Share This Episode
Cross Reference Radio Pastor Rick Gaston Logo

Opportunity and Opposition (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
January 20, 2023 6:00 am

Opportunity and Opposition (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 917 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

January 20, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


To be led by the Lord.

Maybe Mark said, hey, I would like to go with you guys, and they should have said, not this trip. Or we'll pray about it, and the answer is no. Either way, it causes problems, but the Lord rebounds his situation, and ministry goes on.

Seems like a good idea doesn't mean it's God's idea, and the Bible is loaded with these kinds of lessons. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 13, as he begins his message, Opportunity and Opposition. They also had John as their assistant. Now when they had gone through the island of Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus, who was in the pro-council of Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God. But Elim is the sorcerer, for so his name is translated, which stood them, seeking to turn the pro-council away from the faith. Then Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him, and said, O full of deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight waves of the Lord? And now indeed the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.

And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the pro-council believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord. Opportunity and opposition, this is the beginning of Paul's missionary journeys to the Gentiles mainly, though he will always often start in the synagogues and end up preaching to the Gentiles.

There were risks and there were rewards, as it is to this day. We're always learning how to improve our personal Christianity from the lessons given to us of the first Christians and how they served Christ. And that is one of the benefits of just going through the New Testament.

This is our template, here are our instructions, and they will prevail over the gates of hell for those who believe. Verse 4 again, so being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. This is the age that we live in where the Holy Spirit is the substitute presence on earth for the bodily presence of Christ. Our Lord is ascended to heaven, but he said, I'm not going to leave you orphans, I will send the Comforter, and he is the Holy Spirit.

And these men are sent out by him. It was a time back in the 80s and 90s where it was common to say to another Christian, so what is the Lord doing in your life? Is the Spirit moving in your life? They were honest questions, they were not meant to cause trouble or put anyone in discomfort. I don't know that it's a question people ask anymore. I used to enjoy being, you know, what's the Lord doing in your life? Well, I always had something to say, and if someone did not have an answer, then it would cause them to think about it. Why is it that other Christians feel that the Lord is working in their life?

What about me? And there is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Barnabas and Saul, but there's a footnote that goes with this, and we'll come to it in a little bit. Anyway, the Holy Spirit, he is a person of the Trinity. Now the Jehovah's Witnesses will, well, the word Trinity is not in the Bible, but the fact is, and add to that, then how do you account for the word the Godhead?

So you're wrong, and it's a pleasure to tell you you're wrong. Repent or be lost. So anyway, we hear the Holy Spirit speak in the Scripture, particularly in the book of Acts. We see him in action. We observe him being lied to, because he is a person, and that the fact that he can be blasphemed places him equal with the Father and the Son. He is divine. He is God the Holy Spirit. I think a lot of churches, again, are afraid of the Holy Spirit. Others are abusive of the Spirit.

To find that scriptural balance is a very good thing. They went down to Seleucia. This is the closest seaport from Antioch. They left the church in Antioch, Syria. Seleucia was about 15 miles away, a very large port, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. That's 130 miles by sea, about two days journey in those days. Barnabas, he is a Cypriot.

He is from Cyprus, so he's going to have connections there. The copper mines were one of the large industries on this island, as well as shipbuilding, but Cyprus was also a place that was given to worship Venus, this homemade goddess. They were very devoted to her. It was the deification of sexual lust.

So when you hear of Venus, Aphrodite, these are human beings who have created these gods and goddesses to satisfy their own passions. There's nothing true about them, except they're right out of hell. Verse 5, when they arrived at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogue of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

So now at Salamis, a port city on the island of Cyprus, this is the first of four cities that are going to be mentioned here. They traveled about 180 miles through this land. You know, on cart and horse and walking. Well, the tram was there too.

No, it wasn't. Anyway, this is hard work, but they feel it's worth it. There are opportunities here to preach Christ, and it says that. They preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. Well, this is what the Spirit called them to do. Separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have them to do.

And here they are doing it. Now, Paul and Barnabas, they're Jews, and routinely launched their ministry by preaching in the synagogues. They were welcome to preach in the synagogues.

When they showed up, the synagogue rulers could tell that these men were rabbis. Paul certainly was. We'll come across this in verse 14 and chapter 14 and chapter 17.

We'll come across it a few times. They also had John as their assistant. Now, the Greek word there translated assistant.

And remember, the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language, the Old Testament in the Hebrew primarily. It is under oarsmen, and you picture a Roman galley with those old Roman large ships, and you'd have the men rowing on it. If any of you are familiar with the movie Ben-Hur, you get to see that reenacted. Well, these were galley slaves, usually. And the idea is that he's a subordinate, and he's not in sight.

The under oarsmen, you know, they propelled the ship, but they were not in charge. And Mark, he would be the gopher. He'd go for the groceries. He'd go for whatever it is they needed. He was there to assist them. He's not going to make it. He's going to fail on this outing.

He's not ready for service. And it is a fact that when the Holy Spirit said, separate to me, and this is what I said I wanted to get back to about Mark, separate to me Barnabas and Saul. There's no mention of Mark.

How did Mark get separated into this group? Well, Barnabas is his cousin, and I think the educated conclusion is that cousin Barnabas said, this would be a wonderful opportunity for you in ministry. You serve as an intern. You'd be discipled on the way. This is going to be a fantastic experience for you.

You should join us. And he does. He says, I'll take care of you. Well, the best of both worlds for him were there because Barnabas had family on Cyprus, and that was Mark's family to some degree also.

I don't know what degree is not said, but there's a connection. And he's going to say, we get to see family, and you know, you never met these, whatever it is. That's the human side of it. Again, without direction from the Lord. The best of both worlds, family and ministry.

Well, you better be careful how you balance these. Family can be the biggest hindrance to ministry because they make demands on you of your time, if nothing else. And ministry can be the biggest hindrance to family. And so you just can't treat these things lightly.

You have to find that balance. It's unfortunate that many never serve. They never serve in the body of Christ because of family. Or they, you know, they hide from their family in ministry. Well, anyway, not only will Mark fail, but his blunder will cost the friendship for a long time of Barnabas and Saul. They will split.

But God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love him, called according to his purposes. And so what happens, Satan thinks he has split the ministry, but actually what he does is he creates two ministries. And Barnabas goes to Cyprus and ministers in Paul, of course, to Turkey, and then eventually into Europe. And so we look at this story and we say, here's Barnabas and Saul bringing Mark along when they really should not have. They created a Hagar. Some of you are familiar with Hagar. She is the Old Testament concubine of Abraham, and it caused a lot of problems.

Ishmael and Isaac, Sarah, the New Testament, Paul will bring it up when we get to the letter to the Galatians. And in life, we can think we're helping God. We can think we're doing the right thing.

What could be wrong with this? And we create a disaster. It might be carnally sensible, but spiritually void. And this was happening. Barnabas and Saul, they meant well, but the instructions were very clear. Separate to me Barnabas and Saul.

And that is as far as they should have gone in this case. We like on our coffee mugs and t-shirts and refrigerators, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path. And so there's a good lesson for us. As I mentioned at the beginning, we Christians come to the New Testament and we look, how are we supposed to be Christians? How shall we thus live as Christians? And here's a lesson, to be led by the Lord. Maybe Mark said, hey, I'd like to go with you guys. And they should have said, not this trip, or we'll pray about it.

And the answer is no. Either way, it causes problems, but the Lord rebounds the situation and ministry goes on. So I hope this is something that registers with us, that just because something seems like a good idea, doesn't mean it's God's idea. And the Bible's loaded with these kinds of lessons. In verse 6, now when they had gone through the isle of Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew named Bar-Jesus.

Paphos at that time was the capital city of Cyprus. And about 80 miles from where they started, they trekked through the land. I think I said 180 miles earlier. That's your fault for hearing me wrong. Anyway, they trekked through the island, and they found this sorcerer. Not that they were looking, hey, we found him. That's not the sense. But it's more like, look what we've got here.

Somebody is in the way. We have this opportunity, but this is opposition. Now the Greek word for sorcerer, translated sorcerer, is magi. You know, the three magi. Well, not the three. We don't know that there were three. People say there were three that came to see the child Jesus because of the three gifts.

The gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. But there was an entourage, like very more than three. Anyway, it has a broad meaning in the New Testament. Well, today, a doctor has a broad meaning. Could it be a medical doctor?

And if so, which discipline? Or maybe it's a PhD-type doctor of philosophy. And so a broad meaning to a magi is sort of, you know, it was a person involved in the occult or a scientific person. When the magi came to see Christ, they were astronomers. Not astrologists, but astronomers in the study of stars. Illimus, he wanted to impress, of course, the pro-counsel, Sergius Paulus here, the governor, with his occult knowledge.

There's going to be a meal ticket for him. This is not uncommon in the ancient world. Somebody supposedly in touch with the supernatural. This is a little different than Simon Magnus.

Ultimately, they end up in the same place as unbelievers in that state that they were in. But this one is a little bit more in touch with Satan than Simon Magnus was. And, you know, to have an oracle, to be able to predict the future or lend some wise word based on some spiritual contact, that's what characterizes this man's position that he had as a sorcerer. And it is a good definition.

It is a good translation to say, yeah, he's up to sorcery. Doesn't mean it's true. It's all gibberish, right out of hell. Some of it probably comes true, but then that's just, you know, that's not impressive. You can make a lot of predictions. Anything, a lot of times, you get a 50-50 chance of being right. Anyway, Alimus, he had some sway over somebody to be in the position that he was in, but Sergius Paulus is not impressed with him.

In fact, very dissatisfied with him. That comes out in the story. These practices that he is engaged in the occult, trying to tap into the spiritual world, they are demonically influenced and Luke is careful to condemn them. Both, whether it is the trickery of Simon Magnus from Acts chapter 8, who wowed the people, he impressed them with his tricks, or if it's the occultic word and false prophecies and false wisdom coming from this Alimus bar Jesus, which means son of Jesus, and we'll come back to that also. And so, of course, this is forbidden in the scripture. It is under the category of demonic sway, and so are horoscopes and Ouija boards. And if you call yourself a Christian, you should have nothing to do with either one of them. You're messing with the spiritual world of the demons, and Christians are forbidden from consulting and honoring these. Oh, shut up if you're a Christian.

What are you talking about? You're a Christian. Don't buy into that stuff. Not only is it false, it is forbidden. And to claim that you've got some special knowledge, some organized knowledge by some hidden force in the universe, and you can tell how a person behaves by the month or time or season they were born in, even if it were true, it's forbidden. Deuteronomy 13 covers that, but so does Deuteronomy 18. There we read, There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritus, or one who calls up the dead. I think that covers it.

It's pretty thorough. Don't go messing with the spiritual realm. You will bring into your life demonic forces that you can't get out. And those who think that this is cute are dummies. This is what it says right there.

Well, I'll show you later. It is the fool that will tamper with these things in the face of God. Listen, when God submits you, tap out.

Don't let him break your neck. And that's what happens. God submits them with truth, and instead of submitting to him and converting many times, they just harden up even more. And then they are judged, and their neck is broken.

That's the end of life, but not existence. These sins mentioned here in Deuteronomy, they carry the death sentence in the Old Testament economy, that system of government. God's people were not to have anything to do with this. Some of them, the Jews, tried to mix it and hide it, to mask it.

Zephaniah calls them out on this. He says, those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops, that's the stars and the astrology, all that. Created beings worshiping created things. Those who worship and swear oaths by Yahweh, but who also swear by Milcom. So they wanted this eclectic faith. A little bit of this, we just take the best from the best. No, you don't.

You take the worst and you mix it in with the best, and then you end up with something even worse than the worst. And again, astrology, horoscopes, Ouija boards, they are denounced in scripture, not astronomy, the study of stars. There's a big difference between finding out what stars are doing up there versus asking them questions.

You go up to a tree and say, tell me, am I going to get the job? Anyway. And there are Christians that do this, but I like to believe that once they hear that this is forbidden, they correct it in their own lives. Paul talks about such mingling with spiritual things in 1 Corinthians chapter 10. And remember, that church needed to be corrected about everything. There were some solid believers there and how they lived with these other ones is beyond me. Yet, I would rather attend Corinth than Laodicea. If you know who these churches are, then you of course will agree with me because you know I'm always right. But anyway, back to this, and if you're new here, I'm not serious about being always right.

I'm very serious about it. All right, chapter 10, 1 Corinthians, verse 20, rather the things which the Gentiles sacrificed. That's what they honor in the spiritual sense. They sacrificed to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons. Yes, in your face with the truth.

Not, oh well, everything's okay, it'll work out if the heart is sincere. I know they love the Lord. Well, if they love the Lord, they'll cease and desist from conducting themselves alongside of those practices.

If you are offended by this, that's the devil talking to you and just telling you don't tap out. A false prophet he is called. Well, what he spoke wasn't true. Of course, there are elements of truth in it, but it's mingled with the lies, and therefore it is false. And, you know, to tell somebody here's a parachute will protect you from the impact if you jump out of a plane with a parachute, and they hand you a backpack full of rocks. You see, there's a little truth in it, the truth that a parachute will protect you.

The part they didn't tell you was that you don't have one. And so the spirit of a lie, it also says that, oh, I should point out, truth to the Christian is not a figure of speech. I mean, it's not, you know, to Pontius Pilate it was, what is truth? We didn't even wait for the answer. And we need to remember, obedience is not a figure of speech for the Christian.

These things are very special to us, and we pursue them in spite of our shortcomings. Well, a Jew whose name was Bar Jesus, who is living in violation of his faith, as I just read from Deuteronomy, his own, his culture, his ethnicity as a Jew, forbade such practices. Anyway, had he remained in Judea or Israel practicing this, they would have stoned him to death.

So he got as far away as he could to Cyprus, and he nest amongst the Gentiles. His father's name was Jesus. Now Jesus is the Greek for the Hebrew, Joshua. And, of course, pronounced Yashua because there's no really a J sound in the Hebrew. Well, anyway, he was not Jesus of Nazareth.

There were many Jews named Yashua. That's nothing surprising about that. But in verse 10, Paul will not call him the son of Jesus. He will call him the son of the devil. And that's intentional.

Paul wasn't having any of it. Let's call a debate. There's no debate. We'll come to that.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Verse 7, continuing about this Elimus, who was with the pro-counsel, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. Well, the pro-counsel is a Roman appointed governor, is what he really is.

And it was, as I mentioned, not uncommon to have spiritists around them as advisors, counselors, analysts. 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 / 2023-01-20 06:09:26 / 2023-01-20 06:18:35 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime