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Learning to Unlearn (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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December 23, 2022 6:00 am

Learning to Unlearn (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 23, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Israel is not replaced. It's there when Christ returns, and it will continue into the millennial reign. But the church will assume the role of telling the world about God. That church is made up of people who used to be Gentiles and used to be Jewish, but they now are Christians. And the world may not have that classification.

Well, that's the world. That's not the scripture. That's not God.

There's no longer Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, Scythian or barbarian, all in Christ. 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. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts chapter 10 as he begins his brand new study called Learning to Unlearn. Book of Acts beginning at verse 24. In the following day, they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him.

But Peter lifted him up saying, stand up, I myself am also a man. And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, you know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore, I came without objection as soon as I was sent for.

I asked then, for what reason have you sent for me? So Cornelius said, four days ago, I was fasting until this hour. And at the ninth hour, I prayed in my house. And behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter.

He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you. So I sent to you immediately and you have done well to come. Now, therefore, we are all present before God to hear all the things commanded you by God. Then Peter opened his mouth and said, in truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ, He is Lord of all. That word, you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with Him. We are His witnesses of these things, which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day and showed Him openly, not to all people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to judge the living and the dead, that to Him all the prophets witnessed, that through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. Please be seated.

All right, a little bit more than three minutes. This gentile household led by Cornelius, as well as the Jewish witnesses that accompanied Peter and Peter himself, they all had to learn about new wine being poured out by the Lord. Both had to unlearn some things about God that held them back from learning greater things about God.

We're no different. When I came to Christ, I had to unlearn things. Some of it was instant, not everything. I'm still learning, of course.

Less unlearning, it feels like, and more learning, though. But this was at the beginning of something major, very special taking place. I want to stress what is stressed in this section of Scripture, other places too, but especially here, is God's mercy, God's care, God's timing is going out of His way for us, for sinners. His undeserved kindness made available to people who fail Him, to people who fail themselves, to everyone. God is making Himself available to the house of Cornelius in this section of Scripture, but God is also making Himself available to everyone and has been doing it, and those who the word of God cannot reach, God will do right. You know, there are people now in Gaiman, for example, who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, may not have even heard His name. God knows what to do with them. We are concerned with the field of ministry that we have been given, signed by God. That lot, our personal tribal lot, the field that we have to work.

And to do this effectively, we have to learn all the time, and we have to relearn, and then there's the unlearning also. In verse 24, we again look at that verse, The following day they entered Caesarea, now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. Now I'm taking for granted that you know what happened leading up to this point in the first 23 verses, and if not, well then you've got a homework assignment to do, and hopefully it will still be meaningful to you. This man Cornelius rallied as many people as he could in anticipation of Peter's arrival.

Friends and family and fellow soldiers were all here in his house. About a 32 mile trip from Joppa to Caesarea, this is Caesarea Maritima by the sea, and in verse 25 as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. Well Cornelius, you've got to learn something here. But first you've got to unlearn something here, and that's why the title of the message, Learning to Unlearn, Peter is leading the first major Christian transition. Paul will later codify it.

He will outline it for us, he will give us the precepts that belong to our faith. The others will also, but Paul will really lead it in the transition from Judaism to Christianity, as far as setting out a doctrine for us to follow. And that means that from the Jew to the Gentile, from the law to grace, from Israel to the Church, this is the transition that is taking place. Not replacing the nation of Israel, the nation of Israel is not replaced, it's there when Christ returns, and it will continue into the millennial reign. But the Church will assume the role of telling the world about God. That Church is made up of people who used to be Gentiles and used to be Jewish, but they now are Christians.

And the world may not have that classification, well that's the world. That's not the Scripture, that's not God. There's no longer Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, Scythian or barbarian, all in Christ. And Cornelius, he has this great appetite for God. That's how Peter gets there. However, Peter also has a great appetite for God. And being zealous for the Lord, Cornelius, he does what is wrong, he makes a mistake.

Well, an error. Peter will not excuse it. This is misguided worship. He'll have to learn that we don't worship created beings. Worshipping anything created is forbidden by the Creator.

Paul gets into that also and he gets into his first, what we know as the first chapter of his Roman letter. But being zealous for God does not excuse misguided worship. And again, Cornelius is very much zealous for God, but what he did here is misguided and it is not to be received. Even John, the beloved apostle who knew better, who knew that this is not what we do, we do not worship created beings.

We do not fall down before them like this. Even he lost sight of this later in life, probably in his 90s when it takes place, and he does it twice. He was overwhelmed by his spiritual experience when he received the revelation of Jesus Christ. Revelation 19 verse 10, and I fell at his feet and worshiped him. But he said to me, see that you don't do that. I am your fellow servant of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Worship God for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. So the angel that has been assigned to guide John through the revelation of Christ says, hey, stop doing it. You get me in trouble.

We don't do that. John, again, overwhelmed by the whole experience and who can fault him. Revelation 22, now I, John, saw and heard these things, and when I heard and saw, I fell down and worshiped before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And then he said to me, see that you do not do that.

And he doesn't add, I told you not to do that. And then he says, for I am your fellow servant and of your brethren, the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book, worship God. And so here's Cornelius making this mistake. Misguided was John in his adoration, and yet it was not excused. It was not, well, I understand, you know, you're just so caught up in the spirit that sinning is okay. No, that is certainly not what happened. The angel corrected the beloved apostle without condemning him, without belittling him, as Peter does with Cornelius.

So it is a very big thing. Incidentally, this Greek word for worshiping someone in the New Testament is only directed towards Jesus without objection. Paul and Barnabas will face the same thing, and they will say, hey, we have a nature just like yours. Don't worship us, we're like you. And that comes in chapter 14, and so my point is when you read in the gospels that they fell and they worshiped Jesus, he receives the worship because he is worthy of the worship because he is God the Son. And others, of course, when they're worshiped in the New Testament, don't do that. I am not worthy, I am a created being as you are. This would refute the Jehovah's Witnesses' teaching that Christ was not divine.

He is every bit a part of the Godhead, he is every bit divine. Verse 26, but Peter lifted him up saying, stand up, I myself am also a man. Well, again, well, before I get to that, Peter does not hold out his ring for Cornelius to kiss.

We should point that out. It's very important because we go by what the Bible says, not what people make up. Peter refused to be considered superior to another human being. I'm no different from you.

We may have different tastes in things, different things about us, but in essence, I am just like you. Cornelius had to learn. He had to unlearn things that he had been exposed to that were unacceptable to God. At one point in his life, before Christ enters in, it was fine with worshipping things that were created. He came out of the kingdom of paganism and he is getting an education at this point.

God's kingdom is unlike any other. And so, yeah, Peter doesn't give him a pass, he corrects it right away. And very important, what would have happened if Peter just received it? Well, a lot would have been wrong. But even Cornelius, once he would have found out, let's say years later, he would have said, why didn't that apostle tell me this was wrong? And he would have been correct.

But Peter, of course, did the right thing and addressed it immediately in verse 27. Let me pause here. Do people still worship created things?

Absolutely. We have people who worship movie stars, sports stars, rock stars, and the stars themselves. The creature worshipping the created rather than the creator.

And you can't do them both at the same time. You can't say, well, I worship the stars, but I also worship Yahweh. Well, the Jews were doing that. And the prophet Malachi called them out on it. Well, and other prophets did too, I should add that. Much of their ministry was trying to halt the progression of false and misguided worship. And it had entrenched itself in the Jewish people. Verse 27, and as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Stepping into this gentile house was probably more of an amazing step for Peter than when he stepped out on the sea to walk on the water. This was a big deal.

Wisely, Peter brought with him Jewish believers from the church in Joppa. So they're witnessing this. They're going to have to unlearn things also.

Luke, chapter 5, verse 38, new wine, Jesus said, must be put into new wineskins and both are preserved. Flexible. As Christians, we are supposed to be flexible. We're not called upon to be contortionists. But we are called upon to be flexible, to give a little bit where it is necessary and wise. And where the scripture permits us. There's no flexibility with false worship, with misguided worship. We don't let someone fall down and out, as Cornelius did with Peter, and say, I'm just being flexible, let them do it.

That was too big of a deal. Verse 28, and then he said to them, Peter speaking, you know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. God has shown me that I should not haul any man common or unclean. You see the benefit of going verse by verse.

We just cover things that we otherwise would miss. Here, you know, calling the unclean animals, the common animals, God said, no, we don't call people those things. Unless you're driving. There is no specific Old Testament law that forbade this kind of interaction with non-Jewish people. Yes, the Jews were not to follow their diet and get too close to the people, but they could go in someone's house.

There's no law that said don't go into a Gentile's house. Jesus remained for two days in Samaria. Where did he stay? It's not like the hotel holiday in there and he just checks in and I can't stay at the Gentiles. You say, maybe he slept out under the stars. Yeah, well, where did he take his meals? Why was he there?

He was mingling with the people. The rabbis had injected extreme views into Judaism, into what God was teaching. They took everything to the wrong level. Jesus points that out. He says, woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. Those were their rabbis.

For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte. When he is one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Oh, man, Jesus said that. If I said that, you'd be, I don't know, who do you think you are? Well, I'm quoting the Lord and that's who I know I are. So, it's just amazing. Peter will bring it up because this is not going to set well with the Jewish Christians.

Understandably, it is not mocking them or picking on them. This was a difficult transition and that's why it was major. One reason why it was major. Peter is going to have to defend all of this. And later, on another issue, when Judaistic Christians went up to Antioch and they tried to get the Christians to follow Judaism, dietary laws, circumcision, stuff like that.

Paul went ballistic, him and Barnabas. And they said, well fine, we'll take it to Jerusalem. And they go to Jerusalem there and they have the council. And Peter stands up in defense of Christians, of being converted to Christianity without having to become Jewish.

And it's not anti-Semitic at all. Acts chapter 15, verse 10, this is what Peter says. And he's pointing to how the rabbis injected these laws on the people that God never put on them. We have to watch doing the same thing as Christians because there are Christians that will come and tell you things that the Bible does not tell you to do. And they'll speak it as though it's a commandment of God. You're sinning if you don't do this and you don't do that.

You don't wear, you know, wooden skirts or something. So Peter says, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? He's saying the rabbis, they just loaded us up with rules that who could follow them? And so when he says, you know it's unlawful for me to come in your house? It's like, it's not like, it is, this fact.

It was never prohibited in the first place. But he still has to overcome this. He's been raised this way as a Jewish man. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. May God show us too. So God overruled these teachings that were wrong. And it took miracles. It took dreams and visions to get this rolling. Now we have the scripture.

Now it's codified for us. We don't need a vision to understand so much of our Christian faith. Verse 29, therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I asked then, for what reason have you sent for me?

Fair enough. Why am I here? And Peter says that it is because God prepared him. I'm here because of God. I'm not here because I felt sorry for you. I'm not here because I always wanted to see Caesarea.

I'm here because God sent me. And I fear, you know, many times Christians go on mission trips because they just want to see the place. I'm going on a mission trip to Naples. Or I'm going on a mission trip to Maui. Fine, if God's sending you there, but if it's like exciting, maybe you shouldn't be going. Well, I don't want to judge, because I know I've hit 20 or 30 people. At some point, somewhere you're going to get it, but tell God, not me.

I said, but you said it, I'm going to tell you. Moving back to this, Peter came without objection once he knew it was the Lord. Once he had that green light from God, he was off with his assignment. Verse 30, so Canelia said, four days ago I was fasting until this hour. I have to pause there, because it's a little confusing, verse 30. He reads as though he's still fasting, and I don't believe that is the meaning. He didn't give a time. He said, I was fasting to whatever hour it was until the ninth hour.

That is how he is saying it. So Canelia's, verse 30, said four days ago, I was fasting until this hour, and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing. He was recounting to Peter the vision that he had that started in verse one of this chapter. Verse 31, he continues, and he said, Canelia, this is what the man in the bright clothing said to him, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. I have thought about this prayer so many times, this moment, from verse one and here again, many times in my Christian walk, when is God going to answer my prayer? When am I going to have that Canelia's moment? Rick, I've heard your prayer. No.

I don't want to hear that. I want to hear it granted. It has been granted unto you. But I will add, there are many prayers that I have not made that God has answered, if I can say it that way. In other words, he has given me things that I have not even asked for, and they're big things.

Where would I be without them? He's brought people into this ministry that I never asked for, and I'll let you know who you are after service. I mean as blessings, just blessings. So it causes one to meditate on these things, to give yourself to them, to ponder them, to try to get them to influence how you're going to serve the Lord better. I don't know about you, I'm always trying to serve better.

I like to think all Christians are trying to do better. We meet with much resistance. We have to learn how to keep going nonetheless. I'm not getting better at this.

Well, what is your alternative? Quit or keep going? Well, we have a single word for that. It's called persevere. He said, but it hurts so much.

We have a word for that too. Endure. Endure means take the pain.

Take it. Sometimes you just don't have a choice. I'm just being real with you because in all of this reality is God, the one who took the pain for us, not only on the cross, but in other ways. You can bet his heart broke over many things that he had to deal with in his life on earth. Well, coming back to this, verse 31, he stood before me in bright clothing and said, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms remembered in the sight of God. Peter talking about abstaining because fasting is meant to weaken the flesh. There are types of fasting. Cornelius may have skipped two meals that day and only just had a sundown meal, something like that. Or maybe it's a day where you just abstain from some other pleasure that is harmless in itself, not sinful, but to fast is to abstain. The flesh will resist us, of course. Peter wrote to the believers, he said, Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.

And yes, Lord, it does. 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 / 2022-12-23 06:31:53 / 2022-12-23 06:41:20 / 9

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