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Born Again and the Kingdom

CastleI’ve been posting about the Biblical definition of being born again. It’s quite different than how we use the term in this generation. In this post I want to look at how Jesus describes it to a believing Pharisee who met with Him.

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
John 3:3

In answering his statement of faith, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. In the book of John, the gospel that was written to the church, that’s a ground shaking statement. Telling a believer that he needs to be born again is something unheard of in our generation.

According to Jesus Christ Himself, believers must be born again. Obeying the law isn’t enough. Trying your best to be good isn’t enough. The Good News is not “believe in Jesus and follow the law.” It’s all about becoming a new person.

The Lord tells Nicodemus and us that unless we experience the process of this new birth, we will not see the Kingdom of God. At this point it’s important that you understand what Christ is saying in this passage. He’s not saying that you must be born again in order to be saved. That’s how we describe it.

The Greek language has two words that translate to the word see in English. They are blepo and eidon. Blepo means to look at with your eyes. That’s what we normally think of when we hear that word.

That’s not the word in this verse. Instead it’s the word eidon, which literally means to know by seeing. In other words – to experience something. Christ was telling this Pharisee that unless he is born again, he will never experience the kingdom of God.

You can sit back and watch things happen in the Kingdom of God. But if you want to be a part of what’s going on, experiencing the manifestation of the kingdom, then you need to be born of God.

At this point Nicodemus was thinking merely in the physical. He asked about how you could return to your mother’s womb. In later years he probably looked back on this and laughed. Jesus explained it further.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”
John 3:5

The Lord wasn’t talking about physical birth, but entering the kingdom. That’s the definition of being born again – being given access to the Kingdom of God.

Then again, that brings us to another sloppy definition of the modern church – exactly what is the Kingdom of God? Listen to how Jesus described the Kingdom to the Pharisees that opposed Him.

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Matthew 21:43

The Kingdom of God is about producing its fruit. It’s not just reciting a prayer, then sitting back and doing nothing. Paul gives us even more insight.

…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Acts 14:22

Paul and Barnabas, as they were encouraging the disciples, told them that in order to enter the kingdom, hardships would have to be overcome. When was the last time you heard that preached on a Sunday morning? Well, you’re reading it today. It’s hard! You must be born again!

Question: How does the church react to the thought of hardships these days?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Understanding the Kingdom of God #kingdomofGod

CastleThere are some things about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that I think we’ve lost sight of.  I want to take a few posts to take a detailed look at the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17.  There are some very surprising things that Jesus said in that text.  But first, He had to correct the Pharisees’ view of the kingdom.

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
Luke 17:20-21

The Pharisees were always looking for an occasion to accuse Jesus.  They wanted to find something against Him.  So they came up with this question.  When is the kingdom coming?  They knew that the Messiah was supposed to establish the kingdom.  So they decided to see how smart He was.

Please understand what these men were doing.  They didn’t want to believe in Him.  They weren’t looking for the arrival of the kingdom of God.  They were just looking for a chance to test the Lord and to trick Him into saying something that would open Him up to some accusation.

How does Jesus respond to their question?  In dealing with these men, He turns the tables on them and gives them an answer that refers to the spiritual kingdom instead of the physical.  The Lord’s exhortation to them is that you will not find it by careful observation.

They first needed to understand what “kingdom” means.  A kingdom can be any place.  A king-dom is the domain, or place of dominion of a king.  It’s any place or person over which the King has authority.

So, if the King of kings has authority in your heart, that’s where the kingdom of God is.  Wherever the King has authority to rule is where the kingdom has been established.  The kingdom of God could be among you or in you.  It all depends upon whether or not you have received the King.

If you’re submitted to the King, you’re a part of the kingdom.  If you’re not submitted to the King, then you are not in the kingdom and the kingdom is not in you.  Instead, you will find that the kingdom of God is among you, just like in the parable of the weeds and the wheat (Matthew 13:36-43).

The wheat is a part of the kingdom, the weeds aren’t.  Jesus was explaining the same concept to these Pharisees.  He gives them the spiritual truth even though it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.  They were asking Him for the physical manifestation of the kingdom.

The same applies to us today.  Many believers want to receive the blessings of the kingdom without submitting to the King.  We need to learn that you can’t have one without the other.

Question: What does it mean to be submitted to Christ as King?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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The Five Warning Signs of Ungodliness

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAUngodly.  The word usually makes us think of the unsaved.  The problem is that there are many ungodly Christians that are totally unaware of their condition.  Are you one of them?  Check out what the Bible says about it.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

Paul tells us that we are to examine our lives.  This word literally means to scrutinize how we live.

Do you know Christ is in you?  Most Christians understand this concept.  They realize that Christ is in them.  When they asked Him to be the Lord of their lives, Christ made their heart His home.  Most believers will pass this test.

Does it matter to you?  This is where the test starts to get tough.  It’s surprising that many who belong to Christ really don’t give Him a second thought.  They go throughout the day without ever acknowledging Him.

It seems that they’re oblivious to the fact that Jesus is accompanying them wherever they go.  He’s a silent listener of every conversation.  If this was a reality to us, we would probably behave much differently.

Do you want to know God’s will?  Not only is Christ with us at all times, but He has a plan for our lives.  The question really comes down to; whose will is more important – mine or the Lord’s?  Many don’t want to know God’s will for their lives because they’re afraid it will interfere with their plans.

Do you want to accomplish God’s will?  Knowing God’s will is not the end of it.  What we really need to do is accomplish it.  Not only is Christ with us wherever we go, He expects us to represent him and His kingdom to the world.  What many don’t realize is that unless we answer “yes” to this question, God will not reveal His will to us.

Are you seeking God’s approval?  This is the final and greatest test of godliness.  Who are we seeking to please?  Are we after our own pleasure?  That of our friends or family?  The Bible is clear that unless we’re “God-pleasers” our lives will be worthless – there will be no reward at the end.

How do these questions play out in your life?  A “no” to any of the highlighted questions should be a warning that you’re in danger of ungodliness.  If so, then repent of it and move on with the Lord.

It’s time for God’s people to live like they truly understand the Lord’s presence in their lives.

Question: What signs of godliness do you see in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Encouragement, Faith

 

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God’s Excellent Kingdom

CastleI’ve been talking about excellence for a few posts.  I want to finish up this topic by showing that everything God has for us in His kingdom is excellent.

The Greek word usually translated excellent in the New Testament is hyperballoHyperballo, literally means, to throw beyond.  The word picture being used is of an Olympic sport such as throwing the javelin.

Everyone else has thrown it to a certain, average point.  You, however, get up and throw it beyond all the others.  That’s a picture of the concept of excellence.  When you throw beyond the normal or what’s expected, then you’ve entered the realm of the excellent.

Here are some examples of how the word hyperballo is used of the Lord in the New Testament:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:18-19a

The word that was translated incomparably great is hyperballo.  Many people have a measure of strength, but God desires to work His power in us.  This is a power that goes beyond the normal, the average or the expected.  His power working in us is excellent.

In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:7

Not only does He desire to show us His excellent power, but He also wants to work His excellent grace in us.  Most of us know that the grace of God is His unmerited favor.  The favor of the Lord goes beyond what’s deserved or expected.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19

He also wants to show us His love that throws beyond knowledge.  This love is greater than anything we have ever experienced before in our lives.  His love goes further than we could ever ask, think, or imagine.

If you have ever received teaching on the book of Hebrews, you have probably heard that the theme of the book is “Better.”  How much better the ministry of Christ is than any other!  It incorporates a better sacrifice, a better priesthood, and better promises.

Why would anyone settle for mediocrity?  Knowing who the Lord is should spur us on to excellence.  His excellent power, excellent grace, and excellent love are the treasures that He is ready to bestow upon us.  We only need to be willing to walk the high road of excellence.

Question: How have you experienced the excellence of God’s kingdom?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Encouragement, Spirit of Excellence

 

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