Update 650



On August 2, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Blessings.”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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True Brethren

by Dave Harris

The apostle Paul spoke of problems he faced because of false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:26). These were those who tried to withstand the Truth of God by teaching doctrines from their own imagination. The conflict over circumcision as recorded in Acts 15 is an example, and the letter Paul wrote to the Galatians shows how pervasive this false teaching was.
Jesus, in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30), reveals that not everyone within the Church of God fellowship would be of the same mind. Still, even with these warnings considered, we are also to understand that the Church is comprised of true brethren!
The calling from God that leads us to become His begotten children also establishes us as brethren. In fact, we are now brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ (compare Hebrews 2:12-13).
We can test ourselves by taking our lead from the Word of God. An especially challenging presentation for us is in Romans 12. If we are actively following these instructions, then we are fulfilling the requirements to be counted among those who are true brethren.
Of special note is verse 10: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…”
You know, every once in a while we need to be reminded to do this in more deliberate ways. We have the opportunity to assemble together on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Feast Days to help us develop within the Family of God—that is, to grow in godliness toward one another.
In spite of those who contended with him, Paul kept his focus on the true brethren, and what he wrote finds its full application even today:
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer…” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-5).

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Growing concern about the spread of the deadly Ebola virus begins our reporting; North Korea’s threats draw attention along with their behind-the-scenes arms sales; “crisis” was a much used word to describe the war between Palestinians and Israelis and concern over the conflict in Ukraine.

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Ebola Crisis Spreads

Herald Sun reported on July 31:

“A leading medical charity has warned that the outbreak of the deadly west African Ebola virus is out of control and there are fears it ‘can only get worse’. 
“Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says the crisis gripping Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could spread to other continents and warns there is no overarching strategy to handle the world’s worst-ever outbreak of the disease.

“Amid rising fears that the deadly virus could spread to the US, there are already plans to subject even healthy Americans into forced quarantine in the event of an Ebola pandemic.

“Western doctors are now on the lookout for symptoms of the disease after the death of US citizen Patrick Sawyer, who travelled through a major transport hub in Nigeria[,] prompted fears that the disease could spread to the US.

“Symptoms of the disease, which has anywhere from a 50 to 90 per cent mortality rate, include headache, fever, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and lack of appetite.

“There are now fears that the deadly and highly contagious virus will be passed on through air travel.”

North Korea Threatens US

Yahoo News wrote on July 28:

“A top-ranking North Korean military official has threatened a nuclear strike on the White House and Pentagon after accusing Washington of raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“The threat came from Hwang Pyong-So, director of the military’s General Political Bureau, during a speech to a large military rally in Pyongyang Sunday on the anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

“Hwang, who holds the rank of vice marshal in the Korean People’s Army, said a recent series of South Korea-US military drills, one of which included the deployment of a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, had ramped up tensions.

“‘If the US imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival… our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon — the sources of all evil,’ Hwang said in his speech broadcast Monday on state television.”

While no one believes North Korea actually possesses the capability to deliver on these threats, the next article shows what they can do to create problems which nag at the heels of American influence.

North Korea Arms Hammas

National Post reported on July 27:

“Hamas is attempting to negotiate a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications commitment that will allow it to maintain its offensive against Israel, according to Western security sources.

“Security officials say the deal between Hamas and North Korea is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and is being handled by a Lebanese-based trading company with ties to the militant Palestinian organization.

“Hamas officials are believed to have already made an initial cash downpayment to secure the deal and are hoping that North Korea will soon begin shipping extra supplies of weapons to Gaza.

“’Hamas is looking for ways to replenish its stocks of missiles because of the large numbers it has fired at Israel in recent weeks,’ said a security official. ‘North Korea is an obvious place to seek supplies because Pyongyang already has close ties with a number of militant Islamist groups in the Middle East.’

“Using intermediaries based in Lebanon, Hamas officials are said to be intensifying their efforts to sign a new agreement with Pyongyang to provide hundreds of missiles together with communications equipment that will improve the ability of Hamas fighters to coordinate operations against Israeli forces.”

Mid-East Crisis: Death and Blame

BBC reported on July 30:

“Israel attacked a UN-run school housing refugees in Gaza despite warnings that civilians were there, the UN has said.

“UN spokesman Chris Gunness said ‘the world stands disgraced’ by the attack, in which 15 died and dozens were hurt.

“Israel said an initial inquiry suggested soldiers responded to mortar fire. It called a partial, four-hour humanitarian ceasefire but Hamas, which controls Gaza, said it was meaningless.

“More than 1,300 Palestinians and 55 Israelis have died in the conflict.

“Most of the Palestinian deaths have been civilians.

“Fifty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed along with two civilians. A Thai worker in Israel has also died.

“Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after a surge in rocket fire from the territory.

“Hamas says it will not stop fighting until the blockade, maintained by both Israel and Egypt, is lifted.”

The Globe And Mail wrote on July 30 contrasting the differing positions of the US and Canada:

“The United States is condemning Israel’s shelling of a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip that was sheltering displaced Palestinians.

“It’s the sharpest criticism the U.S. has levelled at Israel over the more than three weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

“White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says the U.S. is also ‘extremely concerned’ that thousands of Palestinians aren’t safe in U.N.-designated shelters in Gaza even though Israel’s military has told them to evacuate their homes.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated his government’s hard line on Hamas Wednesday, saying the organization is solely responsible for the death and destruction in Gaza following almost a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.

“’Obviously no one likes to see the suffering and loss of life that has occurred,’ Harper told reporters in Air Ronge.

“’That said, we hold the terrorist organization Hamas responsible for this. They have initiated and continue this conflict and continue to seek the destruction of the state of Israel.’”

Kerry Creates More Crisis

TPM wrote on July 28:

“Obama administration officials were fuming Monday over a torrent of Israeli criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

“In unusually harsh language, officials said the criticism of Kerry could put the relationship between the U.S. and Israel in jeopardy. They also said the personal attacks on Kerry crossed a line and were particularly disappointing at a time of active conflict.

“Israeli media commentators have leveled almost nonstop criticism at Kerry in recent days over his attempts to bring Qatar and Turkey — two countries viewed by Israel as strong Hamas supporters — into the cease-fire negotiations. Kerry was also being accused of abandoning some of Israel’s key demands during the negotiations.

“In trying to implement the cease-fire over the weekend, ‘U.S. Secretary of State of State John Kerry ruined everything,’ wrote columnist Ari Shavit in Monday’s Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper. ‘Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a ‘strategic terrorist attack’.”

Putin’s “Little Green Men”

Foreignpolicy.com reported on July 30:

“As Malaysia Airlines’ 298 passengers died over the skies of eastern Ukraine, so did the last trace of hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin would back down from his support of eastern Ukraine’s separatist rebels or agree to a negotiated settlement to the seven-month-long conflict. Since the deadly incident, it is no longer in doubt whether or not the future of eastern Ukraine — or Novorossiya (New Russia), as pan-Slavic nationalists call it — will be decided by force. The only question remaining is how deadly the fight will be.

“At the moment, the government in Kiev is ramping up its fight to reclaim Ukraine’s restive eastern regions. At the same time, thousands of Russian troops are amassed along Ukraine’s eastern border, and not just the elite Airborne or Spetsnaz troops that took over Crimea in February, but also units designed to fight conventional wars and armies, like Ukraine’s. The result could be explosive.

“There was little Ukraine could do to stop the “little green men” who invaded Crimea. By the time Kiev had realized what was going on, Russia’s most elite and best-trained Naval Infantry, Airborne, and Spetsnaz troops (including the new Senezh unit, which seized the Crimean parliament) had prevented Ukrainian reinforcements from entering Crimea. But the separatist militiamen in eastern Ukraine, despite being equipped, trained, and funded by Moscow, are a different story. There, Kiev retains a vast advantage in firepower, [material], and troops, along with the implicit backing of the international community against an increasingly fragmented and uncoordinated separatist movement.”

Vladimir Putin is playing a very high stakes game, and it now seems inevitable to avoid a major conflict in Ukraine–an action that will only serve to further unify European plans for creating their own powerful military!

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The Church of England has recently voted in favour of Women Bishops. Is this Biblical?

Before answering this question, here is some background first:

The Church of England website stated the following (as at 14th July 2014):

“The General Synod of the Church of England has today given its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.   The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod:  the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.  This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

“Today’s vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when the proposal failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“‘Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years (ago) with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.’”

It is interesting that 18 months ago the vote went against the approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.   There were tears and recriminations at that time but the revised proposals were approved on 14 July (2014).   It appears that the powers that be, and their supporters, were determined to get their way and this paid off in the end.   Interestingly, there will not be a third vote now that approval has been given, showing that this issue was only going to go one way.

In just over 20 years, women have been ordained to the ministry in the Church of England (and many other churches) and the pressure for higher positions has now paid off.

In our weekly Update 120 for the week ending December 5th, 2003, we discussed the subject in our Q&A, “Sermons by Women?” and showed that the ordination of women to the office of minister and bishop is not allowed by Scripture. Is it sexism or favouritism that the true Church of God takes an entirely different view than for instance the Church of England?  

In the Update, the question of women giving sermons was covered and our free booklet “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families!” was quoted in this respect.   In the final paragraph of this previous Q&A, it stated: “The message of Scripture is unambiguous: Christian women are not to teach Biblical or spiritual matters in church or in a public forum.”

We clarified what we meant by “public forum,” as follows: “… women are not to teach Biblical or spiritual matters in a public forum, such as television, the Internet, or the printing press… In today’s world of mass communication, churches often use radio, television, the printing press or even the Internet to publish spiritual material. Women should not deliver sermons on radio or television, either, nor should they write Biblical, prophetic, ecclesiastical or spiritual articles…”

When women are ordained to the ministry in any church, they will inevitably be involved in preaching and having authority in services.

We now want to add further information:

There is authority in the God Family.   We read in John 5:19-20 that Jesus said: “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.   For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”    Jesus also said in John 14:28: “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.”    This verse shows that there is a line of authority in the Family of God – the Father and then the Son – but they are always unified in approach.  

Mr Herbert W Armstrong wrote in “Mystery of the Ages,” 1985 edition, pages 40 and 41 the following (selective quotes for sake of brevity –  and our emphasis with underlining):

“The Word and God LIVED. What did they do? They created. How did they live-what was their ‘life-style’? They lived the way of their perfect character-the way of outflowing LOVE. When Jesus was baptized, God the Father said, ‘You are my beLOVED Son.’ God LOVED the Word. And the Word LOVED God–obeyed him completely.

“When the only conscious Life-Beings existed, God was leader–in authoritative command. Thus, even when the only conscious Life-Beings were God and the Word, there was GOVERNMENT with God in supreme command. The government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be ‘government by the consent of the governed.’ Its laws originate and are handed down from God-never legislated by the people-never dictated by the governed how the government over them shall rule them. Since they created other conscious, thinking life-beings, this very fact of necessity put the GOVERNMENT of God over all creation, with God supreme Ruler.”

We can compare this difference of position with the marriage relationship where a husband and wife have different responsibilities.   A husband is the leader, the head of the wife and is in a higher position of authority, but he is no better by such instruction than his wife (see Ephesians 5:22-25).

Quoting again from page 10 of our booklet “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families!,” we read: “The Bible makes it very clear, however, that the husband is supposed to be the leader of the family—not a dictator, not a tyrant, not a proud and arrogant brute—but rather, he was made by God to lead the family. And if he leads in a Godly way, the wife will have little or no difficulty in following.”

As there is authority in the God Family, there is also authority in the human family. And there is also authority in the Church of God. That authority relates to the fact that the Church is not organized as a democracy, where members “vote,”  but it is a hierarchical theocracy—with authority from the top down. God the Father is over all with Jesus Christ under Him. Under Christ, there is the ministry, which is also organized hierarchically (compare Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28). Further, Christ tells us clearly how Church services should be conducted, and who should or should not preach.

Our above-quoted booklet also states on pages 14 and 15 additional information, which relates to official Church services (This is not applicable, of course, to informal social gatherings of men and women which events do not constitute formal Church services):

“‘Rienecker’s Lexikon zur Bibel points out, under “Women,” ‘The relationship between man and woman, ordained by God, can also be seen in the role of service and function within the church. Women do prophecy (1 Corinthians 11:5; Acts 21:9), but only men are specifically referred to as prophets (v. 10). Paul does not allow the women to teach, that is, to fill the office of teacher in the church (1 Timothy 2:12). It is different when Apollos is introduced more fully, in a personal conversation with Aquilla and Priscilla, to the teachings of God. (Acts 18:26).’

“Jamieson, Fausset and Brown state in regard to 1 Corinthians 14:34–35, ‘For women to speak in public would be an act of independence, as if they were not subject to their husbands (cf. Chapter 11:3; Ephesians 5:22; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1)… Women may say, “But if we do not understand something, may we not ‘ask’ a question publicly so as to ‘learn’”? Nay, replies Paul, if you want information, “ask” not in public, but “at home”: ask not other men, but your own particular (so the Greek) husbands.’

“Jamieson, Fausset and Brown comment on 1 Timothy 2:11–12, ‘Learn—not teach… She should not even put questions in the public assembly… She might teach, but not in public (Acts 18:26).’”

These passages relate to official and formal Church services and pre-suppose two things—that both the husband and the wife are converted, and that the husband does know the answers. When the husband does not know the answers, then the ministry ought to be consulted.

We continue with the quote from our above-mentioned booklet, to also cite some general remarks pertaining to the relationship between a husband and his wife, which show the establishment of considerate, proper, merciful, kind and selfless loving authority:

“The Scriptures make it very clear that a woman is not to assert authority over her husband. God chided Old Testament Israel for having permitted women to rule over men (Isaiah 3:12). Husbands are to exert proper authority over their wives. They must do so with Godly love and they must never abuse that authority. But, as it is shameful for a wife to exert authority over her husband, and especially in public, so it is shameful for the husband to let his wife exert authority over him.

“In 1 Corinthians 11:7–8 we read, ‘…woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man.’ The woman was created by God to be a helper of her husband —not to take over her husband’s role and exert authority over him. God did not create the wife to tell her husband what to do, and to become angry when her husband selflessly decides, after careful deliberation, meditation, and prayer, not to do a particular thing.”

Reading, or re-reading this booklet, will give a lot of further information and guidance on this subject.

And so we might ask why especially our Western society, and many women, seems to ignore the “Instruction Manual” that God gave for everyone’s well-being?

We would offer the following reasons which may contribute to the ignoring of clear Biblical instruction:

1. The largest Christian group, the Roman Catholic Church, believes that  “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 97).  Their reasoning is that “the apostles left bishops as their successors.  They gave them their own position of teaching authority.” (Par. 77).  “This living transmission, accomplished through the Holy Spirit, is called tradition . . . ” (Par. 78).  “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” (Par. 82). Although on the question of women in the ministry, the Catholic Church does not agree with such ordinations, nevertheless they can make up their minds on any matter with the outcome becoming their tradition; e.g., Sunday worship instead of the observance of the Sabbath, amongst many.  Most other churches use the same approach where what they feel to be right may be implemented.   In the recent Church of England vote, Scriptural instruction was ignored.

2. The antipathy of anything Biblical by society in general.   In many cases the Bible is seen as irrelevant, so why take notice of what it has to say?

3. The argument that as society has changed so should the church in relation to modern cultural norms.   So why not have women priests and bishops?

4. The rise of aggressive feminism where it is insisted that women should not be excluded from any job or employment opportunity, including in a religious setting. We realize, of course, that the sometimes horrible misuse and physical and mental abuse of male “authority” has given rise to female “reaction” of “excessive feminism.” This warning also applies to some men in God’s Church today who literally abuse their wives, at least mentally, erroneously thinking that they are thereby following God’s directive. NOTHING could be further from the truth! But this does not justify, of course, the ordination of women to the ministry, as two wrongs don’t make a right.

5. The obsession with equality.   For example, homosexuality and same sex marriage are equal in law with heterosexuality and a marriage of the God-ordained relationship of a man and a woman.   Any resistance to the current norm is dealt with by sanctions and hostility.   Therefore, any disagreement to women priests and ordinations is treated more and more with contempt and derision by our Western society in general.

We must always take our instructions from the Word of God, and it is clear from all of the evidence that the Bible gives us that women should not be ordained to the ministry and become bishops.

Lead Writers: Brian Gale (United Kingdom) and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

“When and How Will Christ Return?,” is the title of our newest booklet, which has now entered its second review cycle. We plan to have this published by the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Norbert and Johanna Link are continuing their travels, and they will be in Fort Collins, Colorado, this Sabbath. Mr. Link will give the sermon, which will be a live transmission.

“Haben Wir Gott Vergessen?,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. In English the title is, “Did We Forget God?”

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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