Update 535


“The Things Revealed” and “The Arrest, Trial and Death of Jesus”

On April 7, 2012, is the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with morning and afternoon services. In the morning, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “The Things Revealed”: In the afternoon, Brian Gale will give the sermon, titled, “The Arrest, Trial and Death of Jesus.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm Pacific Time, respectively (which is 11:00 am Mountain Time; 12:00 pm Central Time; 1:00 pm Eastern Time for the morning service; and 3:00 pm Mountain Time; 4:00 pm Central Time; 5:00 pm Eastern Time for the afternoon service). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

Please note that morning and afternoon services will also be conducted on the Last Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: Friday, April 13, 2012.

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In the Same Way


When Jesus came to Earth as a human, He was able to live a perfect and sinless life.  We are to follow our Example (1 Peter 2:21) and keep all the commandments of God (1 John 5:2-3) and move on towards a sinless perfection (Hebrews 6:1).  

Being fully human just as we are, how did Christ manage to live to such a high standard?  The simple and quick answer is that He utilized the Holy Spirit and kept His eye on the goal ahead.  Now the more pertinent question for us today: how are we to follow in the steps of Christ and lead the same exemplary life?  The simple and quick answer is in the same exact way that He did! 

We have the goal of the Kingdom of God set before us (Matthew 6:33) and to help us get there, we have at our disposal the same exact means Jesus had …that is the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:6, 11).  We have access to the very power of God with which all things are possible (Mark 10:27). 

Through the Passover Lamb, Christ, the Spirit of God was made more readily available (John 1:29, 36; 16:7).  Now it is incumbent upon us who are imbued with the selfsame Holy Spirit to make the most of it by calling upon God for the help that we need in order to live a more perfect life.  If we do ask God for this help, He will hear and answer us, enabling us to accomplish THE goal of eternal life in His Family.

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We open with a report on the dismal outlook for the U.S. being able to budget itself–ever! The ongoing struggles to unify the EU remain in the headlines; Immigrants in France become political fodder; The Muslim Brotherhood backtracks and will run a candidate for president of Egypt; Israel makes news as it is accused of threatening world peace–and revelations about its strategic relationship with Azerbaijan are published; Korea rattles its neighbors; and the papal visits to both Mexico and Cuba bear fruit–for Catholicism.

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A Balanced U.S. Budget–Maybe Never Again!

CNN.COM reported on March 29, 2012:

“The House has passed the Republican budget plan submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan, but some budget experts believe that [the] federal government is so far in the red that it may not balance the budget again in our lifetime.

“‘We may never, as a country, have a balanced budget again,’ said Marc Goldwein, policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. ‘And you know what? We don’t have to.’

“Goldwein is a bit of a budget wunderkind who was also a staffer for the Bowles-Simpson Commission, established by President Obama to address the nation’s fiscal problems, and for the congressional super committee. He and the nonpartisan think tank where he works used to push vehemently for a balanced budget.’

“But no longer. Now the bumper sticker hanging in his cubicle reads, “Stabilize the Debt”…

“The Ryan budget, despite its cuts and aggressive fiscal moves, does not balance the budget for at least 23 years, according to the House Budget Committee and the Congressional Budget Office.

“‘This just shows you how deep of a hole our country is in,’ Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Budget Committee, said when asked about the 2035 budget balance date.”

This stunning admission reflects on a society that is “throwing in the towel” on all of the difficult issues–such as abortion, drug abuse, illegal immigration and now, even the future stability of the nation’s economy.

A Difficult Union

From Reuter’s, April 2, 2012:

“As the euro zone debt crisis forces the currency area to integrate more closely to survive, those outside the bloc but in the European Union are worried that they will be left as junior partners without a say.

“The euro zone’s response to its public debt crisis has created layers of new agreements and mechanisms that affect the EU’s 10 non-euro countries, who are shut out when deals are done and only learn later of the decisions of the 17.

“Strategies to bring all EU countries together on overarching economic issues have had unintended consequences by creating divisions because not everyone can agree, threatening efforts to implement policies to revive the region’s depressed economies…

“Many EU officials concede that things are getting unwieldy, even for experts who struggle to decipher the structures intended to unify the EU’s 500 million citizens.

“‘We are building a fiscal union in a complicated way,’ Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said of the euro zone at a gathering of students in Copenhagen.”

The article concludes:

“But if an overarching integration strategy emerges, it must also go beyond monetary and economic affairs.

“‘The concurrent circles in the EU will always differ according to the subject,’ said Karel Lannoo of the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies. ‘Today economic policy is most important, but tomorrow it may be defense.'”

The European Union IS uniting in spite of its difficulties! Our free booklet, “Europe In Prophecy–The Unfolding of End-Time Events“, gives real understanding about what is forming on the European continent and how that emerging super-power will change the world as we know it!

French Election Targets Immigrants

The Globe and Mail published on March 30, 2012:

“’There is an obsession with immigrants in this election,’ said Ms. Ghali, one of only three Arab members of France’s senate, ‘but there’s no talk, even within my own party, of doing anything to help them. All we have is an increase in tension directed at Muslims.’
“That’s because the tightly-fought presidential election, with the first round set for April 22, was upended last week when one of France’s young Arabs, Mohammed Merah of Toulouse, murdered seven people, including three Jewish children, in a calculated series of terror acts. In the week since Mr. Merah was killed in a standoff with police, President Nicolas Sarkozy made speeches across the country calling for restrictions on legal immigration, laws to make it illegal to browse Islamist websites or visit training camps, and for tougher policing and more deportations. He famously said, on the day of Mr. Merah’s first killing, that there were ‘too many foreigners’ in France…

“But on the campaign trail, he is also adopting some of the language of Marine Le Pen, the head of the ultra-right-wing National Front, a party with a history of Holocaust denial and an absolute opposition to immigration. Ms. Le Pen seized on the Merah killings, asking in a speech this week, ‘How many Mohammed Merahs are arriving on boats and planes each day, filling France with immigrants? How many Mohammed Merahs are among the children of our immigrants?'”
The bottom line is that the most recent terrorist attack inside of France has fueled a resurgence for Mr. Sarkozy in his attempt for re-election–all at the cost of inflaming the extreme left and far right contingents seeking to govern the nation.

The Next President of Egypt?

CNN.COM reported the following on April 2, 2012:

“The political arm of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has announced plans to run one of its leaders in the country’s presidential elections in May, reversing an earlier pledge to stay out of the race.

“The once-banned Islamist movement will be represented by Khairat al-Shater, a longtime financial backer, the Brotherhood announced over the weekend. Al-Shater has resigned from his post as deputy chairman to join the already crowded field of presidential candidates, the group said.

“The jail terms he served under ex-Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak had been an obstacle that would have kept him off the ballot. But the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak, pardoned him Sunday, his lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsood, told CNN.

“The Muslim Brotherhood has pledged repeatedly that it would not field a presidential candidate. But candidates from its political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, won the largest share of seats in Egypt’s parliamentary elections in December. And Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said Saturday the new Egypt ‘is under a serious threat’ because its current, military-led government ‘has failed to represent the will of the people.'”

As we have learned in the United States, elections do have consequences, and so will, it appears, the Arab Spring.

Nuclear Israel–A Threat…

Haaretz.com reported on April 5, 2012:

“German Nobel literature laureate Guenter Grass published a poem Wednesday in which he said that Israel’s nuclear program is a threat to world peace.

“In his poem, the 85-year-old author claims that Israel’s nuclear reactor – and not Iran’s – presents a threat to world peace. Grass’ poem calls for Germany to cease supplying Israel with submarines, and warns against an Israeli strike on Iran.

“The poem, entitled ‘What must be said,’ will be published on Wednesday in the Deutsche Zeitung and La Republica. In the poem, Grass writes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a ‘big mouth,’ and that the intentions of the Iranian nuclear program are not proven.

“The poem drew sharp criticism in Germany, Israel and among Jewish organizations. The Israeli embassy in Germany said that the poem was in line with the ‘tradition of blood libel ahead of Passover.'”

Nationalpost.com adds on April 4, 2012:

“German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest Wednesday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation and threatening world peace…

“Mr. Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel The Tin Drum, shocked his admirers in 2006 when he admitted, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS — a revelation that severely undermined his until then substantial moral authority in Germany.
“The country’s most influential media commentators were unanimous in their criticism. The website of news weekly Der Spiegel wrote, ‘Never before in the history of the republic has a prominent intellectual waged a battle against Israel in such a cliche-ed way.’”

Israel Teams With Azerbaijan

The Algemeiner reported on April 5, 2012:

“Much has been made of Mark Perry’s recent piece in Foreign Policy Magazine, which claims that Israel has been given access to at least one Azerbaijan airfield for use during a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Azerbaijan borders Iran to the north, which would allow Israeli planes to refuel on the ground instead of in the air.
“Israeli-Azeri relations have developed rapidly s’nce Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. This is mainly due to both countries recognizing “Iran as a major, even existential security threat’. According to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, his country’s relationship with Israel is ‘nine-tenths … below the surface”…

“According to four anonymous U.S. senior diplomats and military intelligence officers, Israel now has access to Azeri airfields. The Sitalcay airstrip is considered to be suitable for Israeli aircraft due to its distance from Azerbaijan’s capital and its existing facilities. Israel may also have “electronic listening stations” along the border with Iran.
“Although Azerbaijan’s defense minister refused to allow any attack to be launched on Iran from Azerbaijan, he ‘did not explicitly bar Israeli bombers from landing in the country after a strike’ or ‘…rule out the basing of Israeli search-and-rescue units in the country.’”

North Korea Continues to Taunt

BBC.CO.UK reported on March 30, 2012:

“Japan says it will shoot down a North Korean rocket if necessary, as new satellite images appeared to show preparations for the launch next month.

“Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka issued the order to intercept the rocket if it threatened Japan’s territory.

“Pyongyang says it will launch a satellite on a rocket between 12-16 April.

“Satellite images taken on Wednesday indicate that work at the launch site is under way, says a US university.

“Mr Tanaka had issued an earlier order on Tuesday to the country’s defence forces to prepare ‘destruction measures against ballistic missiles’.

“On Friday, he told reporters in Tokyo that he had received cabinet approval to shoot down the rocket if necessary.

“The country began preparing missile defence systems last week.”

Also, from The Telegraph, April 3, 2012:

“Reconnaissance satellites have identified the huge missile at a government research and development facility in Pyongyang, South Korean government sources told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
“Analysts estimate the weapon to be around 130 feet long and, equipped with a more powerful booster unit, capable of delivering a warhead more than 6,200 miles.
“Unveiling the missile will raise new fears in neighbouring countries, already alarmed by Pyongyang’s insistence that it will go ahead with the launch in mid-April of a rocket to put a satellite into orbit…
“Tokyo is taking the threat posed by the planned launch of the North Korean rocket, announced for between April 12 and 16, seriously and is sending 450 troops to the southern island of Ishigaki to man Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles.
“The Japanese government has stated that it will shoot down the rocket if it threatens Japanese territory.
“Tokyo is also deploying state-of-the-art Aegis warships in the East China Sea to monitor the launch. The vessels will be protected by F-15 fighters.”

A Catholic Revival in Cuba

Caribbean 360 wrote on April 3, 2012:

“Good Friday, April 6, will be celebrated as a public holiday in Cuba for the first time since the early days of the 1959 Cuban Revolution when Fidel Castro abolished religious holidays in that country.

“This follows President Raul Castro’s granting of a request by Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff’s three-day visit to Cuba last week.

“The government said in a communiqué that the decision was made in view of the success of Benedict’s ‘transcendental visit’, adding that the Council of Ministers, Cuba’s supreme governing body, will later determine whether to make Good Friday a permanent holiday.

“Havana’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega referred to Benedict’s visit as a ‘Springtime of faith’.  It came 14 years after Pope John Paul II’s groundbreaking trip in 1998, which many Cubans say was the beginning of the thaw in church-state relations.  During this visit, then President Fidel Castro honoured John Paul’s request to restore Christmas as a public holiday.

“While Fidel Castro received the pope warmly in 1998, his brother and current president Raul Castro was even more attentive on this latest papal visit, attending the two Masses celebrated by Benedict, seated in the front row.

“’The fact that the Cuban authorities quickly welcomed the Holy Father’s request to President Raul Castro, declaring Good Friday a non-work day, is certainly a very positive sign,’ said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi in a statement.

“’The Holy See hopes that this will encourage participation in the religious celebrations and joyous Easter festivities, and that following the visit of the Holy Father will continue to bring the desired fruits for the good of the church and all Cubans,’ he added.”

On April 4, 2012, the Catholic News Service posted these summary comments given by Pope Benedict XVI regarding his visit to both Mexico and Cuba:

“‘I encouraged the Mexican people to let their deep Christian roots inspire their efforts to overcome violence and to work for a better future,’ he said.

“And in Cuba, ‘I prayed for a rebirth of faith, openness to God’s love and respect for the truth about our human dignity and freedom revealed in Christ,’ he said.”

Admittedly, this current pope has not seen the popularity of his predecessor, John Paul II; however, Benedict’s reception in Mexico and his impact on Cuban society have been significant. With a strong Catholic revival of former Communist bloc nations, Catholicism is gaining a renewed influence in both the religious and political realms.

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I would like to know the difference between apostles and disciples. Who are called apostles and who are called disciples?

The New Testament has many references to disciples and apostles.

Strictly speaking, a disciple is anyone who follows another’s teachings. In the Bible, the name “disciple” comes from the Greek word, “mathaytes,” which means learner, student or pupil. We read that the loyal disciples were not just learning, but also, that they agreed and followed their leader, Jesus Christ. However, many turned away who at one time were His followers during His 3½ year ministry. We read in Acts 1:15 that there were only about 120 disciples just before the day of Pentecost. This was after preaching to many thousands of people, feeding miraculously more than 10,000 people, and performing many healings!

 As Jesus was teaching, we read in John 6:60: “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’” A few verses later, we read in verses 66-69: “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

We see that many departed, but the twelve apostles stayed firm at that time. Later, however, Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, betrayed Christ, and after his suicide, he was replaced with Matthias who became known as an apostle (see Acts 1:26). Tradition has it that all of them, with the possible exception of John, suffered martyrdom.  

Both John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14) and the Pharisees (Matthew 22:16) are shown as having disciples. Even the twelve apostles were originally called disciples (Matthew 10:1). It is interesting to note that there were far fewer apostles than disciples – all apostles were disciples, but very few of the disciples became apostles.

The word apostle is derived from a Greek word, pronounced “ap-os-tol-os,” which means a messenger or one who is sent. From His disciples, that is, His students, Jesus selected a group of twelve men as His apostles. We read in Luke 6:12-13:

“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself, and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles.”

Then, He sent them to do His work. First, He sent them to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 20:5-15), but later, Jesus told them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… ” (Matthew 28:19).  

Still later, Paul and Barnabas were ordained to the rank of apostle to carry out the Work of God (Acts 13:1-3; 14:14). In Romans 16:7, we find a reference to Andronicus and Junias, who might also have been apostles. The passage says that they were of note among the original apostles. This could mean that they were well known to the apostles, or that they themselves were distinguished as apostles.

In our Q&A on ministerial ranks in the church, we state the following:

“We read that Paul referred to himself as an apostle and a preacher and a teacher (1 Timothy 2:7). He is also described as a prophet and a teacher in Acts 13:1. He even clarified that there were ‘ranks’ and different functions within the office of ‘apostle,’ calling some of the apostles ‘chiefest apostles’ (Authorized Version) or ‘most eminent apostles’ (2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11). These would have included Peter and James, the half-brother of Jesus (compare Galatians 1:18-19). We read that the gospel to the uncircumcision [non-Israelite nations] was entrusted to Paul, while the gospel of the circumcision [Israelite nations] was entrusted to Peter (Galatians 2:7-8).”

In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 we read that Satan the devil has his own apostles: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms 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.”

One other important factor should be noted. Christ’s disciples are followers of Christ, whether they are ministers or members. A disciple may not be ordained to any ministerial function, but an apostle, as well as an evangelist or a pastor or an elder, are always ordained ministers, as we read in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Please see again our Q&A, which addresses the question of ministerial ranks in God’s Church.

Today, in the true Church of God, we are all disciples of Jesus Christ, and a number have been ordained to the rank of evangelist, pastor and teacher or elder. We do not believe that there are any apostles in the Church of God today. Due to his fruits, the late Mr. Herbert W Armstrong, who was Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God until he died in 1986, was acknowledged in the Church as an apostle (one sent out), as he met many world leaders and preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God in many parts of the world. It is not, of course, a requirement for an apostle to have to meet world leaders, but the fruits of his activities should clearly establish that God has approved a minister as an apostle. We do not believe that there are today any prophets in the Church of God, either. This is not to say that in the future, God might not ordain some of His ministers to the rank and office of apostle and prophet. For further information, read our Q&A answering the question whether there are today any prophets in the Church of God.

Lead Writers: Brian Gale and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock.

Norbert and Johanna Link remain in Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Link were able to meet with some people who have been responding to our German videos and sermons (aufpostenstehen.de). As well as conducting counseling sessions, Mr. Link also baptised two individuals. They will stay in Germany until the conclusion of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

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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

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