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Skilled Christians (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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December 20, 2023 6:00 am

Skilled Christians (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 20, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


The devil has us anti-missionaries. You know, if you make a tank, a war tank, somebody's going to come up with an anti-tank response.

If you make bombers, airplane bombers, someone's going to come up with an anti-aircraft response. This is war, and it's true in Christianity. If you follow the Lord, if you become a moving target, the enemy will try to come up with ways to bring you down nonetheless. 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 message called, Skilled Christians, in Acts chapter 17. Paul, reasoning with them from the Scriptures, was successful with those who spiritually reasoned through it. And he was telling them that Christ has come. He has fulfilled many of these prophecies, and no one else can. And to this day, the Jew cannot, the Messiah cannot come. Because how would you tell he's from the top tribe of David? All the records are lost.

That window of opportunity has come and it is gone. Christ is either the Messiah or he ain't coming, according to your Scripture, is what Paul could have said had he listened to this sermon. Verse 3, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead and saying, this Jesus whom I preach to you is Messiah.

Remember the Greek word Christ, by the time it gets to the English, and it's the same as the Jewish word Messiah. And explaining and demonstrating that Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead. So he's expounding on Scriptures.

He's opening up. He's taking a verse and he's applying its meaning. He's saying to them, Jesus not only fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, but he also fulfilled the Old Testament types. And the types were that which illustrated the great truths of Christ's coming. And we know he did this because when he wrote the Galatian letter, which was already written by this time, he does the very thing.

He says, Hagar is a type of the flesh. And he says, Sarah is a type of the, you know, and he goes into how Christ has put it all together for the Jews. And you can reference Genesis 3, which is the, you know, the seat of the woman, which is the virgin birth. Genesis 22, the offering of Isaac. Psalm 22, Psalm 69, Isaiah 53, Jeremiah 31, Daniel 9, 26, Messiah being cutting off, and then, you know, the end times prophecy, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Zechariah 9, 9, Zechariah 12, 10.

It's just on and on and on. The Old Testament scripture verses were available to him and these are the very things he was preaching. But the cross, which offends sinners, it is supposed to offend sinners because sinners are guilty. Everybody's thinking about, I'm so offended. I'm so, what about God? Does God get to get offended at anything? God is offended.

And the cross is an emblem of that, part of that. Matthew 11, 6, and blessed is he who is not offended because of me. And so when a person is offended by Christ, they're in trouble. But when they're not offended and they see their sin, they are going to be blessed. That's not entirely what that verse means, but that is an application of the verse.

The cross is an offense to sinners, but more importantly, sinners are an offense to God. And so when Luke says, and saying, this Jesus whom I preached to you is to Christ, now I'll open up a little bit why they were offended. So he's saying he's the one, he's the chosen one. He's distinct from everyone else ever born, ever known to man. That's what Messiah means, distinct, the anointed one.

Over the anointed kings and anybody else. Paul made it clear that he has come, but because Messiah did not remain, many of the Jews refused to believe. They knew the prophecies concerning Messiah's suffering.

Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, for example. They knew those psalms, but they also knew of his glorious kingdom. And that created a problem if they weren't putting the pieces together. They could not, or they would not, understand the gap between the two events, the coming of Messiah and the second coming of Messiah. And so they rejected it all. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.

So Paul was fully aware of what was going on. And just because he knew what was going on and had the skill to deal with it, does not mean he could save everyone. Even Christ could not save everyone.

Not according to how he has set things up. Free will gets in the way if you're not careful. A crucified Messiah was a stumbling block for the Jews. His cross is a statement to humanity. You can't understand that statement if you don't open your heart and see what the scriptures are saying. The statement is, one of the statements is that man is a moral train wreck before God and therefore unacceptable to God, unworthy of Him.

That man needs a Savior. This is the Christian message. And you know, like I know, when you share the cross with somebody, if they don't have a need for their sin to be dealt with by one who is sinless and greater than them and eternal, then they're going to stay a sinner, lost in their sins. Both Jew and Greek alike at this time did not think they were as bad as Christ was making them out to be. They were worse than what Christ was making them out to be. And Isaiah had already called that when he said, your righteousness is like filthy rags to God. Don't be bringing your righteousness up to God.

It's a sham. And here in Thessalonica, converts were made of the believing Jews, the Gentiles, and the pagans because of the preaching of the word of Christ. And when the Gentiles from outside the synagogues began to come in, there's a lot of conversation on why they believed what they believed from the scripture. In verse 4, and some of them were persuaded, and a great multitude of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women joined Paul and Silas. Now these are the ones coming out of the synagogue, not yet the ones that he writes to the Thessalonians about how you turn to God from idols. These are the ones that are already turned from the idols to the God of Moses and then realize that the preaching of Paul, hey, wait a minute, the Messiah that Moses and everyone else is preaching is Christ.

We believe it. Well, they weren't made to feel comfortable in the synagogue any longer. He persuaded them by preaching the word with reason, not with persuasive words, trying to impress them with his, you know, vocabulary and his, here's what he writes to the Corinthians, in my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. So he says, when I preached to you, I preached to you the truth on the anointing of the Spirit, and that moved your hearts to salvation.

I wasn't there trying to impress you or trying to trick you or compete with other thoughts. I laid out the truth. Then he writes to the Thessalonians, this church that is being born in this chapter, in the second chapter of Thessalonians, he says, because when you receive the word of God, which you heard from us, you welcomed it, not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. These are the kind of things we want to say to unbelievers. It's so hard to reach them.

Don't be discouraged. Just double down, circle the wagons, ramp up your prayer. Again, as I said Wednesday night, if you hear things from a pulpit and you say, boy, I wish, I wish I could say that to so-and-so, I wish so-and-so could be here to hear that, then double down on your prayer life on that particular item too. Begin to pray that, Lord, help me bring them to church. I used to love bringing people to church.

Now I've developed an uncanny way of chasing them out of the church. To the Jew, the cross was an emblem of sin because the Old Testament said he who hangs on the cross is accursed and Christ was accursed on the cross for our sins. He took our sins on him, the sinless one becoming a sinner on our behalf. To the Romans, it was an emblem of utter defeat. How could you have a Lord, how could you have a king that allowed himself to be crucified after he professed all these things?

They couldn't figure that out and they needed someone to help them. So when you say the shame of the cross is against who he confessed to be, you would go to the Old Testament and say no because the Old Testament, the Bible said this would be the case. Isaiah 53, he was wounded for our transgressions. He was crucified for our sins. He wasn't crucified so that he could set up his kingdom immediately on earth. And you've got to understand this timetable of God.

It says a great multitude of devout Greeks and not a few leading women joined him. Again, they love, they gobbled up the truth. They saw the puzzle come together and they said, okay, we're going to do something about this. We're going to line up with this truth.

We're going to set our lives in order behind this truth. And the proof of that is just in his letter to the Thessalonians where he applauds their Christianity. Verse five now, but the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace and gathering a mob, set all the city in uproar and attacked the house of Jason and sought to bring them out to the people. Well, these are those that not only rejected the message, but they hated it.

They saw it as an opponent, a competitor, and they weren't going to stand for it. You're seeing a lot of this in India now. The Hindus are just becoming more and more intolerant of Christianity.

Nothing new about that. But Isaiah prophesied about this very thing. And maybe Paul read this to them. Isaiah 65 too, I have stretched out my hands all day long to rebellious people. He's talking about the Jewish people as a people, not individuals, who walk in a way that is not good according to their own thoughts. And so he says, I reached out to you, but you just rebelled. And he will further to tell how he's going to, they're going to be envious when other peoples begin to come to Christ.

And that's what we're seeing happen here. And so it says in verse five, they took some of the evil men from the marketplace. So the devil has us anti-missionaries. You know, if you make a tank, a war tank, somebody's going to come up with an anti-tank response. If you make bombers, airplane bombers, someone's going to come with an anti-aircraft response. This is war, and it's true in Christianity. If you follow the Lord, if you become a moving target, the enemy will try to come up with ways to bring you down nonetheless. Satan is not going to say, boy, they're really dedicated. We should leave them alone.

That's not going to happen. It would be the other way around. And so the whole book of Job was that story. Took some of the evil men from the marketplace. Now if you have the old King James translation, it is far more poetic. Lude men of the baser sort. I'm glad we don't talk that way today, but I am glad I know how I have that memorized.

It's so poetic. They're lewd men. These are foul creatures. These were thugs. They had nothing to do with religion. They'd do whatever you wanted them to do if you paid them.

Gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason. This is hell at work, and the truth of the gospel, as Jesus promised, would bring division, and we're looking at it, but it would also bring converts. It would be worth it. Maybe you're going through stuff in your life, but you're still serving because Christ is worth it. He is worthy. Whatever you're going through, he is worthy of my loyalty and devotion, and whatever I'm going through does not kill that.

If you get sick, you end up in court, lose your job, whatever it may be. We don't disqualify him and say, well, he can't be my God anymore, because if he was my God and loved me, he'd protect me from everything. That's not rational thinking. The Gentiles might have had that argument, and they may have said, well, what does your Bible tell us about that? And you would just simply take them to Genesis chapter 3 and show them the consequence of a cursed world, because God wants a people who will love him by faith.

The angels can't do that. They have seen the throne of God. They are in heaven. They have seen God. We have not, and yet we know him, and we love him, and the angels, we have no knowledge of them suffering like we do for the kingdom, and that's why Paul says we will judge the angels.

I mean, in that contrast, we'll be so stark that it will be a blessing. Well, the truth of the gospel brought the division. Jason, he is being persecuted because he housed many of Paul in his party.

It costs something to belong to Christ. Just that little experience that Jason is going through here. Here he is minding his own business before Paul gets there. Paul shows up, marks from the beating in Philippi, still on him fresh, and Silas. He goes into the synagogue. He begins to preach. Jason is moved by what he hears, and he becomes an ally, and because he is an ally with Christ now and Christ's servants, the mob attacks him. It costs something to belong to Jesus, and if it doesn't, maybe you've got homework to do. It says, and sought to bring them out to the people.

That's Paul in the company. Going back to Thessalonians, here's what Paul had to say about his time there. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our gospel to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.

He says, hell can't stop us. This man is skilled at being a Christian because he's been responsive to the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit told him to do something he didn't want to do, he'd do it because he was under orders. Earlier in Pisidia Antioch, he suffered persecution in Iconium, in Lystra, Philippi, Damascus, yet he still kept going. How much of Paul was hated by hell?

Every bit of him, and that's true for any believer. Just because we don't read about the exploits of Peter and John doesn't mean they weren't out there doing things too. Verse 6, but when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, these who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Well, here's where, you know, they didn't find them at Jason's house. That's why they targeted him. These agitators identified who believed in Christ and who didn't, who received the message and who did not.

Well, someone pointed it out to them, so they're just acting on that information. It says, these who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Well, word began to circulate that there was a new faith in town, and that people were abandoning idols. You can't have a statue of God. You can't have a statue that you pray to thinking that's going to get you to God. The just shall live by faith. And we walk by faith, not by sight. And all the Old Testament is this war between those who wanted to pray to figurines and pictures and statues and stuff versus those who were obedient to God when he said, you shall have no images like that before me. Well, it's still happening. Satan, again, does not have to come up with new tactics because the old ones worked just fine. And he can't come up with a tactic that can silence skilled Christians. And so they are accused of turning the world upside down.

In Psalm 146, it says, after the blessings, it says, the way of the wicked, he turns upside down. So who's upright and who's not? Well, look at history. Look at the news. Look at the entertainment world and the people in it.

Look at politics. The world is not right side up. We have no history of the world being right side up except everything that happens before Genesis 3. Two chapters of the world right side up.

And the rest goes south after that. Sin did that to mankind, to humanity, and makes fools of all of us. Are there churches opposed to turning the world upside down?

You can answer that. We know that many churches and Christians are asking the world how to succeed and not coming to Christ. They get a big problem in their life. They don't go to the church and ask the pastor, Lord, you know, either pray for me or what does the Bible say about this? Because that's really the extent of a pastor's counsel. This is what scripture says. It says of the Lord Jesus and the Godhead that they are the wonderful counselors.

We defer you to them. From this pulpit, counseling happens every time the pulpit's turned on. And it just comes from scripture. The Holy Spirit knows how to come next to you, single you out from everybody else in this room, and He can do it. He does it. He does and can do to everybody at the same time.

Single each one out and point out the things that is between them and Him. Just based on what the pastor's saying. And the pastor doesn't know this. This is the genius of the church.

Because, again, you're not going to get that at Wawa. Contrary to Caesar, verse 7, Jason has harbored them, they said. He's taken care of them.

That's what a harbor does, it takes care of. And these are all acting contrary to the decree of Caesar saying there is another king, Jesus, in verse 7. So contrary to Caesar, here we go again, same kind of junk that he faced at Philippi, although Jason's facing it.

Who knows where Paul is at the time. So they politicized religion so they can outlaw this religion. And it was pretty complicated in those days. They're essentially accusing them of sedition, going against the government, because the social life, the political life, and the religious life of the Romans was all interlocked.

You could violate one without violating the other two also. And so when another religion is preached that's not sanctioned by the state, by Rome, then you're attacking the political and the social and the Roman government. The Jews got a pass on this overall. Sometimes they were pressured, but Rome looked the other way with the Jews. The Christians aren't yet being persecuted because Rome hasn't figured out yet that Christianity is not a part of Judaism. At this point, the world thinks Christianity is a sect of Judaism. Once they find out how what, these are two different religions, they're not reconcilable, then they will ramp up their attacks on Christianity and the persecutions will come and many will die. Men, women, and children because of their faith. These fellows here are saying they're attacking our religious element that belongs to the social and political and you know if we let this keep going it's going to just ruin Rome. Well, we don't date our checks by Rome, do we? Who won? So, again, to voice support for a king other than Caesar alone was a capital crime.

It wasn't as stark as that, but they're trying to make it be so. The first message of a Christian was the first. I think when I go back to my salvation, I think of my realization that he is king of kings. He is Lord.

That was like the first I was wrong. He is the ruler. I am the creative subject under his authority. Now I didn't articulate that way, but instantly I knew Christ is king of kings. And this has to be our message, the first message of the church. Jesus is Lord, nobody's like him. It's in the distinction. The title is Lord, the name is Jesus, what is the distinction?

And you should know this if you've been coming here, Christ. His anointing distinguishes him from everybody else, as I mentioned earlier. And so, Christ enthroned is the first message of the church to a world that has Satan as their God, and they don't even know it. I don't believe in Satan, but they serve him. Then you have Christians who say, I believe in Christ, and they don't serve him.

Kind of paradox here. Second Corinthians 4, speaking of the world, he says, whose mind the God of this age is blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. To say that Christ is the image of God is the same thing as saying he is equal with God, which is just flat out stated in the Philippian letter, because he is God the Son.

He is a member of the triune God that we understand from the scripture. Verse 8, and they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. Well, the mob succeeded in getting local government against the Christians. The Christians are going to get wind of this, the other Christians, and they're going to get Paul out of the city before he suffers like he did in Philippi, or maybe worse. Verse 9, so when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. Bail was posted, in other words, to pressure them to come back for a hearing and get their money back like it is today. The world, the world understands guilt by association.

That's what's happening here. Jason, you're guilty. You didn't preach these sermons that Paul did. You didn't bring the church here. Paul did, but you are associated with him as an ally.

Therefore, we're going to get you. The world understands guilt by association. How many gullible Christians apparently don't? They think that they can associate with things that Christ has condemned and not be soiled by it. It's called spiritual discernment, and those that don't have it don't have it either because they think they have it and they're just proud and arrogant or not well trained in scripture. They don't understand it.

They'll just leave it there. I have spoken with Christians who like bad ministries and at the same time have both said to me that they have the gift of discernment and lying, incidentally. You also have the gift of lying. It's not a lie if you didn't mean to tell her, right?

It's just not true. Either way, we stir up ourselves with these truths from the scripture and hopefully they will be used for the kingdom. 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 / 2023-12-20 06:10:55 / 2023-12-20 06:20:42 / 10

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