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The Beloved Paul (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 14, 2023 6:00 am

The Beloved Paul (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 14, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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So, James based his side of it on Scripture. In fact, he says, I side with Peter and Paul and Barnabas.

This is the final blow. He says God has got this and we must neither fear nor interfere. Oh man, what a lesson for Christians, right? When God is the Holy Spirit is being God the Holy Spirit, we don't have to fear and we better not interfere.

But how many times do we interfere? 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 with his continuing study called The Beloved Paul, taught from Acts chapter 15.

I don't care about their credentials. I don't go to find out what they believe to find out what I believe. I go to find out what I believe from the Scripture. And when I need help, I will consider what others have come across and have articulated to help me understand what's in front of me. But in the end, I draw my conclusion based on what I understand and not what someone has told me. It's okay if they told you what you understand. So if you're here and you believe in Jesus Christ because I tell you to believe in Jesus Christ, we have a big problem. You have a big problem. You have to believe in Christ because you know him, because you've been born again, because you have had direct contact with the one who died for you.

And it's very easy to get twisted up. Well, verse 11, but we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved in the same manner as they. Peter's still preaching. He's saying the same way that Cornelius was saved, same way we Jews are saved, all sinners coming to Christ.

Peter left them no room for outward objection. But again, religious passions run deep and you can prove a person wrong and they won't give, they won't yield all the time to the facts. They believed if you followed the rules, you earned grace and mercy. That is not New Testament teaching.

It's really not even Old Testament teaching. It actually cancels out grace and mercy. It's what David was talking about when he wrote the Psalm 51, you know, take not thy Holy Spirit from me, created me a clean heart, O God. It's just powerful, powerful getting down to the facts of God's grace versus my goodness. I love when David says, remember not the sins of my youth. See, my rituals will not take away the sins of my youth, but your grace and your mercy, they will.

And that's just one of the beautiful parts of that song. True faith, true faith and love go deeper than any religious activity you can come up with. This is the law, that you love one another. That's what Jesus said.

You want me to condense all the law into a sentence? Love the Father, love each other. 1 Corinthians 3.13. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. Where you cannot have that kind of love that profits you unless you have a love for the Lord, who He is, what He says.

You can have, there are other types of love, but that is the agape love that can only come from heaven in a relationship with Christ. And we are strongly disliked for maintaining that position by the world. They will say, oh, what are you saying? Someone like Mother Teresa, you know, is not, yeah, if she's telling people that they can find salvation in idols, then yep, yeah, it's against her too. And they really get upset with that.

But that's what we're handling here. God's grace and love are taught by the Lord in Luke chapter 15. Three parables stand out with God saying, this is love, this is grace, this is God loving you and reaching out for you. There's the lost coin, there's the lost sheep, and there's the lost child. And in each case, they are found. And the one that does the finding is the owner, the father, the shepherd, of course, the woman with the lost coin, and there's the son, the prodigal son that comes to his senses. Circumcision and the rights of Judaism found no coin, found no sheep, and found no child.

Again, this is big stuff to us. If you take this away, what do you have? Judaism.

That's what you have. That's why we want to understand it, make sure we understand Christianity. It is the work of Christ that gets me to heaven, and my accepting that work when it's offered to me. And so Jesus said, and they never forgot it, when Jesus said, unless you repent, you will perish, Luke 13. They never forgot it. Luke wrote it down, because when you hear that word perish, it gets your attention. It's almost like yelling fire.

I mean, it's a serious issue. We are either saved by ritual and good deeds, stacked up as merit points before God, or we are saved by grace, which depends on our receiving the work of Christ and the finished work. Are you taking this message to unbelievers, or am I taking this message to unbelievers? Are we skilled in our faith enough to know that your good works will not save you? But if you are saved, you will do good works. We shall be saved in the same manner as they. What a remarkable statement.

What a remarkable choice of words. It tells us about equal salvation. There aren't two standards. There's not one for the Jew, one for the Gentile. They are sympathetic to the Jews, and that comes out in the end.

We'll get to that. Peter does not say they are saved like we Jews, but we are saved like those Gentiles. There's a lot of them didn't like that.

They had to work through it. This is the last time we hear the voice of Peter in the book of Acts, verse 12 now. Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul, declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles, where previously they said, well, they avoided because they're not circumcised. But now, after Peter saying, hey, Cornelius wasn't circumcised, you all, you know what happened there. Verse 13, and after they had become silent, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, listen to me. Now again, you know, I'm not a big fan of James, but I mean, he's, I mean, that's not to take away from him.

It's just to be, to deal with the facts. I don't think he had to say anything after Peter was finished. But on the other side, after Barnabas, Paul and Barnabas were silent now, they'd given their testimony. This is James. This James is the eldest son of Joseph and Mary.

This is their firstborn. That would make him a half-brother of Christ according to the flesh. And so James answered, Men and brethren, listen to me. Now he probably senses a lingering reluctance. There are times I stand up here and I make points from the scripture and I know they're right. But I can sense resistance all the way from the pews in the back sometime. I can feel it. Hold it. There it is.

No. And I think James, and if you've ever done public speaking, you can sometimes sense, you know, animosity coming out from your audience. You can, you know, it's the way it is. But I think James sensed that, you know, there's this reluctance to submit to the facts. They could not dispute them. Outwardly they were behaving. Otherwise, why add to Peter's statements?

Why not just say the meeting is now closed? So he says, verse 14, Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. Why did he call him Simon or Simeon instead of Cephas or Peter? Well, Simeon was his pure Hebrew name. And James, sensitive enough to know he is speaking to very Hebrew people.

These are the Judaizers. And so he sort of just, you know, speaks their language to them. I think it's a wise move. I think James is very wise. And the conclusion of this will just broadcast that for us. So he refers, James does, to Peter's testimony of God saving the Gentiles. And then James is going to say, and here's the scripture for it, which is in brilliant stroke. Verse 15, and with this word of the prophets, let me reread that, and with this, the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written. Verse 16, after this, I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down.

I will rebuild its ruins and I will set it up. He's using Old Testament scripture to seal New Testament teachings from Peter and New Testament testimony. He's quoting Amos chapter 9.

These guys studied up before they came into this meeting. How do you get such an arcane verse as this to apply to the situation? I mean, I would think of some other verses. But this one is like, really, James?

You must have been in the books to come up with this one. And he's saying saving Gentiles does not mean that God is finished with Israel. God is going to do so.

He's going to rebuild Israel. There's going to be a messianic kingdom. What he is saying is the Gentiles will be saved before that kingdom is set up. And he's quoting Amos to demonstrate that. This is what Amos was talking about. He pointed out that Amos made no mention of Gentiles becoming Jewish converts before God establishes the Jewish kingdom, the messianic kingdom. If Gentiles can be saved without becoming Jews when Messiah comes, there is no need for Gentiles to become Jews before Messiah comes.

It's very good logic behind it. Verse 17, so that the rest of mankind may seek Yahweh, even the Gentiles who are called by my name, says Yahweh, who does all these things. I think, I have no question the Holy Spirit pointed this verse out to James. And he's quoting it more than likely from memory.

Not likely he's going to bring out the scroll and thumb through it until he gets to, he's quoting this. So Amos the prophet prophesied about the messianic kingdom, which included a heart for the Gentiles. Where does that come from in the Bible? Before Amos, well, it comes from a lot of places, especially Isaiah, but Genesis chapter 12. In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

What part of all the families of the earth does not mean all the families of the earth? And how is that blessing so? That means God has made a way into heaven through Christ. And those who, hey, hear the message and don't receive it, well, there are consequences to that. And those who receive the message, there are benefits to that. And so, again, the Jewish believers should not fear what God was doing with the Gentiles by not making them Jewish. That is what James is saying. Verse 18, known to God from eternity are all his works. He thinks his God is never random. He knows what he's doing. I love this verse in Isaiah.

And you will too. That's prophetic. For I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times, things that are not yet done. You know the name Michael means who's my God? It's not a question. It's a statement. It's like, who's my God? Not you.

Not anybody else. That's what that name means. Verse 19, therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God. So James based his side of it on scripture. In fact, he says I side with Peter and Paul and Barnabas.

This is the final blow. He says God has got this and we must neither fear nor interfere. Oh man, what a lesson for Christians, right?

When God is, the Holy Spirit is being God the Holy Spirit, we don't have to fear and we better not interfere. But how many times do we interfere? Well, hopefully it's reduced as time goes on, you learn. You learn that you know it is better if I just let this go. Even though there's going to be a fallout or problems, I'm going to follow the leading of the Spirit and be content with that. Verse 20, for that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled and from blood. Now here's the gift of wisdom.

We're seeing it in action. James says this is settled. They're going to suffer. However, now in Acts, in verse 28, which we won't get to this morning, we read, for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things. And so the conclusion is, God has given this wisdom and insight to the New Testament church. These are not laws for salvation. Make sure you understand this has nothing to do with salvation. This has everything to do with guidelines of sensitivity for or from the Gentiles to the Jews, Christians. Christian, Gentile Christians to Jewish Christians. Because they're Jewish brethren, they were still human and very sensitive to things. And word about salvation would be a longer list, incidentally.

So we want you to abstain from a lot of things. But Gentile Christians should respect Jewish upbringing. The Jews were trained in this from their childhood and to just go to them and say, you know what, I want you to come over to my house and I'm going to serve you some pork burgers or something that I got from the idol factory. No Jew is going to be able to, very few, Paul could say, well, just don't tell me the idol part, but I'll eat it.

Yeah, no problem. Later, Paul will instruct mature Christians about immature Christians and such things as food. And we're going to take the time to read, even though it takes a little guts this morning, looking at my track record, 1 Corinthians 8. But food does not commend us to God. Have you ever met a Christian that tried to tell you, we're dieting, you know, God's way. We're going back to Eden. You can't even find Eden.

What are you talking about? And they're going to, you know, well, you know, if you eat this way, you live longer. Look, I know people eat pork living to 110 years old and still playing soccer. Okay, that's a stretch.

The fact that I mentioned soccer is a stretch, but it makes me get baseball next time. Anyway, coming back to this, but food does not commend us to God, for neither if we eat are we better, nor if we do not eat are we worse. But beware, lest somehow this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to those who are weak. For anyone sees you, who having knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols. Okay, I don't want to turn this into an exposition of Corinthians right now, but Paul is saying this. You stronger Christians, you know, down at the idol temple, they butcher so much meat, they don't want to throw it away after it's, you know, been used in their rituals, and some have taken it home.

They have this excess. I mean, a big cow gives a lot of meat. So they opened up butcher shops, and it would sell the meat.

And the Gentile Christians, who were around this stuff all their lives, they get saved in Christ. But to them, it's still just a butcher shop. The fact that they offered it to idols, that's their business, and I'm not offering it to idols.

I want to eat the beef. So a younger Christian comes along, immature, sees the mature Christian doing this, and thinks that the mature Christian is somehow endorsing the idol temple by eating that meat. And then they go in and want to say, well, I'm a Christian, but I can still offer idols, you know, to idols, my old religion. And Paul is saying, you got to clean that up.

You can't do that. If eating meat makes my brother stumble, I will not eat meat again. And so we have the same thing here with the Jews. James and the apostles are saying, be sensitive to their upbringing. These people will, they had learned to hate idols and things offered to them. They had to go to Babylon to find that out.

So let me open it a little more. There are to abstain from things polluted by idols. Again, idolatry became repulsive to them. The Gentiles, not as sensitive, having been around it, and the request asked for a little sensitivity.

Do you think that the Jews, his conscience is just going to agree with you because you've been raised with it? Things strangled. Well, the Gentiles, they preferred the flavor of the meat. If you killed the animal without bleeding it first, they felt that the meat's really good. You know, it's the taste of the blood in the meat.

So rather than cut its throat, they would strangle it instead. And you can refer to 1 Corinthians 10 on that. Sexual immorality. Well, of course, a level of sexual immorality is covered in the Ten Commandments, which we Christians are subject to with the exception of the Sabbath because it's not ratified in the New Testament, the only one of the nine, of the ten. It is nine Ten Commandments.

There's only nine. Anyway, I think this has to do with the Gentiles who may have either flaunted their polygamy because many of them have multiple wives and they come to Christ. Well, they kept their wives or else the church would have been charged with breaking families up. And so this was a difficult time for the Apostle Paul to come in here and sought all this out and maintained the purity of the faith. The Jews would be recoiling at this stuff. The Gentiles had no problem with copulation out of marriage, but the church does. And so there's this clash of cultures that had to be addressed. And so the apostle says, hey, if you got, you know, don't go promoting this stuff around the Jews.

I've got five wives. You should try it out yourself. That would be a stretch.

But that's the idea. Anyway, remember, the Gentile converts were smoldering with the unbelieving culture of the world when they became Christians. He says eating blood. Now some things are just wrong.

Growing up there as a family, they would make blood pudding. I don't know what was in it, but just the name is foul. And there's no way you get me to eat it. Now some of you might have had it and, you know, I'm not saying it's a sin. The Bible is.

Let me get to this. Leviticus 17, whatever man of the house of Israel, whatever man of the house of Israel or the strangers who dwell among you who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and I will cut him off from among his people. Okay, the New Testament comes along and says, all things are lawful for me, but not all things are edifying for me. And I will not be brought under the power of any.

So there's just more to it than just the raw law. However, we get the mind of God on eating blood. And Paul knew these were not commandments, but they were intended to soften the blow of the conscience in the Jews as the Gentiles flooded into the church. 1 Corinthians 9, to the weak I become as weak that I may win the weak.

I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some. He's not saying I sin because that helps people come to Christ. Or I toss away the idea of, we talked about this Wednesday, things being sacred. There are some young men especially I think are more prone to this, but they want to act like there's nothing sacred.

All's cool. Some things should be sacred to you. Some practices should be avoided by you. There are some things you should not want to go, you know, blow bubbles in the sanctuary of your church because you think it's cool. Or you're trying to demonstrate that, you know, see it's not a sin to do anything, whatever.

I hope you're following, running out of time so I'm speeding it up. It is not cool to be sacrilegious. And you and I both know as we read our New Testament what becomes sacred to Christ. We don't make jokes about the Holy Spirit. We don't take the cross lightly.

These things are sacred to us. And we should communicate that to the world rather than saying to the world, see, you know, we Christians don't have hang-ups. Yeah, we do have some hang-ups.

We have quite a few of them. One of them is we don't like seeing people go to hell. That's a hang-up I have. You want to fault me for it? Well, you're probably going to go to hell for that. No, you're not.

You're not. Verse 21, for Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. And so he says, listen, there are Jews everywhere. And you can't just live this way and not expect human nature to become a problem because Satan's going to use it. And so, in closing, Acts chapter 15, when they sum it up, he says, if you keep yourself from these, you will fare well.

Otherwise, you're going to have problems. And then we'll close with Galatians 5, 13, to prove that Paul understood liberty, but he also understood responsibility and the laws of God. For you, brethren, have been called to liberty, only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 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 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 09:54:56 / 2023-02-20 10:04:21 / 9

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