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Upper Level Christianity (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 29, 2024 6:00 am

Upper Level Christianity (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 29, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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The word love does not show up in the book of Acts.

Not one time. But the fact of it. The fact. And that's what God is after. The fact, it's presence, love and action is demonstrated throughout the book.

You cannot escape the love. And here it is here. They're going to walk out to him. They've already pleaded with him not to face Jerusalem. They're going to go to hell.

They're going to go with him as far as they can go. And then they're all going to kneel down at the beach. Little toddlers going to learn that this is what we do as believers.

Specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Now here's Pastor Rick with part two of his study called Upper Level Christianity as he teaches in Acts chapter 21. Now Luke is documenting for us the weary and arduous labor of traveling. And in all these centuries it's still tough.

It's still difficult. Paul would have liked a direct flight. He couldn't find one at this point.

He will get one but not yet. Wasn't available. But what makes a difference when you travel? Not only the desire to get to your destination but your companions. And the men that were with him, remember they're carrying a lot of money with them. They were hand-picked, these men, for their faithfulness, their dedication, their trustworthiness, their loyalty. All of that wrapped into their diligence.

And these are his companions. And it certainly did lessen the unpleasantness of traveling. It says they had a straight course. The winds were with them at this point.

Won't always be that way. They land first in Rhodes. Now Rhodes, not streets, actually had a big statue.

Not at the days of Paul. By this time it was gone. But at one time in her history, one of the seven wonders of the world was there. A giant ten-story statue of Apollos stood at the harbor's entrance.

An earthquake toppled it. So at about the size of the Statue of Liberty, without the base of the Statue of Liberty, about over a hundred feet, to the angels, just a Lego set. The angels look at man's seven wonders and others, nah, this is a Lego. You should see what we got up here. Anyway, coming back to this, that keeps things in perspective, does it not?

Man is very impressed with himself, and there's some things to be impressed by, but to a point. Verse 2, in finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went abroad and set sail. So he manages to find his direct flight on a ship, a voyage of about 400 miles, take about five days to make. Verse 3, when we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre.

From there the ship was to unload her cargo. Interesting, he goes to Rhodes and Tyre. Phonetically, it's funny.

I didn't write it, I just noticed it. Anyway, we've been considering Tyre quite a bit, being that maritime superpower of commerce in Isaiah's day, not any longer. And they weren't that great in the days of Paul either, but still a shipping port, and this is now, you know, they're back into the area of Israel. They can now walk to Jerusalem from where they are.

They won't directly, but it's coming. And he knew he's heading into the mouth of the lion. He knew this going back to when he was still in Philippi, riding to the Romans. This is what he says to them. He doesn't know what's happening at the time he writes the Roman letter concerning Jerusalem, but he knows it's not good.

And he knows he has to be there. And he writes to them, he says, now I beg you brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me. This is the great apostle Paul saying, I have something on my heart, and I want you to pray with me about this. He continues, he says, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints. These things were weighing on him. And it wasn't that he was looking for a peace about it, he wanted to complete his mission. And as he's traveling towards Jerusalem, and he stops off at Miletus to meet the pastors from Ephesus, you know, he goes through it with them, he gets to mainland Israel now, and he's going to go through it at Caesarea. And everywhere he goes, Paul, they're going to get you, coming from his own people. And they loved him, of course. How can this bore us?

How can we not see the value of these things? You know, you read that section in Romans 15, now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayer. And you think that there's nothing more with that, that he's just asking for prayer. No, he doesn't, he knows he might face beatings. He's had them before. He understands what it's like to take a beating for Christ on one day, for maybe ten minutes, and then have to heal through that process for the next few months, from the wounds, and the shame, and then go through it again, because so many of these beatings were public beatings. And he faced them all. He looked at the job, he said, what is it called for?

And then he went about fulfilling the work that was necessary. Okay, this calls for me to preach right now, even though I'm going to catch a beating, or be jailed. How can this bore us? How can we not see the value of it all? How can we not place ourselves in this picture and say, that's high level Christianity.

