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Judge for Yourself

Judge for Yourself

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now looking at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. That’s the ruling body of elders in Israel.

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 22:66-71 NIV

This is quite an applicable portion of Scripture. It contains what I call the “Jesus Dilemma”. It was faced by the religious leaders of Israel as well as the unbelieving world of today.

The biggest part of the problem is faith. These were a group of men who saw the works of the Lord. They heard His teachings and felt the power of His wisdom. The life of Christ was above reproach – there was no wrong-doing that they could accuse Him of.

However, they had already rejected the Lord before the trial ever started. They were simply looking for a way to put Him to death.

That happens a lot in today’s society. Many times, people say that they want to talk to us about Jesus Christ or the teachings of Scripture. However, the reality is that they’ve already made up their minds to reject it no matter what we say.

It’s almost like the world views Christians the same way they view time-share salesmen. They listen politely, but they already have their “no” ready and waiting for the end of the conversation.

I love how the Lord gets right to the center of the issue. It’s not that clear in this English translation, so I’ll try to explain what was said.

The first thing Jesus told the leadership of Israel was, “If I told you who I am, you wouldn’t believe me.” That’s where faith comes in.

People see the difference in our lives. They see the blessing and favor of God on us. They ask us to explain what makes the difference. But, when we tell them how the Lord Jesus has changed our lives, suddenly the walls go up.

They start getting defensive. They tell us that the blessings of God are merely coincidences that could happen to anyone. They’ve decided from the start, not to believe.

There’s a second issue as well. Literally, Jesus said, “If I asked you, then you not think long and hard about your decision.” That’s because the word for answer, is a word that means to make a decision based upon all of the facts before you.

That’s what I think is a major problem in today’s society. People don’t want discernment and understanding. They simply want explanations that agree with what they already want to believe. They don’t want to make a personal judgment about who Jesus Christ is.

We have a generation that doesn’t want to think deeply about anything. That’s why we enjoy Google and Facebook. These sites record what we view, determine what we like, and spoon feed us more of the same.

Personally, I want to be challenged. Tell me why you think I’m missing it. It strengthens my faith. Or it shows me areas in which I need to change. In either case, I experience growth.

The worst-case scenario is for me to decide what I want to believe, then only listen to those who agree with me. That’s a sure road to failure.

I don’t follow Jesus Christ by blind faith. He has proved Himself faithful to me over and over again. My trust in the Lord is based upon a deep understanding of Him and His ways.

My prayer is that you will know Jesus Christ in the fullness of who He is. Then your life will reflect the glory of God.

Question: Why do you think that many in the world reject the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2023 in Faith, Israel, The Gospel

 

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Those Who Never Heard

Those Who Never Heard

As the Apostle Paul continues to speak concerning the world without Christ, he now brings up a topic that many ask about.  What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Throughout the centuries, thousands of native people lived and died in North and South America.  They never got a chance to hear the Good News.  Do they automatically go to hell because they were outside the reach of the Gospel?

I believe that both Paul and Jesus speak to this issue.

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

Romans 2:12

I believe that this verse is the foundation for an answer to the questions above.  God is just.  We are only responsible for what we’ve heard.  Those without God’s law will not be judged by that law.

So far in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he’s talked about people who reject, suppress, and deny the truth.  Now he’s talking about a different group.  He’s speaking about those who have not yet heard God’s law.

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.  (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)  This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Romans 2:13-16

Paul makes it clear that righteousness has nothing to do with the law.  It’s all about obedience.  Those who have never heard about the Gospel still have the knowledge of right and wrong within themselves. That’s the basis of God’s judgment in this case.

I previously said that Jesus taught this same thing.  I believe that this is found in Matthew 25:31-46.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to quote the whole passage here, but I encourage you to read it on your own.

Many people get confused by that section of Scripture.  That’s because in those verses we see a judgment that’s based upon works and not faith.  These people are declared righteous because they did what was required without having heard any of God’s laws.

Another point we see in the Matthew passage is that these righteous people seem to have never met the Lord.  The fact that they ask, “When did we ever do anything for you?” shows that they haven’t heard the Gospel.

As I’ve said before, God is perfectly just.  All of creation will see it, even on the Day of Judgment.  At that time all will agree and declare that God’s determination of a person’s eternal future is absolutely right.

That’s why it’s so important now, that we prepare for that day.  We need to lay aside the distractions and bring the message of salvation to all who will listen.

Question: What events helped you to receive the Gospel message?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2020 in Missions, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Spiritual Blinders

I’m continuing my series through the book of 2 Corinthians.  Paul is talking about his ministry.  It’s a ministry of power because the Holy Spirit is working through him.

It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that gets the attention of the world around us.  That’s how we become a “light in the darkness”.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

We as believers should be reflecting the light of Christ to the dark world around us. The Bible says that those in darkness hate the light. What does that mean?  Sometimes if they see the light of Christ clearly in us, it may make them uncomfortable.

Those who have been reading this blog for any length of time know that I’m an avid hiker. During some seasons, I’ll go out for a week at a time.

The first time I went on a solo hike, sleeping alone in the woods, it was a different experience. I set up my tent and when the sun went down I went to sleep. I had no clue that this would be one of the strangest nights of my life.

Around two o’clock in the morning, I woke up startled. It was as if I was in the center of a huge spotlight. The full moon was directly over me. I could see right through my thin, nylon tent as if it wasn’t even there.

I could see the trees, rocks, and everything around me as clear as day. I felt exposed and uncomfortable as I looked around. I’m very glad that there were no large animals near the tent!

This is the same effect as what happens in the spiritual realm when we reflect Christ. When you’re used to living in spiritual darkness, the light makes you uncomfortable. It exposes things that you’d rather not see. It shows you your true condition.

Satan makes full use of this effect.  He uses this discomfort with the light, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to get unbelievers to close their eyes to the truth.

Please take note of the fact that the enemy is called the god of this age. That means that there’s a time limit on his ability to act.

This verse tells us that unbelievers are given blinders if they want them. The Scripture says that if they persist in their unbelief, the enemy will give them blinders so that the light will not beam out to them.

This light is coming from the Good News of Christ – the Anointed One. The light is the glory of His presence within us.

Unbelievers are blinded to the light if they choose to believe the lies of the enemy. That’s why it’s now our job is to get them to take the blinders off. That’s a big assignment. It can only be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.

That’s why our ministry can’t be done in our own strength.  Time in the presence of the Lord is what will empower me to cut through the blinders of the enemy.  Only then will they see the glory of the Gospel of Christ.

Question: How have you experienced unbelievers becoming uncomfortable in the presence of the truth?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Have You Heard the Good News?

SharingFor the last few posts I’ve been talking about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  What exactly is that Good News?  I think you’ll be surprised at how the modern church has turned the message around, making it empty of its power.

If I were to ask people “What is the Gospel?”, I would probably receive many answers.  There are a host of believers who are actively trying to “win the lost.”  They would most likely give me very Biblical answers.

What I want to know are the perceptions of those who hear the Gospel.  From talking with unbelievers who have been “witnessed to” I could boil it down to the following: “You’re an evil sinner going to hell, but if you repeat a special prayer you can go to Heaven.”

If that’s what they got out of an encounter with a Christian, then something’s wrong with our approach.  There is no way to demonstrate a statement like that.  That’s why so many unbelievers are bitter toward those who have tried and failed to convert them.

We need to return to a true understanding of what the Good News is all about.

Here is an example of Jesus’ ministry.

“The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

Jesus made two statements.  The kingdom of God is near was the Good News.  The Lord then told the people how to respond to this Good News.

Repent and believe is not the Good News, it’s the response that’s needed.  We must learn that the power is in the Good News, not in the response to the Good News.  In many cases, we have started calling the response, the Gospel.  You cannot go out preaching “repent and believe” and assume you’re bringing the Gospel to the world.

When it comes to the Good News, one size doesn’t fit all.  There are gang members and single moms, Wall St. executives and the homeless.  Is the Good News the same for all of them?

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that the response to the Good News must be the same for all people.  But the message itself will be different depending upon who you’re talking to.  This is how God established it in His Word.

God, Himself, gave us four Gospels.  Matthew was written for the Jews and Mark for the Romans.  Luke was for the Greeks and John contained Good News for the Christian.

It’s a fact that religious people need to hear something different than the unchurched.  The Bible itself describes the Good News in many ways.  It’s called the Gospel of the Kingdom, of God, of Christ, of God’s grace, of your salvation, and the Gospel of peace.

Of course, no matter how the Gospel message is tailored to an audience, Jesus Christ is central.  Furthermore, it all must be demonstrated by the power of the Holy Spirit in order for the world to see the full picture.

Question: How can you bring the Good News to those in you sphere of influence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in The Church, The Gospel

 

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