Dear Members, Co-Workers and Friends,
We have finished our annual Church Conference, and all in attendance felt that this was the most profitable and peaceful conference we have had for a long time. Even though some might doubt the accuracy of this assessment, as it may sound too good to be true, we are confident that our statement reflects objectively what we have experienced. We are all on the same page and dedicated to the Work of preaching the Gospel and feeding the Flock in the way that God would want us to do—something which could not always be said for all prior years with that same kind of emphasis. This kind of unity reflects growth through the help of God’s Holy Spirit, along with the fact that Jesus Christ continues to guide those who yield to Him.
Among many topics, we discussed the most obvious and some more subtle examples of doctrinal and administrative differences between our organizations and other church groups within the Body of Christ. We addressed our Internet presence and our ever-increasing and hard-working technical team, as well as plans and options for expansions, including on Facebook. We had a short look at our stunning new national and international websites, which are being prepared and which will show a unified design to better establish our identities. We confirmed our biblical understanding of John 7:37-39 and discussed, based on the Bible, how Jesus—the glorious immortal God Being—became a mortal Man. We evaluated plans for the Feast of Tabernacles in 2015, with the possibility of perhaps opening up a third Feast site. We also expressed our intent to write and publish a few more booklets this year—including one on the return of Christ and one on the fall and rise of the House of Judah. We decided to begin posting all video-recorded sermons on the Web. We will continue to address some of the doctrinal issues, as discussed in our Conference, in upcoming Q&A’s.
Even though statistics could be manufactured—and quite often are in certain circles—we objectively viewed and analyzed our presence on our different national and international websites for the last 12 months and made observations about trends that will help us to improve our efficacy in fulfilling the commission of the Church. We also decided to continue with our radio broadcasts, realizing that it may take some time to receive many meaningful responses. It was pointed out that we are blessed with many responses and encouraging growth in attendance in the German Work, but we must not forget that we have been regularly posting weekly video-recorded German sermons since December of 2008.
Statistics can help us to evaluate where we could do more and implement slightly different actions, while always remembering that it is not our job to convert others but simply to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14). God will draw people to Christ and His Church (John 6:44, 65) whose hearts are being opened to the truth (Acts 13:48; 14:27; 15:8). When we diligently sow the seed, God will give the increase in those whom He chooses (Matthew 13:1-23)—many times in ways we will not understand (Isaiah 55:10-11).
When this letter reaches you, there will be only a few more days left before the Spring Holy Day season begins. As was pointed out in recent Editorials in our weekly Updates, we must prepare and be ready for the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
In our Editorial of February 28, 2014, we stated that “It is important for baptized members of the true Church of God to partake of the Passover (in the evening of Sunday, April 13). It is equally important for them to use the light of God to reveal their sins, so that they can repent and partake of the Passover in a worthy manner, thus pleasing their Creator God and their Savior Jesus Christ.”
We stated in our subsequent Editorial of March 14, 2014, that in preparation for the Passover “true Christians ought to make an extra and diligent effort to examine themselves to determine whether and how Jesus is living in them (2 Corinthians 13:5), so that they do not partake of the Passover symbols in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). This self-examination should show us how we lived throughout the year—and if we are honest enough, we WILL find fault with ourselves. This realization must prompt us to repent, change, and make amends PRIOR to Passover eve.”
We also stated that “Paul tells us to examine ourselves, as to how we are doing, and to TAKE the Passover. But before partaking of the Passover symbols, we must repent of wrong conduct and wrong thinking, and we must understand and appreciate what the Sacrifice of Christ really means for us. Christ died for us to free us from sin. He did not die for us to give us license to sin. We must be willing to live our lives worthy of God and our holy calling, and obey God in everything.”
In addition, when addressing the Days of Unleavened Bread in our Editorial of April 3, 2014, we stated that “At times, the Bible compares sin with leaven, and if leaven is not removed, it grows and permeates the whole lump. In the same way, sin grows and spreads in our lives. The Days of Unleavened Bread picture our complete departure from sin, but this is impossible without God’s help. It is God who must fight our battles. According to tradition, Israel stood in front of the Red Sea on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. They were completely helpless and in despair, when they saw Pharaoh’s army pursuing them. But God intervened miraculously and saved them from physical death or renewed physical captivity. Today, God is giving us—spiritual Israelites—spiritual victory over sin, if we submit to Him and let Him fight our spiritual battles for us.”
With God’s Holy Spirit living within us (the gift of the Holy Spirit to God’s Church is pictured by the annual Holy Day of Pentecost), we can be obedient to God. We stated in the above-mentioned Editorial:
“When we, as baptized members of the Church of God, keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, while focusing already on the Day of Pentecost, we ought to remember that everything we accomplish in this life is not because of our might and strength, but because of God’s grace and favor. Because of Christ’s great love for us, He died for us, when we were still sinners and God’s enemies. We did not deserve to be forgiven—God forgave us because of unmerited pardon. It is God who shows us the way out of sin and who enables us to follow His path. And it is God who gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us to obey Him in spirit and truth. In doing this, we can gladly focus on the Holy Days in the Autumn, beginning with the next dramatic event in the plan of God. This earth-shaking occurrence is pictured by the Feast of Trumpets and describes the return of Jesus Christ to establish God’s rule here on earth and to give us His gift of eternal life, by changing us from mortal human beings to immortal members of God’s Family.”
How thankful we ought to be that we do understand the meaning and importance of God’s annual Holy Days which reveal to us His plan for us and all of mankind. Let us show God our thankfulness by doing His Will for us—collectively and individually.
We thank YOU for your continued love and support and wish you a very meaningful and
rewarding Spring Holy Day season.
With Christian love,