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Monthly Archives: January 2013

How We Water Down the Gospel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo we proclaim the same Gospel as the early church did?   Is there something missing from our experience that would make a big difference?  I believe that we’re lacking one of the greatest aspects of the Gospel.  We need to return to this truth if we’re going to impact our generation for Christ.

In my last post I talked about the need to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  In today’s post I want to explain exactly what that means.  Here’s one of the verses I looked at last time.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.  You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

I have heard people explain this verse by saying, “The hearers were convicted by the Holy Spirit.  That’s the power Paul’s talking about.”  I simply can’t agree with that kind of thinking.  Paul said that the Gospel came to them with power AND the Holy Spirit, AND deep conviction.

Even the very word conviction that Paul used was a Greek word that means many assurances.  It was something that could be seen and experienced by the unbelievers receiving the Good News.

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

As you can see, I’m not using some isolated verse without context.  This teaching runs throughout the New Testament.  The Good News must be demonstrated.  That demonstration can only be energized by the power of God.  It is beyond our human ability to walk on that level if we rely upon our own strength, wisdom, and knowledge.

I fear that too many Christians allow their faith to rest on man’s wisdom, because they have never seen a demonstration of the power of God.  There are so many believers that have never seen a healing or a miracle.  They have never heard an anointed prophecy or someone speaking in the heavenly language.  There are Christians that have never witnessed someone delivered from demonic possession or oppression.

As a result the Good News, in most cases, has merely become an intellectual debate.  On many occasions, what we call the Gospel today, is void of any power to change the direction of a life impacted by it.

The church needs to do what it takes to once again walk in this life-changing power.  In short – we need revival.  We must admit that we’ve lost something along the way and allow the Lord to make the necessary adjustments.

Questions: Do you think the modern “American Gospel” has the same impact as the early church?  If not, what must we do to change?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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The Gospel is not About Numbers

NumbersWhy do we share the message of Christ?  Is it all about how many people we can get to pray the “sinner’s prayer”?  In my last post I talked about how we are to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As important as servanthood is, there’s still more to understand about the Good News.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18

As God’s people, we must come to the understanding that we are not sent to merely “get people saved”.  Our goal is to announce the Good News.  When someone accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, that’s only the beginning of the salvation process.  As a pastor of over 20 years I am still “being saved” by the power of the Gospel.  Remember what Jesus said to His disciples.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Mark 16:15-16

We are to preach or announce the Good News first, then baptize later.  Our main job is to announce the Good News.  I believe this is the point where we’ve lost sight of what the Good News is all about.

It’s what Paul was talking about in the passage from I Corinthians 1:17-18, above.  Our goal shouldn’t be to “get people saved”.  We are commissioned to announce the Gospel.  According to Paul, it’s sometimes not with words.  It’s not even with wise words.  The reason for this is that words can sometimes neutralize the cross.

How can that be?  Paul continues to explain it to us.  He states that the message is foolishness to the unsaved even though it’s the power of God to us.  So many Christians think that the Gospel is merely announcing the message of the cross.  That’s why so few are turning to Christ these days.  We are trying to win them with what they perceive is foolishness.  There is another way – it’s the way Paul and the early church turned the world upside-down for Christ.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.  You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1Thessalonians 1:4-5

The early church brought the Good News with not just words.  They brought the Gospel on the scene with the manifestation of the power of God.  This is what our generation desperately needs to see.

Question: What will it take to once again see God’s power manifest in His people?

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Power of God, The Church, The Gospel

 

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How to Serve the Gospel

Fine DiningI’ve been taking a few posts to talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Today I want to talk about an aspect we don’t hear about too often.

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.  I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:6-7

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has far-reaching effects.  Paul tells us about the power of this Good News.  As it started to do its work in establishing him, the grace of God began to have an effect.  It called out to him – and he listened.  In the same way, it’s clear that the Good News calls us to that same place of servanthood.

This means that we are to become servants of the Good News and not servants of the law.  This is the servanthood that we are called to.  Sons of God are servants of the Good News.  We must live to serve the Good News.

What do I mean by this?  We must serve the good news just like a waiter serves your food.  Think about it.  In a rat infested dive of a restaurant, they throw your food at you.

In a restaurant where they have “cuisine,” however, they’re not really serving you, but the food.  Why do they have white tablecloths on the tables?  Why the silver utensils, crystal goblets, and fine china?  Do you think that the waiters wear tuxedos for you?  Absolutely not!!  All that finery is because they believe that THE FOOD is worthy.

Now think about church.  It’s not a place of reverence anymore.  Most congregations don’t even dress up these days.  Spiritually speaking, people are coming out to eat less and less at these “restaurants of the Word.”  This causes me to think that maybe the food isn’t as good as it once was.  It just might be that we’re not serving the Gospel like we used to.

As a local pastor, I’m the executive chef of my spiritual restaurant.  That makes me as much to blame as anyone for the quality of the spiritual food at my church.  Then there’s the leadership team – they are the souse-chef and maître de. Our church members are the waiters and waitresses.

Then there’s the fact that at a “high class” restaurant there are no prices on the menus.  If you go there, you expect to pay whatever the meal costs.  As the saying goes, “If you need to ask what the price is, then eat somewhere else.”  Could it be that many American churches today are “spiritual dives?”

The truth is that we need a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  I need to understand my role as a servant.  We need to learn to serve the Gospel as they did in the early church.

Question: What can we do to better serve the Good News of Jesus Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Power of God, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Do I Need the Gospel?

News GlassesWho is the Gospel for?  Is it only the unsaved that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?  I think that we’ve short changed ourselves by not continuing in the whole truth of the Gospel.

This is my second post in a series about the true, life-changing Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I want to look at what it is and its effect upon our lives.  In this post I want to explain how the Good News is also for believers.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:2

According to this passage of Scripture, without faith, the Gospel is of no value or of no benefit to those who hear it.  It starts there – you must believe the Gospel in order to enter into salvation.  What most Christians don’t realize is that the Good News doesn’t end there.  It’s not something that’s only for those in need of the saving power of God.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him…
Romans 16:25-26

In the first line of this section of the Word the phrase is able is the Greek word dunamispower.  This literally says that He has the power to establish you.  How can the Lord accomplish this?  It’s through the Gospel that we are established.  Not only does the Good News save you, but it gives you a foundation.  It sets you firmly in place by the power of the Lord.

I think one of our fundamental mistakes is to think of the word salvation as a one-time thing.  It is actually an ongoing process.  According to Scripture, I received salvation when I accepted Christ as my Lord.  Now, for the rest of my life, I am being saved by His work in me.  One day, when He returns, I will receive my final salvation – my resurrected body.  The Gospel is a part of God’s continuing work in my life.

Of course, if you read the above verse carefully you’ll find that it’s not just the Good News.  It’s also the proclamation of Jesus the Anointed One and His anointing that brings about this stability in your life.  That’s why we can’t neglect the gathering together of the church.  We need what happens when we meet together for worship if we’re going to progress in that anointing.

This is Good News, But as great as our lives being established is, the Gospel doesn’t stop there.  In my next post I will talk about another aspect of the Gospel we don’t normally consider.

Question: What is a result of failing to see the Gospel as an ongoing work in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Faith, The Gospel

 

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Why Are We Ashamed of the Gospel?

Good NewsDo you find yourself hesitant to share your faith with the people around you?  Do you get flustered when asked about what you believe or your opinion on religious matters?  Many Christians find themselves in this condition.  I believe that the answer is found in Scripture.

In the past I posted about the power of God.  I defined it as the ability to produce change in the life of the believer.  This access to the life-changing power of God is vital to see the move of the Spirit in our lives and churches.

There is, however, an important ingredient that we very often trip over.  I am talking about the Gospel.  This is something that’s very misunderstood among Christians.  It’s extremely important to see the Gospel for what it is because it directly relates to the power of God.  I want to take a few posts to look at these factors.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

We probably all know by now that the word Gospel in the Bible is a Greek word that literally means the Good News.  What is this Good News?  According to the verse above, it’s the power of God to save everyone.  That’s the Good News in a nutshell.  God is powerful enough to save all who come to Him.

Because of this truth, Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed” of this Good News.  But that statement leads us to a thought provoking question.  If I am ashamed of it, is it really the Gospel?

Think about this illustration for a moment.  You were just promoted to Vice President of your company and your salary was doubled.  Would you be too ashamed to tell anyone about that good news?  If you had just won a new car, would you be too ashamed to speak about that?

When it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have to ask, what is it that we’re ashamed of and why?  Is it even the Good News that we’re talking about?  These are the issues I want to deal with over the next few posts.

My goal is to make you hungry for the true Gospel.  It really is the power of God to save those who believe it.  It carries with it the life-changing ability of God.  If we could only understand the truth about this Good News it would change the way we approach the world.

Question: Why do you think we get uneasy sharing our faith with others?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Power of God, The Gospel

 

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The Last Days – Separating the Fish

SONY DSCThis will be my last post in my series about the Last Day’s weeding that the Lord will perform in His Kingdom.  Jesus went on to underscore this message by telling another parable.

“Once again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into a lake and caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on shore.  Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 13:47-50

The Lord tells us that the kingdom is like a net let down into a lake.  This net has been dredging the lake for 2000 years now.  It has caught a variety of fish.  Some of the fish are good and some are bad.

There are people who claim to be Christians yet know nothing of the Biblical means of salvation.  They’re relying on their own good works or their church membership instead of the blood of the crucified, buried, and risen Lord.

There are many that have heard and rejected the Good News because they like their own version better.  They say things like, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something.”  The church universal is full of good fish and bad fish.

So what’s new about that?  It’s been like this for hundreds of years.  It will not go on like this forever.  God is starting a separation process.

When the net is full, or literally, complete and finished, something new is going to happen.  Angels are going to be dispatched to separate out of the kingdom of God those who really don’t want to be there on God’s terms.  The word separate means to set off by a boundary.

In the last days God is going to perform a supernatural work that makes a clear distinction between His people and the world.  Right now the church and the world look very much alike.  Divorce, abuse, crime, and substance abuse levels are almost equal.

The end of the age is the time set by the Lord to cleanse His Temple.  He’s going to show that there’s a difference between His kingdom and the world.  It will soon become impossible to straddle the fence.

If you’re wise, you’ll make your decision now to serve Christ wholeheartedly.  Don’t wait until the weeding forces you to make up your mind.  Don’t miss out on a single thing that the Lord has planned for you.

We live in exciting times.  If you go all out for the Lord, then I can promise you that you’ll be a part of the greatest adventure the world has ever known.

Question: How different should we be from the world?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Encouragement, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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The Last Days – God is Serious About Weeding

LightningI have been posting about the weeding that God will do in His kingdom during the last days.  It’s recorded in Matthew 13:24-41.  You can read my last few posts to see how the Lord will do this weeding.

The two things weeded out will be everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  Along these same lines, Jesus makes a sobering statement in Matthew 18.  I am convinced that most believers are unaware of what He meant when He said it.  It’s usually taken out of context.

“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!  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 18:7-9

Whenever I’ve heard this Scripture preached, the message was always about personal sin.  I’ve heard it taught, “It would be better to cut your hand off, than to continue in sin.”  While sin does have the power to ruin your life, Jesus was speaking of something deeper here.

Notice the context.  He wasn’t talking about physical body parts that cause sin.  The Lord referred to the man through whom they come.

I can see countless examples of when my own hands, feet and eyes have participated in my sin. Yet, I cannot honestly say that the sin was initiated by that part of my body.  Sin has always been conceived and planned out by my own will.  My body had no choice but to follow my decision into sin.

Jesus knows that it’s not the body that initiates the sin.  He’s talking about people who cause sin.  When the Lord uses the term hand, foot, and eye, I’m convinced by the larger context of His teaching that He’s talking about His attitude toward His body – the Church.

Only in the Body of Christ can a member cause the body to sin.  Please be warned.  You may think that your role in the church is as indispensable as a hand or a foot.  But, if you’re offending the body, the Lord has no qualms about losing a member to save the body.

Jesus is very serious about dealing with those who cause offense.  This is one of the things we are going to see being weeded out of the church by God in the last days.  As a matter of fact, I think that we’re already beginning to experience God’s cleansing process.

Make sure that your faith is bringing health to the body of Christ.

Question: What can you do to make the church a better place?

© Nick Zaccardi 1013

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Power of God, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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