There is a disease in the world today. It is very easy to catch. It is also very deadly. It is a disease that kills from the inside. It is the “opinion” virus. The devil has sown it widely in the world. It is almost taken for granted that we are entitled to our own virus of opinions. These opinions we have are destroying the soul of man. Lucifer thought it was his “right” to create this virus. He was certain it would bring greater freedoms, peace and joy to the inhabitants of Heaven. He is peddling the same virus here on Earth.
While we shut down a world over a virus that may only kill the body, we refuse to shut down our churches over the “opinion” virus that is killing our souls and keeping us from eternal life. Paul, if I remember correctly, only once in all His writings gave an opinion. However, it was an opinion based on extensive research of the Old Testament and communication with Jesus. It did not go against the principles of eternal life. Moreover, Paul made it plain that the Old Testament was to be studied for our eternal life. The opinion of many churches today is that the Old Testament has nothing to do with our eternal life and all we need is the New Testament. Two very deadly opinions. Paul tells us that the Old Testament, which was written “long ago”, was written for our instruction. Let us listen to Paul as he continues to teach from the Old Testament for our eternal salvation.
Just as a reminder, there was no New Testament until the Catholic Church compiled it three hundred years after Jesus. In other words, all Christians used the Old Testament for instruction in salvation for over three hundred years after Christ. Romans 15:1 to Romans 16:27 Now we who are strong ought to be patient with the weaknesses of those who are not strong and must stop pleasing ourselves. This concept comes directly out of the Old Testament. Paul studied the Old Testament very closely to find every concept that applied to eternal life. Eternal life is not predicated on a theory. It is not predicated on a belief. It is not predicated on an opinion. It is predicated on practical, everyday actions towards those around us. True Christianity is living in obedience that comes from faith. Romans 1:5. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building him up. Today, instead of learning how to please our neighbor, it is all about “ME”. Most church members are in the demolition business. As we look for others to demolish, we display the filth in ourselves. Jesus traveled the land pleasing everyone for the “good purpose of building” them up. Why? Because He studied the Old Testament for His salvation. He lived by it. He built them up by teaching them to live in obedience to the Ten Commandments . Are you in the demolition business or the construction business? For even the Messiah did not please himself. Instead, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” (Psalm 69:9) Jesus came to this planet not for accolades, not for praise, not to be served, but to serve. He built up everyone who would allow Him to. He couldn’t build up the haughty, prideful Pharisees, they would not allow it. But those who came to Him in love and service, He built up and encouraged to live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. He took our insults in order to show us the example of how to live the Ten Commandments. Are you following His example? For everything that was written long ago was written to instruct us, so that we might have hope through the endurance and encouragement that the Scriptures give us. Jesus lived the Old Testament. As the Old Testament (Scriptures) built up and encouraged living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life, so it was revealed in the life of Jesus. Paul took the Old Testament and, through study, found the “hope through the endurance and encouragement that the Scriptures give us”. So it will be revealed in the lives of everyone who claims to be “Christian”. However, there is an “endurance and encouragement” in the Old Testament that many do not see. It encourages us to stay away from sin. It encourages us in the endurance of righteousness to avoid the penalties of sin. Many claim, however, those are not “encouraging” words. They claim those would be a negative. They want to be encouraged in their sins. But the Bible, and Jesus, teach us that we cannot encourage anyone in sin. As Jesus said, “Go and sin no more”. John 8:11. That is true positive encouragement. Here is an example of what Jesus, Paul and the early Christians would have read and put into their lives. “I gave them My commands and taught them My laws, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. . . I am the LORD your God. Obey My laws and My commands. Make the Sabbath a holy day, so that it will be a sign of the covenant we made, and will remind you that I am the LORD your God.” Ezekiel 20:11, 19, 20. Keep in mind, keeping the Sabbath “holy” had nothing to do with going to church. It had to do with living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. Now may God, the source of endurance and encouragement, allow you to live in harmony with each other as you follow the Messiah Jesus, . . . We are not to encourage each other to endure in church. We are not to encourage each other to live in harmony with our church, denomination or religion. We are not to encourage each other to continue in sin. We are to encourage each other to live in harmony by following the Messiah Jesus. That is the only harmony, peace, joy and encouragement allowed in all the Bible. We “follow the Messiah Jesus” by obeying what He taught in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament. . . . so that with one mind and one voice you might glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah. Being in one mind we will be able to glorify God and Jesus. That will never happen in our churches, denominations or religions since none are following or living in obedience to Jesus. That is why we must get out of our churches, religious organizations and denominations and become one mind and one voice in obedience to the teachings of Jesus to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get our eternal life. All of which comes from the Old Testament. No wonder the devil doesn’t want us reading the Old Testament. Therefore, accept one another, just as the Messiah accepted you, for the glory of God. We are to accept those who are living in oneness with Jesus. Those living in oneness with Jesus are becoming fewer and fewer in number. The whole world is becoming so attached to their opinions, churches, denominations and religions, they have no understanding of what it is to live in oneness with Jesus. There is a difference in accepting a sinner and accepting the sin of the sinner. For I tell you that the Messiah became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth in order to confirm the promises given to our ancestors, . . . That is the qualifier. Paul isn’t talking about living in unity with the pagans. He isn’t talking about building up the pagans. At the time of Paul, during the early Christian experience, there was still a lack of understanding of how to accept the gentiles who had accepted Jesus as their Savior. The old church indoctrination was still strong. The barriers the church had put up were still high. Paul was attempting to break down those barriers and unite the people of God no matter what their origin. . . . so that the gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “That is why I will praise you among the gentiles; I will sing praises to your name.” Many of the Jews who had accepted Jesus as the sacrifice, were still enslaved to church rules, traditions, ceremonies, rites and rituals. They were prejudiced against the gentiles who accepted Jesus as the sacrifice for their sins, but refused to join the church. Therefore, Paul was trying to teach the Jewish Christians that Jesus was just as much the Savior of the Gentiles as He was of the Jews. Both had to come out of the church mentality and live only in obedience to Jesus. Again he says, “Rejoice, you gentiles, with his people!” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you gentiles! Let all the nations praise him.” No matter what religion, what race, what culture, what nationality, what sex or what age, if we belong to Jesus then nothing else counts. Not one person has to belong to any religion, denomination or church to get to heaven. When we are obedient to the Ten Commandments we are God’s people. Now that is something to rejoice about. And again, Isaiah says, “There will be a Root from Jesse. He will rise up to rule the gentiles, and the gentiles will hope in him.” Again, I keep stressing this because it has been lost sight of for over 1500 years. Paul is teaching “the gentiles” that they don’t have to belong to a “church” or religion or nationality in order to have a “hope in Him”. They just have to live in obedience to Jesus. He is the God of all people on all the earth, not just the Jews and their Sabbath-keeping, tithe-paying, church-going religion. That is something to rejoice about. And to think, Paul is getting his information from the Old Testament. Now may God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you believe, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul is talking to Gentiles and Jews since the “church” in Rome had both. He wants to fill them with hope. Even though they did not have to belong to the Jewish religion they could still be filled “with all joy and peace as you believe”. They also had “the power of the Holy Spirit” as they lived in obedience to Jesus. They did not have to belong to any religion, denomination, church or rituals. All they had to do was “believe” by living in obedience to what Jesus taught. I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are filled with goodness and full of all the knowledge you need to be able to instruct each other. What was needed to “instruct each other”? Of course, it was the Old Testament. They didn’t need a “Rabbi” from Jerusalem. They didn’t need any special preacher or minister from the church. All they needed was the Old Testament to be “filled with goodness and full of all the knowledge”. That is all Jesus had. Because of His study of the Old Testament, Jesus, by the age of 12 was so powerful in the Word, the Pharisees and church leaders were astounded at His wisdom. You don’t need a degree or special schooling. Just go to the Old Testament and be taught by God. However, on some points I have written to you rather boldly, both as a reminder to you and because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of the Messiah Jesus to the gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering brought by gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Since the Gentiles did not grow up with the Ten Commandments, as the Jews, Paul had to remind them of certain things. They had to be reminded of “the priestly service of the gospel of God”. That gospel was to live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. They were then accepted by God as His priests here on earth. No longer did they have to look to the line of Aaron for a priest. Everyone can now minister as priests to a lost world of sin. Paul was demonstrating that concept in his “priestly service of the gospel of God”. And of course, this was for the purpose of being “sanctified by the Holy Spirit” and not a church, denomination or religion. Therefore, in the Messiah Jesus I have the right to boast about my work for God. Yes he could. We can “boast about my work for God”. It is God’s work. We are simply doing as He has called us. We need to take pride in our “priestly service of the gospel of God”. The devil tries very hard to browbeat our heads down to keep us from the dignity that comes from serving Jesus. Lift your heads and get into the “priestly service of the gospel of God”. There is no place for griping or complaining. For I am bold enough to tell you only about what the Messiah has accomplished through me in bringing gentiles to obedience. That should be the boast of every Christian. We need to be bold. We need to be able to testify to those around us “what the Messiah has accomplished through me” in bringing people to Jesus. We don’t brag about bringing people to church. We don’t brag about bringing people to a denomination. We brag about bringing people “to obedience” to the teachings of Jesus to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life. Now that is “bold”! By my words and actions, by the power of signs and wonders, and by the power of God’s Spirit, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of the Messiah from Jerusalem as far as Illyricum. I don’t know of anyone today who is proclaiming the gospel of the Messiah. All are proclaiming church, denomination, religion or “my beliefs”. But the gospel Jesus taught is so rare, it is very hard to find. Let us allow the “power of God’s Spirit” in us to proclaim the gospel as Jesus taught it: to be perfect, stop sinning and to keep the Ten Commandments to get our eternal life. And yes, not just by our words, but “by my words and actions, by the power of signs and wonders” are we to proclaim the gospel. What are you doing? My one ambition is to proclaim the gospel where the name of the Messiah is not known, so I don’t build on someone else’s foundation. His ambition was not to proclaim a church, a religion, a denomination, pastor, minister or preacher. Well, that just threw out all churches, religions, denominations and anything else that is “organized”. We are not to build where others have, but we are to go where the gospel has not been heard. Of course, today, that is everywhere. Go stand up in church and tell them what they have never heard before, the gospel as Jesus taught it: stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life. Go tell your neighbor. How about sharing it with your family. Rather, as it is written, “Those who were never told about him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” This is why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. Can you understand that text? Are you willing to obey it? Who around you has never been told about the gospel to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get their eternal life? Are you sharing with them? That text alone should keep you out of church. If they claim to know, then you need to go where they don’t know. If you are sitting in church encouraging and enabling their sinful lives, you partake in their wickedness and will be held responsible. But now, having no further opportunities in these regions, I want to come to you, as I’ve desired to do for many years. Paul wanted to see his friends in Rome. He had been working hard for Jesus all over the Roman empire. Now he had an opportunity to see his “family” in Rome. We also need to take time to be with the family of God. He wasn’t going to visit blood relatives and “family”, he was going to see God’s family. I think we are way too occupied with this world and those who could care less about the world to come. We need to spend more time with the family of God, those who live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. Now that I am on my way to Spain, I hope to see you when I come your way and, after I have enjoyed your company for a while, to be sent on by you. When Paul talks about being “sent on by you” in his letters, he is talking about their financial support. Paul seldom supported himself. He had an entourage of men working to support his work for God. However, mostly he received vast amounts of support from the family of God from all over the Roman Empire. They loved the truth and supported Paul sacrificially. Right now, however, I’m going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints, because the believers in Macedonia and Achaia have been eager to share their resources with the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. This is a very important concept. Christians did not share their funds with non-Christians. They did not support the food banks for the pagans. They did not put God’s money into lunches for the needy pagan children. They supported “saints”, those who were obedient to Jesus and needed financial help. We have our priorities backwards today. Let us put a brake on our giving activities and make sure that everything we give goes to the “saints” who are teaching the Gospel, as Jesus taught it, and are truly in need. Yes, they were eager to do this, and in fact they are obligated to help them, for if the gentiles have shared in their spiritual blessings, they are obligated to be of service to them in material things. Those who share the “spiritual blessings” from God need all the material help they can get. Those of us who teach the teachings of Jesus to be perfect, stop sinning and to keep the Ten Commandments to get our eternal life are to be supported. Let us not waste God’s funds on the pagans. The world can take care of its own. God’s people, those who live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life, are to be cared for by God’s people. So when I have completed this task and have put my seal on this contribution of theirs, I will visit you on my way to Spain. We must be very careful what funds we put our seal on. We are not to concern ourselves with the pagans. The worldly pagans, those who call themselves Christian but refuse to live in obedience to Jesus, are not to be given to. We are to give to the worthy poor, those who are living the perfect, righteous and holy life. Those who are following Jesus but have come into hard financial times. Those are the people Paul was carrying contributions for with his seal of approval. And I know that when I come to you I will come with the full blessing of the Messiah. When we teach the full truth as Jesus taught it: to be sinless, perfect and Commandment keeping, we have the “full blessing of the Messiah”. Otherwise we are not working for the Messiah, but for the devil. There is only one way to the one truth that leads to the one eternal life. Everything else is eternal death. Now I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and by the love that the Spirit produces, to join me in my struggle, earnestly praying to God for me that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea,. . . The funds were not for the church-going Jews who were “unbelievers”, even though they claimed to believe in “God”. We are not to give our funds to those who go to church or have a church or set up churches. We are to support those who teach the gospel as Jesus taught it: to be perfect, stop sinning and to keep the Ten Commandments to get our eternal life. Let us pray to God earnestly that we all may be rescued from church-going people who refuse to live and teach what Jesus taught. When was the last time you checked your religion, church or denomination to make sure it was teaching the teachings of Jesus? . . . that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, and that if it’s God’s will, I may come to you with joy and be refreshed together with you. Now may the God who grants peace be with all of you! Amen. That is my prayer. That this ministry “may be acceptable to the saints”. Saints are those “who obey God’s commandments and are faithful to Jesus”. Let us be faithful to Jesus and live as saints by living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess in the church at Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as is appropriate for saints, and provide her with anything she may need from you, for she has assisted many people, including me. That is the true church of God. Paul, even though he was not able at this time to meet with the saints personally, met with them in letters. His letters were his “church” to them. This is what true church is all about. Listen carefully. He didn’t ask them to provide for a church organization, he asked them to provide for a sister who was assisting other saints who needed help; “including me”. They supported those who were living as God commands, not a church organization that lived off the people. Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me for the Messiah Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life. I am thankful to them, and so are all the churches among the gentiles. We are to support those who are supporting those who are living and working for Jesus and the truth He taught. That is the command. The word “church” above is a modern translation, but don’t put a modern interpretation or understanding to it. Their churches were nothing like our Catholic church institutions we have today. Their “churches” were the “Ekklesia” who had come out of the church of their day and were living as saints, assembling to live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my dear friend Epaenetus, who was the first convert to the Messiah in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard for you. Again, these are people who came out of the formal, organized church system and instead of meeting in “church” buildings they met “in their house”. Have you opened up your home yet for the saints? These were people who didn’t sit in church pretending to be Christians. They “worked very hard for you”. Who in your church is working very hard for your salvation? Who is pointing out your sins? Who is helping you overcome sin in your life? Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who are in prison with me and are prominent among the apostles. They belonged to the Messiah before I did. Going to prison or being persecuted for your church, denomination or religion will do you no good. Who around you are in prison for working for Jesus? Only those who are persecuted for living and teaching the teachings of Jesus will be recognized by God. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in the Messiah, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, who has been approved by the Messiah. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the family of Narcissus, who belong to the Lord. Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who have worked hard for the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, who has toiled diligently for the Lord. Greet Rufus, the one chosen by the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of the Messiah greet you. That was a true “church” of God. They were not sitting in church, but if you listen carefully, each was involved in working hard for the Lord, being approved by the Lord, toiling diligently for the Lord. They were “churches of the Messiah”, not a religious organization. What are you doing for the Lord? Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create divisions and sinful enticements that oppose the teaching you have learned. We need more of that today. Stay away from religions, denominations, churches, pastors, ministers, preachers and anyone who does not teach the teaching of Jesus to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. They only “create divisions and sinful enticements” because they don’t want to live in obedience to Jesus. They love their church and their sins way too much. Stay away from them, because such people are not serving the Messiah our Lord, but their own desires. By their smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. How true that is! On Twitter, Facebook, other media, by letter and phone, they come against me. They claim to be Christian and love Jesus, but they are not serving Jesus. They are serving their own desires. “By their smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting”. Yep, that about sums it up. All denominations, churches, religions, ministries, pastors, preachers, teachers and all the others fall into that one statement. Why? Because they work for money and power, not Jesus. For your obedience has become known to everyone, and I am full of joy for you. But I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. “For your obedience”. Are you obedient to Jesus? Has your obedience “become known to everyone”? Would anyone around you know you lived the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life? The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, be with all of you! Now we know how to live in order to have the “grace of our Lord Jesus”. It isn’t going to church. It isn’t listening to preachers and ministers and pastors. It is living obediently to Jesus and what He taught. Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my fellow Jews. I, Tertius, who penned this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus greet you. May the grace of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, be with all of you! Christians knew each other back then. Today, people who go to church hardly know who is sitting next to them in church. There is no camaraderie because none are striving to live as Jesus lived: perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping. Now to the one who is able to strengthen you with my gospel and the message that I preach about Jesus, the Messiah, by revealing the secret that was kept hidden from long ago but now has been made known through the prophets to all the gentiles, in keeping with the decree of the eternal God to bring them to the obedience that springs from faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus the Messiah, be glory forever! Amen. Yep, the church kept the secret hidden from the people. They did not want you to know who Jesus was or to live in obedience to Him. But it has finally been revealed to the world. If you have “my gospel and the message that I preach about Jesus” you will be strengthened by Jesus in all you do. Will you step up and become a hard working saint for Jesus? Another interesting fact. Paul starts out Romans with, “to bring about faithful obedience”. Paul ends Romans with, “to bring them to the obedience that springs from faith”. Paul bookends his letter with obedience. May we “bookend” our lives with “the obedience that springs from faith”.