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Testimony to Fanatics Pt 1 (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 7, 2024 6:00 am

Testimony to Fanatics Pt 1 (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 7, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


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. 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 22 as he continues his message, Testimony to Fanatics. 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 television or whatever. And that's when we come and we bring a dose of conviction that couldn't be, 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. And 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 go be highly educated?

We 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. It used to be little beads 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 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 would 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, Paul 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.

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's 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 methods.

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 worshiped this Jesus, I was going to deal with them.

I was going to prosecute him. Verse 6, now it happened as I journeyed and came near Jerusalem at about noon, suddenly a great light shone from heaven around me. Well, he remembered how Christ entered his life, and so do you. And if you don't, maybe he didn't enter yet. I don't know how you can forget it. It may not have been an instant thing.

It may have just kind of spread out over a few weeks or something like that where he's just bringing you in slowly, but you remember. You remember when you decided to turn your back on the world, and so did Paul. Paul says, you know, it was about noonday. Andrew and John, they remembered it was about 4 p.m. when they first met Christ.

They tell us it was about the tenth hour because that's how pronounced it was. That regime change was something that they could not excuse or ignore because there's nothing casual about an encounter with Jesus Christ. When you and I move out of human logic, be it our own or somebody influenced us, into divine truth, it is a radical event.

It doesn't have to be accompanied by trumpets or balloons, but it is intense. And Jesus said, surely I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. That's a pretty deep statement.

That's not something you ever want to forget. Christ is saying, you've got to be converted, born again, touched by God. I know there are those that tell you you're too depraved to allow God to touch you.

That's not true. God says, you know, there's one thing you have that I'm not going to take away from any sinner, and that is the will to respond to the invitation. And if you don't, that's on you. Don't go blaming God.

I never had a chance. Verse 7, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? So here's Paul giving his personal testimony. Again, it's not going to do it. But we have evidence of him doing it different ways and having great success. I don't think we could dismiss that.

I'm not ready to. It's not enough to say, well, his intentions were good. Well, that's true. It doesn't mean I'm going to follow those intentions. I want the objective achieved. And, you know, we don't believe in Hail Mary shots.

Well, just throw it up there. Maybe somebody will get saved. Let's hand out bowling balls with scripture verses. Maybe somebody will get saved. I think those things hurt what we're doing more than help. I'd rather, I'd rather that cool, calm reliance on the Holy Spirit.

And if he says, not this one, not this one, not this one, then that's the way it's going to be until he says, get him. We got that from Gideon. God sent almost this whole army home, left them with 300.

And so by the 300, I will deliver Israel. Trust God, not just some ambition. We're not desperate for souls. We are poised to have this desperation.

Well, put a track in their pocket when they're not looking. That's not being led by the Holy Spirit. And you keep that up. You're going to teach yourself to be better at not being led by the Holy Spirit and just doing something that you're desperate for.

I would counsel against it. Here's an interesting thing about verse seven. How did God refer to his people in the Old Testament?

Just like that, my people. How is he referring to the New Testament Christians? Me.

You catch that radical thing? Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? Not Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting my people?

Why are you messing with me? And in that you've done it to the least of these you've done it to me. Christianity is a lot more personal than Old Testament righteousness. And we should be very mindful of that because we are called ministers of the New Covenant.

And Christians who walk around trying to be ministers of the Old Covenant, they're missing the point, the greater points of the faith. I hope I don't sound like I'm speaking down to anybody, but I have my convictions and my views. And when you have convictions of views, you're going to upset apple carts. There's no way around it. The alternative is to appease people. You will be the apple cart.

All flipped over, apples everywhere. Anyway, verse eight. So I answered, who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting. Man, that's intense.

It's intense. God calling you out. You know what I want to hear from God? I want him to say, probably more than anything in this life, is I am with you. And for him to say to Paul, you're not with me, you're hurting me.

Pretty intense. The Lord describes himself by a name that was despised by the Jews. They couldn't stand Nazareth anyway. They didn't like Galilee. Too many Gentiles up that way. Racism really had taken over Judaism. Against the law.

The law did not promote racism. And quite the opposite. Better watch how you treat the stranger. You know, and God would lay it out. Be a light to the Gentiles. Five times in Acts, we read this beloved phrase, I am Jesus of Nazareth. Two other times, he adds to it, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Well, when Nathanael said, can anything good come out of Nazareth? What was he told by Andrew? Come and see. He never stopped seeing, did he? I love Bible stories about conversions.

I love them. I love to hear stories about how people were converted. But again, I don't see that as the more effective way of reaching lost souls. You can't convert them if you can't hurt them. I mean, their sense of self-righteousness, their sense of no need for a savior. You've got to rock that boat.

That's what's in the way. If I do not feel a need for a savior, then why would I come to Christ? Well, verse nine, let's go forward with some of this. And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of him who spoke to me, similar to Daniel's experience in Daniel chapter 10.

The word hear and voice means that they heard, but they did not understand. And so there's no contradiction to Acts chapter nine, seven. Verse 10, so I said, what shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, arise, go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.

The Lord did not say, well, Paul, you got all these credentials, you've got all these degrees, let's just start to get you out there. He's going to strip this man down. Verse 11, and since I could not see for the glory of the light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came to Damascus. He's going to mess with them people at Damascus, them people. He's going to mess with them with truth.

They're going to hate his truth so much they're going to try to kill him. But he gets out. But Paul's blindness speaks to us. He speaks to us in no less than three things. One, he needed a savior from his blindness.

Now that he's blind, if he's going to stop being blind, he needs somebody to do this for him. In Acts nine, when we first read of his conversion, because he's retelling it here in Acts 22, there we read, then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

How humiliating. This is the prosecutor with all the authority that a prosecutor has today, all of the evil that they can wield, which he was doing. And now here he is being held by his hand, going, he knows not where. Another lesson, not only did he need a savior from his blindness, he needed a leader in life. That's why they were leading him by the hand.

That's one of the lessons that comes out of this. He needed to be saved from spiritual blindness and he needed to be led through life after that. It wasn't enough to get his sight back. We'll come to those who in a moment that had sight, how they messed it up. The third thing is his blindness indicated that everything he saw about Christ was useless to Christ without Christ.

Is that not profound? He heard. He heard Stephen's sermon. He could not answer that sermon. That's why it bothered him. It's why he was still breathing threats of violence against the church. He hated Christians because that Jewish Christian dismantled his faith and he knew it, but he was dishonest with himself. And yet, God knows who he must blind before he can bless.

And in some way, he does it. He did it with me when he converted me. I didn't see anything but Jesus.

It was a radical experience. There was nobody around to see this take place with me and Jesus Christ. Verse 12, then a certain Ananias, Paul telling the story of a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, verse 23, came to me. And he stood and he said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight.

And at that same hour, I looked up at him, at Ananias. These early Christians like Ananias, they were born under the law of Moses. They had to function in both worlds as messianic Christians and as Jews. Paul said he was a devout man. What if he said he's a devout Christian? Well, he would have lost his audience. And just because I don't think the Bible promotes this approach as the ideal approach doesn't mean that Paul was not on cue with everything he was saying. He was right.

He just didn't bring the effect. That's apologetics. You're right.

It's a good argument. There are many Christians who are scientists who know science. I would tell you, they're going to be more effective saving souls by preaching about the scripture than they will about their understanding of science as a Christian. However, we all benefit from Christians who are able to present reasons for our defense of faith.

A C.S. Lewis, for example, or Norman Geisler. We certainly can benefit from their points and how they make their points. My disconnect again is when it comes to saving lost souls. I don't need five points.

I don't need to remember to say this and to say that. I need to be led by the Spirit and I need to be armed. If I go in unarmed, I will be slaughtered. But if I have the word of God as my sword, that's a game changer. Satan trembles at that. Anyway, Matthew 10, 16, Behold, I send you out of the sheep in the midst of wolves.

Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. And it's not easy. We are trying to hurt their sense of no need for a savior. We're trying to damage that. We are trying to cut as hard as we can cut into the lies that they have fallen for without maliciously wounding them.

And isn't that not easy? Because we're passionate about what we believe because the stakes are so high it's hell or heaven. Which one's it going to be? 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 / 2024-02-07 08:47:48 / 2024-02-07 08:57:36 / 10

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