Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.
Today, on the Roman calendar, marks the fifth anniversary of the official start of the Continuing Church of God as a separate entity.
Without going into all the details, suffice it to say that my prior Church of God organization made it clear on December 28, 2012 that it would not keep promises to correct errors, while then putting out more false information about me personally (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God). After concluding that their words and actions demonstrated further attempts towards reconciliation were futile, I informed that group I would not be part of them. Later that day, my wife, I, and some witnesses then notarized paperwork for the start of the Continuing Church of God.
The sermon recommended for this Sabbath goes over some of what has been happening in the Continuing Church of God over the past five years. Perhaps I should mention that I got ill and was not feeling well when giving the sermon (and am not quite back to normal yet). It is not an excuse, but when mentioning areas with financial supporters, I forgot to mention that we get financial support from a couple of supporters in Australia and one from Trinidad & Tobago. Anyway, the sermon was still made, despite how I physically felt.
One comment to make in today’s Letter to the Brethren is that we have been the fastest growing Church of God in the 21st century.
To put this in more of a historical perspective, notice something that late Pastor General of the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, wrote last century:
THE WORK of God, which the Church had been added to back up and assist, was started by myself, with only my wife as full time assistant. I started the radio broadcasting program in January, 1934, and The Plain Truth, in February, 1934. The Good News, as the organ for our members, had started earlier in 1933.
The Work GREW. God continued to ADD to His Church such as HE called to back up the GREAT COMMISSION, and to develop the godly, holy and righteous CHARACTER to qualify them to be made kings and priests UNDER CHRIST after His return to earth as KING of Kings at the beginning of the millenial rule.
For 35 years the WORK OF GOD grew steadily at the rate of approximately 30 percent a year. I do not know of any organization, secular or of God, that has shown so remarkable growth, starting from NOTHING financially (though we started with something greater — FAITH in the living Christ HEAD of the Church and the WORK). This Work was built literally on FAITH. The living Christ blessed it richly, even though there was carnal opposition and persecution from the beginning.
Read carefully now. As the Work grew, so did the human organization to work UNDER me in getting God’s Work done. Then, after this 35-year unmatched GROWTH with God’s blessing, I made a basic mistake, which I did not then realize was contrary to GOD’S form of organization. It was a detail that NONE in the Church realized was unscriptural.
It happened this way: As the work continued growing and growing, especially after the foundation of Ambassador College, my younger son, Garner Ted, had become converted. Mr. Roderick C. Meredith had entered Ambassador College as a student beginning its third year, fall of 1949. He was developing as a leader under me. He saw the rapid strides my son Garner Ted was making at the time, spiritually. My elder son, Richard D. (Dick), was growing spiritually too, but at a slower more steady rate.
Mr. Meredith began to urge me to make Garner Ted vice president under me, in the Work. I thought it a good suggestion. …
But I made the mistake, unrealizing that mistake, of allowing an office of authority to be injected BETWEEN ME AND THE MINISTRY AND CHURCH!
For the first 35 years of this Work, I was the sole human in supreme command, UNDER CHRIST. There was opposition and persecution — from without — but THERE WAS NO QUESTION OF WHO WAS IN CHARGE! During those 35 years the Church and the Work GREW AND GREW AND GREW! It had Christ’s BLESSING!
I knew that GOD’S FORM OF ORGANIZATION IS FROM THE TOP DOWN. I DID NOT REALIZE that allowing an office of authority to be interjected BETWEEN me and the Church was contrary to God’s form of human organization.
WHAT RESULTED? Great confusion grew in the Church — especially in and around headquarters. “WHO IS REALLY IN AUTHORITY?” many wondered, perplexed. The Work STOPPED GROWING. (Christ Puts Church On Bible Form Of Organization. Good News, June 5, 1978)
The Continuing Church of God started out actually smaller than what became the old Radio Church of God–but became much larger than it did after five years. The Continuing Church of God has averaged more than the 30% growth per year that Herbert Armstrong thought reflected God’s blessings. This has been unmatched by any Church of God group this century. We also have not compromised on church governance as other Church of God groups have (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government), taught the truth, and strove to have the priorities that Philadelphian Christians should have. The fruits of the work have confirmed this.
Bible News Prophecy Magazine
We have been in the process of sending out the January-March 2018 edition of Bible News Prophecy magazine.
Those we had printed in the USA have been mailed to our English-speaking subscribers throughout the world, with the exception of Kenya and Tanzania. Evangelist Evans Ochieng gets those ones printed and distributed from Nairobi, Kenya to save costs.
We sent out magazines to those to English-reading subscribers outside the USA last Friday and mailed to those in the USA this week.
Here is a link to the January-March 2018 edition of Bible News Prophecy magazine.
Updated Announcement: Calendar Year-End Income Tax Matters
Again as a reminder, we are getting close to the end of the calendar year. Those who live in the United States, to have their contributions eligible for tax deduction for calendar year 2017, need to send mail donations no later than December 31, 2017. Those who physically mail donations must be postmarked by December 31, 2017 to be eligible for deductibility for 2017.
Because of changes in US tax law, ‘middle class income’ people may find that sending contributions for 2017 will help their tax situation much more than by waiting until 2018.
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 2017, they likely also need to be made before the end of the calendar year.
(In New Zealand, they use a March 31st date.)
World News Items
The Germans and the Swiss are getting involved in constructing a railroad line that can go from the west coast of Peru through Bolivia through the east coast of Brazil (see Switzerland and Germany working on a South American transcontinental railroad). This looks to have positive effects on the economies of several South American nations. China and Europe are also expected to benefit. This is expected to be a major project in the Western Hemisphere without USA involvement.
A study came out Tuesday projecting India to bypass the United Kingdom to become the world’s fifth largest economy. It also projected that China would pass the USA by 2032 (see India poised to pass UK economy post Brexit, but technology will be dominated by Europe). The same report sees Asia rising and Europe dropping–yet biblical prophecy shows that Europe will dominate the world economy during the time of the Gentiles, though Asia would also expect to benefit from trading with Europe (cf. Revelation 18).
Over in the Philippines, over 100 were killed from what became known as Typhoon Tembin (see Typhoon Tembin kills at least 120). Those still affected by that storm are in my prayers.
Over in California, sales of recreational marijuana is set to become legal next Monday–this will have negative health implications (see Marijuana: Selling out of health in California).
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:
- 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one: Might German refugee facilities house American & British slaves? Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
- Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
- Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: CCOG’s Five Years of Listening to God. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
- Final hymn.
- Closing prayer.
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 new Bible News Prophecy online radio channel. IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE BibleNewsProphecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.
Next week, the world will celebrate its ‘new year.’ The Bible records that God spoke the following:
2 This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:2)
The month that the Bible calls Nisan (Ester 3:7) or Abib (Exodus 13:14).
This month begins in March or April on the Roman calendar.
In 2018, God’s new year begins after sunset on March 16th.
God’s calendar tells us when His Holy Days are. Here is a link that shows them from 2013 to 2024: Holy Day Calendar.
Keep God’s Holy Days, not pagan holidays.
For more on the pagan origins of January 1st, check out our booklet: Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?
Pastor and Overseer