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Jesus and the Gospel

As we continue our look at the Gospel of Mark, we’ll now see how the ministry of Jesus relates to the Gospel message.  You probably already know that the word, Gospel, literally means the Good News.

But what exactly is that Good News?   I think you’ll be surprised at how the modern church has turned the message around, making it empty of its power.

If I were to ask people “What is the Gospel?” I’d probably receive many answers.  There’s a host of believers who are actively trying to “win the lost.”  They would most likely give me very Biblical answers.

What I want to know, are the perceptions of those who hear the Gospel.  From talking with unbelievers who have been “witnessed to” I could boil it down to the following: “You’re an evil sinner going to hell, but if you repeat a special prayer you can go to Heaven.”

If that’s what they got out of an encounter with a Christian, then something’s wrong with our approach.  There’s no way to demonstrate a statement like that.  That’s why so many unbelievers are bitter toward those who have tried and failed to convert them.

We need to return to a true understanding of what the Good News is all about.  That’s why Jesus, Himself, is a great example.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  “The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:14-15

Jesus made two statements.  The kingdom of God is near was the Good News.  God was showing up on the scene to change their lives for the better.  Freedom, healing, and deliverance were about to be demonstrated to the people of Israel.

The Lord then told those listening to Him how to respond to this Good News.  Repent and believe is not the Good News, it’s the response that’s needed.  We must learn that the power is in the Good News, not in the response to the Good News.

In many cases, we’ve started calling the response, the Gospel.  You can’t go out preaching “repent and believe” and assume you’re bringing the Gospel to the world.

When it comes to the Good News, one size doesn’t fit all.  There are gang members and single moms, Wall St. executives and the homeless.  Is the Good News the same for all of them?

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that the response to the Good News must be the same for all people.  But the message itself will be different depending on who you’re talking to.  This is how God established it in His Word.

God, Himself, gave us four Gospels.  Matthew was written for the Jews and Mark for the Romans.  Luke was for the Greeks and John contained Good News for the Christian.

It’s a fact that religious people need to hear something different than the unchurched.  The Bible itself describes the Good News in many ways.  It’s called the Gospel of the Kingdom, of God, of Christ, of God’s grace, of your salvation, and the Gospel of peace.

Of course, no matter how the Gospel message is tailored to an audience, Jesus Christ is central.  Furthermore, it all must be demonstrated by the power of the Holy Spirit in order for the world to see the full picture.

Question: How can you bring the Good News to those in your sphere of influence?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 6, 2017 in Ministry, The Gospel

 

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The Word of the Cross

Cross SunsetAs believers, most of us know that the goal is to walk in maturity. What I’ve found is that in order to understand the road to maturity, we must first understand the significance of the cross.

Usually when we think about Christ, and all that He accomplished for us, we mention the cross but immediately focus on the resurrection. Don’t get me wrong, the resurrection of Christ was the most important event in all of history. It sealed our redemption. Without the risen Lord, we would still be dead in our sins.

Our problem is that we usually don’t give the cross a second glance. We sometimes downplay the cross. We’ve become too familiar with it. We see crosses everywhere. It has become the most recognized symbol of Christianity.

But do we really understand its significance in our growth process? I want to take a few posts to show you some things that seem to have gotten lost along the way.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18

When I meditate upon what Paul is saying in this passage, it causes me to take a step back. Paul said that Christ did not make me an apostle to baptize. This statement should capture our attention.

The apostle was not sent out to make converts. That wasn’t his goal and it shouldn’t be ours. In some circles this needs to be emphasized.

We’re not in the Kingdom of God to “get people saved.” We’re simply here to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. How people respond to the message is up to them. The only thing I’ll be judged on is how accurately I gave that message, not on how many believed it. I think this distinction is lost on many believers.

However, there is a deeper truth here than just to preach the Gospel. We must preach this Good News without emptying the cross of its power. By expressing the Gospel through my human wisdom and reasoning, I lose the power that is resident in the cross. That’s why I need to hear a Word from God, and preach that Word.

The Word of the cross has the power to save. But it’s how we understand this statement that makes all the difference. Remember, being saved is not a one-time thing. It’s an on-going process. That’s why the Word of the cross is for those who are being saved.

I need the saving power of God on a daily basis. This is the power that saves me from my sinful actions, sickness, poverty, depression, and a whole host of other issues I have to deal with in my old nature. The message of the cross speaks to all of these and brings victory. It’s because we have watered down the message of the cross, that we have such battered down church in our generation.

When we give the Word of the cross a back seat, we miss out on the victory that God has made available to us. That’s why I feel it necessary to write about the cross of Christ for a little while. My hope is that it will help us in becoming more like the Lord.

Question: What do you see as significant about the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Power of God, The Church, Word of God

 

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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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Are you Asking the Right Questions?

Question MarkWe live in an age of hero worship.  It seems that people are more inclined to follow those with the most glitz and showmanship.  It has, unfortunately, carried over into the body of Christ.

When it comes to the teachings we accept, how do we decide who to listen to?  We need to be asking the right questions.  This was something that was clearly portrayed in the ministry of Christ.

The following is taken from the Scriptural passage found in the Gospel of Luke 4:16-40.  You will want to read that first to understand what I share in this post.

In that section of Scripture, Jesus preaches at two different synagogues.  One was in His hometown of Nazareth, and the other in Capernaum.  In both cases He preached the same message.  Knowing that it was the Lord, I am assuming that both messages had the same level of anointing.

