Letter to the Brethren: June 29, 2023

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities Region of California.


(Pixabay photo)

There is a lot of bad news in the world.

But Christians should have hope.

The Good News magazine of the old Worldwide Church of God had the following in its October-November 1984 edition:

What the World Needs Now Is Hope

Often underemphasized in the lives of many, hope is a tremendous spiritual gift at work in all who will be in God’s coming Kingdom.

The Bible speaks of three great fruits of God’s Holy Spirit: faith, hope and love (I Corinthians 13:13). Most Christians readily and easily understand that love, called the greatest of these gifts, and faith are essential for salvation.

But what about hope? What is hope, even?

Given equal rank with love and faith, hope stands as one of the most important spiritual gifts, to be sought after and exercised by every one of God’s people.

What is hope?

Let’s understand first what hope is not. It is not watered down faith.

In everyday conversation, people often say hope when they mean wish. “Let’s hope it all works out for the best” sometimes means the person is afraid it won’t! Hoping is not wishing. Hope is confident, powerful, bold. Hope is not afraid. Hope casts out fear and doubt.

To hope means to look forward to with confidence of fulfillment, to expect with desire.

There is nothing weak in true Christian hope. It is positive, assured, looking ahead to the future. Hope lifts a person’s thoughts beyond the immediate trials and problems of the present. Hope sees God’s plan at work — God producing His character in us, by what we experience, to qualify us for eternal life.

A Christian filled with hope has zeal and purpose. He is alive with spiritual energy to keep overcoming and growing no matter what negative factors and influences are at work to discourage and frustrate his progress toward God’s Kingdom. Paul goes so far as to say, “For we are saved by hope” (Romans 8:24, Authorized Version)!

Hope makes the difference

Every Christian fights a daily and lifelong spiritual battle against sin. Even the apostle Paul, a deeply converted Christian, was frustrated by his own personal failure to measure up to the goal of spiritual perfection that is in Jesus Christ.

Paul cried out, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (verse 18).

Certainly you, too, have been overwhelmed at times by physical pulls, thoughts and attitudes you knew were contrary to God’s perfect” law of love. Yet you were unable to resist their power. You may even have feared losing salvation because of your inability to root sin completely from your life. The thought of sin is abhorrent, but its pull on our flesh is strong.

All Christians might well echo Paul’s insightful words: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin” (verse 14).

As long as we live, the battle against sin rages. It is our mortal enemy. Toward the end of his long life and ministry, the apostle John instructed, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (l John 1:8).

Since no Christian, apart from Jesus Christ, God’s own Son in the flesh, ever fully conquered sin, what separates those who qualify for eternal life from those who do not?

God led Paul to describe the problems common to all Christians. He also inspired Paul to reveal the way out of them. We are to undergo a transformation of character by the power of God’s Holy Spirit working within our minds.

A Christian must completely repent of past sins, surrender to God, be baptized in water and by the laying on of hands by God’s true ministers receive the Holy Spirit.

Once begotten by God’s Spirit, the Christian begins a life dedicated to growth and overcoming, developing God’s character. Here lies our hope for the future. Paul tells us, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). This is God’s promise to us!

God the Father places His Holy Spirit in the mind of each newly converted believer to grant him power over sin, in order that He may develop His own character in us. Jesus Christ, our Savior, paid the penalty of death because of sin for us so we might be born into the God Family and receive everlasting life at His Second Coming (Romans 6:23).

This is the very purpose for our being alive, and the foundation of our hope for the future! “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). No Christian is yet born into God’s Family, but is an heir, an inheritor of the promise. True Christians are part of the firstfruits of God’s Family, to be born when Jesus Christ returns.

What will it take for you to be a part of this glorious future hope? More, perhaps, than anything else the realization that God earnestly intends and desires that you be in His Kingdom. God wants it for you (I Peter 1:3-5)!

Hopelessness and fear

Many of God’s people, though they realize God’s Kingdom will be set up on earth and even desire to be a part of it, nevertheless despair of receiving eternal life. They are overcome by fear and self-doubt.

These hopeless attitudes come from Satan and his demons, who know the Kingdom is coming and have no hope. For them Jesus Christ’s return will be a time of judgment for their sins of rebellion. James writes: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!” (James 2:19).

The nature of Satan and the demons is set. They will not change and submit to God’s direction in their lives. They are archenemies and rebels. On the other hand, human beings, caught by sin because of weakness or ignorance, have hope.

Some of those listening to Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost had called out just short weeks before for the death of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind. When convicted of their sin, they cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They were afraid and hopeless. Then Peter preached hope through the repentance of sins and the mercy of God (verses 38-40):

 God created all people to qualify for His Family (I Timothy 2:4). When a person who is given this opportunity by God’s calling fails to act on this hope, he becomes like the individual described in the parable of the talents, who refused to produce with the one talent given to him. In an attempt to justify his failure, he replied, “And I was afraid” (Matthew 25:25). He possessed no vision for the future. He lost out.

No matter what the obstacles, the apostle Paul was not afraid. He well understood it was God’s will that he be in the Kingdom, and he always had his mind on that goal: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).

For nearly 6,000 years God the Father and Jesus Christ have endured the sins and rebellion of mankind against God’s government and way of life. Soon God’s deliverance to this earth will come. As Romans 8:21 predicts, “Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Paul concludes the powerfully written Romans 8, which might well be called the “hope chapter” of the Bible (just as I Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the “love chapter” and Hebrews 11 as the ” faith chapter”), with this: ” For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

How does hope grow?

Like all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, hope is a gift from God that increases directly as a Christian dedicates his life to God. By a life of prayer, diligent study of God’s Word and living always with eyes set on the goal of God’s Kingdom first and foremost, hope will grow.

The apostle John describes what knowing our future should do to inspire us to overcome: “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (I John 3:2-3).

The time is drawing near for the return of Jesus Christ, when the parable of the talents will have an actual fulfillment. May we all set our sights clearly on the Kingdom and be among those to whom our Lord says: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21).

The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through Whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we ourselves boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also boast in tribulations, realizing that tribulation brings forth endurance, 4 And endurance brings forth character, and character brings forth hope. 5 And the hope of God never makes us ashamed because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, which has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5, AFV)

5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:5-6, NKJV throughout unless otherwise specified)

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)

So, yes, the Apostle Paul frequently tied faith and love in with hope.

Christians are supposed to have hope. The NKJV has the word “hope” 68 times in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul mentioned hope 6 times in the following:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:18-25)

Christians most certainly are to endure. As Jesus said:

22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

Yes, we should expect difficulties. But Christians are to endure and have hope.

Jesus taught not to worry:

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)

The great hope for humanity is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.

For a Christian, facing the reality that this life is temporal and that we have the hope of the resurrection and Jesus’ return should comfort us:

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

The time coming will be fantastic. We can have hope and comfort other believers.

How fantastic will the time coming be?

The Apostle John was inspired to record:

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

The Apostle Paul reported that it was so fantastic, it was somewhat indescribable:

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

9 But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:7-12)

Yes, it will be beyond normal comprehension.

Now, perhaps it should be pointed out that God’s plan is actually a mystery to almost everyone–irrespective of the religions they do or do not follow.

We produced a book on that. Here is a link to our free online book: The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why did God make you?

Yes, Christians have, and should realize that they have, real hope. This also works with faith and helps us share the love of God.

Related to this, the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) put together the following related video on our Bible News Prophecy YouTube channel:


The New Testament teaches that Christians are to have hope. What are ways to be more hopeful? Pocket, a secular source, recommended an article about that. In this video, Dr. Thiel goes over many points of that article and ties them into numerous scriptures that teach about hope. Dr. Thiel also notes that multiple times, the Apostle Paul taught about faith, love, and hope together. Dr. Thiel also quotes Jesus related to not worrying and seeking first the Kingdom of God. Furthermore, he refers to mysteries of God’s plan that most do not understand. He also reads what the Bible promises will occur in the new earth.

Here is a link to our sermonette video: How to Be More Hopeful.

Bible News Prophecy Magazine

We were able to mail out the July-September 2023 edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine to our international and USA subscribers.

Here is a link to it online: Bible News Prophecy July-September 2023 edition. Note: there was a change with graphics personnel and the content’s page in the printed version has page number errors–sorry this was missed. It has since been corrected in the online version. There were also other formatting and other issues we hope will not be repeated in the future. Sorry about that.

That said, Amazon Kindle (the actual printer) will no longer send magazines to New Zealand like in the past. We are unaware if this is a permanent or again, a temporary, problem. If temporary, we will ignore it. If permanent, there are some other steps we may be able to take–such as trying to get them from Australia in the future (which might work).

Africa Matters

We had some who had heard rumors and misinformation that recently left the CCOG, come back and return in some parts of Africa.

Joel Owuoti and Grantone Otieno visited those in Gribe who returned. Here is a photo I received last evening:

While there are still issues in parts of Africa, it is good that some who were misled have come back (cf. Galatians 6:1).

Suggested Sabbath Day Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

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.

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. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.

World News Items

Moral decline is continuing around the world and love of others is waxing colder. Some seem, for example, to celebrate the deaths of those recently killed in a submarine near the wreckage of the Titanic because of their wealth, politics, and/or race (see ‘Something is very wrong with us’). That should not be done–but was expected according to Jesus (cf. Matthew 24:12).

We continue to see steps that are consistent with biblical prophecies (e.g. ‘Emmanuel Macron Wants to Inflict Global Tax;’ Could it be Daniel 11:21 related?), particularly related to totalitarian steps that we expect will be exploited (and made worse) by the coming European Beast power (e.g., see Globalist signs? Orwellian takeover of U.S.?).

The European Union announced it is moving forward toward having some type of “digital euro” (see  ‘EU proposes giving legal backing to digital euro’). Such an instrument could facilitate the ‘666’ buying and selling prophecies found in Revelation 13:16-18.

Concluding Comments

Notice some words of the 46th Psalm:

1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-7)

Brethren, despite difficulties, remember that God is our refuge and strength, and a help in times of trouble. And that our most powerful God is always with us.


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.