Monthly letter archive

Monthly Letter, May 2013

Restoring Original Christianity—for Today!

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442
Hollister, California 95024-1442

Fred R. Coulter,

May 22, 2013

Dear Brethren,

As you will notice, the May letter is a bit later than usual—as this month has been extremely busy with Bible reading and recording, Church at Home video production, and the annual Elders' Conference. I left for the Conference on May 5 and returned on May 12—a total of 8 days. This required pushing the letter back to the third week of the month.

The Elders' Conference—held May 8-11 at the Greater Cincinnati Hilton in Florence, Kentucky—was a wonderful success. In addition to hosting the elders, the Conference included leading men from various parts of the United States. This year, all of our overseas office managers were able to attend—except for Helmut Burger, our office manager in South Africa, who was unable to attend due to unexpected circumstances.

With attendees from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it looked like the "Empire Strikes Back"—with Britain trying to reclaim her former colonies. We had some verbal jostling—all in good fun, as we are all brethren in Christ Jesus. David Obey, the Queen's representative from the UK, assured us that while the colonies were indeed free, we were to never forget that our ancestors "came from Britain." We were grateful for the timely reminder of our heritage. (On a similar note, we need to remember that it was William Tyndale, a Celt from Wales, who first translated the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into English. Tyndale accomplished this from 1526 to 1537—a 12-year period that changed Britain and the world forever.)

Those attending the Conference were:

1. Fred R. Coulter, Elder—California, USA  
2. Jim & Betty Hyles, Assistant to FRC—California, USA  
3. Marlin & Nancy Fannin, Elder—Ohio, USA 
4. Roger & Emy Kendall, Elder—Vermont, USA 
5. Roy & Manola Assanti, Elder, Office Manager—Australia; ordained at Conference 
6. Bob & Elaine Hunnicutt, Elder—Tennessee, USA 
7. Norbert & Denise Bohnert, Elder—Alberta, Canada 
8. Ernest & Jennie Watts, Elder—Idaho, USA (unable to attend) 
9. Eugene Palm, Elder—Ohio, USA  
10. Lyall Johnston, Elder—New Zealand 
11. Roger & Sherry Tointon, Elder—California, USA; ordained at Conference 
12. Duncan MacLeod, Elder, Office Manager—Brockville, Ontario, Canada 
13. Roy & Marie Mack, Elder—Ohio, USA  
14. David & Margaret Obey, Office Manager—United Kingdom  
15. Steve & Paula Gough, Office Manager—New Zealand 
16. David & Gail Lineberger, Deacon—North Carolina, USA; ordained at Conference 
17. Joe & Betty Chikar, Deacon—Indiana, USA  
18. Sylvia De Pendleton, Office Secretary—Brockville, Ontario, Canada 
19. Stan Timek, Deacon—Pennsylvania, USA 
20. Ben Ambrose—Georgia, USA  
21. Albert & Charlotte Jones—Michigan, USA 
22. Helmut Burger, Office Manager—South Africa (unable to attend) 
23. Ken & Rosa Pratt—Missouri, USA  
24. James Lloyd—Michigan, USA  
25. Guilebaldo Elizondo, Spanish Work—Texas, USA (unable to attend) 
26. Jim & Judie McCallum—Missouri, USA 
27. Russell & Laura Kemp—Tennessee, USA  
28. Steve & Terri Durham—Indiana, USA  
29. Richard Roberg, Deacon—Maine, USA  
30. Mike & Linda Dunn—Alaska, USA  
31. Tom & Rhonda Fannin, Deacon—Ohio, USA; ordained at Conference


On the evening of May 7, we had an elders' meeting. Then, on May 8 and 9, we had morning and afternoon sessions. Each Office Manager gave an update for their area, which included fellowship reports.

Later, Jim Hyles and Roger Kendall each gave a presentation on the importance of maintaining good health, with excellent information on how to avoid illness and utilize natural methods to overcome sickness and disease. Of course, such knowledge must be taken in hand with our understanding of anointing for healing. Much can be accomplished through medicinal herbs and good nutrition; after all, God has given us such herbs for our benefit (Psa. 104:14). Indeed, God does require that we exercise diligence in caring for our health, as our bodies are temples of the Spirit of God. However, such efforts cannot replace divine healing, which can only come from God: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psa. 103:1-4).

Next, we had a session on serving the brethren. We focused on Jesus' instructions to the apostle Peter that the true feeding of God's Flock is based on loving God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:20-23). Notice Jesus' personal, direct commands to Peter, which He gave in the presence of the other disciples as a lesson for them all: "This was now the third time that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after being raised from the dead. Therefore, when they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these?' And he said to Him, 'Yes, Lord. You know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Feed My lambs.'

"He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Yes, Lord. You know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Shepherd My sheep.' He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep' " (John 21:14-17).

The apostle Paul emphasized the same point to the elders of the Ephesian church in a special meeting with them just before he left for Jerusalem: "And now behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God, will see my face no more; wherefore I testify to you on this day that I am pure from the blood of all, for I have not held back from preaching to you all the counsel of God.

"Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this: that after my departure grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will rise up speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves. Watch, therefore, remembering that for three years I ceased not to admonish each one night and day with tears. And now I commit you, brethren, to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:25-32).

Later, when Paul was in prison, he wrote to the Ephesians to clearly define the purpose of the ministry. Ordained ministers and elders of God fulfill various roles in serving the Church. Indeed, the listing of ministerial functions in Ephesians 4 is not intended to establish a hierarchy ruling over the brethren. Rather, these are positions of service established by Jesus Christ to build up the brethren: "And He gave some as apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

"So that we no longer be children, tossed and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men in cunning craftiness, with a view to the systematizing of the error; but holding the truth in love, may in all things grow up into Him Who is the Head, even Christ, from Whom all the body, fitly framed and compacted together by that which every joint supplies, according to its inner working in the measure of each individual part, is making the increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:11-16).

This is how elders and ministers are to serve and build up the brethren. We are to feed the Flock of God, as led by the Holy Spirit. Thus, we are merely stewards of the Church of God, called to help the body of Christ develop as the living temple of God. Paul wrote: "So then, you are no longer aliens and foreigners; but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of the household of God. You are being built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone in Whom all the building, being conjointly fitted together, is increasing into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:19-22).

It is important to understand what Paul thought of himself and Apollos as they served the Church. As you will see, they did not exercise lordship over the brethren. Notice what Paul writes to the Corinthian church: "When someone says, 'I am of Paul,' and another one says, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not carnal? Who then is Paul? And who is Apollos? They are but ministers through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each one. I planted and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Therefore, neither is he who plants anything, nor he who waters; for it is God Who gives the increase.

"Now he who plants and he who waters are one, but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; and you are God's husbandry, even God's building. As a wise architect, according to the grace of God that was given to me, I have laid the foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one take heed how he builds upon it.

"For no one is able to lay any other foundation besides that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble, the work of each one shall be manifested; for the day of trial will declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall prove what kind of work each one's is. If the work that anyone has built endures, he shall receive a reward. If the work of anyone is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet as through fire. Don't you understand that you are God's temple, and that the Spirit of God is dwelling in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him because the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (I Cor. 3:4-17).

In agreement with Paul's teachings, Peter strongly admonishes elders against "ministerial hierarchies" designed to rule over brethren, treating them like they were personal possessions or merchandise. "The elders who are among you I exhort, even as a fellow elder, and an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory that is about to be revealed: feed the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight not by compulsion, but willingly; not in fondness of dishonest gain, but with an eager attitude; not as exercising lordship over your possessions; but by being examples to the flock of God. And when the Chief Shepherd is manifested, you shall receive an unfading, eternal crown of glory. In the same manner, you younger men be subject to the older men; and all of you be subject to one another, being clothed with humility because God sets Himself against the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Be humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt you in due time; casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you" (I Pet. 5:1-7).

Judging from Peter's writings, it is evident that he was committed to Jesus' command to "feed My lambs … shepherd My sheep … feed My sheep!"

How God Calls New People: In another Conference session, we went through the Scriptures to see how God calls people. In the "parable of the sower" (Matthew 13 and Mark 4), Jesus compared the preaching of the Gospel and the Word of God to the sowing of seed. As He brings out, some will hear, some will not. Those who do hear will begin to answer God's call. However, while many are called, few are chosen (Matt. 20:16; 22:14). Those chosen are the ones who repent and seek God and truly desire to obey Him (Isa. 55:6-9; Matt. 7:7-8). To know how people are responding to the preaching of the Gospel, God sends the seven spirits into all the world. The seven spirits are the eyes of God (Rev. 1:4; 4:5; 5:6), and are directed by Christ to find those who are genuinely seeking God (II Chron. 16:9).

If those who are called respond to the leading of the seven spirits—and truly desire to know the truth and begin to obey the truth—then God the Father sends His Spirit to be with them (John 14:16-17). This is how the Father begins to draw them (John 6:44, 65; 14:6). If they hunger and thirst for God and His Word, the Father leads them to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and baptism (Acts 2:38). At that point their sins are forgiven through the shed blood of Christ (Rom. 3:23-31). They are justified and put into right standing with God and are "under grace." This gives them the blessing of having direct, personal fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ (I John 1:3). They begin walking in the "way of the Lord"—toward conversion. They are now among those who have been chosen—and will, after much growth and testing, become one of those who are "called and chosen and faithful" (Rev. 17:14).

Indeed, they are to overcome and develop the mind of Christ. However, they begin as babes in Christ, as Peter writes: "For you have been begotten again, not from corruptible seed, but from incorruptible seed, by the living Word of God, which remains forever. For all flesh is like grass, and all the glory of man is like the flower of the field; the grass has withered, and its flower has fallen away. But the Word of the Lord endures forever; and this is the message that was preached to you through the gospel. Therefore, having put away all wickedness, and all deceit, and hypocrisies and jealousies, and all slanders, as newborn babes, yearn after the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow, if you yourselves have indeed tasted that the Lord is gracious. To Whom coming, as to a living Stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God, and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house—a holy priesthood—to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 1:23-25; 2:1-5).

This is a short scriptural overview on how God the Father and Jesus Christ work together to spiritually call new people. If we do our part, God will do His part. Because God works, we must faithfully work—as the stewards of God's Flock (John 5:17, I Cor. 4:1-2).

Overall, the Elders' Conference was tremendously inspiring. We were joined on the Sabbath, May 11, by 150 brethren from 5 or 6 surrounding states who attended the morning and afternoon services (with a meal between services). So that you won't miss anything, we will be sending the Sabbath messages in our next mailing.

As we hear and see the news from around the world, we are witnessing a great deal of turmoil—in religion, government and economics; we are witnessing disasters, powerful storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, floods, wars, killings and robberies. Jesus prophesied that it would be this way in the last days (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). However, regardless of such circumstances, we must remain faithful and vigilant at all times.

 Brethren, thank you for your love and continued daily prayers for all of God's people. They are greatly appreciated. We know that God is with us, leading us every day. Thank you for your continued support through your tithes and offerings, so that we may continue to preach the Gospel to the world and truly feed the Flock of God. May God the Father and Jesus Christ bless you in every way and watch over you in all circumstances.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter