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Undistracted Witnessing (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 27, 2024 6:00 am

Undistracted Witnessing (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 27, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Pastor Rick Gaston
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The idols of the Old Testament tell us that without God's revelation, man has a defective view of God. He can only have a defective view of God unless the view comes from God. Zechariah chapter 10, for the idols speak delusion. Man made opinions about deity. That's an idol. And it is amazing that, at least to me, or maybe even to you, that man has a defective view of God. Maybe I should put it in question form.

Is it not amazing that there's life at all? But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 26 as he continues his message called, Undistracted Witnessing. Go to heaven. He doesn't stand before these rulers, the governor and, Gripper essentially was the governor of his territory also.

Rome allowed him that title because Rome benefited from having Judea under its control. But, you know, they don't bring up, the apostles don't bring up, well, you know, the way you treat slaves, you got to put an end to this. It's just not right. Or, you know, they stay focused. They're not distracted in their witness. And when, if you've ever dealt with Jehovah Witnesses, when you start tearing apart their doctrine, you'll notice very quickly they try to get you to change to the next one. Hold them there. Burn their feet right there.

If you can't get this one right, everything else about you is devilishly wrong. If you can't understand who Jesus Christ is, you want to walk around the neighborhood making converts, converse, telling people that Jesus isn't who the Bible says he is. You got a bigger issue and I'm not letting you go on it. If you're going to come to my house, I'm dictating what we're talking about, by the way. So, and there's nothing rude about that.

I know sometimes I sound like I'm too, I don't know, maybe I sound pretty good. But, you know, from the first time I became a Christian, I never felt like I had to apologize for anything Jesus or the Bible teaches or does. And I hope I never lose that. And I hope other Christians have the same feeling.

But some are just more gentle in spirit. Well, I can't be that. I could say I wasn't born that way, but then that puts the blame on me. So I just blame the Marine Corps.

It's very easy. They did it to me. Anyway, God changes society by changing how people think about Jesus Christ. And again, we are living in a time of history where evil is being exalted.

It is getting more power than what we've seen in history. And I've laid out some of the reasons. You know, usually the problems were just, you know, immorality and violence. But now, there's still immorality, there's still violence, and then there's all these other twisted and sick things going on around us that just make you say, where did this come from? Well, we know where it came from. And we know what we have to do. Social Christianity always leads to forsaking the truth and to forsaking the Lord.

How does it do that? When you try to just make the gospel friendly for everybody. You know, ecumenicism is diversity before diversity came along.

Just to include everyone. Well, the reason why it's so deadly is because it insists on making room for those who are not serious about Christ, but serious about remaining who they are without Christ. And then nesting in the church. And there are many churches out there that are, quite frankly, nauseating because they call themselves a church and there's no Bibles in there.

There's no Jesus in there. And it doesn't take, you know, a rocket scientist or pastor to figure it out. I think I'm going to start using a pastor instead of a rocket scientist. Make us sound smarter than what, you know. All right.

Anyway, back to this. Therefore, the primary work always, the salvation of souls. But to do that, you have to be ready for that.

You cannot expect to, you know, you can want to drive a car all you want to do, but if you can't, if you don't know how to do it, then you become a threat to everybody else. Get a person right with God and that person will soon be right with their fellow man. Here it says in verse 3 that Agrippa, he is very knowledgeable. And of course, that's why he has been invited by the governor, Festus, because Festus wanted to benefit from his expertise on the Jewish people. Agrippa was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau, the brother of Jacob, who is, of course, a patriarch of the Jews, so of Israel.

And he's from this part of the world. He's far more familiar with what Paul is saying than what the Roman governor understands. And that's why in the end, Festus is going to say, Paul, you're crazy. But Agrippa is going to say, whoa, whoa, you're converting me here and we've got to put an end to this.

And that's where we're going to end up. Verse 4 now, my manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. Verse 5, they knew me from the first. If they were willing to testify that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee. Paul says, you guys know who I am. Well, actually, he's talking mainly to Agrippa and Festus. And he's saying, these people that are charging me with crimes, they know who I am.

And I was one of them in the past. So he's sharing his credentials and it's helpful to his case because he's saying, look, I'm not foggy about what's going on. I know full well what's happening here. And he says in a very polite way saying, and so do you and everybody else in this room. Even his childhood friends would have known from early on that Paul was dedicated to his understanding of the prophets and of their scripture as wrong as he was. And so they knew, well, he was letting them know that he knew that they knew who he was and that he knew that they knew.

Did I lose you on that? He knew it. He wanted them to know that he knew it.

So, all right, enough of that one. The Pharisees, the group that he belonged with, you know, they had come to voice strict adherence to the law of Moses. But in time they began to ignore the God of Moses. That's what dead religion does. It clings to its rituals, its rules, and it loses the life that only God can breathe into it. And this is something that even the Christian has to watch out for, that we don't become just those who say I'm a Christian, but there's no fire.

There's no spirit working in our lives. Verse 6 now, well, let me pause there. That's something we should be mindful of, but we don't walk around in terror by that.

God's not given us the spirit of that kind of fear. Verse 6, and now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. Verse 7, to this promise our 12 tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

So Paul is laying out, all right, this is what's going on. But he is saying to them, the very thing the Jews had hoped for from their prophetic scripture has come to pass. Major elements of our prophecy has taken place.

That's what he's telling them. He's declaring that they hoped for the Messiah to come. And the prophet said he would come, and now it is fulfilled. But they, in their dead religion, made it impossible to claim that God could fulfill what he promised to do. They made it impossible for God to prove himself, because they set the standards. Well, if you know, if he's the Messiah, then he would have delivered us from Rome and said, well, but what does the scripture say?

Well, they bypassed that. Years later, perhaps a decade or so, Paul will write to the Jews in Jerusalem. We write to all the Jews, but likely targeting those in Jerusalem.

And we call it the Hebrew letter. Now, many say, well, we don't know for sure that Paul wrote it. Well, that's you. I'm sure he wrote it. If not, Paul who?

And that's the position I'm going to take. Now, you cannot really argue that too much, because it does not say on the title, by Paul. But we deduce that. Deduction is a big part of coming, of serving Christ and understanding the scriptures. If you say, well, it doesn't say that.

Well, let me give you a scenario. John the Baptist is in jail. He's beginning to scratch his head and wondering, is this the Messiah or not?

Because if he's the Messiah, why am I in jail as a prophet of God? Isn't he here to deliver us? Well, Christ says, when the disciples come and they let him know, John is asking, are you the one or do we look for another? Jesus says, go tell John things you see and hear. The blind see, the lame walk, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. Go tell John these things. He'll figure it out. And that's where it's left. Are you prepared to say John never figured it out and went to hell with something?

Of course not. You deduce by the answer that Christ gave in his confidence that John would get the message and you would be right. And these are, this is logic. This is logic based on the reason of scripture. Or you could say it's reasoning based on the logic of scripture.

Either way, come to the same place. So the Hebrew letter, Paul is telling the Hebrews, you need to stop it with the Hebrew religion. Christ has made it obsolete. He uses that word later in the Hebrew letter. But in the first chapter, in the first verse, he starts off with this. God who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us through his son whom he has appointed heir of all things through whom also he made the world.

You know how powerful that is? He's saying the Messiah has come. He's the son of God, Jesus Christ. And he is God the son.

He made the world. When you read in the beginning God, you are reading in the beginning Jesus Christ. But he had not assumed that position yet. The world would never have understood that. So quite powerful in the Hebrew letter, Paul is saying God promised our Messiah.

He came. What is the problem here? Well they didn't want him to be their Messiah. Just like when you preach to somebody, they don't want you to be right about Christ. They want what they want. And if what they want is wrong, well it should be right. And that's why you see them attacking the morals of society with such insanity. And I would add to that the reason why they target the Constitution because the Constitution is in their way from globalizing a land that gives people freedom to worship Christ and preach freely.

So they hate the Constitution for that. Anyway, incidentally in verse 7 Paul points out that the tribes of Israel are not lost. Otherwise he would not have been able to say that he is from the tribe of Benjamin. At that time the records were still in existence and the Jews could track from what tribe they came from. They cannot do that now. So the Messiah cannot come now. Because how would you know he's a son of David?

The records are lost. Everything would be up in the air. However, in the tribulation period, they will again discover what tribe they're from and more than likely through the science of DNA. Which is just a remarkable thing that God has opened up to humanity. God could have kept humanity incapable of harnessing electricity for example. And if you take that away, how many inventions you could never get?

You couldn't have a cell phone without electricity or so many things. So when God opened those doors up, he was demonstrating to all who would hear that he is sovereign and he controls all human history. And that's why until he opened these laws up, laws of aerodynamics for example, men traveled at the speed of horse, rode at the speed of a quill, nothing really changed for most of human history until God decided to move it forward. Well verse 8, why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? Well there is an afterlife.

And this is a question that many people don't want to ask. Anyone who thinks God cannot raise the dead has a stunted idea of God, of who the divine one is, of deity. If by God we mean omnipotent, omniscient, ubiquitous, that's everywhere present at the same time. You know when we say almighty God, it's still an understatement. There's no superlative that you can say about God there. That describes him. He's always more than whatever thought or concept or words we can come up with.

But we certainly are to form or try to articulate our understanding as best we can. And so if by God we mean that he is all powerful, all knowing, present everywhere at the same time, then it's no big deal to raise the dead. The idols in the Old Testament, and they are countless, if you've gone through the Old Testament with us on Wednesday or any time on your own, you know how many times you come across idolatry. The idols of the Old Testament tell us that without God's revelation, man has a defective view of God. He can only have a defective view of God unless the view comes from God. Zechariah chapter 10, for the idols speak delusion. Man made opinions about deity.

That's an idol. And it is amazing that, at least to me, or maybe I should put it in question form, is it not amazing that there's life at all? I mean think about life, how intricate it is. The thoughts, the feelings, just how much, and not just with humans, just across the board. Life is an incredible thing.

Whether it's plant life, bacteria, virus, whatever is out there. Humans, therefore, if life, as amazing as it is, can exist, therefore, to me it's acceptable that we can live again. That there's more to life. If I'm impressed by this life, why would I just stop there?

Life is a wonder. So what is so hard to believe about an afterlife? Accountability, that's it. A man without God does not want to be accountable. So we either make up things about the future or try to just ignore it. Verse 9, oh let me pause there. See the things I'm saying to you are the things that are going through the heads of Paul's audience at some level. Just like when we witness to people. We're dealing with their concept of deity.

And they're either going to be left to have their idols in their imagination, or we're going to crush those idols for them and bring them to the true God who has revealed himself. Verse 9, indeed I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Verse 10, this I also did in Jerusalem and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests. Incidentally, the very chief priests that are prosecuting him now.

Not the same men, but the same office. And when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Verse 11, and I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme.

And being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. He understands his religious ignorance. He understands people's religious ignorance. Of course, his conversion is in Acts chapter 9. I don't know at what point to borrow from that, just to give you an idea what was going on in his head. Well, we have it in chapter 8, verse 3. As for Saul, Luke wrote. And at that time, when Luke wrote this, he and Saul were very close.

But he's telling the story. He says, as for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. In verse 1 of chapter 9, then Saul, still breathing threats of murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

He is serious. Something was eating this man from the inside. And he's going to tell, he's going to say, Jesus calls them on that, that very thing. John chapter 16, Jesus told his disciples, they will put you out of the synagogues. Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. There's some serious stuff, religion. Proverbs 14, 12, we know this one.

There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death. Paul was on that way when he was on that road, that Damascus turnpike to prosecute Christians. Incidentally, where he says, I persecuted them, let's see, verse 10 is what I want. I cast my vote. The Greek is literal, I threw down my pebble.

You might say like you blackball someone, my vote. That is an indication he was a member of the Sanhedrin and not allowed to actually participate in the stoning, though his heart desired it. Verse 12, that's the stoning of Stephen. Verse 12 now, while thus occupied, I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priest. Now this is his third time in the book of Acts that he's giving his testimony. And each time he gives us a little bit more insight. And he begins by telling of the greatest sin a human being can commit attacking Jesus' people.

He's saying, oh well, how could that be? Well, because Jesus said if you attack them, you're attacking me. And if you're attacking me, you don't have this Holy Spirit. And if you're against the Holy Spirit, how can you be saved?

So in that context, yes, the greatest sin that he ever committed was to attack Jesus Christ with the hatred that he had. I knew about that before I became a Christian. And it was because I was against a Jesus that wasn't the Jesus of the Bible. I was against the Jesus of churches, some churches that had concocted this Jesus.

And when I met the real Jesus Christ, oh man, it was instant salvation. And you know, that's what it comes down to is how do we get the other person to make a fair decision? Well, if we run around acting like loonies, we can't. But if we reason with them, if we try to present the truth in such a way that they can get it, we have a better chance. And I point that out because the people that I saw, mainly, who were saying they were Christians were crazy. They were just, you know, rolling around on the floor and just all sorts of other things. What does that have to do with Christ? Well, on the other side, you had those who just had robes and candles and they'd get up into the pulpit and never say anything from the Bible.

And they'd say, why am I here? And it was just the other side of man, if this is Christianity, you can keep it. And when Christ said, no, this is Christianity, then that was it. Verse 13, at midday, oh King, along the road I saw the light from heaven brighter than the sun shining around me and those who journeyed with me. Well, just like John the Apostle, Paul remembered the time of day that he met Jesus. When he says, oh King, I've commented already he was allowed to retain that title.

Because actually Agrippa, who was referred to as King, he answered to Festus because Festus was the representative of Caesar from Rome. Anyway, continuing in verse 13, along the road I saw the light from heaven. He's on his way to persecute Christians and that's when he gets saved.

Interesting. He's not on his way to church to hear a great sermon, as you are here this morning. What's so funny?

Anyway, he's on his way to do damage. As I got converted, I was trying to prove that Christ was a fraud with his Bible. And God said, bink, and that was that, here I am. So, and this went back to childhood, this carnal spirit in the kitchen, playing on the kitchen floor while my mother's making dinner. If God wants you to be a pastor, there's nothing you can do, she said. Not going to make me do what I don't want to do.

I'm not a little kid, man. Just this defiant, stupid spirit. Anyway, brighter than the sun, his first contact with Jesus Christ was alarming.

You couldn't say this was wonderful. Christ didn't come out, you know, hey Paul, here's a fruit basket. If you're going to get saved, it will include something that bothers you.

Now, it may work out this way, you're glad it's bothering you, but it still is upsetting who you were before Christ came along. Shining around me and those who journeyed with me, similar to Daniel's vision in Daniel chapter 10. 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 / 2024-02-27 09:05:26 / 2024-02-27 09:14:40 / 9

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