Update 733


Let Him Eat the Bread and Drink of the Cup; Why Footwashing?

On April 16, 2016, Norbert Link will present the sermonette, titled, “Let Him Eat the Bread and Drink of the Cup,” and Brian Gale will present the sermon, titled, “Why Footwashing?”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

NOTICE: We will not publish the Update during the next two weeks due to our observing the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. Publication will resume on May 6, 2016.

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Fulfillment In All Things

by Kalon Mitchell

In a world full of distractions and endless ways to spend our time and energy, how do we use the time that we have each day? And even more importantly, how do we feel at the end of a day? Do we find ourselves fulfilled from ALL of our engagements? We touch so many people throughout a single day that we don’t always realize how we are impacting others. Colossians 3:23-24 points out that whatever we are doing, we are to do it “heartily” or with our entire heart. We are to be pouring out ourselves into what we do. And the amazing thing is that if we are doing this, God gives us the knowledge and understanding that we need to accomplish our tasks. But the important caveat is that we do it with our entire heart. If we half-heartedly approach every day, our jobs, people, anything really, how can we be fulfilled? How can we fill up others if we are half-hearted? How can we serve joyfully? Ephesians 6:6-8 admonishes us to serve “from the heart”—with good will. There is no room for back-biting, hate, ill-will, or anything negative.

How hard is it though to not complain when things go wrong? When we think that things should be different than what they are? When we think we are being treated unfairly or unkindly? How do we react? We would do better to keep in mind the words Solomon wrote down for us in Ecclesiastes 7:20-22. We must be careful with the attitudes and the thoughts that we allow ourselves to have. We must come to rely on God more and more for wisdom and understanding in ALL matters.

James 4:7-9 gives us the right ideas in this regard. We need to be submitting ourselves to God to fully understand how we can fulfill our days in the right ways. In verses 13-17, James goes on to admonish us that in the scheme of things, our lives are over so quickly. All our strivings and goals are in vain if they are not rightly ordained by God. He indeed sets our courses. When we go wrong and need adjustment, He makes corrections, as long as we are willing to accept them and get back on the right track.

So let us ask ourselves these questions:

How fulfilled do we find ourselves at the end of each day?

How willing are we to seek God and allow Him to lead?

As we approach the Passover, what can we take away from this short time we have left in examining ourselves? Ephesians 5:16 tells us that we should be “redeeming the time” by making the BEST use of our time, “because the days are evil.”

David had the right approach in Psalm 127:2. Even though our work may be heavy and burdensome, when we do it with God’s Will in mind, seeking what He wants, then we can go to bed at the end of the day and feel fulfilled because God will give us good rest. And He will recharge us for our continual fight each and every day. Psalm 90:12 says: “So teach us to number our days That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Let us allow Godly wisdom and understanding fill us up each day so that we may feel fulfilled and others may see that and be encouraged to follow our example.

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In this issue, we address terrible consequences of the use of atomic bombs and the dangerous aftermath of damaged nuclear reactors, pointing at biblical prophecies for the future.

We report about Poland’s troubled relationship with Russia and Russia’s ongoing provocations.

Focusing on Germany, we quote an alarming article claiming that the German army is infiltrated by Jihadist sympathizers; and we write about attempts to create an “Islam Law” which, if adopted, could become a precedence for extremely frightening developments regarding Germany’s religious minorities.

Turning to events in the USA, we continue with allegations and concerns that members of the Saudi government were behind the September 11 attacks; and report on an unbelievable admission of the IRS regarding illegal aliens.

We quote warnings of the IMF about a new worldwide financial crisis; and we conclude with Pope Francis’ confusing position on marriage and divorce and same sex relationships, in an unsatisfactory attempt to draw more people to the Catholic Church.

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No US Apology for Hiroshima

The Guardian wrote on April 10:

“John Kerry will not offer an apology for the United States’ use of the atomic bomb against Japan when he becomes the first US secretary of state to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum on Monday, a senior US official said. Kerry is visiting the city, which was obliterated by a US atomic bomb on 6 August 1945, to attend a gathering of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies that Japan opened on Sunday with a call to end nuclear weapons.

“The US diplomat is to join his counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan on Monday to tour the city’s atomic bomb museum and to lay flowers at a cenotaph for its victims, becoming the first in his post to do so. ‘If you are asking whether the secretary of state came to Hiroshima to apologise, the answer is no,’ a senior US official told reporters late on Sunday. ‘If you are asking whether the secretary and I think all Americans and all Japanese are filled with sorrow at the tragedies that befell so many of our countrymen, the answer is yes,’ the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added…

“The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima reduced the city to ashes and killed 140,000 people by the end of 1945. Hiroshima’s suffering is vividly displayed at the museum the ministers will tour, including their charred and torn clothes, a tricycle ridden by a three-year old boy who died from the blast and statues of the victims, their flesh melting from their arms. Three days after dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the US dropped one on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days later.”

The tragedy of war is perhaps best depicted by the horrific nuclear weapons used in World War II. Even though the Obama Administration has been criticized for their overreaching pattern of “apologies” for American conduct (even in situations where it was felt that apologies were unnecessary or counter-productive), many feel that in the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an apology for the suffering and death caused by atomic bombs to innocent victims would have been in order. The nightmarish future holds that the nuclear weapons used in the next World War will be unspeakably more catastrophic.

Poles Remove Red Army Monuments

Deutsche Welle wrote on April 13:

“Since 1989, Poles have removed hundreds of memorials erected after World War II thanking the Red Army for liberating Poland from the Nazis. But around 200 memorials still remain. Now, the government wants them gone.

“… the debate over the monuments is escalating. A few days ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Poles of desecrating many monuments and announced that he would take the necessary steps to ‘prevent such unacceptable policies.’ His spokeswoman even compared the methods used by the Poles to those of the so-called ‘Islamic State.’

“Warsaw has remained steadfast, however, saying it’s not talking about destroying cemeteries and gravestones. It simply wants Polish heroes on pedestals, not Russian ones…

In the long run, it appears very likely that Poland will distance itself more and more from Russia and it might even become an integral part of the core nations of Europe.

Russian Provocation?

ABC News reported on April 13:

“Russian fighter jets overflew a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea more than 30 times earlier this week, with one pass at 30 feet from the ship causing a wake in the waters nearby, a U.S. Defense Department official said today. The fighters ignored repeated communications from the American ship, and the ship’s captain has labeled the Russian overflights as ‘unsafe and unprofessional,’ the official said.

“On Monday and Tuesday, pairs of Russian SU-24 fighters overflew the destroyer USS Donald Cook at close range while it was in international waters in the Baltic Sea, 70 nautical miles off of Kaliningrad, Russia… On Monday, the destroyer was conducting flight operations with a Polish military helicopter that was conducting landing operations on the ship… A pair of unarmed Russian SU-24’s then ‘conducted a series of low passes over the ships, came within 1,000 yards and within 100 feet of altitude,’ the official said, noting that the aircraft eventually conducted twenty passes over the destroyer.

“As a result of the ongoing Russian overflights, the training operations with the Polish helicopter were suspended and the helicopter was kept on deck… On Tuesday, a Russian KA-27 ‘Helix’ helicopter circled the destroyer seven times taking photos of the ship… After several minutes, a pair of SU-24’s began the first of eleven passes over the ship that the Defense official characterized as ‘much more aggressive.’ ‘These were very low simulated attack profiles…’

“Russian overflights of U.S. Navy ships have occurred in international waters in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, though the incidents this week appear to be the closest overflights yet…”

Deutsche Welle added on April 14:

“Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the recent buzzing of a US Navy ship by Russian jets. Kerry warned the flyover ‘could have been a shoot-down’ under the rules of engagement… Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected US complaints about the flights over the destroyer.

“Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said Thursday that the pilots of Russian Su-24 jets saw the ship and turned back ‘while using all measures of precaution.’”

Russia’s response is as outrageous as its previous aggressive conduct, knowing that the USA will do nothing about it.

30 Years After Chernobyl

Der Stern wrote on April 10:

“A fox walks through the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor near the abandoned village of Babchin, Belarus, March 5, 2016… A radiation sign is seen in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the abandoned village of Dronki, Belarus, February 11, 2016… An elk runs in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, near the village of Babchin, Belarus, January 27, 2016… A tawny owl leaves a chimney in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the abandoned village of Kazhushki, Belarus, March 16, 2016… Ruined farm’s buildings are seen in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the abandoned village of Pogonnoe, Belarus, March 13, 2016.

“What happens to the environment when humans disappear? Thirty years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, booming populations of wolf, elk and other wildlife in the vast contaminated zone in Belarus and Ukraine provide a clue. On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the nuclear plant in Ukraine, then a Soviet republic, sent clouds of smouldering radioactive material across large swathes of Europe. Over 100,000 people had to abandon the area permanently, leaving native animals the sole occupants of a cross-border ‘exclusion zone’ roughly the size of Luxembourg.”

This reminds us of the prophesied destruction of the USA, the UK, Europe and other areas through nuclear war (Leviticus 26:31-35; Isaiah 14:23; 34:11-17; Zephaniah 2:13-15; Malachi 1:3).

Fears that German Army Is Riddled With Jihadist Sympathizers

The Daily Mail wrote on April 13:

“Up to 29 former German soldiers may have travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIS extremists, a report [by DPA] has claimed. A military counterintelligence review also said that 65 active German soldiers are being investigated over claims they are jihadist sympathisers.

“The country’s defence ministry is now proposing better screening of new recruits over fears Islamic extremists could be joining the Bundeswehr to get military training.”

Does Germany Need an Islam Law?

Deutsche Welle wrote on April 13:

“The sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU has called for stricter regulations of Islam in Germany. CSU General Secretary Andreas Scheuer laid out his proposals in an interview with German daily ‘Die Welt’… ‘German must become the language of the mosques,’ Scheuer said in the conversation that covered integration issues, among other topics.

“The CSU leader says Germany needs an Islam Law because certain political schools of Islam ‘prevent people from integrating’ in Germany.

“Scheuer has two main measures in mind for a potential new law. First, mosques, Islamic cultural centers and other Muslim institutions, like kindergartens, should not be allowed to take money from abroad anymore. The CSU hopes that this ban on foreign funding would stop the influence from countries like Saudi Arabia and other gulf states where a more radical form of Islam is the state religion.

“In the same vein comes Scheuer’s second proposition: all Imams who intend to work in Germany also need to be trained in Germany, in German, and ‘share our basic values,’ Scheuer said. He explained that he wanted these rules instated because it was ‘not acceptable that other value systems, some of them extremist, are imported from abroad.’…

“The conservatives’ suggestions are similar to Austria’s Islam law. The contentious paragraphs got a make-over in February 2015 to include a ban on foreign funding for Muslim associations and mosques. ‘The new version of the Austrian Islam law includes rules that spell an encroachment on Muslims’ religious self-determination,’ Germany’s Turkish Islamic Union (DITIB) said in a statement in March 2015… The general secretary of DITIB, which is one of the largest Muslim associations in Germany, remains very much against an Islam law of the kind proposed by the CSU. ‘It still violates the constitution,’ Bekir Alboga told DW. ‘It’s still discriminatory and it’s still populist.’…

“There are several Islam experts, however, who support Scheuer’s suggestions. One of them is Ralph Ghadban, a political scientist and expert on Islam. He says that stopping the inflow of foreign money could limit the influence of Islamist extremists. ‘The Islam of Saudi Arabia, for example, is pure Salafism and not conducive to integration at all,’ Ghadban told DW…  He also supports the training of Imams in Germany, as opposed to a rotation of Imams from abroad who only stay in their assigned mosques for a few years….

For DITIB, it’s not so much about the question of whether the CSU-proposed measures could be implicated, but about the fact that they perceive them as an infringement of their religious rights. They also say that Scheuer’s statement puts the CSU in one corner with groups on the right edge of Germany’s political spectrum, like the ‘Alternative for Germany’ (AfD)… The AfD had gone a step further than regulating training and funding. A group on the party’s right wing had included a ban on ‘building and using mosques’ in their proposal for the AfD party manifesto last month. They said that Islam wasn’t part of German culture and society and that mosques were places where unlawful teachings were spread.”

Even though the proposal of the CSU may appear to be reasonable at first glance, they do include dangerous aspects of an ongoing movement against ANY and ALL religious organizations which are not subservient to the two big Christian churches in Germany—the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church.

New German Integration Law a Historical Step?

Deutsche Welle reported on April 14:

“The governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) on Thursday hailed the new draft integration law agreed upon in Berlin earlier that day, with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel calling it a ‘historical step’ in the regulation of migrants arriving in Germany.

“Members of the three coalition partners spent hours discussing the first draft of the law, which will be formally voted on during a closed-door meeting on May 24. It’s a response to the wave of predominantly Muslim refugees, most of them from the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, who have been arriving in Germany…

“The draft law puts heavy emphasis on refugees’ participating in the workforce, although migrants without any intention to stay permanently in Germany will not be allowed to take part in the proposed work program. One of the quirks of the proposal is the creation of ‘one-euro jobs,’ in which refugees can work for a low wage (between 1 euro and 2.50 ($1.13-2.80) without it impacting their asylum support… the legislation also puts pressure on refugees to integrate by enacting penalties for those who don’t participate in the integration courses or make an effort to learn German…

“Integration has been the subject of an ongoing debate in Germany, where Turks – many of whom came to the country as so-called ‘guest workers’ in the 1960s and 1970s – form the largest ethnic minority. Some have criticized the apparent inability or willingness of Muslim migrants to integrate, with even Merkel declaring in 2010 that multiculturalism had ‘utterly failed.’… some have also pointed out the low education levels of many of the refugees living in Germany, pushing the government to enact new measures to help them compete in the work force.”

The poor use of the word “work force” has a bad taste in Germany, in light of this concept under Hitler. In addition, to compel immigrants to participate in a work force for extremely low pay does not appear to be a “workable” solution leading to joyful integration.

September 11—Who Was Behind It?

The Daily Mail wrote on April 13:

“President Obama will decide whether to declassify 28 pages of sealed documents that are rumored to expose Saudi Arabia’s connection to the 9/11 attacks… Former Florida senator Bob Graham said the White House made it clear to him that a decision on the secret files would be made in the next two months…

“The former senator has long campaigned for the documents to be declassified, but both the Bush and Obama administrations have argued doing so was a national security risk…

“There have long been questions over Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attacks, which left 2,977 innocent people dead after four passenger airliners were hijacked and crashed into both of the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

“Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were Saudi – as was al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid on his lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. Bin Laden was the son of a Saudi billionaire with close ties to the kingdom’s royal family…

“Graham added that he believes the terrorists were ‘substantially’ helped by the Saudi Arabian government, financiers and charities. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also called for the 28 pages to be declassified, saying that the refusal to do so was ‘a mistake’ as she added to the Democrats piling pressure on Obama.”

Incredible: “IRS Admits It Encourages Illegals To Steal Social Security Numbers For Taxes”

Forbes wrote on April 13:

“This isn’t exactly the kind of story the IRS wants buzzing around at tax time… The IRS actually wants illegal immigrants to illegally use Social Security numbers… IRS Commissioner John Koskinen made the surprising statement in response to a question from Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., at a Senate Finance Committee meeting… He suggested that as long as the information is being used only to fraudulently obtain jobs, the IRS was OK with it. In fact, he said that the IRS actually had an interest in helping the illegal immigrants to crook these rules…

“Of course, undocumented immigrants cannot legitimately get Social Security numbers, but it seems the IRS doesn’t care. Besides, they can file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number… They are not supposed to get the Earned Income Tax Credit, but they can receive the additional child tax credit. If the President succeeds in legitimizing the status of illegal immigrants, they could even get the Earned Income Tax Credit that is responsible for billions in fraudulent refunds.

“The recipe goes like this. First, get a Social Security number, then claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for the last three years. Then, wait for the IRS to send you three years of tax refunds. The gambit could apparently work even if you never paid taxes, never filed a return, and worked off the books…”

One must shake his or her head when reading this outrageously corrupt and blatantly unfair maneuvering.

IMF Issues Warning of New Worldwide Financial Crisis

The Telegraph wrote on April 13:

“The world is sleepwalking into a fresh crisis as investors start to lose faith in policymakers’ ability to revive the global economy, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“In its bluntest warning to date on the costs of policy inaction, the IMF said ‘financial and economic stagnation’ could take hold…

“José Viñals, the head of the IMF’s financial stability division, said… a $1.3 trillion (£912bn) corporate debt timebomb in China also posed ‘potentially serious challenges’ to financial stability if defaults pushed banks over the edge… Under this scenario, Stocks in the UK, US, eurozone and China would lose a fifth of their value over two years, it estimated…

“In China, the IMF called for an end to implicit subsides that allowed zombie companies to remain in business…”

Worldwide financial turbulences might very well contribute to the rise of a new powerful leader in Europe.

“Just War” or “Just Peace”?

Newsmax wrote on April 14:

“Participants at a Vatican conference have called for the Catholic Church to renounce its ‘just war’ theory and for Pope Francis to write an encyclical on nonviolence and ‘just peace.’

“Church teaching has long allowed for ‘just wars’ — the use of force to stop an unjust aggression — as long as certain conditions are met.

“But participants at a conference sponsored by the Vatican’s justice and peace office and Pax Cristi, the Catholic peace movement, said in a final communique Thursday that too often the doctrine had been used to justify and endorse military action rather than prevent it.

“They called for the church instead to develop a new peacemaking framework ‘consistent with Gospel nonviolence,’ and for Francis to articulate it all in a new encyclical.”

Pope Francis’ Confusing Position on Marriage and Divorce and Same Sex Relationships

CNN wrote on April 8:

“Pope Francis… urged priests around the world to be more accepting of gays and lesbians, divorced Catholics and other people living in what the church considers ‘irregular’ situations… He urges more common sense and less unthinking following of rules. ‘By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and growth,’ he writes.

“He emphasizes that ‘unjust discrimination’ against gays and lesbians is unacceptable, downplays the idea of ‘living in sin’ and suggests that priests should use their own discretion on whether divorced Catholics in new marriages can take Communion.

“The paper has much to please both liberals and conservatives, though it is unlikely to go far enough for either group within the church… It’s what’s called an ‘apostolic exhortation.’ That means it is an official statement from the Pope on how Catholics should live their lives. It’s the second exhortation Francis has issued since taking the throne of St. Peter, and the first based entirely on synods he summoned himself… James Martin [is] a Jesuit priest and writer who called the paper a ‘groundbreaking new document.’

“On divorced Catholics… the Pope writes: ‘The divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church… It can no longer simply be said that all those living in any “irregular situation” are living in a state of mortal sin.’

“Francis has pushed to make it easier for Catholic couples to get an annulment of their marriages. That allows them to continue to participate fully in church life if they remarry, including taking the sacrament of Communion. He does not say explicitly in Friday’s paper that divorced Catholics should be allowed to take Communion…

“The Pope does not change Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, marriage, birth control or abortion in the paper. In fact, he reiterates that marriage between a man and a woman remains the Catholic ideal, superior to other forms of union…

“The Pope tells priests that they should make decisions appropriate to their local conditions. ‘Each country or region … can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs,’ he writes in a possible effort to satisfy both liberals and conservatives by decentralizing authority…”

As mentioned in the article, this rather confusing position to draw people to the Catholic Church will satisfy neither liberals nor conservatives.

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Did Christ Nail God’s Law to the Cross?

Don’t Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14 teach us that Christ nailed God’s law to the cross so that we do not have to obey it anymore?

Ephesians 2:15 reads that Christ has “abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances…”

Colossians 2:14 reads that Christ has “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us, And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” The Authorized Version says that Christ “[blotted] out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us…”

In a letter of the Letter Answering Department of the Worldwide Church of God, the following comments were made regarding Colossians 2:14:

“The ‘handwriting of requirements’… simply refers to the debt each of us owes for our sins (Rom 6:23; I John 3:4). Our individual, personal sins separated us from God and demanded the death penalty (Isa. 59:2). This debt of sin is what Paul said was ‘against us’ and ‘contrary to us’ (Col. 2:14), because it would prevent us from being in God’s Kingdom.”

In an earlier and much more comprehensive letter, discussing Colossians 2:14 and Ephesians 2:15, the Worldwide Church of God wrote the following:

“… the word ‘ordinances’ in these passages does not refer to God’s law. It is translated from the Greek word ‘dogma’ and relates to human laws and decrees–the ‘commandments and doctrines of men’ (Col. 2:22). These human ordinances included both the restrictive pharisaical decrees burdening the Jews and the ascetic, oppressive ordinances of ‘touch not, taste not’ bound on the gentiles of Colossae.

“Both sets of human ordinances contributed to feelings of prejudice, animosity, suspicion, and separation between the Jews and gentiles who were being called into God’s Church. These ordinances acted as a ‘middle wall of partition.’ But, Jesus abolished that barrier through His supreme sacrifice: ‘For he  [Christ] is our peace, who hath made both [Jew and gentile] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us’ (Eph. 2:14).

“In Paul’s day, many newly-begotten Christians continued to suffer from the burden of their former teachings. For example, at the Temple there was a literal wall which separated the court of the gentiles from that of the Jews. Death was the penalty for any gentile who dared to pass it. Some converted Jews found it difficult to forget and change that deeply-ingrained part of their lives. It affected even Peter. See Galatians 2:11-12.

“On the other hand, the gentiles were under the sway and influence of pagan philosophers, with their restrictive rules. Colossae was known for its ascetic society. The pagans judged their Christian neighbors for their freedom in eating the various meats ordained by God [food from clean animals], for drinking wine, and for keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths in the joyous manner prescribed by God. Ascetics were taught that they could receive release from their guilt by doing penance—through abstinence, fasting, and their self-inflicted punishment.

“All such practices had no spiritual power or benefit, and Paul spoke out against these human standards and judgments: ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through [human] philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ’ (Col. 2:8). Christ came to pay the penalty for all our sins–to release us from the penalty of death incurred through sin and to cleanse our conscience from all guilt.

“Christ abolished the ascetic ordinances of the gentile philosophers as well as the Talmudic traditions, which all were yokes in bondage… He made it possible for both Jew and gentile to become spiritual Israelites, the children of God (Gal.3:26-29), so they might live together in freedom within His perfect law (Jas. 1:25)…”

In our free booklet, Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians – How to Understand It,” we offer further explanations as to the meaning of the biblical passages in Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14. When discussing Ephesians 2:14-17, we state the following:

“… the Greek word is the same in Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14, and should be consistently translated. In both passages, Paul uses the word ‘ordinances.’ This word does not refer in any way to the Ten Commandments or the statutes and judgments defining and magnifying the Ten Commandments. Sin is defined as the transgression of the law. Christ said He did not come to abolish the law. He said that if we want to enter into life, we have to keep the commandments, and James said that if we break one of the commandments, we are guilty of having broken all of them.

“‘The law of commandments contained in ordinances’ in Ephesians 2:15 and the ‘handwriting of ordinances’ in Colossians 2:14 is not a reference to the Ten Commandments. The Greek word for ‘ordinance’ is ‘dogma’ and refers to a ‘decree.’ In Luke 2:1, it is used to describe a decree of Emperor Augustus; Acts 17:7 refers to decrees of Caesar; and in Acts 16:4, it describes the decrees issued by the apostles regarding decisions made during the ministerial conference in Acts 15. In Colossians 2:20, Paul says that the Gentiles in Colossi were still subject to ordinances or decrees (in Greek, ‘dogmatizomai’; the New King James Bible says, ‘requirements’), which were, in that case, based on ‘the commandments and doctrines of men’ (verse 22).

“We see, then, that the word for ordinances or decrees was never used to describe laws that were given directly by God.

“Vincent’s Word Studies explains that the ‘ordinances’ or decrees identify the nature of the ‘law of commandments’ mentioned in Ephesians 2:15, stating: ‘The middle wall of partition, the enmity, was dissolved by the abolition of the law of commandments. Law is general, and its contents are defined by commandments, special injunctions, which injunctions in turn were formulated in definite decrees. Render the entire passage [in Ephesians 2:14-15]: brake [sic] down the middle-wall of partition, even the enmity, by abolishing in His flesh the law of commandments contained in ordinances.’…

“Paul is not talking about ANY law, which God gave the people. Rather, he is talking about human laws, commandments and decrees.

“These laws or ordinances included restrictive pharisaical decrees—inventions and traditions of men—as well as ascetic oppressive ordinances of Gentile philosophers. In both cases, following these ordinances leads to sin, as they are contrary to the law of God.

“Christ said about the man-made rules of Judaism that people did away with the commandments of God in order to follow their own traditions (Mark 7:7-13)… In addition, Paul told the Gentiles that they violated God’s laws by adhering to the practices taught by their philosophers, which were ’empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles [or rudiments, Authorized Version] of the world, and not according to Christ’ (Colossians 2:8, New King James Version).

“Paul also said in Colossians 2:14 that Christ blotted out the handwriting of ordinances, that was against us, and nailed it to the cross. Paul is referring to a ‘handwriting’ containing sins we committed by following decrees, traditions and philosophies of man—contrary to the Word of God. In the Greek, the phrase for ‘handwriting’ means literally, ‘certificate or acknowledgment of debt in the handwriting of the debtor.’ The phrase ‘of ordinances’ or ‘decrees’ [in ‘handwriting of ordinances’ in Colossians 2:14] should be translated as ‘in’ or ‘consisting in’ ordinances or decrees (compare Vincent’s Word Studies and the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary).

“Paul is referring to the fact that Christ blotted out the handwriting in-or consisting in-ordinances which was against us. This wording indicates the basis for the certificate of debt-we incurred it because we kept man’s ordinances, which were contrary to God’s law. But through Christ’s death, we obtained forgiveness of our sins-He took the certificate of debt out of the way and nailed it to the cross, thereby abolishing, nullifying, and extinguishing it (Colossians 2:14). Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains: ‘It is said that there is an allusion here to the ancient method by which a bond or obligation was cancelled, by driving a nail through it, and affixing it to a post.’

“In the same way, Paul is saying in Ephesians 2:15 that Christ abolished in His flesh, and through His death, the ‘law of commandments contained in human decrees or dogma,’ which were contrary to the Law of God. As he states in verse 14, these human laws had not only created enmity between God and man, but also between Jews and Gentiles. This was even compounded by the fact that in Old Testament times, God did not call the ‘uncircumcised’ Gentiles, in general, to the truth (see again Ephesians 2:11-13).

“In perhaps alluding to the wall, which separated the court of the Gentiles from the court of the Israelites in the Temple, Paul compared the human traditions and rules with a ‘middle wall of partition’ (Ephesians 2:14). But Jesus Christ broke down and abolished that barrier through His supreme sacrifice. We also recall that the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died—indicating that all true Christians have direct access to the Father in heaven. We read that in God’s Church-the BODY of Christ—there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, but they are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).

“Through Christ’s death, we were reconciled to the Father (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:19-20). Christ is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), who has made true Christians—of Jewish and Gentile origin—ONE in Him (same verse), ‘as to create in Himself one new man from the two [Jew and Gentile], thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity’ (Ephesians 2:15-16, New King James Bible)…”

Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14 do NOT teach that Christ nailed God’s spiritual Law to the cross. But they DO teach that He nullified any human laws and traditions which lead to sin, as they are contrary to God’s Word, and He nailed our record of sins to the cross, as we obtain God’s forgiveness upon our genuine repentance and acceptance of Christ’s Sacrifice.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Norbert Link and Michael Link will be traveling to Germany for the full period of the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. Brian and Jill Gale (Great Britain) will be in Ramona, California, for these Holy Day observances, and Rene and Delia Messier (Canada) will travel to Oregon for the Passover and First Day of Unleavened Bread.

The 2016 Church Conference for Church of the Eternal God; Church of God, a Christian Fellowship; and Global Church of God was conducted April 7th through April 13, 2016, in Ramona, California. Look for further details in our May Member Letter.

“Nuclear World War and Contamination,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Examples from Japan and Chernobyl show us, in a very limited way, what will happen very soon to this entire planet. If Christ would not intervene, no human being would survive.

Nuklearer Weltkrieg und Verseuchung, is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program which is also presented by Evangelist Norbert Link and covers the same subject as described above.

Nicht nur für getaufte Christen! is the title of this week’s Sabbath sermon in German. The title in English: “Not Only For Baptized Christians!”

“Passover Preparation,” a special presentation last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

As a baptized member of the Church of God, we need to prepare for this year’s Passover service on April 21, 2016, by examining ourselves. Will we partake of the Passover in a worthy manner? If not, we will be judged by God and may face serious sickness or even premature death. We must ask ourselves the following questions, among many others: Who is the most important person in your life? What is the cause for sin?

“Strength in Unity,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

When we are faced with trials, how do we respond, how do we react? Do we neglect the power of prayer when we go through difficult times? Are we strong enough? Is there a purpose for the trials we may be going through? We must understand that we are not alone, as we ALL struggle at times, which is why it is important to pray for one another, and if we put our problems into God’s hands, anything is possible.

“Enduring,” the title of last Sabbath’s sermon presented by Rene Messier, is now posted. Here is a summary:

The importance of enduring to the end and remaining faithful to our calling in order to qualify for our eternal reward is vitally important!

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God