|Live Services||If You Would Be Perfect|
|Editorial||"What It Boils Downs To"|
|Q&A||Free From The Law?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
If You Would Be Perfect
Dave Harris will give the sermon this Sabbath, August 30, 2003. The title of the sermon is, “If You Would Be Perfect.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
"What It Boils Downs To"
Are you familiar with the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water? The way the folk tale goes is, if a frog jumps into a boiling pot of water it will jump out immediately. If it is placed into tepid water and the temperature is increased gradually, the frog will stay in until it boils to death due to its cold-blooded nature.
The problem is that the potential harm is ever so slightly increased in minute increments, almost unnoticeable, until the harm is actually done.
This same phenomenon is going on in the world around us. Take TV for example. What has happened to TV in the last 40 years? It seems that the envelope is being pushed every which way. Programming seems to have an agenda to subtly introduce more and more sex, violence, and things God abhors. We are being asked to accept actions contrary to God’s ways as being OK. You may be able to recall some shows once considered risqué. By today’s standards most would be considered tame.
Well, the same thing could be happening to us each and every day as we battle Self, Satan and Society.
Are we compromising and giving in a little here and a little there? Are we accepting what God says we shouldn’t? OR, are we standing up for what’s right? Are we following Christ’s example and living by every Word in the Bible?
One way to keep from being affected by these never ending little temperature increases is to take a page from the Bereans. They… received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily… (Acts 17:11).
What it boils down to is this; if we are armed with the Word of God and use it as our meter of right and wrong, we will be less likely to succumb to error or stray from the narrow path that leads to the Kingdom of God.
This Week in the News
THE US — SPREADING TOO THINLY?
As the United States and its allies continue to struggle to bring about a resolution in Iraq, many leading experts warn that there are not enough “boots” on the ground. They caution that America must provide more soldiers, more money and a much greater commitment to this effort if there is to be any success. USA Today reported on August 27, that “Iraq will need tens of billions of dollars in contributions from overseas in the next year to fund the reconstruction effort,” according to the top U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer. The article continued, “Bremer said it would cost $2 billion just to meet current electrical demand and an estimated $16 billion over four years to deliver clean water to all Iraqis. The figures, which must be added to the $4 billion the Pentagon spends each month on military operations in Iraq, offer the latest evidence that the price of the Iraqi occupation is growing substantially.”
In addition, American soldiers are being killed in Iraq almost on a daily basis. More American soldiers have already died in Iraq since the end of combat, than while in combat. When the war broke out, Germans were quoted as saying: “They are now spending billions of dollars to blow Iraq to pieces, and then they will spend billions of dollars to rebuild it. What insanity!”
In the meantime, China is hosting a conference concerning North Korea. Along with Russia, efforts are being made to ease this potential powder keg. For their part, the North Koreans are playing nuclear blackmail in an attempt to establish a more friendly relationship with the United States and Japan. In answer to this threat, the U.S. is planning a “war game” that will specifically prepare its navy to interdict the export of weapons from countries such as North Korea. USA Today commented on Wednesday, “Policy experts see no good solutions. A diplomatic breakthrough is unlikely; a war on the peninsula would be so destructive as to be unthinkable; and regional diplomats warn that the status quo is unsustainable.”
Then, there is still Afghanistan. As USA Today reported on Wednesday, “American and Afghan forces killed about a dozen insurgents Wednesday and recaptured a mountain pass in southeastern Afghanistan — the scene of heavy fighting and U.S. bombardments this week.” The article continued, “The battles follow a series of strikes by suspected Taliban against Afghan police and government officials in recent weeks, particularly in the south and the east of the country. The assaults have created new doubts about how much progress has been made by the U.S.-led effort to secure and rebuild the war-battered nation.”
As if all of this was not enough bad news, it even gets worse for the U.S. Der Spiegel Online reported on August 27 that, according to the “Congressional Budget Office,” the government deficit will likely have grown by 2013 to 5.8 trillion dollars — even if the U.S. economy were to show great progress within the next five years.
The United States now finds itself in a role that is clearly headed for disaster! With more and more “hot spots” presumably requiring U.S. involvement, the tasks will eventually overwhelm America’s resources. That these international quagmires are draining the might and the will of countries like Great Britain and the United States relates directly to their national character and to their sins which are separating them from God’s blessings.
Long ago God warned the people of Israel and their eventual descendants that He would punish them if they rejected Him and His ways. These warnings can be found in Deuteronomy 28 and in Leviticus 26, but note this scripture in particular: ” ‘I will break the pride of your power…’ ” (Leviticus 26:19). Unless our nations who have been so richly blessed by God turn back to following His ways, the dire warnings of national punishment will come about in ever increasing fulfillment–until we truly do repent!
Reports from Rene Messier:
Memo, dated August 22, 2003, 7:40PM:
Our power, phone etc. has been out since 4:00PM this afternoon. I do not know if it will go out again. This was caused by a fire south of here. So far 15 homes were burnt in the Kelowna area and the fires are affecting 10,000 people. We are OK but it is smoky by the lake. This is the worst this province has had to go through. Some facts: 850 fires now burning, 673 caused by lightning, 177 by people. 1615 square kilometers have been burnt since April 1. 3450 people are fighting the fires, cost per day $6,000,000.00 — and rising since the fires are getting bigger. We are presently the only ones in the area with power.
Memo, dated August 22, 2003, 8:53PM:
Our daughter just called from Kelowna and informed us that 30,000 people are now directly affected by the fire in East Kelowna. They are either evacuated or on the alert. She was crying because she said it was so awful.
Memo, dated August 23, 2003, 8:23PM:
It has been a quiet day, winds have died down and the fire has been easier to work on by the crews. The official count of homes burnt is 203, with 26,000 evacuated and 16,000 on notice. The fire south of us is moving in the mountains, not populated so no one is in danger at this time.
Memo, dated August 27, 2003, 8:19PM:
In the last few days people were allowed back to their homes — except for 6500 which are still not able to go home because of potential danger. The fire in the north — near Kelowna — is still not contained, but it is burning away from populated areas. The fire south of here is burning south-east. Some people have been evacuated, but I know of no homes burned. The count of homes burnt in the Kelowna area and south of Kelowna is just over 250. The smoke in the air has subsided and it looks promising at this point in having both these fires contained soon.
GERMANY AND ISRAEL
The following includes experts from a speech by Joschka Fischer, Germany’s Foreign Minister, on receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa, Israel, on 29 May 2002. The speech was published in its entirety by the German Federal Foreign Office on May 29, 2002. Mr. Fischer’s comments made over a year ago appear as relevant today, as they were then:
“… Germany, my country, cannot separate itself from its history, cannot leave it behind, cannot forget it. It is our history. We have no other. And responsibility for Auschwitz, for the genocide against German and European Jews, that horrific crime against humanity, is forever part of our history. German democracy has accepted this historical and moral responsibility. The very special relationship between democratic Germany and the State of Israel, which began with Konrad Adenauer and David Ben Gurion, is based on this. The people of Israel can trust in democratic Germany as a reliable friend and partner, both today and in the future. That is not a question of changing political conditions. It is and will be a permanent and solid feature of German politic…
“The responsibility for our history does not vanish or disappear. I am ashamed when Jewish Germans have the feeling that they are left alone again. And I am even more ashamed when German Jews today seriously discuss whether is was not a mistake to stay and live in Germany. This must never happen again, not in democratic Germany. Therefore, the question whether Jews are safe and feel ‘at home’ in Germany is the crucial question of credibility for our German democracy. A question which we Germans have to ask ourselves time and again…
“Our own history teaches us: all forms of anti-Semitism have to be met with our determined opposition. What Hitler and the Nazis did to German Jews, they did first and foremost to Germans, Germans of the Jewish faith. The Holocaust monument in Berlin will also be a symbol of this tremendous loss which is still so painfully felt in my country and its culture…
“We Germans not only have a historical obligation here but also, as Germans and Europeans, our own security interests. We are direct neighbors of the Middle East. War and peace in this region affect us directly, and for that reason we also feel compelled to help the peace process in your region for very egoistical reasons. We regard the current situation with great concern. For many months now, the hope, indeed the expectation, of a substantial peace settlement has given way to new rounds of terror and violence. This week a year ago I was witness to the horrific attack on the “Dolphinarium” during my visit to Tel Aviv. I witnessed the horror and the anger provoked here in Israel by this carefully calculated terror. I do not know how many times since then I have seen television images of new attacks — also here in Haifa only a few weeks ago. Images of horror and grief and of desperate relatives – and then, time and again, images of innocent victims also on the Palestinian side…
“What will the road to such a peace settlement look like? How can we move closer to this goal? One thing seems to me to be more certain than ever: there is no viable military solution. Only a political agreement can bring and guarantee lasting security and peace…
“The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Coalition has a wonderful programmatic statement, which I want to quote in concluding my speech this morning: ‘We are each other’s most important allies in the struggle for peace.’ We should never forget that you don’t have to make peace with your friends, but with your enemies. Just like war, peace begins in the minds of people. Peace begins with the recognition of and respect for the dignity of my enemy.
“Thank you. Shalom.”
TEMPLE MOUNT COMPOUND REOPENED
The WorldNetDaily reported on August 26, 2003, about a clash between Israeli police with Muslims on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after the compound was reopened to Christians and Jews. The article continued: “Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat ordered the site closed to non-Muslim visitors when riots erupted between police and Muslim worshippers a day after Ariel Sharon, now the Israeli prime minister, visited in September 2000 — a visit Arafat used to rationalize the current terrorist uprising, or intifada, that has resulted in more than 5,000 casualties… Last week the Israeli government announced it would reopen the complex to Jewish and Christian visitors for two hours every morning. The Waqf, or Muslim council, which oversees day-to-day affairs at the compound objected, complaining it was not consulted… The compound is known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, having been the site of two Biblical Jewish temples. To Muslims it is the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary. Within the complex is the Dome of the Rock, or Al Aqsa mosque.”
Free From The Law?
Q: Would you please explain 1 Corinthians 9:20-21?
A: 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 is one of those Scriptures that has been used by some for the support of their false claim that Paul no longer taught obedience to God’s law. This is, however, not at all what Paul was saying here.
Let us read, in context, the entire passage of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
“(Verse 19) For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; (verse 20) and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; (verse 21) to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; (verse 22) to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (verse 23) Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”
In a recent “theological” article, the following “explanation” of this passage was conveyed to the readership:
“Paul acted like something he was not. Some people might call that hypocritical or deceptive; Paul calls it part of his evangelistic strategy… For someone to act like a Gentile, they would eat foods that Jews could not, and they would not observe the Sabbath… When Paul was with Jews, he kept the old covenant food laws and weekly and annual Sabbaths. When he was with the Gentiles, he did not. He sometimes acted differently from what he believed.”
Is this “explanation” correct? Was Paul a hypocrite? Did he fail to keep the Sabbath or the Holy Days, when in the presence of Gentiles, so as not to offend them? Did he teach the Gentiles that they did not have to keep the Sabbath, the annual Holy Days, and the dietary laws?
Of course not. The idea that Paul acted as a hypocrite — that he lied and deceived — that he had double standards, and that he refused to keep God’s law and taught others they did not have to keep it, is highly offensive and unscriptural.
Paul recognized the ongoing validity of God’s Law (especially the Ten Commandments, which includes the command to keep the Sabbath holy). Our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…”, explains in detail that the Sabbath, the Annual Holy Days, and God’s dietary laws are still binding. They are not “old covenant laws,” — in fact, to call them such reveals total ignorance as to what a covenant is. A covenant is a contract, which is based on law — it does not bring law into existence. When a covenant becomes obsolete, this does not affect the laws on which the covenant is based. To term certain laws “old covenant laws” is just an idle and futile attempt to somehow make those laws obsolete.
We should note that Paul kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days, when in the presence of Gentiles. In fact, as our booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” points out, Paul even COMMANDED the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath, the Holy Days, and the dietary laws.
What, then, did Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21?
The New Testament makes clear that certain SACRIFICIAL laws are no longer binding today. Paul calls them “a tutor” in Galatians 3:24. This ritual law, which is referred to as a “LAW,” “was added because of transgression” (Galatians 3:19). Sin is the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4), the Ten Commandments (James 2:8-12). We see, then, that the Ten Commandments — the “LAW” — had to be in effect BEFORE the sacrificial law system was added — as it was added BECAUSE OF transgression. The sacrificial system with its ritualistic rules is no longer necessary to be kept — at the same time, it would NOT be SINFUL to keep it, while in the presence of Jews. Therefore, when Paul was with Jews, he would not offend them by refusing to keep their customs. He would not keep those customs, of course, when he was with Gentiles, as these customs or ritualistic laws are no longer binding. Paul DID make clear, however, that he DID teach and keep the spiritual LAW of God (Romans 7:14) that IS still binding, including ALL of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:17-19).
Notice how the “Nelson Study Bible” explains 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
“Paul put his ministry of the gospel above his personal desires. He was willing to conform to the customs of other people, whether Jew or Gentile, in order to bring them to Christ. For example, in order to relate to the Jews in Jerusalem he made a Nazarite vow in the temple (Acts 21:23, 24). Around those who were under the Law — the Jews — Paul obeyed the Law. Around those who were outside the Law — the Gentiles — Paul did not observe JEWISH CUSTOM. Paul clarified this, however, lest anyone misunderstand his actions. He obeyed GOD’S LAW through obedience toward Christ.”
The New Bible Commentary concurs, referring to the ritualistic sacrificial law as the “Mosaic” law:
“Paul has surrendered more than his right to personal subsistence. Though he is free from all men, i.e. in no sense bound by the standards or fashions of others, he is prepared to make himself a slave to all, and conform to their standards or fashions, providing no real principle is at stake, in order to win as many as possible… So when among Jews he acts as a Jew, conforming to their customs under the Mosaic law (Acts 16:3; 18:18; 21:26), though as a Christian he himself is no longer obliged to keep that law (cf. Gal. 2:11-21). Similarly he is ready to identify himself with those who are not bound by the Jewish law, i.e. Gentiles; though he adds an important proviso. Gentiles not only disregard the Mosaic law [our comment: that part of the law of Moses that is ritual and no longer binding], but may also refuse to recognize any divine commandments [our comment: the Ten Commandments with its statutes and judgments — including the Sabbath, the annual Holy Days, and the dietary and tithing laws].”
Paul never taught others to sin, and he was careful that he did not sin, either. He would have never disobeyed God by breaking His law, only to “win” the Gentiles. He was NOT without God’s law, although he did no longer preach as binding and mandatory physical circumcision or other sacrificial rituals, as those — temporary — laws had been abolished by God in the New Testament. At the same time, he did not offend his Jewish audience by violating their customs and traditions, as long as he could keep them without sinning against God.
Finally, although he was not “under the law,” he became as one “under the law,” so that he might win those under the law. As we explain in our booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” the term “under the law” refers to its penalty. When we sin, the penalty of sin — death — is hanging over us like the sword of Damocles. Through the sacrifice of Christ, our repentance and our belief in and acceptance of His sacrifice, we can have forgiveness of our sins, that is, we won’t have to die anymore. The death penalty is no longer hanging over our heads. In order to win those who had not yet accepted Christ’s sacrifice, Paul became as one of them. He showed them compassion and sympathy, rather than condemning and offending them. He became as one under the penalty of the law, as he understood what it was like to live in sin, being cut off and separated from God.
Paul never taught that any of God’s abiding laws could be broken. He taught, “It is the duty of the people of God to keep the Sabbath” (Hebrews 4:9; Lamsa translation). Those who want to REFUSE to keep God’s spiritual law, including the weekly and annual Sabbaths, twist certain Scriptures and invent arguments to justify their sinful conduct. They do this, however, “to their own destruction” (compare 2 Peter 3:14-16).
For more information about the ongoing duty of a true Christian to keep God’s weekly and annual Sabbaths, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
On August 21, we conducted a technology meeting in Colorado. Goal of the meeting was to plan for the Church of the Eternal God’s future uses of the Internet to support the work of the Church.
1. In order to accommodate current and future growth, a redesign of the site has been planned. This will include a new “look” with the goal being to make our home page more appealing and much more useable.
2. Part of the redesign will focus on utilizing the abundant material already produced. For example, the sermon summaries, editorials, Q&A, etc. will be made more accessible.
3. Steps to establish STANDINGWATCH as an independent website for a public liaison to CEG are now being taken. This will serve much as did “The Plain Truth” in times past.
4. With new technologies emerging quite rapidly, it was determined to review availability of options in both software and hardware for CEG’s purposes.
5. Sermon broadcast requirements will be standardized to assure timely production. This will include securing better hosting facilities.
6. Different strategies for bringing more traffic and attention to the CEG website were explored.
7. Those attending this meeting: Eric and Shana Rank, Robb and Laura Harris, Shelly Bruno and Dave and Peggy Harris.
We have placed another Standing Watch program on our Website, discussing “Heaven and Hell.” A new program will be recorded on Friday.
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