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The Darling Church (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 5, 2024 6:00 am

The Darling Church (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 5, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


Maybe you have met people that say they're Christians and they believe and embrace the Christmas story, the Nativity of Christ, the crucifixion and resurrection, and that's it. They know no more.

And you pick up very quickly, there's something missing. There's not that zeal and excitement for the things of Christ. They do not have the Holy Spirit. They have not been immersed in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit by Christ.

But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 19, as he begins his message, The Darling Church. So they said to him, we have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit. And he said to them, into what then were you baptized? So they said, into John's baptism. Then Paul said, John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Well, we left the city of Corinth, and if Corinth was a ten on the scale of wickedness, ten being the highest, Ephesus was a nine.

The Holy Spirit, that is the very thing they were lacking. It's very insightful, this passage of scripture. The title, incidentally, is Ephesus, The Darling Church.

And there's a reason why I chose that as a title. When you consider the list of Christians in the New Testament that played a role in this church, the ones listed, not to mention all the others that were not, then you're quite impressed. The other churches don't seem to have had this much attention. This was a church that was a darling church. Paul the Apostle, he ministered there. It is said that John the Apostle finished off his days in Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla, who we met last session from Pontus, that's up to the north in Bithynia. Then there was Apollos from Egypt, and I'm naming their origins and where they came from for a purpose. Timothy from Lystra.

Now, Ephesus is in modern Turkey, whereas Corinth is in modern Greece. Of Timothy, Peter wrote to him and said, remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine. They're pretty serious about the truth, the scripture, and it was not well received when someone was in a church preaching gibberish. Tychicus, one of my favorites, 2 Timothy 2, chapter 4, verse 12, and Tychicus, I have sent to Ephesus. See these little comments around, here and there, giving us insight on what was going on in this church.

And we want to learn from our New Testament, what is to go on in the church concerning believers, talking about the local assembly. Gaius was from Macedonia, Aristarchus from Thessalonica, Tryphimus from Ephesus, as well as Onesiphorus, saying these names, I don't get them, but you get this, these are real people. And not only did God love them, they loved God, and they played a role in their Christian life, and that's why their names are in the scripture, more importantly in the Lamb's Book of Life. Fortunatus was from Corinth, as was Erastus, Stephanus, Acacius, Chloe's household.

It's not Chloe, it's people from her household. In 1 Corinthians, we read, for it has been declared to me concerning you, now Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, from the city of Ephesus, and he says, it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those from Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Paul's saying it shouldn't be this way. There should not be these brush fires going on in the church, this contention. Other churches had it too, there was one that was flaring up in even the great church of Philippi. But this once darling church will backslide. They will lose their sense of love for Jesus. They will be involved in a lot of activities, a lot of decent and goodwill things, but they lost their love for Jesus. And their love loss was so important that Jesus brought it up.

He didn't let it pass. He had to tell them, I see you're doing all these things, but you've left your first love. This from Revelation chapter 2, the first paragraph, the first church that he singles out is the church in this city with these real people, and by the time Christ sends that letter to them, that darling church is now that struggling church, because they lost their love for him. And if they don't have love for him, all of the loves are diminished. Well, we look now at verse 1, and it happened while Apollos was at Corinth that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus and finding some disciples.

We'll stop there. Apollos, he preached in Ephesus before Paul arrived, and he goes to Corinth where Paul had come from. Apollos recently departed, and this group of disciples here in this city of Ephesus were messianic. They believed in the Messiah. It seems as though they believed that Christ was the Messiah because of Apollos. Luke treats them as believers. There are about 12 men he mentions, but here in verse 2 he will call them believers, as he will in other verses also.

But like Apollos, their knowledge of Christ did not go far enough. Now those of you who are veteran Christians, participants in God's word, you probably love that 16th chapter of John, or 14, 15, and 16. He deals with the Holy Spirit. He's going to come. He's going to guide you in all truth.

He will not testify himself, but he will testify of me. They didn't have that. That was missing from their lives, and they didn't even know it. They were believers. They are treated as such, but that element of the Holy Spirit not being present, Paul picks up on.

They did not go far enough. They knew of John's baptism without the Spirit. They understood that there was a right and wrong according to God, and they lined up with that. I believe they acknowledged that Christ was the Messiah. Maybe you have met people that say they're Christians, and they believe and embrace the Christmas story, the nativity of Christ, the crucifixion and resurrection, and that's it.

They know no more, and you pick up very quickly. There's something missing. There's not that zeal and excitement for the things of Christ. They do not have the Holy Spirit. They have not been immersed in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit by Christ. Believers, yes, but baptized in the Spirit, no.

Can you who know the Spirit of God in Christ, can you imagine being without him? See, it halts the witness of the believer. It dims it way down, and effective preaching of Christ becomes nonexistent. As far as these men go, about 12 of them it says, it's difficult to accept that they had no knowledge of Christ, his life, crucifixion, resurrection, but that was as far as they could go, if they had that much. Now, we are 20 years after the resurrection of Christ, and the birth of the church, of course, was not long after that. In any case, being without the Spirit, whom Jesus said, go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now remember, the Gospels were not in circulation yet. John's Gospel won't be put together for maybe another 25 years, before John writes the Gospel according to John.

So they don't have the advantage that we have. Everything's word of mouth, signs and wonders, and this baptism of John was pre-Pentecostal knowledge, incomplete. Christ had more. He promised more. John the Baptist promised more, and they were missing out. Who wants to miss out? You know, somebody giving away free chocolate and you didn't get one? You're missing out.

Well, that's one thing with chocolate, but we're talking about something infinitely greater. Having passed through the upper regions, he came to Ephesus. So he's on the move again, and he has men with him. He stays in this city for three years ministering, laying that solid foundation, which is why it is that darling church.

It was very special. But let's talk about this city, Ephesus, as we did somewhat about Corinth. It was located on the Caester River, which fed into the Aegean Sea, and you say, yeah, yeah, that's boring. Well, it has something to do with why that city has been abandoned. The population in these days was about 300,000 people. That's a sizable city.

The city of Richmond's about that size. They had an amphitheater that could seat 25,000 people. You say to yourself, okay, what's the point? Well, the point is this. These are people in that number to be saved. God has people there, as he did in Corinth when he told Paul, I have many people in this city.

Well, he has them elsewhere, too. Ephesus excelled in politics and education. The city was ranked along with Alexandria in Egypt.

That's a big deal. This wasn't some, you know, off the beaten path place where people were. They were very much plugged into the world, and the ships would come in, and they would bring not only cargo and things from around the world and have things sent out, export, import, but they also had people imported and exported in the sense of visiting and coming and going. I guess the big thing about this that really gave opportunity to Paul is that this city had this temple of Diana, one of the now mythological gods, was to us, of course, nonexistent as a god, but they worshipped her. It was a perpetual feast of vice serving her, as in Corinth. That temple of hers, one of the ancient seven wonders of the world. Again, that means something because you have people converging on this city to experience this temple. It is said it took 220 years to finish it, and it had gone through stress from invaders, fires, things like that, built of the purest marble, stood 60 feet high.

That's six stories, 127 columns. You can see they love this place. Paul's going to cause a riot here because he stands in opposition to all of this. That which they held so dear, he said, they appreciate it. Of course, many felt no need for the gospel, but he wasn't after them. He was after the ones who would feel the need, but he didn't know who they were until he engaged them, as we don't today. Well, sometimes we do.

Eventually we do. Today, this city of Ephesus in ruins, because silt from that Caster River had pretty much bogged down. That river silted up everything, and of course, with that would come the marshes and the malarias, the things that come in an area like that, and the inhabitants just left the city pretty abandoned. Today, it's a tourist stop, but from this city, Paul would write to the Corinthians. I know I mentioned that earlier, and that Corinthian letter is very special. First Corinthians, when I say it's very special, the First Corinthian letter says to us today, look at how messed up a church can be.

Don't be like them. That's why these things are here, and of course, it's to individuals, because individuals make up the local church. That's why it's so dear to God. First Corinthians 16, but I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. So, that's how we know he's writing from Ephesus. He said, I'm going to stay here in Ephesus.

For a great and effective door is opened to me, and there are many adversaries. Oh yeah, he suffered. He talks about Asia and his experiences there at one point, and he said, we despaired of life. In Ephesus, life revolved around this temple of Diana, and there would be the church of God contradicting everything that was central to their way of life, to what they valued. We stood in opposition to that, and again, that's where the riot begins when you get to verse 23.

What about today? Do we stand in opposition to the madness that's out there, that's being spewed out from Satan? A lot of high people in high places, let me rephrase that, a lot of low people in high places are engaged in an actively explicit Satan worship, which starts off with being stupid. Wait, where'd you get the name Satan from? Well, he's a loser in the Bible, and you're worshiping him.

You deserve to go to hell if that's how you think. Why should God let you in heaven when you are honoring his enemy? But, of course, they sell their souls. It says here in verse 1, and finding some disciples, again, they're called disciples, they're called believers, we have no reason to doubt that, and they seem to be separate from the synagogue that is in Ephesus.

Whether they're Jews or Gentiles or mixed, we're not told. Whenever Luke uses the term disciples in Acts, he's referring to believers. When we get to verse 9, we'll see it again. In verse 2, it says, He said to them, Paul, did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believe? So they said to him, we have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit. So he's dialoguing, he's engaging them, and these guys aren't on fire for Christ. They talk religion a little bit, and then they're ready to talk about something else. So he sensed this deficiency of the Spirit, and he raises the question.

And if a pastor can't ask a question about religion in church, where can he ask that question? The apostle did not let this go, and that is amazing. No Christian without the Holy Spirit should be content with that part, because you've not entered into the further promises of Christ.

I will send you the comforter. And it is explicitly stated that they lacked this distinct experience with the Spirit apart from conversion. Converted to Christ, they believed in him, and that's as far as they went. This is made obvious when Paul later says it here.

Did you receive the Spirit when you believed? That takes away from us the right to say, well, they weren't believers. Well, that's not what the Bible says. And mercifully, God knew where they were, and he dispatches his apostle to address this so that we could learn. So here they had this intellectual acceptance of Christ, and not much more. Christianity without the Holy Spirit is not only passionless, it's ineffective.

Well, you could be passionate as Apollos was before Quilla and Priscilla pulled him aside and corrected him, but that passion is more of a zeal for something you believe, rather than someone in you, flowing through you. And his preaching changed radically after they tweaked it, you could say. Somehow news of Pentecost, news of the Holy Spirit never reached them here in Asia. And again, this acceptance was not good enough, it's not good enough to agree that Christ is who he says. There has to be contact from heaven to you in a very pronounced way. And when you sing songs and your hands go up and you're worshipping the Lord, that's just another evidence of the Spirit in your heart. Yeah, they can be impostors, but why approach it that way? The Lord will surface them when it's time.

Unfortunately, they get away with a lot of damage until then. But this is a critical understanding that every believer must have, and that's one of the wonderful things about the Book of Acts. I think a lot of churches avoid the Book of Acts, because they don't want to talk about tongues. Luke, who's writing the Book of Acts, has not written his gospel yet. And so when he starts off in his gospel, when he writes a letter to Theophilus, which is the gospel, he says, of that first account, which is the Book of Acts, O Theophilus, he wants to expand on it, and it's not yet in print. So, Mark's gospel, chapter 1, verse 8, John the Baptist, who they were followers of, said, I indeed baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. This is another experience that they were to enter into. Three experiences of the Holy Spirit are available to man today, and a lot of Christianity doesn't want to hear it. A lot of Christianity, well, that was for those guys back then. Show me that.

Show me where it stopped. Because what I see in my Bible, in John's gospel, that the Holy Spirit will be beside us. He will draw us to God. You have come across people in the process of being saved. They're interested. They're asking questions. They want salvation.

They just don't know how to get there, and that's where we are to help them out. And then Jesus said in John 14, 7, that He would be in us. Now, three prepositions, with us, in us, and upon us.

That's how it is taught. He's not yet upon these fellows here. Acts, chapter 1, in verse 8, you should read that out loud. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.

Epi in the Greek. And you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, Samaria, to the end of the earth. And as you track Paul, we'll get to latter letters, I guess.

We don't say that every day, latter letters, but I just did. As we track him, man, this guy's covering territory. Talk about Jerusalem, Samaria, outer parts of the world. This is Paul going everywhere, and he's got this entourage of servants, and he's dispatching them. Take a kiss I have sent to Ephesus.

You know, he's just on it. You get the feeling that they were too busy being Christians to fuss with each other. Those around Paul, not the churches, not all of them. The Samaritans, you remember them from Acts, chapter 8? Well, they became believers and were told in chapter 8, verse 14 through 17 that they also lacked the Holy Spirit until the apostles came up. Paul himself, in Acts, chapter 9, verse 17, after his conversion, three days later, before the Spirit came upon him, and Ananias went his way and entered the house, and laying his hands on him, he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me to you, that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes it's at the same time, sometimes it's not. When Cornelius gets saved, him and his household, they start peeking in tongues right away. You can't put God in a box and get away with it. Your doctrine does not always have to catch up with your understanding. That's kind of an odd thing, you say. Well, that makes me scratch my head.

Well, let me put it this way. There will be multitudes in hell that did not believe in the doctrine of hell. They didn't believe hell existed, and yet there they are, because they resisted the Christ, who they were told existed. And so your doctrine, your articulation of it is not, you know, when Cornelius gets the gospel and he starts speaking in tongues, how much doctrine did he not know? Almost all of it. That's why he himself has given some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor, teachers.

For the edification, for the equipping of the saints, for the body of Christ, there's a purpose behind these things. With some folks, it's instant. With others, it's not.

And one should not think less of the other. So it is this third experience, the Spirit coming upon them that they lacked. And as I mentioned, a Christian may be filled with the Holy Spirit without understanding the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. But there they are.

So that brings up some questions. Did Sapphira and Ananias claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Now, those of you who are Bible veteran students, you understand, Sapphira and Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit.

Oh, we're going to donate this much money to you. And then they don't. And they were caught and paid the price. Can I be saved if I'm not immersed in the Spirit?

Yes. Not ideal, but that's what these Ephesians were that we're dealing with. They were saved. They're treated like believers. Can I be filled if I'm not saved?

Absolutely not. You must belong to Christ. John's Gospel, chapter 14, 17, and then Romans 8 and 9 make that clear. I would love to read the verses, but then we're out of time. Can I have been filled, then go on to lead a weak Christian life?

Yes. Ergo, Corinth. Not all of Corinth, but enough of it. Enough of that church.

Paul said you lack no spiritual gift. And yet, they made a mess out of things with their infighting, their competitions, their displeasure, their asserting themselves, their striving instead of just coming to church and worshiping and serving. They had nothing to complain about. That didn't stop them from complaining. Because again, it's easier to complain than it is to think.

We need to stay ahead of that. So how do I know I've been immersed in the Spirit? Well, as you look at the New Testament, where you love the Godhead. You love the Lord, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. You have a heart for the lost. You realize that you're not going to hell because of Jesus. You don't want other people to go to hell. You have a heart for saved people. It hurts you when you see someone who names Christ as Lord living carnally. You want to root for those who are struggling and who are growing. You want to pray for your pastors because you understand God has given them to the church, and they can't do it without prayer. You want to pray for your church, the body of believers.

What's the alternative to these things? Are they acceptable to you? If they are, I don't really have to love the Lord. I don't have to love the Savior. You're not saved yourself more than likely. You have a love for the word of God because it is the voice of God.

It's not just some printed thing. It's in the mind of God for us. You love the scripture.

You care about truth. You appreciate grace and mercy, and I don't know how you can get one without the other. Grace is God giving you things that are good that you don't deserve.

Mercy is God withholding bad from you that you do deserve. 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 / 2024-01-05 10:04:20 / 2024-01-05 10:14:19 / 10

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