Update 191


The Believers / The Fall of Jericho

Saturday, April 30, 2005, is the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. Dave Harris will give the sermon in the morning from Colorado. His sermon is titled, “The Believers.” Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon from San Diego. His sermon is titled, “The Fall of Jericho.”

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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God Desires Obedience!

by Edwin Pope

This week, we have been observing God’s Spring Festival Season picturing the requirements of God that we come out of sin — that we eliminate sin from our lives! Of course, we understand we must come to the place where we realize our need for an unleavened attitude in our lives 365 days of the year.

God speaks to us through Moses in Deuteronomy 10:12, where he asks: “What does the LORD require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

If we can truly say that this requirement of the eternal God is our desire, and if we are truly working on fulfilling this requirement in our lives each day God blesses us with the gift of life, then we are surely in the process of fulfilling the meaning of these Days of Unleavened Bread!

How diligently do we pursue this requirement of our God? Suppose Jesus had approached His responsibility to become the “perfect sacrifice” in a manner similar to many of us, the “called out” brethren? Of course, since His desire was in pleasing the Father and in providing a way for you and me, even as weak as we are, to become qualified for the Kingdom, Christ never let up for a second in opposing all of the attacks Satan and this world put on Him.

We understand that we owe the possibility of inheriting eternal life to the fact that He was always wholehearted in achieving the responsibility He so graciously accepted. How often do we think of our obligation to God and Christ and to our fellow servants in Christ when we find ourselves being overcome with petty grievances and misunderstandings with one another — because of just plain self-righteousness.

Once this type of attitude takes hold, the tendency is to then begin accusing one another and judging one another, and allowing anger and frustration to consume our thoughts and our minds, and to begin pulling away from our brethren! We know at such a time our actions should rightly be to drop to our knees and ask our God for repentance for such ungodly conduct. But many times we allow our anger and frustration to take hold and this attitude becomes prolonged to the point of continual sin against our God and our brethren.

These are the Days of Unleavened Bread. We are to be concentrating on getting such sinful thoughts and acts out of our lives. We all understand that sin begins in the mind and, therefore, it is in the mind where we need to begin rooting the sin out!

Let us draw near to our God during these days and let us ask Him for His help in our effort to achieve the desire of our hearts — to be obedient to Him!

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More on the New Pope

The Bible predicts that the last pope, at the time of Christ’s return, will work closely together with a strong political and military leader of German descent. This will occur at a time, when continental Europe has united (but quite likely without the UK), and when the Jews will have begun to bring sacrifices in Jerusalem — quite possibly at a newly-erected temple. We are told that the final pope will strongly emphasize Catholicism, including the concept that he is ruling “in the place of” God, as God’s representative on earth, and that he will be able to influence people all over the world, through his miracle-working powers, convincing them to follow the political leader.

Could the new pope be the prophesied last one?

We are presenting the readers with the following facts and news reports:

Bild Online reported on April 22 about comments made by Cardinal Ratzinger in the past, before he became the new pope. Ratzinger had stated his clear position against the pill and condoms; and that God was mysterious and distant, even for the pope. Ratzinger defended the inquisition, but voiced his opinion that there had been some wrong judgments in the history of the inquisition. Ratzinger made it clear that Catholic priests must not conduct communion with other denominations. He had also stated that communion must not be granted to divorced and remarried Catholics; but according to La Rupubblica, this position is now being reconsidered by the pope. Ratzinger had stated that there is no time and chance for anyone, so that everything is guided by God and predestined. He made it, of course, very clear that priests are not allowed to marry.

Bild reported on April 23 that a postcard from 2000 surfaced, purportedly written by Ratzinger, stating that the postcard was sent “by the future pope Benedict XVI.” Experts say that they are 99% sure that the card is genuine, while the Vatican says that it is a 100% forgery.

Bild also reported that a painting or a statute of Christ, which is placed in the pope’s domicile, shows the facial figures of Pope John Paul II.

The Guardian pointed out that the parents of Ratzinger are named Joseph and Mary.

The Independent reported on April 23, 2005, that the pope’s “first papal Mass, containing a message of openness and reconciliation, was delivered on April 20, Hitler’s birthday.”

AFP reported on April 23 that “Pope Benedict XVI launched a media charm offensive a day ahead of his solemn inauguration, telling journalists in four languages that thanks to them the ‘entire world’ had been focused on the Roman Catholic Church.”

News Telegraph stated on April 25, 2005:

“Cardinal Ratzinger particularly infuriated Anglicans five years ago with a document, Dominus Jesus, which asserted the superiority of Catholicism over other faiths and described Protestantism as ‘deficient.’ He also angered them in 1998 when he claimed that the Catholic Church’s refusal to accept Anglican priests as validly ordained was effectively an infallible teaching.”

The Independent wrote on April 20, 2005:

“By choosing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope, the cardinals in the Catholic Church were opting for down-the-line continuity in the harsh doctrine and philosophy for which the Church has become known and against all dissent by Catholics… The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church have elected as Pope perhaps the most controversial, divisive and reactionary of all the plausible candidates.”

On April 22, 2005, the paper reported: “Ratzinger’s election will also raise questions about the dubious role played by the Catholic Church during the Nazi era. The extent to which leading Catholics felt obliged to reach compromises with the regime is outlined by the stance taken by Ratzinger’s mentor, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, one of the Pope’s most important early influences. Documented evidence shows that the cardinal visited Hitler’s mountain retreat during the 1930s and was entertained to lunch by the Führer in person. During their meeting, Von Faulhaber is on record as telling Hitler that the Church saw him as an ‘authority chosen by God, to whom we owe respect.'”

The reporting of the English press has angered the Germans — as vividly expressed by the boulevard tabloid Bild (which could be compared with the National Enquirer in the USA). The daily wrote with apparent indignation: “Britain libels German pope,” and, “Shut endlich up” (that is, “Shut up finally.”) The paper, which had formerly strongly criticized Ratzinger, now claimed that the British agitated against “our” pope.

Japan Today.com stated correctly that “national pride reigns in Germany.” It has also been noticed that in recent days, the overall German reporting, which was originally very critical, has become more and more friendly toward the new pope.

The Independent even wondered on April 23, 2005, whether the election of the German pope could influence German politics and the German government. The paper stated:

“Ratzinger is close to the Christian Democrats, particularly former Chancellor Helmut Kohl… His presence… will be felt in the bitterly contested elections next month in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the Christian Democrats hope to wrest control of the state from Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democratic party. Such a victory could, in turn, threaten the government’s survival. The glow from the Vatican may give the Christian Democrats a decisive boost. That would be interesting. It would also demonstrate that a German pope is a complex issue, in more ways than one.”

According to an article in Hamburger Abendblatt, of April 7, 2005, “bishops and cardinals from the Federal Republic exercise more power than ever in the Vatican… [They are] disproportionately well-represented in important decision-making positions.”

In a related article, the Independent said: “Benedict [XVI], even more than his predecessor, saw the history of Europe through the lens of Catholicism… Like John Paul, Benedict, while he was a cardinal, felt it both his right and duty to intervene in European politics, injecting Christianity into public life because of Europe’s religious past.”

The Times stated on April 23, 2005:

“Rome is gearing up for another huge influx of pilgrims to celebrate the enthronement of Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow… The enthronement ceremony, which dates from medieval times, used to involve a papal tiara, or crown, being placed on the new Pope’s head, but this was sold during Paul VI’s papacy to raise money for the poor on the ground that ‘monarchical’ symbolism was inappropriate to the modern age… [Now he] sits on the papal throne before a plain altar flanked by the Gospels in Latin and Greek.” The paper continued to explain that the new pope is addressed by the Cardinal Deacon, in Latin, as follows: “May you reign gloriously through many years of earthly light.”

The paper also pointed out:

“The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, said the Pope had also invited him to attend the enthronement. He was unable to do so because it coincided with the Jewish Passover, but the invitation had brought ‘surprise, pleasure and hope for the future.’ The Pope had sent him a letter invoking ‘the help of the Almighty’ to ‘strengthen collaboration with the sons and daughters of the Jewish people.'”

Der Spiegel Online stated on April 25, 2005, that the pope arrived late for his first public meeting with German pilgrims. He said, jokingly, that as a German, one must be punctual, but that he had already become Italian. He told the German youth that he was excited about visiting the world youth day in Cologne, Germany — his first trip as pope. He also stated that he has remained Bavarian, even as the bishop of Rome.

The Associated Press reported on April 26, 2005: “Benedict XVI is not just German — he’s Bavarian. ‘Catholicism i
s part of the Bavarian identity and culture,’ said Rainer Kampling, a theologian at Free University in Berlin. ‘It’s not just religion, it’s a part of living, a part of the family.’ Germany as a whole is largely secular and has as many Protestants — 34 percent of the population — as it does Catholics. In Bavaria, however, even for those who aren’t particularly religious, Catholicism sets the tone. All the major holidays are religious holidays, and a crucifix is a typical wall decoration in public schools.”

AFP reported on April 27, 2005: “Pope Benedict XVI stressed Europe’s ‘inalienable’ Christian roots in the first general audience of his pontificate… Speaking to a joyous crowd of 15,000 pilgrims, the new pope revealed he had chosen the name Benedict to follow the ideals of Benedict XV ‘a courageous and authentic prophet of peace’ who led the Catholic Church during the dark years of World War I. He said he also chose the name because Saint Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order, is one of the patron saints of Europe. ‘Saint Benedict is therefore much venerated in Germany and in particular, in Bavaria, my native land; constituting a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe, and a strong call to the inalienable Christian roots of its culture and civilization.'”

Haider’s New Party

Der Spiegel Online reported on April 11, 2005:

“By splitting his party from above [that is, from the top — Haider — down], Joerg Haider forestalled his own loss of power and put himself back on the national stage of Austrian politics last week. But now the country’s government once again finds itself at the mercy of the right-wing populist… Haider is now threatening to bring down Schuessel and his entire cabinet in a vacuum of humiliation and disgrace…. In signing the document, the cabinet ministers who are members of Haider’s orange movement, as well as the future party’s members of parliament in the National Council, will be committing themselves to continue to support the coalition and not jeopardize the EU presidency. This isn’t a problem for Joerg Haider, who says he has always supported Europe. In fact, he says, he’s in favor of Turkey joining the EU. But then a more threatening note creeps into the Carinthian native’s voice, as he adds that he has no intention of allowing himself to be muzzled. It’s always been that way, and that’s the way things will stay.”

Another Nuclear Disaster?

Pravda reported this week about the possibility that “A serious catastrophe is likely to occur on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 2006. The disaster may become even more serious than the world-known blast of the station, which occurred on April 26th 1986. Specialists installed a sarcophagus around the nuclear reactor that year — the sarcophagus was supposed to protect the world from the harmful influence of radiation coming from the remnants of the hazardous production for 20 years. The warranty period has already elapsed: Chernobyl might become the center of another ecological disaster next year. Experts say that the protective housing of the reactor may collapse — the destruction of the nuclear storage might lead to lamentable consequences… No one knows what is happening with 20 tons of nuclear fuel inside the construction. According to the Versia newspaper, the technical condition of the sarcophagus has worsened considerably according to the results of a recent external examination, which specialists of the nuclear power plant conduct on a regular basis. They particularly said that cracks appeared in the walls, whereas the ceiling of the construction slumped.”

Hamas and Jerusalem

According to a report of WorldNetDaily of April 26, 2005, “Hamas warned yesterday against any American attempt to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying such a move, currently being debated by the U.S. Congress, would spark immediate violence throughout the Middle East… Hamas also announced yesterday it will ignore calls from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to disarm following legislative elections July 17… The Palestinian chairman gave no indication he would forcefully disarm the group, as both the U.S. and Israel have demanded of him.”

The United States of Europe

The Associated Press reported on April 27, 2005, that “The leaders of France and Germany joined forces Tuesday to try to save Europe’s embattled constitution, warning French voters they could set back European ambitions if they reject the charter in a referendum… Chirac said a ‘no’ would leave France on the sidelines of a Europe it helped to build. ‘France would find itself on the edge of the platform as the train went past,’ he said. ‘If we vote “no,” we will be responsible for interrupting 50 years of European construction.’ Schroeder promised that his government will do everything possible to back French ratification. ‘We will reproach ourselves later if we let this historic opportunity to advance Europe slip by,’ Schroeder said. Germany, the most populous EU member with 82 million people, is submitting the charter to lawmakers for approval and does not plan a referendum.”

On the other hand, even a French “no” would not necessarily mean the end, for the foreseeable future, of a United Europe. As the EUobserver reported on April 22, 2005, “EU member states should press ahead with efforts to ratify the Constitution even if France says ‘no’ in its 29 May referendum, the European Commission has urged…. Brussels pointed out that an appendix to the draft treaty already contains a mechanism for dealing with ratification problems… ‘The declaration [in the appendix] is not legally binding, but it leaves the door open for this Constitution to be approved even if some of the countries reject it,’ EU legal expert, Klaus Heeger, commented. In practise, this would lead to a MULTI-SPEED EU, with the new treaty having a legally binding force in some states but not in others.”

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Will an aborted fetus live again?

We understand from God’s Word that man does not have an immortal soul. Rather, man is a mortal soul! (See Genesis 2:7; Psalm 146:3-4; Psalm 104:29, Authorized Version throughout, unless otherwise noted. Compare our free booklet, “Do You Have an Immortal Soul?”) Thus we must understand that at death, the soul is dead. It has no inherent immortality in it. Christ said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6). Thus man is flesh; of the dust of the ground. And when he dies, he returns to dust. We also see that, as with mankind, this same fate befalls animals (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20). In Ecclesiastes 3:21 we find these words: “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Yes, when a man dies: “…the dust [shall] return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Although both humans and animals have a spirit, the spirit in man is quite different from the animal spirit. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:11, that a man only knows and understands “…the things of a man,” because he has a spirit in him. He would not understand “…save the spirit of man which is in him… even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” It takes the spirit in man to understand the things man does in this life. The animal spirit does not reveal such knowledge. And it takes God’s Spirit in a man to understand the things of God. For more information on the little-understood Biblical concept of the spirit in man, and God’s Holy Spirit, please read our free booklets, “The Theory of Evolution–A Fairy Tale for Adults?” and “Are You Already Born Again?”

But exactly when does this spirit in man enter into a human being? At one time, the Church felt that this occurs at birth, when the human being takes his first breath of air outside his mother’s womb. The Church used for this conclusion the analogy of Adam’s creation, when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). It was later concluded that Adam’s creation was quite different from the way that man comes into existence today; and that man receives the spirit in man earlier, at the time of conception. But for what reasons was this change in thinking made?

Several Scriptures support this change in understanding, which was made by the Church under Herbert Armstrong after a detailed study of the Scriptures. Certain of these Scriptures are cited, herein.

1) David said that God knew him while still in the womb. Psalm 22:9-10 says: “But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” Since God knew him in the womb, this suggests that God had given him the human spirit while still in the womb.

2) Isaiah was inspired to write in Isaiah 49:1: “…The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.” The same conclusion applies as under #1.

3) The LORD is quoted from Jeremiah 1:5, as follows: “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” This also seems to suggest that God gave Jeremiah the human spirit at the time of conception – before He actually began to form him in his mother’s womb.

4) In speaking of Jacob in Hosea 12:3, God says: “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God.” We read in Genesis 25:22 that “the children STRUGGLED TOGETHER within her”; and Genesis 25:26 states that Jacob “took hold on Esau’s heel” — that is, he did not want Esau to come out first. As we saw, Hosea 12:3 clarifies that Jacob had already taken Esau’s heel “in the womb.” It is also interesting that some translations (Elberfelder Bible; Lamsa; Luther; Zuercher) render Hosea 12:3 in this way: “He DECEIVED his brother in his mother’s womb…” Others translate this verse as follows: “In the womb he tried to supplant [or, supplanted] his brother…” (NRSV; REB; NAB; Tanakh; Moffat). Regardless of which translation we use, they all seem to indicate motivation through the human spirit.

5) Speaking of John the Baptist, we read in Luke 1:15. “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy [Spirit], even from his mother’s womb.” Since he had the Holy Spirit, while still in his mother’s womb, he must also have had the human spirit, while still in his mother’s womb; that is, prior to his birth. In verses 41-44 of this chapter of Luke, we read: “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy [Spirit]: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” Again, there appears to be motivation through the human spirit by – in John’s case – the power of God’s Holy Spirit within him.

6) When the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph in a dream, he said to him: “… fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy [Spirit]” (Matthew 1:20). The angel was giving to Joseph the understanding that the LIFE which was within Mary was of God! Christ already “lived” in His mother’s womb, prior to His human birth. As with John the Baptist, Jesus Christ had the Holy Spirit from His mother’s womb, beginning with the very moment of His conception. Unlike John, who had only a measure of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ had the Holy Spirit in its fullness, without measure (compare John 3:34). Since He had the Holy Spirit in His mother’s womb, He must have had the human spirit in his mother’s womb as well.

It is therefore Biblically sound to conclude that a human being receives from God the spirit in man at the time of conception within the mother’s womb, thus giving him what we understand as human intellect. (Unlike Christ and John, who received the Holy Spirit in the mother’s womb, today, we receive the Holy Spirit as adults, after our conversion, repentance, and baptism).

Therefore, based on the Scriptures we have examined, it appears a fetus already receives the spirit in man at conception, and if it is aborted at any time prior to birth, the spirit in man will return to God. At the time of the resurrection, God will place the spirit of the (aborted) fetus in a newly created body. This means that the fetus will receive the opportunity to live again, through a resurrection from the dead. The resurrected child will then have the opportunity to qualify to enter into the Kingdom of God, which opportunity has been given to us today. For more information on this astonishing aspect of God’s plan, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

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Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program is intended to be recorded tomorrow, addressing the potential prophetic significance of the election of the new pope.

Our new booklet on the future of the USA and Great Britain has entered the second review cycle.

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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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