Update 107


"True Friendship"

Norbert Link will give the sermon this Sabbath, August 23. The title of the sermon is, “True Friendship.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”

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Beware of Destructive Tendencies

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Quite recently, I got caught, really caught. I was sent, by e-mail, details of a virus that, if not eliminated, would cause havoc on my computer. It was suggested that I eliminate this virus and forward the message on to my address book. When I followed the instructions, the “offending” virus was there and I duly eliminated it. I also let scores of other people know about this potential problem. However, after all of this effort, a few people who understand computers far better than I, advised that it was a hoax! I then went through the same procedure again, this time advising all those whom I had written to originally, that it was a hoax. I had to re-install the feature that I had erroneously removed as it was necessary in some of the programs that I use. For that exercise I had to enlist help! By this time, others were writing to me because I was in their address book and the whole exercise kept going round and round for a few days. I must have spent at least half a day on this hoax which was a complete and utter waste of my time. I felt also guilty that I had wasted the time of so many others, albeit trying to be of service to them.

It got me to thinking about the lessons we can learn from such an exercise.

(1) First of all, I learnt that if I receive another such, no doubt well-meaning virus warning, I will check with those who understand these problems far better than I, and I will check with web-sites that contain up-to-date information on viruses.

(2) It didn’t take me more than an instant to realize that when destruction, chaos, lying and time-wasting are involved, we can usually look in one specific direction and we shouldn’t be surprised that the problems created all emanate from the same source. Of course, human beings are used, but the basic modus operandi simply doesn’t change from the originating being.

Passing on viruses and details about viruses can create chaos. Scripture tells us that originally, there was no chaos when the heavens and the earth were created. As we have understood for decades, through the influence of Satan, the earth became waste and empty. Satan brought to this earth chaos and confusion. We know that God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Wherever chaos and confusion reigns, Satan is in the thick of it.

(3) Creating and intentionally passing on viruses is destructive. God is the Creator and Sustainer of positive and good things. Wherever Satan is involved, destruction follows. Satan knows that we have the potential to become members of the God Family. He will do everything he can to prevent us from attaining that wonderful position. If he can destroy us he will, but with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, we can out-maneuver the adversary. Satan caused Job many problems, but he was only allowed to go so far. We have to be on our toes to avoid his destructive attacks on us.

(4) A hoax is a lie. Who is the father of lies? John 8:44 gives us the answer from the lips of Jesus Christ. The ninth commandment tells us not to bear false witness (not to lie). A hoax is a deliberate attempt to deceive. That is not God’s way, but it originates and emanates from the evil one.

(5) Both a virus and a hoax are time wasters. If Satan can side-track us, he will. He will attempt to keep us so busy with those matters that we can become deluded into thinking that we have little or no time for the spiritually essential areas. When we have to deal with a virus or a hoax, it results in a negative and a complete waste of time. Oh, how Satan loves to waste our time.

If God was the center of everyone’s life, viruses and hoaxes would simply not exist. Everyone would have first and foremost the best interests of others in their minds, and they would never dream of doing anything to harm others. They would practice the golden rule of doing to others as they themselves would like to be dealt with (Luke 6:31). They would be esteeming others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3). They would be service orientated, serving others in a Godly way. That is exactly the opposite way to Satan’s approach. We should thank God daily that Satan can only do to us what God specifically allows, and that in the Kingdom of God, our adversary, with his destructive attributes, will have been crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20).

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The fragile plight of this earth and its nations came shattering into the headlines this week as bombings in both Baghdad and Jerusalem continued the downward spiral of terror.

The attack on a so-called “soft” target in Baghdad now stands as the worst directed at the U.N. in its history. A leading and respected U.N. representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello (55), was among the many dead. According to USA Today, “At least 20 U.N. workers and Iraqis were killed… and 100 were wounded.”

After a very short respite, Jerusalem witnessed another unspeakable incident of carnage on Wednesday as some 20 people were killed, and about hundred were injured, nearly reaching the same numbers of deaths and injuries as those in Baghdad. There was an edge in the Israeli response that portends of reprisals that may well take on shocking proportions. As USA Today reported on Thursday, “Israel killed a senior Hamas political leader [Ismail Abu Shanab] in a missile strike Thursday, retaliating for a suicide bombing of a bus in which 20 people died including six children. Hamas vowed revenge and, along with Islamic Jihad, formally abandoned a truce declared eight weeks ago.” The newspaper continued, “Abu Shanab was widely regarded as a moderate in the group, and served as a liaison with [Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud] Abbas during the prime minister’s efforts to persuade Hamas to halt attacks.”

The suicide bombing in Jerusalem followed an Israeli announcement on Tuesday that “it would press on with construction of a barrier through the West Bank, confiscating Palestinian property near Jerusalem for a project that has drawn harsh criticism from the United States,” according to USA Today. The article continued: “Israel plans a series of massive cement walls, electronic fencing, barbed wire and trenches between the West Bank and Israel to prevent suicide bombers from launching attacks. The plan, which already has seen sections built in Jerusalem and the West Bank, has outraged Palestinians, and President Bush has called it ‘a problem.’ But Israel’s defense minister was adamant Tuesday that the project had already prevented attacks and would go ahead at full-speed.”

In the meantime, as reported by the Associated Press, “Pope John Paul prayed Wednesday that world leaders find wisdom to end a ‘woeful spiral of hatred’ after deadly bombings in Baghdad and Jerusalem.”

Jeremiah conveys warnings from God about a future time when people would talk about peace and resolution of problems, but this peace would not materialize into anything lasting: “They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is NO PEACE” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Those who look to God must realize that true peace, lasting peace, will not be brought about between people who hate each other. Rather, Jesus Christ will return and ESTABLISH PEACE–with great power! At that time peace will become the order of the day, and no longer will there be wars or senseless, hate-filled bombings and reprisals that destroy lives. It might be timely to once again review our booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.” The only time when mankind can truly proclaim, “Peace, peace!,” is when that Kingdom and God’s perfect government are established on the earth! It is then that Matthew 6:10 will find its fulfillment: ” ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.’ “


“The largest blackout in American history prompted new calls Friday for overhauling the nation’s electricity system even as investigators searched for clues to what might have triggered the power outrages from New England to Michigan,” according to USA Today. “The early confusion underscored the bedeviling complexity woven into the North American electricity network in recent decades, the boom in cross-border power trading, and the interdependence of the many parts and partners multiplied by energy deregulation… ‘We’re the world’s greatest superpower, but we have a Third World electricity grid,’ said former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, now governor of New Mexico.” In a follow-up article, USA Today stated, “The electric power grid might be more vulnerable to a cyperattack today than it was on September 11, 2001.”

Der Spiegel Online published an article on August 18, 2003, titled, “The great darkness.” It pointed out: “America between appearance and reality. The collapse of the power grid in the Northeast revealed the weaknesses of the superpower’s infrastructure.” It continued, “All of this because of a faulty fuse? Is it that easy to tie down the muscle-bound Gulliver, to cripple his massive force? What can terrorists learn from this amazingly banal weakness of the hated USA? In Europe, especially in the ‘old’ part bordering the ‘new’ NATO member states of Eastern Europe…, people were rubbing their eyes in disbelief. This could not be true. The Americans… can’t even provide electricity to a large portion of their population?”

According to Bild Online, a similar blackout is presently not a threat for Europe. However, unless 30 billion Euros are spent within the next ten years to invest in the electricity system and network, a similar blackout could occur by then.


USA Today reported on Thursday, August 21, that “some 10,000 people had died” from the recent heat wave in France. Bild Online pointed out that this “unique national catastrophe” has created additional problems relating to the disposal all the corpses. The government of France is blamed for “insufficiencies” in the health care system, and that it did “too little, too late in the face of the heat wave and the scores of deaths it caused,” according to USA Today.


According to Hanns Maull, Chairman for Foreign Policy and International Relations at the University of Trier, Germany needs to chose France, Europe, and supranationalism over America, NATO, and transatlantic cooperation. In an article, titled, “Why Germany Needs to Chose Europe Over America,” published by www.deutsche-aussenpolitik.de, he also stated, “A European Union which seriously moved towards a Defence Union would enable security co-operation to be re-equilibrated from one-sided dependence towards a meaningful division of labour. This would no doubt require duplication in military assets — yet American objections to that ultimately reflect a desire to keep the European allies on a leash… Europe and the transatlantic community both need a stronger, more purposeful European Union, including a European Defence Union.”


USA Today reported this week that, according to Pope John Paul II, “Europe is suffering a crisis in values and expressed hope that the addition of 10 more countries in the European Union next year would be an occasion for the continent’s renewal. The pontiff in recent weeks has decried what he calls a movement away in Europe from its Christian roots. ‘You can’t deny, that in these times of ours, Europe is going through a crisis in values, and it is important that it recovers its true identity,’ John Paul told pilgrims and tourists… Of the 10 nations scheduled to join the European Union next year, some, like Malta, Slovakia and the pope’s native Poland, are heavily Roman Catholic. The Vatican has mounted a campaign to persuade EU leaders to include a reference to Christianity’s role in Europe in the Union’s new constitution, which is being prepared.”


In another bizarre twist of human deviation and depravity, “Scientists in China have for the first time used cloning techniques to create hybrid embryos that contain a mix of DNA from humans and rabbits,” according to “The Charlotte Observer” of August 14. “More than 100 of the hybrids made, by fusing human skin cells with rabbit eggs, were allowed to develop for several days before the scientists destroyed them… Although scientists in Massachusetts had previously mixed human cells and cow eggs in a similar attempt to make hybrid embryos for stem cells, those experiments were not successful… Some wondered what, exactly, such a creature would be if it were to develop to term… No one knows if such an embryo could develop into a viable fetus, though experiments with other species suggest it would not.”

As early as in the book of Genesis, God warns that “nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:6). At that time, God stopped “human progress” by confusing their language and by scattering them abroad over the face of all the earth (vv. 7-9). May God intervene soon a second time, before man’s unlimited madness will actually be successful in creating such hybrids of animals and people.


USA Today stated on Wednesday that “Two Colorado counties declared public health emergencies and the state has requested federal money for mosquito spraying as the peak of West Nile season approaches. Colorado leads the nation with 392 human West Nile cases and seven deaths… Nationwide, the agency [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has confirmed 536 West Nile cases and 11 deaths.” This last figure is undoubtedly too low, as the same agency had only confirmed 257 Colorado cases and only six deaths, according to the newspaper.


thestar.com reported on August 16 that a “Conscientious Objector” is the first American during the Iraq war to face possible court-martial for his refusal to serve. Stephen Funk, a 21-year-old gay marine reservist, admits that he missed 47 days of training but says that he was preparing his conscientious objector (CO) application. “To be approved as a CO by any of the forces involves a three-to 12-month investigation. ‘They have to prove conclusively, shortly after joining, that they have had this conviction, if you will,’ [according to] marine reserves spokesperson Capt. Patrick Kerr.” The article continued, “Funk explains he became opposed to military service after ‘Kill! Kill!’ orders during boot-camp drills… ‘I had figured out that war itself was immoral and could not be justified… Yet everyone told me it was futile to try to get out. We were trained to be subordinate in our thoughts, words and actions.’… After being called to join the Iraq war, he said,’ I could no longer just obey.'”


“Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on Wednesday lost a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court to save a Ten Commandments monument he installed in a judicial building, clearing the way for its removal” (Associated Press). As USA Today reported, the monument “was walked off from public view Thursday.”

Over the past few weeks a legal battle has raged in Montgomery, Alabama, over a monument with at least a short form of the Ten Commandments. Yet, when examined closely, this current battle reflects the anti-God, anti-religion element in America, and it additionally shows how little impact signs and monuments of this nature actually have.

Note God’s view as recorded of His people in Isaiah 48:1-2: ” ‘Hear this, O house of Jacob, Who are called by the name of Israel, and have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah; Who swear by the name of the LORD, And make mention of the God of Israel, But not in truth or in righteousness; for they call themselves after the holy city, And lean on the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is His name.’ “

Just how certain and true these words are is reflected in the fact that even the Supreme Court of the United States displays the Ten Commandments — the same court which rejects an appeal to uphold the freedom to retain God in public life. One of those commandments among the ten has something very specific to say about the Sabbath, while others forbid the worship of foreign gods or the creation of images of the true God, as well as adultery, killing, stealing, lying, or coveting. The point remains, it does very little good to post rules on conduct if those rules have no real bearing on how people actually live their lives! Looking at the removed monument from that standpoint, the practical difference whether it can be viewed or not may not be all that great.


There are currently over 800 fires burning in the Province of British Columbia. The closest one is only 6 kilometers away. We are in no immediate danger since the fires are burning on the other side of the lake. There are1000 homes on one hour evacuation notice affecting 3000 people. Some are located in East Kelowna and the rest in Naramata, a town north and east of Penticton. Today on the way home from work I could not see the mountains on the east side of the lake because of the smoke. The whole Okanagan valley is filled with smoke. I was working outside this morning and the smoke made the sun look red. It reminded me of the Scripture in Joel 2:31: “The sun becomes darkness and the moon as blood” (paraphrased). The smoke made the sun look red, a bit of a reminder of what lies ahead in the Great Tribulation. The fire has tripled in size in one day, so who knows what tomorrow will bring. –Rene Messier

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Q: Please explain what Christ means with the "open door" in Revelation 3:8. Is that door still open today, or has it been shut?

A: In Revelation 3:7-8, Christ tells the angel of the church in Philadelphia: “These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens’: … ‘See I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.'”

Whatever that open door is, it is still open for those who belong to the church in Philadelphia. “The church in Philadelphia” is mainly a reference here to faithful Christians who have developed in their lives a “Philadelphian spirit” or attitude — as applied to us today, it does not refer to a specific local church or particular organization. Those are simply Scripturally wrong who claim that they — as an organization — are THE remnant of the Philadelphia era. Christ makes clear that it is He who opens and shuts. To the church in Philadelphia, He specifically says, “I have set before YOU an open door, and NO ONE can shut it.”

What is this open door?

(1) At least four Scriptures explain that the term “open door” refers to the ability of the church in Philadelphia to preach the gospel in all the world as a witness to all nations, prior to Christ’s return. Acts 14:27 states, “He had opened the DOOR OF FAITH to the Gentiles.” 1 Corinthians 16:9 points out, “…a great and effective DOOR has opened to me” in Ephesus. 2 Corinthians 2:12 says, “…when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a DOOR was opened to me by the Lord…” Finally, Colossians 4:3 states, “…that God would open to us a DOOR for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.”

These Scriptures show that the open door is associated with preaching Christ’s gospel of the Kingdom of God. However, the term “open door” is not limited to just preaching the gospel message to the world. There are other Scriptures that identify additional aspects of the “open door”:

(2) In the parable of the ten virgins, the five wise virgins, who were ready, went with Christ to the wedding, and, as Matthew 25:10 tells us, the open door was shut. When the foolish virgins, who were not ready, came and said, “Lord, Lord, open to us!”, Christ answered them, “I do not know you” (verses 11-12). Likewise, in Luke 13:25, we read that the time will come when the Master of the house (the church of God) will shut the door and won’t let those in who are standing outside, knocking.

The open door, then, is also associated with the ability of the five wise virgins to enter God’s Kingdom. The foolish virgins were unable to do so — for them, the door was shut. Christ told us to “enter” by the narrow gate which leads to life, and that only few will find it (Matthew 7:13-14). Only for the few, then, the spiritual Philadelphians, and for those who may still become spiritual Philadelphians, before Christ’s return, the door to the gate of eternal life is and remains to be open. For the overwhelming majority of mankind, it is closed at this point in time, and it has been closed since God placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, to guard or protect the way to the tree of life. (This door to eternal life WILL be opened later to mankind, after Christ’s return, during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?” And “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)

We read in Revelation 3:20 that the church of the Laodiceans — those with a Laodicean attitude of spiritual blindness and self-righteousness (Revelation 3:16-18) — has shut the door. Christ is outside, standing in front of the door, knocking. Christ says, “IF anyone… opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me [at the Wedding Supper].” Christ, then, must give us an open door to let Him into our lives — to let Him live His life within us (Galatians 2:20). As long as we are and remain spiritual Philadelphians, Christ has given us that open door. Christ WILL live His life in us, and NO ONE can shut Him out. No one — except we ourselves can do it. If we shut Him out, Christ is not going to force us to keep the door open. He does not force us to go God’s Way of Life. As we continue to shut Christ more and more out of our lives, we cease to be spiritual Philadelphians and become lukewarm and self-righteous Laodiceans. It is the spiritual Laodiceans who have shut the door, while Christ stands outside — at the door of their hearts — knocking for a while to be received back into their lives. We are living at the very time when God IS knocking at the doors of many Laodiceans. If they don’t repent, refusing to let Christ become again center stage of their lives, it will be they who will be knocking at HIS door at the time of Christ’s return to enter the Wedding Supper. By then, the door will be shut for them. Unless the spiritual Laodiceans repent, open the door of their hearts and let Christ in, and become thereby spiritual Philadelphians, the door to eternal life remains shut for them.

(3) Christ identifies Himself many times as the “open door.” In John 10:1-9, Christ talks about Himself as the door to the sheep. He says that he who enters the sheepfold by the door (verse 2) is the true shepherd, and that everyone will be saved who enters through Christ. That is what the five virgins did, when they entered the wedding room through Jesus Christ, the open door, going in and finding pasture (compare John 10:7, 9).

We of ourselves have only a little strength (Revelation 3:8). Our strength of overcoming and living a Christian life must come through Jesus Christ, the open door to God the Father. Paul was confident that God would complete the good work in those in whom He had begun it (Philippians 1:6). Christ said that those who endure to the end WILL be saved. They are the VERY elect. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes, because they are the called, and the chosen, and the faithful ones (Revelation 14:4; 17:14).

The “open door” is associated with Christ Himself who has given Himself to the spiritual Philadelphians. Christ said that He gave the Morning Star to those in Thyatira. Those Christians can be described as spiritual Philadelphians, because they will rule in the world to come (Revelation 2:26-28). Christ later identified Himself as that very Morning Star (Revelation 22:16; 2 Peter 1:19). He, the Morning Star, gives Himself to His people. The same symbolism is used regarding the open door — Christ gives Himself, as an open door, to the spiritual Philadelphians.

Revelation 3:12 says that the true Philadelphians will be “pillars” in the temple of God, and that they will go out no more. It is given to them to go through the open door, Christ, into the temple of God, in order to be pillars there.

What does it mean, practically, that Christ, the open door to God the Father and to God’s Kingdom, has opened the doors of our hearts to let Him live in us?

When Peter and some of the other disciples went fishing, the resurrected Christ appeared to them and asked Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” The Lamsa translation says, “Do you love Me more than these THINGS?” (John 21:15). The reference is to the fish that they had just caught.

When Peter confessed three times that he loved Christ, Jesus admonished him three times to “feed” and “tend” the lambs and sheep (verses 15-17). Peter’s love for Christ would be manifested and seen in his tending and feeding of Christ’s church — by looking after the sheep, by taking care of them, and by feeding them with the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). Christ said to Peter, “Follow Me” (verse 19). That is, follow My example of being a good shepherd of My sheep, who would even be willing, if necessary, to lay down his life for the sheep (verse 18).

Christ also said that the harvest was plentiful, but that the laborers were few, and that we should pray for laborers (Luke 10:2). We have today, potentially, a plentiful harvest as the result of the preaching of the gospel through Mr. Armstrong.

(4) God closed the door of the ark, after Noah and his family, as well as the selected animals, had entered the ship. Genesis 7:16 reads, in the Revised English Bible, “The Lord closed the door on him.” God did so, after righteous Noah and his family had entered the ark through the open door, which no one could shut for them. They entered the ark to be saved from destruction. This is interesting, as Revelation 3:10 points out that the church in Philadelphia — those who have a Philadelphian spirit — will be protected from the hour of trial or tribulation which shall come upon the whole world. The flood destroyed the whole world at the time of Noah, and Christ said that the Great Tribulation to come would destroy all of mankind, if Christ would not intervene at the very end (Matthew 24:21-22). The open door, that has been given to the Philadelphians, is also associated with physical protection from the Great Tribulation.

In conclusion, our preaching of the gospel to the world needs to continue and must not stop. God has given to the spiritual Philadelphians the open door of preaching His word, and NO ONE can shut this door. At the same time, we must strive to enter the narrow door that leads to eternal life, by letting Christ — the door to God the Father and to God’s Kingdom — live in our hearts. If we do, God promises us entrance into His Kingdom as born-again members of His Family (2 Peter 1:10-11), as well as physical protection from the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:14).

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

We have placed another Standing Watch program on our Website, discussing baptism. A new program will be recorded on Friday.

The text for our new booklet on Angels, Demons and the Spirit World has been written and has entered the first review cycle.

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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

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©2024 Church of the Eternal God