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Satan’s Blunder (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
August 4, 2022 6:00 am

Satan’s Blunder (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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August 4, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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A man has to graduate from the approved of God school. That is where pastors are made, approved by God. A pastor does not have to be, and usually is not, the smartest person in the church. In fact, the whole church could be smarter than him. That's not my problem.

I'm kidding. He has to be anointed to do what he does. That's all. It was at this word that Jesus is equal with God the Father that they ended their tolerance. That's what Stephen meant.

To say that someone was standing at the right hand of God is to put him on the platform with God. And they understood it that way. The cults don't understand the scripture.

They only understand the parts they can twist. Well, their intolerance is ignited at this point. And though the scripture sided with Stephen, they brushed that aside. Not only did Stephen look toward heaven, he looked into heaven.

And I think that's a profound thought. That God can be seen from earth by faith, by his people. God can make himself visible to us without materializing in front of us. In this case, he is materialized in the eyes of Stephen. Stephen sees him.

Evidently others don't. Paul's conversion will involve some of that. Those with Paul, they won't share what Paul got to see and hear. As Paul did, everyone gets to see Jesus on his throne at some point. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.

Daniel 12, too. Some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Don't downsize that word everlasting. Hell is not, there's no purgatory. Purgatory is not a teaching from the Bible.

And if it's not a teaching from the Bible about the things of God, it is called heresy. 2 Corinthians 5-10, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. And that puts Christ on an equal platform with God the Father.

Because he is. That's how it has been ordained. There is no veil between Christ and Stephen. There's nothing blocking the sight of Christ. Stephen does not have to run down and get a lamb or sheep to offer so that he can have this audience with God. It's the blood of Christ that is on him. And these things are for us, too.

Not necessarily in this exact format, but in a daily format. We can approach God. It does not have to be this dramatic. Verse 57, then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord. Well, this enraged mob never answered any of Stephen's charges because they could not.

When he made these, when he says, your stiff neck, which of the prophets have you not killed? They couldn't say, oh yeah, I'll tell you one. Because they were lined up with those ancestors that were guilty of those things. Having Bibles. Where did they go wrong? You would think they had the scripture.

Where did they go wrong? The same place that Christians, that Christians can go wrong. Titus 1 16, they profess to God, but in works they deny him. Or as we read earlier from Peter writing to the Christians, saying to them that they didn't obey what they read. They cherry picked.

They kept the things they liked and they dismissed the things they did not care for. That's how you can have the Bible, be religious, be zealous, be fanatical, and be wrong at the same time. Verse 58, and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Well, death by stoning was how, was the legal method of dealing with a blasphemy, which they were charging Stephen with. And I, you know, again, did they have little boxes like in case of blasphemy, break glass, grab a rock and stone? I mean, there's always these rocks around.

And it's a city. It's not like you're out in, you know, gravel roads. You know, I wish, I look at the video when I get to heaven to find out. That's a joke.

There will be no videos. It is the epitome of an irrational mind to suppose that men face such things for known fiction. It is the epitome of irrational to think that Stephen said, I saw Jesus rise from the dead or risen from the dead, and he is the Messiah, and then die for it if it weren't true. This is something you cannot argue away with these apostles. Had Jesus not risen from the dead, none of them would have died claiming they saw him rise from the dead. They would have been insulted.

People don't do that. People die for a lie if they think it's true, but if it's a known lie, it's very unlikely they're going to die for it. And this is just more testimony to the veracity of the scripture and the history that belongs to Christianity. And the witnesses lay down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. Well, Paul evidently told Luke this.

Luke is the one who has put together this book of Acts. He wrote years later, Paul did, almost 30 years later, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man, but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord Jesus, of our Lord, was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. So the things he was charging Stephen with was actually what he was guilty of doing, blaspheming. He is saying, I was the blasphemer. I stood there that day when Stephen was executed on the charge of blasphemy, but it was me.

We should have been stoned. They had their garments taken off because they don't want to be hindered as they throw the stones, incidentally. Their robes were in the way. Stephen, he had refuted those who were even from Cilicia, the men of the synagogue of freed men. It's itemized for us in Acts chapter 6.

Paul was from Cilicia. He admits that in chapter 21. And so he knew what was being preached. He was being picked apart with everybody else, verse 59.

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Well, there is such a thing as zeal without knowledge, and those who are killing him are doing just that. Paul would later write, I bear them witness, that is his own people, the Jewish people, the unconverted ones, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. God's word is a hammer, and it can be. Jeremiah chapter 23 verse 29, God says, is not my word like fire, says Yahweh, and like a hammer that breaks the rock, the rock's in pieces. Well, that's what's going on here in this section of scripture right now.

Stephen is using that rock, that word of God as a hammer against the rock. Jesus had said, they will put you out of the synagogues, yes. The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service, and these things they will do to you because they have not known the father nor me. So you can have religion without knowing God.

Again, Jeremiah chapter 9, Jeremiah says, look, if you're going to boast about something, boast that you know God, that you're understanding God. And the people in Jeremiah's day were devoutly religious, and they persecuted him, and they sure tried to kill him. This is the third murder in relation to the Messiah. They permitted John the Baptist to be killed by Herod. That was a sin against the father because the father sent John. They had asked for Jesus to be killed. That was sin against God the son. And they killed Stephen, a sin against the Holy Spirit, because we had read that he was full of the Spirit, doing signs and wonders in the Spirit.

And this is something that is part of our preaching to this day, to tell people who reject the scripture, to point these things out. Why did they kill John the Baptist? What crime did he commit? What crime did Jesus commit? What crime did Stephen commit?

Because everything he said was true. Just read Isaiah 53. Why did they not make the connection to Isaiah 53? It says here in verse 59, saying, Lord, Jesus received my Spirit. So here we see Jesus praying directly to Christ.

Paul prayed to Jesus also in 2 Corinthians 12, 8. This vision that he is getting here is granted, I believe, to those in the hour of death by persecution. He is still addressing their sin. He is saying, Lord, forgive them, meaning they are sinning.

He is not walking any of it back to his death. When Jesus said, Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit, he also said, asked at the same time, that his executioners would be forgiven. Well, Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit, said Jesus, but Stephen is saying, Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit. That proclaims, again, the fact that Jesus is co-equal with the Father. He is saying that he is being received after death by Christ, the source of life, the victor over death. A lot of doctrine in this. Verse 60, then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not charge them with this sin. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Again, this is the kind of grace that God gives when it is needed. Stephen, as with the Lord Jesus Christ, had a full life, but not a long one. He didn't get to have so many things that, you know, the family and the retirement package, there were many things he just did not get to have. He was cut off in his youth.

At least we presume he was a relatively young man. Jesus, of course, prayed the same thing. Actually, they were incensed at Christ in Mark chapter 2, when Jesus said, go and your sins are forgiven. Sin no more and your sins are forgiven. And they said, who can forgive sins but God?

And at that point they were right. Only God can forgive sin. And so Jesus, of course, equal with God. The truth may seem unloving when you don't like it, when it's cutting, when it's doing its work, when it's tearing out of someone lies that they cherish in their heart. Paul had to deal with this and it must have broken his heart. He put so much work into these churches for them to turn on him. They would not have known Christ had it not been for him.

And, you know, it's sort of like a child that gets too big for their britches. Galatians 4 16, have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? Welcome to public preaching. There will be people that say they love Christ, but you point out things from the scripture that they do wrong and they have no defense for it, they turn on you. Instead of saying, hmm, good point, pastor. Many Christians do that. Many Christians do say, yep, amen. That's what the scripture says.

But there are others that they're not so quick to submit. But in time, many times they do come around. The Lord is long suffering and not only with the lost, but with the saved also. And so the word of God, the sword of truth, it hacks, it stabs, it slices, it does the dirty work that needs to be done.

And we have to learn this and understand it. Galatians 3 1, O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified. See, that Gnosticism was creeping into everything.

This only I want to learn from you. Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of the faith? Now at that point, it was Judaism that was messing with them. Well, Romans, Galatians, Hebrews was written for those Christians who were trying to mix Judaism into Christianity. But there was also that Gnostic element creeping in, causing the doubt about a literal crucifixion, a literal Christ.

All of this stuff was going on and these apostles had to deal with this. He says, are you so foolish, having begun in the spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you now departed from being submitted to the Holy Spirit and His leading and you're now doing it on your own? That is his question. Is your flesh going to do this now? Are you going to do this in your own strength?

Are you now better off without being subject to the Holy Spirit? We don't have their answer. This, he continues here in verse 60, Lord do not charge them with this sin.

Okay, here's the part I wanted to get to. Saul, who was standing there just as guilty as everybody else, the only reason why he did not hurl stones on his own, we believe, because of the rabbinical writings, that he was a member of the Sanhedrin and he was not to take part. The others could do it and he was not.

Well, that is really not too important. He certainly agreed with the execution of Stephen, but he's benefiting from this prayer because he gets saved. God doesn't hold a sin against Paul. Saul at this point, he changes his name to Paul later. God grants Stephen's prayer.

What about the others? Well, we don't know, but we know about Saul. And here is the blunder of Satan. One champion is dead. A future champion stands in the shadows oblivious to his own destiny in Christ. That does not mean that he is forced to become a Christian against his will.

He has a big say-so in that. Saul watched the champion die and he was never the same after that. We get that from Acts chapter 9, verse 5. This was the beginning of Saul's conversion process and he didn't know it.

No one else knew it. No one on earth knew that Saul was being converted. What Satan did not know and did not see was that this man would be approved by God. At this point, at the stoning of Stephen, Paul was approved by Satan. But he's going to be approved by God.

So, any of you here have sins in your past when you were under the influence of Satan? And now here you are in the body of Christ taking communion with the saints, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ? This is the God we serve. This is the Savior we have who is abundant in mercy.

Abundant. It doesn't run out for those who will come and receive it. 1 Thessalonians 2.4. But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak.

Not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. 2 Timothy 2.15. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God.

A worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. I think it is a very ignorant question or supposition to suppose that a man needs to go to seminary to know the Bible to preach God's word. A man has to graduate from the approved of God school. That is where pastors are made, approved by God. A pastor does not have to be, and usually is not, the smartest person in the church. In fact, the whole church could be smarter than him.

That's not my problem. He has to be anointed to do what he does. That's all. He has to be anointed when he is in that pulpit and when he is ministering the word outside the pulpit.

That's it. God takes it from there. This man Paul will write 28% of the New Testament. Satan doesn't see that coming. Satan never saw that coming.

He thought he was shutting down Christianity and the super preacher named Stephen only to awaken another. Don't underestimate your preaching. Don't underestimate your life in Christ, your ability to share the gospel, how meaningful you are to Christ.

It's so easy to prove how meaningful every Christian is to Christ. Just consider what Satan thinks about you and you should automatically understand by default God does not share his views. Satan is the accuser of the brethren.

Don't listen to him. Let the accusations be before the throne of God where the mercy of God presides. That's why the chest had over it the mercy seat. The word of God, the rod of Aaron, and the manna had over it the mercy of God. Stephen leaves a testimony as a witness through all the ages. Without Paul, the New Testament was asleep within Judaism. Without the apostle Paul, Christianity was snoring in Judaism. And God raised him up and this is where it began, right here.

Stephen's sacrifice was not in vain. Had there been no man like Paul raised up by God, Christianity would have been absorbed there in Antioch. When James sent men to spy out their liberty and the next thing you know Peter and Barnabas were carried away with them.

Christianity would have been gone. But Paul rose up. How hard it must have been for him to stand up against his friends Barnabas and Peter.

How difficult must that have been to put his friendship on the line in the interest of truth. And he did it. Satan didn't see that coming. God did.

And when he said this he fell asleep. It's a euphemism for he died, they killed him. But his sermon survived and the work of that sermon survived. If you were to say, if Stephen survived and you were to ask him about why did you go off on these guys? With this, you know, you stiffened that, done circumcised, which of the prophets have you not killed? He would have said to you, the Spirit of God surged up within me and demanded that I confront their guilt.

That's why I did it. They were unaccountable, they thought, for murdering Stephen. Persecution against Christians soared right after this.

We're going to get to that next chapter. The admiration that the Jewish people had for the church that we found in Acts chapter 2 is now gone. The second blunder Satan makes in this story, I'm almost finished, Acts chapter 8 verse 4. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. We'll start in chapter 8 with the persecution of the church because of Stephen, and it ended up pushing the gospel throughout Israel and then into Samaria and then up to Antioch. It is Antioch where the Christians were first called Christians, where the Gentiles were really brought into the church, where the great work of Paul and Barnabas was, and from Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were sent into Asia Minor and there more Gentiles were saved.

Systematically the message would reach the people of the earth, and it all started here. I close with an Alan Redpath quote. Before I forget, as with Naboth, where was God when Stephen was being stoned opening the gates of heaven to let him in?

It was not a wasted death. The quote from Alan Redpath, the impact of my life upon the world depends entirely upon the impact of the Holy Spirit upon me. Let's pray. Our Father, to be able to know when to preach like this, to be able to know when to remain silent, all comes from depending on you, being led by you. Sometimes we just want to throw the word out there, cast the pearls before the swine, and then scratch our heads and wonder why it's so fruitless. But then in time we learn that if we just trust you, if we remain full of the Spirit, if the sword of the word remains sharp within the scabbard, the time will come when you will allow us to preach your son, the truth about human beings being sinners and lost in their sin and in need of a Savior.

And no matter what, anybody else thinks. If you've been listening to this and you've not opened your heart to Christ, then you're outside the mercy of God. If you present an argument that you think you still will find favor on Judgment Day, you have no basis for that, you have no right to do that because there is no proof or evidence, unlike Christianity, which has a plethora of evidence, proof, facts, prophecies, testimonies. If you want to be right with God, you've got to come through his son. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and there is no other way, and there is no apology that goes to this, just an invitation. If you want to be right with God, then make this prayer in earnest, and God will receive you. If you say, Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, I've broken your laws, and I come to you and I ask you to forgive me. You are the one that not only died for my sin, the penalty that I would face, but also the one who has risen again, the Son of God. I give my life to you, and I ask you to be my Savior and my Lord from this day forward. Now, Father, if anyone has made this prayer, may they not be ashamed of it, may they be quick to make their confession known, and we pray these things in Jesus' name.

Amen. 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 10:21:20 / 2023-03-16 10:30:33 / 9

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