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Facing Hatred (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 15, 2024 6:00 am

Facing Hatred (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 15, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

And that's that long-range love. He sees him. He knows his boy.

He can just tell by his silhouette. And you can imagine what was going through the heart of the father at that time. And so we want to learn from these kinds of lessons. These little snapshots are big points off.

And that's one of them. May we learn to have a long-range, long-lasting love. After Pentecost, those apostles, they were not insecure men.

They were very focused. And there's great lessons in so much of this, I think, for us. Maybe you struggle with insecurity. And, you know, faith is the antidote for that, believing what you confess. And it takes work.

Faith takes hard work to develop, to mature into faith. This hatred that Paul was facing, again, just to recap for those of you who aren't familiar with what's going on. Paul had found himself in the Jewish temple because of James, the brother of the Lord, the half-brother of the Lord. And he was arrested there and charged with violating the temple and bringing Gentiles in.

These were false charges. But a mob developed around him and they were going to kill him, but the Romans interfered with that and came to Paul's rescue. Well, it turned out that the Romans wanted to get to the bottom because the Romans were the ruling authority in Jerusalem at this time, the occupying force. And they wanted to get to the bottom of it. And so they decided they're going to have a hearing. Well, the hearing is the next day. And the next day to these verses we just read, these men are now coming to the chief priests, the Sanhedrin, made up of Sadducees and Pharisees, and said, we're going to kill Paul tomorrow at this hearing. We want you to help us do this.

So that's what's going on. And the disciples of Christ, which all believers are to be, we are to hate evil and to love good, not hate people, even if they are evil. Romans 12, 9, abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Amos 5, 15, hate evil, love good. And of course, throughout Scripture, these teachings are there for us to avail ourselves to become those disciples of Christ we want to be. But love and hate both have a very long range.

And I think it's helpful to be mindful of this, conscious of this more often. The father of the prodigal son, he had a long range love. And the Bible puts that out there for us to ponder, to meditate on, and to consider for our own development in Christ. Luke chapter 15 verse 20, if you don't know about the prodigal son, he was the son that wanted his inheritance, left home with the inheritance, wasted it on sinful living. And then when he was at the end of himself, he said, you know, I was better off at home than I am in the world.

A servant in my father's house is doing better than what I'm doing. Maybe he'll take me back. And he heads home, and his father sees him from a distance. And we pick it up Luke 15, 20, when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

And that's that long range love. He sees him. He knows his boy.

He can just tell by the silhouette. And you can imagine what was going through the heart of the father at that time. And so we want to learn from these kinds of lessons. These little snapshots are big points often in scripture, and that's one of them. May we learn to have a long range, long lasting love, one that does not pitter out, that does not just run out of gas. Agape love does not do that.

Agape love comes from the touch of Christ. And then on the other side of this, hatred also has long range. Hatred has a long view also, and we are taught this in the book of Genesis. Joseph's brothers, they hated him from a distance.

They hated him up close. Genesis 37, 4, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. Genesis 37, 8, so they hated him even more. Genesis 37, 18, now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. We're talking about facing hatred, because this is what we're given in the scripture as we move verse by verse and chapter by chapter. This man Paul, he's hated for loving Gentiles in Christ.

And they're going to kill him for it if they can. And this hatred for Paul was more intense than the hatred that Joseph's brothers had for him. These men were taking a vow, they called a curse upon themselves. They didn't mean it.

We'll come back to that. Jesus said if the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. We get that out of the gospels. When someone comes to Christ, we advise them, go to the gospels, meet Christ from the scriptures.

And then the Holy Spirit will fill in so many gaps, so many voids, and then the discipleship is on. And many have lived who hate Jesus without a cause. They don't know why they hate him.

And hopefully we'll have a chance to explain it to them in this life. But the cause of hatred for Christ is in them, not in Christ. Christ, of course, loves the sinner.

I hope we don't hear that so often that it loses its punch. Because I want Christ to love me. And I am imperfect.

I know you're surprised by that. But I want him to love me. And I want to remember that he loves others that bother me too. You know, there are people that will bother you in life. And you just, you know, Christ loves them.

And you watch your step, and that's the way it's supposed to be. John, in his first letter, writes, don't be amazed, my brethren, if the world hates you. Not all of us get to be hated like Paul.

We may have our enemies, but some of us do have people that hate us. And it's opportunity in all of it, on some level. Maybe not an opportunity. I mean, Paul had no opportunity to witness to these men. That's not what he did with his opportunity, and that's what we want to talk about.

But what did he do with this? How did he face the hatred? John's Gospel 3, verse 20, For everyone practicing evil, which we are too abhor, hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. So it's one thing to see the evil in others. What about the carnality in ourselves? What about that part of us that just can't get interested in Christ? What about that part of us that just wants to call attention to me first, and not Christ?

That shallowness. Well, we all have something, and we all have to learn how to deal with it if we're going to be these disciples of Christ. And while Paul was hated by fanatics, he was also greatly loved by Jesus lovers. And this comes out so clear when we get to his entrance, when he comes to Rome, when he's on his way to Rome, 40 miles out, and we just pour this love out on this man. And so this contributed. It's helpful to know if you have someone that hates you, yeah, well I've got others that love me too.

If you just have those that hate you, you'd be in a bad spot. Verse 12, we begin now with that introduction. And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. They knew Rome was not going to rule on their side. They wanted Rome to say, he's guilty of insurrection and we're going to kill him.

But they knew Rome wasn't going to do that. So they were these vigilantes, religious vigilantes, they were going to do it. To be a religious vigilante, you've got to be pretty self-righteous, pretty impressed with yourself, and underwhelmed with everybody else. And if the prophet Elijah can be susceptible to that, so can we. The prophet Elijah said, I'm the only one left. Of course God responded to that with a, no you're not, to make a long story short. It is, I think, important to know that the word here in the New King James and some of the other translations that they put themselves under an oath, some translations use the word curse. Well, the Greek word is anathematized. They essentially said, may we go to hell if we don't kill this man.

May God send us to hell. It was rhetoric, fanatical rhetoric. They said, we're not going to eat until we kill him. Well, they never got to kill him. Did they starve to death? Did they die of thirst?

Of course not. The rabbis had a way out for all this stuff. It is in their writings on how to get out of things. This is all just a pretense. This is corrupted zeal. And it has been around since Cain and Abel.

There's nothing new about this. It was a deadly rhetoric of zealots that Paul was facing, because had they got the chance, he would have been killed. And there's other lessons in this. And so these religious vigilantes also had no right to kill him according to their scripture, which they overruled with their traditions and other good ideas that they had come up with. That's why Jesus said, these people draw near me with their mouths, but their hearts are far from me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men. Just tossing God's word out, you want a man to step into the pulpit who uses the Bible, who quotes scripture in context, who gives you context, and that you can bring your Bibles and you can check it yourselves, rather than just standing up here giving you good opinions that he is impressed by. Yeah, there are insights that pastors get that are impressive, and the Holy Spirit gives those to them, but insights to the word of God. And these insights do not corrupt or alter the word of God.

They may just give it a little bit more focus from time to time for those of us who need it. And so, verse 13, we read, now there were more than 40 who had formed this conspiracy, verse 14, Acts chapter 23. They came to the chief priest and elders and said, we have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. So how many times have you heard, kill Paul, kill Paul, that's the hatred. Satan is behind all of this, but he doesn't act alone.

He needs a fallen nature to pull it off, and there's never been a shortage of fallen natures after Adam and Eve had committed the first act of sin. A lot of energy was put into this loathing of a man. That's what hate does.

Hate puts a lot of energy into what it is trying to do. They despise the man, they didn't know this, but they despise the man who we know wrote 1 Corinthians 13. This is a man that wrote about love and was pulling it off as best as people can. Hebrews 13 writes, it's just a short commentary on this kind of stuff that we're faced with to this day, of whom the world was not worthy. The world is not worthy, and yet we are to reach them with the one who is, and that is the Christ. And this is how Paul's going to face it all, to get to the end of the story in the middle or in the beginning here.

Paul's response is going to be, I'm going to preach hell out of business to whoever I can. And everybody that came to Christ because of him, let's just say Onesimus, the runaway slave for example, he was preached out of hell because this man, this man knew how to face hatred. You know, I don't think you get good at facing hatred, speaking for myself or people not liking you or criticizing you. You may not get good at dealing with that part of it, but what you can do, forgetting those things which are behind, reaching forward to those things which are ahead, you press forward towards the mark, the prize, the high calling in Christ Jesus. You sort of sidestep that.

You take the pain, but you keep moving forward. And that success in the Gospel is revenge enough against the evil that we face. So you could say in that indirect way, when God says vengeance is mine, he can execute some of that vengeance by having Christians who major in the majors and not major in the minors. That he has Christians who stay focused on the objective because the objective is perfect, there's none better. And that objective is to glorify Christ. And we glorify him in a multitude of ways. Just preaching Christ, it's not enough, but it is critical.

It has to be there. But there are other things too. Forgiving somebody, helping somebody, there are just a lot of ways to demonstrate that Christ is very active wherever you are. In spite of yourself, don't fall for the devil's lie when you stumble. He'll tell you how unworthy you are, how despicable you are, how pitiful you are. And the response to that, yeah, but Christ loved me enough to die for me still.

And then you can add, no, okay. Because it's such a profound truth. We're sin-abounded, grace did much more. And if you don't learn to fire that back at the devil, he'll push you out of line.

You won't serve. Anyway, they failed to kill Paul. And Satan, of course, uses blind religion to make fools and hypocrites of people. There's a lot of religion in this world, and the majority of it is blind. The majority of it makes hypocrites out of the people who are often fanatical about it.

And, you know, they have tricks to their way of doing things. For me, the only truth that answers creation and humanity and the curse is the gospel of Jesus Christ. They all fail. They never deal with the sin. They never deal with the problem.

They never give good answers. They do not match science. Science matches the word, not the other way around. Because the word of God is around long before men began studying the creation of God, which is what science is supposed to be.

A study of creation is often corrupted. Verse 15, here they are still speaking now to the religious leaders. Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow as though you were going to make fuller inquiries concerning him, but we are ready to kill him before he comes near. This is, again, over 40 men, so you have a couple of rifle platoons.

I mean, it's a good amount. Rome could take care of these guys real quick. We'll come to that. But they don't want that. They don't want this confrontation that may develop into an uprising. But this 15th verse, it reveals the corruption of the religious leaders and the ignorance of fanaticism in the zealots. You have a corrupt leadership and you have an out-of-control band of zealots who are just unmindful of what the God that they think they're being zealous for says about this kind of stuff.

Paul was entitled to a fair trial, not to be assassinated. It didn't matter to them because with the world, with Satan, the end justifies the means. False believers have no problem hiding nefarious intentions as they do in the name of their religion. Is it okay to be deceitful in the name of Christ?

Never. It just never is. Thou shall not bear false witness. We're not supposed to lie to further the truth. That's a breakdown of integrity and that gives Satan the ammunition that he cherishes. Violence and deceitfulness in the name of religion has been widespread again since Cain slew Abel after church. That's how it's presented to us.

These men were numb to righteousness and they slithered forward nonetheless. Again, the end justifies the means in a worldly and ungodly way. But unless the means are righteous, it doesn't belong to Christ. You can't lie to somebody to win their soul.

I mean, you can do it, but it's corruption. Job said it this way. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?

No one. Job 14.4. The no one is Job's words. He's making a statement. He's not asking them to answer it.

He's just emphasizing. His audience would have known this, but when he says no one, it's emphatic. Verse 16, so when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. Now here the nephew hears of the conspiracy. He's probably a teenager, as the story goes, somewhere in his teens, because at one point he actually gives a little advice to the Roman commander. So he's probably not that small, and yet he's not that big because the Roman commander is going to take him by the hand and pull him over to the side to talk to him. He speaks up. He doesn't sweep it under the rug. That's interesting. Some of the commentators are so shocked. They think Paul was anathema to all of his family. They have no evidence of that.

Evidently that's not the case. What comes out of this is, now you're messing with my uncle, and he's going to do something about it. And he does. He tells Paul. And if Paul was accursed to him, he would not have said anything. Verse 17, then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him. Well, there's a little idea about how many troops were in Jerusalem alone, not Israel. There are other legions within Israel. But just in Jerusalem, here's one of the commanders of a hundred men. The commander here in verse 17, you have the centurion and you have the commander. The commander achiliarch in the Greek means commander over a thousand men. So he has at least 10 centurions under him, and that's just counting the infantry. So this is a large occupation force that is in Jerusalem. And I point that out because they're not worried about taking out the 40 assassins. They just don't want the headache of the uprising and what they could lead to.

So it's pretty wise how this commander is going to deal with it. Paul, he does not say, when his nephew says, Uncle Paul, they're going to kill you. Paul does not say, well, the Lord spoke to me and said, I'm going to be before Caesar.

I don't have to worry about this stuff. That would have been foolish faith, and it is widely practiced. That is, I'm going to trust God even though God is doing something opposite of what I'm trusting. What God is doing here is showing him he's in jeopardy. That's the Lord.

And it would have been foolish to just lay back in his cot and say, let him come and try. It's presumptuous faith. So God, he exposes the plot so that action could be taken. And all along, all along this path, Christianity is working. Christianity is an action because, just consider this, at one point, Luke gets hold of the letter, this government document sent from Jerusalem to Caesarea.

How did he get that? He must have had allies. There must have been Christians, people getting saved throughout the empire, wherever these men went. Or else who would say, here's a copy of what Lasius sent up to Felix. So it is, you know, facing the hatred is not accommodating the hatred.

And so, ooh, you know, we're hated. I better stop preaching Christ. But at the same time, he does not say, well, I'm going to jam it down people's throats anyway.

He doesn't do that either. He finds that balance, that grace. Faith does not violate reason.

It improves it every time. It is the wisdom that comes from God, warning every man, teaching every man, in all wisdom that we may present every man perfect in Christ. Paul will quote, he will write to the church at Colosse, and I'll close the message with that verse.

Not yet, but I'll repeat it. Verse 18 now, so he took him and brought him to the commander and said, Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you. Now it's interesting, this is the centurion, and there are always noble men in the scripture. Every time they show up, they're admirable men.

They're men of action. And the centurion doesn't say to the lad, well, you tell me first. His orders were to go to the commander, and that's what he's going to do.

And that alone is admirable. In verse 19, then the commander took him by the hand, that's the killiarch, the one over the thousand men. He takes the lad by the hand and went aside and asked him privately, what is it that you have to tell me? He doesn't even let his company commander know what's going on.

This is very private, and it's a noble and sensitive gesture. He knows the young man is intimidated by all this authority. There's the Romans in their garb.

I mean, you need to look at a drawing of the Roman soldiers and they look intimidating. 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 crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. 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 crossreferenceradio.com 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 / 2024-02-15 08:38:52 / 2024-02-15 08:48:01 / 9

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