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Facing Hatred (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 16, 2024 6:00 am

Facing Hatred (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 16, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Praying for us to speak the Gospel as I'm supposed to speak it. 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. 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, yeah, 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, 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 look at a drawing of the Roman soldiers and they look intimidating. They knew how to shed blood. Jesus talks about that in Luke chapter 13. You know, they knew how to kill. Anyway, knowing the lad was intimidated by the authority, he helps to assure him that he's amongst allies.

It's kind of a very human and touching moment here that worked. And it gets a little bit even more interesting. Verse 20, and he said, now the nephew is speaking to the commander, the Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. Verse 21, but do not yield to them. Pause there. See, that's why I think he's a little older than just, you know, he's not 10 years old or something because that'd be a unique 10-year-old.

Tell the commander, let me tell you what you need to do. And he's not saying it that way, but he is saying don't listen to them. He's, you know, sharp enough to be able to add that. Anyway, continues in verse 21 of Acts 23, for more than 40 men lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him, and now they are ready waiting for the promise from you. He puts it right on him, does he not?

Verse 22, I don't think it's intentional, it's just the way it is. So the commander let the young man depart and commanded him to tell no one that you have revealed these things to me. I got to love that.

The commander knows what to do. He says, I'm not telling anybody. I don't want you to tell anybody. I'm going to trust that you're not going to tell anybody. So there had to be enough of that, that, you know, sometimes you meet people, you just trust them because you, and you're right, you know, they're good people.

You just can figure it out. That seems to be the case here, but there's more to this story. He's comfortable enough to trust him, to keep the secret. He could have arrested him, you know, in protective custody until this matter was done, but he doesn't do that. Verse 23, it continues, let me just read up at verse 22 again, the commander let the, all right, so to verse 23 is he sent to Felix, where he sent to Felix, and he called for two centurions saying, prepare 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night. So he had men of action and no hesitation. He knows what to do. He puts together 470 men to move Paul out of Jerusalem, and he's going to do it under the cover of darkness. He's got cavalry, spearmen, and infantrymen.

You just admire this. It was not like, I don't know what to do, maybe we'll wait till tomorrow, right into action. Now here we have, he's going to take him to the governor in Caesarea, who's a larger governor of the region.

Syria, Cilicia, Syria is even bigger, but that comes later. Sorry for even bringing it up. Marcus Antonius Felix, that cat was unscrupulous, for those of you who remember Felix the cat. I never liked him. He does, his voice was just, anyway, Felix came after Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate was the commander there from Caesarea over that region. Well Pilate's gone and Felix is in his place.

Felix will last a couple of years and Rome will get rid of him because he's such an unscrupulous man that Festus will then, and I'm sure Festus was someone's uncle, but he'll take his place, right. Anyway, this commander knows these fanatics, would act without hesitation. He knows who these guys are and the third hour was when they're departing Jerusalem 9 p.m., that's under darkness.

This is so perfect, you know, he doesn't say 830 when the sun is, you know, he wants darkness. That allows them again to go into the cover of darkness, verse 24, and provide mounts to set Paul on and bring him safely to Felix the governor. So Paul, he's going to go and preach to Caesar himself, Nero Caesar, because God promised him that, and he's going at the expense of Rome. Rome's going to pay for the trip, the meals and everything that is needed.

Yeah, there'll be a shipwreck and a snake bite or so, but he'll prevail, but here he gets to ride. Not likely that Paul had a horse when he goes from city to city, good, you know, the expenses to care for the horse, they walked, but here Rome is giving him, you know, he's traveling first class. You know, you go get a flight, you have first class, you have low class, so they give it other names.

It's coach, all right, maybe you don't fly anywhere, maybe you're insulted by that, I don't know. Anyway, he's traveling in style. This is the third time that we know of this man being chased out of a city at night. He was chased out of Damascus, when they let him down in a basket.

Get in the hamper, Paul, we'll lower you to the ground. And then he's chased out of Thessalonica. Well, he was chased to Thessalonica. I say it all the time, you know, he shows up at Thessalonica, he's still, he and Silas, they still have the wounds on their back from the canings they received, and they show up preaching the gospel. You couldn't stop these guys. And now Jerusalem, and it's about 70 miles from Jerusalem to Caesarea Maritima, which is Caesarea by the Sea, because it was a Caesarea Philippi, which is inland.

So this is going to be a trek. I don't think Paul is nervous at all, not only because of the promise of the Lord, but he sees these troops around him. He knows nobody's going to mess with them. Anyway, I would point out one other thing. There had to have been a very big force occupying Jerusalem, because if there were only a thousand men, he's not going to send half his army out of town, especially when there's this threat of fanaticism. So he's just a commander of a thousand, there could have been another two or three good commanders of other thousands, and that had to have been a very large force there. Well verse 26, well verse 25, he wrote a letter in the following manner. Now as I mentioned earlier, Luke the physician got his hands on a copy of this letter. Maybe Theophilus, who he writes, had connections. We're not told, but what we do know is that Christianity had friends in high places in time. In fact, you know, there are those that were in Herod's court, that grew up with Herod, that had become Christians. Don't underestimate the power of sharing Christ when the Lord opens the door. Underestimate it when you open the door.

Then you're going to have problems. But, you know, to learn to be led, we say, you know, lean not on your own understanding and all your ways acknowledge the Lord. All right, do that when it comes to witnessing.

As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. Okay, be led by the Spirit of God when it comes to witnessing. Don't think just somehow blurting it out is serving Christ. What you're doing is trying to tell yourself, see I'm not afraid. That's not the objective.

The objective is not to make you feel comfortable in what you're doing, though we can. The objective is to be led by the Spirit, because that's where the power is. And that is one of the first lessons from Pentecost. You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes, and you shall be my witnesses. And you will begin in the city that killed me, Jerusalem. And then Samaria, the city where, you know, you've got some racial issues. And then to all Judea, your beloved land, to the outermost parts of the world where those Gentiles are. I think that covers about everything. That's the gospel that we belong to.

Nothing has diminished that in 2,000 years. Well, now verse 26, Claudius Lysias, he says, he's writing the letter in the following manner, Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor, Felix. Greetings. Verse 27, this man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them, coming with the troops. I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. Yeah, but you left out the part where you were going to beat him.

So Lysias says, I'm not stupid. Of course I'm not going to put that in there. Verse 28, and I wanted to know the reason they accused him. I brought him before their counsel, and I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.

Pause there. Not all unbelievers are interested in your faith. Claudius really is not interested in his faith. I mean, he's doing the right thing, but he's not. Tell me about the gospel.

I mean, others will, but that's not the case here, and I think that's, you know, we need to understand. Paul did not try to jam the gospel down the throat of this commander. He continues in verse 20, and when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, that they lie in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.

Farewell. So that's his formal introduction to the governor of Judea, the Roman governor. Verse 31, then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. Now Antipatris is about halfway between Jerusalem and Caesarea. There was a significant outpost. It was a significant outpost there.

Rome had a lot of troops there, and it was a known rest stop for even travelers from Caesarea to Jerusalem. So actually, the force with Paul is even stronger now once they arrive. Verse 32, the next day they left the horsemen to go on with him and return to the barracks.

So the forces diminish now because they're far enough away. And so verse 33, when they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. Verse 34, and when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from, and when he understood that he was from Cilicia, verse 35 now, he said, I will hear you when your accusers also have come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's praetorium.

Well, when he asked him, well, where are you from? That gave Felix a chance to opt out of judging the case. He said, oh, this is a higher court. But he doesn't. He keeps it. Not to say that's a crime or anything, but we do know he's a rat fink kind of guy. He's gonna want money from Paul.

He doesn't get it. And so he's gonna keep Paul in prison because he thinks Paul can bribe his way out. Give you a little idea of, you know, the politicians today are so much better.

Yeah, they don't have lobbyists. Anyway, earlier, when faced with hostile Gentiles in Corinth, when Paul goes to Corinth, he was terrified. He realized it was a bad city. He probably entered the wrong part of town because, you know, all towns have got a good neighborhood and very bad neighborhoods.

And he probably entered the wrong one. Anyway, God gave him a vision to inspire him. And when you are encouraged in the faith, that is, it is inspiring when God gives you a nudge.

Maybe it's a person that gives you a word in season. You know, they just say something to you, and oftentimes they don't even know they're encouraging you. It just comes out and you recognize it's the Lord and you take strength. Peter, when he and John were on the boat and the other disciples and they saw the Lord on the land after the resurrection, when John recognized it was the Lord who asked, did you catch anything? How inspiring because the next thing John heard was Peter splashing into the water, swimming toward the Lord.

He was so inspired by that moment. So yeah, Paul goes to Corinth and the Lord inspires him. And what comes out of that is this large Christian church, albeit loaded with problems, it was also loaded with good. The Corinthian letters are letters that we have today that are largely ignored in their teachings in many Christian circles. Just on the morals, you know, where Paul says, you know, you got a guy there that has his father's wife and you think you're being gracious with this kind of stuff.

And Paul slams the door on that. Well, today you come across Christians living in sin and you say, hey, look, we have to disfellowship. We want to work with you, a tribe, but you can't. We're trying to do our best to uphold the Lord's word too.

You should be helping us. And then sometimes they get pretty nasty with us. So anyway, how do we face that nastiness? Well, we continue doing what we're doing.

But these documents have been preserved by the blood of the saints. They are worth trying to obey. We're not saying we're perfect, we're better than you, but there are certain sins that are blatant and once they come out, they have to be dealt with. We don't have the right, no one does, I think, go around looking for for weakness in other lives of other people. That's not what we're talking about. But when it comes out at us, what are you going to do?

If you don't do something and you got another group that's going to say, you know, you should have done something and they'd be right. Well, anyway, here again, as he's now facing these assassins, the Lord has encouraged him before he got wind of their determination to kill them. And Acts 23, which we're in, in verse 11, Paul, as we covered last week, he's pretty down in the dumps.

The Jerusalem trip has been a disaster. He's probably saying, I thought I was led by the Spirit and all I got is woe and it's just not working out. And we know that because he would not have been encouraged by the Lord had he been, you know, cheery about the whole thing.

And so in verse 11, it says, well, if you have your Bibles open, Acts 23, but the following night, the Lord stood by him and said, be of good cheer, Paul, for as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome. So he knew he was going to get to Rome to preach to others. And he embraced that. He didn't just know it. That's stoked him. It inspired him. So as he's being taken to Caesarea, he is totally where he needs to be in his head. And this is going to stay with him until his feet touch Italy. And it's going to stay with him for the rest of his life, but he doesn't lose it. When the snake bites him and he shakes it off, he still understands he's God's man. So while he's in this protective custody, because he's really not arrested, though he is jailed.

Protective custody, a fancy word for it. Here's one from the Colossian letter, which he's going to write not long after these events here. He says to the church in Colosse, continue earnestly in prayer. Be vigilant in it with thanksgiving, something that we tend to forget, because we think thanksgiving requires a gift before we say thank you, you give us something. But our thanksgiving is based on the worthiness of the Lord to be our Lord and all that he has done.

We don't have to have him give us a present every day to thank him. Anyway, Paul continues, he says meanwhile, he says continue earnestly in prayer, be vigilant in it with thanksgiving. Meanwhile, praying for us that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak. Here's this man that has done so much for the church already. How many churches have we listed, you know, that he's started already?

Thessalonica, Philippi, Corinth, I mean he's just dynamo, and yet he's not arrogant. He says pray for me that I could speak the gospel as I'm supposed to speak it. You see, that's how he faced hatred. They were hating him, he's preaching the gospel to other people. If they won't hear it, others will.

He's not deterred. Again, he writes another letter from this jailing, the Ephesian letter. And he says, and pray for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak. Okay, maybe you say I don't have the opportunities to speak like Paul. You have opportunities to serve. And I've seen Christians over the decades who have been, you know, hated and despised by somebody. Maybe it's a neighbor, maybe it's a spouse, maybe it's a co-worker or something, and still they're serving in the church.

That's their response. I'm going to still serve. And this is what we're seeing Paul do.

So if you find yourself hated, what is one of the antidotes or reactions? Serve the Lord. Serve the gospel. Paul's haters were fanatics, but Paul was devout. He was not a fanatic.

He did not lose his reasoning. He defeated the hatred of some by sharing the love of Christ with others. As Jesus said, if they don't receive it, knock the dust off your feet and move on. What he left out of that is there would be people who didn't receive the gospel through hatred.

Maybe it's your own flesh. Maybe no one hates you, but you're spiritually lazy. You're not moved by the scriptures. That merits a conversation, a dialogue with God. He's waiting for you. And if you say, well, I already talked to him about it. Well, keep on.

What is this? We got one shot? If he was not answering you right away, it's because there are other things inside of you he wants to extract. And that extraction comes from articulation, from speaking to him and putting your thoughts into words. Anyway, he did close with this verse in under 47 minutes. Colossians 1, I quoted it already. It's such a beautiful verse. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfect in Christ.

Christ Jesus. You catch that warning every man, teaching every man that we may present every man. He's talking about every man who will hear him speak, not every single person on earth.

That would just be ridiculous. This is the response. This is facing hatred. And may we take to heart whatever lessons the Holy Spirit points out for us. 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 / 2024-02-16 06:23:42 / 2024-02-16 06:33:03 / 9

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