RSS

Monthly Archives: October 2018

Have You Set Yourself Up as a God?

In my last post, I talked about lawless mankind setting himself up as a god in the church.  This is to happen in the Last Days, which I believe we are currently in.

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
II Thessalonians 2:4

I mentioned that some believe this verse is talking about the Temple in Jerusalem.

Let me ask you a question.  What if you heard on the radio that the Jew’s just finished a secret reconstruction of the temple?  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that they took over the whole Temple mount and expelled all of the Moslems who are now in control.

My question is this – would that be God’s Temple?  The answer is simple.  No, that would be the Jew’s Temple.  They could begin offering up sacrifices, but it would mean nothing to God.

No fire would fall from heaven to consume the sacrifice.  As far as God is concerned, it would be just another building.  It wouldn’t be God’s Temple.

What Paul is talking about here is that lawless man, who sets himself up against God, will even get into the Church.  I’m going to say something now that’s going to get some people mad at me.

Think about it, man setting himself up against God.  There are Churches across the country today who decide what to do as a Church by having a vote.

Did they pray about it to see what God wants them to do?  Do they say, “Let’s have fasting and prayer for wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit?”

No!!  What do they do?  “Let’s vote on it, and then we’ll submit it to the finance committee, and then the finance committee will vote on it.”

“Do you think we should have an evangelistic outreach in our neighborhood?”

“Well, I don’t know.  This church building could sure use another coat of paint on it.  Maybe we should do that first and then in a couple of years we’ll see about reaching our community.”

“Why don’t we pray about this?”

“No way!  I put my money into this building, and I’m going to decide what will happen to it.”

Sad to say, this is how many churches around the country are operating.  This is not what I read in Scripture as a Christ-centered church.  God wants a praying church where our goal is to hear God’s will.

It’s a church where the leadership has the freedom to seek God.  Then, as godly men and women (who are actually doing the work of the ministry) bind their hearts together seeking God, they’ll see the Spirit of the Lord leading and directing their steps.

That’s the way it should be, but there are churches over which man has become the head.  Mankind has set himself above God in God’s Holy Temple.  That’s a scary thought.

I don’t want to find myself in the position of telling God that I can run His Church better than He can.  I believe this is what Paul was talking about in the last days.  People are going to be running their church, the way they want to, giving no thought to what God says.

They have set themselves up in God’s Temple, effectively proclaiming themselves to be God.  I believe that many church people in the USA have placed themselves in a very dangerous position.

Question: How have you experienced man running the church in place of the Holy Spirit?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Ministry, Prayer, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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

Mankind Exalted

I’ve been going through the epistle of Second Thessalonians.  In my last post, I began talking about the “Man of Lawlessness”.  I said that this verse could be talking about the lawlessness of mankind being revealed for what it truly is.

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
2 Thessalonians 2:3

Paul tells us, in these writings, that as we approach the end, lawless man will finally be uncovered for all to see.  There will be no question about the evil within.

It will be crystal clear that mankind is lost and in need of a Savior.  That’s why he also calls mankind doomed to destruction.  This literally means that without Christ, mankind is the child of ruin or child of loss.

But Paul doesn’t end his discussion there.  He goes on to describe why mankind will be so lawless in the end times.

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
II Thessalonians 2:4

The first thing we’re told is that mankind opposes God, or sets himself opposite to God.  I believe that this is a description of lawless mankind as we see them in the world today.  They set themselves in opposition to God.

As a matter of fact, it’s not just our God, but anything that’s even called “god”.  These arrogant, “learned” men and women don’t believe in the supernatural anymore.  They say it’s only childish superstition.

Not only do they oppose God, but they exalt themselves over what is called God.  That’s humanism, pure and simple.  “God is dead.  I’m God now.  I’m on the throne.”

That’s lawless man in a nutshell.  Scripture warns us that it will get to the point where this worship of lawless man even sets itself up in God’s Temple.

There are some people who say that this is talking about the Temple in Jerusalem and that the Anti-Christ is going to set himself up as God in that temple.  I wouldn’t be so dogmatic as to say that’s impossible, but I don’t believe that this verse supports that argument.

Scripture itself points me in this direction.  In Paul’s writings, the only times he ever uses the term “God’s Temple”, is if he’s talking about one of two things.  The first is the body of Christ as the temple of the Holy Spirit.  The second is the believer’s physical body as God’s temple since the Holy Spirit dwells in each of us.

So in Paul’s mind, personally I am God’s temple and collectively we are God’s temple.  Those are the only two ways Paul uses the term “God’s Temple.”

If that’s the case, then this is talking about a large segment of the church in the USA.  In my next post, I’ll go into this in more detail.

Question: What do we need to do in order for the Holy Spirit to lead the church?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Lawless Man

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.  In my last post, he predicted a major falling away of the church.  I believe that this was fulfilled during the Dark Ages.

I now want to look at the other things predicted in this epistle.  Here’s the passage we looked at in the last post.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
II Thessalonians 2:1-3

Paul says, in verse 3, that the man of lawlessness is going to be revealed – the man doomed to destruction.  Most people believe that he’s talking here about a man that we term the “Anti-Christ.”

As I read this section of Scripture, I’m not 100% certain that Paul is talking about a solitary man.  One reason is that the word he uses here for man, is the Greek word, anthropos.

When it says the man of lawlessness, he isn’t using the Greek word, aner which means a male.  The word anthropos is where we get our word anthropology.  It’s a more general word used to mean mankind.

Anthropos is not a word that you usually use to mean a man but a group of men.  If I say something like, “The American man is independent,” it’s obvious that I am not talking about one person, but a group of people.  In the same way, it looks like Paul is talking about lawless man, as lawless mankind.

He writes that in the Last Days lawless man will be uncovered.  I believe that he’s talking about the fact that without Christ, human beings are a lawless people.  In my own desires and wants, I’m lawless.

I don’t want anybody to tell me what to do.  I want to do what I want to do.  But when I came to Jesus, that all changed.  I had to submit to Him as Lord.  My will is not supreme anymore; it’s the Lord’s will.  I had to turn it all over to God and establish Him as King.

What about the rest of humanity?  It’s clear from Scripture that anybody who hasn’t bowed their knee to Christ is lawless.  The problem is that our society does such a great job of covering it up.

We’ve created laws on the outside that hold many of our evil desires in check.  There are laws that tell us not to get drunk and drive a car, or we’ll be punished.

Laws are holding most of us back from doing the things that our natural inclinations would cause us to do.  But, as we approach the Last Days, mankind will be uncovered for what he really is.  Even now it seems that the trend is to enact laws that give us more and more permission to act lawlessly.

Society likes to think that man is basically good.  They teach that it’s the environment or upbringing that creates criminal or abusive behaviors.  If we could only do away with poverty, neglect, and prejudice, then society would be a utopia.

Unfortunately, this is not the answer.  It’s clear from Scripture, experience, and history that man is basically evil.  The more freedom and opportunity we’re given, the more depraved we become.

It’s only the life-changing power of a holy God that can make a person a “new creation.”  Only when God’s laws are written on the tablets of our hearts will we truly live up to the high standard of righteousness we were created for.

Question: What examples have you seen that reinforce the fact that Man is basically evil?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 26, 2018 in Return of Christ

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Paul Explains the Second Coming

We’re continuing to look at Christ’s return, explained by Paul in 2 Thessalonians.  In my last post, we saw that his reason for writing this is to spur us on in our work for the Lord.

Paul goes on from there and starts to give the Thessalonian church some more information regarding the Last Days.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
II Thessalonians 2:1-3

We need to understand what Paul is saying here.  The first thing we see is that he uses three different terms for the same thing.  He calls it the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, our being gathered to him, and then, later on, he calls it the day of the Lord.

It’s easy to see that Paul isn’t saying that the Lord’s coming is one time and the gathering up the saints is another.  On the contrary, our being gathered to the Lord and the coming of the Lord is all the same in Paul’s mind.

He then goes on to tell the church not to let anyone deceive them in any way.  He doesn’t want anybody to push them off track and out of the truth.

He shares that they haven’t missed the coming of the Lord.  Certain things must happen before the return of Christ.

As an apostle, Paul knew that it wasn’t even going to be in his lifetime, because Jesus had already told this to His apostles, and Paul was in contact with them.  I have no doubt that he knew Jesus’ teaching on this subject.  Jesus had taught His apostles that they wouldn’t be alive on the earth at the time of His return.  (Luke 17:22-25)

Without even checking into it, he could tell that the letter that was causing all of the fuss in Thessalonica was a false teaching.  It was not to be taken seriously.

The question most of us want to ask is; “What kind of things will happen before Christ appears?”  The answer to that question will help us to see how close we are to the end.

He says, first of all, that there’s going to be a rebellion that occurs.  So we must ask ourselves; what’s the rebellion?

The Greek word there literally means a defection from the truth.  We’re not in the Last Days until people turn away from the truth.  Personally, I believe this has been fulfilled already.  I believe the defection from the truth is what we look back on now and call the Dark Ages.

At that point, the true Church was just a little, tiny flicker of a spark.  During that time in history, there was a great falling away from the truth.  But, since then, God has been restoring the things that were lost.

The Lord has started restoring evangelism, teaching on healing, tongues, and faith to the Church.  That’s why I believe that we have already gone through that falling away and are preparing for the final harvest.

Question: How close do you think we are to the return of Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 24, 2018 in Encouragement, Return of Christ, Revival

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Our Last Days Calling

In my last post, I talked about how Paul described the Lord’s return in Second Thessalonians.  He said that those who didn’t know the Lord would be shut out of His presence.

Please understand the justice of God in this situation.  When this passage talks about the people who don’t know God, it literally means, to know by observation.

For instance, I know about Abraham Lincoln, but I can’t say that I know Abraham Lincoln.  That’s what it’s talking about.  It means to know God – not simply to know about God.  These are people who don’t want to know God.

They’ve heard about Him.  They just don’t want to get to know Him, and they sure don’t want to obey the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ.  These are people who have made a conscious decision not to obey the Lord or the Gospel.

This theme will be developed later on in the Word of God, but for now, I want you to realize that when the Lord returns, there will be two groups of people on the earth.   There will be those who have decided to serve the Lord and those who have decided not to serve the Lord.  There isn’t going to be anybody who doesn’t know about Him – no middle ground.

Why is Paul telling us all this? The answer is found in the very next verse.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
II Thessalonians 1:11-12

We have a purpose to fulfill.  He wasn’t telling them this just to give them more information about Christ’s return.  Too many Christians have made studying the Lord’s return an end in itself.

The fact that we know Jesus is returning should spur us on to do the work that He’s called us to.  We need to be found fulfilling the call of God prompted by our faith.

That’s what God wants for us.  Paul is explaining to these people that they need to be ready for the Lord’s return, but more importantly, they need to be fulfilling their call in Christ.

Don’t just hide under a bush and say, “I’m waiting for Jesus to come.”  We know there are people who’ve done that throughout history.  Many people have set dates for the return of Christ.

Then they went out and sold everything they had.  They ended up sitting on a mountain in white clothes just waiting for Jesus.  They sat on that mountain for a while until they realized that Jesus wasn’t going to come at that time.

We’ve got to learn that same lesson.  Yes, Jesus is coming, but we don’t know when.  So we’ve got to do what we’re called to do until the day that Jesus Christ returns.

Question: What is God calling you to do in these last days before His return?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 22, 2018 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Day of the Lord’s Appearing

In my last post, I began a study of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.  As I said, because of a false message, they believed that Christ had already come and that they had missed it.  Paul is writing this letter to calm them down and get them on course again.

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
2 Thessalonians 1:5

In my last post, we saw that Paul began the letter by commending them for their faith and perseverance in spite of the persecution that they’re suffering.  What he wants these believers to see is that if they remain faithful, they will not miss out on the Lord’s return.

Now, Paul wants to explain to them about some of the things that are going to happen in the future.  This is one of those verses that’s mostly ignored by people who believe in a seven-year waiting period between the Rapture and the Day of the Lord.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

This passage literally says that God is righteous.  In His righteousness, He will vindicate His people.  He will not let things go on the way they are forever.

There’s a limit to the Lord’s patience.  On our part, it’s faith and perseverance that will see us through to the end where we’ll see the righteousness of God revealed.

The Scripture is clear that when it happens, both punishments and rewards will be handed out.  The word he uses for give relief, literally means rest, relief, and relaxation from trouble.

Paul uses the same word, trouble, in this passage (also translated “tribulation”) that Jesus used when He said, “As long as you are in the world you will have trouble.”  Paul said that there’s a day coming when Christ is going to relieve you of trouble.

So, if Jesus said that as long as you’re in the world you’ll have trouble, then the only way we’re going to be relieved of trouble is if we leave the world.  It’s only logical.

But verse 7 says this will happen when He reveals himself from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  That sounds very similar to what Jesus said about His return.

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.  This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-10

Paul goes so far as to say that the relief of the Church and the punishment of the world will happen on the same day.  Isn’t that just what Jesus said?

On the day that we’re relieved, He’s going to judge those that don’t want to believe.  It’s no wonder that so many people ignore this section of Scripture.  It reiterates Jesus’ teaching that there’s no waiting time between the taking up of the church and the punishment of the ungodly.  It all happens THE SAME DAY.

Question: Why is the seven-year waiting period such a popular teaching in our generation?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 19, 2018 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Faith + Love = Growth

I recently finished my series on the Gospel of Mark.  I had been systematically going through the New Testament in the order that the Holy Spirit revealed it to the church.

I started with the four foundational books – James, First Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark.  It’s interesting to note that the next thing on the Holy Spirit’s agenda was to inspire books that dealt with our personal walk with the Lord.

These books include Second Thessalonians, First and Second Corinthians, Romans, and Luke.  In this post, I want to start on Second Thessalonians.

This letter was written to a church in confusion.  They were a young congregation facing much persecution.  They were looking forward to the return of Christ.

The turmoil started when someone pretended they were Paul and wrote them a letter saying that Christ had already returned.  They were upset that they had missed it.

Paul had to write this epistle to bring them back to order with the truth.  The main theme of this book is how to live for Christ with His return in view.

Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-2

Even the way Paul starts the letter shows the apostle’s care for them.  He wants the grace and peace of the Lord to overshadow them.  He wants them to walk in assurance, knowing that they’re secure in Christ.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

Even though this is a young church, Paul commends them because their faith is growing.  We know that the only way for faith to increase is by time spent with the Spirit – hearing God’s Word.  This was a church with a rich spiritual prayer life.

But they didn’t just keep it on the inside.  They lived it out.  Individually, each one of them showed a true love for all of the others in their body of believers.

Faith and love are the two non-optional commodities that the Lord looks for in His people.  They are the true measure of spiritual growth in the kingdom of God.  These people showed by their lives that they were growing in maturity.

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
2 Thessalonians 1:4

Scripture makes it clear that the trying of our faith develops perseverance.  All three are mentioned in this verse.  This church is headed in the right direction.

Now they just need the truth to dispel their confusion about the return of Christ.  In my next post, we’ll start to see how the Apostle Paul deals with this subject.

Question: If faith and love are the measure of maturity, where are you in your spiritual development?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 17, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith

 

Tags: , , , , ,