Monthly letter archive

Monthly Letter, March/April 2014

Restoring Original Christianity—for Today!

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442
Hollister, California 95024-1442
(831)-637-1875

Fred R. Coulter,
Minister

 

March 25, 2014

Dear Brethren,

As you can see, this is a big mailing. Because the spring festival falls in the middle of the month this year, this is a combined March and April letter. For the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we are sending you a total of eight messages. These messages cover everything you will need in order to fully observe the Passover and the Feast. The Passover Ceremony booklet is complete with full instructions on how to keep the New Covenant Christian Passover, and includes all the Scriptures that are to be read. Only those who have been baptized should partake of the Passover, as it is a renewal of the believer's covenant pledge.

This year, the Passover falls on Sunday, April 13. It is to be observed as it is beginning to get dark-which is, in fact, the beginning of the 14th day of the first month of the Calculated Hebrew Calendar, as biblical days are reckoned from sunset to sunset. The following night, April 14, is the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread-the first holy day. In Exodus 12:42, God calls this "a night to be much observed to the Lord for bringing them [the children of Israel] out from the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord to be observed by all the children of Israel in their generations." Since the Church is "spiritual Israel" and God the Father Himself has personally called us out of sin and the world­ pictured by Egypt-we are to observe this night with rejoicing for God's great deliverance of His saints from the world and from Satan the devil: "Giving thanks to the Father, Who has made us qualified for the share of the inheritance of the saints in the light; Who has personally rescued us from the power of darkness [Satan the devil] and has transferred us unto the kingdom of the Son of His love; in Whom we have redemption through His own blood, even the remission of sins [pictured by the Passover]" (Col. 1:12-14).

Then, on the day portion of April 15, we are to assemble before God for the holy day-likewise for the regular Sabbath on April 19 and the last holy day on April 21. Remember, the Passover is a separate day of unleavened bread, followed by the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread-and we are commanded to eat unleavened bread each day. As we will see, there is great meaning to putting out all leaven and eating only unleavened bread.

The Importance of the Passover Day

Jesus Christ was crucified on the Passover day in 30 AD, a Wednesday-day 4, the middle day of the 7-day week. This particular appointed day was selected by God from the foundation of the world as the day of Jesus' crucifixion-as He is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). Indeed, "For even when we were without strength, at the appointed time Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, although perhaps someone might have the courage even to die for a good man. But God commends His own love to us because, when we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6-8). As Jesus declared, God the Father personally loves us: "For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world ..." (John 16:27-28). Jesus' death by crucifixion on the Passover day is without question the most important event in the history of the world-making possible the very salvation of mankind.

The love of God the Father and Jesus Christ is so great that Jesus willingly laid down His life for the sins of the world. No one forced Him to do it. Rather, He willingly did so in order to redeem the world-according to God's plan as depicted by the Sabbath, Passover and holy days of God-all "appointed times" (Gen. 1:14-19; Lev. 23:1-4). Jesus proclaimed: "I am the good Shepherd, and I know those who are Mine, and am known of those who are Mine. Just as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring those also, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd. On account of this, the Father loves Me: because I lay down My life, that I may receive it back again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down and authority to receive it back again. This commandment I received from My Father" (John 10:14-18).

In light of this awesome loving act of God the Father and Jesus Christ, you can now understand why everyone who has been baptized and has the Holy Spirit must partake of the New Covenant Christian Passover. Notice what Jesus said to the Jews: " 'I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is even My flesh, which I will gi ve for the life of the world' " (John 6:51).

At that time, the Jews could not understand what Jesus was telling them, because they were seeking manna, the physical bread, from heaven-just as God gave to the children of Israel in the wilderness. "Because of this, the Jews were arguing with one another, saying, 'How is He able to give us His flesh to eat?' " (verse 52). The Jews could not understand what He was saying, because Jesus was actually telling them about eternal life, which could only come through His sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus had not yet revealed this truth even to His disciples-for that would come at His last Passover with His apostles. The point that Jesus was making is that physical food for physical life all comes to an end at death. But a person could have eternal life through His yet-to-come sacrifice as the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29, 36). Continuing in John 6: "Therefore, Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day; for My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood is dwelling in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father; so also the one who eats Me shall live by Me' " (verses 53-57).

This is why Jesus told the apostles on the night of His last Passover, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

Likewise with the footwashing. Jesus commanded us to do exactly as He had done to the apostles and wash one another's feet. If we don't, we have no part with Christ-hence, no eternal life: "Therefore, when He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and had sat down again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me the Teacher and the Lord, and you speak rightly, because I am. Therefore, if I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also are duty-bound to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example, to show that you also should do exactly as I have done to you. Truly, truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, nor a messenger greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them' " (John 13:12-17).

Jesus makes it abundantly clear that eternal life comes only through Him. We cannot obtain it through our own will, human schemes or practices. Rather, it is only through the will of God-His way! Throughout the Scriptures, God makes it clear that we must always conform our lives to the will of God in loving obedience. Jesus Himself said so: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' [with all of their self-willed human practices] shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but the one who is doing [practicing] the will of My Father, Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy through Your name? And did we not cast out demons through Your name? And did we not perform many works of power through Your name?' And then I will confess to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness' " (Matt. 7:21-23).

We are to follow Jesus' example. At all times, He totally submitted to the will of God, even when facing brutal death by crucifixion. We see this in Jesus' last prayer before He was arrested: "[And] falling to His knees, He prayed, saying, 'Father, if You are willing to take away this cup from Me-; nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done' " (Luke 22:41- 42).

The "Christianity" of this world has set aside the teachings of Christ and replaced them with ecclesiastical tradition. Humanly devised ceremonies have been substituted in place of the Christian Passover. While claiming that such observances are the will of God, those who teach them are actually exercising their own will. But no one can ever force God to accept their will! This is especially true concerning the Christian Passover. The truth is, good intentions aside, we must only worship God according to His instructions-not human traditions. Thus, Eucharist celebrations, sacrifices of the Mass, the Lord's Supper, and "communion" services are all vain works of men-contrary to the will of God and the teachings of Christ.

When talking to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, Jesus said of the paganized Samaritan worship: "You do not know what you worship. We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is indeed seeking those who worship Him in this manner. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:22-24).

As we just saw in Matthew 7, human works, even done in Jesus' name, will come to nothing. But notice the rest of Jesus' words: "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and practices them, I will compare him to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock; and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; but it did not fall, for it was founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not practice them shall be compared to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it" (Matt. 7:24-27).

As begotten sons and daughters of God, we need to always remember that everything we do in worshiping, serving and obeying God flows from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why we keep the New Covenant Christian Passover exactly as it is taught in the Word of God.

The Importance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread

In writing to the Gentile church at Corinth, the apostle Paul makes it clear that, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, leaven is symbolic of sin. Notice what he writes about the sin of sexual immorality that was tolerated within this congregation-a man committing incest with his step-mother: "It is commonly reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles-allowing one to have his own father's wife. You are puffed up [with vanity and sin] and did not grieve [in repentance] instead, so that he who did this deed might be taken out of your midst. For I indeed, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged concerning him who has so shamelessly committed this evil deed as if Iwere present: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, together with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good" (I Cor. 5:1-6).

Paul then warns us that even a little sin-complacently tolerated-will eventually fill a person with lawlessness just as a little leaven will eventually spread throughout an entire lump of dough: "Don't you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore, purge out the old leaven, so that you may become a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. For this reason, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (verses 6-8; also see Gal. 5:9).

This is why we are to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The lesson we learn and apply every year during this feast is that we must purge sin out of our lives through repentance. We must put all of our sins under Christ's shed blood so they will be forgiven (Rom. 3:23-31). Since the feast is seven days-seven being a type of completion-we are to apply this lesson throughout the year. Our lives are to be perfected daily in the holiness of God's way through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Moreover, as we put out sin, we are to put in righteousness and the love of God!

Paul makes it clear that since we belong to God the Father and Jesus Christ, and are heirs of salvation and eternal life, we cannot compromise with sin! We cannot live with sin! We cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in the Church! We must be wholehearted and single minded in serving God: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and lawlessness have in common? And what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what union does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what agreement is there between a temple of God and idols? For you are a temple of the living God, exactly as God said: 'I will dwell in them and walk in them; and Iwill be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from the midst of them and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and Iwill receive you; and I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.' Now then, beloved, since we have these promises, we should purge ourselves from every defilement of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 6:14-18; 7:1).

How do we perfect the holiness of God in us? It is the joint process of growing in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we accomplish through the Spirit of God working within us to lead us. We must consciously recognize sin in our lives and repent daily. Then, with the Holy Spirit and by the washing of the water through the Word, God cleanses us from within-in our hearts and minds. This is an ongoing process every day of our lives. The apostle John explained why we always need to be in a repentant attitude before God: "If we proclaim that we have fellowship with Him, but we are walking in the darkness [living in sin, as does the world], we are lying to ourselves, and we are not practicing the Truth. However, if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His own Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we do not have sin, we are decei ving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our own sins, He is faithful and righteous, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And yet, if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world [in God's way and time according to His plan]" (I John 1:6-10; 2:1-2).

Thus, conversion is a life-long process leading to the transformation of our minds and hearts so that we might develop the "mind of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 2:5). To the brethren in Rome, Paul wrote: "I exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Do not conform yourselves to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind in order that you may prove what is well pleasing and good, and the perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2).

Every year, the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us that growing and overcoming and preparing for eternal life is the reason for our lives and calling. As Paul instructs us, we are to put out, as it were, the "leaven" of sin and put in the "unleavened bread" of righteousness, which God is creating within us. He gives us this outline: "If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, according to the truth in Jesus: that concerning your former conduct, you put off the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which according to God is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

"Therefore, let each one put away lies and speak the truth with his neighbor because we are members of one another. When you become angry, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger; neither give place to the devil. Let the one who stole, steal no more; rather, let him labor with his hands, working at what is good, so that he may impart something to the one who has need. Do not let any corrupt communication come out of your mouth, but that which is good and needful for edification that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not vex [frustrate or grieve with sinful thoughts and actions] the Holy Spirit of God by which you have been sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and indignation, and wrath, and clamor, and evil speaking be removed from you, together with all malice; and be kind and tenderhearted toward one another, forgiving one another, even as God has also in Christ forgiven you" (Eph. 4:21-32).

Paul then sets the highest possible spiritual standard for our conduct. As Christians, we constantly strive to overcome and grow through the power of the Holy Spirit so that we might attain to this ultimate standard: "Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved us, and gave Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor" (Eph. 5:1-2).

In spite of the fact that we are weak and easily fall short, all things are possible with God-including overcoming. Let us read the promises Jesus gives to those who are faithful­ though they are weak. It is His encouragement to the church at Philadelphia: "I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one has the power to shut it because you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who proclaim themselves to be Jews and are not, but do lie-behold, I will cause them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My patience, I also will keep you from the time of temptation which is about to come upon the whole world to try those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly; hold fast that which you have so that no one may take away your crown. The one who overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall not go out any more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which will come down out of heaven from My God; and I will write upon him My new name. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 3:8-13).

Brethren, we are praying that this Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread will be the best ever as we all draw close to God the Father and Jesus Christ. Thank you for all your love and prayers. We pray for you daily that God will bless you, heal you, strengthen and sustain you. Thank you for being faithful in your tithes and offerings, as together we are "feeding the flock of God" and "preaching the Gospel to the world." Remember, we know that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter

 

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