Update 507


“Time” and “The Just Shall Live by Faith”

On September 3, 2011, Michel Bannen and Eric Rank will give split sermons, titled, respectively, “Time” and “The Just Shall Live by Faith.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Lost and Found

by Norbert Link

Most are familiar with Christ’s parable of the prodigal or lost son. It is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. The main point is very clear: The younger son repents of his wasteful lifestyle and returns to his father’s house, and his father receives him back with joy and celebration, while his older son is angry and refuses to greet his brother.

The father’s final words bring home the main lesson of this parable: “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found” (verse 32).

But there is much more to this parable.

It begins with the younger son asking his father to give him his portion of the father’s goods which he would inherit upon his father’s death. The early Jews warned fathers against breaking up an estate too early, but here, the father grants his son’s request, giving him prematurely what he asked for. The son leaves and wastes all that he has received with prodigal living (verse 13). In doing so, he sins against God and men (verse 18), by devouring his father’s livelihood with harlots (verse 30).

Once the money is gone, so are his “friends” and “acquaintances.” All he can do now is to feed swine—an insulting and disgraceful job for a Jew—and he has sunk so low that he would be willing to eat swine’s food, but even that nobody is willing to give him. Perishing with hunger, he “comes to himself” (verse 17), realizing that he has been living in an illusionary dream world, which seemingly started out very promisingly, but ended up in a nightmare.

Recognizing his sins and anticipating that his father would reject him as his son, he is still willing to go back to his father’s house to become one of his servants.

The reaction of his father must have been surprising to him. Seeing him from afar off, the father shows compassion, runs towards him, embraces and kisses him and adorns him with sandals, a robe and a ring, showing his willingness to accept him as his son, who was dead, but has been found. He begins to celebrate—as God the Father and Jesus Christ and the holy angels rejoice when a sinner repents.

When the older son learns about the celebration for his brother, he is angry, as Jonah was angry when God accepted the repentance of the people of Nineveh and relented from doing them any harm that He had intended to bring upon them. The older son is even unwilling to recognize the younger son as his brother (compare verse 30). With self-righteous indignation, he claims that he has never transgressed or sinned against his father’s commandments (verse 29), but that his father never celebrated with him. He acts with envy, saying that his father’s conduct is unjust towards him. He behaves like the Pharisee who proudly compares himself with the sinner in the temple, saying that he is better than the sinner. Job had the same attitude of being proud about his self-righteousness, and he became angry when he had to suffer and did not receive at once the reward to which he thought he was entitled.

However, the father makes clear that a just reward will be given for just behavior. The younger son would not inherit anything, having wasted his share. He would not have any part in the remaining livelihood of his father which is reserved exclusively for the older son. The fact that the younger brother is given favors does not mean that there are no favors in store for the older son. Since all that the father has is the older son’s, he can always kill a fatted calf, whenever he pleases.  On the other hand, the wasteful life style of the younger son will have negative and lasting physical consequences for him for the rest of his life.

Still, the younger son has returned, and that was reason enough for celebration, and the older brother should have rejoiced too and joined in. We don’t know from the parable whether he finally did. It is hoped that he forsook his anger and overcame his self-righteousness, envy and pride, following his younger brother’s example who had repented of his sins, swallowed his pride and returned humbly to his father’s house.

We all can and should learn from this parable. If we have sinned against God and men (and there is no human being who does not sin)—we need to confess those sins to God and repent of them, and reconcile with our fellow man, while leaving the past behind. Some are too proud to do that; others are too timid and fearful. But without “coming to ourselves” and acting like the younger son did, we will not return to our father’s house.

Likewise, if someone has sinned against us and shows his regret, we must embrace him and receive him back. We must bury any grudges, forget the past, accept the repentant brother and reconcile with him. If we refuse to do this, we will stay outside like the older brother did, and we won’t go into our father’s house to join the celebration.

You might say, “I would never act like the younger son, leaving my father’s house and wasting my father’s possession.” Or, “I would never act like the older son, refusing to take back my brother.” But in saying this, you might very well be wrong and deceive yourself. Paul does not say without reason: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) and, “Do not be haughty, but fear” (Romans 11:20).

