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Not As Planned (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 13, 2024 6:00 am

Not As Planned (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 13, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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So Jesus is saying to Paul, when you were a Pharisee, you tied the mint through, you did all the outside things, but you had not that love, as evidenced by their hatred for the Gentiles, because that's not Old Testament theology.

Old Testament preached that God was going to use his people as a light to the Gentiles. The Messiah died to remove sin's penalty, to pardon us from judgment. You know, you can't undo sin.

Once you've sinned, you've sinned. While 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 23, as he begins a new message called, Not as Planned. There's a heresy called Kingdom Theology, and it says, well, God's done with the Jewish people, the church is now God's people.

Well, if that were true, then this verse says Israel is lost, because his desire is that all Israel would be saved. So that doctrine shoots itself in the foot. Well, actually the Bible shoots them in their theology, not espousing violence, but certainly violence to a heresy, a teaching that is against what Scripture says. Well, anyhow, coming back to this, it's natural to hate your enemies. It's spiritual to love them. And we spend a lot of time as Christians trying to develop love for those whom we otherwise would despise and hold in contempt.

And that's the big part of it. As much as we are displeased with the evil coming out of many people, the battle is to not hold them in contempt. Well, there are many biographies about Christians who've pulled this off.

One that comes to mind is Corrie Ten Boom, how she just learned to love her enemies. It doesn't mean she supported them. It doesn't mean she did not wrestle with the evil that they did. But it does mean she always kept the Lord. She filtered everything through Jesus Christ in dealing with enemies, and I think that's a good way to say it. Counsel here.

Now, if you're visiting, I do many goofy things like that, I think. Don't take them too seriously. Anyway, counsel, the word counsel here in the Greek translated counsel in our New Testament is actually the word Sanhedrin. And that is the Jewish Supreme Court in Israel.

It is a mixed bag of Pharisees and Sadducees, two different religious groups that have opposing views. And they make up this Jewish court. They had great power.

It was made up of 71 men led by a high priest, Ananias, in this case. And they could decide a person's fate very easily without having you executed. They lost the right to execute people unless they really hated you.

But the Romans prohibited them from exercising capital punishment, which, again, didn't always stop them. They killed Stephen. They got the Lord killed. Anyway, they had a lot of power. And Paul knows that if he could win this Jewish court, oh man, that would change everything.

Well, we know what's going to happen. He says, I have lived in all good conscience before God. Well, he's saying, I have followed the external demands of the law. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not steal.

I've followed these laws, the rituals. But he also knew he had no love for the Gentiles until he met Jesus, introduced to him really by Stephen. Jesus said this about the Pharisees, and Paul was a Pharisee before he was saved. He says, woe to you Pharisees, for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs and pass by justice and the love of God.

These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone. So Jesus is saying to Paul, when you were a Pharisee, you tithe the mint, the rue. You did all the outside things, but you had not that love. It's evidenced by their hatred for the Gentiles because that's not Old Testament theology. Old Testament preached that God was going to use his people as a light to the Gentiles. The Messiah died to remove sin's penalty, to pardon us from judgment. You know, you can't undo sin. Once you've sinned, you've sinned.

But the penalty, the punishment for it, that can be taken away. And of course, when Paul becomes a Christian, Christ made this clear. Made it clear that his good deeds and his religion could not remove sin.

That was his personal great awakening. Sin, again, cannot be undone, but it can be pardoned by the one who has never sinned, and that is the Christ, the Son of God. So Paul was blameless in his own eyes until Stephen brought Jesus to him. Now Stephen did not really, in the message that we have recorded in Acts chapter 7, he really doesn't lay out too much of the gospel as we would expect. What he does do is say, you people know the Bible and you can't come to the right conclusion. All the religion you have, you missed God.

That's what really was getting, that got Paul's goat. Because they were zealots. They were fanatics about their religion.

And in an instant, one of their own pointed out to them the elephant in the room. You've got your Bibles, you know your Bibles, but you can't connect the dots, can you? And of course, Paul hated Stephen for that. Over, you know, witnessed his murder. But Jesus, that's what he does. He makes us guilty before God because we are guilty. He doesn't cause us to be guilty. He said, this is the law. And if you break these laws, you're going to hurt yourself, you're going to hurt others.

No way around it. Well, we break the law because we're sinners. We're born that way. Some repent and are born again. The slate is wiped clean and the blood of Jesus Christ, recurrent cleansing. It doesn't just cleanse me from the sins in the past, it continues to cleanse. You know, you have some people say, well, if you die committing a sin, you didn't get to repent, you're doomed. Well, that's not New Testament theology. That undoes what Paul says, no condemnation. No condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

With sin abounded, grace did much more. If it had depended upon, well, better quick, you better get to base. You better touch base before you die.

Then you really see you're stuck. What about the sins you don't even know you committed that you committed? By that logic, you're doomed. But the blood of Jesus Christ is greater than all of that. Some decline and they scoff. Well, Daniel, he pointed this out in the 12th chapter. He says, and many of those who sleep, a euphemism for those who are dead in the context makes that clear. He says, many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. And when he says many, he doesn't mean some will, some won't be judged.

He's saying, there's a whole big number, all of us will face this. Some know their guilt before a righteous and holy God and resent, resent his estimation of them, classifying them as sinners, unworthy of him. And we all are unworthy of the Lord's mercy, but because of his love, he makes it available. And so this all explains his rage, his outrage against Christianity coming up and telling him how bad he is before a holy God when he thinks he's been that devout Jew. Now, I'm talking about before he became saved. He could not escape his shattered sense of self-righteousness, that if he committed a sin, he could undo it. All he had to do was bring a sheep or something down to the temple. We still have religions that think that if you light enough candles, if you give enough money to the church, that somehow your sins are going to be taken away because of that. And that is a lie according to what the Bible teaches, where he says, until this day, I've been a follower of the law until this day.

He's not boasting. He's just saying, I've sought the Lord. I've served him as diligently as a human can. But now in Christ, he's found another level, another level of their Judaism. He has found the Messiah.

The Messiah found him, you could say, because Paul was lost, Christ was not. And so when he stands again, he says to them, hey, I have given my life to the scripture. And if you were to question him, he says, as a Pharisee, I followed all the outward requirements. And as a Christian, I follow hard after Jesus Christ.

In my failings, he forgives me. Because we know Paul, at the end, you know, he said, I am a sinner. Then at the end of his, towards the end of his life, he says, I'm the chief of sinners.

So it wasn't as though, there's no self-righteousness here. Well, verse 2, and the high priest, Ananias, commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Now let's just say Paul's eyesight is bad, and there are people next to him, and he gets sucker-smacked.

That's an extra sting. You don't see that one coming. Just the insult, the cowardice of the whole thing. They hated him so much, they relished an opportunity to smite him. And they don't, make no mistake, comes out next section, that we're in Acts, their hatred for this man. Forty of them took a vow, we're not going to eat or drink until we kill Paul.

Of course, they conveniently excused themselves when they couldn't get to Paul. Well, the high priest that we come across in the New Testament, well, there's Annas, and then his son-in-law Caiaphas. The Caiaphas was the one that presided over the judgment of Christ to get him crucified.

And this third one, Ananias, shows up again in chapter 24. Now, Jewish historian Josephus tells us something about this man. Says he was arrogant, insolent, ill-tempered, hot-tempered, profane, greedy. We know that these high priests, they were not godly people at this time in their history. There was nothing about Annas, Caiaphas, or Ananias that is righteous. Everything we know about these men, they were frauds. They had no problem using deception or just falsities to kill people if it so served them. And the great proof is Jesus Christ and how many laws they broke in the name of the law.

But they felt they were above the law, they could do these things as Gebors tend to do. In verse 3, then Paul said to him, God will strike you, you whitewashed wall, for you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law? Now I have to watch it because I want to read that with an attitude. Because I'm rooting for Paul, you whitewashed wall. Yeah, because the man is just what he is telling him he is. It's not a cheap shot by Paul. He just doesn't have the right to say this. I'll get to that in a minute, but again, the sting of that strike in the mouth is probably bleeding a little bit.

Because you can bet the guy that smote him enjoyed it and was not going to hold back on it. So his flesh surges forward. Now this is important, but it does not take over. His flesh does not make the scripture subservient to his mood, to his circumstance. He's going to say, I did not know because the scripture said.

And that is attractive to us. Because there are Christians that you can put the scripture in front of a behavior that they're committing and they won't, they'll keep doing wrong. Which makes you question the degree of their confession of faith. So shocking was this event to Paul, not seeing it come, that he called upon the Lord to strike up or smite you. God did smite Ananias. Five years after this event, there about, or maybe a little bit more, give or take a few years.

Because we don't have exact dates, but we have a good ballpark, two or three years sometimes. Sometimes it was a disaster in the Old Testament. Anyway, this Ananias, this high priest, was known by the Sicarii, the Jewish assassins and other revolutionaries of the Jews as a collaborator with Rome. And at the start of the Jewish revolt, well actually it was 66 AD when it started. And they take Jerusalem from the Romans and the Romans regroup and the Romans come and they wipe them out. And they level Jerusalem. And they level the temple.

The temple still has not been rebuilt since that event. Well, those zealots for the Jewish cause against the Roman occupation, they kill Ananias. They find him hiding. He knows they're after them when it comes to that.

And they find him hiding in a conduit and they stabbed him to death and that was the end of him. So, Paul's not the only one that knows this guy is bad news. And earlier I had mentioned that he is a foul man and history documents that as well as the scripture. And so when Paul says you whitewashed wall, well during the Passover time in Israel, the Jews would whitewash the tombstones. Because if you accidentally touched a tombstone on the way to the temple to make your offerings, you were ceremonially unclean. According to the rabbis, you touched a dead body. That's how they established it. And so they would whiten these tombstones so that you could see them and so watch out, don't hit that.

And of course they would remain white but everybody knew this. And so Paul is right on when he says on the outside you're washed clean but on the inside you're rotten. You're a dead man.

That's quite powerful. Jesus, the first one recorded in the New Testament that uses this against the Pharisees. He says, woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautifully outwardly, beautiful outwardly but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so, also outwardly appear righteous to men but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

That's Ananias, this Ananias. Remember there's a righteous Ananias that God sent to Paul to baptize him, not the same person. This is the Jewish high priest and he is everything Jesus said in that verse from Matthew 23 verse 27 and 8.

Clean on the outside, rotten and all of that meaning, all that goes into the meaning of rot metaphorically applied to his character. He is a law-breaking judge. He's entrusted with upholding justice but he is ignoring the protected rights of those who are in the court which is Paul.

In verse 4, and those who stood by said, do you revile God's high priest? Paul, the cards are stacked against you in this court and we're going to let you know that. We can slap you contrary to the law.

You cannot say anything about it because that's contrary to the law. They couldn't wait to hurl that verse at him. Their double standard dictated that it was perfectly okay for them to break God's law. It wasn't their law to break and we should remember that. The laws of the scripture are not our laws to break nor make. Men can do that in their courthouses but you cannot do that with God's word which a lot of people resent. You cannot inflict pain on others so long as you attend church.

It's okay. Which is what they're saying with double standard. I'm the high priest. I do whatever I want. That is a loss of integrity. Speaking of integrity, that is upholding what you know to be true in spite of forces that are trying to pull you away from that. God said that of Job to Satan.

Have you seen my servant Job, righteous in all his ways? After you attacked him, he still maintains his integrity. Psalm 51, David said, Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts. That's integrity inside of you. It's not dead men's bones.

It's a desire to follow the Lord as best you can. And here Paul, a battered man, they beat on him while they were arresting him at the temple. They're going to start beating him again and then Romans is going to again have to come to his rescue.

We won't get that this morning but that's coming. But here's Paul holding to his integrity. Job's wife, and remember she suffered a lot just like Job except for the physical attack. But she lost the children and the wealth and she gave up her integrity too. She lost her children, wealth, and her faith. She says to Job chapter 2, Then his wife said to him, Do you still hold fast to your integrity?

And the answer is yes. I'm not going to curse God because this has befallen me. And then she continues, he says, Curse God and die. That's a loss of integrity.

We see this in Ananias. There's no integrity in his office or those that are with him. The man that struck Paul is just as guilty because he could have said, No, that's against the law. I don't care if you're the high priest. I'm not smiting him. God says don't do that. But he had no integrity either. Integrity is hard to hold.

It's very easy to have your standards and your rules, your bushido, until the pressure's on. We see it so often. We see, you know, a parent, you know, here's a prayer. When you want to pray for the children in the ministry, don't pray for the little kids so much. Pray for the parents who get all uppity when their kid is reported to have done something wrong. And it's like, Oh, the pastors love that.

Oh, I can't wait to tell the parent. We lose sight of these things because we're expecting integrity. And we don't find it many times. Sometimes, many times we do, but sometimes we don't. It's just an interesting commentary on our behavior. And I'm no different from you. I have areas too in my life that, you know, somebody eats the last piece of cherry pie. I get, my integrity gets challenged. How selfish of them.

Anyway, integrity is a big deal. And how do you behave when you have your righteous standards and then it hits you or someone you love? Now what are you going to do?

You're going to start hemming and hawing? Well, the sin's really not that bad. Yes, it is.

Yes, it is. And if you saw it in somebody else, you'd be all over it. Integrity.

It is a big deal. It is righteousness in action under pressure. See, we can be righteous when there's no pressure. Look, I drive in here before anybody's on the road on Sunday mornings.

And it is the smoothest drive. I just got to watch the deer. And that's pretty much it. But let's repeat that Wednesday morning at 7 o'clock when everybody's trying to get to work. You know, I have found waving that pistol around at the other driver, they hit their brakes.

No, I don't do anything like that. Anyway, Job chapter 27. This is Job. Far be it from him. He's telling his accusers that are just mean people, self-righteous people, almost glad he's suffering and, you know, he must have done something.

He was too successful anyway. You know, the poor guy that wants to beat up on the rich guy because the rich guy is just blessed. Anyway, Job 27, verse 5. Far be it from me, Job says, that I should say, you are right. Till I die, I will not put away my integrity from me.

I'm not going to just agree with you when I know you're wrong just to make the peace. We've got to love Job. He even said, you know, at another point, I'm not putting on a happy face about all this. And I will hold to my, you know, my integrity before the Lord. And God boasted of his integrity.

What a, just a wonderful section. If I had my way, I would take all the words of the other guys out of the book of Job and just keep the words of Job. But God, he's funny about that. Anyway, verse 25. So we've established that this council that Paul is dealing with has no integrity, but Paul does. And whenever we come across these Bible stories, we have to be quick to say, who am I in the story? Am I on that council ready to give up what is right because I want to maintain whatever gains I think I have? Or am I Paul that is willing to just call it like it is regardless of what the consequences may be?

It ain't easy for any of us. Verse 5. Then Paul said, I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest, for it is written, you shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.

Well, thank God somebody in the room knows scripture and somebody in the room is not afraid to use the scripture, even if it is against himself. In this case, it is. And there's the integrity again.

Maybe I should have named the message something with integrity. Anyway, I'm not going to change. He apologizes at once. He says, I knew not. Now, you know, we hear war stories about this. War stories are good.

When you have Christians say, let me tell you what I did and how God was merciful to me. And the reason why war stories are good is because they're transferable. You can listen to somebody's war story and apply it to your life and avoid the disaster that the other one had to go through to gain that war story.

And so you talk about, you know, I did this once in life. That's experience. You can learn by perception. You can learn by experience. We learn by both of them.

And trying to teach our children, it's better to learn from perception than experience. The easy case in point, you know, that that fire will burn your finger. You can perceive it. I can see what it's doing to the matchstick. I'm sure it will do something bad to me. That's perception.

Or you can experience it like, you know, well, let me touch it. And there you go. 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 / 2024-02-13 08:45:50 / 2024-02-13 08:55:19 / 9

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