Update 156


… in Heaven

On Saturday, August 14, 2004, Norbert Link will be giving the sermon, titled, “… in Heaven.”

Back to top


by Rene Messier (Canada)

There was a man in the mid 30’s during the harsh depression that hit the US and Canada. He was very hungry, unemployed, impoverished and homeless. He was walking along a railway track on a bright day and he said out loud: “Lord I am hungry and broke, please take care of my needs at this time.” He looked down and spotted a 50 cent piece on the ground. Filled with joy and gratitude he picked it up and started to think about the fine meal he could have with this 50 cent piece.

As he walked towards town he came across a trestle which he had to cross. Half way across he accidentally dropped the 50 cent piece. He reached out for it in desperation but it slipped through the rail ties and started to drop to the river below. He watched as it turned and glistened in the sun and eventually slipped into the rushing waters of the river to disappear forever. He slowly got up on his feet and said: “Lord, I thank you that I still have my appetite.”

Although this is a story of fiction, it reflects an attitude we do not see a lot of today. Are we really grateful for all the things we have? Not the things we want but the things we have? Today we live in an ungrateful age. Yet, let’s look at the admonishment in Hebrews 13:5: “… be content with such things as you have.” At the beginning of the verse we are admonished to be without covetousness. Paul also admonishes us in Philippians 4:11, stating, he learned to be content with whatever state he was in. We have to learn to do the same. It is sometimes difficult to have such an attitude, when we go through trials, tests, sickness and the stress associated with living in this age. Remember, it is he who endures to the end who will be saved. So we must not only persevere but be content at the same time.

Someone who is content with what he has would by extension be grateful for what he has.

Look at Paul’s opening statements in Colossians 1:3, “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you…” Paul’s statement expresses gratitude to God and Jesus Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 1:2, we read: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers…” another expression of thanks and gratitude to God.

Are we really thankful? You might ask, for what?

For the precious knowledge we have. For the truth of God’s Word and the understanding He gives us through His Holy Spirit.

We have a lot to be thankful for as God’s children and family. We should not only learn to be content with the things that we have, but be grateful, giving thanks to God for all the things He gives us.

A man’s life doesn’t consist of the things he possesses. It is not the person who accumulates the most toys that wins, but he who does the will of the Father. We know His will and we should be content with the precious truths we have; and give thanks to God in a sincere spirit of gratitude for all He does for us now and for the opportunity in the future to serve mankind as His sons and daughters.

Back to top

Real Threats for Planet Earth

On August 9, 2004, BBC News published a frightening article, titled, “Nature ‘mankind’s gravest threat’.” The article continued to point out that “Giant tsunamis, super volcanoes and earthquakes could pose a greater threat than terrorism, scientists claim.” The article mentioned the following scientific predictions which might, or might not, happen in our lifetime: “Giant walls of water that can devastate coastal cities, volcanoes so big that their ash crushes houses 1,500 km (932 miles) away, giant earthquakes and asteroid impacts.

The article explained: “The last ‘super volcanic eruption’ was back in April 1815, when Tambora in Indonesia exploded violently, in what was the largest eruption in historic time. The eruption column reached a height of about 44 km (28 miles), ash fell as far as 1,300 km (800 miles) from the volcano – and an estimated 92,000 people were killed. Rare though they are, events this catastrophic need to be taken very seriously. The potential threat that scientists currently have their eye on is an insecure rock – the size of the Isle of Man – in the Canary Island of La Palma. The rock is in the process of slipping into the sea and Professor McGuire fears that when it finally collapses, the resulting tsunami will cause massive destruction along the coasts of countries like the USA, UK and many on the African continent, within a matter of hours… The triggering factor could be the eruption of the volcano on La Palma, called Cumbre Vieja, which could feasibly blow ‘anytime,’ according to Professor McGuire.”

The article continued: “The greatest danger to humanity comes from asteroids, but work funded largely by the US government is swiftly tackling this threat… According to Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores University, UK, the threat of cosmic mega disasters will be essentially ‘abolished within 30 years.'”

Of course, the question is, Do we have another 30 years — even if this time frame were remotely accurate?

In a related article, published by the European Space agency on July 21, it was stated: “Once dismissed as a nautical myth, freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks have been accepted as a leading cause of large ship sinkings. Results from ESA’s ERS satellites helped establish the widespread existence of these ‘rogue’ waves and are now being used to study their origins. Severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades. Rogue waves are believed to be the major cause in many such cases.”

Reuters published an article by the end of July, reporting about the fear of scientists that an “Alaska volcano that last erupted 12 years ago, raining ash on the state’s largest city, is now rumbling with earthquakes that may be a precursor to another eruption.”

The article continued: “In 1992, Mount Spurr’s eruption sent an ash plume up 65,000 feet, disrupting air traffic….Two other Alaska volcanoes are classified as subjects of elevated concern. Mount Veniaminof, a 7,073-foot volcano on the Alaska Peninsula and about 510 miles southwest of Anchorage, has been emitting small amounts of steam and ash since April. Shishaldin Volcano, a 9,372-foot peak in the eastern Aleutian Islands, has also been emitting ash. Alaska has about 60 volcanoes that have been active in the past.”

The Bible predicts gigantic volcanic eruptions and cosmic disturbances in the not-to-distant future. For a full analysis of this little-understood REAL THREAT to humanity, please read our free booklet, “Evolution — a Fairy Tale for Adults.”

Biblical Locust Plagues on the Rise

On August 6, 2004, Reuters reported about a tremendous locust plague in West Africa. The article was titled, “West Africans Urged to Fight Locusts.” It was pointed out: “Desperate West African farmers whose crops are being devoured by tens of millions of locusts have been urged to burn, drown and stamp on the insects that can decimate whole fields in minutes. The region’s worst locust crisis for 15 years has already seen Mauritania — twice the size of France — engulfed by the plague and neighbouring Mali said on Friday the swarms had spread across most of its vast arid territory… Desert locust swarms contain up to 80 million insects per square km and can travel more than 130 km (80 miles) a day. They can devastate entire crop fields in minutes, with adult locusts munching their own weight, about two grams, of food a day. The swarms are moving across the Sahara desert towards countries including Senegal, Niger, Chad and Gambia, many of whose inhabitants are subsistence farmers and whose governments lack the resources to fight the airborne invasion.”

The article continued: “The plague has also now spread to Senegal, according to a team of experts sent by France’s agronomical research centre CIRAD. President Abdoulaye Wade has cancelled his holiday and urged world leaders to declare war on the insects… Residents in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott compared the latest plague — which ate their main football pitch as well as the president’s gardens — with the locust invasion of 1987-89. That plague was the worst in 30 years, sparking fears of famine and taking $300 million and 28 states to contain.”

When reading such accounts, one is reminded of the frightening prophecies for our time, as written down thousands of years ago in the book of Joel. Beginning in verse 2 of chapter one, the prophet predicted: “Hear this, you elders, And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, Or even in the days of your fathers?” The prophet then described unprecedented locust plagues still to occur. There have always been locust plagues, of course, but, apparently, not with the same magnitude and dire consequences. We read in verses 4-7: “What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten… For a nation [of locusts] has come up against My land, Strong, and without number; his teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has the fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white.”

In addition, John, a prophet and apostle of Jesus Christ, predicted terrible and unprecedented wars to break out on this earth, in the near future, comparing helicopters and airplanes with locusts. We read in Revelation 9:3-10: “Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as scorpions of the earth have power… The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men… and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails.”

Real and figurative locusts will bring devastation over the entire earth in the not-too-distant future. God warned us of these events, so that we can spiritually prepare for them.

Nuclear Threat from Korea

On August 3, 2004, Reuters reported: “North Korea is deploying new land- and sea-based ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and may have sufficient range to hit the United States… Apart from targeting the United States, South Korea or Japan, cash-strapped North Korea might seek to sell the technology to countries that have bought its missiles in the past, with Iran a prime candidate… North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in January 2003 and is locked in long-running crisis talks with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea over terms for scrapping its atomic weapons program. The extent of that program remains unclear, although North Korea’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as telling a senior U.S. official last year that Pyongyang possessed nuclear weapons… The new land-based system had an estimated range of 2,500 to 4,000 km (1,560 to 2,500 miles), and the sea-based system, launchable from a submarine or a ship, had a range of at least 2,500 km.”

The article continued, quoting an expert, as follows: “‘If you can get a missile aboard a warship, in particular aboard a submarine…you can move your submarine to strike at targets such as Hawaii or the United States, just as examples. Whereas it would be much more difficult to actually develop a ground-launched missile to achieve that sort of a range.’… Until now only the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China have been known to possess submarine-launched nuclear weapons, although there has been speculation that Israel has a similar capability.”

Terrible Consequences of War

Der Stern Online published a shocking article, describing the terrible psychological consequences for soldiers returning from war. The article was published on July 15, and was titled, “The Trauma of War.” Doctors and scientists examined German soldiers returning from Kosovo and Afghanistan, and reported their frightening and disturbing findings: “Some say that they beat their children, when helping them with their school work — something that they had never done before… In other cases, they show no more emotions, neither joy nor sadness… Many try desperately to forget the past. They withdraw, drink or take drugs. Some become depressive and avoid their friends… In extreme cases, returning soldiers go berserk and kill others.” The article also pointed out that traumatic developments, following experiences in war, can be proven bio-chemically in the brain.”

Greece a Future European leader?

As euobserver reported on August 9, “Greece wants to be among the avant garde in the newly enlarged EU, the Greek prime minister has said. In an interview with the Le Monde, Costas Caramanlis said ‘we want to be among the avant-garde of the European Union through reinforced co-operation.’ He added: ‘Although I am in favour of enlargement, I cannot imagine that in a large Europe, everyone will advance at the same speed. The countries that believe in a strong Europe have to form an avant-garde.'” The article continued:

“Speaking about Turkey’s eventual membership of the EU, Mr Caramanlis said the Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government had made a ‘great effort’ to reform. He said that a ‘Europeanised Turkey’ is in the interests of Turks themselves, of countries neighbouring Turkey and the EU.”

Bible prophecy reveals that Greece will play a role in a powerful future Europe. Whether Turkey will become a full-fledged member of Europe appears doubtful, however.

European Passports and the USA

Euobserver reported on August 11 that “a year’s extra time has been granted to all EU member states with visa waiver agreements with the US to start issuing passports with biometric measures such as fingerprints.This year’s deadline has been extended to 26 October 2005 after it became apparent that so many countries were not going to be able to have the new passports ready on time.

“The issuing of biometric passports is part of a US law designed to tighten up border security after the 11 September (2001) terrorist attacks. However, one requirement is still in place for 26 October this year. By that time, ‘all passports used for travel in the Visa Waiver Programme must be machine-readable,’ says a State Department press release. If visitors – including those from countries whose citizens are not normally obliged to have a visa to get into the US – do not have machine-readable passports then they will have to obtain a visa.

“EU member states that have visa waiver agreements are 14 of the ‘old’ member states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and the UK) and one new member state, Slovenia.

The article continued to report about frictions among European nations, regarding this issue of US passports:

“Greece and the nine other new member states do not have visa waiver agreements with the US. For the new member states, this has been a source of friction recently where some of them, particularly Poland and the Czech Republic, had agitated about invoking a law requiring solidarity from other member states on the issue. This so-called solidarity clause, which is part of the Schengen (open borders) legislation, would mean that all EU member states would be required to act uniformly on the issue.

“The European Commission said earlier this year that EU investigations into whether the new member states are fit to join the open borders area would garner useful information for the US authorities. An official at the time said that the Brussels executive would rather negotiate to see whether all new member states as a bloc could join the visa waiver in 2006 or 2007 – the years they are expected to join Schengen.

“Other countries that have a visa waiver agreement with the US and are affected by the new deadline are Andorra, Australia, Brunei, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Singapore and Switzerland.”

Back to top

Many Christian organizations and individuals refer to Jesus Christ as "the Lord." Other people variously refer to Him as "Savior," "Jesus" or "Christ." Are any of these expressions wrong? Are there additional expressions we could use? What is the correct name to use when speaking of the Messiah?

This is important to understand, and the Bible reveals Who Jesus Christ is and by what name we should address Him. Peter, in speaking before the Sanhedrin in defense of healing a lame man, said: “‘let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole'” (Acts 4:10). Continuing in verse 12: “‘Nor is there salvation in any other, for there in no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.'”

At another time, Peter again taught the power and significance of Jesus Christ.

This time, he was addressing the Gentile household of Cornelius, and he explained about Jesus in this way: “‘To Him all the prophets witness that, THROUGH HIS NAME, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins'” (Acts 10:43).

Indeed, the Old Testament speaks of the coming of the Messiah (Compare Daniel 9:25-26), and it also tells something about Him through the name that was to be given to Him: “‘Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL'” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel literally means, “God with us!”

From the “Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible” (Herbert Lockyer, Senior Editor), we find this explanation: “The word MESSIAH comes from a Hebrew term that means ‘ANOINTED ONE.’ Its Greek counterpart is CHRISTOS, from which the word CHRIST comes. Messiah was one of the titles used by early Christians to describe who Jesus was (emphasis added).”

Just as in the Old Testament many names were applied to God, so in the New Testament various names, or titles, were used that pertained to the Messiah.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and he told her that she would be the one to bear the Messiah: “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall CALL HIS NAME JESUS. He will be great, and will be CALLED THE SON OF THE HIGHEST; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end'” (Luke 1:30-33). In answering Mary’s question as to how this birth would occur, “…the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, the Holy One who is to be born will be CALLED THE SON OF GOD'” (verse 35).

When this announcement was given to Mary, she was betrothed to Joseph — that is, she was engaged to him. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to reassure him. He said of Mary: “‘And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall CALL HIS NAME JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins'” (Matthew 1:21). Continuing in verses 24 and 25: “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he CALLED HIS NAME JESUS.”

We also find this testimony in Luke 2:21: “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, HIS NAME WAS CALLED JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”

To understand the meaning of the name Jesus, let’s again refer to what the angel said to Joseph: “‘…and you shall call His name Jesus [margin: “Lit. SAVIOR”], for He will save His people from their sins'” (Matthew 1:21). In this instance, the angel instructs Joseph as to what to name the Child, and he also defines what the name “Jesus” means. In the Old Testament, the name Joshua also similarly means “Jehovah-saved.” It is quite likely that the Greek transliterated word Jesus has arisen from the Hebrew form of Joshua — the name that most Hebrew speaking Jews would have used at the time of the Messiah’s earthly life.

During His ministry Jesus was called RABBI (TEACHER) by both those who were His disciples (compare John 1:38) and by those who did not truly accept Him for Who He was (compare Matthew 22:34-36).

Following His resurrection, we find that one of the disciples made this statement of Jesus: “And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My LORD and my GOD!'” (John 20:28). Several times Jesus is referred to as “Lord,” and that conveys the sense of “MASTER” in relation to Christ being the sovereign Creator and Redeemer (compare John 1:1-4). Lord may also serve as a polite term of address meaning “Sir.”

Note how Peter concluded his powerful witness on the Day of Pentecost: “‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both LORD and CHRIST'” (Acts 2:36). Even at the very conclusion of the Book of Revelation, we find this statement: “The grace of our LORD Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21).

The Roman ruler Pilate did something that gives us more understanding concerning how we are to address the Messiah: “Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:19). What Pilate did was to write this title in more than one language: “Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in HEBREW, GREEK, AND LATIN” (John 19:20). The significance of this deed is also reflected in the miraculous events surrounding the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. The crowd that was assembled there were from many countries, but they all heard the disciples of Jesus speaking in their own native tongues — not just Hebrew, or Aramaic, or Greek, or Latin. In verse 11 of Acts 2, this testimony is given: “‘…we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.'”

Those other languages would have also included appropriate names for Jesus Christ. These people understood what they heard.

When Saul, later to be named Paul, was called, Jesus revealed Himself to him. Saul asked: “‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I AM JESUS, whom you are persecuting…'” (Acts 9:5).

Even the demonic world knows about the Messiah. “Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, JESUS OF NAZARETH? Did You come to destroy us? I KNOW WHO YOU ARE — THE HOLY ONE OF GOD!'” (Mark 1:23-24). Another incident involved the seven sons of Sceva who tried to exorcise an evil spirit. Here is the response: “And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?'” (Acts 19:15).

There are also those who use the name of Jesus Christ in false ways even today. Jesus gave one of the major warnings for the end of this age: “‘For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many”‘” (Matthew 24:5). Jesus also warned about those who think that they are doing things in Christ’s name — that is, in ways which He approves: “‘Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”‘” (Matthew 7:21-23).

As we can see from the foregoing, using the name of Jesus Christ must be with His approval.

We see that the Father of glory — God — has seated the Lord Jesus Christ at His own right hand “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). Note, also, this statement from Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him THE NAME WHICH IS ABOVE EVERY NAME, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that EVERY TONGUE should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father.”

In the last days of this age, Jesus promised His help and protection to those who truly recognize Who He is. In Revelation 3, verse 8, we find this promise of hope from Jesus Christ: “‘I know your works, See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, AND HAVE NOT DENIED MY NAME.'” Continuing in verse 10: “‘Because you have kept MY COMMAND to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.'”

Then, in Revelation 3:12: “‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and I will write on him My new name.'”

How we address the Messiah must be based on our understanding of Who He is and what He represents. His name gives us access to the Father and to answered prayers! Whatever language we may speak, we must come to recognize the preeminence of Jesus Christ in our lives. Finally, whether we refer to Christ as the Messiah, Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, Lord, God, Son of God, Master, Teacher, King, Savior, or any number of other names and titles that the Word of God applies to Him, we must understand the deep meaning conveyed with these expressions, and we must back up all that we do by making certain that we are doing the will of our Father in heaven!

Back to top

While we are still completing our review of our soon-to-be-released new book, “Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery,” a new booklet on Tithing has been written and entered the first review cycle this week.

Back to top

How This Work is Financed

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

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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God