Monthly letter archive

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442

Hollister, California 95024-1442


Fred R. Coulter, Minister

December 19, 2006

Dear Brethren,

We are at the end of another year on the Roman calendar. By the time you receive this letter, the New Year, 2007, will be upon us. This means that we are 1,977 years from Jesus Christ’s final ascension into heaven and the beginning the New Testament Church in ad 30. Beginning with the apostles, Christ’s disciples—including us today—have always wanted to know, “When will Jesus return?” In fact, that was the last question the disciples asked Him immediately before He ascended out of their sight into heaven: “[When] they were assembled together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has placed in His own authority; but you yourselves shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth’ ” (Acts 1:6-8).

In the days just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus told His followers of major events that would take place leading up to His second coming. Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 each record these events. Though Jesus had clearly told His disciples that it was not for them to know “the times or seasons,” they still thought He would return during their lifetime. The disciples’ anticipation of Christ’s return was undoubtedly based on certain statements Jesus had made.

The first one is: “This generation shall in no wise pass away until all these things have taken place” (Matt. 24:34). Since a generation was generally considered to be approximately 40 years, the disciples must have concluded that Jesus was talking about the generation of the apostles’ time. In fact, it was exactly 40 years from the time the Church began until the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in ad 70. However, Jesus did not return then. The disciples apparently focused on the words “this generation”—and overlooked the phrase “until ALL these things have take place.” Jesus did not mean that 75%, 90% or even 95% of “these things” will have taken place—He meant ALL—100%. Moreover, we must also take into consideration the many other prophecies in the Bible relating to Jesus’ second coming, and realize that “all these things” is not limited to the things He had just spoken of in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21—but undoubtedly include all of the things concerning His second coming that are written in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Remember Jesus’ promise, “The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away” (Matt. 24:35). This is why Jesus revealed additional things concerning His second coming to His apostles before their death.

The second major misunderstanding was that many of the disciples believed that Jesus would return before the death of the apostle John. We find this in the last chapter of the Gospel of John. After Jesus informed Peter of how he was going to die, Peter asked Jesus what was going to happen to the apostle John: “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what shall happen to this one?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I desire that he remain alive until I come, what is it to you? You follow Me.’ Then this saying went out among the brethren, that that disciple would not die [until Jesus returned]. However, Jesus did not say to him that he would not die; but, ‘If I desire that he remain alive until I come, what is it to you?’ ” (John 21:21-23). John did not live to see the literal return of Jesus Christ. However, before John died, he did see the return of Jesus Christ in vision, which Jesus commanded him to record in a book—the Book of Revelation.

John, probably with help of Philip and Andrew, canonized the entire New Testament. This is why we find certain editorial notations in various places in the NT. These are telltale signs of John’s final editing while canonizing the 27 books of NT. One of these is found in Matthew 24 and pertains to Jesus’ prophecy about the temple. God undoubtedly inspired him to make this insertion into the text because the temple had been destroyed in ad 70, 25 years before Jesus Christ gave John the visions of Revelation. It was clearly evident that Jesus’ prophecy of the “abomination of desolation” had not taken place before the temple was destroyed in ad 70. However, one of the visions Jesus gave to John—as recorded in Revelation 11—clearly reveals that a temple would exist in the end time. This is why John inserted this parenthetical statement: “ ‘Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (the one who reads, let him understand)” (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14). Obviously, when Jesus originally spoke these words, He did not say “the one who reads, let him understand.” However, Jesus inspired John to insert these words into the text to inform future readers that in order for “all these things” of Jesus’ prophecy to come to pass, a temple had to first be rebuilt in Jerusalem—because the “abomination of desolation” did not take place when the temple was destroyed in ad 70.

Without a doubt, John and the elders also understood that Paul’s prophecy of II Thessalonians 2 had not yet come to pass. Paul wrote: “Do not let anyone deceive you by any means because that day will not come unless the apostasy shall come first, and the man of sin shall be revealed—the son of perdition, the one who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is an object of worship; so that he comes into the temple of God and sits down as God, proclaiming that he himself is God” (verses 3-4). John must have realized that Paul’s prophecy tied in directly with the prophecy of Revelation 13, which he had written. Therefore, they understood that in order for II Thessalonians 2 to be fulfilled, a future temple had to be built in Jerusalem before Jesus’ second coming.

Daniel’s Prophecies: In Matthew 24 and Mark 13, Jesus also spoke directly of Daniel’s prophecy of the “abomination of desolation.” It is evident, therefore, that Jesus included all of the end-time prophecies of Daniel when He referred to “all these things” that were to take place.

As we have noted many times in recent years, Daniel’s major prophecy of the time of the end shows that there must be a king of the north and a king of the south in power at the same time before final prophecies can begin to unfold (Dan. 11:40). Even today, neither are on the world scene. Consequently, more time must yet be allowed for them to come to power—and the return of Jesus Christ to take place. Even Daniel himself was not given understanding of these prophecies. However, God gave Daniel the promise that at the time of the end the wise would understand—but none of the wicked would perceive (Dan. 12:9-10).

Who Are the Wise? Regardless of the age in which the wise live—whether in Daniel’s time, Jesus’ time or at the end time—they will always be doing what God the Father and Jesus command. They will always be ready—whether they are brought safely to the grave or live to see His return. Likewise with the wicked. The Lord will come upon them at a time they least expect—whether in judgment for their sins, or at His actual second coming. We see this in Jesus’ comparison between the wise and the wicked servants: “Watch, therefore, because you do not know in what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have been watching, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready. For the Son of man is coming at a time that you do not think. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his lord has set over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing. Truly I say to you, he will set him over all his property.

“But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, ‘My lord delays his coming,’ And shall begin to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant will come in a day that he does not expect, and in an hour that he does not know. And he shall cut him asunder and shall appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 24:42-51).

To emphasize His point, Jesus gave another parable showing the difference between the wise and the foolish: “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be compared to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. The ones who were foolish took their lamps, but they did not take oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels along with their lamps.

“Now when the bridegroom was gone a long time, they all became drowsy and slept. But in the middle of the night there was a cry: ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there not be enough for us and for you. But instead, go to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. And afterwards the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But He answered and said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch, therefore, for you do not know the day nor the hour in which the Son of man is coming” (Matt. 25:1-13).

Paul made a similar comparison between the wise and foolish. “So then, take heed that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as those who are wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).

When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he encouraged them to love each other and keep the commandments of God. He also warned them not to be pulled down by the lust of the flesh: “Do not be indebted to anyone for anything, unless it is to love one another. For the one who loves another has fulfilled the law because it says, ‘You shall not commit adultery. You shall not commit murder. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not lust.’ And if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, even by this standard: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not do any wrong to its neighbor; therefore, love is the full expression of God’s law.

“Now consider this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour that we should be roused out of sleep; because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost over, and the day is drawing near; therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk decently, as in the day: not in reveling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and emulation. But let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and not make any allowance for the flesh to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:8-14).

The Love of Godthe Greatest Power to Overcome: In the last mailing, you received a message showing that the love of God is the greatest power you can use in overcoming. Just as we are to grow in grace and knowledge, we are to grow in the love of God. If we daily put God the Father and Jesus Christ first in our lives—through loving them, through prayer, study and obedience—we will then grow in the love of God and be able to overcome all things. Growing in the love of God—His greatest power—is the single most important thing we can do: “And one of the scribes who had come up to Him, after hearing them reasoning together and perceiving that He answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’ Then Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second is like this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these’ ” (Mark 12:28-31).

When we wholeheartedly love God and live in God’s love, He perfects His love in us—we grow in His love. Then we realize more and more that God loved us first: “The one who does not love does not know God because God is love. In this way the love of God was manifested toward us: that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this act is the love—not that we loved God; rather, that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also are duty-bound to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. Yet, if we love one another, God dwells in us, and His own love is perfected in us” (I John 4:8-12).

This is the key as we live in God’s love—for by loving Him, Jesus Christ and the brethren, we are growing in love. Or as John wrote, “His love is perfected in us.” This is why the love of God is the greatest power we can use to overcome sin. John continues: “And we have known and have believed the love that God has toward us. God is love, and the one who dwells in love is dwelling in God, and God in him. By this spiritual indwelling, the love of God is perfected within us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment because even as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in the love of God; rather, perfect love casts out fear because fear has torment. And the one who fears has not been made perfect in the love of God. We love Him because He loved us first” (verses 16-19).

On the night of His last Passover, Jesus told the apostles that they were to live in His love, just as He Himself lived in the Father’s love: “If you dwell in Me, and My words dwell in you, you shall ask whatever you desire, and it shall come to pass for you. In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; live in My love. If you keep My commandments, you shall live in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and live in His love” (John 15:7-10).

This is the highest standard of true Christian conduct, as John wrote: “By this standard we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:2-3).

When we are loving God the Father and Jesus Christ in this manner, our whole personal relationship with them grows in every way. This is how we keep our spiritual focus and is why John began his first epistle the way he did: “That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our own eyes, that which we observed for ourselves and our own hands handled, concerning the Word of life; (And the life was manifested, and we have seen, and are bearing witness, and are reporting to you the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;) That which we have seen and have heard we are reporting to you in order that you also may have fellowship with us; for the fellowshipindeed, our fellowshipis with the Father and with His own Son, Jesus Christ” (I John 1:1-3).

Since love is the greatest power, and because love never fails, God Himself guarantees that we will never fail. We will overcome. We will grow in grace and knowledge, and in the very love of God.

The Old Testament Project: We are making excellent progress with the Old Testament project. Michel Heiss—who knows Old Testament Hebrew—is thoroughly going over the final copy of major sections of the text to ensure that we are as accurate as possible. We also have many other brethren who are helping edit the complete text so that we can get it as perfect as possible before it goes to press. (It may be interesting to note that it took 11 editions before publishers were able to eliminate all the typos from the King James Version.)

In translating from Hebrew or Greek into English, it is vital to convey as accurately as possible the whole meaning of the original text. In many cases—particularly with Hebrew—it takes several words in English to convey what is meant by a single Hebrew word. This means there are add words in the English translation in order to fully bring out the inspired meaning. Please understand that this is not in any way “adding to” or “taking away from” the original text.

Please also understand that the KJV language is not the sacred language of the Bible. Only the original Hebrew and Greek texts and their accurate copies can be considered as sacred. An accurate translation in any language will convey the spiritual truth and authority of God to the reader.

Our sole purpose in this translation is to transmit the spiritual truth of God as He intended. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).

In this mailing, we are sending one tape, The New Testament Sacred Names, with this mailing. I think you will find this message most interesting and will see why we do not use the Hebrew “sacred names” today.

Brethren, we love you, and we are praying for you daily that God will bless you, heal you, inspire you, give you strength to face your trials and that you will love God the Father and Jesus Christ with all your mind, spirit and being. Thank you for your love, prayers and continuous support with your tithes and offerings. May God continue to bless you and yours in everything.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter