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The Marks of an Apostle

As we go through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he’s continuing to deal with their infatuation with these “super-apostles” that travel the region.  These ministers exalt themselves and put down any other ministry that are not a part of their group.

When these “minsters” came to Corinth, they berated Paul’s work.  Yet, even though it was Paul’s ministry that gave birth to this church, they didn’t speak up on his behalf.

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it.  I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.
2 Corinthians 12:11

Paul understands that it’s foolish to exalt yourself.  But, because the Corinthians didn’t speak up for him, he had to remind them of his work in their church.  They should have stood with Paul when these people were slandering his work.

I like Paul’s sarcasm here.  He makes the statement that even though he’s nothing, he’s better than those “super-apostles”.

He goes on to explain.

The things that mark an apostle — signs, wonders and miracles — were done among you with great perseverance.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you?  Forgive me this wrong!
2 Corinthians 12:12-13

If you don’t already know this about me, let me tell you that I believe God never stopped anointing apostles and prophets.  These callings are still available today, to those who are open and listening for the Lord’s voice.

The marks of an apostle are the things Paul lists.  All of them are miraculous works of God through His servants.

Signs are miracles that point to the truth of God’s Word.  They confirm that what God says will stand forever.  Wonders are miracles that cause you to simply stop and stand in awe of God’s power.  Of course, there are also miracles that don’t fall into either of those categories.

We need these ministries today.  The Bible tells us what they’re for.  In Ephesians 4:11-13, we’re told that they mature us.  To my knowledge, these verses aren’t fulfilled yet, so these gifts are still needed.

More than that, apostles are vital to the saving of souls.  Listen closely to what Paul says to the Roman believers.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

The Gospel is more than just spoken.  It involves what we say and do.  My question is; can you fully proclaim the Gospel of Christ without signs, wonders, and the power of the Holy Spirit?

I don’t think so!

Question: Why do so many people try to win the lost with only convincing words?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2020 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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The Bible – Not a Rulebook

As Paul continues to deal with the factions of the Corinthian church, he gets to the main point of his message.  It’s an important point that needs to be heard in our generation.

There are times when people use the Bible as a way to push their own agendas.  We need to be warned how to correctly receive and preach the Word of God.

Actually, it’s a warning from Scripture itself.  Believers are sometimes guilty of using the Bible in ways God never intended.  Hopefully, we can learn from the mistakes of others.

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”  Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
1 Corinthians 4:6

At the beginning of this letter to the Corinthian church, Paul rebukes the people for the many factions that were splitting their fellowship.  He tells them not to go beyond what’s written.  Literally, that means not to over think the Scripture.  Their problem was that they were basing their divisions on the apostles themselves.

“I follow Peter.”  “I follow Paul.”  “I follow Apollos.”

What does that mean?  It’s clear that they were basing their lives upon certain doctrines that each apostle might have emphasized.  Today, most of us realize that different ministers have specialties in their preaching.

Some tend to emphasize faith, some grace, while others are strong in Godly financial issues.  There are also different personalities and teaching or preaching styles.  That’s the way it should be.  Diversity among the ministry gifts is a positive thing.

The Corinthian church was trying to make it an “either or” type of decision.  Instead of receiving the blessing from each teacher’s particular ministry, they followed one certain apostle exclusively.  In essence, they were saying, “I only follow Paul’s rules.”

The Christian walk is not a matter of whose rules I follow.  We’re not to over think what’s written.  God never intended for the church to turn the Bible into a rule book.

Yes, the Old Testament contains many rules.  However, our doctrine must always pass through the cross to filter out the things that don’t apply to us.

If we could please God by following a set of rules, then we wouldn’t need Christ to die for us. The fact is that rules are not enough, no matter how good they are.

Rules and regulations have no power to change the course of someone’s life.  It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can expect to see a difference.

Question: How does our trying to follow rules create more problems for us?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2019 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Church Garden

I’m continuing my series through First Corinthians.  In my last post, we saw that Paul warned against being politically attached to people and personalities.  Instead, we are to be seeking to please the Lord.

Now Paul gives his reasoning for this.

What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

According to this passage, the goal should be growth.  That means both personal growth for the believer and corporate growth for the church.  They are intertwined; you can’t have one without the other.

Also, multiple ministries are needed for growth.  Just one is not enough, no matter how much you like that minister.

As the Senior Pastor of a local church, I was fully aware of this truth.  I would frequently invite guest speakers who I knew had different giftings than my own.  I wanted our church to get all the things needed for growth.

Of course, there were always those who complained about certain ones.

“I’m not partial to his ministry.  I may stay home that week.”

That’s one of the problems in the church.  On the farm, the garden can’t pick and choose who does the work.  It’s obvious that people will love the ones that water more than the ones that identify and pull up the weeds.

All of the ministry gifts are needed if we’re to experience God’s best.  The ones who refuse to sit under certain types of ministries will suffer for it.  Their growth may be stunted…or nonexistent.

On the other side of the coin, each one does his or her job, but we can’t make people grow.  That part of the equation belongs to God.  That’s the same thing that Jesus taught His disciples in a parable.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29

That might be one of the hardest things to learn as a minister of the Gospel.  Nothing I do will bring about the growth of that seed, once it has been planted.  From then on it’s out of my control.  After the planting it’s time to wait – and that can be the hardest part.

Sometimes we want to force them to produce fruit.  We try to convince and coerce.  That’s usually when we start to push them further away.  We need to learn to plant, then step back and let God provide the increase.

The Word of God, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It can’t be stopped, but neither can it be hurried along.  It goes at the pace God has set for it.  One thing is certain; it will produce the harvest that God intended it to bring forth.

We all have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.  Some of us plant the seed and some water it.  None of us can make it grow, that’s God’s department.

Question: Have you ever caused bigger problems by trying to force the Word of God to grow in someone’s life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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On to Maturity

FinishIn my last post, James showed us that our faith has to be approved. We need this if we’re going to grow spiritually. The final piece he talks about is perseverance.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

This goes right along with what Jesus taught His disciples.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

This word, perfect, is the same word mature that James used. This is God’s desire for His people. That we attain to the same level of maturity as Christ.

The unfortunate thing is that many teach that this is impossible. Over and over we’re told that to walk like Jesus is beyond our reach. I don’t buy into this type of reasoning.

When I see the lives of the Apostles in the book of Acts, I don’t get the idea that they’re immature. I see the same signs and wonders that were performed by the Lord. I see thousands of people drawn to, and changed by, the Word of God.

If it was possible for them, then the same is true for us. But we have to be willing to walk the same road they walked to get there.

One of the key ingredients to us reaching this level is the ministry gifts God has given to the body of Christ. In talking about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, Paul said that they were given as gifts to the church. They have a very clear purpose.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12-13

The goal of this five-fold ministry is the maturing of the saints. The level of that maturity is beyond question. It’s so that we would live and minister in the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write these words if it was impossible? We need to stop making excuses, and start working towards the walk of maturity.

Paul understood this aspect of his work as an apostle of Christ.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:28-29

That’s the goal of the ministry. We’re here to present everyone – not just a select few – perfect and mature in Christ. This requires supernatural strength and wisdom.

We cannot hope to perform this on a merely human level. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I need to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this great task.

The belief that this is impossible to achieve in our lifetime only serves to undermine the Lord’s goal for us. We need to recognize where He’s leading us to, and cooperate with the Lord’s program for our development. After all, He’s bringing us on an incredible spiritual journey.

But I want us to see the result of this work. What happens once you reach this mature walk?

In the first verse we looked at, James clearly states, from the Holy Spirit and his experience, that when you walk in maturity you lack nothing. Lacking nothing – that’s what the church is striving for in this generation.

If we’re going to operate at this level, then we need the spiritual walk of maturity.

Question: What would the ministry of a spiritually mature believer look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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