Update 237


The Power of the Tongue

On April 1, 2006, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Power of the Tongue.”

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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Christ's Sacrifice and YOU

by Norbert Link

Baptized members of the Church of God will soon partake of the
annual Passover symbols of bread and wine to reflect on the death of
Christ and to renew their commitment to God to continue living the Way
of Life to which they have been called. When meditating about the
Sacrifice which Jesus was willing to make for us, we need to realize,
in a very PERSONAL way, its tremendous meaning and greatness.

need to understand that Jesus Christ is God now and that He was God
since all eternity. He never had a beginning. But He was willing to
temporarily set aside His divinity and BECOME a man–like you and I are
human beings today. He was willing to face the possibility of ETERNAL
death. He was willing to carry out the fight of overcoming sin in the
flesh. He knew and was fully convinced that He could never slip–not
just once–and He was willing to take the risk of failing. He knew full
well that one sin would end it all for Him, as the penalty for sin is
eternal death (Romans 6:23), which would have also applied to Christ
Himself if He had sinned. He knew that in case of sinning just once, He
would never again be united with His Father in a glorified state, which
He had enjoyed before He became a human being.

Why did He do
it? He did not have to do it. Nobody forced Him to do it. He lived with
the Father in the spirit realm of unspeakable happiness and joy. He
could have remained in that state forever.

But He did not. He
BECAME a man! And He did it for you and for me. God the Father GAVE His
Son, Jesus Christ, for you and for me! Both understood and consented
that Christ would have to live as a human being for 33 1/2 years, and
that He would have to ultimately DIE a terrible death on the cross–for
you and for me!

We must understand that Christ’s death was the
ONLY way to pay the penalty for YOUR sins and for my sins–because, as
stated, the penalty for sin is ETERNAL death. Without the shedding of
blood, there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). And so, Christ
who, as God, had created man, would die for man–and His death would be
much more precious than the death of all of mankind combined. The
Creator of man would die for His creation. He was willing to die for
rebellious and disobedient man so that man, upon repentance and the
receipt of the Holy Spirit, could be freed from death and live forever.

the Father and Jesus Christ made this Sacrifice willingly, freely and
joyfully! Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus, the author and finisher of
our faith, endured the cross and despised the shame “for the joy that
was set before Him.” He looked at the future, while He was suffering
and dying on the cross–He saw in His mind the millions and potential
billions of people who would ultimately enjoy with Him the glory of
being immortal sons and daughters in His Father’s Kingdom. He saw you
and me next to Him in the Family of God. That is why He was willing to
do what He did.

How much do we thank God the Father and Jesus
Christ for this Sacrifice? How diligent are we NOT to sin so that we
don’t have to remind God over and over again of the actual events of
Christ’s suffering and death–what He went through? It is true, of
course, that when we sin, we can and should come before God’s throne in
heaven, in repentance, and ask for forgiveness. When we slip and fall,
God is true and faithful to forgive us upon repentance, and the blood
of Christ will cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). But
this is not to be understood as a license to sin–or, that we can look
at sin in a casual way. We are commanded NOT to sin (1 John 2:1). We
need to fully realize that every time we appear before God, while
repenting of our newly committed sins and confessing them to Him, we
remind Him of the terrible ordeal that Christ went through, in order to
make our forgiveness possible.  And much worse yet, if we become
so casual and indifferent to sin that we don’t see the need anymore to
repent; if we, instead, proceed to sin WILLFULLY, trampling the Son of
God underfoot, counting the blood of the New Covenant by which we were
sanctified or set aside for a holy purpose a common or unimportant
thing; then we are again deserving the punishment of eternal death
(Hebrews 10:29). Because, we crucify again the Son of God for ourselves
and put Him again to an open shame (Hebrews 6:6).

