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Ball of Confusion (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2024 6:00 am

Ball of Confusion (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 11, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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So Paul, from Rome, planned to go past Rome unto Spain. Wherever he could find ministry, that's where he would go. So this man that we're considering, we perk up and say, I want to know about this man because I'm looking at someone whom God got hold of. We're not looking really at Paul.

We can't miss him. But we look beyond him, as always, for the Lord Jesus Christ because without Christ, none of this would be happening. If you have your Bibles, please turn to the book of Acts chapter 19. We will consider verses 21 through 41, but we will take in the reading verses 24 through 29.

Acts chapter 19, beginning in verse 24. Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trait of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship. Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. So the whole city was filled with confusion and rushed into the theater, with one accord having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's travel companions. Ball of Confusion, that's the title for this morning's consideration, showcased before us in the behavior of these pagan worshipers or idolatrous worshipers, is a picture of the world in its confusion about spiritual things being alienated from Christ.

Sometimes, of course, through ignorance, other times through just sheer rejection. The natural world is our humanity in this fallen state without Christ, the natural man, the natural world. When the Bible speaks of the world, sometimes in context, it's speaking of the earth. Other times, it speaks of that world order of thought, which is against Christ.

Now, each human being has at least two citizenships. You can have a citizen in heaven and earth as a believer or a citizenship on earth and in hell as one who rejects Christ. John, writing his first letter, says, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and that is humanity in rejection, that world order. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. We who believe have looked at what worldlings believe and we reject their conclusions and have embraced Christ instead. The world has a problem, not a solution when it comes to the eternal state of man, but you can't tell them that.

They don't want to hear that. And we're seeing it illustrated in just this story. It is the world that is confused about spiritual truth at best and flat out in rejection of the revelation of Christ and the Bible that's from the Old to the New Testament.

So, overall, the world is a ball of confusion about these things. Still, God offers those of the world salvation through Christ. It is available or made available through His people, and we know that. That's basic Christianity. When Christ made His prayer recorded in John 17, He very much spoke about the difference between those of the world and those who have come out of the world through Him, and we pay attention to these things.

In John chapter 7, Jesus said, He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. This world has little to no use for the people of the Bible. And, of course, we're not surprised by that, nor should we be taken or distracted by that.

It should cause us to be focused. I mean, we tend to be so surprised when we meet with hostility against our faith. Those of the world are not our enemies.

We need to remember that. They are being used by our enemy. They are not our enemy, but they are being used by Satan, who, by definition of the very word Satan, are enemies of the people of God. They prefer their own ideas about God versus what God says, and, of course, then it gets into who says you're right and was the Bible true, and we should be ready for those things, a ready defense for everyone who asks a reason for the faith that is in us. Many of these same people who are hostile towards Christ are our loved ones oftentimes, and we continue to love them, and we continue to pray for them and look for opportunity to be useful to Christ and their salvation. One of the traps, I think, that is easy to fall into concerning a loved one is to suppose that we're the ones that are going to lead them to Christ.

You may have forfeited that rightfully or wrongfully. It just may not be available for you to directly lead them to Christ, but you most certainly can be praying that God will send someone who can appeal to them and reach them with the truth. This is war, and we should be mature about this and not have just a narrow view but a broad view to how effective Christ can be. Now, I'd mentioned that the world prefers its own ideas about God.

We know that, but we do need to hear it from time to time to be reminded what we're up against. For example, the Greeks and the Romans, the Romans just took the Greek gods and made them their own. They had a God for every emotion. God of love, God of wrath, God of war, God of peace. I mean, they had all these gods they just kind of just thought up, which were really just humans. Human emotions applied to their gods, attributes, and they were put on steroids.

So the wrath of Zeus was the wrath of any angry person, but it was a God-like figure, and so it was, of course, greater in that perspective. So they had a God for everything except one thing, truth. They had no God of truth. And the world is that way to this day.

That's where we're supposed to come. That's why it's so important not to be cast as a wacky Christian. I mean, if they're going to call you crazy, let them back it up. And if they can't back it up, then that's the goal. But if they can back it up, then we've got a problem. And there are many Christians who they lead with their chin, it seems, their emotions, and not staying, you know, grounded in the word.

And it's something easy to do, but it's to be avoided. Well, just like the world today, in the days of Paul, they opposed Christ. That includes the world's religions.

Just because a person is religious doesn't mean that they are saved or they are right. Such was the case in Ephesus. These people were quite fanatical about Diana. The merchants, of course, were making money from her.

This was the tourist trade for them. But the people who bought these figurines and statues from them, they were very serious about their worship. And so let's see if we can peel back some points out of this that will be helpful to us as servants of Christ. And we look at verse 21. When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, after I have been there, I must see Rome. Well, the converts they were making in Ephesus, through this man Paul, primarily, take him out of the picture and you really wouldn't, you'd have what we came across, that church that had not the Spirit.

After Paul started praying for the Spirit for them, transformed lives, and it became a strong church. Jesus warned this church later, if you don't fix this love with me, I'm going to take away your candle stand. Or your candle. Your lamp. There are no Christians in the region of Ephesus today.

He took it away. The only Christians that make it to Ephesus are on a tour trip. So very serious warning from Revelation 3. But we read about this in the previous two verses, well, Acts 19 verses 19 and 20. Also many of those who had practiced magic, now that's not sleight of hand, this was the occult, brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all.

They are very serious about their transformation. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. Well, that's what we're seeing, what Satan's response is to this, and Satan's going to make a response. That shouldn't put fear into us. It alarms us to be ready for him.

But we've not been given the spirit of fear, but the spirit of love and power and of a sound mind. Paul, it continues here in verse 21, purposed in the spirit when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia to go to Jerusalem, saying, after I have been there, I must also see Rome. So here he is setting his sight on the seat of the Roman Empire. Paul is saying, I'm going to Rome and beyond, because later he will write, not in Acts, in Corinthians, I'm going to Spain also. We don't know if he made it there. It's another conversation.

But there's a lot of interesting things here as a Christian and his humanity. So Macedonia and Achaia were in opposite direction of Jerusalem. So he wants to get to Jerusalem. So he goes in the opposite direction, just like a man.

Won't ask directions. Anyway, he was not rushed. He was focused. He had a plan, very much led by the spirit. And he longed to get to Jerusalem, but he had business to do on behalf of Jerusalem. And one of them was not only going back over Troas and then across to see the Aegean to modern-day Greece, Macedonia, Corinth.

Not only was he going to strengthen the believers, but he was taking a collection from the Gentile Christians to take to the Jerusalem Christians who were in great economic strain at this time. And his taking the long way in order to make this collection, he goes to Corinth. Then he goes to Ephesus and he says, I can't stay. Got to go to Jerusalem.

I'll be back. And from there he heads to Israel, Caesarea by the sea, then Jerusalem, uneventful, on to Antioch, his home church. Stays there a little while and says, I got to get moving again. Heads out towards the churches that are in Asia Minor, which is Turkey, called Asia Minor in the scripture. And he arrives again at Ephesus. There he ministers for over three years.

This is where we are in our story. He's about to leave Ephesus. And he's going to go again north to Macedonia, then Corinth, and then head towards Jerusalem. But before he goes to Jerusalem, he's got to meet with the elders, the pastors, in the church at Ephesus, without going to Ephesus. So he sends advance notice, meet me in Miletus, which is 30 miles south of Ephesus. And that's where we're going to get that incredible chapter 20 of Acts.

I love that section so much, the humanity of this man and those Christians around him, the love, the way they loved on him and he on them, the focus of Christ always being paramount in their eyes. So anyway, we have to wait there before we get it. But he stops off at Miletus. They come to him.

They all pray and go back about their business. He goes to Caesarea in Israel, then south to Jerusalem, and then Rome. Paul saw himself going to Rome, not as a tourist, not even as an evangelist, because it was already a church there, but as an apostle, a leader in Christianity, not just a church. And he ended up in Rome as a prisoner. We get to that 28th chapter of Acts, which I can't wait to get to. And so Paul saw himself going to Rome. He writes about it.

We catch it a little bit. About this time, when he gets up to Corinth again, he's going to write to the Roman church. And we read about his heart towards this church he had never visited before.

And we pick it up in Romans chapter 1, verse 9. For God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing, I make mention of you always in my prayers, making requests if by some means now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. Now that will is going to be something he's not ready for, but he was prepared for it.

In other words, he didn't see it coming, but he was ready for it when he goes as a prisoner. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gifts so that you may be established. This is just beautiful. That is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often plan to come to you, but was hindered until now, that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. So you see him pouring out his heart. I love you guys.

I've never met you. He probably knew some of them. But he, you know, I make mention of you in my prayers all the time. And he wants to get there, but he just can't get there. But he will. Moses, Moses saw himself entering the Promised Land as head of the armies of Israel.

Well, that didn't happen. He has to wait over 1,500 years to get into the Promised Land, and there's no army with him. He's with the prophet Elijah. But he's good with this, and this is the story of Christianity.

So Paul, from Rome, planned to go past Rome unto Spain. Wherever he could find ministry, that's where he would go. So this man that we're considering, we want to, we perk up and say, I want to know about this man, because I'm looking at someone whom God got hold of. We're not looking really at Paul.

We can't miss him. But we look beyond him, as always, for the Lord Jesus Christ, because without Christ, none of this would be happening. So verse 22, so he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time. Well, when Paul asked men to do something, they complied.

He was very used to men doing what he asked. Papalos is sort of a hiccup, but we covered that, and he seems to recover and is off about his business. Now, why, again, so he went to Macedonia.

Why? He's collecting the funds to bring to Jerusalem for this urgent need. These were not offerings.

This was an urgent need, free will offering within the church. When we get to that, probably chapter 21, it's going to be noteworthy that we don't hear anyone say to Paul, thank you. Those kind of things keep us humble and grateful and make us mindful of how we ought to express gratitude. Gratitude's not a little thing. That's why the Bible has so many sections of praise. Praise is gratitude. You can't praise God if you're not grateful to God, and that forces you to think, what am I grateful for? You know, you want to be an angry old man or an angry old woman, start yelling at the clouds when you go outside? Just don't count your blessings.

Ignore your blessings and focus on what you don't have, and you will be that cloud, you know, enemy of the clouds. Anyway, verse 24, for a certain man named Demetrius, a silver smith who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small prophet to the crescent. Well, I'm glad it says he was a silver smith who made shrines because I'm thinking he's just an old guy named Smith. Anyhow, Diana, the Greek goddess, the Romans call her Artemis. Some of your Bibles may translate it.

That's the original, but the New King James goes with Diana. She was the virgin goddess of the moon, of hunting, of wild animals. So, you know, if you're one of those people that are into hunting, you had to have a patron god for everything.

Well, she covered that one. Your emotions were there. I love hunting. I love animals.

You know, they're a little cute and fuzzy and they bite you. But anyway, the patron goddess of virginity, I just tack things onto her. She had one of the favorites, incidentally, of all. When Demetrius says the whole world loves Diana, he wasn't kidding.

It was not an understatement. So here Paul comes along preaching the way of Christ. So long as men preach the way and it disturbs their thoughts, changes some of their habits, long as they could do that. But when it starts hitting their pocketbook, there's going to be an element that's going to rise up very seriously. And this is what we're seeing in this section.

Not the only reason to rise up against Christianity, but it is a big one. And when Paul wrote to Timothy, his first letter, the love of money is a root of all evil, all kinds of evil. And it's true, you chase it back and it's like there's always the money, always about the money. You know, dirty politicians.

Well, it's just not because they're not bathing. It's because the money. But anyway, because how many of them go into Washington, you know, making 200 grand a year and they come out these multimillionaires.

What happened? Did they hit lotto or something? Well, they did. You know, the lobbyists took care of them, for example. Anyway, there were those hardliners, and there always are, here in Ephesus, saying to Christianity what the demon said to Christ in the synagogue in Caesarea long ago, leave us alone.

We're happy the way we are. And Christianity is always replying just like Christ replied, be quiet and come out of him. And that's the struggle, the contest between the world and truth. And we are the ones that bring the truth. So this Diana, big business during her spring festival, when you had an influx of pilgrims from all over the world coming to converging on this, one of the seven wonders of the world, her temple. Imagine if Christians went down to New Orleans and had such an impact that no one wanted any part of Mardi Gras again. Well, the merchants would be up in arms about that. Imagine if youth at spring break said, you know, we're going to skip spring break because we've now given our heart to the Lord.

There's nothing there for us. Well, somebody's going to start attacking Christianity. Well, that's what Paul is facing here. He's hitting them in their pockets without even trying. He's just saving souls.

The outcome is they don't want to be bothered with these little figurines. Verse 25, he called them together with the workers of similar occupation and said, men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. So it wasn't, hey, he's messing with our God. That God wasn't really Diana. It was Mammon. It was money.

This man. I mean, again, the people that bought the gods, you know, they again were serious about their worship to Diana. Some of them would take the little figurines made of silver and offer them to the temple. And the priests would smelt down that silver and that was money. And it wasn't considered corruption.

And spiritually it was, but not to them. And so anyway, he calls them together. You know, Paul caught trouble from the Jews for dealing with the Sabbath and restrictions and the rabbinical Judaism and the departure from their own law. Here he's catching it from Gentiles who are upset that he pulverized idolatry.

How dare he say you can't make a god to a man? Well, that's what he's doing and that's what they charged him with. Incidentally, the Jews today in many circles are very serious about still stacking up laws on their people. Then, very cleverly, coming up with ways around the very laws they made.

They're ingenious at this. I don't want to take too much time on it, but if you ever dug into it, you're just scratching your head. Why not skip those steps? Read Galatians and Romans and Hebrews and come to Christ.

You won't have all that junk. Well, anyway, Demetrius, he can offer no proof of truth for his religion. All he can do is insist. He enriched himself from this religion, but the fact is that insistence is not a presentation of truth. You can't just yell at somebody, I'm right, and expect them to say, well, let me bow down to that idea that you just shared with us. Not only would the merchants be making money, the whole city would make money from these pilgrims coming in.

It was an industry. What Demetrius did not realize is that God would bless him personally without Diana and curse him personally with her. Is that not the message? We have to try to put it in such a way to unbelievers that they get the point and not just hear us speak.

That they get the point and there's nothing wrong with asking them straight out, do you understand what I'm saying to you? Well, verse 26, moreover, you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. What a successful ministry. When the Lord said the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, that is put on display when men imagine a god and just make him up. They're very sophisticated today, they don't need the statues, they just need the lifestyle. It's oftentimes a lifestyle that just renounces Christ and upholds whatever it is they find that controlling influence of their life.

What an inferior and pathetic view of a supreme being to have. 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. 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 / 2024-01-11 08:53:04 / 2024-01-11 09:02:17 / 9

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