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Christians vs. Culture (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 23, 2023 6:00 am

Christians vs. Culture (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 23, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


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. 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. Now here's Pastor Rick with his continuing study called Christians versus Culture in Acts chapter 16. 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 when 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 any, as our, the human nature familiarity can breed contempt. We, that saying, well there's truth in it. You can be so well read in the scripture that it's no longer exciting you and that 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. 2 Peter, chapter 3, 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. 2 Timothy, chapter 1, 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. 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 a 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 priests, 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, the 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 forbid 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 young adults, you young teens, what are you going to be for the world? You're going to get sucked under by the gibberish that they spur out when it comes to rejecting Christ? You see, the world can be very solid in a lot of areas, very attractive.

You go off to a university and you're learning a discipline, you can be very impressed by things, and you should be. But when they mess with Christ, it's on. You don't put up with that. That's called the sacredness of God. No man has any right to attack the God of truth.

We arrive at this conclusion that he is the God of truth by examining what he has to say about himself and history next to it and other things. Psalm 51, the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. On these, God, oh God, you will not despise. Yeah, the person that's going to stand up in front of God and say, I am a sinner. I break your laws. I'm messed up like that.

I need you to help me. That's the one God will take in. But the one that says, you know what?

Do you know who I am? Yeah, I know where you're going. She begged us saying, if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. Well, who would say, no, you're not faithful. I mean, she kind of, the way she worded it, the way Luke has it is she cornered them. I mean, if you think I'm faithful, then come to my house.

Well, you're not faithful when I come to your house. She had this hunger and thirst for righteousness that Jesus spoke of years ago on the Sermon on the Mount. So she persuaded us, he says.

What a beautiful persuasion this is. They said, yeah, of course. You know, if I were in that crowd, I would say, I don't know.

What am I going to eat? You might be bad at cooking. But that's why I wasn't there. One of the reasons why.

The other reasons are my parents' fault. Anyway, verse 16, now it happened as we went to prayer that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us who brought her masters much profit by fortune telling. On the way to church, that's where they're going.

Now it happened as we went to prayer to the assembly, the local assembly. This girl that has a gift from hell. Satan can gift people too.

They're not good gifts ever. She served hell's purpose by just cheapening the gospel message. The only thing she brought was leaven, an element of corruption. She is an unauthorized speaker of God's truth. Deuteronomy 18, verses 9 through 12, we won't take the time to go over it, but it just lays out what God thinks about this kind of behavior in a human being. If the demon that possessed her is allowed to tell about Christ, what will he tell?

Because eventually he's going to pounce. By his nature, by his nature of being an enemy of God, this is what an unholy alliance looks like, one of the ways it looks, and it is always harmful to the righteous. This girl was a slave, and Paul made no attempt to do anything about that, as it was with Onesimus, as it was with the slaves that would have been in the house of Lydia, if there were, and there very likely were. The apostles made no effort to deal with social problems, only with spiritual problems, which deals with social problems.

This is very important stuff that I'm telling us. Man's first sin separated man from God. That was a spiritual problem. Man's next sin episode recorded separated man from man, when Cain murdered his brother, because his brother did church better than him.

Cain murdered Abel because Cain had a spiritual problem, which showed up in a social environment. A social gospel puts the cart before the horse. A spiritual gospel gets it where it should be, and the social gospel is mainly concerned with human relationships, human with human, and God can be, you know, maybe he's optional. And the apostles, they knew better, and so they always dealt with the spiritual problem, understanding that if you want to change the way people think about life, if they're thinking in a negative way, then you've got to change the way they think about God.

It's got to line up with the revelation of God, which we call the Bible. Now there is a social side to the gospel, and many missionaries have been pioneers in dealing with social problems, but always with the spiritual up front. Otherwise they just become, you know, what is the profit of man if you gain the world, lose your soul?

Always build hospitals, orphanages, leper colonies. Dr. Paul Brand, if you read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made or In His Image, those are two books, Philip Yancey and Paul Brand. It's remarkable how devout a Christian he was in India dealing with leprosy patients, and how for him everything tied into the Lord. All of his work, the primary, however, is to win souls, get a person right with God, and they will soon do better with men.

Unfortunately there are imposters, and if you lack discernment, even if you're just a good person, you can miss it, and we pray for discernment, spiritual discernment, but there are a lot of fago Christians out there that pretend, that pretend to be right with God and trustworthy individuals, and they are not. Jesus said, you'll know them by their fruits. Well, when enough people get saved, the conscience of a society is awakened, and social reforms follow. This is historical.

This is fact. When enough people are anti-Christ, the conscience is seared, and society plunges into debauchery, and we're looking at this globally now. Thank you, Internet. I mean, the Internet's good things.

The other day I couldn't find my keys. I Googled it, and I'm good. So there are good things.

I don't want to say it's all bad, but, you know, be careful. Are you at the Tower of Babel, or are you just using knowledge as a tool instead of knowledge using you? It's a very easy thing for a Christian to absorb information, Bible data, without the Spirit and become a know-it-all and a pain in the neck versus one that is abiding in Christ. Let's go on to verse 17. This girl, remember she's demon-possessed, 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. Well, I get a little bit ahead of myself, but you know, once Paul cast his demon out, there would have been, if this were today, somebody in the church would say, why did you do that? They were preaching the Gospel.

They were helping us along. They just don't get it. And so when the Holy Spirit says, do you understand? Do you get it?

Whatever the topic may be, it's a serious moment for us because if we say I'm not getting it, well then work hard in the Spirit to get it. Don't just think that, oh yeah, I got it because I'm just all of that. I'm just intelligent. You could get straight A's in school all your life and still be the dumbest Christian that ever set foot in the church.

You can't, Jesus said, without me you can do nothing of any value to him. Well, this is devil-made. This messenger is a false messenger and she inserts herself, she's last, she's probably 12 years old or something. She doesn't know what's going on, but the demon does and he is able to speak through her. And she joins, mingles herself in with the preaching of the messengers who are true, which will muddy up everything. Starting from her, the truth of the gospel was being lined up with those who are anti-Christ.

That's why they're going to get the beating in this. Well, these men are, she says, these men are servants of the Most High God. Now, we Christians read this and we think, oh well, she's preaching, you know, it's the gospel. Wait a minute, how do you know she's not talking about Zeus? You're not specifying what god.

To a pagan, to an idolater, their gods are most high also. You see, that's part of the problem. She doesn't know what she's talking about. How would the people listening to her receive this?

Well, they would probably think she's talking about Zeus. There's not enough detail, not enough information here to let us know exactly what Paul was preaching, which is, nor is there salvation in any other name, for there is no other name by which we must be saved. Well, regardless, she was filled with an unholy spirit, an impure spirit, a dangerous spirit, both to the soul and the flesh, says, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.

That's what she said. They're telling us how to be saved, these guys. She echoed what they were preaching. They didn't need her to do that. They didn't want her to do that.

They certainly did not need to have her validate what they were saying because she was a local, therefore she can endorse them. There's a problem. And if allowed to continue, their message and the perception of their ministry would have been corrupted. The devil infiltrates churches just like he infiltrates the hearts of anybody he can. And he does it by gaining trust.

He comes in and he nests and he sounds, the words that he says sound like they're true until you begin to press the matter. And an alliance with evil is corruption of good. And so Paul will write, had already written the Galatians, a little leaven, a little bit of corruption, a little bit of that thing that will spread and take over, ruins the entire thing.

A little leaven, leavens the whole lump. That is a doctrinal position. And if you think that, oh no, as long as they put Jesus' name on it and I feel good about it, it's okay.

No, it's not. What's the Bible say about it? You have people rolling around on the floor, barking like a dog, saying this is the Holy Spirit. Somebody ought to throw ice water on them. First off, who's getting the attention when they start such theatrics? Is Christ now the center of attention in that assembly or are they? Yeah, but it feels good. May the Lord rebuke that spirit. If that's your criteria, if that's your criteria for truth and obedience and serving Christ, that it feels good, you're out of line because this caning that they're about to receive ain't going to feel good. And what did they do to deserve it? They confronted the culture of the world that is in opposition to Christ. Who needs Christ if men can create cultures that are acceptable to God?

Well, they can't. Paul couldn't put his finger on it, but this irritated him, verse 18. 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.

And she did this for many days. Even the great apostle was hard to determine sometimes who's demon-possessed and who's just evil and who's just dumb, who's well-meaning but wrong, who's right, something that's not always black and white. King Manasseh, look at the evil he did, but there's no mention of him being demon-possessed.

He was just evil. And yet here's this lass messing with the preaching. That's the devil's work. The devil, you know, he has his people that can inflict harm like, you know, your Adolf Putins and things like that. But he also has those that can just come and spoil the gospel.

And that's the one he values the most. And so this is a righteous irritation. But Paul, after many days, greatly annoyed, is like, duh, I should have got this.

This is the devil. And once he comes to that realization, he acts upon it. It can annoy a pastor when believers are wowed by ministries in Jesus' name that do not adhere to Jesus' word. And it does annoy a pastor when it's, oh, you got to just read this book, you got to see this, you got to do this, I don't have to do any of that.

I might, but I don't have to. And pastors, they are often turned on for not putting up with such things. As somebody would have said, what could be wrong with that? She's preaching to God. He's helping them.

No, she is not. Today, the news media would spin this whole thing to say that Jews come into town and take the livelihood of a hardworking man. And then that's how they would have spun it. Well, anyway, it says that he turned and said to the spirit. Now notice, he's speaking to the spirit, not the girl. When Jesus raised a little girl from the dead, he said, little girl, I command you, rise again. This, being the antithesis, he has a lass who is demon-possessed, practicing channeling the spirit world, speaking through her.

And Paul addresses the spirit, the demon. 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 / 2023-02-23 06:23:30 / 2023-02-23 06:33:03 / 10

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