Share This Episode
Cross Reference Radio Pastor Rick Gaston Logo

Preparation for Preaching (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2022 6:00 am

Preparation for Preaching (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 912 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

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

December 20, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


How difficult it was for the church to find its identity and who she was that you did not have to follow the Sabbath and the dietary laws and the circumcision. You did not have to adhere to the ritual.

You weren't to go down to the temple to worship with the sacrificial offerings. But it did not just happen. It evolved in their understanding. God knew it all the time, but God was being gentle with them.

More information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 10 as he begins his message called Preparation for Preaching. Acts chapter 10, beginning at verse 1. There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day, he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, Cornelius. And when he observed him, he was afraid and said, What is it, Lord? So he said to him, Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send to Joppa and send for Simon, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon a tanner whose house is by the sea.

He will tell you what you must do. And when the angels who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

The next day, as they went on their journey, they drew near the city. Peter went up on the housetop to pray about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and waited to eat. But while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four footed animals of the earth.

Wild beasts, creeping things and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, Rise, Peter, kill, eat. Peter said, Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything common or unclean. And a voice spoke to him again a second time.

What God has cleansed, you must not call common. This was done three times and the object was taken up into heaven again. Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house and stood before the gate. And they called and asked Simon, whose surname was Peter, lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise, therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius and said, Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come? And they said, Cornelius, the centurion, a just man who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by the holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear words from you. Then he invited them in and lodged them. The next day Peter went away with them and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. Preparation for the gospel. What's happening behind the scenes when someone is being led to Christ coming into salvation? What's going on?

Did it just happen? Did they just get saved? And the story is giving us a lot of background information. Absent from this chapter is conflict, and we appreciate that. This chapter is about the preparation for the gospel, those in need, and then the reception of the gospel as we get to the latter verses and following sessions. Preparation to deliver the message is very important.

We see Peter being spiritually prepared, but we also see the recipient. Paul said in Ephesians 5 when he spoke about the armor of the believer, having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. I wonder how we kind of skip over that because we're focused on the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the word, but to have the right footwear is critical. A lot of places I won't go with flip-flops on. I need to be tactical, ready for something to happen.

I don't want to get caught with flip-flops on. Well, this is biblical. In this sense, we are to be ready. Luke now turning attention back to Peter's ministry, having introduced us to Paul. We're about 10 years now from Pentecost and the Lord ascending into heaven. The Jews had been circulating the gospel amongst themselves. Then there was the outreach to the Samaritans that we read about, and finally now it's going to reach the Gentiles.

But again, we won't get to all of that in one session. Race and culture and sin and Satan, they all stood in the way of the gospel breaking free from Judaism. You know, we don't see that on the surface as we look at the book of Acts and then into the epistles, how difficult it was for the church to find its identity and who she was. That you did not have to follow the Sabbath and the dietary laws and the circumcision. You did not have to adhere to the ritual.

You weren't to go down to the temple to worship with the sacrificial offerings. But it did not just happen. It evolved in their understanding. God knew it all the time, but God was being gentle with them. He knew he was dealing with human beings.

He just don't go in and just radically change everything if there's a better way. Messiah was never to be confined to the Jewish people alone. It was never God's plan that just the Jews and Judaism would have the Messiah.

This was going to expand. And that's why he tells us in the Gospel of John, Jesus speaking, and other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Them also I must bring and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Well, this is the beginning of this being fulfilled. Up to this point, no true Gentile had been saved. The Gentiles that were saved had already converted to Judaism or had some connection to Judaism. Some commitment, even the Samaritans.

So this is going to be a different event. Reaching all peoples is not for amateurs. It's for those that are subject to the Holy Spirit and his teachings.

We know it's the Bible because of Jesus Christ and the will of the Father. In Matthew's Gospel, Christ illustrates this. The servants of the owner came and said to him, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?

How then does it have tares or weeds? And he said to them, An enemy has done this. The servant said to him, Do you want us then to go and gather them up? But he said, No, lest while you gather up the tares, you also uproot the wheat with them that both grow together until the harvest. And at the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers, first gather together the tares and bind them in bundles and burn them, but gather the wheat into the barn. One thing, among others, that we get from that passage in Matthew is that there are processes.

Things cannot just radically happen, at least not regularly. And this is what is happening to the church, bringing the Gentiles in. And it's going to take, Paul's going to spend so much of his ministry fighting for Christianity against those who are in Christianity, insisting that they follow the rites and rituals of the law of Moses. So, what we get out of this is that when we go into a place with the Gospel, we can't expect people to just, Okay, I accepted. You preached the Gospel. Okay, sign me up. There's a lot that goes into it. It is spiritual, it is spiritual work, and there is physical work.

And so now, let's see if we can develop these thoughts, beginning in verse 1. There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian regiment. Well, Caesarea is the capital for Rome. The Roman governor resided in Caesarea. This is Caesarea by the sea versus Caesarea Philippi, for example, which is inland. Rome ruled over Judea from there. A large garrison of troops in Caesarea, a large one in Jerusalem also, but the larger here in Caesarea. Herod had built an aqueduct coming from the springs at Mount Carmel to Caesarea to bring fresh water to this region, where a lot of Gentiles were. And to this day, you can go to Caesarea by the sea, and you'll see the remnants, the ruins, I guess you could say, of this aqueduct. There's also this large amphitheater in Caesarea.

That's outside stadium-like, and it's sizable, and it's open to the public. And there, you can stand in the very spot where the officials would judge the court cases. One of those court cases was the apostle Paul. He stood there before Felix, he stood there before Festus and Agrippa, and you can stand right where Paul stood. Now, there might be some that say, well, we're not 100% sure that was it. Well, they are not.

I am. So, it's a highlight of the trip to Israel, to stand there in this amphitheater, and it says that he was a centurion of what is called the Italian regiment. Well, of the one of 60 officers in a Roman legion, whenever we read of centurions, they're noble men in the New Testament. His modern-day rank would be maybe a captain in the infantry, or in the army, or the marine corps. But the navy captain, of course, is more of a colonel.

All right, you don't need to hear all that, sorry. Just working out the math in my head. Verse 2, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always. So, he's very serious about God. That's the statement, a devout man.

He's very serious. When his colleagues were off reading the philosophies of Plato and Cato and the rest of them, he's searching for God. When they were at the theater or the arena, we get the feeling he's searching for God, not that he did not engage in some of these things also. Luke's Gospel, chapter 13, strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I say to you will seek to enter and will not be able.

Because they're going to do it on their terms. But when you do it on God's terms, you enter. And here, this man is striving to enter the gate. He's seeking. I don't get the impression he's fully there.

I'll develop it a little bit, hopefully. He continues here in verse 2, and one who feared God. Well, the God-fearers who were Gentiles concerning Judaism were not yet converts, full converts, as the Ethiopian eunuch was. It says, with all his household, everyone in his house cared and revered God. What a nice statement.

What a noble statement about this man. This household was made up of family, of servants and slaves, and of soldiers. And the ones closest to this man revered God. It was a good house to belong to.

I hope that we who provide a house for others provide a good house, and I hope those who receive it recognize it. Still, all of them, though they revered God, they lacked detailed theology. It's not enough to want God. There are details that have to be filled in, and they come from God.

We call them revelations, or we call it scripture. And Cornelius is going to need this, where it says he gave alms generously to the people. Well, he had a heart that was ready to join the causes of God and care for other people less fortunate. He appears to not have yet, as though he was on the brink of finalizing his faith, but he just wasn't ready to pull the trigger, we might say. He just wasn't ready to make the step while the Jews made that complicated. They would have required him to be circumcised. It would have required him to follow their dietary law. It would have required him to honor the Sabbath. Well, for a centurion, that would have been difficult.

All of it. And that may have given him some delay. So we're dealing again with human beings, not just robots. And God is mindful of this. And God knew that Judaism would not work outside of Israel. I mean, they're just things you could not practice when you get to other places, such as the Great North, Siberia. I mean, if you had to be restricted by these laws, you wouldn't be able to survive. You had to work every day, Sabbath included.

You had to go get sticks to keep warm, or for fuel, that is. Anyway, coming back to this, it says he prayed to God always. Well, without reverence for truth, we're not apt to seek the truth. There are a lot of people right now, they have no interest in the truth concerning Christ, or God, or eternity. They have no appetite for these things. They're just living their lives that way. Or you may be able to engage them for a little bit on the subject. But it doesn't go very far.

It pitters out. And those are the people we pray for. Those are the people we hopefully pray for often. God is reaching out to this man. Remember, as Peter was walking on the sea, when he said, the word of it is, you bid me to come, and Christ says, come. And he starts walking, and he's distracted by the storm. And he starts to sink, and he calls out. And Christ, the Bible says, reaches out and grabs him. Well, Christ is reaching out and grabbing Cornelius and his household.

And he wants to do this. We are sure of that. Long suffering, willing that none should perish. We don't have to guess about God's position on lost souls. He did not die only for the elect. He died for sinners. And of those sinners that respond to his invitation, they are elected to salvation. That means they're not owed salvation, but they are given it. We come and we receive salvation. We do not earn it. That insults God. To say that I earned my salvation is to say, I really don't need the blood of Christ. His dying, that's his thing. But I don't need that.

I'm really too good. And that's how insulting it is. So a question arises out of looking at this man Cornelius. He's obviously a moral man, a good and decent human being, though yet not aware of where this is all going, what God requires of a man. The question is, does a moral man need a redeemer? And that question is answered by his conversion. God is saying he's not good enough without the Son. He must be born again.

He must be touched from above. God must sign off on his salvation, and it will be through Christ Jesus. What most folks who reject Christ may not understand is that Christ is not judging sinners by other sinners. He is judging them by a far higher standard.

He's judging them by his sinless Son, Jesus. And we are to communicate. You know, when you speak on the gospel, there's so much to say. It's all kind of bottles up. You've got to get it all out. It's so simple.

It's so easy, but it's so powerful. Here, Cornelius, verse 3, about the ninth hour of the day, he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, Cornelius, well, God knows where we are. It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the time of evening prayer for the Jews. It is unscientific to scoff at the spiritual realm. There are those that are ready to believe in extraterrestrials from UFOs, from other planets, from other galaxies.

They are very excited about those things. Many of them are Christians, and they pass right by the extraterrestrials of the spiritual realm. There are other beings, and they are in another dimension, the spiritual dimension. I mean, there's a lot of things with the kookiness about the UFOs. They have all this technology and power, and they just like to show up every now and then and just go away. The whole thing makes no sense.

I believe it happens. Well, anyway, I know every time I get on this UFO stuff, I want to just pick it apart. Maybe I'll just do a sermon on UFOs one day, but I don't know if you'd be able to identify the sermon. Anyhow, it is unscientific to look at creation and block out the Creator. It's just not science.

Science is the study of things that are, and you just can't get away from it. But anyway, another topic, verse 4. And when he observed him, Cornelius observing the angel, he was afraid and said, What is it, Lord? So he said to him, Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. So he startled. Verse 38, when he retells the story, he says that this angel was wearing bright clothing, and it is an angel and not the Lord.

The timing is right. That's what's going on here for Cornelius to receive such a vision. Not like Daniel 10. Well, in Daniel 10, Daniel was praying. He was so disturbed about the history of his people. Remember, he's a captive in Babylon, and he wants to know what's happening, and he's very disturbed by what God has shown him. And he's praying and fasting about this. When the angel finally gets to Daniel, he says, I was delayed.

The prince of Persia delayed me. And we tend to think that the evil forces were delaying the angel from coming to Daniel. They were, but not maybe in the sense we're ready to accept. They were in the sense that the angels were influencing the leaders in Persia. Satan was counterworking that influence.

Whoever won this struggle would be the one that determined how the future of the Jews would be handled. So that was spiritual war going on, but it was a war of influence, influencing humans, which the angels were involved in. And if you look at Daniel 10, you scrutinize it, you come to the realization that is the meaning.

At least it was for me. A lot of years of studying, but a lot of guys don't want to even comment on Daniel 10 and the resistance of the angels. So maybe when you go home, you'll relook at that and come to where you always come when I say things like that in agreement with me. Laugh, laugh, joke, joke. Well, anyway, God, here he is responding to a seeking heart, as he was with Daniel. But Daniel, before they could get to him, they had to cover other business. There was this resistance from Satan, and Michael had to come and get involved with the influencing of righteousness within the palace.

Anyway, if you don't see it that way, you can end up having more questions than answers. This, verse 5 now, Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon, whose surname is Peter. Interesting how the angel could deliver a message from the throne of God, but he could not deliver the message of salvation. It takes one to save one. It takes a sinner to save a sinner. I mean, you think logically, but logic goes beyond this realm. There are spiritual factors, there are spiritual laws, we don't know it all. We have enough to come to better understandings. Angels cannot preach the gospel.

Not yet, they will in the end when things are in the extreme state, but up to now, it is for us. Caesarea was the residence of Philip the evangelist. But Peter is activated, and Peter is 30 miles away. Well, that causes questions. Why is Peter being called to come 30 miles up when Philip lives there?

Well, yeah, Philip could be away, could be other factors, but I think this is what's going on. At Caesarea Philippi, many years ago, perhaps about 12 years ago, Jesus said, Who do men say that I am? Peter stepped forward. You are the Christ, the Son of God. And Jesus said, Blessed are you, Peter, because you didn't figure that out on your own. God the Father gave you that. That is given to you, that knowledge. And then he says, I give to you the kingdom, the keys to the kingdom, and upon this rock I will build my church. Well, what's this with these keys of the kingdom?

Well, think about it this way. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon Jewish believers under whose leadership? Peter's. Peter was the dominant apostle. There's no question about that at Pentecost. At Caesarea, the Holy Spirit came upon them. Philip had been up there evangelizing, but the Holy Spirit had not been given.

Peter comes up with John, again, under Peter's leadership, and he is the dominant figure again. And then here, what we're going to see at the end of the chapter, here at Caesarea by the Sea, the Holy Spirit will come upon the Gentiles, and it will be under Peter's leadership. Each time, Peter is opening the door for the peoples of the earth, so that if you're Jewish, the Holy Spirit is available to you. If you're a Jewish and you're a Gentile mixture, the Holy Spirit's available to you. If you're just a Gentile, the Holy Spirit is available. There's no one left out. You cannot say there are religious requirements.

No, there are God requirements as given in the scripture. And so, this is why I believe that Peter is the one being called up north, because God is going to pour out his Holy Spirit. Now, Philip was active up there, no question about that. We'll get back to Philip. We'll meet him again. Paul will stop by Caesarea Philippi. Then we get to chapter 21 and spend time with Philip.

So, it's no slight on him, but there is a system in place. God called it in advance, and now we see it carried out. The Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God through the Holy Spirit, is opened up to all peoples through Peter. 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 / 2022-12-22 11:48:38 / 2022-12-22 11:58:26 / 10

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