Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings friends and brethren.
We received another 25 translations of our English booklet titled The Gospel of the Kingdom of God this week. We now have around 1100-1200 translations. Having this many translations of literature about the good news of the coming Kingdom of God has never, as far as I know, been done by any group (COG or otherwise) throughout the entire church age.
The Politics of This Age
With the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary behind us, the USA and much of the world is focusing a lot on who may be elected President of the United States this November.
From time to time we see the candidates bring religion into their campaigns.
Should Christians vote? The Bible teaches that Christians should follow Jesus’ example (Philippians 2:5). So if Jesus was an American citizen, would He vote?
In the USA, some seem to think that Jesus would vote for members of the Democratic party, because Democrats are perceived by some to be more compassionate than Republicans. Others feel certain that Jesus would vote for Republicans because Republicans are perceived by some to be more “pro-life” (anti-abortion) than Democrats. Some others, noting hypocrisy in both major parties, feel that Jesus would vote for the candidates offered by the smaller political parties due to their personalities or views on different subjects.
Democracy, by the way, is not new.
Democracy was known before the time of Christ. In ancient Greece, all the male citizens were expected to vote on the issues facing their society. The Greeks introduced the concept of democracy to the Romans. The Romans (who were somewhat skeptical of the Greek model) set up a modified form of democracy called a republic. In a republic, elected representatives are supposed to vote for their interpretation of the will of the people. The U.S. (which on paper is a republic), other “democracies” of the world (with Switzerland as perhaps the most notable exception as it is more patterned after the Greek model), and even many churches are patterned after the Roman model.
Most people in western societies seem to feel that some form of democracy is the best form of government. Would God agree? The Bible warns us, “there is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25). It also warns us, “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
In Genesis 2:17 God warned Adam and Eve to not partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam and Eve did not listen to God. After listening to Satan, they decided that they did not need to listen to God but that they should decide for themselves (Genesis 3:1-6). This is the first recorded act of human democracy in action.
Nowhere in the entire Bible do we see God sanctioning democracy.
The Bible shows that God appointed his leaders and made them known to his people. From Enoch to Noah to Moses to David to the Prophets to Jesus and even to the Apostles, we read nothing about God encouraging democracy. Actually according to the Bible, democracy is condemned. When Samuel was God’s appointed leader/judge, the majority of the people wanted a king like the rest of the world. Even though there appeared to have been legitimate criticisms of Samuel’s leadership, God told Samuel that the people had rejected God and not Samuel (I Samuel 8:1-9). The Bible says it was evil in the sight of God for the people to ask to have a government like the other nations around them (I Samuel 12: 17).
The Bible teaches that God sets up as leaders whomever He wants (Daniel 4:17).
The Bible records incidences of religious leaders who felt that they were as good as the ones that God appointed, but God had other ideas. For example, Korah (who was a religious leader and a Levite) was apparently in favor of voting and a republican form of government (which is what, the United States, for example, claims to have). After assembling 250 supporters (who were community leaders/representatives) he said to Moses and Aaron:
3 You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? (Numbers 16:3).
God clearly did not agree with Korah’s assessment and God decreed death to Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:32). When some of the people thought that God’s punishment was excessive, God also severely punished them (Numbers 16:49). Thus, God did not sanction voting in a republican form of government.
If democracy was to be sanctioned in the Bible for Christians, most certainly it would be sanctioned in the New Testament. Greek and Roman ways were widely known. In the New Testament we read of Jesus appointing apostles. Paul writes that God first appoints apostles, secondarily prophets, etc. for the edifying the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11,12).
When Judas needed to be replaced (after his betrayal of Jesus and his suicide), the apostles did not have an election, they followed the Biblical example of seeking God’s will:
24 You, O Lord, who know hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen…26 And they cast their lots. (Acts 1:24,26).
Notice the apostles did not decide that they were qualified to see into a person’s heart.
Some have written that various forms of democracy are now acceptable because they believe certain scriptures in the book of Acts imply it. The primary verses appear to be in the story of Acts 15. In Acts 15 many of the apostles and elders met together to discuss circumcision and Gentile believers. A multitude of counsellors was used to discuss the matter. Some feel that using counsel is indicative of democracy. However, the fact that a multitude of counsellors was used does not change God’s form of government. In the Old Testament we read that not only has God always encouraged this practice (Proverbs 11:14), we also read that God himself engaged in it (2 Chronicles 18;18-21); thus the fact that some of the Church leadership followed this practice only shows that God’s governmental practices from the Old Testament were to be continued.
It is interesting to note something else mentioned in the Book of Acts:
38 “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it–lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:38-39)
Those who vote in worldly elections apparently believe they know aspects of the plan of God that there is no human way they could know. Yet, look at what God said to Samuel, one clearly called and appointed by God, when Samuel thought he knew who should be the next king over Israel:
6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him.” 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:6-7).
It is also interesting to realize that many who believe that the New Testament sanctions democracy also believe that God’s future ruling government (in the Kingdom of God) will not be a democracy.
Jesus told the apostles that they would be rulers over the twelve tribes of Israel in his kingdom (Luke 22:30). Jesus chose the disciples, they did not get their positions from any form of democracy (John 15:16; 6:70). God, not man, chose David to be king over Israel originally (Acts 13:22) and has also chosen him to be king over all Israel in the world ahead (Jeremiah 30:9).
By the way, Jesus said that God the Father has reserved who will have certain positions of authority in the kingdom of God (Mat 20:23). The rewards in the kingdom will be Jesus’ to give (Revelation 22:12); they will not be for the people to take for themselves.
Democracy will not be God’s form of government in His kingdom.
One of the many problems of voting is that no human thinks the way God does.
8 ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways’, says the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).
When Jesus was on Earth he proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of God and told people to repent (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus refused to participate in even the most elementary governmental decisions while He was on the earth (Luke 12:13-14).
Although Jesus taught that we were to pay taxes (Matthew 22:17-21), He also taught that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). Jesus taught His disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel to everyone (Matthew 28:19,20). Jesus said that His disciples were to be in the world, but not of it (John 17:11-16).
The apostle Peter clearly understood this. He wrote that being part of God’s people made one part of a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). The apostle Paul wrote that this present world was evil (Galatians 1:4).
The Apostle John was inspired to write:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world â€” the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life â€” is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
The Bible warns of the consequences of being part of the world’s systems and its governments and tells us to come out of it and to be separate:
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:17)
2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:2-5)
The world’s system is evil and unclean. We strive to be separate from it.
Look at what the Bible teaches will happen in the Last Days and what Christians are to do about it,
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Note that God’s word does not encourage voting as the solution.
Paul said that Christians are to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
What is an ambassador? Merriam-Webster has the following definition:
1 : an official envoy; especially : a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment
2 a : an authorized representative or messenger
If you are a real Christian, you are an authorized, official envoy, for Christ!
Ambassadors often live in alien nations, some of which are clearly hostile to their beliefs. Ambassadors, though they live in other societies, do not involve themselves in the politics of the societies that they live in. There is a time for God’s people to take over the governments of this world, but it is not yet (John 18:36, Daniel 7:17-18). It will be after the second coming of Jesus (2 Thessalonians 4:16, Revelation 11:15).
To Christians, Peter wrote:
9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 11Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Honor Authority 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:9-15, NASB).
Aliens and strangers in a land do not vote.
Now the Bible does mention one particular vote by the Apostle Paul (while he was still Saul and thus unconverted). Notice what he later said about it:
9 Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them (Acts 26:9-10).
And while the above is not of itself a blanket condemnation of all voting, it is the only time the word “vote” or “voting” is in the Bible. And it does show that even religiously zealous/conservative/liberal individuals do not always vote correctly and can do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Do not get caught up in the politics of this world.
If Christians are not supposed to vote to select leaders, what should we do about leaders?
Pray for them!
Notice what Paul wrote:
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
Notice that we are to pray for worldly leaders and those that have authority over us so that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life. Nothing like this is said for voting that many falsely claim is their “Christian” duty–prayer for leaders is.
We are also to pray for our spiritual leaders. Notice what Jesus taught:
2 The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2).
Notice what Paul taught:
25 Brethren, pray for us (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
We also are to pray:
14 The will of the Lord be done (Acts 21:14).
Similarly, Jesus taught:
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:7-10).
And that, I believe, should be the type of prayer that Christians have about elections. Followers of the true God are also told to:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7).
Voting for one promoting evil (abortion in the case of most USA Democrats and “country first,” in violation of the first commandment, in the case of certain USA Republicans) is not a Christian thing to do.
Many people, however, apparently are not satisfied with the biblical admonitions to trust God to choose political leaders. This is not new (1 Samuel 8:6-7).
And while I can certainly understand that people often feel that they should do more, people often forget that God inspired Jeremiah to write:
23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23).
Also notice what Hosea was inspired to write:
6 Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually (Hosea 12:6).
Some of those that vote seem to forget what God said:
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts…”(Isaiah 55:8-9).
17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’ (Daniel 4:17).
It may be of interest to point out that Jesus suggested that people would take matters in their own hands thinking that they are doing God a service (John 16:2). And while this referred to killing, the principle is still that one should not violate what God instructs and justify it by thinking that is what God wants one to do.
Let me also add that NONE of the candidates running for the USA presidency has called for national repentance nor seeking first the kingdom of God.
Although many in the Greco-Roman Catholic and Protestant religions sincerely believe that it is their “Christian duty” to vote (even though that “duty” is not specified in the Bible), some seem to have overlooked some prophecies related to political leaders in the end times:
12 As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.” (Isaiah 3:12)
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed (Isaiah 9:16).
It should be clear that Isaiah prophesied that there would be end time leaders that cause people to err. This is what many politicians, directly and indirectly do.
More on voting can be found in the article: Should a Christian Vote?
Related to voting and other aspects of this world’s systems, here is something from the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God:
NOT OF THIS WORLD
Jesus taught, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Early Christians understood “the gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15; Ephesians 6:15) prohibited them from engaging in violent military behavior. John the Baptist taught, “Do violence to no man” (Luke 3:14, KJV). Historically, those of the Church of God have considered military service as wrong for its members. From Revolutionary War times to the Civil War and to present, countries like the United States have tended to have had provisions to exempt Church of God members and congregants from military participation because of conscientious objections. Early Christians did not participate in military warfare nor watch violent sports.
The Apostle Paul taught “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20; see also Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian). The Apostle Peter taught that God’s people were “a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out” (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible also teaches that this world has been deceived by Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9) and that God’s people need to be separate from the world (John 15:19; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; James 4:4; Revelation 18:4). Since a Christian is God’s ambassador and this responsibility is our duty above any arising from human relationships (Matthew 10:37; Acts 4:18-20; 5:26-31), it is our normal religious practice to not participate in voting for national elections nor participate in jury duty, nor do we voluntarily join the military. Historically, the faithful Church of God has long taught that its members should not participate in secular juries and secular politics.
However, Christians are expected to listen to (1 Peter 2:13-17) and pray for (1 Timothy 2:1-3) governmental authorities and to pay their taxes (Matthew 22:17-21). Yet, if there is a conflict between the laws of men and the laws of God, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29, NLT).
As far as church governance is concerned, consider reading the article The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government.
Suggested Sabbath Day Services
Here is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:
- 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.
- The suggested sermonette is: BRICS Push Aside USA Dollar. Other sermonettes are available at our Prophecy channel on BitChute https://www.bitchute.com/channel/prophecy/
- Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
- The suggested sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email, is: The Millennial Kingdom of God. Other sermons are also available at the COGTube channel on BitChute https://www.bitchute.com/channel/cogtube/
- 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. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.
World News Items
The latest World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland has ended. If the coverage by CNN International is at all relevant, then this meeting shows that much of the world’s top leaders are buying in to the WEF”s agenda. Even the Queen of the Netherlands pushed hard for digital identities, which could well be used for ‘666’ controls (see Dutch Queen Promotes Digital ID at Davos).
The Bible prophesies that the coming European beast power will destroy the power with the “strongest fortresses”–which would be the USA at this time–and then divide the land for gain in Daniel 11:39, Since 2008, I have speculated that Russia would end up with at least part of Alaska (and perhaps parts of Canada). Well, several days ago, Russia’s president signed a decree declaring Russia’s sale of Alaska to the USA in the 19th century illegal (see EssaNews: Putin stokes tensions with US, declares 1867 sale of Alaska ‘illegal’). Anyway, this is another step towards setting the stage for Russia to end up with at least part of Alaska
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set off a firestorm of international condemnation when he basically declared there would be no Palestinian state, The European Union came out and declared that a “two-state solution” was the only way to attain peace in the region (see ABC: EU says creation of Palestinian state is the only way to peace. But, of course, that WILL NOT BRING LASTING PEACE. The world needs the return of Jesus and the establishment of the millennial kingdom of God.
The Apostle John wrote the following:
2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 2-4)
Brethren, obey God and you can prosper in all things.
Remember to walk in the truth.
The Apostle Paul warned about the last days:
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, (2 Timothy 3:13-14)
Sadly, we have seen those who have convinced themselves that lies and falsehoods are truth. They seem to reject various truths that they once accepted that were restored to the Philadelphian portion of the Church of God (see Continuing Church of God, Elijah, and Restoring All Things).
Brethren, be wary of those that walk contrary to the truth and spread tales: WALK IN THE TRUTH!
Pastor and Overseer