|Does Sin Lead to Success?
|This Week in the News
|Does God give His Holy Spirit to people who have not been baptized?
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
|Pondering the Future
Does Sin Lead to Success?
On July 19, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Does Sin Lead to Success?”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
In John 6 verses 1-13 we read about the feeding of 5,000 men (verse 10) plus all the women and children. Quite a crowd! We can marvel at such a miracle and the fact that everyone ate their fill and there were twelve baskets that were filled with fragments after the meal, and all from five loaves and two fish.
But after we have finished marvelling at the mighty miracle that Christ performed, we can overlook something else in this story. Christ then told the disciples to gather up the food that was left. Typically today, many just throw rubbish anywhere and everywhere. Just look at the aftermath of rock concerts, picnics in the park, football matches and visits to the cinema. I recall having lunch some years ago with the senior executive of the company I worked for at that time and he paid by credit card. As we left the table, he looked at his receipt and just let it fall to the ground. In another case, a man came out of the post office, looked at his receipt and just threw it on the ground. I suggested, politely, that he should pick it up and he smiled. I again suggested the same thing and he smiled, waved his hand at me and just walked away. I don’t think that he may have understood much English!
That was not neat!
I recall visiting Singapore on a company convention in the 1980’s and litter was not allowed. I looked up the current situation and read that in Singapore “A litter law dating from 1968 means litter bugs can be fined $1,000 for the first conviction and $5,000 for repeat convictions. On top of that, you’ll be forced to do community labour. And if you offend three times, you’ll have to wear a sign, which states, “I am a litter lout”. They take it seriously!
Of course, in the United States today, littering is also strictly forbidden and punishable with a fine of at least $1,000 for each violation. In many other countries, similar laws exist.
Why am I raising this issue? Jesus Christ set the example by instructing His disciples to clear up after “the party”. When I first started attending church, I was pleasantly surprised by the attention to detail that church members made. Meeting halls were left as clean and tidy as they were found and, sometimes even tidier and cleaner! Even toilets were left in a clean condition.
Being tidy may seem a small matter but we have to be faithful in the little things (compare Luke 16:10). Do we tidy up at home, at church or wherever we are? Are we following Christ’s example of tidiness and order?
If so, that’s neat!
We begin with real threats from Islamist terrorists for the USA and other Western nations; focus on the sickening Middle Eastern situation; show growing anti-Semitism around the globe; report on the crash of a Malaysian airplane as well as the shattered relationship between the USA and Germany; point out the lack of American leadership and America’s inability to fulfill its role as the world’s superpower; and address the crumbling relationship between the USA, the UK, Canada and Israel.
In other news, we speak about the Church of England’s unbiblical decision to appoint women bishops and the pope’s problems with pedophiles in his church; as well as the exploding number of HIV cases involving practicing homosexuals and transgender women.
This Week in the News
“Extreme Concern” Over Terrorist Bomb
NewsMax wrote on July 13:
“New intelligence reports indicate that Yemeni bomb-makers are joining terrorists in Syria to build new types of virtually undetectable bombs, says Attorney General Eric Holder… Holder called the prospect ‘more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general … ‘
“The Yemen-based bomb-builders… have traveled to Syria to meet with members of the Islamic State (ISIS), the group that has declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq… About 7,000 people with American or European passports have joined the fighting on behalf of the Islamic State, and officials fear they may attempt to return and carry out acts of terrorism in the West.”
These concerns are most certainly valid.
Middle East Conflict—No Winners but a Big Loser
The Washington Post wrote on July 12:
“… the latest bout of fighting in and around the Gaza Strip has produced no clear winners. But it has yielded a nearly indisputable loser: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who… has now been relegated to bystander status as his two longtime foes once again slug it out.
“… Here in the West Bank, where Abbas and his allies have long held sway among Palestinians, residents speak admiringly of the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, while despairing that Abbas’s advocacy for nonviolence has led nowhere…
“The overall impact is the opposite of what the United States has long sought in the Middle East — a strengthened hand for Abbas and marginalization for Hamas and other militant groups…”
Ultimately, all will be losers, and only the return of Jesus Christ will bring an end to the madness of our futile wars.
Israel Launches Ground Invasion
The New York Times wrote on July 16:
“A senior Israeli military official said Wednesday the likelihood of a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip was ‘very high’… The stark assessment came as Israel bombed 60 targets, most of them in northern Gaza, after warning 100,000 residents to evacuate their homes by 8 a.m. via leaflets, text messages, and automated telephone calls. The Palestinian death toll reached at least 205 by late afternoon, including four children killed in a strike on the seashore…
“Scores of rockets from Gaza continued to fly into Israel, several of them intercepted by the Iron Dome missile-defense system over Tel Aviv and the southern city of Ashkelon. Hamas, the militant Palestinian faction that dominates Gaza, on Wednesday officially rejected an Egyptian cease-fire proposal that Israel had initially approved Tuesday morning… the [Israeli] government moved to call up 8,000 additional reservists, adding to the 42,000 already mobilized…
“Mr. Netanyahu has been under pressure from some members of his cabinet and party to start a ground operation…”
Subsequently, Israel began a ground invasion on July 17, 2014. JTA reported:
“Israel launched a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip to destroy tunnels it says are used for terrorist activities. The Israel Defense Forces’ spokesman’s office announced the operation by a ‘large IDF force’ late Thursday on its Twitter feed following the order given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister MosheYaalon… The operation is limited for now to tanks targeting 10 tunnels in Gaza, the IDF said… Israeli troops earlier Thursday stopped an attempted Hamas infiltration from the Gaza Strip, forcing 13 infiltrators back into tunnels.”
Breitbart wrote on July 14:
“With Hamas’ decision to begin firing hundreds of rockets into Israel, precipitating Israeli action to stop that rocket fire, anti-Jew sentiment has now exploded full-force onto the public scene. This isn’t unprecedented – each time Israel acts in its own self-defense, whether in Gaza or in southern Lebanon, Jew-haters around the world have utilized the opportunity to target Jews.
“Such evil has now shown its ugly face around the world. Here are the latest incidents across the globe against Jews, utilizing Israel’s defensive activities as an excuse:
“Los Angeles. When some 2,000 Israel supporters showed up at the Federal Building in Los Angeles on Sunday, a group of pro-Palestinian men – they were identifiable by the large Palestinian flags they carried – attacked the demonstrators with sticks. LAPD attempted to stop the fight, and the attackers reportedly drove off in their truck…
“Paris. Anti-Jewish thugs attempted to break into a Paris synagogue carrying bats and chairs… The synagogue was full of Jews memorializing the three Jewish boys killed by Hamas operatives.
“Frankfurt. Neo-Nazi protesters threw stones at police. Fellow anti-Israel protesters, who numbered 2,500, screamed ‘God is great’ and ‘children-murderer Israel.’ One sign stated, ‘You Jews Are Beasts!’ The groups apparently tried to find Jewish institutions to attack after their rally. According to the Jerusalem Post, ‘student organization Left-SDS, Islamists and some members of the Neo-Nazi group National Socialists Rhein-Main attended the anti-Israel protest. Flags from Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Hamas were on display at the protest. Banners compared Prime Minister Netanyahu with Adolf Hitler.’ Police reportedly allowed demonstrators to use ‘a police vehicle and loudspeaker to blast anti-Israel slogans.’
“Seattle… pro-Israel rallies were met with anti-Israel rallies in the city with protesters screaming ‘anti-Israel slogans calling for the destruction of the Jewish state while waving signs and marching through the downtown sidewalks…signs comparing Jews to Nazis were commonplace.’… posters utilizing the blood libel were present in the crowd, including ‘a Jew eating a gentile child along with a cup of blood to wash it all down.’
“Boston. Pro-Israel protesters were called ‘Jesus killers’ and swarmed at a rally outside the Israeli consulate…
“As Israel’s enemies are emboldened in the Middle East, Jews’ enemies are emboldened around the globe. It is no surprise, then, to watch as Jews across the world come under attack, given the unprecedented level of tacit and spoken global support for anti-Israel activity.”
JTA added on July 13:
“Rocks were thrown at police in Berlin during a protest by some 1,000 demonstrators — most of them Palestinians — against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza… By some estimates, Berlin is home to 35,000 Arabs of Palestinian origin.”
The Bible prophecies that the poison of anti-Semitism will spread and grow. As it occurred in the past, so will all again become targets who are considered “Jewish.” This will include true Christians who keep the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days and who abide by the biblical dietary laws. Martin Luther once wrote a terrible tirade against the Jews and all other Sabbath-keepers (“Gegen alle Juden und die den Sabbat halten.”) Many feel that Luther and others set the stage for Hitler’s diabolical conduct of mass murder against millions of Jews and other minorities, including some Christian “sects.” Something similar will happen again—only this time, it will be so much worse.
Syria’s Assad’s Position as Secure As Ever
Reuters reported on July 16:
“Bashar al-Assad was sworn in for a new term as Syria’s president on Wednesday, after an election which his opponents dismiss as a sham but which he said proved he had achieved victory after a ‘dirty war’ to unseat him. Once written off in the West as certain to fall, he launches his seven-year term in his securest position since the early days of the three-year-old war.
“Those close to Damascus say he now believes his Western and regional foes will be forced to deal with him as a bulwark against Sunni Islamist militants who advanced across northern Iraq last month. At his inauguration he delivered a defiant speech, vowing to recover all Syria from Islamist insurgents and warning that Western and Arab countries would pay dearly for supporting rebels he described as terrorists.”
This article proves once more how human imagination and concepts of the future can drastically change within a heartbeat.
Malaysian Passenger Aircraft Crashed in Eastern Ukraine
Deutsche Welle reported on July 17:
“[A] Malaysian airliner has crashed in eastern Ukraine near Donetsk. The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur… On board reportedly were 295 people [the accurate count seems to be 298, including three infants] — 280 [or 283] passengers and 15 crew members…”
It is presumed that everyone on board was killed.
ABS News added on July 17:
“A statement from the Foreign Ministry in Kiev said, ‘A large passenger aircraft Boeing 777, performing a flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in the eastern part of Ukraine… by the Russian Buk missile system as the liner was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters… because the Russian air defense systems was affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area.’”
Breitbart reported on July 17:
“Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera said, ‘I believe Vladimir Putin has the blood of these airline passengers on his hands.’”
Subsequently, it was reported (but not independently verified by the respective governments) that at least 23 Americans, one Canadian, four Germans, 154 Dutch, six Brits, four Belgians, 27 Australians, 45 Malaysians, 11 Indonesians, and three Philippine citizens were killed.
Bild Online reported that Kiev and the USA “are convinced” that “pro-Russian rebels” shot down the plane with Russian weapons—perhaps erroneously believing that the plane was an Ukrainian fighter jet. The Sun wrote: “Putin was facing universal condemnation last night after pro-Russian separatists shot down a passenger jet carrying 295 people over Ukraine.”
Also note these additional messages:
The Associated Press wrote on July 17:
“An Air Force fighter jet has been shot down by an air-to-air missile fired from a Russian plane, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council said Thursday. Andrei Lysenko also said Ukrainian troops had been fired upon by missiles from a village just inside Russia…Pro-Russia rebels, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for strikes Wednesday on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets…
“On Monday, Ukraine said one of its military transport planes carrying eight people was shot down by a missile fired from Russian territory. Security Service chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said he had ‘unconditional evidence’ that Russia was involved in downing the craft… Rebels claimed to have shot that plane down.”
The situation involving Russia and the Ukraine is bound to escalate.
Germany Demands a No-Spy-Agreement–Growing Anti-Americanism in Germany
The Guardian wrote on July 12:
“Germany is determined to extract a public commitment from the US over future spying activity… Anger is running so high in Berlin that several earlier overtures by the US have this week been rejected by Berlin, which instead asked the CIA’s station chief to leave the country…
“‘We need to find something that satisfies the German public mood,’ said the senior German diplomat on Friday, who warned of growing anti-Americanism in the country…”
Experts agree that the USA will never enter into a formal no-spy agreement, but the hope is that something “informal“ could be worked out, and if this could be achieved, that it will not be broken at the next “expedient” opportunity.
Widespread German Support for Decision to Expel CIA Top Spy
The Local wrote on July 11:
“… ordering America’s top spy to leave Berlin was ‘unprecedented’ in the German-US relationship… ‘The expulsion confirms a noteworthy increase in the level of frustration felt by the political elite [in Germany],’… ‘People’s trust in America has been decreasing ever since 2003 with the Iraq War.’…
“The Süddeutsche Zeitung called the expulsion ‘an unequalled act of protest against American arrogance’…
“Former Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg wrote in Bild, the country’s biggest-selling tabloid, that Barack Obama risked raising anti-Americanism in Germany…
“The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warned Germany and America were ‘on the threshold of a diplomatic war’… ‘Merkel is not Obama’s poodle. The message which she sent him now was necessary and without ambiguity…’
“Journalist Jakob Augstein, meanwhile, quoted Britney Spears in his Spiegel Online column. ‘The Americans spied on us again. Oops! And they humiliated us again. Oh, baby, baby! They played with our hearts. We thought it was love. But that was a mistake.’ Augstein added: ‘The bitter truth is the relationship between the Americans and us resembles that between a dog and its owner. And unfortunately the American owner doesn’t love the German dachshund. The owner only needs it to occasionally fetch something.’…”
These excerpts show the disgust of many Germans with American duplicity.
Wake-Up Call for USA–Is Obama Losing Germany?
Deutsche Welle wrote on July 12:
“Expelling intelligence officials is an act usually associated with countries with which the US does not maintain friendly relations… disappointment with Obama is widespread…
“Listening in on the German chancellor’s telephone was inexcusably ‘stupid,’ as former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Berlin…
“The New York Times soberly noted that German-American relations have reached their low point with the expulsion of the CIA’s representative from Berlin. Experts on Germany in Washington view the events more dramatically: President Obama, they fear, is on the verge of losing Germany.”
In fact, he has already lost Germany.
Most Challenging Crisis Since End of World War II
Deutsche Welle wrote on July 14:
[Klaus Scharioth, Germany’s ambassador to Washington from 2006 to 2011, said:]
“… this is a very very serious crisis… If the United States wants to know what the Germans are thinking, what the people in the foreign ministry or in the chancellory are thinking they should just call. That’s very easy. I know from my days in Washington in office that we have such a close relationship that we talk practically about everything and we also don’t hesitate to talk about differences. So there is and was no reason for this kind of espionage. And therefore I think this was basically a waste of taxpayers’ money…
“Yes I think [this is the most profound and challenging crisis in German-American relations since the end of the World War II].”
On July 15, Deutsche Welle ran the following headline: “Moronic spying may turn German friends into enemies.”
“… it is Washington, and not Europe, that is presently – in the most stupid manner imaginable – endangering the most important alliance in the history of the world… An increasingly neutralist Germany now has a further reason to continue drifting away from America… American tone deafness over espionage is nothing less than a cancer that could effectively end the vital alliance as we know it between these two great powers.”
We hear these words, but do we really grasp what is being said here? For many decades, we have proclaimed that the relationship between the USA and Germany will deteriorate, and that hostilities and WAR will be the consequence. Now we are seeing the beginning of these developments, but most do not understand the signs of the time… including many of those who once had some knowledge of biblical prophecy. But their desire to be part of the world; their involvement with futile activities; and their setting of wrong “priorities,” as well as their willingness to compromise with God’s truth, have clouded their spiritual understanding.
No More Trust in the American President
The Financial Times wrote on July 13:
“… less than 40 per cent of Germans consider the US a trustworthy partner… Most Americans say they no longer personally trust Mr Obama. And fewer than 30 per cent express trust in the office of the presidency…
“Mr Obama has now played golf 179 times – considerably more than George W Bush, his golf-loving predecessor. Mr Obama dislikes spending time with fellow politicians. But he seems happy to attend endless fundraisers. He has now clocked up 393 fundraising events since becoming president, almost double that of Mr Bush.
“If Mr Obama put half as much effort into co-opting or wrongfooting his opponents as he does raising cash from the wealthy, people might be less sceptical… If you seek an explanation for why Mr Obama riles so many voters – and not just Tea Party conservatives – the perception of double standards is at the root of the problem.”
These are interesting comments, describing a leader who is unwilling or unable to lead.
Impeach and Sue President Obama?
Breitbart wrote on July 16:
“A week after former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin called for President Barack Obama’s impeachment over his lawlessness on illegal immigration… two in three Republicans believe impeachment is justified and a majority of independents believe that Obama has exceeded his constitutional limits.
“A YouGov/Huffington Post poll found that 49% of Americans, 89% of Republicans, and a majority of independents (52%) ‘think that President Obama has exceeded the constitutional limits of Presidential authority.’ But 35% of Americans ‘say impeaching Obama would be justified,’ including 8% of Democrats, 37% of independents, and 68% of Republicans.”
The Washington Times wrote on July 15:
“A prominent law professor and avowed supporter of the Obama White House will tell the House on Wednesday that the president has created one of the biggest constitutional crises in the country’s history and will endorse House Republicans’ effort to sue to rein him in.
“Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University, will say President Obama is trampling the founders’ vision for the country in his push to circumvent Congress, and he will demand Republicans and Democrats alike forget their party labels to unify against this White House’s power grab.”
The “United States of America” (USA), a/k/a the “Unsuccessful Superpower (of) America”
The Huffington Post wrote on July 14:
“… And speaking of the ‘sole superpower,’ it remains true that no combination of other militaries can compare with the U.S. military or the moneys the country continues to put into it and into the research and development of weaponry of the most futuristic sort…
“In addition, the U.S. still maintains hundreds of military bases and outposts across the planet… In 2014, it still garrisons the planet in a way that no other imperial power has ever done…
“And yet, recent history is clear: that military has proven incapable of winning its wars against minor (and minority) insurgencies globally, just as Washington, for all its firepower, military and economic, has had a remarkably difficult time imposing its desires just about anywhere on the planet. Though it may still look like a superpower and though the power of its national security state may still be growing, Washington seems to have lost the ability to translate that power into anything resembling success.
“Today, the U.S. looks less like a functioning and effective empire than an imperial basket case, unable to bring its massive power to bear effectively from Germany to Syria, Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya to the South China Sea, the Crimea to Africa. And stranger yet, this remains true even though it has no imperial competitors to challenge it… All in all, the situation is puzzling indeed… the wounds Washington has suffered on numerous fronts in these last years are self-inflicted. Just what kind of decline this represents remains to be seen.”
We have recently published several articles of writers who begin to point out that America lost all its wars since the end of World War II. However, it is a puzzle to them as to why this should be, since America is still THE superpower of the world. But the explanation is very simple: God has withdrawn His support and protection from this country. The reasons are described in our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Putin vs. Britain vs. USA over Falkland Islands
The Telegraph wrote on July 14:
“Vladimir Putin has weighed into Argentina’s dispute with Britain over the Falklands, backing Buenos Aires’ bid to open ‘negotiations’ over the islands’ future… Phyll Rendell, head of the Falklands legislative assembly, responded to Mr Putin’s comments by insisting that the islands’ status as a British overseas territory was of its own choosing… Mr Putin’s visit to Argentina came as part of a charm offensive to woo Latin American nations back into Moscow’s sphere of influence. It is seeking to take advantage of Argentina’s ongoing run-ins with Washington…
“The Russian expression of support for Argentina’s claim to the Falklands comes amid growing British frustration with America’s equivocal stance on the issue. Anxious not to upset Argentina, President Barack Obama’s administration has remained ‘neutral’ on the dispute, a stance that has caused some annoyance given Britain’s firm backing of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. In April, a House of Commons inquiry into the health of the ‘special relationship’ said: ‘We are disappointed that the US administration fails to give priority to the principle of self-determination in its position on sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.’”
The Bible shows that even Britain (modern Ephraim) and America (modern Manasseh) will be against each other. The same can be said about the relationship involving Canada (which is also a part of Ephraim). As Breitbart reported on July 14, the “Canadian Prime Minister condemned Obama for not supporting Israel.” Breitbart continued that now Canada has become the ONLY friend of Israel, and that the USA can no longer be viewed as one of Israel’s true friends.
Women Bishops in the Church of England
BBC News wrote on July 14:
“The Church of England has voted to allow women to become bishops for first time in its history…
“The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was ‘delighted’…
“It is hard to exaggerate the significance of today’s decision at the York Synod. It breaks a hitherto unbroken tradition of exclusively male bishops inherited from the first Christians almost 2,000 years ago…
“The Archbishop of York said it was a ‘momentous day’ … Mr Cameron said it was a ‘great day for the Church and for equality’… Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg praised Archbishop Welby’s ‘leadership’ on securing the Yes vote, adding that it was a ‘big moment’ for the Church of England.
“Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was “wonderful news’… The Anglican Communion has the largest Christian denomination in Britain and a presence in more than 160 countries. Women bishops are already in office in a number of provinces including the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.”
This latest move is in complete violation of the Holy Bible. It is interesting that the Roman Catholic Church happens to follow the Bible on this issue, but it stated at the same time that they will in no way abandon their desire to continue to build close ties with the Anglican Church of England. It can be expected that the Catholic Church, in its ongoing attempts to bring back all “daughter churches” into its fold, will be willing to make some “compromises” in order to reach that goal.
“‘One in 50’ Catholic Priests, Bishops and Cardinals a Pedophile
The Independent wrote on July 14:
“Pope Francis has revealed that ‘reliable data’ collected by the Vatican suggests that one in every 50 members of the Catholic clergy is a paedophile… He pledged that he would drive away the ‘leprosy’ of child abuse that was infecting the ‘house’ of Catholicism… He also warned of much greater figures for people who were aware of the existence of abuse – sometimes within their own families – but who stayed silent because of corruption or fear…
“His comments came a week after the Pope met with six victims of clerical paedophilia to apologise for their abuse at the hands of priests. The meeting, with six British, Irish and German Catholics, was designed to acknowledge the gravity of the Church’s guilt and complicity.”
That figure might even be much higher.
HIV Exploding Among Homosexual Men and Transgender Women
AFP wrote on July 14:
“HIV infections are rising among gay men in many parts of the world, the World Health Organization warned Friday, urging all men who have sex with men to take antiretroviral drugs to prevent infection. ‘We are seeing exploding epidemics,’ warned Gottfried Hirnschall, who heads WHO’s HIV department…
“While images of skeletal men dying of AIDS in the 1980s pushed the world to act, a younger generation that has grown up among new treatments that make it possible to live with HIV are less focused on the disease, he suggested. Today, this group is 19 times more likely than the general population to be infected by HIV, Hirnschall said…
“Globally, transgender women and injecting drug users, for instance, are around 50 times more likely than the general population to contract HIV…”
Again—the signs of the time are clearly visible, but most are unwilling or unable to connect the dots.
Does God give His Holy Spirit to people who have not been baptized?
In the writings of the Bible there are a small number of examples of individuals who received the Holy Spirit without a Christian baptism. Prior to the time of the establishment of the New Testament Church, some received the Holy Spirit without first being baptized. They were used by God at that time for a specific and special purpose. They had a job to do, which involved establishing the truth of God among people on the earth and executing the plan of God.
Following the establishment of the New Testament Church, the standard process for receiving the Holy Spirit involves a Christian baptism followed by the laying on of hands by a minister of God.
We write in our free booklet, Baptism – A Requirement for Salvation?:
“Without baptism based on biblical teaching, we normally would not receive the Holy Spirit and we would not be in a position to look forward to salvation. (An obvious and extremely rare exception to this rule would be, of course, when it is physically impossible to baptize someone, because the person is physically incapable of being baptized.) We understand, of course, that the situation was different in Old Testament times because God did bestow His Spirit on a few people without prior baptism, so that they could fulfill His specific commission for them.
“This is no longer true in New Testament times. We read in Acts 8:16–17… that the Holy Spirit was given to people only AFTER they were baptized and had hands laid upon them—not before then.”
What can we learn about the examples of the individuals who received the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times? A good place to start such a study is by understanding what purpose the Holy Spirit serves in man. Why does God provide His Holy Spirit in the first place?
A very important purpose of the Holy Spirit is to help man understand the things of God. Paul states this fact clearly in 1 Corinthians 2:11-12, “… no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit [which] is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
This Scripture clearly states that it is necessary to have the Holy Spirit of God if we are to understand His truth. In addition, we can see that a reason for providing His Holy Spirit is to know the things of God. It makes good sense too. The way mankind thinks is fundamentally different than the way God thinks (compare Isaiah 55:8-9), and if God wants man to understand His ways, it is necessary that a means is provided to do so. The Holy Spirit helps man to understand God and His perfect Will, and it gives man the power to obey that Will.
With this fact established, we can begin to understand some of the reasons why God provided His Holy Spirit to people in Old Testament times. We find proof that establishes this in the historical account of the construction of the tabernacle when Israel came out of Egypt.
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.’” (Exodus 31:1-6).
In this subtle, but clear example, we read that Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit, for the special purpose of understanding exactly what was necessary to build God’s tabernacle. The spiritual understanding and wisdom was required to properly design and build the physical tabernacle used in the practice of worshiping God correctly at that time. In addition, God gave him the physical skills required to carry out his task.
Evidence exists in the Bible where several other people in the Bible were given the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times. Again, quoting from Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation? on page 31:
“We understand that the Holy Spirit was not offered to the people of ancient Israel, except for a few people in Old Testament times who were selected by God to receive the Holy Spirit for a special purpose. These would include Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David, and the prophets of old, among others.”
Noah and Enoch both walked with God (compare Genesis 6:9 and Genesis 5:22 respectively). Walking with God indicates a special relationship with God, in which common understanding is shared (compare Amos 3:3). Since we know that having a common understanding with God requires having His Holy Spirit, we can conclude that Noah and Enoch both had the Holy Spirit. Noah in particular had an important purpose in executing the plan of God in that he “…became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Enoch too served as an example to the earlier lineage of mankind of how to live by faith (Hebrews 11:5-6). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob fulfilled a special purpose by establishing the family and nation of Israel, which was to receive God’s promise of eternal life and inheritance of the Kingdom of God (Galatians 3:16). Moses and Aaron were both responsible for administering the law of God and leading the nation of Israel. With such important commissions to fulfill, it was important in Old Testament times (as it is now) that the individuals responsible for carrying out the plan of God understood that plan spiritually. Therefore, it was necessary for God to give His Holy Spirit to people carrying out His Plan.
We understand, of course, that these were not the only reasons why the ancients received the Holy Spirit. It was God’s preordained purpose to call them for salvation and eternal life at that time. Without the gift of God’s Holy Spirit within a person at the time of his or her physical death, he or she would not be resurrected in the First Resurrection to eternal life and enter the Kingdom of God (compare Romans 8:11).
The only biblical example of the Holy Spirit being granted to people following the historical event of the establishment of the New Testament Church occurred when Gentiles were proven to be included in the promise of salvation. Quoting from Baptism – A Requirement for Salvation? on page 3:
“There is only one recorded incident since the establishment of the New Testament Church where someone received the Holy Spirit prior to baptism, and that is the Gentile Cornelius and his household. This was an exception for a specific purpose—God wanted to make it clear to the disciples that He had called Gentiles into the Church, and indeed, to salvation. Before Cornelius, only Jews had been accepted as Church members.”
Interestingly, even though the Holy Spirit was given prior to baptism in that particular and unique case, Peter commanded those who had received the Holy Spirit to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:44–48). This example indicates that baptism is a very important requirement for salvation.
Following the establishment of the New Testament Church, the gift of the Holy Spirit is still limited to those whom God uses for a specific task, according to His pre-ordained purpose. Christians are called today to qualify for the Kingdom of God by becoming teachers, so that they can teach others later. Especially in this end time, they are also called for the task of supporting the commission of the Church of God to preach the gospel of the Kingdom in all the world as a witness to all nations. In addition, when Christians are ordained as deacons and ministers, God gives them an additional amount of the Holy Spirit to enable them to fulfill their responsibilities.
In Acts 2:38 we read: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [Margin: forgiveness] of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” This passage makes it clear that today, a Christian baptism is intimately involved in the process of receiving the Holy Spirit.
This process of baptism, as a means of obtaining the Holy Spirit, highlights another important purpose. The Holy Spirit serves as a guarantee of the promise of God of the gift of eternal life and the corresponding inheritance of the Kingdom of God. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “… you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, [which] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). And to the Romans Paul wrote, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption (better “sonship” NIV) by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit [itself] bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:14-17).
Taken together, we can see that the Holy Spirit is provided as personal proof of the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
The Bible makes it clear that the Holy Spirit was given to people by God without a Christian baptism prior to the establishment of the New Testament Church. God’s Word also reveals that since that time, a proper Christian baptism IS required for salvation. Then, as now, the Holy Spirit is given so that a special purpose in the plan of God can be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit was necessary then, and it is necessary now, to understand the things of God, to live in accordance with that understanding, and to inherit eternal life in God’s Kingdom.
Lead Writer: Eric Rank
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Norbert and Johanna Link are planning to visit both the Oregon and Colorado church congregations. The dates are for the Sabbath of July 26 with the church in Oregon and the Sabbath of August 2 with the church in Colorado.
“America’s Disastrous Domestic and Foreign Policies,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
The domestic and foreign policy of the USA is a total and complete disaster. In this program, we quote many liberal and conservative national and international voices, showing the “declining American influence and commitment in the Middle East,” the “incompetence” of the President; and his lack of “vision or power,” while putting “politics and ideology ahead of preserving hard-won gains.” They state that while America is “alienating its friends,” “the ruins of American foreign policy” are observable everywhere. Why is America in such an unprecedented hopeless state?
A new member letter is being written by Eric Rank and will be sent out early next week.
“Segnen und Gesegnet Werden, is the title of this week’s new German sermon. The title in English: “To Bless and to Be Blessed.”
Pondering the Future
by Kalon Mitchell
When I was a younger man, I always thought about the future. What would happen? What would I turn out like? Would I get married, have a family? These thoughts always left me feeling apprehensive.
Looking back now, I am in awe of the way God has formulated and guided my life. The lessons He has allowed me to go through have had tremendous bearing on where I am and where I am headed today.
Now that I am a little bit older, I still find myself wondering at times: What is next? What is in store for me? For my family? As I ponder these questions, I am always aware that while I may plan my paths, it is truly God who leads and directs. Therefore, it is up to me to lean on Him in all things, seeking His Will.
No longer do I feel apprehensive or frightened by the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day, much less minute to minute. But I do know that it is God who opens the doors and lays the path for me to continue walking upon. The future, while still unknown, is laid out in front of me, ready to be grasped with confidence.
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.
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