Products of a Selfish Society
On Saturday, June 11, 2005, Norbert Link will be giving the sermon, titled, “Products of a Selfish Society.” The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just Connect to Live Stream
Sunday, June 12, 2005, is the Feast of Pentecost. Dave Harris will be giving the sermon in the morning, titled, “The Good News of Pentecost.” Edwin Pope will give the sermon in the afternoon, titled, “You Shall Receive Power.”
The Pentecost services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 9:00 pm Pacific Time (which is 11:00 pm Central Time), and at 1:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 3:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream
Let This Mind Be in You!
by Edwin Pope
The human mind is a wonderful instrument, created by God! There is no other physical creature which has been given such a marvelous gift! And yet, we often take this gift of the human mind for granted. And many in the world today are wasting this precious gift from God!
We are told in the book of Proverbs that as a man “…thinks in his heart (mind), so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). We have come to understand the truth contained in this statement. We are what we think! We are further told in the book of 1 Corinthians to “…be (become) perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). But how are we to do this? How can it happen, when so often our minds are focused on the wrong things?
This marvelous gift we have been given is capable of doing great good in the world. Many marvelous blessings have come from the creative ability of the human mind, and mankind has shown his great concern for his fellow man by carrying through with tremendous humanitarian deeds in the name of goodwill.
Yet, the human mind also has the ability to perform tremendous evil against his fellow man. Christ speaks of this in Matthew chapter 15, where He states: “For out of the heart (mind) proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19). Some “religious types” were offended when they heard this saying (Matt. 15:12).
We are further told in 1 Corinthians 1:10, that we, in the Body of Christ, in addition to being of the same mind and judgment, are to be without division amongst ourselves. It is true that at this time in our lives, none of us are perfectly the same. Because of heredity, environment, upbringing, and other factors, we find within the Church people with different abilities, different likes, different social status, different educational backgrounds, and in fact, many other differences, too numerous to mention here.
However, we have been called to become one–in mind and in Spirit. We have been called to esteem one another “better than” ourselves. We are to each have the same love and concern for one another, without prejudice, without contentions, willing to submit to one another, giving place to wrath, realizing that God will make all things right in the end!
But how can we ever come to have the kind of mind spoken of in the Scriptures with our present physical, human frame? The answers are given to us in the gift of the Day of Pentecost, which we will be observing this coming Sunday, June 12, 2005!
Let us all seek the wisdom of this Special Day, established by the Eternal God for our good!
This Week in the News
The Death of the Euro?
Part of the international press jumped on a statement by Italy’s anti-European minister of labor and social affairs, Roberto Maroni, to reintroduce the Italian lira and allow for both the euro and the lira, and a report by Der Stern Online that discussions were held by some regarding the euro. Some of the articles which were subsequently published grossly exaggerated the facts and even gave the impression that the euro was dying. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Italian press clarified that the minister spoke his own mind which was not shared by the Italian government under president Berlusconi.
As Timesonline explained on June 4, 2005:
“Embattled EU financial leaders spent the day defending the currency, dismissing talk of its break-up as ‘absurd’. One senior EU official said: ‘Euro notes and coins are for ever, like the euro.'”
The EUobserver reported on June 2, 2005, “German analysts have poured cold water on rumours that the European Monetary Union (EMU) might be broken up in the wake of the French and Dutch no votes… ‘It [an EMU break up] is not a realistic scenario’, Commerzbank economist Christoph Balz told EUobserver. ‘But in the current mood of the market, everybody jumped on the news. Even if it was later denied, the market still thought if there is smoke, there is fire’.
“Germany’s Stern magazine published news on Wednesday (1 June) about a recent meeting between German finance minister Hans Eichel, Bundesbank president Axel Weber and private sector analysts which purportedly discussed Germany’s exit from the common currency. Berlin and the national bank both denied the report, while analysts at major German banks indicated that what really happened was that one of the private sector economists at the gathering mentioned a potential EMU crisis and the mere presence of high-ranking officials gave the speculation undue weight.”
