In the Beginning, Part 2
On July 1, 2006, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “In the Beginning, Part 2.”
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.
An Understanding Heart
by Dave Harris
Recently, I listened for a few minutes to an interview between a
rather well known minister and an author who had written about the
support the nation of Israel is receiving from this preacher and
like-minded religious leaders in the United States.
author commented that both he and the minister believed the same
thing—that when the Bible speaks of Israel, it is referring to the
Jews! Indeed, that is what most people who profess Christianity believe!
fact that the modern nation that is called Israel is occupied
predominately by just one of the original twelve tribes (Judah) is
little understood. Most believe that the other tribes of Israel have
simply faded into history. In accepting this explanation, the
prophecies for the House of Israel and for the House of Judah lack any
real meaning and relevance. As a consequence, far too many Christians
read only the New Testament, because the Old Testament seems irrelevant
to them (For the amazing prophecies about the modern descendants of
Jacob, please refer to our booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and
This episode served to again remind me of just how
different true Christianity is from that which masquerades itself by
that name. It also once more strongly impressed me about the unique
understanding that we have been given.
Along with our calling,
God has given to us an understanding heart. What we can now comprehend
is God’s Word. Make no mistake; those who profess Christianity may be
well schooled in the intricacies of their doctrinal beliefs! They can
quote chapter and verse in support of their stand. However, their minds
have not been opened to understand the truth of God’s Word.
that for all their vast familiarity with the Old Testament, the
religious Jews at the time of Christ did not comprehend who He was. Ask
someone, today, about the Sabbath or Holy Days, about the return of
Jesus Christ, about prophecy being fulfilled in our day or any number
of other topics, and you will quickly find yourself very alone in your
beliefs. Discuss death, and rather than the dead awaiting a
resurrection, most would confidently say that good people who die go to
heaven and the evil ones end up being tormented in hell for eternity!
we do have an opportunity to represent the truth of God to others, we
have this instruction: “…always be ready to give a defense to
everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with
meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Our newest booklet, “Mysteries of
the Bible,” is a tremendously eye-opening presentation covering many of
the doctrinal truths contained in the Word of God.
It is vitally
important for us to recognize the astounding gift of understanding we
have received from God. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t let it become
dormant and die within you. Sharpen your skills in the truth. Grow! Ask
God for help. Ask God for even more of an understanding heart!
This Week in the News
More Tension in the Middle East!
Following the abduction of an Israeli soldier–the first since 1994, Israel has mounted a massive show of force to free this 19 year old combatant. BBC News reported on June 28:
“Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel would not hesitate to ‘carry out extreme action’ to free the captured soldier but said Israel did not want to re-take control of Gaza.”
In an article from the Chicago Tribune on June 28, by Joel Greenburg, the seriousness of this confrontation was highlighted:
“Israel readied forces to enter the northern Gaza Strip early Thursday and rounded up Hamas government officials in the West Bank, stepping up its response to the abduction of one of its soldiers by Palestinian militants.”
The article continued: “About 750,000 people in the Gaza Strip were left without electricity and many lacked running water, officials said, after an air strike on the territory’s only power station cut the electricity supply and crippled water pumps. Engineers said repairs of the station could take as long as six months.”
“…Mustafa Barghouti, a member of parliament and a physician, said that the cut off of electricity, which engineers said affected 65 percent of the Gaza Strip, would cause serious hardship.
” ‘What will we do for medications that need to be preserved, what will we do for hospitals that need electricity, what will we do for schools, for people who have no electricity now in their houses and probably will not have water supply?’ Barghouti said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television. ‘This collective punishment will only aggravate people and enhance violence.’ “
The entire Middle East is now a cauldron of boiling problems! Iran continues to defy the world as it deftly ignores pleas and threats from Western nations to stop its nuclear program. Iraq is infested with an insurgency of implacable violence despite the best efforts of coalition forces led by the world’s current “Super Power”–the United States. However, Bible prophecy points to Jerusalem and the land of Israel as the contested focal point of world powers in the near future. Even now, developments are setting the stage for the dramatic culmination of these prophesied events. Be sure to view our insightful StandingWatch commentary that explains the news of our day in the light of Bible prophecy–available at www.standingwatch.org and presented by Evangelist Norbert Link.
Christianity Spreading in China
On June 27, the Rocky Mountain News published an article by Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times) that reported about a rapid change happening in China:
“Christianity is booming as never before in China, and some giddy followers say China could eventually have hundreds of millions of Christians–perhaps more than any other country in the world.”
The article continued: “This boom in religion, particularly Christianity but also including the Bahai faith and various cults like Falun Gong, reflects a spiritual yearning among many Chinese. While China has official Catholic and Protestant churches, the fastest-growing churches are the underground ones–usually evangelical without any specific denomination–that are independent of the government. The total number of Chinese Christians today probably exceeds 40 million, and some estimates go far higher.”
In the turbulent times ahead, Biblical prophecy reveals that the whole world will embrace a global religion. To understand how nations–great and small–will follow the lead of a powerful and charismatic religious leader, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
Anglican Church Split in Two!
Following several years of highly publicized controversial differences within the Anglican Church over such issues as ordaining a gay bishop, ordaining women and performing same-sex marriages, some now recognize that the compromises are tearing the 77 million strong church apart. The following excerpts appeared in the “Daily Mail” on June 19, 2006:
“Efforts to prevent a schism in the Anglican Communion are now futile as it has become virtually ‘two religions’, a leading Church of England bishop claimed in an interview published today.”
Continuing from the article: “…Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, said the division between liberals and conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion was now so profound that a compromise was impossible.
” ‘Nobody wants a split, but if you think you have virtually two religions in a single Church, something has got to give some time,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.”
Additionally, a related article, by Laurie Goodstein and Neela Banerjee, appeared in the New York Times on June 28:
“In a defining moment in the Anglican Communion’s civil war over homosexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed a plan yesterday that could force the Episcopal Church in the United States either to renounce gay bishops and same-sex unions or to give up full membership in the Communion.”
Continuing to quote from the article: “The archbishop wrote, ‘No member church can make significant decisions unilaterally and still expect this to make no difference to how it is regarded in the fellowship.’ “
The battle is between conservative and liberal members and what is permitted among those who call themselves “Christian.” The following comment from the article places the blame: “The conservatives have insisted all along that it is the American church that destabilized the Anglican ship and should be pushed overboard if it will not relent.”
In an AP report by medical writer Lauran Neergaard on June 27, the dangers faced by nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke were cited from a surgeon general’s report:
“Breathing any amount of someone else’s tobacco smoke harms nonsmokers, the surgeon general declared Tuesday–a strong condemnation of secondhand smoke that is sure to fuel nationwide efforts to ban smoking in public.
” ‘The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard,’ said U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.
“More than 126 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to smokers’ fumes–what Carmona termed ‘involuntary smoking’–and tens of thousands die each year as a result, concludes the 670-page study. It cites ‘overwhelming scientific evidence’ that secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer and a list of other illnesses.”
The issue of smoking and its addiction has certainly been a modern plague–both for those who do smoke and for those who have to live around smokers. A beginning point for those who struggle with this can be found in the Word of God. Jesus said the following: ” ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” For more information on what the Bible reveals and for help in overcoming problems of this nature, please read our free booklets, “Sickness and Healing, What the Bible Tells Us” and “Keys to Happy Marriages and Families.”
USA: Drought / Floods!
On June 27, USA Today published an article by Catherine Rampeli. In the article, the author states:
“A drought over a third of the nation has grown so severe that consumers could be facing higher prices for everything from beef to bread by the end of the year.
“Conditions have become so dire that ‘the middle of the United States and certainly the Southwest are well on their way to one of the worst droughts in history,’ says Carl Anderson, professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University.”
By contrast, the Eastern Seaboard of the United States is suffering from record-setting floods! In an article from the Associated Press on June 28, writer Mark Scolforo reports:
“Up to 200,000 people in the Wilkes-Barre area were ordered to evacuate their homes Wednesday because of rising water on the Susquehanna River, swelled by a record-breaking deluge that has killed at least 12 people across the Northeast.
“Thousands more were ordered to leave their homes in New Jersey, New York and Maryland. Rescue helicopters plucked residents from rooftops as rivers and streams surged over their banks, washed out roads and bridges, and cut off villages in some of the worst flooding in the region in decades, with more rain in the forecast for the rest of the week.”
Following the severe hurricanes that hit the U.S. last year, the economic losses for all Americans became clearly felt through higher gasoline prices–among other things. Now, with a severe drought growing across the nation, citizens will again experience higher costs as national food supplies dwindle. The ongoing floods of this week will also prove costly for the immediate areas in the Northeast as well as for other parts of the country. Just WHY these national disasters are increasing is revealed in the prophecies of the Bible. For ANSWERS, please read our free booklet, “The Rise and Fall of Britain and America.”
Would you please explain the procedure for conflict resolution between brethren, as set forth in Matthew 18:15-20?
If there is one command by Christ which has been more often violated
in the Church than most others, it is perhaps the procedure for
conflict resolution between brethren, as set forth in Matthew 18. We
might think that in a given situation this procedure might not apply,
or that there are other ways to deal with a perceived or real problem.
However, experience has shown time and again that circumventing the
godly-inspired procedure for the purpose of resolving problems between
members has ALWAYS caused unnecessary harm.
Let us therefore
carefully and prayerfully review the procedure, and let us make every
effort to apply it, as instructed in God’s Word:
When a member
thinks that there is a real or perceived problem between him and
another person in the Church, which is either caused by the other
person or by the member himself, what should the member do?
18:15 instructs the member: “Moreover if your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him ALONE.”
As we can
see, at this stage, there is no minister, close friend or even a mate
involved. If a member thinks that someone in the Church has sinned
against him, he is to go and talk to the person–with humility and
compassion and with the right attitude (Galatians 6:1)–and he is to do
so ALONE, in PRIVATE.
Matthew 18:15 continues: “If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”
This must be the motivation–not one of revenge for getting back at the person!
same principle applies if the member knows that his brother has
something against him. If a member knows that his brother has a real or
imagined problem with him, he–the member–is to go to his brother. He
is to go to him ALONE, in PRIVATE, without anyone else present, with
the goal of restoring the relationship between the two of them (compare
If the meeting has the desired result, but
subsequently, another similar or identical problem arises, what is the
member to do? Is this now the time to tell the ministry—because,
after all, the member might think, “I tried it once, and he just does
not listen?” The answer is: The member is NOT to tell the ministry at
that point in time. Luke 17:3-4 tells us: “Take heed to yourselves. If
your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive
him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times
in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
one might think: “That’s too difficult and unpleasant.” Or, “It’s not
practical. I went to him once–that is sufficient.” But God instructs
us to do EXACTLY as He tells us, as HE knows that this is the ONLY way
which MAY produce positive results. If we act differently than
instructed, we WILL have trouble.
(The forgoing does not apply,
however, when a brother is charged with illegal wrongdoing, including
sexual abuse. In that case, the ministry is to be told immediately, in
confidence! But even then, one has first to make sure that the facts
are true and correct, and not just mere speculation or suspicion
If a meeting, in private, between the two
members has taken place, and the sinning brother refuses to repent or
to make amends, then what is the next Biblically-ordained step?
18:16 continues: “But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two
more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be
The member who has a problem with a brother in the
church, and who has tried, unsuccessfully, to solve the problem with
the brother, is to return to the brother with one or two
witnesses–again in the effort to solve the problem and to reconcile
with the brother. The one or two witnesses must be carefully selected,
and they should not in any way already be involved in the situation.
