Update 206


Take Heed!

On August 13, 2005, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Take Heed!”

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

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The Time is NOW!

by Norbert Link

Recently, I was asked whether true Christians will have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, at His return, to give account for the things done in this life, whether good or bad. The answer is clearly yes. Scriptures like 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10-12 make this point very obvious. Even though we are told, in 1 Peter 4:17, that the time for our judgment has already begun today, it will not be completed until after Christ’s return.

What will that moment be like–for you and me? Christ warns us that we have to give account for EVERY IDLE WORD that we may speak in this life (Matthew 12:36-37). We won’t be able to hide anything, when we stand before Christ (Hebrews 4:13). God will bring EVERY WORK into judgment, including every SECRET thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

I don’t want to explain here, how, exactly, we will give account to Christ, even though we will already be spirit beings at that time, if we have qualified for eternal life. Our free booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God,” addresses this aspect in much detail. What I want to emphasize today is, how we will FEEL when we stand in front of Christ, surrounded by His mighty angels and many of our brethren who will have “put on” immortality, just as we have (1 Corinthians 15:53). Will we confidently give account — or will it be with fear and trembling? Will we have boldness in the day of judgment (1 John 4:17), because we have lived the way of love for God and man (verse 18)? Or will we be afraid of what we will hear from Christ — knowing that we did not do as well as we should have done?

When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, our fate is sealed. Then it will be too late to make amends. The time is NOW to do that. The time is NOW to REPENT and obtain God’s forgiveness–to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). The time is NOW to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). The time is NOW to make certain that we will receive a FULL reward (2 John 8). Christ will soon come back to bring us our reward according to our work and labor, at the resurrection of the just (Revelation 22:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Luke 14:13-14). We decide today how great that reward will be, by the way we live. When we turn to God and change our way of living–that is, when we purify ourselves, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3); and when we live righteously, just as He is righteous (1 John 3:7); then we won’t need to be ashamed when the time of our accounting has arrived (1 John 2:28). Sins, repented of and forgiven by God, won’t be remembered by Him in the day of judgment (Jeremiah 31:34).

How are we doing today? If YOU were your own judge, what would YOU say? Are you happy with how you are doing? Or is there room for improvement? And if there is, NOW is the time to get busy.

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The BOMB Is Still ALIVE!!!

On August 6, 2005, The Associated Press reported:

“Hiroshima marked the 60th anniversary of the first atomic bomb attack Saturday with prayers and water for the dead and a call by the mayor for nuclear powers to abandon their arsenals and stop ‘jeopardizing human survival.’… ‘Many people around the world have succumbed to the feeling that there is nothing we can do,’ he said. ‘Within the United Nations, nuclear club members use their veto power to override the global majority and pursue their selfish objectives.’…

“Officials estimate that about 140,000 people were killed instantly or died within a few months after the Enola Gay dropped its deadly payload over the city, which then had a population of about 350,000. Three days later, another U.S. bomber, Bock’s Car, dropped a plutonium bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, ending World War II… Hiroshima officials now put the total number of dead in this city alone at 242,437.This year, 5,373 more names were added to the list.”

As NetWorld pointed out, “The city of Hiroshima had invited governmental officials from 38 countries to participate in the memorial, including officials from the five nuclear powers–the USA, Great Britain, Russia, China and France. But only Russia sent a representative!”

Most Americans still believe that the USA did the right thing in dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Reuters reported on August 6, 2005: “[According to a telephone poll], 57 percent approved of the use of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while 38 percent said they disapproved.” USA Today wrote on August 6, 2005, that “hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions more Japanese military and civilians and U.S. military would have died if a land invasion of Japan had taken place. The A-bomb led to much deadlier nuclear weapons… The A-bomb indeed was hell for Japanese who lived in or near Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But it also was the high-water mark of WWII because it ended the hell for all others fighting that conflict.”

The BBC News also explained, in its article of August 6, 2005, that “Many commentators believe the US attack helped bring an early end to World War II in the Pacific.”

But not everyone agrees.

In their article, “The myths of Hiroshima,” which was published in the LA Times on August 5, 2005, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, co-authors of “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” paint quite a different picture. They state:

“To many Americans at the time, and still for many today, it seemed clear that the bomb had ended the war, even ‘saving’ a million lives that might have been lost if the U.S. had been required to invade mainland Japan.

“This powerful narrative took root quickly and is now deeply embedded in our historical sense of who we are as a nation. A decade ago, on the 50th anniversary, this narrative was reinforced in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution on the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first bomb. The exhibit, which had been the subject of a bruising political battle, presented nearly 4 million Americans with an officially sanctioned view of the atomic bombings that again portrayed them as a necessary act in a just war… Americans were also told that use of the bombs ‘led to the immediate surrender of Japan and made unnecessary the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands.’ But it’s not that straightforward… it was the Soviet Union’s entry into the Pacific war on Aug. 8, two days after the Hiroshima bombing, that provided the final ‘shock’ that led to Japan’s capitulation.

“The Enola Gay exhibit also repeated such outright lies as the assertion that ‘special leaflets were dropped on Japanese cities’ warning civilians to evacuate. The fact is that atomic bomb warning leaflets were dropped on Japanese cities, but only after Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been destroyed.

“The hard truth is that the atomic bombings were unnecessary. A million lives were not saved. Indeed, McGeorge Bundy, the man who first popularized this figure, later confessed that he had pulled it out of thin air in order to justify the bombings in a 1947 Harper’s magazine essay he had ghostwritten for Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.

“The bomb was dropped, as J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project, said in November 1945, on ‘an essentially defeated enemy.’ President Truman and his closest advisor, Secretary of State James Byrnes, quite plainly used it primarily to prevent the Soviets from sharing in the occupation of Japan. And they used it on Aug. 6 even though they had agreed among themselves as they returned home from the Potsdam Conference on Aug. 3 that the Japanese were looking for peace.

“These unpleasant historical facts were censored from the 1995 Smithsonian exhibit, an action that should trouble every American. When a government substitutes an officially sanctioned view for publicly debated history, democracy is diminished.”

Whether one agrees with the statements in the above article, or not, perception is sometimes stronger than fact. As the article continues to explain, the official version has “made it possible for our defense establishment to argue that atomic bombs are legitimate weapons that belong in a democracy’s arsenal… Oppenheimer understood very soon after Hiroshima that these weapons would ultimately threaten our very survival. Presciently, he even warned us against what is now our worst national nightmare–and Osama bin Laden’s frequently voiced dream–an atomic suitcase bomb smuggled into an American city: ‘Of course it could be done,’ Oppenheimer told a Senate committee, ‘and people could destroy New York.’ Ironically, Hiroshima’s myths are now motivating our enemies to attack us with the very weapon we invented. Bin Laden repeatedly refers to Hiroshima in his rambling speeches. It was, he believes, the atomic bombings that shocked the Japanese imperial government into an early surrender–and, he says, he is planning an atomic attack on the U.S. that will similarly shock us into retreating from the Mideast.”

War leads to more war, and nuclear weapons WILL be used in the next World War. To say that nuclear weapons will never be used in war is plainly wrong. They HAVE been used before–in Hiroshima and Nagasaki–and the Bible clearly shows that they WILL be used again. In fact, the coming war will threaten the very survival of man–and if God would not shorten those days, NO FLESH would be saved ALIVE (Matthew 24:22). We are living in sobering times, indeed. Will man ever learn–BEFORE it is too late?

New Avian Flu Is Coming

On August 5, 2005, the Boston Globe reported that “Russian authorities, struggling to contain an outbreak of avian flu that has killed thousands of birds in Siberia, yesterday acknowledged that a spread of the virus into Europe seems almost inevitable… health officials confirmed that the outbreak includes a strain that has been known to affect humans. Scientists fear that expansion of the virus’s geography increases the chances of a major outbreak within the human population.”

On August 10, 2005, Reuters reported about these additional facts: “A bird flu outbreak extended its reach in Russian Siberia and spread to Mongolia on Wednesday, and neighboring Kazakhstan confirmed a fowl virus found in the Central Asian state could kill humans. Officials said no people had been infected so far, but the highly potent H5N1 strain has killed over 50 people in Asia since 2003. Outbreaks in the ex-Soviet bloc raised fears the virus could infect humans and trigger a global epidemic… Some Russian health and veterinary officials have suggested migrating birds could export the virus as far away as the United States from Siberia… There are no known cases of H5N1 bird flu passing from one human to another, but some health officials fear that the virus could mutate and create a pandemic to rival the 40 million people killed by Spanish flu at the end of World War One.”

Fuel Crunch Reaches Astronomical Proportions

The Associated Press reported on August 10, 2005:

“While fliers haven’t yet had to add that problem to the list of headaches associated with air travel, it may not be far away. Airports in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada recently came within a few days–and at times within hours–of running out of jet fuel. Because of supply bottlenecks, airlines were forced to fly in extra fuel from other markets and scramble for deliveries by truck. But these are expensive, short-term fixes that do not address what airline executives consider to be the underlying problem: with passenger traffic rising above pre-9/11 levels, the nation’s aviation business is slowly outgrowing the infrastructure that fuels it. What started as routine supply tightness in these markets quickly snowballed following disruptive events that included a hurricane, a canceled fuel shipment and, ironically, the airlines’ own efforts to prevent shortages, according to several airline executives… The fuel supply woes are dogging an industry already losing billions of dollars a year in large part because of soaring fuel costs. The price of jet fuel averages $1.91 per gallon in Los Angeles, up 46 percent from a year ago, according to government data.”

West Nile Virus in San Diego

On August 4, 2005, The Union Tribune reported that “Three more dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in San Diego County, bringing the total number to five this year.” The paper continued with a rather humorous statement–if it weren’t so tragic:

“Most people infected with West Nile won’t become sick, though about 20 percent will experience flulike symptoms. About one in 150 infected people experience severe symptoms, including high fever, coma, tremors, muscle weakness and paralysis. A small percentage of them die.”

Coming Merger of Catholics and Anglicans?

On August 5, 2005, the “Church Times” published an interesting article about an agreement reached by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, pertaining to the role of the “Virgin Mary.” The article pointed out:

“A new arcic report, published this week, argues that differences in the understanding of the Virgin Mary should not divide the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches… The 60-page text, Mary: Grace and hope in Christ, brings to an end the work of the second phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC II), which first met in 1983. The report was published on Monday in Seattle, in the United States.”

Incredibly, the report tries to justify the WRONG doctrine of the “immaculate conception,” by misquoting or misapplying Scripture. [The teaching of the “immaculate conception” holds that Mary, throughout her life, including after the birth of Christ, never had a sexual relationship with any man–which is contrary to Scripture.] The report does not even attempt to justify the WRONG teaching of Mary’s assumption–which idea is also clearly in violation of Biblical teaching. The article points out:

“The statement proposes a new understanding of the immaculate conception and the assumption, in a theological framework ‘of grace and hope.’ It links Gabriel’s affirmation of Mary as ‘graced’ in Luke 1 to the immaculate conception. ‘In view of her vocation to be the mother of the Holy One (Luke 1:35), we can affirm together that Christ’s redeeming work reached back in Mary to the depths of her being, and to her earliest beginnings. This is not contrary to the teaching of scripture’…

“The Commission does not resolve what it describes as ‘problems not only for Anglicans but also for other Christians’ about the immaculate conception and the assumption, in that they were defined respectively by the Pope as having been ‘revealed by God’ (1854) and “divinely revealed” (1950). These phrases ‘reflect the theology of revelation that was dominant in the Roman Catholic Church at the time… They have to be understood today in the light of the way this teaching was refined by the Second Vatican Council’…”

What is interesting about this development is the fact that the Anglican Church–unlike the Catholic Church–is willing to compromise their beliefs in order to merge with the Catholics.

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I have some questions and concerns with daily Christian living. I know that God says in His Word that we should help the poor. Would donating my time or money to different worldly needy organizations be wrong?

The answer to your question, whether to send donations to organizations which help the poor, is one that requires a BALANCED approach. Considering the life of Jesus Christ, one must conclude that the focus of His life was in serving God. He put God FIRST. However, He also had great compassion on the poor: “‘…I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way'” (Matthew 15:32).

Consider what Jesus said about the fruit of His efforts in a similar occurrence following His miraculous feeding of another great multitude of people: “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled'” (John 6:26).

Even today, the Church is contacted by people who are seeking an association with us for purely financial gain. They are not joining with us to learn of God’s ways. Rather, they seek monetary support, and once that is not available they become offended and leave.

What Jesus ultimately gave people that had a lasting effect in their lives was the TRUTH! Here is what He said in this regard: “‘…If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'” (John 8:31-32). In this same regard, note how Peter responded to a lame man asking for alms: “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk'” (Acts 3:6). Peter acted as Jesus did, and we can gain an important principle to apply to our own circumstances–help those who immediately need our help.

God instructed the whole nation of Israel to “‘…not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother” (Deuteronomy 15:7). Then, in verse 11, God–through Moses–further explains: “‘For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, “You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”‘” In this same context, note what is stated in Proverbs 19:17: “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.”

Christians must be careful in their approach to these kinds of activities, as Jesus taught: “‘Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, WHEN YOU DO a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly'” (Matthew 6:1-4).

In another example, a woman anointed Jesus’ head with a fragrant oil. When bystanders criticized her Jesus said: “‘…Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her'” (Mark 14:6-9).

Remember, too, that Jesus prioritized His actions in line with God’s purpose for Him: “‘For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me'” (John 6:38). This approach by Jesus is the same kind of course of action Christians are to follow.

We are to be lights to the world of the way of Jesus Christ–His pattern of living and the embodiment of His love for all of mankind. Our first area of responsibility has to do with what God has also called us to accomplish in our own lives. That involves the Church of God in unique ways, and it extends to doing good to all men. Romans 12 through 14 contain helpful instructions in this regard.

Note, in particular, this approach taught through Paul: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO ARE OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH” (Galatians 6:10). That is why we have a Third Tithe fund, which is established to help the poor IN THE CHURCH. The Church has taught that we should have our main focus on serving the Church of God in its unique work of proclaiming the Gospel–the good news of God’s Kingdom when this world’s problems will be addressed and solved! Rather than seeking outlets that might engulf one in volunteer and charitable works or sending contributions to unknown poor persons in Third World countries, we would recommend that one maintain the role of “ambassadors for Christ” and address those needs that fall within one’s immediate opportunity to help (Compare 2 Corinthians 5:20)–especially within the community of believers, the Church of God (Compare Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-37).

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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A new member letter has been written and will be sent out early next week. In his letter, Edwin Pope discusses our attitude of generosity and our preparation for the Fall Festival Season.

Our new booklet, titled, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” has been finalized and will be sent shortly to the printer in England.

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