Jesus Christ Prison Ministry

Book of Acts

with Commentary

The Ekklesia

Part 7

Previously, we left off with the new converts learning to live the ekklēsia life and “come out” of their old church habits. This was very hard for them to do; therefore, Jesus allowed the church to persecute the new believers in order to “encourage” them to form right habits. As they ran for their lives from their persecuting church, they entered “pagan” lands with a renewed conviction that Jesus was correct, they needed to leave their church and go into all the world “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20. No longer were they to worry about what the church taught, wanted or did. They were free to live and die for Jesus. The divide between Jesus and church was becoming wider.

As they went out into the world, they entered the Jewish churches in order to tell them the good news. However, the churches were not interested in giving up their authority and power to Jesus. Therefore, when the church saw the “pagans” accepting the truth, they became very jealous and worked against God’s truth to protect their “turf”.

Yet, old habits are hard to put off. There was still a hypnotic pull to continue the church habits of ceremonies, traditions, feast days, rituals and church organization. Therefore, from here on out, unless I make a mistake, please understand, the word “ekklēsia” will be used in place of the modern-day word “church” when referring to the Christians in their gatherings. This is to separate the Christian assemblies from the Jewish-pagan church system of position, organization, money, ego, pride, control and manipulation under man. Within 250 years the pagan-Jewish church system would be copied and expanded upon by the apostate “Christians”, and the Catholic Church system, from which all churches of today are derived, would be formed.

The true ekklēsia were those who followed Jesus and were led by the Holy Spirit. They did not assemble under a “church” name or organization. No human led them, and they did not participate in any of the traditions, feast days, rituals or ceremonies of their former church. They were simply an “assembly” of people who loved Jesus more than a church and showed that love by “coming out”. They wanted to meet together for the purpose of sharing their love of Jesus and helping each other remain pure and true to the Ten Commandments. Their “assemblies” were not regulated or “required” by any organization to meet at any special place, time, day or week. They met when the Spirit of God called them to meet. For most, it was a daily meeting. They loved to share, talk and encourage each other in obedience to Jesus. “God can accept no partial obedience, no lax way of treating His commandments.” PP 705. Is your church meeting daily to help you overcome sin and live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus?

Acts 14:1 - Acts 16:40

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue (church) and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.  But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 

It is an interesting point that the Sabbath-keeping church, which claimed to be the representative of God, was willing to enter into an alliance with the enemies of God to protect their church organization. One whiff of the freedom Jesus offered and the church went crazy. And yet, it is today. When this ministry brings to churches the freedom that Jesus offers, they go crazy and are willing to enter into alliances with the enemies of God to keep Jesus out of their organizations.

So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 

Since 1997, the Lord has been giving me the power to speak “boldly for the Lord”. I do not know how much longer He will allow this poor instrument of His to continue, but as long as He allows it I will continue.

But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 

The true gospel, as Jesus taught it, will always be divisive. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword!” Matthew 10:34. The Bible is very clear on this point. The wicked cannot stand the righteous and the righteous cannot stand the wicked. The churches hate the teachings of Jesus to live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. The only reason there is any semblance of “unity” in churches today is the fact that they have accepted sin into their lives. They would rather unite with the wicked than to bow before the truth. It is the church people, the “religious”, who are always trying to mistreat, hurt, hate and destroy others in the name of “God”. God’s true Christians live in love, forgiveness, graciousness, kindness, tenderness and service to produce the perfect, sinless life of Jesus.

When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel. 

Again, I must keep stressing the fact that for fifteen-hundred years the Catholic Church has totally brainwashed the churches of today through its indoctrination. The gospel being taught by the churches today is the Catholic, satanic gospel to keep you from the true gospel Jesus taught. The gospel Jesus taught was the good news of living the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life the Father in Heaven has required of us. We cannot get to Heaven with sin in our lives. The only way to get to Heaven is to purify ourselves of all sin. (James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:22). Yet, for many, sin is about not “believing”. If you “believe” a certain way, then you are a Christian. However, if you do not “believe” as I or my church “believes” then you are a sinner.   But the Bible is very clear on what sin is, and it isn’t a “belief”. Sin is an action. It is the breaking of the Ten Commandments. “Everyone who sins breaks God’s law, because sin is the same as breaking God’s law.” 1 John 3:4. But the churches today do not want you to believe the teachings of Jesus. John 14:15.

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked.  He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 

For now, the healings that are accomplished through this ministry are very low key. Those who are obedient to the information in “Change Your Life Biblically” are healed and blessed. The reason for this low-key approach, at this time, is so people do not take the credit for their healings or give it to their church, doctor or diet. All glory is to go to Jesus Christ alone. There is no explanation or reason for the healings that take place through “Change Your Life Biblically” except by the power of Jesus.

And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”  Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.  And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 

And that is the problem with the “healings” and miracles taking place in the churches and religious circles today. The glory goes to man, the church, “12 step” programs, stop smoking programs, drug programs and a thousand other “programs”. The glory is not given to Jesus. The people “healed” do not give glory to Jesus by changing their lives and living the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. Instead, they become hardened in their wicked, church-going ways and are farther from Jesus than before.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 

Paul and Barnabas were true Christians. They pointed to Jesus as the true source for the healing. But today, “fake” healings done on TV and in the churches only goes to produce pride and ego in the healed, healers and churches. Their lives do not reflect the character of Jesus. It is all in vain.

In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.  Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 

You see, God is a God of giving. He loves to send us “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” He wants to heal us and bless us. But when you look around, who is getting the glory for the fruitful seasons and all the good that is satisfying your heart with food and gladness? Is it not man, businesses, technology and science? And when God does remove His blessings that are being hijacked, we call it “global warming” or pandemic, etc.

Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

This ministry is kept behind a fence deliberately for that reason, to make sure no one gets the glory but Jesus Christ. When the book, “Change Your Life Biblically” goes out and people obey it and are healed and blessed, they know the glory goes to Jesus only. Praise God!

But Jews (church members) came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 

However, there are those who are always wanting to rain on God’s parade. They just can’t stand giving God the glory and rejoicing in the blessings God gives. If their church or denomination is not glorified, they have to find something to badmouth. Their mouths are always throwing “stones” at the work Jesus is doing.

But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

I do understand that. How often I have been flattened by the “stone” throwers. But God keeps raising me up and moving me on. There is so much to do for the Lord. I pray for the day when people will get out of their churches and go to Jesus. He has a work for each one, and it isn’t sitting in church. Of course, going to work for Jesus does make you a target for “stones”. On second thought, go back to sleep in your church.

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 

Most church members today gripe and complain when they are inconvenienced. Are we following the example of Jesus, Paul and Barnabas who did not mention their own trials and persecutions but “encouraged them to continue in the faith”. How far our churches have fallen. We need to stop griping and start encouraging.

Jesus, Paul and the other disciples never taught anyone to become a member of a church or denomination. In everything, they and all the other Christians of their day were teaching people how to “enter the kingdom of God”. And that could only be accomplished by learning how to live by the laws of that kingdom. To become a citizen of God’s kingdom you must start learning now how to live by His Ten Commandment laws that govern His kingdom.

“God had commanded the Hebrews to teach their children His requirements and to make them acquainted with all His dealings with their fathers. This was one of the special duties of every parentone that was not to be delegated to another. In the place of stranger lips, the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children. Thoughts of God were to be associated with all the events of daily life.” PP 592.

That one quote throws out all our churches and schools of today. We have totally surrendered our duties as parents to the church system. Get out now before it is too late. Parents need to teach their children how to enter the kingdom of God.

And how did Paul teach the people to enter the kingdom of God? Keep in mind, there was no “New Testament” for Paul to point to or teach from. There was no “New Testament” for Paul to read from. There was no “New Testament” for Paul to leave behind. Therefore, what did He teach from? Paul had the answer, and he taught it to everyone who would listen. He finally wrote it out for his “son” Timothy, so he would not forget and could teach others. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and found to be true, because you know from whom you learned it.  From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to give you the wisdom you need for salvation through faith in the Messiah Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good action.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

And what were the “Scriptures” to Paul? Of course, the Old Testament. The “New Testament” as we know it today, would not be compiled and understood as the “New Testament” for another 300 years. The early Christians used only the Old Testament “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good action.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our churches did the same today?

The early Christians followed the example of Jesus who taught and lived by the Old Testament. Jesus went around everywhere teaching people to read, study and obey the Old Testament, not church. Jesus did not have a “New Testament” to teach from. Jesus stated, “If your brothers do not listen to Moses and the Prophets (Old Testament), they will not be persuaded, even if someone were to rise from the dead.” Luke 16:31. He demonstrated the fact that the Old Testament, when put into the heart, would produce a perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. On the other hand, by looking at the Pharisees, and people who went to church, it was obvious that going to church did nothing to prepare people for the Kingdom of God. What is your pastor preaching from?

And when they had appointed elders for them in every ekklēsia, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 

Please, do not equate the “elders” Paul appointed back then with the “elders” appointed by the Catholic church systems in your church today. It doesn’t matter what day you go to church on, all church systems are Catholic and will be destroyed. Why did Paul appoint elders? The Greek word here is “πρεσβύτερος” and is transliterated as “presbyteros” which interpreted means a person of “advanced life, an elder, a senior”. In other words, Paul picked mature men of advanced age (60 and older), seniors, who had grown up with the Old Testament and knew it. As Christians they were able to continue using the Old Testament “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good action.” Got it? Those with the title “elder” of churches today have no understanding of the Old Testament or how to use it.

Today, all they want is the prestige, ego and the show. It is very ego stroking to sit up on the platform of the church with everyone looking at you. They even get to stand up, or kneel, and pray long and ignorant prayers that God hates and does not want to waste His time listening to. Get out of your churches now before it is too late. Go back to your Old Testament “Scriptures” and learn how to be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good action (work)”.

And, oh yes, they “committed them to the Lord”. The elders were not committed to a church or denomination. They were committed to teaching only what the Lord had taught: be perfect, stop sinning and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life.

Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia.  And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 

When Paul and Barnabas were commended by the ekklēsia in Antioch to go on their missionary journey, the ekklēsia didn’t commend them to set up churches or denominations. They didn’t commend them to tell the people what to eat, drink or wear. They commended them to the grace of God to preach the Word. And what was that “Word”? It is God’s Ten Commandments and how to live it in our lives. That is why Jesus stated, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I didn’t come to destroy them, but to fulfill them”. Matthew 5:17. He fulfilled them in His life and then He commands us to follow His example. Each of us is to fulfill them, put them into action, in our lives if we want to “get eternal life”. Matthew 19:17. This same concept was put into practice by the Israelites in their families. “Teach them repeatedly to your children. Talk about them while sitting in your house or walking on the road, and as you lie down or get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7. Are you teaching your family how to live the Ten Commandments in their daily lives?  Or do you just go to church?

And when they arrived and gathered the ekklēsia together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 

Again, because of the perverted concepts we have of “church” today, I need to interpret the above sentence in order for you to understand it as those reading it back then would have understood it. It would go something like this: “We arrived in Antioch and gathered together everyone (who had come out of the official, organized church), in order to declare all that God had done with us and how He opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” Remember, “church”, ekklēsia in Acts, means “those called out” of the official, organized church to assemble in Jesus. You cannot put today’s understanding of “church” back into the word “ekklēsia” in Acts any more than you can put today’s meaning of “gay” back into the word “gay” of the 1800’s. Same words, two very different meanings.

The churches today will not tell you the truth. They are all liars. They love the way the Catholic Church has defined “church”. After all, the Catholic Church system brings in a lot of money. Truly, the Word of God is being used for money and profit in our churches today. Churches want you to believe the “church” of today is the same as the Christians’ back in Paul’s day. It isn’t. Get out of your church now or be forever lost.

And they remained no little time with the disciples.

