Monthly letter archive

Monthly Letter, December 2012

Restoring Original Christianity—for Today!

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442
Hollister, California 95024-1442

Fred R. Coulter,

December 18, 2012

Dear Brethren,

According to the Roman Civil Calendar, the year 2012 is ending and 2013 will soon begin. In the world, many have been greatly concerned about the so-called Mayanprophecy, which predicts that the world will come to a cataclysmic end on December 21, 2012. This date is based on the fact that the Mayan calendar abruptly ends at the winter solstice. However, we who follow God's Word can be assured that this prediction is a false prophecy of an idolatrous, pagan religion. Anciently, the true God of the Scriptures destroyed their satanic civilization—and He will continue to reckon time according to His timetable.

Many of us who have been in the Church of God for decades once believed that Jesus would have already returned by now and that we would be in the Kingdom of God, ruling with Him. But just like the Mayan prophecy will fail, every attempt by men to calculate or set exact dates for the return of Christ has failed. Of all the dates that ministers or self-styled prophets have presumed to be the day of Jesus' second coming, it is obvious that not one has been correct. In fact, such predictions have been completely out of sync with God's actual timetable. While the Bible gives us the overall structure of the major events to happen in prophecy—based on the Sabbath and holy days—we must not forget what Jesus Himself told us about His return: "But concerning that day, and the hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matt. 24:36).

Forty days after His resurrection—after teaching the disciples more about the kingdom and as He was about to ascend into heaven—Christ's disciples asked Him, " 'Lord, will You restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?' And He said to them, 'It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has placed in His own authority; but you yourselves shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth' " (Acts 1:6-8). This confirms that the Father has sole authority in determining the exact time of Jesus' return.

We Must Watch EventsNot Specific Dates: According to biblical prophecies of the end times, certain specific events must take place before Jesus' return. This is why Jesus told us to "watch"—watch events, not set dates. There are fourteen major events that must take place before Jesus' second coming.These are detailed in a 2008 sermon entitled14 Things to Happen in Prophecy Before the End Comes (you may download this sermon from In this letter, I will focus on five of those key events—events that must transpire before the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Keep in mind that many of the "lesser" events that we are witnessing today are setting the stage for the fulfillment of these 14 key events.

First:The King of the North must be ruling in Europe. The fulfillment of this event is not yet on the horizon. Europe is in political and financial disarray—and has little military power. Religiously, the Catholic Church is at its lowest level of influence in modern history. It will take a number of years for things to develop to the point that the King of the North comes on the scene.

Second:The King of the South must be in power in the Islamic countries of the Middle East. The pandemic turmoil that is currently taking place throughout the Muslim world is undoubtedly laying the foundation for the King of the South to arise to a position of power and become a threat to the King of the North. Given the condition of the Islamic nations today, this will also take a number of years to develop in order to fulfill specific prophecies in the book of Daniel: "And at the time of the end, the king of the south shall push at him. And the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries and shall overflow and sweep through. He shall also enter into the glorious land [Palestine], and many countries shall be overthrown. But these shall escape out of his hand: Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. And he shall stretch out his hand also upon the countries. And the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt. And the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps" (Dan. 11:40-43).

Third: Before these events can take place, the Jews must build the third Temple in Jerusalem. "Then the angel gave me a measuring rod like a staff, saying, 'Arise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. But leave out the court that is within the temple area, and do not measure it because it has been given up to the Gentiles; and they shall trample upon the holy city for forty-two months' " (Rev. 11:1-2).

Fourth: The Two Witnesses must come on the scene. "And I will give power to My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two lampstands that stand before the God of the earth" (Rev. 11:1-4). The Two Witnesses will not come from any of the churches of God. Rather, one will be the governor of Judea and the other will be the High Priest of the coming Temple, as found in Zechariah 3 and 4.

Fifth:A final Elijah must yet come. At about the same time the Two Witnesses appear, a third and final Elijah is also prophesied to come on the scene. The prophet Elijah (the Tishbite) was the first Elijah (I Kings 17-22; II Kings 1-10). John the Baptist was the second Elijah.

When the angel Gabriel announced to Zacharias that his wife Elizabeth would bear him a son, he prophesied this about John the Baptist: "For he shall be great before the Lord. And he shall never drink wine or strong drink in any form, but he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:15-17).

There are two prophecies concerning John the Baptist in the Old Testament. The first one is from Isaiah: "A voice is calling out in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God' " (Isa. 40:3). The second one is recorded in the book of Malachi: " 'Behold, I will send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, Whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in Whom you delight. Behold, He comes,' says the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 3:1).

After John the Baptist was circumcised and named John, his father Zacharias prophesied this about his son: "And you, little child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest; for you shall go before the face of the Lord, to prepare His ways; to give the knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the deep inner compassions of our God; in which the dayspring from on high has visited us, to shine upon those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:76-79).

Although John was described by Gabriel as one coming "in the spirit and power of Elijah," John did not describe himself in that way. When the Jewish leaders asked John who he was, he did not declare himself to be Elijah. Notice his answer: "And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?' Then he freely admitted, and did not deny, but declared, 'I am not the Christ.' And they asked him, 'Then who are you? Are you Elijah?' And he said, 'I am not.' Then they asked, 'Are you the Prophet?' And he answered, 'No.' Therefore, they said to him, 'Who are you? What do you say about yourself so that we may give an answer to those who sent us?' He said, 'I am a voice crying in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord," as Isaiah the prophet said.' Now those who had been sent belonged to the sect of the Pharisees…" (John 1:19-24).

It is interesting that John did not identify himself with the prophecies of Malachi 3. Rather, he designated himself as "a voice crying in the wilderness" from Isaiah's prophecy. Why was this? It can only mean that there is a third Elijah to come just before Christ's return.

Jesus Himself prophesied of the third Elijah. After Peter, James and John had seen the vision of Jesus' transfiguration, which included a vision of Moses and the first Elijah, Jesus announced to them that John the Baptist was an Elijah and that there wasyet another Elijah tocome. The disciples, however, did not understand because Jesus was speaking of an Elijah who "shall come" before His second coming—about which they knew nothing. Notice: "Now as they were descending from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, 'Tell the vision to no one until the Son of man has risen from the dead.' Then His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?' And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Elijah shall indeed come first and restore all things [a future, third Elijah]. But I tell you that Elijah has already come [John the Baptist—the second Elijah], and they did not recognize him; but they did to him whatever they desired" (Matt. 17:9-12).

It is important to realize that when Jesus said these things to the three disciples, John the Baptist—the second Elijah—had already been dead for some time. Prior to the vision of the transfiguration, it is recorded in Mark 6:17-28 that Herod the Tetrarch had beheaded John. This means that Jesus was indeed declaring that a third Elijah was yet to come. Thus, Jesus was confirming the prophecy of a third Elijah as found in the book of Malachi—one who is yet to appear before Jesus' second coming. " 'For behold, the day is coming, burning like a consuming oven; and all the proud, and every doer of wickedness, shall be stubble. And the day that comes shall burn them up,' says the Lord of hosts, 'and will leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise [this is the sign of the Son of Man that appears like a sun at the beginning of His second coming—Matt. 24:27-30], and healing will be in His wings. And you shall go out and grow up like calves of the stall. And you shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I am preparing,' says the Lord of hosts.

" 'Remember the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord [Jesus' second coming, not His first]. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with utter destruction' " (Mal. 4:1-6). This has to be the third Elijah who is yet to come—just as declared by Jesus: "Elijah shall come."

Decades ago, a leading minister in a church of God was declared to be the third Elijah. This, however, has proven to be false. This individual has been dead for 26 years, and is thus too far removed from the end time to have had any role in preparing the way for Christ's return.

No one knows who the third Elijah will be. But, most assuredly, he will not come from a church of God. Rather, it is likely that he will be a descendant of the house of Aaron—of the priestly line, as was John the Baptist—and will minister to Jews in Palestine who repent because of the powerful work of the Two Witnesses (see Zechariah 12:7-14).

While we cannot know the exact date, as Jesus said, we need to be watching for these prophesied events to unfold. This is why Jesus admonished us: "Take heed, be watching and praying. For you do not know when the time is coming. Itis like a man journeying to a far country, leaving his house and giving authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and commanding the doorkeeper to watch. Be watching, therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming: at evening, or at midnight, or at the cock's crowing, or in the morning; lest he come suddenly and find you sleeping.And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:33-37).

As recorded in the book of Luke, Jesus also told us to watch so that we are not caught up in the affairs of this world and preoccupied with the cares and troubles of this life: "Then He spoke a parable to them: 'Observe the fig tree, and all the trees. When they have already begun to bud, and you look at them, you yourselves know that summer is near. In the same way also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that the kingdom of God is near

" 'Truly I say to you, there is no way that this generation shall pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away. Watch yourselves, lest your hearts be preoccupied with high living and drinking and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly. For as a snare it shall come upon all those who dwell on the face of the earth. Watch therefore, and pray at all times that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:29-36).

Being Perfected in the Love of God: We know God the Father and Jesus Christ love us. But we cannot take that love for granted and focus on the physical things of this life and neglect our love for God. In fact, the best way to be watching our spiritual life and strengthening our relationship with God and Christ is to grow in the love of God. This is the greatest thing we can do, and this is why it is the greatest commandment of all. As Jesus said, "The first of all the commandments is, 'Hear, O Israel. Our one God is the Lord, the Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment" (Mark 12:29-30).

Remember, growing in the love of God is a process based on our daily relationship, or fellowship, with God the Father and Jesus Christ through prayer and study. The apostle John wrote his first epistle when there was great turmoil in the churches and in the world, much like it is today. Therefore, we can learn a great deal from John's writings about how we need to live our lives in these times of trouble. We need to devote ourselves to prayer and study and focus on the love of God—God's love for us and our love for God. "[I]f anyone is keeping His Word, truly in this one the love of God is being perfected…" (I John 2:5).

John writes on how we are in the love of God and have His love perfected in us. "In this way the love of God was manifested toward us: that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this act is the lovenot that we loved God; rather, that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also are duty-bound to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. Yet, if we love one another, God dwells in us, and His own love is perfected in us.

"By this standard we know that we are dwelling in Him, and He is dwelling in us: because of His own Spirit, which He has given to us…. And we have known and have believed the love that God has toward us. God is love, and the one who dwells in love is dwelling in God, and God in him. By this spiritual indwelling, the love of God is perfected within us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment because even as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in the love of God; rather, perfect love casts out fear because fear has torment…" (I John 4:10-13; 16-18).

The apostle Paul brings out that the love of God is combined with the faith and the grace of God. These are spiritual gifts that empower us to develop godly character through the love of God. He writes, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. And not only this, but we also boast in tribulations, realizing that tribulation brings forth endurance, and endurance brings forth character, and character brings forth hope. 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" (Rom. 5:1-5).

Jude, the half-brother of Christ, wrote that there were ungodly men who were subverting the grace of God. They were stealthy infiltrators who were attempting to destroy the church from the inside. He exhorted the brethren to stand strong for the faith and keep themselves in the love of God: "Beloved, when personally exerting all my diligence to write to you concerning the common salvation, I was compelled to write to you, exhorting you to ferventlyfight for the faith, which once for all time has been delivered to the saints. For certain men have stealthily crept in, those who long ago have been written about, condemning them to thisjudgment. They are ungodly men, who are perverting the grace of our God, turning it into licentiousness, and are personally denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ…. But you, beloved, be building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, so that you keep yourselves in the love of God…" (Jude 3-4, 20-21).

It is evident that just as the early church faced great spiritual challenges, we are likewise confronted with various trials. However, in the New Testament God has provided written accounts of their experiences in order to help us have the spiritual strength to continue to grow in grace and knowledge and to develop a stronger love for God.

Feast Report from New Zealand:

In our November letter, we missed including the Feast of Tabernacles report from the brethren in New Zealand. We are sorry it is a month late, but better late than never.

Waihi Beach, New Zealand

Greetings from picturesque Waihi Beach, where about 20 CBCG members from around New Zealand met for the Feast on the northeast coast of the North Island. Being a small group, brethren were able to stay either on the grounds of the Waihi Christian Camp or close by, which afforded plenty of opportunities for fellowship. A special visit to a local maritime museum and a river trip on an old paddleboat were highlights of our Feast activities.

In addition to Fred's sermons, Elder Lyall Johnston gave several Bible studies, and three of the men presented a talk to the children each day. It was wonderful to watch the children enthusiastically responded to the lessons.

The group was pleased to formally recognize long-time church of God member Sylvia Nathan, who celebrated her 50th Feast this year. A special cake was presented to Mrs. Nathan in honor of the occasion, and we enjoyed listening to her accounts of her life in the early years of the church in New Zealand.

On the Last Great Day, Elder Lyall and the men who delivered messages to the children throughout the Feast conducted a special blessing of our children for the coming year. The blessing of the seven children was greatly valued, as evidenced by the tears streaming down the faces of the mothers as a special blessing of protection was asked for each child.

It can truly be said that with such rich spiritual food from Fred and God's abundant blessings through His Spirit over our learning, fellowship and activities, it was the best Feast ever!—Chris Gough

Church at Home Advertising Cards:

We appreciate the brethren who have busily passed out our Church at Home advertising cards. Brethren in many parts of the world are giving them to people, putting them on community bulletin boards, and leaving them in various public places. This is an effective grassroots way to advertise Church at Home and reach new people. A considerable number of people have written in expressing gratitude for discovering Church at Home through the cards. Thousands of cards are still available for those who want to get involved—we can send you as many as you can use!

Brethren, once again we thank God for the blessing of serving you so that you can continue to love God and to grow in grace and knowledge. Thank you for reaching out to other brethren and new people and directing them to Church at Home. Once again, thank you for your prayers for us and all the brethren. We pray for you daily—for your healing, for your protection and comfort, for you to grow in the love and grace of God, for you to love one another, and for God to be with you in everything and bless you in every way. Especially in these difficult economic times, we thank you for your tithes and offerings, which enable us to provide the Truth of God to everyone who asks without cost. God's method is perfect. We all give to serve others, who then reciprocate with their tithes and offerings. This is God's way. Remember, every day we are to stand in grace, walk in faith, believe in hope, and live in love.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter