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Tag Archives: discipleship

Light – The Blessing of Discipleship

We’re continuing to deal with the subject of parables in the Gospel of Mark.  One of the questions that many have is; why did Jesus speak in parables?  Why didn’t He simply state the truth in plain language?  That’s a good question.

The disciples wondered about it too.  Here’s a verse we looked at a few posts ago…

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those on the outside everything is said in parables…”
Mark 4:10-11

The word translated secret in this verse is a special word.  It refers to a mystery that you’re not privy to until you’ve joined the group.

Jesus is talking about the secret of the kingdom of God.  It’s something that you won’t understand until you’re actually a member of it.  Once you’re in the kingdom, you can handle the knowledge.

The Lord then went on to explain the parable of the sower.  We looked at that over the last few posts.  He then explains about the kingdom secrets.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed?  Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”
Mark 4:21-22

This question sounds like a no-brainer.  The very purpose of a light is to reveal what’s in the dark.  If you want to remain in darkness, then just don’t bring in the light.  There’s no sense in hiding it.

This statement by Jesus was supposed to be an encouragement to the disciples.  He wanted them to continue to ask questions about His teachings.  There were even times that the Lord asked them, “Do you understand what I just said?”

At that point in history, Jesus was the Light of the world.  He was the one revealing the things of the Father to those in Israel who would listen.

In essence, He was telling the disciples, “You have the light with you right now.  I’m here for a reason.  Let me reveal to you the things that may seem hidden.  I want you to know the secrets of the kingdom.”

The things that had been concealed for ages past were not meant to be kept secret forever.  It was time for those with the faith to trust the Messiah to hear these truths.

But it gets even better than that.  This is a Word to us as well.  Whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

That’s the job of the Holy Spirit in us.  He’s the One who teaches us all the things we need to understand in our walk with God.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

We don’t have to walk around in the dark.  We have the light of the Holy Spirit within us.  Time spent with the Spirit is time spent in the light.  Use this great blessing that we’ve been given.  Walk in the light of the Lord.

Question: What are some things that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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The Cross and Discipleship

ClassIn my last post I started talking about our view of the cross. Paul said that we need to preach the Good News without emptying the cross of its power. Jesus gave some pretty clear instructions to His disciples about it.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

The key assignment was to preach and make disciples. Disciples are those who have chosen to participate with God’s ongoing work of salvation in their lives. Then, they are to baptize those who believe this message.

The baptism is secondary to preaching and making disciples. What are we to preach? The Word of the cross. That’s what makes disciples.

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27

It’s clear that discipleship and the cross go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Unfortunately, we have a lack of disciples these days. Maybe it’s because we don’t preach the cross as we should.

I Corinthians 1:18 says that the Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing – literally, those who are being destroyed. There are many believers who are being destroyed because of our de-emphasis of the cross.

They are downtrodden, overcome by the world, and bound up by all kinds of sin and addictions. Our lives, homes, and marriages seem to have the same sicknesses as the world without Christ. The world no longer looks to the church for answers, because we don’t look much different than they do.

We wonder why we can’t get the victory. These verses make it obvious that without the life changing power of the cross, we’re fighting a losing battle. It’s time to turn this around and bring the victory in this area. We need to get back to the Biblical foundation for our lives.

We need to restore the Word of the cross. But, for some reason, we resist this work. We seem to have come to the conclusion that the cross is only for the unsaved. Why does Paul tell us that it’s foolishness to those who are being destroyed? Because the cross is for those who want to move on to maturity.

Literally, this verse tells us that the word of the cross is a manifestation of God’s power in His people. But it’s not for all. It’s the power of God to those of us who are continuing in the ongoing work of salvation in our lives. This is why we shrink from it. We don’t like the sound of the cross. When we think of the cross we think of humility, weakness and pain. Could this really be the road to power?

Jesus’ command to carry the cross is not a call for unbelievers to come to Him. It’s a radical command to follow Christ by giving up all other desires. To pick up the cross means to lay everything else down. To follow Christ means to ignore all other paths. This is a message that gets lost in our generation’s search to experience the best that the world has to offer.

I’m not talking about whether you’re saved or not. You can be saved and on your way to Heaven, yet ignore the call to the cross. It all comes down to discipleship.

Question: How do you define being a disciple of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Infant Sons

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we are saved, we’re adopted into God’s family as infants. We then need to grow into the full-fledged rights of sonship. I want to take a few posts to go through the growth stages that we find in the Scripture. We start our walk with God as infants.

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1

One of the main characteristics of an infant in Christ is worldliness. They run after the things that our society says will satisfy them. They have the same mindset as the world and place importance on obtaining things and pleasures.

Unfortunately, because we are unaware of the growth process, many overzealous believers will write these people off. Sometimes in our self-righteous fervor we may even accuse them of being unsaved. That’s as foolish as telling your 5-month old that he’s not a part of the family because he never takes out the trash. Instead of condemning them, we should be there to help guide them through the growth process.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Ephesians 4:14

Spiritual infants are inexperienced in the Word. Because of this, they’re very trusting of anyone quoting a Bible verse. They tend to jump in with any new fad that comes out on Christian radio or TV.

That’s why they need to be firmly grounded in a local church where the basics of the Scripture are taught. That’s the only way they can learn to distinguish truth from flakiness.

The United States has become a hotbed for new doctrines for people to follow. Sometimes I watch Christian cable networks. I see people who use the Scriptures to convince you to take money from your wallet and put it into theirs.

Even though their doctrines and teachings are foolish, out of context from the Scripture, and, many times, illogical, Christians flock to their meetings. They rake in millions of dollars a year. Spiritually speaking, they’re “stealing candy from babies.”

But, more than anything else, the infant stage of our walk with God is characterized by the following…

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Hebrews 5:13

The word acquainted in this verse literally means to test, attempt, or experience. This verse says that the infant believer has not yet tested, attempted or experienced the Word of righteousness. Yes, they are righteous by position in Christ. But they haven’t yet learned how to apply it to their daily walk.

So many American believers are living for themselves, yet they feel secure because they only know about positional righteousness.  When they read the Bible, or hear a sermon about the effects and blessings of righteousness, they think it automatically applies to them.   Little do they realize that so much of Scripture deals with the walk of righteousness rather than the position.

Because of the lack of teaching on the Word of Righteousness we have produced a generation of Christians who seem to be perpetual infants. They are continuing in their habits and sins. They follow after whatever the world offers them. Worst of all, they don’t realize their condition – total powerlessness in the spiritual realm.

It’s time for us to grow up in Christ.

Question: How do you treat the infant believers that are in your circle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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Discipleship – The Cost and the Glory #discipleship

Jet Plane to NowhereI’ve been posting about discipleship.  How far are you willing to go to follow Christ?  The Lord doesn’t make it sound very convenient.

In my last post we saw that Christ said it involved picking up your cross and following Him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

Most people get tripped up by this verse because they don’t understand the usage of the word hate in the Scripture.  This word has no emotional attachment to it.  It’s just like the word agape, used to convey the idea of love.  Hate is a choice rather than an emotion.

This word hate means a choice to not participate with.  There are times when being a disciple of Christ means that you choose not to participate in every family event.  Maybe it’s a baby shower or a graduation party that’s held on a Sunday morning.

Christ is saying that if you choose to participate with your family over the Lord, then it shows that you’re not a disciple.  You might be a believer who loves God.  But you have yet to choose the high road of discipleship.

Following Christ can be very inconvenient at times.  However, if you want the same results as Christ, you must live as He does.

Jesus also makes the point that we must count the cost of discipleship.

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:33

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple.  The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become.  But there is a bright side.  The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I am nothing else but a disciple.  It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life.  There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you.  When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.  Your life shows the fruit of the spirit.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in.  God is at work in you.  That’s the ultimate goal.  Living as a disciple shows God’s glory.

It’s that glory that will draw others to Christ.  This is what the Christian walk is all about.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Power of God, Revival

 

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Do You have Room for the Word? #discipleship

WeedsIn my last post I talked about what Jesus said that it means to be His disciple in John, chapter 8.  It requires us to remain in His Word.  Our response to this truth is an issue today.

Even though Jesus was speaking to those who believed in Him, their response was surprising.  They were offended that He said they needed to be set free.

“We’ve never been a slave to anything or anyone.”

“You’ve gone too far, Jesus.”

“I know you are Abraham’s descendants.  Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.”
John 8:37

Jesus knew that they were believers.  The problem was that they had no admittance, pass, designated space for His Word.  Because they wanted to justify themselves, their minds rejected what Christ was telling them.  Later in His teaching, Jesus explained why this happened.

Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.
John 8:43

He literally said that it was because they did not have the power to hear my logos.  In order to let the Word of God work its change in our lives, we need to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul even wrote about it.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

It’s the Holy Spirit who helps us to hear God’s Word.  But don’t get the idea that it’s an easy thing.  The state of the modern church, pastors included – proves just the opposite.  Think about what Christ taught concerning the difficulties involved in discipleship.

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27

That doesn’t sound very convenient.  Picking up something that points to the death of my flesh.  Then, as if that’s not enough, I have to watch closely to where Christ is moving, and follow in His footsteps.

It’s no wonder that in the current version of Christianity, we use the word “disciple” to mean anyone who has received salvation.  We need to get back to the radical discipleship that Jesus taught.

In my next post I’ll talk about just how inconvenient this is.

Question: How far are you willing to be inconvenienced for Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Ministry, Revival, Word of God

 

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What does it take to be a Disciple? #discipleship

ClassGod wants us to walk in the full rights of sonship as His children.  This means that we’re walking in the authority and responsibility that comes with it.  To get to that point, we must undergo the process of discipleship.  What does that mean?

At one point in His ministry, Jesus was speaking to a crowd about why He came to the earth.

Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
John 8:30

This was a good response.  There were believers sprinkled through the crowd, listening to His every word.  They were the ones that the Lord was focusing on as He continued.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

Talking specifically to those that believed, He explained that faith is not the goal.  It’s merely the beginning of the journey.

Here in America we’ve gone through the “Faith Movement”.  Regardless of how you feel about it, this movement changed the entire face of the church.  But there’s still more that God wants to do in us.

What comes next is that little word that changes everything. IF!  Its conditional – “If you live, remain, dwell in my Word…”

The next step after faith is to live in God’s Word.  Its living in the Word that makes you a disciple.  There’s a difference in Scripture between believers and disciples.

When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become a believer.  The Holy Spirit takes up residence in you and you’re on your way to heaven.  Becoming a disciple is a whole other choice.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
John 15:1-3

This is the result of discipleship.  Once we know the truth – by remaining in His Word – we are set free from sin by that Word.

This is the foundation for all that we do in Christ.  It’s by the Word that the power of God is manifest in us.  What I’m talking about is the Word you hear as you’re intimate with Christ.

That’s how Jesus operated.  By remaining in the Father’s Word, He had 100% results.  The Lord could heal, walk on water, calm a storm, raise the dead, or feed five thousand.  All this because He remained in the Word He heard from the Father.

Question: What will it take for us to walk in this level of discipleship?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Faith, Revival, Word of God

 

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