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Spiritual Opposition (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 9, 2024 6:00 am

Spiritual Opposition (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 9, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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He invested himself in this church. We're supposed to look at this and take notes.

And after we take notes and study them, we are to take action. So those miracles, and in Paul's case here, unusual miracles. They verified the apostolic authority. Jesus said these things would happen. That they would go out and preach and signs and wonders would follow and then he did it.

This was critical. 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. But for now let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 19 as he begins his message, Spiritual Opposition. Have your Bibles please open to the book of Acts chapter 19. We will consider verses 11 through 20. Take a reading of verses 14 and 16 and that hopefully will set the pace for us. Acts chapter 19 verses 14 and 16, 2 16.

Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you? Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them and prevailed against them so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Luke leaves out what they were saying, something like ouch, ouch, stop it, it hurts. Spiritual opposition, that's what we are going to consider a little bit this morning. The kingdom of Satan, makes contact with this physical world through people.

That's where he gets most of his work done. The less opposition Satan faces, the more damage to humans he gets away with. Now remember when we say, when we speak of Satan, we're not talking of a single individual only. Lucifer of course, the enemy of God. We're speaking of the entire kingdom of evil, which he rules over.

And there's nothing good about him whatsoever. Wherever he gets away with the evil that he stirs up, strife and misery levels are elevated. And to oppose this, God often sends servants to oppose it. But this is not without conflict. It is not ever without conflict.

Eventually there's going to be a clash. When Paul left Thessalonica, he wrote to them, therefore we wanted to come to you, even I, Paul, time and again. But Satan hindered us. Christians are supposed to make an impact on their surroundings against Satan.

And when we exalt the Lord and we hold up his word, we live our lives as Christ-like as we can, we are making an impact. Of course, Satan will come against that. Also, he'll challenge everything. So be prepared for that.

Our participation is to be intelligent, it is to be spiritual, and it is to be combative against mankind's enemy. That's why Paul wrote to the Ephesians. Now, he writes the Ephesian letter much later.

He's in Ephesus right now. God is looking to do a great work in this city, and he writes to them later, put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wilds of the devil. The wilds of the devil include the trickery and all the craftiness that goes with it, but also straight-out assaults on righteousness. And I also want to point out that the picture of the Christian in armor in Ephesians 6, as taught elsewhere, especially by Jesus, is one of offense, not defense. The gates of hell not prevailing means that we are the aggressors against the evil, and we do that by abiding in Christ, following the leanings of the Holy Spirit.

It's a very simple thing to prove. Just do nothing, and there'll be no clash with Satan. But when you start taking steps to become Christ-like and to share that Christ-likeness in your environments, you will meet with resistance, and that resistance against us is serious. But so is God. God is serious, too.

If he weren't, then we would have reason to be worried, but be anxious for nothing, but in all things, through prayer, with thanksgiving and supplication, let your requests be made known to God. The man who wrote that knew a lot about clashing with the devil. Romans chapter 16, and the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. He was writing to the church in Rome when he wrote that, and we resist the devil. We beat back his attacks. We can overcome his interests. We cannot annihilate him, nor are we trying to.

That's not within the sphere of our assignment. But hell can be overcome and defeated. Hell does not get to automatically win.

Of course, if you're not careful, you can perceive that he is winning all the time. Well, one of the proofs that he is defeatable is your salvation, the fact that you're saved. And if you can get saved, well, it would be quite arrogant to think no one else can be saved. Acts chapter 26, this Paul telling about his conversion to Christ, who and he himself is a monument for the defeat of Satan's interests, because Satan had him tighten his hand. And he tells about his conversion, and he says what Jesus said to him. Jesus said to him, I will deliver you from the people as well as the Gentiles to whom I now send you, to whom you will be saved. To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me. And so there is Paul being told, I'm going to send you.

You're going to be the aggressor. You're going to face spiritual opposition, but I'm going to be with you. And here again, this is a large city of Ephesus, and Paul's going to be here for three years because of the victories that he experienced in Christ. Sometimes Satan's work can only be dislodged through extraordinary helps from God. That's chapter 19, verses 19 through 20, actually to the end of the chapter. And so these extraordinary miracles, we now look at verse 11 to begin to understand further the spiritual opposition that we face. Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul. That's how Luke starts off this section. Unusual wonders through an unusual man.

Unusual is rarely repeated, otherwise it would be common and not unusual. And I have to say that because there are those over the centuries that try to fake the miracles, try to sensationalize Christianity. Christianity does not need to be sensationalized. It needs to stand up and face the opposition. And if it can do that, that's sensational enough.

No one else is doing it. The world has its response to iniquity, but it doesn't understand the iniquity that it is responding to. If that weren't true, there would be no such thing as a police force to go against the work of the devil on a natural level. But we're talking spiritual things, things that have to do with the souls of human beings. This again was a large movement of the Holy Spirit to take the large city of Ephesus. And it does.

It doesn't mean it takes everybody in the city. It takes those who would believe by faith. Now Paul, about this time, he writes his first Corinthian letter, because he had come from Corinth to Ephesus, and he writes to them, he says, but I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. There are many satans.

There are many people who are under the sway of hell, of the devil. And yet, he knew God was working there. He also knew God was not doing what he was doing in Ephesus in other places. This is where he was.

This is where the fight was going to be. He discerned that through the Spirit, and he acts upon it. Now, we see through the ages, those moments in history that we may call revivals.

I think it's an unfortunate title. I think a movement of the Spirit is more accurate. That because revival suggests that something dead has come back to life. And many times when there's a movement of the Holy Spirit, there was no life there to begin with.

And so I think that's a better way of expressing it. And, you know, you want to say, well, how do we know if the movement is of God? You know, don't believe every Spirit. Test the Spirit.

See if these things are so. Well, here are some signs that it is the movement of God. This is what was happening in Ephesus and other places, too, when the New Testament Jesus is exalted. Now, I'd have to point out New Testament Jesus because, for example, there are others that are not the true Christ. And, for example, the Muslims have their version of Jesus.

It ain't ours. Ours comes out of the New Testament and nowhere else. And so that is one of the key features to identify that God is doing something when Satan's kingdom is attacked. Well, if you're just preaching Christ but the enemy's interest is not being affected, who cares when people come to love the Scripture? Because how can you not, how can you not love the Word of God if you love God? They go together when men are led from falsehood into truth.

Well, that's going to cause fights. It's called salvation. It's what Jesus meant when he said, don't think I came to bring peace on earth, but a sword.

His role as the Prince of Peace comes later when there is an increase in love to God and men at the same time. Well, there are those that say, I love God, but there's nothing loving about them. And then there are those who sought to exalt humanity. They love mankind, but they don't love God.

They go together. Here in Ephesus, they're going to be blessed with exceptional teachings. They have these extraordinary miracles granted as a movement of Christ. It's no surprise that this church became the darling church in the ancient world amongst the first Christians.

And I say darling church because so many Christians played a role in the existence and the survival of this church in Ephesus. And it wasn't wasted on the first generation. That brings us to the next generation and topic. You younger Christians raised in the home, is it going to be wasted on you? Is Christ going to say to you at some point, you have left your first love and you better fix it or will you pick up the take up the mantle as did Elisha and go forward and part Jordans and do the work of God?

Well, it's up to you because it is not written anywhere that you should fail. In fact, in fact, the invitation, the resources, all available for the next generation to continue the work. The apostles, they preached to save souls. Miracles were secondary to them. Signs and wonders followed, but eventually they were not following on the same level as in the early days of the church because the word of Christ was moving to the front and people were to believe more and more by faith as Christianity established herself. You see this in gardening. You plant a new garden, you have to do certain things in the early stages of that garden until it gets established.

And then it began, you know, the root balls get bigger and they hold more water and just there's a process involved. Well, that's how it was for Christianity also. Paul later recalled to this Ephesian church when he spoke to the pastors how Ephesus was one. Years later he's passing through. He doesn't want to go to Ephesus because he's on his way to Jerusalem, but he must talk to the pastors. So he summons them to Miletus and they get there and again he tells them sort of remember when. Remember when I got here?

Remember what I did? Acts chapter 20 verse 27. He said this to them, for I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

He did not say for I have tried to do as many miracles as I could do. Paul preached from the the school of Tyrannus. He rented the hall and taught there and he also went house to house.

He got one-on-one with people. He invested himself in this church. We're supposed to look at this and take notes and after we take notes and study them, we are to take action. So those miracles and in Paul's case here, unusual miracles, they verified the apostolic authority. Jesus said these things would happen, that they would go out and preach and signs and wonders would follow and then he did it. This was critical because these men were used by God to contribute in some way to forming our New Testament scripture and I say that, for example, Luke. Luke the physician was not an apostle, but he was under apostolic authority and that means had Luke written things that were wrong outside of doctrine, the apostles were there to call him out on it and because they did not or maybe he did write things and they did correct them. We have no record of that, but we do have this record that he, as was John Mark, these men were under the watchful eye of the apostles and those apostles had that authority because of the miracles granted to them. So in Hebrews, Paul writes, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

Quick answer, there is no escape. If you come in contact with the gospel of Jesus Christ and you neglect to receive it, at some point there's no escape and so we point that we want to point the severity. Harden not your heart, today is the day of salvation. He continues, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his own will. You see how powerful that section becomes when he says, under the authority of God, according to his will and not the efforts of men. Unseen miracles, they accompany ministry, the ministry of the word.

We have to have them. They're miracles to this day in the unseen form and not so much the unusual form. God is still doing the extraordinary. To work around God not using so many miracles, the frauds, the charlatans and impostors, they fake it.

They get people to fake it with them and they're often exposed. So when our Lord performed miracles, he had at least three purposes in mind. The first was and not necessarily in this order altogether, compassion, revealing the mind of God concerning human needs.

He saw the sheep on a hill as without a shepherd. There were times he said, you know, the people are way far away from food and he challenged the apostles, we'll give them something to eat and we can't. And so he did and that was compassion. To illustrate spiritual truths, which of course the feeding of the multitudes both times illustrated other truths also, but sometimes his miracles were to demonstrate a point.

Jesus said at one point this was done, not because his parents sinned, but that the Son of Man could be exalted, that you could understand these things. Then there was the authentication of his messiahship, that he is the one, the anointed one, singled out from all human history. And of course, his credentials as messiah, no one, you could take all the prophets together and all their miracles and it wouldn't even begin to come close to what Jesus did.

And there was no way you could see what he did and just dismiss it with apathy. You were forced to choose sides and the apostles chose Christ. Most of the apostles chose Jesus, most of the Pharisees that we read of, they chose to resist him. The apostles followed this pattern as as much as they could. It did not authenticate their messiahship, but it did their apostleship, which is critical. You wouldn't have a New Testament if it weren't for those apostles and Christ knew that and that's why he gave them to the church and he himself has given some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor, teachers, for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ, this very serious business to God. And so this movement in Ephesus is validated by the miracles and the events will bear that out. The Holy Spirit prevails. Just look at verse 18 in Acts chapter 19 for a moment. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. We'll get to that when we get to that.

So need to move on. We've used up almost all of your time just on this first verse, but when Jesus said, upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell won't prevail, he meant every word of it. And regardless of whatever opposition, spiritual or otherwise we face, we're supposed to believe every word of it as Satan doesn't want that. When it comes to that, he should be crushed under our feet, the feet of faith. Verse 12, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Now Luke has already said don't go expecting this kind of thing all the time.

He has already stated this is unusual. These handkerchiefs and aprons, they are sweat bands and aprons from Paul's work. Clearly he's in Ephesus working with his hands, making a living at some point at least. And this would help validate his apostolic ministry because the sign parallels the works of Peter where Peter's shadow, you know, people want to get by his shadow because Paul's apostolic position was constantly challenged by Christians. Christians challenged him and without reason, perhaps envy, ignorance for sure and most of them, you know, they couldn't understand the transition from Moses' law to New Testament to the New Covenant.

They could not understand it and Paul got it and that's where much of his resistance came from. Psalm 103, bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all his benefits. Pause there. It's worthwhile to sometimes sit down and count some of the blessings that God has done for you because the flesh is forgetful and where it has no monuments, there can be lapses of trust and truth but when you remember, oh yeah, man, I remember that. That was the Lord and that was miraculous. There won't be three cheers in hell over that coming into your mind but the angels will applaud it. He continues, he says in Psalm 103, who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases. Notice which one comes first. Your iniquity is dealt with.

That's the biggest disease available to humanity and that's the main one. Romans 14, 18, for if we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's and Paul is saying whether he heals me or not, I belong to him. Whether I live or die, I am his. Habakkuk expressed that at third chapter of his prophecy.

He just said, look, all the food can go away. I'm going to trust God. Scoffers don't believe since they don't see miracles happening to them or around them. When did God obligate himself to do miracles before their eyes and the eyes of every single scoffer in history, in every single generation, in every single neighborhood? When did God obligate himself to do miracles so that they could believe?

He did not and one reason is because even if they saw them, many of them would not believe. Faith is the great divider between the sheep and the goats. They really don't want, the scoffers I'm speaking of, to see the miracles because they don't want the Jesus of the Bible to be Lord.

They want him to fail and they do not want to give an honest examination of truth. And by the way, who needs faith if you can have miracles? Well, faith is premium with God. We please God when we believe based on revelation and reason and anybody who says faith is irrational or has no authoritative revelation behind it is speaking of some other faith because they ain't speaking about true Christianity. True Christianity has revelation that knocks out speculation. You don't have to guess when God says, you're not supposed to have anything in front of me to worship but me.

Who needs to speculate after that? Well, what about, you know, no there's no what about. He's removed it through the revelation of his word. 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 / 2024-01-09 09:12:17 / 2024-01-09 09:21:08 / 9

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