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Don’t Be Them (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 9, 2023 6:00 am

Don’t Be Them (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 9, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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There is not a wise man among you, not even one who will be able to judge between his brethren and so there he is trying to bring peace to Christian versus Christian and it was very challenging when there again you have those rowing the wrong way.

Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God and I hope every Christian wants to be a peacemaker but not at the cost of truth and that's where the conflicts come in. 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. But for now let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts chapter 15 as he begins a new study called Don't Be Like Them. And others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. So being sent on their way by the church they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria describing the conversion of the Gentiles and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders and they reported all things that God had done with them.

But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up saying it is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses. The title for this message is Don't Be Them. It says, you know, when you go do expository teaching you really give up the ability to choose what to say.

You have to go with what the text is telling you. I, like Jude, would like to talk about the salvation and the grace of Christ, but what we have before us is confrontation, Christian versus Christian. And troublemakers, they add nothing to a good environment that they invade.

They only take away from it. You know, here the church at Antioch is rowing forward and upward and these chaps come along and they start rowing in the opposite direction and this causes the turmoil in the church. It's throughout the New Testament. The church at Progamos had problems with people coming in and teaching heresies, Thyatira. Jude writes, for certain men have crept in unnoticed, they always do, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men who turned the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. And so we listen to these things coming from the Scripture and I say to myself, I don't want to be one of those people that creep in unnoticed and cause these divisions. Paul endured conflicts with fellow Jews, with Gentile converts, with pagan Gentiles, with Judaizers.

He would stand up to everybody. I would think that there were those in the church at Antioch that were loving his teaching and when this conflict broke out, they were tempted to side against Paul because human nature's messed up that way. And yet there were others that would double down with Paul and be loyal to him. In his letter to the Corinthians, the second letter, he writes, beside the other things what comes upon me daily, my deep concern for all the churches. Paul loved the people he preached to, he wanted truth to prevail in their hearts, but it always met with conflict and therefore the great concern and he added, who is not made to stumble and I do not burn with indignation. In other words, he was saying, I hate what sin has done to us, but his response was not to stay home under the covers, the blanket, and just shiver.

He is out in the field and he's working and he's working tirelessly to bring peace to the church. In his first letter to the Corinthians, and you know he takes the first nine chapters just to try to set them straight, they were so messed up. And there in the sixth chapter, in verse five, he's talking about Christians suing Christians in the Gentile courts. And he says, if then, first Corinthians chapter six verse five, if then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?

I say this to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise man among you, not even one who will be able to judge between his brethren? And so there he is trying to bring peace to Christian versus Christian and it was very challenging when there, again, you have those rowing the wrong way. Jesus said, blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. And I hope every Christian wants to be a peacemaker, but not at the cost of truth.

And that's where the conflicts come in. With this chapter, the church in Jerusalem as the center of Christian operations will pass out of sight. Peter will pass out of sight in the story and in the book of Acts by the time we get to the end of this chapter. And then the Gentile churches or the churches that were predominantly Gentiles would then come to the front as Luke tells the story. Now, that doesn't mean they went away in Jerusalem.

They were still there. Just Luke is by the Holy Spirit telling us what happened outside of Jerusalem. So verse 1 now of Acts chapter 15, and certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.

Well, that's pretty heavy duty stuff. The church at Antioch, it remained connected with the church in Jerusalem. The church was centralized then.

Now, of course, we're all over the place. You've got different doctrines, different churches, and I don't know how you can avoid it. But I do know that on an individual level, we can be more blameless than what we otherwise might not be had we not listened to the Lord.

So we listen to the Lord, and we grow as a lily among thorns where He plants us. And here, Antioch, that church up in Antioch, Syria, actually sent material or money to the church in Jerusalem back in chapter 11 when they were going through a hardship. He says here certain men came down from Judea, from James, that is, and we'll bring that out. These certain men were irritated, going all the way back to Acts chapter 10 when the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles, the house of Cornelius. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they did not have to become Jewish first. Now, these are just facts we're dealing with.

There's no racism here. There are Jews that received Jesus as Messiah, but they were messed up. They had problems, and they were a problem, and then there were Jews that were not, such as Paul and Barnabas. These are just the facts, and the Gentiles were worshiping these certain men that came down. They saw the Gentiles worshiping their Jewish Messiah without becoming Jews according to the rights of Moses and circumcision, the dietary laws, and the Sabbaths, etc. And no one was fixing it, and so here they come up to where the church is flourishing, the Gentiles and Jews. And that church started with Hellenistic Jews, Jews that were influenced by the Grecian culture. They went up to Antioch, and they started an outreach to Gentiles, and as a result, Gentiles were getting saved in part of that church, and this irritated much of them. And so these certain men were the same certain men who came from James, mentioned by Paul in his Galatian letter.

I believe, and I'm not the only one, there's some debate on it, that the Galatian letter Paul wrote, his earliest letter probably, I believe it is, about this time is when he wrote it. Likely before the conclusion of this big church council that's going to take place beginning in Acts, in the seventh verse, we won't get to that. Galatians 2 12, for before certain men came from James, he would not eat with the Gentiles, he would eat with the Gentiles, and he's talking about Peter.

But when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And so what's happening is, Paul's up in Antioch ministering, all these Gentiles are coming in, Peter comes up to visit, and then James sends some guys up to visit. And when those guys come up, Peter all of a sudden is a little intimidated by this, and says, well, I'm not going to be with the Gentiles, now I'm going to hang out with the Jews. And Paul picked up on that. And Barnabas got sucked into it also, which made Paul go ballistic. And we're going to come to some of this, but the Galatian letter gives us a behind the scene look at what was in Paul's heart, how he was dealing with this, and how irrefutable his arguments are.

We do not have Christian writings that counter Paul, because he's right, and anointed by the Spirit of God. It says here in verse 1, and taught the brethren. Certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren. Why? Who needed them?

Who asked for them? The church was doing great without them. As I mentioned, the gospel was flourishing, and then these self-appointed grace killers show up. This is not fun to preach on. I'm not delighted about this. In the earlier years I was, but I've lived too close to it.

Too much is now a little bit too close to home. But here it is. They were sowing seeds of discord in someone else's field, and they had no right. And the Holy Spirit again is going to point out, these guys are the problem. Paul is merciful, and so is Luke, because they could have named these boys, and they don't. They just say, certain men, you know who you are, unless, this is what they were teaching, unless you're circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.

Well, this is abject legalism, and it is not grace, it is not truth, it is not New Testament theology. Even the devil knows a man will be saved if he believes. The devil knows that. Jesus taught us that the devil knows that. Luke's gospel chapter 8, those, talking about the sower, planting the seed, which is the word of God. Those seeds that fell by the wayside are the ones who hear. Then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Faith alone and Jesus alone, through scripture alone. This is what the Bible teaches, and this is why we believe it.

The fact that we enjoy it is bonus. Don't feel guilty for enjoying truths, especially when others don't share the joy. Well, that's on them. If they want the seeds of the words taken away, then they will be taken away. These men deduced that if you accepted Jewish Messiah, then you had to accept the law of Moses.

We'll get to that again in verse 5. They would not object to conversion if you subjected yourself to these rights, and I'm going to point out how crazy that would have been. It would have killed Christianity, and I'll show you why I believe that in a moment. Galatians 2, again, verse 21, Paul says, I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. How profound is that? If having these rights of Moses is going to make me right with God, then who needs Christ?

I'll just go through these rights. Well, we do need Christ because those things were symbolic, but they were fulfilled in Christ, and the symbolism either faded away or was developed. Jesus said, don't think I came to destroy the law of Moses, but to fulfill it. The same way an acorn fulfills its purpose. So an acorn has two good purposes. One, of course, to create an oak tree.

The other is to throw at squirrels, but that's another one. So if you've ever, early spring, you go out when the acorns are sprouting, and you pull up one out of the ground, and you can still see the acorn attached to the sprout about a third of the way up. The taproot's going down, the sprout's going up, and there's the acorn, and it is fulfilling its purpose.

It is not failing, but it is fading away. It will be gone, and all that will be left is that oak tree, which will produce more fruit in time. Well, this is the same with the law. The law was that oak, that acorn, but it fulfilled its purpose when it produced a new covenant out of the old covenant, and it is a glorious work of God. Later, when Paul is in Philippi, after this event, after this big brouhah in Jerusalem, he doubles down on his approach, and what does he tell the Philippian jailor? Acts 16, verse 31, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. He doesn't say, oh, and, you know, I'll give a little bit to the other guys.

He doesn't give an inch. I'll come back, but imagine, I talked about how this almost killed Christianity. Imagine the blowout which would have occurred had Paul tried to circumcise slaves that came to Christ.

The healing process would have incapacitated the men for days. Do you think those unbelieving slave masters would have been good with that? The fury of the slave masters would have vilified the gospel over an obsolete ritual. Imagine telling slaves, don't work on the Sabbath. You're now a Christian. What would the slave owners be saying about that?

You know, fix my vittles. It wouldn't be, oh, I understand, I respect your religion. Imagine Paul said to the converted Gentile slaves, oh, and by the way, don't eat anything that's been around, you know, pork or any of the unclean animals. How are you going to do that in the slave masters' house?

They would have starved to death. And so we can see Satan's potential victory had these certain men succeeded in stifling the liberty of Christ by slapping rule atop a rule that had already become obsolete, according to Paul's own words. Now, for those of you who have not heard this, I believe Paul wrote the Hebrew letter later in his ministry, and he was pulling no punches at this point. He was saying, listen, let me tell you something. That Judaism is obsolete because we have something better, and this is in accordance to the prophets. It wasn't that Jesus just walked out of the woods and said, okay, I'm here, here's a new agreement. Everything is connected. In Galatians 5, verse 12, which again gives us insight to what's happening here, he says, I could wish that those who trouble you would mutilate themselves.

This is very heavy, is it not? They were trying to get them to be circumcised. Paul says, I would like them to make themselves eunuchs. I can use stronger language because the Greek does.

I don't want to get worked up. And so there you have the apostle Paul, how fierce he was against this nonsense rowing in the opposite way of salvation. Now, circumcision and baptism, there are similarities between the two, but they're different. Circumcision, of course, symbolizes life in the faith and obedience to God, and it included painfully removing the flesh. Well, we understand that symbolism. However, it was exclusive to men.

Only the men suffered this right, and the women came under that covering. Baptism, on the other hand, symbolizes, of course, the faith and obedience, but in the spirit over the flesh, it includes death to oneself, spiritually speaking, metaphorically speaking. Well, not actually, and I'm not telling you to kill yourself, but it is saying that old nature must die, Romans chapter 6. Therefore, we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life. And so the baptism is a sermon, is a microcosm of the Christian faith. You die in Christ, just as he died on the cross, and you rise a new creation in Christ. This rite of order baptism is inclusive for all, male and female alike, which is more profound, a more profound symbolic rite than the circumcision.

And so, yeah, Christianity enhanced Judaism, because this is God's plan. Rites do not make us spiritual, and we're going to have communion, it will not make us spiritual, but what it does do, it preaches what I hope to be, and what I should be in Christ. When I am baptized, I want to have my flesh dead and buried, and rise up in Christ, a new creation.

This is what I want. God highly esteems this. Remember, God said to David, I cannot let you build a temple, but because you wanted to build it, it's a glorious thing.

God valued David's heart. Romans chapter 3 verse 24, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. If you carry rites too far, they have an adverse effect on the gospel. We know of churches that do this, they put such an emphasis on their ritual.

You know, you can't see the forest because of the trees. 1 Corinthians 7, circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. No matter, you know, communion, you cancel it out if you're not interested in what God wants, but you go through the, you know, the rite anyway, the ritual. It doesn't benefit you, and Paul preaches about that. He says, you know, you can have physical problems because you're not discerning the body of the Lord. So in verse 2, having said these men, certain men came down, and Galatians pointing out that they came from James, because James was not as aggressive with grace as Paul was.

I mean, it wasn't even close. I mean, he was writing his letter, everything he writes, but when it came, he's going to get Paul in trouble later. Paul gets arrested because of James, meddling around, but we'll come to that later in Acts. Verse 2, cliffhanger, therefore when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. Well, we can't send anybody to the apostles anymore. Now, the highest you can go in a church is the pastors.

Some denominations, they have, you know, levels, higher levels of bishops and et cetera, but ultimately it is going to be the overseers of the church. Paul and Barnabas, as I mentioned, went ballistic, and that comes out in the language. Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute, they were hot. They weren't, well, theologically, I think, they were screaming, yelling at each other, you're killing the gospel, you know, just because they're human, and it's not a sin to be passionate, though it can cause problems.

I have a pastor friend, he says his son was watching him on television preaching with the volume down, which is kind of cute all in itself. His son's a teenager, and he says, Dad, you look so angry. I said, I'm not angry. I'm passionate. He's animated, but he wasn't angry. Fine line.

We have to watch that. The alternative is to speak to you in a monotone, then you're accused of being boring, or more boring. Anyway, Galatians 2, verse 5, Paul says this about dissension and dispute, To whom we did not yield submission for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. And I pointed out what would have happened, just the circumcision, if you did that to those coming into the church, how you would have given Christianity a bad name.

An hour, figuratively. In other words, we weren't budging anything. And people want you to give a little, take a little. I don't know where that thinking comes from, but my approach is, if you're wrong, I'm not giving you that. I'm not going to say to you when you're wrong, I can see your point, unless you have a point head. Then I can say, I can see your pointed head, but I don't see your point.

Alright, maybe you, Marcus of Quinsbury, rules for arguing. But anyway, this blowout, again, hooray for Paul, standing up to him, because this was not a little thing. This was a big thing. It has everything to do with how people get saved. And to Paul, it was an insurrection against the gospel. Luke, Luke uses this word here in verse 2, small dissension. He uses it also in Luke 23, the gospel, when he talks about Barabbas being a dissenter. And so, this is a powerful word. This was no small insurrection, is how Luke is trying to present it to us. If we understood the Greek, we would take it that way. Both sides, very passionate about what they believed, but only one was right. And what's going to settle this is going to be scripture.

But that's not enough. It's going to be scripture spoken by men placed in authority, but that's not enough. It's going to be scripture by men placed in authority under the leading of the Holy Spirit, able to point to what the scripture, how it is to be applied, what it means.

And so, these men, when they came up, they did not recognize Paul as apostle of Jesus Christ enough to submit to him. So they're going to take it now to the apostles in Jerusalem. 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 / 2023-02-09 06:11:43 / 2023-02-09 06:21:06 / 9

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