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Faithful Unbelief (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 12, 2023 6:00 am

Faithful Unbelief (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 12, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

A New Beginning
Greg Laurie
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Grace To You
John MacArthur

He by this time assumes a leadership role in the church in Jerusalem to his credit. Initially he was an unbeliever of Jesus Christ, but after the resurrection Christ met with him and he's a full-blown believer, but he's having a hard time, he's going to have a hard time breaking away from his legalism. Because once legalism gets hold of you, it feels so good to the flesh and it is a hard thing.

It's like a terrible weed. 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 12 as he continues his message, Faithful Unbelief. 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 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, well Peter's 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, 12.

So when he had considered this, he came to the house of 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. 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, you know, this is great, let's just meet at Louis' house, and you know, that's just not practical as you start growing. One of the big things you need, rest rooms.

I mean, to a facility, to facilitate an assembly, and we are very grateful for being able to have such a facility as this. I read, you know, the missionary reports, one of them, pastoral training of Asia, Jim Davies. He ministers mainly Thailand, Vietnam, mainly the Philippines, all that region of Southeast Asia, and always brings up often the humidity.

As you got to, you know, 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 early 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's probably a spear in one hand, just grab him with the other hand, and 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. It is 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.

And 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 can 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. Here is 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'm 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 seen as many prayer meetings as I have over the years, but anyhow, here it is centered on Peter, not on everything.

This is a, 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, and her excitement helps support this, that she had heard Peter preach and speak enough that there was no mistaking who was on the other side of that gate, likely a wooden gate. It says because of her gladness she did not open the gate. She was so excited she forgot to open the door. This is what we're praying for.

She abandons him at the gate. So let's get this right. God delivered Peter from jail, but God couldn't get Peter into a prayer meeting. It is comical, and it was comical to them. And I'm sure Luke was writing this. It was humorous to all of them.

How many times did they retell this story with this being an indispensable part of the story? We're praying for him and God delivered him. Now for the humor.

It's just wonderful. Imagine the look on Peter's face because he's nervous. He knows it's going to be a manhunt for him, and he's got to get to a safe place.

But he has presence of mind. I've got to tell the believers I'm out. There's no way he would have known a prayer meeting was taking place unless they did this for James. And he would have known they were doing it for him, which I think is what was happening, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the door. Well, it's not over yet, the humor. Peter is here, the one we're praying for.

He's outside waiting for me to let him in. It's something she didn't say it that way. Again, this is a story that you just love to tell, verse 15. But they said to her, you are beside yourself. Yet she kept insisting that it was so, so they said, it is his angel. Okay, now it gets more goofy.

And the New King James downsides the language from the original some. The church praying fervently from verse 5 and verse 12, they're fervently praying for Peter's release, and they accuse her in a somewhat lighthearted way of being crazy. You're out of your mind. That's what they did. In other words, they're saying, you know, we know you, you really want him to be out so bad, you're imagining things. And this is not a heavy duty charge against her. But it is, the point is, they don't believe her. They, they're not questioning her honesty.

They're questioning her rationale. So, who knew prayer requests were something God would grant? We just gathered to pray.

We didn't think he was actually going to do something. Is this not a wake-up call for all of us about prayer? That's why when we approach prayer, it's the character of God that's primary.

He may not, or he may do something that I, he may not help and in the dire straits, but there's nothing to do with his character and he'll make it right when I see him in heaven. That's what we learn from the Bible, that there's more to everything than what we see in this life when it comes to God. Well, again, maybe they prayed for James and they're just astonished. There are many things that God will do without us.

There are many things that God will not do without us. And even though they did not believe the girl that their prayer was answered does not mean they were not praying in faith. God granting their prayer. Job, God said, your, your friends that accused you, you need to pray for them. Well, they actually told the friends, Job's going to pray for you, and if he doesn't, you're in big trouble. So God was not going to forgive these men without Job interceding on their behalf.

What lessons were in that? Elijah prayed for rain. You know, he sent a servant seven times and finally there was a small cloud on the horizon coming. Elijah prayed for the three kings in the wilderness. He was so, he was so upset with those guys.

Look, I just need some music right now. And he summoned a musician and then he began to minister as a prophet and tell them what they needed to do to get out of this situation that they got themselves into. The Ninevites, the unbelieving Ninevites whom Jonah was dispatched to.

This is what their king said. Who can tell if God will turn and relent and turn away from his fierce anger so that we may not perish? He's saying it's worth persisting, pressing through with God. We've listened to the prophet Jonah. We have a chance to do something.

Let's not give up. This is the faithful prayer of unbelief from the faithful, and they're not rebuked for it. This story is here for all of us to say you can up your prayer a little bit more.

Pay attention to the lessons. So they said it is his angel. Well, why would the angel knock?

I mean, really, who's the crazy one here? Humorously, they're accusing her of being nuts and here they have this odd theology. Well, unbelief leads to believing unbelievable explanations. You know, you've seen people try to explain miracles. The miracles of the Bible explain. Well, they're not miracles then. The only way you can explain a miracle is that God, here's a physical way of explaining spiritual miracles. Aerodynamics is the law of overcoming gravity with control. There's a law of gravity which keeps things down, and then there are laws of aerodynamics which overcome those laws. Well, God has many of those, and he can overcome a sea. He can cause it to roll back and make the ground dry. There are laws that, and if you don't like that, you can just end it all with saying he is God Almighty, he is sovereign, and he can do whatever he wants to do.

He's got everything that it takes. Anyway, this angel, it is his angel. Well, they believed in guardian angels and so do I. Matthew 18, take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. Nowhere in that verse does he suggest that that is only for the little people, you know, real tiny kids and tots.

I believe it is for the adults. Luke chapter 16 verse 22, adults also. Because, you know, there's this thing that God loves children more than, you know, God's saying to the little child, I love you as a little child, but when you get old, I'm not going to love you anymore, because that doesn't make any sense. That's not God.

Isaiah says he will be with you even through your old age. Luke 16 22, so it was that the beggar died, that would be Lazarus by name, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.

What a contrast. One went to heaven, the other was put in the ground. Hebrews again, chapter 1 verse 14, are they not ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation?

Yes, they are. Verse 16, now Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. He's nervous about the manhunt. Peter, it says here, and when Peter opened the door and saw him, they were astonished, but he motioning, verse 17, well let me, before I go to verse 17, they see Peter and say, what are you doing here? You can't get out until the prayer is answered. I told you I'd read this verse about prayer, verse 1 Corinthians 14 15, because the Gentiles in the church at Corinth had brought many wacky ways into the, mingled it with Christianity, and Paul was the one that had to address it.

He says, what is the conclusion then? I pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with understanding. I won't be bellowing out songs in a language I don't know or understand.

And I don't, I can listen to one, but I can't sing with it, nor can I agree with it, unless I know what it means. There's a story about troops in Korean War. They were going on their patrols, and they, they could hear in this little village, this singing in Korean, but it was to the tune of a hymn.

I don't remember the hymn that it was, and they knew instantly they were Christians singing hymns, even though it was in Korean, and, and that is a little different, because you have understanding in that, in that case, but often pray with understanding. Verse 17, but motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison, and he said, go tell these things to James and to the brethren, and he departed and went to another place. So he shushes them. Maybe they're all talking at one time, Peter, you know, or he just said, no, no, be quiet, one or the other, but either way, he needs them to be quiet. This is James. Remember, James, the brother of John, the apostle, was killed by Herod before Peter. This James is the stepbrother of Jesus, who is the one that wrote the letter of James we have after the letter to the Hebrews, and he will show up again. He is the brother of Jude, who wrote the letter we have by that name. He will show up again, and there will be some tension between he and Paul. He, by this time, assumes a leadership role in the church in Jerusalem, to his credit. Initially, he was an unbeliever of Jesus Christ, but after the resurrection, Christ met with him, and he is a full-blown believer, but he is having a hard time, he's going to have a hard time breaking away from his legalism, because once legalism gets hold of you, it feels so good to the flesh, and it is a hard thing.

It's like a terrible weed. Coming back to this, verse 18, then as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. They had anticipated they were going to have him dead by this point, and now what happened? We will read of Peter one more time in the book of Acts in chapter 15, and after that, Paul becomes a central figure amongst men. Verse 19, but when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death, and he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. Well, the four guards on duty, likely as who is the ones that were first scourged to try to get a confession out of them, that they took maybe bribe money or something like that, but ultimately they were killed because if you let the prisoner go, you were to take their sentence, which validates that Herod was going to kill Peter.

Herod will not return from Caesarea. God will execute him there, and I close with this verse because we can all identify with it. This is the father appealing to Christ to heal his child.

Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, in Acts Gospel, chapter 9, verse 24, with tears, Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. So God does not rebuke us. He understands. He does, you know, owe you a little faith. There are those times, but God works with unbelievers, and he works with believers who have a hard time believing, too. When I say God works with unbelievers, he works to save their soul. He invites them. He appeals to them. He comes beside them through the Holy Spirit, and he does treat us with kindness and mercy also. If you think that God is just fed up with you, you're probably listening to Satan, unless you're doing it in a reckless way where you don't care what God thinks.

Now that's a whole other story, but the mercy of God endures forever. 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 / 2023-01-12 06:14:12 / 2023-01-12 06:23:32 / 9

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