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A Persecutor’s Failure (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
January 13, 2023 6:00 am

A Persecutor’s Failure (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 13, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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So he says, do you despise the riches of his goodness, Romans 2.4.

Forbearance, putting up with all this junk, long suffering, painful to the heart of God. Then he says, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance. It is God's goodness that gets us there. So God is good, regardless of what happens, he is good. He demonstrates that goodness by making a way for sinners such as me and you to enter in.

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 begins a brand new message called a persecutor's failure. The book of Acts chapter 12.

We are finishing the 12th chapter. If you have your Bibles, please turn to Acts chapter 12 verses 20 through 25, beginning at verse 20 through 25. Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, but they came to him with one accord. And having made blast us the king's personal aid, their friend, they asked for peace because their country was supplied with food by the king's country.

So on a set day, Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting the voice of a god and not of a man. And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give glory to God and he was eaten by worms and died. But the Word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry.

They also took with them John whose surname was Mark. Well, let's just go right to the part about the worms eating him. A persecutor's failure.

That's what we are considering. And the story about Herod's fate interrupts the story of the Christians moving forward in the midst of this persecution that he had launched. And we're learning how the persecution subsided because remember he had James killed, tried to kill Peter, and then he goes up to take care of political business to the north and these events take place. So when we finished with Peter escaping jail, we might say, well, whatever happened to Agrippa, the one who was persecuting the leadership of the church, at least targeting the apostles at first.

Again, verse 2 of chapter 12, then he killed James, the brother of John, with a sword, meaning he beheaded him. And then he sought to do the same to Peter. And so his fate is recorded.

He met with an appropriate destiny, a befitting of a persecutor. But I want to take a moment to just pause and talk about the goodness of God and the severity of God. Nahum the prophet wrote, Yahweh is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked. Now we understand the Bible has terms that belong to this. He is a God of vengeance.

That's just a fact. In fact, he tells us vengeance is mine. He will not acquit the wicked. You won't just get a pass because it's you, because you're impressed with yourself, or maybe others were impressed with you.

That won't do. The main fact of his nature in regard to this, however, is that he is slow of anger. He is slow of anger, great in power, but he will not let the wicked get away with it. And yet we read, Micah the prophet asked this rhetorical question, who is like God?

Who is a God like you? Micah 7 18. Pardoning iniquity.

This all fits together. Of course, in the New Testament, Peter, when the Holy Spirit has come upon the believers, he ends up preaching, repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Psalm 107 verse 1, O give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. There was a time when I had a problem with this goodness of God as a believer. Spiritually, willfully, I accept it, but mentally I'm struggling with it. When you see so much evil, get away with evil, where is the goodness of God?

Well, the problem is not in the teaching of the scripture from God to man. It's in understanding and listening to what is being said. Give thanks for He is good. Why? For His mercy endures forever. Good in His nature because He is slow to anger.

Why? So that He can forgive. God is good in that He lets sinners live. He is good that He makes a way for us to get to heaven. It has a spiritual meaning.

The carnal meaning is, well, God, I measure His goodness by what He gives to me and what He withholds from me. But I'm not factoring eternity into that necessarily. I'm factoring life right now.

Good health, finances, safety, whatever it may be. Those things are important for sure, but that's not the main point of God's goodness is that He lets sinners into heaven. And when you get to heaven, oh, won't you know it. His judgments, they are real, as I mentioned. As the scripture says, He will not acquit the wicked unless, of course, there is a Savior on their behalf that can take their guilt from them and upon Himself, which Christ has done.

His goodness, there's a limit to it. You have one lifetime, one lifetime, not one chance, but an entire life to get right with God. Well, do it your way and go to your place. It is an ultimatum. By being God, that is His sovereign prerogative to give ultimatums.

Jesus said, unless you likewise repent, you will perish. And He does not lie. So in Romans, when Paul writes to the Romans, he says this, or do you despise the riches of His goodness?

You see, it's connected. That goodness is connected not to what kind of career I have or how successful family man I am or whatever it may be. That goodness is connected to God making a place for me at His table in heaven forever. And so he says, or do you despise the riches of His goodness? Romans 2, 4.

Forbearance, putting up with all this junk, long suffering, painful to the heart of God. Then he says, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance. It is God's goodness that gets us there. So God is good. Regardless of what happens, He is good. Whether He lets me into heaven or not, He is good. He demonstrates that goodness by making a way for sinners such as me and you to enter in. Herod never entered in.

He persecuted the church to his death. And now we'll pick up the story here and let it develop, hopefully, these very thoughts. Verse 20, Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, but they came to him with one accord, and having made blastest the king's personal aid their friend, they asked for peace because their country was supplied with food by the king's country. Well, Herod controlled the food. And so they got in this rift with each other, but they had to reconcile.

It would be in their favor. This receiving food from Jerusalem, which Herod, the area where he was ruling, goes back likely to the days of Solomon, 1 Kings 5. Solomon gave Hyrum 20,000 cores of wheat as food for his household and 20 cores of pressed oil. Thus, Solomon gave to Hyrum year by year. Well, Hyrum was, of course, from that neck of the woods. And so that's likely where it goes back to. Either way, Herod has the power and blastest, which is an interesting name in our language.

It's kind of offensive, is it not? But anyhow, he becomes the mediator between the people and Herod. So they buddied up to blast us, and he has Herod's ear, and he is a mediator. He creates this opportunity for them to make peace.

But no one, or at least no mention, about this Herod killing James. God and his people, they were mindful of it, but these folks weren't. Because this is an indication, is it not, that to some people, humanitarian efforts are more important than the spiritual efforts.

They should go together. But the primary, because what does it benefit if you gain the world and lose your soul? What matters is that if you go to hell full, it is a perspective that God does not want people to lose sight of. So he teaches it in his word to us that we can teach it and share it with others. Verse 21. So on a set day, Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. So this is the word of Herod. He gets to give a speech. Now the Jewish historian Josephus, who was alive during this time, he tells us that Herod was 54 years old when he did this.

Now it really doesn't matter too much, maybe a little bit. He had 54 years to get right with God. Josephus writes, he put on a garment made entirely of silver and a contexture truly wonderful and came into the theater early in the morning, at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after the surprising manner and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those who took, who looked intently upon him. A little flowery, but he's making his point. So here he is in this garment that is made like Norwex.

It's got silver in it. But it's silver and it's shiny and the sun is on it and he's glowing and the people are fawning all over him because they want the food. Josephus also writes, tells us that many of these people rejoiced when Herod died. So this was not genuine.

The spotlight is really not on the people. It's on what happened to this persecutor of the apostles. Verse 22, and the people kept shouting the voice of a god and not of a man. Logic would ask, have you heard the voice of God speak? How would you know what God sounded like unless you heard him speak?

Or is it something you just made up? Well, Luke indicates that, he tells us this because where he's going is that there's a poetic justice coming to Herod and while Luke was not around, Luke is the author, the human author. Of course, the Holy Spirit is the divine author, but Luke is the one that put this together and he wasn't present. He likely wasn't even a Christian at this point. He might have been, but he wasn't there.

But he gets this from those who were there and he gets their perspective on it, which is right. In addition to Herod attacking the church, now he is pretending to be worthy of divinity, being recognized as God. And God is going to take issue with this in front of the Christians and leave it to the Christians to spread this message. These people were spiritually out of their minds. An angel could have come down and said to them, are you crazy?

He's no god. Why would you even say such a thing? Well, because we want that food and that would be their real motive. The world is fascinated with itself. The world is impressed with itself and it does some impressive things as humans go. But not unless God opens up the knowledge. Man would never have harnessed electricity, for example, to use it as we use today, had God not opened this knowledge up.

Most of humanity had gone without electricity. With the exception of a lightning bolt or a platypus, there really wasn't a lot going on that man could do with it. And so, because man is impressed with himself, he's rather content boxing out God. He's content without truth. And of course, Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. The world doesn't know that, incidentally. And if they've heard of it, they don't necessarily believe it. And then it's up for us to machete our way through all of the jungle that is blocking the light of the truth from getting in.

That's going to take a lot. Some who reject the creator delight in the creation. And this is a great sin.

It's identity death. The identity of God is reassigned to something else, to anyone else. Visible creation bears witness to an invisible creator.

An invisible creator. The writer of Hebrews adds, of whom the world was not worthy. He's speaking of the Christians because of the Christian's God. The world is not worthy of the message we have because God is above it.

But, it is available nonetheless. None of us deserve salvation. But by the world, in this context, we mean the people opposed to Jesus Christ. We're not talking yet in other places, the context speaks of just all sinners. God so loved the world, not the planet, but the world of people. Individuals that he gave his only begotten son. The context where the world is not worthy is that element of society, that culture that is contrary to the kingdom of heaven. To the kingdom of God. We come to Christ, we're then saved out of this world's system, this world's way of thinking. John 17, 14, I have given them your word. And the world has hated them because they are not of this world.

Just as I am not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven, we bear a dual citizenship. Some of you may have three or four, I don't know how many, what's the limit you can have?

I would think two, but maybe someone's figured out another way. Anyway, coming back to this, the world not worthy of Jesus Christ for two main reasons. One, they refuse to repent, to admit who they are in his presence, not each other's presence. In the presence of God, I am one that has broken his law, that makes me a sinner. And we all are born in sin. And when a little baby comes into this world, it's not will they sin, it's when will they sin. The other that makes the world unworthy of Christ is their rejection of his lordship.

They refuse to repent and demonstrate their need, they refuse to come under his authority. No man has any right to make up things about God. No man has any right to make up things about you.

That could be slanderous, it would be slanderous. But imagine making up things, just making up stuff about God, and this is routine throughout history. People making up things about God. Well, God helps those who help themselves, where did you get that from?

You just come up with that on your own, or did you get that from someone else who came up with it on their own? Or can you show me in scripture, can you show me where it comes from God? Well, I believe in God.

Which one? The Old Testament tells us how many gods there were, Paul said when he got to Athens there were so many gods. They even had a sign up, in case we missed you, to the unknown God. And he said, well let me tell you about this God, because you don't know him. And they were too intellectual, they called him a seed picker, you know, he just picks up knowledge from other people and just repeats it, but he really doesn't understand. And there was not a great work he could do in Athens, they were too analytical for him.

Their own eyes. Well, men prefer speculation about God and ditch revelation. Let's make it up as better than having him tell me who he is, because he might tell me to do something I don't like. Well, yeah, that's God. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Which neighbor? Do I get a choice in this? Peter tried to wheel it, who is my neighbor? Anybody close enough to have any influence, interaction with you, that's who your neighbor is.

Isaiah 45, verse 22, God says to the prophet, look to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, I am God and there is no other. What about the one I make up, in my own image? You know, why reject the friendship with God? Well, he might not let me go to the pub anymore. I might not be able to gamble or just do the mean things that I do.

And I like to do those things so much. Listen, it would be worth it, it's the meaning of the word worship, it's worth it. The world's definition of God, of deity is substandard, and it's carelessly tossed around.

So when they said, here's Herod, oh, this is the voice of a god, not a man, they just carelessly throw this out. No, this brainless is what it is. And they can be otherwise very intelligent, I say this often, they can be very intelligent in other areas.

You can have a surgeon that is just amazing when it comes to surgery. But he can't fix a faucet, a leaky faucet may. But when it comes to God, he's a blithering idiot.

Because his heart is hard, not because he's born with a defect that cannot be overcome, but it will not be overcome. And again, we're the ones that are entrusted with, this is our message. Christ died for sinners, rose again, sits on the throne, it is going to return. And there is no other God, and the world is so insulted by that. But yet they don't practice that with their credit card.

They don't have this, you know, anybody can use your credit card? Because, I mean, anybody can go to heaven, can anybody use your, this doesn't work. God was not going to allow the one who just murdered James to get away with being chanted into divinity by a desperate, disingenuous, dim-witted crowd.

That's the fact, not trying to insult them. Spiritually, they were dim-witted, reduced to a mob. Throughout history, some have strutted around under the delusion of being divine, sinless, the epitome of arrogance. Second Thessalonians chapter 3, listen to this, I'm going to just grab one thing out of it, but I'm going to read the two verses. Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, for not all have faith. This would be in the church and out. Deliver me, Lord, from unreasonable people and from wicked people.

And there are those that have no reason when it comes to spiritual things. So while they're flattering Herod, he relishes the praise, he's loving the attention. He feels that he is the great, the savvy politician that has these now loyal subjects because of his method of handling them. But it is sealing his fate, the monster that he was. Ezekiel the prophet addressed the king of Tyre over 500 years before this, but Ezekiel in this address is going beyond the king of Tyre to the influence, which is Satan. Isaiah does a similar thing in Isaiah 14, letting us know that there's a real devil and he messes with people's heads.

And they let him, and they deny he exists, or they even acknowledge that he exists, but they still let him have his way. Ezekiel, speaking to this king, thus says the Lord Yahweh, because your heart is lifted up and you say, I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods in the midst of the seas. Yet you are a man and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of a god. Will you still say before him who slays you, I'm a god? But you are a man and not a god and in the hand of him who slays you.

It's just a dose of reality. How do you define God? Do you really think that, do you know, the Greeks got it right with their, you know, assigning human sinful attributes on steroids to these gods?

Of course they did not. Nobody tells man who he is like the Bible. Nobody gets up in the sinner's face and says, you need to fix this, and if you don't fix it, you will not be acquitted. You will have to deal with it for all eternity.

Are you prepared for that? And they scoff and they mock, spare us from those who are unreasonable. The Bible's boast goes deeper than these profound statements.

It backs it up. What makes the prophet Ezekiel and Isaiah, whom I've quoted so far this morning, what makes their voice worth listening to? The prophecies that they laid out.

When they said something would happen, when they made a prediction and it happened, nobody else is doing this. 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 crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. 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 crossreferenceradio.com 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 / 2023-01-13 06:25:56 / 2023-01-13 06:35:08 / 9

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