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 his language.
I don't like him. We all like knowledge. We wish we could just keep knowing.
That's fine. So long as the tale does not wag the dog, and for Eve the tale wagged the dog. She sold out. She stopped listening to what God said and something else became more important. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Acts.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Repentance versus Retaliation is the title of Pastor Rick's message, and he'll be taking us through Acts 5 today. 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. The sermon of the most crucial matter of this 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. What 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, who are 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 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're 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 go 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, 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. Every Christian 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, pastors, 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 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, but 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 you 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 Christian. 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 us 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 almamata, 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 almamata. 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 can ignore people you didn't like?
I can speak as long as I don't like him. 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. She sold out. She stopped listening to what God said and something else became more important. To her, the serpent wasn't yet Satan, at least in her knowledge.
He was indeed in fact, but she was not there yet. It says here in verse 34, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. Well, Gamaliel knew he was smart enough, we talk about common grace, he's smart enough, pragmatic enough to know a massacre of the 12 prophets was not the way to go. They will later kill Stephen, but they will be a solitary event in that he asked for it as far as they would tell you. So verse 35, and he said to them, now remember this is the Gamaliel, he's a wise man, God is using him here, but still he is, he is not, he doesn't convert.
He doesn't go far enough. Verse 35, and he said to them, men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. So God is intervening on their behalf, he's saving their lives through Gamaliel. They don't know this yet, they're outside. And Gamaliel is going to speak wisdom without grasping their message.
He's looking at the facts, but he's missing the point. And again, this is something that we Christians can do when we come to our Bible, when we come to church and hear a sermon, we can miss the point, because we're looking for something else, instead of what God is trying to show us. Verse 36, for some time ago, Theudas 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. Yeah, well these guys before them right now are going to come to something. Have you ever read a book by Gamaliel? Or a letter? Which you have by these guys.
You've not only read their letters, you've studied them, you've submitted to them. Theudas was a common name. He's not to be confused with another revolutionary around that time that Josephus, the Jewish historian mentions.
This is a different one. Verse 37, And 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. Well, Theudas and Judas of Galilee, not Judas Iscariot, but Judas of Galilee is this one. They both resisted Roman authority and yeah, Rome had rule in Jerusalem. It conquered the land.
So yeah, there were all of the Iscari, the assassins, there were all these groups that were looking to break free, these guerrilla groups. The census that's spoken here is not the one in Luke chapter 2. Later, when Judah was becoming, when the Romans came in and they'd begin to divide up the land and put governors there, they would conduct these census to figure out how many people they wanted to tax for the Roman government. And this, this would excite riot in these zealous Jews.
And you could understand it. They felt this is God's money. We're not paying it to Rome.
It's the whole thing when they said, Is it lawful to pay taxes? And Jesus says, Well, whose inscription is on that? Whose image? And give to Caesar what belongs to him. Give to God what belongs to him. God is still saying that. Whose image is stamped on you? And take that and give it to God or give it to Caesar.
Figure it out. Well, anyway, that's what Gamaliel is talking about. They're all nodding their heads and listening to him because when he speaks people listen. They viewed it as treason to pay taxes. They submitted many of them, but the rebels, these two mentioned, Judas and Judas of Galilee, they did not. They rebelled against it and Rome put them down. Well, the big difference between Christ and those men is that the apostles are serving someone who's already dead and risen again. Those guys died and that was it. But Christ is alive and his movement is continuing on. So with those other two, their followers abandoned them.
And there were other such characters at that time. Ultimately, this rebellious attitude will cause the Roman armies to completely wipe out Jerusalem as the structure and kill countless people. Verse 38, 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.
Verse 39, But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest you even be found to fight against God. So someone who has not received Jesus Christ can say the right things, but it still is not far enough. It's like you could be the greatest swimmer in the world with all the form and speed, but if you fall overboard and you don't make it to a safe place, you die.
You didn't make it. And that's the case with people like Gamaliel. They can have great insight, they can borrow wisdom, but they can't identify God.
And that's what it comes down to. And this is the difference between someone like Lazarus, who was a beggar, and the angels took him to the bosom of Abraham, as the Bible language goes, having greater meaning to that of course, versus the rich man who died and went to hell. So this is true, it's true enough, and God has found enough of what he needs on that council, he knew it was coming of course, to use it to save the lives of his apostles.
But still, one must confess Jesus was crucified, risen, and is Lord, to be saved. And any fight against God is a fight against your own good. That is true of an unbeliever or a believer. This is in their own scripture. Isaiah 45 verse 9, woe to him who strives with his maker.
Well that's true, and we have to learn that, and that's why we submit. That's why we say not my will be done, but your will be done. If your final response is to Christ, just this pragmatic word of wisdom, but no confession, I mean I have spoken with people who have agreed, yeah the Bible is a good book, and you know I can't refute these things, but they wouldn't take the step into Christianity, they would not repent.
At least, last I checked with them, the ones I have in mind decades ago, but people are still doing this, maybe you know folks like this. If you die with just a pragmatic view of Christ, and you die an unpardonable sinner, it will be too late for you. And Jesus made it clear that it is not possible to be neutral when it comes to him. Matthew chapter 12 verse 30, he who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad. I think that is just very clear. You cannot be neutral, you're not neither for Jesus or against him.
Well then you're against him, according to him. Now remember, the unbelievers, they don't know this, and some once they do know it, they're still going to rebel, but others may repent and be saved. Verse 40, and they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. Well again, useful, successful in God's hands, still spiritually short-sighted, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, there's the resentment. They just couldn't let them go.
That wasn't enough. They were bitter. Because again, remember what Peter opened them up with, you guys crucified, you murdered him, you hung them on a tree, you guys are foul. That's what Peter was saying to them.
You're so messed up, what can I do with you? And they beat them, probably with leather whips, 40 blows each, that would be according to the law, Deuteronomy 25, 3, 40 blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these and your brother be humiliated in your sight. Well had these apostles been conformists instead of prophets, they could have dodged this beating, and that's the same for you and me. If we just conform to the culture, if we just lose our identity and begin to identify with them, and begin to go around the culture and say, what else can I do for you?
How else can I be like you? Instead of being distinct, we can avoid criticisms and mockings and beatings, but that's not our assignment. The apostles, this is an interesting thought, they did signs and wonders, healings, great miracles, yet here they are beaten and they don't heal themselves of their own wounds because it's not magic, that's why. It's because they had not tapped into some mysterious power in the universe for their own use. They were God's subjects and there was no other way around being his subject, and they're good with this.
In fact, they're boasting in a righteous way. It continues here in verse 40, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. This is the third time that they've said this to them.
It's like, third time's a charm, not for you, not this time. The world is aggressive and right now in our lifetime, aggressively reenacting this great sin today. This is a grand sin. We don't want to hear the name of Jesus. Ha ha.
Too bad. That's the apostles' response. Forbidding the name of Jesus to be spoken at graduation ceremonies, telling chaplains you can't say this in Jesus' name.
I mean, trying to just censor. You can say Satan, you can say Muhammad, you can say anybody else. Not Jesus. Well, why is he distinct? Because he is. That's why. There's no other name given under heaven among men.
No other name. And though they may not realize it, Satan is the one that's trembling behind the scenes. If someone is advocating this censorship of the name of Christ, a never-ending curse awaits those who applaud it, who advocate it, who are for this or are neutral in its presence.
I don't say that on my own authority. That's why we read the scripture verses. Romans chapter 1, verse 18, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. You know that unborn child murdering center that says, well, you can't preach the gospel around us? They're suppressing the truth.
You can't tell the truth about them. Satan has no new moves. They're all old.
But they are very effective. He doesn't need any new ones. People keep falling into the old ones. Look, there's a ditch, clunk.
Look, there's a ditch, clunk. He just keeps going. If by this man Jesus, the sins of sinners are forever removed, what penalty awaits those who withhold his name, who withhold the solution?
This is what we have to tell the world. What do you have against Christ, by the way? What is it that irks you about Christ that he does not condone perversity of any kind? I mean, there are various kinds of perversity. Stealing is a perversity.
Something is twisted. It doesn't belong. It's not right. Lying is a perversity of holiness, of purity. I mean, the list just goes on. What exactly about Jesus Christ do you not like?
Because if you don't like him now, you wait until you stand in judgment. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is sorrow and anger mixed together. 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 crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. 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 crossreferenceradio.com 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.
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