Monthly letter archive

January 17, 2023

Dear Brethren,

As we head into a new year on the civil calendar, we need to remember that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” With that said, the next question is, “Will the new 118th House of Representatives be able to actually change anything? Perhaps they can change some things, but will they really make a difference? Yes, there are a great number of well-meaning representatives who will be trying to make things better for Americans. But how far will they go? When we read Isaiah’s prophecy about the condition of the nation (and the world), it becomes apparent that the efforts of men will be meager—when compared to what God actually requires. “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken, ‘I have reared and brought up children, but they have rebelled against Me. The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib; but Israel does not know Me; My people do not understand. Ah, sinful nation, a people burdened with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord; they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger; they have gone away backward.

“ ‘Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more and more; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the top of the head there is no soundness in it; only wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed, nor bound up, nor soothed with ointment. Your country is a desolation, your cities are burned with fire. Strangers devour your land right in your very presence, and it is wasted, as overthrown by strangers’… Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small remnant [the true people of God], we would have been as Sodom; we would have become [obliterated] like Gomorrah” (Isa. 1:2-7, 9).

In spite of all these problems, God offers the true solution—and it is spiritual! “Hear the Word of the Lord, rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, people of Gomorrah…. ‘Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil. Learn to do good; seek judgment, reprove the oppressor. Judge the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land….’ ” (verses 10, 16-19).

That is the solution—repentance of sin and turning to God and obeying Him. The prophet Joel also proclaims: “ ‘Therefore even now,’ says the Lord ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. Yes, rend your heart and not your garments, and return to the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and He repents of the evil’ ” (Joel 2:12-13).

But if there is no mass repentance, then Isaiah warns, “ ‘But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword;’ for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it” (Isa. 1:20).

In spite of the billions of Bibles in the world, it remains a great mystery to most people—even to the majority of professing Christians. Why? Because they do not truly believe the Scriptures and neither do they obey what God commands. For example, the other day I was talking to a man who, after stating that he was an “Armenian Christian,” asked me, “Why are there so many ‘Christian’ churches in the world? Why can’t there be just one? All of this is so confusing to me!” I told him that the answer was really very simple—“People want to tell God what to do, rather than do what God tells them to do! Furthermore, men believe that they can improve on God’s perfect Word by adding their own human ideas, traditions, and holidays.” Although he agreed with that answer, as many people might, he didn’t have a clue as to what I was actually telling him. So I left him to ponder the answer I gave.

It is exactly as Jesus says of the religious leaders of this world: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but the one who is doing the will of My Father, Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day [the judgment day—and all have to come before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of himself], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy through Your name? And did we not cast out demons through Your name? And did we not perform many works of power through Your name?’ And then I will confess to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:21-23). Yes, they have an “outward appearance of godliness, but [are] denying the power of true godliness” (II Tim. 3:5).

While most “Christians” are no doubt sincere, they believe what they are taught by their teachers—that what they are doing is “right.” After all, their teachers use the Bible, right? But they don’t use the whole Bible. And they are not taught that disobedience brings spiritual blindness—a make-believe reality, an illusion. Nor do they realize that Satan the devil is actively deceiving the whole world (Rev. 12:9) through his servants—religious and government leaders. Under the sway of this deception people are walking “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit [Satan] that is now working within the children of disobedience; among whom also we all once had our conduct in the lusts of our flesh, doing the things willed by the flesh and by the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest of the world” (Eph. 2:2-3).

The people of this world live in delusions—in a “false reality.” It is exactly as Isaiah wrote: “It shall even be as when a hungry one dreams, and behold, he eats, but he awakes and his soul is empty; or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he drinks; but he awakes, and behold, he is faint and his soul is longing…. Be stunned and amazed! Blind your eyes and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink, for the Lord has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes; He has covered the prophets and your rulers, and the seers. And the vision of all has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which they give to one who is learned saying, ‘Please read this,’ and he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’ And the book is delivered to him who is not learned, saying, ‘Please read this,’ and he says, ‘I am not learned.’ And the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips honor Me, but their worship of Me is made up of the traditions of men learned by rote, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandments of men’ ” (Isa. 29:8-13).

Yes, men want to be religious and give lip-service to God—while delighting in their own works and traditions. Most people think God approves of their ways, even when they know that many of their practices are actually pagan and contrary to the Word of God—such as the world’s religious holidays. Consequently, God blinds their eyes and their understanding. Notice: “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do again a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise ones shall perish, and the wisdom of their intelligent ones shall vanish [they become fools (Rom. 1:18-22)]” (Isa. 29:14).

Paul writes about the blindness of the world brought about by Satan’s deception: “But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing; in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe…” (II Cor. 4:3-4).

This is the “broad way” that leads to death, as Jesus said: “For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many [the majority of the world] are those who enter through it” (Matt. 7:13). This is the way of the world and the world loves its own (John 15:19). On the other hand, God commands us to not love the world—that is, to not live and do as the world does. John wrote, “Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Because everything that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pretentious pride of physical life—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world and its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17).

While all religions claim a pathway to God, their claims are actually empty and worthless. In fact, many of them twist and distort God’s Word and way of life in rebellion and stubbornness against God: “Woe to those who go deep to hide their purpose from the Lord! And their works are in the dark, and they say, ‘Who sees us? And who knows us?’ Surely, you have turned things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the potter’s clay; for shall the work say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me?’ Or shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘He had no understanding?’ ” (Isa. 29:15-16).

Who does God hold responsible? Primarily, He charges the ministers, prophets, and priests. The prophet Ezekiel exposes their great error and rebellion: “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst, like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to My law [by claiming it has been abolished] and have profaned My holy things. They have put no difference between the holy and the profane, and have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and THEY HAVE HIDDEN THEIR EYES FROM MY SABBATHS, and I am profaned among them…. And her prophets have covered themselves with whitewash, seeing false visions and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus says the Lord god; when the Lord has not spoken” (Ezek. 22:25-26, 28).

God does not view this as simple ignorance or a lack of knowledge by the religious leaders. He declares it for what it actually is—a deliberate conspiracy! In spite of billions of Bibles available in nearly every language (Mark 13:10), they have closed their eyes to the truth. If they would search the Word of God, they could know the truth. But they have refused! Thus, they do not understand the Bible nor comprehend God’s plan for mankind.

For example: The whole world knows that the celebration of Christmas is not found in the Bible. But since they are told that it commemorates Jesus’ birth, they willingly continue in the delusion that it is an authorized Christian practice. People believe that their “goodness” is accepted by God, even if it is wrong—because they are sincere. But God does not accept it—under any circumstances. God’s answer to them is clear: “But to the wicked God says, ‘What is it to you to declare My statutes, and to take up My covenant in your mouth? Yea, you hate to be taught, and you cast My words behind you. When you saw a thief, then you were pleased to be with him, and you have taken part with adulterers.

“ ‘You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit; you speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I have kept silence; you thought that I was like yourself, but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver ” (Psa. 50:16-22).

God indicts government leaders and politicians as well. “Her rulers in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood and to destroy souls, to get unjust gain” (Ezek. 22:27). Does this not perfectly describe the government leaders of this world? Most of them come into office with modest means and end up rich! How? It’s called politics—lying, cheating, stealing.

As a result, what kind of societies have the so-called “Christian” nations created? Instead of love, kindness, goodness, honesty, righteousness, and truth, what do we find? Isaiah gives the answer: “Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin with cart ropes; who say, ‘Let Him hurry and hasten His work, so that we may see it; and let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, so that we may know!’ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame burns up the chaff; their root shall be like rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up like dust because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore, the anger of the Lord is kindled against His people, and He has stretched out His hand against them, and has stricken them…. In all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” (Isa. 5:18-25).

The religions and governments of this world are blind and corrupt because they have rejected the Word of God as the standard for living. Therefore, all the troubles we see are the result of God’s judgment and correction, which automatically comes because the laws and commandments of God are active and functioning upon everyone all the time—individuals, communities, and nations. This is the world we live in, and it will continue this way until the return of Jesus Christ and the first resurrection of the saints to eternal life.

How Are We to Live in the World, but Not be Part of the World? While we still live in the world, God says we are not to be of the world—of this “Babylon the Great.” The apostle John writes: “ ‘All nations have drunk of the wine of the fury of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the power of her luxury.’ And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her [do not live as the world does], My people, so that you do not take part in her sins, and that you do not receive of her plagues, for her sins have reached as far as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities’ ” (Rev. 18:3-5).

We live in this world, but are not part of this world—that is, we don’t live as the world lives. In His final prayer before He was arrested, Jesus prayed to the Father for us: “But now I am coming to You [Holy Father]; and these things I am speaking while yet in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in them. I have given them Your words, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You would take them out of the world, but that You would keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Sanctify them in Your truth; Your Word is the truth. Even as You did send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they also may be sanctified in Your truth. I do not pray for these only, but also for those who shall believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, in order that the world may believe that You did send Me” (John 17:13-21).

We are separated from the world and sanctified by the truth of God. In addition, we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God. Although we live in the world, and are to be a light to the world, we are not part of the world—Babylon the Great!

What is it that we do that truly separates us from the world? The first thing is the love of God and keeping His commandments. Coupled with God’s Holy Spirit in us, this is the foundation of our relationship with God. Jesus commanded us: “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel. Our one God is the Lord, the 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 12:29-31).

Jesus also added another love commandment. We are to love each other as Jesus Himself loves us: “A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another in the same way that I have loved you, that is how you are to love one another…. 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 Fathers commandments and live in His love. These things I have spoken to you, in order that My joy may dwell in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34; 15:9-12).

In his first epistle, John tells us how we are to live in the love of God and love each other. “My little children, we should not love in word, nor with our tongues; rather, we should love in deed and in truth. And in this way we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him, that if our hearts condemn us [because we are missing the mark], God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, then we have confidence toward God. And whatever we may ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and practice those things that are pleasing in His sight.

“And this is His commandment: that we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and that we love one another, exactly as He gave commandment to us. And the one who keeps His commandments is dwelling in Him, and He in him; and by this we know that He is dwelling in us: by the Spirit which He has given to us” (I John 3:18-24).

Rather than conforming ourselves to the world, we are to have our minds renewed and transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes: “I exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Do not conform yourselves to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind in order that you may prove what is well pleasing and good, and the perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).

This is why we pray and study every day. This is the process of salvation. We grow and overcome daily as we develop the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). We grow in love and grace as we love God and keep His laws and commandments by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we yield to God, He writes His laws and commandments into our hearts and minds—so that we will always be walking in the way of the Lord: “And by this standard we know that we know Him: if we keep His commandments…. [If] anyone is keeping His Word, truly in this one the love of God is being perfected. By this means we know that we are in Him. Anyone who claims to dwell in Him is obligating himself also to walk even as He Himself walked” (I John 2:3, 5-6).

Notice what Peter wrote of our conversion and transformation from living as the world does to living God’s way: “Consequently, since Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished living in sin to this end: that he no longer live his remaining time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the past time of our lives is sufficient to have worked out the will of the Gentiles, when we ourselves walked in licentiousness and lusts, and were debauched with wine, carousing, drinking and wanton idolatries. In seeing this difference in your behavior, they are astonished that you do not rush with them into the same overflowing debauchery [in their pagan feasts to their gods], and they revile you” (I Pet. 4:1-4).

Paul also wrote about coming out of this world to live God’s way through Jesus Christ. “So then, I declare and testify this in the Lord that you are no longer to walk even as the rest of the Gentiles are walking, in the vanity of their minds, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their hearts. They have cast off all feelings, and have given themselves up to licentiousness, to work every uncleanness with insatiable desire.

“But you have not so learned Christ; 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. 4:17-24).

Finally, Paul writes of the ultimate standard of our conduct: “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved us, and gave Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor” (Eph. 5:1-2).

This is how we are to live in the world, but not be part of the world.

Brethren, as we are living in these difficult times, let us draw close to God every day in heartfelt prayer and in the study of His Word. This is how we can continue to grow in grace and knowledge as we develop godly character and love in preparation for Jesus Christ’s return—so we can reign with Him as He rules and brings salvation to this world.

We thank God the Father and Jesus Christ for Their goodness and mercy. Once again, we thank you for your love and faithfulness to God and to each other. Thank you for your prayers for us and all the brethren. Thank you for your steadfastness in tithes and offerings, especially in these difficult times. We pray that God continues to bless you in everything, and that God will watch over you and protect you in every way. We pray for you daily, for your health and your healing through God’s love and grace.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter