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The Angelic Face (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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July 27, 2022 6:00 am

The Angelic Face (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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July 27, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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You will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the Stefanos of life. I will give you the crown of life, the victor's crown, the winner's crown.

You will be the winner. You can inherit a diadem, a royal crown. Solomon inherited a royal crown. But the only way to get the Stefanos is to earn it.

The only way to earn it is to earn it. The only way to receive the victor's crown is through endurance, perseverance with endurance in Christ. If you want to learn more about the book of Acts chapter 6, you can click on the link in the description of this radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 6, as he begins his message, the angelic face. This is what is called the synagogue of the freed men, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. They were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God. And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes. And they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, this man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us. And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. The angelic face, that's what this morning's message is entitled. Of course, this sets up what's coming in chapter 7, where Stephen will demonstrate he knows the word of God as well, if not better than they do, where he will point to what God's word says and not what the rabbis say.

And then they'll kill him. He is teaching us, because you look at this short section, you say, well, what can I get from this as a Christian? Well, Stephen is teaching us how to be a target for Christ and make it count. What is an angel anyway?

Well, aside from being God's agent, they, the angels, are those who see the face of God as he is in heaven, which is a big deal for us here on earth. In fact, in Peter's first letter, he points this out concerning Christ, but it's true of the Godhead overall. He says, whom not having seen, you love, though now you do not see him, yet believing you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

I like quoting this. I like bringing that verse up, because there's Peter who knew Jesus well, walked with him, saw him, was around him, was very close to him. And yet there he is worshiping with believers who never saw Jesus, and they were giving Christ the same love with its gusto as much as Peter was giving, and it struck him. Well, the angels, they have seen the face of God. An interesting statement Jesus makes concerning children. Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. Well, of course, that tells us so much about God's care for those who are just too little or unable to care for themselves.

He dispatches his angels. But it also tells us about the angels, that they see the face of the Father in heaven, and this is the face that they saw on Stephen without really knowing what it meant. To them, it was essentially, and the writer is essentially this, to cut to it, they saw the innocence.

They saw there was nothing in this man for them to hate, and they hated him nonetheless. Stephen was seen as an angelic face because of the Spirit of God that was in him. He was full of the Spirit.

We just read that. And he was an agent of God, therefore, to preach and to reach those without Christ, to make converts. And in making converts, he made enemies. Well, there's something for me, regardless of what I might have going on in my life or not have going on in my life, because, you know, not to achieve what you want in life can lead you to hating life, feel like you've been cheated. It's not worth living. You just can't get what you want. And we all have to face that to some degree.

Some do better than others. But it is up to all Christians to prevail. Well, to preach and to reach those without Christ and to make himself a target of all the miracles in the Bible, conversion of the soul is supreme and it is a miracle. And the easy proof of that is you all know someone who is not a believer, who you pray for, you want to see become a believer, but you feel they are so far out there. They're almost unreachable to God, almost unreachable to God.

And if they're going to get saved, it's going to take a miracle. It's kind of eye-opening when you consider that there are some Christians that fuss over the gifts of the Spirit and pass this one right by. This is the big gift. This is the big deal.

It is supreme. Reaching lost souls, that is what Stephen was engaged in, and that is what caused him to go to heaven as still a young man. It is the one thing, converting souls, that the angels in heaven applaud out loud. So much so that Christ pointed to this. There is joy in the presence of angels, Luke chapter 15 verse 10. The angels of God over one sinner who repents because the angels get it.

And again, this is the face this man shows to his killers. James said this, he who turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. You know, converting the lost souls is a big deal. That's why the church needs to have teaching so that the Christians can become stronger and be what we would say up to grade, qualified and re-qualified. This is true out in the world. If you have some skill, you have to work that skill. If you are in law enforcement or the military, you have to spend time at the range to make sure that you can still find the target and hit the target.

That you're competent enough with your weapon. Well, it's the same for Christians. It's just that we don't go every six months or every four months. We have an opportunity to go here twice a week, other churches perhaps more or less. And those, again, who are interested in the conversion of souls effectively put on their back a big bullseye for a hell to target them. We should not be intimidated by this.

Stephen, he didn't flinch at any of this. We should understand that we are in God's hands. And again, no matter what you have going on in your life that's going wrong in your life, you are still basically accountable to preach the gospel any chance you get no matter what. This man will be preaching the gospel as they're stoning him to death. This is Satan behind this persecution of this man.

Satan, if he cannot defeat your soul, if he cannot stop you from getting saved, then he will attack your body if he can. It's the whole story of Job. Jesus said that Satan was a murderer from the beginning and that he does not stand in truth. And that when he speaks, it's a lie and he's the father of lies.

He's the one that produces these things. When Stephen was chosen as an overseer in the early church, he did not know he was going to die preaching to convert souls. But that's where it went, following the lead of the Holy Spirit, because it tells us again he's full of the Spirit.

It doesn't leave much room for anything else when you are full. This did not matter to him because once again Christ was worth it. And to live a life, a long life in Christ in a relatively peaceful environment, it requires that sometimes we consider these things and remind ourselves that whatever comes our way is worth it for Christ. Here's this servant clad in spiritual armor, first facing these people, doing it right. The Holy Spirit says, I want to write this down. I don't want to forget this. Not, of course, anthropomorphic.

I don't mean literally. God does not need to be reminded to write something down. But it captures for us, in the language we understand, when something is important, I want to write that down so I don't forget it, because it's that important. And we call it the Bible. So, when Paul writes about the spiritual armor that Stephen is wearing, and he will wear to his grave, when he said, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts, that means armies, of wickedness in heavenly places, the spiritual realm. Then Paul says, therefore, because we are wrestling against these, we are in contest with them, at war with them, take up the entire armor, the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, stand. Well, again, Stephen is clad in this armor, and he is doing, he is standing, and he is doing all to stand, and he wins. They kill him, but he wins.

He is the victor. We'll come back to that in a moment. Stand, therefore, Paul echoes that great point, having girded your waist with truth, this separates us from everybody else, from every religion on earth, we pass the truth test, they don't. So he says, your waist girded with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, that breastplate sticks out there. You know, you watch a movie with the Roman centurions, one of the first things you see is that breastplate. It's right there, of righteousness, because Satan wants your body, because your body is what carries the righteousness through this life onto other people. Without that body, what good are you?

It's an interdependent relationship with God. God said to Moses, what is that in your hand? It was his staff. He said, put it on the ground. It turned into a serpent. He told him to pick it up again.

He grabbed it again, it became a staff. God said, this is the power available to you, and I need you to do things for me. There's an interdependent relationship that we're to have, Moses, and I need to get it going.

Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. I like that he put that preparation in there, because to do anything effectively, you have to be prepared. You've got to put some work in it. Very few things in life that are victorious are just accidentally achieved without preparation.

It takes work. We're under the curse, and by the sweat of your brow, it will yield its fruit. Above all, taking the shield of faith, above all. Well, he's full of faith, because he's full of the spirit, with which you will be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one.

Had he not quenched those darts, he would have taken back his confession. Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that Jesus was Lord, but he meant every word of it, and took back none of it, and quenched their darts in the process. And take the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. Which a lot of churches get rid of, you know, sort of like, you know, no weapons allowed.

You cannot conceal carry in this place, nor open carry. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance. Perseverance means keep on going. Endurance means suffer while you keep going. Endure while you persevere.

I don't like it, you don't like it, but it's worth it. That's what our faith does. But I have to add this caveat. The flesh has armor too. The spiritual man has armor, so does your flesh.

These two war against one another, therefore it's not enough to dress like a believer. It's part of it, but it's not enough. You've got to go further. You've got to put it to use. Engage in the fight. You say, yeah I do, but I keep failing. But you keep fighting?

Yeah, well then that's what it means to keep the armor on and keep fighting. Because the ones that say I've had it, Christianity is not what I expected. They become apostates, they become lost. And so now, with that background, we come to verse 8. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Now in the scripture to be full means to be controlled by. He's controlled by the Spirit of God. That's why they can't withstand his wisdom.

He knows how to apply the word. He knows how to tell them, nope, that's wrong, to their face. A lot of times we don't do that. I just saw a headline that said a lot of Christians are against these transsexual things. Not Christians, a lot of people.

But they're afraid to say anything. Well that's not having done all to stand, therefore stand. That is not to be full of faith. We are to say, nope, sorry, don't believe it, fire me if you must, I'm against it. This is where we are. It's not new.

Christians have been persecuted through the ages for disagreeing with people who side with Satan. The outcome of him being full of faith and power is effective service. Now I say to myself, I know how to be full, I just have a hard time staying that way.

It seems to just leak out or evaporate or something. I've got to keep doing it over and over again and as the years stack up, I'm either going to get good at knowing about this or I'm going to become weary to the point where my effectiveness is diminished. Jesus said, you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the outermost part of the world. Which means that's us because the apostles could not reach the whole world.

Following generations, succeeding generations have. So just a brief review again of this man in verse 3. Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. In verse 5, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Here in verse 8, full of faith and power. In verse 10 it says, irresistible, an irresistible man of truth who they could not withstand. What is not written but is captured in the end in chapter 7 in the 60th verse that all of these things gave him courage and that courage gave him mercy and that mercy gave him grace and that's why he was able to face the stoning like a believer and call upon grace and mercy for those executing him. One of the people that he was praying for and did not even know he was praying for them who was present through this whole process was Saul of Tarsus who would become the great apostle Paul. And I do believe Paul never forgot Stephen.

How could he? Stephanos in the Greek. There are two words for crown in the Greek language and our New Testament comes to us through the Greek language, a very rich language.

Diadem is one. That is a royal crown. That is the crown that Jesus wears.

The diadem gives us our English word, that Greek word diadema gives us diadem in the English. Then there is Stephanos. That's not the royal crown, that's the winner's crown, the crown of the victor.

You participated in an event and you won, you get to receive the winner's crown, the Stephanos. His name means that and as we've covered so many times through scripture, the intention of the name in scripture is to reveal the intended nature. You can have a child and you could say, I'm going to name this child Timothy. Well, what is the motivation behind naming that child?

Was it maybe another family member? You just like the name or because of the nature of the Bible character, you want it associated with your child so that they can reflect that behavior as they move through life themselves. Not that it's wrong to name someone after a family member or something like that. My point is name and nature go together in scripture and this man happens to have a name that fit the nature of his walk with Christ. Interesting, Jesus says to this church in Smyrna, the church that was persecuted, where people were dying in that church. You contrast, which church would you rather attend? The nauseating church at Laodicea or the persecuted church at Smyrna?

There were other choices, but just the thought. Jesus said to that church, do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Well, stop right there, Lord, because I fear everything I'm about to suffer.

I mean traffic, lines, anything. I've run out of sugar. I don't want to suffer at all.

Jesus continued, indeed the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested and you will have tribulation, ten days. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the Stephanos of life. I will give you the crown of life, the victor's crown, the winner's crown.

You will be the winner. You can inherit a diadem, a royal crown. Solomon inherited a royal crown, but the only way to get the Stephanos is to earn it. The only way to receive the victor's crown is through endurance, perseverance with endurance in Christ.

Faithful in life, faithful to the death. These are the lessons that we have here. You come across a little chapter like this. You say, this section is a little paragraph, say I want to hurry up and get past this. And even, he does a long sermon, Stephen does.

I don't know how we're going to get through that, but we will. But to be filled with the Spirit of God means that we do not pretend that truth does not matter. Truth is everything, the truth of Christ.

We don't act like it's secondary, this arrival truth out there. The Bible overlooked this concerning human beings, but here we can produce something else. I reject that thought. I reject that kind of approach to Christianity categorically. Line by line, I reject that.

I don't care what the credentials are of those who introduce it, I reject it. I have the scripture. I can enjoy a movie about Christianity, but I've got the Bible bottom line.

I don't depend on those things. But I can, again, I'm not trying to smack down anybody. What about, you know, the Ten Commandments or something like that? To be a Christian means that we do not imagine that the spiritual gifts are greater than truth. It is the truth we are after. When we talk about receiving a gift from Christ, it is so that we can employ it to be effective for him.

Not so we can show it off. If that is your thought, then you need humility, which is not a gift, it is a work. A work of the spirit and the heart. As Christians, we do not see truth without action. We believe we are to learn things so we can do something with them. Imagine the lumber truck pull up to Noah and say, well, here's all the lumber you need to put that thing together, and he never put it together.

But he did. Jesus said, by this they will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. Now that's a toughie, because that makes me dependent on God. And that makes God, in this sense, dependent upon me to act on being dependent on him.

I hope I didn't lose you in any of that. As a Christian, we do not make room for non-Christian views when it comes to what the Bible says. Views about God, views about man, which is life, eternity. As Christians, we do not fail to see that truth is a responsibility. We have to employ wisdom. We have to know how to apply truth. I can know that somebody is going to hell that works where I work. That's a truth. That doesn't mean I walk up to the person and say, by the way, you are going to hell. That's not very wise or loving or being, well, maybe the spirit might tell you, give it to them.

He does sometimes, but it's rare. We know that truth does not move forward without Christ because it comes from him. We believe the gospel is moral and spiritual dynamite. You shall receive power, the Greek word dunamis, where we get our English word, dynamite.

You shall receive this stuff to blast things apart, yeah. It says here, he did great wonders and signs among the people. This is the first mention of a non-apostle performing signs.

What an honor. In verse 9, then there arose some from what is called the synagogue of the freed men, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, those of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. These are descendants of slaves, likely in the beginning captured by Pompeii about 60 years or plus before Christ was born. Pompeii comes to Jerusalem and takes slaves and sells them and uses them, et cetera.

And these are their descendants and some of them were slaves themselves and set free for whatever reason. And they formed an assembly, a church, a synagogue. Synagogues probably go back to after the Babylonian captivity or in the Babylonian captivity.

No one's absolutely sure. There's some hints in the Psalm. But anyway, they are freed, form a synagogue.

Like Stephen, these are Hellenists. They are greatly influenced by the Grecian culture, the language. They speak the language.

They have the Septuagint for their dominant source of scriptural information versus the Hebrew Bible. And it lists some of their locations, the first two from North Africa, the Cyrenians and Alexandrians. Remember Simon the Cyrenian who bore the cross of Christ? Those from Cilicia? Paul was from Cilicia, which tells us not only one of the hints that he is here.

He's present in this group. 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 / 2023-03-19 09:19:17 / 2023-03-19 09:28:57 / 10

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