RSS

Tag Archives: salvation

The Burden Remover

The Burden Remover

In my last post, I started looking at a conversation that Jesus had with a Pharisee who invited Him for a dinner. The Pharisee was surprised that Jesus didn’t observe the traditional washing ceremony before the meal.

The Lord took the opportunity to explain to this religious leader the difference between the inside and the outside. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

Now Jesus continues with this discussion.

Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”

Luke 11:43-44 NIV

Again, the Lord brings up another area where these leaders choose appearance over substance. They are very people conscious. They’re always looking for the approval of those around them.

It’s a lot like our present political system. It’s not about what you know as much as who you know, and what they think of you.

Even with the Pharisees, it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong. That usually didn’t figure into it. They wanted to express the opinion that most of the “important people” would agree with.

That’s why Jesus had a problem with this group. He looked at them like they were unmarked graves. In walking through the area, it may look like a beautiful field full of wildflowers. But people don’t know that right under their feet were dead bodies.

These religious leaders looked great on the surface. They made a public spectacle of their praying, tithing, fasting, and sometimes even giving to the poor. The problem was that their motives were anything but pure.

They wanted to look good in the eyes of the people. They may have looked good on the outside, but as far as God was concerned, they were dead inside.

In saying this, Jesus got a reaction from one of the listeners.

One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”

Luke 11:45 NIV

One of the teachers of the law got upset at what the Lord said. Of course, he proved the advice that sometimes you should just be quiet and take it! The Lord now turns His attention to these teachers.

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

Luke 11:46 NIV

These religious “lawyers” were another level of the problem. They were experts in the letter of the law. Most of it was traditions added to the law by various Rabbis over the years.

They would teach people what the law said. They gave Israel all of the do’s and don’ts of the law. Most of the time they were rebuking the people for any minor infraction that they were caught doing.

Instead, they should have been teaching about why the law was important. They should have been teaching the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God. But, in their zeal to be seen as experts, they represented God as merely a bringer of death and judgment.

It’s unfortunate that there are many Christians who do the same thing. They make up all of these rules that you need to follow in order to “make it to Heaven.” One of them even told me flat out, they believed it was easier to get saved than to stay saved.

That doesn’t sound like the God I serve.

“I’ll make it easy for you to be saved through Jesus Christ. But, at the first misstep, I’ll send you to hell.”

The fact is, when we bow our knee to Christ, His blood covers our sin, past, present, and future. I know that there are people who twist this truth so they can live however they want. We need to realize that Jesus Christ is the burden remover. I praise God for His great salvation!

Question: What burdens has the Lord removed from your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 22, 2022 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Messiah is Coming!

Messiah is Coming!

Continuing through the Gospel of Luke, today’s post will talk about Luke 1:61-75. You may want to read this passage before going forward in this article.

We’ve seen the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah and Mary. Zechariah was to be the father of John the Baptist, while Mary was to give birth to Jesus Christ. After nine months of waiting, Elizabeth was about to give birth to John.

When the child arrived, everyone wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But, both Elizabeth and Zechariah were adamant that his name was John. They were determined to walk in obedience to God’s Word to them.

You may remember that Zechariah was told by the angel that he would not be able to talk until the child was born. On the day that the baby was named, he was able to talk again. He immediately started praising God and began to prophesy.

He beautifully proclaimed what was about to take place in Israel. He foretold the ministries of both John the Baptist and Jesus. In today’s post we’ll look at what he said about Christ. It will give us incite into what they were expecting.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”

Luke 1:68

The first thing he talks about is the fact that God is showing up. It has been many years since the Old Testament was closed. There’s been no prophetic ministry since Ezra and Nehemiah’s time. Now God is doing a new thing in Israel.

This verse literally says that God has come and is now doing redemption. He has started the process of paying the price to loose His people from their slavery to sin and death.

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago)…”

Luke 1:69-70

The culmination of Old Testament prophecy was about to come to pass. The picture of a horn was a symbol of strength to these ancient people. So, this talks of the power of God’s salvation.

This word, salvation, is a huge word. It not only means to be saved from sin, but from everything that would hurt us. This includes sickness, poverty, depression, confusion, and a whole host of other things that hinder God’s will for us.

…salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us — to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham:”

Luke 1:71-73

This salvation not only includes the things that come against us. It also protects us from people and spiritual forces of evil that would try to stop us from carrying out God’s plan.

At this point in Israel’s history it may have looked like God’s covenant had failed. The nation had been conquered by the Roman Empire. There was no supernatural ministry. It was a dark time in their lives.

But now, a light was about to break through into their darkness. God was raising up the answer to centuries of prayer and intercession. The Messiah was on His way!

…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Luke 1:74-75

This is probably the most important part of the prophecy. It reveals the purpose of all that God is doing. There’s a reason He’s redeeming, saving, and protecting us. The Lord’s desire is to have a people who can now serve Him without any fear.

We can now walk in holiness and righteousness. We don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to fear God’s wrath. We can look forward to the glory that will be revealed in us.

I can’t imagine what those who heard this message were thinking. Maybe they heard things like this before. Hopefully, faith was being raised up in their hearts. They were given the hope they needed to await the ministry of the Messiah.

Question: How does this apply to us as we await the return of the Messiah?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 26, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Let Praise Arise

Let Praise Arise

As we continue through the book of Romans, Paul is wrapping up his thoughts. He’s talking about the work that Christ had to do for us.

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:”Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.”

Romans 15:8-9

The word, Jews, in this verse is literally the word, circumcision. This means that Christ became a servant of the covenant law on behalf of the truth. According to Paul, He did this for two reasons.

The first was to establishstabilize, confirm – the promises made to the patriarchs. He had to come under the law in order to fulfill the law. That’s because the Law of Moses was an addendum to the covenant of Abraham.

It needed to be completed and abolished. In this way only the promises and covenant of the patriarchs remain.

The second reason Christ did this was so that Gentiles will glorify God because of His mercy. Now those who were not physical members of the Hebrew family can join them under the covenant.

Then he quotes Psalm 18. This is a victory psalm of David when he beat the Philistines. It speaks of the victory of God’s anointed king in the line of David. Now, because of this work, we are His descendants.

Again, it says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

Romans 15:10

This is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:43. Why would the Gentiles rejoice with His people? The Gentiles can praise God because they were included in the atonement.

And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples.”

Romans 15:11

Here he quotes from Psalm 117, calling the nations to praise God for what He does in Israel. Through Israel, the entire world is blessed with salvation.

And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”

Romans 15:12

Here, Paul is actually paraphrasing Isaiah.

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.

Isaiah 11:10

Paul explains that Messiah will arise and rule over all people. Many will bow before Him willingly and put their hope, their expectation in Him.

Knowing that he’s writing to a mostly Gentile church in Rome, Paul now gives his final desire for these Gentile believers.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

This is Paul’s prayer for the Gentile churches. He calls upon the God of our expectation. He wants the Lord to fill you with joy and peace.

There is joy and peace that comes from expectancy. In human terms, we’re sometimes disappointed by those we place our expectancy in. But, in Christ, these qualities can overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: What aspects of your salvation causes you to praise God the most?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 27, 2021 in Spiritual Walk, The Church, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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

 
2 Comments

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Early Church – Holy Dough

The Early Church – Holy Dough

We’re continuing to look at the relationship of Israel to the church. Paul is explaining it in the book of Romans. He gives us his perspective.

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Romans 11:15

He literally tells us that their rejection caused the world system to be restored. Since that was the case, then their readmission into God’s kingdom will be life from the dead. So it’s obvious that Paul considers the nation of Israel, without Christ, spiritually dead.

The apostle now give us an illustration.

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

He uses a lump of dough as an example. He tells us that because the firstfruits are holy, set apart to God, everything else you make from the crop is holy. In talking about firstfruits, it’s possible that he’s referring back to James.

James wrote his book long before Paul wrote Romans. James wrote his epistle to the saved Jews all over the world.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James 1:18

At the birth of Christianity, James calls them the firstfruits of God’s created systems of order. He wrote this without even knowing that Gentiles would someday enter the mix. But the salvation of the Gentiles had its beginnings in saved Israel.

Originally, Israel was set apart as holy to God. After the resurrection of Christ, a remnant remained true to the Lord. These original Jewish believers accepted the Good News by faith in Christ.

I believe that these are the firstfruits both James and Paul are referring to. Then the Gentiles are mixed into the batch of holy dough. However, there’s more to this example.

When giving bread as an offering, leaven was allowed in firstfruits and tithes. Then they would hold back a little to leaven the next batch. It wasn’t like now where yeast is its own thing.

In those days it was fermented dough that was added to the new batch. We must ask then; what is the Kingdom of God about?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

Romans 14:17

Look at what Paul said earlier about firstfruits.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:23

Jesus also said something along those lines.

Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Luke 13:20-21

Yeast, in this context, is the old dough from the firstfruits that’s now fermented. We can look at the large amount of flour as the Gentiles. Now the Holy Spirit has penetrated all peoples. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit can flow to all races, generations, and peoples.

The fact is that there would be no chance at salvation for the Gentiles without the Jewish nation. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their part in keeping the Word of God pure.

Question: What’s our part in the plan of God towards Israel?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 5, 2021 in Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Path of the Gospel

The Path of the Gospel

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

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

Romans 10:10-13

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

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

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

Acts 4:10-12

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

Paul now asks a series of questions based upon this.

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

Romans 10:14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Door to Salvation

The Door to Salvation

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

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

Romans 10:8-9

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

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

“I’ve been saved. Are you saved?”

“When did you get saved?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Zeal is not Enough

Zeal is not Enough

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

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

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

Romans 10:1-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 10:3-4

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

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

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

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

Question: How did you choose to follow Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Call to Everyone

The Call to Everyone

We’re continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s talking about Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and the calling of the Gentiles.

As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'”

Romans 9:25-26

Here Paul quotes a prophecy from Hosea (Hosea 2:23, 1:10). In context it’s about Israel being called to repentance. At that time, Israel joined with the Gentiles in their unbelief and caused judgment upon themselves.

Now, this same spirit of unbelief opened the call of salvation to us as Gentiles. Because, as Paul said, not all “Israel” is true Israel. The call to “not my people” can apply to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. We can all go from “not His people” to sons of the living God.

That’s the journey that Romans, chapters 1-8, was all about. It’s the path to mature sonship in Christ.

At this point the path is the same for Jew and Gentile. It must be through faith in Christ. There are no special exemptions for the Jew. Actually, that’s why the book of Hebrews was written.

At that point many Jews were being saved. They came under intense persecution for following Christ. As a result, many wanted to go back to the old way under the law of Moses. Hebrews was written to let them know that there was no going back.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

Hebrews 10:15-18

The call to sonship in Christ is for all, both Jew and Gentile alike. Now we turn to the prophet, Isaiah.

Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

Romans 9:27-28

Here the prophet is clearly speaking to Israel. In this quote there are some interesting things. First of all, the Old Testament verse (Isaiah 10:22-23) says they will turn around. Paul quotes the verse by saying they will be saved. (Actually, I’ve found many times where Paul quotes an Old Testament verse with a New Testament twist.)

But the real question before us is; what is true Israel. He said that Israel would be like the sand of the sea, but only a remnant saved. Right now you can find Jews in every part of the world. Yet how many are saved?

Some teach that they go to heaven simply because they’re Jews. That’s not what Paul, or the writer of Hebrews preached.

Verse 28 is the key. It’s not really a part of the Isaiah verse. I believe that it’s Paul’s comment on the subject. It literally says that the Lord will fulfill this word with a short cut.

How did He do that? The short cut is through Jesus Christ. Salvation through the Messiah, Jesus is much easier than the Old Testament law of Moses.

Through Jesus Christ, both Jews and Gentiles have been given a great gift. We have the ability to be saved simply by believing that Jesus is the Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior.

Question: How did you hear about the grace of God in Christ Jesus?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 4, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,