Letter to the Brethren: August 29, 2019

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

We trust you had a positive and character building week.

Study the Bible Course

STUDY THE BIBLE COURSE

Lesson 1:  Why Study the Bible?

We spent some time getting more of the Study the Bible Course lessons in English online.

We are now in the process of getting all of the Spanish-language edition lessons online as well as it only the first lesson was loaded years ago (see Lección 1 En castellano). This will take some time to complete. Materials have to be reformatted from Portable Document Format (generally known as pdf files) to WordPress format, and we have started on this.

We expect to have nearly all of the Spanish language lessons to be online before the Feast of Tabernacles.

Integrity Matters

The Bible teaches:

10 Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully, (Jeremiah 48:10)

As most of you are aware, I left my last church because of repeated integrity issues with its leadership, as well as partially because of how it changed to define itself (for some details, see Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).

After comparing biblical teachings to their actions (and lack of keeping promises they repeatedly made), I concluded that the ‘Philadelphia mantle’ could not be with the top administrative leadership in that organization, and that the mantle had passed as one of its ministers had speculated to me it may have a couple of times.

In CCOG, we have since had to deal with other leaders with integrity issues of various types.

In 2013, we actually had two leaders in Kenya with the same first and last name (but from different towns). The first one turned out to be a complete fraud, while the other one was not. The first leader we started to work with in Malawi, while not a complete fraud, had severe integrity issues, so we stopped working with him. As it turned out, in time, we ended up with many more times the number of congregants in both Kenya and Malawi than those leaders with integrity problems claimed to have.

Recently, I am saddened to say, we became aware of an integrity problem with a leader in Mexico (Ismael Jimenez). So I investigated this by checking with multiple sources. Furthermore, I and a minister from another COG group gave him opportunities to repent and ‘come clean’ so to speak, but as of yet he has not truly done so. So, the CCOG has had to drop affiliation with him and we hope and pray that he repents. We also pray that those who had fellowship with him will one day see the truth about this and again wish to support the work of the Philadelphian remnant.

Working on this matter took up inordinate amounts of time, and more time looks to be required.

The Bible shows that dealing with people who have integrity issues is not new to the Church of God. Even Simon Magus believed and was baptized by the Apostle Philip (Acts 8:13). The Apostle Paul ended up having problems with many he worked with in Asia Minor (2 Timothy 1:15), as did the Apostle John (3 John 9-10).

Jesus had to deal with the false as well (John 6:70). Furthermore, Jesus specifically predicted that Philadelphians would have to deal with false ones (Revelation 3:7-9) and we in CCOG have ended up doing so.

World News Items

Yesterday, Pope Francis said that Christians should be “inspired” by the “holiness” of the heretical teacher Augustine of Hippo (see Zenit: ‘Be Inspired By His Holiness,’ Pope Francis Recalls Memorial of St. Augustine; COGwriter: Augustine was not a saint nor holy). Augustine’s 4th/5th century writings help the Church of Rome develop its purgatory doctrine, anti-millennial teachings, and its original sin doctrine, just to name three heresies.

It was announced last week that Church of Rome is helping put together a committee to push for of a universal acceptance of multiple religions (see Multi-faith committee set up to spread Pope Francis’ claim that God wills ‘diversity of religions’). And even more ‘Babylonian’ religious system will be put together than we have seen so far related to the city of Seven Hills (cf. Revelation 17).

The G-7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) met in a three-day conference in France that ended on Monday. The leaders have concerns about trade, Iran, and the climate, but do not seem to have accomplished anything of note. Basically most of the players would like US President Donald Trump to change to their views or at least tone down some of his rhetoric (see also G-7: Trade, China, and Tensions).

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson keeps pushing for Britain to exit the EU, even without a deal. This position is also backed by US President Trump (see AP: Johnson wins Trump’s approval for tough approach to Brexit). Boris Johnson even got Queen Elizabeth II to approve a temporal closing of the UK Parliament next month that he seems to believe will help get the UK out of the European Union (see BBC: Boris Johnson asks Queen to suspend Parliament; AP: UK opposition reacts with fury to Parliament suspension; But Queen approves). Currently, neither the EU or UK wants to give in on negotiations (see Parties dig in heels on Brexit: What will happen to the EU and UK?). The Europeans will not forgive the Brits or Americans for this (cf. Daniel 8:24-25; 11:39).

Israel took what has been called a preemptive strike against Iranian drones in Syria (see ‘Why Iran Is Risking a Major Escalation With Israel’). Israel, despite its military prowess, is at risk of being greatly damaged by Iran and/or Syria (cf. Isaiah 22:1-14). Military action in the Middle East will apparently be the catalyst for the peace deal of Daniel 9:27–the confirmation of which will be the ‘count down’ to the start of the Great Tribulation.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week for our scattered brethren:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. Here is the recommended sermonette for the week: Doomsday Preppers and Preparation. Other sermonettes are also available at the BibleNewsProphecy channel.
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Eastern Orthodox 40+ Similar Beliefs to the CCOG. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

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 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 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 ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:49-53)

Brethren, we are to bear the image of Jesus! Therefore strive to be as incorruptible as possible in this age.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer