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Christians vs. Culture (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 22, 2023 6:00 am

Christians vs. Culture (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 22, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Paul comes up in there preaching another king, Christ. There's going to be a cultural clash.

There are going to be problems. Now, the city is, of course, close to the sea. The Roman roads lead in and out. It is a good place to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He mentions we were staying in that city for some days. Once again, Paul knew where to be. This is where he was supposed to be right now. And he is going to squeeze out of this every drop of ministry that he could. We are in the book of Acts again. And before I start, I'd like to say it is part of the role of the pastor to put a congregation to work when he preaches. To stir you up, to cause you to rethink and to provoke you to think again and again about some of the things you've learned.

Perhaps you have some unlearning to do. Either way, I hope I put you to work in that sense. We are going to consider verses 11 through 24. But we will only read verses 16 through 24. So if you have your Bibles, please turn to the gospel according to Acts. The gospel according to Acts.

Chapter 16, verse 16. Now it happened as we went to prayer that a certain slave girl possessed with the spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune telling. This girl followed Paul and us and cried out saying, these men are the servants of the most high God who proclaim to us the way of salvation. And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.

And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates and said, these men being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city.

And they teach customs which are not lawful for us being Romans to receive or observe. Then the multitude rose up together against them and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in stocks. Christians versus culture. That's what we are also going to consider. But we back up now to verse 11. And if you remember from our earlier consideration in chapter 16, Paul received a vision of a Macedonian man calling for him to come over to Macedonia and help. And so he leaves what we know as modern Turkey and crosses the sea and arrives in what we know as modern Greece.

Philippi ultimately. And there's where we pick it up. Therefore sailing, verse 11, from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samotris and the next day came to Neopolis. Now they landed at Samotris to avoid travel at night by sea.

The whole trip is going to be about 120 miles. It says here straight course. Well, this time it was. Not always is it a straight course. These little things stick out to us from scripture. Sometimes in serving the Lord, it is a straight course. Acts 27, though, where Paul will suffer yet another shipwreck.

We read when he had put to sea from there, when we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary. Yeah, that's life. That's life in ministry. And the difference between life and ministry is one counts forever and to the good.

The other doesn't count so much to the good. We Christians are hopefully supposed to make this life count for the Lord. That's one way we glorify him. In verse 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony.

And we were staying in that city for some days. When Luke writes, he's done his research well. He puts these little things in there that are very important. They were important to him and the Holy Spirit, and they should be important to us. This is about 20 years after Pentecost, about 20 years after Christ ascends to heaven and, you know, the cross, the resurrection and the ascension. And they arrive where the vision had directed them to be.

They are compliant with the Holy Spirit. But this place, Philippi, named after the father of the one called Alexander the Great. There was a famous battle in this place that has a lot to do with Western history. Augustus, Caesar and Mark Anthony against Brutus and Cassius, and they were two big battles and ultimately Augustus and Mark Anthony prevailed. Well, this being a Roman colony, as Luke points out, that's significant too. Populated by Roman citizens, retired military would have been there. People not born in Rome, many of them, but were soldiers and were given citizenship, were able to avoid taxes. They had a lot of perks. This was Rome away from Rome, and it functioned as a military outpost. All that to say, these folks were loyal to Rome. And so when Paul comes up in there, preaching another king, Christ, there's going to be a cultural clash.

There are going to be problems. Now the city is, of course, close to the sea. The Roman roads lead in and out. It is a good place to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He mentions we were staying in that city for some days. Well, once again, Paul knew where to be. And this is where he was supposed to be right now. And he is going to squeeze out of this every drop of ministry that he could.

He tended to do that wherever he went. I hope that all pastors try to squeeze out of ministry every drop of importance given by God to them that they can. And I would like to see that be the case of every Christian, that we squeeze out of our lives service unto the Lord that is meaningful. That will include much as that is not meaningful to, but such is life.

We overcome that and keep going. In verse 13, and on the Sabbath day, we went out of the city to the riverside where prayer was customarily made. And we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.

Well, of course, they familiarized themselves with the city. And one of the things Paul would have done right away is, well, where's the synagogue? Well, there was no synagogue in Philippi.

There was not a large enough Jewish presence here in this city. You need 10 men to start a synagogue, and they didn't have that, 10 Jewish men. And that's why the women are, he sat down and spoke to the women.

There were no men to speak to. And these were women who believed in Judaism. None of them yet believed that Christ was Messiah, but by the time Paul gets through, of course, there will be those who will.

So no official synagogue, and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. This would form, in Paul's heart, a beautiful memory that will last probably the rest of his life. You say, well, how do you know that? Well, 10 years later, thereabout, when he writes the Philippian letter, he brings this up. And he brings it up in a very dear and human way, in Philippians chapter 1, beginning in verse 3. And this is, the church at Philippi was one of the good churches in the New Testament. There were bad churches, and there were good ones.

And it's always nice to come across one of the good ones. Well, anyway, he writes to them, he's in jail, and he's writing to this church that he started, and we're reading about the start of this church here in chapter 16. He says, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Well, it gets a little bit sweeter. Always in every prayer of mine, making requests for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.

That gives me goosebumps. You know how hard it is to maintain a good relationship in ministry over the years? And here he writes to this Philippian church that has grown by this time, by the time he writes the letter. And he says to them, I remember that first time with you. I remember that time by the riverside, when it was just the women. And we came and we preached Christ, and we got a participation prize.

A beat down. That was the participation prize of Paul and Silas. And we'll talk about why Luke and Titus and Timothy escaped the beating. In verse 14, now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Boy, there's a lot here. This certain woman named Lydia heard us. When she woke up that morning, she had no idea she'd end up in what we know as the Bible. As a hero of the faith. As an extraordinary character in scripture. More people know Lydia by name than the emperors of China.

Than most of the Caesars of Rome. Because she's faithful. Because the Lord opened her heart. She was a seller of purple from the city of Tyre. They're kind of cute how that sounds, these outside selling purple to people. But here she is 230 miles from her home in Thyatira, which is far even by today's standards. Now the purple, to sell purple dyes and purple goods, these are expensive items back then.

They'd have to squeeze the dye from shellfish. And it's a big deal. This is one of several indications. She had money. She was well to do.

She was an established business woman. And here, her success in the world did not interfere with her desire for God. In fact, her desire for God just increases. She and those in this group, those of her household even, will be the first converts of Paul and Philippi and on European soil.

There are others that are in Europe that were there at Pentecost, but these will be the first converts straight out hearing the gospel in this part of the world. Now there is going to be eventually a church in the city she is from, Thyatira. It will later become riff with immorality and idolatry, and it will garner the Lord's severe rebuke. And you can read about that in Revelation chapter 2. It is a scathing rebuke on that church for her alliance with iniquity, for her appreciation of leaven in the local church.

And the Lord wasn't having it. It says here that she worshiped God. Well, that's usually a designation according to how the New Testament writers wrote that she was a convert to Judaism. She was a Gentile, like the Ethiopian eunuch, a Gentile who became converted to Judaism, and then, like the Ethiopian eunuch, she is going to be converted to Christ. She's going to find out your Messiah has come, and his name is Jesus of Nazareth. Well, his name is Jesus, and we know him from Nazareth.

It says the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. We know God looks for open hearts, and it is, you know, we want our hearts to be open to him, but between the world and Satan and ourselves, there is conflict and struggle. Well, just face it. Don't let it knock you out of the fight. You can overcome it.

Many have, and many are, and many do, and many will. This heart, however, has to be unlocked by us. We have the power to lock God out of our hearts. And thus, the important statement to the church at Laodicea, I stand at the door and I knock. Well, why doesn't he come in?

Because he's not going to intrude. That door is a barrier between he and they, and that was a whole church. Well, we are called to preach, all of us. We are called to preach to the whomsoever's, whomsoever will. God is long-suffering, willing, that none should perish. Again, we read that God desires all men to be saved.

That's what God wants, but that's not what men want. The disciples of Jesus, they themselves were instructed in the Old Testament by Jesus himself, and yet, that still wasn't enough according to Jesus. It wasn't enough that he taught them. There had to be more, and it took a special act of what you could say was an inward opening of their hearts before they could grasp the deeper truth. Not that they're not talking about salvation. We're talking about understanding the scripture to be useful to God. It does not come automatic, and if you think it comes automatically, you're puffed up with pride. You think that there's just something about you that's so special, and that is not the case.

It's actually quite the opposite. Paul said, I count all the things from Judaism that I learned in the scholarly schools as rubbish for the knowledge of Jesus Christ. So we read, to back up my statement, or to tell you why I make these statements, Luke 24, verse 45, speaking of Jesus. And he opened their understanding that they might comprehend the scriptures. This is after the resurrection.

They had been with him for three years, and it wasn't enough. And so he opens up their understanding. When Paul preaches here in Philippi, Lydia heard, and she believed, and she was baptized, immediately putting her house at the disposal of Paul and his entourage, but not without a highly significant act from God. None of that would have happened without this one thing that we have recorded here in verse 14.

The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. Not enough to hear. You have to heed. You have to act. You have to be moved. Peter said, I won't stop stirring you up. You may have heard these things many times, but I'm going to repeat them, because you need to be stirred up.

All of us do. Lydia was not too depraved to receive the gospel. I don't believe. I know a lot of good brothers and sisters believe that, but I vehemently disagree with them with respect. I do not believe we are too depraved to respond to the gospel, as God would never say to us, come let us reason. There would never be these invitations given.

It wouldn't make any sense. But anyway, I don't want to take up too much time going on that, but I do believe that she needed the Holy Spirit to get to the next level of her faith, as we all do. And we need refreshings from the Spirit of God as the years, because the scripture can become old to you. As the human nature, familiarity can breed contempt, that saying. Well, there's truth in it. You can be so well read in the scripture that it's no longer exciting you.

There, you better learn how to fight. You better learn how to overcome that, because that will swallow you up, and you would end up being one that used to be on fire for the Lord. This I'm speaking from experience, and I have great righteous joy in overcoming that little tidbit of nonsense out of my own flesh.

Well, again, we can reason enough to receive the gospel message. We cannot go far, though, into the faith without the divine openings of our heart. Second Peter, chapter three, Peter said, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You've got to grow in this. Nothing grows automatically except trouble.

Bad things seem to grow automatically, but the good things, they take work. Second Timothy, chapter one, Paul writing to Timothy, he says, therefore, I remind you, stir up the gift. He is provoking Timothy in a positive way, stirring him up to work, to think, to apply himself, and not take it for granted. Well, you know, I laid hands on Timothy earlier.

He's good. That is not what is happening. He says, therefore, I remind you, stir up the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. And can we appreciate this? Do you appreciate the reality of these things? I hope they're more than just Bible stories for ancient Christians, from ancient Christians.

I hope they're things that are real to us, that we embrace and are going to do something with. You know, well, let's take verse 15. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. So she persuaded us. I like how Luke adds that because he's part of the party.

Thus, he's using the pronoun us and we. Paul knew that baptism by water was something commanded by Jesus Christ for those who believe in Jesus Christ. However, he also knew it was not essential for salvation. And so he writes later to the Corinthians, he says, for Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. Otherwise, you have people just saying, well, I was baptized. I don't have to. I don't have to receive the preaching and the lessons of Scripture and grow in the grace and knowledge and be stirred up. I'm baptized.

I'm good. Do we not know of people who think that way? Someone sprinkled water on me when I was an infant. Well, infants can sprinkle water on themselves.

They don't need any assistance. And so that's nothing to boast about. If you're going to boast, boast in this, that you know the Lord, that His grace is upon you.

And that's not from a position of pride. You know, you can't say I'm so unworthy. Imagine if I said I'm so unworthy I can't preach. I would be telling the Holy Spirit, your investments in me don't count.

I'm so unworthy. You see, that kind of mock self-loathing doesn't work well for Christ or anyone else. We need to be able to understand, you know, God's given this to me, whatever it is that He's given to me, and I'm going to stir it up.

I'm going to put it to use. And I will not be puffed up with pride, and I will not allow these things to dim, which is one of the lessons behind the articles that the priests had inside of the tabernacle, the clippers to trim the wicks so that the lamp would burn brighter and other tools they had. Well, anyway, you know a tool that we often miss that was a part of the temple worship? Buckets. Who hauled the water that was for the laver, for the priest, before they could go into the holy place to minister every day? Somebody had to haul that water, and they had to have something to haul it in.

And, you know, same thing. You go to a church. Who cleans the church? Who does the work in there? Who takes the cobwebs away in the bathrooms? And who refills the hand sanitizer and puts tissues out for people?

Who's doing this? Levites. New Testament Levites.

Servants of the Lord belonging to a royal priesthood. Well, what if, what if this apostle Paul, who is saying, I believe in baptism. He's going to baptize these folks. He believes in it. He understands its theology. And he's also a man led by the Spirit. Not just, well, I know the Bible. Who needs the leading of the Holy Spirit?

I don't think any sane Christian would say that. Paul was prohibited from going to Bithynia and to Asia Minor. We read about that last chapter, last section of this chapter.

And what would have happened had he gone anyway? Well then, what about Philippi, and Thessalonica, and Berea, and Athens, and Corinth? These places he's going to hit. God's not unmindful of the places when he forbade you. I don't want you taking the Gospel there.

I'll deal with them later. Remember, Lydia is from Thyatira, which was in one of the regions that Paul was prohibited from going to. God can reach people from cities anywhere they are.

He doesn't have to have us, but he wants us. And so, in the book of Acts, we have watched disciples wait for the Lord, and then God used them. Those who wait upon the Lord. How long? That's my problem with that verse.

Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Well, what are we talking? Months? Years?

Couldn't be talking decades. The main thing is God being submitted to. Well, her household here, that would consist likely of family members, servants, and or slaves. They're not always the same thing. They could hire people who weren't slaves, and she could buy slaves in those days. And, you know, that's not always a bad thing, because a slave on an auction block could end up in the wrong household, or the good one. So let's not be too puffy with this.

There's a lot more to it, but that's the gist. The entire household is baptized, and we see this in the book of Acts, and we say, why is that? Well, because the hand of God was sweeping through desperate hearts. Hearts that were open to him. And if we don't see it today, it's not God's fault. It's not God's fault that we have a culture that is more interested in selfies than selflessness in Christ.

Where are the broken and contrite hearts that would come to Christ? 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 / 2023-02-22 06:42:28 / 2023-02-22 06:51:59 / 10

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