In spite of these similarities, only one of the towns, Capernaum, received a blessing out of the visit.  It is clear to see from the narrative, that the reason was the questions that they asked themselves as Jesus was ministering.

This is important to us because we are guilty of the same type of attitudes that these people had.  I believe that we have missed out on countless blessings because our attitudes got in the way.  What makes the difference?

Verse 22 shows the question the people of Nazareth were asking.  It demonstrates what they were focusing on.

They spoke well of Him.  They were amazed at the words from His lips.

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

They were concentrating on who was speaking – was He all that they were expecting?

Capernaum was a different case altogether.  Verse 32 and 36 make it clear that they were amazed at His teaching.  They recognized that His Word had power and authority.  Who He was and what He looked like didn’t figure into their acceptance of the Word.

As a result, revival fell in Capernaum that day.  Demons were cast out and all the sick that lived in that area were healed (Verse 33-40).

We need to learn this lesson.  Sometimes the biggest show has the least anointing.  On the other hand – there are times God wants to perform great miracles through His “unknown servants”.

We need to be asking, “What is the anointing, authority, and power upon this Word.”  How big a following someone has shouldn’t figure into it.  It’s all about the spirit behind the message, not the person God is using.

If we keep this in mind, then we’ll find the blessing of God in some of the most unlikely places.  We will also open ourselves up to the miraculous.

Question:  Have you ever received a blessing from God’s unknown servants?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Revival, The Church, Word of God

 

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America Needs the Gospel

FlagcrossIt’s hard to believe, but in reality the United States can no longer be called a Christian nation.  Yes, there are pockets of Christian majorities on various parts of the map, but overall the influence of believers is almost gone.  I believe this is because we have lost sight of the true message of the Gospel.

I was recently reading a post about 5 issues the church will have to deal with over the next ten years.  It was by Ed Stetzer, the President of Lifeway Research.  In it he made some startling statements that I may comment about from time to time.

The issue that caught my attention, was that the church of this generation needs a clear understanding of the Gospel.  It wasn’t many years ago that the flames of renewal and revival were sweeping across many parts of our nation.  How have we fallen so far from the message of Christ?

Where has the Gospel of Jesus Christ gone?  In many churches we are taught how to be “good people.”  There are messages on how to live a great life – overcoming depression and other negative qualities.  It’s almost as if the modern church has become a group emotional-therapy session.

Paul’s words should bring us a much needed wake-up call.

2 Timothy 2:8
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…

We wonder why our impact on society has diminished.  This just might be the key.  The Gospel is not about New Year’s resolutions or turning over a new leaf.  It’s not even about wanting to be a better person, spouse, or parent.

The true message of the Gospel is not about what I do.  It’s all about what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.  He died, was buried, and He rose back to life on the third day.  The Lord accomplished this so that we could receive His life and become a new person in Him.

Anything less than that is not the Gospel.

In his post, Ed Stetzer made a statement that I have turned into a question in order to check myself.  As a pastor, I’m responsible for the message received by the people under my care.  I’m going to be accountable for what I preach to them each week.

The question I must ask myself is this: Would the message I’m preaching still be true if Jesus hadn’t died on the cross?  If so, then I’m not proclaiming the Gospel.  It might be good and helpful to the listener, but it isn’t the Good News of the Bible.  The Gospel is life-changing.

The church in America needs to return to the true Gospel message.

Question: How do you perceive a need for the Gospel in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Have You Heard the Good News?

SharingFor the last few posts I’ve been talking about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  What exactly is that Good News?  I think you’ll be surprised at how the modern church has turned the message around, making it empty of its power.

If I were to ask people “What is the Gospel?”, I would probably receive many answers.  There are a host of believers who are actively trying to “win the lost.”  They would most likely give me very Biblical answers.

What I want to know are the perceptions of those who hear the Gospel.  From talking with unbelievers who have been “witnessed to” I could boil it down to the following: “You’re an evil sinner going to hell, but if you repeat a special prayer you can go to Heaven.”

If that’s what they got out of an encounter with a Christian, then something’s wrong with our approach.  There is no way to demonstrate a statement like that.  That’s why so many unbelievers are bitter toward those who have tried and failed to convert them.

We need to return to a true understanding of what the Good News is all about.

Here is an example of Jesus’ ministry.

“The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

Jesus made two statements.  The kingdom of God is near was the Good News.  The Lord then told the people how to respond to this Good News.

Repent and believe is not the Good News, it’s the response that’s needed.  We must learn that the power is in the Good News, not in the response to the Good News.  In many cases, we have started calling the response, the Gospel.  You cannot go out preaching “repent and believe” and assume you’re bringing the Gospel to the world.

When it comes to the Good News, one size doesn’t fit all.  There are gang members and single moms, Wall St. executives and the homeless.  Is the Good News the same for all of them?

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that the response to the Good News must be the same for all people.  But the message itself will be different depending upon who you’re talking to.  This is how God established it in His Word.

God, Himself, gave us four Gospels.  Matthew was written for the Jews and Mark for the Romans.  Luke was for the Greeks and John contained Good News for the Christian.

It’s a fact that religious people need to hear something different than the unchurched.  The Bible itself describes the Good News in many ways.  It’s called the Gospel of the Kingdom, of God, of Christ, of God’s grace, of your salvation, and the Gospel of peace.

Of course, no matter how the Gospel message is tailored to an audience, Jesus Christ is central.  Furthermore, it all must be demonstrated by the power of the Holy Spirit in order for the world to see the full picture.

Question: How can you bring the Good News to those in you sphere of influence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in The Church, The Gospel

 

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