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A Persecutor’s Failure (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 16, 2023 6:00 am

A Persecutor’s Failure (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 16, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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To the believer, to move forward with the truth requires the Holy Spirit. Now, a lot of Christians are afraid of the Holy Spirit because of abuses, I suppose. Jesus said this, when he, the Holy Spirit, has come, he will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment of sin because they do not believe in me, of righteousness because I go to my Father and you see me no more, of judgment because of the ruler of the world. This world is judged and so he's dealing with Satan, he's dealing with unbelief, and he's dealing with righteousness in the middle of all that.

Specifically, how you can get a free copy of this teaching. A persecutor's failure is the title of Pastor Rick's message and he'll be teaching in Acts chapter 12. Will you still say before him who slays you, I'm a god, but you are a man and not a god and in the hand of him who slays you.

It's just a dose of reality. Like, how do you define God? Do you really think that, do you know the Greeks got it right with their, you know, assigning human sinful attributes on steroids to these gods?

Of course they did not. Nobody tells man who he is like the Bible. Nobody gets up in the sinner's face and says, you need to fix this and if you don't fix it, you will not be acquitted. You will have to deal with it for all eternity.

Are you prepared for that? And they scoff and they mock, spare us from those who are unreasonable. The Bible's boast goes deeper than these profound statements.

It backs it up. What makes the prophet Ezekiel and Isaiah whom I've quoted so far this morning, what makes their voice worth listening to? The prophecies that they laid out.

When they said something would happen, when they made a prediction and it happened, nobody else is doing this. Not, certainly not with near the regularity. Verse 23, then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give glory to God and he was eaten by worms and died. Well, of course it's not these giant, you know, worms. It's just gnawing on him, eating him like that.

That's not the idea. Luke, when he writes this, now he's a physician. That's, you know, he's a medicine man. And he doesn't want to go into what kind of condition this is. He just, let me tell you what happened.

This guy had some serious parasites and they ate him from the inside out. And how do we know? We saw them. Well, of course, again, he wasn't there. But the witnesses, he had no reason to doubt, they concluded clearly because of the timing and the events that this was a direct judgment of God. And history, history has others.

Well, there's one in 2 Chronicles 21, a Jewish king, but there's Galerius, a Roman Caesar, who got Diocletian to really put persecution on the church, one of the worst of all the Caesars to persecute the Christians because of Galerius, who then becomes a Caesar. And he gets smitten with an almost identical ailment. And it is documented in secular history. So this is not far-fetched.

We're not going sci-fi here. This is a reality. There was an outburst of parasites from this man's body and it made headline news. 2 Peter 2, the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trials and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. He knows how to do this. And he's talking about Lot, incidentally. Peter's referencing Lot, but it's a general statement.

Lot is his springboard for the point that he's making, but the point is God knows how to deliver. Peter was persecuted. He was delivered from the sword of this Herod. And so many years later, he writes this letter to Christians who are being persecuted and he tells them, number one, I've been where you are. Number two, God knows how to deliver you. And number three, the day is coming for me when he's not going to deliver me because he told me that and I believe it.

And of course, Church history says Peter was indeed martyred. So the man who murdered a hand-picked servant of Jesus Christ dies a horrid death. And that's not the worst thing that's going to happen to that man. The worst thing that's going to happen to him is hell.

And it is insane to think that because you've made it through tough times in this life, you're somehow going to make it through hell. Well, I'll figure it out. I'll just make a raft of something. I'll just buddy up with some other people. You're just magnifying your ignorance and your defiance and it's not necessary.

Is it going to make you better at anything doing this? Absolutely not. And he was eaten by worms and died. Again, Galerius some 250 years later would be, you know, for those of you who scoff at the Bible, that's just a Bible story, well, we'll read up on Galerius.

You'll find out it's not. It's interesting how quick people were willing to believe the writings of Julius Caesar and yet not the collective writings of those of the Bible. Many of them, most of them, never even met each other, lived at the same time. Well, according to Josephus again, he endured a terrible pain for five days before he died. And this ends the second Jerusalem persecution.

This is what happened. Matthew 25 verse 30, Jesus gives a parable and he makes this point at the end of the parable about those who are against God. Cast out the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He's telling you what happens to those who think they're going to survive hell.

They're going to be in pain and they're going to be angry. Thus, the weeping and the gnashing of teeth and it will be too late. And if you recoil at that and you say, I don't believe that, then go back to, he will not acquit the wicked. I tell you, unless you repent, you will likewise perish. He says that twice to them. They come to Christ, his disciples, and said, did you hear what Pilate did?

Did you hear about this other disaster with this wall falling on these people and killing them? Well, they were sinners than us and he says to them, I'm telling you right out. Unless you repent, unless you get right with God, no matter what happens to you, this is going to happen to you, you're going to perish. And that does not mean you will be annihilated in a state of unconsciousness.

You will be very much aware of your misery. Ergo, the weeping, the gnashing of teeth. To back this up, God has given us an armory of prophecy. Fulfilled, being fulfilled, and to be fulfilled. Just everything for like a cashless society. The Bible is called that at least 2,000 years before it's even been conceived and here we are.

We're at a time when we are fast approaching a cashless society. In fact, we're here. And so, in contrast to the impenitent, when a believer dies, their redemption is complete. There's no more suffering. There's no more chance of backsliding.

It's done. We will be like Christ. We will never be equal to Christ, nor do we care to be. But we will be Christ-like in the sense that we will be sinless. We will never again be susceptible to death, to temptation, to trial, to sin.

Revelation 21 4. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain for the former things have passed away. So you can come to God and you can say, yeah, well what about this and what about that and I don't know. Or you can say, I want that.

That's what I want. No more tears. No more dying. No more suffering. All pain is the direct result of sin, without exception.

A mosquito's bite is the result of a curse upon creation because man refused to obey. And the only way out is through Jesus Christ. And he's got more moves than anybody could ever number. You do well to place your faith with him than going around following the routine of abject sinners and just making up things about heaven and eternity. And so when you say, well I believe in God, the question stands, which one?

The one made up by humans or the ones made up by humans or the one who reveals himself to humans? To say you believe in God, big deal. So does Satan. He's still Satan.

It takes more than just acknowledging that there is a God. You have to join up with him. Line up with him. Become a citizen in his kingdom.

Find out what he wants and you watch what happens to you. You will start singing with the righteous, praising the Lord, talking about his goodness, his mercy, his great profound mercy that makes it almost impossible for Satan to mess with in an individual believer's life. No matter what you do, for those who are genuinely citizens of the kingdom, they cannot be kicked out.

You will not be without your passport. If you trust Christ, how do you say, well we're sinned about it, grace did much more. That's such a very simple formula. Don't let Satan come along and try to take that from you. Oh yeah, well what about, oh yeah, well what about, well if you turn into a blasphemer, an apostate, then of course you've chosen to do that.

There's no force on earth that can make you do that except you. Verse 24, or would you, pardon me, or would you rather just be some drone because some theologian told you to be a drone. Or you would just, why? Why be afraid of the freedom that Christ gives to us, the grace that we have? Many times we don't want to show Christian kindness because we're afraid. We're afraid the other person is going to take advantage of us. We're afraid they're going to see some weakness in us and exploit it instead of just trusting God. I'm going to show you grace.

I don't know what you're going to do, but I know what I'm going to do. Now I mean that doesn't, that's not for all situations. I mean there are certain situations where you can't show grace to someone. Isaiah even talks about you can't show grace to a fool. As Jesus said, they'll turn and trample you. If you're trying to break into my house, it won't be grace you begin encountering. If you come try to hurt my family by, you know, breaking and entering.

But I mean I do funerals for free. That's grace. Because see if you don't understand that, then you might have a problem where you're really not presenting a solid witness to the world. The Amish.

How many people sign up to be an Amish? Because of the way they think. And although they may have correct views about salvation, how God saves people, they may not have correct views about how we are to conduct ourselves in this life.

Okay, let's get back to this. Verse 24. But the word of God grew and multiplied. The word of God strengthened believers and made more believers. The murdering of James did not benefit Herod.

The murdering of James did not benefit anyone. This is a profound contrast between the opposing forces which were against the believers and then the believers. Herod dies, but the word of God, that grew and that multiplied because the believers were multiplied. So we notice carefully that that disjunctive, but, indicates the contrast. And it is vital. And so it has been through the centuries. Every time the church has been attacked, down through the centuries, sooner or later those who have opposed Christ are swept aside and the word of God continues on. In contrast to the word of Herod, the great orator, giving his speech, the voice of the God, that brought destruction. But the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the proclamation includes his death, his resurrection, as I mentioned earlier, and his return for the forgiveness of sins to all who had come.

Christ does not have, anyone, whosoever wills, come. You can't earn it. You can't be good enough to receive it if you say, well, I'm just not good enough. Well, you know that. Big deal. I'm not good enough either. Oh, but you're a better man than me. That's true. Of course it's not.

Nor would I want it to be. My flesh would, no question, leap all over that. The proclamation of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins to all who comes. We, Christians, have to pray for a chance to share the gospel.

Acts chapter 4, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Ephesians chapter 6, Paul is in jail writing this letter as for me. This is his prayer request. That utterance may be given to me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak. Now, he would not speak without the Spirit leading him.

And we're going to get this. In fact, we get to chapter 13, next session, and those holy spirits separate to me, Barnabas and Saul for the work of ministry. It's a fantastic section of scripture that I think, sadly, many Christians pass over, this being led by the Spirit. Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice. There are those out there, accomplished Bible teachers saying, I cringe when I hear a Christian say that God spoke to me. Well, then what does it mean, my sheep hear my voice? I mean, how do you do this?

How do you come to these conclusions? So, that just passed away when he said separate to me Barnabas and Saul. That's it. None of us get any of that anymore. A pastor, does he just preach what he feels like preaching? Or does he go before the Lord and say, what do you want me to say? In the early years of ministry, it was a lot of hard work and fun just giving facts and truths, and there was a need for that. But I hope I'm in my prime of ministry and now it's more, what do you want said? From what I have in front of me or from anywhere else in your word, what do you want me to say? And he says, you're doing a fantastic job. Okay, I've not heard that, but I know his voice and I'm waiting for it. But won't he say one day, well done, good and faithful servant.

Yes. Colossians 4, Paul again, still in jail. Meanwhile, praying also for us that God would open to us a door for the word to speak the mystery of Christ for which I am also in chains.

And of course, Paul was always careful. I'm not in chains because of Rome. I'm in chains for Christ.

I'm the prisoner of Christ. How shall they call upon Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? We're not talking about a pulpit preacher. We're talking about Christians sharing their faith. It includes the pulpit. The church is never safe from attack.

Never. But it is. A Bible believing church is safe from defeat. And I don't like it like any more than you do. I wish we could be in this bubble insulated from the attacks from within and from without.

But it just isn't that way. Our Lord warned us about attacks in Matthew 13. Attacks upon the church. He gave the parable of the tares, the wheat that was, well the weeds that looked like wheat a little bit, mixed in with the real wheat. Sneaky enemies infiltrated the church.

An external attack. And then He gave a parable about the birds of the air. The seed, the mustard seed was planted.

The smallest of seeds, Christ said, relative to where He was and the point He was making. And it became this great tree, bigger than all the other herbs. And the birds of the air came and nested in it.

An expositional consistency dictates that the birds of the air in context are Satan, represents the enemy of God. And so the consequence of abnormal growth, because the mustard seed is not supposed to be this tree. It's supposed to be a shrub.

But it becomes this tree. How did it get so big? That's abnormal. Have you ever noticed some churches are abnormally large?

What makes them abnormal? What they're preaching or what they're not preaching? That's what does it. And to withhold sin from the message that man is doomed without a savior and still grow?

That's abnormal. And the birds of the air will come and they will nest. And many people are attracted to a successful church by their definition. Many people are attracted to a happening church.

How many times over the years we've had, what kind of programs do you have for our teens? The same one for you, the word of God. Oh, I can't go there. Some of you were just telling me this morning, I didn't want to get it in my head, but it's there. About bouncy houses. I didn't get it all, but I don't have to get it all. Why is the church trying to attract people to church by putting up bouncy houses?

I don't get this. Is not the scripture enough precept upon precept, line upon line? Is that not enough for God's people? Preach it, brother.

I'm trying. Well, anyway, what about steadfast preaching? What about a persecuted church? This is the church of Philadelphia in the book of Revelation and the church of Smyrna.

Those two churches received no rebuke. I've actually read some commentators try to rebuke the church of Smyrna. Well, they were getting persecuted because they didn't like cheese on their burgers. Some nonsense. Then Jesus spoke about leaven, deliberate, a deliberate mixture from within.

An internal attack mixing into the church things that don't belong there, that bloat the church and take it away from being what was intended. And then he said the kingdom of God is like a dragnet. In the end, God will sort it out.

First Peter chapter four, for the time has come that judgment, for judgment to begin in the house of God, and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now I'm almost done. Another 20 minutes, we'll be out of here.

We'll be done. Verse 25. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark. Now this is a next paragraph.

The Herod session is over with. The worms got to him before he died. But now we come back to what happened to Barnabas and Saul when they brought relief funds to Jerusalem. Well, they go back to Antioch where Christians were first called Christians, and they take Mark, and we covered him last session, so I'm not going to go into that now, but to the believer, to move forward with the truth requires the Holy Spirit.

And a lot of Christians are afraid of the Holy Spirit because of abuses, I suppose. Jesus said this, when he, the Holy Spirit, has come, he will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment of sin because they do not believe in me, of righteousness because I go to my father and you see me no more, of judgment because of the ruler of this world is judged. And so he's dealing with Satan, he's dealing with unbelief, and he's dealing with righteousness in the middle of all that. Of sin, man is guilty before God, a holy God. Without conviction of sin, he's doomed. The world has no use for Christ, and so it's not surprising it has no use for us preaching his word. Of righteousness, well man cannot know what's right or wrong truly, and we're looking at this in a society.

Let's take your little five-year-old and let's give them a sex change. I want you to say that kind of evil. It's just an evil, evil men with weapons have to be stopped by righteous men with weapons.

And for us, the primary weapon is the word of God. The world does not know righteousness. Their morality, the Supreme Court can't define obscene.

I think that's obscene. But, you know, you can't tell them that. There's a higher judge. Well, of judgment, men are held accountable, and you can tell yourself all day, you know, God knows I'm a good person. No, he doesn't. He doesn't agree with that. He thinks you're so bad that his son had to die to rescue you from your so-called goodness. Bible says all our righteousness is as filthy rags, and I'm restraining the original Hebrew language that really emphasizes how dirty we are before a holy God. So I'll close with this.

The Holy Spirit, he is the substitute presence of Christ on earth, and he is available to all of us. He convicts. He upholds righteousness. You know what conviction is?

Conviction is you're guilty, and here's the evidence. He convicts. He upholds righteousness. He warns of judgment. Judgment's coming.

There's no way around that. The Holy Spirit is the one through whom God makes himself available to us, and he is every bit of the Godhead. He's not a lesser partner, and we're going to be introduced more to his work amongst the believers, beginning in chapter 13.

Even more, I should say. 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 / 2023-01-16 09:46:21 / 2023-01-16 09:55:42 / 9

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