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Corinth — Worth the Troubles (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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December 29, 2023 6:00 am

Corinth — Worth the Troubles (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 29, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Then there is also the need to reach the lost. Every Christian should be burdened for lost souls. Our attitude is not, I got mine, too bad for you. Our attitude is, I got mine, I got to get you to get yours too. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we are supposed to be wisest serpents as harmless as we are.

You can't improve on that statement, nor should we lose sight of it. The Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision. Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you or to hurt you. For I have many people in this city. And he continued there, a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them. I figured if I read less, I'd get to talk more. Corinth, Worth the Troubles. That's the title.

Just again, I'm a little excited about this. This city of Corinth, this ancient city known for her ports, shipping ports, known for the goddess Aphrodite and her temple, known for the consumption, excessive consumption of alcohol, legalized religious prostitution, gambling, hedonism, and on and on it goes. These characterized Corinth. And as wicked as it was before God, and as problematic as Corinth was to the apostle Paul, God and Paul loved the people there. And just looking over at Paul's second Corinthian letter, I love the second Corinthian letter because Paul's tone gets to soften in the beginning.

He's got to ramp it up a little later again, but it is just a very heartfelt letter. And he writes in second Corinthians in the second chapter. And remember, we're learning Christianity anytime we open the Word of God up. These are the first Christians.

It's the template for Christianity. And looking at second Corinthians chapter two, verses three and four, Paul writes, And I wrote this very thing to you, lest when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. He's saying you guys are breaking my heart.

I love you so much. He started this church. He's made so many converts here. And yet there was again that element of the Laodicean spirit in this church. It was so bad that they were getting drunk at the communion table. And so, you know, by reading that section from Corinthians, I'm sharing that Paul had a heart for them, as problematic as they were. He goes on to say also in second Corinthians, I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. Christianity shouldn't be this way, but it is.

And what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it when you find out that miracles and magic are not the same thing, that there are greater realities? I come to that and get ahead of myself here. Why then did Paul pour so much of himself into these Christians in this city? Why was he so in love with them and they not so in love with him?

Again, an element of them, a large element of them. Many of these Christians were immature, worldly, shallow, vindictive, smart mouths, irreverent, and unlikable. And yet he still reached out to them. Corinth, worth the troubles.

Why? Why did Paul stick to it? And we're going to find that in the tenth verse of Acts 18 in this chapter, where God says to Paul, I have many people in this city.

That changes everything. Paul knew God was, he was with God on this. He knew that he was where he needed to be. He knew God put him in this city because there were souls to be saved.

He wasn't coming to Corinth to benefit from its wealth and carve out a happy life for himself. He put up with Corinth and her troubles because God loved them. The lessons, they fly off the page when we come to this church. We have two letters to the church at Corinth.

That's quite a bit of material and references to them in other letters also. And yet with all of his love for Corinth, no love was lost for the other churches. There's so much love. We have so much potential. We have enough potential to love that we can love without losing love. It's not like, well, you know, I'm out of love. Sorry, I love that guy over there too much.

I got nothing left for you. And Jesus, he taught that we should love our neighbor as ourselves and we love ourselves. But this, this did not at all mean that it was going to be easy in Corinth simply because God wanted to reach them, because God loved them, because God sent Paul there.

It did not mean that his assignment was going to be either easy or pleasant, but it'd be worth it. Christianity is not an escape from reality. It is a revealer of greater realities and that's not all. It is an overcomer of unkind realities. There are facts in this life that are all under the sun, meaning under the curse that goes back to Adam and Eve in the garden. Mankind is under the curse and Christianity is here to stand up to these things, to face them, and to make converts to Christ through the truth. I do believe in miracles, not magic, but I think also there are a lot of Christians that believe in magic and call it miracles.

And you'll just sometimes, you know, I just believe this and I believe that with no basis for it. You know, many times it's contrary to the scripture and they lose sight of the mission. They're so busy looking for miracles, they're not looking at the mission. What is the mission?

Well, to be Christ-like and to share that Christ-likeness, to strengthen other believers with truth and not fairy tales, not magic. Oh, God's just going to work it out. You don't know that sometimes. Then there is also the need to reach the lost. Every Christian should be burdened for lost souls. Our attitude is not I got mine, too bad for you. Our attitude is I got mine and I got to get you to get yours, too. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we are supposed to be wisest serpents, as harmless as doves.

You can't improve on that statement, nor should we lose sight of it. So this is what's happening here. Corinth, this ancient city, worth the trouble, we'll come back to it. Verse one, after these things, Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth, and that's now about 40 miles from Athens to Corinth.

Well, let me just say this. If Athens was the center of human thinking as they thought it was, Corinth was the center of corrupt life, and they knew it was. So you have those in Athens that are very intelligent, but delusional from a spiritual perspective.

Then you got these in Corinth. They're just immoral. They're corrupt. And they knew they were. And they celebrated it.

They even created a religion to back it up. They weren't the only ones. But because it was such, probably one of the largest seaports in the ancient world there in the Mediterranean, they just had so much traffic coming in and out. Athens was full of idolatry. Corinth was full of sensuality. This means that there were people and their behaviors going on in these places without God, and the Christians were sent to do something about it in the timing of God. So it says here in verse one, again, after these things, Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth after his efforts in Athens. The Spirit moved Paul from what, relative to what was going to happen in Corinth, he moved him from a waste of time in Athens to the harvest field in Corinth. And many will believe in Corinth, incidentally.

This is going to be a large movement, but it's going to take a lot of work to keep it straight. But we should talk about this city a little bit more so that we can appreciate the work that Paul had before him and the letters that he would write to this group of believers. So base was the city that in other places, if a woman was immoral, she was called a Corinthian. Such a reputation that if a man was lewd, they would say he's been Corinthianized. I mean, who would want that reputation?

Who would want to tell anybody when asked, where are you from? I'm from Corinth. You wouldn't want to because it had attached to it this immoral behavior, even amongst pagans.

Immorality in the name of religion, drunkenness, vulgarity for profit. And it was a very profitable city. Long before Christ came, Corinth was doing well as a city. Now, the Greeks, they loved their plays. And whenever they put a play on and they had a character in it who was from Corinth, he would be the drunk in the play. And they felt they were identifying with the people, that this was a fact, this was their reputation. It is into this city that Paul marches into with nothing but the gospel of Jesus Christ. And there were people who would gobble it up.

Thank God. Again, you hear me say how difficult Christians can be, because I think a lot of Christians don't understand that. But how wonderful Christians can also be. Christians can be an incredible blessing. And may we never lose sight of that. May we never let the minority of troublemakers take away from us the majority of solid believers who pursue Christ and want to be like him. Anyway, it became a Proverbs. He lives like a Corinthian.

And it was not a compliment. It was prosperous even 800 years before Christ came along, because it was famous for its bronze, its pottery, and its shipbuilding. And that just expanded when it became, again, one of the most important trade cities in ancient Greece. The city thrived. And when these sailors would come in because of all the shipping going on, well, they had an appetite for sin.

Let's hit the city. Even today, even our sailors and Marines, when they go to a port, you got to have shore patrol go with them to corral them in, because they can really do a lot of damage to a city. Well, this Corinth, always full of sin and appetite for sin, their religion, decadent religion. The great temple of Aphrodite was there.

She was the female goddess of fertility, said the ancients. They just made these things up. And if they liked them, they stuck. No basis in it.

There was nothing they could show to back any of this up, and they didn't really care. There were over a thousand priestesses in this city, all of them prostitutes. And they would call them vestal virgins. They weren't virgins.