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We begin reporting about the devastation caused by the hurricane or tropical storm Irene. Even though the damage could have been much worse for the USA, it is still bad enough, including for America’s fragile economy. We also speak about the recent earthquake in Virginia and the discovery of a new fault line on Mount Hood.

We continue pointing out the ever-existing and growing threat of radical Iran towards Israel and Christianity, and speak of prominent Europeans advocating the invasion or “liberation” of Jerusalem through Muslim countries. We report about French perceptions that Europe is being attacked by the USA, and explain at the same time that hyped-up fears that the Eurozone will collapse and the euro will fail, are just unrealistic propagandistic and unbiblical attempts to support whatever position is being postulated.

We conclude with speaking of European desires to play a greater role in the Middle East and North Africa, and with the current nightmare scenarios for Libya.

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US Devastation of Tropical Storm Irene

BBC News reported on August 29:

“The US east coast has begun clearing up after the devastation of tropical storm Irene, which killed at least 21 people… The small state of Vermont was reeling from the worst flooding in nearly a century, which washed away bridges [including the famous bridge featured in the movie, “Baby Boom,” with Diane Keaton] and swamped the town of Brattleboro…

“The brunt of Irene’s impact was felt by towns and suburbs from New Jersey to Vermont. Driving rains and flood tides damaged homes and cut power to more than three million people in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York alone…”

New York Economy Takes Huge Hit from Hurricane

Mail On Line wrote on Sunday, August 28, 2011:

“New York is deserted today on what should be one of its busiest weekends for tourism of the year, as businesses count the cost of a four-day city shutdown after Hurricane Irene forced people indoors. But it might have been worse for New York City, as a direct hit by the damage-wreaking hurricane could have cost it up to $35billion in damage and increased the chance of a double-dip recession…

“Governor Chris Christie said he expects damages from Hurricane Irene to run into billions of dollars along New Jersey’s Atlantic coast and from inland river flooding… Insurers are expecting to suffer huge losses due to the hurricane, airlines are reeling as thousands of flights have been cancelled and shops cannot open so they [are] losing sales… Big problems include lost hours at work, power outages and a shutdown in sea and air traffic… ‘This is a worst-case scenario,’ said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group. ‘This was supposed to be a prime weekend for apparel retailers.’”

Even though it would have been much worse if the hurricane had hit New York directly and/or with greater strength, the inflicted damage is nevertheless quite enormous.

“Virginia Quake’s Motion May Have Exceeded Nuclear Plant’s Design”

The Los Angeles Times reported on August 29:

“More federal inspectors are en route to Virginia’s North Anna nuclear power station after early data indicated the plant may have experienced more shaking than it was designed to withstand during last week’s 5.8 earthquake… The plant remains offline. It cannot be restarted until its operator can show…  that it remains safe…

“So far… they have found no indication of significant damage, but there are signs of the quake: thermal insulation that shook off pipes within the nuclear containment units, cracks in ceramic insulators on the plant’s transformers and fallen ceiling tiles at a commercial office building just outside the fence that surrounds the power station.”

New Massive Fault Line Found on Mt. Hood

The Associated Press reported on August 30:

“Geologists think Mount Hood is sitting on [shaky] ground… scientists have discovered a previously undetected – and active fault zone on the mountain. Scientists said the faults could also prove dangerous.

“The fault zone stretches about 20 miles from the northern flank of Mt. Hood to the Columbia River. Hidden by trees and dense vegetation, it had gone unnoticed… Teams began preparing to dig a big trench in the next few weeks across the faults to try and determine when the last earthquake [occurred].”

Iran Launches Bible-Burning Campaign

Newsmax reported on August 26:

“Iranian authorities [in northwestern Iran] began to systematically seize and destroy [6,500] Bibles… according to the Iranian Christian news organization Mohabat News… The agency has reported several other recent incidents of Bibles and other Christian literature being seized and sometimes publicly burned.

“Mohabat reports that the government-connected cleric, Ayatollah Hadi Jahangosha, warned of ‘the spread of Christianity among our youth,’ pointing to burgeoning satellite programming, literature, and religious articles promoting the Western tradition. ‘Everyone in society should feel responsibility in this matter and play his or her role in [the] spreading of pure Islam and fight false and distorted cultures,’ the news agency quotes him as saying.”

Throughout the centuries, man, being cut off from the true God and following the lead of Satan the devil, has tried to destroy the Bible, but he could never succeed in eradicating God’s inspired Word, because God promises us that His Word will abide forever. All other religious books and “holy” writings, which are contrary to the inspired teachings of the Bible, will cease to exist in due course, but the words of the Bible will be accessible and remain for all eternity. In addition, Muslim countries such as Iran expect to gain converts in Western nations but any reciprocal approach by Christians in many of those Muslim nations is totally denied.  The same can be said, of course, for the nation of Israel as well, where proselytizing is prohibited.

Iran Determined to Eradicate Israel

Haaretz reported on August 25:

“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was determined to eradicate Israel… ‘Iran believes that whoever is for humanity should also be for eradicating the Zionist regime (Israel) as symbol of suppression and discrimination,’ Ahmadinejad said in an interview with a Lebanese television network…

“‘Iran follows this issue (the eradication of Israel) with determination and decisiveness and will never ever withdraw from this standpoint and policy,’ the Iranian president added in the interview… The Iranian president provoked international condemnation in 2005 when he said that Israel should be eliminated from the map of the Middle East and transferred to Europe or North America.”

Tony Blair’s Sister-in-Law Incites Muslims to “Liberate” Jerusalem

Israel National News reported on August 29:

“Laura Booth, sister-in-law of Quartet envoy Tony Blair, has called on ‘Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt [to] liberate Al-Quds [Jerusalem].’ The former British prime minister’s family member has previously sailed illegally to Gaza on a flotilla boat. She joined an anti-Israel rally in London Trafalgar’s Square… Booth went on another rant against Israel. ‘We say here today to you, Israel, we see your crimes and we loathe your crimes. And to us your nation does not exist, because it is a criminal injustice against humanity. We want to see Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt go to the borders and stop this now. Liberate Al Quds! March to Al Quds!’

“Another speaker claimed, somewhat myopically as far as historical accuracy goes, that ‘the only time that land has seen peace between Muslim, Christian and Jew living side by side was when sincere Islamic rulers ruled with justice.’ During Ottoman Islamic rule, Jews were second-class citizens, called ‘Dhimmis’. The myth of their ‘peaceful lives’ has been debunked by historians, although they were not subject to pogroms as frequently as European Jews..

“In fact, Jordan, during its occupation of the Old City and other parts of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria between 1949 and 1967, denied Christians and Jews all access to holy sites except for visiting dignitaries. Israel opened up the sites to all religions after it restored the areas under its sovereignty in the Six-Day War in 1967.”

Anti-Jewish sentiments are on the rise…

Europe under U.S. Attack!

The Local wrote on August 29:

“Laurence Parisot, the head of the influential bosses’ organization, Medef, has hit out at what she sees as deliberate attempts by the US to shift their own economic woes to Europe. In an interview published in Monday’s Le Figaro newspaper, Parisot said the problems started when China decided to ‘teach the US a lesson’ about the level of its debt over the summer. ‘The Americans then wanted to pass the buck to Europe,’ she said. ‘We saw a kind of psychological war and an attempt to destabilize the euro zone.’

“Parisot cites as an example the ‘unfounded’ rumours about French banks which were spread by the American media. ‘The front pages of the American media announced the death of such and such a bank and even the end of the eurozone,’ she said. ‘We went from attacks on Spain to attacks on Italy, then on France and as far as rumours that Germany would be downgraded last week!’…

“’When American publications, which are read by investors and analysts, lead with these false and dramatic announcements, there are questions to be asked,’ she said. She said that ultimately Europe was under attack ‘not because it is weak but because it is strong.’”

We have persistently made public the biblical prophecies about a future European military attack on the USA. The Bible does not reveal to us exactly the human reasoning as to why this attack will take place—but it emphasizes that God will inspire a future leader of Europe to launch such an attack, because God wants to punish the USA for its many sins. However, Europe will not attack the USA because it understands God’s plan, but it will strictly act with selfish and “self-preserving” motives. The article, quoted above, might give us a hint as to what rationale Europeans might partially embrace to justify their future “retaliatory” military action.

Europe in Danger of Collapse?

The EUObserver wrote on August 29:

“Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski has said the EU could ‘collapse’ if leading countries such as Germany mishandle the financial crisis… the minister said: ‘European elites, including German elites, must decide if they want the euro to survive – even at a high price – or not. If not, we should prepare for a controlled dismantling of the currency zone.’

“He added: ‘We have a simple choice: Solidarity or the collapse of Europe.’ Rostowski criticised the German ‘elite’ after German President Christian Wulff last week said the European Central Bank (ECB) should not buy struggling Italian and Spanish bonds… The Polish minister said the long-term solution to the crisis is deeper integration. ‘The fundamental problem of the eurozone is not an economic but a political one,’ he explained. ‘The choice is: much deeper macroeconomic integration in the eurozone or its collapse. There is no third way.’ He attacked Finland for its ‘egoism’ in seeking collateral for a new loan to crisis-struck Greece…

“Rostowski said Poland will not join the euro until it is sure the currency is ‘earthquake proof’. But he added that wealthy northern countries as well as non-eurozone EU members will suffer if the euro falls. ‘It’s hard to imagine anything that would hit the Dutch, German or Finnish economy harder than the collapse of the banking system in any eurozone country,’ he said. ‘The collapse of the eurozone would [also] be catastrophic for Poland.’”

Even though Poland’s recent governmental officials have been known as being controversial and overly dramatic—and at times quite inconsistent—the above-quoted warning should be taken seriously. Europe is indeed called upon to save the euro—and it will do just that. Biblical prophecy simply does not allow for the euro to fall in these last days. We can also expect a “much deeper integration”—or let’s just say bluntly, an autocratic governmental system, under German leadership. In this context, it is interesting to note that the EUObserver reported on August 26 that Finland has abandoned its Greek collateral deal “under German pressure.”

We must also be very careful not to jump with approval on articles in euro-skeptical British papers such as The Telegraph, which are welcoming every opportunity to predict the fall of the euro. In its recent article, dated August 29, The Telegraph pronounces that “Euro bail-out [is] in doubt as ‘hysteria’ sweeps Germany.” It continues that “German Chancellor Angela Merkel no longer has enough coalition votes in the Bundestag to secure backing for Europe’s revamped rescue machinery, threatening a constitutional crisis in Germany and a fresh eruption of the euro debt saga.” It even concludes that Merkel “is facing ‘war on every front’. The next month will decide her future, Germany’s destiny, and the fate of [the] monetary union.”

These are overly dramatic statements, filled with unproven assumptions and exaggerations, and none of this constitutes fair, accurate and factual reporting. Merkel faced opposition before, but in the end, she got her way. In fact, as Reuters reported on August 31, “German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved [the] new powers for the euro zone’s bailout fund on Wednesday.”

But if The Telegraph’s predictions were correct, then the month of September would decide the survival of the monetary union and the establishment of Germany’s destiny as the leading nation in continental Europe.

In addition, the Daily Mail reported on August 30 that “A top German business leader [Hans-Olaf Henkel, the well-respected former head of the country’s main business federation] today called for his country to quit the euro and join richer northern neighbours in a currency block instead… He called on Germany, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands to quit the euro – ditching struggling economies such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy – and set up a new currency of their own.”

The paper continued that “Such a move – perhaps the closest thing possible to the return of the Deutsche Mark – would be highly controversial as Germany is the area’s powerhouse economy and has so far insisted it will stand behind the euro…”

Henkel’s fanciful ideas will not materialize. Biblical prophecy indicates that countries such as Germany, as well as Catholic countries such as Italy, and most likely Spain and Portugal, will be a part of the final configuration of the unification of ten core European countries or groups of countries, while Protestant countries such as Finland, and perhaps even The Netherlands, might not be in that final constellation. Therefore, a united power bloc of Germany and Protestant Finland, even in the context of a common currency, with the exclusion of Italy and other European Catholic countries, is not to be expected at all.

Europe Will Play Greater Role in Middle East

The EUObserver reported on September 1:

“The EU will in future play a bigger role vis-a-vis the US in providing hard security in north Africa and the Middle East, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said. Speaking to French ambassadors gathered in Paris on Wednesday (31 August), the French leader said the war in Libya is a ‘lesson’ for EU foreign policy: ‘Europeans have shown for the first time that they are capable of intervention in a decisive way, with their allies, in an open conflict on their doorstep.’

“He added that the Libya model – in which France and the UK took the lead with American support – marks a new division of labour between the EU and US: ‘The world is changing. [US] President Obama has presented a new vision of American military engagement which involves the Europeans assuming their responsibilities.’ Sarkozy noted the union should also play a bigger role in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“‘The role of the US [in the Middle East peace process] is incontrovertible and irreplacable, but everyone can see it is not sufficient. It is necessary to enlarge the circle of negotiators … We must keep in mind that the European Union is the top economic partner of Israel and the top aid donor to the Palestinians’…

“In a reflection of Sarkozy’s new-model EU-US relations, the meeting will be dominated by France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, which are sending their leaders. The US will be represented by secretary of state Hilary Clinton, while China and Russia are sending third- and fourth-tier diplomats…

“For its part, the People’s Daily, a Chinese government newspaper in a prickly op-ed published the same day said: ‘The West has never given up its scheme of dominating the development directions of west Asia and north Africa. The dominance is connected with economic interests, naturally. Though the smoke of gunpowder has not fully dispersed in Libya, Western oil companies’ fights for the oil have already started.’

“US nemesis Iran has also started talks with the TNC [Libya’s National Transitional Council] on future relations.  ‘If … arrogant powers and international Zionism, including the tyrannical US regime, succeed to ride the waves [of the Arab Spring] and take the lead, the Muslim world will be faced with big problems for tens of years,’ Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei said in a rare public statement ahead of the Paris summit.”

The Bible predicts that in the not-too-distant future, Europe will invade militarily in the Middle East, but it won’t do so in collaboration with the USA.

Nightmare Scenarios for Libya

Deutsche Welle reported on August 29:

“Libya faces a number of nightmare scenarios, from a new civil war between rival factions to the rise of al Qaeda-affiliated Islamists, should a power vacuum plunge the country into a new phase of lawlessness and chaos. There is a new smell of fear circulating under the sweet scent of victory; a fear that the National Transitional Council (NTC) is incapable of uniting and controlling the diverse elements within the rebellion and that the tribal rivals which are beginning to bicker over the spoils of war may soon start fighting each other over them.

“With the possibility of Libya becoming a nation governed by a NATO-backed, weak and undemocratic central administration led by a compliant president and besieged by Islamist militants, some commentators have likened the unfolding situation as one akin to Afghanistan…

“Just as in Iraq, Libya faces the prospect of elements that supported the ousted Gadhafi regime attempting to fight their newfound marginalization and preserve their power bases… Just like in Afghanistan, a Western-backed NTC government may have to face up to battling an Islamist insurgency fuelled by extremist groups, some of whom have close ties to al Qaeda…

“There have been rumors of an al Qaeda presence ever since the war began but the rebels have been quick to reject claims that they have any links from the outset. However, the leaders of the US, Britain and France have since admitted that they were aware of an Islamist element within the rebel forces before pledging their support…

“As the rebels have advanced through Tripoli, a better picture of which groups actually make up the alliance has materialized. While no hardcore al-Qaeda affiliates have been identified, a number of Islamist groups have set alarm bells ringing in NATO…

“The immediate chaos and lawlessness which follows in the wake of a deposed regime has also given rise to another element which could lead to widespread instability and violence in Libya: the country is now awash with guns… As seen in countries such as Somalia and Yemen, the continued chaos arising from a state of conflict can exacerbate the circulation of military hardware among a fractious tribal society. As a result, Libya’s stability has surely been undermined by the looting of Gadhafi’s stockpiles.

“A recent report in the Los Angeles Times described how only a few of the 523 arms bunkers discovered to date in Libya are being protected by NTC guards. These, according to the report, contain everything from small arms to shoulder-launched Soviet Sam-7 anti-aircraft missiles. There were even alleged to be supplies of napalm in some. Meanwhile, the Guardian reported last week that Gadhafi’s supplies of mustard gas, which were being monitored by NATO, have now disappeared…

“After arming the rebels against Gadhafi, there is a chance – should the situation deteriorate – that NATO may find itself dodging its own bullets.”

In the context of Iraq, USA Today reported on August 30: “Continuing his book tour, former vice president Dick Cheney defended the Iraq War today, saying, ‘I don’t think that it damaged our reputation around the world.’”

This is incredible. Some seem to never learn, or blind their eyes so that they cannot and will not see.

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Jesus instructed His disciples to make their requests to the Father in His name. What does that actually mean, and how should this be done?

Specifically, in the book of John, Jesus instructed His disciples about prayer. In the hours before His death, He revealed that they would now have access to the Father—but that He, Jesus, was the means by which that would be possible.

Here are the relevant verses:

“‘And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it’” (John 14:13-14).

“‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you’” (John 15:16).

“‘And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full’” (John 16:23-24).

“‘In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God’” (John 16:26-27).

To understand more fully what this means for those who follow and obey Christ’s instructions, we will need to consider other applicable and compatible Scriptures.

First of all, praying in the name of Jesus Christ is not an incantation; that is, a formula that evokes an answer to anything we say as long as we incorporate doing so “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus warned:

“‘And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him’” (Matthew 6:7-8; compare 1 Kings 18:26).

In another example, some misused the name of Jesus, and the consequences were devastating:

“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, over-powered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:13-16).

These self-appointed exorcists were guilty of misappropriating the godly name, Jesus—they broke the commandment of God:

“‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain’” (Exodus 20:7).

Using the name of Jesus Christ must be done with the reverent awe that reflects His place in the Family of God:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Note that “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” There has arisen a demonically inspired teaching—one that threatens to “overthrow the faith of some.” Essentially, the idea behind this heresy is that one should only say the name of Jesus Christ in the Hebrew language. In answer to this fallacious concept, consider what happened on the Day of Pentecost—the time when the Church of God began amidst powerful and miraculous circumstances:

“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 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 Pamphylia, 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.’ So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’” (Acts 2:5-12).

The very first thing that occurred to the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ upon receiving the Holy Spirit was to speak under God’s inspiration—carefully note what they did:

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). They spoke at that time about Jesus Christ (Acts 2:30-36), but they did not speak only in the Hebrew language, but also in other tongues or languages.

This coincides with the work of the Church—that of being sent to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all of the world and to all nations (compare Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15-18; Acts 26:17-18).

Quite plainly and unmistakably, the name of Jesus Christ would be spoken—along with the rest of the message of the gospel—in one’s own language.

The warning for us is to “…be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth” (Titus 1:13-14).

What, then, should we ask for when we pray “in Jesus’ Name”? Here is the foundational approach for us in prayer:

“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

When we pray, using the name of Jesus Christ, we must have persevering faith:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

In one of His parables, Jesus told of a proud Pharisee and of a humble and contrite tax collector who came before God in prayer (compare Luke 18:9-14). The key for us is that we must not exalt ourselves—rather, we are to seek God out of a submissive heart, willing to yield to God and obey His Will.

This is what Jesus did. In the record of Jesus praying to the Father in deeply fervent agony over the death He was about to face, He, nonetheless, humbled Himself, saying:

“‘…Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will’” (Mark 14:36).

This dramatic example brings home the lesson that we are to pray and make our requests within the framework of God’s Will. However, we must not draw back from God and use this as an excuse for lacking faith! Jesus made this a point in His teaching:

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you’” (Matthew 17:20).

“So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” it will be done’” (Matthew 21:21).

Jesus did what He did in the name of the Father (compare John 10:25). He did none of the miracles by His own authority—something that He carefully taught:

“Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner… I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me’” (John 5:19, 30).

His obedience is our example!

Peter understood that he needed to rely on Jesus Christ, and the lesson that is brought clearly home is His role in the healing of a lame man: “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk’” (Acts 3:6).

Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

In both of the cited examples, Peter and Paul speak of relying on Jesus Christ in ways that are all encompassing. In baptisms, in healings, in preaching—the ministers of Jesus Christ did what they did through the express authority of Jesus Christ!

This holds true for all Christians, and it is an absolute imperative for each one of us to recognize the supreme authority that Christ holds over the Church of God. While many professing Christians acknowledge that Christ existed, only the few believe that He is seated at the right hand of God as our living High Priest (compare Acts 5:31; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22)—intervening on our behalf in order to complete what He has promised (compare Romans 8:34).

Furthermore, we must be close to God by following the example of Jesus Christ. That means we are to live as He lived—by living obediently to God. The way is open for us to have direct contact with God in prayer. However, it is only through Jesus Christ that this is possible:

“‘I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing’” (John 15:5).

When we speak to the Father in prayer, we do so by recognizing the authority of Jesus Christ—that is, in His Name. Christ also explains:

“‘…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

There are additional meaningful and important aspects associated with praying in the name of Jesus Christ. Note the following excerpts from the chapter “In the Name of Christ,” in our free booklet, “Teach Us to Pray”: 

“When we do something in the name of Christ, we recognize His great power through which He works… When we pray to the Father in Christ’s name…  we are praying through Christ—expecting Christ to back us up, support us, and do something in regard to what we say…

“Since we belong to Christ, Christ allows us to do and say things in His glorious and all-powerful name. That is, we can do things through the power of His Holy Spirit in us. When we pray, write, or say something in the name of Christ, we are actually asking Christ to do those things for us. We speak to the Father through Christ. It is as if Christ speaks to the Father on our behalf—as if Christ communicates our prayers to the Father, helping us express to the Father what we think, how we feel, and what we are going through. Sometimes, we may not know exactly what to say, but Christ, through His Spirit in us, helps our weaknesses.

“When we end a prayer by using the words ‘in Christ’s name,’ we had better make sure that we CAN say this—that Christ IS actually speaking though us, or interceding for us. The warning here is that just saying ‘in the name of Christ’ after a prayer can easily become a vain repetition. To prevent this from happening, we must be well aware of its meaning, and when we use this expression, we must realize the accompanying great responsibility, and liability, for us.

“Every time we use the words ‘in Christ’s name,’ we are to be very conscious of the fact that Jesus Christ is acting, at that very moment, as our Mediator, Intercessor and Advocate, interceding on our behalf as our merciful High Priest, and that He is pleading our cause, expressing to the Father our most intimate feelings and temptations, as well as our personal struggle with ourselves and our own human nature.

“Christ promised that He would do for us what we ask when we pray to the Father in His name. The Father will answer our prayer through Christ. But we must ask the Father in the proper way, and with the correct understanding of what it means to pray ‘in Christ’s name.’”

Rather than becoming perfunctory and carelessly muttering the name of Jesus Christ at the close of our prayers, we need to very deliberately and in a deeply meaningful way mention the name of Jesus Christ with true esteem and in a spirit of worship.

For a more in-depth study on prayer, please read our free booklet, “Teach Us To Pray,” which is available on our website.

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org) and on YouTube, titled, “Premature Euphoria of Libyan Rebels.” It would be a mistake to celebrate the apparent victory of the rebels in Libya. Western commentators compare the current situation with anarchy and chaos. They are fearful that Islamists will come to power in the deeply divided nation. The future of Libya looks uncertain and frightening. The Bible has much to say about Libya, but none of it is good news for Western democracies.

A new German sermon was posted on YouTube, titled, “Gibt es eine heimliche Entrueckung?, Teil 2” [“Is There a Secret Rapture?, Part 2”]

Please feel free to proceed with making reservations for the Feast of Tabernacles 2011 with the Hilton Garden Inn at 601 James Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. When you call under 1-805-773-6020, please make sure that you mention that you are attending the Feast convention of the Church of the Eternal God. Further information is available on our Web site (www.eternalgod.org), under “Feasts.”

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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