Update 308


The Tabernacle in the Wilderness, Part 2

On August 25, 2007, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Tabernacle in the Wilderness, 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.

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by Rene Messier (Canada)

Most of us have appreciated during our travels beautiful natural lakes in various parts of the world, which are a product of the Creator God. We have marveled at the splendor of the color of the water, especially of those glacier lakes, and we have been awed by their beauty and their natural surroundings. Most of us have also seen man-made lakes, which are not so awesome, because they came into existence, perhaps, as a result of the building of dams or other man-made projects. The beaches of those lakes are not as nice, and the bottoms are usually filled with stumps from trees that have been cut off. The fish have been added. All of this shows that we cannot improve on perfection.

The same could be said about the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath was a part of God’s perfect creation, established at the re-creation of the surface of the earth, as well as the creation of man, close to six thousand years ago. Christ said  in Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”  The Sabbath is an opportunity to rest from our labors, to worship our Creator,  and to appreciate His creation.

Some have abandoned the Sabbath and replaced it with Sunday, or they have never understood that the Sabbath is the designated day by God Almighty. Sunday is a product of man–not God. It was adopted by the churches of this world as if they could somehow improve on perfection. But they cannot!

The question is, why would we reject perfection and settle for the imperfect? Why would we want to worship our Creator with a man-made product, rather than a God-made product?

Which, do you suppose, is inferior–that which is created by God, or that which was established by man, without the advice of or blessing from God? Which, do you suppose, is superior–that which was created by God or that which was substituted by man?

Here is the real issue: Are we going to follow the traditions of man or the explicit inductions of the Creator God? God made the Sabbath for man–not Sunday. While the Sabbath reflects God’s perfection, Sunday is nothing else but a man-made tradition–a cheap substitute inspired by none other than the god of this world–Satan the devil.

All of us need to answer consistently the following question: Is our worship based on man-made or God-made injunctions? Is it based on God’s perfect law, or on man’s imperfect standards? The choice to do right is ours!

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Most Americans in the Dark

On August 22, AFP published the following shocking article:

“Two-thirds of US adults admit to being in the dark about political issues outside the United States, and only a third are well-versed in US politics, the results of a poll published Tuesday showed… Global political knowledge was miniscule, with just three percent of women and 14 percent of men saying they are extremely knowledgeable on world politics.

“One reason for the knowledge gap is lack of interest, according to the poll. Well over half (57 percent) say they do not like learning about political issues in other countries…”

No wonder that the Bible predicts that the development of earthshaking political events, involving and caused by foreign powers, will take the vast majority of Americans, as well as the entire world, by utter surprise. Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ warned of the following, in Matthew 24:38-39, pertaining to our time:

“For as in the days before the flood [at the time of Noah, verse 37], they were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and DID NOT KNOW until the flood came and took them all away, so ALSO will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Paul echoed Christ’s warning for us today, in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4:

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then SUDDEN DESTRUCTION comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they SHALL NOT ESCAPE. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”

For more information, please view regularly our Internet-video programs, titled, “StandingWatch,” and please read our free booklets, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” and “Europe in Prophecy.”

Iraq in the News–Like Vietnam?

CNN reported on August 17:

“The number of coalition military deaths in the war in Iraq has reached 4,000… Most of the fatalities throughout the Iraq war have been U.S. military service members, with 3,705 deaths. That number also includes seven civilians working for the Pentagon.The nearly 300 others hail from countries, such as Italy, Poland and Ukraine, that have supported the U.S. effort, which began in March 2003.”

AFP reported on August 21:

“Iraqi political progress has been ‘extremely disappointing,’ the US ambassador in Baghdad said on Tuesday, two weeks before he and the top American military commander in Iraq are to report to Congress. Ryan Crocker warned that US support for the crumbling government of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was not ‘a blank cheque,’ delivering his most outspoken criticism to date. His comments came as Maliki held talks in Syria, one of Washington’s arch foes, in a bid to win support from Iraq’s neighbours to try to end the deadly violence engulfing the country.”

AFP added on August 22:

“US President George W. Bush in a speech on Wednesday will warn that a US withdrawal from Iraq could produce a catastrophe similar to what occurred in Southeast Asia after US forces left Vietnam… Bush’s speech ties anti-war forces in the Vietnam era to the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the aftermath of the US pull-out, and hints at a parallel disaster in Iraq if US forces leave too soon.

“‘Many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people,’ he said according to the advance transcript. ‘The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation, torture, or execution. In Vietnam, former American allies, government workers, intellectuals, and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea,’ Bush said, pleading for patience with the US-led security crackdown in Iraq…

“‘There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today’s struggle — Al-Qaeda,’ Bush said, pointing to speeches by Osama bin Laden and his number two Ayman al-Zawahiri in which they mention Vietnam in connection with US government weakness. ‘Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like “boat people,” “re-education camps,” and “killing fields.”‘”

President Bush’s comparison prompted sharp criticism from politicians, newscasters and historians. In NBC’s Today Show, Tim Russert stated on August 23 that President Bush’s equation was very risky as in the public mind, Vietnam was wrong and a lost war. He continued that historians point out that it was the Vietnam war–and not the US withdrawal–which CREATED the problems.

USA Today wrote on August 23:

“The president is drawing ‘the wrong lesson from history,’ said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. The United States lost in Vietnam, he said, ‘because our troops were trapped in a distant country we did not understand, supporting a government that lacked sufficient legitimacy with its people.’

“Military gains in Iraq are being wasted because Iraq’s government ‘is failing miserably,’ said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat. The U.S. military, he said, can only do so much, and if the Iraqis want democracy, ‘they must fight for it.'”

Military and/or political solutions will not end our problems in and with Iraq–simply because God has begun to withdraw His blessings from the USA. The reasons for this development are clearly described in our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

America’s Grim Economic Future

The International Herald Tribune wrote on August 17:

“The U.S. economy, once the envy of the world, is now viewed across the globe with suspicion. America has become shackled by an immovable mountain of debt that endangers its prosperity and threatens to bring the rest of the world economy crashing down with it.

“The ongoing sub-prime mortgage crisis, a result of irresponsible lending policies designed to generate commissions for unscrupulous brokers, presages far deeper problems in a U.S. economy…

“As a banker working in the heart of the Muslim world, I have been amazed by the depth and breadth of anti-Americanism, even among U.S. allies, manifested in reactions ranging from fierce anger to stoic fatalism. Muslims outside the United States interpret America’s policies in the Middle East not as an effort to spread democracy but as a blatant neocolonialist attempt to solve its economic problems by force. Arabs and Persians alike argue that America’s fiscal irresponsibility has forced the nation to seek solutions through military aggression. Many believe that America’s misguided adventure in Iraq was a desperate attempt to capture both a reliable source of cheap oil and a major export market for the United States…

“… the Chinese… have threatened to retaliate against proposed U.S. trade sanctions by reducing their $1.3 trillion in dollar holdings. The U.S. debt situation is so grave that the Chinese would not even need to ‘dump dollars’ to precipitate a meltdown but could simply refuse to extend further credit… China has the far stronger hand… American economic decadence has become a source of Russian strength.

“What have Americans gained from their nation’s mountain of debt? A crumbling infrastructure, a manufacturing base that has declined 60 percent since World War II, a rise in the wealth gap, the lowest consumer-savings rate since the depths of the Great Depression, 50 million Americans without health insurance, an educational system in decline and a shrinking dollar that makes foreign travel a luxury…

“Current tensions between the United States and the rest of the world will continue as long as America’s military bark is louder than its economic bite… LET US HOPE AMERICA HEEDS THE WARNINGS…”

Terrible Weather Conditions in Mexico and the USA

The New York Times wrote on August 22:

“After hammering Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with blistering winds and heavy rain on Tuesday, a weakened Hurricane Dean was moving to strike again this afternoon as it rolled across the Bay of Campeche toward Mexico’s Gulf coast…

“On Tuesday, on its path across the Yucatán, it was rated as the ninth-strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic. As a Category 5 storm, with winds in excess of 165 miles per hour, it ripped roofs off homes, flooded streets, downed power lines and snapped trees. It missed the prime tourist spots of the Mayan Riviera but caused damage in Chetumal, the state capital… [which] took the brunt of the storm. Streets were inundated and debris was everywhere. Hundreds of trees lay strewn along major thoroughfares, and thousands of people were without power and running water.”

The Associated Press reported on August 23:

“Dean hit the mainland as a Category 2 storm after regaining some of the force it unleashed on the Yucatan. Its first strike on the peninsula Tuesday as a Category 5 tempest with 165 mph winds was the THIRD MOST INTENSE Atlantic hurricane ever to make landfall.”

It added:

“Dean slammed into Mexico for the second time… Wednesday with top sustained winds of 100 mph. Its center hit the tourism and fishing town of Tecolutla. The wide storm’s hurricane-force winds lashed at a 60-mile stretch of the Mexican coast in Veracruz state.”

It also said that “The remnants of Hurricane Dean dumped heavy rain across central Mexico on Thursday, drenching mudslide-prone mountains as it pushed its way inland…”

In a related article, The New York Times reported on August 22:

“The death toll from two storm systems — one in the Upper Midwest and the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin in Texas and Oklahoma — reached 22 on Tuesday… In Wisconsin and Minnesota, thousands of homes were damaged… Flooding remained a problem Wednesday in parts of Ohio… In northern Iowa, widespread flooding continued as thunderstorms dumped more heavy rain across the already water-logged region Wednesday. Strong wind damaged buildings, and some roads and homes were underwater.”

The Associated Press added on August 23:

“More than 1,000 people were flooded out of their homes Thursday after heavy rain that swamped communities across the Midwest sent Ohio’s rivers spilling over their banks… A powerful thunderstorm hit Chicago with 50 mph wind late Wednesday, and another storm system was moving over Iowa and southern Minnesota on Thursday.”

Two Years and One Billion Dollars Later, New Orleans Still at Great Risk

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 17:

“New Orleans remains a very risky place to live… The entire flood system still provides much less protection than New Orleans needs, and the pre-Katrina patchwork of levees, floodwalls and gates that a Corps of Engineers investigation called ‘a system in name only’ is still just that.

“… the city still lacks a system that can stand up to that 1-in-100 storm, let alone one like Hurricane Katrina, which the corps calls a 1-in-396 storm. The work that could build the more robust system – originally estimated at $7 billion, and now at least twice that – will not be completed until 2011 at the earliest, and experts agree that even that level of protection will be less than the city needs.”

“There Will Be an Attack on Iran!”

Time wrote on August 18:

“Reports that the Bush Administration will put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list can be read in one of two ways: it’s either more bluster or, ominously, a wind-up for a strike on Iran. Officials I talk to in Washington vote for a hit on the IRGC, maybe within the next six months. And they think that as long as we have bombers and missiles in the air, we will hit Iran’s nuclear facilities…

“As with Saddam and his imagined WMD, the Administration’s case against the IRGC is circumstantial. The U.S. military suspects but cannot prove that the IRGC is the main supplier of sophisticated improvised explosive devices to insurgents killing our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most sophisticated version, explosive formed projectiles or shape charges, are capable of penetrating the armor of an Abrams tank, disabling the tank and killing the crew…

“A second part of the Administration’s case against the IRGC is that the IRGC has had a long, established history of killing Americans, starting with the attack on the Marines in Beirut in 1983. And that’s not to mention it was the IRGC that backed Hizballah in its thirty-four day war against Israel last year. The feeling in the Administration is that we should have taken care of the IRGC a long, long time ago…

“And what do we do if… a strike on Iran unifies Iranians behind the regime? An Administration official told me it’s not even a consideration. ‘… There will be an attack on Iran.'”

Russia Continues to Threaten the West

The Los Angeles Times wrote on August 18:

“Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on Friday announced reinstatement of the Soviet-era practice of having nuclear bombers routinely make long-distance flights that bring them within striking distance of the United States and its allies.

“‘Today just after midnight, 14 strategic missile aircraft, with support and fuel planes, took off from seven airfields across Russia,’ Putin said in televised remarks. ‘Combat duty began in which a total of 20 planes are taking part. From today, combat duty of this kind will be carried out on a regular basis.’… Putin’s announcement came at the end of a joint military exercise conducted by about 6,000 troops from Russia, China and four Central Asian states. Analysts said the exercise was meant to send a signal to the West that it should not try to interfere in the affairs of the participating countries.

“The resumption of regular strategic bomber flights… reflected Russia’s growing economic strength, with high oil prices boosting the country’s ability to spend money on its military. Routine bomber flights were discontinued in 1992… Russian strategic bombers can carry nuclear cruise missiles with ranges of at least 1,800 miles.”

The Daily Mail added on August 18, under its headline, “Return to the Cold War”:

“Vladimir Putin has sent a series of potent political signals to Gordon Brown and other Western leaders that he is determined to restore Russia’s global clout. The Kremlin leader ordered his troops to stage a massive show of force through unprecedented joint operations with the Chinese military. He also revived the Soviet-era practice of sending bomber aircraft on long-range flights far beyond his country’s own territory. And finally Mr Putin ordered that the BBC World Service be blocked from FM radio in Russia. All three steps are chilling echoes of the Cold War and come as relations between the Kremlin and the West are at their lowest since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“The symbolic decision to remove the BBC World Service from FM radio… came as a shock… The BBC will still be available in Russia on other wavelengths, but most listeners prefer to tune in to the higher-quality FM transmission… Critics accuse the Putin government of stifling the media as part of a broader effort to increase the Kremlin’s control over Russian politics. The authorities last year dramatically curtailed the number of stations broadcasting Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America news programmes.”

AFP continued to report on August 21:

“President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday pushed Russia’s military aviation industry as a global leader, just days after announcing the resumption of Cold War-era strategic bomber flights. ‘Russia has the task of retaining its leadership in fighting, military technology,” Putin said at the opening of the Maks 2007 airshow… [Russia has] already signed contracts worth 2.5 billion dollars this year for military aircraft and… it [is] supplying the air forces of China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Venezuela.

“Russian arms exports have surged since the industrial slump that followed the Soviet collapse in 1991. Russia’s moves to regain Soviet-era markets in Asia, the Middle East and South America have raised hackles in Washington. But William Hobbins, commander of US air forces in Europe, who also attended the airshow on Tuesday, praised Russia’s military aircraft production and said air force cooperation between the two countries was strong.”

The Horrors of this World… Female Circumcision

Reuters reported on August 20:

“It was a routine procedure undertaken by thousands of Egyptian girls every year, but something went wrong and Budour Ahmed Shaker died while having her genitals cut in a rite known locally as ‘purification’. The death of the 11-year-old schoolgirl at a private clinic in the Egyptian village Mughagha in June prompted the government to outlaw the custom of female genital mutilation, which is so widespread in Egypt that 95 percent of the country’s women are estimated to have undergone the procedure. But the ban may be hard to enforce and activists fear the practice may go underground as the vast majority of Egyptian families still view circumcision as necessary to protect girls’ chastity. Most girls are cut by the time they reach puberty.

“Even in Mughagha, a village of low rise houses hemming the Nile, many women and girls say they want the procedure to be allowed but under more stringent medical supervision… The only girl who spoke against the practice was shouted down by her classmates until she conceded that genital cutting was a necessity. ‘No one can get married without it,’ said the girl…

“In Egypt, the cutting is done on both Muslim and Christian girls… Outside of Egypt and Sudan to the south, the practice is extremely rare elsewhere in most of the Arab world but is common in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.”

WHO Warns the World

AFP wrote on August 23:

“The World Health Organisation on Thursday warned that a new deadly infectious disease like AIDS or Ebola is bound to appear in the 21st century… Since the 1970s, new diseases have been identified at the ‘unprecedented’ rate of one or more per year… Other centuries-old threats such as influenza, malaria and tuberculosis, were also thriving due to a combination of biological mutations, rising resistance to antibiotics and weak health systems…

“The report stressed that health threats were no longer easily confined within a country but could spread around the world swiftly, partly due to the expansion in passenger air travel over the past half century and to trade. It also underlined the threat from food-borne diseases, chemical, biological or nuclear accidents or attacks and industrial pollution…”

Jesus Christ clearly predicted that in these end times, there will be worldwide “pestilences” or disease epidemics (cp. Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11; see also Revelation 6:7-8).

Seif al-Islam Qaddafi Warns Europe

Sofia News Agency wrote on August 22:

“Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, the Libyan leader’s son, has warned European countries with military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan of the inevitable risk of more Islamic extremists terror attacks. ‘The only solution to contain radicalism is the rapid departure of Western troops from Iraq as well as Afghanistan, and a solution to the Palestinian question,’ Seif al-Islam said, as quoted by the Austria Press Agency.

“Talking in Austria, where he is paying a visit at the invitation of Joerg Haider, former leader of the rightist Freedom Party, he said that even offers of economic or humanitarian assistance could subject Western nations to strikes by extremists. According to him radical Islam is invading Europe by recruiting young Muslims who are open to the message of militancy.”

Austria Warns the USA

The Associated Press reported on August 23:

“Austria’s defense minister said a planned U.S. missile shield defense system in eastern Europe was a ‘provocation,’ and called on Washington to abandon the project… Norbert Darabos told Die Presse that U.S. officials should instead seek a compromise with those who oppose the system, including Russia and some in Europe… He reportedly accused Washington of ‘unnecessarily reviving old Cold War debates.’

“The United States argues that the system, which would include 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar based in the Czech Republic, would help guard against a potential threat from Iran. Russia has voiced outrage at the plans and warned it could spark a new arms race. Opposition also remains high in the two former Soviet satellites, both of which are now members of NATO and the European Union.”

EU vs. USA

The EUObserver reported on August 22:

“The European Union has strongly criticised death penalties carried out in Texas, calling on its authorities to halt the 400th execution in the US state. But Texas officials indicated that Europeans should mind their own business.”

The article continued:

“‘We believe that elimination of the death penalty is fundamental to the protection of human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights. We further consider this punishment to be cruel and inhumane,’ Lisbon stated on behalf of the EU…

“Commenting on the EU’s appeal to call off [Ray Conner’s] death sentence [for killing a grocery store clerk in 1998], Governor Perry replied that it would be a ‘just and appropriate’ punishment for the murderer… ‘Two hundred and thirty years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination,’ he pointed out, adding ‘While we respect our friends in Europe, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.’

“Texas has carried out about a third of around 1,100 executions that have taken place in the US since the country’s Supreme Court lifted a ban on death penalty in 1976… For its part, the EU has abolished capital punishment throughout its 27 member states. The same principle is also applied across the wider Council of Europe organisation which links together 47 countries across the European continent.

“In February, the EU’s legislature adopted a resolution calling for a global moratorium on the death penalty, with several member states – particularly Italy – lobbying for the same initiative through the United Nations General Assembly. The death penalty is currently legal in 68 countries, although 30 of them have not used it for at least ten years.”

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Would you please explain Matthew 18:20. Is it correct, as some teach, that this verse permits members to cut themselves off from the Church of God; to stay at home; and to neglect or dispense with fellowshipping with the membership of the Church?

In Matthew 18:20, Christ said: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” It is important to note the context. Christ’s comments in verse 20 follow the description of the proper procedure for conflict resolution between brethren. At least two of our Updates address this issue, including the fact that Christ gave the final authority to the ministry, to disfellowship or excommunicate an unrepentant brother or sister –and not to the entire membership. Verse 20 must be read in this context–it does not address at all the question of Church attendance.

The Nelson Study Bible explains:

“The passage [in Matthew 18:19, 20] specifically refers to church DISCIPLINE. It is a promise for guidance for the two or three who confront, and a promise for the church to claim wisdom, and restoration for the erring brother.”

We explained the following in a Q&A on conflict resolution:

“We 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.’

“That 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:

“‘Assuredly, 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.’

“God, 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.”

We also wrote, in Update #147:

“The Bible does not teach that God’s Church be ruled by democracy. Rather, God’s government is that of a hierarchy — with God the Father above all. God’s Church is administered by His ministers, with love and mercy, but with the authority to rebuke and correct, if need be. Local ‘Church’ groups which have disassociated themselves from the ministry to ‘rule’ themselves and to independently administer their own affairs are in clear violation of God’s command that His Church be administered through His ministry. This is also true for those ‘Church’ groups that are being ‘administered’ by self-proclaimed or ‘elected’ ministers, not approved by God (compare 2 Timothy 4:3-5; 3 John 9-10).”

Although some commentaries and those who reject the concept of “organized religion” and who believe in “individual Christianity” claim that Matthew 18:20 declares fellowshipping with the Church of God and attending Church services as being obsolete, this is clearly not the Biblical teaching. Christ gave ministers to the Church to enable the membership to grow into the fullness of Christ (cp. Ephesians 4:11-16). Paul warns those who forsake assembling together, that they are risking to lose their very salvation (cp. Hebrews 10:24-31). Those who might be scattered still need to be a part of the true Church of God. Since Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body, and since His Body is organized (cp. 1 Corinthians 12:18, 24-25, 27-28), those who have cut themselves off from that Body will wither away (cp. John 15:1-6). Scattered brethren, for whom it is impossible to physically attend Church services, must still be a part of organized services, for instance, by listening to live Internet services–or, if this is not possible–by listening to sermons which are posted on the Internet, or which can be received on audio cassettes. They also must make every effort to study the written Church material provided to them, to strengthen them in the truth–avoiding dissident material from false “brethren” or self-proclaimed “ministers,” who are disseminating unbiblical concepts.

The Broadman Bible Commentary wrote this regarding Matthew 18:20:

“This paragraph provides the model for church DISCIPLINE, including motive, spirit, and basic procedure… this is to be understood as assurance of divine presence and help as Christ’s people undertake the difficult work of the care of one another, even to the extent of corrective and redemptive discipline for the erring… A rabbinical teaching… spoke of the Shekinah, the presence of God, as being with those occupied with the words of the Torah (Law)…”

The Forerunner Commentary explains the passage of Matthew 18:20 in a straight-forward way:

“Many stay-at-home members use this verse to justify not fellowshipping with a larger organization. On the surface, it seems to support their argument. However, we must look at it in context… The context of the entire chapter is interpersonal relations and offenses… If the offender will not listen…, the offense should be taken to… the church… The very context assumes the existence of a larger group… In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul shows how this works in practical application when a church member was unabashedly committing sexual sins. Notice that Paul had ministerial, hierarchical authority over the Gentile church in Corinth… Did he allow every group of two or three in the congregation to make a judgment? How would God have bound the conflicting judgments that surely would have arisen between the people of varying levels of understanding and maturity in Corinth? The church would have been divided… had Paul not exercised his authority… This misapplication and twisting of this one scripture automatically repudiates any authority God placed in an ordained ministry.”

One of our Q&A’s, explaining Acts 14:23, discusses the role of the ministry and includes many Biblical examples to prove that God has ordained the ministry for His Church–requiring both the existence of the Church of God–the Body of Christ–AND of the ministry. In addition, Q&A #213 addresses the question whether “independents” will be saved.

To use Matthew 18:20 as justification for staying at home, rather than attending Church services, if possible, and for cutting himself or herself off from the Church of God, is NOT in accordance with Biblical teaching. Sooner or later, scattered brethren and those whom God may call, if they are yielding to God’s lead, will be guided to spiritually connect with the Church of God.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program (#134) has been recorded and will be posted shortly. It is titled, “America–Wake Up!” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the fact that most cannot imagine that America could be defeated by a foreign enemy. But God says otherwise. And we had better listen to God’s warnings and make amends.

In the USA, we sent a special letter to, by now, 155 people who requested our booklet, “The Mysteries of the Bible,” which is being advertised on the Internet.

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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