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Being a Blessing

Being a Blessing

As we go through this last section of Romans, there are some tough exhortations. But remember, this part of Romans assumes that you’ve applied chapters 8-10. This gives you the ability for what’s ahead.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Romans 12:14

The teaching here goes against our very human nature. This is impossible to do apart from the strength of the Holy Spirit.

This is more than just ignoring those who persecute you or putting up with them. The word, bless, means to speak well of them. To do that, requires us to see through God’s eyes. We need to see what they could become in Christ.

In this verse, Paul even repeats himself with emphasis. He tells us to bless them and don’t curse them – literally, don’t speak doom over them.

To accomplish this requires quality time with the Holy Spirit.

Another thing we must learn, according to Paul, is identification.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Romans 12:15

We must learn to be happy in the midst of happiness and mournful in the midst of mourning. So often we miss this characteristic of Christ.

Jesus sent out 72 of His followers to do what He was doing. They got amazing results.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Luke 10:17

They returned full of joy. What was Jesus’ reaction?

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

Luke 10:18-21

The phrase, full of joy, literally means to jump and dance around with joy. I can picture the Lord giving them all high-fives as they arrived.

Then again, when Lazarus died…

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

John 11:33-36

The fact is that Jesus didn’t need to weep. The Lord knew that He was going to call Lazarus back to life. But, He identified with those who were in mourning.

When we identify with others, it shows them that we care about what they’re going through – either good or bad. Many times that will open their hearts to allow us to speak the truth of the Word into their lives.

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23

We need to follow Paul’s example.

Question: How have you been a blessing to someone else recently?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2021 in Ministry, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Wrapped in Zeal

Wrapped in Zeal

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. Paul is showing us how to live our best life as part of Christ’s body.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

In my last post we talked about having sincere love for others. But, right on the heels of that, Paul tells us that we need to be zealous for the Lord.

Zeal itself is a very strong emotion. It’s when you desire to possess some quality or possession of the one you’re zealous for. It’s actually the same as jealousy – only it’s the positive side of that quality.

But, I’m talking about being zealous toward Christ. This is a passionate, consuming zeal that’s focused on the Lord. It drives us toward the accomplishment of His will and the maintaining of His honor.

All of this is done in the face of whatever’s happening in the world around us. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in the middle of good or bad circumstances.

We’ve all heard of the armor of God in Ephesians, chapter 6. Many people talk about the need to put on this holy armor. But do you know that there’s one more piece of clothing available to us that covers it all?

Paul the Apostle was a Bible scholar. He knew the Scripture better than most others of his day. What we fail to realize, is that he didn’t come up with the teaching of the armor of God on his own. It was actually from the book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah, chapter 59, we see God Himself putting on the armor – at least the helmet and breastplate. This is His personal armor – it was made to fit Him. That’s why I need to abide in Christ for it to fit me. But that’s another teaching…

I want to talk about something else that Isaiah saw as the Lord was preparing for the spiritual battle.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:17

The reason that Isaiah could only see the breastplate and helmet was because God put on some clothes over the suit of armor. Did you know that one of these is available to us today?

It’s not the garments of vengeance. We know from Scripture that vengeance is His alone.

I believe that part of our problems stem from the fact that we want the armor but still fail to fully clothe ourselves. It’s the zeal of the Lord that covers it all. That’s one of the things that the church is lacking in this generation.

That’s why zeal is one of the first things that Paul talks about for the mature believer. It’s the cloak that should cover all that we do for Christ. He answers the question; when should we be seen without the cloak? NEVER!!

Zeal is actually our passion for the Lord on display for all to see. Of course, Christ must be the focus of our zeal. We need to get emotional about our God. We need to stir it up.

That’s what warriors do before a battle. They would hold council the night before they met the enemy. They’d tell stories of former victories, sing, chant victory slogans, and raise the war cry. All of this was to stir up the emotion of zeal.

In the spiritual struggles we face, there’s no difference in the way we achieve victory. God wants us to put on His zeal before we enter the heat of battle. We must take up this attitude: “I live for the honor of Christ!”

That’s why we should be running daily into the Lord’s presence. As we sing, worship, read and confess the Scripture, and pray in the spirit, we’re stirring ourselves up. There’s no better preparation for the battles ahead.

Question: How often do you get emotional about the Lord?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Life Patterns

Life Patterns

Have you ever bought furniture that you’ve had to assemble by yourself? I have and I even enjoy it a little.

But, I know people who hate putting things together. They say that they can never understand the directions.

The fact is that all of these things come with detailed instructions. If you can understand them AND if you follow them – step by step – you’ll end up with a beautiful piece of furniture.

I’ve also known people who ignore the instructions. They go right to work assembling things based upon the picture on the box. More often than not they end up in trouble.

So why am I talking about furniture? Because it actually has a lot to do with our Christian walk.

As we continue our study through the book of Romans, Paul is reviewing his teaching on the walk of righteousness. He wants us to know that to get the right results, we need to do it God’s way. That’s the only way to a life that’s well-pleasing to the Lord.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Paul tells his readers in this letter not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world. In many instances, life is all about conforming to a pattern. The world has a pattern of living.

There are socially accepted ways of putting your life together. As we grow and mature, we learn and incorporate these patterns into our lives. At some point we’re seen as an accepted member of the culture we’re a part of.

The challenge arises when we come to Christ. When Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior, we enter a new Kingdom. We are now part of a new culture; a new society. There must, therefore, be a new pattern to shape our lives around.

The unfortunate thing is that many believers try to serve Christ while living according to this world’s pattern. When that happens, we have a life where we see the promises God holds out to us. Yet, we never seem to lay hold of the realities. It’s a very frustrating way to live.

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:13

It all has to do with our teaching. In the modern church we tend to do more teaching on doctrines than on patterns of living. What we end up with are believers who know the teachings of Christ and the apostles, yet never experience the true culture of Christ.

That’s why Paul deals with the practicalities of the Christian life. In the first eight chapters, he tells us how to live according to the spirit. He also shows us why it’s so important to live that way.

In this chapter he’s preparing to show us what this kind of life looks like. The problem is that many believers try to do what Paul talks about in this section, without first building the pattern of a spiritual walk. That only bring frustration and failure.

We need the spiritual transformation process if we’re going to see God’s will accomplished in us. As I’ve said before, prayer in the spirit has a huge role to play in renewing and transforming our thinking.

Question: What do you think are the differences between the pattern of the world and the pattern of Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2021 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Israel and the Gospel

Israel and the Gospel

We’re continuing our walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In my last post, we saw how Paul prophesied Israel’s ultimate return to God. He said that all Israel would be saved.

The question is, what does he mean by all Israel. Is the apostle talking about ethnic Israel or true Israel. Will the nation of Israel be restored to faith in the last days?

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Romans 11:28-29

Paul tells us that as far as the Gospel is concerned, the Jews are hostile non-participants. But, as far a selection goes, they’re loved because of the patriarchs. Some teachers use this verse to say that all Jews go to heaven simply because they’re Jews. Is that what Paul’s saying?

What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.

Romans 3:9

At the beginning of Romans Paul already made the point that both Jews and Gentiles need to be saved through Christ. However, there’s a special bond with the Lord, which is why the nation of Israel will not be destroyed.

They will always be given the chance for salvation. They will always be protected, just like those with praying parents or grandparents. Because of all the intercessions that have gone up for Israel, they will always be drawn by the Holy Spirit.

According to this passage, there are two things that cannot be turned away from. In context, he’s talking about Israel, but this spiritual principle applies to us as well.

The first is the gifts of God. The Greek word he uses here is charismata. This is an endowed gift from God that He retains authority over. It’s the same word used in the gifts of the Spirit.

That’s actually why we’re shocked when we hear what some of the “spiritual giants” have done. How could they have operated in the power of God, all the while participating in secret sins?

The other thing that God never revokes is His callings – literally, the invitations of God. Once God has invited you to do something, it always stands whether you accomplish it or not.

In Abraham, Israel was called to bring salvation to the earth. So they’re still on hold as God waits for them.

Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.

Romans 11:30-31

Paul tells us that in the past it was the Gentiles who were “Unbelievers.” Now we have obtained mercy (sonship by faith) and the Jews are unbelievers. But, because of the grace active in you, they can be brought to repentance.

So it’s because the Gentiles picked up the torch of salvation that Israel now has hope. They can be saved because the Gospel has not been lost.

For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Romans 11:32

God has bound all unbelievers together, both Jew and Gentile, so that now, whosoever will can enter His salvation. He’s calling all people to sonship in Christ.

That’s why living and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so important. We’ve been entrusted with the Good News. We can’t be selfish with it.

There’s a world of people around us who desperately need this message. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit when He prompts you to give your testimony. Pass on this wonderful gift.

Question: How many people have you shared your story with?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Israel Restored

Israel Restored

As we go through the book of Romans, Paul has been talking about the spiritual condition of Israel. He tells us that many had refused the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ. Because of that, these persons lost their place in God’s kingdom.

But, there’s a remnant of Jews who have chosen to follow the Messiah. It’s Paul’s desire that Israel as a nation turns to Christ.

And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Romans 11:23-24

According to Paul, Israel’s unbelief is not a permanent condition. If they come to faith in Christ, God can re-graft them into the tree.

As Gentiles, our very nature was wild. Yet, in Christ, God could graft us into His kingdom. How much more could God bring back those who were a part of the “founding family.”

A Jew coming to Christ has a background of knowledge that the Holy Spirit can draw on. Their eyes can be opened to the truth. They start further along than some Gentiles who have to start from scratch.

Paul now gives us a prophetic look at the future of Israel.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:25-27

We need to understand what the apostle is saying here. In Scripture, the word, mystery, means something hidden until the time it happens. It’s just like the start of the church. No one saw it coming until Christ rose from the dead.

Paul doesn’t want us to be ignorant of the mystery concerning Israel. He doesn’t want us to become conceited, thinking the church is just a Gentile thing.

What’s happening in the spirit, is there’s a part of Israel that has experienced a hardening. But, it’s only temporary, until the number Gentiles is complete.

Jesus said the same thing concerning the nation of Israel.

They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Luke 21:24

Paul and Jesus use almost the same words – times of Gentiles filled up vs. Gentiles coming in filled up. The times seem to be fulfilled at this point, since Israel has once again become a nation.

The mystery is that all Israel shall be saved. Then he quotes Isaiah who says that the Deliverer will turn away “worshiplessness” from Jacob. It’s a new covenant when their sins are removed. But we know that can only be done by faith in Christ.

Here’s how Jeremiah puts it.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Jeremiah 31:33

This is a great description of righteousness as Paul has been teaching it throughout the book of Romans. This is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why we, as believers, must be constantly praying for Israel’s salvation. That their eyes would be opened to the truth of Christ.

Question: How often do you pray for the spiritual restoration of Israel?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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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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Christ – The Holy Root

Christ – The Holy Root

In my last post, we looked at Paul’s illustration using bread and the firstfruits. He’s talking about the nation of Israel as a part of God’s plan. In this post we’ll look at his next example.

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Romans 11:16

Now Paul will use roots and branches to give a more detailed illustration. He tells us that if the root is set apart as holy, then the rest of the plant is holy also.

It’s clear that the most important part of the plant is the root. That’s where the life is. So, Paul is talking about a holy root.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Revelation 22:16

There’s no way around it; Jesus Christ is the holy Root. That’s why we need His life. This is an important concept. The Lord explained it to His disciples in the parable of the farmer planting his seed.

I believe that the NKJV brings this truth out in the best way.

These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. (NKJV)

Mark 4:16-17

This statement of Jesus explains what Paul is talking about in the book of Romans. We can see that Israel is a self-righteous people. The key is that they have no root in themselves.

It’s like building your house on the sand. We need a root to give us life and keep us from falling. So, a holy root makes holy branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

Romans 11:17-18

Paul tells us that some branches were broken off and wild branches were grafted in. The wild branches speak of the Gentiles who receive Christ. We’re now a co-participants of the root. According to the apostle, we now share in the richness of the olive tree.

This goes right along with what Christ taught His disciples…and us.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

John 15:5-7

What matters is the life of the root and the richness of the tree. I’m not better than any other branch. There’s nothing I can boast about. It’s the root that sustains my life.

That’s why we have to watch our attitudes. We don’t keep the root alive – the root keeps us alive.

It’s so important that we keep ourselves connected to the root. When we try to go off on our own, we’re headed for failure. We must remain in Christ.

That means maintaining a healthy relationship with the Holy Spirit. Time in prayer allows us to receive the life-giving support of the root. Please don’t lose sight of this fundamental truth.

Question: How have you received strength and support through your time with the Holy Spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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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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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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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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