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Who Are You Following?

As we continue in our study of First Corinthians, Paul has begun talking about agreement in the body of Christ.  We’ll now see why he brought up that subject.

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:11-12

When will we learn that among the followers of Christ, there’s only one true God?  There may be a multitude of teachers and methods of teaching, but we serve the same Lord.  2000 years later, and we still fall into the same trap.

Different denominations within Christianity still quarrel over the small details of the faith.  We all have a brand of teaching that we enjoy.

There’s nothing wrong with being different.  That is, as long as we believe in the fundamentals – Jesus Christ, God made flesh, the One who died, rose from the dead, and is Lord of all.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, but my teaching is not the only way to know Christ.

Paul had to deal with this in the Corinthian church.

Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized into the name of Paul?  I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.  (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)
1 Corinthians 1:13-16

In these questions, Paul is asking about a fundamental truth.  Who is the focus of our faith?  Is it our teacher, or Christ Himself?  The answer should be obvious.

Paul now makes one of his most powerful statements.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 1:17

The impact of this verse is all but lost on many in the church today.  In effect, Paul is saying, “God did not call me to simply convert people to Christianity.  I am not using my superior wisdom to get people to make a logical choice to follow the teachings of Christ.”

Paul was commissioned by God to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Hearts were to be convicted.  Lives were to be changed and made new.

The Gospel is not about convincing people that they need to begin following the teachings of Christ.  It’s giving them the choice to become a new person in Christ.  It’s a call to leave the kingdom of this world to become a citizen of the kingdom of God.

Human wisdom has no power to change a life.  But in the cross, we find the power of transformation.  Paul makes that abundantly clear.

It’s unfortunate that the cross is preached so rarely in our generation.  It’s actually the foundation of life on a higher level.  In the next few posts, we’ll see how Paul describes it.

Question: What is the place of agreement for all believers?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 3, 2018 in Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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What is the Gospel – Really?

In my last post we began looking at the second Word that the Holy Spirit gave to the church. It was Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Today we’ll look at an important “first”.

It’s always good to note the first time a word is used in the Scripture. It helps us to understand what the Holy Spirit means when He uses it elsewhere in the Bible. Sometimes preachers call it the “law of first use.”

Do you have any idea the first place in the New Testament when the word Gospel is used? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not in the Gospels. That’s because the Gospels weren’t the first books written. The Gospel of Mark was probably the fourth book written; which is close, but not the first to use that word.

Actually, the word Gospel is first used in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. This was the first of Paul’s epistles. He was writing to a young church he started with only a brief stay in the city of Thessalonica. Here’s what he wrote them in the opening verses of his letter.

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

That’s a very interesting comment to make. The first time the word Gospel is used in the Scripture, it means more than just words. It’s a complete presentation of the power of Christ. Paul is very clear in saying that it’s not just words, but also includes power, the Holy Spirit, and conviction.

It’s unfortunate that in our day there are those who think the Gospel is simply a cleverly crafted message designed to convince a sinner to get saved. When we believe that, we’re only working with a small part of the Gospel. For it to be the true Gospel of Jesus Christ there must also be a demonstration of power.

If I’m going to demonstrate something, then I need to know what it is. In natural terms, power is the ability of something to produce change. If nothing changes, then there’s no power.

Paul tells us here that when the true Gospel came forth – things changed. It’s not like many of our meetings today where we say, “That was a powerful message.” By we simply meant that we were stirred emotionally or felt goose bumps.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

As you can see, I’m not using some isolated verse without context. This teaching runs throughout the New Testament. The Good News must be demonstrated. That demonstration can only be energized by the power of God.

I fear that too many Christians allow their faith to rest on man’s wisdom, because they’ve never seen a demonstration of the power of God.

There are so many believers that have never seen a healing or a miracle. As a result, the Good News, in many cases, has merely become an intellectual debate. Sometimes, what we call the Gospel today, is void of any power to change the direction of a life impacted by it.

The Gospel has to be a Word from God, not just a convincing argument. When I speak what God is saying, then the Holy Spirit is free to confirm the message. People are convicted by the Word and their lives are forever changed.

We need to get back to being a people who spend time listening to their God. Then, once we’ve heard His voice, we need to step out and speak what He’s saying to us. This is the true essence of the Gospel. This is what will change our society for Christ.

Question: What would church look like where the true Gospel was preached?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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The Mountain of the Lord’s Temple

Isaiah 2:2-3
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

When the temple was established in Jerusalem, no gentile could ever enter it, no matter how devout they were.  Temple worship was the exclusive right of the nation of Israel.

Things are different now.  Because of what Christ has done, all nations may now enter the invisible, holy temple of God.  We can now climb the heights to His very presence.  What was formerly impossible is now accessible by grace.

It is now possible to sit at the feet of the Lord and allow Him to teach you His ways.  Even when the temple was open to Israel, only the priests had that privilege.  Now, because of the cross, we can all experience the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Make that climb today, to the top, to the mountain of God’s temple.  Approach the majestic presence of the Creator of all things.  Worship at His feet, for He is worthy to receive it.  Wait on Him, for His Spirit to move upon your heart.  Lives are forever changed up on that mountain.  Let yours be one of them.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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