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The Religious Wrong (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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December 27, 2023 6:00 am

The Religious Wrong (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 27, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Pastor Rick Gaston
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Well, we sing the song, Nothing in My Hands I Bring Simply to the Cross I Cling. I mean, God doesn't have needs. He has wants. There are things He desires.

He desires all men to become, to be saved, for example. We don't have to have that. And here, you know, why would you think a God who could create the universe would need something? He just created. Well, if He needed it, I sure need an apple.

Well, just create one. I mean, so the logic, He's trying to reason with men who boasted of being rational. 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 in Acts chapter 17 as he continues his message, The Religious Wrong. Verse 23, For I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship. I even found an altar with this inscription to the unknown God.

Therefore, the one whom you worship without knowing Him, I proclaim to you. Now, he's trying to identify with them. I think there's some over-identification, at least a lesson for us to be careful about identifying with those who have wrong views about God, because he's not going to have a lot of success with these folks. Now, that's not necessarily to charge Paul with wrong, because when he gets to Corinth, in fact we don't read of him using these tactics again.

I'll cover that towards the end. But here he says that there were many objects of their worship. That's their idols. All of them wrong. The world is irritated by that. What do you mean, they're all wrong?

Yeah, that's exactly what I mean. I don't have to agree with them because they don't like my position. I can tell somebody who has lost, I don't agree with you. I agree with the Bible. And the Bible doesn't agree with you. It doesn't even like how you chew your food. You can't.

No, that's a little too much. But anyway, a human can worship many things, because he has the capacity to worship. It's built into us this desire to worship God, to know God. But that does not mean that the person will submit to God.

And this is, of course, everywhere. Every idol proves the capacity for God and proves the capacity for sin at the same time. It is most certainly a fact that wrong worship is easy. It is very easy to worship a false god, a lie, something that has no basis in truth. And I have found it is very difficult sometimes to worship the God of truth because of my flesh, not my spirit. My spirit is 100% with God. My flesh is not.

This does two different things. We're dealing with truth, accepting it, receiving it, believing it. God is not going to conform to the imagination of men. Again, the very thing which idolatry is. The world would say, this is very narrow-minded.

And we would say, amen. Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction. And there are many who go in by it, Matthew 7, 13. When it comes to truth, we are to be very narrow-minded. It would eliminate a lot of the weirdness in Christianity if more Christians were a little bit more narrow-minded and say, you know what?

I don't know. I'm not going to accept that. I see that as contrary to what the scripture does. Anyway, so it says, he says, I even found an altar with this inscription, to the unknown God. Well, they freely admitted that there could have been a god they missed. Maybe there's another one out there.

We're picking them up all day. Maybe we didn't get to that one yet. And so Paul sees that, and he says, well, that's what I'm going to preach on. That's going to be my sermon. And it is a good sermon, but you don't want to criticize Paul. Because when you get to heaven, he's going to challenge you to a spelling test and win, because he's real smart.

But at the same time, you can't dismiss certain things that are there. That's why they are recorded with all the gods they worshiped, with all the gods they boasted about, and they boasted about their gods. They missed the only true one. All this intelligence, and you got the wrong one.

You got a whole room full of wrong things. Incidentally, Lucifer is highly intelligent, and he chose to be God's enemy. That's not too smart. So you can be intelligent and not smart, not to properly apply that intelligence.

Well, they left room for God, a God that they did not know. Paul's going to tell him. He says, I know him.

I want to introduce you to him. But will they like the terms? It always comes to that, doesn't it? Will the individual like the terms set by truth? Because truth does not budge.

It makes a demand. He says, this is how it is. So he says, therefore the one whom you worship without knowing, him I proclaim to you. The unknown God is knowable.

Very straight and to the point. But Christ remains a stranger to those who want to dictate to him, to not receive his lordship. So I just closed something. Give me a moment here, because I don't even know what verse I was talking about. Let's go now to verse 24. And there he says, God who made the world and everything in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. If these terms of creatorship are a problem, then you have a problem. If you have a problem with God creating everything from nothing, you have a very big problem.

And this explains why so much of the world wants no part of the scripture. Science is willing to just believe in a theory, then reason. And the evolution of the species is still a theory. They still don't have the evidence.

But that doesn't stop them from presenting their theory as fact. As a matter of fact, there have been, from this church, some that have gone on to the universities and learned science and have been leaning towards evolution. Well, you don't know what you're talking about when you say the missing link. Well, where is the missing link? Where's that connection that therefore proves without a fact that we have evolved from, you know, the basis of evolution is simply fish have eyes.

I must have come from them because I have eyes. That's a very—I'm just simplifying it for you because that's what Darwin did. And Darwin wasn't that smart of a guy. Ingersoll was intelligent as men go, and he is the one that used Darwin as his platform to resist Christ. Anyway, an idol is a representation of man's created ideas about God, of deity.

But we need to be firm in what we believe. So when Jonah was running, that great prophet—and Jonah was a great prophet. He had some mental issues for a while there with God, but that was because of his flesh. Because you got to say, Jonah, are you crazy?

I mean, really, throw me overboard? Why not just repent? Why not just get right with God? Anyway, Jonah says, I am a Hebrew, and I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land. That was his theology.

And we should be as sure of ours as Jonah. I believe in Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin, who died for sinners and lived a virtuous life, a sinless life. I believe he was crucified for sinners, and on the third day he rose again. I believe he's returning, and I believe he is on the throne of God because he is God the Son. That's what I believe to the world.

And hopefully that creates questions. Well, he says here in verse 24 that he does not dwell in temples made with hands. Well, the Athenians relished their temples, the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus. They had them all over the place, and they actually believed that gods were living in these things.

That's not the same as Judaism. When the temple of God had there the mercy seat of God, which was the dwelling place in the sense that God would be available to his people, but not in the sense that he wasn't anywhere else. When Solomon dedicates the temple, he makes this clear. He makes it clear that we understand that God's not limited to a temple.

He says in 1 Kings 8, but will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and the heavens of heaven cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built. Jesus, when he speaks to the woman at the well, the woman of shattered romances, she had a hard life. There are things about her that are very admirable, though. Just a little side note here, what I like about the woman at the well is she was not a fraud. She was not fake. When she told the men of the city what just happened at the well with Jesus, they didn't scoff at her. They acted on what she said. She had to have had a reputation of it. Maybe she wasn't the most moral, but she wasn't a liar.

She wasn't a fraud, and that's one of the things that comes out of this. Anyway, Jesus said to her, woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father. You worship what you do not know.

We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. And pause there. You see, that's saying, I know what I believe, and I'm not apologizing for it. I'm not sorry for it.

I'm not going to change it if you don't share the view. This is what I believe. And there's nothing rude about this.

To be firm is not to be offensive, necessarily. He continues, but the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. And this is Christianity, and this is what Paul believed.

And he's telling these men the very same thing, that you guys got it wrong. God's not looking for what you could do with your hands. He wants to know what the heart is doing, and that will show up through your hands. He continues, verse 25, nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

Well, we sing this song, nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling. I mean, God doesn't have needs. He has wants. There are things He desires.

He desires all men to become, to be saved, for example. But He doesn't have to have that. And here, you know, why would you think a God who could create the universe would need something? He'd just create it. You know, if He needed it, I sure need an apple.

Well, just create one. I mean, so the logic, He's trying to reason with men who boasted of being rational, and they only went so far with their rationale. He says, as though He needed anything. See, that's doctrine. That's how, when the Bible states things like that, we say, okay, this is the truth. Coming from the Apostle Paul, we, and other places, we know God doesn't need anything. And another place, Psalm, in Psalm 50, verses 10 through 12, God says, if I needed something, I wouldn't tell you.

I make the hills and the sheep and all of that. I don't need anything. Psalm, again, 50, verses 10 through 12, the doctrine that belongs to our faith. Anyway, as though He needed anything, here in verse 25, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

Again, if He can create the universe, what makes you think He's needy? Now, paganism, paganism, which is the worship of created things in any form, worshiping nature. You've got these people, oh, the earth is melting, you know, with ice, we're all going to drown in ice, water. There's going to be a global warming coming, and it's not man-made. It will be the great tribulation period. And these things that these folks are worshiping and fiercely defensive about is paganism.

And most of them are science. Remember the few who went up to measure the loss of ice and they got stuck in the ice? This happened a few years ago. It's like there was another one.

They were having a conference in Minnesota, but it was canceled because of a blizzard. I mean, it's just the mock, I mean, anyway, okay, back to this. Pagans and false religions with the false idea of God believe that their God has needs and even needs to be defended. Islam is notorious for wanting to defend their God. Well, He ain't God if He needs your defense.

I mean, if He can create the universe, does He really need you to protect Him or His reputation? When we give a defense of our faith, we're talking about truth. We're not defending God. We're just trying to reach you by telling you why we have the reason for the hope that is in us to every man an answer. But we're not trying to defend God.

You can't. It's a silly notion. And yet most of the world has these limited and defective views of God. So the unbelievers, they bring their animal sacrifices to their temples and involved with that is feeding their gods. You can go to some of these Thai restaurants and bring me with you and treat me.

You can go to these Thai restaurants and you see a little altar shrine by the cash register with a little food on it. Well, if you've got to feed your God, you've got a big problem with your God. How can a created, a superior divine being need you to feed Him? And He never eats it anyway.

I mean, how do you feel when you pick it up and you throw it in the trash? And maybe they'll scoff at it. Well, that's not what we believe. Well, yeah, it is.

It very much is. Well, at first glance, you'd say, well, the Jews were doing that. They'd bring their animals and the blood sacrifices to the temple. It's completely different because the Jew brought their animal sacrifices to acknowledge out loud that they were sinners, that it goes back to Adam and Eve, that unbroken witness.

There's that connection of dots that form a conclusion. And they're saying, Adam and Eve, they sinned. Innocent animals were killed to cover their sin. And so the atonement in the Hebrew is the kophar, the covering. When Christ comes along, John the Baptist says, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He takes it away.

He doesn't cover it anymore. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. And this is a development that you can track. We call them dispensations, periods of time where God is working towards a goal in various stages. We are in the stage, the church age, of grace. It could be a lot of grace in the great tribulation period. It still will be there. There will be tribulation converts. But there will be.

You think what's happening with the natural disasters nowadays is something it will be such as the world has never seen. And they scoff at this. Anyway, coming back to this, the pagans, they again sacrificed their animals because they felt their gods were hungry. If you have to defend or feed your god, then your god is not worthy to be divine. He's not worthy to be god. Now Paul, of course, is trying to make these points. If man makes god, then he is the god.

They're not going to like this. Anyway, verse 26, and he is made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. He has not determined their pre-appointed salvation, I should point out.

The times. In other words, God does not say that men have evolved. They're created beings. And Paul is not quoting from scripture to these men because what do they know about scripture? That would cause him to have to explain even more. So he's trying to just reason with them.

And it's not working well. He doesn't know that at the moment. Or maybe he can look on the faces and see, but that's a difficult read. So you can look at some people and think that they're not getting it. And they're getting it totally. Anyway, he's giving them scripture as far as the truths go in a language they can understand.

They don't have to know that these are biblical points that Paul is making. They just have to make a decision whether it's true or not. They don't want to do that. What they want to do is decide whether or not they like it.

Well, then it's not about truth if it's about preference. And he has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. Well, man does not rule creation.

That's what he is saying. Denying the Creator cannot change this. God controls more things than most people are ready to acknowledge. Here's an example from Deuteronomy chapter 2. God is telling the Jews, I'm going to give you this land, but I'm not going to give you that land.

So he says, then Yahweh said to me, Moses speaking, do not harass Moab, that's the people of Moab, nor contend with them in battle for I will not give you any of their land as a possession because I have given R, that is one of their cities, to the descendants of Lot as a possession. The Moabites were oblivious as they were unbelievers. They were oblivious that God was doing this. But God was doing it nonetheless, because God controls the boundaries. And if this is just a microcosm, a little snapshot, but it's true of everything, and that's what Paul is saying, God controls the boundaries. He lets people have free will within the boundaries. You can do a lot of things, but not anything.

And again, I don't know, you know, you can do a lot of things in a padded room, but you can't get out. So anyway, God controlled and protected the land of the Moabites, and it was a land that was infested with idols. And yet God was, this is called common grace in scripture, as opposed to special grace, which is salvation. But God gives mankind things so that mankind can function and survive, and hopefully long enough, to receive the truth. And we'll get to the judging of that in a moment. Verse 27, in a moment, pardon me, in a moment is not one word, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each of us.

Well, I think grope is probably, at least the way I think of the word, not the most ideal word, but it works. God created man and has not abandoned him. Deism is a belief that God, you know, created the universe and walked away. Well, that's not biblical. And if God created man and has not abandoned him, well, man should want their maker. And God wants men to love him back.

Why not? But someone will protest my life is too miserable to love a God who allows such misery. There are a lot of people that have that position, even if they don't articulate it that way. But that's the devil's way of looking at things.

That's a very short-sighted way. Peter, in his first letter in the fourth chapter, he talks about a superior love. And since bitterness can lead to withdrawal from God, well, Satan promotes bitterness and justifies it. How could a loving God allow this and a loving God allow that? Well, let me ask this because we want to deal with it logically. If you have a miserable life and you live 70 years, what is that compared to eternity?

It's nothing. All the more reason to love the Lord is because Satan is constantly pushing people away from him, and love under pressure is love superior. That's what the apostles were writing in 1 Peter 4. Yeah, you know, your hard labor is tough in life. We all get it.

You're under the curse. This is the way God's going to get for him. So he's going to filter out. God is going to filter from creation those who are disinterested in him. And what he will be left with in heaven is a population of people who we will be spiritually fit for this, who will be with him forever. And so when Paul says here in verse 27, so that they should seek the Lord. Now they don't know Lord the Master to them.

They don't have the details that we have of Christ yet. He says in the hope that they might grope for him and find him. Well, to grope in the Greek, that verb is to touch, to handle. God wants contact.

That's what he's saying. God wants people to contact him. And these are Greeks. He's not saying God just wants the Jews or the select folks. He wants people to have contact with him. This Greek word is used in Luke 24. After the resurrection of Christ, Jesus said, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. And then he says, here's the Greek word, handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.

So he's up in the upper room and it's just an amazing moment. The point I want to draw from this is that when he says that we are to grope, what he is saying is God wants contact. And the usage of the word in Luke 24, 39, he says, Touch me and see. Of course nobody would dare get up and touch. Maybe Peter, but no, he would not.

None of them would. They got it. Anyway, man was not created to grope for God, as we might use the word as a blind man, which the word used in Greek writings, the word grope was as a blind man tries to feel his way through wherever he is traveling. Again, he's trying to touch and handle. Okay, that's a wall and this is a hole in the ground or whatever. He's trying to make his way. But because of sin, man has been separated from God and now it's not automatic.

Sin has caused man to lose his touch with God and in many cases lose his mind. This is all the more reason to desire him. 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 That's cross-reference 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 / 2023-12-27 08:43:44 / 2023-12-27 08:53:30 / 10

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