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Skilled Unbelievers (Part B)

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

Skilled Unbelievers (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 22, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
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Doug Agnew
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Pastor Ernie Sanders
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Dr. Stephen Davey
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Jan Markell

It's your call, Christ-less man. You can either listen and examine it, reason and believe, or you can reject it.

It is up to you. But if you're going to reject it, may it not be because you are intellectually dishonest, which I think you have to be. I think you have to lie to yourself to reject the gospel message.

I think because it forces you to face who you really are. The gospel message comes out and says, you're messed up before God. You are a sinner. 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 part two of his message called Skilled Unbelievers in Acts chapter 17. These Jews heard what Paul had to say about the Messiah from their Old Testament, what we call the Old Testament, it was their covenant, and they went and checked it. They considered the scripture the final authority on what God was doing in matters of life. And as genuine believers, they searched the scriptures, and this should be the case with genuine believers to this day. This should be the case with anybody who hears the gospel.

Well, let me see that in the Bible, what the Bible has to say about it. They would look up Paul's Old Testament teachings, his prophecies, and his types. Now, I mentioned types last session. The Old Testament types in the Bible are events or persons or facts that correspond with a New Testament person, event, or fact. And to give you two examples, Isaac being offered up by his father Abraham is a type of the father offering up his son Jesus Christ on the cross for us, the heart of the father to part with the son on behalf of the Godhead and humanity as it expands, the type expands.

The type only captures a part of it, and then the truth begins to expand. So Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. Well, Lot had to be extracted from Sodom and Gomorrah before the judgment came, and this is a type of the rapture of the church which precedes, immediately precedes the great tribulation period. The believers have to be extracted before the judgment comes, and so these are types, and they're all over the Old Testament. And Paul would have taken types from that Old Testament and said, this is speaking of the Messiah, because look at his life, look what happened. Here it is in the Old Testament. He would not only do types, of course, prophecies and just direct teachings also. And the types make it interesting.

They cause the imagination to work in its proper form, not creating imaginary things, but to have the imagination begin to think it through – very effective to this day. Verse 12, therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks' prominent women as well as men. So he's very effective in the church at Berea amongst the Jews and the Gentile converts to Judaism, because when they heard him preach, they went and checked it out. Well, isn't that one reason why we bring our Bibles to church, so that we can get our head in it too? We're not just being preached down to.

We're all part of this experience of God's word. What did they believe? Well, the same thing he preached in the other synagogues. The same thing he preached to the women in Philippi by the river, the same thing he preached in Thessalonica, the same thing he's preaching here, because he doesn't have to come up with new things. He has to give them fresh experiences in the existing things. It is a mistake to always crave something new.

That's having your ears tickled. And that's one of the problems that he's going to face here amongst the intelligentsia in Athens, but he's not there yet. So both experienced – the Jews in Thessalonica who did not believe, the Jews in Berea who did – they both experienced the same teachings, like the story of the outlaws on the cross.

They both experienced the same things, had the same observations, but they came up with drastically different conclusions. It's your call, priceless man. You can either listen and examine it through reason and believe, or you can reject it.

It is up to you. But if you're going to reject it, may it not be because you are intellectually dishonest, which I think you have to be. I think you have to lie to yourself to reject the gospel message.

I think because it forces you to face who you really are. The gospel message comes out and says, you're messed up before God. You are a sinner. You break his commandments and there's no escape. That's it, unless you submit to Christ. All our righteousness, filthy rags.

You know, if I say, you're dirty, so that's a bit harsh. Well, that's what the Bible teaches. The Bible doesn't have any kindness towards sin. It doesn't wink at it. It confronts it. It's very difficult for some human beings to have that happen to them. Who likes criticism?

Raise your hand. I love – well, I don't mean the giving. I mean who likes being criticized for anything? Years ago, I was an inspector in construction industry, and I would inspect welds, welding, you know. And those welders in that particular union were very proud of their work. They took a lot of pride in it. And if you joked about who did this, oh man, you better get ready because they did not fool around. And you know, when I use these stories, I forget why I was bringing them up. I'm just enjoying it.

I'm seeing the faces, and the experience is real again. But the criticism, you know, they didn't want that criticism. They worked too hard for you to come up and say this is a fail. So I learned not to joke with them about their weld.

Holding me off the edge of a 40-story building was part of the incentive that they did not. Anyway, these Bereans leave us an example. And not only believers.

They leave Christianity an example. If you're going to be guarded against heresy coming from a pulpit or a radio program or wherever else you go, if you're going to be guarded against it, you're going to have to search the scriptures. You have no choice if you want to be protected. Do diligence. Investigate and then act on your findings. Pull the trigger on your choice.

Do something with it. Verse 13. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the Word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Well, before I comment on verse 13, I have to go back and add verse 12 as a kingpin verse.

You could take a whole morning session and preach on it, but I just wanted to give the overview of the importance of searching the scriptures to see if things are true or not because the scripture is the foundation of our truth. Now, coming back to verse 13, the spirit of Antichrist, hard at work, sending out his workers, again, some 40 miles, three days journey from Thessalonica to Berea, just at the word that, hey, Paul left here and he's doing the same thing in Berea that he did here. He's making converts. Well, Satan wasn't going to take that lying down. The devil hates all human beings. The devil hated Hitler and Stalin and all the rest of the evil people. He hates them too. He just finds them useful to him.

He hates the good and the bad alike. And the world doesn't know this. They won't stumble into it. It's up to us to engage them, to tell them. And we'll come to that when we get to some of the differences, and it doesn't take much, between street evangelism and face-to-face, person-to-person Christianity.

With that coming attraction, you can see which side I lean on. Well, again, they hated Paul preaching. They hated the success of it. And they did all of this without even caring to look in their Bibles to see if he was right or not. And that's why Luke put verse 12 in, in search of the Scriptures, to verify it. And this is a repeated story to this day, even in Christian circles. Verse 14, then immediately the brethren sent Paul away to go to the sea.

But both Silas and Timothy remained there. So they're going to sail them away to Athens. Jesus said in Matthew 10, when they persecute you in this city, flee to another city.

There's a time to run and not just be a pin cushion or a punching bag for the devil. I'm sure Paul was saying, oh, I'll stay and trust the Lord. And others were saying, listen, Paul, you'll be more effective for the kingdom if you can speak to people and not just die or just spend all of your time recovering from your beatings.

If you want to be effective in the Gospel, we've got to protect you. Now Titus and Luke, where are they? Because they were part of Paul's entourage earlier. Well, they're still back in Philippi. The church there, that fledgling church, needed leadership.

And the story reads, highly likely, that's where they are. Paul and Titus will rejoin later. And Paul was in the habit of dispatching men. At some point we may cover that. How many men he would send here and send there. There's still other able men that will be drawn to him. And we don't hear a peep about them. Huh?

Go back there? They just seem to just be off and running, with the exception of Apollos, who's an eloquent speaker of the truth. He's going to push back a little bit. And it's very subtle. And so is Paul's satire. Paul says, oh, he'll come when it's convenient.

We'll get to that later, not this morning. But here is Silas and Timothy. As Paul left Titus and Luke in Philippi, he leaves Silas and Timothy and Berea. And when he gets about 300 miles to Athens, when he gets there, he's going to send for these men.

He can't do without them. But he is careful to leave leadership because he understands, if there is no shepherd, the flock will be devoured. And in the sense of, the heresies will come in. The false teachings will come in. And one of the proofs of this is John's letters dealing with Gnosticism that had invaded Christianity. And now it's gone.

We've got other problems. But anyway, verse 15, so those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens, and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed. And so there you go. These guys that conducted Paul, they were trustworthy and able men, also protecting him physically. They arrive in Athens together. And when he gets to Athens, he's going to send back to Berea for Silas and Timothy to come with him with all speed. Now, I'm sure there are names left out. We know, because it tells us right here in verse 15, that there were those who were with him, but they're not named. So he must have had a good amount of men attracted to him to serve Jesus Christ by serving Paul. And it just, as we go through the New Testament, it just, to me, is very beautiful. Anyway, blessed with trustworthy and able men, he dispatches a courier to Berea to bring them to him to catch up.

They don't catch up until he gets further into Corinth, it seems. Anyway, stout-hearted men who could keep ranks. That's in the Bible. That's in 1 Chronicles chapter 12, when it talks about all the warriors that came out to say David is king. It says, you know, stout-hearted men who could keep ranks. They would not flee and run when there was pressure on them. They were brave and they were disciplined. And you can't do, what can you do with people who are not stout-hearted and can't keep ranks? You can keep looking for those who are stout-hearted and can keep ranks.

That's about it. Don't devalue that. Ask yourself, am I, who am I? That's what the Bible is, one of the reasons behind personal devotion time is you get to look at these stories and you say, who am I in this story? Am I a Martha? Am I a Mary? Am I a Paul? Am I behaving like Peter? You know, get behind me, Lord, you know, say it's not so, you're not going to the cross because you really don't understand what's going on, you say these kind of things. Very valuable lessons here. Anyway, he's leaving Macedonia to Greece, though the Macedonians were Greek, almost 400 miles.

If he were walking, the ship would make it a little faster. Athens, that ancient city, well, we need to open that up a little bit because it's the cradle of Western thought. That's where Western thought was really systematically put together. And it is, you know, the Romans gobbled it up. The Romans came along and they were so impressed with the Grecian culture, they took Zeus and they made him Jupiter.

And they would just take the gods and they'd give them Roman names. But it was, in their mind, they were showing honor and deference to the Greeks. Athens became the school of Greece, and Greece the school of the world, and that is a fact.

And to this day, their philosophers are often quoted and have an impact, and our law students would certainly be looking to how they conducted business in those days also. It was the city of Socrates and Plato. It was the adopted city of men like Aristotle. It's past its glory day here, and 400 years earlier, it was really just humming along.

It's not so much now, but it is still a college town. It is still a big player in the world of academia, that ancient world. Epicurus, who we're going to come to in a moment, he also had made Athens his home. The Parthenon was there, that giant temple to Athena, the Mount Olympus, you know, there's a big mountain there and that's where the gods lived, and it was this jambalaya of man-made gods. In fact, one philosopher of the ancient world said, it is easier to find a god than it is a man in Athens. Paul's going to come across that. I think Hinduism has picked that up.

Everything is a god there too, so it's something that Satan can pull off in other parts of the world. Western philosophy begins and ends with the question. You get into Western philosophy, what is life?

And you've got all this guesswork about it. That's what philosophy is. Human philosophy is just guessing at answers.

Christianity comes along and it answers those questions. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. You want to know what life is? It's me, because there is no life without me. And wherever you go in life, I'm present.

Now I can either be with you or I can be against you, or maybe you can say you can either be with me or you can be for me. No one comes to the Father except through me. I would say that begins to open up a lot of answers about life. When Paul says, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain. What's life all about? What is my purpose here? Well, there's Paul saying, I'll tell you what my purpose is. It's Christ.

It's Jesus Christ to serve Him. Athens attracted those considered intellectual, intelligentsia. And again, not a slight on smart people at all, but you can be smart and dumb at the very same time, or you can be smart and smart.

And the people that I like are the smart ones. Anyway, you can be considered intelligent and spiritually ignorant at the same time. There is something very suggestive about these two words, Greek ruins. You say, you know what, there's a connection there between the cradle of Western philosophy and the city, the ancient city where these philosophies come from are in ruins.

Athens attracted, you know, the people that wanted to be known as deep thinkers. And without ever coming to this conclusion, it seems that mere intellect is no guarantee of perfection. Any more than simply knowing your Bible is a guarantee you're walking with Christ. You can know your scripture, you can know your Bible, and be out of communion with God. Jesus even said, you know, there'll be those that come to me and say, Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name? Which means, didn't we speak the word of God in your name?

Didn't we do miracles? Who's comfortable reading that verse? You read that and say, is it I? Let a man examine himself.

We as Christians, we do this because we know we have a loving examiner over our examinations, and we're not insecure. And insecure people, they become a problem because you can't, you know, they just, there's trouble all the time. You didn't like my new shirt.

Well, I didn't like the old one either, but I didn't say anything. So, you know, they got to have attention. They got to be validated. And to be able to say, you know, Christ, he is my judge. Is that not what the name Daniel means? God is my judge. And listen, it's not rude, like, God's my judge, not you.

It's just, I'm comfortable with God being God over my life. And I want to take some of that and use it so that I'm not a person that's abrasive. There are times we have to be, well, the other side is going to say you're abrasive because you just can't do anything right for them.

But that's not our intention. So, it's not enough to be intelligent. It's not enough to know the Bible. It's not enough to have oxygen.

It's not enough to have food and water and shelter. There are other things, there's a lot of things we need to function properly so one can be knowledgeable about God's creation without knowing the God that created everything. The secular scientists are this way. They study God's creation.

They refuse to say it's his. So, let's go to first Corinthians chapter 2. Now, verse 13 is what I'm going to quote. Verse 14 is the popular one, the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him. But that's not the verse we're going to look at. Verse 13, the preceding verse, Paul says, these things we also speak not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.

Boy, what a mouthful. He's saying we've got God in us. And when he is active, things get done.

He is inactive when we're not cooperating with him. But he is active even if we're enduring pain and suffering and confusion, whatever troubles we're facing and we're submitting to God in the midst of them, God is active, very active in that. So, back to the city that he is in, he's ministering to people who are know-it-alls.

They would put that on their resume, know-it-all. So, again, just to clarify, the essence of human philosophy is human opinion based on human observation. That's philosophy. By itself, that's not enough to be right with God. The essence of faith in Christ is revelation, is God showing man how he is supposed to do. It's not in man to govern himself, the Bible says.

He just can't do it. And even when God is doing it, it's still a problem because of that thing called the curse, the fall of man. And to this day, the essence of true faith is the revelation of God through the Scriptures on the life. And the world hates this.

And we're supposed to help them understand so that they can make a fair choice. Verse 16, now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. And this is why I chose to read this reading over verse 12, which is again a kingpin verse, more noble-minded than those of Thessalonica because they searched the Scriptures. And here, while he's waiting, his spirit is provoked within him.

His heart is breaking. Over what? Places infested with idols. How many cities can you say this about on the planet? How many can you say this about in America? And the number is increasing. It's like a meter of how many places that are given to idols.

They're just totally owned by Satan. It's his territory. Well, he could not sit idle in the presence of all of these idols. What a statement. The city was given over to idols.

Well, so are our cities. It has no reason to go run and hide. What did Paul do about it? Well, he was provoked. He had to do something he felt. Now, I think he learned a lesson here in Athens because he doesn't repeat this again. He goes back to his old-school method of the synagogues.

He goes to the synagogues here too, but he goes outside. So with all these brilliant minds, these renowned philosophers, they had the wrong gods. They couldn't figure God out.

You can't. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The best they could do was make up gods and fail to answer life's great questions. Why am I here?

Where did I come from? Well, we know because we have the book of Genesis. Jeremiah writing to Jewish people who were behaving this way. Now, these Athenians knew nothing about Jeremiah. They may have had some knowledge.

He would have been mixed into the pot with other book writers. But Jeremiah says about the Jews, they have turned to me the back. In other words, they turned their back to God and not the face.

Though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction. These are the kind of verses you write down. 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 / 2023-12-22 08:29:26 / 2023-12-22 08:38:50 / 9

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