst rampage in Alabama’s history focused on Wednesday on the grudges that he bore.”
USA, March 11, 2009, adds these details of the murderous crimes:
“Alabama authorities say the gunman who killed 10 people, including five members of this family, was armed with two assault rifles and a .38-caliber pistol. They say he fired more than 200 rounds in his crime spree Tuesday afternoon.
“According to authorities, the suspect, Michael McLendon, killed his mother in Kinston, Ala., then drove to the town of Samson and killed four more relatives and two others. Finally, he went on a general shooting spree in the town, the Associated Press reports. The victims included the wife and child of a local sheriff’s deputy. McLendon then killed himself.”
Northern Ireland Sees Return to Sectarian Violence!
From the Christian Science Monitor, March 8, 2009:
“Police believe dissident Irish nationalists attempting to smash the decade-old peace in Northern Ireland might have been behind the shooting deaths Saturday night of two British soldiers.
“The soldiers were killed in a drive-by shooting at Massereene Army base in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Four others, including two pizza delivery men, were injured when gunmen opened fire. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police are blaming dissident Irish republicans.”
Grim Financial News!
On March 8, 2009, a World Bank report was summarized in the Washington Post:
“Developing nations are facing a massive financing shortfall of up to $700 billion this year as private investment evaporates and global trade collapses, threatening to return many countries to the days of heavy reliance on foreign aid, the World Bank warned yesterday…
“The World Bank predicted that the global economy will shrink this year for the first time since World War II, a prognosis more dire than that of almost any private investment house. Its report underscored what many are calling a mounting crisis within a crisis, as the downturn that started in the wealthy nations of the West washes over developing countries through a pullback in investment, trade and credit…
“Falling demand in the West is sparking the sharpest drop in world trade in 80 years, sending sales of the products and commodities of poorer nations spiraling down, the report said.”
Also reporting on the World Bank assessment, CNNMoney.com (March 9, 2009) stated:
“The world economy is on track to post its worst performance since the Great Depression, with developing countries bearing much of the economic pain, the World Bank said Monday.”
Bloomberg added on March 10:
“Billionaire Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. posted its worst results ever in 2008, said the economy ‘has fallen off a cliff’ and that efforts to stimulate recovery may lead to inflation higher than the 1970s.”
Mr. Obama to “Restore Scientific INTEGRITY”???
MSNBC on March 9, 2009, wrote the following in its coverage of President Obama’s signing of a Presidential executive order:
“Before an East Room audience of doctors, scientists, lawmakers and religious leaders President Obama signed an executive order Monday lifting the ban on federal funding for stem cell research, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail.
“The order overturns the Bush policy that said no government money could be used for research on stem cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001.”
While only those opposed to the new directive took strong ethical and moral positions decrying both the destruction of human life and the potential for more and more erosion in anything based on religious views, the President seems ready to justify much in the name of science. The article adds these comments:
“The president also signed a memorandum that directs the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making. Obama spoke frequently on the campaign trail of the need to make sure public policy was based on sound science.
“’It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda,’” Obama said, “’and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.’”
Reuters added on March 10:
“After Obama signed the order on Monday, the Vatican and U.S. Church leaders condemned the move… Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on pro-life activities, called Obama’s decision ‘a sad victory of politics over science and ethics… This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested,’ he added.
“The Catholic Church, other religious groups and pro-life advocates oppose such research — which scientists hope can lead to cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — because it involves the destruction of embryos. The Catholic Church supports adult stem cell research, which has made advances in recent years, because it does not involve the destruction of embryos.”
Jerusalem Stays Center Stage!
The Guardian reported on March 7:
“A confidential EU report accuses the Israeli government of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank barrier as a way of ‘actively pursuing the illegal annexation’ of East Jerusalem.
“The document says Israel has accelerated its plans for East Jerusalem, and is undermining the Palestinian Authority’s credibility and weakening support for peace talks. ‘Israel’s actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making,’ says the document, EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem.”
The Guardian article added this comment about the European Union’s view:
“The EU report goes further, saying that the demolitions are ‘illegal under international law, serve no obvious purpose, have severe humanitarian effects, and fuel bitterness and extremism.’ The EU raised its concern in a formal diplomatic representation on December 1, it says…
“However, the EU says the fourth Geneva convention prevents an occupying power extending its jurisdiction to occupied territory. Israel occupied the east of the city in the 1967 six day war and later annexed it. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.”
This report comes as the new American Administration has called for a two-state solution for the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Pope to Visit Israel
As reported in the Jerusalem Post on May 8, 2009, “Pope Benedict XVI will visit Israel between May 8 and 15, the leader of the Catholic church confirmed in Sunday’s mass at St. Peter’s in the Vatican.”
Israeli president Shimon Peres was quoted in the article:
“’I am delighted that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has responded positively and accepted my invitation to visit the Holy Land. The pope will be a most honored guest, welcomed and respected by people from all walks of life. His visit will be a moving and important event bringing the spirit of peace and hope. Welcome to Israel.’”
Beyond the historic significance of such a papal visit at this time of turmoil in the Middle East, the specific sites chosen for the Pope’s tour hold prophetic overtones, and the article states:
“The pope is expected to tour sites in Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, and in the Center and North. Large numbers of police will be assigned to secure these areas. He will also visit sites in the Palestinian Authority.”
Iran’s Military Threat Grows!
The Jerusalem Post wrote on March 8, 2009, about the successful test-firing of a new generation of long range missiles.
“Last Wednesday, a senior Teheran official announced that Iranian missiles can reach Israeli nuclear sites.
“’All the nuclear facilities in different parts of the land under the occupation of the Zionist regime are in the reach of Iran’s missile defenses,’ Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic republic’s Revolutionary Guards, was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying.”
Also reporting about this latest development, Fox News on March 8, stated:
“Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles have a range of up to 1,250 miles, putting Israel within striking distance.”
What is your position regarding the "Apostles' Creed"?
We do not consider the “Apostles’ Creed” as inspired–neither in the form used by the Roman Catholic Church, nor in its numerous variations used by Protestant churches. Some claim that the “Apostles’ Creed” is the oldest of all the Christian creeds. It is considered the basis of all other creeds in non-Catholic churches. As fairy tales would have it, some allege that each of the apostles supplied one article to the Creed. This claim is totally without merit. The apostles had nothing to do with formulating this Creed.
In “The Lost Books of the Bible,” the following is explained:
“Mr. Justice Bailey says [in Mr. Justice Bailey’s Common Prayers, 1813]: ‘It is not to be understood that this Creed was framed by the Apostles, or indeed that it existed as a Creed in their time,’ and after giving the Creed as it existed in the year 600… he says, ‘how long this form had existed before the year 600 is not exactly known…’ The most important ‘addition,’ since the year of Christ 600, is that which affirms, that Christ ‘descended into hell.’ This has been proved… to have been an invention… after the time of Eusebius.”
The Cambridge Encyclopedia, Volume 6, explains that the Apostles’ Creed is “a statement of Christian faith widely used in Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches, and recognized by the Orthodox Churches. It stresses the trinitarian nature of God (as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)… In its present form, it dates from the 8th [century] but its origins go back to the 3rd [century].”
The encyclopedia continues:
“Many Lutheran sources label the Apostles’ Creed as ecumenical since the essential tenets of the creed are held in common by all Christians, though its practical use appears to be limited to Churches whose rituals are derived from the Latin rite (i.e. The Apostles’ Creed holds a special place in Roman Catholic tradition as the ‘ancient Baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome’)…
“Many hypotheses exist concerning the date and nature of the origin of the Apostles’ Creed. The earliest known concrete historical evidence of the creed’s existence as it is currently titled (Symbolum Apostolicum) is a letter of the Council of Milan (390) to Pope Siricius…”
In its present form, the Apostles’ Creed, as used by the Roman Catholic Church, reads as follows:
“I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to hell.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit [or Holy Ghost],
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.”
As mentioned, this Creed, as used by the Catholic Church, is not substantially different from the versions of many of the Protestant churches. It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including Lutheranism, the Anglican Communion, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and many Baptists.
Most even use the term “catholic” in the phrase, “I believe in the… holy catholic Church,” with the exception of a few Lutheran churches, especially those in Germany, which have replaced the word “catholic” with “Christian.” Those who have maintained the word “catholic” in their version of the Creed claim that it just means “universal.”
The doctrinal problems with the “Apostles’ Creed” are numerous.
First of all, it clearly suggests the belief in the Trinity–a belief which is a human invention and which cannot be found in the Holy Scriptures. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is God a Trinity?”
It also suggests that Christ went to “hell,” while He was dead and in the grave for three days and three nights, apparently, so it is said, to preach to demons. This concept is false–Christ had NO CONSCIOUSNESS while in the grave, and He did not go anywhere. For more information, please read pages 26-28 of our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”
Another wrong or at least misleading concept is expressed in the term, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” Those who have died will not be resurrected with the same body they had. THAT body has long decayed. Those in the FIRST resurrection–who died “in Christ”–will be resurrected to immortal spirit life. Their physical body will not be resurrected at all. Those who died without having known and accepted the truth, will be resurrected in the SECOND resurrection to a physical life–but it will not be a resurrection of their physical bodies which they had when they died, and which since that time had long decayed. For more information, please read our Q&A on the resurrection of the body.
The statement that we believe in the resurrection of the body is not in accordance with Biblical teaching. For the exact nature of CHRIST’s resurrection, please read the above-mentioned Q&A on the resurrection.
Rather than following human attempts to create an “Apostolic Creed,” you might want to review our Statement of Beliefs, summarizing the essential doctrines of the Bible which Christians should believe in and adhere to.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new member letter has been written reporting on the recent Church Conference held on the dates of February 25-March 3, 2009, in San Diego, California. This letter will be sent to those on our mailing list in the next few days.
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
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