Very few spend time making disciples of people. We ask new members to memorize a few texts and then baptize them into a church or denomination, and poof, that’s it. We expect them to go to church each week, read the denominational books and papers and that is supposed to make them “Christians” and saved. That does not make you a disciple of Christ! None of that will get you into Heaven. To get to Heaven, you must follow Jesus. Jesus walked and talked with His Father, not the church. He read the Old Testament, not the church publications. Go home, throw out your church publications, open your Bible and become a disciple of Jesus.

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

How typical. “You have to be baptized.” “You have to speak in tongues.” “You have to believe in a special name.” “You have to observe the feast days.” “You must eat this and not that.” “You must wear this and not that.” “You must belong to our church”. Yep, church members have no idea what it means to follow Jesus and live for Him. It is all about the church and what the church wants. Basically, the men who “came down from Judea” were trying to get the new believers to be initiated into the Jewish church. If they wanted to believe in Jesus, fine, as long as they belonged to the Jewish church. They did not believe anyone could be saved outside of their church organization.

And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 

Nothing in the above texts gives any indication that the men who “came down from Judea” were “Christians”. But whatever they were, the same old habits were aroused in the new Christians who had come out of the church. Comfortable traditions were once again enjoined on them. Church just doesn’t want you to leave all its wonderful and inspiring traditions, ceremonies, rituals and beliefs. They are very comforting. And they bring a lot of money into the church. It is all about money.

So, being sent on their way by the ekklēsia, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 

Again, the word “ekklēsia” here distinguishes those who had come out of the traditional, organized and accepted church of that time. It was the churchmen who were bringing trouble to those who were of God’s “ekklēsia”, those who had “come out” of the traditional, organized church. In order not to be confused, we need to think of the Christians as those who “assembled” apart from those who belonged to the Jewish organized “church”.

On their way to Jerusalem, they met with many different “assemblies” (ekklēsia) of Christians who had come out of the church system. They rejoiced that the Gentiles were accepting the gospel without having to go through any church initiation rituals. They understood that it was obedience to the Ten Commandments, by faith in Jesus as the atonement, that saved them.

When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the ekklēsia and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 

The Christians who were living and “assembling” for Jesus in Jerusalem were still under the sway of the Jewish church. The temple was right there. To watch thousands of Jews, their cousins, who came from all over the world, continue to observe and conform to the church traditions, services and rituals was very hard for the new Christians in their ekklēsia. But they assembled to listen to Paul and Barnabas declare “all that God had done with them”.

But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” 

You see, the Pharisees would be like our ministers, pastors, churches and denominational leaders today. They got their money, fame and ego from the church system with all its traditions, regulations, rituals and services: “the law of Moses”. For them, it was very important that you belonged to their “church”. They could not fathom you going to Jesus without first coming to them. The Pharisees were accustomed to being honored, respected, bowed down to and obeyed by church members. And again, the distinction must continually be made between the “Law of God” which is the Ten Commandments, and the “law of Moses” which were the Tabernacle systems, ceremonies, feast days, traditions, health laws, services and national civil laws. They are two very distinct “laws”.

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.

Here again, this was not a “church organization” or “church leadership” committee meeting for the “ekklēsia”. These were the apostles and elders, those who knew Jesus, who had “come out from” the church to follow Jesus. They were assembling in the name of Jesus under the direction of the Holy Spirit. God was moving here. He wasn’t in the organized church of the Pharisees. All of that was done away with. Now, it was people who knew Jesus and their Old Testaments and were led by the Spirit of God in the ekklēsia way of living.

And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.  And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.  Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?  But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” 

And there it is. Look closely and you will see that the Spirit had already given the decision, but the “church” people were not willing to accept it. Therefore, Peter had to stand up in the Christian “ekklēsia” and again relate what had already been decided upon by the Spirit of God. Christian believers did not have to belong to any church. They did not have to partake in any church rituals. They did not have to know any specific church or denominational doctrine. They did not have to observe any of the feast days. The church yoke was not, nor had it ever been, necessary for eternal life. Not even their “fathers” were able to bear that legalistic yoke. It had nothing to do with salvation.

No, the only thing necessary for salvation was faith in Jesus. A faith that produced works of obedience to the teachings of Jesus. Much later, Paul would be able to look back upon this experience and write, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations.” Romans 1:5. The Christians were being taught that the only thing that counted for eternal life was living by faith as Jesus lived, through obedience to the teachings Jesus taught: to be perfect, to stop sinning and to keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but obeying God’s commandments is everything.” 1 Corinthians 7:19. 

Peter, Paul, Barnabas and all the “Christians” were teaching the gospel as had been taught from the very beginning of time: to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life. That has been the Good News since Jesus taught it to Adam and Eve at the gate of the Garden of Eden after they sinned. It was the Good News taught to Abraham. It has always been the Good News Gospel. But the church usurped the gospel and made its traditions, ceremonies, services, rituals, feast days and sacrifices the salvation issue. Today, all churches have done the same thing.

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.  After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me.  Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.” 

They were not discussing church doctrine or policy. They were not in a church committee meeting to vote on church rules and standards. They listened to men of God who “related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles”. We don’t have those kinds of men in our churches today. There are none in our churches who are doing signs and wonders by God’s power. The churches today do not want God in their churches. They want to do it their own way. Money, money, money. Church boards are filled with church people who need to keep their pride, ego and positions intact. Nothing is done in church by the Spirit of God.

But God is visiting those who are not in church, “the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name”. God has had to step outside of “His church” because “His church” no longer wants Him. The churches have rejected the teachings of Jesus and have accepted the paganistic rituals, teachings, traditions, feast days and services of church. But to “ekklēsia” (come out) in obedience to Jesus, never!

“And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ 

God is doing that again today. The churches have all fallen, as the “tent of David” fell back them. God had to start over and “rebuild its ruins” with the Gentiles since the church refused to accept Him. Today, God is rebuilding the ruined tent of Christianity through little ministries like this one who are teaching people to have faith, not in a church, but in Jesus. To live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus. Will you come out of your church and join the “ekklēsia” who are preparing for Heaven?

Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.  For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” 

The same should be said today, but is not. We should not trouble Christians with church and all the traditions, services and rituals that go along with it. Why, because, “Moses has had in every city those who proclaim” Jesus. We do not need a church or church system with its rituals, services and traditions - we have Jesus. We can go to the Old Testament and read for ourselves what is necessary for eternal life. People need to get out of church and go to Jesus. They need to get their eyes off the church-idol and onto the Life of Jesus. Throughout the Old and New Testament, the only requirement for salvation has been the keeping of the Ten Commandments.

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole ekklēsia, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

The whole ekklēsia knew the church system of traditions, services and rituals was a waste of time. That is why they were the “ekklēsia”. They had come out of the church system and were following Jesus, not traditions, rituals and services. Why would they want to put others under a yoke they themselves were not able to bear?

They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings.  Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.  For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

There will always be those who want to trouble you. Don’t give them any mind. Don’t listen to them or your church. Churches love to trouble you. They want you listening to them, not Jesus. The ekklēsia at Jerusalem simply reminded the other ekklēsia of the Ten Commandments. They were not to become involved with idols in any form. That included the blood and what was strangled in offerings to those idols. They were not to break the 7th commandment which has to do with sexual immorality. These were the most egregious sins for the ekklēsia at that time. They were all acquainted with the Ten Commandments, but every now and then they needed to be reminded of those specific commandments they were unwittingly breaking. I am sure you find the same in your life. One day you need to concentrate on the 10th command and on another day the 7th command and on another day, the 8th commandment. We all have our battles to fight against sin.

So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter.  And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.  And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words.

How encouraged they must have been to learn that they did not have to submit to a church and its rituals, services, feast days and traditions. The Spirit of God was leading. The men who came down to trouble them about having to partake in church traditions, services, customs and rituals were probably doing what many have done since, making their church more important than obedience to Jesus. Everyone loves to have members who will bow down to them and support them. But the Spirit of God showed that this was not to be. Get out of your church now before it is too late.

And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 

Unity does not come by belonging to a church. Unity comes by belonging to Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God was promised by Jesus to those who would ekklēsia, “come out” of their church and unite with Him. He promised to send the Spirit to them individually, not a church, to guide them into all truth. They did not need a church or a human to do their “guiding”. Neither do we need them today. All we need is Jesus. Go to Jesus and let His Spirit fill you, guide you and teach you. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you.”  John 14:26. That is His job. Why are you going to church and preventing Him from doing His job?

But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all we did was preach the “word of the Lord”? But today, we must throw in human wisdom, feast days, traditions, services, foods, clothes and what we drink along with customs and rituals to make us “look good” as Christians. It is all idolatry. In going to church, and playing the part of a “Christian”, you are breaking the Ten Commandments and living a lie. No liars will be in Heaven.

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 

Paul wanted to return to those places they had “proclaimed the word of the Lord”. They didn’t proclaim church doctrine, traditions or services; it was the Word that the Lord had spoken which they proclaimed. Jesus taught nothing about going to church or keeping the doctrines, traditions or services of the church. He taught people “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15. Then He told them, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. Then My Father will love him, and we will go to him and make our home within him.” John 14:23. There you have it. Paul, Peter, Barnabas and all the Christians were simply doing what Jesus commanded. They were teaching the Word of Jesus to keep “My commandments”. And there it is again, “we will go to him and make our home within him.” John 14:23. Nothing to do with a church.

If your church is not teaching you to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life, get out now. You have no eternal life if you are sitting in church.

Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.  But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.  And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Disagreements are not a sin. As long as those disagreements are not in rebellion against what God teaches. We can disagree among ourselves as to what to eat, drink and wear or what God has called me to do while God may be calling you to do something else. God used this disagreement to double the missionary taskforce. What started out as one taskforce ended up being two. However, they were in perfect harmony with the theology, work, mission and the Word of God: to teach people to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get their eternal life.

But Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.  And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the ekklēsia

They went about strengthening the “ekklēsia” to remain away from the church and to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus. They could not be members of the official, organized and traditional church and be followers of Jesus. “Jesus told him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:62. We must be careful that we do not imitate Lot’s wife. If you are looking back to your church, you are not fit for the kingdom of God. Jesus never belonged to a church. He belonged to His Father and obeyed every word that came from His Father. We must follow in His footsteps.

Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.  He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.

Nothing there about the “Jewish woman” belonging to a church or denomination. She was simply a “believer” in Jesus. She had been ekklēsia, “called out”, of her church and was now following Jesus. She had raised her son in the Old Testament, as Paul would continue to instruct Timothy. He had learned of the Ten Commandments from birth and was raised to live in strict obedience to them. That is all that counted. He had not even been circumcised. They understood the difference between living righteously for Jesus and living for the church symbols, rituals, feast days and services that pointed to the Messiah. Now that the Messiah had come, only the righteous Ten Commandments were to be obeyed.

Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 

Paul did not circumcise Timothy in order to belong to any church or organization. He merely did it to pacify some Jews who knew of Timothy and His father. Paul did not want to cause any undo animosity. As he stated many times, we are to live at peace with all around us as long as we do not break the Ten Commandments. As Paul said, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but obeying God’s commandments is everything.” 1 Corinthians 7:19.

As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the ekklēsia were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if men and women today would go on their way delivering the Word of the Lord to strengthen the faith of the ekklēsia? But instead, we go to church listening to nothing that has anything to do with our eternal life. God has called us out. Read it in Revelation: “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out (ekklēsia) of her, My people, so that you don’t participate in her sins and also suffer from her diseases.’” Revelation 18:4. You cannot go to heaven disobeying Jesus. The “her” is the church system of today. It doesn’t matter what day that church system observes, they have all fallen. Unless, of course, you can show me where there are no sinners in your church system.

And let me make this very plain right now. The ekklēsia was not for sinners. In order to belong to the ekklēsia you had to stop sinning. That was the whole point of the ekklēsia. People today say, oh, churches are for sinners. Well, if your church is full of “sinners”, there are no Christians there. Paul taught that bad company corrupts good character. It doesn’t matter if that bad company is in your church, get out.

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.  And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.  So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 

There is a war going on. A war that is mightier and more terrible than any of the wars ever fought by man on earth. God is the commander on the ekklēsia side of the war. The devil on the church side. God knows when, how, where and the time to “strike”. At this time, Asia was off limits. It wasn’t their time to hear the gospel. There were hearts elsewhere ready and willing to accept the ekklēsia message.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

The truth is so obvious that we often miss it. We have been so brainwashed by the Catholic system of church we read right over the truth and put in its place the indoctrination we have received from our churches. First, it wasn’t the “church” that sent or called for Paul to go to Macedonia. It was the Spirit of God giving Paul the message to go. Paul was living the ekklēsia life and therefore was able to be instructed by God. Paul didn’t have to send to Jerusalem asking for their permission or advice. Paul, as every member of the ekklēsia, was instructed by God. Are you living the ekklēsia life, so the Spirit of God can instruct you as to where to go and who to speak with?

And when Paul went, he understood he was not to teach or preach about a church or denomination. He did not teach them to be obedient to any leaders in Jerusalem. He preached “the gospel to them”. Are you teaching church and denomination or the gospel as Jesus taught it?

So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 

When the Spirit of God dictated and directed the book, “Change Your Life Biblically”, He let me know that I would now be His and under His direction. I would go where He would lead and speak what He commanded. Within six years He moved the ministry four times. At each specific time He had a place specifically prepared for the ministry. I praise God He has “permanently” settled us here for now. It gets harder and harder to move as I get older, and as the ministry accumulates more and more equipment.

As Paul “remained in this city some days”, so this ministry is remaining here until the Lord commands us to move. But unlike Paul, from here we have the tools to reach the world with the gospel. I think Paul would be very jealous of the reach this ministry has today. I am amazed that this ministry, as I write this, is able to reach over 10,000 people around the world each day.

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 

Paul still kept the 7th-day, Saturday Sabbath. He never taught that it was done away with. It is embodied in the middle of the Ten Commandments. To remove it would be to break apart the Commandments that are the foundation of God’s throne and His character. Whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, “Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the law of the LORD.” Psalm 119:1. “For all your commandments are right.” Psalm 119:172. He cannot change His character or the law of His government. He was a keeper of the Ten Commandments in every aspect of His life. He lived what he taught: The Gospel.

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 

Here he found a lady who did not belong to any religion or denomination or church. However, she was, like Cornelius, a “worshiper of God”. God saw her heart and moved Paul to take a trip of over one hundred miles to give her the Gospel. How far have you gone to give the gospel?

And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. 

How many “Christians” today are willing to open up their homes to traveling ministers and preachers of the gospel? Not many evangelists or ministers would even be willing to humble themselves to stay at “common” people’s homes. No, the TV evangelists and preachers have jets to fly them over the common people to their many mansions. I don’t think they are of God. Not very Jesus like.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 

The devil is hard at work keeping people away from God. Divination, fortunetelling, Ouija boards and working of miracles are not of God if the end result does not bring people to repentance, humiliation and obedience to the Ten Commandments.

She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 

Even if the evil spirit is “telling the truth”, it is not from God. The devil uses churches to teach a “truth” in such a way as to actually bring disrepute to the truth. (2 Peter 3:16). So be very careful. The truth of God brings us to our knees in repentance and obedience. The devil’s “truth” is only a show and causes nothing but commotion and distraction from God’s truth.

And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 

The evil spirit was causing problems. It became the show and distraction so that Paul was not able to accomplish the work God had called him to. Therefore, it was time to put an end to the “show” and calm down the evil spirits. The people needed to know and see the true Spirit of God at work.

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 

Those ministers, pastors and churches who gain their livelihood from their evil churches are not pleased when the power of God is revealed. They seize God’s messengers, who would bring down their profitable schemes, and do all in their power to destroy them. This ministry is constantly confronted by those who hate the truth for exposing their fraudulent activities.

And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city.  They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”  The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 

The world hates truth. Those of us who maintain the truth in our lives are a source of irritation to the wicked. They try to marginalize us, overpower us and destroy us. But the truth cannot be destroyed. It can only be exulted. As we take the blows from the enemies of truth, the eyes of the deceived will be opened. Our lives will be the seed to bring forth much fruit.

Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 

No matter what the persecution in our lives, no matter what the bonds that are placed upon us, God will always provide a way of escape. We are not to serve ourselves. In trials, tribulations and persecutions we are to open our hearts up to the Lord and sing His praises. Through all difficulties, His presence will be with us. All we need to do is wait patiently with a song in our hearts and He will open the doors to every problem. We serve God. Our lives are to reveal the character of God. It is not a “truth” that the world needs, it is a life that “lives the truth” that is needed in the world today. Stop griping and complaining and start praising.

When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 

The world does not see or understand the power of God. The “common” people are being deceived. They are used as pawns by the devil. Many do not understand the “open doors” in their lives and may be inclined to “draw the sword” against themselves.

But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 

Paul did not hold anything against the jailer. The jailer was simply doing his duty in ignorance. Paul did not condemn him. He did not find satisfaction in watching the man draw his sword to kill himself. Paul worked for Jesus. Paul’s mission was to save life. The jailer was not responsible for the suffering of Paul. The devil was. Paul saw behind the spiritual curtain and would not let the jailer harm himself for the devil’s delight.

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 

If we live our lives as Jesus did, perfect, sinless and commandment keeping, many will come with trembling and fear to fall down before us asking, “What must I do to be saved?” Will you be ready to put aside your selfish pride, wounded ego and pain to give them the right answer? Are you living so close to Jesus that the wounds and bruises of this world can be brushed off in order to see the soul that is longing for salvation?

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 

They “spoke the Word of the Lord” to the jailer and his whole household. Do you know how to speak the “Word of the Lord”? That is what is meant by “Believe in the Lord Jesus”. We are to believe in every word that Jesus commanded us. We are to live our lives “on every word coming out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. Nothing is to stand in the way of your believing in the Lord Jesus and what He commands you to do for your eternal life. Paul did not tell the jailer and his household how to be church members. He did not teach them how to observe the ceremonies, services, customs, traditions and feast days. He didn’t tell them they were saved by grace. All they needed was the Word of the Lord to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get their eternal life. So simple, so easy.

And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.  Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. 

That is the true example of a converted soul. It isn’t going to church. It isn’t about what doctrines to believe. It isn’t about being baptized. He proved his conversion by the love and tender compassion shown to their wounds and needs. He fed them and washed their wounds. He truly “believed in God”. Do you believe in God?

But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.”  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 

Paul did not want his actions to be looked upon as cowardly or incriminating. He had done nothing wrong and was not about to let the devil win. In a loving way, yet in a legal and right way, he wanted the magistrates to understand that they were in the wrong. Yet, he was not going to condemn them or cause them trouble, he only wanted them to acknowledge their wrong. In that way, the message, and the truths he taught, would be held in high honor. Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against evil.

The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens.  So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.  So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. 

It is amazing how Paul is always encouraging others. No matter how painful his beatings or persecutions, he is always encouraging the people of God to continue in the faith and never to give up. Our little trials and difficulties here are nothing compared to the incomprehensible joy, happiness and reward God has for us in Heaven. Let us never grow tired of living the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life.

“No man can of himself understand his errors. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?’ Jeremiah 17:9. The lips may express a poverty of soul that the heart does not acknowledge. While speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and exalted righteousness. In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness. When we contemplate His purity and excellence, we shall see our own weakness and poverty and defects as they really are. We shall see ourselves lost and hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it will not be through our own goodness, but through God’s infinite grace.” COL 159.

And that was the problem with the “church”. That is why the ekklēsia had to come out. The church did not reveal their errors, defects, poverty of spirit, weakness of character, garments of self-righteousness. The church masked them and presented an outward piety that had nothing to do with the righteousness of Christ. Only by becoming an ekklēsia and coming out of the church and going to Jesus, beholding Christ, will we attain to the true excellence required for Heaven.

Continue to part 8