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Category Archives: Return of Christ

Christ Followers

Christ Followers

I’m continuing through the Gospel of Luke. In the last few posts, I’ve been comparing our ministry to that of John the Baptist. Right now we should be preparing for the second appearing of the Messiah.

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.

Luke 3:15

It’s interesting that as John carried out God’s plan for his life, people began to question if he was the promised Messiah. They saw the testimony of lives that were changed by his ministry.

Throughout this section of Scripture, I’ve been repeating that we’re the “John the Baptist Generation”. What the crowd saw in John is what the world should see in us.

Should they think that we’re the Messiah? Absolutely not! But, they should see Christ in us. That’s what it was like in the early church.

The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Acts 11:26

That’s where the name Christian came from. The ministry of those early believers was right in line with how the Lord lived and ministered. The crowd came to the conclusion that these people were Christ followers.

That should be the question of the modern church community. Can people see how we live, respond, and minister; then conclude that we’re trying to be like Jesus? In my opinion, there’s a big disconnect in our generation. It’s time to close the gap between how we live and the life of Christ.

It’s when the people around us see a higher standard of living, that they’ll want what we have. Then, we won’t have to preach at them. They will seek out our message.

That’s why the crowds of people flocked to hear John the Baptist in the desert. They wanted to understand a new level of spirituality.

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.

Luke 3:16-18

John had quite a message. The problem he had, was that the Old Testament showed both sides of the Messiah. It showed His salvation, but it also talked about the Day of Judgment. John thought that both of these would occur at the same time when Messiah arrived.

We know now that when Christ appeared then, it was to save us from our sin. The judgment won’t take place until His second appearance.

But, John does clearly place the choice right before our eyes. We can choose to be immersed in the Holy Spirit. Or, we can be immersed in the fire of judgment. We can choose to be wheat or chaff.

Actually, Jesus taught that He would do this exact thing on the Day of Judgment. He told it in a parable found in Matthew 13:24-30.

With John, his message was good news and bad news. The good news is that Messiah is coming. The bad news is that judgment is also coming.

Our message is similar, but of greater importance. The bad news is that Messiah is coming to judge the world. But, the Good News is that Messiah has already come to save, restore, and protect you from the coming wrath.

Why do we find it so hard to bring this wonderful message to those around us? What are we afraid of?

John preached without fear. Luke 3:19-20, tells us that his message actually got him locked up in prison. Yet, that didn’t hinder him from proclaiming what he was given.

We need to walk in the same boldness as John the Baptist. We need to declare the goodness of Jesus Christ to our world.

Question: How are you called to proclaim the message of Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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It’s Time for a Change

It’s Time for a Change

In my last post, we saw how John the Baptist called his nation to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. We need to do the same in regards to the Second Coming of Christ.

Let’s continue looking at John’s message.

“‘Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’”

Luke 3:5-6

This is one of those beautiful prophecies of Scripture. In many ways, John was ahead of his time. He spoke mysteries that not only applied in his day, but in ours as well.

In our vocabulary, valleys are sometimes called gaps or hollows. That’s very appropriate to where the modern church finds itself. Compared to the early church, we seem to have a few gaps in our experience.

I believe that right now God is in the process of filling in those gaps. Those who are listening to His voice are seeing the move of His Spirit. I can’t wait for the full-on outpouring of the Last Days.

In the same way, there are mountains – high places of pride – that keep us from following God’s will with all our heart. We rely too much on our experiences. We don’t expect the miraculous anymore. God needs to humble us so we can trust His Word no matter what’s going on around us.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

God wants a people who are willing to walk in His power, no matter the outcome. That means rejecting our exalted opinions, and embracing His Word.

Getting back to the verse in Luke, it’s interesting that the word, crooked, can also be used figuratively to mean disobedient. God has a path mapped out for our lives, but we choose to go our own way regardless of the consequences.

God is trying to get our attention. The Holy Spirit is tirelessly working to straighten out and level up our crooked and rough patches.

The goal is simple. The way much of the church is right now, it’s impossible for the world to get a clear picture of Christ and His salvation. They see our opinions, disobedience, bigotry, and worldliness. They conclude that if there’s an answer to life’s problems, it won’t be found in the church.

That’s an unfortunate and unacceptable situation. Right now, God is actively working on the course-correction for His people. You can choose to continue going your own way and be humbled. Or, you can submit to God’s plan, and see the truly miraculous take place around you.

In the next few verses, Luke 3:7-14, John ministers according to the Old Covenant. He talks about the works that they need to do to be acceptable to God. That’s not our ministry. We speak of the great salvation God has already accomplished in Christ.

But, in spite of the “works mentality” in his preaching, the Scripture records that crowds of people made the long journey out into the desert to listen to him. It’s sad that even with our message of hope, forgiveness and salvation in Christ, relatively few are being drawn to it.

We use the excuse that, “Society doesn’t respect the Lord anymore. That’s why they don’t receive the Gospel.” In actuality, there’s a bigger problem.

As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Romans 2:24

We need to change. We need to live in such a way that the world sees a difference in us. They need to see a higher level of living. Only then will they want what we have and be attracted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Question: What needs to change in order for us to more effectively portray the glory of God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2021 in Faith, Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Preparing the Way

Preparing the Way

As we continue going through the Gospel of Luke, I’ll go on talking about us as being the “John the Baptist Generation”. We should be calling God’s people to wake up and prepare for the second coming of the Messiah – Jesus Christ.

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 3:3

The first thing we have to realize is that our message is a little bit different than his was. We have to remember that John the Baptist preached before the cross of Christ.

Therefore, in order to be forgiven, there had to be true repentance. That word means a total reversal of direction. I had to stop doing wrong before I could be forgiven. My forgiveness was based upon my ability to obey God.

Praise the Lord! We live after the cross. It’s no longer “turn around and be forgiven”. But now, by grace, it’s confess your sin to God and be forgiven.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

God knows that I have no ability to change my life. I cry out to Him in my weakness. I confess how I’ve missed the mark of His perfection. Then, I allow the Holy Spirit to do the purifying work in me.

I think that we miss this sometimes. Too many believers are living in the Old Covenant. They think that they have to change themselves in order to please God. That will never work.

When I come to God, He is faithful to forgive – remove – my sin. Then, it’s only by His power that I can truly change my lifestyle to conform to His image.

But, there’s another part of John’s message that we need to lay hold of. Remember, John was calling Israel, God’s people, to prepare for Messiah’s coming. That same message is needed today in the church.

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him…’”

Luke 3:4

I hate the fact that I have to be the one who says this. But, compared to the early church, we live in a spiritual wilderness. We’re no longer excited about who God is. (I’m speaking overall, not about the few who are awake)

What seems to really get our attention is what God can do for us. We ignore what God wants to do through us. We no longer think in terms of bringing people to the knowledge of salvation. We want to fit into society.

We concern ourselves with so many side issues that it crowds out our devotion to Christ. Our fear of the social problems around us keeps us from worshiping together.

So many churches are places where we come together to hear great inspirational singing. We listen to a motivational talk. But, we leave unchanged and continue on our way oblivious to God’s plan for us.

It’s truly time for us to seek God’s presence. We must want Him to show up at our services. That’s what making straight paths for Him is all about.

The problem is that many churches don’t want the Holy Spirit to show up at their services. It would mess things up. He would really throw off their schedules. And He’d make them late for dinner.

In this generation, we truly need a manifestation of the presence of God in our meetings.

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

1 Corinthians 14:24-25

This is what we should be preparing ourselves for. This will bring in a harvest of souls. It’s what the world needs to see.

Question: What will it take for us to start truly seeking the presence of God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2021 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, The Gospel

 

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It’s Time to Be Listening

It’s Time to Be Listening

I’ve been going through the Gospel of Luke in my posts. In today’s article, we’ll begin chapter 3.

