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The Trap of Tradition

The Trap of Tradition

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. Paul is talking about God’s dealings with Israel. They’re still a part of God’s plan, but they enter salvation the same as all people. It must be though faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The history of the Jewish people needs to be a lesson to us. We cannot allow tradition and self-righteousness to short-circuit our walk with God.

What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened…

Romans 11:7

We see from Scripture, that what the nation of Israel as a whole intensely craved and sought for, it did not obtain. But, the few who entered by grace obtained it. These are the people who confessed the Lord Jesus Christ and believed that God raised Him from the dead.

According to Paul, the rest were hardened, literally, petrified – turned into stone. The apostle now quotes some Old Testament prophecies.

…as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.”

Romans 11:8

The Greek word for stupor, in this verse is that prickly feeling you get when a body part falls asleep. It’s numb and you have a hard time using it correctly.

It’s what happens to us spiritually, when we get caught up in religious traditions. We have eyes that don’t see what they should see, and ears that don’t hear what they should hear. God rebuked the Israelites for this on many occasions.

Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them: Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.

Deuteronomy 29:2-4

When I read this, it seems that the Lord is almost being sarcastic with them. It’s like He’s asking them, “Did I really have to give you a supernatural mind to understand what I was doing?” It shouldn’t have taken a seminary degree to see that God wanted to work out His plan in the Jewish people.

But this is not just an Old Testament trap. If we’re not careful, we could fall into the same mindset. Isaiah warns us about it.

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

Isaiah 29:13

It’s unfortunate, but this rebuke could be said of many churches throughout the world today. Many people who call themselves “Christian” are merely following a set of rules that have been laid down for them.

It’s clear from this verse that using religious terminology is not enough. Simply saying, “Of course I love God, I go to church every Sunday” is not enough. We have to bow our knees to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Paul goes on to quote David.

And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”

Romans 11:9-10

The people of Israel got all messed up by what should have helped them. They got tripped up by their traditions. Don’t let that happen to you.

We need to seek intimate relationship with Christ. Spend quality time with the Holy Spirit.

Question: What are your private prayer times like?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Heart for Israel

God’s Heart for Israel

I’m continuing my study through the book of Romans. In my last post, we saw that by opening salvation to the Gentiles, God was hoping to provoke a spiritual jealousy in Israel. Paul now summarizes how this happened.

And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”

But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Romans 10:20-21

This is how God is working His plan. He started by revealing Himself to those not seeking Him. Then, through the faith of the Gentiles, He’s trying to get Israel interested in following Him. Because of this, it turns out that the Gentiles profited by Israel’s rejection of God’s love.

As I started saying in my last post, the Gentile church started rejecting God’s plan in many instances. They started pushing Israel further away. Many taught that Israel was totally rejected by God.

Listen as Paul speaks to this issue.

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

Romans 11:1

Paul asks the question; did God cast away His people? The answer – Absolutely not! Paul uses himself as proof that God is still in the business of calling the Jewish people to Himself.

Paul now takes us to the important issues in God’s dealings with Israel.

God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah — how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Romans 11:2-4

The key words in this passage is that God did not reject His people whom He foreknew. God, in His infinite knowledge, knows beforehand who will turn to Him in faith. There are many of the Jewish people who will look to their Messiah in faith, trusting Him for their salvation.

Paul uses the example of Elijah to make his point. This Old Testament prophet interceded with God against Israel. This occurred right after his victory on Mt. Carmel. His life was threatened by the queen, Jezebel, and he went off and had a pity party.

You can read it in detail in 1 Kings 19:9-14. Even with a revelation of God, Elijah had a one-track mind.

“It’s all their fault. Just be done with them. Destroy them all.”

God’s answer to Elijah is very important. He told the prophet that there were still 7000 people who were faithful to God. The Lord still had a remnant.

Where were they? They obviously weren’t very bold in their service to God. Why weren’t they supporting Elijah while he faced the prophets of Baal single-handedly?

But, that’s not the point. There’s always a front line in this spiritual battle. The fact is that Elijah was not alone in his service to God.

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Romans 11:5-6

For Paul, this is an example of God’s mercy in the present time. There’s a remnant selected by grace and foreknown by the Lord. That’s why as believers, it should be part of our prayers that Israel should turn back to God wholeheartedly as a nation.

