Update 213


The Give Way

On October 1, 2005, Edwin Pope will give the sermon, titled, “The Give Way.”

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.

The Feast of Trumpets is next week — from Monday sunset to Tuesday sunset. Date: October 4.

Please note that there will be two services that day, covering the meaning of that special annual Holy Day:

Dave Harris will be speaking in the morning from Colorado, at 9:00 am Pacific Time (which is 11:00 am Central Time); and Norbert Link will be speaking from San Diego, CA, at 1:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 3:30 pm Central Time).

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org. Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

Back to top

How Do You Know?

by Dave Harris

So, you believe you are a Christian. But how can you know, for certain?

Upon what do you base your Christianity? Is it that you are a member of a particular church? Is it merely the fact that you have appropriated the name “Christian”–that you give this answer if asked to identify your religion? Perhaps you claim to be Christian because at times, you followed the teachings of the Bible.

Christianity is so much more than these or so many other superficial assertions! Jesus Christ was and is a Christian, and it is to Him that we must look to really know if we are following Him. His life and His way of living are recorded for our edification in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, and this is our source for learning about Jesus.

Many claim to be Christians! Many faithfully worship in church services on Sunday mornings, thinking they are doing exactly what Jesus wants them to do, but they are wrong! Many are trying to establish Christianity on this earth in order to solve its problems, but they will fail in this purpose! Others pick and choose some aspect of Biblical teachings, but hold back in total commitment to God! Followers of modern professing Christianity are simply deceived, and have no inkling of the fact that theirs is a false claim when they espouse the Christian religion.

Narrow the focus to yourself. Are you able to evaluate others and see their error? Can you open your Bible and prove what truth is? More importantly, can YOU be guided by the Word of God?

The Bible speaks of the end of the age. It describes a time of great deception: “‘For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect'” (Matthew 24:24). Most people are confident that this deception applies to someone else! Yet, Christ warns His Church not to become complacent (compare Revelation 3:14-22).

Paul puts it this way: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). He further challenges us with the admonition: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless you are disqualified [margin: do not stand the test]” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

So, how do you know you are a Christian? You examine and test YOURSELF in light of God’s Word, using the standard of Jesus Christ’s life as your guide! Jesus gave us this very specific key: “‘By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another'” (John 13:35). John adds: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3).

How do YOU KNOW you are a Christian?

Back to top

Hurricane Rita’s Long-Term Consequences

The Mercury News reported on September 26, 2005, about long-term consequences of Hurricane Rita’s devastation: “President Bush on Monday urged Americans to cut back on car trips amid warnings that the energy disruption from Hurricane Rita could be worse than initially thought. Although Rita spared massive refineries and chemical complexes in the Houston area, the first reports about damage to offshore production of crude oil and natural gas were GRIM.”

The article continued:

“Offshore production across the entire U.S. Gulf of Mexico remained closed Monday, meaning a fifth of the nation’s oil production has been shut down since Thursday. Even before oil workers evacuated offshore rigs in advance of Rita last week, Hurricane Katrina had knocked out 56 percent of Gulf oil production. On-shore refineries also took a hit. The Energy Department said Monday that Katrina and Rita together had cut the nation’s refining capacity by 25 percent. Even when energy companies restart their Texas and Louisiana facilities, at least 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity will remain idle for weeks or months… Some consumer groups have accused oil companies of deliberately restricting refining capacity to keep gasoline prices high.”

On September 24, 2005, The Associated Press reported about Hurricane Rita:

“As the storm raged, the torches of oil refineries could be seen burning in the distance from downtown Beaumont… business analysts said damage from Rita could send gas prices as high as $4 A GALLON. Environmentalists warned of the risk of a toxic spill.”

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have begun to severely damage the economy and infra-structure of the United States of America. Sadly, this is just the beginning of troubles, as our next article on New York will show.

New York Next?

On September 25, 2005, The Independent (UK) stated: “Experts are predicting still more hurricanes, in what could be the WORST YEAR for the storms since records began. The US government’s official National Hurricane Center and scientists at Colorado State University, who predicted both Katrina and Rita, expect several more named storms in the remaining two months of the hurricane season. And the World Meteorological Organisation believes that the record of 21, set in 1933, may be beaten.”

The article continued:

“Some of these storms could hit the US, and experts say New York could be the next city to be DEVASTATED. The area around the Big Apple is listed by the Center as the FIFTH most vulnerable in the country, after New Orleans, the Florida Keys, Tampa in Florida and Galveston in Texas, all targeted by hurricanes in the past two years… Local experts say that such a catastrophe is ‘INEVITABLE’, and the New York City authorities warn that it could bring a 30ft-high storm surge crashing into Manhattan. The city says at least a million New Yorkers are at risk, and has drawn up plans to evacuate those within 10 blocks of the water. But the city could have less warning than Texas or Louisiana, since hurricanes move faster as they head northwards.”

Iraq Coming Apart?

According to an article which was published by USA Today on September 22, 2005, “Iraq is moving toward disintegration, and war there could spread to its neighbors, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said Thursday. In part because of a new constitution that would give more power to various regions in Iraq, ‘there seems to be NO dynamic that is pulling the country together,’ Saud said. Iraqis are to vote on the constitution next month. Sunni Arab leaders are urging a ‘no’ vote, while majority Shiites urge approval. ‘All the dynamics there are pushing people away from each other,’ said Saud, whose nation is predominantly Sunni.”

The article continued: “The main problem, Saud told a small group of reporters here, is the split between Sunnis and Shiites in central and southern Iraq… ‘If things go the way they are… there will be a struggle… for natural resources,’ Saud said, and Iraq’s neighbors will be drawn into a WIDER WAR. He said IRAN, a predominantly Shiite but non-Arab nation, WOULD INTERVENE on the side of Iraqi Shiites. TURKEY, which has a big Kurdish minority, has repeatedly threatened to ENTER northern Iraq if Kurds there declare independence. If Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority appears to lose out, ‘I DON’T SEE HOW THE ARAB COUNTRIES WILL BE LEFT OUT OF THE CONFLICT IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.'”

This would mean outright WAR in the Middle East! It would be tragic to think that the Iraq war–which was supposed to bring democracy and peace to Iraq–would have, at least in part, CAUSED such an all-encompassing war in the Middle East!

Afghanistan–Far From Being A Democracy

On September 26, 2005, Der Spiegel Online published an eye-opening article about the situation in Afghanistan and the unwillingness of many countries, including Germany, to face reality and to act–or not to act–accordingly. The article explained:

“Afghanistan is still far from a hospitable place, but that hasn’t stopped German authorities from beginning the process of sending Afghan refugees back home. The first have already been deported, and tens of thousands are now fearing for their future.”

The article described the official position of the German state, which is shared by many of Germany’s allies, as follows:

“…officially, at least, the war is over. Even if warlords continue to rule over drug-infested fiefdoms throughout much of the country, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary election in 35 years last Sunday and parts of the country have been stable for years now. At a conference last November, German state interior ministers determined that Afghanistan was sufficiently stable for refugees to be sent home. Of the 58,000 Afghans currently living in Germany, up to a third suddenly faced expulsion.”

The paradox of this official position is highlighted by Der Spiegel Online, in this way:

“Even Germany’s own foreign ministry has a warning posted on its Web site that, ‘Government security forces are not in a position to secure law and order across the country.’ Furthermore, the Kabul government has little control over vast regions of the country and 70 percent of the population is undernourished.”

One MUST ask: Has the war in Afghanistan, praised by many as the most convincing recent example of bringing peace and prosperity through war, really done this? If so, how are we to explain the undeniable fact that peace, freedom, posterity and happiness seem to be far from many Afghan citizens? Will man EVER learn that his wars will NEVER produce the peace and tranquility that man desires to create?

Gerhard Schroeder a Roman Emperor?

The Telegraph (UK) wrote on September 29, 2005:

“Chancellor Gerhard Schröder stands accused of behaving like a Roman emperor for refusing to quit despite defeat in the German general election… [T]he mass-circulation [German tabloid] Bild portrayed him in a toga on its front page. ‘Just what is the matter with Gerhard Schröder?’, it asked. ‘Does he think he is Germany’s eternal leader–like Caesar?’… [Schroeder] angrily dismissed Mrs. Merkel’s right to lead Germany. ‘It is clear that nobody apart from myself is in a position to form a stable government. I am Chancellor and I intend to remain so,’ he said… Instead, his party tried to argue that the conservatives were really comprised of two parties–Mrs. Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister, the Christian Social Union (CSU)–each of which, taken separately, had fewer seats than the Social Democrats and, thus, no claim on the Chancellery… With neither leader [Gerhard Schroeder or Angela Merkel] prepared to relinquish their claim to lead Germany, there is even talk of their sharing the post for two years each [Angela Merkel rejected this possibility.]. Failing that, both may have to step down.”

The final outcome of this internal German “fight” between the two major parties and their leaders, and the formation of the new German government, could be of important relevance for future developments in Europe and the entire world.

Tony Blair’s Poor Performance

The EUobserver reported on September 23, 2005: “London has drawn criticism for its performance at the helm of the EU, with French ex-president Valery Giscard d’Estaing suggesting the UK has achieved ‘very little’, and the EU budget commissioner questioning slow progress towards a deal on the bloc’s future spending. A debate has sparked in the British media over the last few days about the state of London’s EU presidency. The papers have been quoting EU diplomats’ complaints about the lack of leadership in the presidency while journalists criticised technical problems at events organised in the country. Yesterday Mr Giscard also waded in. ‘The chairmanship of the union is now British’, he told BBC Radio on Thursday (22 September). ‘We are at the end of September. What was the contribution of the British presidency up to now? Practically very little’… The British government has also been under fire for its weak role in the debate about the future of Europe, following the rejection of the constitutional treaty in France and the Netherlands.”

When Tony Blair became the rotating President of the European Parliament, not much leadership or drive toward European unification was expected from Britain–and this should not come as a surprise, since the Bible strongly indicates that Britain will not even be a part of the final configuration of a United States of Europe.

Powerful Earthquake in Peru

The Associated Press reported on September 26, 2005, that “A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7 hit northern Peru late Sunday, causing power outages and cutting phone service throughout much of the region… Peru’s Geophysics Institute said the quake… was centered about 60 miles northeast of the jungle city Moyobamba, 420 miles north of the capital Lima. The earthquake was felt throughout Peru’s northern coast and as far away as Bogota in Colombia. It was the strongest quake to strike Peru since an 8.1-magnitude quake hit the Arequipa province in southern Peru in June 2001.”

The Bible predicts that the increase of powerful earthquake activities in diverse places, as well as devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters will signal the “beginning of sorrows.”

The EU in the Middle East?

Reuters reported on September 19, 2005, that “Israel has agreed in principle to a European Union role in policing Gaza’s volatile border crossing with Egypt, Israeli officials said on Monday, a turnabout after years of opposition to an EU security mission… Israeli officials said the pact had to be fleshed out and it remained unclear whether it would entail a full-scale European border guard mission. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters his side had agreed in principle to an EU presence on the Gaza-Egypt border… The London-based Independent newspaper said a heightened EU role could range from provision of equipment, such as X-ray scanners for cargo, to an expanded police or border guard force.”

The EU agreed to such a role in the Middle East. If carried out, could this be a preliminary first step toward the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s statements about end-time European armies surrounding Jerusalem (see Luke 21:20; compare Daniel 11:41)?

Back to top

Why did Mr. Armstrong state that "independents" would not be in the marriage supper of the Lamb?

We addressed this issue, to an extent, in the Editorial, “An Independent Mind,” in Update 208. In the Editorial, we quoted some of Mr. Armstrong’s statements about “independents,” as follows:

“This is what Mr. Armstrong thought about independents: ‘What about a single member, “a joint, or part,” going off by itself–or following a man instead of the Church of God that is in direct continuous succession from the apostolic Church founded by Christ, in A.D.31? He is like a joint or a piece of wood or stone, entirely outside of, and therefore no part of the body of Christ that shall marry Christ’ (The Incredible Human Potential, ed.1978, pp.123, 124-125).”

These appear to be powerful statements; yet, there must have been a reason why Mr. Armstrong felt this way. Mr. Armstrong’s statements are Biblically founded, as explained below.

An “independent” has in essence taken upon himself the prerogative to reject the government of God which was established by God Himself, and which was revealed by Christ in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping [or perfecting] of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [or full-grown] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”

The purpose of the ministry is to edify the members to achieve the goal of becoming sons and daughters of God. In addition, Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, especially on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, to be nourished by God’s Church and His ministry, and to encourage each other through uplifting and positive communication.

God’s Church is a spiritual organism, but this does not mean that it is not organized. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:18-28: “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased… And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you, ‘[i.e., I am an independent; I don’t need the Church or anyone in the Church]; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’… But God composed the body… that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it… 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.”

Christ said to His Church in John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love ONE ANOTHER as I have loved you.”

Can’t we see that passages like the ones quoted above totally disprove and refute the concept of an “independent”–that he can be on his own, and still be a part of the Church? The Bible makes it very clear that he CANNOT BE.

Christ will marry His bride–His Church–when He returns. At that time, the bride will have made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). This means, the Church has allowed Christ to “sanctify and cleanse her… to present her to Himself as a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish… For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:26-30). Christ has decreed, as we saw earlier, that Church members can only become “perfect” WITHIN the Church–within HIS very Body. Christ told us in John 15:6: “If anyone does not abide in Me [that includes Christ’s BODY, His Church, compare Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 2:18-19; 3:15; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:27], he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

To reject the ministry established by God and Christ, and to separate from Church brethren who are sanctified by God, is paramount to rejecting Christ and His Body, as well as the government of God which God established in His Church.

Let us examine an example of this rejection in the Old Testament, as revealed in 1 Samuel 8:4-7:

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel [or, was evil in Samuel’s eyes], when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed [or listen to] the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

Notice that when the nation insisted on having a king over them, like the nations around them, they rejected God’s rule over them. By extension, they rejected God. In the same manner, when people reject God’s true ministry in this Church era, as established by God, they reject the government of God, and by extension, they reject GOD.

As a result of this rejection, God has no choice but to reject THEM. Notice what Christ says in John 12:48: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

Some might justify becoming independent in the face of widespread heresy in the doctrines, teachings and practices of the Church. False leaders have arisen and have actually gained control of some of the membership and assets of God’s Church. That has forced faithful members to withdraw from those who begin to preach “a different gospel” (compare Galatians 1). In times like this, the people of God have become scattered; however, far too often, this has become an opportunity for false ministers to build their own following. John wrote of this very attitude and problem in the Church at his time: “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the pre-eminence among them, does not receive us” (3 John 9).

Paul instructed Timothy, who was a minister under his guidance: “Take heed to yourself and to the DOCTRINE. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

The Church of God has experienced a very challenging time following the death of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. Those who gained the leadership in the Worldwide Church of God rejected the core doctrines, as established under Mr. Armstrong. In this context, it is difficult for those who now seek to faithfully and zealously adhere to the gospel brought by Jesus Christ and faithfully proclaimed by His established ministry! However, Christ says that when we ask, seek and knock, we will find, as God will open the door of understanding to us.

Our advice to “independents” is to look to the Word of God to test what is being taught. Note the record of the people in Berea: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Even though we recognize the difficulties for those who want to stay loyal to God and His Church to find and identify their brethren who have remained faithful, to become an “independent” is not the answer–judging by God’s inspired Word. This is even more so, when a follower, be it for imagined or even real “injustice,” or because of MINOR disagreements with perhaps technical points of non-salvational issues, leaves a faithful organization, which belongs to the spiritual Body of Christ, to BECOME an “independent.” As explained herein, “independents” are in a very precarious position if they do not repent in time, since they, in effect, might miss out on salvation. We should bear in mind that it was Satan who originally rejected the government of God and invented an alternate way of doing things– following the way of competition, get and self-aggrandizement, which he felt was superior to God’s way of cooperation, give and humility.

In summary, when a person rejects the government of God, including the true and faithful ministry established by God in His Church, he rejects God. This sin MUST be repented of! Mr. Armstrong once asked, that if in this life we do not want to be ruled by the government of God, how can God use us to rule over others in the future? This is a serious matter which anyone who is inclined to reject God’s government in His Church has to consider, for the sake of his own salvation. Therefore, it is imperative to those who by their words and/or actions have rejected the government of God in the Church, to repent before it is too late.

Lead writer: Rene Messier

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