If you remember, toward the end of the first chapter of Luke, Zechariah gave a prophecy about the ministry of his son, John the Baptist. When I posted about this, I said that we were the “John the Baptist generation.” We’ve been given the same type of ministry that he had.

This is where we are in history. I believe that this is the final generation before the return of Christ. We are the “John the Baptist generation.”

He was one man sent to a nation that was spiritually asleep. Now, we’re a small group sent to a sleeping church. The truth is, that either you’re the one calling, or the one needing to wake up. The choice is yours.

We must respond to God’s call for equipping. God is now preparing a people for the end-time ministry ahead of us.

But there was another part to John’s ministry.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar — when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene — during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 3:1-3

He heard and he went. It’s important for us to understand that our generation needs to hear a Word from God. God is speaking the same message throughout the body of Christ today.

“Please, listen to Me!!!”

God is trying to get our attention. He wants to speak to a church that’s largely enamored with what the world has to offer. We don’t want to take the time to hear from the Holy Spirit.

That’s the big key to this whole thing. Hearing from God requires time. We must allow for quality time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. We need to be listening for His voice.

The enemy knows this. Never have there been more distractions. There’s so much going on in the world around us. We need to stay spiritually focused.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

We seem to have lost sight of this truth. That verse literally says, “Faith comes out of hearing and hearing through the rhema of Christ.” Rhema is the Greek word that speaks of the Word we hear in our spirit from God.

That’s one of our biggest failings. Not listening, and therefore not hearing God’s voice speaking to us.

We want to just go out and minister with the power of the spirit. We want to go to work, watch TV, play basketball, and heal the sick. We want formulas – quick, easy ways to walk in the spirit.

The spiritual authority that we’re looking for starts in hearing from God. John went out into the desert and didn’t minister until he heard a Word from God. Then, people actually flocked to him in the desert. Today, we find it hard getting people to our meetings in the middle of a city.

What’s wrong? I believe that the answer is clear – we have no Word from God. If we want to be the end-time church, prepared for Christ’s return, then we need to be listening to the Holy Spirit.

That’s the only way to communicate the message of salvation the world needs to hear. That’s the only way to usher in the end-time harvest of souls before the return of Christ.

Question: What will it take for the church to hear a Word from God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Divine Interruptions

Divine Interruptions

In my last post, we saw the angel appearing to some shepherds who were up all night watching their sheep. (Luke 2:8-12) They were given the sign of Christ. They were to look for a baby, wrapped like a corpse, laying in a feeding trough.

This is an important picture for us. We should be just like those shepherds. It’s the middle of the night. Everyone else is asleep. But they have a job to do. They are to stay awake and watch.

Look at what Paul says about our Last-Days attitudes.

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

1 Thessalonians 5:6

Jesus Christ is coming soon. This is not the time to be spiritually sleeping. That means falling victim to the distractions of the world.

There’s a large percentage of the church that’s fast asleep right now. They have no clue how close to the end we are. It’s time to wake up and live out loud for Christ.

It’s easy to sleep in the dark. But, there’s a call going out through the earth for those who are listening. God is calling His people to a new level of action in His Spirit.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Luke 2:13-15

All of heaven was mobilized during this time. That was true even though from a natural view, there was not much taking place. From the outside it merely looked like a poor, traveling, family, was camping out for the night.

However, what you see with your eyes is not all that’s taking place. There was an event of major importance taking place in the spirit. How would the shepherds respond? Would they view it as just another normal birth?

Absolutely not! They understood the importance of what they were told. We’re told to watch and be spiritually alert and self-controlled. Do we understand the importance of what we’re being told?

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Luke 2:16-19

I like the fact that they didn’t stand around discussing it for hours. They immediately, with speed and urgency, went off to find the child. How urgent do we consider God’s commands to us?

Once they obeyed, they had a message to bring to anyone who would listen to them. It’s time for us to accomplish great things for the Lord. On the flip side, we’ll see and experience the miraculous from His hand. That’s the time in history we’re living in.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:19-20

The good news is that everyone involved received something from the Lord. Mary got encouragement and a confirmation that God was at work in them. The shepherds received a calling to spread the word about the coming of the Messiah.

The fact is that God will use anyone who’s available. The shepherds happened to be the only ones awake at the time. We need to make ourselves available to God in order for Him to use us.

We can’t crowd our schedules so full that there’s no room for a “midnight call”. We need to be ready for a divine interruption. Then, we’ll see the glory of God at work in our lives.

Question: What does it take to be spiritually awake and available to God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2021 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Last Days Ministry

Last Days Ministry

In my last post we saw the prophecy that Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, had about Christ. Now he begins talking about his son’s ministry. What John the baptist was called to accomplish.

There’s a reason why this is so important for us to hear. John was called to prepare the way for Christ to appear in Israel.

In the same way, we’re called to prepare the way for Christ to appear a second time. In our case, He’s not going to come in a weak fleshly body. He’s going to descend from the sky as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…”

Luke 1:76

Like it or not, we have a very prophetic ministry in our generation. We’re very close to the return of Christ. With each new day we see the signs of the Last Days being fulfilled in the earth.

The problem is that so many believers are ignorant of the Lord’s coming. They act as if everything is going to continue on like this forever. We need to develop an End-Times mindset.

…to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins…”

Luke 1:77

We need this ministry. We should be making known the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Instead, we seem to be majoring on political agendas and the accumulation of the latest technology.

We have the message that the lost world desperately needs to hear. Instead, God’s people seem to be so self-absorbed, that this message is drowned out by everything else we’re involved in. We need a new awakening.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:78-79

Our generation must be a light in the darkness. There has never been a darker time in the modern world. Unless you’re living with your head in the sand, this is an undeniable truth.

We need to understand what being the light entails. It’s obvious that light gets the attention in the dark. There’s no getting around that. We’re not called to just blend into the background.

This is because a light stands in direct opposition to the darkness. There cannot be any two kingdoms that are more opposite than us and the world.

We’re not a part of this society. We live here, work here, and have to interact with those around us. We need to be loving, productive, and contributing to the welfare of our community. But, the fact is we don’t BELONG here.

Darkness speaks of a place – but we are seated with Christ in heavenly places; that’s the kingdom of light. This is not our time and place.

We need to be what we’re called to be. It’s not our destiny to blend in and become part of the whole. It’s our calling to show there’s a different way to live.

John the Baptist is an example to us of how to minister to the world while living in the Kingdom of God. It’s time for us to live up to this calling. The world is desperate to hear the message that’s been entrusted to us. We need to stop chasing their dreams and live for Christ with an urgency that reflects the times we live in.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Luke 1:80

This generation of the church must grow up so that we can function as we must at this time in history. Be equipped with the spiritual weaponry. Be listening and hearing a Word from God. Then continue to walk in that word. Finally, if we do these things we will be the light that will draw people to Christ. We are the John the Baptist Generation.

Questions: How much light is the church producing right now? How can that light be increased?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Messiah is Coming!

Messiah is Coming!

Continuing through the Gospel of Luke, today’s post will talk about Luke 1:61-75. You may want to read this passage before going forward in this article.

We’ve seen the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah and Mary. Zechariah was to be the father of John the Baptist, while Mary was to give birth to Jesus Christ. After nine months of waiting, Elizabeth was about to give birth to John.

When the child arrived, everyone wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But, both Elizabeth and Zechariah were adamant that his name was John. They were determined to walk in obedience to God’s Word to them.

You may remember that Zechariah was told by the angel that he would not be able to talk until the child was born. On the day that the baby was named, he was able to talk again. He immediately started praising God and began to prophesy.

He beautifully proclaimed what was about to take place in Israel. He foretold the ministries of both John the Baptist and Jesus. In today’s post we’ll look at what he said about Christ. It will give us incite into what they were expecting.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”

Luke 1:68

The first thing he talks about is the fact that God is showing up. It has been many years since the Old Testament was closed. There’s been no prophetic ministry since Ezra and Nehemiah’s time. Now God is doing a new thing in Israel.

This verse literally says that God has come and is now doing redemption. He has started the process of paying the price to loose His people from their slavery to sin and death.

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago)…”

Luke 1:69-70

The culmination of Old Testament prophecy was about to come to pass. The picture of a horn was a symbol of strength to these ancient people. So, this talks of the power of God’s salvation.

This word, salvation, is a huge word. It not only means to be saved from sin, but from everything that would hurt us. This includes sickness, poverty, depression, confusion, and a whole host of other things that hinder God’s will for us.

…salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us — to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham:”

Luke 1:71-73

This salvation not only includes the things that come against us. It also protects us from people and spiritual forces of evil that would try to stop us from carrying out God’s plan.

At this point in Israel’s history it may have looked like God’s covenant had failed. The nation had been conquered by the Roman Empire. There was no supernatural ministry. It was a dark time in their lives.

But now, a light was about to break through into their darkness. God was raising up the answer to centuries of prayer and intercession. The Messiah was on His way!

…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Luke 1:74-75

This is probably the most important part of the prophecy. It reveals the purpose of all that God is doing. There’s a reason He’s redeeming, saving, and protecting us. The Lord’s desire is to have a people who can now serve Him without any fear.

We can now walk in holiness and righteousness. We don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to fear God’s wrath. We can look forward to the glory that will be revealed in us.

I can’t imagine what those who heard this message were thinking. Maybe they heard things like this before. Hopefully, faith was being raised up in their hearts. They were given the hope they needed to await the ministry of the Messiah.

Question: How does this apply to us as we await the return of the Messiah?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Only One Judge

Only One Judge

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re talking about the relationship between weak and strong believers.

You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Romans 14:10

This is a review of what Paul was saying. The weak one, who needs a set of rules to follow God, cannot judge others for not using those rules. Then again, the strong ones should not look down on the weaker ones because of their need for these rules.

The bottom line is that Christ is the Judge. We will all stand at the judgment seat of Christ. This is made clear throughout the Scripture.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:10

We will all stand before God for His judgment. But, here’s the good news…it’s God who makes us stand in Christ, if we belong to Him.

This judgment is not to decide whether we’re going to heaven or hell. That was already decided when we bowed our knees to Christ as Lord and Savior.

This particular judgment is for our rewards – or lack thereof. It’s based upon what we did by faith. It’s about how we acted upon the Word we received. Did we listen and obey?

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'”

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

This is an Old Testament quote (Isaiah 45:23-25). But, if you look this verse up, you’ll find an assumption that Paul was making concerning the judgment seat of God.

But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.

Isaiah 45:25

“In the Lord” are the key words in this passage. Praise God! Those of us who are Gentile believers are now grafted into the descendants of Israel.

However, there’s more to the passage in Romans, above, that we need to take note of. It literally says that every one of us will confess the word around ourselves to God. There’s another confession you need to be aware of.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This verse tells us that those in authority must give an account as well. As a pastor, I have to give testimony as to what I’ve seen in the lives of those under my ministry.

You may be surprised at what your authority sees. As a pastor, I can tell you that there are those who I can’t wait to brag about before the Lord. Then, there are others that I hope I’m not asked about.

So, we all have to understand, that part of our rewards are based upon how we related to those God placed in authority over us. To some, that will be a real eye-opener at the judgment seat.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 14:13

Paul brings us to a conclusion. So, now that we know all this, see to it that no one puts one of these two things in his brother’s way. No stumbling block, and no obstacles. In my next post, I’ll look at these two things in more detail.

Question: What do you expect to happen when you stand before the judgment seat?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Serious Warning

A Serious Warning

We’re continuing to look at God’s dealings with the Jews as talked about by Paul in the book of Romans. He’s applying it to the church.

For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

Romans 11:21-22

In my last post, I talked a little about this aspect of God’s character. He’s able to make hard decisions very quickly. It’s important for us to understand how this applies to us.

Too many believers are under the impression that God is supremely soft-hearted. They treat His grace like a welcome mat and live the way they want. But, that’s not who God is.

That’s especially true in the time that we’re living in. We’re getting close to the return of Christ. That means God is starting to clean up His church to be the spotless bride spoken of in Scripture.

Jesus, Himself, talked about this. At one point he gave a parable about the end-times. Listen to how the Lord explains it.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.”

Matthew 13:40-41

Did you hear what the Lord said? He’s not talking about the sinful world. At the end of the age He’ll be weeding His kingdom.

The good news is that the Lord warns us exactly what or who He’ll be weeding out. First, everything that causes sin. This is a Greek word that means to set a trap. That’s those who teach or do things that would cause others to fall and miss God’s best for them.

He will also weed out all those who do evil. Or, literally all those who live without any law – specifically God’s law. I believe He’s talking about godless believers. They believe in God and may even love Him. But, they live as if they don’t.

For hundreds of years, carnal Christians have been mostly allowed to continue as they pleased. But, as we near the end of the age, the Holy Spirit is going to make it impossible to straddle the fence. People are going to have to choose all or nothing when it comes to spiritual matters.

Jesus had more to say about those who cause others to go astray.

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”

Matthew 18:6-7

Again, He’s talking about people in this verse. That’s an important point. I say this because the very next verse in this context is usually misinterpreted and ripped out of its context. As you read it, remember that Jesus is talking about people who cause others to sin.

If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Matthew 18:8-9

The context is people who offend. I believe that Jesus is letting us know His attitude toward the members of His own body.

Think about it. I have caused my eyes to sin on many occasions, but my eye has never caused me to sin. In the body of Christ, however, a single member can cause others to miss the mark.

The Lord want you to know that it doesn’t matter how indispensable you think you are to the kingdom. If you’re offending the body, Jesus Christ is severe and decisive. If that’s you, then take the time to repent and change your direction.

Question: How do people cause others to sin?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Israel – God’s People

Israel – God’s People

I’m continuing my walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. As we start chapter 9, Paul is transitioning to a new subject. It’s like a parenthesis in the letter.

He’s now going to talk about Israel as God’s chosen people. What’s their place in the era of the New Covenant?

I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit — I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

Romans 9:1-4a

Up to this point, Paul is talking about the great work that God is doing in us as believers. As he does so, he starts to reflect on the condition of his own people.

How does the New Covenant affect the nation of Israel? What does it mean to be His chosen people? Throughout his writings, Paul refers to the church as the elect – the chosen. How does that fit in?

The fact is that Paul has a love for his people. He loves them to the point of great sorrow over them. This love is not without reason.

Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Romans 9:4b-5

There is a great heritage that we receive from Israel. They were the first to be adopted as sons of God. That’s clear from Scripture.

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”

Hosea 11:1

They were the first to walk in the glory of God. They were the first to cut covenant with God. They actually received God’s written law.

Remember, from our look at Galatians, that the law is different than the covenants. The law was an addendum to the covenant and was not a new covenant in and of itself.

The people of Israel were the first to establish an organized religious service to God. They were the first to receive the promises of God.

In essence, they’re our fathers in the faith. When Christ took on human flesh, His ancestry is traced from Israel. He is our God.

Based upon this foundation, Paul wants to explain their condition.

It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

Romans 9:6-8

He literally says that the Word of God did not go off course, or fail. Not all who come out of Israel are Israel. What he’s saying is that in God’s eyes, Israel is not merely a genetic group.

Just because they’re related by bloodline, doesn’t make them true children of Abraham. As proof, he offers Isaac and Ishmael.

Paul explains that there are two different types of children. There are the natural children, the children who are born of the flesh. These are not necessarily the children of God.

It’s the children of the promise that are inventoried as Abraham’s true seed. This is the basis for the rest of Paul’s teaching about Israel. As believers, we really need to understand the place of Israel in the scheme of things. That’s especially true now that we’re in the last days before the return of Christ.

Question: How do you view Israel, as God’s people, in these last days?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2021 in Israel, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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