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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Scripture and the Word of God

Bible 2I have been posting about the Word of God and its relation to Scripture.  I’ve probably said some things that have caused you to question my beliefs.  In today’s post you’ll see that what I believe is firmly rooted in the teaching of Christ, Himself.

At one point the Pharisees were trying to come up with a reason to kill Jesus.  They were upset that He healed people on the Sabbath and called God “Father,” among other things.  It’s important to see how the Lord handled these men.  Remember, these were people who dedicated their lives to the study and memorization of Scripture.

And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:37-40

Notice how the Lord’s words to the Pharisees resemble His words to Satan when He was tempted.  He first tells them that they have not heard from God nor seen God.  He then told them that God’s Word did not live in them.  Wait a minute – they had the Scripture memorized – yet God’s Word did not have a place in their lives.

Jesus then makes a statement that we need to pay particular attention to.  He admits that those around Him diligently study the Scripture.  Isn’t that a good thing?  Why does it sound more like an indictment when the Lord says it?

Because it all depends upon why you’re studying the Scripture.  They were approaching it with the wrong reasoning.  Listen carefully to the words of Christ.  He said that they diligently study the Scriptures because they think that by the Scripture they possess life.

Jesus is clear.  You cannot possess life in Scripture.  You can only possess life in Christ.  It doesn’t matter how hard you study or how many verses you have memorized, according to Jesus, you will not find Life in the Scripture.

You may get mad at me for saying it – but that will not change the truth.  How we handle the Scriptures these days borders on superstition.  So many of us believe that the Bible is going to give us what we want.

I have heard it preached (I preached it, myself, before I understood the truth) that if you want something from God, “just find a Scripture that supports it and stand upon it.”  That’s not what the Bible is for.

Christ came that we might live the abundant life.  That life will only be found in Him.  There are many aspects of the abundant life that the above truth could apply to.  Think of how we do things in the church today.  Christ could be speaking directly to us.

Question: How have you seen the Bible used superstitiously?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Becoming Mature in the Word

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven though the church talks a lot about the Word of God, I wonder sometimes just how mature we really are.  At one point the writer of the Book of Hebrews rebukes his listeners for their lack of maturity.

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14

In order to become mature, we must learn the elementary truths of God’s Word.  Then when we’re mature, we are able to discern the good from the evil.  This is especially needed when someone supports their evil with a verse of Scripture.

People try to push the dumbest things, all in the name of God’s Word.  I believe these days of such foolishness are coming to an end.  I believe that God is bringing His people to a new level of maturity in the Holy Spirit.

As we mature, we will be able to discern whether something is of God, or just a clever deception.  That’s one of the reasons I’m posting this blog.  So that the Lord’s people can live for God unashamed and correctly handling the Word of Truth.

In Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness, He made the following statement.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Here is why maturity in the Word is so important – The Word is our Life.  Jesus said that food was not enough for man to live on.  If someone truly wants the abundant life, then he needs to grasp the Word of God.

Paul understood this truth as he ministered to his people.  He wrote to them about how to live as examples to the world.

…as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Philippians 2:16

This is such an important aspect that God’s Word is even called the Word of Life.  That’s why Jesus – the Word made flesh – could say that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The Word of God brings life.  The Word of God is life.  This is a very important point for us to understand.

Question: In what ways have you experienced the abundant life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Scripture, the Truth, and the Word of God

We live in an age where people are using the Bible to support what they’re doing or teaching.  How do I know if I’m truly hearing God’s Word?  Just because someone quotes the Scripture – is it really God’s Word they’re proclaiming?

In my last post we saw that Jesus didn’t accept the scriptural declaration of the devil.  He knew that the enemy was not speaking God’s Word to Him.

BibleHere is a surprising fact you may not know.  Throughout the entire Bible, the Scripture never calls itself the Word of God.  That’s something we have done.

At this point you’re probably ready to stone me as a heretic.  Please wait.  I’m not saying that the Bible is not the Word of God. All I’m saying is that the Bible doesn’t call itself the Word of God.

There is an important reason for that, which Christ Himself will testify to.  You need to let His words speak to you to understand the true nature of Scripture and the Word of God.

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
John 17:17

Jesus is very clear in this passage.  God’s Word is not just truthful.  It doesn’t only contain truth.  It is, by its very nature, TRUTH.

What about Christ the Living Word?  Didn’t He say, “I am the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life.”?  There’s no getting around it – God’s Word is truth.

It’s unfortunate, but people can take the words of Scripture and twist them around for their own ends.  That’s why we need a daily walk with the Holy Spirit.  There’s a reason He’s called the Spirit of Truth.  The Spirit of God gives us the discernment we need when reading or hearing the Scripture.

Christ needed to discern the “word” He heard from the devil.  He was mature enough to see that even though Satan was quoting Scripture, his intent was evil.  In that case, the verse that the devil spoke was not the Word of God to Jesus.

We’re running into the same type of problems in the church today.  It grieves me that there are ministers whose only reason for studying the Bible, is to find passages that will convince you to put your money into their wallets.  They’ll tell you, based upon a Bible verse, that you will be blessed if you send them an offering of your month’s salary.

They’ll tell you that it’s God’s Word to you that if you’ll send them the money, then you’ll be out of debt and in a new house by the end of the year.  Of course, when it doesn’t come to pass you’ll blame God.  “I stood on God’s Word and He failed to keep it.”

Unfortunately, it was not God’s Word that failed.  What happened was that some preacher’s faulty use of the Scripture failed.  Then again, it got him the money he wanted, so it didn’t fail to bring in what he was after – your money.

Question: Have you ever seen the Scripture used to promote a lie?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Word of God

 

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The Devil and the Word of God

TowerIn my last post I talked about the lies of the devil.  We saw that, according to Jesus, the enemy cannot hold the truth neither is there any truth in him at all.

Understanding this gives us insight into how the devil operates.  He speaks lies, sometimes by making true statements.  We need to understand this as we look at an encounter between Christ and the devil.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Matthew 4:5-6

This verse is important in understanding the relationship between the Bible and the Word of God.  Here we see the devil quoting the Bible correctly.  He even used it in context.  The verse is from Psalm 91 which we all know is about the protection of God for the Messiah and us.

Now, it’s time for the tough question.  In quoting the Bible, was Satan speaking the Word of God to Jesus?  Be very careful how you answer this.  It’s the basis for understanding how the Word of God works in us.

Jesus clearly taught that Satan could not hold the truth neither was there any truth in him at all, yet it is clear that he has the Bible memorized.  We know that the devil only quotes the Scripture when it suits his purpose to try and deceive us.  His use of Scripture is actually a lie – according to Christ Himself.

As I said previously, we get so caught up asking the wrong questions.  We should be asking, what exactly is the Word of God to me?  I need a Word from heaven.  How do I know what that Word is?  When Jesus heard the Scripture from the mouth of Satan, He totally rejected it as a lie meant to trip Him up in His walk with the Father.

Then what is the Scripture?  It is the written record of the Word of God, given to various people, at different times, under different circumstances and for many purposes.  I have to ask, is what I’m reading God’s Word to me?  The answer to that is both yes and no.

There are some scriptures that have nothing to do with me or what I’m going through.  There are others that the Holy Spirit can use to speak to me.  That’s the key.  What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?  Very often He will use Scripture to speak to believers.

But you must also understand that Satan will use Scripture as well.  That’s why it’s so very important that we learn to discern the voice of the Spirit.  The Bible is a spiritual book and must be read prayerfully.

Question: How has God spoken to you through the pages of Scripture?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Recognizing the Truth and the Lie

AppleThe Word of God is Truth.  Do we really understand how absolute this truth is?

The opposite of truth is lie.  Being able to recognize the lie is an important part of serving God.

Christ could see through the lies of the enemy and did so on many occasions.  Once, when upset by the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus said the following.

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
John 8:44

Here Jesus clearly teaches about the devil and his relationship to the truth.  Is there a little bit of truth in the devil?  Absolutely not!  “He does not hold to the truth, for there is no truth in him.”

While studying this, I was convicted and had to repent of some things that I never thought of as sin.  Satan makes true statements from time to time if it suits his purposes.  But, according to this verse, saying true statements and speaking the truth are two different things in the Lord’s eyes.

The above passage implies that if you make a true statement, in order to get someone to believe a lie, then you are in fact lying.  That’s what got to me.

For instance, if I was heading out of the house on an errand, my wife might say to me, “Honey, there are some important bills that need to be mailed.”

Being the wonderful husband that I am, I would tell her that I’d be glad to do it.  So, with the best of intentions, I take the letters.  I go through the day and complete my errands without ever giving the letters a second thought.

Then when I arrive home, the first thing my wife asks is, “Did you mail my letters for me?”

Not wanting to get in trouble I reply, “Oh, I took those with me first thing this morning.”  My hope is that my true statement would lead her to believe that I had mailed the letters, when in fact I hadn’t.  I always thought I was speaking truth – at least in part.

According to Jesus, this isn’t the case.  The devil uses true statements to get us to believe lies.  Jesus said that he cannot hold the truth and there is NO truth in him.  So that when Satan speaks it’s a lie, even if his statement happens to be true at the moment.  Because of this, I had to repent of all the true statements I’ve made, trying to cover my tracks.

Of course my wife can usually see through it and immediately says, “I didn’t ask if you took the letters, I asked if you had mailed the letters.”  So, in most cases, I was caught anyway.  But the fact is that making true statements with the intent to deceive is the same as telling a lie.

Question: Have you ever experienced this type of lie?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Understanding the Word of God

BibleAfter they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:31

We are so far removed from the reality of this Scripture.  This is such a simple statement about the early church, yet the term Word of God meant a far different thing to them than it does to us.

One of the things I must be careful about is to bring forth this truth clearly so as not to confuse anyone.  That’s not my goal.  I want to see the church of this generation walk in the same powerful Word that these believers had.

It’s unfortunate that when most believers read the phrase Word of God, they immediately think – the Bible.  The truth is, that’s not always the case.  We must remember that at the historical point in this Scripture, there was no Bible that they could speak from.

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 4:6-7

Here Paul warns us not to go beyond what is written.  Unfortunately we don’t understand this today.  Because of our shallow understanding of what the Word of God is, many abuses have crept into the church.  There are those who are now very adept at using the words of Scripture to fleece God’s sheep for their own personal financial gain.

God wants to clean up His church.  I believe a proper understanding of the Word of God will help us in this area.  That’s why I’m going to post about this for a little while – it’s so important.

Jesus, the Living Word, is the final authority on this matter.  That’s why His teaching will be the foundation for what I share.  Before we begin to look at the words of Christ in the next post, I want to share a couple of interesting facts that I uncovered in my studies.

When you read the pages of Scripture, there are some facts that emerge.  First, throughout the entire Scripture, the Word of God is always spoken and never read.  There is one notable exception to this.

The prophet Jeremiah was banned from coming before the king on pain of death.  The Lord spoke to him a Word of prophecy for that king.  So Jeremiah dictated it word for word to his secretary and told him, “Write what I SPOKE and read the Word of God to the king.”  As this Word was read to the king, he burned it page by page as it was being read.

Conversely, according to the Bible, the Scripture is always read and never spoken.  These are a couple facts that we need to think about.  Over the next few posts, I believe that the words of Christ will clarify some of these issues concerning the Word of God.

Question: Have you ever heard someone use a Bible passage for their own agenda?

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in The Church, Word of God

 

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The Word of God – Who, not What

BeamI want to talk about the very foundation of the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.
John 1:1-2

Whenever you talk about the Word of God you must start with Christ.  Notice that in this verse the Word is a He.  God and His Word are one and the same.  When the Bible speaks about the Word of God, it’s talking about God’s revelation of Himself.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Christ is the Word made flesh.  He was the Word throughout eternity past.  He will be the Word for all of the eternity that lies before us.  This is the foundation of all we know about the Word of God.

By looking at Christ we see the total embodiment of what the Word of God is and does in our lives.  It’s through His life and words that we can truly understand how the Word applies to us.

You would think that because of this truth, there would be no question as to what the Word of God is in our life and walk.  I wish that were the case.  The fact is that there’s much controversy surrounding exactly what the Word of God is.

Please read my posts carefully, and prayerfully.  It’s my hope to cut through some of the problems created by our present use of “Christianese” – the religious language we have grown used to in the church.

This language is not always in line with Scripture.  It’s my prayer that you will see a difference between how we describe certain truths and how the Bible describes them.  I also pray that when you see this difference, you’ll choose the Biblical definition.

It’s because of our use of this religious language that we get into many arguments.  One of these is over what the Word of God is.

There are some who insist that only the King James Version of the Bible is the Word of God.  There are others who say that any translation is the Word.  Who is right?

Actually, according to Scripture, the above argument is not even asking the right question!  Let’s allow Christ, the Living Word, to be the Judge in this situation.

Over the next few posts I hope to clarify some things that are causing tremendous problems in the Body of Christ.  I want to see God’s people get back to where we should be in our handling of the Word.

Question: How does Christ continue to reveal Himself as the Living Word of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Word of God

 

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