Update 137


After Conversion

On Saturday, April 3, 2004, Dave Harris will be give the sermon, titled, “After Conversion.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

On Sunday, April 4, 2004, is Passover. If you won’t be able to attend local services and want to keep the Passover at home, please read the special announcements regarding this in this Update.

On Monday evening, April 5, 2004, is the Night to Be Much Observed.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2004, is the First Day of Unleavened Bread. Rene Messier will be giving the sermon in the morning from Oregon. His sermon is titled, “Self-Examination. Edwin Pope will give the sermon in the afternoon from San Diego, discussing important principles related to that day.

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 9:00 am and 1:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 11:00 am and 3:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Examine Yourself

by Norbert Link

On Sunday evening, April 4, 2004, baptized members of the Church of God will partake of the New Testament Passover symbols of bread and wine, thereby following the Godly command to do so once a year. They will reflect and meditate on God’s great purpose in sending His only-begotten Son to die for us, so that we can have everlasting life (John 3:16-17). In addition, they will deeply appreciate the fact that Christ also suffered for us to make possible Godly healing of our physical sicknesses and injuries (Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:16-17).

If we are in the spiritual body of Christ, we are commanded to partake of the Passover symbols. At the same time, we are told by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:28, to “examine” ourselves, before we eat of the bread and drink of the cup. This self-examination is important, so that we do not partake of the Passover in an unworthy manner (vv. 27, 29). However, the purpose of our self-examination is not to become so depressed that we refuse to take the Passover. Rather, we are to examine ourselves and to “eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

Paul’s admonition is not to be understood in a negative way. The Greek word for “examine,” “dokimazo,” is exclusively used in the New Testament Scriptures in a positive manner. Let us notice all the passages where the word is used:

In Luke 14:19, a person bought oxen, and AFTER he had bought them [not before], he went out to test or “examine” them. In Romans 12:2, Paul encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove or test or “examine” what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Again, we see the positive purpose of this kind of examination.

Further, 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells you to “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test [Greek, “dokimazo”] yourselves. Do you not know yourselves THAT Jesus Christ is in you?” Paul took it for granted that Christ was living in them, but he encouraged them to individually reconfirm and reestablish this knowledge.

Galatians 6:4 admonishes each and every one of us to “examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself.” Again, this examination should lead to joy, not sorrow. Another passage in this context is Ephesians 5:8-10: “For you were ONCE darkness, but now you ARE light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out [in Greek, “dokimazo”] what is acceptable to the Lord.” Paul is saying here that we are already light. We CAN therefore find out what is acceptable in God’s sight. Again, this examination should lead to an increase of the right kind of Godly understanding.

Philippians 1:9-10 adds: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve [Greek, “dokimazo”] the things that are excellent.” Again, we find the positive nature of such approval or examination.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:4, the Greek word “dokimazo” is used twice: “But as we have been approved [Greek, “dokimazo”] by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests [Greek, “dokimazo”] our hearts.” God has already examined or approved us, but God continues to test or “examine” us — not, so that we fail, but so that we overcome even more.

Finally, let us notice 1 Peter 1:6-7:”In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested [Greek, “dokimazo”] by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Again, the testing or “examination” of our faith is not for the purpose of failing, but so that the genuineness of our faith becomes even more manifest and evident.

Paul was not discouraging us from taking the Passover. Rather, our examination should establish that we ARE on the right track — that Christ DOES live in us. And, if we find, during our self-examination, that we are lacking something, we need to repent of that, ask God for forgiveness, and resolve to do better next time, with the help and lead of Christ in us.

We are to examine ourselves, as to how we are doing, before we take the Passover. We need to take it in a worthy manner. We need to understand and appreciate what the sacrifice of Christ means for us. We must be willing to live our lives worthy of God and of our calling.

At the same time, none of us have lived perfectly since the last Passover. We all sin; we all have sinned; and we all have continuous need of God’s forgiveness. That is why we partake of the Passover annually — as an annual reminder that we NEED the sacrifice of Christ. And so, as Christ’s converted disciples, we can, should and need to partake of the Passover, remembering the inspired words of John, in 1 John 1:7-10:

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [after we have examined ourselves to see how we are doing], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

Let us do then, as we are commanded: “But let a man examine himself, AND SO LET HIM eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).

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Fascination Europe

Europe is uniting and destined to become the most powerful group of nations in the world — far exceeding that of the United States of America, Russia or China. Many don’t realize that Europe is already ahead of the U.S. in certain aspects, and most don’t grasp the awesome significance of what is happening in Europe right now in front of our very eyes.

Der Stern Online published a series of articles, dated March 25, 2004, titled, “Fascination Europe.” It pointed out:

“It will be a day which the old continent had never experienced before. A historical day. Not a day when walls fall or wars end, but a day when a group of children appears. They will come from 25 nations, wear their native cloth, and sing together Ludwig van Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ — the hymn of Europe. For the ceremony on May 1 in the Dublin residence of the Irish President, governmental leaders from 25 nations will assemble — under one flag, the blue-golden star-spangled banner of Europe. When it waves on that Saturday, a goal will have been officially reached which no one dared to believe in for most of the last century — the unification of Europe.

“… Never before in history has a united Europe existed that was so great and so manifold and so free… Densely populated Europe has the biggest inland commerce via water transportation in the world… Its export exceeds that of the United States.

“May 1, 2004, is supposed to be a historical date, but all will really start shortly thereafter. Great Europe is to become a world power … economically, culturally and perhaps even militarily… ‘Economically a giant, but politically a dwarf,’ a Belgian minister scoffed 25 years ago regarding Europe, but European politicians are in the process of developing new strategies, especially in Paris. ‘The EU’s intervention troop of 60,000 soldiers, 400 airplanes and 100 vessels can be mobilized within 60 days,’ Michele Alliot-Marie, France’s Minister of Defense, said. In addition, 1500 special soldiers are planned to intervene at a place of crisis within 48 hours. According to the Minister, ‘that is unique in the world.’

“… German and European Unification complimented each other. Without Germany’s integration in Europe, the victorious allies of Word War II would not have stood by approvingly to observe the ‘German giant’ getting back on his feet.”

The magazine pointed out, too, that a United Europe has been a dream for a long time. We know, of course, from the pages of the Bible and from history, that Europe united nine times before — after the fall of Rome — and that a last and final resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire is happening right now. According to Der Stern Online, “Voltaire said in 1767 that Europe will become a great republic of cultivated spirits. Shortly thereafter, Immanuel Kant spoke of a European House. In 1849, Victor Hugo coined enthusiastically the phrase, ‘United States of Europe’ — a slogan that was later used by Winston Churchill during a speech in 1943.”

Interesting, too, is a chart published by the magazine, dealing with the different religions in Europe. It points out that the Protestants dominate in the North, while the Catholics have the majority in the South. Greece is the only EU member state with a Greek-Orthodox majority, reflecting Greece’s status as heir of the East-Roman Empire.

Europe and the Catholic Church

As we mentioned many times before, continental Europe will ultimately be united and spiritually led by the Catholic Church. It is no accident that the Pope has been strongly proposing and demanding a reference of Christianity — as defined and understood by Rome — in the European Constitution. How Rome defines Christianity can be seen in recent statements by the Pope, addressing Australian bishops who were ending their five-yearly visits to Rome. As Reuters reported on March 27, 2004, the Pope said: “Sunday should be a day for God, not for secular diversions like entertainment and sports.” The article also pointed out that the Pope “encouraged Christians, especially young people, to remain faithful to Sunday Mass, saying the secular culture was undermining family life.”

Zenit quoted the Pope, in addition, as follows: “Sunday Mass, because of its special solemnity, the obligatory presence of the faithful, and its celebration on the day when Christ conquered death, expresses with great emphasis the Eucharist’s inherent ecclesiastical dimension… Sunday is the SUPREME DAY OF FAITH, AN INDISPENSABLE DAY, THE DAY OF CHRISTIAN HOPE.”

It may come as a surprise to some, but Sunday is none of the above, when we properly understand true Christianity. Sunday is NOT a day commanded to be kept holy in the Bible, NOR is it the day when Christ was resurrected from the dead. For more information on these undeniable facts, and on the history as to how and why the Church of Rome began to teach the “sanctity of Sunday,” please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “God’s Commanded Holy Days.” Also, you might want to listen to our recent sermon, “Christ’s Death and Resurrection,” which is posted on our Web.

The Catholic Church and Israel

Zenit reported on March 25 that Catholics “living in Israel and in the Occupied Territories are facing a hard time because of the authorities’ systematic refusal to grant visas.” The article pointed out that, as a result, “the church in the Holy Land might not have enough personnel to run the shrines, parishes, hospitals and schools.” It continued: “The refusal of visas raises questions about the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the state of Israel, signed 10 years ago.” One bishop was quoted as saying: “We are dealing with a very serious problem indeed, one which is getting worse by the day. Promises made by top-ranking government officials have not been kept so far. They won’t let us know the reasons behind the new policy. There are no official channels of dialogue to bring about a resolution to the situation.”

It is anticipated that this situation will not continue to be ignored by Europe and the Catholic Church for much longer.

Anti-Semitism Up Across Europe

As Associated Press reported on March 31, 2004, a report submitted to the European Parliament points out that “France had a six-fold increase between 2002 and 2003 in the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents and documented threats… There were many incidents of Jewish people assaulted and insulted, attacks against synagogues, cemeteries and other Jewish property, and arson against a Jewish school… It said anti-Semitic incidents rose in Britain by 75 percent in the first three months of last year… In Germany, such incidents rose by 69 percent from 1999 to 2000. And incidents in the Netherlands and Belgium both ‘significantly increased’ in 2002… Attacks against Jews were ‘relatively rare’ in Greece, Italy, Spain and Austria, but anti-Semitic comments are ‘particularly virulent’ in daily life.”

NEWS-NETWORLD added that the 300-page report found that most attacks against Jews were carried out by “right-extremist activists, including Skinhead groups, as well as young Muslims, persons of north-African descent and other immigrants.”

Haider and Libya

NEWS-Networld reported this week that Austria’s Joerg Haider and vice-chancellor Hubert Gorbach will be visiting Libya on April 16. The article pointed out: “Haider had stayed in Libya several times before, and he had been received by Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya’s leader of the revolution. He is also a friend of his son, Saif al-Islam, who is the honorary president of the Austrian-Libyan Society, that was founded in April of 2002. Haider is the President of that Society.”

Haider stated that Libya’s willingness to cease any development of weapons of mass destruction proves that the Iraq conflict could have been solved with peaceful means, too. The article mentioned that his new visit should not invite criticism — given the fact that very recently, high-ranking American governmental officials and Tony Blair officially visited al-Qaddafi. Haider stated that he is looking forward to economic contracts between Austria and Libya to help Libya with Austrian “know-how.”

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Exodus 12:14 states that "this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD." Some teach that this feast day or memorial, referred to in Exodus 12:14, describes the Passover. Is this correct?

It is not.

Although the Passover is at times referred to as a feast day (compare Leviticus 23: 4-5), the Bible distinguishes between the day of Passover (on Nisan or Abib 14) and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread (on Nisan or Abib 15-21). [The first month of the year, in accordance with the Hebrew Calendar, is called Abib or Nisan. Abib, the original name, means “sprouting” or “budding.” The name Nisan was adopted following the Babylonian captivity. The first month is comparable to the Roman calendar period of March-April, and begins, in Biblical terms, with a new moon.] Exodus 12:14 refers to the first day of Unleavened Bread (compare Leviticus 23:4, 6), NOT the Passover.

We find that Christ and His disciples kept the Passover on Nisan or Abib 14. At that time, the Passover was sometimes included in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but then the entire time was counted as lasting eight days, not only seven (compare Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-18; Luke 22:1, 7-16). However, the distinction between the Passover evening and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread was still clearly understood (compare Mark 14:1). One of the reasons why the Passover was included as an “unleavened” day was that the Jews, when leaving their homes to go to Jerusalem, had to remove all leaven from their homes, before they left (compare Exodus 12:19). Still, when the New Testament speaks of the FEAST during the spring season, it refers to the first day of Unleavened Bread, not the Passover evening (compare John 13:1). During the Passover evening, Christ told His betrayer, Judas, to “do quickly” what he had planned to do (John 13:27). Judas left the house, and the disciples thought that Jesus had asked him to buy those things they needed for the FEAST (compare John 13:29) — that is, the first day of Unleavened Bread, which would start at sunset on Nisan 15 — more than 20 hours later.

With this background, let us carefully review the events at the time when the first Passover was instituted. The evidence that the Passover was and is to be kept at the BEGINNING of Nisan or Abib 14, not at the end, is overwhelming, and will not be discussed here in detail. We would just like to point out that Christ and His disciples, as we saw, kept the PASSOVER at the BEGINNING of the 14th, and they should have known when to keep it. Further, the death angel went through Egypt on the night of the 14th, not the 15th, and that event is called Passover because the death angel passed over the Israelites, when he saw the blood at the doors of their houses (Exodus 12:27). We all know that Passover [and this has to include the actual event of the death angel’s PASSING OVER the Israelites] was on the 14th — not the 15th (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16). Also, the Israelites were not to leave their houses until morning (Exodus 12:22), and still we read that they left Egypt by night (Deuteronomy 16:1). Since it could not have been the night of Nisan 14, it had to be the next night — of Nisan 15.

Turning now to Exodus 12:14, let us quote, with approval, from Mr. Armstrong’s article, “What You Should Know About the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread,” which was published in The Good News, March 1979:

“Notice the Passover is not on the 15th… And notice too, the FEAST mentioned here is not the 14th…, but the FEAST DAY is the 15th. The seven-day period begins the 15th. The 15th is the FIRST of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread. However, since leaven was put out of the houses during the 14th, it came to be called one of the Days of Unleavened Bread by New Testament times, but when this is done, EIGHT days are included as Days of Unleavened Bread. The entire eight-day period is, in New Testament usage, called by then PASSOVER. BUT, the seven-day period begins the 15th, after the 14th, or Passover, has ended.

“The 14th day is the Passover. It is the first of God’s [annual] festivals… In the 15th day is the FEAST. Let us get that distinction clearly in mind. It is the 15th that is the FEAST — the 14th is the Passover. This FEAST day begins after Passover has ended… What day is established as a MEMORIAL — not a shadow, a MEMORIAL — a FEAST — to be kept FOREVER? Notice, it is the day that is the FEAST… the 15th Abib [or Nisan], not the 14th — not the Passover. This day is the Feast day — a memorial, to be kept a Sabbath or holy convocation, FOREVER! SEVEN Days are included… Many have always believed the day here spoken of, and ordained forever, was the Passover, or 14th. But it is not — it is the 15th day… The day established as a Sabbath or holy convocation forever is the FEAST day, the selfsame day on which they went out of Egypt, and they went out on the 15th, not the 14th (Numbers 33:3). This day is a MEMORIAL, not a shadow of the cross. A memorial of deliverance from Egypt, which pictures deliverance from sin!

“To keep us constantly in the MEMORY of the great fact that, having had our sins FORGIVEN by Christ’s blood (pictured by the 14th) we are not to stop here and remain in sin, but to go out away from sin!… Now, if these texts [beginning in Exodus 12:14] apply to the 15th, not the 14th, as they assuredly do… then is the Passover established FOREVER? Indeed it is! But these texts above refer to the FEAST and not the Passover. In the paragraph beginning Exodus 12:21 the PASSOVER is again referred to, and verse 24 establishes it FOREVER.”

In addition, Exodus 13:3, 4, 6, and 9 clarifies again, that the FEAST refers to the FIRST [and the LAST] Day of Unleavened Bread, NOT the Passover. We read: “And Moses said to the people: ‘Remember THIS DAY in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. NO LEAVENED BREAD SHALL BE EATEN. ON THIS DAY you are going out, in the month Abib… Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the SEVENTH day shall be a FEAST to the LORD [that is, another holy convocation. Both on the first and on the seventh day, there are to be holy convocations, and that is why both these days are called “FEAST” days]… It shall be a SIGN to you on your hand and as a MEMORIAL between your eyes, that the Lord’s LAW may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you OUT OF EGYPT.”

Paul reminded the Corinthians that “Christ, our PASSOVER, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). He went on to say: “Therefore let us KEEP the FEAST [of Unleavened Bread], not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (verse 8).

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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

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