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Spiritual Infancy

Spiritual Infancy

In my last post we were talking about the difference between spiritual laws and physical laws. Today I want to review a little bit, so we can see the progression through the book of Romans.

Here’s the verse we left off on.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

Romans 7:14

Remember how Paul brought us to this point. In his letter, he started by talking about ungodly sinners with no knowledge of God. He also talked about those who were actively anti-God.

His next subject was religious people. These are the ones who think rules will get you to God.

He then shared about the principles of salvation. He explained how Christ set us free from death, sin, and the law.

At that point, everything he talked about was theoretical and positional. It was all about the finished work of Christ that He accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection.

But now, we’re getting to the important part. How is all of this applied to my life in practice?

Paul starts by talking about how we can offer ourselves as a paid volunteers of sin. We saw that when you offer to work for sin, sin will pay you wages.

In any job you’re selling yourself to the company for your paycheck. We basically say, “I’m yours, I’ll do what you tell me for a price.”

Actually, this wasn’t the normal lifestyle until the industrial age. Until then, most people worked for themselves.

So, we’re now at the point in Romans where Paul is talking about Christians who are working for sin. There’s a Scriptural word for that.

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

The word translated as worldly in this verse is actually the word, carnal or fleshly. It means that they serve God according to the dictates of their flesh.

The apostle equates this with being a spiritual infant. This tells me that every Christian goes through the carnal phase. But the real question is; for how long? The goal should be to get through this infancy as quickly as possible.

We need to understand that this is who he’s talking about at this point in Romans – infant Christians.

And that brings us to, probably, one of the most misunderstood and most misquoted passages of the New Testament. It’s used as excuse for all kinds of sinful lifestyles.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Romans 7:15-20

Christians who want to stay in their infant stage pull this out of context and say, “Look at this! Even Paul didn’t do right. So don’t judge me.”

What they don’t understand is that Paul was talking from the perspective of an infant Christian. This is not supposed to be the normal Christian life.

In my next post, we’ll begin looking at this section of Scripture in great detail. We’ll see exactly what Paul was trying to get across to us.

Question: How have you seen your Christian walk progress through the infant stage?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Producing Fruit

Producing Fruit

In my last post, we started looking at Paul’s example of the marriage. He was using it to explain how Christ set us free from the law, sin, and the world.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

Romans 7:4

This is the verse that we ended with. However, we hadn’t talked about the second half of the verse.

Paul makes it clear that we’ve been set free for a purpose. Now we can be fruitful toward God. Remember, this is in the context of using marriage as the example.

When we’re speaking about marriage, being fruitful is equivalent to having children. Gently put, it’s the seed of the man delivered into the life of the woman. This is another common illustration of Scripture.

Think about what Christ taught in His parable of the sower and the seed.

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Matthew 13:23

Jesus was talking about a person who is receiving the seed of God’s Word. In terms of our discussion, I would say that the good soil is a life that’s lost connection with sin, the law, and the world.

This is in agreement with other verses we’ve been given.

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

Colossians 1:6b

The Good News is the Word of God. Does it immediately bear fruit when you receive it? No, you must receive it and understand God’s grace working through it.

Think about it. Sometimes a group of believers are all attending the same church. They all hear same good news – the Word of God. Yet, in spite of this, only some bear fruit. That’s because they’re missing the grace ingredient.

That brings us to an obvious question; what’s the fruit? Jesus talked about it with His disciples.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

John 15:7-8

For every fruit in the natural, there’s a supernatural expression. Jesus had the ability to either provide money from His purse or the mouth of a fish. He made it clear that He could either buy a meal for 5000 people or break fish and bread to feed them all.

The fact is, as long as we’re content to serve in the natural, we have no need of intimacy with Christ. If we want to see the supernatural work of God through us, that will require the Word of God and His grace in us producing fruit.

That’s the real question. Do I want the glory; or do I want God to receive glory through my life? For God to be praised, I must allow His Word to work through me. I must develop intimacy with the Lord through His Holy Spirit.

Question: What does it take to allow God’s Word to produce fruit in us?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Baptism and Faith

Baptism and Faith

In my last post, we looked at the sin package. Remember. It’s not just evil, but any departure from God’s best. Now we’ll see how we handle sin as we live in Christ.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-3

At the end of chapter 5, Paul wrote that when sin increases, grace increases even more. That could lead to a false conclusion. The apostle brings this argument to light.

If grace increases to cover my sin, then I can continue in sin to get more grace. That’s what some would get from this verse.

As a matter of fact, this is the fear that some have about preaching a message of grace. Some teachers think that if they talk too much about God’s grace then people will use it as a doormat. Play all day in the mud of worldliness and wipe your feet off on God’s grace.

Paul makes it clear, that’s not the purpose of grace. The goal is to live free from sin. Sin is part of the death package, and death is the enemy.

Paul gives us a great truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life.

But, by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?

It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21

The word pledge in the above verse means the asking, desire or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we’re placing a demand on God for a good conscience.

Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.

It’s unfortunate, but there are many believers who look at baptism as purely a tradition of the church. They think that if you want to join the church, then you need to be baptized in water.

Paul explains it.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:3

The original Greek of this verse is very interesting. Paul says that all of us who were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into His death. That sounds like a spiritual work to me. As we continue through this chapter, we’ll see that baptism is a spiritual work of God that we need to attach our faith to.

Question: Were you baptized in water? How was your faith released during your water baptism?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2021 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Sin is Not Your Friend

Sin is Not Your Friend

As we continue our look at the book of Romans, we’re now beginning chapter 6. Here Paul starts to show us what Christ has done for us in regard to our sin nature.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-3

Before we go further in this section, we need a basic understanding of just what sin is. Many have the idea that the words sin and evil are synonymous. That’s simply not the case.

The fact is, you can sin without doing anything considered evil. Let me explain.

The word, sin, in both the Old and the New Testaments is actually a word that means to miss the mark. You were aiming for a certain target, but you failed to hit it.

What we have to realize is that in life there are hundreds of things that fall into this category. Many of them have nothing to do with evil.

By not understanding the nature of what sin is, many have missed out on the blessings that Christ has purchased for them. The fact is that sin is a package deal. When Adam chose to sin, he embraced a package of “missing the mark.”

He chose the way of imperfection. Unfortunately, now that imperfection is passed down throughout all generations since then. We miss God’s best by not understanding what’s included in the sin package.

Anything that misses God’s perfect will for humanity is a part of the sin package. A good rule of thumb to know if it’s in the package, is to ask; was Adam originally created for it?

For instance, a number of years ago I did a series of posts titled Healing 101. In it I talked about God’s provision of healing for His people. One of the important points was the fact that sickness was a part of the package we call the sin nature.

Adam was not created to ever experience sickness. When he embraced the sin package, sickness entered our world. Sickness misses the mark of the health we were created to enjoy. To read this teaching click here.

Another thing Adam was not created for was poverty. God’s will was for Adam to live with his needs perfectly met. When I get the idea that poverty is somehow a virtue, then I’m getting friendly with sin.

Usually we don’t have a problem identifying the evil aspects of sin. It’s the other areas like sickness, poverty, depression, loneliness, etc., that we fail to recognize as missing the mark of God’s perfect will.

I realize that in context Paul is talking about evil sin. But because the Holy Spirit used the generic word, sin, in this verse it can apply to all the forms it takes, not just evil. This verse tells me not to get comfortable with it even though God can give me the grace to cope with it.

I’ve talked to some people with medical conditions who said that they’d decided not to seek God for their healing. They said that God was giving them the grace to work for Him in spite of their sickness.

Paul is saying here, “Shall we continue in sickness so that grace may increase? By no means!” We shouldn’t get comfortable with our sickness even though the Lord’s helping us cope with it.

We can’t get comfortable missing the mark of God’s best, whether it’s evil or not. Sin is not your friend. Attack it with everything God has given you.

Question: Can you think of some other forms of sin that aren’t necessarily evil?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2021 in God's Provision, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Grace is Life

Grace is Life

We’ve been looking at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In my last post, we talked about the battle between life and death.

Paul obviously understood the importance of this principle. He continues to talk about it in the next few verses..

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

Romans 5:18-19

Because of Adam’s sin, everyone is now under the same guilty verdict. Because of that, we deserve the death sentence.

However, because of the work of Christ on the cross, that sentence has been nullified. According to this verse, we now have been given access into a not guilty life through Christ.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19

Paul finds another way to tell us the great things that God has done. Adam caused us all to become sinners. But, by the love of the Lord, His sacrifice has now made us righteous in God’s eyes.

These are wonderful truths that we need to be meditating on. Don’t let the enemy lie to you. Never convince yourself that you’re unworthy of God’s love. Jesus Christ has made you worthy. You can be clothed in His righteousness.

