Letter to the Brethren: December 3, 2020

Posted on December 3, 2020 by CCOG

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

Vaccines

In the Q&A sermon recommended this week (watch CCOG Q&A: OMG, Europe, German Identity, Vaccines, & more!), I ended up discussing vaccines as the last of the questions covered. This weekly letter seems to be a good time to go into the matter further.

So, here is a more detailed CCOG written position on vaccines and personal health decisions:

All people should try to live healthy lives (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). All people should strive to eat what is good (Isaiah 55:2). All should practice proper sanitation (Deuteronomy 23:12). All should strive to avoid sin (e.g Romans 6:12; Ephesians 4:26). Because of disobedience and other factors, many diseases afflict people (cf. Deuteronomy 28:58-61).

Instead of sufficiently striving to live according to God’s ways, society has developed modern medicine and vaccines. Vaccines, of themselves, are not bad. Some aspects of modern medicine can be good. Vaccines have helped prevent some diseases (like Yellow Fever) that even proper sanitary practices do not prevent. However, vaccines do not react the same in all people and some people have serious, and in rare instances sometimes fatal, reactions to them. Vaccines do not benefit every individual.

Various court decisions have upheld the rights of individuals seeking exemptions from immunizations/inoculations/vaccinations based upon “personal” religious beliefs. (Sherr and Levy vs. Northport East-Northport Union Free School District, 672 F. Supp. 81, (E.D.N.Y., 1987); (Allanson vs. Clinton Central School District, U.S. District Court, Northern District Court, Northern District of New York (84 CV 174), 1984; Campain vs. Marlboro Central School District, Supreme Court Ulster County Special Term, November 15, 1985; Brown vs. City School District, 429 NYS2d 355; Maier vs, Betat 73 Misc2d 241).

Some professions and others for various reasons may need to (or be required to) get one or more vaccines or other medical interventions and the Church does not prohibit this.

Christians should not live in fear (cf. Luke 12:32), but look toward Jesus and the coming Kingdom of God.

The Church also holds that we as a body are to work to fulfill Jesus’ commissions in Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20–both of which includes reaching people in all nations. Hence, some individuals may wish to voluntarily receive vaccinations or comply with various medical guidelines which will allow them to travel to support the commission.

The Church holds the doctrinal position that “that which is not of faith is sin”(Romans 14:23). Therefore, being immunized/inoculated/vaccinated/medically-treated could constitute sin for someone based on their beliefs. Furthermore, it should be noted that many vaccines are made from substances that the Bible says not to consume (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). Consequently, the Church fully supports any members request for exemption from immunization/ inoculation/vaccination/medical intervention for his/her self. Church of God members, have requested exemptions from vaccinations (and some other medical procedures) since the 20th century, which is the century that vaccines became widely used and available.

It is not the position of the Church to tell someone if they must or must not receive a vaccine or some other medical intervention. As the Apostle Paul wrote:

5 … Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5)

Count the cost (cf. Luke 14:28) and consider getting wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14) when making a vaccine or non-vaccine decision.

When making decisions for children, be cognizant of local laws.

In our case, none of our children have been vaccinated. Nor have Joyce or I received any vaccines for over 4 decades (I was once in the military and did receive what was required there in the 1970s).

Yet, if in order to travel we would have to get a vaccine (like perhaps one associated with COVID-19) we would consider doing so as we do not consider it biblically prohibited nor is it “the mark of the beast.”

If, for example, Joyce and I conclude early enough in 2021 that we are able to go to Australia for the Feast in 2021 we may have to get a COVID vaccine (if we can even get one as there are supply limits, plus we really do not want to get one). Australia’s Qantas airlines has said it plans to require the COVID vaccine for air passengers (and expects other airlines to follow its lead on this). Therefore, getting it may be something we may need to do if we are able to go there to help fulfill Matthew 28:19-20.

This does not mean we place our trust in vaccines nor that we trust the pharmaceutical industry.

The new COVID-19 vaccines seem to be quite different from most earlier vaccines, and hence may cause problems in some people that no one has anticipated:

There is a race to get the public vaccinated, so we are willing to take more risk. … if Pfizer succeeds – or Moderna, … these will be the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines brought to market for human patients.

In order to receive Food and Drug Administration approval, the companies will have to prove there are no immediate or short-term negative health effects from taking the vaccines. But when the world begins inoculating itself with these completely new and revolutionary vaccines, it will know virtually nothing about their long-term effects. …

When Moderna was just finishing its Phase I trial, The Independent wrote about the vaccine and described it this way: “It uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells’ protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus.”

“In this case, Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is programmed to make your cells produce the coronavirus’ infamous coronavirus spike protein that gives the virus its crown-like appearance (corona is crown in Latin) for which it is named,” wrote The Independent.

Brosh said that this does not mean the vaccine changes people’s genetic code. Rather, he said it is more like a USB device (the mRNA) that is inserted into a computer (your body). It does not impact the hard drive of the computer but runs a certain program.

But he acknowledged that there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions. …

MICHAL LINIAL, a professor of biological chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the Post that she believes there is no cause for concern.

Linial explained that “mRNA is a very fragile molecule, meaning it can be destroyed very easily… If you put mRNA on the table, for example, in a minute there will not be any mRNA leftover. This is as opposed to DNA, which is as stable as you get.” … she said several questions remain, such as whether these vaccines will really be able to mount a sufficiently protective immune response and how long that immunity would last.

“It would be the worst [scenario] if people behave like they are immune but can still become infected,” Linial said. (Jaffe-Hoffman M. Could mRNA COVID-19 vaccines be dangerous in the long-term? Jerusalem Post, November 17, 2020)

Human “health experts” do not know ALL. Unlike God, whose understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5), humans are limited, have biases, and simply cannot know everything. There can always be unintended consequences with medical interventions, including vaccines, for many reasons (including biochemical individuality).

Notice also the following related to the UK:

Nadhim Zahawi, the newly appointed minister to oversee the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine deployment, says the proof of vaccination could be held on a phone application already used in Britain as part of the government’s track and trace system.

“… I think you’d probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system as they’ve done with the app,” Zahawi told the BBC on Monday.

Zahawi explained that while the vaccine should be voluntary, he believes Brits will find that most businesses will require proof of vaccination before providing service.

“I think people have to make a decision but I think you’ll probably find many service providers will want to engage in this in the way they did with the app,” he said. 11/30/20 https://planetfreewill.news/uk-minister-warns-brits-could-be-denied-normal-life-without-covid-vaccination/

Yes, some want to force vaccines and pretend that such pressure is voluntary–despite the short testing time for the COVID ones they are in the process of pressuring people to take.

My wife and I recognize that there are health risks associated with pretty much all vaccines (and many medical interventions), and many of those risks are not known until years after people get vaccinated/treated.

Personally, I prefer more natural approaches to medical ones. And despite working with people of ill health for decades, I have not taken a prescription Rx since being persuaded to take a total of three pills of one over as many days in late 1977 (nor have I had any shots since leaving the military). That being said, many overly tout what they call “natural interventions” to deal with issues that they do not always properly help with. And even if they do (for example I have successfully treated people with COVID-19), airlines, various companies, and various government officials often do not count them as legitimate–and hence we will see much pressure towards pushing vaccines.

In the case of COVID, the recently announced ones require two visits to a medical professional and have been reported to make many feel ill (see COVID vaccines make people sick, and two doses seem to be required). But they are the direction society is pushing. Notice also that the USA and Wales plan to issue COVID vaccine cards:

“Everyone will be issued a written card that they can put in their wallet that will tell them what they had and when their next dose is due,” according to Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition in a report by CNN.

The CDC issued a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook which states “For most COVID-19 vaccine products, two doses of vaccine, separated by 21 or 28 days, will be needed. Because different COVID-19 vaccine products will not be interchangeable, a vaccine recipient’s second dose must be from the same manufacturer as their first dose.” 12/02/20 https://www.kron4.com/health/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination-cards-will-be-issued-officials-say/

The Welsh government has announced that people who take the COVID vaccine will get immunisation ID cards, raising the prospect that people could need to prove they’ve taken the shot before being allowed to enter venues. https://summit.news/2020/12/02/welsh-government-says-people-will-get-id-cards-to-prove-theyve-been-vaccinated/

The vaccine situation is complicated, so you should do your own research. Be careful, however, as both pro- and anti-vaxxers are not always forthcoming and have been shown to exaggerate beyond real facts.

“Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).

India, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Haiti, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia

Per my request, various leaders have provided numbers of congregants in various lands.

From our deacon in India:

We have 39 members who have been baptised and another equal number who are co-workers who await baptism.

Our feast participants number nearly 80.

From deacon Koang Deng, here are parts of two emails:

Truly, we do have more number here in Ethiopia than that of South Sudan.

Ethiopia has … Total number 88.

For South Sudan {50}…

Truly, we do have no saint appeared now in Eritrea at this time but in a future it will be in God power as the bible said, every nations and tongues will come in his kingdom.

He also mentioned also that there are another 52 in Ethiopia that expressed interest, but he is not convinced that they are yet faithful.

In Haiti, we have 20 people.

From evangelist Evans Ochieng:The church members in Tanzania are 65 they were 67 but two left. One died and another man … left.While in Uganda we have 8 people.

From deacon Radson Mulozowa:

Zambia … Last time they report to have 50 brethren …

We need to send various ones to visit people in several of these areas (cf. Romans 10:14-15).

The fullness/full number of the Gentiles need to come in (Romans 11:25) and many are coming with the CCOG.

Serbia

CCOG elder Sasha Veljic sent in the following report:

UPDATE

We have 6 regular Sabbath and Holy Days attendances in Serbia.  Four members are baptized, one person is being prepared for baptism and another is having issues with Sabbaths and Holy Days off, but attends more-less regularly.

The small Serbian congregation has got various challenges, both economic and personal, as we are beset with various troubles through which we are to enter into the Kingdom of God.  Various individuals have come and gone through this small congregation and many of them left to follow their own ways and their own ideas, so what we have in Serbia is a remnant of the true Church of God and it is indeed a small remnant.  Considering the short time we have left, we don’t expect any great increase in numbers, nor do we care about the numbers for it has been proven throughout the history of the true Church that its numbers are never great.

We hold services in the usual Church format that is laid out in the Letters to the brethren.  We have a Serbian translation of many of our hymns.  Recently hymn 74 was arranged by Aleksandar Stanisavljevic in Serbian, so we are soon going to sing it in our native tongue.  The hymn conductor is Slobodan Balovic.  From time to time we use your recorded sermons, which quite often even coincide with the topics we cover in Serbian.  Such was the case with the topic on Bible canon.  Other times I deliver messages in Serbian.  Currently, we are covering the book of Ezekiel, chapter by chapter, and we will do so until the end of January.  Then we will start preparation and self-examination for the Passover!  All the Serbian messages are audio recorded.  We avoid video recording because people tend to focus on visual and because we don’t have the best equipment for that.  At one point, I had a feedback that some of my audio messages were listened by 25,000 people in the Balkans.  Now, many are listening just out of curiosity, but are not willing to commit their lives to God.

Due to a popular demand worldwide, we have been serving other members through Skype by using exactly the same format outlined in the Letter to the brethren.  Due to time zone differences, the listeners in North America get those messages around the noon.  After that, they usually listen later on the Sabbath the message you have put out for the given week.  For others who tune in, the Sabbath is over, so they use that message as a Bible study and they use your messages for the Sabbath services in their lands.  In that way the abundant spiritual food is served every Sabbath to our members worldwide.  We are also currently covering the book of Ezekiel in English and after January we will enter into pre-Passover self-examination and preparation for the most solemn occasion for all Christians.  English messages are also recorded and regularly posted online on Brighteon site which guarantees the freedom of expression.

The house where we keep the Sabbath still needs some refurbishing, restoration and furnishing, but we are grateful for having a place to meet in peace and not being persecuted by the landlady.  I am also currently creating a catalogue of the library we have here.  It is named “The Hope of Israel” (after Jeremiah 17 and Romans 11) which has a special section with CCOG publications.  Catalogue will be searchable and it will allow us to always know what materials we have available in both Serbian and English language.

I have written a draft of a booklet on Constantine in Serbian.  I still need to add some more data to it.  I also have a draft work in Serbian on the Passover.  I need to revise it and will release it electronically around the Passover.

These would be the most relevant things about our activities here, as we are enduring and watching the scene being set for Carl Theodor zu Guttenberg to step on it.

With best regards and gratitude,
Sasha

Elder Veljic has also been working with various ones around the world–and not just Eastern Europe.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

  • 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. The one suggested for this week is: The Apostle Philip. Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy 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: CCOG Q&A: OMG, Europe, German Identity, Vaccines, & more! 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 (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 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 Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

World News Items

We continue to see odd/extreme weather in various parts of the world (see ‘Sydney records hottest November night on record’ ‘Drought conditions worsen throughout California’ ‘2020 Atlantic hurricane season … a record-breaking 30 named storms’). These are consistent with the time of “troubles” Jesus foretold (Mark 13:8).

Various governments around the world, including the USA and Canada, have taken steps to increase debt as the result of what their COVID-19 policies have done to their economies (see COVID: USA and Canada intend to further increase debt). Various ones believe that this ultimately will result in hyperinflation in the USA (see Birch: Why a Hyperinflation “Time Bomb” Could Explode in 2021). Increasing debt will NOT end well for the USA (cf. Habakkuk 2:6-8).

Some believe that the UK and EU will make a trade deal soon (see “Brexit: Next days ‘decisive’ for hopes of deal, says EU’s Ursula von der Leyen,” as PESCO moves ahead). While some type of trade will continue between them, the Europeans are working on their military (see also Germany’s SPD proposes European army, UK concerned, and the Bible teaches that Europe will have a ‘great army’) and that will NOT end well for the UK (cf. Daniel 8:24-25; Isaiah 17:3).

It is reported that Australia intends to have a military alliance with Japan (see ‘Its China Ties Corroding, Australia to Sign Military Deal with US Ally Japan’), but no, that will not protect Australia from what will come there (see also Will the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves?).

The government of Iran has accused the government of Israel of assassinating one of its famed nuclear scientists (see ZH: Iran Accuses Israel Of Seeking To Provoke “Full-Blown War” With Brazen Assassination). This type of matter may end up being a factor in Iran, along with Syria, causing the prophesied military damage to Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 22:6-9).

Concluding Comments

The Apostle John was inspired to record the following about Jesus’ words:

33 … In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:20-21)

Yes, brethren, the world and our own circumstances can be difficult. But we can have peace in Jesus.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer