|Live Services||Books of the Bible – Part 2|
|Editorial||"A Season To Be Jolly"|
|Q&A||Q: Would you please explain Leviticus 19:17?|
Books of the Bible – Part 2
This Sabbath, Norbert Link will continue his series on the Books of the Bible, Part 2.
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
"A Season To Be Jolly"
by Rene Messier (Canada)
In a few weeks, the Christian Western world, and even a few other non-Christian countries, will be celebrating Christmas, supposedly observing the birth of Jesus Christ. Those who have looked into the origin of Christmas will tell you that it is rooted in paganism and that Christ was not born on December 25, nor anywhere near that date. Most, however, although they know these well-established facts, will still advocate the observance of Christmas, anyway.
Christ’s own words were, in addressing the ministry, “You shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16). This basic principal can also be applied to religious practices. Why use such a criteria?
When Christ spoke these words, He addressed an agrarian society familiar with the growing of plants, trees and gardens. A tree may look healthy and the leaves may look good, but it is only when you taste the fruit — the end product — that you can determine how good the tree really is. Using this method, let’s look at the fruits of Christmas, based upon what we DID observe in years past, and what we WILL experience this year:
We will observe an increase of road checks for people who drink and drive during the holiday season. We will observe an increase in the consumption of alcohol at this time, causing an increase in motor vehicle accidents and deaths.
We will observe an increase of family arguments as a result of over-drinking — with old hurts and offenses coming to the surface.
We will observe people going into debt because of the commercial and social pressure to buy gifts, including expensive gifts they cannot really afford. Others will be disappointed with their gifts; still others will feel they should have gotten more presents.
A recent survey in Canada showed over 50% of nine-year olds, over 40% of ten-year olds, and about 33% of eleven-year olds believe in the myths of Santa Claus. Once they get older and find out the true nature of this invention, is it any wonder that they will not trust those who have been lying to them for over a decade?
After all, the lie of Christmas, Santa Claus, the little Christ Child bringing presents, and all the other accompanying myths had been propagated to them by those they had trusted most – their parents, family and friends (For more information on the subject of Christmas, please read or re-read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”).
The real tragedy of all of this is, that the observance of Christmas with all its paganism attached to it takes away from the worship of the true God. We are never commanded to keep Christmas, and we know for a fact that Christ and the Apostles never kept it. We are admonished not to add to, nor take away from what is commanded by God (Deuteronomy 4:2). Sadly, man has mostly rejected this admonition.
There is a time coming soon when all pagan holidays, including Christmas, will be abolished by the returning Jesus Christ. Then, the world will learn to keep those weekly and annual Holy Days that God established and tells us about in the Bible. Keeping these days will leave no bitter after taste, remorse or guilt. Rather, it will leave one with a sense of joy and true satisfaction, knowing that these days are biblically commanded and sanctioned by ALMIGHTY GOD.
This Week in the News
NEW VISION OF EU CONSTITUTION
As “Deutsche Welle” reported on December 5, the EU Commission President, Romano Prodi, has laid out his vision for a federalist constitution of the European Union, calling for greater centralization of the power in Brussels. Among the primary proposals is a call for the abolition of the right to veto held by member states. Prodi also rejected calls for a democratically elected European President, as had been recently proposed by Giscard d’Estaing, and instead suggested that the Commission president should be elected by a two-thirds majority in European parliament. He is also calling for the creation of a single, powerful EU foreign minister who would be given more power, telling parliament that “national leaders should act on their commitment to make Europe a superpower.” “Deutsche Welle” stated that Prodi’s plans will most likely create conflict with Britain, France, and Spain, but will be supported by Germany and many of the smaller EU states. According to EurActiv.com, especially the “idea of concentrating foreign policy issues in the hands of the unelected Commission [through the establishment of a European foreign minister] is appealing to Germany.”
Germany and France will present joint proposals on the future of the EU in January of 2003.The new Constitution could be finally approved, according to EurActiv.com, in “December 2003, at the Rome Summit, in time for the planned enlargement in 2004.”
INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER
As we previously announced in these weekly Updates, Pope John Paul II approved the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, formerly called the Inquisition, as the new dean of the College of Cardinals. The election had been carried out by a group of cardinals at the Vatican — those who belong to the Order of Bishops.
While in Spain, Ratzinger gave an interview to Zenit on December 1 – 4. We are quoting excerpts from the interview, starting with some very good comments:
“Christ is totally different from all the founders of other religions, and he cannot be reduced to a Buddha, a Socrates or a Confucius. He is really the bridge between heaven and earth, the light of truth who has appeared to us…”
When asked about the difference between transcendental meditation and Christian meditation [NOTE: You might want to read, in this context, our article on “Biblical Meditation, a Forgotten Art”], he stated:
“… transcendental meditation is impersonal and, in this sense, ‘depersonalizing.’ … Man divests himself of his own ‘I.’… Christian meditation, meanwhile, is ‘personalizing’ and opens to a profound union that is born of love and not of the dissolution of the ‘I.'”
Ratzinger made also some profound comments about the difficulty to develop a dialogue between science and religion:
“One of these academics — he was a specialist in human brain research — said, There are two irreconcilable worlds; on the one hand we have the exact sciences for which, in their field, there is no freedom, there is no presence of the spirit and, on the other hand, I realize that I am a man and that I am free. Therefore, according to him, they are two different worlds — and we do not have the possibility to reconcile these two perceptions of the world. He himself acknowledged that he believed in the two worlds: in science that denies freedom, and in his experience of being a free man. However, we cannot live in this way; it would be permanent schizophrenia.”
When asked about the internal problems within the Catholic Church, he first suggested that a campaign is under way against the church, especially in the press of the United States. He said, “One comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church…. In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1 % of priests are guilty of acts of this type.”
Later, in a different context, he made some interesting observations regarding internal problem solving. We feel that his comments are very valid, if we apply them to the greater Sabbath-keeping Church of God community and to our commission and responsibility towards the world that we live in:
“We always work on our internal problems and we do not realize that the world is in need of answers. It does not know how to live. The world’s inability to live properly is seen in drugs, terrorism, etc. Therefore, the world is thirsty for answers — and we remain with our problems. I am convinced that if we go out to meet others, and we present the Gospel to them in an appropriate way [Note: It has to be, of course, the true Gospel of the kingdom of God, that Jesus Christ preached. For more information, read our free booklet on the “Gospel of the Kingdom of God”], even our internal problems will be relativized and resolved. This is a fundamental point: We must make the Gospel accessible to today’s secularized world.”
We conclude with some very interesting remarks, judged based on prophecy and the biblical truth. When asked about the future of Europe, he stated:
“I am convinced that Europe must not just be something economic [or] political; rather, it is in need of spiritual foundations. It is a historical fact that Europe is Christian, and that it has grown on the foundation of the Christian faith [meaning, of course, the Roman Catholic faith], which continues to be the foundation of the values for this continent [including, of course, the celebration of Sunday, Christmas or Easter, and the rejection of the so-called “Jewish” Sabbath or annual Holy Days], which in turn has influenced other continents… This is why it is imperative that in the future Constitution of Europe mention is made of the Christian foundations of Europe.”
U.S.–SLIPPING INTO DISFAVOR
In recent weeks and on the heels of America’s newly implemented doctrine of “first strike,” articles are surfacing depicting a sweeping and vocal disenchantment with things associated with America. In an article from the Coloradoan dated 12/5/02, the following: “America’s global image has deteriorated sharply in the past two years, and U.S. citizens’ views on key world issues differ markedly from public attitudes in much of the rest of the world…”
The article adds, “Anti-American sentiment in most of the Muslim nations is profound. But the study revealed growing discontent, especially in the nations that know America best, over the United States’ ideas of democracy, its business practices, its perceived unilateralism and policies that are seen as increasing the global gap between rich and poor.”
In an accompanying article, more details of the report made by the Pew Global Attitudes Project appeared: “But ill will toward the United States also was found in supposedly friendly nations like Canada, Britain and Germany. ‘The biggest headline is the slipping image of the United States, not simply that we’re not liked in the Muslim world,’ said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.”
Again from the Coloradoan dated 12/10/02, the following headline: “Anti-American sentiment a major factor in South Korea election.”
The nations of continental Europe are also holding their breath, as President Bush has warned Iraq and other “hostile countries” that the United States is prepared to use “overwhelming force” — including nuclear weapons — in response to any chemical or biological attacks, according to USA Today, dated December 11. The threat was contained in a White House document. It has alarmed European allies and it has increased the fear of many Europeans of an outright nuclear world war ignited by the United States.
Bubbling slowly, at first, there is now a kind of spontaneous release of pent up jealousies, fears, and resentments towards many aspects of the world’s only current super power. As we move closer and closer to the fulfillment of the time of “Jacob’s trouble,” the American and British nations will become more and more a target for rejection, hatred and violence. Finally, God WILL allow the modern nations of the houses of Israel and Judah to reap the whirlwind they have created, and their national sins will be punished.
Q: Would you please explain Leviticus 19:17?
A: Leviticus 19:17 states, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.” Other translations render this, “…so that you do not share in his guilt,” or, “participate in his sin.”
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, ed. 1961, make the following insightful comments regarding this passage:
“Instead of cherishing latent feelings of malice or meditating purposes of revenge against a person who has committed an insult or injury against them, God’s people were taught to remonstrate with the offender and endeavor, by calm and kindly reason, to bring him to a sense of his fault.”
A similar admonition can be found in Jude 20-21: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”
When we perceive that a brother or a sister may be going astray, we might be in a position to help them. We should normally not do so, however, in front of others, but rather, we should speak to them alone (compare Matthew 18:15). At the same time, we ourselves must be “spiritual,” that is, we ourselves must be very close to God, before we can and should offer advice. Notice Galatians 6:1-2:
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
If we “rebuke,” or better, “reason” with a brother or a sister regarding a perceived sin or a trespass, and we are guilty of the same (compare Romans 2:21-23), or of worse things (compare Matthew 7:1-5), our advice will be of no value to our brother or sister. We need to first consider our own spiritual condition very carefully, before we proceed, with humility and gentleness, to give others advice as to how to overcome their sins.
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