Monthly letter archive

Restoring Original Christianity—for Today!

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442
Hollister, California 95024-1442

Fred R. Coulter,

January 15, 2015

Dear Brethren,

The year 2014 has been quite a year! Numerous events have occurred in fulfilling prophecies of the end time, which I covered in a recent message. Everyone wants to know what will happen in 2015. Some are hoping for a reprieve from all the troubles the world experienced this past year. However, as the month of January begins, it doesn't look good: more USA federal government gridlock, severe racial tensions, and the fear of potential terrorist attacks. Just last week, in Paris, France, there was a terrorist attack killing 12 people. Since the year 2015 started, these events have added to the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine, the wars in the Middle East, and the economic problems around the world. Indeed, instead of a respite, this year is likely to be filled with a host of new disasters and crises at home and abroad.

This is why Jesus told us to always be watching—not only prophetic events as they unfold, but also our spiritual lives: "Take heed, be watching and praying. For you do not know when the time is coming. It is like a man journeying to a far country, leaving his house and giving authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and commanding the doorkeeper to watch. Be watching, therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming: at evening, or at midnight, or at the cock's crowing, or in the morning; lest he come suddenly and find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:33-37).

Concerning things to watch, in the months of November and December, 2013, I did a series of sermons on Fourteen Things to Happen in Prophecy. (These sermons will be available online at along with the study transcripts. You can also find them on the CDs you received for November and December, 2013.)

In the last half of 2014, two of these 14 items developed significantly:

  1. The "stranger" rising up higher and higher above the modern descendants of Israel. In the USA, this is largely the result of not having a comprehensive immigration policy with adequate border enforcement. Moreover, recent executive orders by the president have led to a flood of illegal immigrants coming into America. The situation is aggravated by all the recent riots over the killing of black men by the police and the subsequent retaliatory attacks against the police. A little-known aspect of this problem is that there are a good number of Muslims working in federal bureaucracies and as advisors to the president (I gave the names of some of them in a recent sermon).

    Thousands of years ago, God prophesied that this would happen to the end-time nations of Israel: "The stranger dwelling among you shall get up above you very high, and you shall come down very low. He shall loan to you, and you shall not loan to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. And all these curses shall come on you, and shall pursue you and overtake you, until you are destroyed because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. And they shall be on you for a sign and for a wonder, and on your seed forever. Because you did not serve the

    LORD your God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart for the abundance of all things" (Deut. 28:43-47).

    Ultimately, unless there is massive repentance by orthodox Christian leaders, politicians, educators, and people at all levels of society, with a true return to God, there will be no reprieve from all these crises.

  2. The development of a "one-world religion." This is most evident by the rush of many Protestant leaders returning to Rome and accepting Pope Francis' "warm, open arms" policy! In addition, high ranking prelates from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam (including Iranian and Egyptian religious leaders), and Eastern Orthodoxy have all visited the Pope in answer to his call for all religions to come under Rome's tent. To facilitate a peaceful working relationship between the Vatican and Islam, Muslim prayers now take place in the Vatican.

Here are excerpts from a special report on the Vatican's latest ecumenical victory involving the Lutherans:

"Pope Francis has issued the order to bring all the world's religions into the Vatican tent, and this front-burner priority is being accomplished at a record pace. Emergent church leaders like Rick Warren, who says that Francis is 'our Pope,' and prosperity 'preacher' Joel Osteen have been on-board since last year after private meetings with the Pope. But this latest coupe is also a swipe against the very heart of the Protestant Reformation as well.

"Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), says relations between the Lutheran and Catholic churches have reached an epoch-making turning point. Speaking during a panel discussion, held 18 December, in the Lutheran church in Rome, Junge emphasized that the relationship between Lutherans and Catholics was being transformed 'from conflict to communion.' Precisely in a world 'in which religion and faith are regularly portrayed and perceived as troublemakers,' he said it was a phenomenal testimony that the Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches continued to move 'towards a profound communion that frees us to serve God and the world' " (12/19/2014; www.nowtheend, Italy/GENEVA).

"Junge and Koch took the opportunity to announce plans for a common liturgical guide in connection with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, of which publication is scheduled for 2015. Looking towards 2017, the Lutheran-Roman Catholic material is intended to enable churches all over the world to review the 500 years of Reformation. The guide will follow on from the dialogue document From Conflict to Communion, published by both partners in 2013, and transpose it into liturgical acts. The material will reflect the structure of this document with its triple form of penitence for the wounds mutually inflicted; joy at the insights and dimensions of the Reformation; and hope for unity….

"The panelists agreed on the question of a joint act of repentance between Lutherans and Catholics. 'I think it would be a fine thing if such a symbolic act could take place between Catholics and Lutherans,' said Koch. However, it would not be about unilateral mistakes or demands for penitence. 'The Catholic side is not telling the Lutherans that they should repent,' underscored Feige. Both sides shared a burden of guilt, Koch and Feige agreed" (www.lutheran

Incursions of Judaism Into the Churches of God

In Jesus' warnings to His disciples, He told us to be on guard against false prophets coming in His name, who would teach false doctrines. Some of these false teachings are so cleverly conceived and presented, using biblical texts, that they sound true. Typically, they represent a subtle shift away from the true teachings of the Bible to the traditions of men; in many cases, they result from the gross misinterpretation of the Scriptures.

For example: the use of prayer shawls, tassels and phylacteries as an aid to prayer or to remind the believer of the commandments of God. Those who use such devices quote the book of Numbers: "And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel and command them that they make fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribbon of blue. And it shall be to you for a fringe that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and so that you do not seek after your own heart and your own eyes which you yourself wantonly go after that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy to your God' " (Num. 15:37-40).

They reason that since this is a command of God through Moses, we must do likewise— because we too are to keep the commandments of God. However, they fail to realize that under the New Covenant, which is superior to the Old Covenant, such "reminders" are no longer necessary, having been replaced by the work of the Holy Spirit. We do not remember God's laws because of physical tassels and phylacteries—which are "works of law"—but because God's laws are written in our hearts. Notice how Paul makes this point: "He [Jesus] has obtained a supremely more excellent ministry [than the Levitical priesthood], as much greater as the superior covenant [the covenant of eternal life] of which He is also Mediator, which was established upon superior promises…. 'This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days,' says the Lord: 'I will give My laws into their hearts, and I will inscribe them in their minds; and their sins and lawlessness I will not remember ever again' " (Heb. 8:6; 10:16-17).

It is obvious that having the laws and commandments of God written in our hearts and inscribed into our minds is vastly superior than the use of physical devices to "remind us" to obey God. For those who do not understand the spiritual requirements of the New Covenant, such teachings may sound plausible. But, in fact, they have no real spiritual effect or meaning.

In the churches of Galatia, Judaizers came teaching physical circumcision and demanding that the brethren perfect their conversion through "works of law." These "works of law" were a combination of some of the commandments of the Old Testament mixed with traditional laws of Judaism. Such "works" completely ignore the power of the Holy Spirit within each baptized believer. Notice Paul's warning to the Galatians: "O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you into not obeying the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ, crucified, was set forth in a written public proclamation? This only I desire to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit of God by works of law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the flesh?" (Gal. 3:1-3).

It is fundamental to grasp that spiritual character cannot be developed by ritual "works of law." It can only come by the Holy Spirit working within our hearts and minds, where God is writing His laws and commandments. We learn to be led by the Spirit of God. Paul also makes it clear that conversion comes from within, through God's Spirit, not from external, fleshly "works of law" or physical circumcision. It has to be internal works motivated by God's Spirit within us, as we learn to bring every thought into the love of God, and learn spiritual obedience to His laws and commandments from the heart. This is how we grow and overcome spiritually. Paul writes: "For although we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh [by works of law]. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [of the flesh], but mighty through God to the overthrowing of strongholds [by the power of the Holy Sprit within us], by casting down vain imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought [of the mind and heart] into the obedience of Christ; and having a readiness to avenge all disobedience [by repentance to God], whenever your obedience has been fulfilled" (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Therefore, all such doctrines of Judaism, or any other religion, are traditions and edicts of men. Practices enforced on women—such as head scarves, veils and extra long dresses—are

equally fruitless and do nothing to develop spiritual character. Likewise, special hats, untrimmed beards and curling sideburns all perish with the using. None of these things have any spiritual force. Rather, they are vain "control mechanisms" of human religions. As true Christians, we are to be led by the Spirit of God, which is the power to develop love and obedience toward God.

Sacred Names of the Old Testament

Another false doctrine that has plagued many churches of God is the belief that Christians are to only use the names of God found in the Old Testament. Hence, they reject all New Testament names of God, including "Jesus Christ." Many go so far as to deny the fact that God inspired the New Testament to be written in koine Greek. We will examine these claims and compare them to the actual teachings of the Bible. As we will see, the sacred names used in the Old Testament are not the standard for the New Covenant.

Today, in spite of the vast numbers of Bibles in the world and the amount of information written about the Word of God, most people have little knowledge of the names of God. A small percentage of Bible believers claim that the sacred names of God in the Old Testament must be used in prayers, religious observances, and in Bible reading. They further claim that those who will not use the sacred names will not receive salvation. However, upon careful examination, it will become evident that these "sacred" names are not at all God's personal names, but are titles describing various attributes of God.

When God called Moses to send him into Egypt to bring the children of Israel out of slavery, Moses said to God, "Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they shall say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" (Ex. 3:13). Notice God's answer: "And God said to Moses, 'I AM THAT I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you." ' And God said to Moses again, 'You shall say this to the children of Israel, "The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My title from generation to generation" ' " (verses 14-15). The closest the Old Testament comes to a personal name of God is the declaration, "I AM."

When we analyze what God told Moses, we find that God said His name was "I AM," which means the Self-existing One. Technically, this is not a personal name. Likewise, the term "LORD God," which is His title, comes from two Hebrew words: 1) LORD comes from the word YHVH, pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah, which means the "Eternal One" or "Ever-living One." While this term is used as a name, it is actually a descriptive noun noting one of God's key attributes—His eternal nature. 2) "God" comes from the Hebrew word Elohim, which means God and is, in fact, a plural noun. Its root meaning indicates "mighty one."

As we will see, YHVH is not the only name or title that God uses. Notice what God later told Moses: "And God spoke to Moses, and said to him, 'I am the LORD [YHVH]. And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty. But I was not known to them by My name JEHOVAH [YHVH]' " (Ex. 6:2-3).

The name "God Almighty" comes from the Hebrew El Shaddai. Think about this: If it were true, as some "Sacred Namers" claim, that no one can be saved unless they use the name Yahweh, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will not be in the Kingdom of God—because God did not reveal Himself to them by this name! But we know they will be in the kingdom because Jesus said so! (Luke 13:28). Thus, the claim that only those who use "sacred names"—especially Yahwehwill enter into the Kingdom of God is absolutely false!

In addition to Elohim and YHVH (Yahweh or Jehovah), there are other words and terms used to designate God in the Old Testament. However, these terms are not personal names of God. Rather, they are descriptive nouns revealing various attributes of God. For example:

  • El Shaddai means God Almighty, or Almighty God

  • El Elyon means Most High God, or God Most High

  • Adnoai means the Lord

  • El Olam means Everlasting God

It is evident that while these titles all refer to God, these terms are not personal names of God. As we will see, the actual personal names of God are only revealed in the New Testament.

This brings us to the important question: How then do we understand the Third Commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Ex. 20:7). The answer is that this verse means more than just swearing and cursing by using God's name with profanity. It means that no one is to use the name of the LORD, YHVH, Yahweh or Jehovah, God or Elohim as the authority for doing what is contrary to any part of the Bible. Here are some examples, which also apply to God's New Covenant names. It is wrong to use God's name…

  1. To sanction Sunday and the holidays of this world.

  2. To sanction or bless anything that God designates as sin, evil or an abomination.

  3. To sanction or bless false agreements between individuals, claiming it is God's will.

  4. To claim that the sins you are committing are God's will.

  5. To claim that God's Word means something it does not mean.

  6. To bless same-sex relationships and marriages.

Sacred Names of the New Testament

Are Christians today required to use the Hebrew names of God found in the Old Testament? This question is plainly answered by Jesus Himself. Indeed, one of Christ's primary missions was to reveal the Father—since the Father was not plainly revealed in the Old Testament. (As we all realize, Jesus was the Lord God of the Old Testament before He became God manifested in the flesh—the Savior of mankind.) The truth is, no one can know the Father unless Jesus reveals Him to that person: "At that time Jesus answered and said, 'I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to babes. Yes, Father, for it was well pleasing in Your sight to do this. All things were delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son personally chooses to reveal Him' " (Matt. 11:25-27).

The word "reveal" in the Greek means "to reveal through teaching, accompanied by a revelation that comes through the deed and act of learning." When we go to the Gospel of John, we find that the revealed name of God the Father is "THE FATHER," or "OUR FATHER"! It is no mystery! It is not complicated! It does not require you to learn a foreign language, or use a foreign pronunciation of His name.

In the New Testament, God's name was never written in Hebrew; it was written only in koine Greek as ο πατηρ—or, in English, as simply "the Father." In the Gospel of John alone, the name of God "the Father" is found 117 times. We find in Jesus' prayer of John 17 that He used the name of the Father six times. It is in this chapter that Jesus fully reveals the sacred name of God the Father as simply "the Father." That is the name Jesus revealed to His apostles, and hence to His Church: "And now, Father, glorify Me with Your own self, with the glory that I had with You before the world existed. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You have given them to Me, and they have kept Your Word" (John 17:5-6). In the Greek, "manifested" means "to reveal or to make known."

Again, in verses 25-26, Jesus said, "Righteous Father, the world has not known You; but I have known You, and these have known that You did send Me. And I have made known Your NAME to them, and will make it known; so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them." The Greek "made known" means "to reveal and make known" mentally and spiritually.

There it is! THE SACRED NAME OF GOD IS "THE FATHER." God does not require that we use Hebrew sacred names—which were never written by the apostles in the New Testament. They fully knew the names of God in the Old Testament and how to write them in Hebrew or Aramaic—yet they never did! Although Paul could fluently speak and write Hebrew, he never wrote any name of God in the Hebrew language in his epistles. This clearly reveals that New Covenant Christians do not have to use the Old Testament sacred names of God.

There is only one exception. In Romans 8:15, Paul did use the Aramaic word for "father," which is abba. But notice that Paul did not stress that sacred names are required for salvation. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. Now you have not received a spirit of bondage again unto fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship, whereby we call out, 'Abba, Father' " (Rom. 8:14-15). Abba is a personal, intimate form of the word father, meaning daddy, as a child would call his or her own father—or as an infant would say dada or papa.

This use of abba shows without a doubt that if sacred names were required for salvation, as some insist today, God would have inspired the Hebrew names of God to be written into the New Testament. Since the apostles, and hence the New Testament church down through time, were commanded by Christ to go into all the world, it is proper to use the translated names of God the Father and Jesus Christ in whatever language one speaks, writes and reads. Thus, as the Bible has been translated into nearly every major language of the world, it has used the translated names of God the Father and Jesus Christ. The truth is, salvation comes through faith by grace from God the Father, through Christ, His only begotten Son—not by a so-called "correct" pronunciation of sacred names!

Now you can understand why Jesus gave this command in Matthew 23:8-9: "But you are not to be called Rabbi; for one is your Master, the Christ, and all of you are brethren. Also, do not call anyone on the earth your Father [obviously in a religious sense]; for one is your Father, Who is in heaven." This clearly defines in the New Testament, without any question, the sacred name of God as "The Father." Also, we know that Jesus, the Christ, is the name of the Son. When we pray, Jesus tells us to use the personal words, "Our Father [His sacred name], Who is in heaven."

These are the two New Testament, New Covenant, sacred names. These are personal names—not title names or descriptive nouns, as are all of the Old Testament names! This is why we are to have a PERSONAL relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, because we have God's Holy Spirit within us and are the begotten children of God, to be born again and enter the Family of God at the first resurrection. Of paramount importance in our relationship with God is that we are to worship God in spirit and in truth, as Jesus says: "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 4:23-24). We are not to worship God through physical gimmicks such as prayer shawls, tassels, head veils, special hats, untrimmed beards, or prayer phylacteries—vain physical practices of men.

Another important point to remember is that even the Jews do not have the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew names of God—though they have the Hebrew text. Robert Alter, in his English translation of The Five Books of Moses, explained why he did not transliterate the

Hebrew name YHVH/YHWH, but instead followed the KJV's use of "LORD" and "Lord." He writes: "The God of Israel is referred to through a variety of names in these texts, and it is by no means self-evident how to render the names in English. The most difficult of them is the Tetragrammaton, YHWH. Modern Bible scholarship has agreed to render this as 'Yahweh,' but there are problems with using that form in translation. The original Hebrew texts of the Bible were entirely consonantal, [with the] vowel-points having been added well over a millennium after the original composition of the texts. Because by then the Tetragrammaton was deemed ineffable [incapable of pronunciation] by Jewish tradition, it was re-vocalized to be pronounced as though it read 'Adonai,' meaning Lord. The confidence of biblical scholarship that the original pronunciation was in fact 'Yahweh' may not be entirely warranted…. In any case, 'Yahweh' would have given the English Version a certain academic-archeological coloration that I preferred to avoid, and it would have introduced a certain discomfort at least to some Jewish readers of the translation. I rejected the option of using 'YHWH' because it cannot be pronounced, whereas the dimension of the sound seemed to me vital to translate. I have therefore followed the precedent of the King James Version in representing YHWH as the LORD, in small uppercase letters…. Admittedly, any of the choices I have described may be debatable, but in all of them my aim has been to name the deity in English in ways that would be in keeping with the overall concert of literary effects that the translation strives to create."

This is how we also translated YHWH in The Holy Bible In Its Original Order—A Faithful Version. Concerning Jesus' name, the angel announcing His birth commanded that His name be called Jesus, Greek ιησους. The angel did not command to call His name YHVH. This is confirmed by what the angel Gabriel told Mary when the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in her womb: "You shall call his name Jesus." The text has it in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find the insertion of Hebrew-lettered names. This verifies that the name Jesus is to be written and pronounced in other languages; likewise for God's name—the Father.

The Father was not the Lord God of the Old Testament. The Lord God of the Old Testament was the One who became Jesus Christ (John 1:1-4). Matthew 11:27 states that Jesus came to reveal the Father, and the word there in the Greek is ο πατηρ—"the Father."

Likewise, Jesus' name in the Greek reads ο ιησους. The English word Christ is translated from the Greek χπιστος. Again, salvation comes through belief, faith, repentance, water baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit, living by every word of God, and being faithful to the end. It does not come through verbally pronouncing a Greek or Hebrew word.

Finally, during the Great Tribulation it will be impossible for the "innumerable multitude" of Revelation chapter seven to know how to pronounce the so-called sacred names of God and Jesus Christ. However, there is no question that they will receive salvation.

Those who insist that the use of "sacred names" is necessary for salvation are simply following edicts of men. Such human edicts and traditions were at the heart of the confrontations Jesus had with the Jewish religious leaders of His day. When questioned about the "greatest commandment" in the Law, notice Jesus answer: " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment; and the second one is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40).

These words of Jesus represent a complete repudiation of the religious traditions and edicts of men. After saying this to the Jewish religious leaders, He continued in the next chapter, Matthew 23, with the most scathing indictment possible. Read the entire chapter. Jesus excoriated them for their false, ungodly practices, calling "woe" upon them seven times. He denounced them as "hypocrites" eight times, told them they were "blind" seven times, and called them "fools" twice. However, let us focus on the following two verses, as they summarize what we have covered concerning commandments and edicts of men, and "works of law": "Woe to

you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, but within you are full of extortion and excess. Blind Pharisees! First cleanse the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the outside may also become clean" (Matt. 23:25-26).

Special Revelation Reading Presentation: Because we have had so many requests for the DVD version of this special Revelation presentation, we have decided to send it to everyone in our February mailing.

Annual Receipts for tithes and offerings for 2014: We will mail your annual receipts the last part of January. We thank you for all your support through your tithes and offerings. In our February letter we will have news about the Web sites as well as letters from the brethren and comments from new people.

Brethren, thank you for all your love and prayers for individual brethren, the sick and afflicted, and for us. Though we are facing increasingly difficult times in the world and in our lives, we all need to stay close to God the Father and Jesus Christ through prayer and Bible study. Let us all stand in God's grace, walk in faith, believe in hope, and live in love.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter