We're in the age of faith. We're not in the age of miracles. Miracles may still be granted, but they're not widespread. You've heard me say these things before. The signs and wonders may be granted, but they're not guaranteed.
And if you behave as though they're guaranteed, you're going to be pretty upset a lot of times. They're going to mess your theology up. Faith is now where the Holy Spirit puts His emphasis, because now we have the Bible. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel in 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. And now here's Pastor Rick with the conclusion of his study called Tireless Opposition, beginning in Matthew chapter 23. 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. Well, 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. 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 chapter 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. I am, you just got to love, he's just like, Lord, I love you, you know I'll do your work, but I've got, I can't concentrate, I can't function like this. I don't, 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 a 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 weren't becoming believers, but others, they were daggers 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 this is overall the message they were preaching, and they made enemies for it. Here's a Bible verse that needs no commentary in the New Testament, and yet still has to be defended for some reason against Christians. There are several of them like this, and I say this because part of maturing with Scripture includes thinking for yourself. So you come to church and you hear, well, let's pick another pastor who you might disagree with. You come to church, you hear a pastor say something, and you don't like it. And you go and you read what somebody else says about that verse, and you like that.
That's not enough to settle it. You have to still come to, but what do I think? What do I think is being said based on their words and my thoughts? And here's the verse, 1 Timothy 2, 4, speaking of God, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
You need any commentary on that? Is anybody here saying, oh, I don't know what that means. I'll reread it. Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth? God wants everyone saved. That's what God wants. Then why do we have people in Christianity tell you that's not what God wants?
So how do you settle this? You have to ask yourself, what does it say? What does that verse say to me? I don't want somebody to come and infect my individual ability to think. You get a pastor that says you need to think like I think. Again, let's use some amount of the pastor. It'd be good for you if you just thought like it. It'd be good for you if everybody thought like I thought, drove like I drove, wore what I wore, a messed up planet. But anyway, coming back to this, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of his grace.
That's what I'm trying to say. That's why I bring that verse up to you to tell you the word of God and its grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Well, Moses and Aaron did this, Exodus chapter three, before the Jews, and Aaron spoke all the words which Yahweh had spoken to Moses. Then he, that would be Moses, did signs in the sight of the people because they didn't want to believe Moses. Moses got in big trouble by listening to God, and Moses came back and told God that. And God does not say, hmm, God just says, yeah, we'll go do this now.
And it's like, well, wait a minute, let's settle this thing. You know, you can't do that with God. He is God. And once we realize that, we're liberated. Anyway, we're in the age of faith. We're not in the age of miracles. Miracles may still be granted, but they're not widespread. You've heard me say these things before. The signs and wonders may be granted, but they're not guaranteed.
And if you behave as though they're guaranteed, you're going to be pretty upset a lot of times. They're going to mess your theology up. Faith is now where the Holy Spirit puts his emphasis, because now we have the Bible, the New Testament Bible I'm talking about. So my answer to, why don't we see these signs and wonders accompanying preaching of the word today? And the answer is, they did not have the New Testament Bible.
They needed a little help. The Bible, as I mentioned, New Testament was evolving. Today, we have the full canon. Even if you take different translations that differ, because they're different translations, the message is not lost. You won't get an NIV Bible, which I would not recommend, but if you got it, you're still a Christian. You're going to hell because you have the NIV. I'm not saying anything like that, but you won't lose any of the doctrine.
It can create other problems, but not serious enough to say, I don't know what the Bible is saying. So it comes to the word of God, and I'm going to back this up, hopefully, with scripture. Luke chapter 16. But he, Jesus, said to him, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead. He's saying, if the Bible doesn't do it, that's what Tozah was saying about, we want to understand, because we already believe, not help us understand so we can believe.
It's the other way around. Faith. Faith precedes. And so here Jesus is saying, if they're not listening to the Bible, you can do all the miracles you want to do.
It won't count. To me, this is just like so easy to understand. Paul and Barnabas did not believe the gifts ended with Elijah. They did as God told them. Now, in Acts 26, we read, Paul said, why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead or not? He doesn't say that part. I'm adding that part. Why should it be thought incredible to you if God doesn't raise the dead, if he doesn't do a miracle?
Why should that be incredible? We are believers because of who God says he is. And signs and wonders are not always essential to the work of God. John chapter 10. Then many came to him and said, John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this man were true. John did no miracles.
John the Baptist, and you know the Lord had high opinion of John. So let's not get tripped up when we read about signs and wonders in the scripture and we don't see them like they did in those days. Now, some might come along and say, well, it's because we don't have the faith. I disagree with that. James said Elijah was a man just like us, just like passion struggled with what we struggled with. I think that the explanation I gave you was for me is the right one and it should be for you too.
Anyway, certainly not something to argue over. God, he heals one and he may pass by another one and that indicates that God's perfect prerogatives are in place. Lazarus of Bethany was risen from the dead only to die another day. Lazarus the beggar died once, even covered with sores and made it into glory. In the end, God is perfect in all his ways. Verse four, but the multitude of the city was divided, part sided with the Jews and part with the apostles. Well, Christ brings division between himself and everything contrary to him because he's God the Son. Matthew 10, 34, do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
You've got to have a lot of authority to be able to make a claim like that. What if I said that? Don't think I came to be reused? Well, who do you think you are? Christ could say it. He was worthy. The sword that divides is God's word, his truth, that's what it comes down to. And he is sometimes hated for it to this day, not necessarily with physical violence. Again, Jeremiah the prophet. This is what Jeremiah the prophet said because he was preaching God's word, his own people were turning, his own family was turning against him, he was persecuted for standing up and saying, that's not what the Bible says, that's not what God wants, and here's why I'm saying that. He was able to look at a verse and say, I know what that means.
And when they said no it doesn't, he didn't back down. And because of this, the moods got the best of him. And he said, woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth.
I have neither lent for interest nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me. So I'm tired of this. This tireless opposition to logic, to truth, to love, to fact, tired of it.
And he's not supposed to be. And he writes it down to tell us, this is where I was that day. This is how down in the dumps I was over serving God and standing up for truth.
He writes it down so we could read it and say, okay, I'm not the only one. But that does not mean that I want to have this reaction. I want to have the reaction that Paul and Barnabas had. And what is that? No record of the moods getting the best of them. That's what I want. Now in private, the moods, you know, that's where you duke it out.
And then you get out in public and you've put that beast in its place. Normally, the word apostles refers to the 12. But here it refers to Paul and Barnabas. Paul as an apostle of Jesus Christ and also an apostle of the church at Antioch, Syria. Barnabas was only an apostle of the church at Antioch, not an apostle of Jesus Christ.
How do we know? Well, there's only 13 men that have been handpicked by Jesus Christ and appointed to be sent out with great authority of Christ. And Judas forfeited his role. Matthias was appointed by apostles, not by Jesus Christ. And Christ did not object because what's he supposed to do? Make Matthias feel bad? I mean, no, Matthias, you're not going to be. I mean, Lord, this is fine.
I just have another one. So my point is the word apostles means one who is sent out. What the word does not tell us and the context has to is who sent them out.
And so you have one sent out by the church, which is still in place, but then you have the others that are handpicked. Anyway, verse 5, and when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews with their rulers to abuse and stone them, we'll pause there mid-sentence, notice the three categories mentioned here. Jews, Gentiles, apostles. Because, you know, Barnabas and Paul, they were Jews, but they are remembered as being God's people in distinction to everybody else, distinct from everybody else. Some of the Gentiles and Jews united with Christ and there were those that were against him, same as it was in the city they just left, 80 miles to the west. The Jews, in this synagogue, they did not divide over the identity of God. They divided over how God fulfills prophecy. That is pretty interesting because they really had no grounds to disagree with what Paul was preaching. At Iconium, anti-Jesus Jews and Gentiles sowed seeds of discord to stop the message of the cross. We should never, ever be surprised by opposition to the gospel, no matter where it comes from.
It's always the devil meddling. And I think sometimes we are surprised. But maybe even worse, is not only are we surprised, we're stopped.
We're halted. Jesus said, you're the salt of the earth. You're supposed to resist corruption.
You're supposed to go against those things that rot. And we do that by standing up for our faith. And I think it is perfectly fair to say to an unbeliever, you might have a double standard where you think you can come in here and curse and kick up a storm and tell me about your night out because fornicating, whatever it is. But you think I as a Christian now have no right to tell you that I went to church and that I disagree with a lot of things that the culture is doing. See, that's a double standard.
And that's a double standard you may follow, but not me. Well, that kind of stuff is what led to the persecution of Paul and Barnabas. They were saying, well, you got your double standard, but we're going to keep preaching.
You're fine. You don't want us preaching in your synagogue. We'll preach over here. And that is when this violent plan was launched against them. Of course, they're going to get wind of this and get out of the city. And so verse five tells us now when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with the rulers to abuse and stone them. This isn't Roman rule here because the Roman rule, of course, you had the whole court system, you know, even though it was corrupt to some time. The indication that the Jews were leading this is the method of stoning. That was what the Jews did to heretics.
And that's just a historical note. It's not a Jew-Gentile thing. It's a sinner thing. Verse six, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lyconia and to the surrounding region. Well, Jesus taught, when they persecute you in this city, flee to another city. Matthew 10 23.
And again, being led by the Lord, sometimes you stand your ground, sometimes it's best you move on. Unbeknownst to the apostles here, they're jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. They're not going to be stoned in Iconium.
It's when they get to Lystra. They will be, well, Paul will be. And so they're going to flee and their persecutors will catch up with them. And the hatred against them was so intense that you had Jews coming from 80 miles from Antioch, Pisidia to Iconium and then another 20 miles with Jews from the two now following them to Lystra. And then they will stir up, which is a whole other story next chapter, where at one moment the unbelievers are trying to worship Paul and Barnabas and in the next minute they are stoning them. People, right?
Glad I'm not one. Anyway, how would you feel if when you preached you caused riots? When you preached you brought death threats against you for preaching what you knew was true. Would you say to yourself, did God really call me to this?
Am I just doing this on my own strength? Of course you would have questions unless you were grounded in the scripture and in the spirit. Verse 7, and they were preaching the gospel there.
So they looked for another place to go preach and share and that's what they did. Don't lose sight of these things when it comes to sharing your faith. Don't bloat it with doctrines of men. Keep it simple to the scripture.
You know, we're not trying to indoctrinate people. We're trying to introduce them to Jesus Christ through the scripture. So Paul says, and I brethren, 1 Corinthians 2, when I came to you, this chronologically has not yet happened. He has not yet gotten to Corinth. I'm bringing up Corinth to demonstrate the method of the first Christians as being the right way.
And God preserved it because he wants us to follow these patterns. And I brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of the wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Paul says, I kept the message simple. I wasn't coming to impress you. I was just coming to deliver to you the truth of Christ and I kept it there. I didn't bring what a rabbi this said and pastor that said. I'm telling you what the Bible says. And that's what he shared. There are certain little twists and turns we have to make from time to time.
But overall, no. When was the last time you met a babe in Christ? I have not met one in a long time. Are people still getting saved? Are they getting saved in other churches and not here?
That was not good for me. But I mean, the sharing of the faith to get people to believe in Christ. You're witnesses. We tell what we saw. We tell what's happened.
What we are part of in some form. And again, so you'll meet with opposition from this from some people. Anyway, persecution helped spread the gospel no matter how wise the man or woman you admire is. If they deviate from the basics, then you do not have to continue. You don't have to join them.
It doesn't mean they're evil or anything like that. I'll close with this verse. 1 Corinthians 2 Chapter 4. In my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and power that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. What is the power of God to me? It is that day when he saved me.
I still remember it, and most of you probably do too. It is that day when I realized that Jesus is Lord. That's power because nothing has been able to shake me from that. There have been many confusing things, disappointing things, but nothing has been able to shake me from that moment that I met Jesus. That is the power of the gospel.
There's nothing like it anywhere else. 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 / 2023-02-02 06:12:23 / 2023-02-02 06:22:10 / 10