Rather, they must be impartial and objective witnesses. After all, it
is now up to the impartial witnesses to see whether the brother accused
of sin is actually guilty of the same, and unwilling to repent and to
What, if the brother refuses to hear the witnesses?
Matthew 18:17 continues: “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.”
have always understood and taught, and the Church of the Eternal God
and its corporate international affiliates uphold and teach this
understanding, that the reference to “the church” in Matthew 18:17 is
the “ministry,” not the entire Church congregation (Please see Q&A
in Update #147). The Church congregation was, in a sense, already
involved, in a representative capacity, in the persons of the witnesses.
Matthew 18:17 continues: “… But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
is, the ministry will have to make the decision in such a case to
temporarily suspend or even disfellowship the person until he shows
real and sincere repentance. At that point, depending on the gravity of
the situation and in a rare case, the local Church congregation or even
the entire Church might have to be told.
How can we be sure that
the ministry will make the correct decision in such cases – by having
seen to it, that the proper procedure has been followed, as discussed
and set forth in Scripture, and by praying to God for wisdom to render
the right decision.
Matthew 18:18-20 tells us:
I say to you, whatever you [the ministry, now called upon to render a
decision] bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose
on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of
you [in the ministry] agree on earth concerning anything that they ask
[including wisdom to make right decisions], it will be done for them by
My Father in heaven. For where two or three [ministers] are
gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
through His Holy Spirit, will give His ministers the discernment, if
they are close to God and diligent in following the Biblical procedure
for conflict resolution, to see what needs to be done in a given case
(compare John 20:21-23). And if God should reveal to His ministry that
the accusations against a member were false, then the ministry will
have to deal with the accuser (compare Deuteronomy 19:15-21). Many
times, accusations and problems develop because of misunderstandings.
That is why two members need first to talk about those problems ALONE,
IN PRIVATE and ONLY between themselves.
The Bible is very clear
as to how we are to attempt to solve problems amongst us. And if all of
us–the ministry and the members–have done all that they were required
to do, and if a problem just cannot be solved, then God WILL see to it
that a godly and correct decision will be rendered.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
“Mr. Kalon Mitchell and Miss Manuela Link are happy to announce
their engagement to be married early next year. Manuela is the daughter
of Norbert and Johanna Link and Kalon is the son of Brad and Kathleen
Mitchell. Let us all rejoice in wishing them every happiness for the
Are You Hungry or Full?
by Robb Harris
I recently needed some work done on my
sprinkler system, so I hired someone to come out and service it.
During the process of tuning up my system, the man reset my watering
cycle in order to use less water, but get the grass to grow
greener. According to him, too much water in too short of a time
allowed less water to reach the roots. Shorter waterings on the
other hand, didn’t satiate the ground, and required less water overall.
part of the country has also been in watering restrictions for the past
few years, which dictate how many times per week you can
water. This year our city hasn’t put any restrictions into
place, and I asked him about this, wondering if his modifications to my
system would comply with any upcoming restrictions. He told me
that in the past, when restrictions were in place, people used much
more water then when there were no watering schedules. The reason
being, if you are given only a few hours per week to water, you would
most likely be watering during that entire time. And if people
think the water tables are full, they worry less about getting all the
water they can, when they are allowed.
Although a bad example to
live by in regards to our water supply, this is a good test to see how
full our “Spiritual” water supplies are. In this age, God’s Truth
is in very short supply. Do we take advantage of it, when it’s
made available to us? Or do we have the outlook that because it’s
on hand for us today, that the same will be true tomorrow?
was full of God’s Truth, thus He didn’t have to learn any more like
us. WRONG! He continued to persevere, continued to overcome
throughout His ENTIRE life. Let’s remember His example when we
start feeling too full, satisfied and self absorbed, because God’s
Truth SHOULD ALWAYS quench our thirst.
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