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Guilty of Christianity (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 5, 2024 6:00 am

Guilty of Christianity (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 5, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


Pick up things from the world.

Sounds good. What do you know? If you're young, what do you know about what is true and what is false?

How will you know? Well, God has put into your life those who are overseers for your good, your well-being. And Satan, he tries to get people to hate their parents. That's why God put it into the commandments.

You shall honor your mother and father. He knew what Satan would do. 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. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts, chapter 21, as he continues his message, Guilty of Christianity. News came to the commander, verse 31, of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Well, the lookouts from the Antonio fortress there could see what was happening on the temple ground. I think I'm one of those that believes what is known today as the Temple Mount was really the Antonio fortress of Rome. Rome had 6,000 troops there, and you couldn't put them on that little piece of real estate that some archeologists claim, well, this was the fortress and this is the Temple Mount.

600 feet to the south would have been the temple by the Gihon Spring, and the elevations would have accommodated the lookouts looking down, watching over the city, because the Jews were notorious for resisting the presence of the Romans. We'll come to that in a moment. Where it says the commander, that Greek word, kiliark, is a commander of a thousand men, and not to believe that's all that they had, that is a modern-day infantry battalion commander, and that's a thousand men is about an infantry battalion. He's going to take two companies, four companies make up a battalion. He's going to take about 200 men with him, because we know that, because he calls two centurions, and the centurions had 100 men over them. When they were on the battlefield, that number wouldn't be higher for several reasons.

They would have artillery and other things under them too, but just anyway, I just like saying these things. Well, you kind of see what's going on. You have to understand this is volatile. This can get out of hand very quickly, and so this commander, his name is Lysias. We know that from chapter 23, Claudius Lysias, and he does not hesitate. Not only does he not hesitate, he takes command instantly. He knows what to do, and he executes it, and it is successful, and he's a reasonable man. Every time we read about these centurions in the scripture, they're noble characters.

All of them are men that you have to admire to some degree. Now, here's what I mentioned earlier. We're going to come across something that I find just thrilling spiritually. Had it not been for this man who was on Caesar's payroll, under Caesar's authority, Claudius Lysias, Paul would have been killed, and that would have been it for him. No letter to the Ephesians. You would not have that section in chapter 6 of the Ephesian letter.

We talked about putting on the whole armor of Christ, having done all to stand, therefore stand. You would not have by grace you have been saved, not by works, but by faith you've been saved, not of works, lest any man should boast. You wouldn't have the Philippian letter.

Be anxious for nothing but in all things through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Let your requests be made known to God, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his suffering, being conformed to his death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. You wouldn't have it. You wouldn't have. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and deceit, traditions of men, the traditions of the world that he wrote to the Colossians. You wouldn't have the Colossian letter. You would not have Philemon, which is refresh my soul, Philemon. I'm sending you Onesimus, a runaway slave, your property.

Treat him right. You wouldn't have 1 and 2 Timothy. You would not have Titus, and you wouldn't have the Hebrew letter. Eight letters in all would never have been.

They would have been aborted. Had Paul been killed this day, but for the quick action of Claudius Lysias, we have him. See, God has his agents. Whether they're signed on with God or not, he is sovereign over all the earth, and when he flexes, the outcome is always to his glory, and our role is to be on that side of the glory and not on the side of the rebuke. I mean, he took Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, Histories Kings, all of them were under his authority, even though they were mostly opposed to the Yahweh of the Jews. So by this courtyard hero, the sword saved the pen.

The temptation is to want to just continue on this, but that's enough to sit. When you think about, if it wasn't, I'm repeating myself, I know, if it was not for his command presence, if it was not for how his troops responded to his authority, and it's just things for us to think about, we wouldn't have those letters. Verse 32, he immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them, and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Oh man, how sore was Paul days after?

I mean, he just shows up. He's trying to do the right thing, which was the wrong thing, and I love that Luke points this out. He says, Paul wasn't, he's not Christ. As honorable a servant he is, he's not perfect, and his imperfections, some of them are given to us, and this is one of them, and I'm happy about that.

I mentioned that some commentators try to run defense for Paul and try to say, well, you know, Paul wasn't wrong, but I disagree with them, and you should too, side with me. If we gang up on them, they don't have a chance. In verse 32, Lysias, again, this command figure wasted no time. He could have been apathetic. He could have said, oh great, another Jewish uprising. Let them beat each other up for a little bit, then we're mosey on down. No, he kicks into gear, and it says, when they saw the soldiers, well, that's an impressive sight. You have 200 men coming to you with shields and swords and helmets and spears, and they are in order. There's not this motley crew just kind of showing up.

They are under command. How many Christians think that disorder is somehow honoring the Holy Spirit when it is not? You know, we shouldn't be afraid of things being in their proper place. Look at Genesis chapter 1, and you get an idea of God putting everything in its place the way he wanted it and was very happy. God loved his creation.

He saw that it was good, so he should. Anyway, today's bottle-throwing thugs, thug activists, if they stood up against this Roman detachment, they would have been slaughtered, and so would the cameramen along with them. They saw Paul, verse 27, but verse 32 says they saw the soldiers, and yet these religious people could not see the Lord Jesus Christ. Religious people with a defective spiritual view. Just because someone's religious doesn't mean they're right.

In fact, most of the time it means they're wrong. If you add up all of the religious people on the planet, how many of them would come out loving biblical Christianity and be guilty of being a Christian, of pursuing Christ's likeness? They stopped beating Paul, it tells us. How many blows did he endure? How many do you have to endure from whatever it is in life as a Christian? Just life in the curse. You've done nothing wrong, and yet you're being beaten by something.

Maybe it's emotional, maybe it's mental. You can fill in the blanks. But here, not a peep comes from Paul in complaint. I mean, I don't know. I'd look at this, humbled by it. You know, I would be saying, why couldn't the troops show up like five minutes earlier?

Why don't I have to suffer the aches and the pains and the shame? Because they can't get God right. Well, we know the answer to this. We know that Satan has blinded them. Our youth, I was talking to one of the pastors, youth think they know things, because they're beginning to see things in their own, less dependent on mom and dad. They think they know. Unfortunately, some parents think, oh yeah, my kid's the smartest person alive. Just ask yourself, would you ask advice for life from yourself when you were 17 or 16?

I would get a court order of protection against me when I was 17. You know, how do we deal with that? We adults. We try to keep them around us to influence them in righteousness. We try to point out why things are wrong. We try to let them know, look, you don't have to like this.

This is a fact. There's a real devil, and he could care less that your parents are saved. If he can't break them, he's going to try to get to you. And I'm trying to do you a favor and get between you and him, and you're kicking and screaming and whining the whole way. And you go to church, but you don't behave like a Christian when you leave church. And you only sit in the pew and listen because you're afraid the pastor's going to throw something at you if you're not. Well, I wouldn't do that.

I would like to do it once, but anyway. How do you communicate to them that you love them so much that you want them to have truth? Well, be ready for that fight. Don't you back down, you parents.

Don't you cave in. You just stay strong. You keep praying. You keep the faith. God is faithful, even if we're not. And you parents that may not have to suffer this, you count your blessings. You thank the Lord.

Don't you dare judge other parents. You hold to the faith. You understand that this planet has suffered violence in the way of sin. Sin has done violence to humanity, to the will of God. It is serious business. And we have no time for self-righteousness. We're all in this together.

It does not mean that you endorse things that are wrong. It just means you learn more and more how to handle them. One of the things I enjoy about getting older is there is a mellowness. There is, you know, when you see somebody all messed up. In earlier days, it was like, well, let's just shoot them. That would solve the problem right there. But, you know, you get older and it's like, you know, let's give them some time. Let's work through this.

It's not easy to be criticized, to go up to your neighbor and say, you know what, your house is the ugliest house on the block and we've decided to burn it down. I mean, you just learn to just suffer a little bit. So, anyhow, and that is the evidence of Christianity. That is proof that I am a Christian because I am pursuing Christ. And, you know, it makes you think, well, if I've learned things over the few decades that I've been living and ten years from now, how much smarter am I going to be?

Therefore, how much dumber am I? You can't win. The pursuit of righteousness is worth it.

That's what I'm trying to communicate. Verse 34, and some among the multitude cried one thing and some another, so when they could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. Verse 35, when he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. Well, Paul got carried away. I just admire how when Claudius Lysias gives a command, it's done. What would it look like if his troops would go, well, really?

I mean, the steps are steep. They did what he told them to do. Verse 36, for the multitude of the people followed after crying, away with him.

Well, it's not humorous that they cried the identical word. They hurled the identical word toward Christ, away with him. Paul's master in John 19, verse 15, tells us that same thing, away with him. Verse 37, then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, may I speak to you? And he replied, can you speak Greek? Verse 38, are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the 4,000 assassins out into the wilderness? And so here we have another look at the command commander. He's not, you know, no, shut up, you know.

You caused enough problems for one day. He's dialoguing. Of course, that Paul was speaking to him in the Greek, because Paul was multilingual, at least bilingual, probably spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and maybe a little Latin thrown in.

Anyway, again, you admire that he's going to dialogue. Now this Egyptian that is referred to, the Jewish historian Josephus, had a bit to say about him. He said he was a false prophet, this Egyptian, and what I like about these, the Jewish Old Testament writers and other historians, is when they don't like you, they weave it into their account by either omission or commission. Here, Josephus lived at this time, he knew the name of this Egyptian, but he won't tell us. He won't give him, he won't give him the satisfaction kind of a thing.

I admire that. So we don't know the name of the Egyptian. Luke may have known it, and you know, I'm not writing that guy's name down, he was a nut, a new violent one. I mean, these assassins he had, they were killing people daily. They were terrorists in Jerusalem. Josephus tells us that he gathered his followers on the Mount of Olives, which overlooks Jerusalem, and he was going to command that the walls of Jerusalem come tumbling down, and the Romans found out before he got to that point. They marched on him, they killed many of them, captured others, and dispersed them.

The Egyptian escaped with others. So that's the background to this. This is what the commander is up against. He's thinking, hey, I got this assassin here, this can get really ugly, because they were zealots. They were totally against Roman authority. That word assassin in Greek is a derivative from the Latin, it means dagger men. So they would come to Jerusalem, especially during the festivals, and mingle in with the crowds, and if they marked you, if you were a target for being pro-Roman, or too tolerant of Rome, say a tax collector for example, they would kill you.

They would, the dagger, they'd get up close to you, and they would stab you. They were a violent, fanatical, anti-Roman, revolutionary group. So these are the times that Paul was living in. Josephus says they had boldness to enter the temple ground and do killings there. So none of this is a shock. Peter, he says, not directly with this, but speaking of Christian behavior in contrast to this kind of zeal for religion, he says, but let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. That's quite a leap.

Go from murderer to a gossiper. I mean, Peter puts them all together. And he's saying, there needs to be evidence that you are a Christian. And if you're doing these things, where is the evidence? And without that evidence, what does that do to your relationship with Jesus Christ? So it is a serious matter.

You know, to hear what the scriptures say, to come to church, to claim to be a Christian, and then to leave church and put on the uniform of the unbeliever, of the anti-Christ, that is enough evidence to prove that you are not a believer. And that won't go well for you, and you're probably hurting other people in the process too. Because you just pick up things. You pick up things from the world.

It sounds good. What do you know? If you're young, what do you know about what is true and what is false?

How will you know? Well, God has put into your life those who are overseers for your good, for your well-being. And Satan, he tries to get people to hate their parents. That's why God put it into the commandments. You shall honor your mother and father.

He knew what Satan would do. I think it's good every now and then, as Christians, to read aloud to your children the Ten Commandments. I haven't done it to my kid, but I'm convicted now, right here in front of everybody. Give me a moment. I don't have to.

I just walk into the house. I personify the Ten Commandments. They just look at me and say, wow, there's Moses.

Anyway, well, verse 39. My dad used to say that I personified Methuselah. He said, slow as Methuselah. And you figure, if you live to be 900 and, what, 68 years old, how fast could you move? So he'd send me for something. And, you know, as a kid, you just, you know, dumb.

And I'd get back two hours later, and that's when the charge would come. Anyway, verse 39. But Paul said, I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city, and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people. So Paul indicates that he is a citizen of Rome, that Tarsus is not an average city. Tarsus had a serious library. Mark Anthony and Cleopatra had their first meeting there in Tarsus. That was several decades earlier.

But again, known for its scholarship and its culture, and Lysias would have picked up on that. He said, okay, I'm dealing with a person who is not this, you know, crude assassin. And he's going to yield the floor to Paul. So here Paul uses his citizenship to serve Christ. Later he's going to use it to dodge an assassination.

And remember those 40 men that I mentioned earlier in chapter 23. When they're looking to assassinate Paul, Paul is going to exercise his civil rights to the glory of God. It's okay. It's okay to do that. I know some may be confused about, you know, what do you do with your citizenship being a Christian? Well, you have two citizenships. You honor the first one in heaven first, and the other on earth is secondary.

But they're not always in conflict. Verse 40, so when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language saying, now we won't get to what he said till next session. He tried this at Ephesus, but his companions, his friends, it tells us, they restrained him. Paul, we're not letting you go in there to speak to this crowd because they will kill you. This is when he was in Ephesus and had they killed him, we would not have, we might have the Galatian letter, but we wouldn't have Romans and Corinthians. So his friends were instrumental in preserving him there. Nothing short of a miracle that this mob calmed down to hear what he had to say.

Of course, the Lord doing it. Since Paul met the risen Christ, the messianic prophecies, all of them fell into place. All of a sudden, his Bible made sense like it never did before. You who are born again have had that same experience with your New Testament.

It's like, oh, I get it now. When this happens to a person, we tend to assume that it will be the same for everyone else who we tell about Christ. When I became a Christian, I was so giddy with Christ that I couldn't wait to tell my friends.

I lost all of them. I remember calling one, I could hear him in the background. He's not here. And she said, I can tell him I'm not here.

And I, you know, so this was Paul. He's thinking after all these years, as seasoned an apostle as he is, you would think he would know better, but his heart was for Israel. He just wanted to preach to them.

He said, listen, guys, hear me out. And they're going to listen to him until he gets to one word. One word lights the powder keg, which reveals their prejudices, their racism. And that word was Gentile. Not like the Jews are the only ones with this problem.

Not at all. But this is what he was up against. And so here, his friends, they knew this wasn't going to be good. Agabus said this was what happened. When they chained Paul, the Roman soldiers, before they carted him up the stairs, they said two chains, one on each side, just as Agabus had said he would be chained. Now it looks like Paul has failed.

That's a heavy thing for a leader, to be perceived as a failure in the eyes of those whom he is leading. And yet, God knew this wasn't a failure. God knew he was going to use this, catapult Christianity deeper into Europe, unlike Paul ever could have done preaching in synagogues only. He'll get back to preaching in synagogues, but first he's going to have some jail time.

And there he is going to make the most of it. Those letters that I read, four of them came after this experience in jail. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

Those are all jailhouse letters. And Paul grew from this experience. We look at his life and Jesus said this, wisdom is justified by her children. Luke chapter 7, verse 35. In other words, when you see the outcome of the moves that were made in righteousness, because the world will make unrighteous moves and say the end justifies the means. The Christian won't do that. The Christian will stay confined to righteousness before they can say the outcome is justified by righteousness. So this is Paul's first step towards Rome, causes us to say to ourselves perhaps, what about my first steps in Christ? What first steps have I taken? I remember when I took the first step to serve in a church. I mean, just, I hope I never forget. I remember when I took the first step to do this, to do that in Christ.

This is his first step to Rome and it is going to be quite a ride. 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 podcast, 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 11:04:14 / 2024-02-09 11:13:52 / 10

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