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Christianity’s Close Call (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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July 25, 2022 6:00 am

Christianity’s Close Call (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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July 25, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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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 have to do it. But you're not a tyrant.

It is a guarded gift to the church. It is unrealistic to expect that the one accord that the apostles enjoyed in the early days would go uncontested. It would be unrealistic. Same with you.

You're doing great in Christianity. It would be unrealistic to suppose that you're not going to have some kind of attack come against you. It could be in turn.

You could just get bored with scripture. That's a big attack. It doesn't feel like it when it's happening. But you notice it.

If you are perceptive enough, you know it's a big attack. It says here, there arose a complaint. The Greek word grumbling.

Faith fertilizes, criticism sterilizes. The wilderness Jews, you know, the ones that came out of Egypt, didn't want to go into the promised land because they didn't believe God's word. They were sentenced to 40 years. 40 years of wandering. Those Jews complained regularly. And what happened to them? They became expert grave diggers in the desert. That is what happened to them.

What a lesson is in that. Paul didn't want the Corinthians going that route. So he said to the Corinthians in chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians, he says, nor complain, as some of them also complained and were destroyed by the destroyer. He parks it. He stops here for a minute. Because this is a big point.

He's moving along, making his points, and he stops here. And then he says, making this pertinent to us, as long as we're in this world. Now all these things happened to them as examples.

And they were written for our admonition. Upon whom the ends of the ages have come. These things are preserved, Paul said, for we, the church, in the last days, which began with the Christ.

In the last of the last days, as signaled by all of the technology and world events. Abraham. Abraham left in Canaan, altars everywhere. If you wanted to find Abraham, you just follow the altars. And it leads you right to him. But his offspring in the wilderness, all they left were forgotten graves.

You can't find one to this day. Because they had become good at complaining. That's entirely what's happening here with these folks. These folks have a valid complaint. But it is an opportunity for us to address something that pops up in all of us. The ease to criticize. It's so easy. And Elijah, we're talking about Elijah.

He just came very easy to Elijah. Just criticizing everybody. I'm the only one and that's that. Anyway, back to what is happening here. Often the first evidence that Satan is about to strike is through a complaint. Especially a petty one. There's no mention that these people were rebuked for their complaining about what was happening.

Because again, if there was an injustice taking place, it was valid. And Luke leaves out any details that he filters out, you know, they don't need to hear. They need to just understand there was a problem in the early church and the apostles sprung into action and the people went with them. And they got it done. That's what Luke is telling us.

Problem came up and everybody in one accord resolved it. It says against the Hebrews by the Hellenists. I'm still in verse 1. Who got the extra scoop of ice cream? Well, the Jerusalem Jews. The Jews from Judea. Those native to Jerusalem and Judea. Those that were really keeping as much distance as possible from the Roman Greco culture that was surrounding them. And they looked at other Jews who did not live in Jerusalem or Judea, came from around the world or even up in Galilee.

They looked at them with suspicion. Saying to themselves, they're not Jewish enough. They're compromising our heritage. They don't even speak the Hebrew. They're clumsy with the Aramaic. They speak fine Greek though. That's how they criticize them.

This happens today. Some of the Jews for Jesus are a little like this, right? Oh, you're not a Jewish Christian? Okay. You go sit over there.

It's fallen nature and we all have to watch it. I mean, I judge people a little bit. Oh, you're not bald like me? I don't do that.

Nor do I rejoice when I see someone balder than me. The Hellenist Jews. These were ethnic Jews who practiced Judaism.

They were just as devout in their love for Yahweh as the other ones. But they had adopted much of the habits from the Grecian culture. Aristotle was one of the teachers of Alexander the Great. And when Alexander went around conquering places, Aristotle said, hey, assimilate the people to the Grecian culture.

Make the whole world Greek. And he did, by doing this, he gave us a common language to spread the gospel. The world didn't even know God was using them. The Romans were laying down roads everywhere. We all could come along and preach the gospel and build churches using the Grecian language and the Jewish faith as his foundation.

God always knows what he is doing. Well, these Hellenistic Jews, most of them spent much of their lives outside of Jerusalem and Judea and it showed. And this was the problem. And so here at Pentecost, remember, the Jews came from all over and thousands of them got saved. And many of them said, we're staying here now. We found this new faith.

We're going to stay here where the apostles are. And this created overcrowding. Many of them did not have a means of income. Many of the widows that were accompanying them as family members could not be supported. This was a serious issue and the church sprang into action. But there were dangers with it. And that's why, to this day, again, the church becomes sidetracked and she's no longer upholding God's word first and foremost but start getting into social programs, she stops becoming a church.

I'm going to turn to that this morning because I think it's that important. This distribution in the church became a distraction because it was nudging the church very slowly but very deliberately away from her assignment. We can take away social programs from a church and still have a church. But you can't take the scripture out of the church and still have one.

That's a hard lesson. We can take the teaching and the preaching of God's word and still call it, seriously, the church, the ecclesia, the Lord's. It's not for people to dictate on this. God has spoken and if they ignore this, I would encourage you to ignore them. Ignore them back. You disagree with God's word, I disagree with you.

I don't even want to hear anymore. You may ask, well, what about love? Jesus taught, you know, love. He goes, of course he did.

But balanced, everything was balanced. Jesus said, You gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.

And when you did it to the least of these, you did it to me. But he's speaking to individuals, not the church. Individuals make up the church but they still remain individuals.

We're talking about the assembly. Mark chapter 14 verse 7. Jesus said, What do you wish you may do to them good but me you do not always have? Well, we can say that about scripture. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of the mouth of God. We have this adoration for the word of God because the Bible does. That's why.

It's not something like, oh, you know, I like this one. Let's take this one. Better to put a Bible study in a soup kitchen than a soup kitchen in a Bible study. Would you disagree with that? Some don't get it. They don't understand this because they're looking at people first to define God instead of looking at God to define people. Is the church supposed to fix leaky faucets too? I mean, where does it end if the church is about the people? In that way, we are about the people. The man of his faucets aren't leaking and he goes to hell.

Now we're keeping things in perspective. Satan wasn't standing for this. Urgent needs should be met by born again church goers first.

That is the first line. Sometimes the church can and does help. Overlooking fellow believers who are being slighted in their culture, what's happening here in Acts chapter 6, presented a very serious problem. Again, injustice could not be given a pass. You couldn't say, well, you know, these Jewish Christians are taking care of those Jewish Christians more than the others and that's just the way it is. That would have been terrible. That would have been another crisis in the Christian faith that would have had to have been dealt with. This program, incidentally, does not continue.

And that is educational to us. The church does not continue to do these things. There are other needs that arise and Paul rallies the born again church goers to meet the needs and they do that. But the church is kind of left out of it so she can retain her, keep her mission. Division in the church is always a problem. 1 Corinthians chapter 1, Paul writing to the Corinthians, it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household that there are contentions among you. And then he goes on to say, this has got to stop. Jesus said, can a house divided stand?

It cannot. Verse 2, then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. I like that they summoned the multitude and the multitude responded. They didn't say, who are you? They were very eager.

To get with their leaders. And certainly not the entire thousands that were being converted. These were the people of position in the church. And if the murmuring disappoints us, the way in which the apostles meet the murmuring, the complaining, is inspiring.

And how the people react to the apostles is further inspiring, heartening to see this unfold before us. It says here in verse 2, it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Now these men knew serving tables. Nobody in this group served tables like these boys did.

By way of proof, I mean literally. Matthew chapter 15 verse 38, now in those days, pardon me, now those who ate were 4,000 men besides women and children. Well, who served them that food? Matthew chapter 16, Jesus kind of takes them back down memory lane. He says to them, do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five, pardon me, do you not, I really messed that up.

Let's just close in prayer. This is traumatic. Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the 5,000 and how many baskets you took up?

That's what he says. And then he says this right after that. Nor the seven loaves and the 4,000 and how many large baskets you took up. See those men were servants before they became leaders in the church. They were men now of authority because they knew how to be men under authority. And here it is, faithful in the little things. Now they're leading the church. They lead not only the church, they're leading Christianity.

This was a close call but these men rose to the occasion. I came into ministry serving tables. I became an usher in the house of God and in that church, we met in a ballet studio, which the men weren't permitted to do ballet during service. Anyway, it was a ballet studio. There were two floors. If the ballet was in town, we'd be on one floor.

If they were not in town, we'd get the better floor. And anyway, the chairs, the folding chairs, you had to set 300 of them up. And if you were on the top floor, you had to bring them from the bottom floor and load up the elevator 50 at a time, take them up, walk them to the next room, set them up, and this process would go on before anybody got there.

And I loved it. One time, the guys were late. I started, I got there, I started, and they were really late. I said, I could finish this before they get here. And I did. And you should saw the look on their face. They probably hate me to this day. Show me, well, you know, you were late. I mean, yeah, come on. You were not at your post. Anyhow, sorry to go on that rabbit trail. Down memory lane, I can still see their faces.

Anyway, I hope they can see mine. So 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 the 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. So the prophet is dispatched, and he's going to him. 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 there are 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. That 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 test.

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 thought, 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.

They still have a lot of the world in them. You know, a new believer can be full of the Holy Spirit and just a little clumsy still. 1 Timothy chapter 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's saying. Another of the Greek words has its root, erin boys. Those who go on errands, 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 errand 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.

Well, 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 influences, 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. This is 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, 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. Those who ignore this, again, should be ignored because they are disregarding what the scripture clearly says. 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 / 2023-03-20 00:26:37 / 2023-03-20 00:35:56 / 9

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