Update 264


Seek First the Kingdom

On October 21, 2006, Edwin Pope will give the sermon, titled, “Seek First the Kingdom.”

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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Stay Unified

by Rene Messier (Canada)

Coming home from a hard days work, the head of household  was a
bit dismayed to hear his two sons fighting and squabbling in the
basement. Ordering them to stop, he said to them: “Boys, I would like
you to come outside to learn a lesson.” He went to one of the trees in
the yard and picked up a twig, which was about  twenty inches
long. He handed it to his eldest son and said: “ Break this.” His son
did so with ease. He then picked up eight twigs, gave them to his
eldest son and told him: “ Break these.” The son tried very hard, but
he could not do so. He even smashed the twigs across his knees and
still could not break them. He finally admitted that he was unable to
break the eight twigs. The father looked at his sons and said: “ There
is strength in unity.” This was a statement of truth and also a lesson
both boys never forgot. 

By the time you read this
editorial, the Feast of Tabernacles will be over. Hopefully, you have
been inspired and are determined to help finishing the Work that God
has given us to do. This must be done in a unified way, working
together as a team. Fighting and squabbling would only play into the
adversary’s hands. We must stay focused on the job ahead, remaining
faithful to God and doing His Work in a truly united and enthusiastic
manner, as God opens the doors of opportunities for us. Let us all stay
unified, while remembering Mrs. Loma Armstrong’s favorite Scripture in
Psalm 133:1: “Behold , how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to
dwell together in unity!”

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Iraq War–Disheartening!

In a somber article from the Associated Press, as reported by CTV.ca, the ongoing war in Iraq seems increasingly hopeless: “The U.S. military on Thursday acknowledged its two-month drive to crush insurgent and militia violence in the Iraqi capital had fallen short, calling the raging bloodshed disheartening and saying it was rethinking what to do next to rein in gunmen, torturers and bombers.”

This less than optimistic report comes at a time when the administration of President George Bush is busy campaigning to keep its Republican hold in Congress. Across the nation, there is a growing anti-war sentiment emerging–with parallels now being drawn to the Viet Nam war. Many question the run-away costs of this war, and certainly the tragic human loses are garnering outcries from both participants and from the majority of other nations who strongly oppose America’s lead in this engagement.

In the face of such seeming hopelessness in our generation, please read our free booklet, “Should You Fight In Wars?” Also, we invite you to view our StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. See up to date commentary in light of Biblical prophecy–posted at www.StandingWatch.org

Iraq War–More Bad News!

The Guardian Unlimited (10/20/06) published a rather dire assessment of U.S. prospects in the war in Iraq: “A day after George Bush conceded for the first time that America may have reached the equivalent of a Tet offensive in Iraq, the Pentagon yesterday admitted defeat in its strategy of securing Baghdad.

“The admission from President Bush that the US may have arrived at a turning point in this war – the Tet offensive led to a massive loss of confidence in the American presence in Vietnam – comes during one of the deadliest months for US forces since the invasion.

“Yesterday the number of US troops killed since October 1 rose to 73, deepening the sense that America is trapped in an unwinnable situation and further damaging Republican chances in midterm elections that are less than three weeks away.”

All of this bad news is coinciding with the current trip of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who has spent this week in east Asia trying to secure enforcement of the U.N. Security Council’s resolution against North Korea. Secretary Rice is finding a cool reception to America’s goal in the matter.

North Korea

In an Associated Press article, as reported by the Las Vegas SUN on October 17, 2006, recent UN sanctions were being viewed as an act of war by leaders in North Korea: “The U.N. Security Council ‘resolution cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war,’ the ministry said, calling the sanctions ‘a product of the U.S. hostile policy toward’ North Korea.”

The article points out that China’s role in enforcing this U.N. resolution is problematic, at best. China is concerned that any strict enforcement would lead to massive migration by the citizens of North Korea into China.

The somewhat hesitant steps undertaken by members of the U.N. surrounding the issue of nuclear weapons’ development by the North Korean government has undermined the bold pronouncements by the U.S. government. The article highlights some of this effect:

“The North found a sympathetic ear in Iran, which has also been condemned for its nuclear program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday rejected the American-initiated measures and accused the U.S. of using the U.N. Security Council as a ‘weapon to impose its hegemony.’

“In Washington, Rice warned that U.N. sanctions on North Korea should also be seen by Iran as a strong signal to abandon its nuclear ambitions or face a rebuke from a united international community.

“‘The Iranian government is watching,’ she said. ‘It can now see that the international community will respond’ to efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.”

However, up to this time, the world is not safer. Rather, new nations are emerging to arm themselves with more of the frightening doomsday weapons that Biblical prophecy clearly foretells! For more incisive information about what will happen in the future of our generation, please refer to our booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

Muslim Image?

In a revealing speech by Egypt’s President Mubarak, as reported by Reuters (10/20/06), the question of the role of Muslims in advocating radicalism was challenged. The article quoted Mr. Mubarak as follows:

“‘The Muslim world is facing a ferocious attack, describing Islam wrongly and offending Muslims’ sacred (symbols and figures) and beliefs,’ Mubarak said in a speech marking Lailat al-Qadr, the night Muslims believe God started the revelation of the Koran to Prophet Mohammed more than 1400 years ago.”

“‘Don’t we Muslims share part of the responsibility for the wrong perceptions about Islam? Have we done our duty in correcting the image of Islam and Muslims?’ he said.”

Battle lines are being drawn that will only lead to an escalation in these hostilities. We explain where all of this world tension and strife is headed in our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy-The Unfolding of End-Time Events.”


While other events take center stage, political relationships between Europe and Russia are building–however tenuously!

Reuters, for October 20, 2006, presented some very interesting perspectives from an interview with a German government official:

“Germany said on Thursday the political atmosphere inside Russia was growing more and more uncertain but urged the EU to seize its ‘window of opportunity’ to bring Russia closer to Europe before it is too late.

“Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler made these comments in an interview with Reuters before Russian President Vladimir Putin meets European Union leaders on Friday in Finland.”

The Reuters article also pointed out a very interesting dynamic in the German-Russian relationship:

“The Russian president, who speaks German and spent many years in the country as an agent for the KGB, the former Soviet Union’s secret police, has made economic and political relations with Europe’s largest economy a top priority.”

News from Russia is troubling. Following the death of a well-known journalist, other measures to give the Kremlin more control of non-governmental organizations have Europeans concerned about the climate of individual rights in Russia. Worrisome, as well, is the Asian lure for Russia in its international dealings.

The European Union–although now only loosely integrated–is rising to become the new economic crossroads of the world. At the head of this surge is the leadership of a powerful German nation. All of this stands in contrast to the weakening world status of the United States. More information is available in our booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

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After Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, would they still have lived eternally, if they had eaten subsequently from the tree of life?

In order to answer this question, we need to explain first what the two trees symbolized.

we read in the first three chapters of the book of Genesis, when God
created Adam and Eve, He placed them in a beautiful garden, called the
garden of Eden or Paradise. In that garden, God had planted two special
trees. Although these trees were literal trees, they also had specific
symbolic meaning and significance. The two trees were called the tree
of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God said
that man could eat from all trees in the garden, including the tree of
life, but man was forbidden to eat from the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil. Therefore, God offered man to eat FREELY from the tree
of life. The Church of God has long understood and consistently taught
that the tree of life was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. If man had eaten
from the tree of life, he would have received the free gift of the Holy
Spirit of God, and with it godly understanding and wisdom as how to
live. Adam and Eve would have received, with the Holy Spirit of God, a
down-payment or a guarantee of eternal life, and they would have been,
in due time, upon continuously living the right way, changed to
immortal Spirit beings.

Adam and Eve did not eat from the tree of
life, but they did eat, instead, from the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil. In not eating from the tree of life, and in eating instead
from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man decided to reject
God’s Holy Spirit, eternal life and godly wisdom, and to accept the
wisdom of this world, which leads to death. God had told them ahead of
time about the consequences of their decision. We read in Genesis 2:17
that God said that man would die if they were to eat from the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil. Correctly translated, God said: “dying
you shall die.” The Broadman Bible Commentary explains:: “Genesis 2:17b
may be read, ‘In the day that you eat of it, you shall proceed to die.’”

Satan told Eve something different. We read, in Genesis 3:5, that Satan
told Eve, in effect, that she would not die, but that she would be like
God knowing, or better, DECIDING for herself, what is good and what is
evil. Eve saw, as we read in Genesis 3:6, that the tree would make man
wise–but the reference is to human wisdom, not the wisdom from God
which can only come through the tree of life–the Holy Spirit. And so,
man has used his own wisdom ever since, by rejecting, generally
speaking, the wisdom of God (compare 1 Corinthians 2:1-7; 3:18-20).

are now prepared to answer the question posed in this Q&A. After
both Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and to eat from the forbidden
fruit, God confronted Adam and Eve. He saw from their reaction that
they refused to repent of what they had done. Rather, they proceeded to
excuse or even justify their wrong decision. As a consequence, God
said, as recorded in Genesis 3:22-23: “‘Behold, the man has become like
one of Us, to know [or better, to decide for himself what he thinks is] good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the
tree of life, and eat, and live forever’–therefore the LORD God sent
him out of the garden of Eden…”

Would Adam and Eve have lived
forever, if they had eaten from the tree of life, after having already
eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Realize that the
tree of life was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. So, even if they had
received the Holy Spirit by eating from the tree of life, God could
always take away from Adam and Eve the Holy Spirit, preventing them
from becoming immortal.

Some commentaries feel that the tree of
life symbolized more than just the receipt of the Holy Spirit. They
reason that it actually symbolized the immediate receipt of immortality.

For instance, the Ryrie Study Bible writes:

Adam and Eve from the garden was both a punishment and an act of mercy,
lest they should eat of the tree of life and live forever in a state of
death and alienation.”

The better view, however, is that Adam and
Eve would not have changed into immortality, even if they had partaken
of the tree of life. Remember that God had already told them that they
would DIE, since they had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary writes:

“‘Behold, the
man has become as one of us, to know good and evil!…’ this was said to
awaken and humble them, and to bring them to a sense of their sin and
folly, and to repentance for it. God thus fills their faces with shame,
that they may seek His name…The reason God gave why He shut man out of
paradise; not only because he had put forth his hand, and taken of the
tree of knowledge, which was his sin, but lest he should again put
forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life and FLATTER HIMSELF

Fausset and Brown agree with Henry’s conclusion that Adam and Eve would
not have become immortal, even if they had eaten from the tree of life:

God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us’–not spoken in irony
as is generally supposed, but in deep compassion. The words should be
rendered, ‘Behold, what has become [by sin] of the man who was as one
of us!’ Formed, at first, in our image to know good and evil–how sad
his condition now. ‘and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take
of the tree of life.’ This tree being a pledge of immortal life with
which obedience should be rewarded, man lost… all claim to this tree;
and therefore, that he might not eat of it or DELUDE HIMSELF with the
idea that eating of it WOULD RESTORE WHAT HE HAD FORFEITED, the Lord
sent him forth from the garden.”

Man was made from the dust of
(Genesis 3:19). For man to acquire immortality, God would have had to
change mortal man into an immortal being. Eating from the tree of life
and thereby receiving the Holy Spirit, would not have made man
immortal, all by itself. Even when we receive the Holy Spirit today, we
are not immediately changed into immortal Spirit beings. We still
die–physically–and need to be resurrected from the dead to
immortality. In addition, we can even still die spiritually, after
having received the Holy Spirit–if we lose the Holy Spirit and commit
the unpardonable sin, which cannot be forgiven.

We therefore hold
that Adam and Eve would not have been changed automatically to immortal
Spirit beings upon eating from the tree of life. Furthermore, God did
not want them to eat from the tree of life and receive the Holy Spirit,
as He did not see any repentance in them for their disobedience. God
does not grant His Holy Spirit to those who disobey Him–rather, we
read in Acts 5:32 that God gives His Holy Spirit only to those who are
obedient to Him. Revelation 22:14-15 confirms that only those have
access to the tree of life–the Holy Spirit–who “do His
commandments… But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral
and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

We have received our latest booklet from the printer in Canada. This publication, titled “Teach Us To Pray!,
was distributed at both of our Feast sites. We will be sending the new
booklet to the rest of our mailing list in a short time. If your wish a
copy, please write to us or view it on the church websites.

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Military Service

by Simon Akl (17)

This past summer there have been, and still
are, on-going conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of the
world. Being at an age where I might soon have to be confronted with
the pressure of serving in the military, should there be a mandatory
draft, I have been thinking a lot about war and if God’s people should
be fighting and participating willingly or unwillingly in it.

we look at and analyze the many existing conflicts, we see that they
always lead to more division, destruction and even death. Most wars are
only fought because of political interests and benefits, and as a
result, many innocent lives are being wasted purposelessly on both
sides. God’s people have been commanded not to kill other human beings.
We have also been admonished, however unpopular and rejected by humans
in general, to love, respect, and pray for our enemies. God has
equipped our hearts, minds, and souls with a creativity and imagination
to communicate, negotiate and resolve issues diplomatically and in a
Godly manner, based on love, respect and charity. 

In this
world, people rush to war first before even resorting to any sincere
peaceful dialogue to resolve their interests in a respectful way.
Hence, we can see that God’s way of life is not being implemented and
followed, but it is neglected and rejected by the rulers of this age.
God’s people know that their citizenship is in heaven and that God’s
Kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, we must not give in to what
this world is erroneously asking or commanding us to do, whatever the
consequences are or might be. We are not to take part in these
corrupted wars which are being fought and should refrain from any
participation in them–while looking forward to such time when Jesus
Christ returns to this earth to bring peace and restore all things,
according to the decree of the Father since the beginning of this world.

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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

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United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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