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The Law and the Power of God

PowerlessI’ve posted in the past about the power of God and the power of sin.  How do I know which power I’m using?  When I understood the answer to this, I was shocked.  I always thought that I was as far from legalistic as you could get.  Be prepared, I think that the answer might change your whole outlook as well.

My goal is to answer two questions over the next few posts.  Why does the church seem to have no power?  And what do we need to do to get it back?

When I say this, I’m comparing us to what I read in the book of Acts.  I’m also thinking about the stories I heard from my grandparent’s generation.  They came to the Lord in the wake of the Azuza Street revival.  When they were saved they saw miracles, healings, signs, and wonders.  What has happened to us since then?

You may think as I did, “I’m not legalistic.”  But do we even know what legalism looks like?  Let’s find out what the New Testament has to say about it.

You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
Galatians 3:1-2

The word translated foolish in the above verse literally means not thinking.  Paul is asking these Galatian Christians why they are not thinking about what they’re doing.

The next line he writes literally means, who has fascinated you by false representations?  It’s obvious from the way he writes that these believers were not being convinced by the truth, but rather a clever counterfeit.  Paul reminds them of the fact that they first believed Jesus Christ was crucified for them.

He then asks a simple question – how did you receive the Spirit?  The implied answer is that the Spirit was received by faith, trusting in God to do the work.

Paul was re-emphasizing to them that the law can’t save anyone.  The law only condemns.  Paul, however, continues along this line with another question and we have all but ignored its implications.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

What most people don’t realize is that the word translated miracles in the New Testament is the Greek word dunamisPOWER.  Usually it is just the context that the translators use to decide whether to use miracle or power as the English word.

The question Paul asks is fundamental to our understanding of the power of God.  How does God give His Spirit and work power in the church?  Obviously, the answer is by faith.

Question: Why does following the law never lead to the power of God?

© Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Faith, Legalism, Power of God

 

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How God Confirms His Word

LightningI’ve been posting for a while on the Word of God and its relation to Scripture.  In my last post I showed that the power of the early church was based upon their hearing from God.  God spoke to them, they obeyed, and God confirmed His Word.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:20

Scripture says that the Lord confirms His Word with the signs – healings and miracles – that accompanied it.  What’s our problem?  Do we serve a different God?  Of course not.  Is He still on the throne?  That’s a dumb question.

We serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Then what’s the problem?  It should be clear to us.  We’re trying to get God to confirm the Bible verses that we’re preaching, when all along He wants to confirm the Word that He speaks to us.

He never told us to go out and read the Scripture to people for them to be saved – He tells us to proclaim His Word.  I submit to you that our society has heard enough Scripture – it’s everywhere.

They’re sick of hearing Scripture.  Many unbelievers can quote as much of the Bible as some Christians.  What the world is desperate for is a Word from God.  That’s what’s going to change their lives.  They can argue with the Scripture, but the Word of God will cut straight to their heart.

In our exuberance over the enormous availability of Scripture, we have taken it too far.  It doesn’t seem to matter what anyone says.  As long as there’s a Scripture verse attached to it, we call it the Word of God.

It doesn’t take much listening to Christian radio or cable channels to see that many preachers are using Scripture to support their own teachings and philosophies.  Hear me well.  They may be preaching Scripture, but they are NOT proclaiming the Word of God.

In these cases, God is under no obligation to confirm what they’re preaching.  God doesn’t have to confirm a quote from the Scripture; He only endorses His Word – what He wants said at that particular time and place.

Please don’t think, based upon what I said, that I have no respect for the Scripture.  I cannot live without it.  Daily, I read, memorize, study, and meditate on the Scripture.  I use it prayerfully.  I expect and seek God to speak to me through the pages of my Bible.

The difference is that now I’m also listening for God to use other means as well.  I want to hear God’s voice – however He wants to speak to me.  I believe that this was the basis for the power in the life of Christ and in the early church.  One of my goals in this blog is to share how this works in a practical way.

Question: Is it your desire to hear a Word from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Is there ever too much Scripture?

BiblesIn my last post I talked about the tendency of our generation to replace time with the Lord by studying Scripture.  I think that part of our problem is that we’ve become spoiled by an abundance of the availability of Scripture.

Bibles are everywhere.  I personally have about 20 Bibles.  That doesn’t even take into consideration all of the Bibles I have access to online.

Please understand what I’m saying.  This proliferation of Scripture is a great thing.  The availability and accessibility of the Bible to all people is a wonderful blessing.

You would think that with so much Scripture around, there would be more salvations, healings, and miracles.  Instead, what we see is a greater rise of worldliness – even among God’s people.

The problem is not that we need more Scripture.  We need more of the Word of God.  The more I hear from God, the more power I have to live for God.

The early church exemplified this.  Think about it.  How did they live?  When persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem, the believers fled in all directions.

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Acts 8:4

Here’s the foundation for their power.  The Bible says that when they scattered, they preached the Word.  How do you see this in your mind’s eye?  What did they do, specifically?

Do you picture them walking into town, calling a meeting, and then saying, “Turn with me in your Bibles to John 3:16.”?  That’s how we do it; but did they preach that way?

If you know your history, then you understand that nothing could be further from the truth.  When this verse was written about them they had no Bibles.  They couldn’t preach Scripture.

“Wait a minute, Pastor Nick, they had the Old Testament.  They could use that to preach.”

First of all, most Christians of that day only knew a smattering of Old Testament Scripture.  Secondly, they would have no access to an Old Testament “Bible”.

The Scripture was written on scrolls with painstaking detail.  In order to afford a copy of the Scriptures you would need to be the equivalent of a multi-millionaire.  Then if you did purchase it, you would need a storage space the size of a small living room to house it.  Let’s face it, the normal Christian, on the run, had no access to a Bible.

Yet, we’re told that they “preached the Word” wherever they went.  What is the Word that they preached?  The answer is simple – they preached what they received in their intimate times with the Lord.  As they did, an amazing thing happened.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:20

Question: Is a lack of “signs” because God is no longer confirming, or because the church no longer preaching the Word?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Word of God

 

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