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The Rise of Lawlessness

In our study of Second Thessalonians, we’ve been talking about the lawlessness of mankind being uncovered in the Last Days.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?  And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.  For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
II Thessalonians 2:5-7

It’s clear from this section that Paul’s merely reminding them of the things he taught when he was with them.  He apparently told them what was holding back the lawlessness.

It’s also clear that the secret power of lawlessness was already at work 2,000 years ago.  What Paul literally says is that the secret power of lawlessness was already energized.

I’m reminded of a parable of Jesus (Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43).  He said that the church and the world were going to grow up together.  These two kingdoms would grow in power and mature side by side throughout history.  The seeds that were planted by the enemy already had lawlessness working in them.

According to Paul, there’s something holding back the full force of this lawlessness.  Most of the modern translations add a lot of preconceived ideas to the text.  What Paul literally said in verse 7 is the restraining will continue until it is removed from the midst.

I believe he’s talking about the laws that govern us.  Back then; they had a system of government where if you disobeyed the law, you paid the penalty for your actions.  But more and more, around the world, it now seems that laws don’t mean anything.  The lawmakers tell us that it’s how you interpret that law that matters.

My wife, Cheryl, was called for jury duty a number of years ago.  She was selected to hear a drunk driving case.  It was clear from the testimony that the man was drunk, and he was driving.  He could have very easily killed somebody.  Thank God, he was caught before he did any damage to himself or others.

As they were discussing the case in the jury room, an interesting thing started to happen.  All of these jurors started seeing themselves on the stand.

“Well, I drink sometimes, and I’d hate to have a policeman take away my license because I got caught.”

“Maybe we should let this guy go because nothing happened and nobody was hurt.  After all, there was no accident and no damage.”

Those who know Cheryl understand that she has a very prophetic ministry.  If you can imagine how Elijah would’ve responded to all this, you’d be pretty close to what actually happened.

Cheryl’s response was that the question is not what we would do.  It’s not even about what we would want to happen if we were caught driving under the influence of alcohol.

The question is; was he drunk?   Was he driving?  If so, then he’s guilty, whether or not you do it as well.

They did find him guilty.  But please understand that if there wasn’t a Christian on the jury, then the outcome might have been very different.

Lawless man says, “I know what the law is, but I wouldn’t like that law if I were the one driving.”  What we will find is that this what it’s going to be like more and more in the last days.

Yes, there might be laws, but they’re going to be followed less and less.  Paul is saying that lawless man is going to be uncovered for what he really is.  In the last days, we’re going to see an increase in lawlessness the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

That’s why, more than ever, we need to trust the Lord for our safety, protection, and provision.

Question: How have you seen a rise in lawlessness over your lifetime?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on November 2, 2018 in Faith, Return of Christ

 

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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

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

 

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One Spirit – One Wind

What has to happen for the church to walk in unity?  I’ve been posting about it, and I think the answer will surprise you.

In my last installment, we saw that Jesus prayed to the Father, that He would make us one.  That means that it must be by the Spirit.  The church can never operate as one person in the natural; it’s a work that only can be performed in the spiritual realm.  In His prayer, the Lord gives an indication of how this process works.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:22-23

If the unity of the church is just like the unity shared by the Father and the Son, then we must ask; how are the Father and the Son one?  Simply put, they share the same Spirit.

It sounds to me as if this is one of the most important aspects of our walk with God.  It’s our unity that speaks to the world and lets them know the truth about Christ.

I don’t believe that this is what the world sees in this generation.  Right now many churches have no agreement or unity.  Agreement is good; it means that we’re all being taught the truth.  Our agreement lets the world hear the Good News with one voice.

Unity is better.  It allows the church to operate as a unit.  But the real place of power is a church that’s operating in both agreement and unity together.  This means that we not only believe the same and speak the same, but also operate in one spirit.  How is that accomplished?

Let me illustrate how this truth works.  Picture yourself out in a field.  The wind is gently blowing and you can see the grass swaying in the breeze.  For the purpose of this illustration, the natural wind is the Holy Spirit.

Now I come into the picture.  Compared to the wind, I’m a little electric fan.  When I pray “in the Spirit,” I align my spirit with the Holy Spirit and start to blow my wind in the same direction as the natural wind.  When I’m in the spirit, I’ve lined myself up with God’s Spirit.

Being in the spirit allows my spiritual wind to blow in the same direction as the Holy Spirit.  If this scenario were happening in the natural – a fan in a field – would you be able to tell which part of the wind came from the fan and which came from the air?  No, it would be impossible to differentiate the two.

In the same way, you can’t differentiate my spirit versus the Holy Spirit.  The wind of the Holy Spirit completely envelops my wind, it’s all ONE.  The Holy Spirit and I are in unity.  This is what Paul wrote about to the Corinthian church.

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:17

We’re now starting to see the whole picture.  To be one with Him, I must unite myself with the Lord.  It’s interesting to note here that the word, unite is the word, glue in the Greek.  According to Paul, being one with the Lord in spirit is being glued to Him.  This is the unity we share with the Lord.

In my next post, I’ll show how my unity with the Lord becomes unity in the church.

Question: Why is it important for us to be in unity with the Lord?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Wind of the Spirit

I’ve started to post about the corporate use of prayer in the spirit.  In my last article, I talked about the difference between unity and agreement.

Today, I want to share some things that Jesus taught about the move of the Spirit.

At one point a teacher of the law named Nicodemus asked Jesus some questions.  Jesus spent some quality time with this young man.  I think however that this teacher left with more questions than he started with.  During the conversation, Jesus said the following to Nicodemus:

“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:7-8

When you’re born of the Spirit, you can now live life on a new level.  It’s the level of the spiritual realm.

God describes it as wind.  It blows wherever it pleases.  Just as in the case of the physical wind, we can see the effect, direction, and speed it’s traveling.

This is the case even if we don’t know where it’s coming from or going to.  Maybe you’ve seen a weather map on TV.  Personally, the Weather Channel is one of my favorite places on Cable TV.  I’ve gotten many spiritual illustrations from its programs.

When you look at a weather map, sometimes it shows you the flow of the Jet Stream over the United States.  It could start flowing East over Washington state.  Then it dips down to Texas and takes a turn to flow directly up the East Coast.

This is how the flow of the wind operates.  You can’t tell where it’s been or where it’s going just because you know the direction where you’re standing.  In Washington, it flows east, in Colorado it flows south, and in Kentucky, it flows north, all at the same time.

The flow of the Holy Spirit is just as unpredictable; that’s why we must be sensitive.  The Spirit of God may be moving through prophecy in one church, healing in another, and weeping in a third.

I can’t say that because God is not moving in your church the way He moves in mine, that therefore you are out of His will.  It takes sensitivity to the Spirit to know just what He wants to do right here, right now.

It’s just like the wind.  It takes someone who’s born of the Spirit to understand the move of the Spirit.  That’s why it’s called the “flow” of the Spirit.  It’s my goal to get in on that flow which is the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

But what does the flow of the Spirit have to do with unity in the body of Christ?  As you’ll see, it has everything to do with it.

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21

Jesus is praying in this verse for the church to be one.  This is the same Greek word that’s translated as unity in the verses we looked at in my last post.  It literally means to be one.

This is not a word that means “I agree with you”.  According to the Lord, the way it works between the Father and Himself is that He is in the Father.  It’s Christ’s desire that we share this same degree of unity.  He wants us to be one in Him.

In my next post, we’ll see how this is accomplished.

Question: What would a church look like if it operated in true unity?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Warning for Teachers

Do you see yourself as a teacher in the body of Christ?  Did you know that Scripture has a special warning for teachers?

In this post, my last in the series about the teaching ministry, I have to share a hard message.  I don’t like talking about it, but I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to write about it.

In the last couple of posts, I talked about teachers being the eyes of the body of Christ.  According to Scripture, they bring light to the path ahead.  With that comes a warning that I already talked about.

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

In the church, teaching is not an unimportant thing.  We should not lightly say, “I’m a teacher.”  You’re inviting a stricter judgment.

But is that really the case, or was James trying to intimidate those wanted to teach out of wrong motives?  I believe that Jesus gave the same warning to His disciples.  The problem is that the Lord used an allegory that few believers understand.

In Mark, chapter 9, it all starts when the disciples tell Jesus that they saw someone driving out demons in the Lord’s name.  But, because he wasn’t one of the twelve, they told him to stop.

Jesus told the disciples that they were wrong in telling the man to stop driving out demons.  In His explanation, He said…

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.”
Mark 9:42

The phrase, causes…to sin, in this verse, literally means to trip up or entrap.  Sin always means to miss the mark of God’s perfect will.  Telling them something that trips them up in their Christian walk does cause them to sin.

Teaching something that was not directed by the Holy Spirit can trip people up in their walk with God.  This has to be an important part of the teacher’s mindset.  However, the Lord didn’t stop there.

Immediately after this, He says…

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…
Mark 9:47

First of all, no one’s eyes have ever caused them to sin.  I have definitely used my eyes to sin.  But they weren’t the cause.  I believe that Jesus knows this.

Secondly, according to this verse, only one eye is causing the sin.  How could your left eye cause you to sin, and not your right eye?  They both operate together.

I believe that Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical bodies.  He was explaining His attitude toward the members of His spiritual body; the church.

No members, especially teachers, can trip up one another without consequence.  This is why teachers must be especially careful to be led by the Holy Spirit in what they teach.

