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Antioch! (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 4, 2023 6:00 am

Antioch! (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 4, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Pastor Rick Gaston

When he came, he had seen the grace of God. He knew what he was looking at. He had spiritual discernment.

He said, this is God. This isn't just a bunch of people that are... Some people confuse activity from ministry. They think because they're busybodies that somehow this is being led by the Holy Spirit.

And as a result, they end up getting some results, but they're just not... The Spirit's not there. 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. And T'yoch is the title of Pastor Rick's message, and today he'll be teaching in Acts chapter 11. The Holy Spirit is in control of everything that is taking place here, just like we know he is in control of everything in our lives if we yield to him. He is present for it all.

That's why we read in Proverbs and we make, you know, we put it on t-shirts and coffee mugs and refrigerators. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge the Lord, because he is sovereign. And part of his being God includes that he is ubiquitous. He can be everywhere, and he is everywhere at the same time.

The world doesn't know this. In fact, as we go through the Old Testament, we know that they localized their gods. Well, he's the God of the hills, and he's the God of the valley, and this is crazy. This is not God. And today there are people just as ignorant, and I don't mean that as an intended insult, just a fact, ignorant of the revelation of God to man. Well, they arrive here at Antioch, and they decided to begin as a matter of policy to reach out to the non-Jewish people. And this has not happened before. Again, Peter was sent, yes, but it seems that that had been it.

This is on a larger scale. Evidently, they were inspired by Peter's experience at Caesarea, and perhaps even they finally got word of what God told Saul, Acts chapter 9. But the Lord said to him, to Ananias who was going to go to Saul, go for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. Now a devout Jew may have listened to that and said, well, he's just going to bear the name of Yahweh to them, but it doesn't mean he's going to lead them into Christ.

He wouldn't just think that way. It took time. It was very difficult. And this is not to say that they were somehow less sensitive, less loving than us. They were victims of their upbringing, and it wasn't just washed away instantly.

This had to develop to overcome these things. And that's why I give you time stamps saying to you, for example, this is now about 10 years after the resurrection. And Christianity really has not moved as Jesus said, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature. Well, Christianity here in Antioch will be set apart from everything else.

It will be set apart from Judaism and from paganism when the worldlings say, you're Christians. God didn't give that through the believers. It came from the unbelievers. You're Christians.

And it stuck. It's suitable. It's right. And in that sense, it does come from God. We'll open that up when we get to verse 26.

Here, they are preaching the Lord Jesus, these Cypriots and Cyrenians. Our primary purpose is to spread the word of God. Why are you here on earth? Well, of course, you've got to make a living. You have to raise children. You've got to do various things. But the main reason why you are left here in this life is to preach Jesus Christ in some way, in some form through your testimony, through speech, the combination of these things, throwing at it everything we've got to prepare ourselves to be useful to God. Now, there may be times when you just don't feel it.

It's not happening. Well, that's going to be the case with Saul the apostles while he's in Tarsus and Cilicia. But while he's there, he's preaching.

He is working. There is much evidence in history that there were Christians in this area and during the time of Saul, who became Paul. But he's going to be used on a grander scale in a little while, faithful with the little things. It can take a long time and a lot of pain. It's a lot of pain to be used by God. This preaching of the Lord, it was to bring what God says to man to man. God has already revealed it in his word. He has said it to mankind. But how does it get to them?

As I read about that convert in Afghanistan, Abdul, he never heard of Jesus Christ. Somebody got there. We look at some maybe participant in a pagan religion and we sneer at them. Oh man, they're here. And our hearts should be, Lord, help me to reach them.

You love them too. And to remember that if you listen too much to the news, that part of your heart that would reach out to the unbeliever may start to become a little foggy because you're just so bombarded by what Satan is doing. You're losing sight of what God wants to do. And that is to bring his son to man.

And he uses us to do it. They're preaching the Lord Jesus to these Gentiles overcoming opposition. Now some feel that these were not Gentiles, that they were speaking, these were Jews under the Grecian culture speaking to other Jews in the Grecian culture.

But that would be a redundancy. Ten years into this, we've already passed the experiences of Acts chapter 6, the Greek speaking Jews, cultured Jews, they were already accepted. That is not how this section reads at all. There would be nothing remarkable about preaching to fellow Jews in this context because Luke is making it remarkable. Of course it's remarkable to speak to anybody about Christ, but that's not where he's going here.

This is a fantastic experience. These are far-sighted believers. Likely men and women doing their part. The Cyprians and the Cyrenians, the Jewish Christians, taking the first major step into the Gentile world. Not to take away from Peter what Peter did. It wouldn't happen without what Peter did in Caesarea, but it's happening. And it's happening finally. They begin to preach Christ to the Gentiles, bringing them into the church where there was no such thing before.

Not like this. It was then, as it is now, all about who God is. Who truly is God. Is he who man says that he is? Or is he who God says that he is?

And what evidence do you have? And what is one to do with their life after they discover who God is? These are the pressing questions for them in Antioch and for us to this very day. Who is God?

What are we to do with that? What did Saul the apostle say when the Lord met him on the road to Damascus? Who are you, Lord?

What do you want me to do for you? That simplifies it. Verse 21, and the hand of the Lord was with them and a great multitude believed and turned to the Lord. The hand of the Lord is the hand of Jesus Christ. And he uses our hands to pull it off, to make this happen. In Mark's Gospel, we read, and they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.

Amen. Well, again, at that point, they were just going out to the Gentiles, but they were doing it, nonetheless, to the Jews, pardon me. And a Jewish soul is just as important as a Gentile soul and vice versa. Now we're seeing it spread and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. The Gentiles were hungry for the truth. Many of them were sick of the made-up gods, the things the zoos fighting against this one, arguing with that one, and mercury and all this nonsense.

The spread of Christian, excuse me, let's pause for a minute. That'll help when they make the radio, message radio, when they help the message going, okay, forget it. Good night. Can I have an interpreter?

Anybody here speak American? All right, back to this. The spread of Christianity in Acts is pronounced and it is deliberate. Luke is, the whole purpose is, he's documenting this. Oh, Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, well, here it is.

This is how it happened. Theophilus, if it is a single person, which I believe it is, he's reading this stuff, he's devouring it. Evidently, a person of means. And Theophilus gets this, and more than likely, Luke probably has an original copy or two, you know, you would think, somebody said, this is so good, we've got to publish this. We have it preserved for us. The majority text of manuscripts that we have are called the majority text because there's so many of them. And there's so many of them because they were that good, they were that important. So they kept copying, keeping them in circulation. Some would fade, you know, get lost, they would just keep producing them. Whereas there are other manuscripts where there are not that many. They're evidently not as good. I believe that.

That is my understanding. Coming back to verse 21, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord, verse 22, then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. Well, this news is received in Jerusalem. Jerusalem's got issues. At the end of this, hopefully, if we have time, I'll mention what churches I would not want to attend in the New Testament. There are churches I just would not want to belong to.

And then there are churches I would love to have belonged to, and I'll mention some of them in a little bit. But at this point, news gets to Jerusalem, and I'm sure many of them received it well. Great, the gospel is spreading, but troubles on the horizon. We'll get that in Acts 15 to prove that point. But mark the wisdom of the choice to send Barnabas. Of all the believers in Jerusalem, Barnabas is singled out.

This is God. God knew the right man. He was not an apostle. He was an intimate. He was close to the apostles. He was adored by them, and he earned it. It was properly placed, their adoration. As I mentioned, he was from Cyprus. He knew the Grecian culture also.

He's the one going up, and they're going to be happy it was him. He is a gallant servant. We covered him in earlier chapters, in chapter 4, and in chapter 9. When I think of, you know, there's a lot of material about, compared to Barnabas, about Joseph and Daniel. I mean, Joseph is just such a magnificent character. Probably the greatest type of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament as a person goes. Well, when I think of those two men, Joseph and Daniel, I think of Barnabas, too. He was just that caliber of a devout believer.

Not that others weren't, but he was in that group. Verse 23, when he came, he had seen the grace of God. He was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. Well, we know he has this gift of encouragement. He just looks for the solution. He looks to keep moving things forward. You know, Pessimist looks at the glass half empty with a crack. It's just like, it's not enough to just be half empty.

It's leaking out for more. Verse 23 tells us, and when he came, that he had seen the grace of God. He knew how to identify—he knew what he was looking at. He had spiritual discernment.

He said, this is God. This isn't just a bunch of people that are—some people confuse activity from ministry. They think because they're busybodies that somehow this is being led by the Holy Spirit. And as a result, they end up getting some results, but they're just not—the Spirit's not there.

And if you've ever been a part of these things, you come and you say, boy, this is all great. You got this great work you're doing, but nobody's talking about the love of the Lord. Nobody's preaching the Gospel.

You're building huts for people or soup kitchens for people or whatever, and these things are good. But where's the love of Jesus Christ? So busy that they've lost sight of that sometime. I'm not saying in every case, but in many cases, there are those that confuse activity for ministry in Jesus' name.

We've got to all watch out for that. Well, coming back to verse 23, had they sent up a legalist to Antioch, a legalistic Jewish believer, things would have turned ugly. But God was in control of all of this, from sending the non-apostles up to start reaching the people, to have Barnabas come up, and as he should have, to confirm their work.

Legalism makes us critical of others, and at its source, one is self-impressed with their faith. We covered this Wednesday, Jehu, who was impressed with his devotion, his own devotion to God. He said, come and see my zeal for the Lord. And really, there was no zeal for the Lord.

It was a zeal for himself. But grace, on the other hand, makes us constructive towards others, while hating sin nonetheless. Grace is never a pass on sin. It is just the gratitude that my sin is dealt with, and I'm not cast out from Christ. Where sin abounded, grace did much more. It's God saying to Satan, in your face, not us, but God. Spurgeon, Charles Spurgeon, said, grace which does not make us hate sin is false grace.

Spurgeon just had this way about him, that he could so, in concise speech, just make these profound points. Barnabas tells them that they should continue with purpose of heart. Resolve. Resolve is to set the will over the the brains and the feelings, not to get rid of the brains and the feelings, just to keep them in their proper place. Resolve is, no, I'm going to do this. Not stubbornness is the other way. Stubbornness pushes away brains and the will of God, and it's just the flesh. But resolve has figured it out, has made its calculations.

Ruth did this. When Naomi said, depart from me, she said, I ain't going anywhere. Your people, my people, your God, my God. See, that was resolve.

It's critical to usefulness. You want to be useful to God? Have this resolve. Philippians 3, brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. This is the great apostle Paul in jail for Christ, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, not Caesar's prisoner.

He was never Caesar's prisoner. He was a prisoner of Christ. And he says, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the mark for the prize, for the high calling in Christ Jesus. That is resolve. I want, I don't want some of that.

I want all of that. Daniel said, said of Daniel, Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with a portion of the king's delicacies, nor with wine, which, which he drank. And so there we see resolve and Daniel purposed in his heart not to give in. Everybody else was drinking these things. Everyone else was eating these things. Daniel said, we're not going to just give into this, that they should continue with the Lord.

Well, what do we have here? God forces no one to love him. I don't care how many degrees a person has, how much they've studied, how zealous they are. When they tell me that God forces people to be saved, I depart from that. I don't agree with them. I vehemently disagree with that. Because then you have a hostage situation.

You're going to get loved, kid, whether you like it or not. I mean, that's not God. It's not the New Testament and not even the Old Testament. And this goes against a lot of people.

I want to save, always save. And they think that you're just repeating something they read instead of what the scripture is saying. Romans 11 22. If you continue in his goodness, otherwise you also will be cast out. What part of that is confusing?

Well, you have to bring somebody in that has to give you a human doctrine and then it gets very confusing. I'm not intimidated by this. I love it. I love that God treats me, says, listen, you will be with me in heaven if that's what you want.

Well, yeah, I want it. But Lord, what if I mess it up? Where sin abounded, grace did much more.

You will be kept by the power of God as long as you want. I think that's very fair. I think, in fact, God is a perfect gentleman. We read about, as our definition of gentleman, right?

We read about him in the book of Acts. I stand at the door and I'll kick it down. No, he doesn't do that.

I'll stand at the door and I'll huff and I'll puff. No, he stands at the door and he knocks. He's not rude. He doesn't force himself. This is his church. He's knocking on the door to his church. He is Lord of the harvest. He is Lord of the church and he knocks. He wants to be invited in.

He wants people to willfully open the door for him. These illustrations abound in the New Testament and the Old Testament. Colossians chapter 1. Now, I know this ruffles a lot of feathers because you've been listening to people that have just been saying it and it feels good to the flesh. But what does the Bible say? If indeed, Colossians 1 verse 23, you continue in the faith, that's conditional.

I'm not terrified by that. I know the Lord's love for me. At some point, the Christians got to stand up and say, write my name down, loved by Jesus Christ, instead of this, am I saved? Am I not saved?

Can I lose my heart? Stop it. Lay hold of it with resolve. We're not given a salvation so we can keep questioning it. We're given salvation because of what Jesus has done for us, based on his love for us and his desire to use us. And if we do not make ourselves useful, he loves us nonetheless. We have a robust God and he is not impressed by, you know, people being intellectual. He's impressed with people who are Christ-like. If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.

Now, I'm not going to take 20 minutes to try to tell you that doesn't mean what it says. I'll leave that to those who write many books on that one topic. Anyhow, coming back to this, verse 24, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a great many people were added to the Lord. A good man of God is a useful man to God.

Who would disagree with that? Well, Satan, of course. You know, Satan tried to mess with me on my way up here, like 30 seconds before it was time to come up.

He's like, this isn't useful. Shut up! That was my, and come out and preach God's word. You don't have to hear that from him. You find Satan messing with your head, you can let him mess with it if you'd like, but you stand up to him. And sometimes he doesn't stop just at the command, stop it. Just keep saying it.

Keep resisting him. This is fact. This is Christianity. We don't, I think we all agree a good man of God is a useful man to God.

Satan will come along and he'll chip at that. Well, define good. No. Let God define it. He's using me. He loves me. I'm good enough because of Christ. This is what it's taught in 2 Corinthians. It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ that is upon us.

It is his righteousness, not my righteousness. That's what Barnabas had and sells us in next clause. Full of the Holy Spirit, not full of himself. In Acts, this was said of the apostles, that they were full of the Holy Spirit. It was said of Peter. It was said of Stephen. It was said of Barnabas. It was said of Paul. Peter was filled to convert. There we read about Peter preaching and all the converts, about, you know, 3,000 added to the church. Stephen was filled to convict. He convicted all of them. So much so, they got rid of them.

They killed them. Barnabas was filled to encourage. Paul was filled to overcome the obstacles Paul had to face to preach the gospel and keep it uniform to Jew and Gentile alike, to remove that distinction.

So I look at this if Peter converting, Stephen convicting, Barnabas encouraging, Paul overcoming. What about me? If I'm filled with the Spirit, what am I doing? Well, it's not meant to make you feel small, like, what are you doing? You're not. You're useless.

Nothing like that. It's just a good question and it may change as the years go by. Life changes. At one point, you know, you're in an environment where you are convicting people. Maybe you're in the workplace and everybody's, you know, doing all the wrong things and you're just, I'm not having any part of that. That is convicting them. Or maybe you're in another place where you're just encouraging people.

Some people, some professed Christians, you think it would kill them to encourage somebody. Well, I better not tell them they're doing a good job. They're getting a big head. You know, sometimes we need a bigger head. Sometimes we need a little help. Sometimes it's okay to tell somebody you are actually doing a wonderful job. In fact, we should try it at the service, at the greeting line. Everybody, a wonderful job, Pastor.

Every single, knocked it out of the park again. You're so good it's getting boring. No, wait, let's strike that. Let's not go too far. Anyway, of course, it's okay to encourage people.

But don't make it fake, though. I mean, if your kid loses, you know, in a track race, he's running, he comes in last, don't say, good job, Johnny. You got out there on the field. That was awful. You probably need to take a bowling. Let's not break down.

Then nobody's going to trust you. My mom would do that. It was so wonderful. I could get an F on a test. Oh, it was wonderful.

At least it wasn't a G. Oh, Mom, good night. So when someone that you respect comes along and says, that was really good, then I'm just like, yes. Okay. That's what I needed from coming from that person. That's what I needed. 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 / 2023-01-04 20:02:24 / 2023-01-04 20:12:20 / 10

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