The common thread tying together all those who love Jesus is a simple concept: Bringing the lost to Jesus. For most who call themselves Christians, since they believe we are “saved by grace” and “God loves everyone”, they do not have that “thread” in their hearts. They may invite people to church to satisfy their ego. They may hand out some literature to sooth the conscience. They may even support independent ministries. But the drive that brought Jesus down from Heaven to die for us, not much. Keeping the Ten Commandments goes way deeper than just not stealing a pencil. If you are not driven to share the truth with those around you, you are stealing their eternal life. You will be held accountable for breaking the Ten Commandments. We must redefine “Christianity” for these last and final days of Earth’s history. Paul had a burning desire to keep people in his church. It was so strong he went out persecuting and destroying those who left his church. That is what church does. However, when he became a Christian, he had such a burning desire to get people out of church, and religious organizations, he was persecuted and lost his head for it. I don’t see much of that today in those who call themselves Christians. We are just having way too much fun sitting in church. And by the way, “church” doesn’t have to be sitting in a building or belonging to a denomination. It can be a set of beliefs one holds. Let us check our beliefs and make sure they align with Jesus. Even though Paul was called by Jesus to give the gospel to stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life to the world, his burning desire was for the tithe-paying, Sabbath-keeping and church-going members. They were observing the forms, rituals, traditions, services and ceremonies, but they didn’t have Jesus. Oh, how he wanted to bring them the truth. Romans 9:1 to 10:21 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. I don’t think we have that understanding while sitting comfortably in our churches, in our homes watching religious programs or reading our religious papers. No, Christianity today is all about fun, rejoicing, praise and entertainment. Few actually “say the truth in Christ”. It is all about church, our opinions, independents and religious organizations. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; . . . Paul wished that he “were accursed from Christ” for his brethren. Jesus also wished the same. Jesus was “accursed” from His Father for us, His brethren. Paul had the same Spirit in him that was in Jesus. Do you have the same Spirit in you? As the Israelites were adopted by God to be His special “priests” to the world, so we are to accept the adoption from God and become His special “priests” to the world. The glory that was the Israelites can be ours. The “giving of the Law” to the Israelites for their glory, protection, peace, joy and eternal reward is also offered to us. When the Israelites lived in service to God, living His perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life, the promises of God were fulfilled in their lives. So with us. God wants the world to see His love, His joy, His peace, His glory, His promises revealed and fulfilled in us as we live in obedience to Him. Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. As the Israelites had a rich and wonderful heritage, from whom the Messiah came, so we, who live as Christians, also have a rich and wonderful heritage to look back upon. We may study the lives of Jesus and true Christians who came before us and be blessed in the knowledge that God watches over His own. The examples are there. Those who lived obediently were blessed. Those who sinned were punished. We can be “God blessed for ever” if we will only live as Jesus commands us. However, I want to make a distinction here between worldly blessings and God’s blessings. Many people who claim to be Christians are worldly blessed. They look upon themselves as being blessed by God. Worldly blessings are God’s grace to us. They belong to all of us. Those who have them don’t see themselves as having to change their sinful lives. He may have given them grace in allowing them to have worldly blessings, but if they do not study carefully how God wants His blessing to be used, those blessing will do no good in the resurrection. No Christian is wealthy. All the wealth God graciously gives is to be used for His work. To be spent on those who teach people to live as Jesus lived: perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: It wasn’t God’s fault that the Israelites were no longer counted as God’s nation. He did everything He could for their salvation. He even gave His only Son. But the nation rejected the living God for their church-god. Their church was far more important to their ego, pride, wealth and arrogance than the living God. So it is today. It is not God’s fault that all the churches, denominations and religions of the world have been rejected by God. He has done all He could to bring them salvation. But they have rejected God by rejecting His commands to stop sinning, be prefect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life. No, their church-god is far more exciting and entertaining. Worldly blessings are more important than eternal blessings to the churches. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. The Jews thought they were saved by belonging to the “seed of Abraham”. Today, church members think they are saved because of their membership or lineage to a certain church, denomination or religion. Not so. Nothing physical of this world can save you. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. Those claiming to be “Christian” because they go to church or belong to a religious organization are “not the children of God”. Only those who are “of the promise are counted” as “children of God”. What is that promise? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. From Genesis to Revelation, only those who have “believed” in the Messiah “have eternal life”. Whether you were Adam looking at the lamb being sacrificed in the Old Testament and believing in the “Lamb of God” who would come, or looking back to the cross and believing in Jesus of the New Testament as the “Lamb of God, your salvation was in believing what the “Lamb of God” taught was essential for your eternal life. To believe in Jesus is to love Him. “If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments.” “Whoever has My Commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me.” “Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words.” John 14:15, 21, 24. God does not care who you are, what your bloodline is, how much money you make, what church you go to, what religion you belong to, what your titles are, how much property or wealth you have. He only cares that you live in obedience to His Ten Commandments. Do you “believe”? Are you living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life? For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. As the birth of Isaac was a human impossibility, so the birth of Christ was an impossibility. Only because they were a “promise” of God could any of it be accomplished. Same in our spiritual lives. Humanly, it is impossible for us to be “born again”. But with God, all things are possible. All we have to do is do our part. If Abraham had doubted God’s promise and refused to have intercourse with his wife Sara, there would have been no Isaac. But he believed God and did his part while waiting on God to fulfill His part. We are to do the same in our spiritual lives. We are to put forth every effort, living in obedience to the teachings of Jesus to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments for our eternal life, and God will fulfill His promises for us. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. There again, God gave a promise, the older son and his descendants would serve the younger son. A promise that was fulfilled. Paul is attempting to show two very important things here. While the Jews boasted of their lineage from Abraham, Paul let them know it wasn’t from Abraham, but from Isaac and down though Jacob. Why? Because Abraham had nine sons, as recorded in the Bible, therefore, all of them could claim the same promises as the Jews. Which is exactly what the Muslims do. They claim their salvation lineage from Abraham. So the Jews were nothing special if they counted the physical lineage from Abraham as their link to Heaven. On the other hand, through the promised sons, Isaac and Jacob, the sons of promise, everyone in the whole world could be counted as “sons of God” by that same promise. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. First of all, keep in mind, the above text was not given before Jacob and Esau were born. God doesn’t hate anyone in advance. He simply knows the future. This was written about 1500 years after Abraham, and in response to the actions of Esau’s descendants. Malachi 1:3. It is very important when studying the New Testament to check every reference that comes from the Old Testament and understand the reference in context with the times. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. Is God “unrighteous”? Of course not. From Genesis to Revelation we see the righteousness of God played out over and over again. He is long-suffering and unwilling that any should die. But, if people persist in their sins they will be cut off from the promises of God and eventually die eternally. Therefore, Paul is now going to give us an example of that long-suffering. For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Paul, in all his writings, takes his theology and his defense of God from the Old Testament. There is no “new” anything for eternal life in the New Testament. When Moses went up to meet with God after the Israelites had committed a terrible sin in making and worshiping the golden calf, God (Jesus) told Moses, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious (grace), slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.” Genesis 34:6, 7. God has always been faithful, loving, gracious (grace), merciful and forgiving. However, those qualities will “by no means clear the guilty”. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Since we all deserve death, the mercy of God has nothing to do with our “human will or exertion”. God lives by the rules of justice, mercy, love and law. Before we even existed, the mercy of God had already devised the plan of salvation. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” God knew from the beginning of the world everything which would ever take place. Therefore, He worked out His will to have the Israelites in bondage at the time of Pharaoh in order to show His power, through Pharaoh, to the world. Each era has had its examples of God’s forbearance and destruction of wickedness. The flood, Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah. Now it was time for Egypt. I call this concept, “the Natural Order of Things”. God allows the natural order of wickedness to play out so we see the results and learn to hate wickedness. So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. God could have struck Pharaoh dead the first time Moses appeared before him. But in His mercy, and to show the results of rebellion, God bore long with Pharaoh. In one sense, yes, God did harden the heart of Pharaoh. How? Look at it like this, if you are determined to do something, and someone comes along and says you can’t, what happens to your “will”. It usually “hardens” your “will” to do what you want, right? So with God to Pharaoh. Pharaoh did not want to let the Israelites go. God commanded him to let them go. Pharaoh stiffened in his rebellion and refused. He hardened his heart. God gave him opportunity after opportunity to surrender. He refused. What are you doing with your will? You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” Well, Pharaoh resisted God’s will. That is what made his heart hard. God has done everything He can to save us. But if we continually resist His salvation-will for us, then He has the right to “find fault” with us. If we live according to His will, to live in obedience to His commands, we will live under His promises and be saved. But if we “resist His will”, then we will be destroyed. But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Paul is using a human concept here. Later on he refines it even more. But God used the stubborn heart of Pharaoh for His own purposes. God has predestined wickedness, not individual people, to be destroyed. God has predestined righteousness, not individual people, to be saved. The choice between the two is your own. God made us, then He gave us free will. You determine what to do with that free will. Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? It is very important to understand that Paul teaches from the Old Testament. This concept of potter and vessel comes from the Old Testament in Jeremiah 18. Paul isn’t inventing a new concept. The people he was talking to knew their Old Testament and understood Paul. Since Christians today have rejected the Old Testament, they don’t have any clue as to what Paul is talking about. That is why they have no understanding of salvation. You see, God has “endured with much patience” those who have made themselves “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”. God is the potter, He gives life to everyone. But what He makes is righteousness. But if the pot decides it doesn’t like righteousness and wants to be a vessel of wrath, then God will use that vessel to “make known the riches of His glory” to those vessels He has had mercy on. Again, God has predetermined what is righteous and what is wicked. We, the vessels, make the choice as to which we want to be. God will use us for His glory no matter what choice we make, either for destruction or for eternal life. The wicked vessel is to warn us to chose the Lord’s way of righteousness. But if we don’t listen and refuse to take warning, then we become a vessel to be destroyed. In the end, all the wicked will bow before God and confess, admit, that God is just in destroying them. They will recognize that their hearts refused to submit to God’s law. And this calling, this desire, this righteousness that “He has prepared beforehand for glory” is for all people, not just the Jews. Everyone must make their own decision as to which vessel they want to become. The Jews thought it was just for them. As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” That is all Paul is trying to get across, that the Jews were in no way “special” in thinking they were God’s people. God has called everyone to be “My people”. The Jews, as a nation, were a vessel God called and “made” to be His special people to show the world the glory of God. But the nation eventually chose to become a vessel of wickedness. This concept of “not my people” was first introduce in the “Song of Moses”, Deuteronomy 32:21. Nothing has changed. “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” The same goes today for churches, denominations, independents and religions that think you must belong to them in order to have eternal life. None of them have eternal life. They have all separated themselves from God. They refuse to believe that God is the God of the whole world, not of a certain sect, religion, denomination or church. Everyone can become a “child of God” by simply living as He commands: perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping. And let me make this perfectly plain. Not once in all the Bible does God command or even teach that we are to go to church or start a religion. Those whom churches think are not God’s people, are just the ones who are God’s people. And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” As the Lord, through Isaiah, predicted the destruction of Israel by the nation of Babylon, that prediction had many fulfillments. Evil will always be destroyed. Therefore, the Lord carried out His sentence upon Israel by Babylon, Rome and then by many nations throughout history. Being of Abraham’s bloodline has done nothing to save them. Only a “remnant of them” have been “saved”. God no longer looks upon Israel as a nation. Only those of Israel, and the world, who accept Jesus and His word to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments, are included in the “offspring” and will have eternal life. And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” If God had not been merciful in allowing individuals from the offspring of Abraham to have eternal life, they would all have been “like Sodom and become like Gomorrah”. The same goes with the rest of the world. But the mercy of God has granted salvation to all who will believe and obey the law of God. What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Yes! The Jews had the law of righteousness, however, just having it does you no good. Why? Because having the law hanging on your wall without faith in the atonement of Christ, will do you no good for eternal life. All have sinned. Therefore, no matter how much you possess, talk about, or as Paul said, “pursued” the law, you still had a big problem, you were still a sinner. Something had to happen to wipe out your past sins. That “something” was Jesus Christ. That is why the Gentiles who pursued the law received the benefits of that law because they believed in a Savior who atoned for their past sins. While the Jews possessed the law, taught it and pursued the law academically, but did not obey it, the Gentiles were pursuing the law by keeping it. Listen to Jesus as he confronted the Jews, “Why do you break the Commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” Matthew 15:3. The Gentiles accepted the sacrifice of Jesus to pay for their past sins, while the Jews thought they could “earn” off their death-penalty through their own works by possessing the law, going to church and living by their traditions. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, . . . Yes they did. They refused to humble themselves and recognize they were sinners who needed a Savior to pay for their past sins. It was far more prideful to earn their own justification by their own works. Therefore, they “stumbled over the stumbling stone”. They did not want to believe in Jesus as their Savior. They did not want to humble themselves before Jesus and live in obedience to Him. No, they wanted their church-works, not God’s works. Their opinions were more important than the opinion of Jesus and His teachings. . . . as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Paul is talking here about justification, not sanctification. There is a huge difference between them. Only Jesus can justify us. Nothing we can do, except to have faith in Jesus, will justify us. After that, sanctification is on us to fulfill the requirements of the law in our lives in order for justification to complete its work in us. Therefore, “whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame”. Again, the Jews, as with most “Christians” today, were trying to work out their “justification” and pay off their past sins. They did not want to trust in the sacrifice of Jesus to pay their past debt. Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. Do you have the same desire for those who go to church? As the Jews in their church, so those who sit in church today. They want to be “saved by grace” or the “unconditional love of God” or any other means other than faith that leads to obedience in the death of Jesus to pay our death-debt. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. How true that is for those who call themselves “Christian” today. When most “Christians” communicate with me, they have lots of “zeal for God”, but “not according to knowledge”. Nothing they say has anything to do with obedience to the Word of God. It is all about what God will do for “me”. They comfort each other with fine sounding phrases from the Word of God, but they show no desire to hear their obligations to God. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Finally, after all this discourse, Paul hits the nail on the head. They, along with those who belong to, and support religious organizations today, are “ignorant of the righteousness of God”. They do not want to submit to God. Their ego, pride and arrogance wants to “establish their own” righteousness. God’s righteousness is to have faith (justification) in the death of Jesus for past sins, and then to live in obedience (sanctification) to the Ten Commandments in order to continue living without sin. Justification wipes out our past sins and our penalty of death. Sanctification guarantees our justification as we live continuously the sinless, perfect and Commandment keeping life. This is one reason why Jesus stated, “It will be hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23. Why? Their money has become their “righteousness”. They believe they are blessed in their sins and in their “beliefs” and can do what they want with “their” money. Like Jezebel, their money is used to “feed” those independents and religious organizations who tell them what they want to hear. But they refuse to listen to this little “Elijah” voice God has sent them. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Yes He is! Not only did He fulfill the law of righteousness in His life, but He offers it to “everyone who believes” and lives as He lived. Another way to say this is, “Christ is the embodiment of the law for righteousness”. Jesus was righteous because He kept the Law that was/is righteous. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. Yes, those who live by the Commandments shall live by them. That is correct. However, there was one small problem. Since all had sinned, all would have to die no matter how much keeping of the Commandments they did. Therefore . . . But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. In other words, we don’t need to go looking around for a method to clear our past sins and death-debt. We don’t need to look up to the heavens or down here on earth. We don’t need churches, denominations or religions. God has had the solution to our death-debt right from the beginning. But just as Cain refused to have faith in the “Lamb of God” to pay his death-debt, and wanted to work out his own justification, so with church members today. They work and work and work at going to church, supporting ministries and doing it their way to gain their justification in God’s eyes. But all we need to do is . . . For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. So simple. But the prideful human heart wants to earn his justification before God. He doesn’t want to simply believe with his heart and confess that he is a sinner, in sincerity, and needs a power outside of himself to justify him. All we need to do is humbly kneel before God and accept the sacrifice of Jesus for our death-debt. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Then, in gratitude for the sacrifice of Jesus, we also will sacrifice our lives for Him by living as He commands us. When we do that, salvation is open to every single person. You don’t have to belong to any church, religion or denomination. Just believe, obey and you will have eternal life. No more shame, condemnation for past sins or a future death. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. We are not to call on our pastors, ministers, teachers or churches. We are not to go to church, but to Jesus. He is Lord of everyone in all the earth. All may receive His riches if they call on Him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” To call on the “name of the Lord” to be saved is to recognize our sinful need of a Savior to pay our death-debt. We can’t work it off. We can’t buy it off. We can’t church it off. We can only believe and have faith that Jesus will keep His word and pay it with His own sacrifice. With that understanding, we will be so humbled, we will arise with a determination in our hearts to never disobey our Lord again. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord must turn away from evil.” 2 Timothy 2:19. “God, having raised up His servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:25. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Look around you. Look around your church. Look closely at those ministries you are supporting. If you don’t explain this to them, they are lost. Their blood will be on you. They do not “believe” in Jesus and are “ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own” salvation. You must take to them the truth that what they are doing will never work off their death-debt. And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Do you have “beautiful” feet? Will you “preach the good news” to them? Or will you let them die in their lies. There in religious organizations lay the lies that will destroy them. And you will be held accountable. Take this ministry to them. But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” If you have beautiful feet and are bringing them the good news but they refuse to obey the gospel to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get their eternal life, then you have fulfilled your obligation. You can stop supporting them. We can’t save one person. Our job is to find the lost sheep, gather in the lost coins and preach to them the truth. It is on them to believe and obey. That is all I can do. I teach the truth as God is giving it to me. Those who obey will have eternal life. Those who are hardheaded, stiff-necked and filled with their own egos and pride, will never make it to heaven. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Notice, it isn’t hearing through your church, your pastor, minister, independent or denomination. It is “hearing through the Word of Christ”. And what was the “Word of Christ”? Stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” If that was true back then, how more so today. Everyone has heard about Christ, but few have hard the truth. The Bible has been sent “to the ends of the world”, but who is listening? However, that does not remove from us the obligation to continue reaching out to those around us. You must have a heart like Jesus. You must help them understand the Word of God. Take the material God has dictated and directed on His website, www.jcpm.com, and share it with the world around you. Ask, and I’ll send you the “8 Steps” to distribute. But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.” Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” Again, Paul is still trying to convince people that the Gospel is for everyone around the world. It was never restricted to the Israelites. The Jews had no right to think that salvation was limited to their organization. Same today. Jesus does not care what religion you belong to. He doesn’t care what day you go to church on. He doesn’t care what denomination you belong to. He cares that you live in obedience to His Ten Commandments and have faith in His sacrifice for your death-debt. Remember, going to church does not make a day holy, nor does it make you holy. The only thing that makes us holy is living the holy, perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” I have found that so true with those who are tithe-paying, Sabbath-keeping, church-going members today. They are trying to earn their justification their own way. They are refusing to find the righteousness that comes from God. Will you believe Jesus today and get out of your church, denomination, independent ministry and kneel before Jesus and accept His sacrifice for your past sins, then get up and live in obedience to His Ten Commandments?