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Planting for the Resurrection

As a pastor, I’ve been asked many questions about death and the resurrection.  The Apostle Paul had to deal with these issues as well.

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36

This is our great hope in a nutshell.  We’re not just looking for the end of life.  In Christ, there is death and rebirth.

Even knowing this, people have questions about how this all works.  What about believers whose bodies were burned at the stake?  Or those who died in shipwrecks and were eaten by fish.  Then there are those who choose to be cremated.

This section of Scripture deals with these issues.  The bottom line is that we don’t need to worry about what happens to our bodies after we die.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
1 Corinthians 15:37-41

Paul starts by saying that every type of body is different.  We serve a very creative God.  He loves variety.  So the natural universe is a grand display of His power and artistry.

But one thing is clear…the body that’s placed in the ground is not the body that will rise at the resurrection.  That’s just like the fact that a tomato plant looks nothing like the tomato seed that was planted.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a

This is the foundation for our expectation of the future.  When we attend a believer’s funeral, it’s not the body in the casket that will rise.  On Resurrection Day we will receive a brand new body.

It doesn’t matter if your dead body is burned, eaten by fish, or turned into powder by the passing of time.  The body that was “planted” does not contain the material of the new body that will rise at the coming of the Lord.

According to this verse, the old body is subject to decay, disgrace, and weakness.  Our new body will have none of those characteristics.  Instead, it will be a body that has immortality, glory, and power.  That’s something to look forward to.

The last part of this verse gives us a little more insight.  Right now, our body is natural, or literally, soulish.  That means that our flesh is under the authority of our mind.  Whatever we think about, our body performs.

After the resurrection, our body will be a spiritual body.  That means it’s under the control of our spirit.  It will function like Jesus did after His resurrection.  It will even be able to transport wherever it needs to be – even going through walls if needed.

As I said in the last post, this thought should give us the perseverance to live for Christ to our fullest potential.  We know that our future, in Him, will be glorious!

Question: How focused are you on eternal life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Reason for Perseverance

Sometimes it seems difficult to serve Christ.  That’s especially true in the parts of the world where Christians are persecuted.  Why do we persevere through the trials?

We’re continuing to look at First Corinthians. Paul is teaching about the truth of the resurrection.  He’s writing to some believers who think that the concept of resurrection is only a suggested teaching.

Paul rebukes them and explained that belief in our future resurrection is non-optional.  Without the resurrection, there’s no salvation.

He now talks about how it relates to us.

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
1 Corinthians 15:29

This probably refers to a local tradition they had in the early church.  If someone was saved in prison and was martyred before they could be baptized, someone would be baptized for them.  In this way, they could publically proclaim that this person was saved before they died.

But how does looking forward to the resurrection affect us?

And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I die every day — I mean that, brothers — just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?  If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Corinthians 15:30-32

Paul walked a very difficult road in his service to Christ.  It involved persecution again and again.  It was his view of the resurrection that kept him going.

That’s why he asks the important question.  Why go through this type of suffering if there’s no resurrection?

No resurrection means that there’s no eternal life.  That would mean this life is the only thing we’d experience.  If that was the case, there would be no reason to endure hardship for the Lord.  Without eternal life to look forward to, our goal should be to go for everything the world has to offer.

The fact is that eternal life is real.  We will rise again when Christ returns to the earth.  This present world is not all that there is.  We can give all for Jesus, knowing that our future glory is something to look forward to.

The apostle gives those who don’t believe in the resurrection a final rebuke.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34

It all comes down to who you’re trying to impress.  If you spend all of your free time with unbelievers and you want to please them, then your character will suffer.  Their attitudes will start to affect you.

The ones that Paul was writing to actually got to the point where they felt that the Resurrection Day was unimportant.  Their walk with the Lord suffered because they were living for the world.  We can’t allow that to happen to us.

You need to take stock of your friendships.  What effect are they having on you?  Are you in fellowship with other believers, or do you mostly want friendship with the world?

Keep your focus on the eternal.  That’s what will give you the foundation for perseverance in Christ.

Question: How important is the future resurrection to you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Trinity – Divine Order

One of the most difficult concepts for most people to understand is the triune nature of God.  We have come up with the word, trinity to describe it.  But you have to realize that “trinity” is not in the Bible.

As we go through Paul’s explanation of the resurrection, he touches on this subject in passing.

For he “has put everything under his feet.”  Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:27-28

The first and most important thing you need to understand is that we serve one God.  Sometimes the way we use the word trinity, and the way we talk about “God in three persons”, makes it sound like we have three Gods.  That is absolutely NOT the case.

The next piece of the puzzle is the realization that this one God, throughout history, has manifested Himself in four ways.  There are times that we see God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.  Then there are those times when we refer to all of these together simply as God.

Are you confused yet?  I hope not.  But hopefully, I’ll clear some things up for you as we go along.

The Bible is clear that we were created in God’s image.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”
Genesis 1:26a

It turns out that because of this, we are also triune beings.  We each have a body, a soul, and a spirit even though we’re one person.  Unfortunately for us, these three don’t always agree with each other.

You can think about God in the same way.  Our spirit exists, functions, and interacts in the spiritual realm.  That corresponds to God, the Holy Spirit.

Our body exists, functions, and interacts in the material realm.  That part of us corresponds to God, the Son.

Our soul is the center of who we are.  It houses our personality, memories, and the seat of our decision-making ability.  That part corresponds with God, the Father.

I am one person.  But I have three parts that make me whole.  They are always working together whether I realize it or not.

In my person, my soul is the part with the highest authority right now.  Some people teach that our spirit is highest, but Scripture says otherwise (1 Corinthians 14:32).  After the resurrection, however, our spirits will be in charge (1 Corinthians 15:44).

Now that I’ve explained all of this, let’s look at the above verse from First Corinthians.

Let’s say that I want a new smartphone.  But who really wants it?  It’s the real me – the person inside my being – my soul is wanting it.

How does my soul get it?  My body goes to work and makes a salary.  The money goes into the bank account of my whole person.  My body goes to the store and buys a new smartphone.  Now, my body places the new phone under the authority of my soul.

My body carries out the will of my soul.  It’s under the authority of my soul.  But even though this is true, my body is no less “me” than my soul.

In the same way, God the Son carries out the will of God the Father.  But, that doesn’t make the Son any less God than the Father.  Father, Son, and Spirit are all God.  One God.  They work together in the same way that my body, soul, and spirit work together.

We serve a great God.  He desires to reveal Himself to His people if we would spend time getting to know Him better.

Question: How do you describe the relationship of God – Father, Son, and Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2019 in Creation, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Dissipation, Drunkenness, Anxiety – Signs of the Times (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  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.

“Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36

Jesus tells us that because of our knowledge of future events, our lives should be different from the world. We have a mission before us that’s time-sensitive. Those things that hinder us from effectively sharing the Gospel of Christ must be put away.

The Lord spoke of dissipation. The Greek word literally means tossing-head. It was the common term for a hangover. We associate this term with drinking, but Jesus wasn’t limiting it to the use of alcohol.

Whenever we leave our calling to chase after the world, there’s a wasted period of time while we get back on track again. This is the period of our spiritual “hangover”. Too many Christians are living most of their lives in dissipation.

They’re either giving in to the desire for the things of the world or they’re trying to regain what they’ve lost. Don’t waste most of your life in dissipation.

Drunkenness, then, is the actual pursuit of worldly pleasures. You can become intoxicated on more than just alcohol. Power, money, sports, and a host of other distractions can rob you of your effectiveness in God.

Does that mean that all these things are sins? Absolutely not! But if you find yourself more involved in these temporary things than in your walk with God, then your priorities are messed up.

The third warning the Lord gives us is to beware of the anxieties of life. We’re not to be so overwhelmed by our cares that it hinders our walk with God.

When we spend most of our time worrying about finances, health, and relationships, we lose our desire to serve God faithfully. Jesus said that if you seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, then your needs would be taken care of.

Jesus said that the temptation to fall into these traps would come on all people – no exceptions. There will be no free rides. He’s warning us about the future so that we’ll be ready.

That’s why He said that if you’re watchful, awake, and alert, you could pray to escape some of these things. Literally, it means to run away from. I believe that if we seek God’s wisdom, we’ll be protected from much of the pain that will come to the earth. Of course, that means we need to listen for God’s voice of instruction, and then obey Him when He speaks.

I believe that the last days of this age are going to be the most exciting time period that any Christian could be a part of.

Question: What emotions does the thought of Christ’s return stir up in you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2019 in Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Seed in You (Repost)

Our Supply in GodI’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  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.

In many of my posts, I talk about the relationship between the Word of God and the Scripture.  The Bible is the written Word of God.  But we also need to hear a Word from the Holy Spirit.  This is where the power of God intersects with our lives.

I want to write about how the Word of God relates to us.  The Bible teaches that we must correctly handle the Word of Truth.  In order to do that I must be studying the Scripture – the written record of God’s Word – so that I can handle the Word I receive from God today.

In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Acts 19:20

The Bible uses many terms in relation to the Word of God.  It uses language such as spread, increased, grew, reached and multiplied.  In the above verse, we’re told how.  The verse says in this way.  If you read through this nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts you’ll get a taste for the effects of the Word.

We see the gifts of tongues and prophecy being manifested.  There was boldness in preaching.  Handkerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul were taken to the sick and they were healed.  Demonic spirits were confronted and expelled.  There was widespread repentance such that a group of new believers burned the equivalent of $5,000,000 worth of satanic sorcery books.

That’s the way the Word of God is described as growing.  Literally, the above verse says that the Word became a force to be reckoned with.  The Word of God is alive and it grows.  That’s the aspect that I discussed in a series of posts.  For that original series, click here.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23

We’ve been saved by the living Word of God.  That Word is a seed that’s growing inside of us.  It will never decay or diminish.  It’s there forever.

Somewhere along the line, somebody spoke God’s Word to you.  It doesn’t matter whether they used the Bible or not – you heard a Word from God that changed your life.

It might have been a Bible verse, a word of prophecy, or a statement of divine truth.  Either way, it grew inside of you, and eventually, you received Jesus Christ and were saved.

That’s how the Word of God starts its work in you.  The fact that you’ve established Christ as your Lord and Savior is proof that the Word has taken residence in you.  Now what we do with that seed is up to us.

Question: What was the Word of God that brought salvation into your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2019 in Faith, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Our Glorious Future

I’m continuing with Paul’s view of the resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  There were some in that church who looked at the resurrection as an optional belief.  In my last post, Paul showed that it was actually the foundation of our faith.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22

This is the basis of our hope.  Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection.  Because He was raised to life, I know that I will also be raised up in Him.

As a part of the human race, we all inherited death from Adam.  But now, because of the obedience of Christ on the cross, we can inherit the life of Christ displayed when He rose from the dead.  Death couldn’t hold Him.

But, we have to wait for our turn.  That only happens when Christ returns to the earth at some point in the future.

But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:23-26

There’s an order to the resurrection.  Christ was the first to experience it.  He opened up the way for all of us.

When He returns, it will be our Resurrection Day.  All who belong to Christ will rise to meet Him in the air.  First, those who have died as believers will rise from the dead.  Then, those who are still alive at His coming will simply be transformed into their new resurrected bodies without going through the death process.

That’s not the end of the story.  When Christ returns, He’ll set everything straight.  Right now, the earth is under the temporary government of the enemy.  The devil and his kingdom have dominion, authority and power over mankind.  (Of course, in Christ we have the power to overrule that authority!)

When Jesus returns, He’ll end Satan’s reign of terror.  All of the authority structures of earth will be made right once again.  It will be what God had intended when He first created Adam.

However, even now Christ is reigning.  From the day the Lord rose from the dead He has become the Ruler of the earth.  He just didn’t exercise that authority yet.

The battle for planet earth is over.  Christ is already victorious.  In Him, we’re on the winning side.  That’s why we have nothing to fear.

Our job now is to free the captives from under the tyranny of the devil’s kingdom.  We’re a part of the victorious invading army.  Don’t let the enemy intimidate you.  He can only stop you if you believe his lies.

It’s time for God’s people to live like we own the place.  We do, in Christ.  It’s time for us to stop being distracted by the world’s activities, and set our hands to the task of preparing for the Lord’s return.

Live like it’s forever…because in Christ it is!

Question: How do you live in the now, with eternity in view?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Too Far for the Sake of Relevance

I’m continuing to look at First Corinthians, chapter 15.  Paul is talking about the concept of resurrection.  He started by reminding them of his Gospel message.  This is, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he then appeared to many credible witnesses.

Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
1 Corinthians 15:11

This is the foundation of faith that the Corinthian church was established upon.  Unfortunately, they were now trying to become more acceptable to the society around them.  Belief in someone rising from the dead was a little far out.

Greek society prided themselves on their intellect and knowledge.  It’s a lot like where I live, in the Boston area, where there’s a college or university everywhere you look.

Because they wanted to be “relevant”, they downplayed the resurrection.  Sometimes even telling people they could become a Christian without believing in it.  They were probably well-meaning and though that once they came in the door, someday they’d “see the light.”

What does Paul think about this?

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Paul is very clear.  There’s no salvation without the resurrection.  If God isn’t powerful enough to raise the dead, then what was the purpose of the cross?  What Christ did on the cross is meaningless without the resurrection.

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:15-17

Changing the truth of God’s Word in order to make it more palatable to society only removes the very heart of the message.  It’s no longer the Gospel.

Many in our generation need to understand this truth.  The Scripture says what it says.  It will offend some people.  We can’t change that.

This being said, we can change the way we handle it.  We can be more loving and less judgmental.  When Jesus ministered, He found a way to show God’s love without compromising truth.

We need to take stock of our message.  Does it line up with Scripture?  Once you leave the clear path of truth, the doctrines of faith begin to fall like dominoes.

Paul shows these Christians the end result of a belief in no resurrection.

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 Corinthians 15:18-19

The bottom line is to never compromise the truth of the Word to win people to Christ.  You can change the method, but not the message.

Question: What was the message that you believed when you were saved?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2019 in Faith, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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