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Upper Level Christianity (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2024 6:00 am

Upper Level Christianity (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 30, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Don't be disappointed in your faith when you are confronted with a lion and you are dealing with perplexity and fears. Don't be surprised by that. Oh no, I should be a stronger Christian.

Work it through. And those of you, if you're a Christian and you say, you know what, I know I'm a weaker Christian. Just take confidence in this exhortation.

You are a lot stronger coming under God's word than what you would have been had you not come under God's word. 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. Acts chapter 21 is where Pastor Rick will be teaching today as he continues his message, Upper Level Christianity. Verse 6, when we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship and they returned home. And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day.

Now notice the pronouns are we, the we part. Luke is with them. Verse 8, on the next day, we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea and entered the house of Philip the evangelist who was one of the seven and stayed with him. Now the way this reads in verse 8, on the next day, we who were Paul's companions departed. It sounds like they departed from Paul. See the Bible does this. You've got to keep everything in context.

You've got to, okay, what's happening? Well verse 11 tells us Paul is still with them and I just point that out because, again, in Old and New Testament there are things like this and you can misunderstand what's going on if you disconnect the context from what is taking place. Anyway, this is a major seaport in Israel, Ptolemais. Herod the butcher established this seaport. Now I have a problem with saying Alexander the great, Herod the great.

These guys weren't great. And especially Herod, the one that had the baby's killed at Bethlehem. Well, he's a great monster. I prefer Herod the butcher, though I'm not going to change the history books. That's who he was.

He did a lot of building and works like that. Years ago, of course, Peter was in this region in the house of Cornelius and in his sermon the Holy Spirit fell upon them while Peter preached. The house of Philip, again 20 years ago, over 20 years ago, Philip and Paul were on opposite sides and now they're in communion with each other. Doesn't that add to the idea of communion that we have the table of the Lord? You sit and eat with those who would have been your enemy had they not come to Christ.

And that's what we're going to see here. It mentions he is an evangelist, one who concentrates his service on reaching lost souls with the gospel. That's the work of evangelism, bringing the good news. Evangelism doesn't work on those who are already believers. That's where the teaching comes in, on the exhortations. Only Philip in scripture is called an evangelist.

Of course, there were others. Paul, when he writes to Timothy much later years after this, he says, now first he sets it up. He tells him to preach the word in season and out, that Christ is the judge. But there are going to be those who get tired of teaching, of the expositional teaching of the scripture, and they want their ears tickled.

They want sensation. And then he says this on the heels of that, but, see that disjunction right there, but you be watchful in all things. I have to pause there again.

Remember Gideon? And the Lord said, do you see the ones that scoop up the water and drink and look around and scoop up the water versus those who just bury their face in the water and try to just drink it all out? Drink it all out? One of them is paying attention to their surroundings. One of them has a mind that is on guard. When Paul says to Timothy, you be watchful. He says, don't drink like a dog. As he continues, endure afflictions. I don't want to.

I do not. Is there anybody here who wants affliction? Now, it's going to come. What do you do when it comes? The best thing to do is take it. Take the pain.

The history is loaded with people who can endure afflictions. Do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry.

Do your job. But he's not saying it in that tone. He loved Timothy so much. He doted over Timothy. Now, now, when Timothy gets there, don't let anybody mess with him. Timothy is like, I got this, Paul.

I mean, I've been trekking down these Roman roads by myself, and I'm fine. Not the dynamic between father and son, even into maturity, even though he's only his spiritual son. This Philip is the same one that led the Ethiopian to Christ. He is the same one that was chosen by the apostles to serve with Stephen and the others as faithful witnesses in the church. So here you have a man, not only does he have a burden and a gift to reach the lost, a burden for the lost, a gift to reach them, but he's also serving in the church.

You're not saying, I do my stuff on the street corner. No, he's not saying that. He's in church. It's a blessing when you have people in the church that serve, and then you have those that serve in multiple positions.

And this is a type of Philip. He was appointed a faithful servant in the church. You can read about that in the earlier chapters in Acts. He says, who is one of the seven? And there it is from Acts chapter 6 and Acts chapter 8, verse 9 now. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

Well, these are unmarried daughters. That's the point that he's making here. Now, there's a big difference between foretelling and forth-telling. Well, to do the forth-telling, the tongue has to touch the teeth to pronounce the T-H.

Try it. Anyway, they prophesied. They're not telling the future. That's foretelling, telling something in advance. Otherwise, why is Agabus coming down?

I'll bring some of these points out. They are speaking forth the Word of God, and so there are those Christians that think anytime they hear the word prophecy, it has something to do with future events. That is not biblically true. That is one element of prophecy. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, but he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. When you quote scripture especially timely in a timely way, that's the office of prophecy, one of the offices of it, not as a prophet, not as in the office, but it is one of the functions of prophecy. Speaking forth God's truth from scripture as opposed to the prediction side, Joel said, and it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions. And this is part of that fulfillment as it was when Peter said it at Pentecost, he pointed to this verse also.

And so this is right. They're very likely, this included singing. Singing is an element of prophecy in scripture. When Saul, King Saul, before he became king but he was chosen, he was with the prophets and he was singing and when he did that they said, is not Saul amongst the prophets? Well, Saul was a disaster from day one. Well, what's one good thing you can say about Saul? He's still not king. That's the only thing you can say.

There's really nothing redeeming about his character. Anyway, Ephesians chapter 5, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. That is a function of speaking forth spiritual things from the father. A lot of folks don't want this. They want it to be something sensational.

What are you supposed to do? Every day you got a prophecy? Thus the price of milk, you know, gasoline prices will come down next week. I mean it's just God's not a chatterbox. Anyway, there's no mention of them telling the future in this form of prophecy. Predictive prophecy will be exercised when Agabus gets there in the next verse.

We'll come to that in a moment. So prophecy includes song, proclamation, prediction. Predictive prophecy is not forecasting.

You're not looking at a trend and then coming up with a conclusion. You have been told something. It has been imparted to you by God himself what is going to happen and it will happen and that happened to the letter as Agabus said it would. So you have song, proclamation, exaltation, and edification.

All of those fall under the umbrella of prophecy. But as I mentioned, shallow Christianity demands its thrills. If you were to stand and preach in a monotone, it would be tough to listen to over a long period of time, but if a pastor were to stand and preach monotone truth with profound insights, that would turn a lot of people who claim Christ off.

They're waiting for him to grunt or something or tackle, do something sensational for us. That is unfortunate. Jude said this, these are sensual persons who cause divisions not having the spirit and usually when that's in practice, they consider themselves so full of the spirit they can't contain themselves. Now I'm not saying everyone is like this or everyone who gets excited, but this element of shallowness does exist in Christodom amongst churchgoers and be on guard against it.

I find truth emotionally excites me. Yes, that's it. When God gives me an insight and says, you know they never watched Samson's hair? That's like, yes, that's it. I love those kind of moments.

I would have never come up, thank you. By the way, it doesn't work that way. We wish it did. Lord, since I've got your attention about this other matter, it doesn't happen that way. He knows better. Anyway, verse 10, and we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Now he's going to foretell. He had already foretold of a famine that hit Jerusalem back in Acts chapter 11.

It happened just that way. Now he's prophesying predictive prophecy of Paul's imprisonment and it happened exactly like he said it would. They're going to arrest you. Here's the part we missed. We see the belt getting tied in the chains. The part we might miss is Agabus said, the Jews are going to arrest you and they're going to give you to the Gentiles. You see, you just can't, why didn't they just kill him like they did Stephen?

Because God told him what's going to happen and God wasn't going to let them kill him like they did Stephen. So this is all good stuff. I'm excited until trouble comes, right?

Then we're scrambling. Well, that's okay. Don't be disappointed in your faith when you are confronted with a lion and you are dealing with perplexity and fears.

Don't be surprised by that. Oh no, I should be a stronger Christian. Work it through. And those of you, if you're a Christian and you say, you know what, I know I'm a weaker Christian. Just take confidence in this exhortation. You are a lot stronger coming under God's word than what you would have been had you not come under God's word.

You know, Satan wants to mess with our heads and once he's allowed to do that, it doesn't come out well for us and usually others around us. It does take some grit and you have it. You might not think you do, but you have it. You may not, and I'm pretty sure about this, you may not have as much as Paul, but you've got some and put it to use.

The more you use it, the better at it. I've been carrying this thought around for a while. Shelby Fort, who I mentioned in one of the other sessions, was a historian, a well-read historian about the letters and the exchanges of the days of the Civil War. He was asked, what did the veterans of that war do about what today the shamanologists have called, well, okay, let me stop.

Today it's called post-traumatic stress and he was asked, have you found anything? And Shelby knew, as a boy, some of these Civil War veterans visited them, some of them double amputees, etc., and he said it quite the opposite. They accepted it. They were proud of their heritage, both north and south. They were proud that they fought.

He said the ones that he encountered were jolly. He felt, even as a child, somewhat humbled by that. So it's interesting that this grit is available to human beings, but the devil comes along and tells you it's not available for you. We get tripped up with a lot of things. Maybe you preach the love of Christ, but you really doubt that Christ loves you. Those kind of things, that messes things up, does it?

No. Remember Christ loves you, died for you. Be honest. Even Shakespeare said this above all, to thine own self, be true. Don't lie to yourself. It's liberating to say, you know what, I am pretty dumb when it comes to this or that. You know, if someone said to me, look, I got a calculus, calculation for you, I would say, get away from me.

I never knew it. It's not my strong point. But calling down maple syrup on people is something that I think I could manage.

You'll think about that later. A harmless way of expressing your disdain for the other person is to cover them in maple syrup. Okay, here he is in verse 11. You don't know what it's like to tell good jokes and look out and see straight faces.

It's awful. Verse 11, when he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his hands and feet, and said, thus says the Holy Spirit, so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. What a dramatic illustration. Is that necessary, Agabus?

Couldn't you just tell us? He said, no, because if I illustrate it this way, you won't forget it. And if you don't forget it, when it happens, you will understand you're in the right faith. You belong to Jesus Christ, and a prophet has been among you, and you've been privileged to see this, and you've been privileged to see it, so when you preach, you can preach with that blessed assurance stuff we believe in, instead of preaching from a position of doubt. Paul's hands and feet, they would be bound, but his heart was free forever. He wrote again to Timothy, I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains, but the word of God is not chained. Man, this guy was in Satan's face all the time. It's like after a while, Satan's trying to get away from him. Thus says the Holy Spirit.

This is impressive to me. In the Old Testament, we read, thus says Yahweh, thus says the Lord. When Christ walks, he doesn't say, thus says the Lord, not once. He says, I say to you, because he is the Lord.

It would have been wrong for him to say it any other way. At Pentecost, after Pentecost, we read it, thus says the Holy Spirit. There in our scripture, the triune Godhead speaks and presents itself, reveals to us the equality within the Godhead, that if the Father speaks, it includes the Son and the Holy Spirit. If the Son speaks, it includes the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks, it includes the Father, and they're indivisible. We don't have three gods.

We have one God and three persons within that, that come from the Father. He says, into the hands of the Gentiles. Well, how else was Paul supposed to get in front of so many people?

This was an excellent vehicle. He got in front of so many people because of this. In fact, God says, I'm going to lock you down in jail for a while, and while you're there, I need you to write Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. And where will we be without that Colossian letter?

Let no one cheat you through the philosophies of this world. Man, you've got to love those hard-hitting jailhouse letters. Even Caesar, he was going to get to Caesar, and he did, and Rome was going to pay for the trip. And that's exactly what happened. He got a free bath on the way.

If you can call shipwreck that. Verse 12, Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem. Here we go again.

They did not doubt Agabus' prophecy. He said it, it's going to happen, Paul. You got to love that. They're doing as Peter did, full of human love, not agape. Human love says save yourself. Agape love says finish the job. Verse 13, Then Paul answered, What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart?

For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem, the name of the Lord Jesus. He got choked up here, no question. You can't, how do you not get choked up, people loving on you like this? You know what I mean? I mean, but the word love is not there, but is that not love?

Is this not full-blown agape love? And unfortunately, it's missing from too many churchgoers. It was missing from some in Paul's day.

They harassed him. Romans 12, I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Yeah, Paul, I hear you, but that's upper level.

And though I want to get there, I feel like it can't. And God says, you stick with me, and if I need you to get there, I'll get you there. Paul could take no credit for any of this. You think he got to heaven? Did you see that?

Did you see what I did? They would have pulled the lever, gone to the other place. Anyway, verse 14, so when he would not be persuaded, we see saying, the will of the Lord be done. Well, there it is. They weren't saying, okay, it was God's will that you should not go. They just, that was their interpretation. They're saying, fine, he's not going to cave into us as much as we want. They saw the look on his face. They saw his heart breaking. They listened to his tone.

He loved them back. There's a difference between stubbornness and resolve. Stubbornness is the flesh, that carnal nature, that's going to do what it wants to do, and really isn't too interested in what God wants. Its determination is homegrown, not heaven-born.

This is not what Paul was offering. Subbornness is determined to continue the wrong course just because. Maybe because you want it so much, or maybe because you just want to stick it to somebody else. You don't want to give the satisfaction to the other person being right. That's why it's so hard for some people to come and say, you know what, I was wrong.

I'm sorry. Some people have a hard time with that. That's the flesh. It ain't the spirit. If you're wrong, you need to own up to it, and if you get good at hiding your guilt, you become more and more of a pain.

That's what I hear. Resolve, on the other hand, is determination to obey, to follow the last order that you received, what the Lord has made clear enough, and it is a determination that is dedicated to the right course, and it will not be moved, and that's what we're seeing in Paul. Paul did as his Lord did, Acts chapter 3. People are speaking, but those things which God foretold, there's the foretelling versus forthtelling, the things which God foretold by the mouth of all his prophets that the Christ would suffer, he, the Christ, has fulfilled, and so there Peter was saying Christ also had to face death and persecution, and he did not back away from it.

He went on to finish the job, and Paul's doing the same thing. Men do not face such things for fiction, and this is about the resurrection. Christ either rose and was worthy of their death or not. These men claimed to see the risen Lord.

They had every chance to say, I was just kidding, to save their skin, but they could not. David wrote, happy is he whose sin is forgiven, whose sin is covered. It's dangerous for hell when a man knows his sin is covered. Verse 15, and after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. Interesting fact that they had their little bundle, they had suitcases, little sacks of something, some probably had nicer ones than others, as is always the case, but is that a Samsonite?

Of course we'd use, we only use Samsonite, but anyhow, yeah, you can use that. Anyhow, God does impart things, and anyhow they packed up. It's a 50-mile trek. Reading verse 15 again, and after those days we packed up and went to, oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one that kills the prophets and stones those who were sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you didn't want it. You weren't willing. We face that when people say, I don't want to hear the gospel. That's not our cue to quit, lie down and cry. All right, I'm going to pray for you, punk. No, no, you can't say that part, but you can feel it.

And verse 16, also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain nascent of Cyprus, an early disciple with whom we were to lodge. I don't know about you, but I'm quite disgusted by silent letters. Why put the M there? It's not necessary. Anyway, we're closing with this.

This is incredible, I think. They're coming to Jerusalem, it's Pentecost. It's a mandatory feast for men of Israel to be in Jerusalem. It is going to be packed. Where are they going to find lodging? Who thought about that?

Well, they did. That's why nascent is coming with them. nascent was with them up in Caesarea. He's coming because he owns something.

He owns a place in Jerusalem, and that's where they're going to stay. Isn't that not incredible? Because when you're around poor leadership and say, who planned this? Well, nobody. That's why we have the problem. And when you plan things out, some people get irritated. We're putting too much fuss into this. Well, we've planned for you to annoy us like that.

Could you go stand over there one moment and then you pull the lever? Anyway, the lodging, the great concern, it is satisfied in nascent, the man with the M, and the tensions would be running higher. Once they get there and settle, they will bring the money to the Christians, the Jewish Christians, and then it's going to get interesting.

Paul is going to make a mistake, and God is going to run to his aid to keep the mistake contained. 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 / 2024-02-20 01:27:46 / 2024-02-20 01:37:43 / 10

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