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Two Neglected Distinctives (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
January 17, 2023 6:00 am

Two Neglected Distinctives (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 17, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


Paul was teaching the Jews to no longer be Jewish in their religion. The ethnicity stands, of course. Paul taught the Jews, and not only did he teach them Christianity, he taught them the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, which a lot of people have a hard time figuring out.

I think, and I don't mean that in a harsh way, but it's still ignorance in this sense. They allow the Old Testament to overrule the New Testament. If you have your Bibles, please turn to the book of Acts, chapter 13, beginning in verse 1. In the church that was at Antioch, there were certain prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon, who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.

Then, having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away. Two neglective distinctives. When I say neglective distinctive, distinctives of Christians, things that are there to set us apart from those who are not Christians. And unfortunately, being led by the Spirit, I think, is something that a lot of us may be guilty of neglecting. Another distinctive is waiting for God. To wait for God is to do without. You're waiting for Him to supply what you feel you lack. And so to be led by the Holy Spirit is a distinctive of Christianity.

Paul said to the Romans that as many as are the children of God, these are led by the Spirit of God. Well, if you're going to be led by the Spirit, you're going to have to learn to wait. And if you're going to learn to wait, you're going to have to learn to do without, which is very difficult to the flesh. There are things, a dissider atom, you know, I just must have it.

There was this grenade launcher I wanted, and I just had to have it. I don't know why you're laughing. Another thing about being led and doing without and waiting for the Holy Spirit is that you're going to irritate others who don't want you to wait, who do not want to do without, and who have made up their mind that leading has already happened and you need to act. So be on guard about those things. If you're the one being led or if someone else is being led, you know, give them space to follow the Lord. So we look now at verse 1 of Acts 13.

This is a very exciting three passages, I think. Now, in the church that was at Antioch, there were certain prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon, who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod, the tetrarch, and Saul. Now, this is Antioch, Syria to the north, 300 miles north of Jerusalem. There's another Antioch that factors into the Bible story, Antioch, Pisidia, which is to the west and north of this Antioch in modern, both of them in modern-day Turkey.

So we don't want to confuse the two. At this Antioch, Syria, that's where we were first called Christians. This church was being established by some solid believers. It was a healthy church and soon, soon it will be totally independent of Jerusalem. Right now Jerusalem is still, you know, the headquarters, you could say, but as Paul establishes himself as an apostle, Antioch will be on her own. And we know this because James will send up men from Jerusalem.

Paul said they came up here to spy out our liberty and Paul put them all in their place. So we'll get that when we get to the letter to the Galatians. But Gentiles were coming into this church without having to become Jewish first. They were to just believe in the Christ as their savior and it was happening there. It says here in verse 1, there were certain prophets and teachers. Now remember, there was no New Testament Bible yet.

It was developing. And the early church, you know, they had doctrine, they had a systematic theology, but it was really not organized as we have it and available as we have it today. The teachings of Christ were largely oral and of course I would believe without any hesitation that there were perhaps unorganized notes here and there.

People just write things down. They want to remember and even in those days they could do that and did do that until, you know, the letters started coming out, Matthew's gospel, Mark's gospel. Then it began. In fact, the gospels were put together to put an end to the misinformation that was coming out to address those things and tell the Christians by those who were there what was going on. This apostle Paul, who he is of course one of the great teachers of the New Testament, the apostles, they were all teachers. They were all prophets. They were all leaders in the church. And they were the primary overseers of the beginning of Christianity. If an apostle objected, that objection stood.

And we have no record of them being at odds with each other. What we read in Acts chapter 20 is the apostle Paul speaking to the pastors from the church at Ephesus. He says, Therefore take heed to yourselves and to the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with his own blood. You know how much theology is just in that verse? Just the purchase of the church with his own blood.

This is the assembly. It's the local church and, yes, the universal church. But the local church, that is it. That is a powerful entity on earth and Satan hates its guts.

So make no mistake. There are those out there in Christendom that say, well, you know, you don't really need the church. They're nuts. Christ purchased the assembly of believers in his name to commune together in his name to his glory. He purchased it with his own blood.

He bought us from the slave block. We were ransomed by his blood as we were just singing. He continues, Paul does, For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, also from among yourselves. Men will rise up speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves. And there's the apostle teaching and encouraging and prophesying in the foretelling sense because to prophesy is not just to predict. A large part of New Testament prophecy is forthtelling, not foretelling. Speaking forth the word of God, its truths and its applications.

We're supposed to be doing this. When someone tells you something about the Bible that's not true in the workplace or the school, the neighborhood, wherever you find yourself, we stand up and say, that's not true. It's not biblical.

And here's why. That is the office of a prophetic office, also a prophetic office. When you consider the letter to the Hebrews, Paul was teaching the Jews to no longer be Jewish in their religion.

The ethnicity stands, of course. Paul taught the Jews. And not only did he teach them Christianity, he taught them the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, which a lot of people have a hard time figuring out. Unfortunately, there are Christians who ignorantly, I think, and I don't mean that in a harsh way, but it's still ignorance in this sense, they allow the Old Testament to overrule the New Testament. They won't come out and say that, but they do it with their life. They treat others that way.

And it is a huge mistake. We are ministers of the New Covenant. We are told in the New Covenant. All the prophets were teachers, but not all the teachers were prophets at this time in the church.

These distinctions, they would merge into something else good. Again, why? Well, they had no New Testament Bible. That's why God himself gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor, teachers. Well, we don't have apostles of Jesus Christ anymore. We have apostles of the church, but not of Christ. Only 13 men in the Bible have the distinction of being handpicked by Jesus personally to the apostolic office. One forfeited that office, Judas Iscariot. When John gives us the revelation of Jesus Christ, he says, I saw the foundation of New Jerusalem, and the names of the 12 apostles were on there. He doesn't name them, because he would have to leave Matthias out, I would think.

But it's a big deal, is my point. And the apostles were all prophets, but then under them there was another layer of leadership in the church. And these prophets, such as Agabus, who did foretell, told the future. But that was, again, such a small part.

How much of the future can a person tell? There's so much more to do. It needs to be said.

Instructions given, authority exercised. And hopefully we'll open this up a little bit more. But these prophets were essentially trustworthy preachers and teachers and leaders in the church, and I, well, they were foremost men of Scripture.

I'm sorry, the stumbling there was, where do I go next? There's just so much, you know, because we have these understandings of things that aren't always accurate. When we, in the Old Testament, they said, is not Saul amongst the prophets? Well, that didn't mean he was out there telling the future. It meant he was singing psalms and worshiping the Lord with those who were from the school of the prophets. These were men of ministry.

And so we have to pay attention to these teachings because it is this collective knowledge that helps us understand what was going on and what to do with what was going on then, now in our own lives. Some of those classified as prophets were itinerants. In other words, they would travel from church to church, and they would encourage the church, and they would teach. This led to the Gnostic heretics infiltrating the church. Because they joined this, you know, going on the circuit and having something to say, and they were poisoning the congregations with the conversations.

And this is why we have John's first letter, for example. He's dealing with these heretics. We have Paul dealing with them in his Colossian letter and other places in the New Testament it is addressed. The teachers, to make a distinction a little bit here at this point in the history of the church, the prophets often moved around.

The teachers were stationary in the church. Again, all of this will develop into the office of the pastors. I read that verse to you from Acts. I'll take another one later from Peter, but I'm going to lead up to one in a moment from Christ himself.

The prophets were teachers, and the teachers, of course, were teachers. This comes from Christ directly, that the leaders of the church are to teach the word of God and tend the sheep by ministry of the word. John's Gospel chapter 21, this is Jesus speaking directly to Peter. Peter had, you know, had denied the Lord and the Lord rebuilt him because Peter confessed, you know, went out and wept bitterly. He said to him, Jesus said to Peter, feed my lambs.

Well, it is, of course, metaphor. You're not really lambs. You're people, and to feed the people, it is the word of God, and that is not all. Discipleship, the lifestyle. You know, Paul said, imitate me as I imitate Christ. This is discipleship, and to presume, it is presumptuous to presume that somehow you just automatically understand Christianity when you give your life to Christ is rather arrogant.

And as is practiced, we'll come to some of that when we get to dealing with Dathan in the Old Testament who challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron. He continues in John's Gospel, he said to him, it's the second time, tend my sheep. What makes a pastor a pastor is he's around the sheep. Two things I've learned about the sheep, which I am also one. One, you have some sheep that are a pain in the neck, and you have other sheep that are a blessing in the heart.

And that's just the facts, and you cannot give, you know, different attention to them. They're still the sheep. In fact, in pastoring, well, let me finish the quote from John, then I'll give you a proverb about this very element of public ministry. As I mentioned, Jesus said, feed my lambs, tend my sheep. Jesus said to him, feed my sheep. And so you have lambs, you have sheep, you have them in different stages and different levels, and the pastors are to minister to them all. Well, these men that we're talking about here in Antioch, they were pastors of the church in Antioch, these five men, and they were about to send two of them out because of their burden for the lost souls in the world, primarily the Gentiles, but not only the Gentiles.

In Proverbs, we read, Proverbs 14, where no oxen are, the trough is clean, but much uncrease comes by the strength of an ox. That Proverbs means, that Proverb means that if you are in ministry from time to time, you're going to step in it. And without the people, there's nothing to step in. But with those people, in spite of the things that you have to deal with, there is much increase, there is fruit, there is damage done to hell's agenda, and the church is at the center of that. What's the church doing in Afghanistan?

Trying to survive if they're at all. And we understand the importance of the church because we just look at places where she does not exist or a counterfeit church exists. In the days of the kings, we read constantly, but the high places, they couldn't take away the high places. What were they?

They were hybrids. There were these centers of worship that were forbidden, and at those high places, they mingled in the teachings of Moses with something else that Moses forbade. The fact that they showed up there to worship and not in Jerusalem, the indication of that. You say, well, where does that exist today? The Roman Catholic Church is notorious for this.

They just take the name of Christ, they mix all other stuff up in it, too. And somehow we're supposed to be quiet about that? Well, you be quiet about that. I'm not going to be quiet.

You know, no one's got a gun to your head, and I don't have a gun to their head. So there. I'm just being childish to break the tension a little bit.

I hope I'm not childish all the time. But anyway, these are just the way I see it as a Christian. God gives teachers because no one automatically knows. And discipleship is a part of teaching because you have to see it in action to develop your theology.

You can learn something on paper, but really not learn how it functions. I learned loving the sheep from watching my pastor in New York, Mike Vinizio, just had such a heart for the people. And they talk about pains in the neck in a big city like that. You're going to have a lot of them. And just learning from observing. Watch out for those who like to learn but do not like to be taught. That may be pride.

There may be exceptions also. You may say, well, there's nobody around to teach. The essence of prophecy. The essence. When we talk about there were prophets and teachers in this church, the essence of prophecy is information from God. When you quote scripture, that information comes from God. But does the life match the preaching? Because the devil can preach scripture. We know that. Of course, Jesus being in the wilderness tempted by Satan tells the church, looky, looky, you can suffer this too.

And be ready for it. In the New Testament, as I mentioned, prophecy not so much foretelling but speaking forth the truth of Christ through preaching, through scripture, through song, through encouragement. The prophets giving application to the life in the church. The teachers, if you want to distinguish the two, the teachers would give further meaning because as the Gentiles were coming into the church, they didn't know the Old Testament. They didn't know anything about Isaiah or Haggai the prophet.

Who was Nehemiah and Ezra to them? Well, how were they going to learn? You give them, what, five or six scrolls and say go learn this?

Well, the teachers would teach them these things. And the prophets would be overseeing it, part of the teaching staff. And this is how the church began to get her sea legs in the world. And when we get to the epistles, we're going to see it in action. We're going to see Paul having to straighten out bent things repeatedly in the churches. Again, the New Testament is critical to Christianity. Warnings should be more pronounced in Christianity to those who attack pastoral authority. If you attended church and you don't like it, then don't go back. But to try to stay there and create a problem, you are the problem in every case. It's just not a person's place to do such a thing.

We would call it rude in other circles of society. Dathan, as I mentioned, and there are Dathan's today, they have a problem with authority in the church. And they probably have it also. Although, get this.

Sorry, I forgot I was here. There are those that, you know, they don't like pastoral authority, but they demand it in their homes. They demand that, I'm the dad, I'm the father, but they want that authority, but they don't want to give it up. And as we have taught, Christ was a man of authority. My father has said because he was a man under authority. That's one of the great lessons of the life of Jesus as he walked. Well, Aaron's rod that budded, it was a sermon. It was an object sermon. That object, that staff said to all Israel, this is my high priest and you better line up with him.

And that's why we read in number 16, here's Dathan, he didn't like this. He didn't like that Moses and his brother were the leaders. And he comes up in number 16 and says, they gathered together against Moses and Aaron and said to them, you take too much upon yourselves.

For all the congregation is holy, every one of them. And Yahweh is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the ability of Yahweh? I would have liked to whispered in Dathan's ear, you know when Moses has killed a guy before?

You might want to rethink what you're saying. Anyway, there he is. We're all Christians.

What gives you the right? That's what he's saying to Moses. And of course, what happened? A sinkhole sucked them all down and the advocates with them. God got rid of them in front of everybody. That there'd be no mistake. Dathan didn't, you know, go and die of a heart attack or something.

He was swallowed by the ground. Nehemiah, we're talking leadership, because that's what these men were. Distinctives of Christianity. And if you've got a problem with the leadership that God has anointed, you've got a problem. And as for me too, I have to, you know, the church is self-correcting.

It's not a totalitarian rule. The people will stop coming if you start pulling, well actually, the people will come more. You're just, you won't be a church anymore.

You'll be something otherwise. But anyway, not the same people. The righteous will vote with their feet and say, I am out of here.

But those looking for something else, of course, seem to not have a problem. Nehemiah, one of the great leaders in the Bible. Lehemiah was dealing with those Jews that were saying, we are Jews, we worship Yahweh, and we want to be received as Jews.

Yet, we're going to intermarry, which is contrary to the law of the Jews. And Nehemiah dealt with these guys, because he said, you know, you're going to spread through the congregation with this. And this is what he writes, so I contended with them, cursed them, struck some of them, and pulled out their hair.

Now, that didn't happen to me, the hair part. But my point is, you see this, when this kind of stuff shows up in Scripture, it causes the reader to pause and think about this. Why is this in the Scripture?

Why is this acceptable or unacceptable? These are where the lessons are, and we should not be afraid of them, we should embrace them. And if you are one that has a problem with pastoral authority, I suggest you learn how to throw your weight behind the pastors, support them, pray for them. And you will find other doors open up for you, and it is just what Satan doesn't want to hear. And just think, what is the incidences of what I am saying? It is not good. So, this is a collective interpretation from the overall teaching of the Scriptures.

And I did not get to where I am, wherever that may be, by ignoring my teachers, or by defying them. 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 / 2023-01-17 06:06:09 / 2023-01-17 06:15:29 / 9

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