Update 538


Moving Forward

On April 28, 2012, Michael Link will give the sermon, titled, “Moving Forward.”

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.

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“From Day to Day”

by Dave Harris

Sodom and Gomorrah occupy an infamous place in history. For their vile wickedness and the shameless sins they committed, God brought about their complete destruction.

These two cities became what they were through a process of time. Much like the rise and fall of great nations and empires, a kind of rottenness began to take hold until it just went too far.

Lot lived in Sodom, and Peter writes of him that he “was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)” (2 Peter 2:7-8).

We who desire to live as godly examples in the world of the ungodly are also “oppressed” and “tormented” by what we see and hear! We know that our times are perilous and filled with unspeakable lawlessness: In the Western Nations, such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and those of Europe, racial hatred gives way to murder; homosexuality and lesbianism are pushed in the media and through legislative acts as acceptable and normal, families are being shattered through divorce; abortions are commonplace; God is not honored—His Name is a vile expletive among youth and adults, nor are His laws known or obeyed; and the list of corruptions and pollutions of this world seems endless!

Things are getting worse—everything!

Just as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, so sin will reach its full measure, and God will intervene. However, in the meantime, we face a challenge that has confronted every person who has sought to live a righteous life. Paul addresses this:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Philippians 2:14-16).

For all the evil that we see and hear about every day of our lives, and although we sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done, we look forward—with ever-increasing hope—to the return of Jesus Christ and the part we will have with Him in the Kingdom of God (and that also, “from day to day”)!

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From Asia, Europe and Africa, war and the mad race to build more armaments take center stage in our reporting; immigration issues lie behind the call for new border controls in the EU; far right extremist parties influence the French elections and austerity measures tople the Dutch government; Britain suffers more recession woes; Israel entrenches its hold in settlements; and we conclude with a report about the sale of a Latin copy of the Book of John, which dates from the seventh century A.D.

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Asia: An Arms Race Develops

Spiegel Online wrote on April 20, 2012:

“India added itself to the short list of nuclear-armed countries with ballistic missile capability on Thursday. More importantly, though, the country’s successful test marks a new chapter in the developing Asian arms race. German commentators express deep concern on Friday.

“Asia’s military might appears to be growing by leaps and bounds these days. Just last month, China announced a significant increase to its military spending. Since then, North Korea attempted (and failed) to launch a rocket into space, the United States began a joint military exercise with the Philippines and, on Thursday, South Korea tested a missile whose range includes all of North Korea.

“The biggest headlines, however, have been reserved for India’s testing on Thursday of a long-range ballistic missile. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised the successful launch, saying it was ‘another milestone’ in India’s ‘quest for security, preparedness and to explore the frontiers of science.’ Many observers, however, noted that it furthered India’s goal of becoming a counterweight to China’s military dominance in the region…

“Most attention, though, was focused on what appear to be Indian efforts to both catch up to China militarily and to underline its supremacy over neighboring Pakistan, which also has nuclear weapons. Only recently, India ordered 126 fighter jets from the French firm Dassault, one of the biggest arms deals in the recent past. Furthermore, New Delhi has purchased nuclear submarines from Russia and is seeking to modernize its tank fleet. In 2011, the country was the world’s biggest purchaser of arms.”

Africa: Fighting for Oil

German-Foreign-Policy.com published the following on April 26, 2012:

“South Sudan, which, with German support, seceded from Sudan, is provoking a new war. A few days ago, troops from the South Sudanese regime in Juba occupied an oil field, belonging, according to a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, to Khartoum. The oil field accounting for about half of Sudan’s total oil production is vital, because the country has already lost approx. three-quarters of its oil reserves to secessionist South Sudan. Khartoum is counter-attacking to retake control of the oilfield. The fighting threatens to escalate into full-scale warfare. This is significant for Germany, not only because German soldiers are stationed in South Sudan, but also because Berlin, for years, has been pushing to establish a functioning South Sudanese state. The objective is to also link South Sudan, with its enormous deposits of oil and other natural resources, to Kenya and Uganda, which, unlike Sudan, are considered fundamentally pro-western and easier to control.”

Europe: Unifying Its Defense Capabilities

UPI.com wrote on April 20, 2012:

“The European Defense Agency is pushing cooperation among EU members with a series of projects and exercises.
“The agency reports an event focusing on energy and the environment will be in June in Brussels. Military Green 2012 will showcase high level visions on policy beyond 2020 and its impact on defense and crisis management.
“Also in June, the agency will host a land systems workshop at the Eurosatory trade show in France in which procurement options will be explored to give the EDA member states maximum procurement capabilities.
“The European Defense Agency is also leading three major multinational aerial exercises this year for rotary assets: Hot Blade 2012 in Portugal in July and Green Blade 2012 in Belgium in September.
“Its first fixed-wing training exercise for transport forces is being staged in Spain in June.
“The EDU was established in 2004 by the European Union to improve the defense capabilities of member states, promote and enhance cooperation in armaments, and strengthen the continent’s defense industrial base.”

As we have been reporting, the European Union is taking small, if difficult, steps toward a stronger military. In numerous ways, the military and political might of the EU is emerging. The Bible offers many details about what is about to happen as these nations do ultimately unify as the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire. Our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy – The Unfolding of End-Time Events,” along with “Germany in Prophecy,” are available at www.eternalgod.org.

EU: National Border Controls Sought

The Telegraph reported on April 20, 2012:

“Germany and France are seeking to curb free movement in Europe by demanding the right to reintroduce unilateral border controls to stem the flow of illegal immigrants entering the European Union.

“Berlin has backed a French campaign to give members of the EU’s borderless zone the power to carry out controls on their frontiers when there are influxes of immigrants via weakly policed borders in countries such as Greece.
“Passport-free travel within Europe’s ‘Schengen area’, which does not include Britain and Ireland, is regarded as a major achievement.
“But what applies to European travellers also applies to illegal immigrants, allowing them entry to any EU country without showing identity papers.
“Following demands by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and during an election where immigration is a major issue, Germany is now supporting a ‘non-negotiable’ right to start national border controls if a country identifies an ‘exceptional’ frontier problem.
“’If the operation of the Schengen area is compromised, the other member states must have, ultimately, the possibility of reintroducing checks at internal borders for a period not exceeding 30 days,’ said a letter signed by the German and French interiors ministers and leaked yesterday…

“The EU’s passport-free travel zone has been under unprecedented pressure since April last year after Italy gave residence permits to more than 25,000 Arab migrants, allowing them unfettered access to the rest of the continent…

“In March, Britain joined Germany, France, Austria, Holland, Belgium and Sweden to demand EU intervention to plug a hole that is allowing illegal immigration via Greece into the rest of Europe. The Franco-German demand for new controls does not specifically mention Greece but diplomats said Athens was the main concern, especially as European funding was given to the Greeks for border checks.”

French Elections Reveal Far Right Influence

CNN.com wrote on April 25, 2012:

“The success of France’s anti-euro National Front party in the first round of the country’s presidential elections thrust the far right into the headlines.
“A day later in the Netherlands, the refusal of the far-right Freedom Party to back austerity measures led the Dutch government to collapse.
“Two very different scenarios, but with a common thread: the efforts of extremist parties to win support by plugging into popular discontent over the financial crisis, against the backdrop of a wider social unease and anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Across Europe, anger at a perceived mismanagement of the economic crisis, and accompanying high unemployment, low growth and painful cuts, has seen the fall of half a dozen governments.
“Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Finland and Italy are among them — and unless President Nicolas Sarkozy pulls a victory out of the bag in the second round of voting on May 6, France may be the next to see power change hands, this time in a shift to the left…

“Europe’s far-right parties are definitely seeing a resurgence, according to Dr. Matthew Feldman, director of the Radicalism and New Media Research Group at the University of Northampton, but the austerity crisis is only one part of the picture.
“He says the far right movement has been gaining ground for years, thanks partly to efforts to revamp its previously overtly racist and fascist image.
“This doesn’t mean that those racist or Nazi-sympathizing elements don’t still exist within different countries’ far right groups, he said, but those at the top have often learned to present a more acceptable public face.
“Instead of open racial attacks, they play up a threat to national identity and criticize multiculturalism, Feldman said…

“Dr. Michael Minkenberg, a professor of political science at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) who has also taught at New York, Cornell and Columbia universities, said concern over immigration, law and order ‘and the feeling that things aren’t what they used to be any more’ are at the heart of support for Europe’s radical right.
“Euroscepticism, as resistance to greater European political integration is known, is also on the increase, he said, and ‘there’s this anxiety about what will happen, a growing complexity and not much reassurance from either national governments or the European Union.’
“Coupled with a mistrust of the political elite, this has also led to a swell of support for the far right in Austria, Belgium and Scandinavian countries, Minkenberg said…

“Farther east, a different strand of far-right thinking dominates in countries like Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, he said. There, far-right groups poll around 10% but tend to be more nationalistic in tone, he said, with anti-Semitism and anti-Roma views seen as more legitimate there than elsewhere in Europe.”

Britain’s Economy Staggers

BBC News wrote on April 25, 2012:

“The UK economy has returned to recession, after shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012.

“A sharp fall in construction output was behind the surprise contraction, the Office for National Statistics said.

“A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. The economy shrank by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

“BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders says it ‘adds to the picture that the economy is bumping along the bottom’.

“She said economic output was slightly smaller now than it was in the autumn of 2010.”

Israel: The World Watches

The Los Angeles Times wrote on April 24, 2012:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his Cabinet has decided to retroactively legalize three West Bank outposts that previous governments had conceded were built without permission, marking the first step toward what critics fear will become Israel’s first official new settlements since 1990.
“The decision late Monday by a Cabinet committee begins a long administrative process to authorize the small settlements of Rehalim, Sansana and Bruchin.
“The move infuriated Palestinians and frustrated the international community, which has been pushing Israel to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and refrain from taking actions that might hinder efforts to restart peace talks.
“Government officials said it was inaccurate to characterize the legalization process as establishing new settlements, noting that the three outposts were founded in the 1990s, reportedly with the government’s blessing. Officials said the outposts lack only certain technical authorizations and planning permits, which now will be given.

“‘This decision does not change the reality on the ground whatsoever,” said a government official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. ‘It does not establish new settlements or expand existing ones.'”

Little that happens in the State of Israel goes unnoticed by the world at large. Israel–and especially Jerusalem–remain a focus in the news. What is happening in this area of the Middle East is also central to many prophecies in the Bible! Our booklet, “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today!,” offers real insight into the future of this troubled land.

The Book of John

Time.com reported on April 16, 2012:

“The British Library has paid 9 million pounds (US$14.3 million) to acquire the St. Cuthbert Gospel, a remarkably well-preserved survivor of seventh-century Britain described by the library as the oldest European book to survive fully intact.

“The palm-sized book, a manuscript copy of the Gospel of John in Latin, was bought from the British branch of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), the library said Tuesday.

“The book measures 96 mm (3.8 inches) by 136 mm (5.4 inches) and has an elaborately tooled red leather cover. It comes from the time of St. Cuthbert, who died in 687, and it was discovered inside his coffin when it was opened in 1104 at Durham Cathedral.

“The British Library said the artifact is one of the world’s most important books.

“‘To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the Anglo-Saxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the seventh century would have seen it,’ said the library’s chief executive, Lynne Brindley.

“‘The exquisite binding, the pages, even the sewing structure survive intact, offering us a direct connection with our forebears 1300 years ago,’ she added.

“Cuthbert’s coffin arrived in Durham after monks had removed it from the island of Lindisfarne, 330 miles (530 kilometers) north of London, to protect the remains from Viking raiders in the ninth and 10th centuries.”

While this is a remarkable example of the preservation of one of the books of the Bible, the even more astounding truth is that God has caused His entire Word, the Holy Bible, to be preserved throughout generations, centuries and millennia. Our booklet, “The Authority of the Bible,” presents proof that the Bible is and remains to be the inspired Word of God!

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Do certain biblical passages tell us that we go to heaven when we die?

As we explained in the previous Q&A, the Bible teaches nowhere that we ascend to God’s third heaven after we die. Some insist on the opposite, quoting a few passages which supposedly support their belief in an afterlife in heaven after death.

One of those passages is Philippians 1:23-24.  They claim that Paul said that he wanted to die, depart from this earth and be with Christ in heaven. The Nelson Study Bible interprets the passage to mean that “he wanted to go right away to heaven and be with Christ.”

But Paul did not say that he wanted to be with Christ in heaven.

As we explain in our free booklet, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians,” Paul did not believe that he would join Christ in heaven. Paul raised the thought that it would be better for him to depart from this life and this physical mortal body, by falling asleep at the time of his death. He concluded, however, that it was better for the church’s sake to keep on living for a while.

He knew that once he died, he would be in the grave in an unconscious state until the resurrection from the dead at the time of Christ’s return to the earth. He knew that this would occur when the seventh or last trumpet would be blown (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

He knew that at that time, he would be resurrected to immortality–but he also knew that for him, his resurrection would be within the next split second of his consciousness. He was aware and taught that he would die, and within the next split second of his consciousness–within a moment or the twinkling of an eye–he would be raised and always be with the returning Christ—not in heaven, but here on earth.

A similar passage, which is often misused to justify the unbiblical belief in life after death in heaven, is 2 Timothy 4:6. Paul says that he knew that his departure was at hand. Again, some claim that he was thinking that he would die soon, depart from the earth and ascend to heaven.

But Paul does not mention heaven. He says that he is going to depart soon. The Broadman Bible Commentary explains that this is just a metaphor for death. And reading on, Paul says in verse 8 that Christ will give Paul his crown of righteousness “at that day” of His “appearing.” Again, Paul is referring to his “departure” from this life, in anticipation of his resurrection to immortality at the time of Christ’s return, when he would also be honored with an incorruptible crown.

Perhaps one of the most often quoted passages for the erroneous teaching of life after death in heaven can be found in John 14:1-4. In that passage, Christ informs us that in His Father’s house, there are many mansions; that He was going to prepare a place for His disciples; and that He would come again to receive them “where I am.”

Those who teach life after death in heaven omit to mention the fact that Christ spoke about His return to the earth. They only focus on His statement that in His Father’s house there were many mansions and that He went to prepare a place for the disciples in His Father’s house, assuming that He was speaking of a dwelling place for His disciples in His Father’s house in heaven.

First, let us understand what Christ meant with “many mansions” in His Father’s house. The Greek word for mansion, “mone,” means a room, a place of staying, an abode, a chamber. It is only used one more time in the New Testament, in John 14:23, where it is rendered as “home” or “abode.” Christ said that the Father and Christ will make their home or abode with a disciple who loves Christ and keeps His words.

“The Father’s house” could refer to the physical temple of God in Jerusalem, with which Christ’s disciples were of course very familiar, and which was called the holy place in Acts 21:28. In John 2:14-16, Christ expressly referred to the physical temple in Jerusalem as “My Father’s house.” Compare Isaiah 56:7.

In the future, Christ will rule from Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David, and as Ezekiel 40-48 informs us, there will again be a temple in Jerusalem. God’s temple had and will have chambers (Jeremiah 35:2; Ezekiel 42:1), which are lodging places. A “chamber” can also refer to a bridal canopy (Psalm 19:5).

Jeremiah 35:2 tells us that there were different chambers for people with different positions or responsibilities. Some chambers were situated above other chambers—showing the hierarchical structure of positions within the temple of God. Each chamber designated the residence or position or office, where the resident could be a doorkeeper or a prince. David said that he would love to be a doorkeeper, as long as he could be in God’s temple.

Christ told the church in Philadelphia that its members would become pillars in the temple of God, and they would go out no more (Revelation 3:12). That is, they would always be in God’s temple, being a part of it and connected with it. The Church of God is called the temple of God, and it is also the Bride of Christ.

Christ is using figurative language to say that His disciples would always be part of His Father’s house—they would never be disassociated from the Father.  He said that while He was in heaven, functioning as their Mediator and High Priest, He was preparing a place for them—that is, He would prepare individual positions of responsibility for each of His disciples, depending on their works (Revelation 22:12). But they all would be in God’s Kingdom (Matthew 25:34)—part of the Family of God and the Bride having made herself ready—born-again members of God’s spiritual Temple.

But Christ did not say that after He had prepared a place of rulership and responsibility for His disciples in God’s Kingdom and Family, He would receive them up there in heaven. Quite to the contrary, He said that He would return or come again and receive them to Himself, “that where I am, you may be also.”

When Christ spoke these words, He was here on earth—not in heaven.  And when He returns to this earth to establish God’s rule and kingdom over all of mankind, His disciples will be with Him here on earth also—in the Kingdom of God—ruling under Christ in their respective functions and positions as kings and priests over ten cities or five cities or two cities—which fact is signified by the different chambers in the Father’s house.

None of the Scriptures quoted above tell us that the dead will go to heaven when they die.

(To Be Continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Pentecost will be observed on Sunday, May 27, 2012, with morning and afternoon servies.

A reminder for those wishing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us for 2012–please review details posted on our website under the “FEASTS” heading. Our locations for this year are Pismo Beach, California, and Deganwy, North Wales.

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In the Small Things

by Louise Amorelli

Each day, I just barely manage to get out of bed. As most of you know, I struggle with health conditions which bring extreme chronic fatigue, pain, flu like symptoms, and brain fog.  Since these ailments are at the forefront of my life and have taken such a huge toll on my husband and me, I tend to gravitate towards this facet of my being. I continually search how I need to learn, grow and bear Godly fruit through this health trial that God has allowed.   I would like to share what I think is the most important lesson I have learned which sums up all the others. In just a few words… “it’s the small things that matter most.”

Since I am in the minority, I tend to look intently (and with yearning) at those who work and have good jobs (since I am unable to work), to those who have limitless energy, and to those who are able to multitask with boundless activities and accomplishments.  I was once this type of person!  As I am not currently able to achieve many, if not any, of those undertakings, I have to refocus my attention on the small tasks at hand that on the surface seem so small, insignificant and routine; on tasks that might seem so effortless to others, but a personal arduous mountain climb for me, such as making a meal, driving or even a return phone call.

In studying God’s Word, I have learned that God looks at the small things in our lives and that gives me tremendous hope and encouragement with each new day. This theme that God is interested “in the small things” is found throughout the pages of the Bible. God watches how I seek Him in my small daily mundane chores, fully depending on Him to get me through the day. God watches how I handle the struggles and the trials. He observes how I utilize the fruit of His Spirit, while working on having a good attitude towards Him and others in the world who might not understand the daily challenges I deal with and misjudge me. I hope and pray that I can shine God’s light of longsuffering towards others in this regard as a witness to God’s way of life.

Knowing that it is God who will judge me mightily and righteously in the small things gives me hope for the big things…such as building Godly character and being a member of the God Family! That surely is not a small thing!

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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:

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