Are Christians supposed to be strangers, pilgrims, and ambassadors?


The fourth Thursday in November is the American holiday called Thanksgiving.

According to Wikipedia:

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. It is the only other country outside of the United States that officially observes the day as a holiday.

Unlike most holidays observed in the USA and Canada, this Thanksgiving is not of pagan origin. Hence, the vast majority in the Church of God (COG) consider it an “optional” (not biblically-required) holiday. Jesus Himself seemed to observe a national Jewish, as opposed to a biblical, holiday called the Feast of the Dedication in the New Testament as He went to the Temple during it (John 10:22-23).

As Americans know, the history related to the USA Thanksgiving involves a group of people commonly known as the Pilgrims.

They were a dissenting religious group considered to be outside of mainstream “Christianity”. The Pilgrims felt that the only way freely to practice their religion was to physically separate themselves from the Church of England that had persecuted them. First to flee persecution, these “Separatists,” moved to the English Midlands. Then they went to Amsterdam in 1607. In 1609, they moved to the more religiously tolerant Netherlands. But they decided that this would not do. Finally, they began their voyage to America in 1620. It took months to cross the sea and they lost many during that voyage as well as after coming to America.. In spite of all their sufferings and the death of half of their company, in October 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest. In 1863, US President Lincoln made a proclamation that ultimately led to Thanksgiving becoming a US holiday.

The persecutions of the Pilgrims somewhat remind me of the history of the Church of God (a related article of interest may be Persecutions by Church and State).

Notice something from the old Radio Church of God on this subject:

Dear Friend:

How should we view the American custom or celebrating Thanksgiving Day?

The Thanksgiving holiday was established in comparatively recent years. It is, or course, not mentioned in Scripture — but the principle or attending and celebrating national holidays is made clear in Scripture.

Thanksgiving Day was established by the early colonists, not by any Divine authority. But this in itself does not make it wrong to celebrate with good fellowship. Notice the example or Jesus Christ. In John 10:22 we find that Christ attended the “Feast or Dedication,” which was established by the Jews years before to commemorate the purification of the temple at Jerusalem. That day was celebrated on the anniversary of the day that the reestablishment or Divine worship occurred after Antiochus Epiphanes had been vanquished and the temple purified about 165 B.C.   Jesus’ attendance at that annual holiday clearly illustrated that it is not wrong to attend or celebrate a national holiday established for an honorable purpose. There was nothing wrong in the Jews’ celebrating the dedication of the temple and giving God special gratitude on that day. God led Esther and Mordecai to establish the Feast of Purim in commemoration of the miraculous deliverance or the Jews from bloody Haman (see the last chapter or Esther).

The national holidays celebrated by the Jews have, of course, no special significance for the non-Jew — just as Thanksgiving Day holds no special significance for our non-American brethren scattered around the world. God permits these customs only if they do not get out or hand. What God expressly forbids is the observance of pagan festivals which were intended as deliberate substitutes for the plan and program of God. We are not to adopt in God’s worship those customs which heathen used in serving their gods. But it is proper and fitting for national leaders to set aside time for the whole nation to give God special thanks for His unique bounty to this nation.

Thanksgiving Day was first celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 after their first harvest had been entirely reaped. On that day, they paid tribute to God for all their bountiful and undeserved material and spiritual blessings. Thanksgiving Day gradually became neglected and was revived during the Civil War as a day of special national thanksgiving for preserving this nation. This American Thanksgiving Day does not have a pagan origin despite the claims of certain fringe sects. It is not usually celebrated with pagan ceremonial customs in honor of pagan traditions and gods, as are Christmas, Easter and Halloween. If this national holiday becomes corrupted, then it would be high time to reject it — but generally is not so celebrated today.

This day of national thanksgiving can be enjoyed by our brethren in America with an especially deep understanding because we know that our personal and national prosperity have come solely as the result of God’s promise to Abraham — and as a result of His choice of this nation as the springboard for His Church in this generation.

Our brethren in other nations do not celebrate this holiday any more than we celebrate the Jews’ Feasts of Dedication and Purim. What we all do celebrate are those divinely appointed Holy Days and Festivals established by God in His Word for all men. We never regard a national holiday with the same respect, awe and reverence as we do God’s Sabbath and His Holy Days. National holidays are just that — holidays, not Holy Days. They are a time of secular pleasure and gratitude, nothing more.

But in the midst of the Thanksgiving season, let’s not neglect Paul’s command in Ephesians 5:20 to “give thanks always.” Let’s not make a mockery of God’s special blessings to this nation.


Letter Number: 930

Publication Date: 1959

Thanksgiving is an optional national holiday. It is not a biblical holy day, nor is it kept like one.

The Continuing Church of God has the following sermon which is at its ContinuingCOG channel:


Are Christians supposed to be strangers, pilgrims, and ambassadors? Are God’s Holy Days one way they are different from most of the world? What are tabernacles? Did Jesus pray that Christians would be taken out of the world? Are Christians to be in the world, but not of it? Did people like Noah and Abraham forsake wealth to sojourn as God wished them to? Are Christians to follow that example? Do Christians have a permanent city during this age? What festival was considered to be the pilgrim feast? What is an ambassador? Might your conduct help convert people after the second resurrection? Does the world think a small church is a cult? What about seeking first the Kingdom of God? What do the Gentiles of this world focus on? What should Christians focus on? Does the weekly Sabbath and annual Feast of Tabernacles help drive home the point that Christians are strangers and pilgrims sojourning in this life as we look forward to what God has in store for us? Dr. Thiel addresses these issues and more.

Here is a link to this sermon: Christians: Strangers, Pilgrims, and Ambassadors,

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims? Should Christians sojourn? What does the Bible and Feast of Tabernacles teach? Two  related video sermons are available Christians: Strangers, Pilgrims, and Ambassadors and Christian Pilgrims.
Thanksgiving: Can Christians keep it? Is this American holiday appropriate? Why or why not? A sermon related to giving thanks is also available: Ingratitude and Giving Thanks.
Is God Calling You? This is a booklet discussing calling, election, and selection. If God is calling you, how will you respond?
Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian This is a scripture-filled booklet for those wishing to live as a real Christian. A related sermon is also available: Christians are Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach? This free booklet contains 28 biblically-based tips on improving the effectiveness of your prayers. This is a pdf. A related two part sermon is available: What Does the Bible Teach About Prayer? and What does the Bible Teach About Prayer (& Healing)?
Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. There are links to literature is about 100 different languages there. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and CCOG: Four Years Revealing Philadelphia? Here is a written link to a version of that first sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world.
Continuing Church of God Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CCOGAFRICA.ORG This is a website targeted towards those in Africa.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
CCOG Animations channel. The Continuing Church of God has some animations to teach aspects of Christian beliefs.
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Embu, and Dholuo.
BibleNewsProphecy Podcast. This has audio-visual podcasts of the Bible News Prophecy channgel. It plays on i-Phones, i-Pads, and Windows devices that can play i-Tunes.
Bible News Prophecy online radio. This is an audio version of the Bible News Prophecy videos. It is also available as a mobile app.
Bible News Prophecy channel. Dr. Thiel has produced many YouTube sermonette videos for the BibleNewsProphecy channel. And you can find them there.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced scores of YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.

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