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Testimony to Fanatics Pt 1 (Part A)

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

Testimony to Fanatics Pt 1 (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 6, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


Evangelism preaches. The emphasis is on the message.

They're not identical. The Church in Acts, it magnified Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures. As Jesus said, preach me according to the Scriptures. See the multiplication of disciples and converts in the Book of Acts by preaching of the Word. In Acts chapter 22, Pastor Rick begins his message, Testimony to Fanatics. I executed this way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons, both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the counsel of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains, even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished. Well, it was testimony to fanatics, and we have one who was once a fanatic giving a testimony on why he's not a fanatic anymore.

There's a lot more to it than that. There's nothing casual about the gospel of Jesus Christ. And there's nothing bland about an individual's personal testimony. In fact, it's one of the best ways to break the ice in conversation with someone is, well, tell me how you came to the Lord.

I don't know that we see enough of that nowadays, but it is an excellent question. And of course, after they share, they will probably ask you, tell me about your conversion. And in the whole thing is Christ, the Holy Spirit of God at work. There's nothing nonchalant about God's love for sinners. And there's nothing nonchalant about Satan's hatred for sinners. And a lot of sinners don't know that Satan hates their guts just as much as he does to Christians.

But he does. In Paul's time, the rabbinical teachers had drowned out their scriptures. And instead, they had given the people all of these ideas and theories and regulations and rules and really marginalized their own Bibles.

This is what Paul is up against. The people that were fanatical in that their biases dictated their zeal, their passion. Whereas a Christ-like or Christ-like mind is governed by the Word of God. What is important to Jesus becomes valuable to us, very important to us, so much so it governs our lives. And that's the way it was supposed to be with Israel, but they departed from that. Those who are disingenuous, those who are dishonest, biased with a closed mind, to them, truth, the truth of Christ will be hidden.

It will not open to them. One must come to Christ. You know, there's little twists and turns all the time. When I came to Christ, I had a bad attitude against Him. And I was going to find all the hypocrisy and all of the lies and contradictions in Scripture, and I got saved in digging for it.

You just submitted to how the Spirit works, but I will say, if I was dishonest, I was honest, I was serious in my pursuit, but if I was dishonest, if I read these truths about Christ and sought to dismiss them, rather than come to that conclusion and say, there's nothing like this anywhere else on earth, then it would have been closed to me, but it was open to me. So, looking at verse 1, brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now. And for those of you who don't know, Paul, he's at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He has been accused of false things, and the Jews stirred a riot around him, trying to harm him.

Roman troops had to come into the Temple Mount and rescue him. And Paul asked permission to speak to the mob, and that's what they were at this point, and so he's given permission, and he starts off with, brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you. Now, that word defense in the Greek apologia is where we get our compiled system of witnessing called apologetics. I'm not a fan of the apologetic system. I believe we should have a defense, I believe we should have a reason for the hope in us, but there are different ways to share the faith. The apologetics essentially says, here's why I'm a Christian and you should be too.

Well, I agree with that, of course, but then it gets into a debate system, a series of facts. I can lead someone to Christ without ever bringing up a dinosaur. I could just stick with the Bible. I find the best tool for evangelism is scriptural memory. The more scripture you build up, the more the Holy Spirit has ammunition to draw from, and that's what he will be using.

This is my experience. Others may have different experiences, but I'm giving you mine. Another way to share your faith, and I'll come back to touch on the apologetics in a minute, is the testimony approach. I'm going to share how I came to Christ. Well, when I came to Christ, I started doing that, and I thought, man, they're just going to love this, and I was way wrong. There's a place for sharing your testimony, but I don't know that it's going to really be as effective in leading someone to Christ as this third point.

Because you asked yourself, what is the objective? To convert lost souls to save souls, to be used by the Holy Spirit of God, to exalt Jesus Christ, to magnify his word, and this is the pattern we come across, the successful pattern in the book of Acts. Paul is actually using the apologetic and testimony method, and it fails in this 22nd chapter. But when we see Paul using a different style of reaching the lost, we see him highly effective, causing riots even. And that third way is delivering the message.

Just deliver the message. You are a sinner, thus says the Lord, and we lay out the gospel plan. That's what we see happening in the book of Acts. And of course, many well-meaning Christians and very intelligent Christians have opted for mainly the apologetic approach. So, and they're not the same thing, apologetics tries to persuade the soul by debate, by logic and reason.

I'm all for that, but not as my first choice. Evangelism preaches. The emphasis is on the message.

They're not identical. The church in Acts, it magnified Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures. As Jesus said, preach me according to the Scriptures. When you magnify the Lord and his word, then we see the multiplication of disciples and converts in the book of Acts by preaching of the word.

Well, where do we see it outside of the Bible? John Wesley, Dwight Moody, Charles Finney, Billy Graham. Why were those men so incredibly successful in their ministries to save lost souls? Well, we know the Holy Spirit, but what did they all have in common? They preached the message.

They delivered the message. There was not five points to it. It was, this is the Bible. This is what it says about you and about God. This is what it says about damning souls and about saving souls.

And I'm going to come back to more of this in a minute. And I know this bothers a lot because you've been told that if you learn these five points and if you can tell why evolution is no good. Listen, I shared with you before, I had a friend I worked with for a couple of years and he was a devout evolutionist. And at the end of those years, he was no longer an evolutionist, but he still wasn't saved. Because I centered my ministry on defending the faith against false ideas. When Paul goes to Ephesus and everybody's worshiping Diana, he doesn't even deal with Diana. He delivered the message and out of that came the church at Ephesus. And this is a pattern that I think is the biblical pattern.

Let me add this also. Apologetics makes the Christian feel good because it is accurate. Yeah, that's what I believe. I believe all these things. But does it save souls?

Do I have enough confidence in the simplicity of the gospel? What was Jonah's message? Forty days brothers, forty days. And he didn't mean brothers. Forty days and you burn. And they all got saved.

I'll come back to that also. Acts 24 verse 25. And I should add, again, there are a lot of Christians that are into the apologetics. They like it in their churches, it gives them something to do, something to say.

Is it effective? Acts 24, 25. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, go away for now.

When I have a convenient time, I will call for you. And so there's Paul reasoning from the scriptures. He's delivering the message on righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come. It doesn't guarantee that the person listening is going to surrender to that message.

And Felix is a case in point. And so we can lead people to Christ without taking a defensive position. We can go totally on offense. We start out by, you're not fooling anyone. You're not fooling man, yourself, nor God. You are a sinner. And you know you're accountable.

And you've put a lot of effort into overruling that accountability, covering it up, trying to escape from it. But yet there it is. And if it weren't there, we wouldn't be having this conversation about spiritual things. But the fact, the fact that you're letting me talk to you about your spiritual state is an indication you ain't fooling anybody. Therefore, thus says the Lord.

I have found that method highly effective. I also will say, I put a lot of study time into the scripture to make sure that when I shared simple verses about like, go into all the world and preach the gospel. I don't know what that means. I have to understand why Christ said that. I have to also understand why the Satan hates that and tell the individual these things. Use the scripture for your sermon.

That's your text. There are many of them. People will say, we've not even heard of the Holy Spirit.

We're going to hear of him now. It gives you an opportunity to clear away so much clutter that has been piled onto the image of Christ over the years that is a false image. I mean, you know, you have non-Christians accuse you of, well, why do Christians do this? You can respond very easily. I don't do that.

What are you talking about? Well, they do it. Well, that's not what Christ says. Christ calls us to follow him, not the church, not the pastor, not a system of teaching, but Christ himself. And so Paul gives a defense.

He's giving a defense for who he is, and it's going to fail. Again, in contrast to when he went into the synagogues and he opened the script. What did Jesus do when he walked into the synagogue? He opened the scriptures.

He said, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me. And he closed the book, and they were waiting for his comment, and he gave it to them. And they wanted to kill him for it. They would have killed him for it, but they could not. In verse 2, and I'll come back to all of this.

It's all tied in. Verse 2, and when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent, and then he said. Now, before I get to what he said, he's speaking to them in their mother tongue. Well, that catches their attention. That ain't going to be enough.

He's identifying with them. That ain't enough. It won't work. Luke's not present for this, and we are called to look at the scriptures so that we can be better servants of Christ. To learn the lessons, and I'll come to that one too.

I know I'm stacking up all these I'll come to. You won't remember whether I come to it or not. Verse 3, he says, I am indeed a Jew, born of Tarsus of Cilicia, and brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father's law, and was zealous towards God, as you all are today. Well, he's saying, I'm not a proselyte. I didn't convert to Judaism. I was born in it, attempting to appeal to their biases, to their prejudices, and that's not entirely wrong. I'm not saying that.

This is what he's trying to do, and it holds their attention for a minute, so he flashes these credentials to them. Gamaliel was a big name. It would be like us saying, hey, I studied under Billy Graham, you know, or some other great Christian, but that doesn't mean, it doesn't automatically mean that you have arrived, because God has no grandchildren. You either are born again personally, have this relationship with Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, or not. Well, born in Tarsus of Cilicia. Paul's father wanted the best for his son, and he got it for him according to Judaism. He was brought up in this city, that is Jerusalem.

He's one of them, at the feet of Gamaliel. Again, if Gamaliel was able to teach me, then why would you not listen to what I have to say? He said, taught according to the strictness of our father's law, the tyranny of the rabbis. You see, it had stopped being the law of Moses. It had stopped being the Bible. Well, we see that in Christianity, do we not? We see people that are very protective of their denomination or church, even though that denomination or church said goodbye to the Bible long ago. Well, that's where they were at this time. Well, they still used the Bible, but there was the rabbis who had the authority.

Those were the guys to listen to. He says, and was zealous toward God, as you all are today. Well, so were the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth on Mount Carmel, when they had the face-off with Elijah.

They were very zealous, chanting and cutting themselves for hours going through these rituals, calling on Baal, who never answered. Emotional excitement is no indication of truth. A fundamental of Christianity.

Facts matter to God. Emotions had blinded them because of the Judaism, and they thought they could see, but they could not. And it was so simple.

It was so simple. It was, what does the scripture say? Not the rabbis, what does the scripture, not your pastors, not some Christian pundit, what does the scripture say?

And you can drift away from that very quickly, and the thing about a drift is you don't know you're drifting until you look up and say, wow, look how far we've gone. If you look up at all, none are as blind as those who refuse to see. And these are the people he's dealing with, and these are people that we sometimes deal with.

They don't want to hear it. They believe in their religion, or whatever thoughts they have made up their mind, whatever they learned in the university, or read the book, or watched on the television, whatever. And that's when we come and we bring a dose of conviction that can't be found anywhere else on earth, except in the Christian that brings the word of God to convict, to exhort, to rebuke.

That is what Christianity is like when it is in action. I have a quote here from Tozier about reaching people intellectually, and that's it. He says, and C.S.

Lewis, C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, Ravi Zacharias, these were apologists, and I'm not bashing them, I'm just telling you that's their school of thought, that's their approach. Tozier writes about Lewis, he says, one may read his arguments, admit their soundness, and remain completely unmoved by the whole thing. In short, his books persuade the intellect, but never get the conscience in trouble.

Well, what does that? There's only one thing that gets the conscience in trouble. It is the word of God, because there's the authority, otherwise it's just your opinion, it's your logic, it's your ability to debate. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that is available to every single believer, especially when it comes to sharing the simplicity of the gospel. You may not be anointed to preach to an assembly, but you are anointed to preach to an unbeliever if you stick to the word.

And Paul already wrote about these boys, but he underestimated the depth of their fanaticism, their inability to reason anything outside of their preferences. He wrote to the Romans already, I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. You will meet Christians like that. You will meet Christians that are zealous for Jesus Christ, but their doctrine is wrong. You will meet Christians that are always learning and never coming into the knowledge, never connecting it, never firing the cannon.

They can march, but they cannot fight. And there's a reason for that. It's not that they're born with some defect. If you stick with the scripture, if you memorize the beatitudes, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the pure in heart.

They shall see God. Memorize those, and you watch how God uses them. It levels the playing field. God said man should not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, is that not a huge endorsement to the word of God? Does that not say you do not have to be highly educated?

Well, you have to be educated, but not formally, not necessarily. The word of God is what man lives by. That's what you need. You know, in the Psalms, the psalmist said, God speaking through him, I will honor my word above my name, because what name do you have without his word? The word of God is the mind of God. It is the voice of God. It is the will of God. It is the opinion of God. It is the truth of God. It is what God is thinking, and it behooves us. And that word is such an interesting behooves. They used to be little bees with hooves.

They don't have hooves. Anyway, verse 4, I persecuted this way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons, both men and women. Well, who else has that much zeal in the New Testament but Paul? Incidentally, Stephen debated them, and he used a lot of scripture, and they still killed him. He won both on debate and preaching, and still, they killed him. Did anything good come out of that? The apostle Paul.

That's what came out of that. Don't devalue the power of the scripture. It'd be very easy for a pastor to become discouraged if he doesn't seek converts every week. If he finds Christians he's been preaching to for years, all of a sudden, pull stunts that he's been preaching against for years, and they do it anyway. Very easy for him to get discouraged, or he could stick to the word.

You know, when we hear Admiral Farragut say, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Yeah, man, how about that with the scripture? Well, Paul said, concerning zeal, Philippians 3.

He didn't write that yet, but he will write it later. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church. That's what I did as a devout religious person. I persecuted other religions, not with truth, with law. He wrote to Timothy even later, I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, an insolent man. He would never have realized how insolent he was before God without God getting hold of him, and God had to blind him to do it. All that Paul once was, they still were. This audience that he's talking to here. Ephesians, he wrote, to know the love of Christ, which passes, which passes knowledge. Even though when I'm having good days, when I'm having bad times, blessed be his name. And that's that teaching.

When I know who God is, when I know when I'm going, when the only thing you can take from me is comfort and this life, I still get eternal life, and there is no sorrow. So we understand these fundamentals of our faith, and we don't need to depart from them. Okay, if you're a surgeon, you've got to get past the fundamentals of the medical world.

You've got to go beyond taking a temperature and listening to a heart. You've got to know a lot more. Christianity is not like that. Christianity says you can be a basic infantryman and devastate the enemy's forces if you just stick to the scripture. Oh, so you have a pastor that is telling you, look, I don't find them in the book of Acts learning a system of apologetics. I don't find them in the book of Acts learning an inductive Bible study method.

There are many brothers and sisters that choose those routes, but I'm not obligated to. What I do find them doing is opening the word of God, delivering the message, and moving on. Well, for the converts, then they make disciples out of those converts, not enough to make converts. You've got to do something with them after you convert them, not enough to have a baby.

You've got to do something with the child after the child is born. Verse 5, as also the high priest bears me witness and the counsel of the elders from whom I also receive letters to the brethren and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished. About 26 years earlier, that was his zeal, and it was known among the Jerusalem elites, and he's saying that. You guys know who I am. You know what I used to do. I went synagogue by synagogue, and if I found a Jew in those synagogues who worshipped this Jesus, I was going to deal with them.

I was going to prosecute him. 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 / 2024-02-09 11:13:53 / 2024-02-09 11:23:07 / 9

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