"Trial" and "Ears to Hear"
Rene Messier and Edwin Pope will give split sermons this Sabbath, June 21, 2003. The messages are entitled “Trials” and “Ears to Hear” respectively.
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
"And Knowledge Shall Increase"
by Dave Harris
The prophet Daniel spoke of the time of the end when, among other things, knowledge would be increased (compare Daniel 12:4). Yet, with all this knowledge available in our day, does it really help mankind to seize the truly important information for an abundant, purposeful life?
Paul preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which includes Jesus and the resurrection. To at least one group of people this knowledge represented “strange things.” The audience he addressed was in Athens, Greece, and it is important to understand an attitude held by these individuals: “For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).
They were hobbyists in knowledge. They accumulated knowledge, but their endeavors fell short of the ultimate truth that Paul was inspired to reveal to them. Part of the reason seems to be that they did not apply in their own lives what they had learned.
Another such individual was King Solomon. Note what he recorded of his own quest for knowledge in Ecclesiastes 1:13: “And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven.” The record of his life testifies that he was granted great wisdom from God. However, his story doesn’t develop very well–even with such an abundance of knowledge about “all that is done under heaven.” Solomon did not keep contact with God as he grew old, and he ended up setting his heart on purely physical knowledge, while drifting away from spiritual knowledge revealed to him by God. Only at the very end of his life was he able to explain: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all (or: the whole duty of man)” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Those of us who are Christians have access to unique knowledge. God reveals to us parts of what the Bible calls “hidden knowledge” or a “mystery.” The rest of the world doesn’t know what Christians get to know–in fact, Romans 11 explains that “blindness in part has happened…” (verse 25). Implicit in this is an issue of responsibility for the knowledge we have been given.
Jesus further explains this in Matthew 7:24-27. The critical point, as He explains, is that after we hear His sayings we must DO them. If we don’t do what He says and act on the knowledge we are given, we will fail!
James also shows that we must be “DOERS of the word, and not hearers only…” (James 1:22). He later has this to say about the serious consequence of not doing what we know we should: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Individually, we need to measure ourselves when it comes to the knowledge we have been given. Paul warned that in the last days perilous times will come. Of these times and those of us in them, he prophesied that some would be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
Real spiritual growth in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ comes about through obedience–that simply means we act on what we know. More knowledge without implementing what we already have been given will not cause one to grow in their Christianity. We can’t just become religious hobbyists seeking to either tell or to hear some new thing. Nor should we set ourselves, as Solomon did, to learn more and more without building upon spiritual knowledge through yielding to God’s will.
Without question, we are called upon to grow in knowledge of God’s Way, but as we do, it is important that we also be doers of all that is revealed and not hearers only. It is God Who opens up our understanding of His Word–this kind of increase is spoken of as spiritual knowledge.
As we increase in knowledge, consider this promise from Jesus: “‘If you ABIDE IN MY WORD, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall KNOW THE TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free'” (John 8:31-32).
This Week in the News
Unquestionably, the Middle East with a particular focus on Iraq and Jerusalem, as well as the land of Israel, continues to boil over in one violent outbreak after another. World news is now geared to reporting events that occur there with dozens of reporters stationed in the area. It is something we can and should watch as a part of Biblical, end-time prophetic fulfillment.
Now, a startling new emergence is rapidly taking form in Europe. A long-ago “newscaster”–the prophet Daniel–spoke very precisely of events we now can see unfolding before us. In Daniel 2:41-43, note this somber announcement:
“‘Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. ‘And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. ‘As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.'”
These statements show the formation of a powerful European kingdom that will come about through alliances and confederacies–yet, there will be problems. Other prophecies show that continental Europe, led by ten core nations or goups of nations, will be at odds with the United States and Great Britain. They also show more details of an emerging political leader and a religious leader who will dominate events in this world! These are things we are to now watch! Our booklets can greatly help you understand these events. Europe in Prophecy and The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, along with our new STANDING WATCH weekly webcast and our weekly Updates, deal with prophetic events for our day.
It is vital that we understand the times we are living in, and to do that, it is of the utmost importance to do as the Bible clearly warns–WATCH!
IRAQ — A THORN IN THE FLESH?
On May 1, 2003, official combat between the allied forces and Iraq ended. Since that time, more than 50 American soldiers have been killed — 16 of them through Iraqi attacks, and 36 through accidents. Der Spiegel Online reported on June 19 that “within the last 24 hours, four U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi were killed by three attacks.” At the same time, U.S. forces were able to capture Abid Hamud Mahmud al-Tikriti, the No. 4 on the U.S. most-wanted list of Iraqi leaders, behind only Saddam and sons Qusai and Odai, according to USA Today of June 19. However, an Arab newspaper, published in England, stated that they received a fourth letter from Saddam Hussein, at least two of which are considered to be genuine. This would prove that Saddam is still alive. In the last letter, the author announced a new round of attacks if the allied forces don’t leave Iraq by June 17. Some newspapers speculated that the date was meant to be July 17 — the official date when Saddam’s party came to power 35 years ago.
USA Today reported on June 10 that Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, is convinced that Saddam is still alive. He “has been seen north of Baghdad and is paying a bounty for every American soldier killed,” he said. “Saddam has $1.3 billion in cash taken from the Central Bank on March 18, is bent on revenge and believes he can sit it out and get the Americans going,” he said.
In a poll conducted by the “Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies,” 51% of Iraqis approved the American occupation in Iraq at this time, according to Der Spiegel Online of June 19. 85% uttered serious concerns about the present Iraqi political parties, stating that they could not fill the new political vacuum in the country. At the same time, a majority of Iraqis was dissatisfied with the allies’ accomplishment in Iraq regarding security, reconstruction, the economy and the healthcare system. Only 6 percent believed that the allies occupied the country because they had in mind the welfare of Iraq.
Joseph Collins, “Pentagon’s top policy advisor,” said on June 10 that “the task of stabilizing postwar Iraq has proven ‘tougher and more complex’ than the Bush administration originally foresaw,” according to USA Today of June 10. In addition, the Guardian, a paper in Great Britain, published on June 11 a damaging interview with Hans Blix, the UN chief weapons inspector, claiming that he was “smeared by the Pentagon.” Due to ongoing criticism as to the official reason given for the war with Iraq, both the Blair and the Bush administrations are being investigated by the British Parliament and the American Congress.
Bild Online reported on June 19 that Donald Rumsfeld “downplayed the chaos in Iraq.” He spoke in Washington “of small elements” of only 10 or 20 percent that are responsible for the attacks on American soldiers. He compared the figures with the number of killings in American big cities and said, “We will always have violence in big cities.” Bild Online continued: “The allies are far from being able to control the situation. The British have begun to admit mistakes, which could lead to a separation between the allied forces.”
EUROPE’S ASCENT TO POWER
On Friday, June 13, a draft constitution covering 450 million inhabitants of the future European Union was unveiled. The audience gave a standing ovation to Valery Giscard d’Estaing, former French president, who chaired the convention. Giscard d’Estaing had recently received the “Karlspreis” (“Charlemagne prize”) for his “outstanding efforts to unite Europe.” As AFB reported, “some big battles remain, notably over demands for the EU to extend qualified majority voting into sensitive areas such as foreign and tax policy…” German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is hopeful that by the end of the year, the inter-governmental conference (IGC) of current and future EU countries will approve the text, and that Europe will ratify it in 2006, according to Der Spiegel Online of June 19. The text would create the establishment of a European Foreign Minister. The German press has been speculating for months, whether Joschka Fischer will occupy that post. Der Spiegel Online also stated, under the sub-heading, “Fortress Europe begins to emerge,” that a new European immigration and asylum policy is under discussion.
The Catholic Church uttered dissatisfaction with the proposed text, as it does not mention the Christian heritage of Europe. Joschka Fischer had promised the pope that he would see to it that the final European constitution would include a reference to Europe’s Christian heritage.
EUROPEAN / U.S RELATIONSHIP DETERIORATES
According to Der Spiegel Online of June 11, Donald Rumsfeld stirred up old wounds last week, when he spoke again, during a visit in Germany, of “old Europe” and “new Europe.” He also confirmed that the United States are contemplating the withdrawal of 75 % of their American troops from Germany. It was emphasized that these plans “have nothing to do with Germany’s stance regarding the Iraq question.”
MSNBC News reported on June 12 that the “U.N. Security Council on Thursday approved another one-year exemption for American peacemakers from prosecution by the new international war crimes tribunal, but it faced opposition from France, Germany and Syria.” The United States had made it very clear that the failure to grant immunity to the U.S. would have serious consequences, as the criticism “was putting more strains on trans-Atlantic relations.” Originally, the United States had sought to obtain permanent immunity. The Washington Post had run an article on June 10, titled, “U.S. Confronts EU On War Crimes Court.” The Independent in the U.K. wrote on June 11, “US clashes with Europe over war crimes.” The Guardian Unlimited in the U.K. titled its headline on June 11, “War crime vote fuels US anger at Europe.” France, Germany and Syria decided to abstain, rather than to vote against the exemption. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 12-0, with three abstentions.
MISCELLANEOUS NEWS FROM EUROPE
In other European news, Britain delayed adopting the European currency, the “euro,” at least for the time being. At this point, 12 European countries have adopted the euro as their only currency. The Washington Post of June 10 commented that, while Britain’s finance minister Gordon Brown emphasized the economic risks of adopting the euro, “many analyists said they believe the government’s principal concern is political.”
Telegraph News reported on June 19 that “a Paris court last night halted publication of a book by a former investigating magistrate that claims France is institutionally corrupt.” This is the first time that a French court blocked the publication of a book in recent times, according to the article. The official reason was that the publication might prejudice a pending trial, stating that the book could be published once the trial is over.
ISRAEL BEGINS TO DISMANTLE INHABITED OUTPOSTS
In an attempt to fulfill Israel’s agreement with President Bush, Israel began to take down unauthorized outposts set up by settlers in the West Bank over the last two years. There are 62 such outposts and a total of more than 100 set up since 1996. As USA Today reported on June 19, “about 200 people from nearby Jewish settlements converged on the hilltop Thursday morning, blocking the road leading to Mitzpeh Yitzhar (the first inhabited outpost being removed under the new U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan) with cars and burning tires to prevent the authorities from dismantling the outpost.” The peace plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.
HIV — TRANSMITTED THROUGH CHIMPANZEES
As Stern Online of June 13 reported, the HIV virus was apparently transmitted to chimpanzees which ate the flesh of other chimpanzees infected with the virus. It is still unclear how the chimpanzees were originally infected. It has been established that the HIV virus was transmitted from infected chimpanzees to humans. Three cases of such transmissions of the virus HIV1 which occurred prior to 1930, have been proven, according to the article. Another HIV virus, HIV2, was transmitted more recently to humans in West Africa. The article pointed out that humans were infected when they ate the infected chimpanzees.
Q: Do you teach that God heals our sicknesses? Does a sick person need to be a member of your church to ask you for healing? Do you teach that God heals sick persons, even though they are not members of your church?
A: The Bible is very clear that God heals sick people who try to obey God and who have faith that He will heal them. He tells us in Exodus 15:26, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.”
We are also told how healing from sickness has been made possible. We are healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ who gave His life for us, and who was tortured and beaten so that we can obtain forgiveness of our sins and healing from our sicknesses and diseases (Psalm 103:1-3; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25; Isaiah 53:5).
Generally, God instructs us, when we are sick, to call for the elders of the Church of God — the body of Christ, a spiritual organism — to pray for us and to anoint us with oil (a symbol of the Holy Spirit) and to lay hands on us, so that we can be healed (James 5:14-15; Mark 16:18).
Many times, a ministerial visit may not be possible, as the sick person might live in a remote area. If this is the case, then elders are permitted to pray over a cloth, anointing it with a drop of oil as the symbol of the Holy Spirit, and asking God to heal the sick person who will receive this cloth. This is based on numerous passages in the Bible, showing us that people were healed when they touched the garments of Christ (Mark 6:56) or the aprons or handkerchiefs from Paul’s body (Acts 19:12).
We understand, of course, that there is no magical importance attached to an anointed cloth. It cannot and will not heal anyone. As mentioned, it is through the stripes of Christ that we are healed.
When a person who is sick receives the anointed cloth, he is to place it on his head and pray to God (as the minister would already have done when anointing the cloth) that God would heal the sick person from the sickness. Since our faith must be in God, and not in any man or in the anointed cloth, the cloth should be destroyed immediately after it has been used.
As the Bible shows, the sick person does not have to be a baptized member of the Church of the Eternal God, one of its corporate affiliates, or the spiritual body of Christ (of which the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates are a part). It is necessary, however, that the sick person has faith in the sacrifice of Christ, believing that he or she will be healed by God because of what Christ did for us.
We find that Christ healed many people who were not converted. In fact, when Christ was here on earth, prior to His death and resurrection, the Bible does not reveal that ANYBODY — other than Christ and John the Baptist — had the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. After the New Testament Church was born in 31 A.D., as Acts 2 reports, God continued to use the apostles and elders to heal people who were not members of the body of Christ — some of them were even demon-possessed (Acts 5:12-16; 8:5-8; 28:7-9). One incident is recorded showing that a person was healed, without asking for healing, so that the power of God the Father and Jesus Christ would be magnified (compare Acts 3:1-10, 12-16). It appears, however, that in that particular case, the sick person had the faith that God, through Christ, would heal him (compare verse 16). Paul later healed a man who had been a cripple from his mother’s womb, after Paul had observed him “intently,” seeing that “he had faith to be healed” (Acts 14:9).
Many times, healing may be one of the means for God to lead a person to total surrender to Him — or it might be a witness for others to “turn[ ] to the Lord” (compare Acts 9:32-35). In particular, children of parents in the church, as well as unconverted mates, may experience healing, sometimes in unusual ways, so that their faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ may be strengthened (compare 1 Corinthians 7:14 — both the children and the unconverted mates are “sanctified” or “holy,” that is, they have access to God and can respond to God’s call. Note, too, 1 Peter 3:1-2).
If a sick person asks one of our ministers for anointing or an anointed cloth, believing that God will heal them, they will receive from us what they request. God gave command to His servants to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and to “heal the sick” (Matthew 10:8; Luke 9:2; 10:9).
A sick person, if he or she has the faith in God to be healed, should take advantage of the tremendous benefit that God bestows on us, to heal us from our sicknesses and diseases. Our sicknesses are important in God’s eyes. If we are suffering with a sickness, let us ask God for His intervention — after all, He is THE God who heals us.
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.
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