When you and
I partake of the Passover in less than two weeks from now, we need to
reflect on the great Sacrifice of Jesus Christ which He brought for us.
Don’t ever take it lightly. Christ DIED for YOU–so that YOU, having
died to sins, can and might live for HIM in righteousness (1 Peter

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Demonstrations in France

The ongoing demonstrations in France over a new proposed labor law have brought into focus a perceived need for change in France, as well as in Europe. The events in France only highlight a feeling of unrest and uncertainty in continental Europe as a whole. The following articles also show a European mindset which is totally different from American standards. Again, we see how little Americans know about, or understand, Europeans.

The EUObserver reported on March 29:

“More than 1 million people are estimated to have taken to the streets on Tuesday (28 March) to try and get the French government to back down on a controversial new youth employment law. Many schools, universities, government offices and shops were closed as trade unions joined forces with students. Student leaders claimed it was the largest turnout since protests against the law started earlier this month, with the strike causing travel chaos throughout the country… prime minister Dominique de Villepin made it clear in parliament that he will not withdraw the law… which makes it easier for employers to end job contracts for those under 26 years of age at any time during a two year trial period. The employer can terminate a contract without having to offer an explanation or give prior warning. The government insists that this will encourage employers to hire more young people while students say it will erode job stability. The demonstrations are being seen as a major test of Mr de Villepin’s prime ministerial credentials.”

Der Spiegel Online added the following on March 29:

“France is moving headlong toward a crisis… The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung… [is] not optimistic about what it sees. ‘At the beginning it was just a conflict over an employment law, now it’s become a government crisis, and if it continues for a little while longer, then France will experience a crisis of state.’ The paper sees the country hopelessly split between the right and the left, with both sides more concerned about scoring political points than about the well-being of the country as a whole. ‘The socialists have only joined the demonstrators this time out of opportunism, without having any ideas of their own to reduce unemployment.’ The shocking part, the paper says, is that President Jacques Chirac, elected with an unprecedented 80 percent majority four years ago, has become completely helpless in the face of the series of crises France has faced in the past 12 months. ‘Never has a president, never has a government, done so little with such a large majority.’…

“The right-leaning Die Welt… sees the strikes as little more than whining for a WORLD THAT NO LONGER EXISTS… A ‘virus of DENYING REALITY’ is spreading throughout Europe, the paper argues. It’s not the systems that are too rigid, rather ‘now we can see that it’s the people who are inflexible.’ The financial daily Handelsblatt, finally, looks at what the strikes mean for President Chirac. No matter what happens, the paper points out, Chirac will be the loser. Should he capitulate to the protesters and withdraw the law, Villepin would likely resign, endangering any chance Chirac has of ‘improving on his rather meager list of accomplishments as head of state.’ If, on the other hand, Villepin manages to weather the storm, it will be virtually impossible to introduce any further reforms to the labor market that the two had been planning, ‘because the social climate in the country will remain poisoned for the foreseeable future.'”

The Associated Press added the following comments, on March 29:

“In much of Europe, the idea that a company can dismiss workers just because profits are sagging is UNACCEPTABLE, AN AFFRONT TO MODERN VALUES [This is quite a different viewpoint than the commonly accepted model in the USA]. Yet economists say that even if the AMERICAN MODEL–under which layoffs are common–WOULD NEVER FLY HERE, reforms to Europe’s labor laws are crucial to the continent’s economic health. The battle in France over a new labor law is just the loudest and latest sign that the EUROPEAN SYSTEM IS AILING. The question of how to cure it is prompting soul-searching and underscoring divisions across the continent. AT STAKE IS EUROPE’S VISION OF ITSELF. Is it the world’s epicenter of enlightened ideas, or an economic heavyweight? Can it be both?… The European Union has had little luck stepping into the fray. One of the most divisive EU debates of late was over a law that would have allowed companies to operate under the labor regulations of their home country while doing business in another EU country. It was struck down last month. “In the United States and Britain, young people frequently jump from job to job. To dismiss an employee, companies can often just say, ‘You’re fired.’ [AGAIN, WE SEE QUITE A DIFFERENT MENTALITY BETWEEN THE USA AND THE UK ON THE ONE HAND, AND CONTINENTAL EUROPE ON THE OTHER. BOTH POWER BLOCS SIMPLY DO NOT THINK ALIKE.] But in France [as well as in Germany, for example], workers who land a coveted permanent contract can plan to stay at their jobs until retirement. To fire most employees, companies not only have to give at least three months notice, pay fines to the state and up to three years of severance–they also have to convince a judge that the dismissal is justified, something they don’t always manage to do. The French government says these rules are crippling and at fault for persistent unemployment, and devised a law in January that eases them. The most prickly part of the law, the so-called first job contract, allows employers to fire workers under age 26 without reason during the first two years on the job.”

The article continued:

“Part of Europe’s challenge is getting its growing numbers of immigrants into the work force. The French jobs law is aimed partly at immigrant youth, who face unemployment rates as high as 50 percent… Already, without a permanent job in France, it’s nearly impossible to rent an apartment, buy a house or earn a bank loan. [OF COURSE, IN THIS REGARD, THE SITUATION IN THE UNITED STATES IS NOT ANY BETTER, PERHAPS A LOT WORSE.] As a result, many French youth live with their parents throughout their 20s, drifting among unpaid internships, temporary jobs and the unemployment line… public workers in southwestern Germany have been striking for eight weeks over an attempt to extend working hours. Job protections have been a major campaign issue ahead of Italian elections next month. More than half of Italian college students consider a job-for-life either fundamental or very important…”

Europeans are unhappy about these current conditions. They will not wait MUCH LONGER to FORCE their leaders to not only talk about the problems, but to DO something about them. They will most certainly not be satisfied with a labor law and conditions patterned after the “American” model. And even though most European leaders might not be able or willing to follow suit, ONE charismatic leader WILL–in the not-too-distant future.

U.S. Immigrants–Criminals or Americans?

America has been caught by surprise about unprecedented demonstrations by mainly the Hispanic community pertaining to a highly controversial proposed new Immigration Law. The following articles address the real present and future problems that the USA is facing, and they point out the sometimes unrealized fact that America would probably stop functioning without its illegal immigrants!

Der Spiegel Online stated on March 29:

“The German press loves bashing US President George W. Bush and usually, they find it not terribly difficult given the consensus on this side of the Atlantic that US foreign policy since Sept. 11, 2001 has been a complete disaster. But the recent US-wide debate on American immigration law is not proving to be quite as clear cut — and it is producing a deep split in the Republican Party. On the one hand, there is a Republican fraction — to which Bush belongs — which would like to see the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States be granted work visas with an option of becoming full citizens later. A bill reflecting this viewpoint — supported by Democrats led by Senator Edward Kennedy — was passed by the Republican-controlled Senate on Monday. But a second group of Republicans would like to see illegal immigration cracked down on in the form of strong measures taken to prevent it. This group — which helped push a bill through the House of Representatives in December — would like to see illegal immigrants criminalized and sent home. The two laws will now have to be reconciled. Many conservative Republicans are criticizing the proposed reform as a slippery slope towards an amnesty for illegal immigrants and — given the fact that fully 11.7 percent of the US population was foreign born in 2003 — as a threat to the national identity of the USA.

“Left-leaning daily Berliner Zeitung [points out] that the massive contribution of illegal immigrants to the US economy is an UNDENIABLE REALITY [as was the case in Germany in the 60’s, when guest workers from Turkey and other nations were invited to come into the country to temporarily work there]. ‘Deport the illegal immigrants and the country would PROBABLY STOP FUNCTIONING,’ the editors write, going on to note that while they feel the reform proposal is laudable, polls show that the majority of US citizens does not support it… Editorials in two other German papers [Financial Times and Süddeutsche Zeitung] reflect not so much on the specific debate over efforts to reform US immigration law, but rather on the difficulties faced by the president and his party in general. Not only are Bush’s poll ratings abysmal, but for the first time in his over five years in office, Bush has gotten rid of one of his closest aides, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card… who resigned on Tuesday…”

AFP reported on March 29 that “More than 36,000  [Los Angeles] students walked out of class to protest on Monday and more than 11,000 boycotted on Tuesday, prompting education chiefs and police to warn that pupils who skip class would be punished as truants if they failed to show up for class… While Los Angeles has been the focus of the student protests against the proposed immigration law, similar walkouts have taken place across California as well as in the states of Texas and Nevada in recent days. Saturday, 500,000 demonstrators brought Los Angeles to a standstill by staging ONE OF THE BIGGEST DEMONSTRATIONS IN RECENT US HISTORY against the proposed crackdown, while 50,000 people protested Monday in the northeastern US auto-making capital of Detroit over the issue…

“The US House of Representatives in December passed a bill that would make illegal entry in the United States a CRIME and heavily penalise EMPLOYERS of undocumented workers [as well as requiring CHURCHES to check the LEGAL STATUS of people they want to HELP], opening the floodwaters of protest in the Hispanic community, the largest US minority group… The hardline plans have sparked anger among the more than 32 million people of Hispanic cultural origin in the United States, who make up more than 12 percent of the population and wield growing political and economic clout. Hispanic community leaders said they were planning a massive countrywide Hispanic boycott of US life on May 1 that will be dubbed ‘A day without Latinos or a day without immigrants.'”

Israeli Election

Israel’s recent elections have shown that Israelis are more interested in the solutions of their own problems than in pursuing an unrealistic “peace” process. The following article also shows the grave mistrust of Israeli citizens in their political leaders–a phenomenon which is mirrored in most countries in the Western World.

On March 29, Der Spiegel Online reported the following about the election results in Israel: “The Israelis have turned their BACK ON THE PEACE PROCESS. The days when the left dreamed of the ‘New Middle East’ are over. Instead of negotiating about future co-existence with the Palestinians, the Israelis want a divorce, once and for all. They’re not aiming for peace… The so-called security fence is aimed at separating the two peoples from one another. How the Palestinians are supposed to survive when they are cut off from the outside world is of no interest in Israel. Instead of looking out for their Palestinian neighbors, Israelis want their government to fight poverty in their own country. Israel’s focus is turning inwards.

“But what’s most astonishing is that despite the dramatic changes now faced by the country and the whole region, almost 40 percent of eligible voters stayed at home. The lack of interest isn’t just explained by the absence of strong, charismatic personalities following the departure of Ariel Sharon. In the eyes of many Israelis POLITICS IS SUCH A DIRTY BUSINESS THAT THEY WANT NO PART IN IT, not even from a distance. The names of many politicians have been cited in connection with corruption cases. Some parliamentarians will even have to go to jail soon, among them the son of Ariel Sharon.”

Hamas Takes Power

After some delay, Hamas took power. The future for peace in the Middle East looks grimmer than ever.

The Associated Press reported on March 29:

“Hamas formally took power Wednesday, and the newly installed prime minister [Islmail Haniyeh] pledged to cooperate with President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the defeated Fatah party… Haniyeh said he and Abbas would confront ‘Israeli aggression against the people’ as well as internal chaos. He called Hamas’ assumption of power ‘a great moment.’ The swearing-in ceremony, which came just a day after Israel’s national election, ended a two-month transition period of ambiguity since Hamas’ election victory in January. The 24-member Cabinet includes 14 ministers who served time in Israeli prisons.

“With a Hamas government installed, the LINES OF CONFRONTATION WITH ISRAEL ARE CLEARLY DRAWN. Hamas insists it will not soften its VIOLENT IDEOLOGY toward the Jewish state. Israel’s presumed prime minister-designate, Ehud Olmert, has countered that if Hamas will not bend, he will set the borders of a Palestinian state by himself and keep large areas of the West Bank. With Hamas at the helm, the Palestinian Authority also faces a crippling international economic boycott. Canada announced it was suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority, with Hamas calling the decision hasty and unfair…”

Israel May Be Next al-Qaida Battleground

As if Hamas’ radical stance was not enough, suspicion is mounting that al-Qaida is concentrating on Israel as their new battle field. The Associated Press reported on March 22: “Signs are mounting that al-Qaida terrorists are setting their sights on Israel and the Palestinian territories as their next jihad battleground. Israel has indicted two West Bank militants for al-Qaida membership, Egypt arrested operatives trying to cross into Israel and a Palestinian security official has acknowledged al-Qaida is ‘organizing cells and gathering supporters.’… Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon have established contacts with al-Qaida followers… a major concern is al-Qaida’s activities in Israel’s neighbors, especially Jordan… Some Israeli officials have expressed concern that al-Qaida operatives from Egypt may have entered Gaza after Israel withdrew from the coastal strip last summer.”

Afghan Christian Given Asylum in Italy

Abdul Rahman fled Afghanistan after his release from prison (due to some concocted rationale of “insufficient evidence” and “suspected mental illness”) and found asylum in Italy. The Western World can sigh a temporary sigh of relief. But the sign is deceitful. Afghanistan’s problems have not been solved by any stretch of the imagination. Afghanistan’s future does not give room for much optimism.

The Associated Press reported on March 29:

“The Afghan man who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity received asylum in Italy Wednesday, despite requests by lawmakers in Afghanistan that he be barred from fleeing the conservative Muslim country. Abdul Rahman arrived in Rome days after he was freed from a high-security prison… after a court dropped charges of apostasy against him for lack of evidence and suspected mental illness. The case has attracted wide attention in the West and led to calls by the U.S. and other governments for the Afghan government to protect the 41-year-old convert. It also inspired an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and efforts by the United Nations to find a country to take him in after Muslim clerics in Afghanistan threatened his life, saying his conversion was a ‘betrayal to Islam.’ Rahman was in the care of Italy’s Interior Ministry, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday evening. ‘He is already in Italy,’ he said… The premier declined to release more details. The Interior Ministry said Rahman was ‘UNDER PROTECTION.'”

“Afghanistan’s new parliament debated Rahman’s case Wednesday and DEMANDED HE BE BARRED FROM LEAVING THE COUNTRY. But no formal vote was taken on the issue. Some 500 Afghans, including Muslim leaders and students, also gathered at a mosque in the southern town of Qalat… to demand the convert be forced to return to Islam or be killed… Germany, where Rahman once lived, praised the Italian move. ‘This is a humanitarian signal and we welcome it,’ German government spokesman Thomas Steg said.”

Even though Rahman lives in MORE OR LESS relative safety, the terrible status quo in Afghanistan has not changed. In fact, nothing has changed. Women are still being persecuted on a daily basis, and any Afghan who is charged with converting from Islam to Christianity will face the same ordeal which Rahman did. Afghanistan is, by no stretch of the imagination, a “free” country.

As Deutsche Welle wrote on March 23:

“Starting in 2004, Afghanistan — with Western help — ushered in a new reformed constitution, after which it elected a new parliament and created a Supreme Court and an independent legal system — steps considered essential in what the US administration calls ‘nation-building.’ But, experts warn about the dangers of flaunting Afghanistan as a poster-child for spreading democracy to former totalitarian countries. More than four years after the fall of the Taliban, the country remains riddled with corruption and cronyism linked to the country’s administrative system and $2.8 billion… drug industry. ‘One shouldn’t forget that [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai had to make several concessions to ultra-conservatives in drawing up the constitution,’ said Citha Maass, Afghanistan expert at the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs. Maass pointed out that the Rahman case highlighted the contradictions in Afghanistan’s constitution, which enshrines religious freedom on the one hand and upholds the supremacy of Islamic Sharia law on the other… The Afghanistan expert also pointed out that recent protests over controversial cartoons published in European newspapers HAD BEEN THE MOST VIOLENT IN AFGHANISTAN.”

Afghanistan Fighting Deadliest in Months

The ongoing problems in Afghanistan were highlighted on Wednesday, March 29, when The Associated Press reported:

“Taliban rebels launched a large-scale attack on a coalition military base Wednesday in southern Afghanistan [in Helmand], killing an American and a Canadian soldier but losing 32 of their own in a fierce American-led retaliation. The fighting was THE DEADLIEST in months and reflected a GROWING INTENSITY OF MILITANT ATTACKS after the Taliban warned of a renewed offensive this year, more than four years after the hard-line militia was ousted by U.S.-led airstrikes… It was not clear if Wednesday’s violence was linked to the DRUG TRADE. Helmand is Afghanistan’s main opium poppy-growing region and fears of widespread violence have risen since an aggressive poppy eradication campaign started in recent weeks. Helmand’s rugged mountains also are popular hiding places for Taliban rebels, many of whom are believed to slip back and forth across the province’s largely UNGUARDED BORDER WITH PAKISTAN. The attack on the base came a day after a roadside bomb killed six Afghan soldiers on a road in the province, and four private security workers–a Namibian and three Afghans–were killed elsewhere in the south in attacks blamed on Taliban rebels.”

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What is a true Christian?

Many have attempted to “define” who or what is a true Christian.
However, far too often, a totally false explanation has been offered.
For example, some would say that somebody is a Christian who is a
member of a “Christian” church. Others claim that one is a Christian if
he or she believes in Jesus Christ. Still others state that one becomes
a Christian if he or she is baptized into a Church organization,
perhaps even as an infant.

What is the Biblical truth on the
matter? It is important that you understand, because otherwise you have
no immediate hope for your future. We read that there is no salvation
in any other but in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). In order to be saved, you
must be a follower of Christ–a true Christian.

First of all,
the word “Christian” is only used three times in Scripture, namely in
Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16. In all these cases, the word
applied to God’s disciples–true followers of Christ–who were innocent
of evil doing and who had to be willing to suffer for Jesus Christ–as

A definition of a true Christian is given in Romans 8:9:

you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God
dwells in you. Now if anyone does NOT HAVE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE IS

A true Christian, then, is one in whom Christ’s Spirit
dwells. And when Christ’s Spirit, which is also the Spirit of God the
Father, dwells in a Christian, the individual will live and think in a
certain way, as Romans 8:4-7 explains:

“… that the righteous
requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not WALK
according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live
according to the flesh SET THEIR MINDS on the things of the
flesh, but those who LIVE according to the Spirit, the things of the
Spirit. For to be carnally [or fleshly] minded is death, but to be
spiritually MINDED is life and peace. Because the carnal [or fleshly] mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God,
nor indeed can be.”

When the Spirit of Christ lives in a person,
he or she will have the MIND OF CHRIST (Philippians 2:5), which
includes the desire to keep the law of God–the Ten Commandments (John
15:10). Christ’s Spirit will help us not to sin–and sin is the
transgression of God’s Law (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version).

we keep God’s law, we will love our fellow man (Galatians 5:14). When
we are being led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18), we will not fulfill
the lusts of the flesh (verse 16). And as a consequence, we will bring
forth in our lives the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control” (verses 22-23).

1 John 2:3 tells us that we know
God the Father and Jesus Christ “if we keep His commandments.” Verse 4
continues: “He who says, ‘I know Him’ [that is, I belong to Him, I am a
Christian], and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the
truth is not in him.” God’s Holy Spirit is a Spirit of truth (compare 1
Peter 1:22)–therefore, if the truth is not in such a person, then
Christ’s Spirit is not in him.

In order to receive God’s Spirit,
we must first repent of our sins–what we have done and what we are;
that is, we must repent or feel deeply sorry about the fact that we
have followed our carnal human natures and sinned (Acts 2:38). When we
repent of sin, we repent of having transgressed God’s law, and we begin
to keep God’s law. This can also be described as “conversion” or
“change”–by ceasing to walk in the way of breaking God’s law and by
beginning to walk in the way of keeping it. Acts 3:19 says: “Repent
therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” And
Acts 26:20 describes, in Paul’s own words, how he “declared… to the
Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting

We must also believe in the Sacrifice of Jesus
Christ; that is, that His death paid for the penalty of our sins, as
well as the gospel message which Christ proclaimed (Mark 1:15). And we
must be properly baptized as an outward sign of our repentance and
faith (Acts 2:38).

How many well-meaning people actually
repented of their sins BEFORE they were baptized? How many well-meaning
people understood before their baptism that they must keep God’s law,
including the commandment to keep the Sabbath; in fact, that they must
already show God, by their conduct, that they are willing to obey Him,
before they become baptized (Acts 5:32)? If these requirements were not
fulfilled, they would not have received Christ’s Spirit, and they would
not be “Christians” according to the Biblical definition.

even those who were baptized, as adults, after they felt sorry for
their sins, are called upon to examine themselves whether they are
REALLY true Christians–true followers of Christ. We read in 2
Corinthians 13:5: “EXAMINE yourselves as to whether you are in the
faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ
is in you?–unless indeed you are disqualified.”

Many have proven
to fall into that last category. They THOUGHT they had genuinely
repented of their sins, before they became baptized, but, in fact, they
never had. They THOUGHT they had become true Christians, but the Bible
and history tell a different story. John states in 1 John 2:19: “They
went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us,
they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be
made manifest, that none of them were of us.” Jude describes those
people who might even ATTEND Church services with true Christians as
“sensual [or worldly] persons, who cause division, NOT HAVING THE
SPIRIT” (Jude 19).

1 John 3:10 tells us that if we are
Christians–true followers and children of God–we will practice
righteousness. That is, we will live a righteous life, which is
well-pleasing to God. The one who does not practice righteousness is
“not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” But the one who
“keeps His commandments abides in Him, and HE IN HIM. And by this we
know that He abides in us, by the SPIRIT [which] HE HAS GIVEN US” (1
John 3:24).

Once we are properly baptized, we are commanded by
God to partake of the annual Passover, by eating a piece of unleavened
bread and by drinking a small amount of red wine, symbolizing the body
and blood of Jesus Christ who died for our sins (1 Corinthians
11:23-26). But before doing so, we must EXAMINE ourselves whether we
fully understand the deep significance of Christ’s Sacrifice, so that
we don’t eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord “in an unworthy
manner,” without “discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28).
Otherwise, we would be eating and drinking “judgment” to ourselves,
which might even result in sickness and death (verses 29-30). Compare
the Q&A in Update #224 on, “Discerning the Lord’s Body.”

be a true Christian, then, is a LIFE-LONG commitment to God and His way
of life. We are never to become indifferent about our calling and give
up. The LIVING Jesus Christ resides in a true Christian, through His
Spirit, leading the way, and the Christian must follow Him (compare
Revelation 14:4). We are to “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts” (1
Peter 3:15); that is, we are to set aside for Christ a place in our
hearts so that He CAN live in us and lead us.

Again, we ask: How
many well-meaning people qualify as true Christians according to this
Biblical definition? And most importantly for you is this question: Do
YOU qualify? Are YOU a true Christian?

For more information, please read our free booklets, “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation?” and “And Lawlessness Will Abound…”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new Member Letter is being completed and will be sent out early next week in time to
arrive prior to Passover. In the letter, J. Edwin Pope discusses
important principles about Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, “Afghanistan’s Radical Islam.”

Another StandingWatch program was recorded this week and will be posted shortly. It is titled, “Uproar in France.”

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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:

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