Question: How seriously should teachers be warned before entering this ministry?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Teacher – A Lamp

For the last couple of posts, I’ve been talking about teachers in the body of Christ.  I showed that true teachers bring light to our Christian walk.  In our generation there’s a lot of teaching from the Bible going forth; but is it directed by the Holy Spirit?

In His ministry, Jesus made some statements that the disciples couldn’t understand.  Many of them pertained to the church.  They would only understand them after the resurrection.

One of them pertained to the body.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body.  When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.”
Luke 11:34

I think you can agree that this is not talking about our internal organs being lit up.  The Lord is dealing with a deeper issue here.

To understand what Jesus is saying, you have to look at the greater context.  He starts this section by talking about the preaching of Jonah.  All of Nineveh repented when they heard his preaching.

The Lord then talks about King Solomon.  The Queen of the South came all the way from Central Africa to hear his wisdom.

Christ was showing the high value that people placed upon hearing a Word from God.  The people who heard Jonah and Solomon didn’t just want to know what the Bible said.  They were looking for something that would change their lives.

Look at the very next thing that Jesus says after explaining about Jonah and Solomon.

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
Luke 11:33

The reason that these two men were called to their roles, was not to simply enjoy their times with the Lord.  They were to use their gifts to bring light to those who needed it.

The people of Nineveh needed to understand repentance so that the judgment of God could be averted.  The Queen of the South needed to understand how to rule her people wisely.  They needed someone to light the path ahead of them.

That’s what Jesus is talking about when He says that the eyes are the lamp of the body.  I believe that He’s talking about the need for Holy Spirit directed teaching in the body of Christ.

We need to come back to this truth in our generation.  I believe that this is one of the things that God is trying to restore in us.

We can see it in the church of today.  There are ministries where the people know their place in Christ and are secure in their walk with God.  There are other parts of God’s kingdom where the believers seem to be doing as they please – simply living for themselves.

We need to be praying for the church.  Pray that God would continue to raise up teachers after His own heart.  We need the body of Christ to be full of light.

Question: Why is human-led teaching so accepted in some areas?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2018 in Anointing, Ministry, Revival, Word of God

 

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The Word Confirmed

This will be my final post dealing with the Gospel of Mark.  It closes with an important key to the power that was evident in the early church.

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.  Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:19-20

This verse literally says that the Lord was a co-worker with them.  They did their work – proclaiming the Word of God.  Then the Lord did His part – confirming the Word that was proclaimed.  Miracles were commonplace.  As the disciples went out, the Word of God spread, and there were signs and wonders everywhere they went.

Here’s the foundation for the power that was manifest through them.  The Bible says that when they went out, they preached the Word.  How do you see this in your mind’s eye?  What did they do, specifically?

Do you picture them walking into town, calling a meeting, and then saying, “Turn with me in your Bibles to John 3:16.”?  That’s how we do it; but did they preach that way?

If you know your history, then you understand that nothing could be further from the truth.  When this verse was written about them, they had no Bibles.  They couldn’t preach Scripture.

“Wait a minute, Pastor Nick, they had the Old Testament.  They could use that to preach.”

First of all, most Christians of that day only knew a smattering of Old Testament Scripture.  Secondly, they would have no access to an Old Testament “Bible”.

The Scripture was written on scrolls with painstaking detail.  In order to afford a copy of the Scriptures, you would need to be the equivalent of a multi-millionaire.  Then if you did purchase it, you would need a storage space the size of a small living room to house it.  Let’s face it; the normal Christian had no access to a Bible.

Yet, we’re told that they “preached the Word” wherever they went.  What is the Word that they preached?  The answer is simple – they preached what they received in their intimate times with the Lord.

As they did, an amazing thing happened.  The Lord began confirming what they had heard from Him.

I think that part of our problem is that we’ve become spoiled by an abundance of the availability of Scripture.  Bibles are everywhere.  I personally have about 20 Bibles.  That doesn’t even take into consideration all of the Bibles I have access to online.

Please understand what I’m saying.  This proliferation of Scripture is a great thing.  The availability and accessibility of the Bible to all people is a wonderful blessing.

You would think that with so much Scripture around, there would be more salvations, healings, and miracles.  Instead, what we see is a greater rise of worldliness – even among God’s people.

The problem is not that we need more Scripture.  What we do need is more of the Word of God.  The more I hear from God, the more power I have to live for God.

This is how Jesus, the Apostles, and the early church lived out their faith.  The Holy Spirit confirmed that they had heard from Him.  Signs, wonders, and miracles were common.  God’s people need to get back to that intimate place where they not only know the written Word but are also hearing a Word from the Lord, Himself.

Question: How would the face of Christianity change if a majority of believers were hearing from God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Word of God

 

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