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Thick and Thin (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 16, 2023 6:00 am

Thick and Thin (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 16, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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He says, Luke does, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.

This is an emphatic thought throughout the book of Acts. What did the first Christians do? What did their first church?

Where was the emphasis? It was on the word of God. Solid pastoring and Bible teaching was not wasted at the church in Antioch. Because a lot of churches do waste solid Bible teaching. You know, some people come to a church that doesn't even know they've got a good Bible study.

Specifically, how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Today, Pastor Rick will continue teaching through Acts chapter 15 and his message called Thick and Thin. The kingdom of God is not in eating and drinking but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Three letters of Paul really are directed to the Jews. It includes the Gentiles. But they're really aimed at the Jews and to get them to understand the freedom in Christ. Romans, Galatians and Hebrews.

That's where the emphasis lie. Verse 32, now Judas, Silas, Judas and Silas themselves being prophets also exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. Interesting that as prophets they exhorted and they weren't running around making predictions.

That's not what it means here for a prophet. Judas, the abbreviated name would be... Judah is the name. Jude is the abbreviation. Once you give it its Greek equivalent, it's Jude. So Jude, the writer of the letter of Jude was named Judah and when he started interacting with the Gentiles, it probably became more Jude than anything else. Silas is not a co-apostle. He will not be but he will be an assistant of Paul and he too is a Roman citizen which really lends to him going with Paul. When they're in Philippi and they're beaten, Paul says in the plural, you've beaten us, Roman citizens.

And that was a big deal. Paul was learning to use the law in favor of the gospel. We'll come to that in chapter 16. He says themselves being prophets also, Luke writes. Well in those days, the preachers who taught Jesus was Messiah from the Old Testament. They were prophets, the teachers that were teaching Christ is our Savior. They were prophets and teachers. And not every, you know, Agabus did tell the future.

We'll come to him later in future chapters. But prophets again are not always foretelling but they are always forthtelling. They're always speaking the word of God and here, in doing so, they are encouraging the believers. They were exhorting them, it says here, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.

Not that they were verbose or anything like that. Just, you know, boy, you won't stop. Encouragement counters discouragement.

I think that's helpful to, I think it's very helpful to understand the definition of words and the etymology, the origin of words is a bonus. But to understand when I am encouraging someone, I am contributing to counteracting discouragement. Because we know discouragement is everywhere. You don't have to look for it. Let me go find some discouragement.

You don't have to look, it's on your garment. Anyway, verse 31, 33, and after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles. However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there. So, they stayed for an undetermined amount of time, at least undisclosed. Judas is going back 325 miles, there about, to Jerusalem, but Silas catches the vision.

That's what appeals, is appealing about this. He saw what God was doing in this foreign culture and he knew this was right and it was good and he wanted to be a part of it. And as I mentioned, he will become a faithful assistant to Paul and because of his recognizing God using Paul and Paul's faithfulness, Silas will catch some beatings with Paul. And he remained a servant.

As I mentioned, Peter's letters were written much later and there's Silas, as Silvanus, still in it, through thick and thin. The good times and the bad times, the times that you have, the times you don't have. The times when your heart is merry and the times when it is broken. It's still serving. This is what's going to come out of this. If this chapter was all we had, we wouldn't really be able to appreciate it. But we've got so much that's coming, chronologically, the church at Philippi does not exist, the church at Corinth does not exist, the Thessalonian church does not exist, the Roman church is not where they're going to be after Paul gets through with them. There's so much more. The Colossian church, this is coming. They're not there yet.

And so this is a big deal. When Silas catches the vision, he gets to see these churches started, he gets to find out what their problems are later, he sees Paul write letters, make trips to and fro, he sees Paul's heart broken over these people that really don't like Paul. And it is just incredible, these lessons.

How do you learn to function so effectively in the midst of constant conflict? We have to look at the scriptures and see. Verse 35, Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord with many others also. This word of the Lord is expanded beyond the Old Testament, Yahweh, into Christ now. Christ is the Old Testament Yahweh. And here, it belongs to the Godhead. The word of the Lord.

Well, what would you say to a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon who deny the deity of Christ? Is this human word or is this divine? Well, it's divine. Christ is divine. Two men had, these two men, Paul and Barnabas, had taken a lot of territory for Christ.

We spoke about the mileage covered in chapter 14. Paul now, a Christian, for about 14 years, he says, Luke does, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord. This is an emphatic thought throughout the book of Acts. What did the first Christians do? What did their first church, where was the emphasis?

It was on the word of God. Solid pastoring and Bible teaching was not wasted at the church in Antioch. Because a lot of churches do waste solid Bible teaching. You know, some people come to church, they don't even know they got a good Bible study. This became the case at Ephesus. Ephesus enjoyed Paul, John, Apollos. I mean, it was a church that God invested in. And what does the Lord end up saying to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2? You left your first love.

How could you do that? You had those profound Bible teaching. And out of that, I'm not that important anymore. All these other things are. Look at the programs we have. Look what we're doing for this and that. But I say to you, you've left your first love. Correct it.

Or else I'll take your lampstand. Man, I shiver thinking about it. He says here, with many others also. So there were many teachers up there. There was an abundance of teachers in one place and it needed to be thinned out. Now there's a time gap between verse 35 and 36.

We now go to 36. Then after some days, Paul said to Barnabas, let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing. Paul could not sit still.

Thank you God for the cloth that this man was cut from. Had he not been this way, again we wouldn't have all these letters and doctrine that we have. Paul knew Galatia had problems. My understanding is the Galatian letter had already been written and he feared that they would be rendered substandard in the faith. That Galatia would be a region of substandard Christians or nominal Christians. This is through how many parts of the world will people tell you that they insist that they are Christians and they live like devils. And the churches that run the place, I mean just go to South America, go to Western Europe, go anywhere. And you'll encounter substandard Christianity.

What makes it substandard? It's not according to God. Not according to his word. And Paul was concerned about this.

What should he have been, flippant? Satan immediately will counteract this idea of pastoral care. Here you have a pastor that says, look I wrote the letter, I know the Judaizers have been up that way, we know Satan is at work, paganism is rampant.

We got to go see these people again, see how they're doing and encourage them. When Satan heard that he began formulating a battle plan. Now remember, Satan failed in Antioch. He tried to kill the church and he failed. He was repelled.

He can be beaten back if you can find men and women that will stand with Christ through thick and thin. If Satan did not start the trouble coming between Barnabas and Paul, he certainly poured gasoline on those flames. Because the argument these men had was intense. Paroxysm, our English word from the Greek, they were yelling at each other. Their voices were pretty high.

We'll come to that. Verse 37. Now Barnabas was determined to take with him John called Mark.

It started out like this. Paul says, let's go visit these churches. Barnabas said, great, I'll get Mark. Paul said, no, I don't think so. Consistent with the nature of Barnabas was this desire to include and to encourage and he looked to give Mark another chance to serve. Paul disagreed. Barnabas chose grace for Mark.

We cannot charge Barnabas with wrong. That same quality that is being exercised on behalf of Mark is what caused him to go get Paul and bring him to the apostles when nobody wanted to touch Paul. That same quality when Barnabas goes up to Antioch and sees the spirit moving there amongst the Gentiles and Jews, he says, I got to go get Paul. And he travels to Tarsus and brings Paul back. So this is who he is. Paul, on the other hand, makes a command decision.

And to be in command is to make unpopular decisions. And now here's Barnabas standing up. But Paul, also in grace, also in grace, saw that Mark was ill prepared for next level ministry. He knew this would be a hindrance.

He dropped out when they entered into modern Turkey. And Paul says, he's not ready. Later, Paul will change this because Mark will change it. So, continuing, verse 38, but Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. Paul says he's not ready and he can't come with it. He's going to be more of a problem. It would be, you know, a proverbial spare tire on a bobsled.

Just slowing everything down unnecessarily so. Now, understand, because Paul was fierce for Christ, it does not, therefore, mean he was harsh or unforgiving or intolerant of failure. Because he is firm, we have no right to say he was short-sighted, you know, he was too stoic.

Nonsense. He's led by the Spirit. This was the right decision. You can read when Mark drops out in Acts 13, verse 13, continuing now in Acts 15, verse 39, Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.

Now, it's not a demerit on the life or a blemish on the ministry of Barnabas because we don't hear any more about that ministry in Cyprus. But it certainly is a star on Paul because we hear a whole lot about what's coming when he and Silas, it starts out, they hit the ground running. Timothy gets brought in, you know, they just start preaching the word everywhere.

He catches a few beatings in the jail, casts out some demons. Man, it's a blur. If you took a picture of Paul, it would be blurry.

It was in constant motion. So on the heels of a great victory from Jerusalem, they suffer this split. Barnabas was the one, as I mentioned, who brought Paul to the apostles and brought him to Antioch. Barnabas stuck with Paul through thick and thin up until this point.

But they're going to get back together. Barnabas was the one to whom the Holy Spirit said, separate to me Barnabas and Paul. He wasn't, not to Barnabas, but he was the one addressed along with Paul. Incidentally, the Holy Spirit did not say separate to me Barnabas and Paul and John Mark. So, you know, we see these little, you know, hiccups and thank you Lord that these men weren't perfect, yet they continued to serve with a ferocity that we all admire. They had to have said, you know, what next? We just, you know, struggled against Peter coming up and that whole drama that unfolded up in the church in Antioch. We had to go down to Jerusalem to get this straight and now we want to go out and do the good thing. I've said to the Lord, Lord, I have asked you, I have made good prayers to you.

And that's not boasting or it's not arrogant. It's true. If I pray for a lost soul, you're going to tell me that's not a good prayer? And, you know, you struggle with this and the answer is always, this is war. This is the fight under the curse.

It's not, this fairy tale land, that comes later when we get to heaven and it won't be a fairy tale, it would be a reality. So, great. First the contention with Peter and the Judaizers and now with each other.

No one saw this coming. Barnabas and Paul were men of both of them. Deep conviction. And if you're going to, if you have a conviction, at some point there's going to be a conflict with someone who has an equal conviction, opposite of yours. I, neither one was wrong if led by the Spirit. However, if they were just being stubborn, which I don't think they were, then that would be a problem. And I say that because there are people, the Christians, that are just stubborn. They know they're wrong but they're not going to let you get the satisfaction of winning an argument. They'll stick by a wrong thing rather than say, I admit that was not right.

It is, listen, if you do something wrong and you know it, the faster you can make it clear, the better. But if you sit on it, I'm not going to tell them, I'm sorry. Cutting off your nose will spite your face as the saying goes.

Kind of a grotesque thing but it's a good one. Well, Paul, without hesitation, and Barnabas you could say too, they were willing to sacrifice their dear friendships because of conviction. Because they truly believed this. And they were not going to allow friendship to stand in the way of ministry.

This is an important lesson. Again, so long as it's in the Spirit, of course they got in the flesh a little bit when they're yelling at each other, screaming, that's not love. Paul, when he wrote 1 Corinthians 13 on love, he knew about how difficult it is to love when the flesh is working against you. Whatever delight hell got out of this split was very short lived. Now there'd be two ministries for hell to have to deal with. Satan would have to dispatch troops to deal with Barnabas and Mark on Cyprus and he'd have to dispatch troops to deal with Paul and Silas and be defeated all the way. Scratching his head, why don't these boys stop preaching?

How many beatings do I have to give them? You can't stop, you can't beat Christ out of such believers. Paul will later write of Barnabas after the church at Corinth years later is started and established when Paul writes his first letter and he's defending his apostleship because there are those troublemakers in that church. He will say 1 Corinthians 9, 6, or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? The implication is Barnabas and Paul are still tent-making for Paul, whatever Barnabas is doing, and being attacked for it and likely they're working together. Concerning Mark, Paul will write to the Colossians, first to the pastor there, Aristarchus, I'm sorry, he will write to the church at Corinth, Colosse. Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you with Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, about whom you received instructions, if he comes to you, welcome him. Man, you just, you know, the ministry continued going forward. Their relationship was restored and it was used. It wasn't just a handshake, okay, we're past that bygones, it was, alright, fine, that was that, this is now, let's go on together and continue to serve and Mark becomes, he gives us the gospel according to Mark.

God used all these things to shape these people, may we be more gracious and kind with other people. Verse 40, what Paul chose Silas and departed and being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. No mention of commending Barnabas and Mark, I don't think because the church was against them, I think Barnabas probably left in such a quick, fine, I'm out of here. And they didn't get a chance to put the blessings on him. They woke up the next morning and said where's Barnabas and Mark?

They're already gone. Verse 41, and he went through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches. Again, ministry goes on and it expands. What was Paul going to say when he gets to these churches in Galatia that he and Barnabas started? When they said where's Barnabas? I think he would have said he's off to Cyprus with Mark preaching the gospel.

That's what he would have said. Man, Lord if we can just be more like the ideal. Strengthening the churches, churches like people, like bridges, they will weaken without reinforcement over time. You cannot build a bridge and say we'll never have to check it again. You'll have to put a lot of work into keeping a bridge a bridge.

The elements alone will wear it down and it's the same with people. Cilicia was known, well Cilicia is in Tarsus and along that coast, historically, there are a lot of pirates. Piracy was a big problem. A lot of people moved inland to get away from the pirates. Well Paul, when he makes this trip now into Galatia, he's coming through Cilicia.

They're inland on the Roman roads. It's a safer route and those churches there, we don't read about churches starting there. The only evidence we have of churches being in Cilicia is that Paul was there before Barnabas brought him to Antioch.

So that is just wonderful. Paul does not return to Cyprus. This is important. He does not return to Cyprus with Silas because Mark and Barnabas were there and that would have been a stroke of the devil to have competing ministries. And this is something that some people have no problem with. They think that it's okay to come and steal people from your church to their programs or whatever.

It's the devil at work. For 2,000 years, I'm almost done, 2,000 years, churches have been strengthened because of this trip of Paul and Silas. It says here that they went out to strengthen the churches and now we have the Philippian letter, the Thessalonian letter, the Corinthian letter directly because of this trip.

So we're going to get to this trip in chapter 16 where these churches are being born. So I close with this verse and one comment. Paul will write to the Philippians, I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to suffer hunger, both to abound and suffer need.

He is saying I serve Jesus Christ through thick and thin. Let's pray. Our Father, may these lessons not go to waste in our lives. We fear having those instructions from your word and encouragement from your spirit.

We fear that they would rot on the vine. We want to see an end for the fruit of our labor and we are totally dependent upon you for these things. In Jesus' name we pray.

Amen. 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 / 2023-02-20 10:30:25 / 2023-02-20 10:39:13 / 9

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