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Guilty of Christianity (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 2, 2024 6:00 am

Guilty of Christianity (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 2, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Christ, His sacrifice was voluntary. It was pure.

It was totally adequate. And His did not cover sin as the animal sacrifices symbolized. His removed the sin. Behold, the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world, said John the Baptizer.

2 Corinthians, Paul wrote, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 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. Now, here's Pastor Rick in Acts chapter 21 as he begins his message, Guilty of Christianity. Acts chapter 21 verses 27 to 32-ish. Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia seeing him in the temple stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help!

This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place. And furthermore, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place. For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple. And all the city was disturbed and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple and immediately the doors were shut. Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in uproar.

He immediately took soldiers and the centurions and ran down to them. When they saw the commander of soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Guilty of Christianity, that's the title for this consideration. If you were charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? That's an old question that Christians used to ask. Would you be guilty of loving the word of Christ? Would you be guilty of standing against the world? Would you be guilty of biblical Christianity? Well, that's a question each of us should have a ready answer for.

Without hesitation that answer should be ready. In this section of what is going on here, as you might remember, Paul has come to Jerusalem. This is his fifth recorded visit to Jerusalem since he has been converted by Christ. And this time, the church in Jerusalem wants him to appease the Jewish believers, the messianic Jews you could say, to demonstrate how Jewish Paul still is. And they want him to pay for it. They made that after Paul donated the money from the other churches, the Gentile churches otherwise. Okay, never mind.

It's too early for humor. Coming back to this, they wanted Paul to pay for it. And these Jewish believers had taken the Nazarite vow and that involved a process that took about a week to conclude, purification rites and then finally the shaving of the hair and the offering at the altar. And this was something that Paul was entangled with. And so was James largely.

So here we are. He's coming to Jerusalem. And for his teachings, you know, he would come to Jerusalem, go out to the world, come to back and forth. During those intervening years, he won a vast multitude of Jews and Gentiles to Christ and established churches all the way to Europe. For this, the unbelieving Jews hated him. The messianic Jews had a big problem with him, many of them. So we look at verse 27.

We'll come back to some of this. Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him. Now this Nazarite vow can be found in number six. It goes back to verse 24 where there were four of these messianic Jews who took this vow. Jerusalem Jews were known, especially them, to continue observing aspects of Moses' law. There were largely four types of Jews that you would face in that time in history in the world, probably still to this day. There were the Jews that were unsaved who were hostile to Christ. For example, Caiaphas, he totally was against Christ.

When we get to chapter 23, we will find 40 of them take a vow to assassinate Paul. They hated him that much because there was that much evidence that Paul was a Christian. His teachings from Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians, and Thessalonians were already in circulation. Another type of Jew you would encounter then, as today, would be an apostate Jew, one who had fallen from the faith.

Illimus, the sorcerer, he was one such person. We read about him earlier in Acts. And then there were those Jews that were saved. They believed that Jesus was the Christ and they had no need for the Mosaic rituals. They did not feel they may have still respected them, but it was not something that they attached to salvation. The fourth type were those who were saved, who believed that Jesus indeed was the Messiah, but they continued with the rituals.

James was in this group. And there appears to be levels of how seriously they took the rights of Moses. In chapter 15, in the first verse, we're told straight out that there were those Jews that claimed Christ as Messiah who believed you couldn't be saved unless you were circumcised, which also meant you had to follow all the other laws of Moses. So, of course, the church put that down. And when Paul later writes the Hebrew letter, he sends stern warnings against Jews who still want to participate in the sacrifices at the temple. In Hebrews 4, he says, for it is not possible, Hebrews 10.4, it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

They didn't like that. These are the things he was preaching and these are the reasons why they came against him. Animal sacrifices represent involuntary sacrifice, involuntary sacrifice of the innocent for sin and inadequate sacrifice. Christ, his sacrifice was voluntary. It was pure.

It was totally adequate. And his did not cover sin as the animal sacrifices symbolized. His removed the sin. Behold, the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world, said John the baptizer. In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote, for he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Well, there's a lot of Jews that have problems with that. Paul's going to meet them today. He's meeting them now. Now, these Jews from Asia, this is Asia Minor, modern day Turkey, there Paul established churches. We know he established the church in Ephesus. He didn't start that church, but he built it up at Troas. Paul was very much involved establishing that church. And Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims at this time.

This is the feast of Pentecost, the festival of Pentecost. Male Jews would be converging on Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire. Upward two million people would be in Jerusalem at this time. And here Paul is coming back to Jerusalem. Those likely from Ephesus, it doesn't say exactly where, but they're from outside of Israel. They recognized Paul, and they knew his teachings, and they hated what he taught.

And it's likely at this point the Jews that were connected with Paul before he was converted in Jerusalem wouldn't recognize him. If I went to the old country, New York, again, I don't think anybody there who I knew would recognize me. I'm far more handsome now. And the humility just, you know, I reek of humility. I know I say that a lot because I think it's hysterical. And maybe you've missed out. And if you said, I'm tired of hearing it, that's an added joy for me.

But we won't go there anymore. So the Jews from Asia, they saw him. They knew who he was. They heard his sermons.

They knew his writings. And they put the finger on him, seeing him in the temple. Now Jerusalem Jews, as I mentioned, likely wouldn't recognize him.

But they did, and they made sure the others heard about who was in their temple. There were two churches in those days, the church dominated by the Jewish people and the church that the Gentiles were the majority in, which also included some Jews. But they were very different churches. I guess today, if you went to a non-denominational church such as this one, and then you went to, say, an Episcopalian church, it'd be a radical. It's a radical difference.

Well, this was much more different and distinct, you could say. The distinction between the two was much more radical then than it would be now, because these Jewish believers, they clung tight. They held tight to Moses, and that was a big deal. And Paul was one of the few that not only saw it, but he articulated why it was no good. He told them why from their own scripture.

He wasn't just making up rules, and most weren't prepared. These men, when they saw him and they pointed him out, they stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him. These are unbelieving Jews that are doing this, that pointed him out, as opposed to the messianic ones. The fact that Paul said that Moses was obsolete in his ritual, they just, you know, they weren't going to forgive that.

There was no pass given to that. The fact that Paul said the rituals of Moses did not contribute to righteousness, that brought up so much that they're going to try to kill him. That's how serious they were about these rites and rituals. Now, the New Testament, the New Covenant, it made the rituals of Moses' law, number one, they were fulfilled in Christ, but it made them obsolete the same way the light bulb made kerosene lanterns obsolete.

It took it to another level, and it was by God's design. When he writes the Hebrew letter, he tells them straight out, if you go to that temple and you offer blood sacrifices at that temple, you're not saved, because Christ did that. It was validated by the destruction of the temple not long after the Hebrew letter, and they had no place to offer blood sacrifices, and they still have no place to offer blood sacrifice, as Hosea the prophet, long ago, told them that they would be without priests, without temple, and here we are today. So Paul is enemy number one amongst the Jews, preaching that the Gentiles could be saved without becoming a Jew, preaching grace, which was foreign to law. This was what Jeremiah preached.

I know I read this last session, but it needs to be read again. Jeremiah 31 tells us that this was God's plan. 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, and the day has arrived.

In Christ Jesus, it's here. But again, they were closed to their own scripture and its teachings because of their emotional ism. Well, we find this in Christianity. We find Christians doing things. They don't care what the Bible says about a certain thing.

They love doing it this way. And you say, it's wrong. It's not right. The Bible preaches against that. But, you know, people claiming that they were taken over by the Spirit. Well, the Bible says that the prophet is not made subject to the Spirit. That doesn't happen.

We don't lose control like that. Anyway, coming back to this, verse 28, crying out, men of Israel, help. This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place. And furthermore, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place. Well, the charges that he was teaching against Judaism are accurate. The charge that he brought Gentiles into the temple forbidden zone, forbidden for Gentiles, is a lie.

It's not true. Luke, of course, points out why he feels they might have said this. Now, Luke wasn't here for this. He could not go this far into the temple with Paul. So none of Trophimus, Luke, or any of the men coming with him, this was relayed to them what happened. There were likely other Jewish Christians that were companions of Paul that would have been with him. And they may have ran some interference to keep him from being killed before the centurion gets there.

And when we get to that part of the message, something very fascinating there awaits us. But these charges were the worst of all. These were capital religious crimes. Apostasy and desecration.

I mean, it doesn't get any worse than that. Once in their history, the Jews would have killed their own king if he took one step further into their temple. This was King Uzziah. He was a good king, but he got it puffed up in his head and he felt he should be able to offer incense at the altar in the temple, too.

Well, that's forbidden. Only the priests, the sons of Aaron, were entitled to do that. And so they withstood him to his face. And God intervened, smote him with leprosy, and he was quick to get out of there after that. But the point made is that they have a history of being very zealous over their temple.

And that's understandable. Well, the false accusations of him sneaking a Gentile in stirred up everybody just as much as the other two charges were. Now, there were signs up. As you entered the temple grounds, you'd come to the courtyard of the Gentiles, and before you went to the court of the women, which was then followed by the court of the men, there were signs up. Any Gentile goes beyond this, you're going to die, essentially.

That's what it said. Rome authorized this. Rome told their own citizens, if you violate the Jewish temple like that and they kill you, we're not going to say anything.

You deserve it because you've been warned. And so Paul being there, what he had taught, of course, vilified him. His preaching and his presence had incited riots in five other cities. Lystra, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, and now Jerusalem, because he was guilty of being a Christian. According to the words of Christ, according to the prophets of the Old Testament, according to the filling of the Holy Spirit, he was guilty of being a Christian and anyone who did not like Christians knew it, if they knew Paul, what he stood for.

There is enough evidence against him in their eyes. Verse 29, for they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple. Now, as I mentioned, there's these signs here, which Paul, Paul knew all about these barriers.

Later, he writes the Ephesian letter. He survives this, of course, and in that letter, he brings up this partition, this division. The Jews loved this division, that you could not come closer to God unless you were one of us.

That's what that sign meant and why they would kill you if you stepped further. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, for he himself is our peace, who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation. See, that kind of preaching is what has gotten him in trouble. Well, I mean, from the Jewish perspective, from the natural perspective with God, he's not in any trouble. He's doing what he's supposed to do, what he's called to do. And the religious hatred, as often is the case today, was atomic, volatile.

Well, set off here. Interesting, Trophimus the Ephesian mentioned here, he's loyal to Paul to the end. When Paul takes up his last known letter, 2 Timothy, he says, Trophimus, I have left sick in Miletus. Paul could not heal him. These kind of gifts are not ours to possess.

They are God's to distribute whenever he decides to distribute them. And here is the great apostle Paul, he could not heal his longtime companion, Trophimus. So he had to leave him in Miletus sick. What I like out of that is after all of this, this apparent failure, this uproar, those companions stuck with him. Well, Paul, if you just, you know, appease more, if you just stop preaching that, if you just, none of that. They knew that they were called to serve the Lord by serving the man that God called to serve the Lord. And in their case, it's Paul.

And Peter had his two loyal attendants and so did Apollos. Paul warned, don't let this get out of control and start, you know, giving pastors celebrity status and making it a competition, trading them like baseball cards. Anyway, verse 30, and all the city was disturbed and the people ran together, seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple and immediately the doors were shut.

They went to lockdown right away. Now they probably would have stoned him because they had, you know, little boxes of stones everywhere that it seems like, where did they always come up with these stones? You go to a city, you can't find stones. But then that city, they were there, piles of them. Anyway, history is pretty much silent on them. Maybe they had like concealed carry for stones. You know, I don't know.

But they were always ready with them. Anyway, you know, not to beat up on James again too much. He's guilty of some things here. His letter is no less the word of God than Paul's. But had it not been for James and the Jerusalem pastors, Paul would not have been in this situation. Due to their insistence that he demonstrate his Jewishness, they failed. That part is, okay, knowing the dynamics of Jerusalem, you can understand that. What is difficult to understand is that they abandoned him. There's no evidence that they reached out to him at all.

And thanks to their advice, it cost him a beating. The gospel would be spread nonetheless, even more so, but that was God's doing. They would have heard about the uproar here in Jerusalem and the mob, but they again seemed to just wash the hands of Paul and was glad to be rid of him.

You can understand that on a human level, but on a spiritual level, you can't justify it. When Peter was in jail, the church gathered and they prayed for his release. There's no mention of anybody gathering in Jerusalem praying for Paul. Of course, his Gentile, and some of the Jews were with him too, his companions. They certainly would have been praying for him. I wonder if Paul recalls this later when he writes to Timothy. He says this years later, at my first offense, no one stood with me, but all forsook me.

And then he adds, may it not be charged against them. Well, if it was James and the church of Jerusalem, or if it were other believers somewhere else, because it certainly wasn't at the time he wrote it because he said, Luke is with me, so all did not forsake him. He had no hard feelings. He never attacks James.

We never read about him. He points out some things in earlier letters about James, but going forward, we don't hear him holding a grudge or retaliating. What he did do is to continue preaching and teaching and exhorting Christianity according to Jesus Christ. Verse 31, now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. And maybe the delay in time was they had to get the rocks.

I mean, because you have to account for this. Why didn't they just beat him to death? Well, they were hitting, they were striking him, and maybe they had planned to beat him to death. But that attempt at appeasement turned deadly against him.

It failed. A lesson for us, a lot of people are very offended when you don't appease them, when you don't meet them halfway, when it's not their place to be met halfway. I hope we learn from these kind of lessons in the scripture, because Christians will pull stunts in church that they would never pull anywhere else, because they know the world wouldn't put up with it. But they think the church is supposed to just appease them, and it's heartbreaking to go through it over and over and over. And it's so widespread, you're not going to stop it on a large scale. But maybe on an individual scale, and I know we can, because I've seen Christians say, you know what, I don't like that, but I know where I belong, and I got your back nonetheless.

And that's quite noble, I think. 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 archaeologists 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 we're 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. The centurions had 100 men over them. When they were on the battlefield, that number would be higher.

For several reasons, they would have artillery and other things under them too. 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 10:54:58 / 2024-02-09 11:04:14 / 9

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