Monthly letter archive

June 14, 2016

Dear Brethren,

Our 2016 Elders’ Conference, held May 18-21 at the Hilton Cincinnati Airport Hotel, was a wonderfully inspiring event—including the special Sabbath with over 150 attending. The high point of the morning Sabbath services was the ordination of Russell Kemp, from Tennessee, as an elder. This brings the total number of CBCG elders, including myself, to 19.

Back during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Roy Assanti, our elder and office manager in Australia, traveled to Singapore, Malaysia, where we have a group of brethren who have been with us for over 20 years. During those years, Joseph Moses, a deacon, served them. However, two years ago Joseph died. His son Andrew, now 37, has served as their leader in his father’s stead. They have all continued to faithfully love God and keep His laws and commandments, His Sabbaths, and the holy days. After visiting the group and observing the love and service that Andrew was providing the brethren, Roy saw that Andrew was actually doing the work of an elder. Following extensive phone consultations with me, we agreed that Andrew should be ordained as an elder. So on April 23, 2016, Roy officially ordained Andrew as an elder. Roy also made it possible for him to attend this year’s conference.

Elders and Attendees for the CBCG Elders’ Conference, May 18-21, 2016

    1. Fred R. Coulter—Hollister, CA
    2. Roger & Emy Kendall—Vermont  
    3. Marlin & Nancy Fannin—Ohio    
    4. Norbert & Denise Bohnert—Canada   
    5. Duncan MacLeod—New Hampshire   
    6. Roy & Marie Mack—Ohio   
    7. Gene Palm—Ohio, unable to attend   
    8. Roy & Manola Assanti—Australia   
    9. Lyall Johnston—New Zealand   
    10. Andrew Moses—Malaysia    
    11. Roger & Sherry Tointon—N. California
    12. Lawrence & Virginia Burchfield—Oklahoma    
    13. Ben Ambrose—Georgia  
    14. Gilebaldo Elizando—Texas and Latin America
    15. Russell & Laura Kemp—Tennessee
    16. Mr. & Mrs. Steve Durham—Indiana
    17. Stan Timek—Pennsylvania
    18. Mr. & Mrs. Frans Peeters—Holland
    19. Helmut Burger—South Africa, unable to attend

      Other Attendees:
    20. Tom & Rhonda Fannin, Deacon—Ohio
    21. Rick Roberg, Deacon—Maine
    22. David & Gail Linesberger, Deacon— North Carolina
    23. Eric Stott—United Kingdom
    24. Albert & Charlotte Jones—Michigan
    25. Nolan & Faye Joseph—Florida
    26. Eduardo & Jose Elizando—Ohio

Thank God the Father and Jesus Christ for all these men and their wives—for their dedication, love, and faithfulness in serving the brethren. We all realize that it is a great labor of love, which at times presents difficult challenges. However, as Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ, Who empowers me [with the Holy Spirit]…. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound-mindedness” (Phil. 4:13; II Tim. 1:7).

While on their way to Jerusalem, the apostles were arguing as to which of them would be the greatest. It was so intense that even the mother of James and John came to Jesus (a little motherly politicking) to get an inside track for her sons—so that they might sit on the right hand and left hand of Jesus in His kingdom: “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 [James and John] 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 rulers of the nations exercise lordship [from the top down] over them, and the great ones [the religious leaders] exercise authority over them [holding the people in fear and bondage].

“ ‘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).

As elders of Jesus Christ, we are to be faithfully dedicated to serving the brethren—not ourselves. (Please request our booklet, Is the Ministry God’s Government? Also see the video “Invisible Idol—Visible Man.”) [Invisible Idol - Visible Man #1 & Invisible Idol - Visible Man #2]

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared many times to the apostles and disciples over a period of 40 days. On one occasion, as recorded by the apostle John, Jesus questioned Peter three times about his love for Him. As we will see, there was a special reason why Jesus did this: “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 [agapao] Me more than these?’ And he said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord. You know that I love [phileo] You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’

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

Two different Greek words are used in this account for lovephileo and agapao—and they express a deeper meaning not conveyed in the English. Here is the explanation of these verses: “These two words are not used indiscriminately; αγαπαω [agapao] never means to kiss; φιλεω [phileo] never means to acquiesce, or cherish with reverence. φιλεω [phileo] denotes the sense or passion of love, to show affection, but in αγαπαω [agapao] is the implied cause of φιλεω [phileo]. αγαπαω [agapao] is to make much of a thing, to admire for some good and sufficient reason, but φιλεω [phileo] denotes the love which springs naturally from the thing loved, even where no just cause to love exists. αγαπαω [agapao] is never used of improper love; φιλεω [phileo] is. Hence, in the NT φιλεω [phileo] is never used of man’s love to God, but αγαπαω [agapao] always [is]. Both words are used of God’s love to man, αγαπαω [agapao] when He said to ‘Love the world’ (John iii.16, etc.), and when He wishes men good and seeks their salvation; and φιλεω [phileo] is affirmed of His love to His people who please Him (John xvi.27, etc.). Again, φιλεω [phileo] is used of Jesus’ love for Lazarus (John xi.3, 36); but in verse 5 the word is αγαπαω [agapao], because there the sisters are included and therefore this word is more correct. Again, we are commanded to love our enemies, etc., but here αγαπαω [agapao] is used, never φιλεω [phileo]; love cannot be required in this case, though kindness and compassion are. Again, in John xxi.15-17, in the first question Jesus uses αγαπαω [agapao], but Peter uses the word φιλεω [phileo] in his reply; this is repeated [the second time], and then Jesus uses Peter’s word in the third question. Once more, to love (φιλεω) [phileo] life from an excessive desire to preserve it, and so to lose sight of the real objective of living, is reproved by our Lord (John xii.25.) Whereas to love (αγαπαω) [agapao] life is to consult its real interest [i.e., the purpose of life]” (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, E. W. Bullinger, p. 470).

This account in John 21 is fundamentally important—for Jesus’ charge to Peter to feed and shepherd the flock is absolutely incumbent upon elders today. Indeed, when Peter wrote his first epistle, he admonished his fellow elders on how they were to serve the brethren: “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 apostle Paul writes that Jesus established the ministry to serve the brethren in love, so that all may be spiritually perfected: “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).

Paul made it absolutely clear that he and those with him were not to be overlords: “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…. 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)—by the authority of faith through Jesus Christ and not by the authority of men.

In 58 AD, on his way to Jerusalem, Paul called the elders of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus, because he knew that he would never see them again. In his farewell message to them, he exhorted the elders to be vigilant and faithful to Christ in feeding the flock of God. His powerful testimony and warning is recorded in Acts 20: “Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, ‘You know how, from the first day I came to Asia, and all the time I was with you, I served the Lord with all humility and with many tears and temptations, which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; and how I did not keep back anything that was profitable, but preached to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, earnestly testifying, both to the Jews and the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

“ ‘And now behold, I am bound in the spirit, and am going to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall happen to me there; except that the Holy Spirit fully testifies in every city, saying that bonds and tribulations await me. But I myself do not take any of these things into account, nor do I hold my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify the gospel of the grace of God.

“ ‘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. And now I commit you, brethren, to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified’ ” (Acts 20:17-32).

Every elder needs to take these words to heart—because it is in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we serve the brethren and oversee the flock of God. Indeed, we need to heed Jesus’ admonition to Peter that we lovingly serve the brethren and feed the flock of God—because we love Him.

When Paul wrote his epistles of I and II Timothy and Titus, he gave basic instructions on teaching and defending the true Gospel, avoiding false doctrines, watching one’s personal conduct, and remaining faithful in all things. Knowing that his end was imminent, Paul wrote this final encouragement and warning to Timothy: “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. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith. From this time forward, a crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who love His appearing” (II Tim. 3:14-17; 4:1-8).

Every elder needs to study the Word of God and practice the teachings of Christ—and so fulfill our calling of serving the brethren in love, faith, and truth. We must apply Jesus’ words to Peter by lovingly overseeing the flock of God as led by the Holy Spirit!

Jesus told the apostles that the harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few (just as it is today). There are many things yet to transpire before the end comes; thus, we need to keep working, growing, and overcoming with love and zeal, purpose and determination: “Jesus said to them, ‘My meat is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do not say that there are yet four months, and then the harvest comes. I say to you, look around. Lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are already white to harvest.

“ ‘And the one who reaps receives a reward, and gathers fruit unto eternal life; so that the one who is sowing and the one who is reaping may both rejoice together. For in this the saying is true, that one sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that in which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor’ ” (John 4:34-38). Jesus also said, “The harvest is indeed great, but the workmen are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workmen into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).

Please pray that God will call more dedicated men to help serve the brethren and those God will yet call.

In this mailing, we have included a CD of the Sabbath services held during the Elders’ Conference. Over the next several mailings, we will include CDs that cover every session of the Conference. This will give you a “front row seat,” as it were, so you can see how seriously the elders and helpers of the CBCG take our God-given responsibilities to feed the flock of God!

We hope that you had a very uplifting and inspiring Feast of Pentecost! Remember, this special feast of God pictures the complete harvest of the firstfruits—the first resurrection, when Jesus Christ returns. As a follow-up to Pentecost, be sure to request the book The Appointed Times of Jesus the Messiah—it will help you to better understand the flow of prophetic events. As you will learn, Jesus’ return is not just a sudden one-day event. Neither will there be a so-called “secret rapture,” which is a false teaching of Protestants. (If you don’t have our series on the “Rapture Hoax,” you can download it from, or you can order it from the office.) Rather, “every eye shall see Him” coming, because the sign of His coming will appear in the heavens first. It will be a startling event—awesome and fantastic! [Rapture Hoax #1 & Rapture Hoax #2]

Once again brethren, we thank you for your love and dedication to God. We pray for you daily and appreciate your prayers for us and all the brethren. We thank you for the tithes and offerings you faithfully give, which we faithfully use to preach the Gospel and feed the flock of God—just as Jesus commanded. May God continue to bless you in everything, help you in every trial, and strengthen you daily.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter