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Testimony to Fanatics Pt 2 (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
February 9, 2024 6:00 am

Testimony to Fanatics Pt 2 (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 9, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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The Truth Network Podcast is playing now. 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 22 as he continues his message, Testimony to Fanatics. We return to the Book of Acts chapter 22, verses 17 through 22, but we should get the entire chapter. So, verses 17 through 22, Now it happened when I returned to Jerusalem, and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance, and saw him saying to me, Make haste, get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning me. So I said, Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him. Then he said to me, Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles. And they listened to him until this word, and they raised their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live. Well, if you don't know what's happening, Paul was asked to make offerings at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by James, the same James who authored the letter of James and general letters of the Bible, New Testament. It was a disaster. This entire Jerusalem trip was a disaster for Paul.

God, of course, would make it work. But he's at the temple. There are false charges laid against him for defiling the temple and bringing Gentiles in. And so the mob surrounded Paul, and we're going to do him harm had it not been for the intervention of the Roman soldiers. Well, as the Roman soldiers were rescuing Paul and leading him up the steps, he asked if he could say a word to the mob, and he was granted that moment. And we are in the middle of his testimony of Paul trying to reach his beloved Jewish brethren. This message is entitled Testimony to Fanatics, Part Two. Now, as he is continuing his story, his witness's testimony, you know, we are witnesses of Christ, not lawyers.

We say, well, this is what happened to me. This is what I know about Christ. And it is our story. And if there is a righteous and genuine attempt to live out the faith, it becomes a testimony. And he is giving this testimony to his fellow Jews, his countrymen, how Jesus became known and real to him, a Jesus who he was in the process of fighting against. And through this testimony, again, God is going to overrule what the unbelievers are doing, what Satan would do. And though Paul's testimony did not succeed making any converts that we know about under these circumstances, I don't think anyone could have said anything differently to a mob such as this. And they were a fanatical mob.

A fanatic is essentially one who has an irrational commitment that is accompanied by an irrational passion. And this is playing out as we go through the verses. It will just, it would glare out at us. There's no way to miss it. And hostile groups, fanatical mobs, you can't reach them in that state. And Paul had this before.

In Ephesus, there were those, you know, chanting, you know, great is Diana, the goddess of the Ephesian temple. And they too were beyond reach. Though Paul wanted to reach them, he was restrained. And so here is Paul, once a member of this very group, this identical group. He was once a member. And therefore, it is only natural to think that I can reach them.

I can reach some of them. It is not given to us as an example of this is how you do it. I think if anything, what we get out of this 22nd chapter is this is not how you do it. And, you know, it would be foolish to say, well, everything Paul did was perfect. Well, he's not Jesus Christ. He was one of the greatest men in the Bible.

No question. But still, he made mistakes and those mistakes are recorded for our edification. He'd be the first to say, yeah, learn from my mistakes as any of us would say. He was, however, very successful when he preached in the synagogues. And he had the scripture open. Now that's not guaranteed because he made enemies there too. And Christ himself preached from the scripture in a synagogue and then they wanted to throw him off a cliff for the things he went on to preach.

Outside of Jerusalem, he made a lot of converts, Gentile and Jewish alike. There are lessons to be gained in all of this. We preach when God opens the door.

That is ideal and not until then. And it is also ideal to use scripture. Now I'm using some of my personal experience and I say that because maybe you've experienced something other. I personally have never felt obligated to preach Christ to people that I worked with in the world, when I worked in the world. But I was always eager to preach Christ.

And there's a great big difference. One is in the strength of the flesh. I just got to preach. I just got to preach. Or maybe you got guilt or maybe you just have this flaming desire.

That's not enough. You've got to find out what works according to scripture, according to God. And so that eagerness was always there. And I also do not recall ever having my personal testimony lead anyone to Christ.

It has in some cases strengthened believers, but I do not recall of anyone. You get like, wow, that's interesting. Well, what are we going to do next? Kind of a reply. But I do recall also leading people to Christ using the word of God, preaching the scripture, a scripture that they otherwise would not read themselves, bringing to them that which they did not have, God's word, and explaining it to them in a way that they would understand it.

That had yield much fruit. So when Paul writes to the Corinthians in the second letter, which he had already written chronologically at the time that he's here in Acts 22, he already wrote the Corinthian letters. He says, for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

Don't miss that. We are at war. Christians are at war with what Satan is doing to humanity, what the curse is doing to mankind, and what the world wants to advocate against God. And so he says we do not walk according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds and casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. The weapons of our warfare are spiritual. The word of God is spiritual.

There's nothing like it. If you are a Christian, you know this. Also, a mere good example in daily life alone cannot bring someone to Christ by itself. Just giving an example. I mean, it may attract them if they know the message already.

It leads to it. But at some point, the gospel must be spoken. You're not just going to watch a Christian behave wonderfully and say, okay, sign me up.

Whatever it is you're doing. That would mean they were attractive to your behavior and not to the message from God to man. You know, if you want to change how people think about God, you've got to preach the word of God.

There's no alternative. Now, there are today, well, let me go back up a little bit. In preaching the gospel, we want to give an invitation, invite them into the family of God that they can verbalize their faith. And so we change the world by changing how the world thinks about God by using his word, as I just mentioned. There are still fanatics among us. And they certainly have all peoples. There are different types of people, different races, void of reason because they've canceled reason out.

We consider the liberals who want to change, you know, pronouns. This is madness. This is fanaticism. It is void of reason, of science. It is certainly against morality. And you say, where does this stuff come from?

Their brains aren't damaged, but their minds are. And the mind is what you do with the brain. It's what you do with your feelings. It's what you do with your will.

You put it all together. You have the heart of the individual. And the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. You see, that's a scripture verse. And that's how we preach to the unbelievers. We give them that and then we say, that's scripture. That's what God says. The heart is deceitful above all things.

That heart is you. It's you when you're not walking in rhythm with God. And of course for us, we Christians, we're not ashamed of saying, the God of the Bible, the God of the New Testament. Now, the coming of Antichrist will deploy a demonic fanaticism that will go beyond Nazi Germany. It will be global, such as the world has never seen.

It is coming. In Revelation 6, when the fifth seal, remember the Lord took the scroll and there were seven seals and he began peeling them back. And each one, he was letting us know, this is what's going to happen. And in Revelation 6, 9, when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. That testimony is, they did not count their lives dear to themselves.

Not enough to cancel out God's word. They preached the blood of Christ and they held to their testimony to the death. Now of course the revelation is symbolic. We're not this huddle of slain Christians under an altar somewhere. It's a truth being expressed that God knows those who are his sacrifice, who love him and died in the testimony of his son, Jesus Christ of course. Revelation 20 verse 4, I saw thrones and they that sat on them and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

That's the millennial kingdom age. They will be with him beyond that of course. So will we who believe. And so there you have God saying in advance, this is what's coming. There is going to be a global onslaught that is going to be completely intolerant of Christians. In fact the church will be gone but there will be tribulation converts and they will be executed for their faith. And God will protect of course his Jewish witnesses and the two witnesses until the two witnesses will be protected until their ministry is complete.

Then they will be executed and then they will get up again. Second Thessalonians, for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Remember Paul wrote that two thousand years ago. Only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Well that is the Holy Spirit whom he is speaking. The Holy Spirit God is restraining evil. Evil is not in control though it is allowed controls. And Paul is saying well God is the one holding full blown evil globally until he is ready. And we are fast approaching it.

We've always been approaching it but now we can smell the sulfur with that close to the volcano. Verse 17 now looking at our text that's just the introduction and catch up what's going on. Now it happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple that I was in a trance. Well a trance, New Testament biblical trance carries the individual beyond their physical senses into the supernatural realm.

And they're awake. God is revealing things to them that they otherwise would not know. Only three apostles are said in the New Testament to have had revelation by trance.

Peter of course when the Lord said slay and eat Peter. And then revelation the revelation of Jesus Christ given to John. The Lord says write out I'm going to tell you the future with signs with symbols because these signs and symbols are timeless. And if I just give you words well words change. I mean now if you on payday when I was in the world I was happy and gay.

Well that word gay no longer means happy. And it has been hijacked. So you know language changes but symbols remain.

And that's why we get it this way. What is so hard about believing a God who can create things from nothing the universe to believe that he can give us a vision. Well I've not had a vision but I have at my conversion it was as though Jesus were right there.

Right there with me. I could not see him but I certainly sensed his presence and have continued to sense his presence. These things are lightweight things for God for him to make himself known to people. But it's even a greater faith to just take his word for it as he told John. Well moving on to verse 18 and continuing with what he saw in the vision as he's telling his Jewish audience there at the temple that he saw Christ saying to me make haste get out of Jerusalem quickly for they will not receive your testimony concerning me.

This was warning number one and it was never rescinded for Paul. When Christ said they're not going to receive your testimony in Jerusalem this was years ago that he's telling about this story. Well this happens right up to his last known visit to Jerusalem which is this 17th chapter is telling us about. Well later in his ministry he's prohibited from going into Asia with the gospel and he's also warned on the way to this trip in Jerusalem that there is persecution waiting for you Paul but God never prohibited him from going to Jerusalem this time as he shut him down going to Asia.

He made it very clear I don't want you going to Asia. He doesn't tell him I don't want you to go to Jerusalem he just tells him you're going to be persecuted there. Paul said I'm good with that I am ready to die in Jerusalem. He had hope for converts nonetheless.

As I mentioned God will use all of this. Those who do not walk with Christ naturally scoff at the fact that God talks to his people. In fact there are some people that claim to be Christians they don't believe God talks to his people. In my Bible Jesus said my sheep know my voice. He did not say they used to know my voice.

We know the voice of the Lord and there are times that God does speak to us in many ways especially if you're in ministry because then there's that greater need I believe for such encouragements. Verse 19 continuing he says so I said Lord they know that in every synagogue I am prison and beat those who believe on you. So he's talking about his moment of conversion. The Greek is actually synagogue by synagogue as he was looking to purge the promised land and beyond of messianic Jews. Jews who believe Christ is the Messiah.

He is retelling the story that he hunted Christians. We have to remember Israel was a nation. Their constitution was the law of God. It was a capital crime among other things to blaspheme God but that was for the nation. Paul took it outside of the nation and he went on as far as Damascus as far as he could get. There were other Jews at that time that were living a blasphemous life.

Remember Ilimas the sorcerer he was Jewish and he was into sorcery. Had he lived in Israel that would have been a capital crime but he lived far out of Israel on a creek. Well Paul in his zeal is going beyond the law into other lands. Verse 20 and when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed I also was standing by consenting to his death and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him. Well Paul as all the evidence points to him being a member of the Sanhedrin that ruling government of the Jews and so he was not to participate in the stoning itself to throw the stones and that's why he guarded the clothes. He totally approved of it, demanded it in his heart. Judaism had just again been hijacked by the rabbis no longer was it what Moses and the prophets wanted it to be.

Here's an illustration. In John 8 a Jewish woman is caught in the act of adultery. They assemble to stone her.

What about the man? How come they weren't going to stone him? That's what the law required. Now I go back to Hosea chapter 4 and there Hosea has prophesied centuries earlier that God would recognize that the Jews had become hypocrites and therefore well I'll just read it. I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry nor your brides when they commit adultery for the men themselves go apart with harlots and offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot therefore people do not understand people who do not understand will be trampled and so there the prophet is saying you're going to forfeit your right to execute the laws of the constitution and that's what was happening in the days of Paul. They didn't see it that way of course their fanaticism blinded them. All they could see was what they wanted and how the law could get what they want for them and that's why in John 8 they wanted to stone the woman but conveniently dismiss the man.

Well what did the prophet say about that kind of thing? Well we see this in Christianity. We see Christians do things that the scripture has clearly spoken against and they either are ignorant to it or have dismissed it.

Now the Deceptor had departed by this time of the Deceptor of capital punishment because of their idolatry and hypocrisy. Now false religions and false Christianity would justify killing their opponents. True Christianity does not do that. True Christianity does not justify killing those who will not receive Christ. No true God incidentally needs people to violently protect his truths or his honor. God is God.

He doesn't need any human to protect him. This is what Gideon's father said to him. If Baal is God let him protect his own self. Well John chapter 18 verse 36 Jesus answered my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world my servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews but now my kingdom is not from here. Yet his servants we will be returning with Christ when at his second coming there won't be much of a fight because he'll dispatch with the evil. Anyway verse 21 then he said to me.

Now he's telling the story. He's speaking to the Lord. Lord I was once a persecutor of your believers of Stephen and this is Christ's response. Depart for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles. Verse 22 and they listened to him until this word and then they raised their voices and said away with such a fellow from the earth for he is not fit to live. He simply quoted what Jesus said to him and that quoting quoting Jesus kicked the hornet's nest. What did Jesus say to him? Depart for I will send you verse 21 far from here to the Gentiles. Their fanaticism had taken over. Forget about their scripture that clearly said Abraham their beloved father had no less than 13 sons that were Gentiles. 12 of them by Keturah after Sarah.

One of them by Hagar. They completely forgot about that. They forgot about Isaiah saying that the Jews were to be a light to the Gentiles. They conveniently boxed that out of their fanaticism. They wanted their religion on their terms and that's what they got.

And so yeah when they they respond this way you have to say I thought they were people of scripture. Now not all the Jews certainly because our Lord was incarnate as a Jew. Paul is a Jew. Peter all the apostles were Jews. So this certainly is not anti-Semitic. This is the history of the story.

Other peoples have done same. Well we talked about those at Ephesus who were rioting against Paul. They weren't. They were Gentiles. Satan doesn't care if you're a Jew a Gentile if he can just get his talons into you to do what he wants you to do. Paul thought that he would awaken a compassion in them.

It backfired. 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 08:59:09 / 2024-02-09 09:07:45 / 9

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