Monthly letter archive

May 16, 2016

Dear Brethren,

We are confident you had an inspiring Passover and a great Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was surely a wonderful time of spiritual renewal and rededication. Based on the e-mails, letters, and comments we have received, it is evident that God has granted us a greater understanding of the spiritual meaning of these days, especially realizing the great love God has for His children.

Jesus knew He was to suffer on Passover, because He and the Father planned it from the foundation of the world. In fact, as the Lord God of the Old Testament, Jesus Himself gave the prophecies concerning that Passover day—including His own suffering. Yet He willingly laid down His life as the Lamb of God—the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world: “I am the good Shepherd, and I know those who are Mine, and am known of those who are Mine. Just as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring those also, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd. On account of this, the Father loves Me: because I lay down My life, that I may receive it back again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down and authority to receive it back again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:14-18).

On the night of His last Passover, Jesus told the apostles of His and the Father’s love for them. From the depths of His being, He told them: “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. 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. No one has greater love than this: that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends because I have made known to you all the things that I have heard from My Father.

“You yourselves did not choose Me, but I have personally chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go forth and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; so that whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:9-17).

We need to fully grasp Jesus’ words, because “they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). These words were written and preserved for those God would call down through the ages. Therefore, whatever trials, afflictions, weaknesses, and sorrows we must endure, we do so knowing that we are greatly loved by God the Father and His only begotten son, Jesus Christ.

In His final prayer, Jesus prayed for all those who would be in the first resurrection to enter the Family and Kingdom of God: “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. And I have given them the glory that You gave to Me, in order that they may be one, in the same way that We are one: I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one; and that the world may know that You did send Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me may also be with Me where I am, so that they may behold My glory, which You have given Me; because You did love Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:20-24).

God Reveals that He has a Great Purpose: God has a great and awesome purpose for mankind! In the days of King Hezekiah of Judah, in the 8th century BC, God declared through the prophet Isaiah that He has a wonderful eternal purpose, which no one can change or stop. “The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely as I have thought, so it shall come to pass; and as I have purposed, so it shall stand; that I will break Assyria in My land, and upon My mountains, and trample him under foot. Then his yoke shall be removed from them [Judah], and his burden shall be taken off their shoulders’ ” (Isa. 14:24-25). God did, in fact, destroy the Assyrian armies during the days of Hezekiah (Isa. 37).

But this was only the initial fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy—as many prophecies of the Bible have a later or second fulfillment. We know this because God declared that His purpose would also be fulfilled upon “all the earth” and “all nations.” Notice: “This is the purpose that is purposed upon all the earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations, for the Lord of hosts has purposed it, and who shall reverse it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa. 14:26-27).

Thus, the second fulfillment did not happen in Hezekiah’s day. However, when all of the related passages are put together, we see that Isaiah’s words will reach their final fulfillment at the end of this age, when Christ returns (Joel 3:9-16; Zech. 14:2-9; Rev. 14:18-20; 16:1-21). Indeed, the Bible is filled with prophecies showing that God’s plan is to include all mankind!

Yet God’s plan is impossible to understand if one does not love God and keep His commandments—especially those concerning the Sabbath and holy days. (If you do not have our books God’s Plan for Mankind Revealed by His Sabbath and Holy Days and Occult Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?, you should request them right away!)

Beginning with Adam and Eve, the world has rejected God. Therefore, He has hidden His plan from the world—from ages and generations (Col. 1:26). Only at Christ’s first coming did God begin to reveal His secret plan and purpose to His elect. “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to babes. Yes, Father, for it was well pleasing in Your sight to do this. All things were delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son personally chooses to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:25-27).

Throughout the New Testament we see that God further defines His great purpose—but only to those “called, chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14). “Having made known to us the mystery of His own will [because we have God’s Holy Spirit and love and obey Him—and keep His Sabbath and holy days], according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself; that in the divine plan for the fulfilling of the times, He might bring all things together in Christ, both the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth” (Eph. 1:9-10).

When we understand the meaning of God’s Sabbath and holy days—and to have this understanding we must be keeping them—we begin to realize that they are the key to the mystery of God’s plan. We also begin to see that these days are interconnected parts of a whole.

It all begins with the seventh-day Sabbath. Then, with Passover, the knowledge of God’s great purpose begins to unfold. Next is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with its direct connection to the following holy day—Pentecost, or the Feast of Firstfruits.

The Count to Pentecost: Fifty days must be counted in order to arrive at the correct date for this special feast. God has given us specific instructions on how to do this. The count always begins on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a special day, but not a holy day. “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, “When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest of it, then you shall bring the premier sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted for you. On the next day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it” ’ ” (Lev 23: 9-11).

In the New Testament, this special waving of the “premier sheaf of the firstfruits” has a spiritual fulfillment in Christ. After being dead in the grave for three days and three nights, Jesus was raised back to life by the Father toward the end of the weekly Sabbath. Then, in the morning of the first day of the week, He ascended to be accepted by God as the “firstborn from among the dead”—as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). His ascension coincided precisely with the high priest waving the sheaf at the Temple. Jesus returned to earth the same day and showed Himself to the apostles and disciples (Luke 24:13-45). He continued to interact with them for 40 days, then ascended to heaven for the final time (Acts 1:1-11).

Now back to the count for Pentecost in Leviticus 23. For the children of Israel, no barley or wheat could be harvested until this premier sheaf was waved before God on the first day of the 50-day count. It is important to understand that the count cannot begin on any other day of the week, or on any other first day of the week outside the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “And you shall count to you beginning with the next day after the Sabbath, beginning with the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering seven Sabbaths shall be complete. Even unto the day after the seventh Sabbath you shall number fifty days…” (verses 15-16). The count is always reckoned inclusively, meaning that the day the sheaf is waved by the priest is the first day of the 50-day count. After this special priestly ceremony, the grain harvest could begin and would continue for seven complete weeks.

Since the count begins with the first day of the week, each week ends with the seventh-day Sabbath. Each week must be complete—seven consecutive days. There can be no partial weeks totaling 50 days. This is why God instructs that “seven Sabbaths shall be complete”—49 days. The day after the seventh weekly Sabbath is the 50th day—or Pentecost.

There were special offerings on that day: “And you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord…. They are the firstfruits to the Lord…. And you shall proclaim on the same day that it may be a holy convocation to you. You shall do no servile work therein. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations” (verses 16-17, 21).

From the chronology of the journey of the children of Israel to Mount Sinai, we find that it was on the Day of Pentecost when God gave the Ten Commandments to the people. In the New Testament, God sent the Holy Spirit in power on the Day of Pentecost, where the disciples were gathered at the Temple (Acts 2). This was the official beginning of the New Testament church. Finally, the promised first resurrection of the saints is foreshadowed by the Day of Pentecost.

Again, the most important key to understanding God’s plan is this: Everything God does centers around and originates with the weekly Sabbath and the Passover and the holy days. All the teachings and traditions of men cannot bring anyone to God or Jesus. This can only be accomplished God’s way, exactly as Jesus said on the Passover night: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; NO ONE comes to the Father except through Me … [and] no one can come to Me unless it has been given to him from My Father” (John 14:6; 6:65).

Jesus also made it clear that He and the Father are working together. In fact, Jesus said He was totally dependent on God the Father. When the religious authorities challenged Him about healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son has no power to do anything of Himself, but only what He sees the Father do. For whatever He does, these things the Son also does in the same manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him everything that He Himself is doing. And He will show Him greater works than these, so that you may be filled with wonder…. I have no power to do anything of Myself; but as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father, Who sent Me” (John 5:19-20, 30). Likewise, in our spiritual development and growth, we can accomplish nothing of ourselves. It is possible only by the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us—as we yield to it.

On the night of His last Passover, Jesus also revealed a fundamental and powerful truth about the Holy Spirit—that it is not a “third personage” of some kind of inexplicable “trinity.” Yet almost all of mainstream “Christianity” believes that God is a “trinity” of three persons in one Godhead. Indeed, Jesus revealed that there are actually two in the Godhead—God the Father and Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit is simply God’s power and mind in action.

In order to receive God’s Holy Spirit, one must be loving God and keeping His commandments. Here is what Jesus taught: “If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandments” (John 14:15). This must come first, or it is impossible to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Anything a person thinks or does contrary to Jesus’ clear teaching will not be accepted by God the Father. And that person will never receive the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul adds that such a person does not belong to God (Rom. 8:9-11).

On the other hand, Jesus promised that if anyone would truly love God and keep His commandments, that individual could receive the Holy Spirit: “And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that it may be with you throughout the age: even the Spirit of the truth…” (John 14:16-17). Concerning the Holy Spirit, Jesus added that “the world cannot receive [it] because it perceives it not, nor knows it…” (verse 17). Why? Because the world does not love and obey God! It’s that simple! They are automatically spiritually blinded by their own choices of disobedience and unbelief (Matt. 13:12-15).

But Jesus explained to His apostles and disciples that the power of the Holy Spirit had already been with them and would now be in them: “But you know it because it [now] dwells with you, and shall be within you” (John 14:17).

Jesus then related to the apostles that although He was soon going to the Father, He would come to them again: “ ‘Yet a little while and the world shall see Me no longer; but you shall see Me. Because I live, you shall live also. In that day, you shall know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.’

“Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, what has happened that You are about to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him’ ” (verses 19-23). Note carefully what Jesus is saying: It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that both God the Father and Jesus dwell within us. Because the Father and Jesus always work together, the Holy Spirit comes from both of Them. This is why He declared, “We will make Our abode with him.”

Moreover, Jesus revealed that there are two particular functions of the Holy Spirit—one that relates to the Father and the other to the Son: “But when the Comforter comes, even the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, that one shall teach you all things, and shall bring to your remembrance everything that I have told you…. But when the Comforter has come, which I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of the truth, which proceeds from the Father, that one shall bear witness of Me” (John 14:26; 15:26).

The first part or function, which comes from the Father, is the spiritual seed of begettal by the Father through the Holy Spirit for eternal life: “Everyone who has been begotten by God [with His Spirit] does not practice sin because His seed of begettal is dwelling within him, and he is not able to practice sin because he has been begotten by God [the Father]” (I John 3:9). The second part or function, which comes from Jesus, is given so that we can develop the mind of Christ: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

How does one receive the Holy Spirit? He or she must first repent of their sins and be baptized by full immersion in water. Then, an elder must lay hands on them and pray to the Father, in Jesus’ name, in order for them to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; 8:14-17).

The New Book: From a Speck of Dust to a Son of God—Why Were You Born? was mailed out the last week in April. You should have your copy by the time this letter reaches you. As you will see, this is a very special and inspiring book. Included with the book is an audio CD with the reading of the entire book; also included are two DVDs with the 12 segments of the Why Were You Born? series from Church at Home.

Revamped Web Site— The newly-recreated Web site is now up and running. The new site is also “smart digital device” compatible. It has taken about two years for this complete makeover. However, we still have some work to do in order to get all the internal links working so that the search engine will be fully functional. If you have trouble using the site, please bear with us as we are working as quickly as possible to finish the task.

Holy Day Calendar-Bookmarker: We intended to send you a new holy day calendar-bookmarker last month. However, we were not able to insert it into the mailing because we already had the postage on each envelope and the calendar would have required additional postage. We have included it in this mailing.

Brethren, we need to continue to draw close to God the Father and Jesus Christ in heartfelt daily prayer and in the daily study of the Bible. Using the power of the Holy Spirit God has given us, we can grow in grace and knowledge and always be overcoming. We continually thank God for the goodness and mercy He bestows on His people. We thank you personally for your continued love and dedication to God and to each other. Thank you for your prayers for us and all the brethren, and for your continued faithfulness in tithes and offerings. We pray that God will continue to bless you and keep watch over you in everything—for your health, your healing, and that God’s love and grace will be upon you.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter