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When is the Gospel not the Gospel?

Good NewsIt’s always important 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 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.

What’s power? 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 that we meant that we were stirred emotionally or felt goose bumps.

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 will it take for us to spend quality time listening to the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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The Place of Signs and Miracles

One WayI believe that signs and miracles are a part of the true Gospel.  Without them, it’s difficult to impact the unbeliever.

The Apostle Paul refers to this truth throughout his writings.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

Paul tells us how he led the Gentiles to obey God by announcing the Gospel and making disciples.  Notice, that he accomplished this by what he SAID and DID.  It was through the power of signs and miracles.  The difference between a sign and a miracle is that a sign is a miracle that confirms what you say about God.

The key issue is that by operating in this way, Paul fully proclaimed the gospel.  I believe that just talking about Christ is not the whole Gospel.  The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God is “not a matter of talk but of power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

Last week I asked, what is it about the Gospel that we’re ashamed of ?  I used some illustrations.  If I won a new car I would call you over to look at it.  If I got a promotion at work, I would immediately show you my new business cards.  How is that different from the spiritual Good News?

I believe it’s because we have reduced the Gospel to clichés.  “Jesus loves you.”  “Jesus wants to bless you.”  “God loves you and I do too.”

The problem is that there’s no demonstration.  It’s not like the new car or the promotion at work because I offer you no proof of what I’m saying.

Based upon Scripture, if there’s no demonstration, then there’s no Gospel.  Many are ashamed because all they can do is tell about Jesus.  Some can’t even see the proof in their own lives because of the lack of power.  It makes many believers feel like charlatans when they share the Good News.

It seems we’ve lost the original Good News.  We don’t understand the power of God and we don’t understand the Gospel. The two go hand in hand.

Without the Good News, there’s no need for the demonstration of power.  Some American Christians want the power without proclaiming the Good News.  The fact is, that without the message of the Gospel there’s no need to demonstrate healing, prosperity, joy, freedom from depression, or anything else the Lord has provided for us through the cross.  I’m striving to spur the church on to get hungry to experience the full Gospel.

That’s why Paul could say that he had fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ.  Not only did he tell about Christ, but he also demonstrated the love and power of the Lord.

Question: How can we return to the true Gospel?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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How We Water Down the Gospel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo we proclaim the same Gospel as the early church did?   Is there something missing from our experience that would make a big difference?  I believe that we’re lacking one of the greatest aspects of the Gospel.  We need to return to this truth if we’re going to impact our generation for Christ.

In my last post I talked about the need to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  In today’s post I want to explain exactly what that means.  Here’s one of the verses I looked at last time.

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

I have heard people explain this verse by saying, “The hearers were convicted by the Holy Spirit.  That’s the power Paul’s talking about.”  I simply can’t agree with that kind of thinking.  Paul said that the Gospel came to them with power AND the Holy Spirit, AND deep conviction.

Even the very word conviction that Paul used was a Greek word that means many assurances.  It was something that could be seen and experienced by the unbelievers receiving the Good News.

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.  It is beyond our human ability to walk on that level if we rely upon our own strength, wisdom, and knowledge.

I fear that too many Christians allow their faith to rest on man’s wisdom, because they have never seen a demonstration of the power of God.  There are so many believers that have never seen a healing or a miracle.  They have never heard an anointed prophecy or someone speaking in the heavenly language.  There are Christians that have never witnessed someone delivered from demonic possession or oppression.

As a result the Good News, in most cases, has merely become an intellectual debate.  On many occasions, what we call the Gospel today, is void of any power to change the direction of a life impacted by it.

The church needs to do what it takes to once again walk in this life-changing power.  In short – we need revival.  We must admit that we’ve lost something along the way and allow the Lord to make the necessary adjustments.

Questions: Do you think the modern “American Gospel” has the same impact as the early church?  If not, what must we do to change?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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