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The Religious Wrong (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2023 6:00 am

The Religious Wrong (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 28, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


It is our responsibility to present the gospel to whoever God allows us to. 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. The Religious Wrong is the title of Pastor Rick's message, and today he'll be teaching in Acts chapter 17. At first glance, you'd say, well, the Jews were doing that. They'd bring their animals and the blood sacrifices to them. But 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 send 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. There 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. 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. 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 Ar, 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 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 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. 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 I myself, 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 this is 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 word, 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, 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. I would love to have heard the tone in Paul's voice as he's making these points because this is a man that truly loved lost souls of all types. Again, he's provoked in this. He's irritated that Satan is getting away with lying to people about God and they're doofus enough to believe Satan.

Okay, they don't have anything to compare to. Well, here I am and I've got something. And so this is his effort to reach the loss. Being right with God requires contact, requires receiving him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.

Anybody can receive. Well, people have a desire to seek God but their sin confuses their understanding and we have another in a hymn. Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see. Sin just messes up everything but God is the antidote. Truth from scripture.

Though he is not far from each of us, he says. Well, he's telling them we can find God. Well, they had mixed views on the Stoics and the Epicarians and all sorts of weird views but their philosophies were no match for the facts but they didn't want to go any deeper. So they refused to believe. And it's so easy, it's so easy to believe in the simple truths of the gospel. If you're going to save souls, or years ago I remember witnessing to somebody that was a hard-nosed evolutionist and I don't, I didn't know enough to go at the juggler, as we might say. And I succeeded in moving him from evolution but I don't think I succeeded him in moving him to Christ. I won the logic argument but I don't think I won the soul.

And it, you know, of course there's so much poured into this person, I sure hope the Lord brought someone else to water and cause the increase. Lesson learned is to lay out the truth that man is a sinner and that is the deal breaker with God. You will not handle God, you will not touch God unless you admit who you are. Otherwise you are a fraud in his face saying that you're good enough to receive whatever God may have.

And God says no you're not. He's telling them here that God is omnipresent and ubiquitous. He's everywhere and present at the same time yet not pantheistic. And I don't even like using these words but pantheism essentially that God is in the wood and he's in everything. Well that's not what the Bible teaches but that's what some of them believe.

Paul is saying no he's everywhere but he is independent of his creation in the sense that he's not part of a tree. Verse 28, for in him we live and move and have our being as also some of your own poets have said for we are his offspring. So he quotes one of their honored authors as we might quote a Mark Twain who was not a believer. We can speak of some of the unbelieving people with respect even though they don't believe. I think Mark Twain was very witty but he again he was an antichrist. So the common grace was active in his life. God allowing him to have this wit but special grace was something he would not receive even though he had a lot of hardship in his life. But what we don't find the scriptures encouraging us to do is show respect to false teachers and false prophets.

You just can't charm. I mean who here would buddy up with Louis Farrakhan? Who here would speak highly of the Delhi Lama?

Not Dolly I know but it's Delhi. These people are not for Christ and to expect me to somehow admire them when they are hostile against Christ ain't going to happen. I can't see you know the prophet Elijah going out to dinner with Jezebel. You know in fact he sent her to dinner. You know the dogs ate Jezebel.

That's what the Bible says and we secretly go yeah because she was that bad. Anyway for we are also his offspring. Well God is the originator of life that's our origin straight and to the point. Again he's trying to identify with them enough so they would they would say okay this man he's a thinker like us. He's thought these things through these are logical arguments.

We like it. That's what he was after. It's not what he got.

Not what he got at all. When he gets to Corinth and there were some of these wise guys there too but not as many. When he gets to Corinth he's going to preach Christ. He's going to preach him crucified and it evidently was something he stressed and I think we should too and I think going back to my evolutionist friend I should have been more your sinner and you're going to hell and whether you believe in evolution or not is not the point. The point is what are you going to do with your sin? What are you going to do about the Savior who extends his hand so you can have touch with him?

What are you going to do about that? So if you don't offer this and what is missing is conviction and conviction is guilt owned. When a person is convicted as ideally we have the evidence you're the guilty one. That brings conviction. Spiritually theologically speaking it's the person that realized they're convinced that they're wrong before a holy God and in jeopardy and for me I didn't know those words like that but when God called me I was convinced I was going to hell and I was so happy he grabbed hold of me and oh man what a wonderful time that was. Every Christian probably remembers the time when they really came into that born again experience.

Anyway verse 29, therefore since we are the offspring of God we ought not to think of the divine nature is like gold or silver stone something shaped by art and man's devising. So he is exposing their error and explaining the truth. There's more to Christianity than sharing the truth. We also at some point have to deal with the error. I just think we don't want to deal with the error first. We want to deal with the sin first and then go back like my friend with the evolution.

I should have gone more. Maybe I did and I don't remember but I'm telling the story so the way I'm telling it is I remember really slamming evolution as being dumb and stupid and unfit for human consumption and he believed it but did he believe in Christ? Verse 30, truly these things of ignorance God overlooked but now commands all men everywhere to repent and there it is. All right there's error and God is a just God and first Corinthians in the first chapter Paul is going to deal with this high-minded stuff. The Jews they prided themselves in Moses and the prophets. The Greeks prided themselves in philosophers.

The Romans prided themselves with their legions. Paul told them yeah well God commands repentance because you're still sinners. With all your Bible, with all your philosophy, with all your armies you still need to get right with a holy God. He said but now commands every all men everywhere to repent. The call to repentance is a Christian imperative. There's no salvation without repentance. How do you get saved going into heaven thinking that we really don't need to be you know you're really not that bad.

This is offensive to some people. He's verse 31 because he has appointed a day on which he will judge the world and righteousness by the man whom he has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead. Well only God knows this day sinners and penitent sinners they scoff at God's accountability like to create their own terms of accountability.

You know walk upstairs on your knees or something like that instead of just you know ordering the life behind God. Romans 14 10 for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and he's writing that to believers. So he declares God is creator and as such he has the right to judge. If he is the creator this is his universe he has every right to judgment. Now the Stoics and the Epicareans they had a concept of right and wrong but not before God the creator. He says he would judge the world in righteousness always God's judgments are always right and no one's going to be able to whine about who didn't get to heaven because they didn't hear the gospel.

In the end and God has hidden these things from us he will handle it. Isaiah 5 again Yahweh of hosts shall be exalted in judgment. In other words when he judges the righteous will say that you can't get any more right than that.

That is it. He continues Isaiah does and God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness. He's not going to get anything wrong when he judges a soul he's going to be right. It is our responsibility to present the gospel to whoever God allows us to. Remember Paul didn't walk the streets with a sandwich board on you know saying repent or you're going to hell.

He established relationships with people. I'm personally I don't believe in debates unless in the learning processes yeah but I don't know of a debate where the people come away saying boy the other side won I'm changing teams. They just double down and they said well you know you failed in the debate you should have done better.

Okay this is what you should have said. Maybe you disagree with that if you want to debate it. I think that he's debating here in approaching that and which would explain for why he was not as successful as he will be in Corinth where he declares well he says by the man whom he has ordained that is anointed the Christ. We're running out of time so I'm moving a little faster and he gives assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead.

Well they didn't even care to explore that. They couldn't argue with a creator. They couldn't argue with the fact that you know you know God's not in stone and marble whatever you're using. They couldn't argue with anything he was saying except the resurrection but rather than saying well tell us more about this resurrection like they did in the beginning.

Tell us more about this Christ you're preaching. They laughed at him verse 32 and when they heard of the resurrection of the dead some mocked him and others said we will hear you again on this matter. Well again they didn't persecute Paul these Athenians.

They just laughed at him. The carnal man, the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. They're foolishness to him. At the base of their rejection is not the raising of the dead. It's a defective definition of God. That is at the base of their rejection. So he's going to move to Corinth and they're going to move to doom but when Satan is allowed to write your dictionary you're going to draw wrong conclusions and their dictionary in their dictionary it was impossible for God to raise the dead even though they have all the wacky beliefs that were just as sensational if not more. They didn't want this one because they did not want to repent. He says while others said we will hear you again on this matter. Big mistake. Poor life choice right there. Felix when he heard Paul reason about righteousness self-control and judgment to come the governor Felix said to him go away for now.

When I have a convenient time I will call for you. Well he never called for him enough to be saved verse 33 so Paul departed from among them. He did his job there.

There's nothing more he could do. He wasn't going to stay there and try to twist their arms win their friendship and oh believe me kind of a thing he moved on. Verse 34 however some men joined him and believed among them that Dionysus the Arab Gopi and a woman named Damaris and others with them. So the word of God did not return void. Dionysus here the Arab Gopi he was one of the intelligent ones. He was one on the council. The point that comes out if he could get it the others had no excuse. We see this today John Lennox is a man that is a devout believer in the Lord highly intelligent very educated got all the credentials can't get any higher than that.

His colleagues reject what he has to say. If John Lennox could get it they should have got it too. Let's pray. Father in heaven it is a lot of work trying to overcome the work of Satan but it is worth it and it is possible and the proof of that is our presence here. If it wasn't possible to save lost souls there'd be no church but there are churches and there are good churches.

We have in these churches people who love and worship you and we ask we always ask I would think it'd be high up in our petitions to you to use us more and more to help us bring the gospel to lost souls in such a way that they would follow the command to repent and that you'd give us the ability to explain these things the timing and the opportunities. 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 radio dot com that's cross reference radio dot com. 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 cross reference radio dot com 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 / 2023-12-28 08:47:12 / 2023-12-28 08:56:21 / 9

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