The law was added so that the trespass might increase.

Romans 5:20a

As we continue along this line, we see where the villain of the story comes in. Remember, it’s the law that empowers sin.

I like the way this verse reads in the original Greek. It tells us that the law sneaked in so that the sins would increase. The law is very stealthy. You would think that it’s trying to help you. But instead, it’s trying to trip you up.

In actuality, the law is the word of death that the devil stands upon. The law’s goal is to increase sin and the reign of death.

I’m grateful to God that this isn’t the end of the story.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20b-21

The truth is that where sin abounds, the grace of God super-abounds. Nothing can outperform our Lord. Sin, no matter how great, cannot outdo grace.

Christ won a great victory. So now, just like sin reigned in death, grace now reigns through righteousness, being focused on eternal life.

God’s grace is now carrying out the agenda of life. At the same time, sin is carrying out the agenda of death. It’s up to us to decide who’s reign we want to submit to.

Personally, I want to choose life. But the question becomes; how do I walk in this life that Christ has purchased for me? That’s a good question, and over the next couple of chapters in Romans, Paul deals with that very thing.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now. You won’t want to miss this important teaching.

Question: How have you messed up in trying to follow the law?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Two Gifts

The Two Gifts

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans. Paul has been explaining to us, the reign of death that has taken the earth because of Adam’s sin.

Now he wants us to understand what Christ has done to overcome this.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

Romans 5:15-16

This is an amazing passage of Scripture. However, if we’re going to fully understand it, we need to know a little Greek.

The reason for this, is that there are two different Greek words for gift used in this section. They are charisma and dorema. While they both mean a gift or a present, they have slightly different uses.

The word, dorema, is a gift that I give you with no strings attached. It’s given free and clear. Charisma, on the other hand, is a gift that the giver retains the right to tell you how you’ll use it.

For example, if I give you a fifty dollar bill for your birthday, that’s a dorema. You can do whatever you want with it. If I give you a fifty dollar gift card to Starbucks, that a charisma, because you can only use it where I want you to use it.

Usually in Scripture, when someone gives an offering, it’s dorema because we’re giving with no strings attached. But, when talking about the gifts of God, it’s usually charisma because God is very clear how He wants us to operate in these giftings.

So, this passage is saying that the gift God gives (charisma) is not like what happened because of Adams sin. Now through Christ we can receive God’s grace. It also literally says that the gift (dorema) that overflows to many people is in the grace.

The way the original Greek puts it in the second half is that the one sin gave us the gift (dorema) of judgment. But now, after many sins have been done on the earth, Christ came, and through His obedience, brings us the gift (charisma) of spiritual life.

This is a wonderful truth. Death and judgment was given to the entire world through Adam. But now, as a result of the cross, we can receive everlasting life through the Lord Jesus Christ.

This opens the door to a whole new way for us to live.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17

This is Good News! When I come to Christ I receive God’s grace and the gift (dorema) of righteousness with no strings attached. This gives me a new outlook on life.

Formerly death reigned over everything because of sin. Now, because I’m in Christ, I can reign in life. I don’t have to walk in fear of anything that’s happening around me. I can walk in the authority of Christ as I submit to Him.

Too many believers walk around with bad attitudes. You would think that serving God was the hardest thing they could ever imagine. Their faces usually reflect fear and frustration. That’s not how the Lord wants us to live.

We have to realize that Christ places us over all the situations in our lives. We may not know exactly how things will turn out, but we know that it will be for our best and for God’s glory. What more could we ask for?

Question: How have you experienced the grace of God at work in you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Gifts and Wages

Gifts and Wages

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans.  Paul is using Abraham as an example of the faith that brings righteousness.

Paul explains…

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.  However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Romans 4:4-5

This is something that we need to come to grips with as believers.  We need to understand the difference between wages and gifts.

As Paul says, wages are obligations.  I do some sort of work and the person I do it for is obligated to pay me.  It’s a very simple concept.

However, the blessings of God, righteousness included, are not wages.  They’re gifts of God’s grace.

Wages are earned.  Before I even start, I know exactly how many hours I need to work to make $1000.  Then, if they don’t pay me, I can take legal action and demand my wages.

This is something that was very hard for me to learn.  I remember an incident that happened very early in my marriage.  I’ll try to shorten the story.

After we had been married a few years, the Lord called my wife and I to move from Boston, the area we grew up in, to Baltimore.  There was a ministry there that the Lord was using to train us.

While living down there, we experienced some financial hardships.  At one point, both our cars had broken down and we had no money to fix them.  We had to borrow a car that was not ours, just to get to work each day.

One Sunday, during that time, someone got up at church to give a praise report.  He explained how he had just learned about tithing a few weeks ago.  He then started to tithe 10% each week.

Since then, a few weeks, he had been amazingly blessed.  Someone gave him a car (he already had two).  Someone else decided to give him a huge sum of money.  He exclaimed, “See what tithing does.  Now I’m Faith Man!!”

You have to understand my thought process listening to him.  My parents had taught me to tithe when I was a teenager.  I had been tithing faithfully for my entire life since then.

When you look at the blessings of God as wages, life can get very frustrating.  I got mad at God.  “What gives?  He’s only been tithing a few weeks.  Where’s my blessing?”

I’ve since learned the mature view of God’s New Covenant grace.  The blessings of God are based upon a combination of faith, obedience, and the lessons God is currently teaching me.

Once we understand that the Lord purchased these gifts on the cross, it’s easier to receive them.  I don’t get mad and frustrated looking at what others are doing and receiving.  I can actually rejoice when other people are blessed, even if I need the same thing they just received.

David understood it.

David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

Romans 4:6-8

Righteousness is simply one of the many gifts that God has for His children.  I can’t work for it or earn it.  So, don’t frustrate yourself trying to be good enough.  Let the Holy Spirit do His work in you.

Question: How have you been frustrated trying to earn God’s gifts?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2020 in Encouragement, Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s View of a Sinful World

God’s View of a Sinful World

I’m continuing to go through Paul’s letter to the Roman church.  We’re now about to enter one of the most controversial sections.  I have to be careful in how I explain it.

This passage of Scripture is not controversial because we argue over what it means.  On the contrary, the meaning of the words is very clear.  We argue over whether or not to believe it as God’s Word.

Personally, I choose to believe everything in the Bible as written.  That being said, I also believe that there’s no place in the Christian life for self-righteous hatred, bigotry, or condemnation.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Romans 1:26-27

The first thing to note is what this passage is and is not saying.  Too many Christians grab this verse and run with it to attack others. That’s not the purpose.

We have to remember that everything in Scripture is based in God’s unfailing love.  There’s no one outside of God’s love.

Even in this section I see the grace and patience of the Lord.  There’s a phrase that’s repeated three times – here, in verse 24 (which we looked at in the last post), and in verse 28.  It reads, God gave them over.

That literally means that God surrendered or yielded to their desires.  In other words, God allows us to do what we want to do.  He doesn’t stop us, even if we head in a wrong direction.  He gives us the freedom to choose our own path.

Another issue we need to understand is that sin is about actions and not desire.  In my flesh, I may want to do wrong, but the spiritual battle isn’t over until a final decision is made.

Of course, that brings me to an important point…what exactly is sin?  When people hear that word they immediately think, “Evil”.  But the truth is that sin isn’t always evil or bad.

The literal definition of sin in both the Old and New Testaments is to miss the mark.  God holds up the ideal of the perfect life.  We strive to reach it.  But, when we miss God’s best, even by a little, that’s sin.

The Bible is clear that all sin is the same in God’s eyes.  It all comes with the spiritual death penalty.  There’s no grading on a curve.  A white lie and murder are equal before the Lord.  That’s why we need a Savior who carried all of our sin to the cross.

As human beings we like to assign different values of severity to sin.  We think some are worse than others.  Because of this, we’ll vocally attack some lifestyle choices, while we nurture others.

Case in point – before the pandemic you would have to stand in line to get in a buffet restaurant on a Sunday after church services conclude.  We would happily join someone with a gluttonous lifestyle, as they satisfy that craving.  (I can say that because this is one of my personal battles I’m trying to overcome in my life.)

Finally, we have to realize that we’re all under God’s grace.  There’s no condemnation until the final judgment when Christ returns.

STD’s are not God’s judgment on alternate lifestyles.  Just as heart disease and cancer aren’t God’s judgments on overeaters and smokers.

Yes, as Christians we need to know what actions the Bible labels as sin.  But we also need to walk in the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s what our dark society needs right now.

Question: How do you show Christ’s love to those who are not living by God’s standards?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2020 in Spiritual Walk

 

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Mutual Encouragement

Mutual Encouragement

As we continue in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he introduces his purposes for them.  From the way he writes, it sounds as if they had not received a visit from any of the apostles at this point.  Paul wants to remedy this since he’s called to be an apostle to the Gentiles.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.  I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

Romans 1:11-13

He tells them that he has an intense desire to see them.  It’s not just for a social visit.  He wants to impart to them some grace gifts.

We miss this sometimes in our present church experience.  We sometimes get the idea that it’s every man (or woman) for themselves.  We lose out on the passing of spiritual gifts from one generation to the next.

What gifts are being talked about here?  I believe that Paul is referring to the gifts that he speaks about later in this letter.  I won’t go into detail with them now, but here’s the list.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;  if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:6-8

In chapter one, Paul says that he wants to impart grace gifts to them.  In chapter 12, he says that these gifts come as grace is given to us.  That’s why I believe these gifts are the ones he’s talking about.

What we have to realize is that these are the gifts of sharing.  We’re all given the grace of God, but the Lord doesn’t expect us to keep it to ourselves.

These gifts explain how each of us shares this grace with others.  We all have a unique personality and temperament.  We all share God’s grace differently.  Notice that only one of these gifts involves giving money.

But for now you’ll have to be patient.  I won’t talk about these in detail until I get to chapter 12.

Paul goes on, in the verse from chapter 1, to tell them the main reason for his visit.  He wants to see them established in their faith through mutual encouragement.

That was a big part of Paul’s ministry as an apostle.  Look at how the apostle closes this letter.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past…

Romans 16:25

This is what the letter to the Roman church is all about.  It was inspired by the Holy Spirit to establish us in the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The term, mutual encouragement, literally means to be coached together.  As we learn the principles set forth in this epistle, we can put our faith together and grow into the mature believers we need to be.

That’s my goal with this series of posts.  To show the journey of faith as Paul lays it out for us.

Question: How do you see yourself sharing God’s grace with others?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2020 in Encouragement, Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our First Calling

Our First Calling

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome.  In the introduction of this epistle, he talks about the goal of his writing.

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:6-7

The first thing Paul does is to make it clear who’s doing the calling.  He literally says that they are called by Jesus Christ.  That brings me to an important point.

Most people read Scripture without ever thinking about the words being used, or the order we find them.  For instance, many believers think that the names “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus” are synonymous and interchangeable.

While I agree that they both refer to the same person, it’s also important to understand their differences.  They speak a lot about what the writer is trying to get across to us.

The name, Jesus, speaks of His earthly body, while Christ refers to His eternal divinity.  So when they’re put together an important union is formed.  It’s all about the Lord’s high priestly office.

Usually, the name Jesus Christ is used when the writer is emphasizing something that’s directed from man to God.  The name, Christ Jesus, directs the emphasis from God to man.

In this passage we are called by Jesus Christ.  That tells me that the emphasis is man to God.  Jesus is calling us so that we can approach God through His work in us.

That’s what this letter to the Roman church is all about.  Paul is taking them on a journey from the outskirts of God’s grace to the inner circle of maturity in Christ.

The next two things Paul talks about are applicable to all people.  That’s the fact that they’re all loved by God and they’re all called to be holy (saints).

This is important because God’s calling is based upon His love for us.  God loves everyone and desires all to come into His salvation.  Unfortunately, not everyone accepts His invitation.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the Lord loves them anyway.

Everyone is also called to be holy – set apart to God.  I explained that term a couple of posts back.  The Lord wants everyone to be a part of His household.  That’s because we’ll never truly be satisfied until we discover our true purpose for living in Christ.

That brings us to the final two parts of what the book of Romans is majoring on.  Paul wants to see them operating in the grace and peace of God.

These are two very important aspects of our walk with God.  Grace is the vertical portion.  We look to God by faith in His Word.  The Lord then responds to our faith by pouring out His grace upon us.

Peace is the horizontal aspect of our spiritual life.  There are many believers who don’t understand this concept.  Peace is that open relationship between God’s people.

It also deals with all the blessings God has provided for me.  This includes, but isn’t limited to, healing, provision, encouragement, and protection.  What we don’t understand about this is that all of these blessings come through other people – the horizontal.

If I’m in need of resources and pray to God to supply my need, these things don’t just fall out of the sky.  They come from other people.

So if I build walls between myself and other Christians, I’m cutting myself off from potential supplies.  I’m also destroying my chance of passing on God’s blessings through my life to others.

We’re all called to come near to God.  That’s where we receive the grace and peace needed to fulfill our earthly ministries.

Question: How have you seen God’s grace and peace at work in your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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