Update 183


Responsibilities in Judgment

On Saturday, March 5, 2005, Edwin Pope will give the sermon, titled, “Responsibilities in Judgment.”

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.

Back to top

Much, Much, Much More!

by Dave Harris

Bible prophecies forewarn of global disasters, of wars and national enslavement, of every living creature in the sea dying, and of human death on a scale that is, quite frankly, unimaginable! There is this and much more yet ahead for those who live in the very last generation before Jesus is sent to save this planet.

All of these bad things can seem far-off or unreal if we are not careful.

How about you? Do you really believe what God has said? The record of other generations and of other ages shows that the vast majority ignores warnings. Jesus spoke of the time leading up to His return in this way: “‘But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be'” (Matthew 24:37-39).

What can we say about ourselves? Are we doing what we should to be prepared for the future, or have we become comfortable–even judging ourselves as ready for the times ahead?

Jesus taught that His followers must continue to serve Him. He did so against a backdrop of admonition that even some of His servants would let down (Compare Luke 12:35-48). This very thing is happening right now to Christians of our day! Is it happening to you?

One measure–one way of evaluating ourselves–is to look at our service to God. In that service, there are requirements, and it is indeed a challenge to live up to those things we know we should do. However, even fulfilling our minimal “duties” is not sufficient if we want to be considered good and faithful servants of God.

Our attitude, or at least the approach we must strive to have as members of God’s Church, is summarized in the following teaching from Jesus: “‘So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do”‘” (Luke 17:10).

If we understand the unparalleled gift of God’s calling and if we understand that God has placed upon all of us responsibilities for service to Him, then we need to also consider the following: “‘…For everyone to whom MUCH is given, from him MUCH will be required; and to whom MUCH has been committed, of him they will ask the MORE'” (Luke 12:48).

When that happens, we will have an opportunity to abundantly serve God, but just doing that once or for a little while–even, perhaps, for a few years–is not enough! We must continue to serve God faithfully with the goal to do all that we can–to go beyond what is required and to become truly profitable servants of God.

Back to top

Crisis in Lebanon

The Associated Press reported on March 1, 2005:

“Hundreds of protesters blowing whistles and chanting anti-Syrian slogans returned to central Beirut on Tuesday after forcing out the pro-Damascus prime minister, and Lebanon’s president sought candidates for a new government. About 400 people marched through downtown demanding the resignation of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud and the withdrawal of Syrian soldiers. On Monday, 25,000 flag-waving demonstrators demanded – and got – Prime Minister Omar Karami’s resignation…

“Elsewhere in the country, shops, businesses and banks reopened after a one-day strike Monday to protest the Feb. 14 assassination of former prime minister and billionaire businessman Rafik Hariri, whose killing was the catalyst for the massive, peaceful protests demanding Syria release its military and political hold on Lebanon. Syria keeps about 15,000 troops in Lebanon and all key political decisions get a stamp of approval from Damascus, but pressure from Lebanese as well as from abroad, including the United States, has led to talk of a troop withdrawal…

“The dramatic developments – reminiscent of Ukraine’s peaceful ‘Orange Revolution’ last year — were broadcast live across the Arab world, including Syria, where some people have access to satellite TV. They could provoke a strong response from Syria and perhaps plunge this nation of 3.5 million back into a period of uncertainty, political vacuum OR WORSE.”

AFP added on March 1, 2005: “Lebanon faced an uncertain future after the dramatic resignation of pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karameh in the face of massive public protests sparked by the murder of his predecessor Rafiq Hariri… The anti-Damascus opposition which spearheaded the campaign against the government hailed the move but vowed it would not stop its protests until Syria was out of Lebanon… Since the bombing, international pressure led by the United States has mounted on Syria with suspicion it may have had a hand in the Hariri bombing. Hariri’s killing had raised fears of a return to the sectarian strife that ripped the country apart during the 1975-1990 civil war, but the murder served to unite various religious and political groups in their calls for an end to Syria’s domination.”

On March 2 and 3, 2005, additional news items were reported pertaining to the crisis in Lebanon. According to an article of The Associated Press, which was published on March 2, “President Bush increased pressure on Syria Wednesday, demanding it withdraw its troops from Lebanon.” In a follow-up article, The Associated Press stated on March 3, that “Syria has told Arab countries it needs to keep 3,000 troops and early-warning stations inside Lebanon to maintain its security despite international pressure for a full withdrawal, an Arab diplomat said Thursday. At a meeting in Cairo, meanwhile, Arab leaders publicly urged Syria to follow through on a 1989 accord to withdraw its troops from neighboring Lebanon, with no timetable set – even as they negotiated behind the scenes to push Syria to move quickly. Syria, which has 15,000 troops in Lebanon, has said it would comply with the accord.”

In addition, Reuters reported on March 3 that “Russia and Germany joined an international chorus of demands for Syria to leave Lebanon… ‘Syria should withdraw from Lebanon, but we all have to make sure that this withdrawal does not violate the very fragile balance which we still have in Lebanon, which is a very difficult country ethnically,’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC late on Wednesday… German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, visiting Yemen, also called on Syria to take its troops out immediately. ‘Lebanon should be given an opportunity for sovereignty and development and this can only be achieved by compliance with Security Council resolutions that stipulate immediate Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon,’ Yemen’s state news agency quoted him as saying at a meeting with his Yemeni counterpart on Wednesday.”

The AFP published an article on March 3, 2005, titled, “Lebanon in political limbo as screws tighten on Damascus.” The article continued: “Lebanon’s embattled president was struggling to find a new premier after the opposition insisted on a Syrian pledge for a troop pullout before it would hold talks on joining a new government.”

Crisis in the United States

The “Executive Intelligence Review” reported on February 25, that “A series of international conferences… has led to the open airing of panic within the international financial elite. Top on the agenda is concern over the U.S. dollar, which declined about 30% between early 2002 and early 2004, but, equally importantly, the debt-drowned condition of the U.S. economy, which an increasing number of bankers believe cannot be sustained.”

Austria and Hitler

On February 28, 2005, China Daily reported about Austria’s past dealings with Hitler and Nazism. The article pointed out: “The latest look at the country’s relationship to Hitler is through the melodic looking glass of ‘The Sound of Music’ — the first full staging in Austria of a musical beloved the world over but virtually unknown in the nation it portrays. After years of denial, official Austria has turned in the past two decades from depicting itself as a victim of Adolf Hitler to acknowledging its key role in the Holocaust. But some Austrians remain sensitive to the country’s Nazi past, and Saturday’s premiere in German, with actors dressed as Nazi storm troopers standing guard in the audience, a theater box filled with mock Nazi dignitaries, and a huge swastika banner draped onstage dredged up painful memories…

“Still, Joerg Haider powered his rightist Freedom Party into the government in 2001 with populist rhetoric sometimes tinged with anti-Semitism. Though he has toned down his comments in recent years and his Freedom Party has lost much of its support, it still has an extreme right-wing element known to admire Hitler. Last year, a poll showed that more than a third of Austrians believe the Nazi era was in some ways positive.”

In other news, the EUobserver stated on February 20, 2005, that “A large majority of Austrians are in favour of a common European army, a poll has found. The survey, presented on Thursday (19 February) by the Austrian society for European Politics, found that 75% of those asked would like such an army. Of these, 42% would be in favour of just having a European army to replace all national armies. Austria, along with Finland, Sweden and Ireland, is one of the neutral member states of the European Union.”

USA and Europe

On February 27, 2005, www.suntimes.com published a remarkable article about an indifferent and somewhat arrogant approach of Americans and US governmental institutions toward the rising power bloc of Europe. The article was titled: “U.S. can sit back and watch Europe implode.” It continued to state, in light of President Bush’s visit in Europe:

“And at the end what’s changed? Will the United States sign on to Kyoto? No. Will the United States join the International Criminal Court? No. Will the United States agree to accept whatever deal the Anglo-Franco-German negotiators cook up with Iran? No… Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there’s no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying…”

The truth is, the “old” Europe is not dying, but emerging! The final and last resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire, which later became known as the Holy Roman Empire, under Catholic leadership, IS happening right now! And the United States of America will NOT find itself on friendly terms with that new emerging power bloc, but in fierce competition. For more information, please read our free booklets: “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

Iraq and the Sabbath

The following article may pose the question, as to whether the US has inadvertently created a “Frankenstein monster” in Iraq. As The Associated Press reported on February 27, 2005, “Iraqis are complaining about their first-ever weekend break, and some high-school students even went to class Saturday to protest a decision introducing a second weekly day off that coincides with the Jewish Sabbath… ‘We don’t want Saturday! It’s a Jewish holiday!’ students chanted as they marched in protest last week to the governor’s office in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad… ‘We will keep going to school with determination and persistence’ on Saturday, sixth-grader Nassen Dawoud said. ‘We can’t be like Jews. Saturday is a Jewish holiday and I hope the government listens to us,’ sixth-grader Nada Alwan said. The influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, believed to be close to the insurgency, said that by making Saturday a weekend ‘the invaders, the occupiers are trying to impose their principles’ on Iraq… In Ramadi, the heart of the insurgency in the so-called Sunni Triangle, the head of Anbar University decided to change the weekend on its own. ‘The official weekend is Thursday and Friday,’ the university announced.”

US Nuclear Weapons in Germany

On February 10, 2005, the China News reported that: “The United States still keeps as many as 480 nuclear weapons at air bases across Europe… Short-range nuclear bombs are stored under American control and regulated by secret military agreements at eight bases in Germany, Britain, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands, the study said. American and allied air forces regularly rehearse nuclear bombing missions at training ranges in Europe in the case a war calls for striking nuclear, chemical or biological weapons sites or command posts in countries that threaten to use unconventional arms, the study said. Military officials confirmed that the training continued as part of prudent military contingency planning.The stockpile’s presence and its long-term fate have caused simmering tensions among senior NATO political and military officials, the officials were quoted as saying. “

The EUobserver added: “Germany tops the list hosting some 150 US nuclear weapons at two locations: Ramstein and Büchel. France and the United Kingdom, in addition, have approximately 350 and 185 nuclear weapons respectively but the United States is the only country that has nuclear weapons outside its own territory.”

The big question is, of course, whether in the case of a future crisis, Europe will use some of these US weapons against the United States? Has the US created a “Frankenstein monster” in Europe as well?

The New Europe

In a recent article, titled, “A fatal blow for liberty,” the EUobserver warned against the ratification of the EU Constitution. It stated: “The draft constitution contains… critical changes, argues Roland Vaubel, professor of political economy at Mannheim University… Finally and irreversibly, the parliaments of the member countries would lose control over the distribution of competencies between the union and its members. The constitution marks the end of their sovereignty in the union.”

Biblical prophecy reveals that 10 European “core” nations or groups of nations will ultimately “give their authority” to a central power (compare Revelation 17:12-14) — thereby giving up their individual competencies and sovereignties.

In this context, the following report, which was published on March 1, 2005 by www.telegraph.co.uk, may be interesting: “Plans have been drawn up to create an ad-hoc ‘core’ of countries determined to pursue closer integration, in case Britain rejects the draft treaty establishing a European constitution, it was claimed yesterday [by] [s]enior officials close to the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder… They [the core nations] would work on eight or nine chosen goals, such as merging their armed forces and embassies. France and Germany would lead the core, inviting Belgium, Luxembourg, and other pro-integration EU states to join them. Britain would become increasingly irrelevant.”

The Pope’s New Book

The Pope’s new book has angered Jews and other interest groups. In the book, the Pope compared the Holocaust with today’s abortions. Jewish leaders in Germany and elsewhere sharply criticized the Pope for “belittling the Holocaust.” Cardinal Ratzinger was quick to “explain” that this had not been the Pope’s intention. The news.telegraph.co.uk added the following comments about the Pope’s book, on February 23:

“The Pope published a new book yesterday strongly attacking the ‘negative’ society of the West, calling it a godless ‘anti-Gospel and new totalitarianism’ masquerading as democracy… John Paul II’s fifth book, printed first in Italian, blames the moral permissiveness of the West for undermining society with divorce, free love, abortion, euthanasia, and genetic manipulation.”

Back to top

I understand that recently, pastors and elders ordained one of your ministers to the rank of evangelist. Isn't that procedure contrary to Scripture?

We assume that you are referring to the concept, taught by some, that ministers can only ordain other ministers to a rank equal to or lower than the rank held by the ordaining minister. Although it is true that the Bible does contain examples reflecting such a procedure, there are other examples reflecting a different procedure.

A correct understanding of this question includes the correct concept of ranks in the ministry. We read in Ephesians 4:11-12 that Christ “Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Although this passage addresses “ranks or positions of responsibility” (Compare W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 21, under “Elder, Eldest”), it also clearly talks about functions. We read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:5-6 that there are “differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but the same God who works all in all.” Paul goes on to explain, in verses 28-29: “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues [languages]. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?”

In 1 Corinthians 12:5-6, 28-29, Paul is clearly addressing functions, rather than ranks. Note that “evangelists” and “pastors” are not even mentioned in that Scripture. But Paul says that God has appointed “teachers” in the “third” position. If Paul was addressing ranks, he would have had to list them in the “fifth” position, in order to not contradict his statements in Ephesians 4:11-12.

It is for this very reason, that the passages also emphasize functions of responsibility, that Paul referred to himself, not just as an apostle, but also as “a preacher… and a teacher of the Gentiles” (2 Timothy 1:11). These functions are also explained in 1 Timothy 2:7: “I was appointed [by Christ] a preacher and an apostle… a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” In addition, Peter, an apostle, called himself a “fellow elder” (1 Peter 5:1), and John, who was also one of the original apostles, called himself “the elder” (2 John 1; 3 John 1).

Although God has always used His ministry to ordain others into the ministry [and “raising them in rank”], through the laying on of hands and prayer, it is likewise evident that it is God who must inspire those ordinations. We read about this principle in Hebrews 5:4, addressing the ordination to the office of high priest: “And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.”

We also find, in the Old Testament, that the prophet Samuel anointed Saul and David as kings, but it can be hardly said that the office of prophet was “above” the office of king. Again, we see how certain men were chosen by God to fulfill certain functions. We might also remember how Elisha, when he received Elijah’s mantle, also received a double (!) portion of the Holy Spirit, that had dwelt in Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-14).

When we analyze Paul’s life, baptism and ordination, we find that Christ had already set aside Paul (known at that time as Saul) for the purpose of the ministry, before he became converted (compare Acts 9:15-16). When the time had come, the disciple Ananias (most likely a minister, compare our Q&A in Update #171) baptized Saul and laid hands on him for the purpose of receiving the Holy Spirit and for being healed from his blindness. We find, in Acts 11:26, that Barnabas and Saul assembled with the church at Antioch for one year “and taught a great many people.” Then they went to Jerusalem to bring the elders of the church relief from the famine that plagued the areas. Acts 12:25 continues to report that “Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem [to Antioch] when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.”

At this juncture, we read, in Acts 13:1: “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” We notice that all these prophets and teachers were functioning in the church at Antioch, and that both Barnabas and Saul were included in the group referred to as teachers and prophets at that time. Continuing in verse 2: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘NOW, separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'”

It was at that moment in time that Christ made it clear to the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch that Barnabas and Saul were to be “separated” for a particular aspect or function of the work of Christ. Notice verse 3: “Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

The word “apostle” means, “one who is sent.” We read, in Matthew 10:1-8, that Christ SENT OUT the original twelve apostles to preach the gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons. It is of special note that Jesus Himself established the office of apostle–even selecting that name as the title: “And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Consider, also, that first, Jesus prayed about those whom He should choose to be apostles: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).

The same was now happening with Barnabas and Saul. The prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch ordained them to the office of apostles, to be sent forth to do a particular work. We know this to be true as they were never referred to as apostles before, but they were subsequently called apostles (compare Acts 14:4, 14). This has also been the long-held understanding of the Church of God. In addition, Paul said that he was ordained as an apostle (compare 1 Timothy 2:7, Authorized Version). The only record of his ordination can be found in Acts 13:1-3.

What is important to realize is that Barnabas and Saul were appointed to the office of apostle by “prophets and teachers” — that is, by ministers of lower positions than that of apostle. But, this was inspired and approved by God, as we have seen.

Some believe that the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch were actually sent by the apostles from Jerusalem, charging them with the task of ordaining Saul and Barnabas to the office of apostle. This, however, is mere speculation, and cannot be proven from Scripture. In fact, Scripture strongly suggests the opposite. We need to realize that Paul and Barnabas had just been in Jerusalem, and returned to Antioch. It was THERE, in Antioch, that Christ inspired the ministry to ordain Paul and Barnabas as apostles — not in Jerusalem. Also, the fact that prophets came from Jerusalem is normally specifically mentioned in Scripture (compare Acts 11:27; 21:10).

In any event, it is THE Apostle, Jesus Christ (compare Hebrews 3:1), Who directs the ministry to ordain people in His Church. And it was Christ Who inspired the prophets and teachers (ministers of lower positions than that of apostle) in the church at Antioch to ordain Barnabas and Saul (who belonged to the group of prophets and teachers), to the rank and office of apostle. It is therefore clear, from Scripture, that pastors and elders are authorized, by God, and under God’s inspiration and direction, to ordain a fellow minister to a higher rank and office — such as evangelist.

Back to top

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flo

Our new booklet on war and related issues has reached our final review cycle. It is anticipated to distribute the printed booklet by Passover.

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