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August 5, 2022 6:00 am
Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts
There were no consequences. Who needs good news will be good but these things, they remain whether a person receives them or not is up to the believer to try to live a life in such a way that we do not damage our opportunities to share Christ because who wants to hear from a Christian at that Christian has a reputation of being a liar or mean-spirited or petty or a host of other vices that we are all susceptible to 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 8 as he begins his message persecuted, to preach where the book of acts chapter 8 title of this message is persecuted, to preach, although as I was thinking about the sitting in the back. I thought of an alternate title. Loyalty still, because loyalty counts only under pressure. Who needs it. When everything's going right when you challenge these Christians are challenge. They are persecuted and yet they going to remain loyal to the Lord. So much so they going to invite others to come and join the persecution they going to go and spread the gospel. Verses one through eight. Now Saul was consenting to his death at the time the great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem. They were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles and devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women committing them to prison. Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preach Christ to them in the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did for unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice came out of many who were possessed many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. There was great joy in that city just the beginning of an exciting chapter Satan found in this Pharisees. Saul, who would later become the great apostle Paul, one of the great champions of the Bible and Saul. He was the son of a Pharisee. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. He was it was in his blood, but it was the blood of the Lamb that will prevail in his life. Satan found in this Saul what he hoped he could use to destroy Christianity. While it was still in the cradle's early years, so there is this preaching of Stephen they kill Stephen telling them the truth about themselves and his exaltation of Christ, backed up by Scripture. Their Scripture and Satan met launches this massive counter attack because like Mordechai Stephen stood up in the face of those things that needed to be defied Mordechai when he stood up against Haman who was this man that wanted to wipe out the Jewish people wipe them off the face of the earth. God use more about Mordechai to provoke us to come to ahead to get it out in the open and deal with it and that's what happened.
Stephen is doing being used by God to do the same thing I Mordechai is one of the unsung heroes of the Bible. I think many of us are not mindful of how great a man he was when he stood up against evil. There was this massive counterattack against he and the people of God which state had to fight to prevail in the safe chapter we'll read here at Saul's persecuting the church. Philip proclaims Christ and Samaria Christians join in. Simon the magician becomes a believer in the next section. Hopefully next next week and then there's this Ethiopian eunuch that gets saved and it is just an exciting chapter of evangelism look now in verse one again. Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Well, when it says now Saul was consenting to his death. We have to go back and look at chapter 7 in verse 60 to keep it in context and there we read about Stephen. He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not charge them with this sin and when he said this, he fell asleep. Now Saul was consenting to his death that fell asleep course euphemism for he died. So when he cast his vote against Stephen. He cited against Jesus Christ and it was personal.
He was personally against Jesus Christ before I became a believer, I was personally against Jesus Christ. Not everyone is like that who is not come to the Lord. Some just are not mindful of that. Mindful, but there are many out there that it's personal.
That's the work of Satan. Truth is cold when you don't like it. And Saul, he heard that sermon of Stephen and the truth was cold to him and he turned hot with rage, anger, the very first words that this Saul will hear from the mouth of Jesus Christ is, why are you persecuting me see it was personal. Christ took it as personal and even the person who doesn't articulate the rejection of Christ that way. Still, it's personal is no way getting is the way getting around. Acts chapter 9 verse 44 Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me this is that the crisis is been crucified and risen and ascended to heaven. You touch one of his people you touching him directly. That's how God takes that ends any debate, confusion about what persecution is about. Maybe some of you persecuted Christians before you became believers, God will soon use every bit of this man, Saul against sin, to exalt Christ is incredible.
He works slowly and mysteriously.
But he works and can lose sight of that Psalm 76 verse 10. Surely the wrath of man shall praise you yet because God is in control. He is sovereign.
Don't let that disturb you when he doesn't swoop down and take your problems way.
He still sovereign. He still loving every bit of it estate to the end. His reward is with him say excited about heaven you older Christians especially stay excited about heaven.
Don't let discouragement, disappointment, pain, cake up on you to the point where you can't see the reward that awaits you. Christ going to be excited to see you Keisha C. The labor of his soul and be satisfied. How hard is it to be satisfied and remained that way and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria hell has no fury that God cannot use hell can get as mad as it we can get as mad as hell, God still use it. That's why Paul said we know all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purposes. Saul did not yet love God was not yet call God and with this was going.
God knew that in this man, there would be a portal for the Holy Spirit to enter into his heart and dwell there indirectly. At this time Saul is spreading Christianity before he becomes a Christian because of his actions as a prosecutor and is going to wrap it up next chapter still still wreaking havoc or if you prefer the alternate pronunciation still racking have havoc he still added is still burning is that truth was cold to him, but was truth nonetheless Satan did not see any of this coming he was really planning to wipe out the church. Paul will admit to that will come that little bit except the apostles.
While the apostles were not persecuted at this point though all of them would suffer for Christ, likely because of Gamal EL's words to the Pharisees, especially, but to the Sanhedrin. Overall because Kamali was a Pharisee in chapter 5 just reviewed when they were looking to persecute the apostles Peter and John, the leadership Kamali else's now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone for if this plan will work is of man.
It will come to nothing. But if it is of God. You cannot overthrow it last you even be found to fight against God while they did think I think they kept that in mind, and left the apostles alone, fearing fighting God respecting the words of Gamal EL but Molly Eldon say not mess with the sheep. We can bother them, and that's what they're doing. Some of the other Christians will remain at Jerusalem to will will review this as we move on verse two and devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. I believe these were dedicated non-Christian Jews dedicated to Yahweh and Judaism as they understood they respected even love Stephen. That kind of a personality speaks very highly of him as we considered his appointment to one of the servants in the church, a man full of grace and truth full of the spirit. While even those who had not yet come to Christ admired this man the Christians. Certainly they would have agonized over the death of this man who sealed his loyalty to Christ with his blood. He will not be the last view is the first in the church to suffer persecution after Pentecost. Of course, Christ always is first amongst all firstfruits, they recognize that Stephen died without dishonoring Yahweh while telling the truth about his ancestors and those who murdered him and it turned out to be true. Acts chapter 7 verse 52. Stephen said which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute that killed those who foretold the coming of the just one of whom you now become betrayers and murderers so they killed Stephen Joe then added to the list and they never thanked him for pointing it out. They proved his point with his blood and made great lamentation over him again non-Christians who may not have really understood that, at the moment. Stephen was in paradise. He was in heaven.
Psalm 116 verse 15 precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints of that's true. I think largely is true because of those left behind it have to greet through it all mean something to God. Of course the church grieve the loss of their son and his gallant death.
They were busy very busy the soul of Stephen, his spirit instantly went to Christ. Look at verse 55 of chapter 7 but he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This this just shoots down the silly notions of soul sleep. Christ was not welcoming Stephen in the head and into heaven just to put them to bed okay analogy.
I never sleep for a while as it's up it's a kooky doctrine from the cookie people.
So if you hear get wind of it, just rejected the Scripture refuted.
Philippians chapter 1 verse 23 Paul speaking about, you know, I'd like to leave this life and just go to be Christ. But I got work here to do so. He writes for. I am hard-pressed and remember he's writing from jail for Christ or I am hard-pressed between the two having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better they take Stephen's body to the grave. That's what it tells us here in verse two. Second Corinthians 58 we are confident yes well. Please rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord Jesus said my people don't die, they come to me and Paul is saying here the body.
You know I don't care where you bury me to do anything with that.
I'm done with that tent.
I'm with Christ. Jesus said to him as surely I did to you today you will be with me in paradise. So when the Christian dies heaven just like that that transition is instant. We believe that by faith and that faith is built on logic and reason in the spirit of God. So the spirit and the soul of the believer go to be with Christ at the time of death, the dead are not in an unconscious state. They are aware of what's going on. They are entirely aware they may leave this world in an unconscious state.
But the minute they enter eternity.
They are aware of what's going on. They feel it the soul of an unbeliever does not go to Christ they too are not in an unconscious state. They are aware of their doom. Death is for real. And that's why we preach the gospel and if it were not for real. Who needs the gospel. There were no consequences. Who needs to good news it would all be good but these things, they remain whether a person receives them or not. And it is up to the believer to try to live a life in such a way that we do not damage our opportunities to share Christ because who wants to hear from a Christian if that Christian has a reputation of being a liar or mean-spirited or petty or a host of other vices that we are all susceptible to in verse three as for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women committing them to prison. Now Luke is writing about 25, 30 years after the events that were reading took place with the benefit of knowing Saul's destiny, so is he writing all sleep. Saul might be in the room with them. The time is writing as we know, Luke was spent time with Saul would go away would come back would go away with get that in the book of acts with a pronoun chain from they went to we went to and we we know that he's probably out researching his writings and is the gospel of Luke. He tells us that he did did extensive research to bring the gospel story to his readers and so this is significant when you consider that Paul was a soliciting would've been putting from Celestia would've put him with the freed men and that synagogue hearing Stephen dismantle their religious errors than he was at the stoning of Stephen holding the clothing wreaks havoc on the church we get the chapter 9 he is still breathing threats of violence against the church.
He still added he's gone mad with this hatred for Christianity and so he makes havoc of the church because Stephen again took part played by leg Paul's religious arrogance and he did it with truth and he did with their Scripture acts chapter 9 verse 13. This is when God sends Ananias to Paul Hayden want to go is his pet is bad news. God says the analyzer wanted to go to Saul is on the street called straight and and Van Nuys ruled the street might be straight, but he's not straight as a protest to God and answered what I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your Saints in Jerusalem. We don't think were reading about what what a real moment. Here's Ananias doing knows what he is doing is probably out in the backyard juggling is what we all do when were out in the backyard and then you get that picture of God says I want you to go to anoint Saul and he's in dialogue with God.
I can see him telling the story to Luke, the telling it to other Christians what I do when was the Lord I want to go so I told him Lord said, nonetheless, go, and he that he went clear as a bell. Christianity is different from Judaism and irreconcilable. We moved on.
They stayed back Christianity phase Judaism out because the messianic prophecies concerning the Messiah. Great portion of them have been fulfilled, which develops the faith, we retain the moral law, we retain the revelations about God's person when Abraham says to God, shall not the God of the universe do right. We keep that that's true that's New Testament theology do. God always is right but we leave behind the husk the ritual, the fruit has come out the husk and we put the husk away and we move forward. The strength of the fruit of God's work. God's witness Stephen Stephen was God's witness stood up Saul witness that stoning of this Stephen and it haunted him shows up with this rage. Saul is being poked his conscience is being poked and poked and poked and he is provoked in this and that's why Jesus will ask him the question isn't it hard to kick against the goads the goads of those things that poked the animal into placing these I care entering every house and dragging off men and women committing to prison.
This is what the Christians were fleeing. This is what Saul was doing as the chief prosecutor and this is why they were fleeing Jerusalem and going to Judea and Samaria, all way up to Antioch this spread all over the place. Paul later admits that he was an antichrist. So if you can admit that to you once against Christ.
Galatians chapter 1, you have heard of my former congregation because it was big news in Judaism how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. Yes Satan thought he could pull this off because remember, Satan isn't saying is don't you don't reason with him, but can what is this works so far he still thinks he can harm God tells us in first trillion 15 and Philippians 3 that he persecuted the church admits it right out and actually to ease as he imprisoned them unto death. Stephen would've been part of those unto the death and asked 22. He also tells us that he beat the Saints or had them beaten and asked 26. He says he compelled them to blaspheme to renounce Christ to say Jesus is not the Messiah in Galatians 3 as we just were read. He said he persecuted them. Beyond measure to destroy them and then intent to Timothy. He writes that he wasn't ignorant blaspheme a brief overview of the damage he was inflicting a short period of time. God let it run. Anyone who claims that they have committed too much sin to be forgiven should stop such gibberish about God before the throne of God is men like Moses and David and Saul of Tarsus can be forgiven that anybody can be forgiven. And it is a copout to say what I've done so much work. Now you just trying to weasel out of something that you know is made available to you. It is a sin to disagree that Christ forgives sins is a sin to say no. He does not do it. Romans chapter 7 Paul officer writes about his himself.
His ongoing selfies is a wretched man that I am well John Newton that's where he would pick up amazing grace that saved a wretch like me it's biblical world is an like this because they're insecure about their sin. We are to but in a different way.
A wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death.
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, that Sue delivers from sin, then he writes in the very next verse.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit and we see that acted out in life of Saul areas persecuting the church to get say there is now therefore no condemnation on him.
Wretch can be saved. Heaven will be filled with one-time wretches were wretches no more, or who are rich. No more truly the wretched of the earth of sinners, God makes a way of escape verse four.
Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. You would think that they would be irritated by that.
Where's God I gave my life to Christ and now this is what I get on the preaching. This can invite others to suffer with me maybe.
Maybe God is let you down in your eyes and your little angry with him or a lot of angry with him and you sorta like on the sermon, I'm not doing this on my reading.
I'm not and you just sort of you know, flying as you know low as you can beneath the radar of service hoping to get away with that you're hurting yourself to cutting off your nose to spite your face. As the saying goes, this word here for preaching in verse four is where we get our English word evangelism.
Please telling the good news.
Molly L had predicted. He said it in all these guys these Christians are going to go the way, if it's not God you going to go the way of all these other upstarts you know that they were the upstarts died and then the followers were dispersed. Well, these their leader was crucified and risen again there persecuted they are dispersed they are scattered, but there still serving churches scattered but instead of dying out. It will flourish. Persecution has a way of filtering out those who are not true believers but make-believe for those who just given to the persecution and not to Christ, who you've been listening to cross reference radio daily radio ministry 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 cross reference radio.com that's cross reference radio.com would 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 could subscribe to cross reference radio.com or simply search for cross reference radio in your favorite podcast to the next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of acts right here on cross reference radio