Question: What is your prayer for Israel like?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2021 in Faith, Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Holy Jealousy

Holy Jealousy

Continuing through Romans, chapter 10, Paul is getting back to his discussion of Israel. What exactly is their problem. He gets back to asking a series of questions.

But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Romans 10:18

The first question is; did they not hear the message? The obvious answer is, “Yes!” The apostle quotes a verse from Psalms talking about a voice heard throughout the earth. What is this voice?

It’s found in the context of Psalm 19.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4a

This Psalm is talking about the voice of the heavens. The entire earth has heard about God through the testimony of the universe. This is how Paul started his discussion in this book. He talked about the entire world seeing the witness of God’s glory.

since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Romans 1:19-20

This brings us back to the verse in Romans, chapter 10, above. Paul makes it clear that the universe isn’t just a passive witness. He literally says that their rhema – their revelation of God – has gone out to the ends of the earth.

So, Israel heard God’s message to them. Was there another problem?

Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”

Romans 10:19

Maybe they didn’t understand the message they heard. No, that’s not it. Compared to Israel, the Gentile world has no understanding. But that’s the point. God is trying to do two things through the opening of salvation to the gentiles.

First, it says that the Lord wants to make them envious. That word means to stimulate alongside. God was trying to start a spiritual rivalry between Israel and the church.

Now, because of God’s great mercy, Gentiles are pursuing the God of Israel. By bowing their knees to Christ, they’re receiving the blessings of Abraham. This all happened because we’ve learned the lessons of righteousness by faith.

God is trying to provoke Israel to pursue Him in this same way. He wants them to turn in faith to Jesus Christ in order to restore their place in the kingdom of God.

The second thing that the Lord is doing…He wants to make them angry. Remember, anger is not a bad thing. It can be a strong motivating force to get us to do what we need to do. God is trying to work this in Israel.

The problem is that, throughout the centuries, the church has been short-circuiting God’s plan. Instead of seeking to restore Jews into God’s salvation, we’ve shown ridicule, anger, and prejudice against them.

In many instances so-called “Christians” have pushed Israel away from God’s grace. Because of the history of violence against them, many Jews will not even look into who Jesus really was.

The heart of Paul, and the Lord, is to see Israel restored to right relationship with God. Gentile believers need to understand that God still loves Israel and wants them saved. We need to be a part of God’s restorative work.

Question: What’s your view of the Gentile-Jew relationship?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2021 in Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

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What are You Hearing?

What are You Hearing?

We’ve been talking about how the Gospel is sent to the world around us. There have to be Christians submitted to the Lord in order to effectively communicate the message of Christ.

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:16-17

The problem is that not all submit to, obey, heed carefully the good news. Even though the context here is talking about Israel, I believe it could apply to all who hear the Gospel.

Paul concludes that faith only comes through the power of the spirit. That’s what the second half of this passage is talking about. But it assumes that the believer with the message is hearing from God.

The Lord 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.

The enemy knows this. Never have there been more distractions then there is right now.

We seem to have lost sight of the truth of this verse. It literally says, “Faith comes out of hearing and hearing through the rhema of Christ.” As I’ve said before, rhema is the Greek word that speaks of the word we hear with our spirit.

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 then heal the sick. We want formulas – quick, easy ways to walk in the power of the Spirit.

The spiritual authority that we’re looking for starts with hearing from God. Jesus would spend quality time in prayer and didn’t minister until he heard a Word from the Father. People actually flocked to him.

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 conclusion that Paul brings us to. Faith originates, springs from hearing a Word originating in the spirit. Not from reading. Not from speaking. But hearing through the rhema-Word of Christ.

This is where we mess up much of the time. We think that reading Scripture produces faith. NO – it’s a Word from God that produces faith. Please don’t get mad at me for speaking this truth.

We need to relearn that it’s revelation from God that produces faith. It’s not a well thought out argument. Faith springs from hearing through rhema.

This is an important point. That’s why you need God’s approval to share Christ. You have to be submitted enough to hear a Word from Christ. If you’re not listening to the Holy Spirit, then you have no business proclaiming Jesus.

The church needs to get back to an intimacy with the Holy Spirit. We can’t fill our days with every kind of distraction the world offers, and expect to see a move of God.

We are living at a crossroads. The restrictions of the pandemic are starting to come to an end. We’re starting to refill our schedules. Don’t go back to business as usual. Set you heart toward quality time with the Lord.

We don’t know what’s coming down the road. But, if you’re in step with the Holy Spirit, then you’re prepared for whatever may come your way.

Question: What are your scheduling priorities as pandemic restrictions loosen?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Who is Sent?

Who is Sent?

I’m continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In my last post, I ended with some of Paul’s leading questions about the Gospel. The next question is probably the most important of all.

And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10:15

How shall the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be proclaimed unless someone is sent? You might get mad at me for what I’m about to say, but stick with me and see what Scripture says about it.

Many believers have this idea that it’s every Christian’s job to proclaim Christ. Is it? Look at how Paul describes this ministry elsewhere in his writings.

And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle — I am telling the truth, I am not lying — and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

1 Timothy 2:7

Paul uses a word here that’s translated as appointed in English. It actually means to be set in place. It wasn’t something that he just decided to do in passing.

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

This is something that most teachers never touch on. Paul says the he had to be approved to be entrusted with the Gospel. That word means to be examined and tested to see if something is genuine or not.

According to the apostle, he had to be proven genuine before God would trust him to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s the same word as in this next verse.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

I believe that our lack of boldness is directly related to the way we force new Christians to share the Gospel without first being approved by God. We give them canned speeches and Scriptures that they repeat without any passion. It’s no wonder the world ignores that kind of witness.

Look at Paul’s method of evangelism.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

He tells us that his speaking and proclaiming were based in the power of God. I believe that proclaiming Christ has to be directed by the Holy Spirit. If that were always the case; would it make a difference in how the world sees the church?

We need to be sharing the Gospel effectively. I strongly feel that if you’re not submitted to God, then you shouldn’t proclaim Christ. Rogue Christians do more harm than good in their testimonies.

“Come to Christ, then you can be as flaky as me.”

In the above verse from Romans, Paul quotes a passage from Isaiah 52:7. That Scripture speaks of a proclamation that benefits the hearer. It’s not just something the herald feels like sharing.

The fact is, I don’t know all that you’re going through. That’s why I have to rely on the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to guide what I say to you. That will cause you to base your faith on God’s power, and not my intellect.

Question: What did you hear that caused you to put your faith in Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Path of the Gospel

The Path of the Gospel

As we continue on in the book of Romans, Paul is talking about our salvation in Christ. In my last post we looked at the only way to be saved. That is to believe in Christ and confess with your mouth.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:10-13

He makes it clear that if we follow God’s plan, we’ll never be put to shame. But what if we choose another route? What if I try to be good enough to earn a place in God’s kingdom? Then I’m open to humiliation.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jew or a Gentile, there’s still only one name that will bring salvation.

then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:10-12

It used to be a generic God. There are even some today who only want to use that term. But, Scripture is clear that only the name of Jesus Christ must be called upon in order to enter salvation.

Paul now asks a series of questions based upon this.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Romans 10:14

We know that if you call upon the name of Jesus Christ, you’ll be saved. But, how can you call on someone you don’t believe in? So, belief – faith – is the key. Where does that come from? Paul brings us to the next question.

How can they believe if they don’t hear? So hearing is the key to obtaining a saving faith. This can’t simply be an exercise of your ears. You need to hear, understand and apply what you’re hearing.

In order to inspire faith, the Holy Spirit needs to be active during this interaction. It takes an act of God. That’s why prayer for the lost is so important.

Paul then asks; where does the hearing come from? There needs to be a preacher. It’s important to understand that Paul does not use the word, evangelist, in this verse. Instead, he uses the word herald. That’s someone who announces what’s coming.

There needs to be an anointed message. It can’t simply be a memorized speech. It must cause the listener to stop looking at the temporary, and focus on the eternal.

That’s the way to a person’s heart. That’s where the decision to follow Christ will be made. Paul doesn’t say that we make a choice in our head, and pray a canned prayer. It’s about faith being born in our hearts and overflowing from our mouth.

The message of Jesus Christ is the most important one that any person will ever hear. It must be heralded with the passion that it deserves. The message must come from a changed life. Only then will the hearer be transformed by the faith growing inside them.

In my next post, Ill talk about the person who should give this message.

Question: Who first brought you the message of Jesus Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Door to Salvation

The Door to Salvation

In my last post, we saw that true righteousness starts by getting our heart right. It has to do with what’s overflowing from your heart.

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:8-9

It’s clear from this verse, that what you believe and what you do work together to bring salvation into your life. You can’t just believe it. Neither can you only confess it. It has to be your faith and actions working together.

It’s also important to understand what it means to be saved. The saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ is so rich and powerful, yet in many Christian circles we’ve reduced it to only a fraction of God’s desire. There’s a tendency in the evangelical church to use this word in the past tense.

“I’ve been saved. Are you saved?”

“When did you get saved?”

Statements like these relegate our salvation to an event that happened sometime in the past. It was a great thing. It changed my life. But now it’s something I can look back on. This is the furthest thing imaginable for the true definition of our salvation.

The Greek word used for saved in this verse, and elsewhere in our English Bibles, is sozo. It’s a huge word that’s crammed full of meaning.

To enter into sozo means that you’re not only saved, but kept safe and sound, and are rescued from danger and destruction. Also included in that word is the fact that you’re saved from disease, healed, and restored to health. It applies to both the physical and spiritual realms.

The word saved includes the entire scope of everything that Christ paid for on the cross. It contains the answers for our past, present and future. To see it as anything less is an affront to the Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ.

This statement that Paul makes is the only way possible to enter into the salvation of God. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to God apart from His work on the cross. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the only door to our salvation.

In this sense we can look back at the initial work of God’s saving power in our lives. It was the day we heard and understood the Good News. We learned that we were incapable of pleasing a Holy God. Yet, because of the work of Christ, His Son, we could be saved.

We believed the message in our hearts. Then, in an outward response to that faith, we confessed with our mouth that Jesus Christ was Lord.

It doesn’t matter the semantics you used. Whether you say that you received Jesus or prayed the sinner’s prayer. If you bowed your knees to Christ in the above manner, you entered into the salvation of the Lord.

It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from. Your good works or your evil past had no bearing on what God did in you. When you called upon Him, you were saved, and the ongoing process of salvation has begun in your life.

Question: What were the events surrounding your initial salvation experience?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2021 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Who’s in Control?

Who’s in Control?

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s showing the differences between a law of righteousness, and that which comes by faith.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”

Romans 10:5

When it comes to trying to live righteously by keeping the law, the Bible is very clear. The person who does these things will live in them. It’s all about living in the law. James told us that if you keep it all, and miss it on one point, you’ve blown the whole thing (James 2:10).

How does the righteousness by faith describe itself?

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

Romans 10:6-8

Paul starts with what this righteousness doesn’t say. You really need to understand the Greek to get the full scope of what’s being said here.

The first thing we see is that true righteousness is a matter of the heart. What’s your heart saying? There are two parts. Your heart either wants to bring Christ down, or bring Christ up. What does that mean?

Actually, the two Greek words used for bring down and bring up are technical sailing terms. Bring down literally means to moor a ship in the harbor. Bring up means to launch a ship on its voyage.

The bottom line – It’s all about who’s in control. Too often believers act like they’re in control of the Lord. They tell Him to come or go according to their good pleasure. That’s not the God I serve.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Yes, He calls me His friend. But that doesn’t negate the fact that this is still His universe, His plan, His agenda, and His church. I’m the one who needs to get in line with what the Lord desires.

Too often we try to put God into our own little box. We think we have Him all figured out. We know what the Lord should and shouldn’t do. We know who Christ should love, and who He should pour out judgment on.

When we live like that, we’re headed toward frustration. God breaks out of the box every time. Then, we end up looking foolish.

Instead, Paul talks about what true righteousness actually says. This is what the verse says if you take out all of the “don’ts”.

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “…The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

“It” is the righteousness by faith. Scripture makes it clear that the rhema word is near you – in your heart and in your mouth. He also calls it the rhema of faith. Remember that rhema speaks of the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.

We know that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That’s why we must spend quality time with God – praying in the spirit.

As I do that, He puts His rhema in my heart, and then it overflows from my mouth at the right time. The modern church has yet to learn to use this powerful weapon. The early church used it to turn the world upside down.

The rhema of God is a necessity. We can’t fulfill God’s plan without it.

Question: How has God’s rhema Word changed your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Zeal is not Enough

Zeal is not Enough

In our journey through the book of Romans, we now find ourselves in chapter 10. Paul is continuing to explain the place of Israel in God’s plan. However, a lot of what he says can be applied to us. He’s speaking out against self-righteousness.

He starts chapter 10 with a brief summary of what he’s been saying.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2

Here we get a look into Paul’s heart for Israel. Paul’s greatest prayer is for Israel’s salvation. That’s an important statement. The assumption is that they’re not saved. They have no spiritual exemption simply because they’re the physical seed of Abraham.

We need to take that to heart. Our children are not saved simply because they grew up in church. There are some who call themselves “Christian” merely due to the fact that they attended Sunday School throughout their childhood.

That’s not enough. Every individual has to choose to serve Jesus Christ for themselves. I’m a prime example.

I grew up in a Christian home. I was a third generation Italian Pentecostal. From my earliest recollection, I never missed church on a Sunday. My parents even took us to church when we were on vacation!

I knew all the Bible stories. I memorized all the verses I was given. I never rebelled against church. But, that wasn’t enough – I was still not saved.

There came a day when I had to make the decision for myself to serve Jesus Christ. In July of 1966 I was sent to a Christian summer camp. It was called Camp Woodhaven in West Boylston, Massachusetts.

They would have a service every night and a prayer meeting directly after it. We were in the boy’s bunkhouse. I was kneeling next to my bed. My counselor came over to me and asked if I had ever made Jesus the Lord of my life.

He then explained to me God’s plan for salvation. He tailored it to my level. That’s when I said “Yes” to Jesus Christ and my counselor led me in a prayer that forever changed my life.

Even before that day, I was zealous for God. But, as Paul says in the above verse, zeal for God is not enough. I had to know and agree to God’s plan for my life.

That’s also how it is for the Jewish people. They need to recognize and follow God’s truth. What is it that they need to recognize?

Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Romans 10:3-4

They needed to come to an understanding of God’s righteousness. It’s a righteousness that’s by faith in Him. They zealously sought to stand in their own righteousness. While at the same time refusing to put themselves under God’s righteousness.

Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking. The second verse literally says that Christ is the end of the line for the law. The law stops with Christ – He’s the focal point of everything in the Old Testament.

Think of it as a train ride. All who believe get off at this station. The station is righteousness by faith in the finished work of Christ. But, there are some who refuse to leave the train. Among them are the Jews, and some who call themselves Christians.

That’s why we need to constantly be on guard against self-righteous legalism in our lives. It can destroy our walk with God. We need to be aware of God’s work in us – the only way to true righteousness.

Question: How did you choose to follow Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Legalism, The Gospel

 

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Three Choices of Faith

Three Choices of Faith

We’re continuing our study through the book of Romans. At this point, Paul is explaining the place of Israel in the plan of God.

In my last post, we looked at Paul’s quote of a couple of prophecies from the book of Isaiah. He was dealing with Israel’s failure to obtain righteousness.

Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 9:32-33

I said that this passage gives us three choices. I now want to look at these in more detail. We’re told that this righteousness that pleases God must be pursued by faith.

We know from Romans 10:17, that faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ. That’s where Paul is eventually bringing us to. It’s all about hearing and obeying Christ.

It’s interesting to note that Peter also quoted this verse in his writings.

…and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message — which is also what they were destined for.

1 Peter 2:8

Peter tells us that Israel stumbled because they disobeyed the Word. It’s all about hearing and obeying. Jesus Christ gave us a perfect word picture of what’s at stake.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Luke 6:46-49

I said that the passage from Romans gives us three choices. These choices are actually three responses the Word.

Sometimes the Word seems small and insignificant in our eyes. We ignore it and we end up tripping over it. So it stops us and gets our attention.

Sometimes the Word to us seems huge. It would require too much change in our lives. We don’t want to put forth the effort it would require. So, we try to get around it, and end up stepping in the trap and our lives get stuck.

The third choice is the best. We hear the Word, take it to heart, and obey it. We then use it for the foundation of our lives. Now we’re secure in the center of God’s will.

So, in the context of Scripture, Romans chapter 9, is talking about the Word. It’s about hearing from God, then trusting Him, and obeying what He’s spoken to us. This is what the Christian walk is all about.

That’s why I’m so adamant about spending intimate times with the Holy Spirit. Without His guiding voice in our lives, we’re merely drifting on the winds of chance. I want more than that for my life.

Spend the time that it takes to hear His voice. Then keep a watch over it in your heart. Allow the Word of Christ to take root in you and let it become the foundation for all that you do.

Question: What’s the last thing you heard from the Holy Spirit that you need to obey?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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