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The Seat of Judgment

One of the future events that Christians don’t like to talk about is the Judgment Seat of Christ.  I’m referring to the final judgment that will send the enemy’s kingdom, as well as the unsaved, to an eternity in the lake of fire.

This is not something that believers need to worry about.  Our sins have been washed in the blood of Christ.  God has tossed them into the sea of forgetfulness – as far as the east is from the west.  I don’t have to fret over my future in God’s kingdom.

But does this mean that I don’t have to prepare for this judgment?  It turns out that there are a couple of aspects of this trial that most believers are unaware of.  The knowledge of these could spur you on to a deeper walk with the Lord.

Paul talks about them as he continues in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s upset with them for taking each other to court.

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?  Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
1 Corinthians 6:1-2

This is a huge revelation to most Christians.  We’re going to be on the judge’s bench with Christ while the world is being judged.  This goes right along with Ephesians 2:6, that verse tells us God has seated us with Christ in heavenly places.

But wait; before you get too happy about it – think about the ramifications.  That means that you’ll judge your next door neighbor who never heard the Gospel from you.  You’ll also judge your co-workers that you didn’t want to offend by mentioning your walk with God.

For many believers, this judgment will be one of the most traumatic and sorrowful events of their lives.  There will be untold weeping.  How do I know this?  There’s another section of Scripture that people don’t put together.

The last paragraph of Revelation, chapter 20, describes the final judgment that Paul is referring to in this verse.  It’s immediately after this, in the first paragraph of Revelation, chapter 21, that God wipes all the tears away from our eyes.  I believe that if God didn’t comfort us, we would weep for all eternity over what we just experienced at the judgment.

I can’t even imagine the pain of having a family member or close acquaintance coming before me that day and asking, “Why didn’t you ever warn me about this place?”  It’s not something that any Christian would want to experience.

This will be a sorrowful time for all of us.  However, we should be doing everything in our power to warn those around us.  We should want to keep as many people as possible away from this judgment.

Don’t be taken by surprise at this trial.  Prepare now to judge as few people as possible.  Let everyone in your sphere of influence know about your life in Christ.

Question: How have you given testimony of the work of Christ in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 8, 2019 in Ministry, Missions, The Gospel

 

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Higher Wisdom

We’ve been looking at the message preached by the Apostle Paul.  It was a Gospel of power.  It could totally change the lives of those who heard it.

This message was all based upon the wisdom of God.  He explains it further.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8

The first thing I see is that the message of God’s wisdom is for the mature.  It’s not a basic instruction.  There are things that you need to be taught when you’re first saved.  These foundational teachings will give you the ability to understand the greater wisdom of God.

That’s because we’ve spent our whole lives before salvation learning and operating in the “wisdom of this age”.  God’s wisdom is on a whole other level.  So much so, that those versed in the world’s wisdom can’t even understand it.

According to Scripture, the greatest wisdom of this age will only bring you to uselessness.  That’s what the phrase means that’s translated coming to nothing.

On the other hand, I like the results of God’s wisdom.  God destined His wisdom for our glory.  That word means that you have respect – that what you say and do has weight and value.

I think that much of this glory is missing from the church these days.  Could it be that we’re trying to use the world’s wisdom instead of God’s?  It’s the difference between uselessness and glory.

Paul uses the crucifixion of Christ as an illustration.  It was a part of God’s wisdom.  The world can’t fathom it…dying on a cross as the road to victory.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:17-18

When I watch a movie for the first time, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I’m in suspense when something bad happens to the hero.  Sometimes they’ll do something I don’t understand.

Then, I wonder how the hero could possibly survive.  But as the movie progresses, I find out that everything he did was part of a plan to bring down the villain.

If I liked the movie, I may watch it again.  But this time I know what’s going to happen.  I’m not in suspense.  I’m actually happy when I see the hero going into danger because I know how it’s going to turn out.

That’s what knowing the wisdom of God should do for us.  We’ve seen the movie before.  What Jesus did on the cross was a carefully planned, strategic attack on the enemy.  He wasn’t taken by surprise.

In that one move, Jesus Christ took down the entire kingdom of sin that was holding us captive. We’re now free to serve God without fear or condemnation.  All because of what happened through the wisdom of God.

So when I look back at the events of 2000 or so years ago, I’m not sad.  As a matter of fact, I have a sly smile.  Because I know that even though it looked bad, three days later it all turned around.  And that’s something to rejoice about!

God wants to do that same thing in us.  But first, we must grasp the wisdom of God.  The big question is; how?  In my next post, we’ll see how Paul begins to explain that to us.

Question: What would it look like if the whole church walked in the wisdom of God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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To Be Continued…

In my last post, we saw how Paul encouraged the Thessalonian church to remember the way the Gospel was passed down to them.  He now wants them to think about others in need of the truth of Christ.

Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.
2 Thessalonians 3:1

The apostle asks the church to pray for a couple of things.  The first is that the Word of Christ may advance quickly.  He not only wants it to run forward, but to be honored by those who hear it.

That should be our prayer as well.  It’s wonderful that I heard and honored the Word.  I’m saved because of it.  But for me, it shouldn’t end there.  Others need to hear that same life-changing Word.

Paul goes on with his request.

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.  But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.  We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command.  May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
2 Thessalonians 3:2-5

These two prayers must go hand in hand.  The spreading of the Gospel message, and the protection of those who are bringing it.

Whenever the Word of Christ is preached, there are always two responses.  Some will have faith to believe it.  But there may also be those who oppose it – sometimes violently.

Of course, in our generation, there are those who have gone in a different direction.  There are some who have watered down the message so there will be little chance of persecution.

In Paul’s mind, the number one goal was the spreading and advancement of the Gospel.  Then he would trust God for his personal safety.

In our society it’s different.  Many have set their first goal as the advancement of their own comfort, entertainment, and wealth.  Then, if they have any free time, they can do something for Christ – as long as it doesn’t negatively affect their status in the world.

We need to change our thinking.  We must get back to the original message of the Gospel.  We don’t go out of our way to offend others, but the truth of God’s Word must be our priority.

Then, we’ll find out the truth of Paul’s prayer request.  We pray that the Word of Christ will spread and increase.  We pray that many will accept it.  And we pray that those who deliver it will have God’s divine protection.

Question: Do you see any differences between the way the Gospel spread in the early church and how it spreads in our present experience?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Reporting the Good News

After Jesus rose from the dead, He told His disciples what they were to do going forward.  This commission was passed down to us since it was never completed.  I believe that in the Last Days, before the return of Christ, we’ll see the work finished.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
Mark 16:15

The first thing I see is the word “go”.  It’s a word that means to travel.  This is not a passive calling.

Too many believers think that their job is to operate a building.  They make sure that it has some sort of program on the weekend.  They feel that if they make this as entertaining and accessible as possible, people will come and hear the Gospel.  That’s not what Christ told us to do.

Please understand what I’m saying.  I’m not saying that there should be no churches.  What I am advocating is that most ministry should take place outside of the church building, all week long.

We were never called to attract the world, but to go into it.  The world itself is an important concept.  Jesus wasn’t talking about the planet earth.  The word that He used refers to the world system.

We are called to go into every organized system of the world.  That means there needs to be a Christian presence in government, education, sports, entertainment, the workplace, and any other environment you can think of.

Of course, there’s another word in this sentence that we have to deal with.  It’s what keeps many from sharing about Christ.  That’s the word, preach.

“It’s the preacher’s job to win the lost.  I can’t preach.  I’m not a pastor or an evangelist.  That’s someone else’s job.”

I don’t believe that this word means to preach like we think about it in our modern church culture.  The word means to be a herald.  Then again, we don’t have heralds in our society anymore.  The closest thing we have is a news reporter.

A reporter finds out what’s happening that’s important for people to know.  Then they bring it to the attention of the public.  At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

That’s our job as followers of Christ in this society.  God has accomplished something very important – the opening of salvation to all people.  We have witnessed this work being done in our lives.  Now we need to “report” this Good News to those around us.

“But I’m afraid that they won’t believe me.”

What they do with the message is not on you.

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Mark 16:16

We’re not called to make people believe or to get people saved.  We’re simply told to report this Good News to all those within our sphere of influence.  What they do with this message is up to them.

If they believe it, then we can show them how to become a part of God’s family.  If they don’t, then we continue to love them, pray for them, and hope that their heart will open up before it’s too late.

We all have a part to play in bringing the Gospel message to the world.  There are people who will never hear about what Christ has done for them unless you bring them this Good News.

Don’t let your part of the world remain in darkness.  Be a faithful reporter of what God has done.

Question: What have you done to bring the Good News of Christ to your world?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Ministry, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Sowers and Reapers (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

At one time I did a series of posts about Jesus’ view of His ministry.  To see the original series, click here.

It occurred after Jesus had talked with the woman at the well.  The Lord told His disciples that He had food they didn’t know about. He was talking about finishing the Father’s will.

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
John 4:35-36

In the natural, you can tell when the harvest is coming. You can tell how ripe the wheat is just by looking at it.

In the same way, there should be a spiritual sensitivity to when hearts are ready. It should be just as obvious to us that someone is ready to hear and receive the message of Christ.

One question that needs to be asked when we read this verse is; who is the reaper that’s receiving his wages? The answer should be obvious – it’s Christ!

The Apostle Paul talked about some of the same things.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
1 Corinthians 3:5-8

Usually, we think of this reward for our labor as future. But we need to remember what Jesus said. The reaper IS RECEIVING His wages. I HAVE food you don’t know about. The sower and the reaper can be happy together.

It sounds to me like there’s a reward in this life for fulfilling the Lord’s will. That’s something we need to think about.

Who was the sower that Jesus referenced? I believe that He was talking about the woman. Listen to what the townspeople said about her.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
John 4:39

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John 4:42

What was her reward? I don’t really know. It might have been children or a stable family of her own. We have to wait to find out about her in Heaven.

Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
John 4:37-38

Which is harder – sowing or reaping? I think that it might be the sowing. Especially if we don’t see the fruit of the seed we plant into someone. Sometimes a soul that we spoke the Gospel to is brought into the Kingdom by someone else.

There’s no need to get jealous about it. It’s the Kingdom of God that’s increasing. Everything in our lives is all directly related to the principle of sowing and reaping.

The bottom line is that the Samaritans ultimately believed because they heard Jesus speak. It’s our job to bring people to a personal encounter with Christ. That’s where we receive great rewards.

Question: What are some Gospel seeds you have planted?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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One Witness Can Change a Community

We are continuing in our study of the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus is going from place to place sharing the Good News and the power of God.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.  There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
Mark 7:31-32

On the surface, this seems like something that happened wherever Jesus went.  People were always asking Him to heal their sick.  But if you’ve been following this blog, you know that this is a special case.

This is not the first time the Lord has been to the region of the Decapolis.  The first time was recorded in Mark chapter 5, verses 1-20.

It seems that the people of this region do a lot of begging.  They begged Jesus to heal this deaf man.  During their first encounter with Christ, it was a different story.

In chapter 5, the Lord and His disciples met a demon-possessed man in a graveyard.  He was taken over by a legion of demons.  Jesus cast the demons out and they entered a herd of pigs.  Immediately, the pigs ran into the lake and drowned themselves.

When the people of the area saw what happened, they begged Jesus to leave.  As He was going, the delivered man begged Jesus to take him with the disciples.  Instead, the Lord told the man to stay and tell what had happened to him.

Now, some time has passed.  On the basis of one man’s testimony, the spiritual climate of the area had changed.  Instead of asking Jesus to leave, they wanted Him to minister there.

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears.  Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”).  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Mark 7:33-35

The Lord graciously brought healing to this man.  It doesn’t talk about it in the passage, but I’m sure that the Good News of the Messiah was proclaimed throughout that whole region.

Then, as He’s leaving, the Lord gives different instructions.

Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone.  But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.  People were overwhelmed with amazement.  “He has done everything well,” they said.  “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:36-37

What a turnaround.  Instead of hostility to Christ, they are now amazed at who He is.  Now they all have the testimony that the Lord does all things well.

This all happened because one man did what the Lord called him to do.  He gave testimony to God’s work in his life.

Never get discouraged about the darkness around you.  Remember that one person’s testimony for Christ can change everything.

Heed the words that the Lord originally told this man in chapter 5.  “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Question: How has Christ shown His love to you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Healing, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Attitudes of Pharisees

In my last post, we saw that Jesus proved, in a very powerful way, that He could remove sin in all of its forms.  As we continue in the Gospel of Mark, this ministry of Christ becomes clearer.

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.  A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them.  As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth.  “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Mark 2:13-14

In this passage, we see the Lord calling a new disciple – Levi.  I believe that this was his given name.  Later on, he’s called Matthew.  That’s probably the name Jesus gave to him.  It means the gift of God.

Remember, Jesus did this with a few of His disciples.  The Lord called Simon, Peter.  James and John became the sons of thunder.

But there’s an interesting point to this.  Both the name Levi and Matthew were strongly Levitical names.  That probably means that Levi was from the tribe of Levi.  He should have been training for the priesthood.  Instead, he was collecting taxes for the Roman conquerors.

Jesus had been teaching in the area.  Undoubtedly, Levi listened to Him and it spoke to his heart.  There’s no other reason why he would leave his lucrative position immediately when the Lord called.

Levi threw a dinner party to introduce Jesus to his friends and co-workers.  The Pharisees who were watching weren’t too happy about it.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Mark 2:15-16

You have to understand the thinking of that day.  Levi was seen as a Jew, taking money from his own people, and giving it to Caesar.  They viewed him much the same way as we would view a drug dealer today.

Not only that, but he has the same type of friends that a drug dealer would have.  Prostitutes, loan sharks, and the like.  All the people that the upstanding Pharisees would look down on as the dregs of their society.

Why would Jesus, a prophet who obviously operated in the power of God, ever associate with such rabble?

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:17

Jesus has just proven Himself to be a remover of sin.  If your ministry is to remove sin, then your place is in the middle of great sin.  Jesus knew that He was sent to save these people.  The Pharisees may have written them off, but Jesus saw them as loved by God.

I always find it offensive when I hear a Christian remark that someone deserves hell.

“When they die, they’re gonna get what they have coming.”

That must break the Lord’s heart.  He died for everyone.  Not just the people we like.

We need to watch our attitudes about those without Christ.  The fact is that we all deserve hell – but I don’t want anyone to go there.

Even the most perverted, murderous, evil person on earth should be given the chance to hear about the life-changing work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  We should be representing Christ and His attitudes in our generation.

Question: Why is it so easy to pick up the same attitudes as the Pharisees?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Legalism, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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