Let into Damascus by hand and then eventually let out in a basket. He's willing to do these things because to him the gospel is worth it. And as a Christian, we can become so occupied with our struggles, with our joy or lack of joy that we're no longer looking to save, looking to preach to people because we're too tied up with the leak in our boat.
And Christ says, listen, you got to learn how to bail water and sail at the same time. 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, Pastor Rick continues his message called Awakened Tiger in Acts Chapter 9. The manifestation truly is the love of God for sinners. And without that, what are you?
You are annoying. And that's what, you know, if I have not love, though I have prophecies, though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, I am nothing, quote, unquote. So it all does fit together. Otherwise, I personally wouldn't accept it. I wouldn't accept the Bible as being the Word of God if it didn't fit together, if it was just so fragmented it made no sense. But I've come to trust it so much that if the Bible said to me water is not wet, I would believe that water is still wet, but there was a greater meaning to those words because the Bible doesn't get it wrong. The facts are the facts. They're not contrary to logic, to reason, to science. They are trustworthy. But they require work.
And they require work some more. Verse 21 now, Then all who heard were amazed and said, Is this not he who destroyed those who called on his name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priest? Well, this was their reaction to Paul. It would have been at both times, at his conversion early on, and then when he returns from Arabia, it would have still been that way.
They would have had no reason to say, Okay, we trust this guy now. He was Christian enemy number one, a hot hater of Christ and his people. Jesus said, I wish you were ice cold or red hot, but not lukewarm. Well, there was nothing lukewarm about Paul and his view of Christ and Christianity. And so again, I think that he was whisked out of Damascus and onto Arabia and does not preach Christ until spending time with Christ, because he would have had so many questions.
He would have been speaking and saying himself while he's speaking. That's why when you study before you come up into the pulpit, you don't have questions. You don't want to question in the pulpit. Hmm. Wonder what that means. Hold on a second. You want to settle these things as best you can.
In fact, you want to exhaust them. And I strongly, I believe that is the way it is, the pattern that we have. Verse 22, But Saul increased all the more in strength and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. So now he's back with a developed theology.
Not only was this man willing to study, he was willing to suffer. A lot of people are willing to give you Bible studies. They know so much. They're just not willing to get in the trenches and suffer.
They're not willing. There are a great many great Christians that do a lot of great things in the church. And I don't mean, you know, like going off to the mission field and getting this name for themselves, which is wonderful, but I mean just in the church. Just the people that come in and clean the church, for example. These are special things because take them away and you notice very quickly that something's not right, that there's a blessing, if not blessings missing.
Christians count. But it only takes one or two to mess up the whole thing and make you not want to serve anymore. Well, you got to overcome that. It's got to be more than study. You got to suffer. You got to take the pain. And this Paul, willing to study, willing to suffer, then distilling the Old Testament into the new. Do you know how big a work that is? It's still difficult to take the Old Testament to a Jewish person that knows nothing about Jesus Christ as Messiah or is hostile towards him and then to open up his scripture and say, let me show you with any degree of success.
This is a fantastic experience. It says here in verse 22, he confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus. Well, Stephen did that to the Jews that dwelt in Jerusalem. A saved Jew demonstrating that the deep-seated flawed rabbinical teachings and traditions had been overruled by God. In other words, they overruled God. They latched onto their traditions. They took the Old Testament and they sort of just filtered out the meat and they went on with other things that were secondary. In fact, Jesus at one point said, these things you should have done without leaving the others undone to the Pharisees. You should have been able to keep your ritual, but you should have kept God first. And to those of you, you teens and you younger adults, you're working out your life and charting your course and you should do that.
You're going to college or school and you want to get high grades as a Christian especially, as high as you can get them, but you also want to keep up your devotions to God. These things you should do without leaving the others undone. You are expected to do more because you can do more. That's why.
Or would you prefer we treat you as, you know, stupid clods? Would you prefer that? Oh, you can't do it. Don't worry about it. You just don't have it. No, it's the other way around. You do have it and we're going to squeeze it out of you if we can.
Just don't try to do it to me. Pay my dues. And kidding, it says here in our New Testament about what the Jewish people were doing with their Bibles. Jesus speaking to the religious leaders who were the rabbinical influences, the teachers that were influencing theology. He says, why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?
This is what Paul had to get rid of and those who came to Christ. So when he goes with Silas who is a Jew and Barnabas who was a Jew, these men put God first, not their religion. Then Christ continues Matthew 15, 6. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. And then Matthew 15, 9.
And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. He's quoting Isaiah the prophet at that point. So when he goes and he confounds the Jews, he's telling them your traditions are nothing without the Christ. He's fulfilled these things.
He is everything. And then he'd go to Isaiah or Psalm 22 and he'd point out the sufferings of Jesus, that the Messiah had to come to suffer for sinners. This is the love of God according to the Scriptures. And so it says here in verse 22, proving that this Jesus is Messiah. We were just singing, Jesus Messiah. And because, well, it's born out of what's happening in the Bible.
It takes work to identify, to even know who you are, let alone know who someone else is and someone on the level of Messiah. They had God's scripture. It should have been a logical fit. It was for some. It wasn't for Paul until God got hold of him. We have to remember that when we share the gospel and people aren't saying, oh, I didn't know that.
Okay, sign me up. We have to remember this is a spiritual fit. Logic is not the bigger part of it.
It is a part of it, but not all of it. Jews who submitted to the scripture over the rituals and the tradition and the prejudices were saved. If they chose not to believe Christ, it would be in spite of the evidence, in spite of logic. If they rejected Jesus, it was because they didn't want him to be the Messiah. They didn't like his style. It was not intellectual.
It was more than that. They did not care for him rebuking their traditions. They did not care for Jesus, not bowing down to them.
He is a respecter of no persons. They didn't care for that. In other words, you come up to Christ and say, well, I'm a Pharisee. And so what? Well, you might not have said it like that. I would have if I could have.
But he might have said it like that. He's just like, so I don't care about your credentials. What do you do with God?
What are you doing with his son? And that is the same today. So they made up their minds, those who rejected, that their traditions and values were superior to the cross of Christ and the grace of Jesus. That's why it was such a fight.
You say, how much of a fight? Well, they wanted to kill him in Damascus. They wanted to kill him in Jerusalem. They wanted to kill him everywhere they could.
And he suffered it. I can't wait till we get to the part where they chase him out of Jerusalem and James was happy to see him go. See you, Paul. Nice.
Glad you saved. Anyway, we'll get to that, verse 23. Now after many days were passed, the Jews plotted to kill him. Three years from his conversion at this point. Again, we have to, you know, you put this detective work. You can take the scripture verses and you line them up and the puzzle fits.
You run with it. And during those years, of course, he's unstoppable. At this point in his faith, he's back. It says the Jews plotted to kill him. Not the ones that were being converted or the ones already Christians. Religious hatred mixed with this twisted sense of loyalty to Judaism, but not to the scripture.
That's where they turned, that's where they went wrong. You couldn't speak bad of Moses, but you could ignore him. Well, they had the Old Testament, enough of it to be dangerous. Some people today have enough of the New Testament to be dangerous. They just don't come to the right conclusion, but they can sure use it to twist the truth. And Peter warned, he said, there are those that take Paul's words and they twist them to their own harm. So during those years in Arabia, under the instruction of the Lord, he's back. He's doing something with what he learned and it's costing him. You know, they were like sore losers.
They lacked, you know, imagine a team, they lacked the skills, so they started turning to dirty tactics and cheating to make up for the lack of skill. Well, they couldn't refute Paul with the truth, so let's just kill him. And of course, we're seeing that today. Well, they got the Ten Commandments out of the schools and courthouses and they then evolved to where they would attack children for wearing, you know, Make America Great hats.
You couldn't do that with this type. So they're still here because Satan, he is dedicated to finding humans who will silence truth or do good that will connect to the truth of God. He is devoted and we are supposed to stand in the gap and resist this as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Many of these people that are joining these idiotic movements and they are idiotic, not to be taking a cheap shot, but just by the pure definition of the word. You look at what they stand for and you say it's to make any sense. In fact, not only does it not make sense, it's counter, it's counter wise. It's dangerous. It is deadly what they want to do sexually, like the people in Sodom and Gomorrah, smitten with blindness and still at it.
That's demonic. The right they want to stop anyone from disagreeing with them. We have the right to dissent in this country and they want to take that away. We have the right to free access. They want to take that away. That means free access.
I can go to any place, you know, legitimately if I want to go into a store. No one should block me because they're protesting what I believe. But the devil, again, he is doing it and America is a choice target because the church historically has been very strong in America for a long time.
It was very strong in England and they chased the Puritans out. So anyway, coming back to this, we must do what we do and that is be the salt and the light. Verse 24, but their plot became known to Saul and they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
They put shifts on. They wanted this guy so badly. Okay, you watch him and I'll come back and check him. We'll get Rollo to come and help you and then Pepe Le Pew will. It'll be his turn and we're going to get this guy. We hate him. How dare he say the Messiah has come? Well, I mean, wasn't the Messiah supposed to come? Yeah, but he was supposed to honor us.
Well, that's upside down. They didn't care. They liked it. Anyway, there was no way they could kill this man.
God had promised that he would preach to the Jews, to the Gentiles, and to Caesar and kings and themselves. And they watched the gates of the city night and day to kill him. Hatred fueled their determination and this will be the first of many attempts. How many times has someone tried to kill you? Now, maybe there's someone here that can say, well, at least one, not barring those who've been into war.
Those are different terms, but just someone hating what you believe so much they tried to kill you and have it happen again and again. I think many people would, you know, John Mark, he found out how bad the mission field was. He wanted no more part of it and he went back to Jerusalem. But thank God he was put back in the fight. Well, here was Saul. They tried to kill him. It didn't deter him at all.
He had no plan of, well, I probably need to find another profession. Verse 25, then the disciples took him by night and led him down through the wall in a large basket. Yeah, how humiliating. Sitting there like a lump of laundry being let down out of a wall. But this is what it took, helping Saul put them at risk.
They had to still live in that city. Paul tells us it was a window. It wasn't a cavity in the wall. 2 Corinthians 11, he talks about this moment. In Damascus, the governor under Aretas, the king, was guarding the city of Damascus with a garrison, desiring to arrest me.
Pretty large force, he continues. But I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped from his hands. So sort of like Joshua's, the spies that Joshua sent in and Rahab letting them down. Also David escaping. Saul's henchmen being let out of a window.
So they probably thought about these things. The adventures of evangelism. Again, this is a tiger in the basket from hell's perspective. He's going to do so much damage to the causes of hell that makes me say, well, I can't do what Saul did.
Let me grow up and understand that, but I can still do a lot. And that's true of every Christian. Every Christian is basically to be an evangelist. One of the first indications that you are saved is you want to tell somebody who doesn't believe in Jesus Christ that they need to believe in Jesus Christ. Verse 26, and when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple.
So we're three years later now, and this is still going on. He goes to Arabia, he comes back and they still don't believe him. He comes back to Jerusalem, they don't believe him.
Jerusalem still is the one that kills the prophets and those who were sent to her. Now he's trying to join the church, not the leadership, and they're so humble of the man. He's not going up, take me to the big shots. He's not doing that. He just wants to go into church with these people, and they're like, yeah, right. So it says, but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple. Understandably, many of these people were traumatized by what he had accomplished three years earlier. They knew people, may have been some of them, family members even.
It was a vicious behavior that he unleashed on them. Imagine if somebody like, now we'll have to go ahead and probably sanitize the pulpit after this, but imagine if George Soros became a Christian. Would you believe it? If he walked in, I just gave my life to Christ. What would you do? You know, I'd say something like, well, listen, as a Christian, you're not going to need all that money.
Why don't you give it to me? No, okay, I wouldn't do that. But I mean, there are people that are just so reprehensible. Their conversion is just, you would be, you know, maybe a gullible Christian would say yes to anybody, okay.
But anyhow, trying to get you there, I'll move on. Proof that he did not spend a lot of time in Damascus, is it not? Because if he spent a lot of time in Damascus preaching Christ, the word would have gotten back to Jerusalem.
But because he didn't spend a lot of time there, the word did not make it back to Jerusalem. The only people the church should disfellowship are those who start trouble in the church, regardless of what church. I mean, if it's a church that, if you don't agree with it, you can't change it from the top. I mean, from the bottom, pardon me.
You just can't. So the Bible tells us what to do with this. Romans 16, 17, now I urge you, Paul is writing this, I urge you brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them.
1 Corinthians 5, 13, and they are more, this is sufficient, not a very pleasant fact, but it's a fact. He says, put away from yourself the evil person. So, but Paul wasn't evil and he wasn't causing divisions. He's trying to become, you know, just go to church with these people and they don't want any part of it. So he returns to Jerusalem after becoming a Christian and his situation is desperate. His former friends hated him as a turncoat. His Christian brothers feared him as a fraud.
Where does he go from there? Well, verse 27, but Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, that is Paul, and that he had spoken to him and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Barnabas is connected.
He just, he just knows people and things and then he is, you know, there's such a profound but Barnabas. Well, put you in the workplace, the school, wherever you are, and everybody's doing everything contrary to Christ but you, but you and more, but you say something, but you lead somebody to Christ, but you minister the gospel. The gift of encouragement involves more than happy words. Oh, it's going to be all right? Sometimes it's not the thing to say. You wouldn't say to the Lord while he's on the cross, oh, it's going to be all right. I mean, ultimately it would be, but not in a flippant kind of way. You wouldn't, you know, you've got to, to have the gift of encouragement, you must also have discernment and courage and action and probably other things too, but that's enough to start with.
It's not enough to just be the person that tells people it's going to be all right. Peter was able to discern Ananias and Sapphira were lying to the Holy Spirit. He was able to discern that Simon Magnus was up to no good, but was he able to tell that Saul's conversion was genuine? Maybe he didn't know. Maybe he was just busy with other things or maybe he missed it. If he missed it, there's a lesson there for us to be on guard against getting things wrong.
Show of hands, who likes to get things wrong. Exactly. And if you want to get things right, you've got to earn it. You've got to work for it. One way to start is to keep your mouth closed when you don't know, right?
Rather than try to fake it. Well, anyway, and how he preached boldly at Damascus, coming to verse 29, 28 now, so he was with them at Jerusalem coming in and going out. So now because of Barnabas, he's in the church because of this friend, this man named Barnabas. Verse 29, and he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. So there he is at it again, taking all his knowledge and doing something with it. He's using the truth to anger them.
He's speaking clearly, and of course, he's passionate. Those three things, you don't want to fragment those. You don't want to, you know, I was passionate, but it wasn't true. It was true, but it wasn't clear. You would like to have all three when we share the Gospel, and you don't have to be a super scholar to share the Gospel. Man should not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, and you can't do that if everyone has to be, you know, go off and get some credential to do that.
All you have to do is have the love of God and the truth of the word. And so again, knowing a fact doesn't mean that we're guaranteed to do the right thing with the fact. Paul is doing the right thing. He says, and disputed against the Hellenists, these are the Jews of the Grecian culture, the same group that Stephen debated and defeated, and now Saul is doing it, but they attempted to kill him. He wasn't there but 15 days. That's how long he was in Jerusalem. That's how long it took him to make people want to kill him.
Well, if people are going to want to kill you, make sure it's because you didn't do something wrong, but you did something right. So the former persecutor is now the prosecuted, preaching Christ. I mean, led into Damascus by hand and then eventually let out in a basket. He's willing to do these things because to him the Gospel is worth it. And as a Christian, we can become so occupied with our struggles, with our joy or lack of joy that we're no longer looking to save, looking to preach to people because we're too tied up with the leak in our boat. And Christ says, listen, you've got to learn how to bail water and sail at the same time.
Verse 30, when the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. Yeah, life, right? Just life.
I just got into the church. I was loving it. I was shooting these guys down and now I got to leave. So three years ago they feared for their lives because of this man.
Now they fear for this man's life. What? You just now know what God is going to do. And I don't mean in a negative way because you can't say that. Who knows with God?
You can do anything to mess it all up. You can have that attitude or you can say, as it goes in Nineveh, with God, who can tell? There's opportunity there. As I mentioned, you'll be gone for 14 years, Galatians 2.1.
After 14 years, I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas. 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.
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