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Preparation for Preaching (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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December 21, 2022 6:00 am

Preparation for Preaching (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 21, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


What Peter is activating, 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. 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. Preparation for Preaching is Pastor Rick's message today. You'll be teaching in Acts Chapter 10. 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. Well, the Jews made that complicated. They would have required him to be circumcised. They would have required him to follow their dietary law. They 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 restrict it 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, he said, Lord, if 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 three, 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 three 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, I mean 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. And 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'd 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 five 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, do you think it 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. Verse 6, he is lodging with Simon a tanner whose house is by the sea.

He will tell you what you must do. Well, this made it easy to find Peter. All you had to do is ask, where's the village tanner?

And the houses of the tanners were usually by water because of the processes involved in dealing with the skins of the animals that they would turn into product, shoes or whatever else you had, belts, etc. God's messenger is talking about Peter, and Peter is completely unaware of it. Is God talking to someone else about me, in a righteous way?

Hopefully, hopefully. Let me tell you about that guy. Well, this is eye-opening, because when we come across these verses, we know it's not, oh, this is just for Peter.

Well, the opening of the gospel with the Holy Spirit was just for Peter, but we tied that into the word of Christ, there at Caesarea Philippi. But all the rest belongs to us. He will tell you what you must do. Well, Saul was told that about Ananias. Ananias will tell you what you must do. Now Cornelius is being told that Peter will tell you.

He's leading in increments. God does not just lay it out to him, it's unfolding. Sometimes God lays it all out, sometimes he takes his time, and this is one of them.

It takes a few days for all of this to get to where it is going. But here's something very important. He will tell you what you must do. What did Peter tell Cornelius to do? Verse 48 tells us, and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. He took them full circle.

That's what happened. Peter's going to lead them through salvation. In the middle of his sermon, the Holy Spirit interrupts. It's not rude, that is his prerogative. If another person did it, it would probably be an issue. But for God, it is his. All of it belongs to him.

He has that right. And Peter knew it and submitted to it. Baptism is a public thing. And if you cover it up, if you try to say, well, don't tell anybody I was baptized, then that defeats the whole person. That's not what baptism is for. If anyone, if Christian said, I'm going to baptize you, but don't tell anybody, I would question that person's understanding of the scripture. We do not get baptized to hide it. No man lights a candle and sticks it under a sofa.

And if he does, he's either going to set the sofa on fire or put out the candle. So verse six, he's lodging with the tanner. I hope I made it clear about water baptism is a public thing. It's not something we sneak around doing.

Though in certain areas where persecution is intense, there is some margin there. Verse seven, and when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants, a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continuously. So the angel, he spoke and he departed. We never see these guys hanging out. It's like they do their job and they go, I had to get out of here.

I don't want anything to rub off on me. So anyway, of course there's the time when they come and dine with Abraham, but still they take care of business and leave. This family setting here, this household setting, the servants, the family, and the soldiers recalls to mind General Naaman.

We just looked at Naaman in our midweek study in Kings. He too had faithful servants and soldiers around him who actually genuinely cared for him. Cornelius seems to be cut from the same cloth. There are good people outside of Christ.

That is a fact. And there are some difficult people inside of Christ. But it's not good enough. It's not good enough to be a decent and good person outside of Christ. That is the whole story of reaching out to Cornelius. Jesus said, don't be amazed that I said to you, you must be born again.

Verse 8, so when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. Well Cornelius, an officer, he knows how to take orders. He knows how to give orders. And had he been a lesser man in character, these men might have scoffed at what he was saying.

Yeah right, an angel peer. But he was such a man. He lived in such a way that when he said something, they understood that he meant business.

And they had no reason to doubt him. I want to be that kind of a person. Who doesn't? Who does not want to have that kind of influence over people in their lives? That when we say something serious, we're taken seriously.

In a good way. So he entrusts these friends and servants with supernaturally given spiritual information. And they're going to travel 30 miles, probably by horse or mule, to deliver the message of Cornelius, which is the message of the angel. Verse 9, which of course the message of God, it follows that hierarchy. Verse 9, the next day as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up to the housetop to pray about the sixth hour.

And he's still oblivious to what's going on. He's living his life in Christ. The scene is the rooftop by the sea. It's a nice place to go.

The Mediterranean, the beautiful Mediterranean. And the angel had met the previous day at 3 o'clock with Cornelius. Both times are Jewish times for prayer. 9 a.m., 12 noon, 3 p.m. And so at the temple, while Peter is praying, just like when Cornelius was the day before, prayers are flying up to heaven.

The Jews is with their three times a day to pray. And we see that Daniel opened his door, as was his custom, and prayed three times. We find Peter at each interval praying. He had become a man of prayer. At Pentecost at 9 a.m., he went to pray. Him and John went to the temple at 3 p.m., the evening prayer, when they were confronted with the beggar.

And then here it is at noontime. Years ago, Peter with the apostles had declared what the priorities of the apostles were. As the pastors of the church, they said, we will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. And again, the ministry of the word is not just reading the word, it is acting upon it. And that's the ergo, the ministry of, versus the reading of, the mere reading of. Here we see him exercising the prayer side of his declaration. He's giving himself to prayer. When he gets to the house of Cornelius and begins to preach, he's exercising the word part of it. And the effect is that people get saved. Things happen for the kingdom.

That is a pattern for us, a template for us. In verse 10, then he became very hungry and wanted to eat. But while they made ready, he fell into a trance. That's happened to me. I've been so hungry, I fell into a trance. Okay. That not happened.

Anyway. Then he became hungry and wanted to eat. And as they made ready.

So they're making lunch. He's not asleep. A trance is where the visions are given. And a vision, the difference between a vision and a dream is you're awake for the vision, but you're sleeping for the dream.

And you consciously, you are removed from your immediate surroundings. And this is what is happening to Peter. Verse 11, he saw the heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners descending to him and let down to the earth.

Coming straight out of heaven, it says it was descending to him. In his vision, he is singled out. Maybe you have a dream. And in the dream, someone in the dream is singled out. Maybe it's you.

Maybe it's somebody else. In this vision, this was him. God had his attention. Four corners of the sheet. Why would you have to say that? Well, because it is the world.

The four points of a compass. And I think Peter is getting that. He's understanding. It sticks with him because he's the one telling the story. And Luke is preserving it.

This is an important point. The four corners of that sheet with the, you know, it's hard to say the sheet because you're thinking sheep. And it's both, you know, part of Christianity is sheep so much. But anyhow, verse 12, and then you don't want to, of course, misspeak and say something that you really regret. Verse 12, in it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. So the unclean animals represent the Gentiles.

Hey, that's me. The clean represent the Jews. Now, ceremonially speaking, God is, of course, changing all of this.

Both are here together in the sheet, assembled. And from God's perspective, they're both clean. There's nothing unclean here.

But Peter's got to get through this. And God is helping him. Maybe you've got some hang-ups. Maybe they're racist. Maybe they're not. Maybe they're cultural. Maybe they're religious.

Whatever they are, you've got stuff that's got to get cleaned up. And God is the one that's going to do that for you. Mostly, I think, God does it through sermons.

There are other ways, of course. But for example, when you come and sit through a sermon that is a biblical sermon, you're singled out, just like Peter. What God has to say through his servant is God's business. What you do with what is said is your business.

The two together is what makes the relationship work. And maybe, again, you've got something to sort out. Maybe there's someone you have a grudge against, and you know it's gone too far in your heart, and you need to, you know, dial it back and take it to the Lord, you know, without the snide little comments. Lord, you know I hate this person, but you know you hate him too. You can't say things like that to God.

It's not good. It's so important to pray out loud, but when you're in your closet, or in your car, wherever you are alone, it's so important, because when you articulate things, you begin to, your brain begins to ring in on it. Like, you know what, I'm actually thinking about what I'm saying to God. Whereas I might speak to a person, I might not be doing that. So here's an example. Maybe, maybe someone out there who listens to this on the radio, because it doesn't happen here. Maybe they're saying you have bad thoughts about your pastor.

I know it's ridiculous, but we'll go with it anyway. Well, if you take it to God, instead of to your friend, or someone else, take it to God, find out what happens then. It's just remarkable how if you have an opponent in life, and you talk to God about them, there's relief there. Now that doesn't mean the other person is going to get saved, or get right, or something like that, but it does mean God singles you out, and works with you on the matter, and that's what we want so much. So, here we see the clean and the unclean assembled together, just like a church. Both will be caught up to heaven together when we get to verse 16. All declared clean by God is what He does.

No matter how defiled you are, God can help. 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 / 2022-12-21 15:59:51 / 2022-12-21 16:09:33 / 10

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