I mean, just don't butcher any language like that you would like to say to them. And they would, you know, go into the city at night and apply their trade for the support of their temple. It was a city of anything goes. And when Paul writes his Roman letter, he's writing from Corinth, he's writing to the Romans, and it's as though he's looking out the window, or though he just came back from the marketplace and got a dose of this. And we in America, you know, we talk about the movies and the music and the magazines at the impulse rack, and just the vulgarity, the lewdness, and all and on.

It had nothing on Corinth. So, we shouldn't be timid or feel like we're always in a state of retreat because the world is doing its thing. Well, let the world do its thing.

We're going to do ours in the midst of it. And that was Paul's attitude in Corinth. He walks into this city, and he's pretty nervous.

He's afraid. Oh, come to that. Verse 2. He found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome, and he came to them. There's so much you have to leave out. You know, you want to comment on Pontus?

Well, I will comment on Pontus. You know, that was a region in northern Turkey today on the Black Sea where Paul wanted to go there with the gospel, and God said, you know, I don't want you going there with the gospel because, you know, who knows? God would have said, you know, hey, they'll kill you there.

I'm going to protect you from that. That's why we're submitted to the Spirit. But these two, Aquila and Priscilla, she's a special woman. By the time, in the latter days when Paul was still writing his last written letter to Timothy, he mentions her, and now he calls her Prisca because, you know, she had just developed this, just a beloved relationship in Christ.

And so she's a bit of an outstanding character if you follow her and her husband Aquila through the letters of Paul. They were Jewish Christians. They have Latin names here. They're refugees from trouble that happened in Rome.

And this is an important part, again, of our faith. Why did they leave Rome? Well, because it tells us the Emperor Claudius booted out the Jews. Now, he didn't boot out all of them, Rome's big city.

But he did boot out those who were connected to the trouble that was going on in the Jewish communities. They will later come back to the city, but for now, they're in Corinth. Paul is going to fall in love with Rome because of them. They're going to tell Paul about the Christians in Rome, the Jewish Christians predominantly at this time.

None of the apostles of Jesus Christ had yet been to Rome. Peter and Paul will later both be martyred in Rome. And from Paul's Roman letter that he writes later, we learned that there was a sizable church there. Just look at the last chapter of Romans and the names he's rattling off and how many more Christians were there.

It's quite remarkable. Well, Gentiles were initially in the minority at the church in Rome. But when the leading Jewish Christians were booted out, the Gentiles increased.

And by the time Aquila and Priscilla come back five or six years later, the Gentiles will be in the majority. And that's the story of the church. That should be meaningful to you because these are people things. These are realities.

They don't care if you like it or not, but you should because it's quite exciting. The Roman historian Suetonius described what may have caused Claudius to put the Jews out of Rome. Again, he couldn't put them all out.

It would just be quite a few. But he got the leaders out. He refers to, in his writings, the constant riots amongst the Jews and in the instigation of Christus, which is Christ. So what you had is you had Pentecostal converts. You had Jews at Pentecost years before, 20 years earlier, go back home to Rome. And they believed Jesus was the Messiah. And they preached that in their synagogues. And it began to become a point of contention between the Jews who didn't want to receive Jesus as Messiah.

So much so that the government had to get involved. Those Christians were preaching. You get the feeling when you read the book of Acts that those Christians wanted to spread the gospel. Wherever they went, all of them. We talked about this up in Antioch.

You had the Jewish Christians reaching out to the Gentiles. How about us today? Are we too busy looking to be raptured? Are we too busy looking for signs and wonders? Are we too busy with our careers, our family?

Our family and careers are very important. But these things you should have done without leaving the others undone. You still should have a burden for lost souls. And even if you're growing up as a child, you're supposed to be developing your skills as a Christian. You're not supposed to just be, you know, well the world is doing it, I'll do it too. Is what I'm saying a high standard? God's standards are high. Just read the Ten Commandments.

You know, at one point the apostles said to Jesus, this is a hard saying, well it's better to not get married. You put things on us at a high standard. He said that's right.

He never apologizes. They are right. And then he says, but I also have a ton of grace and mercy with me to help you through it. Well anyway, this Crestus is a reference to Christ. Not going to get into the historical debates, but that's who, that's what it was about. Because there's no known instance of a Jewish male with the name Crestus in that part of the world at that time in history.

And there are quite a bit of records. So this is Suetonius, in a clumsy effort to mention Christ. Crestus in, and that's what was happening there. Aquila and Priscilla were involved in that and they were expelled from Rome.

The conflict over Christ. Incidentally in Rome there were 13, no less than 13 synagogues. That means there's a high population of Jews. And each synagogue has to have 10 men to become a synagogue.

But that doesn't mean it's not limited to 10 men. That's a thriving city. They were probably packed with Jewish believers. And this is also a time stamp because we know from other historical records this is about 52, 53 AD so you figure about 23 years after the resurrection this is what's going on in Christianity. So it says, and he came to them. Well Paul was looking for work.

They're tent makers. Well so is Paul a tent maker. And he writes about how he supports himself with his own hands.

He wrote to the Corinthians. He actually was kind of in their phase with this. He says, I didn't take a penny from you. That's some insight on what he was dealing with. He was dealing with petty people.

So he says, no, I didn't want any money from you because I never hear the end of it. Whereas the Philippians, you know, they gave to Paul freely. Well in Corinthians he mentions that he worked with his own hands. To the Thessalonians twice he mentions.

So here it is. Here we see it happening in this city of Corinth. This began a lifetime friendship. In Romans 16 Paul brings up these two again and he says, they risked their own necks for me.

They put their own lives in jeopardy for me. Well he met them in Corinth. And God is going to tell him, don't fear, I've got people here in Corinth. So the point is that there were some very serious threats in this city to Paul's life and he knew it. And so did Aquila and Priscilla. He gained two assets when these two people came into his life.

Ask yourself, when you enter into a life of someone else, when you're introduced to someone else, are you going to be an asset or a liability? I think sometimes that is a valid question. Anyway, reading from Corinthians, he says, Paul writing to the Corinthians, the churches in Asia greet you, Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord with the church that is in their house. Now a lot of Christians want to use that. See, the church is supposed to meet in the house.

No, it's actually, it didn't work well. They wanted to meet as the synagogues, in the assembly places like the synagogues, but they could not. And once Rome realized, okay, Judaism and Christianity are not the same thing, the Christians got persecuted. And they could not build buildings.

They could not have assembly places. And when they did, they were accused of doing all sorts of, you know, vile things in the dark. Paul will rent out the school of Tyrannus and there he will preach for a while. But don't misunderstand that verse when it says that the church met in their house because they had nowhere else.

There was nowhere else open to them. Then when he writes to Timothy, many years later, towards the end of his life, he says, greet Prisca and Aquila and the household of Anesophorus. He's just so involved with people. He just, it's just a magnificent, magnificent pictures of Christianity are right here on the pages of the New Testament. And yet I think they're missed by so many because they're busy looking for signs and wonders. I think it's a wonder that there's no sign. Anyway, verse three, so because he was of the same trade, they stayed with them, he stayed with them and worked for by occupation.

They were tent makers. God set this friendship up and he preserved it. And don't take your friendships for granted. If you have a good friend in your life, you need to be praying to God that God protects that friendship, especially as a Christian. I don't care what age you are, it's hard to keep a friendship over the years.

It's possible for sure. But, you know, many friendships, you know, we grew up together, we were friends for so many years and then what happened? And all of a sudden they go different ways and usually it's petty stuff. Sometimes it's not.

It's worth praying for your friendships to be held intact. Well, it does not say that Paul stayed with them because they were believers but tent makers. And the believer part belonged to the whole thing. And the tent makers were not just tents, they were sails, not making sails, but like for boats.

They dealt with leather, canvas and cloths to make a range of things. 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 crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.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 crossreferenceradio.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 / 2023-12-29 08:30:21 / 2023-12-29 08:39:53 / 10

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