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Faithful Unbelief (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 11, 2023 6:00 am

Faithful Unbelief (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 11, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


When Peter had come to himself, he said, Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.

Now, of course, this reads almost as though Peter is Jewish, you know, so it's not he's talking about those Jews who not only rejected Jesus as being Messiah, but were hostile towards those who believed that Jesus was Messiah. 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. Today, Pastor Rick brings us part two of his message called Faithful Unbelief in the Book of Acts chapter 12. Talk about praying sensibly, Lord, who are you?

What would you like me to do? Growing in the knowledge and grace of God. Well, we meet Christ and we know him personally, but there are things about him that we have to learn as life moves forward and relearn. That's why Paul prayed that the believers would grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ.

Interesting. Oh, the grace and knowledge. Because some have the knowledge, no grace. But to have true grace, you're going to have some Bible knowledge that's a critical point that Satan does not want you to get. And there are entire churches and denominations that have tossed what the Bible teaches away and they're just now doing their own thing in the name of the church.

That is less than ideal. Verse 7, Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the prison. And he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, Arise quickly.

And his chains fell off his hands. Angels are God's servants who serve God's servants also. And they do other things, but one of the outstanding features about angels in relation to us is that they serve us at God's behest.

Hebrews chapter 1, verse 14, Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Psalm 134, 7 tells us that the angel of the Lord encamps about the righteous. Elisha asked God that the servant's eyes, that God would open his servant's eyes so he could see that there were more with them than against them. And there he saw the chariots of fire. Matthew 4-11, after Christ had faced Satan in the wilderness, then the devil left him, Luke adds for a while. And behold, angels came and ministered to him, to the Christ our Lord. 1 Kings 19, 7, speaking of Elijah, who had this great, this fantastic victory on Mount Carmel against evil. And then he flees, once he gets to the gate of the city and finds out there's a contract on his life to kill him, he flees to the wilderness.

And there he feels he's a failure, because in that sense he is. And the Bible tells us that an angel of Yahweh came back the second time and touched him and said, Arise and eat because the journey is too great for you. And so there we see the angel ministering to the prophet, making him strong to continue his work. We'll come across angels in the book of Acts at least twice more, strengthening Paul, the apostle. It says here in verse 7, a light shone in the prison and struck Peter on the side and raised him up. Is that the same verse that gave me a hard time?

Am I being stalked? It's interesting, the light awakens no one. They're all so sound asleep, this is what we could say uncreated light in the physical realm, certainly brought in from the spiritual. In other words, he didn't light anything, it just comes with this messenger of God. It is going to help Peter find his sandals and his cloak and the exits. This messenger strikes Peter just enough to awaken him without harming him. It is a heavy strike according to the Greek word. It is the same word that's going to be used when the angel strikes Herod to death. But he doesn't kill Peter, doesn't even harm him.

But he gets him up. Evidently Peter was in a deep sleep because he's groggy enough to suppose this is not really happening. Well, saying arise quickly and his chains fell off his hands. The miraculous still called for action. This was a miracle that just the fact that the angels in the room with him, that there's light coming from no known source other than the angel and that Peter's chains have fallen off of his hands. The miraculous though still called for the action in the physical. Peter still had to do things.

He didn't just hover his way out of jail. Luke, who is the author of the book of Acts, was careful about his research. We learned that in Luke's Gospel chapter 1 verse 3 where he says, I paid attention to these things.

I was very careful. I investigated what I'm telling you, O Theophilus. Verse 8, then the angel said to him, gird yourself and tie on your sandals. And so he did. And he said to him, put on your garment and follow me.

Here's the interesting thing. Gird yourself and tie on your sandals. God told Moses and Joshua to remove their sandals when they stood before him because it was the time to worship.

Peter is told to put on his coat and sandals because it is time to move. John's Gospel again, chapter 21. Moses, surely I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished.

But when you are old, you stretch out your hands and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish. Well, he's girding himself and he's not old yet, relative to the prophecy. He's still in control of himself, his future, his destiny under the leadership of God, the Lord Jesus.

Peter was responsible to put on his shoes and his garment, his sandals. He would remember this for the rest of his life, no question. He certainly impressed Luke.

He's writing this 15, 20 years later. He had to go back and question people about this, which would have been Peter and John Mark and whatever believers were around. Peter first told the story while it was fresh in his mind. Verse 9, so he went out, followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. Well, he had a vision before while in Joppa, and this tells us that visions of God are that real. They make such an impression on us, but this again is no vision, and Peter is not able to make that distinction yet.

Well, that again is encouraging to me. Things are not all, you know, just automatic. Sometimes it just is to have to unfold before us. Maybe somebody asks you something or requests something of you, and you, at least I do, purposely often take my time to get back to them because I pursue it with the Lord. Well, that comes with the position that I have as a pastor, but even outside of being a pastor, I try to practice that.

It's a good practice to give space to the Lord to minister to you if you have time. Verse 10, when they were past the first and second guard post, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. Angels, again, in Scripture, never appear to be interested in hanging around here any longer than they have to. There's just no place like home, and we see that once their mission is finished, they're out. They say, well, you know what? There's this little shop right around the corner.

I just have to go by there. There's none of that. When they were past the first and second guard post, Peter is quietly following along, and maybe it's good he thinks it's a vision because he has a role to play within the vision, and maybe if it wasn't, he might have been, you know, very nervous. Could you imagine?

But to him at the moment, this is surreal. You know, in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, he has the scene where Christian, the character, is going to the house of these other believers, and there's these two mean dogs outside. I think they were dogs, not lions, but they might have been lions. Anyway, he has to pass them. They're chained, and he's told that they can't reach him. He has to, by faith, go past, overcome this terror. And I would think that, you know, most of us, without the spirit, there would have been an element of terror trying to get out of the prison. What if one of them wakes up?

What if I trip? And anyway, that's part of the scene. I think this is why it is recorded as it is recorded so we can identify with the severity of these circumstances that Peter is faced with. They came to him, it continues in verse 10, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city. Well, this iron gate leads out of the jail, not into the city. There are other gates that do lead into the walled city of Jerusalem.

This is not one of them. That's not what it is saying. It is saying they're going out of the gate that's going toward Jerusalem. Earlier in Peter's ministry, he came to the gate called Beautiful as he went to the temple within the city, and he and John, of course, healed the beggar and converted him also. Now he comes to the iron gate of the ugly jail.

There's nothing beautiful about this gate. Life is that way. It is filled with paradox and irony and surprises, but also victory. Were there no victory, we wouldn't have this record here before us. This is preserved for us. This does no help to the Christians in heaven. They are past this stage.

Their glorification is complete. We, however, are still in the days of probation and conflict, and we are to benefit from these stories. Life has iron gates. That some of these iron gates in life, we won't get past until we're out of this life. But it's up to us to exit the gates we can get past and to know how to behave behind the gates we cannot. Peter, he made converts outside these gates. Paul, he made converts within the gates. I mean, we have the Ephesian letter, the Philippian letter, the Colossian letter, the letter to Philemon. These are jailhouse letters. This is a testimony to functioning whether the gate opens or not.

Unconditional service should attract us. Twice God spoke directly to Jeremiah while he was in jail. None of his imprisonments almost cost him his life had he not been pulled out, had there not been a slave that on his behalf asked the king to take Jeremiah out of the mire. God had power to deliver Jeremiah from jail as he had power to deliver Peter, but he did not. Jeremiah 33 verse 1, Moreover, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah a second time while he was still shut up in the court of the prison. And then it goes on to God is speaking to him.

And you know, I would have said, Lord, this is incredible. This is the maker of the universe speaking to me. Could you open that iron gate and put those guards to sleep so I can go to that little coffee shop that the angel wasn't interested in? Anyway, it says, which opened to them of its own accord, again, still supposing it is a dream, but it is very real. And they went out and down one street and immediately the angel departed from him.

There was nothing else to do concerning this event. And so Peter is is now moving forward. Verse 11. And when Peter had come to himself, he said, Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people. Now, of course, this reads almost as though Peter is Jewish.

So it's not. He's talking about those Jews who not only rejected Jesus as being Messiah, but were hostile towards those who believed that Jesus was Messiah. Paul has some very strong things to say about this group. In Thessalonians, I'll just take verse 15, but he talks about his own countrymen hounding him. He says, Who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and have persecuted us. And they do not please God and are contrary to all men. However, when Paul is writing that, he's saying to the Thessalonians, Your countrymen are doing this to you. Your Gentile countrymen are doing to you what my Jewish countrymen are doing to me, opposing the gospel of Jesus Christ and his servants. Verse 12.

So when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary and Mary, the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. Now remember, Luke's not even a Christian at this point when these events are taking place. He has to go back and research it. This is the difference between a book and a letter. You know, a letter is sort of off the cuff with a few references here and there. But a book, you research it, you organize it, outline it.

It's a whole different structure. And I think that says something. It's kind of nice when you get a letter to Philemon.

It's very personal. This is addressed to Theophilus, who we believe was an individual. It could have been just a code name for Christians at large.

Nonetheless, it's well researched, documented. And here in verse 12, we now meet John Mark. We met him in the gospel of Mark, but not by name.

I'll come to some of that perhaps. But the first Christians, they did not have their own buildings, not till the fourth century. Were they allowed to have their own buildings?

It wasn't something like, oh, this is great. Let's just meet at Louis' house. Well, that's just not practical as you start growing. One of the big things you need, rest rooms. I mean, a facility, to facilitate an assembly.

And we are very grateful for being able to have such a facility as this. I read the missionary reports, one of them, pastoral training of Asia, Jim Davies. He ministers mainly Thailand, Vietnam, mainly the Philippines, but that region of Southeast Asia. And he brings up often the humidity.

Instead of worrying about hitting a deer, they worry about an elephant hitting them in Thailand. And you read these reports, you say, boy, Lord, I'm sure glad you didn't call me to that ministry. All right, never mind. Just stay serious because some people know how to joke.

Anyway, back to what we're talking about here. The believers are meeting in the house of Mary because they cannot have a church to meet in. Paul later rented space from Tyrannus, and there he ministered for almost two years. And the early Christians in Jerusalem would meet in public places such as the temple grounds. In Philippi, Paul and Luke found believers meeting by the river.

So this is how it was then. This is the first mention of John Mark, as I said, by name in Scripture. The Holy Church ascribed the authorship of what we know as the Gospel of Mark to this John Mark, a companion of Paul, a companion of Barnabas and Simon Peter. He's very much plugged in. And he shows up in the Book of Mark at the arrest of Christ. The soldiers grabbed him, but he wiggles free.

Likely there are soldiers probably with a spear in one hand just grabbing with the other hand, he manages to get free. And it's sort of random. He runs away nude, it says, the biblical streaker.

So why? Why is this in there? Well, it's probably a little signature of what do you call a cameo of Mark, not the author, but the writer, the scribe of the Gospel of Mark, because the Lord Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith through the Spirit of God. Well, this house that they're meeting in is the house of his mother Mary. Now, Mark was a cousin of Barnabas whom we've already met. We'll meet him further in Scripture. We know this from Colossians Chapter 4. That means that this Mary was the aunt of Barnabas. Interesting how they had this little family thing plugged in.

And it's very, very sweet, it is. His surname Mark was adopted as a Gentile name, very common. Marcus was a common name in the Latin amongst the Romans, and John was a very common name amongst the Jews.

So he had two common names there. Mark will become the dominant name, and likely because he has some knowledge of Gentiles, which is why he probably wants to go on the second mission with Paul and Barnabas, and even though he flunks, he ends up again in the mission field with Peter and Paul years later. And so Mark becomes the dominant name so that he more easily identifies with the Gentiles that he is ministering to. I certainly can't wait to just talk about him as we go through the New Testament. We find him in Antioch, in Cyprus, in Pergar where he departs.

We find him rejected. And then ultimately he becomes useful to Paul and Peter, as I said, and to Christianity. I mean the Gospel of Mark is just a one, two, three gospel account. You don't want to quickly get a view of the gospel.

Go to the Gospel of Mark, 16 chapters, and you're done. You probably read it in a month. You probably can read it in one sitting, but it'd be all day for most of us. Anyway, I have to boast about this because I'm not doing it again. I once read Jeremiah in one day. It took the whole day.

I was famished, but it was a good experience to me. 2 Timothy chapter 4, this long after Mark had failed Paul and he refused to take him again, but that is something that was overcome. He writes to Timothy, Paul does, Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.

It's one of the sweetest rebounds of scripture. He just hears Mark, he fails, and Paul wants nothing to do with him at that earliest stage. And he and Barnabas get in this heated argument.

Barnabas goes to Cyprus with Mark and Paul goes with Silas back to Turkey and Europe. And it is, but then you would, we're glad the story doesn't end there. And I can read my Bible and I find a character like Mark and I say, I fail.

I get it wrong. I blow it. And yet God keeps pressing me forward. I can't quit.

That's a horrendous, you know, alternative. What am I going to do? Give up?

I've just done. I didn't get that right. I'm finished. It'd be three cheers in hell over that. And just be stoked by these kinds of things because they are preserved for us. Anyway, this prayer meeting is not a general prayer meeting where you gather and you pray as the Spirit moves you to pray. This, you know, they weren't there, someone trying to hog the floor and pray up everything and leave nothing for anybody else. Well, you know, Pepe just prayed for everything. Let's all just close in prayer. All right, maybe you haven't sit in many prayer meetings as I have over the years, but anyhow, here it is centered on Peter, not on everything.

This is, you know, a special prayer meeting called to get him out of jail, save his life, keep him from torture. Verse 13. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. The name Rhoda, Rose, is what it means. She's a household slave. We know that because the Greek word for girl really is a slave girl. And yet she's a believer. We know that from the way she responds.

Verse 14. When she recognized Peter's voice because of her gladness, she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. Now, the gate's outside the house, and so it's almost a compound kind of a picture. It's her job as a slave girl, as everyone is praying, to make sure if the phone rings, she answers it.

And, of course, the gate in this case. She had evidently heard Peter's voice enough to recognize it through the gate, which means she had sat through Peter's sermons. I mean, if she's just this slave girl that's not a believer, how often does Peter come over and she hears his voice? Well, it fits wonderfully into the story.

Her excitement helps, supports this. That she had heard Peter preach and speak enough that there was no mistaking who was on the other side of that gate. 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 / 2023-01-11 09:36:39 / 2023-01-11 09:45:33 / 9

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