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Don’t Be Them (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 10, 2023 6:00 am

Don’t Be Them (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 10, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Paul, when he gets converted, he says, everything I learned as a Pharisee, I counted as rubbish, Philippians chapter 3. And some of you may have known, what if you came out of Kingdom Hall Jehovah's Witness cult? What if you came out of that? What if you came out of Islam? What if you came out of heathenism? Are you going to try to salvage some of that when you come to Christ?

Or are you going to just say, I'm wiping all that off, and start with a new canvas? And this is what Paul did, and he tells us, he says, I'm a Pharisee of Pharisees. 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 15, as he continues his message, Don't Be Like Them. Baptism, on the other hand, symbolizes, of course, the faith, just an obedience, but in the spirit over the flesh, it includes death to oneself, spiritually speaking, metaphorically speaking, and, 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 Eve, and 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, and 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. First 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 system, 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, he wasn't even close. 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 of some denominations. They have, you know, levels, higher levels of bishops and etc.

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 is 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. All right, 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, which in itself was an insult to Paul. So they appealed to Jerusalem, verse 3, 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. This is an oasis verse. We're dealing with this conflict, this confrontation, it's not pleasant, and yet here we have no confrontation. We have Jerusalem, that's where he's going, it's about by foot 400 miles from Antioch.

The crow flies, maybe about 300, a little over 300. So it's going to take him, if they're going by foot, if they're walking, it's going to take them a few weeks to get there. If they hitch a ride on a cart here and there, or rent a camel, they're a little earlier, but still, they're going to have a lot of time, which is, Paul of course is formulating his arguments, is organizing them for this confrontation, and he tells these Christians in Phoenicia and Samaria about the conversions of Gentiles through the preaching with signs and wonders following. We covered that in Acts chapter 14. And here Paul and Barnabas, they did not need anyone to validate their ministry. In other words, the things that they achieved in preaching the gospel, they didn't need anybody to say, okay, we approve you, we bless you.

They would like for people to understand that this was God, but they didn't need that. That is admirable, to see it for what it is, and not always easy. People are so impressionable. You can be liking a church and somebody comes and says, you shouldn't like the church.

No one will have to give you a reason, really. And then you don't. Some people are like that.

And it's unfortunate. And I don't mean to be hitting these things repeatedly, but this is what we're talking about, because there were those in the church up in Antioch that were like, hmm, yeah, these Judaizers have a good point, and Paul, no they don't. I'll pull your hair out if you say that again. Well, that would be Nehemiah. Nehemiah cursed them, struck them, pulled out their hair. That's biblical leadership.

But that's not what happened to me. And they caused great joy to all the brethren. See, these were grassroot Christians.

They were not Pharasitical. They were not indoctrinated into Judaism. They understood what their Torah and the prophets said, and they were just rejoicing that people were getting saved.

And they didn't say, oh, wait a minute, wait a minute, we've got a checklist here, you know. And they just understood that people heard who Jesus was, what he had done, how it tied into the Old Testament prophets, and they rejoiced in that. Again, we would have no Christianity if it were up to these Jewish believers who were Judaizers, mixing law with Messiah. But the other fact is, we would have no Christianity if it weren't for these Jewish believers like Paul and Barnabas and Silas and Tim, all these other ones that were just, you know, so again, it's not anti-Semitism at all. I don't know how you can be a Christian.

I'll say this in two ways. I don't know how you can be a Christian against Israel. I mean, not with Genesis 12, 3. I mean, you curse these Jews, I'm going to mess with you.

That's 1. 2, how can you be a Christian to be racist against anybody? True, there may be some cultures that you just don't like.

You know, maybe you don't like certain foods that they have, you know, the way they talk and look, that's understandable. That's different from vilifying them and looking down upon them and thinking you're superior. So, racism has no place in Christianity, but that won't stop Satan. So don't think he's just, you know, you're going to say, sorry, I'm a Christian, I'm not subject to these things.

He will challenge everything he can. Anyway, the Judaizers, they judge the conversions and they said they're not complete. We got that in verse 1, we get it in verse 5. Whereas the Christians who were just simply enjoying the truth, they didn't have these hang-ups.

They were happy people were getting saved. Legalism encourages outward proofs that if you do these things, you will find merit with God. Grace encouraged Christ's likeness to be like Christ out of love. This desire to please the Lord. John's Gospel, chapter 1, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of legalism. No, full of grace and truth. Grace is not, it's an exotic, it has not grown naturally in the human heart.

It has to be imported from heaven. We need the Holy Spirit to understand what grace is. So, it continues in John's Gospel and of his fullness, that is Christ, we have received law for law.

It doesn't say that. It says grace for grace. Love. Obedience to God has love all over it. Legalism is just hard.

It is this false stoic approach. It misses the grace that is available. Supposing that somehow grace violates truth and it does not ever. Those, now churches who hold up non-theological policies are not legalists. If a church says, listen, we're going to have a section for handicapped parking and if we find people that park there, we're going to, you know, enforce that, hey, if you're not handicapped, then you can't park here. That doesn't make them legalists. A church has every right to enforce, if a church says, look, we don't want you bringing sandwiches into the sanctuary ever. We have, you know, there's a death sentence for that. I'm sure it's in the Bible.

I'll find it. But anyway, that's not legalism at all. That is just enforcing whatever policies they have the right to establish. Verse 4, I say that because, you know, we get accused of, you can't bring a jug of coffee in a sanctuary.

They're so legalistic and you don't know what you're talking about. Verse 4, and when they had come to Jerusalem, they received, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders and they reported all things that God had done with them. There is still this tension whenever Paul shows up around the Jerusalem Jews. When they were so glad to send him off to Tarsus, they would say, Paul, they didn't even give him a fruit basket.

Here's your ticket and they were gone. That's not, it's not said that way, but as you read the story, you know, you can see like they're glad to get rid of him. They didn't trust his conversion and many never received him as an apostle. And so when he met with resistance from fellow Christians, it was the Jerusalem Jews primarily.

And it's understandable, but it's not acceptable. This is his third known visit to Jerusalem since his conversion. In spite of their rejection, he plowed forward. He didn't say, well, you know, they're not, they don't believe I'm saved, so I'll just wait until they believe it. They don't believe I'm an apostle of Jesus Christ, so I can't do anything without them.

Well, that wasn't his opinion. He plowed forward nonetheless and with tremendous success, it continues in verse 4, the apostles and the elders. Now the apostles, they led the faith.

They had the final say. Jesus said to them, you know, what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and that had very much to do with their authority and it's passed over to the church. Anyway, the leaders, the elders, they were the leaders of primarily the assembly and they all had a role and they taught and so did the apostles. And it says here they reported all things that God had done with them. As I mentioned, Paul wrote the Galatians about this time and he writes about this part.

So first, he and Barnabas meet with the leaders, the leadership, and then they'll come into the main forum and get this debate going. Galatians 2, 2, he says, and I went up by revelation and communicated to them that gospel which I preached among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation lest by any means I might run or had run in vain. And then a few verses later, he names the leaders, Galatians 2, 9, and when James, Cephas, that's Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. And so they're like, yeah, okay, your blessings, you can go preach, you know, as you've been doing to the Gentiles, just get out of here. Because Jerusalem, you got to remember, a lot of these Jews, they just couldn't make that transition. The church transitioned into the grace we know it today, but on the foundation of not only the apostles and prophets, but also the synagogues gave us a template for how we have our services today to some degree.

We don't have the women on one side and the men on the other, little things, but overall there is a connection and largely we can thank Paul for establishing this. Anyway, verse 5, but some of the sect of the Pharisees who believe rose up saying it is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses. So they doubled down on their position. Now the Pharisees here converted in the early days of the church, most of them retained their intolerance for Gentiles, at least to some degree, some heavy degree. And they were watching their traditions sidestepped in the name of the God of Messiah. And this was a source of confusion and tension that could not become new wineskins.

And so they're bursting all over the place. And we see as the New Testament goes forward, they're just kind of left behind. Jesus said about the Pharisees, blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel, because the gnat has the blood in it still and the blood is the life of the animal.

And we believe that, you know, that's something that we should steer away from. Paul, when he gets converted, he says, everything I learned as a Pharisee, I counted as rubbish, Philippians chapter three. And some of you may have known, what if you came out of Kingdom Hall Jehovah's Witness cult? What if you came out of that? What if you came out of Islam? What if you came out of heathenism? Are you going to try to salvage some of that when you come to Christ?

Or are you going to just say, I'm wiping all that off and start with a new canvas? And this is what Paul did. And he tells us, he says, that is a Pharisee of Pharisees, a Hebrew of Hebrews, born in the tribe of Benjamin.

He lays out his background. And then he says, yet indeed, I also count all things lost for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I might gain Christ. You know, a lot of people can't do that. A lot of people cannot sever their roots when they need to be cut. Paul was able to do that.

He's not the only one. The Pharisees that could come and accepted Christ as Messiah that were causing this trouble, they had not matured to this state. They probably died. What finally put the kibosh on the Pharasitical influence in Christianity was the temple being destroyed by the Roman armies. And that was not instant.

Even after the temple, there were still revolts and there was still a heavy presence of Judaism. But that's really what led to it. Legalism is a distortion of obedience, as lawlessness is a distortion of grace. And that alone should help us to understand grace because it eliminates the option, the bad options. We are to strive for obedience.

Why? So that God will like us. No, that's legalism. Because we love Him. And love seeks the favor of the object loved. You want the one that loves you.

You want it to be mutual. Grace is the balance. It demands holiness in the heart and enjoys liberty in the life without ever condoning sin.

It continues here in verse 6 and we're almost done. Saying, it is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And that's a lot of law because these Pharasitical converts, messianic Jews, not all messianic Jews are like this because Paul was a messianic Jew.

They enjoyed their rituals and their rites. They grew up with them and they were under the influence of the rabbis. Rabbinical Judaism is not the same as the law of Moses. And that's why by the time Christ comes along, he's constantly dealing with these Pharisees.

Paul has to deal more with the Sadducees in Acts, but these Pharisees, there was the rabbinical Judaism was killing the Jewish people. And that's why they said never has a man spoke with such authority. Yeah, because they were getting the rabbi, you know, quoting the rabbi. Who quoted the rabbi? And they're still like that in many of their Hasidic groups, just quoting rabbis. But what about the law? What did Moses say?

What was the purpose? So that's why when Jesus said, Moses gave you this law out of the hardness of your heart, but they were long detached from Moses. Still flashing the name Moses, just not listening to him. Anyway, do we see that in Christendom?

Of course we do. We see places with crosses on the building. They call themselves churches. The leaders are called pastors and they could care less about what's in the Bible.

They're just doing whatever the culture likes and asking blessings on it from God in the midst of this. So again, it's not a Jewish Gentile thing, it's a sinner thing. Acts chapter 13, here we are back again to verse 5, saying it is necessary to circumcise them. They thought Paul was too aggressive with grace and salvation.

And this is what happened back in chapter 13. Therefore, Paul speaking, let it be known to you, brethren, that through this man, does Jesus, is preached to you the forgiveness of sins. And by him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Ooh, dems fighting words. And these guys, as I mentioned in the beginning, are upset that nobody is shutting Paul up and stopping him, so they took it upon themselves to go up to Antioch. Even the Judaizers could not keep the very laws that they claim to uphold, and Peter will call them out of it. I don't want to read that, we'll get it in verses 10 and 11. Remember the angry brother of the prodigal son? No joy in his life.

All he understood was law and merit. And it doesn't have to say it that way, it just presents it that way. Luke 15, 28, but he was angry and would not go in, therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. Paul is doing the pleading. God, the father, through Paul, pleading with the Jews to say, circumcision accomplishes nothing, it is the heart. Romans 3 verse 23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What fool would deny that? Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, that's the antidote.

I am a sinner, I am born one who has fallen from the glory of God, I was created in His image, sin has marred that image, but Christ has justified me freely by His grace, not through circumcision, but through Jesus Christ and His cross. That's the gospel, that's why it's good news. 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 / 2023-02-10 09:30:07 / 2023-02-10 09:39:58 / 10

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