You will have a spirit of love, but you'll know what truth is and what is not. There are gifts to men and there are gifts in the form of men.
Do we get that? There are gifts of the spirit and then there are gifts that God gives to the body of Christ. You are gifts to the church. You are personally.
Don't let Satan tell you you're not because it ain't true if he tells you that. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel 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 in the Book of Acts chapter 14 as he continues his message called, Do Your Job.
Hating life will not improve your life. Skip that step. Stay focused on getting the job done. Do your job.
If you were on an airplane, would you want the pilot while in the air to do his job? I think we would. The church is going to suffer tribulation, 2 Timothy 3. Yes, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Whether it is external or internal, you're going to be persecuted. Whether it is from Satan, the world, or your own rotten flesh, you're going to be persecuted.
You're going to be challenged. You're going to be attacked for loving Christ. But the persecution that Christians face will be nothing like the great tribulation that the unbelievers will suffer. When God begins to pour out his wrath upon this wicked and rebellious world, a Christ-hating culture, a sin-bloated world, 1 John, his first letter, chapter 3, Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
Pretty strong language, is it not? He did not say, Don't be amazed if they don't like you. He said, They hate you.
They're looking for your destruction. Jesus said, Remember the word that I said to you. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. Some teach that the church will go through the great tribulation. I fully disagree with that teaching. It discredits, again, the justice of God, his attributes, and it discredits the reasoning from the scripture. When the Lord says, I will spare you from the tribulation that will come upon the whole earth, what part of that is not understood? That's where we go back to, Do not make obscure those things that are obvious just to support some doctrine that you picked up along the way. Verse 23, So when they had appointed leaders in every church and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord whom they had believed. Well, they're still in the region of Galatia. That's very important to everything we've been talking about.
We're going to hit it in just a few minutes. You in Christianity, and I know that this message will eventually be broadcast on the Internet and radios, you who serve, why bother with the church and its many troubles unless it was important to God, which makes it worth it to me? Why serve with so much discouragement and disappointment and setbacks? Why bother serving unless it is important to God? It is opposite of Jesus Christ to downsize the commandment to assemble.
It's not a suggestion. It is a commandment. It's in the old, it's in the new. Here he says, So when they had appointed elders in every church, verse 23. The elders here, the Greek word is where we get our word presbytery from. Presbuteros in the Greek. I have to say it because I'm going to make a distinction between that word and another word, episkopos, because they are connected. Literally, where he says, So when they appointed elders, that word translated elders in the Greek means elders.
Just like that. Now of course we say elders in the faith, but they had not been here long enough to establish elders in the faith. The Jewish converts would have been elders in the sense they were familiar with the scripture of the Old Testament, but they were not elders in Christianity yet.
And yet, they have to be appointed. Titus, when Paul writes to Titus, a pastor, and he's laying out for him how to establish the church, it is a pastoral epistle, letter. He says, For this reason I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders.
There's that same word. Presbuteros. He continues in Titus, Appoint elders in every city as I commanded you, for a bishop must be blameless as a steward of God.
Wait a minute. Now first off, Paul commanded. There are New Testament commandments, and they are good. He calls the elders bishops. That Greek word episkopos, where we get our word episcopalian from, not that I'm promoting the episcopalian. I'm not doing that.
I'm just giving you the words. So the point is, there in 1 Timothy 5.7, he is saying that the elders are the overseers. It's translated bishop, but it really, overseer is a better word. No one consulted me on that.
Well, their loss, all right. I still have some humor left, but anyway, back to this. Appoint elders for a bishop. So what he is saying, appoint elders for an overseer, it's the same person.
Must be blameless as a steward of God. So the New Testament teaches that the elder and the overseer are the same. They are the pastors. Peter and Paul called them shepherds over the church. And again, shepherd, the Latin for shepherd is pastor. And so let me develop this a little more because we're talking about strengthening new converts, which would turn them into disciples, mature Christians to serve.
When Paul called for the presbytros to meet him, the elders, he then referred to them as the episkopos. Elders, overseers, pastors. John's gospel, chapter 21, Jesus saying to his disciples, feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.
That's the role of the pastor. And we're seeing it here, Paul setting it up in these places that he and Barnabas had established churches. Acts chapter 20, from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church and then in verse 28, along the same lines, therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock.
Now they're shepherds. Among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, that's that word episkopos, to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood. And 1 Peter 5, verse 2, shepherd the flock of God, which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly. And so, now I'm not saying that the church does not have other servants that are developed and mature Christians. What I am saying is that the pastor is the overseer and the elder at the same time. Just as Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ and a pastor also and an evangelist and a prophet, and so he wore many hats, that's okay. But a church without a pastor is a body of believers without an appointed head. A church without an overseer is headless.
That can't be good. The Bible says it's bad for Christians to grieve their pastors. Now I'm not saying these things because I'm a pastor and I have an opportunity to promote the office of a pastor. I'm saying because I preach the word. And this is what God has led me to preach because the material is right there. He's setting up churches and in those churches he's putting pastors in those places and Christians need to know what that means because you don't get it automatically. And I'll add to that, Christians will pick up what it means to be a pastor from other places that they themselves may not know, not in every case but many times, and then they come to another church and they want that pastor to conform to the wrong image that they just left. Be on guard against those things.
You always have to come back. What does the scripture say? And that's why we're covering this. The Bible says it is bad for Christians to grieve their pastors. Hebrews chapter 13. Obey those who rule over you and be submissive.
Now we're talking about the body. We're not talking about, you know, what kind of grass seed to plant in your lawn. He's not going to come and say, well, you've got a plant, you know, tall, fescue over here. Anyway, obey those who rule over you, and that word is not by accident. He says it three times in that section, and be submissive so that he can do his job. What's the opposite? Be contentious. Avoid a divisive man after the first and second admonition.
You don't get three strikes, you get two. And this is biblical. For they watch out for your souls. I think if a man is a man of the word, he's going to be a man of prayer. And if he's going to be a man of the word and prayer, he's going to be a man led by the Spirit of God. And if he's led by the Spirit of God, he's going to agonize over people that attend the church that he pastors, whether they know it or not. When they go through things, when God puts them on his heart, he's going to really be involved spiritually on their behalf. And he's likely not going to come up and say, hey, I was praying for you last night.
I'll turn my back to you and you can pat it a few times. Not going to do any of that. As long as a person attends a church that a man pastors, that pastor needs to be 100% their pastor whether he likes them or not. The minute they depart that church, he's 100% not their pastor, because he's human. He can't carry that load.
It's too much. He's got other things to do. A lot of people don't understand this.
They think that, you know, he's supposed to just be this jolly character no matter what. Well, let's come back to Hebrews 13, 17. And they watch out for your souls as those who must give account. Yeah, they're going to answer to God directly. And it will have nothing to do with you directly.
It may have something to do with you how he performed his ministry, but that is about him and God. He continues, let them do so with joy and not with grief. Is that possible?
I mean, overall, is it possible for a pastor to pastor Christians with joy and not with grief? Sometimes. That's the answer. You don't have to like it.
That is a fact. What he has to do is do his job and not be discouraged. He can't even allow himself to be overly encouraged.
He has to find the balance. That is called grace. He continues, Paul does, let them do so with joy and not with grief. Now this concerns you, for that would be unprofitable for you. That's a profound statement, is it not? You will stand before the Lord too.
And it might come up. You know, why did you behave? Why were you just such a nuisance? For what reason? I don't want Christ to ask me such questions. I try to go out of my way to not be rebuked.
Should it be any other way? So, Presbyteros, the elder, that draws attention to the pastor's spiritual maturity. He's supposed to behave like he's matured in the faith.
