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Tag Archives: John the Baptist

A Call to Repentance

We’re continuing our look at John the Baptist in the Gospel of Mark.  He had a very important ministry.  He prepared Israel for the coming of the Messiah.

He’s also a good example of what our ministry should be like.

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Mark 1:4-5

John was a minister who didn’t feel the need to impress people.  He lived separately from society.  He didn’t let the day to day fads affect him.  He simply ministered the message he was given.

I’m glad that there are churches today that are attracting lots of people.  They have a modern atmosphere.  There’s smoke, lights, comfortable seating, and a professional sound.

That’s fine, as long as the message of Christ isn’t watered down.  When the methods become more important than the message, then we’re starting to compromise.  When the cash-flow required to maintain the look becomes the purpose; now the church is in trouble.

It seems to me that it was the message of John the Baptist that was attracting the crowds.  Their lives were being changed.  They came back from the Jordan River with a new outlook on life.

There’s also an aspect of John’s ministry that I think we miss because we’re on the other side of the cross.  We have to remember, while we read the Gospels, that the events described were taking place under the Old Covenant.

The people coming out to hear John’s message were “church people.”  If they were participating in the traditions of the Law of Moses, then they were saved and on their way to Heaven.  This was not the same baptism that we receive after salvation.

These people were already a part of the Old Testament congregation of believers because of the sacrificial system.  This baptism was a preparation for the continued work of Christ in the lives of His people.

Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to give me my initial salvation.  He took all my sins to the cross so that I could remain clean before God.  This baptism was looking forward to the ongoing work of grace in our lives.

That’s because we see the people confessing their particular sins, then being baptized for their removal.  It corresponds to the continued work of Christ’s cleansing in our lives.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9

This verse isn’t telling me that I need to be rebaptized whenever I fall into sin.  I’ve already been baptized to identify with Christ.  Now, all that’s needed is for me to confess my failures to God and receive His forgiveness and cleansing power.

I explained all of that, to simply say that this ministry is fading away in our generation.  Where’s the call to repentance in our day?  It seems that when someone preaches against sin and calls for repentance, a cry goes up that they’re bringing condemnation.  This is not the way it should be.

Yes, we’re righteous in the sight of God if we’re in Christ.  However, there’s an ongoing work of cleaning that the Holy Spirit wants to work in us.  That process requires conviction, confession of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and purifying.  Please don’t ignore the whole work of salvation that Christ wants to accomplish in you.

Question: When was the last time you went before God in repentance?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Generation of Preparation

Like I said in my last post, Mark was the first view of the life of Christ given to the church.  As we begin our look at the Gospel of Mark, I’m struck by an obvious point.  The Holy Spirit didn’t think it important to start with the birth and childhood of Jesus.

Instead, He starts off with the calling of John the Baptist.  He was the prophet who was to go before the Lord and prepare Israel for their Messiah.  So Mark begins with a prophecy of Isaiah.

It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” –”a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Mark 1:2-3

I’ve always seen us as the “John the Baptist Generation.”  I believe that we’re the ones who are preparing the final harvest of souls before the second coming of Christ.  That makes his calling and ours very similar.

First, I see that the Lord didn’t arrive the first time, without a messenger announcing His coming.  That should be the job of the church right now.  Preparing the world to meet their King and Judge.

We are the messengers of Christ.  It’s our job to let the world know what Jesus has done for them.

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

This is our ministry in a nutshell.  Everything else is a side issue.  The saving work of Jesus Christ should be our main focus.

Another thing I see is that there’s preparation involved.  Mark uses two different words in these verses.  The word, prepare, in verse 2 means a thorough preparation of all the equipment needed for an assignment.  We need to be equipped for our role in these last days.

The word used in verse 3 is a bit different.  It means to get ready.  It speaks of the internal preparation that’s needed in advance of the Lord’s coming.

There’s no way around it; the church needs to be prepared for Christ’s return.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

It concerns me that so few people attend a Bible Study these days.  I’m glad for the attendance at worship services on the weekends, but that’s not where you’re equipped.  There needs to be something more in depth – where you can interact with the teacher.

Right along with this, I’ve found our generation to be the most Biblically illiterate in all of Christianity.  Simply put, many believers have no idea what the Bible even teaches.  I’ve heard people tell me what they think the Scripture says because they heard it on a TV show or in a movie.  We need the foundation of true Biblical teaching.

The final thing I see is that John was a voice crying in the wilderness.  He was away from all the trappings of society.  John was different.

Why do we feel the need to blend seamlessly into our culture?  If there’s no difference between our lifestyle and theirs – why do they even need a Savior?

There’s a fear that no one will listen to us if we’re too different.  I think that the opposite is true.  Only when there’s an observable difference will the world want what we have.

We belong to a different kingdom.  We’re to be in the world but not of it.  Let’s truly pick up the assignment of being messengers in this final generation.

Question: What’s your message to the world?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Return of Christ, Revival, The Gospel

 

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The John the Baptist Generation #returnofChrist

BeamI’ve been posting about our end-time ministry as the “John the Baptist Generation”.  There were some interesting prophecies about John that I believe can be applied to us.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:78-79

Our generation must be a light in the darkness.  There has never been a darker time in the modern world.  Unless you’re living with your head in the sand, this is an undeniable truth.

We need to understand what being the light entails.  It’s obvious that light gets the attention in the dark.  There’s no getting around that.  We’re not called to just blend into the background.

This is because a light stands in direct opposition to the darkness.  There cannot be any two kingdoms that are more opposite than us and the world.

We are not a part of this society.  We live here, work here, and have to interact with those around us.  We need to be loving, productive, and contributing to the welfare of our community.  But the fact is we don’t BELONG here.

You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.
1Thessalonians 5:5-6

The word night speaks of a segment of time – but we are eternal.  Because we live in the eternal realm, we are of the day.

Dark speaks of a place – but we are seated with Christ in heavenly places; that’s the kingdom of light.  This is not our time and place.

We need to be what we’re called to be.  It’s not our destiny to blend in and become part of the whole.  It’s our calling to show there’s a different way to live.

John the Baptist is an example to us of how to minister to the world while living in the Kingdom of God.  It’s time for us to live up to this calling.  The world is desperate to hear the message that has been entrusted to us.  We need to stop chasing their dreams and live for Christ with an urgency that reflects the times we live in.

This generation of the church must grow up so that we can function as we must at this time in history.  Be equipped with the spiritual weaponry.  Be listening and hearing a Word from God.  Then continue to walk in that word.  Finally, if we do these things we will be the light that will draw people to Christ.  We are the John the Baptist Generation.

Questions: How much light is the church producing right now?  How can that light be increased?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Return of Christ, Revival, The Church

 

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Walking in the Word #returnofChrist

MirrorI’m posting about being the “John the Baptist Generation”.  I believe we are the last generation before the return of Christ and we need to live it out.

In my last post I said that we need to be hearing a Word from God.  This is essential for the end-time church.

But the key is that John didn’t just hear a Word.  He walked in it.  Our generation must walk out what we hear in God’s presence.  Hearing from God is only half of the equation.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
James 1:21

This is talking about the engrafted word of God.  It’s not just reading the Bible or hearing a sermon, even thought it might start there.  It’s when you know God has spoken to you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:22-24

We’re told not to simply hear a word from God.  We’re good at saying that God spoke to us.

“I know what I need to do.”

The problem is that years later there’s no change.  God is looking for an obedient people.  He wants someone who’ll not only speak for Him, but live for Him.

Sometimes I think that’s why we don’t listen – we don’t want to do what God might tell us.

I’ve been feeling more spiritual pressure on me lately to hear and obey the voice of God.  When I look at John’s life I see the insight I need to do what’s required of me.

John was born at that time for a purpose.  He could have said, “It’s not fair.  Why can everyone else do what they want?”  But by his obedience, he changed the course of history.

History Makers don’t get to just “do what they want.”  That’s our calling because of the generation we were born into.  Like it or not we were placed here to be a part of the greatest move of God the world has ever seen.

Instead of running from it, or hiding in the distractions of the world, we should embrace it.  It’s time for the people of God to let the Word shine through us.  I believe this will initiate the great end-time harvest of souls into the kingdom of God.

Question: What do you see as the greatest hindrance of us fulfilling this end-time call?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Prayer, Return of Christ, Revival

 

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Are You Listening? #returnofChrist

ListenIn my last post I started talking about the end-time generation.  We looked at the Scripture which told us that if a man cleansed himself from wrong purposes, he would be ready and equipped for good works.

This is where we are in time.  I believe that this is the final generation before the return of Christ.  We are the “John the Baptist generation.”

He was one man sent to a nation.  Now there’s a small group sent to a sleeping church.  Either you’re the one calling, or the one needing to wake up.

We must respond to God’s call for equipping.  God is now equipping a people for the end-time ministry.

But there was another part to John’s ministry.

During the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.  He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 3:2-3

He heard and he went.  Our generation must hear a Word from God.  God is speaking the same message throughout the body of Christ today.

“Listen to Me!!!”

God is trying to get our attention.  He wants to speak to a church that is largely enamored with what the world has to offer.  We don’t want to take the time to hear from the Holy Spirit.

The enemy knows this.  Never have there been more distractions.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

We seem to have lost sight of this truth.  That verse literally says, “Faith comes out of hearing and hearing through the rhema of Christ.”  Rhema is the Greek word that speaks of the word we hear in our spirit.

That’s one of our biggest failings.  Not listening, and therefore not hearing God’s voice speaking to us.

We want to just go out and minister with the power of the spirit.  We want to go to work, watch TV, play basketball, and heal the sick.  We want formulas – quick, easy ways to walk in the spirit.

The spiritual authority that we’re looking for starts in hearing from God.  John went out into the desert and didn’t minister until he heard a word from God.  People actually flocked to him in the desert.  Today, we find it hard getting people to our meetings in the middle of a city.

What’s wrong?  I believe that the answer is clear – we have no word from God.  If we want to be the end-time church, prepared for Christ’s return, then we need to be listening to the Holy Spirit.

Question: Are you willing to take the time to hear a word from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Prayer, Return of Christ, Revival

 

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The End-Time Generation #secondcoming

JesusAs I was meditating on the life of John the Baptist in Scripture, it occurred to me that his calling was a lot like ours.  He was positioned to minister before the coming of Christ.  In the same way, we find ourselves very close to the return of the Lord.

How should we be living, knowing the age that God has placed us in?  The calling of John the Baptist should speak to us about it.

“And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous– to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1:17

I’ve come to the realization that he was a man ahead of his time.  Scripture tells us that he spent a great amount of time in the wilderness seeking God.  When God said go, John became a man on a mission.

As I studied his life and message I came to a startling conclusion.  John saw forward not only to the first appearing of Christ, but to the second coming as well.

Do you believe that Jesus is coming soon?  If so, then we are the “John the Baptist Generation.”  I want to look at John for a few posts to get some insight into who we are and who we must become to fulfill our calling.

The above verse was told to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel.  This message foretold who John was to be.  His calling was to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  He was to provide a people thoroughly equipped for Christ’s coming.

Our generation must be equipped.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
2 Timothy 2:20-21

This verse literally says that we must be fully equipped to do any good work.  If we want to do the work of God, then we must be equipped for it.

It’s important to realize that equipping relies upon purpose.  How you’re equipped depends upon what your purpose is.  So in the discussion about preparing us for the return of the Lord, we’re also talking about purpose.

What is your purpose?  Why are you doing what you’re doing?  John had a clear purpose; to prepare God’s people.

We have no choice in the matter.  We’ve been born in the last-days before the coming of Christ.  The question is; will we live up to that calling?

Question: Do you believe that Christ is coming soon?  In what way does that affect how you live?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Ministry, Return of Christ

 

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The Guide

Luke 1:76-80
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins… to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.

This Scripture concerns the ministry of John the Baptist, who was to be the forerunner of the Messiah.  It is interesting to note that John lived in the wilderness for years in preparation for his public ministry.  One of the things that was spoken of him in this text is that he would “guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Being a guide assumes that you have walked the path already.  John must have learned many lessons as he spent time in the wilderness, alone with God.  These needed to be in place within his life before he ever spoke to the crowds.  God seems to do the best work on our hearts in the private, intimate times that we have with Him.

It is important that we take the time to get into that private “prayer closet” with the Lord.  You need to be looking forward to these times as great learning experiences.  We need to spend time with Him away from all the distractions and commitments that are constantly crying out for our attention.  As you look back, you will find that the lessons learned and the inner growth accomplished have made your time in the presence of God far richer and rewarding than it would have been otherwise.

As you go before the Lord this day, thank Him for the experiences that are still ahead of you on your walk with Him.  Let the Lord know your willingness to be a guide to those who are coming behind you on the spiritual journey.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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