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When is the Gospel not the Gospel?

Good NewsIt’s always important to note the first time a word is used in the Scripture. It helps us to understand what the Holy Spirit means when He uses it elsewhere in the Bible. Sometimes preachers call it the “law of first use.”

Do you have any idea the first place in the New Testament when the word Gospel is used? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not in the Gospels. That’s because the Gospels weren’t the first books written. The Gospel of Mark was probably the fourth book written; which is close, but not the first to use that word.

Actually, the word Gospel is first used in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. This was the first of Paul’s epistles. He was writing to a young church he started with only a brief stay in the city of Thessalonica. Here’s what he wrote them in the opening verses of his letter.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

That’s a very interesting comment to make. The first time the word Gospel is used in the Scripture, it means more than just words. It’s a complete presentation of the power of Christ. Paul is very clear in saying that it’s not just words, but includes power, the Holy Spirit, and conviction.

It’s unfortunate that in our day there are those who think the Gospel is simply a cleverly crafted message designed to convince a sinner to get saved. When we believe that, we’re only working with a small part of the Gospel. For it to be the true Gospel of Jesus Christ there must also be a demonstration of power.

What’s power? In natural terms, power is the ability of something to produce change. If nothing changes, then there’s no power.

Paul tells us here that when the true Gospel came forth – things changed. It’s not like many of our meetings today where we say, “That was a powerful message.” By that we meant that we were stirred emotionally or felt goose bumps.

The Gospel has to be a Word from God, not just a convincing argument. When I speak what God is saying, then the Holy Spirit is free to confirm the message. People are convicted by the Word and their lives are forever changed.

We need to get back to being a people who spend time listening to their God. Then, once we’ve heard His voice, we need to step out and speak what He’s saying to us. This is the true essence of the Gospel. This is what will change our society for Christ.

Question: What will it take for us to spend quality time listening to the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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The Power of Christ #powerofChrist

LightningIn my last post I talked about my struggle with legalism that I didn’t even know I had.  I was like so many others who “stand on the promises.”  They are trusting in the power of the law instead of the power of God working in them.

Then again, there are other Christians who have thrown out the whole idea altogether.  They’ve tried to live up to the requirements of the promises and failed.  They’ve come to the conclusion that they’ll never gain the blessings of the promises.  So what they’ve done is to start living for themselves and chase after the things of the world.  Unfortunately, if you throw out the promises altogether, and don’t remain in Christ, you’ll find yourself unplugged from the source of our power.

If my attitude is that I don’t want to read the Bible or go to church, then in essence I don’t love God.  This is because love is an action, and I’m not showing it toward the Lord.  You can say, “I love God” all you want, but that only means that you have good feelings toward Him.

That’s usually how the world defines the word “love.”  In that sense you can love God without any of those things.  However, I’m talking about true love – an action where all your heart, soul, mind, and strength are involved.

It’s clear from Scripture that there are two forms of power – the Spirit and the law.  Both of them are strong forces for change, but the power of the Spirit is the greatest.  We also know that trying to fulfill the requirements of the promises is a form of legalism.

Under the New Covenant, the promises serve two purposes, of which both are important.  The blessings of the promises show us what God enjoys doing for us.  The requirement side of the promise shows us what we can do to please God.

The real question we need to deal with is how did Jesus operate in the power?  We will start by seeing how Jesus taught about the power.

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
1 John 3:8

This is a simple yet profound truth.  One of the main purposes of Christ coming to the earth was to destroy the devil’s work.  The Lord wanted to end Satan’s reign of terror on this planet.  To do that Christ would have to wield a power much greater than that of the devil.

It’s this power that I want to talk about in these posts.  Christ is our example.  If I can grasp how He walked in the power of God, then I can get the same results by following His principles.

Question: What works of the devil need to be dealt with in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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Promises Fulfilled – The Rest of the Story

GrapesI’ve been posting about how Christ has fulfilled the requirements of the promises for us.  Now, by faith, we’re free to walk in the blessings as adopted sons of God.

But there’s more that we need to grasp about this truth.  Unfortunately, the response of most Christians in the USA to this teaching is, “Great!  I don’t need to do anything to receive God’s blessing.  I don’t need to tithe or go to church or anything.”

Please understand that I didn’t say that.  What I said was that Christ fulfilled the requirements of the promises.  The blessing side of the promise shows what God wants to do for us as sons.

However, there’s also a reason for studying the requirement side of the promise.  The question at this point is, as a Christian, why do I need to know the requirements?

It’s the requirements of the promises that show us what pleases God.  Remember:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:7-8

We fulfill the requirements of the promises simply because we love God.  I know the truth about Christ fulfilling the promise, but I continue to tithe because I love God and He deserves ALL my money.  I read the Word of God because I want to know Him better.  I go to church because He meets with me and the body of believers there.

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
John 15:6

If you’re not remaining in Christ in this love relationship, then you have no access to the power of Christ.  You may not like this, but it’s the truth.  Christians ask dumb questions that show their lack of maturity all the time.

“Do I really have to pray every day?”

“Do believers have to tithe?”

Let me explain to you the nature of these questions.  Most believers have no idea about the implications of what they’re saying.

What kind of person would ask the question, “If I get married, do I really have to kiss my wife?”  It’s simple – a five-year-old would ask that question.  Only someone who is not mature enough to understand the beauty and intimacy of the marriage relationship would think that kissing a wife would be “yucky.”

The very fact that you’re asking those questions show that you’re an immature Christian who doesn’t yet understand the intimacy of our love relationship with the Lord.  A mature believer wants to serve and please God no matter if there is a blessing promised or not.

Question: Are there ways that you’re serving God regardless of any promise?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Power of God, The Church

 

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