The article also pointed out that in light of the French and Dutch “No”-votes to the EU constitution, the euro fell against the U.S. dollar, but it is expected to rise again by the end of the year. “The weaker euro is also set to boost the fortunes of European exporters, the Commerzbank economist indicated… ‘We are probably close to the bottom of the movement. This [the weakening of the euro] is the current mood of the market, but it is not the beginning of a trend’, he said.”
A Core Europe?
The EUobserver wrote on June 2, 2005:
“Reports have already emerged that Berlin is once again looking at the idea of a core Europe. According to Press Association (PA), the British news agency, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called his Dutch counterpart on Wednesday evening to offer The Hague a chance to take part in an inner circle of EU founding members, who could forge ahead.” The article continued that “Mr Balkenende made it perfectly clear he wasn’t interested. He is well aware that the Netherlands would be a junior partner in such a small grouping alongside Germany and France.”
A Shorter EU Constitution
On June 3, 2005, EUobserver published a thought-provoking commentary by Kimmo Kiljunen, Finnish Member of Parliament and former member of the EU Constitutional Convention. It stated:
“France and Holland have just demonstrated a masterpiece of political bungling. Leading politicians did not know how to tell their citizens what the EU constitution is about. A clear majority of the French and the Dutch said ‘No’ to the new EU constitution. At the same time, they said ‘Yes’ to the present EU. The referendums won’t make the EU go away. It will carry on as before….
“The only way to save the EU constitution is to approve an abbreviated version. Drop the technical and explanatory articles in parts III and IV. The new constitution only needs parts I and II: what the Union is for, how it makes its decisions, and the rights of citizens. This would give the constitution a chance to be approved. It would also offer citizens a more comprehensible document. This abbreviated constitution would have a chance of passing referendums in France and Holland by late 2006.”
Europe Is Here To Stay
The Christian Science Monitor published an insightful article on June 3, 2005, pertaining to the future of Europe. It stated the following:
“The charter’s next steps won’t be decided until an EU summit June 16-17. And some observers say no substantial action will occur until 2007, when Germany and France are expected to have new governments. But as they rouse themselves from this week’s nightmare scenario, proponents of greater European unity say that the EU’s work will go on… Despite reaching an eight-month low against the US dollar this week, the euro will persist as Europe’s common currency. Greater military cooperation, negotiation as a single bloc at the World Trade Organization, and efforts to create a common immigration policy will also continue…. Observers recall that past EU crises have sometimes served as springboards for further progress. At the end of the 1960s, for example, French President Charles de Gaulle’s refusal to allow Britain to join the EU paralyzed the six-member community. Widespread frustration at this led to pressure for new initiatives, which resulted in the Union’s first expansion.”
Europe Without Great Britain?
As news.telegraph.co.uk reported on June 6, 2005, “Tony Blair has given up on Europe as an issue worth fighting for, senior allies of the Prime Minister have told The Sunday Telegraph.” Mr. Blair’s government also very wisely decided to postpone any referendum in Great Britain [which had been scheduled to take place in the spring of 2006], realizing full well that the British people are at this point expected to vote against the EU constitution by a wide margin.
Other member states were not impressed by Mr. Blair’s approach. As the EUobserver reported, “Several member states have continued to stick by their plans to have a referendum on the constitution despite Britain’s decision on Monday to shelve its own plans for a public poll. Speaking just after the British decision, Polish foreign minister Adam Rotfeld said, ‘The French, Dutch or British cannot make the decision for us. We should decide for ourselves … through a referendum. Regardless of what happens to the treaty, an unambiguous “yes” by Poland in favour of European integration given through a referendum will greatly strengthen Poland’s position’, he said…. Ireland and Denmark, the other countries planning to have a referendum, are also staying firm for the time being. According to The Irish Times, Dublin said its position remained exactly as it was before London’s announcement – to continue paving the way for a referendum.”
In a related article, the EUobserver pointed out Britain’s precarious situation, as follows:
“Over the weekend, the French and German leaders also called for votes on the EU charter to continue, and Mr Chirac’s spokesman suggested Britain held ‘great responsibility’ during its half year at the helm of the EU – starting from 1 July – in finding a way out of the current crisis.”
As Der Spiegel Online put it, Britain did not listen to the European message. What will this mean for Britain’s future?
Germans Against the EU Constitution?
Germany’s major parties concluded that the German Constitution did not allow for a referendum of the German people regarding the introduction of the euro and the EU constitution. This very dubious and legally questionable conclusion served as a political avenue to force the euro and the EU constitution on the people of Germany, although a growing number seems to be against both.
According to Bild Online, 96.9 percent are against the EU constitution. The tabloid justifies its conclusions after having polled almost 400,000 readers. According to another, more reliable poll by the more serious magazine, Focus, 44 percent are for the EU Constitution, while 39 percent are against it, and 17 percent are undecided. Before the French and the Dutch “no”-votes, 52 percent had supported the EU constitution. According to the magazine, 62 percent of those under 24 were for the constitution.
Turkey and the EU
Der Stern pointed out, correctly, on May 31, 2005:
“The nice words of the German Chancellor [Gerhard Schroeder, SPD] cannot fool anyone that it is not the EU constitution which reflects European reality, but the question of enlargement. The [CDU] understands this… Europe with 25, 27, 57 member states cannot be easily organized… What has been difficult with 15 member states, is impossible with 25.”
The article pointed out, too, that one EU applicant which would not meet the support of a new Angela Merkel-Edmund Stoiber [CDU/CSU] government, would be Turkey. As Focus pointed out on June 3, Spain has recently changed its position in support of the Merkel-Stoiber position. The Spanish government advocated that the EU reconsider membership conditions of Turkey. Until now, Spain was one of the strongest supporters for a EU membership of Turkey.
As Focus reported on June 3, 2005, “the [alleged] improvements in Iraq are not supported by the figures… In the last 18 months, 12,000 civilians were killed [in violent attacks by insurgents]… More than 10,500 victims were Shiites… Since the beginning of the US invasion in March of 2003, 1,663 US military personnel were killed.”
Monotheistic Religions and the Family
On June 6, 2005, Zenit published the text of a remarkable address Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sidney, gave to an interreligious conference in defense of family life and marriage. The following are excerpts from his speech:
“One of the great tasks facing us for the 21st century is to build bridges and improve relations among the great religions, especially among all monotheists. Jews, Christians and Moslems should have a special advantage in undertaking this work, because we are all the children of Abraham. We all worship the one true God, reverence the holy city of Jerusalem, believe that our actions in this life will be judged, met with approval or disapproval in the next life. We believe in God as creator of the universe and as the Great Judge after the day of resurrection. We all believe in the importance of prayer… we belong to the same monotheist family… All children of Abraham are called to oppose the excesses of individualism, such as pornography, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity and abortion. We who profess a religious faith have a solemn duty to uphold key moral values and to propose them to society…
“Of particular concern to all Christians, Jews and Muslims is the family. People are foolish if they pretend that the consequences of family breakdown have no social impact. One of the great cleavages that we are beginning to see opening up in our society is between children who come from stable and loving families, and those who do not. Those who are lost to drugs, suicide, violence, and alcoholism, are often those who do not have the personal and family resources and resilience to resist or avoid these perils. Family breakdown and instability are a growing cause of impoverishment. Loving faithful marriage is the true foundation of the family. I suspect that the haves and have-nots of the future will often be divided into those who have had a loving family upbringing and those who have never had this opportunity. The children of Abraham should take the lead in ensuring a better future not only for children and families, but also for our country.”
Why do you teach that obedience to God's law is necessary to inherit eternal life? Didn't Paul say that all that is required is to believe in Jesus?
It is indeed correct that Paul told the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And it is also true that we MUST believe in Christ, as only in His name can we find salvation (compare Acts 4:12). However, Paul did not say that belief in Christ is ALL that we must have. Rather, belief in Christ is only the starting point. Notice how the record in Acts 16 continues, in verses 32-33:
“Then they [Paul and Silas] spoke the WORD of the LORD to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes [The jailor responded to Paul’s teaching of the word of God by showing kindness to Paul.] And immediately he and all his family were baptized [They had repented of their sins and showed their faith by baptism, so that they could receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, compare Acts 2:38].”
Paul did not preach, and the jailor did not understand him to preach, that ALL that was required of him was just to believe that Jesus was the Christ. Rather, his belief had to be accompanied and manifested by obedience to Christ’s words.
Jesus told us in John 15:14: “You are My friends if you DO whatever I COMMAND you.” He continued in verse 17: “These things I COMMAND you, that you LOVE one another.”
The jailor showed LOVE to Paul when he washed his stripes and gave him food to eat (Acts 16:33-34). Paul told us in Romans 13:8-10 that when we love each other, we FULFILL God’s LAW of love. He said in verse 9: “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
In other words, if we LOVE our neighbor enough so that we don’t kill him or steal from him, or lie to or about him, or covet what he has, or commit adultery with his wife [which are all injunctions contained in the Ten Commandments], we FULFILL God’s law. We read in 1 John 5:3: “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments.” 1 John 3:23 explains: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, AND LOVE one another.”
When a young man asked Christ what to do to inherit eternal life, Christ told him: “But if you want to enter into life, KEEP [or OBEY] the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). He proceeded to list some of the Ten Commandments, to show which commandments He was talking about (verses 18 and 19). And James would later explain that we break ALL of the Ten Commandments, when we just break one of them (James 2:8-11). As the Ten Commandments define love to God and neighbor, we don’t show the love of God in our lives when we transgress His law.
Paul did not tell the Philippian jailor that all he had to do was just to believe in Jesus Christ. James tells us that even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). Rather, Paul was teaching that we need to OBEY God, once we come to believe in Him.
We read Paul’s word in Romans 1:5: “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship FOR OBEDIENCE TO THE FAITH.” He also stated in Romans 16:26: “… [the mystery] has been made manifest… according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for OBEDIENCE TO THE FAITH.”
Acts 6:7 reports about the beginning of the New Testament Church: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were OBEDIENT TO THE FAITH.”
We read in John 3:36 (correctly translated from the Greek, compare the Revised Standard Version): “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does NOT OBEY the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.”
When the Bible talks about the right kind of faith which we must have to inherit eternal life, it equates faith with obedience. Faith alone in Christ, which does not manifest itself in an obedient lifestyle to God’s Law, is NOT enough.
In fact, Paul tells us in Romans 2:8 that God will pour out “indignation and wrath” on those who “are self-seeking and do NOT OBEY the truth, but obey unrighteousness.” And “truth” is defined as “all Your commandments” (Psalm 119:151). Paul reiterates in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 that God will take “vengeance on those who… do NOT OBEY the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Romans 6:17, 22, Paul states: “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin [and sin is defined as the “transgression of the LAW,” 1 John 3:4, Authorized Version], yet you OBEYED from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered… having become SLAVES of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and THE END, everlasting life.”
Further proof that our faith must be accompanied by OBEDIENCE, can be found in Peter’s first letter. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:2 to the “elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, FOR THE OBEDIENCE and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” He continues in verse 22: “Since you have purified your souls in OBEYING THE TRUTH through the Spirit in SINCERE LOVE of the brethren, LOVE one another fervently with a pure heart.”
Peter also admonished the brethren to conduct themselves as “OBEDIENT CHILDREN, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (verses 14-15). Again, in 1 Peter 4:17, we are warned about the fate of those who do “NOT OBEY the gospel of God.”
We will only inherit salvation and eternal life, if we obey God. This is very clearly expressed in Hebrews 5:8-9: Even Christ “learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation TO ALL WHO OBEY HIM.”
As Christ obeyed God’s commandments, so must we (John 15:10). Only if we DO the will of our Father in heaven, that is, only if we cease practicing lawlessness, will we enter God’s kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23). The MERE confession that we believe in Christ, will NOT be enough (verse 21).
Peter made it very clear that we must obey God at all times, even if that means disobeying man (Acts 5:29). He also clarified that God will give His Spirit — which is a guarantee that we WILL inherit eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14) — only to those who OBEY Him (Acts 5:32).
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, ‘What’s Going On in Europe?”
We are pleased to make available to you, upon request, a free CD, containing the audio recording of the recent public bible lecture about the developments in Europe. If you would like to receive a copy, please send your request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via letter to Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198.
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
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