I may not be able to get to that level, but I can grab something. I can get to some level higher than what I would have achieved had I not been exposed to these truths through God's word. He says, and landed at Tyre. We are told earlier in Acts chapter 11 verse 19, we won't be able to read them all, it takes too much time, I'm going to give you the reference point, that after Stephen was murdered in his martyrdom, after he had gone to heaven, that the Christians suffered persecution in Jerusalem, and so they fled. They got out of there, except for the apostles. And when they did so, this is one of the regions mentioned that they brought the gospel to, but they were only preaching at that point to the Jews. They were preaching Christ as Messiah to the Jews. That persecution that they fled from was spearheaded by this man, Paul, before his conversion. What are the chances that here he is, I don't know, as we mentioned, 27 years later, he got a little less than, if you factor in his conversion times, about 20, 24 years later or so, here is Paul, breaking bread, worshipping, praying, being loved on by the Christians he chased out there, because God saved him. Because the Christians did not cave to the persecution, they continued with their faith.

Paul was the one that was converted. And may we not give up. So you may have a child, you may have a parent, you may have a co-worker, preferably pronounced cow-awker, because it's spelled that way. Anyway, you may have someone in your life who you think is beyond reach, and they may be.

You don't know. What you are called to do is do your duty, do your job. You pray for them if God puts them and keeps them on your heart, especially if he keeps them on your heart. I think every Christian should go to their grave with somebody on their heart, because there's never a shortage. It's like, huh, that's nobody to pray for.

That worked out wonderfully. Everybody I know is saved. Well, they're not all going to get saved in your lifetime. That's no reason to quit. Some will. You keep at it. Look, discouragement is like gravel on the ground, if you live where gravel is. It's so easy to pick up. It's right there.

You don't have to do that. Verse 4, in finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.

Here we go again, right? They were warnings. They were warned through the Holy Spirit. They knew the Lord is putting it on my heart that this is not going to go as we would like it to go.

But the prohibition was their interpretation. The Spirit was warning them that Paul would suffer persecution. He was not prohibiting Paul. You know, they want Paul to be safe. They don't want him to suffer any more harm. He's no spring chicken as people go.

He's been around a while. They figure, well, you know, he's paid his dues. He did not agree with that. He felt his dues was due monthly.

You could say it that way. The Greek really brings this out, I think, a little bit better than the translators have opted to give it in the New King James and the Old King James also. Either way, the Greek says really that Paul, you should not go to Jerusalem rather than you must not go to Jerusalem as the Spirit's leading them. The Spirit told them trouble's coming.

Paul, back in chapter 20, we should read it. Acts chapter 20, verse 22, we find that Paul knew that God was leading them there. And see, now I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.

Interesting. Agabus will only confirm what Paul says and really won't be bringing anything new to him, though the other, the spectators will be new to them. Paul continues, but none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, now here it comes, the part that connects him to Jerusalem in spite of the suffering, and the ministry which I receive from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. That's my job, to get to Jerusalem to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. God told me when I was converted, Paul could have said, that I'm going to suffer a lot of things for the gospel. And he sent Ananias to tell him that, and that's in Acts chapter 9, verses 15 and 16.

And so he knew what was coming, and he was good with that. He must not heed their advice when he was so sure of what God was telling them. You know, Nehemiah was probably one of the best leaders in the scriptures that we have, a man who just did not suffer fools.

He could work with those who were weak, but he did not suffer fools, very intolerant of things that were way wrong. And at one point, you know, he was so successful, he said, we've got to find a way to kill this guy. Maybe we could just tell him, they're trying to kill you Nehemiah, come to us and let's talk about this.

You know, flee the city, run away. And his response in Nehemiah 611, one that I've tried to live up to, but it's hard. He said, shall a man such as I flee? Well, that's Paul. Paul said, shall a man that has been told by the Lord to go preach this ministry of the gospel, should I flee?

No, I won't do it. And he's certainly a different type of character than Nehemiah. We'll get to his response in a minute. God is putting on display through this entire event, for all the believers, what upper level Christianity looks like. Now, Paul's not the only one. Peter's going to go to his grave on an upside down cross.

He's not the only one. He's not the only martyr, but he's the one, it's the one story that God chose to center on. And here it is, being paraded before the believers. This is how you do it.

The honest response to this is, I don't think I can do that. Well, you can't, but the Spirit of God can in you. They saw Paul's life at risk, but Paul saw souls at risk of being damned without the cross of Christ. And we would think that, well, what awaited him was having suffered so much from unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Gentiles, and make believing Christians, and even some shallow true Christians. After putting up with all of that, he is still going. He is not discouraged.

Zeal, for his Father's will, has not cooled. I keep repeating myself, but to me it's stark, upper level Christianity. I want that to haunt me sometimes. I want that to be too, when I feel like, you know what, I'm just tired, or I'm fed up with this, or this and that, and it comes into my mind, there is an upper level of Christianity available to me, and I can avail myself of it.

I don't know how much of it I can do, but I know some of it is available, and that alone scares Hell. Hell wants no progress in the life of the believer because they're afraid of it. God might use it to save a soul, to encourage a believer. Years ago, in a vision, the Lord told Paul to flee from Jerusalem. Now, and now he's just giving him a heads up what waits there for him. Now, there are those that will come to you and say, God has a word from me to you.

All your caution lights need to light up at that point. Now, yeah, there is a word in season, but it usually doesn't come this way. I'll give you an example. What if some, and I'm speaking this one from experience in ministry in New York, two times that stood out, where there was two different women, different men, different situations, they told the man, God has told me that you're going to marry me. It was nothing, not even close. I mean, it was just not going to happen.

They had no right, they were delusional on this issue. But imagine if it worked that way. God told me, therefore you have to. God told me you're not to go to Jerusalem. No, that's not how it works. He has to tell me. You can support it, you can come by and say, you know, the Lord is pressing upon me that you shouldn't do this.

You can do that. That's far different from saying, thus says the Lord. And so this is what Paul is facing. These folks saying, Paul, don't do it, but he knows what God told him.

And he will not let them overrule that conviction. At that point, so many Christians cave. They cave to the influence of friends. They cave to the influence of those who genuinely love them. Paul was genuinely loved.

They meant well. So did Peter when he insisted Christ avoid the cross. And what did he get? Christ called him Satan.

That's what he got. Get behind me, Satan. You're not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men. Well, this is a little different. You know, Peter needed to be called out there. He had some other issues.

I'll never forsake you. And Jesus said, well, I'm going to take the chance to clean your clock on that one. Here it's a little different. They weren't struggling with the pride that Peter was struggling with at that time. Here, again, Paul's going to take this financial gift to the church in Jerusalem. I'll point out again when we get there, we never read about them saying thank you. There were two groups in Jerusalem that he had, of Christian groups he had to deal with. The regular people, they were grateful. Then the leadership, they weren't so grateful. Now the leaders are supposed to be a little bit more cautious than everybody, more discerning.

But that's not what's going to happen. We'll get to that as we continue through Acts and later sessions if we're still here. Well, in verse 5 we continue, And when we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way. And they all accompanied us with wives and children till we were out of the city and knelt down on the shore and prayed. Alright, they're not in church.

As churchgoers, righteous churchgoers, they're going to walk Paul to the beach where he can take his next ship to close in on Jerusalem. Here is a fun fact you could say. The word love does not show up in the book of Acts.

Not one time. But the fact of it, the fact, and that's what God is after. The fact, its presence, love and action is demonstrated throughout the book.

You cannot escape the love. And here it is here, they're going to walk out to him. They've already pleaded with him not to face Jerusalem.

They're going to go with him as far as they can go. And then they're all going to kneel down at the beach. Little toddlers going to learn that this is what we do as believers. And it's quite a moving little passage of scripture, is it not?

Praying for him as he asked the Roman Christians to pray for him for his trek to Jerusalem. They're doing it. Not that the Romans were negligent and did not.

But we're seeing them actually do it. God always has others. Elijah had to learn that.

I'm the only one, Lord. They've all forsaken you now, by the way. I love how God, he finishes up with Elijah and then he gets back and says, oh, oh, by the way, I've got 7,000 others, count them. 7,000 others who have not bowed the knee to bow.

What do you think about that, smarty pants? But I think I could have been a good spokesman for the Lord at some times. And I was joking with the pastors, you know, we talk about Elijah. You know, we can't call fire down on people. Maybe, maybe God will allow me one day to call maple syrup down on somebody. You know, just hit them.

It was a lot funnier when I was talking with them. Anyway, Lord, I'm going to get this in some way, but it flopped. Going back to the Bible now where it is safe. Verse 6, and you'll be thinking about that next time a bad driver comes your way, calling maple syrup on them.

I'm still trying to force it, I know. 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 contact.

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. He's a great monster. I prefer Herod the butcher, although 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 at 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 that 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 them 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. 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, when Timothy gets there, don't let anybody mess with him. Timothy is like, I got this, Paul.

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 try to 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. 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 00:01:30 / 2024-02-20 00:11:40 / 10

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