RSS

Tag Archives: death

Salvation – The Whole Truth

Cross SunsetPraise God for our salvation in Christ Jesus! But have you ever stopped to think about exactly what happened when you were saved?

There are many believers who don’t really understand what happened to them when they bowed their knees to Christ. I want to take a few posts to look at our salvation in detail.

What is our salvation all about? To some it simply means that they decided to be good. To others it means that they’re going to try and follow the teachings of Jesus. That is NOT Christianity.

It all starts with an understanding of our condition without Christ.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Romans 3:23

Our problem is sin. You probably already know that the word sin, in both the Greek and Hebrew, means to miss the mark. That means that we’re all deficient, inferior to, God’s glory. Even though we were created in the image of God, in Adam we’ve fallen from that high position.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you were born, or how good you are. In Adam, the whole human race is guilty of sin – missing the mark. But as bad as that is, it gets worse.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…
Romans 5:12

It turns out that sin brought a friend with him – death – separation from God. Who is under the penalty of death? EVERYONE! Death is the penalty for not living up to the glory of God.

You can look at it this way; every human being ever born was born onto the path that leads to death. There’s no reversing it, no exits, do not pass go, and it leads straight to hell. But, praise God, that’s not the end of the story.

Christ came to the earth as a man, God made flesh. He took on humanity, but lived a life totally without sin.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

Because it was He who created us, we came from Him, only He had the power to take our place. That’s the concept of substitution. He took our place on the cross in the penalty for our sin.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus Christ took our sin to the cross and paid the price for it. Then He sealed it by rising from the dead.

Now we come along, thousands of years later, on this path that leads to death. We can’t leave it or even turn around. We hear the Gospel of Christ. We decide to accept what Christ did for us by faith.

That’s when everything changed. In my next post I’ll talk about exactly what happened in the spirit on the day you trusted Christ.

Question: What were the events that led to your salvation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 30, 2016 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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

Forgiveness – God’s Greatest Idea

heart CrossForgiven – I keep coming back to this word. Each time I do; I realize I know less and less about it. Forgiveness is tied to so many things in the Scripture. Debts, healing, relationships, redemption, blessings, etc.

I’m convinced that as believers, we need an understanding of the forgiveness of God. Not only that, but we also need to understand how He calls us to forgive others – and ourselves.

Even defining forgiveness is a hard thing to do. It seems that this generation has lost the understanding. Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary has 4 definitions. What I found is that the first two, and last, line up with the Scripture. The third is how we define it in practice. I want to take a few posts to talk about the concept of forgiveness.

The third definition says, “To cease to blame or feel resentment against.” I think that this is the way our modern society looks at it. It’s kind of like a get out of jail free card. When someone reminds us of the past, we say, “I thought you forgave me for that?”

Remember, as Christians we’re not a part of this world system. We shouldn’t act or think the way the world does. Our understanding of things should be higher than the way society thinks.

Forgiveness is one of those areas. Of all people, Christians should understand forgiveness more than anyone else. The big question is; what exactly is forgiveness?

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Luke 5:20-21

Let’s be fair with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. If you study the Old Testament, you make a very important discovery. The word forgive is only used by God. That can only lead to one conclusion.

Forgiveness is God’s idea.

So if that’s true, then the only definition that matters is God’s definition.

Please understand, the command to forgive is a New Covenant truth. But nowhere in the Old Testament is there a command for people to forgive each other. Why? Because forgiveness is more than just feeling better about someone.

That brings me to the first definition that I found in Webster’s Dictionary.

“To cease to demand the penalty for, to pardon.”

The simple fact is that we all sin. We all miss the mark of who God wants us to be. With that comes a penalty.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

The penalty for sin is death. How can a human being have the ability to forgive? It would be absolutely impossible. That’s because forgiveness of sin requires a penalty to be paid.

That’s why the only time we see forgiveness in the Old Testament is in relation to the sacrifices.

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Hebrews 9:22

Forgiveness only comes when the penalty is removed. That’s the only time God can “cease to demand the penalty for” what we’ve done wrong.

It’s a spiritual truth that forgiveness is only purchased by blood. There had to be a substitute to pay the penalty. Under the Old Covenant it was an animal.

Praise God for what Jesus Christ did on the cross. I can now walk confidently in the forgiveness of God. Christ could forgive us, because He was took the penalty of all our sins on Himself.

Question: How does God’s forgiveness change your outlook on life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Encouragement, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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

The Resurrection – Our Great Hope

GravesI believe in the soon return of Jesus Christ. As I see what’s happening all around us, it looks like we should be working to bring in the end-time harvest of souls. I want to take a couple of posts to talk about what Paul wrote concerning the Second Coming in his first epistle to the Thessalonians.

First Thessalonians was written because Paul went there, evangelized that area, and then had to leave quickly. We learn in the Book of Acts that persecution broke out, and the people of that region threatened to kill Paul. The church sent him out of the city very quickly.

Because of this, he didn’t have time to really establish their church the way he usually did. When things started to calm down, he began to worry about them. He was afraid that they were not grounded well enough and that they were in danger of quickly falling away.

Paul sent his spiritual son, Timothy to check in with them and see how they were doing. When Timothy came back, his report was better than Paul could have hoped for.

The church was doing great. They were established in the Lord. They weathered the persecution and they were growing in grace and in the power of the Spirit. Paul then wrote this letter to thank God and encourage their church to continue on in the faith.

When Timothy got back to Paul, he also brought some questions that the church had asked during his visit. Paul sent the answer to these in his letter as well.

One of the questions they asked was this: When Christians die, does that mean they’re going to miss out on the Second Coming of Christ? That’s a good question. Another thing they asked was; when are all of these things going to happen? When is the END OF THE AGE going to take place?

The first question he answers is about those who die in the Lord, and whether or not they miss out on the coming of Christ.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
I Thessalonians 4:13

Please realize that the term ignorant was not being used in a bad sense. Paul means that he did not want them to be without knowledge. He did not want them to be lacking in their teaching on the Lord.

He also uses the term fall asleep. The early church used this to signify that someone was dead. They realized that when a believer dies, they don’t cease to exist but rather enter the presence of the Lord. Their body, however, looks like it’s sleeping.

They would say, “Brother John fell asleep” as a nice way of saying that he died. So in effect, Paul is giving them more godly information on those who die in Christ.

His first instruction to them is that they’re not to grieve as the world does. We are not to act as people who don’t have any hope. We have an eternal hope.

We know about the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day. Because of this knowledge, funerals don’t hold the same fear over us that the rest of the world has. We shouldn’t act like we’re never going to see the departed Christian again.

Yes, I realize that there’s a parting process. You’re not going to see that person for a long time – so there’s going to be that kind of grief. But don’t grieve as if you’ve lost them forever. Don’t mourn like somebody who has no hope.

Question: How should our future hope affect the believer’s view of death?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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

Have You Been Taken By God?

PowerlessThere are some important truths that we can learn from the life of the patriarch, Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5

This verse says that it was by faith that Enoch was taken. Faith is always a choice. It’s the decision to accept and believe something that I have come to understand about God.

We must choose to be taken by God. This is the first and most important choice of the any believer. As Christians, we have accepted the sacrifice of Christ. But very quickly after salvation it becomes obvious that God wants more than just a prayer and an offering.

This is what it means to be a living sacrifice. The Lord says to each one of us, “I want you. I have a purpose and a plan for your life.”

The Scripture says that Enoch was transported so that he did not see death. It’s clear that God doesn’t want us to see death at work in our lives.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

Jesus Christ has brought us over from death to life. The problem is that sometimes, because of our flesh, we’re more comfortable with death. We allow things into our lives that are killing us.

There was a prerequisite to what Enoch experienced. Before he was taken, he was well-pleasing to God. This is one of our greatest blessings in Christ – the fact that today we can be pleasing to God. That’s why the writer talks about it in the next verse.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

This verse literally says that apart from faith you are powerless to please God. You can try to work to please God – but you’re powerless to accomplish it. The only thing to do is to choose to believe He exists, and then earnestly seek Him as the Rewarder of your life.

It is only because of these two choices that the Lord of the universe is well pleased with you. It’s because of your faith that He wants to take you as His own – if you’ll let Him. His desire is to transport you from death to life.

Just like with Enoch, God takes you out of your old life and brings you to a new place of blessing. In my next post I’ll talk about exactly where the Lord transports you to.

Question: Why is it important to know that my works have nothing to do with being pleasing to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Faith, Power of God

 

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

How Saved are You?

CrossAs I think about Resurrection Sunday coming up this weekend, I want to talk about our salvation. It seems like we hear about it so often that it loses its appeal. It’s so important that we keep what God has done for us fresh in our hearts.

In this series, I’m not going to give you a detailed theology of Biblical salvation. Rather, I want to talk about some important aspects that we’ve glossed over in the modern church. The saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ is so rich and powerful, yet in many Christian circles we’ve reduced it to only a fraction of God’s desire.

There’s a tendency in the evangelical church to use this word in the past tense.

“I’ve been saved. Are you saved?”

“When did you get saved?”

Statements like these relegate our salvation to an event that happened sometime in the past. It was a great thing. It changed my life. But now it’s something I can look back on. This is the furthest thing imaginable for the true definition of our salvation.

The Greek word sozo is what’s normally translated as saved in our English Bibles. It is a huge word that’s crammed full of meaning.

To enter into sozo means that you’re not only saved, but kept safe and sound, and are rescued from danger and destruction. Also included in that word is the fact that you’re saved from disease, healed, and restored to health. It applies to both the physical and spiritual realms.

The word saved includes the entire scope of everything that Christ paid for on the cross. It contains the answers for our past, present and future. To see it as anything less is an affront to the Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at what the Scripture has to say about it. We’ll start with our entrance into this great work of God.

…That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Romans 10:9-10

This is the only way possible to enter into the salvation of God. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to God apart from His work on the cross. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the only door to our salvation.

In this sense we can look back at the initial work of God’s saving power in our lives. It was the day we heard and understood the Good News. We learned that we were incapable of pleasing a Holy God. Yet, because of the work of Christ, His Son, we could be saved.

We believed the message in our hearts. Then, in an outward response to that faith, we confessed with our mouth that Jesus Christ was Lord.

It doesn’t matter the semantics you used. Whether you say that you received Jesus or prayed the sinner’s prayer. If you bowed your knees to Christ in the above manner, you entered into the salvation of the Lord.

It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from. Your good works or your evil past had no bearing on what God did in you. When you called upon Him, you were saved.

Question: What were the events surrounding your initial salvation experience?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Faith, The Gospel

 

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

Alive to God! #prayerinthespirit

Garden PathIn my last post I showed that God’s definition of death is an inability to communicate.  In the same way, Adam didn’t die according to our modern definition.  He died in God’s definition.

From that point on God could no longer fellowship with Adam and Eve on the level He desired.

God wanted an interaction in the spirit, but this was no longer possible because of sin.  Therefore, to God, Adam and Eve were dead.  God could no longer communicate to them on the level of the spirit.  He would now have to use other means.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8

Notice the wording that’s used here.  The man and the wife heard the sound of God.  This is the first place in Scripture where it specifically says that God made a sound.

This is emphasized because Adam and Eve had never before heard with their ears, God making a sound.  Before that, they always communicated by the spirit.  This new experience inspired fear.

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Genesis 3:10

We can hear it from Adam’s own mouth.  The two things that caused fear in him were hearing God, and seeing his nakedness.  At that point, as a race of people, mankind was cut off from spiritual communication with God.

Please understand, our spirits are still active.  This is how mediums, witch doctors, and spiritists can communicate with familiar spirits.  They can still interact in the spiritual realm, they just don’t understand the dangers of this practice.

As far as communication with God is concerned, mankind’s spirits can not talk to God because of sin.  After the fall, God could only communicate to man by very limited means. God could speak bodily, through angels, a donkey, a voice, or by taking on flesh.  He could speak inwardly, directly to our mind.  He could also “move upon” someone, which literally means that He “put them on like clothes” and spoke through them.

This was the sad condition of the human race until Christ came on the scene.  He really was “God with us”.  The Gospels record the work He did for us on the cross.  Because of His death, burial, and resurrection we can now enter into a salvation that we could never experience in our own strength.

Now, if we receive His great gift, the Holy Spirit takes up residence on the inside of us.  This means that communication lines are open once again between us and the Lord.  According to God’s definition, we are now alive to Him.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Romans 8:10

It’s clear from Scripture that your spirit is now alive to God!!!

Question: How important to you, is the knowledge that God’s Holy Spirit lives in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit

 

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

Death – A God’s Eye View #prayerinthespirit

GravesIn my last post, I talked about the three parts of our being – body, soul, and spirit.  Knowing all of this, let’s move on to an understanding of just how our spirit operates.  To do this we must go back to the beginning when man was first created.

There are a few basic things that I have no Scripture for, but I have to take on faith, knowing what the Word of God infers.  First, I believe what Jesus said – that God desires true worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Second, I believe that God created Adam to be absolutely perfect and that in this perfect state Adam communicated with God the way God wanted him to.  Because of these two beliefs I infer that Adam, in his perfect state, did not communicate with God using his flesh.

All of the interaction between God and Adam took place in the realm of the spirit.  I also believe, if you will stick with me for a moment, that the Scripture will bear this out.

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Genesis 2:16-17

When I read this passage, I see Adam hearing in his spirit the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He was warned that if he did ever eat it he would surely, definitely, absolutely, DIE.  My problem was this – when Adam ate from the tree, he didn’t die.  At least he didn’t die according to our modern society’s concept of death.

What I found was that we don’t understand what God means when He uses the word death.  We usually only see it from the earthly standpoint.  Just because our body stops functioning does not constitute death to God.

We are told in the letter to the Romans to “Count yourself dead to sin” (Romans 6:11).  Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (II Cor. 5:8)  This tells me that when my body stops working, I merely change residences.

To understand the events in the Garden, I need to know what God means when He uses the word death.  A careful study of the Word will prove that when God says that someone has died, it means that communication has stopped.  There is no longer any capability to interact with that person.

That’s why, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father said, “My son was dead, but now is alive.” (Luke 15:24)  The prodigal was not physically dead, but the father could not communicate with him.  So, to the father, he was dead.

Even among Christians we’re told not to grieve like the world that has no hope.  We understand that when we attend the funeral of a fellow believer, the parting is only temporary.  Why do Christians grieve?  Because of a temporary loss of fellowship.

This concept is important to our subject.  In my next post, I’ll apply it to Adam’s situation.

Question: How does this view of death explain sin’s affect upon us?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,