Monthly letter archive

January 14, 2022

Dear Brethren,

The year 2021 was difficult and challenging for everyone—in the Church and in the world—all because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the lockdowns, quarantines, mask requirements, and vaccine mandates—all of which were pushed by deceptive medical “experts” and government leaders—only made things worse. The crisis became a breeding ground for government tyranny—with hypocritical leaders forcing various mandates on the people that they themselves refused to follow. On top of all of this were the vast economic losses: business closures, bankruptcies, and massive loss of wealth.

To date, more than a half million Americans have died from the Wuhan virus—and much of that was unnecessary. This loss of loved ones (spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends) has taken a huge toll on the survivors—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A good number of brethren in the churches of God, as well as a few in the CBCG, have been devastated by the loss of a husband, wife, or other close relative or friend.

Meanwhile, prophecy is being fulfilled—which gives us a picture of the state of the nation and the world. Jesus warned: “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you do not let these things disturb you. For it is necessary that all these things take place, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in different places. Now all these things are the beginning of sorrows.

“Then shall they deliver you up to affliction, and shall kill you; and you shall be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be led into sin, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another; and many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many; and because lawlessness shall be multiplied, the love of many shall grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, that one shall be saved” (Matt. 24:6-13).

In these difficult times, let us keep our minds on God’s plan: The goal for the “called, chosen, and faithful” is eternal life at the first resurrection, which we will receive as sons and daughters of God and as brothers and sisters of Christ. Then we will reign with Jesus to save this world.

How God Views Life and Death for the Saints: The Church today is composed mostly of seniors. And those of us in this category realize that the last day of our physical life is approaching. We pray that God will bless His “senior saints” with an extended life—but we also fully understand what Solomon wrote: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens: a time to be born, and a time to die… ” (Eccl. 3:1-2).

We also acknowledge a promise that God has given to the saints: “The righteous perish, and no one lays it to heart, and merciful men are taken away; none considering that the righteous are taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds [the grave], each one who walked in his uprightness [through God’s Holy Spirit]” (Isa. 57:1-2). But for those who do live on, God promises to give added strength: “[T]he people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits. And those who are wise among the people shall cause many to understand; yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by exile, and spoil, many days. Now when they stumble, they shall be helped with a little help, but many will join themselves unto them with flatteries. And some of those who understand shall fall, to refine and to purify them, and to make white, to the time of the end because it is yet even for the appointed time” (Dan. 11:32-35).

The following is from the CBCG funeral message outline for those who have died in the faith:

From the creation of the world for mankind, throughout everyone’s physical lifetime, it is God Who sustains everything on the earth for all mankind to have life, from our first breath to our last. The apostle Paul writes, “He is the God Who made the world and all things that are in it. Being the Lord of heaven and earth, He does not dwell in temples made by hands; nor is He served by the hands of men, as though He needs anything, for He gives to all life and breath and all things.

“And He made of one blood all the nations of men to dwell upon all the face of the earth, having determined beforehand their appointed times and the boundaries of their dwelling; in order that they might seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after Him and might find Him; though truly, He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-28).

Yet, for all human life the Scriptures tell us that there is “a time to be born, and a time to die” (Eccl. 3:2). And at death, “the spirit [of man] shall return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).

The Holy Bible reveals that God’s perspective of death is far different than man’s fearful view of death. First, we will see how God views the death His saints—those destined for the first resurrection. The Lord declares: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints…. The righteous, even when he is brought to death, has hope.” And again, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” And again, “The righteous perish, and no one lays it to heart, and merciful men are taken away; none considering that the righteous are taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest…” (Psa. 116:15; Prov. 14:32; Rev. 2:10; Isa. 57:1-2).

Because death seems so final, grief fills our hearts over the loss of a loved one, regardless of the circumstances of its occurrence. Death brings us face-to-face with the reality that human life is temporary. With death, we are confronted with the ultimate weakness of human beings, the helplessness that a life has come to an end, and that no human being of him or herself has the power to escape death or overcome death, except through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, our Creator has revealed in His Scriptures that this physical life that we now possess in the flesh is temporary, because it has been given to all human beings to die once. “It is appointed unto men once to die…. For as in Adam we all die” (Heb. 9:27; I Cor. 15:22).

After Adam and Eve had sinned, thereby bringing death to all their progeny—to all mankind in all ages—God said to Adam, “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). We are all physical—we are all made of the dust of the earth. Moreover, at the time of death, one’s breath goes forth; he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psa. 146:4).

In the face of death and in the fear of death, all mankind has wondered and asked the question, “Is there life after death?” In the Scriptures we find that Job asked this same question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). Yet death is such a mystery! No one except Jesus has been raised from the dead to eternal life. He spoke in vision to the apostle John: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, even the One Who is living; for I was dead, and behold, I am alive into the ages of eternity. Amen. And I have the keys of the grave and of death” (Rev. 1:17-18).

Furthermore, the Scriptures teach us that death is an enemy—yes, the last enemy that is to be destroyed through the power of the resurrection, as revealed in God’s great plan. Thus, the Scriptures reveal that there is life after death through the resurrection. And this life is in Jesus Christ—in Him and Him alone! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…. I am the resurrection and the life” (John 14:6; 11:25).

Just as we all die in Adam, “so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruit; then, those who are Christ’s at His coming…” (I Cor. 15:22-23).

God the Father has given the power and the authority of the resurrection to Christ. Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. For even as the Father has life in Himself, so also has He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and has also given Him authority to execute judgment because He is the Son of man. Do not wonder at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth: those who have practiced good unto a resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil unto a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:25-29).

During this age, only a few have been called of God to receive the gift of eternal life at the first resurrection—because they have repented, love God, obey His Word, and keep His commandments. These are the ones who are the “called, chosen and faithful who love God with all their hearts, and with all their minds, and with all their strength” (Rev. 17:14; Mark 12:30).

But in God’s great plan for all mankind, as revealed in the Scriptures, in the coming age after Jesus returns to rule the world in love and righteousness, all who did not have an opportunity to receive salvation in this age will also be resurrected to receive an opportunity for eternal life.

At this time, before the return of Jesus Christ, those who have been called during their lifetimes and who have died in the faith—in Jesus Christ—will be raised to eternal life with all the saints in eternal glory at His Second Coming!

This is why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life ... and the resurrection, and the life. He who believes in Me, though he die, shall live again; and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall not die forever” (John 14:6; 11:25-26).

While we have our sins forgiven through the death and shed blood of Jesus and His resurrection, the faithful in Christ who die “shall be saved by His life—because He Himself was raised from the dead by the power of God the Father.

As Paul writes, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead; He has become the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep [in Christ]. For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruit; then, those who are Christ’s at His coming. Afterwards the end comes, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to Him Who is God and Father, when He shall have put an end to all rule and all authority and power. For it is ordained that He reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:20-26).

Paul adds, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body; accordingly, it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam became an ever-living Spirit.’ However, the spiritual was not first, but the natural—then the spiritual. The first man is of the earth—made of dust. And as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

“Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Cor. 15:42-52). John writes: “Behold! What glorious love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God! For this very reason, the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be; but we know that when He is manifested, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him exactly as He is” (I John 3:1-2).

Paul confirms this: “But for us, the commonwealth of God exists in the heavens, from where also we are waiting for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; Who will transform our vile bodies, that they may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the inner working of His own power, whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

Jesus Himself declares these promises of God given through the prophets when He spoke of the glory that those in the resurrection to eternal life will have (Dan. 12:2-3). They will shine as the stars of heaven: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43). Jesus will return to establish the Kingdom of God on earth—and those of the first resurrection will reign with Him to bring a thousand years of love and peace to all mankind.

Indeed, “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds for the meeting with the Lord in the air; and so shall we always be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:16-18).

As the Scriptures reveal, death and the corruption of the flesh will be overcome! “For this corruptible must put on incorruptibility, and this mortal must put on immortality. Now when this corruptible shall have put on incorruptibility, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” (I Cor. 15:53-55).

In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul writes: “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; and that being rooted and grounded in love, you may be fully able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses human knowledge; so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that is working in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all generations, even into the ages of eternity. Amen” (Eph. 3:14-21).

End of CBCG funeral message outline.

John was given a vision of the coming new heaven and earth where the children of God will live forever: “ ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men [and women, made perfect]; and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people; and God Himself shall be with them and be their God. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, or sorrow, or crying; neither shall there be any more pain, because the former things have passed away.’ And He Who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Then He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the one who thirsts, I will give freely of the fountain of the water of life. The one who overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son’ ” (Rev. 21:1-7).

These scriptures give us a greater understanding of these often quoted words: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Brethren, we need to draw close to God in heartfelt prayer and in the daily study of His Word so that we can continue to grow in grace and knowledge and always be overcoming. We daily thank God for His love, grace, and mercy for all His people. We thank you personally for your continued love and faithfulness to God and to each other. We thank you for your prayers for us and for all the brethren, and for your faithfulness in tithes and offerings. We pray that God will continue to bless you, heal you, strengthen you, and keep watch over you—and for His love and grace to be upon you in all circumstances.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter