Update 95



Dave Harris will be giving the sermon this upcoming Sabbath. It is entitled “Membership.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”

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Is God's Holy Spirit Within You?

by Edwin Pope

Editor’s Note: We wish all of our members, co-workers, readers, listeners and friends a rewarding and meaningful feast of Pentecost. Following is an especially relevant message.

I was recently asked the question, “How can I know if I have God’s Spirit?” With all the organizations in the world today that proclaim allegiance to Jesus Christ, yet follow a divergence of doctrines, how can one be sure he is following God’s Spirit as he goes about his normal activities in life? As we examine God’s Word we find a number of Scriptures that give insight relative to these questions.

First, we should examine a few key Scriptures relative to the knowledge of God’s Truth. It is certain that understanding the true knowledge of God’s Way is critical to this question.

We read in Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding…” And in Proverbs 8:10-11, “Receive [My] instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.”

Proverbs 22:17, 19 tells us, “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to [My] knowledge….So that your trust may be in the LORD.” And, in 2 Peter 3:18, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Yet, there can be major problems for those who receive true knowledge, if they are not faithful with that knowledge.

In 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 we read that, “…Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” And 1 Corinthians 13:2, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

So we see, that the knowledge of what love is, is also critical to our understanding of this question. Paul discusses this critical subject of love under the inspiration of God’s Spirit in several places. Let us examine a few of these.

Romans 5:5, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [which] was given to us.” And 2 John 1:6, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.” We demonstrate love in our lives as we walk in God’s Way!

Are we able to understand how all of these things come together as God reveals to us the truth of His Way? There are several key ingredients. Knowledge, obedience, love, and faithfulness; each of these has its role in this Way to which we have been called, and each pertain to the question at hand.

Thus, the fact that we have been given true knowledge does not seem to be the key factor. The fact that we have true knowledge does not ensure that we will have God’s Spirit. The important thing about knowledge is that with it comes the understanding of what God expects of us as we go forward. Understanding the truth of God’s law, for example, gives us also the understanding of what comprises sin (Romans 3:20).

We read in Hebrews 10:26, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…” It therefore becomes critical, once we understand this, that we be diligent in observing God’s law to the best of our abilities, with the help of God’s Spirit that is within us.

When we look at the major examples of righteous men down through Biblical history whose lives were pleasing to God, we see that all of these factors we are discussing are critical. But obedience stands out as, perhaps, one of the more prominent characteristics God considers in giving His Spirit to those who ask. Let us examine a few of these examples.

The example of Jesus Christ, of course, stands out above all. Comparing the lives of the man Adam and of Jesus Christ as their lives reflected the way these two men lived under God’s law, Paul stated, in Romans 5:19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” And Paul relates to us in Hebrews 5:8-9, “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the [Author] of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…”

Christ obeyed God in everything. You and I must come to the same point, eventually. That is our goal in this life! And when we obey God, and ask Him for more of His Spirit, He will not deny our request. Jesus made reference to a very special blessing we have in this way in Luke 11:13: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Of course, God saw early on that man in his natural state of mind could not be obedient to Him. Adam had rejected access to God’s Spirit and His law from the very beginning, having succumbed to the influence of Satan, the current prince of this universe (Ephesians 2:2).

God saw that it would require His Spirit working with the spirit in man for there to be any hope of mankind ever defeating the wiles of the devil and even man’s own human nature. Aware of man’s proclivities, God stated in Genesis 6:3, “…My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

God understood the heart of mankind as He spoke of the situation in Genesis 6:5-7: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.'”

Yet, God saw a good heart in the man, Noah. Genesis 6:8-9: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” We see the key here in verse 9. Noah walked with God! Noah obeyed God! Noah was led by the Spirit of God!

Abraham is another prime example of one whom God blessed tremendously, including the gift of His Spirit, because of Abraham’s obedience to Him.

Speaking to Abraham in Genesis 22:18, God stated: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” In Hebrews 11:8, God revealed that, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham obeyed God first – and asked questions later! We must learn to do that.

We know that Isaac and Jacob followed in their father, Abraham’s, footsteps, and were obedient to God as well. In speaking to Isaac as He passed on the blessings to him, God reminded Isaac that these blessings were coming his way “…because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:5).

Of course, Joseph was a prime example of one in Pharaoh’s court who walked in God’s Way. Notice what God inspired Pharaoh to see concerning this man, Joseph. Genesis 41:38: “And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”‘ This was not a common occurrence in that day, just as it is not a common thing today.

And so, the Children of Israel, for the most part, failed to follow in the steps of the “Fathers” – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As the people of God, Israel had agreed with God to follow in all His Ways (Exodus 24:3). But we see in our study of these people that they failed in this endeavor. Notice Isaiah 42:24: “Who gave Jacob for plunder, and Israel to the robbers? Was it not the LORD, He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, Nor were they obedient to His law.”

Again we see, it was disobedience to God and His ways that caused them to fail in their relationship with God. Thus, He gave His Spirit only to a few in Israel; those who had learned obedience – Moses, Joshua, Caleb (specifically) and a few others who learned to obey God down through time.

During the time Saul was obedient and faithful to God, God filled Saul with His Spirit. Notice, 1 Samuel 10:6-11: “Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you. You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and, surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do. And so it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, ‘What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?'”

In like manner, David, because of His obedience to God, was given God’s Spirit. We read in 1 Samuel 16:13: “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.”

Yet, God removed His Spirit from Saul when Saul ceased being obedient to Him. “Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.’ But Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel'” (1 Samuel

And in 1 Samuel 16:14 we read, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul…”

When David sinned against God in the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah, David repented bitterly and asked God that He not remove His Spirit from him. David’s prayer of repentance is recorded in Psalm 51. God heard that prayer and did not remove His Spirit, though God did not allow the son of that union to live; and David was not allowed to build the Temple that he so desired to build as a monument to God.

We can see from these examples that God blesses those who are faithful in their obedience to Him, and He gives even more of His Spirit to those who continue in the faith.

Peter reminds us through the inspiration of God and His Spirit, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again [begotten], not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because ‘All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever'” (1 Peter 1:22-25).

These are the words which we have received, brethren. And as Peter tells us here in Chapter 2 of 1 Peter, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

We can see evidence of God’s Spirit in our lives as we relate to others around us, and even in the thoughts that come into our minds. The fruit of God’s Spirit is clearly shown in Galatians 5:22-23; while, in contrast, the works of the flesh are described in Galatians 5:19-21. If we are having problems in building the former and/or destroying the latter in our individual lives, we must ask God for more of His Spirit to help us in accomplishing our goals.

Yes, God has called us brethren, He has given us His Spirit, and now it is our responsibility, individually, to see to it that we remain in the good graces of our God; that we remain faithful to Him and continue in His Way through the Power of His Spirit, which is within us, so that He never removes His Holy Spirit from us!

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USA Today reported on May 24 that “despite a possible scientific breakthrough linking SARS to animals, the disease continued to vex health authorities trying to contain it.” Apart from new outbreaks of the disease, the really frightening news is its possible origin. USA Today continued, “Researchers in Hong Kong have found evidence of the SARS virus in three types of small animals including the civet cat, which IS EATEN (!) as a delicacy by some Chinese… Civet cats are from the same animal family as ferrets.”

The German papers of MAX and NETZEITUNG confirmed the report. MAX added that “people in Southern China have probably caused the spreading of the SARS disease through their fondness of exotic dishes… The civet cat (viverra civetta) has been eaten in the region for centuries.” NETZEITUNG pointed out that a certain substance, found in civet cats, has been used for certain types of medical products, as well as for perfume.

Although not entirely proven, the transmission of the disease from animals to men through animal consumption appears more and more likely. As “HowStuffWorks,Inc.” pointed out on its Webpage, under “How SARS Works,” “And, while coronaviruses have been a known culprit in acute sickness among animals (such as dogs, cats and pigs), this has not been common among humans. Researchers have been investigating the possibility that this coronavirus jumped between species. This would not be the first time a disease has migrated from animal to man. All of these conditions were first evident in animals: buffalopox; Creutzfeldt-Jacob [sic] disease (also known as Mad-Cow disease); Ebola haemorrhagic [sic] disease; HIV-AIDS; and Nipah virus.”

The Bible warns us that in the end time, many people will die “by the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). The transmission of diseases through animals would certainly constitute a fulfillment of this prophecy. In addition, God has told man not to eat certain animals designated in the Bible as “unclean.” The civet cats, as well as monkeys, dogs or pigs, are designated unclean animals which are not to be eaten. God gave us those health laws to abide by, as their violation causes sickness, disease and even premature death, as most recent events have demonstrated. When we obey God’s commands, we will be blessed. When we disobey God, curses are the consequence.


The Telegraph in the United Kingdom reported on May 27 about “sweeping plans for a new European constitution, with an elected president and overriding powers to legislate across the whole range of national life… The draft of the constitution, which was presented in Brussels yesterday, includes plans for a common foreign policy, a legally binding charter of fundamental rights, control over economic and employment policies and the explicit primacy of EU law over member states for the first time…” The article continued that the draft Constitution has been described as attempting to create “a European state with a European government.” It pointed out, too, that “the EU envisaged by the 105-strong convention would have a full-time president elected by EU leaders to give strategic direction… A foreign minister would be elected, also by EU leaders, to conduct a common policy. EU defense and security policy initiatives would also come under his remit.” The German press is speculating whether Joschka Fischer might become the first European foreign minister.

At the same time, relationships between continental Europe and the United States don’t seem to get any better, but they seem to continue to deteriorate. The NETZEITUNG reported on May 24 that, according to U.S. Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, no betterment of the relationship between President Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expected. According to Rice, President Bush does not accept German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as a “statesman,” due to his past as a sometimes violent demonstrator.

USA Today reported on May 28 about the challenges which President Bush will have to face during his next overseas trips. It stated, “The most important and precarious meetings, with Arabs and Israeli leaders, will mark Bush’s first direct involvement in the quest for Middle East peace. History suggests that odds of success are minimal. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat already is showing signs that he wants to undermine the talks… Bush also faces tricky encounters with some of his most fervent critics in Europe… Bush will have his first face-to-face meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder since the war, which they opposed… They’ll all be in St. Petersburg, Russia, for Saturday’s celebration of the 300th anniversary of Putin’s hometown… All three leaders seem to want reconciliation. After preventing a vote in the United Nations authorizing the war, they joined the United States in voting for a resolution ending sanctions against Iraq. Even so, aides say Bush will let each leader know, with varying degrees of subtlety, that all is not yet forgotten.”

The Bible speaks of a time when they will say, “peace, peace,” but there will be no peace. We are hearing a lot about a “road map to peace” in the Middle East, or attempts of peaceful reconciliation between nations, especially the United States and continental Europe. The Bible prophesies, however, that in the future, a powerful European power bloc will be at odds with the United States, and that it will be Europe — not the United States — that will become influential in bringing about a very temporary “peace” in the Middle East. Once all of that happens, the time of Christ’s return will have arrived. 

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Q: Did Jesus dishonor His mother, as recorded in John 2:4, when He said to Mary, "'Woman, what have I to do with thee?'"

A: If Jesus Christ committed just one sin, we would not have a Savior. If He had violated the Fifth Commandment (“Honor your father and your mother…,” Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12), He would have sinned, as “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Many Scriptures make clear that the law spoken of in the New Testament includes the Ten Commandments (compare James 2:8-12).

We read that Christ never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). He practiced what He preached. When a young man came to Him to find out what he had to do to have eternal life, Christ told him to keep the commandments (Matthew 19:16-17). He then specifically listed the Fifth Commandment, in verse 19. Christ also emphasized in Mark 7:7-13 the continued obligation for children to honor their parents (Compare, too, Ephesians 6:1-3).

Christ never transgressed the Fifth Commandment. When He was twelve years old, He was subject or obedient to His parents (Luke 2:51). He never became disobedient throughout His life.

The potential problem with His statement in John 2:3-4 is caused by the translation of the Authorized Version, stating, “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.”

First, let us notice that the expression, “woman,” did not convey disrespect. When Christ hung on the cross, He told John to take care of His mother. Christ was in agonizing pain, knowing that He would soon die — still, His thoughts and concerns were directed toward the welfare of His mother. Notice that He called Mary “woman” at that critical time as well (John 19:26). Halley’s Handbook points out, on page 533, that the word “woman” was a title of respect in the usage of the day.

Returning to John 2, we should also notice that Mary did not consider Christ’s answer as one of disrespect. In verse 5, she told the bridegroom’s servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

Let us also note the annotation in Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible, on page 536: “No one, not even his mother, has the right to put pressure on Jesus. But his reply is not as harsh as some translations make it sound. New English Bible, ‘Your concern, mother, is not mine,’ is better.”

Other translations agree with the conclusion that the rendering in the Authorized Version is too harsh. The New King James Bible translates verse 4 as, “‘Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?'” The New International Version states, “Dear woman, why do you involve Me?”

Halley’s Handbook comments further, on page 533:

“The point of his remark seems to be, ‘Suppose the wine is gone, what have I to do with it? It is not my affair. My time to work miracles has not yet come.’ Probably he had just told her of the new miraculous powers bestowed on him by the descent of the Holy Spirit at baptism. She saw in the situation an opportunity for him. While he did this miracle as her suggestion, his ‘hour’ for the general use of his miraculous powers came about four months after, at the official beginning of his public ministry in Jerusalem at Passover time (John 2:13).”

Christ also wanted to tell His mother that the main purpose for His coming was not to perform those kinds of miracles. That is why the New English Bible’s rendering of verse 5, “Your concern, mother, is not mine,” is quite good. Because of respect for His mother, however, He acquiesced, as the performance of that miracle was not against God’s commandments or His will.

Rather than conveying that Christ disobeyed the Fifth Commandment, John 2:1-4, when correctly understood, shows the deep honor and respect that Christ had for His mother, prompting Him to fulfill her desires that were not against God’s will.

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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.

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