Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. Any of you want to follow the Bible on this point today?
We'll be here till midnight. Romans chapter 1, For I long to see you, said Paul, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift so that you may be established. It's more than just saying, you know, Abraham was from Mesopotamia. That's Bible study.
This needs to be that. There has to be something that God is bringing out just for that audience. 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. And now here's Pastor Rick with the conclusion of his message called, Christianity's Close Call, as he teaches in Acts chapter 6. I got into ministry serving, waiting on tables, and it was wonderful. It was a noble and a high work for the Lord. We have many table servants here. I serve this table, the pulpit. But we have others that serve other tables throughout the church. Every Christian is encouraged to find where they belong in a church. If you're just at the phase where you're just receiving the word, then sit and receive the word until God says otherwise. In fact, it took me two years to figure out I should be serving. I wasn't the brightest light bulb in the lamp. But one day, I'm sitting at the pew right about that area of the church, and an announcer came up with a very monotone.
We need ushers in the ushers ministry. And God said, you should get into that. And I did.
And I have not stopped serving since. And so I don't undervalue the announcements. God can speak to you there also. Anyway, other ministries were not to take away from their ministry. Jesus' apostles were majoring in the majors.
And many churches have stopped. In the book of Kings, there's a story of the wicked king Ahab was commanded to go execute the wicked king Ben-Hadad of Syria. And he doesn't execute him. He spares his life. And so the prophet is dispatched, and he's going to him and he says, you should have killed him.
Now this guy's going to be more problems. And to illustrate his point, he acts as though, the prophet acts as though he is a soldier that lost his prisoner. And he says to the king, 1 Kings 20 verse 40, while your servant was busy here and there, he was gone. He makes his point. The king was pretty mad with him.
Of course, the prophet then says, haha, it's me. I just made my parable to you. But the point is made from scripture. He had one thing to do by command, and that was to take care of that prisoner. But he was busy with this and that. And he lost what he was supposed to retain. And there's a lesson. That was the meaning of the parable. That king was supposed to do what he was assigned to do, but he got into being a politician king. He got into other things.
He was wicked anyway. This word for serve here, diakonos, from where we get our English word, deacon. Now we do not refer directly to our ushers here, for example, as deacons, because all that serve in the church are deacons. From those who sing, to those who work the cameras, those in the chapel store, the cafe, the children's ministry, those who clean, you're all deacons. You're all servants in that sense. Ushers actually is a word that comes to us from the Latin.
It means doorkeeper. And that goes back to the Bible, does it not? The doorkeepers in the house of God. They were some serious guys. I mean, it was an honorable position. And when you come to this church, I see the men often open the doors for you to let you in, and lock them to keep you in.
No, they don't do that. But it's a good idea. Too many Christian activists are loyal to a cause, and not to causes of Christ, the person of Christ, and Satan attacks us there. So if you have a church, or you're in a church, and you succeed, you achieve your objectives, now you've got to fight to retain them, because they're going to be forces in the way of humans, claiming Christ is going to come in and try to take it from you. Because many Christians, they visit a church and they feel entitled.
They feel just entitled to come in and just take over, I guess. Verse 3, Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Church workers from church attendees, they were not imported.
They raised them up from within. This goes back to Exodus chapter 18. Moses summarizes this yet again in Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 1, he looks back at that many years ago. So Moses was overwhelmed, but his father, Jethro, said to him, You're doing too much.
You've got to delegate some of this work. And in his advice, choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you. And that's what happened.
And this is exactly what happened. And it helped the people survive that wilderness experience. And so there's the precedence biblically for the apostles to choose those of understanding and knowledge from among the tribes, and in this case, the church. The people were allowed to nominate who they thought should take on this task.
This made perfect sense. The apostles might not have been so familiar with all of the Hellenistic Jews. There are a lot of ways that could have gone. They could have said, Listen, you know what? We're going to let them choose. This way this backfires beyond them. That would have been wise, but I don't think that was their thinking. I think they just felt, all right, choose who you're comfortable with. Just delegating this out because the people felt cheated.
And to have their own impositions as overseers greatly reduced attention. He says of good reputation. Character precedes mention of being filled with the Holy Spirit. You notice that? Some claim to be full of the Spirit, but their behavior says otherwise. Maybe they're just not developed yet. They are full of the Spirit, but they're just not developed as a Christian.
You still have a lot of the world in them. A new believer can be full of the Holy Spirit and just a little clumsy still. 1 Timothy 3, where Paul addresses these things in the church. He says, But let these also first be tested, and let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Let them serve as servants.
That's what he is saying. Another of the Greek words has its root, Aaron boys. Those who go on Aaron, servants. And that's who we are. We're about the king's business. It's not a derogatory or menial task. It's an honorable position. To be a servant, to be an Aaron boy for God Almighty, I'll take it. David said, I'll be a doorkeeper in the house of God.
I mean, that's just, it's wonderful. But there are those that think when they come to a church that they should be allowed to serve right away. But the Bible says, no, let them first be tested. You don't know who they are, and they don't really know who you are.
We'll get to know each other a little bit. 1 Corinthians 4, Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. A steward is someone who manages someone else's property, and all servants of Christ manage what belongs to him, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Not people of talent, people of character, people of God. Being a hard worker is not enough.
We need more. If that's all you have, then you're leaving, you're letting other resources that you do have and are not developing, you're letting them waste away, evaporate. But if you are filled, you will work hard, because the love of the Lord will compel you. Christian character, it is not in good doing. Christian character is not in good doing, it is in Christ-likeness. And that Christ-likeness will do good. And this is the balance between show me your deeds and I'll show you your faith, show me your faith and I'll show you my deeds. It's a perfect balance, it's a paradox, it's not a contradiction. Character counts because it exerts influence.
It makes things happen or stops things from happening. So men of reputation, but are they wise enough? Okay, they're good, but are they wise enough for this job? Full of the Holy Spirit, okay, yeah, they're not disputing that, but have they been tested to see how they operate under pressure?
Wisdom, okay, they're wise, but do they have the Spirit? See, it's all tied in together. And over the years we've come across Christians get offended at this. It's like they just say, I'm here now and you need to know that you need help and I'm that helper and move over. And we laugh at them so hard, we roll on the floor pointing at them, holding our belly, giggling. Okay, we don't do that, but the flesh would like us to do that. We don't, never, it's disappointing.
I mean, we take our work very seriously until I make little jokes like that, because I know that you were thinking the same thing and you were in my spot. Anyway, whom we may appoint over this business? Well, you can either support pastoral authority or you can challenge it. The people here are going to support it. When Paul gets to Corinth, they're going to challenge it.
Which one are you in the picture? Pastoral authority, it is not a power trip. 1 Peter 5 verses 1 through 3, lay it right out, not as lording over the flock, but shepherds of the house of God.
You have to lead, but you're not a tyrant. It is a guarded gift to the church. And those who ignore this, again, should be ignored, because they are disregarding what the scripture clearly says. And this subtle deception to redirect pastors from prayer and ministry of the word, and catch that now, ministry of the word goes far beyond Bible study. It is a little annoying that someone says, well, all I want to do is teach the Bible, yeah? Well, the pastors are in the trenches with the people. They're doing a whole lot more than just teaching the Bible. Teaching the Bible is paramount, but are you taking hits for the people? Are you putting up with the stuff that Christians can sling at you?
Are you upholding what God has said to uphold, no matter the criticisms that come your way? This church has had a high concentration of men serving in the children's ministry. Fortunately, not the nursery, but with the other children. They're teaching the word of God, and that means learning the word of God. If you can't teach children, you know you've got to question if you're able to teach adults. Children will put you into a whole other zone, and you parents, you know this, because they ask these questions like, man, where did that come from? How do I know the answer to that?
I don't. That's why I'd rather teach you than them. They're smarter. Well, verse 4, but we will give ourselves continually to prayer in the ministry of the word. If they do not pray, then how will they know what to say?
If they do not pray, how will they know how to apply what has been said? We are interdependent. This goes back. Let's take it from 2 Chronicles chapter 31. Moreover, this is David setting up the temple worship.
He commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites that they might devote themselves to the law of Yahweh. I love how the Bible ties it into everything. You can't make this stuff up. If the human authored this, it would be so clumsy, the misfits would be all over the place.
But they're locked in, and the deeper you dig into them, the more you find. It's supernatural. The pastor is not just giving a Bible study. He is supposed to deliver a message. Acts chapter 4, Peter said, For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Well, that means he's got to get with God to do that, and that's exactly what happened with Peter.
They walked with Christ for three and a half years. Now in the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. Any of you want to follow the Bible on this point today?
We'll be here till midnight. Romans chapter 1, For I long to see you, said Paul, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift so that you may be established. It's more than just saying, you know, Abraham was from Mesopotamia. That's Bible study. This needs to be that. There has to be something that God is bringing out just for that audience.
And I like this system. Prayer in the ministry of the word. Notice the order, because it is significant. First prayer, then ministry of the word. They made a point to speak to God before they spoke to men.
And that is the simple meaning. And the ministry of the word, it says here at the bottom of verse 4. Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs, tend his sheep, and feed his sheep. And the feeding is a metaphor for the teaching of the word of God. And that tending is the ministry of the word, going beyond just the teaching. Yeah, the hospital visits, the marriage ceremonies, the premarital counselings.
The counselings and the problems that come up in the lives of people. There at the graveside, administering the word of God. The ministry of the word. A congregation should demand this if they're not getting it. Luke chapter 1.
Luke talks about, I did a lot of research on this. He says, just as those from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered to us. I got goosebumps reading this, because this is from God to us.
It gives us that confidence that can't be shaken easily. Paul wrote to Titus, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound teaching, sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. When you're picking up the bullets, these are bullets for us to use against the forces of hell. Don't forget these things, because Satan does not want you to have them as special in your heart. He does not want you to uphold them.
He wants you to compromise them. Verse 5, and the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith in the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas, a proselyte from Antioch. Christianity at work, and the saying pleased the multitude. Thank God it can be done. If they can do it, we can do it. We don't have to look at this and say, well, they had faith.
What does that mean? God does not impart faith anymore? Judges chapter 5, this is when Deborah and Barak, Barak, sorry, I keep doing that and I need to correct it, defeated the Midianites, and they wrote a song about it. When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless Yahweh. The church is to lead by consent, and that's a picture of it from Judges 5, verse 2. And they chose Stephen.
Boy, man, he is a dynamo. Stephen is the one who's going to get Paul saved. Anyway, they chose Stephen, a man full of faith in the Holy Spirit. Yeah, he became the first martyr in the church. The church wasn't established until Pentecost. We had Christianity phase in through, of course, our Lord, his cross and his resurrection. The apostles did not dictate denominations. They, of course, included the people. Stephen stood out. Did these men just named come from the 3,000 that were saved at Pentecost?
Well, we don't know for sure. Philip is mentioned, and Philip. He became really the first missionary of the church. We read this about him when Paul goes to visit him in Acts chapter 21. Philip the evangelist. See, he moved up. He started out just serving tables.
The next thing you know, God is miraculously using him as he becomes a pastor, and then he's known as the evangelist. His daughters were just quick to sing songs of praise to the Lord, carrying the gospel to Samaria. And also, there was the event with the Ethiopian.
I'm so looking forward to these events. The other men, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, we know nothing else about them. There are these articles, little stuff here and there, but you can't count on those histories. The Bible doesn't say anything else. Nicholas, a proselyte. Nicholas, like Luke, was a gentile, and Nicholas became a Jew. He was attracted to the Jewish faith, not ethnically, religiously. And in doing this, he then becomes a Christian. He follows it to its conclusion. The Messiah is Christ.
He realizes that, and that's an interesting one. Cornelius will come along, but Cornelius would be the first gentile. Cornelius did not become a proselyte, though he loved the Jewish people. Verse 6, whom they set before the apostles, and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. They didn't just say, okay, these are your nominations.
That's fine. They prayed. Is there anything we're missing here about these people?
Is there anything we should know about these people before we go ahead and go forward with this? Christ's given authority was not wasted in these men nor the church. And when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. They placed their hands on them to pray for them.
That's what this means. This was now spiritual and officially spiritual, their appointment. We practice it to this day. It was practiced in Deuteronomy 34, where Moses did this, laid hands on Joshua. Jesus uses our hands as his hands. He uses our voice to say what he wants to say. This is that interdependence that I was referring to. If you are totally dependent on God in the sense that I'm using it, then how can he get anything done through you? You're waiting for him to do it all. If you're interdependent with God as he has arranged it, you get a lot done that way.
Of course, in one sense, we're totally dependent on God, but that is not the context that I am using it. Verse 7, we're almost done. Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
It's exciting to be in Jerusalem right now. Then the word of God spread, as Luke emphasizes throughout Acts, is the direct outcome of how Christianity responded to the injustice, how they lovingly responded to that threat that was a very close call. Again, what would have happened if the apostles said, okay, we'll do that, never mind scripture, never mind prep. What would it look like? What would you look like if there was no prayer and no scripture in your life and you claim Christ? What would happen to you? What would not happen to you?
Maybe we'll put it that way. What could happen to you if you were a child of prayer and a student of the word? That doesn't mean you've got to be writing dissertations on the Greek or something like that. It just means you need to be in the word, at least your devotional time, and put it into action. The apostles being clear about their role, their calling, which was to pray and to preach, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, again, emphatic. The first task of the believer is not to make disciples. The first goal of a new believer is not to make disciples. It is to be a disciple, and then that makes disciples. Otherwise, Matthew 7, how can you say to your brother, let me remove the speck from your eye, and look, you have a plank sticking out your own. So it's a basic principle of addressing oneself first, not waiting to be perfect, but certainly beginning the necessary steps. Do you know, if you've been around Christianity long enough, and you've been around other Christians, you're discipling.
It's a beautiful process. How do people learn Christianity without other Christians? I've learned so much about pastoral ministry from Chuck Smith. I would be like so many other churches.
Well, maybe not that bad, but I mean, there's so much I've learned about. One of the great ones is seamless ministry, where you're ministered the word, and you're not even mindful of all the things that go into making an environment by which you can sit without distraction and receive what God has to say. There's so much that goes into it, so many servants that make it happen. Well, and a great many of priests were obedient to the faith. Would these guys become the problem that ends up in Antioch? Would these guys be so possessive of their heritage that they would not give in to grace? Would the transition from the law of Moses to the grace of Messiah Christ be too much for them? Would they cling to what God was making obsolete?
Because people do it today. They come from a denomination or another church, and they cling to something. Even if the Bible has said this is not the way to do it, it's very difficult sometimes for people to learn this. Would they be the Judaizers who would make life miserable for the Apostle Paul?
Would they be new wineskins or old wineskins? When the Spirit of God poured into them, will they burst and make a mess all over the place because they refused the flexibility that was offered to them through grace? This coming to Christ of the priest would be something that the devout Jews likely were really upset about, and this would contribute more than likely to the confrontations that Stephen is going to deal with.
Stephen is going to be up in their face, and he's not going to put up with it. But it wasn't for Philip to do that, so we have to understand. That's who God made in Stephen.
He did not do the same thing in Philip, but he used both of them in a very mighty way. So, in closing, the lessons from the book of Acts. Are they unpleasant to you because you've learned Christianity in a different way? You have a different brand of church? Or are you seeing that, you know, this is how the first Christians did it, and it's preserved for us to follow the example, to be a disciple?
Or are you inflexible? It's up to you. It's up to me, too. Some things in the Bible I don't care for. That whole thing about turning the other cheek, who likes that? Raise your hand.
But that's, you know, that merits a whole lesson. 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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