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Paul vs. James (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 1, 2024 6:00 am

Paul vs. James (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 1, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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His fellow Jews, who had doubts about Paul, and it was all a failure. None of it worked. It was all for nothing. Compromise, appeasement, for nothing. Appeasement, I have learned, does this. It makes the strong weaker, and it makes the weak wrong. It makes the strong weaker, and it makes the weak wrong. That's what appeasement does. There are times you can compromise.

Sure, you want vanilla or chocolate, but on high principled matters, we're not supposed to cave in. 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 with part two of his study called Paul versus James in the Book of Galatians chapter six. Everything he taught would be turned against him by his beloved brethren.

You understand that as an opposing party, anything you say can and will be held against you, but here it is, his brethren. Galatians 6, 15, and remember, he already wrote this letter a long time ago. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything but a new creation. Oh man, when they read that, what were you saying about circumcision? They forgot all about the new creation part, and they zeroed in on no circumcision.

You think the men would be happy about that. In Galatians 5, he says, indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. Ooh, now he's writing to Gentiles. They could say, well, he's talking to the Gentiles, but no, he's talking to everybody.

Now he's between a rock and a hard place. But he maintains that ritual has nothing to do with salvation. You can light as many candles as you want and many incense sticks as you want.

You can do anything you want. It won't save you. Nothing but the blood of Christ. So he wrote to the Romans, but now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. And so he's telling them, Moses brought us to Christ, and now Moses said, okay, Lord, you take it from here. And Paul acted on that.

They're not willing to do it. First Corinthians, he writes, again, a letter already in print in circulation, not known as scripture to them yet, but they were in circulation. Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while circumcised?

Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters, and this is what they're throwing in his face. And so when they say, you're teaching, you're really teaching people that circumcision is not important. Therefore, if I'm a parent, I love my kid, you tell me this is not important, I'm either going to agree with you or not.

So the charges were actually accurate. Again, a lot of good Bible teachers would try to come in and say, well, they were fluffing it, they were just exaggerating, and there's some of that true, but at the end of it all, if I believed the circumcision is connected to salvation, I would know what Paul was doing, and I would be objecting to it or converted over to his side. And so they wanted to preserve their customs, their traditions, and sort of blend them into a commandment. Had Christianity not spread her wings through this man, Christianity would have been a caged eagle, and that would have been tragic for everybody. So much for Genesis chapter 12, 1, 3, where God says to Abraham, all the people of the earth are going to be blessed through your seed. Christianity would have been living nowhere near what she was intended to be. Judaism was that serious. I said this, you know, in Galatians, when the men, I'll read that verse in a little bit, when James sent men to spy out the liberty of the church in Antioch, and Peter and Barnabas succumbed to that. Paul straightened them out. At that moment, Christianity was at risk of dying.

Had Paul not stepped up and said, you can't do this. You can't be friends with the Gentiles, then Jews come up, and then you're no longer friends with the Gentiles, but now you're friends with the Jews. We're the church. There's no longer Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, Cynthia nor barbarian.

You can't say, well, rich people come up, we'll be friends with them, and ditch the poor, and then the rich go away, you go back to the poor. This is what he faced, and he had the guts to do it, and it takes so much to stand up to people who you love, who you don't want this conflict, you don't want Paul versus James. You want to be singing praises together to the Lord. The sin has messed up everything, and what cannot be cured must be endured, but it has to be done in a way that brings glory to God. You can't do it, living in la-la land, pretending that obvious things don't exist because you're happier that way.

I mean, you can when you veg out in front of a sporting event, and yeah, you could escape for a little bit, but you got to come back, and if you don't, it adds up. Anyway, verse 22, what then? The assembly must certainly meet, he says here, for they will hear that you have come.

Words will get around fast, it's already around, Paul. So it's Paul versus Jerusalem too, again. He longed to make them understand, he didn't know how, this was not possible. Christ faced the same thing from his brethren. Imagine, let's make it real to us, imagine being born in the Vatican City and being born again.

How are you going to convert anybody? The pope is a liar. You know, you're just praying to Mary, you would live for two seconds after you said that. This is what he was up against. Or imagine going to, you know, Mecca and standing up and saying, Muhammad's a false prophet.

You know, you'd get to say it once, and that be that. This is a fact of life, and Satan works through this stuff, but so does Christ, and not to be discouraged. Paul wasn't discouraged by this, you know what he went on to do? Not long after this, write the hill out to the Hebrews. The seeds to the letter of Hebrew were planted this day, and he reached a point in his ministry, when he's out of Jerusalem, he says, you know what?

He rolls up his sleeves, now I'm going to really let him have it. And that's what the Hebrew, he goes so far as to say, if you keep going to the temple, you're not saved. Courageous man. Anyway, I believe that these Jerusalem Jews, as I mentioned, just stayed in his head. Because, you know, when something is wrong and you want to fix it, it stays with you, and if you have the means, and for me as a pastor, I'm going to preach on that, if it's okay, Lord.

That's how topicals usually find their way to the pulpit here. Anyway, when he wrote the Hebrew letter to Hebrew Christians, he was telling them to stop being Hebrew in their religion. Ethnically, they were Jews, that's no problem, not even an issue. With Paul, even though he was a Jew, the issue was religion, your approach to God. If you understand that, you'll understand the Hebrew letter much, it will come to life, if you understand he's telling them to stop being Hebrews in their religion, it comes to life. Later, Peter, in 2 Peter chapter 3, he comes to Paul's defense, but he's not here in Jerusalem at this time to come to his defense.

Paul's on his own. When Paul writes the Ephesians letter later, probably a year or so later, after he's arrested, and he's in jail, and he's writing to the church in Ephesus that was so dear to him, it was dear to John too, it was a dear John church. When he writes that letter, he's trying to unify the Jews and the Gentiles, there's one God, there's one baptism, and he's saying this one. He hit Jewish elitism in that second chapter, that no man should boast before, by grace you have saved, not through works, he deals with Jewish elitism, and then in chapter 4, he deals with Gentile heathenism, he covers it all. I mean, that fourth chapter beginning in verse 17, just magnificent. Anyway, verse 23 now, he says, therefore, do what, telling this to Paul, therefore, do what we tell you. We are four men who have taken a vow. Can you imagine the look on Paul's face?

He's just probably blank. The Spirit is restraining him in love, genuine love. You know, not a mockery of love, but they had a plan all ready for him. They had to have already discussed this, they didn't just come up with, you know Paul, how about we do this? No, they were ready.

To them, it seemed harmless enough. Do what we tell you, Paul. He could have said, do you know who you're talking to? You know, see this pinky? I got more theology in this pinky, you know, all of you. But he, I mean, his theology wouldn't let him do that. So we have four men that have taken a vow.

I would have said, woohoo. But Paul's a gentleman, he's not, you know, immature like I would have been. This is likely a Nazarite vow, you can read about it if you're not familiar with it in Numbers chapter 6. And this enters big into the picture. Because the cross of Christ completely set aside all the offerings, the grain offerings, the blood offerings, the hair, all of that was done with at the cross of Christ. And the church had to figure that out. Verse 24, as they continue to instruct him, take them and be purified with them and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads. What?

Okay, let me finish reading it then comment. And that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. Well, let's first go back to this Nazarite vow.

These men had taken this. At the end of their vow, there's a need for their ritual cleansing. Around the temple mount there were these mikvahs, these little baths and they would cleanse ritualistically, wash themselves so that they could approach the temple and be holy before God. Paul, having returned from the Gentile lands was ceremonially unclean.

The rabbis would have said, you have to go purify yourself at one of these little baths. And that's what they're telling him here. Be sure, Paul, in case you forgot how it works in your trampling of the law, be sure you know you need to be purified. And again, he's taking this. Well, since he sponsored the men, that's why he has to do this. He's paying their expenses and they're hefty.

I'll come to that in a moment. But because he's sponsoring, he's paying for their sacrifices and when their vows culminate, he too is required to be ritualistically cleansed. And so they say, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads. So they hand him the tab. You pay for it. I mean, this is like, are you kidding me?

Well, you bought all these bags of money, you must be loaded. No, I don't think they thought that at all. We have problems looking at it this way.

I think to some degree, we very much should. They felt this would show that the contempt for the Jewish customs and traditions really wasn't there. But it was. The law was to buy 12 prime animals just to prove that he is still a Jew, a Christian Jew. According to the law, number six, the Nazarite would shave his head and then bring to the priest, with the shaving of the head, he'd bring the hair, one male lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, one ewe lamb of the first year for a sin offering, one ram without blemish for a peace offering, one basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour, mixed with oil, unleavened bread, anointed with oil, along with a meal offering. This is the very thing Paul preached against. You see, now he's stuck. Now the Gentile Christians with him are going to be watching him. Paul, did you mean what you said when you told us about these things?

Again, a quagmire. And if they've shaved their head, then they would bring it to the altar and the vow would be completed. God is going to interfere with that part of all of this. They won't reach the altar with what Paul sponsored because the riot breaks out and Paul gets arrested and that's the last we hear of it all. I don't know what happened to the ewe lamb, maybe you know. Again, perhaps here is why the Lord did not appoint James to be an apostle because of this kind of move.

I don't know, I'd be careful. I don't want to criticize James too much. I'll meet him in heaven and we'll act like this never happened. James did believe that this gesture would overturn his fellow Jews who had doubts about Paul and it was all a failure. None of it worked. It was all for nothing. Compromise, appeasement, for nothing. Appeasement, I have learned, does this, it makes the strong weaker and it makes the weak wrong. It makes the strong weaker and it makes the weak wrong. That's what appeasement does. There are times you can compromise, sure, you want vanilla or chocolate, but on high principled matters, we're not supposed to cave in. And it bothers me that Christians will say about their politicians, we vote them into office and they get to DC, that buzzard's nest, and then they cave in and they're so disgusted by this.

But then when their pastor doesn't cave in, they're so disgusted by that. We played a melody for you and you did not dance. We played a dirge for you and you did not mourn. That's what Jesus said, can't make you happy. Well, on an individual level, I don't have to be guilty of these things. That's why the lessons exist.

It might be a common thing, but it doesn't have to be my thing. And that's what the Bible always isolates us and says, where are you at in this picture? When Judas, you know, traded on Christ, we're very quick to say, not me. But what about here with James and Peter and Paul and all the things that are going on in Jerusalem? The problem will intensify because Paul taught that the ritual blood sacrifices were not only useless because they were filled in Christ, but they're now on a fence.

Because they suggest, at the very least, that Christ didn't do it all. It's not a finished work. Because if it's finished, then why are you going to the temple with blood sacrifices? That's the point when Christ said, it is done.

It's finished. So the problem intensifies, Paul having sponsored it. But now, again, in Paul's defense, his compromise was one of love, not agreement, not surrender, not submission to men. He wrote to the Romans, for I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen, according to the flesh. I don't think he was being dramatic. I think he was saying, I'd rather go to hell if all my Jewish brothers could go to heaven.

They're pretty intense. God would say that you're not good enough to make that kind of a deal. As Moses did a similar thing. 1 Corinthians, he wrote, and to the Jews I became as a Jew that I might win Jews to those who are under the law as under the law that I might win those who are under the law. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some without ever violating morality.

Now you don't go, I want to reach the thieves, so I'm going to start stealing with them. No, that's not what he's saying, and it would be pretty narrow minded to make such a suggestion. He is saying, I try to identify with people to a point.

I try not to offend them unnecessarily. The missionaries, when they went around the world, they had to deal with stuff like this. And when they went to deal with the cannibals, they didn't become cannibals to identify with them.

But they did subject themselves to certain other things that were really non-essentials, just so that they could make headway, and they were very successful with that. And that's what Paul is talking about. He continues here in verse 24, and that all might know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. Well, again, Paul is mistaken. I don't think we can miss that because he did disagree with what he's being asked to do. But he's only doing it to make the peace, to keep the peace, and that goes farther than just these two men or this group of men. Again, it was never, never achieved.

It was useless. He consented to appearance, which is against Paul's principles overall, contrary to his convictions, weakening his integrity by this type of compromise. I think I've made that point, but I want to make it again and again and again because I don't know that everybody grabs it. He makes the greatest mistake of his ministry. However, as I said, it's not that simple. God works through imperfect instruments because he has no other kind.

We're all imperfect. And he's going to work with James and Paul nonetheless. I would like to have heard Paul say, no. In my immature state, maybe 10 years ago, time passed, I would love for Paul to say, no, I'm not doing that.

But I see the deeper problems. And in defense of both James and Paul, they both knew Jerusalem was a powder keg of violence. Just ask Stephen.

Oh, you can't. They killed him. Verse 25, but concerning the Gentiles who believe we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. Now, we covered that in earlier chapters.

What they were saying is, you know, they eat things strangled. It's going to offend the Jewish brethren that are coming into the churches. But still, this is a double standard. We Jewish Christians, we're not doing that stuff. We want you to not do that stuff.

But there are other things we do and you don't have to do, but we have to do them. That's a double standard. And Paul picked up on that. Jerusalem's not getting it.

Isaac's seed as the higher standard was what was in their hearts. Sacred cows. I detest sacred cows because they're guarded lies. You know, oh, don't do that. Don't look at that direction.

Don't do this. Where's that in the scripture? Where's that even make sense? Look at India with the don't eat the cows and people starving there and you can't eat meat because there's a God in there.

Sacred cows are a bad thing. This being just a Jewish thing is unfortunate. Paul wrote again to the Galatians, I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

If righteousness comes by keeping these rituals of circumcision, of honoring the Sabbath, bringing sacrifices to the temple, then who needs Christ? That was his point. So he no longer believed it.

But this hazardous holiness, we don't have much time so let me just cover these points quickly. In fairness to James, this was a pyrrhic, there's a word, a single word, a pyrrhic. A victory won at two greater costs to have been worthwhile for the victor. Yeah, you won but you lost everything doing it. That's what this Jerusalem was. It was a high priced victory.

No matter which direction you turned in, you were going to lose. And it again took the temple's destruction to break from this. Had the Jerusalem Christians lived out Paul's Galatian letter, what would have happened? You would have had a civil war in Jerusalem. The Jews wouldn't have put up with that. Even the unbelieving Jews, they would have gotten involved and that's where the violence would have come in.

And so it was again not that simple. Malicious treatment by the fanatical Jews would have been unleashed on the Jewish Christians. And Paul, no loose cannon, brilliant theologian, he would have known this. He knew what James was up against. He knew what the elders were up against even though there was this tension between the men.

As mentioned when Galatians chapter two, Paul writes, for before certain men came from James, he would not eat with the Gentiles but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself fearing those who were of the circumcision. So Paul is there saying, you know, I got a problem with James and James has got a problem with me. James comes up, sends his little spies up here, you know, that's what was happening.

And yet the two men handled it, maturely. When Paul gets arrested, where's James? James says, toodle-oo.

Glad to see you go. This is a powder keg, Paul, and as long as you are in this city, it's going to be an uneasiness about Christianity and Judaism that's going to end up bad for everybody. And so you can't blame James when you look at it that way. On one hand you can say, well at least he could have helped Paul, you know, sent provisions to him in jail. At least we should have heard something from Paul.

We're praying for you. We are anything from James once Paul is arrested. I hope I've given you a lot to think about today if you've not ever considered these things. It was not this choreographed the dance of the Nutcracker.

If you've ever seen any of these things, you know, everybody's thought everything out, the costumes, the dances. Christianity in this environment was a slugfest and it prevailed. Paul wins.

Christ wins, I should say. And James, you know, again, no less the man. Alright, verse 26 when we're done. Then Paul took the men and the next day having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of the purification at which time the offering should be made for each one of them. And that offering's not going to be offered because God's going to intervene. Paul, this left a bad taste in his mouth. Again, why he wrote the Hebrew letter, I believe the seeds to that letter were planted on this day. James' position was doctrinally wrong. Paul was wrong to sponsor these men.

Yet, what choice did they have? So, where do I look in the scripture to find justification for both of them? I look at Naaman in 2 Kings chapter 18. Naaman gets saved in Israel by the Jews, but he has to go back to Assyria and he has to go into the temple with his master. And he brings this up with the prophet Elijah.

There's no one else that can help him. And he says, when I go back, listen to what he says, yet in this thing may the Lord pardon your servant when my master goes into the temple of Rimon to worship there and he leans on my hand and I bow down in the temple of Rimon. When I bow down in the temple of Rimon, may Yahweh please pardon your servant in this thing. He's saying it's such a mess. Sin has ruined everything so much, I don't believe in this stuff, but if I don't go, they're going to kill me.

So, may I have a pass. And Elijah said, absolutely. That's Paul and that's James. They're confronted with this, this goity and not, and God over it all says, I got this.

Jesus knew this would happen and he was ready, he always is. 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 10:44:46 / 2024-02-09 10:54:58 / 10

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