|In Christ's Name
|Does 2 Corinthians 3:3-11 teach that the Ten Commandments have been abolished?
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
|We'll Always Be OK
In Christ's Name
On November 5, 2005, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “In Christ’s Name.”
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.
Life happens. The sun goes up and it goes down; weeks turn into months; months years; years decades; decades turn into a life time and then what is left behind?
Some leave inheritances fit for kings; some have a large family that remains and another an architectural marvel. Many try to leave their mark on history; some to greater extents and some to lesser degrees than others.
Is there anything that we can build that will last?
There is coming a time when the Earth and Heaven, as we know them, will cease to exist (Revelation 21:1). There will be no more of today’s wonders, man-made or natural. What hope is there then that we can produce anything lasting?
Believe it or not, there is one thing that we can build that will last beyond the passing away of this first heaven and earth…CHARACTER! That is, Godly character.
The word character comes from the Greek word for engraving. It means to exactly represent another image. In Hebrews 1:3, Christ is said to have the express image (Greek: charakter) of God. In the same way, we are to become like God by living by His every word (Matthew 4:4) and following the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:21). We are to strive for the perfection that God is (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1) and if we do so we will indeed be building the Character of God.
If we work hard at building Godly character and use the tools available to do so, we won’t need to leave anything else behind, because God will see to it that we will live for eternity. In the very end, the only thing that will be around, that we can affect, is this Character and subsequently our place in the God family (see our booklet “God is a Family”).
This Week in the News
Are You A Sincere CO?
We are publishing below several typical questions which were asked during the “London Tribunal,” during World War II, and which are being asked by Draft Boards today, trying to determine the sincerity of young men claiming to be Conscientious Objectors. In addition, answers from sincere CO’s are provided as well:
Q. What process of reasoning led you to the views you hold?
A. I do not hold them from a process of reasoning so much as from Bible teaching, which is God’s revelation and instruction to me, and which I believe to be RIGHT, and have dedicated my life to follow.
Q. Are you sure your objection is one of conscience and not of reasoning or repugnance?
A. Yes, from a determination to live according to God’s Word, which teaches me right and wrong, and from conscience, which springs from a conviction of right and wrong rather than from reason.
Q. Why is it inconsistent with your conscience to defend the right against evildoers?
A. As a Christian I have forsaken everything of the world. Politics and war, even though the other nation be in the wrong and the evildoer, are of the world. I am here now as an “Ambassador for Christ,” and my life is dedicated to HIS cause. He is my King. His Kingdom is not of this world and not a fighting kingdom. He taught His followers NOT to fight, but turn the other cheek.
Q. Is your objection to killing, or is it to warfare in general?
Q. Why do you object to killing?
A. It is sin, the penalty of which is death — and I should lose eternal life. I should rather lose this mortal life, and be resurrected by God to life eternal. Sin is the transgression of the law. The law says “Thou shalt not kill.”
Q. Is war wrong? Why?
A. It is wrong. Because God condemns it, and I believe He condemns it because it only results in human suffering and misery and death. I believe no one ever WINS a war — it is, at most, only a matter of which side is the heavier loser. I believe God’s ways are RIGHT.
Q. What method would you use to resist evil?
A. The Scripture tells me NOT to resist it at all, but rather overcome it with good.
Q. If you are not in a position to overcome evil with good, would it not be better to destroy a greater evil with a lesser evil rather than not at all?
A. According to human reasoning, based on human nature, perhaps. But I personally must go by the Bible which teaches differently. Worldly governments do not go by this Bible standard in such cases.
Q. Your country is in danger. What do you propose to do for it now?
A. As Abraham did, I seek a better country, that is, a heavenly country, the coming KINGDOM OF GOD. I live IN the world, but am not OF it. I am here rather as a guest, an Ambassador for Christ, whose kingdom is NOT of this world. While here I am told to be SUBJECT to the government, even to its penalties, willingly, to offer no resistance, but to OBEY GOD. I am willing to do all I can for this country, however, consistent with a Bible Christian life. I cannot bear arms or participate in war. I willingly will do any PEACEFUL work, not contributing to killing.
As the Associated Press reported on November 2, 2005, “Pakistan’s official earthquake death toll jumped by 16,000, and officials warned Wednesday that it is likely to rise further as relief supplies fail to reach thousands of victims stranded in remote parts of the Himalayas. The announcement, which puts the official toll at 73,000, brings the central government figures closer to the number reported by local officials, who say the Oct. 8 quake killed at least 79,000 people in Pakistan.”
Schroeder Goes Out With a Bang
On October 28, 2005, Der Spiegel Online reported about German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s farewell speech to the European Parliament. The magazine wrote: “Schröder Goes Out with a Bang at his Last EU Summit.” It continued: “It also gave outgoing-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder a chance to get some things off his chest, particularly his feelings about the neo-liberal course of the summit’s host, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It’s been long known that Schröder thinks little of the Anglo-Saxon economic model… At the summit, Schröder and Chirac made it clear that they were in no mood to compromise and have said the UK will have to give way on its [Euros] 4.5 billion rebate if any kind of deal is to be reached. Schröder even gave Blair a parting word of warning: ‘You should not expect the next government to be lenient on the financial perspectives.’ Since Schröder is leading the Social Democrat-side of negotiations with Merkel’s Christian Union bloc, he probably knows what he’s talking about.”
Germany’s Grand Coalition in Danger?
The Economist reported on November 2, 2005, that “One key figure in Germany’s nascent grand coalition has resigned as chairman of his party, and another says he will not serve as a minister. If the Christian Democrats’ Angela Merkel cannot hold things together, new elections may be called for next spring… On Monday October 31st, Franz Muntefering, the chairman of the SPD, unexpectedly announced that he would step down from this position after his party’s executive committee rejected his candidate for SPD number two. A day later, Edmund Stoiber, the head of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), declared that he would prefer to remain Bavaria’s premier rather than join the new government as economics minister… These wobbles have raised the prospect of the entire edifice collapsing and having to be rebuilt from scratch. That could mean either the formation of another sort of alliance–such as a ‘Jamaica coalition’ of the CDU, Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens, so named because the parties’ colours are black, yellow and green, like the island’s flag–or even new elections early next year.”
New European Grammar Rules Blasphemous?
WorldNetDaily reported on November 1, 2005, that “A new grammar rule devised by the European Union in Brussels stipulates the word ‘Christ’ shall be spelled with a lowercase ‘c.’… the new guidelines also indicate the Dutch word for ‘Jews’ (Juden) is to be spelled with a capital ‘J’ when referring to nationality and with a lower-case ‘j’ when referring to the religion. The EU changes become mandatory next August.”
The article continued to explain that “Many Europeans have long discarded belief in God and in fact believe more deeply in ghosts than in a deity. A new poll finds two-thirds of Britons said they believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits, but only 55 percent said they believe in the existence of God. Meanwhile, 26 percent believe in UFOs [and] 19 percent in reincarnation…”
U.S. Propaganda War On Trial?
On October 30, 2005, Der Spiegel Online reported about the ongoing crisis of the Bush Administration. The magazine stated in its headline: “George W. Bush’s Propaganda War Goes on Trial.” It continued: “They are two of the Bush administration’s most trusted advisors: I. Lewis Libby and Karl Rove. Now, one has been indicted and the other may soon be. The affair promises to put the administration’s Iraq policy on trial and will ask uncomfortable questions about just how much the danger from Iraq was exaggerated. … Indeed, it was [Vice President Dick] Cheney himself who in spring 2002 — almost a year before the US military marched into Baghdad — made the completely unsupported assertion that Saddam Hussein had restarted his nuclear program. Condoleezza Rice, then Bush’s national security advisor, took up the war chant with her catchy warning against Saddam’s nuclear plans. ‘The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons,’ she said. ‘But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.’ The current trial will have to confront the fabrication of intelligence that lead to such overstatements and untruths.”
Illegitimate U.S. Babies
On October 28, 2005, USA Today reported that “A record number of babies–nearly 1.5 million–were born to unmarried women in the U.S. last year. And those moms were more likely to be 20-somethings than teenagers.” The article also explained that “Studies have shown cohabitating relationships are less stable and about half break up within five years.”
Iran vs. Israel
On October 29, 2005, scotsman.com reported about the ongoing controversy regarding Iran’s position toward Israel. The article stated: “Iran’s conservative president yesterday insisted he stands by his call for the destruction of Israel, amid a growing backlash against his comments both internationally and within his own country… Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks have inflamed international tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme and its alleged interference in Iraq, prompting Tony Blair on Thursday to signal that military action against Iran can no longer be ruled out… ‘My words are the Iranian nation’s words,’ said Mr Ahmadinejad.”
At the same time, according to an article by the BBC, dated October 29, 2005, “Iran’s foreign ministry said Tehran respected the UN charter and had never used or threatened to use force. But it also rejected a UN Security Council statement condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his remarks.”
Halloween a Pagan U.S. Custom
The BBC reported on October 30, 2005, that “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has urged families not to mark Halloween, calling it a US custom alien to the South American nation. ‘Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way,’ Mr Chavez said during his weekly radio and TV show.” The article continued to point out correctly: “Halloween, a pagan festival characterized by mischiefmaking, is marked every year on 31 October.”
The BBC reported on October 28, 2005, that “The Italian researchers who produced the first horse clone have announced the birth of 14 cloned piglets… Scientists have now cloned sheep, mice, cattle, goats, rabbits, cats, pigs, mules and dogs. The first horse clone–a Halflinger mare named Prometea–was born at the research laboratory in the summer of 2003. Cow clones have also been produced there. The latest experiment was carried out as part of a European Union project to study stem cells in cloned animals.”
Jordan River Soon Dry?
In an article by Al-Jazeera, which was published a while back, in June 24, 2005, it was speculated that the Jordan river might soon dry up. It was stated: “The Jordan river, where Christians believe Jesus was baptized, is heavily polluted with sewage and is in danger of drying up after decades of conflict and intense agricultural use, environmentalists say… The dramatic decline in the Jordan is the main reason why the Dead Sea is also vanishing. The level of the world’s saltiest large body of water is falling by a metre each year and the sea could disappear in 50 years, experts say.”
Does 2 Corinthians 3:3-11 teach that the Ten Commandments have been abolished?
For some, 2 Corinthians 3:3-11, and especially verse 7, teaches that the Ten Commandments, which were written on tablets of stone, ceased to be in force and effect, when Jesus Christ died on the cross (compare Ryrie Study Bible, footnote to 2 Corinthians 3:7). However, a careful reading of the entire passage does not uphold such an erroneous teaching. In addition, you might want to study our booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound,” for a full explanation as to why the Ten Commandments are still to be obeyed today.
Let us review the entire passage of 2 Corinthians 3:3-11, in context:
“(3)… clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (4) And we have such trust through Christ toward God. (5) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, (6) who has also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (7) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, (8) how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? (9) For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. (10) For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. (11) For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.”
It is important that we carefully analyze this passage, so that we do not reach wrong conclusions. Quoting from pages 14 and 15 of our booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound”:
“… God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. We read in Exodus 24 that the covenant was sealed with blood. When that happened, the covenant was final and could not be altered. The law of the covenant was written in a book, the ‘Book of the Covenant’ (verse 7; compare Hebrews 9:19-20). At that time, the sacrificial system was not a part of the law–those ritual provisions had not been given yet–and they were not written in the Book of the Covenant. The only sacrifice that is mentioned as a required sacrifice is the Passover (Exodus 23:18; Exodus 12). Yet, even this Passover sacrifice found its fulfillment in the death of Jesus Christ. Christians do not now offer lambs in sacrifice for Passover–rather, Paul shows: ‘For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us’ (1 Corinthians 5:7)… The covenant at Horeb originally did not include the sacrificial system. Neither did the Book of the Covenant contain such ritual regulations. But as time went on, ritual laws were added, including the laws regarding the Levitical priesthood and penalties or curses for violations of God’s spiritual law, and those did find their way into the Book of the Covenant, which is also called the Book of the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:58, 61; 29:20-21, 27, 29; 31:9).This Book of the Law was placed outside or beside the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:24-26). The tablets with the Ten Commandments, however, were placed inside the ark (Deuteronomy 10:4-5; Hebrews 9:4).
“Later, all the laws that had been written by Moses into the Book of the Law were engraved on massive stones (Deuteronomy 27:2-3, 8; Joshua 8:30-32, 34). The laws that were written on the stones included the Ten Commandments, along with the statutes and judgments, and also the rules and regulations regarding sacrifices and other rituals. We find a reference to those stones and the laws that had been engraved on them in 2 Corinthians 3:7-8, ‘But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious… how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?’
“The reference to the ministry of death includes the death penalty for violating God’s spiritual law. The penalties were first written in the Book of the Law of Moses and then engraved on massive stones. Since Christ died for us, we don’t have to pay the death penalty, if we repent of our sins and obtain forgiveness. In addition, the ritual sacrificial laws, which were among the laws written on stones, could not forgive sins–they only reminded the sinners of their sins. The Levitical priesthood was, in that sense, a ministry of death, as people would still not be able to obtain eternal life, even though they brought sacrifices.”
With this background, let us again carefully review verses 3 and 7 of 2 Corinthians 3. In verse 3, reference is made to the Ten Commandments, which were written “on tablets of stone.” Christians today are to keep the Ten Commandments in their hearts–that is, it is not sufficient to possess tablets of stone which include the Ten Commandments, but we have to internalize them and obey them “from the heart.”
Verse 7, however, does NOT refer to the Ten Commandments. As stated above, the “ministry of death, written and engraved on STONES,” refers to massive stones (compare again Deuteronomy 27:2-3, 8; Joshua 8:30-32, 34), on which ALL of God’s laws were written–not just the Ten Commandments, which are spiritual and eternal, but also temporary ritual laws regarding washing and sacrifices. While the two tablets with the Ten Commandments did not include any penalties, the subsequent massive stones did.
Let us compare the different Greek words which are used in verses 3 and 7, when describing the “tablets of stone” and the “ministry of death… engraved on stones.” The Greek word for “of stone” in verse 3 is, “lithinos” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, No. 3035), and means, literally, “made of stone” or formed out of stones. The word is used in Revelation 9:20, describing idols made out of stone. The Greek word for engraved “on stones,” in verse 7, is, “lithos” (Strong’s No. 3037), and it describes complete stones–not something made of stone. It is also rendered as “millstone” in Luke 17:2. The tablets with the Ten Commandments were taken from stones–the tablets did not constitute complete stones. But later, all of God’s laws–permanent as well as temporary rules–were engraved on complete, massive stones. To reiterate: The Ten Commandments were written on TABLETS OF STONE–the laws of the Book of Moses, including the penalties for sin, were engraved on COMPLETE, MASSIVE STONES.
The Ten Commandments, as well as other permanent and temporary laws, were WRITTEN in a book–the Book of the Law of Moses. Verse 7 makes reference to this fact, when it says, “…WRITTEN and engraved on stones.” Quite literally, the meaning is that all of the laws were first “reduced to writing” (“en grammasin” in Greek) and then “engraved” (“entupoo” in Greek) “on stones” (“en lithos” in Greek).
2 Corinthians 3:7-8 could be paraphrased as follows, to clarify the intended meaning:
“But if the ministry of death, which was first written in the Book of the Law of Moses and later engraved on massive stones, was glorious, even though it would cease one day–so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance (after he saw God’s form), which glory also passed away–how will the ministry of the Spirit, which will endure forever, not be more glorious?”
God’s true ministers today do not administer the death penalty for sin–they don’t fulfill the ancient Levitical priesthood’s role and function of a “ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:9). Rather, God’s true ministry today teaches that sinning man can receive forgiveness of sin, through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God’s ministry today also teaches that man must keep the Ten Commandments. Man can only do this, however, through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, which is received after repentance, belief and baptism. In other words, God’s ministry is a “ministry of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 3:9), teaching man how to obtain righteousness and how to live righteously. For further information on this critically important subject, please read our free booklet, “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation?”
2 Corinthians 3:2-11 does not teach that the Ten Commandments are abolished. Quite to the contrary, the passage teaches that the Ten Commandments must be kept today. However, they must be kept in the Spirit, that is, they must be applied in our lives with their spiritual intent, as Christ clearly explained in Matthew 5-7. In doing so, we can escape death and inherit eternal life. If we refuse to do so, Christ’s warning in John 3:36 is still applicable for us today: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him (Revised Standard Version).”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The final text of our new booklet on Predestination has been sent to Shelly Bruno, our graphic designer, for finalization.
We received in excess of 1,400 responses to our advertising campaign in England, advertising our booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
We'll Always Be OK
We’ll Always Be OK
by Michael Link
We have all just returned from what was another enjoyable feast. During that time we experienced joy, fellowship, spiritual growth, peace and fun; a foretaste of what is to come in the Millennium. What about after the feast? We are faced with trials every year during this time. But no matter what is thrown at us, we have to remember that we have somebody watching and helping us through every situation. I wrote a song a while back which lets us know that we are always in good hands.
We drove down the coastline
expecting a safe ride.
Excitement was building,
we planned for a good time.
Our share of close calls
Protection is vital
in case of a downfall.
We’ll Always Be Ok
A break is essential
from customary life.
Enjoy these few moments
Posing as crucial.
Trials we encounter
We seem to get through them.
This world is a landmine
but one thing is for sure
We’ll Always Be Ok
As we left this place here
back to our routine
Continue to live right
We have nothing to fear.
We’ll Always Be Ok
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
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom