Update 170


Life of David

On Saturday, December 4, 2004, Norbert Link will give the sermon, continuing the series on the life of David.

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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What's Wrong With Godly Love?

by Norbert Link

How can we be recognized as Christ’s disciples? Many thoughts may come to mind, but let us consider Christ’s clear and unambiguous answer, as recorded in John 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Christ was talking about godly love, “agape” in Greek. This kind of love is not a sentimental, temporary fleeting emotion — it is the enduring outgoing concern for the welfare, benefit, enrichment and happiness of our spiritual brothers and sisters.

How about us? Do we have this kind of love for one another?

Paul describes godly love (“charity” in the Authorized Version, “agape” in Greek) in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Let us look at the Living Bible’s interpretation of this passage:

“Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.”

God’s love fulfills His Law (Romans 13:10). Christ kept the Law perfectly, since He loved God perfectly. Since love is the fulfillment of the Law, and sin is the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4, AV), we don’t love God perfectly, when we sin. To put it differently, if we had perfect love for God, we would not sin, by transgressing His Law. God’s Law defines HOW to love Him and our neighbor. Do you have this kind of love — a love which manifests and proves itself by conduct — how we act? 1 John 3:18 tells us: “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

If we truly love our neighbor, we won’t speak evil of him or judge him (James 4:11). We won’t hate (compare 1 John 3:10-15) or ignore him, acting indifferently toward him. Rather, this is what we will do, as clearly explained in Matthew 25:34-40: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave ME food; I was thirsty and you gave ME drink; I was a stranger and you took ME in; I was naked and you clothed ME; I was sick and you visited ME; I was in prison and you came to ME.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see YOU hungry and feed YOU, or thirsty and give YOU drink? When did we see YOU a stranger and take YOU in, or naked and clothe YOU? Or when did we see YOU sick, or in prison, and come to YOU?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these MY BRETHREN, you did it to ME.'”

How often have we heard or read those meaningful words? But, how often have we FAILED to apply them? Our love must be “without hypocrisy” or partiality (Romans 12:9). Rather, we are to be “kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in DILIGENCE, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord… distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” (Romans 12:10-13).

We ALL have failed in this regard. Hurt feelings, negligence, indifference, past sins or transgressions, not yet forgiven, have created — to a slight or perhaps even not so slight degree — a wall between us and our brothers and sisters, thereby preventing, to some extent, godly love to fully flow from us toward our neighbor. This problem — this LACK OF DILIGENCE — must be overcome. We must become more and more perfect in love (1 John 4:17; Matthew 5:43-48), as GOD IS PERFECT LOVE (1 John 4:16), without partiality or hypocrisy (compare James 3:13-17).

When God’s love in us flows from us toward others, God WILL do mighty things, as He did in the early days of the New Testament Church. We read in Acts 2:44-47: “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

Yes, people recognized Christ’s disciples, when they showed their godly love for each other. As a consequence, God called many of those people into that loving group of believers — the Church of God. Each believer was part of that group. Each believer, as well as his or her example, did count!

It is not any different today. We must act and live today, as the Church did then. And what God performed then, He will accomplish now. So let us ask ourselves: “What’s Wrong With Godly Love?”

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Dolphins Protect Swimmers

On November 22, 2004, Reuters reported the following:

“A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark, media reported on Tuesday. Lifesavers Rob Howes, his 15-year-old daughter Niccy, Karina Cooper and Helen Slade were swimming 300 feet off Ocean Beach near Whangarei on New Zealand’s North Island when the dolphins herded them — apparently to protect them from a shark. ‘They started to herd us up, they pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us,’ Howes told the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA). Howes tried to drift away from the group, but two of the bigger dolphins herded him back just as he spotted a nine-foot great white shark swimming toward the group…. ‘They could have sensed the danger to the swimmers and taken action to protect them,’ Orca [Research’s] Ingrid Visser told NZPA.”

More from Cardinal Ratzinger

Zenit reported on November 25, 2004, that “In the face of Europe’s ideological laicism, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger thinks that the way religious freedom works in the United States is a model worth studying.” The article continued to quote Ratzinger, as follows: “‘… we still don’t know where Europe will go, but the Constitution of the European Union might be a first step toward a new conscious search of its soul,’ the cardinal said…. In comparing U.S. and European attitudes to diverse religions, Cardinal Ratzinger added: ‘I think that from many points of view the American model is the better one… People who did not want to belong to a STATE CHURCH, went to the United States and intentionally constituted a state that does not impose a church and which simply is not perceived as religiously neutral, but as a space within which religions can move and also enjoy organizational freedom without being simply relegated to the private sphere,’ he explained. On this point, ‘one can undoubtedly learn from the United States,’ as it is a ‘process by which the state makes room for religion, which is not imposed, but which, thanks to the state, lives, exists and has a public creative force,’ the cardinal said. ‘It certainly is a positive way.'”

Sadly, the Bible clearly predicts that in the future, Europe WILL experience a new version of the age-old historical concept of a “state church” — a church that will enforce its will on the state.


On November 25, 2004, Zenit pointed out that Catholic theologians declare the concept of limbo to be a human invention. The article stated: “On the specific topic of limbo, Father Ladaria, a professor at the Gregorian University, stressed that it would be studied ‘in the light of God’s mercy.’ He affirmed that ‘limbo is not the problem; in fact, it was a HISTORICAL ATTEMPT to proffer a solution in the face of the death of a child who has not been baptized… What is interesting is to study this topic in the light of God’s universal saving will…,’ he said.”

The Horrors of War

On November 27, 2004, WorldNetDaily published an interesting report of a platoon leader in Iraq. The article contains some grim descriptions of the horrors of war, so be warned. This eye-witness account may perhaps help some to think a little bit harder, before they applaud the “glory of war”:

“Well, I’m here in Iraq, and I’ve seen it and done it. I’ve seen everything you’ve ever seen in a war movie. I’ve seen cowardice; I’ve seen heroism; I’ve seen fear; and I’ve seen relief. I’ve seen blood and brains all over the back of a vehicle, and I’ve seen men bleed to death surrounded by their comrades. I’ve seen people throw up when it’s all over, and I’ve seen the same shell-shocked look in 35-year-old experienced sergeants as in 19-year-old privates. I’ve heard the screams ‘Medic! Medic!’ I’ve hauled dead civilians out of cars, and I’ve looked down at my hands and seen them covered in blood after putting some poor Iraqi civilian in the wrong place at the wrong time into a helicopter. I’ve seen kids with gunshot wounds, and I’ve seen kids who’ve tried to kill me… I’ve seen, sadly, that men who try to kill other men aren’t monsters, and most of them aren’t even brave. They aren’t defiant to the last; they’re ordinary people… I’ve seen a man without the back of his head and still done what I’ve been trained to do – ‘Medic!’ I’ve cleaned up blood and brains so my soldiers wouldn’t see it – taken pictures to document the scene, like I’m in some sort of bizarre cop show on TV… “I’ve seen men stacked up outside a house, ready to enter – some as scared as they could be, and some as calm as if they were picking up lunch from McDonald’s. I’ve laughed at dead men and watched a sergeant on the ground, laughing so hard he was crying, because my boots were stuck in a muddy field, all the while an Iraqi corpse was not five feet from him… I’ve heard men worry about civilians, and I’ve heard men shrug and sum up their viewpoint in two words… I’ve seen people shoot when they shouldn’t have, and I’ve seen my soldiers take an extra second or two, think about it, and spare somebody’s life… That’s combat, I guess, and there’s no way you can be ready for it. It just is what it is, and everybody’s experience is different. Just thought you might want to know what it’s really like.”

Attack on USA “Inevitable”?

On November 29, 2004, WorldNetDaily reported that, according to an expert, a massive WMD attack on the USA is “inevitable.” The article stated: “The United States is losing the war on terrorism and faces an ‘inevitable’ al-Qaida attack with weapons of mass destruction that will be worse than 9-11, according to a counter-terror expert. ‘All of the warnings we have today indicate that a major strike – something more horrible than anything we’ve seen before – is all but inevitable,’ said Yossef Bodansky, former director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, in an interview yesterday with the Jerusalem Post.” The article continued: “… the re-election of President Bush has set the stage for a massive attack with non-conventional weapons, Bodansky believes. … Though some debate and doubt may linger, the planning for an attack is finished, Bodansky believes.”

WTO Penalties on USA

As AP reported on November 27, 2004, “The World Trade Organization imposed penalties Friday on U.S. exports ranging from apples to textiles, escalating a trade dispute the Bush administration has struggled to defuse by unsuccessfully urging Congress to repeal legislation aimed at protecting American steelmakers. The administration signaled it would accept the penalties short term, but also warned that the United States would aggressively protect its own trading interests and expects fair treatment from the WTO… In Geneva, the 148-nation WTO, which referees global commerce, approved punitive taxes long sought by the European Union and other countries because of a law they say unfairly protects U.S. steel companies and other industries… American officials said Friday that the United States would comply with the ruling that declared the law illegal. But WTO members expressed skepticism about the compliance promises… The value of the sanctions hasn’t been determined, but trade officials estimated them at more than $150 million a year. That compares with the $2 billion in sanctions the EU threatened in its successful bid to force the United States to lift illegal tariffs on foreign steel last year. The EU was joined in the complaint by Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, India and Chile. Other products on the strategic target list include U.S. cod, glassware, cigarettes, mobile homes and heavy machinery made by companies such as Caterpillar Inc., based in Illinois…”

Earthquake in Japan

Associated Press reported on November 28:

“A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 struck Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido early Monday, injuring at least 13 people, swaying buildings and triggering a small tsunami wave that reached the shore… The quake was centered off Hokkaido’s east coast, about 550 miles northwest of Tokyo, 30 miles below the sea surface. The rocking was felt throughout northern Japan, including Hokkaido’s largest city, Sapporo, and Kushiro, on the island’s eastern shore… Last month, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake and several large aftershocks in the prefecture of northern Niigata killed 40 people and damaged more than 16,000 homes. That quake was the deadliest in Japan since 1995, when a magnitude 7.2 quake killed 6,000 people in the western city of Kobe.”

EU Constitution and God

On November 26, 2004, www.ekklesia.co.uk posted an article, stating that “More than a million people from all over Europe are to deliver a petition to Tony Blair and fellow EU leaders calling for changes to the constitution which explicitly recognize the Christian religion in Europe’s heritage.”

The article continued: “A Christian coalition is demanding that each EU state publish its version of the constitution’s preamble, with references to God if desired. Already armed with 1,149,000 signatures and with thousands more pouring in from Holland since the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh, the group claims that most states want some reference to Christianity but were blocked by France. The move is keenly backed by Pope John Paul II, who has repeatedly condemned the ‘moral drift’ of Brussels. ‘One does not cut the roots to one’s birthright,’ he told pilgrims this summer.

“However, it is not being supported by more radical Christians who believe that a separation of religion and Government is desirable and point to the mistakes that institutional religion has made in the past.”

One must question why Christians, who rightly point out “mistakes” made by “institutional religion,” are referred to and labelled as “radical” in the article. It appears that their view point, at least in referring to the “mistakes” or better “atrocities,” if not “crimes,” committed in the name and under the disguise of religion, is not “radical” at all. Rather, it is the correct one.

Germany and Islam

DPA and Expatica published the following article on November 30, 2004:

“While Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has stepped-up a campaign calling on the country’s big Muslim community to fit with the country’s laws and its democratic principles, leading political figures in the nation have claimed that multiculturalism has failed in Germany.This comes in the wake of a mass demonstration of Muslims in Germany against terror and growing alarm in the country over the torching of mosques, churches and schools in the Netherlands following the van Gogh killing… With 3.4 million Muslims comprising 4 percent of Germany’s population, the question was put this way by a banner headline in the conservative Bild newspaper: ‘Is the hate going to come here?’ asked the biggest selling tabloid… “Germany’s tough-minded interior minister, Otto Schily, spoke at the weekend of ‘a danger’ to the country despite successes in integrating the majority of immigrants. Schily drew headlines earlier this year with a harsh warning to Islamic fundamentalists: ‘If you love death so much, then it can be yours.’…

“Meanwhile, Opposition chief Angela Merkel has declared the multicultural society a failure.This was echoed by former Social Democrat Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in comments published in a German newspaper. ‘Multicultural societies have only … functioned peacefully in authoritarian states. To that extent it was a mistake for us to bring guest workers from foreign cultures into the country at the beginning of the 1960s,’ Schmidt said…. Germany’s Verfassungschutz – the domestic intelligence service – estimates there are 31,000 radical Islamists living in Germany, of whom several thousand are prepared to use violence… The number of reported crimes carried out by foreign extremists in Germany almost tripled last year compared with 2002, warns the Verfassungsschutz.”

Especially the comments by former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt have started a big debate in the German press, with many prominent personalities disagreeing with Schmidt. Especially some Catholics, Social Democrats (Schmidt’s party) and Greens claimed that they were “offended” by Schmidt’s statements.

Economic Armageddon

On November 23, 2004, www.fromthewilderness.com published the following report:

“Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley… met select groups of fund managers downtown last week, including a group at Fidelity. His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic ‘Armageddon.’… In a nutshell, Roach’s argument is that America’s record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants.The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded… Twenty years ago the total debt of U.S. households was equal to half the size of the economy. Today the figure is 85 percent… The dollar is hitting fresh lows against currencies from the yen to the euro. Its parachute failed to open over the weekend, when a meeting of the world’s top finance ministers produced no promise of concerted intervention. It has farther to fall, especially against Asian currencies, analysts agree.”

Bild Online predicted on November 26, 2004: “Our Euro will become the world’s currency.” In the article, the tabloid stated: “Analysts expect that within a few years, the Euro will replace the U.S. Dollar as the world’s strongest currency.”

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Can we conclude from Ezekiel, chapter 20, verse 25 (Authorized Version), that God gave Israel laws which were not good?

When we review from God’s Word what He tells us about His laws – we can know this statement in verse 25 of Ezekiel 20 cannot be complete as presented.

In Psalm 19:7-10 we read: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” Romans 7:12 tells us “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”

What then, could this verse in Ezekiel be revealing to us? Much can be learned by reading the preceding 24 verses of this 20th chapter of Ezekiel. Israel, of course, had been in captivity under the rule of the Egyptians for some 400 years, and had totally lost any knowledge of God and of His Ways. God had determined to reveal Himself once again to these descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).

In verse 11 of this chapter we see, that God gave them His statutes and judgments: “…which if a man does, he shall live by them.” Continue – verses 12-13:

“Moreover, I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths.”

Thus, God lifted His hand against them (verses 23-24): “Also I lifted My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols.”

Somewhat clearer than the Authorized Version, the New King James Bible gives a little more understanding relative to verse 25: Therefore, God “…GAVE THEM UP to statutes that were not good.” The Living Bible states it this way: “I let them adopt customs and laws which were worthless. Through the keeping of them they could not attain (eternal) life.”

These were laws and statutes they had determined for themselves to live by. Yet, in so doing, they could not please God!

What were these laws – these statutes – these judgments that the people took to themselves? They are the laws Paul spoke of in the second chapter of the letter to the Colossians. He described these laws as “philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and NOT according to Christ” (verse 8). Paul identified these human “regulations” (verse 20) as “commandments and doctrines of men” (verse 22).

In Psalm 81:11-12 God reveals exactly what He did in this matter with Israel. “But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.”

Notice, also, Acts 7:41-42: “And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven (false worship), as it is written in the book of the Prophets…”

Yes, God allowed them to go their own way. It was their choice – as it is with God’s people, today! Proverbs 14:12 tells us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

Moses explained to Israel in Deuteronomy 4:5-8 that God’s righteous laws were for their wisdom and understanding in the sight of all the nations. This was a blessing to them from the Almighty!

Notice verse 8 of Deuteronomy 4 (Authorized Version): “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” And in Deuteronomy 6:24-25 (Authorized Version): “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is today. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all the commandments before our God, as He hath commanded.”

We, as God’s people, today, would do well to follow these righteous instructions from our God! For more information, please read our free booklets, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” and, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

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Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was recorded on Wednesday. Its title is: “Allies, Enemies and You.”

The new booklet on tithing has been finalized and will be sent to the printer in the U.K. by the end of this week.

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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

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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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