Monthly letter archive

February 15, 2016

Dear Brethren,

We have recently had a severe problem with the US Postal Service breaking many of the CDs we mail to you. Previously, our outgoing mail was processed in San Jose, California. But in the middle of December, that operation was moved to Oakland. In Oakland, the tension of the rubber rollers on the processing machines was apparently set too tight, resulting in the breaking of hundreds of CDs mailed to the brethren. We have received hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, and letters from those who received broken CDs. We have made extras to replace the broken ones. In an effort to resolve this problem, we have been in contact with the USPS Consumer Affairs Office. We would greatly appreciate your prayers concerning this matter.

Why Were You Born Book: In the first week of February, we finally finished the new book From a Speck of Dust to a Son of God—WHY WERE YOU BORN? and sent it to Thomson-Shore to be printed. It is a unique book, with a spectacular cover! There is every reason to anticipate that it will become the most-requested book we have published. This is our 14th full-fledged book—in addition to our numerous booklets and 44 Transcript Study Books (with CDs) for our extended Bible Study Series.

It is evident that God the Father and Jesus Christ are inspiring all of us—brethren and elders, working together to preach and publish the Gospel, as well as feed the flock of God. I know all the elders always keep in mind the special lesson that Jesus taught the apostle Peter, as recorded by John: “This was now the third time that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after being raised from the dead. Therefore, when they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these?’ And he said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord. You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’

“He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord. You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep!’ ” (John 21:14-17).

It is evident that Peter was deeply moved by this encounter. Years later, when he wrote to his fellow elders, he admonished them to “feed the flock of God.” Notice: “The elders who are among you I exhort, even as a fellow elder, and an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory that is about to be revealed: Feed the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight not by compulsion, but willingly; not in fondness of dishonest gain, but with an eager attitude; not as exercising lordship over your possessions; but by being examples to the flock of God. And when the Chief Shepherd is manifested, you shall receive an unfading, eternal crown of glory” (I Pet. 5:1-4).

Peter emphasizes that the elders are not to be overlords ruling the lives of the brethren. Rather, we are to feed the flock—that is, teach them the Word of God—so that we can all grow in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, with our focus on the Kingdom of God. As he writes in his second epistle, we must always be growing in grace and knowledge: “But according to His promise, we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. For this reason, beloved, since you are anticipating these things, be diligent, so that you may be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.

“And bear in mind that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, exactly as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has also written to you; as he has also in all his epistles, speaking in them concerning these things; in which are some things that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable are twisting and distorting, as they also twist and distort the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

“Therefore, beloved, since you know this in advance, be on guard against such practices, lest you be led astray with the error of the lawless ones, and you fall from your own steadfastness; rather, be growing in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and into the day of eternity. Amen” (II Pet. 3:13-18).

The apostle Paul taught the same thing, that the overall purpose of God for the elders is to help the saints reach spiritual perfection: “For the [purpose of the] perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we no longer be children, tossed and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men in cunning craftiness, with a view to the systematizing of the error.

But holding the truth in love, may in all things grow up into Him Who is the Head, even Christ from Whom all the body, fitly framed and compacted together by that which every joint supplies, according to its inner working in the measure of each individual part, is making the increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love….

“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” (Eph. 4:12-16, 21-24).

In Paul’s final epistle to Timothy, he gives him a solemn charge from Jesus to be vigilant about deceivers and false doctrines—which Timothy and the brethren would ultimately have to confront: “But wicked men and imposters shall become worse and worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. But as for you, continue in the things that you did learn and were assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from a child you have known the Holy Writings, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.

“I charge you, therefore, in the sight of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is ready to judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the Word! Be urgent in season and out of season; convict, rebuke, encourage, with all patience and doctrine. For there shall come a time when they will not tolerate sound doctrine; but according to their own lusts they shall accumulate to themselves a great number of teachers, having ears itching to hear what satisfies their cravings; and they shall turn away their own ears from the truth; and they shall be turned aside unto myths. But as for you, be vigilant in all things, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist; fully carry out your ministry” (II Tim. 3:14-17, 4:1-5).

Toward the time of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, we find that the apostles’ writings contained urgent warnings to the entire church. Because of false teachers, John wrote, in his second short epistle, a sobering admonition for the elders and brethren to hold fast to the truth and love of God: “The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not I alone, but also all those who have known the truth; for the sake of the truth that is dwelling in us, and shall be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace shall be with us from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

“I rejoiced exceedingly that I have found among your children those who are walking in truth, exactly as we received commandment from the Father. And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I am writing a new commandment to you, but that which we have observed from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is the love of God: that we walk according to His commandments.

“This is the commandment, exactly as you heard from the beginning, that you might walk in it, because many deceivers have entered into the world—those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This is the spirit of the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out for yourselves in order that we may not lose the things we have accomplished, but that we may receive a full reward!” (II John 1-8).

While in prison in 61 AD, Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. This was approximately one year before Jesus’ half-brother James was martyred. About a year later, the Jewish-Roman wars began that would ultimately destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. Paul wrote Hebrews to prepare Christians for the coming troubles, persecution, and war that would soon engulf the holy land. Notice how he admonished them to hold fast to their faith and look to Christ as the example of overcoming evil and death: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great throng of witnesses [today, the whole Bible is the greatest witness], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily entraps us; and let us run the race set before us with endurance, having our minds fixed on Jesus, the Beginner and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that lay ahead of Him endured the cross, although He despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Now meditate deeply on Him Who endured such great hostility of sinners against Himself so that you do not become weary and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted to the point of losing blood in your struggle against sin” (Heb. 12:1-4).

In these passages, notice how the apostles continually emphasized to the elders the need to be teaching the Word of God and to keep the true love and faith of God. Indeed, it is only through the truth and our faithfulness that we can grow “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Our destiny is to be spirit sons and daughters of God the Father! There can be no greater cause, no greater calling, no greater destiny!

We know that in the near future all of us will be facing difficult circumstances. This is why we must not allow anything—any trouble, any trial, no matter how difficult—to make us deviate from our calling and love and faith of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Paul understood this and wrote: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Because those whom He did foreknow, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His own Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Now whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He Who did not spare even His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also grant us all things together with Him? Who shall bring an accusation against the elect of God? God is the One Who justifies. Who is the one that condemns? It is Christ Who died, but rather, Who is raised again, Who is even now at the right hand of God, and Who is also making intercession for us. What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

“Accordingly, it is written, ‘For Your sake we are killed all the day long; we are reckoned as sheep for the slaughter.’ But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:28-39).

Finally, Paul writes these encouraging words: “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). Similarly, God inspired David to write: “The Lord will perfect His work in me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the work of Your own hands” (Psa. 138:8).

Brethren, remember that God the Father and Jesus Christ love you. They are delighted when we return their love by loving them with all our hearts, with all our minds, and with all our strength. When we repent, they are ready to forgive our sins and blot them out. They have given us all the spiritual tools we need in order to stand in grace, walk in faith, believe in hope, and live in love! They want us to be the firstfruits in the Kingdom and Family of God—that we might reign into the ages of eternity! So let us be thankful, and yield ourselves to God every day.

Thank you for all your love and prayers for us and all the elders and brethren. We need your prayers daily. We pray for you every day. May God continue to bless you with His love and grace, protect you with His angels, and watch over you. May God bless you in all that you do.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter