Update 271


Split Sermons

On December 9, 2006, Eric Rank and Robb Harris will be giving split sermons.

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.

Special Anouncement:

December 7, 2006, at 5:15 A.M. Pacific Time, Edwin Pope died. We are
deeply saddened by this loss of a faithful servant of God who has been
such a bright and shining example of gentleness and loving concern for
the brethren. In this moment of grieving, the words of another of God’s
servants remind us of the boundless hope that is given to those who
live this life as Christians:

“I have fought the good fight, I
have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid
up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all
who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8). For more information, please read the Prayer section.

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Going Fishing

by Rene Messier (Canada)

On the morning of January 16,1986, we received a phone call from our
eldest daughter who was attending Ambassador College in Pasadena,
California, informing us that Mr. Herbert Armstrong had died. For my
wife and me, this news was not unexpected, since Mr. Armstrong had been
ill for quite a while. The entire Church had been praying and fasting
for him, but we had come to the conclusion a week or so earlier that in
spite of our wishes and desires for him to be healed, it may not be
God’s will to do so.

We were saddened, but knew we had to carry
on in our responsibilities to do the work and grow in grace and
knowledge. Others were totally devastated by his death. It did not fit
in with their preconceived speculative scenarios which they were
preaching as doctrine. Some were so fixed in their minds that Mr.
Armstrong was going to be one of the two final witnesses and that he
would finish the work and lead us to the place of safety, that they
fell by the wayside. Others rearranged their new speculations to cope
with the reality of the present situation. However, God had other plans
altogether, and many found it hard to accept that.

After spending
some three and a half years with, being taught by and witnessing the
miracles of Christ, and having heard His admonitions in regard to His
death, the apostle Peter said: “I am going fishing” (John 21:3). Some
of the other apostles said, “We are going with you also” (same verse).
It appears that their mindset was something like, the party is over, it
was fun while it lasted but now I am going back to what I formerly did,
earning a living by fishing.

Our beloved Senior Pastor died
Thursday morning, at 5:15 am. He had been in a coma for a month, and
although we would have liked to see him healed, that was not God’s will
at this time. When Christ was in the garden, just prior to His arrest,
He prayed fervently to the Father, knowing He would suffer greatly, be
beaten, scourged and spit upon. He did not want to go through His
trial, humanly speaking, yet He submitted to the Father’s will and
said, “… not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). God knew
our wishes, desires and hopes in regard to Mr. Pope. And we know that
God was most certainly capable of completely healing Mr. Pope, and we
prayed fervently that He would do so, subject to His will. However, it
was God’s will that Mr. Pope would be taken from the evil to come and
that he be given rest till the time of his resurrection to immortal
life. Therefore, it is not the time for us to go fishing, but rather to
finish the job we have been given to do. We pause but do not stop. We
reflect but keep going. As the saying goes–and I don’t mean this in a
callous or unloving way–“The show must go

have a job to do and a commission to fulfill, and we need God’s power
and mercy to do it. We cannot do it on our own, but it must be done. We
must move forward in spite of trials, tests and obstacles which the
adversary puts in our path. We cannot get into the mindset of going
fishing, but rather, we must be moving forward and submitting to God’s
will. As was stated in Norbert Link’s sermon last Saturday, “Let’s be
about our Father’s business.” We are not to allow ourselves to be
discouraged by circumstances in our lives or in the Church. Instead, we
must look to God the Father and Jesus Christ to see us through
faithfully to the end, and we must be persevering in the relentless
pursuit of perfection.

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A European Army?

The EUobserver wrote on December 1:

“After its mission overseeing elections in Congo, EU troops are well on their way to being able to work as a common EU army, according to their French general. ‘I am very satisfied because I believe that we have a very well-functioning unit,’ said general Christian Damay… ‘Now we really have the beginning of a European army.’

“Discussions about creating a European army are not new, with Polish President Lech Kaczynski recently suggesting there should be a multinational EU army of 100,000 troops to support NATO missions… General Damay’s words come just as EU troops are packing their bags to leave Congo after having been in the country to monitor elections for four months–their mandate expired yesterday (30 November)… The 1,400-strong Congo mission has been held up as a shining example of a successful peacekeeping mission…”

According to Biblical prophecy, a powerful European army is going to exist very soon. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

How Propaganda Is to Be Used to Brainwash the British

England’s Daily Mail wrote on December 3:

“A multi-million pound propaganda war to force the British people to love the European Union and Brussels bureaucrats is to be launched by Tony Blair as part of his legacy as Prime Minister, it has been revealed… Details of the plan, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, show how the Prime Minister is so frustrated at his failure to persuade voters that the EU is a good thing, he is to spend a fortune from public funds in a final attempt to brainwash them before he resigns next year. They include banning Ministers and officials from referring to unpopular EU institutions like the European Commission, places such as Brussels and Strasbourg, the euro currency, terms like ‘Eurocrat’ and ‘EU directive’ and controversial policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the EU constitution. Instead they have been ordered to try to promote the ‘EU brand’ by linking to popular European events and institutions such as the Eurovision song contest, the Cannes Film Festival and the UEFA soccer organisation that runs the Champions League tournament–even though none of them has anything to do with the EU.”

In spite of these incredible alleged attempts by the British government to popularize the EU among British voters, Bible prophecy strongly indicates that Great Britain will ultimately not be a part of the EU. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Afghanistan Isn’t Working, Either…

Sometimes, we hear politicians make the claim that Iraq isn’t working because the USA moved alone, without European support, while Afghanistan is working, as the USA acted in collaboration with Europe and many additional allies. Not so!!! Afghanistan isn’t working either–and has not been for a long time.

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 3:

“The regeneration of the Taliban — which has retaken control of parts of southern Afghanistan — is no longer fresh news to anyone. But are the insurgent forces preparing to launch a series of attacks on the capital city of Kabul, which is home to peacekeeping troops, the Afghan government and non-government organizations that are helping to rebuild the war-torn country? The leadership of Germany’s military, the Bundeswehr, fear that Taliban attacks on the Afghanistan capital of Kabul will likely increase in the coming months. According to a classified report on the state of Afghanistan obtained by SPIEGEL, ‘militant opposition forces’ have made it clear that they will focus fighting during the winter ‘on the country’s largest cities.’ “The security situation has already ‘visibly deteriorated’ in two districts located just 10 kilometers from Kabul’s city limits — to the point that Afghan security forces don’t even dare to patrol the streets at night. The report warned that Taliban fighters could use the district as ‘gateways’ to Kabul and also as [a] place where they could stage future attacks. According to the report, Taliban fighters are smuggled into the districts in small ‘groups of up to eight men,’ and they often blend in with the population by staying in the homes of local residents for several days at a time.

“In a separate development, NATO troops fired on civilians after a suicide car bomb exploded next to their convoy on Sunday. The suicide blast in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, killed two civilians and injured ten others, including three British soldiers. NATO spokesman Maj. Luke Knittig said that as the patrol was driving away from the scene they saw a car they feared might contain a second suicide bomber. At least one civilian was killed and nine were injured during the ensuing shooting.”

Hezbollah Used Civilians as Human Shields

USA Today reported on December 6:

“An Israeli think tank with strong links to the military released videos and testimony Tuesday it said proved Hezbollah guerrillas used civilians as human shields during last summer’s war in Lebanon. The report’s authors hoped the revelations would challenge allegations that Israel committed war crimes when it attacked residential areas during the war. Although no formal war crimes charges have been filed against either side, Israel has taken the brunt of international criticism. Israel is especially sensitive about the possibility of legal action because of previous lawsuits and indictments abroad against Israeli leaders and military officers.

“The 300-page report, compiled by a military intelligence expert who has an office in the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, argues that Lebanese government and media reports of the number of civilian dead in Lebanon were overblown. More than 850 Lebanese, most of them civilians, were killed in Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks during the 34-day war, which began after Hezbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. The guerrillas bombarded northern Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets, killing 39 civilians. Also, 120 soldiers were killed in the violence. Israel says its attacks against Hezbollah targets in populated areas did not violate international law.

“The report, first released to The New York Times, said Hezbollah operated from civilian areas to deter the Israeli military and gain a propaganda advantage if an Israeli counterattack caused civilian casualties. Guerrillas stashed weapons in hundreds of private homes and mosques, had missile transports closely follow ambulances and fired rockets near U.N. monitoring posts, the report said.”

Chavez’ Re-election Poses Threat to the USA

MSNBC wrote on December 3:

“Emboldened by a resounding re-election, President Hugo Chavez pledged to shake up Venezuela with a more radical version of socialism and forge a wider front against the United States in Latin America… Chavez has posed a growing challenge to the United States while leading a widening bloc of Latin American leftists, influencing elections across the region, and allying himself with U.S. opponents like Iran and Syria.”The United States remains the top buyer of Venezuelan oil, but Chavez has sought to gradually diversify to new clients in Latin America and as far away as China… Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter and soaring oil prices have made it the continent’s fastest-growing economy–a fact that some voters said helped tilt them toward Chavez… The president insists he is a democrat and will continue to respect private property–though he has boosted state control over the oil industry and has said he might nationalize utilities.”

Inevitable War Between Somalia, Islam, Ethiopia and Eritrea?

The Associated Press reported on December 5, 2006:

“Somalia’s troops are ready for an imminent and inevitable war with the Islamic militia that has taken over much of the country and surrounded the internationally backed government, the country’s prime minister [Ali Gedi] said… The Islamic movement has overrun much of Somalia, including the capital, in recent months, increasingly sidelining the weak government and vowing to bring Islamic law to the whole country… The United States has said the Islamic movement has links to al-Qaida, an accusation Islamic leaders have repeatedly denied… Gedi said the Islamic forces included more than 3,000 foreign fighters…

“A confidential U.N. report recently obtained by The Associated Press said there were up to 8,000 Ethiopian troops in the country supporting the government. Ethiopia’s parliament has authorized military action if attacked by the Islamic movement, which has declared holy war on Ethiopia over its troop incursions. The U.N. report said Ethiopia’s regional rival, Eritrea, had 2,000 troops in the country backing the Islamic movement, raising the specter of Eritrea and Ethiopia fighting a proxy war in Somalia… The United States has issued a travel advisory for Somalia’s neighbors Kenya and Ethiopia, warning that extremists in Somalia could launch suicide attacks in those countries.”

Terrible Disaster in the Philippines

AFP reported on December 2:

“Rescuers have arrived in this devastated Philippines city as officials warned there would be few survivors from giant mudslides which swept away entire villages, killing hundreds. Military and civilian emergency workers delayed by typhoon Durian, which triggered the mudflows on Thursday, flew in at first light with the toll already at 469 dead or missing [By now, the death toll has been estimated as exceeding at least 1,500]… Many buildings in Legaspi, capital of the eastern Bicol region, were damaged or demolished, while villages on the slopes of the scenic Mayon volcano had been reduced to just a few sticks…

“The disaster comes after an emergency in August, when 30,000 people were evacuated fearing Mayon would erupt before returning in September… The Philippines is also recovering from the impact of typhoon Cimaron, the strongest cyclone to hit the nation in more than 10 years, which left 38 dead or missing in late October… The floods have killed at least 120 people and displaced around 300,000 since unusually heavy rains started to pound the country in October.”

The IRS vs. Pasadena Church

On November 16, the Los Angeles Times published extended excerpts from a controversial sermon at Pasadena’s “All Saints Episcopal Church,” which was delivered at the eve of national elections in 2004, prompting the IRS to accuse the church of politically intervening. The paper asked the question: “But did [the controversial] speech violate federal laws? The answer, mostly likely to come from the courts, hinges on how one defines campaigning and interprets [the pastor’s] remarks.”

When reading the excerpts from the sermon, as set forth below, the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM WITH THE SERMON becomes very clear: It was given in preparation of a vote for a political candidate or political party. This is the sad conclusion to be gleaned from the sermon which, otherwise, includes many valuable thoughts to consider. Whether such “political involvement” is enough to deny the church tax exemption is a different matter. However, we must stress that getting involved in the politics of this world and VOTING for a particular political candidate or party in governmental elections VIOLATES the Biblical principle of keeping ourselves separate from this world. As a consequence, members of the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates refuse to participate in governmental elections and to vote for a particular political candidate or political party.

The LA Times quoted the sermon speaker as follows:

“Good people of profound faith will be for either George Bush or John Kerry for reasons deeply rooted in their faith. I want you to hear me on this. Yet I want to say as clearly as I can how I see Jesus impacting your vote and mine. Both Sen. Kerry and President Bush are devout Christians–one a Roman Catholic and the other a Methodist. Against the teachings of Jesus, listen in as Kerry and Bush debate three hugely important issues this morning: ending war and violence, eliminating poverty and holding tenaciously to hope… I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: ‘War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism. President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq. More than 1,100 U.S. soldiers dead, 8,000 wounded–some disabled for life–and now the latest figures say 100,000 Iraqi fighters, women and children are dead… Your fundamental premise for the massive violence of this war is that it is the proper response to the terrorist attack that took place Sept. 11, 2001. But remember: The killing of innocent people to achieve some desired goal is morally repudiated by anyone claiming to follow me as their savior and guide.’

“Jesus, looking at the United States, the most powerful nation in the history of civilization, disavows any path that affirms grief must lead to war; Jesus refuses to accept the violence of war as the necessary consequences of our tragic losses on Sept. 11. Maybe you are calling Jesus naive, but he points us to the truest reality in the universe: ‘Mercy brings mercy and revenge brings revenge. Tragically, your world refuses to learn this truth even after so many bitter experiences in every part of the world. Mercy brings mercy. Revenge brings revenge.’

“How Jesus mourns the deaths of those 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11. But Jesus also mourns the death, devastation and loss in Afghanistan and Iraq and Sudan and Israel/Palestine and in so many other parts of the world. They too are part of God’s precious human family… Jesus would say to us: ‘Yes, mourn the deaths of those closest to you who have died; yet it is troublesome that you in America could get so caught up in the tragedy of Sept. 11 without ever noticing all my children who have been blown apart by this war, and the 30,000 children under 5 years of age across the globe who die every day of malnutrition and hunger. My heart can hardly bear it.’

“Jesus confronts both Sen. Kerry and President Bush: ‘I will tell you what I think of your war. The sin at the heart of this war against Iraq is your belief that an American life is of more value than an Iraqi life. That an American child is more precious than an Iraqi baby. God loathes war. At the time of the trauma of Sept. 11 you did not have to declare war. You could have said to the American people and the world: ‘We will respond but not in kind. We will not seek to avenge the death of innocent Americans by the death of innocent victims elsewhere, lest we become what we abhor.’ Jesus continues: ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster. It will take years for the widely felt hostility in Iraq and around the world to ebb. The consequences of arrogance, accompanied by certitude that the world’s most powerful military can cure all ills, should be burned into America’s memory forever. President Bush, Sen. Kerry, will you save us from all this suffering? But God’s only hands are yours and all who call upon my name. In the midst of great suffering, I call out to you: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”‘

“Jesus turns to President Bush again with deep sadness. ‘Is what I hear really true? Do you really mean that you want to end a decade-old ban on developing nuclear battlefield weapons, as well as endorsing the creation of a nuclear “bunker-blaster” bomb? Are you really going to resume nuclear testing? That is sheer insanity. This only encourages nations to build their nuclear arsenal in defense against you. This is morally indefensible.’ Jesus grows more insistent. ‘The development of battlefield nuclear weapons and threatening their use against “rogue” nations and willing to strike first is a dangerous change of policy. Talk of winnable nuclear war is the greatest illusion. I am indignant when I hear people in your government saying a nuclear war could end for anyone as a victory.’

“Everything I know about Jesus would have him uttering those words. From my own study, prayer, reflection and dialogue, I say that nuclear war is the enemy… The political reality that nuclear war still remains an option for America and other countries is the paramount horror of modern existence. The nuclear bomb is the most outright evil thing that human beings ever created. What does it say about the moral values of a nation that puts its security in nuclear weapons that are morally outrageous? I believe that Jesus calls us to be nuclear abolitionists through the political process. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.’ When you go to the polls on Nov. 2, vote all your values. Jesus places on your heart this question: Who is to be trusted as the world’s chief peacemaker?”

Papal Authority Uncompromised

AFP reported on December 1:

“Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up a momentous visit to Turkey, in which he reached out to Muslims and the Orthodox Church while standing firm on key issues such as papal authority and Europe’s Christian roots… Adding drama to diplomacy, the 79-year-old pope made a stunning conciliatory gesture on Thursday when he assumed an attitude of Muslim prayer while facing Mecca in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque… he remained steadfast on a major point of disagreement — papal authority — when he stressed the Vatican’s ‘universal’ role.”

Are We To Observe Sunday?

CNA wrote on December 1:

“Pope Benedict XVI has sent a message to Cardinal Francis Arinze ahead of the Congregation for Divine Worship’s study day on the Sunday Mass… ‘Sundays,’ writes the Pope, ‘remain the fundamental seedbed and the primordial nucleus of the liturgical year… For the first Christians, participation in Sunday celebrations was the natural expression of their belonging to Christ, of their communion with His mystical Body, in joyous expectation of His glorious return. Today… it is more than ever necessary to reiterate the sacred nature of the Lord’s day and the need to participate in Sunday Mass.

“‘The cultural context in which we live, often marked by religious indifference and secularism that obscure the horizon of transcendence, must not cause us to forget that the People of God who came into being with the events of Easter must return [to those events] as an inexhaustible spring, in order to better understand … their own identity and the reasons for their existence. Sunday was not chosen by the Christian community… rather by the Apostles, indeed by Christ Himself Who on that day, “the first day of the week,” arose and appeared before the disciples. … Each Sunday celebration of the Eucharist enacts the sanctification of Christian people.’ Benedict XVI closed his message by expressing the hope that the study day ‘may help to recover the Christian meaning of Sunday in … the life of all believers.'”

But is any or all of this true? Did the early Apostles and the early Christians celebrate Sunday or Easter? Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead on Sunday morning? If you don’t know the answers to these vital questions, then the truth WILL surprise you. It might actually CHANGE your life!

To learn more, please read our free booklets, “Jesus Christ–a Great Mystery,”“Don’t Keep Christmas,” and “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

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How can you really prove what the Bible teaches?

(Español: ¿Cómo se puede demostrar realmente lo que enseña la Biblia?)

The original writings of the Bible are, in fact, God’s infallible Word. However, in the face of such myriads of beliefs—all claiming the Bible as their source, most people dismiss the real authority of the Book that God has inspired.

Both Catholics and Protestants use the Bible as the basis for what they believe and teach. Various translations and versions of the Bible are available, and these differing accounts do reflect the bias of those organizations and individuals who have authored them.

However, the Bible transcends both language and translation issues. For example, consider the record found in Acts 2, where the disciples on the Day of Pentecost were led by God’s Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. In particular, note what occurred for those who heard this message:

“Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we HEAR, EACH IN OUR OWN LANGUAGE IN WHICH WE WERE BORN? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamhylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–WE HEAR THEM SPEAKING IN OUR OWN TONGUES THE WONDERFUL WORKS OF GOD'” (Acts 2:7-11).

God, who caused different languages to arise (Compare Genesis 11:1-9), has also made it possible to understand His truth in the language of our birth! In addition, Jesus has commissioned His Church to preach the Gospel all over the earth (Compare Matthew 24:14). The Word of God has been translated and published in written form throughout the earth in our time!

Aside from those who flatly reject the Bible as myth, many people claiming to practice Christianity dismiss the Old Testament (as well as some books of the New Testament, such as the Book of Revelation)—all part of the enduring Word of God (Compare Isaiah 40:8). In fact, many who embrace Jesus as their Savior have never read the prophetic Scriptures about His first appearance, and they are likewise unaware of the dramatic prophecies concerning His return that are recorded throughout the Bible.

Add to this the fact that people READ INTO the Bible what they want to believe. A very striking example of this is found in the observance of the Sabbath. Some choose to follow the line of thinking originated by the Catholic Church that the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh day to the first. They quote Scriptures to justify this position and reject the commandment of God; the example of Jesus Christ; and, the practice of the Church of God as documented in the New Testament. (For a more detailed account of this, please read our booklet: “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)

How then can we know what is true and what is false?

THE BIBLE PROVES ITSELF! Human interpretation is not the final authority when it comes to the Word of God. But that is exactly how those, who selectively pick and choose what they want to believe, view the Bible. It is also the position taken by so many who simply reject the Bible.

Jesus Christ made an utterly profound statement in answer to Pilate’s questioning: “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice’” (John 18:37).

Jesus Christ bore witness of the Word of God and that included the Holy Scriptures—the Old Testament. The prophecies of His birth, death and resurrection proved to be true!

Truth—as opposed to falsehood and deception—was the focus of what Jesus taught. He made this statement to the Jews of His day—many of whom were the religious leaders of the nation: “‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:32).

Jesus very poignantly stated that the religious practices of the Jews did not stand in the truth—that they were no longer following the Word of God:

“‘Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God’” (John 8:43-47).

In another encounter, some of the scribes and Pharisees challenged Jesus: “‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread’” (Matthew 15:2).

The response by Jesus went straight to the heart of why these religious leaders were not teaching the truth: “He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?’” (Matthew 15:3). Jesus adds this powerful indictment: “‘Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”’” (Matthew 15:7-9).

In Matthew 23, Jesus very specifically reveals the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees—the ones who were the religious leaders and who claimed to derive their authority and practices from the Word of God. In verse 3, Jesus pinpoints the problem: “‘…they say, and do not do.’”

Because they were unwilling to obey what God commanded, these people did not understand what was true in God’s Word. Caring more for what people thought of them, they lost their fear of God.

Christ reveals to us an important key for the proper understanding of the Word of God. He says in John 7:17: “‘If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.'” Christ adds in John 13:17: “‘And if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'”

Proving what is true in the Bible must begin with a reverence for God: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10). Psalm 119, verse 100, adds: “I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.”

In a discussion with His disciples, Jesus asked what the public said about who He was. He then asked that question of them, and Peter answered: “’…You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:16). In Christ’s response, we find this stunning statement: “’…Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father, who is heaven’” (Matthew 16:17).

Jesus speaks of knowledge that is REVEALED! This transcends knowledge that one might gain in reading any other book! To really understand the Bible, which is, by its own claim, the Word of God, understanding must come from God Himself. Paul taught this same truth to the Church:

“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written:

“‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the
Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:4-14).

Following His resurrection, Jesus continued to teach His disciples the true meaning of God’s Word. Luke records an account in which Jesus explained prophecies from the Old Testament to two of His disciples that even they had not understood:

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Jesus appeared to these two men for the very purpose of revealing understanding to them. This account continues: “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He OPENED THE SCRIPTURES TO US?’” (Luke 24:30-32).

After this occurrence, Jesus met with several more of His disciples. In preparation for the work He gave His followers to accomplish, Jesus provided this vital element: “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).

These disciples had undoubtedly read the Scriptures. At that time, Judaism was the vibrant religion of the nation. Synagogues existed throughout the region, and the Temple served as the focus of Jewish life. Yet even with this rich background, the true understanding of the Messiah had to be revealed!

Another account of revelation is found in the story of Philip being sent to preach to a faithful man from Ethiopia. Reading from Isaiah, this man was at a loss to understand the meaning: “So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:34-35).

Paul understood that the Church of God had been given a special understanding and responsibility to preach the truth of God’s Word: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).

Preaching is a grave responsibility, and it is not something that should be done by those who just decide, on their own, to preach— to represent God and to explain His Word: “And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was” (Hebrews 5:4). James offers this caution: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

Here is what God says as an absolute prerequisite for not only preaching but for understanding His truth: “’…But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And WHO TREMBLES AT MY WORD’” (Isaiah 66:2).

An example of this kind of attitude is found in the record of individuals in Berea who had the Gospel preached to them by Paul and Silas: “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). The fruits of this approach were that many believed the Gospel! (Compare Acts 17:12).

By this example left for us, we understand that we must check up in our own Bible whether what is preached is true or not. A lie cannot be proven; however, people can be deceived. Paul warns us of those who would lie—of those people who would even falsely claim their authority from the Word of God:

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transform himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The Bible also reveals a way for us to NOT be deceived but to prove what is only true: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”(Isaiah 8:20).

Jesus prayed for His followers, and He asked God to set them apart: “’Sanctify them by Your truth. YOUR WORD IS TRUTH’”(John 17:17). Paul reminded Timothy to stay anchored to God’s Word:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:14-16).

However, there are those who set themselves apart FROM the Truth, and this kind of approach was to become prevalent just before the return of Jesus Christ to the earth: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in LATTER TIMES some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

Note this further warning from Paul to Timothy:

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Jesus answered His disciples when they asked about the time of the end, and He began His answer with this somber warning: “‘…Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, “I am theChrist,” and will deceive many’” (Matthew 24:4-5); Also: “‘For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect’” (Verse 24).

Only the truth is contained in God’s Word (Compare Titus 1:2), even though the Bible may report about lies of Satan, demons or people. But the Holy Scriptures make it also clear, of course, that we are not to follow those lies. Only the truth to be embraced by us can be proven from the Bible! Nonetheless, God has clearly revealed that liars would arise and claim that what they teach is true. That has happened and it continues to happen, but we must use God’s Word as the true measure.

Here is a vital key for each of us to use to prove what is true in the Bible: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Our new booklet on Suffering was sent to the printer in England.

new StandingWatch program was recorded and placed on the Web, titled,
“The Pope in Turkey.” Set forth is a brief summary of the program:

Benedict XVI’s visit in Turkey was full of surprises. In his attempt to
diminish or eradicate the damage caused by his speech earlier this
year, stating that Mohammed had brought the sword to the world, he made
some unique statements in favor of Turkey and Islam. The Pope also met
with the leader of the Orthodox Church in an attempt to bring about
reconciliation between these two influential religious entities. It is
the Pope’s declared goal to lead an ecumenical movement involving all
Christian churches and even non-Christian religions. Should you embrace
and support such a movement?

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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