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The Beloved Paul (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 13, 2023 6:00 am

The Beloved Paul (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 13, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Pastor Rick Gaston

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The arrogant mind says, no, no, no, no. I've got to do something. I've got to show how worthy I am and look at me. I've done this.

I've got that. And so, yeah, I am saved. But the Bible says, no, it is not of works.

It is a gift of God. 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, here's Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts, chapter 15, as he begins his message, The Beloved Paul. We are in the Book of Acts, chapter 15, verses 6 through 21, beginning in verse 6 of Acts, chapter 15. Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. When there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them, Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose us that by the mouth of the Gentiles should hear the word of the Gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they. 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.

And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, listen to me. Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 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, so that the rest of mankind may seek Yahweh, even all the Gentiles who are called by my name. Says Yahweh, who does all these things known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

There's a lot there, but I hope it helps as we begin to open it up. The title of this message is The Beloved Paul. I wanted to name it The Beloved Jew, but I felt that might be taken the wrong way when you see it posted online.

And I'll try to explain that as I go through this. Paul, he feared that these Judaizers would have ruined the work of the Gospel and reversed the gains that he had made up in Antioch. Now the Judaizers were those Jewish Christians. They were Jews ethnically and religiously who believed that Jesus was indeed their Messiah, the Son of God. And they had a hard time understanding how the Gentiles could also receive their Jewish Messiah without first becoming Jewish. So when Paul was bringing Gentiles into the church based on faith, they objected. And they said, no, no, their salvation is invalid until they become Jewish. And for the men that meant that they had to be circumcised. That also meant that they would have to go on and obey, honor the Sabbath and the dietary laws, etc.

Of course, many of the rabbinical rules would make its way into that also. Well, Paul saw that for what it was and went ballistic on it. And they called a council here in Jerusalem to get to the bottom of it. When Paul arrives in Jerusalem, he first gets with Peter, John, and James and sort of finds out where their head is, tells them where his is and finds out they're in agreement with him.

So he kind of goes into this meeting knowing where the leadership is. But there's a multitude here of these Judaizers, again, the Jews that receive Messiah but cannot understand people being saved without becoming Jewish. And this is what the big conflict is about. Had they won the Judaizers, then Christianity would have been rendered a sect of Judaism and we would have no Christianity. Paul put the kibosh on that way up in Antioch when Peter and Barnabas began, you know, they're not hanging out with the Gentiles because James sent men up there from Jerusalem and it caused a problem and Paul wouldn't let them get away with it and thank God for that. It took a lot of guts on Paul's part to go to his two friends, Peter and Barnabas, and say you men are wrong and you should know better and this is unacceptable. And it took a lot of guts on the parts of Peter and Barnabas to say you are right and we're going to fix this.

So that's some of what's going on. A bad doctrine had attacked the Gentile converts and this was bad doctrine. And if someone did not do something, then the devil would have won.

Christianity, as I mentioned, would have been absorbed into Judaism and become just a mere sect of Judaism. So here we have Christianity outside of Jerusalem up in Antioch suffering because of Christianity in Jerusalem. And these lessons for us are this.

It is a knockdown, drag-out fight here. There's not this well-choreographed Christian faith that we expect all the time. We meet with things that make no sense, that are harmful, that are heartbreaking, but they have to be met with nonetheless. And we look to the Bible to learn how to handle these things.

The lessons are coming out of this. God wanted Paul to settle this at Jerusalem and we know that because Paul writes about it. And I believe the Galatian letter, and I'm going to approach it that way, that was written probably just before the end of this meeting and right before it because as Paul talks in the Galatian letter, the dots connect very easily actually.

But he mentions this. He says, And I went up by revelation, that is to Jerusalem, Galatians 2 to 2, 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 so when he says there, I went up by revelation, he's saying, God led me to go up. God did not say, you know what, these guys are wrong, be done with them.

God said, they are wrong and you need to go settle this. And so he goes to Jerusalem and he communicates to them the gospel, the leaders. He said, listen, this is what I'm preaching.

I'm not asking your permission. I'm telling you what I'm preaching. But he also says, Paul, that he met privately, James, John, Peter, and perhaps some others, he says he met with them, lest by any means I might run or had run in vain.

Imagine if you lead someone to Christ, let's just say in the workplace or at school, and then within a few weeks a Jehovah's Witness comes along and seduces them over to the Jehovah Witness heresy. You would say to yourself, you know, was my work in vain? I still believe what I believe. I'm not backing down.

But what a waste. Your faith is not in vain, but your labor would have felt like it was in vain. And that's what Paul was facing. All this work, am I going to have to deal with this? Have I brought these people to Christ just to have these other ones come and make everything difficult?

And I've got to start back at the beginning? What we can rule out is that Paul, we can rule out that he doubted. He did not doubt his position, his doctrine. We know that, again, from the Galatian letter when he writes to the churches in that region that he and Barnabas had established churches, he wrote to them about their backing way because Judaizers had made their way there too and started their trouble.

And as we talked about last week, don't be them. Don't be that person that comes into a church and starts trouble like these Judaizers did. Well, here we pick it up in Galatians chapter 1 and verse 6.

We get to understand what's going on in Paul's head. He says, I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another. But there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed as we have said before. So now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you received, let him be accursed. Paul is saying, I don't care what the apostles are saying, I'm an apostle too.

And they would be wrong if they tell you you've got to be Jews first. And we covered some of that last week, how that would have upset everything in the Gentile world. Again, imagine telling a convert to Christianity who's a slave, now you have to get circumcised or you can't be saved. And then he says, well, if I get circumcised, my masters might kill me for being incapable of performing my duties or beat me.

I can't do that. And Paul, through the Spirit, had the insight to know that the ritual was going away and someone had to do something. And it was this beloved Jewish Christian, Paul. And again, he wanted to make sure that they understood his side.

And he also wanted to know how much work he had ahead of him. He would go to his grave in conflict with these false ideas and others. They would not go away. They would continuously invade the church to this day. Christians are so quick and now probably more than ever because of the internet, they can just go online and find out what somebody else believes and try to drag it into their church and get them to believe it. And in these things, personally, I never read Christian comments on the internet. It just never, I never leave happy. And there's so much, why can't the church, the local church just lock it down and be this fierce machine of the gospel?

Why does it always have to become bloated? Well, because there's a real devil and there's a real flesh. And Paul did not say, why does it have to be this way?

I'm done. He doesn't do that. He stays focused and he continues with his work and we love him for it. Paul is the beloved Paul to us because he's such a tiger for truth and love. And now we look at verse six because there's a lot more to say about what he is doing. Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. Well, the apostles held the authority, but Paul is one of them. God is overseeing this, of course.

They're not going to break ranks. They're going to, the apostles are going to stay shoulder to shoulder on this. And Barnabas and Paul will present their position to the other, the multitude of leaders who were the Judaizers, understanding that Christianity is irreconcilable with everything else. There is no other religion. There's nothing else to add to Christianity. We have no preservatives necessary. There are no soybeans, cereal or meat byproducts that we want to inject into our faith.

It is good the way it is. And if you can look at the New Testament and you can say, and God saw that it was good, Christianity is irreconcilable even with the old covenant on many points. And we have to talk about these things. Second Corinthians, chapter three, for what is passing away was glorious. He's talking about the Old Testament, Paul is.

What remains is much more glorious. Now he's talking about the New Testament. God called it. This is God's work of development in the scripture. It doesn't mean that the Old Testament is less the word of God.

It just means that it is now subject to the New Testament word of God, all of it being his. And again, the Galatian letter deals with this very thing, as does the Hebrew letter written at this time. Otherwise, why would Paul leave out what Peter and James concluded? He would have put that in the Galatian letter because it would have been very helpful. So they had to have written it just before this meeting really takes place. Well, verse seven, and when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them, men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us that by the mouth of the Gentiles, that by my mouth, pardon me, I think I misread that in reading also, that by my mouth, the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

Well, there's a passionate debate and lasted for some time. And that's why he says after much dispute, it's a good thing Peter was there. It's a good thing he is on point.

And it's a good thing that he is that natural leader that he was. Peter settles the whole thing. James comes and adds to it, but it's done when Peter's finished speaking. Paul again had already dealt with Peter on this very matter. And here Peter makes the necessary corrections as found in Galatians 2 11 and advances with the truth.

And he does it very gallantly. It's hard to be corrected, is it not? For someone to come and say you're wrong and then you find out you are wrong.

And then to be able to make corrections and move forward now. A lot of people hold grudges, which is not Christian. If you're not ready to forgive people, be ready to not be forgiven. That's the teaching of Christ. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

If you do not forgive men for theirs and your father in heaven, you're going to have to deal with him. Pretty serious stuff. So all of Christianity is serious stuff. There was a game that was out years ago called trivial Christian pursuit of something. And in a lighthearted way, I would disagree with that title. There's nothing trivial about Christianity. There's nothing trivial about the New Testament. A lighthearted way against the game. And if you have the game, I'm not saying go out and burn it.

Give it to me and I'll do it for you. No, no. Anyway, every time we hear Peter speak in the book of Acts, we are very impressed. I wish that could be said about us and me. I wish I could say that, hey, every time I speak, you know, it's impressive. It's not realistic, but it is nice to see that about Peter. He is referencing the conversion of Cornelius, the Gentile, and the Jewish witnesses were there to see that happen. So let's develop verse eight.

Peter still speaking. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He's talking about the Gentiles. God saw their faith, not their religion. God is not poised to condemn us. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Psalm 86 5, the psalmist writes, For you, Lord, are good and ready to forgive.

That's what makes him good. One of the many things. And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you. Well, out of the mouth of Christ himself, John 3 17, for God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might believe might be saved, he says.

And the world is just that the world. If it were anything else, he would have said so. It says God acknowledged these Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit. Well, that should have settled the whole thing. Cornelius was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit and his Gentile family without becoming Jewish.

That's the point. They didn't have to climb up steps on their knees. They did not have to put offerings in the box to be saved. They just had to believe in Jesus Christ.

And that's what they did. Peter is pointing this out. And so he says, just as he did to us, Peter says it's a fact. It's a fact that they were could they became Christians without Judaism. By the law comes the knowledge of sin. The law does not give us the knowledge of salvation from sin. For that, we have to come to the cross. That's why the sins of the Old Testament are referred to being covered, not removed. And when John the Baptist said, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, that is held in contrast to the rituals of the Jews that only covered the sins.

And so our Lord, he takes them completely away. Verse 9, and made no distinction between us and them purifying their hearts by faith. So proving the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant, we turn to the Old Covenant so that we learn that this is what God had in mind. Jeremiah 31, 31. Behold the days of coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a New Testament with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. And so Paul writing about this in Hebrew says in Hebrews 7, 27, by so much more Jesus has become surety of a better covenant, which is the New Testament, a better covenant because it's God's plan. And we Christians need to be clear on this. There's not little stuff.

It's not sideline stuff. This is a big part of our doctrine. Do you understand what God was doing when he gave the Jews the Old Testament after the Gentiles were already believers?

You say, who? Enoch, Noah. I mean, technically, even though the Hebrew line was being established. Then we come to the New Testament and we find out God is right on schedule and I need to get on that schedule and not the old one purifying their hearts by faith. God took his covenant to another level. See, we like to say that when we see someone with an extraordinary skill, right? We say, well, he just took it to another level. Well, God has already done that with his word. When he took it from the Old Testament that was announcing the coming of the New Testament, when we talk about the rites and rituals speaking of Christ, that's God announcing that he's got something else coming and it was perfected in Christ.

Without diet, without Sabbath, without circumcision, Ephesians 2, we know this verse, for by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. The arrogant mind says, no, no, no, no. I've got to do something. I've got to show how worthy I am and look at me. I've done this.

I've got that. And so, yeah, I am saved. But the Bible says, no, it is not of works.

It is a gift of God. The only work that the Bible teaches that allows us to be employed in our salvation is the surrender of faith. John's Gospel Chapter 6, Jesus answered and said to them, this is the work of God that you believe in him whom he sent. John Chapter 839, they answered and said to him, Abraham is our father. And Jesus said to them, if you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.

Well, what is Abraham known for? Faith. Faith, he's the one unwavering faith. You get to Romans 4, Paul just brings that faith. Abraham did not waver in his faith. Faith.

It is a big deal. And if someone tells you, well, we're too depraved to have to even respond to the Gospel, say, show me that in the Bible. Because it's not there. I would not be told to come and reason if I could not reason. If I were already elected to be saved, I wouldn't have to reason. If I was not elected, it wouldn't matter if I reasoned. And so you say, well, now you're going at Calvinism.

Yeah, I am. I don't apologize for that. They go at me. It's just that they're wrong, I'm right. And we all know it. And we love me for it. Unfortunately, it ain't that way. Unfortunately, passions run deep and are problematic. And so I think it is the role of the pastor to make his position of inscription very clear to people.

So no one has to guess. Verse 10. Now, therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we are able to bear? Well, primarily, the rabbinical laws overruled the Mosaic laws. The rabbis wrote so many rules to go with the rules that the people were just overwhelmed. And that much of what Peter is talking about has to do with that, but it also includes some of the Old Testament laws. Matthew chapter 23, Jesus speaking. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders.

But they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Many of these Judaizers were Pharisees. All of them were influenced by Pharisees. And God broke the yoke of the law because grace is better. Hebrews 6.

You know, it's interesting. David understood. King David, a man of the law, understood grace in its New Testament form.

He just was so far ahead. He could see the character of God. Well, Paul writes again in Hebrews, speaking of Jesus, he is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. You're getting the doctrine of no nonsense with false teachings. You won't find it. If you did doctrine of no nonsense on false teachings, you did a search on that, you probably wouldn't get anything. That was in quotations, Lawrence. But this is what we're dealing with. Paul is not putting up with nonsense. And he doesn't care. He writes about that in Galatians.

I'm not a respecter of these people. Whoever these pillars were, if they're wrong, they're wrong. 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 Cross Reference Radio dot com. That's Cross Reference Radio dot 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 Cross Reference Radio dot 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 / 2023-02-20 09:45:25 / 2023-02-20 09:54:55 / 10

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