Letter to the Brethren: February 1, 2018

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from Grover Beach, California.

We are working on many matters, including the January-March edition of the BibleNewsProphecy magazine in Spanish. Due to email miscommunications, the original file did not get to the right place at the right time. Since then, the magazine has been translated and we are working on the formatting. That issue should be able to be printed and sent out sometime later this month.

It is currently, now, available online: Noticias de Profecía de la Biblia enero-marzo 2018.

Dating Booklet Planned

Immediately after I was praying about future subjects to cover in sermons, I decided to go through some old Worldwide Church of God literature for ideas and ran across something on dating.

The more I considered the subject, the more I decided that I should not only address it in a sermon sometime later this year, but should also work on a booklet on dating. So, I began to write something the past few days. While it will likely take at least a few months, I do expect that the dating booklet is likely to be the next booklet we will print.

I am still working on a book related to the canon of the Bible, but decided that since it likely would not be able to be completed in 2018, that it will need to wait for now as I work on the dating booklet (and other writings, like the magazine, etc.).

Marriage

Since I mentioned dating, which normally precedes marriage, let me state the position of the Continuing Church of God on performing marriages.

The Apostle Paul taught:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

Since we strive to live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), Continuing Church of God ministers are NOT allowed to perform marriage ceremonies unless both the bride and the groom are Church of God Christians.

We have NOT had problems with this to the best of my knowledge, but I thought I would try publicly to clarify our position.

This is not a change. It just was not specified on an any official CCOG website before now.

This position is consistent with our public teachings and practices. For example, the following statement has long been part of an article at COGwriter.com on marriage (see Making Your Marriage Work):

Because of being unequally-yoked, Continuing Church of God ministers are prohibited from marrying a Christian member to a someone who is not a REAL Christian.

This position is also consistent with what the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God states related to marriage:

BIBLICAL MARRIAGE

The Bible only condones sexual relations in marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18-7:5).  Furthermore, Jesus taught that marriage is one between one natural man and one natural woman (Mark 10:6-9) and is intended to be for life (Matthew 19:3-9; cf. 2 Corinthians 7:39).

In the Bible, other sexual relations are condemned (e.g. Exodus 20: 14; Romans 1:24-32; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17-18; 27:21), as is transvestism (Deuteronomy 22:5), and improper attraction (e.g. Exodus 20:17; Leviticus 18:6-23; 20:15-16; Matthew 5:27-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). People practicing, or desiring to practice, homosexuality, bisexuality, adultery, fornication, transvestism, bestiality, or other forms of sexual immorality are not welcome to attend church services or otherwise be considered as members of the Continuing Church of God without true repentance consistent with biblical teachings (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

The New Testament shows that marriage helps picture the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32). God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and in the New Testament, divorce is only allowed in very limited circumstances (Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-9; 1 Corinthians 7).

The Bible also teaches,“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16; cf. 7:39), thus the Church opposes marriage between true Christians and unbelievers (with the biblical exception of Exodus 22:16).

While we know we have many scattered, we do not want people to compromise with their faith when it comes to any matters, including marriage.

More Spanish Materials

We received more items translated in the Spanish language:

Why Does Jesus Have Two Different Genealogies listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3?
¿Por qué Jesús tiene dos genealogías diferentes las cuales aparecen en Mateo 1 y Lucas 3?
http://www.cdlidd.es/por-que-jesus-tiene-dos-genealogias-diferentes-las-cuales-aparecen-en-mateo-1-y-lucas-3/

The Bible, Church History, and Sacred Names
La Biblia, la historia de la Iglesia, y los nombres sagrados
http://www.cdlidd.es/la-biblia-la-historia-de-la-iglesia-y-los-nombres-sagrados/

Real marriage was created by God
El verdadero matrimonio fue creado por Dios
http://www.cdlidd.es/el-verdadero-matrimonio-fue-creado-por-dios/

Pastor resignation related to ‘Amen’? Is using ‘Amen’ wrong?
¿Renuncia de los pastores relacionada con el ‘Amén’? ¿Es erróneo usar el ‘Amén’?
http://www.cdlidd.es/renuncia-de-los-pastores-relacionada-con-el-amen-es-erroneo-usar-el-amen/

Mueller investigation: Is the USA a house that is divided?
Investigación de Mueller: ¿Son los EE.UU. una casa que está dividida?
http://www.cdlidd.es/investigacion-de-mueller-son-los-ee-uu-una-casa-que-esta-dividida/

Palestinian and biblical positions on Jerusalem
Los Palestinos y posiciones bíblicas sobre Jerusalén
http://www.cdlidd.es/los-palestilnos-y-posiciones-biblicas-sobre-jerusalen/

CDC plans to brief Americans about nuclear war
CDC planea informar a los estadounidenses sobre la guerra nuclear
http://www.cdlidd.es/cdc-planea-informar-a-los-estadounidenses-sobre-la-guerra-nuclear/

Over 262,000 Salvadorians may have to leave the USA
Más de 262,000 salvadoreños pueden tener que dejar los EE.UU.
http://www.cdlidd.es/mas-de-262000-salvadorenos-pueden-tener-que-dejar-los-ee-uu/

The Church of Rome gets some things right, but others wrong, about church history
La Iglesia de Roma tiene algunas cosas correctas, pero otras equivocadas, acerca de la historia de la iglesia
http://www.cdlidd.es/la-iglesia-de-roma-tiene-algunas-cosas-correctas-pero-otras-equivocadas-acerca-de-la-historia-de-la-iglelsia/

The Sabbath Sentinel: Sabbath–Post New Testament
El Centinela del Sábado: El Sábado del Nuevo Testamento
http://www.cdlidd.es/el-centinela-del-sabado-el-sabado-del-nuevo-testamento/

BibleNewsProphecy: Evangelical support for Donald Trump’s Jerusalem policy
BibleNewsProphecy: Apoyo evangélico para la política de Donald Trump sobre Jerusalén
http://www.cdlidd.es/biblenewsprophecy-apoyo-evangelico-para-la-politica-de-donald-trump-sobre-jerusalen/

While I do not normally include all the new Spanish language materials in the weekly Letter to the Brethren, since one of the above was translated because of a special request, I thought some of you may find this of interest.

We strive to reach peoples of all languages (cf. Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20; Revelation 7:9). And Spanish is the third most spoken language by total number of speakers (after Mandarin and English).

World News Items

US President Trump was in Davos, Switzerland to speak at the World Economic Forum (see Davos, Trump, Trade, and Brexit). Although he was reasonably well received there, many are concerned about his future trade policies. He alluded to some of them in his State of the Union address last night (see Trump’s ‘State of the Union’ raised trade war concerns). Various US trading partners are not pleased. This will not end well for the USA (cf. Daniel 11:39)–but there still is more time.

Speaking of times, they seem to be changing a bit in Europe. And this is more than distaste for US President Trump. Bjoern Hoecke, a senior leader in the German AfD party, vowed to ban Islam across Europe (see Senior AfD member vows to ban Islam across Europe). Notice the following:

Speaking to his AfD supporters on Saturday in Eisleben, Germany, Bjoern Hoecke said: “Once we come into power, we will enforce what is necessary for us to live our lives freely. We will issue the directive that after crossing the Bosporus, the three great M’s: Mohammed, Muezzin and minaret are over, dear friends!”

Let me add here that after the European Beast comes to power, he (and the final Antichrist) will end up taking steps to essentially eliminate Islam.

Europe is also trying to take steps to try to prevent China from ending up with all its technology (see EU wants to restrict China’s access to its technology; China wants to improve relations with Japan). Technology is going to be a key in the ‘marvelous’ future military success of the Beast (cf. Revelation 13:3-4; Daniel 11:39-43).

In Europe, we are also seeing more and more laws related to surveillance and speech limitations (see, for example Germany and Spain speech laws: A second ‘Spanish Inquisition’? Pope Francis on ‘Fake News’?). Western societies are not as ‘open’ as they want people to believe (see also George Soros, Facebook, Google, and governmental control). A ‘famine of the word of God’ is coming (Amos 8:11-12) and we continue to see more movements by governments that will make it easier for the Beast to come to implement.

In the Middle East, troubles remain in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a murderous terrorist attack there (see Taliban terrorist kills close to 100 in Afghanistan). Afghanistan, like the rest of the world, needs the Kingdom of God. So, we are striving to proclaim it (cf. Matthew 24:14).

A new survey found that the Palestinians and Israelis seem less hopeful for a peace deal, and many believe that war is a better way (see Why Israelis and Palestinians Increasingly Think War, Not Two States, Will Solve Their Conflict). The Europeans are also pressuring Israel to not allow Donald Trump’s influence to prevent them from  giving up territory for peace. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that a power other than the USA needs to be involved in negotiating peace in the region and that once it happens, Germany would move its embassy to Jerusalem (see Why Israelis and Palestinians Increasingly Think War, Not Two States, Will Solve Their Conflict). The Bible shows that there WILL BE EUROPEAN INVOLVEMENT of a regional deal (Daniel 9:26-27) and that a militaristic Germanic-European power will end up in Jerusalem (cf. Daniel 11:31).

China is proposing an Arctic road as part of its increasingly ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative (see Asia: China proposes ‘Polar Silk Road’ across Arctic to streamline trade (with Europe)). Such a road would be expected to reduce transport times for trade with Europe. The Bible shows that the merchants of the world will become wealthy trading with the coming Babylonian European power (cf. Revelation 18:3). China wants more trade with Europe and hopes to produce roads, etc. to facilitate it.

Some believe that the future for the post-Brexit UK needs to better be linked to Eurasia (see ‘Never mind Brexit, or even Europe. The future is Eurasian’). Such links will NOT stop the coming ‘time of Jacob’s troubles (Jeremiah 30:7) which will be a time of devastation for the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. But those who ignore biblical prophecy tend to walk by sight and not faith, which is the opposite of how Christians are to walk (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the new Bible News Prophecy online radio channel. IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE BibleNewsProphecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul wrote:

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)

Many scholars boast of their standing in the world and in various of the world’s churches–but they teach falsehoods, even if they claim Jesus as Lord.

Furthermore, notice that Jesus taught:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Intentionally mistranslating scriptures, teaching false doctrines, and teaching inaccurate versions of church history is related to the lawlessness we see in the world.

Brethren, the reason I closed like that is so you will realize the importance of what we teach, despite the false accusations against us.

Most in the world will not care for the recommended sermonette and sermon for this week.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

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