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Category Archives: Return of Christ

Faith + Love = Righteousness (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

At one time I did a series of posts about the parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 21.  To see that original series, click here.

In that series, I showed that the light is our righteousness shining into the darkness around us.  If righteousness is our light, then what constitutes the oil and the lamp? It’s the combination of the two that brings light. The relationship between them is what’s important.

Both must be present to produce light. You could have 100 lamps, yet with no oil, there’s no light. Conversely, you could have barrels of oil, yet with no lamp to burn it, there would still be no light. It’s only the combination of lamp and oil that will produce light.

You could say that the light is the oil expressing itself through the lamp. If the light is the manifestation of our righteousness, then we need to discover what the Scripture says about the source.

First, we must see how righteousness is described in the Word of God.

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:15b-17

Here we see God Himself putting on the breastplate of righteousness. Most Christians don’t know that this armor was first seen in the Old Testament. It was not something that the Apostle Paul came up.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

So we can know for a certainty that righteousness is our breastplate. This is important because Paul also described it to the Thessalonian church.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
I Thessalonians 5:8

In this verse, Paul is clearly referring to our spiritual armor. He even makes mention of the helmet of salvation. But instead of assigning righteousness as the breastplate, he says that faith and love are used in that role. Paul is telling us that it’s the combination of our faith and our love working together that completes our righteousness.

I believe that the lamp and the oil represent the operation of love and faith in our spiritual walk. If you go to my original series by clicking the above link, you’ll see a more detailed teaching about how they work together.

Question: How does the absence of either faith or love affect our walk with Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Jesus Christ – The Life-Giver (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

One of the subjects that I love to teach is the Second Coming of Christ. Today, I want to look at the key to it all – resurrection. That was the first track of teaching that Jesus brought to His disciples.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 5, we have the first recorded mention that Jesus makes of the end times. I find it amazing that even though this is where Jesus started, I’ve never heard anyone else begin here. As a matter of fact, in this blog, I talk about a lot of Scripture not commonly taught as pertaining to the Second Coming of Christ.

In this section of Scripture, persecution is starting to arise because of the things Jesus is saying and doing. The Pharisees don’t like the way Jesus is ignoring their religious traditions. Among other things, He’s healing on the Sabbath.

In this chapter, the Pharisees were starting to have a problem with the Lord. They didn’t like the fact that Jesus made himself out to be God in the flesh. According to the Old Testament, that’s who the Messiah was meant to be.

Jesus couldn’t lie about who He was. Of course, this didn’t sit well with the Pharisees, who wanted all the praise for themselves. They didn’t want to hear who the Lord was, because it meant that they would have had to submit their will to His.

In spite of their unbelief, the Lord starts to explain some things to them.

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.”
John 5:19-21

Jesus is telling this group of unbelieving Pharisees that He does the same work as the Father. The Father can raise the dead so He can raise the dead. This is the basis for our trust in Christ. He’s the Life-giver. If I want to live an abundant life, then there’s nowhere else I can turn to.

Elsewhere, Jesus says emphatically that He is the Resurrection and the Life. Our hope must be firmly planted in Him. He’s the source of our life.

The next few verses tell us that Jesus has the same authority as the Father. Disrespect of the Son is disrespect of the Father who sent Him. That’s why any study about the Return of the Lord must start with His teaching. If I contradict His word, then I’m the one who’s wrong. His teaching is the basis for all others.

Question: What place of authority does the teaching of Christ have in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Prepared to Wait

As we continue our study of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is closing His End-Times teaching with His disciples.  These are His concluding statements.  They’re important for us to hear and understand.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard!  Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.”
Mark 13:32-34

He starts by saying that the exact day and hour will be a mystery.  Even Christ, when He took on our humanity, did not retain that knowledge of when that day would be.  Of course, now in His glorified state, Jesus knows when He will return.

His first command to the disciples and us is to watch.  The word literally means to be sleepless.  I don’t believe that the Lord means physical sleep in this verse.  It’s our spiritual eyes that we must keep open.

Too many of God’s people seem to be blind to what’s happening in the spirit.  They go to church for an hour or two a week and expect that this will provide them with everything they need to know.  I wish that were true.

We need intimacy with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.  That’s the only way to remain spiritually alert and vigilant in these Last Days.

 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Mark 13:35-37

Jesus is explaining to us a little bit of His time frame here.  Even though He never tells us exactly when He’ll return, He gives us some hints to help us be ready.  He doesn’t want us to be taken by surprise.

Jesus tells us the most important hint as we wait for His return.  He says that He will come when you don’t expect it.  Please be careful when reading the words of Jesus here.  Many miss the whole point of what He says.

Notice that it will not be a surprise because He comes before you expect Him.  What’s going to throw people off is that He’ll arrive later than they thought it would be.  That’s what He’s emphasizing in this verse.  The Lord said that it could be as late as midnight, the early hours of the morning, or even dawn.

What if I said to you, “Can I come over to your house tonight?”?

“Sure,” you reply and you wait for me to show up.  7 o’clock, 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock go by.  At that point, you’ll probably shut the porch light off.  At 10 o’clock you might be in bed.  At 11 o’clock you’ll definitely be in bed.  If I then bang on your door at 3 o’clock in the morning, I’m sure you wouldn’t even get out of bed to answer the door, even though I told you I was coming.

That’s what Jesus is saying.  He’s telling us that He’s coming later than we think.  There will be a time when people think that Jesus should be here by now, but He’s not.  We could call that “prophetic midnight”.

If you’re one of the people who believe that He’s going to be here at this prophetic midnight, you might be disappointed.  We’ve got to be careful.  Most of Christianity is expecting Him to come before certain prophetic events occur.  Jesus said, “I’m going to come later than you think.”

As a matter of fact, what you’re going to find, is that whenever Christ warns us about being ready, He always qualifies it by saying that He’ll come later than we’re expecting.  Jesus said that if the servant knew when the owner was coming he’d be ready.  We need to be spiritually awake and alert no matter what the future holds.

Question: What do you do to remain spiritually alert?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Fig Tree

I’m continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  In this section, Jesus is teaching His disciples about His Second Coming.  It seems that what Jesus taught is different than what many are teaching in our generation.

As He brings this teaching to a close, the Lord begins to summarize for His followers.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.  I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Mark 13:28-31

Before He finishes this section of His teaching, Jesus emphasizes the certainty of His words.  It will take place as He said.  We will see it approaching just as we see the changes of the seasons.  If we are believers who are prepared to meet Christ, then this day will not take us unawares.

Let me add a note here.  Some teachers use this section to fix a date for the return.  They reason that the budding fig tree is when Israel became a nation again in 1948 or perhaps when the United Nations recognized them in 1965.  This line of thinking continues as they explain that a generation is 40-50 years.  That would have made the year of the return 1988, 1998, 2005, or 2015!

Jesus said that we wouldn’t know the day or the hour.  In reality, the word generation in the above verse could also be translated race.  Jesus could have merely been saying that, as a sign to prove the truth of His statement, the Jews would never be totally exterminated.  Considering the persecutions and the atrocities that have been committed against them, this is a miracle in itself.

The Lord then seals the certainty of what He says.  He contrasts the Word that He speaks to the natural heavens and the earth.

The earth and the sky that we see now are only temporary.  There will come a day when they’re changed by the Lord.

Right now, because of sin, everything is subject to decay – which, in terms of Physics, is the Third Law of Thermodynamics.  When Christ returns, He will make all things new – with no more decay.  I’m looking forward to that day with great anticipation.

His Word, however, will never change.  It is forever settled in Heaven.  I can put my trust in Christ, knowing that He will always bring about His revealed plan to completion.  That’s true whether we’re talking about world events or my personal life.

So, as we continue living in these last days before Christ’s return, let’s focus our hearts and minds on Him.  That’s how we’ll receive the strength and wisdom needed to be victorious until the end of this age.

Maranatha!  Even so, come quickly, Lord!

Question: How are you preparing yourself for the Lord’s return?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Return of Christ, Word of God

 

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Jesus Teaches About His Return

In my last post, I talked about the Day of the Lord.  That’s the day that when Christ appears to rule over the earth.  Every eye will see Him as He establishes His millennial kingdom.  The Lord explained to His disciples exactly when this would take place.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.  And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Mark 13:24-27

Here’s one of the verses that many Bible teachers seem to ignore.  This is the statement that Christ uses to bring all His other teachings into perspective.  Are you going to ignore it, or are you going to believe what Christ Himself taught?

This day may be called many things: “The Day of the Lord”, “The Day of the Son of Man”, or “The Day of Christ”.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s the day Christ returns to the earth to claim His rightful throne.

He makes it perfectly clear.  Mankind will see this return.  This is the day He comes to establish His kingdom.  His teachings to the disciples referred to it as His day, the day Christ comes to reign on the earth.  But wait!  What else happens on this same day?

The Lord makes that clear as well.  He sends out His angels to gather His elect – the church.  The angels will then gather us from the four winds, meaning those of us who are living on the earth at the time of His appearing.  It also says that they will gather us from the heavens. That means those believers who have already died before this day.

That makes this the Resurrection Day as well – the last day of the age.  According to Christ Himself, the Day of the Lord and the Resurrection Day are one and the same.  Look at how the Gospel of Matthew records it.

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Matthew 24:30-31

All nations will mourn.  They – all nations – will see Him.  There will be a trumpet call.  The Scripture makes it very clear that the elect, those committed to Christ, will be gathered up on that day. This is the same day that Christ appears to all nations to take His rightful place as the Ruler of the earth.

How does that sit with what you’ve been taught?  Jesus teaches that the Resurrection Day and the Day of the Lord are the very same day.  Now the choice is up to you.  Who are you going to believe?  A man who comes saying that there’s a seven-year wait between the two or the Living Word of God Himself?  As for me, I chose to believe what Christ teaches.

Question: Why is the belief in the seven-year wait so popular?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2018 in Return of Christ

 

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Jesus Teaches the Day of the Lord

I’ve been posting about the end-times from Jesus’ perspective.  It’s the section of Scripture found in Mark, chapter 13.

Jesus has just finished telling His disciples how to prepare for future events.  He’s warned them in general of the things they need to watch out for.  He also told them about the destruction of Jerusalem.

At this point in His teaching, the Lord is going to explain the connection between His coming and the end of the age.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’”
Mark 13:24-25

Jesus prefaces this section by telling the disciples that these things will happen in the days following the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem.  Please realize that this is from God’s perspective.

2,000 years is “just following” to an eternal being.  Remember, He warned His disciples that they would not see the events connected with His return (Luke 17:22).

The Lord is making reference to Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4.  He describes a sign dealing with the sun, moon, and stars.  Notice how the prophet Isaiah describes it.

See, the day of the LORD is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.  The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light.  The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
Isaiah 13:9-10

This sign is described throughout both the Old and New Testaments as the “Day of the Lord”.  Whenever the Day of the Lord is prophesied, the same word pictures are always used.  In both the Old and New Testaments, we’re told that the sun and moon would be darkened, as the heavens themselves are shaken.

Notice that this sign is described in such a way as to make it reliable no matter which side of the earth you’re living on.  If your location is in the daytime, you’ll see the sun darken. If it’s night, you’ll see the moon and the stars affected.

The important thing is that we know what to look for.  It’s the sign of the Day of the Lord.  We need to understand its place in the order of end-time events.

In my next post, we’ll see exactly where Christ placed this day in His timeline.  The way I look at it, if His teaching is different than mine, then I’m the one who needs to change my thinking.

Question: Where does the Day of the Lord fit into your last-days’ timeline?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Return of Christ

 

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False Christs

In my last post, we started looking at Jesus’ warning about the fall of Jerusalem.  The disciples knew what was coming and could prepare accordingly.  But there was one more aspect of this that they needed to know.

“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it.  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect — if that were possible.  So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”
Mark 13:21-23

The Lord also warned His disciples about false Messiahs.  During times of great crisis, there are always those who want to rise to power.  They convince the masses that they have the solution to all the problems.  I find it amazing that the real Author of peace and life was rejected, while society will accept anyone else who promotes himself as the hero of the day.

Jesus reminds the disciples that no matter how wonderful this messiah sounds, they will not live to see the return of Christ, so there’s no question that this person is false.  Their signs and miracles would be so convincing that the apostles themselves would be fooled – if Jesus had not told them ahead of time that they would not see His return.

What many Christians never hear is that this second fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy has already occurred.  Even though the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jews still regarded this site as holy.  Around 132 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian decided that Judea needed to be Romanized.  He put many policies into effect that were intolerable to the Jews.

He made it illegal for Jews to enter Jerusalem except for one day a year.  He banned the rite of circumcision.  He made it a crime to practice or teach the Jewish religion.  The most detestable change of all, however, was that he established a pagan temple to the god Jupiter on the former Temple site.

At this point in history, two men came onto the scene in Israel.  One was named Akiba Ben Joseph and the other was Simon Bar Kokba.  Bar Kokba was a Jewish leader who incited the people into violent rebellion against these hateful policies of Rome.  Today, he would be labeled a terrorist.

Akiba Ben Joseph was a rabbi who was imprisoned for teaching and practicing the Jewish religion.  When he saw what Bar Kokba was doing, he proclaimed this leader as the long-awaited messiah, giving him the title “son of the star”.

Akiba taught that Bar Kokba was sent by God to restore Israel and to reign in righteousness over the entire world.  With Akiba’s support, Bar Kokba was able to raise a huge army of Jews who were willing to fight the Romans.

The Romans in Caesarea eventually killed Akiba.  Bar Kokba then attacked the Romans.  He defeated them and captured Jerusalem and over 50 towns and villages.  When the emperor Hadrian sent an army to stop this rebellion, Bar Kokba defeated them as well.  Things were looking good for Israel.  Unfortunately, trying to be a messiah without the power of God can prove fatal.

In 135 AD Hadrian was at the end of his patience.  He sent his best general, Julius Severus.  It was a long campaign, but eventually, the Jewish army was annihilated at the town of Bethar, near Jerusalem, in August of that same year.  It’s interesting to see the result of this false messiah in the light of what Jesus said would happen.

The Temple had been destroyed in 70 AD, 65 years earlier, but the city of Jerusalem was still intact.  But, when Hadrian polluted the Temple grounds (the abomination that causes desolation), a false messiah rose up to deceive many and bring about the final destruction of Jerusalem.

On the day of Bar Kokba’s defeat, over 500,000 Jews were killed.  Thousands of Jewish women and children were sold into slavery.  Others were forced to leave Israel and settle throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa.

This was the final dispersal of the Jews spoken of by Christ when He said that they would be taken as prisoners to all nations.  It turned out just like Jesus said.  From that point on, the Gentiles held Jerusalem for almost 2,000 years.

It’s important for us to see, as believers, that this part of Jesus’ teaching has already been fulfilled.  The prophecy of the book of Daniel ended up pointing to two different events.  Some say it will happen again.

They teach that the Jews will rebuild the Temple, and in the last days, we will see this take place.  Those who teach this are only speculating.  There’s nothing in Scripture that directly supports this.  Only time will tell how it will all turn out.

What we shouldn’t do is get caught up debating what the end-times will look like.  The important thing is to be preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We need to be working to bring in the end-time harvest, knowing that the Lord’s return is imminent.

Question: How are you preparing to reach the lost in these Last Days?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2018 in Return of Christ, Revival

 

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