The People of God
On Friday evening, April 18, 2008, is Passover.
On the weekly Sabbath, April 19, 2008, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “The People of God.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
On Saturday evening, April 19, 2008, is the Night to Be Much Observed.
On Sunday, April 20, 2008, is the First Day of Unleavened Bread. Rene Messier will give the sermon in the morning, titled, “Conformed to the Image of His Son.” Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon, titled, “Anger and Wrath!”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 9:00 am and 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 11:00 am and 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
About Our Father’s Business
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
We are now entering a period of time that the world at large knows nothing about and, if it did, would probably not care about it anyway!
Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41) and Jesus, when He was 12 years old, “went up [with his parents] to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast” (verse 42). As they were returning, Jesus’ parents couldn’t find Him (verse 45). When they went back to Jerusalem, “they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions” (verse 46). When His parents asked Him about His whereabouts, He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (verse 49).
Here was the Messiah, as a young boy, being about His Father’s business. At this same time of the year, but nearly 2,000 years later, can we say the same about our activities? The world has no concept about the true meaning of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. They may seem foolishness to it, because we need spiritual understanding and discernment to comprehend their importance (compare 1 Corinthians 2:14). The world is guided and directed by “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), who “has blinded” the minds of those not being called at this time (2 Corinthians 4:4). As a consequence, the world is doing its own thing.
We must be different! And as we take the Passover on Friday evening,18th April, as required annually at this time of the year, and as we celebrate the Night To Be Much Observed the following evening (on April 19) and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread (from April 20 until and including April 26), we can be truly thankful for the unique and marvelous calling that God has given us–a calling that sets us apart from the world and its ways.
We must never take our calling lightly, and we should truly rejoice in the knowledge and understanding that God has graciously granted to us, as we go “about our Father’s business.”
This Week in the News
Berlusconi’s Comeback in Italy–“Real Danger for Europe”?
Silvio Berlusconi won Italy’s general elections by an unexpectedly wide margin, claiming the prime minister’s office for the third time.
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 10:
“[Last] weekend’s elections in Italy [marked] billionaire Silvio Berlusconi’s return to power in what [is] his third term in office. But rarely have Italian voters been so weary of their politicians — and rarely has there been so little hope of any real change…
“Europe can start getting used to the idea of a third term for this billionaire politician, who was never able to see a difference between his own interests and the common good. No one outside Italy’s borders is likely to understand this — or, for that matter, anything that happens in politics in this magnificent country [of Italy]. It is a country that is both an esthetic superpower and the site of burning piles of garbage in Naples. And it is a country whose business executives working abroad, for companies like BMW and the German financial giant HypoVereinsbank, celebrate successes, while its most profitable business organization at home is the Mafia…
“In no other European country except the Vatican is the political class so heavily influenced by old people… Berlusconi’s list of senators… includes Giuseppe Ciarrapico, 74, a bankrupt dealmaker with a criminal record — and a man who publicly declared that he has ‘never denied’ his fascist sympathies… There are currently 24 convicted Italian criminals who hold seats in the Italian or European parliaments. Their crimes include tax evasion, perjury, corruption, violating explosives laws and incitement to murder… For those who think that all politicians are liars, Berlusconi would have to be the cream of the crop… Why on earth would anyone want to vote for this man?… Berlusconi may be a joke to the rest of the world, but not in [Italy]. No one here is interested in the litigation still pending against the godfather, in cases involving the bribing of witnesses and tax evasion on a grand scale. And the past charges of financial misstatement, corruption of television staff and senators? No problem, say his supporters…”
After his stunning victory, AFP reported on April 15:
“Praise and criticism began pouring in on Tuesday, with US President George W. Bush saying he was eager to work again [with] Berlusconi who was one of Bush’s strongest European allies, notably in the run-up to the Iraq war… The Italian billionaire will be a precious ally to opponents of a strong euro and of European budgetary discipline, notably for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who vowed to ‘deepen the traditional bond of friendship’ between their two countries. And Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely be the first to congratulate Berlusconi in person, with plans to stop in Italy on Thursday as part of one of the Russian leader’s final trips before he steps down on May 7, the Kremlin said. In Brussels, German euro MP Martin Schultz, head of the Socialists in the EU parliament, warned that Berlusconi’s alliance with the ‘extreme-right, openly xenophobic’ Northern League party, represented a ‘real danger for Italy and for Europe.'”
German Reaction to Berlusconi’s Victory
On April 15, 2008, Der Spiegel Online published excerpts from German newspapers, commenting on Berlusconi’s victory in Italy:
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes:
“‘The only people who can profit from this are Berlusconi and his clique. He lacks the political will to modernize the country — and that’s not only bad for Italy, but also for all of Europe. And it has to matter to the EU that the economy of one of its biggest member states, also a G-8 member, is declining… Growth rates are disastrous, productivity rates are pre-modern, the budget deficit is monstrous and those are all risk factors not just for the domestic market but also the euro zone. Berlusconi will never undertake the difficult reforms necessary to defuse the risks’…
“The business daily Handelsblatt writes:
“‘When Berlusconi takes power, Europe will have one less ally. Nicolas Sarkozy has already clearly shown that he is a skeptical European. And the question with Gordon Brown is how long he will be able to stay prime minister. Indeed, Angela Merkel will soon be getting lonely… Berlusconi… was very open about his true feelings about the EU in the past — indeed, the course his government took damaged Europe. Under the Italian EU presidency in 2003, a poorly prepared Berlusconi allowed the summit on the European constitution to run aground. His government was also fond of attacking the European common currency. When it came to foreign policy, too, Berlusconi had his own ideas. He saw the United States under President George W. Bush as his main ally. And as Berlin and Paris distanced themselves from Washington, Berlusconi joined Bush in the Iraq war and, by doing so, helped to divide the European Union. Besides, he was completely off the mark with his repeated demands to expand the EU to include Russia and Israel. … The outlook is grim for the European Union.’…
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“‘Italians have a weakness for patriarchs and comedians. Berlusconi is both. Scores voted for him almost out of spite — irrespective of their own misgivings and the lack of understanding the decision would be met with abroad. They follow him with the same spirit of self-deception as a circus audience watching a magician. The problem is: This magician’s performance could last five years. Other voters were neither enchanted nor naïve. They were simply pragmatic, voting with their pocket calculators in their heads. The calculator tells then that under a Prime Minister Berlusconi, they will have more money at their disposal than under Veltroni. They know from experience that Berlusconi is populist enough to give the gift of tax cuts to his people without second thought — even if he doesn’t have the budget for it. Of course, that can’t function in the long term, but many voters feel Italy doesn’t have much of a future anyway…'”
Merkel Pleads With Irish Voters to Back EU Constitution
The EUObserver wrote on April 15:
“German chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Irish voters to back the EU treaty… In a state visit to Ireland, the only country to hold a public poll on the treaty, Ms Merkel on Monday (14 April), said ‘To my mind, the Lisbon treaty offers the best preparation for Europe’s future. To the sceptics, I can only say that if everything remains as it is now, your concerns will definitely not be better addressed’… Ms Merkel also reassured Ireland, as a small country, that it will have an equal seat at the EU table noting that the new majority voting system in the treaty ‘is actually more of a problem for the bigger states.’
“During her visit the Irish government was forced to contend with a story in the Irish Daily Mail which gives details of an email sent by a British official… According to the article, the email says that the Irish government had ruled out having a referendum in October although it would have been better procedurally because they were concerned about ‘unhelpful developments during the French presidency – particularly related to EU defence.’ The email noted that French president Sarkozy was considered ‘completely unpredictable.'”
Deutsche Welle added on April 14:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Irish voters Monday to allow the European Union to ‘continue to flourish’… ‘What I can say looking back not least on my own life is that unification and the creation of the EU is the best thing that has happened to Europe in its long history,’ Merkel told a forum of politicians and campaigners in Dublin… Ireland is the only one of the 27 EU member states holding a vote on the treaty, and rejection could in theory block it and plunge the union into fresh chaos…
“Merkel’s speech to the National Forum of Europe kicked off a pro-European assault on Ireland this week, with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visiting on Thursday to rally votes in favor of the treaty… A poll published Monday showed that a vast majority of Irish voters remain undecided on the treaty and less than a third plan to vote at all… Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has said he will [step] down in May to fight allegations of financial irregularities. His likely successor, current Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, has vowed to make securing a ‘Yes’ vote his first priority.”
The current developments in Italy and Ireland are very interesting, as they relate to a United Europe. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy – The Unfolding of End-Time Events“
Most Europeans See China As Greatest Threat to World Stability
The EUObserver wrote on April 15:
“China’s image abroad has suffered a blow, with an opinion survey in the five largest EU states showing that most Europeans see Beijing as the greatest threat to world stability… 35 percent of Europeans – coming from Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain – labelled China a bigger threat than any other state… The most recent shift in public opinion is seen as a result of China’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters…
“The results of the… poll suggest that Italians have adopted the most critical stance towards China, with 47 percent singling out the country as the chief threat… The chart continues with France where 36 percent of people rank China as the biggest threat to world stability… Germany (35 percent) and the UK (27 percent) follow… Only the Spaniards continue to see the US as a bigger threat than China, attributing to the two powers 41 percent and 28 percent respectively.”
The Pope Visits the USA
CNN reported on April 14:
“The leader of the world’s 1 billion Roman Catholics has been to the White House only once in history. That changes this week, and President Bush is pulling out all the stops: driving out to a suburban military base to meet Pope Benedict XVI’s plane, bringing a giant audience to the South Lawn and hosting a fancy East Room dinner. These are all firsts. Bush has never before given a visiting leader the honor of picking him up at the airport. In fact, no president has done so at Andrews Air Force Base, the typical landing spot for modern leaders…
“President Carter hosted the first White House [visit] by a pope. Pope John Paul II was greeted at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington by Vice President Walter Mondale… There are more than 64 million reasons for this. Catholics number nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population, making them a desirable constituency for politicians to court… The Vatican — seat of a government as well as a religious headquarters — has an interest, too…”
The Pope “Ashamed” of Sexual Scandals–But Did He Go “Far Enough”?
The Associated Press reported on April 15:
“Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday he was ‘deeply ashamed’ of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and will work to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, addressing the toughest issue facing the American church as he began his first papal trip to the United States… Benedict said, ‘It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children’… [In a subsequent article of April 16, The Associated Press reported that the pope “told the nation’s bishops that the scourge of clergy sex abuse had sometimes been ‘very badly handled.'”]
“Abuse victims’ advocates said Benedict’s comments on the scandal did not go far enough. Peter Isely, a board member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said… there should be penalties for church leaders who fail to discipline predatory priests. ‘It’s easy and tempting to continually focus on the pedophile priests themselves,’ Isely said. ‘It’s harder but crucial to focus on the broader problem — complicity in the rest of the church hierarchy.’
“Jason Berry, a New Orleans writer who first drew national attention to clergy sex abuse in the 1980s, said the root of the problem is that the Vatican doesn’t punish bishops who shelter offenders. ‘Until the church creates a genuine system of justice to redress these wrongs the abuse crisis will continue,’ said Berry…
“Although a few bishops accused of molestation have stepped down, no bishop has been disciplined for failing to keep abusive clergy away from children. Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after church files were made public showing he and other church leaders had allowed accused clergy to continue in public ministry.”
German Reaction to Pope’s “Apology”
On April 17, 2008, Der Spiegel Online published excerpts from German newspapers, commenting on the pope’s “apology” regarding the sexual scandals within the Catholic Church:
“Even before the airplane carrying Pope Benedict XVI on his first visit to the US as pontiff touched down in Washington, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had addressed the issue which has done untold damage to the Catholic Church in the US. The pope told reporters he was ‘deeply ashamed’ of the child sex abuse scandal that had rocked the US Catholic Church… The child sex abuse scandal in the US Catholic Church first came to light in 2002. Since then the church has paid out $2 billion in compensation settlements to victims…
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes… ‘The pope cannot speak about human rights at the United Nations if the victims of sexual abuse are denied justice. The pope cannot appeal for global social justice, the protection of the family, human and unborn life, if inside his church human rights are being disregarded, the victims overlooked and their stories of suffering ignored. Those who appeal to the world’s conscience have to examine their own consciences first. They must be able to admit their own guilt; they must know they speak as sinners.’
“The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes that for the 65 million Catholics in the US, the pope’s visit is either a long-awaited chance to heal the wounds of the past or the final rejection of the church… Although Pope Benedict already apologized for the child abuse cases on his flight over to Washington, that will not be enough if he wants to convince and reconcile the faithful. But that is something the Catholic Church desperately needs to do, as it is the only large church in the US to lose members.'”
Bush and Pope Pray Together
Reuters reported on April 16:
“Pope Benedict and U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura prayed together in the White House on Wednesday, the Vatican said… Bush is a Methodist. Both he and the Roman Catholic pope have said that the traditional family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman, is under threat.”
Zenit added on April 15:
“A White House spokeswoman said President George Bush plans to tell Benedict XVI that millions of Americans have been praying for his visit and that their hearts are open to his message… [The spokeswoman] also confirmed that Bush is interested in the Pope’s work to establish interreligious dialogue…”
The Associated Press reported on April 16 that “The German-born pope began his first full day in America with a visit to the White House, where a South Lawn crowd of more than 13,500 sang ‘Happy Birthday’ [the pope turned 81 on April 16] and President Bush said that the first papal White House visit in 29 years was a reminder for Americans to ‘distinguish between simple right and wrong.'” He also referred to the pope repeatedly in his public speech as “Holy Father.”
In regard to that religious title, you might want to read Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:9: “Do not call anyone on earth your father [let alone, “holy father”]; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”
Pope Warns Americans, Holds Unprecedented Mass and Meets with Non-Christian Leaders
Reuters reported on April 16:
“Pope Benedict tempered his praise for American religious tolerance on Wednesday with a warning that U.S. society can quietly undermine Catholicism by reducing all faiths to a lowest common denominator. Addressing the nation’s Catholic bishops, the German-born pope said the U.S. Church could not drop its guard against relativism just because faith plays a larger part in public life in the United States than it does in more secularized Europe.
“A strong individualist streak in American culture leads some Catholics ‘to pick and choose,’ following Church doctrines they like and ignoring others… While the Church teaches that the Eucharist is clearly the most important of its sacraments, only 25 percent of those polled thought so…”
Even though the term “Eucharist” is a misnomer, please make sure to read the Q&A in this Update, on the correct understanding of Christ’s sayings in Matthew 26:26-28, pertaining to the partaking of bread and wine.
AFP reported on April 17: “Tens of thousands flocked Thursday for the first Mass by Pope Benedict XVI on his US visit, hours after he chided Americans for a moral breakdown which he said fueled the church’s child sex abuse scandal… Benedict angered victim support groups by praising the bishops’ efforts to heal the wounds from the scandal.”
Reuters added on April 17 that the pope will “meet with leaders of five non-Christian religions… The inter-faith meeting… will bring Benedict together with 220 members of the Jewish, Muslim, Jain, Buddhist and Hindu religions.”
Putin Elected Leader of United Russia
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 15:
“The pro-Kremlin United Russia party has loyally chosen Vladimir Putin as its new leader. But the outgoing president, who has vowed to reform the party, needs to compensate for his impending loss of power — even if it means depending on the party’s criminal elements.”
The article continued:
“After the party congress voted unanimously for Putin to become its party leader, without bothering with any kind of debate, Putin made his way back to the podium and promised he would do everything to ‘reinforce the authority of the party’ and to make Russia the fifth-largest economic power in the world… Putin can now use the party to push any laws through the Duma and to exert influence on the regional elite in the provinces. However, the outgoing president himself has stated that ‘all kinds of rogues’ have seized positions of power in the provinces, without the Moscow leadership doing anything about it.
“…it is the Kremlin’s policy of systematically leasing entire regions to what are virtually criminal gangs. In many places in the northern Caucasus, for example, central authority — as well as the United Russia party — is in the hands of people who are much more conversant with vote rigging and contract killing than they are with the rules of parliamentary democracy. In large swaths of Russia, the United Russia party acts as a bureaucratic and dictatorial party that has no qualms about strong-arming officials during elections and squandering state funds.”
Nightmare Scenario–“Now We Can Clone Children”
The Independent wrote on April 14:
“A new form of cloning has been developed that is easier to carry out than the technique used to create Dolly the sheep, raising fears that it may one day be used on human embryos to produce ‘designer’ babies. Scientists who used the procedure to create baby mice from the skin cells of adult animals have found it to be far more efficient than the Dolly technique, with fewer side effects, which makes it more acceptable for human use…
“The technique involves the genetic reprogramming of skin cells so they revert to an embryonic-like state. Last year, when the breakthrough was used on human skin cells for the first time, it was lauded by the Catholic Church and President George Bush as a morally acceptable way of producing embryonic stem cells without having to create or destroy human embryos. However, the same technique has already been used in another way to reproduce offspring of laboratory mice that are either full clones or genetic ‘chimeras’ of the adult mouse whose skin cells were reprogrammed…
“These offspring are chimeras – a genetic mix of two or more individuals – because some of their cells derive from the embryo and some from the skin cell. Technically, such a child would have three biological parents… Furthermore, studies on mice have shown that it is possible to produce fully cloned offspring that are 100 per cent genetically identical to the adult…
“However, Dr Lanza said that the mouse experiments his company had done demonstrated how easily the technology could be used to produce cloned or chimeric babies… This is not banned in many countries, where legislation has not kept pace with scientific developments… ‘At this point there are no laws or regulations for this kind of thing and the bizarre thing is that the Catholic Church and other traditional stem-cell opponents think this technology is great when in reality it could in the end become one of their biggest nightmares,’ he said. ‘It is quite possible that the real legacy of this whole new programming technology is that it will be introducing the era of designer babies. ‘So for instance if we had a few skin cells from Albert Einstein, or anyone else in the world, you could have a child that is say 10 per cent or 70 per cent Albert Einstein by just injecting a few of their cells into an embryo,’ he said.”
Germany Eases Stem Cell Restrictions
Deutsche Welle reported on April 11:
“After months of political negotiations, German lawmakers agreed to allow broader embryonic stem cell use. ‘The changes give German researchers the chance to stay competitive internationally,’ said Max Planck Institute President Peter Gruss… German scientists had pushed for Germany to reconsider a 2002 law which imposed strict limits on the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research. While the law banned all creation of stem cells in Germany, it did allow cells produced from abroad to be imported, but only if they had been created before Jan. 1, 2002. Scientists also had to show that the project had overwhelming significance and that no other research method could be used… Embryonic stem cells are prized by scientists for their ability to develop into any type of cell. This versatility has led scientists to trump stem cells as offering the potential to cure diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart maladies.
“Yet in Germany, the use of embryonic stem cells makes many people uncomfortable on religious and ethical grounds. Stem cell research carries historic overtones of the Nazis’ genetic experiments linked to the creation of a master race. Traumatized by grisly experiments on humans under the Nazis and influenced by its Christian churches, Germany has agonized for a decade about the ethics of using the cells. Critics argue that a human life is sacrificed when an embryo is torn apart. Religious groups expressed unhappiness with the parliament’s decision.
“‘This is not a good day for the protection of life in Germany,’ said Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx. Guenther Beckstein, Bavaria’s conservative premier, also said he thought the change would set a dangerous precedent. ‘My worry is that it will now become easier to further undermine the protection of unborn life,’ Beckstein said.”
Unusual Earthquake Activities Off Oregon Coast
The Associated Press reported on April 11:
“Scientists listening to underwater microphones have detected an unusual swarm of earthquakes off the central Oregon Coast. Scientists don’t know what the earthquakes mean, but they could be the result of magma rumbling underneath the Juan de Fuca Plate – away from the recognized earthquake faults off Oregon… There have been more than 600 quakes over the past 10 days in a basin 150 miles southwest of Newport. The biggest was magnitude 5.4 and two others were more than magnitude 5.0… It looks like what happens before a volcanic eruption, except there are no volcanoes in the area…”
Big Earthquake Certain to Occur in Southern California
The Associated Press reported on April 15:
“California faces an almost certain risk of being rocked by a strong earthquake by 2037, scientists said in the first statewide temblor forecast. New calculations reveal there is a 99.7 percent chance a magnitude 6.7 quake or larger will strike in the next 30 years. The odds of such an event are higher in Southern California than Northern California, 97 percent versus 93 percent…
“Scientists still cannot predict exactly where in the state such a quake will occur or when. But they say the analysis should be a wake-up call for residents to prepare for a natural disaster in earthquake country… ‘A big earthquake can happen tomorrow or it can happen 10 years from now,’ said Tom Jordan, director of the earthquake center, which is headquartered at the University of Southern California.”
Would you please explain Christ's saying in Matthew 26:26-28? Didn't Jesus clearly say that the wine and bread "are" His blood and body; therefore, aren't those correct who believe in the dogma of "transubstantiation"–that is, that every time when we eat the sacrificial bread and drink the sacrificial wine, that bread and wine change into the body and blood of Christ?
First of all, we need to understand that the Bible commands God’s disciples to eat a piece of unleavened bread and drink a small portion of red wine ONCE a year–at the annual festival of Passover. When Jesus instituted the new symbols of bread and wine, replacing thereby the Old Testament Passover lamb, He did so during the evening of Passover (Matthew 26:18-20; compare Luke 22:11-20). Christ did not teach that we should partake of the symbols of bread and wine, in memory of His Sacrifice, any time we please. It is to be observed annually–once a year (compare Leviticus 23:4-5).
When Christ said that the bread and the wine “were” His flesh and blood, He used symbolic language. He had stated earlier that His disciples were to “eat His flesh” and “drink His blood” in order to have life and lasting fellowship with Him (compare John 6:53-55). Jesus used this kind of language to TEST His disciples. He knew fully well that at that time, none of His disciples would understand the meaning of His saying. But He wanted to find out how many would leave Him, and who would stay with Him, even though nobody understood what He was teaching them. Sadly, “many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it’… From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:60, 66).
Jesus asked the twelve apostles whether they would also forsake Him. Peter did not understand Christ’s saying, either, but he knew who Christ was. And so, he answered for all of the twelve, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69).
Christ’s sayings in John 6, and His words at the last Passover which He kept with His disciples as a human being, were to be understood symbolically. They were not to be understood to mean that at the moment when Christ gave the bread and the wine to His disciples–and at the moment when we partake today of the symbols of bread and wine at Passover–those symbols were or are “transforming” or “changing” into the actual body and blood of Jesus. The Roman Catholic dogma of the “transubstantiation,” which was also believed in and taught by Martin Luther, is in fact unbiblical.
The reasons for our conclusion are many, including the following:
1) First of all, Christ is no longer today a human being. He WAS God (John 1:1), BECAME man (John 1:14), and was CHANGED again into a God being–a life-giving Spirit being–at the time of His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:45; Titus 2:13). Paul said that we do not know Jesus Christ any longer as a human being–“according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:16). As a Spirit being, Christ does not have flesh and blood. Therefore, the wine and the bread could not possibly change today into the flesh and blood of Jesus.
2) We also read that Jesus was offered ONCE to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28). His supreme Sacrifice was necessary, but also sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins. The claim that the bread and the wine change today–and have been changing for the last 2,000 years–into the body and blood of Christ would mean that Christ was and is being sacrificed again and again–every time when His disciples have been partaking of the symbols of bread and wine.
This concept is clearly contradicted by Scripture–in fact, the Bible contains a strong warning for those who attempt to sacrifice Christ again through their conduct or belief. We read in Hebrews 6:4-6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, SINCE THEY CRUCIFY AGAIN FOR THEMSELVES THE SON OF GOD, AND PUT HIM TO AN OPEN SHAME.”
3) In addition, we are prohibited in God’s Word, the Bible, to consume any kind of blood (Acts 15:19-20, 28-29; 21:25; Leviticus 17:14). Therefore, the wine could not possibly change into the literal blood of Jesus, to be consumed by His disciples.
4) We should also note that when Christ spoke His words to His disciples, giving them the bread and the wine, He was a human being, and He–the human being–was present with His disciples. The bread and the wine were not “identical” with–but separate from His body; and they were not changed, in any way, to become (part of) His blood or body–as otherwise, Christ would have somehow “divided” Himself at that moment into eleven or twelve “components.”
Many commentaries have pointed out the utter absurdity of a belief in the dogma of “transubstantiation.”
a) Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible point out:
“It is not improbable that our Lord pointed to the broken bread, or laid his hands on it, as if he had said, ‘Lo, my body!’ or, ‘Behold my body!’ – ‘that which “represents” my broken body to you.’ This could not be intended to mean that that bread was literally his body. It was not. His body was then before them ‘living.’ And there is no greater absurdity than to imagine his ‘living body’ there changed at once to a ‘dead body,’ and then the bread to be changed into that dead body, and that all the while the ‘living’ body of Jesus was before them.
“Yet this is the absurd and impossible doctrine of the Roman Catholics, holding that the ‘bread’ and ‘wine’ were literally changed into the ‘body and blood’ of our Lord. The language employed by the Saviour was in accordance with a common mode of speaking among the Jews, and exactly similar to that used by Moses at the institution of the Passover [Exodus 12:11:] ‘It’ – that is, the lamb – ‘is the Lord’s Passover.’ That is, the lamb and the feast ‘represent’ the Lord’s ‘passing over’ the houses of the Israelites. It serves to remind you of it. It surely cannot be meant that that lamb was the literal ‘passing over’ their houses – a palpable absurdity – but that it represented it.
“So Paul and Luke say of the bread, ‘This is my body broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ This expresses the whole design of the sacramental bread. It is to call to ‘remembrance,’ in a vivid manner, the dying sufferings of our Lord. The sacred writers, moreover, often denote that one thing is represented by another by using the word is. See [Matthew 13:37:] ‘He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man’ – that is, represents the Son of man. [Genesis 41:26:] ‘the seven good kine [cows] are seven years’ – that is, ‘represent’ or signify seven years… The meaning of this important passage may be thus expressed: ‘As I give this broken bread to you to eat, so will I deliver my body to be afflicted and slain…'”
b) Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible adds the following:
“‘This is my body’ – Here it must be observed that Christ had nothing in his hands, at this time, but part of that unleavened bread which he and his disciples had been eating at supper, and therefore he could mean no more than this, viz. that the bread which he was now breaking represented his body, which, in the course of a few hours, was to be crucified for them. Common sense, unsophisticated with superstition and erroneous creeds, – and reason, unawed by the secular sword of sovereign authority, could not possibly take any other meaning than this plain, consistent, and rational one, out of these words.
“‘But,’ says a false and absurd creed, ‘Jesus meant, when he said, Hoc Est Corpus Meum, This is my body, and Hic Est Calix Sanguinis Mei, This is the chalice of my blood, that the bread and wine were substantially changed into his body, including flesh, blood, bones, yea, the whole Christ, in his immaculate humanity and adorable divinity!’ And, for denying this, what rivers of righteous blood have been shed by state persecutions and by religious wars! Well it may be asked, ‘Can any man of sense believe, that, when Christ took up that bread and broke it, it was his own body which he held in his own hands, and which [he] himself broke to pieces, and which he and his disciples ate?’…
“Besides, our Lord did not say, hoc est corpus meum, (this is my body), as he did not speak in the Latin tongue… let it be observed that, in the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Chaldeo-Syriac languages, as used in the Bible, there is no term which expresses to mean, signify, denote, though both the Greek and Latin abound with them: hence the Hebrews use a figure, and say, it is, for, it signifies… And following this Hebrew idiom, though the work is written in Greek, we find in [Revelation 1:20:] The seven stars Are (represent) the angels of the seven Churches: and the seven candlesticks Are (represent) the seven Churches. The same form of speech is used in a variety of places in the New Testament, where this sense must necessarily be given to the word…”
c) John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible agrees, adding the following observation:
“Now when he says, ‘this is my body’, he cannot mean, that that bread was his real body; or that it was changed and converted into the very substance of his body; but that it was an emblem and representation of his body, which was just ready to be offered up, once for all: in like manner, as the Jews in the eating of their passover used to say… of the unleavened bread, this is ‘the bread of affliction’, which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Not that they thought that was the selfsame bread, but that it resembled it, and was a representation of the affliction and distress their fathers were in at that time: to which some think our Lord here alludes: though rather, the reference is to the passover lamb, which is frequently, in Jewish writings, called ‘the body’ of the lamb…
“And now it is, as if Christ had said, you have had ‘the body’ of the lamb set before you, and have eaten of it, in commemoration of the deliverance out of Egypt, and as a type of me the true passover, quickly to be sacrificed; and this rite of eating the body of the paschal lamb is now to cease; and I do here by this bread, in an emblematical way, set before you ‘my body’, which is to be given to obtain spiritual deliverance, and eternal redemption for you; in remembrance of which, you, and all my followers in successive generations, are to take and eat of it, till I come.”
In conclusion, the Bible does NOT teach the dogma or doctrine of “transubstantiation.” Rightly understood, that unbiblical teaching changes, and actually denies the very meaning and essence of Christ’s Sacrifice.
The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ is of unspeakable importance for us. It is God’s greatest gift to mankind. We must never belittle it by partaking of the symbols of bread and wine in an unworthy manner (compare 1 Corinthians 11:27-29); or by partaking of the symbols more than once a year; or by doing so on any other occasion than the annual Passover; or by falsely believing and teaching that the symbols of bread and wine change into the very body and blood of Christ.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program (#164) has been posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube It is titled, “Coming–The Great Depression?” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the fact that most Americans are worried about the economy. Many financial analysts and commentators around the world have similar fears. But what can YOU do in these times of recession and potential depression? How can you avoid going into debt, and how can you become debt-free? Does God, in His Word, the Bible, show you what you must do?
Norbert Link’s most recent video-recorded sermon, which was given on April 12, 2008, has been posted on Google Video. It is titled, “Bible Study–Paul’s Message to Corinth.”
by Shana Rank
As I sit and ponder some of life’s challenges and experiences, there has always been ONE constant–more constant than friendships or living conditions, more reliable than a paycheck or automobile, and more patient than a diligent teacher. God, of course, is that ONE constant. A truth I take much courage in, is that God does not change.
I, on the other hand, am not always constant–with family, friendships, attitudes or even paying bills. God’s perfect mercy understands the ebb and flow of my life, and waits to see growth. I must bear fruit, and my labor must be with a happy heart.
Even though I will never achieve perfect consistency–I can still try! My constant faith in God will insure His support through all of my life’s adventures.
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