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Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Rights of a Son

In my last post, I talked about living the mature life above the promises.  This teaching is carried on throughout the New Testament.  It’s not just a verse pulled out of context, but a scriptural theme that has been all but ignored by the church.

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Galatians 4:4-5

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about this life of sonship in Christ.  It’s something that I’m still trying to walk in the fullness of.

But what really began to set me free was when I realized that the promises are the rights of sons.  For instance, this means that the promise associated with tithing has been fulfilled.  God rebukes the devourer because I’m a son.

We need the revelation that we now receive the promises based upon sonship.  It’s not up to me to fulfill the promise.

For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath.  And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.  He is the father of us all.
Romans 4:14-16

This is a foundational passage in our knowledge of how the promises are obtained in Christ.  The blessing is received, not by my working to do the requirements, but by faith in the One who has already fulfilled them.

This truth is not only given to us by Paul but also by Peter as well.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4

The phrase, through these, obviously refers to the glory and goodness of God, not our works of righteousness.  As a matter of fact, the implications of this go deeper than we have yet discussed.

According to this verse, the reason God blesses us is so that we might actually be participants, sharers, in His divine nature.  You will not find the call for us to fulfill the requirements of the promises anywhere in the New Covenant.

If that’s true, then what are the promises for?  We can look at it this way; each promise has two halves.  There are the requirements and the blessing.  According to the New Testament, Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the promises.  We receive the blessing of the promise because of His finished work on the cross, and because we’re in Him.

As I’ve said before, you need the whole truth to be effective.  That’s why it’s so important to understand the work that Christ did to redeem us.

Question: Why is it so hard for us to accept that Christ has finished this work on the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Breakthrough to Maturity

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  In his teaching about the error of legalism, he now begins to talk about our sonship in Christ.

I’ve found that there’s a certain level of frustration in our growth to maturity.  We’d like to arrive there quickly and easily.  Unfortunately, just like in physical growth, spiritual maturity takes time and consistency.

Paul writes about it in this section.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.  He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.  So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.
Galatians 4:1-3

This is a truth that many have missed.  Our position in Christ is not enough for us to experience the manifestation of His power.  If you’re a spiritual child, you have the position of righteousness and holiness.  But you’re still in slavery to the principles of the world.

Spiritually, you own everything that Christ has purchased for you on the cross.  But practically speaking, you’re living out your life never experiencing the reality of it because you’re a child.  We have to come to the realization that position only gets you into the presence of God.  When it comes to the power of God, you need the freedom and authority of adulthood.

As spiritual children, we’re still under the supervision – literally the guardianship and training –of the law.  I think you’ll be surprised by this aspect of childhood.

In the Faith Movement, we were taught the importance of trusting the Word of God.  As a result, we learned that the promises of God could be embraced and applied to our lives.  This was when we started to submit to the guardianship of the law of God.

We learned how to follow the requirements of the promises.  For instance – if I tithe, then God will open up the windows of heaven and pour out a financial blessing upon me.

Make no mistake about it, even though this was a fundamental part of our growth process, it was still a part of our childhood.  This is how children are trained to obey.

“If you’ll take out the trash every week, I’ll give you an allowance.”

“If you’ll tithe, I’ll open up the windows of heaven for you.”

Living on the level of “if you do this, then I’ll do that” is the childhood phase of our walk.  We all must go through it, but we’re not meant to stay there.

When I was a child, one of my chores was to put out the trash every week for pickup.  I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be free of my parents’ rules.

I’m now an adult with a family of my own.  Actually, I’m still putting the trash out every week – but there’s a difference.  I don’t put out the trash because I’ll lose the privilege to use the car.

I put out the trash because THAT’S WHAT ADULTS DO.  I’m not under a law that tells me that I have to do it to receive a blessing.  I do my chores because I’m an adult.

I still give a tithe of my finances to the Lord, but, with an adult mindset.  God blesses my finances because I’m His son.  I tithe because that’s what mature believers do.

Spiritually speaking, I’m in my Father’s family business.  I get my salary from Him.  I know that it would please Him if I reinvest 10% back into His business every week.  Why would I refuse?  He’s never failed to provide for me.

Since I’ve started to look at God’s kingdom from this perspective, I’ve had more peace and freedom than I’ve ever known before.  I’ve seen more answered prayer than I ever have before.  My prayer is that I can apply this to more and more areas of my life.

The Lord is looking for His people to rise up to this level of maturity in Him.  We need a revelation of what sonship is all about.

Question: What’s the next stage in your spiritual growth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Faith, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The 5 Warning Signs of Legalism (Repost)

I’m continuing through the book of Galatians, studying Paul’s teaching on legalism.  Because many people have told me this post helped them in the past, I decided to include it in this series.  I hope this repost will be a blessing to you.

Many Christians are bound by legalism.  Are you one of them?  The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive.  You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs.  I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

Elevating works over position.  Do you worry about what you can do to please God?  The correct answer is – nothing!!  It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God.  Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less.  While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they’ll never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son. Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things. But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters.  As spiritual children, we learn servanthood.  It’s the training ground for our growth in Christ.  The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity.  The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world.  (Galatians 4:1-7)

Relying more on your confession than God’s grace. I believe in the confession of Scripture.  Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life.  Just as important is the reason we do it.  The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him.  But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need.  (II Peter 1:3)

Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ.  Scripture study is very important – it’s one of my passions.  I couldn’t live without it.  But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so.  Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Christ that they pointed to.  It’s not enough just to know about Christ.  I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence.  (John 5:39-40)

Being confident more in the comparison with others than abiding in Christ.  Comparison is a deadly trap.  The problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me. It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else.  On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith.  I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life.  My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ.  (II Corinthians 10:12)

Questions: Have you battled with legalism?  How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Is there a “Glass Ceiling” in Christ?

Many people accuse the Apostles of being male chauvinists.  They say that in their writings they speak mostly to men and assign women to a lower position.  I believe that this is an inaccurate assessment based upon a mere surface reading of the Bible.

As we continue our study of the book of Galatians, Paul begins to talk about the concept of sonship in Christ.  It’s an important truth that all believers – both men and women – need to understand.

Let me start by saying that I’m not going into a detailed discussion of women in the ministry.  However, a careful reading of who Paul greeted in his letters, and how they were titled, shows that Paul ordained women as both pastors and apostles.

There’s no Scriptural “glass ceiling” that would keep a woman from attaining to any position or calling. It’s all based upon the will of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

What I really want to talk about is the use of the words son and sonship in Scripture.  Unlike what many teach, it was not the Apostles trying to make the church a Patriarchy.  In reality, it was just the opposite.

In the cultures of the day, which included Roman, Greek, and Middle Eastern peoples, the place of women were at the bottom of the social ladder.  At best, they were a piece of art to be seen and appreciated.  At worst, they were treated as property, slaves, or a family pet.

In Peter and Paul’s letters, this concept was totally done away with.   They elevate women to a new level of equality unheard of in their day.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7

Peter used a word in this passage that’s translated heirs with you.  It’s literally the word co-heirs.  This means that the wife is someone with an equal share and claim on the inheritance.  This was unheard of in those ancient cultures.

Women rarely, if ever, shared in their family inheritance.  But in the family of God, all this has changed.  Now women are considered of equal importance in the spiritual inheritance of the Lord.

In Christ, there’s no longer the differences and limitations placed upon us by society.  These have all been done away with at the cross.  In the first verse we looked at, Paul says that there is neither…male nor female. YOU ARE ALL SONS.

Why would the Apostle make such an absurd sounding statement?  He did it to emphasize the truth that in the Kingdom of God women have all the rights and privileges of a firstborn son.  God sees a woman on the same spiritual level as a man.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

If you’re a woman of God, then never feel inferior or of less importance than a man.  You can go as high in ministry as the Holy Spirit will bring you.

Question: How has the ministry of women positively affected your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2017 in Encouragement, Ministry, Sonship, The Church

 

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Which Road?

As believers, we should want to live a righteous life before God.  The question is; how do we get there?  I’ve been posting through Galatians and talking about legalism vs. faith.  Aren’t they simply two different roads that get you to the same place?

There are those who teach that they are.  They tell you that the way to a righteous life is hard work, tears, and a lot of self-control.  After all, it’s a hard road to keep yourself holy.

In reality, that’s not the teaching of Scripture.  Look at what Paul writes to the Galatian believers.

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!  For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
Galatians 3:21

The word, opposed, in the above verse is a common word with many meanings depending on the context.  I believe that Paul is asking if the Law is opposite – or the other side of the coin – to the promises.

In other words, you can follow the Law or you can trust the promises, but you can’t do both.  They’re opposite paths.  So what Paul is asking is, are they different paths to the same goal of righteousness?

I believe that this interpretation is correct because of the way Paul answers his rhetorical question.  He clearly tells us that there is absolutely no way that righteousness can be obtained through following the Law.

As a matter of fact, Paul goes on to tell us that there is only one road that brings you to this destination.

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Galatians 3:22

Scripture is clear on this subject.  Every human being on earth is under the cloud of sin.  The only way out is through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.  There’s nothing else I can do to take me from sin to righteousness.

This means that apart from faith in Christ, the Law is needed simply to keep things in order.

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.  So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.  Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
Galatians 3:23-25

That’s why society needs laws.  Without the Holy Spirit at work in us, there’s nothing to maintain peace and order.  The more godless the society; the more laws that are needed.

This verse goes so far as to tell us that the law is like a prison.  It locks people up until they come to faith in Christ.  Think about how true this is.

If a car thief gets sent to prison, does that mean he’s no longer a thief?  No!  He just doesn’t have the opportunity to steal any cars.

In the same way, I might get mad at someone, and feel like beating them up.  But because I know that the law says it’s illegal, and I could go to jail if I act on it, I keep myself in check.  Does that make me any less of a criminal in God’s eyes?

So we have a society of people who are prisoners of the law.  They want to do things that the law says they shouldn’t.  So they act correctly, at least while others are watching.

The only answer to this dilemma is faith in Jesus Christ.  By submitting to Him, we allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out.  This is the promise of God.  That His Spirit would be in control of us, leaving us free to serve God with all of our heart.

Question: Why do so many believers choose to serve the Law after accepting Christ’s salvation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Faith and the Law

I’ve been posting about Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  We’ve been looking at the covenant we have through Christ.  It all started with Abraham – the father of faith.

According to Scripture, the covenant of blessing that God made with Abraham is still in effect.  We have access to it in Christ.  In my last post, we saw that even the Law of Moses did not set aside the covenant!

For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
Galatians 3:18

This verse is a great summary of everything that we’ve learned so far.  The covenant of blessing that God gave to Abraham was passed down through his descendants.  Now, in Christ, all who believe become a part of Abraham’s family.

But there’s still a question in the back of many people’s minds.  It concerns the law.  What’s the place of the Law in the life of a believer?  Paul anticipates this question and deals with it for us.

What, then, was the purpose of the law?  It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.  The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.  A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
Galatians 3:19-20

Before we can understand our relationship to the Law, we need to know its true purpose.  According to Paul, it was added to the covenant.  This means that in legal terms, the law is an addendum to the covenant that God made with Abraham.

That begs the question; why was an addendum necessary?  Again, according to Paul, it was because of transgressions.  Transgressions required a temporary addendum until the promised Messiah arrived.

Of course, in order to understand this, you need to know what, specifically, a transgression is.  When you read the Bible, you’ll find many different words for the general word, sin.

Transgression is a word that means the particular sin of breaking the terms of a covenant.  Since Israel was the only nation in covenant with God, you’ll find that they’re the only ones ever accused of transgressions.

Abraham was the first one in a personal covenant with God.  He trusted God in a way that kept the covenant unbroken over a few generations.  Over time, the children of Israel neglected the covenant.  They didn’t live up to the faith that Abraham originally possessed.

The reason that the Law was given, was so that Israel could see, in writing, the things that Abraham did out of love for God.  It was because they didn’t live this way that they needed an addendum to explain it.

So what we see is that the law was not a covenant in and of itself.  It was a temporary addendum to the eternal covenant God made with Abraham.  That’s why Jesus said…

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Matthew 5:17-18

His purpose was not to do away with the Law, but to completely fulfill its requirements once and for all.  That’s the blessing of being in Christ.  We’ll continue to look at this over the next few posts.

Question: How does knowing that the Law is already fulfilled affect your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Contracts and Covenants

Do you know the differences between contracts and covenants?  If you’re a Christian, then that distinction is very important.  Understanding it can be the difference between a blessed life and total frustration with your spiritual walk.

As we continue looking at Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he begins to talk about covenants.  That’s important because we’re in a covenant relationship with Christ.  The unfortunate thing is that we don’t usually talk about covenants in our culture.  We’re most familiar with contracts.

Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life.  Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.
Galatians 3:15

Let’s start with contracts.  They’re based on mistrust and works.  We don’t really trust each other to do what we’ve agreed to, so the contract details out all or our responsibilities.  For instance, you fix my roof in a professional manner and I’ll pay you $5000.

Contracts also have an escape.  If you don’t fix the roof, I don’t have to pay you the money.  If you complete the work, then I can’t legally refuse to pay you.  The contract forces us to do the things we said we would do.

Covenants are a totally different thing.  They’re based upon faith and love.  In a covenant, two people pledge their lives to each other.  There must be a great faith in each other in order to do this.  Under covenant, I complete my part regardless of what you do.

Also, there’s no escape from a covenant.  They’re in effect forever.  They even affect the descendants of those who made the covenant.

The closest thing we have to covenant in our society is a marriage.  God has designed marriage to be a covenant, but in many cases, we’ve reduced it to merely a long-term contract.

In Paul’s example, he explains that a covenant can’t be annulled and another covenant can’t be added alongside it.  As I said, once entered into, it’s in effect forever.

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.
Galatians 3:16

A covenant is in effect throughout the generations.  In Abraham’s case, it was spoken to Christ through Abraham.  That’s because Jesus entered the earth through Abraham’s family line.

But here’s the important piece that we often miss.

What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.
Galatians 3:17

There are some who erroneously teach that the Law of Moses was a new covenant that God made with Israel.  They say that once the Law was given, salvation was only obtained through the sacrificial system.  This verse exposes the fallacy of that kind of teaching.

The good news is that the covenant of Abraham is still in effect.  Over the past few posts, I’ve been talking about how the Apostle Paul explained this truth.  As believers, we can walk in the blessings of the covenant.

Of course, there’s still the question about the Law of Moses.  What exactly is our relationship with the Ten Commandments and all the laws associated with them?  We’ll deal with that subject over the next few posts.

Question: Why is it important to know that we’re in covenant with God?      

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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