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Paul vs. James (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 31, 2024 6:00 am

Paul vs. James (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 31, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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They were freely willing.

And let me pause there. He's saying, these Macedonian Christians, largely Gentiles, wanted to give money to the struggling Christians in Jerusalem. And they really didn't have money themselves. But they were so happy, just joyful to do this. And it was a sacrifice.

They were giving from their lack of abundance. And Paul is pointing that out. And he's saying to them, to the Corinthians, don't let them out Christian you. You got to step up too.

You said you were going to help. 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 21 as he begins his message, Paul versus James. The message is entitled, Paul versus James.

You can see that as a sporting contest, a legal contest. It's going to be, I think, very insightful and helpful to us. What I wanted from my pastor, before I became a pastor, was for him to open up the word and share with me whatever insights the Holy Spirit gave to him. Knowing that then the Holy Spirit would minister to me based on the information that I was exposed to.

A very pleasant process. Read verses 17 through 22, but we'll try to get to the 26th verse in the exposition. Acts chapter 21 verses 17 through 22. And when he had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. The following day, Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present. When he greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord and they said to him, you see brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed and they are all zealous for the law. But they have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.

Oh, it's on. Paul and James, they share the same teachings about Jesus Christ. They love the same Lord. They did not share the same methods of ministry.

That's not uncommon and it's not necessarily wrong, but there was a lot of friction between these two men and the men who were under their leadership as well. God placed James in that Jerusalem church for those Jews who were trapped in Judaism, who had a hard time transitioning from the law of Moses and the rituals and that somehow these rituals made you better off with God. That transition from there to the grace of Jesus Christ and his fulfilling all of the rituals that they were given. And this again was a very difficult thing and often it led to a lot of separation, conflict and confusion. But God on the other hand sent Paul to the Gentiles to help them to come to Christ with no trace of Judaism and that's the charge against him. It spilled over. You're teaching now, you're teaching the Jews also, the Jewish Christians that they don't have to be Jewish anymore in their religion that is.

This is what in a nutshell it's all about. Again, this was too much for the Jerusalem converts, including James. James and Paul loved the same Lord. They were the only two known converts to Jesus Christ by Jesus Christ after the resurrection. James was not as determined to see Judaism replaced as Paul was. Paul was adamant about we're done with that. We've moved on to the next phase of God's plan that we are in the age of grace and it was very difficult. The two were always uneasy with each other.

Had a lot of history and it wasn't good with each other. And we can't escape these perhaps unpleasant facts. These are facts and you can't just live in La La Land and pretend that everybody just held hands and skipped along and that is not reality.

The alternative to looking at the facts to me are unacceptable and that La La Land is that mental state of someone that's not willing to accept what's really going on. I should point out that there are some very good Bible teachers who come to Paul's defense in all of this and James and then there are just as good Bible teachers on the other side that have a lot of criticisms for Paul and James and I hope I can call it like it is. But at the least you're going to be exposed to things that you might not normally think about that are going to make you stronger in Christ especially when you come across this Christian versus that Christian. You're going to have to ask yourself, where am I in this picture? Am I siding with the Holy Spirit? Am I in a quagmire?

What is going on here? And go know that you're not the first one to go through it, that there are those who love the Lord Jesus just as much as you that had to struggle also. This pressure that is going to be placed on Paul to appease. Some think appeasement is a virtue.

I'm not one of them. Let's look at verse 17. And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. Now again this is Paul and he's got this contingent, this entourage of Gentile converts to Christianity. A few Jews mixed into or believers in Christ and they're bringing with them a lot of money. They're coming from various churches. For example, Trophimus who's from Ephesus is with them and he's going to be the one they say, well we spotted him in the temple which was not true. But that comes later on in this chapter.

We won't get to it. But suffice it to say that they brought with them a substantial amount of money to donate to the church for the Christians who were struggling financially in Jerusalem. This was not a common occurrence.

This was a special need. Now these brethren here in verse 17 are not the identical ones that Paul's going to meet with the next day. The elders or to the pastors and James who is evidently the leader of the church in Jerusalem at this time.

The apostles have transitioned leadership over to the pastors. They've moved on. I'll come back to that comment in a little bit. Waiting for Paul just over the horizon. Luke calls it like he saw it. He writes it the way he saw it.

The things he omits are quite insightful. Verse 18, on the following day Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present. Now this is James the half brother of Jesus.

The author of the letter of James that we have in the New Testament just after Hebrews which is kind of ironic. Peter and John are gone. He is the leader.

They're not dead. They're ministering but they're not in Jerusalem. He's now head of the church there. Paul represents the Gentiles that are coming flooding into the church. Now as for these apostles departing from Jerusalem, they saw Jerusalem as the city that stones the prophets and kills those who are sent to her. They comply with what the Lord said.

Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. But the Jews that stayed in Jerusalem, the converts to Christ, they were old wineskins in this sense. They could not handle the change. The more you look into what was going on in Jerusalem, the more you're saying to the apostles, if I lived there, I would have gone with you. A very difficult place for Christianity. And it really doesn't change until after Jerusalem is destroyed in the temple. Then things will change a little bit more.

But we're not there yet. All the elders were present. They were expecting Paul.

These are the pastors. They knew his views on Judaism and they held to Judaism with a clinched fist. They knew that at this time he had written the Galatian letter, the Corinthian letters, the Roman letter. He also wrote Thessalonians by this time, but the Thessalonian letter really didn't come at Judaism. But Galatians and Romans, oh man, Paul just unloaded on all the problems with continuing with the line of the old covenant and not coming into the new covenant. And this caused tension between the Gentile church overall and the Jerusalem church. The Jews outside of Jerusalem were a little bit more flexible, a little bit more willing to get it, but not so Jerusalem. Now this is the time of Pentecost, so there was this enormous number of pilgrims, male pilgrims, coming into Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. It was a mandatory feast for the men in Israel to come to Jerusalem for this.

And so it's quite crowded and that's why we read about Nathan owning a house in Jerusalem, a place for them to find lodging. These elders were, again, believers that observing the rites and the ceremonies was a part of salvation, which Paul, again, destroyed theologically, brilliantly. They were fervently opposed to Paul's views that Christ set us free from every yoke, from the yoke of the laws, rituals, from bondage. They were opposed to this.

They were concerned with outside appearances. Paul, of course, pointed out often, as did Jeremiah, that God was after the heart and they were a big problem. They're known as Judaizers, trying to mix Christianity with the laws of Moses.

These are the Judaizers and they were a big problem in that day. In verse 19, and it's just going to open up more. Everything I'm saying to you, hopefully you'll see why I'm saying it to you as we read the verses. Verse 19, When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. Now, they're sitting there listening to this and they're saying, hurry up and get past this so we can get to you. That is what is going on.

As I mentioned, he's telling them the Gentiles were flocking into Christianity and the Judaizers saw the Gentiles as the wee boy on the boat, sort of that inferior brand of Christianity. They struggled with this. I don't even know many of them struggled. They were quite comfortable with it.

They thought they were right. And I'm not saying they were damned to hell because of this. I'm telling you what was going on in those days when Paul had to face the conflict. Pastors face a lot of criticisms.

I haven't ever had to face any of those. It's nothing compared to what this apostle had to endure. And he brings proof with him, not only of the converts outside of Jerusalem, outside of Israel, but their great love for the Jerusalem Christians.

The bags of money. Earlier he wrote to the Romans, but now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. I'm going to love on them, to serve as best we can. And they brought some material blessings because that's what was needed. As James would later write, or he probably wrote earlier, what is good if you tell your brother be warmed and be filled if he's cold and hungry? And that's all you're doing is just giving him a verbal blessing, but you're not helping him.

Well, Paul's bringing the help. Luke does not record that touching moment when they said thank you and their hearts were moved because it didn't happen. You can't leave that kind of thing out. Knowing how Luke wrote, knowing how these people lived, you don't leave that out unless it did not happen. And it is missing from the story.

How does Luke, you know, what does he do? He noticed the cold shoulders. He noticed that they were looking down on them. This low attitude of gratitude. It was there. It meant so much to the Gentiles to give.

But no thank you for your love as mentioned. Now, this is not anti-Semitic. This is how it was then. You can understand why the Jews would struggle so much like this. God had dealt with them in Babylon. You can understand it. It's just still not acceptable on another level because Paul got it. The apostles began to get it. Peter later on admitted, Paul's hard to understand, but he's right.

Well, listen to this. Paul had already wrote this to the Corinthian Christians who were largely Gentiles. He says, moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God, that the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. So he's writing to the Corinthians. He's saying, let me tell you about the church in Philippi, in that region.

He's in southern Greece, what we call today. He's telling them about the churches in the northern area. And so he says, moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing.

And let me pause there. He's saying, these Macedonian Christians, largely Gentiles, wanted to give money to the struggling Christians in Jerusalem. And they really didn't have money themselves. But they were so happy, just joyful to do this. And it was a sacrifice.

They were giving from their lack of abundance. And Paul is pointing that out, and he's saying to the Corinthians, don't let them out Christian you. You got to step up too. You said you were going to help, now it's time to start setting it up. And he'll say, I don't want any money collections when I get there. I'm there to preach the word.

I'm there to count dollars. And so he gives specific instructions. And he goes on, he says, they were imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering of the saints. And not only as we had hope, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us by the will of God.

Paul said, these Christians up there, they first sought the Lord before they started talking about giving. They didn't have just this emotional moment, oh we've got to do something. Even if it's crazy, we have to do something. They said, we want to do something.

Let's see what the Lord will do. And they took it to him. And when God made it clear to them, then they took it to Paul. And when Paul found out that this is the process they took, he boasted on them to the Corinthians. The Corinthians stepped up too. So what I'm trying to point out is that these Gentiles, this contingency of Gentiles that came to Jerusalem, they loved these Jerusalem Jews. They were expecting, you know, not a ticker tape parade or a red carpet, but they expected to be loved on. The leaders weren't giving them that love. That first house that they went to, yeah they had the brethren there, but there was a large element, myriads as James said, that just had that cold shoulder.

And so this is what these men had to face. Earlier in Acts 11, Paul had brought relief to Jerusalem from the church up in Antioch, him in Barnabas, but this has expanded. Now they did glorify the work that Paul was doing outside of Israel. Verse 20 tells us that. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, you see brother, how many myriads of the Jews there are who have believed and they are zealous for the law. Well I told you, Luke's going to call it like he saw it. Luke said, yeah they thanked the Lord for the salvation of Gentile souls, but they couldn't wait to change the subject.

And if you read it, it reads just like that. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord and then they said to him. So, in spite of all the suffering that Paul went through, it was appropriate to glorify the Lord. Jesus said, without me you do nothing.

Any fruit you have on that vine comes from me. And they all knew this, even the Jewish as well as the Gentile believers, they all knew that. But now we turn to the Paul versus James segment. And they said to him, you see brother, how many myriads of the Jews there are who have believed and they are zealous for the law. Why aren't they zealous for grace? So this is a yeah but.

Yeah we see the Gentiles coming in, yeah but. Luke noticed how quickly they changed the subject and he writes it that way. Again, leaving out any thank you for your love offering.

We needed this. You see, you're painting them in a bad picture. No, Luke's telling the truth and if it's bad, it's bad. If it's good, it's good. If it's in between, it's in between.

You make the call. I'm not dictating to you but to me it is very clear. Here it is, they are still zealous for the law. That's what your Bible says. That's what Luke wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

They still like Judaism. The very thing Paul attacked in Galatians and Romans as being obsolete. Paul said listen, it served the school master in the sense that it brought you to the place of education.

But it was not the end of the journey, the instruction. Paul could have said, yeah they're still zealous for the law because you tolerated them. He could have done that. It would have been a disaster. It would have been terrible if he did that. But he would have been justified. He could have said, James, the only reason these guys are going around boasting about the law of Moses and missing the grace of Christ is because you let them.

But he doesn't. The Jerusalem Christians were eager to address the elephant in the room. Paul knew, he wrote, I don't know what awaits me. He's still going to roll out as a time release because he still has to face the non-converted Jews. They're going to beat him up a little bit before he's rescued.

Paul, this would have been nice if he heard this, Paul, any thoughts on how to deal with this mammoth pachyderm? No, they never asked that question. That would have been very, you know, that would have showed that they wanted to work through this together. No, they're going to dictate to Paul what he has to do. And Paul, in love, love restrained that man. You say, you're making Paul look like the hero and James like the zero.

The story's there. You draw your own conclusion. James is still a brother of the Lord. His letter is just as much scripture as any of Paul's writings. But on this matter, I'm sorry, I side with Paul. However, we're going to get to some justifications for James too. He's not like this bad man.

He's caught up in this mess. Rituals are us as an approach to faith. They just could not understand that Judaism was replaced. Even though Jeremiah told them hundreds of years ago, behold the days are coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Well, the Jews know Messiah would bring that.

Well, he's come. And they acknowledge that he is their Messiah. And yet they're not willing to abandon the old covenant. And this is why the Galatian letter and the Roman letter infuriated them. Their feelings overruled the revelation of God. And not until the temple is destroyed and Jerusalem is destroyed, maybe about 10 years from where we are now, 10, 12 years from what's taking place here now, when the Romans will finally destroy it.

Not then do you see the Judaizers pretty much go away. But that also led to the Gentile Christians becoming the dominant people of the church. So when the temple is destroyed and the city is razed, it really validated all of Paul's teachings. It was sort of God saying that's right. What Paul said comes from me. He's just the scribe, which is always the case. Paul's heart had to be sinking the whole time he's in this meeting. He's not the type of man that, I mean, he faced stonings, beatings. He's not the type of man to be, oh, I'm scared of these guys.

He's thinking, what am I going to do to glorify Christ? How do we unscramble this scrambled egg? Well, you can't. Even Christ doesn't unscramble it. They have to work through this. And it's an ugly walk.

It brings fruit. But the facts remain. These zealots, these pastors in Jerusalem, seem to have had no convictions that the zealots outside of Christianity were wrong. So Paul wrote in Romans 10, I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

They have this emotional thing with God, but it's not biblical. And he already wrote that. They would have known that that existed. They had so much, I don't know what they could have recalled, but they knew how they felt about Paul. And Paul walked into this. He knew this was coming. He just didn't know what colors would come towards him, but he knew something was coming.

And now he's getting the first wave of it. In verse 21, they continue, they're speaking to him, but they have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor walk according to the customs. Now, most of the Bible commentators will say, well, Paul didn't really say that. And there's truth in that. But on the other hand, it's exactly what he meant. And I'm going to read to you what he said, but he did not see this coming, that everything he taught would be turned against him by his beloved brethren.

You understand that as an opposing party, anything you say can and will be held against you. But here it is, his brethren. Galatians 6, 15.

And remember, he already wrote this letter a long time ago. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything but a new creation. Oh, man, when they read that, what were you saying about circumcision? They forgot all about the new creation part. And they zeroed in on no circumcision.

You'd think the men would be happy about that. In Galatians 5, he says, indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. Now, he's writing to Gentiles. They could say, well, he's talking to the Gentiles.

But no, he's talking to everybody. 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 / 2024-02-20 01:37:44 / 2024-02-20 01:47:14 / 10

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