This was extremely hard news for the Messianic Jews. They had spent their lives in a belief system that separated them from “Gentiles”. It was very hard to believe that God would accept “Gentiles” unless they were first indoctrinated into the Jewish church system. They had been brainwashed into believing that salvation could only be attained by belonging to their Sabbath-keeping organization. They believed all others would be lost.
We, today, have lost the significance of Acts because we believe the same nonsense that the Jews believed. For 1500 years the Catholic system of salvation, adopted from the Jewish and pagan systems, has been indoctrinated into the church systems of every religion: “You must belong to ‘our’ system of rites, rituals, customs and services in order to be saved.” The concept of individual responsibility to God, no matter who you were or where you were, was not understood to the new Jewish converts any more than it is to those who belong to a church today.
So when Peter came to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish followers started arguing with him. They wanted Gentile followers to be circumcised, and they said, “You stayed in the homes of Gentiles, and you even ate with them!”
Even today, church members want to argue with this ministry trying to justify their need to go to church or observe their festivals, feast days and traditions. Church members are just not willing to accept Jesus as the only way for their salvation.
It wasn’t about “circumcision” per se, it was what “circumcision” represented. The act of being “circumcised” meant that the new believing Gentile converts had to be “initiated” into the Jewish religion and accept all its feasts, rituals, services and traditions to be saved. Today we have many rituals and initiations, such as baptism and going to church, in order to affirm new converts that they are in the “right” religion and “saved”. But none of those rituals, initiations, services or traditions will get you into heaven. To get to heaven, all you have to do is live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus: Stop sinning by keeping the Ten Commandments perfectly.
We also have the same mentality, as the Jews back then, with regards to entering the homes of sinners and eating with them. How in the world are we going to reach “sinners” if we do not come close to them in their daily lives? This ministry is on the front lines of the battle, surrounded by “sin”, in order to reach sinners. That is why I must spend hours every day in prayer. As Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you”. And so it is.
Then Peter told them exactly what had happened:
Sometimes it takes a very bold person to stand up and tell the church-going people “exactly what had happened”. But that won’t make them very happy. Especially the leaders of religions, churches and denomination who need members in order to get paid. The last thing they want is to be told “exactly what had happened” when Jesus died on the cross. They want to carry the baggage of church, rituals, traditions and ordinances with it. Old habits are hard to break.
I was in the town of Joppa and was praying when I fell sound asleep and had a vision. I saw heaven open, and something like a huge sheet held by its four corners came down to me. When I looked in it, I saw animals, wild beasts, snakes, and birds.
Just as this vision was “revolting” to Peter, so for the Jews, the thought of God accepting Gentiles without first becoming “members” of their religion, was very hard to swallow!
I heard a voice saying to me, “Peter, get up! Kill these and eat them.” But I said, “Lord, I can’t do that! I’ve never taken a bite of anything that is unclean and not fit to eat.” The voice from heaven spoke to me again, “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.” This happened three times before it was all taken back into heaven.
This is a concept that is extremely hard for members of churches and denomination to accept. They have been so programmed into believing that God works only through their church or denomination they have a very hard time accepting God on His own terms. The problem? We look to our churches and denominations instead of looking to Jesus. We have not spent Sabbaths looking to and learning from Jesus since we sit in church looking to and learning from our denominations. We have given our salvation to our pastors, churches and denominations instead of studying the life of Jesus to see how we are to live. Reading and/or watching church material is far more satisfying than actually studying the Bible.
Suddenly three men from Caesarea stood in front of the house where I was staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry.
If Peter was still a member of his church he would have had to ask his pastor first. But Peter left his church and joined the Spiritual church of Jesus in which the Spirit of God leads, speaks and directs. Because the Spirit of God told Peter to do that which the church forbade, most church members were not willing to accept the fact that the Spirit of God was working through Peter. The same is true in this ministry. This ministry teaches what the Spirit of God is dictating and directing. However, since it does not agree with the accepted teachings of churches and their members, few church members are willing to acknowledge the work of the Spirit of God.
Then six of the Lord’s followers went with me to the home of a man who told us that an angel had appeared to him. The angel had ordered him to send to Joppa for someone named Simon Peter. Then Peter would tell him how he and everyone in his house could be saved.
Even though the Centurion was loved and highly regarded by God, he wasn’t “saved”. “Doing good” will not save you. Lots of wicked people “do good”. Lots of churches do “good”. But none of that will get you into heaven. To get to heaven we must do the “works of God”. We must do “good” according to God’s plan, not your plan or your church’s plan. In order for Cornelius to be saved he had to learn the truth and method for his salvation from an independent, not a church.
After I started speaking, the Holy Spirit was given to them, just as the Spirit had been given to us at the beginning. I remembered that the Lord had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Being baptized with water into your church will not save you. Only by being baptized with the Holy Spirit can we have salvation. What the Spirit of God does is bring to our minds a knowledge of our sins. He reveals to us how filthy we are and how to change our lives. We cannot be saved in our churches or in our sins. Only by letting the Spirit of God teach us how to live the sinless, Ten Commandment life, perfectly, will we have salvation.
Since the “truth” of salvation was so very different from the traditional teachings of the church, Jesus gave a physical manifestation to the disciples: the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This way, when they were in “doubt” as to what to believe, God could “remind” them by giving the sign over and over again, as needed, until they understood the “present truth”.
Today, having the truth so plainly laid out in the Bible, we do not need “signs and wonders”. All we need is to surrender our will to the truth and live it. But most have surrendered their will to their church and therefore are not willing to test their church by the truth that is plainly laid out in Scripture.
God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So how could I have gone against God?
You see, Peter and the other disciples knew, and had been taught from birth, of the Ten Commandments. The church made sure they had them memorized and even had them written on tassels and door posts. What the church could not do was put the Ten Commandments into the heart. Only the Spirit of God can do that. By putting their “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” they were dedicating themselves to obedience to Jesus and His teachings. By accepting the teachings of Jesus to live the sinless, perfect and commandment keeping life, the Spirit of God was then able to reveal to them their sins and show them how to overcome and be obedient to Jesus. It was a choice: put your faith in the church or put your faith in Jesus. By putting your faith and obedience in Jesus, you were then able to transform your life and become a “new creature”.
When they heard Peter say this, they stopped arguing and started praising God. They said, “God has now let Gentiles turn to him, and he has given life to them!”
God is no respecter of persons. All who turn to Jesus, not church, will be given life. It is time to get out of your church and turn to Jesus, believing in Him when He says that you must live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life.
Some of the Lord’s followers had been scattered because of the terrible trouble that started when Stephen was killed. They went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they told the message only to the Jews.
Most churches today are only looking for “good church people” to “convert” to their own church. I call it “musical church pews”. We want the “good upstanding” church members sitting in our pews, therefore we go out recruiting members from other churches. That is why God raised up this ministry, to teach the message to “Gentiles”: inmates, murders, rapists, thieves and other “horrible” sinners who have no church affiliation. They don’t look too good sitting in most church pews. But I see them not as they are, but as Jesus sees them, sinners who can be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Sinners who can become pure, sinless, perfect and commandment keeping through the power of the Spirit of God.
Some of the followers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and started telling Gentiles the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s power was with them, and many people turned to the Lord and put their faith in him.
And so it is today, many inmates and the unchurched are turning to the Lord and putting their faith in Jesus. They are learning how to live as Jesus commands them. Their lives are changed and they no longer walk around with old, tattered garments stained with sin. Now they walk around with the spotless robe of Christ’s perfect character.
News of what was happening reached the ekklēsia in Jerusalem. Then they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
You must keep in mind, the “church in Jerusalem” was not a “church” by our concepts of today. The word “church” has drastically changed over two thousand years. Just as the word “gay” has changed over the last hundred years. The concept of “church” back then was a gathering of people who had “come out” of the established church and were meeting to encourage each other in living the sinless, perfect and commandment keeping life. Barnabas was not a “church leader”. He was not “ordained” by the church. He was not a “paid” pastor. He simply had the ability, at that time, to go to Antioch and encourage them to remain faithful and obedient to Jesus by being sinless, perfect and commandment keeping. Besides, Antioch was just a jump-skip-and-a-hop away from his country, Cyprus.
When Barnabas got there and saw what God had been kind enough to do for them, he was very glad. So he begged them to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts.
He did not teach them how to keep the holy days, feast days or how to be a good “church member”. He simply instructed people to turn to the Lord and live in obedience to His teachings. And do keep in mind, remaining “faithful to the Lord” included all the teachings of Jesus in the Old Testament that pertained to eternal life.
Barnabas was a good man of great faith, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Many more people turned to the Lord.
He was a “man of great faith”; not church membership. He was filled “with the Holy Spirit”; not church doctrine, rituals, services and feast days. “Many more people” would turn to the Lord today if we had more Spirit filled people and fewer people filled with church.
Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. He found Saul and brought him to Antioch, where they met with the ekklēsia for a whole year and taught many of its people. There in Antioch the Lord’s followers were first called Christians.
Saul had returned home to Tarsus to empty himself of his old church habits and learn more of this new life Jesus offered. Tarsus was a city of notoriety. It was a city that valued education, hence, Paul was a very educated man. It had the reputation as being the place Mark Antony and Cleopatra first met. Therefore, when Paul was being carried into the barracks by the Roman soldiers, Paul stated, “I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city”. Act 21:39. God had Paul picked from birth. We have a God we can trust, knowing He has our lives under His control if we will obey Him in all things.
Let’s see, they were not called “New Jews” or “Messianic Jews” or “Seventh-day Adventists” or any other denominational name. They did not organize themselves into a “religion” with a “legal” name. It was actually non-believers, the pagans, who attached the derogatory term “Christian” to them. Why? Because they followed Jesus by living in obedience to every word and command He had taught. They lived “like Jesus”.
Today, we have no idea how to live “like Jesus”. We have no idea how to live as a “Christian”. For most, “Christian” means going to church and “believing” that a man named “Jesus” lived about two thousand years ago. How disappointed they will be when He comes back to claim those who actually do live as He lived: perfect, sinless and commandment keeping. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.
Today, evangelists may spend a week or so in an area hyping up the people to join their church under the guise of loving Jesus. Usually, they do their hyping on radio, the internet or TV so their private lives cannot be seen. Paul and Barnabas spent a year, not just teaching, but showing by their examples how to live the perfect, righteous and sinless life. Preachers today wouldn’t dare let the people see their examples. None are living as Jesus lived.
During this time some prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch.
When was the last time you were visited by a “living” prophet? God is not dead. He still has His prophets. But churches don’t want God’s prophets; they have church leaders with degrees and honors. They must be far more knowledgeable and important than some funky “prophet” sent by the Lord. Right?
One of them was Agabus. Then with the help of the Spirit, he told that there would be a terrible famine everywhere in the world. And it happened when Claudius was Emperor. The followers in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the followers in Judea. So they had Barnabas and Saul take their gifts to the ekklēsia leaders in Jerusalem.
Here is an important concept we are missing completely. Churches and denominations today are using their funds to “bribe” people into becoming members of their churches. We send people out to the pagans to build them wells, schools, hospitals and provide them with food and shelter. But the “Christians” of Antioch did not form bread lines for the pagans who would be affected by the famine. God’s money is to be used for “His” people. That is why so many Gentiles, pagans and Jews became Christians, they saw the brotherly love and support given to each other. The early Christians took care of their own and those who taught the teachings of Jesus to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. The pagan world could take care of its own.
And yes, when they sent their funds to the leaders in Jerusalem, they knew their money would not be used to build churches, schools or hospitals with big salaries to go along with them. The funds would be used to feed and care for the poor Christians who were in need.
At that time King Herod caused terrible suffering for some members of the ekklēsia. He ordered soldiers to cut off the head of James, the brother of John. When Herod saw that this pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested during the Festival of Thin Bread. He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to put him on trial in public after the festival.
The sad fact is, it is the organized religions, churches and denominations that love to be “pleased” by the civil government. If the organized religions, churches and denominations can’t get their way, just have the civil government provide a little “encouragement”. How Christian! But then again, those “offshoots” and “independent” religious nuts can’t be of God, can they? They must be destroyed since they don’t belong to “our” church.
While Peter was being kept in jail, the church never stopped praying to God for him.
We should never stop praying. This ministry is in constant need of your prayers. I pray many times a day for all of JCPM’s family: inmates, donors and online community. We cannot meet the powers of the world alone. We must have the help and support of God’s power. The “rules” are simple, God gives freedom of will. He can’t intervene unless we ask Him. But if I am not able to intervene on my own behalf, God can intervene at the request of others. So pray hard and sincerely.
The night before Peter was to be put on trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. A soldier was guarding him on each side, and two other soldiers were guarding the entrance to the jail.
The devil tried very hard to keep me in prison. But through obedience, fasting and prayer, God opened the door for me and let me out. He had a mission for me and the devil was not allowed to keep me from it. All I had to do was live in obedience to Jesus. For almost 22 years now, the Lord has been fending off the devil.
Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared, and light flashed around in the cell. The angel poked Peter in the side and woke him up. Then he said, “Quick! Get up!” The chains fell off his hands, and the angel said, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” Peter did what he was told. Then the angel said, “Now put on your coat and follow me.”
God sends His angels in many forms and ways. Here, in the cell with Peter, it appears that a bright light flashed with the angel. The angels who visited Lot, they appeared as “normal” travelers. The angel that appeared to my son and I was very “normal”, but unmistakably an angel. I only wish my son had listened to the angel and had taken what was said to heart. Fortunately, Peter listened and obeyed.
Peter left with the angel, but he thought everything was only a dream. They went past the two groups of soldiers, and when they came to the iron gate to the city, it opened by itself. They went out and were going along the street, when all at once the angel disappeared. Peter now realized what had happened, and he said, “I am certain that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod and from everything the Jewish leaders planned to do to me.”
There will come a time, just before us now, when church members, religions, denominations and society will hate those of us who follow Jesus. Our lives of purity, righteousness and obedience to Jesus will not be tolerated by the churches. They will enlist the help of the civil government to destroy us.
Then Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John whose other name was Mark. Many of the Lord’s followers had come together there and were praying.
They were meeting, not in a church building, but in a home. We need to get out of our churches and begin turning our homes into sanctuaries for the Spirit of God. The Spirit has left the churches. They don’t want Him. So go home and open it up to those who truly want to live and pray for the Spirit of God.
Powerful is the work of home meetings that are spontaneous and not a church organized function. John Mark learned to love the Lord because of the influence of the home-church. He was the one who went with Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey. Yes, he was young and got discouraged, but Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, soon overcame his discouragement and joined Barnabas on many more missionary trips. It is believed that the book of “Mark” was written by John Mark, as Peter dictated to him from a prison cell.
Peter knocked on the gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. When she heard Peter’s voice, she was too excited to open the gate. She ran back into the house and said that Peter was standing there. “You are crazy!” everyone told her. But she kept saying that it was Peter. Then they said, “It must be his angel.”
I understand this perfectly. How often I have prayed for something very hard, but when it came about, I truly did not believe that God had answered such an “impossible” prayer. How thankful I am that God keeps “knocking” until I realize He truly is answering my prayers and I open the door.
But Peter kept on knocking, until finally they opened the gate. They saw him and were completely amazed. Peter motioned for them to keep quiet. Then he told how the Lord had led him out of jail. He also said, “Tell James and the others what has happened.” After that, he left and went somewhere else.
I wonder how many of us would be asking to borrow a car, or asking someone to let us stay at their home, etc. Many church members today are so selfish, all they think about is themselves. But Peter was not willing to put anyone in danger. He “left and went somewhere else”.
The next morning the soldiers who had been on guard were terribly worried and wondered what had happened to Peter. Herod ordered his own soldiers to search for him, but they could not find him. Then he questioned the guards and had them put to death. After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.
Pride, arrogance and ego are all the result of wickedness. Eventually, the “little” sins church members slide over lead to pain, suffering, misery and death. That is why God hates all sins. No sinner will be in heaven. Only saints will be in heaven. God kicked out sinners and He will not let another one in. We must change our lives now. It isn’t the big, bad sins shown on the nightly news that God is so concerned about, it is the little sins. The big, bad sinners God is most concerned about are the little ones sitting in church looking so pious and righteous. Those who are all dressed up, singing the “Christian” songs and looking righteous - but inside they are full of deadman’s bones: ego, pride, opinions and “my way”.
Herod was full of pride. He was so full of himself he was not willing to humble himself before God. In order to gain the praise of the people, he killed. Our churches are no different. Oh, they may not be shedding “blood” at this time, but their attitudes are the same. We need to get out of our churches before it is too late. Do not let your pride, ego and arrogance keep you in church.
Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon were very angry with each other. But their country got its food supply from the region that he ruled. So a group of them went to see Blastus, who was one of Herod’s high officials. They convinced Blastus that they wanted to make peace between their cities and Herod, and a day was set for them to meet with him. Herod came dressed in his royal robes. He sat down on his throne and made a speech.
The people of the world are more concerned about making peace with the world than they are with God. Yet man is but a breath, dust that only God can keep alive. If we claim to be “Christian”, our duty lies, not in trying to make peace with the world, but making sure we are at peace with God. The only way to have peace with God is through obedience to His Ten Commandments. Why is it so hard for “Christians” to understand it? However, Herod did not control their food supply as they had thought. God did. Herod couldn’t even keep himself alive.
The people shouted, “You speak more like a god than a man!” At once an angel from the Lord struck him down because he took the honor that belonged to God. Later, Herod was eaten by worms and died.
We work so hard for the things of this world. We encourage our children to mortgage their lives away on expensive education. We encourage our children to strive for worldly greatness. We encourage our children to make it “big” in the world. We take expensive vacations. What for? We do not know what tomorrow will bring, and yet our churches refuse to teach members what really counts: humility, kindness, love, service and obedience to God’s laws. No, our churches teach us to “go to church” and live as the church teaches you and all is well.
God’s message kept spreading.
The things and ambitions of the world will not last. But God and His truth will keep spreading. Whose side are you on?
And after Barnabas and Saul had done the work they were sent to do, they went back to Jerusalem with John, whose other name was Mark.
They were not in it for the glory. They were not looking for accolades. They were not in it to get their names in the church paper. They didn’t use this excursion as a stepping stone to some higher office. They were servants of God, that’s it! Servants don’t get the glory, the Master of the house does. We only facilitate the Master.
The ekklēsia at Antioch had several prophets and teachers. They were Barnabas, Simeon, also called Niger, Lucius from Cyrene, Manaen, who was Herod’s close friend, and Saul.
How many “prophets” does your church have? None living? Why? Unless your God is dead, or your church isn’t living in obedience to the commands of Jesus, you would have prophets in your church. And don’t pat yourself on your back just yet thinking you have “teachers”. Those teachers are not of God. The devil has “teachers” in your church. Why? Because anyone who is teaching anything that contradicts the teachings of Jesus to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life, is of the devil. The teachings of Jesus, not about Jesus, was what the teachers back then were teaching. When they taught about Jesus, they were teaching the people how to live as Jesus lived and taught. Is that what your church and denomination is doing?
While they were worshiping the Lord and going without eating, the Holy Spirit told them, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have chosen them.”
You see, it isn’t about church boards or committees or councils, it is about the Holy Spirit. Is your church listening to the Spirit of God? If so, you will be living in obedience to the teachings of Jesus. If not, you will be living in obedience to your church. The Spirit has a work for each of you to do. He was sent by Jesus to call me to this work. I listened and have been living in obedience to that calling ever since. Who are you listening to?
Everyone prayed and went without eating for a while longer. Next, they placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul to show that they had been appointed to do this work. Then everyone sent them on their way.
This was not a service where the haughty pastor and elders put on a show. We have way too much of that going on in our churches. No, this was everyone gathered in the assembly. They all went without eating while they prayed. Each person was looking into himself to see if there was any sin standing in the way of God’s work. Then all of them “placed their hands” on them. The placing of their hands did not “bring” the Spirit to Paul and Barnabas. It simply acknowledged that they understood the will of the Spirit of God. They were working in harmony with the Spirit. Is your church working in harmony with the Spirit of God?After Barnabas and Saul had been sent by the Holy Spirit, they went to Seleucia. From there they sailed to the island of Cyprus.
Why Cyprus? Because Barnabas was from there. He knew it. He had family there. They could build a base of support there from which they would be able to push the gospel farther out.
They arrived at Salamis and began to preach God’s message in the Jewish meeting places. They also had John as a helper.
Seldom is “God’s message” taught anymore. We teach a Mormon message, or a Jehovah’s Witness message, or a Baptist’s message, or a Seventh-day Adventist’s message, etc. and we claim it is all from the Bible. But that is not what the apostles did. They went out teaching the message from God to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. All they were doing was following the example of their Master. And what was the example of Jesus? “And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” Luke 9:6. And what was the gospel they taught? “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. “Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” John 5:14. “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17. Is your church teaching you the “gospel” taught by Jesus?
Barnabas and Saul went all the way to the city of Paphos on the other end of the island, where they met a Jewish man named Bar-Jesus. He practiced witchcraft and was a false prophet.
Interesting, isn’t it, that the “false prophet” was not a pagan, but a member of the established “church”: a Jew. The majority of “false prophets” in the world today are not outside the “Christian” church, but firmly established in the “Christian” churches and denominations. Most of what the “Christian” churches teach today is from “witchcraft” and paganism. Even if you go to church on the seventh-day of the week, like Bar-Jesus. The devil is not choosy as to which day you go to church on so long as you teach the “witchcraft” of “Saved by Grace” and “Unconditional love of God” and “Can’t be perfect” and of course Easter, Christmas and other abominations. Is your church practicing and teaching “witchcraft”?
He also worked for Sergius Paulus, who was very smart and was the governor of the island. Sergius Paulus wanted to hear God’s message, and he sent for Barnabas and Saul.
Many smart and intelligent people want to hear God’s message. However, there are few putting out God’s message. God’s message is very hard to find among the rubbish of “witchcraft” being taught in the churches.
But Bar-Jesus, whose other name was Elymas, was against them. He even tried to keep the governor from having faith in the Lord. I come across this all the time. From inmates to church members, so many are trying to keep people from “having faith in the Lord”. No, they want you to have faith in their church, denomination, feast days, services, traditions, themselves and anything else to keep you away from this ministry and “God’s message”.
Then Saul, better known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked straight at Elymas and said, “You son of the devil! You are a liar, a crook, and an enemy of everything that is right. When will you stop speaking against the true ways of the Lord? The Lord is going to punish you by making you completely blind for a while.” Suddenly the man’s eyes were covered by a dark mist, and he went around trying to get someone to lead him by the hand.
Every single person who comes in contact with this ministry is warned, as Paul warned Elymas. Over the years I have seen the results of those warnings. Those who reject this ministry, and the teachings God has and is giving through it, have great troubles in their lives. But those who humble themselves and accept this ministry, live it, promote it and support it, their lives are so blessed.
When the governor saw what had happened, he was amazed at this teaching about the Lord. So he put his faith in the Lord.
There are many out there who also are becoming very aware of this supernatural phenomenon. There are those who have seen their lives fall apart after separating themselves from this ministry. Some have repented and returned to the Lord, while others are very hardheaded and stiff-nicked and refuse the mercy of God. But those who love this ministry, supporting it and promoting it, their lives are blessed. I love hearing of the healings, blessings and the prayers that are answered.
Paul and the others left Paphos and sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. But John left them and went back to Jerusalem.
Many have also left this ministry. I pray that they will return and find the joy in serving Jesus. I want them to be saved, but unless they surrender their lives to “God’s message”, it is not possible. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26, 27.
The rest of them went on from Perga to Antioch in Pisidia. Then on the Sabbath they went to the Jewish meeting place and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders sent someone over to tell Paul and Barnabas, “Friends, if you have anything to say that will help the people, please say it.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the “Law and the Prophets” were actually read in our churches today? Then, after the reading of the “Law and the Prophets”, what a joy it would be if people were to stand up and share “God’s message” with those assembled. But our churches today are all under human authority and control. They are strictly regulated and timed in order to keep “God’s message” from being spoken. They do not want the Spirit of God speaking in their churches. How Catholic.
Paul got up. He motioned with his hand and said: People of Israel, and everyone else who worships God, listen!
How I wish that those who claim to be “Christians” and “worshipers of God” would listen to the message God has given this ministry. But few want to hear the truth about their past. They don’t want to be reminded of their backslidings and downfalls and sins. Instead of facing them and confronting them, they prefer the fantasies the church keeps telling them about the future.
The God of Israel chose our ancestors, and he let our people prosper while they were living in Egypt. Then with his mighty power he led them out, and for about forty years he took care of them in the desert. He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and gave their land to our people.
Paul is relating the fact that God chose Israel as His people. There was no doubt about that in Paul’s mind. He was not contesting that fact. They were called to be God’s people. However, they failed over and over again to let God lead them. They wanted a “man” to lead them.
All this happened in about 450 years. Then God gave our people judges until the time of the prophet Samuel, but the people demanded a king. So for forty years God gave them King Saul, the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin.
God is a God of giving. He gives us what we wish for. It may not be good for us, but if that is what we want, than so be it. However, we will not like the consequences that will come from disobedience.
Later, God removed Saul and let David rule in his place. God said about him, “David the son of Jesse is the kind of person who pleases me most! He does everything I want him to do.” God promised that someone from David’s family would come to save the people of Israel, and that one is Jesus.
Did David make mistakes? Of course. But very few. In all of his life he was dedicated to serving God. So few today are dedicated to serving God. Like King Saul, they are in rebellion against God while fooling themselves into thinking they are serving God. David did as God commanded him. The Bible says that David was perfect his whole life except for one incident. And do not fool yourselves into thinking that David got away with it. He was severely punished with the loss of four of his sons. He had to run for his life. He repented, but his life was never the same afterwards. The point? Do not sin. Do not break God’s commandments. But before Jesus came, John was telling everyone in Israel to turn back to God and be baptized.
That sentence is very important. John, a son of a priest of the church, was raised up to prepare a people for the coming Messiah. What people? Those who claimed to be “God’s people”. Why? Because they were no longer “God’s people”. They had fallen so far God had to raise up John the Baptist to warn the church people “to turn back to God”. John did not teach them to become better church members or to turn back to church. Same in our churches today. The ones who claim to be “of God” are the ones this ministry has been sent to “turn back to God”. But they are not listening any more than the church of John’s day listened to him.
Then, when John’s work was almost done, he said, “Who do you people think I am? Do you think I am the Promised One? He will come later, and I am not good enough to untie his sandals.”
While the people were looking to praise a man or glorify a man, John was not willing to accept any of it. He was simply discharging his God-given duty. But our churches today won’t stand for that. They want fame, glory and hundreds and thousands of members. Instead of pointing people to Jesus, they point to themselves, their churches or denominations. How “antichrist”.
Now listen, you descendants of Abraham! Pay attention, all of you Gentiles who are here to worship God! Listen to this message about how to be saved, because it is for everyone.
I wonder if you are actually listening to this. Very few pastors or churches will teach you truth. They avoid most of this. They only pick and choose a text here and a text there, taking them out of context, to “prove” their point. But Paul is pulling no punches here. He is punching the “people of God” fully in the face in an attempt to wake them up. These were the “Seventh-day Adventists” of his day. These were the people God had raised up to convert the world. But here is Paul telling them they needed to “Listen to this message about how to be saved”.
God has sent this ministry to the churches, and especially to those who claim to keep the Sabbath, in order to punch them in the face to the fact that they need to “listen to this message about how to be saved”. But they refuse, as the Jews did. The church organizations do not want to upset, in any way, their money making systems.
The people of Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t realize who Jesus was. And they didn’t understand the words of the prophets that they read each Sabbath. So they condemned Jesus just as the prophets had said.
It is amazing how the denomination which was raised up by God in the 1840’s no longer “understand the words of the prophets that they read each Sabbath”. They have completely rejected them. Today, they are the Laodiceans. They are the ones who are asleep. They are the ones who have joined all the other churches and denominations in apostatizing. They have done today what the church did back then, they are condemning Jesus by rejecting those of use He has sent to teach them “how to be saved”.
They did exactly what the Scriptures said they would. Even though they couldn’t find any reason to put Jesus to death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. After Jesus had been put to death, he was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb.
Even today, the churches, all of them, are doing “exactly what the Scriptures said they would”. They are rejecting God and His truth. They are persecuting His prophets and servants. They are aligning themselves with the civil government to condemn those of us sent by God. They want to put us to death and place us in a tomb. They ostracize us from speaking the truth in their churches and meetings. They hate the truth and put in its place their own interpretations and meanings.
But God raised him from death! Then for many days Jesus appeared to his followers who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Now they are telling our people about him.
But God is raising His truth up. This little ministry, so small, so insignificant, is reaching the world with “God’s message”. Little by little, as John’s message was sent out little by little, people are becoming aware of “God’s message”. Will you join Jesus in “telling our people about Him”? Will you take this message to your family, your church, your neighborhood, your city and proclaim it? Or are the habits you have formed in church too strong for you to break? The Jews were not willing to give up their habits.
God made a promise to our ancestors. And we are here to tell you the good news that he has kept this promise to us. It is just as the second Psalm says about Jesus, “You are my son because today I have become your Father.”
Again, the disciples were not telling the people to join a church or become members of any set of doctrines. They were teaching Jesus and Jesus only.
God raised Jesus from death and will never let his body decay. It is just as God said, “I will make to you the same holy promise that I made to David.” And in another psalm it says, “God will never let the body of his Holy One decay.” When David was alive, he obeyed God. Then after he died, he was buried in the family grave, and his body decayed.
Wow, “When David was alive, he obeyed God”. Do you obey God? Do you live in obedience to the Ten Commandments? Are you living the perfect, righteous and sinless life as David did? Yes, he made one mistake in his later life. He also paid for that sin. But his life was dedicated to obedience to God and in every other aspect of his life, he “obeyed God”. Are you obeying Jesus or your church?
If the Jews had been listening to David, they would have known Jesus. Jesus came and lived the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. But the church would have none of it. They wanted a Messiah to come and praise their church, defend their church, bring members into their church and to promote their church. They wanted honor, glory and recognition. Jesus came as a servant and glorified only His Father and the Ten Commandments. That is why the church killed Him.
But God raised Jesus from death, and his body did not decay. My friends, the message is that Jesus can forgive your sins! The Law of Moses could not set you free from all your sins.
You see, you have to separate “The Law of Moses” from the “Law of God”. Paul was a scholar of the Bible. He knew the Jewish economy inside and out. He knew there were four basic laws God gave to Moses to give to Israel. The first and foremost were the Ten Commandments, the moral law. These ten were Spoken by God, not only to Moses, but also to the people and written by the finger of God and given to Moses to disseminate to the world for man’s salvation. Right after repeating the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, just before entering the promised land, Moses told them, “And it (Ten Commandments) will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.” Deuteronomy 6:25. The Ten Commandments are righteous and holy and can never be abolished. They were to be given to the whole world by Israel for salvation. By keeping them we get our eternal life. Matthew 19:17.
The other three “Laws” were written by Moses to give to the people of Israel as a nation and had nothing to do with the salvation of the world: 1) Health laws, 2) Civil laws, 3) Temple laws. Those three laws were only for Israel as a nation. They had nothing to do with salvation. They were called, “Laws of Moses” because he wrote them. But the church preferred putting on a show of obedience by making these three laws more important than the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments had to do with character and heart work, which was very hard to “see”. So the church decided to make the “visible” more important since all could see what you were eating, drinking or wearing and if you went to temple (church) or not. And of course, the civil laws were important for the Israelites as a nation in order to keep them “civil” in their actions towards one another. All governments need civil laws to keep order.
Therefore, when Paul talks about doing away with “law”, he is only talking about those three fundamental laws that had to do with Israel as a nation and the temple laws which pointed to the Messiah. Since the nation of Israel was in the process of ceasing to exist, the civil laws were no longer needed. They were now ruled by Rome. Since the Messiah had come, the temple laws of shadows were no longer needed. The health laws are always good, but they have nothing to do with eternal life.
Only the Ten Commandments were left. That is why Paul states that “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” 1 Corinthians 7:19. That is all that was needed for salvation. In fact, that is all that was needed for salvation since Adam. Nothing has changed. Therefore, Paul is reminding the Jews that the “laws of Moses”, those given by Moses for Israel as a nation, were not able to save anyone. Only the Ten Commandments can save us. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. Those “good works” were the Ten Commandments.
Now, however, the wages of sin is death. Since all had sinned, how were they to be saved. The Jews turned the “Laws of Moses”, the laws that only pertained to Israel as a nation, into salvation laws. They thought they could “work” their way into heaven by the external keeping of the civil, health and temple laws. These “works” are what Paul decried as being “legalistic”. They could not save you. Not even the sacrifice of the lamb could save them. It simply pointed to the Messiah that was to come to take the place of the sinner’s death. But that could only happen if the sinner repented of his sin, turned away from it and refused to sin again, looking to the Messiah to take the place of his penalty for the sin. Therefore, Paul says:
But everyone who has faith in Jesus is set free.
Yes, we are free from sin that destroys us. Jesus, if we look to Him as the “Lamb of God” who gave His life for us, would take away our penalty for sins. But we have to rid ourselves of that sin. Jesus will take the penalty of death if we remove the sin. We are not free of the Ten Commandments, we are free from the penalty of sin which is death. “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” Romans 6:7. If we die to our old sinful life, we are free from sin and its penalty. But the death of Christ did not abolish the Ten Commandments. Our faith in Jesus upholds the Law. “Do we, then, abolish the Law by this faith? Of course not! Instead, we uphold the Law.” Romans 3:31. “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. Jesus fulfilled the Ten Commandments and He requires us to also fulfill them in our lives by following His example.
This is why it is so important to understand what “law” Paul is talking about when he is talking about “law”. Never take a text of Paul when he talks about doing away with Law and apply it to the Ten Commandments. That is why Peter said that some topics “in all (Paul’s) letters . . . are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, leading to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:16.
Make sure that what the prophets have said doesn’t happen to you. They said, “Look, you people who make fun of God! Be amazed and disappear. I will do something today that you won’t believe, even if someone tells you about it!”
Make sure that what the prophets have said doesn’t happen to you, either. God has put curses on those who reject His Ten Commandments. He has put blessings on those who keep them. Don’t listen to the “ignorant and unstable people who distort” them. Get out of your church now if it is distorting and making fun of living the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life.
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the meeting, the people begged them to say more about these same things on the next Sabbath. After the service, many Jews and a lot of Gentiles who worshiped God went with them. Paul and Barnabas begged them all to remain faithful to God, who had been so kind to them.
When inmates first receive material from this ministry, most rejoice and are glad to hear it. But then they begin to get blowback from those around them. The same goes with a lot of church members who first receive the truth from this ministry. Instead of listening to Jesus, they listen to those around them and soon they fade away to destruction.
The next Sabbath almost everyone in town came to hear the message about the Lord. When the Jewish people saw the crowds, they were very jealous. They insulted Paul and spoke against everything he said.
The sad part is, just as it was “God’s people” who were “very jealous” so it is today. The church God raised up in the 1840’s to preach “God’s message” now fights against it. It insults this ministry and does all in its power to keep people from it. Therefore, God called me to go to inmates, the Gentiles, who are listening and turning their lives over to Jesus.
But Paul and Barnabas bravely said: We had to tell God’s message to you before we told it to anyone else. But you rejected the message! This proves that you don’t deserve eternal life. Now we are going to the Gentiles. The Lord has given us this command, “I have placed you here as a light for the Gentiles. You are to take the saving power of God to people everywhere on earth.” This message made the Gentiles glad, and they praised what they had heard about the Lord. Everyone who had been chosen for eternal life then put their faith in the Lord. The message about the Lord spread all over that region.
The disciples taught the people to “put their faith in the Lord”. Never did they talk about belonging to a “church” or organization. Jesus and Jesus only was their theme. Those who belonged to a church “proves that you don’t deserve eternal life”.
But the Jewish leaders went to some of the important men in the town and to some respected women who were religious. They turned them against Paul and Barnabas and started making trouble for them. They even chased them out of that part of the country.
Yes, I have been chased out of many churches. Even thrown out. It is always the “important men” of the church. The doctors, lawyers and people with money who need the church organization to bolster their pride and ego. It is the “religious” who hate the truth. The “religious” go to church, the righteous go to Jesus.
Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from that place off their feet and went on to the city of Iconium. But the Lord’s followers in Antioch were very happy and were filled with the Holy Spirit.