It is by consent free will. That's love. You cannot have love without free will.
It's not possible. No one knows of any love without free will. You can't say, okay, I love you, but I don't want to love you because I hate you. No, I know, I know, I know. We can love somebody because maybe they're breaking our hearts.
We're going to stop loving them. I don't mean in that context. Love is something that we want to do to God, not that we're forced to do. 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. Now here's Pastor Rick with part two of his message, Brother Saul, in Acts chapter nine. Paul says, who alone, the king of kings, who alone has immortality dwelling in unapproachable light. When God wants to turn it on, no one can endure it.
It's too powerful. He told the prophet Elijah and he told Moses, you can't look at me. I'll hide you in the cleft of the rock. Hebrews chapter one, verse three, speaking of Christ, and I believe Paul writing this, who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of majesty on high where he deserved to be. You know, you can't call anyone Lord but Christ and not enter into blasphemy. You cannot say the Lord Peter, the Lord Michael. It is the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is distinct. It is exclusive and it speaks of his deity, that he is God the Son. When Jesus prayed in John 17, which is truly the Lord's prayer, because it is him praying, whereas in Matthew 6, when he says, you know, our Father who art in heaven, really the disciples prayed. He's telling them how to pray. But back to John 17, Jesus said, and now, oh Father, glorify me together with yourself.
Who can say that? Who can say to God, put me on the level with you, glorify me with you? This is things that the Jehovah Witnesses don't want to even know about.
All the Mormons, they are the two leading proponents of rejecting who Jesus is. He continues in John 17, with the glory which I had with you before the world was. He came forth from the Father. And this is that light that is a signature move of God to come with this light into the presence of humans. Light is the one thing that cannot be soiled.
You can't dirty light. Verse 4, then he fell on the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? So he's intercepted, didn't see this coming. When he got up that morning, he did not.
There was no clue in his mind what his day had in store for him and his future. His conversion is a picture of how the nation of Israel will be saved when Jesus returns. It's a little picture of that. But he says, the Lord does, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
Twice repeated, it's common. Abraham, Abraham, Moses, Moses, Samuel, Samuel, Martha, Martha, Simon, Simon. When the Lord wants to emphasize something, he knows how to do it. When the Lord wants to talk to you or me, he knows how to do that. But he does not say, why are you persecuting them? He says, why are you persecuting me?
This is personal. You touch the people of Christ, you're touching Christ. Whether it is for love or whether you are being hostile, in this very instant, Saul learned that to touch Christ was to touch believers. Matthew 25, Jesus said, I say to you, as much as you did it to the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me. Whether it is good or bad, if you are messing with God's people or if you are blessing God's people, you are doing it to Christ. And it's interesting that you look at the Old Testament and God most often referred to the Jews as my people. But here, to the church, he refers to them as me.
Pretty insightful. Of course, the church is Jew-gentile. There's no distinction. They're one. They're Christians. They're no longer Jews. They're no longer Gentiles. They're Christians now.
And we'll come back to that. And that's what the whole letter to the Hebrews is all about. You're now Christians. You're not supposed to be engaging in those things that have been made obsolete because Christ has fulfilled them.
Think not how they came to destroy the law but to fulfill it in the same way that an oak tree makes an acorn obsolete. It outgrows it. It becomes something else. But not without that acorn. I like when I pull up acorns in the spring, you pull them, there's still saplings and the acorn is still attached to the sprout. And it always reminds me of what Jesus has done and what he said. Think not that I've come to destroy but to fulfill.
And that acorn has fulfilled its role in bringing life into the world. Verse 5, and he said, Who are you, Lord? Then the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Instant conversion. Who are you, Lord? At that point he is saved. What Jesus could not get from Judas in three years he gets from Saul in three seconds.
It's instant. Others before Saul had spectacular encounters with God, even more so than this, and still died in unbelief. Cain, Balaam, Pharaoh of Egypt, Korah who rebelled against the authority of Moses and Aaron, and Judas Iscariot. But Saul's not wasting this.
He's going to take it all. How many people go to church and waste it? I mean a good church. They can go to a bad church and not waste any of that.
But go to a good church and waste it. They don't even know when they're getting good pastoral care, good Bible studies, but they don't even recognize when the people are genuinely loving towards them and they have opportunities to serve. It goes right over their heads.
It's unfortunate. I don't have an antidote for it except to press forward and let the Lord sort it out. Then the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. He asked, who are you, Lord? He's submitted completely to whoever this is engaging him and he wants to know. The Christian has to live their life asking Christ who are you more and more.
Whatever we learn about him, there's more to learn about him and that appetite should never go away. So he repeats this. Jesus does, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. He's repeating this from verse 4 for clarification. It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Goads is plural here. It has been poking him, poking. You know, Shamgar, the judge, defeated the enemies of God's people with an ox goad. It's a stick with a point on it. Little variations but essentially you poke the ox and there's not much the ox can do about it. He can kick all he wants. That sticks long enough.
He's going to get poked into submission. Today we use electronic cattle. Well, I don't when I say we.
People use electronic cattle prods. They hurt. I know that.
I've had a little one zap me when I was a kid but my mom thought I was a goat or something. Anyway, it is hard for you to kick against the goads. You can't escape the truth.
You know that everything Stephen said is right. You can't get away. This gives the authority while he is still seething, still wreaking havoc on the church. Why is he still at it? It's because the goads, the truth. Why fight it so? You can't escape it. He's in a bear hug.
The truth has got him in a bear hug. Ecclesiastes 12 verse 11. The words of the wise are like goads and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails given by one shepherd.
They're driven in and they're driven in with care. The shepherd speaks of care. It's not malicious and Stephen's sermon was not malicious. Which of the prophets do you not crucify, did you not kill? I mean, it's not malicious.
It's a fact. Verse 6, so he, and I love this part, he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what do you want me to do? Then the Lord said to him, arise and go into the city and you will be told what you must do. He's trembling. He's astonished. He's telling Luke, Luke wasn't there for this. He says, I was shaking like a leaf.
And Luke wrote that down. That's part of this experience. That is the impact Christ had on this man who was boiling over with hatred. And in an instant it is all redirected. It is, the hatred is flushed and everything moves into a different zone in his thinking, in his life. This was fantastic truth and love, like an avalanche on top of him. And he couldn't process.
It just happens. In 1 Corinthians he says, am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? He asked, who are you, Lord, that I may know him in the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his suffering, being conformed to his death, if by any means I may attain the resurrection of the dead, that I may know him.
He spent his whole life doing it. Just like Jeremiah said, not boast about your wealth, your intelligence, or whatever else. You're going to boast, boast on this that you know me, that you understand. Then if you do that, you won't be boasting.
You'll be rejoicing. He said, Lord, what do you want me to do? Every Christian should be asking Christ this. Again, the title, Lord, declares the right to rule. That's what it means when you say, Jesus is my Lord. You're saying he has the rights over me. He owns me. I am his. He is my master.
He has this right. It is by consent free will. That's love. You cannot have love without free will.
It's not possible. No one knows of any love without free will. You can't say, okay, I love you, but I don't want to love you because I hate you. No, I know. I know that we can love somebody because maybe they're breaking our hearts.
We're going to stop loving them. I don't mean in that context. Love is something that we want to do to God, not that we're forced to do. And some of you might be saying, are you attacking Calvinists? And I'm saying, absolutely.
Okay. Anyway, coming back to this, Lord, what do you want me to do? The Christian walk. Does it not commence with surrender?
That's what he is doing here. Conversion happens the instant we acknowledge the lordship of Christ over us personally. Romans 10 verse nine.
I'll just take verse nine. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. And Paul would later write, no one can call Jesus Lord except by the Spirit. First Corinthians 12 verse three.
I'll read it again. No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Spirit. The point is, he is saved in this instant. He is saved. He's not filled with the Spirit yet. He's not water baptized yet. He's going to be baptized in both soon. But he is converted. He is now a Christian.
He is now Brother Saul. He doesn't even know it. He doesn't have time to think it all out yet. He just submitted.
He's in a state of utter submission. Hebrews 8 verse 13. And that he says, a new covenant or new testament. He has made the first obsolete.
Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. That's his Judaism. It's turned into Christianity. That is the course Christ has set for the Old Testament. To turn into the New Testament.
To join it. To be reconciled together with the New Testament being dominant. There remains one more experience for him.
Well, they're going to be a lifetime experience. But the experience that he's, now that he's saved, he still has to be filled. He doesn't have to be. He's saved.
But he's going to be filled. Then the Lord said to him, rise and go. Get up and go. The military has mastered this. Get up, go and wait. And wait and wait.
Probably the number one cause for people is, I've got to get out of this place. All right, well anyway. Louis Sperry Schaeffer, Christian from long ago, said, anyone can devise a plan by which good people may go to heaven. Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners who are his enemies can go to heaven. That's what we're looking at. This man Saul, who will become Paul, is an enemy of Jesus Christ. That's how it started out. Still breathing threats of violence, havoc upon the church. It says, arise and go into the city and you will be told what you must do. So go and wait.
Leading through delay. God does this so often. You don't like it and neither do I. But the spiritual side of us embraces it because we know he's always right and he is Lord. But it's that carnal side, that old nature that will be with us until we go to Christ. That's who we have to deal with in addition to your neighbors. Verse seven.
Now some of you have great neighbors, but not the whole block. Surely there's got to be one. Anyway, coming back here. Verse seven. And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. When he says stood, not always literally, they're with him. And at some point they all did get up. But when he tells it later, he says they all fell to the ground.
There was no mistake that this was a spiritual event unfolding in front of these men. Daniel speaks of a similar experience with witnesses there. But we don't read of these men who are attending Paul, who are with Paul, we don't read any more of them. Of their being saved, of their inquiring.
They lead him into the city and they just vanish from the story. That makes me think how many people experience something from Christianity that is very genuine and different and unlike anything else and then go no further with it. Well, it is what we'll learn later on is that Jesus is speaking to him here in the Hebrew. Most people, the common people, spoke the Aramaic and not the Hebrew. The scholars spoke the Hebrew. Paul was a scholar and so they heard the voice, they just couldn't understand what was being said because they didn't speak the Hebrew.
Paul pointed out in chapter 26 that the Lord spoke to him in Hebrew. It's a nice touch that is put into the story to clarify for us what is going on and who these people were. In verse 8, then Saul arose from the ground and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. They led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And so Luke, you know, he opens his eyes and saw no one.
Well, you can just, you know, it's a bit ambiguous. What do you mean no one was there? No, he was blind.
That's what's happening here. Spiritually he was already blind. Now he's physically blind but spiritually he can see. Acts 22 verse 1, I could not see for the glory of that light. I saw the light.
I heard the voice, Paul would say. It is that light that blinded him. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus, gloriously humiliating. He's being led like a little kid. He comes, he's this prosecutor with all this authority to arrest and punish people, inflict great harm on them, and here he is dependent on his servants now.
He can't even survive without others. Matthew 18 verse 3, assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Is that not illustrated for us in this? Are there not those people that are too full of themselves, too arrogant, too self-important, too self-righteous, too self-whatever to really receive from Christ or any of his people? Paul was saved not because of Judaism, but he was saved not without the Old Testament, that understanding of the Scriptures.
Without that, he wouldn't know what was going on. Since this day, Jews are invited to believe not as Jews but as sinners, and the same goes for Gentiles. That's why there's no longer Jew or Gentile. You're called to believe not as a Jew, not as a Gentile, but as a sinner, and that's what he's doing here. He's going to work this out so well that he will be the one that articulates Christianity.
Without this articulation of this Saul the Apostle, where he becomes Paul the Apostle, the church would have just still been, you know, the other apostles never really put it out there like Paul does, making this distinction, making us understand. We come to God as sinners, and that's how he receives us, and that's how we are saved. And you cannot say, I believe, without confessing your sin and being converted. Verse 9, and he was three days without sight and neither ate nor drank.
So intense that hunger bowed to the experience of faith. Jesus had flipped his world upside down completely, and he doesn't know his identity. Everything is just extreme makeover, unraveled in an instant and weaved back together at the same time in a flash of light.
A lifetime of wrong thinking is instantly dumped, instantly. Those of you who have been saved, you know what's going on here. You know when you came to Christ from a life wherever you were, I would believe that it more than likely was instant, that recognition. Oh, there was a process leading up to it, but it came to a point where Jesus is Lord. 2 Corinthians 4, he writes, For it is the God, for it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I hope you're seeing that by reading these verses from other writings of Paul, how much this experience impacted the rest of his life.
It got in that deep into him. For the rest of his life, every thought would be processed and filtered in the presence of Jesus Christ. If he lost his temper with someone, he knew Christ was still there with the mercy and saw also with the obedience, the need to obey. And we know this as Christians, and that's why we love to know when Jeremiah says his mercies are new every morning. Jeremiah wrote those verses as he wept over the ruined Jerusalem, the ruined people of God. He still understood the mercy of God in the midst of all those things. Don't let Satan, who hates your guts, tell you because you goof up, you trip up, you repeat the same mistakes that somehow you're not saved, that somehow you are less important to Christ, less useful to Christ. Default back to his mercies are new every morning, and if they weren't, none of us could serve him.
Paul, at this conversion, now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, is an outcast because of Christ amongst his own people. He's a turncoat at this point. That's how they're going to view him. They will hate him and they will seek to kill him with the same intensity that he was targeting the Christians. The Christians, they will question his conversion. So he's almost a man with nowhere to go. That will develop.
He doesn't know this yet, but that will develop. He will do well in Damascus amongst those Christians, but when he gets to Jerusalem, it'll be another story. Jerusalem perhaps the most spiritually unique place on earth.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. Now there was, verse 10, a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him the Lord said in a vision, Ananias, and he said, here I am, Lord. Meanwhile, God, while Saul is going through all of this in his life, God is mobilizing his servants. And in this case it will be Ananias and Judas, a man, not Judas Iscariot of course.
Neither one have any idea of the magnitude surrounding the events that they are participating in. And there are lessons in that. You know, some have entertained angels unaware.
These people are entertaining the great apostle Paul to be unaware. That's a story that they could tell their grandkids. I'm the one that put my hands on him so he could receive his sight back. Me, that was me.
No, he wouldn't. He's too humble and we're going to get to him a little bit. You get so much from just a couple of verses of somebody in the Bible, they just get almost a life story sometimes. Verse 11, So the Lord said, Arise, go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas, for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. This ain't over from Ananias. This is Ananias. What?
You got the right name? You don't mean Saul, you mean Simon. Lord, you made a typo there. This name Judas, it became popular amongst the Jews, the name Judas, during the revolt of the Maccabees. Judas Maccabee led one of the phases of the revolt against Syrian rule. And it's Judah. It is Judah in the Hebrew. It becomes Judas in the Greek.
And by the time it makes its way to English, it's Jude. 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 / 2022-12-11 18:16:38 / 2022-12-11 18:26:05 / 9