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Tireless Opposition (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 1, 2023 6:00 am

Tireless Opposition (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 1, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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There is not just the sovereign God looking to rule over creation. God is love and it is a robust love. It is a love that tells me you don't have to worry about a lot of things because I took care of them on a place called the skull, Golgotha, Calvary. Yeah, I love you and I do default to that in my thoughts when things get thick.

When I am disappointed with life, when I feel like life has trapped me. We return to the book of Acts and our exposition, verse by verse, to the 14th chapter. And if you would turn in your Bibles to chapter 14, we'll take verses 1 through 7, beginning at verse 1 through verse 7. Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews and so spoke that a great multitude both of Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore, they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided, part sided with the Jews and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews with their rulers to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe cities of Lyconia and to the surrounding region.

And they were preaching the gospel there. Tireless opposition is the title of this consideration. And when, speaking of consideration, when I consider Paul's life, which is summarized in the 11th chapter of his second Corinthian letter, when I consider that Paul never allowed his moods to get the best of him, no matter what was going on, no matter what prayers were not granted, regardless of the physical pain he endured, regardless of the emotional setbacks, the opposition, the tireless opposition, he just kept moving forward.

He was an unstoppable man. I don't know that now at this point for me in ministry that is encouraging as much as it is edifying. There's a little difference between the two. I think the way I'm using it at least, you know, your courage is an emotional element to it. But you're edified. You just built up. You don't have to.

You don't care about the emotions. You do what you have to do. And without that, the opposition, I think, will overrun you.

It will get the better of you. So there's something to be said about persevering and enduring according to the scripture and not according to some carnal energy that one has tapped into. This occupies much of our thoughts as Christians as we go about serving God. Before we go to verse one, just to set it up, God had equipped his servants, called them, appointed them for this. He has equipped all of his servants with truth through the scripture that we have to tell God's side of the story to mankind about life, about creation. And his side of the story meets with incessant resistance from every quarter. I don't know of anywhere where the word of God is preached and everything is always wonderful. There's always opposition. There always will be until he returns.

And thus we've been given the Holy Spirit to somewhat level the playing field. But it's going to be painful no matter what. Maybe you're in school. Maybe you're a teen and you're in school. You're meeting with opposition. But are you yet sensitive to the Spirit enough to know that these are spiritual things?

Or are you too self-absorbed, which is not a criticism because when you're a youth, you still have to learn so much, learning that doesn't stop. Are you sensitive enough to know these things are spiritual? They involve sin. They involve the fallen nature. They involve the world and its culture and its influences. These things involve a very real enemy we know as Satan, who is a slanderer.

He lies and he attacks people. He is an accuser of the brethren. And when we're conscious of these things, it gives more meaning and purpose to what we're supposed to be doing with our lives and that is tell people in the world about God's kingdom and to remind the Christians that we are to be unmarked by the world. James, put it this way, keep oneself unspotted from the world. Ask yourselves, has the world left its marks on you?

I don't mean sin and trouble and life. That will leave marks on all of us. But has the influence of the world left its marks on you? Are you stained and spotted? You know, it is easy to bear on our bodies the marks of the world.

It happens so quickly. Paul boasted that he bore on his body the marks of Christ and that sets the bar. That's the standard.

That's what we want. If I'm going to suffer, and I am going to in life, may it be for the kingdom. May it have the Lord's approval upon it. This is doable in scripture. It requires that we heed God's word. Paul wrote to Timothy, take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. That's the things that Paul was teaching him. And the things that Paul taught was what the other apostles were teaching also.

And it was also what matched what the prophets were speaking in the scriptures. And so he says take heed to yourself and to the doctrine and then he adds, continue in them. Ask yourself as a Christian, am I heeding? Am I listening and looking to act upon what I've been taught?

Do I have a doctrine? Do I understand what I believe? Because I believe it. Not because I read it and that's why I believe it. Maybe you did read it and it helped you to understand. But I believe because of my relationship with the Lord.

I'll quote Tozier who puts it in a different way and I think very wonderfully. But first I have some other scripture verses. It is doable through scripture to be unspotted from the world to the point where the tail is wet, not wagging the dog. And to have confidence in pastoral teaching.

That is a big part of our faith. First Timothy again, Paul says, if you instruct the brethren, oh that would be you, in these things you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. Paul loved Titus.

Paul, that man was so valuable to Paul that Paul couldn't finish ministry because he had to find out how Titus was. And that excites me because that human element coming off the pages I identify with very quickly. The Bible means very much to me because it's very real and it has something to do with my life and my future. But I fear that many of us are too spotted by the world because we lose sight of what the Bible says and we lose confidence in what the Bible says because we take hits. He again writes to Timothy that there will be those in the church that will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables. They want their ears tickled.

They'll still be church goers. They're going to find a church that will tickle their ears. And to do that, to have your ears tickled all you need to do is withhold the whole counsel of God. If you give the whole counsel, the ears won't be tickled.

The heart will be targeted. You will be challenged. This is an interesting thing, Tozer writes in Knowledge of the Holy. He says, we shall not seek to understand in order that we may believe. You see, that's what this guy used to do all the time.

He'd say something and make you just stop right there and think about that. So I have to reread it. We shall not seek to understand in order that we may believe, but to believe in order that we may understand. Hence, we shall not seek for proof that God is wise.

The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof and the worshiping heart needs none. It's quite profound. He's tying the Christian into a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit because of what Jesus has done according to the Scriptures. I prefer that over the word Trinity, which, okay, it's not in the Bible.

The teaching is certainly there. There's another word the Bible uses when it speaks of the Trinity, the Godhead. And to me, it is the beloved Godhead.

I don't want to make it sound like to me, not you. You know, I was reading, coming across that scripture verse a few weeks ago and I thought, you know, the Godhead is the beloved Godhead. This is not just the sovereign God looking to rule over creation. He is, God is love and it is a robust love. It is a love that tells me you don't have to worry about a lot of things because I took care of them on a place called the skull, Golgotha, Calvary.

Yeah, I love you and I do default to that in my thoughts when things get thick, when I am disappointed with life, when I feel like life has trapped me, where I'm forced to be where I don't want to be and then I think about the word of God. And then, not only is there this need for confidence in pastoral teaching to beware of becoming spotted by the world, of understanding that doctrine is doable, but there is also this need to share the faith. And again, if you cannot for whatever reason, you can pray for those who can. Paul said this to Philemon, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgement of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

It's so simple. He says, he doesn't say I need you to go down and get 500 reference books and 200 commentaries and read them all and a few books on how to share your faith. He just simply says that the sharing of your faith, what you believe, share that.

And he connects it. He says it's going to be effective by you understanding that every good thing in you comes from Christ because the God of the universe is with you. The Bible is just so special. Paul and Barnabas, they were unspotted, they heeded God's word, they were nourished, and they shared their faith. And they did not, at least we have no evidence of moods getting the best of them. They brought their perfect message to an imperfect world of people. They were tireless also in spite of the violent opposition that was throughout chapter 14.

It's this opposition to them and it gets very violent. Paul even gets stoned. Anyway, now we go to verse 1. Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews and so spoke that a great multitude both of Jews and of the Greeks believed. So they traveled about 80 miles in a very hilly terrain from Antioch, Pisidia, where they were put out of the city for preaching the gospel successfully, and they come to Iconium. This is in the region. It's in Lyconia. I'm messing with these words.

Iconium is in Lyconia, which is part of Galatia. And that's important because Paul is establishing churches in this region and there are going to be others that come behind him to undo his work. To establish a church means to love the people. It means to establish relationships with them. It means to have a genuine care for them. It means you fret when they fret. It's a real thing going on there.

It's not robotics. These very Christians whom he loves so much and he points out how they once loved him. He said, you would have given your eyes for me to make life better for me. They're going to drift and he's going to write that Galatian letter and it is a different letter from all of his others. It's a discipline upon them. Well, anyway, this is the beginning of the Galatian ministry of Paul. As you move deeper into Galatia, you move further away from Roman law. And that means there was more mob rule. This will explain why he gets stoned in this region and the authorities are really not much, have nothing to do with it. The mob just stones him.

They try to kill him. And so it's good to understand it as they're moving forward with the gospel, they're going into regions where no one has taken the gospel before. It says here in verse one that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews.

Luke is still writing the pronoun indicates he's not yet joined them. They went, it's not we that will come later, but he's in a, they're in a Jewish neighborhood in a predominantly Gentile town and Satan will get to have these two become allies against the gospel. Paul always tried beginning the message in the synagogues as a reason for that.

Now, if you're bored with this, you have to, maybe this will help if you understand why they did the things they did and got the results they got. Maybe you can mimic those or imitate their strategies or at least pay attention that there needs to be logic when you go out and serve the Lord and not just an emotional reaction to your surrounding circumstances. The reason why they go to the synagogues is the Jews already knew the scriptures. The apostles did not have to run through, well this is who Isaiah is and this is what prophecy is and this is what Genesis is.

They didn't have to do all that. The Jews and the Gentiles that were proselytes or Gentiles attending the synagogues, they knew these things. So when Paul quotes Isaiah in pointing out that Christ is Messiah according to the prophets, according to the scriptures, it was so much easier to establish converts and churches that way than to go straight to the Gentiles and start from the beginning because whoa, whoa, who's Isaiah? I mean, where did he come from? Why should we listen to him?

Where are these writings? And so this is very, a wise tactical move to start at the synagogue. So converting the Jew first. He can go right out with converted Jews and Gentiles who were in Judaism.

He could go right out and share that Christianity and Judaism are irreconcilable in doctrine and yet Christianity comes out of Judaism and this is to what we believe to this day. Romans chapter nine, he says, Israelites to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God and the promises. And so he's just saying, they understand the Old Testament. They have a Bible. There was no New Testament Bible yet.

It's evolving. Verse one, and so spoke that a great multitude both of Jews and of the Greeks believed. So now he's getting success. He's got the converts from both, Jews and Gentiles. Again, these Gentiles are Gentiles that were in the Jewish synagogues.

He's not yet expanded out. It will come, verse two, but the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. This is an important distinction between the believing Jews and the non-Jews, the Gentiles that are there. Jeremiah says this about his own people who had the Bible and this should make every Christian understand it's not enough to have the Bible.

You have to have the Bible, but there's more to Christianity than just having the book. Jeremiah says this, the priests did not say, where is Yahweh? And those who handle the law, that would be the scripture, did not know me.

The rulers also transgressed against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that do not profit. Jeremiah was a priest by birth and here he is saying, you know, the priests and the leaders, they don't care about God's word.

They have it. They're doing their own thing, contrary to God's word. So here in verse two, Paul says that these unbelieving Jews, remember, Paul is a Jew, stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Well, the negative, the cowardly, the critical, the faithless people can infect good people.

This is the story of Numbers chapter 13, where two of the spies said, we can take these giants. I'm no grasshopper. You might be. I'm not.

We can beat them. But the other 10 influenced the people to not trust God. And this is something that is, you know, it's not like, whoa, glad those days are done with.

We don't have to worry about that. And not so. Matthew 23, but woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. These were supposed to be the religious Bible teachers of their day. If you challenge one of these scribes, somebody would say to you, who are you, fisherman?

How dare you challenge a scribe teacher so and so? Who are you to say that he's wrong? And then you countered with, well, the scripture says this. And, you know, it would come down to the person would either believe in the Bible or go with the authority.

Anyway, Jesus continues, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, where you neither go in yourselves nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Well, that's what we're seeing here. The unbelieving Jews staring up the Gentiles, poisoning their minds against the brethren. Whose fault? Whose fault?

Who is at fault for letting their mind be poisoned? This is such a repeated practice of Satan because it works so well. It works so well in churches.

He doesn't have to do it at the saloon. He does it in the churches. Matthew 23, verse 15, woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you travel land and sea to win one proselyte.

And when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. It's powerful preaching, is it not? It's coming from the God of the universe, saying you've got this religious practice that I really can't stand. I know of churchgoers who poison the minds against other churchgoers in the same church. Luke 17, it is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they come. And God in Proverbs speaks about the things he hates. He says God hates one who sows discord amongst the brethren. I've read these verses so many times in the past, I used to think they were silver bullets.

I would think you'd read them and they'd take down anybody who was doing this and the person would say, you know what, I'm going to stop doing this. That verse applies to me. But that has not been the case. Verse 3, therefore, they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Here Paul is, they're going to leave, of course. So they're staying there to fight. They left Antioch, they were put out, and they arrive here.

Once they hear that there are death threats against them here, they're going to leave here also. Later, Paul will remain in Ephesus because the fruit of the Spirit, there was this move, well, I'll just read it, 1 Corinthians 16, he tells them, but I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a great and effective door has opened to me and there are many adversaries. So what does this have to do with us? Well, the Lord was telling Paul, I'm doing something here in Ephesus, don't leave in spite of the opposition, the tireless opposition.

Stay there. However, at Troas, he will depart in spite of the work of the Lord because of his love for Titus, 2 Corinthians 2. Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find Titus my brother, but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.

He's looking for Titus. He's just got to love, he's just like, Lord, I love you, you know I'll do your work, but I can't concentrate, I can't function like this. There's no rebuke by the Lord, God just kept using this man, kept pouring into him. So much so, God takes this moment in Paul's life and has people preach on it like I'm doing right now.

Paul had been worried sick over the safety of a beloved brother in the ministry. In 2 Corinthians, he writes in chapter 7, for indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears, nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.

I think it's beautiful. I think I want this in my life, to love somebody enough to be, you know, really concerned and serving with them, just the whole story, the whole package, and he was man-led by God. He knew to stay here in Iconium and minister, he knew to stay in Ephesus, and he also knew that God will allow him to leave Troas because of love, because Titus was that important of a person. And that makes me say to myself, am I a Titus?

Am I that valuable? Where it would be such a loss, a setback to the ministry, if I were somehow removed. And these things, you know, again, the Bible speaks to us like this. He continues in verse 3, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of his grace. Well, he's speaking boldly in the Lord, but he's making enemies while he's speaking. Not all of them, many of them were becoming believers, but others, they were daggers, were forming in their eyes against Paul. While preaching, Jesus is their Messiah, that he was crucified on the cross in accordance with Isaiah 53, that he rose again on behalf of mankind, not only the Jews, but also for the Gentiles.

Now, it's not all laid out that way every single time, but that this is overall the message they were preaching, and they made enemies for it. 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 / 2023-02-01 06:14:49 / 2023-02-01 06:24:28 / 10

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