Episcopas, the overseer, this indicates the nature of the pastor's work. And so he is to be mature and he is to look out for the flock as I read those verses from Peter and later on, latter verses of Acts. The qualifications of a pastor are also outlined for us in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and immediately they are followed by the qualifications of servants.
Yeah, servants have qualifications too. Over the years I've come across too many Christians that think that they should just serve whether they're qualified or not. Look it, there are people that want to give Bible studies while they're trampling the Word of God.
They'll come into a church and they'll steal people away and they think that this qualifies them to be preachers when the Bible clearly speaks against such behavior. Well, if you know the Word of God, you'll be able to identify these things and you won't become bitter. You will have a spirit of love, but you'll know what truth is and what is not. There are gifts to men and there are gifts in the form of men.
Do we get that? There are gifts of the Spirit and then there are gifts that God gives to the body of Christ. You are gifts to the church. You are, personally.
Don't let Satan tell you you're not because it ain't true if he tells you that. It says here, and they prayed with fasting. They were abstaining to heighten their attention to God, distancing themselves from natural urges to increase their spiritual sensitivity.
Why? Because these were extraordinary times. They had to put leadership in place to protect these churches and they didn't have time to develop the leaders according to the manual. New converts were appointed to leadership positions because there was no one else. Relatively new converts. Later Paul would write to Timothy in structuring the church, speaking about appointing pastors. Not a novice. Less being puffed up with pride, he fall into the same condemnation as the Bible.
And so, not a novice in contrast to an elder. And then it says here, he commended them to the Lord. Well, it's largely out of the hands of Paul and Barnabas now. God himself would have to protect his church and he does that. And when God protects his church, he often uses pruning and discouragement to do that very thing. Trouble is on the horizon for this church. We know that from perhaps the earliest of the New Testament writings.
You know, there are a few competitors, James and Mark. But Galatians, one of the earliest writings that we have in the New Testament. This is what he says to these Galatians. And that's who we're talking about.
Lister Iconium. These people are in that region. He's writing a letter to them.
Because folks are going to come in. And they are going to bewitch the believers. Oh, you listen to Paul, you enjoyed his sermons, you enjoyed his teaching, you went to that church because of Paul? Well, let me get you out of that church.
That's what was happening. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free. And do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. He writes that to them because they were being entangled again. Many of the Jews were coming back and telling them, I know you got to do this. And then the Gnostics were coming in and saying, oh, you got that deeper information. You need to be entangling them. Then he says this to them. You ran well.
You started off really hot. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? You're losing the race.
You started out winning and now you're behind. The only letter which Paul did not ask for prayer from them was the Galatian letter. Because he's got an attitude with them and it's justifiable. He's not there. He's not writing this letter saying, oh, how are you? He is fighting for their lives. Remember I talked to you about the pastor who prays for the congregation whether they know it or not, who agonize over the flock whether they know it or not. This is what was happening with Paul. Galatians 4.20, listen to what he says. I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone for I have my doubts about you.
There's not a lot of warm, fuzzy stuff in that, but it is love. Or else he just says fine. They want to believe junk and go to hell. Let them go do it. That would have been really bad.
That's not what he does. I think Paul's rebukes broke their hearts. I think they received the rebukes and were ashamed of themselves. Oh, sure, there were probably a few who just, you know, hardened up. But overall, and why I say this is because much years later, Paul writes to the Corinthians, and this is what he says.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also. You see, Galatia is still standing. They didn't fold. They were being bewitched.
They were lagging behind. Paul had his hard tone towards them, and he wins. The churches are still there. They're still serving. They're still, by consent, under the authority of Paul's pastorate. The trouble that they faced there in Galatia would have been far worse if Paul did not take, if he and Barnabas, take these steps that we're reading about by fasting and praying and seeking the Lord.
Who do we appoint as leaders? He continues here in verse 23. I should pause here. Every single thing I'm talking about has to do with us, the New Testament church. Every single thing I'm talking about this morning has to do with Christians.
Satan is listening, too. And if the Spirit of God says something to you, it's going to come down to you making a choice to believe what God put on your heart as right or to let the predator get you. He says, in whom they had believed. They believed in the Lord of the church, not the church. If you believe in the Lord of the church, that church is going to be strong. If you believe in the Lord of your religion, that religion will be strong.
The opposite is unacceptable. The converts would have to learn to keep their faith in God. And by consent to Paul's leadership, they prevailed, verse 24. And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. Evidently uneventful, we did not read of any much preaching going on there or any resistance.
So we move to verse 25. Now when they had preached the word in Pergar, they went down to Italia. Well, they passed through Pergar on their first mission, when they started this trip, without mention of ministry.
Could have been a lot of reasons why they're not stated. This time, their second visit to Pergar, they preached the word, but there's no mention of the results. It continues, they went to Italia. Apparently, uneventful there also, but they're discerning the Lord's leading to get home. There is an accelerated pace that suggests they were trying to get home before winter, which would have restricted their travel and then it would have been stuck in what is modern Turkey and not getting back to the church that sent them out.
Verse 26. From there they sailed to Antioch. Now that's not Antioch, Pisidia, where they were stoned.
This is Antioch, Syria. There were many places named Antioch. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.
Well, that's Acts chapter 13. Separate to me, Paul and Barnabas, for the work of ministry. And that's what that church did. They obeyed the Spirit's leading and they sent these men out. They were apostles of the church.
Again, Paul having a dual apostleship as one appointed by Christ himself. So God's grace brought them through. And so ends their first missionary journey. Verse 27. Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them and that he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
And so there's the local church and they're reporting. They're starting out with, well, we got to Crete and we met this guy, Alimus, who tried to interfere with the gospel. Barnabas probably said, and Paul smoked that dude blind. And to teach him a lesson, he recovered, but he never forgot that lesson. And then there was Lystra where Paul was stoned.
We knew he was dead. They dragged him out of the city and we gathered around him and Paul gets up and he's telling the church this. And the believers saw this, the new converts, and they stayed believers. They did not say, what, is this what happens to you?
If you follow Jesus Christ, I'm out. That's not what, hell, there may have been one or two, who knows. We know there were enough that did not in verse 28. So they stayed there a long time with the disciples. Now, this is Antioch, Syria, and there was a lot of action going there. We're going to come to them pretty soon, but I want to close with this verse from Acts chapter 15, verses 35 and 36, because this tells us when Paul decides, you know, now we've got to go back to those churches that we established and do our job and make sure they're getting it done. Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, Syria, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord with many others also.
You got to love that. The word was paramount. You could take away the music, you could take away the children's ministry, the cafe, the bookstore, everything, but you can't take away the word of God. You can have all those things, but if you don't have the word of God, you don't have a church. You have a community center.
The word of God dictates the rhythm, and those ministries are vital if they are in rhythm with the word of God. I don't know why this is such a hard lesson for people. Well, I need more. Okay, for what?
What do you need more for? Well, I have things in my kids growing up. Fine, go do those things, but don't strip the word of God from the church. Well, anyway, coming back to, I mean, it cringes when you hear somebody decide, well, I'm looking for a new church, I want to see what kind of programs they have for my teens. Well, I mean, it's not bad if they've got programs for your teens, but what about the word? What if the word is wrong? What if the word is so dumbed down that you become a substandard churchgoer?
Are you fine with that as long as they've got something for your teens? Well, each person has to answer that, but as for me and my house, I think that goes against the clear teaching of the Bible. Do you think there were teens in Antioch, Syria?
No, there were not. The Bible would have told us. Of course, all right, I'm finishing the verse so we can go, and I hope I've given you a lot to think about.
I hope if you haven't seen these things before, you can say, he's right again. Verse 36 of Acts chapter 15, while we read it, Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch teaching and preaching the word of the Lord with many others also. Then after some days, Paul said to Barnabas, let us go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.
These men did their job. 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.
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