Update 205


A Remarkable Psalm

On August 6, 2005, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “A Remarkable Psalm.”

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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Real Security is only in God

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

The UK was recently hit with terrorist bombs in London when many were killed and hundreds were injured. Two weeks later, further attempts were made to repeat the exercise by those intent on causing maximum mayhem, having no regard whatsoever for innocent lives. Similarly, bombs have recently exploded in both Turkey and Egypt where tourist resorts were targeted. And yet these instances pale into insignificance with the daily bombs that have become a way of life in Iraq. It seems that not a day passes without a news report of further blasts resulting in death and injury.

The politicians and the police in the UK have been doing everything they can to both look at legislation and implement existing laws in order to apprehend the culprits and negate any future attacks. So many of these terrorists have no regard for the lives of others or for their own. They have a mistaken view that by taking such action they will end up in “Paradise.” Nothing could be further from the truth as God’s Word clearly shows.

Interviews with members of the public reveal an anxiety for their own safety and for those around them. When one suspect was rounded up, a neighbor indicated that these events had become real to him because it was no longer elsewhere that it happened, but had arrived on his own doorstep.

But what about the people of God who live in these troubling times? While we may appreciate the efforts of those empowered to look after our welfare, our true security is in the Creator God. One of our elderly members, a Japanese prisoner of war in the 2nd World War, states it very simply when he says that he keeps faith in God. And so should we.

The Bible is replete with information on our need to trust in God for safety and security. Proverbs 1:33 states: “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.” Two chapters further on, in Proverbs 3:24, it states: “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.” In Hebrews 13:6, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, writes: “So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What man can do to me?'” This is paraphrasing Psalm 118:6.

We need to keep our faith in God irrespective of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Terrible times are ahead, and we are instructed to “Watch therefore (both world events and our own spiritual condition), and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). This is primarily talking about end-time events but the principle surely applies now, as well. And, most importantly, as we pray for God’s Kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10), we can be assured that when that joyful day arrives and Christ sets up the Kingdom of God on earth, no more suicide bombers and terrorists will be permitted to operate. We have hope in the veracity of God’s Word; therefore, we can look forward to that day when everyone will be safe from the sort of atrocities that have become all too commonplace in the world today. God speed that day!

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Same-Sex Marriages on the Rise in the USA

An interesting and SHOCKING article was published in the May/June 2005 issue of “San Diego Lawyer.” The article was written by a practicing female professor of law, teaching “Sexual Orientation and the Law, and Women and the Law.” The author, who is married to a female partner, advocates marriages between same-sex couples. In the article, it was pointed out how the court system in the USA, as well as public opinion, are increasingly IN FAVOR of such marriages.

It was stated:

“The Hawaii Supreme Court… held that the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying violated the Hawaii Constitution’s equal protection guarantees against sex discrimination, reasoning that a law that permitted a woman to marry a man but not to marry a woman must be discriminating on the basis of the spouse’s sex. Then came an Alaska trial court decision, finding that the ban preventing same-sex couples from marrying violated that state’s constitution. Those initial victories ended rather quickly, however, when constitutional amendments were passed in both states limiting marriages to those between one man and one woman…

“After the Netherlands and Belgium passed laws permitting same-sex couples to marry in those countries…, Canada opened marriage to the world…”

The author continued to describe how the minister conducted himself during the service, when officiating a same-sex “marriage” between the author and her partner. This is how he ended the ceremony:

“By the authority given by our government to solemnize matrimony and the relationship we share as members of the same family, I declare that you who were two families are now one family, joined in matrimony and blessed by the Spirit of Love.”

The article continued by inadvertently and unintentionally presenting the sad state of affairs around the country. Please note, too, how the article perverts the language and concepts, by calling those who oppose same-sex marriages as “anti-marriage,” while describing those who support same-sex marriages as “pro-marriage” — while THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE. Those who UPHOLD THE GODLY-ORDAINED TRUE MARRIAGE ARE PRO-MARRIAGE, and those who support same-sex marriages are, in fact, ANTI-MARRIAGE. The article pointed out:

“Since then, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held… that the Massachusetts Constitution required the state to permit same-sex couples to marry. An attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution failed to pass either the House or the Senate… Most people have heard of the 11 state constitutional amendments, ratified on Election Day 2004, banning same-sex couples from marrying in those states… But [few] realize that 14 similar measures were rejected by state legislatures around the country. Election Day exit polls showed 25 percent of Americans support ending discrimination in marriage, and another 35 percent support civil unions. The overwhelming majority of legislators who opposed anti-marriage measures won reelection, and in Massachusetts, every pro-marriage candidate won and some anti-marriage candidates were defeated.”

How accurate did Isaiah describe the habit of many in modern Israel–including the United States of America–to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). But Isaiah attaches a warning to those who do, stating that it will be “woe to them” in the bitter end.

John Bolton New U.S. Ambassador to the UN

As The Associated Press reported on August 1, 2005, “President Bush sidestepped the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, ending a five-month impasse with Democrats who accused Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology… Bush put Bolton on the job in a recess appointment–an avenue available to the president when the Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the lawmakers’ August break would last until the next session of Congress, which begins in January 2007… Bush had refused to give up on Bolton even though the Senate had voted twice to sustain a filibuster against his nominee. Democrats and some Republicans had raised questions about Bolton’s fitness for the job, particularly in view of his harsh criticism of the United Nations.”

As the article continued to point out, the Democrats and some Republicans were outraged:

“Edward M. Kennedy… sharply criticized the move. ‘The abuse of power and the cloak of secrecy from the White House continues,’ Kennedy said. ‘It’s bad enough that the administration stonewalled the Senate by refusing to disclose documents highly relevant to the Bolton nomination. It’s even worse for the administration to abuse the recess appointment power by making the appointment while Congress is in this five-week recess. It’s a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the U.N.’… Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio also said he was disappointed in the appointment. ‘I am truly concerned that a recess appointment will only add to John Bolton’s baggage and his lack of credibility with the United Nations,’ Voinovich said.”

Even though Mr. Bolton’s appointment will probably hurt the U.S. in the world, and especially at the U.N., the article explained: “Despite lengthy investigations, it was never clear that Bolton did anything improper. Witnesses told the committee that Bolton lost his temper, tried to engineer the ouster of at least two intelligence analysts and otherwise threw his weight around. But Democrats were never able to establish that his actions crossed the line to out-and-out harassment or improper intimidation.”

Saudi King Fahd Dies

As The Associated Press reported on August 1, 2005, “King Fahd, who moved Saudi Arabia closer to the United States but ruled the nation in name only since suffering a stroke in 1995, died Monday, and his half brother [Crown Prince Abdullah] was quickly named to replace him. The first change in the throne in 23 years uncorked a jockeying for position in the world’s largest oil producer… Crude oil prices soared past $61 a barrel Monday as markets reacted to Fahd’s death… The portly, goateed Fahd inadvertently helped fuel the rise of Islamic extremism by making concessions to hard-liners in an effort to boost his Islamic credentials. But he also brought the kingdom closer to the United States and agreed to a step that enraged many conservatives: basing U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait… Saudi Arabia and the United States have also found themselves at odds over oil. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter–sitting atop a quarter of the world’s known reserves–and America is the world’s largest energy consumer. With prices reaching $61 a barrel, Washington has been pushing the Saudis to pump more oil and bring prices down.”

Saudi Arabia came under attack during the recent Iraq war, when accusations were raised that terrorists were harbored in the country. Some even accused Saudi Arabia of having been, at least passively, involved in the September 11 attack in New York. Even though Abdullah had been running the governmental affairs for some time, and even though he stated that his politics toward the United States and other Arab nations won’t change, time will tell.

More Deaths in Iraq

The Austrian Networld reported this week that so far, 4,000 people were killed in Iraq in 2005. More than half were civilians, according to the report, continuing that with 580 dead policemen, soldiers and civilians, the month of July has been one of the bloodiest months. The report also stated that more than 25,000 civilians were killed in Iraq since the US invasion in March of 2003.

Victory for the US Weaponry Industry

The Austrian Networld reported that the US Weaponry Industry achieved this week a great victory. According to the report, the US Senate adopted a law stating that producers of fire arms can no longer be held liable by victims of fire arms or their families. The article explained that even some states had commenced lawsuits for damages against the weapon industry, and that some of those lawsuits are still pending.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) celebrated the Senate’s decision as an historical victory.

Britain and Northern Ireland

AFP reported on August 1, 2005, that “Britain unveiled a two-year plan to slash its military presence in Northern Ireland by more than half and change policing methods in response to the IRA’s historic pledge last week to disarm. The announcement, however, outraged hardline Protestants as it largely affected home-grown soldiers belonging to the Royal Irish Regiment, which will lose three of its four battalions… In a sign of trouble ahead… members of the largest Protestant group, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said news that the government would cut three of the four Royal Irish Regiment battalions came as a ‘bombshell.'”

Turkey and the EU

The EUobserver reported on July 27, 2005: “Turkey should never join the EU because it lies mostly outside Europe geographically and accession talks should not start on 3 October unless Ankara first recognises the sovereignty of Cyprus, according to the vice president of Germany’s CDU/CSU party, Wolfgang Schauble… Mr Schauble also warned that while Ukraine lies within the EU’s proper geographical sphere, Kiev’s membership should be kept off the agenda for now in case people lose faith in the European project altogether… ‘Unlike Turkey, Ukrainian accession is a matter of time, not principles’, he argued. ‘Much remains to be done in order to integrate Romania and Bulgaria. And the great problem of western Balkan membership must be solved’, Mr Schauble pointed out.”

The article continued to describe public opinion on the matter of EU enlargement. It was stated:

“The latest Eurobarometer study showed that 52 percent of EU citizens would like to keep Turkey out of the EU with just 35 percent in favour of full accession. A narrow majority of Europeans would like to see Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Macedonia join the club, but have reservations about Albania, Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina coming in for now. But in Germany, 74 percent would like to keep Turkey out, 59-66 percent would happily block Bulgaria and Romania’s membership and over 60 percent would be keen to shut the door to the rest of the western Balkans, with the exception of Croatia which scored just 51 percent against.”

The Pope and Israel

The fight of words and action between the Pope and Israel is escalating. After the pope refused to condemn terrorist attacks on Israel, Israel responded in kind by sharply accusing the pope of playing favorites. The seemingly innocent neglect by the pope has brought to light a deeply rooted mistrust of Israel toward the Catholic Church, stemming, in part, from the Catholic Church’s refusal to come to the aid of the Jews in Nazi Germany.

The Catholic paper, Zenit, reported on July 27, 2005:

“After chastising Benedict XVI for omitting Israel from a Papal address that condemned terrorist bombings, Israel cancelled a meeting with the Vatican to discuss the implementation of their mutual agreements… On Monday, Israel accused Benedict XVI of ‘deliberately’ failing to condemn terrorist attacks against Jews in his Sunday Angelus address.

“The Holy See responded both through the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, as well as in a statement of Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls, saying that the Holy Father condemns all terrorist attacks, regardless where they come from.”

On July 29, 2005, Zenit reported that the Vatican responded further to Israel’s accusations, as follows:

“The Holy See added that, for several reasons, ‘not every attack against Israel could be followed by an immediate public condemnation.’ One reason, the Vatican stated, is ‘the fact that attacks against Israel were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law. It would, consequently, have been impossible to condemn the former and remain silent on the latter.'”

The German magazine, Der Spiegel Online, published a highly critical article about the pope’s conduct in this matter, as well as in other matters, titled “A Cold Wind From Rome.” In the article, which was dated July 29, 2005, it was stated:

“The argument between the Vatican and Israel is a nasty step back to the days of animosity between Judaism and Christianity. All the trust between the religions which John Paul II spent two decades building up, is now being shattered by his successor… enthusiasm for the German pontiff is dwindling rapidly. Benedict XVI is not a conservative pope. He is a reactionary who is leading his church into a spiritual fortress, rather than sending it confidently out into the field… The differences between the current head of the Catholic Church and his predecessor are only now beginning to emerge… “

The article continued:

“When Benedict XVI was elected, the British tabloids quickly worked themselves into a lather, caustically recalling Ratzinger’s past, when he worked in Nazi Germany’s anti-aircraft defense industry. German papers spiritedly joined the war of words and fired back. But the war over Ratzinger’s youth now seems banal. Today, the differences between his past and that of his Polish predecessor have become important. This is mainly because Benedict XVI has barely needed 100 days to trample over the infant seedling of trust between Jews and Christians that John Paul II planted. The relationship between Israel and the Vatican was never characterized by heartfelt friendship. On the contrary. It was thanks to John Paul II that the Vatican recognized Israel for the first time… Ratzinger’s politics, on the other hand, are over the top. And he’s not just risking a return to a kind of cold war with Israel and the Jews. Even his dealings with Germany’s Protestant Church so far have been an affront.”

The article concluded with these perhaps, somewhat, prophetic words:

“Ratzinger doesn’t want dialogue. The German pope wants to be right.”

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Does a Christian go to Heaven after Death?

The Bible does not teach that when a Christian dies he goes to heaven. Let us be certain we understand the truth as pointed out in the Scriptures.

First, the Bible is very clear what happens to a person at the time of his or her death.

In Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 we find the following:

“But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.” Their memory (the faculty of remembering) ceases to exist (See the marginal notes in the Companion Bible).

Verse 6 continues: “Also their love, their hatred; and their envy have now perished…”

Psalm 146:3-4 illustrates that the day one dies, his thoughts perish.

(For a further discussion on this topic, see our booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”)

Once a person dies, he no longer has a part with the living, as long as he remains dead!

On the other hand, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and John 14:2-3 are often used in an attempt to prove that when a Christian dies, he immediately is taken off to heaven to spend eternity with Jesus Christ. It is claimed that such is his reward for having lived his life according to the way taught in his faith. But what do these passages really say?

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 reads: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Here, Paul was referring not to the day of a person’s death, but to the time of the resurrection of the just, which occurs at the time of Christ’s Second Coming; and to what is to happen then to those who have a part in that resurrection (vs.16). Those who have a part in that resurrection will also have a part with Christ as He re-establishes God’s government here on earth (compare Revelation 5:10).

Christ said in John 14:2-3: “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

The Greek word for “mansions” refers to dwelling places. It literally means, “dwellings” (compare the margin of the New King James Bible). The same word is used in John 14:23, where it is translated as “home.” According to the Nelson Study Bible, “Everybody has a longing for a permanent, secure place. Such places have already been set aside for all of God’s children.”

As our booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God” points out, Christ is preparing for us places or positions of rulership, depending on our conduct in this life.

But the passages in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 14:2-3 don’t mean that we go to heaven, when we die. Not even righteous King David went to heaven when he died (Acts 2:34). Christ told Nicodemus that “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man…” (John 3:13). Christ will return to this earth to bring our reward with Him (compare Revelation 22:12).

We will be resurrected or changed and meet the returning Christ in the clouds, in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Then, we will descend with Him on the Mount of Olives. When Jesus ascended to heaven, from the Mount of Olives, the angels told the apostles: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

Zechariah 14:4 shows that in that day, Christ’s feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which is located on the earth! This is the “dwelling” place Christ will have prepared and where He will be at that time! We will be ruling with Christ when He rules here on earth (compare Revelation 20:4-6). “…thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). We will be where Christ will be (compare John 14:3) — here on earth. After all, Christ’s disciples are to “inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

Christ is coming in all His glory, with His holy angels, to begin a millennial rule upon the earth (Matthew 25:31-32). The saints of God, who will have been resurrected from the dead at that time, along with those saints still living, who will be changed to spirit at that time, will be given power to rule with Christ (Revelation 2:26-27).

The saints will have positions as Kings and Priests, and will reign with Christ during the 1,000 year period on the earth. The rest of the dead, who had no part in this resurrection, will await in their graves for a future resurrection (Revelation 20:5).

No Biblical passage tells us that we go to heaven when we die. Rather, we will rule with Christ here on earth, when He resurrects those of us who died, or when He changes those of us, who are still alive at His Coming, from mortal to immortal.

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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

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:

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