Monthly letter archive

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442

Hollister, California 95024-1442

(831)-637-1875

Fred R. Coulter, Minister

May 16, 2007

Dear Brethren,

By now you should have received your copy/copies of the new 608-page book, God’s Plan for Mankind Revealed by His Sabbath and Holy Days, as well as the accompanying jewel pac of four CDs containing a total of 36 sermons. We had 7,000 books printed and 5,000 CD sets replicated. As with all of our new books, we again had Unit Packaging Co. of Ann Arbor, Michigan, handle the mail-out. We shipped them 3,500 books and 2,500 CD sets for this initial mailing. As soon as we received the remainder of the books and CD sets in Hollister, we shipped them out to all the other CBCG offices.

Many have commented that the book’s cover is the most beautiful and striking of any of our books to date.  The colors on the cover are some of the same colors that were in the tabernacle/temple of God: red, scarlet, gold and purple. The layout of the book is designed so that each chapter corresponds to a sermon transcript and an audio sermon on one of the CDs.  This way you can study by reading and listening at the same time.  From the letters we have already begun to receive, the brethren are quite excited and pleased with the new book and CDs.

Remember, the CDs are MP3 formatted and will only work in a CD player that can play MP3 files.  If you try to use a non-MP3 CD player, the CDs will not work—which may lead you to incorrectly assume that the CD is blank.  As an alternative, you can play these CDs on your computer or DVD player.  IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD AN MP3 CD PLAYER, WE STILL HAVE SOME LEFT THAT WE CAN SEND TO THOSE IN NEED.  Please call or write and let us know if you need a CD player.

We are certain that this new book and its accompanying set of CDs will continue to be a wonderful learning resource for years to come. Combined with the book Occult Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?, along with the Sabbath booklet, you now have at your fingertips the most in-depth information concerning the Sabbath and holy days that we have published to date. 

Elders’ Conference: God blessed us with a most inspiring and uplifting Elders’ Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio—the best we have ever had!  The conference ran from the evening of Thursday, May 3, to Sunday morning, May 6.  In addition to myself, the elders and their wives who attended were: Roger and Emy Kendall, Wayne and Sylvia Stenhouse, Marlin and Nancy Fannin, Glenn and Phyllis Daniel, Anse and Ellamae Cates, Ken and Dorita Gee, Norbert and Denice Bohnert, and Bob and Elaine Hunnicutt.

Others attended who serve the brethren in their local fellowship groups. They included Jim and Betty Hyles, Stan Timik, Ben Ambrose, Philip and Joyce Knight, Roger and Sherry Tointon, and Joe and Betty Chikar.  Jim and Betty Hyles assist me and our staff with the work of the office here in Hollister. 

In order to more fully serve the growing needs of the brethren in the Allentown, Pennsylvania, area—and upon the recommendations of the local brethren, Wayne Stenhouse and Roger Kendall—we ordained Stan Timik as a deacon for that area.  As God continues to give growth to the CBCG, He will undoubtedly raise up additional qualified deacons and elders to serve the needs of the brethren.

Please understand that we are not attempting to build a rigid hierarchical organization similar to that which many of us have experienced in the past.  In those organizations, far too many ministers and deacons attempted to control and dominate the lives of the brethren with fear and intimidation through a rigid command chain of human authority. We are emphatically not doing this! Rather, we are restoring the proper leadership and service structure as God has designed and revealed it in the New Testament—in order to fully serve the brethren.  As I have mentioned numerous times in the past, elders and deacons are to serve the brethren—to teach and help them to develop and maintain a deep, personal, spiritual relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.  Brethren should not become dependent on a “corporate” ministry—as have so many, unfortunately, in the churches of God today. 

Seeking to gain the “inside track” to greatness and power for her sons, the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, asked Jesus to place them at His right hand and left hand in the coming Kingdom of God.  Her request gave Jesus an opportunity to teach the apostles a vital lesson: They were not to be overlords, or exalted as “great ones” over the Church; rather, they were to serve the brethren. “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, worshiping Him and asking a certain thing from Him.  And He said to her, ‘What do you desire?’  She said to Him, ‘Grant that these my two sons may sit one at Your right hand and one at Your left hand in Your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’  They said to Him, ‘We are able.’  And He said to them, ‘You shall indeed drink of My cup, and shall be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit at My right hand and at My left hand is not Mine to give, but shall be given to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.  And after hearing this, the ten were indignant against the two brothers.

“But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘You know that the [civil] rulers of the nations exercise [hierarchical] lordship over them, and the great ones [exalted religious leaders, such as Simon Magus (Acts 8:8-9)] exercise [hierarchical] authority over them.  However, IT SHALL NOT BE THIS WAY AMONG YOU; but whoever would become great among you, let him be your servant; and whoever would be first among you, let him be your slave;  just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many’ ” (Matt. 20:20-28). 

God’s way of leadership is organized service based on the elders’ deep love for God and for the brethren—with the goal of feeding the sheep of Jesus Christ. This was the main theme of the Elders’ Conference. Indeed, Jesus admonished the apostle Peter to “feed My sheep”—the flock of God: “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.’… And after saying this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (John 21:15-17, 19). 

This is what the elders and deacons of the CBCG are dedicated to doing!  We are not here to serve ourselves! We are not here to control the brethren’s lives!  We are here to serve the brethren and feed the Flock of God, so that all the brethren may grow up in Christ Jesus with godly character and be perfected.  The original, New Testament structure of the ministry was designed to enable the ministry to serve and teach—not to be an overlord!  Concerning the purpose of church organization and the ministry, the apostle Paul emphasized love and service: “And He gave some as apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers for 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” (Eph. 4:11-16)

The last time Paul saw the elders of Ephesus, he likewise admonished them to feed the Flock of God, and warned of false teachers coming in—even those who would arise from among themselves: “And now behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.  Wherefore I testify to you on this day that I am pure from the blood of all, for I have not held back from preaching to you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.  For I know this: that after my departure grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will rise up speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves. Watch, therefore, remembering that for three years I ceased not to admonish each one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:25-31).

Likewise, the elders have been charged before God to teach and preach the true Word of God, and to guard against false teachers and false teachings, as Paul admonished Timothy: “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; but 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. 4:1-5).

Ezekiel prophesied of what happens to the Flock of God when the shepherds feed themselves and not the sheep—and God warns that He will come in judgment against such shepherds.  We need to realize that one of the reasons God has scattered the Church today is because of how the shepherds have fed themselves instead of the sheep.  It is God’s judgment against those shepherds.  Notice how this passage quite accurately describes many churches of God today: “And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,  ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, “Thus says the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; ‘Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?  You eat the fat, and you clothe you with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock.  The diseased have you not strengthened, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.’

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not My flock’—therefore, O you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD—‘Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.’

“For thus says the Lord GOD; ‘Behold, I, even I, will both search [for] My sheep, and seek them out.  As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day [all the trauma and cruelty the ministry has exercised against the brethren]. I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord GOD.  ‘I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment’ ” ’ ” (Ezek. 34:1-16, KJV, updated).

Not only does God bring judgment against those shepherds who feed themselves and rule harshly over the Flock of God, but He will also judge those of the flock who participate with those shepherds in “lording it over” the brethren of Jesus Christ.  These are brethren who dutifully obey, support and give credence to a strict hierarchical ministry.  God also warns them: “ ‘And as for you, O My flock,’ thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats.  [Does it seem] a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? And to have drunk of the deep waters, but you must foul the residue with your feet?  And as for My flock, they eat that which you have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which you have fouled with your feet.’

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD unto them; ‘Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle.  Because you have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad.  Therefore will I save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.  And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David [for the Church this refers to Jesus Christ, the son of David]; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd’ ” (Ezek. 34:17-23, KJV, updated).

Just as God has warned that He will judge the shepherds who feed themselves, Jesus Christ warned the churches of God that He will even fight against those who rule with a hierarchical iron fist over the brethren!  To the church at Pergamos Christ personally gives this warning: “[You] also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes [an “overlording” hierarchical ministry], which thing I hateRepent!  For if you do not repent, I will come to you quickly, and will make war against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:15-16).

Now back to the apostle Peter.  Contrary to Catholic teachings, he was never a “pope” with absolute authority over the Church and brethren. When Peter wrote his first epistle, it is evident that he had learned the lesson Jesus gave him (as recorded in John 21): “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).

The elders and deacons of the Church are to be helpers of the saints’ joy in Christ Jesus—not overbearing rulers: “But He Who establishes us with you in Christ, and Who has anointed us, is God, Who has also sealed us and has given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. But I call upon God to bear witness of my intentions, that in order to spare you I did not yet come to Corinth—not that we exercise lordship over your faith, but because we are working with you to increase your joy.  For you stand by faith” (II Cor. 1:21-24).

 The truth of the matter is this: The whole Church of God—all brethren, elders and deacons—are to be yielded to and ruled by Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Note what the apostle Paul wrote: “Now I want you to understand what great concern I have for you, and for those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the knowledge of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of  Christ; in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

“Now I say this so that no one may deceive you by persuasive speech.  For though I am indeed absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.  Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, be walking in Him; being rooted and built up in Him, and being confirmed in the faith, exactly as you were taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone takes you captive through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, Who is the Head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:1-10).

Please pay strict attention to Paul’s warnings about those who would lead you astray, because there is a vast number of such false teachers in the world—and, sadly, many within the churches of God!  Such men want to teach personal doctrines that are, in reality, contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

Each one of us is responsible to God the Father and Jesus Christ to remain faithful and true at all times.  How do we do this?  This is accomplished by the ongoing, life-long process of conversion through which God is recreating us in the image of Jesus Christ: “And [you] have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him Who created him; where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian nor Scythian, slave nor free; but Christ is all things, and in all.  Put on then, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, deep inner affections, kindness, humility, meekness and long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so also you should forgive.  And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And LET THE PEACE OF GOD RULE IN YOUR HEARTS, to which you were called into one body, and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…” (Col. 3:10-16).

We can accomplish this through the power of the Holy Spirit as we grow and overcome day-by-day with Christ in us (Col. 1:27). Remember, fleshly or carnal means cannot accomplish spiritual goals. To accomplish the spiritual, we must use godly or spiritual means—as we are led by the Spirit of God. Notice what Paul writes: “For those who walk according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those who walk according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can it be. Now then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

However, you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God is indeed dwelling within you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  Now if Christ be within you, the body is indeed dead because of sin; however, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  Now if the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead is dwelling within you, He Who raised Christ from the dead will also quicken your mortal bodies because of His Spirit that dwells within you.  So then, brethren, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; because if you are living according to the flesh, you shall die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:5-14).

On the Sabbath of May 5 during the Elders’ Conference, we had an excellent turnout of brethren with 100 in attendance for morning and afternoon services. In the morning, Ken Gee, our elder in Australia, and Norbert Bohnert from Lethbridge, Alberta Canada, spoke.  This was Ken Gee’s first conference in five years and we were most happy that he and his wife were able to come.  This was the first time that the brethren in the states heard Norbert speak; and likewise many brethren had not heard Ken. They gave very good messages and we appreciated their participation. In the afternoon, Jim Hyles spoke about the work he does for the CBCG and for myself, and how his wife Betty duplicates tapes for our four Care Packages and the 43 tape series that we mail out to the brethren.  This past Sabbath, Betty said that when they got back from the conference, she had 41 KPs and series that she put together and mailed out during the week.

Excerpts from the Bible Project: We are making excellent progress with the Bible project—and are enclosing with this letter a selection of 22 pages from the coming Old Testament.  For the afternoon Sabbath sermon during the conference, I covered numerous critical verses that we have clarified with our corrected translation.  We are sending them with this mailing.  However, the sermons from the conference are not included in this mailing.  They will be on a CD titled “Elders’ Conference,” which you receive in the next mailing

Brethren, thank you for your continued support through your love, prayers and your tithes and offerings.  We pray daily that God the Father and Jesus Christ will continue to bless you spiritually and physically in everything—that They will lead you, heal you, protect and comfort you. And we also continually pray that the love and grace of God will flow to you through the power of His Holy Spirit, which comes from God.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter

FRC

 

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