Letter to the Brethren: December 23, 2021

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

There was a deadly typhoon in the Philippines. I have not yet received a response to my inquiry with our leading man there. We have concerns that his area was affected–please keep the brethren in the Philippines in your prayers.

Over in Africa, our youth camps in Kenya are to start tomorrow, which is a little later than usual. We hope to have a report on them in a later Letter to the Brethren.

Richard Close Update

Deacon Richard Close, who lives in Pennsylvania, is still recovering and this seems to be going slowly.

He is still not available for counseling, etc.

His daughter Elizabeth requested continued prayers for him.

Mozambique and Kenya

Malawi-based CCOG deacon Radson Molozowa sent the following photos and report:

Am visiting Mozambique encourage and meet brethren

Yesterday I meet church host for Domasi, Nasiyaya, Nagaga,Mkwamba, Taulo.
Today am keeping Sabbath with brethren at Domasi
It’s a wonderful trip and the brethren are eager to hear the word of God
I will continue update you about my trip
Best regards

Glad he could make the trip.

In other African news, Pastor Sawek reported yesterday that evangelist Evans Ochieng and his family visited last Sabbath in South Rift, Murkan-Junction in Kenya, and we have been able to supply the needed cement for the floor of the church building there. He reported that the people were grateful for the visit and the cement.

Plain Truth About Christmas

Many people around the world will be celebrating Christmas on December 25th.

Of course, we in the Continuing Church of God know that Jesus could not have been born on that calendar date, and nearly all serious scholars agree.

Anyway, for the first time, my sermon related to Christmas will be highly related to the 1974 booklet, The Plain Truth About Christmas, as well as a couple of articles in the old Plain Truth magazine.

Here is a link to our latest sermon: The Plain Truth About Christmas.

Shut Door/Open Door?

Is it possible that early Christian leaders knew the books of the New Testament from the beginning and did not need the councils that many Greco-Roman-Protestant scholars claim were necessary to determine the canon of the New Testament?

Yes. But this is a controversial view that many do not want heard.

Back in the 1990s when I was a theological editor for Wikipedia, I posted one paragraph in its article of the New Testament canon stating that certain Baptists, Church of God groups, and others do not believe that it took councils to determine the canon. And, basically, that they believe that the last writer of the New Testament, the Apostle John, passed that knowledge to Christian leaders like Polycarp of Smyrna in Asia Minor. Although Wikipedia claimed to have “no point of view” those factual statements about those beliefs were removed.

In 2008, I had an article published by a Protestant journal that mentioned that Polycarp and others in Asia Minor knew the New Testament canon from around the time the last book of the New Testament had been written. That article was pulled months later.

Last Friday, at the request of Academia.edu, I submitted a letter article to it about the New Testament canon. Yet, it almost immediately rejected it and would not send it out.

Now, from Wikipedia through Academia.edu, none of the rejectors cited errors in the historic references or scriptures those pieces contained—they apparently just did not want the idea to be viewed.

So, did these rejections mean that all doors to get this information out were closed?


Consider what the Book of Ecclesiastes teaches:

1 Cast your bread upon the waters,
For you will find it after many days. …

6 In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.  (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

We are to do the work and use many ways to do so.

Remember that Jesus had the following message for the Philadelphians:

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:7-10)

Notice that Jesus mentioned persevering.

So, for this topic, I did.

As it turned out, there was one other time I responded to a request from Academia.edu to submit a letter article to it. That one was about possible Waldensian succession. It took Academia.edu about a month to reject it, so I decided to submit that article to the Sabbath Sentinel, which accepted it and informed me it should be published next month.

When I mentioned the canon topic to the editor of the Sabbath Sentinel this week, he responded that this is something he felt was really needed. He, then, said that I could submit a three or even four-part article on it if that would work out.

So, some version of that is the plan.

This will help us reach a potentially more receptive audience.

We continue to ‘cast our bread’ and strive to go through ‘doors’ that Jesus opens.

Year-End Income Tax Matters

(Public Domain Images)

As mentioned last week, We are getting close to the end of the Roman calendar year. Those who live in the United States, in order to have their contributions eligible for tax deduction for calendar year 2021, need to send electronic or regular mail donations no later than December 31, 2021. For those who physically mail donations, they must be postmarked by December 31, 2021 to be eligible for deductibility for 2021.

All contributions received via US mail for residents of the United States are to be processed for the tax year based upon the postmarked date on the envelopes.

For contributions received via PayPal, we use the date that PayPal gives us.

The PayPal donation link for the USA is at: https://www.ccog.org/donations/

In Canada the rules may be slightly different for mailed and other contributions, so if you want the tax deduction for calendar year 2021, they likely also need to be made before the end of the calendar year to the CCOG office in Canada. Here is a link to the CCOG Canada donations’ page: https://ccogcanada.ca/donations/

In New Zealand, they use a March 31st date to end their tax year. That being said, here is a link to the CCOG New Zealand donations’ page: https://ccog.nz/donations/

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.


World News Items

The Omicron COVID-variant is getting a lot of attention around the world. Government steps blamed on it may have serious economic consequences (see Bill Blain: The Omicron Economic Threat). The last time my wife and I were in Europe, I was told that countries there that rely a lot on tourism would not be able to survive another lockdown like occurred in 2020. The Beast of Revelation 13 will rise up after a major pandemic and likely an economic crisis. While we are not there yet, we see many preludes to the coming 666 time of the Beast rising up (see also ‘The COVID-19 Passport Microchip is Here’ Sounds like what the World Economic Forum called for).

There have been reports about the decreased belief in religion in the UK and USA (see ‘In England and Wales number of Christians falls to half the population, while in US similar pattern shows’). As atheism/agnosticism increases, we are also seeing increased acceptance of sexual immorality and other behaviors that the Bible says are deserving of death (Romans 1:18-32). National repentance is what is needed–without it, a European leader will become “king” over the British-descended peoples per Hosea 11:3a, 5b-7.

As far as the USA goes, there have been public concerns about a possible insurrection and/or civil war coming related to future elections there (seeWND: Ex-Army generals fear insurrection or ‘civil war’ in 2024; PCG: Recounts Exposing 2020 Election Steal). While as Christians we realize that God will set leaders in place (cf. Daniel 4:17), we also are to watch world events as Jesus pointed out in places like the 13th chapter of Mark’s gospel.

Various ones in the Biden-Harris Administration are concerned about Donald Trump and his supporters. From a Christian perspective, consider that neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden advocate national repentance nor the kingdom of God.

Donald Trump is a serial adulterer and Joe Biden is an ardent promoter of abortion. And both promote LGBTQ matters.

Furthermore, both of them have documented problems with the truth.

The Bible warns:

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; (Isaiah 5:20)

2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; (Exodus 23:2)

No matter who you may think is better, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

We do not place our confidence in the politics of this world.

The Book of Proverbs teaches:

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.  (Psalm 146:3)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

We are to trust in God, not human leaders.

Concluding Comments

Jeremiah the prophet wrote:

Only, know your iniquity, || For you have transgressed against your God YHWH, || And you scatter your ways to strangers, || Under every green tree, || And you have not listened to My voice, (Jeremiah 3:13, Literal Standard Version)

Thus said YHWH: “Do not accustom yourselves to the way of the nations, || And do not be frightened by the signs of the heavens, || For the nations are frightened by them. For the statutes of the peoples are vanity, || For one has cut a tree from a forest, || Work of the hands of a craftsman, with an axe, They beautify it with silver and with gold, || They fix it with nails and with hammers, || And it does not stumble. They [are] stiff as a palm, and they do not speak, || They are surely carried, for they do not step, || Do not be afraid of them, for they do no evil, || Indeed, to do good is also not in them.” (Jeremiah 10:2-5, Literal Standard Version)

Brethren, the trees that many put in their houses this time of year are not able to do good.

Notice also:

2 You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4 You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things. (Deuteronomy 12:2-4, NKJV)

True Christians do not use green trees in their worship of our Creator.

We are to worship God in truth (John 4:24), in accordance with His ways.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

Posted in Letters to the Brethren
About CCOG
The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. Read CCOG's statement of beliefs for more information.