Letter to the Brethren: January 18, 2018

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California–the current headquarters for the Continuing Church of God. The sermonette recommended for this week is related to a ‘headquarters’ concern that was raised by some in Ethiopia.

Speaking of messages, when I was giving the sermon recommended for the week, I mentioned that there was only one main motorway to where we live. As it turns out, we found out later that when I was saying that, the main road (Highway 101) had been closed then due to flooding. It is still closed and did negatively impact our family (though it did not result in a lack of food or water). People must realize that problems can really happen–and biblically will (cf. Mark 13)–even in the USA!

Malawi

Evangelist Evans Ochieng flew to Malawi last night to visit leaders and congregations there, as well as to counsel various people for baptism. He has asked for prayers for this trip.

Feast of Tabernacles 2018

The Feast of Tabernacles (including the Last Great Day) will be from the evening of September 23rd until sunset October 1st in 2018.

This week I submitted our first requests for proposal for possible sites in the eastern USA.

We expect to have two sites in the USA, one in Canada, one in Serbia, one in New Zealand, and many in Africa in 2018.

Information on them is expected to be updated at the link: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2018.

It’s All About Love

This week, I would like to remind everyone what the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God really supposed to be all about.

Is it simply a group or corporation who thinks it follows the right rules?

No, though God’s laws are important and when properly kept show love (1 John 5:3).

We are to be all about love–real love.

Within 25 hours of the formation of the Continuing Church of God, I posted that it was really all about love (see The Philadelphia remnant: it is really all about love). The ‘give way’ of life.

While rules are important (cf. John 14:15; Matthew 23:23), what is most important?

According to the Jesus, the apostles, and the late Herbert W. Armstrong, and the ContinuingChurch of God, love is what is most important.

God’s plan involves love. Notice what Jesus said:

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

But it is not just God who is to love. Notice some of what Mark recorded:

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34)

The importance of love is confirmed by many in the New Testament. Notice the following statement from the Apostle Paul:

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Notice some passages written by the Apostle John:

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:7-21)

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:1-4)

The following is from Herbert Armstrong’s book The Mystery of the Ages:

True religion–God’s truth empowered with the love of God imparted by the Holy Spirit…JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ–of knowing TRUTH–and the warmth of God’s divine LOVE!…

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”… And what was Jesus’ appearance? It was that of a human man, for he also was the Son of man…

Most important of all however is what is God’s nature–his CHARACTER–like? One cannot know what God is unless he know what his CHARACTER is!

THE CHARACTER of both God the Father and Christ the Son is that of spiritual holiness, righteousness and absolute perfection.

That character might be summed up in the one word LOVE, defined as an outflowing, loving concern. It is the way of giving, serving, helping, sharing, not the “GET” way.

It is the way devoid of coveting, lust and greed, vanity and selfishness, competition, strife, violence and destruction, envy and jealousy, resentment and bitterness…

God’s law is spiritual and can be summed up in one simple but all-inclusive word–love. His law for the guidance of human conduct is subdivided into the two great commandments, love toward God and love toward neighbor. These, in turn, are subdivided into the 10 Commandments. Jesus magnified this law by showing how its principle expands to cover virtually every possible human infraction…

Bear in mind the government of God is based on the LAW of God, which is the way of life of outflowing LOVE, cooperation, concern for the good of the governed…

Full comprehension of God’s LAW (his way of life) is imparted by God through the Holy Spirit. But the law of God requires action and performance, and LOVE is the fulfilling of God’s law (Rom. 13:10), and it can be fulfilled only by the love of and from God (Rom. 5:5)…

In the plagues God caused against Egypt, God was turning the Egyptian gods and objects of worship against them to show them that these were not gods. Even the plagues were sent in LOVE for the Egyptians…

A Christian must grow and develop in grace, spiritual knowledge and godly character… showing more love or outgoing concern toward others…

The very basic teaching, belief AND DOCTRINE OF God’s true Church therefore is based on the righteousness of and obedience to the law of God. That law is LOVE. But it is not human love. Human love cannot rise above the level of human self-centeredness. It must be “the love of God…shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit]” (Rom. 5:5). Ancient Israel could not really obey God’s law–they could have kept it according to the strict letter of the law. But since love is the fulfilling of the law and they had only human self-centered love, they could not have kept the law according to the spirit–because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given.

This basic teaching includes, therefore, all the “fruits of the Holy Spirit”–love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, etc.

The teachings of God’s true Church are simply those of “living by every word” of the Holy Bible…

Men shall turn from the way of “get” to the way of “give”–God’s way of love.

A NEW CIVILIZATION shall now grip the earth!

Proclaiming that new civilization is to come and be based upon love is a major part of what the true gospel of the kingdom is all about.

The Apostle Paul referred to part of it in one place as “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Many think that they have knowledge, faith, etc. and think that they are fine. But most Christians in the end times do not have Philadelphian love. They do not have the work that God expects them to have.

Jesus warned that the Laodiceans thought they needed nothing, but He said that they needed to change (Revelation 3:14-22). Paul says love, however does not puff up.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Many Laodiceans say that they have endured enough, hence do not wish to risk making the type of changes that those with Philadelphian love would make.

Love is never fails and is more important than what many in the last days are focused on.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

Love is important.

To learn about your own role, please check out the article What is the Meaning of Life?

Google Campaign

Google reported that our campaign with them reached 2,247,630 computers last month. That is up from the previous month. In addition COGwriter.com and the official CCOG websites are also reaching people over the internet (as do our YouTube channels).

A witness to the good news of the gospel of the kingdom of God is going forth as we are working to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.

World News Items

The USA has been taking steps that Iran does not like (see Iran vs. Donald Trump: Europe facing pressure). Statements by US President Donald Trump on Iran and other matters is also isolating the USA from more and more nations. One day, “friends” of the USA will betray it (cf. Lamentations 1:1-2).

There was a missile scare in Hawaii and one in Japan caused by accident/false information (see It’s not just Hawaii, Japanese broadcaster issues false alarm over North Korean missile launch). False warnings and false prophecies tend to turn people away from taking steps that they should. Also, there have been various false reports from Jewish sources (e.g. ‘Torah scholar’ claims United Nations is Gog and USA is Esau). Brethren, believe the Bible as its prophecies are coming to pass. Do not be swayed by those that do not have “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV).

As far as ‘scares’ go, the annual World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report found that nuclear war, extreme weather, political uncertainties, and economic matters were consider threats in 2018 for people around the world (see ‘Nuclear war, extreme weather top list of 2018 threats in global survey’). Jesus spoke of a time of troubles and sorrows that would include things such as those (cf. Mark 13:5-8).

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 John wrote the following:

3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. (2 John 3)

Brethren, we all need to be thankful for God’s grace, mercy, and peace. Practice the truth in love.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer