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Conveniently Clueless (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 22, 2024 6:00 am

Conveniently Clueless (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 22, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Bitterness engulfed these religious people, and it will engulf us if we're not careful. Later, Paul would write in his Hebrew letter, looking carefully, lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. Don't trivialize any of that. Bitterness is serious stuff. It's poison.

And if you can't forgive, you've got a problem. 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 25, as he begins his message, conveniently clueless. The Book of Acts, chapter 25. We'll get the whole chapter, Lord willing. The Book of Acts, Acts of the Apostles, Acts of the Holy Spirit, chapter 25. The high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they petitioned him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem while they lay an ambush along the road to kill him. Well, we'll fill in the blanks to that one.

Conveniently clueless is the title of this message. And it's, I think, important to point out the Bible doesn't pull any punches, but it's all love. It is all God reaching out to sinners who don't deserve his love, don't deserve his heaven and his eternity. And yet, he does want us to understand him, to seek him, to desire him.

He desires us. And what you believe about God is important to God. Well, I think most of us Christians can understand that, but I don't know if we lose sight of this other part to that, that what we believe about God is also important to Satan. You know, there's always, in this life, there's going to be the opposition. As we just read, they're trying to get the governor of Judea to bring Paul down to Jerusalem so they can kill him, because what Paul believed about God was important to God, but it was also important to the enemies, those trying to kill him.

Oddly, it is not important to many people. Many people just think that they can dismiss God, ignore him, dictate the terms, and it can be done in a wide range of ways, very subtly, sometimes it's just overtly done, but it's there, and that's where we come in. You can lead a horse to water you can't make him drink.

Well, if his salt is oats, maybe he'll be thirsty enough. However, we don't want to be disqualified to where we cannot be effective, and hopefully we're going to learn some of that from the tactics God employed through Paul. The difference between tactics and strategy is time.

Tactics are right there happening at the moment, but strategy is a long-term plan that allows us to implement these tactics of faith. Mark Chapter 8, Jesus and his disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi, and I'll pause there, where this story takes place in Acts 25 as Caesarea Maritima by the Mediterranean Sea, where this quote that I'm bringing from Mark's Gospel is Caesarea Philippi, that's further inland, so you don't get confused. Anyway, Jesus and his disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi, and on the road he asked his disciples, saying to them, who do men say that I am? Well, because it's important to God. It seemed almost a random question, I suppose, to the apostles, but it remains the greatest question to a human being. Along with Pilate, who allowed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, he makes a statement, he doesn't even know what he's saying, really, but it is a valuable statement.

It's a question, actually. Matthew 27, what then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ? Well, the Jews responded, the violent Jews, the ones against Christ, they all said to him, let him be crucified, let him be killed in a horrible way in public.

That was their vote. But the question stands, what then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ? It is a question for every human being. To renounce God, all one need to do is ignore his Son, his invitation, and as I've been trying to point out, his love. Now, this 25th chapter, if you've read it before, you may consider it a lackluster chapter. There may be other parts of the scripture that you have the same feeling towards, but may I help you with that a little bit? It wasn't lackluster to those living it. There's nothing lackluster about Paul standing in front of Gentiles, not knowing what they were going to do to him.

He knew he would get to Caesar, but at what price? Maybe you're going to take a flight somewhere. You know you're going to get to your destination, flight's going to be long, but you do not know if it's going to be miserable or not. And it could be.

Well, a lot of reasons. Just, you know, who else is on the flight with you? And so, just because he had this assurance from God that he would survive this tribunal, he did not have assurances from God that he would be carefree. So, yeah, lackluster, maybe just reading it, oh, ho, hum, he's in court and they're trying to decide, but there's a reality to this that belongs to all of us. We, too, can stand before a tribunal.

We, too, can stand before individuals who think that they're judging us in their court. And so, to me, being mindful of that, it elevates my interest in what's going on in a chapter that otherwise might not seem so. Because everything we know about Paul is within this framework. He wanted to share the gospel, he wanted to make Christians stronger, and he wanted to save unbelievers. Every move he made, now he's not the only one, we just have more information about him this way. We have no right to suppose that Peter was somehow, you know, just indifferent about these things.

He's working just as hard. And yet, within this framework of desiring to preach the gospel, earlier he had written to the Corinthians, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. His audience in this chapter remain deep in the joys of their sin, and sin can be a lot of fun.

And anybody who tells you otherwise is either very ignorant or guilty of a cover-up. That's why the flesh has so much power, because sin is a lot of fun. But so is holiness, so is righteousness.

And the two are going to duke it out throughout your life. Isaiah says this, he said, Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness. In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of Yahweh. Here's Isaiah saying, you know, there's some people you just can't be nice to. You cannot share with them the gospel. They're going to trample it. Jesus warned, you know, don't cast pearl before swine.

They'll turn on you and trample you underfoot. This is sobriety for us. We have to keep us sober. Peter said, be sober-minded.

Because Christians have a tendency to be emotionally driven and lose their sobriety. In Matthew's gospel in the 22nd chapter, Jesus told a parable. He had the Pharisees in mind, and in this parable he's talking about a wedding feast the king wanted to have for his son. And he invited people to this wedding feast. In the 22nd chapter of Matthew, verse 5, we read, But they made light of it and went their ways.

How convenient. Clueless about the consequences, about all that was taking place. They just went to do the things they wanted to do and ignored what God was offering them. And by the time he closes the parable, he closes it with these words, For many are called, but few are chosen. Those called were those invited.

And they weren't chosen because they didn't accept the invitation. These lessons are not supposed to fade. So if you're doing your devotional time and you're in the gospels and you're done with the gospels, and then you go on to say the book of Acts or maybe the Roman letter, you're not supposed to forget the things you received in the gospels. We build on those things.

We continue moving forward, upward. And because they, in Jesus' parable in Matthew 22, refused the greatest invitation ever given to man, they would incur a consequence that God has every right to implement. To die hostile against Jesus Christ is bad enough, but to die indifferent to God's greatest gift of sinners is also unpardonable.

To be careless, to think that it doesn't matter. There was a game out. It probably still exists. And it's sort of, you poke a little fun at the game. The game's called Bible trivia.

Well, there's nothing trivial about the Bible. That's the comeback. And I like doing those kind of things. I like bursting bubbles of some people. Judging by some of the laughter, some of you do too. Anyway, law harmless, not looking to hurt anyone.

It's done in love. Anyway, here, the people are trying, these people that Paul is standing in front of, they're trying to determine his fate, at least they think they are. He has harmed no one. His troubles weren't over. He thought, he's been sitting in jail for two years. It's been two years since these accusers, these who want to get him to Jerusalem, it's been two years since he's had to deal with them. You would think he would probably have thought, okay, that's done now.

No, it's not. Two years later, they're going to resurrect their hatred. And still trying to get him because it is a big deal to the hater of humans, Satan.

It is a big deal to him that we would have the audacity to not worship him instead of the true God. Verse 1 now, now when Festus had come to the province after three days, he went up to Caesarea, to Jerusalem. So Festus, he was made of better stuff than his predecessor, Felix.

Felix was the governor and he was born a slave and he became a ruler. He never figured out leadership. He never figured out decency. There are some people, you know, you hold a door open for somebody going into a store and some people won't even say thank you and you don't, it registers. You say, look at that. That's why I pay attention to what car they drove up in, waiting for them when they come out.

No, don't do that. Anyway, coming back to this Festus, he, unlike Felix, was more educated, had more class than Felix. He was a man of nobility and yet he's still untrustworthy. We'll find out in verse 9 where he tries to do the Jews a favor, never mind justice. He wanted to advance his political position.

He only served two years and he died while he was in office. There will be two more governors and then Rome will destroy Jerusalem because of the uprising of the Jews. As he was ruler, he spent most of his time dealing with robbers and those assassins, the Sicarii that never went away. Well, after three days, he goes up to Caesarea to Jerusalem. One of the first things he does as governor is to travel 70 some miles to Jerusalem to meet with the Jewish leaders. It was a gesture of respect and it was wise on his part to do this, especially because that generation of Jews had a reputation for violence, fanaticism, and being virtually ungovernable and he knew that. They all knew that.

They're trying to lessen the tensions by establishing friendships. And again, a wise move, verse 2. So we know one of the characters that we'll be dealing with in chapter 25 and into chapter 26. Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul and they petitioned him.

We'll stop midway of the sentence. So again, two years later, the hatred for Paul, still burnt hot, is still determined to kill him first chance they get. But they can't get to him because Rome is protecting Paul and they're no match for Rome's troops.

So they're going to try to do it politically or at least to set it up that way. This tells us that while Paul was jailed for two years, his faith and his ministry was not. These men with all their wealth and all their clout are still concerned about one Christian, a single Christian. They did not forget because Paul would not let them forget.

Oh God, that I could have such or that I could make such an impact on my generation as Paul made just here in Jerusalem where they're still angry with him. They're still hating him because they could not refute him. They could not beat him in an exchange of ideas through reason. They thought they owned him.

This is kind of a common practice. When you're one of a group and you leave that group, sometimes they think they own you. You have no right to leave. In chapter 22, we read Paul said, I persecuted this way to the death. I tried to destroy Christianity. He was one of them. Traitors receive a double hatred.

And that's how they viewed him. Bitterness engulfed these religious people. And it will engulf us if we're not careful.

Later Paul would write in this Hebrew letter, looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God. Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble and by this many become defiled. Don't trivialize any of that. Bitterness is serious stuff.

It's poison. And if you can't forgive, you got a problem. This is forgiveness and restoring, not necessarily the same thing. But to become bitter and resentful in Christ, a bad combination. Even today, there is a particular religion especially where you're not allowed to opt out. They'll kill you for leaving their religion. So it's not anything new.

We see it here. For Paul, this problem as I mentioned wasn't going away. Well that's helpful for me as a Christian because I want troubles to be settled and gone. It doesn't always work out that way. I have to buckle up for the long term. And he's buckled up for it.

You know, probably when we finish Acts, we're going to go into the jail letters. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Because we get to see that even though he was in the custody of Rome, he was not in the custody of Satan. He was a prisoner of Jesus Christ and never a prisoner of Rome. And the amount of work that he accomplished with that attitude of I'm going to preach Christ anyway.

I'm going to strengthen believers and I'm going to reach the lost. And he did both. And that's why we want to learn from a man such as this. Well, again, they did not want him to opt out. They were doubly insulted by him, verse 3. Asking a favor against him. The personal pronouns in verse 3 are all for Paul. Asking a favor against him that he, well that pronoun is Festus, would summon him to Jerusalem. And they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. So probably better read, asking a favor of Paul that Festus would summon Paul to Jerusalem while they lay in ambush along the road to kill Paul.

There's a hymn for you, three of them. Matthew 16, 16, Jesus said to them, to his disciples, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And these are the ones that want to kill Paul.

Paul warned his disciples. Yeah, they're into religion, they walk around with their robes, they make their public prayers, but they are corrupt. That's what the leaven, leaven means corruption in the New Testament. They are corrupt. Harry Ironside, a pastor of many decades ago here in this country, said, What a corrupt thing religion is when it leaves God out.

That's what we're looking at. They have their religion, they just don't have God. They have no problem with doing, making underhanded deals, with violating their own commandments. The whole trial of Paul was illegal. It was against the will of their God, but that didn't matter. They wanted to murder Paul, and that's what it would have been. They murdered Stephen, again like Paul, because they could not debunk the truth, and they'll murder you and I, or you and me.

We're not careful, and they get the chance, because they cannot debunk the truth. So again, what you believe about God is important to God, and it is also important to Satan. Satan, therefore, energizes people to do harm to those of the faith.

And, you know, he can be very reckless with this. He can have one religion fight another religion, and both those religions be false. He is a hateful beast, an anti-Christ. It is not by accident that Christ calls him the beast. He's a human being that behaves like an animal. And this is the work of the devil.

We're not supposed to behave like animals in that sense. God's truth, it's a separating force. And if you are a Christian, you have to come to understand that right in the early phases. Matthew chapter 10, Jesus said, do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Holiness, it only comes by separating truth from lies. You cannot have the two and say, this is holiness.

They don't reconcile with each other. And the end of God's truth, and I think this is important, and I hope your teens are keeping up. I hope you can keep up with this. And what you can't, what you can't keep up with, grab what you can. You're not going to hear this outside of the churches, anointed churches, churches with people who love the Lord and want to follow his word.

You're not going to get this elsewhere, and don't let it be wasted on you. The end of wisdom, God's truth, let me rephrase it. The end of God's truth, it is not wisdom. It has wisdom in it, but the end goal is not to make you wise. That's part of it. The goal of the world, of philosophers, that is, they want this wisdom.

They want to know more. But the goal of God's truth is holiness. Again, wisdom is a part of that. There are other things, other virtues that are part of that, but essentially purity before God, a cleansed relationship. When the Bible says the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us, it makes us clean, it purifies us, it makes us holy in that sense before God. There are levels of holiness. There's the holiness of God, which is far beyond what we'll ever have. And then there is a holiness that is extended to us by being touched by God.

And the world does not understand these things. We are supposed to move in and out amongst them, knowing this, taking any chance we can to explain it, the value of being right with God. And holiness will cost my sinful nature. My sinful nature will never settle for it. It's not interested in being pure and holy.

It wants to corrupt and defile to leaven anything it can. This is basic Christianity. You know, if we were doing an end time study from Revelation, it would be more advanced stuff perhaps, requiring a more thorough knowledge of the prophets in the Old Testament to understand what was going on in the new and ultimately in history, history future. But this is basic Christianity so far that I'm sharing. Verse 4, But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly. Verse 5, Therefore he said, Let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man to see if there is any fault in him. So he is beginning as governor.

He's going to go by the book. He's traveled from Caesarea by the Mediterranean Sea to Jerusalem to meet with the elders. They take the opportunity to say, Let's kill Paul, and trying to get him to bring Paul from Caesarea to Jerusalem, and at some point they can assassinate him.

Festus, whether he knows the history of the case or not, really not important at this point. What he is doing is saying, No, the book says we need to try him in Caesarea. That's where he's been sent.

You guys come up. That's the Lord, of course, looking out for Paul. Verse 6, And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought. Now, you've got to love Luke as a Gentile.

He's the author of the book of Acts. Following the pattern of the holy or the righteous Jews, they always refer to Jerusalem as up, no matter where you're coming from. If you were to parachute into Jerusalem, you were going up into Jerusalem, and so Caesarea is to the north, and so you would think that they went up to Caesarea, but he says the Jews, Verse 10, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem, so there you see it. Jerusalem, they're coming down from Jerusalem, but geographically, Jerusalem was actually lower than Caesarea. So anyway, I hope I made that point without confusing you too much. If you would just listen for two or three hours, I could slow down. But there's just too many points to make. So, they're going back to Caesarea, where Festus has all this authority.

Verse 7, when he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood above and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. 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 / 2024-02-22 09:49:46 / 2024-02-22 09:59:30 / 10

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