Update 168


To Obey Is Better

On Saturday, November 20, 2004, Dave Harris will be giving the sermon, titled, “To Obey Is Better.”

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.

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Circumstantial Evidence


Many of the most “brilliant” minds of our time do not believe that God exists or that we can really know that He exists. Most of their doubt comes from the fact that they have not seen, heard or touched Him. In other words they have no empirical evidence; that which is proved or derived from observation or experiment.

Yet, what is ignored is the preponderance of circumstantial evidence or indirect proof of God’s existence. Perhaps when we hear the term circumstantial evidence we have a tendency to not give it credibility because of the way in which it is bandied about on television and in other mediums.

If we were to go to sleep tonight and wake up the next morning to find that the whole city or county had a foot of snow covering it, we would think that we had direct proof that it snowed. But this isn’t the case. Even though there was no snow when we went to sleep and a foot when we woke up, this would still be circumstantial evidence. We didn’t see it snow so we couldn’t testify to the fact that it did, BUT it would be entirely ludicrous to assume otherwise.

In the same way this is a case for the existence of God.

Around us is all the proof that we will ever need that God does indeed exist. In Romans 1:20 it states, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

God says there is no legitimate reason that any one can give when Christ returns for being an atheist, because of the overwhelming evidence that was there all along. The more technically sophisticated man becomes, the more we are able to see just that, in the most minute, as well as the most grand of scale. With each advancement we make we can see more and more that there is a great design too incredible to have happened by chance.

If anyone saw a watch they would assume that someone produced the watch. When they look at its design and careful organization they would have to conclude that it required a designer. Even though they did not see it produced, its mere existence proves this.

As we look at the entire universe in its magnificence, the only conclusion that we can come to is that this creation and its design points to God who designed and created it. There truly are too many illustrations and occurrences of the fact that God exists to enumerate and expand on them here. However, if we have an eye to see, His handiwork, His circumstantial evidence will declare that He does exist without a doubt.

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Ohio Recount?

WorldNetDaily reported on November 15, 2004, that “Ohio Recount” is all “but certain.” The article pointed out:

“Two third-party presidential candidates say they’ve raised enough money to file for an official recount of the vote in Ohio, which President Bush won on Nov. 2 and where some observers claim there were irregularities and fraud in the election… Bush won Ohio by a vote of 2,796,147 to John Kerry’s 2,659,664. Despite reports of irregularities and outstanding provisional ballots, Kerry conceded Ohio and the election on Nov. 3.”

The article also stated that once the vote is certified (on December 3 at the latest), the candidates can file for the recount.

Christians No Right to Vote?

WorldNetDaily published a rather strange article on November 15, stating: “Speaking in the aftermath of the presidential election, Democrat radio host Garrison Keillor says he is on a quest to take away the right of born-again Christians to vote, saying their citizenship is actually in heaven, not the United States.” The article explained that Keillor made his comments in jest. However, he correctly addressed the problem with true Christians voting in Presidential elections. That is why we have consistently stressed that true Christians should not vote in Presidential elections. We are to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ, and of a better world to come. Ambassadors don’t vote in foreign elections. Neither should we.

France an Enemy of the US?

On November 18, 2004, WorldNetDaily published an article with the following headline: “French nation is U.S. enemy?” The article stated: “A new poll reveals most Americans do not hold the nation of France in high regard, with almost a third believing the European country is an enemy of the U.S. in the war on terror… The numbers stand in stark contrast to feelings about Great Britain… More than four out of five Americans – 83 percent – view the UK as an ally in the war on terror… Germany, Russia, and the United Nations fall in between the extremes. Forty-four percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the U.N. while 42 percent have an unfavorable view… Forty percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Germany, while 34 percent have an unfavorable view. For Russia, the numbers are 33 percent favorable and 38 percent unfavorable.”

In a related article which addressed the “love-hate” relationship between France and the USA, as well as Great Britain, Reuters stated on November 17: “Last year’s U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and ousting of President Saddam Hussein has, if anything, made the world more dangerous, French President Jacques Chirac said on the eve of a state visit to key U.S. ally Britain… Chirac, whose strong opposition to the war prompted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to dismiss France as part of ‘Old Europe,’ has questioned what Blair has gained from his unstinting support of the invasion… In a newspaper interview Tuesday, Chirac said he had urged Britain before the invasion to press President Bush to revive the Middle East peace process in return for London’s support for the war. ‘Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see much in return,’ Chirac was quoted as saying in the Times. ‘I am not sure that it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favors systematically.’… Blair’s support for the war prompted bitter faction fighting inside his ruling Labor Party and torpedoed his public approval ratings ahead of elections expected by mid-2005. A poll in the Independent newspaper Wednesday showed that 64 percent of the British public believed that having good relations with continental Europe was more important than maintaining close ties with Washington… The French leader questioned whether Britain could act as a bridge between the United States and Europe to help heal the transatlantic rift.”

An additional article by Reuters stated on November 16, 2004:

“In other remarks that will sting the Bush Administration, he [Chirac] again outlined his vision of a ‘multipolar’ world in which a united Europe would be equal with the US, and mocked Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, for his division of Europe into old and new… [Chirac also said:] ‘I am not sure, with America as it is these days, that it would be easy for someone, even the British, to be an honest broker.'”

New U.S. Secretary of State

When the news was received that Colin Powell resigned and Condoleezza Rice would replace him in the office of Secretary of State, the reactions, especially in Europe, were mixed. Associated Press wrote on November 16, 2004:

“In Europe, it’s hard for some to think of Condoleezza Rice – Colin Powell’s expected replacement as U.S. secretary of state – without recalling the low points in trans-Atlantic relations that grew out of the war in Iraq. After all, it was Rice who raised eyebrows last year with her Machiavellian suggestions for how Washington should treat European opponents of the U.S.-led invasion. ‘Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia,’ Rice was widely quoted as telling associates in the spring of 2003… Many in Europe, Asia and the Middle East believed Rice will add a more conservative, hawkish bent to U.S. diplomacy after Powell, seen by many as a moderating voice in a Cabinet of hawks… World leaders, meanwhile, lavished praise on Powell, hailing his efforts to build international consensus. To many, particularly in Europe and China, Powell was seen as a multilateralist influence in a U.S. administration seen as too willing to act on its own.”

In a related article, Associated Press added on November 16, 2004: “German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who was visiting New York, told reporters that Powell knew Germany well because of the years he spent there in the U.S. military and said the government had an ‘excellent’ and ‘friendly’ relationship with him. ‘I want to thank and wish him the best for the future,’ said Fischer, whose government opposed the war. ‘We operated very closely even in the most critical issues.'”

Ethiopia and Italy

Reuters reported on November 16: “Italy finally looks set to heal a feud with Ethiopia by returning one of its most cherished relics, the obelisk of Axum, taken by fascist invaders almost 70 years ago… The 24-meter obelisk, believed to be at least 2,000 years old, was split into three and hauled off when fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1937. After the fall of the dictator Benito Mussolini and his nascent Italian ’empire,’ Rome signed an accord in 1947 agreeing to return stolen relics and art works to Ethiopia. Another accord was signed in 1956 and another in 1997, but the obelisk with its geometric designs remained in Rome, in front of what had been the Ministry of Italian Africa. Two years ago, Ethiopia threatened to sever diplomatic ties, eliciting a fresh pledge… A national holiday has been promised for the day it is finally returned home. ‘Until the obelisk is returned to Ethiopia, Mussolini will be laughing at us from his grave,’ said Richard Pankhurst, a British historian living in Addis Ababa who has led the demands for the return of Ethiopian treasures.”

EU, USA and Iran

AFP reported on November 16, 2004: “The EU deal that got Iran to freeze key nuclear activities puts the United States on the spot since Washington must now decide whether to continue confronting Iran as an enemy or join Europe in trying to engage it… The United States charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons and wants Tehran to be brought before the Security Council. But Iran’s agreement to suspend uranium enrichment to prove its peaceful intentions, and the IAEA’s inability to find a ‘smoking gun’ proving Tehran’s alleged atomic weapons intentions after a nearly two-year investigation, leave the United States with almost no chance of convincing the 35 member states of the IAEA’s board of governors to punish Iran. The pressure, in fact, will be on the United States to change its policy.”

However, the Washington Post stated on November 18, 2004, that “the United States has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon, further evidence that the Islamic republic is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Wednesday. Separately, an Iranian opposition exile group charged in Paris that Iran is enriching uranium at a secret military facility unknown to U.N. weapons inspectors. Iran has denied seeking to build nuclear weapons… Powell’s comments came just three days after an agreement between Iran and three European countries — Britain, France and Germany — designed to limit Tehran’s ability to divert its peaceful nuclear energy program for military use. The primary focus of the deal, accepted by Iran on Sunday and due to go into effect Nov. 22, is a stipulation that Iran indefinitely suspend its uranium enrichment program… Iran has long been known to have a missile program, while denying that it was seeking a nuclear bomb. Powell seemed to be suggesting that efforts not previously disclosed were underway to arm missiles with nuclear warheads.”

Russia’s Secret Weapons

Associated Press reported on November 17, 2004, that “President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is developing a new form of nuclear missile unlike those held by other countries, news agencies reported… No details were immediately available, but Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier this month that Russia expected to test-fire a mobile version of its Topol-M ballistic missile this year and that production of the new weapon could be commissioned in 2005. News reports have also said Russia is believed to be developing a next-generation heavy nuclear missile that could carry up to 10 nuclear warheads weighing a total of 4.4 tons… Earlier this year, a senior Defense Ministry official was quoted as telling news agencies that Russia had developed a weapon that could make the United States’ proposed missile-defense system useless. Details were not given, but military analysts said the claimed new weapon could be a hypersonic cruise missile or maneuverable ballistic missile warheads.” In a related article, A.P. pointed out: “The White House reacted cautiously Wednesday to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that his country is developing a nuclear missile ‘of the kind that other nuclear powers do not and will not have.’ [White House press secretary Scott] McClellan suggested that close ties between Bush and Putin makes alarm unnecessary – but doesn’t eliminate Washington’s concern.”

Fastest Airplane

AFP reported on November 17, 2004: “A US hypersonic experimental scramjet, the X-43A, raced into the record books, flying at a world-record speed nearly 10 times faster than sound, NASA confirmed… The 230-million-dollar (177-million-euro) project spans 20 years of research. Other countries, including France and Japan, are also exploring scramjet technology. The US Air Force is seeking to develop an airplane capable of reaching any point on the globe in under two hours while transporting six tonnes of bombs or cruise missiles.”

Locusts in Egypt

Reuters reported on November 17, 2004, that “Swarms of pink locusts swept through Cairo on Wednesday that recalled the plague of biblical Egypt, flying high above tall towers and scaring pedestrians who stamped on them or ran for cover. The swarms arrived from neighboring Libya after devouring the countryside in central and western Africa in past months… The locust swarms have already traveled on the wind from North Africa to Cyprus. They can form swarms of tens of millions, occupying hundreds of square kilometers (miles). In the Old Testament, locusts were the eighth of 10 plagues which God brought on the Egyptians before Pharaoh, their ruler, relented and let the enslaved children of Israel go.”

EU and Turkey

In an article published by Yaleglobal Online in May, the question was raised whether Turkey might or might not join the EU. It was stated: “Critics also claim that the entry of a country as big as Turkey will destabilize current EU power politics, giving the country as many votes as current EU giant Germany in the bloc’s decision-making machinery. In fact, on current demographic trends, by 2020, Turkey, with a population of about 70 million could have more people than Germany, which currently counts 80 million people. Given its size and still largely under-developed economy, there is also concern that Turkish accession will mean additional burdens on already cash-strapped EU budgets.”

In March, the same organization posted an article, pointing out that the German “finance ministry published a study concluding that Turkey is not ready to join the European Union. ‘Despite major reforms, it is unlikely that the country will be able to fulfill the required political criteria by the EU Commission’s next progress report,’ the study says. The report also says that Turkey would cost the European Union around EUR14 billion ($17 billion) without a major overhaul of Brussels’ subsidy rules. A recent Emnid survey shows that 47 percent of Germans are for, and 47 percent against, Turkish accession, while other surveys have said that as much as 59 percent of the population is against letting the country become a full member.”

Presently, most European governments are favoring full-fledged EU membership of Turkey. Based on Biblical prophecy, it appears that Turkey will not become one of the final ten “core members” of the EU, as mentioned in Revelation 17:12-13. On the other hand, Turkey — or Edom — will play an important role in the future, and will find itself in hostility with the modern nations of Israel, as the book of Obadiah clearly reveals.

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You teach that only ministers are to appoint members to the ministry. However, doesn't Acts 14:23 show that the entire congregation ordained ministers?

Actually, Acts 14:23 teaches the exact opposite. Looking at the context, we find that the ones who “appointed elders in every church” (verse 23) were “the apostles Barnabas and Paul” (verse 14; compare, too, Acts 15:2).

As we have pointed out before, for instance, in the Q&A of Update #147 (June 11, 2004), God used ordained ministers to appoint others to the ministry (Titus 1:5). Titus was a minister. He is also referred to as a brother. After all, a true minister is a servant and a spiritual brother. This is why Paul could call Titus a brother, but this does not mean that Titus was not also ordained to the ministry. The Bible shows that ministers or elders are ordained or appointed by other ministers or elders. The laying on of hands through the ministry is very important in this regard (1 Timothy 5:22).

Some feel that the Church does not need any ministers, or that every Church member is a minister. This is simply not true. James tells us that sick persons are to call for the elders of the Church to anoint them with oil and pray over them. This is not talking about unordained brethren. In this regard, please read our free booklet, “Sickness and Healing — What the Bible Tells Us.” Also, baptism and the laying on of hands are to be done through the ministry — otherwise, no promise of the receipt of the Holy Spirit is given. Only when Peter and other ministers placed their hands on baptized people, did they receive the Holy Spirit. For more information, read our free booklet, “Baptism — a Requirement for Salvation.”

We read in Ephesians 4:11 that Christ has given the ministry to the Church, “for the equipping of the saints” (verse 12). Verse 11 speaks about certain ranks, offices and functions within the ministry, including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Paul referred to himself on several occasions as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher (1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11).

God has set in place a ministry (ordained elders), through which He administers the Church. The Church is clearly not run as a democracy. This is not to say, however, that the ministry is to run the Church in a dictatorial or autocratic fashion — rather, as shepherds concerned for the welfare of the sheep, the ministry is to always have the good of the flock in mind. The ministry is well advised to consult with the membership before decisions affecting the members are made, including decisions pertaining to ordination. This does not mean, however, that the ministry is conducting its affairs by vote, but it is always good to obtain and receive a multitude of counsel.

The concept that an entire congregation “ordains” or “appoints” someone to the ministry is not biblical. We don’t read anywhere that Church decisions were reached through a majority vote of the membership. Note how it was done in Acts 15. The Church “agreed” with the decision of the ministry, but by that time, the decision was already made, and when the decision was made, non-ordained members were not even present.

It is claimed by some that the word” ordained” or “appointed,” as it is used in Acts 14:23, allegedly conveys the meaning of “voting.” The Concordant Literal New Testament renders this verse: “Now, selecting elders for them according to the ecclesia, praying with fastings, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

However, this is NOT an accurate rendition of the literal Greek. “The Englishman’s Greek New Testament…An Interlinear Literal Translation,” renders Acts 14:23, word-for-word, as follows: “And having chosen FOR THEM elders IN every assembly, having prayed with fastings they committed them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.”

Again, we see that Paul and Barnabas “chose” FOR THE CHURCH elders IN every congregation or assembly. The word for “ordained,” “appointed” or “chosen,” as it is translated from the original Greek in Acts 14:23, is defined by “Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible,” as “to elect by stretching out the hand.” Note again that it is Paul and Barnabas who do the “electing” — not the entire congregation. There remains no room for contending that the assembly voted on the matter. The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W.E. Vine (under “appoint”) explains that the Greek word does not have the meaning here of voting, as the same Greek word is also used for God in Acts 10:40-41, as follows: “Him [Jesus Christ] God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses CHOSEN before by God.” Vine explains that the Greek word in Acts 14:23, translated as “ordained,” “appointed” or “chosen,” refers to the “appointment of elders by apostolic missionaries in the various churches which they revisited.”

God is not the author of confusion, but of order. He has designated that the ministry is to ordain or appoint qualified members to the ministry. This is the clear teaching of the Bible, which we must uphold and practice.

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Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock

A new member letter was sent out this week. Dave Harris discusses in it the present state of affairs of our countries, and the continued obligation of God’s Church. You can find a copy of the member letter at: Letters to the Brethren.
A new StandingWatch program was recorded last week and placed on the Web, titled, “Balanced Living.”

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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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