This week I returned from visiting a number of the churches over the period of, and after the feast of Unleavened Bread.
The National Churches are now on a firm footing for the next seven-year cycle. We have good reports from all areas that have reported. I am still awaiting reports for East Africa in Tanzania and Kenya but preliminary reports indicate a successful Passover in both nations.
The sites in Canada have organised for the next cycle and the US system is now also well structured. By now the Church should be well aware of what is happening over the period of this cycle and how God has brought the Church to a new finely honed instrument. The Church is tested and pruned over the Fifth and Sixth years of the cycle (see the paper Samson and the Judges (No. 73)). This cycle was no different to the previous cycle although it was as traumatic to those involved as it ever was to others. The old hands who have been through it all before are a source of guidance for the newer members who have not experienced it before. Those of us who survive the fire of the tests of our faith are grounded in the faith and ready to be built upon for the next cycle of growth of the Church of God. God builds on solid material and not on sand. We are not to be pushed by every wind of doctrine.
The tests of our faith are also centred on brotherly love. If you do not love your brother whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen?
I gave a sermon on Brotherly Love at the Feast in Kansas City, MO, that was recorded and will be available on the web site. All of our people are to listen to that sermon please. In there are guidelines for the conduct of interaction of the Church and families so that we might understand what is required of us. This aspect is the most important issue of the faith in these last days and the hallmark of our church and our era.
One thing that often fascinates us is the fact that people approach us to join us, yet don’t want to agree and abide by our beliefs and rules. One would think that it was a fairly simple procedure. Agree with us and consent to be governed by our rules and beliefs or leave us alone. It is that simple. Study the articles of our faith and ask the appointed coordinator questions. Use him as a mentor to guide you through the issues, and if you agree then join us and work for the faith. If you disagree then may God bless you in your search for the truth and have a productive life.
However, some people join us to change this or that aspect. We would be all right but for this or that aspect so they reason. One major issue is the Calendar. Let us be very clear. We keep the Ancient Temple Calendar and it is acknowledged that we do that. We do not keep Karaite observation heresies or the Hillel post temple corruption of the calendar of R. Hillel II in 358 CE, and we are not interested in pagan crescent moons. I was interested to see that our work is now of such high standing and accuracy on this issue that a number of major institutions are referring to us as the authority on the Temple Calendar, and even the US Naval Observatory now refers people to our site as the authority for the listing of EENT on a daily basis.
CCG has set the standard in the Churches of God for academic excellence. Our system is based on the Harvard system of citations so that each paper stands on its own and the references are all available.
Truth stands the test of time and accuracy is second to none. Information is right or it is wrong.
Ethics are tied to truth. If your view of truth is variable then your ethics will be relative. Your standards will vary according to circumstance. Ultimately there will be a respect of persons in everything you do.
You will see this variability emerge more and more in so-called Christianity over the next few years. At the end of this feast period Pope John-Paul II died. The search for his successor is moving through the usual maze of internal politics that typifies this mammoth organisation that is the Roman Catholic Church.
The saying is, that a fat pope is followed by a thin pope who is followed by a fat pope. There is a move now to introduce collegiality into the Roman Catholic Church so that the authority of the hierarchy can be challenged and decentralised. Many seek to use this debate for their own ends both within and without the Roman Catholic system. Many seek to use the debate to disrupt the organisation of entirely unrelated church bodies.
There is a great battle going on now for the decision of who this next pope is to be. That decision will affect the way in which the world sees and acts in its relationship with Christianity. This next period will see the Church both centralised and broken up. The RC system is seeing the Church grow in Africa due to the appalling unrest there and the mechanics of intrigue and persecution. The South American RC church system is on the other hand losing large numbers to Protestant and Pentecostal minorities. Europe is also losing large numbers to indifference and paganism. Thus there are three areas of interest pushing for the election of a pope from their area. One wants to continue the growth and the others want to stem the loss of numbers. Couple that with the Italians who want to regain the papacy and the curial mafia that want to retain control and the collegial decentralists and the North America Liberal lobby and we have interesting ingredients for a power struggle. Of one thing we can be sure, the end result will not produce world peace. The next pope will be a compromise of these competing interests.
We released a paper some years ago dealing with this issue titled The Last Pope (No. 288). We will reissue that paper updated over the next few weeks. Look at that paper now and again when we reissue it. I am sure you will learn a lot from the exercise.
That paper has set new records for the access of CCG papers. Last week some 26,000 copies of No. 288 in English, Italian and French were downloaded. The previous week was a bit less but still also set record levels that were broken again this week.
Between now and the Feast of Tabernacles we hope to issue a series of papers and commentaries on prophecy that will give us all an idea of where we are headed over this cycle. The next two cycles will see the preparation of the world, the judgment of the Witnesses and the return of Jesus Christ. We will then proceed to the Jubilee in 2027 and the millennial system in 2028. God will bring this system to the birth and execute His Plan according to His Will, His Law and His Calendar. Our job is to prepare for that event and issue the correct explanation of the Bible Plan and sequence so that all nations are warned and then brought into judgment.
Recently we issued the paper False Prophecy (No. 269) to show us where we are situated in relation to prophecy and the way in which the last eras of the Church were identified and divided. That work should show you the structure of false prophecy and false prophets over the last two hundred years. We should be able to see the system as it now rushes towards the last days and the final conflicts of the end.
Much of the reaction is now along the lines of “preach to us smooth things, we don’t want to hear about doom and gloom”. The problem is that we have to be able to identify the issues and problems and the sequence and then be able to support one another through that sequence.
I have said many times: We had better love one another as we will need each other over this period like never before.
Let us all now work together. The mark of our people is the humble and willing approach that rests on the love of one another. Self-aggrandisement has no place among us and is readily identified by the brethren as disruptive.
Each one of us is called to do a task and to accomplish the work of God as part of a team. If you can’t work together then you are disrupting the work and God will remove you or render you harmless.
In all areas of the Church we made decisions and appointed officers for the next cycle. To those who were appointed we offer our congratulations and we hope you are able to serve the brethren well. Some people were appointed on World Conference recommendation and some people were appointed under the powers vested in me by the Constitution. In either case don’t let us down for supporting or selecting “you”.
The ministry was re-credentialed this year for the next seven-year cycle so be chastened and humbled by the confidence expressed by your brethren. Once again we were pleased to see a good percentage of women elected to responsibility within the Church. In each case the Holy Spirit was readily identified as working with them.
In CCG many people who are over 70 are not asked to perform at onerous tasks but their input is valued and sought, as was evident from the conference activities. They are only asked to do what they feel is appropriate and what they are able to achieve. We value whatever it is they do and they are free to achieve for as long as they are capable. The Secretarial Officers of CCG are the only ones limited by the Constitution in that regard in their appointments. Industrial senility was a major factor in the destruction of the WCG system and we are anxious to avoid it in CCG.
As a final note it is important that we understand that CCG is run as an organisation with legal systems and requirements placed upon it. We make determinations that are to be enforced on a worldwide basis. It is not up to individual congregations to decide for themselves issues of ritual and of doctrine. Many things we do are decided on by conference for the reasons of legal and insurance purposes. One example was the decision not to use a single cup for the Passover. The World Conference decided on the use of individual cups for the Lord’s Supper for sound health reasons. We understand that Christ used a single cup originally and that wine has an antiseptic value. However, in view of the serious dangers posed by modern viruses and the requirements of our insurance policies we have ordered that individual small cups be used to minimise this danger. No individual or conference has the power to alter this practice and those who do will be disciplined.
Whatever your hand finds to do then do it with all your might. If you have a task then do that and don’t waste time involving yourself in things you were not asked to do.
If you are sitting on the sidelines watching and waiting then stir yourself to action and get involved. If you think you are in the body of Christ and are not involved or participating in the Church then you are only fooling yourself.
If you did not fully participate in this Feast then you had better review your
motives and what is happening with your life. If you did not leave your gift
at the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother before the Passover
then expect to be censured by the Holy Spirit over the period. If you were,
don’t blame anyone but yourself and take it to heart.
God expects all of us to work together to the best of our abilities. He gave us to Christ to achieve His ends in the calling of the faith.
Love one another as God and Christ love us.
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