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Repentance vs Retaliation (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
July 19, 2022 6:00 am

Repentance vs Retaliation (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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July 19, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick
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J.D. Greear
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Sam Main
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R.C. Sproul

You have every right to choose for or against God but you have no right to choose the outcome if you choose to resist Him, to stiff arm God. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him. And that's the case with this event taking place that we're reading about at the end of Acts chapter 5. We're in the book of Acts chapter 5 verses 33 through 42. When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one of the councils stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, held in respect by all people and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them, Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.

For some time ago, Thuddas rose up claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about 400, joined him. He was slain and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away many people after him. He also perished and all who obeyed him were dispersed.

And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing. But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest you even be found to fight against God. And they agreed with him. And when they had called the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Daily in the temple and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Well, that first verse, when they heard this, they were furious, verse 33, and plotted to kill them.

What set them off? I mean, this wasn't just they wanted to murder these men and not figuratively. Well, we have to go back to what Peter said, beginning in verse 29. He said this to their faces. We ought to obey God rather than men, meaning we ought to obey God rather than you. That that was not in Peter's favor with the court. It was with God because God was giving Peter these things to say. Peter also said, the God of our fathers, in verse 30, raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him, God has exalted to the right hand to be prince and savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Well, that did not sit well with them. But again, Peter was not finished because God was telling Peter what to say. How do we know that? How do we know that this is what God wanted to say to these men through this man? Well, Jesus told the apostles this, Matthew 10, but when they deliver you up, do not worry about what, how or what you will speak, or it will be given to you in that hour, what you should speak. This is a special kind of grace. This grace comes when we are cornered and being persecuted, whether it is a beating or an execution. And so everything we were reading here from Peter's mouth is coming directly from the throne of God to these men and to anyone else who has a chance to listen and choose either to repent or to retaliate. Of course, these men chose to retaliate against Peter and the message that he brought, which means they retaliated against Jesus Christ. Peter went on to say in verse 32, and we are his witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him. Meaning, if the Holy Spirit is in you, then you won't have a problem with what I'm saying to you.

But because he's not in you, you have a big problem with what I'm saying to you. They took it that way. And so, verse 33, when they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. God was condemning them through Peter. As he does with us, Paul said, you know, we give off this fragrance as Christians, ideally.

It's either a sweet fragrance of salvation or it is the scent of doom that they will perish. And that is what the gospel message brings every time we preach it. It is a take it or leave it. But if you leave it, it won't leave you.

The consequences will not. You have every right to choose for or against God, but you have no right to choose the outcome if you choose to resist him, to stiff arm God. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey him.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit also gives, not directly, but he allows beatings for those who obey him. And that's the case with this event taking place that we're reading about at the end of Acts chapter 5. Those without Christ may either repent, as I said, or retaliate when told the truth about Christ.

Retaliating here, unlike Nineveh. The Ninevites heard the ultimatum given, repent, judgment's coming. They repented.

Even at Pentecost, 3,000, over 3,000 had come to the Lord. They did not retaliate, they repented. Sodom, you know, Sodom and Gomorrah, so committed to sin when it came time for their judgment that there was no message to be given again. There were no more chances.

The timer ran out for Sodom and Gomorrah. Those that belonged to Lot had a chance to get out. Not all of them took it. Lot, he lived there, but he lost his ability to be taken seriously. May that never happen to the Christian, to become so insignificant that what you have to say is not taken seriously. His sons-in-law, they laughed at him when he told them, we got to get out of this place, judgment's coming. They thought he was joking.

It was no joke. There are whole churches that aren't taken seriously by the world. There are Christians that are so busy trying to jam the gospel down somebody's throat without the Holy Spirit that they're no longer taken seriously by those whom they would like to see saved. It is interesting that we're to go into all the world and make, fill in the blank, not converts, disciples. It's greater than converts. It presupposes that the converts are part of that, of course, but that's not enough.

It's not enough to convert somebody to Christ because Satan is going to look to snatch them back and Jesus gave a whole parable on the seeds that fell on the various types of ground. God withholds what he has to say from those who scourge his truth. If your only response is to scourge the gospel, to scourge the message, to scourge the messenger from the Bible, then no pearls for you. God will not cast pearl before swine and this is the case with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Their time ran out. And it is the case with these men at this inquisition for how dare they preach in the name of Jesus Christ. The prophet Amos was sent to Israel with this message. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah or Yahweh, interchangeable.

It's going to be a famine. You won't find anybody preaching the word of God because you don't deserve it anymore because you've trampled it. Because your response to my truth was to retaliate against me. And God means business. How are we to respond to God's word and his holy scriptures? Well, we are to be convinced that he is right without argument.

It is a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Now to bring this message to people in the workplace, we have to be good workers. It ruins our witness when we're the slob on the job. But when we're diligent, we don't have to be the best that we should strive to be.

When we are diligent, we start reducing the points of resistance. We win friends that way. You'll be friendly to unbelievers, to a point. And then when that friendship is established, the doors begin to open, quite possibly, to preach the gospel. God knew that a sinner knows they're perverted before him.

And he's provided a way to do it and they just don't like it. Sodom and Gomorrah refused to be convicted of their sin. Jerusalem would do the same thing. Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem is the one that stones the prophets and kills those that are sent.

Oh, why do you need to send anybody to us? We're Jerusalem. We're the religious correct. We don't have to have a message from any prophet. We are the prophets. It doesn't matter that we don't listen to God.

We have our rituals. And so the prophet Ezekiel, God speaking to him, God was saying, I'm going to destroy Jerusalem, but I'm going to make a distinction between my people and those who retaliate against my truth. And they retaliate in all sorts of ways, all clever ways, sophisticated ways, crude ways, making little statues, making up opinions, contrary to what God has said. Zedekiah was the last king in Judah, the last king of the Jews among men.

And he ruined the nation further. And the message that Ezekiel said, he sees this vision, Yahweh said to him, in the vision he sees these men, and one of them has an ink horn, a marker. What do you call those markers that don't wash off, don't, yeah, whatever, I can't hear you.

It sounds like this to me. Anyway, in the vision God sends these four men, three of them are armed with weapons, fourth has an ink horn, go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over the abominations that are done within her. Those are the righteous, the righteous remnant, those who repent, those who say I am wrong in my sin, God is right. I am a wretch before God.

O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? Thank God there is Christ Jesus. And that's what the apostle Paul said, and it's true of him, it's true of us. Some can't take it because they think they're good enough to be received by God based on whatever is in their imagination.

Because they're comparing themselves with themselves. Sinners comparing themselves with sinners before a holy God remained doomed. These apostles, however, they were taken seriously, in contrast to Lot. That's why they're being persecuted. They are a threat to hell, they are a threat to that which is evil. They are being taken seriously, not for being oddballs, but for making sense.

And this is a lesson we hopefully come away with. I don't know if Christians understand the value of expositional teaching. Jesus started it. He expounded to them from all the prophets, all the books, things concerning himself. He exposed to them those things.

He turned the lights on for them. So if you come to church and you're looking for something, you're going to miss it more than likely. Unless you're looking for what the Holy Spirit has to say to you.

He's notorious for singling us out. And not for judgment, for exaltation too, for encouragement to build us up. In verse 34, Then one of the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, held in respect by all the people and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. Gamaliel was the most influential rabbi of his day. He lived during the days that Christ walked in Israel, performed the miracles. He would have been well aware of the life and the times of Jesus Christ, leaving us asking him this question, what did you do with it?

What did you do with it? With all of his scholarly credentials, he lacked spiritual discernment. What profit is it a man if he gains the world? You can go take as many Bible courses as you want. You can go to the best churches that exist if you still, if you lack spiritual discernment as to who Jesus Christ is, the identity of Christ.

It profits you nothing. Discernment of the most crucial matter of his personal existence, identifying God. If you can't identify God, your identity is messed up. A lot of Christians struggle with their identity, who they are in Christ, what their role is in life, to go into the world and preach the gospel, making Matthaus disciples. It is an honor to be deputized by God himself, to be entrusted.

As we discussed, the angel freed Peter, but the angel couldn't preach the gospel. That belongs to sinners saved by grace. Paul the apostle, and if you don't know who Paul the apostle is, you're missing out. He was a pupil of this very Gamaliel, this popular rabbi.

Later, we'll get to Acts, sometimes in 2050, when we get to chapter 22. He says, Paul speaking, I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father's law, and was zealous toward God as you are today. He's speaking to colleagues, well, one-time colleagues, fellow Pharisees, fellow Jews, but you catch that end, was, past tense, zealous, just like you. But there's more, there's so much more surrounding Paul's conversion in connection with this man, Gamaliel. The fact is, the teaching of this Gamaliel and those like him produced this effect in Paul, and he tells us, Paul tells us, what this kind of teaching did.

Philippians chapter 3 verse 5, he says, I was a Hebrew of Hebrews, concerning the law of Pharisee, concerning zeal, persecuting the church, concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. That was his boast before he met Christ. And then after he met Christ, oh wretched man that I am. But when Paul met this Jesus, whom we love, and just adore, the teachings of this Gamaliel became to Paul as trash. He discarded it, it's just rubbish. It would be like if you were a Mormon and you went to the university and you became a doctorate in Mormon theology and then you got saved, because Mormons are not Christians.

Then you'd say, I threw it all away. Every drop, every jot, every tittle, everything I learned there was wrong about Jesus Christ and I salvaged none of it. Philippians again, Paul continues about his prior life in Christ, raised at the feet of Gamaliel in Jerusalem. He says in Philippians 3 verse 7, but what things were gained to me, these I have counted lost for Christ, yet indeed I also count all things lost for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, as dung, as trash, that I might gain Christ.

There's a reason that he had to jettison, to discard that stuff. He wanted to be like Christ, not like Gamaliel. Sure he benefited from a formal education, but only to a point. And that point is not where men place it, it's where God places it. I encourage all Christians to go as far as you can go in whatever it is you are applying yourself in your studies. If you can get a doctorate in whatever it is you are studying, get that doctorate. Get yourself where the arrogant unbelievers tend to roam. Get those credentials and be that castle in the middle of a desert that you can make converts for Christ. If you choose not to take the academic route and you become what is called a blue-collar worker, maybe you're a machinist or whatever it is you are, be the best at it for Christ, that you would draw them to you, that they would be drawn to the light because they're going to see that light because it's going to be in contrast to those who don't have it and some will retaliate and some may repent. Paul did not teach what Gamaliel taught, for it was not worth retaining once he met Christ. It was flushed in an instant, so he trashed it. Paul taught what God taught.

What is that? Christ's likeness to us goes all the way back to the Old Testament for us. In the beginning when we read God created from nothing, when God created from nothing, that's Jesus Christ. We begin to watch after that to learn to grow in the ways of Jesus, even if it displeases. You know, a lot of people think you come to Christ, now you should be more this or that for them.

It doesn't work that way. You retain your personality. You begin to deal with the parts of it that are not Christ-like. Ephesians chapter 4. Christians should be familiar with Ephesians chapter 4. This is after he says that he himself has given some to be apostles, evangelists, prophets, prophets, evangelists, pastor, teachers, for the equipping of the saint, for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ. Another section of scripture that seems to be sort of dismissed. Then he says, he's given us these till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, to the measure and the stature and the fullness of Christ. That's Christ-likeness.

The measure and the stature and the fullness of Christ. It's what the world doesn't have. They don't even pursue it.

They don't know it exists. That we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men and cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, for speaking the truth in love may grow up in all things into him who is the head. Christ.

That's what he says. Now remember that when we get to the last verse, when they continued to preach and to teach. It's a great distinction between the two. But what I love about this fourth chapter is when we get to Ephesians. It's when he says, this I say therefore and testify in the Lord that we should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart, who being past feeling have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness, but you have not so learned Christ. That's Paul's theology. Christ.

And it should be ours. Some of you may have some college professor or some coach, some mentor in life whom you really admire. Nothing wrong with that unless you admire that person and they lack Jesus and you admire them to a fault. By that I mean if that individual were challenged on their lack of faith, would you be offended?

Would you run to their defense? If you do, it's misguided allegiance. You have to sort that out. You go to the university, some of those professors are very charming and engaging and admirable. As people go, it's common grace. You don't have to be a Christian to be a likable person. In fact, many Christians are good at becoming not too likable. Some college grads don't care to hear that the universities are not the custodians of God's truth. Some get a little offended that bugs them because they love their university. And this is more with those who are graduates. It's not so much, at least in my experience, in other areas of life, but when it comes to knowledge, to education, this seems to get a little bit different attention. And these universities begin to take this attitude or this position, and it's not the church, it is not the Bible, it's them.

They appoint or they are the custodians of truth. This is a cultic adoration if you have it. If that is your alma mater, what does that Latin word mean? Nourishing mother, that's what it means. That is the literal translation of the word.

If that is your nourishing mother and you are a Christian, you have not counted all things as rubbish and you got to get there. Otherwise, you will be defensive. You will put up these little, you know, okay, you can criticize this and that, but don't you touch my alma mater. Satan still uses knowledge to seduce men and women as he did Eve in the garden. He uses knowledge. We all want knowledge. Wouldn't you like to speak 30 different languages, just so you could ignore people you didn't like?

I can speak as long as I don't like it. We all like knowledge. We wish we could just keep knowing.

That's fine, so long as the tail does not wag the dog, and for Eve, the tail wagged the dog. You've been listening to Cross-Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston, of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross-Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at, or simply search for Cross-Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross-Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 13:42:21 / 2023-03-22 13:51:36 / 9

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