|Live Services||What Will It Be Like To Be God?|
|Editorial||There Is No Fear In Love|
|Q&A||Q: Why does the Church of the Eternal God exist? Why don't you merge with other Church of God groups?|
What Will It Be Like To Be God?
Norbert Link will give the sermon this Sabbath, June 7, 2003. The service will be broadcast live from Oregon. The sermon is titled, “What Will It Be Like to Be God?”
On Sunday, June 8, 2003, Holy Day services for the Day of Pentecost will be broadcast live from Colorado and San Diego. Dave Harris will give the sermon in the morning. The title is, “Part of the Plan.” Edwin Pope will give the sermon in the afternoon. His sermon is titled, “The Trinity and the Holy Spirit.” Holy Day offerings will be taken up during the afternoon service.
All of our live services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
We wish all of you a HAPPY PENTECOST WEEKEND.
There Is No Fear In Love
by Norbert Link
We are living in a time of great distress and uncertainties. We just experienced a war fought because of fear – fear that weapons of mass destruction would be used against our countries. Terrorists have brought fear to citizens and nations all over the world – fear that new attacks on innocent people will be launched by unscrupulous, unloving and hateful suicide bombers or falsely so-called “freedom fighters.” There is fear today that a nuclear war might be started by unpredictable leaders of certain countries that are suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction. There are fears of deep impacts with comets or meteors; there are fears of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, floods and tidal waves, as well as transmittable disease epidemics or the loss of our ability to make a living or that we may lose all of our money – the list seems to be endless. People are afraid to fly, or to travel by train, by ship, or even by car. People live in fear – as to what might happen to them.
The Bible has prophesied that terrible calamities will strike this planet, and that feelings of fear would be a reality in the last days. Christ tells us in Luke 21:25-26, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on earth DISTRESS OF NATIONS, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from FEAR and the EXPECTATION of those things which ARE COMING on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
In reading on, we notice that God expects of His chosen people a different mindset. We are not to fear – rather, we are to live joyfully and peacefully with the expectation of better things to come: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near” (verse 28).
We don’t need to fear what might happen to us, because nothing happens to us, unless it is God’s will. We are always in God’s hands. David knew, “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15). David was not afraid what men might do to him. He was not afraid if a war would raise its ugly head against him. He was not afraid of evil tidings. He did not fear, even though the earth be removed (compare Psalm 3:6; Psalm 46:1-3; compare, too, Psalm 112:7-8).
Why did David have this kind of confidence and peace in times of calamity? He tells us in Psalm 27:1: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” Also, in Psalm 56:11: “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
David knew how closely God is watching us – His begotten children. He KNEW that NOTHING will happen to us AGAINST the will of God. Notice David’s understanding of God’s concern for us, as expressed in Psalm 56:8, “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into your bottle; Are they not in your book?” Not a tear that we shed will be forgotten before God. When God says that the very hair on our head is numbered (Matthew 10:30), and that not a sparrow dies apart from God’s will (Matthew 10:29), how much more will God look after us – His very own begotten children whom He wants to be as born-again members in His Family?
This confidence – this assurance that God is always with us – can only come though the gift of His Spirit living within us. The God of peace gives us peace, through His Spirit. The foremost characteristic of God’s Spirit is love – because God IS love. We have not received a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, as we are told in 2 Timothy 1:7. God’s power, love and sound mind in us destroy any kind of fear as to what might happen to us. Since we are fully under God’s loving protection, we can exclaim with John, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
God’s Spirit in us lets us understand this profound truth, as expressed by Paul in Romans 8:31: “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” He continues in verse 35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
The answer is, with the love of God in us, and the conviction THAT His love rules and leads our lives, nothing should make us afraid. Christ emphasizes time and time again that His little flock is not to live in fear as to what might or even to what will happen to us. He said, for instance, in Luke 12:32, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” If He is desirous to give us the eternal kingdom, how much more, then, will He be willing to give us the necessary physical things in this life, and to protect us from harm and disaster?
Let’s remember God’s timeless promise to His people, as expressed by Paul in Romans 8:28, “And we KNOW that ALL THINGS work together FOR GOOD to those who LOVE God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
What God allows to happen in our lives is for our good. Do we KNOW that? Paul did, and we must all come to know it, too.
There is NO FEAR in love. Yes, we need to have deep respect and awe for God and His word – and we will, if God’s love lives in us. However, with God’s love, there is no fear that we might slip out of His hands – that something terrible might happen to us, because God failed to pay attention. We are precious in His sight. Christ came to DIE for us, so that we could live and have life more abundantly.
This we know – WHATEVER God allows to happen to us in this life is for a purpose. Nothing happens to us, unless God specifically allows it to happen. God is watching and observing us every second. He will NOT allow that we are tested beyond our capabilities to bear or endure the test (compare 1 Corinthians 10:13). Why, then, should we be afraid of ANYTHING which might happen in our lives? God, our loving Father, is right there walking with us. He is surely capable to prevent calamities that might otherwise strike and affect us.
David had great love for God. God’s love was living in him. So, he could say with confidence, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me” (Psalm 23:4). God has promised us this: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God” (Isaiah 43:2-3). Again, in Psalm 91:15: “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
We are, and always will be, in the loving and caring hand of God, as long as we let God direct and lead our lives. God’s love will always sustain us and give us peace. There is no fear in God’s love, because His perfect love casts out all fear.
This Week in the News
UNPRECEDENTED U.S. NATIONAL DEBT
The Associated Press reported on May 27, 2003 (republished by The Boston Channel.com), that President Bush signed a bill on Tuesday, approved by Congress, raising the federal debt limit by nearly $1 trillion to an unprecedented amount of just under $7.5 trillion. The Southern Illinoisan pointed out on May 25 that “Congress had breached its current $6.4 trillion limit on borrowing early this year, and the government has averted an unprecedented default only by having the Treasury Department shift money from various funds it oversees.” The paper continued, “This year’s deficit is expected to exceed $300 billion for the first time, and shortfalls are projected into the future… while Democrats blame the return of red ink on a series of Bush tax cuts, Republicans blame the faltering economy and the costs of confronting terrorists.”
As of May 31, the outstanding public debt was $6,559,774,122,542.55, according to the U.S. National Debt Clock. To get an idea of the enormity of this figure, consider that the estimated population of the United States is 291,098,867. Each citizen’s share of the public debt would be $22,534.52. The national debt has continued to increase on an average of $1.36 billion per day since September 30, 2002. In the 1990s, the federal government created $2.8 trillion of new debt.
MSNBC News reported on May 29 that the Bush administration has shelved a report commissioned by the Treasury that shows that the U.S. currently faces a future of chronic federal budget deficits totaling at least $44 trillion in current U.S. dollars. The study “estimates that closing the gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 percent across-the-board income tax increase.”
There would be, of course, other means to close the gap – but nobody in government or opposition seems to be willing to take those steps, as that would first of all require a totally new way of thinking. We are referring, for example, to the military or the space program or the tobacco industry. After Christ’s return, no money will be spent anymore for any of those purposes. In fact, we read in Isaiah 2:4, “He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they LEARN WAR anymore.”
This time has not arrived yet, and so we see astronomical debts accumulating. Thanks be to God, though, that His Son WILL return to this earth to establish a better and just world.
HOW JUSTIFIED WAS THE WAR AGAINST IRAQ?
This question is being asked increasingly inside and outside the United States and Great Britain. It was recently prompted by comments of US Vice-Minister of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who reportedly said that the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was not the main reason for the invasion. According to Vanity Fair, this reason was given, as everyone could agree with it.
Mr. Wolfowitz’s comments were followed by a stirring account in the British press. The Guardian Unlimited reported on May 31 that allegedly Jack Straw, Great Britain’s foreign secretary, and Colin Powell “privately expressed serious doubts about the quality of intelligence on Iraq’s banned weapons programme [sic] at the very time they were publicly trumpeting it to get UN support for a war on Iraq.” According to the paper, those concerns were expressed during a transcribed private meeting at the Waldorf hotel in New York. The paper continued, “Mr. Powell told the foreign secretary he hoped the facts, when they came out, would not ‘explode in their faces.'”
Both the American and the British governments were quick to deny any validity of the report. Great Britain’s Sunday Mail published an article on June 1, reporting that “Foreign Secretary Jack Straw yesterday denied he and US counterpart Colin Powell had shared secret doubts over the invasion of Iraq.” The article continued, “Yesterday, the Foreign Office dismissed the allegations as ‘simply untrue’ and insisted that ‘no such meeting took place.'”
USA Today reported on June 2 that “U.S. and British officials defended their allegations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction amid growing charges that the Bush administration may have overstated ambiguous intelligence to sell the war in Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that everything he told the United Nations in his indictment of Iraq’s weapons programs in February had been vetted by the CIA and that only information backed by multiple sources were [sic] made public. ‘Our credibility is intact,’ he told ABC News. ‘Everybody knows that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.'”
USA Today continued to point out: “A U.S. Intelligence expert who helped Powell’s presentation in February said the effort was rushed and, in some cases, relied on circumstantial evidence.”
The paper also stated that “Senate Committees will investigate the issue as soon as this month.” Der Spiegel Online elaborated on the planned investigation in its article of June 3, as follows, “Now, the American Congress gets involved. Two Senate Committees want to find out whether the American government has exaggerated the dangers stemming from Saddam’s weapons… Especially the credibility of President Bush, Secretary of State, Colin Powell, Minister of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and Director of the CIA, George Tenet, is at stake. According to the BBC, it is likely that all will have to testify before the Committees.” It was also announced that Tony Blair will be investigated by the British Parliament.
At the same time, according to Der Spiegel, Hans Blix reiterated on Monday that his team did not find any proof that Iraq was in possession of any weapons of mass destruction.
Der Spiegel also published on May 31 excerpts from an interview with General James Convey, in charge of the marines in Iraq, stating that it is “clearly false” to claim that Saddam wanted to attack the Allies with biological or chemical weapons. He told the Los Angeles Times, “There is simply nothing there.”
In an additional report of June 1, Der Spiegel quoted former British minister Clare Short, who had resigned in protest of Mr. Blair’s Iraq policy, to the effect that Blair allegedly misled the people. 63 percent of the British feel the same way, according to a poll. The magazine continued, “[Germany’s Foreign Minister] Joschka Fischer was cited by Mail on Sunday to the effect that he had made it very clear that if there should be no weapons of mass destruction, Tony Blair should admit that he misappropriated intelligence reports and that he misled the world.”
In the United States, it appears that “a majority of Americans seems indifferent to the growing clamor,” according to USA Today. “A… poll (of 1,019 adults Friday through Sunday) shows that 56% of residents say the war on Iraq would still be justified even if weapons of mass destruction were not found.” However, as time goes on, this poll could rapidly change.
EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES
A few days ago, Der Spiegel Online, as well as other leading German papers and magazines, began to publish a debate between intellectuals about the relationship between the United States and Europe. On June 1, they published the view point of American philosopher Richard Rorty, encouraging Europeans to withstand President Bush. He stated, “If Europe does not unite now, they will never again play an important role in the world.” He criticized the European leaders that they had again begun to try to obtain Washington’s favor. Instead, according to Rorty, “the EU has to show the world a vision of the future… While America’s politics may delay a disaster for a short while, the Europeans could create a new world order and thereby ‘save the world.'”
The Bible shows that Europe will indeed attempt to do this – with devastating consequences in the end.
RENEWED FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN THE U.S. AND THE REST OF THE WORLD?
After the 300 years celebration in Petersburg, Russia, and the G-8 leaders meeting in Evian, France, everyone smiled, anxious to show unity and peace between the world’s most powerful nations. President Bush deserves a lot of credit for having again begun a relationship with Chancellor Schroeder. Due to the strong disagreement between the two leaders over the Iraq crisis, they had not communicated with each other for months. President Bush went to Mr. Schroeder’s table in Petersburg and shook his hand. The same episode reoccurred in Evian, France. The German press is delighted, thanking President Bush for his friendly gesture.
In addition, the leaders of the eight summit countries, “the world’s seven wealthiest nations and Russia,” according to USA Today of June 3, expressed their deep satisfaction after the G-8 meeting (Bild, June 3). The leaders represented the United States, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. However, one of several potential problems remains to be the situation with Iran. According to USA Today, the leaders of Canada, France and Germany “signaled they were not ready to fall into line behind the United States should the Bush administration decide to use military force in Iran.” Der Spiegel Online stated on June 3 that these leaders clarified that they would not agree to any force in the Iran situation. In regard to Iraq, Chirac was quoted by USA Today as saying, “All military action not backed by the U.N. is illegitimate and illegal. I still don’t approve of it. I didn’t change my feelings one iota.”
As one can see, in spite of the smiles of the leaders, disagreement in key questions of paramount importance still prevails.
HAIDER IN THE NEWS
It has gotten a little bit quiet regarding Joerg Haider of Austria. This does not mean, however, that he is no longer a force to be reckoned with. In a recent interview with News Online of May 31, he stated, “A chancellor Haider is becoming more and more important and necessary.” He also announced that he is willing to return and enter national politics, if his party wants him to. At the same time, he said, “I am back again.”
Whether he is or isn’t, the near future may show.
Q: Why does the Church of the Eternal God exist? Why don't you merge with other Church of God groups?
A: We at CEG, along with our affiliated groups in Canada (CGCF) and in the UK (Global), are continually asked the question by Church of God people why we have not merged with one of the larger Church of God groups at a time when some seem to encourage unity among all the people of God.
Since this is an often asked question, we have attempted to give answers in various sermons and articles presented by our ministry. Still the question continues to be directed toward us as a group.
We know that when God established the Church in the wilderness, He revealed at that time certain requirements of His people which remain unchanged to this day. (We exclude from this discussion the sacrificial laws that were added, due to the transgressions of the people, which were for a time, but are no longer required after the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, compare Galatians 3:17-19).
The prophet Amos was inspired by God to raise the question with His people Israel: “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). We have asked ourselves the same question, and of course, the answer comes back loud and clear. God, in fact, refused to walk with Israel and He punished them severely because they failed to follow His commands.
Christ stated in Matthew 12:25 that: “… every… house divided against itself will not stand.” We understand that the major problem with the Church of God, first era (Ephesus), was that it “left its first love” (Revelation 2:4), and in like manner, the end-time church (Laodicea) becomes lukewarm toward God and His Way.
It is critical for the Church at the end time to be wholehearted in its approach to God’s requirements. This would necessitate a clear understanding of what God requires of His people, individually, and of His Church as a whole. God desires a people who will keep His Word and walk in His Way (Revelation 3:8).
God is clear in what He requires of those He is dealing with at any time. He told His chosen people Israel through His servant Moses: “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2).
“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the [people] who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (verses 5-9).
Notice, too, Leviticus 18:5: “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them…”
When a leader was established over the nation, there were specific instructions as to how he was to rule God’s people. Notice, especially, Deuteronomy 17:18-20: “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”
God does not change (Malachi 3:6). He requires that we, today, live by His Word, which He laid out before the people millennia ago. It is our responsibility in the ministry of God’s Church to be sure there is a clear standard presented to those God has called or is calling; a standard which is unwavering as to God’s requirements of His people at this time. God’s message must be clearly presented. Through the guidance of His Holy Spirit, we in CEG and affiliates intend to do this to the best of our ability, based upon the knowledge and understanding which has been revealed to us.
This includes withdrawing from those who do not teach and practice these truths faithfully, as they have been revealed to us (1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). We desire to fellowship with all who accept these truths and faithfully teach and practice them (John 10:5, 14-16, 27). At this time we do not see the possibility of our merging with any of the other Church of God groups. In order to be able to do so, we would first have to be shown clear evidence that the Biblical standards described herein are endorsed in theory and in practice by the leadership of the particular group; that those false teachings which were brought into the Worldwide Church of God in recent years have been totally rejected by the particular group; and that such group, as well as all of its ministers have returned to sound teachings and practices as outlined in God’s Holy Word.
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