Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
After thinking about last week’s letter, I noticed that while I mentioned some CCOG items in many parts of the world, there was not a major mention of Asia. So, today I will try to give an update related to that part of the world, after mentioning an upcoming trip.
Santa Fe, New Mexico: April 25, 2015
As it turns out, my wife Joyce and I plan to be in Santa Fe, New Mexico that Sabbath of April 25, 2015.
If you are interested in possibly meeting with us for a Sabbath service in Santa Fe, please email me when you can: email@example.com so that we can give you particulars of where we would meet (that has not yet been determined, but probably will be at a hotel–which has not yet been booked). We look forward to meeting interested people who can attend.
In the past we have been contacted by two groups of about 30 each in India.
One group contacted us just twice–once around December 2012 and the other time around December of 2014. I asked them for more information in my last response to them and have not heard back. This group seems to not have a pastor in charge of it.
The other group has its own pastor. He contacts us regularly. He agreed to translate some materials for us into the language of Telugu a couple of years ago. He made an attempt at it, but was unable to put it in an electronic format.
He contacted me again a few days ago, and would like to try to translate our magazine. So, I sent him a draft of the next edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine, and I await his translation. It would be great to get materials into any of the local languages in India. Telugu is spoken by about 75,000,000 people.
A pastor named Lazum Brang has regularly written me from Kachinland. Kachiniland is considered a provine in Burman/Myan Mar, that would like to be independent.
In his latest letter, he asked me to:
“Please give our warmest greetings to our American church brethren and sisters. We all have a very, very short time to proclaim the plan of God’s true salvation for all mankind.”
His letter mentions that there have been Sabbath-keepers in Kachinland since 1964. His group, as well as the second Indian group mentioned earlier, are not part of the Continuing Church of God, but make regular contact with us.
We have sent some literature to those groups.
We have a small family congregation in the Philippines, in the area of Silay City. We also may have a couple of other scattered supporters in that nation. We send some literature there, and have held two video Feast of Tabernacles in Silay City.
Despite the fact that we have some materials in the Tagalog language, we have not reached the Philippines nearly as well as I pray that we will. Some day, perhaps as we get more materials translated into Tagalog and/or when God opens the minds of many there, this will change. I believe that if those in the Philippines knew the truth about the Continuing Church of God that more people with a COG background would support us.
We have one member in China, and possibly one or two prospective members there at this time.
Despite the small presence, we actually get a lot of materials to China via the internet. People from China are the number two nation for visiting our website (those in the USA are number one).
We have been one of the most successful COGs reaching China, but I want to reach more. We have some materials translated into Mandarin Chinese, and I believe if we get more that over time, we will better reach the Chinese with the gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14).
Other Parts of Asia
While we reach the Middle East and other parts of Asia radio over the radio and on the internet, we do not have much of a physical presence in the nations there.
We have had some inquiries from Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam (where we mail a magazine), and elsewhere in those regions.
While many Russians consider themselves as Europeans, most of the territory in Russia is in Asia. Although we do not have members in Russia, Russians are in the top ten nations of people who visit our websites. Because of Ukraine, Crimea, and the Eurasian Union, Russia has been in the news a lot in the past year or so. Since we cover news at the Church of God News page (part of the www.cogwriter.com website), articles covered there has caught the attention of more people in Russia.
We also do have some limited materials in Korean and have reached people in both North and South Korea over the internet. Our statistics show that we have apparently reached all the nations in Asia, including those in the Middle East and Near East, over the internet. Most nations have also viewed one or more of our YouTube sermon and/or sermonette videos.We are reaching Asia and the rest of the world, and once they have reached them to God’s satisfaction, then the end will come per Matthew 24:14.
World News Events
The Europeans have been taking steps to attempt to eliminate terror attacks (see Belgium and France detain suspected terrorists and Belgium deploys hundreds of troops; Islam has a problem). More terror attacks, however, will hit Europe. The time will come when Islam is basically gone from Europe. But we are not there yet.
What is happening is that the Europeans are looking to build relations to make some type of arrangements with countries that the Bible identifies with the final King of the South (see EU and Arab League make a deal–prelude to Psalm 83:8, Daniel 9:27, and Daniel 11:27?). I have been writing for some time that threats from Islamic terrorists would likely be factors for countries in the West to support the formation of the King of the South of Daniel 11:40-43. The agreement/statements made this week between the European Union, Turkey, and the Arab League are consistent with that.
Leaders from Germany and France have gotten an agreement between Russia and Ukraine to reduce some of the hostilities there, yet hostilities remain. Russia is looking to expand its territory, and in addition to parts of Ukraine is also looking at South Ossetia (see EU and Russia announce Ukrainian deal, while Russia looks at absorbing South Ossetia). The ‘kings of the Medes’ are prophesied to get together (Jeremiah 51:11) and some steps to help make that happen seem to be in the news.
The top leaders of the USA and UK met late last week and discussed terrorism as well as spying on their citizens (see Cameron pushing Obama to increase government spying via Google & Facebook). The USA and UK often work together on these matters, and this has tended to distance them from the continental Europeans who have publicly resented the espionage from the USA and UK in their lands.
Pope Francis is believed to have set a record attendance to any papal gathering in the Philippines last Sunday (see Pope Francis speaks before record crowd in Philippines–where is this leading?). More and more are praising him and his role as a ‘peacemaker’ (see Mainstream looking to Pope Francis as peacemaker). I consider Pope Francis one who looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon (Revelation 13:11). It is NOT that Pope Francis must be the final two-horned Beast of Revelation 13, but he certainly acts like one with that potential, even if he may be setting the stage for someone else to be that leader.
Pope Francis spoke before a delegation of Catholics and Lutherans from Finland today in honor of a Catholic and Finnish saint named Henry. Pope Francis encouraged and promoted ecumenical cooperation between Catholics and Lutherans (see Pope Francis addresses ecumenical delegation from Finland related to ‘saint Henry’). Such unity will come, but it is not the type of unity that those who believe the Bible would endorse.
There was a news report that viscous tapeworms, that often come from pork, are increasingly invading human brains worldwide (see CNN: Viscious pork tapeworms invading human brains worldwide). Of course, the Bible warns against humans consuming pork and this would simply not be much of an issue if people would heed biblical instructions (Leviticus 11:7-8; Deuteronomy 14:8).
There was a news report where a Protestant who claimed to go to heaven and return recanted his false testimony (see Heaven visitor’ admits his account was malarkey). His previously claimed ‘true story’ became a best-seller. Of course, Jesus said that no one had ascended to heaven either than Himself (John 3:12-13) and no early Christian believed that Christians went to heaven upon death (see Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?). However, since most Protestant have other views now, many were susceptible to the false account. Anyway, it is good that the person who made the false claim has finally admitted that he lied and the account was false.
Odd Criticisms and the History of Binitarianism
Last week, I mentioned that Pastor Evans Ochieng and I received a lot of improper criticisms this month. Some complain about our size, our teachings, and our personal histories. It is bizarre that there are so many ‘accusers of the brethren’ who spread false and misleading information.
There is one false claim that I thought you all might be interested in.
An Australian-based unitarian (who also used filthy language) asserted that Pastor Evans Ochieng and I were teaching the ‘heresy’ of binitarianism. This ill-informed Australian falsely claimed that binitarianism entered the Christian church as a heresy in 175 A.D.
Although this individual has written papers about binitarianism and unitarianism, for some reason he has overlooked not only what the Bible teaches, but what early writer that professed Christianity actually wrote (for some references see Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).
Looking through second century literature, it is clear that in the early second century, Church of God leader such as Ignatius, Polycarp, and Melito held a binitarian view of the Godhead as did leaders associated with the Greco-Romans, such as Justin (Martyr) and Irenaeus (who claimed to have known Polycarp). Other than Irenaeus, all the leaders I have mentioned wrote and died prior to 175 A.D.
I should perhaps also add that what has been called the “oldest Christian sermon” that has been found outside of the Bible, apparently dating from the first century, also teaches binitarianism. Binitarianism is not a heresy and was prevalent in the true Church of God from the beginning and throughout history (see also Continuing History of the Church of God).
As a reminder, the ‘binitarian view’ of the Godhead is that the Father is God, the Son is God, but that the Holy Spirit is the power of God.
One of the reasons it is important to know the truth about church history is so that we will not be affected by those who make false assertions about it. Furthermore, false assertions are not limited to those of the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches, but also are sometimes made by people who claim to be in the true Church of God. Most who claim to be in the true Christian church (see Where is the True Christian Church Today?), do not really understand a lot of the truth about church history.
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services 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 emailed-letter will be a recorded one: Pope Francis and the Famine of the Word. A related written article is: Pope Francis pushing for limits of speech and seemingly justifies violence. Other sermonettes are also 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 emailed-letter will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Crime and How it Will be Stopped! A related written article is also titled: Crime can be stopped…here’s how! 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 that we list each week.
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 Bible News Prophecy channel.
The Apostle Peter was inspired to write:
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11)
Brethren, we do need to be diligent as we face the various tests and trials of life. Satan and his ministers wish to attack and devour all of us. But remember, God cares for you. Brethren, you are in my prayers.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God