This fear, where it says, walking in the fear of the Lord. Take the fear of God out of the lives of men and women, and what are you left with? Well, we call it liberalism.
There's no fear. They think they can do anything. There's no concept of decency. To them, indecency is decency.
It's not new. Isaiah said it long ago. They call good evil and evil. Good.
They're upside down. And then no fear of God. 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 will be saved.
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's 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. So what? I would 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. And that's why it was such a fight.
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 until we get to the part where they chased 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. And 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. And 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 a 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.
Imagine a teen, 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. 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. 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 doesn't make any sense. In fact, not only does it not make sense, it's counter. It's counterwise. 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, what 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. 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's going to 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 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 and 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, 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, 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 there are more, this is sufficient, not a very pleasant fact, but it's a fact. He says, put away from yourself the evil person. 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 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 add 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 alright. 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 alright.
I mean ultimately it would be, but not in a flippant kind of way. You wouldn't, you know, you've got 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 alright. 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 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 have, you know, he 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've got to leave. So three years ago they feared for their lives because of this man.
Now they fear for this man's life. You just now know what God is going to do. And I don't mean it 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 those in Nineveh, with God, who can tell?
There's opportunity there. As I mentioned, they'll be gone for fourteen years. Galatians 2, 1, after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas.
I'm going to have to skip that because of time, but I do want to comment on this. James, the brother of the Lord, and Paul, they both loved the same Lord. But they're the only two men that I can think of in the New Testament that gave their lives to Christ after the resurrection through Christ himself. Because James, the brother of the Lord, was not a believer until after the resurrection in Paul 2. But James was not as determined to see Judaism replaced as Paul. James may have had a 200 year plan. Paul had like a 200 minute plan.
It's like you got 200 minutes to fix this. And so, again, the determination in Paul to make this line clear, we're not, it's not Judaism. It's not reconcilable. James had a different approach.
And so the two were always uneasy with themselves. So when Paul comes back at another time, James says, listen, go down to the temple. Why? The temple is useless at this point.
It's obsolete. Why am I going to the temple and pay the vows for these men? Well, God intercepted that, didn't let it happen.
And Paul got arrested. Thanks, James. So you say, well, you're bad mouthing. I'm telling you the truth. It's not about bad mouthing. It tells you how difficult, how deeply rooted Judaism was inside of human beings because this is how we are built.
James will be in heaven. But it's a fact. He struggled with things and maybe you do too.
Maybe you come out of Roman Catholicism or Jehovah's, you know, Kingdom Hall or Mormon. You got clutter. And some can jettison it quite quickly. Others struggle with it.
And then they make us struggle with them. Trying to be patient. I thought I told you. Verse 31. Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified, and walking in fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. Now I don't think Luke is putting this here to say, when they got rid of Paul, everybody had peace.
That is not what is going on. The church really did not go beyond Samaria until Saul drove it beyond Samaria after Stephen started the whole thing. Just like Mordecai. Mordecai almost got the Jews wiped out. But God said, now I need to bring this to the surface and Mordecai, you're going to do it.
I'm going to give you a spirit of intolerance for this Haman and his stuff. Anyway, Acts chapter 11 verse 19. Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen, and that persecution started by Saul, traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word, but to no one but Jews only. So the church, the early church, still, they don't know how to invite the Gentiles in, because their identity is still being shaped.
They're not yet sure how much of Judaism they're going to keep, and their customs, and their mentality. And it's not an insult. The Bible is real. It doesn't try to, okay, there's magic land over here, and it doesn't do this with us. You have to factor in what sin has done to human beings, and you can't take it out. And that's why Paul will write to the Colossians and say, these things are useless against the indulgences of the flesh.
All of this ritual and stuff you have. Anyway, let's finish this up. So, it says that they had peace. Well, the peace was more of a political peace.
Not so much because they got Saul out of there. The solution to that was they weren't just going to kill him. But Rome had appointed at this time, under Caligula, the emperor, the Caesar of Rome, this plan, and they were using a large army to enforce this, they wanted to erect a statue of Caligula in the Jewish temple, which would have just brought a war.
Well, Caligula dies before that happens. But at the time, when he's still alive, that diverted much of the attention of the Jews to this program now. And the historians tell us that, you know, just hundreds of thousands of Jews were just protesting this throughout the land. So, this is really why I think they had peace at this time, is because the anger was redirected. He did this in 3940 AD, after Christ, which fits the timeline perfectly for Christ, for Saul being saved three years after, three years away, and then back to Jerusalem.
It's a perfect fit. Anyway, and that's how we come to these, you know, numbers, and then there are lessons within this, and then there are applications to our lives. I mean, here's this man going to be the great apostle, but when he's off in Cilicia and Tarsus and Syria, he's just an average pastor, and he doesn't have a clue how God is going to use him, and he will be the aged and the great apostle Paul.
Anyway, without even trying, just doing what he does. It says, and they were edified. Well, new converts that came into Christianity would come in knowing that they were in a faith that is subject to severe persecution. So it wasn't like they were coming into, most of us, when we get saved, it's just like, hey, we're in America, we're free, you know, and we can do this.
But they were committing to a religion where their own countrymen were apt to get them. And walking in the fear of the Lord, it says here at the bottom of verse 31, in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. Well, the comfort there, the word comfort in the Greek, the original language of the New Testament, Paracletus is the Holy Spirit, and that's what he does. He brings comfort. God is helping.
That's the idea. John 14, verse 16, Jesus speaking, I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. Oh, man, can you not love that? You mean if I goof up? Well, you know, now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless. Well, how are you going to do that? By being God. That's how God, by the cross of Christ, that's how God presents us, faultless into heaven.
I don't know how that whole beam of seat's going to work out in all of its detail, but I'm sort of going to approach my plan is to just shut my mouth and be kind of secure. I'm saved. I'm good. Okay, if I don't get the mansion that guy's got, that's fine.
I'll just, you know, steal it later. Anyway, coming back to this, finishing up with this, this fear, where it says walking in the fear of the Lord. Take the fear of God out of the lives of men and women, and what are you left with? Well, we call it liberalism.
There's no fear. They think they can do anything. There's no concept of decency. To them, indecency is decency. It's not new. Isaiah said it long ago, they call good evil and evil good.
They're upside down. And then no fear of God. And as we go to the kings and we see the idolatries, they don't fear Yahweh. And it's true to fear and not be afraid.
This is the paradox of our faith. 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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