Share This Episode
Cross Reference Radio Pastor Rick Gaston Logo

Persecuted to Preach (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
August 8, 2022 6:00 am

Persecuted to Preach (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1047 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

August 8, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
In Touch
Charles Stanley
Baptist Bible Hour
Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Christian Car Guy
Robby Dilmore

Shouldn't that alert everyone? Shouldn't that cause everyone to think, how did this happen?

What's going on? Why is it the Jewish people against the world? Because of Satan attacking God and God singling out his people. And the reason why Satan is attacking the Jewish people is because he wants to attack the prophecies and the promises and the work of God.

He still thinks he can win because he's insane. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of Acts.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Today, we continue with Pastor Rick in his message called Persecuted to Preach in Acts chapter 8. Here he is persecuting the church. He gets saved.

There is now, therefore, no condemnation on him. A wretch can be saved. Heaven will be filled with one-time wretches who are wretches no more or who are wretched no more. Truly, the wretched of the earth are sinners, but God makes a way of escape. Verse 4, therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.

You would think that they would be irritated by them. Where's God? I gave my life to Christ and now this is what I get? I'm not preaching this. I'm not going to invite others to suffer with me.

Maybe God has let you down in your eyes and you're a little angry with him or a lot of angry with him and you're sort of like, I'm not serving. I'm not doing this. I'm not reading. I'm not. And you're just sort of flying as low as you can beneath the radar of service hoping to get away with it. You're hurting yourself.

You're cutting off your nose to spite your face as the saying goes. This word here for preaching in verse 4 is where we get our English word evangelism. So he's telling the good news. Now Gamaliel had predicted, he said, you know, these guys, these Christians, they're going to go the way, if it's not God, they're going to go the way of all these other upstarts, you know. The upstarts died and then the followers were dispersed. Well, their leader was crucified and risen again. They're persecuted. They are dispersed.

They are scattered but they're still serving. The church is scattered but instead of dying out, it will flourish. Persecution has a way of filtering out those who are not true believers but make believers or those who just give in to the persecution and not to Christ. Verse 5, then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And so as the other Christians were going out to different places, escaping Jerusalem and preaching Christ, Philip does too. But now we're focused on Philip because he's a bit of a dynamo.

You can even say he's got spiritual dynamite with him as he moves forward. Were it not for the persecution in Jerusalem, Philip would not be here preaching the word in this region of Israel where this culture and these people are looked down upon and aren't really worth saving in the eyes of Judaism. Even though the law, the Old Testament, the prophecies of the Old Testament sent the Jewish people to be a light to the Gentiles. It never got traction, not until the New Testament comes along. And even then it's a struggle.

It was not an easy transition. Paul doesn't just become an apostle and says I'm going to start reaching Gentiles and the church in Jerusalem is going to back me. It almost seems like at times James did whatever he can to slow Paul down. Get him out of Jerusalem, send some people up to investigate what he's doing.

And it's just this very real fight. The Samaritans, they were half breeds. This resulted from the intermarriages with the Gentiles. They lived in the northern part of Israel and the armies, the invading armies of Gentiles almost always came from the north. Well, there were the Egyptians and the Ethiopians to the south, of course, but mainly they would come from the north.

Israel being a land bridge to Africa, northern Africa. And you can read about it in 2 Kings chapter 17 verses 24 through 26 just tells us what the Assyrians were doing. The Assyrians came from the north and they would relocate the Jews and they would put in the promised land other peoples who they had conquered. They were Gentiles and out of that was this half-caste people, Jew-Gentile. And then they rejected the scripture except for the first five books. They had their own version of the book of Joshua and they had many other traditions and things like that. And as a result, the Hebrews, the Jewish people who were not half-caste or mixed breed, they rejected them. The day came, and this is in the story of the book of Ezra, when the Jews were coming back to Israel from their captivity in Babylon.

There wasn't a lot of them. Many of them said, you know, we'll stay here in Babylon, work, you know, the economy is good. And there were just very few, relatively very few, that did come back to the promised land. And when they did, one of the first works they undertook was to rebuild their temple. Well, the Samaritans, this mixed breed of people, they said, we want to help build Yahweh's temple. And they said, no, you can't do this. You're not part of this faith.

You've got some sort of leaven thing going on and we want no parts of it. And they were right for doing that. Consequently, animosity continued between these two, even into the days of Christ and the church. So when we look at John chapter 4 and it says that Jesus must needs go to Samaria, he knew he was going to reach people there and he has this encounter with the woman at the well. And everybody, everybody comes out because one thing about that woman, she was no liar. She may have been, she just had a bunch of broken romances in her life, but she wasn't a liar. If she were, the whole town would not have come out at her word, that I spoke to a prophet that told me everything about myself.

In fact, he embarrassed me. He didn't say that part, but that's what happened. So this area of Samaria that Jesus went to, Philip, you know, probably well aware of the story. This is before the Gospel of John was written, but they would have had the story from the life of Christ being alive at that time. Now the message is for the first time really being proclaimed outside of Jerusalem and Judea into what others would have, Saul would have considered this enemy territory. And yet he's going to be the champion preaching to Gentiles. And so this is a further step in the transition from a Jewish church to a Christian church. It's not a transition from a Jewish church to a Gentile church. If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.

There is no longer Jude or Greek, Scythian, or just Christians. It's interesting that the world doesn't say, well, how did it all get divided into one people versus everybody else? Shouldn't that alert everyone? Shouldn't that, you know, cause everyone to think, how did this happen?

What's going on? Why is it the Jewish people against the world? Because of Satan attacking God and God singling out his people. And the reason why Satan is attacking the Jewish people is because he wants to attack the prophecies and the promises and the work of God.

He still thinks he can win because he's insane, as we would register insanity. Well, the second word that's used here, to preach, in verse 5, is caruso, in the Greek, not the opera singer, but to herald, to proclaim. It's an important word. The kurugma, it is an important word for us, to proclaim the gospel. Not to debate it, not to ask permission of people to like it, but to proclaim it.

And that's what he's doing. He's going up and he's saying, Jesus came from heaven to earth. He was crucified, returned to heaven, but left his church here.

He is alive right now and anything you hear me saying or see me doing is because of him, his active participation. And they believed it. They believed it and embraced it. And so he invites them to come to this Jesus Christ. So walls are being broken down.

This is not little. This is cultural and racial and this is heavy duty. When Paul says in the Ephesian letter that the walls are being broken down, he's talking about we're reaching people that are not just the covenant people of Israel. We are reaching the world and there are walls up and they are fortified. They are guarded and the people on those walls are armed and they will hurt you if you try to bring the gospel message at the wrong time without God. They will hurt you even if God sends you and that's what we saw in Stephen.

Stephen was up against that wall. So the Jews who viewed the Samaritans as impure, the gospel doesn't see it that way. There's no room in the gospel for racism. There's none in the Old Testament. That's the whole story of Jonah.

There's no room for this. That's what God was telling Jonah. I want to reach a people.

What do you care about who they are? Your focus is on what I'm telling you to do. It's a great story, the book of Jonah. I think when we read the story of Jonah to our children or for ourselves, de-emphasize the fish. The emphasis is on the prophet and his mission under the authority of God.

It's all about God but it has everything to do with people and the wrong things that go with us because of sin and the curse. Race, religion, culture and history are being overruled by the gospel here under the ministry of Philip who proved himself faithful in the little things. God has now got him as an evangelist, one who goes around leading people to Christ because God has found what he needs in that person, the ingredients to be successful at doing this. I think all Christians can lead someone to Christ but those with that gift lead a lot of people to Christ.

They just have it. Same with Bible teaching. Not everybody can be a teacher of the Bible to assemblies but everyone can teach the Bible. This is something that Satan likes to muddle up. Our feelings are not the compass that Jesus sails by. Jesus doesn't say, how do you feel, Jonah, about the Ninevites?

He gave him a command and the will of God. That is our compass. That's where we find which direction to go in. This is unfortunate that all of us are susceptible to letting our feelings get the upper hand but we can beat that back. It just hurts to do it but it's worth it. The consequences of allowing your feelings to run the ship are worse.

I would go so far as to say most of the problems in the church, local and global, come from feelings in professed believers. You don't have to be loyal if you go by your feelings. Who needs loyalty if I feel I don't like this? Again, loyal to Christ first, always, that dictates who we're going to be loyal to in the service amongst men. Paul had such men as Silas, as Titus, as Timothy, as Epaphroditus. There's so many men and women, Phoebe and Lydia. So many were loyal to him because they saw him loyal to God. That's what works.

It's a failure when it doesn't work, when that breaks down. This man, Philip, will cover over 150 miles, Jerusalem to Samaria, Samaria to Gaza, Gaza to Azotus, Azotus to Caesarea. He's moving around and we'll hear more of him through this chapter because it gets more exciting when we come across Simon the magician because that's what he was. He was a magician and then we'll get to him later on when Saul goes to visit him at his home in Caesarea. Verse 6, sorry, and the multitude with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits crying out with a loud voice came out of many who were possessed and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. Just from the bottom up, the paralyzed and lame and healed does not insist that they were demon possessed, but others were.

But they could have, some of them could have been, but there's no, you certainly can be paralyzed or lame without the use, the help of demons. But here he is, the multitude with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, not by debate but by proclaiming, by preaching, by letting the Holy Spirit take it further. How did the Holy Spirit take it further? Well in this case, the signs and wonders he used as helpmates to the preaching of the word, to the preaching of truth. It says of Jesus, because miracles aren't enough, you can do signs and wonders.

They had Simon doing his tricks there. They thought they were signs and wonders, but they were sleight of hand, but no one came to Christ or to God through this. They said, oh he has the power of God, but it didn't do anything more for them. Jesus, it says of Jesus, but although he had done many signs before them, they did not believe in him.

We don't need signs and wonders to save souls in this age of the church. We need the truth, the truth from the word. Pharaoh saw and felt the miraculous powers. He did not only witness it with his eyes, he felt it. When that darkness hit the land, I mean, there was no solution. And they just suffered through that darkness. And it's been said of the ancient people that one of their great fears was darkness.

We may take for granted the electricity that we have. Anyway, back to the Pharaoh, he remained adamant in spite of the signs and wonders and grew violent. He pursued the people, trying to catch them. You'd think he would have looked at the sea parted and said, whoa, I think we'll stop right here. I think I'm going to let Yahweh be my God now.

You'd think he would do that. But no, in rage, he just pursued forward because he was filled with Satan. Jesus was crucified and buried, risen and alive. He preaches this.

That's what they latched onto. And also that Christ retains the power. Even though he is ascended to heaven, he still works, only now he uses the hands of faithful believers, his disciples. The believer does not use God's power. God's power uses a believer. It's always been and it always will be.

What do you have that you have not been given? Christ says through his servants, his apostle Paul. So in the days of the first Christians, there was indeed unusual spiritual activity that was brought out into the light. Maybe there's as much now, it's just not brought out as it was in the days of the first Christians and of course Christ. But this is a transition period from the work of the Old Testament that God had done to the work in the New Testament that God was developing and wanting to do.

The New Testament era is here and it is no era. John's gospel chapter 14, most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also and greater works than these, he will do because I go to my father. Because yeah, by faith, sight unseen. Christians preaching the gospel, loving Christ, dying at the stake without ever seeing Christ, that's a miracle. Stephen probably saw and even sat under the teachings of Christ. If he didn't, others did.

We can understand him dying, the death that he died. But what about those that would come later, that never met Christ, never saw his face, never benefited from his tones and his gestures, never saw the multitudes, healed and yet they still believe and still go to their grave with the same authority and gallantry that Stephen did, that James would. That is a great miracle I think that Jesus has in mind where he says, most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also. Miracles are not widespread now, not as they were in the scripture, but they will ramp up again during the great tribulation period.

Just an easy one. You have 144,000 Jewish people become evangelists during the great tribulation period and they can't be touched. They have this shield about them. You tell me if that's a miracle or not. While others are being arrested and beheaded for Christ, they can't be touched. So the age of the miraculous events will return. Verse 8, and there was great joy in that city.

Well, you know, when I entered into ministry, my pastor, Chuck Smith, would say that when the word of God is preached, ministry will happen. Well, of course, hearing that, I'm thinking it's just going to be wonderful. This is going to be painless.

I never would have, if you asked me, do you think it's going to be painless, I would have said, no, of course not. But, you know, the internal stuff that really is the heavier thing, but it is still true. The word of God is preached, that's what we're seeing here, and ministry is happening. Even in the face of resistance. One great Bible teacher said, if you have no opposition in the place you serve, you're serving in the wrong place. You who pull duty here in church, remember that.

The days you feel like you don't want to serve, the days that you're in a foul mood with something going on in your life, maybe you don't like a decision that was made, a policy that was set, remember that. Remember loyalty. Loyalty shines in the darkness when the pressure's on. These first Christians, what attracts us about them is their loyalty to Christ.

Persecuted, but preaching, that's loyalty. The reason why, and the reason why great joy was in that city is because eternity matters, and the individuals that recognize that are the ones with the joy. The ones that say, I believe His reward is with Him, and I will see Him, and I will be with Him. There is a place for me in heaven, my name is at the table, and I'm going to be there by faith.

That is miraculous. And so these folks here, great joy was in that city because an eternal matter was established, and they knew it. So when David says, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, you see why the Lord was His shepherd? Because eternity was taken care of. That when David died, he did not enter death with doubt. I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts in praise. Well of course that has first to do with the temple on earth, or the worship place of earth, but its grandest meeting applies to the house of God in heaven, which the temple on earth was modeled after.

And so now I mention that Simon, he's a magician, and with all his tricks and all of his illusions, he could not bring great joy. The gospel brought the great joy. What is that greatness part?

What is so great about it? It is not emotional, it's spiritual. It's by faith. I know what things will settle. When I became a Christian, I was so sure instantly of how things were going to turn out now. I now could know, all right, there is a God and His name is Jesus Christ, and there is a heaven for me, and there is the trinity.

All these things just came into place, and it was happening for them too. Satan cannot bring great joy, he can bring carnal pleasures, but that is not great joy because it doesn't last. Sorcery cannot meaningfully impact the lives of people for God. And so the writer of Hebrews talking about Moses, how he turned down the passing pleasures of sin. So the passing pleasures of sin versus the great joy of the Lord. And the reason why many of us don't have joy is because we begin to lose sight of eternal things. We get focused on things right here in front of me, as though this were all there were.

And that can be true from your married life to your career, to certainly ministry, speaking for myself, we have ambitions, there are things that we want, and we don't take too well when those ambitions are redirected or canceled. So I close with this verse from Luke's gospel, Jesus speaking, and he's speaking about eternal things. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, Luke 10, verse 20, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. So it always comes back to the soul of man. Where is it going to go?

May God give us a chance to be part of that process to put people in heaven. 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 / 2023-03-14 19:14:15 / 2023-03-14 19:23:28 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime